or, The Leaguer
of Boston, V1 by James Fenimore Cooper
TO WILLIAM JAY. OF BEDFORD, WEST-CHESTER, ESQUIRE. -
MY DEAR JAY,
An unbroken intimacy of four-andtwenty years may justify the
present use of your name. A man of readier wit than myself, might, on
such a subject, find an opportunity of saying something clever,
concerning the exalted services of your father. No weak testimony of
mine, however, can add to a fame that belongs already to
posterity—And one like myself, who has so long known the merits,
and has so often experienced the friendship of the son, can find even
better reasons for offering these Legends to your notice.
Very truly and constantly, Yours,
The manner in which the author became possessed of the private
incidents, the characters, and the descriptions, contained in these
tales, will, most probably, ever remain a secret between himself and
his publisher. That the leading events are true, he presumes it is
unnecessary to assert; for should inherent testimony, to prove that
important point, be wanting, he is conscious that no anonymous
declaration can establish its credibility.
But while he shrinks from directly yielding his authorities, the
author has no hesitation in furnishing all the negative testimony in
In the first place, then, he solemnly declares, that no unknown
man, nor woman, has ever died in his vicinity, of whose effects he
has become the possessor, by either fair means or foul. No
dark-looking stranger, of a morbid temperament, and of inflexible
silence, has ever transmitted to him a single page of illegible
manuscript. Nor has any landlord furnished him with materials to be
worked up into a book, in order that the profits might go to
discharge the arrearages of a certain consumptive lodger, who made
his exit so unceremoniously as to leave the last item in his account,
his funeral charges.
He is indebted to no garrulous tale-teller for beguiling the long
winter evenings; in ghosts he has no faith; he never had a vision in
his life; and he sleeps too soundly to dream.
He is constrained to add, that in no "puff," "squib," "notice,"
"article," nor "review," whether, in daily, weekly, monthly, or
quarterly publication, has he been able to find a single hint that
his humble powers could improve. No one regrets this fatality more
than himself; for these writers generally bring such a weight of
imagination to their several tasks, that, properly improved, might
secure the immortality of any book, by rendering it unintelligible.
He boldly asserts that he has derived no information from any of
the learned societies—and without fear of contradiction; for why
should one so obscure be the exclusive object of their favours!
Notwithstanding he occasionally is seen in that erudite and
abstemious association, the "Bread-and-Cheese Lunch," where he is
elbowed by lawyers, doctors, jurists, poets, painters, editors,
congressmen, and authors of every shade and qualification, whether
metaphysical, scientific, or imaginative, he avers, that he esteems
the lore which is there culled, as far too sacred to be used in any
work less dignified than actual history.
Of the colleges it is necessary to speak with reverence; though
truth possesses claims even superior to gratitude. He shall dispose
of them by simply saying, that they are entirely innocent of all his
blunders; the little they bestowed having long since been forgotten.
He has stolen no images from the deep, natural poetry of Bryant; no
pungency from the wit of Halleck; no felicity of expression from the
richness of Percival; no satire from the caustic pen of Paulding; no
periods, nor humour from Irving; nor any high finish from the
attainments exhibited by Verplanck.
At the "soirées" and "coteries des bas bleus" he did think he had
obtained a prize, in the dandies of literature, who haunt them. But
experiment and analysis detected his error; as they proved these
worthies unfit for any better purpose than that which their own
instinct had already dictated.
He has made no impious attempt to rob Joe Miller of his jokes; the
sentimentalists of their pathos; nor the newspaper Homers of their
His presumption has not even imagined the vivacity of the eastern
states; he has not analyzed the homogeneous character of the middle;
and he has left the south in the undisturbed possession of all their
In short—he has pilfered from no black-letter book, nor any
six-penny pamphlet; his grandmother unnaturally refused her
assistance to his labors; and, to speak affirmatively, for once, he
wishes to live in peace, and hopes to die in the fear of God.
PREFACE TO LIONEL LINCOLN.
In this tale there are one or two slight anachronisms; which, if
unnoticed, might, with literal readers, draw some unpleasant
imputations on its veracity.—They relate rather to persons than to
things. As they are believed to be quite in character, connected with
circumstances much more probable than facts, and to possess all the
harmony of poetic colouring, the author is utterly unable to discover
the reason why they are not true.
He leaves the knotty point to the instinctive sagacity of the
The matter of this "Legend" may be pretty equally divided into that
which is publicly, and that which is privately certain. For the
authorities of the latter, the author refers to the foregoing preface;
but he cannot dispose of the sources whence he has derived the
former, with so little ceremony.
The good people of Boston are aware of the creditable appearance
they make in the early annals of the confederation, and they neglect
no commendable means to perpetuate the glories of their ancestors. In
consequence, the inquiry after historical facts, is answered, there,
by an exhibition of local publications, that no other town in the
union can equal. Of these means the author has endeavoured to avail
himself; collating with care, and selecting, as he trusts, with some
of that knowledge of men and things which is necessary to present a
Wherever he may have failed, he has done it honestly.
He will not take leave of the `cradle of liberty,' without
expressing his thanks for the facilities which have been so freely
accorded to his undertaking. If he has not been visited by ærial
beings, and those fair visions that poets best love to create, he is
certain he will not be misconceived when he says, that he has been
honoured by the notice of some resembling those, who first inspired
"My weary soul they seem to soothe,
"And, redolent of joy and youth,
"To breathe a second spring."
No American can be ignorant of the principal events that induced
the parliament of Great Britain, in 1774, to lay those impolitic
restrictions on the port of Boston, which so effectually destroyed
the trade of the chief town in her western colonies. Nor should it be
unknown to any American, how nobly, and with what devotedness to the
great principles of the controversy, the inhabitants of the adjacent
town of Salem refused to profit by the situation of their neighbours
and fellow-subjects. In consequence of these impolitic measures of
the English government, and of the laudable unanimity among the
capitalists of the times, it became a rare sight to see the canvass of
any other vessels than such as wore the pennants of the king,
whitening the forsaken waters of Massachusetts bay.
Towards the decline of a day in April, 1775, however, the eyes of
hundreds had been fastened on a distant sail, which was seen rising
from the bosom of the waves, making her way along the forbidden
track, and steering directly for the mouth of the proscribed haven.
With that deep solicitude in passing events which marked the period,
a large group of spectators was collected on Beacon-Hill, spreading
from its conical summit, far down the eastern declivity, all gazing
intently on the object of their common interest. In so large an
assemblage, however, there were those who were excited by very
different feelings, and indulging in wishes directly opposite to each
other. While the decent, grave, but wary citizen was endeavouring to
conceal the bitterness of the sensations which soured his mind, under
the appearance of a cold indifference, a few gay young men, who
mingled in the throng, bearing about their persons the trappings of
their martial profession, were loud in their exultations, and hearty
in their congratulations on the prospect of hearing from their
distant homes and absent friends. But the long, loud rolls of the
drums, ascending on the evening air, from the adjacent common, soon
called these idle spectators, in a body, from the spot, when the hill
was left to the quiet possession of those who claimed the strongest
right to its enjoyment. It was not, however, a period for open and
unreserved communications. Long before the mists of evening had
succeeded the shadows thrown from the setting sun, the hill was
entirely deserted; the remainder of the spectators having descended
from the eminence, and held their several courses, singly, silent,
and thoughtful, towards the rows of dusky roofs that covered the
lowland, along the eastern side of the peninsula. Notwithstanding this
appearance of apathy, rumour, which, in times of great excitement,
ever finds means to convey its whisperings, when it dare not bruit its
information aloud, was busy in circulating the unwelcome intelligence,
that the stranger was the first of a fleet, bringing stores and
reinforcements to an army already too numerous, and too confident of
its power, to respect the law. No tumult or noise succeeded this
unpleasant annunciation, but the doors of the houses were sullenly
closed, and the windows darkened, as if the people intended to
express their dissatisfaction, alone, by these silent testimonials of
In the mean time the ship had gained the rocky entrance to the
harbour, where, deserted by the breeze, and met by an adverse tide,
she lay inactive, as if conscious of the unwelcome reception she must
receive. The fears of the inhabitants of Boston had, however,
exaggerated the danger; for the vessel, instead of exhibiting the
confused and disorderly throng of licentious soldiery which would
have crowded a transport, was but thinly peopled, and her orderly
decks were cleared of every incumbrance that could interfere with the
comfort of those she did contain. There was an appearance, in the
arrangements of her external accommodations, which would have
indicated to an observant eye, that she carried those who claimed the
rank, or possessed the means, of making others contribute largely to
their comforts. The few seamen who navigated the ship, lay extended on
different portions of the vessel, watching the lazy sails as they
flapped against the masts, or indolently bending their looks on the
placid waters of the bay; while several menials, in livery, crowded
around a young man who was putting his eager inquiries to the pilot,
that had just boarded the vessel off the Graves. The dress of this
youth was studiously neat, and from the excessive pains bestowed on
its adjustment, it was obviously deemed, by its wearer, to be in the
height of the prevailing customs From the place where this inquisitive
party stood, nigh the main-mast, a wide sweep of the quarter-deck was
untenanted; but nearer to the spot where the listless seaman hung idly
over the tiller of the ship, stood a being of altogether different
mould and fashion. He was a man who would have seemed in the very
extremity of age, had not his quick, vigorous steps, and the glowing,
rapid glances from his eyes, as he occasionally paced the deck,
appeared to deny the usual indications of many years. His form was
bowed, and attenuated nearly to emaciation. His hair, which fluttered
a little wildly around his temples, was thin, and silvered to the
whiteness of at least eighty winters. Deep furrows, like the lines of
great age and long endured cares united, wrinkled his hollow cheeks,
and rendered the bold haughty outline of his prominent features still
more remarkable. He was clad in a simple and somewhat tarnished suit
of modest gray, which bore about it the ill-concealed marks of long
and neglected use. Whenever he turned his piercing look from the
shores, he moved swiftly along the deserted quarter deck, and seemed
entirely engrossed with the force of his own thoughts, his lips
moving rapidly, though no sounds were heard to issue from a mouth that
was habitually silent. He was under the influence of one of those
sudden impulses in which the body, apparently, sympathized so keenly
with the restless activity of the mind, when a young man ascended from
the cabin, and took his stand among the interested and excited gazers
at the land, on the upper deck. The age of this gentleman might have
been five and twenty. He wore a military cloak, thrown carelessly
across his form, which, in addition to such parts of his dress as were
visible through its open folds, sufficiently announced that his
profession was that of arms. There was an air of ease and high
fashion gleaming about his person, though his speaking countenance, at
times, seemed melancholy, if not sad. On gaining the deck, this young
officer, encountering the eyes of the aged and restless being who
trod its planks, bowed courteously before he turned away to the view,
and in his turn became deeply absorbed in studying its fading
The rounded heights of Dorchester were radiant with the rays of the
luminary that had just sunk behind their crest, and streaks of paler
light were playing along the waters, and gilding the green summits of
the islands which clustered across the mouth of the estuary. Far in
the distance were to be seen the tall spires of the churches, rising
out of the deep shadows of the town, with their vanes glittering in
the sun-beams, while a few rays of strong light were dancing about the
black beacon, which reared itself high above the conical peak that
took its name from the circumstance of supporting this instrument of
alarms. Several large vessels were anchored among the islands and
before the town, their dark hulls, at each moment, becoming less
distinct through the haze of evening, while the summits of their long
lines of masts were yet glowing with the marks of day. From each of
these sullen ships, from the low fortification which rose above a
small island deep in the bay, and from various elevations in the town
itself, the broad, silky folds of the flag of England were yet waving
in the currents of the passing air. The young man was suddenly aroused
from gazing at this scene, by the quick reports of the evening guns,
and while his eyes were yet tracing the descent of the proud symbols
of the British power, from their respective places of display, he
felt his arm convulsively pressed by the hand of his aged
"Will the day ever arrive," said a low, hollow voice at his elbow,
"when those flags shall be lowered, never to rise again in this
The young soldier turned his quick eyes to the countenance of the
speaker, but bent them instantly in embarrassment on the deck, to
avoid the keen, searching glance he encountered in the looks of the
other. A long, and on the part of the young man, a painful silence
succeeded this remark. At length the youth, pointing to the land,
"Tell me, you, who are of Boston, and must have known it so long,
the names of all these beautiful places I see."
"And are you not of Boston, too?" asked his old companion.
"Certainly by birth, but an Englishman by habit and education."
"Accursed be the habits, and neglected the education, which would
teach a child to forget its parentage!" muttered the old man, turning
suddenly, and walking away so rapidly as to be soon lost in the
forward parts of the ship.
For several minutes longer, the youth stood absorbed in his own
musings, when, as if recollecting his previous purposes, he called
At the sounds of his voice the curious group around the pilot
instantly separated, and the highly ornamented youth, before
mentioned, approached the officer, with a manner in which pert
familiarity and fearful respect were peculiarly blended. Without
regarding the air of the other, however, or indeed without even
favouring him with a glance, the young soldier continued—
"I desired you to detain the boat which boarded us, in order to
convey me to the town, Mr. Meriton; see if it be in readiness."
The valet flew to execute this commission, and in an instant
returned with a reply in the affirmative.
"But, sir," he continued, "you will never think of going in that
boat, I feel very much assured, sir."
"Your assurance, Mr. Meriton, is not the least of your
recommendations; why should I not?"
"That disagreeable old stranger has taken possession of it, with
his mean, filthy bundle of rags; and—"
"And what? you must name a greater evil, to detain me here, than
mentioning the fact that the only gentleman in the ship is to be my
"Lord, sir!" said Meriton, glancing his eye upward in amazement;
"but, sir, surely you know best as to gentility of behaviour—but as
to gentility of dress—"
"Enough of this," interrupted his master, a little angrily; "the
company is such as I am content with; if you find it unequal to your
deserts, you have my permission to remain in the ship until the
morning—the presence of a coxcomb is by no means necessary to my
comfort for one night."
Without regarding the mortification of his disconcerted valet, the
young man passed along the deck to the place where the boat was in
waiting. By the general movement among the indolent menials, and the
profound respect with which he was attended by the master of the ship
to the gangway, it was sufficiently apparent, that notwithstanding
his youth, it was this gentleman whose presence had exacted those
arrangements in the ship, which have been mentioned. While all around
him, however, were busy in facilitating the entrance of the officer
into the boat, the aged stranger occupied its principal seat, with an
air of deep abstraction, if not of cool indifference. A hint from the
pliant Meriton, who had ventured to follow his master, that it would
be more agreeable if he would relinquish his place, was disregarded,
and the youth took a seat by the side of the old man, with a
simplicity of manner that his valet inwardly pronounced abundantly
degrading. As if this humiliation were not sufficient, the young man
perceiving that a general pause had succeeded his own entrance, turned
to his companion, and courteously inquired if he were ready to
proceed. A silent wave of the hand was the reply, when the boat shot
away from the vessel, leaving the ship steering for an anchorage in
The measured dash of the oars was uninterrupted by any voice,
while, stemming the tide, they pulled laboriously up among the
islands; but by the time they had reached the castle, the twilight had
melted into the softer beams from a young moon, and the surrounding
objects becoming more distinct, the stranger commenced talking with
that quick and startling vehemence which seemed his natural manner.
He spoke of the localities, with the vehemence and fondness of an
enthusiast, and with the familiarity of one who had long known their
beauties. His rapid utterance, however, ceased as they approached the
naked wharves, and he sunk back gloomily in the boat, as if unwilling
to trust his voice on the subject of his country's wrongs. Thus left
to his own thoughts, the youth gazed, with eager interest, at the long
ranges of buildings, which were now clearly visible to the eye, though
with softer colours and more gloomy shadows. A few neglected and
dismantled ships were lying at different points; but the hum of
business, the forests of masts, and the rattling of wheels which at
that early hour should have distinguished the great mart of the
colonies, were wanting. In their places were to be heard, at
intervals, the sudden bursts of distant, martial music, the riotous
merriment of the soldiery who frequented the taverns at the water's
edge, or the sullen challenges of the sentinels from the vessels of
war, as they vexed the progress of the few boats which the inhabitants
still used in their ordinary pursuits.
"Here indeed is a change!" the young officer exclaimed, as they
glided swiftly along this desolate scene; "even my recollections,
young and fading as they are, recall the difference!"
The stranger made no reply, but a smile of singular meaning gleamed
across his wan features, imparting, by the moonlight, to their
remarkable expression. a character of additional wildness. The
officer was again silent, nor did either speak until the boat, having
shot by the end of the long wharf, across whose naked boundaries a
sentinel was pacing his measured path, inclined more to the shore,
and soon reached the place of its destination.
Whatever might have been the respective feelings of the two
passengers at having thus reached in safety the object of their
tiresome and protracted voyage, they were not expressed in language.
The old man bared his silver locks, and concealing his face with his
hat, stood as if in deep mental thanks-giving at the termination of
his toil, while his more youthful companion trod the wharf on which
they landed with the air of a man whose emotions were too engrossing
for the ordinary use of words.
"Here we must part, sir," the officer at length said; "but I trust
the acquaintance which has been thus accidentally formed between us,
is not to be forgotten now there is an end to our common privations."
"It is not in the power of a man whose days, like mine, are
numbered," returned the stranger, "to mock the liberality of his God,
by any vain promises that must depend on time for their fulfilment. I
am one, young gentleman, who has returned from a sad, sad pilgrimage
in the other hemisphere, to lay his bones in this, his native land;
but should many hours be granted me, you will hear further of the man
whom your courtesy and kindness have so greatly obliged."
The officer was sensibly affected by the softened but solemn manner
of his companion, and pressed his wasted hand fervently as he
"Do; I ask it as a singular favour; I know not why, but you have
obtained a command of my feelings that no other being ever yet
possessed— and yet—'tis a mystery, 'tis like a dream! I feel that
I not only venerate, but love you!"
The old man stepped back, and held the youth at the length of his
arm for a moment, while he fastened on him a look of glowing interest,
and then raising his hand slowly, he pointed impressively upward, and
"'Tis from heaven, and for God's own purposes— smother not the
sentiment, boy, but cherish it in your heart's core!"
The reply of the youth was interrupted by sudden and violent
shrieks, that burst rudely on the stillness of the place, chilling the
very blood of those who heard them, with their piteousness. The quick
and severe blows of a lash were blended with the exclamations of the
sufferer, and rude oaths, with hoarse execrations, from various
voices, were united in the uproar, which appeared to be at no great
distance. By a common impulse, the whole party broke away from the
spot, and moved rapidly up the wharf in the direction of the sounds.
As they approached the buildings, a group was seen collected around
the man who thus broke the charm of evening by his cries, interrupting
his wailings with their ribaldry, and encouraging his tormentors to
"Mercy, mercy, for the sake of the blessed God, have mercy, and
don't kill Job!" again shrieked the sufferer; "Job will run your
a'r'nds! Job is half-witted! Mercy on poor Job! Oh! you make his
"I'll cut the heart from the mutinous knave," interrupted a hoarse,
angry voice; "to refuse to drink the health of his majesty!"
"Job does wish him good health—Job loves the king, only Job don't
The officer had approached so nigh as to perceive that the whole
scene was one of disorder and abuse, and pushing aside the crowd of
excited and deriding soldiers, who composed the throng, he broke at
once into the centre of the circle.
"They'll have me whipped for speaking true;
"Thoul't have me whipped for lying;
"And sometimes I'm whipped for holding my peace.
"I had rather be any kind of a thing
"Than a fool."
"What means this outcry?" demanded the young man, arresting the arm
of an infuriated soldier who was inflicting the blows; "by what
authority is this man thus abused?"
"By what authority dare you to lay hands on a British grenadier!"
cried the fellow, turning in his fury, and raising his lash against
the supposed townsman. But when, as the officer stepped aside to
avoid the threatened indignity, the light of the moon fell full upon
his glittering dress, through the opening folds of his cloak, the arm
of the brutal soldier was held suspended in air, with the surprise of
"Answer, I bid you," continued the young officer, his frame shaking
with passion; "why is this man tormented, and of what regiment are ye?"
"We belong to the grenadiers of the brave 47th, your honour,"
returned one of the bystanders, in a humble, deprecating tone, "and we
was just polishing this 'ere natural, because as he refuses to drink
the health of his majesty."
"He's a scornful sinner, that don't fear his Maker," cried the man
in duresse, eagerly bending his face, down which big tears were
rolling, towards his protector. "Job loves the king, but Job don't
The officer turned away from the cruel spectacle, as he bid the men
untie their prisoner. Knives and fingers were instantly put in
requisition, and the man was liberated, and suffered to resume his
clothes. During this operation, the tumult and bustle which had so
recently distinguished the riotous scene, were succeeded by a
stillness that rendered the hard breathing of the sufferer painfully
"Now sirs, you heroes of the 47th!" said the young man, when the
victim of their rage was again clad, "know you this button?" The
soldier to whom this question was more particularly addressed, gazed
at the extended arm, and, to his vast discomfiture, he beheld the
magical number of his own regiment reposing on the well-known white
facings that decorated the rich scarlet of the vestment. No one
presumed to answer this appeal, and after an impressive silence of a
few moments, he continued—
"Ye are noble supporters of the well-earned fame of `Wolfe's own!'
fit successors to the gallant men who conquered under the walls of
Quebec! away with ye; to-morrow it shall be looked to."
"I hope your honour will remember he refused his majesty's health.
I'm sure, sir, that if colonel Nesbitt was here himself—
"Dog! do you dare to hesitate! go, while you have permission to
The disconcerted soldiery, whose turbulence had thus vanished, as
if by enchantment, before the frown of their superior, slunk away in a
body, a few of the older men whispering to their comrades the name of
the officer who had thus unexpectedly appeared in the midst of them.
The angry eye of the young soldier followed their retiring forms,
while a man of them was visible; after which, turning to an elderly
citizen, who, supported on a crutch, had been a spectator of the
scene, he asked—
"Know you the cause of the cruel treatment this poor man has
received? or what in any manner has led to the violence?"
"The boy is weak," returned the cripple; "quite an innocent, who
knows but little good, but does no harm. The soldiers have been
carousing in yonder dram-shop, and they often get the poor lad in
with them, and sport with his infirmity. If these sorts of doings an't
checked, I fear much trouble will grow out of them! Hard laws from
t'other side of the water, and tarring and feathering on this, with
gentlemen like colonel Nesbitt at their head, will"—
"It is wisest for us, my friend, to pursue this subject no
further," interrupted the officer; "I belong myself to `Wolfe's own,'
and will endeavour to see justice done in the matter; as you will
credit, when I tell you that I am a Boston boy. But though a native, a
long absence has obliterated the marks of the town from my memory;
and I am at a loss to thread these crooked streets. Know you the
dwelling of Mrs. Lechmere?"
"The house is well known to all in Boston," returned the cripple,
in a voice sensibly altered by the information that he was speaking to
a townsman. "Job, here, does but little else than run of errands, and
he will show you the way out of gratitude; wont you Job?"
The idiot, for the vacant eye and unmeaning, boyish countenance of
the young man who had just been liberated, but too plainly indicated
that he was to be included in that miserable class of human beings,
answered with a caution and reluctance that were a little remarkable,
considering the recent circumstances.
"Ma'am Lechmere's! Oh! yes, Job knows the way, and could go there
"If what, you simpleton!" exclaimed the zealous cripple.
"Why, if 'twas daylight."
"Blindfolded, and daylight! do but hear the silly child! come, Job,
you must take this gentleman to Tremont-street, without further words.
'Tis but just sundown, boy, and you can go there and be home and in
your bed before the Old South strikes eight!"
"Yes; that all depends on which way you go," returned the reluctant
changeling. "Now, I know, neighbour Hopper, you couldn't go to Ma'am
Lechmere's in an hour, if you went along Lynn-street, and so along
Prince-street, and back through Snow-Hill; and especially if you
should stop any time to look at the graves on Copps."
"Pshaw! the fool is in one of his sulks now, with his Copps-Hill,
and the graves!" interrupted the cripple, whose heart had warmed to
his youthful townsman, and who would have volunteered to show the way
himself, had his infirmities permitted the exertion. "The gentleman
must call the grenadiers back, to bring the child to reason."
"'Tis quite unnecessary to be harsh with the unfortunate lad," said
the young soldier; "my recollections will probably aid me as I
advance; and should they not, I can inquire of any passenger I meet."
"If Boston was what Boston has been, you might ask such a question
of a civil inhabitant, at any corner," said the cripple; "but it's
rare to see many of our people in the streets at this hour, since the
massacre. Besides, it is Saturday night, you know; a fit time for
these rioters to choose for their revelries! For that matter, the
soldiers have grown more insolent than ever, since they have met that
disappointment about the cannon down at Salem; but I needn't tell such
as you what the soldiers are when they get a little savage."
"I know my comrades but indifferently well, if their conduct to
night be any specimen of their ordinary demeanour, sir," returned the
officer; "but follow, Meriton; I apprehend no great difficulty in our
The pliant valet lifted the cloak-bag he carried, from the ground,
and they were about to proceed, when the natural edged himself in a
sidelong, slovenly manner, nigher to the gentleman, and looked
earnestly up in his face for a moment, where he seemed to be
gathering confidence, to say—"Job will show the officer Ma'am
Lechmere's. if the officer wont let the grannies catch Job afore he
gets off the North End ag'in."
"Ah!" said the young man, laughing, "there is something of the
cunning of a fool in that arrangement. Well, I accept the conditions;
but beware how you take me to contemplate the graves by moonlight, or
I shall deliver you not only to the grannies, but to the light
infantry, artillery, and all."
With this good-natured threat, the officer followed his nimble
conductor, after taking a friendly leave of the obliging cripple, who
continued his admonitions to the natural, not to wander from the
direct route, while the sounds of his voice were audible to the
retiring party. The progress of his guide was so rapid as to require
the young officer to confine his survey of the narrow and crooked
streets through which they passed, to extremely hasty and imperfect
glances. No very minute observation, however, was necessary to
perceive that he was led along one of the most filthy and inferior
sections of the town; and where, notwithstanding his efforts, he found
it impossible to recall a single feature of his native place to his
remembrance. The complaints of Meriton, who followed close at the
heels of his master, were loud and frequent, until the gentleman, a
little doubting the sincerity of his intractable conductor,
"Have you nothing better than this to show a townsman, who has been
absent seventeen years, on his return! Pray let us go through some
better streets than this, if any there are in Boston which can be
The lad stopped short, and looked up in the face of the speaker,
for an instant, with an air of undisguised amazement, and then,
without replying, be changed the direction of his route, and after
one or two more deviations in his path, suddenly turning again, he
glided up an alley, so narrow that the passenger might touch the
buildings on either side of him. The officer besitated an instant to
enter this dark and crooked passage, but perceiving that his guide was
already hid by a bend in the houses, he quickened his steps, and
immediately regained the ground he had lost. They soon emerged from
the obscurity of the place, and issued on a street of greater width.
"There!" said Job, triumphantly, when they had effected this gloomy
passage, "does the king live in so crooked and narrow a street as
"His majesty must yield the point in your favour," returned the
"Ma'am Lechmere is a grand lady!" continued the lad, seemingly
following the current of his own fanciful conceits, "and she wouldn't
live in that alley for the world, though it is narrow, like the road
to heaven, as old Nab says; I suppose they call it after the Methodies
for that reason."
"I have heard the road you mention termed narrow, certainly, but it
is also called strait," returned the officer, a little amused
with the humour of the lad; "but forward, the time is slipping away,
and we loiter."
Again Job turned, and moving onward, he led the way, with swift
steps, along another narrow and crooked path, which, however, better
deserved the name of a street, under the projecting stories of the
wooden buildings, which lined its sides. After following the irregular
windings of their route for some distance, they entered a triangular
area, of a few rods in extent, where Job, disregarding the use of the
narrow walk, advanced directly into the centre of the open space. Here
he stopped once more, and turning his vacant face with an air of much
seriousness, towards a building which composed one side of the
triangle, he said, with a voice that expressed his own deep
"There—that's the `old North!' did you ever see such a meetin'us'
afore! does the king worship God in such a temple!"
The officer did not chide the idle liberties of the fool, for in
the antiquated and quaint architecture of the wooden edifice, he
recognized one of those early effort's of the simple, puritan
builders, whose rude tastes have been transmitted to their posterity
with so many deviations in the style of the same school, but so
little of improvement. Blended with these considerations, were the
dawnings of revived recollections; and he smiled, as he recalled the
time when he also used to look up at the building with feelings
somewhat allied to the profound admiration of the idiot. Job watched
his countenance narrowly, and easily mistaking its expression, he
extended his arm toward one of the narrowest of the avenues that
entered the area, where stood a few houses of more than common
"And there ag'in!" he continued, "there's palaces for you! stingy
Tommy lived in the one with the pile-axters, and the flowers hanging
to their tops; and see the crowns on them too! stingy Tommy loved
crowns, they say; but Province'us' wasn't good enough for him, and he
lived here—now they say he lives in one of the king's cupboards!"
"And who was stingy Tommy, and what right had he to dwell in
Province-House, if he would?"
"What right has any governor to live in Province'us'! because its
the king's! though the people paid for it."
"Pray, sir, excuse me," said Meriton, from behind, "but do the
Americans usually call all their governors stingy Tommies?"
The officer turned his head, at this vapid question, from his
valet, and perceived that he had been accompanied thus far by the aged
stranger, who stood at his elbow, leaning on his staff, studying with
close attention the late dwelling of Hutchinson, while the light of
the moon fell, unobstructed, on the deep lines of his haggard face.
During the first surprise of this discovery, he forgot to reply, and
Job took the vindication of his language into his own hands.
"To be sure they do—they call people by their right names," he
said. "Insygn Peck is called Insygn Peck; and you call Deacon Winslow
any thing but Deacon Winslow, and see what a look he'll give you! and
I am Job Pray, so called; and why shouldn't a governor be called
stingy Tommy, if he is a stingy Tommy?"
"Be careful how you speak lightly of the king's representative,"
said the young officer, raising his light cane with the affectation of
correcting the changeling.—"Forget you that I am a soldier?"
The idiot shrunk back a little, timidly, and then leering from
under his sunken brow, he answered—
"I heard you say you were a Boston boy!"
The gentleman was about to make a playful reply, when the aged
stranger passed swiftly before him, and took his stand at the side of
the lad, with a manner so remarkable for its earnestness, that it
entirely changed the current of his thoughts.
"The young man knows the ties of blood and country," the stranger
muttered, "and I honour him!"
It might have been the sudden recollection of the danger of those
allusions, which the officer so well understood, and to which his
accidental association with the singular being who uttered them, had
begun to familiarize his ear, that induced the youth to resume his
walk, silently, and in deep thought, along the street. By this
movement, he escaped observing the cordial grasp of the hand which
the old stranger bestowed on the idiot, while he muttered a few more
terms of commendation. Job soon took his station in front, and the
whole party moved on, again, though with less rapid strides. As the
lad advanced deeper into the town, he evidently wavered once or twice
in his choice of streets, and the officer began to suspect that the
changeling contemplated one of his wild circuits, to avoid the direct
route to a house that he manifestly approached with great reluctance.
Once or twice the young soldier looked about him, intending to
inquire the direction, of the first passenger he might see; but the
quiet of deep night already pervaded the place, and not an individual
but those who accompanied him, appeared in the long ranges of streets
they had passed. The air of the guide was becoming so dogged, and
hesitating, that his follower had just determined to make an
application at one of the doors, when they emerged from a dark, dirty,
and gloomy street, on an open space, of much greater extent than the
one they had so recently left. Passing under the walls of a blackened
dwelling, Job led the way to the centre of a swinging bridge, which
was thrown across an inlet from the harbour, that extended a short
distance into the area, forming a shallow dock. Here he took his
stand, and allowed the view of the surrounding objects to work its
own effect on those he had conducted thither. The square was composed
of rows of low, gloomy, and irregular houses, most of which had the
appearance of being but little used. Stretching from the end of the
basin, and a little on one side, a long, narrow edifice, ornamented
with pilasters, perforated with arched windows, and surmounted by a
humble cupola, reared its walls of brick, under the light of the
moon. The story which held the rows of silent, glistening windows, was
supported on abutments and arches of the same material, through the
narrow vistas of which were to be seen the shambles of the common
market-place. Heavy cornices of stone were laid above and beneath the
pilasters, and something more than the unskilful architecture of the
dwelling houses they had passed, was affected throughout the whole
structure. While the officer gazed at this scene, the idiot watched
his countenance with a keenness exceeding his usual observation, until
impatient at hearing no words of pleasure or of recognition, he
"If you don't know Funnel-Hall, you are no Boston boy!"
"But I do know Fanueil-Hall, and I am a Boston boy," returned the
amused gentleman; "the place begins to freshen on my memory, and I now
recall the scenes of my childhood."
"This, then," said the aged stranger, "is the spot where liberty
has found so many bold advocates!"
"It would do the king's heart good to hear the people talk in old
Funnel, sometimes," said Job; "I was on the cornishes, and looked into
the winders, the last town-meetin'-da', and if there was soldiers on
the common, there was them in the hall that did'nt care for them!"
"All this is very amusing, no doubt," said the officer, gravely,
"but it does not advance me a foot on my way to Mrs. Lechmere's."
"It is also instructing," exclaimed the stranger; "go on, child; I
love to hear his simple feelings thus expressed; they indicate the
state of the public mind."
"Why," said Job, "they were plain spoken, that's all, and it would
be better for the king to come over, and hear them—it would pull
down his pride, and make him pity the people, and then he wouldn't
think of shutting up Boston harbour. Suppose he should stop the water
from coming in by the narrows, why we should get it by Broad Sound!
and if it didn't come by Broad Sound, it would by Nantasket! He
needn't think that the Boston folks are so dumb as to be cheated out
of God's water by acts of Parliament, while old Funnel stands in the
"Sirrah!" exclaimed the officer, a little angrily, "we have already
loitered until the clocks are striking eight."
The idiot lost his animation, and lowered in his looks again, as he
"Well, I told neighbour Hopper there was more ways to ma'am
Lechmere's than straight forward! but every body knows Job's business
better than Job himself! now you make me forget the road; let us go
in and ask old Nab, she knows the way too well!"
"Old Nab! you wilful dolt! who is Nab, and what have I to do with
any but yourself?"
"Every body in Boston knows Abigail Pray."
"What of her?" asked the startling voice of the stranger; "what of
Abigail Pray, boy; is she not honest?"
"Yes, as poverty can make her," returned the natural, gloomily;
"now the king has said there shall be no goods but tea sent to Boston,
and the people won't have the bohea, its easy living rentfree.— Nab
keeps her huckster-stuff in the old ware'us', and a good place it is
too—Job and his mother have each a room to sleep in, and they say
the king and queen haven't more!"
While he was speaking, the eyes of his listeners were drawn by his
gestures toward the singular edifice to which he alluded. Like most of
the others adjacent to the square, it was low, old, dirty, and dark.
Its shape was triangular, a street bounding it on each side, and its
extremities were flanked by as many low hexagonal towers, which
terminated, like the main building itself, in high pointed roofs,
tiled, and capped with rude ornaments. Long ranges of small windows
were to be seen in the dusky walls, through one of which the light of
a solitary candle was glimmering, the only indication of the presence
of life about the silent and gloomy building.
"Nab knows ma'am Lechmere better than Job," continued the idiot,
after a moment's pause, "and she will know whether ma'am Lechmere will
have Job whipped for bringing company on Saturday-night; though they
say she's so full of scoffery as to talk, drink tea, and laugh on that
night, just the same as any other time."
"I will pledge myself to her courteous treatment," the officer
replied, beginning to be weary of the fool's delay.
"Let us see this Abigail Pray," cried the aged stranger, suddenly
seizing Job by the arm, and leading him, with a sort of irresistible
power, toward the walls of the building, through one of the low doors
of which they immediately disappeared.
Thus left on the bridge, with his valet, the young officer
hesitated a single instant how to act; but yielding to the secret and
powerful interest which the stranger had succeeded in throwing around
all his movements and opinions, he bid Meriton await his return, and
followed his guide and the old man into the cheerless habitation of
the former. On passing the outer door he found himself in a spacious,
but rude apartment, which, from its appearance, as well as from the
few articles of heavy but valueless merchandise it now contained,
would seem to have been used once as a store-house. The light drew
his steps toward a room in one of the towers, where, as he approached
its open door, he heard the loud, sharp tones of a woman's voice,
"Where have you been, graceless, this Saturday-night! tagging at
the heels of the soldiers, or gazing at the men-of-war, with their
ungodly fashions of music and revelry at such a time, I dare to say!
and you knew that a ship was in the bay, and that madam Lechmere had
desired me to send her the first notice of its arrival. Here have I
been waiting for you to go up to Tremont-street since sun-down, with
the news, and you are out of call—you, that know so well who it is
"Don't be cross to Job, mother, for the grannies have been cutting
his back with cords, till the blood runs! ma'am Lechmere! I do
believe, mother, that ma'am Lechmere has moved; for I've been trying
to find her house this hour, because there's a gentleman who landed
from the ship wanted Job to show him the way."
"What means the ignorant boy!" exclaimed his mother.
"He alludes to me," said the officer, entering the apartment; "I am
the person, if any, expected by Mrs. Lechmere, and have just landed
from the Avon, of Bristol; but your son has led me a circuitous path,
indeed; at one time he spoke of visiting the graves on Copps-Hill."
"Excuse the ignorant and witless child, sir," exclaimed the matron,
eyeing the young man keenly through her spectacles; "he knows the way
as well as to his own bed, but he is wilful at times. This will be a
joyful night in Tremont-street! So handsome, and so stately too!
excuse me, young gentleman," she added, raising the candle to his
features with an evident unconsciousness of the act—"he has the
sweet smile of the mother, and the terrible eye of his father! God
forgive us all our sins, and make us happier in another world than in
this place of evil and wickedness!" As she muttered the latter words,
the woman set aside her candle with an air of singular agitation.
Each syllable, notwithstanding her secret intention, was heard by the
officer, across whose countenance there passed a sudden gloom that
doubled its sad expression. He, however, said—
"You know me, and my family, then."
"I was at your birth, young gentleman, and a joyful birth it was!
but madam Lechmere waits for the news, and my unfortunate child shall
speedily conduct you to her door; she will tell you all that it is
proper to know. Job, you Job, where are you getting to, in that
corner! take your hat, and show the gentleman to Tremont-street
directly; you know, my son, you love to go to madam Lechmere's!"
"Job would never go, if Job could help it," muttered the sullen
boy; "and if Nab had never gone, 'twould have been better for her
"Do you dare, disrespectful viper!" exclaimed the angry quean,
seizing, in the violence of her fury, the tongs, and threatening the
head of her stubborn child.
"Woman, peace!" said a voice behind.
The dangerous weapon fell from the nerveless hand of the vixen, and
the hues of her yellow and withered countenance changed to the
whiteness of death. She stood motionless, for near a minute, as if
riveted to the spot by a superhuman power, before she succeeded in
muttering, "who speaks to me?"
"It is I," returned the stranger, advancing from the shadow of the
door into the dim light of the candle; "a man who has numbered ages,
and who knows, that as God loves him, so is he bound to love the
children of his loins."
The rigid limbs of the woman lost their stability, in a tremour
that shook every fibre in her body; she sunk in her chair, and her
eyes rolled from the face of one visiter to that of the other, while
her unsuccessful efforts to utter. denoted that she had temporarily
lost the command of speech. Job stole to the side of the stranger, in
this short interval, and looking up in his face piteously, he said—
"Don't hurt old Nab—read that good saying to her out of the
Bible, and she'll never strike Job with the tongs ag'in; will you,
mother? See her cup, where she hid it under the towel, when you came
in! ma'am Lechmere gives her the p'ison tea to drink, and then Nab is
never so good to Job, as Job would be to mother, if mother was
half-witted, and Job was old Nab."
The stranger considered the moving countenance of the boy, while he
pleaded thus earnestly in behalf of his mother, with marked attention,
and when he had done, he stroked the head of the natural
compassionately, and said—
"Poor, imbecile child! God has denied the most precious of his
gifts, and yet his spirit hovers around thee; for thou canst
distinguish between austerity and kindness, and thou hast learnt to
know good from evil. Young man, see you no moral in this dispensation!
Nothing, which says that Providence bestows no gift in vain; while it
points to the difference between the duty that is fostered by
indulgence, and that which is extorted by power!"
The officer avoided the ardent looks of the stranger, and after an
embarrassing pause of a moment, he expressed his readiness, to the
reviving woman, to depart on his way. The matron, whose eye had never
ceased to dwell on the features of the old man, since her faculties
were restored, arose slowly, and in a feeble voice, directed her son
to show the road to Tremont-street. She had acquired, by long
practice, a manner that never failed to control, when necessary, the
wayward humours of her child, and on the present occasion, the
unwonted solemnity imparted to her voice, by deep agitation, aided in
effecting her object. Job quietly arose, and prepared himself to
comply. The manners of the whole party wore a restraint which implied
they had touched on feelings that it would be wiser to smother, and
the separation would have been silent, though courteous, on the part
of the youth, had he not perceived the passage still filled by the
motionless form of the stranger."
"You will precede me, sir," he said; "the hour grows late, and you,
too, may need a guide to find your dwelling."
"To me, the streets of Boston have long been familiar," returned
the old man. "I have noted the increase of the town as a parent notes
the increasing stature of his child; nor is my love for it less than
paternal. It is enough that I am within its limits, where liberty is
prized as the greatest good; and it matters not under what roof I lay
my head—this will do as well as another."
"This!" echoed the other, glancing his eyes over the miserable
furniture, and scanning the air of poverty that pervaded the place;
"why this house has even less of comfort than the ship we have left!"
"It has enough for my wants," said the stranger, seating himself
with composure, and deliberately placing his bundle by his side. "Go
you to your palace, in Tremont-street: it shall be my care that we
The officer understood the character of his companion too well to
hesitate, and bending low, he quitted the apartment, leaving the other
leaning his head on his cane, in absent musing, while the amazed
matron was gazing at her unexpected guest, with a wonder that was not
unmingled with dread.
"From silver spouts the grateful liquors glide,
"While China's earth receives the smoking tide.
"At once they gratify their scent and taste,
"And frequent cups prolong the rich repast."
Rape of the Lock.
The recollection of the repeated admonitions of his mother, served
to keep Job to his purpose. The instant the officer appeared, he held
his way across the bridge, and after proceeding for a short distance
further, along the water's edge, they entered a broad and well built
avenue, which led from the principal wharf into the upper parts of
the town. Turning up this street, the lad was making his way, with
great earnestness, when sounds of high merriment and conviviality,
breaking from an opposite building, caught his attention, and induced
him to pause.
"Remember your mother's injunction," said the officer; "what see
you in that tavern, to stare at?"
"'Tis the British Coffee-house!" said Job, shaking his head; "yes,
any body might know that by the noise they make in't on
Saturday-night! see, it's filled now, with Lord Boot's officers,
flaring afore the windows, just like so many red devils; but
to-morrow, when the Old South bell rings, they'll forget their Lord
and maker, every sinner among them!"
"Fellow!" exclaimed the officer, "this is trespassing too
far—proceed to Tremont-street, or leave me, that I may, at once,
procure another guide."
The changeling cast a look aside at the angry eye of the other, and
then turned and proceeded, muttering so loud as to be overheard—
"Every body that's raised in Boston knows how to keep
Saturday-night; and if you're a Boston boy, you should love Boston
The officer did not reply, and as they now proceeded with great
diligence, they soon passed through King and Queen-streets, and
entered that of Tremont. At a little distance from the turning, Job
stopped, and pointing to a building near them, he said—
"There; that house with the court-yard afore it, and the
pile-axters, and the grand looking door, that's ma'am Lechmere's; and
every body says she's a grand lady, but I say it is a pity she isn't
a better woman."
