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Title: Memoirs of an American Lady - With Sketches of Manners and Scenery in America, as They - Existed Previous to the Revolution
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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                           AN AMERICAN LADY.

                            WITH SKETCHES OF

                          MANNERS AND SCENERY

                              IN AMERICA,


                            BY THE AUTHOR OF
                     “LETTERS FROM THE MOUNTAINS.”


                      PUBLISHED BY GEORGE DEARBORN
                            38 GOLD-STREET.





AMONG the scenes of peculiar interest the American traveller is, as it
were, under a patriotic obligation to visit while abroad, may be
mentioned the birth-place of Columbus near Genoa, Cave Castle, the
mansion of the Washington family in the Wolds of Yorkshire, and the
abode at Edinburgh of the venerable authoress of “Letters from the
Mountains.” In acknowledgment of what we all owe to her, and as a
heartfelt tribute of admiration, and affection for her talents, and
virtues, the present work being out of print, the opportunity of
republishing what so much identifies Mrs. Grant of Laghan with our
country, is gladly seized upon by one who since one of those pilgrimages
has long enjoyed the benign influence of her society and correspondence.
The simple circumstances she relates of herself, and the gentle spirit
of the whole work render it unnecessary to deprecate criticism; and the
praise of Southey who pronounced the “description of the breaking up of
the ice in the Hudson,” as “quite Homeric,” must bespeak for it a
favourable perusal. As a picture, taken at the dawning of the
Revolution, of the clouds which then passed along to have vanished
otherwise forever, and as one in a series of works shedding light upon
that momentous period of which the “Pioneers” is its natural successor,
its reappearance must be a welcome event in the marshalling of American
literature now in progress.



                        TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

                      SIR WILLIAM GRANT, K. N. T.

                          MASTER OF THE ROLLS.


IT is very probable that the friends, by whose solicitations I was
induced to arrange in the following pages my early recollections,
studied more the amusement I should derive from executing this task,
than any pleasure they could expect from its completion.

The principal object of this work is to record the few incidents, and
the many virtues which diversified and distinguished the life of a most
valued friend. Though no manners could be more simple, no notions more
primitive than those which prevailed among her associates, the stamp of
originality with which they were marked, and the peculiar circumstances
in which they stood, both with regard to my friend, and the infant
society to which they belonged, will, I flatter myself, give an interest
with reflecting minds, even to this desultory narrative; and the
miscellany of description, observation, and detail which it involves.

If truth, both of feeling and narration, which are its only merits,
prove a sufficient counterbalance to carelessness, laxity, and
incoherence of style, its prominent faults, I may venture to invite you,
when you unbend from the useful and honourable labours to which your
valuable time is devoted, to trace this feeble delineation of an
excellent, though unembellished character; and of the rapid pace with
which an infant society has urged on its progress from virtuous
simplicity, to the dangerous “knowledge of good and evil:” from
tremulous imbecility to self-sufficient independence.

To be faithful, a delineation must necessarily be minute. Yet if this
sketch, with all its imperfections, be honoured by your indulgent
perusal, such condescension of time and talent must certainly be
admired, and may, perhaps, be imitated by others.

          I am, sir, very respectfully,

               Your faithful, humble servant,

                    THE AUTHOR.

London, Oct. 1808.



                 CHAP.                                     Page

                 Introduction                                 2

              I. Province of New-York—Origin of the          19
                   settlement at Albany—Singular
                   possession held by the patron—Account
                   of his tenants

             II. Account of the Five Nations, or Mohawk      22
                   Indians—Building of the Fort at
                   Albany—John and Philip Schuyler

            III. Colonel Schuyler persuades four sachems     27
                   to accompany him to England—Their
                   reception and return

             IV. Return of Colonel Schuyler and the          30
                   Sachems to the interior—Literary
                   acquisitions—Distinguishes and
                   instructs his favourite niece—Manners
                   of the settlers

              V. State of religion among the                 34
                   settlers—Instruction of children
                   devolved on females—to whom the charge
                   of gardening, &c. was also
                   committed—Sketch of the state of the
                   society at New-York

             VI. Description of Albany—Manner of living      37
                   there—Hermitage, &c.

            VII. Gentle treatment of slaves among the        41
                   Albanians—Consequent attachment of
                   domestics—Reflections on servitude

           VIII. Education and early habits of the           46
                   Albanians described

             IX. Description of the manner in which the      52
                   Indian traders set out on their first

              X. Marriages, amusements, rural excursions,    62
                   &c. among the Albanians

             XI. Winter amusements of the Albanians, &c.     68

            XII. Lay-brothers—Catalina—Detached Indians      73

           XIII. Progress of knowledge—Indian manners        79

            XIV. Marriage of Miss Schuyler—Description of    87
                   the Flats

             XV. Character of Philip Schuyler—His            92
                   management of the Indians

            XVI. Account of the three brothers               96

           XVII. The house and rural economy of the          98
                   Flats—Birds and insects

          XVIII. Description of Colonel Schuyler’s barn,    104
                   the common, and its various uses

            XIX. Military preparations—Disinterested        108
                   conduct, the surest road to
                   popularity—Fidelity of the Mohawks

             XX. Account of a refractory warrior, and of    112
                   the spirit which still pervaded the
                   New-England provinces

            XXI. Distinguishing characteristics of the      115
                   New-York colonists, to what
                   owing—Huguenots and Palatines, their

           XXII. A child still-born—Adoption of children    118
                   common in the province—Madame’s visit
                   to New-York

          XXIII. Colonel Schuyler’s partiality to the       122
                   military children successively
                   adopted—Indian character falsely
                   charged with idleness

           XXIV. Progress of civilization in                126
                   Europe—Northern nations instructed in
                   the arts of life by those they had

            XXV. Means by which the independence of the     133
                   Indians was first diminished

           XXVI. Peculiar attractions of the Indian mode    137
                   of life—Account of a settler who
                   resided some time among them

          XXVII. Indians only to be attached by being       142
                   converted—The abortive expedition of
                   Mons. Barre—Ironical sketch of an

         XXVIII. Management of the Mohawks by the           147
                   influence of the christian Indians

           XXIX. Madame’s adopted children—Anecdote of      152
                   sister Susan

            XXX. Death of young Philip Schuyler—Account     159
                   of his family, and of the society at
                   the Flats

           XXXI. Family details                             167

          XXXII. Resources of Madame—Provincial customs     172

         XXXIII. Followers of the army—Inconveniences       177
                   resulting from such

          XXXIV. Arrival of a new regiment—Domine           182

           XXXV. Plays acted—Displeasure of the Domine      187

          XXXVI. Return of Madame—The Domine leaves his     192
                   people—Fulfilment of his predictions

         XXXVII. Death of Colonel Schuyler                  197

        XXXVIII. Mrs. Schuyler’s arrangements and conduct   201
                   after the colonel’s death

          XXXIX. Mohawk Indians—The superintendent          205

             XL. General Abercrombie—Lord Howe              210

            XLI. Total defeat at Ticonderoga—General        216
                   Lee—Humanity of madame

           XLII. The family of madame’s sister—The death    219
                   of the latter

          XLIII. Further successes of the British arms—A    223
                   missionary—Cortlandt Schuyler

           XLIV. Burning of the house at the                227
                   Flats—Madame’s removal—Journey of the

            XLV. Continuation of the Journey—Arrival at     232
                   Oswego—Regulations, studies, and
                   amusements there

           XLVI. Benefit of select reading—Hunting          241

          XLVII. Gardening and agriculture—Return of the    244
                   author to Albany

         XLVIII. Madame’s family and society described       24

           XLIX. Sir Jeffery Amherst—Mutiny—Indian war      256

              L. Pondiac—Sir Robert D.                      262

             LI. Death of Captain Dalziel—Sudden decease    268
                   of an Indian chief—Madame—Her

            LII. Madame’s popularity—Exchange of            275

           LIII. Return of the fifty-fifth regiment to      278
                   Europe—Privates sent to Pensacola

            LIV. A new property—Visionary plans             282

             LV. Return to the Flats                        292

            LVI. Melancholy presages—Turbulence of the      295

           LVII. Settlers of a new description—Madame’s     301

          LVIII. Mode of conveying timber in rafts down     309
                   the river

            LIX. The Swamp—A discovery                      312

             LX. Mrs. Schuyler’s view of continental        318

            LXI. Description of the breaking up of the      321
                   ice on the Hudson river

           LXII. Departure from Albany—Origin of the        325
                   state of Vermont

          LXIII. General reflections                        331

           LXIV. Reflections continued                      338

            LXV. Sketch of the settlement of Pennsylvania   344

           LXVI. Prospects brightening in British           351
                   America—Desirable country on the
                   interior lakes, &c.




                                 To ——


OTHERS as well as you have expressed a wish to see a memoir of my
earliest and most valued friend. To gratify you and them I feel many
inducements, and see many objections. To comply with any wish of yours
is one strong inducement. To please myself with the recollection of past
happiness and departed worth, is another; and to benefit those into
whose hands this imperfect sketch may fall, is a third. For the
authentic record of an exemplary life, though delivered in the most
unadorned manner, or even degraded by poverty of style or uncouthness of
narration, has an attraction for the uncorrupted mind.

It is the rare lot of some exalted characters, by the united power of
virtues and of talents, to soar above their fellow-mortals, and leave a
luminous track behind, on which successive ages gaze with wonder and
delight. But the sweet influence of these benign stars that now and then
enlighten the page of history, is partial and unfrequent.

Those to whom the most important parts on the stage of life are
allotted, if possessed of abilities undirected by virtue, are too often

                 “Wise to no purpose, artful to no end,”

that is really good and desirable.

They, again, where virtue is not supported by wisdom, are often, with
the best intentions, made subservient to the short-sighted craft of the
artful and designing. Hence, though we may be at times dazzled with the
blaze of heroic achievement, or contemplate with a purer satisfaction
those “awful fathers of mankind,” by whom nations were civilized,
equitable dominion established, or liberty restored; yet, after all, the
crimes and miseries of mankind form such prominent features of the
history of every country, that humanity sickens at the retrospect, and
misanthropy finds an excuse amidst the laurels of the hero, and the
deep-laid schemes of the politician:

                  “And yet this partial view of things
                   Is surely not the best.”—_Burns._

Where shall we seek the antidote to this chilling gloom left on the mind
by the bustling intricate scenes, where the best characters, goaded on
by furious factions or dire necessity, become involved in crimes that
their souls abhor?

It is the contemplation of the peaceful virtues in the genial atmosphere
of private life, that can best reconcile us to our nature, and quiet the
turbulent emotions excited by

                       “The madness of the crowd.”

But vice, folly, and vanity are so noisy, so restless, so ready to rush
into public view, and so adapted to afford food for malevolent
curiosity, that the small still voice of virtue, active in its own
sphere, but unwilling to quit it, is drowned in their tumult. This is a
remedy, however,

                      “Not obvious, not obtrusive.”

If we would counteract the baleful influence of public vice by the
contemplation of private worth, we must penetrate into its retreats, and
not be deterred from attending to its simple details by the want of that
glare and bustle with which a fictitious or artificial character is
generally surrounded.

But in this wide field of speculation one might wander out of sight of
the original subject. Let me then resume it, and return to my
objections. Of these the first and greatest is the dread of being
inaccurate. Embellished facts, a mixture of truth and fiction, or what
we sometimes meet with, a fictitious superstructure built on a
foundation of reality, would be detestable on the score of bad taste,
though no moral sense were concerned or consulted. It is walking on a
river half frozen that betrays your footing every moment. By these
repulsive artifices no person of real discernment is for a moment
imposed upon. You do not know exactly which part of the narrative is
false; but you are sure it is not all true, and therefore distrust what
is genuine, where it occurs. For this reason a fiction, happily told,
takes a greater hold of the mind than a narrative of facts, evidently
embellished and interwoven with inventions.

I do not mean to discredit my own veracity. I certainly have no
intention to relate any thing that is not true. Yet in the dim distance
of near forty years, unassisted by written memorials, shall I not
mistake dates, misplace facts, and omit circumstances that form
essential links in the chain of narration? Thirty years since, when I
expressed a wish to do what I am now about to attempt, how differently
should I have executed it. A warm heart, a vivid imagination, and a
tenacious memory, were then all filled with a theme which I could not
touch without kindling into an enthusiasm, sacred at once to virtue and
to friendship. Venerated friend of my youth, my guide and my
instructress; are then the dregs of an enfeebled mind, the worn
affections of a wounded heart, the imperfect efforts of a decaying
memory, all that remain to consecrate thy remembrance, to make known thy
worth, and to lay on thy tomb the offering of gratitude?

My friend’s life, besides being mostly passed in unruffled peace and
prosperity, affords few of those vicissitudes which astonish and amuse.
It is from her relations, to those with whom her active benevolence
connected her, that the chief interest of her story (if story it may be
called) arises. This includes that of many persons, obscure indeed but
for the light which her regard and beneficence reflected upon them. Yet
without these subordinate persons in the drama, the action of human
life, especially such a life as hers, cannot be carried on. They can
neither appear with grace, nor be omitted with propriety. Then, remote
and retired as her situation was, the variety of nations and characters,
of tongues and of complexions, with which her public spirit and private
benevolence connected her, might appear wonderful to those unacquainted
with the country and the times in which she lived; without a pretty
distinct view of which my narrative would be unintelligible. I must be
excused too for dwelling, at times, on the recollection of a state of
society so peculiar, so utterly dissimilar to any other that I have
heard or read of, that it exhibits human nature in a new aspect, and is
so far an object of rational curiosity, as well as a kind of phenomenon
in the history of colonization. I forewarn the reader not to look for
lucid order in the narration, or intimate connection between its parts.
I have no authorities to refer to, no coeval witnesses of facts to
consult. In regard to the companions of my youth, (in which several
particulars relative to my friend’s ancestry must necessarily be
included,) I sit like the “Voice of Cona,” alone on the heath; and, like
him too, must muse in silence, till at intervals the “light of my soul
arises,” before I can call attention to “a tale of other times.”


                      MEMOIRS OF AN AMERICAN LADY.


                                CHAP. I.

    Province of New-York—Origin of the Settlement at Albany—Singular
         Possession held by the Patron—Account of his Tenants.

IT is well known that the province of New-York, anciently called
Manahattos by the Indians, was originally settled by a Dutch colony,
which came from Holland, I think, in the time of Charles the Second.
Finding the country to their liking, they were followed by others more
wealthy and better informed. Some of the early emigrants also appear to
have been people respectable both from their family and character. Of
these the principal were the Cuylers, the Schuylers, the Rensselaers,
the Delanceys, the Cortlandts, the Tenbroeks, and the Beekmans, who have
all of them been since distinguished in the late civil wars, either as
persecuted loyalists or triumphant patriots. I do not precisely
recollect the motives assigned for the voluntary exile of persons who
were evidently in circumstances that might admit of their living in
comfort at home, but am apt to think that the early settlers were those
who adhered to the interest of the Stadtholder’s family, a party which,
during the minority of King William, was almost persecuted by the high
republicans. Those who came over at a later period probably belong to
the party which opposed the Stadtholder, and which was then in its turn
depressed. These persons afterwards distinguished themselves by an
aversion, almost amounting to antipathy, to the British army, and indeed
to all the British colonists. Their notions were mean and contracted;
their manners blunt and austere; and their habits sordid and
parsimonious. As the settlement began to extend they retired, and formed
new establishments, afterwards called Fishkill, Esopus, &c.

To the Schuylers, Cuylers, Delanceys, Cortlandts, and a few others, this
description did by no means apply. They carried about them the tokens of
former affluence and respectability, such as family plate, portraits of
their ancestors executed in a superior style, and great numbers of
original paintings, some of which were much admired by acknowledged
judges. Of these the subjects were generally taken from sacred history.

I do not recollect the exact time, but think it was during the last
years of Charles the Second, that a settlement we then possessed at
Surinam was exchanged for the extensive (indeed at that time boundless)
province of Manahattos, which, in compliment to the then heir apparent,
was called New-York. Of the part of that country then explored, the most
fertile and beautiful was situated far inland, on the banks of the
Hudson River. This copious and majestic stream is navigable one hundred
and seventy miles from its mouth for vessels of sixty or seventy tons
burthen. Near the head of it, as a kind of barrier against the natives,
and a central resort for traders, the foundation was laid of a town
called Oranienburgh, and afterwards by the British, Albany.

After the necessary precaution of erecting a small stockaded fort for
security, a church was built in the centre of the intended town, which
served in different respects as a kind of landmark. A gentleman of the
name of Rensselaer was considered as in a manner lord paramount of this
city. A pre-eminence which his successor still enjoys, both with regard
to the town and the lands adjacent. The original proprietor having
obtained from the high and mighty states a grant of lands, which,
beginning at the church, extended twelve miles in every direction,
forming a manor twenty-four Dutch miles in length, the same in breadth,
including lands not only of the best quality of any in the province, but
the most happily situated both for the purposes of commerce and
agriculture. This great proprietor was looked up to as much as
republicans in a new country could be supposed to look up to any one. He
was called the Patroon, a designation tantamount to lord of the manor.
Yet, in the distribution of these lands, the sturdy Belgian spirit of
independence set limits to the power and profits of this lord of the
forests, as he might then be called. None of these lands were either
sold or alienated. The more wealthy settlers, as the Schuylers, Cuylers,
&c. took very extensive leases of the fertile plains along the river,
with boundless liberty of woods and pasturage, to the westward. The
terms were, that the lease should hold while water runs and grass grows,
and the landlord to receive the tenth sheaf of every kind of grain the
ground produces. Thus ever accommodating the rent to the fertility of
the soil, and changes of the seasons, you may suppose the tenants did
not greatly fear a landlord, who could neither remove them, nor increase
their rents. Thus, without the pride of property, they had all the
independence of proprietors. They were like German princes, who, after
furnishing their contingent to the Emperor, might make war on him when
they chose. Besides the profits (yearly augmenting) which the patroon
drew from his ample possessions, he held in his own hands an extensive
and fruitful demesne. Yet preserving in a great measure the simple and
frugal habits of his ancestors, his wealth was not an object of envy,
nor a source of corruption to his fellow-citizens. To the northward of
these bounds, and at the southern extremity also, the Schuylers and
Cuylers held lands of their own. But the only other great landholders I
remember, holding their land by those original tenures, were Philips and
Cortlandt; their lands lay also on the Hudson River, half way down to
New-York, and were denominated Philips’ and Cortlandt’s manors. At the
time of the first settling of the country the Indians were numerous and
powerful all along the river; but they consisted of wandering families,
who, though they affixed some sort of local boundaries for
distinguishing the hunting grounds of each tribe, could not be said to
inhabit any place. The cool and crafty Dutch governors being unable to
cope with them in arms, purchased from them the most valuable tracts for
some petty consideration. They affected great friendship for them; and
while conscious of their own weakness, were careful not to provoke
hostilities; and silently and insensibly established themselves to the


                               CHAP. II.

     Account of the Five Nations, or Mohawk Indians—Building of the
                Fort at Albany—John and Philip Schuyler.

ON the Mohawk River, about forty miles distant from Albany, there
subsisted a confederacy of Indian tribes, of a very different character
from those mentioned in the preceding chapter; too sagacious to be
deceived, and too powerful to be eradicated. These were the once
renowned five nations, whom any one, who remembers them while they were
a people, will hesitate to call savages. Were they savages who had fixed
habitations; who cultivated rich fields; who built castles, (for so they
called their not incommodious wooden houses, surrounded with
palisadoes;) who planted maize and beans, and showed considerable
ingenuity in constructing and adorning their canoes, arms, and clothing?
They who had wise though unwritten laws, and conducted their wars,
treaties, and alliances with deep and sound policy; they whose eloquence
was bold, nervous, and animated; whose language was sonorous, musical,
and expressive; who possessed generous and elevated sentiments, heroic
fortitude, and unstained probity? Were these indeed savages? The

              “Of scent the headlong lioness between
               And hound sagacious, on the tainted green,”

is not greater than that of the Mohawks in point of civility and
capacity, from other American tribes, among whom, indeed, existed a far
greater diversity of character, language, &c. than Europeans seem to be
aware of. This little tribute to the memory of a people who have been,
while it soothes the pensive recollections of the writer, is not so
foreign to the subject as it may at first appear. So much of the peace
and safety of this infant community depended on the friendship and
alliance of these generous tribes; and to conciliate and retain their
affections so much address was necessary, that common characters were
unequal to the task. Minds liberal and upright, like those I am about to
describe, could alone excite that esteem, and preserve that confidence,
which were essential towards retaining the friendship of those valuable

From the time of the great rebellion, so many English refugees
frequented Holland, that the language and manners of our country became
familiar at the Hague, particularly among the Stadtholder’s party. When
the province of New-York fell under the British dominion, it became
necessary that every body should learn our language, as all public
business was carried on in the English tongue, which they did the more
willingly, as, after the revolution, the accession of the Stadholder to
the English crown very much reconciled them to our government. Still,
however, the English was a kind of court language; little spoken, and
imperfectly understood in the interior. Those who brought with them the
French and English languages soon acquired a sway over their less
enlightened fellow settlers. Of this number were the Schuylers and
Cuylers, two families among whom intellect of the superior kind seemed
an inheritance, and whose intelligence and liberality of mind, fortified
by well-grounded principle, carried them far beyond the petty and narrow
views of the rest. Habituated at home to centre all wisdom and all
happiness in commercial advantages, they would have been very ill
calculated to lay the foundation of an infant state in a country that
afforded plenty and content, as the reward of industry, but where the
very nature of the territory, as well as the state of society, precluded
great pecuniary acquisitions. Their object here was taming savage
nature, and making the boundless wild subservient to agricultural
purposes. Commercial pursuits were a distant prospect; and before they
became of consequence, rural habits had greatly changed the character of
these republicans. But the commercial spirit, inherent in all true
Batavians, only slept to wake again, when the avidity of gain was called
forth by the temptation of bartering for any lucrative commodity. The
furs of the Indians gave this occasion, and were too soon made the
object of the avidity of petty traders. To the infant settlement at
Albany the consequences of this short-sighted policy might have proved
fatal, had not these patriotic leaders, by their example and influence,
checked for a while such illiberal and dangerous practices. It is a fact
singular and worth attending to, from the lesson it exhibits, that in
all our distant colonies there is no other instance where a considerable
town and prosperous settlement has arisen and flourished, in peace and
safety, in the midst of nations disposed and often provoked to
hostility; at a distance from the protection of ships, and from the only
fortified city, which, always weakly garrisoned, was little fitted to
awe and protect the whole province. Let it be remembered that the
distance from New-York to Albany is 170 miles; and that in the
intermediate space, at the period of which I speak, there was not one
town or fortified place. The shadow of a palisadoed fort[1], which then
existed at Albany, was occupied by a single independent company, who did
duty, but were dispersed through the town, working at various trades: so
scarce indeed were artisans in this community, that a tradesman might in
those days ask any wages he chose.

Footnote 1:

  It may be worth noting, that Captain Massey, who commanded this
  non-effective company for many years, was the father of Mrs. Lennox,
  an estimable character, well known for her literary productions, and
  for being the friend and protégée of Dr. Johnson.

To return to this settlement, which evidently owed its security to the
wisdom of its leaders, who always acted on the simple maxim that honesty
is the best policy: several miles north from Albany a considerable
possession, called the Flats, was inhabited by Colonel Philip Schuyler,
one of the most enlightened men in the province. This being a frontier,
he would have found it a very dangerous situation had he not been a
person of singular worth, fortitude, and wisdom. Were I not afraid of
tiring my reader with a detail of occurrences which, taking place before
the birth of my friend, might seem irrelevant to the present purpose, I
could relate many instances almost incredible, of the power of mind
displayed by this gentleman in governing the uninstructed without
coercion or legal right. He possessed this species of power in no common
degree; his influence, with that of his brother John Schuyler, was
exerted to conciliate the wandering tribes of Indians; and by fair
traffic, for he too was a trader, and by fair liberal dealing they
attained their object. They also strengthened the league already formed
with the five Mohawk nations, by procuring for them some assistance
against their enemies, the Onondagoes of the Lakes.

Queen Ann had by this time succeeded to the Stadholder. The gigantic
ambition of Lewis the Fourteenth actuated the remotest parts of his
extensive dominions; and the encroaching spirit of this restless nation
began to discover itself in hostilities to the infant colony. A motive
for which could scarce be discovered, possessing, as they did, already,
much more territory then they were able to occupy, the limits of which
were undefined. But the province of New-York was a frontier; and, as
such, a kind of barrier to the southern colonies. It began also to
compete for a share of the fur trade, then very considerable, before the
beavers were driven back from their original haunts. In short, the
province daily rose in importance; and being in a great measure
protected by the Mohawk tribes, the policy of courting their alliance,
and impressing their minds with an exalted idea of the power and
grandeur of the British empire, became obvious. I cannot recollect the
name of the governor at this time; but whoever he was, he, as well as
the succeeding ones, visited the settlement at Albany, to observe its
wise regulations, and growing prosperity, and to learn maxims of sound
policy from those whose interests and happiness were daily promoted by
the practice of it.


                               CHAP. III.

      Colonel Schuyler persuades four Sachems to accompany him to
                  England—Their reception and return.

IT was thought advisable to bring over some of the heads of tribes to
England to attach them to that country; but to persuade the chiefs of a
free and happy people, who were intelligent, sagacious, and aware of all
probable dangers; who were strangers to all maritime concerns, and had
never beheld the ocean; to persuade such independent and high-minded
warriors to forsake the safety and enjoyments of their own country, to
encounter the perils of a long voyage, and trust themselves among entire
strangers, and this merely to bind closer an alliance with the sovereign
of a distant country, a female sovereign too; a mode of government that
must have appeared to them very incongruous. This was no common
undertaking, nor was it easy to induce these chiefs to accede to the
proposal. The principal motive for urging it was to counteract the
machinations of the French, whose emissaries in these wild regions had
even then begun to style us, in effect, a nation of shopkeepers; and to
impress the tribes dwelling in their boundaries with vast ideas of the
power and splendour of their grand monarchy, while our sovereign, they
say, ruled over a petty island, and was himself a trader. To counterwork
those suggestions, it was thought requisite to give the leaders of the
nation (who then in fact protected our people) an adequate idea of our
power, and the magnificence of our court. The chiefs at length consented
on this only condition, that their brother Philip, who never told a lie,
or spoke without thinking, should accompany them. However this
gentleman’s wisdom and integrity might qualify him for this employment,
it did not suit his placid temper, simple manners, and habits of life,
at once pastoral and patriarchal, to travel over seas, and mingle in the
bustle of a world, the customs of which were become foreign to those
primitive inhabitants of new and remote regions, was to him no pleasant
undertaking. The adventure, however, succeeded beyond his expectation;
the chiefs were pleased with the attentions paid them, and with the mild
and gracious manners of their queen, who at different times admitted
them to her presence. With the good Philip she had many conversations,
and made him some valuable presents, among which, I think, was her
picture; but this with many others was lost, in a manner which will
appear hereafter. Colonel Schuyler too was much delighted with the
courteous affability of this princess; she offered to knight him, which
he respectfully, but positively refused; and being pressed to assign his
reasons, he said he had brothers and near relations in humble
circumstances, who, already his inferiors in property, would seem as it
were depressed by his elevation; and though it should have no such
effect on her mind, it might be the means of awakening pride or vanity
in the female part of his family. He returned, however, in triumph,
having completely succeeded in his mission. The kings, as they were
called in England, came back in full health, deeply impressed with
esteem and attachment for a country which to them appeared the centre of
arts, intelligence, and wisdom; where they were treated with kindness
and respect; and neither made the objects of perpetual exhibition, nor
hurried about to be continually distracted with a succession of
splendid, and to them incomprehensible sights, the quick shifting of
which rather tends to harass minds which have enough of native strength
to reflect on what they see, without knowledge sufficient to comprehend
it. It is to this childish and injudicious mode of treating those
uncivilized beings, this mode of rather extorting from them a tribute to
our vanity, than taking the necessary pains to inform and improve them,
that the ill success of all such experiments since have been owing.
Instead of endeavouring to conciliate them by genuine kindness, and by
gradually and gently unfolding to them simple and useful truths, our
manner of treating them seems calculated to dazzle, oppress, and degrade
them with a display of our superior luxuries and refinements; which, by
the elevated and self-denying Mohawk, would be regarded as unmanly and
frivolous objects, and which the voluptuous and low-minded Otaheitean
would so far relish, that the privation would seem intolerable, when he
returned to his hogs and his cocoas. Except such as have been previously
inoculated, (a precaution which voyagers have rarely had the prudence or
humanity to take,) there is scarcely an instance of savages brought to
Europe that have not died of the small-pox; induced either by the
infection to which they are exposed from the indiscriminate crowds drawn
about them, or the alteration in their blood, which unusual diet,
liquors, close air, and heated rooms, must necessarily produce.

The presents made to these adventurous warriors were judiciously adapted
to their taste and customs. They consisted of showy habits, of which all
these people are very fond, and arms made purposely in the form of those
used in their own country. It was the fortune of the writer of these
memoirs, more than thirty years after, to see that great warrior and
faithful ally of the British crown the redoubted King Hendrick, then
sovereign of the Five Nations, splendidly arrayed in a suit of light
blue, made in an antique mode, and trimmed with broad silver lace; which
was probably an heirloom in the family, presented to his father by his
good ally and sister, the female king of England.

I cannot exactly say how long Mr. Schuyler and his companions staid in
England, but think they were nearly a year absent. In those primeval
days of the settlement, when our present rapid modes of transmitting
intelligence were unknown, in a country so detached and inland as that
at Albany, the return of these interesting travellers was like the first
lighting of lamps in a city.


                               CHAP. IV.

  Return of Colonel Schuyler and the Sachems to the interior—Literary
  Acquisitions—Distinguishes and instructs his favourite Niece—Manners
                            of the Settlers.

THIS sagacious and intelligent patriot thus brought to the foot of the
British throne the high-spirited rulers of the boundless wild, who,
alike heedless of the power and splendour of distant monarchs, were
accustomed to say with Fingal, “sufficient for me is the desert, with
all deer and woods.” It may easily be supposed that such a mind as
Philip’s was equally fitted to acquire and communicate intelligence. He
who had conversed with Addison, Marlborough, and Godolphin, who had
gratified the curiosity of Oxford and Bolingbroke, of Arbuthnot and of
Gay, with accounts of nature in her pristine garb, and of her children
in their primitive simplicity; he who could do all this, no doubt
received ample returns of various information from those best qualified
to give it, and was besides a diligent observer. Here he improved a
taste for literature, native to him, for it had not yet taken root in
this uncultivated soil. He brought home the Spectator and the tragedy of
Cato, Windsor Forest, Young’s poem on the Last Day, and in short all the
works then published of that constellation of wits which distinguished
the last female reign. Nay more, and better, he brought Paradise Lost;
which in after-times afforded such delight to some branches of his
family, that to them

             “Paradise (indeed) seemed opened in the wild.”

But to return to our Sachems, from whom we have too long digressed; when
they arrived at Albany, they did not, as might be expected, hasten home
to communicate their discoveries, or display their acquisitions. They
summoned a congress there, not only of the elders of their own nation,
but the chiefs of all those with whom they were in alliance. This solemn
meeting was held in the Dutch church. In the present depressed and
diminished state of these once powerful tribes, so few traces of their
wonted energy remain, that it could scarce be credited, were I able to
relate with what bold and flowing eloquence they clothed their
conceptions; powerful reasoning, emphatic language, and graceful action,
added force to their arguments; while they persuaded their adherents to
renounce all connexion with the tribes under the French influence; and
form a lasting league, offensive and defensive, with that great queen,
whose mild majesty had so deeply impressed them; and the mighty people
whose kindness had gratified, and whose power had astonished them, whose
populous cities swarmed with arts and commerce, and in whose floating
castles they had rode safely over the ocean. I have seen a volume of the
speeches of these Mohawks preserved by Colonel Schuyler; they were
literally translated, so that the native idiom was preserved; which,
instead of appearing uncouth, seemed to add to their strength and

When Mr. Schuyler returned from England, about the year 1709, his niece
Catalina, the subject of this narrative, was about seven years old; he
had a daughter and sons, yet this child was early distinguished above
the rest for docility, a great desire of knowledge, and an even and
pleasing temper; this her uncle early observed. It was at that time very
difficult to procure the means of instruction in those inland districts;
female education of consequence was conducted on a very limited scale;
girls learnt needle-work (in which they were indeed both skilful and
ingenious) from their mothers and aunts; they were taught too at that
period to read, in Dutch, the Bible and a few Calvinistic tracts of the
devotional kind. But in the infancy of the settlement few girls read
English; when they did, they were thought accomplished; they generally
spoke it, however imperfectly, and few were taught writing. This
confined education precluded elegance; yet, though there was no polish,
there was no vulgarity. The dregs of the people, who subside to the
bottom of the mass, are not only degraded by abject poverty, but so
utterly shut out from intercourse with the more enlightened, and so
rankling with envy at feeling themselves so, that a sense of their
condition gradually debases their minds; and this degradation
communicates to their manners, the vulgarity of which we complain. This
more particularly applies to the lower class in towns; for mere
simplicity, or even a rustic bluntness, I would by no means call
vulgarity. At the same time these unembellished females had more
comprehension of mind, more variety of ideas, more in short of what may
be called original thinking, than could easily be imagined. Their
thoughts were not like those of other illiterate women, occupied by the
ordinary details of the day, and the gossiping tattle of the
neighbourhood. The life of new settlers, in a situation like this, where
the very foundations of society were to be laid, was a life of
exigencies. Every individual took an interest in the general welfare,
and contributed their respective shares of intelligence and sagacity to
aid plans that embraced important objects relative to the common good.
Every day called forth some new expedient, in which the _comfort_ or
_advantage_ of the whole was implicated; for there were no degrees but
those assigned to worth and intellect. This singular community seemed to
have a common stock, not only of sufferings and enjoyments, but of
information and ideas; some pre-eminence, in point of knowledge and
abilities, there certainly was, yet those who possessed it seemed
scarcely conscious of their superiority; the daily occasions which
called forth the exertions of mind, sharpened sagacity and strengthened
character; avarice and vanity were there confined to very narrow limits;
of money there was little; and dress was, though in some instances
valuable, very plain, and not subject to the caprice of fashion. The
wolves, the bears, and the enraged or intoxicated savages, that always
hung threatening on their boundaries, made them more and more endeared
to each other. In this calm infancy of society, the rigour of the law
slept, because the fury of turbulent passions had not awakened it.
Fashion, that capricious tyrant over adult communities, had not erected
her standard; that standard, to which the looks, the language, the very
opinions of her subjects must be adjusted. Yet no person appeared
uncouth, or ill bred, because there was no accomplished standard of
comparison. They viewed no superior with fear or envy; and treated no
inferior with contempt or cruelty; servility and insolence were thus
equally unknown; perhaps they were less solicitous either to please or
to shine than the members of more polished societies; because, in the
first place, they had no motive either to dazzle or deceive; and in the
next, had they attempted it, they felt there was no assuming a character
with success, where their native one was so well known. Their manners,
if not elegant and polished, were at least easy and independent; the
constant efforts necessary to extend their commercial and agricultural
possessions, prevented indolence; and industry was the certain path to
plenty. Surrounded on all sides by those whom the least instance of
fraud, insolence, or grasping meanness, would have rendered
irreconcilable enemies, they were at first obliged to “assume a virtue
if they had it not;” and every circumstance that renders virtue
habitual, may be accounted a happy one. I may be told that the virtues I
describe were chiefly those of situation. I acknowledge it. It is no
more to be expected that this equality, simplicity, and moderation,
should continue in a more advanced state of society, than that the
sublime tranquillity and dewy freshness which add a nameless charm to
the face of nature, in the dawn of a summer morning, should continue all
day. Before increased wealth and extended territory, these “wassel days”
quickly receded; yet it is pleasing to indulge the remembrance of a
spot, where peace and felicity, the result of moral excellence, dwelt
undisturbed, alas! hardly for a century.


                                CHAP. V.

 State of Religion among the Settlers—Instruction of Children devolved on
  Females—to whom the Charge of Gardening, &c. was also committed—Sketch
                 of the State of the Society at New-York.

I MUST finish this general outline, by saying something of that religion
which gave stability and effect to the virtues of this infant society.
Their religion, then, like their original national character, had in it
little of fervour or enthusiasm; their manner of performing religious
duties was regular and decent, but calm, and to more ardent imaginations
might appear mechanical. None ever doubted of the great truths of
revelation, yet few seemed to dwell on the result with that lively
delight which devotion produces in minds of keener sensibility. If their
piety, however, was without enthusiasm, it was also without bigotry;
they wished others to think as they did, without showing rancour or
contempt towards those who did not. In many individuals, whose lives
seemed governed by the principles of religion, the spirit of devotion
seemed to be quiescent in the heart, and to break forth in exigencies;
yet that monster in nature, an impious woman, was never heard of among

Indeed it was on the females that the task of religious instruction
generally devolved; and in all cases where the heart is interested, who
ever teaches, at the same time learns.

Before I quit this subject, I must observe a singular coincidence; not
only the training of children, but of plants, such as needed peculiar
care or skill to rear them, was the female province. Every one in town
or country had a garden; but all the more hardy plants grew in the
field, in rows, amidst the hills, as they were called, of Indian corn.
These lofty plants sheltered them from the sun, while the same hoeing
served for both; their cabbages, potatoes, and other esculent roots,
with variety of gourds, grew to a great size, and were of an excellent
quality. Kidney-beans, asparagus, celery, great variety of salads and
sweet herbs, cucumbers, &c., were only admitted into the garden, into
which no foot of man intruded, after it was dug in spring. Here were no
trees, those grew in the orchard in high perfection. Strawberries and
many high flavoured wild fruits of the shrub kind abounded so much in
the woods, that they did not think of cultivating them in their gardens,
which were extremely neat, but small, and not by any means calculated
for walking in. I think I yet see what I have so often beheld both in
town and country, a respectable mistress of a family going out to her
garden, in an April morning, with her great calash, her little painted
basket of seeds, and her rake over her shoulder, to her garden labours.
These were by no means figurative,

             “From morn till noon, from noon till dewy eve.”

A woman, in very easy circumstances, and abundantly gentle in form and
manners, would sow, and plant, and rake, incessantly. These fair
gardeners too were great florists; their emulation and solicitude in
this pleasing employment, did indeed produce “flowers worthy of
Paradise.” These, though not set in “curious knots,” were arranged in
beds, the varieties of each kind by themselves; this, if not varied and
elegant, was at least rich and gay. To the Schuylers this description
did not apply; they had gardeners, and their gardens were laid out in
the European manner.

Perhaps I should reserve my description of the manner of living in that
country for that period, when by the exertions of a few humane and
enlightened individuals it assumed a more regular and determinate form.
Yet as the same outline was preserved through all the stages of its
progression, I know not but that it may be best to sketch it entirely,
before I go further; that the few and simple facts which my narrative
affords may not be clogged by explanations relative to the customs, or
any other peculiarities which can only be understood by a previous
acquaintance with the nature of the country, its political relations,
and the manners of the people; my recollection all this while has been
merely confined to Albany, and its precincts. At New-York there was
always a governor, a few troops, and a kind of little court kept; there
too was a mixed, and in some degree, polished society. To this the
accession of many families of French Huguenots, rather above the
middling rank, contributed not a little; those conscientious exiles had
more knowledge and piety than any other class of the inhabitants; their
religion seemed indeed endeared to them, by what they had suffered for
adhering to it. Their number and wealth was such, as enabled them to
build not only a street, but a very respectable church in the new city.
In this place of worship service continued to be celebrated in the
French language within my recollection, though the original congregation
was by that time much blended in the mass of general society. It was the
custom of the inhabitants of the upper settlement, who had any
pretensions to superior culture or polish, among which number Mr.
Schuyler stood foremost, to go once in a year to New-York, where all the
law-courts were held, and all the important business of the province
transacted; here too they sent their children occasionally to reside
with their relations, and to learn the more polished manners and
language of the capital. The inhabitants of that city, on the other
hand, delighted in a summer excursion to Albany. The beautiful, and in
some places highly singular banks of the river, rendering a voyage to
its source both amusing and interesting, while the primitive manners of
the inhabitants diverted the gay and idle, and pleased the thoughtful
and speculative.

Let me now be indulged in drawing a picture of the abode of my childhood
just as, at this time, it presents itself to my mind.


                               CHAP. VI.

      Description of Albany—Manner of living there—Hermitage, &c.

THE city of Albany was stretched along the banks of the Hudson; one very
wide and long street lay parallel to the river, the intermediate space
between it and the shore being occupied by gardens. A small, but steep
hill rose above the centre of the town, on which stood a fort, intended
(but very ill adapted) for the defence of the place, and of the
neighbouring country. From the foot of this hill, another street was
built, sloping pretty rapidly down till it joined the one before
mentioned that ran along the river. This street was still wider than the
other; it was only paved on each side, the middle being occupied by
public edifices. These consisted of a market-place, or guard-house, a
town hall, and the English and Dutch churches. The English church,
belonging to the Episcopal persuasion, and in the diocese of the bishop
of London, stood at the foot of the hill, at the upper end of the
street. The Dutch church was situated at the bottom of the descent where
the street terminated; two irregular streets, not so broad, but equally
long, ran parallel to those, and a few even ones open between them. The
town, in proportion to its population, occupied a great space of ground.
This city, in short, was a kind of semi-rural establishment; every house
had its garden, well, and a little green behind; before every door a
tree was planted, rendered interesting by being coeval with some beloved
member of the family; many of their trees were of a prodigious size and
extraordinary beauty, but without regularity, every one planting the
kind that best pleased him, or which he thought would afford the most
agreeable shade to the open portico at his door, which was surrounded by
seats, and ascended by a few steps. It was in these that each domestic
group was seated in summer evenings to enjoy the balmy twilight, or
serenely clear moonlight. Each family had a cow, fed in a common pasture
at the end of the town. In the evening they returned all together, of
their own accord, with their tinkling bells hung at their necks, along
the wide and grassy street, to their wonted sheltering trees, to be
milked at their master’s doors. Nothing could be more pleasing to a
simple and benevolent mind than to see thus, at one view, all the
inhabitants of a town, which contained not one very rich or very poor,
very knowing or very ignorant, very rude or very polished individual; to
see all these children of nature enjoying in easy indolence, or social

             “The cool, the fragrant, and the _dusky_ hour,”

clothed in the plainest habits, and with minds as undisguised and
artless. These primitive beings were dispersed in porches grouped
according to similarity of years and inclinations. At one door young
matrons, at another the elders of the people, at a third the youths and
maidens, gaily chatting or singing together, while the children played
round the trees, or waited near the cows, for the chief ingredient of
their frugal supper, which they generally ate sitting on the steps in
the open air. This picture, so familiar to my imagination, has led me
away from my purpose, which was to describe the rural economy, and modes
of living in this patriarchal city. At one end of the town, as I
observed before, was a common pasture where all the cattle belonging to
the inhabitants grazed together. A never-failing instinct guided each
home to her master’s door in the evening, where, being treated with a
few vegetables and a little salt, which is indispensably necessary for
cattle in this country, they patiently waited the night; and after being
milked in the morning, they went off in slow and regular procession to
their pasture. At the other end of the town was a fertile plain along
the river, three miles in length, and near a mile broad. This was all
divided into lots, where every inhabitant raised Indian corn sufficient
for the food of two or three slaves, (the greatest number that each
family ever possessed,) and for his horses, pigs, and poultry: their
flour and other grain they purchased from farmers in the vicinity. Above
the town, a long stretch to the westward was occupied first by sandy
hills, on which grew bilberries of uncommon size and flavour in
prodigious quantities; beyond, rise heights of a poor hungry soil,
thinly covered with stunted pines, or dwarf oak. Yet in this
comparatively barren tract, there were several wild and picturesque
spots, where small brooks, running in deep and rich bottoms, nourished
on their banks every vegetable beauty; there, some of the most
industrious early settlers had cleared the luxuriant wood from these
charming little glens, and built neat cottages for their slaves,
surrounded with little gardens and orchards, sheltered from every blast,
wildly picturesque, and richly productive. Those small sequestered vales
had an attraction that I know not how to describe, and which probably
resulted from the air of deep repose that reigned there, and the strong
contrast which they exhibited to the surrounding sterility. One of these
was in my time inhabited by a hermit. He was a Frenchman, and did not
seem to inspire much veneration among the Albanians. They imagined, or
had heard, that he retired to that solitude in remorse for some fatal
duel in which he had been engaged: and considered him as an idolator
because he had an image of the Virgin in this hut. I think he retired to
Canada at last; but I remember being ready to worship him for the
sanctity with which my imagination invested him, and being cruelly
disappointed because I was not permitted to visit him. These cottages
were in summer occupied by some of the negroes who cultivated the
grounds about them, and served as a place of joyful liberty to the
children of the family on holidays, and a nursery for the young negroes,
whom it was the custom to rear very tenderly, and instruct very


                               CHAP. VII.

       Gentle treatment of slaves among the Albanians—Consequent
           attachment of domestics—Reflections on servitude.

In the society I am describing, even the dark aspect of slavery was
softened into a smile. And I must, in justice to the best possible
masters, say, that a great deal of that tranquillity and comfort, to
call them by no higher names, which distinguish this society from all
others, was owing to the relation between master and servant being
better understood here than in any other place. Let me not be detested
as an advocate for slavery, when I say that I think I have never seen
people so happy in servitude as the domestics of the Albanians. One
reason was, (for I do not now speak of the virtues of their masters,)
that each family had few of them, and that there were no field negroes.
They would remind one of Abraham’s servants, who were all born in the
house, which was exactly their case. They were baptised too, and shared
the same religious instruction with the children of the family; and, for
the first years, there was little or no difference with regard to food
or clothing between their children and those of their masters.

When a negro-woman’s child attained the age of three years, the first
New-Year’s day after, it was solemnly presented to a son or daughter, or
other young relative of the family, who was of the same sex with the
child so presented. The child to whom the young negro was given,
immediately presented it with some piece of money and a pair of shoes;
and from that day the strongest attachment subsisted between the
domestic and the destined owner. I have no where met with instances of
friendship more tender and generous, than that which here subsisted
between the slaves and their masters and mistresses. Extraordinary
proofs of them have been often given in the course of hunting or Indian
trading, when a young man and his slave have gone to the trackless woods
together, in the cases of fits of the ague, loss of a canoe, and other
casualties happening near hostile Indians. The slave has been known, at
the imminent risk of his life, to carry his disabled master through
trackless woods with labour and fidelity scarce credible; and the master
has been equally tender on similar occasions of the humble friend who
stuck closer than a brother; who was baptised with the same baptism,
nurtured under the same roof, and often rocked in the same cradle with
himself. These gifts of domestics to the younger members of the family
were not irrevocable; yet they were very rarely withdrawn. If the
kitchen family did not increase in proportion to that of the master,
young children were purchased from some family where they abounded, to
furnish those attached servants to the rising progeny. They were never
sold without consulting their mother, who, if expert and sagacious, had
a great deal to say in the family, and would not allow her child to go
into any family with whose domestics she was not acquainted. These
negro-women piqued themselves on teaching their children to be excellent
servants, well knowing servitude to be their lot for life, and that it
could only be sweetened by making themselves particularly useful, and
excelling in their department. If they did their work well, it is
astonishing, when I recollect it, what liberty of speech was allowed to
those active and prudent mothers. They would chide, reprove, and
expostulate in a manner that we would not endure from our hired
servants; and sometimes exert fully as much authority over the children
of the family as the parents, conscious that they were entirely in their
power. They did not crush freedom of speech and opinion in those by whom
they knew they were beloved, and who watched with incessant care over
their interest and comfort. Affectionate and faithful as these home-bred
servants were in general, there were some instances (but very few) of
those who, through levity of mind, or a love of liquor or finery,
betrayed their trust, or habitually neglected their duty. In these
cases, after every means had been used to reform them, no severe
punishments were inflicted at home. But the terrible sentence, which
they dreaded worse than death, was passed—they were sold to Jamaica. The
necessity of doing this was bewailed by the whole family as a most
dreadful calamity, and the culprit was carefully watched on his way to
New-York, lest he should evade the sentence by self-destruction.

One must have lived among those placid and humane people to be sensible
that servitude—hopeless, endless servitude—could exist with so little
servility and fear on the one side, and so little harshness or even
sternness of authority in the other. In Europe, the footing on which
service is placed in consequence of the corruptions of society, hardens
the heart, destroys confidence, and embitters life. The deceit and
venality of servants not absolutely dishonest, puts it out of one’s
power to love or trust them. And if in hopes of having people attached
to us, who will neither betray our confidence, nor corrupt our children,
we are at pains to rear them from childhood, and give them a religious
and moral education; after all our labour, others of their own class
seduce them away to those who can afford to pay higher for their
services. This is not the case in a few remote districts, where
surrounding mountains seeming to exclude the contagion of the world,
some traces of fidelity and affection among domestics still remain. But
it must be remarked that, in those very districts, it is usual to treat
inferiors with courtesy and kindness, and to consider those domestics
who marry out of the family as holding a kind of relation to it, and
still claiming protection. In short, the corruption of that class of
people is, doubtless, to be attributed to the example of their
superiors. But how severely are those superiors punished? Why this
general indifference about home; why are the household gods, why is the
sacred hearth so wantonly abandoned? Alas! the charm of home is
destroyed, since our children, educated in distant seminaries, are
strangers in the paternal mansion; and our servants, like mere machines,
move on their mercenary track, without feeling or exciting one kind or
generous sentiment. Home, thus despoiled of all its charms, is no longer
the scene of any enjoyments but such as wealth can purchase. At the same
time we feel there, a nameless, cold privation, and conscious that money
can coin the same enjoyments with more variety elsewhere. We substitute
these futile and evanescent pleasures for that perennial spring of calm
satisfaction, “without o’erflowing full,” which is fed by the exercise
of the kindly affections, and soon indeed must those stagnate where
there are not proper objects to excite them. I have been forced into
this painful digression by unavoidable comparisons. To return:—

Amidst all this mild and really tender indulgence to their negroes,
these colonists had not the smallest scruple of conscience with regard
to the right by which they held them in subjection. Had that been the
case, their singular humanity would have been incompatible with
continued injustice. But the truth is, that of law, the generality of
those people knew little; and of philosophy, nothing at all. They sought
their code of morality in the Bible, and there, imagined they found this
hapless race condemned to perpetual slavery; and thought nothing
remained for them but to lighten the chains of their fellow Christians,
after having made them such. This I neither “extenuate,” nor “set down
in malice,” but merely record the fact. At the same time, it is but
justice to record also a singular instance of moral delicacy,
distinguishing this settlement from every other in the like
circumstances, though, from their simple and kindly modes of life, they
were from infancy in habits of familiarity with these humble friends,
yet being early taught that nature had placed between them a barrier,
which was in a high degree criminal and disgraceful to pass, they
considered a mixture of such distinct races with abhorrence, as a
violation of her laws. This greatly conduced to the preservation of
family happiness and concord. An ambiguous race, which the law does not
acknowledge; and who (if they have any moral sense, must be as much
ashamed of their parents as these last are of them) are certainly a
dangerous, because degraded part of the community. How much more so must
be those unfortunate beings who stand in the predicament of the bat in
the fable, whom both birds and beasts disowned? I am sorry to say that
the progress of the British army, when it arrived, might be traced by a
spurious and ambiguous race of this kind. But of a mulatto born before
their arrival I only remember a single instance; and from the regret and
wonder it occasioned, considered it as singular. Colonel Schuyler, of
whom I am to speak, had a relation so weak and defective in capacity,
that he never was entrusted with any thing of his own, and lived an idle
bachelor about the family. In process of time a favourite negro-woman,
to the great offence and scandal of the family, bore a child to him,
whose colour gave testimony to the relation. The boy was carefully
educated; and when he grew up, a farm was allotted to him well stocked
and fertile, but “in depth of woods embraced,” about two miles back from
the family seat. A destitute white woman, who had somehow wandered from
the older colonies, was induced to marry him; and all the branches of
the family thought it incumbent on them now and then to pay a quiet
visit to Chalk (for so, for some unknown reason, they always called
him). I have been in Chalk’s house myself, and a most comfortable abode
it was; but considered him as a mysterious and anomalous being.

I have dwelt the longer on this singular instance of slavery, existing
devoid of its attendant horrors, because the fidelity and affection
resulting from a bond of union so early formed between master and
servant contributed so very much to the safety of individuals, as well
as the general comfort of society, as will hereafter appear.


                              CHAP. VIII.

         Education and early habits of the Albanians described.

The foundations both of friendship and still tender attachments, were
here laid very early, by an institution which I always thought had been
peculiar to Albany, till I found in Dr. Moore’s View of Society on the
Continent an account of a similar custom subsisting in Geneva. The
children of the town were all divided into companies, as they called
them, from five or six years of age, till they became marriageable. How
those companies first originated, or what were their exact regulations,
I cannot say; though I, belonging to none, occasionally mixed with
several, yet always as a stranger, though I spoke their current language
fluently. Every company contained as many boys as girls. But I do not
know that there was any limited number; only this I recollect, that a
boy and a girl of each company, who were older, cleverer, or had some
other pre-eminence above the rest, were called heads of the company,
and, as such, obeyed by the others. Whether they were voted in, or
attained their pre-eminence by a tacit acknowledgment of their
superiority, I knew not; but however it was attained it was never
disputed. The companies of little children had also their heads. All the
children of the same age were not in one company; there were at least
three or four of equal ages, who had a strong rivalry with each other;
and children of different ages, in the same family, belonged to
different companies. Wherever there is human nature there will be a
degree of emulation, strife, and a desire to lessen others, that we may
exalt ourselves. Dispassionate as my friends comparatively were, and
bred up in the highest attainable candour and innocence, they regarded
the company most in competition with their own with a degree of jealous
animosity. Each company, at a certain time of the year, went in a body
to the hills, to gather a particular kind of berries. It was a sort of
annual festival, attended with religious punctuality. Every company had
an uniform for this purpose; that is to say, very pretty light baskets
made by the Indians, with lids and handles, which hung over the arm, and
were adorned with various colours. One company would never allow the
least degree of taste to the other in this instance; and was sure to
vent its whole stock of spleen in decrying the rival baskets. Nor would
they ever admit that the rival company gathered near so much fruit on
these excursions as they did. The parents of these children seemed very
much to encourage this manner of marshalling and dividing themselves.
Every child was permitted to entertain the whole company on its
birth-day, and once besides, during winter and spring. The master and
mistress of the family always were bound to go from home on these
occasions, while some old domestic was left to attend and watch over
them, with an ample provision of tea, chocolate, preserved and dried
fruits, nuts, and cakes of various kinds, to which was added cider or a
syllabub, for these young friends met at four, and did not part till
nine or ten, and amused themselves with the utmost gaiety and freedom in
any way their fancy dictated. I speak from hearsay; for no to these
meetings: other children or young people visit occasionally, and are
civilly treated, but they admit of no person that does not belong to the
company is ever admitted intimacies beyond their company. The
consequence of these exclusive and early intimacies was, that, grown up,
it was reckoned a sort of apostasy to marry out of one’s company, and
indeed, it did not often happen. The girls, from the example of their
mothers, rather than any compulsion, became very early notable and
industrious, being constantly employed in knitting stockings, and making
clothes for the family and slaves: they even made all the boys’ clothes.
This was the more necessary, as all articles of clothing were extremely
dear. Though all the necessaries of life, and some luxuries, abounded,
money, as yet, was a scarce commodity. This industry was the more to be
admired, as children were here indulged to a degree that, in our
vitiated state of society, would have rendered them good for nothing.
But there, where ambition, vanity, and the more turbulent passions were
scarce awakened; where pride, founded on birth, or any external
pre-eminence, was hardly known; and where the affections flourished fair
and vigorous, unchecked by the thorns and thistles with which our minds
are cursed in a more advanced state of refinement; affection restrained
parents from keeping their children at a distance, and inflicting harsh
punishments. But then they did not treat them like apes or parrots, by
teaching them to talk with borrowed words and ideas, and afterwards
gratifying their own vanity by exhibiting these premature wonders to
company, or repeating their sayings. They were tenderly cherished, and
early taught that they owed all their enjoyments to the divine source of
beneficence, to whom they were finally accountable for their actions;
for the rest they were very much left to nature, and permitted to range
about at full liberty in their earliest years, covered in summer with
some slight and cheap garb, which merely kept the sun from them, and in
winter with some warm habit, in which convenience only was consulted.
Their dress of ceremony was never put on but when their company were
assembled. They were extremely fond of their children; but, luckily for
the latter, never dreamed of being vain of their immature wit and parts,
which accounts, in some measure, for the great scarcity of coxcombs
among them. The children returned the fondness of their parents with
such tender affection, that they feared giving them pain as much as ours
do punishment, and very rarely wounded their feelings by neglect or rude
answers. Yet the boys were often wilful and giddy at a certain age, the
girls being sooner tamed and domesticated.

These youths were apt, whenever they could carry a gun, (which they did
at a very early period,) to follow some favourite negro to the woods,
and, while he was employed in felling trees, range the whole day in
search of game, to the neglect of all intellectual improvement, and
contract a love of savage liberty, which might, and in some instances
did, degenerate into licentious and idle habits. Indeed, there were
three stated periods in the year, when, for a few days, young and old,
masters and slaves, were abandoned to unruly enjoyment, and neglected
every serious occupation for pursuits of this nature.

We, who occupy countries fully inhabited, can form no idea of the
multitude of birds and animals that nature provides to consume her waste
fertility, in those regions unexplored by man. In the interior of the
province, the winter is much colder than might be supposed, from the
latitude in which it lies, which is only 42 deg. 36 min. and from the
keen north winds which blow constantly for four or five months over vast
frozen lakes and snowy tracts, in the direction of Canada. The snow too
lies very deep; but when once they are visited by the south wind in
March, its literally warm approach dissolves the snow like magic, and
one never sees another wintry day till the season of cold returns. These
southern winds seem to flow in a rapid current, uninterrupted by
mountains or other obstacles, from the burning sands of the Floridas,
Georgia, and the Carolinas, and bring with them a degree of warmth, that
appears no more the natural result of the situation, than the intense
cold of winter does in that season.

Along the sea banks, in all these southern provinces, are low, sandy
lands, that never were or will be inhabited, covered with the
berry-bearing myrtle, from which wax is extracted fit for candles.
Behind these banks are woods and unwholesome swamps of great extent. The
myrtle groves, formerly mentioned, afford shelter and food to countless
multitudes of pigeons in winter, when their fruit is in season; while
wild geese and ducks, in numbers nearly as great, pass the winter in the
impenetrable swamps behind. Some time in the month of April, a general
emigration takes place to the northward, first of the geese and ducks,
and then of the pigeons; they keep the direction of the sea-coast till
they come to the mouths of the great rivers, and then follow their
course till they reach the great lakes in the interior, where nature has
provided for them with the same liberality as in their winter haunts. On
the banks of these lakes, there are large tracts of ground, covered with
a plant taller and more luxuriant than the wild carrot, but something
resembling it, on the seeds of which the pigeons feed all the summer,
while they are breeding and rearing their young. When they pass in
spring, which they always do in the same track, they go in great
numbers, and are very fat. Their progression northward and southward,
begins always about the vernal and autumnal equinoxes-and it is this
that renders the carnage so great when they pass over inhabited
districts. They begin to fly in the dawn, and are never seen after nine
or ten o’clock in the morning, possibly feeding and resting in the woods
all the rest of the day. If the morning be dry and windy, all the
fowlers, (that is every body,) are disappointed, for then they fly so
high that no shot can reach them; but in a cloudy morning, the carnage
is incredible; and it is singular that their removal falls out at the
times of the year that the weather, (even in this serene climate,) is
generally cloudy. This migration, as it passed by, occasioned, as I said
before, a total relaxation from all employments, and a kind of drunken
gaiety, though it was rather slaughter than sport; and, for above a
fortnight, pigeons in pies and soups, and every way they could be
dressed, were the food of the inhabitants. These were immediately
succeeded by wild geese and ducks, which concluded the carnival for that
season, to be renewed in September. About six weeks after the passage of
these birds, sturgeon of a large size, and in great quantities, made
their appearance in the river. Now the same ardour seemed to pervade all
ages in pursuit of this new object. Every family had a canoe—and on this
occasion all were launched; and these persevering fishers traced the
course of the sturgeon up the river, followed them by torchlight, and
often continued two nights upon the water, never returning till they had
loaded their canoes with this valuable fish, and many other, very
excellent in their kinds, that come up the river at the same time. The
sturgeon not only furnished them with good part of their food in the
summer months, but was pickled or dried for future use or exportation.


                               CHAP. IX.

 Description of the manner in which the Indian Traders set out on their
                            first adventure.

TO return to the boys, as all young men were called here till they
married. Thus early trained to a love of sylvan sports, their characters
were unfolded by contingencies. In this infant society, penal laws lay
dormant, and every species of coercion was unknown.

Morals, founded on Christianity, were fostered by the sweet influence of
the charities of life. The reverence which children in particular, had
for their parents, and the young in general for the old, was the chief
bond that held society together. This veneration, being founded on
esteem, certainly could only have existed thus powerfully in an
uncorrupted community. It had, however, an auxiliary no less powerful.

Here, indeed, it might with truth be said,

           “Love breath’d his infant sighs from anguish free.”

In consequence of the singular mode of associating together little
exclusive parties of children of both sexes, which has been already
mentioned, endearing intimacies, formed in the age of playful innocence,
were the precursors of more tender attachments.

These were not wrought up to romantic enthusiasm, or extravagant
passion, by an inflamed imagination, or by the fears of rivalry, or the
artifices of coquetry, yet they had power sufficient to soften the
manners and elevate the character of the lover.

I know not if this be the proper place to observe how much of the
general order of society, and the happiness of a people, depend on
marriage being early and universal among them; but of this more
hereafter. The desire, (undiverted by any other passion,) of obtaining
the object of their affection, was to them a stimulus to early and
severe exertion. The enamoured youth did not listlessly fold his arms,
and sigh over his hopeless or unfortunate passion. Of love not fed by
hope, they had not an idea. Their attachments originated at too early an
age, and in a circle too familiar, to give room for those first-sight
impressions of which we hear such wonders. If the temper of the youth
was rash and impetuous, and his fair one gentle and complying, they
frequently formed a rash and precipitate union, without consulting their
relations, when, perhaps, the elder of the two was not above seventeen.
This was very quietly borne by the parties aggrieved. The relations of
both parties met, and with great calmness consulted on what was to be
done. The father of the youth or the damsel, whichever it was who had
most wealth or fewest children, brought home the young couple; and the
new married man immediately set about a trading adventure, which was
renewed every season, till he had the means of providing a home of his
own. Meantime the increase of the younger family did not seem an
inconvenience, but rather a source of delight to the old people; and an
arrangement begun from necessity, was often continued through choice for
many years after. Their tempers, unruffled by the endless jealousies and
competitions incident to our mode of life, were singularly placid, and
that love of offspring, where children were truly an unmixed blessing,
was a common sentiment which united all the branches of the family, and
predominated over every other. The jarring and distrust—the petulance
and egotism, which, distinct from all weightier considerations, would
not fail to poison concord, were different families to dwell under one
roof here, were there scarcely known. It is but justice to our acquired
delicacy of sentiment to say, that the absence of refinement contributed
to this tranquillity. These primitive people, if they did not gather the
flowers of cultivated elegance, were not wounded by the thorns of
irritable delicacy. They had neither artificial wants nor artificial
miseries. In short, they were neither too wise to be happy, nor too
witty to be at rest.

