Laurence, and Clara, and Charley, and little Alice had been attracted to other objects for two or three months past. They had sported in the gladsome sunshine of the present, and so had forgotten the shadowy region of the past, in the midst of which stood Grandfather’s chair. But now, in the autumnal twilight, illuminated by the flickering blaze of the wood-fire, they looked at the old chair, and thought that it had never before worn such an interesting aspect. There it stood in the venerable majesty of more than two hundred years. The light from the hearth quivered upon the flowers and foliage that were wrought into its oaken back; and the lion’s head at the summit seemed almost to move its jaws and shake its mane.
“Does little Alice speak for all of you?” asked Grandfather. “Do you wish me to go on with the adventures of the chair?’
“Oh yes, yes, Grandfather!” cried Clara. “The dear old chair! How strange that we should have forgotten it so long!”
“Oh, pray begin, Grandfather,” said Laurence, “for I think, when we talk about old times, it should be in the early evening, before the candles are lighted. The shapes of the famous persons who once sat in the chair will be more apt to come back, and be seen among us, in this glimmer and pleasant gloom, than they would in the vulgar daylight. And, besides, we can make pictures of all that you tell us among the glowing embers and white ashes.”
Our friend Charley, too, thought the evening the best time to hear Grandfather’s stories, because he could not then be playing out of doors. So finding his young auditors unanimous in their petition, the good old gentleman took up the narrative of the historic chair at the point where he had dropped it.
THE SALEM WITCHES.
“You recollect, my dear children,” said Grandfather, “that we took leave of the chair in 1692, while it was occupied by Sir William Phips. This fortunate treasure-seeker, you will remember, had come over from England, with King William’s commission, to be governor of Massachusetts. Within the limits of this province were now included the old colony of Plymouth, and the territories of Maine and Nova Scotia. Sir William Phips had likewise brought a new charter from the king, which served instead of a constitution, and set forth the method in which the province was to be governed.”
“Did the new charter allow the people all their former liberties?” inquired Laurence.
“No,” replied Grandfather. “Under the first charter, the people had been the source of all power. Winthrop, Endicott, Bradstreet, and the rest of them had been governors by the choice of the people, without any interference of the king. But henceforth the governor was to hold his station solely by the king’s appointment and during his pleasure; and the same was the case with the lieutenant-governor and some other high officers. The people, however, were still allowed to choose representatives; and the governor’s council was chosen by the General Court.”
“Would the inhabitants have elected Sir William Phips,” asked Laurence, “if the choice of governor had been left to them?”
“He might probably have been a successful candidate,” answered Grandfather; “for his adventures and military enterprises had gained him a sort of renown, which always goes a great way with the people. And he had many popular characteristics,–being a kind warm-hearted man, not ashamed of his low origin nor haughty in his present elevation. Soon after his arrival, he proved that he did not blush to recognize his former associates.”
“How was that?” inquired Charley.
“He made a grand festival at his new brick house, said Grandfather, “and invited all the ship-carpenters of Boston to be his guests. At the head of the table, in our great chair, sat Sir William Phips himself, treating these hard-handed men as his brethren, cracking jokes with them, and talking familiarly about old times. I know not whether he wore his embroidered dress; but I rather choose to imagine that he had on a suit of rough clothes, such as he used to labor in while he was Phips the ship-carpenter.”
“An aristocrat need not be ashamed of the trade,” observed Laurence; “for the Czar Peter the Great once served an apprenticeship to it.”
“Did Sir William Phips make as good a governor as he was a ship- carpenter?” asked Charley.
“History says but little about his merits as a ship-carpenter,” answered Grandfather; ” but, as a governor, a great deal of fault was found with him. Almost as soon as he assumed the government, he became engaged in a very frightful business, which might have perplexed a wiser and better cultivated head than his. This was the witchcraft delusion.”
And here Grandfather gave his auditors such details of this melancholy affair as he thought it fit for them to know. They shuddered to hear that a frenzy, which led to the death of many innocent persons, had originated in the wicked arts of a few children. They belonged to the Rev. Mr. Parris, minister of Salem. These children complained of being pinched and pricked with pins, and otherwise tormented by the shapes of men and women, who were supposed to have power to haunt them invisibly, both in darkness and daylight. Often in the midst of their family and friends the children would pretend to be seized with strange convulsions, and would cry out that the witches were afflicting them.
These stories spread abroad, and caused great tumult and alarm. From the foundation of New England, it had been the custom of the inhabitants, in all matters of doubt and difficulty, to look to their ministers for counsel. So they did now; but, unfortunately, the ministers and wise men were more deluded than the illiterate people. Cotton Mather, a very learned and eminent clergyman, believed that the whole country was full of witches and wizards, who had given up their hopes of heaven, and signed a covenant with the evil one.
Nobody could be certain that his nearest neighbor or most intimate friend was not guilty of this imaginary crime. The number of those who pretended to be afflicted by witchcraft grew daily more numerous; and they bore testimony against many of the best and worthiest people. A minister, named George Burroughs, was among the accused. In the months of August and September, 1692, he and nineteen other innocent men and women were put to death. The place of execution was a high hill, on the outskirts of Salem; so that many of the sufferers, as they stood beneath the gallows, could discern their own habitations in the town.
The martyrdom of these guiltless persons seemed only to increase the madness. The afflicted now grew bolder in their accusations. Many people of rank and wealth were either thrown into prison or compelled to flee for their lives. Among these were two sons of .old Simon Bradstreet, the last of the Puritan governors. Mr. Willard, a pious minister of Boston, was cried out upon as a wizard in open court. Mrs. Hale, the wife of the minister of Beverly, was likewise accused. Philip English, a rich merchant of Salem, found it necessary to take flight, leaving his property and business in confusion. But a short time afterwards, the Salem people were glad to invite him back.
“The boldest thing that the accusers did,” continued Grandfather, “was to cry out against the governor’s own beloved wife. Yes, the lady of Sir William Phips was accused of being a witch and of flying through the air to attend witch-meetings. When the governor heard this he probably trembled, so that our great chair shook beneath him.”
“Dear Grandfather,” cried little Alice, clinging closer to his knee, “is it true that witches ever come in the night-time to frighten little children?”
“No, no, dear little Alice,” replied Grandfather. “Even if there were any witches, they would flee away from the presence of a pure-hearted child. But there are none; and our forefathers soon became convinced that they had been led into a terrible delusion. All the prisoners on account of witchcraft were set free. But the innocent dead could not be restored to life and the hill where they were executed will always remind people of the saddest and most humiliating passage in our history.”
Grandfather then said that the next remarkable event, while Sir William Phips remained in the chair, was the arrival at Boston of an English fleet in 1698. It brought an army which was intended for the conquest of Canada. But a malignant disease, more fatal than the smallpox, broke out among the soldiers and sailors, and destroyed the greater part of them. The infection spread into the town of Boston, and made much havoc there. This dreadful sickness caused the governor and Sir Francis Wheeler, who was commander of the British forces, to give up all thoughts of attacking Canada.
“Soon after this,” said Grandfather, “Sir William Phips quarrelled with the captain of an English frigate, and also with the collector of Boston. Being a man of violent temper, he gave each of them a sound beating with his cane.”
“He was a bold fellow,” observed Charley, who was himself somewhat addicted to a similar mode or settling disputes.
“More bold than wise,” replied Grandfather; “for complaints were carried to the king, and Sir William Phips was summoned to England to make the best answer he could. Accordingly he went to London, where, in 1695, he was seized with a malignant fever, of which he died. Had he lived longer, he would probably have gone again in search of sunken treasure. He had heard of a Spanish ship, which was cast away in 1502, during the lifetime of Columbus. Bovadilla, Roldan, and many other Spaniards were lost in her, together with the immense wealth of which they had robbed the South American kings.”
“Why, Grandfather!” exclaimed Laurence, “what magnificent ideas the governor had! Only think of recovering all that old treasure which had lain almost two centuries under the sea! Methinks Sir William Phips ought to have been buried in the ocean when he died, so that he might have gone down among the sunken ships and cargoes of treasure which he was always dreaming about in his lifetime.”
“He was buried in one of the crowded cemeteries of London,” said Grandfather. “As he left no children, his estate was inherited by his nephew, from whom is descended the present Marquis of Normandy. The noble Marquis is not aware, perhaps, that the prosperity of his family originated in the successful enterprise of a New England ship- carpenter.”
THE OLD-FASHIONED SCHOOL.
“At the death of Sir William Phips,” proceeded Grandfather, “our chair was bequeathed to Mr. Ezekiel Cheever, a famous schoolmaster in Boston. This old gentleman came from London in 1637, and had been teaching school ever since; so that there were now aged men, grandfathers like myself, to whom Master Cheever had taught their alphabet. He was a person of venerable aspect, and wore a long white beard.”
“Was the chair placed in his school?” asked Charley.
“Yes, in his school,” answered Grandfather; “and we may safely say that it had never before been regarded with such awful reverence,–no, not even when the old governors of Massachusetts sat in it. Even you, Charley, my boy, would have felt some respect for the chair if you had seen it occupied by this famous schoolmaster.”
And here grandfather endeavored to give his auditors an idea how matters were managed in schools above a hundred years ago. As this will probably be an interesting subject to our readers, we shall make a separate sketch of it, and call it The Old-Fashioned School.
Now, imagine yourselves, my children, in Master Ezekiel Cheever’s school-room. It is a large, dingy room, with a sanded floor, and is lighted by windows that turn on hinges and have little diamond-shaped panes of glass. The scholars sit on long benches, with desks before them. At one end of the room is a great fireplace, so very spacious that there is room enough for three or four boys to stand in each of the chimney corners. This was the good old fashion of fireplaces when there was wood enough in the forests to keep people warm without their digging into the bowels of the earth for coal.
It is a winter’s day when we take our peep into the school-room. See what great logs of wood have been rolled into the fireplace, and what a broad, bright blaze goes leaping up the chimney! And every few moments a vast cloud of smoke is puffed into the room, which sails slowly over the heads of the scholars, until it gradually settles upon the walls and ceiling. They are blackened with the smoke of many years already.
Next look at our old historic chair! It is placed, you perceive, in the most comfortable part of the room, where the generous glow of the fire is sufficiently felt without being too intensely hot. How stately the old chair looks, as if it remembered its many famous occupants, but yet were conscious that a greater man is sitting in it now! Do you see the venerable schoolmaster, severe in aspect, with a black skullcap on his head, like an ancient Puritan, and the snow of his white beard drifting down to his very girdle? What boy would dare to play; or whisper, or even glance aside from his book; while Master Cheever is on the lookout behind his spectacles? For such offenders, if any such there be, a rod of birch is hanging over the fireplace, and a heavy ferule lies on the master’s desk.