"And who are you, that ventures thus boldly to speak of a lady so
much your superior?"
"I!" said the idiot, looking up simply into the face of his
interrogator, "I am Job Pray, so called."
"Well, Job Pray, here is a crown for you. The next time you act as
guide, keep more to your business.—I tell you lad, I offer a crown."
"Job don't love crowns—they say the king wears a crown, and it
makes him flaunty and proud like."
"The disaffection must have spread itself wide indeed, if such as
he refuse silver, rather than offend their principles!" muttered the
officer to himself.—"Here then is half a guinea, if you like gold
The natural continued kicking a stone about with his toes, without
taking his hands from the pockets where he wore them ordinarily, with
a sort of idle air, as he peered from under his slouched hat at this
renewed offer, answering—
"You wouldn't let the grannies whip Job, and Job won't take your
"Well boy, there is more of gratitude in that than a wiser man
would always feel! Come, Meriton, I shall meet the poor fellow again,
and will not forget this. I commission you to see the lad better
dressed, in the beginning of the week."
"Lord, sir," said the valet, "if it is your pleasure, most
certainly; but I declare I don't know in what style I should dress
such a figure and countenance, to make any thing of them!"
"Sir, sir," cried the lad, running a few steps after the officer,
who had already proceeded, "if you won't let the grannies beat Job any
more, Job will always show you the way through Boston; and run your
"Poor fellow! well, I promise that you shall not be again abused by
any of the soldiery. Good night, my honest friend—let me see you
The idiot appeared satisfied with this assurance, for he
immediately turned, and gliding along the street with a sort of
shuffling gait, he soon disappeared round the first corner. In the
meantime the young officer advanced to the entrance which led into
the court-yard of Mrs. Lechmere's dwelling. The house was of bricks,
and of an exterior altogether more pretending than most of those in
the lower parts of the town. It was heavily ornamented, in wood,
according to the taste of a somewhat earlier day, and presented a
front of seven windows in its two upper stories, those at the
extremes being much narrower than the othersThe lower floor had the
same arrangement, with the exception of the principal door.
Strong lights were shining in many parts of the house, which gave
it, in comparison with the gloomy and darkened edifices in its
vicinity, an air of peculiar gaiety and life. The rap of the gentleman
was answered instantly by an old black, dressed in a becoming, and
what, for the colonies, was, a rich livery. The inquiry for Mrs.
Lechmere was successful, and the youth conducted through a hall of
some dimensions, into an apartment which opened from one of its sides.
This room would be considered, at the present day, as much too small
to contain the fashion of a country town; but what importance it
wanted in size, was amply compensated for in the richness and labour
of its decorations. The walls were divided into compartments, by
raised panel-work, beautifully painted with imaginary landscapes and
ruins. The glittering, varnished surfaces of these pictures were
burthened with armorial bearings, which were intended to illustrate
the alliances of the family. Beneath the surbase were smaller
divisions of panels, painted with various architectural devices; and
above it rose, between the compartments, fluted pilasters of wood,
with gilded capitals. A heavy wooden, and highly ornamented cornice,
stretched above the whole, furnishing an appropriate outline to the
walls. The use of carpets was, at that time, but little known in the
colonies, though the wealth and station of Mrs. Lechmere would
probably have introduced the luxury, had not her age, and the nature
of the building, tempted her to adhere to ancient custom. The floor,
which shone equally with the furniture, was tessellated with small
alternate squares of red-cedar and pine, and in the centre were the
`saliant Lions' of Lechmere, attempted by the blazonry of the joiner.
On either side of the ponderous and laboured mantel, were arched
compartments, of plainer work, denoting use, the sliding panels of one
of which, being raised, displayed a beaufet, groaning with massive
plate. The furniture was old, rich, and heavy, but in perfect
preservation. In the midst of this scene of colonial splendour, which
was rendered as impressive as possible by the presence of numerous
waxen lights, a lady, far in the decline of life, sat, in formal
propriety, on a small settee. The officer had thrown his cloak into
the hands of Meriton, in the hall, and as he advanced up the
apartment, his form appeared in the gay dress of a soldier, giving to
its ease and fine proportions, the additional charm of military
garnish. The hard, severe eye of the lady, sensibly softened with
pleased surprise, as it dwelt on his person for an instant after she
arose to receive her guest, but the momentary silence was first broken
by the youth, who said—
"I have entered unannounced, for my impatience has exceeded my
breeding, madam, while each step I have taken in this house recalls
the days of my boyhood, and of my former freedom within its walls."
"My cousin Lincoln!" interrupted the lady, who was Mrs. Lechmere;
"that dark eye, that smile, nay, your very step announces you! I must
have forgotten my poor brother, and one also who is still so dear to
us, not to have known you a true Lincoln!"
There was a distance in the manner of both, at meeting, which might
easily have been imparted by the precise formula of the provincial
school, of which the lady was so distinguished a member, but which
was not sufficient to explain the sad expression that suddenly and
powerfully blended with the young man's smile, as she spoke. The
change, however, was but momentary, and he answered courteously to
her assurances of recognition—
"I have long been taught to expect a second home in Tremont-street,
and I find by your flattering remembrance of myself and parents, dear
madam, that my expectations are justified."
The lady was sensibly pleased at this remark, and she suffered a
smile to unbend her rigid brow, as she answered—
"A home, certainly, though it be not such a one as the heir of the
wealthy house of Lincoln may have been accustomed to dwell in. It
would be strange, indeed, could any allied to that honourable family,
forget to entertain its representative with due respect."
The youth seemed conscious that quite as much had now been said as
the occasion required, and he raised his head from bowing respectfully
on her hand, with the intention of changing the subject to one less
personal, when his eye caught a glimpse of the figure of another, and
more youthful female, who had been concealed, hitherto, by the drapery
of a window-curtain. Advancing to this young lady, he said, with a
quickness that rather betrayed his willingness to suspend further
"And here I see one also, to whom I have the honor of being
related; Miss Dynevor?"
"Though it be not my grand-child," said Mrs. Lechmere, "it is one
who claims an equal affinity to you, Major Lincoln; it is Agnes
Danforth, the daughter of my late niece."
"'Twas my eye then, and not my feelings that were mistaken,"
returned the young soldier; "I hope this lady will admit my claim to
call her cousin?"
A simple inclination of the body was the only answer he received,
though she did not decline the hand which he offered with his
salutations. After a few more of the usual expressions of pleasure,
and the ordinary inquiries that succeed such meetings, the party
became seated, and a more regular discourse followed.
"I am pleased to find you remember us then, cousin Lionel," said
Mrs. Lechmere; "we have so little in this remote province that will
compare with the mother country, I had feared no vestiges of the
place of your birth could remain on your mind."
"I find the town greatly altered, it is true, but there are many
places in it which I still remember, though certainly their splendour
is a little diminished, in my eyes, by absence and a familiarity with
"Doubtless, an acquaintance with the British court will have no
tendency to exalt our humble customs in your imagination; neither do
we possess many buildings to attract the notice of a travelled
stranger. There is a tradition in our family, that your seat in
Devonshire is as large as any dozen edifices in Boston, public or
private; nay, we are proud of saying, that the king himself is lodged
as well as the head of the Lincoln family, only when at his castle of
"Ravenscliffe is certainly a place of some magnitude," returned the
young man, carelessly, "though you will remember his majesty affects
but little state at Kew. I have, however, spent so little of my time
in the country, that I hardly know its conveniences or its extent."
The old lady bowed with that sort of complacency which the dwellers
in the colonies were apt to betray, whenever an allusion was made to
the acknowledged importance of their connexions in that country
toward which they all looked as the fountain of honour; and then, as
quickly as if the change in her ideas was but a natural transition in
the subject, she observed—
"Surely Cecil cannot know of the arrival of our kinsman! she is not
apt to be so remiss in paying attention to our guests!"
"She does me the more honour, that she considers me a relative, and
one who requires no formality in his reception."
"You are but cousins twice removed," returned the old lady, a
little gravely;" and there is surely no affinity in that degree which
can justify any forgetfulness of the usual courtesies. You see,
cousin Lionel, how much we value the consanguinity, when it is a
subject of pride to the most remote branches of the family!"
"I am but little of a genealogist, madam; though, if I retain a
true impression of what I have heard, Miss Dynevor is of too good
blood, in the direct line, to value the collateral drops of an
"Pardon me, major Lincoln; her father, colonel Dynevor, was
certainly an Englishman of an ancient and honourable name, but no
family in the realm need scorn an alliance with our own. I say our
own, cousin Lionel, for I would never have you forget that I am a
Lincoln, and was the sister of your grandfather."
A little surprised at the seeming contradiction in the language of
the good lady, the young man bowed his head to the compliment, and
cast his eyes at his younger companion with a sort of longing, to
change the discourse, by addressing the reserved young woman nigh him,
that was very excusable in one of his sex and years. He had not time,
however, to make more than one or two common-place remarks, and
receive their answers, before Mrs. Lechmere said, with some exhibition
of staid displeasure against her grandchild—
"Go, Agnes, and acquaint your cousin of this happy event. She has
been sensibly alive to your safety, during the whole time consumed by
your voyage. We have had the prayers of the church, for a `person
gone to sea,' read each Sunday, since the receipt of your letters,
announcing your intention to embark; and I have been exceedingly
pleased to observe the deep interest with which Cecil joined in our
Lionel mumbled a few words of thanks, and leaning back in his
chair, threw his eyes upward, but whether in pious gratitude or not,
we conceive it is not our province to determine. During the delivery
of Mrs. Lechmere's last speech, and the expressive pantomime that
succeeded it, Agnes Danforth rose and left the room. The door had
been some little time closed before the silence was again broken;
during which, Mrs. Lechmere evidently essayed in vain, once or twice,
to speak. Her colour, pale and immovable as usually seemed her
withered look, changed in its shades, and her lip trembled
involuntarily. She, however, soon found her utterance, though the
first tones of her voice were choked and husky.
"I may have appeared remiss, cousin Lionel," she said, "but there
are subjects that can be discussed with propriety, only between the
nearest relatives. Sir Lionel—you left him in as good a state of
bodily health, I hope, as his mental illness will allow?"
"It is so represented to me."
"You have seen him lately?"
"Not in fifteen years; my presence was said to increase his
disorder, and the physicians forbade any more interviews. He continues
at the private establishment near town, and, as the lucid intervals
are thought to increase, both in frequency and duration, I often
indulge in the pleasing hope of being restored again to my father. The
belief is justified by his years, which, you know, are yet under
A long and apparently a painful silence succeeded this interesting
communication; at length the lady said, with a tremour in her voice,
for which the young man almost reverenced her, as it so plainly
bespoke her interest in her nephew, as well as the goodness of her
"I will thank you for a glass of that water in the beaufet. Pardon
me, cousin Lionel, but this melancholy subject always overcomes me. I
will retire a few moments, with your indulgence, and hasten the
appearance of my grandchild. I pine that you may meet."
Her absence just at that moment was too agreeable to the feelings
of Lionel, for him to gainsay her intention; though, instead of
following Agnes Danforth, who had preceded her on the same duty, the
tottering steps of Mrs. Lechmere conducted her to a door which
communicated with her own apartment. For several minutes the young
man trampled on the `salient lions' of Lechmere, with a rapidity that
seemed to emulate their own mimic speed, as he paced to and fro
across the narrow apartment, his eye glancing vacantly along the
laboured wainscots, embracing the argent, azure and purpure fields of
the different escutcheons, as heedlessly, as if they were not charged
with the distinguishing symbols of so many honourable names. This
mental abstraction was, however, shortly dissipated by the sudden
appearance of one who had glided into the room, and advanced to its
centre, before he became conscious of her presence. A light, rounded,
and exquisitely proportioned female form, accompanied by a youthful
and expressive countenance, with an air in which womanly grace
blended so nicely with feminine delicacy as to cause each motion and
gesture to command respect, at the same time that it was singularly
insinuating, was an object to suspend, even at a first glance,
provided that glance were by surprise, the steps of a more absent and
less courteous youth than the one we have attempted to describe.
Major Lincoln knew that this young lady could be no other than Cecil
Dynevor, the daughter of a British officer, long since deceased, by
the only child of Mrs. Lechmere, who was also in her grave; and
consequently that she was one to whom he was so well known by
character, and so nearly allied by blood, as to render it an easy
task for a man accustomed to the world as he had been, to remove any
little embarrassments which might have beset a less practised youth,
by acting as his own usher. This he certainly attempted, and at
first, with a freedom which his affinity, and the circumstances, would
seem to allow, though it was chastened by easy politeness. But the
restraint visible in the manner of the lady was so marked, that by
the time his salutations were ended, and he had handed her to a seat,
the young man felt as much embarrassment as if he had found himself
alone, for the first time, with the woman whom he had been pining,
for months, to favour with a very particular communication. Whether it
is that nature has provided the other sex with a tact for these
occasions, or that the young lady became sensible that her deportment
was not altogether such as was worthy either of herself, or the guest
of her grandmother, she was certainly the first to relieve the slight
awkwardness that was but too apparent in the commencement of the
"My grandmother has long been expecting this pleasure, major
Lincoln," she said, "and your arrival has been at a most auspicious
moment. The state of the country grows each day so very alarming,
that I have indeed long urged her to visit our relatives in England,
until the disputes shall have terminated."
The tones of an extremely soft and melodious voice, and a
pronunciation quite as exact as if the speaker had acquired the sounds
in the English court, and which was entirely free from the slight
vernacular peculiarity which had offended his ear, in the few words
that fell from Agnes Danforth, certainly aided a native attraction of
manner, which it seemed impossible for the young lady to cast
"You, who are so much of an English woman, would find great
pleasure in the exchange," he answered; "and if half what I have heard
from a fellow passenger, of the state of the country be true, I shall
be foremost in seconding your request. Both Ravenscliffe and the house
in Soho, would be greatly at the service of Mrs. Lechmere."
"It was my wish that she would accept the pressing invitations of
my father's relative, Lord Cardonnel, who has long urged me to pass a
few years in his own family. A separation would be painful to us
both, but should my grandmother, in such an event, determine to take
her residence in the dwellings of her ancestors, I could not be
censured for adopting a resolution to abide under the roofs of mine."
The piercing eye of major Lincoln fell full upon her own, as she
delivered this intention, and as it dropped on the floor, the slight
smile that played round his lip, was produced by the passing thought,
that the provincial beauty had inherited so much of her grandmother's
pride of genealogy, as to be willing to impress on his mind that the
niece of a viscount was superior to the heir of a baronetcy. But the
quick, burning flush that instantly passed across the features of
Cecil Dynevor, might have taught him, that she was acting under the
impulse of much deeper feelings than such an unworthy purpose would
indicate. The effect, however, was such as to make the young man glad
to see Mrs. Lechmere re-enter the room, leaning on the arm of her
"I perceive, my cousin Lionel," said the lady, as she moved with a
feeble step toward the settee, "that you and Cecil have found each
other out, without the necessity of any other introduction than the
affinity between you. I surely do not mean the affinity of blood
altogether, you know, for that cannot be said to amount to any thing;
but I believe there exist certain features of the mind that are
transmitted through families quite as distinctly as any which belong
to the countenance."
"Could I flatter myself with possessing the slightest resemblance
to Miss Dynevor, in either of those particulars, I should be doubly
proud of the connexion," returned Lionel, while he assisted the good
lady to a seat, with a coolness that sufficiently denoted how little
he cared about the matter.
"But I am not disposed to have my right to claim near kindred with
cousin Lionel, at all disputed," cried the young lady, with sudden
animation. "It has pleased our fore-fathers to order such—
"Nay, nay, my child," interrupted her grandmother, "you forget that
the term of cousin can only be used in cases of near consanguinity,
and where familiar situations will excuse it. But major Lincoln
knows, that we in the colonies are apt to make the most of the
language, and count our cousins almost as far as if we were members of
the Scottish clans. Speaking of the clans, reminds me of the
rebellion of '45. It is not thought in England, that our infatuated
colonists will ever be so fool-hardy as to assume their arms in
"There are various opinions on that subject," said Lionel. "Most
military men scout the idea; though I find, occasionally, an officer
that has served on this continent, who thinks not only that the
appeal will be made, but that the struggle will be bloody."
"Why should they not!" said Agnes Danforth, abruptly; "they are
men, and the English are no more!"
Lionel turned his looks, in a little surprise, on the speaker, to
whose countenance an almost imperceptible cast in one eye, imparted a
look of arch good nature that her manner would seem to contradict,
and smiled as he repeated her words—
"Why should they not, indeed! I know no no other reasons than that
it would be both a mad and an unlawful act. I can assure you that I
am not one of those who affect to undervalue my own countrymen; for
you will remember that I too am an American."
"I have heard it said that such of our volunteers as wear uniforms
at all," said Agnes, "appear in blue, and not in scarlet."
"'Tis his majesty's pleasure that his 47th foot should wear this
gaudy colour," returned the young man, laughing; "though, for myself,
I am quite willing to resign it to the use of you ladies, and to
adopt another, could it well be."
"It might be done, sir."
"In what manner?"
"By resigning your commission with it."
Mrs. Lechmere had evidently permitted her niece to proceed thus
far, without interruption, to serve some purpose of her own; but
perceiving that her guest by no means exhibited that air of pique
which the British officers were so often weak enough to betray, when
the women took into their hands the defence of their country's honour,
she rang the bell, as she observed—
"Bold language, major Lincoln! bold language for a young lady under
twenty. But Miss Danforth is privileged to speak her mind freely, for
some of her father's family are but too deeply implicated in the
unlawful proceedings of these evil times. We have kept Cecil, however,
more to her allegiance."
"And yet even Cecil has been known to refuse the favour of her
countenance to the entertainments given by the British officers!" said
Agnes, a little piquantly.
"And would you have Cecil Dynevor frequent balls and entertainments
unaccompanied by a proper chaperon," returned Mrs. Lechmere; "or is
it expected that, at seventy, I can venture in public to maintain the
credit of our family. But we keep major Lincoln from his refreshments
with our idle disputes. Cato, we wait your movements."
Mrs. Lechmere delivered her concluding intimation to the black, in
attendance, with an air that partook somewhat of mystery. The old
domestic, who, probably from long practice, understood, more by the
expression of her eye than by any words she had uttered, the wishes of
his mistress, proceeded to close the outer shutters of the windows,
and to draw the curtains with the most exact care. When this duty was
performed, he raised a small oval table from its regular position
among the flowing folds of the drapery that shrouded the deep
apertures for light, and placed it in front of Miss Dynevor. A salver
of massive silver, containing an equipage of the finest Dresden,
followed, and in a few minutes a hissing urn of the same precious
metal garnished the polished surface of the mahogany. During these
arrangements, Mrs. Lechmere and her guest had maintained a general
discourse, touching chiefly on the welfare and condition of certain
individuals of their alliance, in England. Notwithstanding the demand
thus made on his attention, Lionel was able to discover a certain
appearance of mystery and caution in each movement of the black as he
proceeded leisurely in his duty. Miss Dynevor permitted the
disposition of the tea-table to be made before her, passively, and her
cousin Agnes Danforth threw herself back on one of the settees, with
a look that indicated cool displeasure. When the usual compound was
made in two little fluted cups, over whose pure white a few red and
green sprigs were sparingly scattered, the black presentod one
containing the grateful beverage to his mistress, and the other to the
"Pardon me, Miss Danforth," said Lionel, recollecting himself after
he had accepted the offering; "I have suffered my sea-breeding to
obtain the advantage."
"Enjoy your error, sir, if you can find any gratification in the
indulgence," returned the young lady.
"But I shall enjoy it the more, could I see you participating in
"You have termed the idle indulgence well; 'tis nothing but a
luxury, and such a one as can be easily dispensed with: I thank you,
sir, I do not drink tea."
"Surely no lady can forswear her Bohea! be persuaded."
"I know not how the subtle poison may operate on your English
ladies, major Lincoln, but it is no difficult matter for an American
girl to decline the use of a detestable herb, which is one, among many
other, of the causes that is likely to involve her country and
kindred in danger and strife."
The young man, who had really intended no more than the common
civilities due from his sex to the other, bowed in silence, though, as
he turned from her, he could not forbear looking toward the table to
see whether the principles of the other young American were quite as
rigid. Cecil sat bending over the salver, playing idly with a
curiously wrought spoon, made to represent a sprig of the plant whose
fragrance had been thus put in requisition to contribute to his
indulgence, while the steam from the china vessel before her was
wreathing in a faint mist around her polished brow.
"You at least, Miss Dynevor," said Lionel, "appear to have no
dislike to the herb, you breathe its vapour so freely."
Cecil cast a glance at him which changed the demure and somewhat
proud composure of her countenance into a look of sudden, joyous
humour, that was infinitely more natural, as she answered
"I own a woman's weakness.—I must believe it was tea that tempted
our common mother in Paradise!"
"It would show that the cunning of the serpent has been transmitted
to a later day, could that be proved," said Agnes, "though the
instrument of temptation has lost some of its virtue."
"How know you that?" said Lionel, anxious to pursue the trifling,
in order to remove the evident distance which had existed between
them; "had Eve shut her ears as rigidly as you close your mouth
against the offering, we might yet have enjoyed the first gift to our
"Oh, sir, 'tis no such stranger to me as you may imagine from the
indifference I have assumed on the present occasion; as Job Pray says,
Boston harbour is nothing but a `big tea-pot!' "
"You know Job Pray, then, Miss Danforth!" said Lionel, not a little
amused by her spirit.
"Certainly; Boston is so small, and Job so useful, that every body
knows the simpleton."
"He belongs to a distinguished family, then, for I have his own
assurance that every body knows his perturbed mother, Abigail."
"You!" exclaimed Cecil, again, in that sweet, natural voice that
had before startled her auditor; "what can you know of poor Job, and
his almost equally unfortunate mother!"
"Now, young ladies, I have you in my snares!" cried Lionel; "you
may possibly resist the steams of tea, but what woman can withstand
the impulse of her curiosity! not to be too cruel with my fair
kinswomen on so short an acquaintance, however, I will go so far as
to acknowledge that I have already had an interview with Mrs. Pray."
The reply which Agnes was about to deliver was interrupted by a
slight crash, and on turning, they beheld the fragments of a piece of
the splendid set of Dresden, lying at the feet of Mrs. Lechmere.
"My dear grand-mama is ill!" cried Cecil, springing to the
assistance of the old lady. "Hasten, Cato -major Lincoln, you are more
active— for heaven's sake a glass of water—Agnes, your salts."
The amiable anxiety of her grand-child was not, however, so
necessary as first appearances would have indicated, and Mrs. Lechmere
gently put aside the salts, though she did not decline the glass,
which Lionel offered for the second time in so short a period.
"I fear you will mistake me for a sad invalid, cousin Lionel," said
the old lady, when she had become a little composed; "but I believe it
is this very tea, of which so much has been said, and which I drink
to excess, from pure loyalty, that unsettles my nerves—I must
refrain, like the girls, though from a very different motive. We are
a people of early hours, major Lincoln, but you are at home here, and
will pursue your pleasure; I must, however, claim an indulgence for
threescore-and-ten, and be permitted to wish you a good rest after
your voyage. Cato has his orders to contribute all he can to your
Leaning on her two assistants, the old lady withdrew, leaving
Lionel to the full possession of the apartment. As the hour was
getting late, and from the compliments they had exchanged, he did not
expect the return of the younger ladies, he called for a candle, and
was shown to his own room. As soon as the few indispensables, which
rendered a valet necessary to a gentleman of that period, were
observed, he dismissed Meriton, and throwing himself in the bed,
courted the sweets of the pillow.
Many incidents, however, had occurred during the day, that induced
a train of thoughts, which for a long time prevented his attaining the
natural rest he sought. After indulging in long and uneasy
reflections on certain events, too closely connected with his personal
feelings to be lightly remembered, the young man began to muse on his
reception, and on the individuals who had been, as it were, for the
first time, introduced to him.
It was quite apparent that both Mrs. Lechmere, and her
grand-daughter were acting their several parts, though whether in
concert or not, remained to be discovered. But in Agnes Danforth, with
all his subtlety, he could perceive nothing but the plain and direct,
though a little blunt, peculiarities of her nature and education. Like
most very young men, who had just been made acquainted with two
youthful females, both of them much superior to the generality of
their sex in personal charms, he fell asleep musing on their
characters. Nor, considering the circumstances, will it be at all
surprising when we add, that before morning, he was dreaming of the
Avon, of Bristol, on board which stout vessel he even thought that he
was discussing a chowder on the Banks of Newfoundland, which had been
unaccountably prepared by the fair hands of Miss Danforth, and which
was strangely flavoured with tea; while the Hebelooking countenance
of Cecil Dynevor was laughing at his perplexities with undisguised
good-humour, and with all the vivacity of girlish merriment.
"A good portly man, i'falth, and a corpulent."
King Henry IV.
The sun was just stirring the heavy bank of fog, which had rested
on the waters during the night, as Lionel toiled his way up the side
of Beacon-Hill, anxious to catch a glimpse of his native scenery
while it was yet glowing with the first touch of day. The islands
raised their green heads above the mist, and the wide amphitheatre of
hills that encircled the bay was still visible, though the vapour was
creeping in places along the vallies—now concealing the entrance to
some beautiful glen, and now wreathing itself fantastically around a
tall spire that told the site of a suburban village. Though the people
of the town were awake and up, yet the sacred character of the day,
and the state of the times, contributed to suppress those sounds which
usually distinguish populous places. The cool nights and warm days of
April, had generated a fog more than usually dense, which was
deserting its watery bed, and stealing insidiously along the land, to
unite with the vapours of the rivers and brooks, spreading a wider
curtain before the placid view. As Lionel stood on the brow of the
platform that crowned the eminence, the glimpses of houses and hills,
of towers and ships, of places known and places forgotten, passed
before his vision, through the openings in the mist, like phantoms of
the imagination. The whole scene, animated and in motion as it seemed
by its changes, appeared to his excited feelings like a fanciful
panorama, exhibited for his eye alone, when his enjoyment was
interrupted by a voice apparently at no great distance. It was a man
singing to a common English air, fragments of some ballad, with a
peculiarly vile nasal cadency. Through the frequent pauses, he was
enabled to comprehend a few words, which, by their recurrence, were
evidently intended for a chorus to the rest of the production. The
reader will understand the character of the whole from these lines,
which ran as follows:
And they that would be free,
Out they go;
While the slaves, as you may see,
Stay, to drink their p'ison tea,
Lionel, after listening to this expressive ditty for a moment,
followed the direction of the sounds until he encountered Job Pray,
who was seated on one of the flights of steps which aided the ascent
to the platform, cracking a few walnuts on the boards, while he
employed those intervals, when his mouth could find no better
employment, in uttering the above-mentioned strains.
"How now, master Pray, do you come here to sing your orisons to the
goddess of liberty, on a Sunday morning," cried Lionel; "or are you
the town lark, and for want of wings take to this height to obtain an
altitude for your melody?"
"There's no harm in singing psalm tunes or continental songs, any
day in the week," said the lad, without raising his eyes from his
occupation: "Job don't know what a lark is, but if it belongs to the
town, the soldiers are so thick, they can't keep it on the common."
"And what objection can you have to the soldiers possessing a
corner of your common."
"They starve the cows, and then they wont give milk; grass is sweet
to beasts in the spring of the year."
"But my life for it, the soldiers don't eat the grass; your
brindles and your blacks, your reds and your whites, may have the
first offering of the spring, as usual."
"But Boston cows don't love grass that British soldiers have
trampled on," said the sullen lad.
"This is, indeed, carrying notions of liberty to refinement!"
exclaimed Lionel, laughing.
Job shook his head, threateningly, as he looked up and said, "Don't
you let Ralph hear you say any thing ag'in liberty!"
"Ralph! who is he, lad? your genius! where do you keep the
invisible, that there is danger of his overhearing what I say?"
"He's up there in the fog," said Job, pointing significantly toward
the foot of the Beacon, which a dense volume of vapor was enwrapping,
probably attracted up the tall post that supported the grate.
Lionel gazed at the smoky column for a moment, when the mists began
to dissolve, and, amid their evolutions, he beheld the dim figure of
his aged fellow passenger. The old man was still clad in his simple,
tarnished vestments of gray, which harmonized so singularly with the
mists as to impart a look almost ethereal to his wasted form. As the
medium through which he was seen became less cloudy, his features grew
visible, and Lionel could distinguish the uneasy, rapid glances of his
eyes, which seemed to roam over the distant objects with an
earnestness that appeared to mock the misty veil that was floating
before so much of the view. While Lionel stood fixed to the spot,
gazing at this irregular being with that secret awe which the other
had succeeded in inspiring, the old man waved his hand impatiently, as
if he would cast aside his shroud. At that instant a bright sun-beam
darted into the vapour, illuminating his person, and melting the mist
into thin air. The anxious, haggard, and severe expression of his
countenance changed at the touch of the ray, and he smiled with a
softness and attraction that thrilled the nerves of the other, as he
called aloud to the sensitive young soldier—
"Come hither, Lionel Lincoln, to the foot of this beacon, where you
may gather warnings, which, if properly heeded, will guide you through
many and great dangers, unharmed."
"I am glad you have spoken," said Lionel, advancing to his side;
"you appeared like a being of another world, wrapped in that mantle
of fog, and I felt tempted to kneel, and ask a benediction."
"And am I not a being of another world! most of my interests are
already in the grave, and I tarry here only for a space, because there
is a great work to be done, which cannot be performed without me. My
view of the world of spirits, young man, is much clearer and more
distinct than yours of this variable scene at your feet. There is no
mist to obstruct the eye, nor any doubts as to the colours it
"You are happy, sir, in the extremity of your age to be so assured.
But I fear your sudden determination last night subjected you to
inconvenience in the tenement of this changeling."
"The boy is a good boy," said the old man, stroking the head of the
natural complacently; "we understand each other, major Lincoln, and
that shortens introductions, and renders communion easy."
"That you feel alike on one subject, I have already discovered; but
there I should think the resemblance and the intelligence must end."
"The propensities of the mind in its infancy and in its maturity
are but a span apart," said the stranger; "the amount of human
knowledge is but to know how much we are under the dominion of our
passions; and he who has learned by experience how to smother the
volcano, and he who never felt its fires, are surely fit associates."
Lionel bowed in silence to an opinion so humbling to the other, and
after a pause of a moment, adverted to their situation.
"The sun begins to make himself felt, and when he has driven away
these ragged remnants of the fog, we shall see those places each of us
have frequented, in his day."
"Shall we find them as we left them, think you? or will you see the
stranger in possession of the haunts of your infancy?"
"Not the stranger, certainly, for we are the subjects of one king;
children who own a common parent."
"I will not reply that he has proved himself an unnatural father,"
said the old man, calmly; "the gentleman who now fills the British
throne is less to be censured than his advisers, for the oppression
of his reign."—
"Sir," interrupted Lionel, "if such allusions are made to the
person of my sovereign, we must separate; for it ill becomes a British
officer to hear his master mentioned with levity."
"Levity!" repeated the other, slowly. "It is a fault indeed to
accompany gray locks and wasted limbs! but your jealous watchfulness
betrays you into error. I have breathed in the atmosphere of kings,
young man, and know how to separate the individual and his purpose,
from the policy of his government. 'Tis the latter that will sever
this great empire, and deprive the third George of what has so often
and so well been termed `the brightest jewel in his crown'."
"I must leave you, sir," said Lionel; "the opinions you so freely
expressed during our passage, were on principles which I can hardly
call opposed to our own constitution, and might be heard, not only
without offence, but frequently with admiration; but this language
approaches to treason!"
"Go then," returned the unmoved stranger, "descend to you degraded
common, and bid your mercenaries seize me—'twill be only the blood
of an old man, but 'twill help to fatten the land; or send your
merciless grenadiers to torment their victim before the axe shall do
its work; a man who has lived so long, can surely spare a little of
his time to the tormentors!"
"I could have thought, sir, that you might spare such a reproach to
me," said Lionel.
"I do spare it, and I do more; I forget my years, and solicit
forgiveness. But had you known slavery, as I have done, in it's worst
of forms, you would know how to prize the inestimable blessing of
"Have you ever known slavery, in your travels, more closely than in
what you deem the violations of principle?"
"Have I not!" said the stranger, smiling bitterly; "I have known it
as man should never know it; in act and will. I have lived days,
months, and even years, to hear others coldly declare my wants; to
see others dole out their meager pittances to my necessities, and to
hear others assume the right, to express the sufferings, and to
control the enjoyments of sensibilities that God had given to me only!"
"To endure such thraldom, you must have fallen into the power of
the infidel barbarians!"
"Ay! boy, I thank you for the words; they were indeed most worthy
of the epithets! infidels that denied the precepts of our blessed
Redeemer; and barbarians that treated one having a soul, and
possessing reason like themselves, as a beast of the field."
"Why didn't you come to Boston, Ralph, and tell that to the people
in Funnel-Hall?" exclaimed Job; "ther'd ha' been a stir about it!"
"Child, I did come to Boston, again and again, in thought; and the
appeals that I made to my townsmen would have moved the very roof of
old Fanueil, could they have been uttered within her walls. But 'twas
in vain! they had the power, and like demons—or rather like
miserable men, they abused it."
Lionel, sensibly touched, was about to reply in a suitable manner,
when he heard a voice calling his own name aloud, as if the speaker
were ascending the opposite acclivity of the hill. The instant the
sounds reached his ears, the old man rose from his seat, on the
foundation of the beacon, and gliding over the brow of the platform,
followed by Job, they descended into a volume of mist that was still
clinging to the side of the hill, with amazing swiftness.
"Why, Leo! thou lion in name, and deer in activity!" exclaimed the
intruder, as he surmounted the steep ascent, "what can have brought
you up into the clouds so early! whew—a man needs a New-Market
training to scale such a precipice. But, Leo, my dear fellow, I
rejoice to see you— we knew you were expected in the first ship, and
as I was coming from morning parade, I met a couple of grooms in the
`Lincoln green,' you know, leading each a blooded charger—faith,
one of them would have been quite convenient to climb this accursed
hill on—whew and whew-w, again—well, I knew the liveries at a
glance; as to the horses, I hope to be better acquainted with them
hereafter. Pray, sir, said I, to one of the liveried scoundrels, whom
do you serve?" "Major Lincoln, of Ravenscliffe, sir," said he, with a
look as impudent as if he could have said, like you and I, his sacred
majesty the king. That's the answer of the servants of your
ten-thousand a year men! Now, if my fool had been asked such a
question, his answer would have been, eraven dog as he is, captain
Polwarth, of the 47th; leaving the inquirer, though it should even be
some curious maiden who had taken a fancy to the tout ensemble of my
outline, in utter ignorance that there is such a place in the world as
During this voluble speech, which was interrupted by sundry efforts
to regain the breath lost in the ascent, Lionel shook his friend
cordially by the hand, and attempted to express his own pleasure at
the meeting. The failure of wind, however, which was a sort of
besetting sin with captain Polwarth, had now compelled him to pause,
and gave time to Lionel for a reply.
"This hill is the last place where I should have expected to meet
you," he said. "I took it for granted you would not be stirring until
nine or ten at least, when it was my intention to inquire you out,
and to give you a call before I paid my respects to the
"Ah! you may thank his excellency, the `Hon. Thomas Gage, governor
and commander-in-chief, in and over the Province of Massachusetts-Bay,
and vice-admiral of the same,' as he styles himself in his
proclamations, for this especial favour; though, between ourselves,
Leo, he is about as much governor over the Province, as he is
owner of those hunters you have just landed."
"But why am I to thank him for this interview?"
"Why! look about you, and tell me what you behold—nothing but
fog—nay, I see there is a steeple, and yonder is the
smoking sea, and here are the chimneys of Hancock's house
beneath us, smoking too, as if their rebellious master were at home,
and preparing his feed! but every thing in sight is essentially smoky,
and there is a natural aversion, in us epicures, to smoke. Nature
dictates that a man who has as much to do in a day, in carrying
himself about, as your humble servant, should not cut his rest too
abruptly in the morning. But the honourable Thomas, governor, and
vice-admiral, &c. has ordered us under arms with the sun; officers,
as well as men!"
"Surely that is no great hardship to a soldier," returned Lionel;
"and moreover, it seems to agree with you marvellously! Now I look
again, Polwarth, I am amazed! Surely you are not in a light-infantry
"Certes—what is there in that so wonderful," returned the other,
with great gravity; "don't I become the dress? or is it the dress
which does not adorn me, that you look ready to die with mirth? Laugh
it out Leo. I am used to it these three days—but what is there,
after all, so remarkable in Peter Polwarth's commanding a company of
light infantry. Am I not just five feet, six and one eighth of an
inch—the precise height!"
"You appear to have been so accurate in your longitudinal
admeasurement, that you must carry one of Harrison's time-pieces in
your pocket; did it ever suggest itself to you to use the quadrant
"For my latitude! I understand you, Leo; because I am shaped a
little like mother earth, does it argue that I cannot command a
"Ay, even as Joshua commanded the sun. But the stopping of the
planet itself, is not a greater miracle in my eyes, than to see you in
"Well, then, the mystery shall be explained; but first let us be
seated on this beacon," said captain Polwarth, establishing himself
with great method in the place so lately occupied by the attenuated
form of the stranger; "a true soldier husbands his resources for a
time of need; that word, husbands, brings me at once to the point—
I am in love."
"That is surprising!"
"But what is much more so, I would fain be married."
It must be a woman of no mean endowments that could excite such
desires in captain Polwarth, of the 47th, and of Polwarth-Hall!"
"She is a woman of great qualifications, major Lincoln," said the
lover, with a sudden gravity that indicated his gaiety of manner was
not entirely natural. "In figure she may be said to be done to a
turn. When she is grave, she walks with the stateliness of a show
beef; when she runs, 'tis with the activity of a turkey; and when at
rest, I can only compare her to a dish of venison, savory, delicate,
and what one can never get enough of."
"You have, to adopt your own metaphors, given such a `rare' sketch
of her person, I am, `burning' to hear something of her mental
"My metaphors are not poetical, perhaps, but they are the first
that offer themselves to my mind, and they are natural. Her
accomplishments exceed her native gifts greatly. In the first place
she is witty; in the second, she is as impertinent as the devil; and
in the third, as inveterate a little traitor to king George as there
is in all Boston."
"These are strange recommendations to your favour!"
"The most infallible of all recommendations. They are piquant, like
savoury sauces, which excite the appetite, and season the dish. Now
her treason (for it amounts to that in fact) is like olives, and
gives a gusto to the generous port of my loyalty. Her impertinence is
oil to the cold sallad of my modesty, and her acid wit mingles with
the sweetness of my temperament, in that sort of pleasant combination
with which sweet and sour blend in sherbet."
"It would be idle for me to gainsay the charms of such a woman,"
returned Lionel, a good deal amused with the droll mixture of
seriousness and humour in the other's manner; "now for her connexion
with the light-infantry—she is not of the light corps of her own
Pardon me, major Lincoln, I cannot joke on this subject. Miss
Danforth is of one of the best families in Boston."
"Danforth! not Agnes, surely!"
"The very same!" exclaimed Polwarth, in surprise; "what do you know
"Only that she is a sort of cousin of my own, and that we are
inmates of the same house. We bear equal affinity to Mrs. Lechmere,
and the good lady has insisted that I shall make my home in
"I rejoice to hear it! At all events, our intimacy may now be
improved to some better purpose than eating and drinking. But to the
point—there were certain damnable innuendoes getting into
circulation, concerning my proportions, which I considered it prudent
to look down at once."
"In order to do which, you had only to look thinner."
"And do I not, in this appropriate dress? To be perfectly serious
with you, Leo, for to you I can freely unburthen myself, you know what
a set we are in the 47th—let them once fasten an opprobrious term,
or a nick name on you, and you take it to the grave, be it ever so
"There is a way, certainly, to check ungentleman-like liberties,"
said Lionel, gravely.
"Poh! poh! a man wouldn't wish to fight about a pound more or a
pound less of fat! still the name is a great deal, and first
impressions are every thing. Now, whoever thinks of Grand Cairo as a
village; of the Grand-Turk and Great Mogul, as little boys; or, who
would believe, by hearsay, that captain Polwarth, of the light
infantry, could weigh one hundred and eighty!"
"Add twenty to it."
"Not a pound more, as I am a sinner. I was weighed in the presence
of the whole mess no later than last week, since when I have rather
lost than gained an ounce, for this early rising is no friend to a
thriving condition. 'Twas in my nightgown, you'll remember, Leo, for
we, who tally so often, can't afford to throw in boots, and buckles,
and all those sorts of things, like your feather-weights."
"But I marvel how Nesbit was induced to consent to the
appointment," said Lionel; "he loves a little display."—
"I am your man for that," interrupted the captain; "we are embodied
you know, and I make more display, if that be what you require, than
any captain in the corps. But I will whisper a secret in your ear.
There has been a nasty business here lately, in which the 47th has
gained no new laurels—a matter of tarring and feathering, about an
old rusty musket."
"I have heard something of the affair already," returned Lionel,
"and was grieved to find the men justifying some of their own brutal
conduct last night, by the example of their commander."
"Mum—'tis a delicate matter—well, that tar has brought the
Colonel into particularly bad odour in Boston, especially among the
women, in whose good graces we are all of us lower than I have ever
known scarlet coats to stand before. Why, Leo, the Mohairs are
altogether the better men, here! But there is not an officer in the
whole army who has made more friends in the place than your humble
servant. I have availed myself of my popularity, which just now is no
trifling thing, and partly by promises, and partly by secret
interest, I have the company; to which you know my rank in the
regiment gives me an undoubted title."
"A perfectly satisfactory explanation; a most commendable ambition
on your part, and a certain symptom that the peace is not to be
disturbed; for Gage would never permit such an arrangement, had he
any active operations in his eye."
"Why, there I think you are more than half right; these yankees
have been talking, and resolving, and approbating their resolves, as
they call it, these ten years past, and what does it all amount to?
To be sure, things grow worse and worse every day—but Jonathan is an
enigma to me. Now you know when we were in the cavalry together—God
forgive me the suicide I committed in exchanging into the foot, which
I never should have done, could I have found in all England such a
thing as an easy goer, or a safe leaper— but then, if the commons
took offence at a new tax, or a stagnation in business, why they got
together in mobs, and burnt a house or two, frightened a magistrate,
and perhaps hustled a constable; then in we came at a hand gallop, you
know, flourished our swords, and scattered the ragged devils to the
four winds; when the courts did the rest, leaving us a cheap victory
at the expense of a little wind, which was amply compensated by an
increased appetite for dinner. But here it is altogether a different
sort of thing."
"And what are the most alarming symptoms, just now, in the
colonies?" asked major Lincoln, with a sensible interest in the
"They refuse their natural aliment to uphold what they call their
principles; the women abjure tea, and the men abandon their fisheries!
There has been hardly such a thing as even a wild-duck brought into
the market this spring, in consequence of the Port-Bill, and yet they
grow more stubborn every day. If it should come to blows, however,
thank God we are strong enough to open a passage for ourselves to any
part of the continent where provisions may be plentier; and I hear
more troops are already on the way."
"If it should come to blows, which heaven forbid," said major
Lincoln, "we shall be besieged where we now are."