Thus it was in the case of unauthorized marriages. In the more ordinary
course of things, love, which makes labour light, tamed these young
hunters, and transformed them into diligent and laborious traders, for
the nature of their trade included very severe labour. When one of the
_boys_ was deeply smitten, his fowling-piece and fishing-rod were at
once relinquished. He demanded of his father forty or at most fifty
dollars, a negro boy, and a canoe; all of a sudden he assumed the brow
of care and solicitude, and began to smoke, a precaution absolutely
necessary to repel aguish damps and troublesome insects. He arrayed
himself in a habit very little differing from that of the aborigines,
into whose bounds he was about to penetrate, and in short commenced
Indian trader. That strange, amphibious animal, who, united the acute
senses, strong instincts, and unconquerable patience and fortitude of
the savage, with the art, policy, and inventions of the European,
encountered, in the pursuit of gain, dangers and difficulties equal to
those described in the romantic legends of chivalry.

The small bark canoe in which this hardy adventurer embarked himself,
his fortune, and his faithful _squire_, (who was generally born in the
same house, and predestined to his service,) was launched amidst the
tears and prayers of his female relations, amongst whom was generally
included his destined bride, who well knew herself to be the motive of
this perilous adventure.

The canoe was entirely filled with coarse strouds and blankets, guns,
powder, beads, &c., suited to the various wants and fancies of the
natives; one pernicious article was never wanting, and often made a
great part of the cargo. This was ardent spirits, for which the natives
too early acquired a relish, and the possession of which always proved
dangerous and sometimes fatal to the traders. The Mohawks bringing their
furs and other peltry, habitually to the stores of their wonted friends
and patrons, it was not in that easy and safe direction that these
trading adventures extended. The canoe generally steered northward
towards the Canadian frontier. They passed by the flats and stonehook in
the outset of their journey; then commenced their toils and dangers at
the famous water-fall called the Cohoes, ten miles above Albany, where
three rivers, uniting their streams into one, dash over a rocky shelf,
and falling into a gulf below with great violence, raise clouds of mist,
bedecked with splendid rainbows. This was the rubicon which they had to
pass, before they plunged into pathless woods, engulfing swamps and
lakes, the opposite shores of which the eye could not reach. At the
Cohoes, on account of the obstruction formed by the torrent, they
unloaded their canoe, and carried it above a mile further upon their
shoulders, returning again for the cargo, which they were obliged to
transport in the same manner. This was but a prelude to labours and
dangers, incredible to those who dwell at ease. Further on, much longer
carrying places frequently recurred—where they had the vessel and cargo
to drag through thickets, impervious to the day, abounding with snakes
and wild beasts, which are always to be found on the side of rivers.

Their provision of food was necessarily small, for fear of overloading
the slender and unstable conveyance already crowded with goods. A little
dried beef and Indian cornmeal was their whole stock, though they
formerly enjoyed both plenty and variety. They were, in a great measure,
obliged to depend upon their own skill in hunting and fishing, and the
hospitality of the Indians. For hunting, indeed, they had small leisure,
their time being sedulously employed, in consequence of the obstacles
that retarded their progress. In the slight and fragile canoes, they
often had to cross great lakes, on which the wind raised a terrible
surge. Afraid of going into the track of the French traders, who were
always dangerous rivals, and often declared enemies, they durst not
follow the direction of the river St. Lawrence; but, in search of
distant territories and unknown tribes, were wont to deviate to the east
and south-west, forcing their painful way towards the source of “rivers
unknown to song,” whose winding course was often interrupted by
shallows, and oftener still by fallen trees of great magnitude, lying
across, which it was requisite to cut through with their hatchets,
before they could proceed. Small rivers, which wind through fertile
valleys, in this country, are peculiarly liable to this obstruction. The
chestnut and hickory grew to so large a size in this kind of soil, that
in time they became top-heavy, and are then the first prey to the
violence of the winds; and thus falling, form a kind of accidental
bridge over these rivers.

When the toils and dangers of the day were over, the still greater
terrors of the night commenced. In this, which might literally be styled
the howling wilderness, they were forced to sleep in the open air, which
was frequently loaded with the humid evaporation of swamps, ponds, and
redundant vegetation. Here the axe must be again employed to procure the
materials of a large fire, even in the warmest weather. This precaution
was necessary, that the flies and mosquitoes might be expelled by the
smoke, and that the wolves and bears might be deterred by the flame from
encroaching on their place of rest. But the light which afforded them
protection created fresh disturbance, as the American wolves howl to the
fires kindled to affright them—watching the whole night on the
surrounding hills to keep up a concert which truly “rendered night
hideous:” meantime the bull-frogs, terrible though harmless, and smaller
kinds, of various tones and countless numbers, seemed all night calling
to each other from opposite swamps, forming the most dismal assemblage
of discordant sounds. Though serpents abounded very much in the woods,
few of them were noxious. The rattle-snake, the only dangerous reptile,
was not so frequently met with as in the neighbouring provinces, and the
remedy which nature has bestowed as an antidote to his bite, was very
generally known. The beauties of rural and varied scenery seldom
compensated the traveller for the dangers of his journey. “In the close
prison of innumerous boughs,” and on ground thick with underwood, there
was little of landscape open to the eye. The banks of streams and lakes
no doubt afforded a rich variety of trees and plants—the former of a
most majestic size, the latter of singular beauty and luxuriance; but
otherwise they only travelled through a grove of chestnuts or oak, to
arrive at another of maple or poplar, or a vast stretch of pines and
other evergreens. If, by chance, they arrived at a hill crowned with
cedars, which afforded some command of prospect, still the gloomy and
interminable forest, only varied with different shades of green, met the
eye whichever way it turned, while the mind, repelled by solitude so
vast, and silence so profound, turned inward on itself. Nature here wore
a veil rich and grand, but impenetrable—at least this was the impression
it was likely to make on an European mind; but a native American,
familiar from childhood with the productions and inhabitants of the
woods, sought the nuts and wild fruits with which they abounded—the
nimble squirrel, in all its varied forms, the architect beaver, the
savage raccoon, and the stately elk, where we should see nothing but
awful solitudes, untrod by human foot. It is inconceivable how well
these young travellers, taught by their Indian friends, and the
experimental knowledge of their fathers, understood every soil and its
productions. A boy of twelve years old would astonish you with his
accurate knowledge of plants, their properties, and their relation to
the soil and to each other. “Here,” said he, “is a wood of red oak, when
it is grubbed up this will be loam and sand, and make good Indian corn
ground. This chestnut wood abounds with strawberries, and is the very
best soil for wheat. The poplar wood, yonder, is not worth clearing—the
soil is always wet and cold. There is a hickory wood, where the soil is
always rich and deep, and does not run out; such and such plants that
dye blue or orange, grow under it.”

This is merely a slight epitome of the wide views of nature, that are
laid open to these people from their very infancy—the acquisition of
this kind of knowledge being one of their first amusements; yet those
who were capable of astonishing you by the extent and variety of this
local skill, in objects so varied and so complicated, never heard of a
petal, corolla, or stigma in their lives, nor even of the strata of that
soil, with the productions and properties of which they were so
intimately acquainted.

Without compass or guide of any kind, the traders steered through these
pathless forests. In those gloomy days, when the sun is not visible, or
in winter, when the falling snows obscured his beams, they made an
incision in the bark on the different sides of a tree; that on the north
was invariably thicker than the other, and covered with moss in much
greater quantity: and this never-failing indication of the polar
influence, was to those sagacious travellers a sufficient guide. They
had, indeed, several subordinate monitors. Knowing, so well as they did,
the quality of the soil, by the trees or plants most prevalent, they
could avoid a swamp, or approach with certainty to a river or high
ground, if such was their wish, by means, that to us would seem
incomprehensible. Even the savages seldom visited these districts,
except in the dead of winter; they had towns, as they called their
summer dwellings, on the banks of the lakes and rivers in the interior,
where their great fishing places were. In the winter, their grand
hunting parties were in places more remote from our boundaries, where
the deer and other larger animals took shelter from the neighbourhood of
man. These single adventurers sought the Indians in their spring haunts,
as soon as the rivers were open; there they had new dangers to
apprehend. It is well known that among the natives of America, revenge
was actually a virtue, and retaliation a positive duty. While faith was
kept with these people they never became aggressors; but the Europeans,
by the force of bad example and strong liquors, seduced them from their
wonted probity. Yet, from the first, their notion of justice and revenge
was of that vague and general nature, that if they considered themselves
injured, or if one of their tribe had been killed by an inhabitant of
any one of our settlements, they considered any individual of our nation
as a proper subject for retribution. This seldom happened among our
allies; never, indeed, but when the injury was obvious, and our people
very culpable. But the avidity of gain often led our traders to deal
with Indians, among whom the French possessed a degree of influence,
which produced a smothered animosity to our nation. When, at length,
after conquering numberless obstacles, they arrived at the place of
their destination, these daring adventurers found occasion for no little
address, patience, and indeed courage, before they could dispose of
their cargo, and return safely with the profits.

The successful trader had now laid the foundation of his fortune, and
approved himself worthy of her for whose sake he encountered all these
dangers. It is utterly inconceivable, how even a single season spent in
this manner, ripened the mind, and changed the whole appearance—nay, the
very character of the countenance of these demi-savages, for such they
seemed on returning from among their friends in the forests. Lofty,
sedate, and collected, they seem masters of themselves, and independent
of others; though sunburnt and austere, one scarce knows them till they
unbend. By this Indian likeness, I do not think them by any means
degraded. One must have seen these people, (the Indians I mean,) to have
any idea what a noble animal man is while unsophisticated. I have often
been amused with the descriptions that philosophers, in their closets,
who never in their lives saw man, but in his improved or degraded state,
give of uncivilized people; not recollecting that they are at the same
time uncorrupted. Voyagers, who have not their language, and merely see
them transiently, to wonder and be wondered at, are equally strangers to
the real character of man in a social though unpolished state. It is no
criterion to judge of this state of society by the roaming savages,
(truly such,) who are met with on these inhospitable coasts, where
nature is niggardly of her gifts, and where the skies frown continually
on her hard-fated children. For some good reason, to us unknown, it is
requisite that human beings should be scattered through all habitable
space, “till gradual life goes out beneath the pole;” and to beings so
destined, what misery would result from social tenderness and fine
perceptions. Of the class of social beings, (for such indeed they were,)
of whom I speak, let us judge from the traders, who know their language
and customs, and from the adopted prisoners, who have spent years among
them. How unequivocal, how consistent is the testimony they bear to
their humanity, friendship, fortitude, fidelity, and generosity; but the
indulgence of the recollections thus suggested, has already led me too
far from my subject.

The joy that the return of these youths occasioned was proportioned to
the anxiety their perilous journey had produced. In some instances, the
union of the lovers immediately took place before the next career of
gainful hardships commenced. But the more cautious went to New-York in
winter, disposed of their peltry, purchased a larger cargo, and another
slave and canoe. The next year they laid out the profits of their former
adventures in flour and provisions, the staple of the province; this
they disposed of at the Bermuda Islands, where they generally purchased
one of those light-sailing cedar schooners, for building of which those
islanders are famous, and proceeding to the Leeward Islands, loaded it
with a cargo of rum, sugar, and molasses.

They were now ripened into men, and considered as active and useful
members of society, possessing a stake in the common weal.

The young adventurer had generally finished this process by the time he
was one, or, at most, two and twenty. He now married, or if married
before, which pretty often was the case, brought home his wife to a
house of his own. Either he kept his schooner, and, loading her with
produce, sailed up and down the river all summer, and all winter
disposed of the cargoes he obtained in exchange, to more distant
settlers; or he sold her, purchased European goods, and kept a store.
Otherwise he settled in the country, and became as diligent in his
agricultural pursuits as if he had never known any other.


                                CHAP. X.

    Marriages—Amusements—Rural excursions, &c. among the Albanians.

IT was in this manner that the young colonist made the transition from
boyhood to manhood; from the disengaged and careless bachelor, to the
provident and thoughtful father of a family; and thus was spent that
period of life, so critical in polished society, to those whose
condition exempts them from manual labour. Love, undiminished by any
rival passion, and cherished by innocence and candour, was here fixed by
the power of early habit, and strengthened by similarity of education,
tastes, and attachments. Inconstancy, or even indifference among married
couples, was unheard of, even where there happened to be a considerable
disparity in point of intellect. The extreme affection they bore their
mutual offspring, was a bond that forever endeared them to each other.
Marriage, in this colony, was always early, very often happy, and very
seldom, indeed, interested. When a man had no son, there was nothing to
be expected with a daughter but a well-brought-up female slave, and the
furniture of the best bed-chamber. At the death of her father, she
obtained another division of his effects, such as he thought she needed
or deserved, for there was no rule in these cases.

Such was the manner in which those colonists began life; nor must it be
thought that those were mean or uninformed persons. Patriots,
magistrates, generals, those who were afterwards wealthy, powerful, and
distinguished, all—except a few elder brothers, occupied by their
possessions at home—set out in the same manner; and, in after life, even
in the most prosperous circumstances, they delighted to recount the
“humble toils and destiny obscure,” of their early years.

The very idea of being ashamed of any thing that was neither vicious nor
indecent, never entered an Albanian head. Early accustomed to this noble
simplicity, this dignified candour, I cannot express the contempt and
disgust I felt at the shame of honourable poverty. The extreme desire of
concealing our real condition, and appearing what we are not, that
peculiarly characterizes, I had almost said disgraces, the northern part
more particularly of this island. I have often wondered how this vile
sentiment, that undermines all true greatness of mind, should prevail
more here than in England, where wealth, beyond a doubt, is more
respected, at least preponderates more over birth, and heart, and mind,
and many other valuable considerations. As a people, we certainly are
not sordid, why then should we descend to the meanness of being ashamed
of our condition, while we have not done any thing to degrade ourselves?
Why add a sting to poverty, and a plume to vanity, by the poor
transparent artifice that conceals nothing, and only changes pity into

Before I quit the subject of Albanian manners, I must describe their
amusements, and some other peculiarities, in their modes of life. When I
say their amusements, I mean those in which they differed from most
other people. Such as they had in common with others, require no
description. They were exceedingly social, and visited each other very
frequently, beside the regular assembling together in their porches,
every fine evening. Of the more substantial luxuries of the table, they
knew little, and of the formal and ceremonious parts of good breeding,
still less.

If you went to spend a day any where, you were received in a manner, we
should think, very cold. No one rose to welcome you; no one wondered you
had not come sooner, or apologized for any deficiency in your
entertainment. Dinner, which was very early, was served exactly in the
same manner as if there were only the family. The house, indeed, was so
exquisitely neat and well regulated, that you could not surprise them;
and they saw each other so often and so easily, that intimates made no
difference. Of strangers they were shy—not by any means from want of
hospitality, but from a consciousness that people who had little to
value themselves on but their knowledge of the modes and ceremonies of
polished life, disliked their sincerity, and despised their simplicity.
If you showed no insolent wonder, but easily and quietly adopted their
manners, you would receive from them not only very great civility but
much essential kindness. Whoever has not common sense and common
gratitude enough to pay this tribute of accommodation to those among
whom he is destined for the time to live, must of course be an
insulated, discontented being—and come home railing at the people whose
social comforts he disdained to partake. After sharing this plain and
unceremonious dinner, which might, by the by, chance to be a very good
one, but was invariably that which was meant for the family, tea was
served in at a very early hour; and here it was that the distinction
shown to strangers commenced. Tea here, was a perfect regale,
accompanied by various sorts of cakes unknown to us, cold pastry, and
great quantities of sweetmeats and preserved fruits of various kinds,
and plates of hickory and other nuts, ready cracked. In all manner of
confectionary and pastry, these people excelled; and having fruit in
great abundance, which cost them nothing, and getting sugar home at an
easy rate, in return for their exports to the West-Indies, the quantity
of these articles used in families, otherwise plain and frugal, was
astonishing. Tea was never unaccompanied with some of these petty
articles; but for strangers, a great display was made. If you staid
supper, you were sure of a most substantial though plain one. In this
meal they departed, out of compliment to the strangers, from their usual
simplicity. Having dined between twelve and one, you were quite prepared
for it. You had either game or poultry roasted, and always shell-fish in
the season; you had also fruit in abundance. All this with much neatness
but no form. The seeming coldness with which you were first received,
wore off by degrees. They could not accommodate their topics to you, and
scarcely attempted it. But the conversation of the old, though limited
in regard to subjects, was rational and easy, and had in it an air of
originality and truth, not without its attractions. That of the young
was natural and playful, yet full of localities, which lessened its
interest to a stranger, but which were extremely amusing when you became
one of the initiated.

Their amusements were marked by a simplicity, which, to strangers,
appeared rude and childish; (I mean those of the younger class.) In
spring, eight or ten of the young people of one company, or related to
each other, young men and maidens, would set out together in a canoe, on
a kind of rural excursion, of which amusement was the object. Yet so
fixed were their habits of industry, that they never failed to carry
their work-baskets with them, not as a form, but as an ingredient.
necessarily mixed with their pleasures. They had no attendants—and
steered a devious course of four, five, or perhaps more, miles, till
they arrived at some of the beautiful islands with which this fine river
abounded, or at some sequestered spot on its banks, where delicious wild
fruits, or particular conveniences for fishing, afforded some
attraction. There they generally arrived about nine or ten o’clock,
having set out in the cool and early hour of sunrise. Often they met
another party, going, perhaps, to a different place, and joined them, or
induced them to take their route. A basket, with tea, sugar, and the
other usual provisions for breakfast, with the apparatus for cooking
it—a little rum and fruit, for making cool, weak punch, the usual
beverage in the middle of the day, and now and then some cold pastry,
was the sole provision; for the great affair was to depend on the sole
exertions of the boys, in procuring fish, wild ducks, &c., for their
dinner. They were all, like Indians, ready and dexterous with the axe,
gun, &c. Whenever they arrived at their destination, they sought out a
dry and beautiful spot opposite to the river, and in an instant, with
their axes, cleared so much superfluous shade or shrubbery as left a
semicircular opening, above which they bent and twined the boughs, so as
to form a pleasant bower, while the girls gathered dried branches, to
which one of the youths soon set fire with gunpowder, and the breakfast,
a very regular and cheerful one, occupied an hour or two; the young men
then set out to fish, or perhaps to shoot birds, and the maidens sat
busily down to their work, singing and conversing with all the ease and
gaiety the bright serenity of the atmosphere and beauty of the
surrounding scene were calculated to inspire. After the sultry hours had
been thus employed, the boys brought their tribute from the river or the
wood, and found a rural meal prepared by their fair companions, among
whom were generally their sisters and the chosen of their hearts. After
dinner they all set out together to gather wild strawberries, or
whatever other fruit was in season, for it was accounted a reflection to
come home empty-handed. When wearied of this amusement, they either
drank tea in their bower, or returning, landed at some friend’s on the
way, to partake of that refreshment. Here, indeed,

              “Youths’ free spirit, innocently gay,
               Enjoyed the most that innocence could give.”

Another of their summer amusements was going to the bush, which was thus
managed: a party of young people set out in little open carriages,
something in the form of a gig, of which every family had one; every one
carried something with him, as, in these cases, there was no hunting to
add provision. One brought wine for negus, another tea and coffee of a
superior quality, a third a pigeon pie; in short, every one brought
something, no matter how trifling, for there was no emulation about the
extent of the contribution. In this same bush, there were spots to which
the poorer members of the community retired, to work their way with
patient industry, through much privation and hardship, compared to the
plenty and comfort enjoyed by the rest. They perhaps could only afford
to have one negro-woman, whose children, as they grew up, became to
their master a source of plenty and ease: but in the mean time, the good
man wrought hard himself, with a little occasional aid sent him by his
friends. He had plenty of the necessaries of life, but no luxuries. His
wife and daughters milked the cows and wrought at the hay, and his house
was on a smaller scale than the older settlers had theirs, yet he had
always one neatly-furnished room. A very clean house, with a pleasant
portico before it—generally a fine stream beside his dwelling, and some
Indian wigwams near it. He was wood-surrounded, and seemed absolutely to
live in the bosom of nature, screened from all the artificial ills of
life; and those spots, cleared of incumbrances, yet rich in native
luxuriance, had a wild originality about them, not easily described. The
young parties, or sometimes elder ones, who set out on this woodland
excursion, had no fixed destination; they went generally in the
forenoon, and when they were tired of going on the ordinary road, turned
into the _bush_, and wherever they saw an inhabited spot, with the
appearance of which they were pleased, went in with all the ease of
intimacy, and told them they were come to spend the afternoon there. The
good people, not in the least surprised at this incursion, very calmly
opened the reserved apartments, or if it were very hot, received them in
the portico. The guests produced their stores, and they boiled their
tea-kettle, and provided cream, nuts, or any peculiar dainty of the
woods which they chanced to have; and they always furnished bread and
butter, which they had excellent of their kinds. They were invited to
partake of the collation, which they did with great ease and frankness;
then dancing, or any other amusement that struck their fancy, succeeded.
They sauntered about the bounds in the evening, and returned by
moonlight. These good people felt not the least embarrassed at the
rustic plainness of every thing about them: they considered themselves
as on the way, after a little longer exertion of patient industry, to
have every thing that the others had; and their guests thought it an
agreeable variety, in this abrupt manner, to visit their sequestered


                               CHAP. XI.

                Winter amusements of the Albanians, &c.

IN winter, the river, frozen to a great depth, formed the principal road
through the country, and was the scene of all those amusements of
skating, and sledge races, common to the north of Europe. They used, in
great parties, to visit their friends at a distance, and having an
excellent and hardy breed of horses, flew from place to place, over the
snow and ice, in these sledges, with incredible rapidity, stopping a
little while at every house they came to, and always well received,
whether acquainted with the owners or not. The night never impeded these
travellers, for the atmosphere was so pure and serene, and the snow so
reflected the moon and star-light, that the nights exceeded the days in

In town, all the boys were extravagantly fond of a diversion, that to us
would appear a very odd and childish one. The great street of the town,
in the midst of which, as has been formerly mentioned, stood all the
churches and public buildings, sloped down from the hill on which the
fort stood, towards the river: between the buildings was an unpaved
carriage-road, the footpath, beside the houses, being the only part of
the street which was paved. In winter, this sloping descent, continued
for more than a quarter of a mile, acquiring firmness from the frost,
and became extremely slippery. Then the amusement commenced. Every boy
and youth in town, from eight to eighteen, had a little, low sledge,
made with a rope like a bridle to the front, by which it could be
dragged after one by the hand. On this, one or two, at most, could
sit—and this sloping descent, being made as smooth as a looking-glass,
by sliders, sledges, &c., perhaps a hundred at once set out in
succession from the top of this street, each seated in his little
sledge, with the rope in his hand, which drawn to the right or left,
served to guide him. He pushed it off with a little stick, as one would
launch a boat; and then, with the most astonishing velocity,
precipitated by the weight of the owner, the little machine glided past,
and was at the lower end of the street in an instant. What could be so
peculiarly delightful in this rapid and smooth descent, I could never
discover—though in a more retired place, and on a smaller scale, I have
tried the amusement: but to a young Albanian, sleighing, as he called
it, was one of the first joys of life, though attended with the drawback
of walking to the top of the declivity, dragging his sledge every time
he renewed his flight, for such it might well be called. In the
management of this little machine, some dexterity was necessary: an
unskilful Phaeton was sure to fall. The conveyance was so low, that a
fall was attended with little danger, yet with much disgrace, for an
universal laugh from all sides, assailed the fallen charioteer. This
laugh was from a very full chorus, for the constant and rapid succession
of this procession, where every one had a brother, lover, or kinsman,
brought all the young people in town to the porticos, where they used to
sit, wrapt in furs, till ten or eleven at night, engrossed by this
delectable spectacle. What magical attraction it could possibly have, I
never could find out; but I have known an Albanian, after residing some
years in Britain, and becoming a polished, fine gentleman, join the
sport, and slide down with the rest. Perhaps, after all our laborious
refinements in amusement, being easily pleased is one of the great
secrets of happiness, as far as it is attainable in this “frail and
feverish being.”

Now there remains another amusement to be described, which I mention
with reluctance, and should scarce venture to mention at all, had I not
found a precedent for it among the virtuous Spartans. Had Lycurgus
himself, been the founder of their community, the young men could scarce
have stolen with more alacrity and dexterity. I could never conjecture
how the custom could possibly originate among a set of people of such
perfect and plain integrity; but thus it was. The young men now and then
spent a convivial evening at a tavern together, where, from the extreme
cheapness of liquor, their bills, (even when they committed an
occasional excess,) were very moderate. Either to lessen the expense of
the supper, or from the pure love of what they styled frolic, (anglicè
mischief,) they never failed to steal either a roasting pig, or a fat
turkey, for this festive occasion. The town was the scene of these
depredations, which never extended beyond it. Swine and turkeys were
reared in great numbers by all the inhabitants. For those they brought
to town in winter, they had an appropriate place at the lower end of the
garden, in which they were locked up. It is observable that these
animals were the only things locked up about the house, for this good
reason, that nothing else ran the least risk of being stolen. The
dexterity of the theft consisted in climbing over very high walls,
watching to steal in when the negroes went down to feed the horse or
cow, or making a clandestine entrance at some window or aperture;
breaking open doors was quite out of rule, and rarely ever resorted to.
These exploits were always performed in the darkest nights; if the owner
heard a noise in his stables, he usually ran down with a cudgel, and
laid it without mercy on any culprit he could overtake. This was either
dexterously avoided or patiently borne. To plunder a man, and afterwards
offer him any personal injury, was accounted scandalous; but the turkies
or pigs were never recovered. In some instances, a whole band of these
young plunderers would traverse the town, and carry off such a prey as
would afford provision for many jovial nights. Nothing was more common
than to find one’s brothers or nephews amongst these pillagers.

Marriage was followed by two dreadful privations: a married man could
not fly down the street in a little sledge, or join a party of
pig-stealers, without outraging decorum. If any of their confederates
married, as they frequently did, very young, and were in circumstances
to begin house-keeping, they were sure of an early visit of this nature
from their old confederates. It was thought a great act of gallantry to
overtake and chastise the robbers. I recollect an instance of a young
married man, who had not long attained to that dignity, whose turkies
screaming violently one night, he ran down to chastise the aggressors;
he overtook them in the fact, but finding they were his old associates,
could not resist the force of habit, joined the rest in another exploit
of the same nature, and then shared his own turkey at the tavern. There
were two inns in the town, the masters of which were “honourable men,”
yet these pigs and turkies were always received and dressed, without
questioning whence they came. In one instance, a young party had, in
this manner, provided a pig, and ordered it to be roasted at the King’s
Arms; another party attacked the same place, whence this booty was
taken, but found it already rifled. This party was headed by an idle,
mischievous young man, who was the Ned Poins of his fraternity: well
guessing how the stolen roasted-pig was disposed of, he ordered his
friends to adjourn to the rival tavern, and went himself to the King’s
Arms. Inquiring in the kitchen, (where a pig was roasting,) who supped
there, he soon arrived at certainty; then taking an opportunity when
there was no one in the kitchen but the cook-maid, he sent for one of
the jovial party, who were at cards up stairs. During her absence, he
cut the string by which the pig was suspended, laid it in the
dripping-pan, and through the quiet and dark streets of that sober city,
carried it safely to the other tavern, where, after finishing the
roasting, he and his companions prepared to regale themselves. Meantime,
the pig was missed at the King’s Arms, and it was immediately concluded,
from the dexterity and address with which this trick was performed, that
no other but the Poins aforesaid, could be the author of it. A new
stratagem was now devised to outwit this stealer of the stolen. An
adventurous youth of the despoiled party, laid down a parcel of shavings
opposite to the other tavern, and setting them in a blaze, cried fire! a
most alarming sound here, where such accidents were too frequent. Every
one rushed out of the house, where supper had been just served. The
dexterous purveyor, who had occasioned all this disturbance, stole in,
snatched up the dish with the pig in it, stole out again by the back
door, and feasted his companions with the recovered spoils.

These were a few idle young men, the sons of avaricious fathers, who
grudging to advance the means of pushing them forward, by the help of
their own industry, to independence, allowed them to remain so long
unoccupied, that their time was wasted, and habits of conviviality at
length degenerated into those of dissipation. These were not only pitied
and endured, but received with a great deal of kindness and indulgence,
that was wonderful. They were usually a kind of wags, went about like
privileged persons, at whose jests no one took offence, and were in
their discourse and style of humour, so much like Shakspeare’s clowns,
that on reading that admirable author, I thought I recognized my old
acquaintances. Of these, however, I saw little, the society admitted at
my friends being very select.


                               CHAP. XII.

                Lay-Brothers—Catalina—Detached Indians.

Before I quit this attempt to delineate the number of which this
community was composed, I must mention a class of aged persons, who,
united by the same recollections, pursuits, and topics, associated very
much with each other, and very little with a world which they seemed to
have renounced. They might be styled lay-brothers, and were usually
widowers, or persons who, in consequence of some early disappointment,
had remained unmarried. These were not devotees, who had, as was
formerly often the case in Catholic countries, run from the extreme of
licentiousness to that of bigotry. They were generally persons who were
never marked as being irreligious or immoral—and just as little
distinguished for peculiar strictness or devotional fervour. These good
men lived in the house of some relation, where they had their own
apartments to themselves, and only occasionally mixed with the family.
The people of the town lived to a great age; ninety was frequently
attained, and I have seen different individuals of both sexes, who had
reached a hundred. These ancients seemed to place all their delight in
pious books and devotional exercises, particularly in singing psalms,
which they would do in their own apartments for hours together. They
came out and in like ghosts, and were treated in the same manner, for
they never spoke unless when addressed, and seemed very careless of the
things of this world, like people who had got above it. Yet they were
much together, and seemed to enjoy each other’s conversation.
Retrospection on the scenes of early life, anticipations of that
futurity, so closely veiled from our sight, and discussions regarding
different passages of holy writ, seemed their favourite themes. They
were mild and benevolent, but abstracted, and unlike other people, their
happiness, for happy I am convinced they were, was of a nature peculiar
to themselves, not obvious to others. Others there were not deficient in
their attention to religious duties, who, living in the bosom of their
families, took an active and cheerful concern to the last, in all that
amused or interested them; and I never understood that the lay-brothers,
as I have chosen to call them, blamed them for so doing. One of the
first Christian virtues, charity, in the most obvious and common sense
of the word, had little scope. Here a beggar was unheard of. People,
such as I have described in the _bush_, or going there, were no more
considered as objects of pity, than we consider an apprentice as such,
for having to serve his time before he sets up for himself. In such
cases, the wealthier, because older settlers, frequently gave a heifer
or colt each, to a new beginner, who set about clearing land in their
vicinity. Orphans were never neglected; and from their early marriages,
and the casualties their manner of life subjected them to, these were
not unfrequent. You never entered a house without meeting children;
maidens, bachelors, and childless married people, all adopted orphans,
and all treated them as if they were their own.

Having given a sketch, that appears to my recollection, (aided by
subsequent conversations with my fellow-travellers,) a faithful one of
the country and its inhabitants, it is time to return to the history of
the mind of Miss Schuyler, for by no other circumstances than
prematurity of intellect, and superior culture, were her earliest years
distinguished. Her father, dying early, left her very much to the
tuition of his brother. Her uncle’s frontier situation, made him a kind
of barrier to the settlement; while the powerful influence that his
knowledge of nature and of character, his sound judgment and unstained
integrity, had obtained over both parties, made him the bond by which
the aborigines were united with the colonists. Thus, little leisure was
left him for domestic enjoyments or literary pursuits, for both of which
his mind was peculiarly adapted. Of the leisure time he could command,
however, he made the best use, and soon distinguished Catalina as the
one amongst his family to whom nature had been most liberal; he was at
the pains to cultivate her taste for reading, which soon discovered
itself, by procuring for her the best authors in history, divinity, and
belles lettres; in this latter branch, her reading was not very
extensive, but then the few books of this kind that she possessed, were
very well chosen, and she was early and intimately familiar with them.
What I remember of her, assisted by comparisons since made with others,
has led me to think that extensive reading, superficial and
indiscriminate—such as the very easy access to books among us
encourages, is not at an early period of life, favourable to solid
thinking, true taste, or fixed principle. Whatever she knew, she knew to
the bottom; and the reflections which were thus suggested to her strong,
discerning mind, were digested by means of easy and instructive
conversation. Colonel Schuyler had many relations in New-York—and the
governor and other ruling characters there, carefully cultivated the
acquaintance of a person, so well qualified to instruct and inform them
on certain points as he was. Having considerable dealings in the fur
trade, too, he went every winter to the capital for a short time, to
adjust his commercial concerns, and often took his favourite niece along
with him, who, being of an uncommonly quick growth and tall stature,
soon attracted attention by her personal graces, as well as by the
charms of her conversation. I have been told, and should conclude from a
picture I have seen drawn when she was fifteen, that she was in her
youth very handsome. Of this, few traces remained when I knew her;
excessive corpulence having then overloaded her majestic person, and
entirely changed the aspect of a countenance, once eminently graceful.
In no place did female excellence of any kind more amply receive its due
tribute of applause and admiration than here, for various reasons;
first, cultivation and refinement were rare. Then, as it was not the
common routine that women should necessarily have such and such
accomplishments, pains were only taken on minds strong enough to bear
improvement, without becoming conceited or pedantic; and lastly, as the
spur of emulation was not invidiously applied, those who acquired a
superior degree of knowledge, considered themselves as very fortunate in
having a new source of enjoyment opened to them. But never having been
made to understand that the chief motive of excelling was to dazzle or
outshine others, they no more thought of despising their less fortunate
companions, than of assuming pre-eminence for discovering a wild
plum-tree or bee-hive in the woods, though, as in the former case, they
would have regarded such a discovery as a benefit and a pleasure; their
acquisitions, therefore, were never shaded by affectation. The women
were all natives of the country, and few had more than a domestic
education; but men, who possessed the advantages of early culture and
usage of the world, daily arrived on the continent from different parts
of Europe; so that if we may be indulged in the inelegant liberty of
talking commercially of female elegance, the supply was not equal to the
demand. It may be easily supposed that Miss Schuyler met with due
attention; who, even at this early age, was respected for the strength
of her character, and the dignity and composure of her manners. Her
mother, whom she delighted to recollect, was mild, pious, and amiable;
her acknowledged worth was chastened by the utmost diffidence. Yet,
accustomed to exercise a certain power over the minds of the natives,
she had great influence in restraining their irregularities and swaying
their opinions. From her knowledge of their language, and habit of
conversing with them, some detached Indian families resided for a while
in summer in the vicinity of houses occupied by the more wealthy and
benevolent inhabitants. They generally built a slight wigwam under
shelter of the orchard fence, on the shadiest side; and never were
neighbours more harmless, peaceable, and obliging—I might truly add
industrious, for in one way or other they were constantly occupied. The
women and their children employed themselves in many ingenious
handicrafts, which, since the introduction of European arts and
manufactures, have greatly declined. Baking trays, wooden dishes, ladles
and spoons, shovels and rakes, brooms of a peculiar manufacture, made by
splitting a birch block into slender but tough filaments; baskets of all
kinds and sizes, made of similar filaments, enriched with the most
beautiful colours, which they alone knew how to extract from vegetable
substances, and incorporate with the wood. They made also of the
birch-bark, (which is here so strong and tenacious, that cradles and
canoes are made of it,) many receptacles for holding fruit and other
things, curiously adorned with embroidery—not inelegant, done with the
sinews of deer, and leggins and moomesans, a very comfortable and highly
ornamental substitute for shoes and stockings, then universally used in
winter among the men of our own people. They had also a beautiful
manufacture of deer skin, softened to the consistence of the finest
Chamois leather, and embroidered with beads of wampum, formed like
bugles; these, with great art and industry, they formed out of shells,
which had the appearance of fine, white porcelain, veined with purple.
This embroidery showed both skill and taste, and was among themselves
highly valued. They had belts, large embroidered garters, and many other
ornaments, formed, first of deer sinews, divided to the size of coarse
thread, and afterwards, when they obtained worsted thread from us, of
that material, formed in a manner which I could never comprehend. It was
neither knitted nor wrought in the manner of net, nor yet woven—but the
texture was formed more like an officer’s sash than any thing I can
compare it to. While the women and children were thus employed, the men
sometimes assisted them in the more laborious part of their business,
but oftener occupied themselves in fishing on the rivers, and drying or
preserving, by means of smoke, in sheds erected for the purpose,
sturgeon and large eels, which they caught in great quantities, and of
an extraordinary size, for winter provision.

Boys on the verge of manhood, and ambitious to be admitted into the
hunting parties of the ensuing winter, exercised themselves in trying to
improve their skill in archery, by shooting birds, squirrels, and
raccoons. These petty huntings helped to support the little colony in
the neighbourhood, which, however, derived its principal subsistence
from an exchange of their manufactures with the neighbouring family, for
milk, bread, and other articles of food.

The summer residence of these ingenious artisans promoted a great
intimacy between the females of the vicinity and the Indian women, whose
sagacity and comprehension of mind were beyond belief.

It is a singular circumstance, that though they saw the negroes in every
respectable family not only treated with humanity, but cherished with
parental kindness, they always regarded them with contempt and dislike,
as an inferior race, and would have no communication with them. It was
necessary then that all conversations should be held, and all business
transacted with these females, by the mistress of the family. In the
infancy of the settlement, the Indian language was familiar to the more
intelligent inhabitants, who found it very useful, and were, no doubt,
pleased with its nervous and emphatic idiom, and its lofty and sonorous
cadence. It was, indeed, a noble and copious language, when one
considers that it served as the vehicle of thought to a people, whose
ideas and sphere of action we should consider as so very confined.


                              CHAP. XIII.

                 Progress of knowledge—Indian manners.

Conversing with those interesting and deeply-reflecting natives, was, to
thinking minds, no mean source of entertainment. Communication soon grew
easier, for the Indians had a singular facility in acquiring other
languages—the children, I well remember, from experimental knowledge,
for I delighted to hover about the wigwam, and converse with those of
the Indians, and we very frequently mingled languages. But to return:
whatever comfort or advantage a good and benevolent mind possesses, it
is willing to extend to others. The mother of my friend, and other
matrons, who, like her, experienced the consolations, the hopes, and the
joys of Christianity, wished those estimable natives to share in their
pure enjoyments.

Of all others, these mild and practical Christians were the best fitted
for making proselytes. Unlike professed missionaries, whose zeal is not
always seconded by judgment, they did not begin by alarming the
jealousy, with which all manner of people watch over their hereditary
prejudices. Engaged in active life, they had daily opportunities of
demonstrating the truth of their religion, by its influence upon their
conduct. Equally unable and unwilling to enter into deep disquisitions
or polemical arguments, their calm and unstudied explanations of the
essential doctrines of Christianity, were the natural results which
arose out of their ordinary conversation. To make this better
understood, I must endeavour to explain what I have observed in the
unpolished society that occupies the wild and remote districts of
different countries. Their conversation is not only more original, but,
however odd the expression may appear, more philosophical than that of
persons equally destitute of mental culture, in more populous districts.
They derive their subjects of reflection and conversation, more from
natural objects, which lead minds, possessing a certain degree of
intelligence, more forward to trace effects to their causes. Nature,
there, too, is seen arrayed in virgin beauty and simple majesty. Its
various aspects are more grand and impressive; its voice is more
distinctly heard, and sinks deeper into the heart. These people, more
dependent on the simples of the fields and the wild fruits of the woods,
better acquainted with the forms and instincts of the birds and beasts,
their fellow denizens in the wilds, and more observant of every
constellation and every change in the sky, from living so much in the
open air, have a wider range of ideas than we are aware of. With us, art
every where combats nature—opposes her plainest dictates, and too often
conquers her. The poor, are so confined to the spot where their
occupations lie—so engrossed by their struggles for daily bread, and so
surrounded by the works of man, that those of their Creator are almost
excluded from their view, at least form a very small part of the
subjects that engross their thoughts. What knowledge they have is often
merely the husks and orts that fall from the table of their superiors,
which they swallow without chewing.

Many of those who are one degree above the lowest class, see nature in
poetry, novels, and other books, and never think of looking for her any
where else; like a person amused by seeing the reflection of the starry
heavens, or shifting clouds in a calm lake, never lifting his eyes to
those objects, of which he sees the imperfect though resembling

Those who live in the undisguised bosom of tranquil nature, and whose
chief employment it is, by disincumbering her of waste luxuriance, to
discover and improve her latent beauties, need no borrowed enthusiasm to
relish her sublime and graceful features. The venerable simplicity of
the sacred scriptures, has something extremely attractive for a mind in
this state. The soul, which is the most familiar with its Creator, in
his works, will be always the most ready to recognise him in his word.
Conversations, which had for their subjects, the nature and virtues of
plants, the extent and boundaries of woods and lakes, and the various
operations of instinct in animals, under those circumstances where they
are solely directed by it, and the distinct customs and manners of
various untutored nations, tended to expand the mind, and teach it to
aspire to more perfect intelligence. The untaught reasoners of the
woods, could not but observe that the Europeans knew much that was
concealed from them, and derived many benefits and much power from that
knowledge. Where they saw active virtue keep pace with superior
knowledge, it was natural to conclude that persons thus beneficially
enlightened, had clearer and ampler views of that futurity, which, to
them, only dimly gleamed through formless darkness. They would suppose,
too, that those illuminated beings, had some means of approaching nearer
to that source of light and perfection, from which wisdom is derived,
than they themselves had attained. Their minds being thus prepared by
degrees, these pious matrons, (probably assisted by those lay-brothers,
of whom I have spoken,) began to diffuse the knowledge of the
distinguished doctrines of Christianity among the elderly and
well-intentioned Indian women. These did not, by any means, receive the
truth without examination. The acuteness of intellect, which discovered
itself in their objections, (of which I have heard many striking
instances,) was astonishing; yet the humble and successful instruments
of enlightening those sincere and candid people, did by no means take to
themselves any merit in making proselytes. When they found their
auditors disposed to listen diligently to the truth, they sent them to
the clergyman of the place, who instructed, confirmed, and baptised
them. I am sorry that I have not a clear and distinct recollection of
the exact manner, or the numbers, &c. of these first converts, of whom I
shall say more hereafter; but I know that this was the usual process.
They were, however, both zealous and persevering, and proved the means
of bringing many others under the law of love, to which it is reasonable
to suppose the safety of this unprotected frontier was greatly owing at
that crisis, that of the first attacks of the French. The Indian women,
who, from motives of attachment to particular families, or for the
purpose of carrying on the small traffic, already mentioned, were wont
to pass their summers near the settlers, were of detached and wandering
families, who preferred this mode of living to the labour of tilling the
ground, which entirely devolved upon the women among the Five Nations.
By tilling the ground, I would not be understood to mean any settled
mode of agriculture, requiring cattle, inclosures, or implements of
husbandry. Grain made but a very subordinate part of their subsistence,
which was chiefly derived from fishing and hunting. The little they had
was maize; this, with kidney-beans and tobacco, the only plants they
cultivated, was sown in some very pleasant fields along the Mohawk
river, by the women, who had no implements of tillage but the hoe, and a
kind of wooden spade. These fields laid round their _castles_—and while
the women were thus employed, the men were catching and drying fish by
the rivers or on the lakes. The younger girls, were much busied during
summer and autumn, in gathering wild fruits, berries, and grapes, which
they had a peculiar mode of drying, to preserve them for the winter. The
great cranberry they gathered in abundance, which, without being dried,
would last the whole winter, and was much used by the settlers. These
dried fruits were no luxury; a fastidious taste would entirely reject
them. Yet, besides furnishing another article of food, they had their
use, as was evident. Without some antiseptic, they who lived the whole
winter on animal food, without a single vegetable, or any thing of the
nature of bread, unless now and then a little maize, which they had the
art of boiling down to softness in lye of wood-ashes, must have been
liable to that great scourge of northern nations, in their primitive
state, the _scurvy_, had not this simple desert been a preservative
against it. Rheumatisms, and sometimes agues affected them, but no
symptom of any cutaneous disease was ever seen on an Indian.

The stragglers, from the confines of the orchards, did not fail to join
their tribes in winter, and were zealous, and often successful in
spreading their new opinions. Indians supposed that every country had
its own mode of honouring the Great Spirit, to whom all were equally
acceptable. This had, on one hand, the bad effect of making them
satisfied with their own vague and undefined notions; and on the other,
the good one of making them very tolerant of those of others. If you do
not insult their belief, (for mode of worship they have scarce any,)
they will hear you talk of yours with the greatest patience and
attention; their good breeding, in this respect, was really superlative.
No Indian ever interrupted any the most idle talker; but when he
concluded, he would deliberately, methodically, and not ungracefully
answer or comment upon all he had said, in a manner which showed that
not a word had escaped him.

Lady Mary Montague ludicrously says, that the court of Vienna was the
paradise of old women; and that there is no other place in the world
where a woman past fifty excites the least interest. Had her travels
extended to the interior of North America, she would have seen another
instance of this inversion of the common mode of thinking. Here a woman
never was of consequence, till she had a son old enough to fight the
battles of his country; from that date she held a superior rank in
society; was allowed to live at ease, and even called to consultations
on national affairs. In savage and warlike countries, the reign of
beauty is very short, and its influence comparatively limited. The
girls, in childhood, had a very pleasing appearance; but excepting their
fine hair, eyes, and teeth, every external grace was soon banished by
perpetual drudgery, carrying burdens too heavy to be borne, and other
slavish employments, considered beneath the dignity of the men. These
walked before, erect and graceful, decked with ornaments, which set off
to advantage the symmetry of their well-formed persons, while the poor
women followed, meanly attired, bending under the weight of the children
and utensils, which they carried every where with them; and disfigured
and degraded by ceaseless toils. They were very early married—for a
Mohawk had no other servant but his wife; and whenever he commenced
hunter, it was requisite that he should have some one to carry his load,
cook his kettle, make his moccasins, and above all, produce the young
warriors, who were to succeed him in the honours of the chase, and of
the tomahawk. Wherever man is a mere hunter, woman is a mere slave. It
is domestic intercourse that softens man, and elevates woman; and of
that there can be little, where the employments and amusements are not
in common. The ancient Caledonians honoured the fair—but then, it is to
be observed, they were fair huntresses, and moved, in the light of their
beauty, to the hill of roes; and the culinary toils were entirely left
to the rougher sex. When the young warrior, above alluded to, made his
appearance, it softened the cares of his mother, who well knew that when
he grew up, every deficiency in tenderness to his wife, would be made up
in superabundant duty and affection to her. If it were possible to carry
filial veneration to excess, it was done here, for all other charities
were absorbed in it. I wonder this system of depressing the sex in their
early years, to exalt them when all their juvenile attractions were
flown, and when mind alone can distinguish them, has not occurred to our
modern reformers. The Mohawks took good care not to admit their women to
share their prerogatives, till they approved themselves good wives and

This digression, long as it is, has a very intimate connexion with the
character of my friend, who early adopted the views of her family, in
regard to those friendly Indians, which greatly enlarged her mind, and
ever after influenced her conduct. She was, even in childhood, well
acquainted with their language, opinions, and customs; and, like every
other person possessed of a liberality or benevolence of mind, whom
chance had brought acquainted with them, was exceedingly partial to
those high-souled and generous natives. The Mohawk language was early
familiar to her; she spoke Dutch and English with equal ease and purity,
was no stranger to the French tongue, and could, (I think,) read German:
I have heard her speak it. From the conversations which her active
curiosity led her to hold with native Africans, brought into her
father’s family, she was more intimately acquainted with the customs,
manners, and government of their native country, than she could have
been, by reading all that was ever written on the subject. Books are, no
doubt, the granaries of knowledge; but a diligent, inquiring mind, in
the active morning of life, will find it strewed like manna, over the
face of the earth—and need not, in all cases, rest satisfied with
intelligence accumulated by others, and tinctured with their passions
and prejudices. Whoever reads Homer or Shakspeare, may daily discover
that they describe both nature and art from their own observation.
Consequently, you see the images reflected from the mirror of their
great minds, differing from the descriptions of others, as the
reflection of an object in all its colours and proportions, from an
unpolished surface, does from a shadow on a wall, or from a picture
drawn from recollection. The enlarged mind of my friend, and her simple,
yet easy and dignified manners, made her readily adapt herself to those
with whom she conversed, and every where command respect and
kindness—and, on a nearer acquaintance, affection followed; but she had
too much sedateness and independence to adopt those caressing and
insinuating manners, by which the vain and the artful so soon find their
way into shallow minds. Her character did not captivate at once, but
gradually unfolded itself, and you had always something new to discover.
Her style was grave and masculine, without the least embellishment—and
at the same time so pure, that every thing she said might be printed
without correction, and so plain, that the most ignorant and most
inferior persons were never at a loss to comprehend it. It possessed,
too, a wonderful flexibility; it seemed to rise and fall with the
subject. I have not met with a style, which, to noble and uniform
simplicity, united such variety of expression. Whoever drinks knowledge
pure at its sources, solely from a delight in filling the capacities of
a large mind, without the desire of dazzling or out-shining others;
whoever speaks for the sole purpose of conveying to other minds those
ideas from which he himself has received pleasure and advantage, may
possess this chaste and natural style; but it is not to be acquired by
art or study.


                               CHAP. XIV.

          Marriage of Miss Schuyler—Description of the Flats.

MISS SCHUYLER had the happiness to captivate her cousin Philip, eldest
son of her uncle, who was ten years older than herself, and was in _all
respects_ to be accounted a suitable, and in the worldly sense, an
advantageous match for her. His father was highly satisfied to have the
two objects on whom he had bestowed so much care and culture united, but
did not live to see this happy connexion take place. They were married
in the year 1719,[2] when she was in the eighteenth year of her age.
When the old colonel died, he left considerable possessions to be
divided among his children, and from the quantity of plate, paintings,
&c. which they shared, there is reason to believe he must have brought
some of his wealth from Holland, as in those days, people had little
means of enriching themselves in new settlements. He had also
considerable possessions in a place near the town, now called Fishkill,
about twenty miles below Albany. His family residence, however, was at
the Flats, a fertile and beautiful plain on the banks of the river. He
possessed about two miles on a stretch of that rich and level campaign.
This possession was bounded on the east by the river Hudson, whose high
banks overhung the stream and its pebbly strand, and were both adorned
and defended by elms, (larger than I have seen in any other place,)
decked with natural festoons of wild grapes, which abound along the
banks of this noble stream. These lofty elms were left when the country
was cleared, to fortify the banks against the masses of thick ice, which
make war upon them in spring, when the melting snows burst this glassy
pavement, and raise the waters many feet above their usual level. This
precaution not only answers that purpose, but gratifies the mind, by
presenting to the eye a remnant of the wild magnificence of nature,
amidst the smiling scenes produced by varied and successful cultivation.
As you came along by the north end of the town, where the _Patroon_ had
his seat, you afterwards past by the enclosures of the citizens, where,
as formerly described, they planted their corn, and arrived at the
Flats, Colonel Schuyler’s possession. On the right you saw the river in
all its beauty, there above a mile broad: on the opposite side, the view
was bounded by steep hills, covered with lofty pines, from which a
water-fall descended, which not only gave animation to the sylvan scene,
but was the best barometer imaginable—foretelling by its varied and
intelligible sounds, every approaching change, not only of the weather,
but of the wind. Opposite to the grounds lay an island, above a mile in
length, and about a quarter in breadth, which also belonged to the
Colonel: exquisitely beautiful it was, and though the haunt I most
delighted in, it is not in my power to describe it. Imagine a little
Egypt, yearly overflowed, and of the most redundant fertility. This
charming spot was at first covered with wood, like the rest of the
country, except a long field in the middle, where the Indians had
probably cultivated maize: round this was a broad, shelving border,
where the grey and the weeping willows, the bending osier, and
numberless aquatic plants, not known in this country, were allowed to
flourish in the utmost luxuriance, while within, some tall sycamores and
wild fruit-trees, towered above the rest. Thus was formed a broad belt,
which, in winter, proved an impenetrable barrier against the broken ice,
and in summer, was the haunt of numberless birds and small animals, who
dwelt in perfect safety, it being impossible to penetrate it. Numberless
were the productions of this luxuriant spot: never was a richer field
for a botanist; for though the ice was kept off, the turbid waters of
the spring flood overflowed it annually, and not only deposited a rich
sediment, but left the seeds of various plants swept from the shores it
had passed by. The centre of the island, which was much higher than the
sides, produced with a slight degree of culture, the most abundant crops
of wheat, hay, and flax. At the end of this island, which was exactly
opposite to the family mansion, a long sand-bank extended; on this was a
very valuable fishing place, of which a considerable profit might be
made. In summer, when the water was low, this narrow stripe, (for such
it was,) came in sight, and furnished an amusing spectacle; for there
the bald or white-headed eagle, (a large picturesque bird, very frequent
in this country,) the osprey, the heron, and the curlew, used to stand
in great numbers, in a long row, like a military arrangement, for a
whole summer day, fishing for perch and a kind of fresh-water herring,
which abounded there. At the same season, a variety of wild ducks, who
bred on the shores of the island, (among which was a small, white diver,
of an elegant form,) led forth their young to try their first excursion.
What a scene have I beheld on a calm, summer evening! There, indeed,
were “fringed banks” richly fringed, and wonderfully variegated; where
every imaginable shade of colour mingled, and where life teemed prolific
on every side. The river, a perfect mirror, reflecting the pine-covered
hills opposite—and the pliant shades that bend without a wind, round
this enchanting island, while hundreds of the white divers, saw-bill
ducks, with scarlet heads, teal, and other aquatic birds, sported at
once on the calm waters. At the discharge of a gun from the shore, these
feathered beauties all disappeared at once, as if by magic, and in an
instant rose to view in different places.

Footnote 2:

  Miss Schuyler was born in the year 1701.

How much they seemed to enjoy that life which was so new to them! for
they were the young broods first led forth to sport upon the waters.
While the fixed attitude and lofty port of the large birds of prey, who
were ranged upon the sandy shelf, formed an inverted picture in the same
clear mirror, and were a pleasing contrast to the playful multitude
around. These they never attempted to disturb, well aware of the
facility of escape which their old retreats afforded them. Such of my
readers as have had patience to follow me to this favourite isle, will
be, ere now, as much bewildered, as I have often been myself on its
luxuriant shores. To return to the southward, on the confines of what
might then be called an interminable wild, rose two gently sloping
eminences, about half a mile from the shore; from each of these a large
brook descended, bending through the plain, and having their course
marked by the shades of primeval trees and shrubs, left there to shelter
the cattle when the ground was cleared. On these eminences, in the near
neighbourhood, and in full view of the mansion at the Flats, were two
large and well-built dwellings, inhabited by Colonel Schuyler’s two
younger sons, Peter and Jeremiah. To the eldest was allotted the place
inhabited by his father, which, from its lower situation and level
surface, was called the Flats. There was a custom prevalent among the
new settlers, something like that of gavelkind; they made a pretty equal
division of lands among their younger sons; the eldest, by pre-eminence
of birth, had a larger share, and generally succeeded to the domain
inhabited by his father, with the slaves, cattle, and effects upon it.

This, in the present instance, was the lot of the eldest son of that
family whose possessions I have been describing. His portion of land on
the shore of the river, was scarcely equal in value to those of his
brothers, to whose possessions, the brooks I have mentioned, formed a
natural boundary, dividing them from each other, and from his. To him
was allotted the costly furniture of the family, of which paintings,
plate, and china constituted the valuable part, every thing else being
merely plain and useful. They had also a large house in Albany, which
they occupied occasionally.

I have neglected to describe, in its right place, the termination or
back ground of the landscape I have such delight in recollecting. There
the solemn and interminable forest was varied here and there by rising
grounds, near streams where birch and hickory, maple and poplar, cheered
the eye with a lighter green, through the prevailing shade of dusky
pines. On the border of the wood, where the trees had been thinned for
firing, was a broad shrubbery all along, which marked the edges of the
wood, above the possessions of the brothers, as far as it extended.

This was formed of sumac, a shrub with leaves, continually changing
colour through all the varieties, from blending green and yellow to
orange tawney, and adorned with large lilac-shaped clusters of bright
scarlet grains, covered with pungent dust of a sharp flavour, at once
saline and acid. This the Indians use as salt to their food, and for the
dyeing of different colours. The red glow, which was the general result
of this natural border, had a fine effect, thrown out from the dusky
shades which towered behind.

To the northward, a sandy tract, covered with low pines, formed a
boundary betwixt the Flats and Stonehook, which lay further up the


                               CHAP. XV.

      Character of Philip Schuyler—His management of the Indians.

PHILIP SCHUYLER, who, on the death of his father, succeeded to the
inheritance I have been describing, was a person of a mild, benevolent
character, and of an excellent understanding, which had received more
culture than was usual in that country. But whether he had returned to
Europe, for the purpose of acquiring knowledge in the public seminaries
there, or had been instructed by any of the French protestants, who were
sometimes retained in the principal families for such purposes, I do not
exactly know; but am led rather to suppose the latter, from the
connexion which always subsisted between that class of people and the
Schuyler family.

When the intimacy between this gentleman and the subject of these
memoirs took place, she was a mere child; for the colonel, as he was
soon after called, was ten years older than herself. This was singular
there, where most men married under twenty. But his early years were
occupied by momentous concerns; for, by this time, the public safety
began to be endangered by the insidious wiles of the French Canadians,
to whom our frontier settlers began to be formidable rivals in the fur
trade, which the former wished to engross. In process of time, the
Indians, criminally indulged with strong liquors by the most avaricious
and unprincipled of the traders, began to have an insatiable desire for
them, and the traders’ avidity for gain increased in the same

Occasional fraud on the one hand gave rise to occasional violence on the
other. Mutual confidence decayed, and hostility betrayed itself, when
intoxication laid open every thought. Some of our traders were, as the
colonies alleged, treacherously killed, in violation of treaties
solemnly concluded between them and the offending tribes.

The mediation and protection of the Mohawk tribes, were, as usual,
appealed to. But these shrewd politicians saw evidently the value of
their protection to an unwarlike people, who made no effort to defend
themselves; and who, distant from the source of authority, and
contributing nothing to the support of government, were in a great
measure neglected. They began also to observe, that their new friends
were extending their possessions on every side, and conscious of their
wealth and increasing numbers, did not so assiduously cultivate the good
will of their faithful allies as formerly. These nations, savage as we
may imagine them, were as well skilled in the arts of negociation as the
most polite Europeans. They waged perpetual war with each other about
their hunting grounds—each tribe laying claim to some vast wild
territory, destined for that purpose, and divided from other districts
by boundaries which we should consider as merely ideal, but which they
perfectly understood. Yet these were not so distinctly defined as to
preclude all dispute—and a casual encroachment on this imaginary deer
park, was a sufficient ground of hostility; and this, not for the value
of the few deer or bears which might be killed, but that they thought
their national honour violated by such an aggression. That system of
revenge, which subsisted with equal force among them all, admitted of no
sincere conciliation till the aggrieved party had obtained at least an
equal number of scalps and prisoners for those that they had lost. This
bloody reckoning was not easily adjusted. After a short and hollow
truce, the remaining balance on either side afforded a pretext for new
hostilities, and time to solicit new alliances, for which last purpose
much art and much persuasive power of eloquence were employed.

But the grand mystery of Indian politics was the flattery, the
stratagem, and address employed in detaching other tribes from the
alliance of their enemies. There could not be a stronger proof of the
restless and turbulent nature of ambition, than these artful
negociations, the consequences of perpetual hostility, where one would
think there was so little ground for quarrel; and that amongst a people,
who, individually, were by no means quarrelsome or covetous, and seemed,
in their private transactions with each other, impressed with a deep
sense of moral rectitude; who reasoned soundly, reflected deeply, and
acted in most cases consequentially. Property there was none, to afford
a pretext for war, excepting a little possessed by the Mohawks, which
they knew so well how to defend, that their boundaries were never

    “For their awe and their fear were upon all nations round about.”

Territory could not be the genuine subject of contention in these thinly
peopled forests, where the ocean and the pole were the only limits of
their otherwise boundless domain. The consequence attached to the
authority of chiefs, who, as such, possessed no more property than
others, and had not the power to command a single vassal for their own
personal benefit, was not such as to be the object of those wars. Their
chief privilege was that of being first in every dangerous enterprise.
They were loved and honoured, but never, that I have heard of, traduced,
envied, or removed from their painful pre-eminence.

The only way in which these wars can be accounted for, is, first, from
the general depravity of our nature, and from a singularly deep feeling
of injury, and a high sense of national honour. They were not the hasty
out-breakings of savage fury, but were commenced in the most solemn and
deliberate manner, and not without a prelude of remonstrances from the
aggrieved party, and attempts to sooth and conciliate from the other.
This digression must not be considered as altogether from the purpose.
To return to the Indians, whose history has its use in illustrating that
of mankind: they now became fully sensible of the importance they
derived from the increased wealth and undefended state of the
settlement. They discovered, too, that they held the balance between the
interior settlements of France and England, which, though still distant
from each other, were daily approximating.

The Mohawks, though always brave and always faithful, felt a very
allowable repugnance to expose the lives of their warriors in defence of
those who made no effort to defend themselves; who were neither
protected by the arms of their sovereign, nor by their own courage. They
came down to hold a solemn congress, at which the heads of the Schuyler
and Cuyler families assisted; and where it was agreed that hostilities
should be delayed for the present—the hostile nations pacified by
concessions and presents, and means adopted to put the settlement into a
state of defence against future aggressions.

On all such occasions, when previously satisfied with regard to the
justice of the grounds of quarrel, the Mohawks promised their hearty
co-operation. This they were the readier to do, as their young brother
Philip, (for so they styled Colonel Schuyler,) offered not only to head
such troops as might be raised for this purpose, but to engage his two
brothers, who were well acquainted with the whole frontier territory, to
serve on the same terms. This was a singular instance of public spirit
in a young patriot, who was an entire stranger to the profession of
arms, and whose sedate equanimity of character was adverse to every
species of rashness or enthusiasm. Meantime, the provisions of the
above-mentioned treaty could not be carried into effect, till they were
ratified by the assembly at New-York, and approved by the governor. Of
this there was little doubt; the difficulty was to raise and pay the
troops. In the interim, while steps were taking to legalize this
project, in 1719, the marriage between Colonel Schuyler and his cousin
took place under the happiest auspices.


                               CHAP. XVI.

                     Account of the three brothers.

COLONEL SCHUYLER and his two brothers, all possessed a superior degree
of intellect, and uncommon external advantages. Peter, the only one
remaining when I knew the family, was still a comely and dignified
looking old gentleman, and I was told his brothers were at least equal
to him in this respect. His youngest brother, Jeremiah, who was much
beloved for a disposition, frank, cheerful, and generous to excess, had
previously married a lady from New-York, with whom he obtained some
fortune—a thing then singular in that country. This lady, whom, in her
declining years, I knew very well, was the daughter of a wealthy and
distinguished family of French protestants. She was lively, sensible,
and well-informed.

