The Project Gutenberg EBook of Grandfather's Chair, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Title: Grandfather's Chair

Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne

Release Date: October 5, 2008 [EBook #1926]
Last Updated: December 15, 2016

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by An Anonymous Volunteer, and David Widger



By Nathaniel Hawthorne




PART I. 1620-1692.













PART II. 1692-1763.












PART III. 1763-1803.














IN writing this ponderous tome, the author’s desire has been to describe the eminent characters and remarkable events of our annals in such a form and style that the YOUNG may make acquaintance with them of their own accord. For this purpose, while ostensibly relating the adventures of a chair, he has endeavored to keep a distinct and unbroken thread of authentic history. The chair is made to pass from one to another of those personages of whom he thought it most desirable for the young reader to have vivid and familiar ideas, and whose lives and actions would best enable him to give picturesque sketches of the times. On its sturdy oaken legs it trudges diligently from one scene to another, and seems always to thrust itself in the way, with most benign complacency, whenever an historical personage happens to be looking round for a seat.

There is certainly no method by which the shadowy outlines of departed men and women can be made to assume the hues of life more effectually than by connecting their images with the substantial and homely reality of a fireside chair. It causes us to feel at once that these characters of history had a private and familiar existence, and were not wholly contained within that cold array of outward action which we are compelled to receive as the adequate representation of their lives. If this impression can be given, much is accomplished.

Setting aside Grandfather and his auditors, and excepting the adventures of the chair, which form the machinery of the work, nothing in the ensuing pages can be termed fictitious. The author, it is true, has sometimes assumed the license of filling up the outline of history with details for which he has none but imaginative authority, but which, he hopes, do not violate nor give a false coloring to the truth. He believes that, in this respect, his narrative will not be found to convey ideas and impressions of which the reader may hereafter find it necessary to purge his mind.

The author’s great doubt is, whether he has succeeded in writing a book which will be readable by the class for whom he intends it. To make a lively and entertaining narrative for children, with such unmalleable material as is presented by the sombre, stern, and rigid characteristics of the Puritans and their descendants, is quite as difficult an attempt as to manufacture delicate playthings out of the granite, rocks on which New England is founded.


PART I. 1620-1692.


GRANDFATHER had been sitting in his old arm-chair all that pleasant afternoon, while the children were pursuing their various sports far off or near at hand, Sometimes you would have said, “Grandfather is asleep;” hut still, even when his eyes were closed, his thoughts were with the young people, playing among the flowers and shrubbery of the garden.

He heard the voice of Laurence, who had taken possession of a heap of decayed branches which the gardener had lopped from the fruit-trees, and was building a little hut for his cousin Clara and himself. He heard Clara’s gladsome voice, too, as she weeded and watered the flower-bed which had been given her for her own. He could have counted every footstep that Charley took, as he trundled his wheelbarrow along the gravel-walk. And though’ Grandfather was old and gray-haired, yet his heart leaped with joy whenever little Alice came fluttering, like a butterfly, into the room. Sire had made each of the children her playmate in turn, and now made Grandfather her playmate too, and thought him the merriest of them all.

At last the children grew weary of their sports, because a summer afternoon is like a long lifetime to the young. So they came into the room together, and clustered round Grandfather’s great chair. Little Alice, who was hardly five years old, took the privilege of the youngest, and climbed his knee. It was a pleasant thing to behold that fair and golden-haired child in the lap of the old man, and to think that, different as they were, the hearts of both could be gladdened with the same joys.

“Grandfather,” said little Alice, laying her head back upon his arm, “I am very tired now. You must tell me a story to make me go to sleep.”

“That is not what story-tellers like,” answered Grandfather, smiling. “They are better satisfied when they can keep their auditors awake.”

“But here are Laurence, and Charley, and I,” cried cousin Clara, who was twice as old as little Alice. “We will all three keep wide awake. And pray, Grandfather, tell us a story about this strange-looking old chair.”

Now, the chair in which Grandfather sat was made of oak, which had grown dark with age, but had been rubbed and polished till it shone as bright as mahogany. It was very large and heavy, and had a back that rose high above Grandfather’s white head. This back was curiously carved in open work, so as to represent flowers, and foliage, and other devices, which the children had often gazed at, but could never understand what they meant. On the very tip-top of the chair, over the head of Grandfather himself, was a likeness of a lion’s head, which had such a savage grin that you would almost expect to hear it growl and snarl.

The children had seen Grandfather sitting in this chair ever since they could remember anything. Perhaps the younger of them supposed that he and the chair had come into the world together, and that both had always been as old as they were now. At this time, however, it happened to be the fashion for ladies to adorn their drawing-rooms with the oldest and oddest chairs that could be found. It seemed to cousin Clara that, if these ladies could have seen Grandfather’s old chair, they would have thought it worth all the rest together. She wondered if it were not even older than Grandfather himself, and longed to know all about its history.

“Do, Grandfather, talk to us about this chair,” she repeated.

“Well, child,” said Grandfather, patting Clara’s cheek, “I can tell you a great many stories of my chair. Perhaps your cousin Laurence would like to hear them too. They would teach him something about the history and distinguished people of his country which he has never read in any of his schoolbooks.”

Cousin Laurence was a boy of twelve, a bright scholar, in whom an early thoughtfulness and sensibility began to show themselves. His young fancy kindled at the idea of knowing all the adventures of this venerable chair. He looked eagerly in Grandfather’s face; and even Charley, a bold, brisk, restless little fellow of nine, sat himself down on the carpet, and resolved to be quiet for at least ten minutes, should the story last so long.

Meantime, little Alice was already asleep; so Grandfather, being much pleased with such an attentive audience, began to talk about matters that happened long ago.


BUT before relating the adventures of the chairs found it necessary to speak of circumstances that caused the first settlement of New England. For it will soon be perceived that the story of this remarkable chair cannot be told without telling a great deal of the history of the country.

So Grandfather talked about the Puritans, {Foot Note: It is more precise to give the name of Pilgrims to those Englishmen who went to Holland and afterward to Plymouth. They were sometimes called Separatists because they separated themselves from the church of England, sometimes Brownists after the name of one of their eminent ministers. The Puritans formed a great political as well as religious party in England, and did not at first separate themselves from the church of England, though those who came to this country did so at once.} as those persons were called who thought it sinful to practise certain religious forms and ceremonies of the Church of England. These Puritans suffered so much persecuted in England that, in 1607, many of them went over to Holland, and lived ten or twelve years at Amsterdam and Leyden. But they feared that, if they continued there much longer, they should cease to be England, and should adopt all the manners, and ideas, and feelings of the Dutch. For this and other reasons, in the year 1620 they embarked on board the ship Mayflower, and crossed the ocean, to the shores of Cape Cod. There they made a settlement, and called it Plymouth, which, though now a part of Massachusetts, was for a long time a colony by itself. And thus was formed the earliest settlement of the Puritans in America.

Meantime, those of the Puritans who remained in England continued to suffer grievous persecution on account of their religious opinions. They began to look around them for some spot where they might worship God, not as the king and bishops thought fit, but according to the dictates of their own consciences. When their brethren had gone from Holland to America, they bethought themselves that they likewise might find refuge from persecution there. Several gentlemen among them purchased a tract of country on the coast of Massachusetts Bay, and obtained a charter from King Charles, which authorized them to make laws for the settlers. In the year 1628 they sent over a few people, with John Endicott at their bead, to commence a plantation at Salem. {Foot Note: The Puritans had a liking for Biblical names for their children, and they sometimes gave names out of the Bible to places, Salem means Peace. The Indian name was Naumkeag.} Peter Palfrey, Roger Conant, and one or two more had built houses there in 1626, and may be considered as the first settlers of that ancient town. Many other Puritans prepared to follow Endicott.

“And now we come to the chair, my dear children,” said Grandfather. “This chair is supposed to have been made of an oak-tree which grew in the park of the English Earl of Lincoln between two and three centuries ago. In its younger days it used, probably, to stand in the hall of the earl’s castle. Do not you see the coat of arms of the family of Lincoln carved in the open work of the back? But when his daughter, the Lady Arbella, was married to a certain Mr. Johnson, the earl gave her this valuable chair.”

“Who was Mr. Johnson?” inquired Clara.

“He was a gentleman of great wealth, who agreed with the Puritans in their religious opinions,” answered Grandfather. “And as his belief was the same as theirs, he resolved that he would live and die with them. Accordingly, in the month of April, 1630, he left his pleasant abode and all his comforts in England, and embarked, with Lady Arbella, on board of a ship bound for America.”

As Grandfather was frequently impeded by the questions and observations of his young auditors, we deem it advisable to omit all such prattle as is not essential to the story. We have taken some pains to find out exactly what Grandfather said, and here offer to our readers, as nearly as possible in his own words, the story of the Lady Arbella.

The ship in which Mr. Johnson and his lady embarked, taking Grandfather’s chair along with them, was called the Arbella, in honor of the lady herself. A fleet of ten or twelve vessels, with many hundred passengers, left England about the same time; for a multitude of people, who were discontented with the king’s government and oppressed by the bishops, were flocking over to the New World. One of the vessels in the fleet was that same Mayflower which had carried the Puritan Pilgrims to Plymouth. And now, my children, I would have you fancy yourselves in the cabin of the good ship Arbella; because, if you could behold the passengers aboard that vessel, you would feel what a blessing and honor it was for New England to have such settlers. They were the best men and women of their day.

Among the passengers was John Winthrop, who had sold the estate of his forefathers, and was going to prepare a new home for his wife and children in the wilderness. He had the king’s charter in his keeping, and was appointed the first governor of Massachusetts. Imagine him a person of grave and benevolent aspect, dressed in a black velvet suit, with a broad ruff around his neck, and a peaked beard upon his chin. {Foot Note: There is a statue representing John Winthrop in Scollay Square in Boston. He holds the charter in his hand, and a Bible is under his arm.} There was likewise a minister of the gospel whom the English bishops had forbidden to preach, but who knew that he should have liberty both to preach and pray in the forests of America. He wore a black cloak, called a Geneva cloak, and had a black velvet cap, fitting close to his head, as was the fashion of almost all the Puritan clergymen. In their company came Sir Richard Saltonstall, who had been one of the five first projectors of the new colony. He soon returned to his native country. But his descendants still remain in New England; and the good old family name is as much respected in our days as it was in those of Sir Richard.

Not only these, but several other men of wealth and pious ministers were in the cabin of the Arbella. One had banished himself forever from the old hall where his ancestors had lived for hundreds of years. Another had left his quiet parsonage, in a country town of England. Others had come from the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge, where they had gained great fame for their learning. And here they all were, tossing upon the uncertain and dangerous sea, and bound for a home that was more dangerous than even the sea itself. In the cabin, likewise, sat the Lady Arbella in her chair, with a gentle and sweet expression on her face, but looking too pale and feeble to endure the hardships of the wilderness.

Every morning and evening the Lady Arbella gave up her great chair to one of the ministers, who took his place in it and read passages from the Bible to his companions. And thus, with prayers, and pious conversation, and frequent singing of hymns, which the breezes caught from their lips and scattered far over the desolate waves, they prosecuted their voyage, and sailed into the harbor of Salem in the month of June.

At that period there were but six or eight dwellings in the town; and these were miserable hovels, with roofs of straw and wooden chimneys. The passengers in the fleet either built huts with bark and branches of trees, or erected tents of cloth till they could provide themselves with better shelter. Many of them went to form a settlement at Charlestown. It was thought fit that the Lady Arbella should tarry in Salem for a time; she was probably received as a guest into the family of John Endicott. He was the chief person in the plantation, and had the only comfortable house which the new-comers had beheld since they left England. So now, children, you must imagine Grandfather’s chair in the midst of a new scene.

Suppose it a hot summer’s day, and the lattice-windows of a chamber in Mr. Endicott’s house thrown wide open. The Lady Arbella, looking paler than she did on shipboard, is sitting in her chair, and thinking mournfully of far-off England. She rises and goes to the window. There, amid patches Of garden ground and cornfield, she sees the few wretched hovels of the settlers, with the still ruder wigwams and cloth tents of the passengers who had arrived in the same fleet with herself. Far and near stretches the dismal forest of pine-trees, which throw their black shadows over the whole land, and likewise over the heart of this poor lady.

All the inhabitants of the little village are busy. One is clearing a spot on the verge of the forest for his homestead; another is hewing the trunk of a fallen pine-tree, in order to build himself a dwelling; a third is hoeing in his field of Indian corn. Here comes a huntsman out of the woods, dragging a bear which he has shot, and shouting to the neighbors to lend him a hand. There goes a man to the sea-shore, with a spade and a bucket, to dig a mess of clams, which were a principal article of food with the first settlers. Scattered here and there are two or three dusky figures, clad in mantles of fur, with ornaments of bone hanging from their ears, and the feathers of wild birds in their coal-black hair. They have belts of shellwork slung across their shoulders, and are armed with bows and arrows, and flint-headed spears. These are an Indian sagamore and his attendants, who have come to gaze at the labors of the white men. And now rises a cry that a pack of wolves have seized a young calf in the pasture; and every man snatches up his gun or pike and runs in chase of the marauding beasts.

Poor Lady Arbella watches all these sights, and feels that this New World is fit only for rough and hardy people. None should be here but those who can struggle with wild beasts and wild men, and can toil in the heat or cold, and can keep their hearts firm against all difficulties and dangers. But she is not of these. Her gentle and timid spirit sinks within her; and, turning away from the window, she sits down in the great chair and wonders whereabouts in the wilderness her friends will dig her grave.

Mr. Johnson had gone, with Governor Winthrop and most of the other passengers, to Boston, where he intended to build a house for Lady Arbella and himself. Boston was then covered with wild woods, and had fewer inhabitants, even, than Salem. During her husband’s absence, poor Lady Arbella felt herself growing ill, and was hardly able to stir from the great chair. Whenever John Endicott noticed her despondency he doubtless addressed her with words of comfort. “Cheer up, my good lady!” he would say.

“In a little time you will love this rude life of the wilderness as I do.” But Endicott’s heart was as bold and resolute as iron, and he could not understand why a woman’s heart should not be of iron too.

Still, however, he spoke kindly to the lady, and then hastened forth to till his cornfield and set out fruit-trees, or to bargain with the Indians for furs, or perchance to oversee the building of a fort. Also, being a magistrate, he had often to punish some idler or evil doer, by ordering him to be set in the stocks or scourged at the whipping-post. Often, too, as was the custom of the times, he and Mr. Higginson, the minister of Salem, held long religious talks together. Thus John Endicott was a man of multifarious business, and had no time to look back regretfully to his native land. He felt himself fit for the New World and for the work that he had to do, and set himself resolutely to accomplish it.

What a contrast, my dear children, between this bold, rough, active man, and the gentle Lady Arbella, who was fading away, like a pale English flower, in the shadow of the forest! And now the great chair was often empty, because Lady Arbella grew too weak to arise from bed.

Meantime, her husband had pitched upon a spot for their new home. He returned from Boston to Salem, travelling through the woods on foot, and leaning on his pilgrim’s staff. His heart yearned within him; for he was eager to tell his wife of the new home which he had chosen. But when he beheld her pale and hollow cheek, and found how her strength was wasted, he must have known that her appointed home was in a better land. Happy for him then—happy both for him and her—if they remembered that there was a path to heaven, as well from this heathen wilderness as from the Christian land whence they had come. And so, in one short month from her arrival, the gentle Lady Arbella faded away and died. They dug a grave for her in the new soil, where the roots of the pine-trees impeded their spades; and when her bones had rested there nearly two hundred years, and a city had sprung up around them, a church of stone was built upon the spot.

Charley, almost at the commencement of the foregoing narrative, had galloped away, with a prodigious clatter, upon Grandfather’s stick, and was not yet returned. So large a boy should have been ashamed to ride upon a stick. But Laurence and Clara had listened attentively, and were affected by this true story of the gentle lady who had come so far to die so soon. Grandfather had supposed that little Alice was asleep; but towards the close of the story, happening to look down upon her, he saw that her blue eyes were wide open, and fixed earnestly upon his face. The tears had gathered in them, like dew upon a delicate flower; but when Grandfather ceased to speak, the sunshine of her smile broke forth again.

“Oh, the lady must have been so glad to get to heaven!” exclaimed little Alice. “Grandfather, what became of Mr. Johnson?” asked Clara.

“His heart appears to have been quite broken,” answered Grandfather; “for he died at Boston within a month after the death of his wife. He was buried in the very same tract of ground where he had intended to build a dwelling for Lady Arbella and himself. Where their house would have stood, there was his grave.”

“I never heard anything so melancholy,” said Clara.

“The people loved and respected Mr. Johnson so much,” continued Grandfather, “that it was the last request of many of them, when they died, that they might be buried as near as possible to this good man’s grave. And so the field became the first burial ground in Boston. When you pass through Tremont Street, along by King’s Chapel, you see a burial-ground, containing many old grave-stones and monuments. That was Mr. Johnson’s field.”

“How sad is the thought,” observed Clara, “that one of the first things which the settlers had to do, when they came to the New World, was to set apart a burial-ground!”

“Perhaps,” said Laurence, “if they had found no need of burial-grounds here, they would have been glad, after a few years, to go back to England.”

Grandfather looked at Laurence, to discover whether he knew how profound and true a thing he had said.


NOT long after Grandfather had told the story of his great chair, there chanced to be a rainy day. Our friend Charley, after disturbing the household with beat of drum and riotous shouts, races up and down the staircase, overturning of chairs, and much other uproar, began to feel the quiet and confinement within doors intolerable. But as the rain came down in a flood, the little fellow was hopelessly a prisoner, and now stood with sullen aspect at a window, wondering whether the sun itself were not extinguished by so much moisture in the sky.

Charley had already exhausted the less eager activity of the other children; and they had betaken themselves to occupations that did not admit of his companionship. Laurence sat in a recess near the book-ease, reading, not for the first time, the Midsummer Night’s Dream. Clara was making a rosary of beads for a little figure of a Sister of Charity, who was to attend the Bunker Hill fair and lend her aid in erecting the Monument. Little Alice sat on Grandfather’s footstool, with a picture-book in her hand; and, for every picture, the child was telling Grandfather a story. She did not read from the book (for little Alice had not much skill in reading), but told the story out of her own heart and mind.

Charley was too big a boy, of course, to care anything about little Alice’s stories, although Grandfather appeared to listen with a good deal of interest. Often in a young child’s ideas and fancies, there, is something which it requires the thought of a lifetime to comprehend. But Charley was of opinion that, if a story must be told, it had better be told by Grandfather than little Alice.

“Grandfather, I want to hear more about your chair,” said he.

Now, Grandfather remembered that Charley had galloped away upon a stick in the midst of the narrative of poor Lady Arbella, and I know not whether he would have thought it worth while to tell another story merely to gratify such an inattentive auditor as Charley. But Laurence laid down his book and seconded the request. Clara drew her chair nearer to Grandfather; and little Alice immediately closed her picture-book and looked up into his face. Grandfather had not the heart to disappoint them.

He mentioned several persons who had a share in the settlement of our country, and who would be well worthy of remembrance, if we could find room to tell about them all. Among the rest, Grandfather spoke of the famous Hugh Peters, a minister of the gospel, who did much good to the inhabitants of Salem. Mr. Peters afterwards went back to England, and was chaplain to Oliver Cromwell; but Grandfather did not tell the children what became of this upright and zealous man at last. In fact, his auditors were growing impatient to hear more about the history of the chair.

“After the death of Mr. Johnson,” said he, “Grandfather’s chair came into the possession of Roger Williams. He was a clergyman, who arrived at Salem, and settled there in 1631. Doubtless the good man has spent many a studious hour in this old chair, either penning a sermon or reading some abstruse book of theology, till midnight came upon him unawares. At that period, as there were few lamps or candles to be had, people used to read or work by the light of pitch-pine torches. These supplied the place of the ‘midnight oil’ to the learned men of New England.”

Grandfather went on to talk about Roger Williams, and told the children several particulars, which we have not room to repeat.


“ROGER WILLIAMS,” said Grandfather, “did not keep possession of the chair a great while. His opinions of civil and religious matters differed, in many respects, from those of the rulers and clergymen of Massachusetts. Now, the wise men of those days believed that the country could not be safe unless all the inhabitants thought and felt alike.”

“Does anybody believe so in our days, Grandfather?” asked Lawrence.

“Possibly there are some who believe it,” said Grandfather; “but they have not so much power to act upon their belief as the magistrates and ministers had in the days of Roger Williams. They had the power to deprive this good man of his home, and to send him out from the midst of them in search of a new place of rest. He was banished in 1634, and went first to Plymouth colony; but as the people there held the same opinions as those of Massachusetts, he was not suffered to remain among them. However, the wilderness was wide enough; so Roger Williams took his staff and travelled into the forest and made treaties with the Indians, and began a plantation which he called Providence.”

“I have been to Providence on the railroad,” said Charley. “It is but a two-hours’ ride.”

“Yes, Charley,” replied Grandfather; “but when Roger Williams travelled thither, over hills and valleys, and through the tangled woods, and across swamps and streams, it was a journey of several days. Well, his little plantation has now grown to be a populous city; and the inhabitants have a great veneration for Roger Williams. His name is familiar in the mouths of all, because they see it on their bank-bills. How it would have perplexed this good clergyman if he had been told that he should give his name to the ROGER WILLIAMS BANK!”

“When he was driven from Massachusetts,” said Lawrence, “and began his journey into the woods, he must have felt as if he were burying himself forever from the sight and knowledge of men. Yet the whole country has now heard of him, and will remember him forever.”

“Yes,” answered Grandfather; “it often happens that the outcasts of one generation are those who are reverenced as the wisest and best of men by the next. The securest fame is that which comes after a man’s death. But let us return to our story. When Roger Williams was banished, he appears to have given the chair to Mrs. Anne Hutchinson. At all events, it was in her possession in 1687. She was a very sharp-witted and well-instructed lady, and was so conscious of her own wisdom and abilities that she thought it a pity that the world should not have the benefit of them. She therefore used to hold lectures in Boston once or twice a week, at which most of the women attended. Mrs. Hutchinson presided at these meetings, sitting with great state and dignity in Grandfather’s chair.”

“Grandfather, was it positively this very chair?” demanded Clara, laying her hand upon its carved elbow.

“Why not, my dear Clara?” said Grandfather. “Well, Mrs. Hutchinson’s lectures soon caused a great disturbance; for the ministers of Boston did not think it safe and proper that a woman should publicly instruct the people in religious doctrines. Moreover, she made the matter worse by declaring that the Rev. Mr. Cotton was the only sincerely pious and holy clergyman in New England. Now, the clergy of those days had quite as much share in the government of the country, though indirectly, as the magistrates themselves; so you may imagine what a host of powerful enemies were raised up against Mrs. Hutchinson. A synod was convened; that is to say, an assemblage of all the ministers in Massachusetts. They declared that there were eighty-two erroneous opinions on religious subjects diffused among the people, and that Mrs. Hutchinson’s opinions were of the number.”

“If they had eighty-two wrong opinions,” observed Charley, “I don’t see how they could have any right ones.”

“Mrs. Hutchinson had many zealous friends and converts,” continued Grandfather. “She was favored by young Henry Vane, who had come over from England a year or two before, and had since been chosen governor of the colony, at the age of twenty-four. But Winthrop and most of the other leading men, as well as the ministers, felt an abhorrence of her doctrines. Thus two opposite parties were formed; and so fierce were the dissensions that it was feared the consequence would be civil war and bloodshed. But Winthrop and the ministers being the most powerful, they disarmed and imprisoned Mrs. Hutchinson’s adherents. She, like Roger Williams, was banished.”

“Dear Grandfather, did they drive the poor woman into the woods?” exclaimed little Alice, who contrived to feel a human interest even in these discords of polemic divinity.

“They did, my darling,” replied Grandfather; “and the end of her life was so sad you must not hear it. At her departure, it appears, from the best authorities, that she gave the great Chair to her friend Henry Vane. He was a young man of wonderful talents and great learning, who had imbibed the religious opinions of the Puritans, and left England with the intention of spending his life in Massachusetts. The people chose him governor; but the controversy about Mrs. Hutchinson, and other troubles, caused him to leave country in 1637. You may read the subsequent events of his life in the History of England.”

“Yes, Grandfather,” cried Laurence; “and we may read them better in Mr. Upham’s biography of Vane. And what a beautiful death he died, long afterwards! beautiful, though it was on a scaffold.”

“Many of the most beautiful deaths have been there,” said Grandfather. “The enemies of a great and good man can in no other way make him so glorious as by giving him the crown of martyrdom.”

In order that the children might fully understand the all-important history of the chair, Grandfather now thought fit to speak of the progress that was made in settling several colonies. The settlement of Plymouth, in 1620, has already been mentioned. In 1635 Mr. Hooker and Mr. Stone, two ministers, went on foot from Massachusetts to Connecticut, through the pathless woods, taking their whole congregation along with them. They founded the town of Hartford. In 1638 Mr. Davenport, a very celebrated minister, went, with other people, and began a plantation at New Haven. In the same year, some persons who had been persecuted in Massachusetts went to the Isle of Rhodes, since called Rhode Island, and settled there. About this time, also, many settlers had gone to Maine, and were living without any regular government. There were likewise settlers near Piscataqua River, in the region which is now called New Hampshire.

Thus, at various points along the coast of New England, there were communities of Englishmen. Though these communities were independent of one another, yet they had a common dependence upon England; and, at so vast a distance from their native home, the inhabitants must all have felt like brethren. They were fitted to become one united People at a future period. Perhaps their feelings of brotherhood were the stronger because different nations had formed settlements to the north and to the south. In Canada and Nova Scotia were colonies of French. On the banks of the Hudson River was a colony of Dutch, who had taken possession of that region many years before, and called it New Netherlands.

Grandfather, for aught I know, might have gone on to speak of Maryland and Virginia; for the good old gentleman really seemed to suppose that the whole surface of the United States was not too broad a foundation to place the four legs of his chair upon. But, happening to glance at Charley, he perceived that this naughty boy was growing impatient and meditating another ride upon a stick. So here, for the present, Grandfather suspended the history of his chair.


The children had now learned to look upon the chair with an interest which was almost the same as if it were a conscious being, and could remember the many famous people whom it had held within its arms.

Even Charley, lawless as he was, seemed to feel that this venerable chair must not be clambered upon nor overturned, although he had no scruple in taking such liberties With every other chair in the house. Clara treated it with still greater reverence, often taking occasion to smooth its cushion, and to brush the dust from the carved flowers and grotesque figures of its oaken back and arms. Laurence would sometimes sit a whole hour, especially at twilight, gazing at the chair, and, by the spell of his imaginations, summoning up its ancient occupants to appear in it again.

Little Alice evidently employed herself in a similar way; for once when Grandfather had gone abroad, the child was heard talking with the gentle Lady Arbella, as if she were still sitting in the chair. So sweet a child as little Alice may fitly talk with angels, such as the Lady Arbella had long since become.

Grandfather was soon importuned for more stories about the chair. He had no difficulty in relating them; for it really seemed as if every person noted in our early history had, on some occasion or other, found repose within its comfortable arms. If Grandfather took pride in anything, it was in being the possessor of such an honorable and historic elbow-chair.

“I know not precisely who next got possession of the chair after Governor Vane went back to England,” said Grandfather. “But there is reason to believe that President Dunster sat in it, when he held the first Commencement at Harvard College. You have often heard, children, how careful our forefathers were to give their young people a good education. They had scarcely cut down trees enough to make room for their own dwellings before they began to think of establishing a college. Their principal object was, to rear up pious and learned ministers; and hence old writers call Harvard College a school of the prophets.”

“Is the college a school of the prophets now?” asked Charley.

“It is a long while since I took my degree, Charley. You must ask some of the recent graduates,” answered Grandfather. “As I was telling you, President Dunster sat in Grandfather’s chair in 1642, when he conferred the degree of bachelor of arts on nine young men. They were the first in America who had received that honor. And now, my dear auditors, I must confess that there are contradictory statements and some uncertainty about the adventures of the chair for a period of almost ten years. Some say that it was occupied by your own ancestor, William Hawthorne, first speaker of the House of Representatives. I have nearly satisfied myself, however, that, during most of this questionable period, it was literally the chair of state. It gives me much pleasure to imagine that several successive governors of Massachusetts sat in it at the council board.”

“But, Grandfather,” interposed Charley, who was a matter-of-fact little person, “what reason have you, to imagine so?”

“Pray do imagine it, Grandfather,” said Laurence.

“With Charley’s permission, I will,” replied Grandfather, smiling. “Let us consider it settled, therefore, that Winthrop, Bellingham, Dudley, and Endicott, each of them, when chosen governor, took his seat in our great chair on election day. In this chair, likewise, did those excellent governors preside while holding consultations with the chief councillors of the province, who were styled assistants. The governor sat in this chair, too, whenever messages were brought to him from the chamber of representatives.”

And here Grandfather took occasion to talk rather tediously about the nature and forms of government that established themselves, almost spontaneously, in Massachusetts and the other New England colonies. Democracies were the natural growth of the New World. As to Massachusetts, it was at first intended that the colony should be governed by a council in London. But in a little while the people had the whole power in their own hands, and chose annually the governor, the councillors, and the representatives. The people of Old England had never enjoyed anything like the liberties and privileges which the settlers of New England now possessed. And they did not adopt these modes of government after long study, but in simplicity, as if there were no other way for people to be ruled.

“But, Laurence,” continued Grandfather, “when you want instruction on these points, you must seek it in Mr. Bancroft’s History. I am merely telling the history of a chair. To proceed. The period during which the governors sat in our chair was not very full of striking incidents. The province was now established on a secure foundation; but it did not increase so rapidly as at first, because the Puritans were no longer driven from England by persecution. However, there was still a quiet and natural growth. The Legislature incorporated towns, and made new purchases of lands from the Indians. A very memorable event took place in 1643. The colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven formed a union, for the purpose of assisting each other in difficulties, for mutual defence against their enemies. They called themselves the United Colonies of New England.”

“Were they under a government like that of the United States?” inquired Laurence.

“No,” replied Grandfather; “the different colonies did not compose one nation together; it was merely a confederacy among the governments: It somewhat resembled the league of the Amphictyons, which you remember in Grecian history. But to return to our chair. In 1644 it was highly honored; for Governor Endicott sat in it when he gave audience to an ambassador from the French governor of Acadia, or Nova Scotia. A treaty of peace between Massachusetts and the French colony was then signed.”

“Did England allow Massachusetts to make war and peace with foreign countries?” asked Laurence.

“Massachusetts and the whole of New England was then almost independent of the mother country,” said Grandfather. “There was now a civil war in England; and the king, as you may well suppose, had his hands full at home, and could pay but little attention to these remote colonies. When the Parliament got the power into their hands, they likewise had enough to do in keeping down the Cavaliers. Thus New England, like a young and hardy lad whose father and mother neglect it, was left to take care of itself. In 1649 King Charles was beheaded. Oliver Cromwell then became Protector of England; and as he was a Puritan himself, and had risen by the valor of the English Puritans, he showed himself a loving and indulgent father to the Puritan colonies in America.”

Grandfather might have continued to talk in this dull manner nobody knows how long; but suspecting that Charley would find the subject rather dry, he looked sidewise at that vivacious little fellow, and saw him give an involuntary yawn. Whereupon Grandfather proceeded with the history of the chair, and related a very entertaining incident, which will be found in the next chapter.


“ACCORDING to the most authentic records, my dear children,” said Grandfather, “the chair, about this time, had the misfortune to break its leg. It was probably on account of this accident that it ceased to be the seat of the governors of Massachusetts; for, assuredly, it would have been ominous of evil to the commonwealth if the chair of state had tottered upon three legs. Being therefore sold at auction,—alas I what a vicissitude for a chair that had figured in such high company!—our venerable friend was knocked down to a certain Captain John Hull. This old gentleman, on carefully examining the maimed chair, discovered that its broken leg might be clamped with iron and made as serviceable as ever.”

“Here is the very leg that was broken!” exclaimed Charley, throwing himself down on the floor to look at it. “And here are the iron clamps. How well it was mended!”

