Project Gutenberg's The Bay State Monthly, Vol. 1, Issue 1., by Various This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: The Bay State Monthly, Vol. 1, Issue 1. A Massachusetts Magazine of Literature, History, Biography, And State Progress Author: Various Posting Date: October 14, 2012 [EBook #9174] Release Date: October, 2005 First Posted: September 11, 2003 Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK BAY STATE MONTHLY, VOL 1, ISSUE 1 *** Produced by Joshua Hutchinson, David Garcia and Distributed Proofreaders
Abbott, Josiah Gardner John Hatch George
An Incident of Sixteen Hundred and Eighty-Six Mellen Chamberlain
Ansart, Louis Clara Clayton
Arthur, Chester Alan Ben: Perley Poore
Beacon Hill Before the Houses David M. Balfour
Boston Tea-Party, The
Boston, The First Schoolmaster of Elizabeth Porter Gould
Boston, The Siege of, Developed Henry B. Carrington, U.S.A., LL.D.
Boston Young Men's Christian Association, The Russell Sturgis, Jr.
Boundary Lines of Old Groton, The Samuel Abbott Green, M.D.
British Force and the Leading Losses in the Revolution
British Losses in the Revolution
Bunker Hill Henry B. Carrington, U.S.A., LL.D.
Butler, Benjamin Franklin
Chelsea William E. McClintock, C.E.
Defence of New York, 1776, The Henry B. Carrington, U.S.A., LL.D.
Dungeon Rock, Lynn Frank P. Harriman
Early Harvard Josiah Layfayette Seward, A.M.
Esoteric Buddhism.—A Review Lucius H. Buckingham, Ph.D.
Fac-Simile Reprint of Daniel Webster's Fourth-of-July Oration, Delivered in 1800.
Family Immigration to New England, The Thomas W. Bicknell, LL.D.
First Baptist Church in Massachusetts, The Thomas W. Bicknell, LL.D.
First Schoolmaster of Boston, The Elizabeth Porter Gould
From the White Horse to Little Rhody Charles M. Barrows
Fuller, George Sidney Dickinson
Gifts to Colleges and Universities Charles F. Thwing
Groton, The Boundary Lines of Old Samuel Abbott Green, M.D.
Groton, The Old Stores and the Post-Offices of Samuel Abbott Green, M.D.
Groton, The Old Taverns and Stage-Coaches of Samuel Abbott Green, M.D.
Harvard, Early Josiah Lafayette Seward, A.M.
Historic Trees: The Washington Elm; The Eliot Oak L.L. Dame
Lancaster in Acadie and the Acadiens in Lancaster Henry S. Nourse
Lovewell's War John N. McClintock, A.M.
Loyalists of Lancaster, The Henry S. Nourse
Massachusetts, The First Baptist Church in Thomas W. Bicknell, LL.D.
Massachusetts, Young Men's Christian Associations of Russell Sturgis, Jr.
New England, The Family Immigration to Thomas W. Bicknell, LL.D.
New England Town-House, The J.B. Sewall
New York, 1776, The Defence of Henry B. Carrington, U.S.A., LL.D.
Ohio Floods, The George E. Fencks
Old Stores and the Post-Office of Groton, The Samuel Abbott Green, M.D.
Old Taverns and Stage-Coaches of Groton, The Samuel Abbott Green, M.D.
One Summer.—A Reminiscence Annie Wentworth Baer
Perkins, Captain George Hamilton George E. Belknap, U.S.N.
Poet of the Bells, The E.H. Goss
Railway Mail Service, The Thomas P. Cheney
Reuben Tracy's Vacation Trips Elizabeth Porter Gould
Revolution, British Force and Leading Losses in the
Revolution, British Losses in the
Rice, Alexander Hamilton Daniel B. Hagar, Ph.D.
Siege of Boston Developed, The Henry B. Carrington, U.S.A., LL.D.
Town and City Histories Robert Luce
Webster, Colonel Fletcher Charles Cowley, LL.D.
Webster, Daniel, Fourth-of-July Oration of
Wilder, Marshall P. John Ward Dean, A.M.
Young Men's Christian Associations Russell Sturgis, Jr.
Young Men's Christian Associations of Massachusetts Russell Sturgis, Jr.
Bells of Bethlehem, The James T. Fields
His Greatest Triumph Henrietta E. Page
Rent Veil, The Henry B. Carrington
Song of the Winds Henry B. Carrington
Tuberoses Laura Garland Carr
Yesterday Kate L. Brown
The editors of THE BAY STATE MONTHLY, having decided to begin in its pages a series of articles devoted to the material advancement and prosperity of Massachusetts, and the record of her past greatness, have selected the Honorable Marshall Pinckney Wilder as a representative man, and have decided that his memoir shall be the initial article in the series, and also in this periodical. He has as a merchant won for himself a high position, and by his enterprise has essentially advanced the business of the city and the State. He has also been active in developing our manufacturing industries, while his name is first on all lips when those who have increased the products of the soil are named. His life affords a striking example of what can be achieved by concentration of power and unconquerable perseverance. The bare enumeration of the important positions he has held and still holds, and the self-sacrificing labors he has performed, is abundant evidence of the extraordinary talent and ability, and the personal power and influence, which have enabled him to take a front rank as a benefactor to mankind.
MARSHALL PINCKNEY WILDER, whose Christian names were given in honor of Chief-Justice Marshall and General Pinckney, eminent statesmen at the time he was born, was the eldest son of Samuel Locke Wilder, Esq., of Rindge, New Hampshire, and was born in that town, September 22, 1798. His father, a nephew of the Reverend Samuel Locke, D.D., president of Harvard College, for whom he was named, was thirteen years a representative in the New Hampshire legislature, a member of the Congregational church in Rindge, and held important town offices there. His mother, Anna, daughter of Jonathan and Mary (Crombie) Sherwin (married May 2, 1797), a lady of great moral worth, was, as her son is, a warm admirer of the beauties of nature.
The Wilders are an ancient English family, which The Book of the Wilders, published a few years ago, traces to Nicholas Wilder, a military chieftain in the army of the Earl of Richmond at the battle of Bosworth, 1485. There is strong presumptive evidence that the American family is an offshoot from this. President Chadbourne, the author of The Book of the Wilders, in his life of Colonel Wilder gives reasons for this opinion. The paternal ancestors of Colonel Wilder in this country performed meritorious services in the Indian wars, in the American Revolution, and in Shays' Rebellion. His grandfather was one of the seven delegates from the county of Worcester, in the Massachusetts convention of 1788, for ratifying the Constitution of the United States, who voted in favor of it. Isaac Goodwin, Esq., in The Worcester Magazine, vol. ii, page 45, bears this testimony: "Of all the ancient Lancaster families, there is no one that has sustained so many important offices as that of Wilder,"
At the age of four, Marshall was sent to school, and at twelve he entered New Ipswich Academy, his father desiring to give him a collegiate education, with reference to a profession. When he reached the age of sixteen, his father gave him the choice, either to qualify himself for a farmer, or for a merchant, or to fit for college. He chose to be a farmer; and to this choice may we attribute in no small degree the mental and physical energy which has distinguished so many years of his life. But the business of his father increased so much that he was taken into the the store. He there acquired such habits of industry that at the age of twenty-one he became a partner, and was appointed postmaster of Rindge.
In 1825, he sought a wider field of action and removed to Boston. Here be began business under the firm-name of Wilder and Payson, in Union Street; then as Wilder and Smith, in North Market Street; and next in his own name at No. 3 Central Wharf. In 1837, he became a partner in the commission house of Parker, Blanchard, and Wilder, Water Street; next Parker, Wilder, and Parker, Pearl Street; and since Parker, Wilder, and Company, Winthrop Square, having continued until this time in the same house for forty-seven years. Mr. Wilder has lived to be the oldest commission merchant in domestic fabrics in active business in Boston. He has passed through various crises of commercial embarrassments, and yet he has never failed to meet his obligations. He was an original director in the Hamilton (now Hamilton National) Bank and in the National Insurance Company. The former trust he has held for fifty-two years, and the latter for forty years. He has been a director in the New England Mutual Life Insurance Company for nearly forty years, and also a director in other similar institutions.
But trade and the acquisition of wealth have not been the all-engrossing pursuits of his life. His inherent love of rural pursuits led him, in 1832, to purchase his present estate in Dorchester, originally that of Governor Increase Sumner, where, after devoting a proper time to business, he has given his leisure to horticulture and agriculture He has spared no expense, he has rested from no efforts, to instil into the public mind a love of an employment so honorable and useful. He has cultivated his own grounds, imported seeds, plants, and trees, and endeavored by his example to encourage labor and elevate the rank of the husbandman. His garden, greenhouses, and a forest of fruit-trees have occupied the time he could spare from business, and here he has prosecuted his favorite investigations, year after year, for half a century, to the present day.
Soon after the Massachusetts Horticultural Society was formed, Mr. Wilder was associated with the late General Henry A.S. Dearborn, its first president, and from that time till now has been one of its most efficient members, constantly attending its meetings, taking part in its business and discussions, and contributing largely to its exhibitions. Four years since, he delivered the oration on the occasion of its semi-centennial. One of the most important acts of this society was the purchase of Mount Auburn for a cemetery and an ornamental garden. On the separation of the cemetery from the society, in 1835, through Mr. Wilder's influence committees were appointed by the two corporations, Judge Story being chairman of the cemetery committee, and Mr. Wilder of the society committee. The situation was fraught with great difficulties; but Mr. Wilder's conservative course, everywhere acknowledged, overcame them all and enabled the society to erect an elegant hall in School Street, and afterward the splendid building it now occupies in Tremont Street, the most magnificent horticultural hall in the world. It has a library which is everywhere acknowledged to be the best horticultural library anywhere. In 1840, he was chosen president, and held the office for eight successive years. During his presidency the hall in School Street was erected, and two triennial festivals were held in Faneuil Hall, which are particularly worthy of notice. The first was opened September 11, 1845, and the second on the fiftieth anniversary of his birth, September 22, 1848, when he retired from the office of president, and the society voted him a silver pitcher valued at one hundred and fifty dollars, and caused his portrait to be placed in its hall. As president of this association he headed a circular for a convention of fruit-growers, which was held in New York, October 10. 1848, when the American Pomological Society was formed. He was chosen its first president, and he still holds that office, being in his thirty-third year of service. Its biennial meetings have been held in New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Boston, Rochester, St. Louis, Richmond, Chicago, and Baltimore; and it will hold its next meeting in Detroit. On these occasions President Wilder has made appropriate addresses. The last meeting was held, September, 1883, in Philadelphia, when his last address was delivered. In this address, with his usual foresight, he proposed a grand reform in the nomenclature of fruits for our country, and asked the co-operation of other nations in this reform.
In February, 1849, the Norfolk Agricultural Society was formed. Mr. Wilder was chosen president, and the Honorable Charles Francis Adams, vice-president. Before this society his first address on agricultural education was delivered. This was a memorable occasion. There were then present, George N. Briggs, the governor, and John Reed, the lieutenant-governor, of the State, Daniel Webster, Edward Everett, Horace Mann, Levi Lincoln, Josiah Quincy, president of Harvard University, General Henry A.S. Dearborn, Governor Isaac Hill, of New Hampshire, the Reverend John Pierpont, Josiah Quincy, Jr., Charles Francis Adams, and Robert C. Winthrop,—of which galaxy of eminent men, the last two only are now living. It was the first general effort in that cause in this country. He was president twenty years, and on his retirement he was constituted honorary president, and a resolution was passed recognizing his eminent ability and usefulness in promoting the arts of horticulture and agriculture, and his personal excellence in every department of life. He next directed his efforts to establishing the Massachusetts board of agriculture, organized as the Massachusetts Central Board of Agriculture, at a meeting of delegates of agricultural societies in the State, held at the State House, September, 1851, in response to a circular issued by him as president of the Norfolk Agricultural Society. He was elected president, and held the office till 1852, when it became a department of the State, and he is now the senior member of that board. In 1858, the Massachusetts School of Agriculture was incorporated, and he was chosen president; but before the school was opened Congress granted land to the several States for agricultural colleges, and in 1865 the Legislature incorporated the Massachusetts Agricultural College. He was named the first trustee. In 1871, the first class was graduated, and in 1878 he had the honor of conferring the degree of Bachelor of Science on twenty young gentlemen graduates. He delivered addresses on both occasions. In 1852, he issued a circular in behalf of several States for a national meeting at Washington, which was fully attended, and where the United States Agricultural Society was organized. Daniel Webster and a host of distinguished men assisted in its formation. This society, of which he was president for the first six years, exercised a beneficial influence till the breaking out of the late Civil War. On Mr. Wilder's retirement he received the gold medal of honor and a service of silver plate. He is a member of many other horticultural and agricultural societies in this and foreign lands.
Colonel Wilder, at an early age, took an interest in military affairs. At sixteen he was enrolled in the New Hampshire militia, and at twenty-one he was commissioned adjutant. He organized and equipped the Rindge Light Infantry, and was chosen its captain. At twenty-five five he was elected lieutenant-colonel, and at twenty-six was commissioned as colonel of the Twelfth Regiment.
Soon after his removal to Boston he joined the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. In 1856, he was chosen commander of the corps, being the one hundred and fifty-fifth in command. He had four times previously declined nominations. He entered into correspondence with Prince Albert, commander of the Royal Artillery Company of London, founded in 1537, of which this corps, chartered in 1638, is the only offspring. This correspondence established a friendly intercourse between the two companies. In June, 1857, Prince Albert was chosen a special honorary member of our company, and twenty-one years later, in 1878, Colonel Wilder, who then celebrated the fiftieth or golden anniversary of his own membership, nominated the Prince of Wales, the present commander of the London company, as an honorary member. Both were commanders of the Honorable Artillery Company of London when chosen. The late elegantly illustrated history of the London company contains a portrait of Colonel Wilder as he appeared in full uniform on that occasion.
In 1839, he was induced to serve for a single term in the Massachusetts Legislature, as a representative for the town of Dorchester. In 1849, he was elected a member of Governor Briggs's Council, and the year following a member of the senate and its president, and he is the the oldest ex-president of the senate living. In 1860, he was the member for New England of the national committee of the "Constitutional Union Party," and attended, as chairman of the Massachusetts delegation, the national convention in Baltimore, where John Bell and Edward Everett were nominated for President and Vice-President of the United States.
He was initiated in Charity Lodge, No. 18, in Troy, New Hampshire, at the age of twenty-five, exalted to the Royal Arch Chapter, Cheshire No. 4, and knighted in the Boston Encampment. He was deputy grand master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and was one of the six thousand Masons who signed, December 31, 1831, the celebrated "Declaration of the Freemasons of Boston and Vicinity"; and at the fiftieth anniversary of that event, which was celebrated in Boston two years ago, Mr. Wilder responded for the survivors, six of the signers being present. He has received all the Masonic degrees, including the 33d, or highest and last honor of the fraternity. At the World's Masonic Convention, in 1867, at Paris, he was the only delegate from the United States who spoke at the banquet.
On the seventh of November, 1849, a festival of the Sons of New Hampshire was celebrated in Boston. The Honorable Daniel Webster presided, and Mr. Wilder was the first vice-president. Fifteen hundred sons of the Granite State were present. The association again met on the twenty-ninth of October, 1852, to participate in the obsequies of Mr. Webster at Faneuil Hall. On this occasion the legislature, and other citizens, of New Hampshire were received at the Lowell railway-station, and were addressed by Mr. Wilder in behalf of sons of that State resident in Boston.
The Sons celebrated their second festival, November 2, 1853, at which Mr. Wilder occupied the chair as president, and delivered one of his most eloquent speeches. They assembled again, on June 20, 1861, to receive and welcome a New Hampshire regiment of volunteers, and escort them to the Music Hall, where Mr. Wilder addressed them in a patriotic speech on their departure for the field of battle.
The two hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of the settlement of Dorchester was celebrated on the Fourth of July, 1855. The oration was by Edward Everett; Mr. Wilder presided, and delivered an able address. On the central tablet of the great pavilion was this inscription: "Marshall P. Wilder, president of the day. Blessed is he that turneth the waste places into a garden, and maketh the wilderness to blossom as a rose."
In January, 1868, he was solicited to take the office of president of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, vacated by the death of Governor Andrew. He was unanimously elected, and is now serving the seventeenth year of his presidency. At every annual meeting he has delivered an appropriate address. In his first address he urged the importance of procuring a suitable building for the society. In 1870, he said: "The time has now arrived when absolute necessity, public sentiment, and personal obligations, demand that this work be done, and done quickly." Feeling himself pledged by this address, he, as chairman of the committee then appointed, devoted three months entirely to the object of soliciting funds, during which time more than forty thousand dollars was generously contributed by friends of the association; and thus the handsome edifice at No. 18 Somerset Street was procured. This building was dedicated to the use of the society, March 18, 1871. He has since obtained donations, amounting to upward of twelve thousand dollars, as a fund for paying the salary of the librarian.
In 1859, he presided at the first public meeting called in Boston, in regard to the collocation of institutions on the Back Bay lands, where the splendid edifices of the Boston Society of Natural History and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology now stand. Of the latter institution he has been a vice-president, and the chairman of its Society of Arts, and a director from the beginning. General Francis A. Walker, the present president of the Institute, bore this testimony to his efforts in its behalf at the in banquet to Mr. Wilder on his eighty-fifth anniversary: "Through all the early efforts to attract the attention of the legislature and the people to the importance of industrial and art education, and through the severe struggles which so painfully tried the courage and the faith even of those who most strongly and ardently believed in the mission of the Institute, as well as through the happier years of fruition, while the efforts put forth in the days of darkness and despondency were bearing their harvest of success and fame, Colonel Wilder was through all one of the most constant of the members of the government in his attendance; one of the most hopeful in his views of the future of the school; ever a wise counsellor and a steadfast ally."
He was one of the twelve representative men appointed to receive the Prince of Wales in 1860, at the banquet given him in Boston, Edward Everett being chairman of the committee; also one of the commissioners in behalf of the Universal Exposition in Paris, 1867, when he was placed at the head of the committee on horticulture and the cultivation and products of the vine, the report of which was published by act of Congress.
In 1869, he made a trip to the South, for the purpose of examining its resources; and in 1870, with a large party, he visited California. The result of Mr. Wilder's observations has been given to the public in a lecture before the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture, which was repeated before the Boston Mercantile Library Association, Amherst College, the Massachusetts Agricultural College, Dartmouth College, the Horticultural Society, the merchants of Philadelphia, and bodies in other places.
His published speeches and writings now amount to nearly one hundred in number. A list to the year 1873 is printed in the Cyclopaedia of American Literature. Dartmouth College, as a testimonial to his services in science and literature, conferred upon him, in the year 1877, the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
The Honorable Paul A. Chadbourne, LL.D., late president of Williams College in a recent Memoir of Mr. Wilder remarks: "The interest which Colonel Wilder has always manifested in the progress of education, as well as the value and felicitous style of his numerous writings, would lead one to infer at once that his varied knowledge and culture are the results of college education. But he is only another illustrious example of the men who, with only small indebtedness to schools, have proved to the world that real men can make themselves known as such without the aid of the college, as we have abundantly learned that the college can never make a man of one who has not in him the elements of noble manhood before he enters its halls."
In 1820, Mr. Wilder married Miss Tryphosa Jewett, daughter of Dr. Stephen Jewett, of Rindge, a lady of great personal attractions. She died on a visit to that town, July 21, 1831, leaving four children. On the twenty-ninth of August, 1833, Mr. Wilder was united to Miss Abigail, daughter of Captain David Baker of Franklin, Massachusetts, a lady of education, accomplishments, and piety, who died of consumption, April 4, 1854, leaving five children. He was married a third time on the eighth of September, 1855, to her sister, Miss Julia Baker, who was admirably qualified to console him and make his dwelling cheerful, and who has two sons, both living. No man has been more blessed in domestic life. We know not where there would be a more pleasing picture of peace and contentment exhibited than is found in this happy family. In all his pursuits and avocations, Mr. Wilder seems to have realized and practised that grand principle, which has such a bearing and influence on the whole course of life—the philosophy of habit, a power almost omnipotent for good or evil. His leisure hours he devotes to his pen, which already has filled several large volumes with descriptions and delineations of fruits and flowers, proved under his own inspection, and other matters pertaining to his various relations in life.
