Etexts from Twice Told Tales
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Part 1 out of 5

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The Gray Champion
The Wedding Knell
The Minister's Black Veil
The May-Pole of Merry Mount
The Gentle Boy
Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe
The Great Carbuncle
David Swan
The Hollow of the Three Hills
Dr. Heidegger's Experiment
Legends of the Province House
I. Howe's Masquerade
II. Edward Randolph's Portrait
III. Lady Eleanore's Mantle
IV. Old Esther Dudley
The Ambitious Guest
Peter Goldthwaite's Treasure
The Shaker Bridal
Endicott and the Red Cross



There was once a time when New England groaned under the actual
pressure of heavier wrongs than those threatened ones which
brought on the Revolution. James II, the bigoted successor of
Charles the Voluptuous, had annulled the charters of all the
colonies, and sent a harsh and unprincipled soldier to take away
our liberties and endanger our religion. The administration of
Sir Edmund Andros lacked scarcely a single characteristic of
tyranny: a Governor and Council, holding office from the King,
and wholly independent of the country; laws made and taxes levied
without concurrence of the people immediate or by their
representatives; the rights of private citizens violated, and the
titles of all landed property declared void; the voice of
complaint stifled by restrictions on the press; and, finally,
disaffection overawed by the first band of mercenary troops that
ever marched on our free soil. For two years our ancestors were
kept in sullen submission by that filial love which had
invariably secured their allegiance to the mother country,
whether its head chanced to be a Parliament, Protector, or Popish
Monarch. Till these evil times, however, such allegiance had been
merely nominal, and the colonists had ruled themselves, enjoying
far more freedom than is even yet the privilege of the native
subjects of Great Britain.

At length a rumor reached our shores that the Prince of Orange
had ventured on an enterprise, the success of which would be the
triumph of civil and religious rights and the salvation of New
England. It was but a doubtful whisper: it might be false, or the
attempt might fail; and, in either case, the man that stirred
against King James would lose his head. Still the intelligence
produced a marked effect. The people smiled mysteriously in the
streets, and threw bold glances at their oppressors; while far
and wide there was a subdued and silent agitation, as if the
slightest signal would rouse the whole land from its sluggish
despondency. Aware of their danger, the rulers resolved to avert
it by an imposing display of strength, and perhaps to confirm
their despotism by yet harsher measures. One afternoon in April,
1689, Sir Edmund Andros and his favorite councillors, being warm
with wine, assembled the red-coats of the Governor's Guard, and
made their appearance in the streets of Boston. The sun was near
setting when the march commenced.

The roll of the drum at that unquiet crisis seemed to go through
the streets, less as the martial music of the soldiers, than as a
muster-call to the inhabitants themselves. A multitude, by
various avenues, assembled in King Street, which was destined to
be the scene, nearly a century afterwards, of another encounter
between the troops of Britain, and a people struggling against
her tyranny. Though more than sixty years had elapsed since the
pilgrims came, this crowd of their descendants still showed the
strong and sombre features of their character perhaps more
strikingly in such a stern emergency than on happier occasions.
There were the sober garb, the general severity of mien, the
gloomy but undismayed expression, the scriptural forms of speech,
and the confidence in Heaven's blessing on a righteous cause,
which would have marked a band of the original Puritans, when
threatened by some peril of the wilderness. Indeed, it was not
yet time for the old spirit to be extinct; since there were men
in the street that day who had worshipped there beneath the
trees, before a house was reared to the God for whom they had
become exiles. Old soldiers of the Parliament were here, too,
smiling grimly at the thought that their aged arms might strike
another blow against the house of Stuart. Here, also, were the
veterans of King Philip's war, who had burned villages and
slaughtered young and old, with pious fierceness, while the godly
souls throughout the land were helping them with prayer. Several
ministers were scattered among the crowd, which, unlike all other
mobs, regarded them with such reverence, as if there were
sanctity in their very garments. These holy men exerted their
influence to quiet the people, but not to disperse them.
Meantime, the purpose of the Governor, in disturbing the peace of
the town at a period when the slightest commotion might throw the
country into a ferment, was almost the universal subject of
inquiry, and variously explained.

