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Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 9, No. 56, June, 1862 by Various

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up over the wide grayness crept color and radiance and the sun himself,
--the sky soaring higher and higher, like a great thin bubble of flaky
hues,--and, all about, nothing but the everlasting wash of waters
broke the sacred hush. And it seemed as if God had been with us, and
withdrawing we saw the trail of His splendid garments,--and I remembered
the words mother had spoken to Dan once before, and why couldn't I leave
him in heavenly hands? And then it came into my heart to pray. I knew I
hadn't any right to pray expecting to be heard; but yet mine would be
the prayer of the humble, and wasn't Faith of as much consequence as a
sparrow? By-and-by, as we all sat leaning over the gunwale, the words
of a hymn that I'd heard at camp-meetings came into my mind, and I sang
them out, loud and clear. I always had a good voice, though Dan 'd never
heard me do anything with it except hum little low things, putting
mother to sleep; but here I had a whole sky to sing in, and the hymns
were trumpet-calls. And one after another they kept thronging up, and
there was a rush of feeling in them that made you shiver, and as I sang
them they thrilled me through and through. Wide as the way before us
was, it seemed to widen; I felt myself journeying with some vast host
towards the city of God, and its light poured over us, and there was
nothing but joy and love and praise and exulting expectancy in my heart.
And when the hymn died on my lips because the words were too faint and
the tune was too weak for the ecstasy, and when the silence had soothed
me back again, I turned and saw Dan's lips bitten, and his cheek white,
and his eyes like stars, and Mr. Gabriel's face fallen forward in his
hands, and he shaking with quick sobs; and as for Faith,--Faith, she
had dropped asleep, and one arm was thrown above her head, and the other
lay where it had slipped from Mr. Gabriel's loosened grasp. There's a
contagion, you know, in such things, but Faith was never of the catching

Well, this wasn't what we'd come for,--turning all out-doors into a
church,--though what's a church but a place of God's presence? and for
my part, I never see high blue sky and sunshine without feeling that.
And all of a sudden there came a school of mackerel splashing and
darkening and curling round the boat, after the bait we'd thrown out on
anchoring. 'Twould have done you good to see Dan just at that moment;
you'd have realized what it was to have a calling. He started up,
forgetting everything else, his face all flushed, his eyes like coals,
his mouth tight and his tongue silent; and how many hooks he had out I'm
sure I don't know, but he kept jerking them in by twos and threes, and
finally they bit at the bare barb and were taken without any bait at
all, just as if they'd come and asked to be caught. Mr. Gabriel, he
didn't pay any attention at first, but Dan called to him to stir
himself, and so gradually he worked back into his old mood; but he was
more still and something sad all the rest of the morning. Well, when
we'd gotten about enough, and they were dying in the boat there, as they
cast their scales, like the iris, we put in-shore; and building a fire,
we cooked our own dinner and boiled our own coffee. Many's the icy
winter-night I've wrapped up Dan's bottle of hot coffee in rolls on
rolls of flannel, that he might drink it hot and strong far out at sea
in a wherry at daybreak!

But as I was saying,--all this time, Mr. Gabriel, he scarcely looked at
Faith. At first she didn't comprehend, and then something swam all over
her face as if the very blood in her veins had grown darker, and there
was such danger in her eye that before we stepped into the boat again
I wished to goodness I had a life-preserver. But in the beginning the
religious impression lasted and gave him great resolutions; and then
strolling off and along the beach, he fell in with some men there and
did as he always did, scraped acquaintance. I verily believe that these
men were total strangers, that he'd never laid eyes on them before, and
after a few words he wheeled about. As he did so, his glance fell on
Faith standing there alone against the pale sky, for the weather 'd
thickened, and watching the surf break at her feet. He was motionless,
gazing at her long, and then, when he had turned once or twice
irresolutely, he ground his heel into the sand and went back. The men
rose and wandered on with him, and they talked together for a while, and
I saw money pass; and pretty soon Mr. Gabriel returned, his face vividly
pallid, but smiling, and he had in his hand some little bright shells
that you don't often find on these Northern beaches, and he said he had
bought them of those men. And all this time he'd not spoken with Faith,
and there was the danger yet in her eye. But nothing came of it, and I
had accused myself of nearly every crime in the Decalogue, and on the
way back we had put up the lines, and Mr. Gabriel had hauled in the
lobster-net for the last time. He liked that branch of the business;
he said it had all the excitement of gambling,--the slow settling
downwards, the fading of the last ripple, the impenetrable depth and
shade and the mystery of the work below, five minutes of expectation,
and it might bring up a scale of the sea-serpent, or the king of the
crabs might have crept in for a nap in the folds, or it might come up
as if you'd dredged for pearls, or it might hold the great
backward-crawling lobsters, or a tangle of seaweed, or the long yellow
locks of some drowned girl,--or nothing at all. So he always drew in
that net, and it needed muscle, and his was like steel,--not good for
much in the long pull, but just for a breathing could handle the biggest
boatman in the harbor. Well,--and we'd hoisted the sail and were in the
creek once more, for the creek was only to be used at high-water, and
I'd told Dan I couldn't be away from mother over another tide and so we
mustn't get aground, and he'd told me not to fret, there was nothing too
shallow for us on the coast--"This boat," said Dan, "she'll float in a
heavy dew." And he began singing a song he liked:--

"I cast my line in Largo Bay,
And fishes I caught nine:
There's three to boil, and three to fry,
And three to bait the line."

And Mr. Gabriel 'd never heard it before, and he made him sing it again
and again.

"The boatie rows, the boatie rows,
The boatie rows indeed,"

repeated Mr. Gabriel, and he said it was the only song he knew that held
the click of the oar in the rowlock.

The little birds went skimming by us, as we sailed, their breasts upon
the water, and we could see the gunners creeping through the marshes
beside them.

"The wind changes," said Mr. Gabriel. "The equinox treads close behind
us. Sst! Is it that you do not feel its breath? And you hear nothing?"

"It's the Soul of the Bar," said Dan; and he fell to telling us one
of the wild stories that fishermen can tell each other by the lantern
rocking outside at night in the dory.

The wind was dead east, and now we flew before it, and now we tacked in
it, up and up the winding stream, and always a little pointed sail came
skimming on in suit.

"What sail is that, Dan?" asked I. "It looks like the one that flitted
ahead this morning."

"It is the one," said Dan,--for he'd brought up a whole horde of
superstitious memories, and a gloom that had been hovering off and on
his face settled there for good. "As much of a one as that was. It's no
sail at all. It's a death-sign. And I've never been down here and seen
it but trouble was on its heels. Georgie! there's two of them!"

We all looked, but it was hidden in a curve, and when it stole in sight
again there _were_ two of them, filmy and faint as spirits' wings,--and
while we gazed they vanished, whether supernaturally or in the mist that
was rising mast-high I never thought, for my blood was frozen as it ran.

"You have fear?" asked Mr. Gabriel,--his face perfectly pale, and his
eye almost lost in darkness. "If it is a phantom, it can do you no

Faith's teeth chattered,--I saw them. He turned to her, and as their
look met, a spot of carnation burned into his cheek almost as a brand
would have burned. He seemed to be balancing some point, to be searching
her and sifting her; and Faith half rose, proudly, and pale, as if his
look pierced her with pain. The look was long,--but before it fell, a
glow and sparkle filled the eyes, and over his face there curled the
deep, strange smile of the morning, till the long lids and heavy lashes
dropped and made it sad. And Faith,--she started in a new surprise, the
darkness gathered and crept off her face as cream wrinkles from milk,
and spleen or venom or what-not became absorbed again and lost, and
there was nothing in her glance but passionate forgetfulness. Some souls
are like the white river-lilies,--fixed, yet floating; but Mr. Gabriel
had no firm root anywhere, and was blown about with every breeze, like a
leaf on the flood. His purposes melted and made with his moods.

The wind got round more to the north, the mist fell upon the waters or
blew away over the meadows, and it was cold. Mr. Gabriel wrapped the
cloak about Faith and fastened it, and tied her bonnet. Just now Dan was
so busy handling the boat--and it's rather risky, you have to wriggle up
the creek so--that he took little notice of us. Then Mr. Gabriel stood
up, as if to change his position; and taking off his hat, he held it
aloft, while he passed the other hand across his forehead. And leaning
against the mast, he stood so, many minutes.

"Dan," I said, "did your spiritual craft ever hang out a purple

"No," said Dan.

"Well," says I. And we all saw a little purple ribbon running up the
rope and streaming on the air behind us.

"And why do we not hoist our own?" said Mr. Gabriel, putting on his hat.
And suiting the action to the word, a little green signal curled up and
flaunted above us like a bunch of the weed floating there in the water
beneath and dyeing all the shallows so that they looked like caves of
cool emerald, and wide off and over them the west burned smoulderingly
red like a furnace. Many a time since, I've felt the magical color
between those banks and along those meadows, but then I felt none of it;
every wit I had was too awake and alert and fast-fixed in watching.

"Is it that the phantoms can be flesh and blood?" said Mr. Gabriel
laughingly; and lifting his arm again, he hailed the foremost.

"Boat ahoy! What names?" said he.

The answer came back on the wind full and round.

"'Speed,' and 'Follow.'"

"Where from?" asked Dan, with just a glint in his eye,--for usually he
knew every boat on the river, but he didn't know these.

"From the schooner Flyaway, taking in sand over at Black Rocks."

Then Mr. Gabriel spoke again, as they drew near,--but whether he spoke
so fast that I couldn't understand, or whether he spoke French, I never
knew; and Dan, with some kind of feeling that it was Mr. Gabriel's
acquaintance, suffered the one we spoke to pass us.

Once or twice Mr. Gabriel had begun some question to Dan about the
approaching weather, but had turned it off again before anybody could
answer. You see he had some little nobility left, and didn't want the
very man he was going to injure to show him how to do it. Now, however,
he asked him that was steering the Speed by, if it was going to storm.

The man thought it was.

"How is it, then, that your schooner prepares to sail?"

"Oh, wind's backed in; we'll be on blue water before the gale breaks, I
reckon, and then beat off where there's plenty of sea-room."

"But she shall make shipwreck!"

"'Not if the court know herself, and he think she do,'" was the reply
from another, as they passed.

Somehow I began to hate myself, I was so full of poisonous suspicions.
How did Mr. Gabriel know the schooner prepared to sail? And this man,
could he tell boom from bowsprit? I didn't believe it; he had the hang
of the up-river folks. But there stood Mr. Gabriel, so quiet and easy,
his eyelids down, and he humming an underbreath of song; and there sat
Faith, so pale and so pretty, a trifle sad, a trifle that her conscience
would brew for her, whether or no. Yet, after all, there was an odd
expression in Mr. Gabriel's face, an eager, restless expectation; and if
his lids were lowered, it was only to hide the spark that flushed and
quenched in his eye like a beating pulse.

We had reached the draw, it was lifted for the Speed, she had passed,
and the wind was in her sail once more. Yet, somehow, she hung back. And
then I saw that the men in her were of those with whom Mr. Gabriel had
spoken at noon. Dan's sail fell slack, and we drifted slowly through,
while he poled us along with an oar.

"Look out, Georgie!" said Dan, for he thought I was going to graze my
shoulder upon the side there. I looked; and when I turned again, Mr.
Gabriel was rising up from some earnest and hurried sentence to Faith.
And Faith, too, was standing, standing and swaying with indecision, and
gazing away out before her,--so flushed and so beautiful,--so loath and
so willing. Poor thing! poor thing! as if her rising in itself were not
the whole!

Mr. Gabriel stepped across the boat, stooped a minute, and then also
took an oar. How perfect he was, as he stood there that moment!--perfect
like a statue, I mean,--so slender, so clean-limbed, his dark face pale
to transparency in the green light that filtered through the draw! and
then a ray from the sunset came creeping over the edge of the high
fields and smote his eyes sidelong so that they glowed like jewels, and
he with his oar planted firmly hung there bending far back with it,
completely full of strength and grace.

"It is not the _bateaux_ in the rapids," said he.

"What are you about?" asked Dan, with sudden hoarseness. "You are
pulling the wrong way!"