Colonel Wilder has shown us by his life what an individual may accomplish by industry, perseverance, and the concentration of the intellectual powers on grand objects. Without these, no talent, no mere good fortune could have placed him in the high position he has attained as a public benefactor. He has been pre-eminent in the establishment and development of institutions. Few gentlemen have been called upon so often, and upon such various occasions, to take the chair at public meetings or preside over constituted societies. Few have acquitted themselves so happily, whether dignity of presence, amenity of address, fluency of speech, or dispatch of business, be taken into consideration. As a presiding officer he seems "to the manner born." His personal influence has been able to magnetize a half-dying body into new and active life. This strong personal characteristic is especially remarked among his friends. No one can approach him in doubt, in despondency, or in embarrassment, and leave him without a higher hope, a stronger courage, and a manlier faith in himself. The energy which has impelled him to labor still exists.
Mr. Wilder is now president of the New England Historic Genealogical and Society, the American Pomological Society, and the Massachusetts Agricultural Club. He is senior trustee of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, and senior member of the State Board of Agriculture, and of the executive committee of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. He is senior director in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Hamilton National Bank, the New England Mutual Life Insurance Company, and the Home Savings Bank. He is an honorary member of the Royal Historical Society of Great Britain; a corresponding member of the Royal Horticultural Society of London, and the Société Centrale d' Horticulture of France; and a fellow of the Reale Accademia Araldica Italiana of Pisa.
Well did Governor Bullock on a public occasion speak of Mr. Wilder as "one who has applied the results of his well-earned commercial earnings so liberally that in every household and at every fireside in America, when the golden fruits of summer and autumn gladden the sideboard and the hearthstone, his name, his generosity, and his labors are known and honored." He is also known and honored abroad. The London Gardener's Chronicle, the leading agricultural paper in Europe, in April, 1872, gave his portrait and a sketch of his life, in which is introduced the following merited compliment:—
"We are glad to have the opportunity of laying before our readers the portrait of one of the most distinguished of transatlantic horticulturists, and one who, by his zeal, industry, and determination, has not only conferred lasting benefits on his native country, but has by his careful experiments in hybridization and fruit-culture laid the horticulturists of all nations under heavy obligations to him. The name and reputation of Marshall P. Wilder is as highly esteemed in Great Britain as they are in America."
In closing this sketch, we may remark that complimentary banquets were given him on the eightieth and the eighty-fifth anniversaries of his birth. On the former occasion, September 22, 1878, the Reverend James H. Means, D.D., his pastor for nearly thirty years, the Honorable Charles L. Flint, secretary of the Board of Agriculture, the Honorable John Phelps Putnam, judge of the Massachusetts Superior Court, and others, paid tributes to the high moral character, the benevolent disposition, and the eminent services, of the honored guest of the evening.
The last banquet, September 22, 1883, on his completing the ripe age of eighty-five, was a much more important occasion. The banquet was held, as the former was, at the Parker House, in Boston, and over one hundred gentlemen participated, among whom were some of the most distinguished persons in this and other States. Charles H.B. Breck, Esq., vice-president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society presided, and the venerable Reverend Dr. George W. Blagden invoked a blessing. Mr. Breck addressed Mr. Wilder, who responded. Addresses were then made by a number of Mr. Wilder's friends, among them the Honorable Alexander H. Rice and the Honorable Nathaniel P. Banks, ex-governors of Massachusetts, his Honor Oliver Ames, lieutenant-governor of the State, his Honor Albert Palmer, mayor of Boston, General Joshua L. Chamberlain, ex-governor of Maine, the Honorable Frederick Smyth, ex-governor of New Hampshire, Professor J.C. Greenough, president of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, General Francis A. Walker, president of the Institute of Technology, the Honorable Francis B. Hayes, president of the Horticultural Society, the Reverend Edmund F. Slafter, corresponding secretary of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, John E. Russell, secretary of the State Board of Agriculture, and Major Ben: Perley Poore, secretary of the United States Agricultural Society, and ex-commander of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. Other societies with which Mr. Wilder is connected were also represented, as the Massachusetts Society for the Promotion of Agriculture, the New England Agricultural Society, the New England Life Insurance Company, the Hamilton Bank, the Home Savings Bank, the Grand Lodge of Masons, and the Second Church of Dorchester. Letters were received from the Honorable Robert C. Winthrop, president of the Massachusetts Historical Society, his Excellency Benjamin F. Butler, governor, and the Honorables John D. Long, William Claflin, and Thomas Talbot, ex-governors of the State, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, the Honorable Dr. George B. Loring, United States Commissioner of Agriculture, and the Honorable Francis W. Bird, president of the Bird Club, The addresses and letters are to be printed in full. A few extracts follow:
Dr. Holmes referred to Mr. Wilder as: "The venerable and venerated friend who has outlived the fruits of fourscore seasons, and is still ripening as if his life were all summer."
Mr. Winthrop wrote: "No other man has done so much for our fields and gardens and orchards. He has distinguished himself in many other lines of life, and his relations to the Legislature of Massachusetts and to the Historic Genealogical Society will not soon be forgotten. But his name will have its most enduring and most enviable association with the flowers and fruits for whose culture he was foremost in striving, both by precept and example. He deserves a grateful remembrance as long as a fine pear is relished or a brilliant bouquet admired."
Governor Rice said: "There is hardly a public enterprise of the last three generations, scarcely a pursuit in life, or an institution of patriotism, discipline, or charity, that does not bear the signet of his touch and feel the vigor of his co-operation. Why, sir, it may be said, almost with literal truth, that the trees which this great arborist has planted and cultivated and loved are not more numerous than the evidences of his handiwork in all the useful and beneficent departments of life; and all the flowers that shall grow to the end of time ought to bear fragrance to his memory."
Mayor Palmer said: "Time would fail me to recount his great and honorable services to society and the State. It must suffice to say that no name of this century is written more imperishably in the affection and esteem of Boston and Massachusetts than the name of him, our honored guest."
Dr. Loring wrote: "It is with pride and satisfaction that the business associations of the city of Boston can point to him as a representative of that mercantile integrity which gives that city its distinguished position among the great commercial centres of the world."
Governor Banks said: "I can scarcely enumerate, much less analyze, the numerous and important social and national enterprises which make the character and career of our distinguished guest illustrious."
Governor Chamberlain said: "We rejoice in this honored old age,—this youth, rounded, beautified, and sweetened into supreme manhood; and we rejoice also that it shall remain for after times an example and inspiration for all who would live true lives, and win the honor that comes here and hereafter to noble character."
President Greenough thus spoke:—"The line of buildings which to-day at Amherst graces one of the fairest landscapes in New England, and the sound and practical education which they were built to secure, are to be a lasting monument to his foresight, his patriotism, and his eloquent persuasion."
Mr. Russell said: "To him the agriculture of the Commonwealth owes a debt that can never be paid; the records of our board are a monument of his good works more enduring than brass. And, sir, in view of his venerable years, so lightly borne, his interest in all the active affairs of men, and his continued powers of social enjoyment, I may well repeat the wish of the poet Horace, expressed in one of his invocations to the Emperor Augustus: 'Serus in coelum redeas.'"
Major Poore said: "Mr. President, I am confident that the distinguished gentlemen around these tables will long remember to-night, and recall with pleasure its varied homages to Colonel Wilder, thankful that we have so pure a shrine, so bright an oracle, as the common property of all who reverence virtue, admire manhood, or aspire to noble deeds. Succeeding years will not dim the freshness of Colonel Wilder's fame; and the more frequently we drink at this fountain, the sweeter we shall find its waters.
'You may break, you may shatter the vase, if you will, But the scent of the roses will hang round it still.'"
It has been said that there is nothing contrived by man which has produced so much happiness as a good tavern. Without granting or denying the statement, all will agree that many good times have been passed around the cheerful hearth of the old-fashioned inn.
The earliest tavern in Groton, of which there is any record or tradition, was kept by Samuel Bowers, Jr., in the house lately and for a long time occupied by the Champney family. Mr. Bowers was born in Groton on December 21, 1711, and, according to his tombstone, died on "the Sixteenth Day of December Anno Domini 1768. Half a hour after Three of the Clock in ye Afternoon, and in the Fifty Eight year of his age." He kept the house during many years, and was known in the neighborhood as "land'urd Bowers,"—the innkeeper of that period being generally addressed by the title of landlord. I do not know who succeeded him in his useful and important functions.
The next tavern of which I have any knowledge was the one kept by Captain Jonathan Keep, during the latter part of the Revolution. In The Independent Chronicle (Boston), February 15, 1781, the Committee of the General Court for the sale of confiscated property in Middlesex County, advertise the estate of Dr. Joseph Adams, of Townsend, to be sold "at Mr. Keep's, innholder in Groton." This tavern has now been kept as an inn during more than a century. It was originally built for a dwelling-house, and, before the Revolution, occupied by the Reverend Samuel Dana; though since that time it has been lengthened in front and otherwise considerably enlarged. Captain Keep was followed by the brothers Isaiah and Joseph Hall, who were the landlords as early as the year 1798. They were succeeded in 1825 by Joseph Hoar, who had just sold the Emerson tavern, at the other end of the village street. He kept it for nearly twenty years,—excepting the year 1836, when Moses Gill and his brother-in-law, Henry Lewis Lawrence, were the landlords,—and sold out about 1842 to Thomas Treadwell Farnsworth. It was then conducted as a temperance house, at that time considered a great innovation on former customs. After a short period it was sold to Daniel Hunt, who kept it until 1852, and he was followed by James M. Colburn, who had it for two years. It then came into the possession of J. Nelson Hoar, a son of the former landlord, who took it in 1854, and in whose family it has since remained. Latterly it has been managed by three of his daughters, and now is known as the Central House. It is the only tavern in the village, and for neatness and comfort can not easily be surpassed.
In the list of innholders, near the end of Isaiah Thomas's Almanack, for 1785, appears the name of Richardson, whose tavern stood on the present site of the Baptist church. It was originally the house owned and occupied by the Reverend Gershom Hobart, which had been considerably enlarged by additions on the north and east sides, in order to make it more suitable for its new purposes. Mine host was Captain Jephthah Richardson, who died on October 9, 1806. His father was Converse Richardson, who had previously kept a small inn, on the present Elm Street, near the corner of Pleasant. It was in this Elm Street house that Timothy Bigelow, the rising young lawyer, lived, when he first came to Groton. Within a few years this building has been moved away. Soon after the death of Captain Jephthah Richardson, the tavern was sold to Timothy Spaulding, who carried on the business until his death, which occurred on February 19, 1808. Spaulding's widow subsequently married John Spalter, who was the landlord for a short time. About 1812 the house was rented to Dearborn Emerson, who had been possession of it for a few years.
During the War of 1812 it was an inn of local renown; and a Lieutenant Chase had his headquarters here for a while, when recruiting for the army. He raised a company in the neighborhood, which was ordered to Sackett's Harbor, near the foot of Lake Ontario. The men were put into uniforms as they enlisted, and drilled daily. They were in the habit of marching through the village streets to the music of the spirit-stirring drum and the ear-piercing fife; and occasionally they were invited into the yard of some hospitable citizen, who would treat them to "the cups that cheer but not inebriate," when taken in moderation. William Kemp was the drummer, and Wilder Shepley the fifer, both noted musicians in their day. Sometimes his brother, Moses Kemp, would act as fifer. William is still alive, at the advanced age of nearly ninety-five years, and gives many reminiscences of that period. He was born at Groton on May 8, 1789, and began to drum in early boyhood. His first appearance in the public service was during the year 1805, as drummer of the South Company of Groton, commanded by Luther Lawrence, afterward the mayor of Lowell. He has been the father of nine children, and has had thirty grandchildren, thirty-three great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. Mr. Kemp can even now handle the drumsticks with a dexterity rarely equaled; and within a short time I have seen him give an exhibition of his skill which would reflect credit on a much younger person. Among the men enlisted here during that campaign were Marquis D. Farnsworth, Aaron Lewis, William Shepley, and John Woodward, of this town; and James Adams, and his son, James, Jr., of Pepperell.
It was about the year 1815 that and Dearborn Emerson left the Richardson tavern, and moved down the street, perhaps thirty rods, where he opened another public house on the present site of Milo H. Shattuck's store. The old tavern, in the meantime, passed into the hands of Daniel Shattuck, who kept it until his death, which occurred on April 8, 1831. The business was then carried on during a short time by Clark Tenny, who was followed by Lemuel Lakin, and afterward by Francis Shattuck, a son of Daniel, for another brief period. About the year 1833 it was given up entirely as a public house, and thus passed away an old landmark widely known in those times. It stood well out on the present road, the front door facing down what is now Main Street, the upper end of which then had no existence. In approaching the tavern from the south, the road went up Hollis Street and turned to the left somewhere south of the Burying-Ground. The house afterward was cut up and moved off, just before the Baptist meeting-house was built. My earliest recollections carry me back faintly to the time when it was last used as a tavern, though I remember distinctly the building as it looked before it was taken away.
Dearborn Emerson married a sister of Daniel Brooks, a large owner in the line of stage-coaches running through Groton from Boston to the northward; and this family connection was of great service to him. Jonas Parker, commonly known as "Tecumseh" Parker, was now associated with Emerson in keeping the new hotel. The stage business was taken away from the Richardson tavern, and transferred to this one. The house was enlarged, spacious barns and stables were erected, and better accommodations given to man and beast,—on too large a scale for profit, it seems, as Parker and Emerson failed shortly afterward, This was in the spring of 1818, during which year the tavern was purchased by Joseph Hoar, who kept it a little more than six years, when he sold it to Amos Alexander. This landlord, after a long time, was succeeded in turn by Isaac J. Fox, Horace Brown, William Childs, Artemas Brown, John McGilson, Abijah Wright, and Moses Gill. It was given up as a hotel in 1856, and made into a shoe factory; and finally it was burned. Mr. Gill had the house for eight years, and was the last landlord. He then opened a public house directly opposite to the Orthodox church, and called it The Globe, which he kept for two years. He was succeeded by Stephen Woods, who remained only one year, after which time this also was given up as a public house.
Another hostelry was the Ridge Hill tavern, situated at the Ridges, three miles from the village, on the Great Road to Boston. This was built about the year 1805, and much frequented by travelers and teamsters. At this point the roads diverge and come together again in Lexington, making two routes to Boston. It was claimed by interested persons that one was considerably shorter than the other,—though the actual difference was less than a mile. In the year 1824 a guide-board was set up at the crotch of the roads, proclaiming the fact that the distance to Lexington through Concord was two miles longer than through Carlisle. Straightway the storekeepers and innholders along the Concord road published a counter-statement, that it had been measured by sworn surveyors, and the distance found to be only two hundred and thirty-six rods further than by the other way.
The first landlord of the Ridge Hill tavern was Levi Parker, noted for his hospitality. He was afterward deputy-sheriff of Middlesex County, and lived in Westford. He was followed, for a short time, by John Stevens, and then by John H. Loring, who conducted the house during many years, and was succeeded by his son Jefferson. After him came Henry L. Lawrence, who kept it during one year; he was followed by his brother-in-law, Moses Gill, who took the tavern in April, 1837, and kept it just five years. When Mr. Gill gave up the house, he was followed by one Langdon for a short time, and he in turn by Kimball Farr as the landlord, who had bought it the year previously, and who remained in charge until 1868. During a part of the time when the place was managed by Mr. Farr; his son Augustus was associated with him. Mr. Farr sold the tavern to John Fuzzard, who kept it for a while, and is still the owner of the property. He was followed by Newell M. Jewett; the present landlord is Stephen Perkins, a native of York, Maine, who took it in 1880. The house had been vacant for some years before this time. A fair is held here regularly on the first Tuesday of every month, for the sale of horses, and buyers are attracted from a long distance. At one time this property was owned by Judge Samuel Dana, who sold it to John H. Loring.
As early as the year 1798 there was a tavern about a mile from the Ridges, toward Groton. It was kept by Stephen Farrar, in the house now standing near where the brook crosses the Great Road. Afterward one Green was the landlord. The house known as the Levi Tufts place in this neighborhood was an inn during the early part of this century, conducted by Tilly Buttrick. Also about this time, or previously, the house situated south of Indian Hill, and occupied by Charles Prescott,—when the map in Mr. Butler's History was made,—was an inn. There was a tavern kept from the year 1812 to 1818 by a Mr. Page, in Mr. Gerrish's house, near the Unitarian church in the village. There was also a tavern, near the present paper-mills of Tileston and Hollingsworth, kept for many years (1825-55) by Aaron Lewis, and after him for a short time by one Veazie. It was originally the house of John Capell, who owned the sawmill and gristmill in the immediate neighborhood. Amos Adams had an inn near Squannacook, a hundred years ago, in a house now owned by James Kemp.
Just before and during the Revolution a tavern was kept by George Peirce, in the south part of the town, within the present limits of Ayer. This landlord was probably the inn-holder of Littleton, whose name appears in The Massachusetts Gazette, of August 8, 1765. The house was the one formerly owned by the late Calvin Fletcher, and burned March 25, 1880. It was advertised for sale, as appears from the following advertisement in The Boston Gazette, September 27, 1773:—
To be Sold at PUBLIC VENDUE, to the highest Bidder, on Wednesday the 3d Day of November next, at four o'Clock in the Afternoon (if not Sold before at Private Sale) by me the Subscriber, A valuable FARM in Groton, in the County of Middlesex, pleasantly situated on the great County Road, leading from Crown Point and No. 4 to Boston: Said Farm contains 172 Acres of Upland and Meadow, with the bigger Part under improvement, with a large Dwelling House and Barn, and Out Houses, together with a good Grist Mill and Saw Mill, the latter new last Year, both in good Repair, and on a good Stream, and within a few Rods of the House. Said Farm would make two good Livings, and would sell it in two Divisions, or together, as it would best suit the Purchaser. Said House is situated very conveniently for a Tavern, and has been improved as such for Ten Years past, with a Number of other Conveniences, too many to enumerate. And the Purchaser may depend upon having a good warrantee Deed of the same, and the bigger Part of the Pay made very easy, on good Security. The whole of the Farming Tools, and Part of the Stock, will be sold as above-mentioned, at the Subscriber's House on said Farm. GEORGE PEIRCE. Groton, Aug. 30, 1773.
The gristmill and sawmill, mentioned in the advertisement, were on Nonacoicus Brook. In the Gazette, of November 15, 1773, another notice appears, which shows that the tavern was not sold at the time originally appointed. It is as follows:—
The Publick are hereby Notified that the Sale of the FARM in Groton, which was to have been sold the 3d Instant on the Premisses, at the House of Mr. George Peirce, is adjourn'd to the house of Mr. Joseph Moulton, Innholder in Boston, where it will certainly be Sold to the highest Bidder, on Wednesday the 1st Day of December next, at 4 o'Clock, P.M.
The following advertisement appears in The Independent Chronicle (Boston), September 19, 1808; the site of the farm was near that of Peirce's inn, just mentioned. Stone's tavern was afterward kept by one Day, and subsequently burned.
A FARM—for Sale, Containing 140 acres of Land, situated in the South part of Groton, (Mass.) with a new and well-finished House, Barn, & Out-houses, and Aqueduct, pleasantly situated, where a Tavern has been kept for the last seven years;—a part of the whole will be sold, as best suits the purchaser. For further particulars, inquire of THO's B. RAND, of Charlestown, or the Subscriber, living on the Premises. Sept. 12. JESSE STONE.
