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Title: Old New England Traits
Author: Lunt, George, 1803-1885 [Editor]
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  OLD NEW ENGLAND TRAITS

  EDITED BY

  GEORGE LUNT

  ... this story's actually true.
  If any person doubt it, I appeal
  To history, tradition, and to facts,
  To newspapers, whose truth all know and feel.
                                         BYRON

  NEW YORK
  PUBLISHED BY HURD AND HOUGHTON
  Cambridge: the Riverside Press
  1873



  Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by
  GEORGE LUNT,
  in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

  RIVERSIDE, CAMBRIDGE:
  STEREOTYPED AND PRINTED BY
  _H. O. HOUGHTON AND COMPANY_.



INTRODUCTION.


The Editor of this little volume does not deem it incumbent upon him to
explain in what way the author's manuscript came into his possession. He
hopes it may be enough for him to say, that the writer believed himself
to be the only person whose memory retained most of the incidents and
anecdotes herein recorded; and a long and familiar acquaintance with his
character enables the Editor to state, that entire credence is due to his
narrative of facts, written down as occurring within his own knowledge
and to his relation of whatever he alleges himself to have derived from
others. A slight veil of mystery seems to have been originally thrown
over the story; especially in regard to the names of persons; but, as all
who are familiar with the locality will at once recognize its general
features, the Editor has thought it best, for the benefit of others not
so well informed, to make all proper explanations on this point in the
Index.

Sometimes, New England has been spoken of as devoid of the elements of
romance; but perhaps this idea may be owing to the fact, that the means
of presenting a different aspect of the case have not been sufficiently
investigated. A similar impression has prevailed in respect to Roman
history and literature, whether fabulous or otherwise; and the fathers of
New England, at least, have been thought to have exhibited some of the
traits, especially the simplicity and severity of character, which
distinguished those more ancient worthies, whose names and deeds have
been so long famous. But without making other citations, I may remark,
that I am scarcely acquainted with a poem more thoroughly romantic in
conception and sentiment, than "Gallus," the tenth eclogue of Virgil;
and Macaulay, in his "Lays of Ancient Rome," has turned some of its
legends to fine poetical account. Where can be found, for instance, a
prettier, or more suggestive picture, than the passage in his "Virginia,"
which some inspired painter might make immortal upon canvas, as it is in
verse:--

  "With her small tablets in her hand, and her satchel on
          her arm,
   Home she went bounding from the school, nor dreamed
          of shame or harm."

Perhaps, the solemnities of the colonial history of New England may have
overshadowed much of whatever poetical interest might be discovered in
its private annals. It depends upon the reader, whether the present
narrative may be thought in some measure to qualify the imputation in
question.

                                                                 G. L.


OLD NEW ENGLAND TRAITS.



CHAPTER I.


It was the winter of 18--, between fifty and sixty years ago. Certainly
the winters of New England began earlier and were more severe than they
have seemed at a later period. After the fervid heat of summer has become
subdued by the progressive changes of the season, no atmosphere could be
clearer, purer, more exhilarating than the prevailing tone of our October
days, and this kindly influence, as if by way of preparing the human
frame for the gradual approach of winter, generally extends, with
occasional stormy intermissions, through November, and often very far
into the frosty domain of December itself. And such snow-storms as we
once endured! It may be alleged, that distance of time forbids accuracy
of comparison, and that masses of snow, which appeared vast to a child,
would not seem so immense to a full-grown man, and were really no more
huge than some of those with which winter nowadays envelopes the ground.
But facts within my memory do not admit of such an explanation, for I
distinctly recollect the driving storm which continued for days and piled
its accumulating heaps against the front of our dwelling-place, so as
entirely to cover the windows of the lower story of the house, and to
rise above the main door which was of ordinary height, and that at length
we were released from this imprisonment by means of an archway to that
entrance, dug through the drift by the friendly efforts of an opposite
neighbor.[1]

Our deliverer was a superannuated seaman; inspired partly, no doubt, by
the good-heartedness formerly, at least, thought to be characteristic of
that class of men, and, partly, by respect for the memory of my father,
who had been dead for some years, in the early prime of life, leaving
behind him the best of reputations as a shipmaster and a man. Perhaps Tom
Trudge had, at some time, sailed under him. I well remember the
triumphant air with which this ancient mariner introduced himself into
the kitchen, where all the family was assembled, doffing his tarpaulin,
flourishing his shovel, and cutting one or two capers, in token of his
hilarity at the accomplishment of his somewhat arduous job. Of course,
there were profuse thanks and congratulations on the occasion; but I
recollect only, that, after the second glass of grog furnished by my
mother,--a refreshment to which Tom was only too partial,--he executed
another spring from the floor, snapped his fingers and cried, "Tired,
ma'am!--not a bit of it! For all I've done to-day, by the blessed
binnacle I should think nothing at all of jumping over a meetin-us,--yes,
a meetin-us, ma'am!" to the amazement, at the idea of such a feat, of
certainly all the younger fry who were present at the ceremony.

The town in which we lived was one of the very oldest of the New England
settlements. Its situation is uncommonly beautiful, upon a slope
descending from a moderately elevated ridge towards the bank of a noble
river, which of late years has furnished more motive power to various
manufacturing establishments in the towns and villages, which have sprung
up on its borders, than any other stream in the world. At the time of
which I write, there was not a mill throughout its whole extent. It is
told, that Louis Philippe, when a fugitive in this country, in his youth,
passing up the road which leads mostly along the margin of the river to a
point where the first falls interrupt the navigation, pronounced the
scenery the most beautiful he had ever seen. The river was then chiefly
famous for the rafts of admirable timber which it sent down from the
primeval forests above, for the construction of the unsurpassed ships
built near the town, and for the commerce flourishing upon its bosom and
extending to every quarter of the globe. It was idle enough, in
comparison, at a later period.

Early in the present century, and for a long series of years in the past,
no town on the American coast surpassed it in commercial enterprise and
activity. The habits and traditions of the place were well calculated to
nurse a hardy race of seamen, and their reputation for skill and courage
was well known throughout the maritime world. Persons are very apt to
look at some direct circumstance, nearest at hand, for the cause of
events, which may after all result from much more remote contingencies.
So, at first, in the days of the declining trade of the town, they said
the obstruction to its commerce was owing to the sand-bar at the mouth of
the river. But the bar had been there from time immemorial; and though it
is true that modern-built vessels, with their cargoes, could not pass
that barrier, as ships of lesser tonnage were formerly accustomed to do,
yet the main cause for this decay of business was to be found in the
growth of the capital of the State, and the greater facilities for the
transaction of business which exist in larger than in smaller places.

But the bar itself was always of very dangerous passage in boisterous
weather, and often the daring pilots of the station, than whom none upon
the coast were more competent and courageous, were exposed to extreme
peril, in their small craft, in returning to the river, when they had
been on the look-out for inward-bound vessels in the bay.

It so happened that a schooner in which I was a passenger, when a
youngster, was detained outside the bar, and was likely to be detained
for several hours, waiting for the tide to make. A young pilot,
accompanied by his still younger brother, came alongside in their
whale-boat, and having some acquaintance with me invited me to sail with
them to town; and, having been some time absent from home, I gladly
accepted their offer. Their boat was under a single low sail. The breeze
was fresh and the day fair, though I could not but be aware, as we bowled
along towards the bar, that a retreating storm had left some indications
of its past presence in the tossing foam that sprang upwards as the waves
dashed upon that treacherous heap of shifting sand. The pilot sat in the
stern-sheets of the dancing boat, steering steadily with an oar. His
brother tended the sail, and I was crouched amidships. As we approached
nearer the scene of commotion, our younger companion assumed a station
in the bow of the boat and began to sound with an oar. This looked a
little formidable to a landsman; and soon turning his head in the
interval of hastily pushing his implement into the water, the bowsman
called out to his brother, "Joe, are you going to try it?" Joe made no
sign, but steered steadily on. Again and again the sounding oar went
rapidly down, and I suppose at last to the bottom, and again the young
man cried out with renewed energy, "Joe, are you going to try it?" Joe
uttered no word, but chewing his quid, looked steadfastly forward. In a
moment a heavy wave struck the boat, drenching us plentifully, but not
filling her, and bounding up, staggering a little, she dashed on, and
with another like slap or two, we were over and in fairly smooth water.
Had the boat struck bottom, she would have been instantly dashed to
pieces and we should have met the sad fate of others who, before and
since, have been drowned and lost to sight forever in that seething
tide.

In a conversation with a very eminent English novelist, of profounder
skill and more permanent fame, in my opinion, than any other since Scott,
he expressed his surprise at the solid aspect of the city of Boston, in
which we had met, on the day after his arrival in this country, upon his
first lecturing tour. He had enjoyed the best opportunities of viewing
"men and cities," not only in Europe, but in various parts of the farther
East. I took the liberty of replying that Boston had been growing nearly
two centuries and a half, and inquired if he expected to see wigwams, or
even those slighter fabrics which betoken the earlier stages of advancing
colonization. He said, "No, of course not; but it had quite as
substantial an appearance as an English city." But it is to be remembered
that the persons who came to this country, at first, and from time to
time, afterwards, were already civilized, and brought with them and
transmitted to their descendants much of the knowledge and many of the
habits, peculiarities, and even the traditions of their ancestors "at
home." Our town, too, looked old; though far from being so substantially
built as Boston.

In fact, while reading the fragment of Scott's autobiography of his
earlier days, and Dean Ramsay's "Reminiscences," one might almost think
that their descriptions of character and manners, in so ancient a city as
Edinburgh, were in many respects but a recapitulation of popular ways and
even of personal oddities in our own respectable American town.
Especially, the great novelist's vivid narrative of the desperate street
conflicts between the lads of the several quarters of the "auld town,"
revives many boyish recollections. In my youth, the division was into
Northenders and Southenders; but as our own residence was in the central
part of the town, we stood, as it were, between two fires. The conflicts
usually took place in the winter, when the snow was on the ground, and
though heartily engaged in, and sometimes quite too rough for play, were
generally good-natured enough to avoid any very serious danger to life or
limb. In the higher schools, the lads were drawn from every quarter of
the town; but upon dismissal for the day, or upon the afternoons of
Wednesday and Saturday, when no school was kept, the partisans of the
several sections offered combat which was seldom refused. The usual
weapons were snow-balls, which were sometimes, I regret to say, dipped in
water and frozen over night, and kept in some secure place to await the
expected battle, and occasionally a pebble, the missile commonly used by
the Scottish combatants, was inserted,--a practice which was almost
universally condemned. Very seldom did we come to a hand-fight, for a
spirited "rush," when either party felt strong enough for it, was almost
always followed by a rapid retreat on the other side. But woe to the
luckless stripling whose headlong courage carried him far in advance of
his companions; for upon a sudden turn of affairs he was a captive, and
down in an instant, and mercilessly "scrubbed" with snow by a dozen ready
hands, until the rallying host of his compatriots advanced vigorously to
the rescue. The normal alliance of us middle-men was with the
Southenders, though a good deal rougher than ourselves; and in times of
truce a solitary boy would walk a little gingerly through their quarter,
as errands or family occasions led him that way. But the principal
commercial interests centered in those parts of the town, and if, upon
the breaking out of determined warfare, we could secure, in the capacity
of leader, the services of some lubberly boy who had made a voyage, even
a mere coasting trip, to sea, though I remember that these were
sometimes far less adventurous in the field than those who had no
experience of the perilous deep, the issue of the contest was not for a
moment doubtful. The forces of our adversaries melted away, like the snow
with which they fought, at the very presence of a champion supposed to be
of such redoubted prowess. The dependence of those adverse combatants was
rather upon some of the younger hangers-on at the ship-yards, in their
territory, for such a casual auxiliary. Sometimes, the elements of
military skill would be displayed. While the two forces were closely
engaged, a flanking party would make a sudden rush up some short
by-street, and then the complete demoralization and panic-flight of the
warriors thus newly assailed was something truly disastrous to behold.

Of course, we enjoyed the ordinary boyish sports of boating, swimming,
and skating in the season for it; or, of a pleasant afternoon, would roam
away "over the hills," as the phrase ran, huckleberrying, perhaps, or
gathering penny-royal and other wild herbs for the old folks at home; to
be dried and reserved for future occasions. For, in those days, a garret
would hardly be considered complete, without bunches of these simples
hanging from the beams by strings, or stored away in paper-bags. In the
fall of the year, we had another resource, long since interdicted by the
owners of farms in the neighborhood of populous towns. This was the
pleasure of nutting; for the urchins of those days regarded these kinds
of fruit, growing on trees in the fields, as a sort of _feræ natura_ and
free to every passer-by; though the more surly proprietors, even then,
took much pains to circumvent and capture the lads, as they returned with
their poles for beating the branches and with their loaded bags, borne by
two or three of them, hanging by the middle across those implements.
Sometimes, predatory bands proceeded in force and defied the farmer on
his own ground. The story was told of one luckless individual who went
nutting alone and was caught and imprisoned, for a time, in the cellar of
the farm-house, but mischievously contrived to set all the taps of the
cider-barrels running, before he was released. These excursions led us
often to the Devil's Den, an excavation in an abandoned ledge of
limestone, in a solitary situation at some distance from the town, and
guarded, now as then, by three rather spectral-looking Lombardy poplars,
which to us boys had a sort of mystic and undefined significance. Here we
procured bits of serpentine, interspersed with veins of _rag-stone_, as
we denominated asbestos, which, strangely enough, we used to chew. I
suppose that no boy ever went to that place alone, and a sort of solemn
ceremony attended his first visit with his older playmates, to a scene
bearing an appellation ominous enough to call up every vague dread of his
youthful heart. The approach on these occasions was rather circuitous,
through the pastures, until an elevated mass of stone, standing quite
solitary, was reached, designated as "Pulpit Rock." To the summit of
this, the neophyte was required to climb, and there to repeat some
accustomed formula, I fear not very reverent, by way of initiation, and
supposed to be of power to avert any malign influences to which the
unprepared intruder upon the premises of the nominal lord of the domain
might otherwise be subjected. For these youngsters the ordinary means of
education were abundantly supplied, and the girls, too, had their Academy
for those who aspired to something beyond the common range; and when, at
a later period, I became conversant with their circle, I must say that I
have never known young ladies of better manners or more cultivated minds.
As an evidence of more expansive benevolence than usual, and of
profounder interest in the affairs of the great world abroad, I remember
that when the class of students in Goldsmith's Ancient History came to
recitation, one young lady burst into a torrent of tears. The astonished
teacher anxiously inquired into the cause of her emotion. In the midst of
her sobs she ejaculated, "Oh, that good man, Socrates! To think they
should have treated him so!" She was finally soothed; but considering
that the incident in question was of a rather remote date, this
ebullition of feeling evinced a generous sympathy with a victim of past
injustice, truly worthy of a philanthropic mind.

It is still a town of stately mansions upon its principal street, and one
more beautiful can scarcely be imagined. The magnificent elms, of the
graceful American kind, which line its borders, have always been reckoned
a feature of extraordinary beauty. Of late years, special means for
supplying and preserving this elegant and useful kind of embellishment of
the streets have been provided by the liberal bequest, for this purpose,
of Mr. John Bromfield, a native of the town, but long a respected
merchant at the capital of the State. A conspicuous house standing upon a
gentle elevation, at some distance from the street, with pleasant grounds
in its front and rear, was appropriately named by its original proprietor
"Mount Rural," though not, perhaps, with the most exact observance of the
requirements of grammatical construction. Still, it has some authority
for being considered idiomatic, for does not "Pilgrim's Progress" tell us
of the "Palace Beautiful?" And doubtless many other instances might be
cited of the substitution of an adjective for a noun. At all events, the
worthy owner, who built his house in the most approved style of former
New England architecture, spacious, square, and with projecting windows
in the roof, made some pretensions to classical allusion; for cultivating
extensive gardens in the rear of his dwelling, he placed for an
inscription on his front wall,--

            "Miraturque novas frondes, et non sua poma,"--

a citation which, it is to be feared, would be taken rather as
encouragement to mischievous urchins, if any of them understood it,
rather than as a warning to abstain from the fruit.

Near the extremity of the opposite quarter of the town still stands an
ancient edifice of solid stone, with a couple of stories of porch of the
same material, approached by a lane, bordered with trees, leading some
distance from the highway, and constituting, with some modern additions,
the dwelling-place of a considerable farm. It boasts an age of more than
two centuries, as appears by the figures above its entrance, and was
apparently built for defence, when precautions against Indian incursions
were thought necessary, though afterwards used as a powder-house; and
tradition has it that, on one occasion, an explosion took place by
night, which blew away a part of the side wall, lifted the bed on which a
negro woman, the slave of the occupant, was asleep, bore her safely
across the road, and planted her, bed and all, upon the spreading
branches of an apple-tree, without injury. An early owner of the place
was the ancestor of one of the recent Presidents of the United States,
and it was known, until quite a modern period, as the PIERCE Farm.

Not many years ago, there still remained at the corner of a street,
between the points just designated, one of those ancient houses not
common in this country, the second story resting on heavy beams, which
showed themselves in the outside walls, and the walls of the long, low
dwelling filled in with a coat of dark plaster braced by wooden
cross-pieces, like those of Shakespeare's birthplace at Stratford. The
handsome houses before alluded to were the residences chiefly of
merchants, or sea-captains, who had retired from their maritime or
commercial occupations with a competence, or of prosperous professional
persons.[2] But a competence in those frugal days was an insignificant
sum in comparison with the fortunes of our own time, scarcely approaching
the annual income of the shoddy-masters, who now regulate the avenues of
social and so-called aristocratic life. Indeed, I was once informed by an
old inhabitant, that the richest person in the town, near the close of
the last century, was assessed upon only ten thousand dollars' worth of
personal property. But I think there must be some mistake in this
statement, unless the rate of taxation was exceedingly low; for this same
prosperous merchant devoted twenty times as much as that reputed capital
to certain pious uses, during his protracted life-time, and still left
forty times as much at his decease. Doubtless in those better days, the
inevitable "rates" ("death and rates," they used to say, "were certain")
were so small as to press but lightly upon the incomes of individuals in
moderate circumstances, and the means of getting at the exact measure of
a man's worldly "worth," had not reached their present degree of
perfection. Indeed I may state, upon unquestionable authority, that, late
in the first quarter of the present century, a highly respected trader of
the town, who lived genteelly and was taxed upon a supposed capital of
eighteen thousand dollars, waited upon the assessors and blandly told
them, "Gentlemen, I have been more than usually prosperous the last
year, and am willing you should tax me upon an additional thousand."
Such combined integrity and disinterestedness was the theme of universal
commendation; but when the old gentleman went to another reckoning a few
years afterwards, his heirs had the benefit of an estate nearer one
hundred thousand dollars in value, than the limited capital which had
contributed its quota to the public burdens. In a word, I have heard my
Aunt Judith say, that in her youth it was usual for respectable young
women to take service with more thriving neighbors or friends, for the
annual allowance of their board and a single calico gown, at four and
sixpence a yard,--as the price was before mills were established on our
own ground.

I cannot help referring more particularly to some of the families of the
town, who imparted to it a well-founded reputation, not surpassed, if
equaled, by that of any town or city in the land; for instance, there
were the Lowells, who gave name, afterwards, to that wonderful city of
spindles, which enjoys as world-wide a standing in the annals of
manufacturing enterprise as the old-world Manchester of a long-anterior
date, and one of whom, amid the desolate ruins of Luxor, struck by the
hand of fatal disease, conceived the idea of establishing that noble
Institute which bears his name, and will convey it to future grateful
generations; a name, too, which has so resounded in the popular
literature of the day. Then, there were the Jacksons, famous in mechanics
and in two of the learned professions; Charles Jackson, the erudite and
upright judge, and James Jackson, one of those skillful and truly
benevolent physicians, whose memory is still in the hearts of many
surviving patients. The Tyngs, too, resided there, long honorably
connected with colonial history and still represented by descendants of
national repute. Amongst other remarkable individuals was Jacob Perkins,
the famous inventor, who at an advanced age ended his useful career with
no little foreign celebrity in the great city of the world. I have read
lately of his successful exhibition of his wonderful steam-gun, in the
presence of the Duke of Wellington and other competent judges of the
experiment, and know not what national prejudice, perhaps, or other
casual reason, prevented its adoption.[3] In science, too, we had
Master Nicholas Pike, an ancient magistrate, whose arithmetic held its
ground throughout the country, until it was superseded by that of Master
Michael Walsh, which received the high commendation of so capital a
judge, in matters of calculation, as the old land-surveyor and finally
head of the nation, Washington. Master Walsh was an Irishman by birth,
though "caught young," as Dr. Johnson remarked, to account for any
distinction acquired by natives of Scotland; and he displayed much of
that impulsive temperament imputed to the people of Erin's Green Isle. He
dressed in the old style, his gray hair gathered into a queue, and
wearing top-boots to the last. He was an excellent classical scholar, as
well as mathematician. The pupils he prepared for college did justice to
his instructions, and some have acquired great eminence in the several
professions and in the conduct of important national affairs. As an
instance of his patriotic attachment to his adopted country, upon
casually meeting, late in life, a certain writer of the town, after a
cordial salutation, he added with a slight dash of the brogue, "I thank
ye for the Red and the Blue!" The young person was a little taken aback,
not remembering the allusion, for a moment, when the old gentleman
repeated emphatically,--"The Red and the Blue, ye know--Tom Campbell." It
was in reference to a couple of stanzas, addressed to the United States
by that great lyric poet, scarcely equaled in his day, namely:--

               "United States! your banner wears
                  Two emblems: one of fame;
                Alas! the other that it bears
                  Reminds us of your shame!

               "The white man's liberty in types
                  Stands blazoned by your stars:
                But what's the meaning of your stripes?
                  They mean your negroes' scars."

To this the American had retorted:--

                        "TO THE ENGLISH FLAG.

           "England! whence came each glowing hue,
              That tints yon flag of 'meteor' light,[4]--
            The streaming red, the deeper blue,
              Crossed with the moonbeam's pearly white?

           "The blood and bruise,--the _blue_ and _red_,--
              Let Asia's groaning millions speak!
            The _white_,--it tells the color fled
              From starving Erin's pallid cheek!"

The verses were at first circulated as above set down. Campbell
afterwards altered the two first lines of the second stanza into:--

                "Your standard's constellation types
                 White freedom by its stars," etc.,--

impairing it, as some will think, both in force and in whatever poetical
expression it may have originally had. Poets are apt to make similar
mistakes, frittering away the first glow of thought and language, in
revision. Has not Tennyson thus injured "The ride of the six hundred?"
and did not Campbell himself half spoil "Hohenlinden," by taming its
phraseology down into a supposed superfluous accuracy? For example, he
first wrote,--

            "'Tis morn, but scarce yon lurid sun
             Can pierce the war-clouds, rolling dun," etc.

It occurred to him, or some "stop-watch critic" suggested, that the sun
itself was not actually "lurid," on that celebrated occasion, and he
accordingly changed the expression to "level," thus signifying a mere
natural phenomenon; and, besides the sacrifice of a fine poetical
expression, forgetting that the sun must have appeared actually "lurid"
through the interposition of "the war-clouds, rolling dun." Nor is this
the only instance of misapplied fastidiousness in that splendid and
stirring piece.

Then, there was the Rev. Dr. Spring, father of that celebrated clergyman,
Dr. Gardiner Spring, of New York. He had been a chaplain in the army of
the Revolution; and when I, as a boy, pulled off my cap to him in the
street, I fancied there was something a little military in his polite
salute in return. The good Doctor held to what were called Hopkinsian
tenets, a special form of strict orthodoxy; and it was alleged that,
differing from the ordinary practice of religious people in the town,
and construing literally the record of the Creation, "The evening and the
morning were the first day,"--the Saturday evening was observed with
primitive strictness in the family, while on Sunday evening, after
sunset, the excellent matron assumed her knitting-work, or attended to
whatever secular occupation she chose. I have often thought, and it seems
likely, that the name of Swett--that of one of the most eminent and
excellent physicians of his day, in our community, and who in fact fell a
sacrifice to the faithful discharge of his professional duty--was the
same as Schwedt, borne by the Prince de Schwedt, well known at the court
of Frederick of Prussia (so called) the Great. The good Doctor examined
the throat of a yellow fever patient, in a vessel lying at quarantine
ground in the river, and inhaling his infectious breath, went home
declaring he had taken the disease, of which he shortly died. The efforts
and liberality of his son, the late Colonel Samuel Swett, in promoting
the establishment of the Public Library of the town, though himself long
a resident in the capital of the State, will forever endear his memory to
the inhabitants. The daughter of another distinguished physician, Dr.
Sawyer, was Mrs. George Lee, who gained no little reputation by her
"Lives of the Ancient Painters," and especially by a book which attained
great popularity under the title of "Three Experiments of Living." I
should do great injustice to a list of noted personages--to some of whom
allusion is made elsewhere in these pages, and which might be extended,
if consistent with the objects of this work, were I to omit mention of a
lady, Miss Hannah F. Gould, whose poetical productions gained her
well-deserved applause and many friends, and some of whose highly
pleasing verses still retain their hold upon public esteem. Reflectively,
too, we might claim some share in the distinction of the most popular
American poet of our own day; for the direct ancestors of Longfellow
were natives of our immediate vicinage. I had no intention, certainly, of
offering any tribute to the living in these memorials of the past; but
one name inevitably suggests itself, better known on 'Change, in London,
than in the place of his birth. I speak of William Wheelwright, a lad, at
the period to which these sketches refer, long resident abroad, though
occasionally brought home by the obligations and affections of family
ties, to whose enterprise, and arduous, untiring pursuit of his object
are owing steam navigation and railway lines in the southern part of this
Continent, and to whose praise the whole South American coast will
respond.

