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´╗┐Title: Old News - (From: "The Snow Image and Other Twice-Told Tales")
Author: Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 1804-1864
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Old News - (From: "The Snow Image and Other Twice-Told Tales")" ***

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                        THE SNOW-IMAGE


                     OTHER TWICE-TOLD TALES

                           OLD NEWS


                      Nathaniel Hawthorne

There is a volume of what were once newspapers each on a small
half-sheet, yellow and time-stained, of a coarse fabric, and imprinted
with a rude old type.  Their aspect conveys a singular impression of
antiquity, in a species of literature which we are accustomed to consider
as connected only with the present moment.  Ephemeral as they were
intended and supposed to be, they have long outlived the printer and his
whole subscription-list, and have proved more durable, as to their
physical existence, than most of the timber, bricks, and stone of the
town where they were issued.  These are but the least of their triumphs.
The government, the interests, the opinions, in short, all the moral
circumstances that were contemporary with their publication, have passed
away, and left no better record of what they were than may be found in
these frail leaves.  Happy are the editors of newspapers!  Their
productions excel all others in immediate popularity, and are certain to
acquire another sort of value with the lapse of time.  They scatter their
leaves to the wind, as the sibyl did, and posterity collects them, to be
treasured up among the best materials of its wisdom.  With hasty pens
they write for immortality.

It is pleasant to take one of these little dingy half-sheets between the
thumb and finger, and picture forth the personage who, above ninety years
ago, held it, wet from the press, and steaming, before the fire.  Many of
the numbers bear the name of an old colonial dignitary.  There he sits, a
major, a member of the council, and a weighty merchant, in his high-backed
arm-chair, wearing a solemn wig and grave attire, such as befits
his imposing gravity of mien, and displaying but little finery, except a
huge pair of silver shoe-buckles, curiously carved.  Observe the awful
reverence of his visage, as he reads his Majesty's most gracious speech;
and the deliberate wisdom with which he ponders over some paragraph of
provincial politics, and the keener intelligence with which he glances at
the ship-news and commercial advertisements.  Observe, and smile!  He may
have been a wise man in his day; but, to us, the wisdom of the politician
appears like folly, because we can compare its prognostics with actual
results; and the old merchant seems to have busied himself about
vanities, because we know that the expected ships have been lost at sea,
or mouldered at the wharves; that his imported broadcloths were long ago
worn to tatters, and his cargoes of wine quaffed to the lees; and that
the most precious leaves of his ledger have become waste-paper.  Yet, his
avocations were not so vain as our philosophic moralizing.  In this world
we are the things of a moment, and are made to pursue momentary things,
with here and there a thought that stretches mistily towards eternity,
and perhaps may endure as long.  All philosophy that would abstract
mankind from the present is no more than words.

The first pages of most of these old papers are as soporific as a bed of
poppies.  Here we have an erudite clergyman, or perhaps a Cambridge
professor, occupying several successive weeks with a criticism on Tate
and Brady, as compared with the New England version of the Psalms.  Of
course, the preference is given to the native article.  Here are doctors
disagreeing about the treatment of a putrid fever then prevalent, and
blackguarding each other with a characteristic virulence that renders the
controversy not altogether unreadable.  Here are President Wigglesworth
and the Rev. Dr. Colman, endeavoring to raise a fund for the support of
missionaries among the Indians of Massachusetts Bay.  Easy would be the
duties of such a mission now!  Here--for there is nothing new under the
sun--are frequent complaints of the disordered state of the currency, and
the project of a bank with a capital of five hundred thousand pounds,
secured on lands.  Here are literary essays, from the Gentleman's
Magazine; and squibs against the Pretender, from the London newspapers.
And here, occasionally, are specimens of New England honor, laboriously
light and lamentably mirthful, as if some very sober person, in his zeal
to be merry, were dancing a jig to the tune of a funeral-psalm.  All this
is wearisome, and we must turn the leaf.