About a generation ago an attempt was made to organize a company for the purpose of carrying on a hotel in the village, and a charter was obtained from the Legislature. The stock, however, was not fully taken up, and the project fell through. Of the corporators, Mr. Potter and Mr. Smith still survive. Below is a copy of the act:—
An Act to incorporate the Groton Hotel Company. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives, in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:— SECT. 1. Luther F. Potter, Nathaniel P. Smith, Simeon Ames, their associates and successors, are hereby made a corporation, by the name of the Groton Hotel Company, for the purpose of erecting, in the town of Groton, buildings necessary and convenient for a public house, with all the powers and privileges, and subject to all the liabilities, duties, and restrictions, set forth in the forty-fourth chapter of the Revised Statutes. SECT. 2. Said corporation may hold such real and personal property, as may be necessary and convenient for the purposes aforesaid, not exceeding in amount twenty thousand dollars: provided, that no shares in the capital stock of said corporation shall be issued for a less sum or amount, to be actually paid in on each, than the par value of the shared which shall be first issued. And if any ardent spirits, or intoxicating drinks of any kind whatever, shall be sold by said company, or by their agents, lessees, or persons in their employ, contrary to law, in any of said buildings, then this act shall be void. [Approved by the Governor, May 2, 1850.]
In the spring of 1852, a charter was given to Benjamin Webb, Daniel D.R. Bowker, and their associates, for the purpose of forming a corporation to carry on a hotel at the Massapoag Springs, in the eastern part of this town, but the project fell through. It was to be called the Massapoag Spring Hotel, and its capital stock was limited to $30,000. The act was approved by the Governor, May 18, 1852, and it contained similar conditions to those mentioned above in regard to the sale of liquors. These enterprises are now nearly forgotten, though the mention of them may revive the recollections of elderly people.
During the first half of the present century Groton had one characteristic mark, closely connected with the old taverns, which it no longer possesses. It was a radiating centre for different lines of stage-coaches, until this mode of travel was superseded by the swifter one of the railroad. During many years the stage-coaches were a distinctive feature of the place; and their coming and going was watched with great interest, and created the excitement of the day. In early times the drivers, as they approached the village, would blow a bugle in order to give notice of their arrival; and this blast was the signal at the taverns to put the food on the table. More than a generation has now passed away since these coaches were wont to be seen in the village streets. They were drawn usually by four horses, and in bad going by six. Here a change of coaches, horses, and drivers was made.
The stage-driver of former times belonged to a class of men that has entirely disappeared from this community. His position was one of considerable responsibility. This important personage was well known along his route, and his opinions were always quoted with respect. I can easily recall the familiar face of Aaron Corey, who drove the accommodation stage to Boston for so many years. He was a careful and skilful driver, and a man of most obliging disposition. He would go out of his way to bear a message or leave a newspaper; but his specialty was to look after women and children committed to his charge. He carried, also, packages and parcels, and largely what is to-day entrusted to the express. I recall, too, with pleasure, Horace George, another driver, popular with all the boys, because in sleighing-time he would let us ride on the rack behind, and even slacken the speed of his horses so as to allow us to catch hold of the straps.
Some people now remember the scenes of life and activity that used to be witnessed in the town on the arrival and departure of the stages. Some remember, too, the loud snap of the whip which gave increased speed to the horses, as they dashed up in approved style to the stopping-place, where the loungers were collected to see the travelers and listen to the gossip which fell from their lips. There were no telegraphs then, and but few railroads in the country. The papers did not gather the news so eagerly, nor spread it abroad so promptly, as they do now, and items of intelligence were carried largely by word of mouth.
The earliest line of stage-coaches between Boston and Groton was the one mentioned in The Columbian Centinel, April 6, 1793. The advertisement is headed "New Line of Stages," and gives notice that—
A Stage-Carriage drives from Robbins' Tavern, at Charles-River Bridge, on Monday and Friday, in each week, and passing through Concord and Groton, arrives at Wyman's tavern in Ashley [Ashby?] in the evening of the same days; and after exchanging passengers there, with the Stage-Carriage from Walpole, it returns on Tuesdays and Saturdays, by the same route to Robbins's.
The Charlestown Carriage drives also from Robbins' on Wednesday in each week, and passing through Concord, arrives at Richardson's tavern, in Groton, on the evening of the same day, and from thence returns on Thursday to Robbins'.
Another Carriage drives from Richardson's tavern in Groton, on Monday in each week, at six o'clock in the morning, and passing by Richardson's tavern in Concord at ten o'clock in the forenoon, arrives at Charlestown at three o'clock in the afternoon. From Charlestown it drives on Tuesday and Thursday in each week, at three o'clock in the afternoon, and returns back as far as Richardson's tavern in Concord—and from that place it starts at 8 o'clock in the mornings, of Wednesday and Friday, and runs again to Charlestown. From there it moves at six o'clock on Saturday morning, and returns to Richardson's tavern in Groton, in the evening of the same day.
It was probably one of these "Carriages" to which allusion is made in Mr. Winthrop's Memoir of the Honorable Nathan Appleton,[Footnote: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, v, 249, 250.] as follows:—
At early dusk on some October or November evening, in the year 1794, a fresh, vigorous, bright-eyed lad, just turned of fifteen, might have been seen alighting from a stage-coach near Quaker Lane,[Footnote: Now Congress Street.] as it was then called, in the old town of Boston. He had been two days on the road from his home in the town of New Ipswich, in the State of New Hampshire. On the last of the two days, the stage-coach had brought him all the way from Groton in Massachusetts; starting for that purpose early in the morning, stopping at Concord for the passengers to dine, trundling them through Charlestown about the time the evening lamps were lighted, and finishing the whole distance of rather more than thirty miles in season for supper. For his first day's journey, there had been no such eligible and expeditious conveyance. The Boston stage-coach, in those days, went no farther than Groton in that direction. His father's farm-horse, or perhaps that of one of the neighbors, had served his turn for the first six or seven miles; his little brother of ten years old having followed him as far as Townsend, to ride the horse home again. But from there he had trudged along to Groton on foot, with a bundle-handkerchief in his hand, which contained all the wearing apparel he had, except what was on his back.
It has been said that the first public conveyance between Boston and Groton was a covered wagon, hung on chains for thoroughbraces: perhaps it was the "Charlestown Carriage," mentioned in the advertisement. It was owned and driven by Lemuel Lakin, but after a few years the owner sold out to Dearborn Emerson.
The following advertisement from The Columbian Centinel, June 25, 1800, will give a notion of what an undertaking a trip to Boston was, at the beginning of the century:—
GROTON STAGE. The subscriber respectfully informs the public that he drives the Stage from Boston to Groton, running through Lexington, Concord, and Littleton, to Groton: Starts from Boston every Wednesday morning, at 5 o'clock, and arrives at Groton the same day; Starts from Groton every Monday morning, at 7 o'clock, and arrives at Boston the same day at 4 o'clock. Passage through, 2 dols. per mile, 4d. DANBORN EMERSON. Seats taken at Mr. SILAS DUTTON'S in Royal Exchange Lane. Newspapers supplied on the road, and every attention paid to conveyances.
The given name of Emerson was Dearborn, and not "Danborn," which is a misprint. Two years later he was running a stage-coach from Groton to New Ipswich, New Hampshire, and on the first return trip he brought three passengers,—according to the History of New Ipswich (page 129). Emerson was a noted driver in his day; and he is mentioned, with pleasant recollections, by the Honorable Abbott Lawrence, in an after-dinner speech at the jubilee of Lawrence Academy, on July 12, 1854. Subsequently he was the landlord of one of the local taverns.
It is advertised in The Massachusetts Register, for the year 1802, that the
GROTON Stage sets off from J. and S. Wheelock's [Indian Queen Inn], No. 37 Marlboro-Street [now a part of Washington Street, Boston], every Wednesday at 4 o'clock in the morning, and arrives at Groton at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, same day; leaves Groton every Monday at 4 o'clock in the morning, and arrives in Boston at 6 o'clock in the afternoon, same day. (Pages 19, 20.)
It seems from this notice that it took three hours longer to make the trip down to Boston than up to Groton,—of which the explanation is not clear. In the Register for 1803 a semi-weekly line is advertised, and the same length of time is given for making the trip each way.
About the year 1807 there was a tri-weekly line of coaches to Boston, and as early as 1820 a daily line, which connected at Groton with others extending into New Hampshire and Vermont. Soon after this time there were two lines to Boston, running in opposition to each other,—one known as the Union and Accommodation Line, and the other as the Telegraph and Despatch.
One of the drivers for the Telegraph and Despatch line was Phineas Harrington, known along the road as "Phin" Harrington. He had orders to take but eight passengers in his coach, and the trip was made with remarkable speed for that period. "Phin" was a man of small size, and the story used to be told of him that, on cold and stormy nights, he would get inside of one of the lamps fixed to his box in order to warm his feet by the lighted wick! He passed almost his whole life as a stage-man, and it is said that he drove for nearly forty years, He could handle the reins of six horses with more skill than any other driver in town.
William Shephard and Company advertise in The Groton Herald, April 10, 1830, their accommodation stage. "Good Teams and Coaches, with careful and obliging drivers, will be provided by the subscribers." Books were kept in Boston at A.M. Brigham's, No. 42 Hanover Street, and in Groton at the taverns of Amos Alexander and Joseph Hoar. The fare was one dollar, and the coach went three times a week.
About this time George Flint had a line to Nashua, and John Holt another to Fitchburg. They advertise together in the Herald, May 1, 1830, that "no pains shall be spared to accommodate those who shall favor them with their custom, and all business intrusted to their care will be faithfully attended to." The first stage-coach from this town to Lowell began to run about the year 1829, and John Austin was the driver. An opposition line was established soon afterward, and kept up during a short time, until a compromise was made between them, Later, John Russ was the owner and driver of the line to Lowell, and still later, John M. Maynard the owner. Near this period there was a coach running to Worcester, and previously one to Amherst, New Hampshire.
The following is a list of some of the old drivers, who were well known along their respective routes. It is arranged in no particular order and by no means complete; and the dates against a few of the names are only approximations to the time when each one sat on the box:—
Lemuel Lakin was among the earliest; and he was followed by Dearborn Emerson. Daniel Brooks drove to Boston during the period of the last war with England, and probably later.
Aaron Corey drove the accommodation stage to Boston, through Carlisle, Bedford, and Lexington, for a long time, and he had previously driven the mail-coach. He was succeeded by his son, Calvin, the driver for a few years, until the line was given up in 1850. Mr. Corey, the father, was one of the veterans, having held the reins during thirty-two years; he died March 15, 1857, at the age of seventy-three.
Isaac Bullard, 1817-30; William Smart, 1825-30; George Hunt, Jonathan Buttrick, Thomas A. Staples, Obediah Kendall, Albert Hayden, Charles Briggs, Levi Robbins, James Lord, Frank Brown, Silas Burgess, Augustus Adams, William Dana, Horace Brown, Levi Wheeler, Timothy Underwood, —— Bacon, Horace George, 1838-45; Lyman W. Gushing, 1842-45, and Joseph Stewart. These drove to Boston. After the stages were taken off, "Joe" Stewart drove the passenger-coach from the village to the station on the Fitchburg Railroad, which ran to connect with the three daily trains for Boston. The station was three miles away, and now within the limits of Ayer.
Among the drivers to Keene, New Hampshire, were Kimball Danforth, 1817-40; Ira Brown, Oliver Scales, Amos Nicholas, Otis Bardwell, Abel Marshall, the brothers Ira and Hiram Hodgkins, George Brown, Houghton Lawrence, Palmer Thomas, Ira Green, Barney Pike, William Johnson, Walter Carleton, and John Carleton. There were two stage routes to Keene, both going as far as West Townsend in common, and then separating, one passing through Ashby, Rindge, and Fitzwilliam, while the other went through New Ipswich and Jaffrey.
Anson Johnson and Beriah Curtis drove to Worcester; Addison Parker, Henry L. Lawrence, Stephen Corbin, John Webber, and his son, Ward, drove to Lowell; the brothers Abiel and Nathan Fawcett, Wilder Proctor, and Abel H. Fuller, to Nashua; Micah Ball, who came from Leominster about the year 1824, drove to Amherst, New Hampshire, and after him Benjamin Lewis, who continued to drive as long as he lived, and at his death the line was given up. The route to Amherst lay through Pepperell, Hollis, and Milford.
Other drivers were John Chase, Joel Shattuck, William Shattuck, Moses Titus, Frank Shattuck, David Coburn, —— Chickering, Thomas Emory, and William Kemp, Jr.
The sad recollection of an accident at Littleton, resulting in the death of Silas Bullard, is occasionally revived by some of the older people. It occurred about the year 1825, and was caused by the upsetting of the Groton coach, driven by Samuel Stone, and at the time just descending the hill between Littleton Common and Nagog Pond, then known as Kimball's Hill. Mr. Bullard was one of the owners of the line, and a brother of Isaac, the veteran driver.
Besides the stage-coaches the carrier wagons added to the business of Groton, and helped largely to support the taverns. The town was situated on one of the main thoroughfares leading from Boston to the northern country, comprising an important part of New Hampshire and Vermont, and extending into Canada. This road was traversed by a great number of wagons, drawn by four or six horses, carrying to the city the various products of the country, such as grain, pork, butter, cheese, eggs, venison, hides; and returning with goods found in the city, such as molasses, sugar, New-England rum, coffee, tea, nails, iron, cloths, and the innumerable articles found in the country stores, to be distributed among the towns above here. In some seasons, it was no uncommon sight to see forty such wagons passing through the village in one day.
In addition to these were many smaller vehicles, drawn by one or two horses, to say nothing of the private carriages of individuals who were traveling for business or pleasure.
For many of the facts mentioned in this paper I am indebted to Mr. Moses Gill, an octogenarian of Groton, whose mind is clear and body active for a man of his years. Mr. Gill is a grandson of Lieutenant-Governor Moses Gill, and was born at Princeton, on March 6, 1800. He has kept several public houses in Groton, already mentioned, besides the old brick tavern situated on the Lowell road, near Long-sought-for Pond, and formerly known as the Half-way. House. This hotel came within the limits of Westford, and was kept by Mr. Gill from the year 1842 to 1847. In his day he has known personally seventy-five landlords doing business between Davenport's (opposite to the celebrated Porter's tavern in Cambridge) and Keene, New Hampshire; and of this number, only seven are thought to be living at the present time.
The unit of society is the individual. The unit of civilization is the family. Prior to December 20, 1620, New-England life had never seen a civilized family or felt its influences. It is true that the Icelandic Chronicles tell us that Lief, the son of Eric the Red, 1001, sailed with a crew of thirty-five men, in a Norwegian vessel, and driven southward in a storm, from Greenland along the coasts of Labrador, wintered in Vineland on the shores of Mount Hope Bay. Longfellow's Skeleton in Armor has revealed their temporary settlement. Thither sailed Eric's son, Thorstein, with his young and beautiful wife, Gudrida, and their twenty-five companions, the following year. His death occurred, and put an end to the expedition, which Thorfinn took up with his marriage to the young widow, Gudrida; with his bride and one hundred and sixty-five persons (five of them young married women), they spent three years on the shores of the Narragansett Bay, where Snorre, the first white child, was born,—the progenitor of the great Danish sculptor, Thorwaldsen. But this is tradition, not history. Later still, came other adventurers to seek fortunes in the New World, but they came as individuals,—young, adventurous men, with all to gain and nothing to lose, and, if successful, to return with gold or fame, as the reward of their sacrifice and daring.
Six hundred years pass, and a colony of one hundred and five men, not a woman in the company, sailed from England for America, and landed at Jamestown, Virginia. Within six months half of the immigrants had perished, and only for the courage and bravery of John Smith, the whole would have met a sad fate. The first European woman seen on the banks of the James was the wife of one of the seventy Virginia colonists who came later, and her maid, Anne Burroughs, who helped to give permanency and character to a fugitive settlement in a colony, which waited two hundred and fifty years to learn the value of a New-England home, and to appreciate the civilization which sprang up in a New-England town, through the agency of a New-England family.
An experience similar to that of the Virginia settlers—disappointment, hardship, death—attended the immigrants who, under George Popham, Raleigh, and Gilbert, attempted to make a permanent home on the coast of Maine, but their house was a log camp, with not a solitary woman to light its gloom or cheer its occupants. Failure, defeat, and death were the inevitable consequences. There was no family, and there could be no permanency of civilization.
The planting of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies was of another sort. Whole families embarked on board the Mayflower, the Fortune, the Ann, the Mary and John, and other ships that brought their precious freight in safety to a New World. Of the one hundred and one persons who came in the Mayflower, in 1620, twenty-eight were females, and eighteen were wives and mothers. They did not leave their homes, in the truest sense,—they brought them with them. Their household goods and hearthstone gods were all snugly stowed beneath the decks of the historic ship, and the multitude of Mayflower relics, now held in precious regard in public and private collections, but testify to the immense inventory of that one little ship of almost fabulous carrying capacity. To the compact signed in Plymouth harbor, in 1620, John Carver signs eight persons, whom he represents; Edward Winslow, five; William Brewster, six; William Mullins, five; William White, five; Stephen Hopkins, Edward Fuller, and John Turner, each, eight; John Chilton, three,—one of whom, his daughter Mary, was the first woman, as tradition says, to jump from the boat upon Plymouth Rock. In the Weymouth Company, under the leadership of the Reverend Joseph Hull, who set sail from Old Weymouth, England, on the twentieth of March, 1635, and landed at Wessaguscus,—now Weymouth, Massachusetts,—there were one hundred and five persons, divided into twenty-one families. Among these were John Whitmarsh, his wife Alice, and four children; Robert Lovell, husbandman, with his good wife Elizabeth and children, two of whom, Ellen and James, were year-old twins; Edward Poole and family; Henry Kingman, Thomas Holbrook, Richard Porter, and not least of all, Zachary Bicknell, his wife Agnes, their son John, and servant John Kitchen.
Families these,—all on board,—households, treasures, all worldly estates, and best of all the rich sympathies and supports of united, trusting hearts, daring to face the perils of an ocean-passage of forty-six days' duration, and the new, strange life in the wilds of America, that they might prove their faith in each other, in their principles, and in God. "He setteth the solitary in families," says the Psalmist; and the truth was never better illustrated than in the isolated and weary life of our ancestry, two and a half centuries ago.
To the Pilgrim and the Puritan, wife, children, house, home, family, church, were the most precious possessions. Nothing human could divorce ties which nature had so strongly woven. And whenever we think of our honored ancestry, it is not as individual adventurers; but we see the good-man, the good-wife, and their children, as the representatives of the great body of those, who with them planted homes, families, society, civilization, in the Western World. They came together, or if alone, to pioneer the way for wife and children or sweetheart by the next ship, and they came to stay, as witness the names of the old families of Plymouth, Weymouth, Salem, Boston, Dorchester, in the leading circles of wealth and social position in all of these old towns. "Behold," says Dr. Bushnell, "the Mayflower, rounding now the southern cape of England, filled with husbands and wives and children; families of righteous men, under covenant with God and each other to lay some good foundation for religion, engaged both to make and keep their own laws, expecting to supply their own wants and bear their own burdens, assisted by none but the God in whom they trust! Here are the hands of industry! the germs of liberty! the dear pledges of order! and the sacred beginnings of a home!" Of such, only, could Mrs. Hemans's inspired hymn have been written:—
"There were men with hoary hair Amidst that pilgrim band; Why had they come to wither there, Away from their childhood's land? "There was woman's fearless eye, Lit by her deep love's truth; There was manhood's brow, serenely high, And the fiery heart of youth."
To understand the reasons why thirty-five thousand loyal and respectable subjects of Charles I should leave Old England for the New, in family relations, between 1620 and 1625, let us look, if we can, through a chink in the wall, into the state of affairs, civil, social, and religious, as they existed in the best land, and under the best government, the sun then shone upon.
Charles I succeeded his father, James I of Scotland, in 1624. The great, good act of James was the translation of our English Bible, known as King James's Version, a work which, for the exercise of learning, scholarship, and a zealous religious faith, has not been surpassed in any age. Take him all in all, James was a bigot, a tyrant, a conceited fool. He professed to be the most ardent devotee of piety, and at the same time issued a proclamation that all lawful recreations, such as dancing, archery, leaping, May-games, etc., might be used after divine service, on Sundays. An advocate of religious freedom, he attempted to enforce the most abject conformity in his own Scottish home, against the well-known independence of that section of his realm, and drove the Puritans to seek an asylum in Holland, where they might find liberty to worship God.