Mr. Gabriel laughed, and threw down his oar, and stepped back again;
gave his hand to Faith, and half led, half lifted her, over the side,
and into the Speed, followed, and never looked behind him. They let
go something they had held, the Speed put her nose in the water and
sprinkled us with spray, plunged, and dashed off like an arrow.

It was like him,--daring and insolent coolness! Just like him! Always
the soul of defiance! None but one so reckless and impetuous as he would
have dreamed of flying into the teeth of the tempest in that shell of a
schooner. But he was mad with love, and they--there wasn't a man among
them but was the worse for liquor.

For a moment Dan took it, as Mr. Gabriel had expected him to do, as a
joke, and went to trim the boat for racing, not meaning they should
reach town first. But I--I saw It all.

"Dan!" I sung out, "save her! She's not coming back! They'll make for
the schooner at Black Rocks! Oh, Dan, he's taken her off!"

Now one whose intelligence has never been trained, who shells his five
wits and gets rid of the pods as best he can, mayn't be so quick as
another, but, like an animal, he feels long before he sees; and a vague
sense of this had been upon Dan all day. Yet now he stood thunderstruck,
and the thing went on before his very eyes. It was more than he could
believe at once,--and perhaps his first feeling was, Why should he
hinder? And then the flood fell. No thought of his loss,--though loss it
wa'n't,--only of his friend,--of such stunning treachery, that, if
the sun fell hissing into the sea at noon, it would have mattered
less,--only of _that_ loss that tore his heart out with it.

"Gabriel!" he shouted,--"Gabriel!" And his voice was heart-rending. I
know that Mr. Gabriel felt it, for he never turned nor stirred.

Then I don't know what came over Dan: a blind rage swelling in his heart
seemed to make him larger in every limb; he towered like a flame. He
sprang to the tiller, but, as he did so, saw with one flash of his eye
that Mr. Gabriel had unshipped the rudder and thrown it away. He seized
an oar to steer with in its place; he saw that they, in their ignorance
fast edging on the flats, would shortly be aground; more fisherman than
sailor, he knew a thousand tricks of boat-craft that they had never
heard of. We flew, we flew through cloven ridges, we became a wind
ourselves, and while I tell it he was beside them, had gathered himself
as if to leap the chasm between time and eternity, and had landed among
them in the Speed. The wherry careened with the shock and the water
poured into her, and she flung headlong and away as his foot spurned
her. Heaven knows why she didn't upset, for I thought of nothing but the
scene before me as I drifted off from it. I shut the eyes in my soul
now, that I mayn't see that horrid scuffle twice. Mr. Gabriel, he rose,
he turned. If Dan was the giant beside him, he himself was so well-knit,
so supple, so adroit, that his power was like the blade in the hand.
Dan's strength was lying round loose, but Mr. Gabriel's was trained, it
hid like springs of steel between brain and wrist, and from him the clap
fell with the bolt. And then, besides, Dan did not love Faith, and he
did love Gabriel. Any one could see how it would go. I screamed. I
cried, "Faith! Faith!" And some natural instinct stirred in Faith's
heart, for she clung to Mr. Gabriel's arm to pull him off from Dan. But
he shook her away like rain. Then such a mortal weakness took possession
of me that I saw everything black, and, when it was clean gone, I
looked, and they were locked in each other's arms, fierce, fierce and
fell, a death-grip. They were staggering to the boat's edge: only this I
saw, that Mr. Gabriel was inside: suddenly the helmsman interposed with
an oar, and broke their grasps. Mr. Gabriel reeled away, free, for a
second; then, the passion, the fury, the hate in his heart feeding his
strength as youth fed the locks of Samson, he darted, and lifted Dan in
his two arms and threw him like a stone into the water. Stiffened to
ice, I waited for Dan to rise; the other craft, the Follow, skimmed
between us, and one man managing her that she shouldn't heel, the rest
drew Dan in,--it's not the depth of two foot there,--tacked about, and
after a minute came along-side, seized our painter, and dropped him
gently into his own boat. Then--for the Speed had got afloat again--the
thing stretched her two sails wing and wing, and went ploughing up a
great furrow of foam before her.

I sprang to Dan. He was not senseless, but in a kind of stupor: his head
had struck the fluke of a half-sunk anchor and it had stunned him, but
as the wound bled he recovered slowly and opened his eyes. Ah, what
misery was in them! I turned to the fugitives. They were yet in sight,
Mr. Gabriel sitting and seeming to adjure Faith, whose skirts he
held; but she stood, and her arms were outstretched, and, pale as a
foam-wreath her face, and piercing as a night-wind her voice, I heard
her cry, "Oh, Georgie! Georgie!" It was too late for her to cry or to
wring her hands now. She should have thought of that before. But Mr.
Gabriel rose and drew her down, and hid her face in his arms and bent
over it; and so they fled up the basin and round the long line of sand,
and out into the gloom and the curdling mists.

I bound up Dan's head. I couldn't steer with an oar,--that was out of
the question,--but, as luck would have it, could row tolerably; so I got
down the little mast, and at length reached the wharves. The town-lights
flickered up in the darkness and flickered back from the black rushing
river, and then out blazed the great mills; and as I felt along, I
remembered times when we'd put in by the tender sunset, as the rose
faded out of the water and the orange ebbed down the west, and one by
one the sweet evening-bells chimed forth, so clear and high, and each
with a different tone, that it seemed as if the stars must flock,
tinkling, into the sky. And here were the bells ringing out again,
ringing out of the gray and the gloom, dull and brazen, as if they rang
from some cavern of shadows, or from the mouth of hell,--but no, _that_
was down-river! Well, I made my way, and the men on the landing took up
Dan, and helped him in and got him on my little bed, and no sooner there
than the heavy sleep with which he had struggled fell on him like lead.

The story flew from mouth to mouth, the region rang with it; nobody had
any need to add to it, or to make it out a griffin or a dragon that had
gripped Faith and carried her off in his talons. But everybody declared
that those boats could be no ship's yawls at all, but must belong to
parties from up-river camping out on the beach, and that a parcel of
such must have gone sailing with some of the hands of a sand-droger:
there was one in the stream now, that had got off with the tide, said
the Jerdan boys, who'd been down there that afternoon, though there was
no such name as "Flyaway" on her stern, and they were waiting for the
master of her, who'd gone off on a spree,--a dare-devil fellow, that
used to run a smuggler between Bordeaux and Bristol, as they'd heard
say: and all agreed that Mr. Gabriel could never have had to do with
them before that day, or he'd have known what a place a sand-droger
would be for a woman; and everybody made excuses for Gabriel, and
everybody was down on Faith. So there things lay. It was raw and chill
when the last neighbor left us, the sky was black as a cloak, not a star
to be seen, the wind had edged back to the east again and came in wet
and wild from the sea and fringed with its thunder. Oh, poor little
Faith, what a night! what a night for her!

I went back and sat down by Dan, and tried to keep his head cool. Father
was up walking the kitchen-floor till late, but at length he lay down
across the foot of mother's bed, as if expecting to be called. The
lights were put out, there was no noise in the town, every one
slept,--every one, except they watched like me, on that terrible night.
No noise in the town, did I say? Ah, but there was! It came creeping
round the corners, it poured rushing up the street, it rose from
everywhere,--a voice, a voice of woe, the heavy booming rote of the
sea. I looked out, but it was pitch-dark, light had forsaken the world,
we were beleaguered by blackness. It grew colder, as if one felt a fog
fall, and the wind, mounting slowly, now blew a gale. It eddied in
clouds of dead and whirling leaves, and sent big torn branches flying
aloft; it took the house by the four corners and shook it to loosening
the rafters, and I felt the chair rock under me; it rumbled down the
chimney as if it would tear the life out of us. And with every fresh
gust of the gale the rain slapped against the wall, the rain that fell
in rivers, and went before the wind in sheets,--and sheltered as I was,
the torrents seemed to pour over me like cataracts, and every drop
pierced me like a needle, and I put my fingers in my ears to shut out
the howl of the wind and the waves. I couldn't keep my thoughts away
from Faith. Oh, poor girl, this wasn't what she'd expected! As plainly
as if I were aboard-ship I felt the scene, the hurrying feet, the
slippery deck, the hoarse cries, the creaking cordage, the heaving and
plunging and straining, and the wide wild night. And I was beating
off those dreadful lines with them, two dreadful lines of white froth
through the blackness, two lines where the horns of breakers guard the
harbor,--all night long beating off the lee with them, my life in my
teeth, and chill, blank, shivering horror before me. My whole soul, my
whole being, was fixed in that one spot, that little vessel driving on
the rocks: it seemed as if a madness took possession of me, I reeled
as I walked, I forefelt the shivering shock, I waited till she should
strike. And then I thought I heard cries, and I ran out in the storm,
and down upon the causeway, but nothing met me but the hollow night and
the roaring sea and the wind. I came back, and hurried up and down and
wrung my hands in an agony. Pictures of summer nights flashed upon me
and faded,--where out of deep-blue vaults the stars hung like lamps,
great and golden,--or where soft films just hazing heaven caught the
rays, till all above gleamed like gauze faintly powdered and spangled
with silver,--or heavy with heat, slipping over silent waters, through
scented airs, under purple skies. And then storms rolled in and rose
before my eyes, distinct for a moment, and breaking,--such as I'd seen
them from the Shoals in broad daylight, when tempestuous columns
scooped themselves up from the green gulfs and shattered in loam on
the shuddering rock,--ah! but that was day, and this was midnight and
murk!--storms as I'd heard tell of them off Cape Race, when great
steamers went down with but one cry, and the waters crowded them out of
sight,--storms where, out of the wilderness of waves that far and wide
wasted white around, a single one came ploughing on straight to the
mark, gathering its grinding masses mast-high, poising, plunging, and
swamping and crashing them into bottomless pits of destruction,--storms
where waves toss and breakers gore, where, hanging on crests that slip
from under, reefs impale the hull, and drowning wretches cling to the
crags with stiffening hands, and the sleet ices them, and the spray, and
the sea lashes and beats them with great strokes and sucks them down
to death: and right in the midst of it all there burst a gun,--one,
another, and no more. "Oh, Faith! Faith!" I cried again, and I ran and
hid my head in the bed.

How long did I stay so? An hour, or maybe two. Dan was still dead with
sleep, but mother had no more closed an eye than I. There was no rain
now, the wind had fallen, the dark had lifted; I looked out once more,
and could just see dimly the great waters swinging in the river from
bank to bank. I drew the bucket fresh, and bound the cloths cold on
Dan's head again. I hadn't a thought in my head, and I fell to counting
the meshes in the net that hung from the wall, but in my ears there was
the everlasting rustle of the sea and shore. It grew clearer,--it got
to being a universal gray; there'd been no sunrise, but it was day.
Dan stirred,--he turned over heavily; then he opened his eyes wide and
looked about him.

"I've had such a fright!" he said. "Georgie! is that you?"

With that it swept over him afresh, and he fell back. In a moment or two
he tried to rise, but he was weak as a child. He contrived to keep on
his elbow a moment, though, and to give a look out of the window.

"It came on to blow, didn't it?" he asked; but there he sank down again.

"I can't stay so!" he murmured soon. "I can't stay so! Here,--I must
tell you. Georgie, get out the spy-glass, and go up on the roof and
look over. I've had a dream, I tell you! I've had a dream. Not that
either,--but it's just stamped on me! It was like a storm,--and I
dreamed that that schooner--the Flyaway--had parted. And the half of
her's crashed down just as she broke, and Faith and that man are high
up on the bows in the middle of the South Breaker! Make haste, Georgie!
Christ! make haste!"

I flew to the drawers and opened them, and began to put the spy-glass
together. Suddenly he cried out again,--

"Oh, here's where the fault was! What right had I ever to marry the
child, not loving her? I bound her! I crushed her! I stifled her! If she
lives, it is my sin; if she dies, I murder her!"

He hid his face, as he spoke, so that his voice came thick, and great
choking groans rent their way up from his heart.

All at once, as I looked up, there stood mother, in her long white gown,
beside the bed, and bending over and taking Dan's hot head in her two

"Behold, He cometh with clouds!" she whispered.