"Satan will strike his master-stroke presently," cried some,
"because he knoweth that his time is short. All our godly pastors
are to be dragged to prison! We shall see them at a Smithfield
fire in King Street!"

Hereupon the people of each parish gathered closer round their
minister, who looked calmly upwards and assumed a more apostolic
dignity, as well befitted a candidate for the highest honor of
his profession, the crown of martyrdom. It was actually fancied,
at that period, that New England might have a John Rogers of her
own to take the place of that worthy in the Primer.

"The Pope of Rome has given orders for a new St. Bartholomew!"
cried others. "We are to be massacred, man and male child!"

Neither was this rumor wholly discredited, although the wiser
class believed the Governor's object somewhat less atrocious. His
predecessor under the old charter, Bradstreet, a venerable
companion of the first settlers, was known to be in town. There
were grounds for conjecturing, that Sir Edmund Andros intended at
once to strike terror by a parade of military force, and to
confound the opposite faction by possessing himself of their

"Stand firm for the old charter Governor!" shouted the crowd,
seizing upon the idea. "The good old Governor Bradstreet!"

While this cry was at the loudest, the people were surprised by
the well-known figure of Governor Bradstreet himself, a patriarch
of nearly ninety, who appeared on the elevated steps of a door,
and, with characteristic mildness, besought them to submit to the
constituted authorities.

"My children," concluded this venerable person, "do nothing
rashly. Cry not aloud, but pray for the welfare of New England,
and expect patiently what the Lord will do in this matter!"

The event was soon to be decided. All this time, the roll of the
drum had been approaching through Cornhill, louder and deeper,
till with reverberations from house to house, and the regular
tramp of martial footsteps, it burst into the street. A double
rank of soldiers made their appearance, occupying the whole
breadth of the passage, with shouldered matchlocks, and matches
burning, so as to present a row of fires in the dusk. Their
steady march was like the progress of a machine, that would roll
irresistibly over everything in its way. Next, moving slowly,
with a confused clatter of hoofs on the pavement, rode a party of
mounted gentlemen, the central figure being Sir Edmund Andros,
elderly, but erect and soldier-like. Those around him were his
favorite councillors, and the bitterest foes of New England. At
his right hand rode Edward Randolph, our arch-enemy, that
"blasted wretch," as Cotton Mather calls him, who achieved the
downfall of our ancient government, and was followed with a
sensible curse, through life and to his grave. On the other side
was Bullivant, scattering jests and mockery as he rode along.
Dudley came behind, with a downcast look, dreading, as well he
might, to meet the indignant gaze of the people, who beheld him,
their only countryman by birth, among the oppressors of his
native land. The captain of a frigate in the harbor, and two or
three civil officers under the Crown, were also there. But the
figure which most attracted the public eye, and stirred up the
deepest feeling, was the Episcopal clergyman of King's Chapel,
riding haughtily among the magistrates in his priestly vestments,
the fitting representatives of prelacy and persecution, the union
of church and state, and all those abominations which had driven
the Puritans to the wilderness. Another guard of soldiers, in
double rank, brought up the rear.

The whole scene was a picture of the condition of New England,
and its moral, the deformity of any government that does not grow
out of the nature of things and the character of the people. On
one side the religious multitude, with their sad visages and dark
attire, and on the other, the group of despotic rulers, with the
high churchman in the midst, and here and there a crucifix at
their bosoms, all magnificently clad, flushed with wine, proud of
unjust authority, and scoffing at the universal groan. And the
mercenary soldiers, waiting but the word to deluge the street
with blood, showed the only means by which obedience could be

"O Lord of Hosts," cried a voice among the crowd, "provide a
Champion for thy people!"

