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The Crater by James Fenimore Cooper

Part 8 out of 9

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extremity of the island, and they came much closer to the cliffs than
they otherwise would, in order to do so. While endeavouring to ascertain
the country of the ship, by examining her people, the governor fancied
he saw some natives on board her. At first, he supposed there might be
Kannakas, or Mowrees, among the crew; but, a better look assured him
that the Indians present were not acting in the character of sailors at
all. They appeared to be chiefs, and chiefs in their war-dresses. This
fact induced a still closer examination, until the governor believed
that he could trace the person of Waally among them. The distance itself
was not such as to render it difficult to recognize a form, or a face,
when assisted by the glass; but the inverted position of all on board
the ship did make a view less certain than might otherwise have been the
case. Still the governor grew, at each instant, more and more assured
that Waally was there, as indeed he believed his son to be, also. By
this time, one of the men who knew the chief had come up to the Peak,
with a message from Heaton, and he was of the same opinion as the
governor, after taking a good look through the best glass. Bridget, too,
had seen the formidable Waally, and _she_ gave it as her opinion that he
was certainly on board the ship. This was considered as a most important
discovery. If Waally were there, it was for no purpose that was friendly
to the colonists. The grudge he owed the last, was enduring and deadly.
Nothing but the strong arm of power could suppress its outbreakings, or
had kept him in subjection, for the last five years. Of late, the
intercourse between the two groups had not been great; and it was now
several months since any craft had been across to Ooroony's islands,
from the Reef. There had been sufficient time, consequently, for great
events to have been planned and executed, and, yet, that the colonists
should know nothing of them.

But, it was impossible to penetrate further into this singular mystery,
so long as the strangers kept off the land. This they did of course, the
three vessels passing to windward of the Peak, in a line ahead, going to
the southward, and standing along the cliffs, on an easy bowline. The
governor now sent a whale-boat out of the cove, under her sails, with
orders to stand directly across to the Reef, carrying the tidings, and
bearing a letter of instructions to Pennock and such members of the
council as might be present. The letter was short, but it rather assumed
the probability of hostilities, while it admitted that there was a doubt
of the issue. A good look-out was to be kept, at all events, and the
forces of the colony were to be assembled. The governor promised to
cross himself, as soon as the strangers quitted the neighbourhood of the

In the mean time, Heaton mounted a horse, and kept company with the
squadron as it circled the island. From time to time, he sent messages
to the governor, in order to let him know the movements of the
strangers. While this was going on, the men were all called in from
their several occupations, and the prescribed arrangements were made for
defence. As a circuit of the island required several hours, there was
time for everything; and the whale-boat was fairly out of sight from
even the Peak, when Heaton despatched a messenger to say that the
squadron had reached the southern extremity of the island, and was
standing off south-east, evidently steering towards the volcano.

Doubts now began to be felt whether the colonists would see anything
more of the strangers. It was natural that navigators should examine
unknown islands, cursorily at least; but it did not follow that, if
trade was their object, they should delay their voyage in order to push
their investigations beyond a very moderate limit. Had it not been for
the undoubted presence of savages in the ship, and the strong
probability that Waally was one of them, the governor would now have had
hopes that he had seen the last of his visitors. Nevertheless, there was
the chance that these vessels would run down to Rancocus Island, where
not only might a landing be easily effected, but where the mills, the
brick-yards, and indeed the principal cluster of houses, were all
plainly to be seen from the offing. No sooner was it certain, therefore,
that the strangers had stood away to the southward and eastward, than
another boat was sent across to let the millers, brickmakers,
stone-quarriers, and lumbermen know that they might receive guests who
would require much discretion in their reception.

The great policy of secrecy was obviously in serious danger of being
defeated. How the existence of the colony was to be concealed, should
the vessels remain any time in the group, it was not easy to see; and
that advantage the governor and Heaton, both of whom attached the
highest importance to it, were now nearly ready to abandon in despair.
Still, neither thought of yielding even this policy until the last
moment, and circumstances rendered it indispensable; for so much
reflection had been bestowed on that, as well as on every other
interest of the colony, that it was not easy to unsettle any part of
their plans--in the opinion of its rulers, at least.

A sharp look-out for the squadron was kept, not only from the Peak, but
from the southern end of the cliffs, all that day. The vessels were seen
until they were quite near to the volcano, when their sudden
disappearance was ascribed to the circumstance of their shortening sail.
Perhaps they anchored. This could only be conjecture, however, as no
boat could be trusted out to watch them, near by. Although there was no
anchorage near the Peak, it was possible for a vessel to anchor anywhere
in the vicinity of the volcano. The island of Vulcan's Peak appears to
have been projected upwards, out of the depths of the ocean, in one
solid, perpendicular wall, leaving no shallow water near it; but, as
respects the other islands, the coast shoaled gradually in most places;
though the eastern edge of the group was an exception to the rule.
Still, vessels could anchor in any or all the coves and roadsteads of
the group; and _there_ the holding ground was unusually good, being
commonly mud and sand, and these without rocks.

The remainder of the day, and the whole of the succeeding night, were
passed with much anxiety, by the governor and his friends. Time was
given to receive an answer to the messages sent across to the Reef, but
nothing was seen of the strangers, when day returned. The boat that came
in from the Reef, reported that the coast was clear to the northward. It
also brought a letter, stating that notices had been sent to all the
different settlements, and that the Anne had sailed to windward, to call
in all the fishermen, and to go off to the nearest whaling-ground, in
order to communicate the state of things in the colony to Captain Betts
and his companions, who were out. The Dragon and the Jonas, when last
heard from, were cruising only about a hundred miles to windward of the
group, and it was thought important, on various accounts, that they
should be at once apprised of the arrival of the strangers.

The governor was perfectly satisfied with the report of what had been
done, and this so much the more because it superseded the necessity of
his quitting the Peak, just at the moment. The elevation of the mountain
was of so much use as a look-out, that it was every way desirable to
profit by it, until the time for observing was passed, and that for
action had succeeded, in its stead. Of course, some trusty person was
kept constantly on the Peak, looking out for the strangers, though the
day passed without one of them being seen. Early next morning, however,
a whale-boat arrived from Rancocus, with four stout oarsmen in it. They
had left the station, after dark, and had been pulling up against the
trades most of the intervening time. The news they brought was not only
alarming, but it occasioned a great deal of surprise.

It seemed that the three strange vessels appeared off the point, at
Rancocus Island, early on the morning of the preceding day. It was
supposed that they had run across from the volcano in the darkness,
after having been lost sight of from the Peak. Much prudence was
observed by the colonists, as soon as light let them into the secret of
their having such unknown neighbours. Bigelow happening to be there, and
being now a man of a good deal of consideration with his
fellow-citizens, he assumed the direction of matters. All the women and
children ascended into the mountains, where secret places had long been
provided for such an emergency, by clearing out and rendering two or
three caves habitable, and where food and water were at hand. Thither
most of the light articles of value were also transported. Luckily,
Bigelow had caused all the saws at the mill, to be taken down and
secreted. A saw was an article not to be replaced, short of a voyage to
Europe, even; for in that day saws were not manufactured in America;
nor, indeed, was scarcely anything else.

When he had given his directions, Bigelow went alone to the point, to
meet the strangers, who had anchored their vessels, and had landed in
considerable force. On approaching the place, he found about a hundred
men ashore, all well armed, and seemingly governed by a sort of military
authority. On presenting himself before this party, Bigelow was seized,
and taken to its leader, who was a sea-faring man, by his appearance, of
a fierce aspect and most severe disposition. This man could speak no
English. Bigelow tried him in Spanish, but could get no answer out of
him in that tongue either; though he suspected that what he said was
understood. At length, one was brought forward who _could_ speak
English, and that so well as to leave little doubt in Bigelow's mind
about the stranger's being either an Englishman or an American.
Communications between the parties were commenced through this

Bigelow was closely questioned touching the number of people in the
different islands, the number of vessels they possessed, the present
situation and employments of those vessels, the nature of their cargoes,
the places where the property transported in the vessels was kept, and,
in short, everything that bore directly on the wealth and movable
possessions of the people. From the nature of these questions as well as
from the appearance of the strangers, Bigelow had, at once, taken up the
notion that they were pirates. In the eastern seas, piracies were often
committed on a large scale, and there was nothing violent in this
supposition. The agitated state of the world, moreover, rendered
piracies much more likely to go unpunished then than would be the case
to-day, and it was well known that several vessels often cruised
together, when engaged in these lawless pursuits, in those distant
quarters of the world. Then the men were evidently of different races,
though Bigelow was of opinion that most of them came from the East
Indies, the coasts, or the islands. The officers were mostly Europeans
by birth, or the descendants of Europeans; but two-thirds of the people
whom he saw were persons of eastern extraction; some appeared to be
Lascars, and others what sailors call Chinamen.

Bigelow was very guarded in his answers; so much so, indeed, as to give
great dissatisfaction to his interrogators. About the Peak he assumed an
air of great mystery, and said none but birds could get on it; thunder
was sometimes heard coming out of its cliffs, but man could not get up
to see what the place contained. This account was received with marked
interest, and to Bigelow's surprise, it did not appear to awaken the
distrust he had secretly apprehended it might. On the contrary, he was
asked to repeat his account, and all who heard it, though a good deal
embellished this time, appeared disposed to believe what he said.
Encouraged by this success, the poor fellow undertook to mystify a
little concerning the Reef; but here he soon found himself met with
plump denials. In order to convince him that deception would be of no
use, he was now taken a short distance and confronted with Waally!

Bigelow no sooner saw the dark countenance of the chief than he knew he
was in bad hands. From that moment, he abandoned all attempts at
concealment, the condition of the Peak excepted, and had recourse to an
opposite policy. He now exaggerated everything; the number and force of
the vessels, giving a long list of names that were accurate enough,
though the fact was concealed that they mostly belonged to boats; and
swelling the force of the colony to something more than two thousand
fighting men. The piratical commander, who went by the name of 'the
admiral' among his followers, was a good deal startled by this
information, appealing to Waally to know whether it might be relied on
for truth. Waally could not say yes or no to this question. He had heard
that the colonists were much more numerous than they were formerly; but
how many fighting men they could now muster was more than he could say.
He knew that they were enormously rich, and among other articles of
value, possessed materials sufficient for fitting out as many ships as
they pleased. It was this last information that had brought the
strangers to the group; for they were greatly in want of naval stores of
almost all sorts.

The admiral did not deem it necessary to push his inquiries any further
at that moment; apparently, he did not expect to find much at Rancocus
Island, Waally having, most probably, let him into the secret of its
uses. The houses and mills were visited and plundered; a few hogs and
one steer were shot; but luckily, most of the animals had been driven
into a retired valley. The saw-mill was set on fire in pure wantonness,
and it was burned to the ground. A new grist-mill escaped, merely
because its position was not known. A great deal of injury was inflicted
on the settlement merely for the love of mischief, and a brick-kiln was
actually blown up in order to enjoy the fun of seeing the bricks
scattered in the air. In short, the place was almost destroyed in one
sense, though no attempt was made to injure Bigelow. On the contrary,
he was scarcely watched, and it was no sooner dark than he collected a
crew, got into his own whale-boat, and came to windward to report what
was going on to the governor.

Chapter XXVII.

"All gone! 'tis ours the goodly land--
Look round--the heritage behold;
Go forth--upon the mountains stand;
Then, if ye can, be cold."


Little doubt remained in the mind of the governor, after he had heard
and weighed the whole of Bigelow's story, that he had to deal with one
of those piratical squadrons that formerly infested the eastern seas, a
sort of successor of the old buccaneers. The men engaged in such
pursuits, were usually of different nations, and they were always of the
most desperate and ruthless characters. The fact that Waally was with
this party, indicated pretty plainly the manner in which they had heard
of the colony, and, out of all question, that truculent chief had made
his own bargain to come in for a share of the profits.

It was highly probable that the original object of these freebooters had
been to plunder the pearl-fishing vessels, and, hearing at their haunts,
of Betto's group, they had found their way across to it, where, meeting
with Waally, they had been incited to their present enterprise.