"Besieged!" exclaimed Polwarth, in evident alarm; "if I thought
there was the least prospect of such a calamity I would sell out
to-morrow. It is bad enough now; our mess-table is never decently
covered, but if there should come a siege 'twould be absolute
starvation.—No, no, Leo, their minute men, and their long-tailed
rabble, would hardly think of besieging four thousand British
soldiers with a fleet to back them. Four thousand! If the regiments I
hear named are actually on the way, there will be eight thousand of
us—as good men as ever wore—"
"Light-infantry jackets," interrupted Lionel. "But the regiments
are certainly coming; Clinton, Burgoyne, and Howe, had an audience to
take leave, on the same day with myself. The service is exceedingly
popular with the king, and our reception, of course, was most
gracious; though I thought the eye of royalty looked on me as if it
remembered one or two of my juvenile votes in the house, on the
subject of these unhappy dissensions."
"You voted against the Port-Bill," said Polwarth, "out of regard to
"No, there I joined the ministry. The conduct of the people of
Boston had provoked the measure, and there were hardly two minds in
parliament on that question."
"Ah! major Lincoln, you are a happy man," said the captain; "a seat
in Parliament at five-and-twenty! I must think that I should prefer
just such an occupation to all others—the very name is taking; a
seat! you have two members for your borough: who fills the second now?
"Say nothing on that subject, I entreat you," whispered Lionel,
pressing the arm of the other, as he rose; "'tis not filled by him who
should occupy it, as you know—shall we descend to the common? there
are many friends that I could wish to see before the bell calls us to
"Yes, this is a church-going, or rather meeting-going place; for
most of the good people forswear the use of the word church as we
abjure the supremacy of the Pope," returned Polwarth, following in
his companion's foot-steps; "I never think of attending any of their
schism-shops, for I would any day rather stand sentinel over a
baggage-wagon, than stand up to hear one of their prayers. I can do
very well at the king's chapel, as they call it; for when I am once
comfortably fixed on my knees, I make out as well as my lord
archbishop of Canterbury; though it has always been matter of surprise
to me, how any man can find breath to go through their work of a
They descended the hill, as Lionel replied, and their forms were
soon blended with those of twenty others who wore scarlet coats, on
"For us, and for our tragedy,
"Here stooping to your clemency,
"We beg your hearing patiently."
We must, now, carry the reader back a century, in order to clear
our tale of every appearance of ambiguity. Reginald Lincoln was a
cadet of an extremely ancient and wealthy family, whose possessions
were suffered to continue as appendages to a baronetcy, throughout all
the changes which marked the eventful periods of the commonwealth,
and the usurpation of Cromwell. He had himself, however, inherited
little more than a morbid sensibility, which, even in that age,
appeared to be a sort of heir-loom to his family. While still a young
man he had married a woman to whom he was much attached, who died in
giving birth to her first child. The grief of the husband took a
direction towards religion; but unhappily, instead of deriving from
his researches that healing consolation, with which our faith
abounds, his mind became soured by the prevalent but discordant views
of the attributes of the Deity; and the result of his conversion was
to leave him an ascetick puritan, and an obstinate predestinarian.
That such a man, finding but litde to connect him with his native
country, should revolt at the impure practices of the Court of
Charles, is not surprising; and accordingly, though not at all
implicated in the guilt of the regicides, he departed for the
religious province of Massachusetts-Bay, in the first years of the
reign of that merry prince.
It was not difficult for a man of the rank and reputed sanctity of
Reginald Lincoln, to obtain both honourable and lucrative employments
in the plantations; and after the first glow of his awakened ardour
in behalf of spiritual matters had a little abated, he failed not to
improve a due portion of his time by a commendable attention to
temporal things. To the day of his death, however, he continued a
gloomy, austere, and bigoted religionist, seemingly too regardless of
the vanities of this world to permit his pure imagination to mingle
with its dross, even while he submitted to discharge its visible
duties. Notwithstanding this elevation of mind, his son, at the
decease of his father, found himself in the possession of many goodly
effects; which were, questionless, the accumulations of a neglected
use, during the days of his sublimated progenitor.
Young Lionel so far followed in the steps of his worthy parent, as
to continue gathering honours and riches into his lap; though, owing
to an early disappointment, and the inheritance of the `heir-loom'
already mentioned, it was late in life before he found a partner to
share his happiness. Contrary to all the usual calculations that are
made on the choice of a man of self-denial, he was then united to a
youthful and gay Episcopalian, who had little, besides her exquisite
beauty and good blood, to recommend her. By this lady he had four
children, three sons and a daughter, when he also was laid in the
vault, by the side of his deceased parent. The eldest of these sons
was yet a boy when he was called to the mother-country, to inherit
the estates and honours of his family. The second, named Reginald, who
was bred to arms, married, had a son, and lost his life in the wilds
where he was required to serve, before he was five-and-twenty. The
third was the grandfather of Agnes Danforth; and the daughter was
The family of Lincoln, considering the shortness of their
marriages, had been extremely prolific, while in the colonies,
according to that wise allotment of providence, which ever seems to
regulate the functions of our nature by our wants; but the instant it
was reconveyed to the populous island of Britain, it entirely lost its
reputation for fruitfulness. Sir Lionel lived to a good age, married,
but died childless, notwithstanding when his body lay in state, it
was under a splendid roof, and in halls so capacious that they would
have afforded comfortable shelter to the whole family of Priam.
By this fatality it became necessary to cross the Atlantic once
more, to find an heir to the wide domains of Ravenscliffe, and to one
of the oldest baronetcies in the kingdom.
We have planted and reared this genealogical tree, to but little
purpose, if it be necessary to tell the reader, that the individual
who had now become the head of his race, was the orphan son of the
deceased officer. He was married, and the father of one blooming boy,
when this elevation, which was not unlooked for, occurred. Leaving
his wife and child behind him, Sir Lionel immediately proceeded to
England, to assert his rights and secure his possessions. As he was
the nephew, and acknowledged heir of the late incumbent, he met with
no opposition to the more important parts of his claims. Across the
character and fortunes of this gentleman, however, a dark cloud had
early passed, which prevented the common eye from reading the events
of his life, like those of other men, in its open and intelligible
movements. After his accession to fortune and rank, but little was
known of him, even by his earliest and most intimate associates. It
was rumoured, it is true, that he had been detained in England, for
two years, by a vexatious contention for a petty appendage to his
large estates, a controversy which was, however, known to have been
decided in his favour, before he was recalled to Boston by the sudden
death of his wife. This calamity befell him during the period when
the war of '56 was raging in its greatest violence: a time when the
energies of the colonies were directed to the assistance of the
mother-country, who, according to the language of the day, was
zealously endeavouring to defeat the ambitious views of the French, in
this hemisphere; or, what amounted to the same thing in effect, in
struggling to advance her own.
It was an interesting period; when the mild and peaceful colonists
were seen to shake off their habits of forbearance, and to enter into
the strife with an alacrity and spirit that soon emulated the utmost
daring of their more practised confederates. To the amazement of all
who knew his fortunes, Sir Lionel Lincoln was seen to embark in many
of the most desperate adventures that distinguished the war, with a
hardihood that rather sought death than courted honour. He had been,
like his father, trained to arms, but the regiment in which he held
the commission of Lieutenant Colonel, was serving his master in the
most eastern of his dominions, while the uneasy soldier was thus
rushing from point to point, hazarding his life, and more than once
shedding his blood, in the enterprises that signalized the war in his
This dangerous career, however, was at length suddenly and
mysteriously checked. By the influence of some powerful agency, that
was never explained, the Baronet was induced to take his son, and
embark once more for the land of their fathers, from which the former
had never been known to return. For many years, all those inquiries
which the laudable curiosity of the towns-men and towns-women of Mrs.
Lechmere, prompted them to make, concerning the fate of her nephew,
(and we leave each of our readers to determine their numbers,) were
answered by that lady with the most courteous reserve; and sometimes
with such exhibitions of emotion, as we have already attempted to
describe in her first interview with his son. But constand dropping
will wear away a stone. At first there were rumours that the Baronet
had committed treason, and had been compelled to exchange Ravenscliffe
for a less comfortable dwelling in the Tower of London. This report
was succeeded by that of an unfortunate private marriage with one of
the Princesses of the House of Brunswick; but a reference to the
calendars of the day, showed that there was no lady of a suitable age
disengaged, and this amour, so creditable to the provinces, was
necessarily abandoned. Finally, the assertion was made with much more
of the confidence of truth, that the unhappy Sir Lionel was the tenant
of a private mad-house.
The instant this rumour was circulated, a film fell from every eye,
and none were so blind as not to have seen indications of insanity in
the Baronet long before; and not a few were enabled to trace his
legitimate right to lunacy through the hereditary bias of his race. To
account for its sudden exhibition, was a more difficult task, and
exercised the ingenuity of an exceedingly ingenious people, for a
The more sentimental part of the community, such as the maidens and
bachelors, and those votaries of Hymen who had twice and thrice
proved the solacing power of the god, did not fail to ascribe the
misfortune of the Baronet to the unhappy loss of his wife; a lady to
whom he was known to be most passionately attached. A few, the
relicts of the good old school, under whose intellectual sway the
incarnate persons of so many godless dealers in necromancy had been
made to expiate for their abominations, pointed to the calamity as a
merited punishment on the backslidings of a family that had once known
the true faith; while a third, and by no means a small class,
composed of those worthies who braved the elements in King-street, in
quest of filthy lucre, did not hesitate to say, that the sudden
acquisition of vast wealth had driven many a better man mad. But the
time was approaching, when the apparently irresistible propensity to
speculate on the fortunes of a fellow-creature was made to yield to
more important considerations. The hour soon arrived when the merchant
forgot his momentary interests to look keenly into the distant effects
that were to succeed the movements of the day; which taught the
fanatic the wholesome lesson, that providence smiled most beneficently
on those who most merited, by their own efforts, its favours; and
which even purged the breast of the sentimentalist of its sickly
tenant, to be succeeded by the healthy and ennobling passion of love
It was about this period that the contest for principle between the
parliament of Great Britain, and the colonies of North America,
commenced, that in time led to those important results which have
established a new era in political liberty, as well as a mighty
empire. A brief glance at the nature of this controversy may assist in
rendering many of the allusions in this legend more intelligible to
some of its readers.
The increasing wealth of the provinces had attracted the notice of
the English ministry so early as the year 1763. In that year the first
effort to raise a revenue which was to meet the exigencies of the
empire, was attempted by the passage of a law to impose a duty on
certain stamped paper, which was made necessary to give validity to
contracts. This method of raising a revenue was not new in itself,
nor was the imposition heavy in amount. But the Americans, not less
sagacious than wary, perceived at a glance the importance of the
principles involved in the admission of a right as belonging to any
body to lay taxes, in which they were not represented. The question
was not without its difficulties, but the direct and plain argument
was clearly on the side of the colonists. Aware of the force of their
reasons, and perhaps a little conscious of the strength of their
numbers, they approached the subject with a spirit which betokened
this consciousness, but with a coolness that denoted the firmness of
their purpose. After a struggle of nearly two years, during which the
law was rendered completely profitless by the unanimity among the
people, as well as by a species of good-humoured violence that
rendered it exceedingly inconvenient, and perhaps a little dangerous,
to the servants of the crown to exercise their obnoxious functions,
the ministry abandoned the measure. But, at the same time that the
law was repealed, the parliament maintained its right to bind the
colonies in all cases whatsoever, by recording a resolution to that
effect in its journals.
That an empire, whose several parts were separated by oceans, and
whose interests were so often conflicting, should become unwieldy, and
fall, in time, by its own weight, was an event that all wise men must
have expected to arrive. But, that the Americans did not contemplate
such a division at that early day, may be fairly inferred, if there
were no other testimony in the matter, by the quiet and submission
that pervaded the colonies the instant that the repeal of the stamp
act was known. Had any desire for premature independence existed, the
parliament had unwisely furnished abundant fuel to feed the flame, in
the very resolution already mentioned. But, satisfied with the solid
advantages they had secured, peaceful in their habits, and loyal in
their feelings, the colonists laughed at the empty dignity of their
self-constituted rulers, while they congratulated each other on their
own more substantial success. If the besotted servants of the king had
learned wisdom by the past, the storm would have blown over, and
another age would have witnessed the events which we are about to
relate. Things were hardly suffered, however, to return to their old
channels again, before the ministry attempted to revive their claims
by new impositions. The design to raise a revenue had been defeated in
the case of the stamp act, by the refusal of the colonists to use the
paper; but in the present instance, expedients were adopted, which, it
was thought, would be more effective—as in the case of tea, where
the duty was paid by the East-India Company in the first instance, and
the exaction was to be made on the Americans, through their appetites.
These new innovations on their rights, were met by the colonists with
the same promptitude, but with much more of seriousness than in the
former instances. All the provinces south of the Great Lakes, acted
in concert on this occasion; and preparations were made to render not
only their remonstrances and petitions more impressive by a unity of
action, but their more serious struggles also, should an appeal to
force become necessary. The tea was stored or sent back to England, in
most cases, though in the town of Boston, a concurrence of
circumstances led to the violent measure, on the part of the people,
of throwing a large quantity of the offensive article into the sea. To
punish this act, which took place in the early part of 1774, the port
of Boston was closed, and different laws were enacted in parliament,
which were intended to bring the people back to a sense of their
dependence on the British power.
Although the complaints of the colonists were hushed during the
short interval that had succeeded the suspension of the efforts of the
ministry to tax them, the feelings of alienation which were engendered
by the attempt, had not time to be lost before the obnoxious subject
was revived in its new shape. From 1763, to the period of our tale,
all the younger part of the population of the provinces had grown into
manhood, but they were no longer imbued with that profound respect for
the mother country which had been transmitted from their ancestors,
or with that deep loyalty to the crown that usually characterizes a
people who view the pageant of royalty through the medium of
distance. Still, those who guided the feelings, and controlled the
judgments of the Americans, were averse to a dismemberment of the
empire, a measure which they continued to believe both impolitic and
In the mean time, though equally reluctant to shed blood, the
adverse parties prepared for that final struggle which seemed to be
unavoidably approaching. The situation of the colonies was now so
peculiar, that it may be doubted whether history furnishes a precise
parallel. Their fealty to the prince was everywhere acknowledged,
while the laws which emanated from his counsellors were sullenly
disregarded and set at naught. Each province possessed its distinct
government, and in most of them the political influence of the crown
was direct and great; but the time had arrived when it was superseded
by a moral feeling that defied the machinations and intrigues of the
ministry. Such of the provincial legislatures as possessed a majority
of the "Sons of Liberty," as they who resisted the unconstitutional
attempts of the ministry were termed, elected delegates to meet in a
general congress to consult on the ways and means of effecting the
common objects. In one or two provinces where the inequality of
representation afforded a different result, the people supplied the
deficiencies by acting in their original capacity. This body, meeting,
unlike conspirators, with the fearless confidence of integrity, and
acting under the excitement of a revolution in sentiment, possessed
an influence, which, at a later day, has been denied to their more
legally constituted successors. Their recommendations possessed all
the validity of laws, without incurring their odium. While, as the
organ of their fellow-subjects, they still continued to petition and
remonstrate, they did not forget to oppose, by such means as were then
thought expedient, the oppressive measures of the ministry.
An association was recommended to the people, for those purposes
that are amply expressed in the three divisions which were
significantly given to the subjects, in calling them by the several
names of `non-importation,' `non-exportation, ' and `non-consumption
resolutions.' These negative expedients were all that was
constitutionally in their power, and throughout the whole
controversy, there had been a guarded care not to exceed the limits
which the laws had affixed to the rights of the subject. Though no
overt act of resistance was committed, they did not, however, neglect
such means as were attainable, to be prepared for the last evil,
whenever it should arrive. In this manner a feeling of resentment and
disaffection was daily increasing throughout the provinces, while in
Massachusetts Bay, the more immediate scene of our story, the
disorder in the body politic seemed to be inevitably gathering to its
The great principles of the controversy had been blended, in
different places, with various causes of local complaint, and in none
more than in the town of Boston. The inhabitants of this place had
been distinguished for an early, open, and fearless resistance to the
ministry. An armed force had long been thought necessary to intimidate
this spirit, to effect which the troops were drawn from different
parts of the provinces, and concentrated in this devoted town. Early
in 1774, a military man was placed in the executive chair of the
province, and an attitude of more determination was assumed by the
government. One of the first acts of this gentleman, who held the high
station of Lieutenant-General, and who commanded all the forces of
the king in America, was to dissolve the colonial assembly. About the
same time a new charter was sent from England, and a material change
was contemplated in the polity of the colonial government. From this
moment the power of the king, though it was not denied, became
suspended in the province. A provincial congress was elected, and
assembled within seven leagues of the capital, where they continued,
from time to time, to adopt such measures as the exigencies of the
times were thought to render necessary. Men were enrolled,
disciplined, and armed, as well as the imperfect means of the colony
would allow. These troops, who were no more than the élite of the
inhabitants, had little else to recommend them besides their spirit,
and their manual dexterity with fire-arms. From the expected nature of
their service, they were not unaptly termed "minute-men." The
munitions of war were seized, and hoarded with a care and diligence
that showed the character of the impending conflict.
On the other hand, General Gage adopted a similar course of
preparation and prevention, by fortifying himself in the strong hold
which he possessed, and by anticipating the intentions of the
colonists, in their attempts to form magazines, whenever it was in his
power. He had an easy task in the former, both from the natural
situation of the place he occupied, and the species of force he
Surrounded by broad and chiefly by deep waters, except at one
extremely narrow point, and possessing its triple hills, which are not
commanded by any adjacent eminences, the peninsula of Boston could,
with a competent garrison, easily be made impregnable, especially
when aided by a superior fleet. The works erected by the English
General were, however, by no means of magnitude, for it was well known
that the whole park of the colonists could not exceed some half dozen
pieces of field artillery, with a small battering train that must be
entirely composed of old and cumbrous ship guns. Consequently, when
Lionel arrived in Boston, he found a few batteries thrown up on the
eminences, some of which were intended as much to control the town,
as to repel an enemy from without, while lines were drawn across the
neck which communicated with the main. The garrison consisted of
something less than five thousand men, besides which, there was a
fluctuating force of seamen and marines, as the vessels of war arrived
All this time, there was no other interruption to the intercourse
between the town and the country, than such as unavoidably succeeded
the stagnation of trade, and the distrust engendered by the aspect of
affairs. Though numberless families had deserted their homes, many
known whigs continued to dwell in their habitations, where their ears
were deafened by the sounds of the British drums, and where their
spirits were but too often galled by the sneers of the officers, on
the uncouth military preparations of their countrymen. Indeed an
impression had spread further than among the idle and thoughtless
youths of the army, that the colonists were but little gifted with
martial qualities; and many of their best friends in Europe were in
dread lest an appeal to force should put the contested points forever
at rest, by proving the incompetency of the Americans to maintain them
to the last extremity.
In this manner both parties stood at bay; the people living in
perfect order and quiet, without the administration of law, sullen,
vigilant, and, through their leaders, secretly alert; and the army,
gay, haughty, and careless of the consequences, though far from being
oppressive or insolent, until after the defeat of one or two abortive
excursions into the country in quest of arms. Each hour, however, was
rapidly adding to the disaffection on one side, and to the contempt
and resentment on the other, through numberless public and private
causes, that belong rather to history than to a legend like this. All
extraordinary occupations were suspended, and men awaited the course
of things in anxious expectation. It was known that the parliament,
instead of retracing their political errors, had imposed new
restraints, and, as has been mentioned, it was also rumoured that
regiments and fleets were on their way to enforce them.
How long a country could exist in such a primeval condition,
remained to be seen, though it was difficult to say when or how it was
to terminate. The people of the land appeared to slumber, but, like
vigilant and wary soldiers, they might be said to sleep on their arms;
while the troops assumed each day, more of that fearful preparation,
which gives, even to the trained warrior, a more martial
aspect—though both parties still continued to manifest a becoming
reluctance to shed blood.
"Would he were fatter:—but I fear him not:—
"Seldom he smiles; and smiles in such a sort,
"As if he mocked himself, and scorned his spirit
"That could be moved to smile at any thing."
In the course of the succeeding week Lionel acquired a knowledge of
many minor circumstances relating to the condition of the colonies,
which may be easily imagined as incidental to the times, but which
would greatly exceed our limits to relate. He was received by his
brethren in arms with that sort of cordiality that a rich,
high-spirited, and free, if not a jovial comrade, was certain of
meeting among men who lived chiefly for pleasure and appearance.
Certain indications of more than usually important movements were
discovered among the troops, the first day of the week, and his own
condition in the army was in some measure affected by the changes.
Instead of joining his particular regiment, he was ordered to hold
himself in readiness to take a command in the light corps which had
begun its drill for the service that was peculiar to such troops. As
it was well known that Boston was Major Lincoln's place of nativity,
the commander-in-chief, with the indulgence and kindness of his
character, granted to him, however, a short respite from duty, in
order that he might indulge in the feelings natural to his situation.
It was soon generally understood, that major Lincoln, though intending
to serve with the army in America, should the sad alternative of an
appeal to arms become necessary, had permission to amuse himself in
such a manner as he saw fit, for two months from the date of his
arrival. Those who affected to be more wise than common, saw, or
thought they saw, in this arrangement, a deep laid plan on the part of
Gage, to use the influence and address of the young provincial among
his connexions and natural friends, to draw them back to those
sentiments of loyalty which it was feared so many among them had
forgotten to entertain. But it was the characteristic of the times to
attach importance to trifling incidents, and to suspect a concealed
policy in movements which emanated only in inclination.
There was nothing, however, in the deportment, or manner of life
adopted by Lionel, to justify any of these conjectures. He continued
to dwell in the house of Mrs. Lechmere, in person, though, unwilling
to burthen the hospitality of his aunt too heavily, he had taken
lodgings in a dwelling at no great distance, where his servants
resided, and where, it was generally understood, that his visits of
ceremony and friendship were to be received. Captain Polwarth did not
fail to complain loudly of this arrangement, as paralyzing at once
all the advantages he had anticipated from enjoying the entré to the
dwelling of his mistress, in the right of his friend. But as the
establishment of Lionel was supported with much of that liberality
which was becoming in a youth of his large fortune, the exuberant
light-infantry officer found many sources of consolation in the
change, which could not have existed, had the staid Mrs. Lechmere
presided over the domestic department. Lionel and Polwarth had been
boys together at the same school, members of the same college at
Oxford, and subsequently for many years, comrades in the same corps.
Though, perhaps, no two men in their regiment were more essentially
different, in mental as well as physical constitution, yet, by that
unaccountable caprice which causes us to like our opposites, it is
certain that no two gentlemen in the service were known to be on
better terms, or to maintain a more close and unreserved intimacy. It
is unnecessary to dilate here on this singular friendship; it occurs
every day, between men still more discordant, the result of accident
and habit, and is often, as in the present instance, cemented by
unconquerable good nature in one of the parties. For this latter
qualification, captain Polwarth was eminent, if for no other. It
contributed quite as much as his science in the art of living, to the
thriving condition of the corporeal moiety of the man, and it
rendered a communion with the less material part at all times
inoffensive, if not agreeable.
On the present occasion, the captain took charge of the internal
economy of Lionel's lodgings, with a zeal which he did not even
pretend was disinterested. By the rules of the regiment he was
compelled to live nominally with the mess, where he found his talents
and his wishes fettered by divers indispensable regulations, and
economical practices, that could not be easily over-leaped; but with
Lionel, just such an opportunity offered for establishing rules of his
own, and disregarding expenditure, as he had been long pining for in
secret. Though the poor of the town were, in the absence of
employment, necessarily supported by large contributions of money,
clothing, and food, which were transmitted to their aid from the
furthermost parts of the colonies, the markets were not yet wanting in
all the necessaries of life, to those who enjoyed the means of
purchasing. With this disposition of things, therefore, he became well
content, and within the first fortnight after the arrival of Lionel,
it became known to the mess, that captain Polwarth took his dinners
regularly with his old friend, major Lincoln; though in truth the
latter was enjoying, more than half the time, the hospitality of the
respective tables of the officers of the staff.
In the mean time Lionel cultivated his acquaintance in
Tremont-street, where he still slept, with an interest and assiduity
that the awkwardness of his first interview would not have taught us
to expect. With Mrs. Lechmere, it is true, he made but little
progress in intimacy; for, equally formal, though polite, she was at
all times enshrouded in a cloud of artificial, but cold management,
that gave him little opportunity, had he possessed the desire, to
break through the reserve of her calculating temperament. With his
more youthful kinswomen, the case was, however, in a very few days,
entirely reversed. Agnes Danforth, who had nothing to conceal, began
insensibly to yield to the manliness and grace of his manner, and
before the end of the first week, she maintained the rights of the
colonists, laughed at the follies of the officers, and then
acknowledged her own prejudices, with a familiarity and good-humour
that soon made her, in her turn, a favourite with her English cousin,
as she termed Lionel. But he found the demeanor of Cecil Dynevor much
more embarrassing, if not inexplicable. For days she would be
distant, silent, and haughty, and then again, as it were by sudden
impulses, she became easy and natural; her whole soul beaming in her
speaking eyes, or her innocent and merry humour breaking through the
bounds of her restraint, and rendering not only herself, but all
around her, happy and delighted. Full many an hour did Lionel ponder
on this unaccountable difference in the manner of this young lady, at
different moments. There was a secret excitement in the very caprices
of her humours, that had a piquant interest in his eyes, and which,
aided by her exquisite form and intelligent face, gradually induced
him to become a more close observer of their waywardness, and
consequently a more assiduous attendant on her movements. In
consequence of this assiduity, the manner of Cecil grew, almost
imperceptibly, less variable, and more uniformly fascinating, while
Lionel, by some unaccountable oversight, soon forgot to note its
changes, or even to miss the excitement.
In a mixed society, where pleasure, company, and a multitude of
objects conspired to distract the attention, such alterations would be
the result of an intercourse for months, if they ever occurred; but
in a town like Boston, from which most of those with whom Cecil had
once mingled were already fled, and where, consequently, those who
remained behind, lived chiefly for themselves and by themselves, it
was no more than the obvious effect of very apparent causes. In this
manner something like good-will, if not a deeper interest in each
other, was happily effected within that memorable fortnight, which was
teeming with events vastly more important in their results than any
that can appertain to the fortunes of a single family.
The winter of 1774-5 had been as remarkable for its mildness, as
the spring was cold and lingering. Like every season in our changeable
climate, however, the chilling days of March and April were
intermingled with some, when a genial sun recalled the ideas of
summer, which, in their turn, were succeeded by others, when the
torrents of cold rain that drove before the easterly gales, would
seem to repel every advance toward a milder temperature. Many of those
stormy days occurred in the middle of April, and during their
continuance Lionel was necessarily compelled to keep himself housed.
He had retired from the parlour of Mrs. Lechmere, one evening, when
the rain was beating against the windows of the house, in nearly
horizontal lines, to complete some letters which, before dining, he
had commenced to the agent of his family, in England. On entering his
own apartment, he was startled to find the room which he had left
vacant, and which he expected to find in the same state, occupied in a
manner that he could not anticipate. The light of a strong wood fire
was blazing on the hearth, and throwing about, in playful changes, the
flickering shadows of the furniture, and magnifying each object into
some strange and fantastical figure. As he stepped within the door his
eye fell upon one of these shadows, which extended along the wall,
and bending against the cieling, exhibited the gigantic but certain
outlines of the human form. Recollecting that he had left his letters
open, and a little distrusting the discretion of Meriton, Lionel
advanced lightly, for a few feet, so far as to be able to look round
the drapery of his bed, and to his amazement, perceived that the
intruder was not his valet, but the aged stranger. The old man sat
holding in his hand the open letter which Lionel had been writing, and
continued so deeply absorbed in its contents, that the footsteps of
the other were still disregarded. A large, coarse over-coat, dripping
with water, concealed most of his person, though the white hairs that
strayed about his face, and the deep lines of his remarkable
countenance could not be mistaken.
"I was ignorant of this unexpected visit," said Lionel, advancing
quickly into the centre of the room, "or I should not have been so
tardy in returning to my apartment, where, sir, I fear you must have
found your time irksome, with nothing but that scrawl to amuse you."
The old man dropped the paper from before his features, and
betrayed, by the action, the large drops that followed each other down
his hollow cheeks, until they fell even to the floor. The haughty and
displeased look disappeared from the countenance of Lionel at this
sight, and he was on the point of speaking in a more conciliating
manner, when the stranger, whose eye had not quailed before the angry
frown it encountered, anticipated his intention.
"I comprehend you, major Lincoln," he said, calmly; "but there can
exist justifiable reasons for a greater breach of faith than this, of
which you accuse me. Accident, and not intention, has put me in
possession, here, of your most secret thoughts on a subject that has
deep interest for me. You have urged me often, during our voyage, to
make you acquainted with all that you most desire to know, to which
request, as you may remember I have ever been silent."
"You have said, sir, that you were master of a secret in which my
feelings, I will acknowledge, are deeply interested, and I have urged
you to remove my doubts by declaring the truth; but I do not
"How a desire to possess my secret, gives me a claim to inquire
into yours, you would say," interrupted the stranger; "nor does it.
But an interest in your affairs, that you cannot yet understand, and
which is vouched for by these scalding tears, the first that have
fallen in years from a fountain that I had thought dried, should, and
must satisfy you."
"It does," said Lionel, deeply affected by the melancholy tones of
his voice, "it does, it does, and I will listen to no further
explanation on the unpleasant subject. You see nothing there, I am
sure, of which a son can have reason to be ashamed."
"I see much here, Lionel Lincoln, of which a father would have
reason to be proud," returned the old man. "It was the filial love
which you have displayed in this paper which has drawn these drops
from my eyes; for he who has lived as I have done, beyond the age of
man, without knowing the love that the parent feels for its
offspring, or which the child bears to the author of its being, must
have outlived his natural sympathies, not to be conscious of his
misfortune, when chance makes him sensible of affections like these."
"You have never been a father, then?" said Lionel, drawing a chair
nigh to his aged companion, and seating himself with an air of
powerful interest that he could not control.
"Have I not told you that I am alone?" returned the old man, with a
solemn manner. After an impressive pause, he continued, though his
tones were husky and low—"I have been both husband and parent, in
my day, but 'tis so long since, that no selfish tie remains to bind me
to earth. Old age is the neighbour of death, and the chill of the
grave is to be found in its warmest breathings."
"Say not so," interrupted Lionel, "for you do injustice to your own
warm nature—you forget your zeal in behalf of what you deem these
"'Tis no more than the flickering of the dying lamp, which flares
and dazzles most, when its source of heat is nighest to extinction.
But though I may not infuse into your bosom a warmth that I do not
possess myself, I can point out the dangers with which life abounds,
and serve as a beacon, when no longer useful as a pilot. It is for
such a purpose, Major Lincoln, that I have braved the tempest of
"Has any thing occurred, which, by rendering danger pressing, can
make such an exposure necessary?"
"Look at me," said the old man earnestly— "I have seen most of
this flourishing country a wilderness; my recollection goes back into
those periods when the savage, and the beast of the forèst, contended
with our fathers for much of that soil which now supports its hundreds
of thousands in plenty; and my time is to be numbered, not by years,
but by ages. For such a being, think you there can yet be many months,
or weeks, or even days in store?"
Lionel dropped his eyes, in embarrassment, to the floor, as he
"You cannot have very many years, surely, to hope for; but with the
activity and temperance you possess, days and months confine you, I
trust, in limits much too small."
"What!" exclaimed the other, stretching forth a colourless hand, in
which even the prominent veins partook in the appearance of a general
decay of nature; "with these wasted limbs, these gray hairs, and this
sunken and sepulchral cheek, would you talk to me of years! to me, who
have not the effrontery to petition for even minutes, were they worth
the prayer—so long already has been my probation!"
"It is certainly time to think of the change, when it approaches so
"Well, then, Lionel Lincoln, old, feeble, and on the threshold of
eternity as I stand, yet am I not nearer to my grave than that country
to which you have pledged your blood is to a mighty convulsion, which
will shake her institutions to their foundations."
"I cannot admit the signs of the times to be quite so portentous as
your fears would make them," said Lionel, smiling a little proudly.
"Though the worst that is apprehended should arrive, England will
feel the shock but as the earth bears an eruption of one of its
volcanoes! But we talk in idle figures, Sir; know you any thing to
justify the apprehension of immediate danger?"
The face of the stranger lighted with a sudden and startling gleam
of intelligence, and a sarcastic smile passed across his wan features,
as he answered slowly—
"They only have cause to fear who will be the losers by the change!
A youth who casts off the trammels of his guardians is not apt to
doubt his ability to govern himself. England has held these colonies
so long in leading-strings, that she forgets her offspring is able to
"Now, Sir, you exceed even the wild projects of the most daring
among those who call themselves the `Sons of Liberty'—as if liberty
existed in any place more favoured or more nurtured than under the
blessed constitution of England! The utmost required is what they term
a redress of grievances, many of which, I must think, exist only in
"Was a stone ever known to roll upward! Let there be but one drop
of American blood spilt in anger, and its stain will become indelible."
"Unhappily, the experiment has been already tried; and yet years
have rolled by, while England keeps her footing and authority good."
"Her authority!" repeated the old man; "see you not, Major Lincoln,
in the forbearance of this people, when they felt themselves in the
wrong, the existence of the very principles that will render them
invincible and unyielding when right? But we waste our time—I came
to conduct you to a place where, with your own ears, and with your
own eyes, you may hear and see a little of that spirit which pervades
the land—You will follow?"
"Not surely in such a tempest!"
"This tempest is but a trifle to that which is about to break upon
you, unless you retrace your steps; but follow, I repeat; if a man of
my years disregards the night, ought an English soldier to hesitate!"
The pride of Lionel was touched; and remembering an engagement he
had previously made with his aged friend to accompany him to a scene
like this, he made such changes in his dress as would serve to
conceal his profession, threw on a large cloak to protect his person,
and was about to lead the way himself, when he was aroused by the
voice of the other.
"You mistake the route," he said; "this is to be a secret, and I
hope a profitable visit—none must know of your presence; and if you
are a worthy son of your honourable father, I need hardly add that my
faith is pledged for your discretion."
"The pledge will be respected, Sir," said Lionel, haughtily; "but
in order to see what you wish, we are not to remain here?"
"Follow, then, and be silent," said the old man, turning and
opening the doors which led into a little apartment lighted by one of
those smaller windows, already mentioned in describing the exterior
of the building. The passage was dark and narrow, but, observing the
warnings of his companion, Lionel succeeded in descending, in safety,
a flight of steps which formed a private communication between the
offices of the dwelling and its upper apartments. They paused an
instant at the bottom of the stairs, where the youth expressed his
amazement that a stranger should be so much more familiar with the
building than he who had for so many days made it his home.
"Have I not often told you," returned the old man, with a severity
in his voice which was even apparent in its suppressed tones, "that I
have known Boston for near an hundred years! how many edifices like
this does it contain, that I should not have noted its erection! But
follow in silence, and be prudent."
He now opened a door which conducted them through one end of the
building, into the courtyard in which it was situated. As they emerged
into the open air, Lionel perceived the figure of a man, crouching
under the walls, as if seeking a shelter from the driving rain. The
moment they appeared, this person arose, and followed as they moved
towards the street.
"Are we not watched?" said Lionel, stopping to face the unknown;
"whom have we skulking in our footsteps?"
"'Tis the boy," said the old man, for whom we must adopt the name
of Ralph, which it would appear was the usual term used by Job when
addressing his mother's guest—"'tis the boy, and he can do us no
harm. God has granted to him a knowledge between much of what is good
and that which is evil, though the mind of the child is, at times,
sadly weakened by his bodily ailings. His heart, however, is with his
country, at a moment when she needs all hearts to maintain her
The young British officer bowed his head to meet the tempest, and
smiled scornfully within the folds of his cloak, which he drew more
closely around his form, as they met the gale in the open streets of
the town. They had passed swiftly through many narrow and crooked
ways, before another word was uttered between the adventurers. Lionel
mused on the singular and indefinable interest that he took in the
movements of his companion, which could draw him at a time like this
from the shelter of Mrs. Lechmere's roof, to wander he knew not
whither, and on an errand which might even be dangerous to his person.
Still he followed, unhesitatingly, for with these passing thoughts
were blended the recollection of the many recent and interesting
communications he had held with the old man during their long and
close association in the ship; nor was he wanting in a natural
interest for all that involved the safety and happiness of the place
of his birth. He kept the form of his aged guide in his eye, as the
other moved before him, careless of the tempest which beat on his
withered frame, and he heard the heavy footsteps of Job in his rear
who had closed so near his own person as to share, in some measure, in
the shelter of his ample cloak. But no other living being seemed to
have ventured abroad; and even the few sentinels they passed, instead
of pacing in front of those doors which it was their duty to guard,
were concealed behind the angles of walls, or sought shelter under
the projections of some favouring roof. At moments the wind rushed
into the narrow avenues of the streets, along which it swept, with a
noise not unlike the hollow roaring of the sea, and with a violence
which was nearly irresistible. At such times Lionel was compelled to
pause, and even frequently to recede a little from his path, while
his guide, supported by his high purpose, and but little obstructed by
his garments, seemed, to the bewildered imagination of his follower,
to glide through the night with a facility that was supernatural. At
length the old man, who had got some distance ahead of his followers,
suddenly paused, and allowed Lionel to approach to his side. The
latter observed with surprise, that he had stopped before the root and
stump of a tree which had once grown on the borders of the street,
and which appeared to have been recently felled.
"Do you see this remnant of the Elm?" said Ralph, when the others
had stopped also; "their axes have succeeded in destroying the
mother-plant, but her scions are flourishing throughout a continent!"
"I do not comprehend you!" returned Lionel; "I see here nothing but
the stump of some tree; surely the ministers of the king are not
answerable that it stands no longer?"
"The ministers of the king are answerable to their master that it
has ever become what it is—but speak to the boy at your side, he
will tell you of its virtues."
Lionel turned to wards Job, and perceived, by the obscure light of
the moon, to his surprise, that the changeling stood with his head
bared to the storm, regarding the root with an extraordinary degree
"This is all a mystery to me!" he said; "what do you know about
this stump to stand in awe of, boy?"
"'Tis the root of `Liberty-tree,"' said Job, "and 'tis wicked to
pass it without making your manners!"
"And what has this tree done for liberty, that it has merited so
"What! why did you ever see a tree afore this that could write and
give notices of town meetinda's, or that could tell the people what
the king meant to do with the tea and his stamps!"
"And could this marvellous tree work such miracles?"
"To be sure it could, and it did too—you let stingy Tommy think
to get above the people with any of his cunning over night, and you
might come here next morning and read a warning on the bark of this
tree, that would tell all about it, and how to put down his
deviltries, written out fair, in a hand as good as master Lowell
himself could put on paper, the best day of his grand scholarship."
"And who put the paper there?"
"Who!" exclaimed Job, a little positively; "why Liberty came in the
night, and pasted it up herself. When Nab couldn't get a house to
live in, Job used to sleep under the tree, sometimes, and many a
night has he seen Liberty with his own eyes come and put up the paper."
"And was it a woman?"
"Do you think Liberty was such a fool as to come every time in
woman's clothes, to be followed by the rake-helly soldiers about the
streets!" said Job, with great contempt in his manner. "Sometimes she
did, though, and sometimes she didn't; just as it happened. And Job
was in the tree when old Noll had to give up his ungodly stamps;
though he didn't do it till the `Sons of Liberty' had chucked his
stamp-shop in the dock, and hung him and Lord Boot together, on the
branches of the old Elm!"
"Hung!" said Lionel, unconsciously drawing back from the spot; "was
it ever a gallows!"
"Yes, for iffigies," said Job, laughing; "I wish you could have
been here to see how the old boot, with Satan sticking out on't,
whirled about when they swung it off! they give the old boy a big
shoe to put his cloven huff in!"
"Lionel, who was familiar with the peculiar sound that his townsmen
gave to the letter u, now comprehended the allusion to the Earl
of Bute, and beginning to understand more clearly the nature of the
transactions, and the uses to which that memorable tree had been
applied, he expressed his desire to proceed.
The old man had suffered Job to make his own explanations, though
not without a curious interest in the effect they would produce on
Lionel; but the instant the request was made to advance, he turned,
and once more led the way. Their course was now directed more towards
the wharves; nor was it long before their conductor turned into a
narrow court, and entered a house of rather mean appearance, without
even observing the formality of announcing his visit by the ordinary
summons of rapping at its door. A long, narrow, and dimly-lighted
passage, conducted them to a spacious apartment far in the court,
which appeared to have been fitted as a place for the reception of
large assemblages of people. In this room were collected at least a
hundred men, seemingly intent on some object of more than usual
interest, by the gravity and seriousness of demeanor apparent in
As it was Sunday, the first impression of Lionel, on entering the
room, was that his old friend, who often betrayed a keen sensibility
on subjects of religion, had brought him there with a design to
listen to some favourite exhorter of his own peculiar tenets, and as
a tacit reproach for a neglect of the usual ordinances of that holy
day, of which the conscience of the young man suddenly accused him,
on finding himself unexpectedly mingled in such a throng. But after he
had forced his person among a dense body of men, who stood at the
lower end of the apartment, and became a silent observer of the scene,
he was soon made to perceive his error. The weather had induced all
present to appear in such garments as were best adapted to protect
them from its fury; and their exteriors were rough, and perhaps a
little forbidding; but there was a composure and decency in the air
common to the whole assembly, which denoted that they were men who
possessed in a high degree the commanding quality of self-respect. A
very few minutes sufficed to teach Lionel that he was in the midst of
a meeting collected to discuss questions connected with the political
movements of the times, though he felt himself a little at a loss to
discover the precise results it was intended to produce. To every
question, there were one or two speakers, men who expressed their
ideas in a familiar manner, and with the peculiar tones and
pronunciation of the province, that left no room to believe them to be
orators of a higher character than the mechanics and tradesmen of the
town. Most, if not all of them, wore an air of deliberation and
coldness that would have rendered their sincerity in the cause they
had apparently espoused, a little equivocal, but for occasional
expressions of coarse, and sometimes biting invective that they
expended on the ministers of the crown, and for the perfect and firm
unanimity that was manifested, as each expression of the common
feeling was taken after the manner of deliberative bodies. Certain
resolutions, in which the most respectful remonstrances were
singularly blended with the boldest assertions of constitutional
principles, were read, and passed without a dissenting voice, though
with a calmness that indicated no very strong excitement. Lionel was
peculiarly struck with the language of these written opinions, which
were expressed with a purity, and sometimes with an elegance of
style, which plainly showed that the acquaintance of the sober artisan
with the instrument through whose periods he was blundering, was
quite recent, and far from being very intimate. The eyes of the young
soldier wandered from face to face, with a strong desire to detect
the secret movers of the scene he was witnessing; nor was he long
without selecting one individual as an object peculiarly deserving of
his suspicions. It was a man apparently but just entering into middle
age, of an appearance, both in person, and in such parts of his dress
as escaped from beneath his over-coat, that denoted him to be of a
class altogether superior to the mass of the assembly. A deep but
manly respect was evidently paid to this gentleman, by those who stood
nearest to his person; and once or twice there were close and earnest
communications passing between him and the more ostensible leaders of
the meeting, which roused the suspicions of Lionel in the manner
related. Notwithstanding the secret dislike that the English officer
suddenly conceived against a man that he fancied was thus abusing his
powers, by urging others to acts of insubordination, he could not
conceal from himself the favourable impression made by the open,
fearless, and engaging countenance of the stranger. Lionel was so
situated as to be able to keep his person, which was partly concealed
by the taller forms that surrounded him, in constant view; nor was it
long before his earnest and curious gaze caught the attention of the
other. Glances of marked meaning were exchanged between them during
the remainder of the evening, until the chairman announced that the
objects of the convocation were accomplished, and dissolved the
Lionel raised himself from his reclining attitude against the wall,
and submitted to be carried by the current of human bodies into the
dark passage through which he had entered the room. Here he lingered
a moment, with a view to recover his lost companion, and with a secret
wish to scan more narrowly the proceedings of the man whose air and
manner had so long chained his attention. The crowd had sensibly
diminished before he was aware that few remained beside himself, nor
would he then have discovered that he was likely to become an object
of suspicion to those few, had not a voice at his elbow recalled his
"Does Major Lincoln meet his countrymen tonight as one who
sympathizes in their wrongs, or as the favoured and prosperous officer
of the crown?" asked the very man for whose person he had so long
been looking in vain.