And now school is begun. What a murmur of multitudinous tongues, like the whispering leaves of a wind-stirred oak, as the scholars con over their various tasks! Buzz! buzz! buzz! Amid just such a murmur has Master Cheever spent above sixty years; and long habit has made it as pleasant to him as the hum of a beehive when the insects are busy in the sunshine.
Now a class in Latin is called to recite. Forth steps a rowel queer- looking little fellows, wearing square-skirted coats and small-clothes, with buttons at the knee. They look like so many grandfathers in their second-childhood. These lads are to be sent to Cambridge and educated for the learned professions. Old Master Cheever had lived so long, and seen so many generations of school-boys grow up to be men, that now he can almost prophesy what sort of a man each boy will be. One urchin shall hereafter be a doctor, and administer pills and potions, and stalk gravely through life, perfumed with assafoetida. Another shall wrangle at the bar, and fight his way to wealth and honors and, in his declining age, shall be a worshipful member of his Majesty’s council. A third-and he is the master’s favorite–shall be a worthy successor to the old Puritan ministers now in their graves; he shall preach with great unction and effect, and leave volumes of sermons, in print and manuscript, for the benefit of future generations.
But, as they are merely school-boys now, their business is to construe Virgil. Poor Virgil! whose verses, which he took so much pains to polish, have been misscanned, and misparsed, and misinterpreted by so many generations of idle school-boys. There, sit down, ye Latinists. Two or three of you, I fear, are doomed to feel the master’s ferule.
Next comes a class in arithmetic. These boys are to be the merchants, shopkeepers, and mechanics of a future period. Hitherto they have traded only in marbles and apples. Hereafter some will send vessels to England for broadcloths and all sorts of manufactured wares, and to the West Indies for sugar, and rum, and coffee. Others will stand behind counters, and measure tape, and ribbon, and cambric by the yard. Others will upheave the blacksmith’s hammer, or drive the plane over the carpenter’s bench, or take the lapstone and the awl and learn the trade of shoemaking. Many will follow the sea, and become bold, rough sea- captains.
This class of boys, in short, must supply the world with those active, skilful hands, and clear, sagacious heads, without which the affairs of life would be thrown into confusion by the theories of studious and visionary men. Wherefore, teach them their multiplication-table, good Master Cheever, and whip them well when they deserve it; for much of the country’s welfare depends on these boys.
But, alas! while, we have been thinking of other matters, Master Cheever’s watchful eye has caught two boys at play. Now we shall see awful times. The two malefactors are summoned before the master’s chair, wherein he sits with the terror of a judge upon his brow. Our old chair is now a judgment-seat. Ah, Master Cheever has taken down that terrible birch rod! Short is the trial,–the sentence quickly passed,–and now the judge prepares to execute it in person. Thwack! thwack! thwack! In these good old times, a schoolmaster’s blows were well laid on.
See, the birch rod has lost several of its twigs, and will hardly serve for another execution. Mercy on his, what a bellowing the urchins make! My ears are almost deafened, though the clamor comes through the far length of a hundred and fifty years. There, go to your seats, poor boys; and do not cry, sweet little Alice, for they have ceased to feel the pain a long time since.
And thus the forenoon passes away. Now it is twelve o’clock. The master looks at his great silver watch, and then, with tiresome deliberation, puts the ferule into his desk. The little multitude await the word of dismissal with almost irrepressible impatience.
“You are dismissed,” says Master Cheever.
The boys retire, treading softly until they have passed the threshold; but, fairly out of the schoolroom, lo, what a joyous shout! what a scampering and trampling of feet! what a sense of recovered freedom expressed in the merry uproar of all their voices! What care they for the ferule and birch rod now? Were boys created merely to study Latin and arithmetic? No; the better purposes of their being are to sport, to leap, to run, to shout, to slide upon the ice, to snowball.
Happy boys! Enjoy your playtime now, and come again to study and to feel the birch rod and the ferule to-morrow; not till to-morrow; for to-day is Thursday lecture; and, ever since the settlement of Massachusetts, there has been no school on Thursday afternoons. Therefore sport, boys, while you may, for the morrow cometh, with the birch rod and the ferule; and after that another morrow, with troubles of its own.
Now the master has set everything to rights, and is ready to go home to dinner. Yet he goes reluctantly. The old man has spent so much of his life in the smoky, noisy, buzzing school-room, that, when he has a holiday, he feels as if his place were lost and himself a stranger in the world. But forth he goes; and there stands our old chair, vacant and solitary, till good Master Cheever resumes his seat in it to-morrow morning.
“Grandfather,” said Charley, “I wonder whether the boys did not use to upset the old chair when the schoolmaster was out.”
“There is a tradition,” replied Grandfather, “that one of its arms was dislocated in some such manner. But I cannot believe that any school-boy would behave so naughtily.”
As it was now later than little Alice’s usual bedtime, Grandfather broke off his narrative, promising to talk more about Master Cheever and his scholars some other evening.
Accordingly, the next evening, Grandfather resumed the history of his beloved chair.
“Master Ezekiel Cheever,” said he, “died in 1707, after having taught school about seventy years. It would require a pretty good scholar in arithmetic to tell how many stripes he had inflicted, and how many birch rods he had worn out, during all that time, in his fatherly tenderness for his pupils. Almost all the great men of that period, and for many years back, had been whipped into eminence by Master Cheever. Moreover, he had written a Latin Accidence, which was used in schools more than half a century after his death; so that the good old man, even in his grave, was still the cause of trouble and stripes to idle schoolboys.”
Grandfather proceeded to say, that, when Master Cheever died, he bequeathed the chair to the most learned man that was educated at his school, or that had ever been born in America. This was the renowned Cotton Mather, minister of the Old North Church in Boston.
“And author of the Magnalia, Grandfather, which we sometimes see you reading,” said Laurence.
“Yes, Laurence,” replied Grandfather. “The Magnalia is a strange, pedantic history, in which true events and real personages move before the reader with the dreamy aspect which they wore in Cotton Mather’s singular mind. This huge volume, however, was written and published before our chair came into his possession. But, as he was the author of more books than there are days in the year, we may conclude that he wrote a great deal while sitting in this chair.”
“I am tired of these schoolmasters and learned men,” said Charley. “I wish some stirring man, that knew how to do something in the world, like Sir William Phips, would sit in the chair.”
“Such men seldom have leisure to sit quietly in a chair,” said Grandfather. “We must make the best of such people as we have.”
As Cotton Mather was a very distinguished man, Grandfather took some pains to give the children a lively conception of his character. Over the door of his library were painted these words, BE SHORT,–as a warning to visitors that they must not do the world so much harm as needlessly to interrupt this great man’s wonderful labors. On entering the room you would probably behold it crowded, and piled, and heaped with books. There were huge, ponderous folios, and quartos, and little duodecimos, in English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldaic, and all other languages that either originated at the confusion of Babel or have since come into use.
All these books, no doubt, were tossed about in confusion, thus forming a visible emblem of the manner in which their contents were crowded into Cotton Mather’s brain. And in the middle of the room stood table, on which, besides printed volumes, were strewn manuscript sermons, historical tracts, and political pamphlets, all written in such a queer, blind, crabbed, fantastical hand, that a writing-master would have gone raving mad at the sight of them. By this table stood Grandfather’s chair, which seemed to have contracted an air of deep erudition, as if its cushion were stuffed with Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and other hard matters.
In this chair, from one year’s end to another, sat that prodigious bookworm, Cotton Mather, sometimes devouring a great book, and sometimes scribbling one as big. In Grandfather’s younger days there used to be a wax figure of him in one of the Boston museums, representing a solemn, dark-visaged person, in a minister’s black gown, and with a black-letter volume before him.
“It is difficult, my children,” observed Grandfather, “to make you understand such a character as Cotton Mather’s, in whom there was so much good, and yet so many failings and frailties. Undoubtedly he was a pious man. Often he kept fasts; and once, for three whole days, he allowed himself not a morsel of food, but spent the time in prayer and religious meditation. Many a live-long night did he watch and pray. These fasts and vigils made him meagre and haggard, and probably caused him to appear as if he hardly belonged to the world.”
“Was not the witchcraft delusion partly caused by Cotton Mather?” inquired Laurence.
“He was the chief agent of the mischief,” answered Grandfather; “but we will not suppose that he acted otherwise than conscientiously. He believed that there were evil spirits all about the world. Doubtless he imagined that they were hidden in the corners and crevices of his library, and that they peeped out from among the leaves of many of his books, as he turned them over, at midnight. He supposed that these unlovely demons were everywhere, in the sunshine as well as in the darkness, and that they were hidden in men’s hearts, and stole into their most secret thoughts.”
Here Grandfather was interrupted by little Alice, who hid her face in his lap, and murmured a wish that he would not talk any more about Cotton Mather and the evil spirits. Grandfather kissed her, and told her that angels were the only spirits whom she had anything to do with.
He then spoke of the public affairs of the period.
A new War between France and England had broken out in 1702, and had been raging ever since. In the course of it, New England suffered much injury from the French and Indians, who often came through the woods from Canada and assaulted the frontier towns. Villages were sometimes burned, and the inhabitants slaughtered, within a day’s ride of Boston. The people of New England had a bitter hatred against the French, not only for the mischief which they did with their own hands, but because they incited the Indians to hostility.
The New-Englanders knew that they could never dwell in security until the provinces of France should be subdued and brought under the English government. They frequently, in time of war, undertook military expeditions against Acadia and Canada, and sometimes besieged the fortresses by which those territories were defended. But the most earnest wish of their hearts was to take Quebec, and so get possession of the whole province of Canada. Sir William Phips had once attempted it, but without success.
Fleets and soldiers were often sent from England to assist the colonists in their warlike undertakings. In 1710 Port Royal, a fortress of Acadia, was taken by the English. The next year, in the month of June, a fleet, commanded by Admiral Sir Hovenden Walker, arrived in Boston Harbor. On board of this fleet was the English General Hill, with seven regiments of soldiers, who had been fighting under the Duke of Marlborough in Flanders. The government of Massachusetts was called upon to find provisions for the army and fleet, and to raise more men to assist in taking Canada.
What with recruiting and drilling of soldiers, there was now nothing but warlike bustle in the streets of Boston. The drum and fife, the rattle of arms, and the shouts of boys were heard from morning till night. In about a month the fleet set sail, carrying four regiments from New England and New York, besides the English soldiers. The whole army amounted to at least seven thousand men. They steered for the mouth of the river St. Lawrence.
“Cotton Mather prayed most fervently for their success,” continued Grandfather, “both in his pulpit and when he kneeled down in the solitude of his library, resting his face on our old chair. But Providence ordered the result otherwise. In a few weeks tidings were received that eight or nine of the vessels had been wrecked in the St. Lawrence, and that above a thousand drowned soldiers had been washed ashore on the banks of that mighty river. After this misfortune Sir Hovenden Walker set sail for England; and many pious people began to think it a sin even to wish for the conquest of Canada.”