There is a good deal of amusement, and some profit, in the perusal of
those little items which characterize the manners and circumstances of
the country.  New England was then in a state incomparably more
picturesque than at present, or than it has been within the memory of
man; there being, as yet, only a narrow strip of civilization along the
edge of a vast forest, peopled with enough of its original race to
contrast the savage life with the old customs of another world.  The
white population, also, was diversified by the influx of all sorts of
expatriated vagabonds, and by the continual importation of bond-servants
from Ireland and elsewhere, so that there was a wild and unsettled
multitude, forming a strong minority to the sober descendants of the
Puritans.  Then, there were the slaves, contributing their dark shade to
the picture of society.  The consequence of all this was a great variety
and singularity of action and incident, many instances of which might be
selected from these columns, where they are told with a simplicity and
quaintness of style that bring the striking points into very strong
relief.  It is natural to suppose, too, that these circumstances affected
the body of the people, and made their course of life generally less
regular than that of their descendants.  There is no evidence that the
moral standard was higher then than now; or, indeed, that morality was so
well defined as it has since become.  There seem to have been quite as
many frauds and robberies, in proportion to the number of honest deeds;
there were murders, in hot-blood and in malice; and bloody quarrels over
liquor.  Some of our fathers also appear to have been yoked to unfaithful
wives, if we may trust the frequent notices of elopements from bed and
board.  The pillory, the whipping-post, the prison, and the gallows, each
had their use in those old times; and, in short, as often as our
imagination lives in the past, we find it a ruder and rougher age than
our own, with hardly any perceptible advantages, and much that gave life
a gloomier tinge. In vain we endeavor to throw a sunny and joyous air
over our picture of this period; nothing passes before our fancy but a
crowd of sad-visaged people, moving duskily through a dull gray
atmosphere.  It is certain that winter rushed upon them with fiercer
storms than now, blocking up the narrow forest-paths, and overwhelming
the roads along the sea-coast with mountain snow drifts; so that weeks
elapsed before the newspaper could announce how many travellers had
perished, or what wrecks had strewn the shore.  The cold was more
piercing then, and lingered further into the spring, making the
chimney-corner a comfortable seat till long past May-day.  By the number
of such accidents on record, we might suppose that the thunder-stone, as
they termed it, fell oftener and deadlier on steeples, dwellings, and
unsheltered wretches.  In fine, our fathers bore the brunt of more raging
and pitiless elements than we.  There were forebodings, also, of a more
fearful tempest than those of the elements.  At two or three dates, we
have stories of drums, trumpets, and all sorts of martial music, passing
athwart the midnight sky, accompanied with the--roar of cannon and rattle
of musketry, prophetic echoes of the sounds that were soon to shake the
land.  Besides these airy prognostics, there were rumors of French fleets
on the coast, and of the march of French and Indians through the
wilderness, along the borders of the settlements.  The country was
saddened, moreover, with grievous sicknesses.  The small-pox raged in
many of the towns, and seems, though so familiar a scourge, to have been
regarded with as much affright as that which drove the throng from Wall
Street and Broadway at the approach of a new pestilence.  There were
autumnal fevers too, and a contagious and destructive
throat-distemper,--diseases unwritten in medical hooks.  The dark
superstition of former days had not yet been so far dispelled as not to
heighten the gloom of the present times.  There is an advertisement,
indeed, by a committee of the Legislature, calling for information as to
the circumstances of sufferers in the "late calamity of 1692," with a
view to reparation for their losses and misfortunes.  But the tenderness
with which, after above forty years, it was thought expedient to allude
to the witchcraft delusion, indicates a good deal of lingering error, as
well as the advance of more enlightened opinions.  The rigid hand of
Puritanism might yet be felt upon the reins of government, while some
of the ordinances intimate a disorderly spirit on the part of the people.
The Suffolk justices, after a preamble that great disturbances have been
committed by persons entering town and leaving it in coaches, chaises,
calashes, and other wheel-carriages, on the evening before the Sabbath,
give notice that a watch will hereafter be set at the "fortification-gate,"
to prevent these outrages.  It is amusing to see Boston assuming the aspect
of a walled city, guarded, probably, by a detachment of church-members,
with a deacon at their head.  Governor Belcher makes proclamation against
certain "loose and dissolute people" who have been wont to stop
passengers in the streets, on the Fifth of November, "otherwise called
Pope's Day," and levy contributions for the building of bonfires.  In
this instance, the populace are more puritanic than the magistrate.

The elaborate solemnities of funerals were in accordance with the sombre
character of the times.  In cases of ordinary death, the printer seldom
fails to notice that the corpse was "very decently interred."  But when
some mightier mortal has yielded to his fate, the decease of the
"worshipful" such-a-one is announced, with all his titles of deacon,
justice, councillor, and colonel; then follows an heraldic sketch of his
honorable ancestors, and lastly an account of the black pomp of his
funeral, and the liberal expenditure of scarfs, gloves, and mourning
rings.  The burial train glides slowly before us, as we have seen it
represented in the woodcuts of that day, the coffin, and the bearers,
and the lamentable friends, trailing their long black garments, while
grim Death, a most misshapen skeleton, with all kinds of doleful
emblems, stalks hideously in front.  There was a coach maker at this
period, one John Lucas, who scents to have gained the chief of his
living by letting out a sable coach to funerals. It would not be fair,
however, to leave quite so dismal an impression on the reader's mind;
nor should it be forgotten that happiness may walk soberly in dark
attire, as well as dance lightsomely in a gala-dress.  And this reminds
us that there is an incidental notice of the "dancing-school near the
Orange-Tree," whence we may infer that the salutatory art was
occasionally practised, though perhaps chastened into a characteristic
gravity of movement.  This pastime was probably confined to the
aristocratic circle, of which the royal governor was the centre.  But we
are scandalized at the attempt of Jonathan Furness to introduce a more
reprehensible amusement: he challenges the whole country to match his
black gelding in a race for a hundred pounds, to be decided on Metonomy
Common or Chelsea Beach. Nothing as to the manners of the times can be
inferred from this freak of an individual.  There were no daily and
continual opportunities of being merry; but sometimes the people
rejoiced, in their own peculiar fashion, oftener with a calm, religious
smile than with a broad laugh, as when they feasted, like one great
family, at Thanksgiving time, or indulged a livelier mirth throughout
the pleasant days of Election-week.  This latter was the true holiday
season of New England.  Military musters were too seriously important in
that warlike time to be classed among amusements; but they stirred up
and enlivened the public mind, and were occasions of solemn festival to
the governor and great men of the province, at the expense of the
field-offices.  The Revolution blotted a feast-day out of our calendar; for
the anniversary of the king's birth appears to have been celebrated with
most imposing pomp, by salutes from Castle William, a military parade, a
grand dinner at the town-house, and a brilliant illumination in the
evening.  There was nothing forced nor feigned in these testimonials of
loyalty to George the Second.  So long as they dreaded the
re-establishment of a popish dynasty, the people were fervent for the
house of Hanover: and, besides, the immediate magistracy of the country
was a barrier between the monarch and the occasional discontents of the
colonies; the waves of faction sometimes reached the governor's chair,
but never swelled against the throne.  Thus, until oppression was felt
to proceed from the king's own hand, New England rejoiced with her whole
heart on his Majesty's birthday.