Peter, the second, was married to a native of Albany. She died early,
but left behind two children, and the reputation of much worth, and
great attention to her conjugal and maternal duties. All these relations
lived with each other, and with the new-married lady, in habits of the
most cordial intimacy and perfect confidence. They seemed, indeed,
actuated by one spirit—having in all things similar views and similar
principles. Looking up to the colonel as the head of the family, whose
worth and affluence reflected consequence upon them all, they never
dreamt of envying either his superior manners, or his wife’s
attainments, which they looked upon as a benefit and ornament to the

Soon after their marriage they visited New-York, which they continued to
do once a year, in the earlier period of their marriage, on account of
their connexion in that city, and the pleasing and intelligent society
that was always to be met with there, both on account of its being the
seat of government, and the residence of the commander in chief on the
continent, who was then necessarily invested with considerable power and
privileges, and had, as well as the governor for the time being, a petty
court assembled round him. At a very early period, a better style of
manners, greater ease, frankness, and polish prevailed at New-York, than
in any of the neighbouring provinces. There was, in particular, a
Brigadier General Hunter, of whom I have heard Mrs. Schuyler talk a
great deal, as coinciding with her uncle and husband successively, in
their plans, either of defence or improvement. He, I think, was then
governor—and was as acceptable to the Schuylers for his colloquial
talents and friendly disposition, as estimable for his public spirit and
application to business, in which respects he was not equalled by any of
his successors. In his circle, the young couple were much distinguished.
There were, too, among those leading families, the Livingstons and
Rensselaers, friends connected with them both by blood and attachment.
There was, also, another distinguished family, to whom they were allied,
and with whom they lived in cordial intimacy; these were the De Laneys,
of French descent, but by subsequent intermarriages, blended with the
Dutch inhabitants. Of these there were many then in New-York, as will be
hereafter explained; but as these conscientious exiles were persons
allied in religion to the primitive settlers, and regular and
industrious in their habits, they soon mingled with and became a part of
that society, which was enlivened by their sprightly manners, and
benefited by the useful arts they brought along with them. In this mixed
society, which must have had attraction for young people of superior,
and in some degree, cultivated intellect, this well-matched pair took
great pleasure; and here, no doubt, was improved that liberality of mind
and manners, which so much distinguished them from the less enlightened
inhabitants of their native city. They were so much caressed in
New-York, and found so many charms in the intelligent and comparatively
polished society, of which they made a part, that they had at first some
thoughts of residing there. These, however, soon gave way to the
persuasions of the old colonel, with whom they principally resided till
his death, which happened in 1721, two years after. This union was
productive of all that felicity which might be expected to result from
entire congeniality, not of sentiment only, but of original
dispositions, attachments, and modes of living and thinking. He had been
accustomed to consider her as a child with tender endearment. She had
been used to look up to him from infancy, as the model of manly
excellence, and they drew knowledge and virtue from the same fountain;
in the mind of that respected parent whom they equally loved and


                              CHAP. XVII.

      The house and rural economy of the Flats—Birds and insects.

I HAVE already sketched a general outline of that pleasant home to which
the colonel was now about to bring his beloved.

Before I resume my narrative, I shall indulge myself in a still more
minute account of the premises, the mode of living, &c., which will
afford a more distinct idea of the country; all the wealthy and informed
people of the settlement living on a smaller scale, pretty much in the
same manner. Be it known, however, that the house I had so much delight
in recollecting, had no pretension to grandeur, and very little to
elegance. It was a large brick house, of two, or rather three stories,
(for there were excellent attics,) besides a sunk story, finished with
the most exact neatness. The lower floor had two spacious rooms, with
large, light closets: on the first there were three rooms, and in the
upper one four. Through the middle of the house was a very wide passage,
with opposite front and back doors, which in summer, admitted a stream
of air, peculiarly grateful to the languid senses. It was furnished with
chairs and pictures, like a summer parlour. Here the family usually sat
in hot weather, when there were no ceremonious strangers.

Valuable furniture, (though, perhaps, not very well chosen or assorted,)
was the favourite luxury of these people; and in all the houses I
remember, except those of the brothers, who were every way more liberal,
the mirrors, the paintings, the china, but above all, the state bed,
were considered as the family seraphim, secretly worshiped, and only
exhibited on very rare occasions. But in Colonel Schuyler’s family, the
rooms were merely shut up to keep the flies (which in that country are
an absolute nuisance) from spoiling the furniture. Another motive was,
that they might be pleasantly cool when opened for company. This house
had also two appendages, common to all those belonging to persons in
easy circumstances there. One was a large portico at the door, with a
few steps leading up to it, and floored like a room; it was open at the
sides, and had seats all around. Above was either a slight wooden roof,
painted like an awning, or a covering of lattice-work, over which a
transplanted wild vine spread its luxuriant leaves and numerous
clusters. These, though small, and rather too acid till sweetened by the
frost, had a beautiful appearance. What gave an air of liberty and
safety to these rustic porticos, which always produced in my mind a
sensation of pleasure that I know not how to define, was the number of
little birds domesticated there. For their accommodation there was a
small shelf built round, where they nestled, sacred from the touch of
slaves and children, who were taught to regard them as the good genii of
the place, not to be disturbed with impunity.

I do not recollect sparrows there, except the wood sparrow. These little
birds were of various kinds, peculiar to the country; but the one most
frequent and familiar, was a pretty little creature, of a bright
cinnamon colour, called a wren, though little resembling the one to
which we give that name, for it is more sprightly, and flies higher. Of
these and other small birds, hundreds gave and received protection
around this hospitable dwelling. The protection they received consisted
merely in the privilege of being let alone. That which they bestowed was
of more importance than any inhabitant of Britain can imagine. In these
new countries, where man has scarce asserted his dominion, life swarms
abundant on every side; the insect population is numerous beyond belief,
and the birds that feed on them are in proportion to their abundance. In
process of time, when their sheltering woods are cleared, all these
recede before their master, but not before his empire is fully
established. These minute aerial foes are more harassing than the
terrible inhabitants of the forest, and more difficult to expel. It is
only by protecting, and in some sort domesticating, these little winged
allies, who attack them in their own element, that the conqueror of the
lion and tamer of the elephant, can hope to sleep in peace, or eat his
meals unpolluted. While breakfasting or drinking tea in the airy
porticos, which was often the scene of these meals, birds were
constantly gliding over the table with a butterfly, grasshopper, or
cicada in their bills, to feed their young, who were chirping above.
These familiar inmates brushed by without ceremony, while the chirping
swallow, the martin, and other hirundines in countless numbers, darted
past in pursuit of this aerial population, while the fields resounded
with the ceaseless chirping of many gay insects, unknown to our more
temperate summers. These were now and then mingled with the animated and
not unpleasing cry of the tree-frog, a creature of that species, but of
a light, slender form, almost transparent, and of a lively green; it is
dry to the touch, and has not the dank moisture of its aquatic
relations; in short, it is a pretty, lively creature, with a singular
and cheerful note. This loud and not unpleasing insect-chorus, with the
swarms of gay butterflies, in constant motion, enliven scenes, to which
the prevalence of woods, rising “shade above shade,” on every side,
would otherwise give a still and solemn aspect. Several objects, which,
with us, are no small additions to the softened changes and endless
charms of rural scenery, it must be confessed, are wanting there. No
lark welcomes the sun that rises to gild the dark forests and gleaming
lakes of America; no mellow thrush or deep-toned blackbird warbles
through these awful solitudes, or softens the balmy hour of twilight

                  “The liquid language of the groves.”

Twilight itself, the mild and shadowy hour, so soothing to every
feeling, every pensive mind; that soft transition from day to night, so
dear to peace, so due to meditation, is here scarce known, at least only
to have its shortness regretted. No daisy hastens to meet the spring, or
embellishes the meads in summer. Here no purple heath exhales its
wholesome odour, or decks the arid waste with the chastened glow of its
waving bells. No bonny broom, such as enlivens the narrow vales of
Scotland with its gaudy bloom, nor flowering furze, with its golden
blossoms, defying the cold blasts of early spring, animates their sandy
wilds. There the white-blossomed sloe does not forerun the orchard’s
bloom, nor the pale primrose shelter its modest head beneath the tangled
shrubs. Nature, bountiful yet not profuse, has assigned her various
gifts to various climes, in such a manner, that none can claim a decided
pre-eminence; and every country has peculiar charms, which endear it to
the natives beyond any other. I have been tempted by lively
recollections into a digression, rather unwarrantable. To return:

At the back of the large house was a smaller and lower one, so joined to
it as to make the form of a cross. There one or two lower and smaller
rooms below, and the same number above, afforded a refuge to the family
during the rigours of winter, when the spacious summer rooms would have
been intolerably cold, and the smoke of prodigious wood fires would have
sullied the elegantly clean furniture. Here, too, was a sunk story,
where the kitchen was immediately below the eating parlour, and
increased the general warmth of the house. In summer, the negroes
resided in slight outer kitchens, where food was dressed for the family.
Those who wrought in the fields often had their simple dinner cooked
without, and ate it under the shade of a great tree. One room, I should
have said, in the greater house only, was opened for the reception of
company—all the rest were bedchambers for their accommodation, while the
domestic friends of the family occupied neat little bed-rooms in the
attics, or in the winter-house. This house contained no drawing-room;
that was an unheard-of luxury. The winter rooms had carpets—the lobby
had oil-cloth, painted in lozenges, to imitate blue and white marble.
The best bed-room was hung with family portraits, some of which were
admirably executed; and in the eating-room, which, by the by, was rarely
used for that purpose, were some fine scripture paintings:—that which
made the greatest impression on my imagination, and seemed to be
universally admired, was one of Esau, coming to demand the anticipated
blessings. The noble, manly figure of the luckless hunter, and the
anguish expressed in his comely though strong-featured countenance, I
shall never forget. The house fronted the river, on the brink of which,
under shades of elm and sycamore, ran the great road towards Saratoga,
Stillwater, and the northern lakes; a little, simple avenue of morello
cherry trees, inclosed with a white rail, led to the road and river, not
three hundred yards distant. Adjoining to this, on the south side, was
an inclosure, subdivided into three parts, of which the first was a
small hay field, opposite the south end of the house; the next, not so
long, a garden; and the third, by far the largest, an orchard. These
were surrounded by simple deal fences. Now let not the genius that
presides over pleasure-grounds, nor any of his elegant votaries, revolt
with disgust, while I mention the unseemly ornaments which were
exhibited on the stakes to which the deals of these same fences were
bound. Truly they consisted of the skeleton heads of horses and cattle
in as great numbers as could be procured, stuck upon the aforesaid
poles. The jaws are fixed on the pole, and the skull uppermost. The
wren, on seeing a skull thus placed, never fails to enter by the
orifice, which is too small to admit the hand of an infant, lines the
pericranium with small twigs and horse-hair, and there lays her eggs in
full security. It is very amusing to see the little creatures carelessly
go out and in at this aperture, though you should be standing
immediately beside it. Not satisfied with providing these singular
asylums for their feathered friends, the negroes never fail to make a
small, round hole in the crown of every old hat they can lay their hands
on, and nail it to the end of the kitchen, for the same purpose. You
often see in such a one, at once, thirty or forty of these odd little
domicils, with the inhabitants busily going out and in.

Besides all these salutary provisions for the domestic comfort of the
birds, there was, in clearing the way for their first establishment, a
tree always left in the middle of the back yard, for their sole
emolument; this tree being purposely pollarded at midsummer, when all
the branches were full of sap. Wherever there had been a branch, the
decay of the inside produced a hole, and every hole was the habitation
of a bird. These were of various kinds, some of which had a pleasing
note, but, on the whole, their songsters are far inferior to ours. I
rather dwell on these minutiæ, as they not only mark the peculiarities
of the country, but convey very truly the image of a people, not too
refined for happiness, which, in the process of elegant luxury, is apt
to die of disgust.


                              CHAP. XVIII.

       Description of Colonel Schuyler’s barn—the common, and its
                             various uses.

ADJOINING to the orchard, was the most spacious barn I ever beheld,
which I shall describe for the benefit of such of my readers as have
never seen a building constructed on a plan so comprehensive. This barn,
which, as will hereafter appear, answered many beneficial purposes,
besides those usually allotted for such edifices, was of a vast size, at
least an hundred feet long, and sixty wide. The roof rose to a very
great height in the midst, and sloped down till it came within ten feet
of the ground, when the walls commenced, which, like the whole of this
vast fabric, were formed of wood. It was raised three feet from the
ground, by beams resting on stone—and on these beams was laid, in the
middle of the building, a very massive oak floor. Before the door was a
large sill, sloping downwards, of the same materials. About twelve feet
in breadth, on each side of this capacious building, were divided off
for cattle; on one side ran a manger, at the above-mentioned distance
from the wall, the whole length of the building, with a rack above it;
on the others, were stalls for the other cattle, running also the whole
length of the building. The cattle and horses stood with their hinder
parts to the wall, and their heads projecting towards the threshing
floor. There was a prodigious large box or open chest in one side built
up, for holding the corn after it was threshed; and the roof, which was
very lofty and spacious, was supported by large cross beams; from one to
the other of these was stretched a great number of long poles, so as to
form a sort of open loft, on which the whole rich crop was laid up. The
floor of those parts of the barn, which answered the purposes of a
stable and cow-house, was made of thick slab deals, laid loosely over
the supporting beams; and the mode of cleaning those places, was by
turning the boards, and permitting the dung and litter to fall into the
receptacles left open below for the purpose; from thence, in spring,
they were often driven down to the river—the soil, in its original
state, not requiring the aid of manure. In the front[3] of this vast
edifice, there were prodigious folding doors, and two others that opened

Footnote 3:

  By the front is meant the gable-end, which contains the entrance.

Certainly never did cheerful rural toils wear a more exhilarating aspect
than while the domestics were lodging the luxuriant harvest in this
capacious repository. When speaking of the doors, I should have
mentioned that they were made in the gable ends; those in the back
equally large, to correspond with those in the front; while on each side
of the great doors were smaller ones, for the cattle and horses to
enter. Whenever the corn or hay was reaped or cut, and ready for
carrying home, which in that dry and warm climate, happened in a very
few days, a waggon, loaded with hay, for instance, was driven into the
midst of this great barn; loaded also with numberless large
grasshoppers, butterflies, and cicadas, who came along with the hay.
From the top of the waggon, this was immediately forked up into the loft
of the barn, in the midst of which was an open space left for the
purpose; and then the unloaded waggon drove, in rustic state, out of the
great door at the other end. In the mean time, every member of the
family witnessed or assisted in this summary process, by which the
building and thatching of stacks was at once saved; and the whole crop
and cattle were thus compendiously lodged under one roof.

The cheerfulness of this animated scene was much heightened by the quick
appearance and vanishing of the swallows, who twittered among their
high-built dwellings in the roof. Here, as in every other instance, the
safety of these domestic friends was attended to, and an abode provided
for them. In the front of this barn were many holes, like those of a
pigeon-house, for the accommodation of the martin—that being the species
to which this kind of home seemed most congenial; and, in the inside of
the barn, I have counted above fourscore at once. In the winter, when
the earth was buried deep in new-fallen snow, and no path fit for
walking in was left, this barn was like a great gallery, well suited for
that purpose, and furnished with pictures, not unpleasing to a simple
and contented mind. As you walked through this long area, looking up,
you beheld the abundance of the year treasured above you; on one side,
the comely heads of your snorting steeds presented themselves, arranged
in seemly order; on the other, your kine displayed their meeker visages;
while the perspective, on either, was terminated by heifers and fillies,
no less interesting. In the midst, your servants exercised the flail;
and even, while they threshed out the straw, distributed it to the
expectants on both sides; while the “liberal handful” was occasionally
thrown to the many-coloured poultry on the hill. Winter itself, never
made this abode of life and plenty cold or cheerless. Here you might
walk and view all your subjects, and their means of support, at one
glance, except, indeed, the sheep, for whom a large and commodious
building was erected very near the barn; the roof of which was furnished
with a loft, large enough to contain hay sufficient for their winter’s

Colonel Schuyler’s barn was by far the largest I have ever seen; but all
of them, in that country, were constructed on the same plan, furnished
with the same accommodation, and presented the same cheering aspect. The
orchard, as I formerly mentioned, was on the south side of the barn; on
the north, a little farther back towards the wood, which formed a dark
screen behind this smiling scene, there was an inclosure, in which the
remains of the deceased members of the family were deposited. A field of
pretty large extent, adjoining to the house on that side, remained
uncultivated and uninclosed; over it were scattered a few large
apple-trees, of a peculiar kind, the fruit of which was never
appropriated. This piece of level and productive land, so near the
family mansion, and so adapted to various and useful purposes, was never
made use of, but left open as a public benefit.

From the known liberality of this munificent family, all Indians or new
settlers, on their journey, whether they came by land or water, rested
here. The military, in passing, always formed a camp on this common, and
here the Indian wigwams were often planted; here all manner of
garden-stuff, fruit, and milk, were plentifully distributed to wanderers
of all descriptions. Every summer, for many years, there was an
encampment, either of regular or provincial troops, on this common; and
often, when the troops proceeded northward, a little colony of helpless
women and children, belonging to them, was left, in a great measure,
dependent on the compassion of these worthy patriarchs; for such the
brothers might be justly called.


                               CHAP. XIX.

    Military preparations—Disinterested conduct, the surest road to
                            of the Mohawks.

THE first year of the colonel’s marriage was chiefly spent in New-York,
and in visits to the friends of his bride, and other relations. The
following years they spent at home, surrounded daily by his brothers and
their families, and other relatives, with whom they maintained the most
affectionate intercourse. The colonel, however, (as I have called him by
anticipation,) had, at this time, his mind engaged by public duties of
the most urgent nature. He was a member of the colonial assembly; and,
by a kind of hereditary right, was obliged to support that character of
patriotism, courage, and public wisdom, which had so eminently
distinguished his father. The father of Mrs. Schuyler, too, had been
long mayor of Albany—at that time an office of great importance—as
including, within itself, the entire civil power, exercised over the
whole settlement, as well as the town, and having attached to it a sort
of patriarchal authority; for the people, little acquainted with
coercion, and by no means inclined to submit to it, had, however, a
profound reverence, as is generally the case in the infancy of society,
for the families of their first leaders, whom they looked up to, merely
as knowing them to possess superior worth, talent, and enterprise. In a
society, as yet uncorrupted, the value of this rich inheritance can only
be diminished by degradation of character, in the representative of a
family thus self-ennobled, especially if he be disinterested. This,
though apparently a negative quality, being the one of all others that,
combined with the higher powers of mind, most engages affection in
private and esteem in public life. This is a shield that blunts the
shafts which envy never fails to level at the prosperous, even in old
establishments, where, from the nature of things, a thousand
obstructions rise in the upward path of merit, and a thousand
temptations appear to mislead it from its direct road; and where the
rays of opinion are refracted by so many prejudices of contending
interests and factions. Still, if any charm can be found to fix that
fleeting phantom, popularity, this is it. It would be very honourable to
human nature, if this could be attributed to the pure love of virtue;
but alas! multitudes are not made up of the wise or the virtuous. Yet
the very selfishness of our nature inclines us to love and trust those
who are not likely to desire any benefit from us in return for those
they confer. Other vices may be, if not social, in some degree
gregarious; but even the avaricious hate avarice in all but themselves.

Thus inheriting unstained integrity, unbounded popularity, a cool,
determined spirit, and ample possessions, no man had fairer pretensions
to unlimited sway, in the sphere in which he moved, than the colonel;
but of this, no man could be less desirous. He was too wise and too
happy to solicit authority, and yet too public-spirited, and too
generous, to decline it, when any good was to be done, or any evil
resisted, from which no private benefit resulted to himself.

Young as his wife was, and much as she valued the blessing of their
union, and the pleasure of his society, she showed a spirit worthy of a
Roman matron, in willingly risking all her happiness, even in that early
period of her marriage, by consenting to his assuming a military
command, and leading forth the provincial troops against the common
enemy, who had now become more boldly dangerous than ever. Not content
with secretly stimulating the Indian tribes, who were their allies, and
enemies to the Mohawks, to acts of violence, the French Canadians, in
violation of existing treaties, began to make incursions on the
slightest pretexts. It was no common warfare in which the colonel was
about to engage: but the duties of entering on vigorous measures, for
the defence of the country, became not only obvious but urgent. No other
person but he, had influence enough to produce any cohesion among the
people of that district, or any determination, with their own arms, and
at their own cost, to attack the common enemy. As formerly observed,
this had hitherto been trusted to the five confederate Mohawk nations;
who, though still faithful to their old friends, had too much sagacity
and observation, and, indeed, too strong a native sense of moral
rectitude, to persuade their young warriors to go on venturing their
lives in defence of those, who, from their increased power and numbers,
were able to defend themselves with the aid of their allies. Add to
this, that their possessions were on all sides daily extending; and that
they, the Albanians, were carrying their trade for furs, &c., into the
deepest recesses of the forests, and towards those great lakes which the
Canadians were accustomed to consider as the boundaries of their
dominions; and where they had Indians whom they were at great pains to
attach to themselves, and to inspire against us and our allies.

Colonel Schuyler’s father had held the same rank in a provincial corps
formerly—but in his time, there was a profound peace in the district he
inhabited; though from his resolute temper and knowledge of public
business, and of the different Indian languages, he was selected to head
a regiment raised in the Jerseys and the adjacent bounds, for the
defence of the back frontiers of Pennsylvania, New-England, &c. Colonel
Philip Schuyler was the first who raised a corps in the interior of the
province of New-York, which was not only done by his personal influence,
but occasioned him a considerable expense, though the regiment was paid
by the province; the province also furnishing arms and military stores;
their service being, like that of all provincials, limited to the summer
half year.

The governor and chief commander came up to Albany, to view and approve
the preparations making for this interior war, and to meet the congress
of Indian sachems, who, on that occasion, renewed their solemn league
with their brother, the great king. Colonel Schuyler, being then the
person they most looked up to and confided in, was their proxy on this
occasion, in ratifying an engagement, to which they ever adhered with
singular fidelity; and mutual presents brightened the chain of amity, to
use their own figurative language.

The common and the barn, at the Flats, were fully occupied, and the
hospitable mansion, as was usual on all public occasions, overflowed.
There the general, his aides-de-camp, the sachems, and the principal
officers of the colonel’s regiment, were received; and those who could
not find room there, of the next class, were accommodated by Peter and
Jeremiah. On the common was an Indian encampment, and the barn and
orchard were full of the provincials. All these last, brought, as usual,
their own food; but were supplied by this liberal family, with every
production of the garden, dairy, and orchard.

While the colonel’s judgment was exercised in the necessary regulations
for this untried warfare, Mrs. Schuyler, by the calm fortitude she
displayed in this trying exigence—by the good sense and good breeding
with which she accommodated her numerous and various guests—and by those
judicious attentions to family concerns, which, producing order and
regularity through every department, without visible bustle and anxiety,
enable the mistress of a family to add grace and ease to hospitality,
showed herself worthy of her distinguished lot.


                               CHAP. XX.

 Account of a refractory warrior, and of the spirit which still pervaded
                          New-England provinces.

WHILE these preparations were going on, the general[4] was making every
effort of the neighbourhood to urge those who had promised assistance,
to come forward with their allotted quotas.

Footnote 4:


On the other side of the river, not very far from the Flats, lived a
person whom I shall not name, though his conduct was so peculiar and
characteristic of the times, that his anti-heroism is, on that sole
account, worth mentioning. This person lived in great security and
abundance, in a place like an earthly paradise, and scarcely knew what
it was to have an ungratified wish, having had considerable wealth left
to him; and from the simple and domestic habits of his life, had formed
no desires beyond it, unless, indeed, it were the desire of being
thought a brave man, which seemed his greatest ambition. He was strong,
robust, and an excellent marksman; talked loud, looked fierce, and
always expressed the utmost scorn and detestation of cowardice. The
colonel applied to him, that his name, and the names of such adherents
as he could bring, might be set down in the list of those who were to
bring their quota, against a given time, for the general defence: with
the request he complied. When the rendezvous came on, this talking
warrior had changed his mind, and absolutely refused to appear. The
general sent for him, and warmly expostulated on his breach of promise;
the bad example, and the disarrangement of plan which it occasioned. The
culprit spoke in a high tone, saying, very truly, that “the general was
possessed of no legal means of coercion; that every one went or staid as
they chose; and that his change of opinion, on that subject, rendered
him liable to no penalty whatever.” Tired of this sophistry, the enraged
general had recourse to club law, and seizing a cudgel, belaboured this
recreant knight most manfully, while several Indian sachems, and many of
his own countrymen and friends, coolly stood by—for the colonel’s noted
common was the scene of this assault. Our poor neighbour, (as he long
after became,) suffered this dreadful bastinado, unaided and unpitied;
and this example, and the consequent contempt under which he laboured,
(for he was ever after styled captain, and did not refuse the title,)
was said to have an excellent effect in preventing such retrograde
motions in subsequent campaigns.[5] The provincial troops, aided by the
faithful Mohawks, performed their duty with great spirit and
perseverance. They were, indeed, very superior to the ignorant,
obstinate, and mean-souled beings, who, in after times, brought the very
name of provincial troops into discredit; and were actuated by no single
motive but that of avoiding the legal penalty then affixed to
disobedience, and enjoying the pay and provisions allotted to them by
the province, or the mother country, I cannot exactly say which.
Afterwards, when the refuse of mankind were selected, like Falstaff’s
soldiers, and raised much in the same way, the New-York troops still
maintained their respectability. This superiority might, without
reproaching others, be in some measure accounted for from incidental
causes. The four New-England provinces were much earlier settled—assumed
sooner the forms of a civil community, and lived within narrower bounds;
they were more laborious; their fanaticism, which they brought from
England in its utmost fervour, long continued its effervescence, where
there were no pleasures, or indeed, lucrative pursuits, to detach their
minds from it: and long after that genuine spirit of piety, which,
however narrowed and disfigured, was still sincere, had, in a great
measure, evaporated, enough of the pride and rigour of bigotry remained,
to make them detest and despise the Indian tribes, as ignorant, heathen
savages. The tribes, indeed, who inhabited their district, had been so
weakened by unsuccessful warfare with the Mohawks, and were so every way
inferior to them, that after the first establishment of the colony, and
a few feeble attacks successfully repulsed, they were no longer enemies
to be dreaded, or friends to be courted. This had an unhappy effect with
regard to those provinces; and to the different relations in which they
stood with respect to the Indians, some part of the striking difference
in the moral and military character of these various establishments must
be attributed.

Footnote 5:

  Above thirty years after, when the writer of these pages lived with
  her family at the Flats, the hero of this little tale used very
  frequently to visit her father, a veteran officer, and being a great
  talker, war and politics were his incessant topics. There was no
  campaign or expedition proposed, but what he censured and decided on:
  proposing methods of his own, by which they might have been much
  better conducted; in short, Parolles, with his drum, was a mere type
  of our neighbour. Her father long wondered how kindly he took to him,
  and how a person of so much wealth and eloquence should dwell so
  obscurely, and shun all the duties of public life; till at length we
  discovered that he still loved to talk arrogantly of war and public
  affairs, and pitched upon him for a listener, as the only person he
  could suppose ignorant of his disgrace. Such is human nature! and so
  incurable is human vanity!

The people of New-England left the mother country, as banished from it
by what they considered oppression; came over foaming with religious and
political fury, and narrowly missed having the most artful and able of
demagogues, Cromwell himself, for their leader and guide. They might be
compared to burning lava, discharged by the force of internal
combustion, from the bosom of the commonwealth, while inflamed by
contending elements. This lava, every one acquainted with the
convulsions of nature must know, takes a long time to cool, and when at
length it is cooled, turns to a substance hard and barren, that long
resists the kindly influence of the elements, before its surface resumes
the appearance of beauty and fertility. Such were the almost literal
effects of political convulsions, aggravated by a fiery and intolerant
zeal for their own mode of worship, on these self-righteous colonists.


                               CHAP. XXI.

   Distinguishing characteristics of the New-York colonists, to what
                    and Palatines, their character.

BUT to return to the superior moral and military character of the
New-York populace; it was, in the first place, owing to a well-regulated
piety, less concerned about forms than essentials; next, to an influx of
other than the original settlers, which tended to render the general
system of opinion more liberal and tolerant. The French protestants,
driven from their native land by intolerant bigotry, had lived at home,
excluded alike from public employments and fashionable society. Deprived
of so many resources that were open to their fellow-subjects, and forced
to seek comfort in piety and concord, for many privations, self-command
and frugality had been, in a manner, forced upon them—consequently they
were not so vain or so volatile as to disgust their new associates;
while their cheerful tempers, accommodating manners, and patience under
adversity, were very prepossessing.

These additional inhabitants, being such as had suffered real and
extreme hardships for conscience-sake, from absolute tyranny and the
most cruel intolerance, rejoiced in the free exercise of a pure and
rational religion, and in the protection of mild and equitable laws, as
the first of human blessings, which privation had so far taught them to
value, that they thought no exertion too great to preserve them. I
should have formerly mentioned, that, besides the French refugees
already spoken of, during the earliest period of the establishment of
the British sovereignty in this part of the continent, a great number of
the protestants, whom the fury of war, and persecution on religious
accounts, had driven from the Palatinate, during the successful and
desolating period of the wars carried on against that unhappy country by
Lewis the Fourteenth, took refuge here. The subdued and contented
spirit, the simple and primitive manners, and frugal, industrious habits
of these genuine sufferers for conscience-sake, made them an acquisition
to any society which received them, and a most suitable infusion among
the inhabitants of this province, who, devoted to the pursuits of
agriculture and the Indian trade, which encouraged a wild, romantic
spirit of adventure, little relished those mechanical employments, or
that petty yet necessary traffic in shops, &c., to which part of every
regulated society must needs devote their attention. These civic toils
were left to those patient and industrious exiles; while the friendly
intercourse with the original natives, had strongly tinctured the first
colonists with many of their habits and modes of thinking. Like them,
they delighted in hunting; that image of war, which so generally, where
it is the prevalent amusement, forms the body to athletic force and
patient endurance, and the mind to daring intrepidity. It was not alone
the timorous deer or feeble hare that were the objects of their pursuit;
nor could they, in such an impenetrable country, attempt to rival the
fox in speed or subtlety. When they kept their “few sheep in the
wilderness,” the she-bear, jealous of her young, and the wolf, furious
for prey, were to be encountered for their protection. From these
allies, too, many who lived much among them, had learnt that fearless
adherence to truth, which exalts the mind to the noblest kind of
resolution. The dangers they were exposed to, of meeting wandering
individuals, or parties of hostile Indians, while traversing the woods
in their sporting or commercial adventures, and the necessity that
sometimes occurred of defending their families by their own personal
prowess, from the stolen irruptions of detached parties of those usually
called the French Indians, had also given their minds a warlike bent;
and as the boy was not uncommonly trusted at nine or ten years of age,
with a light fowling-piece, which he soon learned to use with great
dexterity, few countries could produce such dexterous marksmen, or
persons so well qualified for conquering those natural obstacles of
thick woods and swamps, which would at once baffle the most determined
European. It was not only that they were strong of limb, swift of foot,
and excellent marksmen—the hatchet was as familiar to them as the
musket; and an amateur, who had never cut wood but for his diversion,
could hew down a tree with a celerity that would astonish and abash a
professed wood-cutter in this country; in short, when means or arguments
could be used powerful enough to collect a people so uncontrolled and so
uncontrollable, and when headed by a leader whom they loved and trusted,
so much as they did Colonel Schuyler, a well-armed body of New-York
provincials had nothing to dread but an ague or an ambuscade, to both of
which they were much exposed on the banks of the lakes, and amidst the
swampy forests, through which they had to penetrate in pursuit of an
enemy, of whom they might say with the Grecian hero, that “they wanted
but daylight to conquer him.” This first essay in arms of those
provincials, under the auspices of their brave and generous leader,
succeeded beyond their hopes: this is all I can recollect of it. Of its
destination, I only know that it was directed against some of those
establishments which the French began to make within the British
boundaries. The expedition only terminated with the season. The
provincials brought home Canadian prisoners, who were kept on their
parole in the houses of the three brothers, and became afterwards their
friends; and the Five Nations brought home Indian prisoners, most of
whom they adopted, and scalps enough to strike awe into the adverse
nations, who were for a year or two afterwards pretty quiet.


                              CHAP. XXII.

 A child still-born—Adoption of children common in the province—Madame’s
                            visit to New-York.

MRS. SCHUYLER had contributed all in her power to forward this
expedition—but was probably hurt, either by the fatigue of receiving so
many friends, or the anxiety produced by parting with them under such
circumstances; for soon after the colonel’s departure, she was delivered
of a dead child, which event was followed by an alarming illness—but she
wished the colonel to be kept ignorant of it, that he might give his
undivided attention to the duties in which he was engaged. Providence,
which doubtless had singled out this benevolent pair to be the parents
of many who had no natural claim upon their affection, did not indulge
them with any succeeding prospects of a family of their own. This
privation, not a frequent one in this colony, did not chill the minds or
narrow the hearts of people, who, from this circumstance, found
themselves more at liberty to extend their beneficence, and enlarge that
circle which embraced the objects of their love and care. This, indeed,
was not singular, during that reign of natural feeling which preceded
the prevalence of artificial modes in this primitive district. The love
of offspring is certainly one of the strongest desires that the
uncorrupted mind forms to itself in a state of comparative innocence.
Affecting indifference on this subject, is the surest proof of a
disposition either callous, or led by extreme vanity to pretend
insensibility to the best feelings of our nature.

To a tie so exquisitely tender, the pledge and bond of connubial union;
to that bud of promised felicity, which always cheers with the fragrance
of hope, the noon-day of toil or care, and often supports with the rich
cordial of filial love and watchful duty, the evening of our decline,
what mind can be indifferent? No wonder the joys of paternity should be
highly relished, where they were so richly flavoured; where parents knew
not what it was to find a rebel or a rival in a child; first, because
they set the example of simplicity, of moderation, and of seeking their
highest joys in domestic life; next, because they quietly expected and
calmly welcomed the evening of life; and did not, by an absurd desire of
being young too long, inspire their offspring with a premature ambition
to occupy their place. What sacrifices have I not seen made to filial
piety! How many respectable, (though not young) maidens, who, without
pretending a dislike to marriage, have rejected men whom their hearts
approved, because they would not forsake, during her lifetime, a widowed
mother, whose sole comfort they were!

For such children, who that hopes to grow old, would not wish? a
consideration which the more polished manners of Europe teach us to
banish as far as possible from our minds. We have learned to check this
natural sentiment, by finding other objects for those faculties of our
minds, which nature intended to bless and benefit creatures born to love
us, and to enlarge our affections by exciting them. If this stream,
which so naturally inclines to flow downwards, happened to be checked in
its course for want of the usual channel, these adepts in the science of
happiness, immediately formed a new one, and liked their canal as well
as a river, because it was of their own making. To speak without a
metaphor, whoever wanted a child adopted one; love produced love, and
the grafted scion very often proved an ornament and defence to the
supporting stock; but then the scion was generally artless and grateful.
This is a part of the manners of my old friends, which I always remember
with delight; more particularly as it was the invariable custom to
select the child of a friend who had a numerous family. The very animals
are not devoid of that mixture of affection and sagacity, which suggests
a mode of supplying this great desideratum. Next to that prince of cats,
the famous cat of Whittington, I would place the cat recorded by Dr.
White, in his curious natural history, who, when deprived of her young,
sought a parcel of deserted leverets to suckle and to fondle. What an

The following year produced a suspension of hostilities between the
provinces and the Canadians. The colonel went to New-York to attend his
duty, being again chosen a member of the Colonial Assembly. Mrs.
Schuyler accompanied him; and being improved both in mind and manners
since her marriage, which, by giving her a more important part to act,
had called forth her powers, she became the centre of a circle, by no
means inelegant or uninformed; for society was there more various and
more polished than in any other part of the continent, both from the
mixture of settlers, formerly described, and from its being situated in
a province most frequently the seat of war, and consequently forming the
headquarters of the army, which, in point of the birth and education of
the candidates for promotion, was on a very different footing from what
it has been since. It was then a much narrower range, and the selection
more attended to. Unless a man, by singular powers of talent, fought his
way from the inferior rank, there was hardly an instance of a person
getting even a subaltern’s commission, whose birth was not at least
genteel, and who had not interest and alliances. There were not so many
lucrative places under government. The wide field of adventure, since
opened in the east, was scarcely known; a subaltern’s pay was more
adequate to the maintenance of a gentleman; and the noblest and most
respected families had no other way of providing for such younger
brothers, as were not bred to any learned profession, but by throwing
them into the army. As to morals, this did not, perhaps, much mend the
matter. These officers might, in some instances be thoughtless, and even
profligate, but they were seldom ignorant or low bred; and that rare
character, called a finished gentleman, was not unfrequently to be found
among the higher ranks of them—who had added experience, reading, and
reflection, to their original stock of talents and attainments.


                              CHAP. XXIII.

  Colonel Schuyler’s partiality to the military children successively
                character falsely charged with idleness.

IT so happened that a succession of officers, of the description
mentioned in the preceding chapter, were to be ordered upon the service
which I have been detailing; and whether in New-York or at home, they
always attached themselves particularly to this family, who, to the
attractions of good breeding, and easy, intelligent conversation, added
the power, which they pre-eminently possessed, of smoothing the way for
their necessary intercourse with the independent and self-righted
settlers, and instructing them in many things essential to promote the
success of the pursuits in which they were about to engage. It was one
of aunt Schuyler’s many singular merits, that, after acting for a time a
distinguished part in this comparatively refined society, where few were
so much admired and esteemed, she could return to the homely good sense
and primitive manners of her fellow-citizens at Albany, free from
fastidiousness and disgust. Few, indeed, without study or design, ever
better understood the art of being happy, and making others so. Being
gay is another sort of thing; gaiety, as the word is understood in
society, is too often assumed, artificial, and produced by such an
effort, that, in the midst of laughter, “the heart is indeed sad.” Very
different are the smiles that occasionally illume the placid countenance
of cheerful tranquillity. They are the emanations of a heart at rest; in
the enjoyment of that sunshine of the breast, which is set forever to
the restless votaries of mere amusement.

According to the laudable custom of the country, they took home a child,
whose mother had died in giving her birth, and whose father was a
relation of the colonel’s. This child’s name was either Schuyler or
Cuyler, I do not exactly remember which; but I remember her many years
after, as Mrs. Vander Poolen—when, as a comely, contented-looking
matron, she used to pay her annual visit to her beloved benefactress and
send her ample presents of such rural dainties as her abode afforded. I
have often heard her warm in her praises; saying, how useful, how
modest, and how affectionate she had been—and exulting in her
comfortable settlement, and the plain worth, which made her a blessing
to her family. From this time to her aunt’s death, above fifty years
afterwards, her house was never without one, but much oftener two
children, whom this exemplary pair educated with parental care and
kindness. And whenever one of their protégéss married out of the house,
which was generally at a very early age, she carried with her a female
slave, born and baptised in the house, and brought up with a thorough
knowledge of her duty, and an habitual attachment to her mistress,
besides the usual present of the furniture of a chamber, and a piece of
plate, such as a teapot, tankard, or some such useful matter, which was
more or less valuable, as the protégés was more or less beloved; for
though aunt Schuyler had great satisfaction from the characters and
conduct of all her adopted, there were, no doubt, degrees of merit among
them, of which she was better able to judge than if she had been their
actual mother.

There was now an interval of peace, which gave these philanthropists
more leisure to do good in their own way. They held a threefold band of
kindness in their hands, by which they led to the desirable purpose of
mutual advantage three very discordant elements, which were daily
becoming more difficult to mingle and to rule; and which yet were the
more dependent on each other for mutual comfort, from the very causes
which tended to disunite them.

In the first place, the Indians began to assume that unfavourable and
uncertain aspect, which it is the fate of man to wear in the first steps
of his progress from that state where he is a being at once warlike and
social, having few wants, and being able, without constant labour or
division of ranks, to supply them; where there is no distinction, save
that attained by superior strength of mind and body, and where there are
no laws, but those dictated by good sense, aided by experience, and
enforced by affection, this state of life may be truly called the reign
of the affections: the love of kindred and of country, ruling paramount,
unrivalled by other passions, all others being made subservient to
these. Vanity, indeed, was in some degree flattered, for people wore
ornaments, and were at no small pains to make them. Pride existed—but
was differently modified from what we see it; every man was proud of the
prowess and achievements of his tribe collectively; of his personal
virtues he was not proud, because we excel but by comparison; and he
rarely saw instances of the opposite vices in his own nation, and looked
on others with unqualified contempt.

When any public benefit was to be obtained, or any public danger to be
averted, their mutual efforts were all bent to one end; and no one knew
what it was to withhold his utmost aid, nor indeed could, in that stage
of society, have any motive for doing so. Hence, no mind being
contracted by selfish cares, the community were but as one large family,
who enjoyed or suffered together. We are accustomed to talk, in parrot
phrase, of indolent savages; and, to be sure, in warm climates, and
where the state of man is truly savage, that is to say, unsocial, void
of virtue, and void of comforts, he is certainly an indolent being: but
that individual, in a cold climate, who has tasted the sweets of social
life—who knows the wants that arise from it—who provides for his
children in their helpless state—and where taste and ingenuity are so
much improved, that his person is not only clothed with warm and seemly
apparel, but decorated with numerous and not inelegant ornaments, which
from the scarcity and simplicity of his tools, he has no ready or easy
mode of producing. When he has not only found out all these wants, which
he has no means of supplying but by his individual strength, dexterity,
and ingenuity, industry must be added, ere they can be all regularly
gratified. Very active and industrious, in fact, the Indians were in
their original state; and when we take it into consideration, that
beside all these occupations, together with their long journeys, wars,
and constant huntings and fishing, their leisure was occupied not only
by athletic but studious games, at which they played for days together
with unheard-of eagerness and perseverance; it will appear they had very
little of that lounging time, for which we are so apt to give them
credit. Or if a chief, occasionally after fatigue, of which we can form
no adequate idea, lay silent in the shade, those frisking Frenchmen, who
have given us most details concerning them, were too restless themselves
to subdue their skipping spirits to the recollection, that a Mohawk had
no study or arm-chair wherein to muse and cogitate; and that his schemes
of patriotism, his plans of war, and his eloquent speeches, were all
like the meditations of Jacques, formed “under the greenwood tree.”
Neither could any man lounge on his sofa, while half a dozen others were
employed in shearing the sheep, preparing the wool, weaving and making
his coat, or in planting the flax for his future linen, and flaying the
ox for his future shoes; were he to do all this himself, he would have
little leisure for study or repose. And all this and more the Indian
did, under other names and forms; so that idleness, with its gloomy
followers, ennui and suicide, were unknown among this truly active
people; yet that there is a higher state of society cannot be denied;
nor can it be denied that the intermediate state is a painful and
enfeebling one.

Man, in a state of nature, is taught by his more civilized brethren a
thousand new wants before he learns to supply one. Thence barter takes
place; which, in the first stage of progression, is universally fatal to
the liberty, the spirit, and the comforts of an uncivilized people.

In the east, where the cradle of our infant nature was appointed, the
clime was genial, its productions abundant, and its winters only
sufficient to consume the surplus, and give a welcome variety to the
seasons. There man was either a shepherd or a hunter, as his disposition
led—and that, perhaps, in the same family. The meek spirit of Jacob
delighted in tending his father’s flocks; while the more daring and
adventurous Esau traced the wilds of Mount Seir, in pursuit both of the
fiercer animals who waged war upon the fold, and the more timorous, who
administered to the luxury of the table.

The progress of civilization was here gradual and gentle; and the
elegant arts seem to have gone hand in hand with the useful ones. For we
read of bracelets and ear-rings sent as tokens of love, and images
highly valued and coveted, while even agriculture seemed in its infancy.


                              CHAP. XXIV.

 Progress of civilization in Europe—Northern nations instructed in the
                arts of life by those they had subdued.

POPULATION extending to the milder regions of Europe, brought
civilization along with it, so that it is only among the savages, (as we
call our ancestors) of the north, that we can trace the intermediate
state I have spoken of. Amongst them, one regular gradation seems to
have taken place; they were first hunters and then warriors. As they
advanced in their knowledge of the arts of life, and acquired a little
property, as much of pastoral pursuits as their rigorous climate would
allow, without the aid of regular agriculture, mingled with their
wandering habits. But, except in a few partial instances, from hunters
they became conquerors; the warlike habits acquired from that mode of
life, raising their minds above patient industry, and teaching them to
despise the softer arts that embellish society. In fine, their usual
process was to pass to civilization through the medium of conquest. The
poet says,

          “With noble scorn the first fam’d Cato viewed,
           Rome learning arts from Greece, which she subdued.”

The surly censor might have spared his scorn, for doubtless science, and
the arts of peace, were by far the most valuable acquisitions resulting
from their conquest of that polished and ingenious people. But when the
savage hunters of the north became too numerous to subsist on their deer
and fish, and too warlike to dread the conflict with troops more
regularly armed, they rushed down, like a cataract, on their enfeebled
and voluptuous neighbours; destroyed the monuments of art, and seemed,
for a time, to change the very face of nature. Yet dreadful as were the
devastations of this flood, let forth by divine vengeance to punish and
to renovate, it had its use in sweeping away the hoarded mass of
corruption, with which the dregs of mankind had polluted the earth. It
was an awful but a needful process, which, in some form or other, is
always renewed when human degeneracy has reached its ultimatum. The
destruction of these feeble beings, who, lost to every manly and
virtuous sentiment, crawl about the rich property which they have not
sense to use worthily, or spirit to defend manfully, may be compared to
the effort nature makes to rid herself of the noxious brood of wasps and
slugs, cherished by successive mild winters. A dreadful frost comes; man
suffers and complains; his subject animals suffer more, and all his
works are for a time suspended: but this salutary infliction purifies
the air, meliorates the soil, and destroys millions of lurking enemies,
who would otherwise have consumed the productions of the earth, and
deformed the face of nature. In these barbarous irruptions, the
monuments of art, statues, pictures, temples, and palaces, seem to be
most lamented. From age to age, the virtuosi of every country have
re-echoed to each other their feeble plaints over the lost works of art,
as if that had been the heaviest sorrow in the general wreck—and as if
the powers that produced them had ceased to exist. It is over the
defaced image of the divine author, and not merely the mutilated
resemblance of his creatures, that the wise and virtuous should lament!
We are told that in Rome there are as many statues as men: had all these
lamented statues been preserved, would the world be much wiser or
happier? A sufficient number remain as models to future statuaries, and
memorials of departed art and genius. Wealth, directed by taste and
liberality, may be much better employed in calling forth, by due
encouragement, that genius which doubtless exists among our
contemporaries, than in paying exorbitantly the vender of fragments.

           “Mind, mind alone, bear witness, earth and Heav’n,
            The living fountain in itself contains
            Of beauteous and sublime.”

And what has ind achieved, that, in a favourable conjuncture, it may not
again aspire to? The lost arts are ever the theme of classical
lamentation; but the great and real evil was the loss of the virtues
which protected them; of courage, fortitude, honour, and patriotism: in
short, of the whole manly character. This must be allowed, after the
dreadful tempest of subversion was over, to have been in some degree
restored in the days of chivalry: and it is equally certain that the
victors learnt from the vanquished many of the arts that support life,
and all those which embellish it. When their manners were softened by
the aid of a mild and charitable religion, this blended people assumed
that undefined power, derived from superior valour and wisdom, which has
so far exalted Europe over all the regions of the earth. Thus, where a
bold and warlike people subdue a voluptuous and effeminate one, the
result is, in due time, an improvement of national character. In similar
climes and circumstances to those of the primeval nations in the other
hemisphere, the case has been very different. There, too, the hunter, by
the same gradation, became a warrior; but first allured by the
friendship which sought his protection; then repelled by the art that
coveted and encroached on his territories; and lastly by the avarice
which taught him new wants, and then took an undue advantage of them;
they neither wished for our superfluities, nor envied our mode of life;
nor did our encroachments much disturb them, as they receded into their
trackless coverts as we approached from the coast. But though they
scorned our refinements; and though our government, and all the
enlightened minds among us, dealt candidly and generously with all such
as were not set on by our enemies to injure us, the blight of European
vices, the mere consequence of private greediness and fraud, proved
fatal to our very friends. As I formerly observed, the nature of the
climate did not admit of the warriors passing through the medium of a
shepherd’s life to the toils of agriculture. The climate, though
extremely warm in summer, was so severe in winter, and that winter was
so long, that it required no little labour to secure the food for the
animals which were to be maintained; and no small expense, in that
country, to procure the implements necessary for the purposes of
agriculture. In other countries, when a poor man has not wherewithal to
begin farming, he serves another, and the reward of his toil enables him
to set up for himself. No such resource was open to the Indians, had
they even inclined to adopt our modes. No Indian ever served another, or
received assistance from any one except his own family. It is
inconceivable, too, what a different kind of exertion of strength it
requires to cultivate the ground, and to endure the fatigues of the
chace, long journeys, &c. To all that induces us to labour they were
indifferent. When a governor of New-York was describing to an Indian the
advantages that some one would derive from such and such possessions;
“Why,” said he, with evident surprise, “should any man desire to possess
more than he uses?” More appeared, to his untutored sense, an

I have already observed how much happier they considered their manner of
living than ours; yet their intercourse with us daily diminished their
independence, their happiness, and even their numbers. In the New World,
this fatality has never failed to follow the introduction of European
settlers; who, instead of civilizing and improving, slowly consume and
waste—where they do not, like the Spaniards, absolutely destroy and
exterminate the natives. The very nature of even our most friendly mode
of dealing with them, was pernicious to their moral welfare; which,
though too late, they well understood, and could as well explain.
Untutored man, in beginning to depart from that life of exigences, in
which the superior acuteness of his senses, his fleetness and dexterity
in the chace, are his chief dependence, loses so much of all this before
he can become accustomed to, or qualified for our mode of procuring food
by patient labour, that nothing can be conceived more enfeebled and
forlorn, than the state of the few detached families remaining of
vanished tribes, who, having lost their energy, and even the wish to
live in their own manner, were slowly and reluctantly beginning to adopt
ours. It was like that suspension of life which takes place in the
chrysalis of insects, while in their progress towards a new state of
being. Alas! the indolence with which we reproach them, was merely the
consequence of their commercial intercourse with us; and the fatal
passion for strong liquors which resulted from it. As the fabled
enchanter, by waving his magic wand, chains up at once the faculties of
his opponents, and renders strength and courage useless; the most
wretched and sordid trader, possessed of this master-key to the
appetites and passions of these hard-fated people, could disarm those he
dealt with of all their resources, and render them dependent—nay,
dependent on those they scorned and hated. The process was simple:
first, the power of sending, by mimic thunder, an unseen death to a
distant foe, which filled the softer inhabitants of the southern regions
with so much terror, was here merely an object of desire and emulation;
and so eagerly did they adopt the use of fire-arms, that they soon
became less expert in using their own missile weapons. They could still
throw the tomahawk with such an unerring aim, that, though it went
circling through the air towards its object, it never failed to reach
it. But the arrows, on which they had formerly so much depended, were
now considered merely as the weapons of boys, and only directed against

Thus was one strong link forged in the chain of dependence; next, liquor
became a necessary, and its fatal effects who can detail? But to make it
still clearer, I have mentioned the passion for dress, in which all the
pride and vanity of this people was centered. In former days, this had
the best effect, in being a stimulus to industry. The provision
requisite for making a splendid appearance at the winter meetings, for
hunting and the national congress, occupied the leisure hours of the
whole summer. The beaver skins of the last year’s hunting were to be
accurately dressed, and sewed together, to form that mantle which was so
much valued, and as necessary to their consequence as the pelisse of
sables is to that of an Eastern bashaw. A deer skin, or that of a bear
or beaver, had their stated price. The boldest and most expert hunter,
had most of these commodities to spare, and was therefore most
splendidly arrayed. If he had a rival, it was in him whose dexterous
ingenuity in fabricating the materials of which his own dress was
composed, enabled him to vie with the hero of the chase.

Thus superior elegance in dress was not, as with us, the distinction of
the luxurious and effeminate, but the privilege and reward of superior
courage and industry; and became an object worthy of competition. Thus
employed, and thus adorned, the sachem or his friends found little time
to indulge the stupid indolence we have been accustomed to impute to

Another arduous task remains uncalculated. Before they became dependent
on us for the means of destruction, much time was consumed in forming
their weapons; in the construction of which no less patience and
ingenuity were exercised than in that of their ornaments; and those,
too, were highly embellished, and made with great labour out of flints,
pebbles, and shells. But all this system of employment was soon
overturned by their late acquaintance with the insidious arts of Europe,
to the use of whose manufactures they were insensibly drawn in, first by
their passion for fire-arms, and finally, by their fatal appetite for
liquor. To make this more clear, I shall insert a dialogue, such as, if
not literally, at least in substance, might pass betwixt an Indian
warrior and a trader.


                               CHAP. XXV.

  Means by which the independence of the Indians was first diminished.

_Indian_—BROTHER, I am come to trade with you; but I forewarn you to be
more moderate in your demands than formerly.

_Trader_—Why, brother, are not my goods of equal value with those you
had last year?

_Indian_—Perhaps they may; but mine are more valuable because more
scarce. The Great Spirit, who has withheld from you strength and ability
to provide food and clothing for yourselves, has given you cunning and
art to make guns and provided scaura;[6] and by speaking smooth words to
simple men, when they have swallowed madness, you have, by little and
little, purchased their hunting grounds, and made them corn lands. Thus
the beavers grow more scarce, and deer fly farther back; yet after I
have reserved skins for my mantle, and the clothing of my wife, I will
exchange the rest.

_Trader_—Be it so, brother: I came not to wrong you, or take your furs
against your will. It is true, the beavers are few, and you go further
for them. Come, brother, let us deal fair first, and smoke friendly
afterwards. Your last gun cost fifty beaver skins, you shall have this
for forty—and you shall give marten and raccoon skins in the same
proportion for powder and shot.

_Indian_—Well, brother, that is equal. Now for two silver bracelets,
with long, pendent ear-rings of the same, such as you sold to Cardarani,
in the sturgeon month,[7] last year. How much will you demand?

Footnote 6:

  Scaura is the Indian name for rum.

_Trader_—The skins of two deer for the bracelets, and those of two fawns
for the ear-rings.

_Indian_—That is a great deal; but wampum grows scarce, and silver never
rusts. Here are the skins.

_Trader_—Do you buy any more? Here are knives, hatchets, and beads of
all colours.

_Indian_—I will have a knife and a hatchet, but must not take more: the
rest of the skins will be little enough to clothe the women and
children, and buy wampum. Your beads are of no value; no warrior who has
slain a wolf will wear them.[8]

_Trader_—Here are many things good for you, which you have not skins to
buy; here is a looking-glass, and here is a brass kettle, in which your
woman may boil her maize, her beans, and above all, her maple-sugar.
Here are silver brooches, and here are pistols for the youths.

_Indian_—The skins I can spare will not purchase them.

_Trader_—Your will determine, brother; but next year you will want
nothing but powder and shot, having already purchased your gun and
ornaments. If you will purchase from me a blanket to wrap round you, a
shirt and blue stroud for under garments for yourself and your woman,
and the same for leggings, this will pass the time, and save you the
great labour of dressing the skins, making the thread, &c. for your
clothing, which will give you more fishing and shooting time in the
sturgeon and bear months.

Footnote 7:

  The Indians appropriate a month to catch fish or animals, which is at
  that time, the predominant object of pursuit: as the bear month, the
  beaver month, &c.

Footnote 8:

  Indians have a great contempt, comparatively, for the beads we send
  them, which they consider as only fit for those plebeians who cannot
  by their exertions, win any better. They estimate them, compared with
  their own wampum, as we do pearls compared with paste.

_Indian_—But the custom of my fathers.

_Trader_—You will not break the custom of your fathers by being thus
clad for a single year. They did not refuse those things which were
offered to them.

_Indian_—For this year, brother, I will exchange my skins; in the next,
I shall provide apparel more befitting a warrior. One pack alone I will
reserve, to dress for a future occasion. The summer must not find a
warrior idle.

The terms being adjusted, and the bargain concluded, the trader thus
shows his gratitude for liberal dealing.

_Trader_—Corlaer has forbid bringing scaura to steal away the wisdom of
the warriors; but we white men are weak and cold; we bring kegs for
ourselves, lest death arise from the swamps. We will not sell scaura,
but you shall taste some of ours in return for the venison with which
you have feasted us.

_Indian_—Brother, we will drink moderately.

A bottle was then given to the warrior, by way of present, which he was
advised to keep long, but found it irresistible. He soon returned with
the reserved pack of skins, earnestly urging the trader to give him
beads, silver brooches, and above all, scaura, to their full amount.
This, with much affected reluctance at parting with the private stock,
was at last yielded. The warriors now, after giving loose for a while to
frantic mirth, began the war-whoop, made the woods resound with
infuriated howlings; and having exhausted their dear-bought draught,
probably determined, in contempt of that probity, which at all other
times they rigidly observed, to plunder the instruments of their
pernicious gratification. He, well aware of the consequences, took care
to remove himself and his goods to some other place, and a renewal of
the same scene ensued. Where, all this time, were the women, whose
gentle counsels might have prevented these excesses? Alas! unrestrained
by that delicacy which is certainly one of the best fruits of
refinement, they shared in them, and sunk sooner under them. A long and
deep sleep generally succeeded, from which they awoke in a state of
dejection and chagrin, such as no Indian had ever experienced under any
other circumstances. They felt as Milton describes Adam and Eve to have
done after their transgression. Exhausted and forlorn, and stung with
the consciousness of error and dependence, they had neither the means
nor the desire of exercising their wonted summer occupations with
spirit. Vacancy produced languor, and languor made them wish for the
potion which gave temporary cheerfulness.[9] They carried their fish to
the next fort or habitation to barter for rum. This brought on days of
frenzy, succeeded by torpor. When again roused by want of exertion, they
saw the season passing without the usual provision, and by an effort of
persevering industry, tried to make up for past negligence; and then
worn out by exertion, sunk into supine indolence, till the approach of
winter called them to hunt the bear; and the arrival of that, (their
busy season,) urged on their distant excursions in pursuit of deer. Then
they resumed their wonted character, and became what they used to be;
but conscious that acquired tastes and wants, which they had not
themselves the power of supplying, would throw them again on the traders
for clothing, &c. they were themselves out-straining every sinew to
procure enough of peltry to answer their purpose, and to gratify their
newly-acquired appetites. Thus the energy, both of their characters and
constitutions, was gradually undermined—and their numbers as effectually
diminished, as if they had been wasted by war.

Footnote 9:

  From Peter Schuyler, brother to the colonel, I have heard many such

The small-pox was also so fatal to them, that whole tribes on the upper
lakes have been entirely extinguished by it. Those people being in the
habit of using all possible means of closing the pores of the skin, by
painting and anointing themselves with bears’ grease, to defend them
against the extremity of cold, to which their manner of life exposed
them; and not being habitually subject to any cutaneous disease, the
small-pox rarely rises upon them; from which it may be understood how
little chance they had of recovering. All this I heard aunt Schuyler
relate, whose observations and reflections I merely detail.


                              CHAP. XXVI.

 Peculiar attractions of the Indian mode of life—Account of a settler who
                      resided some time among them.

IN this wild liberty, habits of probity, mutual confidence, and constant
variety, there was an undefinable charm, that while they preserved their
primitive manners, wrought in every one who dwelt for any time amongst

I have often heard my friend speak of an old man, who, being carried
away in his infancy by some hostile tribe who had slain his parents, was
rescued very soon after by a tribe of friendly Indians, who, from
motives of humanity, resolved to bring him up among themselves, that he
might, in their phrase, “learn to bend the bow, and speak truth.” When
it was discovered, some years after, that he was still living, his
relations reclaimed him, and the community wished him to return and
inherit his father’s lands, now become more considerable. The Indians
were unwilling to part with their protégé, and he was still more
reluctant to return. This was considered as a bad precedent; the early
settlers having found it convenient in several things regarding hunting,
food, &c. to assimilate in some degree with the Indians; and the young
men, occasionally, at that early period, joined their hunting and
fishing parties. It was considered as a matter of serious import to
reclaim this young alien, lest others should be lost to the community
and to their religion, by following his example. With difficulty they
forced him home—where they never could have detained him, had they not
carefully and gradually inculcated into his mind the truths of
christianity. To those instructions, even his Indian predilections
taught him to listen; for it was the religion of his fathers, and
venerable to him as such: still, however, his dislike of our manners was
never entirely conquered, nor was his attachment to his foster fathers
ever much diminished. He was possessed of a very sound intellect, and
used to declaim with the most vehement eloquence, against our crafty and
insidious encroachments on our old friends. His abhorrence of the petty
falsehoods to which custom has too well reconciled us, and those little
artifices which we all occasionally practise, rose to a height fully
equal to that felt by Gulliver. Swift and this other misanthrope, though
they lived at the same time, could not have had any intercourse, else
one might have supposed the invectives which he has put into the mouth
of Gulliver, were borrowed from this demi-savage; whose contempt and
hatred of selfishness, meanness, and duplicity, were expressed in
language worthy of the dean: insomuch, that years after I had heard of
this singular character, I thought, on reading Gulliver’s asperities,
after returning from Houyhnhnmland, that I had met my old friend again.
One really does meet with characters that fiction would seem too bold in
portraying. This original had an aversion to liquor, which amounted to
abhorrence; being embittered by his regret at the mischiefs resulting
from it to his old friends, and rage at the traders for administering
the means of depravity. He could never bear any seasoning to his food,
and despised luxury in all its forms.

For all the growing evils I have been describing, there was only one
remedy, which the sagacity of my friend and her other self soon
discovered; and their humanity as well as principle, led them to try all
possible means of administering. It was the pure light and genial
influence of christianity alone, that could cheer and ameliorate the
state of these people, now, from a concurrence of circumstances scarcely
to be avoided in the nature of things, deprived of the independence
habitual to their own way of life, without acquiring in its room any of
those comforts which sweeten ours. By gradually and gently unfolding to
them the views of a happy futurity, and the means by which depraved
humanity was restored to a participation of that blessing; pride,
revenge, and the indulgence of every excess of passion or appetite being
restrained by the precepts of a religion ever powerful where it is
sincere; their spirits would be brought down from the fierce pride which
despises improvement, to adopt such of our modes as would enable them to
incorporate in time with our society, and procure for themselves a
comfortable subsistence, in a country no longer adapted to supply the
wants of the houseless rangers of the forest.