“I would never give it up so,” cried Charley.
“Nor did they, as we shall see,” replied Grandfather. “However, no more attempts were made during this war, which came to a close in 1713. The people of New England were probably glad of some repose; for their young men had been made soldiers, till many of them were fit for nothing else. And those who remained at home had been heavily taxed to pay for the arms, ammunition; fortifications, and all the other endless expenses of a war. There was great need of the prayers of Cotton Mather and of all pious men, not only on account of the sufferings of the people, but because the old moral and religious character of New England was in danger of being utterly lost.”
“How glorious it would have been,” remarked Laurence, “if our forefathers could have kept the country unspotted with blood!”
“Yes,” said Grandfather; “but there was a stern, warlike spirit in them from the beginning. They seem never to have thought of questioning either the morality or piety of war.”
The next event which Grandfather spoke of was one that Cotton Mather, as well as most of the other inhabitants of New England, heartily rejoiced at. This was the accession of the Elector of Hanover to the throne of England, in 1714, on the death of Queen Anne. Hitherto the people had been in continual dread that the male line of the Stuarts, who were descended from the beheaded King Charles and the banished King James, would be restored to the throne.
“The importance of this event,” observed Grandfather, “was a thousand times greater than that of a Presidential election in our own days. If the people dislike their President, they may get rid of him in four years; whereas a dynasty of kings may wear the crown for an unlimited period.”
The German elector was proclaimed king from the balcony of the town- house in Boston, by the title of George I.; while the trumpets sounded and the people cried amen. That night the town was illuminated; and Cotton Mather threw aside book and pen, and left Grandfathers chair vacant, while he walked hither and thither to witness the rejoicings.
THE REJECTED BLESSING.
“COTTON MATHER,” continued Grandfather,” was a bitter enemy to Governor Dudley; and nobody exulted more than he when that crafty politician was removed from the government, and succeeded by Colonel Shute. This took place in 1716. The new governor had been an officer in the renowned Duke of Marlborough’s army, and had fought in some of the great battles in Flanders.”
“Now I hope,” said Charley, “we shall hear of his doing great things.”
“I am afraid you will be disappointed, Charley,” answered Grandfather. “It is true that Colonel Shute had probably never led so unquiet a life while fighting the French as he did now, while governing this province of Massachusetts Bay. But his troubles consisted almost entirely of dissensions with the Legislature. The king had ordered him to lay claim to a fixed salary; but the representatives of the people insisted upon paying him only such sums from year to year as they saw fit.”
Grandfather here explained some of the circumstances that made the situation of a colonial governor so difficult and irksome. There was not the same feeling towards the chief magistrate now that had existed while he was chosen by the free suffrages of the people, it was felt that as the king appointed the governor, and as he held his office during the king’s pleasure, it would be his great object to please the king. But the people thought that a governor ought to have nothing in view but the best interests of those whom he governed.
“The governor,” remarked Grandfather, “had two masters to serve,–the king, who appointed him; and the people, on whom he depended for his pay. Few men in this position would have ingenuity enough to satisfy either party. Colonel Shute, though a good-natured, well-meaning man, succeeded so ill with the people, that, in 1722, he suddenly went away to England and made Complaint to King George. In the meantime Lieutenant-Governor Dummer directed the affairs of the province, and carried on a long and bloody war with the Indians.”
“But where was our chair all this time?” asked Clara.
“It still remained in Cotton Mather’s library,” replied Grandfather; “and I must not omit to tell you an incident which is very much to the honor of this celebrated man. It is the more proper, too, that you should hear it, because it will show you what a terrible calamity the smallpox was to our forefathers. The history of the province (and, of course, the history of our chair) would be incomplete without particular mention of it.”
Accordingly Grandfather told the children a story, to which, for want of a better title, we shall give that of The Rejected Blessing.
One day, in 1721, Doctor Cotton Mather sat in his library reading a book that had been published by the Royal Society of London. But every few moments he laid the book upon the table, and leaned back in Grandfather’s chair with an aspect of deep care and disquietude. There were certain things which troubled him exceedingly, so that he could hardly fix his thoughts upon what he read.
It was now a gloomy time in Boston. That terrible disease; the small- pox, had recently made its appearance in the town. Ever since the first settlement of the country this awful pestilence had come at intervals, and swept away multitudes of the inhabitants. Whenever it commenced its ravages, nothing seemed to stay its progress until there were no more victims for it to seize upon. Oftentimes hundreds of people at once lay groaning with its agony; and when it departed, its deep footsteps were always to be traced in many graves.
The people never felt secure from this calamity. Sometimes, perhaps, it was brought into the country by a poor sailor, who had caught the infection in foreign parts, and came hither to die and to be the cause of many deaths. Sometimes, no doubt, it followed in the train of the pompous governors when they came over from England. Sometimes the disease lay hidden in the cargoes of ships, among silks, and brocades, and other costly merchandise which was imported for the rich people to wear. And sometimes it started up seemingly of its own accord, and nobody could tell whence it came. The physician, being called to attend the sick person, would look at him, and say, “It is the small-pox! Let the patient be carried to the hospital.”
And now this dreadful sickness had shown itself again in Boston. Cotton Mather was greatly afflicted for the sake of the whole province. He had children, too, who were exposed to the danger. At that very moment he heard the voice of his youngest son, for whom his heart was moved with apprehension.
“Alas! I fear for that poor child,” said Cotton Mather to himself. “What shall I do for my son Samuel?”
Again he attempted to drive away these thoughts by taking up the book which he had been reading. And now, all of a sudden, his attention became fixed. The book contained a printed letter that an Italian physician had written upon the very subject about .which Cotton Mather was so anxiously meditating. He ran his eye eagerly over the pages; and, behold! a method was disclosed to him by which the small-pox might be robbed of its worst terrors. Such a method was known in Greece. The physicians of Turkey, too, those long-bearded Eastern sages, had been acquainted with it for many years. The negroes of Africa, ignorant as they were, had likewise practised it, and thus had shown themselves wiser than the white men.
“Of a truth,” ejaculated Cotton Mather, clasping his hands and looking up to heaven, “it was a merciful Providence that brought this book under mine eye. I will procure a consultation of physicians, and see whether this wondrous inoculation may not stay the progress of the destroyer.”
So he arose from Grandfather’s chair and went out of the library. Near the door he met his son Samuel, who seemed downcast and out of spirits. The boy had heard, probably, that some of his playmates were taken ill with the small-pox. But, as his father looked cheerfully at him, Samuel took courage, trusting that either the wisdom of so learned a minister would find some remedy for the danger, or else that his prayers would secure protection from on high.
Meanwhile Cotton Mather took his staff and three-cornered hat and walked about the streets, calling at the houses of all the physicians in Boston. They were a very wise fraternity; and their huge wigs, and black dresses, and solemn visages made their wisdom appear even profounder than it was. One after another he acquainted them with the discovery which he had hit upon.
But the grave and sagacious personages would scarcely listen to him. The oldest doctor in town contented himself with remarking that no such thing as inoculation was mentioned by Galen or Hippocrates; and it was impossible that modern physicians should be wiser than those old sages. A second held up his hands in dumb astonishment and horror at the mad- ness of what Cotton Mather proposed to do. A third told him, in pretty plain terms, that he knew not what he was talking about. A fourth requested, in the name of the whole medical fraternity, that Cotton Mather would confine his attention to people’s souls, and leave the physicians to take care of their bodies. In short, there was but a single doctor among them all who would grant the poor minister so much as a patient hearing, This was Doctor Zabdiel Boylston. He looked into the matter like a man of sense, and finding, beyond a doubt, that inoculation had rescued many from death, he resolved to try the experiment in his own family.
And so he did. But when the other physicians heard of it they arose in great fury and began a war of words, written, printed, and spoken, against Cotton Mather and Doctor Boylston. To hear them talk, you would have supposed that these two harmless and benevolent men had plotted the ruin of the country.
The people, also, took the alarm. Many, who thought themselves more pious than their neighbors, contended that, if Providence had ordained them to die of the small-pox, it was sinful to aim at preventing it. The strangest reports were in circulation. Some said that Doctor Boylston had contrived a method for conveying the gout, rheumatism, sick- headache, asthma, and all other diseases from one person to another, and diffusing them through the whole community. Others flatly affirmed that the evil one had got possession of Cotton Mather, and was at the bottom of the whole business.
You must observe, children, that Cotton Mather’s fellow-citizens were generally inclined to doubt the wisdom of any measure which he might propose to them. They recollected how he had led them astray in the old witchcraft delusion; and now, if he thought and acted ever so wisely, it was difficult for him to get the credit of it.
The people’s wrath grew so hot at his attempt to guard them from the small-pox that he could not walk the streets in peace. Whenever the venerable form of the old minister, meagre and haggard with fasts and vigils, was seen approaching, hisses were heard, and shouts of derision, and scornful and bitter laughter. The women snatched away their children from his path, lest he should do them a mischief. Still, however, bending his head meekly, and perhaps stretching out his hands to bless those who reviled him, he pursued his way. But the tears came into his eyes to think how blindly the people rejected the means of safety that were offered them.
Indeed, there were melancholy sights enough in the streets of Boston to draw forth the tears of a compassionate man. Over the door of almost every dwelling a red flag was fluttering in the air. This was the signal that the small-pox had entered the house and attacked some member of the family; or perhaps the whole family, old and young, were struggling at once with the pestilence. Friends and relatives, when they met one another in the streets, would hurry onward without a grasp of the hand or scarcely a word of greeting, lest they should catch or communicate the contagion; and often a coffin was borne hastily along.
“Alas! alas!” said Cotton Mather to himself, “what shall be done for this poor, misguided people? Oh that Providence would open their eyes, and enable them to discern good from evil!”
So furious, however, were the people, that they threatened vengeance against any person who should dare to practise inoculation, though it were only in his own family. This was a hard case for Cotton Mather, who saw no other way to rescue his poor child Samuel from the disease. But he resolved to save him, even if his house should be burned over his head.
“I will not be turned aside,” said he. “My townsmen shall see that I have faith in this thing, when I make the experiment on my beloved son, whose life is dearer to me than my own. And when I have saved Samuel, peradventure they will be persuaded to save themselves.”
Accordingly Samuel was inoculated; and so was Mr. Walter, a son-in-law of Cotton Mather. Doctor Boyleston, likewise, inoculated many persons; and while hundreds died who had caught the contagion from the garments of the sick, almost all were preserved who followed the wise physician’s advice.
But the people were not yet convinced of their mistake. One night a destructive little instrument, called a hand-grenade, was thrown into Cotton Mather’s window, and rolled under Grandfather’s chair. It was supposed to be filled with gunpowder, the explosion of which would have blown the poor minister to atoms. But the best informed historians are of opinion that the grenade contained only brimstone and assafoetida, and was meant to plague Cotton Mather with a very evil perfume.