Little apprehension was felt for the Peak. A vessel might hover about it
a month, and never find the cove; and should the pirates even make the
discovery, such were the natural advantages of the islanders, that the
chances were as twenty to one, they would drive off their assailants.
Under all the circumstances, therefore, and on the most mature
reflection, the governor determined to cross over to the Reef, and
assume the charge of the defence of that most important position. Should
the Reef fall into the hands of the enemy, it might require years to
repair the loss; or, what would be still more afflicting, the
freebooters might hold the place, and use it as a general rendezvous, in
their nefarious pursuits. Accordingly, after taking a most tender leave
of his wife and children, Governor Woolston left the cove, in the course
of the forenoon, crossing in a whale-boat rigged with a sail. Bridget
wished greatly to accompany her husband, but to this the latter would,
on no account, consent; for he expected serious service, and thought it
highly probable that most of the females would have to be sent over to
the Peak, for security. Finding that her request could not be granted,
and feeling fully the propriety of her husband's decision, Mrs. Woolston
so far commanded her feelings as to set a good example to other wives,
as became her station.

When about mid-channel, the whale-boat made a sail coming down before
the wind, and apparently steering for South Cape, as well as herself.
This turned out to be the Anne, which had gone to windward to give the
alarm to the fishermen, and was now on her return. She had warned so
many boats as to be certain they would spread the notice, and she had
spoken the Dragon, which had gone in quest of the Jonas and the Abraham,
both of which were a few leagues to windward. Capt. Betts, however, had
come on board the Anne, and now joined his old friend, the governor,
when about four leagues from the cape. Glad enough was Mark Woolston to
meet with the Anne, and to find so good an assistant on board her. That
schooner, which was regularly pilot-boat built, was the fastest craft
about the islands, and it was a great matter to put head-quarters on
board her. The Martha came next, and the whale-boat was sent in to find
that sloop, which was up at the Reef, and to order her out immediately
to join the governor. Pennock was the highest in authority, in the
group, after the governor, and a letter was sent to him, apprising him
of all that was known, and exhorting him to vigilance and activity;
pointing out, somewhat in detail, the different steps he was to take, in
order that no time might be lost. This done, the governor stood in
towards Whaling Bight, in order to ascertain the state of things at that

The alarm had been given all over the group, and when the Anne reached
her place of destination, it was ascertained that the men had been
assembled under arms, and every precaution taken. But Whaling Bight was
the great place of resort of the Kannakas, and there were no less than
forty of those men there at that moment, engaged in trying out oil, or
in fitting craft for the fisheries. No one could say which side these
fellows would take, should it appear that their proper chiefs were
engaged with the strangers; though, otherwise, the colonists counted on
their assistance with a good deal of confidence. On all ordinary
occasions, a reasonably fair understanding existed between the colonists
and the Kannakas. It is true, that the former were a little too fond of
getting as much work as possible, for rather small compensations, out of
these semi-savages; but, as articles of small intrinsic value still went
a great way in these bargains, no serious difficulty had yet arisen out
of the different transactions. Some persons thought that the Kannakas
had risen in their demands, and put less value on a scrap of old iron,
than had been their original way of thinking, now that so many of their
countrymen had been back and forth a few times, between the group and
other parts of the world; a circumstance that was very naturally to be
expected. But the governor knew mankind too well not to understand that
all unequal associations lead to discontent. Men may get to be so far
accustomed to inferior stations, and to their duties and feelings, as to
consider their condition the result of natural laws; but the least taste
of liberty begets a jealousy and distrust that commonly raises a barrier
between the master and servant, that has a never-dying tendency to keep
them more or less alienated in feeling. When the colonists began to cast
about them, and to reflect on the chances of their being sustained by
these hirelings in the coming strife, very few of them could be
sufficiently assured that the very men who had now eaten of their bread
and salt, in some instances, for years, were to be relied on in a
crisis. Indeed, the number of these Kannakas was a cause of serious
embarrassment with the governor, when he came to reflect on his
strength, and on the means, of employing it.

Fully two hundred of the savages, or semi-savages, were at that moment
either scattered about among the farm-houses; or working in the
different places where shipping lay, or were out whaling to windward.
Now, the whole force of the colony, confining it to fighting-men, and
including those who were absent, was just three hundred and sixty-three.
Of these, three hundred might, possibly, on an emergency, be brought to
act on any given point, leaving the remainder in garrisons. But a
straggling body of a hundred and fifty of these Kannakas, left in the
settlements, or on the Reef, or about the crater, while the troops were
gone to meet the enemy, presented no very pleasing picture to the mind
of the governor. He saw the necessity of collecting these men together,
and of employing them actively in the service of the colony, as the most
effectual mode of preventing their getting within the control of Waally.
This duty was confided to Bigelow, who was sent to the Reef without
delay, taking with him all the Kannakas at Whaling Bight, with orders to
put them on board the shipping at the Reef--schooners, sloops, lighters,
&c., of which there were now, ordinarily, some eight or ten to be found
there--and to carry them all to windward; using the inner channels of
the group. Here was a twenty-four hours' job, and one that would not
only keep everybody quite busy, but which might have the effect to save
all the property in the event of a visit to the Reef by the pirates.
Bigelow was to call every Kannaka he saw to his assistance, in the hope
of thus getting most of them out of harm's way.

Notwithstanding this procedure, which denoted a wise distrust of these
Indian allies, the governor manifested a certain degree of confidence
towards a portion of them, that was probably just as discreet in another
way. A part of the crew of every vessel, with the exception of those
that went to the Peak, was composed of Kannakas; and no less than ten of
them were habitually employed in the Anne, which carried two whale-boats
for emergencies. None of these men were sent away, or were in any manner
taken from their customary employments. So much confidence had the
governor in his own authority, and in his power to influence these
particular individuals, that he did not hesitate about keeping them
near himself, and, in a measure, of entrusting the safety of his person
to their care. It is true, that the Kannakas of both the Anne and the
Martha were a sort of confidential seamen, having now been employed in
the colony several years, and got a taste for the habits of the

When all his arrangements were made, the governor came out of Whaling
Bight in the Anne, meeting Betts in the Martha off South Cape. Both
vessels then stood down along the shores of the group, keeping a bright
look-out in the direction of Rancocus Island, or towards the southward
and westward. Two or three smaller crafts were in company, each under
the direction of some one on whom reliance could be placed. The old
Neshamony had the honour of being thus employed, among others. The
south-western angle of the group formed a long, low point, or cape of
rock, making a very tolerable roadstead on its north-western side, or to
leeward. This cape was known among the colonists by the name of Rancocus
_Needle_, from the circumstance that it pointed with mathematical
precision to the island in question. Thus, it was a practice with the
coasters to run for the extremity of this cape, and then to stand away
on a due south-west course, certain of seeing the mountains for which
they were steering in the next few hours. Among those who plied to and
fro in this manner, were many who had no very accurate notions of
navigation; and, to them, this simple process was found to be quite

Off Rancocus Needle, the governor had appointed a rendezvous for the
whole of his little fleet. In collecting these vessels, six in all,
including four boats, his object had not been resistance--for the
armaments of the whole amounted to but six swivels, together with a few
muskets--but vigilance. He was confident that Waally would lead his new
friends up towards the Western Roads, the point where he had made all
his own attacks, and where he was most acquainted; and the position
under the Needle was the best station for observing the approach of the
strangers, coming as they must, if they came at all, from the

The Anne was the first craft to arrive off the point of the Needle, and
she found the coast clear. As yet, no signs of invaders were to be seen;
and the Martha being within a very convenient distance to the eastward,
a signal was made to Captain Betts to stand over towards the Peak, and
have a search in that quarter. Should the strangers take it into their
heads to beat up under the cliffs again, and thence stretch across to
the group, it would bring them in with the land to windward of the
observing squadron, and give them an advantage the governor was very far
from wishing them to obtain. The rest of the craft came down to the
place of rendezvous, and kept standing off and on, under short sail,
close in with the rocks, so as to keep in the smoothest of the water.
Such was the state of things when the sun went down in the ocean.

All night the little fleet of the colonists remained in the same
uncertainty as to the movements of their suspicious visitors. About
twelve the Martha came round the Needle, and reported the coast clear to
the southward. She had been quite to the cove, and had communicated with
the shore. Nothing had been seen of the ship and her consorts since the
governor left, nor had any further tidings been brought up from to
leeward, since the arrival of Bigelow. On receiving this information,
the governor ordered his command to run off, in diverging lines, for
seven leagues each, and then to wait for day. This was accordingly done;
the Anne and Martha, as a matter of course, outstripping the others. At
the usual hour day re-appeared, when the look-out aloft, on board the
Anne, reported the Martha about two leagues to the northward, the
Neshamony about as far to the southward, though a league farther to
windward. The other craft were known to be to the northward of the
Martha, but could not be seen. As for the Neshamony, she was coming down
with a flowing sheet, to speak the governor.

The sun had fairly risen, when the Neshamony came down on the Anne's
weather-quarter, both craft then standing to the northward. The
Neshamony had seen nothing. The governor now directed her commander to
stand directly down towards Rancocus Island. If she saw nothing, she was
to go in and land, in order to get the news from the people ashore.
Unless the information obtained in this way was of a nature that
demanded a different course, she was to beat up to the volcano,
reconnoitre there, then stand across to the cove, and go in; whence she
was to sail for the Reef, unless she could hear of the governor at some
other point, when she was to make the best of her way to _him_.

The Anne now made sail towards the Martha, which sloop was standing to
the northward, rather edging from the group, under short canvass. No
land was in sight, though its haze could be discovered all along the
eastern board, where the group was known to lie; but neither the Peak,
nor the Volcano, nor Rancocus heights could now be seen from the
vessels. About ten the governor spoke Captain Betts, to ask the news.
The Martha had seen nothing; and, shortly after, the three boats to the
northward joined, and made the same report. Nothing had been seen of the
strangers, who seemed, most unaccountably, to be suddenly lost!

This uncertainty rendered all the more reflecting portion of the
colonists exceedingly uneasy. Should the pirates get into the group by
either of its weather channels, they would not only find all the
property and vessels that had been taken in that direction, at their
mercy, but they would assail the settlements in their weakest parts,
render succour more difficult, and put themselves in a position whence
it would be easiest to approach or to avoid their foes. Any one
understanding the place, its facilities for attacking, or its defences,
would naturally endeavour to enter the group as well to windward as
possible; but Waally had never attempted anything of the sort; and, as
he knew little of the inner passages, it was not probable he had thought
of suggesting a course different from his own to his new friends. The
very circumstance that he had always approached by the same route, was
against it; for, if his sagacity had not pointed out a preferable course
for himself, it was not to be expected it would do it for others. Still,
it was not unreasonable to suppose that practised seamen might see the
advantages which the savage had overlooked, and a very serious
apprehension arose in the minds of the governor and Betts, in
particular, touching this point. All that could be done, however, was
to despatch two of the boats, with orders to enter the group by the
northern road, and proceed as far as the Reef. The third boat was left
to cruise off the Needle, in order to communicate with anything that,
should go to that place of rendezvous with a report, and, at the same
time, to keep a look-out for the pirates. With the person in charge of
this boat, was left the course to be steered by those who were to search
for the governor, as they arrived off the Needle, from time to time.

The Anne and Martha bore up, in company, as soon as these arrangements
were completed, it being the plan now to go and look for the strangers.
Once in view, the governor determined not to lose sight of the pirates,
again, but to remain so near them, as to make sure of knowing what they
were about, In such cases, a close look-out should always be kept on the
enemy, since an advantage in time is gained by so doing, as well as a
great deal of uncertainty and indecision avoided.

For seven hours the Anne and Martha stood towards Rancocus Island,
running off about two leagues from each other, thereby 'spreading a
clew,' as sailors call it, that would command the view of a good bit of
water. The tops of the mountains were soon seen, and by the end of the
time mentioned, most of the lower land became visible. Nevertheless, the
strangers did not come in sight. Greatly at a loss how to proceed, the
governor now sent the Martha down for information, with orders for her
to beat up to the Needle, as soon as she could, the Anne intending to
rendezvous there, next morning, agreeably to previous arrangements. As
the Martha went off before the wind, the Anne hauled up sharp towards
the Peak, under the impression that something might have been seen of
the strangers from the high land there. About four in the morning the
Anne went into the cove, and the governor ascended to the plain to have
an interview with Heaton. He found everything tranquil in that quarter.
Nothing had been seen of the strange squadron, since it went out of
sight, under the volcano; nor had even the Neshamony come in. The
governor's arrival was soon known, early as it was, and he had visits
from half the women on the island, to inquire after their absent
husbands. Each wife was told all the governor knew, and this short
intercourse relieved the minds of a great many.