But the slaves, we suspect, were the merriest part of the population,
since it was their gift to be merry in the worst of circumstances; and
they endured, comparatively, few hardships, under the domestic sway of
our fathers.  There seems to have been a great trade in these human
commodities.  No advertisements are more frequent than those of "a negro
fellow, fit for almost any household work"; "a negro woman, honest,
healthy, and capable"; "a negro wench of many desirable qualities";
"a negro man, very fit for a taylor."  We know not in what this natural
fitness for a tailor consisted, unless it were some peculiarity of
conformation that enabled him to sit cross-legged.  When the slaves of a
family were inconveniently prolific,--it being not quite orthodox to
drown the superfluous offspring, like a litter of kittens,--notice was
promulgated of "a negro child to be given away."  Sometimes the slaves
assumed the property of their own persons, and made their escape; among
many such instances, the governor raises a hue-and-cry after his negro
Juba.  But, without venturing a word in extenuation of the general
system, we confess our opinion that Caesar, Pompey, Scipio, and all such
great Roman namesakes, would have been better advised had they stayed at
home, foddering the cattle, cleaning dishes,--in fine, performing their
moderate share of the labors of life, without being harassed by its
cares.  The sable inmates of the mansion were not excluded from the
domestic affections: in families of middling rank, they had their places
at the board; and when the circle closed round the evening hearth, its
blaze glowed on their dark shining faces, intermixed familiarly with
their master's children.  It must have contributed to reconcile them to
their lot, that they saw white men and women imported from Europe as they
had been from Africa, and sold, though only for a term of years, yet as
actual slaves to the highest bidder.  Slave labor being but a small part
of the industry of the country, it did not change the character of the
people; the latter, on the contrary, modified and softened the
institution, making it a patriarchal, and almost a beautiful, peculiarity
of the times.

Ah!  We had forgotten the good old merchant, over whose shoulder we were
peeping, while he read the newspaper.  Let us now suppose him putting on
his three-cornered gold-laced hat, grasping his cane, with a head inlaid
of ebony and mother-of-pearl, and setting forth, through the crooked
streets of Boston, on various errands, suggested by the advertisements of
the day.  Thus he communes with himself: I must be mindful, says he, to
call at Captain Scut's, in Creek Lane, and examine his rich velvet,
whether it be fit for my apparel on Election-day,--that I may wear a
stately aspect in presence of the governor and my brethren of the
council.  I will look in, also, at the shop of Michael Cario, the
jeweller: he has silver buckles of a new fashion; and mine have lasted me
some half-score years.  My fair daughter Miriam shall have an apron of
gold brocade, and a velvet mask,--though it would be a pity the wench
should hide her comely visage; and also a French cap, from Robert
Jenkins's, on the north side of the town-house.  He hath beads, too, and
ear-rings, and necklaces, of all sorts; these are but vanities,
nevertheless, they would please the silly maiden well.  My dame desireth
another female in the kitchen; wherefore, I must inspect the lot of Irish
lasses, for sale by Samuel Waldo, aboard the schooner Endeavor; as also
the likely negro wench, at Captain Bulfinch's.  It were not amiss that I
took my daughter Miriam to see the royal waxwork, near the town-dock,
that she may learn to honor our most gracious King and Queen, and their
royal progeny, even in their waxen images; not that I would approve of
image-worship.  The camel, too, that strange beast from Africa, with two
great humps, to be seen near the Common; methinks I would fain go
thither, and see how the old patriarchs were wont to ride.  I will tarry
awhile in Queen Street, at the bookstore of my good friends Kneeland &
Green, and purchase Dr. Colman's new sermon, and the volume of discourses
by Mr. Henry Flynt; and look over the controversy on baptism, between the
Rev. Peter Clarke and an unknown adversary; and see whether this George
Whitefield be as great in print as he is famed to be in the pulpit.  By
that time, the auction will have commenced at the Royal Exchange, in King
Street.  Moreover, I must look to the disposal of my last cargo of West
India rum and muscovado sugar; and also the lot of choice Cheshire
cheese, lest it grow mouldy.  It were well that I ordered a cask of good
English beer, at the lower end of Milk Street.

Then am I to speak with certain dealers about the lot of stout old
Vidonia, rich Canary, and Oporto-wines, which I have now lying in the
cellar of the Old South meeting-house. But, a pipe or two of the rich
Canary shall be reserved, that it may grow mellow in mine own
wine-cellar, and gladden my heart when it begins to droop with old age.

Provident old gentleman! But, was he mindful of his sepulchre? Did he
bethink him to call at the workshop of Timothy Sheaffe, in Cold Lane, and
select such a gravestone as would best please him?  There wrought the man
whose handiwork, or that of his fellow-craftsmen, was ultimately in
demand by all the busy multitude who have left a record of their earthly
toil in these old time-stained papers. And now, as we turn over the
volume, we seem to be wandering among the mossy stones of a


At a period about twenty years subsequent to that of our former sketch,
we again attempt a delineation of some of the characteristics of life and
manners in New England. Our text-book, as before, is a file of antique
newspapers. The volume which serves us for a writing-desk is a folio of
larger dimensions than the one before described; and the papers are
generally printed on a whole sheet, sometimes with a supplemental leaf of
news and advertisements. They have a venerable appearance, being
overspread with a duskiness of more than seventy years, and discolored,
here and there, with the deeper stains of some liquid, as if the contents
of a wineglass had long since been splashed upon the page.  Still, the
old book conveys an impression that, when the separate numbers were
flying about town, in the first day or two of their respective
existences, they might have been fit reading for very stylish people.
Such newspapers could have been issued nowhere but in a metropolis the
centre, not only of public and private affairs, but of fashion and
gayety.  Without any discredit to the colonial press, these might have
been, and probably were, spread out on the tables of the British
coffee-house, in king Street, for the perusal of the throng of officers
who then drank their wine at that celebrated establishment.  To interest
these military gentlemen, there were bulletins of the war between Prussia
and Austria; between England and France, on the old battle-plains of
Flanders; and between the same antagonists, in the newer fields of the
East Indies,--and in our own trackless woods, where white men never trod
until they came to fight there.  Or, the travelled American, the
petit-maitre of the colonies,--the ape of London foppery, as the newspaper
was the semblance of the London journals,--he, with his gray powdered
periwig, his embroidered coat, lace ruffles, and glossy silk stockings,
golden-clocked,--his buckles of glittering paste, at knee-band and
shoe-strap,--his scented handkerchief, and chapeau beneath his arm, even
such a dainty figure need not have disdained to glance at these old yellow
pages, while they were the mirror of passing times.  For his amusement,
there were essays of wit and humor, the light literature of the day,
which, for breadth and license, might have proceeded from the pen of
Fielding or Smollet; while, in other columns, he would delight his
imagination with the enumerated items of all sorts of finery, and with
the rival advertisements of half a dozen peruke-makers.  In short, newer
manners and customs had almost entirely superseded those of the Puritans,
even in their own city of refuge.