There were others and many, of high personal character and local
reputation, and not a few of strongly marked characteristics, whose
names, perhaps, would scarcely sound familiar to modern ears; but I
cannot pass over one wealthy merchant, distinguished for his strong
common sense and decided individuality, as well as for a success in
business scarcely equaled in this country, in his day,--the well-known
William Bartlett, to whose judicious bounty the chief theological
seminary of the State and its principal Academy for the instruction of
youth owe so much toward the assurance of their permanent foundation.

Nor should the memory of Oliver Putnam fail of a record, who, long absent
from his native town, provided by his will for a generous bequest, upon
which a Free School of the highest character has been long established.
Nor should due tribute be forgotten in honor of George Peabody, who,
remembering those days of his youth which were passed in acquiring habits
of business in the place, distinguished its Public Library by a
munificent gift.

There had been many other men of marked character and great local
influence: Tracys, Daltons, Greenleafs, Davenports, Hoopers, Bradburys,
Johnsons, Coffins, Bromfields, Crosses; and many more, doubtless, might
be thought worthy of mention. Among those named above, Nathaniel Tracy
was one of the wealthiest merchants of his day, elsewhere referred to in
this narrative as suffering immense losses by his advances to the
government, when its needs were great and its credit was low, and in
other ways. Tristram Dalton was a Senator of the United States from
Massachusetts, in the First Congress under the Constitution; and
Theophilus Bradbury, afterwards appointed to the bench of the supreme
court of the State, was a member of the Federal House of Representatives
during a part of Washington's administration. Indeed, from some of the
early inhabitants of the town are descended not a few of the principal
families in the capital of the State; and its representatives, by some
tie of original or later connection, are scattered throughout the whole
country.

I linger somewhat longer and lovingly upon this preliminary part of
whatever story I may have to tell, because I am aware of nothing in the
literature of New England which furnishes precisely similar
reminiscences, and because pictures of past manners, if truthfully
portrayed, can hardly fail to be both interesting and useful. We heard
plentiful stories, in our youth, of a higher style of living in colonial
days, of coaches kept by the upper class of citizens; of their slaves,
whom we knew in their emancipated condition as gardeners and waiters in
general; of the cocked hats, the gold-embroidered garments, the laced
ruffles of the gentlemen, and the highly ornamented, but rather stiff
garniture in which the ladies with their powdered heads saw fit to array
themselves, as they now present themselves to us on the living canvas of
Copley. It was in the handsome residence of Mr. Dalton, long after his
decease, that I saw hangings of gilded morocco leather on the walls of
the principal room,--a substitute for the wall-paper in common use, and
which I have never seen or heard of in any other instance, in the United
States.

Our collector of the customs was peculiarly one of this class of
gentlemen of the old school. He was a person of very warm temperament and
of remarkable characteristics; an ardent Democrat, who, upon the
accession of President Jefferson, had succeeded Colonel W----, the first
collector of the port, appointed by Washington, under whom he had served
with distinction in the Revolutionary War. The residence of the latter,
and the office of customs itself, in those simpler days, were in the
house which was afterwards the birthplace of the writer of these
sketches. To that war the successor of the old soldier principally owed a
large fortune, which he had accumulated as the result of his privateering
adventures; and it is said that the prizes came in so plentifully, that
once he lifted up his hand and declared, "O Lord, it is enough!" However
this may be, it is certain that not long afterwards his riches gradually
vanished, and he was compelled to seek and obtained the office upon which
he supported his declining days. Though "aristocratic" enough in his own
personal character and demeanor, he was not naturally in much favor with
the grandees of the old Federal town; but they stood in awe of him,
nevertheless; for he had been very rich, and in his less prosperous days
was still a person of the most impulsive and resolute spirit. His
appearance in public was very marked. His person was manly and his
countenance singularly striking. He dressed in black, his small-clothes
terminating in white cotton stockings down to his gouty foot. On his
white head, decorated with a queue, was his three-cornered hat. He seemed
to take a pride in walking up the principal business street of the town,
at the time of high "'Change," and paying attention to no one, to utter
his not always very conciliatory thoughts aloud, in regard to his
contemporaries and matters in general, as he threw out sideways the gouty
foot aforesaid, on his way to the one o'clock dinner, which was the
fashion of the time.

But the Revolutionary War exhausted the fortunes of many prosperous men
of the day; and the story is told of one very rich merchant, who could
drive in his own carriage several days' journey--when such a journey over
difficult roads was hardly so much as could be accomplished by "the
hollow, pampered jades of Asia,"--and sleep in his own house every night.
He lent immense sums, for the time, to the Revolutionary government,
received what he could recover in depreciated currency, and failed. At
the period of my narrative, the country was suffering from the
consequences of another war, and the once active commerce of the old town
was reduced to the lowest ebb. It was then that active emigration began
from the sterile soil of New England--since rendered so much more
productive by intelligent cultivation--to the fertile region known as
"The Ohio;" just as, not much more than half a century ago, people talked
of "The Coos country" in New Hampshire, and within a few years we spoke
of the "Far West," brought at length within the compass of ordinary
travel and civilization.

As a picture of the rigors and extremities, I fear only too common, of
early New England life, among its hardy agricultural population, I
present extracts of a letter received from a venerable friend, a few
years ago, who from the depths of poverty, having emigrated in his youth
to wild lands not very far West, had risen to comparative wealth, which
he devoted to useful purposes. In fact, the son of an extremely poor
Vermont farmer became, by his own energy and integrity, the possessor of
a competent fortune, which enabled him, with views far surpassing the
immediate claims of this transitory world, to build a church and to
establish a flourishing educational institution, destined long, I trust,
to dispense infinite blessings to future generations. Thus, after some
preliminary matter, he proceeds to say, under date of March 16, 1866:--

  "My father was one of the poor men of Vermont. When I was a small
  boy I have pealed many a birch broom for a sixpence.[5] My Father
  could get one shilling for what he made, take them on his back,
  carry them four or five miles, sell them, bring home a little meal,
  or a little bread, sometimes a half bushel Potatoes. My mother
  would go two or three miles, and do a washing, bring home at night
  a loaf of wry bread, and a small peace was all we had for supper
  and a smaller Piece in the morning. Sometimes we was allowed one
  Potato roasted in the ashes--no Hearth in the old log-House. My
  mother has stirred butter in a tea-cup with the point of a knife,
  to keep her little children from starving. My Father had about half
  acre of oats--poor fence--the old cow got in the oats and died.
  Then came the pinch--we as little children had to flee to the woods
  to get something to sustain life--no schools, no meetings--nothing
  but hunger and despair. I lived with my Father until I was
  twenty-one years old. After I was sixteen my Father improved a
  little in living. When I was a little over twenty-one I got me a
  wife--we was both Poor--three knifes, three forks, three teacups,
  three chairs, a poor bed--hardly could we keep house. But our
  courage was good--my wife always standing by me, through all my
  trouble and trials--shoulder to shoulder--heart & hand, from the
  day of our marriage until the day of her Death. No man never had a
  better wife than I had--always kind to the Poor and to all her
  relations. She is now in the Grave Yard, and my judgment is, she is
  well prepared for the next world--and for the good feeling I have
  had for her for over fifty-six years, I have Erected a monument
  over her grave weighing 7 tons, and twenty-one feet high--it is a
  splendid monument--cost me over $600.00.

  "On the Eighth day of last July the Bishop confirmed 28 in our
  Church at the ---- everything in good order--the singing was
  complete--my Voice is still heard above all the singers and I still
  stand at the head of the choir--I am only 77.--On the 16th day of
  last October, Previous notice being given, the wardens and Vestry
  met at my house--one minister was also present, a Lawyer being
  called to do the business. At 2 o'clock, P. M. I commenced handing
  over Deeds of land, Buildings, Bonds, mortgages, money & furniture,
  to the amount of nineteen thousand and five hundred Dollars, the
  use and interest only to be used for the Church and the ----
  Institute; but in case there should be a failure of the Church &
  school, for seven years, at any one time, then the Property to go
  back to my Heirs.

  "I have been schooling from 7 to 11 Poor children, yearly--I am now
  not schooling as many--my school is doing well--we have a good
  minister and he is a good Preacher. The Church is doing well. I am
  now commencing one more building, 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and
  three stories high, for the convenience of more room for Boarders
  in the ---- Institute.

  "I wrung more Bells at the fall of Richmond than any man in the
  United States, which they was all purchased with one man's money--7
  was the number, 4 large ones & 3 small ones--it is true I was a
  little opposed to the War--but no matter. The Brick Church and the
  Buildings I built for the ---- Institute now with Interest cost me
  now over $43.000. They are all Paid for and I am out of Debt. I
  have furnished every stick of wood for the Church, and have carried
  the most of it in since it was built. I still wring the Bells on
  all occasions." etc. etc.

There is, perhaps, a touch of the garrulity of age in this good man's
recital; but I consider his record of his early life, slight as it is,
yet too strikingly suggestive to be left to chances which might await a
private letter. Indeed, the character thus displayed is surely equal to
that of the best of the old Romans, in the middling class of life,
enlightened too by a living faith of which they had no conception; and
the sketch gives fair warrant for the conclusion, that, in point of manly
simplicity and integrity, the traits and the trials of those elder
worthies who helped to settle our republican institutions have not been
overdrawn.

-----
  [1]  As I set down these reminiscences I observe the
       following paragraph in a Boston daily paper of November
       27, 1872:--

       "NOVEMBER SNOW. Fifty-two years ago to-day there were
       twenty-eight inches of snow on a level in the vicinity
       of Portsmouth, N. H."

  [2]  The late Mr. George Wood, of Washington, a native of our
       town, in some highly interesting _Memorabilia_, formerly
       published, says: "The aristocracy were not on High
       Street, as now, but on Water Street, and more at the
       South than the North end, as the old houses give
       evidence to this day. The Johnsons, Jacksons,
       Davenports, Coffins, Greenleafs, Bartletts, Pierces,
       Hoopers, Tappans, Todds, Carters, Lunts, Marquands, and
       others of wealth, were on Water Street or near it. There
       were their grand houses and fine gardens, and it was not
       till they thought of retiring from business that they
       removed to the West-end or up-town, as gradually as they
       always do in all places."

  [3]  After resigning his office of judge, which he had held
       for only a few years, but administered with
       extraordinary ability and integrity, Judge Jackson went
       abroad for relaxation, and a letter from a gentleman in
       London to a friend on this side the water says,--"Two of
       your townsmen, Judge Jackson and Jacob Perkins, now fill
       the public eye of England, and are the subjects of
       public and private conversation."

  [4]  "The meteor flag of England," etc. Campbell. "Ye
       mariners of England."

  [5]  These brooms are made by peeling strips from the stump,
       which are fastened below.



CHAPTER II.


I should scarcely deem it expedient to enter at much detail into the
eccentricities of our good townspeople, though it seems to me that in our
own street I could recall enough to make a pretty sizable volume.

But one feature of the times deserves a passing notice. I refer to the
inconsiderable number of insane persons, compared with the sad increase
of that unfortunate class in our own day, and the manner in which they
were treated. Of course, a more widely extended population multiplies the
sum of every description of disease. Besides, our ancestors were a
hardier race than their descendants, more inured to the regular routine
of physical toil, less given than the men and women of the present day to
hurtful indulgence, and far less exposed to the disturbing excitements of
business and pleasure. So far as I know, there were but two really
insane persons in our population of some seven or eight thousand, though
doubtless certain others were more or less "light-headed." One of those
two was sullenly crazy, and accounted dangerous, and therefore subjected
to physical restraint; the other, generally harmless, roamed through the
town at his own will, calling occasionally upon the acquaintance of his
better days, and making magnificent promises of the benefits he intended
to bestow, "when his ship came in." If I had inherited only a moderate
dividend of the proceeds of the successive ships and their cargoes, which
he promised my mother, on the above favorable contingency, usually
calling her out from dinner to whisper to her these magnificent promises,
more to her alarm than satisfaction, though being a woman of spirit she
put a brave face upon it--I should look down upon a Rothschild, an Astor,
or a Vanderbilt with natural contempt. Sometimes, incarceration was
thought necessary, also, in his case; and I have a vivid recollection of
the place of confinement allotted to each patient.

This was in the yard of the almshouse, for state and county asylums had
not then been thought of, and the strong wooden building in which they
were placed consisted of two apartments, perhaps twelve feet square, one
above and the other beneath the surface of the ground; the latter, in
fact, a dungeon with one barred window on a level with the yard. Here
they passed their gloomy hours as they might, in solitude and darkness,
scarcely relieved by light from without, with nothing to alleviate the
horrors of their condition, and probably considered in a state too
hopeless to admit of any remedy. The tenant of the upper cell was
comparatively lively, on the occasion of resort to his window for
conversation, or out of curiosity, which was freely permitted; but his
neighbor in the dungeon was dangerous; and I can never forget the terror
inspired by a sudden and vicious attempt made by him to seize the legs of
us children through the bars, as we stood conversing with the inmate of
the room above. Science and humanity have done very much, in modern
times, toward the restoration of such unhappy beings, who are in a
majority of cases susceptible of cure, or of improvement enough to
warrant their return to domestic life. But it is to be feared we are yet
far behind, in this country, the more enlightened and effectual methods
pursued for this purpose in some other civilized nations.

On one side of the street above alluded to lived for a long time, in my
boyhood, an ancient shoemaker entirely alone; and as he guarded his
residence with great secrecy and sold none of his wares, curious people
were puzzled to understand how he supported existence. He was known to be
partially deranged. Mischievous boys, sometimes, gathered in numbers,
would often assail his door with stones, standing ready for a start. But
if they were on the watch, so was Pettengill, from previous experience,
waiting behind his door with a heavy wooden bar in his hand, and giving
instant chase to the flying urchins, would send the bar rattling at their
heels. One day, after a season of unusual quiet, one of our lads anxious
to penetrate his mystery, ventured to knock gently at the barred portal,
was admitted, and expressed his wish to purchase a pair of shoes. The old
man opened several chests containing the articles sought for, and finally
selected a pair which proved a fit; but upon his visitor's making known
his readiness to buy, the maker deliberately returned them to their
receptacle, locked it fast and gravely declared, that he did "not like to
part with them, for fear of spoiling his assortment."

The next building was occupied by a respectable English couple as a
dwelling-place, with a small grocer's shop in front. They had no
children, except one strapping son of the old lady by a former husband,
grown to man's estate, and whose business seemed to be to lounge about
the premises in drab small-clothes; for I never saw him do anything. The
old lady might be seen of a morning, with iron pattens on her feet and
her clothes tucked up, mopping the floor of the shop; but in the
afternoon much more genteelly attired in silks of an ancient fashion. Mr.
Brown was a very quiet, inoffensive person, the wife a little
high-strung. It is certain that they had occasional domestic bickerings,
perhaps about the young man in the knee-breeches; for on one occasion it
is alleged that the old matron was overheard to address her spouse, with
a slightly Hibernian accentuation,--"Brune, Brune, ye case-knife looking
son of a gun! I married ye neither for love, nor for money, but the pure
convanience of the shop!" As these worthy people have long ago passed
away, there seems no scandal in detailing this little family incident.

Directly opposite these premises was a large old-fashioned house, still
standing, and, a century before, the residence of the minister of the
First Church. It was long afterwards occupied by a noted magistrate for
the trial of small actions, who served many years as town-clerk, and was
an energetic orator at town-meetings and in parish affairs. A culprit was
once brought before him for stealing a gentleman's set of new shirts. The
fact was stiffly denied. "A pretty story," said the accused party, "that
I should take his shirts!" An official scrutiny, however, soon exhibited
him standing with the half dozen articles of attire, one over another,
upon his person. "What a villain!" said the astonished justice. "Why
didn't you tell me you was a villain and save the time of the court, of
the witnesses, and the spectators, by owning up you were a villain, in
the first place?"

The citizens of the old town were pretty thorough Puritans, by
inheritance and inclination, at the middle of the last century. But the
minister of the First Church was, in his day, a gentleman noted for his
liberal tastes and accomplishments. He had a picture painted on a broad
panel over the fire-place of his library, representing himself and
several others of the cloth sitting around a table, in the full
canonicals of wig, gown, and band, before each a foaming mug of ale, and
each supplied with a tobacco pipe from which rolled volumes of narcotic
fumes. At the top of the painting was a legend in the Latin language, of
which the following is, I believe, a correct copy,--

  "In essentialibus unitas, in non-essentialibus libertas, in omnibus
  charitas."

They appeared to be having a jolly time, and evidently considered the
slight indulgences to which they were addicted among the moral
non-essentials, however necessary to their physical comfort. In this
picture, which is still extant, the rules of perspective were not
rigorously obeyed. In fact, the table is considerably tipped, whether
supposed to result from some sudden hilarious movement on the part of the
reverend compotators or owing to want of skill in the artist, I am not
able to testify. Indeed, the manners of the times had not then attained
their present professed strictness in regard to the use of exhilarating
liquors, and I have inspected a tavern-bill rendered to the principal
citizens, for articles of this sort consumed on some joyful public
occasion, at a much later period, the amount of which in quantity, though
not in price, would astonish a modern city council.

At the corner of the street stood an ancient tavern, the principal
establishment of the kind in the place, at which in staging times all the
stage-coaches from Boston and the eastward hauled up to change horses.
It was kept by the father of the popular host of one of the best known of
the long-established New York hotels. I well remember seeing a
considerable body of British sailors halted there for refreshment, under
guard, on their way to some prison in the interior, during the War of
1812. They were true British tars of the traditional type, with immense
clubs of hair, tied up with eel-skins and hanging short and thick down
their necks. They seemed in no wise depressed by their condition and in
fact were treated extremely well, for the general feeling of the town was
decidedly adverse to the war. I also remember a gathering in front of the
tavern, when the evening coach was expected, with the idea of mobbing an
unpopular general officer who was to pass through by that conveyance. But
a better sentiment was inculcated by the more orderly portion of the
assembly, and the obnoxious warrior was not molested, otherwise than by
expressions of dislike, either upon alighting, or when taking his place
to resume his journey. Politics ran very high at the time, almost to the
entire suspension of social relations between the differing parties,--the
Federalists, who opposed the war, and were accused of unpatriotic
sympathy with the cause of the enemy, and the Republicans, often
stigmatized as Jacobins, who were charged with the principles and designs
which had given impulse to the great French Revolution. Doubtless these
parties shared, on the one side and the other, in the hereditary enmity,
long since allayed if not altogether extinguished, between England and
France. But whatever might be the general turn of political sentiment,
both sides felt a patriotic pride in the success of the American arms.
Hence, it is probable, the temper of the crowd assembled to do dishonor
to the unlucky general. While the Republicans were indignant at a
supposed needless national disaster, the Federalists could scarcely
rejoice at it; and thus the moderation of the latter tended to restrain
the former from the display of any actually violent demonstration. At the
same period, there was formed, among the older administration men of the
day, a veteran military organization, of those beyond the ordinary age of
military service, well-known locally under the significant appellation of
the "Silver Greys." The corps was composed of elderly merchants and
traders and retired sea-captains, and their drills manifested at least
the ambition of military prowess. Their opponents alleged that their
company was formed for merely political purposes, and to overawe the
town; but their own doubtless more just solution of the matter was, that
their object was to aid in repelling invasion, in the unlikely case that
the British troops should land upon their own borders. They gave more
promise, certainly, of efficient service, should danger arise, than
could be expected of the superannuated Trojans chief of Priam's court, as
their catalogue is translated by Pope from the living record of Homer:--

          "Here sat the seniors of the Trojan race,
           Old Priam's chiefs and most in Priam's grace;
           The king the first, Thymoetes at his side,
           Lampus and Clitias, long in council tried,
           Panthus and Hicetaon, once the strong,
           And next, the wisest of the reverend throng,
           Antenor grave and sage Ucalegon,
           Leaned on the walls and basked before the sun;
           Chiefs who no more in bloody fights engage,
           But wise through time and narrative with age,
           In summer days like grasshoppers rejoice,
           A bloodless race, that send a feeble voice," etc.

The town had suffered everything from the war and the interdiction of
commerce in which it had been most actively engaged, preceding the event.
Multitudes were absolutely ruined, and the gaunt wolf stood grinning at
almost every other threshold. Among the memorials of that great struggle,
it may be as well to mention the rusted cannon planted for posts at the
corners of certain of the streets, the breech sunk in the ground and a
bomb-shell fastened in the muzzle. At such a time, it is not strange that
force occasionally took the place of law.

I could recall not a few instances in which, under the impulse of
political resentment, passion got the better of judgment. One day, the
marshal of the United States, in his cocked hat and with other official
insignia, entered the tavern I have mentioned, in quest of a fugitive
from justice. He inquired of a person whom he met in the public
apartment, if he had lately seen one Captain E----, who, it seems, on
some supposed provocation, had only thrown a custom-house officer into
the dock in one of our eastern harbors. The person addressed by the
marshal said that Captain E---- had just passed down the street, and when
the marshal turned to pursue the culprit, that individual, who was no
other than the one just addressed, slipped out of another door, ran by
the stable in the rear of the tavern and called upon Jem Knox, the
hostler, to harness a chaise with all speed and to follow him forthwith
in his flight. It appears, that the story of the captain's adventure was
already pretty well known in the public places of the town, and as a
visit of the marshal from Boston was a very extraordinary event in a
place usually so quiet, a prying character who was upon the spot asked
him if he was not looking for Captain E----. Upon receiving an
affirmative reply,--"That's the man," said he, "you have just spoken to."
The marshal started in pursuit and the captain had called out to such
persons of his acquaintance as saw him running, that he was chased by a
United States' officer. Half way through the street, one Clement Starr, a
stalwart Englishman, who lived at the spot and whose sympathies,
political and otherwise, were with the weaker party, seized the marshal
by the collar and insisted upon knowing what was the cause of the
considerable tumult which the outcry--"Stop him!" had raised. Escaping
this obstacle, the poor marshal was soon afterwards clasped in the
vigorous embrace of a spirited matron, who stood on her door-step as he
passed, and, besides being an acquaintance of the captain, was of the
same political proclivities as those of the retreating mariner.

While tearing himself away from this lively lady, Knox drove furiously
by, pulled up as he overtook the fugitive, who, as a witness of the
affair told me, tumbled into the chaise, and was soon out of the reach of
the threatening danger. Whether he was ever taken afterwards, or what
became of the prosecution, I have never heard.

Not far from us lived a worthy widow, with a family of children, and on
one occasion she was heard to mingle rather curiously an office of
devotion with a somewhat severe threat of domestic discipline. It was a
day in summer, and the windows being open, a passer-by heard her
objurgation. It seems the family had assembled at the dinner-table, and
her oldest son began by making premature demonstrations toward the
provisions, when his mother emphatically addressed him: "You Bob Barker,
if you stick your fork into that meat before I've asked a blessing, I'll
be the death of ye!"