At eight, the Anne sailed again, and at ten she had the Needle in sight,
with three boats off it, on the look-out. Here, then, were tidings at
last; but, the impatience of the governor was restrained, in order to
make out the character of a sail that had been seen coming down through
the straits, under a cloud of canvas. In a short time, this vessel was
made out to be the Abraham, and the Anne hauled up to get her news. The
two schooners spoke each other about twelve o'clock, but the Abraham had
no intelligence to impart. She had been sent, or rather carried by
Bigelow, out by the eastern passage, and had stood along the whole of
the weather-side of the group, to give notice to the whalers where to
go; and she had notified the two brigs to go in to-windward, and to
remain in Weather Bay, where all the rest of the dull crafts had been
taken for safety; and then had come to-leeward to look for the governor.
As the Abraham was barely a respectable sailer, it was not deemed
prudent to take her too near the strangers; but, she might see how
matters were situated to the eastward. By keeping on the weather-coast,
and so near the land as not to be cut off from it, she would be of
particular service; since no enemy could approach in that quarter,
without being seen; and Bigelow's familiarity with the channels would
enable him, not only to save his schooner by running in, but would put
it in his power to give notice throughout the whole group, of the
position and apparent intentions of the strangers. The Abraham,
accordingly, hauled by the wind, to beat back to her station, while the
Anne kept off for the Needle.

At the rendezvous, the governor found most of his craft waiting for him.
The Neshamony was still behind; but all the rest had executed their
orders, and were standing off and on, near the cape, ready to report.
Nothing had been seen of the strangers! It was certain they had not
approached the group, for two of the boats had just come out of it,
having left the colonists busy with the preparations for defence, but
totally undisturbed in other respects. This information gave the
governor increased uneasiness. His hope of hearing from the pirates, in
time to be ready to meet them, now depended on his reports from to
leeward. The Neshamony ought soon to be in; nor could it be long before
the Martha would return. The great source of apprehension now came from
a suspicion that some of the Kannakas might be acting as pirates, along
with Waally. For Waally himself no great distrust was felt, since he had
never been allowed to see much of the channels of the group; but it was
very different with the sea-going Kannakas, who had been employed by the
colonists. Some of these men were familiar with all the windings and
turnings of the channels, knew how much water could be taken through a
passage, and, though not absolutely safe pilots, perhaps, were men who
might enable skilful seamen to handle their vessels with tolerable
security within the islands. Should it turn out that one or two of these
fellows had undertaken to carry the strangers up to windward, and to
take them into one of the passages in that quarter of the group, they
might be down upon the different fortified points before they were
expected, and sweep all before them. It is true, this danger had been in
a measure foreseen, and persons had been sent to look out for it; but it
never had appeared so formidable to the governor, as now that he found
himself completely at fault where to look for his enemy. At length, a
prospect of fresh reports appeared. The Neshamony was seen in the
southern board, standing across from the Peak; and about the same time,
the Martha was made out in the south-western, beating up from Rancocus
Island direct. As the first had been ordered to land, and had also been
round by the volcano, the Anne hauled up for her, the governor being
impatient to get her tidings first. In half an hour, the two vessels
were alongside of each other. But the Neshamony had very little that was
new to tell! The pirates had remained on the island but a short time
after Bigelow and his companions got away, doing all the damage they
could, however, in that brief space. When they left, it was night, and
nothing very certain could be told of their movements. When last seen,
however, they were on a wind, and heading to the southward a little
westerly; which looked like beating up towards the volcano, the trades
now blowing due south-east. But the Neshamony had been quite round the
volcano, without obtaining a sight of the strangers. Thence she
proceeded to the Peak, where she arrived only a few hours after the
governor had sailed, going into the cove and finding all quiet. Of
course, the Martha could have no more to say than this, if as much; and
the governor was once more left to the pain of deep suspense. As was
expected, when Betts joined, he had nothing at all to tell. He had been
ashore at Rancocus Point, heard the complaints of the people touching
their losses, but had obtained no other tidings of the wrong-doers.
Unwilling to lose time, he staid but an hour, and had been beating back
to the rendezvous the rest of the period of his absence. Was it possible
that the strangers had gone back to Betto's group, satisfied with the
trifling injuries they had inflicted? This could hardly be; yet it was
not easy to say where else they had been. After a consultation, it was
decided that the Martha should stand over in that direction, in the hope
that she might pick up some intelligence, by meeting with fishing canoes
that often came out to a large cluster of rocks, that lay several
leagues to windward of the territories of Ooroony and Waally. Captain
Betts had taken his leave of the governor, and had actually got on board
his own vessel, in order to make sail, when, a signal was seen flying on
board one of the boats that was kept cruising well out in the straits,
intimating that strange vessels were seen to windward. This induced the
governor to recall the Martha, and the whole of the look-out vessels
stood off into the straits.

In less than an hour, all doubts were removed. There were the strangers,
sure enough, and what was more, there was the Abraham ahead of them,
pushing for Cape South passage, might and main; for the strangers were
on her heels, going four feet to her three. It appeared, afterwards,
that the pirates, on quitting Rancocus Island, had stood off to the
southward, until they reached to windward of the volcano, passing
however a good bit to leeward of the island, on their first stretch,
when, finding the Peak just dipping, they tacked to the northward and
westward, and stood off towards the ordinary whaling-ground of the
colony, ever which they swept in the expectation of capturing the
brigs. The pirates had no occasion for oil, which they probably would
have destroyed in pure wantonness, but they were much in want of naval
stores, cordage in particular, and the whaling gear of the two brigs
would have been very acceptable to them. While running in for the group,
after an unsuccessful search, they made the Abraham, and gave chase.
That schooner steered for the straits, in the hope of finding the
governor; but was so hard pressed by her pursuers, as to be glad to edge
in for Cape South roads, intending to enter the group, and run for the
Reef, if she could do no better.

Luckily, the discovery of the look-out boat prevented the execution of
the Abraham's project, which would have led the pirates directly up to
the capital. But, no sooner did the governor see how things were
situated, than he boldly luffed up towards the strangers, intending to
divert them from the chase of the Abraham; or, at least, to separate
them, in chase of himself. In this design he was handsomely seconded by
Betts, in the Martha, who hauled his wind in the wake of the Anne, and
carried everything that would draw, in order to keep his station. This
decision and show of spirit had its effect. The two brigs, which were
most to the southward, altered their course, and edged away for the Anne
and Martha, leaving the ship to follow the Abraham alone. The governor
was greatly rejoiced at this, for he had a notion a vessel as large as
the strange ship would hesitate about entering the narrow waters, on
account of her draught; she being much larger than any craft that had
ever been in before, as the Kannakas must know, and would not fail to
report to the pirates. The governor supposed this ship to be a vessel of
between six and seven hundred tons measurement. Her armament appeared to
be twelve guns of a side, below, and some eight or ten guns on her
quarter-deck and forecastle. This was a formidable craft in those days,
making what was called in the English service, an eight-and-twenty gun
frigate, a class of cruisers that were then found to be very useful. It
is true, that the first class modern sloop-of-war would blow one of
those little frigates out of water, being several hundred tons larger,
with armaments, crews and spars in proportion; but an eight-and-twenty
gun frigate offered a very formidable force to a community like that of
the crater, and no one knew it better than the governor.

The three strangers all sailed like witches. It was well for the Abraham
that she had a port so close under her lee, or the ship would have had
her, beyond the smallest doubt. As it was she caught it, as she rounded
the cape, as close in as she could go, the frigate letting slip at her
the whole of her starboard broadside, which cut away the schooner's
gaff, jib-stay, and main-topmast, besides killing, a Kannaka, who was in
the main-cross-trees at the time. This last occurrence turned out to be
fortunate, in the main, however, since it induced all the Kannakas to
believe that the strangers were their enemies, in particular; else why
kill one of their number, when there were just as many colonists as
Kannakas to shoot at!

As the governor expected, the ship did not venture to follow the Abraham
in. That particular passage, in fact, was utterly unknown to Waally, and
those with him, and he could not give such an account of it as would
encourage the admiral to stand on. Determined not to lose time
unnecessarily, the latter hauled short off shore, and made sail in chase
of the Anne and Martha, which, by this time, were about mid-channel,
heading across to the Peak. It was not the wish of the governor,
however, to lead the strangers any nearer to the cove than was
necessary, and, no sooner did he see the Abraham well within the
islands, her sails concealed by the trees, of which there was now a
little forest on this part of the coast, and the ship drawing well off
the land in hot pursuit of himself, than he kept away in the direction
of Rancocus Island, bringing the wind on his larboard quarter. The
strangers followed, and in half an hour they were all so far to leeward
of Cape South, as to remove any apprehension of their going in there
very soon.

Thus far, the plan of the governor had succeeded to admiration. He had
his enemies in plain sight, within a league of him, and in chase of his
two fastest craft. The best sailing of the Anne and Martha was on a
wind, and, as a matter of course, they could do better, comparatively,
in smooth water, than larger craft. No sooner, therefore, had he got his
pursuers far enough off the land, and far enough to leeward, than the
governor wore, or jibed would be the better word, running off northwest,
with the wind on his starboard quarter. This gave the strangers a little
the advantage, in one sense, though they lost it in another. It brought
them on his weather-beam; pretty well forward of it, too; but the Needle
was directly ahead of the schooner and sloop, and the governor foresaw
that his pursuers would have to keep off to double that, which he was
reasonably certain of reaching first.

Everything turned out as the governor anticipated. The pirates had near
a league of water more to pass over, before they could double the
Needle, than the Anne and the Martha had; and, though those two crafts
were obliged to haul up close to the rocks, under a distant fire from
all three of their pursuers, no harm was done, and they were soon
covered by the land, and were close-hauled in smooth water, to leeward
of the group. Twenty minutes later, the strangers came round the cape,
also, bearing up sharp, and following their chase. This was placing the
enemy just where the colonists could have wished. They were now
to-leeward of every point in the settlements, looking up towards the
roads, which opened on the western passage, or that best known to
Waally, and which he would be most likely to enter, should he attempt to
pilot the strangers in. This was getting the invaders precisely where
the governor wished them to be, if they were to attack him at all. They
could not reach the Reef in less than twenty-four hours, with their
knowledge of the channel; would have to approach it in face of the
heaviest and strongest batteries, those provided for Waally; and, if
successful in reaching the inner harbour, would enter it under the fire
of the long twelves mounted on the crater, which was, rightly enough,
deemed to be the citadel of the entire colony--unless, indeed, the Peak
might better deserve that name.

Chapter XXVIII.

"It scares the sea-birds from their nests;
They dart and wheel with deafening screams;
Now dark--and now their wings and breasts
Flash back amid disastrous gleams.
O, sin! what hast thou done on this fair earth?
The world, O man! is wailing o'er thy birth."


It was the policy of the colonists to lead their pursuers directly up to
the Western Roads. On the small island, under which vessels were
accustomed to anchor, was a dwelling or two, and a battery of two
guns--nine-pounders. These guns were to command the anchorage. The
island lay directly in front of the mouth of the passage, making a very
beautiful harbour within it; though the water was so smooth in the
roads, and the last were so much the most convenient for getting
under-way in, that this more sheltered haven was very little used. On
the present occasion, however, all the colony craft beat up past the
island, and anchored inside of it. The crews were then landed, and they
repaired to the battery, which they found ready for service in
consequence of orders previously sent.