It always did seem to me as if mother had the imposition of
hands,--perhaps every one feels just so about their mother,--but only
her touch always lightens an ache for me, whether it's in the heart or
the head.

"Oh, Aunt Rhody," said Dan, looking up in her face with his distracted
eyes, "can't you help me?"

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help,"
said mother.

"There's no help, there!" called Dan. "There's no God there! He wouldn't
have let a little child run into her damnation!"

"Hush, hush, Dan!" murmured mother. "Faith never can have been at sea in
such a night as this, and not have felt God's hand snatching her out of
sin. If she lives, she's a changed woman; and if she dies, her soul is
whitened and fit to walk with saints. Through much tribulation."

"Yes, yes," muttered father, in the room beyond, spitting on his hands,
as if he were going to take hold of the truth by the handle,--"it's best
to clean up a thing with the first spot, and not wait for it to get all
rusty with crime."

"And he!" said Dan,--"and he,--that man,--Gabriel!"

"Between the saddle and the ground
If mercy's asked, mercy's found,"

said I.

"Are you there yet, Georgie?" he cried, turning to me. "Here! I'll go
myself!" But he only stumbled and fell on the bed again.

"In all the terror and the tempest of these long hours,--for there's
been a fearful storm, though you haven't felt it," said mother,--"in all
that, Mr. Gabriel can't have slept. But at first it must have been that
great dread appalled him, and he may have been beset with sorrow. He'd
brought her to this. But at last, for he's no coward, he has looked
death in the face and not flinched; and the danger, and the grandeur
there is in despair, have lifted his spirit to great heights,--heights
found now in an hour, but which in a whole life long he never would have
gained,--heights from which he has seen the light of God's face and been
transfigured in it,--heights where the soul dilates to a stature it can
never lose. Oh, Dan, there's a moment, a moment when the dross strikes
off, and the impurities, and the grain sets, and there comes out the
great white diamond. For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that
not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,--of Him that maketh the seven
stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning. Oh, I
_will_ believe that Mr. Gabriel hadn't any need to grope as we do, but
that suddenly he saw the Heavenly Arm and clung to it, and the grasp
closed round him, and death and hell can have no power over him now.
Dan, poor boy, is it better to lie in the earth with the ore than to
be forged in the furnace and beaten to a blade fit for the hands of

And mother stopped, trembling like a leaf.

I'd been wiping and screwing the glass, and I'd waited a breath, for
mother always talked so like a preacher; but when she'd finished, after
a second or two Dan looked up, and said, as if he'd just come in--

"Aunt Rhody! how come you out of bed?"

And then mother, she got upon the bed, and she took Dan's head on her
breast and fell to stroking his brows, laying her cool palms on his
temples and on his eyelids, as once I'd have given my ears to do,--and I
slipped out of the room.

Oh, I hated to go up those stairs, to mount that ladder, to open the
scuttle! And once there, I waited and waited before I dared to look. The
night had unnerved me. At length I fixed the glass. I swept the broad
swollen stream, to the yellowing woods, and over the meadows, where a
pale transient beam crept under and pried up the hay-cocks,--the smoke
that began to curl from the chimneys and fall as soon,--the mists
blowing off from Indian Hill, but brooding blue and dense down the
turnpike, and burying the red spark of the moon, that smothered like a
half-dead coal in her ashes,--anywhere, anywhere but that spot! I don't
know why it was, but I couldn't level the glass there,--my arm would
fall, my eye haze. Finally I brought it round nearer and tried again.
Everywhere, as far as your eye could reach, the sea was yeasty and white
with froth, and great streaks of it were setting up the inky river,
and against it there were the twin light-houses quivering their little
yellow rays as if to mock the dawn, and far out on the edge of day the
great light at the Isles of Shoals blinked and blinked, crimson and
gold, fainter and fainter, and lost at last. It was no use, I didn't
dare point it, my hand trembled so I could see nothing plain, when
suddenly an engine went thundering over the bridge and startled me into
stillness. The tube slung in my hold and steadied against the chimney,
and there----What was it in the field? what ghastly picture?

The glass crashed from my hand, and I staggered shrieking down the

The sound wasn't well through my lips, when the door slammed, and Dan
had darted out of the house and to the shore. I after him. There was a
knot sitting and standing round there in the gray, shivering, with their
hands in their pockets and their pipes set in their teeth; but the gloom
was on them as well, and the pipes went out between the puffs.

"Where's Dennis's boat?" Dan demanded, as he strode.

"The six-oar's all the one not"----

"The six-oar I want. Who goes with me?"

There wasn't a soul in the ward but would have followed Dan's lead to
the end of the world and jumped off; and before I could tell their names
there were three men on the thwarts, six oars in the air, Dan stood in
the bows, a word from him, and they shot away.

I watched while I could see, and then in and up to the attic, forgetting
to put mother in her bed, forgetting all things but the one. And there
lay the glass broken. I sat awhile with the pieces in my hand, as if I'd
lost a kingdom; then down, and mechanically put things to rights, and
made mother comfortable,--and she's never stood on her feet from that
day to this. At last I seated myself before the fire, and stared into it
to blinding.

"Won't some one lend you a glass, Georgie?" said mother.

"Of course they will!" I cried,--for, you see, I hadn't a wit of my
own,--and I ran out.

There's a glass behind every door in the street, you should know, and
there's no day in the year that you'll go by and not see one stretching
from some roof where the heart of the house is out on the sea. Oh,
sometimes I think all the romance of the town is clustered down here on
the Flats and written in pale cheeks and starting eyes. But what's the
use? After one winter, one, I gave mine away, and never got another.
It's just an emblem of despair. Look, and look again, and look till your
soul sinks, and the thing you want never crosses it; but you're down in
the kitchen stirring a porridge, or you're off at a neighbor's asking
the news, and somebody shouts at you round the corner, and there, black
and dirty and dearer than gold, she lies between the piers.

All the world was up on their house-tops spying, that morning, but there
was nobody would keep their glass while I had none; so I went back
armed, and part of it all I saw, and part of it father told me.

I waited till I thought they were 'most across, and then I rubbed the
lens. At first I saw nothing, and I began to quake with a greater fear
than any that had yet taken root in me. But with the next moment there
they were, pulling close up. I shut my eyes for a flash with some kind
of a prayer that was most like an imprecation, and when I looked again
they had dashed over and dashed over, taking the rise of the long roll,
and were in the midst of the South Breaker. O God! that terrible South
Breaker! The oars bent lithe as willow-switches, a moment they
skimmed on the caps, a moment were hid in the snow of the spray. Dan,
red-shirted, still stood there, his whole soul on the aim before him,
like that of some leaper flying through the air; he swayed to the
stroke, he bowed, he rose, perfectly balanced, and flexile as the wave.
The boat behaved beneath their hands like a live creature: she bounded
so that you almost saw the light under her; her whole steal lifted
itself slowly out of the water, caught the back of a roller and rode
over upon the next; the very things that came rushing in with their
white rage to devour her bent their necks and bore her up like a bubble.
Constantly she drew nearer that dark and shattered heap up to which the
fierce surf raced, and over which it leaped. And there all the time, all
the time, they had been clinging, far out on the bowsprit, those two
figures, her arms close-knit about him, he clasping her with one, the
other twisted in the hawser, whose harsh thrilling must have filled
their ears like an organ-note as it swung them to and fro,--clinging
to life,--clinging to each other more than to life. The wreck scarcely
heaved with the stoutest blow of the tremendous surge; here and there,
only, a plank shivered off and was bowled on and thrown high upon the
beach beside fragments of beams broken and bruised to a powder; it
seemed to be as firmly planted there as the breaker itself. Great
feathers of foam flew across it, great waves shook themselves thin
around it and veiled it in shrouds, and with their every breath the
smothering sheets dashed over them,--the two. And constantly the boat
drew nearer, as I said; they were almost within hail; Dan saw her hair
streaming on the wind; he waited only for the long wave. On it came,
that long wave,--oh! I can see it now!--plunging and rearing and
swelling, a monstrous billow, sweeping and swooning and rocking in. Its
hollows gaped with slippery darkness, it towered and sent the scuds
before its trembling crest, breaking with a mighty rainbow as the sun
burst forth, it fell in a white blindness everywhere, rushed seething up
the sand,--and the bowsprit was bare!----

When father came home, the rack had driven down the harbor and left
clear sky; it was near nightfall; they'd been searching the shore all
day,--to no purpose. But that rainbow,--I always took it for a sign.
Father was worn out, yet he sat in the chimney-side, cutting off great
quids and chewing and thinking and sighing. At last he went and wound up
the clock,--it was the stroke of twelve,--and then he turned to me and

"Dan sent you this, Georgie. He hailed a pilot-boat, and's gone to the
Cape to join the fall fleet to the fish'ries; and he sent you this."

It was just a great hand-grip to make your nails purple, but there was
heart's-blood in it. See, there's the mark to-day.

So there was Dan off in the Bay of Chaleur. It was the best place for
him. And I went about my work once more. There was a great gap in my
life, but I tried not to look at it. I durstn't think of Dan, and I
wouldn't think of them,--the two. Always in such times it's as if a
breath had come and blown across the pool and you could see down its
dark depths and into the very bottom, but time scums it all over again.
And I tell you it's best to look trouble in the face: if you don't,
you'll have more of it. So I got a lot of shoes to bind, and what part
of my spare time I wa'n't at my books the needle flew. But I turned no
more to the past than I could help, and the future trembled too much to
be seen.

Well, the two months dragged away, it got to be Thanksgiving-week, and
at length the fleet was due. I mind me I made a great baking that
week; and I put brandy into the mince for once, instead of vinegar and
dried-apple juice,--and there were the fowls stuffed and trussed on
the shelf,--and the pumpkin-pies like slices of split gold,--and the
cranberry-tarts, plats of crimson and puffs of snow,--and I was brewing
in my mind a right-royal red Indian-pudding to come out of the oven
smoking hot and be soused with thick clots of yellow cream,--when one of
the boys ran in and told us the fleet'd got back, but no Dan with it,
--he'd changed over to a fore-and-after, and wouldn't be home at all,
but was to stay down in the Georges all winter, and he'd sent us word.
Well, the baking went to the dogs, or the Thanksgiving beggars, which is
the same thing.

Then days went by, as days will, and it was well into the New Year.
I used to sit there at the window, reading,--but the lines would run
together, and I'd forget what 'twas all about, and gather no sense, and
the image of the little fore-and-after, the "Feather," raked in between
the leaves, and at last I had to put all that aside; and then I sat
stitching, stitching, but got into a sad habit of looking up and looking
out each time I drew the thread. I felt it was a shame of me to be so
glum, and mother missed my voice; but I could no more talk than I could
have given conundrums to King Solomon, and as for singing--Oh, I used to
long so for just a word from Dan!

We'd had dry fine weeks all along, and father said he'd known we should
have just such a season, because the goose's breast-bone was so white;
but St. Valentine's day the weather broke, broke in a chain of storms
that the September gale was a whisper to. Ah, it was a dreadful winter,
that! You've surely heard of it. It made forty widows in our town. Of
the dead that were found on Prince Edward's Island's shores there were
four corpses in the next house yonder, and two in the one behind. And
what waiting and watching and cruel pangs of suspense for them that
couldn't have even the peace of certainty! And I was one of those.

The days crept on, I say, and got bright again; no June days ever
stretched themselves to half such length; there was perfect stillness in
the house,--it seemed to me that I counted every tick of the clock. In
the evenings the neighbors used to drop in and sit mumbling over their
fearful memories till the flesh crawled on my bones. Father, then, he
wanted cheer, and he'd get me to singing "Caller Herrin'." Once, I'd
sung the first part, but as I reached the lines,--

"When ye were sleepin' on your pillows,
Dreamt ye aught o' our puir fellows
Darklin' as they face the billows,
A' to fill our woven willows,"--

as I reached those lines, my voice trembled so's to shake the tears out
of my eyes, and Jim Jerdan took it up himself and sung it through for
me to words of his own invention. He was always a kindly fellow, and he
knew a little how the land lay between me and Dan.

"When I was down in the Georges," said Jim Jerdan----

"You? When was you down there?" asked father.

"Well,--once I was. There's worse places."