There was a worthy shipmaster, also, who used to trade to Hayti, when
that stalwart colored person, Christophe, was the Emperor, who used to
say, "Put a bag of coffee in the mouth of h----, and a Yankee will be
sure to go after it." On one occasion, so the story ran, Captain H----
complained of some insult from one of Christophe's ragged soldiery. The
fact reached the ears of that potentate, who desired to stand well with
Americans, and our townsman was summoned before him. He found in the
presence of the monarch the whole body of the scanty force on duty in
the town. "Can you pick out the man who insulted you?" asked the sable
autocrat. Captain H---- pointed him out; but beginning to fear the
infliction of some punishment too severe, attempted to extenuate the
offence. "Stop!" cried Christophe, and called the soldier near him. "Do
you say this was the man of whom you have told me?" "Yes, sir, it is,"
replied the alarmed captain; "but"--In an instant Christophe had drawn
his sword, and with one blow struck off the head of the unlucky culprit.
The terror of the accusing party, at such a sudden and bloody
consummation, may be partly imagined. He procured his clearance as soon
as possible, and I believe made his future voyages to waters under a less
summarily sanguinary domination.

We had also a _soi-disant_ nobleman, of really the humblest extraction,
and ignorant to a singular degree, but known by his eccentricities far
and wide, who, on the score of a little money accidentally amassed,
proclaimed himself, by an inscription beneath a wooden statue of himself,
in front of his residence,--"LORD OF THE EAST, LORD OF THE WEST, AND THE
GREATEST PHILOSOPHER IN THE WESTERN WORLD." He decorated his court-yard
with an extraordinary amount of lumber of this sort, in the shape of
human beings, and dumb creatures of many sorts, each statue standing upon
its separate pillar, to the intense admiration of the gaping rustics who
visited the town to inspect it; and he fairly beat the Scottish Earl of
Buchan, who was infected with a similar mania. Upon an arch directly
opposite his front door, he had placed Washington, Adams, and Jefferson.
Adams, on the right, was bareheaded, and upon an inquiry by some one why
this distinction was made, since Jefferson's chapeau was in its place,
the great "lord" replied: "Do you suppose I would have anybody stand at
the right hand of Washington, with his hat on?" He was said, also, upon
certain hilarious occasions, celebrated in a tomb which he had
constructed under a summer-house in his garden, to have indulged in the
mastication of bank-bills between slices of bread and butter, doubtless
to the envy of his boon companions; not, as might be inferred, of the
better or richer classes, though, considering all things, it is perhaps
needless to hope that these current symbols of value were a little
cleaner than most of those of modern date. All this statuary rubbish,
however, was long ago removed; and the house and grounds, by the taste of
the present owner, have since ranked among the most pleasing objects of
inspection in the town.

This notably low and singularly eccentric character, as I have remarked,
fairly beat that other oddity,--in a different class of life and
contemporary with him,--the Scottish Earl of Buchan, elder half-brother
of Lord Chancellor Erskine. That nobleman was possessed with a passion
for the busts of persons, eminent or otherwise, not dissimilar to that of
our New England "lord" for wooden statuary, and perhaps was actuated by
equal vanity, though a person of real literary accomplishment, and in no
sense, except as mentioned, to be put in comparison with the other. He
displayed to his visitors a large and most incongruous collection of
these objects of art in a sort of grotto excavated in his garden, thus
reversing, however, the more conspicuous procedure of his brother
connoisseur, who exhibited his assemblage of rarities in his front yard.
The Scottish Earl, certainly, had some literary pretensions, while the
"lord" Timothy, who could neither read nor write with ordinary
expertness, honored the Muses, also, by affording countenance to a poet.
Whether this patronage extended to much material sustenance may be
considered doubtful, since this son of Apollo generally stood in the
market-place, when not wandering away to other parts, for the disposal
of his wares, dressed in semi-clerical habiliments, himself being of a
singularly grave aspect, and retailed frightful ballads of his own
composition, and small wares of various kinds from a basket on his arm.
It is questionable whether any of these literary productions survive to
the present day; and I fear that not one of them had any spark of that
vitality, potent to influence popular sentiment, which Fletcher of
Saltoun attributed to the songs of the people.

In the centre of this market-place--a space inclosed on all sides by
various shops or stores, and for some unaccountable reason styled "Market
Square," since its irregular outline much more resembled a truncated
triangle--stood the town pump, on the spot originally occupied by the
meeting-house of the First Church, already mentioned. On two sides of the
pump were set the wonted hand-carts of two superannuated individuals,
whose gingerbread, candies, and apples were the delight of such urchins
as were lucky enough to have coppers to buy with; for those convenient
mediums of exchange were not too plentiful among boys in 18--, and
frequently not with their parents either. These old men were the
undisturbed possessors of the ground, wheeling their vehicles to the spot
at early morning, and standing by them all day, though they never seemed
to me to be driving a very thriving business.

But the glory of the Square was during the week before
Thanksgiving,--then, as now, appointed for a day late in November, when
it was often difficult to make one's way through the throng of teams,
and especially sleighs, loaded with poultry fattened for the occasion,
and sometimes venison and abundance of other commodities for domestic use.
The mention of sleighs leads me to recur to a former remark upon the
earlier approach of winter in those times; for the employment of sleighs
implies the presence of snow upon the ground; and the farmers had
frequently driven from a great distance, "up country," from parts of
New Hampshire and Vermont, even from the borders of Canada, perhaps a
hundred and fifty or two hundred miles and more away, to attend the market
in our town; sometimes as many as a hundred loaded country sleighs, or on
other occasions as many wagons, in a single day. The construction of the
Middlesex Canal, connecting the waters of the Merrimack with those of
the Charles, diverted the main part of this traffic to Boston; and
railways finally conveyed to the capital most of the remainder which
came from any considerable distance. Wistful eyes, in the presence of
these heaping dainties, were sometimes averted, no doubt, from a
consciousness of empty pockets; yet there were always generous hearts
and bounteous hands to meet the exigencies of every neighborhood; and
we may be sure that no householder of decent repute, however poor or
unlucky, and probably few others, even if a little tarnished in the
moral world's esteem, lacked some kind friend who saw to it, that the
accustomed turkey or chickens smoked on the board before the eyes of
his hungry children on that day, at least, of all the year.

But, unless respectable legends are to be peremptorily discredited, an
incident once took place in this Market Square, of which I doubt if any
other New England town can show the parallel. I am about to relate a
statement made to me, not many years ago, by an elderly gentleman of
excellent character and standing, a justice of the peace and of the
quorum, and a devout member of the Orthodox Church. The story was told
with all gravity and implicit confidence in its truth; and some may think
it exhibits in a striking light the extent of human credulity and the
imperfection of human testimony: "My father," said this worthy person,
"has often told me of being in Market Square when a man, a woman, and a
little dog appeared, and soon collected quite a crowd by the exhibition
of feats of jugglery. At length, after a due collection of tribute from
the standers-by, the man produced a ball of cord from his pocket, threw
it into the air, and began to ascend it, hand over hand. The woman
followed, and after her the little dog. While the crowd was gaping, in
expectation of the return of this mysterious trio, some one drove into
the market-place and inquired the occasion of this unusual congregation.
Upon being informed, he said, that he had just met such a party on the
road, about a mile from the town." I had read the most extraordinary
accounts, by British officers and others, of exhibitions like this, which
they alleged they had often witnessed in India. I remembered one, in
particular, where tigers and other unwelcome guests, and even the
somewhat unwieldy bulk of an elephant, had seemingly been brought down,
before their eyes, upon a cable fastened by some mysterious agency far
aloft; for I suppose it behooved to be made fast in some inconceivable
region of the upper air. But that a similar demonstration could have been
made in a sober New England town, at noonday, could scarcely fail to "put
me from my faith." It impressed me, however, as at least an extraordinary
relation, coming from such a source; and happening to meet another
ancient and equally reputable friend on the same day, one, too, who had
been much about the world in the capacity of a navigator to foreign
climes, I took occasion to relate to him the strange narrative which I
had just heard. "Oh," said he, "there is no doubt about it; my mother has
often told me she was present and saw the whole transaction." "In the
mouth of two or three witnesses," says the Scripture, "shall every word
be established." In this case, it will be observed, the witnesses were
two, but both at second-hand. I shall not vouch, therefore, for anything
except that, as Scott says, "I tell the tale as 'twas told to me,"--and
it may be set down as one of these veritable legends which all persons
are at liberty to reject or accept, as they please. I expect to try the
faith of the reader still further before I have finished this historical
sketch. People often tell us, nowadays, that vulgar superstitions are
altogether things of the past. This may be so in public; but I imagine
that in private there is a lurking tinge of it in every human bosom.



CHAPTER III.


In maritime towns, at a season of the year when there is no inducement
for them to wander into the fields, boys who have nothing else to do, on
play-days, are very apt to lounge, more or less, on the wharves and in
the Market Place. When quite a youngster, I witnessed a scene on the spot
last named, the incidents of which are as vivid in my memory as at the
moment when they occurred, more than half a century ago. Though the
commerce of our town had very materially declined from its former
condition of wonderful activity and enterprise, it was still kept up with
considerable semblance of its former spirit, and, besides our native
vessels, a foreign ship occasionally sailed up our beautiful river. A few
miles beyond the stream, in the neighboring State, dwelt a population
chiefly agricultural, a portion of which, pursuing the avocation of
small farmers and fishermen, alternately, for they were directly on the
borders of the sea and somewhat isolated in their position, besides, were
certainly a little wild in character and habits; though I am told that
great improvement among them, in these respects, has taken place of later
years. We called them "Algerines," from which epithet, more opprobrious
than probably just, our estimate of their pretensions to civilization may
be inferred. It was the practice of these people to bring their fish in
whale-boats to our market, which was the nearest to their homes, and to
dispose of this fruit of their often perilous labors either for money, or
for such commodities as they required. I was standing, one afternoon,
near a group of foreign sailors, believed to be Spaniards, with the
natural curiosity of a boy, and rough-looking specimens of humanity they
certainly were. It seemed that they had fallen into dispute with the
crew, some three or four men, of an Algerine boat, and though the
language on one side and the other was altogether unintelligible to the
parties, the tones were uncommonly high. Doubtless, the Spaniards were
resenting some insult offered by the Algerines,--prompted by that sort of
jealousy and dislike with which the lower classes of English blood have
been in the habit of regarding those of other nationalities. The quarrel
seemed especially at its height between one of the Spanish crew and a
young man of remarkable stature in coarse seaman's dress, with a great
bush of long yellow locks hanging over the collar of his jacket, whose
name it appeared was Souter. The Spanish champion had drawn an ugly
looking knife, from which unfamiliar weapon, flourished so near his
person, the Algerine instinctively flinched. At this critical moment, the
patriarch of the Yankee crew, a tall, gaunt old man, with grizzled hair,
stepped into the arena, and, seizing the foreigner by the collar, cried
out,--"Now I'll bet Tom Souter" (pronounced Saouter) "could take this
'ere fellow right here by the collar and shake every g---- right aout of
him,"--using a more vulgar phrase, and suiting the action to the word so
vigorously that the reeling and astounded Spaniard was glad enough to
relinquish the field and to slink away crestfallen with his companions.

As a further illustration of the ways of our neighbors, I will give one
more anecdote of an affair which occurred years afterwards. Not far from
the hamlet of our friends, the Algerines, but within the borders of
Massachusetts, was another settlement, on the outskirts of a thriving
village, the male inhabitants of which also followed the calling of small
farmers and fishermen, some of them diversifying these pursuits by the
occupation of shoemaking, at the ungenial season of the year. They were
industrious, and far less rude than their compatriots, to whom reference
has just been made. At this point lived three young men, hard by each
other, and brothers, of the name, I will say, of Lowe. One day a tall and
respectable looking old gentleman called upon the writer of this history,
announcing himself as Colonel Lowe, and the father of the three young men
in question. He had formerly commanded, it seems, a regiment of militia,
and had a sort of semi-military bearing. He was now in great agitation
and distress, occasioned by some trouble in which his sons were involved,
through forcible resistance to the civil authorities of the Commonwealth,
and he required the professional services of the writer for their
defence. He justly regarded it as a case likely to lead to very serious
consequences, and particularly dreaded for the young men the disgraceful
punishment of the State Prison. It was a case to elicit every degree of
sympathy for the worthy Colonel, and to prompt every effort for his
relief. The facts, as they appeared at the trial before the Court of
Common Pleas, were quite picturesque. A constable had appeared with an
execution against one of the young Lowes, in the matter of a claim which
he disputed as unjust; but without giving the peace-officer opportunity
to discharge his duty, he was driven from the ground by the trio, in
mortal terror of his life. The execution of the process was then
undertaken by a somewhat fantastic country deputy sheriff; who was
ordered off as he attempted to approach the parties in defence, and
between them and the officer there was a good deal of raillery, which had
an important bearing upon the final result of the trial. At length, the
elder brother Lowe drew a line with a stick across the road and defied
the officer to pass it, which he declined to do, but at once made good
his retreat, smothering his indignation at such a rebuff, until he could
give it vent in more safety than the existing circumstances warranted.
Such reckless conduct was not to be endured, and no doubt the deputy was
laughed at by his neighbors for his failure to carry his purpose into
effect. The majesty of the Commonwealth had been insulted in his official
person, and he determined to summon a _posse comitatus_, to vindicate the
power and dignity of the law. Stories in the country, especially those
involving any extraordinary incidents, sometimes fly faster than in town,
and accordingly these young rebels forewarned, no doubt, of the peril in
prospect, prepared themselves, as well as they could, to resist the more
formidable invasion presently to be expected. Before daylight, one
morning, the mustered force of some twenty men, variously armed, led by
the valiant sheriff's officer, cautiously drew near the premises, in the
hope of catching the culprits asleep. The brothers were too quick for
their visitors, however, and evidently having been on the watch had
retreated to a barn, securely fastening the door, and awaited the
approach of the enemy. They had with them certain weapons, which were
exhibited in the court, consisting of ancient rusty halberds and
spontoons, probably borne in turn by their gallant father, in his several
gradations of military service. As they were summoned to surrender, a
musket was discharged out of a window of the barn, over the heads of the
assailants, occasioning considerable confusion in their line. Assuming
courage, at length, axes and crowbars were brought into requisition, and
the door was forced. As the attacking party entered, however, the Lowes
let down the stairs leading to the story above a heavy broad cart-wheel,
and as it bounded clattering towards the floor below, the assailants fled
out of doors in a panic, and taking advantage of their disorder, the
Lowes, disregarding the vast disproportion of numbers, rushed upon them,
and a regular mêleé began. It is thought, that the smaller party would
have been victorious, but for an ugly blow on the head of the youngest
brother, which felled and disabled him; whereupon his associates escaped
unmolested and he was taken helpless into the house, where he remained
until the time of the trial. Of course, the jury found him guilty, for
the facts of the case were patent; but it was taken up, by exceptions to
the ruling of the Judge, into the Supreme Court, in which, though it
would be irreverent to intimate that the justices entered at all into the
humor of such a Donnybrook Fair sort of scrimmage, yet, after argument,
and it is presumed in consideration of some provocation on the part of
the sheriff's deputy, especially the needlessly warlike and really
ridiculous aspect he impressed on the affair, leading the young men to
look upon it rather as an invitation to play their part, than as a
serious purpose to violate the law, the sentence imposed was only a few
months' imprisonment in the common jail. The prosecution was never
enforced against the brothers, and never was more lively gratitude
displayed, than at the escape of the convicted culprit from sentence to
the ignominious seclusion of the State Prison.



CHAPTER IV.


A term of the Court of Common Pleas was always held in the town in the
month of September, and "court week" was a regular time of holiday for
the pupils of the higher schools. Some of us attended upon these solemn
proceedings with extraordinary interest, especially when criminal cases
were before the court. I know not how it is, but suppose it to be the
expected revelation of incidents, as in the plot of a novel, which draws
crowds together, in most uncomfortable contiguity in a courtroom,
whenever a culprit, especially one of more than usually notorious
antecedents, is put upon his trial. While most of the old-fashioned
lawyers of the Essex Bar were more than respectable for professional
acquisitions and legal skill, there were persons among them of
distinguished ability and character; and real eloquence seldom fails to
prove peculiarly fascinating to youthful hearers. Who could forget, for
example, with what rapt attention he listened, at a somewhat later date,
to the glowing language and was stirred by the honest warmth of
Saltonstall, incapable by nature of attempting to make the worse appear
the better reason; or watched that marvel, the matchless ingenuity of
Choate, whose faculties shone brightest, the more apparently hopeless was
the cause at stake; or thrilled with profound admiration, under the
resistless influence of Webster's force and closeness of argument,
rising, with due occasion, to the highest point of eloquent illustration,
when some more than usually important matter for adjudication by the
court called him from the ordinary sphere of his great practice to the
forum of a comparatively inferior tribunal.

Years afterwards, when I had the honor of a place at that Bar, I was much
struck with the testimony of a respectable witness, a farmer named
Sheldon, who lived near Beverly Corner, upon an indictment of a fellow
for burglary, in entering Mr. Sheldon's house by night and taking the
money from his pockets in his sleeping chamber without disturbing the
occupants. One of the earliest questions proposed to him was,--"How did
the robber gain entrance to the house?" and, by the way, the man had been
previously employed as a laborer by the farmer. "I suppose he came in by
the usual way," was the answer. "He came in by the door, do you mean?"
"Yes." "How did he get it open?" "I suppose he lifted the latch." "Do you
mean to say, that the door was not fastened?" "Yes I do; we never fasten
it." The culprit was convicted upon various satisfactory testimony; but
the incident betokens a state of security, at that period, and a rarity
of flagitious offences, which puts to shame the demoralization of our own
day. For the house in question stood on the high road and was scarcely
more than half a mile distant from a populous neighborhood, and within
less than three miles of a town with many thousands of inhabitants.

Strangely enough, considering the want of precaution on the part of the
farmer, coming down, doubtless, from a still simpler period of social
life, not half a mile from Mr. Sheldon's house stood a solitary
habitation upon a desolate tract of land, and also near the highway,
which at a time not long subsequent had acquired a very evil reputation;
and with this house became connected circumstances which some may think
scarcely admit of the solution of merely accidental occurrence. At the
autumnal term of the court just indicated, when I had become a young
practitioner at the bar, a certain vixenish old beldam was put upon trial
for the offence of maintaining this ill reputed establishment. Her
demeanor was singularly exceptional; for she did not scruple to interrupt
the proceedings with the most fluent billingsgate, and upon receiving
sentence berated the presiding judge in language betokening an
extraordinary depth of desperate hardihood. Inquiry revealed the fact,
that her solitary house, standing upon an elevated plain of some extent,
the ground rising from the shores of Wenham Lake, in front but little
removed from the road, and the space in its rear interspersed with
scattered groups of funereal pines, had been the resort of various
desperadoes, several of whom had suffered punishment for their crimes,
and one of them had not long before committed suicide in jail, to escape
public execution for a most atrocious murder.

Late one day, in the beginning of the following Spring, I happened to be
called upon to proceed to Boston, distant some forty miles, upon the
sudden requirement of certain business to be transacted the next morning
in the city. It was before the railway was in operation, and to
accomplish the object in view I was to drive this considerable distance
in a chaise, at night and alone. I was accustomed to this mode of
locomotion, in my attendance upon the several sessions of the courts in
the county, and the idea of fear never entered my mind. Accordingly,
starting about dusk, at half past ten o'clock of a starlit night, I had
reached a point in the journey where the road rises by a gentle ascent to
the plain, on which stood "the house of evil counsel." All at once, the
scene and the narrative of the previous Fall flashed upon my mind. Before
leaving home, I had bethought myself of a brace of pistols in my
possession, which I had loaded and placed in the pockets of my overcoat.
And now comes the remarkable circumstance to which I have already
referred. These weapons had been borrowed of a friend, months before,
when in the midst of an unusually exciting election for a member of
congress, continuing some two years, and stirring up extraordinary rancor
in the minds of some of the partisans of the several candidates, I had
been threatened with violence, if I should attend the polls. I had
notified my opponents that I should vote at a certain hour, on the
appointed day, and placed these pistols in my pocket, by way of defence;
but nothing inconsistent with my freedom of political action in fact
occurred. This was the only time in my life that I had carried such
implements, which were then put aside in the drawer of a bureau, and I
have never thought it worth while to take them since, except on the
occasion now referred to. I had thus provided myself with them, on an
entirely different occasion, and took them with me, on a sudden thought,
as I was about to proceed on my journey, more in the spirit of youthful
bravado, than with any other motive; for the roads, at that period, were
considered perfectly safe, by night as well as by day. As I have
remarked, the thought of the shrewish and abandoned old woman, of her
house and its evil companions, occurred to me, as my horse slowly
ascended the rising ground towards the plain. In a few minutes I was in
the neighborhood of a habitation which I looked upon rather with
detestation than any emotion of alarm; when what was my astonishment to
behold a man--the sound of the wheels of the chaise being doubtless
audible at some distance in the clear, still night--come out of the gate
in front of the house and station himself in the middle of the somewhat
narrow highway. In fact, the stranger was within a rod of the vehicle,
and must either be driven over or move out of the way. At this unexpected
encounter, I own that my heart, as the saying is, jumped into my mouth;
but I instantly drew and cocked my pistol, and the click probably
disturbing the nerves of my proposed assailant, he turned aside without
offering further molestation. In a few minutes, the lamps of the
mail-stage, as it turned Beverly Corner on its way eastward, were a
grateful spectacle, and my onward journey was pursued without other
adventure. The driver of that stage afterwards informed me, that the
trunks strapped to the rear of their coaches had more than once been cut
off in that very neighborhood, and that on one occasion beams had been
placed in the road so that the carriage would have been overturned,
unless they had been discovered in time, and doubtless had been so placed
for purposes of robbery. I inquired, why investigation did not take place
on the spot; but the reply was, that the passengers were in haste to get
on, were unarmed, and perhaps timid, and preferred to remove the
obstacles and proceed upon their way. The contrast, however, is
striking, between the habit of a farmer to leave his door unfastened at
night and the machinations of rogues not a quarter of a mile distant, who
could be guilty of such crimes. I believe, however, that the existence of
such a nest of villains was quite exceptional at that period, and unknown
to the farmer, and that his sense of safety, without the most ordinary
means of protection to his premises, was at that time the rule. The
reader may draw what conclusions he pleases from the facts of my own
personal narrative.

I have remarked that politics, never stagnant in our ancient communities,
at the period of my story, oftentimes grew extremely warm, and then every
leading citizen took his personal part. Nor is it strange that the
survivors of those who had borne their share in the Revolutionary War,
who had the traditions, at least, of their fathers who served with the
New England troops, and followed the gallant and generous Wolfe up the
formidable heights of Abraham, and after the victorious field which cost
that true hero his life, stood triumphant, under the Red Cross banner,
upon the subjugated ramparts of Quebec, should exhibit marked
peculiarities of character; should hold fast to strong opinions; and
indeed should manifest that individuality and originality of thought and
action which is scarcely witnessed in the promiscuous crowd of our own
tamer times. Instead of that indifference, the bane of a republic, among
the upper class, the result of accumulated wealth and luxurious habits,
the chief men of both parties stood at the door of the Town Hall, on days
of election, distributing votes, and encouraging the timid and the
doubtful, and their influence was effectively felt in the direction of
public affairs, which now seem mostly to be left to the management of the
least competent, and often the most ignorant, mercenary, and corrupt. I
firmly believe that the equal, if not preëminent position long maintained
by Massachusetts, among rivals vastly superior in territory and
population, was owing to the active interest formerly taken by her
leading men of all professions and occupations in the politics of the
day, and that thus the sources of political well being were kept
comparatively pure. At present, these men take their political opinions
from the newspaper they read, and trouble themselves very little further
about a matter in which their own stake, one would think, would rouse
them to exertion, from the promptings of enlightened self-interest, if
not from the more generous emotions of public spirit.

On one occasion, when some eager dispute had arisen, as to which of the
two parties actually preponderated, for the balance sometimes wavered
from one side to the other, it was determined to poll the town; that is,
to assemble all citizens entitled to vote in the Town Hall, to divide
them personally according to their several politics and by actual count
to ascertain which was the strongest in point of numbers. I happened to
be present, as a boy who heard political questions discussed with
animation at home, and was curious to witness the scene, which was one
really of the intensest interest. The selectmen occupied their tribune,
at the head of the Hall, and the meeting was presided over by their
chairman, a man of imposing height and general personal development, with
flowing white locks, who commanded the respect of all parties. His father
had been a soldier of Wolfe, and he and his associates were on the
Federal side. When the parties were arranged for the enumeration, one
worthy individual, who kept the principal tavern of the town, stood
hesitating, at the end of the hall, between the two files; for, in fact,
both parties of necessity made use of his house, by turns, in
commemoration of some public event, or for festive purposes, which, to
tell the truth; were frequently coming round; for the liquor was both
better and cheaper than in these degenerate days. I shall never forget
the start which the sonorous voice of the chairman gave me, as he bawled
out,--"None of that, Jenkins; we can't have any shirking here; you must
take one side or the other,"--and he did, amidst the tumultuous laughter
with which the Hall resounded. The contest was a good-natured one, and I
have no doubt which party proved victorious, considering that the
prevailing sentiment of the town was pretty well evidenced by the
political leanings of the _Board_; but at this late day it is of little
consequence to authenticate the fact.