Here, then, was the point where hostilities would be likely to commence,
should hostilities commence at all. One of the boats was sent across to
the nearest island inland, where a messenger was landed, with directions
to carry a letter to Pennock, at the Reef. This messenger was compelled
to walk about six miles, the whole distance in a grove of young palms
and bread-fruit trees; great pains having been taken to cultivate both
of these plants throughout the group, in spots favourable to their
growth. After getting through the grove, the path came out on a
plantation, where a horse was kept for this especial object; and here
the man mounted and galloped off to the Reef, soon finding himself amid
a line of some of the most flourishing plantations in the colony.
Fortunately, however, as things then threatened, these plantations were
not on the main channel, but stood along the margin of a passage which
was deep enough to receive any craft that floated, but which was a
_cul-de-sac_, that could be entered only from the eastward. Along the
margin of the ship-channel, there was not yet soil of the right quality
for cultivation, though it was slowly forming, as the sands that lay
thick on the adjacent rocks received other substances by exposure to the

The Anne and her consorts had been anchored about an hour, when the
strangers hove-to in the roads, distant about half a mile from the
battery. Here they all hoisted white flags, as if desirous of having a
parley. The governor did not well know how to act. He could not tell
whether or not it would do to trust such men; and he as little liked to
place Betts, or any other confidential friend, in their power, as he did
to place himself there. Nevertheless, prudence required that some notice
should be taken of the flag of truce; and he determined to go off a
short distance from the shore in one of his own boats, and hoist a white
flag, which would be as much as to say that he was waiting there to
receive any communication that the strangers might chose to send him.

It was not long after the governor's boat had reached her station, which
was fairly within the short range of the two guns in the battery, ere a
boat shoved off from the ship, showing the white flag, too. In a few
minutes, the two boats were within the lengths of each other's oars,
riding peacefully side by side.

On board the stranger's boat, in addition to the six men who were at the
oars, were three persons in the stern-sheets. One of these men, as was
afterwards ascertained, was the admiral himself; a second was an
interpreter, who spoke English with a foreign accent, but otherwise
perfectly well; and the third was no other than Waally! The governor
thought a fierce satisfaction was gleaming in the countenance of the
savage when they met, though the latter said nothing. The interpreter
opened the communications.

"Is any one in that boat," demanded this person, "who is empowered to
speak for the authorities ashore?"

"There is," answered the governor, who did not deem it wise,
nevertheless, exactly to proclaim his rank. "I have full powers, being
directly authorized by the chief-magistrate of this colony."

"To what nation does your colony belong?"

This was an awkward question, and one that had not been at all
anticipated, and which the governor was not fully prepared to answer.

"Before interrogatories are thus put, it might be as well for me to know
by what authority I am questioned at all," returned Mr. Woolston. "What
are the vessels which have anchored in our waters, and under what flag
do they sail?"

"A man-of-war never answers a hail, unless it comes from another
man-of-war," answered the interpreter, smiling.

"Do you, then, claim to be vessels of war?"

"If compelled to use our _force_, you will find us so. We have not come
here to answer questions, however, but to ask them. Does your colony
claim to belong to any particular nation, or not?"

"We are all natives of the United States of America, and our vessels
sail under her flag."

"The United States of America!" repeated the interpreter, with an
ill-concealed expression of contempt. "There is good picking among the
vessels of that nation, as the great European belligerents well know;
and while so many are profiting by it, _we_ may as well come in for our

It may be necessary to remind a portion of our readers, that this
dialogue occurred more than forty years ago, and long before the
republic sent out its fleets and armies to conquer adjacent states;
when, indeed, it had scarce a fleet and army to protect its own coasts
and frontiers from insults and depredations. It is said that when the
late Emperor of Austria, the good and kind-hearted Francis II., was
shown the ruins of the little castle of Habsburg, which is still to be
seen crowning a low height, in the canton of Aarraw, Switzerland, he
observed, "I now see that we have not _always_ been a great family." The
governor cared very little for the fling at his native land, but he did
not relish the sneer, as it indicated the treatment likely to be
bestowed on his adopted country. Still, the case was not to be remedied
except by the use of the means already provided, should his visitors see
fit to resort to force.

A desultory conversation now ensued, in which the strangers pretty
plainly let their designs be seen. In the first place they demanded a
surrender of all the craft belonging to the colony, big and little,
together with all the naval stores. This condition complied with, the
strangers intimated that it was possible their conquests would not be
pushed much further. Of provisions, they stood in need of pork, and they
understood that the colony had hogs without number. If they would bring
down to the island a hundred fat hogs, with barrels and salt, within
twenty-four hours, it was probable, however, no further demand for
provisions would be made. They had obtained fifty barrels of very
excellent flour at Rancocus Island, and could not conveniently stow more
than that number, in addition to the demanded hundred barrels of pork.
The admiral also required that hostages should be sent on board his
ship, and that he should be provided with proper pilots, in order that
he, and a party of suitable size, might take the Anne and the Martha,
and go up to the town, which he understood lay some twenty or thirty
miles within the group. Failing of an acquiescence in these terms, war,
and war of the most ruthless character, was to be immediately
proclaimed. All attempts to obtain an announcement of any national
character, on the part of the strangers was evaded; though, from the
appearance of everything he saw, the governor could not now have the
smallest doubt that he had to do with pirates.

After getting all out of the strangers that he could, and it was but
little at the best, the governor quietly, but steadily refused to accede
to any one of the demands, and put the issue on the appeal to force. The
strangers were obviously disappointed at this answer, for the
thoughtful, simple manner of Mark Woolston had misled them, and they had
actually flattered themselves with obtaining all they wanted without a
struggle. At first, the anger of the admiral threatened some treacherous
violence on the spot, but the crews of the two boats were so nearly
equal, that prudence, if not good faith, admonished him of the necessity
of respecting the truce. The parties separated, however, with
denunciations, nay maledictions, on the part of the strangers, the
colonists remaining quiet in demeanor, but firm.

The time taken for the two boats to return to their respective points of
departure was but short; and scarcely was that of the stranger arrived
alongside of its vessel, ere the ship fired a gun. This was the signal
of war, the shot of that first gun falling directly in the battery,
where it took off the hand of a Kannaka, besides doing some other
damage. This was not a very favourable omen, but the governor encouraged
his people, and to work both sides went, trying who could do the other
the most harm. The cannonading was lively and well sustained, though it
was not like one of the present time, when shot are hollow, and a gun is
chambered and, not unfrequently, has a muzzle almost as large as the
open end of a flour-barrel, and a breech as big as a hogshead. At the
commencement-of this century a long twelve-pounder was considered a
smart piece, and was thought very capable of doing a good deal of
mischief. The main battery of the ship was composed of guns of that
description, while one of the brigs carried eight nines, and the other
fourteen sixes. As the ship mounted altogether thirty, if not
thirty-two, guns, this left the governor to contend with batteries that
had in them at least twenty-six pieces, as opposed to his own two. A
couple of lively guns, nevertheless, well-served and properly mounted,
behind good earthen banks, are quite equal to several times their number
on board ship. Notwithstanding the success of the first shot of the
pirates, this truth soon became sufficiently apparent, and the vessels
found themselves getting the worst of it. The governor, himself, or
Captain Betts pointed every gun that was fired in the battery, and they
seldom failed to make their marks on the hulls of the enemy. On the
other hand, the shot of the shipping was either buried in the mounds of
the battery, or passed over its low parapets. Not a man was hurt ashore,
at the end of an hour's struggle, with the exception of the Kannaka
first wounded, while seven of the pirates were actually killed, and near
twenty wounded.

Had the combat continued in the manner in which it was commenced, the
result would have been a speedy and signal triumph in favour of the
colony. But, by this time, the pirate admiral became convinced that he
had gone the wrong way to work, and that he must have recourse to some
management, in order to prevail against such stubborn foes. Neither of
the vessels was anchored, but all kept under way, manoeuvring about in
front of the battery, but one brig hauled out of the line to the
northward, and making a stretch or two clear of the line of fire, she
came down on the north end of the battery, in a position to rake it.
Now, this battery had been constructed for plain, straightforward
cannonading in front, with no embrasures to command the roads on either
flank. Curtains of earth had been thrown up on the flanks, to protect
the men, it is true, but this passive sort of resistance could do very
little good in a protracted contest. While this particular brig was
gaining that favourable position, the ship and the other brig fell off
to leeward, and were soon at so long a shot, as to be out of harm's way.
This was throwing the battery entirely out of the combat, as to anything
aggressive, and compelled a prompt decision on the part of the
colonists. No sooner did the nearest brig open her fire, and that within
short canister range, than the ship and her consort hauled in again on
the southern flank of the battery, the smallest vessel leading, and
feeling her way with the lead. Perceiving the utter uselessness of
remaining, and the great danger he ran of being cut off, the governor
now commenced a retreat to his boats. This movement was not without
danger, one colonist being killed in effecting it, and two more of the
Kannakas wounded. It succeeded, notwithstanding, and the whole party got
off to the Anne and Martha.

This retreat, of course, left the island and the battery at the mercy of
the pirates. The latter landed, set fire to the buildings, blew up the
magazine, dismounted the guns, and did all the other damage to the place
that could be accomplished in the course of a short visit. They then
went on board their vessels, again, and began to beat up into the
Western Passage, following the colonists who preceded them, keeping just
out of gun-shot.

The Western Passage was somewhat crooked, and different reaches were of
very frequent occurrence. This sometimes aided a vessel in ascending, or
going to windward, and sometimes offered obstacles. As there were many
other passages, so many false channels, some of which were
_culs-de-sacs,_ it was quite possible for one ignorant of the true
direction to miss his way; and this circumstance suggested to the
governor an expedient which was highly approved of by His friend and
counsellor, captain Betts, when it was laid before that plain, but
experienced, seaman. There was one false passage, about a league within
the group, which led off to the northward, and far from all the
settlements, that offered several inducements to enter it. In the first
place, it had more of the appearance of a main channel, at its point of
junction, than the main channel itself, and might easily be mistaken for
it; then, it turned right into the wind's eye, after beating up it for a
league; and at the end of a long reach that ran due-south-east, it
narrowed so much as to render it questionable whether the Anne and
Martha could pass between the rocks, into a wide bay beyond. This bay
was the true _cul-de-sac,_ having no other outlet or inlet than the
narrow pass just mentioned; though it was very large, was dotted with
islands, and reached quite to the vicinity of Loam Island, or within a
mile, or two, of the Reef.

The main question was whether the schooner and the sloop could pass
through the opening which communicated between the reach and the bay. If
not, they must inevitably fall into the hands of the pirates, should
they enter the false channel, and be followed in. Then, even admitting
that the Anne and Martha got through the narrow passage, should the
pirates follow them in their boats, there would be very little
probability of their escaping; though they might elude their pursuers
for a time among the islands. Captain Betts was of opinion that the two
vessels _could_ get through, and was strongly in favour of endeavouring
to lead the enemy off the true course to the Reef, by entangling them in
this _cul-de-sac._ If nothing but delay was gained, delay would be
something. It was always an advantage to the assailed to have time to
recover from their first alarm, and to complete their arrangements. The
governor listened to his friend's arguments with favour, but he sent the
Neshamony on direct to the Reef, with a letter to Pennock, acquainting
that functionary with the state of things, the intended plan, and a
request that a twelve-pounder, that was mounted on a travelling
carriage, might be put on board the boat, and sent to a landing, whence
it might easily be dragged by hand to the narrow passage so often
mentioned. This done, he took the way into the false channel himself.