The narrow policy of many looked coldly on this benevolent project.
Hunters supplied the means of commerce, and warriors those of defence;
and it was questionable whether a Christian Indian would hunt or fight
as well as formerly. This, however, had no power with those in whom
christianity was any thing more than a name. There were already many
christian Indians; and it was very encouraging that not one, once
converted, had ever forsaken the strict profession of their religion, or
ever, in a single instance, abandoned themselves to the excesses so
pernicious to their unconverted brethren. Never was the true spirit of
christianity more exemplified than in the lives of those comparatively
few converts, who, about this time, amounted to more than two hundred.
But the tender care and example of the Schuylers, co-operating with the
incessant labours of a judicious and truly apostolic missionary, some
years after, greatly augmented their numbers in different parts of the
continent; and to this day, the memory of David Brainard, the faithful
labourer alluded to, is held in veneration in those districts that were
blessed with his ministry. He did not confine himself to one people or
province, but travelled from place to place, to disseminate the gospel
to new converts, and confirm and cherish the truths already planted. The
first foundation of that church had, however, as I formerly mentioned,
been laid long ago; and the examples of piety, probity, and benevolence,
set by the worthies at the Flats, and a few more, were a very necessary
comment on the doctrines to which their assent was desired.

The great stumbling block which the missionaries had to encounter with
the Indians, (who, as far as their knowledge went, argued with great
acuteness and logical precision,) was the small influence which our
religion seemed to have over many of its professors. “Why,” said they,
“if the book of truth, that shows the way to happiness, and bids all men
do justice, and love one another, is given both to Corlaer, and
Onnonthio,[10] does it not direct them in the same way? Why does
Onnonthio worship, and Corlaer neglect, the mother of the blessed one?
And why do the missionaries blame those for worshipping things made with
hands, while the priests tell the praying nation[11] that Corlaer and
his people have forsaken the worship of his forefathers: besides, how
can people, who believe that God and good spirits view and take an
interest in all their actions, cheat and dissemble, drink and fight,
quarrel and backbite, if they believe the great fire burns for those who
do such things? If we believed what you say, we should not exchange so
much good for wickedness, to please an evil spirit, who would rejoice at
our destruction.”

Footnote 10:

  Corlaer was the title given by them to the governor of New-York; and
  was figuratively used for the governed, and Onnonthio for those of
  Canada, in the same manner.

Footnote 11:

  Praying nation, was a name given to a village of Indians near
  Montreal, who professed the catholic faith.

To this reasoning it was not easy to oppose any thing that could carry
conviction to untutored people, who spoke from observation and the
evidence of the senses; to which could only be opposed scripture texts,
which avail not till they are believed; and abstract reasoning,
extremely difficult to bring to the level of an unlearned understanding.
Great labour and perseverance wrought on the minds of a few, who felt
conviction, as far as it is to be ascribed to human agency, flowing from
the affectionate persuasion of those whom they visibly beheld earnest
for their eternal welfare: and when a few had thus yielded,[12] the
peace and purity of their lives, and the sublime enjoyment they seemed
to derive from the prospects their faith opened into futurity, was an
inducement to others to follow the same path. This abstractedly from
religious considerations of endless futurity, is the true and only way
to civilization; and to the blending together the old and new
inhabitants of these regions. National pride, rooted prejudices,
ferocity, and vindictive hatred, all yield before a change that new
moulds the whole soul, and furnishes man with new fears and hopes, and
new motives for action.

Footnote 12:

  Some of them made such a proficiency in practical religion, as ought
  to shame many of us who boast the illuminating aids of our native
  christianity. Not one of these Indians have been concerned in those
  barbarous irruptions which deluged the frontiers of our south-western
  provinces with the blood of so many innocents of every age and sex. At
  the commencement of these ravages, they flew into the settlements, and
  put themselves under the protection of government. The Indians no
  sooner became christians, than they openly professed their loyalty to
  King George; and therefore, to contribute to their conversion, was as
  truly politic as nobly christian.


                              CHAP. XXVII.

 Indians only to be attached by being converted—The abortive expedition
              of Mons. Barre—Ironical sketch of an Indian.

UPON the attachment the Indians had to our religion, was grafted the
strongest regard to our government, and the greatest fidelity to the
treaties made with us. I shall insert a specimen of Indian eloquence,
illustrative of this last; not that I consider it by any means so rich,
impressive, or sublime as many others that I could quote, but as
containing a figure of speech rarely to be met with among savage people;
and supposed, by us, incompatible with the state of intellectual
advancement to which they have attained. I mean a fine and well
supported irony. About the year 1686, Mons. Barre, the commander of the
French forces in Canada, made a kind of inroad, with a warlike design,
into the precincts claimed by our Mohawk allies; the march was tedious,
the French fell sick, and many of their Indians deserted them. The wily
commander, finding himself unequal to the meditated attack, and that it
would be unsafe to return through the lakes and woods, while in hourly
danger of meeting enemies so justly provoked, sent to invite the sachems
to a friendly conference; and when they met, asserted in an artful
speech that he and his troops had come with the sole intention of
settling old grievances, and smoking the calumet of peace with them. The
Indians, not imposed on by such pretences, listened patiently to his
speech, and then made the answer which the reader will find in the
notes.[13] It is to be observed, that whoever they considered as the
ruling person for the time being in Canada, they styled Onnonthio; while
the governor of New-York they always called Corlaer.

Footnote 13:

  “Onnonthio, I honour you; and all the warriors who are with me
  likewise honour you. Your interpreter has finished his speech, I begin
  mine. My words make haste to reach your ears; hearken to them,
  Yonnondio. You must have believed, when you left Quebec, that the sun
  had burnt up all the forests which made our country so inaccessible to
  the French; or that the lakes had so far overflowed their banks, that
  they had surrounded our castles, and that it was impossible for us to
  get out of them. Yes, Yonnondio, surely you have dreamt so: and the
  curiosity of seeing so great a wonder has brought you so far. Now you
  are undeceived, since I and the warriors here present, are come to
  assure you that the Hurons, Onondagoes, and Mohawks are yet alive. I
  thank you, in their name, for bringing back into their country the
  calumet, which your predecessor received from their hands. It was
  happy for you that you left underground that murdering hatchet, which
  has been so dyed with the blood of the French. Hear, Onnondio, I do
  not sleep; I have my eyes open: and the sun which enlightens me,
  discovers to me a great captain, at the head of his soldiers, who
  speaks as if he were dreaming. He says that he only came to the lake
  to smoke out the great calumet with the Five Nations; but Connaratego
  says that he sees the contrary: that it was to knock them on the head,
  if sickness had not weakened the arms of the French. I see Onnonthio
  raving in a camp of sick men, whose lives the Great Spirit has saved
  by inflicting this sickness upon them. Hear, Onnonthio, our women had
  taken their clubs; our children and old men had carried their bows and
  arrows into the heart of your camp, if our warriors had not disarmed
  them, and kept them back, when your messenger came to our castles. It
  is done, and I have said it. Hear, Yonnondio, we plundered none of the
  French, but those who carried guns, powder, and ball to the wolf and
  elk tribes, because those arms might have cost us our lives. Herein we
  follow the example of the Jesuits, who stave all the kegs of rum
  brought to the castles where they are, lest the drunken Indians should
  knock them on the head. Our warriors have not beavers enough to pay
  for all those arms that they have taken—and our old men are not afraid
  of the war. This belt preserves my words. We carried the English into
  our lakes, to trade with the wolf and elk tribes, as the praying
  Indians brought the French to our castles, to carry on a trade, which
  the English say is theirs. We are born free. We neither depend upon
  Onnonthio nor Corlaer; we may go where we please. If your allies be
  your slaves, use them as such; command them to receive no other but
  your people. This belt preserves my words. We knocked the Connecticut
  Indians and their confederates on the head, because they had cut down
  the trees of peace, which were the limits of our country. They have
  hunted beavers on our lands, contrary to the customs of all Indians,
  for they have left none alive; they have killed both male and female.
  They brought the Sathanas into our country to take part with them,
  after they had formed ill designs against us; we have done less than
  they merited.

  “Hear, once more, the words of the Five Nations. They say that when
  they buried the hatchet at Cardaragui, (in the presence of your
  predecessor,) in the middle of the fort, [Detroit] they planted the
  tree of peace in the same place, to be there carefully preserved; that
  instead of an abode for soldiers, that fort might be a rendezvous for
  merchants; that in place of arms and ammunition, only peltry and goods
  should enter there.

  “Hear, Yonnondio, take care for the future that so great a number of
  soldiers as appear there do not choke the tree of peace, planted in so
  small a fort. It will be a great loss, after having so easily taken
  root, if you should stop its growth, and prevent its covering your
  country and ours with its branches. I assure you, in the name of the
  Five Nations that our warriors shall dance to the calumet of peace
  under its leaves, and shall remain quiet on their mats; and that they
  shall never dig up the hatchet till Corlaer or Onnonthio, either
  jointly or separately, attack the country, which the Great Spirit hath
  given to our ancestors. This belt preserves my words; and this other,
  the authority which the Five Nations have given me.” Then Garangula,
  addressing himself to Mons. de Maine, who understood his language, and
  interpreted, spoke thus: “take courage, friend, you have spirits,
  speak, explain my words, omit nothing. Tell all that your brethren and
  friends say to Onnonthio, your governor, by the mouth of Garangula,
  who loves you, and desires you to accept of this present of beaver,
  and take part with me in my feast, to which I invite you. This present
  of beaver is sent to Yonnondio on the part of the Five Nations.”

  Mons. Barré returned to his fort much enraged at what he had heard.
  Garangula feasted the French officers, and then went home; and Mons.
  Barré set out on his way towards Montreal; and as soon as the general,
  with the few soldiers who remained in health, had embarked, the
  militia made their way to their own habitations without order or
  discipline. Thus a chargeable and fatiguing expedition, meant to
  strike terror of the French name into the stubborn hearts of the Five
  Nations, ended in a scold between a French general and an old
  Indian.—_Colden’s History of the Five Nations, p. 68._

Twice in the year, the new converts came to Albany to partake of the
sacrament, before a place of worship was erected for themselves. They
always spent the night, or oftener two nights, before their joining in
this holy rite, at the Flats, which was their general rendezvous from
different quarters. There they were cordially received by the three
brothers, who always met together at this time to have a conference with
them, on subjects the most important to their present and future
welfare. These devout Indians seemed all impressed with the same
feelings, and moved by the same spirit. They were received with
affectionate cordiality, and accommodated in a manner quite conformable
to their habits, in the passage, porch, and offices; and so deeply
impressed were they with a sense of the awful duty that brought them
there, and the rights of friendship and hospitality, and at this period,
become so much acquainted with our customs, that though two hundred
communicants, followed by many of their children, were used to assemble
on those occasions, the smallest instance of riot or impropriety was not
known amongst them. They brought little presents of game, or of their
curious handicrafts, and were liberally and kindly entertained by their
good brother Philip, as they familiarly called him. In the evening they
all went apart to secret prayer, and in the morning, by dawn of day,
they assembled before the portico; and their entertainers, who rose
early, to enjoy, unobserved, a view of their social devotion, beheld
them with their mantles drawn over their heads, prostrate on the earth,
offering praises and fervent supplications to their Maker. After some
time spent in this manner, they arose, and seated in a circle on the
ground, with their heads veiled as formerly, they sang a hymn, which it
was delightful to hear, from the strength, richness, and sweet accord of
their uncommonly fine voices; which every one that ever heard this
sacred chorus, however indifferent to the purport of it, praised as
incomparable. The voices of the female Indians are particularly sweet
and powerful. I have often heard my friend dwell with singular pleasure
on the recollection of those scenes, and of the conversations she and
the colonel used to hold with the Indians, whom she described as
possessed of very superior powers of understanding; and in their
religious views and conversations, uniting the ardour of proselytes with
the firm decision and inflexible steadiness of their national character.
It was on the return of those new christians to the Flats, after they
had thus solemnly sealed their profession, that these wise regulations
for preserving peace and good will between the settlers (now become
confident and careless from their numbers) and the Indians, jealous,
with reason, of their ancient rights, were concluded.


                             CHAP. XXVIII.

 Management of the Mohawks, by the influence of the Christian Indians.

THE influence these converts had obtained over the minds of those most
venerated for wisdom among their countrymen, was the medium through
which this patriot family, in some degree, controlled the opinions of
that community at large, and kept them faithful to the British
interests. Every two or three years, there was a congress held, by
deputies from New-York, who generally spoke to the Indians by an
interpreter; went through the form of delivering presents from their
brother, the great king, redressing petty grievances, smoking the
calumet of peace, and delivering belts, the pledges of amity. But these
were mere public forms; the real terms of this often renewed amity
having been previously digested by those who far better understood the
relations subsisting between the contracting parties, and the causes
most likely to interrupt their union. Colonel Schuyler, though always
ready to serve his country in exigencies, did not like to take upon
himself any permanent responsibility, as a superintendent of Indian
affairs, as it might have diminished that private influence which arose
from the general veneration for his character, and from a conviction
that the concern he took was voluntary and impartial; neither did he
choose to sacrifice that domestic peace and leisure, which he so well
knew how to turn to the best account, being convinced that by his
example and influence as a private gentleman, he had it in his power to
do much good of a peculiar kind, which was incompatible with the weight
and bustle of public affairs, or with that hospitality, which, as they
managed it, was productive of so many beneficial effects. I have already
shown how, by prudent address and kind conciliation this patriotic pair
soothed and attached the Indians to the British interest. As the country
grew more populous, and property more abundant and more secure, the face
of society in this inland region began to change. They whose quiet and
orderly demeanor, devotion, and integrity, did not much require the
enforcement of laws, began now to think themselves above them. To a
deputed authority, the source of which lay beyond the Atlantic, they
paid little deference; and from their neighbours of New Hampshire and
Connecticut, who bordered on their frontiers, and served with them in
the colonial wars, they had little to learn of loyalty or submission.
These people they held in great contempt, both as soldiers and
statesmen; and yet, from their frequent intercourse with those who
talked of law and politics in their peculiar, uncouth dialect
incessantly, they insensibly adopted many of their notions. There is a
certain point of stable happiness at which our imperfect nature merely
seems to arrive; for the very materials of which it is formed contain
the seeds of its destruction: this was the case here. That peaceful and
desirable equality of conditions, from which so many comforts resulted,
in process of time occasioned an aversion to superiors, to whom they
were not accustomed, and an exaggerated jealousy of the power which was
exercised for their own safety and comfort. Their manners
unsophisticated, and their morals, in a great measure, uncorrupted, led
them to regard with unjustifiable scorn and aversion, those strangers
who brought with them the manners of more polished, though less pure
communities. Proud of their haughty bluntness, which daily increased
with their wealth and security, they began to consider respectful and
polite behaviour as a degree of servility and duplicity; while they
revolted at the power exercised over themselves, and very reluctantly
made the exertions necessary for their own protection. They showed every
inclination to usurp the territories of their Indian allies; and use, to
the very utmost, the power they had acquired over them, by supplying
their wants.

At the liberal table of aunt Schuyler, where there were always
intelligence, just notions, and good breeding to be met with, both among
the owners and their guests, many had their prejudices softened down,
their minds enlarged, and their manners improved. There they met British
officers of rank and merit, and persons in authority; and learnt that
the former were not artificial coxcombs, nor the latter petty tyrants,
as they would otherwise be very apt to imagine. Here they were
accustomed to find authority respected, on the one hand, and on the
other, to see the natural rights of man vindicated, and the utmost
abhorrence expressed of all the sophistry by which the credulous were
misled by the crafty, to have a code of morality for their treatment of
heathens, different from that which directed them in their dealing with
christians. Here a selection of the best and worthiest, of the different
characters and classes we have been describing, met—and were taught not
only to tolerate, but to esteem each other: and it required the calm,
temperate wisdom, and easy, versatile manners of my friend to bring this
about. It is when they are called to act in a new scene, and among
people different from any they had known or imagined, that the folly of
the wise, and the weakness of the strong, become discernible.

Many officers justly esteemed, possessed of capacity, learning, and much
knowledge, both of the usages of the world, and the art of war, from the
want of certain habitudes, which nothing but experience can teach, were
disqualified for the warfare of the woods; and from a secret contempt
with which they regarded the blunt simplicity and plain appearance of
the settlers, were not attentive to their advice on these points. They
were not aware how much they were to depend on them for the means of
carrying on their operations; and by rude or negligent treatment so
disgusted them, that they withheld the horses, oxen, waggons, &c. which
were to be paid for, merely to show their independence; well knowing the
dreaded and detested military power, even if coercive measures were
resorted to, would have no chance for redress in their courts; and even
the civil authority were cautious of doing any thing so unpopular as to
decide in favour of the military. Thus, till properly instructed, those
bewildered strangers were apt to do the thing of all others that
annihilates a feeble authority; threaten where they could not strike,
and forfeit respect where they could not enforce obedience. A failure of
this kind, clogged and enfeebled all their measures; for without the
hearty co-operation of the inhabitants in furnishing pre-requisites,
nothing could go on in a country without roads, or public vehicles, for
the conveyance of their warlike stores. Another rock they were apt to
run upon was, a neglect of the Indians, whom they neither sufficiently
feared as enemies, nor valued as friends, till taught to do so by
maturer judgments. Of this, Braddock’s defeat was an instance; he was
brave, experienced, and versed in all military science; his confidence
in which, occasioned the destruction of himself and his army. He
considered those counsels, that warned him how little, manœuvres or
numbers would avail in the close prison of innumerable boughs, as the
result of feeble caution; and marched his army to certain ruin, in the
most brave and scientific manner imaginable. Upon certain occasions,
there is no knowledge so valuable as that of our own ignorance.

At the Flats, the self-righted boor learned civilization and
subordination: the high-bred and high-spirited field officer,
gentleness, accommodation, and respect for unpolished worth and untaught
valour. There, too, the shrewd and deeply-reflecting Indian learnt to
respect the British character, and to confide in that of the settlers,
by seeing the best specimens of both acting candidly towards each other,
and generously to himself.

My friend was most particularly calculated to be the coadjutor of her
excellent consort, in thus subduing the spirits of different classes of
people, strongly disposed to entertain a repulsive dislike of each
other; and by leading them to the chastened enjoyment of the same social
pleasures, under the auspices of those whose good will they were all
equally convinced of, she contrived to smooth down asperities, and
assimilate those various characters, in a manner that could not be done
by any other means.

Accustomed from childhood, both from the general state of society, and
the enlarged minds of her particular associates, to take liberal views
of every thing, and to look forward on all occasions to consequences,
she steadily followed her wise and benevolent purposes, without being
attracted by petty gratifications, or repelled by petty disgusts.
Neither influenced by female vanity, nor female fastidiousness, she
might very truly say of popularity, as Falstaff says of Worcester’s
rebellion, “it lay in her way and she found it;” for no one ever took
less pains to obtain it; and if the weight of solid usefulness and
beneficence had not, as it never fails to do in the long run, forced
approbation, her mode of conducting herself, though it might greatly
endear her to her particular associates, was not conciliating to common
minds. The fact was, that though her benevolence extended through the
whole circle of those to whom she was known, she had too many objects of
importance in view, to squander time upon imbecility and insignificance;
nor could she find leisure for the routine of ordinary visits, or
inclination for the insipidity of ordinary chit chat.

If people of the description here alluded to, could forward any plan
advantageous to the public, or to any of those persons in whom she was
particularly interested, she would treat them occasionally with much
civility—for she had all the power of superior intellect without the
pride of it, but could not submit to a perpetual sacrifice to forms and
trifles. This, in her, was not only justifiable but laudable; yet it is
not mentioned as an example, because a case can very rarely occur, where
the benefit resulting to others, from making one’s own path, and
forsaking the ordinary road, can be so essential:—few ever can have a
sphere of action so peculiar or so important as hers; and very few,
indeed, have so sound a judgment to direct them in choosing, or so much
fortitude to support them in pursuing, a way of their own.

In ordinary matters, where neither religion nor morality is concerned,
it is much safer to trust to the common sense of mankind in general,
than to our own particular fancy. Singularity of conduct or opinion is
so often the result of vanity or affectation, that whoever ventures upon
it, ought to be a person whose example is looked up to by others. A
person too great to follow, ought to be great enough to lead. But though
her conversation was reserved for those she preferred, her advice,
compassion, and good offices were always given where most needed.


                              CHAP. XXIX.

          Madame’s adopted children—Anecdote of sister Susan.

YEARS passed away in this manner, varied only by the extension of that
protection and education, which they gave to a succession of nephews and
nieces of the colonel or Mrs. Schuyler. These they did not take from
mere compassion, as all their relations were in easy circumstances; but
influenced by various considerations, such as, in some cases, the death
of the mother of the children, or perhaps the father; in others, where
their nieces or nephews married very early, and lived in the houses of
their respective parents, while their young family increased before they
had a settled home; or in instances where, from the remote situations in
which the parents lived, they could not so easily educate them. Indeed,
the difficulty of getting a suitable education for children, whose
parents were ambitious for their improvement, was great; and a family so
well regulated as hers, and frequented by such society, was in itself an
academy, both for the best morals and manners. When people have children
born to them, they must submit to the ordinary lot of humanity; and if
they have not the happiness of meeting with many good qualities to
cultivate and rejoice over, there is nothing left for them but to exert
themselves to the utmost, to reform and ameliorate what will admit of
improvement. They must carefully weed and prop: if the soil produce a
crop both feeble and redundant, affection will blind them to many
defects; imperious duty will stimulate them, and hope, soothing, however
deceitful, will support them. But when people have the privilege, as in
this case, of choosing a child, they are fairly entitled to select the
most promising. This selection, I understood always to have been left to
aunt Schuyler, and it appeared, by the event, to have been generally a
happy one. Fifteen, either nephews or nieces, or the children of such
who had been under her care, all lived to grow up and go out into the
world: all acted their parts so as to do credit to the instruction they
had received, and the example they looked up to. Besides these, they had
many whom they brought for two or three years to their house to reside;
either because the family they came from was at the time crowded with
younger children, or because they were at a time of life, when a year or
two spent in such society as was there assembled, might not only form
their manners, but give a bias to their future character.

About the year 1730, they brought home a nephew of the colonel’s whose
father having a large family, and having, to the best of my
recollection, lost his wife, entirely gave over the boy to the
protection of this relation. This boy was his uncle’s god-son, and
called Philip, after him. He was a great favourite in the family; for
though apparently thoughtless and giddy, he had a very good temper and
quick parts, and was, upon the whole, an ingenious, lively, and amusing
child. He was a very great favourite, and continued to be so, in some
measure, when he grew up.

There were other children, whose names and relation to my friends I do
not remember, in the house at the same time, but none that staid so
long, or were so much talked of as this. There certainly never were
people who received so much company, made so respectable a figure in
life, and always kept so large a family about them, with so little
tumult or bustle, or indeed at so moderate an expense. What their income
was I cannot say; but am sure it could not have been what we should
think adequate to the good they did, and the hospitality and beneficence
which they practised; for the rents of lands were then of so little
value, that, though they possessed a considerable estate in another part
of the country, only very moderate profits could result from it; but,
indeed, from the simplicity of dress, &c. it was easier; though, in that
respect, too, they preserved a kind of dignity, and went beyond others
in the materials, though not the form of their apparel. Yet their
principal expense was a most plentiful and well ordered table, quite in
the English style, which was a kind of innovation: but so many strangers
frequented the houses of the three brothers, that it was necessary for
them to accommodate themselves to the habits of their guests.

Peter being in his youth an extensive trader, had spent much time in
Canada, among the noblesse there, and had served in the continental
levies. He had a fine commanding figure, and quite the air and address
of a gentleman, and was, when I knew him, an old man.

Intelligent and pleasing in a very high degree, Jeremiah had too much
familiar kindness to be looked up to like his brother. Yet he also had a
very good understanding, great frankness and affability, and was
described by all who knew him, as the very soul of cordial friendship
and warm benevolence. He married a polished and well-educated person,
whose parents (French protestants) were people of the first fashion in
New-York, and had given with her a good fortune, a thing very unusual in
that country. They used, in the early years of their marriage, to pay a
visit every winter to their connexions at New-York, who passed part of
every summer with them. This connexion, as well as that with the Flats,
gave an air of polish and a tincture of elegance to this family beyond
others; and there were few so gay and social. This cheerfulness was
supported by a large family, fourteen, I think, of very promising
children. These, however, inheriting from their mother’s family a
delicate constitution, died one after another as they came to maturity:
one only, a daughter, lived to be married, but died after having had one
son and a daughter.

I saw the mother of this large family, after out-living her own
children, and a still greater number of brothers and sisters, who had
all settled in life, prosperous and flourishing, when she married; I saw
her a helpless, bed-ridden invalid, without any remaining tie, but a
sordid, grasping son-in-law, and two grand-children, brought up at a
distance from her.

With her, too, I was a great favourite, because I listened with interest
to her details of early happiness, and subsequent woes and
privations—all of which she described to me with great animation, and
the most pathetic eloquence. How much a patient listener, who has
sympathy and interest to bestow on a tale of woe, will hear! and how
affecting are the respect and compassion even of an artless child, to a
heart that has felt the bitterness of neglect, and known what it was to
pine in solitary sadness! Many a bleak day have I walked a mile to visit
this blasted tree, which the storm of calamity had stripped of every
leaf! and surely in the house of sorrow the heart is made better.

From this chronicle of past times I derived much information respecting
our good aunt; such as she would not have given me herself. The kindness
of this generous sister-in-law was, indeed, the only light that shone on
the declining days of sister Susan, as she was wont affectionately to
call her. What a sad narrative would the detail of this poor woman’s
sorrows afford! which, however, she did not relate in a querulous
manner, for her soul was subdued by affliction, and she did not “mourn
as those that had no hope.” One instance of self-accusation I must
record. She used to describe the family she left as being no less happy,
united, and highly prosperous, than that into which she came: if,
indeed, she could be said to leave it, going, as she did, for some
months every year to her mother’s house, whose darling she was, and who,
being only fifteen years older than herself, was more like an elder
sister, united by fond affection.

She went to New-York to lie in, at her mother’s house, of her four or
five first children; her mother at the same time having children as
young as hers: and thus caressed at home by a fond husband, and received
with exultation by the tenderest parents; young, gay, and fortunate, her
removals were only variations of felicity; but gratified in every wish,
she knew not what sorrow was, nor how to receive the unwelcome stranger
when it arrived. At length she went down to her father’s as usual, to
lie in of her fourth child, which died when it was eight days old. She
then screamed with agony, and told her mother, who tried by pious
counsel to alleviate her grief, that she was the most miserable of human
beings; for that no one was capable of loving their child so well as she
did hers, and could not think by what sin she had provoked this
affliction: finally, she clasped the dead infant to her bosom, and was
not, without the utmost difficulty, persuaded to part with it; while her
frantic grief outraged all decorum. “After this,” said she, “I have seen
my thirteen grown-up children, and my dear and excellent husband, all
carried out of this house to the grave: I have lost the worthiest and
most affectionate parents, brothers, and sisters, such as few ever had;
and however my heart might be pierced with sorrow, it was still more
deeply pierced with a conviction of my own past impiety and ingratitude;
and under all this affliction, I wept silently and alone—and my outcry
or lamentation was never heard by mortal.” What a lesson was this!

This once loved and much respected woman have I seen sitting in her bed,
where she had been long confined, neglected by all those whom she had
known in her better days, excepting aunt Schuyler, who unwieldy and
unfit for visiting as she was, came out two or three times in the year
to see her, and constantly sent her kindly tokens of remembrance. Had
she been more careful to preserve her independence, and had she
accommodated herself more to the plain manners of the people she lived
among, she might, in her adversity, have met with more attention; but
too conscious of her attainments, lively, regardless, and perhaps vain,
and confident of being surrounded and admired by a band of kinsfolk, she
was at no pains to conciliate others; she had, too, some expensive
habits, which, when the tide of prosperity ebbed, could meet with little
indulgence among a people who never entertained an idea of living beyond
their circumstances.

Thus, even among those unpolished people, one might learn how severely
the insolence of prosperity can be avenged upon us, even by those we
have despised and slighted—and who, perhaps, were very much our
inferiors in every respect; though both humanity and good sense should
prevent our mortifying them, by showing ourselves sensible of that

This year was a fatal one to the families of the three brothers.
Jeremiah, impatient of the uneasiness caused by a wen upon his neck,
submitted to undergo an operation, which being unskilfully performed,
ended fatally, to the unspeakable grief of his brothers and of aunt, who
was particularly attached to him, and often dwelt on the recollection of
his singularly compassionate disposition, the generous openness of his
temper, and peculiar warmth of his affections. He, indeed, was “taken
away from the evil to come;” for of his large family, one after the
other went off, in consequence of the weakness of their lungs, which
withstood none of the ordinary diseases of small-pox, measles, &c. till
in a few years there was not one remaining.

These were melancholy inroads on the peace of her who might truly be
said to “watch and weep, and pray for all;” for nothing could exceed our
good aunt’s care and tenderness for this feeble family, who seemed
flowers which merely bloomed to wither in their prime; for they were, as
is often the case with those who inherit such disorders, beautiful, with
quickness of comprehension, and abilities beyond their age.


                               CHAP. XXX.

 Death of Philip Schuyler—Account of his family, and of the society at
                               the Flats.

ANOTHER very heavy sorrow followed the death of Jeremiah; Peter, being
the eldest brother, his son, as I formerly mentioned, was considered and
educated as heir to the colonel. It was Peter’s house that stood next to
the colonel’s; their dwellings being arranged according to their ages,
the youth was not in the least estranged from his own family (who were
half a mile off,) by his residence at his uncle’s, and was peculiarly
endeared to all the families, (who regarded him as the future head of
their house,) by his gentle manners and excellent qualities. With all
these personal advantages which distinguished that comely race, and
which give grace and attraction to the unfolding blossoms of virtue, at
an early age he was sent to a kind of college, then established in
New-Jersey—and he was there instructed as far, as in that place, he
could be. He soon formed an attachment for a lady still younger than
himself, but so well brought up, and so respectably connected, that his
friends were greatly pleased with the marriage, early as it was, and his
father, with the highest satisfaction, received the young couple into
the house. There they were the delight and ornament of the family, and
lived amongst them as a common blessing. The first year of their
marriage a daughter was born to them, whom they named Cornelia; and the
next, a son, whom they called Peter. The following year, which was the
same that deprived them of their brother Jeremiah, proved fatal to a
great many children and young people, in consequence of an endemial
disease which every now and then used to appear in the country, and made
great havoc. It was called the purple or spotted fever, and was probably
of the putrid kind: be that as it may, it proved fatal to this
interesting young couple. Peter, who had lost his wife but a short time
before, was entirely overwhelmed by this stroke: a hardness of hearing,
which had been gradually increasing before, deprived him of the
consolations he might have derived from society. He encouraged his
second son to marry; shut himself up for the most part in his own
apartment; and became, in effect, one of those lay-brothers I have
formerly described. Yet, when time had blunted the edge of this keen
affliction, many years after, when he lived at the Flats, he used to
visit us; and though he did not hear well, he conversed with great
spirit, and was full of anecdote and information. Meanwhile, madame did
not sink under this calamity, though she felt it as much as her husband,
but supported him, and exerted herself to extract consolation from
performing the duties of a mother to the infant who was now become the
representative of the family. Little Peter was accordingly brought home,
and succeeded to all that care and affection of which his father had
formerly been the object, while Cornelia was taken home to Jersey, to
the family of her maternal grandfather, who was a distinguished person
in that district. There she was exceedingly well-educated, became an
elegant and very pleasing young woman, and was happily and most
respectably married before I left the country, as was her brother very
soon after. They are still living; and Peter, adhering to what might be
called eventually the safer side during the war with the mother country,
succeeded undisturbed to his uncle’s inheritance.

All these new cares and sorrows did not in the least abate the
hospitality, the popularity, or the public spirit of these truly great
minds. Their dwelling, though in some measure become a house of
mourning, was still the rendezvous of the wise and worthy, the refuge of
the stranger, and an academy for deep and sound thinking, taste,
intelligence, and moral beauty. There the plans for the public good were
digested by the rulers of the province, who came, under the pretext of a
summer excursion for mere amusement. There the operations of the army,
and the treaties of peace or alliance with various nations, were
arranged; for there the legislators of the state, and the leaders of the
war, were received, and mixed serious and important counsels with
convivial cheerfulness, and domestic ease and familiarity. It is not to
be conceived how essential a point of union, a barrier against license,
and a focus, in which the rays of intellect and intelligence were
concentrated, (such as in this family,) were to unite the jarring
elements of which the community was composed, and to suggest to those
who had power without experience, the means of mingling in due
proportions its various materials for the public utility. Still, though
the details of family happiness were abridged, the spirit that produced
it continued to exist, and to find new objects of interest. A mind,
elevated by the consciousness of its own powers, and enlarged by the
habitual exercise of them, for the great purpose of promoting the good
of others, yields to the pressure of calamity, but sinks not under it,
particularly when habituated, like these exalted characters, to look
through the long vista of futurity, towards the final accomplishment of
the designs of providence. Like a diligent gardener, who, when his
promising young plants are blasted in full strength and beauty, though
he feels extremely for their loss, does not sit down in idle chagrin,
but redoubles his efforts to train up their successors to the same
degree of excellence. Considering the large family she (madame) always
had about her, of which she was the guiding star as well as the
informing soul, and the innocent cheerfulness which she encouraged and
enjoyed; considering, too, the number of interesting guests whom she
received, and that complete union of minds, which made her enter so
intimately into all the colonel’s pursuits, it may be wondered how she
found time for solid and improved reading; because people whose time is
so much occupied in business and society, are apt to relax with amusing
trifles of the desultory kind, when they have odd half hours to bestow
on literary amusements. But her strong and indefatigable mind never
loosened its grasp; ever intent on the useful and the noble, she found
little leisure for what are indeed the greatest objects of feeble
characters. After the middle of life she went little out; her household,
long since arranged by certain general rules, went regularly on, because
every domestic knew exactly the duties of his or her place, and dreaded
losing it, as the greatest possible misfortune. She had always with her
some young person, who was unto her as a daughter—who was her friend and
companion, and bred up in such a manner as to qualify her for being
such; and one of whose duties it was to inspect the state of the
household, and “report progress” with regard to the operations going on
in the various departments; for no one better understood or more justly
estimated the duties of housewifery. Thus, those young females who had
the happiness of being bred under her auspices, very soon became
qualified to assist her instead of encroaching much on her time. The
example and conversation of the family in which they lived, was to them
a perpetual school for useful knowledge, and manners easy and dignified,
though natural and artless. They were not indeed embellished, but then
they were not deformed by affectation, pretensions, or defective
imitation of fashionable models of nature. They were not indeed bred up
“to dance, to dress, to roll the eye, or troll the tongue;” yet they
were not lectured into unnatural gravity or frozen reserve. I have seen
those of them who were lovely, gay and animated, though in the words of
an old familiar lyric,

     “Without disguise or art, like flowers they grace the wild,
      Their sweets they did impart, whene’er they spoke or smil’d.”

Two of those to whom this description particularly applies, still live,
and still retain not only evident traces of beauty, but that unstudied
grace and dignity which is the result of conscious worth and honour,
habituated to receive the tribute of general respect. This is the
privilege of minds which are always in their own place, and neither
stoop to solicit applause from their inferiors, nor strive to rise to a
fancied equality with those whom nature or fortune have placed beyond

Aunt was a great manager of her time, and always contrived to create
leisure hours for reading; for that kind of conversation, which is
properly styled gossiping, she had the utmost contempt. Light,
superficial reading, such as merely fills a blank in time, and glides
over the mind without leaving an impression, was little known there; for
few books crossed the Atlantic but such as were worth carrying so far
for their intrinsic value. She was too much accustomed to have her mind
occupied with objects of real weight and importance, to give it up to
frivolous pursuits of any kind. She began the morning with reading the
scriptures. They always breakfasted early, and dined two hours later
than the primitive inhabitants, who always took that meal at twelve.
This departure from the ancient customs was necessary in this family, to
accommodate the great numbers of British as well as strangers from
New-York, who were daily entertained at her liberal table. This
arrangement gave her the advantage of a longer forenoon to dispose of.
After breakfast she gave orders for the family details of the day,
which, without a scrupulous attention to those minutiæ which fell more
properly under the notice of her young friends, she always regulated in
the most judicious manner, so as to prevent all appearance of hurry and
confusion. There was such a rivalry among domestics, whose sole ambition
was her favour, and who had been so trained up from infancy, each to
their several duties, that excellence in each department was the result
both of habit and emulation; while her young protégés were early taught
the value and importance of good housewifery, and were sedulous in their
attention to little matters of decoration and elegance, which her mind
was too much engrossed to attend to; so that her household affairs, ever
well regulated, went on in a mechanical kind of progress, that seemed to
engage little of her attention, though her vigilant and overruling mind
set every spring of action in motion. Having thus easily and speedily
arranged the details of the day, she retired to read in her closet,
where she generally remained till about eleven, when, being unequal to
distant walks, the colonel and she, and some of her elder guests, passed
some of the hotter hours among those embowering shades of her garden, in
which she took great pleasure. Here was their lyceum; here questions in
religion and morality, too weighty for table-talk, were leisurely and
coolly discussed, and plans of policy and various utility arranged. From
this retreat they adjourned to the portico; and while the colonel either
retired to write, or went to give directions to his servants, she sat in
this little tribunal, giving audience to new settlers, followers of the
army left in hapless dependence, and others who wanted assistance or
advice, or hoped she would intercede with the colonel for something more
peculiarly in his way, he having great influence with the colonial
government. At the usual hour, her dinner-party assembled, which was
generally a large one; and here I must digress from the detail of the
day to observe, that, looking up as I always did to madame with admiring
veneration, and having always heard her mentioned with unqualified
applause, I look often back to think what defects or faults she could
possibly have to rank with the sons and daughters of imperfection,
inhabiting this transitory scene of existence, well knowing, from
subsequent observation of life, that error is the unavoidable portion of
humanity. Yet of this truism, to which every one will readily subscribe,
I can recollect no proof in my friend’s conduct, unless the luxury of
her table might be produced to confirm it. Yet this, after all, was but
comparative luxury. There was more choice and selection, and, perhaps,
more abundance at her table, than those of the other primitive
inhabitants; yet how simple were her repasts, compared to those with
which the luxury of the higher ranks in this country offer to provoke
the sated appetite. Her dinner-party generally consisted of some of her
intimate friends or near relations; her adopted children, who were
inmates for the time being; and strangers sometimes invited, merely as
friendless travellers, on the score of hospitality, but often welcomed
for some time as stationary visitors, on account of worth or talents,
that gave value to their society; and lastly, military guests, selected
with some discrimination, on account of the young friends, whom they
wished not only to protect, but cultivate by an improving association.
Conversation here was always rational, generally instructive, and often
cheerful. The afternoon frequently brought with it a new set of guests.
Tea was always drank early here; and, as I have formerly observed, was
attended with so many petty luxuries of pastry, confectionary, &c. that
it might well be accounted a meal by those whose early and frugal
dinners had so long gone by. In Albany it was customary, after the heat
of the day was past, for the young people to go in parties of three or
four, in open carriages, to drink tea at an hour or two’s drive from
town. The receiving and entertaining this sort of company, generally was
the province of the younger part of the family; and of these parties
many came, in summer evenings, to the Flats, when tea, which was very
early, was over. The young people, and those who were older, took their
different walks, while madame sat in her portico, engaged in what might
comparatively be called light reading, essays, biography, poetry, &c.
till the younger party set out on their return home, and her domestic
friends rejoined her in her portico, where, in warm evenings, a slight
repast was sometimes brought; but they more frequently shared the last
and most truly social meal within.

Winter made little difference in her mode of occupying her time. She
then always retired to her closet to read at stated periods.

In conversation she certainly took delight, and peculiarly excelled, yet
did not in the least engross it, or seem to dictate. On the contrary,
her thirst of knowledge was such, and she possessed such a peculiar
talent for discovering the point of utility in all things, that from
every one’s discourse she extracted some information, on which the light
of her mind was thrown in such a direction as made it turn to account.
Whenever she laid down her book she took up her knitting, which neither
occupied her eyes nor attention, while it kept her fingers engaged, thus
setting an example of humble diligence to her young protégés. In this
employment she had a kind of tender satisfaction, as little children,
reared in the family, were the only objects of her care in this respect.
For those, she constantly provided a supply of hosiery till they were
seven years old, and after that, transferred her attention to some
younger favourite. In her earlier days, when her beloved husband could
share the gaieties of society, I have been told they both had a high
relish for innocent mirth, and every species of humorous pleasantry; but
in my time there was a chastened gravity in her discourse, which,
however, did not repulse innocent cheerfulness, though it dashed all
manner of levity, and that flippancy which great familiarity sometimes
encourages among young people who live much together. Had madame, with
the same good sense, the same high principle, and general benevolence
towards young people, lived in society, such as is to be met with in
Britain, the principle upon which she acted would have led her to have
encouraged, in such society, more gaiety and freedom of manners. As the
regulated forms of life in Britain set bounds to the ease that
accompanies good breeding and refinement, generally diffused, supplies
the place of native delicacy, where that is wanting, a certain decent
freedom is both safe and allowable. But amid the simplicity of primitive
manners, those bounds are not so well defined. Under these
circumstances, mirth is a romp, and humour a buffoon; and both must be
kept within strict limits.


                              CHAP. XXXI.

                            Family details.

THE hospitalities of this family were so far beyond their apparent
income, that all strangers were astonished at them. To account for this,
it must be observed that, in the first place, there was, perhaps, scarce
an instance of a family possessing such uncommonly well-trained, active,
and diligent slaves as those I describe. The set that were staid
servants when they married, had some of them died off by the time I knew
the family; but the principal roots from whence the many branches, then
flourishing, sprung, yet remained. These were two women, who had come
originally from Africa while very young; they were most excellent
servants, and the mothers or grandmothers of the whole set, except of
one white-woolled negro-man, who, in my time, sat by the chimney and
made shoes for all the rest. The great pride and happiness of those
sable matrons were, to bring up their children to dexterity, diligence,
and obedience. Diana being determined that Maria’s children should not
excel hers in any quality which was a recommendation to favour; and
Maria equally resolved that her brood, in the race of excellence, should
outstrip Diana’s. Never was a more fervent competition. That of Phillis
and Brunetta, in the Spectator, was a trifle to it: and it was extremely
difficult to decide on their respective merits; for though Maria’s son
Prince cut down wood with more dexterity and despatch than any one in
the province, the mighty Cæsar, son of Diana, cut down wheat, and
threshed it, better than he. His sister Betty, who, to her misfortune,
was a beauty of her kind, and possessed wit equal to her beauty, was the
best sempstress and laundress, by far, I have ever known; and plain,
unpretending Rachael, sister to Prince, wife to Titus, alias Tyte, and
head cook, dressed dinners that might have pleased Apicius. I record my
old humble friends by their real names, because they allowedly stood at
the head of their own class, and distinction of every kind should be
respected. Besides, when the curtain drops, or, indeed, long before it
falls, it is, perhaps, more creditable to have excelled in the lowest
parts, than to have fallen miserably short in the higher. Of the
inferior personages, in this dark drama I have been characterizing, it
would be tedious to tell: suffice it, that besides filling up all the
lower departments of the household, and cultivating to the highest
advantage a most extensive farm, there was a thorough-bred carpenter and
shoemaker, and an universal genius who made canoes, nets, and paddles,
shod horses, mended implements of husbandry, managed the fishing, in
itself no small department, reared hemp and tobacco, and spun both; made
cider, and tended wild horses, (as they called them,) which was his
province to manage and to break. For every branch of the domestic
economy, there was a person allotted—educated for the purpose; and this
society was kept immaculate, in the same way that the quakers preserve
the rectitude of theirs, and, indeed, in the only way that any community
can be preserved from corruption; when a member showed symptoms of
degeneracy, he was immediately expelled, or in other words more suitable
to this case, sold. Among the domestics, there was such a rapid
increase, in consequence of their marrying very early, and living
comfortably without care, that if they had not been detached off with
the young people brought up in the house, they would have swarmed like
an over-stocked bee-hive.

The prevention of crime was so much attended to in this well-regulated
family, that there was very little punishment necessary; none that I
ever heard of, but such as Diana and Maria inflicted on their progeny,
with a view to prevent the dreaded sentence of expulsion.
Notwithstanding the petty rivalry between the branches of the two
original stocks, intermarriages between the Montagues and Capulets of
the kitchen, which frequently took place, and the habit of living
together under the same mild, though regular government, produced a
general cordiality and affection among all the members of the family,
who were truly ruled by the law of love; and even those who occasionally
differed about trifles, had an unconscious attachment to each other,
which showed itself on all emergencies. Treated themselves with care and
gentleness, they were careful and kind with regard to the only inferiors
and dependants they had, the domestic animals. The superior personages
in the family, had always some good property to mention, or good saying
to repeat of those whom they cherished into attachment, and exalted into
intelligence; while they, in their turn, improved the sagacity of their
subject animals, by caressing and talking to them. Let no one laugh at
this; for whenever man is at ease and unsophisticated, where his native
humanity is not extinguished by want or chilled by oppression, it
overflows to inferior beings, and improves their instincts to a degree
incredible to those who have not witnessed it. In all mountainous
countries, where man is more free, more genuine, and more divided into
little societies much detached from others, and much attached to each
other, this cordiality of sentiment, this overflow of good will takes
place. The poet says,

                   “Humble love, and not proud reason,
                    Keeps the door of heaven.”

This question must be left for divines to determine; but sure am I that
humble love and not proud reason, keeps the door of earthly happiness,
as far as it is attainable. I am not going, like the admirable Crichton,
to make an oration in praise of ignorance; but a very high degree of
refinement certainly produces a quickness of discernment, a niggard
approbation, and a fastidiousness of taste, that find a thousand
repulsive and disgusting qualities mingled with those that excite our
admiration, and would, (were we less critical,) produce affection. Alas!
that the tree should so literally impart the knowledge of good and evil;
much evil and little good. It is time to return from this excursion to
the point from which I set out.

The Princes and Cæsars of the Flats had as much to tell of the sagacity
and attachments of the animals, as their mistress related of their own.
Numberless anecdotes that delighted me in the last century, I would
recount, but fear I should not find my audience of such easy belief as I
was, nor so convinced of the integrity of my informers. One circumstance
I must mention, because I well know it to be true. The colonel had a
horse which he rode occasionally, but which oftener travelled with Mrs.
Schuyler in an open carriage. At particular times, when bringing home
hay or corn, they yoked Wolf, for so he was called, in a waggon; an
indignity to which, for a while, he unwillingly submitted. At length,
knowing resistance was vain, he had recourse to stratagem; and whenever
he saw Tyte marshalling his cavalry for service, he swam over to the
island, the umbrageous and tangled border of which I formerly mentioned;
there he fed with fearless impunity till he saw the boat approach;
whenever that happened, he plunged into the thicket, and led his
followers such a chase, that they were glad to give up the pursuit. When
he saw from his retreat that the work was over, and the fields bare, he
very coolly returned. Being, by this time, rather old, and a favourite,
the colonel allowed him to be indulged in his dislike to drudgery. The
mind which is at ease, neither stung by remorse, nor goaded by ambition
or other turbulent passions, nor worn with anxiety for the supply of
daily wants, nor sunk into languor by stupid idleness, forms attachments
and amusements, to which those exalted by culture would not stoop, and
those crushed by want and care could not rise. Of this nature was the
attachment to the tame animals, which the domestics appropriated to
themselves, and to the little fanciful gardens where they raised herbs
or plants of difficult culture, to sell and give to their friends. Each
negro was indulged with his racoon, his great squirrel or muskrat, or
perhaps his beaver, which he tamed and attached to himself, by daily
feeding and caressing him in the farm-yard. One was sure about all such
houses to find these animals, in whom their masters took the highest
pleasure. All these small features of human nature must not be despised
for their minuteness; to a good mind they afford consolation.

Science, directed by virtue, is a god-like enlargement of the powers of
human nature; and exalted rank is so necessary a finish to the fabric of
society, and so invariable a result from its regular establishment,
that, in respecting those whom the divine wisdom has set above us, we
perform a duty such as we expect from our own inferiors, which helps to
support the general order of society. But so very few, in proportion to
the whole, can be enlightened by science, or exalted by situation, that
a good mind draws comfort from discovering even the petty enjoyments
permitted to those in the state we consider most abject and depressed.


                              CHAP. XXXII.

                Resources of madame—Provincial customs.

IT may appear extraordinary, with so moderate an income as could, in
those days, be derived even from a considerable estate in that country,
how madame found means to support that liberal hospitality which they
constantly exercised. I know the utmost they could derive from their
lands, and it was not much. Some money they had, but nothing adequate to
the dignity, simple as it was, of their style of living, and the very
large family they always drew round them. But with regard to the plenty,
one might almost call it luxury, of their table, it was supplied from a
variety of sources, that rendered it less expensive than could be
imagined. Indians, grateful for the numerous benefits they were daily
receiving from them, were constantly bringing the smaller game, and in
winter and spring, loads of venison. Little money passed from one hand
to another in the country; but there was constantly, as there always is
in primitive abodes, before the age of calculation begins, a kindly
commerce of presents. The people of New-York and Rhode-Island, several
of whom were wont to pass a part of the summer with the colonel’s
family, were loaded with all the productions of the farm and river. When
they went home, they again never failed, at the season, to send a large
supply of oysters and all other shell-fish, which at New-York abounded;
besides great quantities of tropical fruit, which, from the short run
between Jamaica and New-York, were there almost as plenty and cheap as
in their native soil. Their farm yielded them abundantly all, that in
general, a musket can supply; and the young relatives who grew up about
the house, were rarely a day without bringing some supply from the wood
or the stream. The negroes, whose business lay frequently in the woods,
never willingly went there, or any where else, without a gun, and rarely
came back empty-handed. Presents of wine, then a very usual thing to
send to friends to whom you wished to show a mark of gratitude, came
very often, possibly from the friends of the young people who were
reared and instructed in that house of benediction; as there were no
duties paid for the entrance of any commodity then, wine, rum, and
sugar, were cheaper than can easily be imagined, and in cider they

The negroes of the three truly united brothers, not having home
employment in winter, after preparing fuel, used to cut down trees, and
carry them to an adjoining saw-mill, where, in a very short time, they
made great quantities of planks, staves, &c., which is usually styled
lumber, for the West-India market. And when a ship-load of their flour,
lumber, and salted provisions was accumulated, some relative, for their
behoof, freighted a vessel, and went out to the West-Indies with it. In
this stygian schooner, the departure of which was always looked forward
to with unspeakable horror, all the stubborn or otherwise unmanageable
slaves were embarked, to be sold by way of punishment. This produced
such salutary terror, that preparing the lading of this fatal vessel
generally operated a temporary reform at least. When its cargo was
discharged in the West-Indies, it took in a lading of wine, rum, sugar,
coffee, chocolate, and all other West-India productions, paying for
whatever fell short of the value—and returning to Albany, sold the
surplus to their friends, after reserving to themselves a most liberal
supply of all the articles thus imported. Thus they had not only a
profusion of all the requisites for good house-keeping, but had it in
their power to do what was not unusual there in wealthy families, though
none carried it so far as these worthies.

In process of time, as people multiplied, when a man had eight or ten
children to settle in life, and these marrying early, and all their
families increasing fast, though they always were considered as equals,
and each kept a neat house and decent outside, yet it might be that some
of them were far less successful than others in their various efforts to
support their families; but these deficiencies were supplied in a quiet
and delicate way, by presents of every thing a family required, sent
from all their connexions and acquaintances—which, where there was a
continual sending back and forward of sausages, pigs, roasting-pieces,
&c. from one house to another, excited little attention; but when aunt’s
West-India cargo arrived, all the families of this description within
her reach, had an ample boon sent them of her new supply.

The same liberal spirit animated her sister, a very excellent person,
who was married to Cornelius Cuyler, then mayor of Albany, who had been
a most successful Indian trader in his youth, and had acquired large
possessions, and carried on an extensive commercial intercourse with the
traders of that day, bringing from Europe quantities of those goods that
best suited them, and sending back their peltry in exchange. He was not
only wealthy, but hospitable, intelligent, and liberal-minded, as
appeared by his attachment to the army, which was, in those days, the
distinguishing feature of those who in knowledge and candour were beyond
others. His wife had the same considerate and prudent generosity, which
ever directed the humanity of her sister; though having a large family,
she could not carry it to so great an extent.

If this maternal friend of their mutual relatives could be said to have
a preference among her own and her husband’s relations, it was certainly
to this family. The eldest son Philip, who bore her husband’s name, was
on that and other accounts, a particular favourite, and was, I think, as
much with them in childhood, as his attention to his education, which
was certainly the best the province could afford, would permit.

Having become distinguished through all the northern provinces, the
common people, and the inferior class of the military, had learned from
the Canadians who frequented her house, to call aunt, Madame Schuyler;
but by one or other of these appellations she was universally known; and
a kindly custom prevailed, for those who were received into any degree
of intimacy in her family, to address her as their aunt, though not in
the least related. This was done oftener to her than others, because she
excited more respect and affection, but it had, in some degree, the
sanction of custom. The Albanians were sure to call each other aunt or
cousin, as far as the most strained construction would carry those
relations. To strangers they were indeed very shy at first, but
extremely kind; when they not only proved themselves estimable, but by a
condescension to their customs, and acquiring a smattering of their
language, ceased to be strangers, then they were generally in the habit
of calling each other cousin; and thus in an hour of playful or tender
intimacy I have known it more than once begin: “I think you like me well
enough, and I am sure I like you very well; come, why should not we be
cousins? I am sure I should like very well to be your cousin, for I have
no cousins of my own where I can reach them. Well, then you shall be my
cousin for ever and ever.” In this uncouth language, and in this artless
manner, were these leagues of amity commenced. Such an intimacy was
never formed unless the object of it were a kind of favourite with the
parents, who immediately commenced uncle and aunt to the new cousin.
This, however, was a high privilege, only to be kept by fidelity and
good conduct. If you exposed your new cousin’s faults, or repeated her
minutest secrets, or by any other breach of constancy lost favour, it
was as bad as refusing a challenge; you were coldly received every
where, and could never regain your footing in society.

Aunt’s title, however, became current every where, and was most
completely confirmed in the year 1750, when she gave with more than
common solemnity, a kind of annual feast, to which the colonel’s two
brothers and his sisters, aunt’s sister, Mrs. Cornelius Cuyler, and
their families, with several others related to them, assembled. This was
not given on a stated day, but at the time when most of these kindred
could be collected. This year I have often heard my good friend
commemorate, as that on which their family stock of happiness felt the
first diminution. The feast was made, and attended by all the collateral
branches, consisting of fifty-two, who had a claim by marriage or
descent, to call the colonel and my friend uncle and aunt, besides their
parents. Among these were reckoned three or four grandchildren of their
brothers. At this grand gala, there could be no less than sixty persons,
but many of them were doomed to meet no more; for the next year the
small-pox, always peculiarly mortal here, (where it was improperly
treated in the old manner,) broke out with great virulence, and raged
like a plague; but none of those relatives whom Mrs. Schuyler had
domesticated suffered by it; and the skill which she had acquired from
the communications of the military surgeons who were wont to frequent
her house, enabled her to administer advice and assistance, which
essentially benefited many of the patients in whom she was particularly
interested; though even her influence could not prevail on people to
have recourse to inoculation. The patriarchal feast of the former year,
and the humane exertions of this, made the colonel and his consort
appear so much in the light of public benefactors, that all the young
regarded them with a kind of filial reverence, and the addition of uncle
and aunt was become confirmed and universal, and was considered as an
honourary distinction. The ravages which the small-pox made this year
among their Mohawk friends, was a source of deep concern to these
revered philanthropists; but this was an evil not to be remedied by any
ordinary means. These people being accustomed from early childhood to
anoint themselves with bear’s grease, to repel the innumerable tribes of
noxious insects in summer, and to exclude the extreme cold in winter,
their pores are so completely shut up that the small-pox does not rise
upon them, nor have they much chance of recovery from any acute disease;
but, excepting the fatal infection already mentioned, they are not
subject to any other but the rheumatism, unless in very rare instances.
The ravages of disease this year operated on their population as a blow,
which it never recovered; and they considered the small-pox in a
physical, and the use of strong liquors in a moral sense, as two plagues
which we had introduced among them, for which our arts, our friendship,
and even our religion, were a very inadequate recompense.


                             CHAP. XXXIII.

       Followers of the army—Inconveniences resulting from such.

TO return to the legion of commissaries, &c. These employments were at
first given to very inferior people; it was seen, however, that as the
scale of military operations and erections increased, these people were
enriching themselves both at the expense of the king and the
inhabitants, whom they frequently exasperated into insolence or
resistance, and then used that pretext to keep in their own hands the
payments to which these people were entitled. When their waggons and
slaves were pressed into the service, it was necessary to employ such
persons from the first. The colonel and the mayor, and all whom they
could influence, did all they could to alleviate an evil that could not
be prevented, and was daily aggravating disaffection. They found, as the
importance of these offices increased, it would conduce more to the
public good, by larger salaries to induce people to accept them who were
gentlemen, and had that character to support; and who, being acquainted
with the people and their language, knew best how to qualify and soften,
and where to apply—so as least to injure or irritate. Some young men
belonging to the country, were at length prevailed on to accept two or
three of these offices, which had the happiest effect in conciliating
and conquering the aversion that existed against the _regulars_.

Among the first of the natives who engaged in those difficult
employments, was one of aunt’s adopted sons, formerly mentioned; Philip
Schuyler, of the pasture, as he was called, to distinguish him from the
other nephew, who, had he lived, would have been the colonel’s heir. He
appeared merely a careless, good-humoured young man. Never was any one
so little what he seemed, with regard to ability, activity, and
ambition, art, enterprise, and perseverance, all of which he possessed
in an uncommon degree, though no man had less the appearance of these
qualities; easy, complying, and good-humoured, the conversations, full
of wisdom and sound policy, of which he had been a seemingly inattentive
witness at the Flats, only slept in his recollection, to awake in full
force, when called forth by occasion.

A shrewd and able man, who was, I think, a brigadier in the service, was
appointed quarter-master-general, with the entire superintendence of all
the boats, buildings, &c. in New-York, the Jerseys, and Canadian
frontier. He had married, when very young, a daughter of Colonel
Renssalaer. Having at the time no settled plan for the support of a
young family, he felt it incumbent on him to make some unusual exertion
for them. Colonel Schuyler and his consort, not only advised him to
accept an inferior employment in this business, but recommended him to
the Brigadier Bradstreet, who had the power of disposing of such
offices, which were daily growing in importance. They well knew that he
possessed qualities which might not only render him an useful servant to
the public, but clear his way to fortune and distinction. His perfect
command of temper, acuteness, and dispatch in business, and in the hour
of social enjoyment, easily relapsing into all that careless, frank
hilarity and indolent good-humour, which seems the peculiar privilege of
the free and disencumbered mind; active and companionable, made him a
great acquisition to any person under whom he might happen to be
employed. This the penetration of Bradstreet soon discovered; and he
became not only his secretary and deputy, but in a short time after, his
ambassador, as one might say; for before Philip Schuyler was twenty-two,
the general, as he was universally styled, sent him to England, to
negotiate some business of importance with the board of trade and
plantations. In the mean while, some other young men, natives of the
country, accepted employments in the same department, by this time
greatly extended. Averse as the country people were to the army, they
began to relish the advantage derived from the money which that body of
protectors, so much feared and detested, expended among them. This was
more considerable than might at first be imagined. Government allowed
provisions to the troops serving in America, without which they could
not indeed have proceeded through an uninhabited country; where, even in
such places as were inhabited, there were no regular markets, no
competition for supply; nothing but exorbitant prices could tempt those
people who were not poor, and found a ready market for all their produce
in the West-Indies. Now, having a regular supply of such provisions as
are furnished to the fleet, they had no occasion to lay out their money
for such things; and rather purchased the produce of the country,
liquors, &c. for which the natives took care to make them pay very high,
an evil which the Schuyler’s moderated as much as possible, though they
could not check it entirely. This provision system was a very great
though necessary evil, for it multiplied contractors, commissaries, and
store-keepers, without end. At a distance from the source of authority,
abuses increase, and redress becomes more difficult, which is, of
itself, a sufficient argument against the extension of dominion. Many of
these new comers were ambiguous characters, originally from the old
country, (as expatriated Britons fondly call their native land,) but
little known in this, and not happy specimens of that they had left.
These satellites of delegated power had all the insolence of office, and
all that avidity of gain, which a sudden rise of circumstances creates
in low and unprincipled minds; and they, from the nature of their
employment, and the difficulty of getting provisions transported from
place to place, were very frequently the medium of that intercourse
carried on between the military and the natives; and did not by any
means contribute to raise the British character in their estimation.

I dwell more minutely on all these great though necessary evils, which
invariably attend an army in its progress through a country which is the
theatre of actual war, that the reader may be led to set a just value on
the privileges of this highly favoured region, which, sitting on many
waters, sends forth her thunders through the earth: and while the
farthest extremes of east and west bend to her dominion, has not for
more than half a century heard the sound of hostility within her bounds.
Many unknown persons, who were in some way attached to the army, and
resolved to live by it in some shape, set up as traders; carried stores
suited to military consumption along with them, and finally established
themselves as merchants in Albany. Some of these proved worthy
characters, however; and intermarrying with the daughters of the
citizens, and adopting, in some degree, their sober manners, became, in
process of time, estimable members of society. Others, and, indeed, the
most part of them, rose like exhalations; and obtaining credit by dint
of address and assurance, glittered for a time; affecting showy and
expensive modes of living, and aping the manners of their patrons.
These, as soon as peace diminished the military establishment, and put
an end to that ferment and fluctuation which the actual presence of war
never fails to excite, burst like bubbles on the surface of the
subsiding waves, and astonished the Albanians with the novel spectacle
of bankruptcy and imprisonment. All this gradually wrought a change on
the face of society; yet such was the disgust which the imputed
licentiousness, foppery, and extravagance of the officers, and the
pretensions, unsupported by worth or knowledge of their apes and
followers, produced, that the young persons who first married those
ambiguous new comers, generally did so without the consent of their
parents, whose affection for their children, however, soon reconciled


                              CHAP. XXXIV.

            Arrival of a new regiment—Domine Freylinghausen.

A regiment came to town about this time, the superior officers of which
were younger, more gay, and less amenable to good counsel than those who
used to command the troops which had formerly been placed on this
station. They paid their visits at the Flats, and were received—but not
as usual, cordially; neither their manners nor morals being calculated
for that meridian. Part of the royal Americans or independent companies,
had, at this time, possession of the fort; some of these had
families—and they were, in general, persons of decent morals, and a
moderate and judicious way of thinking, who, though they did not court
the society of the natives, expressed no contempt for their manners or
opinions. The regiment I speak of, on the contrary, turned those plain
burghers into the highest ridicule, yet used every artifice to get
acquainted with them. They wished, in short, to act the part of very
fine gentlemen; and the gay and superficial in those days, were but too
apt to take for their model the fine gentlemen of the detestable old
comedies, which good taste has now very properly exploded; and at which,
in every stage of society, the uncorrupted mind must have felt infinite
disgust. Yet forms arrayed in gold and scarlet, and rendered more
imposing by an air of command and authority, occasionally softened down
into gentleness and submission; and by that noisy gaiety which youthful
inexperience mistakes for happiness, and that flippant petulance, which
those who knew not much of the language, and nothing at all of the
world, mistook for wit, were very ensnaring. Those dangerously
accomplished heroes made their appearance at a time when the English
language began to be more generally understood; and when the pretensions
of the merchants, commissaries, &c. to the stations they occupied, were
no longer dubious. Those polished strangers now began to make a part of
general society. At this crisis it was found necessary to have recourse
to billets. The superior officers had generally been either received at
the Flats or accommodated in a large house which the colonel had in
town. The manner in which the hospitality of that family was exercised;
the selection which they made of such as were fitted to associate with
the young persons who dwelt under their protection, always gave a kind
of tone to society, and held out a light to others.