It was natural that, with the lapse of time and increase of wealth and
population, the peculiarities of the early settlers should have waxed
fainter and fainter through the generations of their descendants, who
also had been alloyed by a continual accession of emigrants from many
countries and of all characters.  It tended to assimilate the colonial
manners to those of the mother-country, that the commercial intercourse
was great, and that the merchants often went thither in their own ships.
Indeed, almost every man of adequate fortune felt a yearning desire, and
even judged it a filial duty, at least once in his life, to visit the
home of his ancestors.  They still called it their own home, as if New
England were to them, what many of the old Puritans had considered it,
not a permanent abiding-place, but merely a lodge in the wilderness,
until the trouble of the times should be passed.  The example of the
royal governors must have had much influence on the manners of the
colonists; for these rulers assumed a degree of state and splendor which
had never been practised by their predecessors, who differed in nothing
from republican chief-magistrates, under the old charter.  The officers
of the crown, the public characters in the interest of the
administration, and the gentlemen of wealth and good descent, generally
noted for their loyalty, would constitute a dignified circle, with the
governor in the centre, bearing a very passable resemblance to a court.
Their ideas, their habits, their bode of courtesy, and their dress would
have all the fresh glitter of fashions immediately derived from the
fountain-head, in England.  To prevent their modes of life from becoming
the standard with all who had the ability to imitate them, there was no
longer an undue severity of religion, nor as yet any disaffection to
British supremacy, nor democratic prejudices against pomp.  Thus, while
the colonies were attaining that strength which was soon to render them
an independent republic, it might have been supposed that the wealthier
classes were growing into an aristocracy, and ripening for hereditary
rank, while the poor were to be stationary in their abasement, and the
country, perhaps, to be a sister monarchy with England.  Such, doubtless,
were the plausible conjectures deduced from the superficial phenomena of
our connection with a monarchical government, until the prospective
nobility were levelled with the mob, by the mere gathering of winds that
preceded the storm of the Revolution.  The portents of that storm were
not yet visible in the air.  A true picture of society, therefore, would
have the rich effect produced by distinctions of rank that seemed
permanent, and by appropriate habits of splendor on the part of the

The people at large had been somewhat changed in character, since the
period of our last sketch, by their great exploit, the conquest of
Louisburg.  After that event, the New-Englanders never settled into
precisely the same quiet race which all the world had imagined them to
be.  They had done a deed of history, and were anxious to add new ones to
the record.  They had proved themselves powerful enough to influence the
result of a war, and were thenceforth called upon, and willingly
consented, to join their strength against the enemies of England; on
those fields, at least, where victory would redound to their peculiar
advantage.  And now, in the heat of the Old French War, they might well
be termed a martial people.  Every man was a soldier, or the father or
brother of a soldier; and the whole land literally echoed with the roll
of the drum, either beating up for recruits among the towns and villages,
or striking the march towards the frontiers.  Besides the provincial
troops, there were twenty-three British regiments in the northern
colonies.  The country has never known a period of such excitement and
warlike life; except during the Revolution,--perhaps scarcely then; for
that was a lingering war, and this a stirring and eventful one.

One would think that no very wonderful talent was requisite for an
historical novel, when the rough and hurried paragraphs of these
newspapers can recall the past so magically.  We seem to be waiting in
the street for the arrival of the post-rider--who is seldom more than
twelve hours beyond his time--with letters, by way of Albany, from the
various departments of the army.  Or, we may fancy ourselves in the
circle of listeners, all with necks stretched out towards an old
gentleman in the centre, who deliberately puts on his spectacles, unfolds
the wet newspaper, and gives us the details of the broken and
contradictory reports, which have been flying from mouth to mouth, ever
since the courier alighted at Secretary Oliver's office.  Sometimes we
have an account of the Indian skirmishes near Lake George, and how a
ranging party of provincials were so closely pursued, that they threw
away their arms, and eke their shoes, stockings, and breeches, barely
reaching the camp in their shirts, which also were terribly tattered by
the bushes.  Then, there is a journal of the siege of Fort Niagara, so
minute that it almost numbers the cannon-shot and bombs, and describes
the effect of the latter missiles on the French commandant's stone
mansion, within the fortress.  In the letters of the provincial officers,
it is amusing to observe how some of them endeavor to catch the careless
and jovial turn of old campaigners.  One gentleman tells us that he holds
a brimming glass in his hand, intending to drink the health of his
correspondent, unless a cannon ball should dash the liquor from his lips;
in the midst of his letter he hears the bells of the French churches
ringing, in Quebec, and recollects that it is Sunday; whereupon, like a
good Protestant, he resolves to disturb the Catholic worship by a few
thirty-two pound shot.  While this wicked man of war was thus making a
jest of religion, his pious mother had probably put up a note, that very
Sabbath-day, desiring the "prayers of the congregation for a son gone a
soldiering."  We trust, however, that there were some stout old worthies
who were not ashamed to do as their fathers did, but went to prayer, with
their soldiers, before leading them to battle; and doubtless fought none
the worse for that.  If we had enlisted in the Old French War, it should
have been under such a captain; for we love to see a man keep the
characteristics of his country.

     [The contemptuous jealousy of the British army, from the general
     downwards, was very galling to the provincial troops.  In one of the
     newspapers, there is an admirable letter of a New England man,
     copied from the London Chronicle, defending the provincials with an
     ability worthy of Franklin, and somewhat in his style.  The letter
     is remarkable, also, because it takes up the cause of the whole
     range of colonies, as if the writer looked upon them all as
     constituting one country, and that his own.  Colonial patriotism had
     not hitherto been so broad a sentiment.]