The governor, as a matter of course, kept at a safe distance ahead of
the pirates in the Anne and the Martha. This he was enabled to do quite
easily, since fore-and-aft vessels make much quicker tacks than those
that are square-rigged. As respects water, there was enough of that
almost everywhere; it being rather a peculiarity of the group, that
nearly every one of its passages had good channels and bold shores.
There was one shoal, however, and that of some extent, in the long reach
of the false channel named; and when the governor resolved to venture in
there, it was not without the hope of leading the pirate ship on it. The
water on this shoal was about sixteen feet deep, and there was scarce a
hope of either of the brigs fetching up on it; but, could the ship be
enticed there, and did she only strike with good way on her, and on a
falling tide, her berth might be made very uncomfortable. Although this
hope appeared faintly in the background of the governor's project, his
principal expectation was that of being able to decoy the strangers into
a _cul-de-sac_, and to embarrass them with delays and losses. As soon as
the Neshamony was out of sight, the Anne and Martha, therefore,
accompanied by the other boats, stood into the false channel, and went
off to the northward merrily, with a leading wind. When the enemy
reached the point, they did not hesitate to follow, actually setting
studding sails in their eagerness not to be left too far behind. It is
probable, that Waally was of but little service to his allies just then,
for, after all, the knowledge of that chief was limited to a very
imperfect acquaintance with such channels as would admit of the passage
of even canoes. The distances were by no means trifling in these
crooked passages. By the true channel, it was rather more than seven and
twenty miles from the western roads to the Reef; but, it was fully ten
more by this false channel, even deducting the half league where there
was no passage at all, or the bottom of the _bag_. Now, it required time
to beat up such a distance, and the sun was setting when the governor
reached the shoal already mentioned, about which he kept working for
some time, in the hope of enticing the ship on it in the dark. But the
pirates were too wary to be misled, in this fashion. The light no sooner
left them than they took in all their canvas and anchored. It is
probable, that they believed themselves on their certain way to the
Reef, and felt indisposed to risk anything by adventuring in the
obscurity. Both parties, consequently, prepared to pass the night at
their anchors. The Anne and Martha were now within less than a mile of
the all-important passage, through which they were to make their escape,
if they escaped at all. The opportunity of ascertaining the fact was not
to be neglected, and it was no sooner so dark as to veil his movements
than the governor went on board the Martha, which was a vessel of more
beam than the Anne, and beat her up to the rocks, in order to make a
trial of its capacity. It was just possible to take the sloop through in
several places; but, in one spot, the rocks came too near together to
admit of her being hauled between them. The circumstances would not
allow of delay, and to work everybody went, with such implements as
offered, to pick away the rock and to open a passage. By midnight, this
was done; and the Martha was carried through into the bay beyond. Here
she stood off a short distance and anchored. The governor went back to
his own craft and moved her about a mile, being apprehensive of a boat
attack in the darkness, should he remain where he was. This precaution
was timely, for, in the morning, after day had dawned, no less than
seven boats were seen pulling down to the pirates, which had, no doubt,
been looking for the schooner and the sloop in vain. The governor got
great credit for this piece of management; more even than might have
been expected, the vulgar usually bestowing their applause on acts of a
glittering character, rather than on those which denote calculation and

As the day advanced the pirates re-commenced their operations. The
delay, however, had given the colonists a great advantage. There had
been time to communicate with the Reef, and to receive the gun sent for.
It had greatly encouraged the people up at the town, to hear that their
enemies were in the false channel; and they redoubled their efforts, as
one multiplies his blows on a retreating enemy. Pennock sent the
governor most encouraging reports, and gave him to understand that he
had ordered nearly all the men in from the out-posts, leaving just
enough to have a look-out, and to keep the Kannakas in order. As it was
now understood that the attack must be on the capital, there was every
reason for taking this course.

All the vessels were soon under way again. The pirates missed the
Martha, which they rightly enough supposed had gone ahead. They were
evidently a good deal puzzled about the channel, but supposed it must be
somewhere to windward. In the mean time, the governor kept the Anne
manoeuvring around the shoal, in the hope of luring the ship on it. Nor
was he without rational hopes of success, for the brigs separated, one
going close to each side of the sound, to look for the outlet, while the
ship kept beating up directly in its centre, making a sinuous course
towards the schooner, which was always near the shallow water. At length
the governor was fully rewarded for his temerity; the admiral had made a
stretch that carried him laterally past the lee side of the shoal, and
when he went about, he looked directly for the Anne, which was standing
back and forth near its weather margin. Here the governor held on, until
he had the satisfaction of seeing the ship just verging on the weather
side of the shoal, when he up helm, and stood off to leeward, as if
intending to pass out of the _cul-de-sac_ by the way he had entered,
giving his pursuers the slip. This bold manoeuvre took the pirate
admiral by surprise, and being in the vessel that was much the nearest
to the Anne, he up helm, and was plumped on the shoal with strong way on
him, in less than five minutes! The instant the governor saw this, he
hauled his wind and beat back again, passing the broadside of the ship
with perfect impunity, her people being too much occupied with their own
situation, to think of their guns, or of molesting him.

The strange ship had run aground within half a mile of the spot where
the twelve-pounder was planted, and that gun now opened on her with
great effect. She lay quartering to this new enemy, and the range was no
sooner obtained, than every shot hulled her. The governor now landed,
and went to work seriously, first ordering the Anne carried through the
pass, to place her beyond the reach of the brigs. A forge happened to be
in the Anne, to make some repairs to her iron work, and this forge, a
small one it was true, was taken ashore, and an attempt was made to heat
some shot in it. The shot had been put into the forge an hour or two
before, but a fair trial was not made until the whole apparatus was
landed. For the next hour the efforts of both sides were unremitted. One
of the brigs went to the assistance of the admiral, while the other
endeavoured to silence the gun, which was too securely placed, however,
to mind her broadsides. One shot hulling her, soon drove her to leeward;
after which, all the attention of the pirates was bestowed on their

The admiral, beyond all doubt, was very awkwardly placed. He had the
whole width of the shoal to leeward of him, could only get off by
working directly in the face of the fire, and had gone on with seven
knots way on his ship. The bottom was a soft mud; and the colonists knew
that nothing but anchors laid to windward, with a heavy strain and a
good deal of lightening, would ever take that vessel out of her soft
berth. Of this fact the pirates themselves soon began to be convinced,
for they were seen pumping out their water. As for the brigs, they were
by no means well handled. Instead of closing with the battery, and
silencing the gun, as they might have done, they kept aloof, and even
rendered less assistance to the ship than was in their power. In point
of fact, they were in confusion, and manifested that want of order and
submission to authority, as well as self-devotion, that would have been
shown among men in an honest service: guilt paralysed their efforts,
rendering them timid and distrustful.

After near two hours of cannonading, during which the colonists had
done the pirates a good deal of damage, and the pirates literally had
not injured the colonists at all, the governor was ready with his hot
shot, which he had brought to something more than a red heat. The gun
was loaded with great care, and fired, after having been deliberately
pointed by the governor himself. The ship was hulled, and a trifling
explosion followed on board. That shot materially added to the confusion
among the pirates, and it was immediately followed by another, which
struck, also. It was now so apparent that confusion prevailed among the
pirates, that the governor would not take the time necessary to put in
the other hot shot, but he loaded and fired as fast as he could, in the
ordinary way.

In less than a quarter of an hour after the first hot shot was fired,
smoke poured out of the admiral's main-deck ports; and, two minutes
later, it was succeeded by flames.

From that moment the result of the conflict was no longer doubtful. The
pirates, among whom great confusion prevailed, even previously to this
disaster, now lost all subordination, and it was soon seen that each man
worked for himself, striving to save as much as he could of his
ill-gotten plunder. The governor understood the state of the enemy, and,
though prudence could scarcely justify his course, he determined to
press him to the utmost. The Anne and Martha were both brought back
through the pass, and the twelve-pounder was taken on board the former,
there being room to fight it between her masts. As soon as this was
done, the two craft bore down on the brigs, which were, by this time, a
league to leeward of the burning ship, their commanders having carried
them there to avoid the effects of the expected explosion. The admiral
and his crew saved themselves in the boats, abandoning nearly all their
property, and losing a good many men. Indeed, when the last boat left
the ship, there were several of her people below, so far overcome by
liquor, as to be totally helpless. These men were abandoned too, as were
all the wounded, including Waally, who had lost an arm by the fire of
the battery.

Neither did the governor like the idea of passing very near the ship,
which had now been burning fully an hour. In going to leeward, he gave
her a berth, and it was well he did, for she blew up while the Anne and
Martha, as it was, were considerably within a quarter of a mile of her.
The colonists ever afterwards considered an incident connected with this
explosion, as a sort of Providential manifestation of the favour of
Heaven. The Martha was nearest to the ship, at the instant of her final
disaster, and very many fragments were thrown around her; a few even on
her decks. Among the last was a human body, which was cast a great
distance in the air, and fell, like a heavy clod, across the gunwale of
the sloop. This proved to be the body of Waally, one of the arms having
been cut away by a shot, three hours before! Thus perished a constant
and most wily enemy of the colony, and who had, more than once, brought
it to the verge of destruction, by his cupidity and artifices.

From this moment, the pirates thought little of anything but of
effecting their retreat, and of getting out into open water again. The
governor saw this, and pressed them hard. The twelve-pounder opened on
the nearest brig, as soon as her shot would tell; and even the Martha's
swivel was heard, like the bark of a cur that joins in the clamour when
a strange dog is set upon by the pack of a village. The colonists on
shore flew into the settlements, to let it be known that the enemy was
retreating, when every dwelling poured out its inmates in pursuit. Even
the females now appeared in arms; there being no such incentive to
patriotism, on occasions of the kind, as the cry that the battle has
been won. Those whom it might have been hard to get within the sound of
a gun, a few hours before, now became valiant, and pressed into the van,
which bore a very different aspect, before a retreating foe, from that
which it presented on their advance.

In losing Waally, the strangers lost the only person among them who had
any pretension to be thought a pilot. He knew very little of the
channels to the Reef, at the best, though he had been there thrice; but,
now he was gone, no one left among them knew anything about them at all.
Under all the circumstances, therefore, it is not surprising that the
admiral should think more of extricating his two brigs from the narrow
waters, than of pursuing his original plan of conquest. It was not
difficult to find his way back by the road he had come; and that road he
travelled as fast as a leading breeze would carry him along it. But
retreat, as it now appeared, was not the only difficulty with which this
freebooter had to contend. It happened that no kind feeling existed
between the admiral and the officers of the largest of the brigs. So far
had their animosity extended, that the admiral had deemed it expedient
to take a large sum of money, which had fallen to the share of the
vessel in question, out of that brig, and keep it on board the ship, as
a guaranty that they would not run away with their craft. This
proceeding had not strengthened the bond between the parties; and
nothing had kept down the strife but the expectation of the large amount
of plunder that was to be obtained from the colony. That hope was now
disappointed; and, the whole time the two vessels were retiring before
the Anne and the Martha, preparations were making on board one of the
brigs to reclaim this ill-gotten treasure, and on board the other to
retain it. By a species of freemasonry peculiar to their pursuits, the
respective crews were aware of each other's designs; and when they
issued nearly abreast out of the passage, into the inner bay of the
Western Roads, one passed to the southward of the island, and the other
to the northward; the Anne and Martha keeping close in their wakes.

As the two vessels cleared the island and got into open water, the
struggle commenced in earnest; the disaffected brig firing into the
admiral. The broadside was returned, and the two vessels gradually
neared each other, until the canopies of smoke which accompanied their
respective movements became one. The combat now raged, and with a savage
warmth, for hours; both brigs running off the land under short canvas.
At length the firing ceased, and the smoke so far cleared away as to
enable the governor to take a look at the damages done. In this respect,
there was little to choose; each vessel having suffered, and seemingly
each about as much as the other. After consuming an hour or two in
repairing damages, the combat was renewed; when the two colony craft,
seeing no prospects of its soon terminating, and being now several
leagues to leeward of the group, hauled up for the roads again. The
brigs continued their fight, always running off before the wind, and
went out of sight, canopied by smoke, long after the reports of their
guns had become inaudible. This was the last the governor ever saw or
heard of these dangerous enemies.

Chapter XXIX.


_Venerable Axiom._

After this unlooked-for termination of what the colonists called the
'Pirate-War,' the colony enjoyed a long period of peace and prosperity.
The whaling business was carried on with great success, and many
connected with it actually got rich. Among these was the governor, who,
in addition to his other means, soon found himself in possession of more
money than he could profitably dispose of in that young colony. By his
orders, no less than one hundred thousand dollars were invested in his
name, in the United States six per cents, his friends in America being
empowered to draw the dividends, and, after using a due proportion in
the way of commissions, to re-invest the remainder to his credit.