Madame’s sister, as I before observed, was married to the respectable
and intelligent magistrate, who administered justice not only to the
town, but to the whole neighbourhood. In their house, also, such of the
military were received, and kindly entertained, as had the sanction of
their sister’s approbation. This judicious and equitable person, who, in
the course of trading in early life upon the lakes, had undergone many
of the hardships, and even dangers, which awaited the military in that
perilous path of duty, knew well what they had to encounter in the
defence of a surly and self-righted race, who were little inclined to
show them common indulgence, far less gratitude. He judged equitably
between both parties; and while with the most patriotic steadiness he
resisted every attempt of the military to seize any thing with a high
hand—he set the example himself, and used every art of persuasion to
induce his countrymen to every concession that could conduce to the ease
and comfort of their protectors. So far, at length, he succeeded; that
when the regiment to which I allude, arrived in town, and showed in
general an amiable and obliging disposition, they were quartered in
different houses; the superior officers being lodged willingly by the
most respectable of the inhabitants, such as not having large families,
had room to accommodate them. The colonel and madame happened at the
time of these arrangements, to be at New-York.

In the mean while society began to assume a new aspect; of the
satellites, which, on various pretexts, official and commercial, had
followed the army, several had families, and those began to mingle more
frequently with the inhabitants, who were, as yet, too simple to detect
the surreptitious tone of lax morals and second-hand manners which
prevailed among many of those who had but very lately climbed up to the
stations they held, and in whose houses the European modes and
diversions were to be met with; these were not in the best style, yet
even in that style they began to be relished by some young persons, with
whom the power of novelty prevailed over that of habit; and in a few
rare instances, the influence of the young drew the old into a faint
consent to these attempted innovations; but with many the resistance was
not to be overcome.

In this state of matters, one guardian genius watched over the community
with unremitting vigilance. From the original settlement of the place
there had been a succession of good, quiet clergymen, who came from
Holland to take the command of this expatriated colony. These good men
found an easy charge among a people with whom the external duties of
religion were settled habits, which no one thought of dispensing with;
and where the primitive state of manners, and the constant occupation of
the mind in planting and defending a territory where every thing was, as
it were, to be new created, was a preservation to the morals. Religion
being never branded with the reproach of imputed hypocrisy, or darkened
by the frown of austere bigotry, was venerated even by those who were
content to glide thoughtless down the stream of time, without seriously
considering whither it was conveying them, till sorrow or sickness
reminded them of the great purpose for which they were indulged with the
privilege of existence.

The dominees, as these people called their ministers, contented
themselves with preaching in a sober and moderate strain to the people;
and living quietly in the retirement of their families, were little
heard of but in the pulpit; and they seemed to consider a studious
privacy as one of their chief duties. Domine Freylinghausen, however,
was not contented with this quietude, which he seemed to consider as
tending to languish into indifference. Ardent in his disposition,
eloquent in his preaching, animated and zealous in his conversation, and
frank and popular in his manners, he thought it his duty to awaken in
every breast that slumbering spirit of devotion, which he considered as
lulled by security, or drooping in the meridian of prosperity, like
tender plants in the blaze of sunshine. These he endeavoured to refresh
by daily exhortation, as well as by the exercise of his public duties.
Though rigid in some of his notions, his life was spotless, and his
concern for his people warm and affectionate. His endeavours to amend
and inspire them with happier desires and aims, were considered as the
labour of love, and rewarded by the warmest affection, and the most
profound veneration; and what to him was of much more value, by a
growing solicitude for the attainment of that higher order of
excellence, which it was his delight to point out to them. But while he
thus incessantly “allured to brighter worlds, and led the way,” he
might, perhaps, insensibly have acquired a taste of dominion, which
might make him unwilling to part with any portion of that most desirable
species of power, which subjects to us, not human actions only, but the
will which directs them. A vulgar ambition contents itself with power to
command obedience, but the more exalted and refined ambition aims at
domination over the mind. Hence the leaders of a sect, or even those who
have powers to awake the dying embers of pious fervour, sway the hearts
of their followers in a manner far more gratifying to them than any
enjoyment to be derived from temporal power. That this desire should
unconsciously gain ground in a virtuous and ardent mind, is not
wonderful, when one considers how the best propensities of the human
heart are flattered, by supposing that we only sway the minds of others,
to incline them to the paths of peace and happiness, and derive no other
advantage from this tacit sovereignty, but that of seeing those objects
of affectionate solicitude grow wiser and better.

To return to the apostolic and much beloved Freylinghausen. The progress
which this regiment made in the good graces of his flock, and the
gradual assimilation to English manners of a very inferior standard,
alarmed and grieved the good man not a little; and the intelligence he
received from some of the elders of his church, who had the honour of
lodging the more dissipated subalterns, did not administer much comfort
to him. By this time the Anglomania was beginning to spread. A sect
arose among the young people, who seemed resolved to assume a lighter
style of dress and manners, and to borrow their taste, in those
respects, from their new friends. This bade fair soon to undo all the
good pastor’s labours. The evil was daily growing—and what, alas! could
Domine Freylinghausen do but preach! This he did earnestly and even
angrily, but in vain. Many were exasperated, but none reclaimed. The
good domine, however, had those who shared his sorrows and resentments;
the elder and wiser heads of families, and, indeed, a great majority of
the primitive inhabitants, were steadfast against innovation. The
colonel of the regiment, who was a man of fashion and family, and
possessed talents for both good and evil purposes, was young and gay;
and being lodged in the house of a very wealthy citizen, who had before,
in some degree, affected the newer modes of living, so captivated him
with his good breeding and affability, that he was ready to humour any
scheme of diversion which the colonel and his associates proposed. Under
the auspices of this gallant commander, balls began to be concerted, and
a degree of flutter and frivolity to take place, which was as far from
elegance as it was from the honest, artless cheerfulness of the meetings
usual among them. The good domine more and more alarmed, not content
with preaching, now began to prophecy; but like Cassandra, or, to speak
as justly, though less poetically, like his whole fraternity, was doomed
always to deliver true predictions to those who never heeded them.


                              CHAP. XXXV.

                 Plays acted—Displeasure of the Domine.

NOW the very ultimatum of degeneracy, in the opinion of these simple
good people, was approaching; for now the officers, encouraged by the
success of all their projects for amusement, resolved to new fashion and
enlighten those amiable novices whom their former schemes had attracted
within the sphere of their influence; and, for this purpose, a private
theatre was fitted up, and preparations made for acting a play. Except
the Schuylers and their adopted family, there was not, perhaps, one of
the natives who understood what was meant by a play. And by this time,
the town, once so closely united by intermarriages and numberless other
ties, which could not exist in any other state of society, were divided
into two factions; one consisting almost entirely of such of the younger
class, as, having a smattering of New-York education, and a little more
of dress and vivacity, or, perhaps, levity, than the rest, were eager to
mingle in the society, and adopt the manners of those strangers. It is
but just, however, to add, that only a few of the more estimable were
included in this number; these, however they might have been captivated
with novelty and plausibility, were too much attached to their older
relations to give them pain, by an intimacy with people to whom an
impious neglect of duties the most sacred, was generally imputed, and
whose manner of treating their inferiors, at that distance from the
control of higher powers, was often such as to justify the imputation of
cruelty, which the severity of military punishments had given rise to.
The play, however, was acted in a barn, and pretty well attended,
notwithstanding the good Domine’s earnest charges to the contrary. It
was the Beaux Stratagem; no favourable specimen of the delicacy or
morality of the British theatre; and as for the wit it contains, very
little of that was level to the comprehension of the novices who were
there first initiated into a knowledge of the magic of the scene, yet
they “laughed consumedly,” as Scrub says, and actually did so, “because
they were talking of him.” They laughed at Scrub’s gestures and
appearance: and they laughed very heartily at seeing the gay young
ensigns, whom they had been used to dance with, flirting fans,
displaying great hoops, and with painted cheeks and coloured eyebrows,
sailing about in female habiliments. This was a jest palpable and level
to every understanding; and it was not only an excellent good one, but
lasted a long while; for every time they looked at them when restored to
their own habits, they laughed anew at the recollection of their late
masquerade. “It is much,” says Falstaff, “that a lie with a grave face,
and a jest with a sad brow, will do with a fellow who never had the ache
in his shoulders.” One need only look back to the first rude efforts at
comic humour which delighted our fathers, to know what gross and feeble
jests amuse the mind, as yet a stranger to refinement. The loud and
artless mirth so easily excited in a good-humoured child, the naivete of
its odd questions and ignorant wonder, which delight us while associated
with innocence and simplicity, would provoke the utmost disgust if we
met with them where we look for intelligence and decorous observances.
The simplicity of primitive manners, in what regards the petty
amusements and minute attentions to which we have become accustomed, is
exactly tantamount to that of childhood; it is a thing which, in our
state of society, we have no idea of. Those who are, from their
depressed situation, ignorant of the forms of polished life, know, at
least, that such exist; and either awkwardly imitate them, or carefully
avoid committing themselves, by betraying their ignorance. Here, while
this simplicity, which, by the by, was no more vulgar than that of
Shakspeare’s Miranda, with its concomitant purity, continued unbroken by
foreign modes, it had all the charm of undesigning childhood; but when
half education and ill supported pretensions took place of this sweet
attraction, it assumed a very different aspect; it was no longer
simplicity but vulgarity. There are things that every one feels and no
one can describe, and this is one of them.

But to return to our Mirandas and their theatrical heroes: the fame of
their exhibitions went abroad, and opinions were formed of them no way
favourable to the actors or to the audience. In this region of reality,
where rigid truth was always undisguised, they had not learned to
distinguish between fiction and falsehood. It was said that the
officers, familiar with every vice and every disguise, had not only
spent a whole night in telling lies in a counterfeited place, the
reality of which had never existed, but that they were themselves a lie,
and had degraded manhood, and broke through an express prohibition in
Scripture, by assuming female habits; that they had not only told lies,
but cursed and swore the whole night; and assumed the characters of
knaves, fools, and robbers, which every wise and good man held in
detestation, and no one would put on unless they felt themselves easy in
them. Painting their faces, of all other things, seemed most to violate
the Albanian ideas of decorum, and was looked upon as a most flagrant
abomination. Great and loud was the outcry produced by it. Little
skilled in sophistry, and strangers to all the arts “that make the worst
appear the better reason,” the young auditors could only say, “that
indeed it was very amusing; made them laugh heartily, and did harm to
nobody.” So harmless, indeed, and agreeable did this entertainment
appear to the new converts to fashion, that the Recruiting Officer was
given out for another night, to the great annoyance of Domine
Freylinghausen, who invoked heaven and earth to witness and avenge this
contempt, not only of his authority, but, as he expressed it, of the
source from whence it was derived. Such had been the sanctity of this
good man’s life, and the laborious diligence and awful earnestness with
which he inculcated the doctrines he taught, that they had produced a
correspondent effect, for the most part, on the lives of his hearers,
and led them to regard him as the next thing to an evangelist.
Accustomed to success in all his undertakings, and to “honour, love,
obedience, troops of friends,” and all that gratitude and veneration can
offer to its most distinguished object, this rebellion against his
authority, and contempt of his opinion, once the standard by which every
one’s judgment was regulated, wounded him very deeply. The abhorrence
with which he inspired the parents of the transgressors, among whom were
many young men of spirit and intelligence, was the occasion of some
family disagreements, a thing formerly scarcely known. Those young
people, accustomed to regard their parents with implicit reverence, were
unwilling to impute to them unqualified harshness, and therefore removed
the blame of a conduct so unusual to their spiritual guide; “and while
he thought, good easy man, full surely his greatness was a ripening,
nipt his root.” Early one Monday morning, after the Domine had, on the
preceding day, been peculiarly eloquent on the subject of theatrical
amusements, and pernicious innovations, some unknown person left within
his door a club, a pair of old shoes, a crust of black bread, and a
dollar. The worthy pastor was puzzled to think what this could mean, but
had it too soon explained to him. It was an emblematic message, to
signify the desire entertained of his departure. The stick was to push
him away, the shoes to wear on the road, and the bread and money a
provision for his journey. These symbols, appear, in former days, to
have been more commonly used, and better understood than at present; for
instance, we find that when Robert Bruce, afterwards king of Scotland,
was in a kind of honourable captivity in the court of England; when his
friend, the Earl of Glocester, discovered that it was the intention of
the king to imprison him in the tower, lest he should escape to Scotland
and assert his rights, unwilling by word or writing to discover what had
passed in council, and at the same time desirous to save his friend, he
sent him a pair of gilt spurs and twelve crowns, and ordered the servant
to carry them to him as returning what he had formerly borrowed from
him. This mysterious gift and message was immediately understood, and
proved the means of restoring Bruce, and, with him, the laws and liberty
of his native kingdom. Very different, however, was the effect produced
by this mal a-propos symbol of dislike. Too conscious, and too fond of
popularity, the pastor languished under a sense of imaginary
degradation, grew jealous, and thought every one alienated from him,
because a few giddy young people were stimulated, by momentary
resentments, to express disapprobation in this vague and dubious manner.
Thus, insensibly, do vanity and self-opinion, mingle with our highest
duties. Had the Domine, satisfied with the testimony of a good
conscience, gone on in the exercise of his duty, and been above allowing
little personal resentments to mingle with his zeal for what he thought
right, he might have felt himself far above an insult of this kind; but
he found to his cost, that “a habitation giddy and unsure hath he, that
buildeth on the fickle heart” of the unsteady, wavering multitude.


                              CHAP. XXXVI.

    Return of madame—The Domine leaves his people—Fulfilment of his

MADAME now returned to town with the colonel, and finding this general
disorder and division of sentiments with regard to the pastor, as well
as to the adoption of new modes, endeavoured, with her usual good sense,
to moderate and to heal. She was always of opinion that the increase of
wealth should be accompanied with a proportionate progress in refinement
and intelligence; but she had a particular dislike to peoples forsaking
a respectable plainness of dress and manners, for mere imperfect
imitation and inelegant finery. She knew too well the progress of
society to expect, that, as it grew wealthy and numerous, it would
retain its pristine purity; but then she preferred a gradual abolition
of old habits, that people, as they receded from their original modes of
thinking and living, might rather become simply elegant than tawdrily
fine; and though she all along wished, in every possible way, to promote
the comfort of the brave men to whom the country owed so much, she by no
means thought an indiscriminate admission of those strangers among the
youth of the place, so unpractised in the ways of the world, an
advisable measure: she was particularly displeased with the person in
whose house the colonel of the regiment lodged, for so entirely
domesticating a showy stranger, of whose real character he knew so
little.—Liberal and judicious in her views, she did not altogether
approve the austerity of the Domine’s opinions, nor the vehemence of his
language; and, as a Christian, she still less approved his dejection and
concern at the neglect or rudeness of a few thoughtless young persons.
In vain the colonel and madame soothed and cheered him with counsel and
with kindness; night and day he mused on the imagined insult; nor could
the joint efforts of the most respectable inhabitants prevent his heart
from being corroded with the sense of imagined unkindness. At length he
took the resolution of leaving those people so dear to him, to visit his
friends in Holland, promising to return in a short time, whenever his
health was restored, and his spirits more composed. A Dutch ship
happened about this time to touch at New-York, on board of which the
Domine embarked; but as the vessel belonging to Holland was not expected
to return, and he did not, as he had promised, either write or return in
an English ship, his congregation remained for a great while unsupplied,
while his silence gave room for the most anxious and painful
conjectures: these were not soon removed, for the intercourse with
Holland was not frequent or direct. At length, however, the sad reality
was but too well ascertained. This victim of lost popularity had
appeared silent and melancholy to his ship-mates, and walked constantly
on deck. At length he suddenly disappeared, leaving it doubtful whether
he had fallen overboard by accident, or was prompted by despair to
plunge into eternity. If this latter was the case, it must have been the
consequence of a temporary fit of insanity; for no man had led a more
spotless life, and no man was more beloved by all that were intimately
known to him. He was, indeed, before the fatal affront, which made such
an undue impression on him, considered as a blessing to the place; and
his memory was so beloved, and his fate so regretted, that this, in
addition to some other occurrences falling out about the same time,
entirely turned the tide of opinion, and rendered the thinking as well
as the violent party, more averse to innovations than ever. Had the
Albanians been Catholics, they would probably have canonized M.
Freylinghausen, whom they considered as a martyr to levity and
innovation. He prophesied a great deal; such prophecy as ardent and
comprehensive minds have delivered, without any other inspiration but
that of the sound, strong intellect, which augurs the future from a
comparison of the past, and a rational deduction of probable
consequences. The affection that was entertained for his memory induced
people to listen to the most romantic stories of his being landed on an
island, and become a hermit; taken up into a ship when floating on the
sea, into which he had accidentally fallen, and carried to some remote
country, from which he was expected to return, fraught with experience
and faith. I remember some of my earliest reveries to have been occupied
by the mysterious disappearance of this hard-fated pastor.

In the mean while new events were unfolding more fully to the Albanians
the characters of their lately acquired friends. Scandal of fifty years
standing, must, by this time, have become almost pointless. The house
where the young colonel, formerly mentioned, was billetted, and made his
quarters good by every art of seductive courtesy, was occupied by a
person wealthy, and somewhat vain and shallow, who had an only daughter;
I am not certain, but I think she was his only child. She was young,
lively, bold, conceited, and exceedingly well looking. Artless and
fearless of consequences, this thoughtless creature saw every day a
person who was no doubt as much pleased with her as one could be with
mere youth, beauty, and kindness, animated by vivacity, and
distinguished from her companions by all the embellishments which wealth
could procure in that unfashioned quarter; his heart, however, was safe,
as will appear from the sequel. Madame foresaw the consequences likely
to result from an intimacy daily growing, where there was little
prudence on the one side, and as little of that honour which should
respect unsuspecting innocence on the other. She warned the family, but
in vain; they considered marriage as the worst consequence that could
ensue; and this they could not easily have been reconciled to,
notwithstanding the family and fortune of the lover, had not his address
and attentions charmed them into a kind of tacit acquiescence; for, as a
Roman citizen, in the proud days of the republic, would have refused his
daughter to a king, an Albanian, at one period, would rather have his
daughter married to the meanest of his fellow-citizens, than to a person
of the highest rank in the army, because they thought a young person, by
such a marriage, was not only forever alienated from her family, but
from those pure morals and plain manners, in which they considered the
greatest possible happiness to exist. To return:

While these gaieties were going on, and the unhappy Domine embarking on
the voyage which terminated his career, an order came for the colonel to
march. This was the only commander who had ever been in town, who had
not spent any time, or asked any counsel at the Flats. Meanwhile, his
Calista, (for such she was,) tore her hair in frantic agonies at his
departure; not that she in the least doubted of his returning soon to
give a public sanction to their union, but lest he should prove a victim
to the war then existing; and because, being very impetuous, and
unaccustomed to control, the object of her wishes had been delayed to a
future period. In a short time, things began to assume a more serious
aspect; and her father came one day posting to the Flats, on his way to
the lakes, seeking counsel too late, and requesting the aid of their
influence to bring about a marriage, which should cover the disgrace of
his family. They had little hopes of his success, yet he proceeded; and
finding the colonel deaf to all his arguments, he had recourse to
entreaty, and finally offered to divest himself of all but a mere
subsistence, and give him such a fortune as was never heard of in that
country. This, with an angel, as the fond father thought her, appeared
irresistible; but no! heir to a considerable fortune in his own country,
and, perhaps, inwardly despising a romp, whom he had not considered from
the first as estimable, he was not to be soothed or bribed into
compliance. The dejected father returned disconsolate; and the
astonishment and horror this altogether novel occurrence occasioned in
the town, was not to be described. Of such a circumstance there was no
existing precedent; half the city were related to the fair culprit, for
penitent she could hardly be called. This unexpected refusal threw the
whole city into consternation. One would have thought there had been an
earthquake; and all the insulted Domine’s predictions rose to
remembrance, armed with avenging terrors.

Many other things occurred to justify the Domine’s caution, and the
extreme reluctance which the elders of the land showed to all such
associations. All this madame greatly lamented, yet could not acquit the
parties concerned, whose duty it was, either to keep their daughters
from that society for which their undisguised simplicity of heart
unfitted them, or give them that culture and usage of life, which
enables a young person to maintain a certain dignity, and to revolt at
the first trespass on decorum. Her own protégés were instances of this;
who, having their minds early stored with sentiments, such as would
enable them truly to estimate their own value, and judge of the
characters and pretensions of those who conversed with them; all
conducted themselves with the utmost propriety, though daily mixing with
strangers, and were solicited in marriage by the first people in the
province, who thought themselves happy to select companions from such a
school of intelligence and politeness, where they found beauty of the
first order informed by mind, and graced by the most pleasing manners.


                             CHAP. XXXVII.

                       Death of Colonel Schuyler.

THIS year (1757) was marked by an event that not only clouded the future
life of madame, but occasioned the deepest concern to the whole
province. Colonel Schuyler was scarcely sensible of the decline of life,
except some attacks of the rheumatism, to which the people of that
country are peculiarly subject. He enjoyed sound health and equal
spirits, and had, upon the whole, from the temperance of his habits, and
the singular equanimity of his mind, a more likely prospect of
prolonging his happy and useful life, than falls to the lot of most
people. He had, however, in very cold weather, gone to town to visit a
relation, then ill of a pleurisy; and having sat awhile by the invalid,
and conversed with him both on his worldly and spiritual affairs, he
returned very thoughtful. On rising the next morning, he began the day,
as had for many years been his custom, with singing some verses of a
psalm in his closet. Madame observed that he was interrupted by a most
violent fit of sneezing; this returned again a little while after, when
he calmly told her that he felt the symptoms of a pleuritic attack,
which had begun in the same manner with that of his friend; that the
event might possibly prove fatal; but that knowing, as she did, how long
a period[14] of more than common felicity had been granted to their
mutual affection, and with what tranquillity he was enabled to look
forward to that event which is common to all, and which would be
earnestly desired if withheld; he expected of her that, whatever might
happen, she would look back with gratitude, and forward with hope; and,
in the mean time, honour his memory, and her own profession of faith, by
continuing to live in the manner they had hitherto done, that he might
have the comfort of thinking that his house might still be an asylum to
the helpless and the stranger, and a desirable place of meeting to his
most valued friends: this was spoken with an unaltered countenance, and
in a calm and even tone. Madame, however, was alarmed: friends from all
quarters poured in, with the most anxious concern for the event. By this
time there was an hospital built at Albany for the troops, with a
regular medical establishment. No human aid was wanting, and the
composure of madame astonished every one. This, however, was founded on
hope; for she never could let herself imagine the danger serious, being
flattered both by the medical attendants, and the singular fortitude of
the patient. He, however, continued to arrange all things for the change
he expected. He left his houses in town and country, his plate, and, in
short, all his effects, to his wife, at her sole disposal; his estates
were finally left to the orphan son of his nephew, then a child in the
family; but madame was to enjoy the rents during her life.

His negroes, for whom he had a great affection, were admitted every day
to visit him; and with all the ardour of attachment peculiar to that
kind-hearted race, implored heaven day and night for his recovery. The
day before his death, he had them all called around his bed, and in
their presence besought of madame that she would upon no account sell
any of them. This request he would not have made could he have foreseen
the consequences. On the fifth day of his illness he quietly breathed
his last; having expressed, while he was able to articulate, the most
perfect confidence, in the mercy of the God whom he had diligently
served and entirely trusted; and the most tender attachment to the
friends he was about to leave.

Footnote 14:

  Forty years.

It would be a vain attempt to describe the sorrow of a family like his,
who had all been accustomed from childhood to look up to him as the
first of mankind, and the medium through which they received every
earthly blessing; while the serenity of his wisdom, the sweet and gentle
cast of his heartfelt piety, and the equable mildness of his temper,
rendered him incapable of embittering obligations; so that his generous
humanity and liberal hospitality, were adorned by all the graces that
courtesy could add to kindness. The public voice was loud in its
plaudits and lamentations. In the various characters of a patriot, a
hero, and a saint, he was dear to all the friends of valour, humanity,
and public spirit; while his fervent loyalty and unvaried attachment to
the king, and the laws of that country by which his own was protected,
endeared him to all the servants of government; who knew they never
should meet with another equally able, or equally disposed to smooth
their way in the paths of duty assigned to them.

To government this loss would have been irreparable, had not two
singular and highly meritorious characters a little before this time
made their appearance, and by superiority of merit and abilities, joined
with integrity seldom to be met with any where, in some degree supplied
the loss to the public. One of these was Sir William Johnson, the Indian
superintendent, formerly mentioned; the other was Cadwallader Colder,
for a very long period of years, lieutenant governor, (indeed, virtually
governor,) of New-York; who, in point of political sagacity, and
thorough knowledge of those he governed, was fully capable to supply
that place. This shrewd and able ruler, whose origin, I believe, was not
very easily traced, was said to be a Scotchman, and had raised himself
solely by his merit to the station he held. In this he maintained
himself by indefatigable diligence, rigid justice, and the most perfect
impartiality. He neither sought to be feared nor loved, but merely to be
esteemed and trusted, and thus fixed his power on the broad foundation
of public utility. Successive governors, little acquainted with the
country, and equally strangers to business, found it convenient to leave
the management with him; who confessedly understood it better than any
one else, and who had no friends but a few personal ones, and no enemies
but a few public ones, who envied his station. It was very extraordinary
to see a man rule so long and so steadily, where he was merely and
coldly esteemed; with so few of the advantages that generally procure
success in the world, without birth or alliance; he had not even the
recommendation of a pleasing appearance or insinuating address. He was
diminutive, and somewhat more than high-shouldered. The contrast betwixt
the wealth of his mind and the poverty of his outward appearance, might
remind one of Æsop, or rather of the faithful though ill-shaped herald
of Ulysses:

                 “Eurybutes, in whose large mind alone,
                  Ulysses viewed the image of his own.”

Thus it was with Colden. Among the number of governors who succeeded
each other in his time, if, by chance, one happened to be a man of
ability, he estimated his merit at its just rate; and whatever original
measure he might find it necessary to take for the public good, left the
common routine of business in the hands of that tried integrity and
experience in which he found them; satisfied with the state and
popularity of governor, on which the other had not a wish to encroach.
Colden, however, enriched his own family, in a manner, on the whole, not
objectionable. He procured from the successive governors various grants
of land, which, though valuable in quality, were not, from the
remoteness of their situation, an object of desire to settlers; and
purchased grants from many who had obtained the property of them, among
which were different governors and military commanders. He allowed this
mine of future wealth to lie quietly ripening to its value, till the
lands near it were, in process of time, settled, and it became a
desirable object to purchase or hold on lease.


                             CHAP. XXXVIII.

  Mrs. Schuyler’s arrangements and conduct after the colonel’s death.

THE mind of our good aunt, which had never before yielded to calamity,
seemed altogether subdued by the painful separation from her husband.
Never having left her consort’s bedside, or known the refreshment of a
quiet sleep, during his illness, she sunk at first into a kind of
torpor, which her friends willingly mistook for the effects of
resignation. This was soon succeeded by the most acute sorrow, and a
dangerous illness, the consequence of her mental suffering. In spring
she slowly recovered, and endeavoured to find consolation in returning
to the regulation of her family, and the society of her friends, for
both of which she had been for some months disqualified. Her nieces, the
Miss Cuylers, were a great comfort to her, from their affectionate
attention, and the pleasure she took in seeing them growing up to be all
that her maternal affection could wish. In the social grief of
Pedrom[15] who gave all his time to her during the early part of her
widowhood, she also found consolation; and whenever she was able to
receive them, her friends came from all quarters to express their
sympathy and their respect. The colonel’s heir and her own eldest nephew
made, with one of her nieces, a part of her family; and the necessity of
attending to such affairs as formerly lay within the colonel’s province,
served further to occupy her mind; yet her thoughts continually recurred
to that loss, which she daily felt more and more. She buried the colonel
in a spot within a short distance of his own house, in which he had
formerly desired to repose, that his remains might not quit a scene so
dear to him; and that the place rendered sacred by his ashes, might in
future be a common sepulchre to his family; that he might in death, as
in life, be surrounded by the objects of his affection and beneficence.
This consecrated spot, about the size of a small flower garden, was
inclosed for this purpose, and a tombstone, with a suitable inscription,
erected over the grave, where this excellent person’s relict proposed
her ashes should mingle with his. In the mean time, though by
continually speaking of her deceased friend, she passed the day without
much visible agitation, she had fallen into a habit of vigilance—rarely
sleeping till morning, and suffering through the silent hours from a
periodical agony, for such it might be called, with which she was
regularly visited. She had a confidante in this secret suffering; a
decent and pious woman, who, on the death of her husband, a serjeant in
the army, had been received into this family as a kind of upper
domestic; and found herself so happy, and made herself so useful in
teaching, reading, and needle-work to the children, that she still
remained. This good woman slept in aunt’s room; and when all the family
were at rest, she used to accompany her to a small distance from the
tomb which contained those remains so dear to her. Madame, in the mean
time, entered alone into the hallowed inclosure, and there indulged her
unavailing sorrow. This she continued to do for some time, as she
thought, unobserved; but being very tall, and become large as she
advanced in life, her figure, arrayed in her night-clothes was very
conspicuous, and was, on different occasions, observed by neighbours,
who occasionally passed by at night; the consequence was, that it was
rumoured that an apparition was seen every night near the colonel’s
grave. This came to the ears of the people of the house, some of whom
had the curiosity to watch at a distance, and saw the dreaded form
appear, and, as they thought, vanish. This they carefully concealed from
their revered patroness. Every one else in the house, however, heard it,
and a pensive air of awe and mystery overspread the whole family. Her
confidante, however, told her of it; and the consequence of this
improper indulgence of sorrow greatly increased the dislike which madame
had always expressed for mystery and concealment. She was unwilling to
let a family, to whom she had always set such an example of
self-command, know of her indulging a weakness so unsuitable to her
character and time of life. At the same time, however, she was resolved
not to allow the belief of a supernatural appearance to fasten on their
minds: unwilling to mention the subject herself, she was forced to
submit to the humiliation of having it revealed by her confidante, to
quiet the minds of the children and domestics, and reconcile them to
solitude and moonlight.

Footnote 15:

  The colonel’s brother Peter, so called.

Her mind was at this time roused from her own peculiar sorrows, by an
alarming event, which disturbed the public tranquillity, and awakened
the fears of the whole province, by laying open the western frontier.
This was the taking of Oswego by the French, which fortress was the only
barrier, except the valour and conduct of Sir William Johnson and his
Mohawk friends, by which the town was protected on that side. The poor
people, who were driven by the terror of this event from the settlements
in that quarter, excited the sympathy of liberal-minded persons; and the
interest which she took in their distresses, was one of the first things
that roused the attention of our good aunt to her wonted beneficent
exertions. General Bradstreet, who had a high respect for her
understanding, and consulted her on all emergencies, had a profound
reverence for the colonel’s memory, and continued his intimacy in the
family. The critical situation of things at this time occasioned Lord
Loudon to be sent out as commander of the forces in America. Madame
received this nobleman when he visited Albany, and gave him most useful
information.—He was introduced to her by General Bradstreet, whose power
and consequence might be said to increase with the disasters of the
country; his department was a very lucrative one, and enabled him,
first, greatly to enrich himself, and, in process of time, his friend
Philip Schuyler, who, from his deputy, became, in a manner, his
coadjutor. Albany now swarmed with engineers, planners, architects, and
boat-builders. Various military characters, since highly distinguished,
whose names I do not recollect, though once familiar to me, obtained
introductions to madame, who began once more to occupy her mind with
public matters, and to open her house to the more respected and well
known characters among the military. Her brother-in-law, whom I have so
often mentioned under the affectionate appellation of Pedrom, by which
he was known in the family, being within less than half an hour’s walk,
spent much of his time with her, and received her company. This he was
well qualified to do, being a person of a comely dignified appearance,
and frank, easy manners, inferior only to his late brother in depth of
reflection, and comprehension of mind.


                              CHAP. XXXIX.

                   Mohawk Indians—The superintendent.

BY this time matters had gradually assumed a new aspect on this great
continent. The settlement at Albany was no longer an insulated region,
ruled and defended by the wisdom and courage diffused through the
general mass of the inhabitants; but begun, in the ordinary course of
things, to incorporate with the general state. The Mohawk Indians were
so engaged by treaties to assist the army, in its now regular operations
to the westward, that they came less frequently to visit Albany. A line
of forts had, at a prodigious expense, been erected, leading from Albany
to Upper Canada, by the Mohawk river, and the lakes of Ontario, Niagara,
&c. Many respectable engineers were engaged constructing these; some of
them I remember were Swedes, persons of a graceful appearance, polished
manners, and very correct conduct.—These strangers conducted matters
better than our own countrymen; being more accommodating in their
manners, and better accustomed to a severe climate, and inconveniences
of every kind. They were frequent guests at the Flats, were a pleasing
accession to the society, and performed their duty to the public with a
degree of honour and fidelity that checked abuses in others, and rescued
the service they were engaged in, from the reproach which it had
incurred, in consequence of those fungi of society which had at first
intruded into it.

By the advice of the Schuylers, there was now on the Mohawk river a
superintendent of Indian affairs; the importance of which began to be
fully understood. He was regularly appointed, and paid by government.
This was the justly celebrated Sir William Johnson, who held an office
difficult both to execute and define. He might indeed be called the
tribune of the five nations; whose claims he asserted, whose rights he
protected, and over whose minds he possessed a greater sway than any
other individual had ever attained. He was indeed calculated to
conciliate and retain the affections of this brave people; possessing in
common with them many of those peculiarities of mind and manners, that
distinguished them from others. He was an uncommonly tall, well made
man: with a fine countenance; which, however, had rather an expression
of dignified sedateness, approaching to melancholy. He appeared to be
taciturn, never wasting words on matters of no importance: but highly
eloquent when the occasion called forth his powers. He possessed
intuitive sagacity, and the most entire command of temper, and of
countenance. He did by no means lose sight of his own interest, but on
the contrary raised himself to power and wealth, in an open and active
manner; not disdaining any honourable means of benefiting himself: but
at the same time the bad policy, as well as meanness of sacrificing
respectability to snatching at petty present advantages, were so obvious
to him, that he laid the foundation of his future prosperity on the
broad and deep basis of honourable dealing, accompanied by the most
vigilant attention to the objects he had in view; acting so as, without
the least departure from integrity on the one hand, or inattention to
his affairs on the other, to conduct himself in such a manner, as gave
an air of magnanimity to his character, that made him the object of
universal confidence. He purchased from the Indians (having the grant
confirmed by his sovereign) a large and fertile tract of land upon the
Mohawk river; where having cleared and cultivated the ground, he built
two spacious and convenient places of residence: known afterwards by the
names of Johnson castle, and Johnson hall. The first was on a fine
eminence, stockaded round, and slightly fortified; the last was built on
the side of the river, on a most fertile and delightful plain,
surrounded with an ample and well cultivated domain: and that again
encircled by European settlers; who had first come there as architects,
or workmen, and had been induced by Sir William’s liberality, and the
singular beauty of the district, to continue. His trade with the five
nations was very much for their advantage; he supplying them on more
equitable terms than any trader, and not indulging the excesses in
regard to strong liquors, which others were too easily induced to
do.—The castle contained the store in which all goods were laid up,
which were meant for the Indian traffic, and all the peltry received in
exchange. The hall was his summer residence, and the place round which
his greatest improvements were made. Here this singular man lived like a
little sovereign; kept an excellent table for strangers, and officers,
whom the course of their duty now frequently led into these wilds, and
by confiding entirely on the Indians, and treating them with unvaried
truth and justice, without ever yielding to solicitation what he had
once refused, he taught them to repose entire confidence in him: he, in
his turn, became attached to them, wore in winter almost entirely their
dress and ornaments, and contracted a kind of alliance with them; for
becoming a widower in the prime of life, he connected himself with an
Indian maiden, daughter to a sachem, who possessed an uncommonly
agreeable person, and good understanding; and whether ever formally
married to him according to our usage, or not, contrived to live with
him in great union and affection all his life. So perfect was his
dependence on those people, whom his fortitude and other manly virtues
had attached to him, that when they returned from their summer
excursions, and exchanged the last year’s furs for fire-arms, &c. they
used to pass a few days at the castle; when his family and most of his
domestics were down at the hall. There they were all liberally
entertained by their friend; and five hundred of them have been known,
for nights together, after drinking pretty freely, to lie around him on
the floor, while he was the only white person in a house containing
great quantities of every thing that was to them valuable, or desirable.

While Sir William thus united in his mode of life the calm urbanity of a
liberal and extensive trader, with the splendid hospitality, the
numerous attendance, and the plain though dignified manners of an
ancient baron, the female part of his family were educated in a manner
so entirely dissimilar from that of all other young people of their sex
and station, that as a matter of curiosity, it is worthy a recital.
These two young ladies inherited, in a great measure, the personal
advantages and strength of understanding for which their father was so
distinguished. Their mother dying when they were young, bequeathed the
care of them to a friend. This friend was the widow of an officer who
had fallen in battle. I am not sure whether she was devout, and shunned
the world for fear of its pollutions, or romantic, and despised its
selfish bustling spirit; but so it was, that she seemed utterly to
forget it, and devoted herself to her fair pupils. To these she taught
needle-work of the most elegant and ingenious kinds, reading and
writing. Thus quietly passed their childhood; their monitress not taking
the smallest concern in family management, nor, indeed, the least
interest in any worldly thing but themselves; far less did she inquire
about the fashions or diversions which prevailed in a world she had
renounced, and from which she seemed to wish her pupils to remain for
ever estranged. Never was any thing so uniform as their dress, their
occupations, and the general tenor of their lives. In the morning they
rose early, read their prayer-book, I believe, but certainly their
bible, fed their birds, tended their flowers, and breakfasted; then were
employed for some hours with unwearied perseverance, at fine
needle-work, for the ornamental parts of dress, which were the fashion
of the day, without knowing to what use they were to be put, as they
never wore them; and had not at the age of sixteen ever seen a lady,
excepting each other and their governess; they then read, as long as
they chose, the voluminous romances of the last century, of which their
friend had an ample collection, or Rollin’s Ancient History, the only
books they had ever seen; after dinner, they regularly in summer took a
long walk; or an excursion in the sleigh, in winter, with their friend,
and then returned and resumed their wonted occupations, with the sole
variation of a stroll in the garden in summer, and a game at chess or
shuttle-cock in winter. Their dress was full as simple and uniform as
every thing else; they wore wrappers of the finest chintz, and green
silk petticoats—and this the whole year round without variation. Their
hair, which was long and beautiful, was tied behind with a simple
ribbon; a large calash shaded each from the sun, and in winter they had
long scarlet mantles that covered them from head to foot. Their father
did not live with them, but visited them every day in their apartment.
This innocent and uniform life they led, till the death of their
monitress, which happened when the eldest was not quite seventeen. On
some future occasion I shall satisfy the curiosity which this short but
faithful account of these amiable recluses has possibly excited.[16]

Footnote 16:

  These ladies married officers, who, in succession, lived as
  aides-de-camp with their father. Their manners soon grew easy; they
  readily acquired the habits of society, and made excellent wives.


                               CHAP. XL.

                     General Abercrombie—Lord Howe.

I MUST now return to Albany, and to the projected expedition.

General Abercrombie, who commanded on the northern lakes, was a brave
and able man, though rather too much attached to the military schools of
those days. To accommodate himself to the desultory and uncertain
warfare of the woods, where sagacity, ready presence of mind, joined
with the utmost caution, and a condescension of opinion to our Indian
allies, was of infinitely more consequence than rules and tactics, which
were mere shackles and incumbrances in this contention, with
difficulties and perplexities more harassing than mere danger. Indeed,
when an ambuscade or sudden onset was followed by defeat here, (as in
Braddock’s case,) the result reminded one of the route of Absalom’s
army; where, we are told, the wood devoured more than the sword. The
general was a frequent guest with madame, when the nature of his command
would permit him to relax from the duties that occupied him. He had his
men encamped below Albany, in that great field which I have formerly
described, as the common pasture for the town. Many of the officers were
quartered in the fort and town; but Lord Howe always lay in his tent,
with the regiment which he commanded; and which he modelled in such a
manner, that they were ever after considered as an example to the whole
American army, who gloried in adopting all those rigid, yet salutary
regulations, to which this young hero readily submitted, to enforce his
commands by example.

Above the pedantry of holding up standards of military rules, where it
was impossible to practise them, and the narrow spirit of preferring the
modes of his own country, to those proved by experience, to suit that in
which he was to act, Lord Howe laid aside all pride and prejudice, and
gratefully accepted counsel from those whom he knew to be best qualified
to direct him. Madame was delighted with the calm steadiness with which
he carried through the austere rules which he found it necessary to lay
down. In the first place, he forbade all displays of gold and scarlet,
in the rugged march they were about to undertake, and set the example by
wearing himself an ammunition coat, that is to say, one of the surplus
soldier’s coats cut short. This was a necessary precaution, because in
the woods, the hostile Indians, who started from behind the trees,
usually caught at the long and heavy skirts then worn by the soldiers;
and for the same reason he ordered the muskets to be shortened, that
they might not, as on former occasions, be snatched from behind by these
agile foes. To prevent the march of his regiment from being descried at
a distance by the glittering of their arms, the barrels of their guns
were all blackened; and to save them from the tearing of bushes, the
stings of insects, &c. he set them the example of wearing leggins, a
kind of buskin, made of strong woollen cloth, formerly described as a
part of the Indian dress. The greatest privation to the young and vain
yet remained. Hair well dressed, and in great quantity, was then
considered as the greatest possible ornament, which those who had it
took the utmost care to display to advantage, and to wear in a bag or
queue, which ever they fancied. Lord Howe’s was fine and very abundant;
he, however, cropped it, and ordered every one else to do the same.
Every morning he rose very early, and, after giving his orders, rode out
to the Flats, breakfasted, and spent some time in conversation with his
friends there; and when in Albany, received all manner of useful
information from the worthy magistrate, Cornelius Cuyler. Another point
which this young Lycurgus of the camp wished to establish, was that of
not carrying any thing that was not absolutely necessary. An apparatus
of tables, chairs and such other luggage, he thought highly absurd,
where people had to force their way with unspeakable difficulty, to
encounter an enemy free from all such encumbrances. The French had long
learnt how little convenience could be studied on such occasions as the

When his lordship got matters arranged to his satisfaction, he invited
his officers to dine with him in his tent. They gladly assembled at the
hour appointed, but were surprised to see no chairs or tables; there
were, however, bear-skins spread like a carpet. His lordship welcomed
them, and sat down on a small log of wood; they followed his example,
and presently the servants set down a large dish of pork and pease. His
lordship, taking a sheath from his pocket, out of which he produced a
knife and fork, began to cut and divide the meat. They sat in a kind of
awkward suspense, which he interrupted, by asking if it were possible
that soldiers like them, who had been so long destined for such a
service, should not be provided with portable implements of this kind?
and finally relieved them from their embarrassment, by distributing to
each a case the same as his own, which he had provided for the purpose.
The austere regulations, and constant self-denial which he imposed upon
the troops he commanded, were patiently borne, because he was not only
gentle in his manners, but generous and humane in a very high degree,
and exceedingly attentive to the health and real necessities of the
soldiery. Among many instances of this, a quantity of powdered ginger
was given to every man; and the sergeants were ordered to see, that
when, in the course of marching, the soldiers arrived hot and tired at
the banks of any stream, they should not be permitted to stoop to drink,
as they generally inclined to do, but obliged to lift water in their
canteens, and mix ginger with it. This became afterwards a general
practice; and in those aguish swamps, through which the troops were
forced to march, was the means of saving many lives. Aunt Schuyler, as
this amiable young officer familiarly styled his maternal friend, had
the utmost esteem for him; and the greatest hope that he would, at some
future period, redress all those evils that had formerly impeded the
service, and, perhaps, plant the British standard on the walls of
Quebec. But this honour another young hero was destined to achieve;
whose virtues were to be illustrated by the splendour of victory, the
only light by which the multitude can see the merits of a soldier.

The Schuylers regarded this expedition with a mixture of doubt and
dismay, knowing too well, from the sad retrospect of former failures,
how little valour and discipline availed where regular troops had to
encounter unseen foes, and with difficulties arising from the nature of
the ground, for which military science afforded no remedy. Of General
Abercrombie’s worth and valour they had the highest opinion; but they
had no opinion of attacking an enemy so subtle and experienced on their
own ground, in entrenchments, and this they feared he would have the
temerity to attempt. In the meantime preparations were making for the
attempt. The troops were marched in detachments past the Flats, and each
detachment quartered for a night on the common, or in the offices. One
of the first of these was commanded by Lee, of frantic celebrity, who
afterwards, in the American war, joined the opponents of government, and
was then a captain in the British service. Captain Lee had neglected to
bring the customary warrants for impressing horses and oxen, and
procuring a supply of various necessaries, to be paid for by the agents
of government on showing the usual documents; he, however, seized every
thing he wanted where he could most readily find it, as if he were in a
conquered country; and not content with this violence, poured forth a
volley of execrations on those who presumed to question his right of
appropriating for his troops every thing that could be serviceable to
them: even madame, accustomed to universal respect, and to be considered
as the friend and benefactress of the army, was not spared; and the aids
which she never failed to bestow on those whom she saw about to expose
their lives for the general defence, were rudely demanded, or violently
seized. Never did the genuine christianity of this exalted character
shine more brightly than in this exigency; her countenance never
altered, and she used every argument to restrain the rage of her
domestics, and the clamour of her neighbours, who were treated in the
same manner. Lee marched on after having done all the mischief in his
power, and was the next day succeeded by Lord Howe, who was indignant on
hearing what had happened, and astonished at the calmness with which
madame bore the treatment she had received. She soothed him by telling
him, that she knew too well the value of protection from a danger so
imminent, to grow captious with her deliverers on account of a single
instance of irregularity, and only regretted that they should have
deprived her of her wonted pleasure, in freely bestowing whatever could
advance the service, or refresh the exhausted troops. They had a long
and very serious conversation that night. In the morning his lordship
proposed setting out very early; but when he rose was astonished to find
madame waiting, and breakfast ready: he smiled and said he would not
disappoint her, as it was hard to say when he might again breakfast with
a lady. Impressed with an unaccountable degree of concern about the fate
of the enterprise in which he was embarked, she again repeated her
counsels and her cautions; and when he was about to depart, embraced him
with the affection of a mother, and shed many tears, a weakness which
she did not often give way to.

Meantime, the best prepared and disciplined body of forces that had ever
been assembled in America, were proceeding on an enterprise, that, to
the experience and sagacity of the Schuylers, appeared a hopeless, or,
at least a very desperate one. A general gloom overspread the family;
this, at all times large, was now augmented by several of the relations
both of the colonel and madame, who had visited them at that time, to be
nearer the scene of action, and get the readiest and most authentic
intelligence; for the apprehended consequence of a defeat was, the
pouring in of the French troops into the interior of the province; in
which case Albany might be abandoned to the enraged savages attending
the French army.

In the afternoon a man was seen coming on horseback from the north,
galloping violently, without his hat. Pedrom, as he was familiarly
called, the colonel’s only surviving brother, was with her, and ran
instantly to inquire, well knowing he rode express. The man galloped on,
crying out that Lord Howe was killed. The mind of our good aunt had been
so engrossed by her anxiety and fears for the event impending, and so
impressed by the merit and magnanimity of her favourite hero, that her
wonted firmness sunk under this stroke, and she broke out into bitter
lamentations. This had such an effect on her friends and domestics, that
shrieks and sobs of anguish echoed through every part of the house. Even
those who were too young or too old to enter into the public calamity,
were affected by the violent grief of aunt, who, in general, had too
much self-command to let others witness her sorrows.—Lord Howe was shot
from behind a tree, probably by some Indian; and the whole army were
inconsolable for a loss they too well knew to be irreparable. This
stroke, however, they soon found to be “portent and pain, a menace and a
blow;” but this dark prospect was cheered for a moment by a deceitful
gleam of hope, which only added to the bitterness of disappointment.


                               CHAP. XLI.

      Total Defeat at Ticonderoga—General Lee—Humanity of Madame.

THE next day they heard the particulars of the skirmish, for it could
scarcely be called a regular engagement, which had proved fatal to the
young warrior, whose loss was so deeply felt. The army had crossed lake
George in safety, on the 5th of July, and landed without opposition.
They proceeded in four columns to Ticonderoga, and displayed a spectacle
unprecedented in the New World. An army of sixteen thousand men,
regulars and provincials, with a train of artillery, with all the
necessary provisions for an active campaign or regular siege, followed
by a little fleet of bateaux, pontons, &c. They set out wrong however,
by not having Indian guides, who are alone to be depended on in such a
place. In a short time the columns fell in upon each other, and
occasioned much confusion. While they marched on in this bewildered
manner, the advanced guard of the French, which had retired before them,
were equally bewildered, and falling in with them in this confusion, a
skirmish ensued, in which the French lost above three hundred men, and
we, though successful, lost as much as it was possible to lose, in one;
for here it was that Lord Howe fell.

The fort is a situation of peculiarly natural strength; it lies on a
little peninsula, with lake George on one side, and a narrow opening,
communicating with lake Champlain, on the other. It is surrounded by
water on three sides; and in front there is a swamp, very easily
defended: and where it ceased the French had made a breast-work above
eight feet high; not content with this, they had felled immense trees on
the spot, and laid them heaped on each other, with their branches
outward, before their works. In fine, there was no place on earth where
aggression was so difficult, and defence so easy, as in these woods;
especially when, as in this case, the party to be attacked had great
leisure to prepare their defence. On this impenetrable front they had
also a line of cannon mounted; while the difficulty of bringing
artillery through this swampy ground, near enough to bear upon the
place, was very great. This garrison, almost impregnable from situation,
was defended by between four and five thousand men. An engineer, sent to
reconnoitre, was of opinion that it might be attacked without waiting
for the artillery. The fatal resolution was taken without consulting
those best qualified to judge. An Indian or native American were here
better skilled in the nature of the ground, and probabilities of
success. They knew better, in short, what the spade, hatchet, or musket,
could or could not do, in such situations, than the most skilful veteran
from Europe, however replete with military science. Indeed when system
usurps the province of plain sound sense in unknown exigencies, the
result is seldom favourable; and this truth was never more fatally
demonstrated than in the course of the American war, where an obstinate
adherence to regular tactics, which do not bend to time or place,
occasioned, from first to last, an incalculable waste of blood, of
treasure, and of personal courage. The resolution then was to attack the
enemy without loss of time, and even without waiting for artillery.
Alas! “what have not Britons dared?”

I cannot enter into the dreadful detail of what followed; certainly
never was infatuation equal to this. The forty-second regiment was then
in the height of deserved reputation; in which there was not a private
man that did not consider himself as rather above the lower class of
people, and peculiarly bound to support the honour of the very singular
corps to which he belonged. This brave hard-fated regiment was then
commanded by a veteran of great experience and military skill, Colonel
Gordon Graham, who had the first point of attack assigned to him; he was
wounded at the first onset. How many this regiment, in particular, lost
of men and officers, I cannot now exactly say; but there were very many.
What I distinctly remember, having often heard of it since, is, that, of
the survivors, every officer retired wounded off the field. Of the
fifty-fifth regiment, to which my father had newly been attached, ten
officers were killed, including all the field officers. No human beings
could show more determined courage than this brave army did. Standing
four hours under a constant discharge of cannon and musketry from
barricades, on which it was impossible for them to make the least
impression, General Abercrombie saw the fruitless waste of blood that
was every hour increasing, and ordered a retreat, which was very
precipitate, so much so, that they crossed the lake, and regained their
camp on the other side, the same night. Two thousand men were killed,
wounded, or taken, on this disastrous day. On the next, those most
dangerously wounded were sent forward in boats, and reached the Flats
before evening; they in a manner brought (at least confirmed) the news
of the defeat. Madame had her barn instantly fitted up into a temporary
hospital, and a room in her house allotted for the surgeon who attended
the patients: among these was Lee, the same insolent and rapacious Lee,
who had insulted this general benefactress, and deprived her of one of
her greatest pleasures, that of giving a share of every thing she had to
advance the service. She treated him with compassion, without adverting,
by the least hint, to the past. She tore up her sheets and table linen
for bandages; and she and her nieces were constantly employed in
attending and cheering the wounded, while all her domestics were busied
in preparing food and every thing necessary for those unhappy sufferers.
Even Lee felt and acknowledged the resistless force of such generous
humanity. He swore, in his vehement manner, that he was sure there would
be a place reserved for madame in heaven, though no other woman should
be there, and that he should wish for nothing better than to share her
final destiny. The active, industrious beneficence she exercised at this
time, not only towards the wounded, but the wretched widows and orphans
who had remained here, and had lost their all in their husbands and
parents, was beyond praise. Could I clearly recollect and arrange the
anecdotes of this period, as I have often heard them, they would of
themselves fill a volume; suffice it, that such was the veneration in
which she was held in the army after this period, that I recollect,
among the earliest impressions received in my mind, that of a profound
reverence for madame, as these people were wont to call her. Before I
ever saw her, I used to think of her as a most august personage, of a
majestic presence; sitting on an elevated seat, and scattering bounty to
wounded soldiers, and poor women and children.


                              CHAP. XLII.

         The Family of Madame’s Sister—The Death of the latter.

AUNT found consolation for all her sorrows in the family of her
favourite sister. The promise of uncommon merit, which appeared in the
rising branches of that singularly fine family, was to her a peculiar
gratification; for no mother could love her own children more tenderly
than she did them. The two daughters, which were amongst the eldest,
passed, by turns, much of their time with her, and were, from their
beauty and their manners, the ornaments of her society; while their good
sense, ripened by being called early into action, made these amiable and
elegant young women more a comfort and assistance than a care or charge
to their aunt, at a very early period. They had four brothers; three of
whom are still living, and have, through life, done honour by their
virtues, their manners, and their conduct, in the most trying
exigencies, to the memory and example of their excellent parents, as
well as to that collateral school of pure morality, and sound and
genuine policy, of which they shared the benefit.

The history of this family, in the after vicissitudes in which the
political changes in their country involved them, would furnish a very
interesting detail, were it allowable to offend the delicacy of modest
worth, or eligible to expose the depravity and fury of enraged factions.
Of the brothers I shall only mention, that the third, in his childhood,
showed uncommon fire and vivacity; not seeming to retain the smallest
portion of that hereditary phlegm which could still be easily traced
through many of the settlers of this peculiar colony. He could scarce be
called an unlucky boy, for he never did harm designedly; yet he was so
volatile, eccentric, and original, in the frolicksome excursions of his
fancy, that many ludicrous and some serious consequences resulted from
them. He showed, however, amidst all these gaieties, from a very early
age, a steady and determined predilection towards a military life,
which, in due time, was indulged, and has been since the means of
leading him onto rank and distinction in the British service.[17] Of the
eldest brother I shall have occasion to speak hereafter; the second and
youngest were zealous partisans of government at the time of the
revolution. Their loyalty occasioned the loss of their fortunes and
their homes; but their worth and bravery procured them confidence and
important commands in that painful service which was carried on during
the American war, at the end of which they were partially rewarded by
grants of land in Upper Canada. Loyalty and courage seems hereditary in
this family. Many sons of those expatriated brothers are now serving
their country in different parts of the empire, undeterred by the losses
and sufferings of their parents in the royal cause. It was a marked
distinction of character to be observed in the conduct of aunt’s
protégéses, that though she was equally attached to the children of her
husband’s relations and her own, these latter only adopted her political
sentiments, with a single exception, which shall be mentioned in its

Footnote 17:

  The capture of Tobago was achieved by General C—r, who has for near
  forty years been engaged in the most active and hazardous departments
  of the service.

The defeat at Ticonderoga bore very hard upon the mind of madame; public
spirit was always an active principle in her strong and reflecting mind;
and from the particular circumstances in which she had always been
involved, her patriotism gained strength by exercise. The same ardent
concern for the public good, which could produce no other effect but
fruitless anxiety, would be as unavailing as unnecessary, in our secure
and tranquil state; but with her it was an exercised and useful virtue.
Her attachment to the British nation, which was to the very last a
ruling principle both of her actions and opinions, contributed to
embitter this blow to her and her family. The taking of Frontinac on the
western lakes, and the reestablishment of our power in that important
quarter, were achieved by General Bradstreet, whom Abercrombie
dispatched at the head of three thousand provincials. This was a cordial
much wanted by all, and more particularly gratifying to the family at
the Flats, as the colonel’s nephew, Philip Schuyler, though his was not
exactly a warlike department, had evinced much spirit, prudence, and
resolution, during that expedition; in which, without publicly
arrogating command, he, under Bradstreet (who was indeed a very able
man) directed most of the operations. In the mind of this extraordinary
person, qualities, suited to all occasions, lay dormant and unsuspected,
till called forth by the varying events of his busy, though not bustling
life; for he seemed to carry on the plans, public and private, which he
executed with superior ability and success, by mere volition. No one
ever saw him appear hurried, embarrassed, or agitated. The success of
this expedition, and the rising distinction of her nephew Philip, was
some consolation to madame for the late disaster, still friendly and
hospitable, she was as kindly disposed towards the British as ever, and
as indefatigable in promoting a good understanding between them and the
natives; but the army was now on a larger scale. It was in a manner
regularly organized, and more independent of such aid as individuals
could bestow; and the many children educated by her, or left orphans to
her care, became from their number, their marriages, and various
pursuits, objects of more earnest solicitude.

At this period Aunt Schuyler, now every where spoken of by that
affectionate designation, met with a severe affliction in the death of a
sister, whom she had always loved with more than common tenderness, and
whose family she considered in a manner as her own. This was Mrs.
Cuyler, the wife of that able and upright magistrate, Cornelius Cuyler,
of whose family I have just been giving some account. Mrs. Cuyler, with
a character more gentle and retiring, possessed the good sense and
benevolence for which aunt was distinguished, though her sphere of
action being entirely within the limits of her own family, she could not
be so well known, or so much celebrated. The colonel had always had a
great attachment to this valuable person; which still more endeared her
to his widow. She however always found new duties resulting from her
afflictions, so that she could not afford to sink under them. She now
was at pains to console her sister’s husband, who really seemed borne
down by this stroke; and the exertions she made for the good of his
singularly promising family, kept her mind occupied.


                              CHAP. XLIII.

      Further Successes of the British Arms—A Missionary—Cortland

THE conquest of Oswego, which was this year (1759) retaken from the
French by General Bradstreet, contributed to revive the drooping spirits
of the army and the patriots; and it was quickly succeeded by the
dear-bought conquest of Quebec. Though madame had never seen General
Wolfe, she shared the general admiration of his heroism, and the general
sorrow for his loss, in a very high degree. She, too, was conscious that
the security and tranquillity purchased by the conquest of Quebec,
would, in a manner, loosen the bonds which held the colonists attached
to a government which they only endured while they required its
protection. This led to consequences which she too clearly foresaw.

The mind of Mrs. Schuyler, which had been greatly agitated by the sad
events at Ticonderoga, now began, in consequence of the late successes,
to become more composed, and to turn itself to objects of utility, as
formerly. What she had done, and made others do for the orphans and
widows that had become such in consequence of the attack on the lines,
could scarce be credited. No one would suppose a moderate fortune, like
hers, could possibly be equal to it. She had at this time too much
satisfaction in seeing the respective churches (in all which she was
deeply interested) filled with persons who did honour to their
profession. A young clergyman named Westerloe, succeeded Domine
Freylinghausen, after an interval of three or four years, during which
the charge was irregularly filled. This young man had learning, talent,
and urbanity; he had all the sanctity of life and animated eloquence of
his predecessor, without his love of power, his bustling turn, or his
eagerness for popularity; he was, indeed, a person of very singular
merit, but studious and secluded, and unwilling to mix with strangers.
To madame, however, he was open and companionable, and knew and valued
the attractions of her conversation. Dr. Ogilvie was the English
Episcopal minister, who, under the name of Indian missionary, and with a
salary allowed him as such, had the charge of performing duty in a
church erected for that purpose in town, to strangers, and such of the
military as chose to attend. The Christian Indians, who were her
particular charge, lived at too great a distance to benefit by his
labours. The province, however, allowed a salary to a zealous preacher,
who laboured among them with apostolic fervour, and with the same
disregard to the things of this world. Dr. Ogilvie was highly respected,
and indeed much beloved by all who were capable of appreciating his
merit. His appearance was singularly prepossessing: his address and
manners entirely those of a gentleman. His abilities were respectable,
his doctrine was pure and scriptural, and his life exemplary, both as a
clergyman and in his domestic circle, where he was peculiarly amiable;
add to all this a talent for conversation, extensive reading, and a
thorough knowledge of life. The Doctor was indeed a man after madame’s
own heart: and she never ceased regretting his departure to New-York,
where he was settled two years after. For Stuart[18] she had the utmost
veneration. Perfectly calculated for his austere and uncourtly duties,
he was wholly devoted to them, and scarce cast a look back to that world
which he had forsaken. Yet he was, on various accounts, highly valued by
madame; for since the appointment of the superintendent, and more
particularly since the death of the colonel, he became more important to
her, as the link which held her to the Mohawks, whom she now saw so much
more seldom, but always continued to love. The comprehension of her mind
was so great, and her desire for knowledge so strong, that she found
much entertainment in tracing the unfoldings of the human mind in its
native state, and the gradual progress of intellect when enlightened by
the gentle influence of pure religion; and this good _father of the
deserts_ gratified her more by the details he was enabled to give of the
progress of devotion and of mind among his beloved little flock, than he
could have done by all that learning or knowledge of the world can
bestow. Again the Flats began to be the resort of the best society. She
had also her nephews in succession; one, a brother of that Philip so
often mentioned, since better known to the world by the appellation of
General Schuyler, had been long about the family. He was a youth
distinguished for the gracefulness of his person, and the symmetry of
his features. He was a perfect model of manly beauty, though almost as
dark as an Indian. Indeed, both in looks and character, he greatly
resembled the aborigines of the country. He seemed perfectly unconscious
of the extraordinary personal advantages which he possessed; was brave,
honourable, and possessed a very good understanding, but collected
within himself; silent, yet eloquent when he chose to interest himself,
or was warmed by the occasion; and had such stainless probity, that
every one respected and trusted him. Yet he was so very indifferent to
the ordinary pleasures and pursuits of life, and so entirely devoted to
the sports of the field, that when his aunt afterwards procured, him a
commission in a marching regiment, hoping thus to tame and brighten him,
he was known in Ireland by the name of the handsome savage. This title
did not belong to him in the sense we most often use it; for his manners
were not rude or harsh in the least, though an air of cold austerity,
which shaded his fine countenance, with his delight in solitary
amusements, led the gay and social inhabitants of the country in which
he resided, to consider him as unwillingly rescued from his native
forests. This youth was named Cortland, and will be more particularly
mentioned hereafter. That eccentric and frolicsome boy, whose humorous
sallies and playful flights were a continual source of amusement, was
also a frequent guest, but did not stay so long as his elder brother,
who certainly was, of all aunt’s adopted, the greatest favourite, and
became more endeared to her, from being less successful in life than the
rest of his family.