When they had all sufficiently examined the broken leg, Grandfather told them a story about Captain John Hull and the Pine-tree Shillings.

The Captain John Hull aforesaid was the mint-master of Massachusetts, and coined all the money that was made there. This was a new line of business, for, in the earlier days of the colony, the current coinage consisted of gold and silver money of England, Portugal, and Spain. These coins being scarce, the people were often forced to barter their commodities instead of selling them.

For instance, if a man wanted to buy a coat, he perhaps exchanged a bear-skin for it. If he wished for a barrel of molasses, he might purchase it with a pile of pine boards. Musket-bullets were used instead of farthings. The Indians had a sort of money, called wampum, which was made of clam-shells; and this strange sort of specie was likewise taken in payment of debts by the English settlers. Bank-bills had never been heard of. There was not money enough of any kind, in many parts of the country, to pay the salaries of the ministers; so that they sometimes had to take quintals of fish, bushels of corn, or cords of wood, instead of silver or gold.

As the people grew more numerous, and their trade one with another increased, the want of current money was still more sensibly felt. To supply the demand, the General Court passed a law for establishing a coinage of shillings, sixpences, and threepences. Captain John Hull was appointed to manufacture this money, and was to have about one shilling out of every twenty to pay him for the trouble of making them.

Hereupon all the old silver in the colony was handed over to Captain John Hull. The battered silver cans and tankards, I suppose, and silver buckles, and broken spoons, and silver buttons of worn-out coats, and silver hilts of swords that had figured at court,—all such curious old articles were doubtless thrown into the melting-pot together. But by far the greater part of the silver consisted of bullion from the mines of South America, which the English buccaneers—who were little better than pirates—had taken from the Spaniards and brought to Massachusetts.

All this old and new silver being melted down and coined, the result was an immense amount of splendid shillings, sixpences, and threepences. Each had the date, 1652, on the one side, and the figure of a pine-tree on the other. Hence they were called pine-tree shillings. And for every twenty shillings that he coined, you will remember, Captain John Hull was entitled to put one shilling into his own pocket.

The magistrates soon began to suspect that the mint master would have the best of the bargain. They offered him a large sum of money if he would but give up that twentieth shilling which he was continually dropping into his own pocket. But Captain Hull declared himself perfectly satisfied with the shilling. And well he might be; for so diligently did he labor, that, in a few years, his pockets, his money-bags, and his strong box were overflowing with pine-tree shillings. This was probably the case when he came into possession of Grandfather’s chair; and, as he had worked so hard at the mint, it was certainly proper that he should have a comfortable chair to rest him self in.

When the mint-master had grown very rich, a young man, Samuel Sewall by name, came a-courting to his only daughter. His daughter—whose name I do not know, but we will call her Betsey—was a fine, hearty damsel, by no means so slender as some young ladies of our own days. On the contrary, having always fed heartily on pumpkin-pies, doughnuts, Indian puddings, and other Puritan dainties, she was as round and plump as a pudding herself. With this round, rosy Miss Betsey did Samuel Sewall fall in love. As he was a young man of good character, industrious in his business, and a member of the church, the mint-master very readily gave his consent.

“Yes, you may take her,” said he, in his rough way, “and you’ll find her a heavy burden enough!”

On the wedding day, we may suppose that honest John Hull dressed himself in a plum-colored coat, all the buttons of which were made of pine-tree shillings. The buttons of his waistcoat were sixpences; and the knees of his small-clothes were buttoned with silver threepences. Thus attired, he sat with great dignity in Grandfather’s chair; and, being a portly old gentleman, he completely filled it from elbow to elbow. On the opposite side of the room, between her bride-maids, sat Miss Betsey. She was blushing with all her might, and looked like a full-blown peony, or a great red apple.

There, too, was the bridegroom, dressed in a fine purple coat and gold-lace waistcoat, with as much other finery as the Puritan laws and customs would allow him to put on. His hair was cropped close to his head, because Governor Endicott had forbidden any man to wear it below the ears. But he was a very personable young man; and so thought the bridemaids and Miss Betsey herself.

The mint-master also was pleased with his new Son-in-law; especially as he had courted Miss Betsey out of pure love, and had said nothing at all about her portion. So, when the marriage ceremony was over, Captain Hull whispered a word to two of his men-servants, who immediately went out, and soon returned, lugging in a large pair of scales. They were such a pair as wholesale merchants use for weighing bulky commodities; and quite a bulky commodity was now to be weighed in them.

“Daughter Betsey,” said the mint-master, “get into one side of these scales.”

Miss Betsey—or Mrs. Sewall, as we must now call her—did as she was bid, like a dutiful child, without any question of the why and wherefore. But what her father could mean, unless to make her husband pay for her by the pound (in which case she would have been a dear bargain), she had not the least idea.

“And now,” said honest John Hull to the servants “bring that box hither.”

The box to which the mint-master pointed was a huge, square, iron-bound, oaken chest; it was big enough, my children, for all four of you to play at hide-and-seek in. The servants tugged with might and main, but could not lift this enormous receptacle, and were finally obliged to drag it across the floor. Captain Hull then took a key from his girdle, unlocked the chest, and lifted its ponderous lid. Behold! it was full to the brim of bright pine-tree shillings, fresh from the mint; and Samuel Sewall began to think that his father-in-law had got possession of all the money in the Massachusetts treasury. But it was only the mint-master’s honest share of the coinage.

Then the servants, at Captain Hull’s command, heaped double handfuls of shillings into one side of the scales, while Betsey remained in the other. Jingle, jingle, went the shillings, as handful after handful was thrown in, till, plump and ponderous as she was, they fairly weighed the young lady from the floor.

“There, son Sewall!” cried the honest mint-master, resuming his seat in Grandfather’s chair, “take these shillings for my daughter’s portion. Use her kindly, and thank Heaven for her. It is not every wife that’s worth her weight in silver!”

The children laughed heartily at this legend, and would hardly be convinced but that Grandfather had made it out of his own head. He assured them faithfully, however, that he had found it in the pages of a grave historian, and had merely tried to tell it in a somewhat funnier style. As for Samuel Sewall, he afterwards became chief justice of Massachusetts.

“Well, Grandfather,” remarked Clara, “if wedding portions nowadays were paid as Miss Betsey’s was, young ladies would not pride themselves upon an airy figure, as many of them do.”


WHEN his little audience next assembled round the chair, Grandfather gave them a doleful history of the Quaker persecution, which began in 1656, and raged for about three years in Massachusetts.

He told them how, in the first place, twelve of the converts of George Fox, the first Quaker in the world, had come over from England. They seemed to be impelled by an earnest love for the souls of men, and a pure desire to make known what they considered a revelation from Heaven. But the rulers looked upon them as plotting the downfall of all government and religion. They were banished from the colony. In a little while, however, not only the first twelve had returned, but a multitude of other Quakers had come to rebuke the rulers and to preach against the priests and steeple-houses.

Grandfather described the hatred and scorn with which these enthusiasts were received. They were thrown into dungeons; they were beaten with many stripes, women as well as men; they were driven forth into the wilderness, and left to the tender mercies of tender mercies of wild beasts and Indians. The children were amazed hear that the more the Quakers were scourged, and imprisoned, and banished, the more did the sect increase, both by the influx of strangers and by converts from among the Puritans, But Grandfather told them that God had put something into the soul of man, which always turned the cruelties of the persecutor to naught.

He went on to relate that, in 1659, two Quakers, named William Robinson and Marmaduke Stephenson, were hanged at Boston. A woman had been sentenced to die with them, but was reprieved on condition of her leaving the colony. Her name was Mary Dyer. In the year 1660 she returned to Boston, although she knew death awaited her there; and, if Grandfather had been correctly informed, an incident had then taken place which connects her with our story. This Mary Dyer had entered the mint-master’s dwelling, clothed in sackcloth and ashes, and seated herself in our great chair with a sort of dignity and state. Then she proceeded to deliver what she called a message from Heaven, but in the midst of it they dragged her to prison.

“And was she executed?” asked Laurence.

“She was,” said Grandfather.

“Grandfather,” cried Charley, clinching his fist, “I would have fought for that poor Quaker woman!”

“Ah, but if a sword had been drawn for her,” said Laurence, “it would have taken away all the beauty of her death.”

It seemed as if hardly any of the preceding stories had thrown such an interest around Grandfather’s chair as did the fact that the poor, persecuted, wandering Quaker woman had rested in it for a moment. The children were so much excited that Grandfather found it necessary to bring his account of the persecution to a close.

“In 1660, the same year in which Mary Dyer was executed,” said he, “Charles II. was restored to the throne of his fathers. This king had many vices; but he would not permit blood to be shed, under pretence of religion, in any part of his dominions. The Quakers in England told him what had been done to their brethren in Massachusetts; and he sent orders to Governor Endicott to forbear all such proceedings in future. And so ended the Quaker persecution,—one of the most mournful passages in the history of our forefathers.”

Grandfather then told his auditors, that, shortly after the above incident, the great chair had been given by the mint-master to the Rev. Mr. John Eliot. He was the first minister of Roxbury. But besides attending to the pastoral duties there, he learned the language of the red men, and often went into the woods to preach to them. So earnestly did he labor for their conversion that he has always been called the apostle to the Indians. The mention of this holy man suggested to Grandfather the propriety of giving a brief sketch of the history of the Indians, so far as they were connected with the English colonists.

A short period before the arrival of the first Pilgrims at Plymouth there had been a very grievous plague among the red men; and the sages and ministers of that day were inclined to the opinion that Providence had sent this mortality in order to make room for the settlement of the English. But I know not why we should suppose that an Indian’s life is less precious, in the eye of Heaven, than that of a white man. Be that as it may, death had certainly been very busy with the savage tribes.

In many places the English found the wigwams deserted and the cornfields growing to waste, with none to harvest the grain. There were heaps of earth also, which, being dug open, proved to be Indian graves, containing bows and flint-headed spears and arrows; for the Indians buried the dead warrior’s weapons along with him. In some spots there were skulls and other human bones lying unburied. In 1633, and the year afterwards, the small-pox broke out among the Massachusetts Indians, multitudes of whom died by this terrible disease of the Old World. These misfortunes made them far less powerful than they had formerly been.

For nearly half a century after the arrival of the English the red men showed themselves generally inclined to peace and amity. They often made submission when they might have made successful war. The Plymouth settlers, led by the famous Captain Miles Standish, slew some of them, in 1623, without any very evident necessity for so doing. In 1636, and the following year, there was the most dreadful war that had yet occurred between the Indians and the English. The Connecticut settlers, assisted by a celebrated Indian chief named Uncas, bore the brunt of this war, with but little aid from Massachusetts. Many hundreds of the hostile Indians were slain or burned in their wigwams. Sassacus, their sachem, fled to another tribe, after his own people were defeated; but he was murdered by them, and his head was sent to his English enemies.

From that period down to the time of King Philip’s War, which will be mentioned hereafter, there was not much trouble with the Indians. But the colonists were always on their guard, and kept their weapons ready for the conflict.

“I have sometimes doubted,” said Grandfather, when he had told these things to the Children,—“I have sometimes doubted whether there was more than a single man among our forefathers who realized that an Indian possesses a mind, and a heart, and an immortal soul. That single man was John Eliot. All the rest of the early settlers seemed to think that the Indians were an inferior race of beings, whom the Creator had merely allowed to keep possession of this beautiful country till the white men should be in want of it.”

“Did the pious men of those days never try to make Christian of them?” asked Laurence. “Sometimes, it is true,” answered Grandfather, “the magistrates and ministers would talk about civilizing and converting the red people. But, at the bottom of their hearts, they would have had almost as much expectation of civilizing the wild bear of the woods and making him fit for paradise. They felt no faith in the success of any such attempts, because they had no love for the poor Indians. Now, Eliot was full of love for them; and therefore so full of faith and hope that he spent the labor of a lifetime in their behalf.”

“I would have conquered them first, and then converted them,” said Charley.

“Ah, Charley, there spoke the very spirit of our forefathers.” replied Grandfather. “But Mr. Eliot a better spirit. He looked upon them as his brethren. He persuaded as many of them as he could to leave off their idle and wandering habits, and to build houses and cultivate the earth, as the English did. He established schools among them and taught many of the Indians how to read. He taught them, likewise, how to pray. Hence they were called ‘praying Indians.’ Finally, having spent the best years of his life for their good, Mr. Eliot resolved to spend the remainder in doing them a yet greater benefit.”

“I know what that was!” cried Laurence.

“He sat down in his study,” continued Grandfather, “and began a translation of the Bible into the Indian tongue. It was while he was engaged in this pious work that the mint-master gave him our great chair. His toil needed it and deserved it.”

“O Grandfather, tell us all about that Indian Bible!” exclaimed Laurence. “I have seen it in the library of the Athenaeum; and the tears came into my eyes to think that there were no Indians left to read it.”


As Grandfather was a great admirer of the apostle Eliot, he was glad to comply with the earnest request which Laurence had made at the close of the last chapter. So he proceeded to describe how good Mr. Eliot labored, while he was at work upon the Indian Bible.

My dear children, what a task would you think it, even with a long lifetime before you, were you bidden to copy every chapter, and verse, and word, in yonder family Bible! Would not this be a heavy toil? But if the task were, not to write off the English Bible, but to learn a language utterly unlike all other tongues, a language which hitherto had never been learned, except by the Indians themselves, from their mothers’ lips,—a language never written, and the strange words of which seemed inexpressible by letters,—if the task were, first to learn this new variety of speech, and then to translate the Bible into it, and to do it so carefully that not one idea throughout the holy book should be changed,—what would induce you to undertake this toil? Yet this was what the apostle Eliot did.

It was a mighty work for a man, now growing old, to take upon himself. And what earthly reward could he expect from it? None; no reward on earth. But he believed that the red men were the descendants of those lost tribes of Israel of whom history has been able to tell us nothing for thousands of years. He hoped that God had sent the English across the ocean, Gentiles as they were, to enlighten this benighted portion of his once chosen race. And when he should be summoned hence, he trusted to meet blessed spirits in another world, whose bliss would have been earned by his patient toil in translating the word of God. This hope and trust were far dearer to him than anything that earth could offer.

Sometimes, while thus at work, he was visited by learned men, who desired to know what literary undertaking Mr. Eliot had in hand. They, like himself, had been bred in the studious cloisters of a university, and were supposed to possess all the erudition which mankind has hoarded up from age to age. Greek and Latin were as familiar to them as the bab-ble of their childhood. Hebrew was like their mother tongue. They had grown gray in study; their eyes were bleared with poring over print and manuscript by the light of the midnight lamp.

And yet, how much had they left unlearned! Mr. Eliot would put into their hands some of the pages which he had been writing; and behold! the gray-headed men stammered over the long, strange words, like a little child in his first attempts to read. Then would the apostle call to him an Indian boy, one of his scholars, and show him the manuscript which had so puzzled the learned Englishmen.

“Read this, my child,” would he say; “these are some brethren of mine, who would fain hear the sound of thy native tongue.”

Then would the Indian boy cast his eyes over the mysterious page, and read it so skilfully that it sounded like wild music. It seemed as if the forest leaves were singing in the ears of his auditors, and as the roar of distant streams were poured through the young Indian’s voice. Such were the sounds amid which the language of the red man had been formed; and they were still heard to echo in it.

The lesson being over, Mr. Eliot would give the Indian boy an apple or a cake, and bid him leap forth into the open air which his free nature loved. The Apostle was kind to children, and even shared in their sports sometimes. And when his visitors had bidden him farewell, the good man turned patiently to his toil again.

No other Englishman had ever understood the Indian character so well, nor possessed so great an influence over the New England tribes, as the apostle did. His advice and assistance must often have been valuable to his countrymen in their transactions with the Indians. Occasionally, perhaps, the governor and some of the councillors came to visit Mr. Eliot. Perchance they were seeking some method to circumvent the forest people. They inquired, it may be, how they could obtain possession of such and such a tract of their rich land. Or they talked of making the Indians their servants; as if God had destined them for perpetual bondage to the more powerful white man.

Perhaps, too, some warlike captain, dressed in his buff coat, with a corselet beneath it, accompanied the governor and councillors. Laying his hand upon his sword hilt, he would declare that the only method of dealing with the red men was to meet them with the sword drawn and the musket presented.

But the apostle resisted both the craft of the politician and the fierceness of the warrior.

“Treat these sons of the forest as men and brethren,” he would say; “and let us endeavor to make them Christians. Their forefathers were of that chosen race whom God delivered from Egyptian bondage. Perchance he has destined us to deliver the children from the more cruel bondage of ignorance and idolatry. Chiefly for this end, it may be, we were directed across the ocean.”

When these other visitors were gone, Mr. Eliot bent himself again over the half-written page. He dared hardly relax a moment from his toil. He felt that, in the book which he was translating, there was a deep human as well as heavenly wisdom, which would of itself suffice to civilize and refine the savage tribes. Let the Bible be diffused among them, and all earthly good would follow. But how slight a consideration was this, when he reflected that the eternal welfare of a whole race of men depended upon his accomplishment of the task which he had set himself! What if his hands should be palsied? What if his mind should lose its vigor? What if death should come upon him ere the work were done? Then must the red man wander in the dark wilderness of heathenism forever.

Impelled by such thoughts as these, he sat writing in the great chair when the pleasant summer breeze came in through his open casement; and also when the fire of forest logs sent up its blaze and smoke, through the broad stone chimney, into the wintry air. Before the earliest bird sang in the morning the apostle’s lamp was kindled; and, at midnight, his weary head was not yet upon its pillow. And at length, leaning back in the great chair, he could say to himself, with a holy triumph, “The work is finished!”

It was finished. Here was a Bible for the Indians. Those long-lost descendants of the ten tribes of Israel would now learn the history of their forefathers. That grace which the ancient Israelites had forfeited was offered anew to their children.

There is no impiety in believing that, when his long life was over, the apostle of the Indians was welcomed to the celestial abodes by the prophets of ancient days and by those earliest apostles and evangelists who had drawn their inspiration from the immediate presence of the Saviour. They first had preached truth and salvation to the world. And Eliot, separated from them by many centuries, yet full of the same spirit, has borne the like message to the New World of the west. Since the first days of Christianity, there has been no man more worthy to be numbered in the brotherhood of the apostles than Eliot.

“My heart is not satisfied to think,” observed Laurence, “that Mr. Eliot’s labors have done no good except to a few Indians of his own time. Doubtless he would not have regretted his toil, if it were the means of saving but a single soul. But it is a grievous thing to me that he should have toiled so hard to translate the Bible, and now the language and the people are gone! The Indian Bible itself is almost the only relic of both.”

“Laurence,” said his Grandfather, “if ever you should doubt that man is capable of disinterested zeal for his brother’s good, then remember how the apostle Eliot toiled. And if you should feel your own self-interest pressing upon your heart too closely, then think of Eliot’s Indian Bible. It is good for the world that such a man has lived and left this emblem of his life.”

The tears gushed into the eyes of Laurence, and he acknowledged that Eliot had not toiled in vain. Little Alice put up her arms to Grandfather, and drew down his white head beside her own golden locks.

“Grandfather,” whispered she, “I want to kiss good Mr. Eliot!”

And, doubtless, good Mr. Eliot would gladly receive the kiss of so sweet a child as little Alice, and would think it a portion of his reward in heaven.

Grandfather now observed that Dr. Francis had written a very beautiful Life of Eliot, which he advised Laurence to peruse. He then spoke of King Philip’s War, which began in 1675, and terminated with the death of King Philip, in the following year. Philip was a proud, fierce Indian, whom Mr. Eliot had vainly endeavored to convert to the Christian faith.

“It must have been a great anguish to the apostle,” continued Grandfather, “to hear of mutual slaughter and outrage between his own countrymen and those for whom he felt the affection of a father. A few of the praying Indians joined the followers of King Philip. A greater number fought on the side of the English. In the course of the war the little community of red people whom Mr. Eliot had begun to civilize was scattered, and probably never was restored to a flourishing condition. But his zeal did not grow cold; and only about five years before his death he took great pains in preparing a new edition of the Indian Bible.”

“I do wish, Grandfather,” cried Charley, “you would tell us all about the battles in King Philip’s War.”

“Oh no!” exclaimed Clara. “Who wants to hear about tomahawks and scalping knives?”

“No, Charley,” replied Grandfather, “I have no time to spare in talking about battles. You must be content with knowing that it was the bloodiest war that the Indians had ever waged against the white men; and that, at its close, the English set King Philip’s head upon a pole.”

“Who was the captain of the English?” asked Charley.

“Their most noted captain was Benjamin Church, a very famous warrior,” said Grandfather. “But I assure you, Charley, that neither Captain Church, nor any of the officers and soldiers who fought in King Philip’s War, did anything a thousandth part so glorious as Mr. Eliot did when he translated the Bible for the Indians.”

“Let Laurence be the apostle,” said Charley to himself, “and I will be the captain.”


The children were now accustomed to assemble round Grandfather’s chair at all their unoccupied moments; and often it was a striking picture to behold the white-headed old sire, with this flowery wreath of young people around him. When he talked to them, it was the past speaking to the present, or rather to the future,—for the children were of a generation which had not become actual. Their part in life, thus far, was only to be happy and to draw knowledge from a thousand sources. As yet, it was not their time to do.

Sometimes, as Grandfather gazed at their fair, unworldly countenances, a mist of tears bedimmed his spectacles. He almost regretted that it was necessary for them to know anything of the past or to provide aught for the future. He could have wished that they might be always the happy, youthful creatures who had hitherto sported around his chair, without inquiring whether it had a history. It grieved him to think that his little Alice, who was a flower bud fresh from paradise, must open her leaves to the rough breezes of the world, or ever open them in any clime. So sweet a child she was, that it seemed fit her infancy should be immortal.

But such repinings were merely flitting shadows across the old man’s heart. He had faith enough to believe, and wisdom enough to know, that the bloom of the flower would be even holier and happier than its bud. Even within himself, though Grandfather was now at that period of life when the veil of mortality is apt to hang heavily over the soul, still, in his inmost being he was conscious of something that he would not have exchanged for the best happiness of childhood. It was a bliss to which every sort of earthly experience—all that he had enjoyed, or suffered or seen, or heard, or acted, with the broodings of his soul upon the whole—had contributed somewhat. In the same manner must a bliss, of which now they could have no conception, grow up within these children, and form a part of their sustenance for immortality.

So Grandfather, with renewed cheerfulness, continued his history of the chair, trusting that a profounder wisdom than his own would extract, from these flowers and weeds of Time, a fragrance that might last beyond all time.

At this period of the story Grandfather threw a glance backward as far as the year 1660. He spoke of the ill-concealed reluctance with which the Puritans in America had acknowledged the sway of Charles II. on his restoration to his father’s throne. When death had stricken Oliver Cromwell, that mighty protector had no sincerer mourners than in New England. The new king had been more than a year upon the throne before his accession was proclaimed in Boston, although the neglect to perform the ceremony might have subjected the rulers to the charge of treason.

During the reign of Charles II., however, the American colonies had but little reason to complain of harsh or tyrannical treatment. But when Charles died, in 1685, and was succeeded by his brother James, the patriarchs of New England began to tremble. King James was known to be of an arbitrary temper. It was feared by the Puritans that he would assume despotic power. Our forefathers felt that they had no security either for their religion or their liberties.

The result proved that they had reason for their apprehensions. King James caused the charters of all the American colonies to be taken away. The old charter of Massachusetts, which the people regarded as a holy thing and as the foundation of all their liberties, was declared void. The colonists were now no longer freemen; they were entirely dependent on the king’s pleasure. At first, in 1685, King James appointed Joseph Dudley, a native of Massachusetts, to be president of New England. But soon afterwards, Sir Edmund Andros, an officer of the English army, arrived, with a commission to be governor-general of New England and New York.

The king had given such powers to Sir Edmund Andros that there was now no liberty, nor scarcely any law, in the colonies over which he ruled. The inhabitants were not allowed to choose representatives, and consequently had no voice whatever in the government, nor control over the measures that were adopted. The councillors with whom the governor consulted on matters of state were appointed by himself. This sort of government was no better than an absolute despotism.

“The people suffered much wrong while Sir Edmund Andros ruled over them,” continued Grandfather; “and they were apprehensive of much more. He had brought some soldiers with him from England, who took possession of the old fortress on Castle Island and of the fortification on Fort Hill. Sometimes it was rumored that a general massacre of the inhabitants was to be perpetrated by these soldiers. There were reports, too, that all the ministers were to be slain or imprisoned.”

“For what?” inquired Charley.

“Because they were the leaders of the people, Charley,” said Grandfather. “A minister was a more formidable man than a general, in those days. Well, while these things were going on in America, King James had so misgoverned the people of England that they sent over to Holland for the Prince of Orange. He had married the king’s daughter, and was therefore considered to have a claim to the crown. On his arrival in England, the Prince of Orange was proclaimed king, by the name of William III. Poor old King James made his escape to France.”

Grandfather told how, at the first intelligence of the landing of the Prince of Orange in England, the people of Massachusetts rose in their strength and overthrew the government of Sir Edmund Andros. He, with Joseph Dudley, Edmund Randolph, and his other principal adherents, was thrown into prison. Old Simon Bradstreet, who had been governor when King James took away the charter, was called by the people to govern them again.

“Governor Bradstreet was a venerable old man, nearly ninety years of age,” said Grandfather. “He came over with the first settlers, and had been the intimate companion of all those excellent and famous men who laid the foundation of our country. They were all gone before him to the grave, and Bradstreet was the last of the Puritans.”

Grandfather paused a moment and smiled, as if he had something very interesting to tell his auditors. He then proceeded:—

“And now, Laurence,—now, Clara,—now, Charley,—now, my dear little Alice,—what chair do you think had been placed in the council chamber, for old Governor Bradstreet to take his seat in? Would you believe that it was this very chair in which Grandfather now sits, and of which he is telling you the history?”

“I am glad to hear it, with all my heart!” cried Charley, after a shout of delight. “I thought Grandfather had quite forgotten the chair.”

“It was a solemn and affecting sight,” said Grandfather, “when this venerable patriarch, with his white beard flowing down upon his breast, took his seat in his chair of state. Within his remembrance, and even since his mature age, the site where now stood the populous town had been a wild and forest-covered peninsula. The province, now so fertile and spotted with thriving villages, had been a desert wilderness. He was surrounded by a shouting multitude, most of whom had been born in the country which he had helped to found. They were of one generation, and he of another. As the old man looked upon them, and beheld new faces everywhere, he must have felt that it was now time for him to go whither his brethren had gone before him.”

“Were the former governors all dead and gone?” asked Laurence.

“All of them,” replied Grandfather. “Winthrop had been dead forty years. Endicott died, a very old man, in 1665. Sir Henry Vane was beheaded, in London, at the beginning of the reign of Charles II. And Haynes, Dudley, Bellingham, and Leverett, who had all been governors of Massachusetts, were now likewise in their graves. Old Simon Bradstreet was the sole representative of that departed brotherhood. There was no other public man remaining to connect the ancient system of government and manners with the new system which was about to take its place. The era of the Puritans was now completed.”

“I am sorry for it!” observed Laurence; “for though they were so stern, yet it seems to me that there was something warm and real about them. I think, Grandfather, that each of these old governors should have his statue set up in our State House, Sculptured out of the hardest of New England granite.”

“It would not be amiss, Laurence,” said Grandfather; “but perhaps clay, or some other perishable material, might suffice for some of their successors. But let us go back to our chair. It was occupied by Governor Bradstreet from April, 1689, until May, 1692. Sir William Phips then arrived in Boston with a new charter from King William and a commission to be governor.”


“AND what became of the chair?” inquired Clara, “The outward aspect of our chair,” replied Grandfather, “was now somewhat the worse for its long and arduous services. It was considered hardly magnificent enough to be allowed to keep its place in the council chamber of Massachusetts. In fact, it was banished as an article of useless lumber. But Sir William Phips happened to see it, and, being much pleased with its construction, resolved to take the good old chair into his private mansion. Accordingly, with his own gubernatorial hands, he repaired one of its arms, which had been slightly damaged.”

“Why, Grandfather, here is the very arm!” interrupted Charley, in great wonderment. “And did Sir William Phips put in these screws with his own hands? I am sure he did it beautifully! But how came a governor to know how to mend a chair?”

“I will tell you a story about the early life of Sir William Phips,” said Grandfather. “You will then perceive that he well knew how to use his hands.”

So Grandfather related the wonderful and true tale of the sunken treasure.

Picture to yourselves, my dear children, a handsome, old-fashioned room, with a large, open cupboard at one end, in which is displayed a magnificent gold cup, with some other splendid articles of gold and silver plate. In another part of the room, opposite to a tall looking-glass, stands our beloved chair, newly polished, and adorned with a gorgeous cushion of crimson velvet tufted with gold.

In the chair sits a man of strong and sturdy frame, whose face has been roughened by northern tempests and blackened by the burning sun of the West Indies. He wears an immense periwig, flowing down over his shoulders. His coat has a wide embroidery of golden foliage; and his waistcoat, likewise, is all flowered over and bedizened with gold. His red, rough hands, which have done many a good day’s work with the hammer and adze, are half covered by the delicate lace ruffles at his wrists. On a table lies his silver-hilted sword; and in a corner of the room stands his gold-headed cane, made of a beautifully polished West India wood.

Somewhat such an aspect as this did Sir William Phips present when he sat in Grandfather’s chair after the king had appointed him governor of Massachusetts. Truly there was need that the old chair should be varnished and decorated with a crimson cushion, in order to make it suitable for such a magnificent-looking personage.

But Sir William Phips had not always worn a gold-embroidered coat, nor always sat so much at his ease as he did in Grandfather’s chair. He was a poor man’s son, and was born in the province of Maine, where he used to tend sheep upon the hills in his boyhood and youth. Until he had grown to be a man, he did not even know how to read and write. Tired of tending sheep, he next apprenticed himself to a ship-carpenter, and spent about four years in hewing the crooked limbs of oak-trees into knees for vessels.

In 1673, when he was twenty-two years old, he came to Boston, and soon afterwards was married to a widow lady, who had property enough to set him up in business. It was not long, however, before he lost all the money that he had acquired by his marriage, and became a poor man again. Still he was not discouraged. He often told his wife that, some time or other, he should be very rich, and would build a “fair brick house” in the Green Lane of Boston.

Do not suppose, children, that he had been to a fortune-teller to inquire his destiny. It was his own energy and spirit of enterprise, and his resolution to lead an industrious life, that made him look forward with so much confidence to better days.

Several years passed away, and William Phips had not yet gained the riches which he promised to himself. During this time he had begun to follow the sea for a living. In the year 1684 he happened to hear of a Spanish ship which had been cast away near the Bahama Islands, and which was supposed to contain a great deal of gold and silver. Phips went to the place in a small vessel, hoping that he should be able to recover some of the treasure from the wreck. He did not succeed, however, in fishing up gold and silver enough to pay the expenses of his voyage.

But, before he returned, he was told of another Spanish ship, or galleon, which had been east away near Porto de la Plata. She had now lain as much as fifty years beneath the waves. This old ship had been laden with immense wealth; and, hitherto, nobody had thought of the possibility of recovering any part of it from the deep sea which was rolling and tossing it about. But though it was now an old story, and the most aged people had almost forgotten that such a vessel had been wrecked, William Phips resolved that the sunken treasure should again be brought to light.

He went to London and obtained admittance to King James, who had not yet been driven from his throne. He told the king of the vast wealth that was lying at the bottom of the sea. King James listened with attention, and thought this a fine opportunity to fill his treasury with Spanish gold. He appointed William Phips to be captain of a vessel, called the Rose Algier, carrying eighteen guns and ninety-five men. So now he was Captain Phips of the English navy.

Captain Phips sailed from England in the Rose Algier, and cruised for nearly two years in the West Indies, endeavoring to find the wreck of the Spanish ship. But the sea is so wide and deep that it is no easy matter to discover the exact spot where a sunken vessel lies. The prospect of success seemed very small; and most people would have thought that Captain Phips was as far from having money enough to build a “fair brick house” as he was while he tended sheep.