Nature did quite as much as art, in bringing on the colony; the bounty
of God, as the industry of man. It is our duty, however, to allow that
the colonists did not so regard the matter. A great change came over
their feelings, after the success of the 'Pirate-War,' inducing them to
take a more exalted view of themselves and their condition than had been
their wont. The ancient humility seemed suddenly to disappear; and in
its place a vainglorious estimate of themselves and of their prowess
arose among the people. The word "people," too, was in everybody's
mouth, as if the colonists themselves had made those lovely islands,
endowed them with fertility, and rendered them what they were now fast
becoming--scenes of the most exquisite rural beauty, as well as
granaries of abundance. By this time, the palm-tree covered more or less
of every island; and the orange, lime, shaddock and other similar
plants, filled the air with the fragrance of their flowers, or rendered
it bright with the golden hues of their fruits. In short, everything
adapted to the climate was flourishing in the plantations, and plenty
reigned even in the humblest dwelling.

This was a perilous condition for the healthful humility of human
beings. Two dangers beset them; both coloured and magnified by a common
tendency. One was that of dropping into luxurious idleness--the certain
precursor, in such a climate, of sensual indulgences; and the other was
that of "waxing fat, and kicking." The tendency common to both, was to
place self before God, and not only to believe that they merited all
they received, but that they actually created a good share of it.

Of luxurious idleness, it was perhaps too soon to dread its worst
fruits. The men and women retained too many of their early habits and
impressions to drop easily into such a chasm; on the contrary, they
rather looked forward to producing results greater than any which had
yet attended their exertions. An exaggerated view of self, however, and
an almost total forgetfulness of God, took the place of the colonial
humility with which they had commenced their career in this new region.
These feelings were greatly heightened by three agents, that men
ordinarily suppose might have a very different effect--religion, law,
and the press.

When the Rancocus returned, a few months after the repulse of the
pirates, she had on board of her some fifty emigrants; the council still
finding itself obliged to admit the friends of families already settled
in the colony, on due application. Unhappily, among these emigrants were
a printer, a lawyer, and no less than four persons who might be named
divines. Of the last, one was a presbyterian, one a methodist,--the
third was a baptist, and the fourth a quaker. Not long after the arrival
of this importation, its consequences became visible. The sectaries
commenced with a thousand professions of brotherly love, and a great
parade of Christian charity; indeed they pretended that they had
emigrated in order to enjoy a higher degree of religious liberty than
was now to be found in America, where men were divided into sects,
thinking more of their distinguishing tenets than of the Being whom they
professed to serve. Forgetting the reasons which brought them from home,
or quite possibly carrying out the impulses which led them to resist
their former neighbours, these men set to work, immediately, to collect
followers, and believers after their own peculiar notions. Parson
Hornblower, who had hitherto occupied the ground by himself, but who was
always a good deal inclined to what are termed "distinctive opinions,"
buckled on his armour, and took the field in earnest. In order that the
sheep of one flock should not be mistaken for the sheep of another,
great care was taken to mark each and all with the brand of sect. One
clipped an ear, another smeared the wool (or drew it over the eyes) and
a third, as was the case with Friend Stephen Dighton, the quaker, put on
an entire covering, so that his sheep might be known by their outward
symbols, far as they could be seen. In a word, on those remote and sweet
islands, which, basking in the sun and cooled by the trades, seemed
designed by providence to sing hymns daily and hourly to their maker's
praise, the subtleties of sectarian faith smothered that humble
submission to the divine law by trusting solely to the mediation,
substituting in its place immaterial observances and theories which were
much more strenuously urged than clearly understood. The devil, in the
form of a "professor," once again entered Eden; and the Peak, with so
much to raise the soul above the grosser strife of men, was soon ringing
with discussions on "free grace," "immersion," "spiritual baptism," and
the "apostolical succession." The birds sang as sweetly as ever, and
their morning and evening songs hymned the praises of their creator as
of old; but, not so was it with the morning and evening devotions of
men. These last began to pray _at_ each other, and if Mr. Hornblower was
an exception, it was because his admirable liturgy did not furnish him
with the means of making these forays into the enemy's camp.

Nor did the accession of law and intelligence help the matter much.
Shortly after the lawyer made his appearance, men began to discover that
they were wronged by their neighbours, in a hundred ways which they had
never before discovered. Law, which had hitherto been used for the
purpose of justice, and of justice only, now began to be used for those
of speculation and revenge. A virtue was found in it that had never
before been suspected of existing in the colony; it being discovered
that men could make not only very comfortable livings, but, in some
cases, get rich, by the law; not by its practice, but by its practices.
Now came into existence an entire new class of philanthropists; men who
were ever ready to lend their money to such of the needy as possessed
property, taking judgment bonds, mortgages, and other innocent
securities, which were received because the lender always _acted on a
principle_ of not lending without them, or had taken a vow, or made
their wives promises; the end of all being a transfer of title, by which
the friendly assistant commonly relieved his dupe of the future care of
all his property. The governor soon observed that one of these
philanthropists rarely extended his saving hand, that the borrower did
not come out as naked as the ear of the corn that has been through the
sheller, or nothing but cob; and that, too, in a sort of patent-right
time. Then there were the labourers of the press to add to the influence
of those of religion and the law. The press took up the cause of human
rights, endeavouring, to transfer the power of the state from the public
departments to its own printing-office; and aiming at establishing all
the equality that can flourish when one man has a monopoly of the means
of making his facts to suit himself, leaving his neighbours to get along
under such circumstances as they can. But the private advantage secured
to himself by this advocate of the rights of all, was the smallest part
of the injury he did, though his own interests were never lost sight of,
and coloured all he did; the people were soon convinced that they had
hitherto been living under an unheard-of tyranny, and were invoked
weekly to arouse in their might, and be true to themselves and their
posterity. In the first place, not a tenth of them had ever been
consulted on the subject of the institutions at all, but had been
compelled to take them as they found them. Nor had the present
incumbents of office been placed in power by a vote of a majority, the
original colonists having saved those who came later to the island all
trouble in the premises. In these facts was an unceasing theme of
declamation and complaint to be found. It was surprising how little the
people really knew of the oppression under which they laboured, until
this stranger came amongst them to enlighten their understandings. Nor
was it less wonderful how many sources of wrong he exposed, that no one
had ever dreamed of having an existence. Although there was not a tax of
any sort laid in the colony, not a shilling ever collected in the way of
import duties, he boldly pronounced the citizens of the islands to be
the most overburthened people in Christendom! The taxation of England
was nothing to it, and he did not hesitate to proclaim a general
bankruptcy as the consequence, unless some of his own expedients were
resorted to, in order to arrest the evil. Our limits will not admit of a
description of the process by which this person demonstrated that a
people who literally contributed nothing at all, were overtaxed; but any
one who has paid attention to the opposing sides of a discussion on such
a subject, can readily imagine how easily such an apparent contradiction
can be reconciled, and the proposition demonstrated.

In the age of which we are writing, a majority of man kind fancied that
a statement made in print was far more likely to be true than one made
orally. Then he who stood up in his proper person and uttered his facts
on the responsibility of his personal character, was far less likely to
gain credit than the anonymous scribbler, who recorded his lie on paper,
though he made his record behind a screen, and half the time as much
without personal identity as he would be found to be without personal
character, were he actually seen and recognised. In our time, the press
has pretty effectually cured all observant persons at least of giving
faith to a statement merely because it is in print, and has become so
far alive to its own great inferiority as publicly to talk of
conventions to purify itself, and otherwise to do something to regain
its credit; but such was not the fact, even in America, forty years
since. The theory of an unrestrained press has fully developed itself
within the last quarter of a century, so that even the elderly ladies,
who once said with marvellous unction, "It must be true, for it's in
print," are now very apt to say, "Oh! it's only a newspaper _account_!"
The foulest pool has been furnished by a beneficent Providence with the
means of cleansing its own waters.

But the "Crater Truth-Teller" could utter its lies, as a privileged
publication, at the period of this narrative. Types still had a
sanctity; and it is surprising how much they deceived, and how many were
their dupes. The journal did not even take the ordinary pains to mystify
its readers, and to conceal its own cupidity, as are practised in
communities more advanced in civilization. We dare say that journals
_are_ to be found in London and Paris, that take just as great liberties
with the fact as the Crater Truth-Teller; but they treat their readers
with a little more outward respect, however much they may mislead them
with falsehoods. Your London and Paris publics are not to be dealt with
as if composed of credulous old women, but require something like a
plausible mystification to throw dust in their eyes. They have a
remarkable proneness to believe that which they wish, it is true; but,
beyond that weakness, some limits are placed to their faith and
appearances must be a good deal consulted.

But at the crater no such precaution seemed to be necessary. It is true
that the editor did use the pronoun "we," in speaking of himself; but he
took all other occasions to assert his individuality, and to use his
journal diligently in its behalf. Thus, whenever he got into the law,
his columns were devoted to publicly maintaining his own side of the
question, although such a course was not only opposed to every man's
sense of propriety, but was directly flying into the teeth of the laws
of the land; but little did he care for that. He was a public servant,
and of course all he did was right. To be sure, other public servants
were in the same category, all they did being wrong; but he had the
means of telling his own story, and a large number of gaping dunces were
ever ready to believe him. His manner of filling his larder is
particularly worthy of being mentioned. Quite as often as once a week,
his journal had some such elegant article as this, viz:--"Our esteemed
friend, Peter Snooks"--perhaps it was Peter Snooks, _Esquire_--"has just
brought us a fair specimen of his cocoa-nuts, which we do not hesitate
in recommending to the housekeepers of the crater, as among the choicest
of the group." Of course, Squire Snooks was grateful for this puff, and
often brought _more_ cocoa-nuts. The same great supervision was extended
to the bananas, the bread-fruit, the cucumbers, the melons, and even the
squashes, and always with the same results to the editorial larder.
Once, however, this worthy did get himself in a quandary with his use of
the imperial pronoun. A mate of one of the vessels inflicted personal
chastisement on him, for some impertinent comments he saw fit to make on
the honest tar's vessel; and, this being matter of intense interest to
the public mind, he went into a detail of all the evolutions of the
combat. Other men may pull each other's noses, and inflict kicks and
blows, without the world's caring a straw about it; but the editorial
interest is too intense to be overlooked in this manner. A bulletin of
the battle was published; the editor speaking of himself always in the
plural, out of excess of modesty, and to avoid egotism(!) in three
columns which were all about himself, using such expressions as
these:--"_We_ now struck _our_ antagonist a blow with _our_ fist, and
followed this up with a kick of _our_ foot, and otherwise _we_ made an
assault on him that he will have reason to remember to his dying day."
Now, these expressions, for a time, set all the old women in the colony
against the editor, until he went into an elaborate explanation, showing
that his modesty was so painfully sensitive that he could not say _I_ on
any account, though he occupied three more columns of his paper in
explaining the state of _our_ feelings. But, at first, the cry went
forth that the battle had been of _two_ against _one_; and _that_ even
the simple-minded colonists set down as somewhat cowardly. So much for
talking about _we_ in the bulletin of a single combat!

The political, effects produced by this paper, however, were much the
most material part of its results. Whenever it offended and disgusted
its readers by its dishonesty, selfishness, vulgarity, and lies--and it
did this every week, being a hebdomadal--it recovered the ground it had
lost by beginning to talk of 'the people' and their rights. This the
colonists could not withstand. All their sympathies were enlisted in
behalf of him who thought so much of their rights; and, at the very
moment he was trampling on these rights, to advance his own personal
views, and even treating them with contempt by uttering the trash he
did, they imagined that he and his paper in particular, and its
doctrines in general, were a sort of gift from Heaven to form the
palladium of their precious liberties!

The great theory advanced by this editorial tyro, was, that a majority
of any community had a right to do as it pleased. The governor early
saw, not only the fallacies, but the danger of this doctrine; and he
wrote several communications himself, in order to prove that it was
false. If true, he contended it was true altogether; and that it must be
taken, if taken as an axiom at all, with its largest consequences. Now,
if a majority has a right to rule, in this arbitrary manner, it has a
right to set its dogmas above the commandments, and to legalize theft,
murder, adultery, and all the other sins denounced in the twentieth
chapter of Exodus. This was a poser to the demagogue, but he made an
effort to get rid of it, by excepting the laws of God, which he allowed
that even majorities were bound to respect. Thereupon, the governor
replied that the laws of God were nothing but the great principles which
ought to govern human conduct, and that his concession was an avowal
that there was a power to which majorities should defer. Now, this was
just as true of minorities as it was of majorities, and the amount of it
all was that men, in establishing governments, merely set up a standard
of principles which they pledged themselves to respect; and that, even
in the most democratical communities, all that majorities could legally
effect was to decide certain minor questions which, being necessarily
referred to some tribunal for decision, was of preference referred to
them. If there was a power superior to the will of the majority, in the
management of human affairs, then majorities were not supreme; and it
behooved the citizen to regard the last as only what they really are,
and what they were probably designed to be--tribunals subject to the
control of certain just principles.