This is no strange thing in human experience. Men who attempt to do the world mere good than the world is able entirely to comprehend are almost invariably held in bad odor. But yet, if the wise and good man can wait awhile, either the present generation or posterity will do him justice. So it proved in the case which we have been speaking of. In after years, when inoculation was universally practised, and thousands were saved from death by it, the people remembered old Cotton Mather, then sleeping in his grave. They acknowledged that the very thing for which they had so reviled and persecuted him was the best and wisest thing he ever did.
“Grandfather, this is not an agreeable story,” observed Clara.
“No, Clara,” replied Grandfather. “But it is right that you should know what a dark shadow this disease threw over the times of our forefathers. And now, if you wish to learn more about Cotton Mather, you must read his biography, written by Mr. Peabody, of Springfield. You will find it very entertaining and instructive; but perhaps the writer is somewhat too harsh in his judgment of this singular man. He estimates him fairly, indeed, and understands him well; but he unriddles his character rather by acuteness than by sympathy. Now, his life should have been written by one who, knowing all his faults, would nevertheless love him.”
So Grandfather made an end of Cotton Mather, telling his auditors that he died in 1728, at the age of sixty-five, and bequeathed the chair to Elisha Cooke. This gentleman was a famous advocate of the people’s rights.
The same year William Burner, a son of the celebrated Bishop Burnet, arrived in Boston with the commission of governor. He was the first that had been appointed since the departure of Colonel Shute, Governor Burnet took up his residence with Mr. Cooke while the Province House was undergoing repairs. During this period he was always complimented with a seat in Grandfather’s chair; and so comfortable did he find it, that, on removing to the Province House, he could not bear to leave it behind him. Mr. Cooke, therefore, requested his acceptance of it.
“I should think,” said Laurence, “that the people would have petitioned the king always to appoint a native-born New-Englander to govern them.”
“Undoubtedly it was a grievance,” answered Grandfather, “to see men placed in this station who perhaps had neither talents nor virtues to fit them for it, and who certainly could have no natural affection for the country. The king generally bestowed the governorships of the American colonies upon needy noblemen, or hangers-on at court, or disbanded officers. The people knew that such persons would be very likely to make the good of the country subservient to the wishes of the king. The Legislature, therefore, endeavored to keep as much power as possible in their own hands, by refusing to settle a fixed salary upon the governors. It was thought better to pay them according to their deserts.”
“Did Governor Burner work well for his money?” asked Charley.
Grandfather could not help smiling at the simplicity of Charley’s question. Nevertheless, it put the matter in a very plain point of view.
He then described the character of Governor Bur-net, representing him as a good scholar, possessed of much ability, and likewise of unspotted integrity. His story affords a striking example how unfortunate it is for a man, who is placed as ruler over a country to be compelled to aim at anything but the good of the people. Governor Burnet was so chained down by his instructions from the king that he could not act as he might otherwise have wished. Consequently, his whole term of office was wasted in quarrels with the Legislature.
“I am afraid, children,” said Grandfather, “that Governor Burner found but little rest or comfort in our old chair. Here he used to sit, dressed in a coat which was made of rough, shaggy cloth outside, but of smooth velvet within. It was said that his own character resembled that coat; for his outward manner was rough, but his inward disposition soft and kind. It is a pity that such a man could not have been kept free from trouble. But so harassing were his disputes with the representatives of the people that he fell into a fever, of which he died in 1729. The Legislature had refused him a salary while alive; but they appropriated money enough to give him a splendid and pompous funeral.”
And now Grandfather perceived that little Alice had fallen fast asleep, with her head upon his footstool. Indeed, as Clara observed, she had been sleeping from the time of Sir Hovenden Walker’s expedition against Quebec until the death of Governor Burnet,–a period of about eighteen years. And yet, after so long a nap, sweet little Alice was a golden- haired child of scarcely five years old.
“It puts me in mind,” said Laurence, “of the story of the enchanted princess, who slept many a hundred years, and awoke as young and beautiful as ever.”
POMPS AND VANITIES.
A FEW evenings afterwards, cousin Clara happened inquire of Grandfather whether the old chair had never been present at a ball. At the same time little Alice brought forward a doll, with whom she had been holding a long conversation.
“See, Grandfather! “cried she. “Did such a pretty lady as this ever sit in your great chair?”
These questions led Grandfather to talk about the fashions and manners which now began to be introduced from England into the provinces. The simplicity of the good old Puritan times was fast disappearing. This was partly owing to the increasing number and wealth of the inhabitants, and to the additions which they continually received by the arrival and settlement of people from beyond the sea.
Another cause of a pompous and artificial mode of life, among those who could afford it, was that the example was set by the royal governors. Under the old charter, the governors were the representatives of the people, and therefore their way of living had probably been marked by a popular simplicity. But now, as they represented the person of the king, they thought it necessary to preserve the dignity of their station by the practice of high and gorgeous ceremonials. And, besides, the profitable offices under the government were filled by men who had lived in London, and had there contracted fashionable and luxurious habits of living which they would not now lay aside. The wealthy people of the province imitated them; and thus began a general change in social life.
“So, my dear Clara,” said Grandfather, “after our chair had entered the Province House, it must often have been present at balls and festivals; though I cannot give you a description of any particular one. But I doubt not that they were very magnificent; and slaves in gorgeous liveries waited on the guests, and offered them wine in goblets of massive silver.”
“Were there slaves in those days!” exclaimed Clara.
“Yes, black slaves and white,” replied Grandfather. “Our ancestors not only brought negroes from Africa, but Indians from South America, and white people from Ireland. These last were sold, not for life, but for a certain number of years, in order to pay the expenses of their voyage across the Atlantic. Nothing was more common than to see a lot of likely Irish girls advertised for sale in the newspapers. As for the little negro babies, they were offered to be giver away like young kittens.”
“Perhaps Alice would have liked one to play with, instead of her doll,” said Charley, laughing.
But little Alice clasped the waxen doll closer to her bosom.
“Now, as for this pretty doll, my little Alice,” said Grandfather, “I wish you could have seen what splendid dresses the ladies wore in those times. They had silks, and satins, and damasks, and brocades, and high head-dresses, and all sorts of fine things. And they used to wear hooped petticoats of such enormous size that it was quite a journey to walk round them.”
“And how did the gentlemen dress?” asked Charley.
“With full as much magnificence as the ladies,” answered Grandfather. “For their holiday suits they had coats of figured velvet, crimson, green, blue, and all other gay colors, embroidered with gold or silver lace. Their waistcoats, which were five times as large as modern ones, were very splendid. Sometimes the whole waistcoat, which came down almost to the knees, was made of gold brocade.”
“Why, the wearer must have shone like a golden image!” said Clara.
“And then,” continued Grandfather, “they wore various sorts of periwigs, such as the tie, the Spencer, the brigadier, the major, the Albemarle, the Ramillies, the feather-top, and the full-bottom. Their three- cornered hats were laced with gold or silver. They had shining buckles at the knees of their small-clothes, and buckles likewise in their shoes. They wore swords with beautiful hilts, either of silver, or sometimes of polished steel, inlaid with gold.”
“Oh, I should like to wear a sword!” cried Charley.
“And an embroidered crimson velvet coat,” said Clara, laughing, “and a gold brocade waistcoat down to your knees.”
“And knee-buckles and shoe-buckles,” said Laurence, laughing also.
“And a periwig,” added little Alice, soberly, not knowing what was the article of dress which she recommended to our friend Charley.
Grandfather smiled at the idea of Charley’s sturdy little figure in such a grotesque caparison. He then went on with the history of the chair, and told the children that, in 1730, King George II. appointed Jonathan Belcher to be governor of Massachusetts in place of the deceased Governor Burner. Mr. Belcher was a native of the province, but had spent much of his life in Europe.
The new governor found Grandfather’s chair in the Province House. He was struck with its noble and stately aspect, but was of opinion that age and hard services had made it scarcely so fit for courtly company as when it stood in the Earl of Lincoln’s hall. Wherefore, as Governor Belcher was fond of splendor, he employed a skilful artist to beautify the chair. This was done by polishing and varnishing it, and by gilding the carved work of the elbows, and likewise the oaken flowers of the back. The lion’s head now shone like a veritable lump of gold. Finally Governor Belcher gave the chair a cushion of blue damask, with a rich golden fringe.
“Our good old chair being thus glorified,” proceeded Grandfather, “it glittered with a great deal more splendor than it had exhibited just a century before, when the Lady Arbella brought it over from England. Most people mistook it for a chair of the latest London fashion. And this may serve for an example, that there is almost always an old and timeworn substance under all the glittering show of new invention.”
“Grandfather, I cannot see any of the gilding,” remarked Charley, who had been examining the chair very minutely.
“You will not wonder that it has been rubbed off,” replied Grandfather, “when you hear all the adventures that have since befallen the chair. Gilded it was; and the handsomest room in the Province House was adorned by it.”
There was not much to interest the children in what happened during the years that Governor Belcher remained in the chair. At first, like Colonel Shute and Governor Burner, he was engaged in disputing with the Legislature about his salary. But, as he found it impossible to get a fixed sum, he finally obtained the king’s leave to accept whatever the Legislature chose to give him. And thus the people triumphed, after this long contest for the privilege of expending their own money as they saw fit.
The remainder of Governor Belcher’s term of office was principally taken up in endeavoring to settle the currency. Honest John Hull’s pine-tree shillings had long ago been worn out, or lost, or melted down again; and their place was supplied by bills of paper or parchment, which were nominally valued at threepence and upwards. The value of these bills kept continually sinking, because the real hard money could not be obtained for them. They were a great deal worse than the old Indian currency of clam-shells. These disorders of the circulating medium were a source of endless plague and perplexity to the rulers and legislators, not only in Governor Belcher’s days, but for many years before and afterwards.
Finally the people suspected that Governor Belcher was secretly endeavoring to establish the Episcopal mode of worship in the provinces. There was enough of the old Puritan spirit remaining to cause most of the true sons of New England to look with horror upon such an attempt. Great exertions were made to induce the king to remove the governor. Accordingly, in 1740, he was compelled to resign his office, and Grandfather’s chair into the bargain, to Mr. Shirley.
THE PROVINCIAL MUSTER.
“WILLIAM SHIRLEY,” said Grandfather, “had come from England a few years before, and begun to practise law in Boston. You will think, perhaps, that, as he had been a lawyer, the new governor used to sit in our great chair reading heavy law-books from morning till night. On the contrary, he was as stirring and active a governor as Massachusetts ever had. Even Sir William Phips hardly equalled him. The first year or two of his administration was spent in trying to regulate the currency. But in 1744, after a peace of more than thirty years, war broke out between France and England.”
“And I suppose,” said Charley, “the governor went to take Canada.”