"Can't tell me nothing about the Georges," said father. "'Ta'n't the
rivers of Damascus exactly, but 'ta'n't the Marlstrom neither."

"Ever ben there, Cap'n?"

"A few. Spent more nights under cover roundabouts than Georgie'll have
white hairs in her head,--for all she's washing the color out of her
eyes now."

You see, father knew I set by my hair,--for in those days I rolled it
thick as a cable, almost as long, black as that cat's back,--and he
thought he'd touch me up a little.

"Wash the red from her cheek and the light from her look, and she'll
still have the queen's own tread," said Jim.

"If Loisy Currier'd heern that, you'd wish your cake was dough," says

"I'll resk it," says Jim. "Loisy knows who's second choice, as well as
if you told her."

"But what about the Georges, Jim?" I asked; for though I hated to hear,
I could listen to nothing else.

"Georges? Oh, not much. Just like any other place."

"But what do you do down there?"

"Do? Why, we fish,--in the pleasant weather."

"And when it's not pleasant?"

"Oh, then we make things taut, hoist fores'l, clap the hellum into the
lee becket, and go below and amuse ourselves."

"How?" I asked, as if I hadn't heard it all a hundred times.

"One way 'n' another. Pipes, and mugs, and poker, if it a'n't too rough;
and if it is, we just bunk and snooze till it gets smooth."

"Why, Jim,--how do you know when that is?"

"Well, you can jedge,--'f the pipe falls out of your pocket and don't
light on the ceiling."

"And who's on deck?"

"There's no one on deck. There's no danger, no trouble, no nothing.
Can't drive ashore, if you was to try: hundred miles off, in the first
place. Hatches are closed, she's light as a cork, rolls over and over
just like any other log in the water, and there can't a drop get into
her, if she turns bottom-side up."

"But she never can right herself!"

"Can't she? You just try her. Why, I've known 'em to keel over and rake
bottom and bring up the weed on the topmast. I tell you now! there was
one time we knowed she'd turned a somerset, pretty well. Why? Because,
when it cleared and we come up, there was her two masts broke short

And Jim went home thinking he'd given me a night's sleep. But it was
cold comfort; the Georges seemed to me a worse place than the Hellgate.
And mother she kept murmuring,--"He layeth the beams of His chambers in
the waters, His pavilion round about Him is dark waters and thick clouds
of the skies." And I knew by that she thought it pretty bad.

So the days went in cloud and wind. The owners of the Feather 'd been
looking for her a month and more, and there were strange kind of rumors
afloat; and nobody mentioned Dan's name, unless they tripped. I went
glowering like a wild thing. I knew I'd never see Dan now nor hear his
voice again, but I hated the Lord that had done it, and I made my heart
like the nether millstone. I used to try and get out of folks's sight;
and roaming about the back-streets one day, as the snow went off, I
stumbled on Miss Catharine. "Old Miss Catharine" everybody called her,
though she was but a pauper, and had black blood in her veins. Eighty
years had withered her,--a little woman at best, and now bent so that
her head and shoulders hung forward and she couldn't lift them, and she
never saw the sky. Her face to the ground as no beast's face is turned
even, she walked with a cane, and fixing it every few steps she would
throw herself back, and so get a glimpse of her way and go on. I looked
after her, and for the first time in weeks my heart ached for somebody
beside myself. The next day mother sent me with a dish to Miss
Catharine's room, and I went in and sat down. I didn't like her at
first; she'd got a way of looking sidelong that gave her an evil air;
but soon she tilted herself backward, and I saw her face,--such a happy

"What's the matter of ye, honey?" said she. "D'ye read your Bible?"

Read my Bible!

"Is that what makes you happy, Miss Catharine?" I asked.

"Well, I can't read much myself, I don't know the letters," says she;
"but I've got the blessed promises in my heart."

"Do you want me to read to you?"

"No, not to-day. Next time you come, maybe."

So I sat awhile and listened to her little humming voice, and we fell to
talking about mother's ailments, and she said how fine it would be, if
we could only afford to take mother to Bethesda.

"There's no angel there now," said I.

"I know it, dear,--but then there might be, you know. At any rate,
there's always the living waters running to make us whole: I often think
of that."

"And what else do you think of, Miss Catharine?"

"Me?" said she. "Oh, I ha'n't got no husband nor no child to think about
and hope for, and so I think of myself, and what I should like, honey.
And sometimes I remember them varses,--here! you read 'em now,--Luke
xiii. 11."

So I read:--

"And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen
years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And
when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, 'Woman,
thou art loosed from thine infirmity.' And he laid his hands on her: and
immediately she was made straight, and glorified God."

"Ay, honey, I see that all as if it was me. And I think, as I'm setting
here, What if the latch should lift, and the gracious stranger should
come in, His gown a-sweepin' behind Him and a-sweet'nin' the air, and He
should look down on me with His heavenly eyes, and He should smile, and
lay His hands on my head, warm?--and I say to myself, 'Lord, I am not
worthy,'--and He says, 'Miss Catharine, thou art loosed from thine
infirmity!' And the latch lifts, as I think, and I wait,--but it's not

Well, when I went out of that place I wasn't the same girl that had
gone in. My will gave way; I came home and took up my burden and was in
peace. Still I couldn't help my thoughts,--and they ran perpetually to
the sea. I hadn't need to go up on the house-tops, for I didn't shut my
eyes but there it stretched before me. I stirred about the rooms and
tried to make them glad once more; but I was thin and blanched as if I'd
been rising from a fever. Father said it was the salt air I wanted; and
one day he was going out for frost-fish, and he took me with him, and
left me and my basket on the sands while he was away. It was this side
of the South Breaker that he put me out, but I walked there; and where
the surf was breaking in the light, I went and sat down and looked over
it. I could do that now.

There was the Cape sparkling miles and miles across the way, unconcerned
that he whose firm foot had rung last on its flints should ring there no
more; there was the beautiful town lying large and warm along the river;
here gay craft went darting about like gulls, and there up the channel
sped a larger one, with all her canvas flashing in the sun, and
shivering a little spritsail in the shadow, as she went; and fawning in
upon my feet came the foam from the South Breaker, that still perhaps
cradled Faith and Gabriel. But as I looked, my eye fell, and there came
the sea-scenes again,--other scenes than this, coves and corners of
other coasts, sky-girt regions of other waters. The air was soft, that
April day, and I thought of the summer calms; and with that rose long
sheets of stillness, far out from any strand, purple beneath the noon;
fields slipping close in-shore, emerald-backed and scaled with sunshine;
long sleepy swells that hid the light in their hollows, and came
creaming along the cliffs. And if upon these broke suddenly a wild
glimpse of some storm careering over a merciless mid-ocean, of a dear
dead face tossing up on the surge and snatched back again into the
depths, of mad wastes rushing to tear themselves to fleece above clear
shallows and turbid sand-bars,--they melted and were lost in peaceful
glimmers of the moon on distant flying foam-wreaths, in solemn midnight
tides chanting in under hushed heavens, in twilight stretches kissing
twilight slopes, in rosy morning waves flocking up the singing shores.
And sitting so, with my lids still fallen, I heard a quick step on the
beach, and a voice that said, "Georgie!" And I looked, and a figure,
red-shirted, towered beside me, and a face, brown and bearded and
tender, bent above me.

Oh! it was Dan!


[Footnote A: This monograph, has been prepared almost entirely from
original authorities. Citations will be found in it from letters written
by General Gage, Governor Bernard, John Pownall, Lord Barrington, and
Lord Hillsborough, which have not been heretofore printed or used. They
are from the rich historical collections of JARED SPARKS,--who has
liberally permitted the writer to use original papers as freely as
though they were his own. Among other sources from which the narrative
has been drawn is an unfinished Life of Samuel Adams, in manuscript, by
Samuel Adams Wells, for the liberal use of which, and for other papers,
the writer is indebted to GEORGE BANCROFT. The materials have been
mostly taken, however, from a compilation which the writer has had for
several years in manuscript, entitled, "The Life and Times of Joseph


As John Adams, in the evening of his life, and in the retirement of
Quincy, looked back on the scenes through which he had passed, he dwelt
on the removal of the British troops from Boston in the month of March,
1770, as an event that profoundly stirred the public mind, and thus
contributed to promote that radical change in affections and principles
on the paramount subject of sovereignty, which he regarded as
constituting the real American Revolution.

The more this chapter of history is examined, the more there will be
found in it to justify the judgment of the venerable patriot. It is
fragrant with the political aroma of the time; and the event seems
worthy to stand out in the American Revolution, like the Arrest of the
Five Members in the English Revolution. It is identified with a great
principle. It formed the crisis of an issue of the deepest moment. It
culminated in the triumph of the people when roused by passion and high
resolve to heroic manhood. The trial-scene was on so important a stage,
was so richly dramatic, had actors of such dignity of character, and was
so instinct with the national life, as "to deserve to be painted as much
as the Surrender of Burgoyne." It was the moment when Samuel Adams, in
the name of a resolute people, made the demand, as an ultimatum, for an
immediate removal of the troops. The close connection of this patriot
with the whole transaction led Lord North, ever after, to call these
troops by the title of "Sam Adams's Two Regiments."

The story of the introduction of these troops into Boston, also, is rich
in matter illustrative of the springs of political action. The narrative
soon shows that it relates to far more than an ordinary transfer of
a military force from one station to another. Such transfers are not
preceded by long hesitation in cabinets, or by long torture of peaceful
communities in expectation of their arrival. Yet such was the preface
to the landing of this force in Boston. It was sent on an uncommon
service,--a service insulting to a loyal people; and though this people
had hailed the flag that waved over it with enthusiasm from the fields
of Louisburg and Quebec, they now looked upon it with sorrowing eyes as
the symbol of arbitrary power.

These troops were ordered to Boston at an interesting period of the
American struggle. The movement against the Stamp Act, noble as it
was in the main, had phases that were deeply deplored by reflecting
patriots. Such were the riots, attended by destruction of property and
personal outrage, which, though common in England, were violative of
that reverence for law that was thoroughly ingrained in the American
character; and they were, besides, rather in the spirit of hasty and
irregular insurrection than of the slow and majestic development of
revolution. "We are not able in this way," wrote Jonathan Mayhew, "to
contend against Great Britain."

On the repeal of the Stamp Act, there was an expression of general joy,
and controversy subsided. When fresh aggressions, in, the passage of
the Revenue Acts of 1767, required a new movement, the popular leaders,
profiting by past sad experience, strove to prevent excesses, and
patiently labored to build up their cause in the growth of an
intelligent public opinion. Even in reference to obnoxious local
officials, the word ran through the ranks,--"Let there be no mobs, no
riots. Let not the hair of their scalps be touched." Hard as it is to
restrain the rash, when the popular passion is excited, not a life was
sacrificed, not a limb even was dislocated, by the patriots of Boston in
political action, until the ripe hour of the Lexington rising.

In this way Massachusetts, when called upon to stand by old customs and
rights, acted not only in a spirit of fidelity to liberty, but also in a
spirit of loyalty to law and order. Her conduct in the Stamp Act crisis
turned towards her the eyes and drew towards her the hearts of the other
Colonies, and elevated her into what was then a perilous, but is now a
proud, pre-eminence; and the call was made on her (1767) in the journals
of other Colonies, and copied into the Boston papers, as "the liberties
of a common country were again in danger," "to kindle the sacred flame
that should warm and illuminate the continent." So instinctively did the
common peril suggest the thought and expression of a common country.

The Loyalists, for years, put Boston as in a pillory for punishment. It
was (they said) the head-quarters of sedition. It was the fountain of
opposition to the Government. It was under the rule of a trained mob.
It was swayed to and fro by a few popular leaders. It was the nest of a
faction. James Otis and Samuel Adams were the two consuls. Joseph Warren
was one of the chiefs. John Hancock was possessed of great wealth and of
large social and commercial influence. Such leaders, bankrupts on the
exchange or in character, controlled everything. They controlled the
clubs,--and there was not a social company or political club that
did not claim to have to do with the Government: they controlled the
town-meetings,--and these were the instrumentalities of rebellion: and
the town-meetings controlled the legislature, and this controlled the
Province. Then the local press was filled with incendiary matter from
the cabinet of the faction. Thus the spirits who led in the clubs, the
town-meetings, and the legislature supplied the seditious writing that
was scattered broadcast over the Colonies, and poisoned as it spread.