The seamen of the Rose Algier became discouraged, and gave up all hope of making their fortunes by discovering the Spanish wreck. They wanted to compel Captain Phips to turn pirate. There was a much better prospect, they thought, of growing rich by plundering vessels which still sailed in the sea than by seeking for a ship that had lain beneath the waves full half a century. They broke out in open mutiny; but were finally mastered by Phips, and compelled to obey his orders. It would have been dangerous, however, to continue much longer at sea with such a crew of mutinous sailors; and, besides, the Rose Algier was leaky and unseaworthy. So Captain Phips judged it best to return to England.

Before leaving the West Indies, he met with a Spaniard, an old man, who remembered the wreck of the Spanish ship, and gave him directions how to find the very spot. It was on a reef of rocks, a few leagues from Porto de la Plata.

On his arrival in England, therefore, Captain Phips solicited the king to let him have another vessel and send him back again to the West Indies. But King James, who had probably expected that the Rose Algier would return laden with gold, refused to have anything more to do with the affair. Phips might never have been able to renew the search if the Duke of Albemarle and some other noblemen had not lent their assistance. They fitted out a ship, and gave the command to Captain Phips. He sailed from England, and arrived safely at Porto de la Plata, where he took an adze and assisted his men to build a large boat.

The boat was intended for the purpose of going closer to the reef of rocks than a large vessel could safely venture. When it was finished, the captain sent several men in it to examine the spot where the Spanish ship was said to have been wrecked. They were accompanied by some Indians, who were skilful divers, and could go down a great way into the depths of the sea.

The boat’s crew proceeded to the reef of rocks, and rowed round and round it a great many times. They gazed down into the water, which was so transparent that it seemed as if they could have seen the gold and silver at the bottom, had there been any of those precious metals there. Nothing, however, could they see, nothing more valuable than a curious sea shrub, which was growing beneath the water, in a crevice of the reef of rocks. It flaunted to and fro with the swell and reflux of the waves, and looked as bright and beautiful as if its leaves were gold.

“We won’t go back empty-handed,” cried an English sailor; and then he spoke to one of the Indian divers. “Dive down and bring me that pretty sea shrub there. That’s the only treasure we shall find.”

Down plunged the diver, and soon rose dripping from the water, holding the sea shrub in his hand. But he had learned some news at the bottom of the sea.

“There are some ship’s guns,” said he, the moment he had drawn breath, “some great cannon, among the rocks, near where the shrub was growing.”

No sooner had he spoken than the English sailors knew that they had found the very spot where the Spanish galleon had been wrecked, so many years before. The other Indian divers immediately plunged over the boat’s side and swam headlong down, groping among the rocks and sunken cannon. In a few moments one of them rose above the water with a heavy lump of silver in his arms. The single lump was worth more than a thousand dollars. The sailors took it into the boat, and then rowed back as speedily as they could, being in haste to inform Captain Phips of their good luck.

But, confidently as the captain had hoped to find the Spanish wreck, yet, now that it was really found, the news seemed too good to be true. He could not believe it till the sailors showed him the lump of silver.

“Thanks be to God!” then cries Captain Phips “We shall every man of us make our fortunes!”

Hereupon the captain and all the crew set to work, with iron rakes and great hooks and lines, fishing for gold and silver at the bottom of the sea. Up came the treasure in abundance. Now they beheld a table of solid silver, once the property of an old Spanish grandee. Now they found a sacramental vessel, which had been destined as a gift to some Catholic church. Now they drew up a golden cup, fit for the King of Spain to drink his wine out of. Perhaps the bony hand of its former owner had been grasping the precious cup, and was drawn up along with it. Now their rakes or fishing-lines were loaded with masses of silver bullion. There were also precious stones among the treasure, glittering and sparkling, so that it is a wonder how their radiance could have been concealed.

There is something sad and terrible in the idea of snatching all this wealth from the devouring ocean, which had possessed it for such a length of years. It seems as if men had no right to make themselves rich with it. It ought to have been left with the skeletons of the ancient Spaniards, who had been drowned when the ship was wrecked, and whose bones were now scattered among the gold and silver.

But Captain Phips and his crew were troubled with no such thoughts as these. After a day or two they lighted on another part of the wreck, where they found a great many bags of silver dollars. But nobody could have guessed that these were money-bags. By remaining so long in the salt water, they had become covered over with a crust which had the appearance of stone, so that it was necessary to break them in pieces with hammers and axes. When this was done, a stream of silver dollars gushed out upon the deck of the vessel.

The whole value of the recovered treasure, plate, bullion, precious stones, and all, was estimated at more than two millions of dollars. It was dangerous even to look at such a vast amount of wealth. A sea-captain, who had assisted Phips in the enterprise, utterly lost his reason at the sight of it. He died two years afterwards, still raving about the treasures that lie at the bottom of the sea. It would have been better for this man if he had left the skeletons of the shipwrecked Spaniards in quiet possession of their wealth.

Captain Phips and his men continued to fish up plate, bullion, and dollars, as plentifully as ever, till their provisions grew short. Then, as they could not feed upon gold and silver any more than old King Midas could, they found it necessary to go in search of better sustenance. Phips resolved to return to England. He arrived there in 1687, and was received with great joy by the Duke of Albemarle and other English lords who had fitted out the vessel. Well they might rejoice; for they took by far the greater part of the treasure to themselves.

The captain’s share, however, was enough to make him comfortable for the rest of his days. It also enabled him to fulfil his promise to his wife, by building a “fair brick house” in the Green Lane of Boston. The Duke of Albemarle sent Mrs. Phips a magnificent gold cup, worth at least five thousand dollars. Before Captain Phips left London, King James made him a knight; so that, instead of the obscure ship-carpenter who had formerly dwelt among them, the inhabitants of Boston welcomed him on his return as the rich and famous Sir William Phips.


“Sir William Phips,” continued Grandfather, “was too active and adventurous a man to sit still in the quiet enjoyment of his good fortune. In the year 1690 he went on a military expedition against the French colonies in America, conquered the whole province of Acadia, and returned to Boston with a great deal of plunder.”

“Why, Grandfather, he was the greatest man that ever sat in the chair!” cried Charley.

“Ask Laurence what he thinks,” replied Grandfather, with a smile. “Well, in the same year, Sir William took command of an expedition against Que-bec, but did not succeed in capturing the city. In 1692, being then in London, King William III. appointed him governor of Massachusetts. And now, my dear children, having followed Sir William Phips through all his adventures and hardships till we find him comfortably seated in Grandfather’s chair, we will here bid him farewell. May he be as happy in ruling a people as he was while he tended sheep!”

Charley, whose fancy had been greatly taken by the adventurous disposition of Sir William Phips, was eager to know how he had acted and what happened to him while he held the office of governor. But Grandfather had made up his mind to tell no more stories for the present.

“Possibly, one of these days, I may go on with the adventures of the chair,” said he. “But its history becomes very obscure just at this point; and I must search into some old books and manuscripts before proceeding further. Besides, it is now a good time to pause in our narrative; because the new charter, which Sir William Phips brought over from England, formed a very important epoch in the history of the province.”

“Really, Grandfather,” observed Laurence, “this seems to be the most remarkable chair, in the world. Its history cannot be told without intertwining it with the lives of distinguished men and the great events that have befallen the country.”

“True, Laurence,’” replied Grandfather, smiling; “we must write a book with some such title as this: MEMOIRS OF MY OWN TIMES, BY GRANDFATHER’S CHAIR.”

“That would be beautiful!” exclaimed Laurence, clapping his hands.

“But, after all,” continued Grandfather, “any other old chair, if it possessed memory and a hand to write its recollections, could record stranger stories than any that I have told you. From generation to generation, a chair sits familiarly in the midst of human interests, and is witness to the most secret and confidential intercourse that mortal man can hold with his fellow. The human heart may best be read in the fireside chair. And as to external events, Grief and Joy keep a continual vicissitude around it and within it. Now we see the glad face and glowing form of Joy, sitting merrily in the old chair, and throwing a warm firelight radiance over all the household. Now, while we thought not of it, the dark-clad mourner, Grief, has stolen into the place of Joy, but not to retain it long. The imagination can hardly grasp so wide a subject as is embraced in the experience of a family chair.”

“It makes my breath flutter, my heart thrill, to think of it,” said Laurence. “Yes, a family chair must have a deeper history than a chair of state.”

“Oh yes!” cried Clara, expressing a woman’s feeling of the point in question; “the history of a country is not nearly so interesting as that of a single family would be.”

“But the history of a country is more easily told,” said Grandfather. “So, if we proceed with our narrative of the chair, I shall still confine myself to its connection with public events.”

Good old Grandfather now rose and quitted the room, while the children remained gazing at the chair. Laurence, so vivid was his conception of past times, would hardly have deemed it strange if its former occupants, one after another, had resumed the seat which they had each left vacant such a dim length of years ago.

First, the gentle and lovely Lady Arbella would have been seen in the old chair, almost sinking out of its arms for very weakness; then Roger Williams, in his cloak and band, earnest, energetic, and benevolent; then the figure of Anne Hutchinson, with the like gesture as when she presided at the assemblages of women; then the dark, intellectual face of Vane, “young in years, but in sage counsel old.” Next would have appeared the successive governors, Winthrop, Dudley, Bellingham, and Endicott, who sat in the chair while it was a chair of state. Then its ample seat would have been pressed by the comfortable, rotund corporation of the honest mint-master. Then the half-frenzied shape of Mary Dyer, the persecuted Quaker woman, clad in sackcloth and ashes would have rested in it for a moment. Then the holy, apostolic form of Eliot would have sanctified it. Then would have arisen, like the shade of departed Puritanism, the venerable dignity of the white-bearded Governor Bradstreet. Lastly, on the gorgeous crimson cushion of Grandfather’s chair would have shone the purple and golden magnificence of Sir William Phips. But all these, with the other historic personages, in the midst of whom the chair had so often stood, had passed, both in substance and shadow, from the scene of ages. Yet here stood the chair, with the old Lincoln coat of arms, and the oaken flowers and foliage, and the fierce lion’s head at the summit, the whole, apparently, in as perfect preservation as when it had first been placed in the Earl of Lincoln’s hall. And what vast changes of society and of nations had been wrought by sudden convulsions or by slow degrees since that era!

“This Chair had stood firm when the thrones of kings were overturned!” thought Laurence. “Its oaken frame has proved stronger than many frames of government!”

More the thoughtful and imaginative boy might have mused; but now a large yellow cat, a great favorite with all the children, leaped in at the open window. Perceiving that Grandfather’s chair was empty, and having often before experienced its comforts, puss laid herself quietly down upon the cushion. Laurence, Clara, Charley, and little Alice all laughed at the idea of such a successor to the worthies of old times.

“Pussy,” said little Alice, putting out her hand, into which the cat laid a velvet paw, “you look very wise. Do tell us a story about GRANDFATHER’S CHAIR!”




MR. ELIOT had been for some time assiduously employed in learning the Indian language. To accomplish this, he secured the assistance of one of the natives, who could speak English. Eliot, at the close of his Indian Grammar, mentions him as “a pregnant-witted young man, who had been a servant in an English house, who pretty well understood his own language, and had a clear pronunciation.” He took this Indian into his family, and by constant intercourse with him soon become sufficiently conversant with the vocabulary and construction of the language to translate the ten commandments, the Lord’s prayer, and several passages of Scripture, besides composing exhortations and prayers.

Mr. Eliot must have found his task anything but easy or inviting. He was to learn a dialect, in which he could be assisted by no affinity with the languages he already knew. He was to do this without the help of any written or printed specimens, with nothing in the shape of a grammar or analysis, but merely by oral communication with his Indian instructor, or with other natives, who, however comparatively intelligent, must from the nature of the case have been very imperfect teachers. He applied himself to the work with great patience and sagacity, carefully acting the differences between the Indian and the English modes of constructing words; and, having once got a clew to this, he pursued every noun and verb he could think of through all possible variations. In this way he arrived at analyses and rules, which he could apply for himself in a general manner.

Neal says that Eliot was able to speak the language intelligibly after conversing with the Indian servant a few months. This, in a limited sense, may be true; but he is said to have been engaged two years in the process of learning, before he went to preached to the Indians. In that time he acquired a somewhat ready facility in the use of that dialect, by means of which he was to carry the instructions of spiritual truth to the men of the forest, though as late as 1649 he still lamented his want of skill in this respect.

Notice having been given of his intention [of instructing the Indians], Mr. Eliot, in company with three others, whose names are not mentioned, having implored the divine blessing on the undertaking, made his first visit to the Indians on the 28th of October, 1646 at a place afterwards called Nonantum; a spot that has the honor of being the first on which a civilized and Christian settlement of Indians was effected within the English colonies of North America. This name was given to the high grounds in the north, east part of Newton, and to the bounds of that town and Watertown. At a short distance from the wigwams, they were met by Waban, a leading man among the Indians at that place, accompanied by others, and were welcomed with “English salutations.” Waban, who is described as “the chief minister of justice among them,” had before shown a better disposition than any other native to receive the religious instruction of the Christians, and had voluntarily proposed to have his eldest son educated by them. His son had been accordingly placed at school in Dedham, whence he had now come to attend the meeting.

The Indians assembled in Waban’s wigwam; and thither Mr. Eliot and his friends were conducted. When the company were all collected and quiet, a religious service was begun with prayer. This was uttered in English; the reason for which, as given by Mr. Eliot and his companions, was, that he did not then feel sufficiently acquainted with the Indian language to use it in that service.

The same difficulty would not occur in preaching, since for this, we may suppose, he had sufficiently prepared his thoughts and expressions to make his discourse intelligible on all important points; and if he should, in some parts, fail of being, understood, he could repeat or correct himself, till he should succeed better. Besides, he took with him an interpretor, who was frequently able to express his instructions more distinctly than he could himself. Though the prayer was unintelligible to the Indians, yet, as they knew what the nature of the service was, Mr. Eliot believed it might not be without an effect in subduing their feelings so as to prepare them better to listen to the preaching.

Mr. Eliot then began his sermon, or address, from Ezek. xxxvii. 9, 10. The word wind, in this passage, suggested to the minds of some, who afterwards gave an account of this meeting, a coincidence which might, in the spirit of the times, be construed into a special appointment of Providence. The name of Waban signified, in the Indian tongue, wind; so that when the preacher uttered the words, “say to the wind,” it was as if he had proclaimed, “say to Waban.” As this man afterwards exerted much influence in awaking the attention of his fellow savages to Christianity, it might seem that in this first visit of the messengers of the gospel he was singled out by a special call to work in the cause. It is not surprising that the Indians were struck with the coincidence. Mr. Eliot gave no countenance to a superstitious use of the circumstance, and took care to tell them that, when he chose his text, he had no thought of any such application.

The sermon was an hour and a quarter long. One cannot but suspect that Mr. Eliot injudiciously crowded too much into one address. It would seem to have been better, for the first time at least, to have given a shorter sermon, and to have touched upon fewer subjects. But he was doubtless borne on by his zeal to do much in a good cause; and, as we have reason to think, by the attentive, though vague, curiosity of the Indians.

Thus ended a conference three hours long, at the end of which the Indians affirmed that they were not weary, and requested their visitors to come again. They expressed a wish to build a town and live together. Mr. Eliot promised to intercede for them with the court. He and his companions then gave the men some tobacco, and the children some apples, and bade them farewell.

A fortnight afterwards, on the 11th of November, Mr. Eliot and his friends repeated their visit to the wigwam of Waban. This meeting was more numerous than the former. The religious service was opened, as before, with a prayer in English. This was followed by a few brief and plain questions addressed to the children, admitting short and easy answers. The children seemed well disposed to listen and learn. To encourage them, Mr. Eliot gave them occasionally an apple or a cake; and the adults were requested to repeat to them the instructions that had been given. He then preached to the assembly in their own language, telling them that he had come to bring them good news from God, and show them how wicked men might become good and happy; and, in general, discoursing on nearly the same topics as he had treated at his first visit.

PART II. 1692-1763.


“O GRANDFATHER, dear Grandfather,” cried little Alice, “pray tell us some more stories about your chair!”

How long a time had fled since the children bad felt any curiosity to hear the sequel of this venerable chair’s adventures! Summer was now past and gone, and the better part of autumn likewise. Dreary, chill November was howling out of doors, and vexing the atmosphere with sudden showers of wintry rain, or sometimes with gusts of snow, that rattled like small pebbles against the windows.

When the weather began to grow cool, Grandfather’s chair had been removed from the summer parlor into a smaller and snugger room. It now stood by the side of a bright, blazing wood-fire. Grandfather loved a wood-fire far better than a grate of glowing anthracite, or than the dull heat of an invisible furnace, which seems to think that it has done its duty in merely warming the house. But the wood-fire is a kindly, cheerful, sociable spirit, sympathizing with mankind, and knowing that to create warmth is but one of the good offices which are expected from it. Therefore it dances on the hearth, and laughs broadly throughout the room, and plays a thousand antics, and throws a joyous glow over all the faces that encircle it.

In the twilight of the evening the fire grew brighter and more cheerful. And thus, perhaps, there was something in Grandfather’s heart that cheered him most with its warmth and comfort in the gathering twilight of old age. He had been gazing at the red embers as intently as if his past life were all pictured there, or as if it were a prospect of the future world, when little Alice’s voice aroused him. “Dear Grandfather,” repeated the little girl, more earnestly, “do talk to us again about your chair.”

Laurence, and Clara, and Charley, and little Alice had been attracted to other objects for two or three months past. They had sported in the gladsome sunshine of the present, and so had forgotten the shadowy region of the past, in the midst of which stood Grandfather’s chair. But now, in the autumnal twilight, illuminated by the flickering blaze of the wood-fire, they looked at the old chair, and thought that it had never before worn such an interesting aspect. There it stood in the venerable majesty of more than two hundred years. The light from the hearth quivered upon the flowers and foliage that were wrought into its oaken back; and the lion’s head at the summit seemed almost to move its jaws and shake its mane.

“Does little Alice speak for all of you?” asked Grandfather. “Do you wish me to go on with the adventures of the chair?’

“Oh yes, yes, Grandfather!” cried Clara. “The dear old chair! How strange that we should have forgotten it so long!”

“Oh, pray begin, Grandfather,” said Laurence, “for I think, when we talk about old times, it should be in the early evening, before the candles are lighted. The shapes of the famous persons who once sat in the chair will be more apt to come back, and be seen among us, in this glimmer and pleasant gloom, than they would in the vulgar daylight. And, besides, we can make pictures of all that you tell us among the glowing embers and white ashes.”

Our friend Charley, too, thought the evening the best time to hear Grandfather’s stories, because he could not then be playing out of doors. So finding his young auditors unanimous in their petition, the good old gentleman took up the narrative of the historic chair at the point where he had dropped it.


“You recollect, my dear children,” said Grandfather, “that we took leave of the chair in 1692, while it was occupied by Sir William Phips. This fortunate treasure-seeker, you will remember, had come over from England, with King William’s commission, to be governor of Massachusetts. Within the limits of this province were now included the old colony of Plymouth, and the territories of Maine and Nova Scotia. Sir William Phips had likewise brought a new charter from the king, which served instead of a constitution, and set forth the method in which the province was to be governed.”

“Did the new charter allow the people all their former liberties?” inquired Laurence.

“No,” replied Grandfather. “Under the first charter, the people had been the source of all power. Winthrop, Endicott, Bradstreet, and the rest of them had been governors by the choice of the people, without any interference of the king. But henceforth the governor was to hold his station solely by the king’s appointment and during his pleasure; and the same was the case with the lieutenant-governor and some other high officers. The people, however, were still allowed to choose representatives; and the governor’s council was chosen by the General Court.”

“Would the inhabitants have elected Sir William Phips,” asked Laurence, “if the choice of governor had been left to them?”

“He might probably have been a successful candidate,” answered Grandfather; “for his adventures and military enterprises had gained him a sort of renown, which always goes a great way with the people. And he had many popular characteristics,—being a kind warm-hearted man, not ashamed of his low origin nor haughty in his present elevation. Soon after his arrival, he proved that he did not blush to recognize his former associates.”

“How was that?” inquired Charley.

“He made a grand festival at his new brick house,” said Grandfather, “and invited all the ship-carpenters of Boston to be his guests. At the head of the table, in our great chair, sat Sir William Phips himself, treating these hard-handed men as his brethren, cracking jokes with them, and talking familiarly about old times. I know not whether he wore his embroidered dress; but I rather choose to imagine that he had on a suit of rough clothes, such as he used to labor in while he was Phips the ship-carpenter.”

“An aristocrat need not be ashamed of the trade,” observed Laurence; “for the Czar Peter the Great once served an apprenticeship to it.”

“Did Sir William Phips make as good a governor as he was a ship-carpenter?” asked Charley.

“History says but little about his merits as a ship-carpenter,” answered Grandfather; “but, as a governor, a great deal of fault was found with him. Almost as soon as he assumed the government, he became engaged in a very frightful business, which might have perplexed a wiser and better cultivated head than his. This was the witchcraft delusion.”

And here Grandfather gave his auditors such details of this melancholy affair as he thought it fit for them to know. They shuddered to hear that a frenzy, which led to the death of many innocent persons, had originated in the wicked arts of a few children. They belonged to the Rev. Mr. Parris, minister of Salem. These children complained of being pinched and pricked with pins, and otherwise tormented by the shapes of men and women, who were supposed to have power to haunt them invisibly, both in darkness and daylight. Often in the midst of their family and friends the children would pretend to be seized with strange convulsions, and would cry out that the witches were afflicting them.

These stories spread abroad, and caused great tumult and alarm. From the foundation of New England, it had been the custom of the inhabitants, in all matters of doubt and difficulty, to look to their ministers for counsel. So they did now; but, unfortunately, the ministers and wise men were more deluded than the illiterate people. Cotton Mather, a very learned and eminent clergyman, believed that the whole country was full of witches and wizards, who had given up their hopes of heaven, and signed a covenant with the evil one.

Nobody could be certain that his nearest neighbor or most intimate friend was not guilty of this imaginary crime. The number of those who pretended to be afflicted by witchcraft grew daily more numerous; and they bore testimony against many of the best and worthiest people. A minister, named George Burroughs, was among the accused. In the months of August and September, 1692, he and nineteen other innocent men and women were put to death. The place of execution was a high hill, on the outskirts of Salem; so that many of the sufferers, as they stood beneath the gallows, could discern their own habitations in the town.

The martyrdom of these guiltless persons seemed only to increase the madness. The afflicted now grew bolder in their accusations. Many people of rank and wealth were either thrown into prison or compelled to flee for their lives. Among these were two sons of old Simon Bradstreet, the last of the Puritan governors. Mr. Willard, a pious minister of Boston, was cried out upon as a wizard in open court. Mrs. Hale, the wife of the minister of Beverly, was likewise accused. Philip English, a rich merchant of Salem, found it necessary to take flight, leaving his property and business in confusion. But a short time afterwards, the Salem people were glad to invite him back.

“The boldest thing that the accusers did,” continued Grandfather, “was to cry out against the governor’s own beloved wife. Yes, the lady of Sir William Phips was accused of being a witch and of flying through the air to attend witch-meetings. When the governor heard this he probably trembled, so that our great chair shook beneath him.”

“Dear Grandfather,” cried little Alice, clinging closer to his knee, “is it true that witches ever come in the night-time to frighten little children?”

“No, no, dear little Alice,” replied Grandfather. “Even if there were any witches, they would flee away from the presence of a pure-hearted child. But there are none; and our forefathers soon became convinced that they had been led into a terrible delusion. All the prisoners on account of witchcraft were set free. But the innocent dead could not be restored to life and the hill where they were executed will always remind people of the saddest and most humiliating passage in our history.”

Grandfather then said that the next remarkable event, while Sir William Phips remained in the chair, was the arrival at Boston of an English fleet in 1698. It brought an army which was intended for the conquest of Canada. But a malignant disease, more fatal than the smallpox, broke out among the soldiers and sailors, and destroyed the greater part of them. The infection spread into the town of Boston, and made much havoc there. This dreadful sickness caused the governor and Sir Francis Wheeler, who was commander of the British forces, to give up all thoughts of attacking Canada.

“Soon after this,” said Grandfather, “Sir William Phips quarrelled with the captain of an English frigate, and also with the collector of Boston. Being a man of violent temper, he gave each of them a sound beating with his cane.”

“He was a bold fellow,” observed Charley, who was himself somewhat addicted to a similar mode or settling disputes.

“More bold than wise,” replied Grandfather; “for complaints were carried to the king, and Sir William Phips was summoned to England to make the best answer he could. Accordingly he went to London, where, in 1695, he was seized with a malignant fever, of which he died. Had he lived longer, he would probably have gone again in search of sunken treasure. He had heard of a Spanish ship, which was cast away in 1502, during the lifetime of Columbus. Bovadilla, Roldan, and many other Spaniards were lost in her, together with the immense wealth of which they had robbed the South American kings.”

“Why, Grandfather!” exclaimed Laurence, “what magnificent ideas the governor had! Only think of recovering all that old treasure which had lain almost two centuries under the sea! Methinks Sir William Phips ought to have been buried in the ocean when he died, so that he might have gone down among the sunken ships and cargoes of treasure which he was always dreaming about in his lifetime.”

“He was buried in one of the crowded cemeteries of London,” said Grandfather. “As he left no children, his estate was inherited by his nephew, from whom is descended the present Marquis of Normandy. The noble Marquis is not aware, perhaps, that the prosperity of his family originated in the successful enterprise of a New England ship-carpenter.”


“At the death of Sir William Phips,” proceeded Grandfather, “our chair was bequeathed to Mr. Ezekiel Cheever, a famous schoolmaster in Boston. This old gentleman came from London in 1637, and had been teaching school ever since; so that there were now aged men, grandfathers like myself, to whom Master Cheever had taught their alphabet. He was a person of venerable aspect, and wore a long white beard.”

“Was the chair placed in his school?” asked Charley.

“Yes, in his school,” answered Grandfather; “and we may safely say that it had never before been regarded with such awful reverence,—no, not even when the old governors of Massachusetts sat in it. Even you, Charley, my boy, would have felt some respect for the chair if you had seen it occupied by this famous schoolmaster.”

And here grandfather endeavored to give his auditors an idea how matters were managed in schools above a hundred years ago. As this will probably be an interesting subject to our readers, we shall make a separate sketch of it, and call it The Old-Fashioned School.

Now, imagine yourselves, my children, in Master Ezekiel Cheever’s school-room. It is a large, dingy room, with a sanded floor, and is lighted by windows that turn on hinges and have little diamond-shaped panes of glass. The scholars sit on long benches, with desks before them. At one end of the room is a great fireplace, so very spacious that there is room enough for three or four boys to stand in each of the chimney corners. This was the good old fashion of fireplaces when there was wood enough in the forests to keep people warm without their digging into the bowels of the earth for coal.

It is a winter’s day when we take our peep into the school-room. See what great logs of wood have been rolled into the fireplace, and what a broad, bright blaze goes leaping up the chimney! And every few moments a vast cloud of smoke is puffed into the room, which sails slowly over the heads of the scholars, until it gradually settles upon the walls and ceiling. They are blackened with the smoke of many years already.

Next look at our old historic chair! It is placed, you perceive, in the most comfortable part of the room, where the generous glow of the fire is sufficiently felt without being too intensely hot. How stately the old chair looks, as if it remembered its many famous occupants, but yet were conscious that a greater man is sitting in it now! Do you see the venerable schoolmaster, severe in aspect, with a black skullcap on his head, like an ancient Puritan, and the snow of his white beard drifting down to his very girdle? What boy would dare to play; or whisper, or even glance aside from his book; while Master Cheever is on the lookout behind his spectacles? For such offenders, if any such there be, a rod of birch is hanging over the fireplace, and a heavy ferule lies on the master’s desk.

And now school is begun. What a murmur of multitudinous tongues, like the whispering leaves of a wind-stirred oak, as the scholars con over their various tasks! Buzz! buzz! buzz! Amid just such a murmur has Master Cheever spent above sixty years; and long habit has made it as pleasant to him as the hum of a beehive when the insects are busy in the sunshine.

Now a class in Latin is called to recite. Forth steps a rowel queer-looking little fellows, wearing square-skirted coats and small-clothes, with buttons at the knee. They look like so many grandfathers in their second-childhood. These lads are to be sent to Cambridge and educated for the learned professions. Old Master Cheever had lived so long, and seen so many generations of school-boys grow up to be men, that now he can almost prophesy what sort of a man each boy will be. One urchin shall hereafter be a doctor, and administer pills and potions, and stalk gravely through life, perfumed with assafoetida. Another shall wrangle at the bar, and fight his way to wealth and honors and, in his declining age, shall be a worshipful member of his Majesty’s council. A third-and he is the master’s favorite—shall be a worthy successor to the old Puritan ministers now in their graves; he shall preach with great unction and effect, and leave volumes of sermons, in print and manuscript, for the benefit of future generations.

But, as they are merely school-boys now, their business is to construe Virgil. Poor Virgil! whose verses, which he took so much pains to polish, have been misscanned, and misparsed, and misinterpreted by so many generations of idle school-boys. There, sit down, ye Latinists. Two or three of you, I fear, are doomed to feel the master’s ferule.

Next comes a class in arithmetic. These boys are to be the merchants, shopkeepers, and mechanics of a future period. Hitherto they have traded only in marbles and apples. Hereafter some will send vessels to England for broadcloths and all sorts of manufactured wares, and to the West Indies for sugar, and rum, and coffee. Others will stand behind counters, and measure tape, and ribbon, and cambric by the yard. Others will upheave the blacksmith’s hammer, or drive the plane over the carpenter’s bench, or take the lapstone and the awl and learn the trade of shoemaking. Many will follow the sea, and become bold, rough sea-captains.

This class of boys, in short, must supply the world with those active, skilful hands, and clear, sagacious heads, without which the affairs of life would be thrown into confusion by the theories of studious and visionary men. Wherefore, teach them their multiplication-table, good Master Cheever, and whip them well when they deserve it; for much of the country’s welfare depends on these boys.

But, alas! while, we have been thinking of other matters, Master Cheever’s watchful eye has caught two boys at play. Now we shall see awful times. The two malefactors are summoned before the master’s chair, wherein he sits with the terror of a judge upon his brow. Our old chair is now a judgment-seat. Ah, Master Cheever has taken down that terrible birch rod! Short is the trial,—the sentence quickly passed,—and now the judge prepares to execute it in person. Thwack! thwack! thwack! In these good old times, a schoolmaster’s blows were well laid on.

See, the birch rod has lost several of its twigs, and will hardly serve for another execution. Mercy on his, what a bellowing the urchins make! My ears are almost deafened, though the clamor comes through the far length of a hundred and fifty years. There, go to your seats, poor boys; and do not cry, sweet little Alice, for they have ceased to feel the pain a long time since.

And thus the forenoon passes away. Now it is twelve o’clock. The master looks at his great silver watch, and then, with tiresome deliberation, puts the ferule into his desk. The little multitude await the word of dismissal with almost irrepressible impatience.

“You are dismissed,” says Master Cheever.

The boys retire, treading softly until they have passed the threshold; but, fairly out of the schoolroom, lo, what a joyous shout! what a scampering and trampling of feet! what a sense of recovered freedom expressed in the merry uproar of all their voices! What care they for the ferule and birch rod now? Were boys created merely to study Latin and arithmetic? No; the better purposes of their being are to sport, to leap, to run, to shout, to slide upon the ice, to snowball.

Happy boys! Enjoy your playtime now, and come again to study and to feel the birch rod and the ferule to-morrow; not till to-morrow; for to-day is Thursday lecture; and, ever since the settlement of Massachusetts, there has been no school on Thursday afternoons. Therefore sport, boys, while you may, for the morrow cometh, with the birch rod and the ferule; and after that another morrow, with troubles of its own.

Now the master has set everything to rights, and is ready to go home to dinner. Yet he goes reluctantly. The old man has spent so much of his life in the smoky, noisy, buzzing school-room, that, when he has a holiday, he feels as if his place were lost and himself a stranger in the world. But forth he goes; and there stands our old chair, vacant and solitary, till good Master Cheever resumes his seat in it to-morrow morning.