“Not exactly, Charley,” said Grandfather;” though you have made a pretty shrewd conjecture. He planned, in 1745, an expedition against Louisburg. This was a fortified city, on the island of Cape Breton, near Nova Scotia. Its walls were of immense height and strength, and were defended by hundreds of heavy cannon. It was the strongest fortress which the French possessed in America; and if the king of France had guessed Governor Shirley’s intentions, he would have sent all the ships he could muster to protect it.”
As the siege of Louisburg was one of the most remarkable events that ever the inhabitants of New England were engaged in, Grandfather endeavored to give his auditors a lively idea of the spirit with which they set about it. We shall call his description The Provincial Muster.
The expedition against Louisburg first began to be thought of in the month of January. From that time the governor’s chair was continually surrounded by councillors, representatives, clergymen, captains, pilots, and all manner of people, with whom he consulted about this wonderful project.
First of all, it was necessary to provide men and arms. The Legislature immediately sent out a huge quantity of paper-money, with which, as if by magic spell, the governor hoped to get possession of all the old cannon, powder and balls, rusty swords and muskets, and everything else that would be serviceable in killing Frenchmen. Drums were beaten in all the villages of Massachusetts to enlist soldiers for the service. Messages were sent to the other governors of New England, and to New York and Pennsylvania, entreating them to unite in this crusade against the French. All these provinces agreed to give what assistance they could.
But there was one very important thing to be decided. Who shall be the general of this great army? Peace had continued such an unusual length of time that there was now less military experience among the colonists than at any former period. The old Puritans had always kept their weapons bright, and were never destitute of warlike captains who were skilful in assault or defence. But the swords of their descendents had grown rusty by disuse. There was nobody in New England that knew anything about sieges or any other regular fighting. The only persons at all acquainted with warlike business were a few elderly men, who had hunted Indians through the underbrush of the forest in old Governor Dummer’s War.
In this dilemma Governor Shirley fixed upon a wealthy merchant, named William Pepperell, who was pretty well known and liked among the people. As to military skill, he had no more of it than his neighbors. But, as the governor urged him very pressingly, Mr. Pepperell consented to shut up his ledger, gird on a sword, and assume the title of general.
Meantime, what a hubbub was raised by this scheme! Rub-a-dub-dub! rub-a- dub-dub! The rattle of drums, beaten out of all manner of time, was heard above every other sound.
Nothing now was so valuable as arms, of whatever style and fashion they might be. The bellows blew, and the hammer clanged continually upon the anvil, while the blacksmiths were repairing the broken weapons of other wars. Doubtless some of the soldiers lugged out those enormous, heavy muskets which used to be fired, with rests, in the time of the early Puritans. Great horse-pistols, too, were found, which would go off with a bang like a cannon. Old cannon, with touchholes almost as big as their muzzles, were looked upon as inestimable treasures. Pikes which, perhaps, had been handled by Miles Standish’s soldiers, now made their appearance again. Many a young man ransacked the garret and brought forth his great-grandfather’s sword, corroded with rust and stained with the blood of King Philip’s War.
Never had there been such an arming as this, when a people, so long peaceful, rose to the war with the best weapons that they could lay their hands upon. And still the drums were heard–rub-a-dub-dub! rub-a- dub-dub!–in all the towns and villages; and louder and more numerous grew the trampling footsteps of the recruits that marched behind.
And now the army began to gather into Boston. Tan, lanky, awkward fellows came in squads, and companies, and regiments, swaggering along, dressed in their brown homespun clothes and blue yarn stockings. They stooped as if they still had hold of the plough-handles, and marched without any time or tune. Hither they came, from the cornfields, from the clearing in the forest, from the blacksmith’s forge, from the carpenter’s workshop, and from the shoemaker’s seat. They were an army of rough faces and sturdy frames. A trained officer of Europe would have laughed at them till his sides had ached. But there was a spirit in their bosoms which is more essential to soldiership than to wear red coats and march in stately ranks to the sound of regular music.
Still was heard the beat of the drum,- rub-a-dub-dub! And now a host of three or four thousand men had found their way to Boston. Little quiet was there then! Forth scampered the school-boys, shouting behind the drums. The whole town, the whole land, was on fire with war.
After the arrival of the troops, they were probably reviewed upon the Common. We may imagine Governor Shirley and General Pepperell riding slowly along the line, while the drummers beat strange old tunes, like psalm-tunes, and all the officers and soldiers put on their most warlike looks. It would have been a terrible sight for the Frenchmen, could they but have witnessed it!
At length, on the 24th of March, 1745, the army gave a parting shout, and set sail from Boston in ten or twelve vessels which had been hired by the governor. A few days afterwards an English fleet, commanded by Commodore Peter Warren, sailed also for Louisburg to assist the provincial army. So now, after all this bustle of preparation, the town and province were left in stillness and repose.
But stillness and repose, at such a time of anxious expectation, are hard to bear. The hearts of the old people and women sunk within them when they reflected what perils they had sent their sons, and husbands, and brothers to encounter. The boys loitered heavily to School, missing the rub-a-dub-dub and the trampling march, in the rear of which they had so lately run and shouted. All the ministers prayed earnestly in their pulpits for a blessing on the army of New England. In every family, when the good man lifted up his heart in domestic worship, the burden of his petition was for the safety of those dear ones who were fighting under the walls of Louisburg.
Governor Shirley all this time was probably in an ecstasy of impatience. He could not sit still a moment. He found no quiet, not even in Grandfather’s chair; but hurried to and fro, and up and down the staircase of the Province House. Now he mounted to the cupola and looked seaward, straining his eyes to discover if there were a sail upon the horizon. Now he hastened down the stairs, and stood beneath the portal, on the red free-stone steps, to receive some mud-bespattered courier, from whom he hoped to hear tidings of the army. A few weeks after the departure of the troops, Commodore Warren sent a small vessel to Boston with two French prisoners. One of them was Monsieur Bouladrie, who had been commander of a battery outside the walls of Louisburg. The other was the Marquis de la Maison Forte, captain of a French frigate which had been taken by Commodore Warren’s fleet. These prisoners assured Governor Shirley that the fortifications of Louisburg were far too strong ever to be stormed by the provincial army.
Day after day and week after week went on. The people grew almost heart- sick with anxiety; for the flower of the country was at peril in this adventurous expedition. It .was now daybreak on the morning of the 3d of July.
But hark! what sound is this? The hurried clang of a bell! There is the Old North pealing suddenly out!–there the Old South strikes in!–now the peal comes from the church in Brattle Street!–the bells of nine or ten steeples are all flinging their iron voices at once upon the morning breeze! Is it joy, or alarm? There goes the roar of a cannon too! A royal salute is thundered forth. And now we hear the loud exulting shout of a multitude assembled in the street. Huzza! huzza! Louisburg has surrendered! Huzza!
“O Grandfather, how glad I should have been to live in those times!” cried Charley. “And what reward did the king give to General Pepperell and Governor Shirley?”
“He made Pepperell a baronet; so that he was now to be called Sir William Pepperell,” replied Grandfather. “He likewise appointed both Pepperell and Shirley to be colonels in the royal army. These rewards, and higher ones, were well deserved; for this was the greatest triumph that the English met with in the whole course of that war. General Pepperell became a man of great fame. I have seen a full-length portrait of him, representing him in a splendid scarlet uniform, standing before the walls of Louisburg, while several bombs are falling through the air.”
“But did the country gain any real good by the conquest of Louisburg?” asked Laurence. “Or was all the benefit reaped by Pepperell and Shirley?”
“The English Parliament,” replied Grandfather, “agreed to pay the colonists for all the expenses of the siege. Accordingly, in 1749, two hundred and fifteen chests of Spanish dollars and one hundred casks of copper coin were brought from England to Boston. The whole amount was about a million of dollars. Twenty-seven carts and trucks carried this money from the wharf to the provincial treasury. Was not this a pretty liberal reward?”
“The mothers of the young men who were killed at the siege of Louisburg would not have thought it so,” said Laurence.
“No; Laurence,” rejoined Grandfather; “and every warlike achievement involves an amount of physical and moral evil, for which all the gold in the Spanish mines would not be the slightest recompense. But we are to consider that this siege was one of the occasions on which the colonists tested their ability for war, and thus were prepared for the great contest of the Revolution. In that point of view, the valor of our forefathers was its own reward.”
Grandfather went on to say that the success of the expedition against Louisburg induced Shirley and Pepperell to form a scheme for conquering Canada, This plan, however, was not carried into execution.
In the year 1746 great terror was excited by the arrival of a formidable French fleet upon the coast It was commanded by the Duke d’Anville, and consisted of forty ships of war, besides vessels with soldiers on board. With this force the French intended to retake Louisburg, and afterwards to ravage the whole of New England. Many people were ready to give up the country for lost.
But the hostile fleet met with so many disasters and losses by storm and shipwreck, that the Duke d’Anville is said to have poisoned himself in despair. The officer next in command threw himself upon his sword and perished. Thus deprived of their commanders, the remainder of the ships returned to France. This was as great a deliverance for New England as that which Old England had experienced in the days of Queen Elizabeth, when the Spanish Armada was wrecked upon her coast.
“In 1747,” proceeded Grandfather, “Governor Shirley was driven from the Province House, not by a hostile fleet and army, but by a mob of the Boston people. They were so incensed at the conduct of the British Commodore Knowles, who had impressed some of their fellow-citizens, that several thousands of them surrounded the council chamber and threw stones and brickbats into the windows. The governor attempted to pacify them; but not succeeding, he thought it necessary to leave the town and take refuge within the walls of Castle William. Quiet was not restored until Commodore Knowles had sent back the impressed men. This affair was a flash of spirit that might have warned the English not to venture upon any oppressive measures against their colonial brethren.”
Peace being declared between France and England in 1748, the governor had now an opportunity to sit at his ease in Grandfather’s chair. Such repose, however, appears not to have suited his disposition; for in the following year he went to England, and thence was despatched to France on public business. Meanwhile, as Shirley had not resigned his office, Lieu-tenant-Governor Phips acted as chief magistrate in his stead.
THE OLD FRENCH WAR AND THE ACADIAN EXILES
IN the early twilight of Thanksgiving Eve came Laurence, and Clara, and Charley, and little Alice, hand in hand, and stood in a semicircle round Grandfather’s chair. They had been joyous throughout that day of festivity, mingling together in all kinds of play, so that the house had echoed with their airy mirth.
Grandfather, too, had been happy though not mirthful. He felt that this was to be set down as one of the good Thanksgivings of his life. In truth, all his former Thanksgivings had borne their part in the present one; for his years of infancy, and youth, and manhood, with their blessings and their griefs, had flitted before him while he sat silently in the great chair. Vanished scenes had been pictured in the air. The forms of departed friends had visited him. Voices to be heard no more on earth had sent an echo from the infinite and the eternal. These shadows, if such they were, seemed almost as real to him as what was actually present,–as the merry shouts and laughter of the children,–as their figures, dancing like sunshine before his eyes.