The father of the sturdy chairman had set up the tavern, after returning
from the expedition to Quebec, which he called the WOLFE HOUSE, in
memory of his commander, General James Wolfe, who is presented in such a
pleasing light in Thackeray's "Virginians," and, as a noble-minded man
and true hero, deserved all which could be said in his praise. In after
days, and I believe it is still there, the sign was suspended in front of
the hotel, which took the place of that destroyed by the "Great Fire."
The brave general wore his red coat and cocked hat, all through the War
of the Revolution and that of 1812-14, without molestation from colonial
rebels, or Yankees fighting against the mother country, by land and by
sea. The tavern was kept for a long time by a shrewd and active host, who
had a keen eye to the main chance. Among his dinner guests were farmers
who attended market, and others, content to take their meals at half
price, after the chief company had finished that repast. Of these was one
Major Muncheon, somewhat celebrated for his remarkable powers of making
away with whatever the table furnished. One day, Wilkins, the host, who
was addicted to a slightly nasal intonation, addressed him, when he had
just risen from his seat,--"Major, I can't dine you any more for
twenty-five cents." "Why not?" asked the well-satisfied trencherman. "I
tell you, Major," said his host, "the very vegetables you've eaten cost
two and three pence" (37-1/2 cents), "saying nothing of the meat and
pies." "Pho! Wilkins," remonstrated the farmer, "it's only the second
table." "Second table!" replied the host; "why, Major, if you had sat
down to the first table, there wouldn't have been no second."

But if parties in those times were often hotly opposed, there was one
occasion, every year, when a broader sentiment of patriotism warmed the
hearts of all in the fellowship of a common cause. The Anniversary of
Independence was duly commemorated by appropriate exercises for
considerably more than half a century in our spirited town, and with a
general loosening of party ties on the occasion, until the War of 1812,
when the parties conducted separate celebrations, though the orators were
always only too apt to tighten them again by untimely political
allusions, in the narrower sense of the phrase.[6]

On one of these anniversaries, the orator expectant we will call Mr.
Moses, a member of the Bar, who had already acquired distinction and was
afterwards a leader in his profession, well known in the county of Essex.
It was in reference to this gentleman, that an ambitious colored person
of that day instructed the shoemaker he employed, that he wanted "his
boots to have as much creak in them as Squire Moses's." On the day before
the services were to take place, the orator repaired to the meeting-house
appointed for the purpose, in order to rehearse his performance, and
having mounted the stairs to the pulpit by a back-entrance, and probably
wearing boots, at this time, of less distinctive resonance, did not
attract the attention of an old woman who was on her knees scrubbing the
broad aisle. The speaker had a melodious and ringing voice, and began, I
suppose,--"Friends and fellow-countrymen!" "Oh, lud-a-mercy!" cried the
ancient female on the floor, starting to her feet, with uplifted hands.
The occupant of the pulpit was a very polite person. "Oh, don't be
alarmed, madam," cried he; "it's only Moses." "Moses!" screamed the
woman--"Moses is come! Moses is come!" and not much to the credit of a
piety which ought to have felt so highly favored by a vision of the great
prophet, rushed from the church into the street in an agony of terror,
spreading consternation in the neighborhood by her outcries, until the
mystery was speedily cleared up.

-----
  [6]  Of all these productions I have seldom seen one equal to
       the printed sermon preached by Rev. Mr. Murray, of our
       Old South Church, upon the Proclamation of Peace;[A]
       for its array of various interesting information upon
       the condition and prospects of the country, and for
       soundly patriotic views, enforced with fervid and
       striking eloquence. In one respect, it could scarcely be
       surpassed. We have heard of the protracted discourses of
       the old Puritan divines, in both countries with which
       most of us claim origin, and like them Mr. Murray's
       sermon must have consumed at least two hours and a half
       in the delivery. He was educated at Edinburgh and was no
       doubt a native of Scotland.

  [A]  1783



CHAPTER V.


I know there are those who will kindly regard these reminiscences of
things, trifling, it may be, in themselves, but affording a glimpse of
manners perhaps already forgotten by most or all of those who were
formerly more or less conversant with them, and which may prove of some
interest in the future. We had spent our Thanksgiving at home, in the
year 18--, but went all together to the farm of our uncle Richard, who
was of the Episcopal Church, for the celebration of Christmas; for many
of his persuasion, at that time, regarded "Thanksgiving" pretty much as
the Highlander, in Scott's novel, did "ta little government Sunday, tat
tey call ta Fast." He was a well-to-do farmer, at a place within easy
reach of the town in which we lived, and where very few were at all
rich, even according to the former moderate standard of wealth, and most
people were poor, or at least depended on their daily labor for their
daily bread. Those were very hard times following upon the war; and that
had followed fast upon the Great Fire, which reduced to ruin almost the
entire central business part of the town. Our family had suffered private
losses, too, by a swindling failure on an extensive scale,--a rare
incident in those days;[7] and again by the embargo and the war, most
of my mother's limited means having been invested in one vessel after
another, employed in the coasting trade, and this source of income at
length stopped altogether. Still, people bore up bravely against these
misfortunes, and showed quite as much spirit and hardihood as in these
latter times, and got along decently, after a fashion. To be sure, the
proclamation of Peace, a few years before, had revived all hearts; though
I heard of a washerwoman engaged in her avocation, while the bells were
ringing, who, on learning the cause of jubilation, peevishly
exclaimed,--"Peace! peace! what's peace, when there's no water?"[8] Our
Thanksgiving had been a cheerful one, though colored, as such
anniversaries are likely to be, with recollections of the absent, or the
dead; for the memory of my father was always present to my mother, then
and during a long widowhood of almost half a century, and my older
brothers were at sea. My mother was an excellent housekeeper, and we had
plenty of the usual belongings of the festival, so eagerly looked forward
to by the young, and something to bestow upon others not so well
supplied. It was the practice of some of this class to knock at the doors
of those thought to be better off, on the evening before, begging
"something for Thanksgiving;" and, by way of a joke, the children of
comfortable neighbors and friends would often array themselves in
cast-off bizarre habiliments, and come in bands of three or four to the
houses of those whom they knew, preferring the same request. Ordinarily,
the disguise was readily detected. Sometimes the little mimics would come
in, and keep up the show and the fun for a while; but for the most part
their courage failed them at the threshold, and they scurried away,
shouting for glee, almost before they got any answer to their mock
petitions. It was a queer fancy, thus to simulate poverty; but kings have
sometimes done so. Did not James of Scotland find amusement in roaming
through a portion of his domain, as a "gaberlunzie-man?" Yes--and even
composed a famous ballad to celebrate his exploits in this humble way. In
the evening, we had a lively company, regaled with nuts, apples, and
cider; and my grandmother, who indulged in the old-fashioned practice,
that is for females, of smoking a pipe, sat in the chimney-corner, where
a genial wood-fire was brightly blazing, for coal was then a thing
unknown in family consumption, duly furnished with the implement, and
sometimes called out to us,--"A-done, children, a-done," when in anywise
annoyed by us, and occasionally would sing us an old song, of which I
remember only "Robert Kid" and "A galliant ship, launched off the stocks,
from Old England she came," etc.; and, often when a storm was raging
without, repeating to us the rhymes,--

         "How little do" (pronounced doe) "we think, or know,
          What _the_ poor sailors undergo."

But we had a livelier time at Uncle Richard's; for there were more of us
and merrier. Of course, those of the household who could be spared from
domestic duties had attended service in the morning, and some of us from
the town had also appeared at church; for though our branch of the
family were now Presbyterians, we remembered that our common ancestor and
the company who came over with him, a couple of centuries and more before
that time, were of the Church of England, only protesting against the
abuses which had crept into it; and Uncle Richard carefully preserved,
with the genealogy of the family on this side the water, the Orders in
Council, prescribing for the passengers, by the "Mary and John," of which
my ancestor was one, then lying in the Thames, in the year 1633, amongst
other regulations, the daily service to be observed on board, according
to the ordinances of the Prayer Book.

No doubt the dinner was all which the domestic celebration of the
festival imports, for the farm was well stocked with every description of
creature, and with most other things needful for the purpose; but I may
be excused if I remember none of the particulars, now that so many years
have intervened. I know that Uncle Richard always prided himself upon his
excellent cider, and there is little question that there was a due
allowance of spirits, which most persons of fair means kept, in those
days, in decanters openly ranged upon the parlor sideboard. Indeed, about
the same period, while I was a student at a famous Academy not many miles
distant from our own home, the English teacher, an orthodox clergyman of
high repute, who cultivated a few acres of land at the place where he
lived on the outskirts of the town, invited a few of the pupils, myself
in the number, to assist him in making hay, one play-afternoon. The boys
had a good frolic, and, after work was ended, our master treated us to
milk-punch, a highly agreeable, but rather exhilarating beverage. Our
uncle's house was of the old-fashioned New England description,
pleasantly facing the south, with a high-peaked roof, which descended,
in the opposite quarter, to not much more than a man's stature from the
ground. In front was a spacious green yard, leading on one side to the
garden for vegetables and trees of the choicer kinds of fruit, and
sprinkled here and there with bunches of gay flowers; and at the entrance
gate by the road two magnificent elms, of an age and height which denoted
that they must have given shade to several past generations from the
summer heat, flung out drooping branches which extended a very great
distance from the parent trunks. After dinner, our host entertained us
with a narrative of his recent visit to the capital town of Boston, to
testify, in company with a former neighbor, now resident there, in behalf
of his hired man, Jasper Towne, of English birth, who having, duly and at
a long term beforehand, declared his intention, in proper form, was at
length, after a continuous residence of fourteen years in the United
States, admitted by the Federal Court to all the rights and privileges
which free citizenship could confer upon him. The scene in court my uncle
thought peculiarly solemn and impressive. The candidate for the franchise
was strictly questioned by the presiding justice, in open court, with
regard to his origin and his past life. The witnesses were subjected to a
similar scrutiny as to his character and habits, and their judgment of
his fitness for the responsible position and the new duties he was about
to assume. When this part of the transaction was completed, the oaths of
renunciation of allegiance to every foreign power, prince, or potentate
whatsoever, and the oath to support the Constitution of the United States
were administered to him by the clerk in a manner to fix it in his mind
that it was a very serious business, indeed, in which he had just been
engaged. Thereupon, the judge addressed him in language of congratulation
and counsel, and our newly-made fellow-countryman respectfully departed
from the tribunal, conscious that he had attained no mean privilege and
had secured a safeguard, like that, by the declaration of which the
Apostle of the Gentiles stayed the uplifted hands of his persecutors, and
caused them to tremble at the thought of misuse or degradation inflicted
upon a Roman citizen. Now, I believe, whatever is left of the ceremony
upon such occasions is slurred over in a clerk's office, or the part
performed in court scarcely attracts the attention of the magistrate upon
the bench. The moral of this change of practice may be left to the
reflection of the judicious reader. But it was something then to be, or
to be made an American citizen.

Not long before this, there had been an earthquake, which, though of
brief duration, had caused no little alarm,--a terrific sound always,
however slight the shock,--and in this instance making houses tremble
and shaking down various articles from their places of deposit. In the
early days of the colony, these phenomena were not uncommon, and are said
to have been of no little power in this part of New England. Uncle
Richard described the recent one as rumbling under the frozen ground
leading to his barns, as if a line of heavily-loaded wagons had rolled
over it. Being something of a philosopher, and better educated than usual
at the time, he explained the cause of such physical occurrences to us
young ones.

"The fact is," he said, "the water in certain parts of the earth becomes
intensely heated and lets off a quantity of steam of amazing expansive
power. It is like a tea-kettle, which if you shut the nozzle tight, may
either throw off the lid with great force, or the kettle itself bursts
with the strain upon it. So the steam, under the earth, heated by central
fires, and gaining immense volume and power, seeks the hollows in its
neighborhood, and rushes into them with a force which produces the
concussion and the rumbling sound; and the shaking of the surface which
we perceive is really like the commotion in the tea-kettle and the
trembling of the vessel when the steam has no vent. It is an awful
thought that we thus live over the action of these subterranean fires;
but they are in the control of the Almighty, and all we have to do is to
submit to God's will and merciful providence."

St. Paul's Church, of which Uncle Richard was a vestryman, owed its
origin to the separation of certain persons from the Congregational mode
of worship, and the formation of a society for the resumption of the
Protestant Episcopal pattern, as long ago as the year 1712. Their place
of worship they named Queen Anne's Chapel,[9] in honor of the
sovereign "at home," the last of the direct Stuart line, whose royal
person, it is said, having grown too unwieldy to permit horseback
exercise, she was in the habit of following the hunt, of which she was
passionately fond, driving herself, helter-skelter, in a one-horse
chaise. She has the credit of having bestowed some endowment upon the
Chapel, and the Bishop of London presented it with a bell; which, if all
accounts be true, still hangs in the steeple of a congregational
meeting-house within the precinct of the "Plains," where the Chapel once
stood. For that edifice, probably not having been very substantially
built, and being situated on a barren tract of land, afterwards known as
"Grasshopper Plains," and, for the convenience of the scattered
parishioners, placed at a distance from every one of them, and hence
subject to various causes of dilapidation, especially when St. Paul's,
within the town, was in process of construction, at length fell to ruin;
and the bell was carried privately away--so runs the tale--and was long
buried in the ground, but has now for many years summoned the people to a
style of worship which would have appealed in vain to the good Bishop of
London for any such donation. It may be supposed that it could not be
identified, after its interment, and perhaps the obliteration, naturally
or otherwise, of its peculiar marks; or the successors of Queen Anne's at
St. Paul's, built about thirty years after the former, would have
reclaimed their property.

The motives of those who thus revived the relation of their ancestors
with the Established Church were not altogether pious; but the fact
incontestably proves, that after nearly a century of separation from that
establishment, the objections to it, in the minds of many of the children
of the colonists, were by no means insurmountable. Indeed, it was about
a question of parish taxation that they differed with their
co-religionists. The place selected for the meeting-house was so far
distant from the homes of many of the parish, that they could not attend
without great inconvenience, and yet they were required to pay the parish
rates for the support of the minister. They remonstrated and appealed in
vain to the civil authorities in the colony and to those in England, for
relief; for the law was clearly against them, unless they chose to
conform to the doctrines and discipline of the Established Church.
Finding nothing in the Thirty-nine Articles inconsistent with the faith
they professed, they easily reconciled themselves to the ceremonies, and
thus succeeded in their object of removing from their shoulders an
involuntary burden.

As may be imagined, at first and for years afterwards, they remained but
"a feeble folk," regarded with suspicion and dislike by the more
narrow-minded of their contemporaries, though the days were long gone by,
when an Episcopalian, especially if suspected of a leaning towards
Popery, was set in the pillory or the stocks. The Church, however, had
been long flourishing, in my youth, and I was always particularly
impressed when I attended service there, as I always did on Christmas
Day, with the organ, an instrument utterly unknown in our other places of
public worship, and with the comfort diffused by the large Russian stove
which projected from a corner of the building; while we, for long years
afterwards, shivered in our meeting-houses of a cold Sunday. To be sure,
the younger children carried their mothers' hand-stoves, constructed of
tin in a frame of wood and pierced with holes in the top, to let out such
heat as could be communicated by a small pan of coals covered with ashes.
But for the male part of the congregation, who despised such a luxury,
it was almost impossible to avoid occasionally striking the benumbed feet
together, and sometimes the clatter was almost as considerable, as in
letting down the seats after the long prayer, especially if that proved
to be a very protracted exercise. But I have known young ladies so
indifferent to the severity of the weather, as to attend meeting, on very
cold days of winter, with bare arms. What would delicate ladies, who,
wrapped in warm furs, listen to service in a heated church, think of such
exposure now? On one particular occasion, however, our minister announced
the text,--"Who can stand before His cold?" and closed the services with
the usual blessing, a little to the dissatisfaction, I think, of the more
staid members of the congregation, who having come through cold and snow,
or a furious wintry storm, it might be, to hear a sermon, were not
altogether contented to miss the expected edification, or perhaps the
opportunity of criticising the discourse. Indeed, I know not what my
respected great grandsire, an elder of the church in his day, would have
said to such defection from spiritual needs towards indulgence in carnal
comfort. For it is said, that when some less searching and thorough-going
preacher of the word exchanged with our minister, or casually officiated
for him, the old gentleman tottered out of the meeting-house, leaning on
his staff, and with elevated eyebrows muttered pretty audibly to those
near him,--"Peas in a bladder--thorns under a pot--no food to-day!" And
however it might be with many of his neighbors, not the minutest particle
of the quality of original Puritanism had been shaken out of his system
by the changes of the times. The family tradition is, that before the
sunset of Saturday everything necessary for the support of nature upon
the Sabbath was cooked and in readiness. Whether he allowed the
accustomed beans and rye and Indian bread to remain in the oven subject
to the working heat, over Saturday night, I am not able to certify. But
in the intervals of public worship on Sunday,--a term, by the way, which
he would have scorned to employ,--the family was assembled and ranged
around the walls of the room, and the reading of Scripture, or of some
well-worn book of devotion, was proceeded with, while the head of the
family sat in the centre, with a stick in his hand long enough to reach
the head and shoulders of any inattentive or unquiet child.

-----
  [7]  When a trader failed, as was rarely the case at that
       primitive period, his sign was taken down at night, to
       the wonder of the public in the morning, and he remained
       fast locked from the sheriff, or too inquisitive
       callers, in his house, until the disposition of his
       creditors became known,--dependent upon their confidence
       in his good intentions, or their sympathy with his
       unexpected misfortunes.

  [8]  An anecdote quite parallel to this is to be found in the
       now late lamented Dean Ramsay's "Reminiscences." He
       relates, as a specimen of the cool Scottish
       matter-of-fact view of things, the following
       communication of a correspondent:--

       "The back windows of the house where he was brought up
       looked upon the Greyfriars' Church that was burned down.
       On the Sunday morning in which that event took place, as
       they were all preparing to go to church, the flames
       began to burst forth; the young people screamed from the
       back part of the house, 'A fire! a fire!' and all was in
       a state of confusion and alarm. The housemaid was not at
       home, it being her turn for the Sunday 'out.' Kitty, the
       cook, was taking her place, and performing her duties.
       The old woman was always very particular on the subject
       of her responsibility on such occasions, and came
       panting and hobbling upstairs from the lower regions,
       and exclaimed, 'Oh what is't, what is't?' 'O, Kitty,
       look here, the Greyfriars' Church is on fire!' 'Is that
       a', Miss? What a fright ye geed me! I thought ye said
       the parlor fire was out.'"

  [9]  It was, I believe, the oldest Episcopal Church in
       Massachusetts, with the exception of King's Chapel, in
       Boston, a small wooden structure, which stood upon the
       place where the stone edifice of that name is now
       situated.



CHAPTER VI.


An aged friend, years ago deceased, who had seen much of the world, once
observed to me, that he had never seen a more "scrupulous people," to use
his expression, than our Presbyterian congregation. The clergy of the
town were always distinguished, at a period when to be a clergyman was to
be much more an object of reverence than in these latter days, and when a
boy in the street would scarcely venture to pass one, on the opposite
sidewalk, without pulling off his cap. But they set their people an
excellent example, though they did not always escape the censure of the
over "scrupulous." For instance, Mr. Murray, the accomplished scholar and
divine to whom reference has already been made, was known to take no
dinner in the interval of public worship, substituting for that repast a
slice or two of bread and a few glasses of wine. Why such a fact, when
everybody drank more or less wine, or something stronger, every day of
the week, should have alarmed the conscience of Miss Betty Timmins, a
maiden lady of a certain age, it seems difficult to conjecture.
Nevertheless, she made a solemn call, one day, upon her pastor, and with
such apology as she could muster for impertinence--at length out with it:
"I must tell you, reverend sir, they do say you drink." "Drink! Miss
Timmins," said Mr. Murray; "to be sure I do, don't you? How can anybody
live without drinking?" and the discomfited spinster retreated. Mr.
Murray had a fund of humor. The parsonage was close by the house of his
parishioner, the sheriff, and the adjoining jail and whipping-post in the
charge of that officer, and in the last illness of the minister the
official was in the habit of taking him to a drive. Once, as he was
getting into the chaise, a friend passed by and he called out, "If you
see any one inquiring for me, tell him the last you saw of me I was in
the hands of the sheriff." But after his time, and at the period of which
I am writing, we had no less than three English ministers settled in the
town, all educated upon the foundation of the celebrated Countess of
Huntington. I recall, with vivid recollection, the figure of one of these
worthies who called himself an "Independent," as he proceeded to meeting
on a Sunday: his high cocked hat, his flowing, black curled locks,--more
in the cavalier than the Puritan fashion; his long blue cloak over his
clerical gown, his bands, his knee-breeches,--objected to by a fastidious
young lady, as "short pantaloons,"--his square shoe-buckles, and his
ponderous cane. His person was somewhat short and thick, whence "lewd
fellows of the baser sort" sometimes irreverently called him the "The
Jack of Clubs." But he was a really good man, with the most powerful
voice I remember to have heard, and he preached, always an unwritten
sermon, but with heads set down, anything but smooth things to his
numerous congregation. Towards the close of his life he used to remark,
that when he first came to this country, the topic of sermons was "Jesus
Christ and Him crucified; now it was nothing but niggers and rum." He was
good at retort. Early one Monday morning he was going home from the
market, with some mackerel which he had just purchased strung upon his
cane. "Mr. Milton," said some passer-by, "them mackerel was caught
Sunday." "Well," was the reply, "that ain't the fishes' fault."

One burden of this worthy minister's Sunday prayer, during the sessions
of Congress and of the State legislature, was, "Counsel our councillors,
and teach our senators wisdom." By many of the stronger faith of an elder
day, his fervent supplications were believed to exercise a specific
influence upon the atmosphere, particularly in bringing needed rain at a
dry time. I have often heard it said, after the drought had continued a
good while,--"Well, Milton has prayed for rain and now we shall have it."
This reminds me of an anecdote appropriate to the topic, in that very
entertaining book, Dean Ramsay's "Reminiscences of Scottish Life and
Character." At one time when the crops were much laid by continuous
rains, and wind was earnestly desired in order to restore them to a
condition fit for the sickle,--"A minister," he says, "in his Sabbath
services expressed their wants in prayer, as follows: 'O Lord, we pray
thee to send us wind, no a rantin' tantin,' tearin' wind, but a noohin',
(noughin?) soughin', winnin' wind.'" In like manner, I have heard of a
prayer preferred by a somewhat simple New Englander, who was overheard
offering his petition behind a clump of bushes in a field: "O Lord, I
want a new coat--good cloth--none of your coarse, flimsy, slimsy, sleazy
kind of stuff, but a good piece of thick, warm, comfortable
broadcloth--such as Bill Hale wears."

It must be admitted that the reverend person was rather rough in manner;
but he had a truly kind heart. Like John Wesley, he was unfortunate in
his domestic relations; a circumstance which doubtless tended somewhat to
lessen the amiability of an originally good disposition. But,
notwithstanding his various trials and we fear conflicts at home, no one
questioned his piety. Indeed, one well acquainted with his character and
experiences, when his death was announced, at once exclaimed,--"What a
change! From pitching skillets, to handling harps!" There could be no
greater contrast than in the person and character of our long and
well-beloved Presbyterian minister, graceful in person, courteous and
affable in demeanor, accomplished in ancient learning and in that
portion of English literature which is styled classical; a devoted and
affectionate pastor, a most able and persuasive preacher; of whom
President Dwight, of Yale, is reported to have said, that there had been
scarcely such a writer of pure English since Addison. With the exception
of some failure of physical powers, towards the close of his life, he
retained these admirable characteristics and accomplishments to the end
of his more than ninety years. He always preached in gown and bands, with
black gloves upon his hands, his nether limbs encased in small-clothes
and silk stockings, until in later life he adopted the prevailing mode.
We always knew when he intended to preach, because through several
intervening yards and gardens we could see from our house the light in
his study, at a distance, of a Saturday night. His morning discourses
were usually admirable expositions of Scripture delivered without notes;
his afternoon sermons were written exercises, and we so depended upon
both, that it was a disappointment when we discovered that he was to
exchange, by the absence of the usual light. He would descend from the
contemplation of the highest themes, which address themselves to human
reason and imagination, and from the relaxation of reading "Tully," or
Horace, or Pope, who was a special favorite with him, to the preparation
of his fire-wood for domestic use, and doubtless this accustomed
saw-horse practice tended very much to the promotion and continuance both
of his bodily and mental health. In my childhood, he taught me and other,
I fear, reluctant pupils all we were capable of learning of the
Westminster Assembly's Shorter Catechism, contained, at that time, in a
small but miscellaneous volume called the Primer. He was a great lover of
the writings of Cowper, which name, in the English manner, he always
pronounced Cooper, and of the Psalms and Hymns and the lyrical
productions, in general, of Dr. Watts; and long after I had grown up, he
pointed out to me a verse in one of those Hymns, remarking upon a point
which I do not remember to have seen noticed elsewhere, that it presented
the finest specimen of alliteration in the language, as follows:--

                 "How vain are all things here below,
                    How false and yet how fair!
                  Each pleasure hath its poison too,
                    And every sweet a snare."