“Grandfather,” said Charley, “I wonder whether the boys did not use to upset the old chair when the schoolmaster was out.”

“There is a tradition,” replied Grandfather, “that one of its arms was dislocated in some such manner. But I cannot believe that any school-boy would behave so naughtily.”

As it was now later than little Alice’s usual bedtime, Grandfather broke off his narrative, promising to talk more about Master Cheever and his scholars some other evening.


Accordingly, the next evening, Grandfather resumed the history of his beloved chair.

“Master Ezekiel Cheever,” said he, “died in 1707, after having taught school about seventy years. It would require a pretty good scholar in arithmetic to tell how many stripes he had inflicted, and how many birch rods he had worn out, during all that time, in his fatherly tenderness for his pupils. Almost all the great men of that period, and for many years back, had been whipped into eminence by Master Cheever. Moreover, he had written a Latin Accidence, which was used in schools more than half a century after his death; so that the good old man, even in his grave, was still the cause of trouble and stripes to idle schoolboys.”

Grandfather proceeded to say, that, when Master Cheever died, he bequeathed the chair to the most learned man that was educated at his school, or that had ever been born in America. This was the renowned Cotton Mather, minister of the Old North Church in Boston.

“And author of the Magnalia, Grandfather, which we sometimes see you reading,” said Laurence.

“Yes, Laurence,” replied Grandfather. “The Magnalia is a strange, pedantic history, in which true events and real personages move before the reader with the dreamy aspect which they wore in Cotton Mather’s singular mind. This huge volume, however, was written and published before our chair came into his possession. But, as he was the author of more books than there are days in the year, we may conclude that he wrote a great deal while sitting in this chair.”

“I am tired of these schoolmasters and learned men,” said Charley. “I wish some stirring man, that knew how to do something in the world, like Sir William Phips, would sit in the chair.”

“Such men seldom have leisure to sit quietly in a chair,” said Grandfather. “We must make the best of such people as we have.”

As Cotton Mather was a very distinguished man, Grandfather took some pains to give the children a lively conception of his character. Over the door of his library were painted these words, BE SHORT,—as a warning to visitors that they must not do the world so much harm as needlessly to interrupt this great man’s wonderful labors. On entering the room you would probably behold it crowded, and piled, and heaped with books. There were huge, ponderous folios, and quartos, and little duodecimos, in English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldaic, and all other languages that either originated at the confusion of Babel or have since come into use.

All these books, no doubt, were tossed about in confusion, thus forming a visible emblem of the manner in which their contents were crowded into Cotton Mather’s brain. And in the middle of the room stood table, on which, besides printed volumes, were strewn manuscript sermons, historical tracts, and political pamphlets, all written in such a queer, blind, crabbed, fantastical hand, that a writing-master would have gone raving mad at the sight of them. By this table stood Grandfather’s chair, which seemed to have contracted an air of deep erudition, as if its cushion were stuffed with Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and other hard matters.

In this chair, from one year’s end to another, sat that prodigious bookworm, Cotton Mather, sometimes devouring a great book, and sometimes scribbling one as big. In Grandfather’s younger days there used to be a wax figure of him in one of the Boston museums, representing a solemn, dark-visaged person, in a minister’s black gown, and with a black-letter volume before him.

“It is difficult, my children,” observed Grandfather, “to make you understand such a character as Cotton Mather’s, in whom there was so much good, and yet so many failings and frailties. Undoubtedly he was a pious man. Often he kept fasts; and once, for three whole days, he allowed himself not a morsel of food, but spent the time in prayer and religious meditation. Many a live-long night did he watch and pray. These fasts and vigils made him meagre and haggard, and probably caused him to appear as if he hardly belonged to the world.”

“Was not the witchcraft delusion partly caused by Cotton Mather?” inquired Laurence.

“He was the chief agent of the mischief,” answered Grandfather; “but we will not suppose that he acted otherwise than conscientiously. He believed that there were evil spirits all about the world. Doubtless he imagined that they were hidden in the corners and crevices of his library, and that they peeped out from among the leaves of many of his books, as he turned them over, at midnight. He supposed that these unlovely demons were everywhere, in the sunshine as well as in the darkness, and that they were hidden in men’s hearts, and stole into their most secret thoughts.”

Here Grandfather was interrupted by little Alice, who hid her face in his lap, and murmured a wish that he would not talk any more about Cotton Mather and the evil spirits. Grandfather kissed her, and told her that angels were the only spirits whom she had anything to do with.

He then spoke of the public affairs of the period.

A new War between France and England had broken out in 1702, and had been raging ever since. In the course of it, New England suffered much injury from the French and Indians, who often came through the woods from Canada and assaulted the frontier towns. Villages were sometimes burned, and the inhabitants slaughtered, within a day’s ride of Boston. The people of New England had a bitter hatred against the French, not only for the mischief which they did with their own hands, but because they incited the Indians to hostility.

The New-Englanders knew that they could never dwell in security until the provinces of France should be subdued and brought under the English government. They frequently, in time of war, undertook military expeditions against Acadia and Canada, and sometimes besieged the fortresses by which those territories were defended. But the most earnest wish of their hearts was to take Quebec, and so get possession of the whole province of Canada. Sir William Phips had once attempted it, but without success.

Fleets and soldiers were often sent from England to assist the colonists in their warlike undertakings. In 1710 Port Royal, a fortress of Acadia, was taken by the English. The next year, in the month of June, a fleet, commanded by Admiral Sir Hovenden Walker, arrived in Boston Harbor. On board of this fleet was the English General Hill, with seven regiments of soldiers, who had been fighting under the Duke of Marlborough in Flanders. The government of Massachusetts was called upon to find provisions for the army and fleet, and to raise more men to assist in taking Canada.

What with recruiting and drilling of soldiers, there was now nothing but warlike bustle in the streets of Boston. The drum and fife, the rattle of arms, and the shouts of boys were heard from morning till night. In about a month the fleet set sail, carrying four regiments from New England and New York, besides the English soldiers. The whole army amounted to at least seven thousand men. They steered for the mouth of the river St. Lawrence.

“Cotton Mather prayed most fervently for their success,” continued Grandfather, “both in his pulpit and when he kneeled down in the solitude of his library, resting his face on our old chair. But Providence ordered the result otherwise. In a few weeks tidings were received that eight or nine of the vessels had been wrecked in the St. Lawrence, and that above a thousand drowned soldiers had been washed ashore on the banks of that mighty river. After this misfortune Sir Hovenden Walker set sail for England; and many pious people began to think it a sin even to wish for the conquest of Canada.”

“I would never give it up so,” cried Charley.

“Nor did they, as we shall see,” replied Grandfather. “However, no more attempts were made during this war, which came to a close in 1713. The people of New England were probably glad of some repose; for their young men had been made soldiers, till many of them were fit for nothing else. And those who remained at home had been heavily taxed to pay for the arms, ammunition; fortifications, and all the other endless expenses of a war. There was great need of the prayers of Cotton Mather and of all pious men, not only on account of the sufferings of the people, but because the old moral and religious character of New England was in danger of being utterly lost.”

“How glorious it would have been,” remarked Laurence, “if our forefathers could have kept the country unspotted with blood!”

“Yes,” said Grandfather; “but there was a stern, warlike spirit in them from the beginning. They seem never to have thought of questioning either the morality or piety of war.”

The next event which Grandfather spoke of was one that Cotton Mather, as well as most of the other inhabitants of New England, heartily rejoiced at. This was the accession of the Elector of Hanover to the throne of England, in 1714, on the death of Queen Anne. Hitherto the people had been in continual dread that the male line of the Stuarts, who were descended from the beheaded King Charles and the banished King James, would be restored to the throne.

“The importance of this event,” observed Grandfather, “was a thousand times greater than that of a Presidential election in our own days. If the people dislike their President, they may get rid of him in four years; whereas a dynasty of kings may wear the crown for an unlimited period.”

The German elector was proclaimed king from the balcony of the town-house in Boston, by the title of George I.; while the trumpets sounded and the people cried amen. That night the town was illuminated; and Cotton Mather threw aside book and pen, and left Grandfather’s chair vacant, while he walked hither and thither to witness the rejoicings.


“COTTON MATHER,” continued Grandfather, “was a bitter enemy to Governor Dudley; and nobody exulted more than he when that crafty politician was removed from the government, and succeeded by Colonel Shute. This took place in 1716. The new governor had been an officer in the renowned Duke of Marlborough’s army, and had fought in some of the great battles in Flanders.”

“Now I hope,” said Charley, “we shall hear of his doing great things.”

“I am afraid you will be disappointed, Charley,” answered Grandfather. “It is true that Colonel Shute had probably never led so unquiet a life while fighting the French as he did now, while governing this province of Massachusetts Bay. But his troubles consisted almost entirely of dissensions with the Legislature. The king had ordered him to lay claim to a fixed salary; but the representatives of the people insisted upon paying him only such sums from year to year as they saw fit.”

Grandfather here explained some of the circumstances that made the situation of a colonial governor so difficult and irksome. There was not the same feeling towards the chief magistrate now that had existed while he was chosen by the free suffrages of the people, it was felt that as the king appointed the governor, and as he held his office during the king’s pleasure, it would be his great object to please the king. But the people thought that a governor ought to have nothing in view but the best interests of those whom he governed.

“The governor,” remarked Grandfather, “had two masters to serve,—the king, who appointed him; and the people, on whom he depended for his pay. Few men in this position would have ingenuity enough to satisfy either party. Colonel Shute, though a good-natured, well-meaning man, succeeded so ill with the people, that, in 1722, he suddenly went away to England and made Complaint to King George. In the meantime Lieutenant-Governor Dummer directed the affairs of the province, and carried on a long and bloody war with the Indians.”

“But where was our chair all this time?” asked Clara.

“It still remained in Cotton Mather’s library,” replied Grandfather; “and I must not omit to tell you an incident which is very much to the honor of this celebrated man. It is the more proper, too, that you should hear it, because it will show you what a terrible calamity the smallpox was to our forefathers. The history of the province (and, of course, the history of our chair) would be incomplete without particular mention of it.”

Accordingly Grandfather told the children a story, to which, for want of a better title, we shall give that of The Rejected Blessing.

One day, in 1721, Doctor Cotton Mather sat in his library reading a book that had been published by the Royal Society of London. But every few moments he laid the book upon the table, and leaned back in Grandfather’s chair with an aspect of deep care and disquietude. There were certain things which troubled him exceedingly, so that he could hardly fix his thoughts upon what he read.

It was now a gloomy time in Boston. That terrible disease; the small-pox, had recently made its appearance in the town. Ever since the first settlement of the country this awful pestilence had come at intervals, and swept away multitudes of the inhabitants. Whenever it commenced its ravages, nothing seemed to stay its progress until there were no more victims for it to seize upon. Oftentimes hundreds of people at once lay groaning with its agony; and when it departed, its deep footsteps were always to be traced in many graves.

The people never felt secure from this calamity. Sometimes, perhaps, it was brought into the country by a poor sailor, who had caught the infection in foreign parts, and came hither to die and to be the cause of many deaths. Sometimes, no doubt, it followed in the train of the pompous governors when they came over from England. Sometimes the disease lay hidden in the cargoes of ships, among silks, and brocades, and other costly merchandise which was imported for the rich people to wear. And sometimes it started up seemingly of its own accord, and nobody could tell whence it came. The physician, being called to attend the sick person, would look at him, and say, “It is the small-pox! Let the patient be carried to the hospital.”

And now this dreadful sickness had shown itself again in Boston. Cotton Mather was greatly afflicted for the sake of the whole province. He had children, too, who were exposed to the danger. At that very moment he heard the voice of his youngest son, for whom his heart was moved with apprehension.

“Alas! I fear for that poor child,” said Cotton Mather to himself. “What shall I do for my son Samuel?”

Again he attempted to drive away these thoughts by taking up the book which he had been reading. And now, all of a sudden, his attention became fixed. The book contained a printed letter that an Italian physician had written upon the very subject about which Cotton Mather was so anxiously meditating. He ran his eye eagerly over the pages; and, behold! a method was disclosed to him by which the small-pox might be robbed of its worst terrors. Such a method was known in Greece. The physicians of Turkey, too, those long-bearded Eastern sages, had been acquainted with it for many years. The negroes of Africa, ignorant as they were, had likewise practised it, and thus had shown themselves wiser than the white men.

“Of a truth,” ejaculated Cotton Mather, clasping his hands and looking up to heaven, “it was a merciful Providence that brought this book under mine eye. I will procure a consultation of physicians, and see whether this wondrous inoculation may not stay the progress of the destroyer.”

So he arose from Grandfather’s chair and went out of the library. Near the door he met his son Samuel, who seemed downcast and out of spirits. The boy had heard, probably, that some of his playmates were taken ill with the small-pox. But, as his father looked cheerfully at him, Samuel took courage, trusting that either the wisdom of so learned a minister would find some remedy for the danger, or else that his prayers would secure protection from on high.

Meanwhile Cotton Mather took his staff and three-cornered hat and walked about the streets, calling at the houses of all the physicians in Boston. They were a very wise fraternity; and their huge wigs, and black dresses, and solemn visages made their wisdom appear even profounder than it was. One after another he acquainted them with the discovery which he had hit upon.

But the grave and sagacious personages would scarcely listen to him. The oldest doctor in town contented himself with remarking that no such thing as inoculation was mentioned by Galen or Hippocrates; and it was impossible that modern physicians should be wiser than those old sages. A second held up his hands in dumb astonishment and horror at the mad-ness of what Cotton Mather proposed to do. A third told him, in pretty plain terms, that he knew not what he was talking about. A fourth requested, in the name of the whole medical fraternity, that Cotton Mather would confine his attention to people’s souls, and leave the physicians to take care of their bodies. In short, there was but a single doctor among them all who would grant the poor minister so much as a patient hearing, This was Doctor Zabdiel Boylston. He looked into the matter like a man of sense, and finding, beyond a doubt, that inoculation had rescued many from death, he resolved to try the experiment in his own family.

And so he did. But when the other physicians heard of it they arose in great fury and began a war of words, written, printed, and spoken, against Cotton Mather and Doctor Boylston. To hear them talk, you would have supposed that these two harmless and benevolent men had plotted the ruin of the country.

The people, also, took the alarm. Many, who thought themselves more pious than their neighbors, contended that, if Providence had ordained them to die of the small-pox, it was sinful to aim at preventing it. The strangest reports were in circulation. Some said that Doctor Boylston had contrived a method for conveying the gout, rheumatism, sick-headache, asthma, and all other diseases from one person to another, and diffusing them through the whole community. Others flatly affirmed that the evil one had got possession of Cotton Mather, and was at the bottom of the whole business.

You must observe, children, that Cotton Mather’s fellow-citizens were generally inclined to doubt the wisdom of any measure which he might propose to them. They recollected how he had led them astray in the old witchcraft delusion; and now, if he thought and acted ever so wisely, it was difficult for him to get the credit of it.

The people’s wrath grew so hot at his attempt to guard them from the small-pox that he could not walk the streets in peace. Whenever the venerable form of the old minister, meagre and haggard with fasts and vigils, was seen approaching, hisses were heard, and shouts of derision, and scornful and bitter laughter. The women snatched away their children from his path, lest he should do them a mischief. Still, however, bending his head meekly, and perhaps stretching out his hands to bless those who reviled him, he pursued his way. But the tears came into his eyes to think how blindly the people rejected the means of safety that were offered them.

Indeed, there were melancholy sights enough in the streets of Boston to draw forth the tears of a compassionate man. Over the door of almost every dwelling a red flag was fluttering in the air. This was the signal that the small-pox had entered the house and attacked some member of the family; or perhaps the whole family, old and young, were struggling at once with the pestilence. Friends and relatives, when they met one another in the streets, would hurry onward without a grasp of the hand or scarcely a word of greeting, lest they should catch or communicate the contagion; and often a coffin was borne hastily along.

“Alas! alas!” said Cotton Mather to himself, “what shall be done for this poor, misguided people? Oh that Providence would open their eyes, and enable them to discern good from evil!”

So furious, however, were the people, that they threatened vengeance against any person who should dare to practise inoculation, though it were only in his own family. This was a hard case for Cotton Mather, who saw no other way to rescue his poor child Samuel from the disease. But he resolved to save him, even if his house should be burned over his head.

“I will not be turned aside,” said he. “My townsmen shall see that I have faith in this thing, when I make the experiment on my beloved son, whose life is dearer to me than my own. And when I have saved Samuel, peradventure they will be persuaded to save themselves.”

Accordingly Samuel was inoculated; and so was Mr. Walter, a son-in-law of Cotton Mather. Doctor Boyleston, likewise, inoculated many persons; and while hundreds died who had caught the contagion from the garments of the sick, almost all were preserved who followed the wise physician’s advice.

But the people were not yet convinced of their mistake. One night a destructive little instrument, called a hand-grenade, was thrown into Cotton Mather’s window, and rolled under Grandfather’s chair. It was supposed to be filled with gunpowder, the explosion of which would have blown the poor minister to atoms. But the best informed historians are of opinion that the grenade contained only brimstone and assafoetida, and was meant to plague Cotton Mather with a very evil perfume.

This is no strange thing in human experience. Men who attempt to do the world mere good than the world is able entirely to comprehend are almost invariably held in bad odor. But yet, if the wise and good man can wait awhile, either the present generation or posterity will do him justice. So it proved in the case which we have been speaking of. In after years, when inoculation was universally practised, and thousands were saved from death by it, the people remembered old Cotton Mather, then sleeping in his grave. They acknowledged that the very thing for which they had so reviled and persecuted him was the best and wisest thing he ever did.

“Grandfather, this is not an agreeable story,” observed Clara.

“No, Clara,” replied Grandfather. “But it is right that you should know what a dark shadow this disease threw over the times of our forefathers. And now, if you wish to learn more about Cotton Mather, you must read his biography, written by Mr. Peabody, of Springfield. You will find it very entertaining and instructive; but perhaps the writer is somewhat too harsh in his judgment of this singular man. He estimates him fairly, indeed, and understands him well; but he unriddles his character rather by acuteness than by sympathy. Now, his life should have been written by one who, knowing all his faults, would nevertheless love him.”

So Grandfather made an end of Cotton Mather, telling his auditors that he died in 1728, at the age of sixty-five, and bequeathed the chair to Elisha Cooke. This gentleman was a famous advocate of the people’s rights.

The same year William Burner, a son of the celebrated Bishop Burnet, arrived in Boston with the commission of governor. He was the first that had been appointed since the departure of Colonel Shute, Governor Burnet took up his residence with Mr. Cooke while the Province House was undergoing repairs. During this period he was always complimented with a seat in Grandfather’s chair; and so comfortable did he find it, that, on removing to the Province House, he could not bear to leave it behind him. Mr. Cooke, therefore, requested his acceptance of it.

“I should think,” said Laurence, “that the people would have petitioned the king always to appoint a native-born New-Englander to govern them.”

“Undoubtedly it was a grievance,” answered Grandfather, “to see men placed in this station who perhaps had neither talents nor virtues to fit them for it, and who certainly could have no natural affection for the country. The king generally bestowed the governorships of the American colonies upon needy noblemen, or hangers-on at court, or disbanded officers. The people knew that such persons would be very likely to make the good of the country subservient to the wishes of the king. The Legislature, therefore, endeavored to keep as much power as possible in their own hands, by refusing to settle a fixed salary upon the governors. It was thought better to pay them according to their deserts.”

“Did Governor Burner work well for his money?” asked Charley.

Grandfather could not help smiling at the simplicity of Charley’s question. Nevertheless, it put the matter in a very plain point of view.

He then described the character of Governor Bur-net, representing him as a good scholar, possessed of much ability, and likewise of unspotted integrity. His story affords a striking example how unfortunate it is for a man, who is placed as ruler over a country to be compelled to aim at anything but the good of the people. Governor Burnet was so chained down by his instructions from the king that he could not act as he might otherwise have wished. Consequently, his whole term of office was wasted in quarrels with the Legislature.

“I am afraid, children,” said Grandfather, “that Governor Burner found but little rest or comfort in our old chair. Here he used to sit, dressed in a coat which was made of rough, shaggy cloth outside, but of smooth velvet within. It was said that his own character resembled that coat; for his outward manner was rough, but his inward disposition soft and kind. It is a pity that such a man could not have been kept free from trouble. But so harassing were his disputes with the representatives of the people that he fell into a fever, of which he died in 1729. The Legislature had refused him a salary while alive; but they appropriated money enough to give him a splendid and pompous funeral.”

And now Grandfather perceived that little Alice had fallen fast asleep, with her head upon his footstool. Indeed, as Clara observed, she had been sleeping from the time of Sir Hovenden Walker’s expedition against Quebec until the death of Governor Burnet,—a period of about eighteen years. And yet, after so long a nap, sweet little Alice was a golden-haired child of scarcely five years old.

“It puts me in mind,” said Laurence, “of the story of the enchanted princess, who slept many a hundred years, and awoke as young and beautiful as ever.”


A FEW evenings afterwards, cousin Clara happened inquire of Grandfather whether the old chair had never been present at a ball. At the same time little Alice brought forward a doll, with whom she had been holding a long conversation.

“See, Grandfather!” cried she. “Did such a pretty lady as this ever sit in your great chair?”

These questions led Grandfather to talk about the fashions and manners which now began to be introduced from England into the provinces. The simplicity of the good old Puritan times was fast disappearing. This was partly owing to the increasing number and wealth of the inhabitants, and to the additions which they continually received by the arrival and settlement of people from beyond the sea.

Another cause of a pompous and artificial mode of life, among those who could afford it, was that the example was set by the royal governors. Under the old charter, the governors were the representatives of the people, and therefore their way of living had probably been marked by a popular simplicity. But now, as they represented the person of the king, they thought it necessary to preserve the dignity of their station by the practice of high and gorgeous ceremonials. And, besides, the profitable offices under the government were filled by men who had lived in London, and had there contracted fashionable and luxurious habits of living which they would not now lay aside. The wealthy people of the province imitated them; and thus began a general change in social life.

“So, my dear Clara,” said Grandfather, “after our chair had entered the Province House, it must often have been present at balls and festivals; though I cannot give you a description of any particular one. But I doubt not that they were very magnificent; and slaves in gorgeous liveries waited on the guests, and offered them wine in goblets of massive silver.”

“Were there slaves in those days!” exclaimed Clara.

“Yes, black slaves and white,” replied Grandfather. “Our ancestors not only brought negroes from Africa, but Indians from South America, and white people from Ireland. These last were sold, not for life, but for a certain number of years, in order to pay the expenses of their voyage across the Atlantic. Nothing was more common than to see a lot of likely Irish girls advertised for sale in the newspapers. As for the little negro babies, they were offered to be giver away like young kittens.”

“Perhaps Alice would have liked one to play with, instead of her doll,” said Charley, laughing.

But little Alice clasped the waxen doll closer to her bosom.

“Now, as for this pretty doll, my little Alice,” said Grandfather, “I wish you could have seen what splendid dresses the ladies wore in those times. They had silks, and satins, and damasks, and brocades, and high head-dresses, and all sorts of fine things. And they used to wear hooped petticoats of such enormous size that it was quite a journey to walk round them.”

“And how did the gentlemen dress?” asked Charley.

“With full as much magnificence as the ladies,” answered Grandfather. “For their holiday suits they had coats of figured velvet, crimson, green, blue, and all other gay colors, embroidered with gold or silver lace. Their waistcoats, which were five times as large as modern ones, were very splendid. Sometimes the whole waistcoat, which came down almost to the knees, was made of gold brocade.”

“Why, the wearer must have shone like a golden image!” said Clara.

“And then,” continued Grandfather, “they wore various sorts of periwigs, such as the tie, the Spencer, the brigadier, the major, the Albemarle, the Ramillies, the feather-top, and the full-bottom. Their three-cornered hats were laced with gold or silver. They had shining buckles at the knees of their small-clothes, and buckles likewise in their shoes. They wore swords with beautiful hilts, either of silver, or sometimes of polished steel, inlaid with gold.”

“Oh, I should like to wear a sword!” cried Charley.

“And an embroidered crimson velvet coat,” said Clara, laughing, “and a gold brocade waistcoat down to your knees.”

“And knee-buckles and shoe-buckles,” said Laurence, laughing also.

“And a periwig,” added little Alice, soberly, not knowing what was the article of dress which she recommended to our friend Charley.

Grandfather smiled at the idea of Charley’s sturdy little figure in such a grotesque caparison. He then went on with the history of the chair, and told the children that, in 1730, King George II. appointed Jonathan Belcher to be governor of Massachusetts in place of the deceased Governor Burner. Mr. Belcher was a native of the province, but had spent much of his life in Europe.

The new governor found Grandfather’s chair in the Province House. He was struck with its noble and stately aspect, but was of opinion that age and hard services had made it scarcely so fit for courtly company as when it stood in the Earl of Lincoln’s hall. Wherefore, as Governor Belcher was fond of splendor, he employed a skilful artist to beautify the chair. This was done by polishing and varnishing it, and by gilding the carved work of the elbows, and likewise the oaken flowers of the back. The lion’s head now shone like a veritable lump of gold. Finally Governor Belcher gave the chair a cushion of blue damask, with a rich golden fringe.

“Our good old chair being thus glorified,” proceeded Grandfather, “it glittered with a great deal more splendor than it had exhibited just a century before, when the Lady Arbella brought it over from England. Most people mistook it for a chair of the latest London fashion. And this may serve for an example, that there is almost always an old and timeworn substance under all the glittering show of new invention.”

“Grandfather, I cannot see any of the gilding,” remarked Charley, who had been examining the chair very minutely.

“You will not wonder that it has been rubbed off,” replied Grandfather, “when you hear all the adventures that have since befallen the chair. Gilded it was; and the handsomest room in the Province House was adorned by it.”

There was not much to interest the children in what happened during the years that Governor Belcher remained in the chair. At first, like Colonel Shute and Governor Burner, he was engaged in disputing with the Legislature about his salary. But, as he found it impossible to get a fixed sum, he finally obtained the king’s leave to accept whatever the Legislature chose to give him. And thus the people triumphed, after this long contest for the privilege of expending their own money as they saw fit.

The remainder of Governor Belcher’s term of office was principally taken up in endeavoring to settle the currency. Honest John Hull’s pine-tree shillings had long ago been worn out, or lost, or melted down again; and their place was supplied by bills of paper or parchment, which were nominally valued at threepence and upwards. The value of these bills kept continually sinking, because the real hard money could not be obtained for them. They were a great deal worse than the old Indian currency of clam-shells. These disorders of the circulating medium were a source of endless plague and perplexity to the rulers and legislators, not only in Governor Belcher’s days, but for many years before and afterwards.

Finally the people suspected that Governor Belcher was secretly endeavoring to establish the Episcopal mode of worship in the provinces. There was enough of the old Puritan spirit remaining to cause most of the true sons of New England to look with horror upon such an attempt. Great exertions were made to induce the king to remove the governor. Accordingly, in 1740, he was compelled to resign his office, and Grandfather’s chair into the bargain, to Mr. Shirley.


“WILLIAM SHIRLEY,” said Grandfather, “had come from England a few years before, and begun to practise law in Boston. You will think, perhaps, that, as he had been a lawyer, the new governor used to sit in our great chair reading heavy law-books from morning till night. On the contrary, he was as stirring and active a governor as Massachusetts ever had. Even Sir William Phips hardly equalled him. The first year or two of his administration was spent in trying to regulate the currency. But in 1744, after a peace of more than thirty years, war broke out between France and England.”

“And I suppose,” said Charley, “the governor went to take Canada.”

“Not exactly, Charley,” said Grandfather; “though you have made a pretty shrewd conjecture. He planned, in 1745, an expedition against Louisburg. This was a fortified city, on the island of Cape Breton, near Nova Scotia. Its walls were of immense height and strength, and were defended by hundreds of heavy cannon. It was the strongest fortress which the French possessed in America; and if the king of France had guessed Governor Shirley’s intentions, he would have sent all the ships he could muster to protect it.”

As the siege of Louisburg was one of the most remarkable events that ever the inhabitants of New England were engaged in, Grandfather endeavored to give his auditors a lively idea of the spirit with which they set about it. We shall call his description The Provincial Muster.

The expedition against Louisburg first began to be thought of in the month of January. From that time the governor’s chair was continually surrounded by councillors, representatives, clergymen, captains, pilots, and all manner of people, with whom he consulted about this wonderful project.

First of all, it was necessary to provide men and arms. The Legislature immediately sent out a huge quantity of paper-money, with which, as if by magic spell, the governor hoped to get possession of all the old cannon, powder and balls, rusty swords and muskets, and everything else that would be serviceable in killing Frenchmen. Drums were beaten in all the villages of Massachusetts to enlist soldiers for the service. Messages were sent to the other governors of New England, and to New York and Pennsylvania, entreating them to unite in this crusade against the French. All these provinces agreed to give what assistance they could.

But there was one very important thing to be decided. Who shall be the general of this great army? Peace had continued such an unusual length of time that there was now less military experience among the colonists than at any former period. The old Puritans had always kept their weapons bright, and were never destitute of warlike captains who were skilful in assault or defence. But the swords of their descendents had grown rusty by disuse. There was nobody in New England that knew anything about sieges or any other regular fighting. The only persons at all acquainted with warlike business were a few elderly men, who had hunted Indians through the underbrush of the forest in old Governor Dummer’s War.

In this dilemma Governor Shirley fixed upon a wealthy merchant, named William Pepperell, who was pretty well known and liked among the people. As to military skill, he had no more of it than his neighbors. But, as the governor urged him very pressingly, Mr. Pepperell consented to shut up his ledger, gird on a sword, and assume the title of general.

Meantime, what a hubbub was raised by this scheme! Rub-a-dub-dub! rub-a-dub-dub! The rattle of drums, beaten out of all manner of time, was heard above every other sound.

Nothing now was so valuable as arms, of whatever style and fashion they might be. The bellows blew, and the hammer clanged continually upon the anvil, while the blacksmiths were repairing the broken weapons of other wars. Doubtless some of the soldiers lugged out those enormous, heavy muskets which used to be fired, with rests, in the time of the early Puritans. Great horse-pistols, too, were found, which would go off with a bang like a cannon. Old cannon, with touchholes almost as big as their muzzles, were looked upon as inestimable treasures. Pikes which, perhaps, had been handled by Miles Standish’s soldiers, now made their appearance again. Many a young man ransacked the garret and brought forth his great-grandfather’s sword, corroded with rust and stained with the blood of King Philip’s War.

Never had there been such an arming as this, when a people, so long peaceful, rose to the war with the best weapons that they could lay their hands upon. And still the drums were heard—rub-a-dub-dub! rub-a-dub-dub!—in all the towns and villages; and louder and more numerous grew the trampling footsteps of the recruits that marched behind.

And now the army began to gather into Boston. Tan, lanky, awkward fellows came in squads, and companies, and regiments, swaggering along, dressed in their brown homespun clothes and blue yarn stockings. They stooped as if they still had hold of the plough-handles, and marched without any time or tune. Hither they came, from the cornfields, from the clearing in the forest, from the blacksmith’s forge, from the carpenter’s workshop, and from the shoemaker’s seat. They were an army of rough faces and sturdy frames. A trained officer of Europe would have laughed at them till his sides had ached. But there was a spirit in their bosoms which is more essential to soldiership than to wear red coats and march in stately ranks to the sound of regular music.

Still was heard the beat of the drum,—rub-a-dub-dub! And now a host of three or four thousand men had found their way to Boston. Little quiet was there then! Forth scampered the school-boys, shouting behind the drums. The whole town, the whole land, was on fire with war.

After the arrival of the troops, they were probably reviewed upon the Common. We may imagine Governor Shirley and General Pepperell riding slowly along the line, while the drummers beat strange old tunes, like psalm-tunes, and all the officers and soldiers put on their most warlike looks. It would have been a terrible sight for the Frenchmen, could they but have witnessed it!