In the county of Somerset, the old king consented to an act of tyranny which would grace the age of Henry VIII. One Reverend Edmund Peacham, a clergyman in Somersetshire, had his study broken open, and a manuscript sermon being there found in which there was strong censure of the extravagance of the king and the oppression of his officers, the preacher was put to the rack and interrogated, "before torture, in torture, between torture, and after torture," in order to draw from him evidence of treason; but this horrible severity could wring no confession from him. His sermon was not found treasonable by the judges of the King's Bench and by Lord Coke; but the unhappy man was tried and condemned, dying in jail before the time set for his execution. Just about this time was the State murder of Overbury, and the execution of Sir Walter Raleigh, one of England's noblest sons, brave and chivalric, who, at the executioner's block, took the axe in his hand, kissed the blade, and said to the sheriff: "'Tis a sharp medicine, but a sound cure for all diseases." These and kindred acts serve to illustrate the history of a king whose personal and selfish interests overruled all sentiments of honor and regard for his subjects, and who publicly declared that "he would govern according to the good of the commonweal, but not according to the common will." With such a king as James on the throne, is it a wonder that the more intelligent and conscientious of his subjects—like the Pilgrims and Puritans—sought a home on this side the Atlantic, where wild beasts and savage men were their only persecutors?
We are told that "the face of the Court was much changed in the change of the king" from James to Charles I; "that the grossness of the Court of James grew out of fashion," but the people were slow to learn the difference. Of the two evils, James was to be preferred. Charles ascends the throne with flattering promises, attends prayers and listens to sermons, pays his father's debts and promises to reform the Court. Let us see what he does. The brilliant but profligate Buckingham is retained as prime minister. Charles marries the beautiful Henrietta Maria, the Roman Catholic princess of France. He fits out fleets against Spain and other quarters, and demands heavy taxes to meet his heavy expenses. Parliament is on its dignity, and demands its proper recognition. He dissolves it, and calls another. That is more rebellious, and that he summarily dissolves. Men of high and low degree go to prison at the king's behest, and the disobedient were threatened with severer penalties.
The people of England are aroused, as the king of the earth sets himself against their claims in behalf of the royal prerogative. The king and the people are at war. Which will come off conquerer? There is only one answer to that question, for the battle is one between the pigmy and the giant. The contest grows sharper as the months go on, and the people are in constant alarm. Murders are common, and even Buckingham, the favorite minister, dies at the point of the assassin's knife, and the murderer goes to the Tower and the scaffold accompanied by the tumultuous cheers of London. Soon comes the Parliament of 1629, in which the popular leaders make their great remonstrance against the regal tyranny. In that House sat a plain young man, with ordinary cloth apparel, as if made by an old-country tailor, "his countenance swollen and reddish, his voice sharp and untonable," with "an eloquence full of fervor." That young man is yet to be heard from. His name is Cromwell, known in history as Oliver Cromwell. His briefly-reported speech of six lines is destined to be weightier than the edicts of a king. The session was brief. Popery and Arminianism, unjust taxation and voluntary payment of taxes not ordered by Parliament, were declared treasonable and hostile principles in Church and State,—so said Parliament. "You are a Parliament of vipers,"—so said the king; and, on the tenth of March, Parliament was dissolved, not to meet again in the old historic hall for eleven long years; until, in 1640, the majesty of an outraged people rises superior to the majesty of an outraging ruler. Now follow the attempted riveting of the chains of a despotic and unscrupulous power, which does not understand the temper of the common people, nor the methods of counteracting a great popular upheaval in society.
It is not easy to resist the iron pressure of a tyrant; but, to our ancestors, it was far better than to accept the peace and profit which might follow abject submission. To borrow the words of De Tocqueville: "They cling to freedom for its native charms independent of its gifts,—the pleasure of speaking, acting, and breathing without restraint, under no master but God and the Law." The Englishmen of the first half of the seventeenth century were the fathers of the men who fired shots at Lexington and Concord, "heard round the world."
But how do the royal prerogatives affect our ancestors in England? Our fathers were of common mould, and feel the unjust demand of the tax-gatherer and the insolent demeanor of the Crown officers, who threaten fines and imprisonment for a refusal to obey. The people are aroused and are united; some are hopeless, some hopeful. The Crown seems to have its sway, but the far-sighted see the people on the coming throne of righteous judgement. What troubles our ancestors most is the interference with their religious life. Archbishop Laud is now supreme, and the Pope never had a more willing vassal. Ministers are examined as to their loyalty to the government, their sermons are read to private judges of their orthodoxy, the confessional is established, and the alter-service is restored. It is a time when earnest men and women cannot be trifled with on soul concerns. Their property may perish or be confiscated, but the right to unmolested worship is older than Magna Charta, and as inalienable as life itself. What is to be done? Resistance or emigration—which? Resist and die, say Cromwell and Wentworth, Eliot and Hampden. Emigrate and live, say the men and women who came by thousands from all parts of England during the reign of this monarch, and made possible the permanent establishment of a new society, on the basis of social order and family life.
On the afternoon of the twenty-sixth of May, 1686, two horsemen were riding from Boston to Cambridge. By which route they left the town is now known; but most probably over the Roxbury Neck, following the path taken by Lord Percy when he went to the relief of Lieutenant-Colonel Smith's ill-starred expedition to seize the military stores at Concord, on the nineteenth of April, 1775. Of the nature of their errand—whether peaceful or hostile,—of the subject of their conversation, as they rode along the King's highway, neither history nor tradition has left any account. But when they had reached Muddy River, now the beautiful suburb of Brookline, about two miles from Cambridge, they were met by a young man riding in the opposite direction, who, as he came against them, abruptly and without other salutation, said: "God save King James the Second!" and then rode on. But soon turning his horse towards the travelers he most inconsequentially completed his sentence by adding, "But I say, God curse King James!" and this malediction he repeated so many times and with such vehemence, that the two horsemen at last turned their horses and riding up to him, told him plainly that he was a rogue. This expression of their opinion produced, however, only a slight modification of the young man's sentiments, to this form: "God curse King James and God bless Duke James!" But a few strokes of their whips effected his complete conversion, and then, as a loyal subject, he exclaimed: "God curse Duke James, and God bless King James!"
Such is the unadorned statement of facts as sworn to the next day in the Council by these riders, and their oath was attested by Edward Randolph, the "evil genius of New England." I present it in its legal baldness of detail. The two horsemen are no reminiscence of Mr. James's celebrated opening, but two substantial citizens of Boston, Captain Peter Bowden and Dr. Thomas Clarke; and the young man with somewhat original objurgatory tendencies was one Wiswell, as they called him—presumably not a son of the excellent Duxbury parson of the same name; and for the same reason, even less probably, a student of Cambridge University, as it was at that early day sometimes called.
The original paper in which the foregoing facts are recorded has long been in my possession; and as often as my eye has rested on it, I have wondered what made that young man swear so; and by what nicety of moral discrimination he found his justification in blessing the Duke and cursing the King—"unus et idem"—in the same breath. Who and what was he? and of what nature were his grievances? Was there any political significance in that strange mingling of curses and blessings? That his temper was not of martyr firmness was evident enough from the sudden change in the current of his thoughts brought about by the tingling of the horsewhip. All else was mystery. But the commonest knowledge of the English and colonial history of those days was sufficient to stimulate conjecture on these points. At the date of the incident recorded James II had been on the throne more than a year, and for a long time both as duke and king had been hated and feared on both sides of the ocean. The Duke of Monmouth's ill-fated adventure for the Crown had failed at Sedgemoor, and his young life ended on the block, denied expected mercy by his uncle, the king: ended on the block: but not so believed the common people of England. They believed him to be still living, and the legitimate heir to the British crown, and that his unnatural uncle was only Duke James of England. In those days English affairs were more closely followed by the colonists than at present, and for obvious reasons; and it is quite open to conjecture at least that the feelings of English yeomen and artisans were known to, and shared by, their cousins in Massachusetts Bay, and that Master Wiswell only gave expression to a sentiment common to people of his class on both sides the water.
This, however, is mere conjecture. But there are important facts. On the preceding day, in the Town House, which stood at the head of State Street, where the old State House now stands, events culminated, in comparison with which the causes which led to the war of the Revolution sink into utter insignificance. On the twenty-third of October, 1684, in the High Court of Chancery of England, judgment was entered on the writ of scire facias, by which the charter of Massachusetts Bay was vacated; and as a consequence, the title to the soil, with all improvements, reverted to the Crown, to the ruin of those who had wrested it from the wilderness, and guarded it from the savage foe. The old government, so endeared to the people, and defended against kingly assault with the truest courage, was swept away by arbitrary power, and in its place a new one established, under the presidency of Joseph Dudley, and he a recreant son of the colony. It was the inauguration of this government which had taken place on the day before Captain Bowden and Dr. Clarke encountered John Wiswell, Jr., on their ride to Cambridge. There ceremonies of the inauguration were not without circumstances of pomp, and are set forth in the Council records at the State House, from which I transcribe the following incidents: When the new government, the president, and Council were assembled, the exemplification of the judgment against the charter of the late governor and company of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England, publicly (in the court where were present divers of the eminent ministers, gentlemen, and inhabitants of the town and country) was read with an audible voice. The commission was read and the oaths administered, and the new president made his speech, after which, proclamation was openly read in court, and commanded to be published by beat of drum and trumpet, which was accordingly done.
The people in the Forum heard these drum and trumpets—young Wiswell, doubtless, with the rest—and knew what they signified: the confiscation of houses and lands; the abrogation of existing laws; taxes exacted without consent or legislation; the enforced support of a religion not of the people's choice; and navigation laws ruinous to their foreign commerce, then beginning to assume importance; and from these consequences they were saved only by the revolution, which two years later drove James II from his throne. It is difficult to credit these sober facts of history, and still more to fully realize their destructive import; but they should always be borne in mind; for if any one reflecting on the causes assigned by the leaders of the great Revolution, as justifying the violent partition of an empire, is led for a moment to question their sufficiency, let him then consider that they were assigned by a people full of the traditions of the long struggle against kingly injustice, in the days of the second Charles and the second James.
A few words—the result of later investigation—as to the actors in the events of this ride to Cambridge. When Bowden and Clarke had attested their loyalty by horsewhipping young Wiswell, they took him in charge to Cambridge, and vainly tried to persuade Nathaniel Hancock, the constable, to carry him before a magistrate. This refusal brought him into difficulty with Council; but his humble submission was finally accepted and he was discharged on payment of costs, on the plea that upon the change of the government there was no magistrate authorized to commit him to prison. Not quite so fortunate was John Wiswell, Jr., for on the third of August the grand jury found a true bill against him for uttering "these devilish, unnatural, and wicked words following, namely, God curse King James." That he was brought to trial on this complaint I cannot find. And so the actors in these scenes pass away. Of Bowden and Clarke I know nothing more; and the little which appears of John Wiswell's subsequent life is not wholly to his credit, I am sorry to say, and the more so, as I have recently discovered that he was once a townsman of mine, and doubtless a playmate of my kindred at Rumney Marsh.
These actors have all gone, and so has gone the old Town House; not so, as yet, let us heartily thank God, has gone the old State House which stands where that stood; on the one spot—if there is but one—which ought to be dear to the heart of every Bostonian, and sacred from his violating hand. For here, on the spot of that eastern balcony, looking down into the old Puritan Forum, what epochs in our history have been announced: the abrogation of the First Charter—the deposition of Andros—the inauguration of the Second Charter—the death and accession of English sovereigns—the Declaration of Independence, and the adoption of the Constitution of the United States; and here still stands the grandest historic edifice in America, and within it?—why add to the hallowing words of old John Adams?—"Within its walls Liberty was born!"
It was a beautiful morning in June. The sun was just peeping through the pines fringing the eastern horizon; fleecy mists were rising, like "ghosts of the valley," from every brook and low place in field and pasture, betokening a warm, fair day. As I opened the heavy front door of Mr. Wetherell's old gambrel-roofed house, and stepped out onto the large flat stone at the door-sill, every blade of grass was glistening with dew-drops; such a sweetness pervaded the air as one only realizes when the dew is on the grass and bushes. At my right, close to the door-stone, a large bush of southern-wood, or man's-first-love, was growing; just beyond it and under the "middle-room" windows two large, white-rose bushes were bending beneath the weight of a multitude of roses and buds. A large yellow-rose bush claimed the left, and spread itself over the ground. Single red roses were standing guard at the corner of the house. A rod or more below the front door the garden fence stood and looked as if it had been standing for many a year. It was made of palings, pointed; I should think it was five feet high. The posts had begun to lean into the garden and the palings were covered with a short green moss, which seemed soft and growing in the dew. The old gate swung itself to after me with a bang, and I noticed that a string with a brick fastened to it and tied to the gate at one end, and twisted around a stake driven into the ground a few feet from the gate, was the cause of its closing so quickly. Red-cherry trees loaded with small green cherries were growing on one side of the garden; purple-plum trees skirted the other side; and I knew full well how two months later those creased, mouldy-looking plums would be found hiding in the short, green grass beneath the trees.
Peach-trees were leaning over the fence in the southeast corner; a long row of red-currant bushes ran through the middle of the garden; English gooseberry bushes threw out their prickly branches laden with round, woolly fruit at the north end. Rows of hyssop, rue, saffron, and sage, and beds of lettuce, pepper-grass, and cives, all had their place in this old-fashioned garden. In the southwest corner an immense black-currant bush was growing on both sides of the fence. Out in the field below the garden two Bell-pear trees, as large as elms, were bending their branches, loaded with fruit, a luscious promise for the autumn-time. A button-pear tree, just beyond, was making up in quantity what its fruit lacked in quality.
While I was exploring this well-cultivated spot, Mrs. Wetherell called me to breakfast. The kitchen was a large room, running across one end of the house; it had four windows in it, two east and two west. All this space was filled with the fragrance of coffee and cornmeal bannocks.
Mrs. Wetherell said: "I don't know as you will like your coffee sweetened in the pot, but I always make ours so."
I assured her I should.
During breakfast Mr. Wetherell passed me some cheese, and I asked Mrs. Wetherell if she made cheese.
"Not this month," she replied, "in July and August I shall. I am packing butter now."
"Do you think you are going to be contented back here?—you won't see as much going on as you do at home," Mr. Wetherell asked me.
"O, yes," I answered; "I expect to enjoy myself very much."
Samanthy, the daughter, now well advanced in life, seemed very solemn and said very little. I wondered if she were sick, or unhappy. A little later in the day, while I was watching Mrs. Wetherell salt a churning of butter in the back porch, she said to me: "You mustn't mind Samanthy, she isn't quite right in her head: a good many years ago she had a sad blow." She hesitated; I disliked to ask her what it was, so I said "Poor woman!" "Yes," said her mother, "she is a poor soul. She was expecting to be married to Eben Johnson, a young man who worked on our new barn. She got acquainted with him then, and after a year or so they were promised. Eben was a good fellow, a j'iner by trade. He lived in the village. In the fall before they would have been married, in the spring, he had typhoid fever, and they sent for Samanthy. She went and took care of him three weeks, and then he died. She came home, and seemed like one in a maze. After a little while she was took with the fever, and liked to died, and my two girls, Margaret and Frances, both had it and died with it. Samanthy has never been the same since she got well. Her health has been good, but her mind is weak." I had noticed that Mrs. Wetherell seemed very much broken in health and spirits, and after hearing this story I did not wonder that the blows of Providence had weakened her hold on life.
Samanthy was very shy of me at first, but after a few days she would talk in her disjointed way with me.
One morning I was out in the well-house. The well was very deep, and by leaning over the curb, and by putting one's arms around one's head, one could see the stars mirrored in the bottom of the dark old well. Samanthy came out for some water, while I was star-gazing in this way. She said: "What you lost?"
"O, nothing. I am only looking at the stars."
Samanthy looked as if she thought I might be more profitably engaged. I took hold of the handle of the windlass, swung off the great oaken bucket, and watched it descend its often-traveled course, bumping against the wet, slippery rocks with which the well was stoned.
Samanthy said: "You can't pull that up; it's heavy."
"Let me try," I said. "I never drew water with a windlass."
I had a much harder task than I supposed, but succeeded in swinging the bucket onto the platform of the curb, and turned the water into Samanthy's pail. I never asked permission to draw another bucketful.
I noticed below the well a large mound, grass-grown, with an apple-tree growing on its very top. I wondered how it came there, and one day asked Mr. Wetherell.
He said: "That's where we threw the rocks and gravel out of the well fifty years ago; we never moved it. It grassed over, and the apple-tree came up there; it bears a striped apple, crisp and sour."
I thought, What a freak of Nature! and I wished that many more piles of rubbish might be transformed into such a pretty spot as this.
Below the mound stood the old hollow tree; its trunk was low and very large, one side had rotted away, leaving it nearly hollow. Still there was trunk enough left for the sap to run up; and every year it was loaded with fruit.
Close by the path across the field to the road stood the Pang apple-tree. This tree was named Pang because a dog by that name was sleeping his last sleep beneath the tree. He was much beloved by the family. I thought, What a pretty place to be buried in! and a living monument to mark his grave. From the stories I heard of Pang, I know he must have been a fine dog, and I should have liked to have known him.
Just back of the house stood the cider-house. At this season of the year the wood for summer use was stored there, but in autumn all the neighbors brought their apples, and ground them into cider. Samanthy told me how she used to clean the cider nuts with a shingle; this was when she was small.
She said: "A cousin of mine, living at Beech Ridge, got his arm caught while cleaning the pummy out, and ground it all up. After that father was afraid for we children to do it."
Back of the building I saw thousands of little apple-trees, growing from the pomace which was shoveled out there year after year.
The loft, over the part where the cider-mill was, was the corn-house. I went up over the wide plank stairs and looked around.
Traces of snapping-corn and of white-pudding corn were hanging over a pole at one end. A large chest, filled with different kinds of beans, stood at one side. On the plates which supported the rafters, marks made in this wise—[Symbol: Tally mark of 5]—told of the bushels of corn carried up there and spread on the clean, white floor.
These marks had been made by many hands, and I wondered where they were now. Some undoubtedly were sleeping the
"Sleep that knows not breaking: Morn of toil, nor night of waking."
Others, perhaps, were making their mark somewhere else.
"Independence Day," as Mr. Wetherell called it, was observed in a very liberal manner on the farm. A lamb was slaughtered, green peas were picked, and a plum-pudding made.
Lemonade, made of sparkling spring water, was a common drink. Mr. Wetherell told me how his father always kept the day. He brought out the large blue punchbowl and square cut-glass decanters, which his father used on such occasions.
The next morning after the Fourth, I started out through the field for the pasture. The grass was tall, and it waved gently in the morning breeze. The whiteweed and clover sent forth an agreeable perfume. In the low ground buttercups were shining like gold dollars, sprinkled through the tall herdsgrass. Yellow-weed, the farmer's scourge, held up its brown and yellow head in defiance.
On a knoll, a little before I reached the graveyard, I passed over a piece of ground where the winter had killed the grass roots. Here I found sorrel, cinque-foil, and a few bunches of blue-eyed grass growing. Nature seemed to try to conceal the barrenness of the spot with beauty. It was a grave, decorated.
Off to my right, in a piece of rank grass, where branches of dock had sprung up, bobolinks were swinging the pale, green sprays, filling the air with melody. "Bobolink, bobolink, spirk, spank, spink, chee, chee, chee!"
I knew that "Mrs. Robert of Lincoln" was sitting contentedly on her little round nest, under a tuft of grass, very near the sweet singer. I paused at the graveyard, and looked over the wall. I read: "Margaret and Frances Wetherell, daughters of John and Hannah Wetherell, aged 18 and 20 years." I knew these were the girls who had died of the fever; a twin gravestone had been put up to their graves. Another stone told of a little girl, two and a half years old—Catherine. I reckoned up the date, and had she been living, she would have been over forty years old. Many other stones stood there, but I left them without reading the inscriptions, and hastened on to the pines.
I stepped over the low wall between the field and pasture and walked down by the brook until I came to the Stony Bridge. This I crossed and followed up on the broad wheelpath. The pines smelled so sweet: the grass was short and green: everything seemed calm and cool. I sat down by a large Norway pine and watched the birds. Right below me I saw a fox-hole, with the entrance so barricaded with sticks and stones, that I felt very sure poor Reynard must have been captured unless he dug out somewhere else. I began to walk around. Six or seven feet to the south of the besieged door, I discovered another entrance. I don't know whether some animal was still living in the old house, or no: but this hole looked as if it were used. A little pine grew in front, a juniper made its roof and spread its fine branches over the door, squaw vines and checkerberry leaves grew on either side.