There was some truth in this Loyalist strain. Patriotic rays gathered
and drew to a focus in Boston, and there became intensified with a
steady power. The town had jealousies to encounter and prejudices to
overcome; but, as if to the manner born, it acted in a spirit of such
comprehensive patriotism that it came to be regarded as an exponent of
the feelings of the whole country. Its key-note was Union. In fitting
words Philadelphia (1768) grandly said to Boston,--"Let us never forget
that our strength depends on our union, and our liberty on our strength;
united we conquer, divided we die." Boston returned the pledge, "warmly
to recommend and industriously to promote that union among the several
Colonies which is so indispensably necessary for the security of the

Boston at this period is usually described as a noted and opulent
trading town,--the Great Town,--the Metropolis of New England,--the
best situated for commerce in North America,--the largest city in
the American British Empire. It had the air of an English city. Its
commodious residences had spacious lawns and gardens and fields; while
the contents of its stores, as seen in advertisements that sometimes
cover a broadside of the journals, and the number of ship-yards that
are shown by the maps to have girdled the town, betoken its business
activity. Its population of sixteen thousand, with its three thousand
voters, and no pauper class, had carefully nurtured the common school,
and was characterized not only by love of order, but by enterprise,
intelligence, and public spirit. It early welcomed the doctrine of a
right in the people to interpret the religious law and to fashion, the
political law, and thus practically welcomed freedom of thought and of
utterance, and acknowledged allegiance only to truth. It had tested for
more than a century the working of this principle, as it was carried out
in the congregation and in the municipality, in the Church and in the
State. By it each citizen was made deeply interested in the support of
liberty; and thus the town had not only a public, but a public life,
quietly nurtured as worthy citizens were successively called to manage
the local affairs. It furnished the instance of a community composed of
men of small estates who very rarely had to use a mark for their name,
and imbued by the spirit of individual independence toned into a respect
for law, which, on the decline of feudalism, began to play a part on
the national stage. Thus the political character of Boston was sharply
defined and firmly fixed. It started in the republican way, went on for
over a century in republican habits, and had the priceless heirloom of
principles and traditions that were certainly life-giving, and may not
inaptly be termed national. The prediction was publicly uttered here,
two centuries ago, and printed, that a day would come when "those that
were branded before for Huguenots and Lollards and Hereticks, they
should be thought the only men to be fit to have crowns upon their
heads, and independent government committed to them"; and the crown that
shone with superior lustre was progress in things that elevate and adorn

Such a government, so far as it regarded local affairs, the people
substantially enjoyed under the protecting wing of a proud nationality.
They loved the old flag. They claimed its history as their history, and
its glory as their glory. It gave security to their rights as men, as
Christians, and as Englishmen. It thus sheltered the precious body of
civil and religious liberties which they were in the habit of speaking
of as the rights of mankind. For this they were attached to the
English Constitution. For this they said, "Dear England!" Their strong
expressions in favor of the union with Great Britain were sincere. The
turn of the words showed the honest bent of the mind. No man respected
the English Constitution more than Samuel Adams, and his strong language
now (1768) was,--"I pray God that harmony may be cultivated between
Great Britain and the Colonies, and that they may long flourish in one
undivided empire." His resolution was no less strong to stand for
local self-government. As the idea began to be entertained that the
preservation of this right might require a new nationality, nothing legs
worthy for country was thought of than a union of all the Colonies in an
American commonwealth, with one constitution, which should be supreme
over all in questions common to country, and have one flag. The great
idea was expressed by New Jersey, that the continent must protect the

This idea of creating a new nationality was forced on the Colonies by
wanton aggressions on the local self-government. There was far from
unanimity of opinion as to the acts, much less as to the ascribed
purposes of the Ministry. Setting aside a class of no-party men in peace
and of non-combatants in war, the people of Boston, as of other places,
were divided into the friends and the opponents of the Administration,
Loyalists and Whigs. The Whigs held that the new policy was flat
aggression on the old republican way, hostile to their normal political
life,--in a word, unconstitutional: the Loyalists maintained that the
new policy was required to preserve the dependence on Great Britain, and
therefore a necessity. The Whigs, zealous as they were for the local
government, claimed to be loyal to the King: the Loyalists, however
zealous for the independence of Parliament, claimed, in supporting the
supremacy of law, to be friends of freedom. As it was not the original
purpose of the Loyalists to invoke for their country the curse of
arbitrary power, so it was not the original purpose of the Whigs
to sever relations with the British crown. Men, however, are but
instruments in the hands of Providence. Both parties drifted into
measures which neither party originally proposed or even desired; and
thus the Loyalist, to maintain the sovereignty of Parliament, grew into
the defender of arbitrary power, and the Whig, to preserve the local
government, grew into the asserter of national independence.

Nor was there unanimity among the Patriots themselves as to the way in
which the Revenue Acts ought to be opposed; indeed, some were averse to
making any opposition to them; but at length the policy of uniting the
Colonies in the non-importation agreement, after being talked over
at one of the political clubs in Boston, was agreed upon at a public
meeting, and sent out to the country. Hence this was the period
fixed upon by the Ministry as the time when the popular leaders made
themselves liable to the penalties of violated law. When, in England,
the idea was entertained and acted upon, that nothing would restore the
authority of the Government but the arrest and transportation to
London of the originators of the opposition to the Revenue Acts,
Lord Hillsborough's instructions to the Massachusetts Executive ran
thus:--"The King has thought fit to direct me to signify to you his
Majesty's commands that you do take the most effectual methods for
procuring the fullest information that can be obtained touching all
treasons or misprisions of treason committed within your government
since the 30th day of December, 1767, and transmit the same to me,
together with the names of persons who were most active in the
commission of such offences."

This language was addressed to Francis Bernard, who was at this time the
highest representative of British power in Boston. He was a native of
England, an Oxford graduate, and, from the training of Solicitor
of Doctors Commons, was sent over, by the favor of aristocratic
relationship, to be the Governor of New Jersey, and now for eight years
had been Governor of Massachusetts. He was a scholar, and kept his
memory of Alma Mater fresh. He loved literature and science, could write
elegies in Latin and Greek, used to say that he could repeat the whole
of Shakspeare, and had such gifts of conversation as to charm the social
circle. His politics were of the Oxford school, and old at that. He
looked upon the people with distrust, and upon the king with veneration:
the people had good claim to be well governed, and British Imperialism
had the divine right to govern them well. He was a good hater of
republican institutions; habitually spoke of the local self-government
as a trained mob; and to it (he was not far from right here) he ascribed
the temper of the community which he was set to care for and to rule. It
was vexatious to his Tory spirit to see the democratic element, which
had excluded primogeniture and the hereditary principle and large landed
estates, so firmly bedded here, as if for a mighty superstructure; and
his reform plans tended to a change to centralization. It was a marvel
to him, that this work, which he deemed essential to the maintenance of
British power here, had not been begun long before,--that Charles II.
had not made a clean sweep of the little New England republics. He urged
that this ought to be done now,--that more general governments ought
to take their place, with executives having vice-regal powers; and of
course, being English, he urged that they should be moulded by England
into a shape as nearly as possible like England and for the benefit of
England, and thus be made homogeneous. He sighed to impose the dazzle of
a miniature St. James on reality-loving New England: as though the soil
which had been furrowed for a race of sovereigns could grow a crop of
lords; as though the Norman _role_ of privilege could be engrafted on a
society imbued with the Saxon spirit of equality: and he clinched the
absurdity of his thought by uttering the prediction, that, though the
people might bluster a little when such reform was proposed, yet they
never would resist by force; and if they did, a demonstration of British
power, such as the presence of the King's troops in a few coast-towns
and the occupation of a few harbors by the royal navy, would soon settle
the contest.

As such an arrogant official, from yet unsealed Oxford heights, thus
paternally looked down over Boston and New England, he could see in
the little self-directing communities that clustered about the village
church and the public school but a race of nobodies. He may be pardoned
for not finding greatness in art, literature, or science in the circle
that has been called the Athens of America; he could not be expected to
measure the rich and enduring fame of a Jonathan Edwards; and it was an
article in the then Oxford creed, that there could not be, unmoulded by
the influences of an hereditary nobility, such a general product as a
people lifted up by education and religion into a self-directing race of
high-minded men, as the basis of a State. But a small class of British
observers, who had other principles and other eyes, saw now in Boston
the most orderly town and the most intelligent and moral people on the
face of the earth; and said--the words were printed (1768) in London,
and reproduced in the local press here--that no people since the ruin of
the Roman Commonwealth seemed to entertain more just ideas of liberty
or breathed forth a truer spirit of independence than these American
colonists. Now Governor Bernard and his political friends regarded the
chafings of such a people at what they held to be palpable aggressions
on their established system of local government as the acts of a trained
mob, and proofs of a long-matured design to cast off allegiance to the
British crown and of an immediate purpose of insurrection; and for years
they systematically urged, and attempted to fortify their policy by the
most unscrupulous misrepresentations, that nothing could check this
anarchical element and traitorous design but the abrogation of
fundamental parts of the local constitution and the implanting of a
feudal exotic by military power. The people claimed to be as free as the
English were, and the calumnies were heaped on them of being anarchists
and rebels.

This theory of insurrection was acted upon by the Governor as long as
he remained in the Province. Every hasty word of the violent, and every
public deliberation of the wise as well, were made to nurture this
theory. By acting on such premises, besides doing gross injustice to the
people, he made himself ridiculous. Still he clung tenaciously to his
error and his plans as long as he remained in office; and even after he
returned to England, the course of the Patriots continued to strengthen
his convictions, and he wrote back that it was "plainly the design of
the chiefs of the Boston faction to measure swords with Great Britain."

Though Governor Bernard had long thought a military force necessary to
sustain the new measures, yet he refused to make a requisition for it.
He expected the Government, of its own motion, would order troops to
Boston in the time of the Stamp Act, and looked for trouble on their
arrival. "The crisis," he wrote, (September 1, 1766,) "which I apprehend
most danger from, is the introduction of King's troops into this town,
which, having become necessary to the support of the Government, will be
placed to the account of the Governor." But no troops were ordered then.
He never was able to get his Council, even when he supposed a majority
agreed with him in politics, to recommend their introduction; for no
policy or measure which even such a Council indorsed required troops to
enforce it. The Governor, however, was a zealous advocate of the new
policy of the Ministry, which he judged could not be carried out
without military force; but his point was, that, along with the stiff
instructions to carry that policy out, the Ministry ought to supply
force enough to do it.

The new Revenue Acts provided for a Board called the Commissioners of
Customs, who were empowered to collect duties along a truly imperial
line of coast, extending from Labrador to the Gulf of Mexico. They were
appointed to reside in Boston. They were five in number,--Charles
Paxton, Henry Hulton, William Burch, John Robinson, and John Temple. Not
much is said of Hulton and Burch, who appear to have been simply zealous
partisans; Robinson's violent temper is seen in his savage assault on
Otis; Temple was not in favor of the creation of the Board, and won its
enmity by taking exceptions to its doings; Paxton was charged with being
the father of the Board and its chief. He was a zealous official, with a
clean Tory record, of bland, courtlike ways, and certificated to England
as Bernard's confidential friend. There he is said to have "whined,
cried, professed, swore, and made his will in favor of that great man,"
Charles Townshend, whom, when in Boston, he had supplied with funds, and
thus gained his objects. This Board soon became a severe and chronic
local irritant. The foreign ways of its members, for most of them were
strangers, supplied the wits of the town with material for satire, while
its main acts were as iron to the soul of a high-spirited community. As
it was created to collect taxes held to be unconstitutional, it could
not have been popular; but it discharged an ungracious task in an
ungracious way; and so singularly ill-judged was its action, that, while
it excited odium here, it elicited censure in England.