"Is sympathy with the oppressed incompatible with loyalty to my
Prince?" demanded Lionel.
is not," said the stranger, in a friendly accent,
"is apparent from the conduct of many gallant Englishmen among us, who
espouse our cause—but we claim Major Lincoln as a countryman."
"Perhaps, sir, it would be indiscreet just now to disavow that
title, let my dispositions be as they may," returned Lionel, smiling a
little haughtily; "this may not be as secure a spot in which to avow
one's sentiments, as the town-common, or the palace of St. James."
"Had the king been present to-night, Major Lincoln, would he have
heard a single sentence opposed to that constitution which has
declared him a member too sacred to be offended?"
"Whatever may have been the legality of your sentiments, sir, they
surely have not been expressed in language altogether fit for a royal
"It may not have been adulation, or even flattery, but it is
truth—a quality no less sacred than the rights of kings."
"This is neither a place nor an occasion, sir," said the young
soldier, quickly, "to discuss the rights of our common master; but if,
as from your manner and your language, I think not improbable, we
should meet hereafter in a higher sphere, you will not find me at a
loss to vindicate his claims."
The stranger smiled with meaning, and as he bowed before he fell
back and was lost in the darkness of the passage, he replied—
"Our fathers have often met in such society, I believe; God forbid
that their sons should ever encounter in a less friendly manner."
Lionel now finding himself alone, groped his way into the street,
where he perceived Ralph and the changeling in waiting for his
appearance. Without demanding the cause of the other's delay, the old
man proceeded by the side of his companions, with the same
indifference to the tempest as before, towards the residence of Mrs.
"You have now had some evidence of the spirit that pervades this
people," said Ralph, after a few moments of silence; "think you still
there is no danger that the volcano will explode?"
"Surely every thing I have heard and seen tonight, confirms such an
opinion," returned Lionel. "Men on the threshold of rebellion seldom
reason so closely, and with such moderation. Why, the very fuel for
the combustion, the rabble themselves, discuss their constitutional
principles, and keep under the mantle of law, as though they were a
club of learned Templars."
"Think you that the fire will burn less steadily, because what you
call the fuel has been prepared by the seasoning of time," returned
Ralph. "But this comes from sending a youth into a foreign land for
his education! The boy rates his sober and earnest countrymen on a
level with the peasants of Europe."
So much Lionel was able to comprehend, but notwithstanding the old
man muttered vehemently to himself for some time longer, it was in a
tone too indistinct for his ear to understand his meaning. When they
arrived in a part of the town with which Lionel was familiar, his aged
guide pointed out his way, and took his leave, saying—
"I see that nothing but the last, and dreadful argument of force,
will convince you of the purpose of the Americans to resist their
oppressors. God avert the evil hour! but when it shall come, as come
it must, you will learn your error, young man, and, I trust, will not
disregard the natural ties of country and kindred."
Lionel would have spoken in reply, but the rapid steps of Ralph
rendered his wishes vain, for before he had time to utter, his
emaciated form was seen gliding, like an immaterial being, through
the sheets of driving rain, and was soon lost to the eye, as it
vanished in the dim shades of night, followed by the more substantial
frame of the ideot.
"Sergeant, you shall. Thus are poor servitors,
"When others sleep upon their quiet beds,
"Constrained to watch in darkness, rain, and cold."
King Henry VI
Two or three days of fine, balmy, spring weather succeeded to the
storm, during which Lionel saw no more of his aged fellow-voyager.
Job, however, attached himself to the British soldier with a
confiding helplessness that touched the heart of his young protector,
who gathered from the circumstance a just opinion of the nature of
the abuses that the unfortunate changeling was frequently compelled to
endure from the brutal soldiery. Meriton performed the functions of
master of the wardrobe to the lad, by Lionel's express commands, with
evident disgust, but with manifest advantage to the external
appearance, if with no very sensible evidence of additional comfort
to his charge. During this short period, the slight impression made on
Lionel by the scene related in the preceding chapter, faded before
the cheerful changes of the season, and the increasing interest which
he felt in the society of his youthful kinswomen. Polwarth relieved
him from all cares of a domestic nature, and the peculiar shade of
sadness, which at times had been so very perceptible in his
countenance, was changed to a look of a more brightening and cheerful
character. Polwarth and Lionel had found an officer, who had formerly
served in the same regiment with them in the British Islands, in
command of a company of grenadiers, which formed part of the garrison
of Boston. This gentleman, an Irishman of the name of M'Fuse, was
qualified to do great honour to the culinary skill of the officer of
light-infantry, by virtue of a keen natural gusto for whatever
possessed the inherent properties of a savoury taste, though utterly
destitute of any of that remarkable scientific knowledge which might
be said to distinguish the other in the art. He was, in consequence
of this double claim on the notice of Lionel, a frequent guest at the
nightly banquets prepared by Polwarth. Accordingly we find him, on
the evening of the third day in the week, seated with his two friends,
around a board plentifully garnished by the care of that gentleman,
on the preparations for which, more than usual skill had been exerted,
if the repeated declarations of the disciple of Heliogabulus, to that
effect, were entitled to any ordinary credit.
"In short, Major Lincoln," said Polwarth, in continuance of his
favourite theme, while seated before the table, "a man may live any
where, provided he possesses food—in England, or out of England, it
matters not. Raiment may be necessary to appearance, but food is the
only indispensable that nature has imposed on the animal world; and
in my opinion there is a sort of obligation on every man to be
satisfied, who has wherewithal to appease the cravings of his
appetite— Captain M`Fuse, I will thank you to cut that surloin with
"What matters it Polly"—said the captain of grenadiers, with a
slight Irish accent, and with the humour of his countrymen strongly
depicted in his fine, open, manly features, "which way a bit of meat
is divided, so there be enough to allay the cravings of the appetite,
you will remember!"
"It is a collateral assistance to nature that should never be
neglected," returned Polwarth, whose gravity and seriousness at his
banquets were not easily disturbed; "it facilitates mastication and
aids digestion, two considerations of great importance to military
men, sir, who have frequently such little time for the former, and no
rest after their meals to complete the latter."
"He reasons like an army contractor, who wishes to make one ration
do the work of two, when transportation is high," said M`Fuse, winking
to Lionel. "According to your principles, then, Polly, a potato is
your true campaigner, for that is a cr'ature you may cut any way
without disturbing the grain, provided the article be a little m'aly."
"Pardon me, captain M`Fuse," said Polwarth, "a potato should be
broken, and not cut at all— there is no vegetable more used, and
less understood than the potato."
"And is it you, Pater Polwarth, of Nesbitt's light-infantry,"
interrupted the grenadier, laying down his knife and fork with an air
of infinite humour, "that will tell Dennis M`Fuse how to carve a
potato! I will yield to the right of an Englishman over the chivalry
of an ox, your sirloins, and your lady-rumps, if you please, but in
my own country, one end of every farm is a bog, and the other a
potato-field—'tis an Irishman's patrimony that you are making so
free with, sir!"
"The possession of a thing, and the knowledge how to use it, are
two very different properties—"
"Give me the property of possession, then," again interrupted the
ardent grenadier, "especially when a morsel of the green island is in
dispute; and trust an old soldier of the Royal Irish to carve his own
enjoyments. Now, I'll wager a month's pay, and that to me is as much
as if the Major should say, done for a thousand, that you can't tell
how many dishes can be made, and are made every day in Ireland, out of
so simple a thing as a potato."
"You roast and boil; and use them in stuffing tame birds,
"All old woman's cookery!" interrupted M`Fuse, with an affectation
of great contempt in his manner—"now, sir, we have them with
butter, and without butter, that counts two; then we have the fruit
"Impaled," said Lionel, laughing. "I believe this nice controversy
must be referred to Job, who is amusing himself in the corner there, I
see, with the very subject of the dispute transfixed on his fork, in
the latter condition."
"Or suppose, rather," said M`Fuse, "as it is a matter to exercise
the judgment of Solomon, we make a potato umpire of master Seth Sage,
yonder, who should have some of the wisdom of the royal Jew, by the
sagacity of his countenance, as well as of his name."
"Don't you call Seth r'yal," said Job, suspending his occupation on
the vegetable. "The king is r'yal and fla'nty, but neighbour Sage lets
Job come in and eat, like a christian."
"That lad there, is not altogether without reason, Major Lincoln,"
said Polwarth; "on the contrary, he discovers an instinctive knowledge
of good from evil, by favouring us with his company at the hour of
"The poor fellow finds but little at home to tempt him to remain
there, I fear," said Lionel; "and as he was one of the first
acquaintances I made on returning to my native land, I have desired
Mr. Sage to admit him at all proper hours; and especially, Polwarth,
at those times when he can have an opportunity of doing homage to your
"I am glad to see him," said Polwarth, "for I love an uninstructed
palate, as much as I admire naiveté in a woman.—Be so good as to
favour me with a cut from the breast of that wild-goose, M`Fuse—not
quite so far forward, if you please; your migratory birds are apt to
be tough about the wing—but simplicity in eating is, after all, the
great secret of life; that and a sufficiency of food."
"You may be right this time," replied the grenadier, laughing, "for
this fellow made one of the flankers of the flock, and did double duty
in wheeling, I believe, or I have got him against the grain too! But,
Polly, you have not told us how you improve in your light-infantry
exercises of late."
By this time Polwarth had made such progress in the essential part
of his meal, as to have recovered in some measure his usual tone of
good-nature, and he answered with less gravity—
"If Gage does not work a reformation in our habits, he will fag us
all to death. I suppose you know, Leo, that all the flank companies
are relieved from the guards to learn a new species of exercise. They
call it relieving us, but the only relief I find in the matter, is
when we lie down to fire—there is a luxurious moment or two then, I
"I have known the fact, any time these ten days, by your moanings,"
returned Lionel; "but what do you argue from this particular exercise,
captain M`Fuse? does Gage contemplate more than the customary drills?"
"You question me now, sir, on a matter in which I am uninstructed,"
said the grenadier; "I am a soldier, and obey my orders, without
pretending to inquire into their objects or merits; all I know is,
that both grenadiers and light-infantry are taken from the guards; and
that we travel over a good deal of solid earth each day, in the way
of marching and counter-marching, to the manifest discomfiture and
reduction of Polly— there, who loses flesh as fast as he gains
"Do you think so, Mac?" cried the delighted captain of
light-infantry; "then I have not all the detestable motion in vain.
They have given us little Harry Skip as a drill officer, who I believe
has the most restless foot of any man in his majesty's service. Do
you join with me in opinion, master Sage? you seem to meditate on the
subject as if it had some secret charm."
The individual to whom Polwarth addressed this question, and who
has been already named, was standing with a plate in his band, in an
attitude that bespoke close attention, with a sudden and deep
interest in the discourse, though his eyes were bent on the floor, and
his face was averted as if, while listening earnestly, he had a
particular desire to be unnoticed. He was the owner of the house in
which Lionel had taken his quarters. His family had been some time
before removed into the country, under the pretence of his inability
to maintain them in a place destitute of business and resources like
Boston; but he remained himself, for the double purpose of protecting
his property and serving his guests. This man partook, in no small
degree, of the qualities, both of person and mind, which distinguish a
large class among his countrymen. In the former he was rather over
than under the middle stature; was thin, angular, and awkward, but
possessing an unusual proportion of sinew and bone. His eyes were
small, black, scintillating, and it was not easy to fancy that the
intelligence they manifested was unmingled with a large proportion of
shrewd cunning. The rest of his countenance was meager, sallow, and
rigidly demure. Thus called upon, on a sudden, by Polwarth for an
opinion, Seth answered, with the cautious reserve with which he
invariably delivered himself—
"The adjutant is an uneasy man, but that, I suppose, is so much the
better for a light-infantry officer. Captain Polwarth must find it
considerable jading to keep the step, now the General has ordered
these new doings with the soldiers."
"And what may be your opinion of these doings, as you call them, Mr
Sage," asked M`Fuse; "you who are a man of observation, should
understand your countrymen; will they fight?"
"A rat will fight if the cats pen him," said Seth, without raising
his eyes from his occupation.
"But do the Americans conceive themselves to be penned?"
"Why, that is pretty much as people think, captain; the country was
in a great toss about the stamps and the tea, but I always said such
folks as didn't give their notes-of-hand, and had no great relish for
any thing more than country food, wouldn't find themselves cramped by
the laws, after all."
"Then you see no great oppression in being asked to pay your bit of
a tax, master Sage," cried the grenadier, "to maintain such a worthy
fellow as myself in a dacent equipage to fight your battles."
"Why, as to that captain, I suppose we can do pretty much the whole
of our own fighting, when occasion calls; though I don't think there
is much stomach for such doings among the people, without need."
"But what do you think the Committee of Safety, and your `Sons of
Liberty,' as they call themselves, really mean, by their parades of
`minute-men, ' their gathering of provisions, carrying off the
cannon, and such other formidable and appalling preparations—ha!
honest Seth, do they think to frighten British soldiers with the roll
of a drum, or are they amusing themselves, like boys in the holy
days, with playing war."
"I should conclude," said Seth, with undisturbed gravity and
caution, "that the people are pretty much engaged, and in earnest."
"To do what?" demanded the Irishman; "to forge their own chains,
that we may fetter them in truth?"
"Why, seeing that they have burnt the stamps, and thrown the tea
into the harbour," returned Seth, "and since that have taken the
management into their own hands, I should rather conclude that they
have pretty much determined to do what they think best."
Lionel and Polwarth laughed aloud, and the former observed—
"You appear not to come to conclusions with our host, captain
M`Fuse, notwithstanding so much is determined. Is it well understood,
Mr. Sage, that large reinforcements are coming to the colonies, and
to Boston in particular?"
"Why yes," returned Seth, "it seems to be pretty generally
"And what is the result of these contemplations?"
Seth paused a moment, as if uncertain whether he was master of the
other's meaning, before he replied—
"Why, as the country is considerably engaged in the business, there
are some who think if the ministers don't open the Port, that it will
be done without much further words by the people."
"Do you know," said Lionel, gravely, "that such an attempt would
lead directly to a civil war?"
"I suppose it is safe to calculate that such doings would bring on
disturbances," returned his phlegmatic host.
"And you speak of it, sir, as a thing not to be deprecated, or
averted by every possible means in the power of the nation!"
"If the Port is opened and the right to tax given up," said Seth,
calmly, "I can find a man in Boston who'll engage to let them draw all
the blood that will be spilt, from his own veins, for nothing."
"And who may that redoubtable individual be, master Sage?" cried
M`Fuse; "your own plethoric person?—How now, Doyle, to what am I
indebted for the honour of this visit?"
This sudden question was put by the captain of grenadiers to the
orderly of his own company, who at that instant filled the door of the
apartment with his huge frame, in the attitude of military respect,
as if about to address his officer.
"Orders have come down, sir, to parade the men at half an hour
after tattoo, and to be in readiness for active service."
The three gentlemen rose together from their chairs at this
intelligence, while M`Fuse, exclaimed— "A night march! Pooh! We are
to be sent back to garrison-duty I suppose; the companies in the line
grow sleepy, and wish a relief—Gage might have taken a more suitable
time, than to put gentlemen on their march so soon after such a feast
as this of yours, Polly."
"There is some deeper meaning to so extraordinary an order,"
interrupted Lionel; "there goes the tap of the tattoo, this instant!
Are no other troops but your company ordered to parade?"
"The whole battalion is under the same orders, your honour, and so
is the battalion of Light Infantry; I was commanded to report it so
to Capt. Polwarth, if I saw him."
"This bears some meaning, gentlemen," said Lionel, "and it is
necessary to be looked to—if either corps leaves the town to-night,
I will march with it as a volunteer, for it is my business, just now,
to examine into the state of the country."
"That we shall march to-night, is sure, your honour," added the
sergeant, with the confidence of an old soldier; "but how far, or on
what road, is known only to the officers of the Staff; though the men
think we are to go out by the colleges."
"And what has put so learned an opinion in their silly heads?"
demanded his captain.
"One of the men who has been on leave, has just got in, and reports
that a squad of gentlemen from the army dined near them, your honour,
and that as night set in they mounted and began to patrole the roads
in that direction. He was met and questioned by four of them as he
crossed the flats."
"All this confirms my conjectures," cried Lionel— "there is a man
who might now prove of important service—Job—where is the
"He was called out, sir, a minute since, and has left the house."
"Then send in Mr. Sage," continued the young man, musing as he
spoke. A moment after it was reported to him that Seth had strangely
"Curiosity has led him to the barracks," said Lionel, "where duty
calls you, gentlemen. I will despatch a little business, and join you
there in an hour; you cannot march short of that time."
The bustle of a general departure succeeded; Lionel threw his cloak
into the arms of Meriton, to whom he delivered his orders, took his
arms, and making his apologies to his guests, he left the house with
the manner of one who saw a pressing necessity to be prompt. M`Fuse
proceeded to equip himself with the deliberation of a soldier who was
too much practised to be easily disconcerted. Notwithstanding his
great deliberation, the delay of Polwarth, however, eventually
vanquished the patience of the grenadier, who exclaimed, on hearing
the other repeat, for the fourth time, an order concerning the
preservation of certain viands, to which he appeared to cling in
spirit, after a carnal separation was directed by fortune.
"Poh! poh! man," exclaimed the Irishman, "why will you bother
yourself on the eve of a march, with such epicurean propensities. It's
the soldier who should show your hermits and anchorites an example of
mortification; besides, Polly, this affectation of care and provision
is the less excusable in yourself, you who have been well aware that
we were to march on a secret expedition this very night on which you
seem so much troubled."
"I!" exclaimed Polwarth; "as I hope to eat another meal, I am as
ignorant as the meanest corporal in the army of the whole
transaction— why do you suspect otherwise?"
"Trifles tell the old campaigner when and where the blow is to be
struck," returned M`Fuse, coolly drawing his military over-coat
tighter to his large frame; "have I not, with my own eyes, seen you
within the hour, provision a certain captain of light-infantry after a
very heavy fashion! Damn it, man, do you think I have served these
five-and-twenty years, and do not know that when a garrison begins to
fill its granaries, it expects a siege?"
"I have paid no more than a suitable compliment to the
entertainment of Major Lincoln," returned Polwarth; "but so far from
having had any very extraordinary appetite, I have not found myself
in a condition to do all the justice I could wish to several of the
dishes.—Mr. Meriton, I will thank you to have the remainder of that
bird sent down to the barracks, where my man will receive it; and as
it may be a long march, and a hungry one, add the tongue, and a fowl,
and some of the ragout; we can warm it up at any farm-house—we'll
take the piece of beef, Mac— Leo has a particular taste for a cold
cut; and you might put up the ham, also; it will keep better than any
thing else, if we should be out long—and— and—I believe that
will do, Meriton."
"I am as much rejoiced to hear it as I should be to hear a
proclamation of war read at Charing-Cross," cried M`Fuse—"you should
have been a commissary, Polly—nature meant you for an army suttler!"
"Laugh as you will, Mac," returned the good-humoured Polwarth, "I
shall hear your thanks when we halt for breakfast; but I attend you
As they left the house, he continued, "I hope Gage means no more
than to push us a little in advance, with a view to protect the
foragers and the supplies of the army—such a situation would have
very pretty advantages; for a system might be established that would
give the mess of the light corps the choice of the whole market."
"'Tis a mighty preparation about some old iron gun, which would
cost a man his life to put a match to," returned M`Fuse, cavalierly;
"for my part, captain Polwarth, if we are to fight these colonists at
all, I would do the thing like a man, and allow the lads to gather
together a suitable arsenal, that when we come to blows it may be a
military affair—as it now stands, I should be ashamed, as I am a
soldier and an Irishman, to bid my fellows pull a trigger, or make a
charge, on a set of peasants whose fire-arms look more like rusty
waterpipes than muskets, and who have half a dozen cannon with
touch-holes that a man may put his head in, with muzzles just large
enough to throw marbles."
"I don't know, Mac," said Polwarth, while they diligently pursued
their way towards the quarters of their men; "even a marble may
destroy a man's appetite for his dinner; and the countrymen possess a
great advantage over us in commanding the supplies—the difference in
equipments would not more than balance the odds."
"I wish to disturb no gentleman's opinion on matters of military
discretion, captain Polwarth," said the grenadier with an air of high
martial pride; "but I take it there exists a material difference
between a soldier and a butcher, though killing be a business common
to both—I repeat, sir, I hope that this secret expedition is for a
more worthy object than to deprive those poor devils, with whom we
are about to fight, of the means of making a good battle, and I add,
sir, that such is sound military doctrine, without regarding who may
choose to controvert it."
"Your sentiments are generous and manly, Mac; but, after all, there
is both a physical and moral obligation on every man to eat; and if
starvation be the consequence of permitting your enemies to bear
arms, it becomes a solemn duty to deprive them of their
weapons—no—no—I will support Gage in such a measure, at present,
as highly military."
"And he is much obliged to you, sir, for your support," returned
the other—"I apprehend, captain Polwarth, whenever the
Lieutenant-General Gage finds it necessary to lean on any one for
extraordinary assistance, he will remember that there is a regiment
called the Royal Irish in the country, and that he is not entirely
ignorant of the qualities of the people of his own nation.— You
have done well, captain Polwarth, to choose the light-infantry
service—they are a set of foragers, and can help themselves; but the
grenadiers, thank God, love to encounter men, and not cattle in the
How long the good-nature of Polwarth would have endured the
increasing taunts of the Irishman, who was exasperating himself,
gradually, by his own arguments, there is no possibility of
determining, for their arrival at the barracks put an end to the
controversy and to the feelings it was beginning to engender.
"Preserve thy sighs, unthrifty girl!
"To purify the air;
"Thy tears, to thread, instead of pearl,
"On bracelets of thy hair."
Lionel might have blushed to acknowledge the secret and
inexplicable influence which his unknown and mysterious friend, Ralph,
had obtained over his feelings, but which induced him, on leaving his
own quarters thus hastily, to take his way into the lower parts of the
town, in quest of the residence of Abigail Pray. He had not visited
the sombre tenement of this woman since the night of his arrival, but
its proximity to the well-known town-hall, as well as the quaint
architecture of the building itself, had frequently brought its
exterior under his observation, in the course of his rambles through
the place of his nativity. A guide being, consequently, unnecessary,
he took the most direct and frequented route to the docksquare. When
Lionel issued into the street, he found a deep darkness already
enveloping the peninsula of Boston, as if nature had lent herself to
the secret designs of the British commandant. The fine strain of a
shrill fife was playing among the naked hills of the place,
accompanied by the occasional and measured taps of the sullen drum;
and, at moments, the full, rich notes of the horns would rise from
the common, and borne on the night-air, sweep along the narrow
streets, causing the nerves of the excited young soldier to thrill
with a stern pleasure, as he stepped proudly along. The practised
ear, however, detected no other sounds in the music than the usual
nightly signal of rest; and when the last melting strains of the horns
seemed to be lost in the clouds, a stillness fell upon the town, like
the deep and slumbering quiet of midnight. He paused a moment before
the gates of Province-house, and, after examining, with an attentive
eye, the windows of the building, he spoke to the grenadier, who had
stopped in his short walk, to note the curious stranger.
"You should have company within, sentinel," he said, "by the
brilliant light from those windows."
The rattling of Lionel's side-arms as he pointed with his hand in
the direction of the illuminated apartment, taught the soldier that he
was addressed by his superior, and he answered respectfully—
"It does not become one such as I, to pretend to know much of what
his betters do, your honour, but I stood before the quarters of
General Wolfe the very night we went up to the Plains of Abram; and I
think an old soldier can tell when a movement is at hand, without
asking his superiors any impertinent questions."
"I suppose, from your remark, the General holds a council
to-night?" said Lionel.
"No one has gone in, sir, since I have been posted," returned the
sentinel, "but the Lieutenant-Colonel of the 10th, that great
Northumbrian Lord, and the old Major of marines; a great war-dog is
that old man, your honour, and it is not often he comes to
Province-house for nothing."
"A good-night to you, my old comrade," said Lionel, walking away;
"'tis probably some consultation concerning the new exercises that you
The grenadier shook his head, as if unconvinced, and resumed his
march with his customary steadiness. A very few minutes now brought
Lionel before the low door of Abigail Pray, where he again stopped,
struck with the contrast between the gloomy, dark, and unguarded
threshold over which he was about to pass, and the gay portal he had
just left. Urged, however, by his feelings, the young man paused but a
moment before he tapped lightly for admission. After repeating his
summons, and hearing no reply, he lifted the latch, and entered the
building without further ceremony. The large and vacant apartment in
which he found himself, was silent and dreary as the still streets he
had quitted. Groping his way towards the little room in the tower,
where he had met the mother of Job, as before related, Lionel found
that apartment also tenantless, and dark. He was turning in
disappointment, to quit the place, when a feeble ray fell from the
loft of the building, and settled on the foot of a rude ladder which
formed the means of communication with its upper apartments.
Hesitating a single moment how to decide, he then yielded to his
anxiety, and ascended to the floor above, with steps as light as
extreme caution could render them. Like the basement, the building
was subdivided here, into a large, open ware-room, and a small,
rudely-finished apartment in each of its towers. Following the rays
from a candle, he stood on the threshold of one of these little rooms,
in which he found the individual of whom he was in quest. The old man
was seated on the only broken chair which the loft contained, and
before him, on the simple bundle of straw which would seem, by the
garments thrown loosely over the pile, to be intended as his place of
rest, lay a large map, spread for inspection, which his glazed and
sunken eyes appeared to be intently engaged in making. Lionel
hesitated again, while he regarded the white hairs which fell across
the temples of the stranger, as he bowed his head in his employment,
imparting a wild and melancholy expression to his remarkable
countenance, and seeming to hallow their possessor by the air of
great age and attendant care that they imparted.
"I have come to seek you," the young man at length said, "since you
no longer deem me worthy of your care."
"You come too late," returned Ralph, without betraying the least
emotion at the suddenness of the interruption, or even raising his
eyes from the map he studied so intently; "too late at least to avert
calamity, if not to learn wisdom from its lessons."
"You know, then, of the secret movements of the night?"
"Old age, like mine, seldom sleeps," returned Ralph, looking for
the first time at his visiter, "for the eternal night of death
promises a speedy repose. I too served an apprenticeship in my youth
to your trade of blood."
"Your watchfulness and experience have then detected the signs of
preparation in the garrison? Have they also discovered the objects,
and probable consequences of the enterprise?"
"Both; Gage weakly thinks to crush the germ of liberty which has
already quickened in the land, by lopping its feeble branches, when it
is rooted in the hearts of the people. He thinks that bold thoughts
can be humbled by the destruction of magazines.
"It is then only a measure of precaution that he is about to take?"
The old man shook his head mournfully as he answered—
"It will prove a measure of blood."
"I intend to accompany the detachment into the country," said
Lionel—"it will probably take post at some little distance in the
interior, and it will afford me a fitting opportunity to make those
inquiries which you know are so near my heart, and in which you have
promised to assist—it is to consult on the means that I have now
The countenance of the stranger seemed to lose its character of
melancholy reflection, as Lionel spoke, and his eyes moved, vacant and
unmeaning, over the naked rafters above him, passing in their
wanderings across the surface of the unheeded map again, until they
fell full upon the face of the astonished youth, where they remained
settled for more than a minute, fixed in the glazed, rivetted look of
death. The lips of Lionel had already opened in anxious inquiry, when
the expression of life shot again into the features of Ralph, with
the suddenness, and with an appearance of the physical reality with
which light flashes from the sun when emerging from a cloud.
"You are ill!" Lionel exclaimed.
"Leave me," said the old man, "leave me."
"Surely not at such a moment, and alone."
"I bid you leave me—we shall meet as you desire, in the country."
"You would then have me accompany the troops, and expect your
"Pardon me," said Lionel, dropping his eyes in embarrassment, and
speaking with hesitation, "but your present abode, and the appearance
of your attire, is an evidence that old age has come upon you when
you are not altogether prepared to meet its sufferings."
"You would offer me money?"
"By accepting it, I shall become the obliged party."
"When my wants exceed my means, young man, your offer shall be
remembered. Go, now; there is no time for delay."
"But I would not leave you alone; the woman, the termagant is
better than none?"
"She is absent."
"And the boy—the changeling has the feelings of humanity, and
would aid you in extremity."
"He is better employed than in propping the steps of a useless old
man.—Go then, I entreat— I command, sir, that you leave me."
The firm, if not haughty, manner in which the other repeated his
desire, taught Lionel that he had nothing more to expect at present,
and he obeyed reluctantly, by slowly leaving the apartment, and as
soon as he had descended the ladder he began to retrace his steps
towards his own quarters. In crossing the light draw-bridge thrown
over the narrow dock, already mentioned, his contemplations were
first disturbed by the sounds of voices, at no great distance,
apparently conversing in tones that were not intended to be heard by
every ear. It was a moment when each unusual incident was likely to
induce inquiry, and Lionel stopped to examine two men, who, at a
little distance, held their secret and suppressed communications. He
had, however, paused but an instant, when the whisperers separated,
one walking leisurely up the centre of the square, entering under one
of the arches of the market-place, and the other coming directly
across the bridge on which he himself was standing.
"What, Job, do I find you here, whispering and plotting in the
dock-square!" exclaimed Lionel; "what secrets can you have, that
require the cover of night?"
"Job lives there, in the old ware'us'," said the lad
sullenly—"Nab has plenty of house room, now the king wont let the
people bring in their goods."
"But whither are you going into the water! surely the road to your
bed cannot be through the town dock."
"Nab wants fish to eat, as well as a ruff to keep off the rain,"
said Job, dropping lightly from the bridge into a small canoe, which
was fastened to one of its posts, "and now the king has closed the
harbour the fish have to come up in the dark; for come they will;
Boston fish an't to be shut out by acts of Parliament!"
"Poor lad!" exclaimed Lionel, "return to your home and your bed;
here is money to buy food for your mother if she suffers—you will
draw a shot from some of the sentinels by going about the harbour
thus at night."
"Job can see a ship farther than a ship can see Job," returned the
other; "and if they should kill Job, they need'n't think to shoot a
Boston boy without some stir."
Further dialogue was precluded; the canoe gliding along the outer
dock into the harbour, with a stillness and swiftness that showed the
idiot was not ignorant of the business which he had undertaken.
Lionel resumed his walk, and was passing the head of the square when
he encountered, face to face, under the light of a lamp, the man
whose figure he had seen but a minute before to issue from beneath
the town-hall. A mutual desire to ascertain the identity of each other
drew them together.
"We meet again, Major Lincoln," said the interesting stranger
Lionel remembered to have seen at the political meeting. "Our
interviews appear ordained to occur in secret places."
"And Job Pray would seem to be the presiding spirit," returned the
young soldier. "You parted from him but now?"
"I trust, sir," said the stranger gravely, "that this is not a
land, nor have we fallen on times when and where an honest man dare
not say that he has spoken to whom he pleases."
"Certainly, sir, it is not for me to prohibit the intercourse,"
returned Lionel. "You spoke of our fathers; mine is well known to you,
it would seem, though to me you are a stranger."
"And may be so yet a little longer," said the other, "though I
think the time is at hand when men will be known in their true
characters; until then, Major Lincoln, I bid you adieu."
Without waiting for any reply, the stranger took a different
direction from that which Lionel was pursuing, and walked away with
the swiftness of one who was pressed with urgent business. Lionel
soon ascended into the upper part of the town, with the intention of
going into Tremontstreet, to communicate his design to accompany the
expedition. It was now apparent to the young man, that a rumour of the
contemplated movement of the troops was spreading secretly, but
swiftly, among the people. He passed several groups of earnest and
excited townsmen, conferring together at the corners of the streets,
from some of whom he overheard the startling intelligence that the
neck, the only approach to the place by land, was closed by a line of
sentinels; and that guard-boats from the vessels of war, were
encircling the peninsula in a manner to intercept the communication
with the adjacent country. Still no indications of a military alarm
could be discovered, though, at times, a stifled hum, like the notes
of busy preparation, was borne along by the damp breezes of the night,
and mingled with those sounds of a Spring evening, which increased as
he approached the skirts of the dwellings. In Tremont-street Lionel
found no appearance of that excitement which was spreading so rapidly
in the old and lower parts of the town. He passed into his own room
without meeting any of the family, and having completed his brief
arrangements, he was descending to inquire for his kinswomen, when
the voice of Mrs. Lechmere, proceeding from a small apartment,
appropriated to her own use, arrested his steps. Anxious to take leave
in person, he approached the half-open door, and would have asked
permission to enter, had not his eye rested on the person of Abigail
Pray, who was in earnest conference with the mistress of the mansion.
"A man aged, and poor, say you?" observed Mrs. Lechmere, at that
"And one that seems to know all," interrupted Abigail, glancing her
eyes about with an expression of superstitious terror.
"All!" echoed Mrs. Lechmere, her lip trembling more with
apprehension than age; "and he arrived with Major Lincoln, say you?"
"In the same ship; and it seems that heaven has ordained that he
shall dwell with me in my poverty, as a punishment for my great sins!"
"But why do you tolerate his presence, if it be irksome," said Mrs.
Lechmere; "you are at least the mistress of your own dwelling."
"It has pleased God that my home shall be the home of any who are
so miserable as to need one. He has the same right to live in the
warehouse that I have."
"You have the rights of a woman, and of first possession," said
Mrs. Lechmere, with that unyielding severity of manner that Lionel had
often observed before; "I would turn him into the street, like a dog."
"Into the street!" repeated Abigail, again looking about her in
secret terror; "speak lower, madam Lechmere, for the love of
heaven—I dare not even look at him—he reminds me of all I have
ever known, and of all the evil I have ever done, by his scorching
eye—and yet I cannot tell why—and then Job worships him as a god,
and if I should offend him, he could easily worm from the child all
that you and I wish so much—"
"How!" exclaimed Mrs. Lechmere, in a voice husky with horror, "have
you been so base as to make a confident of that fool!"
"That fool is the child of my bosom," said Abigail, raising her
hands, as if imploring pardon for the indiscretion.—"Ah! madam
Lechmere, you who are rich, and great, and happy, and have such a
sweet and sensible grandchild, cannot know how to love one like Job;
but when the heart is loaded and heavy, it throws its burden on any
that will bear it; and Job is my child, though he is but little better
than an ideot!"
It was by no trifling exertion of his breeding that Lionel was
enabled to profit by the inability of Mrs. Lechmere to reply, and to
turn away from the spot, and cease to listen to a conversation that
was not intended for his ear. He reached the parlour, and threw
himself on one of its settees before he was conscious that he was no
longer alone or unobserved.
"What! Major Lincoln returned from his revels thus early, and armed
like a bandit, to his teeth!" exclaimed the playful voice of Cecil
Dynevor, who, unheeded, was in possession of the opposite seat, when
he entered the room.
Lionel started, and rubbed his forehead, like a man awaking from a
dream, as he answered—
"Yes, a bandit, or any other opprobrious name you please; I deserve
"Surely," said Cecil, turning pale, "none other dare use such
language of Major Lincoln, and he does it unjustly!"
"What foolish nonsense have I uttered, Miss Dynevor?" cried Lionel,
recovering his recollection; "I was lost in thought, and heard your
language without comprehending its meaning."
"Still you are armed; a sword is not a usual instrument at your
side, and now you bear even pistols!"
"Yes," returned the young soldier, laying aside his dangerous
implements; "yes, I am about to march as a volunteer, with a party
that go into the country to-night, and I take these because I would
affect something very warlike, though you well know how peaceably I am
"March into the country—and in the dead of night!" said Cecil,
catching her breath, and turning pale—"And does Lionel Lincoln
volunteer on such a duty?"
"I volunteer to perform no other duty than to be a witness of
whatever may occur—you are not more ignorant yourself of the nature
of the expedition than I am at this moment."
"Then remain where you are," said Cecil, firmly, "and enlist not in
an enterprise that may be unholy in its purposes, and disgraceful in
"Of the former I am innocent, whatever they may be, nor will they
be affected by my presence or absence. There is little danger of
disgrace in accompanying the grenadiers and light-infantry of this
army, Miss Dynevor, though it should be against treble their numbers
of chosen troops."
"Then it would seem," said Agnes Danforth, speaking as she entered
the room, "that our friend Mercury, that feather of a man, captain
Polwarth, is to be one of these night depredators! heaven shield the
"You have then heard the intelligence, Agnes?"
"I have heard that men are arming, and that boats are rowing round
the town in all directions, and that it is forbidden to enter or quit
Boston, as we were wont to do, Cecil, at such hours and in such
fashion as suited us plain Americans," said Agnes, endeavouring to
conceal her deep vexation in affected irony—"God only can tell in
what all these oppressive measures will end."
"If you go only as a curious spectator of the depredations of the
troops," continued Cecil, "are you not wrong to lend them even the
sanction of your name?"
"I have yet to learn that there will be depredations."
"You forget, Cecil," interrupted Agnes Danforth, scornfully, "that
Major Lincoln did not arrive until after the renowned march from
Roxbury to Dorchester! Then the troops gathered their laurels under
the face of the sun; but it is easy to conceive how much more glorious
their achievements will become when darkness shall conceal their
The blood rushed across the fine features of Lionel, but he laughed
as he arose to depart, saying—
"You compel me to beat the retreat, my spirited coz. If I have my
usual fortune in this forage, your larder, however, shall be the
better for it. I kiss my hand to you, for it would be necessary to
lay aside the scarlet to dare to approach with a more peaceable
offering. But here I may make an approach to something like amity."
He took the hand of Cecil, who frankly met his offer, and
insensibly suffered herself to be led to the door of the building
while he continued speaking.
"I would, Lincoln, that you were not to go," she said, when they
stopped on the threshold— "it is not required of you as a soldier;
and as a man your own feelings should teach you to be tender of your
"It is as a man that I go, Cecil," he answered; "I have motives
that you cannot suspect."
"And is your absence to be long?"
"If not for days, my object will be unaccomplished;" but he added,
pressing her hand gently, "you cannot doubt my willingness to return
when occasion may offer."
"Go, then," said Cecil, hastily, and perhaps unconsciously
extricating herself—"go, if you have secret reasons for your
conduct; but remember that the acts of every officer of your rank are
"Do you then distrust me, Cecil!"
"No—no—I distrust no one, Major Lincoln—
go—go—and—and—we shall see you, Lionel, the instant you
He had not time to reply, for she glided into the building so
rapidly as to give the young man an opportunity only to observe, that
instead of rejoining her cousin, her light form passed up the great
stairs with the swiftness and grace of a fairy.
"Hang out our banners on the outward walls;
"The cry is still,
Lionel had walked from the dwelling of Mrs. Lechmere to the foot of
Beacon-Hill, and had even toiled up some part of the steep ascent,
before he recollected why he was thus wandering by himself at that
unusual hour. Hearing, however, no sounds that denoted an immediate
movement of the troops, he then yielded, unconsciously, to the nature
of his sensations, which just at that moment rendered his feelings
jealous of communication with others, and continued to ascend until
he gained the summit of the eminence. From this elevated stand he
paused to contemplate the scene which lay in the obscurity of night at
his feet, while his thoughts returned from the flattering
anticipations in which he had been indulging, to consider the more
pressing business of the hour. There arose from the town itself a
distant buzzing, like the hum of suppressed agitation, and lights
were seen to glide along the streets, or flit across the windows, in a
manner which denoted that a knowledge of the expedition had become
general within its dwellings. Lionel turned his head toward the
common, and listened long and anxiously, but in vain, to detect a
single sound that could betray any unusual stir among the soldiery.
Towards the interior, the darkness of night had fallen heavily,
dimming the amphitheatre of hills that encircled the place, and
enshrouding the vales and lowlands between them and the water with an
impenetrable veil of gloom. There were moments, indeed, when he
imagined he overheard some indications among the people of the
opposite shore that they were apprised of the impending descent, but
on listening more attentively, the utmost of which his ear could
assure him, was the faint lowing of cattle from the meadows, or the
plash of oars from a line of boats, which, by stretching far along the
shores, told both the nature and the extent of the watchfulness that
was deemed necessary for the occasion.
While Lionel stood thus, on the margin of the little platform of
earth that had been formed by levelling the apex of the natural cone,
musing on the probable results of the measure his superiors had been
resolving to undertake, a dim light shed itself along the grass, and
glancing upward, danced upon the beacon with strong and playful rays.
"Scoundrel!" exclaimed a man, springing from his place of
concealment, at the foot of the post, and encountering him face to
face, "do you dare to fire the beacon?"
"I would answer by asking how you dare to apply so rude an epithet
to me, did I not see the cause of your error," said Lionel. "The light
is from yonder moon, which is just emerging from the ocean."
"Ah! I see my error," returned his rough assailant— "by heavens,
I would have sworn at first, 'twas the beacon."
"You must then believe in the traditional witchcraft of this
country, for nothing short of necromancy could have enabled me to
light those combustibles at this distance."
"I don't know; 'tis a strange people we have got amongst—they
stole the cannon from the gunhouse here, a short time since, when I
would have said the thing was impossible. It was before your arrival,
sir; for I now believe I address myself to Major Lincoln, of the 27th."
"You are nearer the truth, this time, than in your first conjecture
as to my character," said Lionel; "but have I met one of the gentlemen
of our mess?"
The stranger now explained that he was a subaltern in a different
regiment, but that he well knew the person of the other. He added that
he had been ordered to watch on the hill to prevent any of the
inhabitants lighting the beacon, or making any other signal which
might convey into the country a knowledge of the contemplated inroad.
"This matter wears a more serious aspect than I had supposed,"
returned Lionel, when the young man had ended his apologies and
explanation; "the commander-in-chief must intend more than we are
aware of, by employing officers in this manner, to do the duties of
"We poor subs know but little, and care less what he means," cried
the ensign; "though I will acknowledge that I can see no sufficient
reason why British troops should put on coats of darkness to march
against a parcel of guessing, canting, countrymen, who would run at
the sight of their uniforms under a bright sun. Had I my will, the
tar above us, there, should blaze a mile high, to bring down the
heroes from Connecticut river; the dogs would cow before two full
companies of grenadiers—ha! listen, sir; there they go, now, the
pride of our army! I know them by their heavy tread."