At length, on the 24th of March, 1745, the army gave a parting shout, and set sail from Boston in ten or twelve vessels which had been hired by the governor. A few days afterwards an English fleet, commanded by Commodore Peter Warren, sailed also for Louisburg to assist the provincial army. So now, after all this bustle of preparation, the town and province were left in stillness and repose.

But stillness and repose, at such a time of anxious expectation, are hard to bear. The hearts of the old people and women sunk within them when they reflected what perils they had sent their sons, and husbands, and brothers to encounter. The boys loitered heavily to School, missing the rub-a-dub-dub and the trampling march, in the rear of which they had so lately run and shouted. All the ministers prayed earnestly in their pulpits for a blessing on the army of New England. In every family, when the good man lifted up his heart in domestic worship, the burden of his petition was for the safety of those dear ones who were fighting under the walls of Louisburg.

Governor Shirley all this time was probably in an ecstasy of impatience. He could not sit still a moment. He found no quiet, not even in Grandfather’s chair; but hurried to and fro, and up and down the staircase of the Province House. Now he mounted to the cupola and looked seaward, straining his eyes to discover if there were a sail upon the horizon. Now he hastened down the stairs, and stood beneath the portal, on the red free-stone steps, to receive some mud-bespattered courier, from whom he hoped to hear tidings of the army. A few weeks after the departure of the troops, Commodore Warren sent a small vessel to Boston with two French prisoners. One of them was Monsieur Bouladrie, who had been commander of a battery outside the walls of Louisburg. The other was the Marquis de la Maison Forte, captain of a French frigate which had been taken by Commodore Warren’s fleet. These prisoners assured Governor Shirley that the fortifications of Louisburg were far too strong ever to be stormed by the provincial army.

Day after day and week after week went on. The people grew almost heart-sick with anxiety; for the flower of the country was at peril in this adventurous expedition. It was now daybreak on the morning of the 3d of July.

But hark! what sound is this? The hurried clang of a bell! There is the Old North pealing suddenly out!—there the Old South strikes in!—now the peal comes from the church in Brattle Street!—the bells of nine or ten steeples are all flinging their iron voices at once upon the morning breeze! Is it joy, or alarm? There goes the roar of a cannon too! A royal salute is thundered forth. And now we hear the loud exulting shout of a multitude assembled in the street. Huzza! huzza! Louisburg has surrendered! Huzza!

“O Grandfather, how glad I should have been to live in those times!” cried Charley. “And what reward did the king give to General Pepperell and Governor Shirley?”

“He made Pepperell a baronet; so that he was now to be called Sir William Pepperell,” replied Grandfather. “He likewise appointed both Pepperell and Shirley to be colonels in the royal army. These rewards, and higher ones, were well deserved; for this was the greatest triumph that the English met with in the whole course of that war. General Pepperell became a man of great fame. I have seen a full-length portrait of him, representing him in a splendid scarlet uniform, standing before the walls of Louisburg, while several bombs are falling through the air.”

“But did the country gain any real good by the conquest of Louisburg?” asked Laurence. “Or was all the benefit reaped by Pepperell and Shirley?”

“The English Parliament,” replied Grandfather, “agreed to pay the colonists for all the expenses of the siege. Accordingly, in 1749, two hundred and fifteen chests of Spanish dollars and one hundred casks of copper coin were brought from England to Boston. The whole amount was about a million of dollars. Twenty-seven carts and trucks carried this money from the wharf to the provincial treasury. Was not this a pretty liberal reward?”

“The mothers of the young men who were killed at the siege of Louisburg would not have thought it so,” said Laurence.

“No; Laurence,” rejoined Grandfather; “and every warlike achievement involves an amount of physical and moral evil, for which all the gold in the Spanish mines would not be the slightest recompense. But we are to consider that this siege was one of the occasions on which the colonists tested their ability for war, and thus were prepared for the great contest of the Revolution. In that point of view, the valor of our forefathers was its own reward.”

Grandfather went on to say that the success of the expedition against Louisburg induced Shirley and Pepperell to form a scheme for conquering Canada, This plan, however, was not carried into execution.

In the year 1746 great terror was excited by the arrival of a formidable French fleet upon the coast It was commanded by the Duke d’Anville, and consisted of forty ships of war, besides vessels with soldiers on board. With this force the French intended to retake Louisburg, and afterwards to ravage the whole of New England. Many people were ready to give up the country for lost.

But the hostile fleet met with so many disasters and losses by storm and shipwreck, that the Duke d’Anville is said to have poisoned himself in despair. The officer next in command threw himself upon his sword and perished. Thus deprived of their commanders, the remainder of the ships returned to France. This was as great a deliverance for New England as that which Old England had experienced in the days of Queen Elizabeth, when the Spanish Armada was wrecked upon her coast.

“In 1747,” proceeded Grandfather, “Governor Shirley was driven from the Province House, not by a hostile fleet and army, but by a mob of the Boston people. They were so incensed at the conduct of the British Commodore Knowles, who had impressed some of their fellow-citizens, that several thousands of them surrounded the council chamber and threw stones and brickbats into the windows. The governor attempted to pacify them; but not succeeding, he thought it necessary to leave the town and take refuge within the walls of Castle William. Quiet was not restored until Commodore Knowles had sent back the impressed men. This affair was a flash of spirit that might have warned the English not to venture upon any oppressive measures against their colonial brethren.”

Peace being declared between France and England in 1748, the governor had now an opportunity to sit at his ease in Grandfather’s chair. Such repose, however, appears not to have suited his disposition; for in the following year he went to England, and thence was despatched to France on public business. Meanwhile, as Shirley had not resigned his office, Lieu-tenant-Governor Phips acted as chief magistrate in his stead.


IN the early twilight of Thanksgiving Eve came Laurence, and Clara, and Charley, and little Alice, hand in hand, and stood in a semicircle round Grandfather’s chair. They had been joyous throughout that day of festivity, mingling together in all kinds of play, so that the house had echoed with their airy mirth.

Grandfather, too, had been happy though not mirthful. He felt that this was to be set down as one of the good Thanksgivings of his life. In truth, all his former Thanksgivings had borne their part in the present one; for his years of infancy, and youth, and manhood, with their blessings and their griefs, had flitted before him while he sat silently in the great chair. Vanished scenes had been pictured in the air. The forms of departed friends had visited him. Voices to be heard no more on earth had sent an echo from the infinite and the eternal. These shadows, if such they were, seemed almost as real to him as what was actually present,—as the merry shouts and laughter of the children,—as their figures, dancing like sunshine before his eyes.

He felt that the past was not taken from him. The happiness of former days was a possession forever. And there was something in the mingled sorrow of his lifetime that became akin to happiness, after being long treasured in the depths of his heart. There it underwent a change, and grew more precious than pure gold.

And now came the children, somewhat aweary with their wild play, and sought the quiet enjoyment of Grandfather’s talk. The good old gentleman rubbed his eyes and smiled round upon them all. He was glad, as most aged people are, to find that he was yet of consequence, and could give pleasure to the world. After being so merry all day long, did these children desire to hear his sober talk? Oh, then, old Grandfather had yet a place to fill among living men,—or at least among boys and girls!

“Begin quick, Grandfather,” cried little Alice; “for pussy wants to hear you.”

And truly our yellow friend, the cat, lay upon the hearth-rug, basking in the warmth of the fire, pricking up her ears, and turning her head from the children to Grandfather, and from Grandfather to the children as if she felt herself very sympathetic with them all. A loud purr, like the singing of a tea-kettle or the hum of a spinning-wheel, testified that she was as comfortable and happy as a cat could be. For puss had feasted; and therefore, like Grandfather and the children, had kept a good Thanksgiving.

“Does pussy want to hear me?” said Grandfathers smiling. “Well, we must please pussy, if we can.”

And so he took up the history of the chair from the epoch of the peace of 1748. By one of the provisions of the treaty, Louisburg, which the New-Englanders had been at so much pains to take, was restored to the King of France.

The French were afraid that, unless their colonies should be better defended than heretofore, another war might deprive them of the whole. Almost as soon as peace was declared, therefore, they began to build strong fortifications in the interior of North America. It was strange to behold these warlike castles on the banks of solitary lakes and far in the midst of woods. The Indian, paddling his birch canoe on Lake Champlain, looked up at the high ramparts of Ticonderoga, stone piled on stone, bristling with cannon, and the white flag of France floating above. There were similar fortifications on Lake Ontario, and near the great Falls of Niagara, and at the sources of the Ohio River. And all around these forts and castles lay the eternal forest, and the roll of the drum died away in those deep solitudes.

The truth was, that the French intended to build forts all the way from Canada to Louisiana. They would then have had a wall of military strength at the back of the English settlements so as completely to hem them in. The King of England considered the building of these forts as a sufficient cause of war, which was accordingly commenced in 1754.

“Governor Shirley,” said Grandfather, “had returned to Boston in 1753. While in Paris he had married a second wife, a young French girl, and now brought her to the Province House. But when war was breaking out it was impossible for such a bustling man to stay quietly at home, sitting in our old chair, with his wife and children, round about him. He therefore obtained a command in the English forces.”

“And what did Sir William Pepperell do?” asked Charley.

“He stayed at home,” said Grandfather, “and was general of the militia. The veteran regiments of the English army which were now sent across the Atlantic would have scorned to fight under the orders of an old American merchant. And now began what aged people call the old French War. It would be going too far astray from the history of our chair to tell you one half of the battles that were fought. I cannot even allow myself to describe the bloody defeat of General Braddock, near the sources of the Ohio River, in 1755. But I must not omit to mention that, when the English general was mortally wounded and his army routed, the remains of it were preserved by the skill and valor of George Washington.”

At the mention of this illustrious name the children started as if a sudden sunlight had gleamed upon the history of their country, now that the great deliverer had arisen above the horizon.

Among all the events of the old French War, Grandfather thought that there was none more interesting than the removal of the inhabitants of Acadia. From the first settlement of this ancient province of the French, in 1604, until the present time, its people could scarcely ever know what kingdom held dominion over them. They were a peaceful race, taking no delight in warfare, and caring nothing for military renown. And yet, in every war, their region was infested with iron-hearted soldiers, both French and English, who fought one another for the privilege of ill-treating these poor, harmless Acadians. Sometimes the treaty of peace made them subjects of one king, sometimes of another.

At the peace of 1748 Acadia had been ceded to England. But the French still claimed a large portion of it, and built forts for its defence. In 1755 these forts were taken, and the whole of Acadia was conquered by three thousand men from Massachusetts, under the command of General Winslow. The inhabitants were accused of supplying the French with provisions, and of doing other things that violated their neutrality.

“These accusations were probably true,” observed Grandfather; “for the Acadians were descended from the French, and had the same friendly feelings towards them that the people of Massachusetts had for the English. But their punishment was severe. The English determined to tear these poor people from their native homes and scatter them abroad.”

The Acadians were about seven thousand in number. A considerable part of them were made prisoners, and transported to the English colonies. All their dwellings and churches were burned, their cattle were killed, and the whole country was laid waste, so that none of them might find shelter or food in their old homes after the departure of the English. One thousand of the prisoners were sent to Massachusetts; and Grandfather allowed his fancy to follow them thither, and tried to give his auditors an idea of their situation.

We shall call this passage the story of


A sad day it was for the poor Acadians when the armed soldiers drove them, at the point of the bayonet, down to the sea-shore. Very sad were they, likewise, while tossing upon the ocean in the crowded transport vessels. But methinks it must have been sadder still when they were landed on the Long Wharf in Boston, and left to themselves on a foreign strand.

Then, probably, they huddled together and looked into one another’s faces for the comfort which was not there. Hitherto they had been confined on board of separate vessels, so that they could not tell whether their relatives and friends were prisoners along with them. But now, at least, they could tell that many had been left behind or transported to other regions.

Now a desolate wife might be heard calling for her husband. He, alas! had gone, she knew not whither; or perhaps had fled into the woods of Acadia, and had now returned to weep over the ashes of their dwelling.

An aged widow was crying out in a querulous, lamentable tone for her son, whose affectionate toil had supported her for many a. year. He was not in the crowd of exiles; and what could this aged widow do but sink down and die? Young men and maidens, whose hearts had been torn asunder by separation, had hoped, during the voyage, to meet their beloved ones at its close. Now they began to feel that they were separated forever. And perhaps a lonesome little girl, a golden-haired child of five years old, the very picture of our little Alice, was weeping and wailing for her mother, and found not a soul to give her a kind word.

Oh, how many broken bonds of affection were here! Country lost,—friends lost,—their rural wealth of cottage, field, and herds all lost together! Every tie between these poor exiles and the world seemed to be cut off at once. They must have regretted that they had not died before their exile; for even the English would not have been so pitiless as to deny them graves in their native soil. The dead were happy; for they were not exiles!

While they thus stood upon the wharf, the curiosity and inquisitiveness of the New England people would naturally lead them into the midst of the poor Acadians. Prying busybodies thrust their heads into the circle wherever two or three of the exiles were conversing together. How puzzled did they look at the outlandish sound of the French tongue! There were seen the New England women, too. They had just come out of their warm, safe homes, where everything was regular and comfortable, and where their husbands and children would be with them at nightfall. Surely they could pity the wretched wives and mothers of Acadia! Or aid the sign of the cross which the Acadians continually made upon their breasts, and which was abhorred by the descendants of the Puritans,—did that sign exclude all pity?

Among the spectators, too, was the noisy brood of Boston school-boys, who came running, with laughter and shouts, to gaze at this crowd of oddly dressed foreigners. At first they danced and capered around them, full of merriment and mischief. But the despair of the Acadians soon had its effect upon these thoughtless lads, and melted them into tearful sympathy.

At a little distance from the throng might be seen the wealthy and pompous merchants whose warehouses stood on Long Wharf. It was difficult to touch these rich men’s hearts; for they had all the comforts of the world at their command; and when they walked abroad their feelings were seldom moved, except by the roughness of the pavement irritating their gouty toes. Leaning upon their gold-headed canes, they watched the scene with an aspect of composure. But let us hype they distributed some of their superfluous coin among these hapless exiles to purchase food and a night’s lodging.

After standing a long time at the end of the wharf, gazing seaward, as if to catch a glimpse of their lost Acadia, the strangers began to stray into the town.

They went, we will suppose, in parties and groups, here a hundred, there a score, there ten, there three or four, who possessed some bond of unity among themselves. Here and there was one who, utterly desolate, stole away by himself, seeking no companionship.

Whither did they go? I imagine them wandering about the streets, telling the townspeople, in outlandish, unintelligible words, that no earthly affliction ever equalled what had befallen them. Man’s brotherhood with man was sufficient to make the New-Englanders understand this language. The strangers wanted food. Some of them sought hospitality at the doors of the stately mansions which then stood in the vicinity of Hanover Street and the North Square. Others were applicants at the humble wooden tenements, where dwelt the petty shopkeepers and mechanics. Pray Heaven that no family in Boston turned one of these poor exiles from their door! It would be a reproach upon New England,—a crime worthy of heavy retribution,—if the aged women and children, or even the strong men, were allowed to feel the pinch of hunger.

Perhaps some of the Acadians, in their aimless wanderings through the town, found themselves near a large brick edifice, which was fenced in from the street by an iron railing, wrought with fantastic figures. They saw a flight of red freestone steps ascending to a portal, above which was a balcony and balustrade. Misery and desolation give men the right of free passage everywhere. Let us suppose, then, that they mounted the flight of steps and passed into the Province House. Making their way into one of the apartments, they beheld a richly-clad gentleman, seated in a stately chair, with gilding upon the carved work of its back, and a gilded lion’s head at the summit. This was Governor Shirley, meditating upon matters of war and state, in Grandfather’s chair!

If such an incident did happen, Shirley, reflecting what a ruin of peaceful and humble hopes had been wrought by the cold policy of the statesman and the iron band of the warrior, might have drawn a deep moral from it. It should have taught him that the poor man’s hearth is sacred, and that armies and nations have no right to violate it. It should have made him feel that England’s triumph and increased dominion could not compensate to mankind nor atone to Heaven for the ashes of a single Acadian cottage. But it is not thus that statesmen and warriors moralize.

“Grandfather,” cried Laurence, with emotion trembling in his voice, “did iron-hearted War itself ever do so hard and cruel a thing as this before?”

“You have read in history, Laurence, of whole regions wantonly laid waste,” said Grandfather. “In the removal of the Acadians, the troops were guilty of no cruelty or outrage, except what was inseparable from the measure.”

Little Alice, whose eyes had all along been brimming full of tears, now burst forth a-sobbing; for Grandfather had touched her sympathies more than he intended.

“To think of a whole people homeless in the world!” said Clara, with moistened eyes. “There never was anything so sad!”

“It was their own fault!” cried Charley, energetically. “Why did not they fight for the country where they were born? Then, if the worst had happened to them, they could only have been killed and buried there. They would not have been exiles then.”

“Certainly their lot was as hard as death,” said Grandfather. “All that could be done for them in the English provinces was, to send them to the almshouses, or bind them out to taskmasters. And this was the fate of persons who had possessed a comfortable property in their native country. Some of them found means to embark for France; but though it was the land of their forefathers, it must have been a foreign land to them. Those who remained behind always cherished a belief that the King of France would never make peace with England till his poor Acadians were restored to their country and their homes.”

“And did he?” inquired Clara.

“Alas! my dear Clara,” said Grandfather, “it is improbable that the slightest whisper of the woes of Acadia ever reached the ears of Louis XV. The exiles grew old in the British provinces, and never saw Acadia again. Their descendants remain among us to this day. They have forgotten the language of their ancestors, and probably retain no tradition of their misfortunes. But, methinks, if I were an American poet, I would choose Acadia for the subject of my song.”

Since Grandfather first spoke these words, the most famous of American poets has drawn sweet tears from all of us by his beautiful poem Evangeline.

And now, having thrown a gentle gloom around the Thanksgiving fireside by a story that made the children feel the blessing of a secure and peaceful hearth, Grandfather put off the other events of the old French War till the next evening.


IN the twilight of the succeeding eve, when the red beams of the fire were dancing upon the wall, the children besought Grandfather to tell them what had next happened to the old chair.

“Our chair,” said Grandfather, “stood all this time in the Province House. But Governor Shirley had seldom an opportunity to repose within its arms. He was leading his troops through the forest, or sailing in a flat-boat on Lake Ontario, or sleeping in his tent, while the awful cataract of Niagara sent its roar through his dreams. At one period, in the early part of the war, Shirley had the chief command of all the king’s forces in America.”

“Did his young wife go with him to the war?” asked Clara.

“I rather imagine,” replied Grandfather, “that she remained in Boston. This lady, I suppose, had our chair all to herself, and used to sit in it during those brief intervals when a young Frenchwoman can be quiet enough to sit in a chair. The people of Massachusetts were never fond of Governor Shirley’s young French wife. They had a suspicion that she betrayed the military plans of the English to the generals of the French armies.”

“And was it true?” inquired Clara.

“Probably not,” said Grandfather. “But the mere suspicion did Shirley a great deal of harm. Partly, perhaps, for this reason, but much more on account of his inefficiency as a general, he was deprived of his command in 1756, and recalled to England. He never afterwards made any figure in public life.”

As Grandfather’s chair had no locomotive properties, and did not even run on castors, it cannot be supposed to have marched in person to the old French War. But Grandfather delayed its momentous history while he touched briefly upon some of the bloody battles, sieges, and onslaughts, the tidings of which kept continually coming to the ears of the old inhabitants of Boston. The woods of the North were populous with fighting men. All the Indian tribes uplifted their tomahawks, and took part either with the French or English. The rattle of musketry and roar of cannon disturbed the ancient quiet of the forest, and actually drove the bears and other wild beasts to the more cultivated portion of the country in the vicinity of the seaports. The children felt as if they were transported back to those forgotten times, and that the couriers from the army, with the news of a battle lost or won, might even now be heard galloping through the streets. Grandfather told them about the battle of Lake George in 1755, when the gallant Colonel Williams, a Massachusetts officer, was slain, with many of his countrymen. But General Johnson and General Lyman, with their army, drove back the enemy and mortally wounded the French leader, who was called the Baron Dieskau. A gold watch, pilfered from the poor baron, is still in existence, and still marks each moment of time without complaining of weariness, although its hands have been in motion ever since the hour of battle.

In the first years of the war there were many disasters on the English side. Among these was the loss of Fort Oswego in 1756, and of Fort William Henry in the following year. But the greatest misfortune that befell the English during the whole war was the repulse of General Abercrombie, with his army, from the ramparts of Ticonderoga in 1758. He attempted to storm the walls; but a terrible conflict ensued, in which more than two thousand Englishmen and New-Englanders were killed or wounded. The slain soldiers now lie buried around that ancient fortress. When the plough passes over the soil, it turns up here and there a mouldering bone.

Up to this period, none of the English generals had shown any military talent. Shirley, the Earl of Loudon, and General Abercrombie had each held the chief command at different times; but not one of them had won a single important triumph for the British arms. This ill success was not owing to the want of means: for, in 1758, General Abercrombie had fifty thousand soldiers under his command. But the French general, the famous Marquis de Montcalm, possessed a great genius for war, and had something within him that taught him how battles were to be won.

At length, in 1759, Sir Jeffrey Amherst was appointed commander-in-chief of all the British forces in America. He was a man of ability and a skilful soldier. A plan was now formed for accomplishing that object which had so long been the darling wish of the New-Englanders, and which their fathers had so many times attempted. This was the conquest of Canada.

Three separate armies were to enter Canada from different quarters. One of the three, commanded by General Prideaux, was to embark on Lake Ontario and proceed to Montreal. The second, at the head of which was Sir Jeffrey Amherst himself, was destined to reach the river St. Lawrence by the way of Lake Champlain, and then go down the river to meet the third army. This last, led by General Wolfe, was to enter the St. Lawrence from the sea and ascend the river to Quebec. It is to Wolfe and his army that England owes one of the most splendid triumphs ever written in her history.

Grandfather described the siege of Quebec, and told how Wolfe led his soldiers up a rugged and lofty precipice, that rose from the shore of the river to the plain on which the city stood. This bold adventure was achieved in the darkness of night. At daybreak tidings were carried to the Marquis de Montcalm that the English army was waiting to give him battle on the Plains of Abraham. This brave French general ordered his drums to strike up, and immediately marched to encounter Wolfe.

He marched to his own death. The battle was the most fierce and terrible that had ever been fought in America. General Wolfe was at the head of his soldiers, and, while encouraging them onward, received a mortal wound. He reclined against a stone in the agonies of death; but it seemed as if his spirit could not pass away while the fight yet raged so doubtfully. Suddenly a shout came pealing across the battle-field. “They flee! they flee!” and, for a moment, Wolfe lifted his languid head. “Who flee?” he inquired.

“The French,” replied an officer. “Then I die satisfied!” said Wolfe, and expired in the arms of victory.

“If ever a warrior’s death were glorious, Wolfe’s was so,” said Grandfather; and his eye kindled, though he was a man of peaceful thoughts and gentle spirit. “His life-blood streamed to baptize the soil which he had added to the dominion of Britain. His dying breath was mingled with his army’s shout of victory.”

“Oh, it was a good death to die!” cried Charley, with glistening eyes. “Was it not a good death, Laurence?”

Laurence made no reply; for his heart burned within him, as the picture of Wolfe, dying on the blood-stained field of victory, arose to his imagination; and yet he had a deep inward consciousness that, after all, there was a truer glory than could thus be won.

“There were other battles in Canada after Wolfe’s victory,” resumed Grandfather; “but we may consider the old French War as having terminated with this great event. The treaty of peace, however, was not signed until 1763. The terms of the treaty were very disadvantageous to the French; for all Canada, and all Acadia, and the Island of Cape Breton,—in short, all the territories that France and England had been fighting about for nearly a hundred years,—were surrendered to the English.”

“So now, at last,” said Laurence, “New England had gained her wish. Canada was taken.”

“And now there was nobody to fight with but the Indians,” said Charley.

Grandfather mentioned two other important events. The first was the great fire of Boston in 1760, when the glare from nearly three hundred buildings, all in flames at once, shone through the windows of the Province House, and threw a fierce lustre upon the gilded foliage and lion’s head of our old chair. The second event was the proclamation, in the same year, of George III. as King of Great Britain. The blast of the trumpet sounded from the balcony of the Town House, and awoke the echoes far and wide, as if to challenge all mankind to dispute King George’s title.

Seven times, as the successive monarchs of Britain ascended the throne, the trumpet peal of proclamation had been heard by those who sat in our venerable chair. But when the next king put on his father’s crown, no trumpet peal proclaimed it to New England. Long before that day America had shaken off the royal government.


NOW THAT Grandfather had fought through the old French War, in which our chair made no very distinguished figure, he thought it high time to tell the children some of the more private history of that praiseworthy old piece of furniture.

“In 1757,” said Grandfather, “after Shirley had been summoned to England, Thomas Pownall was appointed governor of Massachusetts. He was a gay and fashionable English gentleman, who had spent much of his life in London, but had a considerable acquaintance with America. The new governor appears to have taken no active part in the war that was going on; although, at one period, he talked of marching against the enemy at the head of his company of cadets. But, on the whole, he probably concluded that it was more befitting a governor to remain quietly in our chair, reading the newspapers and official documents.”

“Did the people like Pownall?” asked Charley.

“They found no fault with him,” replied Grandfather. “It was no time to quarrel with the governor when the utmost harmony was required in order to defend the country against the French. But Pownall did not remain long in Massachusetts. In 1759 he was sent to be governor of South Carolina. In thus exchanging one government for another, I suppose he felt no regret, except at the necessity of leaving Grandfather’s chair behind him.”

“He might have taken it to South Carolina,” observed Clara.

“It appears to me,” said Laurence, giving the rein to his fancy, “that the fate of this ancient chair was, somehow or other, mysteriously connected with the fortunes of old Massachusetts. If Governor Pownall had put it aboard the vessel in which he sailed for South Carolina, she would probably have lain wind-bound in Boston Harbor. It was ordained that the chair should not be taken away. Don’t you think so, Grandfather?”

“It was kept here for Grandfather and me to sit in together,” said little Alice, “and for Grandfather to tell stories about.”

“And Grandfather is very glad of such a companion and such a theme,” said the old gentleman, with a smile. “Well, Laurence, if our oaken chair, like the wooden palladium of Troy, was connected with the country’s fate, yet there appears to have been no supernatural obstacle to its removal from the Province House. In 1760 Sir Francis Bernard, who had been’ governor of New Jersey, was appointed to the same office in Massachusetts. He looked at the old chair, and thought it quite too shabby to keep company with a new set of mahogany chairs and an aristocratic sofa which had just arrived from London. He therefore ordered it to be put away in the garret.”

The children were loud in their exclamations against this irreverent conduct of Sir Francis Bernard. But Grandfather defended him as well as he could. He observed that it was then thirty years since the chair had been beautified by Governor Belcher. Most of the gilding was worn off by the frequent scourings which it had undergone beneath the hands of a black slave. The damask cushion, once so splendid, was now squeezed out of all shape, and absolutely in tatters, so many were the ponderous gentlemen who had deposited their weight upon it during these thirty years.

Moreover, at a council held by the Earl of Loudon with the governors of New England in 1757, his lordship, in a moment of passion, had kicked over the chair with his military boot. By this unprovoked and unjustifiable act, our venerable friend had suffered a fracture of one of its rungs.

“But,” said Grandfather, “our chair, after all, was not destined to spend the remainder of its days in the inglorious obscurity of a garret. Thomas Hutchinson, Lieutenant-governor of the province, was told of Sir Francis Bernard’s design. This gentleman was more familiar with the history of New England than any other man alive. He knew all the adventures and vicissitudes through which the old chair had passed, and could have told as accurately as your own Grandfather who were the personages that had occupied it. Often, while visiting at the Province House, he had eyed the chair with admiration, and felt a longing desire to become the possessor of it. He now waited upon Sir Francis Bernard, and easily obtained leave to carry it home.”

“And I hope,” said Clara, “he had it varnished and gilded anew.”

“No,” answered Grandfather. “What Mr. Hutchinson desired was, to restore the chair as much as possible to its original aspect, such as it had appeared when it was first made out of the Earl of Lincoln’s oak-tree. For this purpose he ordered it to be well scoured with soap and sand and polished with wax, and then provided it with a substantial leather cush-ion. When all was completed to his mind he sat down in the old chair, and began to write his History of Massachusetts.”

“Oh, that was a bright thought in Mr. Hutchinson,” exclaimed Laurence. “And no doubt the dim figures of the former possessors of the chair flitted around him as he wrote, and inspired him with a knowledge of all that they had done and suffered while on earth.”

“Why, my dear Laurence,” replied Grandfather, smiling, “if Mr. Hutchinson was favored with ally such extraordinary inspiration, he made but a poor use of it in his history; for a duller piece of composition never came from any man’s pen. However, he was accurate, at least, though far from possessing the brilliancy or philosophy of Mr. Bancroft.”

“But if Hutchinson knew the history of the chair,” rejoined Laurence, “his heart must have been stirred by it.”

“It must, indeed,” said Grandfather. “It would be entertaining and instructive, at the present day, to imagine what were Mr. Hutchinson’s thoughts as he looked back upon the long vista of events with which this chair was so remarkably connected.”

And Grandfather allowed his fancy to shape out an image of Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, sitting in an evening reverie by his fireside, and meditating on the changes that had slowly passed around the chair.

A devoted Monarchist, Hutchinson would heave no sigh for the subversion of the original republican government, the purest that the world had seen, with which the colony began its existence. While reverencing the grim and stern old Puritans as the founders of his native land, he would not wish to recall them from their graves, nor to awaken again that king-resisting spirit which he imagined to be laid asleep with them forever. Winthrop, Dudley, Bellingham, Endicott, Leverett, and Bradstreet,—all these had had their day. Ages might come and go, but never again would the people’s suffrages place a republican governor in their ancient chair of state.

Coming down to the epoch of the second charter, Hutchinson thought of the ship-carpenter Phips springing from the lowest of the people and attaining to the loftiest station in the land. But he smiled to perceive that this governor’s example would awaken no turbulent ambition in the lower orders; for it was a king’s gracious boon alone that made the ship-carpenter a ruler. Hutchinson rejoiced to mark the gradual growth of an aristocratic class, to whom the common people, as in duty bound, were learning humbly to resign the honors, emoluments, and authority of state. He saw—or else deceived himself—that, throughout this epoch, the people’s disposition to self-government had been growing weaker through long disuse, and now existed only as a faint traditionary feeling.

The lieutenant-governor’s reverie had now come down to the period at which he himself was sitting in the historic chair. He endeavored to throw his glance forward over the coming years. There, probably, he saw visions of hereditary rank for himself and other aristocratic colonists. He saw the fertile fields of New England proportioned out among a few great landholders, and descending by entail from generation to generation. He saw the people a race of tenantry, dependent on their lords. He saw stars, garters, coronets, and castles.

“But,” added Grandfather, turning to Laurence, “the lieutenant-governor’s castles were built nowhere but among the red embers of the fire before which he was sitting. And, just as he had constructed a baronial residence for himself and his posterity, the fire rolled down upon the hearth and crumbled it to ashes!”

Grandfather now looked at his watch, which hung within a beautiful little ebony temple, supported by four Ionic columns. He then laid his hand on the golden locks of little Alice, whose head had sunk down upon the arm of our illustrious chair.

“To bed, to bed, dear child!” said he. “Grandfather has put you to sleep already by his stories about these FAMOUS OLD PEOPLE.”




AT a consultation, held between Colonel Winslow and Captain Murray, [of the New England forces, charged with the duty of exiling the Acadians,] it was agreed that a proclamation should be issued at the different settlements, requiring the attendance of the people at the respective posts on the same day; which proclamation should be so ambiguous in its nature that the object for which they were to assemble could not be discerned, and so peremptory in its terms as to ensure implicit obedience. This instrument, having been drafted and approved, was distributed according to the original plan. That which was addressed to the people inhabiting the country now comprised within the limits of King’s County, was as follows:—

“To the inhabitants of the District of Grand Pre, Minas, River Canard, &c.; as well ancient, as young men and lads:

“Whereas, his Excellency the Governor has instructed us of his late resolution, respecting the matter proposed to the inhabitants, and has ordered us to communicate the same in person, his Excellency being desirous that each of them should be fully satisfied of his Majesty’s intentions, which he has also ordered us to communicate to you, such as they have been given to him. We, therefore, order and strictly enjoin, by these presents, all of the inhabitants, as well of the above-named district as of all the other Districts, both old men and young men, as well as all the lads of ten years of age, to attend at the Church at Grand Pre, on Friday, the fifth instant, at three of the clock in the afternoon, that we may impart to them what we are ordered to communicate to them; declaring that no excuse will be admitted on any pretence whatever, on pain of forfeiting goods and chattels, in default of real estate. Given at Grand Pre, 2d September, 1755, and 29th year of his Majesty’s Reign.