These letters, and other intelligence from the army, are pleasant and
lively reading, and stir up the mind like the music of a drum and fife.
It is less agreeable to meet with accounts of women slain and scalped,
and infants dashed against trees, by the Indians on the frontiers.  It is
a striking circumstance, that innumerable bears, driven from the woods,
by the uproar of contending armies in their accustomed haunts, broke into
the settlements, and committed great ravages among children, as well as
sheep and swine.  Some of them prowled where bears had never been for a
century, penetrating within a mile or two of Boston; a fact that gives a
strong and gloomy impression of something very terrific going on in the
forest, since these savage beasts fled townward to avoid it.  But it is
impossible to moralize about such trifles, when every newspaper contains
tales of military enterprise, and often a huzza for victory; as, for
instance, the taking of Ticonderoga, long a place of awe to the
provincials, and one of the bloodiest spots in the present war.  Nor is
it unpleasant, among whole pages of exultation, to find a note of sorrow
for the fall of some brave officer; it comes wailing in, like a funeral
strain amidst a peal of triumph, itself triumphant too.  Such was the
lamentation over Wolfe.  Somewhere, in this volume of newspapers, though
we cannot now lay our finger upon the passage, we recollect a report that
General Wolfe was slain, not by the enemy, but by a shot from his own

In the advertising columns, also, we are continually reminded that the
country was in a state of war.  Governor Pownall makes proclamation for
the enlisting of soldiers, and directs the militia colonels to attend to
the discipline of their regiments, and the selectmen of every town to
replenish their stocks of ammunition.  The magazine, by the way, was
generally kept in the upper loft of the village meeting-house.  The
provincial captains are drumming up for soldiers, in every newspaper.
Sir Jeffrey Amherst advertises for batteaux-men, to be employed on the
lakes; and gives notice to the officers of seven British regiments,
dispersed on the recruiting service, to rendezvous in Boston.  Captain
Hallowell, of the province ship-of-war King George, invites able-bodied
seamen to serve his Majesty, for fifteen pounds, old tenor, per month.
By the rewards offered, there would appear to have been frequent
desertions from the New England forces: we applaud their wisdom, if not
their valor or integrity.  Cannon of all calibres, gunpowder and balls,
firelocks, pistols, swords, and hangers, were common articles of
merchandise.  Daniel Jones, at the sign of the hat and helmet, offers to
supply officers with scarlet broadcloth, gold-lace for hats and
waistcoats, cockades, and other military foppery, allowing credit until
the payrolls shall be made up.  This advertisement gives us quite a
gorgeous idea of a provincial captain in full dress.

At the commencement of the campaign of 1759, the British general informs
the farmers of New England that a regular market will be established at
Lake George, whither they are invited to bring provisions and
refreshments of all sorts, for the use of the army.  Hence, we may form a
singular picture of petty traffic, far away from any permanent
settlements, among the hills which border that romantic lake, with the
solemn woods overshadowing the scene.  Carcasses of bullocks and fat
porkers are placed upright against the huge trunks of the trees; fowls
hang from the lower branches, bobbing against the heads of those beneath;
butter-firkins, great cheeses, and brown loaves of household bread, baked
in distant ovens, are collected under temporary shelters or pine-boughs,
with gingerbread, and pumpkin-pies, perhaps, and other toothsome
dainties.  Barrels of cider and spruce-beer are running freely into the
wooden canteens of the soldiers.  Imagine such a scene, beneath the dark
forest canopy, with here and there a few struggling sunbeams, to
dissipate the gloom.  See the shrewd yeomen, haggling with their
scarlet-coated customers, abating somewhat in their prices, but still
dealing at monstrous profit; and then complete the picture with
circumstances that bespeak war and danger.  A cannon shall be seen to
belch its smoke from among the trees, against some distant canoes on
the lake; the traffickers shall pause, and seem to hearken, at intervals,
as if they heard the rattle of musketry or the shout of Indians; a
scouting-party shall be driven in, with two or three faint and bloody men
among them.  And, in spite of these disturbances, business goes on briskly
in the market of the wilderness.

It must not be supposed that the martial character of the times
interrupted all pursuits except those connected with war.  On the
contrary, there appears to have been a general vigor and vivacity
diffused into the whole round of colonial life.  During the winter of
1759, it was computed that about a thousand sled-loads of country produce
were daily brought into Boston market.  It was a symptom of an irregular
and unquiet course of affairs, that innumerable lotteries were projected,
ostensibly for the purpose of public improvements, such as roads and
bridges.  Many females seized the opportunity to engage in business: as,
among others, Alice Quick, who dealt in crockery and hosiery, next door
to Deacon Beautineau's; Mary Jackson, who sold butter, at the Brazen-Head,
in Cornhill; Abigail Hiller, who taught ornamental work, near the
Orange-Tree, where also were to be seen the King and Queen, in wax-work;
Sarah Morehead, an instructor in glass-painting, drawing, and japanning;
Mary Salmon, who shod horses, at the South End; Harriet Pain, at the Buck
and Glove, and Mrs. Henrietta Maria Caine, at the Golden Fan, both
fashionable milliners; Anna Adams, who advertises Quebec and Garrick
bonnets, Prussian cloaks, and scarlet cardinals, opposite the old brick
meeting-house; besides a lady at the head of a wine and spirit
establishment.  Little did these good dames expect to reappear before the
public, so long after they had made their last courtesies behind the
counter.  Our great-grandmothers were a stirring sisterhood, and seem not
to have been utterly despised by the gentlemen at the British coffee-house;
at least, some gracious bachelor, there resident, gives public
notice of his willingness to take a wife, provided she be not above
twenty-three, and possess brown hair, regular features, a brisk eye, and
a fortune.  Now, this was great condescension towards the ladies of
Massachusetts Bay, in a threadbare lieutenant of foot.