I walked on in the wheelpath. On the north side many tall Norway pines were growing, with white pines scattered here and there. Crimson polygalas were carpeting the ground in open spaces; pale anemones and delicate star-flowers were still blooming under the protection of small pines; wild strawberries were blossoming in cold places; and I wondered when they would fruit.
Finally I came to an open field, or what looked like land that had been cultivated. Hosts of bluets and plots of mouse-ear everlasting, had taken possession of the land. Small pines were scattered here and there, like settlers in a new country. Junipers were creeping stealthily in, as if expecting the axe. There were traces of where a fence had run along. I concluded that this was years ago a field, but now the cows roamed over it at will.
Going around in the edge of the woods I came to four pines growing from one root; two grew on each side close together, and left a fine seat between the pairs. I sat down there, and felt thankful that I was living, and that my abiding-place was among the granite hills of New England.
Soon I saw something move a few rods beyond me in the woods. I looked again and saw the finest woodchuck I ever saw. He stood in a listening attitude. I suppose he had heard me, but had not seen me. His fur was yellow and brown mixed; his nose and feet were black; his countenance was expressive of lively concern. He disappeared and I left my sylvan seat, and walked up where the woodchuck had been standing. I found his home and numerous little tracks around the door. I hastened off, because I feared my presence would worry him.
I knew it must be near noontime, so I began to retrace my way. I walked up through the pasture and passed the "Great Ledge." This ledge was on the side of a steep hill. One side of it was perpendicular thirty feet. It was covered with crisp, gray moss. In the chinks and crannies on the top, short grass was growing in little bunches.
As I followed down in the lane which led from the pasture to the cow-yard, striped squirrels were playfully skipping through the dilapidated wall, coming out, and disappearing; sitting down and putting their forefeet up to their faces as if they were convulsed with laughter to think how the old black-and-white cat had gone to sleep lying on the wall in the sun, only a few rods below them.
Dinner was ready, as I expected. I told Mrs. Wetherell of my walk over the Stony Bridge.
"Yes," she said. "Years ago, when I kept geese, one night I went out to feed them and I found that they hadn't come. I knew something must be the matter. I started for the brook. When I got out on the hill by the graveyard, I heard the gander making an awful noise. I hurried on, and, when I got to the corner of the field, I found a fox jumping at the old gander as he was walking back and forth in front of the geese and goslings. I screeched and the fox run. The geese came right up to me. I was pretty pleased to save them. I had two geese and thirteen goslings beside the gander."
I said: "Is that a ledge out in the field where sumachs and birches are growing?"
Mrs. Wetherell said: "Yes; and that piece of ground is where Father Wetherell raised the last piece of flax. I don't suppose you ever saw any growing?"
"No," I said. "Only in gardens. A field must be very handsome."
"Yes, the flower is a bluish purple, with a little yellow dot in the middle."
I asked her when they cut it.
"O, they never cut it; they pulled it after the seeds got ripe; then they would beat the seeds out of the pods. These pods look like little varnished balls. When the seed was out, the flax was laid in a wet place in the field for weeks; occasionally the men would turn it over. When it was well rotted they dried it and put it up in the barn until March. Then Father Wetherell would take it down and brake it in the brake. After that he would swingle it over a swingling-board, with a long knife; then he made it into hands of flax. The women used to take it next and comb it through a flax-comb; this got out all the shives and tow. There was a tow which came out when it was swingled, called swingle tow. Mother Wetherell said that, years before, when she was young she used to use this to make meal-bags and under-bedticks of. But I never used any of it."
I asked her how they used the flax after it was combed.
"Then it was wound onto the distaff."
"What was that?" Mrs. Wetherell smiled at my ignorance, but proceeded kindly to explain.
"A distaff was made of a small pine top. They peeled off the bark, and when it was dry, tied down the ends, and put the other end onto the standard of the wheel. Then they would commence and wind on the flax. A hand of flax would fill it. I used to be a pretty good hand to spin tow on a big wheel, but I never could spin linen very even. Old Aunt Joanna used to spin linen thread; and Mother Wetherell used to buy great skeins of her. She said it was cheaper to buy than to spend so much time spinning."
Mrs. Wetherell told me that I should go up in the garret and see the wheels and all the old machinery used so long ago.
That evening I asked Mr. Wetherell: "Has there ever been a field beyond the pines?"
"Yes," he said: "Father cleared that piece nigh onto eighty year ago. We always called it 'the field back of the pines.' When father got old, and I kinder took the lead, I said we better turn that field out into the paster. He felt bad about it at first, but when I told him how much work it was to haul the manure over there, and the crops back, he gave in. Them Norrerway pines are marster old; I s'pose they'd stood there a hundred and fifty year."
I felt a thrill of pity for the old man, now at rest. He must have been nearly at the base of life's western slope, when he rescued those few acres from the forest. The little field was his pride, I think it ought to have been left, while he lived.
One morning when Lucy, as Mrs. Wetherell called her, was washing at the farm, she said to me: "Did you ever have your fortin told?" I answered, "No."
"Well," she said, "I dunno as I b'lieve all they say, but some can tell pretty well. Did you ever try any projects?"
"No. How is that done?" I asked.
"O! there's ever so many! One is, you pick two of them big thistles 'fore they are bloomed out, then you name 'em and put 'em under your piller; the one that blooms out fust will be the one you will marry. 'Nuther one is to walk down cellar at twelve o'clock at night, backwards, with a looking-glass in your hand. You will see your man's face in the glass. But there! I don't know as its best to act so. You know how Foster got sarved?"
"No. How was it?"
"Why! Didn't you never hear? Well, Foster told the Devil if he would let him do and have all he wanted for so many year, when the time was out, he would give himself, soul and body, to the Devil. He signed the writing with his blood; Foster carried on a putty high hand, folks was afear'd of him. When the time was up, the Devil came: I guess they had a tough battle. Folks said they never heard such screams, and in the morning his legs and arms was found scattered all over the cowyard."
I recognized in this tragic story, Marlowe's Faustus. I was much amused at Lucy's rendering.
A few weeks afterwards she told me how the house where she lived was haunted. I asked her, "Who haunts it?"
"Why!" she said, "it's a woman. She walks up and down them old stairs, dressed in white, looking so sorrowfullike, I know there must have been foul play. And then such noises as we hear overhead! My man says that it's rats. Rats! I know better!"
I thought that Lucy wanted to believe in ghosts, so I didn't try to reason with her,—
"For a man convinced against his will Is of the same opinion still."
Lucy was quite an old woman; and I used to think that washing was too hard work for her; but she seemed very happy. All the while she was rubbing the clothes over the wooden washboard, or wringing them out with her hands, she would be singing old-fashioned songs, such as Jimmy and Nancy, Auld Robin Gray, and another one beginning "In Springfield mountain there did dwell." It was very sad!
These songs were chanted, all in one tune. If the words had not been quaint, and suggestive of a century or more ago, I think the entertainment would have been monotonous,
Lucy brought the news of the neighborhood. One morning she came in, and said: "John King's folks thinks an awful sight of themselves, sence Calline has been off. She has sot herself up marsterly. They have gone to work now and painted all the trays and paint-kags they can find red, and filled them with one thing another, and set them round the house. No good will come of that! When you see every thing painted red, look out for war; it's a sure sign."
One evening late in summer, when I came in from a walk through the fields, I found in the back porch all the implements for cheese-making. Mrs. Wetherell said: "It's too warm to make butter, now dog-days have come in, so I am going to make cheese."
That night all the milk was strained into the large tub. The next morning this milk was stirred and the morning's milk strained into it. Then Mrs. Wetherell warmed a kettleful and poured into the tub, and tried it with her finger to see if it was warm enough. She said: "My rennet is rather weak, so I have to use considerable."
After she had turned the rennet in, she laid the cheese-tongs across the tub, and spread a homespun tablecloth over it, and looking up to me, she said: "In an hour or so that will come."
I made it my business, when the hour was out, to be back in the porch. Mrs. Wetherell was stirring up the thick white curd, and dipping out the pale green whey, with a little wooden dish. After she had "weighed it," she mixed in salt thoroughly. She asked me to hand her her cheese-hoop and cloth, which were lying on the table behind me. She put one end of the cloth into the hoop and commenced filling it with curd, pressing it down with her hand. When it was nearly full she slipped up the hoop a little: "to give it a chance to press," she said. After this, she put the cheese between two cheese-boards, in the press, and began to turn the windlass-like machine, to bring the weights down.
"Now," said she, "I shall let this stay in press all day, then I shall put it in pickle for twenty-four hours. The next night I shall rub it dry with a towel, and put it up in the cheese-room. Now comes the tug-o'-war! I have to watch them close to keep the flies out."
The forerunners of autumn had already touched the hillsides, and my thoughts were turning homeward, when one Saturday morning Mr. Wetherell came in and said: "Miss Douglass, don't you want to ride up to the paster? I'm going up to salt the steers."
Mrs. Wetherell hastened to add: "Yes, you go; you hain't had a ride since you been here. Old Darby ain't fast, but he's good."
Eagerly I accepted the invitation, and in a few minutes we set off.
Darby was a great strong white horse, with minute brown spots all over him. Mr. Wetherell told me stories of all the people, as Darby shuffled by their houses, raising a big cloud of dust.
When we came to a sandy stretch of road, Mr. Wetherell said: "This is what we call the Plains. Here is where we used to have May trainings, years and years ago. Once they had a sham-fight, and I thought I should have died a-laughing. I was nothing but a boy. We always thought so much of the gingerbread we got at training; I used to save my money to spend on that day. Once, when I was about thirteen year old, a passel of us boys got together to talk over training. Jim Barrows said that old Miss Hammet (she lived over behind the hill there) had got a cake baked, with plums in it, for training, and was going to have five cents a slice for it. He said: 'Now, if the rest of you will go into the house and talk with her, I will climb into the foreroom window, and hook the cake out of the three-cornered cupboard.' We all agreed. I went in, and commenced to talk with the old woman; some of the boys leaned up against the door that opened into the foreroom. After a little while we went out and met Jim, down by the spring, and we ate the cake. Some way a-nother it didn't taste so good as we expected. There was an awful outscreech when she found it out. Jim was a mighty smart fellar. He married a girl from Cranberry Medder, and they went down East. I have heard that they were doing fust-rate."
After riding for some time through low, woody places, where the grass grew on each side of the horse's track, we came to the main traveled road. Thistles were blooming and going to seed, all on one stock. Flax-birds were flying among them filling the air with their sweet notes. Soon we turned into a lane, and came to the pasture-bars, Mr. Wetherell said: "You stay here with Darby, and I will drive the steers up to the bars, and salt them."
I got out of the wagon, and unchecked Darby's head, and led him up to a plot of white clover, to get a lunch. Nature seemed to have made an uneven distribution of foretop and fetlock in Darby's case, his foretop was so scanty and his fetlocks so heavy. A fringe of long hairs stood out on his forelegs from his body to his feet, giving him quite a savage look. As I looked down at his large flat feet, I felt glad that he didn't have to travel over macadamized roads.
I sat down on some logs which were lying at one side, and listened to the worms sawing away, under the bark.
Soon Mr. Wetherell came back with the steers, and dropped the salt down in spots. We watched them lick it up.
I asked Mr. Wetherell why those logs were left there.
"O, Bascom is a poor, shiftless kind of a critter. I s'pose the snow went off before he got ready to haul them to the mill; but if he had peeled them in June or July, they would have been all right; but now they will be about sp'iled by the worms."
Mr. Wetherell got Darby turned around after much backing and getting up, for the lane was narrow, and we started homeward.
As we rode slowly along, Mr. Wetherell asked me: "Have you ever been to the beach?"
I told him, "Yes, and I enjoyed it."
He said: "I always liked to go, but Mis' Wetherell has a dread of the water, ever since her brother Judson was drowned."
"Was he a sailor?" I asked.
"Yes, he was a sea-capt'n. He married a Philadelphy woman, and they sailed in the brig Florilla. She was wrecked on the coast of Ireland. She run on a rock, and broke her in two amidships. Her cargo was cotton, the bales floated in ashore, and formed a bridge for a second or so. The first mate and one of the sailors ran in on this bridge, but the next wave took them out and scattered them, and there was no way to save the rest. Judson and his wife, and all the crew, except the mate and one sailor, were all drowned. The mate stayed there for some time, and buried the bodies which washed ashore. He found Judson's body first, and had most given up finding his wife's, when one day she washed into a little cove, and he buried them side by side. He came here to our house, and told us all about it. It was awful. It completely upsot Mis' Wetherell. Her health has been poor for a good many year. She has bad neuralgy spells."
"Come, Darby, get up! you are slower than a growth of white oaks."
After several vigorous jerks, Darby started off at a long, swinging gait, and we soon reached home.
Only once more did I watch the sun go down behind the western hills, lighting them up with a flood of crimson light; while a tender, subdued gleam rested for a moment on the eastern summits, like the gentle kiss a mother gives her babe, when she slips him off her arm to have his nap.
How the sweet chimes this Sunday morn, 'Mid autumn's requiem, Across the mountain valleys borne,— The bells of Bethlehem! "Come join with us," they seem to say, "And celebrate this hallowed day!" Our hearts leap up with glad accord— Judea's Bethlehem strain, That once ascended to the Lord, Floats back to earth again, As round our hills the echoes swell To "God with us, Emanuel!" O Power Divine, that led the star To Mary's sinless Child! O ray from heaven that beamed afar And o'er his cradle smiled! Help us to worship now with them Who hailed the Christ at Bethlehem!
James T. Fields, in The Granite Monthly.
By order of the President of the United States, a national salute was fired, at meridian, on the twenty-fourth day of December, 1883, as a memorial recognition of the one hundreth anniversary of the surrender by George Washington, on the twenty-third day of December, 1783, at Annapolis, of his commission as commander-in-chief of the patriotic forces of America. This official order declares "the fitness of observing that memorable act, which not only signalized the termination of the heroic struggle of seven years for independence, but also manifested Washington's devotion to the great principle, that ours is a civil government, of and by the people."
The closing sentence of Washington's order, dated April 18, 1783, may well be associated with this latest centennial observance. As he directed a cessation of hostilities, his joyous faith, jubilant and prophetic, thus forecast the future: "Happy, thrice happy! shall they be pronounced, hereafter, who have contributed anything, who have performed the meanest office, in erecting this stupendous fabric of freedom and empire, on the broad basis of independence,—who have assisted in protecting the rights of human nature, and establishing an asylum for the poor and oppressed of all nations and religions."
The two acts of Washington, thus associated, were but the fruition of deliberate plans which were formulated in the trenches about Boston. The "centennial week of years," which has so signally brought into bold relief the details of single battles and has imparted fresh interest to many localities which retain no visible trace of the scenes which endear them to the American heart, has inclined the careless observer to regard the battles of the War for Independence as largely accidental, and the result of happy, or even of Providential, circumstances, rather than as the fruit of well-considered plans which were shaped with full confidence in success.
Battles and campaigns have been separated from their true relation to the war, as a systematic conflict, in which the strategic issue was sharply defined; and too little notice has been taken of the fact that Washington took the aggressive from his first assumption of command. The title "Fabius of America" was freely conferred upon him after his success at Trenton; but there was a subtle sentiment embodied in that very tribute, which credited him with the political sagacity of the patriot and statesman, more than with the genius of a great soldier. All contemporaries admitted that he was judicious in the use of the resources placed at his command, that he was keen to use raw troops to the best possible disposal, and took quick advantage of every opportunity which afforded relief to his poorly-fed and poorly-equipped troops, in meeting the British and Hessian regulars; but there were few who penetrated his real character and rightly estimated the scope of his strategy and the sublime grandeur of his faith.
The battles of that war (each is its place) have had their immediate results well defined. To see, as clearly their exact place in relation to the entire struggle, and that they were the legitimate sequence of antecedent preparation, requires that the preparation itself shall be understood.
The camps, redoubts, and trenches, which engirdled Boston during its siege, were so many appliances in the practical training-school of war, which Washington promptly seized, appropriated, and developed. The capture of Boston was not the chief aim of Washington, when, on the third day of July, 1775, he established his headquarters at Cambridge. Boston was, indeed, the immediate objective point of active operations, and the issue, at arms, had been boldly made at Lexington and Concord. Bunker Hill had practically emancipated the American yeomanry from the dread of British arms, and foreshadowed the finality of National Independence. However the American Congress might temporize, there was not alternative with Washington, but a steady purpose to achieve complete freedom. From his arrival at Cambridge, until his departure for New York, he worked with a clear and serene confidence in the final result of the struggle. A mass of earnest men had come together, with the stern resolve to drive the British out of Boston; but the patriotism and zeal of those who first begirt the city were not directed to a protracted and universal colonial resistance. To the people of Massachusetts there came an instant demand, imperative as the question of life or death, to fight out the issue, even if alone and single-handed, against the oppressor. Without waiting for reports from distant colonies as to the effect of the skirmish at Lexington and the more instructive and stimulating experience at Breed's Hill, the penned the British in Boston and determined to drive them from the land. Dr. Dwight said of Lexington: "The expedition became the preface to the history of a nation, the beginning of an empire, and a theme of disquisition and astonishment to the civilized world."
The battle of Bunker Hill equalized the opposing forces. The issue changed from that of a struggle of legitimate authority to suppress rebellion, and became a context, between Englishmen, for the suppression, or the perpetuation, of the rights of Magna Charta.
The siege of Boston assumed a new character as soon as it became a part of the national undertaking to emancipate the Colonies, on and all, and thereby establish one great Republic.
From the third of July, 1775, until the seventeenth of March, 1776, there was gradually developed a military policy with an army system, which shaped the whole war.
Many battles have been styled "decisive." many slow tortures of the oppressed have prepared the way for heroic defiance of the oppressor. Many elaborate preparations have been made for war, when at last some sudden outrage or event has precipitated and unlooked-for conflict, and all preparations, however wisely adjusted, have been made in vain. "I strike to-night!" was the laconic declaration of Napoleon III, as he informed his proud and beautiful empress, that "the battalions of France were moving on the Rhine." The march of Lord Percy to Concord was designed to clip off, short, the seriously impending resistance of the people to British authority. With full recognition of all that had been done, before the arrival of Washington to assume command of the besieging militia, as the "Continental Army" of America, there are facts which mark the months of that siege, as months of that wise preparation which ensured the success of the war. Washington at once took the offensive. He was eminently aggressive; but neither hasty nor rash. Baron Jomini said that "Napoleon discounted time." So did Washington. Baron Jomini said, also, that "Napoleon was his own best chief-of-staff." So, pre-eminently, was Washington.
The outlook at Cambridge, on the third of July, 1775, revealed the presence of a host of hastily-gathered and rudely-armed, earnest men, well panoplied, indeed, in the invulnerable armor of loyalty to country and to God; fearless, self-sacrificing, daring death to secure liberty; but lacking that discipline, cohesion, and organized assignment to place and duty, which convert a mass of men into an army of soldiers. Washington stated the case, fairly, in the terse expression: "They have been accustomed, officers and men alike, to have their own way too long already."
The rapidly succeeding methods through which that mass of fiery patriots became a well-ordered army, obedient to authority, and accepting the delays and disappointments of war with cheerful submission, will stand as the permanent record of a policy which cleared the way for an assured liberty.
As early as 1775, Lord Dartmouth had asserted, with vigor, that Boston was worthless as a base, if the authority of the Crown was to be seriously defied by the colonies, acting in concert. He advocated the evacuation of Boston, and the consolidation of the royal forces at New York. Washington, early after his arrival at Cambridge, saw that the British commander had made a mistake. His letters to Congress are full of suggestions which citizens could only slightly value, so long as they saw Boston still under British control. It is difficult to see how the war could have been a success, if New York had been occupied, in force, by Lord Howe in 1775, and the rashness of Gates had not precipitated the skirmish at Lexington and the battle of Bunker Hill. It is no less hard to see where and how Washington could have found time, place, and suitable conditions for that practical campaign experience which the siege of Boston afforded.