“John Winslow.”

In obedience to this summons four hundred and eighteen able-bodied men assembled. These being shut into the church (for that, too, had become an arsenal), Colonel Winslow placed himself, with his officers, in the centre, and addressed them thus:—


“I have received from his Excellency Governor Lawrence, the King’s Commission, which I have in my hand; and by his orders you are convened together to manifest to you, his Majesty’s final resolution to the French inhabitants of this his Province of Nova-Scotia; who, for almost half a century, have had more indulgence granted them than any of his subjects in any part of his dominions; what use you have made of it you yourselves best know. The part of duty I am now upon, though necessary, is very disagreeable to my natural make and temper, as I know it must be grievous to you, who are of the same species; but it is not my business to animadvert but to obey such orders as I receive, and therefore, without hesitation, shall deliver you his Majesty’s orders and instructions, namely—that your lands and tenements, cattle of all kinds and live stock of all sorts, are forfeited to the Crown; with all other your effects, saving your money and household goods, and you yourselves to be removed from this his Province.

“Thus it is peremptorily his Majesty’s orders that the whole French inhabitants of these Districts be removed; and I am, through his Majesty’s goodness, directed to allow you liberty to carry off your money and household goods, as many as you can without discommoding the vessels you go in. I shall do everything in my power that all those goods be secured to you, and that you are not molested in carrying them off; also, that whole families shall go in the same vessel, and make this remove, which I am sensible must give you a great deal of trouble, as easy as his Majesty’s service will admit; and hope that, in whatever part of the world you may fall, you may be faithful subjects, a peaceable and happy people. I must also inform you, that it is his Majesty’s pleasure that you remain in security under the inspection and direction of the troops that I have the honor to command.”

And he then declared them the King’s prisoners. The whole number of persons collected at Grand Pre finally amounted to four hundred and eighty-three men, and three hundred and thirty-seven women, heads of families; and their sons and daughters, to five hundred and twenty-seven of the former, and five hundred and seventy-six of the latter; making in the whole one thousand nine hundred and twenty-three souls. Their stock consisted of one thousand two hundred and sixty-nine oxen, one thousand five hundred and fifty-seven cows, five thousand and seven young cattle, four hundred and ninety-three horses, eight thousand six hundred and ninety sheep, and four thousand one hundred and ninety-seven hogs. As some of these wretched inhabitants escaped to the woods, all possible measures were adopted to force them back to captivity. The country was laid waste to prevent their subsistence. In the District of Minas alone, there were destroyed two hundred and fifty-five houses, two hundred and seventy-six barns, one hundred and fifty-five outhouses, eleven mills, and one church; and the friends of those who refused to surrender were threatened as the victims of their obstinacy.

In short, so operative were the terrors that surrounded them, that of twenty-four young men, who deserted from a transport, twenty-two were glad to return of themselves, the others being shot by sentinels; and one of their friends, who was supposed to have been accessory to their escape, was carried on shore to behold the destruction of his house and effects, which were burned in his presence, as a punishment for his temerity and perfidious aid to his comrades. The prisoners expressed the greatest concern at having incurred his Majesty’s displeasure, and in a petition addressed to Colonel Winslow intreated him to detain a part of them as sureties for the appearance of the rest, who were desirous of visiting their families, and consoling them in their distress and misfortunes. To comply with this request of holding a few as hostages for the surrender of the whole body, was deemed inconsistent with his instructions; but, as there could be no objection to allow a small number of them to return to their homes, permission was given to them to choose ten for the District of Minas (Horton) and ten for the District of Canard (Cornwallis) to whom leave of absence was given for one day, and on whose return a similar number were indulged in the same manner. They bore their confinement, and received their sentence with a fortitude and resignation altogether unexpected; but when the hour of embarkation arrived, in which they were to leave the land of their nativity forever—to part with their friends and relatives, without the hope of ever seeing them again, and to be dispersed among strangers, whose language, customs and religion were opposed to their own, the weakness of human nature prevailed, and they were overpowered with the sense of their miseries. The preparations having been all completed, the 10th of September was fixed upon as the day of departure. The prisoners were drawn up six deep, and the young men, one hundred and sixty-one in number, were ordered to go first on board of the vessels. This they instantly and peremptorily refused to do, declaring that they would not leave their parents; but expressed a willingness to comply with the order, provided they were permitted to embark with their families. This request was immediately rejected, and the troops were ordered to fix bayonets and advance towards the prisoners, a motion which had the effect of producing obedience on the part of the young men, who forthwith commenced their march. The road from the chapel to the shore, just one mile in length, was crowded with women and children; who, on their knees, greeted them as they passed with their tears and their blessings, while the prisoners advanced with slow and reluctant steps, weeping, praying, and singing hymns. This detachment was followed by the seniors, who passed through the same scene of sorrow and distress. In this manner was the whole male part of the population of the District of Minas put on board the five transports, stationed in the river Gaspereaux, each vessel being guarded by six non-commissioned officers, and eighty privates. As soon as the other vessels arrived, their wives and children followed, and the whole were transported from Nova Scotia. The haste with which these measures were carried into execution did not admit of those preparations for their comfort, which, if unmerited by their disloyalty, were at least due in pity to the severity of their punishment. The hurry, confusion, and excitement connected with the embarkation had scarcely subsided, when the Provincials were appalled by the work of their own hands The novelty and peculiarity of their situation could not but force itself upon the attention of even the unreflecting soldiery; stationed in the midst of a beautiful and fertile country, they suddenly found themselves without a foe to subdue, and without a population to protect. The volumes of smoke which the half expiring embers emitted, while they marked the site of the peasant’s humble cottage, bore testimony to the extent of the work of destruction. For several successive evenings the cattle assembled round the smouldering ruins, as if in anxious expectation of the return of their masters, while all night long the faithful watchdogs of the Neutrals howled over the scene of desolation, and mourned alike the hand that had fed, and the house that had sheltered them.

PART III. 1763-1803.


ON THE evening of New-Year’s Day Grandfather was walking to and fro across the carpet, listening to the rain which beat hard against the curtained windows. The riotous blast shook the casement as if a strong man were striving to force his entrance into the comfortable room. With every puff of the wind the fire leaped upward from the hearth, laughing and rejoicing at the shrieks of the wintry storm.

Meanwhile Grandfather’s chair stood in its customary place by the fireside. The bright blaze gleamed upon the fantastic figures of its oaken back, and shone through the open work, so that a complete pattern was thrown upon the opposite side of the room. Sometimes, for a moment or two, the shadow remained immovable, as if it were painted on the wall. Then all at once it began to quiver, and leap, and dance with a frisky motion. Anon, seeming to remember that these antics were unworthy of such a dignified and venerable chair, it suddenly stood still. But soon it began to dance anew.

“Only see how Grandfather’s chair is dancing!” cried little Alice.

And she ran to the wall and tried to catch hold of the flickering shadow; for, to children of five years old, a shadow seems almost as real as a substance.

“I wish,” said Clara, “Grandfather would sit down in the chair and finish its history.”

If the children had been looking at Grandfather, they would have noticed that he paused in his walk across the room when Clara made this remark. The kind old gentleman was ready and willing to resume his stories of departed times. But he had resolved to wait till his auditors should request him to proceed, in order that they might find the instructive history of the chair a pleasure, and not a task.

“Grandfather,” said Charley, “I am tired to death of this dismal rain and of hearing the wind roar in the chimney. I have had no good time all day. It would be better to hear stories about the chair than to sit doing nothing and thinking of nothing.”

To say the truth, our friend Charley was very much out of humor with the storm, because it had kept him all day within doors, and hindered him from making a trial of a splendid sled, which Grandfather had given him for a New-Year’s gift. As all sleds, nowadays, must have a name, the one in question had been honored with the title of Grandfather’s chair, which was painted in golden letters on each of the sides. Charley greatly admired the construction of the new vehicle, and felt certain that it would outstrip any other sled that ever dashed adown the long slopes of the Common.

As for Laurence, he happened to be thinking, just at this moment, about the history of the chair. Kind old Grandfather had made him a present of a volume of engraved portraits, representing the features of eminent and famous people o f all countries. Among them Laurence found several who had formerly occupied our chair or been connected with its adventures. While Grandfather walked to and fro across the room, the imaginative boy was gazing at the historic chair. He endeavored to summon up the por-traits which he had seen in his volume, and to place them, like living figures, in the empty seat.

“The old chair has begun another year of its existence, to-day,” said Laurence. “We must make haste, or it will have a new history to be told before we finish the old one.”

“Yes, my children,” replied Grandfather, with a smile and a sigh, “another year has been added to those of the two centuries and upward which have passed since the Lady Arbella brought this chair over from England. It is three times as old as your Grandfather; but a year makes no impression on its oaken frame, while it bends the old man nearer and nearer to the earth; so let me go on with my stories while I may.”

Accordingly Grandfather came to the fireside and seated himself in the venerable chair. The lion’s head looked down with a grimly good-natured aspect as the children clustered around the old gentleman’s knees. It almost seemed as if a real lion were peeping over the back of the chair, and smiling at the group of auditors with a sort of lion-like complaisance. Little Alice, whose fancy often inspired her with singular ideas, exclaimed that the lion’s head was nodding at her, and that it looked as if it were going to open its wide jaws and tell a story.

But as the lion’s head appeared to be in no haste to speak, and as there was no record or tradition of its having spoken during the whole existence of the chair, Grandfather did not consider it worth while to wait.


“CHARLEY, my boy,” said Grandfather, “do you remember who was the last occupant of the chair?”

“It was Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson,” answered Charley. “Sir Francis Bernard, the new governor, had given him the chair, instead of putting it away in the garret of the Province House. And when we took leave of Hutchinson he was sitting by his fireside, and thinking of the past adventures of the chair and of what was to come.”

“Very well,” said Grandfather; “and you recollect that this was in 1763, or thereabouts, at the close of the old French War. Now, that you may fully comprehend the remaining adventures of the chair, I must make some brief remarks on the situation and character of the New England colonies at this period.”

So Grandfather spoke of the earnest loyalty of our fathers during the old French War, and after the conquest of Canada had brought that war to a triumphant close.

The people loved and reverenced the King of England even more than if the ocean had not rolled its waves between him and them; for, at the distance of three thousand miles, they could not discover his bad qualities and imperfections. Their love was increased by the dangers which they had encountered in order to heighten his glory and extend his dominion. Throughout the war the American colonists had fought side by side with the soldiers of Old England; and nearly thirty thousand young men had laid down their lives for the honor of King George. And the survivors loved him the better because they had done and suffered so much for his sake.

But there were some circumstances that caused America to feel more independent of England than at an earlier period. Canada and Acadia had now become British provinces; and our fathers were no longer afraid of the bands of French and Indians who used to assault them in old times. For a century and a half this had been the great terror of New England. Now the old French soldier was driven from the North forever. And even had it been otherwise, the English colonies were growing so populous and powerful that they might have felt fully able to protect themselves without any help from England.

There were thoughtful and sagacious men, who began to doubt whether a great country like America would always be content to remain under the government of an island three thousand miles away. This was the more doubtful, because the English Parliament had long ago made laws which were intended to be very beneficial to England at the expense of America. By these laws the colonists were forbidden to manufacture articles for their own use, or to carry on trade with any nation but the English.

“Now,” continued Grandfather, “if King George III. and his counsellors had considered these things wisely, they would have taken another course than they did. But when they saw how rich and populous the colonies had grown, their first thought was how they might make more profit out of them than heretofore. England was enormously in debt at the close of the old French War; and it was pretended that this debt had been contracted for the defence of the American colonies, and that, therefore, a part of it ought to be paid by them.”

“Why, this was nonsense!” exclaimed Charley. “Did not our fathers spend their lives, and their money too, to get Canada for King George?”

“True, they did,” said Grandfather; “and they told the English rulers so. But the king and his ministers would not listen to good advice. In 1765 the British Parliament passed a Stamp Act.”

“What was that?” inquired Charley.

“The Stamp Act,” replied Grandfather, “was a law by which all deeds, bonds, and other papers of the same kind were ordered to be marked with the king’s stamp; and without this mark they were declared illegal and void. Now, in order to get a blank sheet of paper with the king’s stamp upon it, people were obliged to pay threepence more than the actual value of the paper. And this extra sum of threepence was a tax, and was to be paid into the king’s treasury.”

“I am sure threepence was not worth quarrelling about!” remarked Clara.

“It was not for threepence, nor for any amount of money, that America quarrelled with England,” replied Grandfather; “it was for a great principle. The colonists were determined not to be taxed except by their own representatives. They said that neither the king and Parliament, nor any other power on earth, had a right to take their money out of their pockets unless they freely gave it. And, rather than pay threepence when it was unjustly demanded, they resolved to sacrifice all the wealth of the country, and their lives along with it. They therefore made a most stubborn resistance to the Stamp Act.”

“That was noble!” exclaimed Laurence. “I understand how it was. If they had quietly paid the tax of threepence, they would have ceased to be freemen, and would have become tributaries of England. And so they contended about a great question of right and wrong, and put everything at stake for it.”

“You are right, Laurence,” said Grandfather, “and it was really amazing and terrible to see what a change came over the aspect of the people the moment the English Parliament had passed this oppressive act. The former history of our chair, my children, has given you some idea of what a harsh, unyielding, stern set of men the old Puritans were. For a good many years back, however, it had seemed as if these characteristics were disappearing. But no sooner did England offer wrong to the colonies than the descendants of the early settlers proved that they had the same kind of temper as their forefathers. The moment before, New England appeared like a humble and loyal subject of the crown; the next instant, she showed the grim, dark features of an old king-resisting Puritan.”

Grandfather spoke briefly of the public measures that were taken in opposition to the Stamp Act. As this law affected all the American colonies alike, it naturally led them to think of consulting together is order to procure its repeal. For this purpose the Legislature of Massachusetts proposed that delegates from every colony should meet in Congress. Accordingly nine colonies, both Northern and Southern, sent delegates to the city of New York.

“And did they consult about going to war with England?” asked Charley.

“No, Charley,” answered Grandfather; “a great deal of talking was yet to be done before England and America could come to blows. The Congress stated the rights and grievances of the colonists. They sent a humble petition to the king, and a memorial to the Parliament, beseeching that the Stamp Act might be repealed. This was all that the delegates had it in their power to do.”

“They might as well have stayed at home, then,” said Charley.

“By no means,” replied Grandfather. “It was a most important and memorable event, this first coming together of the American people by their representatives from the North and South. If England had been wise, she would have trembled at the first word that was spoken in such an assembly.”

These remonstrances and petitions, as Grandfather observed, were the work of grave, thoughtful, and prudent men. Meantime the young and hot-headed people went to work in their own way. It is probable that the petitions of Congress would have had little or no effect on the British statesmen if the violent deeds of the American people had not shown how much excited the people were. LIBERTY TREE was soon heard of in England.

“What was Liberty Tree?” inquired Clara.

“It was an old elm-tree,” answered Grandfather, “which stood near the corner of Essex Street, opposite the Boylston Market. Under the spreading branches of this great tree the people used to assemble whenever they wished to express their feelings and opinions. Thus, after a while, it seemed as if the liberty of the country was connected with Liberty Tree.”

“It was glorious fruit for a tree to bear,” remarked Laurence.

“It bore strange fruit, sometimes,” said Grandfather. “One morning in August, 1765, two figures were found hanging on the sturdy branches of Liberty Tree. They were dressed in square-skirted coats and small-clothes; and, as their wigs hung down over their faces, they looked like real men. One was intended to represent the Earl of Bute, who was supposed to have advised the king to tax America. The other was meant for the effigy of Andrew Oliver, a gentleman belonging to one of the most respectable families in Massachusetts.”

“What harm had he done?” inquired Charley.

“The king had appointed him to be distributor of the stamps,” answered Grandfather. “Mr. Oliver would have made a great deal of money by this business. But the people frightened him so much by hanging him in effigy, and afterwards by breaking into his house, that he promised to have nothing to do with the stamps. And all the king’s friends throughout America were compelled to make the same promise.”


“LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON,” continued Grandfather, “now began to be unquiet in our old chair. He had formerly been much respected and beloved by the people, and had often proved himself a friend to their interests. But the time was come when he could not be a friend to the people without ceasing to be a friend to the king. It was pretty generally understood that Hutchinson would act according to the king’s wishes, right or wrong, like most of the other gentlemen who held offices under the crown. Besides, as he was brother-in-law of Andrew Oliver, the people now felt a particular dislike to him.”

“I should think,” said Laurence, “as Mr. Hutchinson had written the history of our Puritan forefathers, he would have known what the temper of the people was, and so have taken care not to wrong them.”

“He trusted in the might of the King of England,” replied Grandfather, “and thought himself safe under the shelter of the throne. If no dispute had arisen between the king and the people, Hutchinson would have had the character of a wise, good, and patriotic magistrate. But, from the time that he took part against the rights of his country, the people’s love and respect were turned to scorn and hatred, and he never had another hour of peace.”

In order to show what a fierce and dangerous spirit was now aroused among the inhabitants, Grandfather related a passage from history which we shall call The Hutchinson Mob.

On the evening of the 26th of August, 1765, a bonfire was kindled in King Street. It flamed high upward, and threw a ruddy light over the front of the Town House, on which was displayed a carved representation of the royal arms. The gilded vane of the cupola glittered in the blaze. The kindling of this bonfire was the well-known signal for the populace of Boston to assemble in the street.

Before the tar-barrels, of which the bonfire was made, were half burned out, a great crowd had come together. They were chiefly laborers and seafaring men, together with many young apprentices, and all those idle people about town who are ready for any kind of mischief. Doubtless some school-boys were among them.

While these rough figures stood round the blazing bonfire, you might hear them speaking bitter words against the high officers of the province. Governor Bernard, Hutchinson, Oliver, Storey, Hallowell, and other men whom King George delighted to honor, were reviled as traitors to the country. Now and then, perhaps, an officer of the crown passed along the street, wearing the gold-laced hat, white wig, and embroidered waistcoat which were the fashion of the day. But when the people beheld him they set up a wild and angry howl; and their faces had an evil aspect, which was made more terrible by the flickering blaze of the bonfire.

“I should like to throw the traitor right into that blaze!” perhaps one fierce rioter would say.

“Yes; and all his brethren too!” another might reply; “and the governor and old Tommy Hutchinson into the hottest of it!”

“And the Earl of Bute along with them!” muttered a third; “and burn the whole pack of them under King George’s nose! No matter if it singed him!”

Some such expressions as these, either shouted aloud or muttered under the breath, were doubtless heard in King Street. The mob, meanwhile, were growing fiercer and fiercer, and seemed ready even to set the town on fire for the sake of burning the king’s friends out of house and home. And yet, angry as they were, they sometimes broke into a loud roar of laughter, as if mischief and destruction were their sport.

But we must now leave the rioters for a time, and take a peep into the lieutenant-governor’s splendid mansion. It was a large brick house, decorated with Ionic pilasters, and stood in Garden Court Street, near the North Square.

While the angry mob in King Street were shouting his name, Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson sat quietly in Grandfather’s chair, unsuspicious of the evil that was about to fall upon his head. His beloved family were in the room with him. He had thrown off his embroidered coat and powdered wig, and had on a loose-flowing gown and purple-velvet cap. He had likewise laid aside the cares of state and all the thoughts that had wearied and perplexed him throughout the day.

Perhaps, in the enjoyment of his home, he had forgotten all about the Stamp Act, and scarcely remembered that there was a king, across the ocean, who had resolved to make tributaries of the New-Englanders. Possibly, too, he had forgotten his own ambition, and would not have exchanged his situation, at that moment, to be governor, or even a lord.

The wax candles were now lighted, and showed a handsome room, well provided with rich furniture. On the walls hung the pictures of Hutchinson’s ancestors, who had been eminent men in their day, and were honorably remembered in the history of the country. Every object served to mark the residence of a rich, aristocratic gentleman, who held himself high above the common people, and could have nothing to fear from them. In a corner of the room, thrown carelessly upon a chair, were the scarlet robes of the chief justice. This high office, as well as those of lieutenant-governor, councillor, and judge of probate, was filled by Hutchinson.

Who or what could disturb the domestic quiet of such a great and powerful personage as now sat in Grandfather’s chair?

The lieutenant-governor’s favorite daughter sat by his side. She leaned on the arm of our great chair, and looked up affectionately into her father’s face, rejoicing to perceive that a quiet smile was on his lips. But suddenly a shade came across her countenance. She seemed to listen attentively, as if to catch a distant sound.

“What is the matter, my child?” inquired Hutchinson.

“Father, do not you hear a tumult in the streets?” said she.

The lieutenant-governor listened. But his ears were duller than those of his daughter; he could hear nothing more terrible than the sound of a summer breeze, sighing among the tops of the elm-trees.

“No, foolish child!” he replied, playfully patting her cheek. “There is no tumult. Our Boston mobs are satisfied with what mischief they have already done. The king’s friends need not tremble.”

So Hutchinson resumed his pleasant and peaceful meditations, and again forgot that there were any troubles in the world. But his family were alarmed, and could not help straining their ears to catch the slightest sound. More and more distinctly they heard shouts, and then the trampling of many feet. While they were listening, one of the neighbors rushed breathless into the room.

“A mob! a terrible mob’!” cried he. “They have broken into Mr. Storey’s house, and into Mr. Hallo-well’s, and have made themselves drunk with the liquors in his cellar; and now they are coming hither, as wild as so many tigers. Flee, lieutenant-governor, for your life! for your life!”

“Father, dear father, make haste!” shrieked his children.

But Hutchinson would not hearken to them. He was an old lawyer; and he could not realize that the people would do anything so utterly lawless as to assault him in his peaceful home. He was one of King George’s chief officers and it would be an insult and outrage upon the king himself if the lieutenant-governor should suffer any wrong.

“Have no fears on my account,” said he, “I am perfectly safe. The king’s name shall be my protection.”

Yet he bade his family retire into one of the neighboring houses. His daughter would have remained; but he forced her away.

The huzzas and riotous uproar of the mob were now heard, close at hand. The sound was terrible, and struck Hutchinson with the same sort of dread as if an enraged wild beast had broken loose and were roaring for its prey. He crept softly to the window. There he beheld an immense concourse of people, filling all the street and rolling onward to his house. It was like a tempestuous flood, that had swelled beyond its bounds and would sweep everything before it. Hutchinson trembled; he felt, at that moment, that the wrath of the people was a thousand-fold more terrible than the wrath of a king.

That was a moment when a loyalist and an aristocrat like Hutchinson might have learned how powerless are kings, nobles, and great men, when the low and humble range themselves against them. King George could do nothing for his servant now. Had King George been there he could have done nothing for himself. If Hutchinson had understood this lesson, and remembered it, he need not, in after years, have been an exile from his native country, nor finally have laid his bones in a distant land.

There was now a rush against the doors of the house. The people sent up a hoarse cry. At this instant the lieutenant-governor’s daughter, whom he had supposed to be in a place of safety, ran into the room and threw her arms around him. She had returned by a private entrance.

“Father, are you mad?” cried she. “Will the king’s name protect you now? Come with me, or they will have your life.”

“True,” muttered Hutchinson to himself; “what care these roarers for the name of king? I must flee, or they will trample me down on the floor of my own dwelling.”

Hurrying away, he and his daughter made their escape by the private passage at the moment when the rioters broke into the house. The foremost of them rushed up the staircase, and entered the room which Hutchinson had just quitted. There they beheld our good old chair facing them with quiet dignity, while the lion’s head seemed to move its jaws in the unsteady light of their torches. Perhaps the stately aspect of our venerable friend, which had stood firm through a century and a half of trouble, arrested them for an instant. But they were thrust forward by those behind, and the chair lay overthrown.

Then began the work of destruction. The carved and polished mahogany tables were shattered with heavy clubs and hewn to splinters with axes. The marble hearths and mantel-pieces were broken. The volumes of Hutchinson’s library, so precious to a studious man, were torn out of their covers, and the leaves sent flying out of the windows. Manuscripts, containing secrets of our country’s history, which are now lost forever, were scattered to the winds.

The old ancestral portraits, whose fixed countenances looked down on the wild scene, were rent from the walls. The mob triumphed in their downfall and destruction, as if these pictures of Hutchinson’s forefathers had committed the same offences as their descendant. A tall looking-glass, which had hitherto presented a reflection of the enraged and drunken multitude, was now smashed into a thousand fragments. We gladly dismiss the scene from the mirror of our fancy.

Before morning dawned the walls of the house were all that remained. The interior was a dismal scene of ruin. A shower pattered in at the broken windows; and when Hutchinson and his family returned, they stood shivering in the same room where the last evening had seen them so peaceful and happy.

“Grandfather,” said Laurence, indignantly, “if the people acted in this manner, they were not worthy of even so much liberty as the King of England was willing to allow them.”

“It was a most unjustifiable act, like many other popular movements at that time,” replied Grandfather. “But we must not decide against the justice of the people’s cause merely because an excited mob was guilty of outrageous violence. Besides, all these things were done in the first fury of resentment. Afterwards the people grew more calm, and were more influenced by the counsel of those wise and good men who conducted them safely and gloriously through the Revolution.”

Little Alice, with tears in her blue eyes, said that she hoped the neighbors had not let Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson and his family be homeless in the street, but had taken them into their houses and been kind to them. Cousin Clara, recollecting the perilous situation of our beloved chair, inquired what had become of it.

“Nothing was heard of our chair for some time afterwards,” answered Grandfather. “One day in September, the same Andrew Oliver, of whom I before told you, was summoned to appear at high noon under Liberty Tree. This was the strangest summons that had ever been heard of; for it was issued in the name of the whole people, who thus took upon themselves the authority of a sovereign power. Mr. Oliver dared not disobey. Accordingly, at the appointed hour he went, much against his will, to Liberty Tree.”

Here Charley interposed a remark that poor Mr. Oliver found but little liberty under Liberty Tree. Grandfather assented.

“It was a stormy day,” continued he. “The equinoctial gale blew violently, and scattered the yellow leaves of Liberty Tree all along the street. Mr. Oliver’s wig was dripping with water-drops; and he probably looked haggard, disconsolate, and humbled to the earth. Beneath the tree, in Grandfather’s chair,—our own venerable chair,—sat Mr. Richard Dana, a justice of the peace. He administered an oath to Mr. Oliver that he would never have anything to do with distributing the stamps. A vast concourse of people heard the oath, and shouted when it was taken.”

“There is something grand in this,” said Laurence. “I like it, because the people seem to have acted with thoughtfulness and dignity; and this proud gentleman, one of his Majesty’s high officers, was made to feel that King George could not protect him in doing wrong.”

“But it was a sad day for poor Mr. Oliver,” observed Grandfather. “From his youth upward it had probably been the great principle of his life to be faithful and obedient to the king. And now, in his old age, it must have puzzled and distracted him to find the sovereign people setting up a claim to his faith and obedience.”

Grandfather closed the evening’s conversation by saying that the discontent of America was so great, that, in 1766, the British Parliament was compelled to repeal the Stamp Act. The people made great rejoicings, but took care to keep Liberty Tree well pruned and free from caterpillars and canker-worms. They foresaw that there might yet be occasion for them to assemble under its far-projecting shadow.


THE NEXT evening, Clara, who remembered that our chair had been left standing in the rain under Liberty Tree, earnestly besought Grandfather to tell when and where it had next found shelter. Perhaps she was afraid that the venerable chair, by being exposed to the inclemency of a September gale, might get the rheumatism in its aged joints.

“The chair,” said Grandfather, “after the ceremony of Mr. Oliver’s oath, appears to have been quite forgotten by the multitude. Indeed, being much bruised and rather rickety, owing to the violent treatment it had suffered from the Hutchinson mob, most people would have thought that its days of usefulness were over. Nevertheless, it was conveyed away under cover of the night and committed to the care of a skilful joiner. He doctored our old friend so successfully, that, in the course of a few days, it made its appearance in the public room of the British Coffee Houses in King Street.”

“But why did not Mr. Hutchinson get possession of it again?” inquired Charley.

“I know not,” answered Grandfather, “unless he considered it a dishonor and disgrace to the chair to have stood under Liberty Tree. At all events, he suffered it to remain at the British Coffee House, which was the principal hotel in Boston. It could not possibly have found a situation where it would be more in the midst of business and bustle, or would witness more important events, or be occupied by a greater variety of persons.”

Grandfather went on to tell the proceedings of the despotic king and ministry of England after the repeal of the Stamp Act. They could not bear to think that their right to tax America should be disputed by the people. In the year 1767, therefore, they caused Parliament to pass an act for laying a duty on tea and some other articles that were in general use. Nobody could now buy a pound of tea without paying a tax to King George. This scheme was pretty craftily contrived; for the women of America were very fond of tea, and did not like to give up the use of it.

But the people were as much opposed to this new act of Parliament as they had been to the Stamp Act. England, however, was determined that they should submit. In order to compel their obedience, two regiments, consisting of more than seven hundred British soldiers, were sent to Boston. They arrived in September, 1768, and were landed on Long Wharf. Thence they marched to the Common with loaded muskets, fixed bayonets, and great pomp and parade. So now, at last, the free town of Boston was guarded and overawed by redcoats as it had been in the days of old Sir Edmund Andros.

In the month of November more regiments arrived. There were now four thousand troops in Boston. The Common was whitened with their tents. Some of the soldiers were lodged in Faneuil Hall, which the inhabitants looked upon as a consecrated place, because it had been the scene of a great many meetings in favor of liberty. One regiment was placed in the Town House, which we now call the Old State House. The lower floor of this edifice had hitherto been used by the merchants as an exchange. In the upper stories were the chambers of the judges, the representatives, and the governor’s council. The venerable councillors could not assemble to consult about the welfare of the province without being challenged by sentinels and passing among the bayonets of the British soldiers.

Sentinels likewise were posted at the lodgings of the officers in many parts of the town. When the inhabitants approached they were greeted by the sharp question, “Who goes there?” while the rattle of the soldier’s musket was heard as he presented it against their breasts. There was no quiet even on the sabbath day. The quiet descendants of the Puritans were shocked by the uproar of military music; the drum, fife, and bugle drowning the holy organ peal and the voices of the singers. It would appear as if the British took every method to insult the feelings of the people.

“Grandfather,” cried Charley, impatiently, “the people did not go to fighting half soon enough! These British redcoats ought to have been driven back to their vessels the very moment they landed on Long Wharf.”

“Many a hot-headed young man said the same as you do, Charley,” answered Grandfather. “But the elder and wiser people saw that the time was not yet come. Meanwhile, let us take another peep at our old chair.”

“Ah, it drooped its head, I know,” said Charley, “when it saw how the province was disgraced. Its old Puritan friends never would have borne such doings.”

“The chair,” proceeded Grandfather, “was now continually occupied by some of the high tories, as the king’s friends were called, who frequented the British Coffee House. Officers of the Custom House, too, which stood on the opposite side of King Street, often sat in the chair wagging their tongues against John Hancock.”

“Why against him?” asked Charley.

“Because he was a great merchant and contended against paying duties to the king,” said Grandfather.

“Well, frequently, no doubt, the officers of the British regiments, when not on duty, used to fling themselves into the arms of our venerable chair. Fancy one of them, a red-nosed captain in his scarlet uniform, playing with the hilt of his sword, and making a circle of his brother officers merry with ridiculous jokes at the expense of the poor Yankees. And perhaps he would call for a bottle of wine, or a steaming bowl of punch, and drink confusion to all rebels.”