Lionel did listen attentively, and plainly distinguished the
measured step of a body of disciplined men, moving rapidly across the
common, as if marching towards the water-side. Hastily bidding his
companion good-night, he threw himself over the brow of the hill, and
taking the direction of the sounds, he arrived at the shore at the
same instant with the troops. Two dark masses of human bodies were
halted in order, and as Lionel skirted the columns, his experienced
eye judged that the force collected before him, could be but little
short of a thousand men. A group of officers was clustered on the
beach, and he approached it, rightly supposing that it was gathered
about the leader of the party. This officer proved to be the
Lieutenant-Colonel of the 10th, who was in close conversation with the
old Major of Marines, alluded to by the sentinel who stood before the
gates of Province-house. To the former of these the young soldier
addressed himself, demanding leave to accompany the detachment as a
volunteer. After a few words of explanation, his request was granted,
though each forbore to touch in the slightest manner on the secret
objects of the expedition.
Lionel now found his groom, who had followed the troops with his
master's horses, and after giving his orders to the man, he proceeded
in quest of his friend Polwarth, who he soon discovered, posted in
all the stiffness of military exactness, at the head of the leading
platoon of the column of light-infantry. As it was apparent, both from
the position they occupied, as well as by the boats that had been
collected at the point, that the detachment was not to leave the
peninsula by its ordinary channel of communication with the country,
there remained no alternative but to await patiently the order to
embark. The delay was but short, and, as the most perfect order was
observed, the troops were soon seated, and the boats pulled heavily
from the land, just as the rays of the moon, which had been sometime
playing among the hills, and gilding the spires of the town, diffused
themselves softly over the bay, and lighted the busy scene, with an
effect not unlike the sudden rising of the curtain at the opening of
some interesting drama. Polwarth had established himself by the side
of Lionel, much to the ease of his limbs, and as they moved slowly
into the light, all those misgivings which had so naturally
accompanied his musings on the difficulties of a partisan irruption,
vanished before the loveliness of the time, and possibly before the
quietude of the action.
"There are moments when I could fancy the life of a sailor," he
said, leaning indolently back, and playing with one hand in the
water—"this pulling about in boats is easy work, and must be
capital assistance for a heavy digestion, inasmuch as it furnishes
air with as little violent exercise as may-be—your marine should
lead a merry life of it!"
"They are said to murmur at the clashing of their duties with those
of the sea-officers," said Lionel; "and I have often heard them
complain of a want of room to make use of their legs."
"Humph!" ejaculated Polwarth; "the leg is a part of a man for which
I see less actual necessity than for any other portion of his frame. I
often think there has been a sad mistake in the formation of the
animal; as, for instance, one can be a very good waterman, as you see,
without legs—a good fiddler, a first-rate tailor, a lawyer, a
doctor, a parson, a very tolerable cook, and in short, any thing but a
dancing master. I see no use in a leg unless it be to have the
gout—at any rate, a leg of twelve inches is as good as one a mile
long, and the saving might be appropriated to the nobler parts of the
animal; such as the brain and the stomach."
"You forget the officer of light-infantry," said Lionel, laughing.
"You might give him a couple of inches more; though, as every thing
in this wicked world, is excellent only by comparison, it would amount
to the same thing, and on my system a man would be just as fit for
the light-infantry without, as with legs; and he would get rid of a
good deal of troublesome manoeuvring, especially of this new exercise.
It would then become a delightful service, Leo; for it may be said to
monopolize all the poetry of military life, as you may see. Neither
the imagination nor the body can require more than we enjoy at this
moment, and of what use, I would ask, are our legs? if any thing, they
are incumbrances in this boat. Here we have a soft moon, and softer
seats—smooth water, and a stimulating air—on one side a fine
country, which, though but faintly seen, is known to be fertile, and
rich to abundance; and on the other a picturesque town, stored with
the condiments of every climate—even those rascally privates look
mellowed by the moon-beams, with their scarlet coats and glittering
arms! Did you meet Miss Danforth in your visit to Tremont-street,
"That pleasure was not denied me."
"Knew she of these martial proceedings?"
"There was something exceedingly belligerent in her humour."
"Spoke she of the light-infantry, or of any who serve in the light
"Your name was certainly mentioned," returned Lionel, a little
dryly—"she intimated that the hen-roosts were in danger."
"Ah! she is a girl of a million! her very acids are sweet! the
spices were not forgotten when the dough of her composition was mixed;
would that she were here—five minutes of moon-shine to a man in
love is worth a whole summer of a broiling sun—'twould be a
master-stroke to entice her into one of our picturesque marches; your
partisan is the man to take every thing by surprise—women and
fortifications! Where now are your companies of the line; your
artillery and dragoons; your engineers and staff! night-capped and
snoring to a man, while we enjoy here the very dessert of
existence—I wish I could hear a nightingale!"
"You have a solitary whip-poor-will whistling his notes, as if in
lamentation at our approach."
"Too dolorous, and by far too monotonous; 'tis like eating pig for
a month. But why are our fifes asleep?"
"The precautions of a whole day should hardly be defeated by the
tell-tale notes of our music," said Lionel; "your spirits get the
better of your discretion. I should think the prospect of a fatiguing
march would have lowered your vein."
"A fico for fatigue!" exclaimed Polwarth— "we only go out to take
a position at the colleges to cover our supplies—we are for school,
Leo— only fancy the knapsacks of the men to be satchels, humour my
folly, and you may believe yourself once more a boy."
The spirits of Polwarth had indeed undergone a sudden change, when
he found the sad anticipations which crossed his mind on first hearing
of a night inroad, so agreeably disappointed by the comfortable
situation he occupied; and he continued conversing in the manner
described, until the boats reached an unfrequented point that
projected a little way into that part of the Bay which washed the
western side of the peninsula of Boston. Here the troops landed, and
were again formed with all possible despatch. The company of Polwarth
was posted, as before, at the head of the column of light-infantry,
and an officer of the staff riding a short distance in front, it was
directed to follow his movements. Lionel ordered his groom to take
the route of the troops with the horses, and placing himself once more
by the side of the captain, they proceeded at the appointed signal.
"Now for the shades of old Harvard!" said Polwarth, pointing
towards the humble buildings of the university; "you shall feast this
night on reason, while I will make a more sub—ha! what can that
blind quarter-master mean by taking this direction! Does he not see
that the meadows are half covered with water!"
"Move on, move on with the light-infantry," cried the stern voice
of the old major of marines, who rode but a short distance in their
rear. "Do you falter at the sight of water!"
"We are not wharf-rats," said Polwarth.
Lionel seized him by the arm, and before the disconcerted captain
had time to recollect himself, he was borne through a wide pool of
stagnant water, mid-leg deep.
"Do not let your romance cost your commission," said the major, as
Polwarth floundered out of his difficulties; "here is an incident at
once for your private narrative of the campaign."
"Ah! Leo," said the captain, with a sort of comical sorrow, "I fear
we are not to court the muses by this hallowed moon to-night!"
"You can assure yourself of that, by observing that we leave the
academical roofs on our left— our leaders take the high-way."
They had by this time extricated themselves from the meadows, and
were moving on a road which led into the interior.
"You had better order up your groom, and mount, Major Lincoln,"
said Polwarth, sullenly; "a man need husband his strength, I see."
"'Twould be folly now; I am wet, and must walk for safety."
With the departure of Polwarth's spirits the conversation began to
flag, and the gentlemen continued their march with only such
occasional communications as arose from the passing incidents of
their situation. It very soon became apparent, both by the direction
given to the columns, as well as by the hurried steps of their guide,
that the march was to be forced, as well as of some length. But as
the air was getting cool, even Polwarth was not reluctant to warm his
chilled blood by more than ordinary exertion. The columns opened for
the sake of ease, and each man was permitted to consult his own
convenience, provided he preserved his appointed situation, and kept
even pace with his comrades. In this manner the detachment advanced
swiftly, a general silence pervading the whole, as the spirits of the
men settled into that deep sobriety which denotes much earnestness of
purpose. At first the whole country appeared buried in a general
sleep, but as they proceeded, the barking of the dogs, and the tread
of the soldiery, drew the inhabitants of the farm-houses to their
windows, who gazed in mute wonder at the passing spectacle, across
which the mellow light of the moon cast a glow of brilliancy. Lionel
had turned his head from studying the surprise depicted in the faces
of the members of one of these disturbed families, when the deep
tones of a distant church-bell came sweeping down the valley in which
they marched, ringing peel on peel, in the quick, spirit-stirring
sounds of an alarm. The men raised their heads in wondering
attention, as they advanced; but it was not long before the reports of
fire-arms were heard echoing among the hills, and bell began to
answer bell in every direction, until the sounds blended with the
murmurs of the night-air, or were lost in distance. The whole country
was now filled with every organ of sound that the means of the people
furnished, or their ingenuity could devise, to call the population to
arms. Fires blazed along the heights, the bellowing of the conchs and
horns, mingled with the rattling of the muskets and the varied tones
of the bells, while the swift clattering of horses' hoofs began to be
heard, as if their riders were dashing furiously along the flanks of
"Push on, gentlemen, push on," shouted the old veteran of marines,
amid the din. "The Yankees have awoke, and are stirring—we have yet
a long road to journey—push on, light-infantry, the grenadiers are
on your heels!"
The advance quickened their steps, and the whole body pushed for
their unknown object with as much rapidity as the steadiness of
military array would admit. In this manner the detachment continued
to proceed for some hours, without halting, and Lionel imagined that
they had advanced several leagues into the country. The sounds of the
alarm had now passed away, having swept far inland, until the faintest
evidence of its existence was lost to the ear, though the noise of
horsemen, riding furiously along the by-ways, yet denoted that men
were still hurrying past them, to the scene of the expected strife. As
the deceitful light of the moon was blending with the truer colours
of day, the welcome sound of `halt!' was passed from the rear up to
the head of the column of light-infantry.
"Halt!" repeated Polwarth, with instinctive readiness, and with a
voice that sent the order through the whole length of their extended
line; "halt, and let the rear close; if my judgment in walking be
worth so much as an anchovy, they are some miles behind us, by this
time! a man needs to have crossed his race with the blood of Flying
Childers for this sort of work! The next command should be to break
our fasts—Tom, you brought the trifles I sent you from Major
"Yes, Sir," returned his man; "they are on the Major's horses, in
the rear, as—"
"The Major's horses in the rear, you ass, when food is in such
request in the front! I wonder, Leo, if a mouthful couldn't be picked
up in yon farm-house?"
"Pick yourself off that stone, and make the men dress; here is
Pitcairn closing to the front with the whole battalion."
Lionel had hardly spoken before an order was passed to the
light-infantry to look to their arms, and for the grenadiers to prime
and load. The presence of the veteran who rode in front of the
column, and the hurry of the moment, suppressed the complaints of
Polwarth, who was in truth an excellent officer as it respected what
he himself termed the `quiescent details of service.' Three or four
companies of the light-corps were detached from the main body, and
formed in the open marching order of their exercise, when the old
marine, placing himself at their head, gave forth the order to advance
again at a quick step. The road now led into a vale, and at some
distance a small hamlet of houses was dimly seen through the morning
haze, clustered around one of the humble, but decent temples, so
common in Massachusetts. The halt, and the brief preparations that
succeeded, had excited a powerful interest in the whole of the
detachment, who pushed earnestly forward, keeping on the heels of the
charger of their veteran leader, as he passed over the ground at a
small trot. The air partook of the scent of morning, and the eye was
enabled to dwell distinctly on surrounding objects, quickening, aided
by the excitement of the action, the blood of the men who had been
toiling throughout the night in uncertain obscurity along an unknown,
and, apparently, interminable road. Their object now seemed before
them and attainable, and they pressed forward to achieve it in
animated but silent earnestness. The plain architecture of the church
and of its humble companions had just become distinct, when three or
four armed horsemen were seen attempting to anticipate their arrival,
by crossing the head of the column, from a by-path.
"Come in," cried an officer of the staff in front, "come in, or
quit the place."
The men turned, and rode briskly off, one of their party flashing
his piece in a vain attempt to give the alarm. A low mandate was now
passed through the ranks to push on, and in a few moments they
entered on a full view of the hamlet, the church, and the little green
on which it stood. The forms of men were seen moving swiftly across
the latter, as a roll of a drum broke from the spot; and there were
glimpses of a small body of countrymen, drawn up in the affectation of
"Push on, light-infantry!" cried their leader, spurring his horse,
and advancing with the staff at so brisk a trot, as to disappear round
an angle of the church.
Lionel pressed forward with a beating heart for a crowd of horrors
rushed across his imagination at the moment, when the stern voice of
the major of marines was again heard, shouting—
"Disperse, ye rebels, disperse!—throw down your arms, and
These memorable words were instantly followed by the reports of
pistols, and the fatal mandate of `fire!' when a loud shout arose from
the whole body of the soldiery, who rushed upon the open green, and
threw in a close discharge on all before them.
"Great God!" exclaimed Lionel, "what is it you do? ye fire at
unoffending men! is there no law but force! beat up their pieces,
Polwarth— stop their fire."
"Halt!" cried Polwarth, brandishing his sword fiercely among his
men; "come to an order, or I'll fell ye to the earth."
But the excitement which had been gathering to a head for so many
hours, and the animosity which had so long been growing between the
troops and the people, were not to be repressed at a word. It was
only when Pitcairn himself rode in among the soldiers, and, aided by
his officers, beat down their arms, that the uproar was gradually
quelled, and something like order was again restored. Before this was
effected, however, a few scattering shot were thrown back from their
flying adversaries, though without material injury to the British.
When the firing had ceased, officers and men stood gazing at each
other for a few moments, as if even they could foresee some of the
mighty events which were to follow the deeds of that hour. The smoke
slowly arose, like a lifted veil from the green, and mingling with the
fogs of morning, drove heavily across the country, as if to
communicate the fatal intelligence that the final appeal to arms had
been made. Every eye was bent inquiringly on the fatal green, and
Lionel beheld, with a feeling allied to anguish, a few men at a
distance, writhing and struggling in their wounds, while some five or
six bodies lay stretched upon the grass, in the appalling quiet of
death. Sickening at the sight, he turned, and walked away by himself,
while the remainder of the troops, alarmed by the reports of the arms,
were eagerly pressing up from the rear to join their comrades.
Unwittingly he approached the church, nor did he awake from the deep
abstraction into which he had fallen, until he was aroused by the
extraordinary spectacle of Job Pray, issuing from the edifice with an
air in which menace was singularly blended with resentment and fear.
The changeling pointed earnestly to the body of a man, who, having
been wounded, had crept for refuge near to the door of the temple in
which he had so often worshipped that being to whom he had been thus
hurriedly sent to render his last and great account, and said
"You have killed one of God's creatures; and he'll remember it!"
"I would it were one only," said Lionel; "but they are many, and
none can tell where the carnage is to cease."
"Do you think," said Job, looking furtively around to assure
himself that no other overheard him, "that the king can kill men in
the Bay-colony as he can in London? They'll take this up in old
Funnel, and 'twill ring again, from the north-end to the Neck."
"What can they do, boy, after all," said Lionel, forgetting at the
moment that he whom he addressed had been denied the reason of his
kind— "the power of Britain is too mighty for these scattered and
unprepared colonies to cope with and prudence would tell the people to
desist from resistance while yet they may."
"Does the king believe there is more prudence in London than there
is in Boston?" returned the simpleton; "he needn't think, because the
people were quiet at the massacre, there'll be no stir about
this—you have killed one of God's creatures," added the lad, "and
he'll remember it!"
"How came you here, sirrah?" demanded Lionel, suddenly recollecting
himself; "did you not tell me that you were going out to fish for your
"And if I did," returned the other, sullenly, "an't there fish in
the ponds as well as in the bay, and can't Nab have a fresh
taste?—Job don't know there is any act of Parliament ag'in taking
"Fellow, you are attempting to deceive me! Some one is practising
on your ignorance, and knowing you to be a fool, is employing you on
errands that may one day cost your life."
"The king can't send Job on a'r'nds," said the lad proudly; "for
there is no law for it, and Job wont go."
"Your knowledge will undo you, simpleton— who should teach you
these niceties of the law?"
"Why, do you think the Boston people so dumb as not to know the
law!" asked Job, with unfeigned astonishment—"and Ralph, too—he
knows as much law as the king—he told me it was ag'in all law to
shoot at the minute-men, unless they fired first, because the colony
has a right to train whenever it pleases."
"Ralph!" said Lionel, eagerly—"can Ralph be with you, then! 'tis
impossible; I left him ill, and at home—neither would he mingle in
such a business as this, at his years."
"I expect Ralph has seen bigger armies than the light-infantry, and
grannies, and all the soldiers left in town put together," said Job,
Lionel was far too generous to practise on the simplicity of his
companion, with a view to extract any secret which might endanger his
liberty, but he felt a deep concern in the welfare of a young man who
had been thrown in his way in the manner already related. He therefore
pursued the subject, with the double design to advise Job against any
dangerous connexions, and to relieve his own anxiety on the subject of
the aged stranger. But to all his interrogatories the lad answered
guardedly, and with a discretion which denoted that he possessed no
small share of cunning, though a higher order of intellect had been
"I repeat to you," said Lionel, losing his patience, "that it is
important for me to meet the man you call Ralph in the country, and I
wish to know if he is to be seen near here."
"Ralph scorns a lie," returned Job—"go where he promised to meet
you, and see if he don't come."
"But no place was named—and this unhappy event may embarrass him,
or frighten him—"
"Frighten him!" repeated Job, shaking his head with solemn
earnestness; "you can't frighten Ralph!"
"His daring may prove his misfortune. Boy, I ask you for the last
time whether the old man—"
Perceiving Job to shrink back timidly, and lower in his looks,
Lionel paused, and casting a glance behind him, beheld the captain of
grenadiers standing with folded arms, silently contemplating the body
of the American.
"Will you have the goodness to explain to me, Major Lincoln," said
the captain, when he perceived himself observed, "why this man lies
"You see the wound in his breast?"
"It is a palpable and baistly truth that he has been shot—but
why, or with what design?"
"I must leave that question to be answered by our superiors,
captain M`Fuse," returned Lionel. "It is, however, rumoured that the
expedition is out to seize certain magazines of provisions and arms,
which the colonists have been collecting, it is feared, with hostile
"I had my own sagacious thoughts that we were bent on some such
glorious errand!" said M`Fuse, with strong contempt expressed in his
hard features. "Tell me, Major Lincoln—you are certainly but a
young soldier, though, being of the staff, you should know—does Gage
think we can have a war with the arms and ammunition all on one side?
We have had a long p'ace, Major Lincoln, and now when there is a small
prospect of some of the peculiarities of our profession arising, we
are commanded to do the very thing which is most likely to def'ate the
object of war."
"I do not know that I rightly understand you, sir," said Lionel;
"there can be but little glory gained by such troops as we possess, in
a contest with the unarmed and undisciplined inhabitants of any
"Exactly my maining, sir; it is quite obvious that we understand
each other thoroughly, without a world of circumlocution. The lads are
doing very well at present, and if left to themselves a few months
longer, it may become a creditable affair. You know, as well as I do,
Major Lincoln, that time is necessary to make a soldier, and if they
are hurried into the business, you might as well be chasing a mob up
Ludgate hill, for the honour you will gain. A discrate officer would
nurse this little matter, instead of resorting to such precipitation.
To my id'a'a's, sir, the man before us has been butchered, and not
slain in honourable battle!"
"There is much reason to fear that others may use the same term in
speaking of the affair," returned Lionel; "God knows how much cause
we may have to lament the death of the poor man!"
"On that topic, the man may be said to have gone through a business
that was to be done, and is not to be done over again," said the
captain very coolly, "and therefore his death can be no very great
calamity to himself, whatever it may be to us. If these minute-men,
and as they stand but minute they 'arn their name like worthy
fellows— if these minute-men, sir, stood in your way, you should
have whipped them from the green with your ramrods."
"Here is one who may tell you that they are not to be treated like
children either," said Lionel, turning to the place which had been so
recently occupied by Job Pray, but which, to his surprise, he now
found vacant. While he was yet looking around him, wondering whither
the lad could so suddenly have withdrawn, the drums beat the signal
to form, and a general bustle among the soldiery, showed them to be on
the eve of further movements. The two gentlemen instantly rejoined
their companions, walking thoughtfully towards the troops, though
influenced by such totally different views of the recent transactions.
During the short halt of the advance, the whole detachment was
again united, and a hasty meal had been taken. The astonishment which
succeeded the rencontre, had given place, among the officers, to a
military pride, capable of sustaining them in much more arduous
circumstances. Even the ardent looks of professional excitement were
to be seen in most of their countenances, as with glittering arms,
waving banners, and timing their march to the enlivening music of
their band, they wheeled from the fatal spot, and advanced again,
with proud and measured steps, along the highway. If such was the
result of the first encounter on the lofty and tempered spirits of the
gentlemen of the detachment, its effect on the common hirelings in
the ranks, was still more palpable and revolting. Their coarse jests,
and taunting looks, as they moved by the despised victims of their
disciplined skill, together with the fierce and boastful expression of
brutal triumph, which so many among them betrayed, exhibited the
infallible evidence, that having tasted of blood, they were now
ready, like tigers, to feed on it till they were glutted.
"There was mounting 'mong Græmes of the Netherby clan;
"Fosters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran;
"There was racing, and chasing, on Cannobie Lea.—"
The pomp of military parade with which the troops marched from the
village of Lexington, as the little hamlet was called, where the
foregoing events occurred, soon settled again into the sober and
business-like air of men earnestly bent on the achievement of their
object. It was no longer a secret that they were to proceed two
leagues further into the interior, to destroy the stores already
mentioned, and which were now known to be collected at Concord, the
town where the Congress of Provincial Delegates, who were substituted
by the colonists for the ancient legislatures of the Province, held
their meetings. As the march could not now be concealed, it became
necessary to resort to expedition, in order to ensure its successful
termination. The veteran officer of marines, so often mentioned,
resumed his post in front, and at the head of the same companies of
the light corps which he had before led, pushed in advance of the
heavier column of the grenadiers. Polwarth, by this arrangement,
perceived himself again included among those on whose swiftness of
foot so much depended. When Lionel rejoined his friend he found him
at the head of his men, marching with so grave an air, as at once
induced the Major to give him credit for regrets much more
commendable than such as were connected with his physical distress.
The files were once more opened for room, as well as for air, which
was becoming necessary, as a hot sun began to dissipate the mists of
the morning, and shed that enervating influence on the men so peculiar
to the first warmth of an American Spring.
"This has been a hasty business altogether, Major Lincoln," said
Polwarth, as Lionel took his wonted station at the side of the other,
and dropped mechanically into the regular step of the party—"I know
not that it is quite as lawful to knock a man in the head as a
"You then agree with me in thinking our attack hasty, if not cruel?"
"Hasty! most unequivocally. Haste may be called the distinctive
property of the expedition; and whatever destroys the appetite of an
honest man, may be set down as cruel. I have not been able to swallow
a mouthful of breakfast, Leo. A man must have the cravings of a hyena,
and the stomach of an ostrich, to eat and digest with such work as
this of ours before his eyes."
"And yet the men regard their acts with triumph!"
"The dogs are drilled into it. But you saw how sober the
Provincials looked in the matter; we must endeavour to sooth their
feelings in the best manner we can."
"Will they not despise our consolation and apologies, and look
rather to themselves for redress and vengeance?"
Polwarth smiled contemptuously, and there was an air of pride about
him that gave an appearance of elasticity even to his heavy tread, as
"The thing is a bad thing, Major Lincoln, and, if you will, a
wicked thing—but take the assurance of a man who knows the country
well, there will be no attempts at vengeance; and as for redress, in
a military way, the thing is impossible."
"You speak with a confidence, sir, that should find its warranty in
an intimate acquaintance with the weakness of the people."
"I have dwelt two years, Major Lincoln, in the very heart of the
country," said Polwarth, without turning his eyes from the steady gaze
he maintained on the long road which lay before him, "even three
hundred miles beyond the inhabited districts; and I should know the
character of the nation, as well as its resources. In respect to the
latter, there is no esculent thing within its borders, from a
humming-bird to a buffalo, or from an artichoke to a water-melon,
that I have not, on some occasion or other, had tossed up, in a
certain way—therefore, I can speak with confidence, and do not
hesitate to say, that the colonists will never fight; nor, if they
had the disposition, do they possess the means to maintain a war."
"Perhaps, sir," returned Lionel sharply, "you have consulted the
animals of the country too closely to be acquainted with its spirits?"
"The relation between them is intimate—tell me what food a man
diets on, and I will furnish you with his character. 'Tis morally
impossible that a people who eat their pudding before the meats,
after the fashion of these colonists, can ever make good soldiers,
because the appetite is appeased before the introduction of the
succulent nutriment of the flesh, into—"
"Enough! spare me the remainder," interrupted Lionel—"too much
has been said already to prove the inferiority of the American to the
European animal, and your reasoning is conclusive."
"Parliament must do something for the families of the sufferers."
"Parliament!" echoed Lionel, with bitter emphasis; "yes, we shall
be called on to pass resolutions to commend the decision of the
General, and the courage of the troops; and then, after we have added
every possible insult to the injury, under the conviction of our
imaginary supremacy, we may hear of some paltry sum to the widows and
orphans, cited as an evidence of the unbounded generosity of the
"The feeding of six or seven broods of young Yankees is no such
trifle, Major Lincoln," returned Polwarth; "and there I trust the
unhappy affair will end. We are now marching on Concord, a place with
a most auspicious name, where we shall find repose under its shadow,
as well as the food of this home-made parliament, which they have
gotten together. These considerations alone support me under the
fatigue of this direful trot with which old Pitcairn goes over the
ground—does the man think he is hunting with a pack of beagles at
The opinion expressed by his companion, concerning the martial
propensities of the Americans, was one too common among the troops to
excite any surprise in Lionel, but disgusted with the illiberality of
the sentiment, and secretly offended at the supercilious manner with
which the other expressed these injurious opinions of his countrymen,
he continued his route in silence, while Polwarth speedily lost his
loquacious propensity, in a sense of the fatigue that assailed every
muscle and joint in his body.
That severe training of the corps, concerning which the captain
vented such frequent complaints, now stood the advance in good
service. It was apparent that the whole country was in a state of
high alarm, and small bodies of armed men were occasionally seen on
the heights that flanked their route, though no attempts were made to
revenge the deaths of those who fell at Lexington. The march of the
troops was accelerated rather with a belief that the colonists might
remove, or otherwise secrete the stores, than from any apprehension
that they would dare to oppose the progress of the chosen troops of
the army. The slight resistance of the Americans in the rencontre of
that morning, was already a jest among the soldiers, who sneeringly
remarked, that the term of "minute-men," was deservedly applied to
warriors who had proved themselves so dexterous at flight. In short,
every opprobrious and disrespectful epithet that contempt and
ignorance could invent, were freely lavished on the forbearing
mildness of the suffering colonists. In this temper the troops reached
a point whence the modest spire and roofs of Concord became visible.
A small body of the colonists retired through the place as the English
advanced, and the detachment entered the town without the least
resistance, and with the appearance of conquerors. Lionel was not long
in discovering from such of the inhabitants as remained, that,
notwithstanding their approach had been known for some time, the
events of that morning were yet a secret from the people of the
village. Detachments from the light corps were immediately sent in
various directions; some to search for the ammunition and provisions,
and some to guard the approaches to the place. One, in particular,
followed the retreating footsteps of the Americans, and took post at a
bridge, at some little distance, which cut off the communication with
the country to the northward.
In the meantime, the work of destruction was commenced in the town,
chiefly under the superintendance of the veteran officer of the
marines. The few male inhabitants who remained in their dwellings,
were of necessity peaceable, though Lionel could read in their flushed
cheeks and gleaming eyes, the secret indignation of men, who,
accustomed to the protection of the law, now found themselves
subjected to the insults and wanton abuses of a military inroad. Every
door was flung open, and no place was held sacred from the rude
scrutiny of the licentious soldiery. Taunts and execrations soon
mingled with the seeming moderation with which the search had
commenced, and loud exultation was betrayed, even among the officers,
as the scanty provisions of the colonists were gradually brought to
light. It was not a moment to respect private rights, and the freedom
and ribaldry of the men were on the point of becoming something more
serious, when the report of fire-arms was heard suddenly to issue
from the post held by the light-infantry, at the bridge. A few
scattering shot were succeeded by a volley, which was answered by
another, with the quickness of lightning, and then the air became
filled with the incessant rattling of a sharp conflict. Every arm was
suspended, and each tongue became mute with astonishment, and the men
abandoned their occupations as these unexpected sounds of war broke on
their ears. The chiefs of the party were seen in consultation, and
horsemen rode furiously into the place, to communicate the nature of
this new conflict. The rank of Major Lincoln soon obtained for him a
knowledge that it was thought impolitic to communicate to the whole
detachment. Notwithstanding it was apparent that they who brought the
intelligence were anxious to give it the most favourable aspect, he
soon discovered that the same body of Americans which had retired at
their approach, having attempted to return to their homes in the
town, had been fired on at the bridge, and in the skirmish which
succeeded, the troops had been compelled to give way with loss. The
effect of this prompt and spirited conduct on the part of the
provincials produced a sudden alteration, not only in the aspect, but
also in the proceedings of the troops. The detachments were recalled,
the drums beat to arms, and, for the first time, both officers and men
seemed to recollect that they had six leagues to march through a
country that hardly contained a friend. Still few or no enemies were
visible, with the exception of those men of Concord, who had already
drawn blood freely from the invaders of their domestic sanctuaries.
The dead, and all the common wounded, were left where they had
fallen, and it was thought an unfavourable omen among the observant of
the detachment, that a wounded young subaltern, of rank and fortune,
was also abandoned to the mercy of the exasperated Americans. The
privates caught the infection from their officers, and Lionel saw,
that in place of the high and insulting confidence with which the
troops had wheeled into the streets of Concord, that they left them,
when the order was given to march, with faces bent anxiously on the
surrounding heights, and with looks that bespoke a consciousness of
the dangers that were likely to beset the long road which lay before
Their apprehensions were not groundless. The troops had hardly
commenced their march before a volley was fired upon them from the
protection of a barn, and as they advanced, volley succeeded volley,
and musket answered musket from behind every cover that offered to
their assailants. At first these desultory and feeble attacks were
but little regarded; a brisk charge, and a smart fire of a few moments
never failing to disperse their enemies, when the troops again
proceeded for a short distance unmolested. But the alarm of the
preceding night had gathered the people over an immense extent of
country; and, having waited for information, those nearest to the
scene of action were already pressing forward to the assistance of
their friends. There was but little order, and no concert among the
Americans; but each party, as it arrived, pushed into the fray,
hanging on the skirts of their enemies, or making spirited though
ineffectual efforts to stop their progress. While the men from the
towns behind them, pressed upon their rear, the population in their
front accumulated in bodies, like a rolling ball of snow, and before
half the distance between Concord and Lexington was accomplished,
Lionel perceived that the safety of their boasted power was in extreme
jeopardy. During the first hour of these attacks, while they were yet
distant, desultory, and feeble, the young soldier had marched by the
side of M`Fuse, who shook his head disdainfully whenever a shot
whistled near him, and did not fail to comment freely on the folly of
commencing a war thus prematurely, which, if properly nursed, might,
to use his own words, "be in time brought to something pretty and
"You perceive, Major Lincoln," he added, "that these Provincials
have got the first elements of the art, for the rascals fire with
exceeding accuracy, when the distance is considered; and six months
or a year of close drilling would make them good for something in a
regular charge. They have got a smart crack to their p'aces, and a
pretty whiz to their lead already; if they could but learn to deliver
their fire in platoons, the lads might make some impression on the
light-infantry even now; and in a year or two, sir, they would not be
unworthy of the favours of the grenadiers."
Lionel listened to this, and much other similar discourse, with a
vacant ear; but as the combat thickened, the blood of the young man
began to course more swiftly through his veins; and at length,
excited by the noise and the danger which was pressing more closely
around them, he mounted, and riding to the commander of the
detachment, tendered his assistance as a volunteer aid, having lost
every other sensation in youthful blood, and the pride of arms. He
was immediately charged with orders for the advance, and driving his
spurs into his steed, he dashed through the scattered line of fighting
and jaded troops, and galloped to its head. Here he found several
companies, diligently employed in clearing the way for their comrades,
as new foes appeared at every few rods that they advanced. Even as
Lionel approached, a heavy sheet of fire flashed from a close
barn-yard, full in the faces of the leading files, sending the swift
engines of death into the very centre of the party.
"Wheel a company of the light-infantry, captain Polwarth," cried
the old major of marines, who battled stoutly in the van, "and drive
the skulking scoundrels from their ambush."
"Oh! by the sweets of ease, and the hopes of a halt! but here is
another tribe of these white savages!" responded the unfortunate
captain— "Look out, my brave men! blaze away over the walls on your
left—give no quarter to the annoying rascals—get the first
shot—give them a foot of your steel."
While venting such terrible denunciations and commands, which were
drawn from the peaceable captain by the force of circumstances, Lionel
beheld his friend disappear amid the buildings of the farm-yard in a
cloud of smoke, followed by his troops. In a few minutes afterwards,
as the line toiled its way up the hill on which this scene occurred,
Polwarth re-appeared, issuing from the fray with his face blackened
and grimed with powder, while a sheet of flame arose from the spot
which soon laid the devoted buildings of the unfortunate husbandman in
"Ha! Major Lincoln," he cried, as he approached the other, "do you
call these light-infantry movements! to me they are the torments of
the damned!—Go, you who have influence, and what is better, a horse,
go to Smith, and tell him if he will call a halt, I will engage, with
my single company, to seat ourselves in any field he may select, and
keep these blood-suckers at bay for an hour, while the detachment can
rest and satisfy their hunger—trusting that he will then allow time
for his defenders to perform the same necessary operations. A
night-march, no breakfast—a burning sun—mile after mile—no
halt, and nothing but fire—fire—'tis opposed to every principle
in physics, and even to the anatomy of man to think he can endure it!"
Lionel endeavoured to encourage his friend to new exertions, and
turning away from their leader, spoke cheeringly, and with a martial
tone, to his troops. The men cheered as they passed, and dashed
forward to new encounters; the Americans yielding sullenly, but
necessarily, to the constant charges of the bayonet, to which the
regulars resorted to dislodge them. As the advance moved on again,
Lionel turned to contemplate the scene in the rear. They had now been
marching and fighting for two hours, with little or no cessation, and
it was but too evident that the force of the assailants was
increasing, both in numbers and in daring, at each step they took. On
either side of the highway, along the skirts of every wood or
orchard, in the open fields, and from every house, barn, or cover in
sight, the flash of fire-arms was to be seen, while the shouts of the
English grew, at each instant, feebler and less inspiriting. Heavy
clouds of smoke rose above the valley, into which he looked, and
mingled with the dust of the march, drawing an impenetrable veil
before the view; but as the wind, at moments, shoved it aside, he
caught glimpses of the worried and faltering platoons of the party,
sometimes breasting and repulsing an attack with spirit, and at
others shrinking from the contest, with an ill-concealed desire to
urge their retreat to the verge of an absolute flight. Young as he
was, Major Lincoln knew enough of his profession to understand that
nothing but the want of concert, and of a unity of command among the
Americans, saved the detachment from total destruction. The attacks
were growing extremely spirited, and not unfrequently close and
bloody, though the discipline of the troops enabled them still to
bear up against this desultory and divided warfare, when Lionel heard,
with a pleasure he could not conceal, the loud shouts that arose from
the van, as the cheering intelligence was proclaimed through the
ranks, that the cloud of dust in their front was raised by a chosen
brigade of their comrades, which had come most timely to their
succour, with the Heir of Northumberland at its head. The Americans
gave way as the two detachments joined, and the artillery of the
succours opened upon their flying parties, giving a few minutes of
stolen rest to those who needed it so much. Polwarth threw himself
flat on the earth, as Lionel dismounted at his side, and his example
was followed by the whole party, who lay panting, under the heat and
fatigue, like worried deer, that had succeeded in throwing the hounds
from their scent.
"As I am a gentleman of simple habits, and a man innocent of all
this bloodshed, Major Lincoln," said the captain, "I pronounce this
march to be a most unjust draft on the resources of human nature. I
have journeyed at least five leagues between this spot and that place
of discord that they falsely call Concord, within two hours, amidst
dust, smoke, groans, and other infernal cries, that would cause the
best trained racer in England to bolt; and breathing an air, all the
time, that would boil an egg in two minutes and a quarter, if fairly
exposed to it."
"You overrate the distance—'tis but two leagues by the stones—"
"Stones!" interrupted Polwarth—"I scorn their lies—I have a leg
here that is a better index for miles, feet, or even inches, than was
ever chiseled in stone."
"We must not contest this idle point," returned Lionel, "for I see
the troops are about to dine; and we have need of every moment to
reach Boston before the night closes around us.
"Eat! Boston! night!" slowly repeated Polwarth, raising himself on
one arm, and staring wildly about him. "Surely no man among us is so
mad as to talk of moving from this spot short of a week—it would
take half that time to receive the internal refreshment necessary to
our systems, and the remainder to restore us healthy appetites."
"Such, however, are the orders of the Earl Percy, from whom I learn
that the whole country is rising in our front."
"Ay, but they are fellows who slept peacefully in their beds the
past night; and I dare say that every dog among them ate his
half-pound of pork, together with additions suitable for a breakfast,
before he crossed his threshold this morning. But with us the case is
different. It is incumbent on two thousand British troops to move
with deliberation, if it should be only for the credit of his
majesty's arms. No, no— the gallant Percy too highly respects his
princely lineage and name to assume the appearance of flight before a
mob of base-born hinds!"
The intelligence of Lionel was nevertheless true; for after a short
halt, allowing barely time enough to the troops to eat a hasty meal,
the drums again beat the signal to march, and Polwarth, as well as
many hundred others, was reluctantly compelled to resume his feet,
under the penalty of being abandoned to the fury of the exasperated
Americans. While the troops were in a state of rest, the field-pieces
of the reinforcement kept their foes at a distance, but the instant
the guns were limbered, and the files had once more opened for room,
the attacks were renewed from every quarter, with redoubled fury. The
excesses of the troops, who had begun to vent their anger by
plundering and firing the dwellings that they passed, added to the
bitterness of the attacks, and the march had not been renewed many
minutes, before a fiercer conflict raged along its skirts than had
been before witnessed on that day.
"Would to God that the great Northumbrian would form us in order of
battle, and make a fair field with the Yankees," groaned Polwarth, as
he toiled his way once more with the advance— "half an hour would
settle the matter, and a man would then possess the gratification of
seeing himself a victor, or at least of knowing that he was
comfortably and quietly dead."
"Few of us would ever arrive in the morning, if we left the
Americans a night to gather in; and a halt of an hour would lose us
the advantages of the whole march," returned Lionel— "Cheer up, my
old comrade, and you will establish your reputation for activity for
ever—here comes a party of the Provincials over the crest of the
hill to keep you in employment."
Polwarth cast a look of despair at Lionel, as he muttered in
"Employment! God knows that there has not been a single muscle,
sinew, or joint in my body in a state of wholesome rest for
four-and-twenty hours!" Then turning to his men, he cried, with tones
so cheerful and animated, that they seemed to proceed from a final and
closing exertion, as he led them gallantly into the approaching
fray— "Scatter the dogs, my brave friends—away with them like
gnats, like moschettos, like leeches, as they are—give it
them—lead and steel by handsful"—
"On—push on with the advance!" shouted the old major of marines,
who observed the leading platoons to stagger.
The voice of Polwarth was once more heard in the din, and their
irregular assailants sullenly yielded before the charge.
"On—on with the advance!" cried fifty voices out of a cloud of
smoke and dust that was moving up the hill, on whose side this
In this manner the war continued to roll slowly onward, following
the weary and heavy foot-steps of the soldiery, who had now toiled for
many miles, surrounded by the din of battle, and leaving in their
path the bloody impressions of their footsteps. Lionel was enabled to
trace their route, far towards the north, by the bright red spots,
which lay scattered in alarming numbers along the highway, and in the
fields through which the troops occasionally moved. He even found
time, in the intervals of rest, to note the difference in the
characters of the combatants. Whenever the ground or the circumstances
admitted of a regular attack, the dying confidence of the troops
would seem restored, and they moved up to the charge with the bold
carriage which high discipline inspires, rending the air with shouts,
while their enemies melted before their power in sullen silence, never
ceasing to use their weapons however, with an expertness that
rendered them doubly dangerous. The direction of the columns
frequently brought the troops over ground that had been sharply
contested in front, and the victims of these short struggles came
under the eyes of the detachment. It was necessary to turn a deaf ear
to the cries and prayers of many wounded soldiers, who, with horror
and abject fear written on every feature of their countenances, were
the helpless witnesses of the retreating files of their comrades. On
the other hand, the American lay in his blood, regarding the passing
detachment with a stern and indignant eye, that appeared to look far
beyond his individual suffering. Over one body, Lionel pulled the
reins of his horse, and he paused a moment to consider the spectacle.
It was the lifeless form of a man, whose white locks, hollow cheeks,
and emaciated frame, denoted that the bullet which had stricken him to
the earth had anticipated the irresistible decrees of time but a very
few days. He had fallen on his back, and his glazed eye expressed,
even in death, the honest resentment he had felt while living; and
his palsied hand continued to grasp the fire-lock, old and time-worn,
like its owner, with which he had taken the field in behalf of his
"Where can a contest end which calls such champions to its aid!"
exclaimed Lionel, observing that the shadow of another spectator fell
across the wan features of the dead—"who can tell where this
torrent of blood can be stayed, or how many are to be its victims!"
Receiving no answer, he raised his eyes, and discovered that he had
unwittingly put this searching question to the very man whose rashness
had precipitated the war. It was the major of marines, who sat
looking at the sight, for a minute, with an eye as vacant as the one
that seemed to throw back his wild gaze, and then rousing from his
trance, he buried his rowels in the flanks of his horse, and
disappeared in the smoke that enveloped a body of the grenadiers,
waving his sword on high, and shouting—
"On—push on with the advance!"
Major Lincoln slowly followed, musing on the scene he had
witnessed, when, to his surprise, he encountered Polwarth, seated on a
rock by the roadside, looking with a listless and dull eye at the
retreating columns. Checking his charger, he inquired of his friend if
he were hurt.
"Only melted," returned the captain; "I have outdone the speed of
man this day, Major Lincoln, and can do no more. If you see any of my
friends in dear England, tell them that I met my fate as a soldier
should, stationary; though I am actually melting away in rivulets,
like the snows of April."
"Good God! you will not remain here to be slain by the Provincials,
by whom you see we are completely enveloped?"
"I am preparing a speech for the first Yankee who may approach. If
he be a true man he will melt into tears at my sufferings this
day—if a savage, my heirs will be spared the charges of my funeral."
Lionel would have continued his remonstrances, but a fierce
encounter between a flanking party of the troops and a body of
Americans, drove the former close upon him, and leaping the wall he
rallied his comrades, and turned the tide of battle in their favour.
He was drawn far from the spot by the vicissitudes of the combat, and
there was a moment, while passing from one body of the troops to
another, that he found himself unexpectedly alone, in a most dangerous
vicinity to a small wood. The hurried call of "pick off that officer,"
first aroused him to his extreme danger, and he had mechanically
bowed himself on the neck of his charger, in expectation of the fatal
messengers, when a voice was heard among the Americans, crying, in
tones that caused every nerve in his body to thrill—
"Spare him! for the love of that God you worship, spare him!"