This ejaculation was loudly uttered, and served as a herald's
cry, to introduce a remarkable personage. The crowd had rolled
back, and were now huddled together nearly at the extremity of
the street, while the soldiers had advanced no more than a third
of its length. The intervening space was empty--a paved solitude,
between lofty edifices, which threw almost a twilight shadow over
it. Suddenly, there was seen the figure of an ancient man, who
seemed to have emerged from among the people, and was walking by
himself along the centre of the street, to confront the armed
band. He wore the old Puritan dress, a dark cloak and a
steeplecrowned hat, in the fashion of at least fifty years
before, with a heavy sword upon his thigh, but a staff in his
hand to assist the tremulous gait of age.

When at some distance from the multitude, the old man turned
slowly round, displaying a face of antique majesty, rendered
doubly venerable by the hoary beard that descended on his breast.
He made a gesture at once of encouragement and warning, then
turned again, and resumed his way.

"Who is this gray patriarch?" asked the young men of their sires.

"Who is this venerable brother?" asked the old men among

But none could make reply. The fathers of the people, those of
fourscore years and upwards, were disturbed, deeming it strange
that they should forget one of such evident authority, whom they
must have known in their early days, the associate of Winthrop,
and all the old councillors, giving laws, and making prayers, and
leading them against the savage. The elderly men ought to have
remembered him, too, with locks as gray in their youth, as their
own were now. And the young! How could he have passed so utterly
from their memories--that hoary sire, the relic of longdeparted
times, whose awful benediction had surely been bestowed on their
uncovered heads, in childhood?

"Whence did he come? What is his purpose? Who can this old man
be?" whispered the wondering crowd.

Meanwhile, the venerable stranger, staff in hand, was pursuing
his solitary walk along the centre of the street. As he drew near
the advancing soldiers, and as the roll of their drum came full
upon his ears, the old man raised himself to a loftier mien,
while the decrepitude of age seemed to fall from his shoulders,
leaving him in gray but unbroken dignity. Now, he marched onward
with a warrior's step, keeping time to the military music. Thus
the aged form advanced on one side, and the whole parade of
soldiers and magistrates on the other, till, when scarcely twenty
yards remained between, the old man grasped his staff by the
middle, and held it before him like a leader's truncheon.

"Stand!" cried he.

The eye, the face, and attitude of command; the solemn, yet
warlike peal of that voice, fit either to rule a host in the
battle-field or be raised to God in prayer, were irresistible. At
the old man's word and outstretched arm, the roll of the drum was
hushed at once, and the advancing line stood still. A tremulous
enthusiasm seized upon the multitude. That stately form,
combining the leader and the saint, so gray, so dimly seen, in
such an ancient garb, could only belong to some old champion of
the righteous cause, whom the oppressor's drum had summoned from
his grave. They raised a shout of awe and exultation, and looked
for the deliverance of New England.

The Governor, and the gentlemen of his party, perceiving
themselves brought to an unexpected stand, rode hastily forward,
as if they would have pressed their snorting and affrighted
horses right against the hoary apparition. He, however, blenched
not a step, but glancing his severe eye round the group, which
half encompassed him, at last bent it sternly on Sir Edmund
Andros. One would have thought that the dark old man was chief
ruler there, and that the Governor and Council, with soldiers at
their back, representing the whole power and authority of the
Crown, had no alternative but obedience.

"What does this old fellow here?" cried Edward Randolph,
fiercely. "On, Sir Edmund! Bid the soldiers forward, and give the
dotard the same choice that you give all his countrymen--to stand
aside or be trampled on!"

"Nay, nay, let us show respect to the good grandsire," said
Bullivant, laughing. "See you not, he is some old round-headed
dignitary, who hath lain asleep these thirty years, and knows
nothing o' the change of times? Doubtless, he thinks to put us
down with a proclamation in Old Noll's name!"