“Our grave old chair must have been scandalized at such scenes,” observed Laurence; “the chair that had been the Lady Arbella’s, and which the holy apostle Eliot had consecrated.”

“It certainly was little less than sacrilege,” replied Grandfather; “but the time was coming when even the churches, where hallowed pastors had long preached the word of God, were to be torn down or desecrated by the British troops. Some years passed, however, before such things were done.”

Grandfather now told his auditors that, in 1769, Sir Francis Bernard went to England after having been governor of Massachusetts ten years. He was a gentleman of many good qualities, an excellent scholar, and a friend to learning. But he was naturally of an arbitrary disposition; and he had been bred at the University of Oxford, where young men were taught that the divine right of kings was the only thing to be regarded in matters of government. Such ideas were ill adapted to please the people of Massachusetts. They rejoiced to get rid of Sir Francis Bernard, but liked his successor, Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, no better than himself.

About this period the people were much incensed at an act committed by a person who held an office in the Custom House. Some lads, or young men, were snowballing his windows. He fired a musket at them, and killed a poor German boy, only eleven years old. This event made a great noise in town and country, and much increased the resentment that was already felt against the servants of the crown.

“Now, children,” said Grandfather, “I wish to make you comprehend the position of the British troops in King Street. This is the same which we now call State Street. On the south side of the Town House, or Old State House, was what military men call a court of guard, defended by two brass cannons, which pointed directly at one of the doors of the above edifice. A large party of soldiers were always stationed in the court of guard. The Custom House stood at a little distance down King Street, nearly where the Suffolk Bank now stands, and a sentinel was continually pacing before its front.”

“I shall remember this to-morrow,” said Charley; “and I will go to State Street, so as to see exactly where the British troops were stationed.”

“And before long,” observed Grandfather, “I shall have to relate an event which made King Street sadly famous on both sides of the Atlantic. The history of our chair will soon bring us to this melancholy business.”

Here Grandfather described the state of things which arose from the ill will that existed between the inhabitants and the redcoats. The old and sober part of the townspeople were very angry at the government for sending soldiers to overawe them. But those gray-headed men were cautious, and kept their thoughts and feelings in their own breasts, without putting themselves in the way of the British bayonets.

The younger people, however, could hardly be kept within such prudent limits. They reddened with wrath at the very sight of a soldier, and would have been willing to come to blows with them at any moment. For it was their opinion that every tap of a British drum, within the peninsula of Boston was an insult to the brave old town.

“It was sometimes the case,” continued Grandfather, “that affrays happened between such wild young men as these and small parties of the soldiers. No weapons had hitherto been used except fists or cudgels. But when men have loaded muskets in their hands, it is easy to foretell that they will soon be turned against the bosoms of those who provoke their anger.”

“Grandfather,” said little Alice, looking fearfully into his face, “your voice sounds as though you were going to tell us something awful!”


LITTLE ALICE, by her last remark, proved herself a good judge of what was expressed by the tones of Grandfather’s voice. He had given the above description of the enmity between the townspeople and the soldiers in order to Prepare the minds of his auditors for a very terrible event. It was one that did more to heighten the quarrel between England and America than anything that had yet occurred.

Without further preface, Grandfather began the story of the Boston Massacre.

It was now the 8d of March, 1770. The sunset music of the British regiments was heard as usual throughout the town. The shrill fife and rattling drum awoke the echoes in King Street, while the last ray of sunshine was lingering on the cupola of the Town House. And now all the sentinels were posted. One of them marched up and down before the Custom House, treading a short path through the snow, and longing for the time when he would be dismissed to the warm fireside of the guard room. Meanwhile Captain Preston was, perhaps, sitting in our great chair before the hearth of the British Coffee House. In the course of the evening there were two or three slight commotions, which seemed to indicate that trouble was at hand. Small parties of young men stood at the corners of the streets or walked along the narrow pavements. Squads of soldiers who were dismissed from duty passed by them, shoulder to shoulder, with the regular step which they had learned at the drill. Whenever these encounters took place, it appeared to be the object of the young men to treat the soldiers with as much incivility as possible.

“Turn out, you lobsterbacks!” one would say. “Crowd them off the sidewalks!” another would cry. “A redcoat has no right in Boston streets!”

“O, you rebel rascals!” perhaps the soldiers would reply, glaring fiercely at the young men. “Some day or other we’ll make our way through Boston streets at the point of the bayonet!”

Once or twice such disputes as these brought on a scuffle; which passed off, however, without attracting much notice. About eight o’clock, for some unknown cause, an alarm-bell rang loudly and hurriedly.

At the sound many people ran out of their houses, supposing it to be an alarm of fire. But there were no flames to be seen, nor was there any smell of smoke in the clear, frosty air; so that most of the townsmen went back to their own firesides and sat talking with their wives and children about the calamities of the times. Others who were younger and less prudent remained in the streets; for there seems to have been a presentiment that some strange event was on the eve of taking place.

Later in the evening, not far from nine o’clock, several young men passed by the Town House and walked down King Street. The sentinel was still on his post in front of the Custom House, pacing to and fro; while, as he turned, a gleam of light from some neighboring window glittered on the barrel of his musket. At no great distance were the barracks and the guard-house, where his comrades were probably telling stories of battle and bloodshed.

Down towards the Custom House, as I told you, came a party of wild young men. When they drew near the sentinel he halted on his post, and took his musket from his shoulder, ready to present the bayonet at their breasts.

“Who goes there?” he cried, in the gruff, peremptory tones of a soldier’s challenge. The young men, being Boston boys, felt as if they had a right to walk their own streets without being accountable to a British redcoat, even though he challenged them in King George’s name. They made some rude answer to the sentinel. There was a dispute, or perhaps a scuffle. Other soldiers heard the noise, and ran hastily from the barracks to assist their comrades. At the same time many of the townspeople rushed into King Street by various avenues, and gathered in a crowd round about the Custom House. It seemed wonderful how such a multitude had started up all of a sudden.

The wrongs and insults which the people had been suffering for many months now kindled them into a rage. They threw snowballs and lumps of ice at the soldiers. As the tumult grew louder it reached the ears of Captain Preston, the officer of the day. He immediately ordered eight soldiers of the main guard to take their muskets and follow him. They marched across the street, forcing their way roughly through the crowd, and pricking the townspeople with their bayonets.

A gentleman (it was Henry Knox, afterwards general of the American artillery) caught Captain Preston’s arm.

“For Heaven’s sake, sir,” exclaimed he, “take heed what you do, or there will be bloodshed.”

“Stand aside!” answered Captain Preston, haughtily. “Do not interfere, sir. Leave me to manage the affair.”

Arriving at the sentinel’s post, Captain Preston drew up his men in a semicircle, with their faces to the crowd and their rear to the Custom House. When the people saw the officer and beheld the threatening attitude with which the soldiers fronted them, their rage became almost uncontrollable.

“Fire, you lobsterbacks!” bellowed some.

“You dare not fire, you cowardly redcoats!” cried others.

“Rush upon them!” shouted many voices. “Drive the rascals to their barracks! Down with them! Down with them! Let them fire if they dare!”

Amid the uproar, the soldiers stood glaring at the people with the fierceness of men whose trade was to shed blood.

Oh, what a crisis had now arrived! Up to this very moment, the angry feelings between England and America might have been pacified. England had but to stretch out the hand of reconciliation, and acknowledge that she had hitherto mistaken her rights, but would do so no more. Then the ancient bonds of brotherhood would again have been knit together as firmly as in old times. The habit of loyalty, which had grown as strong as instinct, was not utterly overcome. The perils shared, the victories won, in the old French War, when the soldiers of the colonies fought side by side with their comrades from beyond the sea, were unforgotten yet. England was still that beloved country which the colonists called their home. King George, though he had frowned upon America, was still reverenced as a father.

But should the king’s soldiers shed one drop of American blood, then it was a quarrel to the death. Never, never would America rest satisfied until she had torn down the royal authority and trampled it in the dust.

“Fire, if you dare, villains!” hoarsely shouted the people, while the muzzles of the muskets were turned upon them. “You dare not fire!”

They appeared ready to rush upon the levelled bayonets. Captain Preston waved his sword, and uttered a command which could not be distinctly heard amid the uproar of shouts that issued from a hundred throats. But his soldiers deemed that he had spoken the fatal mandate, “Fire!” The flash of their muskets lighted up the streets, and the report rang loudly between the edifices. It was said, too, that the figure of a man, with a cloth hanging down over his face, was seen to step into the balcony of the Custom House and discharge a musket at the crowd.

A gush of smoke had overspread the scene. It rose heavily, as if it were loath to reveal the dreadful spectacle beneath it. Eleven of the sons of New England lay stretched upon the street. Some, sorely wounded, were struggling to rise again. Others stirred not nor groaned; for they were past all pain. Blood was streaming upon the snow; and that purple stain in the midst of King Street, though it melted away in the next day’s sun, was never forgotten nor forgiven by the people.

Grandfather was interrupted by the violent sobs of little Alice. In his earnestness he had neglected to soften clown the narrative so that it might not terrify the heart of this unworldly infant. Since Grandfather began the history of our chair, little Alice had listened to many tales of war. But probably the idea had never really impressed itself upon her mind that men have shed the blood of their fellow-creatures. And now that this idea was forcibly presented to her, it affected the sweet child with bewilderment and horror.

“I ought to have remembered our dear little Alice,” said Grandfather reproachfully to himself. “Oh, what a pity! Her heavenly nature has now received its first impression of earthly sin and violence. Well, Clara, take her to bed and comfort her. Heaven grant that she may dream away the recollection of the Boston massacre!”

“Grandfather,” said Charley, when Clara and little Alice had retired, “did not the people rush upon the soldiers and take revenge?”

“The town drums beat to arms,” replied Grandfather, “the alarm-bells rang, and an immense multitude rushed into King Street. Many of them had weapons in their hands. The British prepared to defend themselves. A whole regiment was drawn up in the street, expecting an attack; for the townsmen appeared ready to throw themselves upon the bayonets.”

“And how did it end?”

“Governor Hutchinson hurried to the spot,” said Grandfather, “and besought the people to have patience, promising that strict justice should be done. A day or two afterward the British troops were withdrawn from town and stationed at Castle William. Captain Preston and the eight soldiers were tried for murder. But none of them were found guilty. The judges told the jury that the insults and violence which had been offered to the soldiers justified them in firing at the mob.”

“The Revolution,” observed Laurence, who had said but little during the evening, “was not such a calm, majestic movement as I supposed. I do not love to hear of mobs and broils in the street. These things were unworthy of the people when they had such a great object to accomplish.”

“Nevertheless, the world has seen no grander movement than that of our Revolution from first to last,” said Grandfather. “The people, to a man, were full of a great and noble sentiment. True, there may be much fault to find with their mode of expressing this sentiment; but they knew no better; the necessity was upon them to act out their feelings in the best manner they could. We must forgive what was wrong in their actions, and look into their hearts and minds for the honorable motives that impelled them.”

“And I suppose,” said Laurence, “there were men who knew how to act worthily of what they felt.”

“There were many such,” replied Grandfather; “and we will speak of some of them hereafter.”

Grandfather here made a pause. That night Charley had a dream about the Boston massacre, and thought that he himself was in the crowd and struck down Captain Preston with a great club. Laurence dreamed that he was sitting in our great chair, at the window of the British Coffee House, and beheld the whole scene which Grandfather had described. It seemed to him, in his dream, that, if the townspeople and the soldiers would but have heard him speak a single word, all the slaughter might have been averted. But there was such an uproar that it drowned his voice.

The next morning the two boys went together to State Street and stood on the very spot where the first blood of the Revolution had been shed. The Old State House was still there, presenting almost the same aspect that it had worn on that memorable evening, one-and-seventy years ago. It is the sole remaining witness of the Boston massacre.


THE NEXT evening the astral lamp was lighted earlier than usual, because Laurence was very much engaged in looking over the collection of portraits which had been his New-Year’s gift from Grandfather.

Among them he found the features of more than one famous personage who had been connected with the adventures of our old chair. Grandfather bade him draw the table nearer to the fireside; and they looked over the portraits together, while Clara and Charley likewise lent their attention. As for little Alice, she sat in Grandfather’s lap, and seemed to see the very men alive whose faces were there represented.

Turning over the volume, Laurence came to the portrait of a stern, grim-looking man, in plain attire, of much more modern fashion than that of the old Puritans. But the face might well have befitted one of those iron-hearted men. Beneath the portrait was the name of Samuel Adams.

“He was a man of great note in all the doings that brought about the Revolution,” said Grandfather. “His character was such, that it seemed as if one of the ancient Puritans had been sent back to earth to animate the people’s hearts with the same abhorrence of tyranny that had distinguished the earliest settlers. He was as religious as they, as stern and inflexible, and as deeply imbued with democratic principles. He, better than any one else, may be taken as a representative of the people of New England, and of the spirit with which they engaged in the Revolutionary struggle. He was a poor man, and earned his bread by a humble occupation; but with his tongue and pen he made the King of England tremble on his throne. Remember him, my children, as one of the strong men of our country.”

“Here is one whose looks show a very different character,” observed Laurence, turning to the portrait of John Hancock. “I should think, by his splendid dress and courtly aspect, that he was one of the king’s friends.”

“There never was a greater contrast than between Samuel Adams and John Hancock,” said Grandfather. “Yet they were of the same side in politics, and had an equal agency in the Revolution. Hancock was born to the inheritance of the largest fortune in New England. His tastes and habits were aristocratic. He loved gorgeous attire, a splendid mansion, magnificent furniture, stately festivals, and all that was glittering and pompous in external things. His manners were so polished that there stood not a nobleman at the footstool of King George’s throne who was a more skilful courtier than John Hancock might have been. Nevertheless, he in his embroidered clothes, and Samuel Adams in his threadbare coat, wrought together in the cause of liberty. Adams acted from pure and rigid principle. Hancock, though he loved his country, yet thought quite as much of his own popularity as he did of the people’s rights. It is remarkable that these two men, so very different as I describe them, were the only two exempted from pardon by the king’s proclamation.”

On the next leaf of the book was the portrait of General Joseph Warren. Charley recognized the name, and said that here was a greater man than either Hancock or Adams.

“Warren was an eloquent and able patriot,” replied Grandfather. “He deserves a lasting memory for his zealous efforts in behalf of liberty. No man’s voice was more powerful in Faneuil Hall than Joseph Warren’s. If his death had not happened so early in the contest, he would probably have gained a high name as a soldier.”

The next portrait was a venerable man, who held his thumb under his chin, and, through his spectacles, appeared to be attentively reading a manuscript.

“Here we see the most illustrious Boston boy that ever lived,” said Grandfather. “This is Benjamin Franklin. But I will not try to compress into a few sentences the character of the sage, who, as a Frenchman expressed it, snatched the lightning from the sky and the sceptre from a tyrant. Mr. Sparks must help you to the knowledge of Franklin.”

The book likewise contained portraits of James Otis and Josiah Quincy. Both of them, Grandfather observed, were men of wonderful talents and true patriotism. Their voices were like the stirring tones of a trumpet arousing the country to defend its freedom. Heaven seemed to have provided a greater number of eloquent men than had appeared at any other period, in order that the people might be fully instructed as to their wrongs and the method of resistance.

“It is marvellous,” said Grandfather, “to see how many powerful writers, orators, and soldiers started up just at the time when they were wanted. There was a man for every kind of work. It is equally wonderful that men of such different characters were all made to unite in the one object of establishing the freedom and independence of America. There was an over-ruling Providence above them.”

“Here, was another great man,” remarked Laurence, pointing to the portrait of John Adams.

“Yes; an earnest, warm-tempered, honest and most able man,” said Grandfather. “At the period of which we are now speaking he was a lawyer in Boston. He was destined in after years to be ruler over the whole American people, whom he contributed so much to form into a nation.”

Grandfather here remarked that many a New-Englander, who had passed his boyhood and youth in obscurity, afterward attained to a fortune which he never could have foreseen even in his most ambitious dreams. John Adams, the second President of the United States and the equal of crowned kings, was once a schoolmaster and country lawyer. Hancock, the first signer of the Declaration of Independence, served his apprenticeship with a merchant. Samuel Adams, afterwards governor of Massachusetts, was a small tradesman and a tax-gatherer. General Warren was a physician, General Lincoln a farmer, and General Knox a bookbinder. General Nathaniel Greene, the best soldier, except Washington, in the Revolutionary army, was a Quaker and a blacksmith. All these became illustrious men, and can never be forgotten in American history.

“And any boy who is born in America may look forward to the same things,” said our ambitious friend Charley.

After these observations, Grandfather drew the book of portraits towards him and showed the children several British peers and members of Parliament who had exerted themselves either for or against the rights of America. There were the Earl of Bute, Mr. Grenville, and Lord North. These were looked upon as deadly enemies to our country.

Among the friends of America was Mr. Pitt, afterward Earl of Chatham, who spent so much of his wondrous eloquence in endeavoring to warn England of the consequences of her injustice. He fell down on the floor of the House of Lords after uttering almost his dying words in defence of our privileges as freemen. There was Edmund Burke, one of the wisest men and greatest orators that ever the world produced. There was Colonel Barry, who had been among our fathers, and knew that they had courage enough to die for their rights. There was Charles James Fox, who never rested until he had silenced our enemies in the House of Commons.

“It is very remarkable to observe how many of the ablest orators in the British Parliament were favorable to America,” said Grandfather. “We ought to remember these great Englishmen with gratitude; for their speeches encouraged our fathers almost as much as those of our own orators in Faneuil Hall and under Liberty Tree. Opinions which might have been received with doubt, if expressed only by a native American, were set down as true, beyond dispute, when they came from the lips of Chatham, Burke, Barre, or Fox.”

“But, Grandfather,” asked Lawrence, “were there no able and eloquent men in this country who took the part of King George?”

“There were many men of talent who said what they could in defence of the king’s tyrannical proceedings,” replied Grandfather. “But they had the worst side of the argument, and therefore seldom said anything worth remembering. Moreover, their hearts were faint and feeble; for they felt that the people scorned and detested them. They had no friends, no defence, except in the bayonets of the British troops. A blight fell upon all their faculties, because they were contending against the rights of their own native land.”

“What were the names of some of them?” inquired Charley.

“Governor Hutchinson, Chief Justice Oliver, Judge Auchmuty, the Rev. Mather Byles, and several other clergymen, were among the most noted loyalists,” answered Grandfather.

“I wish the people had tarred and feathered every man of them!” cried Charley.

“That wish is very wrong, Charley,” said Grandfather. “You must not think that there is no integrity and honor except among those who stood up for the freedom of America. For aught I know, there was quite as much of these qualities on one side as on the other. Do you see nothing admirable in a faithful adherence to an unpopular cause? Can you not respect that principle of loyalty which made the royalists give up country, friends, fortune, everything, rather than be false to their king? It was a mistaken principle; but many of them cherished it honorably, and were martyrs to it.”

“Oh, I was wrong!” said Charley, ingenuously.

“And I would risk my life rather than one of those good old royalists should be tarred and feathered.”

“The time is now come when we may judge fairly of them,” continued Grandfather. “Be the good and true men among them honored; for they were as much our countrymen as the patriots were. And, thank Heaven, our country need not be ashamed of her sons,—of most of them at least,—whatever side they took in the Revolutionary contest.”

Among the portraits was one of King George III Little Alice clapped her hands, and seemed pleased with the bluff good-nature of his physiognomy. But Laurence thought it strange that a man with such a face, indicating hardly a common share of intellect, should have had influence enough on human affairs to convulse the world with war. Grandfather observed that this poor king had always appeared to him one of the most unfortunate persons that ever lived. He was so honest and conscientious, that, if he had been only a private man, his life would probably have been blameless and happy. But his was that worst of fortunes,—to be placed in a station far beyond his abilities.

“And so,” said Grandfather, “his life, while he retained what intellect Heaven had gifted him with, was one long mortification. At last he grew crazed with care and trouble. For nearly twenty years the men arch of England was confined as a madman. In his old age, too, God took away his eyesight; so that his royal palace was nothing to him but a dark, lonesome prison-house.”


“OUR old chair?” resumed Grandfather, “did not now stand in the midst of a gay circle of British officers. The troops, as I told you, had been removed to Castle William immediately after the Boston massacre. Still, however, there were many tories, custom-house officers, and Englishmen who used to assemble in the British Coffee House and talk over the affairs of the period. Matters grew worse and worse; and in 1773 the people did a deed which incensed the king and ministry more than any of their former doings.”

Grandfather here described the affair, which is known by the name of the Boston Tea Party. The Americans, for some time past, had left off importing tea, on account of the oppressive tax. The East India Company, in London, had a large stock of tea on hand, which they had expected to sell to the Americans, but could find no market for it. But after a while, the government persuaded this company of merchants to send the tea to America.

“How odd it is,” observed Clara, “that the liberties of America should have had anything to do with a cup of tea!”

Grandfather smiled, and proceeded with his narrative. When the people of Boston heard that several cargoes of tea were coming across the Atlantic, they held a great many meetings at Faneuil Hall, in the Old South Church, and under Liberty Tree. In the midst of their debates, three ships arrived in the harbor with the tea on board. The people spent more than a fortnight in consulting what should be done. At last, on the 16th of December, 1773, they demanded of Governor Hutchinson that he should immediately send the ships back to England.

The governor replied that the ships must not leave the harbor until the custom-house duties upon the tea should be paid. Now, the payment of these duties was the very thing against which the people had set their faces; because it was a tax unjustly imposed upon America by the English government. Therefore, in the dusk of the evening, as soon as Governor Hutchinson’s reply was received, an immense crowd hastened to Griffin’s Wharf, where the tea-ships lay. The place is now called Liverpool Wharf.

“When the crowd reached the wharf,” said Grandfather, “they saw that a set of wild-looking figures were already on board of the ships. You would have imagined that the Indian warriors of old times had come back again; for they wore the Indian dress, and had their faces covered with red and black paint, like the Indians when they go to war. These grim figures hoisted the tea-chests on the decks of the vessels; broke them open, and threw all the contents into the harbor.”

“Grandfather,” said little Alice, “I suppose Indians don’t love tea; else they would never waste it so.”

“They were not real Indians, my child,” answered Grandfather. “They were white men in disguise; because a heavy punishment would have been inflicted on them if the king’s officers had found who they were. But it was never known. From that day to this, though the matter has been talked of by all the world, nobody can tell the names of those Indian figures. Some people say that there were very famous men among them, who afterwards became governors and generals. Whether this be true I cannot tell.”

When tidings of this bold deed were carried to England, King George was greatly enraged. Parliament immediately passed an act, by which all vessels were forbidden to take in or discharge their cargoes at the port of Boston. In this way they expected to ruin all the merchants, and starve the poor people, by depriving them of employment. At the same time another act was passed, taking away many rights and privileges which had been granted in the charter of Massachusetts.

Governor Hutchinson, soon afterward, was summoned to England, in order that he might give his advice about the management of American affairs. General Gage, an officer of the old French War, and since commander-in-chief of the British forces in America, was appointed governor in his stead. One of his first acts was to make Salem, instead of Boston, the metropolis of Massachusetts, by summoning the General Court to meet there.

According to Grandfather’s description, this was the most gloomy time that Massachusetts had ever seen. The people groaned under as heavy a tyranny as in the days of Sir Edmund Andros. Boston looked as if it were afflicted with some dreadful pestilence,—so sad were the inhabitants, and so desolate the streets. There was no cheerful hum of business. The merchants shut up their warehouses, and the laboring men stood idle about the wharves. But all America felt interested in the good town of Boston; and contributions were raised, in many places, for the relief of the poor inhabitants.

“Our dear old chair!” exclaimed Clara. “How dismal it must have been now!”

“Oh,” replied Grandfather, “a gay throng of officers had now come back to the British Coffee House; so that the old chair had no lack of mirthful company. Soon after General Gage became governor a great many troops had arrived, and were encamped upon the Common. Boston was now a garrisoned and fortified town; for the general had built a battery across the Neck, on the road to Roxbury, and placed guards for its defence. Everything looked as if a civil war were close at hand.”

“Did the people make ready to fight?” asked Charley.

“A Continental Congress assembled at Philadelphia,” said Grandfather, “and proposed such measures as they thought most conducive to the public good. A Provincial Congress was likewise chosen in Massachusetts. They exhorted the people to arm and discipline themselves. A great number of minutemen were enrolled. The Americans called them minute-men, because they engaged to be ready to fight at a minute’s warning. The English officers laughed, and said that the name was a very proper one, because the minute-men would run away the minute they saw the enemy. Whether they would fight or run was soon to be proved.”

Grandfather told the children that the first open resistance offered to the British troops, in the province of Massachusetts, was at Salem. Colonel Timothy Pickering, with thirty or forty militia-men, prevented the English colonel, Leslie, with four times as many regular soldiers, from taking possession of some military stores. No blood was shed on this occasion; but soon afterward it began to flow.

General Gage sent eight hundred soldiers to Concord, about eighteen miles from Boston, to destroy some ammunition and provisions which the colonists had collected there. They set out on their march on the evening of the 18th of April, 1775. The next morning the general sent Lord’ Percy with nine hundred men to strengthen the troops that had gone before. All that day the inhabitants of Boston heard various rumors. Some said that the British were making great slaughter among our countrymen. Others affirmed that every man had turned out with his musket, and that not a single soldier would ever get back to Boston.

“It was after sunset,” continued Grandfather, “when the troops, who had marched forth so proudly, were seen entering Charlestown. They were covered with dust, and so hot and weary that their tongues hung out of their mouths. Many of them were faint with wounds. They had not all returned. Nearly three hundred were strewn, dead or dying, along the road from Concord. The yeomanry had risen upon the invaders and driven them back.”

“Was this the battle of Lexington?” asked Charley.

“Yes,” replied Grandfather; “it was so called, because the British, without provocation, had fired upon a party of minute-men, near Lexington meeting-house, and killed eight of them. That fatal volley, which was fired by order of Major Pitcairn, began the war of the Revolution.”

About this time, if Grandfather had been correctly informed, our chair disappeared from the British Coffee House. The manner of its departure cannot be satisfactorily ascertained. Perhaps the keeper of the Coffee House turned it out of doors on account of its old-fashioned aspect. Perhaps he sold it as a curiosity. Perhaps it was taken, without leave, by some person who regarded it as public property because it had once figured under Liberty Tree. Or perhaps the old chair, being of a peaceable disposition, has made use of its four oaken legs and run away from the seat of war.

“It would have made a terrible clattering over the pavement,” said Charley, laughing.

“Meanwhile,” continued Grandfather, “during the mysterious non-appearance of our chair, an army of twenty thousand men had started up and come to the siege of Boston. General Gage and his troops were cooped up within the narrow precincts of the peninsula. On the 17th of June, 1775, the famous battle of Bunker Hill was fought. Here General Warren fell. The British got the victory, indeed, but with the loss of more than a thousand officers and men.”

“Oh Grandfather,” cried Charley, “you must tell us about that famous battle.”

“No, Charley,” said Grandfather, “I am not like other historians. Battles shall not hold a prominent place in the history of our quiet and comfortable old chair. But to-morrow evening, Laurence, Clara, and yourself, and dear little Alice too, shall visit the Diorama of Bunker Hill. There you shall see the whole business, the burning of Charlestown and all, with your own eyes, and hear the cannon and musketry with your own ears.”


THE next evening but one, when the children had given Grandfather a full account of the Diorama of Bunker Hill, they entreated him not to keep them any longer in suspense about the fate of his chair. The reader will recollect that, at the last accounts, it had trotted away upon its poor old legs nobody knew whither. But, before gratifying their curiosity, Grandfather found it necessary to say something about public events.

The Continental Congress, which was assembled at Philadelphia, was composed of delegates from all the colonies. They had now appointed George Washington, of Virginia, to be commander-in-chief of all the American armies. He was, at that time, a member of Congress; but immediately left Philadelphia, and began his journey to Massachusetts. On the 3d of July, 1775, he arrived at Cambridge, and took command of the troops which were besieging General Gage.

“O Grandfather,” exclaimed Laurence, “it makes my heart throb to think what is coming now. We are to see General Washington himself.”

The children crowded around Grandfather and looked earnestly into his face. Even little Alice opened her sweet blue eyes, with her lips apart, and almost held her breath to listen; so instinctive is the reverence of childhood for the father of his country.

Grandfather paused a moment; for he felt as if it might be irreverent to introduce the hallowed shade of Washington into a history where an ancient elbow-chair occupied the most prominent place. However, he determined to proceed with his narrative, and speak of the hero when it was needful, but with an unambitious simplicity.

So Grandfather told his auditors, that, on General Washington’s arrival at Cambridge, his first care was to reconnoitre the British troops with his spy-glass, and to examine the condition of his own army. He found that the American troops amounted to about fourteen thousand men. They were extended all round the peninsula of Boston, a space of twelve miles, from the high grounds of Roxbury on the right to Mystic River on the left. Some were living in tents of sailcloth, some in shanties rudely constructed of boards, some in huts of stone or turf with curious windows and doors of basket-work.

In order to be near the centre and oversee the whole of this wide-stretched army, the commander-in-chief made his headquarters at Cambridge, about half a mile from the colleges. A mansion-house, which perhaps had been the country seat of some Tory gentle man, was provided for his residence.

“When General Washington first entered this mansion,” said Grandfather, “he was ushered up the staircase and shown into a handsome apartment. He sat down in a large chair, which was the most conspicuous object in the room. The noble figure of Washington would have done honor to a throne. As he sat there, with his hand resting on the hilt of his sheathed sword, which was placed between his knees, his whole aspect well befitted the chosen man on whom his country leaned for the defence of her dearest rights. America seemed safe under his protection. His face was grander than any sculptor had ever wrought in marble; none could behold him without awe and reverence. Never before had the lion’s head at the summit of the chair looked down upon such a face and form as Washington’s.”

“Why, Grandfather!” cried Clara, clasping her hands in amazement, “was it really so? Did General Washington sit in our great chair?”

“I knew how it would be,” said Laurence; “I foresaw it the moment Grandfather began to speak.”

Grandfather smiled. But, turning from the personal and domestic life of the illustrious leader, he spoke of the methods which Washington adopted to win back the metropolis of New England from the British.

The army, when he took command of it, was without any discipline or order. The privates considered themselves as good as their officers; and seldom thought it necessary to obey their commands, unless they understood the why and wherefore. Moreover, they were enlisted for so short a period, that, as soon as they began to be respectable soldiers, it was time to discharge them. Then came new recruits, who had to be taught their duty before they could be of any service. Such was the army with which Washington had to contend against more than twenty veteran British regiments.

Some of the men had no muskets, and almost all were without bayonets. Heavy cannon, for battering the British fortifications, were much wanted. There was but a small quantity of powder and ball, few tools to build intrenchments with, and a great deficiency of provisions and clothes for the soldiers. Yet, in spite of these perplexing difficulties, the eyes of the whole people were fixed on General Washington, expecting him to undertake some great enterprise against the hostile army.

The first thing that he found necessary was to bring his own men into better order and discipline. It is wonderful how soon he transformed this rough mob of country people into the semblance of a regular army. One of Washington’s most invaluable characteristics was the faculty of bringing order out of confusion. All business with which he had any concern seemed to regulate itself as if by magic. The influence of his mind was like light gleaming through an unshaped world. It was this faculty, more than any other, that made him so fit to ride upon the storm of the Revolution when everything was unfixed and drifting about in a troubled sea.

“Washington had not been long at the head of the army,” proceeded Grandfather, “before his soldiers thought as highly of him as if he had led them to a hundred victories. They knew that he was the very man whom the country needed, and the only one who could bring them safely through the great contest against the might of England. They put entire confidence in his courage, wisdom, and integrity.”

“And were they not eager to follow him against the British?” asked Charley.

“Doubtless they would have gone whithersoever his sword pointed the way,” answered Grandfather; “and Washington was anxious to make a decisive assault upon the enemy. But as the enterprise was very hazardous, he called a council of all the generals in the army. Accordingly they came from their different posts, and were ushered into the reception-room. The commander-in-chief arose from our great chair to greet them.”