He felt that the past was not taken from him. The happiness of former days was a possession forever. And there was something in the mingled sorrow of his lifetime that became akin to happiness, after being long treasured in the depths of his heart. There it underwent a change, and grew more precious than pure gold.
And now came the children, somewhat aweary with their wild play, and sought the quiet enjoyment of Grandfather’s talk. The good old gentleman rubbed his eyes and smiled round upon them all. He was glad, as most aged people are, to find that he was yet of consequence, and could give pleasure to the world. After being so merry all day long, did these children desire to hear his sober talk? Oh, then, old Grandfather had yet a place to fill among living men,- or at least among boys and girls!
“Begin quick, Grandfather,” cried little Alice; “for pussy wants to hear you.”
And truly our yellow friend, the cat, lay upon the hearth-rug, basking in the warmth of the fire, pricking up her ears, and turning her head from the children to Grandfather, and from Grandfather to the children as if she felt herself very sympathetic with them all. A loud purr, like the singing of a tea-kettle or the hum of a spinning-wheel, testified that she was as comfortable and happy as a cat could be. For puss had feasted; and therefore, like Grandfather and the children, had kept a good Thanksgiving.
“Does pussy want to hear me?” said Grandfathers smiling. “Well, we must please pussy, if we can.”
And so he took up the history of the chair from the epoch of the peace of 1748. By one of the provisions of the treaty, Louisburg, which the New-Englanders had been at so much pains to take, was restored to the King of France.
The French were afraid that, unless their colonies should be better defended than heretofore, another war might deprive them of the whole. Almost as soon as peace was declared, therefore, they began to build strong fortifications in the interior of North America. It was strange to behold these warlike castles on the banks of solitary lakes and far in the midst of woods. The Indian, paddling his birch canoe on Lake Champlain, looked up at the high ramparts of Ticonderoga, stone piled on stone, bristling with cannon, and the white flag of France floating above. There were similar fortifications on Lake Ontario, and near the great Falls of Niagara, and at the sources of the Ohio River. And all around these forts and castles lay the eternal forest, and the roll of the drum died away in those deep solitudes.
The truth was, that the French intended to build forts all the way from Canada to Louisiana. They would then have had a wall of military strength at the back of the English settlements so as completely to hem them in. The King of England considered the building of these forts as a sufficient cause of war, which was accordingly commenced in 1754.
“Governor Shirley,” said Grandfather, “had returned to Boston in 1753. While in Paris he had married a second wife, a young French girl, and now brought her to the Province House. But when war was breaking out it was impossible for such a bustling man to stay quietly at home, sitting in our old chair, with his wife and children, round about him. He therefore obtained a command in the English forces.”
“And what did Sir William Pepperell do?” asked Charley.
“He stayed at home,” said Grandfather, “and was general of the militia. The veteran regiments of the English army which were now sent across the Atlantic would have scorned to fight under the orders of an old American merchant. And now began what aged people call the old French War. It would be going too far astray from the history of our chair to tell you one half of the battles that were fought. I cannot even allow myself to describe the bloody defeat of General Braddock, near the sources of the Ohio River, in 1755. But I must not omit to mention that, when the Eng- lish general was mortally wounded and his army routed, the remains of it were preserved by the skill and valor of George Washington.”
At the mention of this illustrious name the children started as if a sudden sunlight had gleamed upon the history of their country, now that the great deliverer had arisen above the horizon.
Among all the events of the old French War, Grandfather thought that there was none more interesting than the removal of the inhabitants of Acadia. From the first settlement of this ancient province of the French, in 1604, until the present time, its people could scarcely ever know what kingdom held dominion over them. They were a peaceful race, taking no delight in warfare, and caring nothing for military renown. And yet, in every war, their region was infested with iron-hearted soldiers, both French and English, who fought one another for the privilege of ill-treating these poor, harmless Acadians. Sometimes the treaty of peace made them subjects of one king, sometimes of another.
At the peace of 1748 Acadia had been ceded to England. But the French still claimed a large portion of it, and built forts for its defence. In 1755 these forts were taken, and the whole of Acadia was conquered by three thousand men from Massachusetts, under the command of General Winslow. The inhabitants were accused of supplying the French with provisions, and of doing other things that violated their neutrality.
“These accusations were probably true,” observed Grandfather; “for the Acadians were descended from the French, and had the same friendly feelings towards them that the people of Massachusetts had for the English. But their punishment was severe. The English determined to tear these poor people from their native homes and scatter them abroad.”
The Acadians were about seven thousand in number. A considerable part of them were made prisoners, and transported to the English colonies. All their dwellings and churches were burned, their cattle were killed, and the whole country was laid waste, so that none of them might find shelter or food in their old homes after the departure of the English. One thousand of the prisoners were sent to Massachusetts; and Grandfather allowed his fancy to follow them thither, and tried to give his auditors an idea of their situation.
We shall call this passage the story of
THE ACADIAN EXILES.
A sad day it was for the poor Acadians when the armed soldiers drove them, at the point of the bayonet, down to the sea-shore. Very sad were they, likewise, while tossing upon the ocean in the crowded transport vessels. But methinks it must have been sadder still when they were landed on the Long Wharf in Boston, and left to themselves on a foreign strand.
Then, probably, they huddled together and looked into one another’s faces for the comfort which was not there. Hitherto they had been confined on board of separate vessels, so that they could not tell whether their relatives and friends were prisoners along with them. But now, at least, they could tell that many had been left behind or transported to other regions.
Now a desolate wife might be heard calling for her husband. He, alas! had gone, she knew not whither; or perhaps had fled into the woods of Acadia, and had now returned to weep over the ashes of their dwelling.
An aged widow was crying out in a querulous, lamentable tone for her son, whose affectionate toil had supported her for many a. year. He was not in the crowd of exiles; and what could this aged widow do but sink down and die? Young men and maidens, whose hearts had been torn asunder by separation, had hoped, during the voyage, to meet their beloved ones at its close. Now they began to feel that they were separated forever. And perhaps a lonesome little girl, a golden-haired child of five years old, the very picture of our little Alice, was weeping and wailing for her mother, and found not a soul to give her a kind word.
Oh, how many broken bonds of affection were here! Country lost,–friends lost,–their rural wealth of cottage, field, and herds all lost together! Every tie between these poor exiles and the world seemed to be cut off at once. They must have regretted that they had not died before their exile; for even the English would not have been so pitiless as to deny them graves in their native soil. The dead were happy; for they were not exiles!
While they thus stood upon the wharf, the curiosity and inquisitiveness of the New England people would naturally lead them into the midst of the poor Acadians. Prying busybodies thrust their heads into the circle wherever two or three of the exiles were conversing together. How puzzled did they look at the outlandish sound of the French tongue! There were seen the New England women, too. They had just come out of their warm, safe homes, where everything was regular and comfortable, and where their husbands and children would be with them at nightfall. Surely they could pity the wretched wives and mothers of Acadia! Or aid the sign of the cross which the Acadians continually made upon their breasts, and which was abhorred by the descendants of the Puritans,–did that sign exclude all pity?
Among the spectators, too, was the noisy brood of Boston school-boys, who came running, with laughter and shouts, to gaze at this crowd of oddly dressed foreigners. At first they danced and capered around them, full of merriment and mischief. But the despair of the Acadians soon had its effect upon these thoughtless lads, and melted them into tearful sympathy.
At a little distance from the throng might be seen the wealthy and pompous merchants whose warehouses stood on Long Wharf. It was difficult to touch these rich men’s hearts; for they had all the comforts of the world at their command; and when they walked abroad their feelings were seldom moved, except by the roughness of the pavement irritating their gouty toes. Leaning upon their gold-headed canes, they watched the scene with an aspect of composure. But let us hype they distributed some of their superfluous coin among these hapless exiles to purchase food and a night’s lodging.
After standing a long time at the end of the wharf, gazing seaward, as if to catch a glimpse of their lost Acadia, the strangers began to stray into the town.
They went, we will suppose, in parties and groups, here a hundred, there a score, there ten, there three or four, who possessed some bond of unity among themselves. Here and there was one who, utterly desolate, stole away by himself, seeking no companionship.
Whither did they go? I imagine them wandering about the streets, telling the townspeople, in outlandish, unintelligible words, that no earthly affliction ever equalled what had befallen them. Man’s brotherhood with man was sufficient to make the New-Englanders understand this language. The strangers wanted food. Some of them sought hospitality at the doors of the stately mansions which then stood in the vicinity of Hanover Street and the North Square. Others were applicants at the humble wooden tenements, where dwelt the petty shopkeepers and mechanics. Pray Heaven that no family in Boston turned one of these poor exiles from their door! It would be a reproach upon New England,–a crime worthy of heavy retribution,–if the aged women and children, or even the strong men, were allowed to feel the pinch of hunger.
Perhaps some of the Acadians, in their aimless wanderings through the town, found themselves near a large brick edifice, which was fenced in from the street by an iron railing, wrought with fantastic figures. They saw a flight of red freestone steps ascending to a portal, above which was a balcony and balustrade. Misery and desolation give men the right of free passage everywhere. Let us suppose, then, that they mounted the flight of steps and passed into the Province House. Making their way into one of the apartments, they beheld a richly-clad gentleman, seated in a stately chair, with gilding upon the carved work of its back, and a gilded lion’s head at the summit. This was Governor Shirley, meditating upon matters of war and state, in Grandfather’s chair!
If such an incident did happen, Shirley, reflecting what a ruin of peaceful and humble hopes had been
wrought by the cold policy of the statesman and the iron band of the warrior, might have drawn a deep moral from it. It should have taught him that the poor man’s hearth is sacred, and that armies and nations have no right to violate it. It should have made him feel that England’s triumph and increased dominion could not compensate to mankind nor atone to Heaven for the ashes of a single Acadian cottage. But it is not thus that statesmen and warriors moralize.
“Grandfather,” cried Laurence, with emotion trembling in his voice, “did iron-hearted War itself ever do so hard and cruel a thing as this before?”
“You have read in history, Laurence, of whole regions wantonly laid waste,” said Grandfather. “In the removal of the Acadians, the troops were guilty of no cruelty or outrage, except what was inseparable from the measure.”
Little Alice, whose eyes had all along been brimming full of tears, now burst forth a-sobbing; for Grandfather had touched her sympathies more than he intended.
“To think of a whole people homeless in the world!’ said Clara, with moistened eyes. “There never was anything so sad!”
“It was their own fault!” cried Charley, energetically. “Why did not they fight for the country where they were born? Then, if the worst had happened to them, they could only have been killed and buried there. They would not have been exiles then.”