"Are you mad, old man?" demanded Sir Edmund Andros, in loud and
harsh tones. "How dare you stay the march of King James's

"I have stayed the march of a King himself, ere now," replied the
gray figure, with stern composure. "I am here, Sir Governor,
because the cry of an oppressed people hath disturbed me in my
secret place; and beseeching this favor earnestly of the Lord, it
was vouchsafed me to appear once again on earth, in the good old
cause of his saints. And what speak ye of James? There is no
longer a Popish tyrant on the throne of England, and by to-morrow
noon, his name shall be a byword in this very street, where ye
would make it a word of terror. Back, thou wast a Governor, back!
With this night thy power is ended--to-morrow, the prison!--back,
lest I foretell the scaffold!"

The people had been drawing nearer and nearer, and drinking in
the words of their champion, who spoke in accents long disused,
like one unaccustomed to converse, except with the dead of many
years ago. But his voice stirred their souls. They confronted the
soldiers, not wholly without arms, and ready to convert the very
stones of the street into deadly weapons. Sir Edmund Andros
looked at the old man; then he cast his hard and cruel eye over
the multitude, and beheld them burning with that lurid wrath, so
difficult to kindle or to quench; and again he fixed his gaze on
the aged form, which stood obscurely in an open space, where
neither friend nor foe had thrust himself. What were his
thoughts, he uttered no word which might discover. But whether
the oppressor were overawed by the Gray Champion's look, or
perceived his peril in the threatening attitude of the people, it
is certain that he gave back, and ordered his soldiers to
commence a slow and guarded retreat. Before another sunset, the
Governor, and all that rode so proudly with him, were prisoners,
and long ere it was known that James had abdicated, King William
was proclaimed throughout New England.

But where was the Gray Champion? Some reported that, when the
troops had gone from King Street, and the people were thronging
tumultuously in their rear, Bradstreet, the aged Governor, was
seen to embrace a form more aged than his own. Others soberly
affirmed, that while they marvelled at the venerable grandeur of
his aspect, the old man had faded from their eyes, melting slowly
into the hues of twilight, till, where he stood, there was an
empty space. But all agreed that the hoary shape was gone. The
men of that generation watched for his reappearance, in sunshine
and in twilight, but never saw him more, nor knew when his
funeral passed, nor where his gravestone was.

And who was the Gray Champion? Perhaps his name might be found in
the records of that stern Court of Justice, which passed a
sentence, too mighty for the age, but glorious in all
after-times, for its humbling lesson to the monarch and its high
example to the subject. I have heard, that whenever the
descendants of the Puritans are to show the spirit of their
sires, the old man appears again. When eighty years had passed,
he walked once more in King Street. Five years later, in the
twilight of an April morning, he stood on the green, beside the
meeting-house, at Lexington, where now the obelisk of granite,
with a slab of slate inlaid, commemorates the first fallen of the
Revolutions. And when our fathers were toiling at the breastwork
on Bunker's Hill, all through that night the old warrior walked
his rounds. Long, long may it be, ere he comes again! His hour is
one of darkness, and adversity, and peril. But should domestic
tyranny oppress us, or the invader's step pollute our soil, still
may the Gray Champion come, for he is the type of New England's
hereditary spirit; and his shadowy march, on the eve of danger,
must ever be the pledge, that New England's sons will vindicate
their ancestry.


There is a certain church in the city of New York which I have
always regarded with peculiar interest, on account of a marriage
there solemnized, under very singular circumstances, in my
grandmother's girlhood. That venerable lady chanced to be a
spectator of the scene, and ever after made it her favorite
narrative. Whether the edifice now standing on the same site be
the identical one to which she referred, I am not antiquarian
enough to know; nor would it be worth while to correct myself,
perhaps, of an agreeable error, by reading the date of its
erection on the tablet over the door. It is a stately church,
surrounded by an inclosure of the loveliest green, within which
appear urns, pillars, obelisks, and other forms of monumental
marble, the tributes of private affection, or more splendid
memorials of historic dust. With such a place, though the tumult
of the city rolls beneath its tower, one would be willing to
connect some legendary interest.