Polite literature was beginning to make its appearance.  Few native works
were advertised, it is true, except sermons and treatises of
controversial divinity; nor were the English authors of the day much
known on this side of the Atlantic.  But catalogues were frequently
offered at auction or private sale, comprising the standard English
books, history, essays, and poetry, of Queen Anne's age, and the
preceding century.  We see nothing in the nature of a novel, unless it be
"_The Two Mothers_, price four coppers."  There was an American poet,
however, of whom Mr. Kettell has preserved no specimen,--the author of
"War, an Heroic Poem"; he publishes by subscription, and threatens to
prosecute his patrons for not taking their books.  We have discovered a
periodical, also, and one that has a peculiar claim to be recorded here,
since it bore the title of "_THE NEW ENGLAND MAGAZINE_," a forgotten
predecessor, for which we should have a filial respect, and take its
excellence on trust.  The fine arts, too, were budding into existence.
At the "old glass and picture shop," in Cornhill, various maps, plates,
and views are advertised, and among them a "Prospect of Boston," a
copperplate engraving of Quebec, and the effigies of all the New England
ministers ever done in mezzotinto.  All these must have been very salable
articles.  Other ornamental wares were to be found at the same shop; such
as violins, flutes, hautboys, musical books, English and Dutch toys, and
London babies.  About this period, Mr. Dipper gives notice of a concert
of vocal and instrumental music.  There had already been an attempt at
theatrical exhibitions.

There are tokens, in every newspaper, of a style of luxury and
magnificence which we do not usually associate with our ideas of the
times.  When the property of a deceased person was to be sold, we find,
among the household furniture, silk beds and hangings, damask table-cloths,
Turkey carpets, pictures, pier-glasses, massive plate, and all
things proper for a noble mansion.  Wine was more generally drunk than
now, though by no means to the neglect of ardent spirits.  For the
apparel of both sexes, the mercers and milliners imported good store of
fine broadcloths, especially scarlet, crimson, and sky-blue, silks,
satins, lawns, and velvets, gold brocade, and gold and silver lace, and
silver tassels, and silver spangles, until Cornhill shone and sparkled
with their merchandise.  The gaudiest dress permissible by modern taste
fades into a Quaker-like sobriety, compared with the deep, rich, glowing
splendor of our ancestors.  Such figures were almost too fine to go about
town on foot; accordingly, carriages were so numerous as to require a
tax; and it is recorded that, when Governor Bernard came to the province,
he was met between Dedham and Boston by a multitude of gentlemen in their
coaches and chariots.

Take my arm, gentle reader, and come with me into some street, perhaps
trodden by your daily footsteps, but which now has such an aspect of
half-familiar strangeness, that you suspect yourself to be walking abroad
in a dream.  True, there are some brick edifices which you remember from
childhood, and which your father and grandfather remembered as well; but
you are perplexed by the absence of many that were here only an hour or
two since; and still more amazing is the presence of whole rows of wooden
and plastered houses, projecting over the sidewalks, and bearing iron
figures on their fronts, which prove them to have stood on the same sites
above a century.  Where have your eyes been that you never saw them
before?  Along the ghostly street,--for, at length, you conclude that all
is unsubstantial, though it be so good a mockery of an antique town,--along
the ghostly street, there are ghostly people too.  Every gentleman
has his three-cornered hat, either on his head or under his arm; and all
wear wigs in infinite variety,--the Tie, the Brigadier, the Spencer, the
Albemarle, the Major, the Ramillies, the grave Full-bottom, or the giddy
Feather-top.  Look at the elaborate lace-ruffles, and the square-skirted
coats of gorgeous hues, bedizened with silver and gold!  Make way for the
phantom-ladies, whose hoops require such breadth of passage, as they pace
majestically along, in silken gowns, blue, green, or yellow, brilliantly
embroidered, and with small satin hats surmounting their powdered hair.
Make way; for the whole spectral show will vanish, if your earthly
garments brush against their robes.  Now that the scene is brightest, and
the whole street glitters with imaginary sunshine,--now hark to the bells
of the Old South and the Old North, ringing out with a sudden and merry
peal, while the cannon of Castle William thunder below the town, and
those of the Diana frigate repeat the sound, and the Charlestown
batteries reply with a nearer roar!  You see the crowd toss up their hats
in visionary joy.  You hear of illuminations and fire-works, and of
bonfires, built oil scaffolds, raised several stories above the ground,
that are to blaze all night in King Street and on Beacon Hill.  And here
come the trumpets and kettle-drums, and the tramping hoofs of the Boston
troop of horseguards, escorting the governor to King's Chapel, where he
is to return solemn thanks for the surrender of Quebec.  March on, thou
shadowy troop! and vanish, ghostly crowd! and change again, old street!
for those stirring times are gone.

Opportunely for the conclusion of our sketch, a fire broke out, on the
twentieth of March, 1760, at the Brazen-Head, in Cornhill, and consumed
nearly four hundred buildings.  Similar disasters have always been epochs
in the chronology of Boston.  That of 1711 had hitherto been termed the
Great Fire, but now resigned its baleful dignity to one which has ever
since retained it.  Did we desire to move the reader's sympathies on this
subject, we would not be grandiloquent about the sea of billowy flame,
the glowing and crumbling streets, the broad, black firmament of smoke,
and the blast or wind that sprang up with the conflagration and roared
behind it.  It would be more effective to mark out a single family at the
moment when the flames caught upon an angle of their dwelling: then would
ensue the removal of the bedridden grandmother, the cradle with the
sleeping infant, and, most dismal of all, the dying man just at the
extremity of a lingering disease.  Do but imagine the confused agony of
one thus awfully disturbed in his last hour; his fearful glance behind at
the consuming fire raging after him, from house to house, as its devoted
victim; and, finally, the almost eagerness with which he would seize some
calmer interval to die!  The Great Fire must have realized many such a

Doubtless posterity has acquired a better city by the calamity of that
generation.  None will be inclined to lament it at this late day, except
the lover of antiquity, who would have been glad to walk among those
streets of venerable houses, fancying the old inhabitants still there,
that he might commune with their shadows, and paint a more vivid picture
of their times.