The mention of some of these incidents will suggest others, and illustrate that experience.
A practical siege was undertaken, under the most favorable circumstances. The whole country, near by, was in sympathy with the army. The adjacent islands, inlets, and bays swarmed with scouting parties, which cut off supplies from the city. The army had its redoubts and trenches, and the heights of Bunker Hill were in sight as a pledge of full ability to resist assault. As a fact, no successful sortie was made out of Boston during the siege; but constant activity and watchfulness were vital to each day's security. Provisions were abundant and the numerical strength was sufficient. System and discipline alone were to be added.
The details of camp life in the immediate presence of skilled enemies compelled officers and men, alike, to learn the minutest details of field engineering. Gabions, fasces, abattis, and other appliances for assault or defence were quickly made, and all this practical schooling in the work of war went on, under the watchful cooperation of the very officers who afterward became conspicuous in the field, from Long Island to Yorktown. THE CAMP ABOUT BOSTON MADE OFFICERS, Its discipline dissipated many colonial jealousies; and there was developed that confidence in their commander, which, in after years, became the source of untold strength and solace to him in the darkest hours of the war.
The details of the personal work of the commander-in-chief read more like some magician's tale. Every staff department was organized under his personal care, so that he was able to retain even until the end of the war his chief assistants. Powder, arms, provisions, clothing, firewood, medicines, horses, carts, tools, and all supplies, however incidental, depended upon minute instructions of Washington himself.
A few orders are cited, as an illustration of the system which marked his life in camp, and indicate the value of those months, as preparatory to the ordeal through which he had yet to pass.
To withhold commissions, until some proof was given of individual fitness, involved grave responsibility. He did it. To punish swearing, gambling, theft, and lewdness, evinced a high sense of the solemnity of the hour. He did it. To rebuke Protestants for mocking Catholics was to recognize the dependence of all alike upon the God of battles. He did it. To repress gossip in camp, because the reputation of the humblest was sacred; to brand with his displeasure all conflicts between those in authority, as fatal to discipline and unity of action, and to forbid the settlement of private wrongs except through established legal methods, showed a clear conception of the conditions which would make an army obedient, united, and invincible. These, and corresponding acts in the line of military police regulations, and touching every social, moral, and physical habit which assails or enfeebles a soldier's life and imperils a campaign, run through his papers.
It is in the light of such omnipresent pressure and constraint that we begin to form some just estimate of the relations which the siege of Boston sustained to the subsequent operations of the war, and to the work of Lee, Putnam, Sullivan, Greene, Mifflin, Knox, and others, who were thus fitted for immediate service at Long Island and elsewhere, as soon as Boston was evacuated.
It is also through these orders that the careful student can pass that veil of formal propriety, reticence, and dignity which so often obscured the inner, the tentative, elements of Washington's military character.
While the slow progress of the siege afforded opportunity to study the contingencies of other possible fields of conflict, a double campaign was made into Canada: namely, by Arnold through Maine, and by Montgomery toward Montreal. This was based upon the idea that the conquest of Canada would not only protect New England on the north, but compel the British commanders to draw all supplies from England. The fact is noted, as evidence of the constant regard which the American commander had for every exposed position of the enemy which could be threatened, without neglecting the demands of the siege itself. Frequent attempts were made to force the siege to an early conclusion. The purpose was to expel or capture the garrison before Great Britain could send another army, and open active operations in other colonies, and not, merely in the indolence of the mere watchdog, to starve the enemy into terms. "Give me powder or ice, and I will take Boston," was the form in which Washington demanded the means of bombardment or assault, and gave the assurance that, if the river would freeze, he would force a decisive issue with the means already at command.
Meanwhile, he sent forth privateers to scour the coast and search for vessels conveying powder to the garrison; and soon no British transport or supply-vessel was secure, unless under convoy of a ship-of-war.
At last, Congress increased the army to twenty-four thousand men and ordered a navy to be built. Washington redoubled his efforts, confident that Boston was substantially at his mercy; but seeing as clearly that the capture or the evacuation of the city would introduce a more general and desperate struggle, and one that would try his army to the most.
At this juncture, General Howe was strongly reinforced. When he succeeded Gates, on the tenth of October, 1775, he "assumed command of all his Britannic Majesty's forces, from Nova Scotia to Florida," and thus indicated his appreciation of the possible extent of the American resistance. It was a fair response to the claim of Washington to represent "The Colonies, in arms." Howe's reinforcements had reported for duty by the thirty-first of December. During the preceding months, and, in fact, from his arrival at Cambridge, Washington had freely conferred with General Greene. That young officer had studied Caesar's Commentaries, Marshal Turenne's Works, Sharp's Military Guide, and many legal and standard works upon government and history, while drilling a militia company, the Kentish Guards, and following the humble labor of a blacksmith's apprentice. He fully appreciated the value of the hours spent before Boston. Together with General Sullivan, who, as well as himself, commanded a brigade in Lee's division, he looked beyond the lines of the camp rear-guard, and spent extra hours in discipline and drill, to bring his own command up to the highest state of proficiency.
The following is the theory which he entertained, in common with Washington, as to the proper method for prosecution of the war; and he so expressed himself, when he first encamped before Boston and united his destinies with those of America.
His words are worthy of double recognition by the citizens of the United States, because they not only furnish a key to the embarrassments which attended the uncertain policy of Congress during the Revolution, but they illustrate some of the embarrassments which attended the prosecution of the war of 1861-65.
First. "One general-in-chief."
Second. "Enlistments for the war."
Third. "Bounties for families of soldiers in the field."
Fourth. "Service: to be general, regardless of place of enlistment."
Fifth. "Money loans to be effected equal to the demands of the war."
Sixth. "A Declaration of INDEPENDENCE, with the pledge of all the resources of each Colony to its support."
Such was the spirit with which the American army hastened its operations before Boston. Every week of delay was increasing the probability that Great Britain would occupy New York, in force. The struggle for that city would be the practical beginning of the war anew, and upon a scientific basis.
Lord Dartmouth alone had the military sagacity to give sound advice to the British cabinet. He maintained that by the occupation of New York, and the presence of a strong naval force at Newport, Rhode Island (within striking distance of Boston), and the control of the Hudson River, the New England Colonies would be so isolated, as neither to be able to protect themselves, nor to furnish aid to the central Colonies beyond the Hudson River.
For the same reason, an adequate garrison at New York might detach troops to seize the region lying on the waters of the Delaware and Chesapeake, and thereby separate the South from the centre. When General Howe, in 1775, formally urged the evacuation of Boston and the occupation of New York and Newport, he also advised the seizure of "some respectable seaport at the southward, from which to attack seacoast towns, in the winter."
Washington never lost sight of the fact, that, while an important issue had been joined at Boston, its solution must be so worked out as to conserve the general interests of the Colonies as a Nation, and that the delay which was incident to scarcity of powder, and the resulting inability to assault the city, was to be employed, to the utmost, in preparing the troops for an ultimate march to New York, there to face the British in the field.
The reinforcement of General Howe, at midwinter, when an attack upon the American lines would be without hope of success, quickened Washington's preparations for crowding the siege, while constantly on the watch for some manifestation of British activity in other directions.
Within a week after the garrison of the city had been thus strengthened, Washington learned that Clinton had been detached, to make some expedition by sea. General Lee, then in Connecticut on recruiting service, was ordered to New York to put the city in a condition for defence, and arrived on the very day that Clinton anchored at Sandy Hook. Clinton, however, neglected his opportunity, and sailed southward to attack Charleston. Lee also went South, to co-operate with Governor Rutledge, in the defense of that city. The repulse of that expedition at Fort Sullivan (afterwards called Fort Moultrie) could not be known to Washington; but the knowledge that the British had enlarged their theatre of active war was a new stimulus to exertion.
The strain upon the American Commander-in-Chief, in view of this rapid development of hostilities beyond the reach of his army, was intense. Clinton had been authorized to burn all cities that refused submission. In a letter to Congress, Washington wrote: "There has been one single freeze, and some pretty good ice," but a council of war opposed an assault. At last he conceived an alternative plan, in the event that he would not have sufficient powder to risk a direct assault, and the two plans were balanced and matured in his own mind with the determination to act promptly, and solely, at his own independent will.
Few facts testify more significantly of the value to the army and the American cause of that long course of training, in the presence of the enemy, than the preparations thus made by Washington, without the knowledge of most of the officers of his command. He collected forty-five batteaux, each capable of transporting eighty men, and built two floating batteries of great strength and light draught of water. Fascines, gabions, carts, bales of hay, intrenching-tools, and two thousand bandages, with all other contingent supplies, were gathered, and placed under a guard of picked men.
Three nights of mock bombardment kept the garrison on the alert, awaiting an assault. "On the night of the fourth of March, and through all its hours, from candle-lighting time to the clear light of another day, the same incessant thunder rolled along over camps and city; the same quick flashes showed that fire was all along the line, and still, both camps and city dragged through the night, waiting for the daylight to test the work of the night, as daylight had done before."
When daylight came,—
"Two strong redoubts capped Dorchester Heights."
By the tenth of March, the Americans had fortified Nook's Hill, and this drove the British from Boston Neck. Eight hundred shot and shell were thrown into the city during that night. On the morning of March 17, the British embarked for Halifax.
Five thousand American troops entered the city, under General Ward (the venerable predecessor of Washington) as the last boats left.
On the eighteenth of March, and before the main army had entered Boston, General Heath was ordered to New York with five regiments of infantry and a part of the field artillery.
On the twenty-seventh, the whole army, excepting a garrison of five regiments, was ordered forward, General Sullivan leading the column.
On the evening of April fourteenth, after the last brigade marched, Washington started for his new field of duty.
The siege of Boston is indeed memorable for that patient, persistent pressure by which the Colonists grasped, and held fast, all approaches to the city, until a sufficient force could be organized for a systematic siege; but, as the eye rests upon an outline map of the principal works of the besieging force, and we try to associate Ploughed Hill, Winter Hill, Prospect Hill, and other memorable strongholds, with the surroundings of to-day, we are glad to find an abounding source of comfort in the assurance, that the whole struggle for our National Independence is indelibly associated with the names, the vigils, and the experiences which belong to those long months of education in the art and appliances of war.
Swiftly as that well-instructed army moved to New York, they had only time to gain position, before they realized the value of their training in the trenches and redoubts around Boston; and no battle or siege, including the capture of Yorktown, is without its tribute to the far-reaching influence which that training assured.
The echoes of the national salute which have so recently commemorated the one hundredth anniversary of the close of the official career of Washington as commander-in-chief of the army of the Revolution, may well be associated with those midnight salvos of artillery which crowned his first campaign with an enduring success, and, once for all, rescued the soil of the Bay State from the tread of a hostile foot.
It is not the purpose of this paper to give a history of the growth of this important branch of the government service, so much as to impart, perhaps to an indifferent degree, the methods of its intricate workings, and the care and study employed to expedite the vast correspondence of the country. A system as colossal as the Railway Mail Service of this country is, could not be organized but through a process of development meeting needs as they arise. This development is best shown by a comparative illustration from an early date to the present time.
In 1811, there were 2,403 post-offices, and during the year the mail was carried 46,380 miles in stages, and 61,171 miles in sulkies and on horseback. In Postmaster-General Barry's report for the fiscal year ending November 1, 1834, it is said, that, "The multiplication of railroads in different parts of the country promises within a few years to give great rapidity to the movements of travelers, and it is a subject worthy of inquiry whether measures may now be taken to secure the transportation of the mail upon them. Already have the railroads between Frenchtown in Maryland and New Castle in Delaware, and between Camden and South Amboy in New Jersey, afforded great and important facilities to the transmission of the great Eastern mail." The lines of railway at that time, 1834, amounted to seventy-eight miles.
In 1838, the Railway Mail Service began with 1,913 miles of railroad throughout the country. In 1846, mails were carried over 4,092 miles of railway, which increased in 1882 to 100,563 miles.
The miles of annual transportation of mail by railroad in 1852 amounted to 11,082,768, which increased to 113,995,318 in 1882, with an increase in the number of Railway Mail Service employees from 43 in 1846 to 3,072 in 1882. This wonderful expansion was but proportional with the development of the country at large. At the close of the war of the Rebellion, business was at its height. Industry and intelligence were seeking together new channels for their diffusion. The Pacific Railway was the grand conception that met this demand, and by its means were united the borders of the continent, and communication thus made more frequent and rapid between our interior, the West, and Europe: the most ancient civilization of the world in the Orient greeted the youngest in the Occident, and completed the girdle about the earth.
The lumbering stage and caravan laboring across the plains, and the swift mustang flying from post to post, frequently intercepted by the wily savage, were but things of yesterday, though fast becoming legendary. When those slower methods by which correspondence was conveyed at a great expense and delay, and current literature was to a great extent debarred, were supplanted by a continuous line of stages, it was considered a revolution in the wheel of progress, and the consummation. The possible accomplishments of the present day, if entertained at all at that time, were in general considered Munchausen, and not difficulties to be surmounted by practical engineering and undaunted perseverance. The civilization of the world has kept pace with its channels of communication and has accordingly rendered invaluable aid to it. In our country the field in this direction is exceedingly broad.
There is no branch of the government service that reaches so near and supplies the wants of the people as the Post-Office Department, and whose ramification may not be inaptly compared to the human system with its arteries filled with the life-current coursing through the veins and diffusing health and vigor to the various parts; in the same manner the people in the different sections of the country interchange their information. The centres of art and literature, conveying to the vast producing region in the West the products of their refined taste, scientific research, and mechanical achievements, keep alive and propagate the spirit of inquiry, making remote parts of the nation homogeneous in tastes, knowledge, and a common interest in all matters of national advancement.
If a map of the United States with every railway that crosses and recrosses its broad surface were laid before us, it would appear that a regulated system for an expeditious transmission of the mails in such an intricate confusion of lines, apparently going nowhere yet everywhere, would be an impossibility; but by study and untiring energy this has been accomplished.
The machinery of the Post-Office Department is a system of cog-fitting wheels, in all its component parts; and were it not so, in the necessarily limited period and space allotted, the work in postal-cars could not be successfully accomplished.
The interior dimensions of postal-cars vary, from whole cars sixty feet in length, to apartments five feet five inches in length by two feet six inches in width. The most comprehensive conception of the practical working of the postal-car system, can be formed in a railway post-office from forty to sixty feet in length; with this in view, we will make a trip in one. A permit to ride in the car, signed by the superintendent of the division of the service, is necessary to allow us the privilege; and it is also required of clerks belonging to other lines. This rule is necessary, in order that the clerks may perform their work uninterruptedly and correctly; and also to exclude unauthorized persons from mail apartments. After a hasty exchange of salutations with the four clerks, the "clerk in charge" notes our names on his "trip report," and we are assigned a spot in the contracted space, where, we are assured, we will be undisturbed, at least for a while. The trip report mentioned is used in noting connections missed, and other irregularities that may occur. The interior of the car is fitted up with a carefully-studied economy of space, upon plans made under the supervision of the superintendent of the division, or chief clerk of the line. Occupying one end of the car are cases of pigeon-holes, or boxes, numbering from six hundred to one thousand, arranged in the shape of a horse-shoe, for the distribution of letters. These boxes are labeled with the names of the post-offices on the line of road, connecting lines, States, and prominent cities and towns throughout the country. A long, narrow aisle passes through the centre of the car, on both sides of which are racks for open sacks and pouches, into which packages of letters and pieces of other mail matter are thrown; on the sides above are rows of suspended pouches, with their hungry mouths open. By this plan, in this contracted space, upwards of two hundred different pouches and sacks can be distributed into between the termini. On one side of the aisle is a narrow counter, upon which the mail matter is emptied from the pouches and sacks; this is hinged to the pouch-rack, and can be swung back, to enable the clerks to get at the pouches more easily. The space beyond, divided by stanchions, is for the stowage of mails, and for their separation into piles.
In order that a minute may not be lost, when passing through tunnels or standing in dark railway-stations, the lamps are kept burning from the start to the finish. The last wagon, gorgeously suggestive of a circus, has arrived with its load of mail, and the busy work receives at once a new impetus. Several loads, however, have already arrived, and have been disposed of as much as possible; for the work begins, in some cases, several hours before the starting of the train. Transfer clerks and porters deliver the pouches and sacks into the car, the label of each being scanned and checked by the clerks, to detect if all connections due are received, and that no mail may be delayed by being carried out on the road with the other mail and returned. The last pouch is scarcely received, when a sudden, but not violent, shock announces that the locomotive is attached to the train, and the start about to be made. The sound of the gong, seconded by the electrifying and resonant "Aboard!" of the conductor, and the post-office on wheels is under way. Now, all is a scene of bustle, but not confusion. The two clerks, to whom are assigned the duty of distributing direct packages of letters and newspaper mail, including merchandise, deftly empty the pouches, out of which pour packages of letters and circulars, to be distributed unbroken into pouches, and others labeled to this route and different States, which are in turn to be separated into packages by routes, States, and large towns, at the letter-case. To the clerk in charge is assigned the sorting of such letters as are destined to distant routes or terminal connecting lines; and his associate, or second clerk, is busy distributing letter mail for local delivery, and into separations for intermediate connections.
In addition to sorting letters, the clerk in charge has charge of the registered mail, which requires special care in its reception and delivery, booking and receipting therefor. Large pouches of registered mail are also placed in his charge, en transit between large cities, and represent great value. The peculiar tooting of the whistle, or a peculiar movement of the train around a curve, warns the fourth clerk, who is on the alert, of a "catch" station; the letter mail for that post-office is quickly deposited by the local clerk in the pouch, the lock is snapped, and he is standing at the door not a minute too soon or too late; the pouch is thrown out at a designated spot and one deftly caught an instant after without a slackening of the speed of the train. The pouch thus caught is taken to the counter, opened and emptied by the fourth clerk, and the letters immediately placed in the hands of the second clerk, who assorts the local mail; the through letters, or those destined to go over distant lines beyond the terminus, are sorted by the clerk in charge; the local, or second, clerk distributes his mail as rapidly as possible, with a watchful eye for letters, etc., to be put into the pouch to be delivered at the next station; the pouch is locked and everything is ready for the next delivery and "catch." When the stations at which pouches are caught are within a mile or two of each other, the greatest activity is needed to assort the mail between stations, to avoid carrying mail by destination and subjecting it to considerable delay before its delivery by a railway post-office on the train to be met at a point perhaps many miles ahead.
The manner of taking or "catching" the mail from the trackside by some invisible power on a railroad train plunging through space has seemed to many a feat of almost legerdemanic skill, when all that is required is a simple mechanical apparatus and a quick, firm movement of the arm in using it at the right moment. A crane similar in appearance to the oldtime gibbet is erected near the track, and may have served as a warning by its suggestive appearance to some would-be train-wrecker. Its base is a platform two feet and a half square, with two short steps on top to assist the person hanging the pouch; a post ten feet in height passes up through this platform near the edge; a stout joist about five feet in length is fixed across the top of the post and so balanced that when relieved of the weight of the pouch it flies up perpendicularly against the post. The pouch used for this purpose is made of canvas and is somewhat narrower than the ordinary leathern pouch. It is lightly suspended by a slender iron rod projecting from the horizontal joist, passed through a ring at the top and lightly held at the bottom in the same manner as at the top.
When the pouch is snatched from the crane, the top piece flies up as described, and a parallel short joist at the bottom of the pouch drops. The pouch is strapped small in the middle, resembling an hour-glass, where the catcher-iron on the car is to strike it. This "catcher" consists of a round iron bar across the door of the car, and placed in a socket on each side about shoulder high; a strong handle, similar to a chisel-handle, projects perpendicularly from this bar; on the under side of the bar projects, at an angle of about forty-five degrees, a slender and strong iron rod, slightly turned at the end to prevent its tearing the pouch, of about three feet in length. As the train approaches the crane, the operating clerk with a quick, steady throw delivers the mail at a given point, usually near the crane; he then grasps the handle with his right hand, swinging the handle over inward; the arm when thrown outward, the horizontal bar turning in the sockets, comes in contact with the pouch, striking that part of it narrowed by the strap and striking the arm near the vertex of the angle into which it is driven by the momentum of the train; the greater the speed the more securely it is held there; but the clerk is on the qui vive, and as soon as it strikes the catcher-iron, grasps the pouch to make sure of getting it, as sometimes if the pouch is not hung properly, the arm will strike it at such a part as to require the most agile movement on the part of the clerk to secure it and to prevent its falling to the ground or under the wheels of the train and being torn to pieces; these cases, however, are rare, but pouches have lodged on the trucks and have been carried many miles.