The marriage might be considered as the result of an early
engagement, though there had been two intermediate weddings on
the lady's part, and forty years of celibacy on that of the
gentleman. At sixty-five, Mr. Ellenwood was a shy, but not quite
a secluded man; selfish, like all men who brood over their own
hearts, yet manifesting on rare occasions a vein of generous
sentiment; a scholar throughout life, though always an indolent
one, because his studies had no definite object, either of public
advantage or personal ambition; a gentleman, high bred and
fastidiously delicate, yet sometimes requiring a considerable
relaxation, in his behalf, of the common rules of society. In
truth, there were so many anomalies in his character, and though
shrinking with diseased sensibility from public notice, it had
been his fatality so often to become the topic of the day, by
some wild eccentricity of conduct, that people searched his
lineage for an hereditary taint of insanity. But there was no
need of this. His caprices had their origin in a mind that lacked
the support of an engrossing purpose, and in feelings that preyed
upon themselves for want of other food. If he were mad, it was
the consequence, and not the cause, of an aimless and abortive

The widow was as complete a contrast to her third bridegroom, in
everything but age, as can well be conceived. Compelled to
relinquish her first engagement, she had been united to a man of
twice her own years, to whom she became an exemplary wife, and by
whose death she was left in possession of a splendid fortune. A
southern gentleman, considerably younger than herself, succeeded
to her hand, and carried her to Charleston, where, after many
uncomfortable years, she found herself again a widow. It would
have been singular, if any uncommon delicacy of feeling had
survived through such a life as Mrs. Dabney's; it could not but
be crushed and killed by her early disappointment, the cold duty
of her first marriage, the dislocation of the heart's principles,
consequent on a second union, and the unkindness of her southern
husband, which had inevitably driven her to connect the idea of
his death with that of her comfort. To be brief, she was that
wisest, but unloveliest, variety of woman, a philosopher, bearing
troubles of the heart with equanimity, dispensing with all that
should have been her happiness, and making the best of what
remained. Sage in most matters, the widow was perhaps the more
amiable for the one frailty that made her ridiculous. Being
childless, she could not remain beautiful by proxy, in the person
of a daughter; she therefore refused to grow old and ugly, on any
consideration; she struggled with Time, and held fast her roses
in spite of him, till the venerable thief appeared to have
relinquished the spoil, as not worth the trouble of acquiring it.

The approaching marriage of this woman of the world with such an
unworldly man as Mr. Ellenwood was announced soon after Mrs.
Dabney's return to her native city. Superficial observers, and
deeper ones, seemed to concur in supposing that the lady must
have borne no inactive part in arranging the affair; there were
considerations of expediency which she would be far more likely
to appreciate than Mr. Ellenwood; and there was just the specious
phantom of sentiment and romance in this late union of two early
lovers which sometimes makes a fool of a woman who has lost her
true feelings among the accidents of life. All the wonder was,
how the gentleman, with his lack of worldly wisdom and agonizing
consciousness of ridicule, could have been induced to take a
measure at once so prudent and so laughable. But while people
talked the wedding-day arrived. The ceremony was to be solemnized
according to the Episcopalian forms, and in open church, with a
degree of publicity that attracted many spectators, who occupied
the front seats of the galleries, and the pews near the altar and
along the broad aisle. It had been arranged, or possibly it was
the custom of the day, that the parties should proceed separately
to church. By some accident the bridegroom was a little less
punctual than the widow and her bridal attendants; with whose
arrival, after this tedious, but necessary preface, the action of
our tale may be said to commence.