The eventual condition and standing of our Episcopal Church may be
inferred from the fact, that its Rector, in early times, was chosen
Bishop of the diocese, a dignity which he long piously and humbly
enjoyed. Along the beautiful street on which St. Paul's stood, and in its
immediate neighborhood, were some of the more elegant residences of the
town, and an air of superior gentility seemed to pervade the precinct, so
that some caviller saw fit to call it St. James's, in allusion to the
Christian name of the excellent Rector who succeeded the venerable
Bishop. He was, indeed, a most devoted churchman, looking upon all
persons outside of his communion as sheep wandering from the fold, and
used to say, that he considered the whole town as really belonging to his
parish. He was a person very highly esteemed for his piety and sincerity,
and as evidence of this repute, and of liberality on both sides, he
preached, by invitation, and read the service in the Presbyterian
meeting-house, on one occasion, at least, when our minister was absent
and his own pulpit was supplied. We were then under another pastor; but
some years before this manifestation of truly Christian toleration a
controversy arose between the Rector and our Presbyterian clergyman, in
regard to the obligatory observance of Christmas. It was conducted in the
newspaper of the town, then published only on two days of the week, and
to the multitude of readers appeared more spirited than edifying, as is
the case with most polemical disputes. The worthy Episcopal Doctor had
asserted on Christmas Day, that the observance of that festival was of
universal Christian obligation. The Presbyterian Doctor took up the
cudgels to demonstrate, that, although it was proper and reasonable
enough to keep the day, as a matter of religious edification, like a
lecture-day, for example, by those who saw fit to do so, yet there was no
authority, in this respect, binding upon the consciences of those who
chose to disregard it. Both of the disputants were acknowledged gentlemen
and scholars; but after much argument and learning wasted upon the
subject, it is to be feared that the controversy, through the medium of a
public journal, between two such highly respected controversialists, on a
topic of religious practice, only gave too much occasion to the scoffer.
Indeed, Johnnie Favor, the Episcopal sexton's helper, one of those
persons, reputed half-witted, who sometimes make very apposite remarks,
observed,--"Well--Christmas here, or Christmas there, I'm not so
narrer-contracted as to like to see the surplices of two such good men as
your Doctor and my Doctor draggled in the dirt."

Certainly, a tone of unusual refinement pervaded the better educated
class of the community in the old town, at the period of this relation,
and not a little stateliness of manner was kept up by some of the older
families. Indeed, I think they would compare very favorably in point of
intelligence and manners, with persons of a similar class, as described
by the great authorities heretofore referred to, and others, who have
given us vivid pictures of social life in the Scottish capital. To be
sure, the colonial days of distinct social rank had long gone by. But,
half a generation before, the town had been one of the most flourishing
and wealthy in New England, and to the counting-houses of its principal
merchants young men resorted, even from the capital of the State, to
learn the art and practice of business. Those who filled the several
learned professions were persons of the highest eminence in their several
callings,--drawing pupils around them who afterwards, and on wider fields
of action, attained great names and some of whom occupied the loftiest
civil positions in the land.

Among the students, for example, in the office of that great lawyer and
judge, Chief Justice Parsons, while he practised at the Bar, and who
subsequently attained eminence, were John Quincy Adams, afterwards
President of the United States, and Rufus King, afterwards Senator in
Congress from the State of New York, and twice Minister Plenipotentiary
to Great Britain; and Robert Treat Paine, so celebrated in his day, as
an orator and poet.[10] Of one of these eminent persons I heard a
story, formerly, from a friend of very high character as a man and a
lawyer, the late Hon. William Baylies, of West Bridgewater,
Massachusetts. It seems that while Mr. King, then a young man, was in the
practice of his profession in Boston he was detained in attendance upon
court at Plymouth, until late on Saturday evening. It was necessary for
him to be at home seasonably on Monday morning, and accordingly he
mounted his horse early on Sunday, the ordinary mode of travel, in those
days, and proceeded leisurely on his way. It was summer time; and in
passing through the township of Hanover, in Plymouth County, he
approached a plain wooden structure by the roadside, in which, as he
could see by the assemblage within, the door and windows being open, that
it was a time of religious service. Alighting, out of deference to the
character of the day, he hitched his horse and quietly entered the
building. It proved to be a Quaker meeting, and perfect silence
prevailed. At length tiring of this state of things, Mr. King arose and
began to address the assembly upon topics suitable to the day. He was an
uncommonly handsome young man, and then and ever afterwards distinguished
for extraordinary powers of eloquence. The Quakers listened with mute
amazement and admiration to the discourse of some twenty minutes'
duration, when the speaker slipped out, remounted, and proceeded on his
journey. The incident was the occasion of great and mysterious interest,
for a long time afterwards, in the quiet country neighborhood. No
imagination could conceive who the wonderful speaker might be, and many
insisted it must have been, indeed, "an angel from heaven." Some years
afterwards, at the session of a Constitutional Convention in
Massachusetts, Mr. King rose to make a motion. He had no sooner begun,
than a Quaker member started up from a back seat, and, carried away by
the first glimpse at solution of the long-standing mystery, cried out,
"That's the man that spoke in our meetin'."

Provision for the instruction of youth was liberal, and not long
previously the most famous, and I believe the longest established
academy of the day, flourished in the immediate neighborhood, in all
its glory. Of the school-books then in use, I cannot but think that
one in particular, Murray's English Reader, was a better manual than any
other which has since been produced. For it was mainly made up of extracts
from the writings of the best authors, in the best age of English
literature, and I can answer that its lessons were calculated to make
impressions on the youthful mind, never to be forgotten. But the
prevalent idea, of late years, seems to have been to nationalize
school-books, so as to narrow their teachings, and thus to make our
future fellow-citizens partisans instead of men. But literature and
learning are confined to no age or nation; and meaning in no sense to
say a word which could abate the ardor of manly patriotism in any
bosom, it is certain that much is to be learned from the history of
other people beside our own; and I suppose there are standards of high
intellectual attainment in the past,--in poetry and eloquence, and
various ranges of thought and expression,--which never have been and
are not likely to be surpassed. The deluge of modern transitory
literature had not then begun to flow. But, to say nothing of the
"Scottish Chiefs," and "Thaddeus of Warsaw," over the pages of which,
doubtless, millions of youthful eyes have formerly shed copious tears,
we had Miss Edgeworth's writings, those of Mrs. Grant, of Laggan, the
novels of Charlotte Smith, the Memoirs of Baron Trenck, and, perused a
little stealthily, Peregrine Pickle and Roderick Random; and in poetry
Henry Kirke White and Montgomery were favorites; nor am I ashamed to say,
that Cottle's "Alfred" was read aloud at our fireside of evenings, with
an interest due to the story, perhaps, as much as to its poetical
ability. Original American productions were few; the importation of
new works from abroad was not large, and the demand for reprints a
good deal limited. But we had the well-known books of sterling value at
command, and our publishers occasionally favored us with new editions.
One of my early studies was Guthrie's Grammar of Geography, a
ponderous volume of English manufacture, which belonged in our family;
and I was fascinated with Pope at almost as early an age as that in
which he first "lisped in numbers." I see, by the way, that Forster, in
his Life of Dickens, quotes from a letter of Scott, in which he refers
to the scarcity of books at Edinburgh in his time.

In connection with this reference to our means of intellectual
cultivation, I am reminded of an incident illustrative of a faculty
commonly attributed to Yankees, that is New Englanders, though there is
reason to believe that some other parts of the country are quite as
liberally gifted with the qualities of "Yorkshire." It affords a striking
instance of shrewdness on the one side, and of lamentable deficiency of
it on the other. This was before the town had exchanged its original
simpler mode of regulating its municipal affairs for the form of a city
government. On a certain occasion the School Committee became
dissatisfied with the master of one of the higher schools, after a brief
trial of his qualities, and, as delicately as the subject permitted,
requested him to resign his place. The master was not a native of the
town, or of the "region round about," so that it was a mere question of
qualifications, real or otherwise, between himself and his employers. He
demurred, unless his salary were paid him for the unexpired considerable
part of the year for which he alleged himself to have been engaged; but
finally consented, if the chairman of the committee would only furnish
him with a certificate of honorable discharge. The chairman, at this easy
rate of saving the town's money, wrote it, without suspicion of its
effect. Thereupon, the master read it, put it into his pocket, and by
virtue of the document, demanded payment of the sum in question. It was
paid; and the triumphant master forthwith proceeded--

                  "To fresh woods and pastures new."

The state of things, in regard to our reading resources, was before the
modern facilities for gadding about existed; and while those who find
time lying heavy on their hands can now steam it a hundred miles to make
a morning-call, journeying was then both more tedious and more expensive,
seldom undertaken except as an affair of business, or with the deliberate
purpose of a long-concerted visit; and a good part of the day was
consumed in travelling half that distance by public conveyance. The
consequence was, that people's pleasures, with their duties, laid mostly
at home, or near at hand. Hence family and friendly ties were more
closely drawn. The better feelings of our nature were, I think, deeper,
than when scattered over a wide but thin social surface; just as the
water in a well is more concentrated, than if diffused in the basin of a
pond. To some extent, therefore, wholesomely isolated, besides the
ordinary round of not very formal visiting parties, there were reading
circles, for those who were prompted by intellectual yearnings,
frequented by young ladies and gentlemen, married or single, at which
passages from the better class of books were read aloud by such of the
male members as felt competent to the exercise, by turns. In fact, taking
into view the intelligence, the inexpensive accomplishments, and the
unaffected manners of the fairly educated among us, it has not fallen to
the lot of most persons to meet with any society more really agreeable.
St. James's, however, and the congregation of the successors of those who
founded the First Church, who had at length become what was called
"liberal," in contrast with the orthodoxy of the rest of the town,
aspired to a higher degree of gentility and accomplishment than the
commonalty; and, in evidence that we were not bigoted, my mother would
sometimes allow me, when a boy, and desirous of some change, to attend
service of an afternoon, at the latter place of public worship with some
friends of the family who waited upon its ministrations. Of the
diversions of the common people I particularly remember one under the
curious name of a "Joppa Jine" (join); to which I allude from the oddity
of its name, derived from a part of the town so called by the river-side,
when several families of neighbors and friends contributed their
respective quota of a common feast, and repaired to the island at the
mouth of the river to enjoy a day of leisure and merriment.

In a certain class, the ancient pronunciation of many English words was
maintained, doubtless brought by the ancestors of New England families
from "home," and transmitted to their descendants; such as _airth_ for
earth, _fairm_ for firm, _sartain_ for certain, _pint_ for point, en_vy_
for envy, _ax_ with the broad _â_ for ask, _housen_ for houses, _his'n_
and _her'n_ for his and hers, _rare_ for rear; as, for instance, the
horse _rares_ up; and sounding the _l_ in would. Common enough names,
too, were clipped or contracted in English fashion. Thus, the names of
Norwood and Harwood became Norrod in sound and Harrod in spelling; and
the name of Currier, whether with any reference or not to the French
_Cuir_, for leather, was not long since uniformly pronounced _Kiah_, with
the long _[=i]_; Thurlow was strangely transformed into _Thurrill_; and
Pierpont, often formerly spelled Pierpoint, with entire neglect of its
derivation, was pronounced _Pearpint_, by old-fashioned people, the first
syllable approximating to the original formation of _pierre_.

In connection with this modification of language, I observe in a daily
paper how much a worthy old lady puzzled her minister, for a moment, by
inquiring the meaning of "silver shiners for Diana," in the Bible; but a
good deacon, at an evening meeting in the chapel of their house of
worship, in our town, sadly disturbed the gravity of the religious
assembly, by reading it _silver shins for Dinah_!

-----
 [10]  The late Mr. Edward Everett is authority (with me) for
       the story, that on the occasion of the visit of
       Washington to New England, in 1789, Parsons was
       appointed to deliver the address of welcome, on the part
       of the town, and said to his students, "Well, boys, I am
       to make this address. Now, go to work and write it, and
       I will deliver the best." He chose the one prepared by
       Adams.



CHAPTER VII.


I trust it will not be thought inappropriate to the allusion already made
to our reading circles, if I here insert a _jeu d'esprit_, the production
of one of the members, indicating a certain forwardness in the sphere of
literary investigation, and affording a plausible solution of a literary
problem, which had been so long shrouded in mystery, namely, the true
narrative of "Old Grouse in the Gun-room."

This is the name of the story to which Goldsmith alludes in his comedy,
"She Stoops to Conquer." Mr. Hardcastle, the host of the occasion, in
preparation for the dinner he is about to give his guests, charges his
rustic servants that if he should say a good thing at the table, they are
not to burst out laughing, as if they were a part of the company to be
entertained. Diggory, thereupon replies to his master,--"Then, ecod,
your worship must not tell the story of 'Ould Grouse in the Gun-room.' I
can't help laughing at that--he! he! he!--for the soul of me. We have
laughed at that these twenty years--ha! ha! ha!" Mr. Hardcastle admits,
that this pet narrative of his may properly be considered an exceptional
case. On the other hand, it has uniformly foiled the researches of
critics and commentators to ascertain what this story really was which
"Squire Hardcastle," in the exuberance of his own enjoyment of it, gave
them the liberty to laugh at, if they liked. It has been generally
supposed, indeed, that the story itself was, in fact, non-existent, and
that the ingenious author of the play merely invented the title in order
to show off the uncouth peculiarities which it was his object to
display.

Now, it so happens, that the means are not wanting for the solution of
this mystery, and in illustration of the life of a writer and a man so
interesting as Goldsmith, I am glad to be able to clear up the critical
embarrassment. Years ago, the writer of this article fell by chance into
the company of Miss Goldsmith, grandniece of Mrs. Johnson, who was
housekeeper of old Mr. Featherston, of County Kerry, Ireland. She knew
the story in question very well, and it is gratifying to be able to
verify the authenticity of the allusion of a great poet and writer in
general, of whom Dr. Johnson has said, in those familiar words in his
epitaph, that he touched nothing which he did not adorn, and whose
character has been very much misunderstood, chiefly by reason of the
misrepresentations of Boswell. This parasite of Johnson, who has given us
one of the most entertaining books of biography ever written, was jealous
not only of Goldsmith's literary reputation, so far as it might rival
that of his special idol, but also of the real hold which Goldsmith,
because of his simplicity as well as his genius, had upon the affections
of the great moralist. While he was himself admitted to the high literary
society which he frequented, on terms of sufferance chiefly, Boswell took
every pains to disparage poor Goldsmith. The poet, whose writings possess
a charm so seldom paralleled, it must be allowed, gave no little occasion
for depreciation, by his want of firmness of character; and Boswell
maliciously set forth all his singularities and weaknesses in the most
ludicrous point of view. Whoever will take pains, however, to read his
delightful "Life" by John Forster, will find the general impressions on
the subject very materially corrected, and will see, that, if the
hard-driven bard had many faults, he had also many virtues, which, as
Lord Bacon remarks, is "the posy of the best characters."

But to the veritable story of "Old Grouse in the Gun-room." It seems,
according to the narrative of Mrs. Johnson, that the family of Mr.
Featherston were seated at the tea-table, at the close of a chilly day, a
bright fire blazing on the hearth, and the servants, as usual, being in
attendance. On a sudden, a tremendous crash was heard in a distant part
of the ancient mansion, followed by a succession of wails of the most
lugubrious and unearthly character, which reverberated through the
echoing passage-ways of the house. Whatever the cause of the sounds might
be, there was no doubt they were of the most horrifying description. The
family, consisting of the 'Squire, a maiden sister, and one or two
younger persons, jumped from their seats in the utmost consternation,
while Patrick and the rest of the domestics rushed from the room in a
state of terror more easily to be conceived than described, and huddled
together in the kitchen, as far as possible from the occasion of their
fright.

Imagine a lonely country-house, a quiet and well-ordered family seated
at their evening meal, after dark, of a somewhat gloomy day, the
apartment imperfectly lighted by the glowing fire, and according to such
conveniences for the purpose as old times ordinarily afforded; the
conversation, perhaps, turning on such unexciting topics as the weather,
past, present, and to come, or the thoughts reverting, it may be, to such
mundane topics as the expected game of whist or backgammon,--and the
scene suddenly broken in upon by the most startling and terrific sounds,
which seemed to result from no intelligible cause, and for which it
seemed impossible to account by reference to any merely human agency. The
young folks, after their first scream of terror, sat dumb, pale, and
utterly helpless.

"It's the Banshee!" screamed Aunt Nelly, sinking back, in a faint, into
her chair.

"It's the devil, I believe," cried the 'Squire, who, notwithstanding age
and infirmity, retained a good deal of that original pluck, which had
formerly distinguished him as an officer in his Majesty's military
service. "Yes, it is the devil, I verily believe; and there is no way but
to send for the priest, to get him out of a house that never was troubled
in this way before. Where are those sneaking curs?" as Patrick and the
rest in a body peeped into the room through the door they had forgotten
to shut in their flight, and too much frightened to stay quietly
anywhere. "Patrick," called out the 'Squire, "go at once for Father
O'Flaherty."

At this moment, another preternatural yell, long-toned and of the most
mournful cadence, burst upon their ears, and the dismayed servants fairly
tumbled over each other and sprawled and scrambled through the passage,
in their haste to get away. The 'Squire followed and ordered Patrick
forthwith to mount Sorrel and hasten for the priest, at the village, a
mile or more away.

"O Lord! your worship," cried that valiant man-of-all-work,--though aided
in the day-time by two or three assistants from the village,--"O Lord!
your worship! only ask me anything but that"--as, of course, on such
occasions people are ready to do all but the very thing which the
exigency demands,--"O Lord! your worship's honor! I couldn't for the
world go round _that_ corner of the house, to get to the stable; but if
Nancy here--now Nancy, darlint, I know you will, honey--if she'll only go
with me, I'll run for his reverence as fast as my poor legs, that's all
of a tremble, will carry me"--shrewdly reflecting, as did Nancy also,
that the farther they left the house behind, they left the danger, too.
This affair being hastily arranged, as the two ready messengers proceeded
towards the door, a quick step was heard upon the gravel, followed by an
emphatic knock, and the embodied household fell back with renewed
trepidation; when fortunately who should it be but Father O'Flaherty
himself, who found the 'Squire, his family, and servants all huddled
together in the hall.

"Good-evening to you, 'Squire," said he; "and faix, what is the matter
that you all look so pale? The holy saints forbid that any ill luck has
come to this house!"

Again, rang echoing through the open doors and empty rooms the same
portentous sound, rendered none the less terrific that its tones were
partly subdued by distance. "Holy Father!" exclaimed the priest, crossing
himself--"what is that? Has Satan dared to cross this blessed
threshold?"

Upon this, half a dozen tongues began to relate the circumstances of
terrors only too manifest; but Mr. Featherston silenced them, and
proposed to Father O'Flaherty to accompany him to the investigation of
the mystery. Accordingly they solemnly proceeded towards the scene of
alarm, the 'Squire having provided himself with a long-disused sword
which hung over his mantel-piece, and the priest, more spiritually,
brandishing his cross, and muttering "_Vade retro, Satanas!_" and such
other exorcisms as occurred to him on the way. The whole body of the
inmates of the mansion followed, closely though tremulously, upon the
footsteps of the advanced guard, and, indeed, afraid to be left behind.
As they reached the neighborhood of the door, whence the sounds appeared
to come, there was a truly awful noise of scampering round the room and
pattering, as it were, within.

"The saints defend us!" cried the priest, falling back, as this new
demonstration was responded to by the screams of the females, who sank to
the floor, in the extremity of their terror, when another horrible yell
sounded close at hand.

"It's he, I verily believe," said the priest; "the holy saints be about
us! It's he, I wager. Lord, forgive us! for I heard the sound of his
hoofs. But where's the dog?"

"The dog!" cried the 'Squire. "Why didn't I think of that before! Open
the door, I say, Pat, you cowardly vagabond!"

At this instant, there was a tremendous bounce against the door, which
forced the latch, and out tumbled Old Grouse, capering among the party,
who still screamed and scattered out of his way, not yet convinced that
the Evil One was not loosed and bodily among them.

The relieved household at length returned to their interrupted
avocations, and Pat declared to the folks in the kitchen, that all the
while he knew it was the dog, only he kept up the fright for the sake of
the joke. It seemed that the 'Squire had been out with his gun that day,
and had shut the big dog which accompanied him into the gun-room, upon
his return. The dog, no doubt fatigued with his excursion, had stretched
himself out in a corner of the room, where various articles tending to
his comfort lay disposed. He had remained, until tired of his confinement
he had risen, and fumbling about had thrown down an ancient heavy shield,
which produced the first cause of alarm, no less to himself than to the
household. The moon shining through the window had attracted his
attention, and he began to bay, as dogs sometimes will. The sudden
fright, and the distance of the gun-room from the family apartment,
served to modify the intonation, and in his confusion of mind Mr.
Featherston failed to recognize his voice. "Indeed," said he, "I never
knew the whelp to bay before."

As time wore on, and the story had often been told by him, it lost none
of its original features, except, perhaps, the remembrance of his own
agitation. But the fright of the family and his domestics, the assent of
the priest to their superstitious fears, and the mortal terror which
overwhelmed them, when out bounded the shaggy black monster of a dog and
in an instant was pawing them all round, in his ecstasy of escape, and
whatever else was ludicrous in the adventure, was oftentimes related by
the 'Squire, with all the aid it could derive from a somewhat lively
imagination and considerable power of native eloquence.

And now, if I have only invented this story of "Old Grouse in the
Gun-room," for the entertainment of my readers, I have at least attached
a tale, which may be thought to have some plausibility, to a famous
title, which has run through the world, for so many years, without any
tale at all.



CHAPTER VIII.


In a note at the end of Chapter V. of "Waverley," Sir Walter Scott
remarks:--"These introductory chapters have been a good deal censured as
tedious and unnecessary. Yet there are circumstances recorded in them
which the author has not been able to persuade himself to retract or
cancel." So if, in giving certain loose hints rather than sketches of
characters and manners in a very interesting town, ardently beloved by
all who have ever had any near connection with it, during a former
generation of its inhabitants, I should be thought to have set down too
many "unconsidered trifles," I can only shelter myself under the shadow
of his great name, and plead that I had not the heart to leave them out,
as they occurred to my memory while writing; and however they may lack,
as they necessarily must, the storied value of Sir Walter's fascinating
fictions, they have at least this merit,--that every narrative and
anecdote in these pages is a veritable fact.

I should not wonder, however, if a couple of stories or so, which I am
about to relate, were looked upon as purely fictitious by the
philosophical reader. I do not pretend that the facts stated were within
my own experience, only that I positively heard them related by persons
of the strictest veracity, who were actual observers or actors in the
transactions of which they professed to give an account. People ridicule,
nowadays, when in company, the superstitions of earlier times; though it
is not unlikely that the nerves of some of the boldest contemners of
marvellous manifestations, once universally accepted as true, might still
tremble, if alone and under circumstances calculated to awaken
apprehension and to puzzle the understanding. Notwithstanding the
accepted theory, that the very pretence of witchcraft, for example, was
exploded a hundred and fifty years ago, and the idea of an apparition, in
spite of Dr. Johnson's belief, and that of others as wise and stout as
he, would be scouted as preposterous in cultivated circles, I believe
that there are many places in New England where undoubting faith in both
superstitions still prevails, and I know that within a third part of the
period above mentioned, very many creditable persons in a certain place
in New England accepted the strangest occurrences of both kinds, upon the
supposed evidence of their sober senses.