Constitutions, or the fundamental law, the governor went on to say, were
meant to be the expression of those just and general principles which
should control human society, and as such should prevail over
majorities. Constitutions were expressly intended to defend the rights
of minorities; since without them, each question, or interest, might be
settled by the majority, as it arose. It was but a truism to say that
the oppression of the majority was the worst sort of oppression; since
the parties injured not only endured the burthen imposed by many, but
were cut off from the sympathy of their kind, which can alleviate much
suffering, by the inherent character of the tyranny.

There was a great deal of good sense, and much truth in what the
governor wrote, on this occasion; but of what avail could it prove with
the ignorant and short-sighted, who put more trust in one honeyed phrase
of the journal, that flourished about the 'people' and their 'rights,'
than in all the arguments that reason, sustained even by revelation,
could offer to show the fallacies and dangers of this new doctrine, As a
matter of course, the wiles of the demagogue were not without fruits.
Although every man in the colony, either in his own person, or in that
of his parent or guardian, had directly entered into the covenants of
the fundamental law, as that law then existed, they now began to quarrel
with its provisions, and to advance doctrines that would subvert
everything as established, in order to put something new and untried in
its place. _Progress_ was the great desideratum; and _change_ was the
hand-maiden of progress. A sort of 'puss in the corner' game was
started, which was to enable those who had no places to run into the
seats of those who had. This is a favourite pursuit of man, all over the
world, in monarchies as well as in democracies; for, after all that
institutions can effect, there is little change in men by putting on, or
in taking off ermine and robes, or in wearing 'republican simplicity,'
in office or out of office; but the demagogue is nothing but the
courtier, pouring out his homage in the gutters, instead of in an

Nor did the governor run into extremes in his attempts to restrain the
false reasoning and exaggerations of the demagogue and his deluded, or
selfish followers. Nothing would be easier than to demonstrate that
their notions of the rights of numbers was wrong, to demonstrate that
were their theories carried out in practice, there could be, and would
be nothing permanent or settled in human affairs; yet not only did each
lustrum, but each year, each month, each week, each hour, each minute
demand its reform. Society must be periodically reduced to its elements,
in order to redress grievances. The governor did not deny that men had
their natural rights, at the very moment he insisted that these rights
were just as much a portion of the minority as of the majority. He was
perfectly willing that equal laws should prevail, as equal laws did
prevail in the colony, though he was not disposed to throw everything
into confusion merely to satisfy a theory. For a long time, therefore,
he opposed the designs of the new-school, and insisted on his vested
rights, as established in the fundamental law, which had made him ruler
for life. But "it is hard to kick against the pricks." Although the
claim of the governor was in every sense connected with justice,
perfectly sacred, it could not resist the throes of cupidity,
selfishness, and envy. By this time, the newspaper, that palladium of
liberty, had worked the minds of the masses to a state in which the
naked pretension of possessing rights that were not common to everybody
else was, to the last degree, "tolerable and not to be endured." To such
a height did the fever of liberty rise, that men assumed a right to
quarrel with the private habits of the governor and his family, some
pronouncing him proud because he did not neglect his teeth, as the
majority did, eat when they ate, and otherwise presumed to be of
different habits from those around him. Some even objected to him
because he spat in his pocket-handkerchief, and did not blow his nose
with his fingers.

All this time, religion was running riot, as well as politics. The
next-door neighbours hated each other most sincerely, because they took
different views of regeneration, justification, predestination and all
the other subtleties of doctrine. What was remarkable, they who had the
most clouded notions of such subjects were the loudest in their
denunciations. Unhappily, the Rev. Mr. Hornblower, who had possession of
the ground, took a course which had a tendency to aggravate instead of
lessening this strife among the sects. Had he been prudent, he would
have proclaimed louder than ever "Christ, and him crucified;" but, he
made the capital mistake of going up and down, crying with the mob, "the
church, the church!" This kept constantly before the eyes and ears of
the dissenting part of the population--dissenting from his opinions if
not from an establishment--the very features that were the most
offensive to them. By "the church" they did not understand the same
divine institution as that recognised by Mr. Hornblower himself, but
surplices, and standing up and sitting down, and gowns, and reading
prayers out of a book, and a great many other similar observances, which
were deemed by most of the people relics of the "scarlet woman." It is
wonderful, about what insignificant matters men can quarrel, when they
wish to fall out. Perhaps religion, under these influences, had quite as
much to do with the downfall of the governor, which shortly after
occurred, as politics, and the newspaper, and the new lawyer, all of
which and whom did everything that was in their power to destroy him.

At length, the demagogues thought they had made sufficient progress to
spring their mine. The journal came out with a proposal to call a
convention, to alter and improve the fundamental law. That law contained
a clause already pointing out the mode by which amendments were to be
made in the constitution; but this mode required the consent of the
governor, of the council, and finally, of the people. It was a slow,
deliberative process, too, one by which men had time to reflect on what
they were doing, and so far protected vested rights as to render it
certain that no very great revolution could be effected under its
shadow. Now, the disaffected aimed at revolution--at carrying out,
completely the game of "puss in the corner," and it became necessary to
set up some new principle by which they could circumvent the old
fundamental law.

This was very easily accomplished in the actual state of the public
mind; it was only to carry out the doctrine of the sway of the majority
to a practical result; and this was so cleverly done as actually to put
the balance of power in the hands of the minority. There is nothing new
in this, however, as any cool-headed man may see in this enlightened
republic of our own, daily examples in which the majority-principle
works purely for the aggrandizement of a minority clique. It makes very
little difference how men are ruled; they will be cheated; for, failing
of rogues at head-quarters to perform that office for them, they are
quite certain to set to work to devise some means of cheating
themselves. At the crater this last trouble was spared them, the
opposition performing that office in the following ingenious manner.

The whole colony was divided into parishes, which exercised in
themselves a few of the minor functions of government. They had a
limited legislative power, like the American town meetings. In these
parishes, laws were passed, to require the people to vote 'yes' or 'no,'
in order to ascertain whether there should, or should not be, a
convention to amend the constitution. About one-fourth of the electors
attended these primary meetings, and of the ten meetings which were
held, in six "yes" prevailed by average majorities of about two votes in
each parish. This was held to be demonstration of the wishes of the
majority of the people to have a convention, though most of those who
staid away did so because they believed the whole procedure not only
illegal, but dangerous. Your hungry demagogue, however, is not to be
defeated by any scruples so delicate. To work these _elites_ of the
colony went, to organise an election for members of the convention. At
this election about a third of the electors appeared, the candidates
succeeding by handsome majorities, the rest staying away because they
believed the whole proceedings illegal. Thus fortified by the sacred
principle of the sway of majorities, these representatives of a
minority, met in convention, and formed an entirely new fundamental law;
one, indeed, that completely subverted the old one, not only in fact,
but in theory. In order to get rid of the governor to a perfect
certainty, for it was known that he could still command more votes for
the office than any other man in the colony, one article provided that
no person should hold the office of governor, either prospectively, or
perspectively, more than five years, consecutively. This placed Mr. Mark
Woolston on the shelf at the next election. Two legislative bodies were
formed, the old council was annihilated, and everything was done that
cunning could devise, to cause power and influence to pass into new
hands. This was the one great object of the whole procedure, and, of
course, it was not neglected.

When the new constitution was completed, it was referred back to the
people for approval. At this third appeal to the popular voice, rather
less than half of all the electors voted, the constitution being adopted
by a majority of one-third of those who did. By this simple, and
exquisite republican process, was the principle of the sway of
majorities vindicated, a new fundamental law for the colony provided,
and all the old incumbents turned out of office. 'Silence gives
consent,' cried the demagogues, who forgot they had no right to put
their questions!

Religion had a word to say in these changes. The circumstance that the
governor was an Episcopalian reconciled many devout Christians to the
palpable wrong that was done him; and it was loudly argued that a church
government of bishops, was opposed to republicanism, and consequently
ought not to be entertained by republicans. This charming argument,
which renders religious faith secondary to human institutions, instead
of human institutions secondary to religious faith, thus completely
putting the cart before the horse, has survived that distant revolution,
and is already flourishing in more eastern climes. It is as near an
approach to an idolatrous worship of self, as human conceit has recently

As a matter of course, elections followed the adoption of the new
constitution. Pennock was chosen governor for two years; the new lawyer
was made judge, the editor, secretary of state and treasurer; and other
similar changes were effected. All the Woolston connection were
completely laid on the shelf. This was not done so much by the electors,
with whom they were still popular, as by means of the nominating
committees. These nominating committees were expedients devised to place
the power in the hands of a few, in a government of the many. The rule
of the majority is so very sacred a thing that it is found necessary to
regulate it by legerdemain. No good republican ever disputes the
principle, while no sagacious one ever submits to it. There are various
modes, however, of defeating all 'sacred principles,' and this
particular 'sacred principle' among the rest. The simplest is that of
caucus nominations. The process is a singular illustration of the theory
of a majority-government. Primary meetings are called, at which no one
is ever present, but the wire-pullers and their puppets. Here very
fierce conflicts occur between the wire-pullers themselves, and these
are frequently decided by votes as close as majorities of one, or two.
Making the whole calculation, it follows that nominations are usually
made by about a tenth, or even a twentieth of the body of the electors;
and this, too, on the supposition that they who vote actually have
opinions of their own, as usually they have not, merely wagging their
tongues as the wires are pulled. Now, these nominations are conclusive,
when made by the ruling party, since there are no concerted means of
opposing them. A man must have a flagrantly bad character not to succeed
under a regular nomination, or he must be too honest for the body of the
electors; one fault being quite as likely to defeat him as the other.

In this way was a great revolution effected in the colony of the crater.
At one time, the governor thought of knocking the whole thing in the
head, by the strong arm; as he might have done, and would have been
perfectly justified in doing. The Kannakas were now at his command, and,
in truth, a majority of the electors were with him; but political
jugglery held them in duress. A majority of the electors of the state of
New York are, at this moment, opposed to universal suffrage, especially
as it is exercised in the town and village governments, but moral
cowardice holds them in subjection. Afraid of their own shadows, each
politician hesitates to 'bell the cat.' What is more, the select
aristocrats and monarchists are the least bold in acting frankly, and in
saying openly what they think; leaving that office to be discharged, as
it ever will be, by the men who--_true_ democrats, and not canting
democrats--willing to give the people just as much control as they know
how to use, or which circumstances will allow them to use beneficially
to themselves, do not hesitate to speak with the candour and manliness
of their principles. These men call things by their right names, equally
eschewing the absurdity of believing that nature intended rulers to
descend from male to male, according to the order of primogeniture, or
the still greater nonsense of supposing it necessary to obtain the most
thrifty plants from the hotbeds of the people, that they may be
transplanted into the beds of state, reeking with the manure of the

The governor submitted to the changes, through a love of peace, and
ceased to be anything more than a private citizen, when he had so many
claims to be first, and when, in fact, he had so long been first. No
sovereign on his throne, could write _Gratia Dei_ before his titles with
stricter conformity to truth, than Mark Woolston; but his right did not
preserve him from the ruthless plunder of the demagogue. To his
surprise, as well as to his grief, Pennock was seduced by ambition, and
he assumed the functions of the executive with quite as little visible
hesitation, as the heir apparent succeeds to his father's crown.