The clumsy wheels of several old-fashioned coaches were heard,
and the gentlemen and ladies composing the bridal party came
through the church door with the sudden and gladsome effect of a
burst of sunshine. The whole group, except the principal figure,
was made up of youth and gayety. As they streamed up the broad
aisle, while the pews and pillars seemed to brighten on either
side, their steps were as buoyant as if they mistook the church
for a ball-room, and were ready to dance hand in hand to the
altar. So brilliant was the spectacle that few took notice of a
singular phenomenon that had marked its entrance. At the moment
when the bride's foot touched the threshold the bell swung
heavily in the tower above her, and sent forth its deepest knell.
The vibrations died away and returned with prolonged solemnity,
as she entered the body of the church.

"Good heavens! what an omen," whispered a young lady to her

"On my honor," replied the gentleman, "I believe the bell has the
good taste to toll of its own accord. What has she to do with
weddings? If you, dearest Julia, were approaching the altar the
bell would ring out its merriest peal. It has only a funeral
knell for her."

The bride and most of her company had been too much occupied with
the bustle of entrance to hear the first boding stroke of the
bell, or at least to reflect on the singularity of such a welcome
to the altar. They therefore continued to advance with
undiminished gayety. The gorgeous dresses of the time, the
crimson velvet coats, the gold-laced hats, the hoop petticoats,
the silk, satin, brocade, and embroidery, the buckles, canes, and
swords, all displayed to the best advantage on persons suited to
such finery, made the group appear more like a bright-colored
picture than anything real. But by what perversity of taste had
the artist represented his principal figure as so wrinkled and
decayed, while yet he had decked her out in the brightest
splendor of attire, as if the loveliest maiden had suddenly
withered into age, and become a moral to the beautiful around
her! On they went, however, and had glittered along about a third
of the aisle, when another stroke of the bell seemed to fill the
church with a visible gloom, dimming and obscuring the bright
pageant, till it shone forth again as from a mist.

This time the party wavered, stopped, and huddled closer
together, while a slight scream was heard from some of the
ladies, and a confused whispering among the gentlemen. Thus
tossing to and fro, they might have been fancifully compared to a
splendid bunch of flowers, suddenly shaken by a puff of wind,
which threatened to scatter the leaves of an old, brown, withered
rose, on the same stalk with two dewy buds,--such being the
emblem of the widow between her fair young bridemaids. But her
heroism was admirable. She had started with an irrepressible
shudder, as if the stroke of the bell had fallen directly on her
heart; then, recovering herself, while her attendants were yet in
dismay, she took the lead, and paced calmly up the aisle. The
bell continued to swing, strike, and vibrate, with the same
doleful regularity as when a corpse is on its way to the tomb.

"My young friends here have their nerves a little shaken," said
the widow, with a smile, to the clergyman at the altar. "But so
many weddings have been ushered in with the merriest peal of the
bells, and yet turned out unhappily, that I shall hope for better
fortune under such different auspices."

"Madam," answered the rector, in great perplexity, "this strange
occurrence brings to my mind a marriage sermon of the famous
Bishop Taylor, wherein he mingles so many thoughts of mortality
and future woe, that, to speak somewhat after his own rich style,
he seems to hang the bridal chamber in black, and cut the wedding
garment out of a coffin pall. And it has been the custom of
divers nations to infuse something of sadness into their marriage
ceremonies, so to keep death in mind while contracting that
engagement which is life's chiefest business. Thus we may draw a
sad but profitable moral from this funeral knell."