To return to the clerks and their work. In the meantime, the "through" work continues, when the distance between stations and junctions will allow of it; letters in packages are distributed into boxes with a celerity and economy of motion which could be acquired only by continued practice and training of the eye to decipher an ever-varying chirography, and of mental activity to almost instantly locate a post-office on its proper route, its earliest point of supply, or connecting line.
The emptying of pouches continues; package after package of letters roll out on the counter as though they were potatoes rather than the dumb expression of every human emotion, or the innocent touchspring of their awakening. The pouches are labeled to indicate those requiring the earliest attention, as are also the packages of letters they contain; this plan prevents, to a great extent, the carrying of mail past its destination.
The packages of letters to be distributed by routes, post-offices, and States, are taken to the letter-case; those not to be so separated, that is, unbroken packages, en transit, are placed at once into their proper pouches.
The emptying of sacks of paper mail follows that of the pouches; the papers and packages of merchandise are faced in a manner to be readily picked up, their addresses read, and deftly thrown into the mouths of the pouches and sacks in the racks; this is very skilfully done, as the want of space requires that they shall be crowded closely together.
The swaying of the train around a curve makes little difference, as the clerks in a short time learn to follow every motion of the train. A quick decision, ready eye, and economy of movement as a superstructure to a good knowledge of his duties, are the invaluable qualities of a successful railway postal-clerk; and one so equipped soon outstrips his lagging seniors and associates in grade. As the train approaches a junction, preparations are made to "close out" that part of the mail to be delivered at that point, the sacks are tied, the tags or labels having been attached before starting. The clerks at the letter-case are rapidly taking the letters from the boxes tying them into packages, and separating them into piles, which are dropped into their proper pouches and locked, and so on until all is ready. Let us examine these packages of letters and at the same time describe the slip system. On the outside of each package for redistribution, and also inside each direct package, that is, containing mail for a single post-office, is placed a brown paper slip, or label, about the size of an ordinary envelope, bearing its address or destination, which may be that of a post-office, a group of post-offices supplied therefrom, and labelled "dis." (the abbreviation of distribution), or for a railway post-office; this slip also bears the imprint of the name of the clerk who sorted into the package and is responsible for its correctness, the postmark with date, and a letter, as "N." for north, or "W." for west, indicating the direction the train is moving at the time. A similar slip is also placed loose in each pouch and sack.
The errors discovered in the packages of letters, or among the loose pieces in the pouches and sacks, are endorsed on the proper slip, signed and postmarked by the clerk in the railway post-office receiving it. These errors may be the result of carelessness, ignorance, or misinformation; in the latter case, had the clerk been properly informed, perhaps a delay of half an hour or less might have been avoided if sent by some other route. These error-slips are sent each day enclosed in a trip report to the division superintendent; if approved, the record is made, and the clerk in receiving the error-slip at the end of the month is informed of his mistake, and it is needless to add that the error, if one of ignorance or misinformation, will not be repeated. This forms a part of the record of the clerk upon which to a degree his future advancement depends. The beneficial effect of this system as an incentive to study, care in distribution, and a commendable rivalry, is indisputable.
The postmarks on the letters in the package in our hands show that they joined the current at a junction but a few miles past, and if the location of one of them is sought on the map, it is found to be an obscure hamlet on a remote stage route, by which it reaches the railroad, over which a single clerk in an office seven feet square, or less, performs local service, and which line makes connection with the through mail-train on the main road. The letters described are tied in a package with others, and a label slip placed thereon addressed to some railway post-office, perhaps hundreds of miles distant, which is reached unbroken through a many-linked chain of connections; with this package are others for large cities which will be passed along intact to destination, and also letters labeled to railway post-office lines making connections in their turn. The pouches and sacks into which the packages of letters and papers are deposited will be received at the next junction into a railway post-office car, sorted and forwarded in the manner described. In many cases a mail is sent across by a stage route to connect a parallel line, and thereby feeding a new section.
Mail matter is frequently received, through error, for post-offices on the line of road but just passed, or for post-offices supplied only by one railway post-office train moving in the opposite direction; to provide for such mail a pouch is left at the meeting-point of this train; and so the train plunges on with its busy workers, its pleasure-seekers, and its composite humanity, The clerks have long since become grim with the smut of the train, paling all others but the fireman, and the long-nursed illusion that all government positions are sinecures is rudely dispelled by their appearance, and an insight into their arduous duties. As the train lazily rolls into the terminal station, pouches and sacks are ready for delivery and the clerks make ready to leave the car.
The instant the train stops, a portion of the mail, large or small as the case may be, is delivered into a wagon for rapid transfer to a railway post-office train about to start from another station. If the incoming train is late, it may be necessary to exact the utmost speed to reach the outgoing train, and in many cases it is always necessary to effect it rapidly. After the transfer mail is disposed of, the labels of the remaining pouches and sacks are examined, and as the mail is passed out of the car we are surprised at its quantity, filling a number of large wagons; this, however, does not constitute the entire mail distributed en route, as the quantities delivered at junctions and stations aggregate, in many cases, more by far than that delivered at the terminal station, There are many details of work that our space forbids us to describe, that are technical and of little interest to the reader, but are of relative importance. These we must leave, and prepare for the return journey on the night-train, feeling grateful that our busy fellow-travelers are to have an opportunity to refresh themselves.
The work performed in a railway post-office on a night-train differs somewhat from that on a day-train, yet maintaining the same general principle of distribution. The methods differ, governed by the connections, and a clerk suddenly transferred from a day-train to a night-train on the same route, unless thoroughly informed of the train schedules, of close and remote connections, the time of the dispatch of direct closed pouches from many post-offices, stage route schedules, etc.,—which knowledge, even approximating correctness, would be extraordinary,—would be almost as much at a loss as if transferred to another route, excepting his knowledge of the location of the post-offices on his own line. In all cases if a delay occurs, causing a connection to be missed, it is the duty of the clerk to know at once the next most expeditious route by which the mail can be forwarded.
The hardship incurred by a night-clerk is greater in many respects than that of the day-clerk; while in the latter case a continual active strain is required in the performance of local work and its multiplicity of detail, yet this is more than offset by the handling of bulky and heavy through mail and the unnatural necessity of sleeping in the daytime, which at most affords but a partial rest. On many night-lines the clerks commence work in mid-afternoon, accomplishing considerable before the train starts, and as the train plunges through darkness into the gray dawn and early morning, they sturdily empty pouches and sacks, and the incessant flow of letters and papers is only interrupted when approaching some important junction where mail is delivered and received from connecting lines or post-offices. Everything presents a weird aspect in a railway-station at midnight,—men flit about in a dazed way with satchels, the bright light bursting through the doorway of the car gives a ghastly look to the face of the man who throws in the pouches and sacks, and all appear like ghosts that will vanish with the approach of dawn; but we realize the substance of our surroundings when we again turn our attention to the busy scene in the car. The city distribution of letters—a feature of the service on night-trains which has greatly facilitated the early delivery of mails in a few of the larger cities—has been extended to other cities, and others are still to receive its benefit. For instance, clerks from the Boston post-office detailed to do this duty enter the mail-car at the Boston and Albany Railway at Springfield, Massachusetts, and sort the city letters by carriers' routes, post-office box sections, banks, insurance offices, etc. The corresponding train moving in the opposite direction is boarded by New York post-office clerks making similar separations.
The packages of letters thus made up go direct to their respective divisions in the post-office, thereby avoiding the delay that would be caused in passing through other preliminary distributing departments. This work has been taken up recently by the Railway Mail Service, the plan enlarged and extended, and added to the other duties of the clerks. Additional clerks, however, have been employed to perform this work, yet the others are required to know it, and on lines where additional clerks were not appointed, to make it their regular duty.
A glance has been given at one of the many links in the continuous chains of connections that cross and recross the face of the country. A comparison of the oldtime method and of the railway post-office service will show the superior advantage of the latter. At some remote hamlet in Nova Scotia, a letter is started for San Francisco, California. It crosses the boundary line into the United States and enters at once the swelling current at Vanceborough, Maine. Leaving that place at 1.35 A.M., Monday, without delay it reaches Boston at 5.10 P.M., is transferred across the city, leaves at 6.00 P.M., connecting with the fast mail train from New York City at Albany, through Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo, reaches Cleveland at 6.00 P.M., Tuesday, and Chicago at 6.00 A.M., Wednesday, where an intermission of six hours makes the longest delay in the line of connection. The next morning, Thursday, at 11. A.M., Omaha is reached; Friday, at 6.00 P.M., Laramie, Wyoming; Saturday, at 6.00 P.M., Ogden, Utah; Sunday, Humboldt, Nevada; and Monday, at 11.00 A.M., San Francisco. This illustration has been made to show the far-reaching continuity of connecting lines across the country, passing through many of the principal cities but not entering a post-office for distribution, rather than a complexity of connections almost innumerable in a thickly-settled country, and over which study and patient inquiry to simplify are ever at work.
Lyons, Wayne County, New York, is located on the New York Central Railway; a letter is started from that place for Leeds, Franklin County, Massachusetts; it is received into the New York and Chicago railway post-office at 8.17 A.M., then it is given to the Boston and Albany railway post-office at Albany, the latter line connecting at Westfield, Massachusetts, with the Williamsburgh and New Haven railway post-office, arriving at destination at 9.37 that night.
Again at 6.08 P.M., from Lyons, another New York and Chicago railway post-office train passes, but, owing to different connections, disposes of it differently: from this railway post-office a pouch containing a similarly addressed letter, with other mail, is delivered at Albany for the Boston and Albany railway post-office, due to leave Springfield, Massachusetts, at 7.15 A.M.; this pouch is conveyed from Albany in the baggage-car attached to an express-train, which train, passing Westfield, connects at Springfield with the 7.15 A.M. railway post-office train East. At Palmer a short distance east of Springfield a return mail is left for the railway post-office that left Boston at five o'clock that morning; into this mail the letter for Leeds is placed, as the clerks in the latter-named railway post-office deliver at Westfield a pouch for Leeds, which place is reached 10.07 that morning, on train in charge of baggage-master. This illustration is comparatively a simple one. Many instances could be given where a detour of many miles is made to gain a few minutes in time. By the old system the letter would, in all probability, have gone to Albany post-office for distribution, thence either to New Haven, Connecticut, or Westfield, Massachusetts, for the same purpose, losing trains at each place waiting to be distributed, and consuming fully, or more, than sixty-four instead of sixteen hours. By the old method delays became almost interminable as the connections became intricate, more so than on a continuous line. The advantage of the "catcher" system described elsewhere, which enabled towns to communicate with one another in a few minutes, instead of by the direct closed pouch system through a distributing office miles away, consuming hours, is not inconsiderable.
The gain by the present method is incomparable. Intersecting at Albany, New York, with the line from Vanceborough, Maine, to San Francisco, just described, or perhaps what may be called the vertebral column of the system, is the New York and Chicago railway post-office line, known also as the "Fast Mail" or the "White Mail," as the mail-cars on this line were originally painted white. A mail-train consisting of four mail-cars and express-cars leaves New York City at 8.50 P.M., making the through connection to Chicago. There are two similar trains, leaving New York at 4.35 A.M., and at 10.30 A.M., with a less number of cars; and three moving in the opposite direction. There are twenty mail-cars on this line, each interior is sixty feet in length, and the exterior, as already mentioned, painted white, and bearing the coat-of-arms of some State and the name of its past or present governor. Each car is devoted to a special purpose: the distribution of letters and local, or "way," work; the distribution of paper mail; and others for storage. The distributing cars are built upon a different plan from the one hereinbefore described; the packages, etc., are distributed into large compartments or boxes slightly pitching back one over the other in a large case, and the clerk wishing to empty one of them passes into the narrow aisle to the rear of the case; the pouch or sack is hooked to the case under the door of the box, and the mail drops into it. Pouches and sacks are also hung in racks to be distributed into. These cars are post-offices of no mean pretensions when the amount of work performed is considered. When it is considered how densely populated the country is through which this line passes many times each day, and its numerous and swelling tributaries, the volume of mail conveyed is enormous, yet not disproportionate.
The average amount conveyed during thirty days, in the sixty days in January and February of 1881, that the weights of mails were taken between New York City and Buffalo, a distance of four hundred and forty-two miles, amounted to 4,416,451 lbs.; between Buffalo and Chicago, a distance of five hundred and forty-two miles, 2,874,918 lbs. Over the first section 73,607 lbs. per day, the second section 47,848 per day; while either of these amounts does not equal those carried during the same period between New York and West Philadelphia, on the route to Washington, a distance of ninety miles, amounting to 6,202,370 lbs. for the thirty days, and 103,372 lbs. per day, the great discrepancy in miles must be borne in mind and the fact that government supplies and public documents to the East and North contribute no small proportion of the amount. The mail between New York and Chicago is altogether a working mail. It requires more than two hundred and sixty clerks to handle this mail, who travel annually 2,030,687 miles.
The clerks on the westerly bound trains are assigned the distributing of mails by route, for all Middle, Western, Southwestern, and Northwestern States, and on the easterly bound trains for the Middle and Eastern States.
When such States as New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois, with respectively 3,070, 3,681, 2,603, and 2,568 post-offices, are taken into consideration, some idea may be formed of the work required in preparing a system of distribution, the vigilance required to keep pace with the frequently changing schedules, and the study of the clerks to properly carry its requirements into effect. Beyond Chicago, in the new country, the work of distribution grows less intricate, but the powers of endurance of the clerks are severely tested. On the line between Kansas City, Missouri, and Deming, New Mexico, a distance of 1,147 miles, the clerks ship for a long voyage—five days on the outward trip and the same on the inward, sleeping and eating on the train.
There are a number of lines in the far West, on which the clerks do not leave the train for a number of days. Throughout the country the total number of pieces of ordinary mail handled by 3,855 railway postal clerks on the lines, during the year ending June 30, 1883, amounted to 3,981,516,280; the number of errors made in their distribution was 958,478 pieces, or a per centage of correct distribution of 99.97. This minutia of detail is applied to the distribution of a vast bulk of mail. It is estimated that in Boston, Massachusetts, between eighty and one hundred tons of mail matter are daily dispatched, and between forty and sixty tons are daily received; while at New York City this quantity is more than doubled. Even figures become interesting when they represent the standard of intelligence and progress, as shown by an increased correspondence and literature. In no branch of the government service, it can be safely said, have the tenets advanced by the advocates of the civil-service reform been so nearly realized as in this bureau of the Post-Office Department even at that period when the initiatory steps now being applied to other departmental machinery were considered all but Utopian,—a system consisting of a probationary period preceding appointment, and promotion from grade to grade, based upon a practical and thorough system of examination, had long since been developed up through an experimental stage to a well-grounded success. The complexity of the postal system, continually varying in detail, demanded a uniform system of giving information, and a corresponding test of its operation. The system of distribution for each State is compiled in tabulated form in a book or sheet, known as a "scheme," for ready reference when on duty, or study when off the road. In thickly-settled States, where numerous railroads cross and re-cross each other in the same county, it is necessary to have the names of the post-offices arranged alphabetically; opposite the name of each office is given all its methods of supply and also the hour the mail reaches that office. In more sparsely-settled States the schemes are arranged by counties; this is done where the majority of the offices in a county are supplied by one or two lines, and the exceptions, which are only specified in detail in the scheme, by other lines or a number of post-offices. In this case the clerk memorizes the supply of the excepted post-offices particularly, the disposition of the remaining post-offices in the county being the same; it is of the first importance to be properly informed in which county an office is located, and the line supplying the principal part of that county. A name prefixed with "north" in one county may have the prefix of "south" in another, or a similar name in a remote county. These schemes are compiled at division headquarters, and the general orders are revised almost daily, informing the clerks of changes affecting the distribution, and also instructions as to other duties. From the schemes mentioned, lists of distribution are made and time computed applicable to each line or train of the States for which mail is selected.
To return from this preliminary digression to the examinations. These examinations are of the most practical character and serve to develop the mental abilities and intelligent understanding of the clerks. To clearly understand the method, the clerk should be followed step by step from the time of his probationary appointment into the service, through the probationary period and his examinations as a full-fledged clerk. After a month's service on a line, the clerk is assigned a day and hour for his examination; here is laid the foundation for future usefulness, the intelligent understanding of a service, acquired by continual study and inquiry, that gives to all occupations that peculiar zest when understandingly rather than mechanically followed. A single State, with the least number of offices, that in the course of duty he will be required to assort, is selected at the first; it is not expected that it will be memorized understandingly, or the location of each office fully known at once, but it forms the basis of inquiry, and develops either future excellence or mediocrity, or total incapacity. The room in which these examinations are usually conducted (excepting when a clerk on a route in a remote part of the division is the subject, in which case he is visited by the examining clerk) is kept quiet, and nothing that will distract the attention allowed. He is placed before a case containing one hundred pigeon-holes, or more, each the width of an ordinary visiting-card, and sufficiently high to contain a large pack of them. Cards are then produced, upon each one of which is printed the name of a post-office, comprising a whole State. The cards are distributed into the case by the clerk being examined and the number of separations made as required when on actual duty in the railway post-office. The number of separations varies according to the connections due to be made; when the line is through a thickly-settled country, the separations are made in fine detail. In the State of Massachusetts there are seven hundred and seventy-two post-offices; and the number of separations made by one line is upwards of eighty. On the train it is necessary to make many (what are known as) direct packages that the examination does not call for. Account is taken of the time consumed in "sticking" the cards, and questions asked to test the knowledge of connections. A large number of questions are asked relating to the Postal Laws and Regulations, as affecting the Railway Mail Service; these latter questions vary in number from fifty to one hundred. When practicable, during the probationary period of six months, one examination is held each month, taking a different State each time.
The results of these examinations are placed on record, and at the expiration of the probationary term, this record, together with the list of errors in sending mail, are forwarded to the Honorable William B. Thompson, General Superintendent of the Railway Mail Service, in Washington, District of Columbia, with a recommendation that the clerk be permanently appointed or dropped out of the service. These examinations are held at intervals among all the clerks to test their efficiency, and as an incentive to study, to keep fresh in their minds the proper disposition of the important mails passing through their hands. In these examinations a good-natured rivalry exists, and a vigilant eye is kept by the clerks that their line shall make as high an average per centage, or, if possible, higher than any other. The per centage of correctness rarely falls below seventy-five; an average is generally made of ninety-five per cent. The list of errors made is closely scanned by better-informed clerks, and no stone left unturned by them to clear their record, and to satisfactorily settle disputed points. These discussions and inquiries are invited, not only that all may feel satisfied with the result, but also that much valuable information is frequently elicited from the clerks, who in many cases are situated advantageously to see where practical benefits may be attained.
During the fiscal year which ended June 30, 1882, there were 2,898 examinations of permanent clerks held, and 3,140,630 cards handled; of this number 208,736 were incorrect, 512,460 not known, making a correct average per centage of 77.05. This record does not include that of probationary clerks. This constant watchfulness, it can readily be seen, redounds to the benefit of the public and results in the most expeditious methods of forwarding the mails attainable. In some cases a test of reading addresses of irregular or difficult legibility as rapidly as possible is given, but this idea has not been generally adopted. The query naturally arises, Is there no incentive to study other than to make a good record? There is; for upon this basis, together with a knowledge of a ready working capacity and application—both great considerations—are the promotions and reductions made. Those in charge of lines are fully cognizant of the status of the men, bearing on all points. The clerks in the service are classified, those on the small or less important routes according to the distance. Our attention, however, is drawn particularly to the trunk lines. The probationary appointee is of class 1, receiving pay at the rate of eight hundred dollars per annum; but at the expiration of his six months' probation, if he is retained, he is paid nine hundred dollars per annum, and placed in class 2. The number of men in a crew on a trunk line making through connections is governed by the quantity of work performed, and generally consists of four men, excepting the fast lines, New York to Chicago and Pittsburgh, where more than one mail-car on a train is required. With four men in a crew the clerk in charge is classed 5, and others successively 4, 3, and 2, and paid at the rate of thirteen hundred dollars, eleven hundred and fifty dollars, one thousand dollars, and nine hundred dollars per annum. In the event of a vacancy in class 5, the records of examinations and errors made in the performance of work are scanned, the relative working capacity of the eligible men in class 4 considered, and a copy of the records, with recommendations, forwarded to the General Superintendent. The gap caused by the retirement of one of class 5, and filled by one of class 4, necessitates promotions from classes 2 and 3, and also a new appointment into class 1, probationary, and after that period is passed into class 2, thus preserving a uniform organization.