The Commissioners were full believers in the theory that the popular
leaders designed insurrection. The Governor, in a letter to Lord
Barrington, (March 8, 1768,) relates that they would ask him what
support he could give them, "if there should be insurrection." "I
answer," Bernard says, "'None at all.' They then desire me to apply to
the General for troops. I tell them I cannot do it; for I am directed to
consult the Council about requiring troops, and they will never advise
it, let the case be ever so desperate. Indeed, I no more dare apply
for troops than the Council dare advise me to it. Ever since I have
perceived that the wickedness of some and the folly of others will in
the end bring troops here, I have conducted myself so as to be able to
say, and swear to it, if the Sons of Liberty shall require it, that
I have never applied for troops; and therefore, my Lord, I beg that
nothing I now write may be considered such an application." This is a
fair show for this royal official. He begins his letter by telling how,
within ten days just passed, nights have been twice fixed upon for a
mob; at the close, he returns to the matter of a mob, and tells how he
has promised the Commissioners an asylum at the Castle in case of a
mob; and he warns his superior that a mob, unchecked, "might put the
Commissioners and all their officers on board ship, and send them back
to England." This was the Governor's method of not asking for troops.
The Commissioners, at least, asked for troops in a manly way. "About a
fortnight ago," Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson writes, (March 23, 1768,)
"I was in consultation with the Commissioners. They were very desirous
the Governor should----for a R----. If he had done it, by some means
or other it would have transpired, and there is no saying to what
lengths the people would have gone in their resentment." The letter just
cited explains why the Governor did not send for a regiment.

A few days after this consultation the Patriots celebrated the
anniversary of the repeal of the Stamp Act by a day of general
rejoicing. There were things that could be perverted, and were
perverted, into signs of mob-rule and disloyalty. Daylight revealed
hanging on the Liberty Tree effigies of Commissioner Paxton and
Inspector Williams, the latter of whom, being a cabinet-maker, had a
glue-pot by his side, but by order of the popular leaders they were
soon removed; there were salutes, liberty toasts, and other joyful
demonstrations, and in the evening a procession, which was quite
harmless, though, as it went along the street by the Province House,
somewhat noisy, so that the Governor said that he and his family were
disturbed. But there was an allegation that ran deeper than processions,
and which went to the meaning of these rejoicings. The Loyalists said
that the Patriots congratulated one another on their glorious victory
over England in the repeal of the Stamp Act; and if the Tory relations
may be believed, there were men in Boston who were so foolish as
to say,--We have shown our spirit; we have convinced them of our
resentment; they repealed their foolish act; they durst not do
otherwise; if they had, we should have ruined them. And the Loyalists
said, that, when the mother-country had a right to look for gratitude,
she actually met with insult.

With such views of the day, it is easy to see how its proceedings might
be perverted. They were represented to the Ministry by Governor Bernard
as signs of a rebellious spirit; and were made the ground by the
Commissioners of a direct application to Commodore Hood, at Halifax, for
the protection of a naval force,--he being advised that the conduct
and temper of the people, the adverse aspect of things in general, the
security of the revenue, the safety of its officers, and the honor of
Government required immediate aid; and the hope being expressed that he
would find it consistent with the King's other service to afford such
assistance. The Commodore ordered the Romney to be fitted out with all
possible despatch, and, accompanied by two armed schooners, she sailed
for Boston. As they came into the harbor, being short of men, a
press-gang landed from them, who impressed on board Massachusetts
citizens. Ever since the revival of the aggressions on Colonial rights,
"Hyperion" (Josiah Quincy, Jr.) says, the Loyalists publicly threatened
the defenders of the rights of America with halters, fire, and fagots;
but there was nothing more serious than threats, or more authentic than
rumors, until this appearance of the Romney and her two tenders.

This show of naval force, though no troops came, was irritating, and
multiplied the sayings of the violent, which appear to have been
reported to the Governor, who advised the Ministry that he was "well
assured that it was the intention of the faction in Boston to cause an
insurrection against the crown officers." At this time he favored Lord
Hillsborough with a lucid explanation of a paradox,--how a few leaders
of bankrupt reputation ruled with a rod of iron the most virtuous town
in the world. "It has been a subject of wonder," are the Governor's
words, (May 19,1768,) "how the faction which harasses this town, and
through it the whole continent, which is known to consist of very few
of the lowest kind of gentry, and is directed by three or four persons,
bankrupts in reputation as well as in property, should be able to keep
in subjection the inhabitants of such a town as this, who possess a
hundred times the credit and property (I might say much more) of those
who rule them with a rod of iron. This paradox is at once solved by
showing that this town is governed by the lowest of the people, and from
the time of the Stamp Act to this hour has been and is in the hands
of the mob." He represented the friends of the Government as very
desponding, on seeing, unchecked, the imperial power treated with a
contempt not only indecent, but almost treasonable. Of such cast were
letters read to George III. in his closet, and made the basis of royal
instructions which it was claimed had the force of law.

This was an anxious hour in Boston. The journals carried into every
circle the reports, private and public, that the Ministry were resolved
upon new and decisive measures; and thus this show of force had a
painful significance. It was the common talk, that the people were
doomed to be taxed to maintain a parcel of sycophants, court
favorites, and hungry dependants; that needy lawyers from abroad
or tools of power at home would be their judges; and that
their governors, if natives, would be partisans rewarded for
mercenary service, or if foreigners, would be nobles of wasted fortunes
and greedy for salaries to replenish them. Kindling-matter from abroad
was thrown on this inflammable public mind at home; for after each
arrival the journals would be filled with the enthusiasm of the Wilkes
controversy, which then was at its height in England; and if "London
resounded the word Liberty from every corner and every voice," there was
an echo in every street and every home in Boston. The people knew they
were misrepresented and ill-used, and were sullen. They knew they were
in the right, and they were resolute.

In about a month after Governor Bernard had solved the problem how such
bankrupts in reputation as Joseph Warren, James Otis, John Hancock, and
Samuel Adams ruled the town as with a rod of iron, there was (June 10,
1768) a real mob. The Board of Customs directed the revenue officers,
for alleged violations of the revenue laws, to seize the sloop Liberty,
owned by Hancock, which they did on a Friday, near the hour of sunset,
as the men were going home from their day's work. And as though the
people contemplated forcible resistance to the law, and would refuse to
respect the arrest, the sloop, after the broad arrow was put upon her,
contrary to the advice of the Collector, was moved, with vulgar and
rough words by the officers, from the wharf where she lay, and moored
under the guns of the Romney. This was the beginning of a war of
epithets, in the usual way of brawls, between the crowd, which kept
increasing, and the custom-house officers,--and, by a sort of natural
law of mobs, grew into a riot, in which the offending officials were
severely pelted with dirt and stones. It is related, that, while Warren,
Hancock, and Samuel Adams were in consultation, the mob broke the
windows of the residences of the Comptroller and Inspector, and dragged
the pleasure-boat of the Collector to the Common, where they burned
it. But here Hancock and other popular leaders went among them, and
succeeded in restoring quiet. These were outrages, and could not be
justified, though the parents of them were the brutal words of the
captain of the Romney and the mob procedure of the officers in taking
the vessel, which was detained three days without any legal process
being filed against her. After all, this was a very slight affair when
compared with the contemporary terrific mobs of London and elsewhere,
which did not spare the highest officials, and, instead of stopping at
breaking glass, pushed into the most costly houses, made complete havoc
of furniture, destroyed life, and were checked only by military force
and bloodshed. In view of these, Colonel Barre might truly say in the
House of Commons, that, in this riot, "Boston was only mimicking the

But the officials, and especially the Commissioners, all but Temple,
chose to consider the mob as quite original and American, and as proof
that the people of Boston were ripe for open revolt. They regarded the
excitement that arose as confirming this view. The Commissioners, who
had not been harmed and were not threatened, were the most violent and
unreasonable; and though the Governor all Saturday and Sunday endeavored
to persuade them "to come into some pacific measures," yet it was all
to no purpose. On Monday morning, they, with the exception of Temple,
notified the Governor by a card that they were going on board the
Romney, and desired the necessary orders for them to use the Castle; and
they took their families with them. They immediately sent Hallowell off
to England, and advised the Lords of the Treasury,--"Nothing but the
immediate exertion of military power will prevent an open revolt of this
town, which may probably spread throughout the Colonies." Temple, and
a number of the subordinates of the Board, remained in town, were not
molested, and gathered in the revenue which importers continued to pay.

The town regarded the manner of the seizure of the Liberty as a gross
affront, and coupled with it the recent cases impressment; and on
Monday things looked threatening. But the popular leaders came out, put
themselves at the head of the movement, and guided the indignation along
the safe channels of law, in such a manner that it resulted in nothing
more violent than petition and remonstrance, calmly, but strongly,
expressed through the town-meeting. It is not necessary to detail what
took place at the Liberty Tree, in Faneuil Hall, and in the Old South,
where the Patriots held the greatest meetings, so it is written, that
were ever seen on the American continent At their commencement, on
Tuesday morning, at the Liberty Tree, the Governor, whose town-residence
was the Province House, was at his country-seat at Jamaica Plain, in
Roxbury. He received such startling advices from his friends, as to the
doings of the Sons of Liberty, that he sent one of his own sons
into town with a message desiring the immediate presence of
Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, as he was "in expectation of very
important news from town," and such as would make it necessary for
him to withdraw. While with perturbed nerves he awaited Hutchinson's
arrival, he must have been surprised to see moving towards his house,
not a Parisian populace, pell-mell, flourishing liberty-caps and pikes,
or even a growling London mob, but a peaceful train of eleven cozy
chaises, conveying a very respectable committee from a public meeting,
at the head of which were Warren, Otis, and Samuel Adams. They bore a
petition to the Governor from the town, which protested against the
right of Parliament to tax the Colonies, and denied the legality of
press-gangs in Massachusetts. "I received them," are the Governor's
words, "with all possible civility, and having heard their petition, I
talked very freely with them, but postponed giving a formal answer till
the next day, as it should be in writing. I then had wine handed round,
and they left me highly pleased with their reception, especially
that part of them which had not been used to an interview with me."
Considering the Governor's state of mind, the committee could not have
been more highly pleased when they left than he was when they arrived;
but his perturbations were over when Hutchinson came in, and there was
no occasion for unusual political action.

The Governor's reply to the town, on the next day, was conciliatory. The
petition which the committee presented to him was regarded by Hutchinson
as going beyond anything that had yet been advanced in the way of a
practical denial of Parliamentary authority; but the Governor wisely
declined to argue the vexed question of that day, and as wisely promised
redress for the press-gang outrage, all of which was highly satisfactory
to the meeting. The chairman, James Otis, made the reply more
satisfactory by acknowledging the Governor's hospitality. Still the
men who filled the Old South to overflowing did not omit the duty of
stern-worded protest against the aggressions of Parliament; and in an
elaborate and admirable paper, marked with Joseph Warren's energy of
soul, they alleged the unconstitutional imposition of taxes as the
groundwork of the recent troubles. It was oppression, and it "came down
upon the people like an armed man, though they were the subjects of an
empire which was the toast of the nations for freedom and liberty."

It was now the current rumor that this and other aggressions were to be
enforced by arms. The idea was abhorrent to the people. A committee, to
whom was referred the subject of the rumored introduction of troops,
reported to the meeting a resolve to the effect that whoever had urged
this measure was "a tyrant in his heart, a traitor and an open enemy to
his country"; but though this resolve was advocated by William Cooper,
the faithful and intrepid town-clerk, and by others, the resolution
finally adopted declared only that any person who should solicit or
promote the importation of any troops at this time was an enemy to the
town and the Province, and a disturber of the peace and good order of

The Governor was now on good terms with the people. He was in the habit
of saying that nothing which he had done would bring troops into the
town,--that he was desirous of promoting harmony between the Province
and the mother-country,--and the memorial to the Ministry in their
behalf contained the assurance that they bore "the same sentiments of
loyalty and duty towards their gracious King, and the same reverence for
the great council of the nation, the British Parliament, as ever." This
was the truth, touchingly expressed. The Bostonians never considered
the Parliament to be such an embodiment of Imperialism that it
could rightfully mould their local institutions, or control their
congregations and their town-meetings, their highways and their homes;
and always looked upon the Crown as the symbol of a national power that
would shield their precious body of customs and rights. Thus what the
Governor said on the paramount point of nationality met with an honest
response from those to whom it was addressed. "I am myself," he wrote,
(June 18,) "on better terms with the people than usual. A civil
treatment of a petition of the town to me, a plain and friendly answer
thereto, and some real service by interposing with the men-of-war, have
given me a little popularity. But it won't last a week. As soon as I
have executed the orders I have just received from the Secretary of
State, in the General Assembly, there will be an end of my popularity;
and I don't know whether I sha'n't be obliged to act like the captain of
a fire-ship,--provide for my retreat before I light my fusee."