Again we take a leap of about twenty years, and alight in the midst of
the Revolution.  Indeed, having just closed a volume of colonial
newspapers, which represented the period when monarchical and
aristocratic sentiments were at the highest,--and now opening another
volume printed in the same metropolis, after such sentiments had long
been deemed a sin and shame,--we feel as if the leap were more than
figurative.  Our late course of reading has tinctured us, for the moment,
with antique prejudices; and we shrink from the strangely contrasted
times into which we emerge, like one of those immutable old Tories, who
acknowledge no oppression in the Stamp Act.  It may be the most effective
method of going through the present file of papers, to follow out this
idea, and transform ourself, perchance, from a modern Tory into such a
sturdy King-man as once wore that pliable nickname.

Well, then, here we sit, an old, gray, withered, sour-visaged, threadbare
sort of gentleman, erect enough, here in our solitude, but marked out by
a depressed and distrustful mien abroad, as one conscious of a stigma
upon his forehead, though for no crime.  We were already in the decline
of life when the first tremors of the earthquake that has convulsed the
continent were felt.  Our mind had grown too rigid to change any of its
opinions, when the voice of the people demanded that all should be
changed.  We are an Episcopalian, and sat under the High-Church doctrines
of Dr. Caner; we have been a captain of the provincial forces, and love
our king the better for the blood that we shed in his cause on the Plains
of Abraham.  Among all the refugees, there is not one more loyal to the
backbone than we.  Still we lingered behind when the British army
evacuated Boston, sweeping in its train most of those with whom we held
communion; the old, loyal gentlemen, the aristocracy of the colonies, the
hereditary Englishman, imbued with more than native zeal and admiration
for the glorious island and its monarch, because the far-intervening
ocean threw a dim reverence around them.  When our brethren departed, we
could not tear our aged roots out of the soil.

We have remained, therefore, enduring to be outwardly a freeman, but
idolizing King George in secrecy and silence,--one true old heart amongst
a host of enemies.  We watch, with a weary hope, for the moment when all
this turmoil shall subside, and the impious novelty that has distracted
our latter years, like a wild dream, give place to the blessed quietude
of royal sway, with the king's name in every ordinance, his prayer in the
church, his health at the board, and his love in the people's heart.
Meantime, our old age finds little honor.  Hustled have we been, till
driven from town-meetings; dirty water has been cast upon our ruffles by
a Whig chambermaid; John Hancock's coachman seizes every opportunity to
bespatter us with mud; daily are we hooted by the unbreeched rebel brats;
and narrowly, once, did our gray hairs escape the ignominy of tar and
feathers.  Alas! only that we cannot bear to die till the next royal
governor comes over, we would fain be in our quiet grave.

Such an old man among new things are we who now hold at arm's-length the
rebel newspaper of the day.  The very figure-head, for the thousandth
time, elicits it groan of spiteful lamentation.  Where are the united
heart and crown, the loyal emblem, that used to hallow the sheet on which
it was impressed, in our younger days?  In its stead we find a
continental officer, with the Declaration of Independence in one hand, a
drawn sword in the other, and above his head a scroll, bearing the motto,
"WE APPEAL TO HEAVEN."  Then say we, with a prospective triumph, let
Heaven judge, in its own good time!  The material of the sheet attracts
our scorn.  It is a fair specimen of rebel manufacture, thick and coarse,
like wrapping-paper, all overspread with little knobs; and of such a
deep, dingy blue color, that we wipe our spectacles thrice before we can
distinguish a letter of the wretched print.  Thus, in all points, the
newspaper is a type of the times, far more fit for the rough hands of a
democratic mob, than for our own delicate, though bony fingers.  Nay we
will not handle it without our gloves!

Glancing down the page, our eyes are greeted everywhere by the offer of
lands at auction, for sale or to be leased, not by the rightful owners,
but a rebel committee; notices of the town constable, that he is
authorized to receive the taxes on such all estate, in default of which,
that also is to be knocked down to the highest bidder; and notifications
of complaints filed by the attorney-general against certain traitorous
absentees, and of confiscations that are to ensue.  And who are these
traitors?  Our own best friends; names as old, once as honored, as any in
the land where they are no longer to have a patrimony, nor to be
remembered as good men who have passed away.  We are ashamed of not
relinquishing our little property, too; but comfort ourselves because we
still keep our principles, without gratifying the rebels with our
plunder.  Plunder, indeed, they are seizing everywhere,--by the strong
hand at sea, as well as by legal forms oil shore.  Here are prize-vessels
for sale; no French nor Spanish merchantmen, whose wealth is the
birthright of British subjects, but hulls of British oak, from Liverpool,
Bristol, and the Thames, laden with the king's own stores, for his army
in New York.  And what a fleet of privateers--pirates, say we--are
fitting out for new ravages, with rebellion in their very names!  The
Free Yankee, the General Greene, the Saratoga, the Lafayette, and the
Grand Monarch!  Yes, the Grand Monarch; so is a French king styled, by
the sons of Englishmen.  And here we have an ordinance from the Court of
Versailles, with the Bourbon's own signature affixed, as if New England
were already a French province.  Everything is French,--French soldiers,
French sailors, French surgeons, and French diseases too, I trow; besides
French dancing-masters and French milliners, to debauch our daughters
with French fashions!  Everything in America is French, except the
Canadas, the loyal Canadas, which we helped to wrest, from
France.  And to that old French province the Englishman of the colonies
must go to find his country!

O, the misery of seeing the whole system of things changed in my old
days, when I would be loath to change even a pair of buckles!  The
British coffee-house, where oft we sat, brimful of wine and loyalty, with
the gallant gentlemen of Amherst's army, when we wore a redcoat too,--the
British coffee-house, forsooth, must now be styled the American, with a
golden eagle instead of the royal arms above the door.  Even the street
it stands in is no longer King Street!  Nothing is the king's, except
this heavy heart in my old bosom.  Wherever I glance my eyes, they meet
something that pricks them like a needle.  This soap-maker, for instance,
this Hobert Hewes, has conspired against my peace, by notifying that his
shop is situated near Liberty Stump.  But when will their misnamed
liberty have its true emblem in that Stump, hewn down by British steel?