We will imagine, then, that we are sitting in a circle around the
fire-place in Uncle Richard's spacious kitchen, on the evening of
Christmas-day, the room lighted only by the blazing logs upon the hearth,
the glow of which glanced along the walls and drew brilliant reflections
from the brightly-scoured dishes and other utensils of metal, which
stood ranged upon the shelves. We were quite a party, and had made merry,
according to our fashion, during the day. Uncle Richard was himself the
most conspicuous of the group. I have said that he was well-to-do, and he
was certainly a gentleman in spirit and bearing. The black dress which he
assumed on Sundays, and other occasions of public importance, set off his
figure well, and his white hair gathered into a pig-tail behind and tied
up with a ribbon by some one of his daughters, of a morning, gave him a
venerable appearance, at least in the eyes of us youngsters, beyond what
the actual number of his years warranted. For I have observed that those
who may have seemed to us approaching the verge of old age, in our youth,
begin to look almost like coevals again, as we ourselves have advanced in
the stage of manhood. Aunt Judith, on the other hand, who was a maiden
lady of a certain age, was dressed with all the care and neatness which
somewhat scanty means enabled her to apply, and, as I am about to produce
her as a witness, I feel it incumbent upon me to asseverate, that, being
a devoutly religious woman, I have never met in my life with a more
conscientious and scrupulously truth-telling person. After tea, my uncle
had requested the young people present to sing a new Christmas Hymn, not
to be found in the Prayer Book, but the production of a devout poetical
acquaintance, in the performance of which he joined with a bass voice of
singular compass and melody.

                         THE CHRISTMAS HYMN.

                  How hallowed grew the night,
                  When the auspicious light
          Of heaven descending shone along the plain;
                  And wondering shepherds heard
                  The soul-inspiring word,
          That swelled exultant the celestial strain!

                 "Peace and good-will to earth,
                  For, lo, a Saviour's birth!"
          So the high song addressed the simple swains;
                 "The gates of life again
                  Open to guilty men,
          For God, the God of love, eternal reigns!"

                  What though all earth was still,
                  And no ecstatic thrill
          In wakening lands the gracious message hailed;
                  Yet through heaven's highest cope
                  Echoed immortal hope,
          And hell's dark caves beneath trembled and wailed.

                  Let then creation sing,--
                  Hail, sovereign priest and king!
          Blest be thy holy name and holy Word!
                  Hail, Son of God Most High,
                  Helper forever nigh,--
          Hail, Prince of Peace and universal Lord!

The conversation, at such times, is very apt to run into story-telling,
among those who have any stores of memory, or are possessed of inventive
faculties, and often turns upon such inexplicable incidents as might well
bewilder the imaginations of simple country folks. My uncle gave us an
account of a lad not long before in his employ, who laughed at the idea
of supernatural appearances, and was indeed afraid of nothing. "The young
scamp," said he, "though I don't know why I should call him so, for he
was as honest as he was bold,--appeared so thoroughly fearless, that it
sometimes looked like mere bravado (I am afraid he pronounced it
_brave-ardor_); and a companion who also lived with us resolved to put
his courage to the test. Accordingly, at dusk one evening, when Jack was
about to lead the horse to the pasture, he provided himself with a sheet,
and placed himself on one end of the crossbeam which rested on the rather
high posts of the gate. Jack came whistling along, leading the horse,
and, opening the gate, slipping off the halter, gave the animal a slap
with it; and as he shut the gate cocked up his eye at the elevated
figure. "And as for you, Mr. Devil," says he, "you may sit there just as
long as you please." A decent respect for the proprieties of his position
kept the scarecrow quiet until Jack was well on his way to the house
which was not far distant. Pretty soon the door was burst open, and, to
our alarm, some one tumbled in upon the floor in an agony of terror, as
we soon discovered, pale as a ghost and scarcely able to speak. As soon
as he recovered some degree of self-possession, he could barely stutter
out,--"When Jack got out of sight--I turned to get down--and there sat
another one, on the other post--looking just like me!"[11]

A great deal was thereupon said about the power of the imagination and
the effect it was likely to have upon one who had placed himself in such
an equivocal situation, and the terrors which, under its influence, might
naturally revert to him, who in an excited state of his own nerves had
endeavored to inflict such terrors upon another. Hereupon there was a
general call upon Aunt Judith, from the youngsters present, to tell us
something about reputed witches in her younger days,--a subject in regard
to which she was said to be able to make some remarkable statements,
though as yet we had never obtained from her any satisfactory information
about it. She seemed a little reluctant to indulge our curiosity.

"As to witches," said my uncle Richard, gravely, "I don't know. Whether
the denunciations of them in Holy Writ are intended to apply to any
actually supernatural power possessed by them, or only to the pretence of
it,--and both are mischievous in their effect on the popular mind,--I
shall not undertake to say. It is certain that the poor old women who are
thus stigmatized seem to have little power to help themselves in this
world, or, if real tamperers with the powers of darkness, any enjoyable
expectations from the other. But this I do know, that I was riding, not
many days since, with my lawyer, a man of considerable acuteness, though
a little eccentric at times, coming from K--'s Island, where we had been
on some business; and as we neared the turn of the causeway to the main
road, he pulled up the chaise, jumped out, and placing himself on a broad
flat rock by the road-side, began violently to dance up and down and to
shake his clothes. 'Good Heavens!' cried I, 'are you mad?' 'Oh, no,' said
he, resuming his seat, 'but my mother always told me, that whenever I was
coming away from K--'s Island, I must stand upon that rock and shake the
witches off!'"

"But your story, Aunt Judith! your story," we all cried out, and after a
little more hesitation the good woman _prit la parole_, as Madame de
Stäel so often phrases it in "Corinne."

"When I was a grown-up girl," said she, "I and my older sister, who had
lost her husband at sea, lived with my mother, who was also a widow. We
had few of this world's goods, but health and energy enough to take care
of ourselves. At one time, we moved into half a house, in a decent
quarter of the town, the other part of which was occupied by an old woman
called by the neighbors 'Granny Holt.' Coming from a street of the town
at some distance, we had heard nothing that I remember about her; but the
day had not gone by, before it was made fully known to us by such
acquaintances as we saw, that we had taken up our abode in the same house
with a person of a very crabbed disposition, whom all the neighborhood
looked upon as a witch. This was not very agreeable news, but we tried
to make the best of it. Our house was near the river-side, and we were
surrounded by the families of those who followed the sea, and we
endeavored to flatter ourselves with the idea, that idle tales of
marvelous things are very common among that class of population; and that
the stories we heard were mere gossip, as we whispered to ourselves, for
fear of being overheard through the thin partition which divided us from
the other tenant. But, 'No!' said one of our callers in a low voice--one
of the Pearse girls (a young lady, by the way, about seventy, but Aunt
Judith was of a certain age); 'I tell you it's as true as a sermon in the
meetin'-house. You'll soon find out what she can do. Why, there's young
Stout, as fine a lad as ever walked the streets, or stood by the helm of
his vessel in a gale o' wind; and look at him now, pale and cadaverous,
and walking round people's gardens, on the edge of narrow fences where
nobody but a rope-dancer, with a pole in his hands, could keep his
balance, and a hundred more such antics; everybody knows she bewitched
him.'

"'But what for?' we asked.

"'Oh, they had a quarrel, and pretty soon he began to cut these capers.'

"My sister Ann, the widow, however, who had always a brave spirit,
declared that she did not care a fig for all the witches in Christendom;
but I must own that I was very much alarmed. You may be sure, we none of
us much liked this sort of greeting, on the first day of our entering
into our new habitation, and we prepared to retire early, my mother, who
was a truly pious person, trusting to the only sure defence. Upon going
to my chamber, I found there was no fastening to the door; in fact the
handle itself was quite out of kilter, and it could not be shut tight. I
moved up to it, therefore, a chest of drawers, putting some things on
top, and thus brought the door close. I was just about to blow out the
candle to get into bed, when I heard a scrambling in the chimney, and you
may believe it or not, but it's the solemn truth--a black cat jumped from
the fire-place, ran and leaped a-top of the things I had placed against
the door, put her paw upon the handle of it, gave me one sidelong glance,
opened the door itself and passed out. I was too frightened for anything
but to wrap myself thoroughly in the bedclothes, and trembling with
terror, at last fell into a troubled sleep."

"Are you sure, Aunt Judith," said my uncle Richard, "that the cat did not
go under the bed?"

"I tell you, as plainly as I see you now, I saw her open the door, look
round at me with that malicious kind of expression, go out and shut the
door behind her; and in the morning everything I had piled up against it
was unmoved."

"It must have been the ghost of a cat, then," said my uncle; "but did
anything else happen, afterwards?"

"Yes, in a few days we had got a baking ready and the oven heated, when
the old woman came in with an armful of wood, threw it down on the
hearth, and said she wanted to bake. The oven was for the use of both
parts of the house; but we told her as soon as we had got through she
should have it. She went off muttering, and when we thought our batch was
done and went to take it out, it was burned just as black as a coal."

"I am afraid," said my uncle, "you let it stay in too long, or the oven
was too hot."

"You may laugh as much as you please," replied Aunt Judith, with spirit,
"but I tell you what I actually saw with my own eyes. We did not stay
longer in that house than we could find another place; but before we left
something took place which perhaps you'll not find it so easy to explain.
Young William Stout's folks had been so troubled about him, and the
doctors said they could do nothing, that they determined to try a
'project.'"

I may as well explain what Aunt Judith's modesty prevented her from
doing; that a "project" was to inclose a certain liquid emanation of the
afflicted person in a phial tightly stopped, and to put it over the fire
in a pot to boil. Of course, as in the case of the sympathetic remedies
described by Sir Kenelm Digby and practised by him, as the contents of
the phial boil, the witch burns, and she is inevitably detected by the
scorching she gets and the scars it leaves behind. It is from this
circumstance, undoubtedly, that the nursery rhyme derives its
authority,--

                   "Hinx minx, the old witch winks,
                    The fat begins to fry," etc.

This is precisely the operation of the process in question.

"Accordingly," continued Aunt Judith, "the Stout folks made all their
preparations, in company with some trusty neighbors; the doors were
fastened, and exactly at twelve o'clock the 'project' was begun.
Everything went on well; but, as often happens in such cases, something
was forgotten, or the witches' master interferes; for it seemed, after a
while, that more water was wanted, and one of the company took the pail
to go to the well for it. As he cautiously opened the door, there to
their horror stood Granny Holt, in the darkness of midnight! She came in
grinning and complimenting, and without expressing surprise at finding so
many persons together, at such an unusual hour, or making any inquiry as
to the reason, she said, 'one of their folks was taken sick and seeing a
light there, she had come over to beg some herbs.' There was the end of
the _project_, and I don't know as it was ever tried again."

"Were you there, yourself?" asked Uncle Richard.

"No, I can only swear to the black cat and the burnt pies; but everybody
in our neighborhood knew all about the project and Granny Holt's breaking
it up."

We had become pretty well stirred up by this time, but as is likely to be
the case under such circumstances, were eager for whatever other marvel
might be forthcoming; for no matter how intelligent or incredulous the
circle of hearers may be, there is something strangely fascinating in
these weird stories. People may affect indifference "amidst the blazing
light of the nineteenth century;" but I think that of a dark night, in a
lonely spot, the starting up of so familiar a creature as a white horse,
for instance, would set the strongest nerves into perturbation, at the
idea of something ghostly. Indeed, Addison declared in his day, that
there "was not a village in England that had not a ghost in it; the
churchyards were haunted; nor was there a peasant who had not seen a
spirit."

"Well, Aunt Judith," said Uncle Richard, "these wonderful things seem to
have very much gone by, in our day, or else people, for some reason, take
less notice of them than formerly. Witches, nowadays, are characters
entirely unknown, except," he gallantly remarked, "for the sometimes
really inexplicable fascinations of members of your own sex; and, except
in one singular instance, I have known of no appearances which could not
be rationally accounted for. I have heard my father, however, tell of one
which, according to the tradition, manifested itself, one hundred years
ago or more, upon a bridge, over the Ipswich River, in our Essex County
town of Topsfield, and was the terror of all the country round. He
appeared in the shape of a monstrous hog, taking his station, at night,
in the very centre of the bridge; and those who had occasion to cross it,
on horseback or on foot, were either fain to turn back, as he encountered
them, bristling and snarling, or rushed by, if their occasion demanded
it, in a state of extraordinary trepidation. At length, Parson Capen, the
worthy minister of the town, riding up to the bridge one evening, saw the
spectre in his usual position. Nothing daunted, in virtue of his holy
office, the good man thus accosted him: 'You that were once an angel of
light, ain't you ashamed to appear in the shape of a dirty swine?' This
expostulation was too much for the foul fiend, who at once jumped over
the railing of the bridge into the river, and was no more seen."

Amongst others of the few guests of the evening was a young gentleman, a
member of one of the learned professions, who was accounted an
intellectual person and was of rather grave demeanor. Though known to
have been the author of occasional verses which gained applause, he would
not have been thought likely to be the subject of any extraordinary
hallucination. He was an intimate friend of our family, and on certain
occasions of unusual excitement, if not danger, in the midst of the
various adventures of young people, had shown a singular firmness of
nerve and presence of mind, and was thought to be in fact insensible to
fear. He had listened to the story of the bold lad who saw the supposed
apparition on the gate-post, and to that of the Topsfield spectre, with
much the same interest as that which Marmion exhibited at Sir David
Lindesay's narrative of the appearance of the beloved Apostle to King
James in Linlithgow. Apparently induced by a similar irresistible impulse
to that which drew from the redoubted warrior of Scott's fascinating poem
the rehearsal of his nocturnal adventure, our guest volunteered a
relation quite as remarkable.

"I will tell you a story," said he, "of something unaccountable which
once happened to me, though the circumstances are still so vivid in my
memory, that I look back upon it with a sort of superstitious dread, and
feel a decided reluctance in appealing to the sympathy of others, in
regard to an incident which seemed exclusively addressed to myself and
was confined to my own sole experience.

"In my senior year at College, now as you know, not many years since, I
was appointed by my class to prepare for delivery, on what is called
Class Day, a literary exercise,--in fact a poem, in anticipation of the
usual Commencement performances, and was at home, during the preceding
long vacation, making ready for this event. The writing of poetry for
public recitation before a critical audience is a rather exacting
occupation, and my ambition was naturally excited to do the best in my
power. Indeed, the work absorbed all my faculties; but I preferred to
write during the still hours of the night, rather than amidst the
ordinary distractions of the day, spending that period, usually,
wandering in the neighboring fields and woods, or in other diversions.
The season was summer, and I was sitting one night at an open window,
committing to paper such thoughts as occurred to me, by the light of a
single candle,--for lamps were then not very common and gas was entirely
unknown. Outside, there was not a sound, for the whole town was buried in
profound sleep, and our own household was in the same state of repose. It
was just on the stroke of twelve. Our house was a very ancient one,
though I never heard that there was anything peculiarly remarkable in its
history. Sitting thus, and thus engaged in serious, solitary
contemplation, the sudden fall of something heavy in the garret overhead
gave me a momentary start. I could compare it to nothing but to the
effect likely to be produced by something as solid as a smaller
description of cannon-ball, though it afterwards appeared to have
attracted the attention of no one else in the family. Supposing that
some article of furniture had accidentally fallen, the noise of which had
been rendered more noticeable by the perfect stillness of the night, I
pursued my occupation, until I felt disposed for sleep. On the following
night, while engaged in the same way, and at the same midnight hour, came
the same heavy, sharp, distinct thud upon the floor directly above my
head. I was disposed to philosophize on the subject, and, though the
coincidence was certainly peculiar, I still conceived that this unusual
sound, at such an unusual hour, might be attributed to some natural
cause. Perhaps, a heavy cat might have jumped down from beams above, on
both occasions, and the noise was magnified by the otherwise unbroken
stillness, though so far as I remember we kept no such cat of our own. I
am sure that the idea of anything supernatural scarcely occurred to me,
or was dismissed with derision. Nevertheless, the circumstances were
peculiar enough to induce me to make a thorough examination of the garret
on the following morning, and I was struck by the fact, that it was
perfectly bare of any article of furniture above my chamber, or in the
neighborhood of that part of the attic, which could have fallen. I was
naturally a good deal perplexed at an occurrence for which there seemed
no rational means of accounting, but I kept my own counsel. On the third
night, at the same hour, when the clear bell from the steeple of a
meeting-house not far distant had just tolled twelve, came the same
sudden, single, distinct sound of a fall on the floor, directly over my
head. I will not say as Marmion did, on the occasion above referred
to,--

               "'I care not though the truth I show,--
                 I trembled with affright.'

"On the contrary, though not a little disturbed by incidents so
unaccountable, and rendered by the interruption quite unfit to pursue my
occupation further, I deliberately undressed, said my prayers, put out my
candle, and went to bed. It was a bright starlight night, and the two
windows of my chamber made objects within indistinctly visible. No sooner
had I laid my head upon the pillow, than through a door at the foot of my
bed appeared a slowly moving figure, turning the corner of the bed and
approaching the side of it upon which I lay. I could distinctly see its
outlines, and it seemed to me apparelled like a monk, with a hood drawn
over its features, and long trailing garments. As Eliphaz the Temanite,
under similar circumstances, has related,--'the hair of my flesh stood
up.' But I did not quite lose my self-possession. As the figure came
nearer, I instantly threw off the bedclothes and jumped towards it into
the middle of the room,--and it was gone! Though startled enough at so
strange an occurrence, I reflected that it must be an illusion produced
by some casual disorder of the natural faculties, and returned to bed
and slept as usual until morning. But the next day I was much more
disturbed in recalling the several circumstances of this extraordinary
visitation. The repeated previous heavy blows upon the floor, and their
apparent consummation in the vision I supposed myself to have seen, made
me, as Othello says, 'perplexed in the extreme.' On that day I told my
mother the story; she laughed at the idea of supernatural appearances,
perhaps to quiet her son's emotion; but she said she was afraid of no
ghosts, proposed an exchange of chambers, and this accommodation at once
took place. But though I finished and delivered the poem in question, I
continued to muse by myself upon what had occurred, unwilling to speak to
any one about it. It was many months before I recovered from the shock to
my nervous system. Reflecting upon it at the time, again I summoned
whatever philosophy I had at command, as well as I could. I conceived
that possibly in the excitement of verse-writing, in the silence of the
night, some tenseness had affected the drum of my ear; that hearing, or
imagining that I heard some unusual sound, amid the perfect stillness
around me, a continuous disordered state of physical functions had
produced a similar effect at a correspondent hour; and that this
experience not unnaturally culminated in the spectral visitation."

We heard the story in terror, and put little faith in the theory of
explanation.

"But," said my uncle Richard, himself a good deal amazed at the
narrative, "did anything happen afterwards, to account for what you have
told us?"

"Nothing whatever," replied our friend.

"Did you ever sleep in that chamber again?"

"Yes, some years afterwards. It so happened that during several weeks in
the summer, our whole family except myself, was away. My mother was in
close attendance upon sick members of my sister's family. My brothers
were at sea, and even our ordinary servant was dismissed for the
occasion. When the time for rest arrived, it was my habit to let myself
into the house, to proceed to the same chamber, usually without a light,
and go to bed. One night, putting my hand upon the pillow, I felt
something soft and started back, but again reaching forward, the object
proved to be a dove that had flown into the open window, and securing it
without difficulty I gave that symbol of innocence immediate release.
Perhaps, it was my former visitant in a less forbidding form. But this,
as well as the other, passed into the course of ordinary events."

I need not say, that we had listened to this extraordinary narrative with
rapt attention and in breathless silence. Our friend had told his story
with emotion, certainly, but still with serious deliberation, and
exhibiting no undue signs of excitement. No one seemed disposed to make
any observation upon it, and indeed most of the company were utterly
incapable of the effort of speech. In a few moments, he remarked that he
would quote to us a brief passage from Dante's great poem which was
applicable to the subject, and did so as follows:--

          ... "Now, O reader! mark,
            And if my tale thou slowly shalt receive,
          Thy doubt will cause in me no great surprise,
            For I, who saw it, scarcely can believe."[12]

"But, Uncle Richard," was now the cry, "you said you had once seen an
apparition, or something like one; please tell us all about it."

"I certainly saw something strange," said he, "on more than one occasion,
which has never yet been accounted for; and I suppose it is now too late
to expect it. If it was really a matter of concert and collusion, the
motive for it has never been discovered. You remember the open space in
town, in front of the Reverend Mr. ----'s meeting-house. Your house, as
you know, Jemmie," addressing me, "looks directly up the street towards
this square, and to the somewhat old-fashioned mansion opposite the
meeting-house. On one side of the square was a small dwelling, occupied
by several distant relatives of ours; Aunt Midkiff (Metcalf), Aunt
Foggison (Ferguson, so called), and her sister, Miss Samples (Mrs.
Semple), with the daughter of our Aunt Foggison, Mrs. Lane, and her only
child. You remember, sister," addressing my mother, "that you have told
me, that one night, after you had gone to bed, your lamented husband
stood at the window looking up the street towards the old house above, of
which he had a complete view. Upon your asking what detained him, he
called you up, and it was evident to you both that one chamber of the
house was in a light blaze. Persons appeared to be moving rapidly around
it, and, as it were, pulling down the curtains of the bed, which looked
as if on fire. After a little time the appearance gradually ceased, and
your husband remarking that he would inquire in the morning of his
neighbor, a highly respectable lawyer, who occupied the house, what was
the cause of the extraordinary spectacle of the night before, he also
retired. But upon putting the question to his acquaintance on the
following morning, he seemed astonished, and utterly denied that anything
unusual had taken place in the chamber, which was the one occupied by
himself and his wife, or that they had been at all disturbed during the
night.

"Now all this," continued my uncle, "is quite consistent with the
supposition, that this gentleman may have had some secret motive for
concealing the fact of a threatened conflagration, pretty sure, if
known, to become the town talk and perhaps to expose him to inconvenient
inquiries; and though a strictly moral and religious man, he may have
thought that the circumstances warranted a direct denial of the matter,
seeing it was, as it turned out, an affair of purely domestic concern."

My mother, I thought, looked at my uncle a little anxiously, and seemed
about to make a movement for our departure; but we urged him to tell us
to what strange thing he had referred, and why he had so particularly
described the situation and characteristics of this square, as if there
were something more in relation to it which it might interest us to know;
for you may be sure our mother had never mentioned to us children
anything likely to alarm us.

"I am afraid," said he, at last "that something, which really did happen
in front of the house I have spoken of, will startle you young folks, and
perhaps it is foolish to relate it, as you seem already quite excited
enough; but I will premise by saying, that I will only tell you what I
saw myself, or heard from those upon whose word I could implicitly rely;
and, moreover, that I do not believe in ghosts, however singular the
facts in question may appear. Of course, you know, sister," addressing my
mother, "my calls at your house were sometimes in the evening, after
attending the market or to other business during the day. It was during
one of your husband's absences at sea, that we were sitting around the
fire of a wintry night, when a lively neighbor, a lady who took much
interest in whatever was going on, came in evidently in a state of
agitation, and taking her seat, with very brief greeting, broke out with
the exclamation, 'There he is again!' I did not understand what this
meant, but it was soon explained to us that, for a week or ten days past,
some person, or figure, or whatever it might be, had been observed
walking fore and aft, in front of the house opposite the meeting-house,
at a certain hour of the evening, and though many had passed, no one had
recognized him, nor did he take any notice whatever of any one whom he
met. He was said to wear a pea-jacket buttoned to the chin, and a glazed
hat, as if prepared for any kind of weather; or, as the gossips
afterwards said, indicating the fact that he was the forerunner of the
loss of not a few masters of vessels residing in the neighborhood, who
perished at sea during the storms of that season. I took my hat and went
out to see if I could discover anything uncommon. It was a moonlight
night, with a light fall of snow upon the ground. As I passed up the
short street to the square, Aunt Foggison's chamber window was thrown
open, and her daughter's voice was plainly heard berating the supposed
spectral night-walker. 'What are you doing there, you good-for-nothing
scamp, you?' cried she, in a voice that must have reached any mortal
ears; 'why don't you go home to your family, if you've got any family, or
wherever else you belong, instead of stalking up and down here,
frightening honest folks out of their senses?' Overcome perhaps by the
vigor of her expostulation, the window was shut down with a slam. As I
advanced, though I certainly had a full view of a human-looking figure
upon its round and at no great distance either, and my senses had been
confirmed by the objurgations addressed to it by our worthy relative,
when I actually reached the ground of his perambulations, prepared to
seize a single man by the collar and learn what he was about, it is
certain that he was no longer visible. I returned to the house and made
report of my unsuccessful doings, and unhitched my horse and drove home.
I learned, a few days afterwards, that the figure regularly appeared,
giving one sign of vitality by a regular tramp--tramp--tramp--upon the
frozen ground, so far as any one was disposed to listen, and spreading
consternation throughout the vicinity. The affair at length became
unendurable. Women were afraid to go into the street, and, for that, a
good many men too, and it was really so serious, that, as I learned, it
was resolved to form what is called, I believe, a cordon, and gradually
approaching the place simultaneously from every avenue, so to inclose him
that escape would be impossible. Being much acquainted with the people of
that part of the town, I was invited to join the company, and accordingly
drove in seasonably for the purpose. Certainly, most sober people
believed the whole was but some trick, which it only needed reasonable
pains to discover and defeat. The mysterious figure, it seemed, continued
to walk, ignorant of or indifferent to our devices.