“What were their names?” asked Charley.

“There was General Artemas Ward,” replied Grandfather, “a lawyer by profession. He had commanded the troops before Washington’s arrival Another was General Charles Lee, who had been a colonel in the English army, and was thought to possess vast military science. He came to the council, followed by two or three dogs which were always at his heels. There was General Putnam, too, who was known all over New England by the name of Old Put.”

“Was it he who killed the wolf?” inquired Charley.

“The same,” said Grandfather; “and he had done good service in the old French War. His occupation was that of a farmer; but he left his plough in the furrow at the news of Lexington battle. Then there was General Gates, who afterward gained great renown at Saratoga, and lost it again at Camden. General Greene, of Rhode Island, was likewise at the council. Washington soon discovered him to be one of the best officers in the army.”

When the generals were all assembled, Washington consulted them about a plan for storming the English batteries. But it was their unanimous opinion that so perilous an enterprise ought not to be attempted. The army, therefore, continued to besiege Boston, preventing the enemy from obtaining supplies of provisions, but without taking any immediate measures to get possession of the town. In ‘this manner the sum met, autumn, and winter passed away.

“Many a night, doubtless,” said Grandfather, “after Washington had been all day on horseback, galloping from one post of the army to another, he used to sit in our great chair, rapt in earnest thought. Had you seen him, you might have supposed that his whole mind was fixed on the blue china tiles which adorned the old-fashioned fireplace. But, in reality, he was meditating how to capture the British army, or drive it out of Boston. Once, when there was a hard frost, he formed a scheme to cross the Charles River on the ice. But the other generals could not be persuaded that there was any prospect of success.”

“What were the British doing all this time?” inquired Charley.

“They lay idle in the town,” replied Grandfather. “General Gage had been recalled to England, and was succeeded by Sir William Howe. The British army and the inhabitants of Boston were now in great distress. Being shut up in the town so long, they had consumed almost all their provisions and burned up all their fuel. The soldiers tore down the Old North Church, and used its rotten boards and timbers for firewood. To heighten their distress, the small-pox broke out. They probably lost far more men by cold, hunger, and sickness than had been slain at Lexington and Bunker Hill.”

“What a dismal time for the poor women and children!” exclaimed Clara.

“At length,” continued Grandfather, “in March, 1776, General Washington, who had now a good supply of powder, began a terrible cannonade and bombardment from Dorchester Heights. One of the cannon-balls which he fired into the town struck the tower of the Brattle Street Church, where it may still be seen. Sir William Howe made preparations to cross over in boats and drive the Americans from their batteries, but was prevented by a violent gale and storm. General Washington next erected a battery on Nook’s Hill, so near the enemy that it was impossible for them to remain in Boston any longer.”

“Hurrah! Hurrah!” cried Charley, clapping his hands triumphantly. “I wish I had been there to see how sheepish the Englishmen looked.”

And as Grandfather thought that Boston had never witnessed a more interesting period than this, when the royal power was in its death agony, he determined to take a peep into the town and imagine the feelings of those who were quitting it forever.


“ALAS for the poor tories!” said Grandfather. “Until the very last morning after Washington’s troops had shown themselves on Nook’s Hill, these unfortunate persons could not believe that the audacious rebels, as they called the Americans, would ever prevail against King George’s army. But when they saw the British soldiers preparing to embark on board of the ships of war, then they knew that they had lost their country. Could the patriots have known how bitter were their regrets, they would have forgiven them all their evil deeds, and sent a blessing after them as they sailed away from their native shore.”

In order to make the children sensible of the pitiable condition of these men, Grandfather singled out Peter Oliver, chief justice of Massachusetts under the crown, and imagined him walking through the streets of Boston on the morning before he left it forever.

This effort of Grandfather’s fancy may be called the Tory’s Farewell.

Old Chief Justice Oliver threw on his red cloak, and placed his three-cornered hat on the top of his white wig. In this garb he intended to go forth and take a parting look at objects that had been familiar to him from his youth. Accordingly, he began his walk in the north part of the town, and soon came to Faneuil Hall. This edifice, the cradle of liberty, had been used by the British officers as a playhouse.

“Would that I could see its walls crumble to dust!” thought the chief justice; and, in the bitterness of his heart, he shook his fist at the famous hall. “There began the mischief which now threatens to rend asunder the British empire. The seditious harangues of demagogues in Faneuil Hall have made rebels of a loyal people and deprived me of my country.”

He then passed through a narrow avenue and found himself in King Street, almost on the very spot which, six years before, had been reddened by the blood of the Boston massacre. The chief justice stepped cautiously, and shuddered, as if he were afraid that, even now, the gore of his slaughtered countrymen might stain his feet.

Before him rose the Town House, on the front of which were still displayed the royal arms. Within that edifice he had dispensed justice to the people in the days when his name was never mentioned without honor. There, too, was the balcony whence the trumpet had been sounded and the proclamation read to an assembled multitude, whenever a new king of England ascended the throne.

“I remember—I remember,” said Chief Justice Oliver to himself, “when his present most sacred Majesty was proclaimed. Then how the people shouted! Each man would have poured out his life-blood to keep a hair of King George’s head from harm. But now there is scarcely a tongue in all New England that does not imprecate curses on his name. It is ruin and disgrace to love him. Can it be possible that a few fleeting years have wrought such a change?”

It did not occur to the chief justice that nothing but the most grievous tyranny could so soon have changed the people’s hearts. Hurrying from the spot, he entered Cornhill, as the lower part of Washington Street was then called. Opposite to the Town House was the waste foundation of the Old North Church. The sacrilegious hands of the British soldiers had torn it down, and kindled their barrack fires with the fragments.

Farther on he passed beneath the tower of the Old South. The threshold of this sacred edifice was worn by the iron tramp of horses’ feet; for the interior had been used as a riding-school and rendezvous for a regiment of dragoons. As the chief justice lingered an instant at the door a trumpet sounded within, and the regiment came clattering forth and galloped down the street. They were proceeding to the place of embarkation.

“Let them go!” thought the chief justice, with somewhat of an old Puritan feeling in his breast. “No good can come of men who desecrate the house of God.”

He went on a few steps farther, and paused before the Province House. No range of brick stores had then sprung up to hide the mansion of the royal governors from public view. It had a spacious courtyard, bordered with trees, and enclosed with a wrought-iron fence. On the cupola that surmounted the edifice was the gilded figure of an Indian chief, ready to let fly an arrow from his bow. Over the wide front door was a balcony, in which the chief justice had often stood when the governor and high officers of the province showed themselves to the people.

While Chief Justice Oliver gazed sadly at the Province House, before which a sentinel was pacing, the double leaves of the door were thrown open, and Sir William Howe made his appearance. Behind him came a throng of officers, whose steel scabbards clattered against the stones as they hastened down the court-yard. Sir William Howe was a dark-complexioned man, stern and haughty in his deportment. He stepped as proudly in that hour of defeat as if he were going to receive the submission of the rebel general.

The chief justice bowed and accosted him.

“This is a grievous hour for both of us, Sir William,” said he.

“Forward! gentlemen,” said Sir William Howe to the officers who attended him; “we have no time to hear lamentations now.”

And, coldly bowing, he departed. Thus the chief justice had a foretaste of the mortifications which the exiled New-Englanders afterwards suffered from the haughty Britons. They were despised even by that country which they had served more faithfully than their own.

A still heavier trial awaited Chief Justice Oliver, as he passed onward from the Province House. He was recognized by the people in the street. They had long known him as the descendant of an ancient and honorable family. They had seen him sitting in his scarlet robes upon the judgment-seat. All his life long, either for the sake of his ancestors or on account of his own dignified station and unspotted character, he had been held in high respect. The old gentry of the province were looked upon almost as noblemen while Massachusetts was under royal government.

But now all hereditary reverence for birth and rank was gone. The inhabitants shouted in derision when they saw the venerable form of the old chief justice. They laid the wrongs of the country and their own sufferings during the siege—their hunger, cold, and sickness—partly to his charge and to that of his brother Andrew and his kinsman Hutchinson. It was by their advice that the king had acted in all the colonial troubles. But the day of recompense was come.

“See the old tory!” cried the people, with bitter laughter. “He is taking his last look at us. Let him show his white wig among us an hour hence, and we’ll give him a coat of tar and feathers!”

The chief justice, however, knew that he need fear no violence so long as the British troops were in possession of the town. But, alas! it was a bitter thought that he should leave no loving memory behind him. His forefathers, long after their spirits left the earth, had been honored in the affectionate remembrance of the people. But he, who would henceforth be dead to his native land, would have no epitaph save scornful and vindictive words. The old man wept.

“They curse me, they invoke all kinds of evil on my head!” thought he, in the midst of his tears. “But, if they could read my heart, they would know that I love New England well. Heaven bless her, and bring her again under the rule of our gracious king! A blessing, too, on these poor, misguided people!”

The chief justice flung out his hands with a gesture, as if he were bestowing a parting benediction on his countrymen. He had now reached the southern portion of the town, and was far within the range of cannon-shot from the American batteries. Close beside him was the bread stump of a tree, which appeared to have been recently cut down. Being weary and heavy at heart, he was about to sit down upon the stump.

Suddenly it flashed upon his recollection that this was the stump of Liberty Tree! The British soldiers had cut it down, vainly boasting that they could as easily overthrow the liberties of America. Under its shadowy branches, ten years before, the brother of Chief Justice Oliver had been compelled to acknowledge the supremacy of the people by taking the oath which they prescribed. This tree was connected with all the events that had severed America from England.

“Accursed tree!” cried the chief justice, gnashing his teeth; for anger overcame his sorrow. “Would that thou hadst been left standing till Hancock, Adams, and every other traitor, were hanged upon thy branches! Then fitly mightest thou have been hewn down and cast into the flames.”

He turned back, hurried to Long Wharf without looking behind him, embarked with the British troops for Halifax, and never saw his country more. Throughout the remainder of his days Chief Justice Oliver was agitated with those same conflicting emotions that had tortured him while taking his farewell walk through the streets of Boston. Deep love and fierce resentment burned in one flame within his breast, Anathemas struggled with benedictions. He felt as if one breath of his native air would renew his life, yet would have died rather than breathe the same air with rebels. And such likewise were the feelings of the other exiles, a thousand in number, who departed with the British army. Were they not the most unfortunate of men?

“The misfortunes of those exiled tories,” observed Laurence, “must have made them think of the poor exiles of Acadia.”

“They had a sad time of it, I suppose,” said Charley. “But I choose to rejoice with the patriots, rather than be sorrowful with the tories. Grandfather, what did General Washington do now?”

“As the rear of the British army embarked from the wharf,” replied Grandfather, “General Washington’s troops marched over the Neck, through the fortification gates, and entered Boston in triumph. And now, for the first time since the Pilgrims landed, Massachusetts was free from the dominion of England. May she never again be subjected to foreign rule,—never again feel the rod of oppression!”

“Dear Grandfather,” asked little Alice, “did General Washington bring our chair back to Boston?”

“I know not how long the chair remained at Cambridge,” said Grandfather. “Had it stayed there till this time, it could not have found a better or more appropriate shelter, The mansion which General Washington occupied is still standing, and his apartments have since been tenanted by several eminent men. Governor Everett, while a professor in the University, resided there. So at an after period did Mr. Sparks, whose invaluable labors have connected his name with the immortality of Washington. And at this very time a venerable friend and contemporary of your Grandfather, after long pilgrimages beyond the sea, has set up his staff of rest at Washington’s headquarters.”

“You mean Professor Longfellow, Grandfather,” said Laurence. “Oh, how I should love to see the author of those beautiful Voices of the Night!”

“We will visit him next summer,” answered Grandfather, “and take Clara and little Alice with us,—and Charley, too, if he will be quiet.”


WHEN Grandfather resumed his narrative the next evening, he told the children that he had some difficulty in tracing the movements of the chair during a short period after General Washington’s departure from Cambridge.

Within a few months, however, it made its appearance at a shop in Boston, before the door of which was seen a striped pole. In the interior was displayed a stuffed alligator, a rattlesnake’s skin, a bundle of Indian arrows, an old-fashioned matchlock gun, a walking-stick of Governor Winthrop’s, a wig of old Cotton Mather’s, and a colored print of the Boston massacre. In short, it was a barber’s shop, kept by a Mr. Pierce, who prided himself on having shaved General Washington, Old Put, and many other famous persons.

“This was not a very dignified situation for our venerable chair,” continued Grandfather; “but, you know, there is no better place for news than a barber’s shop. All the events of the Revolutionary War were heard of there sooner than anywhere else. People used to sit in the chair, reading the newspaper, or talking, and waiting to be shaved, while Mr. Pierce, with his scissors and razor, was at work upon the heads or chins of his other customers.”

“I am sorry the chair could not betake itself to some more suitable place of refuge,” said Laurence.

“It was old now, and must have longed for quiet. Besides, after it had held Washington in its arms, it ought not to have been compelled to receive all the world. It should have been put into the pulpit of the Old South Church, or some other consecrated place.”

“Perhaps so,” answered Grandfather. “But the chair, in the course of its varied existence, had grown so accustomed to general intercourse with society, that I doubt whether it would have contented itself in the pulpit of the Old South. There it would have stood solitary, or with no livelier companion than the silent organ, in the opposite gallery, six days out of seven. I incline to think that it had seldom been situated more to its mind than on the sanded floor of the snug little barber’s shop.”

Then Grandfather amused his children and himself with fancying all the different sorts of people who had occupied our chair while they awaited the leisure Of the barber.

There was the old clergyman, such as Dr. Chauncey, wearing a white wig, which the barber took from his head and placed upon a wig-block. Half an hour, perhaps, was spent in combing and powdering this reverend appendage to a clerical skull. There, too, were officers of the Continental army, who required their hair to be pomatumed and plastered, so as to give them a bold and martial aspect. There, once in a while, was seen the thin, care-worn, melancholy visage of an old tory, with a Wig that, in times long past, had perhaps figured at a Province House ball. And there, not unfrequently, sat the rough captain of a privateer, just returned from a successful cruise, in which he had captured half a dozen richly laden vessels belonging to King George’s subjects. And sometimes a rosy little school-boy climbed into our chair, and sat staring, with wide-open eyes, at the alligator, the rattlesnake, and the other curiosities of the barber’s shop. His mother had sent him, with sixpence in his hand, to get his glossy curls cropped off. The incidents of the Revolution plentifully supplied the barber’s customers with topics of conversation. They talked sorrowfully of the death of General Montgomery and the failure of our troops to take Quebec; for the New-Englanders were now as anxious to get Canada from the English as they had formerly been to conquer it from the French.

“But very soon,” said Grandfather, “came news from Philadelphia, the most important that America had ever heard of. On the 4th of July, 1776, Congress had signed the Declaration of Independence. The thirteen colonies were now free and independent States. Dark as our prospects were, the inhabitants welcomed these glorious tidings, and resolved to perish rather than again bear the yoke of England.”

“And I would perish, too!” cried Charley.

“It was a great day,—a glorious deed!” said Laurence, coloring high with enthusiasm. “And, Grandfather, I love to think that the sages in Congress showed themselves as bold and true as the soldiers in the field; for it must have required more courage to sign the Declaration of Independence than to fight the enemy in battle.”

Grandfather acquiesced in Laurence’s view of the matter. He then touched briefly and hastily upon the prominent events of the Revolution. The thunderstorm of war had now rolled southward, and did not again burst upon Massachusetts, where its first fury had been felt. But she contributed her full share. So the success of the contest. Wherever a battle was fought,—whether at Long Island, White Plains, Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, or Germantown,—some of her brave sons were found slain upon the field.

In October, 1777, General Burgoyne surrendered his army, at Saratoga, to the American general, Gates. The captured troops were sent to Massachusetts. Not long afterwards Dr. Franklin and other American commissioners made a treaty at Paris, by which France bound herself to assist our countrymen. The gallant Lafayette was already fighting for our freedom by the side of Washington. In 1778 a French fleet, commanded by Count d’Estaing, spent a considerable time in Boston harbor. It marks the vicissitudes of human affairs, that the French, our ancient enemies, should come hither as comrades and brethren, and that kindred England should be our foe.

“While the war was raging in the Middle and Southern States,” proceeded Grandfather, “Massachusetts had leisure to settle a new constitution of government instead of the royal charter. This was done in 1780. In the same year John Hancock, who had been president of Congress, was chosen governor of the State. He was the first whom the people had elected since the days of old Simon Bradstreet.”

“But, Grandfather, who had been governor since the British were driven away?” inquired Laurence. “General Gage and Sir William Howe were the last whom you have told us of.”

“There had been no governor for the last four years,” replied Grandfather. “Massachusetts had been ruled by the Legislature, to whom the people paid obedience of their own accord. It is one of the most remarkable circumstances in our history, that, when the charter government was overthrown by the war, no anarchy nor the slightest confusion ensued, This was a great honor to the people. But now Hancock was proclaimed governor by sound of trumpet; and there was again a settled government.”

Grandfather again adverted to the progress of the war. In 1781 General Greene drove the British from the Southern States. In October of the same year General Washington compelled Lord Cornwallis to surrender his army, at Yorktown, in Virginia. This was the last great event of the Revolutionary contest. King George and his ministers perceived that all the might of England could not compel America to renew her allegiance to the crown. After a great deal of discussion, a treaty of peace was signed in September, 1783.

“Now, at last,” said Grandfather, “after weary years of war, the regiments of Massachusetts returned in peace to their families. Now the stately and dignified leaders, such as General Lincoln and General Knox, with their powdered hair and their uniforms of blue and buff, were seen moving about the streets.”

“And little boys ran after them, I suppose,” remarked Charley; “and the grown people bowed respectfully.”

“They deserved respect; for they were good men as well as brave,” answered Grandfather. “Now, too, the inferior officers and privates came home to seek some peaceful occupation. Their friends remembered them as slender and smooth-checked young men; but they returned with the erect and rigid mien of disciplined soldiers. Some hobbled on crutches and wooden legs; others had received wounds, which were still rankling in their breasts. Many, alas! had fallen in battle, and perhaps were left unburied on the bloody field.”

“The country must have been sick of war,” observed Laurence.

“One would have thought so,” said Grandfather. “Yet only two or three years elapsed before the folly of some misguided men caused another mustering of soldiers. This affair was called Shays’s war, because a Captain Shays was the chief leader of the insurgents.”

“Oh Grandfather, don’t let there be another war!” cried little Alice, piteously.

Grandfather comforted his dear little girl by assuring her that there was no great mischief done. Shays’s war happened in the latter part of 1786 and the beginning of the following year. Its principal cause was the badness of times. The State of Massachusetts, in its public capacity, was very much in debt. So likewise were many of the people. An insurrection took place, the object of which seems to have been to interrupt the course of law and get rid of debts and taxes.

James Bowdoin, a good and able man, was now governor of Massachusetts. He sent General Lincoln, at the head of four thousand men, to put down the insurrection. This general, who had fought through several hard campaigns in the Revolution, managed matters like an old soldier, and totally defeated the rebels at the expense of very little blood.

“There is but one more public event to be recorded in the history of our chair,” proceeded Grandfather. “In the year 1794 Samuel Adams was elected governor of Massachusetts. I have told you what a distinguished patriot he was, and how much he resembled the stern old Puritans. Could the ancient freemen of Massachusetts who lived in the days of the first charter have arisen from their graves, they would probably have voted for Samuel Adams to be governor.”

“Well, Grandfather, I hope he sat in our chair,” said Clara.

“He did,” replied Grandfather. “He had long been in the habit of visiting the barber’s shop, where our venerable chair, philosophically forgetful of its former dignities, had now spent nearly eighteen not uncomfortable years. Such a remarkable piece of furniture, so evidently a relic of long-departed times, could not escape the notice of Samuel Adams. He made minute researches into its history, and ascertained what a succession of excellent and famous people had occupied it.”

“How did he find it out?” asked Charley; “for I suppose the chair could not tell its own history.”

“There used to be a vast collection of ancient letters and other documents in the tower of the Old South Church,” answered Grandfather. “Perhaps the history of our chair was contained among these. At all events, Samuel Adams appears to have been well acquainted with it. When he became governor, he felt that he could have no more honorable seat than that which had been the ancient chair of state. He therefore purchased it for a trifle, and filled it worthily for three years as governor of Massachusetts.” “And what next?” asked Charley.

“That is all,” said Grandfather, heaving a sigh; for he could not help being a little sad at the thought that his stories must close here. “Samuel Adams died in 1803, at the age of above threescore and ten. He was a great patriot, but a poor man. At his death he left scarcely property enough to pay the expenses of his funeral. This precious chair, among his other effects, was sold at auction; and your Grandfather, who was then in the strength of his years, became the purchaser.”

Laurence, with a mind full of thoughts that struggled for expression, but could find none, looked steadfastly at the chair.

He had now learned all its history, yet was not satisfied.

“Oh, how I wish that the chair could speak!” cried he. “After its long intercourse with mankind,—after looking upon the world for ages,—what lessons of golden wisdom it might utter! It might teach a private person how to lead a good and happy life, or a statesman how to make his country prosperous.”


GRANDFATHER was struck by Laurence’s idea that the historic chair should utter a voice, and thus pour forth the collected wisdom of two centuries. The old gentleman had once possessed no inconsiderable share of fancy; and even now its fading sunshine occasionally glimmered among his more sombre reflections.

As the history of his chair had exhausted all his facts, Grandfather determined to have recourse to fable. So, after warning the children that they must not mistake this story for a true one, he related what we shall call Grandfather’s Dream.

Laurence and Clara, where were you last night? Where were you, Charley, and dear little Alice? You had all gone to rest, and left old Grandfather to meditate alone in his great chair. The lamp had grown so dim that its light hardly illuminated the alabaster shade. The wood-fire had crumbled into heavy embers, among which the little flames danced, and quivered, and sported about like fairies.

And here sat Grandfather all by himself. He knew that it was bedtime; yet he could not help longing to hear your merry voices, or to hold a comfortable chat with some old friend; because then his pillow would be visited by pleasant dreams. But, as neither children nor friends were at hand, Grandfather leaned back in the great chair and closed his eyes, for the sake of meditating more profoundly.

And, when Grandfather’s meditations had grown very profound indeed, he fancied that he heard a sound over his head, as if somebody were preparing to speak.

“Hem!” it said, in a dry, husky tone. “H-e-m! Hem!”

As Grandfather did not know that any person was in the room, he started up in great surprise, and peeped hither and thither, behind the chair, and into the recess by the fireside, and at the dark nook yonder near the bookcase. Nobody could be seen.

“Poh!” said Grandfather to himself, “I must have been dreaming.”

But, just as he was going to resume his seat, Grandfather happened to look at the great chair. The rays of firelight were flickering upon it in such a manner that it really seemed as if its oaken frame were all alive. What! did it not move its elbow? There, too! It certainly lifted one of its ponderous fore legs, as if it had a notion of drawing itself a little nearer to the fire. Meanwhile the lion’s head nodded at Grandfather with as polite and sociable a look as a lion’s visage, carved in oak, could possibly be expected to assume. Well, this is strange!

“Good evening, my old friend,” said the dry and husky voice, now a little clearer than before. “We have been intimately acquainted so long that I think it high time we have a chat together.”

Grandfather was looking straight at the lion’s head, and could not be mistaken in supposing that it moved its lips. So here the mystery was all explained.

“I was not aware,” said Grandfather, with a civil salutation to his oaken companion, “that you possessed the faculty of speech. Otherwise I should often have been glad to converse with such a solid, useful, and substantial if not brilliant member of society.”

“Oh!” replied the ancient chair, in a quiet and easy tone, for it had now cleared its throat of the dust of ages, “I am naturally a silent and incommunicative sort of character. Once or twice in the course of a century I unclose my lips. When the gentle Lady Arbella departed this life I uttered a groan. When the honest mint-master weighed his plump daughter against the pine-tree shillings I chuckled audibly at the joke. When old Simon Bradstreet took the place of the tyrant Andros I joined in the general huzza, and capered on my wooden legs for joy. To be sure, the by-standers were so fully occupied with their own feelings that my sympathy was quite unnoticed.”

“And have you often held a private chat with your friends?” asked Grandfather.

“Not often,” answered the chair. “I once talked with Sir William Phips, and communicated my ideas about the witchcraft delusion. Cotton Mather had several conversations with me, and derived great benefit from my historical reminiscences. In the days of the Stamp Act I whispered in the ear of Hutchinson, bidding him to remember what stock his countrymen were descended of, and to think whether the spirit of their forefathers had utterly departed from them. The last man whom I favored with a colloquy was that stout old republican, Samuel Adams.”

“And how happens it,” inquired Grandfather, “that there is no record nor tradition of your conversational abilities? It is an uncommon thing to meet with a chair that can talk.”

“Why, to tell you the truth,” said the chair, giving itself a hitch nearer to the hearth, “I am not apt to choose the most suitable moments for unclosing my lips. Sometimes I have inconsiderately begun to speak, when my occupant, lolling back in my arms, was inclined to take an after-dinner nap. Or perhaps the impulse to talk may be felt at midnight, when the lamp burns dim and the fire crumbles into decay, and the studious or thoughtful man finds that his brain is in a mist. Oftenest I have unwisely uttered my wisdom in the ears of sick persons, when the inquietude of fever made them toss about upon my cushion. And so it happens, that though my words make a pretty strong impression at the moment, yet my auditors invariably remember them only as a dream. I should not wonder if you, my excellent friend, were to do the same to-morrow morning.”

“Nor I either,” thought Grandfather to himself. However, he thanked this respectable old chair for beginning the conversation, and begged to know whether it had anything particular to communicate.

“I have been listening attentively to your narrative of my adventures,” replied the chair; “and it must be owned that your correctness entitles you to be held up as a pattern to biographers. Nevertheless, there are a few omissions which I should be glad to see supplied. For instance, you make no mention of the good knight Sir Richard Saltonstall, nor of the famous Hugh Peters, nor of those old regicide judges, Whalley, Goffe, and Dixwell. Yet I have borne the weight of all those distinguished characters at one time or another.”

Grandfather promised amendment if ever he should have an opportunity to repeat his narrative. The good old chair, which still seemed to retain a due regard for outward appearance, then reminded him how long a time had passed since it had been provided with a new cushion. It likewise expressed the opinion that the oaken figures on its back would show to much better advantage by the aid of a little varnish.

“And I have had a complaint in this joint,” continued the chair, endeavoring to lift one of its legs, “ever since Charley trundled his wheelbarrow against me.”

“It shall be attended to,” said Grandfather.

“And now, venerable chair, I have a favor to solicit. During an existence of more than two centuries you have had a familiar intercourse with men who were esteemed the wisest of their day. Doubtless, with your capacious understanding, you have treasured up many an invaluable lesson of wisdom. You certainly have had time enough to guess the riddle of life. Tell us, poor mortals, then, how we may be happy.”

The lion’s head fixed its eyes thoughtfully upon the fire, and the whole chair assumed an aspect of deep meditation. Finally it beckoned to Grandfather with its elbow, and made a step sideways towards him, as if it had a very important secret to communicate.

“As long as I have stood in the midst of human affairs,” said the chair, with a very oracular enunciation, “I have constantly observed that Justice, Truth, and Love are the chief ingredients of every happy life.”

“Justice, Truth, and Love!” exclaimed Grandfather. “We need not exist two centuries to find out that these qualities are essential to our happiness. This is no secret. Every human being is born with the instinctive knowledge of it.”

“Ah!” cried the chair, drawing back in surprise. “From what I have observed of the dealings of man with man, and nation with nation, I never should have suspected that they knew this all-important secret. And, with this eternal lesson written in your soul, do you ask me to sift new wisdom for you out of my petty existence of two or three centuries?”

“But, my dear chair “—said Grandfather.

“Not a word more,” interrupted the chair; “here I close my lips for the next hundred years. At the end of that period, if I shall have discovered any new precepts of happiness better than what Heaven has already taught you, they shall assuredly be given to the world.”

In the energy of its utterance the oaken chair seemed to stamp its foot, and trod (we hope unintentionally) upon Grandfather’s toe. The old gentleman started, and found that he had been asleep in the great chair, and that his heavy walking-stick had fallen down across his foot.

“Grandfather,” cried little Alice, clapping her hand, “you must dream a new dream every night about our chair!”

Laurence, and Clara, and Charley said the same. But the good old gentleman shook his head, and declared that here ended the history, real or fabulous, of GRANDFATHER’S CHAIR.




BOSTON, Aug. 30, 1765.

MY DEAR SIR, I came from my house at Milton, the 26 in the morning. After dinner it was whispered in town there would be a mob at night, and that Paxton, Hallowell, the custom-house, and admiralty officers’ houses would be attacked; but my friends assured me that the rabble were satisfied with the insult I had received and that I was become rather popular. In the evening, whilst I was at supper and my children round me, somebody ran in and said the mob were coming. I directed my children to fly to a secure place, and shut up my house as I had done before, intending not to quit it; but my eldest daughter repented her leaving me, hastened back, and protested she would not quit the house unless I did. I could n’t stand against this, and withdrew with her to a neighboring house, where I had been but a few minutes before the hellish crew fell upon my house with the rage of devils, and in a moment with axes split down the doors and entered. My son being in the great entry heard them cry: “Damn him, he is upstairs, we’ll have him.” Some ran immediately as high as the top of the house, others filled the rooms below and cellars, and others remained without the house to be employed there.

Messages soon came one after another to the house where I was, to inform me the mob were coming in pursuit of me, and I was obliged to retire through yards and gardens to a house more remote, where I remained until 4 o’clock, by which time one of the best finished houses in the Province had nothing remaining but the bare walls and floors. Not contented with tearing off all the wainscot and hangings, and splitting the doors to pieces, they beat down the partition walls; and although that alone cost them near two hours, they cut down the cupola or lanthorn, and they began to take the slate and boards from the roof, and were prevented only by the approaching daylight from a total demolition of the building. The garden-house was laid flat, and all my trees, etc., broke down to the ground.

Such ruin was never seen in America. Besides my plate and family pictures, household furniture of every kind, my own, my children’s, and servants’ apparel, they carried off about £900 sterling in money, and emptied the house of everything whatsoever, except a part of the kitchen furniture, not leaving a single book or paper in it, and have scattered or destroyed all the manuscripts and other papers I had been collecting for thirty years together, besides a great number of public papers in my custody. The evening being warm, I had undressed me and put on a thin camlet surtout over my waistcoat. The next morning, the weather being changed, I had not clothes enough in my possession to defend me from the cold, and was obliged to borrow from my friends. Many articles of clothing and a good part of my plate have since been picked up in different quarters of the town, lint the furniture in general was cut to pieces before it was thrown out of the house, and most of the beds cut open, and the feathers thrown out of the windows. The next evening, I intended with my children to Milton, but meeting two or three small parties of the ruffians, who I suppose had concealed themselves in the country, and my coachman hearing one of them say, “There he is!” my daughters were terrified and said they should never be safe, and I was forced to shelter them that night at the Castle.

The encouragers of the first mob never intended matters should go this length, and the people in general expressed the utter detestation of this unparalleled outrage, and I wish they could be convinced what infinite hazard there is of the most terrible consequences from such demons, when they are let loose in a government where there is not constant authority at hand sufficient to suppress them. I am told the government here will make me a compensation for my own and my family’s loss, which I think cannot be much less than £3,000 sterling. I am not sure that they will. If they should not, it will be too heavy for me, and I must humbly apply to his majesty in whose service I am a sufferer; but this, and a much greater sum would be an insufficient compensation for the constant distress and anxiety of mind I have felt for some time past, and must feel for months to come. You cannot conceive the wretched state we are in. Such is the resentment of the people against the Stamp-Duty, that there can be no dependence upon the General Court to take any steps to enforce, or rather advise, to the payment of it. On the other hand, such will be the effects of not submitting to it, that all trade must cease, all courts fall, and all authority be at an end. Must not the ministry be excessively embarrassed? On the one hand, it will be said, if concessions are made, the Parliament endanger the loss of their authority over the Colony: on the other hand, if external forces should be used, there seems to be danger of a total lasting alienation of affection. Is there no alternative? May the infinitely wise God direct you.

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