The overwhelming sensations of the moment prevented flight, and the
young man beheld Ralph, running with frantic gestures, along the
skirts of the cover, beating up the fire-arms of twenty Americans,
and repeating his cries in a voice that did not seem to belong to a
human being— then, in the confusion which whirled through his
brain, Lionel thought himself a prisoner, as a man, armed with a long
rifle, glided from the wood, and laid his hand on the rein of his
bridle, saying earnestly—
"'Tis a bloody day, and God will remember it; but if Major Lincoln
will ride straight down the hill, the people wont fire for fear of
hitting Job—and when Job fires, he'll shoot that granny who's
getting over the wall, and there'll never be a stir about it in
Lionel wheeled away quicker than thought, and as his charger took
long and desperate leaps down the slight declivity, he heard the
shouts of the Americans behind him, the crack of Job's rifle, and the
whizzing of the bullet which the changeling sent, as he had promised,
in a direction to do him no harm. On gaining a place of comparative
safety, he found Pitcairn in the act of abandoning his bleeding horse,
the close and bitter attacks of the Provincials rendering it no
longer safe for an officer to be seen riding on the flanks of the
detachment. Lionel, though he valued his steed highly, had also
received so many intimations of the dangerous notice he had attracted,
that he was soon obliged to follow this example, and he saw, with
deep regret, the noble animal scouring across the fields with a loose
rein, snorting and snuffing the tainted air. He now joined a party of
the combatants on foot, and continued to animate them to new exertions
during the remainder of the tedious way.
From the moment the spires of Boston met the view of the troops,
the struggle became intensely interesting. New vigour was imparted to
their weary frames by the cheering sight, and assuming once more the
air of high martial training, they bore up against the assaults of
their enemies with renewed spirit. On the other hand, the Americans
seemed aware that the moments of vengeance were passing swiftly away,
and boys, and grey-headed men, the wounded and the active, crowded
around their invaders, as if eager to obtain a parting blow. Even the
peaceful ministers of God were known to take the field on that
memorable occasion, and, mingling with their parishioners, to brave
every danger in a cause which they believed in consonance with their
holy calling. The sun was sinking over the land, and the situation of
the detachment had become nearly desperate, when Percy abandoned the
idea of reaching the Neck, across which he had proudly marched that
morning from Boston, and strained every nerve to get the remainder of
his command within the peninsula of Charlestown. THe crests and the
sides of the heights were alive with men, and as the shades of evening
closed about the combatants, the bosoms of the Americans beat high
with hope, while they witnessed the faltering steps and slackened fire
of the troops. But high discipline, finally so far prevailed as to
snatch the English from the very grasp of destruction, and enabled
them to gain the narrow entrance to the desired shelter, just as
night had come apparently to seal their doom.
Lionel stood leaning against a fence, as this fine body of men,
which a few hours before had thought themselves equal to a march
through the colonies, defiled slowly and heavily by him, dragging
their weary and exhausted limbs up the toilsome ascent of Bunker-Hill.
The haughty eyes of most of the officers were bent to the earth in
shame; and the common herd, even in that place of security, cast many
an anxious glance behind them, to assure themselves that the despised
inhabitants of the Province were no longer pressing on their
footsteps. Platoon after platoon passed, each man compelled to depend
on his own wearied limbs for support, until Lionel at last saw a
solitary horseman slowly ascending among the crowd. To his utter
amazement and great joy, as this officer approached, he beheld
Polwarth, mounted on his own steed, riding towards him, with a face of
the utmost complacency and composure. The dress of the captain was
torn in many places, and the housings of the saddle were cut into
ribands, while here and there a spot of clotted blood, on the sides
of the beast, served to announce the particular notice the rider had
received from the Americans. The truth was soon extorted from the
honest soldier. The love of life had returned with the sight of the
abandoned charger. He acknowledged it had cost him his watch to have
the beast caught; but once established in the saddle, no danger, nor
any remonstrances, could induce him to relinquish a seat which he
found so consoling after all the fatigue and motion of that evil day,
in which he had been compelled to share in the calamities of those who
fought on the side of the crown, in the memorable battle of Lexington.
"Fluel.—Is it not lawful, an' please your majesty, "To
tell how many is killed."
King Henry V.
While a strong party of the royal troops took post on the height
which commanded the approach to their position, the remainder
penetrated deeper into the peninsula, or were transported by the
boats of the fleet to the town of Boston. Lionel and Polwarth passed
the strait with the first division of the wounded, the former having
no duty to detain him any longer with the detachment, and the latter
stoutly maintaining that his corporeal sufferings gave him an
undoubted claim to include his case among the casualties of the day.
Perhaps no officer in the army of the king felt less chagrin at the
result of this inroad than Major Lincoln; for notwithstanding his
attachment to his Prince, and adopted country, he was keenly sensitive
on the subject of the reputation of his real countrymen; a sentiment
that is honourable to our nature, and which never deserts any that do
not become disloyal to its purest and noblest impulses. Even while he
regretted the price at which his comrades had been taught to
appreciate the characters of those whose long and mild forbearance
had been misconstrued into pusillanimity, he rejoiced that the eyes
of the more aged would now be opened to the truth, and that the mouths
of the young and thoughtless were to be for ever closed in shame.
Although the actual losses of the two detachments were probably
concealed from motives of policy, it was early acknowledged to amount
to about one-sixth of the whole number employed.
On the wharf, Lionel and Polwarth separated; the latter agreeing to
repair speedily to the private quarters of his friend, where he
promised himself a solace for the compulsory abstinence and
privations of his long march, and the former taking his way towards
Tremont-street, with a view to allay the uneasiness which the secret
and flattering whisperings of hope taught him to believe his fair
young kinswomen would feel in his behalf. At every corner he
encountered groups of earnest townsmen, listening with greedy ears to
the particulars of the contest, a few walking away dejected at the
spirit exhibited by that country they had villified to its oppressors,
but most of them regarding the passing form of one whose disordered
dress announced his participation in the affair, with glances of
stern satisfaction. As Lionel tapped at the door of Mrs. Lechmere, he
forgot his fatigue; and when it opened, and he beheld Cecil standing
in the hall, with every lineament of her fine countenance expressing
the power of her emotions, he no longer remembered those trying
dangers he had so lately escaped.
"Lionel!" exclaimed the young lady, clasping her hands with
joy—"himself, and unhurt!" The blood rushed from her heart across
her face to her forehead, and burying her shame in her hands, she
burst into a flood of tears, and fled his presence.
Agnes Danforth received him with undisguised pleasure, nor would
she indulge in a single question to appease her burning curiosity,
until thoroughly assured of his perfect safety. Then, indeed, she
remarked, with a smile of triumph seated on her arch features—
"Your march has been well attended, Major Lincoln; from the upper
windows I have seen some of the honours which the good people of the
Massachusetts have paid to their visiters."
"On my soul, if it were not for the dreadful consequences which
must follow, I rejoice as well as yourself, in the events of the day,"
said Lincoln; "for a people are never certain of their rights, until
they are respected."
"Tell me then all, cousin Lincoln, that I may know how to boast of
The young man gave her a short, but distinct and impartial account
of all that had occurred, to which his fair listener attended with
"Now, then," she exclaimed, as he ended, "there is an end for ever
of those biting taunts that have so long insulted our ears! But you
know," she added, with a slight blush, and a smile most comically
arch, "I had a double stake in the fortunes of the day—my country
and my true love!"
"Oh! be at ease; your worshipper has returned, whole in body, and
suffering in mind only through your cruelty—he performed the route
with wonderful address, and really showed himself a soldier in
"Nay, Major Lincoln," returned Agnes, still blushing, though she
laughed, "you do not mean to insinuate that Peter Polwarth has walked
forty miles between the rising and setting of the sun."
"Between two sun-sets he has done the deed, if you except a
trifling promenade à cheval, on my own steed, whom Jonathan
compelled me to abandon, and of whom he took, and maintained the
possession, too, in spite of dangers of every kind."
"Really," exclaimed the wilful girl, clasping her hands in affected
astonishment, though Lionel thought he could read inward satisfaction
at his intelligence—"the prodigies of the man exceed belief! one
wants the faith of father Abraham to credit such marvels! though,
after the repulse of two thousand British soldiers by a body of
husbandmen, I am prepared for an exceeding use of my credulity."
"The moment is then auspicious for my friend," whispered Lionel,
rising to follow the flitting form of Cecil Dynevor, which he saw
gliding into the opposite room, as Polwarth himself entered the
apartment—"credulity is said to be the great weakness of your sex,
and I must leave you a moment exposed to the failing, and that, too,
in the dangerous company of the subject of our discourse."
"Now would you give half your hopes of promotion, and all your
hopes of a war, captain Polwarth, to know in what manner your
character has been treated in your absence," cried Agnes, blushing
slightly. "I shall not, however, satisfy the cravings of your
curiosity, but let it serve as a stimulant to better deeds than have
employed you since we met last."
"I trust Lincoln has done justice to my service," returned the
good-humoured captain, "and that he has not neglected to mention the
manner in which I rescued his steed from the rebels."
"The what, sir," interrupted Agnes, with a frown—"how did you
style the good people of Massachusetts-Bay?"
"I should have said the excited dwellers in the land, I believe.
Ah! Miss Agnes, I have suffered this day as man never suffered before,
and all on your behalf—"
"On my behalf! your words require explanation, captain Polwarth."
"'Tis impossible," returned the captain— "there are feelings and
actions connected with the heart that will admit of no explanation.
All I know is, that I have suffered unutterably on your account,
to-day; and what is unutterable is in a great degree inexplicable."
"I shall set this down for what I understand occurs regularly in a
certain description of tête-à- têtes—the expression of an
unutterable thing! Surely, Major Lincoln had some reason to believe
he left me at the mercy of my credulity!"
"You slander your own character, fair Agnes," said Polwarth,
endeavouring to look piteously; "you are neither merciful nor
credulous, or you would long since have believed my tale, and taken
pity on my misery."
"Is not sympathy a sort—a kind—in short, is not sympathy a
dreadful symptom in a certain disease?" asked Agnes, resting her eyes
on the floor, and affecting a girlish embarrassment.
"Who can gainsay it!" cried the captain; "'tis the infallible way
for a young lady to discover the bent of her inclinations. Thousands
have lived in ignorance of their own affections until their
sympathies have been awakened. But what means the question, my fair
tormentor? May I dare to flatter myself that you at length feel for
"I am sadly afraid 'tis but too true, Polwarth," returned Agnes,
shaking her head, and continuing to look exceedingly grave.
Polwarth moved, with something like animation again, nigher to the
amused girl; and attempted to take her hand, as he said—
"You restore me to life with your sweet acknowledgments— I have
lived for six months like a dog under your frowns, but one kind word
acts like a healing balm, and restores me to myself again!"
"Then my sympathy is evaporated!" returned Agnes. "Throughout this
long and anxious day have I fancied myself older than my good, staid,
great-aunt; and whenever certain thoughts have crossed my mind, I have
even imagined a thousand of the ailings of age had encircled me—
rheumatisms, gouts, asthmas, and numberless other aches and pains,
exceedingly unbecoming to a young lady of nineteen. But you have
enlightened me, and given vast relief to my apprehensions, by
explaining it to be no more than sympathy. You see, Polwarth, what a
wife you will obtain, should I ever, in a weak moment, accept you,
for I have already sustained one-half your burthens!"
"A man is not made to be in constant motion, like the pendulum of
that clock, Miss Danforth, and yet feel no fatigue," said Polwarth,
more vexed than he would permit himself to betray; "yet I flatter
myself there is no officer in the light-infantry—you understand me
to say the light-infantry—who has passed over more ground within
four-and-twenty hours, than the man who hastens, notwithstanding his
exploits, to throw himself at your feet, even before he thinks of his
"Captain Polwarth," said Agnes, rising, "for the compliment, if
compliment it be, I thank you; but," she added, losing her affected
gravity in a strong natural feeling that shone in her dark eye, and
illuminated the whole of her fine countenance, as she laid her hand
impressively on her heart— "the man who will supplant the feelings
which nature has impressed here, must not come to my feet, as you
call it, from a field of battle, where he has been contending with my
kinsmen, and helping to enslave my country. You will excuse me, sir,
but as Major Lincoln is at home here, permit me, for a few minutes, to
leave you to his hospitality."
She withdrew as Lionel re-entered, passing him on the threshold.
"I would rather be a leader in a stage-coach, or a running footman,
than in love!" cried Polwarth— "'tis a dog's life, Leo, and this
girl treats me like a cart-horse! But what an eye she has! I could
have lighted my segar by it—my heart is a heap of cinders. Why, Leo,
what aileth thee! throughout the whole of this damnable day, I have
not before seen thee bear such a troubled look!"
"Let us withdraw to my private quarters," muttered the young man,
whose aspect and air expressed the marks of extreme
disturbance—"'tis time to repair the disasters of our march."
"All that has been already looked to," said Polwarth, rising and
limping, with sundry grimaces, in the best manner he was able, in a
vain effort to equal the rapid strides of his companion. "My first
business on leaving you was to borrow a conveyance of a friend, in
which I rode to your place; and my next was to write to little Jimmy
Craig, to offer an exchange of my company for his—for from this
hour henceforth I denounce all light-infantry movements, and shall
take the first opportunity to get back again into the dragoons, as
soon as I have effected which, major Lincoln, I propose to treat with
you for the purchase of that horse—after that duty was performed,
for, if self-preservation be commendable, it became a duty, I made
out a bill of fare for Meriton, in order that nothing might be
forgotten; after which, like yourself Lionel, I hastened to the feet
of my mistress—Ah! Major Lincoln, you are a happy man; for you,
there is no reception but smiles—and charms so"—
"Talk not to me sir, of smiles," interrupted Lionel, impatiently,
"nor of the charms of woman. They are all alike, capricious and
"Bless me!" exclaimed Polwarth, staring about him in wonder; "there
is then favour for none, in this place, who battle for the King!
There is a strange connexion between Cupid and Mars, love and war;
for here did I, after fighting all day like a Saracen, a Turk, Jenghis
Khan, or, in short, any thing but a good Christian, come with full
intent to make a serious offer of my hand, commission, and of
Polwarth-Hall, to that treasonable vixen, when she repulses me with a
frown and a sarcasm as biting as the salutation of a hungry man. But
what an eye the girl has, and what a bloom, when she is a little more
seasoned than common! Then you, too, Lionel, have been treated like a
"Like a fool, as I am," said Lionel, pacing haughtily over the
ground at a rate that soon threw his companion too far in the rear to
admit of further discourse until they reached the place of their
destination. Here, to the no small surprise of both gentlemen, they
found a company collected that neither was prepared to meet. At a
side-table, sat M'Fuse, discussing, with singular relish, some of the
cold viands of the previous night's repast, and washing down his
morsels with deep potations of the best wine of his host. In one
corner of the room, Seth Sage was posted, with the appearance of a
man in duresse, his hands being tied before him, from which depended a
long cord that might, on emergency, be made to serve the purpose of a
halter. Opposite to the prisoner, for such in truth he was, stood
Job, imitating the example of the Captain of Grenadiers, who now and
then tossed some fragment of his meal into the hat of the simpleton.
Meriton and several of the menials of the establishment were in
"What have we here!" cried Lionel, regarding the scene with a
curious eye; "of what offence has Mr. Sage been guilty, that he bears
"Of the small crimes of tr'ason and homicide," returned M'Fuse, "if
shooting at a man, with a hearty mind to kill him, can make a murder."
"It can't," said Seth, raising his eyes from the floor, where he
had hitherto kept them in demure silence; "a man must kill with wicked
intent to commit murder"—
"Hear to the blackguard, datailing the law as if he were my Lord
Chief Justice of the King's Bench!" interrupted the grenadier; "and
what was your own wicked intention, ye skulking vagabond, but to kill
me! I'll have you tried and hung for the same act."
"It's ag'in reason to believe that any jury will convict one man
for the murder of another that a'nt dead," said Seth—"there's no
jury to be found in the Bay-colony, to do it."
"Bay-colony! ye murdering thief and rebel!" cried the Captain;
"I'll have ye transported to England; ye shall be both transported and
hung. By the Lord, I'll carry ye back to Ireland with me, and I'll
hang ye up in the green Island itself, and bury ye, in the heart of
winter, in a bog"—
"But what is the offence," demanded Lionel, "that calls forth these
"The scoundrel has been out"—
"Ay, out—damn it, sir, has not the whole country been like so
many bees in search of a hive! Is your memory so short that ye
forget, already, Major Lincoln, the tramp the blackguards have given
you over hill and dale, through thick and thin?"
"And was Mr. Sage, then, found among our enemies to day?"—
"Didn't I see him pull trigger on my own stature, three times
within as many minutes!" returned the angry captain; "and didn't he
break the handle of my sword? and have not I a bit of lead he calls a
buck-shot in my shoulder as a present from the thief?"
"It's ag'in all law to call a man a thief," said Job, "unless you
can prove it upon him; but it an't ag'in law to go in and out of
Boston as often as you choose."
"Do you hear the rascals! They know every angle of the law as well,
or better than I do myself, who am the son of a Cork counsellor. I
dare to say, you were among them too, and that ye deserve the gallows
as well as your commendable companion, there."
"How is this!" said Lionel, turning quickly away from Job, with a
view to prevent a reply that might endanger the safety of the
changeling; "did you not only mingle in this rebellion, Mr. Sage, but
also attempt the life of a gentleman who may be said, almost, to be an
inmate of your own house?"
"I conclude," returned Seth, "it's best not to talk too much,
seeing that no one can foretell what may happen."
"Hear to the cunning reprobate! he has not the grace to acknowledge
his own sins, like an honest man," interrupted M`Fase; "but I can
save him that small trouble—I got tired, you must know Major
Lincoln, of being shot at like noxious vermin, from morning till
night, without making some return to the compliments of those
gentlemen who are out on the hills; and I took advantage of a turn,
ye see, to double on a party of the uncivilized demons; this lad,
here, got three good pulls at me, before we closed and made an end of
them with the steel, all but this fellow, who having a becoming look
for a gallows, I brought him in, as you see, for an exchange,
intending to hang him the first favourable opportunity."
"If this be true we must give him into the hands of the proper
authorities," said Lionel, smiling at the confused account of the
angry captain— "for it remains to be seen yet what course will be
adopted with the prisoners in this singular contest."
"I should think nothing of the matter," returned M`Fuse, "if the
reprobate had not tr'ated me like a beast of the field, with his
buck-shot, and taking his aim each time, as though I had been a
mad-dog. Ye villain, do you call yourself a man, and aim at a
fellow-creature as you would at a brute?"
"Why," said Seth, sullenly, "when a man has pretty much made up his
mind to fight, I conclude it's best to take aim, in order to save
ammunition and time."
"You acknowledge the charge, then!" demanded Lionel.
"As the major is a moderate man, and will hear to reason, I will
talk the matter over with him rationally," said Seth, disposing
himself to speak more to the purpose. "You see I had a small call to
Concurd early this morning"—
"Concord!" exclaimed Lionel—
"Yes, Concurd," returned Seth, laying great stress on the first
syllable, and speaking with an air of extreme innocence—"it lies
here-away, say twenty or one-and-twenty miles"—
"Damn your Concords and your miles too," cried Polwarth; "is there
a man in the army who can forget the deceitful place! Go on with your
defence, without talking to us of the distance, who have measured the
road by inches."
"The captain is hasty and rash!" said the deliberate
prisoner—"but being there, I went out of the town with some company
that I happened in with; and after a time we concluded to return—
and so, as we came to a bridge about a mile beyond the place, we
received considerable rough treatment from some of the king's troops,
who were standing there—"
"What did they?"
"They fired at us, and killed two of our company, besides other
threatening doings. There were some among us that took the matter up
in considerable earnest, and there was a sharp toss about it for a
few minutes; though finally the law prevailed."
"Certain—'tis ag'in all law, I believe the major will own, to
shoot peaceable men on the public highway!"
"Proceed with your tale in your own way."
"That is pretty much the whole of it," said Seth, warily. "The
people rather took that, and some other things that happened at
Lexington, to heart, and I suppose the major knows the rest."
"But what has all this to do with your attempt to murder me, you
hypocrite?" demanded M`Fuse—"confess the whole, ye thief, that I
may hang you with an aisy conscience."
"Enough," said Lionel; "the man has acknowledge sufficient already
to justify us in transferring him to the custody of others—let him
be taken to the main guard, and delivered as a prisoner of this day."
"I hope the major will look to the things," said Seth, who
instantly prepared to depart, but stopped on the threshold to
speak—"I shall hold him accountable for all."
"Your property shall be protected, and I hope your life may not be
in jeopardy," returned Lionel, waving his hand for those who guarded
him to proceed. Seth turned, and left his own dwelling with the same
quiet air which had distinguished him throughout the day; though there
were occasional flashes from his quick, dark eyes, that looked like
the glimmerings of a fading fire. Notwithstanding the threatening
denunciation he had encountered, he left the house with a perfect
conviction, that if his case were to be tried by those principles of
justice which every man in the Colony so well understood, it would be
found that both he and his fellows had kept thoroughly on the windy
side of the law.
During this singular and characteristic discourse, Polwarth, with
the solitary exception we have recorded, had employed his time in
forwarding the preparations for the banquet.
As Seth and his train disappeared, Lionel cast a furtive look at
Job, who was a quiet and apparently an undisturbed spectator of the
scene, and then turned his attention suddenly to his guests, as if
fearful the folly of the changeling might betray his agency also in
the deeds of the day. The simplicity of the lad, however, defeated
the kind intentions of the major, for he immediately observed, without
the least indication of fear—
"The king can't hang Seth Sage for firing back, when the rake-helly
soldiers began first."
"Perhaps you were out too, master Solomon," cried M`Fuse, "amusing
yourself at Concord, with a small party of select friends!"
"Job didn't go any further than Lexington," returned the lad, "and
he hasn't got any friend, except old Nab."
"The devil has possessed the minds of the people!" continued the
grenadier—"lawyers and doctors—praists and sinners—old and
young— big and little, beset us in our march, and here is a fool to
be added to the number! I dare say that fellow, now, has attempted
murder in his day too."
"Job scorns such wickedness," returned the unmoved simpleton; "he
only shot one granny, and hit an officer in the arm."
"D'ye hear that, Major Lincoln!" cried M'Fuse, jumping from the
seat, which, notwithstanding the bitterness of his language, he had
hitherto perseveringly maintained; "d'ye hear that shell of a man,
that effigy, boasting of having killed a grenadier!"
"Hold"—interrupted Lionel, arresting his excited companion by the
arm—"remember, we are soldiers, and that the boy is not a
responsible being. No tribunal would ever sentence such an
unfortunate creature to a gibbet; and in general he is as harmless as
"The devil burn such babes—a pretty fellow is he to kill a man of
six feet! and with a ducking gun I'll engage. I'll not hang the
rascal, Major Lincoln, since it is your particular wish—I'll only
have him buried alive."
Job continued perfectly unmoved in his chair, and the captain,
ashamed of his resentment against such unconscious imbecility, was
soon persuaded to abandon his intentions of revenge, though he
continued muttering his threats against the provincials, and his
denunciations against such "an unmanly spacies of warfare," until the
much-needed repast was ended.
Polwarth having restored the equilibrium of his system by a hearty
meal, hobbled to his bed, and M`Fuse, without any ceremony, took
possession of another of the apartments in the tenement of Mr. Sage.
The servants withdrew to their own entertainment, and Lionel, who had
been sitting for the last half hour in melancholy silence, now
unexpectedly found himself alone with the changeling. Job had waited
for this moment with exceeding patience, but when the door closed on
Meriton, who was the last to retire, he made a movement that indicated
some communication of more than usual importance, and succeeded in
attracting the attention of his companion.
"Foolish boy!" exclaimed Lionel, as he met the unmeaning eye of the
other, "did I not warn you that wicked men might endanger your life!
how was it that I saw you in arms to-day, against the troops?"
"How came the troops in arms ag'in Job?" returned the
changeling—"they needn't think to wheel about the Bay-Province,
clashing their godless drums and trumpets, burning housen, and
shooting people, and find no stir about it!"
"Do you know that your life has been twice forfeited within twelve
hours, by your own confession; once for murder, and again for treason
against your king? You have acknowledged killing a man!"
"Yes," said the lad, with undisturbed simplicity, "Job shot the
granny; but he didn't let the people kill Major Lincoln."
"True, true," said Lionel, hastily—"I owe my life to you, and
that debt shall be cancelled at every hazard. But why have you put
yourself into the hands of your enemies so thoughtlessly— what
brings you here to-night?"
"Ralph told me to come; and if Ralph told Job to go into the king's
parlour, he would go."
"Ralph!" exclaimed Lionel, stopping in his hurried walk across the
room, and where is he?"
"In the old ware-'us', and he has sent me to tell you to come to
him—and what Ralph says must be done."
"He here too! is the man crazed—would not his fears teach him—"
"Fears!" interrupted Job, with singular disdain— "you can't
frighten Ralph! The grannies couldn't frighten him, nor the
light-infantry couldn't hit him, though he eat nothing but their
smoke the whole day—Ralph's a proper warrior!"
"And he waits me, you say, in the tenement of your mother?"
"Job don't know what tenement means, but he's in the old ware-'us'."
"Come, then," said Lionel, taking his hat, "let us go to him—I
must save him from the effects of his own rashness, though it cost my
He left the room while speaking, and the simpleton followed close
at his heels, well content with having executed his mission without
encountering any greater difficulties.
"This play is the image of a murder done in Vienna: "Gonzago is the
Duke's name; his wife, Baptista: "You shall see, anon; 'tis a knavish
piece of work."
The agitation and deep excitement produced by the events of the
day, had not yet subsided in the town, when Lionel found himself again
in its narrow streets. Men passed swiftly by him, as if bent on some
unusual and earnest business; and more than once the young soldier
detected the triumphant smiles of the women, as they looked curiously
out on the scene, from their half-open windows, and their eyes
detected the professional trappings of his dress. Strong bodies of
the troops were marching in different directions, and in a manner
which denoted that the guards were strengthening, while the few
solitary officers he met watched his approaching figure with cautious
jealousy, as if they apprehended a dangerous enemy in every form they
The gates of Province-house were open, and, as usual, guarded by
armed men. As Lionel passed leisurely along, he perceived that the
grenadier to whom he had spoken on the preceding evening, again held
his watch before the portal of the governors.
"Your experience did not deceive you, my old comrade," said Lionel,
lingering a moment to address him—"we have had a warm day."
"So it is reported in the barracks, your honour," returned the
soldier—"our company was not ordered out, and we are to stand double
duty. I hope to God the next time there is any thing to do, the
grenadiers of the—th may not be left behind—it would have been for
the credit of the army had they been in the field to-day."
"Why do you think so, my veteran? The men who were out are thought
to have behaved well; but it was impossible to make head against a
multitude in arms."
"It is not my place, your honour, to say this man did well, and
that man behaved amiss," returned the proud old soldier; "but when I
hear of two thousand British troops turning their backs, or
quickening their march before all the rabble this country can muster,
I want the fank companies of the—th to be at hand, if it should be
only that I may say I have witnessed the disgraceful sight with my
"There is no disgrace where there is no misconduct," said Lionel.
"There must have been misconduct somewhere, your honour, or such a
thing could not have happened—consider, your honour, the very
flower of the army! Something must have been wrong, and although I
could see the latter part of the business from the hills, I can hardly
believe it to be true." As he concluded, he shook his head, and
continued his steady pace along his allotted ground, as if unwilling
to pursue the humiliating subject any further. Lionel passed slowly
on, musing on that deep-rooted prejudice, which had even taught this
humble menial of the crown to regard with contempt a whole nation,
because they were believed to be dependants.
The dock-square was stiller than usual, and the sounds of revelry,
which it was usual to hear at that hour from the adjacent
drinking-houses, were no longer audible. The moon had not yet risen,
and Lionel passed under the dark arches of the market with a quick
step, as he now remembered that one in whom he felt so deep an
interest awaited his appearance. Job, who had followed in silence,
glided by him on the drawbridge, and stood holding the door of the old
building in his hand, when he reached its threshold. Lionel found the
large space in the centre of the warehouse, as usual, dark and empty,
though the dim light of a candle glimmered through the fissures in a
partition which separated an apartment in one of the little towers
that was occupied by Abigail Pray, from the ruder parts of the
edifice. Low voices were also heard issuing from this room, and Major
Lincoln, supposing he should find the old man and the mother of Job in
conference together, turned to request the lad would precede him, and
announce his name. But the changeling had also detected the whispering
sounds, and it would seem with a more cunning ear, for he turned and
darted through the door of the building with a velocity that did not
abate until Lionel, who watched his movements with amazement, saw his
shuffling figure disappear among the shambles of the market-place.
Thus deserted by his guide, Lionel groped his way towards the place
where he believed he should find the door which led into the tower.
The light deceived him, for as he approached it, his eye glanced
through one of the crevices of the wall, and he again became an
unintentional witness of another of those interviews which evinced the
singular and mysterious affinity between the fortunes of the affluent
and respected Mrs. Lechmere and the miserable tenant of the warehouse.
Until that moment, the hurry of events, and the crowd of reflections
which had rushed over the mind of the young man throughout the busy
time of the last twenty-four hours, had prevented his recalling the
hidden meaning of the singular discourse of which he had already been
an auditor. But now, when he found his aunt led into these haunts of
beggary, by a feeling he was not weak enough to attribute to her
charity, he stood rooted to the spot by a curiosity, which, at the
same time that he found it irresistible, he was willing to excuse,
under a strong impression that these private communications were in
some way connected with himself.
Mrs. Lechmere had evidently muffled her person in a manner that was
intended to conceal this mysterious visit from any casual observer of
her movements; but the hoops of her large calash were now so far
raised as to admit a distinct view of her withered features, and of
the hard eye which shot forth its selfish, worldly glances, from amid
the surrounding decay of nature. She was seated, both in indulgence
to her infirmities, and from that assumption of superiority she never
neglected in the presence of her inferiors, while her companion stood
before her, in an attitude that partook more of restraint than of
"Your weakness, foolish woman," said Mrs. Lechmere, in those stern,
repulsive tones she so well knew how to use when she wished to
intimidate, "will yet prove your ruin. You owe it to respect for
yourself, to your character, and even to your safety, that you should
exhibit more firmness, and show yourself above this weak and idle
"My ruin! and my character!" returned Abigail, looking about her
with a haggard eye and a trembling lip; "what is ruin, Madam Lechmere,
if this poverty be not called so! or what loss of character can bring
upon me more biting scorn than I am now ordained to suffer for my
"Perhaps," said Mrs. Lechmere, endeavouring to affect a kinder
tone, though dislike was still too evident in her manner, "in the
hurry of my grandnephew's reception, I have forgotten my usual
The woman took the piece of silver which Mrs. Lechmere slowly
placed in her hand, and held it in her open palm for several moments,
regarding it with a vacant look, which the other mistook for
"The troubles, and the decreasing value of property, have sensibly
affected my income," continued the richly clad and luxurious Mrs.
Lechmere; "but if that should be too little for your immediate wants,
I will add to it another crown."
"'Twill do—'twill do," said Abigail, cleaching her hand over the
money, with a grasp that was convulsive—"yes, yes, 'twill do. Oh!
Madam Lechmere, humbling and sinful as that wicked passion is, would
to God that no motive worse than avarice had proved my ruin!"
Lionel thought his aunt cast an uneasy and embarrassed glance at
her companion, which he construed into an expression that betrayed
there were secrets even between these strange confidants; but the
momentary surprise exhibited in her features, soon gave place to her
habitual look of guarded and severe formality; and she replied, with
an air of coldness, as if she would repulse any approach to an
acknowledgment of their common transgression—
"The woman talks like one who is beside herself! of what crime has
she been guilty, but such as those to which our nature is liable!"
"True, true," said Abigail Pray, with a half-stifled, hysterical
laugh—"'tis our guilty, guilty nature, as you say. But I grow
nervous, I believe, as I grow old and feeble, Madam Lechmere; and I
often forget myself. The sight of the grave so very near, is apt to
bring thoughts of repentance to such as are more hardened even than I."
"Foolish girl!" said Mrs. Lechmere, endeavouring to skreen her
pallid features, by drawing down her calash, with a hand that trembled
more with terror than with age, "why should you speak thus freely of
death, who are but a child!"
Lionel heard the faltering, husky tones of his aunt, as they
appeared to die in her throat, but nothing more was distinctly
audible, until, after a long pause, she raised her face, and looked
about her again with her severe, unbending eye, and continued—
"Enough of this folly, Abigail Pray—I have come to learn more of
your strange inmate—"
"Oh! 'tis not enough, Madam Lechmere," interrupted the
conscience-stricken woman; "we have so little time left us for
penitence and prayer, that there never can be enough, I fear, to
answer our mighty transgressions. Let us speak of the grave, Madam
Lechmere, while we can yet do it on this side of eternity."
"Ay! speak of the grave, while out of its damp cloisters; 'tis the
home of the aged," said a third voice, whose hollow tones might well
have issued from some tomb, "and I am here to join in the wholesome
"Who—who—in the name of God, who art thou!" exclaimed Mrs.
Lechmere, forgetting her infirmities, and her secret compunctions, in
new emotions, and rising involuntarily from her seat; "tell me, I
conjure thee, who art thou?"
"One, aged like thyself, Priscilla Lechmere, and standing on the
threshold of that final home of which you would discourse. Speak on,
then, ye widowed women; for if ever ye have done aught that calls for
forgiveness, 'tis in the grave ye shall find the heavenly gift of
mercy offered to your unworthiness."
By changing the position of his body a little, Lionel was now
enabled to command a view of the whole apartment. In the door-way
stood Ralph, immovable in his attitude, with one hand raised high
towards heaven, and the other pointing impressively downward, as if
about to lay bare the secrets of that tomb of which his wasted limbs,
and faded lineaments marked him as a fit tenant, while his searching
eye-balls glared about him, from the face of one to the other, with
that look of quickness and penetration, that Abigail Pray had so well
described as `scorching.' Within a few feet of the old man, Mrs.
Lechmere remained standing, rigid and motionless as marble, her calash
fallen back, and her death-like features exposed, with horror and
astonishment rooted in every muscle, as with open mouth, and eyes
riveted on the intruder, she gazed as steadily as if placed in that
posture by the chisel of the statuary. Abigail shaded her eyes with
her hand, and buried her face in the folds of her garments, while
strong convulsive shudderings ran through her frame, and betrayed the
extent of the emotions she endeavoured to conceal. Amazed at what he
had witnessed, and concerned for the apparent insensibility of his
aunt, whose great age rendered such scenes dangerous, Lionel was about
to rush into the apartment, when Mrs. Lechmere so far recovered her
faculties as to speak, and the young man lost every consideration in a
burning curiosity, which was powerfully justified by his situation.
"Who is it that calls me by the name of Priscilla?" said Mrs.
Lechmere; "none now live who can claim to be so familiar."
"Priscilla—Priscilla," repeated the old man, looking about him,
as if he would require the presence of another; "it is a soft and
pleasant sound to my ears, and there is one that owns it besides
thee, as thou knowest."
"She is dead; years have gone by since I saw her in her coffin; and
I would forget her, and all like her, who have proved unworthy of my
not dead!"—shouted the old man, in a voice that
rung through the naked rafters of the edifice like the unearthly tones
of some spirit of the air; "she lives—she lives—ay! she yet
"Lives!" repeated Mrs. Lechmere, recoiling a step before the
forward movement of the other; "why am I so weak as to listen! 'tis
"Lives!" exclaimed Abigail Pray, clasping her hands with agony;
"Oh! would to God she did live! but did I not see her a bloated,
disfigured corpse! did I not with these very hands place the
grave-clothes about her once lovely frame! Oh! no—she is
dead—dead—and I am a"—
"'Tis. some madman that asserts these idle tales," exclaimed Mrs.
Lechmere, with a quickness that interrupted the criminal epithet the
other was about to apply to herself. "The unfortunate girl is long
since dead, as we know; why should we reason with a maniac?"
"Maniac!" repeated Ralph, with an expression of the most taunting
irony; "no—no—no— such an one there is, as you and I well know,
but 'tis not I who am mad—thou art rather crazed thyself, woman;
thou hast made one maniac already, wouldst thou make another?"
"I!" said Mrs. Lechmere, without quailing before the ardent look
she encountered—"that God who bestows reason, recalls his gift at
will; 'tis not I who exercise such power."
"How say'st thou, Priscilla Lechmere?" cried Ralph, stepping with
an inaudible tread so nigh as to grasp, unperceived, her motionless
arm with his own wasted fingers; "yes—I will call thee Priscilla,
little as thou deservest such a holy name— dost thou deny the power
to craze—where, then, is the head of thy boasted race? the proud
Baronet of Devonshire, the wealthy, and respected, and once happy
companion of Princes—thy nephew Lionel Lincoln? Is he in the halls
of his fathers? leading the armies of his king?—ruling and
protecting his household?—or is he the tenant of a gloomy
cell?—thou knowest he is— thou knowest he is—and, woman, thy
vile machinations have placed him there!"
"Who is it that dare thus speak to me!" demanded Mrs. Lechmere,
rallying her faculties with a mighty effort, to look down this
charge— "if my unhappy nephew is indeed known to thee, thy own
knowledge will refute this base accusation"—
"Known to me! I would ask what is hid from me? I have looked at
thee, and observed thy conduct, woman, for the life of man, and
nothing that thou hast done is bid from me—I tell thee, I know all.
Of this sinful woman here also, I know all—have I not told thee,
Abigail Pray, of thy most secret transgressions?"
"Oh! yes—yes; he is indeed acquainted with what I had thought was
now concealed from every eye but that of God"—cried Abigail, with
"Nor of thee am I ignorant, thou miserable widow of John Lechmere;
and of Priscilla, too, do I not know all?"—
"All!" again exclaimed Abigail—
"All!" repeated Mrs. Lechmere in a voice barely audible, when she
sunk back in her chair, in a state of total insensibility. The
breathless interest he felt in all that had passed, could detain
Lionel no longer from rushing to the assistance of his aunt. Abigail
Pray, who, it would seem, had been in some measure accustomed to such
scenes with her lodger, retained, however, sufficient self-command to
anticipate his motions, and when he had gained the door he found her
already supporting, and making the usual applications to Mrs.
Lechmere. It became necessary to divest the sufferer of part of her
attire, and Abigail assuring Lionel of her perfect competency to act
by herself, requested him to withdraw, not only on that account, but
because she felt assured that nothing could prove more dangerous to
her reviving patient, than his unexpected presence. After lingering a
moment, until he witnessed the signs of returning life, Lionel
complied with the earnest entreaties of the woman; and leaving the
room, he groped his way to the foot of the ladder, with a
determination to ascend to the apartment of Ralph, in order to demand
at once an explanation of what he had just seen and heard. He found
the old man seated in his little tower, his hand shading his eyes from
the feeble light of the miserable candle, and his head drooping upon
his bosom, like one in pensive musing. Lionel approached him, without
appearing to attract his attention, and was compelled to speak, in
order to announce his presence.
"I have received your summons, by Job," he said, "and have obeyed
" 'Tis well," returned Ralph.
"Perhaps I should add that I have been an astonished witness of
your interview with Mrs. Lechmere, and have heard the bold and
unaccountable language you have seen proper to use to that lady."
The old man now raised his head, and Lionel saw the bright rays
from his eyes quicken, as he answered—
"You then heard the truth, and witnessed its effects on a guilty
"I also heard what you call the truth, in connexion, as you know,
with the names most dear to me."
"Art certain of it, boy?" returned Ralph, looking the other
steadily in the face; "has no other become dearer to you, of late,
than the authors of your being— speak, and remember that you answer
one of no common knowledge."
"What mean you, sir! is it in nature to love any as we do a parent?"
"Away with this childish simplicity," continued the other sternly;
"the grandchild of that wretched woman below—do you not love her,
and can I put trust in thee!"
"What trust is there incompatible with affection for a being so
pure as Cecil Dynevor?"
"Ay," murmured the old man in an under tone, "her mother
pure, and why may not the child be worthy of its parentage?" He
paused, and a long, and on the part of Lionel, a painful and
embarrassed silence succeeded, which was at length broken by Ralph,
who said, abruptly— "you were in the field to-day, Major Lincoln!"
"Of that you must be certain, as I owe my life to your kind
interposition. But why have you braved the danger of an arrest, by
trusting your person in the power of the troops? Your presence and
activity among the Americans must be known to many in the army besides
"And would they think of searching for their enemies within the
streets of Boston, when the hills without are filling with armed men!
My residence in this building is known only to the woman below, who
dare not betray me, her worthy son, and to you. My movements are
secret and sudden when men least expect them. Danger cannot touch
such as I."
"But," said Lionel, hesitating with embarrassment, "ought I to
conceal the presence of one whom I know to be inimical to my king?"—
"Lionel Lincoln, you overrate your courage," interrupted Ralph,
smiling in scorn—"you dare not shed the blood of him who has spared
your own;—but enough of this—we understand each other, and one
old as I should be a stranger to fear?"
"No, no," said a low, solemn voice, from a dark corner of the
apartment, where Job had stolen unseen, and was now nestled in
security— "you can't frighten Ralph!"
"The boy is a worthy boy, and he knows good from evil; what more is
necessary to man in this wicked world!" muttered Ralph, in those quick
and indistinct tones that characterized his manner.
"Whence came you, fellow, and why did you abandon me so abruptly?"
"Job has just been into the market to see if he couldn't find
something that might be good for Nab," returned the lad.
"Think not to impose on me with this nonsense! Is food to be
purchased at any hour of the night, though you had the means!"
"Now that is convincing the king's officers don't know every
thing," said the simpleton, laughing within himself—"here's as good
a pound bill, old tenor, as was ever granted by the Bay-Colony, and
meat's no such rarity, that a man, who has a pound-bill, old tenor, in
his pocket, can't go under old Funnel when he pleases, for all their
acts of parliament."
"You have plundered the dead!" cried Lionel, observing that Job
exhibited in his hand several pieces of silver, besides the note he
"Don't call Job a thief!" said the lad, with a threatening air;
"there's law in the Bay yet, though the people don't use it; and right
will be done to all, when the time comes. Job shot a granny, but he's
"You were then paid for your secret errand, last night, foolish
boy; and have been tempted to run into danger by money. Let it be the
last time—in future, when you want, come to me for assistance."
"Job won't go of a'r'nds for the king if he'd give him his golden
crown, with all its di'monds and flauntiness, unless Job pleases, for
there's no law for it."
Lionel, with a view to appease the irritated lad, now made a few
kind and conciliating remarks, but the changeling did not deign to
reply, falling back in his corner in a sullen manner, as if he would
repair the fatigue of the day by a few moments of sleep. In the mean
time, Ralph had sunk into a profound reverie, when the young soldier
remembered that the hour was late, and he had yet obtained no
explanation of the mysterious charges. He therefore alluded to the
subject, in a manner which he thought best adapted to obtain the
desired intelligence. The instant Lionel mentioned the agitation of
his aunt, his companion raised his head again, and a smile like that
of fierce exultation lighted the wan face of the old man, who
answered, pointing with an emphatic gesture to his own bosom—
"'Twas here, boy, 'twas here—nothing short of the power of
conscience, and a knowledge like that of mine, could strike that woman
speechless in the presence of any thing human."
"But what is this extraordinary knowledge? I am in some degree the
natural protector of Mrs. Lechmere, and independent of my individual
interest in your secret, have a right, in her behalf, to require an
explanation of such serious allegations."
"In her behalf!" repeated Ralph. "Wait, impetuous young man, until
she bids you push the inquiry—it shall then be answered, in a voice
"If not in justice to my aged aunt, at least remember your repeated
promises to unfold that sad tale of my own domestic sorrows, of which
you claim to be the master."