Where shall we buy our next year's almanac?  Not this of Weatherwise's,
certainly; for it contains a likeness of George Washington, the upright
rebel, whom we most hate, though reverentially, as a fallen angel, with
his heavenly brightness undiminished, evincing pure fame in an unhallowed
cause.  And here is a new book for my evening's recreation,--a History of
the War till the close of the year 1779, with the heads of thirteen
distinguished officers, engraved on copperplate.  A plague upon their
heads!  We desire not to see them till they grin at us from the balcony
before the town-house, fixed on spikes, as the heads of traitors.  How
bloody-minded the villains make a peaceable old man!  What next?  An
Oration, on the Horrid Massacre of 1770.  When that blood was shed,--the
first that the British soldier ever drew from the bosoms of our
countrymen,--we turned sick at heart, and do so still, as often as they
make it reek anew from among the stones in King Street.  The pool that we
saw that night has swelled into a lake,--English blood and American,--no!
all British, all blood of my brethren.  And here come down tears.  Shame
on me, since half of them are shed for rebels!  Who are not rebels now!
Even the women are thrusting their white hands into the war, and come out
in this very paper with proposals to form a society--the lady of George
Washington at their head--for clothing the continental troops.  They will
strip off their stiff petticoats to cover the ragged rascals, and then
enlist in the ranks themselves.

What have we here?  Burgoyne's proclamation turned into Hudibrastic
rhyme!  And here, some verses against the king, in which the scribbler
leaves a blank for the name of George, as if his doggerel might yet exalt
him to the pillory.  Such, after years of rebellion, is the heart's
unconquerable reverence for the Lord's anointed!  In the next column, we
have scripture parodied in a squib against his sacred Majesty.  What
would our Puritan great-grandsires have said to that?  They never laughed
at God's word, though they cut off a king's head.

Yes; it was for us to prove how disloyalty goes hand in hand with
irreligion, and all other vices come trooping in the train.  Nowadays men
commit robbery and sacrilege for the mere luxury of wickedness, as this
advertisement testifies.  Three hundred pounds reward for the detection
of the villains who stole and destroyed the cushions and pulpit drapery
of the Brattle Street and Old South churches.  Was it a crime?  I can
scarcely think our temples hallowed, since the king ceased to be prayed
for.  But it is not temples only that they rob.  Here a man offers a
thousand dollars--a thousand dollars, in Continental rags!--for the
recovery of his stolen cloak, and other articles of clothing.
Horse-thieves are innumerable.  Now is the day when every beggar gets on
horseback.  And is not the whole land like a beggar on horseback riding
post to the Davil?  Ha! here is a murder, too.  A woman slain at
midnight, by all unknown ruffian, and found cold, stiff, and bloody, in
her violated bed!  Let the hue-and-cry follow hard after the man in the
uniform of blue and buff who last went by that way.  My life on it, he is
the blood-stained ravisher!  These deserters whom we see proclaimed in
every column,--proof that the banditti are as false to their Stars and
Stripes as to the Holy Red Cross,--they bring the crimes of a rebel camp
into a soil well suited to them; the bosom of a people, without the heart
that kept them virtuous,--their king!

Here flaunting down a whole column, with official seal and signature,
here comes a proclamation.  By whose authority?  Ah! the United
States,--these thirteen little anarchies, assembled in that one grand
anarchy, their Congress.  And what the import?  A general Fast.  By
Heaven! for once the traitorous blockheads have legislated wisely!  Yea;
let a misguided people kneel down in sackcloth and ashes, from end to end,
from border to border, of their wasted country.  Well may they fast where
there is no food, and cry aloud for whatever remnant of God's mercy their
sins may not have exhausted.  We too will fast, even at a rebel summons.
Pray others as they will, there shall be at least an old man kneeling for
the righteous cause.  Lord, put down the rebels!  God save the king!

Peace to the good old Tory!  One of our objects has been to exemplify,
without softening a single prejudice proper to the character which we
assumed, that the Americans who clung to the losing side in the
Revolution were men greatly to be pitied and often worthy of our
sympathy.  It would be difficult to say whose lot was most lamentable,
that of the active Tories, who gave up their patrimonies for a pittance
from the British pension-roll, and their native land for a cold reception
in their miscalled home, or the passive ones who remained behind to
endure the coldness of former friends, and the public opprobrium, as
despised citizens, under a government which they abhorred.  In justice to
the old gentleman who has favored us with his discontented musings, we
must remark that the state of the country, so far as can be gathered from
these papers, was of dismal augury for the tendencies of democratic rule.
It was pardonable in the conservative of that day to mistake the
temporary evils of a change for permanent diseases of the system which
that change was to establish.  A revolution, or anything that interrupts
social order, may afford opportunities for the individual display of
eminent virtues; but its effects are pernicious to general morality.
Most people are so constituted that they can be virtuous only in a
certain routine; and an irregular course of public affairs demoralizes
them.  One great source of disorder was the multitude of disbanded
troops, who were continually returning home, after terms of service just
long enough to give them a distaste to peaceable occupations; neither
citizens nor soldiers, they were very liable to become ruffians.  Almost
all our impressions in regard to this period are unpleasant, whether
referring to the state of civil society, or to the character of the
contest, which, especially where native Americans were opposed to each
other, was waged with the deadly hatred of fraternal enemies.  It is the
beauty of war, for men to commit mutual havoc with undisturbed

The present volume of newspapers contains fewer characteristic traits
than any which we have looked over.  Except for the peculiarities
attendant on the passing struggle, manners seem to have taken a modern
cast.  Whatever antique fashions lingered into the War of the Revolution,
or beyond it, they were not so strongly marked as to leave their traces
in the public journals.  Moreover, the old newspapers had an
indescribable picturesqueness, not to be found in the later ones.
Whether it be something in the literary execution, or the ancient print
and paper, and the idea that those same musty pages have been handled by
people once alive and bustling amid the scenes there recorded, yet now in
their graves beyond the memory of man; so it is, that in those elder
volumes we seem to find the life of a past age preserved between the
leaves, like a dry specimen of foliage.  It is so difficult to discover
what touches are really picturesque, that we doubt whether our attempts
have produced any similar effect.

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