"There were three main avenues, by streets, to the premises, together
with a narrow passage way leading from one of the streets to another. At
the appointed hour we duly assembled on our several stations. Our
director was 'a rude and boisterous captain of the sea'"--(for Uncle
Richard could sometimes be poetical, at least in the way of quoting
Shakespeare). "It had been arranged by him that, being on our posts, at a
fixed moment, we should move rapidly up the several avenues and so join
forces as to form a circle inclosing the open space, and gradually
contracting our company, if the rogue was then within our compass we
should have him sure. The arrangement had been made in profound secrecy,
and if any there were traitors, I was not aware of it. Sure enough there
was our guest on his usual stroll. As our circle speedily drew in, and
just as hands were stretched out to seize him--presto, as the jugglers
say--he was gone!"

"By the jumping gingerbread!" exclaimed Thurlow, our uncle's hired man,
springing from his chair by the wall, outside of our family
party,--seeing this was Christmas night.

"Oh dear sus!" cried Sally Bannocks, our own particular help of many
years, from the like position.

"Our detective band," resumed my uncle, "looked at one another in
amazement, and after some hard swearing from a few of the roughest, and
the exchange of a hasty 'good-night,' dispersed, as far as convenient in
companies of two or three, and departed, a good deal disconcerted, to
their several places of abode. The same experiment was tried on two or
three other occasions, as I was informed by friends, with no better
success. Spectre or not, he always found means to elude them; and there
were always those who, having no other means of accounting for his
evasion, insisted upon it that he must have had confederates among those
who sought to arrest him."

"Could he not have escaped slyly into the house?" asked some incredulous
inquirer.

"That was hardly likely, with so many eyes upon him. Besides there was
nobody there but women and children, excessively alarmed themselves, the
husband, Captain Y----, being at sea, and one of those who was afterwards
known to have been lost with all his crew, upon nearing our dangerous
coast."

"But why did not the city government make a piece of work of putting an
end to such a scandal?" inquired a doubter in spectral visitations.

"Well, I suspect a whole body of police could do little towards capturing
an actual ghost; and then, too, there was at that time no city and no
such force. Our town government consisted of mostly ancient citizens, and
three or four constables, all of whom, probably, preferred to remain
quietly and comfortably at home, instead of venturing out into the wintry
night air, to hunt up ghosts."

"Why didn't somebody try the effect of a bullet?" inquired another.

"Well, shooting was a rather violent remedy; and as for firing at a
ghost, I believe every one was afraid."

"Wasn't it strange, considering that he must have had some particular
object in haunting that spot, and was likely, therefore, to be found out
by some of the neighborhood by his face, or dress, or figure, or gait, or
in some way or other, if a real person, that he never was recognized?"
asked another of our evening guests.

"It was strange enough," said my uncle; "but few, if any, got very near
him, and they perhaps, casual passers-by, who paid no attention to the
fact. As for him, he only walked steadily backward and forward, turning
neither to the right nor to the left, except at each end of his beat;
replying to no interrogatories, and appearing utterly unconscious of any
epithets or railings which from a distance were hurled at him. Only one
man ever professed to have seen his face."

"Who was that, uncle?" we all eagerly exclaimed.

"Late one stormy night, when the snow was falling fast," continued my
uncle,--"and one would suppose that any reasonable creature of flesh and
blood would wish to be safely housed,--an hostler named Dobbin, who had
charge of a stable at one end of the street, was trudging home, swinging
a lantern in his hand, to the small house in which he lived, at a little
distance beyond the now pretty notorious 'Ghost's Walk.' As he approached
the spot, there, to be sure, was the object of terror, taking his usual
exercise. 'Now,' as Dobbin told the story, 'thinks I to myself, I'll play
you a trick, mister, and find out who you are, if I can. So, jest slyly
unfastening the door of the lantern, as I met him, I flung the door wide
open and held it up to his face, and I says, says I, "A stormy night,
friend." I thought I should know him, and guess I should if ever I do
see him again, which I don't want to, I tell _you_; and may I hope to
die, if ever I saw that face before. He looked pale, and his eyes, as he
fixed 'em on me, had what I call a sort of a stony glare. He never opened
his mouth, but just looked. It was only a glance, as it were, for I never
was so frightened in my life, and jest dropped lantern and scampered away
home as fast as my legs could carry me.'"

"Lud-a-massy!" screamed Sally Bannocks, on the verge of hysterics,--and
some of the rest of us were not far from that condition. We were mostly
on our feet, and as my mother insisted upon our bidding "Good-night,"
Uncle Richard proposed, after a further trial of his capital cider, to
harness his horse and drive us home in his covered wagon. But it was a
fine night and, though getting rather late, we concluded that it would do
us more good to take the air, in the mile or two of the walk to town. In
the course of our preparations for departure, and in answer to a variety
of questions, our uncle informed us, that the mystery was never cleared
up, nor the trick, if trick it were, ever discovered. As to the tale of
such a person as Dobbin, we might place what reliance upon it we saw fit;
and though the motive seemed certainly difficult to see, it might have
been, after all, a well-contrived piece of deception, to be sure, a very
laborious and unaccountable one, concealed by the collusion of parties in
the secret. How long the ghost continued to walk he did not know; but it
finally disappeared, and the house had been inhabited by respectable
people ever since, who had suffered no disturbance.

We reached home after a brisk walk, crossing rapidly--and with now and
then a furtive look--the very premises so haunted in other days, and
"Thanks be to Praise!" ejaculated Sally Bannocks, as we entered and
closed the door. The house was cold, after having been shut up all day.
We quickly separated to our several chambers, and as I laid my head upon
the pillow and was soon sound asleep, I too, murmured to myself, "Thanks
be to Praise!"

-----
 [11]  Jack's composure has a parallel in that of an old-time
       Scottish clergyman, as the story is told by Dean Ramsay.
       On returning home late from a dinner abroad his way led
       through the churchyard, and some mischievous fellows
       thought to frighten him. One of them came up to him
       dressed as a ghost, but the minister coolly inquired,
       "Weel, maister Ghaist, is this a general rising, or are
       ye juist taking a daunder frae yer grave by yersel?"

 [12]  _Inferno_, Canto xxv., Parsons's translation.



APPENDIX.


The following papers, marked I., II., III. are copies of those discovered
among family documents in the house of Mr. H. W. S. Cleveland, of Salem,
Massachusetts, several years ago. They were communicated by him to the
late Mr. Henry Lunt, formerly a merchant of Boston, father of the late
highly distinguished Rev. Dr. William Parsons Lunt, who died, much
lamented, while on his travels, at Akaba, in Arabia. How these documents
came to be deposited in Salem, it is not easy to say. It is probable,
however, that copies were brought over by the "Mary and John," or the
"Elizabeth and Dorcas," which appear to have wintered in Boston, after
their arrival, the passengers, or such of them as saw fit and were
permitted, proceeding to Ipswich, the following year (1634) and thence to
the plantation which they called Newbury. It is likely, therefore, that
the papers which concerned the passengers of those vessels might be
taken to Salem, perhaps during Governor Endicott's administration, and
placed in the hands of some official person at that place, so as to be
more accessible to the home of the people in question, instead of being
retained at Boston, the journey to which from Newbury was in those days a
long and tedious one, to be made on foot through the wilderness.

To many persons the abstract of the Charter of Charles I., which is a
very liberal one, can hardly fail to be interesting. The Orders in
Council, referred to in the text, are still more so; while the list of
passengers by the "Mary and John" comprises many names still to be found
in Newbury. Many more familiar names will be found among those of the
company which came by the "Elizabeth and Dorcas." It will be seen that in
the list given are the names of Thomas Parker, an eminent divine, and of
James Noyes, his nephew; the first the long respected pastor of the
church and the other the "teacher" at Newbury.



I.


An Abstract of His Ma^{ty's} Charter for incorporating the Company of the
Mattachusetts Bay in New England in America, Granted in the 4th yeare of
His Highness' Reign of England, Scotland France & Ireland, Anno. Domini
1628--

And we do further of our especial Grace, certain Knowledge & mere mocion
for us our Heirs & Successors--Give and Grant to the said Governour &
Company & their Sucessors for ever by these presents, That it shall be
lawfull & free for them & their Assigns at all & every Time & Times
hereafter out of any of our Realms or Dominions whatsoev^{r}, to take
lade carry & transport for in & into their voyages, & for & towards the
said Plantation in New England all such & so many of our Loving Subjects
or any other Strangers that will become our Loving Subjects & live under
our Alleigeance as shall willingly accompany them in the said Voyages &
Plantations, And also Shipping, Armour, Weapons, Ordnance, Munition,
Powder, Shott, Corn victuals & all manner of Cloathing, Implements,
Furniture, Beasts, Cattle, Horses, Mares, Merchandizes & all other things
necessary for the said Plantation and for their use & Defence & for Trade
with the People there & in passing & returning to & fro, any Law or
statute to the Contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding--And without
paying or yielding any custom or Subsidy either Inwards or Outwards, to
us our Heirs or Successors for the same, by the space of seaven years
from the Day of the Date of these Presents--Provided that none of the
said Persons be such as shall hereafter by Especial name be restrained by
us, our Heirs or Successors----

And for their further Incouragem^{t} of our Especial Grace & favor--we Do
by these presents for us, our Heirs & successors yield & grant to the
said Governour & Company & their successors & every of them their Factors
& Assigns that they & every of them shall be free & quit from all Taxes
Subsidys & Customs in New England for the space of seaven years, and from
all Taxes & Impositions for the space of Twenty one years upon all Goods
& merchandizes at any time or times hereafter Either upon Importation
there, or Exportation thence, into our Realm of England or into any of
our Dominions, by the said Governour or Company & their successors, their
Deputys, Factors & Assigns or any of them except only the Five Pounds
p^{r} Centum due for Custom upon all such Goods & Merchandizes as, after
the said seaven years shall be expired, shall be brought or imported
into our Realm of England or any other of our Dominions according to the
Ancient Trade of Merchants, which Five Pounds p^{r} centum only being
paid it shall be thenceforth lawfull & free for the s^{d} Adventurers the
same Goods & Merchandizes to export & carry out of our Dominions into
Foreign Parts without any Custom, Tax or other Duty to be paid to us our
Heirs or Successors or to any other officer or officers or ministers of
us our Heirs or Successors,--

Provided that the said Goods & merchandize be shipp'd out within thirteen
months after their first Landing within any part of the said Dominions--

This is a true Copy of His Ma^{ties} Letters Patent aforesaid--Custom
House London 30th January 1633 Anno. R. Caroli Nono--

                                       JOHN WOLSTENHOLME, _Collector_.



II.


ORDERS IN COUNCIL.

_New England,--At Whitehall the last of February, 1633._

Present:

  Lo. Arch. Bp. of Cant.
  Earle of Kelley.
  Lo. Keep^{r}.
  Lo. Cottington.
  Lo. Privie Seal
  M^{r}. V. Chamb^{r}line.
  Lo. High Chamb^{r}line.
  M^{r}. Compt^{r}.
  M^{r}. Secretary Wyndibank.

Whereas by a Warr^{t}. bearing date 22nd of this Present, the sev'all
ships following bound for New England, and now lying in the River of
Thames were made staye of untill further order from their Lo'pps. viz.,
The Clement & Job, The Reformation, The True Love, The Elizabeth
Bonadventure, The Sea Flower, The Mary & John, The Planter, The Elizabeth
& Dorcas, The Hercules & The Neptune.

Forasmuch as the masters of the said ships were this day called before
the Board & several Particulars given them in charge to be performed in
their said voyage, amongst which the said masters were to enter into
several Bonds of One Hundred Pounds a piece to His Maj^{s}tys use before
the Clarke of the Councell attendant to observe & cause to be observed
and putt in Execucion these Articles following viz:

1. That all and every Person aboard their Ships now bound for New England
as aforesaid, that shall blaspheme or profane the Holy name of God be
severely punis'h't.

2. That they cause the Prayers contained in the Book of Common Prayers
establisht in the Church of England, to be said daily at the usual hours
for Morning & Evening Prayers & that they cause all Persons aboard their
said ships to be present at the same.

3. That they do not receive aboard or transport any Person that hath not
Certificate from the Officers of the Port where he is to imbarke that he
hath taken both the Oathes of Alleigeance & Supremacy.

4. That upon their return into this Kingdom they Certify to the Board the
names of all such Persons as they shall transport together with their
Proceedings in the Execu'ion of the aforesaid Articles--Whereunto the
said M^{rs}. have conformed themselves--It was therefore & for diverse
other Reasons best known to their Lo^{pps}. thought fitt that for this
time they should be permitted to proceed on their Voyage, and it was
thereupon ordered that Gabriel Marsh Esq^{r}. Marshalle of the Admiralty,
& all other His Maj'ty's Officers to whom their said Warr^{t}. was
directed should be required upon sight hereof to discharge all & every
the said Ships, & suffer them to depart on their intended Voyage to New
England--EX. JON. MEANTYS.



III.


_The names of such Passengers as took the Oathes of Supremacy, and
Alleigeance to pass for New England in the Mary & John of London Robert
Sayres Master,_

24th Mar. 1633.

  William Trace (Tracy)
  John Marshe
  John Luff
  Henry Traske
  William Moudey
  Robert Sever
  Thomas Avery
  Henry Travers
  Thomas Sweete
  John Woodbridge
  Thomas West
  Thomas Savery
  Christopher Osgood
  Phillip Fowler
  Richard Jacob
  Daniel Ladd
  Robert Kingsman
  John Bartlett
  Robert Coker
  William Savery
  John Anthoney (left behind)
  Stephen Jurden
  John Godfrey
  George Browne
  Nicholas Noyce
  Richard Browne
  Richard Reynolds
  Richard Littlehall
  William White
  Matthew Hewlett (Hercules)
  John Whelyer
  William Clarke
  Robert Newman
  Adrian Vincent.


The 26th day of March.

  Nicholas Easton
  Richard Kent
  Abraham Mussey
  William Spencer
  Henry Shorte
  William Hibbens
  William Ballard
  Matthew Gillett
  William Franklin
  John Mussey
  Thomas Cole
  Thomas Parker
  James Noyce
  John Spencer
  Richard Kent
  Joseph Myles
  John Newman
  William Newbey
  Henry Lunt
  Joseph Pope
  Thomas Newman
  John Newman.

For which we gave certificate, together with five others, which are said
to be left behind to oversee the Chattle to pass in the Hercules viz.

The names of the Passengers in the Hercules of London, John Kiddey
Ma^{r}. for New England.

These six Passengers took their Oathes of Supremacy & Alleigeance the
24th March and were left behind the Mary & John, as intended to pass in
y^{e} Hercules--viz:

  John Anthony      }    Cert, the six first
  Robert Early      }  to Mt'er Sayers as
  William Satcome   }  intended.
  Thomas Foster     }    Secondth to Mr.
  William Foster    }  Kiddey to pass in the
  Matthew Hewlett.  }  Hercules.

  16th April, 1634.
  Nathaniel Davyes
  George Kinge
  Thomas Rider
  William Elliot
  William Fifeilde
  Henry Phelps.

18. These proceedings were Copyed out of an Olde Book of Orders belonging
to the Port of South'ton but now remaining at the Custom house in
Portsmouth the 6th Day of December 1735.

                                                Per THOMAS WHITEHOUSE.



IV.


In regard to the costume which prevailed, among persons of wealth and
standing in New England, within a century, I quote a descriptive passage
from a history of Newburyport, by Mrs. E. V. Smith, published in 1854, as
follows:--

  "With the incoming of the nineteenth century, garments more in
  conformity with present fashions took precedence of three-cornered
  hats, long coats with immense pocket-folds and cuffs, but without
  collars, in which the men of the eighteenth century prided
  themselves; with their buttons of pure silver, or plated, of the
  size of a half-dollar, presenting a great superfluity of coat and
  waistcoat when contrasted with the short nether garments, ycleped
  "breeches," or "small-clothes," which reached only to the knee,
  being there fastened with large (?) silver buckles, which ornament
  was also used in fastening the straps of shoes. The gentlemen quite
  equalled the ladies at this period in the amount of finery, and the
  brilliancy of colors in which they indulged. A light blue coat with
  large fancy buttons, a white satin embroidered waistcoat, red
  velvet breeches, silk stockings, and buckled shoes, with a
  neckcloth, or scarf, of finely embroidered cambric, or figured
  stuff, the ends hanging loose, the better to show the work, and
  liberal bosom and wrist ruffles (the latter usually fastened with
  gold or silver buckles), were usually considered a proper evening
  dress for a gentleman of any pretension to fashion. The clergy and
  many other gentlemen commonly wore black silk stockings, and others
  contented themselves with gray woollen. The boots had a broad fold
  of white leather turned over the top, with tassels dangling from
  either side. The clergy frequently wore silk or stuff gowns and
  powdered wigs. The ladies usually wore black silk or satin bonnets,
  long-waisted and narrow-skirted dresses for the street, with long
  tight sleeves, and in the house, sleeves reaching to the elbow,
  finished with an immensely broad frill; high-heeled shoes, and
  always, when in full dress, carried a profusely ornamented fan. The
  excessively long waists, toward the close of this period, were
  exchanged for extremely short ones; so short, that the belt or
  waist was inhumanly contrived to come at the broadest part of the
  chest. But no fashion of dress was so permanent as other customs
  clinging to particular eras. Anciently, as now, fashions were
  changed more or less extensively every ten years, though certain
  broad characteristics remained long enough to give specific
  character to the costuming of the eighteenth century."

The writer is accurate enough, no doubt, in her general description; but
what lady could give an entirely correct account of a gentleman's attire?
Knee-buckles, for instance, were almost necessarily small, instead of
"large"; it may be questioned whether top-boots were ever decorated with
tassels, a single article of that sort often hanging at the front of a
different kind of high boot, worn long after the beginning of the present
century; and as to the silk gowns of clergymen, it is but a very few
years since they began to be disused in the pulpit by Presbyterian and
Congregational ministers. About forty years before the present period,
many gentlemen wore dresses of the cut described by Mrs. Smith, though of
a more subdued color,--black, blue, or drab. Not long after the
beginning of the present century, a chief magistrate of Massachusetts,
Gov. Gore, made a sort of progress through the State, in imposing style.
His elegant, open carriage was drawn by four handsome and spirited
horses, and he was attended by his aids and several outriders. The
governor was a gentleman of fine personal appearance, and was attired in
the highest style of contemporary civil costume, with his white hair
gathered behind into a satin bag, and his aids were in undress military
costume. He was a "Federalist," and this demonstration cost him his
election the next time; for, though a man of brilliant ability and high
personal character, he served but one year. At a date fifteen years
later, I saw the "Democratic" governor of Massachusetts, Mr. Eustis, in
attendance upon the Commencement exercises, at Harvard College, dressed
much in the fashion of half a century earlier; namely, coat and waistcoat
with broad flaps, small-clothes, ruffles at his bosom and wrists, a
cocked hat of the old style, and a steel-hilted rapier at his side. Ten
years afterwards, one of the best governors the Commonwealth has ever
had, Mr. Lincoln, who served the State in this capacity for nine several
terms, wore also a distinguishing costume, but more conformable to modern
fashions. About the ruffles to his shirt-bosom I am sure, and feel much
confidence, from memory, in regard to black small-clothes and black silk
stockings, and his hat was always decorated with a black cockade.
Nowadays a governor's appearance scarcely distinguishes him from any
ordinary person in the crowd.

The cocked hats, however, and much of the costume of the eighteenth
century, continued to be worn by the survivors of Revolutionary officers
and some others, during the first quarter of the present century and
afterwards.



V.


The subjoined interesting sketch of an ancient dwelling-house and of a
family which has inhabited it for several generations, was furnished by
a distinguished friend, Thomas Coffin Amory, Esq., of Boston, who
traces his ancestry on the maternal side to the family in question. Nor,
in producing this highly interesting sketch, could I overlook Joshua
Coffin, the historian of Newbury and a resident of that town, from the
originally extensive territory of which various adjacent towns were
eventually formed. He was possessed of many amiable qualities and
inspired by the true antiquarian spirit, and laboriously pored among
the not very carefully kept early records of the original settlement, and
brought much out of chaos well calculated to illustrate its former
history. Mr. Amory has, on various occasions, shown the spirit of a
careful historical student and of an intelligent and zealous antiquary.
His recent contributions to that excellent periodical, "The New England
Historical and Genealogical Register," which has become of inestimable
value, as a collection of facts illustrative of early New England
history and biography, have given great pleasure to multitudes of
readers,--especially his vivid and graphic descriptions of certain
ancient and storied mansions in Boston and Cambridge, and of their former
inhabitants. Let us hope that researches of such abundant interest and
value will soon claim and gain a still larger share of the public
attention in a collected form.

  MY DEAR SIR,--In your reminiscences of Newburyport you must not
  forget Joshua Coffin its historian,--one of the best of men, whom
  no one knew but to love. I see him now as he came to visit me
  several years ago, when he was representing his native town in the
  General Court, a fresh, hale, cheery gentleman, full of pleasant
  anecdotes relating to the past. He owned and occupied the Coffin
  mansion, which had been the abode of seven generations of his
  family and name. Out of its portals had issued numberless admirable
  men and women, and from among the former, a large share of college
  graduates, at Harvard and other New England colleges, of lawyers,
  clergy, and soldiers, to do good service in their day and
  generation.

  At his suggestion, I visited this ancient dwelling which was
  erected about 1649, by Mr. Somerby, the widow of whose progenitor
  Tristram Coffin, Jr., married. This Tristram was the eldest son of
  another Tristram, first of the race in America, who not many years
  before, in 1642, came over from Brixton, near Plymouth, in
  Devonshire, bringing with him his mother, and two sisters,--Eunice
  who married William Butler, and Mary who became the wife of
  Alexander Adams, of Boston. He brought with him also several sons
  and daughters, to whom were added others born to him on this side
  the ocean. His family in the home country had shown the same
  tenacity and steadfastness, exemplified by their long continued
  residence at Newburyport; for at Alwington and Portledge in Devon,
  they had flourished, if not from the flood, from periods very
  remote; for according to the historical statement, the Normans when
  they came over in the eleventh century found them there, and left
  them unmolested; and there still dwell their descendants in the
  female line, who have assumed their appellation of Pine Coffin, one
  of the house of Pine having married the heiress of the family
  estates.

  Tristram the elder, and his sons James and Stephen, were among the
  nine who purchased the island of Nantucket from the Earl of
  Stirling in 1659, and went there to dwell. Their descendants have
  ever since been respectable and greatly multiplied, and not only on
  that island but all over the country, having since been estimated
  by thousands if not tens of thousands. Their usual average of
  children has been half a score, and from their numerous progeny and
  great longevity, we may judge what vigor was in the race. One of
  them, William, son of Nathaniel, son of James, cruised over many
  seas, as commander of a merchantman, and becoming interested in a
  Boston maiden, Ann Holmes, settled about 1720 in the provincial
  capital, where among other offices he filled with credit to himself
  and his name was that for many years of warden of Trinity Church.
  He died before the Revolution, leaving many children; most of his
  sons at that period becoming refugee loyalists, they and their
  descendants taking high rank in the British military and naval
  service. John, son of Nathaniel, was a distinguished officer in the
  Carolinas, and afterwards became Major-general. His brother, Sir
  Isaac, early became distinguished on the ocean, was an Admiral,
  Member of Parliament, and created a Baronet, which latter rank was
  also bestowed on Thomas Astor, son of William, the eldest son of
  the warden. Several others of the name and blood then and since
  have filled with distinction posts of honor and respectability in
  the civil service of the mother country at home, in Canada, and in
  India.