"Ay, of that, and much more, am I in possession," returned the old
man, smiling, as if conscious of his knowledge and power; "if you
doubt it, descend and ask the miserable tenant of this warehouse—or
the guilty widow of John Lechmere."
"Nay, I doubt nothing but my own patience; the moments fly swiftly,
and I have yet to learn all I wish to know."
"This is neither the time, nor is it the place, where you are to
hear the tale," returned Ralph; "I have already said that we shall
meet beyond the colleges for that purpose."
"But after the events of this day, who can tell when it will be in
the power of an officer of the crown to visit the colleges in safety?"
"What!" cried the old man, laughing aloud, in the bitterness of his
scorn "has the boy found the strength and the will of the despised
colonists so soon! But I pledge to thee my word, that thou shalt yet
see the place, and in safety.—Yes, yes, Priscilla Lechmere, thy hour
is at hand, and thy doom is sealed for ever!"
Lionel again mentioned his aunt, and alluded to the necessity of
his soon rejoining her, as he already heard footsteps below, which
indicated that preparations were making for her departure. But his
petitions and remonstrances were now totally unheeded, his aged
companion was pacing swiftly up and down his small apartment,
muttering incoherent sentences, in which the name of Priscilla was
alone audible, and his countenance betraying the inward workings of
absorbing and fierce passions. In a few moments more, the shrill
voice of Abigail was heard calling upon her son, in a manner which
plainly denoted her knowledge that the changeling was concealed
somewhere about the building. Job heard her calls repeated, until the
tones of her voice became angry and threatening, when he stole slowly
from his corner, and moved towards the ladder, with a sunken brow and
lingering steps. Lionel now knew not how to act. His aunt was still
ignorant of his presence, and he thought if Abigail Pray had wished
him to appear, he would in some manner be soon included in the
summons. He had also his own secret reasons for wishing his visits to
Ralph unknown; accordingly, he determined to watch the movements
below, under the favour of the darkness, and to be governed entirely
by circumstances. He took no leave of his companion on departing, for
long use had so far accustomed him to the eccentric manner of the old
man, that he well knew any attempt to divert his attention from his
burning thoughts, would be futile at a moment of such intense
From the head of the ladder where Lionel took his stand, he saw
Mrs. Lechmere, preceded by Job with a lantern, walking with a firmer
step than he could have hoped for, towards the door, and he overheard
Abigail cautioning her wilful son to light her visiter to a
neighbouring corner, where it appeared a conveyance was in waiting.
On the threshold, his aunt turned, and the light from the candle of
Abigail falling on her features, Lionel caught a full view of her
cold, hard eye, which had regained all its worldly expression, though
softened a little by a deeper shade of thought than usual.
"Let the scene of to-night be forgotten, my good Abigail," she
said. "Your lodger is a nameless being, who has gleaned some idle
tale, and wishes to practise on our credulity to enrich himself. I
will consider more of it; but on no account do you hold any further
communion with him—I must remove you, my trusty woman; this
habitation is unworthy of you, and of your dutiful son, too—I must
see you better lodged, my good Abigail, indeed I must."
Lionel could distinguish the slight shudder that passed through the
frame of her companion, as she alluded to the doubtful character of
Ralph; but without answering, Abigail held the door open for the
departure of her guest. The instant Mrs. Lechmere disappeared, Lionel
glided down the ladder, and stood before the astonished woman.
"When I tell you I have heard all that passed to-night," he
abruptly said, "you will see the folly of any further attempt at
concealment—I now demand so much of your secret as affects the
happiness of me or mine."
"No—no—not of me, Major Lincoln," said the terrified
female—"not of me, for the love of God, not of me—I have sworn to
keep it, and one oath—" her emotions choked her, and her voice
Lionel regretted his vehemence, and ashamed to extort a confession
from a woman, he attempted to pacify her feelings, promising to
require no further communication at that time.
"Go—go"—she said, motioning him to depart, "and I shall be well
again—leave me, and then I shall be alone with that terrible old
man, and my God!"
Perceiving her earnestness, he reluctantly complied, and meeting
Job on the threshold, he ceased to feel any further uneasiness for her
During his rapid walk to Tremont-street, Major Lincoln thought
intently on all he had heard and witnessed. He remembered the
communications by which Ralph had attained such a powerful interest
in his feelings, and he fancied he could discover a pledge of the
truth of the old man's knowledge in the guilt betrayed by the manner
of his aunt. From Mrs. Lechmere his thoughts recurred to her lovely
grandchild, and for a moment he was perplexed, by endeavouring to
explain her contradictory deportment towards himself;— at one time
she was warm, frank, and even affectionate; and at another, as in the
short and private interview of that very evening, cold, constrained,
and repulsive. Then, again, he recollected the object which had
chiefly induced him to follow his regiment to his native country, and
the recollection was attended by that shade of dejection which such
reflections never failed to cast across his intelligent features. On
reaching the house, he ascertained the safe return of Mrs. Lechmere,
who had already retired to her room, attended by her lovely
relatives. Lionel immediately followed their example, and as the
excitement of that memorable and busy day subsided, it was succeeded
by a deep sleep, that fell on his senses like the forgetfulness of
"Now let it work: Mischief thou art afoot, "Take thou what course
The alarm of the inroad passed swiftly by the low shores of the
Atlantic, and was heard echoing among the rugged mountains west of
the rivers, as if borne along on a whirlwind. The male population,
between the rolling waters of Massachusetts-Bay and the limpid stream
of the Connecticut, rose as one man; and as the cry of blood was
sounded far inland, the hills and valleys, the highways and footpaths,
were seen covered with bands of armed husbandmen, pressing eagerly
toward the scene of the war. Within eight-and-forty hours after the
fatal meeting at Lexington, it was calculated that more than a
hundred thousand men were in arms; and near one-fourth of that number
was gathered before the Peninsulas of Boston and Charlestown. They
who were precluded by distance, and a want of military provisions to
support such a concourse, from participating in the more immediate
contest, lay by in expectation of the arrival of that moment when
their zeal might also be put to severer trials. In short, the sullen
quietude in which the colonies had been slumbering for a year, was
suddenly and rudely broken by the events of that day; and the
patriotic among the people rose with such a cry of indignation on
their lips, that the disaffected, who were no insignificant class in
the more southern provinces, were compelled to silence, until the
first burst of revolutionary excitement had an opportunity to
subside, under the never-failing influence of time and suffering.
Gage, secure in his positions, and supported by a constantly
increasing power, as well as the presence of a formidable fleet,
looked on the gathering storm with a steady eye, and with that
calmness which distinguished the mild benevolence of his private
character. Though the attitude and the intentions of the Americans
could no longer be mistaken, he listened with reluctant ears to the
revengeful advice of his counsellors, and rather strove to appease the
tumult, than to attempt crushing it by a force, which, though a month
before, it had been thought equal to the united power of the peaceful
colonists, he now prudently deemed no more than competent to protect
itself within its watery boundaries. Proclamations were, however,
fulminated against the rebels; and such other measures as were thought
indispensable to assert the dignity and authority of the crown, were
promptly adopted. Of course, these harmless denunciations were
disregarded, and all his exhortations to return to an allegiance
which the people still denied had ever been impaired, were lost amid
the din of arms, and the popular cries of the time. These appeals of
the British General, as well as sundry others, made by the royal
governors who yet held their rule throughout all the provinces, except
the one in which the scene of our tale is laid, were answered by the
people in humble, but manly petitions to the throne for justice; and
in loud remonstrances to the Parliament, requiring to be restored to
the possession of those rights and immunities which should be secured
to all who enjoyed the protection of their common constitution. Still
the power and prerogatives of the Prince were deeply respected, and
were alluded to, in all public documents, with the veneration which
was thought due to the sacredness of his character and station. But
that biting, though grave sarcasm which the colonists knew so well how
to use, was freely expended on his ministers, who were accused of
devising the measures so destructive to the peace of the empire. In
this manner passed some weeks after the series of skirmishes which
were called the battle of Lexington, from the circumstance of
commencing at the hamlet of that name, both parties continuing to
prepare for a mightier exhibition of their power and daring.
Lionel had by no means been an unconcerned spectator of these
preparations. The morning after the return of the detachment, he
applied for a command, equal to his just expectations. But while he
was complimented on the spirit and loyalty he had manifested on the
late occasion, it was intimated to the young man that he might be of
more service to the cause of his Prince, by devoting his time to the
cultivation of his interest among those powerful colonists with whom
his family was allied by blood, or connected by long and close
intimacies. It was even submitted to his own judgment whether it
would not be well, at some auspicious moment, to trust his person
without the defences of the army, in the prosecution of this
commendable design. There was so much that was flattering to the
self-love, and soothing to the pride of the young soldier, artfully
mingled with these ambiguous proposals, that he became content to
await the course of events, having, however, secured a promise of
obtaining a suitable military command in the case of further
hostilities. That such an event was at hand, could not well be
concealed from one much less observing than Major Lincoln.
Gage had already abandoned his temporary position in Charlestown,
for the sake of procuring additional security by concentrating his
force. From the hills of the Peninsula of Boston, it was apparent
that the colonists were fast assuming the front of men who were
resolved to beleaguer the army of the King. Many of the opposite
heights were already crowned with hastily-formed works of earth, and
a formidable body of these unpractised warriors had set themselves
boldly down before the entrance to the isthmus, cutting off all
communication with the adjacent country, and occupying the little
village of Roxbury, directly before the muzzles of the British guns,
with a hardiness that would not have disgraced men much longer tried
in the field, and more inured to its dangers.
The surprise created in the army by these appearances of skill and
spirit among the hitherto despised Americans, in some measure ceased
when the rumour spread itself in their camp, that many gentlemen of
the Provinces, who had served with credit in the forces of the crown,
at former periods, were mingled with the people in stations of
responsibility and command. Among others, Lionel heard the names of
Ward and Thomas; men of liberal attainments, and of some experience
in arms. Both were regularly commissioned by the Congress of the
colony as leaders of their forces; and under their orders were
numerous regiments duly organized; possessing all the necessary
qualifications of soldiers, excepting the two indispensible requisites
of discipline and arms. Lionel heard the name of Warren mentioned
oftener than any other in the circles of Province-house, and with
that sort of bitterness, which, even while it bespoke their
animosity, betrayed the respect of his enemies. This gentleman, who,
until the last moment had braved the presence of the royal troops,
and fearlessly advocated his principles, while encircled with their
bayonets, was now known to have suddenly disappeared from among them,
abandoning home, property, and a lucrative profession; and by sharing
in the closing scenes of the day of Lexington, to have fairly cast
his fortunes on the struggle. But the name which in secret possessed
the greatest charm for the ear of the young British soldier, was that
of Putnam, a yeoman of the neighbouring colony of Connecticut, who, as
the uproar of the alarm whirled by him, literally deserted his
plough, and mounting a beast from its team, made an early halt, after
a forced march of a hundred miles, in the foremost ranks of his
countrymen. While the name of this sturdy American was passing in
whispers among the veterans who crowded the levees of Gage, a flood of
melancholy and tender recollections flashed through the brain of the
young man. He remembered the frequent and interesting communications
which in his boyhood, he had held with his own father, before the
dark shade had passed across the reason of Sir Lionel, and, in every
tale of murderous combats with the savage tenants of the wilds, in
each scene of danger and of daring that had distinguished the romantic
warfare of the wilderness, and even in strange and fearful encounters
with the beasts of the forest, the name of this man was blended with a
species of chivalrous fame that is seldom obtained in an enlightened
age, and never undeservedly. The great wealth of the family of
Lincoln, and the high expectations of its heir, had obtained for the
latter a military rank which at that period was rarely enjoyed by any
but such as had bought the distinction by long and arduous services.
Consequently, many of his equals had shared in those trials of his
father, in which the `Lion heart' of America had been so conspicuous
for his deeds. By these grave veterans, who should know him best, the
name of Putnam was always mentioned with strong and romantic
affection; and when the notable scheme of detaching him, by the
promise of office and wealth, from the cause of the colonists was
proposed by the cringing counsellors who surrounded the
commander-in-chief, it was listened to with a contemptuous incredulity
by the former associates of the old partisan, that the result of the
plan fully justified. Similar inducements were offered to others among
the Americans, whose talents were thought worthy of purchase; but so
deep root had the principles of the day taken, that not a man of any
note was found to listen to the proposition.
While these subtle experiments were adopted in the room of more
energetic measures, troops continued to arrive from England, and,
before the end of May, many leaders of renown appeared in the
councils of Gage, who now possessed a disposable force of not less
than eight thousand bayonets. With the appearance of these
reinforcements, the fallen pride of the army began to revive, and the
spirits of the haughty young men who had so recently left the gay
parades of their boasted island, were chafed by the reflection that
such an army should be cooped within the narrow limits of the
peninsula by a band of half-armed husbandmen, destitute alike of the
knowledge of war and of most of its munitions. This feeling was
increased by the taunts of the Americans themselves, who now turned
the tables on their adversaries, applying, among other sneers, the
term of "elbowroom" freely to Burgoyne, one of those chieftains of
the royal army, who had boasted unwittingly of the intention of
himself and his compeers, to widen the limits of the army immediately
on their arrival at the scene of the contest. The aspect of things
within the Briish camp began to indicate, however, that their leaders
were serious in the intention to extend their possessions, and all
eyes were again turned to the heights of Charlestown, the spot most
likely to be first occupied.
No military positions could be more happily situated, as respects
locality, to support each other, and to extend and weaken the lines of
their enemies, than the two opposite peninsulas so often mentioned.
The distance between them was but six hundred yards, and the deep and
navigable waters by which they were nearly surrounded, rendered it
easy for the royal general to command, at any time, the assistance of
the heaviest vessels of the fleet, in defending either place. With
these advantages before them, the army gladly heard those orders
issued, which, it was well understood, indicated an approaching
movement to the opposite shores.
It was now eight weeks since the commencement of hostilities, and
the war had been confined to the preparations detailed, with the
exception of one or two sharp skirmishes on the islands of the
harbour, between the foragers of the army, and small parties of the
Americans, in which the latter well maintained their newly acquired
reputation for spirit.
With the arrival of the regiments from England, gaiety had once
more visited the town, though such of the inhabitants as were
compelled to remain against their inclinations, continued to maintain
that cold reserve, in their deportment, which effectually repelled all
the efforts of the officers to include them in the wanton festivities
of the time. There were a few, however, among the colonists, who had
been bribed, by offices and emoluments, to desert the good cause of
the land; and as some of these had already been rewarded by offices
which gave them access to the ear of the royal governor, who was
thought to be unduly and unhappily influenced by the pernicious
councils with which they poisoned his mind and prepared him for acts
of injustice and harshness, that both his unbiassed feelings and
ordinary opinions would have condemned. A few days succeeding the
affair of Lexington, a meeting of the inhabitants had been convened,
and a solemn compact was made between them and the governor, that such
as chose to deliver up their arms, might leave the place, while the
remainder were promised a suitable protection in their own dwellings.
The arms were delivered, but that part of the conditions which
related to the removal of the inhabitants was violated, under slight
and insufficient pretexts. This, and various other causes incidental
to military rule, imbittered the feelings of the people, and
furnished new causes of complaint; while, on the other hand, hatred
was rapidly usurping the place of contempt, in the breasts of those
who had been compelled to change their sentiments with respect to a
people that they could never love. In this manner, resentment and
distrust existed, with all the violence of personality, within the
place itself, affording an additional reason to the troops for
wishing to extend their limits. Notwithstanding these inauspicious
omens of the character of the contest, the native kindness of Gage,
and perhaps a desire to rescue a few of his own men from the hands of
the colonists, induced him to consent to an exchange of the prisoners
made in the inroad; thus establishing, in the onset, a precedent to
distinguish the controversy from an ordinary rebellion against the
loyal authority of the sovereign. A meeting was held, for this
purpose, in the village of Charlestown, at that time unoccupied by
either army. At the head of the American deputation appeared Warren,
and the old partisan of the wilderness, already mentioned, who, by a
happy, though not uncommon constitution of temperament, was as
forward in deeds of charity as in those of daring. At this interview,
several of the veterans of the royal army were present, having passed
the strait to hold a last, friendly converse with their ancient
comrade, who received them with the frankness of a soldier, while he
rejected their subtle endeavours to entice him from the banners under
which he had enlisted, with a sturdiness as unpretending as it was
While these events were occurring at the great scene of the
contest, the hum of preparation was to be heard throughout the whole
of the wide extent of the colonies. In various places slight acts of
hostility were committed, the Americans no longer waiting for the
British to be the aggressors, and everywhere such military stores as
could be reached, were seized, peaceably or by violence, as the case
required. The concentration of most of the troops in Boston, had,
however, left the other colonies comparatively but little to achieve,
though, while they still rested, nominally, under the dominion of the
crown, they neglected no means within their power to assert their
rights in the last extremity.
At Philadelphia "the Congress of the Delegates from the United
Colonies," the body that controlled the great movements of a people
who now first began to act as a distinct nation, issued their
manifestos, supporting, in a masterly manner, their principles, and
proceeded to organize an army that should be as competent to maintain
them as circumstances would allow. Gentlemen who had been trained to
arms in the service of the king, were invited to resort to their
banners, and the remainder of the vacancies were filled by the names
of the youthful, the bold, and adventurous, who were willing to risk
their lives in a cause where even success promised so little personal
advantage. At the head of this list of untrained warriors, the
Congress placed one of their own body, a man already distinguished
for his services in the field, and who has since bequeathed to his
country the glory of an untarnished name.
"Thou shalt meet me at Philippi."
During this period of feverish excitement, while the appearance and
privations of war existed with so little of its danger or its action,
Lionel had not altogether forgotten his personal feelings, in the
powerful interest created by the state of public affairs. Early on the
morning succeeding the night of the scene between Mrs. Lechmere and
the inmates of the warehouse, he had repaired again to the spot, to
relieve the intense anxiety of his mind, by seeking a complete
explanation of all those mysteries which had been the principal
ligament that bound him to a man, little known, except for his
The effects of the preceding day's battle were already visible in
the market-place, where, as Lionel passed, he saw few, or none of the
countrymen who usually crowded the square at that hour. In fact, the
windows of the shops were opened with caution, and men looked out
upon the face of the sun, as if doubting of its appearance and
warmth, as in seasons of ordinary quiet; jealousy, and distrust,
having completely usurped the place of security within the streets of
the town. Notwithstanding the hour, few were in their beds, and those
who appeared betrayed by their looks that they had passed the night
in watchfulness. Among this number was Abigail Pray, who received her
guest in her little tower, surrounded by every thing as he had seen
it on the past evening, nothing altered, except her own dark eye,
which at times looked like a gem of price sat in her squalid
features, but which now appeared haggard and sunken, participating
more markedly than common, in the general air of misery that pervaded
"I have intruded at a somewhat unusual hour, Mrs. Pray," said
Lionel, as he entered; "but business of the last moment requires that
I should see your lodger—I suppose he is above; it will be well to
announce my visit."
Abigail shook her head with an air of solemn meaning, as she
answered in a subdued voice, "he is gone!"
"Gone!" exclaimed Lionel—"whither, and when?"
"The people seem visited by the wrath of God, sir," returned the
woman—"old and young, the sick and well, are crazy about the
shedding of blood; and it's beyond the might of man to say where the
torrent will be stayed!"
"But what has this to do with Ralph! where is he? Woman, you are
not playing me false!"
"I! heaven forbid that I should ever be false again! and to you
least of all God's creatures! No, no, Major Lincoln; the wonderful
man, who seems to have lived so long that he can even read our secret
thoughts, as I had supposed man could never read them, has left me,
and I know not whether he will ever return."
"Ever! you have not driven him by violence from under your
"My roof is like that of the fowls of the air— 'tis the roof of
any who are so unfortunate as to need it.—There is no spot on earth,
Major Lincoln, that I can call mine—but one day there will be
one—yes, yes—there will be a narrow house provided for us all; and
God grant that mine may be as quiet as the coffin is said to be! I
lie not, Major Lincoln—no, this time I am innocent of deceit—Ralph
and Job have gone together, but whither, I know not, unless it be to
join the people without the town—they left me as the moon rose, and
he gave me a parting and a warning voice, that will ring in my ears
until they are deafended by the damps of the grave!"
"Gone to join the Americans, and with Job!" returned Lionel,
musing, and without attending to the closing words of Abigail.—"Your
boy will purchase peril with this madness, Mrs. Pray, and should be
"Job is not one of God's accountables, nor is he to be treated like
other children," returned the woman. "Ah! Major Lincoln, a healthier,
and a stouter, and a finer boy was not to be seen in the
Bay-Province, till the child had reached his fifth year! then, then it
was that the judgment of heaven fell on mother and son—sickness
made him what you see, a being with the form, but without the reason
of man, and I have grown the wretch I am. But it has all been
foretold, and warnings enough have I had of it all! for is it not
said, that he "will visit the sins of the fathers upon the
children until the third and fourth generation!" Thank God, my sorrows
and sins will end with Job, for there never can be a third to suffer!"
"If," said Lionel, "there be any sin which lies heavy at your
heart, every consideration, whether of justice or repentance, should
induce you to confess your errors to those whose happiness may be
affected by the knowledge, if any such there be?"
The anxious eye of the woman raised itself to meet the look of the
young man; but quailing before the piercing gaze it encountered, she
quickly turned it upon the litter and confusion of her disordered
apartment. Lionel waited some time for a reply, but finding that she
remained obstinately silent, he continued—
"From what has already passed, you must be eonscious that I have
good reason to believe that my feelings are deeply concerned in your
secret; make, then, your confession of the guilt which seems to bear
you down so heavily; and in return for the confidence, I promise you
my forgiveness and protection."
As Lionel pressed thus directly the point so near his heart, the
woman shrunk away from her situation near him, and her countenance
lost, as he proceeded, its remarkable expression of compunction, in a
forced look of deep surprise, that showed she was no novice in
dissimulation, whatever might be the occasional warnings of her
"Guilt!" she repeated, in a slow and tremulous voice; "we are all
guilty, and would be lost creatures, but for the blood of the
"Most true; but you have spoken of crimes that infringe the laws of
man, as well as those of God."
"I! Major Lincoln—I, a disorderly law-breaker!" exclaimed
Abigail, affecting to busy herself in arranging her apartment—"it is
not such as I, that have leisure or courage to break the laws! Major
Lincoln is trying a poor lone woman, to make his jokes with the
gentlemen of his mess this evening—'tis certain, we all of us have
our burthens of guilt to answer for—surely Major Lincoln couldn't
have heard minister Hunt preach his sermon, the last Sabbath, on the
sins of the town!"
Lionel coloured highly at the artful imputation of the woman, that
he was practising on her sex and unprotected situation; and greatly
provoked, in secret, at her duplicity, he became more guarded in his
language, endeavouring to lead her on, by kindness and soothing, to
the desired communications. But all his ingenuity was met by more
than equal abilities on the part of Abigail, from whom he only
obtained expressions of surprise that he could have mistaken her
language for more than the usual acknowledgment of errors, that are
admitted to be common to our lost nature. In this particular the woman
was in no respect singular; the greater number of those who are
loudest in their confessions and denunciations on the abandoned nature
of our hearts, commonly resenting, in the deepest manner, the
imputation of individual offences. The more earnest and pressing his
inquiries became, the more wary she grew, until disgusted with her
pertinacity, and secretly suspecting her of foul play with her
lodger, he left the house in anger, determining to keep a close eye on
her movements, and, at a suitable moment, to strike such a blow as
should bring her not only to confession, but to shame.
Under the influence of this momentary resentment, and unable to
avoid harboring the most unpleasant suspicions of his aunt, the young
man determined, that very morning, to withdraw himself entirely, as a
guest, from her dwelling. Mrs. Lechmere, who, if she knew at all that
Lionel had been a witness of her intercourse with Ralph, must have
received the intelligence from Abigail, received him, at breakfast,
with a manner that betrayed no such consciousness. She listened to
his excuses for removing, with evident concern; and more than once,
as Lionel spoke of the probable nature of his future life, now that
hostilities had commenced— the additional trouble his presence
would occasion to her habits and years—of his great concern in her
behalf—and, in short, of all that he could devise in the way of
apology for the step, he saw her eyes turned anxiously on Cecil, with
an expression which, at another time, might have led him to distrust
the motives of her hospitality. The young lady herself, however,
evidently heard the proposal with great satisfaction, and when her
grandmother appealed to her opinion, whether he had urged a single
good reason for the measure, she answered with a vivacity that had
been a stranger to her manner of late—
"Certainly, my dear grandmama—the best of all reasons—his
inclinations. Major Lincoln tires of us, and of our hum-drum habits,
and, in my eyes, true politeness requires that we should suffer him
to leave us for his barracks, without a word of remonstrance."
"My motive must be greatly mistaken, if a desire to leave you—"
"Oh! sir, the explanation is not required. You have urged so many
reasons, cousin Lionel. that the true and moving motive is yet kept
behind the curtain. It must, and can be no other than ennui."
"Then I will remain," said Lionel; "for any thing is better than to
be suspected of insensibility."
Cecil looked both gratified and disappointed— she played with her
spoon a moment in embarrassment, bit her beautiful lip with vexation,
and then said, in a more friendly tone—
"I must then exonerate you from the imputation— go to your own
quarters, if it be agreeable, and we will believe your
incomprehensible reasons for the change—besides, as a kinsman, we
shall see you every day, you know."
Lionel had now no longer any excuse for not abiding by his avowed
determination; and notwithstanding Mrs. Lechmere parted from her
interesting nephew with an exhibition of reluctance that was in
singular contrast with her usually cold and formal manner, the desired
removal was made in the course of that very morning.
When this change was accomplished, week after week slipped by, in
the manner related in the preceding chapter, during which the
reinforcements continued to arrive, and general after general
appeared in the place to support the unenterprizing Gage in the
conduct of the war. The timid amongst the colonists were appalled as
they heard the long list of proud and boasted names recounted. There
was Howe, a man sprung from a noble race, long known for their deeds
in arms, and whose chief had already shed his blood on the soil of
America. Clinton, another cadet of an illustrious house, better known
for his personal intrepidity and domestic kindness, than for the
rough qualities of the warrior. And the elegant and accomplished
Burgoyne, who had already purehased a name in the fields of Portugal
and the benefit of the late exchange, and curious to know what all
the suppressed roguery he could detect in the demure countenances of
his friends might signify, Lionel dropped his pen, and listened to
the succeeding dialogue.
"Now answer to your offences, thou silly fellow, with a wise name,"
M`Fuse commenced, in a voice that did not fail, by its harsh cadences,
to create some of that awe, which, by the expression of hte speaker's
eye, it would seem he laboured to produce—"speak out with the
freedom of a man, and the compunctions of a Christian, if you have
them. Why should I not send you at once to Ireland, that ye may get
your deserts on three pieces of timber, the one being laid cross-wise
for the sake of convenience. If you have a contrary reason, bestow it
without delay, for the love you bear your own angular daiformities."
The wags did not altogether fail in their object, Seth betraying a
good deal more uneasiness than it was usual for the man to exhibit
even in situations of uncommon peril. After clearing his throat, and
looking about him, to gather from the eyes of the spectators which way
their sympathies inclined, he answered with a very commendable
"Because it's ag'in all law."
"Have done with your interminable perplexities of the law," cried
M`Fuse, "and do not bother honest gentlemen with its knavery, as if
they were no more than so many proctors in big wigs! 'tis the gospel
you should he thinking of, you godless reprobate, on account of that
final end you will yet make, one day, in a most indecent hurry."
"To your purpose, Mac," interrupted Polwarth, who perceived that
the erratic feelings of his friend were beginning already to lead him
from the desired point; "or I will propound the matter myself, in a
style that would do credit to a mandamus counsellor."
"The mandamuses are all ag'in the charter, and the law too,"
continued Seth, whose courage increased as the dialogue bore more
directly upon his political principles—"and to my mind it's quite
convincing that if ministers calculate largely on upholding them,
there will be great disturbances, if not a proper fight in the land;
for the whole country is in a blaze!"
"Disturbances, thou immoveable iniquity! thou quiet assassin!"
roared M`Fuse; "do ye not call a fight of a day a disturbance, or do
ye tar'm skulking behind fences, and laying the muzzle of a musket on
the head of Job Pray, and the breech on a mullen-stalk, while ye draw
upon a fellow-creature, a commendable method of fighting! Now answer
me to the truth, and disdain all lying, as ye would 'ating any thing
but cod on a Saturday, who were the two men that fired into my very
countenance, from the unfortunate situation among the mullens that I
have datailed to you?"
"Pardon me, captain M`Fuse," said Polwarth, "if I say that your
zeal and indignation run ahead of your discretion. If we alarm the
prisoner in this manner, we may defeat the ends of justice. Besides,
sir, there is a reflection contained in your language, to which I must
dissent. A real dumb is not to be despised, especially when
served up in wrapper, and between two coarser fish to preserve the
steam—I have had my private meditations on the subject of getting up
a Saturday's club, in order to enjoy the bounty of the Bay, and for
improving the cookery of the cod!"
"And let me tell you, captain Polwarth," returned the grenadier,
cocking his eye fiercely at the other, "that your epicurean
propensities lead you to the verge of cannibalism; for sure it may be
called that, when you speak of 'ating while the life of a
fellow cr'ature is under a discussion for its termination—"
"I conclude," interrupted Seth, who was greatly averse to all
quarreling, and who thought he saw the symptoms of a breach between
his judges, "the captain wishes to know who the two men were that
fired on him a short time before he got the hit in the shoulder?"
"A short time, ye marvellous hypocrite!— 'twas as quick as pop
and slap could make it."
"Perhaps there might be some mistake, for a great many of the
troops were much disguised—"
"Do ye insinuate that I got drunk before the enemies of my king!"
roared the grenadier— "Harkye, Mister Sage, I ask you in a genteel
way, who the two men were that fired on me, in the manner datailed,
and remember that a man may tire of putting questions which are never
"Why," returned Seth, who, however expert at prevarication,
eschewed with religious horror, a direct lie—"I pretty much conclude
that they—the captain is sure the place he means was just beyond
"As sure as men can be," said Polwarth, "who possess the use of
"Then captain Polwarth can give testimony to the fact?"
"I believe Major Lincoln's horse carries a small bit of your lead
to this moment, Master Sage."
Seth yielded to this accumulation of evidence against him, and
knowing, moreover, that the grenadier had literally made him a
prisoner in the fact of renewing his fire, he sagaciously determined
to make a merit of necessity, and candidly to acknowledge his agency
in inflicting the wounds. The utmost, however, that his cautious
habits would permit him to say, was—
"Seeing there can't well be any mistake, I seem to think, the two
men were chiefly Job and I."
"Chaifly, you lath of uncertainty!" exclaimed M`Fuse; "if there was
any chaif in that cowardly assassination of wounding a Christian, and
of also hurting a horse, which, though nothing but a dumb baste, has
better blood than runs in your own beggarly veins, 'twas your own ugly
proportions. But I rejoice that you have come to the
confessional!—I can now see you hung with felicity— if you have
any thing to say, urge it at once, why I should not embark you for
Ireland by the first vessel, in a letter to my Lord-Lieutenant, with
a request that he'll give you an early procession, and a dacent
Seth belonged to a class of his countrymen, amongst whom, while
there was a superabundance of ingenuity, there was literally no joke.
Déceived by the appearance of anger which had in reality blended with
the assumed manner of the grenadier, as he dwelt upon the irritating
subject of his own injuries, the belief of the prisoner in the sacred
protection of the laws became much shaken, and he began to reflect
very seriously on the insecurity of the times, as well as on the
despotic nature of the military power. The little humour he had
inherited from his puritan ancestors, was, though exceedingly quaint,
altogether after a different fashion from the off-hand, blundering wit
of the Irishman; and that manner which he did not possess, he could
not entirely comprehend, so that as far as a very visible alarm
furthered the views of the two conspirators, they were quite
successful. Polwarth now took pity on his evident embarrassment, and
observed, with a careless manner—
"Perhaps I can make a proposal by which Mr. Sage may redeem his
neck from the halter, and at the same time essentially serve an old
"Hear ye that, thou confounder of men and bastes!" cried
M`Fuse—"down on your knees, and thank Mr. Paiter Polwarth for the
charity of his insinuation."
Seth was not displeased to hear such amicable intentions announced;
but habitually cautious in all bargaining, he suppressed the
exhibition of his satisfaction, and said, with an air of deliberation
that would have done credit to the keenest trader in
King-street—that "he should like to hear the terms of the agreement,
before he gave his conclusion."
"They are simply these," returned Polwarth— "you shall receive
your passports and freedom to-night, on condition that you sign this
bond, whereby you will become obliged to supply our mess, as usual,
during the time the place is invested, with certain articles of food
and nourishment, as herein set forth, and according to the prices
mentioned, which the veriest Jew in Duke's-place would pronounce to be
liberal. Here; take the instrument, and `read, and mark,' in order
that we may `inwardly digest."'
Seth took the paper, and gave it that manner of investigation that
he was wont to bestow on every thing which affected his pecuniary
interests. He objected to the price of every article, all of which
were altered in compliance with his obstinate resistance, and he
moreover insisted that a clause should be inserted to exonerate him
from the penalty, provided the intercourse should be prohibited by the
authorities of the colony; after which, he continued—
"If the captain will agree to take charge of the things, and become
liable, I will conclude to make the trade."
"Here is a fellow who wants boot in a bargain for his life!" cried
the grenadier; "but we will humour his covetous inelinations, Polly,
and take charge of the chattels. Captain Polwarth and myself, pledge
our words to their safe-keeping. Let me run my eyes over the
articles," continued the grenadier, looking very gravely at the
several covenants of the bond—"faith, Paiter, you have bargained
for a goodly larder! Baif, mutton, pigs, turnips, potatos, melons, and
other fruits—there's a blunder, now, that would keep an English
mess on a grin for a month, if an Irishman had made it! as if a melon
was a fruit, and a potato was not! The devil a word do I see that you
have said about a mouthful, except aitables either! Here, fellow, clap
your learning to it, and I'll warrant you we yet get a meal out of
it, in some manner or other."
"Wouldn't it be as well to put the last agreement in the writings,
too," said Seth, "in case of accidents?"
"Hear how a knave halters himself!" cried M'Fuse; "he has the
individual honour of two captains of foot, and is willing to exchange
it for their joint bond! The request is too raisonable to be denied,
Polly, and we should be guilty of pecuniary suicide to reject it; so
place a small article at the bottom, explanatory of the mistake the
gentleman has fallen into."
Polwarth did not hesitate to comply, and in a very few minutes
every thing was arranged to the perfect satisfaction of the parties,
the two soldiers felicitating themselves on the success of a scheme
which seemed to avert the principal evils of the leaguer from their
own mess; and Seth, finding no difficulty in complying with an
agreement which was likely to prove so profitable, however much he
doubted its validity in a court of justice. The prisoner was now
declared at liberty, and was advised to make his way out of the
place, with as little noise as possible, and under favour of the pass
he held. Seth gave the bond a last and most attentive perusal, and
then departed, well contented to abide by its conditions, and not a
little pleased to escape from the grenadier, the expression of whose
half-comic, half-serious eye, occasioned him more perplexity than any
other subject which had ever before occupied his astuteness. After
the disappearance of the prisoner, the two worthies repaired to their
nightly banquet, laughing heartily at the success of their notable
Lionel suffered Seth to pass from the room, without speaking, but
as the man left his own abode with a lingering and doubtful step, the
young soldier followed him into the street, without communicating to
any one that he had witnessed what had passed, with the laudable
intention of adding his own personal pledge for the security of the
household goods in question. He, however, found it no easy achievement
to equal the speed of a man who had just escaped from a long
confinement, and who now appeared inclined to indulge his limbs freely
in the pleasure of an unlimited exercise. The velocity of Seth
continued unabated, until he had conducted Lionel far into the lower
parts of the town, where the latter perceived him to encounter a man
with whom he turned suddenly under an arch which led into a dark and
narrow court. Lionel instantly increased his speed, and as he entered
beneath the passage, he caught a glimpse of the lank figure of the
object of his pursuit, gliding through the opposite entrance to the
court, and, at the same moment, he encountered the man who had
apparently induced the deviation in his route. As Lionel stepped a
little on one side, the light of a lamp fell full on the form of the
other, and he recognised the person of the active leader of the
caucus, (as the political meeting he had attended was called,) though
so disguised and muffled, that, but for the accidental opening of the
folds of his cloak, the unknown might have passed his nearest friend
"We meet again!" exclaimed Lionel, in the quickness of surprise;
"though it would seem that the sun is never to shine on our
The stranger started, and betrayed an evident wish to continue his
walk, as though the other had mistaken his person; then, as if
suddenly recollecting himself, he turned and approached Lionel, with
easy dignity, and answered—
"The third time is said to contain the charm! I am happy to find
that I meet Major Lincoln, unharmed, after the dangers he so lately
"The dangers have probably been exaggerated by those who wish ill
to the cause of our master," returned Lionel, coldly.
There was a calm, but proud smile on the face of the stranger, as
"I shall not dispute the information of one who bore so conspicuous
a part in the deeds of that day—still you will remember, though the
march to Lexington was, like our own accidental rencontres, in the
dark, that a bright sun shone upon the retreat, and nothing has been
"Nothing need be concealed," replied Lionel, nettled by the proud
composure of the other— "unless, indeed, the man I address is afraid
to walk the streets of Boston in open day."
"The man you address, Major Lincoln," said the stranger, advancing
in his warmth a step nearer to Lionel, "has dared to walk the streets
of Boston both by day and by night, when the bullies of him you call
your master, have strutted their hour in the security of peace; and
now a nation is up to humble their pretensions, shall he shrink from
treading his native soil when he will!"
"This is bold language for an enemy within a British camp! Ask
yourself what course my duty requires of me?"
"That is a question which lies between Major Lincoln and his
conscience," returned the stranger— "though," he added, after a
momentary pause, and in a milder tone, as if he recollected the
danger of his situation—"the gentlemen of his name and lineage were
not apt to be informers, when they dwelt in the land of their birth."
"Neither is their descendant. But let this be the last of our
interviews, until we can meet as friends, or as enemies should, where
we may discuss these topics at the points of our weapons."
"Amen," said the stranger, seizing the hand of the young man, and
pressing it with the warmth of a generous emulation—"that hour may
not be far distant, and may God smile only on the just cause."
Without uttering more, he drew the folds of his dress more closely
around his form, and walked so swiftly away that Lionel, had he
possessed the inclination, could not have found an opportunity to
arrest his progress. As all expectation of overtaking Seth was now
lost, the young soldier returned slowly and thoughtfully towards his
The two or three succeeding days were distinguished by an
appearance of more than usual preparation among the troops, and it
became known that officers of rank had closely reconnoitred the
grounds of the opposite peninsula. Lionel patiently awaited the
progress of events; but as the probability of active service
increased, his wishes to make another effort to probe the secret of
the tenant of the warehouse revived, and he took his way towards the
dock-square, with that object, on the night of the fourth day from
the preceding interview with the stranger. It was long after the
tattoo had laid the town in that deep quiet which follows the bustle
of a garrison; and as he passed along he saw none but the sentinels
pacing their short limits, or an occasional officer, returning at that
late hour from his revels or his duty. The windows of the warehouse
were dark, and its inhabitants, if any it had, were wrapped in deep
sleep. Restless, and excited, Lionel pursued his walk through the
narrow and gloomy streets of the North-end, until he unexpectedly
found himself issuing upon the open space that is tenanted by the
dead, on Copp's-hill. On this eminence the English general had caused
a battery of heavy cannon to be raised, and Lionel, unwilling to
encounter the challenge of the sentinels, inclining a little to one
side, proceeded to the brow of the hill, and seating himself on a
stone, began to muse deeply on his own fortunes, and the situation of
The night was obscure, but the thin vapours which appeared to
overhang the place opened at times, when a faint star-light fell from
the heavens, and rendered the black hulls of the vessels of war that
lay moored before the town, and the faint outlines of the opposite
shores, dimly visible. The stillness of midnight rested on the scene,
and when the loud calls of "all's-well" ascended from the ships and
batteries, the momentary cry was succeeded by a quiet as deep as if
the universe slumbered under this assurance of safety. At such an
instant, when even the light breathings of the night air were audible,
the sound of rippling waters, like that occasioned by raising a
paddle with extreme caution, was borne to the ear of the young
soldier. He listened intently, and then bending his eyes in the
direction of the faint sounds, he saw a small canoe gliding along on
the surface of the water, and soon shoot upon the gravelly shore, at
the foot of the hill, with a motion so easy and uniform as scarcely
to curl a wave on the land. Curious to know who could be moving about
the harbour at this hour, in such a secret manner, Lionel was in the
act of rising to descend, when he saw the dim figure of a man land
from the boat, and climb the hill, directly in a line with his own
position. Suppressing even the sounds of his breath, and drawing his
body back within the deep shadow cast from a point of the hill, a
little above him, Lionel waited until the figure had approached within
ten feet of him, when it stopped, and appeared, like himself, to be
endeavouring to suppress all other sounds and feelings in the
absorbing act of deep attention. The young soldier loosened his sword
in its sheath, before he said—
"We have chosen a private spot, and a secret hour, sir, for our
Had the figure possessed the impalpable nature of an immaterial
being, it could not have received this remark, so startling from its
suddenness, with greater apathy than did the man to whom it was
addressed. He turned slowly towards the speaker, and seemed to look
at him earnestly, before he answered, in a low, menacing voice—
"There's a granny on the hill, with a gun and baggonet, walking
among the cannon, and if he hears people talking down here, he'll make
them prisoners, though one of them should be Major Lincoln."
"Ha! Job," said Lionel—"and is it you I meet prowling about like
a thief at night!—on what errand of mischief have you been sent this
"If Job's a thief for coming to see the graves on Copp's," returned
the lad sullenly, "there's two of them."
"Well answered boy!" said Lionel, with a smile; "but I repeat, on
what errand have you returned to the town at this unseasonable and
"Job loves to come up among the graves, before the cocks grow; they
say the dead walk when living men sleep."
"And would you hold communion with the dead, then?"
"'Tis sinful to ask them many questions, and such as you do put
should be made in the Holy name," returned the lad, in a tone so
solemn, that, connected with the place and the scene, it caused the
blood of Lionel to thrill—"but Job loves to be near them, to use him
to the damps, ag'in the time he shall be called to walk himself in a
sheet at midnight."
"Hush!" said Lionel—"what noise is that?"
Job stood a moment, listening as intently as his companion, before
"There's no noise but the moaning of the wind in the bay, or the
sea tumbling on the beaches of the islands?"
"'Tis neither," said Lionel; "I heard the low hum of a hundred
voices, or my ears have played me falsely."
"May be the spirits speak to each other," said the lad—"they say
their voices are like the rushing winds."
Lionel passed his hand across his brow, and endeavoured to recover
the tone of his mind, which had been strangely disordered by the
solemn manner of his companion, and walked slowly from the spot,
closely attended by the silent changeling. He did not stop until he
had reached the inner angle of the wall that enclosed the field of
the dead, when he paused, and leaning on the fence, again listened
"Boy, I know not how your silly conversation may have warped my
brain," he said, "but there are surely strange and unearthly sounds
lingering about this place, to-night! By heavens! there is another
rush of voices, as if the air above the water were filled with living
beings; and then again, I think I hear a noise as if heavy weights
were falling to the earth!"