Footnote 18:

  A pious missionary in the Mohawk country.

In a council held between their relations and madame, it was decided
that both Cortlandt and Cornelius should try their fortune in arms.
Cortlandt was made an ensign in an old regiment, and went over to
Ireland. Cornelius, a year after, got a commission in the fifty-fifth,
then commanded by that singularly worthy and benevolent character, Sir
Adolphus Oughton. The mayor was highly respected for his wisdom; yet his
purchasing a commission for so mere a boy, and laying out for it a sum
of money which appeared large in a country where people contrived to do
very well with wonderfully little of that article, astonished all his
countrymen. Conscious, however, of his son’s military genius, and well
knowing that the vivacity that filled his grave kinsman with
apprehension, was merely a lambent flame of youthful gaiety, which would
blaze without scorching, he fearlessly launched him into a profession in
which he hoped to see him attain merited distinction; while the
excellent patroness of all these young people had the satisfaction of
seeing every one brought up under her auspices, (and, by this time, they
were not a few,) do honour to her instructions, and fill up their
different stations in a manner the most creditable and prosperous; and
she was often surrounded by the children of those who had engaged her
earliest cares.


                              CHAP. XLIV.

       Burning of the house at the Flats—Madame’s removal—Journey
                             of the author.

IT was at this time, when she was in the very acme of her reputation,
and her name never mentioned without some added epithet of respect or
affection, that her house, so long the receptacle of all that was good
or intelligent, and the asylum of all that was helpless and unfortunate,
was entirely consumed before her eyes.

In the summer of this year, as General Bradstreet was riding by the
Flats one day, and proposing to call on madame, he saw her sitting in a
great chair, under the little avenue of cherry-trees that led from her
house to the road. All the way as he approached, he saw smoke, and at
last flames, bursting out from the top of her house. He was afraid to
alarm her suddenly; but when he told her, she heard it with the utmost
composure; pointed out the likeliest means to check the fire; and
ordered the neighbours to be summoned, and the most valuable goods first
removed, without ever attempting to go over the house herself, when she
knew she could be of no service; but with the most admirable presence of
mind, she sat still with a placid countenance, regulating and ordering
every thing in the most judicious manner, and with as much composure as
if she had nothing to lose. When evening came, of that once happy
mansion not a single beam was left, and the scorched brick walls were
all that remained to mark where it had stood.

Madame could not be said to be left without a dwelling, having a house
in Albany rather larger than the one thus destroyed. But she was fondly
attached to the spot which had been the scene of so much felicity, and
rendered more dear to her by retaining within its bounds the remains of
her beloved partner. She removed to Pedrom’s house for the night. The
news of what had happened spread every where; and she had the comfort of
knowing, in consequence of this misfortune, better than she could by any
other means, how great a degree of public esteem and private gratitude
she had excited. The next day people came from all quarters to condole,
and ask her directions where and how she would choose to have another
house built: and in a few days the ground was covered with bricks,
timber, and other materials, brought there by her friends in voluntary
kindness. It is to be observed, that the people in the interior of
New-York, were so exceedingly skilful in the use, not only of the axe,
but all ordinary tools used in planing and joining timber, that, with
the aid of a regular carpenter or two to carry on the nicer parts of the
work, a man could build an ordinary house, if it were a wooden one, with
very little more than his own domestics. It can scarce be credited that
this house, begun in August, was ready for aunt’s reception against
winter, which here begins very early. But General Bradstreet had sent
some of the king’s workmen, considering them as employed for the public
service, while carrying on this building. The most unpleasant
circumstance about this new dwelling was, the melancholy hiatus which
appeared in front, where the former large house had stood, and where the
deep and spacious cellars still yawned in gloomy desolation. Madame, who
no longer studied appearances, but merely thought of a temporary
accommodation for a life which neither she nor any one expected to be a
long one, ordered a broad wooden bridge, like those we see over rivers.
This bridge was furnished with seats like a portico, and this, with the
high walls of the burnt house, which were a kind of screen before the
new one, gave the whole the appearance of some ancient ruin.

Madame did not find the winter pass comfortably. That road, now that
matters were regularly settled, was no longer the constant resort of her
military friends. Her favourite nieces were too engaging, and too much
admired, to leave room to expect they should remain with her. She found
her house comparatively cold and inconvenient, and the winter long and
comfortless. She could not now easily go the distance to church. Pedrom,
that affectionate and respected brother, was now, by increasing
deafness, disqualified from being a companion; and sister Susan, infirm
and cheerless, was now, for the most part, confined to her chamber.
Under these circumstances, she was at length prevailed on to remove to
Albany. The Flats she gave in lease to Pedrom’s son Stephen. The house
and surrounding grounds were let to an Irish gentleman, who came over to
America to begin a new course of life, after spending his fortune in
fashionable dissipation. On coming to America, he found that there was
an intermediate state of hardship and self-denial to be encountered,
before he could enter on that fancied Arcadia which he thought was to be
found in every wood. He settled his family in this temporary dwelling,
while he went to traverse the provinces in search of some unforfeited
Eden, where the rose had no thorn, and the course of ceaseless labour
had not begun to operate. Madame found reason to be highly satisfied
with the change. She had mills which supplied her with bread; her slaves
cut and brought home fire-wood; she had a good garden and fruit, and
every other rural dainty came to her in the greatest abundance. All her
former protégés and friends, in different quarters, delighted to send
their tribute; and this was merely an interchange of kindness.

Soon after this removal, her eldest niece, a remarkably fine young
woman, was married to Mr. C. of C. manor, which was accounted one of the
best matches, or rather the very best in the province. She was
distinguished by a figure of uncommon grace and dignity, a noble and
expressive countenance, and a mind such as her appearance led one to
expect. This very respectable person is, I believe, still living, after
witnessing, among her dearest connections, scenes the most distressing,
and changes the most painful. She has ever conducted herself, so as to
do honour to the excellent examples of her mother and aunt, and to be a
pattern of steadfast truth and generous friendship, in exigencies the
most trying. Her younger sister, equally admired, though possessing a
different style of beauty, more soft and debonair, with the fairest
complexion, and most cheerful simplicity of aspect, was the peculiar
favourite of her aunt, above all that ever she took charge of; she, too,
was soon after married to that highly esteemed patriot, the late Isaac
L., revered through the whole continent for his sound good sense and
genuine public spirit. He was, indeed, “happily tempered, mild, and
firm;” and was finally the victim of steadfast loyalty.

It now remains to say how the writer of these pages became so well
acquainted with the subject of these memoirs.

My father was, at this time, a subaltern in the fifty-fifth regiment.
That body of men were then stationed at Oswego; but during the busy and
warlike period I have been describing, my mother and I were boarded, in
the country below Albany, with the most worthy people imaginable, with
whom we ever after kept up a cordial friendship. My father, wishing to
see his family, was indulged with permission, and at the same time
ordered to take the command of an additional company, who were to come
up, and to purchase for the regiment all the stores they should require
for the winter, which proved a most extensive commission. In the month
of October he set out on this journey, or voyage rather, in which it was
settled that my mother and I should accompany him. We were, I believe,
the first females, above the very lowest ranks, who had ever penetrated
so far into this remote wilderness. Certainly never was joy greater than
that which lulled my childish mind on setting out on this journey. I had
before seen little of my father, and the most I knew of him was from the
solicitude I had heard expressed on his account, and the fear of his
death after every battle. I was, indeed, a little ashamed of having a
military father, brought up, as I had mostly been, in a Dutch family,
and speaking that language as fluently as my own; yet, on the other
hand, I had felt so awkward at seeing all my companions have fathers to
talk and complain to, while I had none, that I thought, upon the whole,
it was a very good thing to have a father of any kind. The scarlet coat,
which I had been taught to consider as the symbol of wickedness,
disgusted me in some degree; but then, to my great comfort, I found my
father did not swear; and again, to my unspeakable delight, that he
prayed. A soldier pray! was it possible? and should I really see my
father in heaven! How transporting! By a sudden revolution of opinion, I
now thought my father the most charming of all beings; and the
overflowings of my good will reached to the whole company, because they
wore the same colour, and seemed to respect and obey him. I dearly loved
idleness, too, and the more, because my mother, who delighted in
needle-work, confined me too much to it. What joys were mine! to be idle
for a fortnight, seeing new woods, rivers, and animals, every day; even
then the love of nature was, in my young bosom, a passion productive of
incessant delight. I had, too, a primer, two hymns, and a ballad, and
these I read over and over with great diligence. At intervals, my
attention was agreeably engaged by the details the soldiers gave my
father of their manner of living and fighting in the woods, &c. and with
these the praises of madame were often mingled. I thought of her
continually; every great thing I heard about her, even her size, had its
impression. She became the heroine of my childish imagination; and I
thought of her as something both awful and admirable. We had the surgeon
of the regiment, and another officer with us; they talked, too, of
madame, of Indians, of battles, and of ancient history. Sitting from
morning to night musing in the boat, contemplating my father, who
appeared to me a hero and a saint, and thinking of aunt Schuyler, who
filled up my whole mind with the grandeur with which my fancy had
invested her; and then having my imagination continually amused with the
variety of noble wild scenes which the beautiful banks of the Mohawk
afforded, I am convinced I thought more in that fortnight, that is to
say, acquired more ideas, and took more lasting impressions, than ever I
did, in the same space of time, in my life. This, however foreign it may
appear to my subject, I mention, as so far connecting with it, that it
accounts, in some measure, for that development of thought which led me
to take such ready and strong impressions from aunt’s conversation, when
afterwards I knew her.


                               CHAP. XLV.

  Continuation of the Journey—Arrival at Oswego—Regulations, Studies,
                         and Amusements there.

NEVER, certainly, was a journey so replete with felicity. I luxuriated
in idleness and novelty; knowledge was my delight, and it was now
pouring in on my mind from all sides. What a change from sitting pinned
down to my sampler by my mother till the hour of play, and then running
wild with children, as young, and still simpler than myself. Much
attended to by all my fellow-travellers, I was absolutely intoxicated
with the charms of novelty, and the sense of my new-found importance.
The first day we came to Schenectady, a little town, situated in a rich
and beautiful spot, and partly supported by the Indian trade. The next
day we embarked, proceeded up the river with six bateaux, and came early
in the evening to one of the most charming scenes imaginable, where fort
Hendrick was built; so called, in compliment to the principal Sachem, or
king of the Mohawks. The castle of this primitive monarch stood at a
little distance, on a rising ground, surrounded by pallisades. He
resided, at the time, in a house which the public workmen, who had
lately built this fort, had been ordered to erect for him in the
vicinity. We did not fail to wait upon his majesty: who, not choosing to
depart too much from the customs of his ancestors, had not permitted
divisions of apartments, or modern furniture to profane his new
dwelling. It had the appearance of a good barn, and was divided across
by a mat hung in the middle. King Hendrick, who had indeed a very
princely figure, and a countenance that would have not dishonoured
royalty, was sitting on the floor beside a large heap of wheat,
surrounded with baskets of dried berries of different kinds; beside him,
his son, a very pretty boy, somewhat older than myself, was caressing a
foal, which was unceremoniously introduced into the royal residence. A
laced hat, a fine saddle and pistols, gifts of his good brother the
great king, were hung round on the cross beams. He was splendidly
arrayed in a coat of pale blue, trimmed with silver; all the rest of his
dress was of the fashion of his own nation, and highly embellished with
beads and other ornaments. All this suited my taste exceedingly, and was
level to my comprehension. I was prepared to admire King Hendrick by
hearing him described as a generous warrior, terrible to his enemies,
and kind to his friends; the character of all others calculated to make
the deepest impression on ignorant innocence, in a country where infants
learned the horrors of war from its vicinity. Add to all this, that the
monarch smiled, clapped my head, and ordered me a little basket, very
pretty, and filled by the officious kindness of his son, with dried
berries. Never did princely gifts, or the smiles of royalty, produce
more ardent admiration and profound gratitude. I went out of the royal
presence overawed and delighted, and am not sure but that I have liked
kings all my life the better for this happy specimen, to which I was so
early introduced. Had I seen royalty, properly such, invested with all
the pomp of European magnificence, I should possibly have been confused
and over-dazzled. But this was quite enough, and not too much for me;
and I went away, lost in a reverie, and thought of nothing but kings,
battles, and generals for days after.

This journey, charming my romantic imagination by its very delays and
difficulties, was such a source of interest and novelty to me, that
above all things I dreaded its conclusion, which I well knew would be
succeeded by long tasks and close confinement. Happily for me we soon
entered upon Wood-creek, the most desirable of all places for a
traveller who loves to linger, if such another traveller there be. This
is a small river, which winds irregularly through a deep and narrow
valley of the most lavish fertility. The depth and richness of the soil
here was evinced by the loftiness and the nature of the trees, which
were, hiccory, butter-nut, chestnut, and sycamores of vast circumference
as well as height. These became so top heavy, and their roots were so
often undermined by this insidious stream, that in every tempestuous
night, some giants of the grove fell prostrate, and very frequently
across the stream, where they lay in all their pomp of foliage, like a
leafy bridge, unwithered, and formed an obstacle almost invincible to
all navigation. The Indian lifted his slight canoe, and carried it past
the tree; but our deep loaded bateaux could not be so managed. Here my
orthodoxy was shocked, and my anti-military prejudices revived by the
swearing of the soldiers; but then again my veneration for my father was
if possible increased, by his lectures against swearing provoked by
their transgression. Nothing remained for our heroes but to attack these
sylvan giants axe in hand, and make way through their divided bodies.
The assault upon fallen greatness was unanimous and unmerciful, but the
resistance was tough, and the process tedious; so much so, that we were
three days proceeding fourteen miles, having, at every two hours at
least, a new tree to cut through.

It was here, as far as I recollect the history of my own heart, that the
first idea of artifice ever entered my mind. It was, like most female
artifices, the offspring of vanity. These delays were a new source of
pleasure to me. It was October; the trees we had to cut through were
often loaded with nuts, and while I ran lightly along the branches, to
fill my royal basket with their spoils, which I had great pleasure in
distributing, I met with multitudes of fellow plunderers in the
squirrels of various colours and sizes, which were numberless. This made
my excursions amusing; but when I found my disappearance excited alarm,
they assumed more interest. It was so fine to sit quietly among the
branches, and hear concern and solicitude expressed about the child.

I will spare the reader the fatigue of accompanying our little fleet

                     “Antres vast and deserts wild;”

only observing, that the munificent solitude through which we travelled
was much relieved by the sight of Johnson hall, beautifully situated in
a plain by the river; while Johnson castle, a few miles further up, made
a most respectable appearance on a commanding eminence at some distance.

We travelled from one fort to another; but in three or four instances,
to my great joy, they were so remote from each other, that we found it
necessary to encamp at night on the bank of the river. This, in a land
of profound solitude, where wolves, foxes, and bears abounded, and were
very much inclined to consider and treat us as intruders, might seem
dismal to wiser folks. But I was so gratified by the bustle and
agitation produced by our measures of defence, and actuated by the love
which all children have for mischief that is not fatal, that I enjoyed
our night encampments exceedingly. We stopped early wherever we saw the
largest and most combustible kind of trees. Cedars were great
favourites, and the first work was to fell and pile upon each other an
incredible number, stretched lengthwise, while every one who could was
busied in gathering withered branches of pine, &c. to fill up the
interstices of the pile, and make the green wood burn the faster. Then a
train of gunpowder was laid along to give fire to the whole fabric at
once, which blazed and crackled magnificently. Then the tents were
erected close in a row before this grand conflagration. This was not
merely meant to keep us warm, though the nights did begin to grow cold,
but to frighten wild beasts and wandering Indians. In case any such
Indians, belonging to hostile tribes, should see this prodigious blaze,
the size of it was meant to give them an idea of a greater force than we

In one place, where we were surrounded by hills, with swamps lying
between them, there seemed to be a general congress of wolves, who
answered each other from opposite hills, in sounds the most terrific.
Probably the terror which all savage animals have at fire was exalted
into fury, by seeing so many enemies, whom they durst not attack. The
bull frogs, the harmless, the hideous inhabitants of the swamps, seemed
determined not to be outdone, and roared a tremendous bass to this
bravura accompaniment. This was almost too much for my love of the
terrible sublime; some women, who were our fellow travellers, shrieked
with terror; and finally, the horrors of that night were ever after held
in awful remembrance by all who shared them.

The last night of this eventful pilgrimage, of which I fear to tire my
readers by a farther recital, was spent at fort Bruerton, then commanded
by Captain Mungo Campbell,[19] whose warm and generous heart, whose
enlightened and comprehensive mind, whose social qualities and public
virtues I should delight tA commemorate did my limits permit; suffice
it, that he is endeared to my recollection by being the first person who
ever supposed me to have a mind capable of culture, and I was ever after
distinguished by his partial notice. Here we were detained two days by a
premature fall of snow. Very much disposed to be happy any where, I was
here particularly so. Our last day’s journey, which brought us to lake
Ontario and fort Oswego, our destined abode, was a very hard one; we had
people going before, breaking the ice with paddles all the way.

Footnote 19:

  Colonel Mungo Campbell was killed leading on the attack of fort St.
  Anne, at the battle of White Plains, anno 1777.

All that I had foreboded of long tasks, confinement, &c. fell short of
the reality. The very deep snow confined us all; and at any rate the
rampart or the parade would have been no favourable scene of improvement
for me. One great source of entertainment I discovered here, was no
other than the Old Testament, which during my confinement I learned to
read; till then having done so very imperfectly. It was an unspeakable
treasure as a story book, before I learnt to make any better use of it,
and became, by frequent perusal, indelibly imprinted on my memory.
Wallace Wight, and Welwood’s memoirs of the history of England, were my
next acquisitions. Enough of egotism, yet all these circumstances
contributed to form that taste for solid reading, which first attracted
the attention of my invaluable friend.

I cannot quit Ontario without giving a slight sketch of the manner in
which it was occupied and governed while I was there and afterwards,
were it but to give young soldiers a hint how they may best use their
time and resources, so as to shun the indolence and ennui they are often
liable to in such situations. The 55th had by this time acquired several
English officers; but with regard to the men, it might be considered as
a Scotch regiment, and was indeed originally such, being raised but a
very few years before in the neighbourhood of Stirling. There were small
detachments in other forts; but the greatest part were in this,
commanded by Major (afterwards Colonel) Duncan, of Lundie, elder brother
of the late Lord Duncan of Camperdown. He was an experienced officer,
possessed of considerable military science, learned, humane, and
judicious, yet obstinate, and somewhat of an humourist withal. Wherever
he went, a respectable library went with him. Though not old, he was
gouty and war-worn, and therefore allowably carried about many comforts
and conveniences that others could not warrantably do. The fort was a
large place, built entirely of earth and great logs: I mean the walls
and ramparts, for the barracks were of wood, and cold and comfortless.
The cutting down the vast quantity of wood used in this building had,
however, cleared much of the fertile ground by which the fort was
surrounded. The lake abounded with excellent fish and varieties of
waterfowl, while deer and every kind of game were numerous in the
surrounding woods. All these advantages, however, were now shut up by
the rigours of winter. The officers were all very young men, brought
from school or college to the army, and after the dreadful specimen of
war which they had met with on their first outset, at the lines of
Ticonderoga, they had gone through all possible hardships. After a march
up the St. Lawrence, and then through Canada here, a march indeed,
considering the season and the new road, worthy the hero of Pultowa,
they were stationed in this new built garrison, far from every trace of
civilization. These young soldiers were, however, excellent subjects for
the forming hand of Major Duncan. As I have said on a former occasion of
others, if they were not improved, they were not spoiled, and what
little they knew was good.

The major, by the manner in which he treated them, seemed to consider
them as his sons or pupils; only one might call him an austere parent,
or a rigid instructor. But this semblance of severity was necessary to
form his pupils to habitual veneration. Partaking every day of their
convivial enjoyments, and showing every hour some proof of paternal care
and kindness; all this was necessary to keep them within due limits. Out
of regard to their own welfare he wanted no more of their love than was
consistent with salutary fear; and yet made himself so necessary to
them, that nothing could be so terrible to them as, by any neglect or
imprudence, to alienate him. He messed with them, but lived in a house
of his own. This was a very singular building divided into two
apartments; one of which was a bed-room, in which many stores found
place, the other, a breakfasting parlour, and, at the same time, a
library. Here were globes, quadrants, mathematical instruments, flutes,
dumb-bells, and chess-boards; here, in short, was a magazine of
instruction and amusement for the colonel’s pupils, that is, for all the
garrison. (Cornelius Cuyler, who had now joined the regiment, as
youngest ensign, was included in this number.) This Scythian dwelling,
for such it seemed, was made entirely of wood, and fixed upon wheels of
the same material, so that it could be removed from one part of the
parade to another, as it frequently was. So slight a tenement, where the
winters were intensely cold, was ill calculated for a gouty patient; for
this, however, he found a remedy; the boards, which formed the walls of
his apartment, being covered with deer-skins, and a most ample bear-skin
spread on the floor by way of a carpet. When once the winter set fully
in, Oswego became a perfect Siberia; cut off even from all intelligence
of what was passing in the world. But the major did not allow this
interval to waste in sloth or vacancy: he seemed rather to take
advantage of the exclusion of all exterior objects. His library was
select and soldier like. It consisted of numerous treatises on the
military art, ancient and modern history, biography, &c. besides the
best authors in various sciences, of which I only recollect geography
and the mathematics. All the young men were set to read such books as
suited their different inclinations and capacities. The subalterns
breakfasted with their commander in rotation every day, three or four at
a time; after breakfast he kept them, perhaps two hours, examining them
on the subject of their different studies. Once a week he had a supper
party for such of the captains as were then in the fort; and once a week
they entertained him in the same manner. To these parties such of the
subalterns, as distinguished themselves by diligence and proficiency,
were invited. Whoever was negligent, he made the subject of sarcasms so
pointed at one time, and at another so ludicrous, that there was no
enduring it. The dread of severe punishment could not operate more
forcibly. Yet he was so just, so impartial, so free from fickleness and
favouritism, and so attentive to their health, their amusements, and
their economy, that every individual felt him necessary to his comfort,
and looked up to him as his “guide, philosopher, and friend.”


                              CHAP. XLVI.

              Benefit of select Reading—Hunting Excursion.

UNSPEAKABLE benefit and improvement was derived from the course of
reading I have described, which, in the absence of other subjects,
furnished daily topics of discussion, thus impressing it more forcibly
on the mind.

The advantages of this course of social study, directed by a mentor so
respected, were such, that I have often heard it asserted that these
unformed youths derived more solid improvement from it than from all
their former education. Reading is one thing; but they learned to think
and to converse. The result of these acquirements served to impress on
my mind what I formerly observed with regard to madame, that a
promiscuous multitude of books always within reach retards the
acquisition of useful knowledge. It is like having a great number of
acquaintances and few friends; one of the consequences of the latter is
to know much of exterior appearances, of modes and manners, but little
of nature and genuine character. By running over numbers of books
without selection, in a desultory manner, people, in the same way, get a
general superficial idea of the varieties and nature of different
styles, but do not comprehend or retain the matter with the same
accuracy as those who have read a few books, by the best authors, over
and over with diligent attention. I speak now of those one usually meets
with; not of those commanding minds, whose intuitive research seizes on
every thing worth retaining, and rejects the rest as naturally as one
throws away the rind when possessed of the kernel.

Our young students got through the winter pretty well; and it is
particularly to be observed that there was no such thing as a quarrel
heard of among them. Their time was spent in a regular succession of
useful pursuits, which prevented them from risking the dangers that
often occur in such places; for in general, idleness and confinement to
the same circle of society, produce such a fermentation in the mind, and
such neglect of ceremonial observances, which are the barriers of
civility, that quarrels and duels more readily occur in such situations
than in any other. But when spring drew near, this paternal commander
found it extremely difficult to rein in the impatience of the youths to
plunge into the woods to hunt. There were such risks to encounter, of
unknown morasses, wolves, and hostile Indians, that it was dangerous to
indulge them. At last, when the days began to lengthen, in the end of
February, a chosen party, on whose hardihood and endurance the major
could depend, were permitted to go on a regular hunting excursion in the
Indian fashion. This was become desirable on different accounts, the
garrison having been, for some time before, entirely subsisting on salt
provision. Sheep and cows were out of the question, there not being one
of either within forty miles. A captain Hamilton, who was a practised
wood ranger, commanded this party, who were clad almost like Indians,
and armed in the same manner. They were accompanied by a detachment of
ten men; some of whom, having been prisoners with the Indians, were more
particularly qualified to engage in this adventure. They were allowed
four or five days to stay, and provided with a competent supply of
bear-skins, blankets, &c. to make their projected wigwams comfortable.
The allotted time expired, and we all began to quarrel with our salt
provisions, and to long for the promised venison. Another, and yet
another day passed, when our longing was entirely absorbed in the
apprehensions we began to entertain. Volunteers now presented themselves
to go in search of the lost hunters; but those offers were, for good
reasons, rejected; and every countenance began to lengthen with fears we
were unwilling to express to each other. The major, conjecturing the
hunters might have been bewildered in those endless woods, ordered the
cannon to be fired at noon, and again at midnight, for their direction.
On the eighth day, when suspense was wound up to the highest pitch, the
party were seen approaching—and they entered in triumph, loaded with
sylvan spoils, among which were many strange birds and beasts. I
recollect, as the chief objects of my admiration, a prodigious swan, a
wild turkey, and a young porcupine. Venison abounded, and the supply was
both plentiful and seasonable.

“Spring returned with its showers,” and converted our Siberia, frozen
and forlorn, and shut out from human intercourse, into an uncultured
Eden, rich in all the majestic charms of sublime scenery, and primeval
beauty and fertility. It is in her central retreat, amidst the mighty
waters of the west, that nature seems in solitary grandeur, to have
chosen her most favoured habitation, remote from the ocean, whose waves
bear the restless sons of Europe on their voyages of discovery,
invasion, and intrusion. The coasts of America are, indeed,
comparatively poor, except merely on the banks of great rivers, though
the universal veil of evergreens conceals much sterility from strangers.
But it is in the depth of those forests, and around those sea-like
lakes, that nature has been profusely kind, and discovers more charms
the more her shady veil is withdrawn from her noble features. If ever
the fond illusions of poets and philosophers—that Atalantis, that new
Arcadia, that safe and serene Utopia, where ideal quiet and happiness
have so often charmed in theory; if ever this dream of social bliss, in
some new planted region, is to be realized, this unrivalled scene of
grandeur and fertility bids fairest to be the place of its abode. Here
the climate is serene and equal; the rigorous winters that brace the
frame, and call forth the powers of mind and body to prepare for its
approach, are succeeded by a spring so rapid, the exuberance of vernal
bloom bursts forth so suddenly after the disappearance of those deep
snows which cherish and fructify the earth, that the change seems like a
magical delusion.

The major saw every one enraptured, like people suddenly let out of
prison; and the whole garrison seemed ripe for running wild through the
woods, in pursuit of innumerable birds of passage, which had come on the
wings of the genial south to resume their wonted abodes by the great
lakes, where they hatch among swamps and islands without number.


                              CHAP. XLVII.

       Gardening and Agriculture—Return of the Author to Albany.

The major rejoiced in their joy without having the least intention of
indulging them either in the gay idleness, or the wild sports which the
season inspired. He had been their mentor all winter, and was now about
to commence their agricola.

When giving an account of the garrison I should have mentioned a company
or two, I do not remember which, of engineers, the officers of which,
from their superior intelligence, were a great acquisition to the
society. To these friendly coadjutors the major communicated his plans,
which they readily adopted. Among his concealed stores were Indian corn,
peas, and beans in abundance, and all kinds of garden seeds. Before the
season opened he had arranged with these engineers the plan of a large
garden, bowling green, and enclosed field, for the use of these and all
succeeding troops. This was a bold attempt when one considers you might
as well look for a horse in Venice as in Oswego. No such animal had ever
penetrated so far. A single cow, belonging to the suttler, was the only
tame creature, dogs and cats excepted, to be seen here. But there was a
great stock of palisadoes, which had been cut for the garrison, lying
ready; and their pioneers and workmen still remaining there, the new
erection being scarce complete. The new project was received with
“curses not loud but deep.” Were they to go all out to plod and drudge
for others, who would neither pay nor thank them; for, the most, they
argued they should stay only a year, and reap very little indeed of the
fruit of their labours.

The major’s plans, however, were deep laid; matters wore a peaceable
aspect; and there was no knowing how long they might remain there.
Except shooting in the woods, or fishing, they were without business,
pleasures, or varied society. He feared the men would degenerate into
savage wildness, and their officers into that sordid indifference, which
is, too often, the consequence of being, at the early season of life,
without an aim or a pursuit. He wished to promote a common interest, and
habits social and domestic. He wished, too, that they might make some
advantage of this temporary banishment, to lay by a little store to eke
out their pittance when they returned to more expensive places; in
short, he wished to give them habits of regular economy, which should be
useful to them ever after. He showed them his plans; gave each of them a
department in overseeing the execution of them; and, for that purpose,
each had so many men allotted to his command. He made it obvious to
them, that as the summer was merely to be occupied in gardening and the
chase, the parade of military dress was both expensive and unnecessary.
In the store was a great surplus of soldiers’ coats. These had been sent
from Europe to supply the regiment, which had been greatly diminished in
number by the fatal lines, and succeeding hard march. The major ordered
the regimental tailor to fit these as a kind of short undress frock to
the officers, to whom correspondent little round hats, very different
from the regimental ones, were allotted. Thus equipped, and animated by
the spirit of him who ruled their minds with unconscious yet unlimited
sway, these young Cincinnati set out, nothing loth, on their
horticultural enterprise. All difficulties soon vanished before them;
and, in a very few days, they became enthusiastic in the pursuit of this
new object. That large and fertile portion of ground, which had been
cleared of the timber with which the garrison was built, was given in
charge to a sagacious old serjeant, who knew something of husbandry, and
who very soon had it enclosed in a palisade, dug up and planted with
beans, peas, and Indian corn, the food of future pigs and poultry. To
the officers more interesting tasks were allotted. There was more than
one gardener found in the regiment; and here the engineers and pioneers
were particularly useful. The major who had predestined a favourite spot
for his ample garden, had it partially cleared, by cutting the winter
firing of the garrison from it. Where a mulberry, a wild plum, or cherry
tree was peculiarly well shaped or large, he marked to remain, as well
as some lofty planes and chesnuts; and when the shrubs were grubbed up
in spring, he left many beautiful ones peculiar to the country. To see
the sudden creation of this garden, one would think the genius of the
place obeyed the wand of an enchanter; but it is not every gardener who
can employ some hundred men. A summer house in a tree, a fish-pond, and
a gravel-walk, were finished before the end of May, besides having
committed to the earth great quantities of every vegetable production
known in our best gardens. These vegetables throve beyond belief or
example. The size of the cabbages, the cucumbers, and melons, produced
here, was incredible. They used, in the following years, to send them
down to astonish us at Albany. On the continent they were not equalled,
except in another military garden, which emulation had produced at
Niagara. The major’s economical views were fully answered. Pigs and
poultry in abundance were procured, and supported by their Indian corn
crop; they even procured cows, and made hay in the islands to feed them.
The provisions allowed them by the public afforded a sufficiency of
flour, butter, and salt meat, as also rice. The lake afforded quantities
of excellent fish, much of which the soldiers dried for winter
consumption; and fruit and vegetables they had in profusion from their
gardens. In short, they all lived in a kind of rough luxury, and were
enabled to save much of their pay. The example spread to all the line of
forts; such is the power of one active liberal mind pursuing its object
with undeviating steadiness.

We are now about to leave Ontario; but perhaps the reader is not willing
to take a final farewell of Colonel Duncan. The Indian war then, which
broke out after the peace of 1762, occasioned the detention of the
regiment in America till 1765; and during all that time this paternal
commander continued with six companies of the regiment at Ontario,
improving both the soil and the inhabitants. He then returned with the
regiment, of which he was become lieutenant-colonel, to Ireland. Soon
after he retired from the army, and took up his residence on the family
estate of Lundie, having previously married the woman of his heart, who
had engaged his early affections, and corresponded with him during his
long absence. Here he was as happy as a shattered invalid could be,
highly respected by the neighbourhood, and frequently visited by his old
pupils, who still regarded him with warm attachment. He died childless,
and was succeeded by the admiral, on whose merit it is needless to
expatiate; for who has forgotten the victor of Camperdown?

A company of the 55th was this summer ordered to occupy the fort at
Albany. This was commanded by a sagacious veteran called Winepress. My
father did not exactly belong to this company, but he wished to return
to Albany, where he was known and liked; and the colonel thought, from
his steadiness and experience, he would be particularly useful in paying
the detached parties, and purchasing for the regiment such stores as
they might have occasion for. We set out in our bateaux; and I consoled
myself for not only leaving Oswego, but what was nearer my heart, a tame
partridge, and six pigeons, by the hopes of wandering through Woodcreek,
and sleeping in the woods. In both these particulars I was disappointed.
Our boats being lighter, made better way, and we were received in new
settlements a little distance from the river. The most important
occurrence to me, happened the first day. On that evening we returned to
fort Bruerton; I found Capt. Campbell delighted with my reading, my
memory, and my profound admiration of the friendship betwixt David and
Jonathan. We staid most of the next day. I was much captivated with the
copperplates in an edition of Paradise Lost, which, on that account, he
had given me to admire. When I was coming away, he said to me, “keep
that book, my dear child; I foretell that the time will come when you
will take pleasure in it.” Never did a present produce such joy and
gratitude. I thought I was dreaming, and looked at it a hundred times,
before I could believe any thing so fine was really my own. I tried to
read it; and almost cried with vexation when I found I could not
understand it. At length I quitted it in despair; yet always said to
myself I shall be wiser next year.


                             CHAP. XLVIII.

                 Madame’s Family and Society described.

THE next year (1762) came, and found me at Albany; if not wiser, more
knowing. Again I was shut up in a fort, solemn and solitary; I had no
companion, and was never allowed to go out, except with my mother, and
that was very seldom, indeed. All the fine forenoons I sat and sewed;
and when others went to play in the evening, I was very often sent up to
a large waste room, to get a long task by heart of something very grave
and repulsive. In this waste room, however, lay an old tattered
dictionary, Bailey’s I think, which proved a treasure to me; the very
few books we had, being all religious or military. I had returned to my
Milton, which I conned so industriously, that I got it almost by heart,
as far as I went; yet took care to go no further than I understood. To
make out this point, when any one encouraged me by speaking kindly to
me, I was sure to ask the meaning of some word or phrase; and when I
found people were not at all willing or able to gratify me, I at length
had recourse to my waste room and tattered dictionary, which I found a
perpetual fountain of knowledge. Consequently the waste room, formerly a
gloomy prison, which I thought of with horror, became now the scene of
all my enjoyments; and the moment I was dismissed from my task, I flew
to it with anticipated delight; for there were my treasures, Milton and
the ragged dictionary, which had become the light of my eyes. I studied
the dictionary with indefatigable diligence; which I began now to
consider as very entertaining. I was extremely sorry for the fallen
angels, deeply interested in their speeches, and so well acquainted with
their names, that I could have called the roll of them with all the ease
imaginable. Time run on, I was eight years old, and quite uneducated,
except reading and plain-work; when company came I was considered as in
the way, and sent up to my waste room; but here lay my whole pleasure,
for I had neither companions nor amusement. It was, however, talked of,
that I should go to a convent, at Trois Rivières], in Canada, where
several officers had sent their daughters to be educated.

The fame of Aunt Schuyler every now and then reached my ears, and sunk
deep in my mind. To see her I thought was a happiness too great for me;
and I was continually drawing pictures of her to myself. Meanwhile the
17th regiment arrived; and a party of them took possession of the fort.
During this interim, peace had been proclaimed; and the 55th regiment
were under orders for Britain.

My father, not being satisfied with the single apartment allotted to him
by the new comers, removed to the town; where a friend of his, a Scotch
merchant, gave him a lodging in his own house, next to that very Madame
Schuyler who had been so long my daily thoughts and nightly dreams. We
had not been long there when aunt heard that my father was a good,
plain, upright man, without pretensions, but very well principled. She
sent a married lady, the wife of her favourite nephew, who resided with
her at the time, to ask us to spend the evening with her. I think I have
not been on any occasion more astonished, than when, with no little awe
and agitation, I came into the presence of madame. She was sitting; and
filled a great chair, from which she seldom moved. Her aspect was
composed, and her manner, such as was at first more calculated to
inspire respect, than conciliate affection. Not having the smallest
solicitude about what people thought of her, and having her mind
generally occupied with matters of weighty concern, the first expression
of her kindness seemed rather a lofty courtesy, than attractive
affability: but she shone out by degrees; and she was sure eventually to
please every one worth pleasing, her conversation was so rich, so
varied, so informing; every thing she said bore such a stamp of reality:
her character had such a grasp in it. Her expressions, not from art and
study, but from the clear perceptions of her sound and strong mind, were
powerful, distinct, and exactly adapted to the occasion. You saw her
thoughts as they occurred to her mind, without the usual bias rising
from either a fear to offend, or a wish to please. This was one of the
secrets in which lay the singular power of her conversation. When
ordinary people speak to you, your mind wanders in search of the motives
that prompt their discourse, or the views and prejudices which bias it;
when those who excite (and perhaps solicit) admiration talk, you are
secretly asking yourself whether they mean to inform, or dazzle you. All
this interior canvass vanished before the evident truth and unstudied
ease of aunt’s discourse. On a nearer knowledge, too, you found she was
much more intent to serve, than please you, and too much engrossed by
her endeavours to do so, to stop and look round for your gratitude,
which she heeded just as little as your admiration. In short, she
informed, enlightened, and served you, without levying on you any
tribute whatever, except the information you could give in return. I
describe her appearance as it then struck me; and, once for all, her
manners and conversation, as I thought of them when I was older and knew
better how to distinguish and appreciate. Every thing about her was
calculated to increase the impression of respect and admiration; which,
from the earliest dawn of reflection, I had been taught to entertain for
her. Her house was the most spacious and best furnished I had ever
entered. The family pictures, and scripture paintings, were to me
particularly awful and impressive. I compared them to the models which
had before existed in my imagination, and was delighted or mortified, as
I found they did or did not resemble them.

The family with which she was then surrounded, awakened a more than
common interest. Her favourite nephew, the eldest son of her much
beloved sister, had, by his father’s desire, entered into partnership in
a great commercial house in New-York. Smitten with the uncommon beauty
of a young lady of seventeen, from Rhode-Island, he had married her
without waiting for the consent of his relations. Had he lived in
Albany, and connected himself with one of his fellow citizens, bred up
in frugal simplicity, this step might have been easily got over. But an
expensive and elegant style of living begun already to take place in
New-York; which was, from the residence of the governor and commander in
chief, become the seat of a little court. The lady, whom Philip had
married, was of a family originally Scotch; and derived her descent at
no great distance from one of the noblest families in that country.[20]
Gay, witty, and very engaging, beloved and indulged, beyond measure, by
a fond husband, who was generous and good natured to excess, this young
beauty became “the glass of fashion, and the mould of form.” And the
house of this amiable couple was the resort of all that was gay and
elegant, and the centre of attraction to strangers. The mayor, who was a
person singularly judicious, and most impartial in the affection which
he distributed amongst his large family, saw clearly that the young
people trusted too much to the wealth he was known to possess, and had
got into a very expensive style of living; which, on examining their
affairs, he did not think likely to be long supported by the profits of
the business in which his son was engaged. The probable consequence of a
failure, he saw, would so far involve him as to injure his own family:
this he prevented. Peace was daily expected; and the very existence of
the business in which he was engaged, depended on the army; which his
house was wont to furnish with every thing necessary. He clearly foresaw
the withdrawing of this army; and that the habits of open hospitality
and expensive living would remain, when the sources of their present
supplies were dried up. He insisted on his son entirely quitting this
line, and retiring to Albany. He loaded a ship on his own account for
the West-Indies, and sent the young man as supercargo, to dispose of the
lading. As house-keeping was given up in New-York, and not yet resumed
in Albany, this young creature had only the option of returning to the
large family she had left, or going to her father-in-law’s. Aunt
Schuyler, ever generous and considerate, had every allowance to make for
the high spirit and fine feelings of this inexperienced young creature;
and invited her, with her little daughter, to remain with her till her
husband’s return. Nothing could be more pleasing than to witness the
maternal tenderness and delicate confidence, which appeared in the
behaviour of madame to this new inmate; whose fine countenance seemed
animated with the liveliest gratitude, and the utmost solicitude to
please her revered benefactress. The child was a creature not to be seen
with indifference. The beauty and understanding that appeared full blown
in her mother, seemed budding with the loveliest promise in the young
Catalina; a child, whom to this day, I cannot recollect without an
emotion of tenderness. She was then about three years old. Besides these
interesting strangers, there was a grand niece whom she had brought up.
Such was her family when I first knew it. In the course of the evening,
dreams began to be talked of; and every one in turn gave their opinion
with regard to that wonderful mode, in which the mind acts independent
of the senses, asserting its immaterial nature in a manner the most
conclusive. I mused and listened, till at length the spirit of quotation
(which very early began to haunt me) moved me to repeat, from Paradise

Footnote 20:

  Earl of Crawford’s.

                              “When nature rests,
          Oft in her absence mimic fancy wakes, to imitate her;
          But misjoining shapes, wild work produces oft.”

I sat silent when my bolt was shot; but so did not madame. Astonished to
hear her favourite author quoted readily, by so mere a child, she
attached much more importance to the circumstance than it deserved. So
much, indeed, that long after she used to repeat it to strangers in my
presence, by way of accounting for the great fancy she had taken to me.
These partial repetitions of hers fixed this lucky quotation indelibly
in my mind. Any person who has ever been in love, and has unexpectedly
heard that sweetest of all music, the praise of his beloved, may judge
of my sensations when madame began to talk with enthusiasm of Milton.
The bard of Paradise was indeed “the dweller of my secret soul;” and it
never was my fortune before to meet with any one who understood or
relished him. I knew very well that the divine spirit was his Urania.
But I took his invocation quite literally, and had not the smallest
doubt of his being as much inspired as ever Isaiah was. This was a very
hopeful opening; yet I was much too simple and humble to expect that I
should excite the attention of madame. My ambition aimed at nothing
higher than winning the heart of the sweet Catalina; and I thought if
heaven had given me such another little sister, and enabled me to teach
her, in due time, to relish Milton, I should have nothing left to ask.

Time went on; we were neighbours, and became intimate in the family. I
was beloved by Catalina, caressed by her charming mother, and frequently
noticed by aunt, whom I very much inclined to love, were it not that it
seemed to me as if, in so doing, I should aspire too high. Yet, in my
visits to her, where I had now a particular low chair in a corner
assigned me, I had great enjoyment of various kinds. First, I met there
with all those strangers or inhabitants who were particularly
respectable for their character or conversation. Then I was witness to a
thousand acts of beneficence that charmed me, I could not well say why,
not having learned to analyze my feelings. Then I met with the Spectator
and a few other suitable books, which I read over and over with
unwearied diligence, not having the least idea of treating a book as a
plaything, to be thrown away when the charm of novelty was past. I was
by degrees getting into favour with aunt Schuyler, when a new arrival
for awhile suspended the growing intimacy. I allude to the colonel of my
father’s regiment, who had removed from Crown Point to Albany.

The colonel was a married man, whose wife, like himself, had passed her
early days in a course of frivolous gaiety. They were now approaching
the decline of life, and finding nothing pleasing in the retrospect nor
flattering in prospect, time hung on their hands. Where nothing round
them was congenial to their habits, they took a fancy to have me
frequently with them as matter of amusement. They had had children, and
when they died, their mutual affection died with them. They had had a
fortune, and when it was spent, all their pleasures were exhausted. They
were by this time drawing out the vapid dregs of a tasteless existence,
without energy to make themselves feared, or those gentle and amiable
qualities which attract love; yet they were not stained with gross
vices, and were people of character, as the world goes.

What a new world was I entered into! from the quiet simplicity of my
home, where I heard nothing but truth, and saw nothing but innocence;
and from my good friend’s respectable mansion, where knowledge reflected
light upon virtue, and where the hours were too few for their
occupation; to be a daily witness of the manner in which these listless
ghosts of departed fashion and gaiety drank up the bitter lees of
misused time, fortune, and capacity. Never was lesson more impressive;
and young as I was, I did not fail to mark the contrast, and draw the
obvious inference. From this hopeful school I was set free the following
summer (when I had entered on my ninth year) by the colonel’s return to
England. They were indeed, kind to me; but the gratitude I could not but
feel was a sentiment independent of attachment, and early taught me how
difficult it is, nay, how painful, to disjoin esteem from gratitude.


                              CHAP. XLIX.

                 Sir Jeffery Amherst—Mutiny—Indian War.

AT this time (1765) peace had been for some time established in Europe;
but the ferment and agitation which even the lees and sediments of war
kept up in the northern colonies, and the many regulations requisite to
establish quiet and security in the new acquired Canadian territory,
required all the care and prudence of the commander in chief, and no
little time. At this crisis, for such it proved, Sir Jeffery, afterwards
Lord Amherst, came up to Albany. A mutiny had broke out among the troops
on account of withholding the provisions they used to receive in time of
actual war; and this discontent was much aggravated by their finding
themselves treated with a coldness, amounting to aversion, by the people
of the country; who now forgot past services, and showed in all
transactions a spirit of dislike bordering on hostility to their
protectors, on whom they no longer felt themselves dependent.

Sir Jeffery, however, was received like a prince at Albany, respect for
his private character conquering the anti-military prejudices. The
commander in chief was in those days a great man on the continent,
having, on account of the distance from the seat of government, much
discretionary power entrusted to him. Never was it more safely lodged
than in the hands of this judicious veteran, whose comprehension of
mind, impartiality, steadiness, and close application to business,
peculiarly fitted him for his important station. At his table all
strangers were entertained with the utmost liberality; while his own
singular temperance, early hours, and strict morals, were peculiarly
calculated to render him popular among the old inhabitants. Here I
witnessed an impressive spectacle: the guard-house was in the middle of
the street, opposite to madame’s; there was a guard extraordinary
mounted in honour of Sir Jeffery; at the hour of changing it all the
soldiery in the fort assembled there, and laid down their arms, refusing
to take them up again. I shall never forget the pale and agitated
countenances of the officers; they being too well assured that it was a
thing pre-concerted; which was actually the case, for at Crown Point and
Quebec the same thing was done on the same day. Sir Jeffery came down,
and made a calm dispassionate speech to them, promising them a
continuance of their privileges till further orders from home, and
offering pardon to the whole, with the exception of a few ringleaders,
whose lives, however, were spared. This gentle dealing had its due
effect; but at Quebec the mutiny assumed a most alarming aspect, and had
more serious consequences, though it was in the end quelled. All this
time Sir Jeffery’s visits to madame had been frequent, both out of
respect to her character and conversation, and to reap the benefit of
her local knowledge on an approaching emergency. This was a spirit of
disaffection, then only suspected, among the Indians on the Upper Lakes,
which soon after broke suddenly out into open hostility. In consequence
of her opinion he summoned Sir W. Johnson to concert some conciliatory
measures. But the commencement of the war at this very crisis, detained
him longer to arrange with General Bradstreet and Sir William, the
operations of the ensuing campaign.

This war broke out very opportunely in some respects. It afforded a
pretext for granting those indulgences to the troops which it would
otherwise have been impolitic to give and unsafe to withhold. It
furnished occupation for an army too large to lie idle so far from the
source of authority; which could not yet be safely withdrawn till
matters were on a more stable footing; and it made the inhabitants once
more sensible of their protection. Madame had predicted this event,
knowing better than any one how the affections of these tribes might be
lost or won. She well knew the probable consequences of the negligence
with which they were treated, since the subjection of Canada made us
consider them as no longer capable of giving us trouble. Pontiac, chief
of those nations who inhabited the borders of the great lakes, possessed
one of those minds which break through all disadvantages to assert their
innate superiority.

The rise and conduct of this war, were I able to narrate them
distinctly, the reader would perhaps scarce have patience to attend to;
indistinct as they must appear retraced from my broken recollections.
Could I however do justice to the bravery, the conduct, and magnanimity
in some instances, and the singular address and stratagem in others,
which this extraordinary person displayed in the course of it, the power
of untutored intellect would appear incredible to those who never saw
man but in an artificial or degraded state, exalted by science, or
debased by conscious ignorance and inferiority. During the late war,
Pondiac occupied a central situation, bounded on each side by the French
and English territories. His uncommon sagacity taught him to make the
most of his local advantages, and of that knowledge of the European
character which resulted from this neighbourhood. He had that sort of
consequence which in the last century raised the able and politic
princes of the house of Savoy to the throne they have since enjoyed.
Pondiac held a petty balance between two great contending powers. Even
the privilege of passing through his territories was purchased with
presents, promises, and flatteries. While the court which was paid to
this wily warrior, to secure his alliance, or at least his neutrality,
made him too sensible of his own consequence, as it gave him a near view
of our policy and modes of life. He often passed some time, on various
pretexts, by turns at Montreal and in the English camp. The subjection
of Canada proved fatal to his power, and he could no longer play the
skilful game between both nations which had been so long carried on. The
general advantage of his tribe is always the uppermost thought with an
Indian. The liberal presents which he had received from both parties,
afforded him the means of confederating with distant nations, of whose
alliance he thought to profit in his meditated hostilities.

There were at that time many tribes, then unknown to Europeans, on the
banks of lake Superior, to whom fire-arms and other British goods were
captivating novelties. When the French insidiously built the fort at
Detroit, and the still more detached one at Michilimackinac, on bounds
hitherto undefined, they did it on the footing of having secure places
of trade, not to overawe the natives, but to protect themselves from the
English. They amply rewarded them for permission to erect these
fortresses, and purchased at any expense that friendship from them
without which it would have been impossible to have maintained their
ground in these remote regions. All this liberality and flattery, though
merely founded on self-interest, had its effect; and the French, who are
ever versatile and accommodating, who wore the Huron dress, and spoke
the Huron language when they had any purpose to serve, were without
doubt the favoured nation. We, too apt to despise all foreigners, and
not over complaisant even when we have a purpose to serve, came with a
high hand to occupy those forts which we considered as our right after
the conquest of Canada, but which had been always held by the more
crafty French as an indulgence. These troops without ceremony,
appropriated, and, following major Duncan’s example, cultivated all the
fertile lands around Detroit, as far as fancy or convenience led them.
The lands round Ontario were in a different predicament, being regularly
purchased by Sir William Johnson. In consequence of the peace which had
taken place the year before, all the garrisons were considered as in a
state of perfect security.

Pondiac, in the meantime, conducted himself with the utmost address,
concealing the indignation which brooded in his mind under the semblance
of the greatest frankness and good humour. Master of various languages,
and most completely master of his temper and countenance, he was at home
every where, and paid frequent friendly visits to Detroit, near which,
in the finest country imaginable, was his abode. He frequently dined
with the mess, and sent them fish and venison. Unlike other Indians, his
manner appeared frank and communicative, which opened the minds of
others and favoured his deep designs. He was soon master, through their
careless conversation, of all he wished to know relative to the stores,
resources, and intentions of the troops. Madame, who well knew the
Indian character in general, and was no stranger to the genius and
abilities of Pondiac, could not be satisfied with the manner in which he
was neglected on the one hand, nor his easy admission to the garrison on
the other. She always said they should either make him their friend, or
know him to be their foe.

In the meantime no one could be more busy than this politic warrior.
While the Indians were in strict alliance with the French, they had
their wigwams and their Indian corn within sight of the fort, lived in a
considerable kind of village on the border of the lake, and had a daily
intercourse of traffic and civility with the troops. There was a large
esplanade before the garrison, where the Indians and soldiers sometimes
socially played at ball together. Pondiac had a double view in his
intended hostility. The Canadian priests, with the wonted restless
intriguing spirit of their nation, fomented the discontents of the
Indians. They persuaded them, and perhaps flattered themselves, that if
they (the Indians) would seize the chain of forts, the Grand Monarchy
would send a fleet to re-conquer Canada, and guarantee all the forts he
should take to Pondiac. Upon this he did not altogether depend: yet he
thought if he could surprise Detroit, and seize a vessel which was
expected up from Oswego with ammunition and stores, he might easily take
the other small vessels, and so command the lake. This would be shut up
by ice for the winter, and it would take no little time to build on its
banks another fleet, the only means by which an army could again
approach the place. I will not attempt to lead my reader through all the
intricacies of an Indian war (entirely such), and therefore of all wars
the most incomprehensible in its progress, and most difficult in its
terms. The result of two master-strokes of stratagem, with which it
opened, are such as are curious enough, however, to find a place in this


                                CHAP. L.

                         Pondiac—Sir Robert D.

ALL the distant tribes were to join on hearing Pondiac was in possession
of the fort. Many of those nearest, in the meanwhile, were to lie in the
neighbouring woods, armed and ready to rush out on the discharge of a
cannon, on that day which was meant to be fatal to the garrison. Out of
the intended massacre, however, the artillery were to be spared that
they might work the guns. Near the fort lived a much admired Indian
beauty, who was known in the garrison by the name, or title rather, of
the Queen of Hearts. She not only spoke French, but dressed not
inelegantly in the European manner, and being sprightly and captivating,
was encouraged by Pondiac to go into the garrison on various pretexts.
The advantage the Indian chief meant to derive from this stratagem was,
that she might be a kind of spy in the fort, and that by her influence
over the commander, the wonted caution with regard to Indians might be
relaxed, and the soldiers permitted to go out unarmed and mingle in
their diversions. This plan in some degree succeeded. There was at
length a day fixed, on which a great match of foot-ball was to be
decided between two parties of Indians, and all the garrison were
invited to be spectators. It was to be played on the esplanade opposite
the fort. At a given signal the ball was to be driven over the wall of
the fort, which, as there was no likelihood of its ever being attacked
by cannon, was merely a palisade and earthen breast-work. The Indians
were to run hastily in, on pretence of recovering the ball, and shut the
gates against the soldiers, whom Pondiac and his people were to tomahawk

Pondiac, jealous of the Queen of Hearts, gave orders, after she was let
into the secret of this stratagem, that she should go no more into the
fort. Whether she was offended with this want of confidence; whether her
humanity revolted at the intended massacre, or whether she felt a
particular attachment prevailing over her fidelity to her countrymen, so
it was; her affection got the better of her patriotism. A soldier’s wife
who carried out to her the day before some article of dress she had made
for her, was the medium she made use of to convey a hint of the intended
treachery. The colonel was unwilling, from the dark hint conveyed, to
have recourse to any violent measures; and was, indeed, doubtful of the
fact. To kindle the flames of war wantonly, surrounded as he was, by
hostile nations, who would carry their vengeance into the defenceless
new settlements, was a dreadful expedient. Without betraying his
informer, he resolved to convince himself. The men were ordered to go
out to see the ball played, but to keep under shelter of the fort; and
if they saw the ball driven in, immediately to return and shut the
gates. I cannot distinctly remember the exact mode in which this
manœuvre was managed, but the consequence I know was, first, the
repulsing of the Indians from the gate, and then the commencing of open
hostilities on their side, while the garrison was for some time in a
state of blockade.

Meantime the Indians had concerted another stratagem, to seize a vessel
loaded with stores, which was daily expected from Niagara. Commodore
Grant, a younger brother of the Glenmoriston family in Invernesshire,
was, and I believe still is, commander of the lakes; an office which has
now greatly risen in importance. At that time his own vessel and two or
three smaller were employed in that navigation. This little squadron was
very interesting on a double account. It carried stores, troops, &c.
which could not otherwise be transported, there being no way of
proceeding by land; and again, the size of the vessels and a few swivels
or small cannon they carried enabled them to command even a fleet of
canoes, should the Indians be disposed to attack them. Of this there was
at the time not the least apprehension; and here I must stop to give
some account of the first victim to this unlooked for attack.

Sir Robert D. was the representative of an ancient English family, of
which he was originally the sixth brother. At a certain time of life,
somewhere betwixt twenty-five and thirty, each was, in turn, attacked
with a hypochondriac disorder, which finally proved fatal. Sir Robert,
in turn, succeeded to the estate and title, and to the dreadful
apprehension of being visited by the same calamity. This was the more to
be regretted, as he was a person of very good abilities, and an
excellent disposition. The time now approached when he was to arrive at
that period of life at which the fatal malady attacked his brothers. He
felt, or imagined he felt, some symptoms of the approaching gloom. What
should he do? Medicine had not availed. Should he travel? Alas! his
brothers had travelled, but the blackest despair was their companion.
Should he try a sea voyage, one of them commanded a ship, and fate
overtook him in his own cabin. It occurred to him that, by living among
a people who were utter strangers to this most dreadful of all
visitations, and adopting their manner of life, he might escape its
influence. He came over to America, where his younger brother served in
a regiment then in Canada. He felt his melancholy daily increasing, and
resolved immediately to put in execution his plan of entirely renouncing
the European modes of life, and incorporating himself in some Indian
tribe, hoping the novelty of the scene, and the hardships to which it
would necessarily subject him, might give an entire new turn to his
spirits. He communicated his intention to Sir William Johnson, who
entirely approved of it, and advised him to go up to the great lake,
among the Hurons, who were an intelligent and sensible race, and
inhabited a very fine country, and among whom he would not be liable to
meet his countrymen, or be tempted back to the mode of life he wished
for a while entirely to forsake. This was no flight of caprice, but a
project undertaken in the most deliberate manner, and with the most
rational views. It completely succeeded. The Hurons were not a little
flattered to think that an European of Sir Robert’s rank was going to
live with them, and be their brother. He did not fail to conciliate them
with presents, and still more by his ready adoption of their dress and
manners. The steadiness he showed in adhering to a plan where he had not
only severe hardships but numberless disgusts to encounter, showed him
possessed of invincible patience and fortitude; while his letters to his
friends, with whom he regularly corresponded, evinced much good sense
and just observation. For two years he led this life, which habit made
easy, and the enjoyment of equal spirits agreeable. Convinced that he
had attained his desired end, and conquered the hereditary tendency so
much dreaded, he prepared to return to society, intending, if his
despondency should recur, to return once more to his Indian habit, and
rejoin his Huron friends. When the intention was formed by Pondiac and
his associates, of attacking the commodore’s vessel, Sir Robert, who
wished now to be conveyed to some of the forts, discerned the British
ship from the opposite shore of the great lake, and being willing to
avail himself of that conveyance, embarked in a canoe with some of his
own Indian friends, to go on board the commodore. Meanwhile, a very
large canoe, containing as many of Pondiac’s followers as it could
possibly hold, drew near the king’s ship, and made a pretext of coming
in a friendly manner, while two or three others, filled with warriors,
hovered at a distance.—They had fallen short of their usual policy; for
they were painted red, and had about them some of those symbols of
hostility, which are perfectly understood amongst each other. Some
friendly Indians, who happened to be by accident on board the
commodore’s vessel, discerned these, and warned him of the approaching
danger. On their drawing near the vessel, they were ordered to keep off.
Thinking they were discovered, and that things could be no worse, they
attempted to spring on board, armed with their tomahawks and
scalping-knives, but were very soon repulsed. The other canoes, seeing
all was discovered, drew near to support their friends, but were soon
repulsed by a discharge of the six-pounder. At this crisis, the canoe,
containing Sir Robert, began to advance in another direction. The
Indians who accompanied him, had not been apprised of the proposed
attack; but being Hurons, the commodore never doubted of their
hostility. Sir Robert sat in the end of the canoe, dressed in all the
costume of a Huron, and wrapt up in his blanket. He ordered his
companions to approach the ship immediately, not deterred by their
calling to them to keep off, intending, directly, to make himself known;
but in the confusion he was accidentally shot.

To describe the universal sorrow diffused over the province in
consequence of this fatal accident, would be impossible. Nothing since
the death of Lord Howe had excited such general regret. The Indians
carried the body to Detroit, and delivered it up to the garrison for
interment. He had kept a journal during his residence on the lakes,
which was never recovered, and must certainly have contained (proceeding
from such a mind so circumstanced) much curious matter. Sir Charles, his
younger brother, then a captain in the 17th, succeeded him, but had no
visitation of the depression of mind so fatal to his brothers.

Rumours, enlarged by distance, soon reached Albany of this unlooked-for
attack of the Indians. Indeed, before they had any authentic details,
they heard of it in the most alarming manner from the terrified back
settlers, who fled from their incursions. Those who dwell in a land of
security, where only the distant rumour of war can reach them, would
know something of the value of safety could they be but one day
transported to a region where this plague is let loose; where the
timorous and the helpless are made to

                  “Die many times before their death,”

by restless rumour, cruel suspense, and anticipated misery. Many of the
regiments employed in the conquest of Canada had returned home, or gone
to the West-Indies. Had the Canadians had spirit and cohesion to rise in
a body and join the Indians, ’tis hard to say what might have been the
consequence. Madame, whose cautions were neglected in the day of
prosperity, became now the public oracle, and was resorted to and
consulted by all. Formerly she blamed their false security and neglect
of that powerful chief, who, having been accustomed to flattery and
gifts from all sides, was all at once made too sensible that it was from
war he derived his importance. Now she equally blamed the universal
trepidation, being confident in our resources, and well knowing what
useful allies the Mohawks, ever hostile to the Canadian Indians, might

Never was our good aunt more consulted and more respected. Sir Jeffery
Amherst planned at Albany an expedition to be commanded by General
Bradstreet, for which both New-York and New-England raised corps of


                               CHAP. LI.

 Death of Captain Dalziel—Sudden Decease of an Indian Chief—Madame—Her

MEANTIME an express arrived with the afflicting news of the loss of a
captain and twenty men of the 55th regiment. The name of this lamented
officer was Dalziel, of the Carnwath family. Colonel Beckwith had sent
for a reinforcement. This Major Duncan hesitated to send, till better
informed as to the mode of conveyance. Captain Dalziel volunteered
going. I cannot exactly say how they proceeded; but, after having
penetrated through the woods till they were in sight of Detroit, they
were discovered and attacked by a party of Indians, and made their way
with the utmost difficulty, after the loss of their commander and the
third part of their number.