But he quietly lighted his fusee, when the horizon became all aglow with
what to the Loyalists was the lurid flame of destruction, but to the
Patriots was as light from heaven. The occasion is too well known to
need more than a glance. The House of Representatives, on the eleventh
of February, had sent its famous Circular Letter to the other Colonies,
proposing, that, in the present crisis, there should be unity of action
among them. The Loyalists charged that this was an attempt to organize a
Confederacy, and therefore was revolutionary; the Patriots averred that
its sole object was to unite in petition and remonstrance for redress
of grievances, and therefore that it was constitutional; the Ministry
regarded the act as in the last degree dangerous to the prerogative, and
ordered Governor Bernard to demand of the House to recall or rescind
this Circular Letter. The communication of this order was what the
Governor called lighting his fusee. His daily letters show precisely his
state of mind as he touched it off. He saw a determination to resist
Great Britain; he was told that the people were making preparations to
do it; and he wrote to his relative, Viscount Barrington, who had the
_entree_ of the royal closet,--sending the letter by Hallowell,--with
rather more than the usual emphasis of error,--"I am sure that things
are coming apace to a crisis, and I fear the Bostonians will get the
start of you." In this mood the Governor sent in the arrogant British
demand. The House, (June 26, 1768,) by the memorable vote of ninety-two
to seventeen, flatly refused to comply with the royal order; whereupon
the Governor, as the punishment, dissolved the General Court; and for
many months Massachusetts was without a legislature.

These were of the order of events that take fast hold of the public
mind. Far and wide and profound was the sensation; and the unity of the
response from abroad, made known to the people through the press, was
truly inspiring. "We all rejoice," says a letter, "in what your Assembly
has done, and join in acclamations to the glorious Ninety-Two. 'Twas
certainly the most important case an American assembly ever acted upon."
This brief narrative is uncommonly suggestive. The letter of Bernard is
a testimony to the kindly disposition of the people, who were ready to
return much gratitude for little service, and who only asked to be left
to the measure of freedom that was enjoyed by their brethren in England;
the magnificent No which the House gave to the royal command shows
how they could maintain their self-respect, and stand by their local
government; and the general indorsement of the action of the House
in other Colonies indicates a community of interest in each other's

The replies of local legislatures, as they were printed from time to
time in the journals, filled the hearts of the Boston patriots with joy.
Hutchinson, who kept constant watch of these things, and who rightly
estimated the importance of the formation of public opinion,
wrote,--"The action of the other Colonies keeps up the spirit of our
demagogues. I am told Adams and Cooper say it is the most glorious day
they ever saw." They saw a general manifestation of a spirit of unity in
the support of common rights. Without union they knew they were nothing;
with union they felt equal to all things. Thus here were working two of
the elements of our political system, local self-government and American

The June mob, the public meetings, the vote of the House of
Representatives, and the union feeling supplied zealous Loyalists with
rich material to pervert into fresh argument for the necessity of
troops to keep the people in order. It was promptly seized upon. The
Commissioners set out the Boston tumults as the heralds of a rebellion
that had begun its course over the continent. They not only sent a batch
of falsehoods to England by Hallowell, but they also sent letters to
General Gage, the Commander-in-Chief, whose head-quarters were in New
York, with a request for troops, and to Commodore Hood at Halifax asking
for more ships. General Gage was surprised at not receiving letters
from the Governor, but with a soldier's promptness he at once (June 24)
tendered to Governor Bernard all the force he might need to preserve the
public peace; yet regarding it as improper to order the King's forces
into a Province to quell a riot without a requisition from the
Executive, he frankly advised the Governor to this effect. But the
Governor did not want troops to quell a riot, and said so; and in answer
to the tender, returned a long and heavy disquisition, showing why,
though he considered troops essential to the promotion of the good of
his country, he did not and would not make a formal requisition for any,
and thus, all unconsciously, betrayed and condemned himself at every
word,--for while he was talking of country, he was thinking of self.
Commodore Hood, believing that the good people of Boston were actually
on the eve of a revolt, and that the precious lives of the Commissioners
were hardly safe in Castle William, where they now were, "immediately
sent two more ships," which, he says, "secured the Castle from all
attempts at surprising it." But, according to Hutchinson, though the
people were mad, yet they were not Don Quixotes, and though a few might
have talked of attacking it, yet the Castle was in no danger, even
though no one of His Majesty's ships had been in the harbor.

The ships promptly arrived, and were moored about Castle William; but no
troops appeared, though early in July the Governor felt sure they were
ordered here from Halifax, from the fact that General Gage sent a batch
of despatches, under cover to him, addressed to Lieutenant-Colonel
Dalrymple, the senior British officer in command at that station. On
forwarding these despatches, Bernard wrote to Dalrymple,--"You know that
my situation requires that I should appear to know as little in the
proceedings of this kind as can well be. I should, therefore, be obliged
to you, if in conducting a business of this kind you would let me appear
a stranger to it until it becomes necessary to communicate it to me
officially. In the mean time any private hints, conveyed to me by a safe
hand, will be acceptable."

A straightforward British officer must have conceived contempt for such
an official, even before subsequent action on the part of this official
elicited an expression of it.

The Governor was doomed to disappointment. The orders which he
transmitted merely placed troops in readiness to proceed to Boston on
his requisition, which requisition he steadily refused to make, and he
wrote,--"The crisis awaits the arrival of the troops, and I now learn
they are not coming." He next officially laid the tender of the
Commanding General before the Council, when he found that its members
were unanimously of the opinion that troops were not required. Now this
body contained decided Loyalists; and this unanimity of opinion appears
to have amazed the Governor. He advised Lord Barrington, that the fact
convinced him that he could "no longer depend upon the Council for the
support of the small remains of royal and parliamentary power now
left, the whole of which had been gradually impeached, arraigned, and
condemned under his eye"; which was arrant party-misrepresentation. He
further expressed the opinion that the sending of troops to Boston ought
to be a business of quartering and cantonment. "It is no secret," he
said, "that this ought to have been done two years and a half ago. If it
had, there would have been no opposition to Parliament now, and above
all, no such combinations as threaten (but I hope vainly) the overthrow
of the British Empire. If provision was to have been made against
faction and sedition, the head-quarters should have been secured."
Instead of this, "Boston has been left under a trained mob from August
14, 1765, to this present July 23, 1768."

While these things had been going on here, the die as to Massachusetts
and Boston had been cast in the British cabinet, by the conclusion to
place a military force at the command of the Governor. This decision was
reached before the June meeting or the June riot; and it is quite in
vain to seek the real reason for it in what appears on paper about the
processions on the eighteenth of March or the equally insignificant
prior manifestations. Hutchinson and Gage and other Loyalists admitted
that all these were trifles. The Ministers were no strangers to mobs;
even if there had been as violent ones in Boston as there were in
London, they could not have acted upon them as proofs of disloyalty.
Besides the calumnies that made out the popular leaders to be
anarchists, that perverted love of the local government into a
desire for independence, there was one that touched the pride of the
mother-country; for the Loyalists said of the Bostonians,--(there
is nothing like the language of the time to embody the spirit of
the time,)--that "every dirty fellow, just risen from his kennel,
congratulated his neighbor on their glorious victory over England; and
they were so intoxicated with their own vast importance, that the lowest
wretch among them conceived himself superior to the first English
merchant." This was falsehood; for it is certain that the joy for
the repeal of the Stamp Act was joy for harmony restored between the
Colonies and Great Britain.

Thus, owing to such representations, while the people of Boston were
deliberating in the great town-meetings of June, orders were on their
way to General Gage, whose head-quarters were in New York, to place
troops in Castle William, to station a detachment in Boston, and to
keep a naval force in the harbor. The despatch of Lord Hillsborough,
addressed to Governor Bernard, communicating this conclusion, was
elaborate and able, and laid down in full the policy of the Government.
The instructions were based on the pretence that Boston was "in
possession of a licentious and unrestrained mob"; that it was animated
by a disposition "to resist the laws and to deny the authority of
Parliament"; and that the alleged "illegal and unwarrantable measures
which had been pursued in opposing the officers of the revenue in the
execution of their duty, and for intimidating the civil magistrates,
showed the necessity of strengthening the hands of the Government."
This despatch refers to five of Bernard's letters as containing such
representations. It is worthy of remark, that Lord Hillsborough sharply
rebuked the Governor for having all along asked the advice of the
Council as to the introduction of the troops; for to admit such a
function in the Council, he said, was to concede a power inconsistent
with the Constitution. "It is you," are the official words, "to whom the
Crown has delegated its authority, and you alone are responsible for the
best use of it."

This action was unknown to the popular leaders, and the month of August
passed in doubt as to whether the Ministers would be persuaded to
quarter troops in Boston. The town was remarkably quiet, when the
Governor issued (August 3, 1768) a proclamation against riots, and
calling all magistrates to suppress tumults and unlawful assemblies, and
to restore vigor and firmness to the Government. "It cannot be wondered
at," said "Determinatus," (August 8,) in the "Gazette," "if the
mother-country should think that we are in a state of confusion equal
to what we hear from the orderly and very polite cities of London and
Westminster. There, we are told, is the weavers' mob, the seamen's mob,
the tailors' mob, the coal-miners' mob, and some say the clergy's mob;
and, in short, it is to be feared the whole kingdom, always excepting
the * * * * and P----t, will unite in one general scene of tumult.
I sincerely pray for the peace and prosperity of the nation and her
colonies, whose interest, if she would open her eyes, she would clearly
discern to be undivided." The journals during this month have full
details of these mobs. The coal-heavers of Wapping destroyed property
and committed murders, and two thousand keel-men and sailors of
Sunderland fairly beat off the King's troops that were sent against them
from Newcastle. Happily such want of reverence for law was unknown in
Boston or the Province. Still the Governor kept on representing that he
was under the control of a mob; and another day of rejoicing gave
him another opportunity of misrepresenting the people. This was the
fourteenth of August, being the third celebration of the uprising
against the Stamp Act. In the procession on this occasion there was one
man who had had a hand in the attack on the Lieutenant-Governor's house
on the twenty-sixth of August, and had in consequence incurred the
penalty of death, and who was now celebrating his mob-exploits; and at
the head of the procession were two Boston merchants, who thus were
charged with countenancing mobs. The Governor well knew that the
Patriots abhorred the outrages of the twenty-sixth of August as much as
they gloried in the uprising against the stamp-duty on the fourteenth of
August. Hutchinson, moreover, was a good deal disturbed by the public
affronts put upon the Commissioners, who were still at the Castle,
though their subordinates were in town collecting the revenue. The
Cadets, on motion of Hancock, voted to exclude them from the usual
public dinner; and the town voted to refuse the use of Faneuil Hall for
the dinner, unless with the stipulation that the Commissioners were not
to be invited. Such proceedings, with petitions and resolutions, made
nearly the whole outrage of the Boston "trained mob" that the Governor
talked about. Yet he affected to be in fear of an insurrection, and on
the last day of the month whiningly wrote,--"The town is at present just
as defensible as it was two years ago,--not a sergeant's guard of real
soldiers within two hundred miles of it."

In a few days after, on a Saturday night, William Sheriff, aide-de-camp
to General Gage, arrived in town from New York, which he left on
Wednesday morning, bearing the following letter to Governor Bernard, the
original of which is indorsed, "Received Sept. 3."

* * * * *


"New York, Aug. 31,1768.

"Sir,--It is not necessary to trouble you with any answers to your
letters, and I only acknowledge the receipt of them.