"Ay," said Job, "'tis the clods on the coffins; the dead are going
into their graves ag'in, and 'tis time that we should leave them their
Lionel hesitated no longer, but he rather run than walked from the
spot, with a secret horror that, at another moment, he would have
blushed to acknowledge, nor did he perceive that he was still
attended by Job, until he had descended some distance down
Lynn-street. Here he was addressed by his companion, in his usually
quiet and unmeaning tones—
"There's the house that the governor built who went down into the
sea for money!" he said—"he was a poor boy once, like Job, and now
they say his grandson is a great lord, and the king knighted the
grand'ther too. It's pretty much the same thing whether a man gets
his money out of the sea or out of the earth; the king will make him a
lord for it."
"You hold the favours of royalty cheap, fellow," returned Lionel,
glancing his eye carelessly at the `Phipp's house," as he
passed—"you forget that I am to be some day one of your despised
"I know it," said Job; "and you come from America too—it seems to
me that all the poor boys go from America to the king to be great
lords, and all the sons of the great lords come to America to be made
poor boys—Nab says Job is the son of a great lord too!"
"Then Nab is as great a fool as her child," said Lionel; "but boy,
I would see your mother in the morning, and I expect you to let me
know at what hour I may visit her."
Job did not answer, and Lionel, on turning his head, perceived that
he was suddenly deserted by the changeling, who was already gliding
back towards his favourite haunt among the graves. Vexed at the wild
humours of the lad, Lionel hastened to his quarters, and threw himself
in his bed, though he heard the loud cries of "all's well," again and
again, before the strange phantasies which continued to cross his mind
would permit him to obtain the rest he sought.
"We are finer gentlemen, no doubt, than the plain farmers "we are
about to encounter. Our hats carry a smarter cock, "our swords hang
more gracefully by our sides, and we make "an easier figure in a
ball-room; but let it be remembered, "that the most finished maccaroni
amongst us, would pass for "an arrant clown at Pekin."
Letter from a Veteran Officer, &c.
When the heavy sleep of morning fell upon his senses, visions of
the past and future mingled with wild confusion in the dreams of the
youthful soldier. The form of his father stood before him, as he had
known it in his childhood, fair in the proportions and vigour of
manhood, regarding him with those eyes of benignant, but melancholy
affection, which characterized their expression after he had become
the sole joy of his widowed parent. While his heart was warming at the
sight, the figure melted away, and was succeeded by fantastic
phantoms, which appeared to dance among the graves on Copp's, led
along in those gambols, which partook of the ghastly horrors of the
dead, by Job Pray, who glided among the tombs like a being of another
world. Sudden and loud thunder then burst upon them, and the shadows
fled into their secret places, from whence he could see, ever and
anon, some glassy eyes and spectral faces, peering out upon him, as if
conscious of the power they possessed to chill the blood of the
living. His visions now became painfully distinct, and his sleep was
oppressed with their vividness, when his senses burst their unnatural
bonds, and he awoke. The air of morning was breathing through his open
curtains, and the light of day had already shed itself upon the dusky
roofs of the town. Lionel arose from his bed, and had paced his
chamber several times, in a vain effort to shake off the images that
had haunted his slumbers, when the sounds which broke upon the
stillness of the air, became too plain to be longer mistaken by a
"Ha!" he muttered to himself, "I have been dreaming but by
halves—these are the sounds of no fancied tempest, but cannon,
speaking most plainly to the soldier!"
He opened his window, and looked out upon the surrounding scene.
The roar of artillery was now quick and heavy, and Lionel bent his
eyes about him to discover the cause of this unusual occurrence. It
had been the policy of Gage to await the arrival of his
reinforcements, before he struck a blow which was intended to be
decisive; and the Americans were well known to be too scantily
supplied with the munitions of war, to waste a single charge of powder
in any of the vain attacks of modern sieges. A knowledge of these
facts gave an additional interest to the curiosity with which Major
Lincoln endeavoured to penetrate the mystery of so singular a
disturbance. Window after window in the adjacent buildings soon
exhibited, like his own, its wondering and alarmed spectator. Here and
there a half-dressed soldier, or a busy townsman, was seen hurrying
along the silent streets, with steps that denoted the eagerness of his
curiosity. Women began to rush wildly from their dwellings, and then,
as the sounds broke on their ears with ten-fold heaviness in the open
air, they shrunk back into their habitations in pallid dismay. Lionel
called to three or four of the men as they hurried by, but turning
their eyes wildly towards his window, they passed on without
answering, as if the emergency were too pressing to admit of speech.
Finding his repeated inquiries fruitless, he hastily dressed himself,
and descended to the street. As he left his own door, a half-clad
artillerist hurried past him, adjusting his garments with one hand,
and bearing in the other some of the lesser implements of the
particular corps in which he served.
"What means the firing, sergeant," demanded Lionel, "and whither do
you hasten with those fuses?"
"The rebels, your honour, the rebels!" returned the soldier,
looking back to speak, without ceasing his speed; "and I go to my
"The rebels!" repeated Lionel—"what can we have to fear, from a
mob of countrymen, in such a position—that fellow has slept from his
post, and apprehensions for himself mingle with this zeal for his
The towns-people now began to pour from their dwellings in scores;
and Lionel imitated their example, and took his course towards the
adjacent height of Beacon-hill. He toiled his way up the steep
ascent, in company with twenty more, without exchanging a syllable
with men who appeared as much astonished as himself at this early
interruption of their slumbers, and in a few minutes he stood on the
little grassy platform, surrounded by a hundred interested gazers.
The sun had just lifted the thin veil of mist from the bosom of the
waters, and the eye was permitted to range over a wide field beneath
the light vapour. Several vessels were moored in the channels of the
Charles and Mystick, to cover the northern approaches to the place;
and as he beheld the column of white smoke that was wreathing about
the masts of a frigate among them, Lionel was no longer at a loss to
comprehend whence the firing proceeded. While he was yet gazing,
uncertain of the reasons which demanded this show of war, immense
fields of smoke burst from the side of a ship of the line, who also
opened her deep-mouthed cannon, and presently her example was
followed by several floating batteries, and lighter vessels, until the
wide amphitheatre of hills that encircled Boston were filled with the
echoes of a hundred pieces of artillery.
"What can it mean, sir!" exclaimed a young officer of his own
regiment, addressing Major Lincoln—"the sailors are in downright
earnest, and they scale their guns with shot, I know, by the rattling
of the reports!"
"I can boast of a vision no better than your own," returned Lionel;
"for no enemy can I see. As the guns seem pointed at the opposite
peninsula, it is probable a party of the Americans are attempting to
destroy the grass which lies newly mown in the meadows."
The young officer was in the act of assenting to this conjecture,
when a voice was heard above their heads, shouting—
"There goes a gun from Copp's! They needn't think to frighten the
people with their rake-helly noises; let them blaze away till the
dead get out of their graves—the Bay-men will keep the hill!
Every eye was immediately turned upward, and the wondering and
amused spectators discovered Job Pray, seated in the grate of the
Beacon, his countenance, usually so vacant, gleaming with exultation,
while he continued waving his hat high in air, as gun after gun was
added to the uproar of the cannonade.
"How now, fellow!" exclaimed Lionel; "what see you? and where are
the Bay-men of whom you speak?"
"Where," returned the simpleton, clapping his hands with childish
delight—"why, where they came at dark midnight, and where theyll
stand at open noon-day! The Bay-men can look into the windows of old
Funnel at last, and now let the reg'lars come on, and they'll teach
the godless murderers the law!"
Lionel, a little irritated with the bold language of Job, called to
him in an angry voice—
"Come down from that perch, fellow, and explain yourself, or this
grenadier shall lift you from your seat, and transfer you to the post
for a little of that wholesome correction which you need."
"You promised that the grannies should never flog Job ag'in," said
the changeling, crouching down in the grate, whence he looked out at
his threatened chastiser with a lowering and sullen eye—"and Job
agreed to run your a'r'nds, and not take any of the king's crowns in
"Come down, then, this instant, and I will remember the compact."
Comforted by this assurance, which was made in a more friendly
tone, Job threw himself carelessly from his iron seat, and clinging to
the post, he slid swiftly to the earth, where Major Lincoln
immediately arrested him by the arm, and demanded—
"Where are those Bay-men, I once more ask?"
"There!" repeated Job, pointing over the low roofs of the town, in
the direction of the opposite peninsula. "They dug their cellar on
Breeds, and now they are fixing the underpinnin', and next you'll see
what a raising they'll invite the people to!"
The instant the spot was named, all those eyes which had hitherto
gazed at the vessels themselves, instead of searching for the object
of their hostility, were turned on the green eminence which rose a
little to the right of the village of Charlestown, and every doubt was
at once removed by the discovery. The high, conical summit of
Bunker-hill lay naked, and unoccupied, as on the preceding day; but on
the extremity of a more humble ridge, which extended within a short
distance of the water, a low bank of earth had been thrown up, for
purposes which no military eye could mistake. This redoubt, small and
inartificial as it was, commanded by its position the whole of the
inner harbour of Boston, and even endangered, in some measure, the
occupants of the town itself. It was the sudden appearance of this
magical mound, as the mists of the morning had dispersed, which roused
the slumbering seamen; and it had already become the target of all
the guns of the shipping in the bay. Amazement at the temerity of
their countrymen, held the townsmen silent, while Major Lincoln, and
the few officers who stood nigh him, saw at a glance, that this step
on the part of their adversaries would bring the affairs of the
leaguer to an instant crisis. In vain they turned their wondering
looks on the neighbouring eminence, and around the different points
of the peninsula, in quest of those places of support with which
soldiers generally entrench their defences. The husbandmen opposed to
them, had seized upon the point best calculated to annoy their foes,
without regard to the consequences; and in a few short hours,
favoured by the mantle of night, had thrown up their work with a
dexterity that was only exceeded by their boldness. The truth flashed
across the brain of Major Lincoln with his first glance, and he felt
his cheeks glow as he remembered the low and indistinct murmurs which
the night air had wafted to his ears, and those inexplicable fancies,
which had even continued to haunt him till dispersed by truth and the
light of day. Motioning to Job to follow, he left the hill with a
hurried step, and when they gained the common, he turned, and said,
sternly, to his companion—
"Fellow, you have been privy to this midnight work!"
"Job has enough to do in the day, without labouring in the night,
when none but the dead are out of their places of rest," returned the
lad, with a look of mental imbecility, which immediately disarmed the
resentment of the other.
Lionel smiled as he again remembered his own weakness, and repeated
"The dead! ay, these are the works of the living, and bold men are
they who have dared to do the deed. But tell me, Job, for 'tis in vain
to attempt deceiving me any longer, what number of Americans did you
leave on the hill when you crossed the Charles to visit the graves on
Copp's, the past night?"
"Both hills were crowded," returned the other—"Breeds with the
people, and Copp's with the ghosts—Job believes the dead rose to see
their children digging so nigh them!"
"'Tis probable," said Lionel, who believed it wisest to humour the
wild conceits of the lad, in order to disarm his cunning; "but though
the dead are invisible, the living may be counted."
"Job did count five hundred men, marching over the nose of Bunker,
by star-light, with their picks and spades; and then he stopped, for
he forgot whether seven or eight hundred came next."
"And after you ceased to count, did many others pass?"
"The Bay-colony isn't so poorly off for men, that it can't muster a
thousand at a raising."
"But you had a master workman on the occasion; was it the
wolf-hunter of Connecticut?"
"There is no occasion to go from the province to find a workman to
lay out a cellar!— Dicky Gridley is a Boston boy!"
"Ah! he is the chief! we can have nothing to fear then, since the
Connecticut woodsman is not at their head?"
"Do you think old Prescott, of Pepperel, will quit the hill while
he has a kernel of powder to burn!—no, no, Major Lincoln, Ralph
himself an't a stouter warrior; and you can't frighten Ralph!"
"But if they fire their cannon often, their small stock of
ammunition will be soon consumed, and then they must unavoidably run."
Job laughed tauntingly, and with an appearance of high scorn,
before he answered—
"Yes, if the Bay-men were as dumb as the king's troops, and used
such big guns! but the cannon of the colony want but little brimstone,
and there's but few of them—let the rake-hellies go up to Breeds;
the people will teach them the law!"
Lionel had now obtained all he expected to learn from the simpleton
concerning the force and condition of the Americans; and as the
moments were too precious to be wasted in vain discourse, he bid the
lad repair to his quarters that night, and left him. On entering his
own lodgings, Major Lincoln shut himself up in his private apartment,
and passed several hours in writing, and examining important papers.
One letter, in particular, was written, read, torn, and rewritten
five or six times, until at length he placed his seal, and directed
the important paper with a sort of carelessness that denoted his
patience was exhausted by repeated trials. These documents were
entrusted to Meriton, with orders to deliver them to their several
addresses, unless countermanded before the following day, and the
young man hastily swallowed a late and light breakfast. While shut up
in his closet, Lionel had several times thrown aside his pen to
listen, as the hum of the place penetrated to his retirement, and
announced the excitement and bustle which pervaded the streets of the
town. Having at length completed the task he had assigned himself, he
caught up his hat, and took his way, with hasty steps, into the
centre of the place.
Cannon were rattling over the rough pavements, followed by
ammunition wagons, and officers and men of the artillery were seen in
swift pursuit of their pieces. Aide-de-camps were riding furiously
through the streets, charged with important messages; and here and
there an officer might be seen issuing from his quarters, with a
countenance in which manly pride struggled powerfully with inward
dejection, as he caught the last glance of anguish which followed his
retiring form, from eyes that had been used to meet his own with
looks of confidence and love. There was, however, but little time to
dwell on these flitting glimpses of domestic wo, amid the general
bustle and glitter of the scene. Now and then the strains of martial
broke up through the windings of the crooked avenues, and detachments
of the troops wheeled by on their way to the appointed place of
embarkation. While Lionel stood a moment at the corner of a street,
admiring the firm movement of a body of grenadiers, his eye fell on
the powerful frame and rigid features of M Fuse, marching at the head
of his company with that gravity which regarded the accuracy of the
step amongst the important incidents of life. At a short distance from
him was Job Pray, timing his paces to the tread of the soldiers, and
regarding the gallant show with stupid admiration, while his ear
unconsciously drank the inspiriting music of their band. As this fine
body of men passed on, it was immediately succeeded by a battalion in
which Lionel instantly recognised the facings of his own regiment.
The warm-hearted Polwarth led its forward files, and waving his hand,
"God bless you, Leo, God bless you—we shall make a fair stand up
fight of this; there is an end of all stag-hunting."
The notes of the horns rose above his voice, and Lionel could do no
more than return his cordial salute; when, recalled to his purpose by
the sight of his comrades, he turned, and pursued his way to the
quarters of the commander-in-chief.
The gate of Province-house was thronged with military men; some
waiting for admittance, and others entering and departing with the air
of those who were charged with the execution of matters of the
deepest moment. The name of Major Lincoln was hardly announced before
an aid appeared to conduct him into the presence of the governor,
with a politeness and haste that several gentlemen, who had been in
waiting for hours, deemed in a trifling degree unjust.
Lionel, however, having little to do with murmurs which he did not
hear, followed his conductor, and was immediately ushered into the
apartment, where a council of war had just closed its deliberations.
On the threshold of its door he was compelled to give way to an
officer who was departing in haste, and whose powerful frame seemed
bent a little in the intensity of thought, as his dark, military
countenance lighted for an instant with the salutation he returned to
the low bow of the young soldier. Around this chief a group of
younger men immediately clustered, and as they departed in company,
Lionel was enabled to gather from their conversation that they took
their way for the field of battle. The room was filled with officers
of high rank, though here and there was to be seen a man in civil
attire, whose disappointed and bitter looks announced him to be one
of those mandamus counsellors, whose evil advice had hastened the
mischief their wisdom could never repair. From out a small circle of
these mortified civilians, the unpretending person of Gage advanced to
meet Lionel, forming a marked contrast by the simplicity of its
dress, to the military splendour that was glittering around him.
"In what can I oblige Major Lincoln?" he said, taking the young man
by the hand cordially, as if glad to be rid of the troublesome
counsellors he had so unceremoniously quitted.
" `Wolfe's own' has just passed me on its way to the boats, and I
have ventured to intrude on your excellency to inquire if it were not
time its Major had resumed his duty?"
A shade of thought was seated for a moment on the placid features
of the general, and he then answered with a friendly smile—
"'Twill be no more than an affair of out-posts, and must be quickly
ended. But should I grant the request of every brave young man whose
spirit is up to-day, it might cost his majesty's service the life of
some officer that would make the purchase of the pile of earth too
"But may I not be permitted to say, that the family of Lincoln is
of the Province, and its example should not be lost on such an
"The loyalty of the colonies is too well represented here to need
the sacrifice," said Gage, glancing his eyes carelessly at the
expecting group behind him.—"My council have decided on the
officers to be employed, and I regret that Major Lincoln's name was
omitted, since I know it will give him pain; but valuable lives are
not to be lightly and unnecessarily exposed."
Lionel bowed in submission, and after communicating the little he
had gatltered from Job Pray, he turned away, and found himself near
another officer of high rank, who smiled as he observed his
disappointed countenance, and taking him by the arm, led him from the
room, with a freedom suited to his fine figure and easy air.
"Then, like myself, Lincoln, you are not to battle for the king
to-day," he said, on gaining the anti-chamber. "Howe has the luck of
the occasion, if there can be luck in so vulgar an affair. But allons; accompany me to Copp's, as a spectator, since they deny us
parts in the drama; and perhaps we may pick up materials for a
pasquinade, though not for an epic."
"Pardon me, General Burgoyne," said Lionel, "if I view the matter
with more serious eyes than yourself."
"Ah! I had forgot that you were a follower of Percy in the hunt of
Lexington!" interrupted the other; "we will call it a tragedy, then,
if it better suits your humour. For myself, Lincoln, I weary of these
crooked streets and gloomy houses, and having some taste for the
poetry of nature, would have long since looked out upon the deserted
fields of these husbandmen, had the authority, as well as the
inclination, rested with me. But Clinton is joining us: he, too, is
for Copp's, where we can all take a lesson in arms, by studying the
manner in which Howe wields his battalions."
A soldier of middle age now joined them, whose stout frame, while
it wanted the grace and ease of the gentleman who still held Lionel by
the arm, bore a martial character to which the look of the quiet and
domestic Gage was a stranger; and followed by their several
attendants, the whole party immediately left the government-house to
take their destined position on the eminence so often mentioned.
As they entered the street, Burgoyne relinquished the arm of his
companion, and moved with becoming dignity by the side of his brother
General. Lionel gladly availed himself of this alteration to withdraw
a little from the group, whose steps he followed at such a distance as
permitted him to observe those exhibitions of feeling on the part of
the inhabitants, which the pride of the others induced them to
overlook. Pallid and anxious female faces were gleaming out upon them
from every window, while the roofs of the houses, and the steeples of
the churches, were beginning to throng with more daring, and equally
interested spectators. The drums no longer rolled along the narrow
streets, though, occasionally, the shrill strain of a fife was heard
from the water, announcing the movements of the troops to the
opposite peninsula. Over all was heard the incessant roaring of the
artillery, which, untired, had not ceased to rumble in the air since
the appearance of light, until the ear, accustomed to its presence,
had learnt to distinguish the lesser sounds we have recorded.
As the party descended into the lower passages of the town, it
appeared deserted by every thing having life, the open windows and
neglected doors betraying the urgency of the feelings which had
called the population to situations more favourable for observing the
approaching contest. This appearance of intense curiosity excited the
sympathies of even the old and practised soldiers; and quickening
their paces, the whole soon rose from among the gloomy edifices to the
open and unobstructed view from the hill.
The whole scene now lay before them. Nearly in their front was the
village of Charlestown, with its deserted streets, and silent roofs,
looking like a place of the dead; or, if the signs of life were
visible within its open avenues, 'twas merely some figure moving
swiftly in the solitude, like one who hastened to quit the devoted
spot. On the opposite point of the south-eastern face of the
peninsula, and at the distance of a thousand yards, the ground was
already covered by masses of human beings, in scarlet, with their arms
glittering in a noon-day sun. Between the two, though in the more
immediate vicinity of the silent town, the rounded ridge already
described, rose abruptly from a flat that was bounded by the water,
until, having attained an elevation of some fifty or sixty feet, it
swelled gradually to the little crest, where was planted the humble
object that had occasioned all this commotion. The meadows, on the
right, were still peaceful and smiling as in the most quiet days of
the province, though the excited fancy of Lionel imagined that a
sullen stillness lingered about the neglected kilns in their front,
and over the whole landscape, that was in gloomy consonance with the
approaching scene. Far on the left, across the waters of the Charles,
the American camp had poured forth its thousands to the hills; and
the whole population of the country for many miles inland, had
gathered to a point, to witness a struggle charged with the fate of
their nation. Beacon-hill rose from out the appalling silence of the
town of Boston, like a pyramid of living faces, with every eye fixed
on the fatal point, and men hung along the yards of the shipping, or
were suspended on cornices, cupolas, and steeples, in thoughtless
security, while every other sense was lost in the absorbing interest
of the sight. The vessels of war had hauled deep into the rivers, or
more properly, those narrow arms of the sea which formed the
peninsula, and sent their iron missiles with unwearied industry
across the low passage which alone opened the means of communication
between the self-devoted yeomen on the hill, and their distant country
men. While battalion landed after battalion on the point,
cannon-balls from the battery of Copp's, and the vessels of war, were
glancing up the natural glacis that surrounded the redoubt, burying
themselves in its earthen parapet, or plunging with violence into the
deserted sides of the loftier height which lay a few hundred yards in
its rear; and the black and smoking bombs appeared to hover above the
spot, as if pausing to select the places in which to plant their
Notwithstanding these appalling preparations, and ceaseless
annoyances, throughout that long and anxious morning, the stout
husbandmen on the hill had never ceased their steady efforts to
maintain, to the uttermost extremity, the post they had so daringly
assumed. In vain the English exhausted every means to disturb their
stubborn foes; the pick, the shovel, and the spade continued to
perform their offices, and mound rose after mound, amidst the din and
danger of the cannonade, steadily, and as well as if the fanciful
conceits of Job Pray embraced their real objects, and the labourers
were employed in the peaceful pursuits of their ordinary lives. This
firmness, however, was not like the proud front which high training
can impart to the most common mind; for ignorant of the glare of
military show; in the simple and rude vestments of their calling;
armed with such weapons as they had seized from the hooks above their
own mantels; and without even a banner to wave its cheering folds
above their heads, they stood, sustained only by the righteousness of
their cause, and those deep moral principles which they had received
from their fathers, and which they intended this day should show,
were to be transmitted untarnished to their children. It was
afterwards known that they endured their labours and their dangers
even in want of that sustenance which is so essential to support
animal spirits in moments of calmness and ease; while their enemies,
on the point, awaiting the arrival of their latest bands, were
securely devouring a meal, which to hundreds amongst them proved to be
their last. The fatal instant now seemed approaching. A general
movement was seen among the battalions of the British, who began to
spread along the shore, under cover of the brow of the hill— the
lingering boats having arrived with the rear of their
detachments—and officers hurried from regiment to regiment with the
final mandates of their chief. At this moment a body of Americans
appeared on the crown of Bunker-hill, and descending swiftly by the
road, disappeared in the meadows to the left of their own redoubt.
This band was followed by others, who, like themselves, had broken
through the dangers of the narrow pass, by braving the fire of the
shipping, and who also hurried to join their comrades on the low land.
The British General determined at once to anticipate the arrival of
further reinforcements, and gave forth the long-expected order to
prepare for the attack.
"Th'imperious Briton, on the well-fought ground,
"No cause for joy, or wanton triumph found,
"But saw, with grief, their dreams of conquest vain,
"Felt the deep wounds, and mourn'd their vet'rans slain."
The Americans had made a show, in the course of that fearful
morning, of returning the fire of their enemies, by throwing a few
shot from their light field-pieces, as if in mockery of the
tremendous cannonade which they sustained. But as the moment of
severest trial approached, the same awful stillness which had settled
upon the deserted streets of Charlestown, hovered around the redoubt.
On the meadows, to its left, the recently arrived bands hastily threw
the rails of two fences into one, and covering the whole with the
mown grass that surrounded them, they posted themselves along the
frail defence, which answered no better purpose than to conceal their
weakness from their adversaries. Behind this characteristic rampart,
several bodies of husbandmen from the neighbouring provinces of
New-Hampshire and Connecticut, lay on their arms, in sullen
expectation. Their line extended from the shore to the base of the
ridge, where it terminated several hundred feet behind the works;
leaving a wide opening in a diagonal direction, between the fence and
an earthen breast-work, which ran a short distance down the declivity
of the hill, from the north-eastern angle of the redoubt. A few
hundred yards in the rear of this rude disposition, the naked crest
of Bunker-hill rose unoccupied and undefended, and the streams of the
Charles and Mystick sweeping around its base, approached so near each
other as to blend the sounds of their rippling. It was across this low
and narrow isthmus, that the royal frigates poured a stream of fire,
that never ceased, while around it hovered the numerous parties of
the undisciplined Americans, hesitating to attempt the dangerous
In this manner Gage had, in a great degree, surrounded the devoted
peninsula with his power; and the bold men who had so daringly planted
themselves under the muzzles of his cannon, were left, as already
stated, unsupported, without nourishment, and with weapons from their
own gun-hooks, singly to maintain the honour of their nation.
Including men of all ages and conditions, there might have been two
thousand of them; but as the day advanced, small bodies of their
countrymen, taking counsel of their feelings, and animated by the
example of the old Partisan of the Woods, who crossed and recrossed
the neck, loudly scoffing at the danger, broke through the fire of
the shipping in time to join in the closing and bloody business of the
On the other hand, Howe led more than an equal number of the chosen
troops of his Prince; and as boats continued to ply between the two
peninsulas throughout the afternoon, the relative disparity continued
undiminished to the end of the struggle. It was at this point in our
narrative that, deeming himself sufficiently strong to force the
defences of his despised foes, the arrangements immediately
preparatory to such an undertaking were made in full view of the
excited spectators. Notwithstanding the security with which the
English General marshalled his warriors, he felt that the approaching
contest would be a battle of no common incidents. The eyes of teus of
thousands were fastened on his movements, and the occasion demanded
the richest display of the pageantry of war.
The troops formed with beautiful accuracy, and the columns moved
steadily along the shore, and took their assigned stations under cover
of the brow of the eminence. Their force was in some measure divided;
one moiety attempting the toilsome ascent of the hill, and the other
moving along the beach, or in the orchards of the more level ground,
towards the husbandmen on the meadows. The latter soon disappeared
behind some fruit-trees and the brick-kilns just mentioned. The
advance of the royal columns up the ascent was slow and measured,
giving time to their field-guns to add their efforts to the uproar of
the cannonade, which broke out with new fury as the battalions
prepared to march. When each column arrived at the allotted point, it
spread the gallant array of its glittering warriors under a bright sun.
"It is a glorious spectacle," murmured the graceful chieftain by
the side of Lionel, keenly alive to all the poetry of his alluring
profession; "how exceeding soldier-like! and with what accuracy his
`first-arm ascends the hill,' towards his enemy!"
The intensity of his feelings prevented Major Lincoln from
replying, and the other soon forgot that he had spoken, in the
overwhelming anxiety of the moment. The advance of the British line,
so beautiful and slow, resembled rather the ordered steadiness of a
drill than an approach to a deadly struggle. Their standards fluttered
proudly above them, and there were moments when the wild music of
their bands was heard rising on the air, and tempering the ruder
sounds of the artillery. The young and thoughtless in their ranks
turned their faces backward, and smiled exultingly, as they beheld
steeples, roofs, masts, and heights, teeming with their thousands of
eyes, bent on the show of their bright array. As the British lines
moved in open view of the little redoubt, and began slowly to gather
around its different faces, gun after gun became silent, and the
curious artillerist, or tired seaman, lay extended on his heated
piece, gazing in mute wonder at the spectacle. There was just then a
minute when the roar of the cannonade seemed passing away like the
rumbling of distant thunder.
"They will not fight, Lincoln," said the animated leader at the
side of Lionel—"the military front of Howe has chilled the hearts of
the knaves, and our victory will be bloodless!"
"We shall see, sir—we shall see!"
These words were barely uttered, when platoon after platoon, among
the British, delivered its fire, the blaze of musketry flashing
swiftly around the brow of the hill, and was immediately followed by
heavy volleys that ascended from the orchard. Still no answering sound
was heard from the Americans, and the royal troops were soon lost to
the eye as they slowly marched into the white cloud which their own
fire had alone created.
"They are cowed, by heavens—the dogs are cowed!" once more cried
the gay companion of Lionel, "and Howe is within two hundred feet of
At that instant a sheet of flame glanced through the smoke, like
lightning playing in a cloud, while at one report a thousand muskets
were added to the uproar. It was not altogether fancy which led
Lionel to imagine that he saw the smoky canopy of the hill to wave as
if the trained warriors it enveloped faltered before this close and
appalling discharge; but in another instant, the stimulating war-cry,
and the loud shouts of the combatants were borne across the strait to
his ears, even amid the horrid din of the combat. Ten breathless
minutes flew by like a moment of time, and the bewildered spectators
on Copp's were still gazing intently on the scene, when a voice was
raised among them, shouting—
"Hurrah! let the rake-hellies go up to Breed's; the people will
teach'em the law!"
"Throw the rebel scoundrel from the hill! Blow him from the muzzle
of a gun!" cried twenty soldiers in a breath.
"Hold!" exclaimed Lionel—"'tis a simpleton, an idiot, a fool!"
But the angry and savage murmurs as quickly subsided, and were lost
in other feelings, as the bright red lines of the royal troops were
seen issuing from the smoke, waving and recoiling before the still
vivid fire of their enemies.
"Ha!" said Burgoyne—"'tis some feint to draw the rebels from
"'Tis a palpable and disgraceful retreat!" muttered the stern
warrior nigh him, whose truer eye detected at a glance the
discomfiture of the assailants—"'Tis another base retreat before the
"Hurrah!" shouted the reckless changeling again; "there come the
reg'lars out of the orchard too!—see the grannies skulking behind
the kilns! Let them go on to Breed's, the people will teach'em the
No cry of vengeance preceded the act this time, but fifty of the
soldiery rushed, as by a common impulse, on their prey. Lionel had not
time to utter a word of remonstrance, before Job appeared in the air,
borne on the uplifted arms of a dozen men, and at the next instant he
was seen rolling down the steep declivity, with a velocity that
carried him to the water's edge. Springing to his feet, the undaunted
changeling once more waved his hat in triumph, and shouted forth
again his offensive challenge. Then turning, he launched his canoe
from its hiding place among the adjacent lumber, amid a shower of
stones, and glided across the strait; his little bark escaping
unnoticed in the crowd of boats that were rowing in all directions.
But his progress was watched by the uneasy eye of Lionel, who saw him
land and disappear, with hasty steps, in the silent streets of the
While this trifling by-play was enacted, the great drama of the day
was not at a stand. The smoky veil which clung around the brow of the
eminence, was lifted by the air, and sailed heavily away to the
south-west, leaving the scene of the bloody struggle again open to the
view. Lionel witnessed the grave and meaning glances which the two
lieutenants of the king exchanged as they simultaneously turned their
glasses from the fatal spot, and taking the one proffered by
Burgoyne, he read their explanation in the numbers of the dead that
lay profusely scattered in front of the redoubt. At this instant, an
officer from the field held an earnest communication with the two
leaders, when, having delivered his orders, he hastened back to his
boat, like one who felt himself employed in matters of life and death.
"It shall be done, sir," repeated Clinton, as the other departed,
his own honest brow sternly knit under high martial excitement.—"The
artillery have their orders, and the work will be accomplished
"This, Major Lincoln!" cried his more sophisticated companion,
"this is one of the trying duties of the soldier! To fight, to bleed,
or even to die, for his prince, is his happy privilege; but it is
sometimes his unfortunate lot to become the instrument of vengeance."
Lionel waited but a moment for an explanation— the flaming balls
were soon seen taking their wide circuit in the air, and carrying
their desolation among the close and inflammable roofs of the
opposite town. In a very few minutes a dense, black smoke arose from
the deserted buildings, and forked flames played actively along the
heated shingles, as though rioting in their unmolested possession of
the place. He regarded the gathering destruction in painful silence;
and on bending his looks towards his companions, he fancied,
notwithstanding the language of the other, that he read the deepest
regret in the averted eye of him who had so unhesitatingly uttered
the fatal mandate to destroy.
In scenes like these we are attempting to describe, hours appear to
be minutes, and time flies as imperceptibly as life slides from
beneath the feet of age. The disordered ranks of the British had been
arrested at the base of the hill, and were again forming under the
eyes of their leaders, with admirable discipline, and extraordinary
care. Fresh battalions, from Boston, marched with high military pride
into the line, and every thing betokened that a second assault was at
hand. When the moment of stupid amazement which succeeded the retreat
of the royal troops had passed, the troops and batteries poured out
their wrath with tenfold fury on their enemies. Shot were incessantly
glancing up the gentle acclivity, madly ploughing across its grassy
surface, while black and threatening shells appeared to hover above
the work like the monsters of the air, about to stoop upon their prey.
Still all lay quiet and immoveable within the low mounds of earth,
as if none there had a stake in the issue of the bloody day. For a few
moments only, the tall figure of an aged man was seen slowly moving
along the summit of the rampart, calmly regarding the dispositions of
the English general in the more distant part of his line, and after
exchanging a few words with a gentleman who joined him in his
dangerous lookout, they disappeared together behind the grassy banks.
Lionel soon detected the name of Prescott of Pepperell, passing
through the crowd in low murmurs, and his glass did not deceive him
when he thought, in the smaller of the two, he had himself descried
the graceful person of the unknown leader of the `caucus.'
All eyes were now watching the advance of the battalions, which
once more drew'nigh the point of contest. The heads of the columns
were already in view of their enemies, when a man was seen swiftly
ascending the hill from the burning town: he paused amid the peril, on
the natural glacis, and swung his hat triumphantly, and Lionel even
fancied he heard the exulting cry, as he recognised the ungainly form
of the simpleton, before it plunged into the work.
The right of the British once more disappeared in the orchard, and
the columns in front of the redoubt again opened with all the imposing
exactness of their high discipline. Their arms were already
glittering in a line with the green faces of the mound, and Lionel
heard the experienced warrior at his side, murmuring to himself—
"Let him hold his fire, and he will go in at the point of the
But the trial was too great for even the practised courage of the
royal troops. Volley succeeded volley, and in a few moments they had
again curtained their ranks behind the misty skreen produced by their
own fire. Then came the terrible flash from the redoubt, and the
eddying volumes from the adverse hosts rolled into one cloud,
enveloping the combatants in its folds, as if to conceal their bloody
work from the spectators. Twenty times in the short space of as many
minutes, Major Lincoln fancied he heard the incessant roll of the
American musketry die away before the heavy and regular volleys of the
troops, and then he thought the sounds of the latter grew more faint,
and were given at longer intervals.
The result, however, was soon known. The heavy bank of smoke which
now even clung along the ground, was broken in fifty places, and the
disordered masses of the British were seen driven before their
deliberate foes, in wild confusion. The flashing swords of the
officers in vain attempted to arrest the torrent, nor did the flight
cease with many of the regiments until they had even reached their
boats. At this moment a hum was heard in Boston like the sudden rush
of wind, and men gazed in each other's faces with undisguised
amazement. Here and there a low sound of exultation escaped some
unguarded lip, and many an eye gleamed with a triumph that could no
longer be suppressed. Until this moment the feelings of Lionel had
vacillated between the pride of country and his military spirit, but
Iosing all other feelings in the latter sensation, he now looked
fiercely about him, as if he would seek the man who dare exult in the
repulse of his comrades. The poetic chieftain was still at his side,
biting his nether lip in vexation; but his more tried companion had
suddenly disappeared. Another quick glance fell upon his missing form
in the act of entering a boat at the foot of the hill. Quicker than
thought, Lionel was on the shore, crying as he flew to the water's
"Hold! for God's sake, hold! remember the 47th is in the field, and
that I am its Major!"
"Receive him," said Clinton, with that grim satisfaction with which
men acknowledge a valued friend in moments of great trial; "and then
row for your lives, or what is of more value, for the honour of the
The brain of Lionel whirled as the boat shot along its watery bed,
but before it had gained the middle of the stream he had time to
consider the whole of the appalling scene. The fire had spread from
house to house, and the whole village of Charlestown, with its four
hundred buildings, was just bursting into flames. The air seemed
filled with whistling balls, as they hurtled above his head, and the
black sides of the vessels of war were vomiting their sheets of flame
with unwearied industry. Amid this tumult the English General and his
companions sprung to land. The former rushed into the disordered
ranks, and by his presence and voice recalled the men of one regiment
to their duty. But long and loud appeals to their spirit and their
ancient fame were necessary to restore a moiety of their former
confidence to men who had been thus rudely repulsed, and who now
looked along their thinned and exhausted ranks, missing in many
instances more than half the well-known countenances of their
fellows. In the midst of the faltering troops stood their stern and
unbending chief; but of all those gay and gallant youths who followed
in his train as he had departed from Province-house that morning, not
one remained, but in his blood. He alone seemed undisturbed in that
disordered crowd; and his mandates went forth as usual, calm and
determined. At length the panic, in some degree, subsided, and order
was once more restored as the high-spirited and mortified gentlemen
of the detachment regained their lost authority.
The leaders consulted together, apart, and the dispositions were
immediately renewed for the assault. Military show was no longer
affected, but the soldiers laid down all the useless implements of
their trade, and many even cast aside their outer garments, under the
warmth of a broiling sun, added to the heat of the conflagration
which began to diffuse itself along the extremity of the peninsula.
Fresh companies were placed in the columns, and most of the troops
were withdrawn from the meadows, leaving merely a few skirmishers to
amuse the Americans who lay behind the fence. When each disposition
was completed, the final signal was given to advance.
Lionel had taken post in his regiment, but marching on the skirt of
the column, he commanded a view of most of the scene of battle. In
his front moved a battalion, reduced to a handful of men in the
previous assaults. Behind these came a party of the marine guards,
from the shipping, led by their own veteran Major; and next followed
the dejected Nesbitt and his corps, amongst whom Lionel looked in vain
for the features of the good-natured Polwarth. Similar columns
marched on their right and left, encircling three sides of the redoubt
by their battalions.
A few minutes brought him in full view of that humble and
unfinished mound of earth, for the possession of which so much blood
had that day been spilt in vain. It lay, as before, still as if none
breathed within its bosom, though a terrific row of dark tubes were
arrayed along its top, following the movements of the approaching
columns, as the eyes of the imaginary charmers of our own wilderness
are said to watch their victims. As the uproar of the artillery again
grew fainter, the crash of falling streets, and the appalling sounds
of the conflagration, on their left, became more audible. Immense
volumes of black smoke issued from the smouldering ruins, and bellying
outward, fold beyond fold, it overhung the work in a hideous cloud,
casting its gloomy shadow across the place of blood.
A strong column was now seen ascending, as if from out the burning
town, and the advance of the whole became quick and spirited. A low
call ran through the platoons, to note the naked weapons of their
adversaries, and it was followed by the cry of "to the bayonet! to the
"Hurrah! for the Royal Irish!" shouted M'Fuse, at the head of the
dark column from the conflagration.
"Hurrah!" echoed a well-known voice from the silent mound; "let
them come on to Breed's; the people will teach'em the law!"
Men think at such moments with the rapidity of lightning, and
Lionel had even fancied his comrades in possession of the work, when
the terrible stream of fire flashed in the faces of the men in front.
"Push on with the —th," cried the veteran Major of
Marines—"push on, or the 18th will get the honour of the day!"
"We cannot," murmured the soldiers of the— th; "their fire is too
"Then break, and let the marines pass through you!"
The feeble battalion melted away, and the warriors of the deep,
trained to conflicts of hand to hand, sprang forward, with a loud
shout, in their places. The Americans, exhausted of their ammunition,
now sunk sullenly back, a few hurling stones at their foes, in
desperate indignation. The cannon of the British had been brought to
enfilade their short breast-work, which was no longer tenable; and as
the columns approached closer to the low rampart, it became a mutual
protection to the adverse parties.
"Hurrah! for the Royal Irish!" again shouted M`Fuse, rushing up the
trifling ascent, which was but of little more than his own height.
"Hurrah!" repeated Pitcairn, waving his sword on another angle of
the work—"the day's our own!"
One more sheet of flame issued out of the bosom of the work, and
all those brave men, who had emulated the examples of their officers,
were swept away, as though a whirlwind had passed along. The
grenadier gave his war-cry once more before he pitched headlong among
his enemies; while Pitcairn fell back into the arms of his own child.
The cry of `forward, 47th,' rung through their ranks, and in their
turn this veteran battalion gallantly mounted the ramparts. In the
shallow ditch Lionel passed the dying marine, and caught the dying
and despairing look from his eyes, and in another instant he found
himself in the presence of his foes. As company followed company into
the defenceless redoubt, the Americans sullenly retired by its rear,
keeping the bayonets of the soldiers at bay with clubbed muskets and
sinewy arms. When the whole issued upon the open ground, the
husbandmen received a close and fatal fire from the battalions which
were now gathering around them on three sides. A scene of wild and
savage confusion then succeeded to the order of the fight, and many
fatal blows were given and taken, the mêlée rendering the use of
fire-arms nearly impossible for several minutes.
Lionel continued in advance, pressing on the footsteps of the
retiring foe, stepping over many a lifeless body in his difficult
progress. Notwithstanding the hurry, and vast disorder of the fray,
his eye fell on the form of the graceful stranger, stretched lifeless
on the parched grass, which had greedily drank his blood. Amid the
ferocious cries, and fiercer passions of the moment, the young man
paused, and glanced his eyes around him with an expression that said,
he thought the work of death should cease. At this instant the
trappings of his attire caught the glaring eye-balls of a dying
yeoman, who exerted his wasting strength to sacrifice one more worthy
victim to the manes of his countrymen. The whole of the tumultuous
scene vanished from the senses of Lionel at the flash of the musket of
this man, and he sunk beneath the feet of the combatants, insensible
of further triumph, and of every danger.
The fall of à single officer, in such a contest, was a circumstance
not to be regarded, and regiments passed over him, without a single
man stooping to inquire into his fate. When the Americans had
disengaged themselves from the troops, they descended into the little
hollow between the two hills, swiftly, and like a disordered crowd,
bearing off most of their wounded, and leaving but few prisoners in
the hands of their foes. The formation of the ground favoured their
retreat, as hundreds of bullets whistled harmlessly above their
heads; and by the time they gained the acclivity of Bunker's, distance
was added to their security. Finding the field lost, the men at the
fence broke away in a body from their position, and abandoned the
meadows; the whole moving in confused masses behind the crest of the
adjacent height. The shouting soldiery followed in their footsteps,
pouring in fruitless and distant volleys; but on the summit of Bunker
their tired platoons were halted, and they beheld the throng move
fearlessly through the tremendous fire that enfiladed the low pass, as
little injured as though most of them bore charmed lives.
The day was now drawing to a close. With the disappearance of their
enemies, the ships and batteries ceased their cannonade, and presently
not a musket was heard in that place where so fierce a contest had so
long raged. The troops commenced fortifying the outward eminence on
which they rested, in order to maintain their barren conquest, and
nothing further remained for the achievement of the royal lieutenants
but to go and mourn over their victory.
END OF VOL. 1.