It would be untrue to say that Mark did not feel the change; but it is
just to add that he felt more concern for the future fate of the colony,
than he did for himself or his children. Nor, when he came to reflect on
the matter, was he so much surprised that he could be supplanted in this
way, under a system in which the sway of the majority was so much
lauded, when he did not entertain a doubt that considerably more than
half of the colony preferred the old system to the new, and that the
same proportion of the people would rather see him in the Colony House,
than to see John Pennock in his stead. But Mark--we must call him the
governor no longer--had watched the progress of events closely, and
began to comprehend them. He had learned the great and all-important
written in letters of gold, at every corner of the streets and highways
in a republic; for truth it is, and truth, those who press the foremost
on another path will the soonest discover it to be. The mass _may_
select their representatives, _may_ know them, and _may_ in a good
measure so far sway them, as to keep them to their duties; but when a
constituency assumes to enact the part of executive and judiciary, they
not only get beyond their depth, but into the mire. What _can_, what
_does_ the best-informed layman, for instance, know of the
qualifications of this or that candidate to fill a seat on the bench! He
has to take another's judgment for his guide; and a popular appointment
of this nature, is merely transferring the nomination from an
enlightened, and, what is everything, a RESPONSIBLE authority, to one
that is unavoidably at the mercy of second persons for its means of
judging, and is as IRRESPONSIBLE AS AIR.

At one time, Mark Woolston regretted that he had not established an
opposition paper, in order to supply an antidote for the bane; but
reflection satisfied him it would have been useless. Everything human
follows its law, until checked by abuses that create resistance. This is
true of the monarch, who misuses power until it becomes tyranny; of the
nobles, who combine to restrain the monarch, until the throes of an
aristocracy-ridden country proclaim that it has merely changed places
with the prince; of the people, who wax fat and kick! Everything human
is abused; and it would seem that the only period of tolerable condition
is the transition state, when the new force is gathering to a head, and
before the storm has time to break. In the mean time, the earth
revolves, men are born, live their time, and die; communities are formed
and are dissolved; dynasties appear and disappear; good contends with
evil, and evil still has its day; the whole, however, advancing slowly
but unerringly towards that great consummation, which was designed from
the beginning, and which is as certain to arrive in the end, as that the
sun sets at night and rises in the morning. The supreme folly of the
hour is to imagine that perfection will come before its stated time.

Chapter XXX.

"This is thy lesson, mighty sea!
Man calls the dimpled earth his own,
The flowery vale, the golden lea;
And on the wild gray mountain-stone
Claims nature's temple for his throne!
But where thy many voices sing
Their endless song, the deep, deep tone
Calls back his spirit's airy wing,
He shrinks into himself, when God is king!"


For some months after the change of government, Mark Woolston was
occupied in attending to the arrangement of his affairs, preparatory to
an absence of some length. Bridget had expressed a strong wish to visit
America once more, and her two eldest children were now of an age when
their education had got to be a matter of some solicitude. It was the
intention of their father to send them to Pennsylvania for that purpose,
when the proper time arrived, and to place them under the care of his
friends there, who would gladly take the charge. Recent events probably
quickened this intention, both as to feeling and time, for Mark was
naturally much mortified at the turn things had taken.

There was an obvious falling-off in the affairs of the colony from the
time it became transcendantly free. In religion, the sects ever had
fair-play, or ever since the arrival of the parsons, and that had been
running down, from the moment it began to run into excesses and
exaggerations. As soon as a man begins to _shout_ in religion, he may be
pretty sure that he is "hallooing before he is out of the woods." It is
true that all our feelings exhibit themselves, more or less, in
conformity to habits and manners, but there is something profane in the
idea that the spirit of God manifests it presence in yells and clamour,
even when in possession of those who have not been trained to the more
subdued deportment of reason and propriety. The shouting and declamatory
parts of religion may be the evil spirits growling and yelling before
they are expelled, but these must not be mistaken for the voice of the
Ancient of Days.

The morals decayed as religion obtained its false directions.
Self-righteousness, the inseparable companion of the quarrels of sects,
took the place of humility, and thus became prevalent that most
dangerous condition of the soul of man, when he imagines that _he_
sanctifies what he does; a frame of mind, by the way, that is by no
means strange to very many who ought to be conscious of their
unworthiness. With the morals of the colony, its prosperity, even in
worldly interests, began to lose ground. The merchants, as usual, had
behaved badly in the political struggle. The intense selfishness of the
caste kept them occupied with the pursuit of gain, at the most critical
moments of the struggle, or when their influence might have been of use;
and when the mischief was done, and they began to feel its consequences,
or, what to them was the same thing, to fancy that the low price of oil
in Europe was owing to the change of constitution at the Crater, they
started up in convulsed and mercenary efforts to counteract the evil,
referring all to money, and not manifesting any particular notions of
principles concerning the manner in which it was used. As the cooler
heads of the minority--perhaps we ought to say of the majority, for,
oddly enough, the minority now actually ruled in Craterdom, by carrying
out fully the principle of the sway of the majority--but, as the cooler
heads of the colony well understood that nothing material was to follow
from such spasmodic and ill-directed efforts, the merchants were not
backed in their rising, and, as commonly happens with the slave, the
shaking of their chains only bound them so much the tighter.

At length the Rancocus returned from the voyage on which she had sailed
just previously to the change in the constitution, and her owner
announced his intention to go in her to America, the next trip, himself.
His brothers, Heaton, Anne, their children, and, finally, Captain Betts,
Friend Martha, and their issue, all, sooner or later, joined the party;
a desire to visit the low shores of the Delaware once more, uniting with
the mortification of the recent changes, to induce them all to wish to
see the land of their fathers before they died. All the oil in the
colony was purchased by Woolston, at rather favourable prices, the last
quotations from abroad being low: the ex-governor disposed of most of
his movables, in order to effect so large an operation. He also procured
a glorious collection of shells, and some other light articles of the
sort, filling the ship as full as she could be stowed. It was then that
the necessity of having a second vessel became apparent, and Betts
determined to withdraw his brig from the fishery, and to go to America
in her. The whales had been driven off the original fishing-ground, and
the pursuit was no longer as profitable as it had been, three fish
having been taken formerly to one now; a circumstance the hierarchy of
the Crater did not fail to ascribe to the changes in the constitution,
while the journal attributed it to certain aristocratical tendencies
which, as that paper averred, had crept into the management of the

The vessels were loaded, the passengers disposing of as many of their
movables as they could, and to good advantage, intending to lay in fresh
supplies in Philadelphia, and using the funds thus obtained to procure a
freight for the brig. At the end of a month, both vessels were ready;
the different dwellings were transferred to new occupants, some by lease
and others by sales, and all those who contemplated a voyage to America
were assembled at the crater. Previously to taking leave of a place that
had become endeared to him by so many associations and interests, Mr.
Woolston determined to take the Anne, hiring her of the government for
that purpose--Governor Pennock condescendingly deciding that the public
interests would not suffer by the arrangement--and going in her once
more through the colony, on a tour of private, if not of official
inspection. Bridget, Heaton, Anne, and Captain Betts, were of the party;
the children being left at the crater, in proper custody.

The first visit was paid to Rancocus Island. Here the damage done by the
pirates had long been repaired; and the mills, kilns and other works,
were in a state of prosperous industry. The wild hogs and goats were
now so numerous as to be a little troublesome, particularly the former;
but, a good many being shot, the inhabitants did not despair of
successfully contending with them for the possession of the place. There
were cattle, also, on this island; but they were still tame, the cows
giving milk, and the oxen being used in the yoke. These were the
descendants of the single pair Woolston had sent across, less than
twelve years before, which had increased in an arithmetical proportion,
care having been taken not to destroy any. They now exceeded a hundred,
of whom quite half were cows; and the islanders occasionally treated
themselves to fresh beef. As cows had been brought into the colony in
every vessel that arrived, they were now in tolerably good numbers, Mark
Woolston himself disposing of no less than six when he broke up his
farming establishment for a visit to America. There were horses, too,
though not in as great numbers as there were cows and oxen. Boats were
so much used, that roadsters were very little needed; and this so much
the less, on account of the great steadiness of the trades. By this
time, everybody understood the last; and the different channels of the
group were worked through with almost the same facility as would have
been the case with so many highways. Nevertheless, horses were to be
found in the colony, and some of the husbandmen preferred them to the
horned cattle in working their lands.

A week was passed in visiting the group. Something like a consciousness
of having ill-treated Mark was to be traced among the people; and this
feeling was manifested under a well-known law of our nature, which
rendered those the most vindictive and morose, who had acted the worst.
Those who had little more to accuse themselves of than a compliant
submission to the wrong-doing of others, in political matters everywhere
the most numerous class of all, received their visiters well enough, and
in many instances they treated their guests with delicacy and
distinction. On the whole, however, the late governor derived but little
pleasure from the intercourse, so much mouthing imbecility being blended
with the expressions of regret and sympathy, as to cause him to mourn
over the compliance of his fellow-creatures, more than to rejoice at
their testimony in his own favour.

But, notwithstanding all these errors of man, nature and time had done
their work magnificently since the last "progress" of Woolston among the
islands. The channels were in nearly every instance lined with trees,
and the husbandry had assumed the aspect of an advanced civilization.
Hedges, beautiful in their luxuriance and flowers, divided the fields;
and the buildings which contribute to the comforts of a population were
to be found on every side. The broad plains of soft mud, by the aid of
the sun, the rains, the guano, and the plough, had now been some years
converted into meadows and arable lands; and those which still lay
remote from the peopled parts of the group, still nine-tenths of its
surface, were fast getting the character of rich pastures, where cattle,
and horses, and hogs were allowed to roam at pleasure. As the cock
crowed from the midst of his attendant party of hens and chickens, the
ex-governor in passing would smile sadly, his thoughts reverting to the
time when its predecessor raised its shrill notes on the naked rocks of
the Reef!

That Reef itself had undergone more changes than any other spot in the
colony, as the Peak had undergone fewer. The town by this time contained
more than two hundred buildings, of one sort and another, and the
population exceeded five hundred souls. This was a small population for
so many tenements; but the children, as yet, did not bear a just
proportion to the adults. The crater was the subject of what to Mark
Woolston was a most painful law-suit. From the first, he had claimed
that spot as his private property; though he had conceded its use to the
public, under a lease, since it was so well adapted, by natural
formation, to be a place of refuge when invasions were apprehended. But
the crater he had found barren, and had rendered fertile; the crater had
even seemed to him to be an especial gift of Providence bestowed on him
in his misery; and the crater was his by possession, as well as by other
rights, when he received strangers into his association. None of the
older inhabitants denied this claim. It is the last comers who are ever
the most anxious to dispute ancient rights. As they can possess none of
these established privileges themselves, they dislike that others
should enjoy them; and association places no restraints on their
cupidity. Pennock, once in the hands of "the people," was obliged to
maintain their rights, or what some among them chose to call their
rights; and he authorized the attorney-general to bring an action of
ejectment against the party in possession. Some pretty hard-faced
trickery was attempted in the way of legislation, in order to help along
the claim of the public; for, if the truth must be said, the public is
just as wont to resort to such unworthy means to effect its purposes as
private individuals, when it is deemed necessary. But there was little
fear of the "people's" failing; they made the law, and they administered
it, through their agents; the power being now so completely in their
hands that it required twice the usual stock of human virtue to be able
to say them nay, as had formerly been the case. God help the man whose
rights are to be maintained against the masses, when the immediate and
dependent nominees of those masses are to sit in judgment! If the
public, by any inadvertency, have had the weakness to select servants
that are superior to human infirmities, and who prefer to do right
rather than to do as their masters would have them, it is a weakness
that experience will be sure to correct, and which will not be often

The trial of this cause kept the Woolstons at the crater a week longer
than they would have remained. When the cause was submitted to the jury,
Mr. Attorney-General had a great deal to say about aristocracy and
privileged orders, as well as about the sacred rights of the people. To
hear him, one might have imagined that the Woolstons were princes in the
full possession of their hereditary states, and who were dangerous to
the liberties or the mass, instead of being what they really were,
citizens without one right more than the meanest man in the colony, and
with even fewer chances of maintaining their share of these common
rights, in consequence of the prejudice, and jealousy, and most of all,
the _envy_, of the majority. Woolston argued his own cause, making a
clear, forcible and manly appeal to the justice and good sense of the
jury, in vindication of his claims; which, on every legal as well as

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