  But this is a digression. The only connection of the Nantucket
  branch with Newbury is that old Tristram lived there for a brief
  period, before repairing to his island home, and his son (the
  younger of the name of Tristram, the family name of a grandmother)
  and his posterity occupied the old mansion down through seven or
  eight generations, and still dwell beneath its roof. At the time of
  its erection the edifice must have been among the most elegant, as
  its good state of preservation proves it to have been one of the
  most substantial of its day, when the notion, prevailing in
  England, that oak was the most suitable material of the forest for
  dwellings, governed in their choice, with less reason, our
  American planters. It was built in the mode common to the period,
  round a vast brick chimney-stack, ten or twelve feet square. The
  principal apartment, now divided into two, possessed, as did also
  the kitchen, one of those spacious fireplaces which are the marvel
  and envy of these degenerate days, when a hole in the carpet has
  superseded in many households the family hearth. It is pleasant to
  think of the groups that in the olden time clustered around them;
  charming people, whom we know by tradition, and who are remembered
  by many associations.

  The house possesses various other apartments of size and
  pretension, and has answered well the needs of the successive
  generations that have occupied it, not only as a spacious and
  commodious abode, but one sufficiently elegant to satisfy the
  advancing standards of taste and refinement. Among the marked
  features of the building are several small casements, lighting
  closets and staircases, which give variety to the monotonous
  symmetry of windows all of a size, one on top of another, and where
  all the openings for egress or light are in straight lines and of
  equal dimensions. It is many years since my visit, and I hope you
  will see it, for much that was peculiar, and made a weird
  impression at the time, has passed out of mind. If the trickles in
  my own veins do not mislead, the present proprietors will be glad
  to have pleasure afforded to the reading community, even by this
  inadequate description of a house which has such claims to be
  known, if, as you intimate, you purpose to place this account of it
  in your Appendix. They will not consider it a liberty if I repeat
  what some one not long since told me of an interesting relic of the
  past discovered on its walls, a statement which might be related
  almost in the same words of the house of MacPhædrics at
  Portsmouth.

  Not many years since it was concluded to repaper the hall, the
  walls of which were covered with several thicknesses of paper which
  had from generation to generation been pasted one upon another. It
  was thought best to remove them all, and when a large party of
  young people, home for the holidays, were gathered for a dull week
  of weather under its roof, they determined to amuse themselves by
  stripping off the various layers of previous decorations,
  preparatory to the new one intended to take their place. Underneath
  them all was discovered, painted on the wall, artistic designs of
  figures and foliage, such as were common in the days of the
  Stuarts. All antiquarians are familiar with the similar
  discoveries at Portsmouth, to which allusion has been made.

  There are not many houses in America which have been so long owned
  and occupied by the same name. The old brick mansion near
  Portsmouth, of the Weeks family, the Curtis house at Boston
  Highlands, Fairbanks at Dedham, Pickering at Salem, were
  contemporaries in the period of the construction, and have
  descended from sire to son as has this of the Coffins.

  The house is pleasantly placed, and commands fine views from its
  windows. Even in winter it must be, if not a cheerful, an
  interesting abode to dwell in. In duller days, when skies are
  leaden, and the more you see around you the less you like it, its
  dreamy look of age and strangeness within and without may have a
  somewhat depressing influence. The aches and agonies of so many
  generations may gain an ascendancy over the exuberant joys that
  made their life worth living. It would sometimes seem that if
  fondness for the supernatural must be indulged, an old edifice like
  this would prove a haunt more attractive, and certainly more
  appropriate, for ghost and apparition than any school-room, however
  noted for its spells. Yet notwithstanding some lugubrious
  associations connected with the family patronymic, phantoms would
  have to tread softly and whisper low if they invaded its precincts;
  for the vigorous vitality of its occupants and their cheery tones,
  if up to the traditional standard of their race, would exorcise the
  very king of spectres himself, should he venture to stalk about at
  the noonday, or revisit the glimpses of the moon in its ancient
  chambers.



VI.


I might have mentioned, as one of the amusements of childhood, the
throwing of a piece of paper upon the embers of our wood-fire, for we had
no coal in those days, and watching the gradual extinguishment of the
sparks, likening it to a congregation entering the meeting-house. "There
they go in," we would say. "There's the minister;" and as the final spark
disappeared,--"Now, the sexton has gone in and shut the door." I speak of
this only as a curious illustration of English ways traditionally
surviving in New England. Thus Cowper tells us:--

         "So when a child, as playful children use,
          Has burnt to tinder a stale last year's news,
          The flame extinct, he views the roving fire,--
          There goes my lady, and there goes the squire;
          There goes the parson, O illustrious spark!
          And there, scarce less illustrious, goes the clerk!"



VII.


Several allusions having been made in the text to the "Wolfe" Tavern, I
am able to present the following original bill of lading, constituting an
incident in relation to the famous expedition to Quebec, and evincing at
least a more formal recognition of a superintending Providence, than is
the custom of more modern days:--

  12 Oxen,
  6 Horses,
  No. 29 to 32. 4 Hogshd. Corn,
  10 Baggs Corn,
  10 Baggs Meal,
  2 Carts with Furniture,
  500 feet Boards,
  1 pr. Smiths Bellows,
  1 Box Smiths Tools,
  1 Anvil,
  1 Camp Kettle
  10 Ox Yokes,
  70 Bundles of Hay,
  2 Handpumps,
  18 Pails,
  4 Tubbs,
  2 Shovells,
  4 Barr's Water, Settled.

Shipped by the Grace of God in good Order and well Condition'd by Thomas
Hancock, by order of His Excell'cy Major General Amherst, in and upon the
good sloop call'd the "Endeavour," whereof is Master under GOD, for this
present Voyage, William Clift, and now riding at Anchor in the Harbour of
Boston, and by God's Grace bound for The Expedition up the River St.
Lawrence, to say, Twelve Oxen, Six Horses, Four Hogshead and Ten Bags of
Corn, Ten Bags of Meal, two Carts with their Furniture, Five hundred feet
of Boards, One Pair Smiths Bellows, One Box Smiths Tools, One Anvill, One
Camp Kettle, Ten Ox Yokes, Seventy Bundles of Hay, Two handpumps,
Eighteen pails, Four Tubbs, Two Shovells, Four Barrells Water; being
mark'd and number'd as in the Margin, and to be delivered in the like
good Order, and well Condition'd, at the aforesaid Port of ---- (the
Danger of the Seas only excepted) unto His Excell'cy Major General Wolfe,
or to his Assigns,----or they paying Freight for the said
Goods----Nothing----with Primage and Average accustom'd. In Witness
whereof the Master or Purser of the said sloop hath affirmed to Two Bills
of Lading, all of this Tenor and date; the one of which Two Bills being
accomplished, the other one to stand void. And so GOD send the good sloop
to her desired Port in Safety, _Amen_. Dated in

BOSTON, _May 14, 1759_.

                                                    WILL^{M}. CLIFT.



VIII.


On my occasional visit to Boston, I usually put up at the Eastern Stage
House, perhaps because it was there that the stage-coach by which I
arrived at the city discharged its passengers. It was an old fashioned
establishment, which but for the absence of galleries, might remind one
of the famous Tabard Inn, from which Chaucer's pilgrims set out. For its
capacious yard, in which the passengers alighted, and where they
remounted for their homeward journey, was approached through a narrow
cross street, and in its ample stables the stage-horses took their rest
and refreshment. The front entrance to the tavern was under an archway on
Ann street, loyally named for the old queen; for which title was not long
ago senselessly substituted the unsuggestive appellation of North street.
It has long since given place to more modern edifices. It was a
comfortable place of temporary residence, and in illustration of former
manners I remember one practice which I have never seen elsewhere. At the
plate of each guest, at dinner, was placed a small decanter of brandy,
holding I suppose half-a-pint of that liquor, and for which no extra
charge appeared in the bill, which account itself was moderate enough
compared with the inordinate hotel reckonings of the present day.



IX.


In small matters, as well as in great, history repeats itself. Thus, the
anachronic emotion of Miss ---- (on page 17) finds its parallel in
"Facetiæ Poggii," written at Florence, in the year 1450, of which the
following story is one:--

"Cyriac of Ancona, a wordy man and much given to talk, was once deploring
in our presence the fall and ruin of the Roman empire, and seemed to be
vehemently grieved at it. Then Anthony Lusco, a most learned man, who
also stood by, said, jeering at the silly grief of the fellow, 'He is
very like a man of Milan, who, hearing on a feast day one of the race of
minstrels, who are wont to sing the deeds of departed heroes to the
people, reciting the death of Roland, who was slain about seven hundred
years before in battle, fell at once a-weeping bitterly, and when he got
home to his wife, and she saw him sad and sighing, and asked what was the
matter, "Alas! alas! wife," he said, "we are as good as dead and gone."
"Why, man," she answered, "what dreadful thing has befallen you? Take
comfort and come to supper." But he, when he went on sobbing and sighing,
and would take no food, and his wife pressed him to tell the cause of his
woe, at last said, "Don't you know the bad news I have heard to-day?"
"What?" asked the wife. "Roland is dead, who alone was the safeguard of
Christendom." On which his wife tried to soothe the silly grief of her
husband, and yet, with all her tenderness, could scarce get him to sit
down to meat.'"[13]

The effect of the ballad, however, upon the worthy man of Milan reminds
one of the historical incident, recording the effect of song, celebrated
anew in one of the stanzas of Childe Harold:--

     "When Athens' armies fell at Syracuse,
      And fettered thousands felt the yoke of war,
      Redemption rose up in the Attic Muse,
      Her voice their only ransom from afar;
      See! as they chant the tragic hymn, the car
      Of the o'ermastered victor stops: the reins
      Fall from his hands--his idle scimitar
      Starts from its belt--he rends his captives' chains,
      And bids them thank the bard for freedom and his strains."



X.


The ancestor of Colonel Edward Wigglesworth, mentioned in the text, an
officer of the Revolution, highly esteemed by Washington, was Rev.
Michael Wigglesworth, author of "The Day of Doom," published in the last
quarter of the seventeenth century, and reprinted in London; a dreadfully
dismal, but edifying poem, and not without a certain horrifying merit.



XI.


Were it within the scope of this work, I might furnish a catalogue, by no
means meagre, of inhabitants formerly distinguished in their day and
generation. For example, I have heard it stated as a curious fact, that,
not far from the beginning of the present century, each of the three
Professors of Harvard College, namely, Professors Webber, afterwards
President; Pearson, and Toppan, were natives of Newbury.



XII.


I could hardly dismiss this volume from my hands without some reference
to the means of public information furnished by the newspapers of the
town. Of these, there have been, since "The Essex Journal," soon
afterwards merged in "The Impartial Herald," and first published in 1773,
between thirty and forty attempts to establish newspapers; but the
"Herald," the successor of those before-named, for many years conducted
as a semi-weekly journal, and since the year 1832 as a daily paper, has
alone steadily maintained its ground. It has always been distinguished
for the editorial ability displayed in its columns, and for a care
bestowed upon its several departments, which gave it a high reputation,
scarcely surpassed by that of leading journals in our larger cities.

"The Essex Journal" was begun by Isaiah Thomas, who in the course of a
year sold his interest in it to Ezra Lunt; and he, after two years,
obeying another call to public service, sold it to John Mycall. The first
of these began life in the humblest condition, without schooling of any
kind, it is alleged; taught himself to read and write, and after a time
removed to Worcester, became connected with a noted paper there, the
"Massachusetts Spy," at length accumulated a handsome fortune, for the
times, much of which, after a long life, he bequeathed to the Antiquarian
Society of Worcester, and a portion to Harvard College, and other
literary institutions. He was the founder, also, of the American
Antiquarian Society. He became a writer and educator of much repute.

Upon the breaking out of the Revolutionary war, Mr. Ezra Lunt was the
first man who volunteered, in the meeting-house, when the minister, Rev.
Mr. Parsons, exhorted his parishioners to military service; was chosen
captain of the company, with which he was present in command at Bunker
Hill, and afterwards was raised to the rank of major. He took part in the
battle of Monmouth Court House, when the British army, under Sir Henry
Clinton, retired with much difficulty and loss before Washington, and
used to relate the particulars of the well-known rebuke administered by
that great chief to General Charles Lee for his hasty retreat from the
advanced post, which had been assigned him. He declared himself to have
been close by at the moment, and to have heard the energetic language
used on the occasion. After the war, he received his allotment of land,
and settled upon it, at Marietta, Ohio.

Mr. Mycall was a person of much natural capacity and shrewdness, with
certain eccentricities of character, and kept up a little politic mystery
about himself. He once engaged a well-known carriage-maker of the day to
build him a chaise, which it was agreed should be finished at a certain
time. When the specified period arrived, the vehicle was not forthcoming.
Enduring a similar disappointment several times, and expressing himself
strongly about it to the offender, that individual promised it to him
positively at a certain date, _if he was alive_. Even then, it was not
delivered; but what was the astonishment of the faulty party to read in
his newspaper the next morning, "Died, yesterday, P. B., chaise-maker,"
etc. In a state of boiling indignation he rushed to the street, and on
the way to the office of publication called the attention of various
acquaintances to the wrongful statement, which, it appeared, no one had
observed. Entering the office, he inquired, with much feeling, how Mr.
Mycall could have published such a paragraph. "Did you not promise me,"
said the editor, "that my chaise should be sent home, on such a day, if
you were alive?" "Well, supposing I did?" "Why, then, of course, you must
be dead!" Taking up a copy of the paper from his desk, and examining the
obituary notices, "But," said the editor, "there is no such statement
here." The bewildered chaise-maker hastened home to examine his paper
anew; and it appeared, on inquiry, that the account of his decease was
printed only in his own copy; a gloomy jest, which was soon much relished
by the community.

Indeed, the town became for a time a noted place for the publication of
standard works, and books of various descriptions. It was here that the
well-known Mr. Edmund M. Blunt, who subsequently removed to the city of
New York, published his valuable and famous "American Coast Pilot," and,
afterwards, the no less useful "Practical Navigator."



XIII.


In attestation of the remark, on page 144 of the text, that an antiquated
pronunciation of many English words prevailed long in New England, after
it was disused in Old England, and was brought by the colonists from the
Mother Country, see the criticism of "Holofernes" upon innovations in
pronunciation, in Act V., Sc. 1, of "Love's Labor Lost," showing the
state of the case in Shakespeare's time.



XIV.


In closing this Appendix, which might be extended to almost any length,
as recollections which did not occur to me in writing the body of the
work come up, I cannot omit a remarkable use of the American language,
let us say, since the Czar once so denominated the English tongue. It was
upon the part of a town constable, perhaps as nearly of the Dogberry type
as could be imagined. I was standing in the town hall, at a moment
preliminary to a public meeting. A knot of youngsters had been joking one
another, when this authoritative official approached. All but one
speedily retired before the awful presence. "Master Constable" addressed
the lingerer: "_Disperge_,"--a difficult operation for an
individual,--"_disperge_, I say; we can't have no _burlash_ here!"

Even Shakespeare might have been glad of such an opportunity to enlarge
the cacology, by actual hearing, of some of his most amusing characters.

-----
 [13]  Quoted in Dasent's "Jest and Earnest." London, 1873.



INDEX


  Academy, of good standing, 137
  Adams, J. Q., 134
  Addison on English Superstition, 176
  Adventure of American Sea-captain with Christophe, Emperor of Hayti, 61
  "Algerines;" their Quarrel with Foreign Sailors, 74
  Ancient Elder, 120
  Ancient Episcopal Church; its former Rector, Bishop of Massachusetts,
  114, 130
  Apparition, an, 184
  Aristocracy, 21
  Aunt Judith, 23
  Aunt Judith's Narrative of Witchcraft, 169

  Balaklava Charge, 28
  Bar, dangerous, 6
  Bartlett, William, 33
  Beggars, mimic, 106
  Beverages, formerly, 96
  Bishop Bass, 130
  Bold Youngster, 165
  Books, some that we read, 138, 139
  Borderers, 74
  Boyish Sports, 14
  Bradbury, Judge, 34
  British Orders in Council, 108
  Bromfield Legacy, 18
  Buchan, Earl of, 63

  Campbell, "Tom," 27
  Cannon for street posts, 58
  Capen, Parson, 178
  Characteristic Letter, 40
  Christmas Evening, 161
  Christmas Hymn, 163
  Christophe of Hayti, 61
  Clergy of the town, 122
  Clergyman, Scottish, 166
  Collector Marquand, 37
  Collector Wigglesworth, 36
  Comparative value of money, 21
  Congregation, "Scrupulous," 122
  Consequences of war and embargo, 57
  Court of Common Pleas, 83
  Cunning expedient, 22

  Dalton, Tristram, 34
  Damage of war, 38
  Dana, Rev. Dr., 128
  Dangerous bar, 6
  Devil's den, 15
  Dexter, "Lord," 63
  Dexter's poet, 66
  Dinah for Diana, 145
  Discourse of Rev. Mr. Murray, 99
  Dissatisfied washerwoman, 104
  Dogberry and Verges, 198
  Domestic, Scottish, 104

  Earl of Buchan, 63
  Earthquakes in former times, 113
  Edinburgh, similar habits in, 10
  Elder, an old-fashioned, 120
  Emperor of Hayti, 61
  English Clergymen, 124
  English Reader. Are modern text-books as useful?, 137
  English superstition, 176
  Enterprise, Maritime and Commercial, 5
  Extraordinary images, 63

  Failure, swindling, 103
  Favor, Johnny: his opinion of polemics, 133
  Few insane persons, and the treatment of them formerly, 45
  Fights of boys, 10
  Fine trees, 17
  Fire, strange, 190
  Fire, the "great," 103
  Foot-warming process, 118
  Former Rector of St. Paul's a Bishop, 130
  Former severe winters, 1
  Former solemn proceedings in naturalization, 110
  Fourth of July, 98
  Fright of an old woman, 100
  Fugitive Sea-captain and a lively chase, 58

  Ghost, reputed, 180
  Gould, Miss Hannah F., 31
  Gourmand, a, 98
  Great Fire, 103
  Greys, Silver, 56
  Grouse, Old, story of, 146
  Growth of Episcopal Church, 130

  Habits in Edinburgh, 10
  Habits, jovial, of old times, 96
  Hardships of early times, 40
  Hay-time treating, 109
  "Hinx-minx," origin of, 174
  Hohenlinden, 28
  Holt, Granny, 169
  Home, return to, 202
  How they used to "break," 103
  Huntington, Countess of, and her Seminary, 124
  Hymn, Christmas, 163

  Images, extraordinary, 63
  Indifference to cold, 119
  Inquisitive spinster, 123
  Insane persons, few, 45
  Internal trade, 67
  Introductory chapters to Scott's novels, 159

  Jackson family, 24
  James, King of Scotland, 106
  Johnson, Samuel, Dr., 26
  "Joppa Jine," 144
  Jovial habits of old times, 109
  Judith, Aunt, 23
  July 4th, 98

  King James of Scotland, 106
  King Louis Philippe, 4
  King, Rufus, 135

  Lee, Mrs. George, 31
  Longfellow, 32
  Lowells, The, 24

  Magistrate and culprit, 51
  Mansions, remarkable, 18
  Manufacturing establishments, 4
  Maritime enterprise, 5
  Market Square, triangular, 66
  Marquand, Collector, 37
  Massachusetts, Diocese of, 130
  Meeting-houses--stoves and organs, 118
  Merchant, rich, 34
  Milton, Rev. Mr., 124
  Mimic beggars, 106
  Money, comparative value of, 21
  "Moses is come!," 100
  Murray, Rev. Mr., 99
  Murray's Reader, 137

  Naturalization, etc., 110
  New England pronunciation, 144
  New England superstition, of old, 160
  Novelist, English, his surprise, 9
  Nutting, etc., 14

  Old-fashioned hospitality in beverages, 109
  "Old Grouse," story of, 146
  Old Peddlers, 67
  Old Woman, fright of, 100
  Orders in Council, British, 108
  Organ of St. Paul's, 118
  Origin of "Hinx-Minx," 174
  Our Town, 5

  Paine, Robert Treat, 134
  Parson, Capen, 178
  Parsonage and its curious picture, 52
  Parsons, Chief Justice, 134
  Particular Shoemaker, 48
  Peabody, George, 33
  Peace of 1783, 99
  Peddlers, old, 67
  People of St. James's, 131
  Perkins, Jacob, 25
  Personal part of leading citizens in politics, 94
  Persons, distinguished, 34
  Picture, curious, 52
  Pike, Nicholas, 25
  Polemics, 132
  Political hostilities, 55
  Poultry in profusion, 67
  Practice, modern, of naturalization, 110
  Professional persons, etc., 83
  "Project," what it is, 174
  Putnam, Oliver, 33

  Quaker meeting, 136
  Queer contrast of language, 61

  Railways and their influence, 142
  Ramsay, Dean, and others, Reminiscences of, 10
  Reader, Murray's English, 137
  Reading parties, 142
  Refinement of certain classes, 133
  Reputed apparition, 192
  Respect for the clergy, 29
  "Retort courteous," 27
  Rev. Dr. Dana, 128
  Rev. Mr. Milton, 124
  Rev. Dr. Morse, 131
  Rev. Mr. Murray, 122
  Rev. Dr. Spring, 29
  Richard, Uncle, 162

  Sabbath, how kept, 120
  Sailing adventure, 7
  "Salt," ancient, 3
  Saturday and Sunday evenings, 30
  Scenery on the river, 5
  School books, etc., 137
  Schoolmaster, a shrewd, 140
  Scott's Autobiography, 10
  Scott's reply to certain critics, 159
  Scottish domestic, cool and faithful, 104
  "Scrupulous" congregation, 122
  Scrupulous shoemaker, 48
  Severe winters, 1
  Shipbuilding, etc., 5
  Silver Greys, 56
  Singular companion, 168
  Singular night adventure, 87
  Snow-storm in old times, 2
  Social security, 85
  Stage-house, 53
  St. James's, 143
  Story of an apparition, 179
  Story of bold youngster, 165
  Stove in Church, 118
  Street fights of boys, 10
  Striking adventure of Rufus King, 135
  Surprise of Thackeray, 9
  Swett and Schwedt, 30
  Swindling failure, 103
  Sympathetic young lady, 17

  Tennyson's "Charge at Balaklava," 28
  Text instead of sermon, 119
  "Thanks be to Praise!," 202
  Thanksgiving, 105
  Timber and shipbuilding, 5
  "Tom" Campbell, 27
  Topsfield spectre, 177
  Town-meeting and resolute chairman, 96
  Trade, internal, of the town, 67
  Traders, small, 67
  Treating in hay-time, 109
  Trees of great beauty, 17
  Triangular Market Square, 66
  Tyng Family, 24

  Uncle Richard, 162
  United States after a runaway, 58
  Unterrified clergyman, 166

  Verges and Dogberry, 198
  Vulgarian of the nouveaux riches, 62

  Wages, low rate of, 23
  Walsh, Michael, 25
  What a "project" is or was, 174
  Wheelwright, William, 32
  Whipping-post, 123
  Wigglesworth, Colonel, 36
  Winters, severe formerly, 1
  Witchcraft, and Uncle Richard's opinion of it, 167
  Wood's account of the aristocracy., 21

  Yankee acuteness, 141
  Young persons sent to the town for education, 134



  Transcriber's Notes:

  Archaic, variable, and misspelled words and punctuation
  inconsistancies have been preserved as printed in all of the
  quoted material with one exception. This includes all poetry,
  quotations, letters, and documents.

  The one exception is in the poem Childe Harold, a section of
  which is quoted in the Appendix, Section IX. The word =scimeter=
  was changed to =scimitar= because it is spelled correctly in the
  original poem by Lord Byron located at PG,
  EText-No. 5131, Canto IV, Stanza XVI.

  The following changes were made to the original text. The
  correction is enclosed in brackets:

  Page 106: and they skurried away [scurried]

  Page 116: but the fact incontestibly proves, [incontestably]

  Page 187: My mother was in close attendance upon sick members of
  my sister's family? [changed punctuation to a period]

  Page 230: Fall from his hands--his idle scimetar [scimitar]

  The following word has been found in both hyphenated and
  unhyphenated form in the original text: road-side (roadside).
  The original hyphenation has been preserved.

  Footnotes have been numbered consecutively and have been placed
  at the end of each chapter.

  Superscripted letters in the original book and the HTML version are
  represented by ^{} in the text version.

  The "long i" macron is respresented in the text as [=i].





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