“Certainly their lot was as hard as death,” said Grandfather. “All that could be done for them in the English provinces was, to send them to the almshouses, or bind them out to taskmasters. And this was the fate of persons who had possessed a comfortable property in their native country. Some of them found means to embark for France; but though it was the land of their forefathers, it must have been a foreign land to them. Those who remained behind always cherished a belief that the King of France would never make peace with England till his poor Acadians were restored to their country and their homes.”
“And did he?” inquired Clara.
“Alas! my dear Clara,” said Grandfather, “it is improbable that the slightest whisper of the woes of Acadia ever reached the ears of Louis XV. The exiles grew old in the British provinces, and never saw Acadia again. Their descendants remain among us to this day. They have forgotten the language of their ancestors, and probably retain no tradition of their misfortunes. But, methinks, if I were an American poet, I would choose Acadia for the subject of my song.”
Since Grandfather first spoke these words, the most famous of American poets has drawn sweet tears from all of us by his beautiful poem Evangeline.
And now, having thrown a gentle gloom around the Thanksgiving fireside by a story that made the children feel the blessing of a secure and peaceful hearth, Grandfather put off the other events of the old French War till the next evening.
THE END OF THE WAR.
IN the twilight of the succeeding eve, when the red beams of the fire were dancing upon the wall, the children besought Grandfather to tell them what had next happened to the old chair.
“Our chair,” said Grandfather, “stood all this time in the Province House. But Governor Shirley had seldom an opportunity to repose within its arms. He was leading his troops through the forest, or sailing in a flat-boat on Lake Ontario, or sleeping in his tent, while the awful cataract of Niagara sent its roar through his dreams. At one period, in the early part of the war, Shirley had the chief command of all the king’s forces in America.”
“Did his young wife go with him to the war?” asked Clara.
“I rather imagine,” replied Grandfather, “that she remained in Boston. This lady, I suppose, had our chair all to herself, and used to sit in it during those brief intervals when a young Frenchwoman can be quiet enough to sit in a chair. The people of Massachusetts were never fond of Governor Shirley’s young French wife. They had a suspicion that she betrayed the military plans of the English to the generals of the French armies.”
“And was it true?” inquired Clara.
“Probably not,” said Grandfather. “But the mere suspicion did Shirley a great deal of harm. Partly, perhaps, for this reason, but much more on account of his inefficiency as a general, he was deprived of his command in 1756, and recalled to England. He never afterwards made any figure in public life.”
As Grandfather’s chair had no locomotive properties, and did not even run on castors, it cannot be supposed to have marched in person to the old French War. But Grandfather delayed its momentous history while he touched briefly upon some of the bloody battles, sieges, and onslaughts, the tidings of which kept continually coming to the ears of the old inhabitants of Boston. The woods of the North were populous with fighting men. All the Indian tribes uplifted their tomahawks, and took part either with the French or English. The rattle of musketry and roar of cannon disturbed the ancient quiet of the forest, and actually drove the bears and other wild beasts to the more cultivated portion of the country in the vicinity of the seaports. The children felt as if they were transported back to those forgotten times, and that the couriers from the army, with the news of a battle lost or won, might even now be heard galloping through the streets. Grandfather told them about the battle of Lake George in 1755, when the gallant Colonel Williams, a Massachusetts officer, was slain, with many of his countrymen. But General Johnson and General Lyman, with their army, drove back the enemy and mortally wounded the French leader, who was called the Baron Dieskau. A gold watch, pilfered from the poor baron, is still in existence, and still marks each moment of time without complaining of weariness, although its hands have been in motion ever since the hour of battle.
In the first years of the war there were many disasters on the English side. Among these was the loss of Fort Oswego in 1756, and of Fort William Henry in the following year. But the greatest misfortune that befell the English during the whole war was the repulse of General Abercrombie, with his army, from the ramparts of Ticonderoga in 1758. He attempted to storm the walls; but a terrible conflict ensued, in which more than two thousand Englishmen and New-Englanders were killed or wounded. The slain soldiers now lie buried around that ancient fortress. When the plough passes over the soil, it turns up here and there a mouldering bone.
Up to this period, none of the English generals had shown any military talent. Shirley, the Earl of Loudon, and General Abercrombie had each held the chief command at different times; but not one of them had won a single important triumph for the British arms. This ill success was not owing to the want of means: for, in 1758, General Abercrombie had fifty thousand soldiers under his command. But the French general, the famous Marquis de Montcalm, possessed a great genius for war, and had something within him that taught him how battles were to be won.
At length, in 1759, Sir Jeffrey Amherst was appointed commander-in-chief of all the British forces in America. He was a man of ability and a skilful soldier. A plan was now formed for accomplishing that object which had so long been the darling wish of the New-Englanders, and which their fathers had so many times attempted. This was the conquest of Canada.
Three separate armies were to enter Canada from different quarters. One of the three, commanded by General Prideaux, was to embark on Lake Ontario and proceed to Montreal. The second, at the head of which was Sir Jeffrey Amherst himself, was destined to reach the river St. Lawrence by the way of Lake Champlain, and then go down the river to meet the third army. This last, led by General Wolfe, was to enter the St. Lawrence from the sea and ascend the river to Quebec. It is to Wolfe and his army that England owes one of the most splendid triumphs ever written in her history.
Grandfather described the siege of Quebec, and told how Wolfe led his soldiers up a rugged and lofty precipice, that rose from the shore of the river to the plain on which the city stood. This bold adventure was achieved in the darkness of night. At daybreak tidings were carried to the Marquis de Montcalm that the English army was waiting to give him battle on the Plains of Abraham. This brave French general ordered his drums to strike up, and immediately marched to encounter Wolfe.
He marched to his own death. The battle was the most fierce and terrible that had ever been fought in America. General Wolfe was at the head of his soldiers, and, while encouraging them onward, received a mortal wound. He reclined against a stone in the agonies of death; but it seemed as if his spirit could not pass away while the fight yet raged so doubtfully. Suddenly a shout came pealing across the battle-field. “They flee! they flee!” and, for a moment, Wolfe lifted his languid head. “Who flee?” he inquired.
“The French,” replied an officer. “Then I die satisfied!” said Wolfe, and expired in the arms of victory.
“If ever a warrior’s death were glorious, Wolfe’s was so,” said Grandfather; and his eye kindled, though he was a man of peaceful thoughts and gentle spirit. “His life-blood streamed to baptize the soil which he had added to the dominion of Britain. His dying breath was mingled with his army’s shout of victory.”
“Oh, it was a good death to die!” cried Charley, with glistening eyes. “Was it not a good death, Laurence?”
Laurence made no reply; for his heart burned within him, as the picture of Wolfe, dying on the blood-stained field of victory, arose to his imagination; and yet he had a deep inward consciousness that, after all, there was a truer glory than could thus be won.
“There were other battles in Canada after Wolfe’s victory,” resumed Grandfather; “but we may consider the old French War as having terminated with this great event. The treaty of peace, however, was not signed until 1763. The terms of the treaty were very disadvantageous to the French; for all Canada, and all Acadia, and the Island of Cape Breton,–in short, all the territories that France and England had been fighting about for nearly a hundred years,–were surrendered to the English.”
“So now, at last,” said Laurence, “New England had gained her wish. Canada was taken.”
“And now there was nobody to fight with but the Indians,” said Charley.
Grandfather mentioned two other important events. The first was the great fire of Boston in 1760, when the glare from nearly three hundred buildings, all in flames at once, shone through the windows of the Province House, and threw a fierce lustre upon the gilded foliage and lion’s head of our old chair. The second event was the proclamation, in the same year, of George III. as King of Great Britain. The blast of the trumpet sounded from the balcony of the Town House, and awoke the echoes far and wide, as if to challenge all mankind to dispute King George’s title.
Seven times, as the successive monarchs of Britain ascended the throne, the trumpet peal of proclamation had been heard by those who sat in our venerable chair. But when the next king put on his father’s crown, no trumpet peal proclaimed it to New England. Long before that day America had shaken off the royal government.
NOW THAT Grandfather had fought through the old French War, in which our chair made no very distinguished figure, he thought it high time to tell the children some of the more private history of that praiseworthy old piece of furniture.
“In 1757,” said Grandfather, “after Shirley had been summoned to England, Thomas Pownall was appointed governor of Massachusetts. He was a gay and fashionable English gentleman, who had spent much of his life in London, but had a considerable acquaintance with America. The new governor appears to have taken no active part in the war that was going on; although, at one period, he talked of marching against the enemy at the head of his company of cadets. But, on the whole, he probably concluded that it was more befitting a governor to remain quietly in our chair, reading the newspapers and official documents.”
“Did the people like Pownall?” asked Charley.
“They found no fault with him,” replied Grandfather. “It was no time to quarrel with the governor when the utmost harmony was required in order to defend the country against the French. But Pownall did not remain long in Massachusetts. In 1759 he was sent to be governor of South Carolina. In thus exchanging one government for another, I suppose he felt no regret, except at the necessity of leaving Grandfather’s chair behind him.”
“He might have taken it to South Carolina,” observed Clara.
“It appears to me,” said Laurence, giving the rein to his fancy, “that the fate of this ancient chair was, somehow or other, mysteriously connected with the fortunes of old Massachusetts. If Governor Pownall had put it aboard the vessel in which he sailed for South Carolina, she would probably have lain wind-bound in Boston Harbor. It was ordained that the chair should not be taken away. Don’t you think so, Grandfather?”
“It was kept here for Grandfather and me to sit in together,” said little Alice, “and for Grandfather to tell stories about.”
“And Grandfather is very glad of such a companion and such a theme,” said the old gentleman, with a smile. “Well, Laurence, if our oaken chair, like the wooden palladium of Troy, was connected with the country’s fate, yet there appears to have been no supernatural obstacle to its removal from the Province House. In 1760 Sir Francis Bernard, who had been’ governor of New Jersey, was appointed to the same office in Massachusetts. He looked at the old chair, and thought it quite too shabby to keep company with a new set of mahogany chairs and an aristocratic sofa which had just arrived from London. He therefore ordered it to be put away in the garret.”
The children were loud in their exclamations against this irreverent conduct of Sir Francis Bernard. But Grandfather defended him as well as he could. He observed that it was then thirty years since the chair had been beautified by Governor Belcher. Most of the gilding was worn off by the frequent scourings which it had undergone beneath the hands of a black slave. The damask cushion, once so splendid, was now squeezed out of all shape, and absolutely in tatters, so many were the ponderous gentlemen who had deposited their weight upon it during these thirty years.
Moreover, at a council held by the Earl of Loudon with the governors of New England in 1757, his lordship, in a moment of passion, had kicked over the chair with his military boot. By this unprovoked and unjustifiable act, our venerable friend had suffered a fracture of one of its rungs.