The selections for promotion are made from the clerks on the entire line. Thus it will be seen that a graduated system of promotion exists, based upon merit and competitive examination, and which to the fullest extent is practical and theoretically satisfactory to the most exacting civil-service reform doctrinaire. The general supervision of the Railway Mail Service is under a General Superintendent, the Honorable William B. Thompson, located in Washington, District of Columbia. It is divided into nine sections, with offices in Boston, New York City, Washington, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Cleveland, and is respectively under the superintendence Messrs. Thomas P. Cheney, R.C. Jackson, C.W. Vickery, L.M. Terrell, C.J. French, J.E. White, E.W. Warfield, H.J. McKusick, and W.G. Lovell,—men who have risen from humble positions in the service, step by step, to their present positions of responsibility.
It is an erroneous impression that prevails in certain quarters that the forwarding of mails over the various railroads is arranged by postmasters; the especial charge and control of the reception and dispatch of mails is under the Superintendents of the Railway Mail Service, who, in their turn, are responsible to the General Superintendent, who, in his turn is responsible to the Honorable Second Assistant Postmaster-General.
It will readily be seen by the foregoing sketch that a clerkship in the Railway Mail Service is far from being a sinecure, either mentally or physically. As the country increases in population and the system becomes more complex, it is found to be important to the public that the clerks should be insured against removal except for the following reasons: "Intemperance, inattention to or neglect of duty, incapacity for the duties of the office, disobedience of official instructions, intentional disrespect to officers of this or other departments of the government, indecency in speech, intentional rudeness of language or behavior towards persons having official business with them or towards associates, and conduct unbecoming a gentleman." In several annual reports the General Superintendent has urged upon Congress that some provision be made for pensioning disabled clerks. This would seem to be only fitting justice to the clerks, who hourly incur a risk of either limb or life.
"Mamma, where is the old Witch House? I met on the street this morning Johnnie Evans and his mother, who came way down from Boston just to see that, and Witch Hill, and some other places here in Salem that they had been reading about together this vacation. Why, I haven't seen these things, and I have lived here all my life. And they said, too, that they were going to find the house where Hawthorne was born. Who was he, mamma? I think Johnnie said that the house was on Union Street. Can't I go there, too? I am tired of playing out in the street all the time. I want to go somewhere and see something."
So said Reuben Tracy to his mother, as he came into the house from his play one day about the middle of his long summer vacation. His little eyes had just been opened to the fact that there was something in old Salem which made her an object of interest to outsiders; and, if so, he wanted to see it. As his mother listened to him, her eyes were opened, too, to her want of interest, through which her boy should have been obliged to ask this of her, rather than that she should have guided him into this pleasant path to historic knowledge. But she determined that this should not happen again. The vacation was only half through, and there was yet time to do much in this direction. Her boy should not spend so much time in idle play in the streets. She would begin that very afternoon and read to him some stories of local history, and impress upon his little mind, as Mrs. Evans was doing with her boy, by visiting with him all that she could of the places mentioned. She herself had not seen Hawthorne's birthplace; she would learn more about him and his work, so as to tell Reuben, and then they would visit the place together; after which they would take a trip to Concord and see where he was buried, and also the places where he had lived, which, she had heard, were so charming. She could then tell her boy of Emerson and Thoreau; and, through a sight of the place where the first battle of the Revolution was fought, she could lead him willingly into the study of history.
Thus Mrs. Tracy planned with herself. She had suddenly become converted to a knowledge of her larger duty in the training of her child—her only child now; for, nearly two years before, death had claimed, in one week, her two other children, one older and one younger than Reuben; and since then she had fallen into a sad, listless state of mind which she found hard to get out of. She was an unusually good mother in the ordinary sense of the word, since she was careful to have her boy well-fed, well-clothed, and well-behaved; but now she saw more than that was required of her.
The good resolution of Mrs. Tracy became so fruitful, that another week's time found Reuben and herself acquainted with the points of interest which Johnnie Evans had mentioned, and several more beside. Mrs. Tracy had accompanied these visits with much interesting information, which Reuben had enjoyed greatly. Such success led her to provide something new for the following week. Now, she herself had never seen the old town of Marblehead,—only four miles from Salem,—although of late she had been to Marblehead Neck to see a sister who was boarding there for the summer. So with an eye to visiting the old town, she spent an hour each day, for several days, reading and talking with Reuben on the history and legends of Marblehead; and, through the guidance of Drake's New England Coast, learning what now remained there as mementos of the past. Then, after having invited two of Reuben's little playfellows to accompany them, they started, one bright morning, to drive over by themselves. As they passed up Washington Street in the old town, Reuben's eyes were looking for the Lee mansion, which he said was now used for a bank, and which, with its furniture, cost its builder, Colonel Lee, fifty thousand dollars. They found it, with its date of 1768 over the door, and soon were in the main hall, where was hanging the same panel paper which was put on when the house was built. They noticed the curious carving of the balusters, as well as of a front room, which was wainscoted from floor to ceiling; they wished that it had never been used for a bank, but that it was still the old mansion as it used to be; for then they could see, among other things, the paintings hanging on the walls, of Colonel Lee and his wife, which Reuben said were eight feet long and five feet wide, and painted by a man named Copley. His mother smiled when she heard him add, with all the spirit of Young America: "And he painted them both for one hundred and twenty-five dollars. Why, just my head alone cost my papa one hundred dollars; and just think of those two big ones for only one hundred and twenty-five dollars!"
As all three of the boys sat in the large recessed window-seat, Reuben declared that he did not see how the window-panes could have been the wonder of the town, for they were not near as large as his Uncle Edward's, and nobody wondered at them!
They then imagined, walking in the same room where they then were, General Washington, as he came there in 1789 to be entertained by the Lees; and also Monroe, Jackson, and even Lafayette, who had been there, too. When one of the boys asked if the street in which he lived, in Salem, was named for that Lafayette, Mrs. Tracy noted the question as a good sign.
Soon they were in search of the old St. Michael's Episcopal Church, near there, which they had learned was the third oldest in Massachusetts, and the fourth in New England, those in Boston, Newbury, and Newport being the three older. As Mrs. Tracy approached it, she became indignant that the outer frame had ever been put over the original church with its seven gables and its towers; she wondered if it could not now be taken off and leave the old church, as it was meant to be, pretty and unique. When from the inside she saw the peculiar ceiling, she thought more than ever that it ought to be and could be done. While she was thus speculating, the boys were observing the quaint old brass chandelier, with its candles, a gift from England, also the pillars of the church, stained to imitate marble. Then they all examined the Decalogue over the altar, written in the ancient letters, and done in England in 1714. Mrs. Tracy wished that the old high pulpit and sounding-board had never been replaced by the desk which she now saw there. The sexton showed them the old English Bible, which he said had been in use there about one hundred and twenty-five years. They noticed the little organ, which was very old, and also sent over from England. As they came out of the church, they saw, by its side, a graveyard containing some old inscriptions, and then went on to see the old Town House in the square, which Reuben said was in its prime in the days of George III. He told the boys to wait until they should study history, and then they would know more about this king. That was what he was going to do. Mrs. Tracy noted this remark as another good sign.
She treated them to some soda-water in Goodwin's apothecary-store, nearly opposite, so that they could the more easily remember the house, of which this was the parlor, where Chief-Justice Story was born.
They were still driving up Washington Street, through one of the oldest parts of the town, when, all of a sudden, Reuben asked his mother to stop and let him and his friends get out and run up some stone steps, which he said he knew would lead them up through backyards into another street. So out they jumped, and soon were up in High Street, following its winding way over the rocky soil, and amidst old houses, until they came out to Washington Street again, where Mrs. Tracy had driven on to meet them. They then drove along Front Street, where they had a fine view of the ocean, and also of the Neck, so prettily decked with its unique jewels. Reuben was anxious to go in Lee and State Streets because they were old and quaint, which they soon found. The boys, much to their delight, spied some more steps leading to another street, and also noticed, on much of the way, the want of sidewalks. They touched upon other streets which they were inclined to call lanes.
So they spent a day in this old town, with its Fort Sewall; its Powder House, built in 1755; its Ireson's house on Oakum Bay, where Mrs. Tracy reread to them Whittier's poem on Ireson; its cemeteries, where in one they found a gravestone bearing the date of 1690. They visited the new Abbott Hall, which Mrs. Tracy told them to consider as a historical connecting link between the old and the new. She now felt that they had seen enough for one day: so, with a promise to drive over again, some time, to visit more especially the newer part of the town, and also to drive around the Neck, they left for home. The next day, indeed for several days, the boys were in high spirits talking over their trip. All of the boys in the neighborhood were interested to hear of it, and doubtless some mother was stimulated to do as much for her children. As for Mrs. Tracy, her sorrow was still keen, but her interest in her living child's growth was becoming the means of softening its sharpest edge. She had discovered an elixir which should renew her life to larger ends.
By another week's time Marblehead was pretty well talked over, and Mrs. Tracy was interested to find another subject for the rest of the vacation, A few days before, Reuben had asked her what an island was. She felt then, as she answered him, that a visit to such a place would give him a much better idea of its capabilities than any description which she could give. So, now, in thinking over an interesting island within easy distance, for a day's trip, she recalled the pleasure which, some years before, she had found in a short stay upon Star Island, among the Isles of Shoals. When she had decided that this should be the place, she talked the matter over with Reuben, telling him that he might invite his cousin Frank, a boy of fifteen years, to come from a neighboring town and spend the rest of the vacation with him; for he would enjoy studying with them about the Isles of Shoals before they should all go to see them. Reuben was delighted with the proposition; he secretly wondered what had made his mother so extra good lately; he determined that he would love her more and more, and do all that he could for her; he did wish that his brother Albert was alive to go with them, but he was so glad to have his cousin Frank, who was certainly coming to him the next day.
The following morning brought him, after which the days flew quickly by. Reuben not only showed to him the antiquities of Salem, but told him much of Marblehead town. They played together their vacation plays, and had, each day, their hour's talk and reading with Mrs. Tracy on the geography and history of the Isles of Shoals. At last they were ready to go, and the day was set. Mrs. Tracy had invited Reuben's school-teacher, Miss De Severn, a lovely young lady, whom sad reverses had sent to hard work, and denied much pleasure in travel, to join her in their trip. Reuben teased his papa to go with them, but business engagements prevented his so doing. But he encouraged his son in his pleasure, and told him that whenever he could tell all that he wanted to see in Europe he should go there on a tour, but not before. Frank, particularly, caught his uncle's idea, and determined then to read all the good books of travel that he could find.
On the pleasant morning of the appointed time they were all on hand in the Salem station to take the train for Portsmouth; they arrived there in time to take the steamer Appledore, as it started at eleven o'clock, for its ten-mile trip to the Shoals. The boys were delighted with the novelty of sailing between New Hampshire on one side and Maine on the other. As they passed on the right the quaint old town of Newcastle, Miss De Severn told them of the old Wentworth house, built in 1750, which was still standing there, and which still contained the old portraits of Dorothy Quincy and others. She promised to read to them, on their return home, the story of Dorothy Quincy, as told by Dr. Holmes, and also the story of Martha Hilton, the Lady Wentworth of the Hall, as told by Longfellow. While she was telling them of the old Fort Constitution, which they soon passed, and other tales of Great Island, or Newcastle, Mrs. Tracy was enjoying the Kittery side, which also had its suggestive history. They soon passed the twin lighthouses of Whale's Back. Reuben was still wondering why that name was given to it, when his quick ear heard the ringing of a bell afar off in the distance. What could that be? Then Mrs. Tracy told the boys of the valuable bell-buoys, of which they had never heard. The sea was just rough enough to cause the bell stationed there to ring most of the time; and as they passed it, they declared that they never heard anything more dismal. Frank said that he should always think of that in a stormy night ringing out to warn the sailors. After a sail of an hour and a half, they landed at Appledore Island, the largest of the seven which comprise the Isles of Shoals, and which altogether make a little over six hundred acres. Reuben said that they were now in Maine, for Appledore, Smutty Nose, Duck, and Cedar belonged to Maine; while Star, White, and Londoner belonged to New Hampshire. His mother was pleased to hear him apply his geographical knowledge of the place so soon. She was sure now that he never would forget that fact. They spent a short time in looking around the island, with its attractive hotel, so finely situated, and its half dozen pretty cottages. One of them Mrs. Tracy pointed out as the home of Celia Thaster, who, she told them, was a poetess who had written so feelingly of the sea, and who had told, in a pretty poem, how in the years gone by she had often lighted with her own hands the light in the lighthouse which they could see on White Island, a short distance from them. The boys wished to go there, as they had never been near a lighthouse; but as Mrs. Tracy felt that in their limited time Star Island would, on the whole, afford them more pleasure and profit, they took the little miniature steamer Pinafore, which constantly plied between the two islands, and in a few minutes' time were landed on its historic ground.
After they had dined at the Oceanic, a hotel kept by the same proprietors as the Appledore House, on the island which they had just left, they found that they had an hour and a half in which to look around before the steamer should return to Portsmouth. As they sauntered along over the rocks back of the hotel, they came near enough to the little meeting-house, which was standing there, to read on its side the following inscription:—
GOSPORT CHURCH. ORIGINALLY CONSTRUCTED OF THE TIMBERS FROM THE WRECK OF A SPANISH SHIP, A.D. 1685; WAS REBUILT IN 1720, AND BURNED BY THE ISLANDERS IN 1790. THIS BUILDING OF STONE WAS ERECTED A.D. 1800.
Through the kindness of a gentleman who had brought the key to gain entrance into the interior, they all went in through the little side door to see a comparatively small room, with about twenty-five pews, and a quaint desk with a large chair each side of it. Mrs. Tracy said that when this church was built, in 1800, that island had only fifteen families and ninety-two persons, while Smutty Nose had three families and twenty persons, and Appledore had not an inhabitant upon it. Reuben said that there was a time, more than a hundred years before the Revolutionary War, when the town of Gosport, which included all the islands, contained from three hundred to six hundred inhabitants. Miss De Severn wished that they had time to read some old preserved records of that place, which were now to be seen at the hotel.
As they came out of the church, Reuben spied the weather-vane, in the form of a fish, which crowned the little wooden tower, in which was the bell, still used, although rather dismal in sound.
As they wandered on, Mrs. Tracy noticed that the march of improvement had torn down most of the old fishing-houses, as well as the little old school-house, which she knew had once been there. They soon came upon the old burial-ground among the rocks, where they found inscribed on two horizontal slabs the only two inscriptions which were there. On one they saw this tribute:—
IN MEMORY OF THE REV. JOSIAH STEPHENS, A FAITHFUL INSTRUCTOR OF YOUTH, AND PIOUS MINISTER OF JESUS CHRIST, SUPPORTED ON THIS ISLAND BY THE SOCIETY FOR PROPAGATING THE GOSPEL, WHO DIED JULY 2, 1804. AGED 64 YEARS. —————- LIKEWISE OF MRS. SUSANNAH STEPHENS, HIS BELOVED WIFE, WHO DIED DEC. 7, 1810. AGED 64 YEARS.
and, on the other, this high eulogy:—
UNDERNEATH ARE THE REMAINS OF THE REV. JOHN TUCKE, A.M., HE GRADUATED AT HARVARD COLLEGE, A.D. 1723; WAS ORDAINED HERE JULY 26, 1732. AND DIED AUG. 12, 1773. AET 72. HE WAS AFFABLE AND POLITE IN HIS MANNER, AMIABLE IN HIS DISPOSITION, OF GREAT PIETY AND INTEGRITY, GIVEN TO HOSPITALITY, DILIGENT AND FAITHFUL IN HIS PASTORAL OFFICE, WELL LEARNED IN HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY, AS WELL AS GENERAL SCIENCE, AND A CAREFUL PHYSICIAN BOTH TO THE BODIES AND THE SOULS OF HIS PEOPLE. ERECTED 1800. IN MEMORY OF THE JUST.
Miss De Severn bowed reverently in honor of such lives having been lived in the midst of the ignorance and corruption which she knew to have then pervaded the islands.
From this rocky burial-ground they wended their way to the three-sided monument, enclosed within a railing, which was on one of the highest rocks on the island. Frank remembered that it was erected in 1864, in honor of Captain John Smith, one of the first explorers of the islands; but as he was ignorant of the meaning of the Turk's head on its top—the one left of the three which were once there—Mrs. Tracy told him and Reuben about Smith's successful encounter with the three Turks, as well as some other tales pertaining to his brave exploits, after which they read on the sides of the monument the words inscribed in his honor.
As they stopped to gaze around them for a moment, they saw, a little more than half a mile off, Haley's (or Smutty Nose) Island, with its few black houses, prominent among which was the one stained by an awful tragedy. Mrs. Tracy hoped that it would soon be taken down, for it was too suggestive of terror and wickedness to be always in sight of those seeking rest and peace on the islands. Reuben said that Smutty Nose was the most verdant of all the islands, and the one the earliest settled; while Duck Island, three miles away, was noted for its game. He also remembered, much to his mother's surprise, that Cedar Island was only three eighths of a mile distant, and Londoner not a quarter of a mile away. When Frank added that Appledore was seven eighths of a mile off, and White Island nearly two miles distant, Reuben, not to be outdone by him, said that Star Island was three quarters of a mile long, and half a mile wide, while Appledore was a mile long. They would have gone on till all their knowledge had been told, if Mrs. Tracy had not suggested that they continue their walk over the rocks which gave Star Island its natural grandeur. They would have liked to have remained there all of the afternoon, to have enjoyed the waves as they dashed up over the rocks; but they only stopped long enough to find Miss Underhill's Chair, the name of a large rock, on which Frank read aloud an inscription stating the fact, that, in 1848, on that spot, Miss Underhill, a loved missionary teacher, was sitting, when a great wave came and washed her away. Miss De Severn said that her body was found a week later at York Beach, where the tide had left it.
On their way back to the hotel they noticed some willows and wild roses, enclosed in a wooden fence, wherein Mrs. Tracy said would be found the graves of three little children of a missionary who once lived upon the island; whereupon the boys searched until they found the three following inscriptions: "Jessie," two years, "Millie," four years, and "Mittie," seven years old. Under the name of Mittie they said was inscribed: "I don't want to die, but I'll do just as Jesus wants me to."
Mrs. Tracy found herself looking back tenderly to this sacred spot, as she followed the boys to the other side of the Oceanic to see the ruins of the old Fort, which Reuben said had been useful before the Revolutionary War.
On their way to the steamer, which was to leave in a few minutes, they stepped into a small graveyard of dark stones, of which Mrs. Tracy said all but one were inscribed with the name of Caswell.
Soon they were on the steamer, bound for Portsmouth, then on the cars for Salem, where they arrived home in time for supper. They had seen what they went to see, and Reuben now very well knew what an island was. Hereafter, geography and history would be more real to him. On the following Monday, Frank was telling in his home all that he had seen, thus inspiring a larger circle with a desire to see and to know, and Rueben was in his schoolroom ready to begin another year's school work. His teacher was glad to see that he certainly would be a more interesting pupil for his intelligent vacation rambles, and silently wished that more mothers would do what his mother has done.
As for Mrs. Tracy, she not only decided to interest herself in the studies of her boy more than she had done in the past, but she determined to prepare the way for some little historic excursion for every vacation which her son should have. Another summer should bring Concord, surely, and perhaps Plymouth too.