Major Duncan’s comprehensive mind took in every thing that had any
tendency to advance the general good, and cement old alliances. He saw
none of the Hurons, whose territories lay far above Ontario, but those
tribes whose course of hunting or fishing led them to his boundaries,
were always kindly treated. He often made them presents of ammunition or
provision, and did every thing in his power to conciliate them. Upon
hearing of the outrage which the Hurons[21] had been guilty of, the
heads of the tribe, with whom the major had cultivated the greatest
intimacy, came to assure him of their good wishes, and hearty
co-operation. He invited them to come with their tribe to celebrate the
birth-day of their new king (his present majesty) which occurred a few
days after, and there solemnly renew, with the usual ceremonies, the
league offensive and defensive made between their fathers and the late
king. They came accordingly in their best arms and dresses, and assisted
at a review, and at a kind of feast given on the occasion, on the
outside of the fort. The chief and his brother, who were two fine noble
looking men, were invited to dine with the major and officers. When they
arrived, and were seated, the major called for a glass of wine to drink
his sovereign’s health; this was no sooner done, than the sachem’s
brother fell lifeless on the floor. They thought it was a fainting fit,
and made use of the usual applications to recover him, which, to their
extreme surprise, proved ineffectual. His brother looked steadily on
while all those means were using; but when convinced of their
inefficacy, sat down, drew his mantle over his face, sobbed aloud, and
burst into tears. This was an additional wonder. Through the traces of
Indian recollection no person had been known to fall suddenly dead
without any visible cause, nor any warrior to shed tears. After a pause
of deep silence, which no one felt inclined to break, the sachem rose
with a collected and dignified air, and thus addressed the witnesses of
this affecting incident: “Generous English, misjudge me not; though you
have seen me for once a child, in the day of battle you will see a man,
who will make the Hurons weep blood. I was never thus before. But to me
my brother was all. Had he died in battle, no look of mine would change.
His nation would honour him, but his foes should lament him. I see
sorrow in your countenances; and I know you were not the cause of my
brother’s death. Why, indeed, should you take away a life that was
devoted to you? Generous English, ye mourn for my brother, and I will
fight your battles.” This assurance of his confidence was very necessary
to quiet the minds of his friends; and the concern of the officers was
much aggravated by the suspicious circumstances attending his death so
immediately after the drinking of the wine they had given him. The major
ordered this lamented warrior to be interred with great ceremony. A
solemn procession, mournful music, the firing of cannon, and all other
military honours, evinced his sympathy for the living, and his respect
for the dead; and the result of this sad event, in the end, rather
tended to strengthen the attachment of those Indians to the British

Footnote 21:

  The author, perhaps, uses the term Huron, where that of Algonquin
  would have been more correct. She does not recollect the distinctive
  terms exactly, but applies the epithet, in general, to the Indians who
  then occupied the banks of the Huron Lake, and the adjacent country.

I have given this singular occurrence a place in these memoirs, as it
serves to illustrate the calm good sense and steady confidence which
made a part of the Indian character, and added value to their
friendship, when once it was fairly attained.

The fifty-fifth, which had been under orders to return home, felt a
severe disappointment in being, for two years more, confined to their
sylvan fortresses. These, however, they embellished, and rendered
comfortable, with gardens and farm grounds, that, to reside in them,
could no longer be accounted a penance. Yet, during the Indian war, they
were, from motives of necessary caution, confined to very narrow limits;
which, to those accustomed to pursue their sports with all that wild
liberty and wide excursion peculiar to savage hunters, was a hardship of
which we can have no idea. Restrained from this unbounded license,
fishing became their next favourite pursuit, to which the lakes and
rivers on which these forts were built, afforded great facility. Tempted
by the abundance and excellence of the productions of these copious
waters, they were led to endanger their health by their assiduity in
this amusement. Agues, the disease of all new establishments, became
frequent among them, and were aggravated by the home sickness. To this
they were more peculiarly liable, as the regiment, just newly raised
before they embarked for America, had quitted the bosom of their
families, without passing through the gradation of boarding-schools and
academies, as is usual in other countries.

What an unspeakable blessing to the inhabitants were the parish schools
of the north, and how much humble worth and laborious diligence has been
found among their teachers. In those lowly seminaries, boys not only
attained the rudiments of learning, but the principles of loyalty and
genuine religion, with the abatement of a small tincture of idolatry, of
which their household gods were the only objects. Never, surely, was a
mode of education so calculated to cherish attachment to those tutelar
deities. Even the laird’s son had often a mile or two to walk to his day
school; a neighbouring tenant’s son carried the basket which contained
his simple dinner; and still as they went along they were joined by
other fellow travellers in the paths of learning. How cordial were those
intimacies, formed in the early period of life, and of the day while
nature smiled around in dewy freshness! How gladdening to the kind and
artless heart were these early walks through the wild varieties of a
romantic country, and among the peaceful cottages of simple peasants,
from whence the incense of praise, “in sounds by distance made more
sweet,” rose on the morning breeze![22] How cheering was the mid-day
sport, amid their native burns and braes, without the confinement of a
formal play-ground! How delightful the evening walk homeward, animated
by the consciousness of being about to meet all that was dearest to the
artless and affectionate mind! Thus the constitution was improved with
the understanding; and they carried abroad into active life, the rigid
fibre of the robust and hardy frame, and the warm and fond affections of
the heart, uncorrupted and true to its first attachments. Never sure
were youth’s first glowing feelings more alive than in the minds of
those young soldiers. From school they were hurried into the greatest
fatigues and hardships, and the horrors of the most sanguinary war; and
from thence transported to the depth of those central forests, where
they formed to themselves a little world, whose greatest charm was the
cherished recollection of the simple and endeared scenes of their
childhood, and of the beloved relations whom they had left behind, and
to whom they languished to return. They had not gone through the ordeal
of the world, and could not cheer their exile by retracing its ways, its
fashions, or its amusements. It is this domestic education, that
unbroken series of home joys and tender remembrances, that render the
natives of the north so faithful to their filial and fraternal duties
and so attached to a bleak and rugged region, excelled in genial warmth
of climate and fertility of soil, in every country to which the spirit
of adventure leads them.

Footnote 22:

  The Scottish peasants, when they return to breakfast from their early
  labours, read a portion of scripture, sing some part of a psalm, and
  pray. This practice is too general, either to diminish cheerfulness,
  or convey the idea of superior sanctity; while the effect of vocal
  music, rising at once from so many separate dwellings, is very

I was now restored to my niche at Aunt Schuyler’s and not a little
delighted with the importance which, in this eventful crisis, seemed to
attach to her opinions. The times were too agitated to admit of her
paying much attention to me; but I, who took the deepest interest in
what was going on, and heard of nothing, abroad or at home, but Indians,
and sieges, and campaigns, was doubly awake to all the conversation I
heard at home.

The expedition proceeded under General Bradstreet, while my father,
recommended to his attention by madame, held some temporary employment
about mustering the troops. My friend had now the satisfaction of seeing
her plans succeed in different instances.

Philip, since known by the title of General Schuyler, whom I have
repeatedly mentioned, had now, in pursuance of the mode she pointed out
to him, attained to wealth and power, both of which were rapidly
increasing. His brother Cortlandt, (the handsome savage,) who had, by
her advice, gone into the army, had returned from Ireland, the commander
of a company, and married to a very pleasing and estimable woman, whose
perpetual vivacity and good humour threw a ray of light over the
habitual reserve of her husband, who was amiable in domestic life,
though cold and distant in his manner. They settled near the general,
and paid a degree of attention to madame, that showed the filial tie
remained in full force.

The colonel, as he was then called, had built a house near Albany, in
the English taste, comparatively magnificent, where his family resided,
and where he carried on the business of his department. Thirty miles or
more above Albany, in the direction of the Flats, and near the far-famed
Saratoga, which was to be the scene of his future triumph, he had
another establishment. It was here that the colonel’s political and
economical genius had full scope. He had always the command of a great
number of those workmen who were employed in public buildings, &c. Those
were always in constant pay—it being necessary to engage them in that
manner; and were, from the change of seasons, the shutting of the ice,
and other circumstances, months unemployed. All these seasons, when
public business was interrupted, the workmen were employed in
constructing squares of buildings in the nature of barracks, for the
purpose of lodging artisans and labourers of all kinds. Having
previously obtained a large tract of very fertile lands from the crown,
on which he built a spacious and convenient house; he constructed those
barracks at a distance, not only as a nursery for the arts which he
meant to encourage, but as the materials of a future colony, which he
meant to plant out around him. He had here a number of negroes well
acquainted with felling of trees and managing saw-mills, of which he
erected several. And while these were employed in carrying on a very
advantageous trade of deals and lumber, which were floated down on rafts
to New-York, they were at the same time clearing the ground for the
colony the colonel was preparing to establish.

This new settlement was an asylum for every one who wanted bread and a
home: from the variety of employments regularly distributed, every
artisan and every labourer found here lodging and occupation; some
hundreds of people, indeed, were employed at once. Those who were in
winter engaged at the saw-mills, were in summer equally busied at a
large and productive fishery. The artisans got lodging and firing for
two or three years, at first, besides being well paid for every thing
they did. Flax was raised and dressed, and finally spun and made into
linen there; and as artisans were very scarce in the country, every one
sent linen to weave, flax to dress, &c. to the colonel’s colony. He paid
them liberally; and having always abundance of money in his hands, could
afford to be the loser at first, to be amply repaid in the end. It is
inconceivable what dexterity, address, and deep policy were exhibited in
the management of this new settlement; the growth of which was rapid
beyond belief. Every mechanic ended in being a farmer, that is, a
profitable tenant to the owner of the soil; and new recruits of artisans
from the north of Ireland chiefly supplied their place, nourished with
the golden dews which this sagacious projector could so easily command.
The rapid increase and advantageous result of this establishment were
astonishing. It is impossible for my imperfect recollection to do
justice to the capacity displayed in these regulations. But I have thus
endeavoured to trace to its original source that wealth and power which
became, afterwards, the means of supporting an aggression so formidable.


                               CHAP. LII.

               Madame’s popularity—Exchange of Prisoners.

IN the front of Madame’s house was a portico, towards the street. To
this she was supported, in fine evenings, when the whole town were
enjoying themselves on their respective seats of one kind or other. To
hers there were a few steps of ascent, on which we used humbly to seat
ourselves; while a succession of the “elders of that city” paid their
respects to madame, and conversed with her by turns. Never was levee
better attended. “Aunt Schuyler is come out,” was a talismanic sentence
that produced pleasure in every countenance, and set every one in motion
who hoped to be well received; for, as I have formerly observed, aunt
knew the value of time much too well to devote it to every one. We lived
all this time next door to her, and were often of these evening parties.

The Indian war was now drawing to a close, after occasioning great
disquiet, boundless expense, and some bloodshed. Even when we had the
advantage which our tactics and artillery in some instances gave, it was
a warfare of the most precarious and perplexing kind. It was something
like hunting in a forest at best; could you but have supposed the
animals you pursued armed with missile weapons, and ever ready to start
out of some unlooked-for place. Our faithful Indian confederates, as far
as I can recollect, were more useful to us on this occasion than all the
dear-bought apparatus which we collected for the purpose of destroying
an enemy too wise and too swift to permit us to come in sight of them;
or, if determined to attack us, sufficiently dexterous to make us feel
before we saw them. We said, however, that we conquered Pondiac, at
which, no doubt, he smiled; for the truth of the matter was, the conduct
of this war resembled a protracted game of chess. He was as little able
to take our forts without cannon, as we were able without the feet, the
eyes, and the instinctive sagacity of Indians, to trace them to their
retreats. After delighting ourselves for a long while with the manner in
which we were to punish Pondiac’s presumption, “could we but once catch
him,” all ended in our making a treaty, very honourable for him, and not
very disadvantageous to ourselves. We gave both presents and promises,
and Pondiac gave permission to the mothers of those children who had
been taken away from the frontier settlements, to receive them back
again, on condition of delivering up the Indian prisoners.

The joyful day when the congress was held for concluding peace I never
shall forget. Another memorable day is engraven in indelible characters
upon my memory. Madame being deeply interested in the projected
exchange, brought about a scheme for having it take place at Albany,
which was more central than any other place, and where her influence
among the Mohawks could be of use in getting intelligence about the
children, and sending messages to those who had adopted them, and who,
by this time, were very unwilling to part with them. In the first place,
because they were grown very fond of them; and again, because they
thought the children would not be so happy in our manner of life, which
appeared to them both constrained and effeminate. This exchange had a
large retrospect. For ten years back there had been every now and then,
while these Indians were in the French interest, ravages upon the
frontiers of the different provinces. In many instances, these children
had been snatched away while their parents were working in the fields,
or after they were killed. A certain day was appointed, on which all who
had lost their children, or sought those of their relations were to come
to Albany in search of them; where, on that day, all Indians possessed
of white children, were to present them. Poor women, who had travelled
some hundred miles from the back settlements of Pennsylvania and
New-England, appeared here, with anxious looks and aching hearts, not
knowing whether their children were alive, or how exactly to identify
them if they should meet them. I observed these apprehensive and tender
mothers were, though poor people, all dressed with peculiar neatness and
attention, each wishing the first impression her child should receive of
her might be a favourable one. On a gentle slope near the fort, stood a
row of temporary huts, built by retainers to the troops: the green
before these buildings was the scene of these pathetic recognitions,
which I did not fail to attend. The joy of even the happy mothers was
overpowering, and found vent in tears; but not like the bitter tears of
those who, after long travel, found not what they sought. It was
affecting to see the deep and silent sorrow of the Indian women, and of
the children, who knew no other mother, and clung fondly to their
bosoms, from whence they were not torn without the most piercing
shrieks; while their own fond mothers were distressed beyond measure at
the shyness and aversion with which these long-lost objects of their
love received their caresses. I shall never forget the grotesque figures
and wild looks of these young savages; nor the trembling haste with
which their mothers arrayed them in the new clothes they had brought for
them, as hoping that with the Indian dress, they would throw off their
habits and attachments. It was, in short, a scene impossible to
describe, but most affecting to behold. Never was my good friend’s
considerate liberality and useful sympathy more fully exerted than on
this occasion, which brought so many poor travellers from their distant
homes on this pilgrimage to the shrine of nature. How many traders did
she persuade to take them gratis in their boats! How many did she feed
and lodge! and in what various ways did she serve or make others serve
them all. No one, indeed, knew how to refuse a request of aunt Schuyler,
who never made one for herself.


                              CHAP. LIII.

 Return of the fifty-fifth regiment to Europe—Privates sent to Pensacola.

THE fifty-fifth now left their calm abodes amidst their lakes and
forests, with the joy of children breaking up from their school; little
aware that they were bidding adieu to quiet, plenty, and freedom, and
utter strangers to the world into which they were about to plunge. They
all came down to Albany. Captain Mungo Campbell was charmed to find me
so familiar with his Milton; while I was equally charmed to find him a
favourite with aunt Schuyler, which was with me the criterion of merit.
Colonel Duncan, for such he was now, marched proudly at the head of his
pupils, whom he had carried up raw youths, but brought back with all the
manly and soldierly openness of manner and character that could be
wished, and with minds greatly improved. Meanwhile, madame’s counsels
had so much influence on my father, that he began seriously to think of
settling in America. To part with his beloved fifty-fifth was very
trying; yet his prospects of advantage in remaining among a people by
whom he was esteemed, and to whom he had really become attached, were
very flattering; for by the aid of aunt and the old inhabitants, and
friendly Indians, who were at her powerful bidding, he could expect to
get advantageously some lands which he, in common with other officers
who served in America, was entitled to. He having a right to apply for
the allotted quantity wherever he found it vacant, that is, in odd
unoccupied places, between different patents, which it required much
local knowledge of the country to discover, had greatly the advantage of
strangers; because he could get information of those secluded spots here
and there, that were truly valuable; whereas other officers belonging to
regiments disbanded in the country, either did not find it convenient to
go to the expense of taking out a patent, and surveying the lands, and
so sold their rights for a trifle to others; or else half a dozen went
together, and made a choice, generally an injudicious one, of some large
tract of ground, which would not have been so long unsolicited had it
been of real value. My father bought the rights of two young officers
who were in a hurry to go to Europe, and had not, perhaps, wherewithal
to go through the necessary forms used to appropriate a particular spot,
the expense of that process being considerable. Accordingly, he became a
consequential landholder, and had half his pay to boot.

The fifty-fifth were now preparing to embark for that home which they
regarded with enthusiasm; this extended to the lowest ranks, who were
absolutely home-sick. They had, too, from the highest to the lowest,
been enabled, from their unexpensive mode of living, to lay up some
money. Never was there a body of men more uncorrupted and more attached
to each other. Military men contract a love of variety in their
wandering manner of life, and always imagine they are to find some
enjoyment in the next quarters that they have not had in this; so that
the order for march is generally a joyful summons to the younger
officers at least. To these novices, who, when they thought the world of
variety, glory, and preferment was open before them, were ordered up
into the depth of unexplored forests, to be kept stationary for years
together, without even the amusement of a battle, it was sufficiently
disappointing. Yet afterwards I have been told that, in all the changes
to which this hapless regiment was subjected, they looked back on the
years spent on the lakes as the happiest of their lives.

My father parted with them with extreme regret, but he had passed the
rubicon—that is to say, taken out his patent, and stay he must. He went,
however, to New-York with them, and here a very unexpected scene opened.
Many of the soldiers who had saved little sums, had deposited them in my
father’s hands, and, when he gave every one his own at New-York, he had
great pleasure in seeing their exultation, and the purchases they were
making. When, all of a sudden, a thunderbolt burst among these poor
fellows, in the shape of an order to draft the greatest part of them to
Pensacola, to renew regiments who, placed on a bar of burning sand, with
a salt marsh before and a swamp behind, were lingering out a wretched
and precarious existence, daily cut short by disease in some new
instance. Words are very inadequate to give an idea of the horror that
pervaded this band of veterans. When this order was most unexpectedly
read at the head of the regiment, it was worse to most of them than a
sentence of immediate death. They were going to a dismal and detested
quarter, and they were going to become part of a regiment of no repute;
whom they themselves had held in the utmost contempt when they had
formerly served together. The officers were not a little affected by
this cruel order; to part with brave well-disciplined men, who, by their
singular good conduct, and by the habits of sharing with their officers
in the chase, and in their agricultural amusements, fishing parties, &c.
had acquired a kindly nearness to them, not usually subsisting between
those who command and they who must implicitly obey. What ties were
broken! what hopes were blasted by this fatal order! These sad exiles
embarked for Pensacola at the same time that their comrades set out for
Ireland. My father returned, sunk in the deepest sadness, which was
increased by our place of abode; for we had removed to the forsaken
fort, where there was no creature but ourselves and three or four
soldiers, who chose to stay in the country, and for whom my father had
procured their discharge.

I was, in the mean time, more intimate than ever at aunt Schuyler’s;
attracted not only by her kindness, but my admiration for Mrs. Cuyler,
and attachment for her lovely little girl. The husband of the former was
now returned from his West-India voyage, and they retired to a house of
their own, meaning to succeed to that business which the mayor, now
wealthy and infirm, was quitting. Cortlandt Schuyler, the general’s
brother, and his sprightly agreeable wife, were now, as well as the
couple formerly mentioned, frequent visitors at aunt’s, and made a very
pleasing addition to her familiar circle. I began to be considered as
almost a child of the family, and madame took much pains in instructing
me, hoping that I would continue attached to her, and knowing that my
parents were much flattered by her kindness, and fully conscious of the
advantages I derived from it. With her aid, my father’s plan of
proceeding was fully digested. He was to survey and locate his lands,
(that was the phrase used for such transactions,) and at leisure, (as
the price of lands was daily rising,) to let them out on lease. He was
to reserve a good farm for himself, but not to reside upon it till the
lands around it were cultivated, and so many settlers gone up as would
make the district, in a degree, civilized and populous; a change which
was like to take place very rapidly, as there were daily emigrations to
that neighbourhood, which was become a favourite rallying point, on
account of a flourishing and singularly well-conducted settlement which
I have already mentioned, under the auspices of Colonel Schuyler in this


                               CHAP. LIV.

                    A new property—Visionary plans.

MY father went up in summer with a retinue of Indians and disbanded
soldiers, &c. headed by a land surveyor. In that country, men of this
description formed an important and distinct profession. They were
provided with an apparatus of measuring-chains, tents, and provision. It
was, upon the whole, an expensive expedition; but this was the less to
be regretted, as the object proved fully adequate. Never was a location
more fertile or more valuable, nor the possessor of an estate more
elated with his acquisition. A beautiful stream passed through the midst
of the property; beyond its limits, on one side, rose a lofty eminence,
covered with tall cedar, which being included in no patent, would be a
common good, and offered an inexhaustible supply of timber and firing,
after the lands should be entirely cleared. This sylvan scene appeared,
even in its wild state, to possess singular advantages; it was dry lying
land, without the least particle of swamp; great part of it was covered
with chesnuts, the sure indication of good wheat land, and the rest with
white oak, the never-failing forerunner of good Indian corn and pasture.
The ground, at the time of the survey, was in a great measure covered
with strawberries, the sure sign of fertility; and better and better
still, there was, on a considerable stream which watered this region of
benediction, a beaver-dam, that was visibly of at least fifty years
standing. What particular addition our over-flowing felicity was to
derive from the neighbourhood of these sagacious builders, may not be
easily conjectured. It was not their society, for they were much too
wise to remain in our vicinity, nor yet their example, which, though a
very good one, we were scarce wise enough to follow. Why then did we so
much rejoice over the dwelling of these old settlers? Merely because
their industry had saved us much trouble; for in the course of their
labours, they had cleared above thirty acres of excellent hay land; work
which we should take a long time to execute, and not perform near so
well; the truth was, this industrious colony, by whose previous labour
we were thus to profit, were already extirpated, to my unspeakable
sorrow, who had been creating a beaver Utopia ever since I heard of the
circumstance. The protection I was to afford them, the acquaintance I
was to make with them, after conquering the first shyness, and the
delight I was to have in seeing them work, after convincing them of
their safety, occupied my whole attention, and helped to console me for
the drafting of the fifty-fifth, which I had been ever since lamenting.
How buoyant is the fancy of childhood! I was mortified to the utmost to
hear there were no beavers remaining; yet the charming, though simple
description my father gave us of this “vale of bliss,” which the beavers
had partly cleared, and the whole “township of Clarendon,” (so was the
new laid out territory called,) consoled me for all past
disappointments. It is to be observed, that the political and economical
regulations of the beavers, make their neighbourhood very desirable to
new settlers. They build houses and dams with unwearied industry, as
every one that has heard of them must needs know; but their
unconquerable attachment to a particular spot is not so well known; the
consequence is, that they work more, and of course clear more land in
some situations than in others. When they happen to pitch upon a stream
that overflows often in spring, it is apt lo carry away the dam, formed
of large trees laid across the stream, which it has cost them
unspeakable pains to cut down and bring there. Whenever these are
destroyed, they cut down more trees and construct another; and as they
live all winter on the tender twigs from the underwood and bark which
they strip from poplar and alder, they soon clear these also from the
vicinity. In the day-time they either mend their houses, lay up stores
in them, or fish, sitting upon their dams made for that purpose. The
night they employ in cutting down trees, which they always do so as to
make them fall towards the stream, or in dragging them to the dam.
Meanwhile they have always sentinels placed near to give the alarm, in
case of any intrusion. It is hard to say when these indefatigable
animals refresh themselves with sleep. I have seen those that have been
taken young and made very tame, so that they followed their owner about;
even in these the instinct which prompts their nocturnal labours was
apparent. When all was quiet, they began to work. Being discontented and
restless, if confined, it was usual to leave them in the yard. They
seemed in their civilized, or rather degraded state, to retain an idea
that it was necessary to convey materials for building to their wonted
habitation. The consequence was, that a single one would carry such
quantities of wood to the back door, that you would find your way
blocked up in the morning, to a degree almost incredible.

Being very much inclined to be happy, and abundant in resources, the
simple felicity which was at some future period to prevail among the
amiable and innocent tenants we were to have at Clarendon, filled my
whole mind. Before this flattering vision, all painful recollections,
and even all the violent love which I had persuaded myself to feel for
my native Britain, entirely vanished.

The only thing that disturbed me, was aunt Schuyler’s age, and the
thoughts of outliving her, which sometimes obtruded among my day dreams
of more than mortal happiness. I thought all this could scarce admit of
addition; yet a new source of joy was opened, when I found that we were
actually going to live at the Flats. That spot, rendered sacred by the
residence of aunt, where I should trace her steps wherever I moved,
dwell under the shadow of her trees, and, in short, find her in every
thing I saw. We did not aspire to serious farming, reserving that effort
for our own estate, of which we talked very magnificently, and indeed
had some reason, it being as valuable as so much land could be: and from
its situation in a part of the country which was hourly acquiring fresh
inhabitants, its value daily increased, which consideration induced my
father to refuse several offers for it; resolved either to people it
with Highland emigrants, or retain it in his own hands till he should
get his price.

Sir Henry Moore, the last British governor of New-York that I remember,
came up this summer to see Albany, and the ornament of Albany—aunt
Schuyler; he brought Lady Moore and his daughter with him. They resided
for some time at General Schuyler’s, I call him so by anticipation; for
sure I am, had any gifted seer foretold then what was to happen, he
would have been ready to answer, “Is thy servant a dog, that he should
do this thing?” Sir Harry, like many of his predecessors, was a mere
show governor, and old Cadwallader Colden, the lieutenant governor,
continued to do the business, and enjoy the power in its most essential
branches, such as giving patents for lands, &c. Sir Harry, in the
meantime, had never thought of business in his life: he was honourable,
as far as a man could be so, who always spent more than he had; he was,
however, gay, good natured, and well bred, affable and courteous in a
very high degree, and if the business of a governor was merely to keep
the governed in good humour, no one was fitter for that office than he,
the more so, as he had sense enough to know two things of great
importance to be known: one was, that a person of tried wisdom and good
experience like Colden, was fitter to transact the business of the
province, than any dependent of his own; the other, that he was totally
unfit to manage it himself. The government house was the scene of
frequent festivities and weekly concerts, Sir Henry being very musical,
and Lady Moore peculiarly fitted for doing the honours of a drawing-room
or entertainment. They were too fashionable, and too much hurried to
find time for particular friendships, and too good natured and well bred
to make invidious distinctions, so that, without gaining very much
either of esteem or affection, they pleased every one in the circle
around them; and this general civility of theirs, in the storm which was
about to arise, had its use. In the beginning, before the tempest broke
loose in all its fury, it was like oil poured on agitated waters, which
produces a temporary calm immediately round the ship. As yet the storm
only muttered at a distance, but madame was disturbed by anxious
presages. In her case,

                  “Old experience actually did attain
                   To something like prophetic strain.”

But it was not new to her to prophecy in vain. I, for my part, was
charmed with the manners of these exalted visitors of aunt’s, and not a
little proud of their attention to her, not knowing that they showed
pretty much the same attention to every one.

While I was dancing on air with the thoughts of going to live at the
Flats, of the beauties of Clarendon, and many other delights which I had
created to myself, an event took place that plunged us all in sorrow; it
was the death of the lovely child Catalina, who was the object of much
fondness to us all, for my parents, bating the allowance to be made for
enthusiasm, were as fond of her as I was. Madame had set her heart very
much on this engaging creature; she mustered up all her fortitude to
support the parents of her departed favourite, but suffered much
notwithstanding. Here began my acquaintance with sorrow. We went,
however, to the Flats in autumn. Our family consisted of a negro girl,
and a soldier, who had followed my father’s fortunes from Scotland, and
stuck to him through every change. We did not mean to farm, but had
merely the garden, orchard, and enclosure for hay, two cows, a horse for
my father, and a colt, which, to my great delight, was given me as a
present. Many sources of comfort and amusement were now cut off from
madame; her nephew and his lively and accomplished wife had left her;
Dr. Ogilvie was removed to New-York, and had a successor no way
calculated to supply his place. This year she had lost her
brother-in-law Cornelius Cuyler,[23] whose sound sense and intelligence
made his society of consequence to her, independent of the great esteem
and affection she had for him. The army, among whom she always found
persons of information and good breeding, in whose conversation she
could take pleasure which might be truly called such, were gone. Nothing
could compensate, in her opinion, for the privation of that enjoyment;
she read, but then the people about her had so little taste for reading,
that she had not her wonted pleasure in that, for want of some one with
whom she could discuss the topics suggested by her studies. It was in
this poverty of society, such as she was accustomed to enjoy, that she
took a fancy to converse much with me, to regret my want of education,
and to take a particular interest in my employments and mental
improvement. That I might more entirely profit by her attention, she
requested my parents to let me pass the winter with her: this invitation
they gladly complied with.

Footnote 23:

  This estimable character had for the space of forty years (which
  included very important and critical conjunctures) been chief
  magistrate of Albany, and its district. A situation calculated to
  demand the utmost integrity and impartiality, and to exercise all the
  powers of a mind acute, vigilant, and comprehensive. The less he was
  amenable to the control and direction of his superiors, the more
  liable was he to the animadversions of his fellow citizens, had he in
  the least departed from that rectitude which made him the object of
  their confidence and veneration. He administered justice, not so much
  in conformity to written laws, as to that rule of equity within his
  own breast, the application of which was directed by sound sense,
  improved by experience. I do by no means insinuate, that he either
  neglected or disobeyed those laws, by which in all doubtful cases, he
  was certainly guided; but that the uncorrupted state of public morals,
  and the entire confidence which his fellow citizens reposed in his
  probity, rendered appeals to the law for the most part superfluous. I
  have heard that the family of the Cuylers was originally a German one
  of high rank. Whether this can or cannot be ascertained, is of little
  consequence. The sterling worth of their immediate ancestor, and his
  long and faithful services to the public, reflect more honour on his
  descendants than any length of pedigree.

The winter at the Flats was sufficiently melancholy, and rendered less
agreeable by some unpleasant neighbours we had. These were a family from
New-England, who had been preparing to occupy lands near those occupied
by my father. They had been the summer before recommended to aunt’s
generous humanity, as honest people, who merely wanted a shelter in a
room in her empty house, till they should build a temporary hut on those
new lands which they were about to inhabit. When we came, the time
permitted to them had long elapsed, but my father, who was exceedingly
humane, indulged them with a fortnight more after our arrival, on the
pretence of the sickness of a child; and there they sat, and would not
remove for the winter, unless coercion had been used for that purpose.
We lived on the road side. There was at that time a perpetual emigration
going on from the provinces of New England to our back settlements. Our
acquaintance with the family who kept possession beside us, and with
many of even the better sort, who came to bargain with my father about
his lands, gave us more insight than we wished into the prevalent
character of those people, whom we found conceited, litigious, and
selfish beyond measure. My father was told that the only safe way to
avoid being overreached by them in a bargain, was to give them a kind of
tacit permission to sit down on his lands, and take his chance of
settling with them when they were brought into some degree of
cultivation; for if one did bargain with them, the custom was to have it
three years free for clearing, at the end of which, the rents or
purchase money was paid. By that time, any person who had expended much
labour on land, would rather pay a reasonable price or rent for it, than
be removed.

In the progress of his intercourse with these very vulgar, insolent, and
truly disagreeable people, my father began to disrelish the thoughts of
going up to live among them. They flocked indeed so fast, to every
unoccupied spot, that their malignant and envious spirit, their hatred
of subordination, and their indifference to the mother country, began to
spread like a taint of infection.

These illiberal opinions, which produced manners equally illiberal, were
particularly wounding to disbanded officers, and to the real patriots,
who had consulted in former times the happiness of the country, by
giving their zealous co-operation to the troops sent to protect it.
These two classes of people began now to be branded as the slaves of
arbitrary power, and all tendencies to elegance or refinement were
despised as leading to aristocracy. The consequence of all this was,
such an opposition of opinions, as led people of the former description
to seek each other’s society exclusively. Winter was the only time that
distant friends met there, and to avoid the chagrin resulting from this
distempered state of society, veterans settled in the country were too
apt to devote themselves to shooting and fishing, taking refuge from
languor in these solitary amusements.

We had one brave and royal neighbour, however, who saw us often, and was
“every inch a gentleman;” this was Pedrom, aunt’s brother-in-law, in
whom lived the spirit of the Schuylers, and who was our next neighbour
and cordial friend. He was now old, detached from the world, and too
hard of hearing to be an easy companion; yet he had much various
information, and was endeared to us by similarity of principle.

Matters were beginning to be in this state the first winter I went to
live with aunt. Her friends were much dispersed; all conversation was
tainted with politics, Cromwellian politics too, which of all things,
she disliked. Her nephew, Courtlandt Schuyler, who had been a great
Nimrod ever since he could carry a gun, and who was a man of strict
honour and nice feelings, took such a melancholy view of things, and so
little relished that Stamp Act, which was the exclusive subject of all
conversation, that he devoted himself more and more to the chase, and
seemed entirely to renounce a society which he had never greatly loved.
As I shall not refer to him again, I shall only mention here, that this
estimable person was taken away from the evil to come two years after,
by a premature death, being killed by a fall from his horse in hunting.
What sorrows were hid from his eyes by this timely escape from scenes
which would have been to him peculiarly wounding!

If madame’s comforts in society were diminished, her domestic
satisfactions were not less so. By the time I came to live with her,
Mariamat and Dianamat were almost superannuated, and had lost, in a
great measure, the restraining power they used to exercise over their
respective offspring. Their woolly heads were snow white, and they were
become so feeble, that they sat each in her great chair, at the opposite
side of the fire; their wonted jealousy was now embittered to rancour,
and their love of tobacco greater than ever. They were arrived at that
happy period of ease and indolence, which left them at full liberty to
smoke and scold the whole day long; this they did with such unwearied
perseverance, and in a manner so ludicrous, that to us young people they
were a perpetual comedy.

Sorely now did aunt lament the promise she had kept so faithfully, never
to sell any of the Colonel’s negroes. There was so little to do for
fourteen persons, except the business they created for each other, and
it was so impossible to keep them from too freely sharing the plenty of
her liberal house, that idleness and abundance literally began to
corrupt them.

All these privations and uneasinesses will in some measure account for
such a person as madame taking such pleasure in the society of an
overgrown child. But then she was glad to escape from dark prospects and
cross politics, to the amusement derived from the innocent cheerfulness
natural to that time of life. A passion for reading, and a very
comprehensive memory too, had furnished my mind with more variety of
knowledge, than fell to the lot of those, who, living in large families,
and sharing the amusements of childhood, were not, like me, driven to
that only resource. All this will help to account for a degree of
confidence and favour daily increasing, which ended in my being admitted
to sleep in a little bed beside her, which never happened to any other.
In the winter nights, our conversation often encroached on the earlier
hours of morning. The future appeared to her dubious and cheerless,
which was one reason, I suppose, that her active mind turned solely on
retrospection. She saw that I listened with delighted attention to the
tales of other times, which no one could recount so well. These, too,
were doubly interesting, as, like the sociable angel’s conversation with
our first father, they related to the origin and formation of all I saw
around me; they afforded food for reflection, to which I was very early
addicted, and hourly increased my veneration for her whom I already
considered as my polar star. The great love I had for her first gave
interest to her details; and again, the nature of these details
increased my esteem for the narrator. Thus passed this winter of
felicity, which so much enlarged my stock of ideas, that in looking back
upon it, I thought I had lived three years in one.


                               CHAP. LV.

                          Return to the Flats.

SUMMER came, and with it visitors, as usual, to madame, from New-York
and other places; among whom, I remember, were her nieces, Mrs. L. and
Mrs. C. I went to the Flats, and was, as usual, kept very close to my
needle-work; but though there was no variety to amuse me, summer slid by
very fast. My mind was continually occupied with aunt, and all the
passages of her life. My greatest pleasure was to read over again the
books I had read to her, and recollect her observations upon them. I
often got up and went out to the door to look at places where particular
things had happened. She spent the winter’s nights in retrospections of
her past life; and I spent the summer days in retrospections of these
winter nights. But these were not my only pleasures. The banks of the
river and the opposite scenery delighted me; and, adopting all aunt’s
tastes and attachments, I made myself believe I was very fond of Pedrom
and Susannah Muet, as the widow of Jeremiah was called. My attention to
them excited their kindness; and the borrowed sentiment, on my part,
soon became a real one. These old friends were very amusing. But then I
had numberless young friends, who shared my attention, and were, in
their own way, very amusing too. These were the objects of my earliest
cares in the morning, and my needless solicitude all day. I had marked
down in a list between thirty and forty nests of various kinds of birds.
It was an extreme dry summer, and I saw the parent birds, whom I
diligently watched, often panting with heat, and, as I thought,
fatigued. After all I had heard and seen of aunt, I thought it incumbent
on me to be good and kind to some being that needed my assistance. To my
fellow-creatures, my power did not extend; therefore I wisely resolved
to adapt my mode of beneficence to the sphere of action assigned to me,
and decided upon the judicious scheme of assisting all these birds to
feed their young. My confederate Marian, (our negro girl,) entered
heartily into this plan; and it was the business of the morning, before
tasks commenced, to slaughter innumerable insects, and gather quantities
of cherries and other fruit for that purpose. Portions of this provision
we laid beside every nest, and then applauded ourselves for saving the
poor birds fatigue. This, from a pursuit, became a passion. Every spare
moment was devoted to it, and every hour made new discoveries of the
nature and habits of our winged friends, which we considered as amply
recompensing our labours.

The most eager student of natural philosophy could not be more attentive
to those objects, or more intent on making discoveries. One sad
discovery we made, that mortified us exceedingly. The mocking-bird is
very scarce and very shy in this northern district. A pair came,
however, to our inexpressible delight, and built a nest in a very high
tree in our garden. Never was joy like ours. At the imminent risk of our
necks, we made shift to ascend to this lofty dwelling during the absence
of the owners: birds we found none; but three eggs of a colour so
equivocal, that, deciding the point whether they were green or blue,
furnished matter of debate for the rest of the day. To see these
treasures was delightful, and to refrain from touching them impossible.
One of the young we resolved to appropriate, contrary to our general
humane procedure; and the next weighty affair to be discussed, was the
form and size of the cage, which was to contain this embryo warbler. The
parents, however, arrived. On examining the premises, by some mysterious
mode of their own, they discovered that their secret had been explored,
and that profane hands had touched the objects of all their tenderness.
Their plaintive cries we too well understood. That whole evening and all
the next day they were busied in the orchard; while their loud
lamentations, constantly reiterated, pierced us with remorse. We soon
saw the garden next forsaken; and a little further examination soon
convinced us that the violated eggs had been transported to another,
where, however, they were not hatched; the delicate instincts which
directed these creatures to form a new nest, and carry off their eggs,
on finding they had been handled, did not, at the same time inform them
that eggs carried away, and shaken by that motion, during the process of
incubation, cannot produce any thing.

The great barn, which I formerly described, afforded scope for our
observations of this nature; and here we remarked a phenomenon, that I
am still at a loss to account for. In the highest part of that spacious
and lofty roof, multitudes of swallows, of the martin species, made
their nests. These were constructed of mud or clay, as usual, and in the
ordinary course of things, lasted, with some repairs, from year to year.
This summer, however, being unusually hot and dry, the nests, in great
numbers, cracked and fell down on the floor, with the young ones in
them. We often found them in this situation, but always found the birds
in them alive and unhurt; and saw the old ones come to feed them on the
floor, which they did with such eager confidence, that they often
brushed so near as to touch us. Now we could no other way account for
the nests always coming down with the birds unhurt in them, but by
supposing that the swallows watched the fracture of the nests, and when
they saw them about to fall, came round the descending fabric, and kept
it in a kind of equilibrium. Of these birds we stood in such profound
awe, that we never profited by the accident which put them in our power;
we would not, indeed, for any consideration, have touched them,
especially after the sad adventure of the mocking-birds, which hung very
heavy upon our consciences. Autumn came, and aunt came at the appointed
day, the anniversary of his death, to visit the tomb of her beloved
consort. This ceremony always took place at that time. She concluded it
with a visit to us, and an earnest request for my returning with her,
and remaining the winter.


                               CHAP. LVI.

             Melancholy presages—Turbulence of the people.

THE conversations between my father and aunt assumed a melancholy cast.
Their hopes of a golden age in that country, (now that the flames of war
were entirely quenched,) grew weaker. The repeal of the stamp act,
occasioned excessive joy, but produced little gratitude. The youth of
the town, before that news arrived, had abandoned their wonted sports,
and began to amuse themselves with breaking the windows and destroying
the furniture of two or three different people, who had, in succession,
been suspected of being stamp-masters in embryo. My father grew fonder
than ever of fishing and shooting, because birds and fish did not talk
of tyranny or taxes. Sometimes we were refreshed by a visit from some of
aunt’s nephews, the sons of the mayor. They always left us in great good
humour, for they spoke respectfully of our dear king, and dearer
country. But this sunshine was transient; they were soon succeeded by
Obadiah or Zephaniah, from Hampshire or Connecticut, who came in without
knocking; sat down without invitation; and lighted their pipes without
ceremony; then talked of buying land; and finally, began a discourse on
politics, which would have done honour to Praise God Barebones, or any
of the members of his parliament. What is very singular is, that though
the plain spoken and manly natives of our settlement had a general
dislike to the character of these litigious and loquacious pretenders,
such are the inconsistencies into which people are led by party, that
they insensibly adopted many of their notions. With madame I was quite
free from this plague. None of that chosen race ever entered her door.
She valued time too much to devote it to a set of people whom she
considered as greatly wanting in sincerity. I speak now of the Hampshire
and Connecticut people. In towns and at sea-ports the old leaven had
given way to that liberality which was produced by a better education,
and an intercourse with strangers. Much as aunt’s loyal and patriotic
feelings were hurt by the new mode of talking which prevailed, her
benevolence was not cooled, nor her mode of living changed.

I continued to grow in favour with aunt this winter, for the best
possible reasons; I was the only one of the family that would sit still
with her. The young people in the house were by no means congenial with
her; and each had a love affair in hand, fast ripening into matrimony,
that took up all their thoughts. Mr. H. our chaplain, was plausible, but
superficial, vain, and ambitious. He, too, was busied in hatching a
project of another kind. On pretence of study, he soon retired to his
room after meals, dreading, no doubt, that aunt might be in possession
of Ithuriel’s spear, or to speak without a figure, might either fathom
his shallowness, or detect his project. One of these discoveries he knew
would sink him in her opinion, and the other exclude him from her house.
For my part, I was always puzzling myself to consider why I did not more
love and reverence Mr. H. who I took it for granted must needs be good,
wise, and learned; for I thought a clergyman was all but inspired. Thus
thinking, I wondered why I did not feel for Mr. H. what I felt for aunt
in some degree; but unfortunately, Mr. H. was a true bred native of
Connecticut, which, perhaps, helped more than any intuitive penetration
into character, to prevent any excess of veneration. Aunt and I read
Burnet’s memoirs and some biography this winter, and talked at least
over much geography and natural history. Here, indeed, I was in some
degree obliged to Mr. H. I mean for a few lessons on the globe. He had,
too, an edition of Shakspeare. I have been trying, but in vain, to
recollect what aunt said of this. Not much, certainly; but she was much
pleased with the Essay on Man, &c. Yet I somehow understood that
Shakspeare was an admired author, and was not a little mortified when I
found myself unable to appreciate his merits. I suppose my taste had
been vitiated by bombast tragedies I had read at Colonel E’s. I thought
them grossly familiar, and very inferior to Cato, whom aunt had taught
me to admire; in short, I was ignorant, and because I could read Milton,
did not know my own ignorance. I did not expect to meet nature in a
play, and therefore did not recognise her. It is not to be conceived how
I puzzled over Hamlet, or how his assumed madness and abuse of Ophelia
confounded me. Othello’s jealousy, and the manner in which he expressed
it, were quite beyond my comprehension.

I mention these things as a warning to other young people not to admire
by rote, but to wait the unfolding of their own taste, if they would
derive real pleasure from the works of genius. I rather imagine I was
afraid aunt would think I devoted too much time to what I then
considered as a trifling book. For I remember reading Hamlet the third
or fourth time, in a frosty night, by moonlight, in the back porch.
This, reiterated perusal was not in consequence of any great pleasure it
afforded me; but I was studiously labouring to discover the excellence I
thought it must needs contain, yet with more diligence than success.
Madame was at this time, I imagine, foreseeing a storm, and trying to
withdraw her mind as much as possible from earthly objects.

Forty years before this period, a sister of the deceased colonel had
married a very worthy man by the name of Wendell. He being a person of
an active, enterprising disposition, and possessing more portable wealth
than usually fell to the share of the natives there, was induced to join
some great commercial company near Boston, and settled there. He was
highly prosperous, and much beloved, and for a while cultivated a
constant commerce with the friends he left behind. When he died,
however, his wife, who was a meek, benevolent woman, without distrust,
and a stranger to business, was very ill treated. Her sons, who had been
married in the country, died. Their connexions secured the family
property for their children. In the primitive days of New-York, a
marriage settlement was an unheard-of thing. Far from her native home,
having outlived her friends, helpless and uncomplaining, this good
woman, who had lived all her days in the midst of deserved affluence and
affection, was now stripped by chicanery of all her rights, and sinking
into poverty without a friend or comforter. Aunt immediately upon
hearing this, set on foot a negotiation to get Mrs. Wendell’s affairs
regulated, so that she might have the means of living with comfort in a
country in which long residence had naturalized her; or that failing, to
bring her home to reside with herself. Perhaps in the whole course of
her life she had not experienced so much of the depravity of human
nature, as this inquiry unfolded to her. The negotiation, however,
cheered and busied her at a time when she greatly needed some exertion
of mind to check the current of thought produced by the rapid and
astonishing change of manners and sentiments around her. But in our
province there were two classes of people who absolutely seemed let
loose by the demon of discord, for the destruction of public peace and
private confidence. One of these was composed of lawyers, who multiplied
so fast that one would think they rose like mushrooms from the earth.
For many years one lawyer was sufficient for the whole settlement. But
the swarm of these, which had made so sudden and portentous an
appearance, had been encouraged to choose that profession, because a
wide field was open for future contention, merely from the candour and
simplicity of the last generation.

Not in the least distrusting each other, nor aware of the sudden rise of
the value of lands, these primitive colonists got large grants from
government, to encourage their efforts in the early stages of
cultivation; these lands being first purchased, for some petty
consideration, from the Indians, who alone knew the land-marks of that
illimitable forest.

The boundaries of such large grants, when afterwards confirmed by
government, were distinguished by the terms used by the Indians, who
pointed them out; and very extraordinary marks they were. For instance,
one that I recollect. “We exchange with our brother Cornelius
Rensselear, for so many strouds, guns, &c. the lands beginning at the
beaver creek, going on northward, to the great fallen plane tree, where
our tribe slept last summer; then eastward, to the three great cedars on
the hillock; then westward, strait to the wild duck swamp; and strait on
from the swamp to the turn in the beaver creek where the old dam was.”

Such are the boundaries, seriously described in this manner, in one of
the earliest patents. The only mode, then existing, of fixing these
vague limits was to mark large trees which grew at the corners of the
property, with the owner’s name deeply cut, along with the date of the
patent, &c. after blazing, that is to say, cutting deeply into the tree,
for a plain space to hold this inscription.

In this primitive manner were all the estates in the province bounded.
Towards the sea this did very well, as the patents in a manner, bounded
each other; and every one took care to prevent the encroachments of his
neighbour. But in the interior, people took great stretches of land here
and there, where there were not patented lands adjoining; there being no
continuity of fertile ground, except on the banks of streams. The only
security the public had against these trees being cut down, or others at
a greater distance marked in their stead, was a law which made such
attempts penal. This was a very nugatory threat; it being impossible to
prove such an offence. Crimes of this nature, encroaching on the
property of individuals, I believe, rarely happened; but to enlarge
one’s boundary, by taking in a little of king George’s ground, to use a
provincial phrase, was considered as no great harm; and, besides, many
possessed extensive tracts of land unquestioned, merely on the strength
of Indian grants, unsanctioned by government. One in particular, the
proudest man I ever knew, had a law-suit with the king, for more land
than would form a German principality. Now that the inundation of
litigious new settlers, from Massachusetts’ bounds, had awakened the
spirit of inquiry, to call it no worse, every day produced a fresh
law-suit, and all of the same nature, about ascertaining boundaries. In
one instance, where a gentleman was supposed to be unfairly possessed of
a vast tract of fine land, a confederacy of British officers, I must
confess, questioned his right; applying before hand for a grant of such
lands as they could prove the possessor entitled to; and contributing
among them a sum of money to carry on this great law-suit, which having
been given against them in the province, they appealed to the Board of
Trade and Plantations at home. Here the uncertainty of the law was very
glorious indeed; and hence, from the gainful prospect opening before
them, swarms of petulant, half-educated young men, started one knew not
whence. And as these great law-suits were matter of general concern, no
one knowing whose turn might be next, all conversation begun to be
infected with litigious cant; and every thing seemed unstable and


                              CHAP. LVII.

            Settlers of a new Description—Madame’s Chaplain.

ANOTHER class of people contributed their share to destroy the quiet and
order of the country. While the great army, that had now returned to
Britain, had been stationed in America, the money they spent there, had,
in a great measure centered in New-York, where many ephemeral
adventurers begun to flourish as merchants, who lived in a gay and even
profuse style, and affected the language and manners of the army on
which they depended. Elated with sudden prosperity, those people
attempted every thing that could increase their gains; and, finally, at
the commencement of the Spanish war, fitted out several privateers,
which, being sent to cruise near the mouth of the Gulf of Florida,
captured several valuable prizes. Money so easily got was as lightly
spent, and proved indeed ruinous to those who shared it; they being thus
led to indulge in expensive habits, which continued after the means that
supplied them were exhausted. At the departure of the army trade
languished among these new people; their British creditors grew
clamorous: the primitive inhabitants looked cold upon them; and nothing
remained for them but that self banishment, which, in that country, was
the usual consequence of extravagance and folly, a retreat to the woods.
Yet, even in these primeval shades, there was no repose for the vain and
the turbulent. It was truly amusing to see these cargoes of rusticated
fine ladies and gentlemen going to their new abodes, all lassitude and
chagrin; and very soon after, to hear of their attempts at finery,
consequence, and pre-eminence, in the late invaded residence of bears
and beavers. There, no pastoral tranquillity, no sylvan delights awaited
them. In this forced retreat to the woods they failed not to carry with
them those household gods which they had worshipped in town; the pious
Eneas was not more careful of his Penates, nor more desirous of
establishing them in his new residence. These are the persons of
desperate circumstances, expensive habits, and ambitious views; who,
like the “tempest-loving raven,” delight in changes, and anticipate,
with guilty joy, the overturn of states in which they have nothing to
lose, and have hopes of rising on the ruins of others. The lawyers, too,
foresaw that the harvest they were now reaping from the new mode of
inquiry into disputed titles, could not be of long duration. They did
not lay a regular plan for the subversion of the existing order of
things; but they infected the once plain and primitive conversation of
the people with law jargon which spread like a disease, and was the more
fatal to elegance, simplicity, and candour, as there were no rival
branches of science, the cultivation of which might have divided
people’s attention with this dry contentious theme.

The spirit of litigation, which narrowed and heated every mind, was a
great nuisance to madame, who took care not to be much troubled with it
in conversation, because she discountenanced it at her table, where,
indeed, no petulant upstarts were received. She was, however, persecuted
with daily references to her recollections with regard to the
traditionary opinions relative to boundaries, &c. While she sought
refuge in the peaceable precincts of the gospel, from the tumultuous
contests of the law which she always spoke of with dislike, she was
little aware that a deserter from her own camp was about to join the
enemy. Mr. H. our chaplain, became, about this time, very reserved and
absent; law and politics were no favourite topics in our household, and
these alone seemed much to interest our divine. Many thought aunt was
imposed on by this young man, and took him to be what he was not; but
this was by no means the case. She neither thought him a wit, a scholar,
or a saint; but merely a young man, who, to very good intentions and a
blameless life, added the advantages of a better education than fell to
the lot of laymen there; simplicity of manners, and some powers of
conversation, with a little dash of the coxcomb, rendered tolerable by
great good nature.

Vanity, however, was the rock on which our chaplain split: he found
himself, among the circle he frequented, the one-eyed king in the
kingdom of the blind; and thought it a pity such talents should be lost
in a profession where, in his view of the subject, bread and peace were
all that were to be expected. The first intelligence I heard was, that
Mr. H. on some pretence or other, often went to the neighbouring town of
Schenectady now rising into consequence, and there openly renounced his
profession, and took out a license as a practising lawyer. It is easy to
conjecture how madame must have considered this wanton renunciation of
the service of the altar for a more gainful pursuit, aggravated by
simulation at least; for this seeming open and artless character took
all the benefit of her hospitality, and continued to be her inmate the
whole time that he was secretly carrying on a plan he knew she would
reprobate. She, however, behaved with great dignity on the occasion;
supposing, no doubt, that the obligations she had conferred upon him,
deprived her of a right to reproach or reflect upon him. She was never
after heard to mention his name; and when others did, always shifted the

All these revolutions in manners and opinions helped to endear me to
aunt, as a pupil of her own school; while my tenacious memory enabled me
to entertain her with the wealth of others’ minds, rendered more amusing
by the simplicity of my childish comments. Had I been capable of
flattery, or rather, had I been so deficient in natural delicacy, as to
say what I really thought of this exalted character, the awe with which
I regarded her would have deterred me from such presumption; but as I
really loved and honoured her, as virtue personified, and found my chief
happiness in her society and conversation, she could not but be aware of
this silent adulation, and she became indeed more and more desirous of
having me with her. To my father, however, I was now become, in some
degree, necessary, from causes somewhat similar. He, too, was sick of
the reigning conversation; and being nervous and rather inclined to
melancholy, begun to see things in the darkest light, and made the most
of a rheumatism, in itself bad enough, to have a pretext for indulging
the chagrin that preyed upon his mind, and avoiding his Connecticut
persecutors, who attacked him every where but in bed. A fit of chagrin
was generally succeeded by a fit of home sickness, and that by a
paroxysm of devotion exalted to enthusiasm; during which all worldly
concerns were to give way to those of futurity. Thus melancholy and thus
devout I found my father; whose pure and upright spirit was corroded
with the tricks and chicanery he was forced to observe in his new
associates, with whom his singular probity and simplicity of character
rendered him very unfit to contend. My mother, active, cheerful, and
constantly occupied with her domestic affairs, sought pleasure no where,
and found content every where. I had begun to taste the luxury of
intellectual pleasures with a very keen relish. Winter, always severe,
but this year armed with tenfold vigour, checked my researches among
birds and plants, which constituted my summer delights; and poetry was
all that remained to me. While I was, “in some diviner mood,” exulting
in these scenes of inspiration, opened to me by the “humanizing muse,”
the terrible decree went forth, that I was to read no more “idle books
or plays.” This decree was merely the result of a momentary fit of
sickness and dejection, and never meant to be seriously enforced. It
produced, however, the effect of making me read so much divinity that I
fancied myself got quite “beyond the flaming bounds of space and time;”
and thought I could never relish light reading any more. In this solemn
mood, my greatest relaxation was a visit now and then to aunt’s
sister-in-law, now entirely bed-ridden, but still possessing great
powers of conversation, which were called forth by the flattering
attention of a child to one whom the world had forsaken. I loved,
indeed, play, strictly such, thoughtless, childish play, and next to
that, calm reflection and discussion. The world was too busy and too
artful for me. I found myself most at home with those who had not
entered, or those who had left it.

My father’s illness was much aggravated by the conflict which begun to
arise in his mind regarding his proposed removal to his lands, which
were already surrounded by a new population, consisting of these
fashionable emigrants from the gay world at New-York, whom I have been
describing, and a set of fierce republicans, if any thing sneaking and
drawling may be so called, whom litigious contention had banished from
their native province, and who seemed let loose, like Samson’s foxes, to
carry mischief and conflagration wherever they went. Among this motley
crew there was no regular place of worship, nor any likely prospect that
there should, for their religions had as many shades of difference as
the leaves in autumn; and every man of substance who arrived, was
preacher and magistrate to his own little colony. To hear their people
talk, one would think time had run back to the days of the levellers.
The settlers from New-York, however, struggled hard for superiority, but
they were not equal in chicane to their adversaries, whose power lay in
their cunning. It was particularly hard for people who acknowledged no
superior, who had a thorough knowledge of law and scripture, ready to
wrest to every selfish purpose, it was particularly hard, I say, for
such all-sufficient personages to hold their lands from such people as
my father and others, of “king George’s red coats,” as they elegantly
styled them. But they were fertile in expedients. From the original
establishment of these provinces, the Connecticut River had been
accounted the boundary, to the east, of the province of New-York,
dividing it from the adjoining one; this division was specified in old
patents, and confirmed by analogy. All at once, however, our new tenants
at will made a discovery, or rather had a revelation, purporting, that
there was a twenty mile line, as they called it, which, in old times,
had been carried thus far beyond the Connecticut River, into the bounds
of what had ever been esteemed the province of New-York. It had become
extremely fashionable to question the limits of individual property, but
for so bold a stroke at a whole province, people were not prepared. The
consequence of establishing this point was, that thus the grants made by
the province of New-York, of lands not their own, could not be valid;
and thus the property which had cost the owners so much to establish and
survey, reverted to the other province, and was no longer theirs. This
was so far beyond all imagination, that though there appeared not the
smallest likelihood of its succeeding, as the plea must, in the end, be
carried to Britain, people stood aghast, and saw no safety in living
among those who were capable of making such daring strides over all
established usage, and ready, on all occasions, to confederate where any
advantage was in view, though ever engaged in litigious contentions with
each other in their original home. This astonishing plea, during its
dependence, afforded these dangerous neighbours a pretext to continue
their usurped possession, till it should be decided to which province
the lands really belonged. They even carried their insolence so far,
that when a particular friend of my father’s, a worthy, upright man,
named Munro, who possessed a large tract of land adjoining to his; when
this good man, who had established a settlement, saw-mills, &c. came to
fix some tenants of his on his lands, a body of these incendiaries came
out, armed, to oppose them, trusting to their superior numbers and the
peaceable disposition of our friend. Now, the fatal twenty mile line ran
exactly through the middle of my father’s property. Had not the
revolution followed so soon, there was no doubt of this claim being
rejected in Britain; but in the mean time it served as a pretext for
daily encroachment and insolent bravadoes. Much of my father’s disorder
was owing to the great conflict in his mind. To give up every prospect
of consequence and affluence, and return to Britain, leaving his
property afloat among these ungovernable people, (to say no worse of
them,) was very hard. Yet to live among them, and by legal coercion,
force his due out of their hands, was no pleasing prospect. His good
angel, it would seem in the sequel, whispered to him to return. Though,
in human prudence, it appeared a fatal measure to leave so valuable a
property in such hands, he thought, first, that he would stay two or
three years; and then, when others had vanquished his antagonists, and
driven them off the lands, which they, in the mean time, were busily
clearing, he should return with a host of friends and kinsmen, and form
a chosen society of his own. He, however, waited to see what change for
the better another twelvemonth might produce. Madame, who was consulted
on all his plans, did not greatly relish this; he, at length, half
promised to leave me with her, till he should return from this

Returning for a short time to town in spring, I found aunt’s house much
enlivened by a very agreeable visitor; this was Miss W. daughter to the
Honourable Mr. W. of the council. Her elder sister was afterwards
Countess of Cassilis, and she herself was not long afterwards married to
the only native of the continent, I believe, who ever succeeded to the
title of baronet. She possessed much beauty, understanding, and
vivacity. Her playful humour exhilarated the whole household. I regarded
her with admiration and delight; and her fanciful excursions afforded
great amusement to aunt, and were like a gleam of sunshine amidst the
gloom occasioned by the spirit of contention which was let loose among
all manner of people.

The repeal of the stamp act having excited new hopes, my father found
all his expectations of comfort and prosperity renewed by this temporary
calm, and the proposed return to Britain was deferred for another year.
Aunt, to our great joy, as we scarce hoped she would again make so
distant a visit, came out to the Flats with her fair visitor, who was
about to return to New-York. This lady, after going through many of the
hardships to which persecuted loyalists were afterwards exposed, with
her husband, who lost an immense property in the service of Government,
is now with her family settled in upper Canada, where Sir J. J—n has
obtained a large grant of lands, as a partial retribution for his great
losses and faithful service.

Aunt again requested and again obtained permission for me to pass some
time with her; and golden dreams of felicity at Clarendon again began to
possess my imagination. I returned however, soon to the Flats, where my
presence became more important, as my father became less eager in
pursuit of field sports.


                              CHAP. LVIII.

           Mode of conveying timber in rafts down the river.

I BROUGHT out some volumes of Shakspeare with me, and remembering the
prohibition of reading plays promulgated the former winter, was much at
a loss how to proceed. I thought rightly that it was owing to a
temporary fit of spleen. But then I knew my father was, like all
military men, tenacious of his authority, and would possibly continue it
merely because he had once said so. I recollected that he said he would
have no plays brought to the house; and that I read them unchecked at
madame’s, who was my model in all things. It so happened that the river
had been higher than usual that spring, and in consequence, exhibited a
succession of very amusing scenes. The settlers, whose increase above
towards Stillwater, had been, for three years past, incredibly great,
set up saw-mills on every stream, for the purpose of turning to account
the fine timber which they cleared in great quantities off the new
lands. The planks they drew in sledges to the side of the great river;
and when the season arrived that swelled the stream to its greatest
height, a whole neighbourhood assembled, and made their joint stock into
a large raft, which was floated down the river with a man or two on it,
who with long poles were always ready to steer it clear of those islands
or shallows which might impede its course. There is something serenely
majestic in the easy progress of those large bodies on the full stream
of this copious river. Sometimes one sees a whole family transported on
this simple conveyance; the mother calmly spinning, the children
sporting about her, and the father fishing on one end, and watching its
safety at the same time. These rafts were taken down to Albany and put
on board vessels there for conveyance to New-York; sometimes, however,
it happened that, as they proceeded very slowly, dry weather came on by
the time they reached the Flats, and it became impossible to carry them
further; in that case they were deposited in great triangular piles
opposite our door. One of these, which was larger than ordinary, I
selected for a reading closet. There I safely lodged my Shakspeare; and
there in my play hours I went to read it undisturbed, with the advantage
of fresh air, a cool shade, and a full view of the road on one side, and
a beautiful river on the other. While I enjoyed undisturbed privacy, I
had the prohibition full in my mind, but thought I should keep to the
spirit of it by only reading the historical plays, comforting myself
that they were true. These I read over and over with pleasure ever new;
it was quite in my way, for I was familiarly acquainted with the English
history; now, indeed, I began to relish Shakspeare, and to be astonished
at my former blindness to his beauties. The contention of the rival
roses occupied all my thoughts, and broke my rest. “Wind-changing
Warwick” did not change oftener than I; but at length my compassion for
holy Henry, and hatred to Richard, fixed me a Lancastrian. I began to
wonder how any body could exist without reading Shakspeare, and at
length resolved, at all risks, to make my father a sharer in my
new-found felicity. Of the nature of taste I had not the least idea; so
far otherwise, that I was continually revolving benevolent plans to
distribute some of the poetry I most delighted in among the Bezaleels
and Habakkuks of the twenty mile line. I thought this would make them
happy as myself; and that when they once felt the charm of “musical
delight,” the harsh language of contention would cease, and legal
quibbling give way before the spirit of harmony. How often did I repeat
Thomson’s description of the golden age, concluding,

              “For music held the whole in perfect peace.”