"I am now to acquaint you that I have received orders to send forces
to Boston, and would regulate the number to be sent agreeable to your
opinion of the number that will be necessary. Captain Sheriff, my
aide-de-camp, goes to Boston under pretence of private business, and
will deliver you this letter. He is directed to settle this matter with
you; and you may rely on his discretion, prudence, and secrecy. I have
intrusted him with a letter of orders to the commander of his Majesty's
forces at Halifax to embark with the 14th Regiment, and left a blank in
the letter for Captain Sheriff to fill up with the like order for the
29th Regiment, in case you shall judge it proper to have the whole or
any part of the 29th Regiment, as well as the 14th, and not think one
regiment a sufficient force. When you shall have fixed the matter with
Captain Sheriff, you will be so good as to send me immediate notice,
that I may without delay write you a public letter to demand quarters
for the numbers that will be ordered into your Province. The contents of
this, as well as your answer, and everything I now transact with you,
will be kept a profound secret, at least on this side of the Atlantic.

"It is submitted in my letters, whether it would not be advisable, as
troops will probably continue at Boston, to take possession of Castle
William, which, being a place of some strength, may in case of emergency
be of great service, and it is said to belong to the Crown.

"You will be so good as to fix with Captain Sheriff, whether you would
have the whole, or any part of the troops ordered to Boston, quartered
in Castle William. If you should be of opinion that troops stationed
there will not answer the intention of sending them to Boston, for the
purposes of enforcing a due obedience to the laws, and protecting and
supporting the civil magistrates and the officers of the Crown in the
execution of their duty, part may be stationed there, and part in the
town. Should you require both the regiments from Halifax, one of them,
or three or four companies of one of them, might be quartered in the
Castle, and you would then have an entire regiment and five companies of
another in the city. I mention this, but leave it to your determination;
and you will regulate this matter with Captain Sheriff according to the
number of troops you think necessary to be sent to Boston. You will be
pleased to give me notice of your resolves on this head.

"I don't know if you can supply bedding for such of the troops as you
would choose to be lodged in the Castle; if not, Captain Sheriff will
write to Lieutenant-Colonel Dalrymple to bring bedding with him from
Halifax, sufficient for the number of men you shall fix upon for the
garrison of Castle William.

"I have the honor to be with great regard,

"Your most obedient,
"Humble servant,

Such was the mode in which the Sam Adams Regiments were ushered into
Boston According to this letter, the Governor himself, substantially,
gave the order that brought all but the Fourteenth Regiment,--an order
which was to "be kept a profound secret, at least on this side of the

At this time the mass of the citizens Boston were very bitter and
suspicious towards all who were in any way supposed to be concerned in
urging the introduction of troops among them; because troops had come to
be looked upon as means of subjugating them to laws to which they never
would give their consent through their representatives. The fiery Josiah
Quincy, Jr., would say,--"Before the freeborn sons of the North will
yield a general and united submission to any tyrannic power on earth,
fire and sword, desolation and ruin, will ravage the land." The intrepid
Samuel Adams would say,--"Before the King and Parliament shall dragoon
us, and we become slaves, we will take up arms and our last drop of
blood." The calm Andrew Eliot would say,--"You cannot conceive of our
distress: to have a standing army! What can be worse to a people who
have tasted the sweets of liberty?" Hutchinson wrote,--"Many of the
common people were in a frenzy, and talked of dying in defence of their
liberties," while "too many above the vulgar countenanced and encouraged
them." Such was the intensity of the public feeling; such the
earnestness with which liberty was ranked above material prosperity. It
was now to be seen whether the American cause was to suffer shipwreck on
the rock of premature insurrection, or whether it was to be led on by
such cautious and wise steps as develop into the majesty of revolution.

The present public alarm was occasioned by vague statements from abroad
or rumors started at home as to the coming of a military force. Troops
were ordered in from the outposts of Canada to Halifax; an unusual naval
force was gathering at that station; it was said that the destination of
both was Boston: but the Governor persisted in denying that he had
done anything that would bring troops here, and kept on playing the
know-nothing. This created a painful suspense, and, to cool observers,
the policy of the Government appeared inexplicable. But however deep
may have been the indignation of the people at the prospect of military
rule, it was no part of the plan of the popular leaders, if troops came
here, to resist the landing, or to allow the rash spirits, who are ever
ready for any imprudence, to do so; but their object was to fix in the
public mind a just sense of the rights thus violated, to guide the
general indignation into a safe channel of action, and thus turn the
insult to the benefit of the general cause.

Two days after the Governor received the letter of General Gage, a
communication appeared in the "Boston Gazette," under the head of
"READER! ATTEND!" which arraigned, with uncommon spirit and boldness,
the course of the officials who were urging the policy of arbitrary
power, as having a direct tendency "to dissolve the union between Great
Britain and her colonies." It proposed to remonstrate against this
policy to the King, and at the same time to declare that "there was
nothing this side eternity they dreaded more than being broken off
from his government." In urging resistance to this course the author
said,--"We will put our lives in our hands, and cry to the Judge of all
the Earth, who will do right."

This paper, like many similar appeals in that well-stored Liberty
arsenal, the "Boston Gazette," had the genuine Liberty ring, yet there
was in it nothing very unusual; but the royal circle at the Province
House lived in an unusual atmosphere, and this article came sounding in
among them like a great moral Dahlgren. "In the Boston Gazette of the
fifth instant," the Governor, with his usual acuteness, wrote to the
Secretary of State, "appeared a paper containing a system of politics
exceeding all former exceedings. Some took it for the casual ravings of
an occasional enthusiast. But I persuaded myself that it came out of the
cabinet of the faction, and was preparatory to some actual operations
against the Government. In this persuasion, I considered, that, if the
troops from Halifax were to come here on a sudden, there would be no
avoiding an insurrection, which would at least fall upon the crown
officers, if it did not amount to an opposition to the troops. I
therefore thought it would be best that the expectation of the troops
should be gradually communicated, that the heads of the faction might
have time to consider well what they were about, and prudent men
opportunity to interpose their advice." Accordingly (September 8) he
"took an occasion to mention to one of the Council, in the way of
discourse, that he had private advice that troops were ordered to
Boston, but had no public orders about it"; and before night, the
Governor adds, the intelligence was all over the town.

Before night, too, a petition, addressed to the Selectmen, was
circulating all over the town, and large numbers were affixing their
names to it. It prayed that the town might be legally convened to
require of the Governor the reasons for his declaration that three
regiments might be daily expected, and "to consider of the most wise,
consistent, and salutary measure suitable to meet the occasion." The
Selectmen acted promptly, (John Hancock was on the Board,) and summoned
the citizens to meet on the Monday following. In this way, openly before
men, not covertly like a body of conspirators, did the solid men and
prudent men of Boston prepare for council.

Though the Governor averred that his object, in his verbal
communication, was to give a chance for an interposition of such sound
advice, yet to Lord Hillsborough he actually represented the call
and the movement of these men as proofs that the long-contemplated
insurrection was now at hand. He informed the Secretary, that on the
next evening (Friday) there was a large private meeting, where "it was
the general opinion that they should raise the country and oppose the
troops"; and that on the succeeding evening (Saturday) there was a very
small private meeting at the house of one of the chiefs, where it was
resolved "to surprise and take the Castle the Monday night following."
The Governor evidently had misgivings about its being the fact that such
an object was planned. "I don't," he said, "relate these as facts,
but only as reported and believed." I have found no account of the
Friday-evening meeting, which undoubtedly was a meeting of one of the
political clubs of the time; but on Saturday evening James Otis and
Samuel Adams met at Warren's residence in Hanover Street (on the site
of the American House) for conference as to Monday's meeting,--for
instance, to draw up the resolves and decide upon the action that might
be expedient: whatever may have been the warmth of expression of popular
leaders, or the wishes of extremists among the people, the whole object
of this conference was to concentrate and use only the moral force of
public opinion; and there is not a trace of a design of insurrection in
all the known private correspondence of these patriots.

However, the belief in insurrection, at this time, appears to have been
as strongly rooted in the minds of prominent Loyalists as it was in the
mind of the again perturbed Governor. Signs of what is thought to be
near at hand are apt to be seen or fancied; and it was so in this case.
Somebody had put a turpentine barrel in the skillet that hung at the top
of the beacon-pole on Beacon Hill. Now it had been designed, for a
long time, by such a mode of bonfire, to alarm the country, in case of
invasion. This fact was put with another fact, namely, that the beacon
had been newly repaired; and from the two facts was drawn the startling
inference, that matters were ready for a rising in the town, and for
giving the concerted signal to summon in the country to aid this
rising,--and this, too, when the Governor had not a sergeant's guard
of real soldiers nearer than two hundred miles. And now members of the
Council flocked to the Governor and demanded a meeting of this imposing
body; and a meeting was promptly held at a gentleman's residence
half-way between Boston and Jamaica Plain, where, after grave debate
about taking down the barrel, it was finally voted to make a formal
demand on the Board of Selectmen to order it to be done. On the next
day, (Sunday,) the Fathers of the Town held a special meeting to
consider the vote of the Council, which resulted in declining to act on
this matter of taking down the barrel as too trivial. About the hour of
dining, on this day, however, Sheriff Greenleaf gave some peace to the
frightened officials by repairing to Beacon Hill with half a dozen
others and removing the obnoxious barrel, which proved to be empty. The
public did not hear the last of this affair for months, as may be seen
in the affidavits about it, afterwards, in the journals.

There was really no ground for all this alarm. The popular leaders, from
the excited state of the public mind, might have been apprehensive of an
explosion from the rash, which they meant, if possible, to prevent, and
if it came, to repress; but the Loyalist leaders would have it that
there was a deep-laid plot even for a revolution. "It is now known," is
Governor Bernard's malicious misrepresentation, as he reviewed these
scenes and justified the introduction of the troops, "that the plan was
to seize the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor and take possession of the
treasury, and then set up their standard." He said that five hundred men
had been enrolled to take the Castle, and it was likely that the names,
at least of the chief of them, would be discovered. There is no such
list in thirteen folio volumes of his correspondence. Hutchinson's
misrepresentation was as mischievous, but more cautious; for he assured
his British correspondents that at the time when the troops landed in
Boston the Province was on the brink of ruin, and that their arrival
prevented the most extravagant measures,--though, he said, he did not
certainly know what the dark designs of the heads of the opposition

On the morning of the town-meeting, (September 12,) Governor Bernard
believed that the popular leaders were resolved not merely to capture
the crown officials, but to resume the first charter, which, he said,
had not a single ingredient of royalty in it. But while he was looking
for insurrection, a committee of the highest respectability waited on
him, and asked him to be pleased to communicate to the town the grounds
and assurances on which he had intimated his apprehensions that one or
more regiments might he daily expected. On the next day the Governor
replied in writing,--"My apprehensions that some of his Majesty's troops
are to be expected in Boston arise from information of a private nature;
I have received no public letters notifying to me the coming of such
troops." The information came by letter from the only official in the
country who could order troops into Boston, and yet he said it was
private; according to this letter, he must have decided on the number of
troops that were to come, and yet he prattled about apprehensions. Such
was the way in which a royal Governor of the Stuart school dealt with
a people filled with patriotic concern for their country. It is the
dealing of a small man. If he can escape the charge of deliberate
falsehood, it is only, on demurrer, by the plea of a contemptible

It is not necessary here to follow the noble popular demonstrations that
rounded off by a delegate convention, which, at the simple request of
Boston, assembled in Faneuil Hall. The officials, who had long played
falsely with a liberty-loving, yet loyal people, now fairly quailed
before the whirlwind of their righteous indignation. Two days after
Bernard had "intimated his apprehensions," as though steps had
been taken to countermand the order for the troops, the following
semi-official doubt appeared in the "News-Letter":--"It is conjectured
that there are troops to come here; but at present we can find no
authentic accounts of it, nor that any person has declared that they
actually are, though there is great probability that they will soon be
here, if ever." This, from a Loyalist source, is a singularly worded
paragraph, and is richly Delphic.

The circular letter which Boston addressed (September 14) to the towns,
calling a Convention, accurately states the object of the military force
that was now expected:--"The design of these troops is, in every one's
apprehension, nothing short of enforcing by military power the execution
of Acts of Parliament, in the forming of which the Colonies have not,
and cannot have, any constitutional influence. This is one of the
greatest distresses to which a free people can be reduced." The object
of the Convention is as accurately stated to be, "to prevent any sudden

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