“But,” said Grandfather, “our chair, after all, was not destined to spend the remainder of its days in the inglorious obscurity of a garret. Thomas Hutchinson, Lieutenant-governor of the province, was told of Sir Francis Bernard’s design. This gentleman was more familiar with the history of New England than any other man alive. He knew all the adventures and vicissitudes through which the old chair had passed, and could have told as accurately as your own Grandfather who were the personages that had occupied it. Often, while visiting at the Province House, he had eyed the chair with admiration, and felt a longing desire to become the possessor of it. He now waited upon Sir Francis Bernard, and easily obtained leave to carry it home.”
“And I hope,” said Clara, “he had it varnished and gilded anew.”
“No,” answered Grandfather. “What Mr. Hutchinson desired was, to restore the chair as much as possible to its original aspect, such as it had appeared when it was first made out of the Earl of Lincoln’s oak-tree. For this purpose he ordered it to be well scoured with soap and sand and polished with wax, and then provided it with a substantial leather cush- ion. When all was completed to his mind he sat down in the old chair, and began to write his History of Massachusetts.”
“Oh, that was a bright thought in Mr. Hutchinson,” exclaimed Laurence. “And no doubt the dim figures of the former possessors of the chair flitted around him as he wrote, and inspired him with a knowledge of all that they had done and suffered while on earth.”
“Why, my dear Laurence,” replied Grandfather, smiling, “if Mr. Hutchinson was favored with ally such extraordinary inspiration, he made but a poor use of it in his history; for a duller piece of composition never came from any man’s pen. However, he was accurate, at least, though far from possessing the brilliancy or philosophy of Mr. Bancroft.”
“But if Hutchinson knew the history of the chair,” rejoined Laurence, “his heart must have been stirred by it.”
“It must, indeed,” said Grandfather. “It would be entertaining and instructive, at the present day, to imagine what were Mr. Hutchinson’s thoughts as he looked back upon the long vista of events with which this chair was so remarkably connected.”
And Grandfather allowed his fancy to shape out an image of Lieutenant- Governor Hutchinson, sitting in an evening reverie by his fireside, and meditating on the changes that had slowly passed around the chair.
A devoted Monarchist, Hutchinson would heave no sigh for the subversion of the original republican government, the purest that the world had seen, with which the colony began its existence. While reverencing the grim and stern old Puritans as the founders of his native land, he would not wish to recall them from their graves, nor to awaken again that king-resisting spirit which he imagined to be laid asleep with them forever. Winthrop, Dudley, Bellingham, Endicott, Leverett, and Bradstreet,–all these had had their day. Ages might come and go, but never again would the people’s suffrages place a republican governor in their ancient chair of state.
Coming down to the epoch of the second charter, Hutchinson thought of the ship-carpenter Phips springing from the lowest of the people and attaining to the loftiest station in the land. But he smiled to perceive that this governor’s example would awaken no turbulent ambition in the lower orders; for it was a king’s gracious boon alone that made the ship-carpenter a ruler. Hutchinson rejoiced to mark the gradual growth of an aristocratic class, to whom the common people, as in duty bound, were learning humbly to resign the honors, emoluments, and authority of state. He saw–or else deceived himself–that, throughout this epoch, the people’s disposition to self-government had been growing weaker through long disuse, and now existed only as a faint traditionary feeling.
The lieutenant-governor’s reverie had now come down to the period at which he himself was sitting in the historic chair. He endeavored to throw his glance forward over the coming years. There, probably, he saw visions of hereditary rank for himself and other aristocratic colonists. He saw the fertile fields of New England proportioned out among a few great landholders, and descending by entail from generation to generation. He saw the people a race of tenantry, dependent on their lords. He saw stars, garters, coronets, and castles.
“But,” added Grandfather, turning to Laurence, “the lieutenant- governor’s castles were built nowhere but among the red embers of the fire before which he was sitting. And, just as he had constructed a baronial residence for himself and his posterity, the fire rolled down upon the hearth and crumbled it to ashes!”
Grandfather now looked at his watch, which hung within a beautiful little ebony temple, supported by four Ionic columns. He then laid his hand on the golden locks of little Alice, whose head had sunk down upon the arm of our illustrious chair.
“To bed, to bed, dear child!” said he. “Grandfather has put you to sleep already by his stories about these FAMOUS OLD PEOPLE.”
APPENDIX TO PART II.
ACCOUNT OF THE DEPORTATION OF THE ACADIANS.
FROM “HALIBURTON’S HISTORICAL AND STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF NOVA SCOTIA.”
AT a consultation, held between Colonel Winslow and Captain Murray, [of the New England forces, charged with the duty of exiling the Acadians,] it was agreed that a proclamation should be issued at the different settlements, requiring the attendance of the people at the respective posts on the same day; which proclamation should be so ambiguous in its nature that the object for which they were to assemble could not be discerned, and so peremptory in its terms as to ensure implicit obedience. This instrument, having been drafted and approved, was distributed according to the original plan. That which was addressed to the people inhabiting the country now comprised within the limits of King’s County, was as follows:–
“To the inhabitants of the District of Grand Pre, Minas, River Canard, &c.; as well ancient, as young men and lads:
“Whereas, his Excellency the Governor has instructed us of his late resolution, respecting the matter proposed to the inhabitants, and has ordered us to communicate the same in person, his Excellency being desirous that each of them should be fully satisfied of his Majesty’s intentions, which he has also ordered us to communicate to you, such as they have been given to him. We, therefore, order and strictly enjoin, by these presents, all of the inhabitants, as well of the above-named district as of all the other Districts, both old men and young men, as well as all the lads of ten years of age, to attend at the Church at Grand Pre, on Friday, the fifth instant, at three of the clock in the afternoon, that we may impart to them what we are ordered to communicate to them; declaring that no excuse will be admitted on any pretence whatever, on pain of forfeiting goods and chattels, in default of real estate. Given at Grand Pre, 2d September, 1755, and 29th year of his Majesty’s Reign.
In obedience to this summons four hundred and eighteen able-bodied men assembled. These being shut into the church (for that, too, had become an arsenal), Colonel Winslow placed himself, with his officers, in the centre, and addressed them thus:–
“I have received from his Excellency Governor Lawrence, the King’s Commission, which I have in my hand; and by his orders you are convened together to manifest to you, his Majesty’s final resolution to the French inhabitants of this his Province of Nova-Scotia; who, for almost half a century, have had more indulgence granted them than any of his subjects in any part of his dominions; what use you have made of it you yourselves best know. The part of duty I am now upon, though necessary, is very disagreeable to my natural make and temper, as I know it must be grievous to you, who are of the same species; but it is not my business to animadvert but to obey such orders as I receive, and therefore, without hesitation, shall deliver you his Majesty’s orders and instructions, namely- that your lands and tenements, cattle of all kinds and live stock of all sorts, are forfeited to the Crown; with all other your effects, saving your money and household goods, and you yourselves to be removed from this his Province.
“Thus it is peremptorily his Majesty’s orders that the whole French inhabitants of these Districts be removed; and I am, through his Majesty’s goodness, directed to allow you liberty to carry off your money and household goods, as many as you can without discommoding the vessels you go in. I shall do everything in my power that all those goods be secured to you, and that you are not molested in carrying them off; also, that whole families shall go in the same vessel, and make this remove, which I am sensible must give you a great deal of trouble, as easy as his Majesty’s service will admit; and hope that, in whatever part of the world you may fall, you may be faithful subjects, a peaceable and happy people. I must also inform you, that it is his Majesty’s pleasure that you remain in security under the inspection and direction of the troops that I have the honor to command.”
And he then declared them the King’s prisoners. The whole number of persons collected at Grand Pre finally amounted to four hundred and eighty-three men, and three hundred and thirty-seven women, heads of families; and their sons and daughters, to five hundred and twenty-seven of the former, and five hundred and seventy-six of the latter; making in the whole one thousand nine hundred and twenty-three souls. Their stock consisted of one thousand two hundred and sixty-nine oxen, one thousand five hundred and fifty-seven cows, five thousand and seven young cattle, four hundred and ninety-three horses, eight thousand six hundred and ninety sheep, and four thousand one hundred and ninety-seven hogs. As some of these wretched inhabitants escaped to the woods, all possible measures were adopted to force them back to captivity. The country was laid waste to prevent their subsistence. In the District of Minas alone, there were destroyed two hundred and fifty-five houses, two hundred and seventy-six barns, one hundred and fifty-five outhouses, eleven mills, and one church; and the friends of those who refused to surrender were threatened as the victims of their obstinacy.
In short, so operative were the terrors that surrounded them, that of twenty-four young men, who deserted from a transport, twenty-two were glad to return of themselves, the others being shot by sentinels; and one of their friends, who was supposed to have been accessory to their escape, was carried on shore to behold the destruction of his house and effects, which were burned in his presence, as a punishment for his temerity and perfidious aid to his comrades. The prisoners expressed the greatest concern at having incurred his Majesty’s displeasure, and in a petition addressed to Colonel Winslow intreated him to detain a part of them as sureties for the appearance of the rest, who were desirous of visiting their families, and consoling them in their distress and misfortunes. To comply with this request of holding a few as hostages for the surrender of the whole body, was deemed inconsistent with his instructions; but, as there could be no objection to allow a small number of them to return to their homes, permission was given to them to choose ten for the District of Minas (Horton) and ten for the District of Canard (Cornwallis) to whom leave of absence was given for one day, and on whose return a similar number were indulged in the same manner. They bore their confinement, and received their sentence with a fortitude and resignation altogether unexpected; but when the hour of embarkation arrived, in which they were to leave the land of their nativity forever–to part with their friends and relatives, without the hope of ever seeing them again, and to be dispersed among strangers, whose language, customs and religion were opposed to their own, the weakness of human nature prevailed, and they were overpowered with the sense of their miseries. The preparations having been all completed, the 10th of September was fixed upon as the day of departure. The prisoners were drawn up six deep, and the young men, one hundred and sixty-one in number, were ordered to go first on board of the vessels. This they instantly and peremptorily refused to do, declaring that they would not leave their parents; but expressed a willingness to comply with the order, provided they were permitted to embark with their families. This request was immediately rejected, and the troops were ordered to fix bayonets and advance towards the prisoners, a motion which had the effect of producing obedience on the part of the young men, who forthwith commenced their march. The road from the chapel to the shore, just one mile in length, was crowded with women and children; who, on their knees, greeted them as they passed with their tears and their blessings, while the prisoners advanced with slow and reluctant steps, weeping, praying, and singing hymns. This detachment was followed by the seniors, who passed through the same scene of sorrow and distress. In this manner was the whole male part of the population of the District of Minas put on board the five transports, stationed in the river Gaspereaux, each vessel being guarded by six non-commissioned officers, and eighty privates. As soon as the other vessels arrived, their wives and children followed, and the whole were transported from Nova Scotia. The haste with which these measures were carried into execution did not admit of those preparations for their comfort, which, if unmerited by