At home, however, I was in some degree successful. My father did begin
to take some interest in the roses, and I was happy, yet kept both my
secret and my closet, and made more and more advances in the study of
these “wood notes wild.” As you like it, and the Midsummer Night’s Dream
enchanted me; and I thought the comfort of my closet so great, that I
dreaded nothing so much as a flood, that should occasion its being once
more set in motion. I was one day deeply engaged in compassionating
Othello, sitting on a plank, added on the outside of the pile, for
strengthening it, when happening to lift my eyes, I saw a long serpent
on the same board, at my elbow, in a threatening attitude, with its head
lifted up. Othello and I ran off together with all imaginable speed; and
as that particular kind of snake seldom approaches any person, unless
the abode of its young is invaded, I began to fear I had been studying
Shakspeare in a nest of serpents. Our faithful servant examined the
place at my request. Under the very board on which I sat, when terrified
by this unwished associate, was found a nest with seven eggs. After
being most thankful for my escape, the next thing was to admire the
patience and good humour of the mother of this family, who permitted
such a being as myself so long to share her haunt with impunity. Indeed,
the rural pleasures of this country were always liable to those
drawbacks; and this place was peculiarly infested with the familiar
garter-snake, because the ruins of the burnt house afforded shelter and
safety to these reptiles.


                               CHAP. LIX.

                         The Swamp—A discovery.

THIS adventure made me cautious of sitting out of doors, yet I daily
braved a danger of the same nature, in the woods behind the house, which
were my favourite haunts, and where I frequently saw snakes, yet was
never pursued or annoyed by them. In this wood, half a mile from the
house, was a swamp, which afforded a scene so totally unlike any thing
else, that a description of it may amuse those who have never seen
nature in that primitive state.

This swamp then, was in the midst of a pine wood, and was surrounded on
two sides by little hills, some of which were covered with cedar, and
others with the silver fir, very picturesque, and finely varied with
shrubs, and every gradation of green. The swamp sunk into a hollow, like
a large basin, exactly circular; round half of it, was a border of
maple, the other half was edged with poplar. No creature ever entered
this place in summer; its extreme softness kept it sacred from every
human foot, for no one could go without the risk of being swallowed up.
Different aquatic plants grew with great luxuriance in this quagmire,
particularly bullrushes, and several beautiful species of the Iris, and
the alder and willow; much of it, however, was open, and in different
places the water seemed to form stagnant pools; in many places large
trees had fallen of old, which were now covered with moss, and afforded
a home to numberless wild animals. In the midst of this aquatic retreat,
were two small islands of inconceivable beauty, that rose high above the
rest, like the oasis of the deserts, and were dry and safe, though
unapproachable. On one of these, I remember, grew three apple trees, an
occurrence not rare here; for if a squirrel, for instance, happens to
drop the seeds of an apple in a spot at once sheltered and fertile, at a
lucky season they grow and bear, though with less vigour and beauty than
those which are cultivated. That beautiful fruit, the wild plum, was
also abundant on these little sanctuaries, as they might be called, for,
conscious of impunity, every creature that flies the pursuit of man,
gamboled in safety here, and would allow one to gaze at them from the
brink of this natural fortress. One would think a congress of birds and
animals had assembled here; never was a spot more animated and cheerful.
There was nothing like it in the great forests; creatures here, aware of
their general enemy, man, had chosen it as their last retreat. The
black, the large silver grey, the little striped, and nimble flying
squirrel, were all at home here, and all visible in a thousand fantastic
attitudes. Pheasants and woodpeckers in countless numbers, displayed
their glowing plumage, and the songsters of the forest, equally
conscious of their immunity, made the marsh resound with their blended
music, while the fox, here a small auburn coloured creature, the martin,
and racoons occasionally appeared and vanished through the foliage.
Often, on pretence of bringing home the cows in the morning, (when in
their own leisurely way they were coming themselves,) I used to go,
accompanied by my faithful Marian, to admire this swamp, at once a
menagerie and aviary, and might truly say with Burns,

                  “My heart rejoic’d in nature’s joy.”

Not content, however, with the contemplation of animated nature, I began
to entertain a fancy, which almost grew into a passion, for explaining

                     “Every herb that sips the dew.”

The ordinary plants of that country differ very much from those most
frequent here; and this thirst for herbalizing, for I must dignify my
humble researches with the name of botanical ones,) was a pleasing
occupation. I made some progress in discovering the names and natures of
these plants, I mean their properties; but unfortunately they were only
Indian or Dutch names. This kind of knowledge, in that degree, is easily
acquired there, because every one possesses it in some measure. Nothing
surprised me so much, when I came to Britain, as to see young people so
incurious about nature.

The woods behind our dwelling had been thinned to procure firing, and
were more open and accessible than such places generally are. Walking
one fine summer’s evening, with my usual attendant, a little further
into the wood than usual, but far from any known inhabitant, I heard
peals of laughter, not joyous only, but triumphant, issue from the
bottom, as it seemed, of a large pine. Silence succeeded, and we looked
at each other with a mixture of fear and wonder, for it grew darkish. At
last we made a whispered agreement to glide nearer among the bushes, and
explore the source of all this merriment. Twilight, solemn every where,
is awful in these forests; our awe was presently increased by the
appearance of a light that glimmered and disappeared by turns. Loud
laughter was again reiterated, and at length a voice cried, “How pretty
he is!” while another answered in softer accents, “See how the dear
creature runs!” We crept on, cheered by these sounds, and saw a handsome
good natured looking man, in a ragged provincial uniform, sitting on the
stump of a tree. Opposite, on the ground, sat a pretty little brunette
woman, neatly, though meanly clad, with sparkling black eyes, and a
countenance all vivacity and delight. A very little, very fair boy, with
his mother’s brilliant black eyes contrasting his flaxen hair, and soft
infantine complexion, went with tottering steps, that showed this was
his first essay, from one to the other, and loud laughter gratulated his
safe arrival in the arms of either parent. We had now pretty clearly
ascertained the family, the next thing was to discover the house; this
point was more difficult to establish; at last, we found it was barely a
place to sleep in, partly excavated from the ground, and partly covered
with a slight roof of bark and branches: never was poverty so complete
or so cheerful. In that country, every white person had inferiors, and
therefore being merely white, claimed a degree of respect, and being
very rich, or very fine, entitled you to very little more. Simplicity
would be a charming thing, if one could strain it from grossness, but
that, I believe, is no easy operation. We now with much consideration
and civility, presented ourselves; I thought the cows would afford a
happy opening for conversation. “Don’t be afraid of noise, we are
driving our three cows home; have you any cows?” “Och no, my dare child,
not one, young miss,” said the soldier. “O, but then mamma will give
milk to the child, for we have plenty, and no child.” “O dear, pretty
miss, don’t mind that at all, at all.” “Come,” said the mistress of the
hovel, “we have got fine buttermilk here from Stephen’s; come in and
take a drink.” I civilly declined this invitation, being wholly intent
on the child, who appeared to me like a smiling love, and at once seized
on my affection. Patrick Coonie, for such was the name of our new
neighbour, gave us his history in a very few words. He had married Kate
in Pennsylvania, who, young as she looked, had three children, from ten
to fourteen, or thereabouts; he had some trade which had not thriven, he
listed in the provincials, spent what he had on his family, hired again,
served another campaign, came down pennyless, and here they had come for
a temporary shelter, to get work among their neighbours. The excavation
existed before, Patrick happily discovered it, and added the ingenious
roof which now covered it. I asked for their other children—they were in
some mean service. I was all anxiety for Patrick, so was not he; the
lilies of the field did not look gayer, or more thoughtless of
to-morrow, and Kate seemed equally unconcerned.

Hastily were the cows driven home that night, and to prevent reproaches
for delay, I flew to communicate my discovery; eager to say how ill off
we often were for an occasional hand to assist with our jobs, and how
well we could spare a certain neglected log-house on our premises, &c.
This was treated as very chimerical at first, but when Patrick’s family
had undergone a survey, and Kate’s accomplishments of spinning, &c. were
taken into consideration, to my unspeakable joy, the family were
accommodated as I wished, and their several talents made known to our
neighbours, who kept them in constant business. Kate spun and sung like
a lark; little Paddy was mostly with us, for I taught every one in the
house to be fond of him.

I was at the utmost loss for something to cherish and caress, when this
most amusing creature, who inherited all the gaiety and good temper of
his parents, came in my way, as the first of possible play-things.
Patrick was, of all beings, the most handy and obliging; he could do
every thing, but then he could drink too, and the extreme cheapness of
liquor was a great snare to poor creatures addicted to it. Patrick,
however, had long lucid intervals, and I had the joy of seeing them
comparatively happy. To this was added, that of seeing my father recover
his spirits, and renew his usual sports, and moreover, I was permitted
to return to aunt Schuyler’s. I did not fail to entertain her with the
history of my discovery, and its consequences, and my tale was not told
in vain. Aunt weighed and balanced all things in her mind, and drew some
good out of every thing.

White servants, whom very few people had, were very expensive here; but
there was a mode of meliorating things. Poor people, who came
adventurers from other countries, and found a settlement a slower
process than they were aware of, had got into a mode of apprenticing
their children. No risk attended this in Albany; custom is all-powerful;
and lenity to servants was so much the custom, that to ill-use a
defenceless creature in your power was reckoned infamous, and was,
indeed, unheard of. Aunt recommended the young Coonies, who were fine,
well looking children, for apprentices to some of the best families in
town, where they were well bred and well treated, and we all contributed
decent clothing for them to go home in. I deeply felt this obligation,
and little thought how soon I was to be deprived of all the happiness I
owed to the friendship of my dear benefactress. This accession occupied
and pleased me exceedingly; my attachment to the little boy grew hourly,
and I indulged it to a degree I certainly would not have done, if I had
not set him down for one of the future inhabitants of Clarendon; that
region of fancied felicity, where I was building log-houses in the air
perpetually, and filling them with an imaginary population, innocent and
intelligent beyond all comparison. These visions, however, were soon
destined to give way to sad realities. The greatest immediate
tribulation I was liable to, was Patrick’s coming home, now and then,
gay beyond his wonted gaiety; which grieved me both on Kate’s account
and that of little Paddy. But in the fertile plains of Clarendon,
remedies were to be found for every passing evil; and I had not the
least doubt of having influence enough to prevent the admission of
spirituous liquors into that “region of calm delights.” Such were the
dreams from which I was awakened, (on returning from a long visit to
aunt,) by my father’s avowing his fixed intention to return home.

A very worthy Argyleshire friend of his, in the mean time, came and paid
him a visit of a month, which month was occupied in the most endearing
recollections of Lochawside, and the hills of Morven. When I returned, I
heard of nothing but the alpine scenes of Scotland, of which I had not
the smallest recollection, but which I loved with borrowed enthusiasm;
so well, that they at times balanced with Clarendon. My next source of
comfort was, that I was to return to the land of light and freedom, and
mingle, as I flattered myself I should, with such as those whom I had
admired in their immortal works. Determined to be happy, with the
sanguine eagerness of youth, the very opposite materials served for
constructing another ideal fabric.


                               CHAP. LX.

             Mrs. Schuyler’s View of Continental Politics.

AUNT was extremely sorry when the final determination was announced. She
had now her good sister-in-law, Mrs. Wendell, with her, and seemed much
to enjoy the society of that meek pious woman, who was as happy as any
thing earthly could make her. As to public affairs their aspect did not
please her; and therefore she endeavoured, as far as possible, to
withdraw her attention from them. She was too well acquainted with the
complicated nature of human affairs, to give a rash judgment on the
political disputes then in agitation. She saw indeed reason for
apprehension whatever way she turned. She knew the prejudices and
self-opinion fast spreading through the country too well, to expect
quiet submission, and could see nothing on all hands but a choice of
evils. Were the provinces to set up for themselves, she thought they had
not cohesion nor subordination enough among them to form, or to submit
to any salutary plan of government. On the other hand she saw no good
effect likely to result from a reluctant dependence on a distant people,
whom they already began to hate, though hitherto nursed and protected by
them. She clearly foresaw that no mode of taxation could be invented to
which they would easily submit; and that the defence of the continent
from enemies, and keeping the necessary military force to protect the
weak and awe the turbulent, would be a perpetual drain of men and money
to Great Britain, still increasing with the increased population. In
short, she held all the specious plans that were talked over very cheap;
while her affection for Britain made her shudder at the most distant
idea of a separation; yet not as supposing such a step very hurtful to
this country, which would be thus freed of a very costly incumbrance.
But the dread of future anarchy, the horrors of civil war, and the
dereliction of principle which generally results from tumultuary
conflicts, were the spectres with which she was haunted.

Having now once for all given (to the best of my recollection) a
faithful sketch of aunt’s opinions on this intricate subject, I shall
not recur to them, nor by any means attempt to enter into any detail of
the dark days that were approaching. First, because I feel unspeakable
pain in looking back upon occurrences that I know too well, though I was
not there to witness: in which the friends of my early youth were
greatly involved, and had much indeed to endure, on both sides. Next,
because there is little satisfaction in narrating transactions where
there is no room to praise either side. That waste of personal courage
and British blood and treasure, which were squandered to no purpose on
one side in that ill-conducted war, and the insolence and cruelty which
tarnished the triumph of the other, form no pleasing subject of
retrospection; while the unsuccessful and often unrewarded loyalty of
the sufferers for government, cannot be recollected without the most
wounding regret. The years of madame, after I parted with her, were
involved in a cloud raised by the conflicts of contending arms, which I
vainly endeavoured to penetrate. My account of her must therefore, in a
great measure, terminate with this sad year. My father taking in spring
decided measures for leaving America, entrusted his lands to the care of
his friend John Munro, Esq. then residing near Clarendon, and chief
magistrate of that newly peopled district; a very worthy friend and
countryman of his own, who was then in high triumph on account of a
fancied conquest over the supporters of the twenty mile line; and
thought, when that point was fully established, there would be no
further obstruction to their realizing their property to great
advantage, or colonizing it from Scotland, if such should be their wish.
Aunt leaned hard to the latter expedient, but my father could not think
of leaving me behind to await the chance of his return; and I had been
talked into a wish for revisiting the land of my nativity.

I left my domestic favourites with great pain, but took care to
introduce them to aunt, and implored her, with all the pathos I was
mistress of, to take an interest in them when I was gone; which she very
good naturedly promised to do. Another very kind thing she did. Once a
year she spent a day or two at General Schuyler’s. I call him by his
latter acquired title, to distinguish him from the number of his
namesakes I have had occasion to mention. She now so timed her visit
(though in dreadful weather) that I might accompany her, and take my
last farewell of my young companions there: yet I could not bring myself
to think it a final one. The terrible words _no more_, never passed my
lips. I had too buoyant a spirit to encounter a voluntary heartache by
looking on the dark side of any thing, and always figured myself
returning, and joyfully received by the friends with whom I was parting.


                               CHAP. LXI.

      Description of the Breaking up of the Ice on Hudson’s river.

SOON after this I witnessed, for the last time, the sublime spectacle of
the ice breaking up on the river; an object that fills and elevates the
mind with ideas of power, and grandeur, and, indeed, magnificence;
before which all the triumphs of human art sink into insignificance.
This noble object of animated greatness, for such it seemed, I
witnessed; its approach being announced, like a loud and long peal of
thunder, the whole population of Albany were down at the river side in a
moment; and if it happened, as was often the case, in the morning, there
could not be a more grotesque assemblage. No one who had a night-cap on
waited to put it off; as for waiting for one’s cloak, or gloves, it was
a thing out of the question; you caught the thing next you, that could
wrap round you, and run. In the way you saw every door left open, and
pails, baskets, &c. without number, set down in the street. It was a
perfect saturnalia. People never dreamt of being obeyed by their slaves,
till the ice was past. The houses were left quite empty: the meanest
slave, the youngest child, all were to be found on the shore. Such as
could walk, ran; and they that could not, were carried by those whose
duty would have been to stay and attend them. When arrived at the show
place, unlike the audience collected to witness any spectacle of human
invention, the multitude, with their eyes all bent one way, stood
immoveable, and silent as death, till the tumult ceased, and the mighty
commotion was passed by; then every one tried to give vent to the vast
conceptions with which his mind had been distended. Every child, and
every negro, was sure to say, ‘Is not this like the day of judgment?’
and what they said every one else thought. Now to describe this is
impossible; but I mean to account in some degree for it. The ice, which
had been all winter very thick, instead of diminishing, as might be
expected in spring, still increased, as the sunshine came, and the days
lengthened. Much snow fell in February; which, melted by the heat of the
sun, was stagnant, for a day, on the surface of the ice; and then by the
night frosts, which were still severe, was added, as a new accession to
the thickness of it, above the former surface. This was so often
repeated, that in some years the ice gained two feet in thickness, after
the heat of the sun became such, as one would have expected should have
entirely dissolved it. So conscious were the natives of the safety this
accumulation of ice afforded, that the sledges continued to drive on the
ice, when the trees were budding and every thing looked like spring;
nay, when there was so much melted on the surface that the horses were
knee deep in water, while travelling on it; and portentous cracks, on
every side, announced the approaching rupture. This could scarce have
been produced by the mere influence of the sun, till midsummer. It was
the swelling of the waters under the ice, increased by rivulets,
enlarged by melted snows, that produced this catastrophe; for such the
awful concussion made it appear. The prelude to the general bursting of
this mighty mass was a fracture lengthwise, in the middle of the stream,
produced by the effort of the imprisoned waters, now increased too much
to be contained within their wonted bounds. Conceive a solid mass, from
six to eight feet thick, bursting for many miles in one continued
rupture, produced by a force inconceivably great, and, in a manner,
inexpressibly sudden. Thunder is no adequate image of this awful
explosion, which roused all the sleepers, within reach of the sound, as
completely as the final convulsion of nature, and the solemn peal of the
awakening trumpet might be supposed to do. The stream in summer was
confined by a pebbly strand, overhung with high and steep banks, crowned
with lofty trees, which were considered as a sacred barrier against the
encroachments of this annual visitation. Never dryads dwelt in more
security than those of the vine-clad elms, that extended their ample
branches over this mighty stream. Their tangled nets laid bare by the
impetuous torrents, formed caverns ever fresh and fragrant; where the
most delicate plants flourished, unvisited by scorching suns or nipping
blasts; and nothing could be more singular than the variety of plants
and birds that were sheltered in these intricate and safe recesses. But
when the bursting of the crystal surface set loose the many waters that
had rushed down, swollen with the annual tribute of dissolving snow, the
islands and low lands were all flooded in an instant; and the lofty
banks, from which you were wont to overlook the stream, were now
entirely filled by an impetuous torrent, bearing down, with incredible
and tumultuous rage, immense shoals of ice; which, breaking every
instant by the concussion of others, jammed together in some places, in
others erecting themselves in gigantic heights for an instant in the
air, and seeming to combat with their fellow-giants crowding on in all
directions, and falling together with an inconceivable crash, formed a
terrible moving picture, animated and various beyond conception; for it
was not only the cerulean ice, whose broken edges combatting with the
stream, refracted light into a thousand rainbows, that charmed your
attention; lofty pines, large pieces of the bank torn off by the ice
with all their early green and tender foliage, were driven on like
travelling islands, amid the battle of breakers, for such it seemed. I
am absurdly attempting to paint a scene, under which the powers of
language sink. Suffice it, that this year its solemnity was increased by
an unusual quantity of snow, which the last hard winter had accumulated,
and the dissolution of which now threatened an inundation.

Solemn, indeed, it was to me, as the memento of my approaching journey,
which was to take place whenever the ice broke, which is here a kind of
epoch. The parting with all that I loved at the Flats was such an
affliction, as it is even yet a renewal of sorrows to recollect. I loved
the very barn and the swamp I have described so much that I could not
see them for the last time without a pang. As for the island and the
bank of the river, I know not how I should have parted with them, if I
had thought the parting final. The good kind neighbours, and my faithful
and most affectionate Marian, to whom of all others, this separation was
most wounding, grieved me not a little. I was always sanguine in the
extreme, and would hope against hope; but Marian, who was older, and had
more common sense, knew too well how little likelihood there was of my
ever returning. Often with streaming eyes and bursting sobs, she begged
to know if the soul of a person dying in America could find its way over
the vast ocean to join that of those who rose to the abodes of future
bliss from Europe; her hope of a reunion being now entirely referred to
that in a better world. There was no truth I found it so difficult to
impress upon her mind as the possibility of spirits being
instantaneously transported from one distant place to another; a
doctrine which seemed to her very comfortable. Her agony at the final
parting I do not like to think of. When I used to obtain permission to
pass a little time in town, I was transported with the thoughts of the
enjoyments that awaited me in the society of my patroness, and the young
friends I most loved.


                              CHAP. LXII.

         Departure from Albany—Origin of the state of Vermont.

AFTER quitting the Flats we were to stay some days at madame’s, till we
should make a circular visit, and take leave. Having lulled my
disappointment with regard to Clarendon, and filled all my dreams with
images of Clydesdale and Tweedale, and every other vale or dale that
were the haunts of the pastoral muse in Scotland, I grew pretty well
reconciled to my approaching journey, thinking I should meet piety and
literature in every cottage, and poetry and music in every recess, among
the sublime scenery of my native mountains. At any rate, I was sure I
should hear the larks sing, and see the early primrose deck the woods,
and daisies enamel the meadows; on all which privileges I had been
taught to set the due value; yet I wondered very much how it was that I
could enjoy nothing with such gay visions opening before me: my heart, I
supposed, was honester than my imagination, for it refused to take
pleasure in any thing, which was a state of mind so new to me that I
could not understand it. Every where I was caressed, and none of these
caresses gave me pleasure; at length the sad day came that I was to take
the last farewell of my first best friend, who had often in vain urged
my parents to leave me till they should decide whether to stay or
return. About this they did not hesitate; nor, though they had, could I
have divested myself of the desire now waked in my mind, of seeing once
more my native land, which I merely loved upon trust, not having the
faintest recollection of it.

Madame embraced me tenderly with many tears, at parting; and I felt a
kind of prelusive anguish, as if I had anticipated the sorrows that
awaited: I do not mean now the painful vicissitudes of after life, but
merely the cruel disappointment that I felt in finding the scenery and
its inhabitants so different from the Elysian vales and Arcadian swains
that I had imagined.

When we came away, by an odd coincidence, aunt’s nephew Peter was just
about to be married to a very fine young creature, whom his relations
did not, for some reason that I do not remember, think suitable; while,
at the very same time, her niece, Miss W. had captivated the son of a
rich but avaricious man, who would not consent to his marrying her,
unless aunt gave a fortune with her; which being an unusual demand, she
did not choose to comply with. I was the proud and happy confidant of
both these lovers; and before we left New-York we heard that each had
married without waiting for the withheld consent. And thus for once
madame was left without a protégée, but still she had her sister W., and
soon acquired a new set of children, the orphan sons of her nephew,
Cortlandt Schuyler, who continued under her care for the remainder of
her life.

My voyage down the river, which was, by contrary winds, protracted to a
whole week, would have been very pleasant, could any thing have pleased
me. I was at least soothed by the extreme beauty of many scenes on the
banks of this fine stream, which I was fated never more to behold.

Nothing could exceed the soft grateful verdure that met the eye on every
side as we approached New-York. It was in the beginning of May; the
great orchards which rose on every slope were all in bloom, and the
woods of poplar beyond them, had their sprouting foliage tinged with a
lighter shade of the freshest green. Staten Island rose gradual from the
sea, in which it seemed to float, and was so covered with innumerable
fruit-trees in full blossom, that it looked like some enchanted forest.
I shall not attempt to describe a place so well known as New-York, but
merely content myself with saying that I was charmed with the air of
easy gaiety and social kindness that seemed to prevail every where among
the people, and the cheerful animated appearance of the place
altogether. Here I fed the painful longings of my mind, which already
began to turn impatiently towards madame, by conversing with young
people whom I had met at her house on their summer excursions. These
were most desirous to please and amuse me; and, though I knew little of
good breeding, I had good nature enough to try to seem pleased, but, in
fact, I enjoyed nothing, though I saw there was much to enjoy, had my
mind been tuned as usual to social delight. Fatigued with the kindness
of others, and my own simulation, I tried to forget my sorrows in sleep;
but night, that was wont to bring peace and silence in her train, had no
such companions here. The spirit of discord had broken loose. The
fermentation was begun that was not yet ended. And at midnight, bands of
intoxicated electors, who were then choosing a member for the assembly,
came thundering to the doors, demanding a vote for their favoured
candidate. An hour after, another party equally vociferous, and not more
sober, alarmed us, by insisting on our giving our votes for their
favourite competitor. This was mere play; but before we embarked, there
was a kind of prelusive skirmish, that strongly marked the spirit of the
times. These new patriots had taken it in their heads that Lieutenant
Governor Colden sent home intelligence of their proceedings, or in some
other way betrayed them, as they thought, to government. In one of these
fits of excess and fury, which are so often the result of popular
elections, they went to his house, drew out his coach, and set fire to
it. This was the night before we embarked, after a week’s stay in

My little story being no longer blended with the memoirs of my
benefactress, I shall not trouble the reader with the account of our
melancholy and perilous voyage. Here, too, with regret, I must close the
account of what I knew of aunt Schuyler; I heard very little of her till
the breaking out of that disastrous war which every one, whatever side
they may have taken at the time, must look back on with disgust and

To tell her history during the years that her life was prolonged to
witness scenes abhorrent to her feelings and her principles, would be a
painful task indeed; though I were better informed than I am, or wish to
be, of the transactions of those perturbed times. Of her private history
I only know, that, on the accidental death formerly mentioned, of her
nephew, Captain Cortlandt Schuyler, she took home his two eldest sons,
and kept them with her till her own death, which happened in 1778 or
1779. I know, too, that like the Roman Atticus, she kept free from the
violence and bigotry of party, and like him too, kindly and liberally
assisted those of each side, who, as the tide of success ran different
ways, were considered as unfortunate. On this subject I do not choose to
enlarge, but shall merely observe, that all the colonel’s relations were
on the republican side, while every one of her own nephews adhered to
the royal cause, to their very great loss and detriment; though some of
them have now found a home in Upper Canada, where, if they are alienated
from their native province, they have at least the consolation of
meeting many other deserving people, whom the fury of party had driven
there for refuge.[24]

Footnote 24:

  Since writing the above, the author of this narrative has heard many
  particulars of the latter years of her good friend, by which it
  appears, that to the last her loyalty and public spirit burned with a
  clear and steady flame. She was by that time too venerable as well as
  respectable, to be insulted for her principles; and her opinions were
  always delivered in a manner firm and calm, like her own mind, which
  was too well regulated to admit the rancour of party, and too
  dignified to stoop to disguise of any kind. She died full of years,
  and honoured by all who could or could not appreciate her worth; for
  not to esteem aunt Schuyler, was to forfeit all pretensions to

Though unwilling to obtrude upon my reader any further particulars
irrelevant to the main story I have endeavoured to detail, he may,
perhaps, be desirous to know how the township of Clarendon was at length
disposed of. My father’s friend, Captain Munro, was engaged for himself
and his military friends, in a litigation, or I should rather say, the
provinces of New-York and Connecticut continued to dispute the right to
the boundary within the twenty mile line, till a dispute still more
serious gave spirit to the new settlers from Connecticut to rise in
arms, and expel the unfortunate loyalists from that district, which was
bounded on one side by the Green Mountain, since distinguished, like
Rome in its infancy, as a place of refuge to all the lawless and
uncontrollable spirits who had banished themselves from general society.

It was a great mortification to speculative romance and vanity, for me
to consider that the very spot which I had been used fondly to
contemplate as the future abode of peace, innocence, and all the social
virtues, that this very spot should be singled out from all others as a
refuge for the vagabonds and banditti of the continent. They were,
however, distinguished by a kind of desperate bravery and unconquerable
obstinacy. They, at one time, set the States and the mother country
equally at defiance, and set up for an independence of their own; on
this occasion they were so troublesome, and the others so tame, that the
last mentioned were fain to purchase their nominal submission by a most
disgraceful concession. There was a kind of provision made for all the
British subjects who possessed property in the alienated provinces,
provided that they had not borne arms against the Americans; these were
permitted to sell their lands, though not for their full value, but at a
limited price. My father came precisely under this description; but the
Green Mountain boys, as the irregular inhabitants of the disputed
boundaries were then called, conscious that all the lands they had
forcibly usurped were liable to this kind of claim, set up the standard
of independence. They, indeed, positively refused to confederate with
the rest, or consent to the proposed peace, unless the robbery they had
committed should be sanctioned by a law, giving them a full right to
retain, unquestioned, this violent acquisition.

It is doubtful, of three parties, who were most to blame on this
occasion. The depredators, who, in defiance of even natural equity,
seized and erected this little petulant state. The mean concession of
the other provinces, who, after permitting this one to set their
authority at defiance, soothed them into submission by a gift of what
was not theirs to bestow; or the tame acquiescence of the then ministry,
in an arrangement which deprived faithful subjects, who were at the same
time war-worn veterans, of the reward assigned them for their services.

Proud of the resemblance which their origin bore to that of ancient
Rome, they latinized the common appellation of their territory, and made
wholesome laws for its regulation. Thus begun the petty state of
Vermont, and thus ends the _history of an heiress_.


                              CHAP. LXIII.

                          General reflections.

I HOPE my readers will share the satisfaction I feel, in contemplating,
at this distance, the growing prosperity of Albany, which is, I am told,
greatly increased in size and consequence, far superior, indeed, to any
inland town on the continent, and so important from its centrical
situation, that it has been proposed as the seat of congress, which,
should the party attached to Britain ever gain the ascendency over the
southern states, would, very probably, be the case. The morality, simple
manners, and consistent opinions of the inhabitants, still bearing
evident traces of that integrity and simplicity which once distinguished
them. The reflections which must result from the knowledge of these
circumstances are so obvious, that it is needless to point them out.

A reader that has patience to proceed thus far, in a narration too
careless and desultory for the grave, and too heavy and perplexed for
the gay; too minute for the busy, and too serious for the idle: such a
reader must have been led on by an interest in the virtues of the
leading characters, and will be sufficiently awake to their remaining

Very different, however, must be the reflections that arise from a more
general view of the present state of our ancient colonies.

             “O for that warning voice, which he who saw
              Th’ Apocalypse, heard cry, that a voice, like
              The deep and dreadful organ-pipe of heaven,”

would speak terror to those whose delight is in change and agitation; to
those who wantonly light up the torch of discord, which many waters will
not extinguish. Even when peace succeeds to the breathless fury of such
a contest, it comes too late to restore the virtues, the hopes, the
affections that have perished in it. The gangrene of the land is not
healed, and the prophets vainly cry, “peace! peace!” where there is no

However upright the intentions may be of the first leaders of popular
insurrections, it may be truly said of them, in the end, instruments of
cruelty are in their habitations; nay, must be, for when they have
proceeded a certain length, conciliation or lenity would be cruelty to
their followers, who are gone too far to return to the place from which
they set out. Rectitude, hitherto upheld by laws, by custom, and by
fear, now walks alone, in unaccustomed paths, and like a tottering
infant, falls at the first assault, or first obstacle it meets; but
falls to rise no more. Let any one who has mixed much with mankind, say
what would be the consequence if restraint were withdrawn, and impunity
offered to all those whose probity is not fixed on the basis of real
piety, or supported by singular fortitude, and that sound sense which,
discerning remote consequences, preserves integrity as armour of proof
against the worst that can happen.

True it is, that amidst these convulsions of the moral world, exigencies
bring out some characters that sweep across the gloom like meteors in a
tempestuous night, which would not have been distinguished in the
sunshine of prosperity. It is in the swell of the turbulent ocean that
the mightiest living handiworks of the author of nature are to be met
with. Great minds, no doubt, are called out by exigencies, and put forth
all their powers. Though Hercules slew the Hydra, and cleansed the
Augæan stable, all but poets and heroes must have regretted that any
such monsters existed. Seriously, beside the rancour, the treachery, and
the dereliction of every generous sentiment and upright motive, which
are the rank production of the blood-manured field of civil discord,
after the froth and feculence of its cauldron have boiled over, still
the deleterious dregs remain. Truth is the first victim to fear and
policy; when matters arrive at that crisis, every one finds a separate
interest; mutual confidence, which cannot outlive sincerity, dies next,
and all the kindred virtues drop in succession. It becomes a man’s
interest that his brothers and his father should join the opposite
party, that some may be applauded for steadiness or enriched by
confiscations. To such temptations the mind, fermenting with party
hatred, yields with less resistance than could be imagined by those who
have never witnessed such scenes of horror, darkened by duplicity. After
so deep a plunge in depravity, how difficult, how near to impossible is
a return to the paths of rectitude! This is but a single instance of the
manner in which moral feeling is undermined in both parties. But as our
nature, destined to suffer and to mourn, and to have the heart made
better by affliction, finds adversity a less dangerous trial than
prosperity, especially where it is great and sudden, in all civil
conflicts, the triumphant party may, with moral truth, be said to be the
greatest sufferers. Intoxicated as they often are with power and
affluence, purchased with the blood and tears of their friends and
countrymen, the hard task remains to them of chaining up and reducing to
submission the many-headed monster, whom they have been forced to let
loose and gorge with the spoils of the vanquished. Then, too, comes on
the difficulty of dividing power where no one has a right, and every one
a claim: of ruling those whom they have taught to despise authority; and
of reviving that sentiment of patriotism, and that love of glory, which
faction and self-interest have extinguished.

When the white and red roses were the symbols of faction in England, and
when the contest between Baliol and Bruce made way for invasion and
tyranny in Scotland, the destruction of armies and of cities, public
executions, plunder and confiscations, were the least evils that they
occasioned. The annihilation of public virtue and private confidence;
the exasperation of hereditary hatred; the corrupting the milk of human
kindness, and breaking asunder every sacred tie by which man and man are
held together: all these dreadful results of civil discord are the means
of visiting the sins of civil war on the third and fourth generation of
those who have kindled it. Yet the extinction of charity and kindness in
dissensions like these, is not to be compared to that which is the
consequence of an entire subversion of the accustomed form of
government. Attachment to a monarch or line of royalty, aims only at a
single object, and is at worst loyalty and fidelity misplaced: yet war
once begun on such a motive, loosens the bands of society, and opens to
the ambitious and the rapacious the way to power and plunder. Still,
however, the laws, the customs, and the frame of government stand where
they did. When the contest is decided, and the successful competitor
established, if the monarch possesses ability, and courts popularity,
he, or at any rate, his immediate successor, may rule happily, and
reconcile those who were the enemies, not of his place, but of his
person. The mighty image of sovereign power may change its “head of
gold” for one of silver; but still it stands firm on its basis,
supported by all those whom it protects: but when thrown from its
pedestal by an entire subversion of government, the wreck is far more
fatal and the traces indelible. Those who on each side support the heirs
claiming a disputed crown, mean equally to be faithful and loyal to
their rightful sovereign; and are thus, though in opposition to each
other, actuated by the same sentiment. But when the spirit of
extermination walks forth over prostrate thrones and altars, ages cannot
efface the traces of its progress. A contest for sovereignty is a
whirlwind, that rages fiercely while it continues, and deforms the face
of external nature. New houses, however, replace those it has
demolished; trees grow up in the place of those destroyed; the landscape
laughs, the birds sing, and every thing returns to its accustomed
course. But a total subversion of a long established government is like
an earthquake, that not only overturns the works of man, but changes the
wonted course and operation of the very elements; makes a gulf in the
midst of a fertile plain, casts a mountain into a lake, and in line,
produces such devastation as it is not in the power of man to remedy.
Indeed, it is too obvious that, even in our own country, that fire which
produced the destruction of the monarchy, still glows among the ashes of
extinguished factions; but that portion of the community who carried
with them across the Atlantic, the repugnance to submission, which grew
out of an indefinite love of liberty, might be compared to the Persian
Magi. Like them, when forced to fly from their native country, they
carried with them a portion of the hallowed fire, which continued to be
the object of their secret worship. Those who look upon the revolution,
of which this spirit was the prime mover, as tending to advance the
general happiness, no doubt consider these opinions as a rich
inheritance, productive of the best effects. Many wise and worthy
persons have thought and still continue to think so. There is as yet no
room for decision, the experiment not being completed. Their mode of
government, anomalous, and hitherto inefficient, has not yet acquired
the firmness of cohesion, or the decisive tone of authority.

The birth of this great empire is a phenomenon in the history of
mankind. There is nothing like it in reality or fable, but the birth of
Minerva, who proceeded full armed and full grown out of the head of the
thunderer. Population, arts, sciences, and laws, extension of territory,
and establishment of power, have been gradual and progressive in other
countries, where the current of dominion went on increasing as it
flowed, by conquests or other acquisitions, which it swallowed like
rivulets in its course; but here it burst forth like a torrent,
spreading itself at once into an expanse, vast as their own Superior
lake, before the eyes of the passing generation which witnessed its
birth. Yet it is wonderful how little talent or intellectual
pre-eminence of any kind has appeared in this new-born world, which
seems already old in worldly craft, and whose children are indeed “wiser
in their generation than the children of light.” Self-interest, eagerly
grasping at pecuniary advantages, seems to be the ruling principle of
this great continent.

Love of country, that amiable and noble sentiment, which by turns exalts
and softens the human mind, nourishes enthusiasm, and inspires alike the
hero and sage, to defend and adorn the sacred land of their nativity, is
a principle which hardly exists there. An American loves his country, or
prefers it rather, because its rivers are wide and deep, and abound in
fish; because he has the forests to retire to, if the god of gainful
commerce should prove unpropitious on the shore. He loves it because if
his negro is disrespectful or disobedient, he can sell him and buy
another; while if he himself is disobedient to the laws of his country,
or disrespectful to the magistracy appointed to enforce them, that
shadow of authority, without power to do good, or prevent evil, must
possess its soul in patience.

We love our country because we honour our ancestors; because it is
endeared to us not only by early habit, but by attachments to the spots
hallowed by their piety, their heroism, their genius, or their public
spirit. We honour it as the scene of noble deeds, the nurse of sages,
bards, and heroes. The very aspect and features of this blest asylum of
liberty, science, and religion, warm our hearts, and animate our
imaginations. Enthusiasm kindles at the thoughts of what we have been,
and what we are. It is the last retreat, the citadel, in which all that
is worth living for is concentrated. Among the other ties which were
broken, by the detachment of America from us, that fine ligament, which
binds us to the tombs of our ancestors, (and seems to convey to us the
spirit and the affections we derive from them) was dissolved: and with
it perished all generous emulation. Fame,

              “That spur which the clear mind doth raise
               To live laborious nights and painful days,”

has no votaries among the students of Poor Richard’s almanack, the great
_Pharos_ of the states. The land of their ancestors, party hostility has
taught them to regard with scorn and hatred. That in which they live
calls up no images of past glory or excellence. Neither hopeful nor
desirous of that after-existence, which has been most coveted by those
who do things worth recording, they not only live, but thrive; and that
is quite enough. A man no longer says of himself with exultation, “I
belong to the land where Milton sung the song of seraphims, and Newton
traced the paths of light; where Alfred established his throne in
wisdom, and where the palms and laurels of renown shade the tombs of the
mighty and the excellent.” Thus dissevered from recollections so dear,
and so ennobling, what ties are substituted in their places? Can he
regard with tender and reverential feelings, a land that has not only
been deprived of its best ornaments, but become a receptacle for the
outcasts of society from every nation in Europe? Is there a person whose
dubious or turbulent character has made him unwelcome or suspected in
society, he goes to America, where he knows no one, and is of no one
known; and where he can with safety assume any character. All that
tremble with the consciousness of undetected crimes, or smart from the
consequence of unchecked follies; fraudulent bankrupts, unsuccessful
adventurers, restless projectors, or seditious agitators, this great
Limbus Patrum has room for them all; and too it they fly in the day of
their calamity. With such a heterogeneous mixture a transplanted Briton
of the original stock, a true old American, may live in charity, but
never can assimilate. Who can, with the cordiality due to that sacred
appellation, “my country,” apply it to that land of Hivites and
Girgashites, where one cannot travel ten miles, in a stretch, without
meeting detachments of different nations, torn from their native soil
and first affections, and living aliens in a strange land, where no one
seems to form part of an attached connected whole.

To those enlarged minds, who have got far beyond the petty consideration
of country and kindred, to embrace the whole human race, a land, whose
population is like Joseph’s coat, of many colours, must be a peculiarly
suitable abode. For in the endless variety of the patchwork, of which
society is composed, a liberal philosophic mind might meet with the
specimens of all those tongues and nations which he comprehends in the
wide circle of his enlarged philanthropy.


                              CHAP. LXIV.

                         Reflections continued.

THAT some of the leaders of the hostile party in America acted upon
liberal and patriotic views, cannot be doubted. There were many, indeed,
of whom the public good was the leading principle; and to these the
cause was a noble one: yet even these little foresaw the result. Had
they known what a cold selfish character, what a dereliction of
religious principle, what furious factions, and wild unsettled notions
of government, were to be the consequence of this utter alienation from
the parent state, they would have shrunk back from the prospect. Those
fine minds who, nurtured in the love of science and of elegance, looked
back to the land of their forefathers for models of excellence, and
drank inspiration from the production of the British muse, could not but
feel this rupture as “a wrench from all we love, from all we are.” They,
too, might wish, when time had ripened their growing empire, to assert
that independence which, when mature in strength and knowledge, we claim
even of the parents we love and honour. But to snatch it, with a rude
and bloody grasp, outraged the feelings of those gentler children of the
common parent. Mildness of manners, refinement of mind, and all the
softer virtues that spring up in the cultivated paths of social life,
nurtured by generous affections, were undoubtedly to be found on the
side of the unhappy royalists; whatever superiority in vigour and
intrepidity might be claimed by their persecutors. Certainly, however
necessary the ruling powers might find it to carry their system of exile
into execution, it has occasioned to the country an irreparable

When the edict of Nantz gave the scattering blow to the protestants of
France, they carried with them their arts, their frugal regular habits,
and that portable mine of wealth which is the portion of patient
industry. The chasm produced in France, by the departure of so much
humble virtue, and so many useful arts, has never been filled.

What the loss of the Huguenots was to commerce and manufactures in
France, that of the loyalists was to religion, literature, and amenity,
in America. The silken threads were drawn out of the mixed web of
society, which has ever since been comparatively coarse and homely. The
dawning light of elegant science was quenched in universal dullness. No
ray has broke through the general gloom except the phosphoric lightnings
of her cold-blooded philosophers, the deistical Franklin, the legitimate
father of the American ‘age of calculation.’ So well have “the children
of his soul” profited by the frugal lessons of this apostle of Plutus,
that we see a new empire blest in its infancy with all the saving
virtues which are the usual portion of cautious and feeble age; and we
behold it with the same complacent surprise which fills our minds at the
sight of a young miser.

Forgive me, shade of the accomplished Hamilton[25], while all that is
lovely in virtue, all that is honourable in valour, and all that is
admirable in talent, conspire to lament the early setting of that
western star; and to deck the tomb of worth and genius with wreaths of
immortal bloom.

                     “Thee Columbia long shall weep;
                      Ne’er again thy likeness see?”

fain would I add,

                   “Long her strains in sorrows steep,
                    Strains of immortality.”—_Gray._

but alas!

               “They have no poet, and they die.”—_Pope._

His character was a bright exception; yet, after all, an exception that
only confirms the rule. What must be the state of that country where
worth, talent, and the disinterested exercise of every faculty of a
vigorous and exalted mind, were in vain devoted to the public good;
where, indeed, they only marked out their possessor for a victim to the
shrine of faction? Alas! that a compliance with the laws of false
honour, (the only blemish of a stainless life,) should be so dearly

Footnote 25:

  General Hamilton, killed in a duel, into which he was forced by Aaron
  Burr, Vice-President of Congress, at New-York, in 1806.

Yet the deep sense expressed by all parties of this general loss, seems
to promise a happier day at some future period, when this chaos of
jarring elements shall be reduced by some pervading and governing mind
into a settled form.

But much must be done, and suffered, before this change can take place.
There never can be much improvement till there are union and
subordination; till those strong local attachments are formed, which are
the basis of patriotism, and the bonds of social attachment. But, while
such a wide field is open to the spirit of adventure; and, while the
facility of removal encourages that restless and ungovernable spirit,
there is little hope of any material change. There is in America a
double principle of fermentation, which continues to impede the growth
of the arts and sciences, and of those gentler virtues of social life,
which were blasted by the breath of popular fury. On the sea-side there
was a perpetual importation of lawless and restless persons, who have no
other path to the notoriety they covet, but that which leads through
party violence; and of the want of that local attachment, I have been
speaking of, there can be no stronger proof, than the passion for
emigration so frequent in America.

Among those who are neither beloved in the vicinity of their place of
abode, nor kept stationary by any gainful pursuit, it is incredible how
light a matter will afford a pretext for a removal.

Here is one great motive, for good conduct and decorous manners,
obliterated. The good opinion of his neighbours is of little consequence
to him, who can scarce be said to have any. If a man keeps free of those
crimes which a regard for the public safety compels the magistrate to
punish, he finds shelter in every forest from the scorn and dislike
incurred by petty trespasses on society. There all who are unwilling to
submit to the restraints of law and religion, may live unchallenged, at
a distance from the public exercise of either. There all whom want has
made desperate, whether it be the want of abilities, of character, or
the means to live, are sure to take shelter. This habit of removing
furnishes, however, a palliation for some evils, for the facility with
which they change residence, becomes the means of ridding the community
of members too turbulent or too indolent to be quiet or useful. It is a
kind of voluntary exile, where those whom government want power and
efficiency to banish, very obligingly banish themselves; thus preventing
the explosion which might be occasioned by their continuing mingled in
the general mass.

It is owing to this salutary discharge of peccant humours that matters
go on so quietly as they do, under a government which is neither feared
nor loved, by the community it rules. These removals are incredibly
frequent; for the same family, flying as it were before the face of
legal authority and civilization, are often known to remove farther and
farther back into the woods, every fifth or sixth year, as the
population begins to draw nearer. By this secession from society, a
partial reformation is in some cases effected. A person incapable of
regular industry and compliance with its established customs, will
certainly do least harm, when forced to depend on his personal
exertions. When a man places himself in the situation of Robinson
Crusoe, with the difference of a wife and children for that solitary
hero’s cats and parrots, he must of necessity make exertions like his,
or perish. He becomes not a regular husbandman, but a hunter, with whom
agriculture is but a secondary consideration. His Indian corn, and
potatoes, which constitute the main part of his crop, are, in due time,
hoed by his wife and daughters; while the axe and the gun are the only
implements he willingly handles.

Fraud and avarice are the vices of society, and do not thrive in the
shade of the forest. The hunter, like the sailor, has little thought of
coveting or amassing. He does not forge, nor cheat, nor steal; as such
an unprincipled person must have done in the world, where, instead of
wild beasts, he must have preyed upon his fellows; and he does not drink
much, because liquor is not attainable. But he becomes coarse, savage,
and totally negligent of all the forms and decencies of life. He grows
wild and unsocial. To him a neighbour is an encroacher. He has learnt to
do without one; and he knows not how to yield to him in any point of
mutual accommodation. He cares neither to give nor take assistance, and
finds all the society he wants in his own family. Selfish from the
overindulged love of ease and liberty, he sees in a new comer merely an
abridgment of his range, and an interloper in that sport on which he
would much rather depend for subsistence than on the habits of regular
industry. What can more flatter an imagination warm with native
benevolence, and animated by romantic enthusiasm, than the image of
insulated self-dependant families, growing up in those primeval
retreats, remote from the corruptions of the world, and dwelling amidst
the prodigality of nature. Nothing, however, can be more anti-Arcadian.
There no crook is seen, no pipe is heard, no lamb bleats, for the best
possible reason, because there are no sheep. No pastoral strains awake
the sleeping echoes, doomed to sleep on till the bull-frog, the wolf,
and the Quackawarry[26] begin their nightly concert. Seriously, it is
not a place that can, in any instance, constitute happiness. When
listless indolence or lawless turbulence fly to shades the most
tranquil, or scenes the most beautiful, they degrade nature instead of
improving or enjoying her charms. Active diligence, a sense of our duty
to the source of all good, and kindly affections towards our
fellow-creatures, with a degree of self-command and mental improvement,
can alone produce the gentle manners that insure rural peace, or enable
us, with intelligence and gratitude, to “rejoice in nature’s joys.”

Footnote 26:

  Quackawarry is the Indian name of a bird, which flies about in the
  night, making a noise similar to the sound of its name.


                               CHAP. LXV.

               Sketch of the Settlement of Pennsylvania.

FAIN would I turn from this gloomy and uncertain prospect, so
disappointing to philanthropy, and so subversive of all the flattering
hopes and sanguine predictions of the poets and philosophers, who were
wont to look forward to a new Atalantis,

              “Famed for arts and laws derived from Jove,”

in this western world. But I cannot quit the fond retrospect of what
once was in one favoured spot, without indulging a distant hope of what
may emerge from this dark disordered state.

The melancholy Cowley, the ingenious bishop of Cloyne, and many others,
alike eminent for virtue and for genius, looked forward to this region
of liberty as a soil, where peace, science, and religion could have room
to take root and flourish unmolested. In those primeval solitudes,
enriched by the choicest bounties of nature, they might (as these
benevolent speculators thought) extend their shelter to tribes no longer
savage, rejoicing in the light of evangelic truth, and exalting science.
Little did these amiable projectors know how much is to be done before
the human mind, debased by habitual vice, and cramped by artificial
manners in the old world, can wash out its stains and resume its
simplicity in a new; nor did they know through how many gradual stages
of culture the untutored intellect of savage tribes must pass before
they become capable of comprehending those truths which to us habit has
rendered obvious, or which at any rate we have talked of so familiarly,
that we think we comprehend them. These projectors of felicity were not
so ignorant of human nature, as to expect change of place could produce
an instantaneous change of character; but they hoped to realize an
Utopia, where justice should be administered on the purest principles;
from which venality should be banished, and where mankind should,
through the paths of truth and uprightness, arrive at the highest
attainable happiness in a state not meant for perfection. They “talked
the style of gods,” making very little account of “chance and
sufferance.” Their speculations of the result remind me of what is
recorded in some ancient writer, of a project for building a magnificent
temple to Diana in some one of the Grecian states. A reward was offered
to him who should erect, at the public cost, with most taste and
ingenuity, a structure which should do honour both to the goddess and
her worshippers. Several candidates appeared. The first that spoke was a
self-satisfied young man, who, in a long florid harangue, described the
pillars, the porticoes, and the proportions of this intended building,
seeming all the while more intent on the display of his elocution, than
on the subject of his discourse. When he had finished, a plain elderly
man came from behind him, and leaning forwards, said in a deep hollow
voice, “All that he has said, I will do.”

William Penn was the man, born to give “a local habitation and a name,”
to all that had hitherto only floated in the day-dreams of poets and

To qualify him for the legislator of a new-born sect, with all the
innocence and all the helplessness of infancy, many circumstances
concurred, that could scarce ever be supposed to happen at once to the
same person. Born to fortune and distinction, with a mind powerful and
cultivated, he knew, experimentally, all the advantages to be derived
from wealth or knowledge, and could not be said ignorantly to despise
them. He had, in his early days, walked far enough into the paths of
folly and dissipation, to know human character in all its varieties, and
to say experimentally, all is vanity. With a vigorous mind, an ardent
imagination, and a heart glowing with the warmest benevolence, he
appears to have been driven, by a repulsive abhorrence of the abuse of
knowledge, of pleasure, and pre-eminence, which he had witnessed, into
the opposite extreme; into a sect, the very first principles of which,
clip the wings of fancy, extinguish ambition, and bring every struggle
for superiority, the result of uncommon powers of mind, down to the dead
level of tame equality; a sect that reminds one of the exclusion of
poets from Plato’s fancied republic, by stripping off all the
many-coloured garbs with which learning and imagination have invested
the forms of ideal excellence, and reducing them to a few simple
realities, arrayed as soberly as their votaries.

This sect, which brings mankind to a resemblance of Thomson’s

              “Who little pleasure know, and feel no pain,”

might be supposed the last to captivate, nay, to absorb, such a mind as
I have been describing. Yet so it was: even in the midst of all this
cold humility, dominion was to be found. That rule, which of all others,
is most gratifying to a mind conscious of its own power, and directing
it to the purposes of benevolence, the voluntary subjection of mind, the
homage which a sect pays to its leader, is justly accounted the most
gratifying species of power; and to this lurking ambition, every thing
is rendered subservient by those who have once known this native and
inherent superiority. This man, who had wasted his inheritance,
alienated his relations, and estranged his friends; who had forsaken the
religion of his ancestors, and in a great measure, the customs of his
country; whom some charged with folly, and others with madness, was,
nevertheless, destined to plan with consummate wisdom, and execute with
indefatigable activity and immovable firmness, a scheme of government,
such as has been the wish, at least, of every enlarged and benevolent
mind, (from Plato downwards,) which has indulged speculations of the
kind. The glory of realizing, in some degree, all these fair visions,
was, however, reserved for William Penn alone.

Imagination delights to dwell on the tranquil abodes of plenty, content,
and equanimity, that so quickly rose like an exhalation in the domains
of this pacific legislator. That he should expect to protect the quiet
abodes of his peaceful and industrious followers, merely with a fence of
olive, (as one may call his gentle institutions,) is wonderful; and the
more so, when we consider him to have lived in the world, and known too
well, by his own experience, of what discordant elements it is composed.
A mind so powerful and comprehensive as his, could not but know, that
the wealth which quiet and blameless industry insensibly accumulates,
proves merely a lure to attract the armed spoiler to the defenceless
dwellings of those, who do not think it a duty to protect themselves.

               “But when divine ambition swell’d his mind,
                Ambition truly great, of virtuous deeds,”

he could no otherwise execute his plan of utility, than by the agency of
a people who were bound together by a principle, at once adhesive and
exclusive, and who were too calm and self-subdued, too benignant and
just, to create enemies to themselves among their neighbours. There
could be no motive but the thirst of rapine, for disturbing a community
so inoffensive; and the founder, no doubt, flattered himself that the
parent country would not fail to extend to them that protection, which
their useful lives and helpless state both needed and deserved.

Never, surely, were institutions better calculated for nursing the
infancy of a sylvan colony, from which the noisy pleasures, and more
bustling varieties of life were necessarily excluded. The serene and
dispassionate state, to which it seems was the chief aim of this sect to
bring the human mind, is precisely what is requisite to reconcile it to
the privations that must be encountered, during the early stages of the
progression of society, which necessarily excluded from the pleasures of
refinement, should be guarded from its pains.

Where nations, in the course of time, become civilized, the process is
so gradual from one race to another, that no violent effort is required
to break through settled habits, and acquire new tastes and
inclinations, fitted to what might be almost styled a new mode of
existence. But when colonies are first settled in a country so entirely
primitive as that to which William Penn led his followers, there is a
kind of retrograde movement of the mind, requisite to reconcile people
to the new duties and new views that open to them, and to make the total
privation of wonted objects, modes, and amusements, tolerable.

Perfect simplicity of taste and manners, and entire indifference to much
of what the world calls pleasure, were necessary to make life tolerable
to the first settlers in a trackless wilderness. These habits of
thinking and living, so difficult to acquire, and so painful when forced
upon the mind by inevitable necessity, the quakers brought with them,
and left, without regret, a world from which they were already excluded
by that austere simplicity which peculiarly fitted them for their new
situation. A kindred simplicity, and a similar ignorance of artificial
refinements and high seasoned pleasures, produced the same effect in
qualifying the first settlers at Albany to support the privations, and
endure the inconveniences of their novitiate in the forests of the new
world. But to return to William Penn: the fair fabric he had erected,
though it speedily fulfilled the utmost promise of hope, contained
within itself the principle of dissolution, and from the very nature of
the beings which composed it, must have decayed, though the
revolutionary shock had not so soon shaken its foundations. Sobriety and
prudence lead naturally to wealth, and wealth to authority, which soon
strikes at the root of the short lived principle of equality. A single
instance may occur here and there, but who can ever suppose nature
running so contrary to her bias, that all the opulent members of a
community should acquire or inherit wealth for the mere purpose of
giving it away? Where there are no elegant arts to be encouraged, no
elegant pleasures to be procured, where ingenuity is not to be rewarded,
or talent admired or exercised; what is wealth but a cumbrous load,
sinking the owner deeper and deeper into grossness and dulness, having
no incitement to exercise the only faculties permitted him to use, and
few objects to relieve in a community from which vice and poverty are
equally excluded by their industry, and their wholesome rule of
expulsion. We all know that there is not in society a more useless and
disgusting character than what is formed by the possession of great
wealth, without elegance or refinement; without, indeed, that liberality
which can only result from a certain degree of cultivation. What then
would a community be, entirely formed of such persons, or supposing such
a community to exist, how long would they adhere to the simple manners
of their founder, with such a source of corruption mingled with their
very existence? Detachment from pleasure and from vanity, frugal and
simple habits, and an habitual close adherence to some particular trade
or employment, are circumstances that have a sure tendency to enrich the
individuals who practise them. This, in the end, is “to give humility a
coach and six,” that is, to destroy the very principle of adhesion which
binds and continues the sect.

Highly estimable as a sect, these people were respectable and amiable in
their collective capacity as a colony. But then it was an institution so
constructed, that, without a miracle, its virtues must have expired with
its minority. I do not here speak of the necessity of its being governed
and protected by those of different opinions, but merely of wealth
stagnating without its proper application. Of this humane community it
is but just to say, that they were the only Europeans in the new world
who always treated the Indians with probity like their own, and with
kindness calculated to do honour to the faith they professed. I speak of
them now in their collective capacity. They, too, are the only people
that, in a temperate, judicious, (and, I trust, successful) manner, have
endeavoured and still endeavour to convert the Indians to Christianity;
for them, too, was reserved the honourable distinction of being the only
body who sacrificed interest to humanity, by voluntarily giving freedom
to those slaves whom they held in easy bondage. That a government so
constituted could not, in the nature of things, long exist, is to be
regretted; that it produced so much good to others, and so much comfort
and prosperity to its subjects while it did exist, is an honourable
testimony of the worth and wisdom of its benevolent founder.


                              CHAP. LXVI.

   Prospects brightening in British America—Desirable country on the
                               lakes, &c.

HOWEVER discouraging the prospect of society on this great continent may
at present appear, there is every reason to hope that time, and the
ordinary course of events, may bring about a desirable change; but in
the present state of things, no government seems less calculated to
promote the happiness of its subjects, or to ensure permanence to
itself, than that feeble and unstable system which is only calculated
for a community comprising more virtue and more union than such a
heterogeneous mixture can be supposed to have attained. States, like
individuals, purchase wisdom by suffering, and they have probably much
to endure before they assume a fixed and determinate form.

Without partiality it may be safely averred, that notwithstanding the
severity of the climate, and other unfavourable circumstances, the
provinces of British America are the abode of more present safety and
happiness, and contain situations more favourable to future
establishments, than any within the limits of the United States.

To state all the grounds upon which this opinion is founded, might lead
me into discussions, narratives, and description, which might swell into
a volume, more interesting than the preceding one. But being at present
neither able nor inclined to do justice to the subject, I shall only
briefly observe first, with regard to the government, it is one to which
the governed are fondly attached, and which like religion, becomes
endeared to its votaries, by the sufferings they have endured for their
adherence to it. It is consonant to their earliest prejudices, and
sanctioned by hereditary attachment. The climate is, indeed, severe, but
it is steady and regular; the skies in the interior are clear, the air
is pure. The summer, with all the heat of warm climates to cherish the
productions of the earth, is not subject to the drought that in such
climates scorches and destroys them. Abundant woods afford shelter and
fuel, to mitigate the severity of winter; and streams rapid and copious,
flow in all directions to refresh the plants and cool the air, during
their short but ardent summer.

The country, barren at the sea side, does not afford an inducement for
those extensive settlements which have a tendency to become merely
commercial from their situation. It becomes more fertile as it recedes
further from the sea; thus holding out an inducement to pursue nature
into her favourite retreats, where on the banks of mighty waters,
calculated to promote all the purposes of social traffic among the
inhabitants, the richest soil, the happiest climate, and the most
complete detachment from the world, promise a safe asylum to those who
carry the arts and the literature of Europe, hereafter to grace and
enlighten scenes where agriculture has already made rapid advances.

In the dawning light which already begins to rise in these remote
abodes, much may be discovered of what promises a brighter day.
Excepting the remnant of the old Canadians, who are a very inoffensive
people, patient and cheerful, attached to monarchy, and much assimilated
to our modes of thinking and living, these provinces are peopled, for
the most part, with inhabitants possessed of true British hearts and
principles. Veterans who have shed their blood, and spent their best
days in the service of the parent country, and royalists who have fled
here for a refuge, after devoting their property to the support of their
honour and loyalty; who adhere together, and form a society graced by
that knowledge and those manners which rendered them respectable in
their original state, with all the experience gained from adversity; and
that elevation of sentiment which results from the consciousness of
having suffered in a good cause. Here, too, are clusters of emigrants
who have fled, unacquainted with the refinements, and uncontaminated by
the old world, to seek for that bread and peace, which the progress of
luxury and the change of manners denied them at home. Here they come in
kindly confederation, resolved to cherish in those kindred groups, which
have left with social sorrow their native mountains, the customs and
traditions, the language and the love of their ancestors, and to find
comfort in that religion which has ever been their support and their
shield, for all that they have left behind.[27]

Footnote 27:

  It is needless to enlarge on a subject, to which Lord Selkirk has done
  such ample justice, who wanted nothing but a little experience and a
  little aid, to make the best practical comments on his own judicious,

It is by tribes of individuals intimately connected with each other by
some common tie, that a country is most advantageously settled, to which
the obvious superiority in point of principle and union that
distinguishes British America from the United States, is chiefly owing.
Our provinces afford no room for wild speculations, either of the
commercial or political kind; regular, moderate trade, promising little
beyond a comfortable subsistence, and agriculture, requiring much
industry and settled habits, are the only paths open to adventurers; and
the chief inducement to emigration is the possibility of an attached
society of friends and kindred, finding room to dwell together, and
meeting, in the depth of these fertile wilds, with similar associations.
Hence, solitary and desperate adventurers, the vain, the turbulent, and
the ambitious, shun these regulated abodes of quiet industry, for scenes
more adapted to their genius.

I shall now conclude my recollections, which circumstances have often
rendered very painful; but will not take upon me to enlarge on those
hopes that stretch a dubious wing into temporal futurity, in search of a
brighter day, and a better order of things. Content if I have preserved
some records of a valuable life; thrown some glimmering light upon the
progress of society in that peculiar state, which it was my fate to
witness and to share, and afforded some hours of harmless amusement to
those lovers of nature and of truth, who can patiently trace their
progress through a tale devoid alike of regular arrangement, surprising
variety, and artificial embellishment.

                                THE END.


 ● Transcriber’s Notes:
    ○ There were two CHAP. XXIX. The second was changed to CHAP. XXXI.
    ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was silently corrected.
    ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.
    ○ Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation were made consistent only
      when a predominant form was found in this book.
    ○ Text that was in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Memoirs of an American Lady - With Sketches of Manners and Scenery in America, as They - Existed Previous to the Revolution" ***

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