But, though the clergyman might have given his moral even a
keener point, he did not fail to dispatch an attendant to inquire
into the mystery, and stop those sounds, so dismally appropriate
to such a marriage. A brief space elapsed, during which the
silence was broken only by whispers, and a few suppressed
titterings, among the wedding party and the spectators, who,
after the first shock, were disposed to draw an ill-natured
merriment from the affair. The young have less charity for aged
follies than the old for those of youth. The widow's glance was
observed to wander, for an instant, towards a window of the
church, as if searching for the time-worn marble that she had
dedicated to her first husband; then her eyelids dropped over
their faded orbs, and her thoughts were drawn irresistibly to
another grave. Two buried men, with a voice at her ear, and a cry
afar off, were calling her to lie down beside them. Perhaps, with
momentary truth of feeling, she thought how much happier had been
her fate, if, after years of bliss, the bell were now tolling for
her funeral, and she were followed to the grave by the old
affection of her earliest lover, long her husband. But why had
she returned to him, when their cold hearts shrank from each
other's embrace?

Still the death-bell tolled so mournfully, that the sunshine
seemed to fade in the air. A whisper, communicated from those who
stood nearest the windows, now spread through the church; a
hearse, with a train of several coaches, was creeping along the
street, conveying some dead man to the churchyard, while the
bride awaited a living one at the altar. Immediately after, the
footsteps of the bridegroom and his friends were heard at the
door. The widow looked down the aisle, and clinched the arm of
one of her bridemaids in her bony hand with such unconscious
violence, that the fair girl trembled.

"You frighten me, my dear madam!" cried she. "For Heaven's sake,
what is the matter?"

"Nothing, my dear, nothing," said the widow; then, whispering
close to her ear, "There is a foolish fancy that I cannot get rid
of. I am expecting my bridegroom to come into the church, with my
first two husbands for groomsmen!"

"Look, look!" screamed the bridemaid. "What is here? The

As she spoke, a dark procession paced into the church. First came
an old man and women, like chief mourners at a funeral, attired
from head to foot in the deepest black, all but their pale
features and hoary hair; he leaning on a staff, and supporting
her decrepit form with his nerveless arm. Behind appeared
another, and another pair, as aged, as black, and mournful as the
first. As they drew near, the widow recognized in every face some
trait of former friends, long forgotten, but now returning, as if
from their old graves, to warn her to prepare a shroud; or, with
purpose almost as unwelcome, to exhibit their wrinkles and
infirmity, and claim her as their companion by the tokens of her
own decay. Many a merry night had she danced with them, in youth.
And now, in joyless age, she felt that some withered partner
should request her hand, and all unite, in a dance of death, to
the music of the funeral bell.

While these aged mourners were passing up the aisle, it was
observed that, from pew to pew, the spectators shuddered with
irrepressible awe, as some object, hitherto concealed by the
intervening figures, came full in sight. Many turned away their
faces; others kept a fixed and rigid stare; and a young girl
giggled hysterically, and fainted with the laughter on her lips.
When the spectral procession approached the altar, each couple
separated, and slowly diverged, till, in the centre, appeared a
form, that had been worthily ushered in with all this gloomy
pomp, the death knell, and the funeral. It was the bridegroom in
his shroud!

No garb but that of the grave could have befitted such a
deathlike aspect; the eyes, indeed, had the wild gleam of a
sepulchral lamp; all else was fixed in the stern calmness which
old men wear in the coffin. The corpse stood motionless, but
addressed the widow in accents that seemed to melt into the clang
of the bell, which fell heavily on the air while he spoke.

"Come, my bride!" said those pale lips, "the hearse is ready. The
sexton stands waiting for us at the door of the tomb. Let us be
married; and then to our coffins!"

How shall the widow's horror be represented? It gave her the
ghastliness of a dead man's bride. Her youthful friends stood
apart, shuddering at the mourners, the shrouded bridegroom, and
herself; the whole scene expressed, by the strongest imagery, the
vain struggle of the gilded vanities of this world, when opposed
to age, infirmity, sorrow, and death. The awe-struck silence was
first broken by the clergyman.

"Mr. Ellenwood," said he, soothingly, yet with somewhat of
authority, "you are not well. Your mind has been agitated by the
unusual circumstances in which you are placed. The ceremony must
be deferred. As an old friend, let me entreat you to return

"Home! yes, but not without my bride," answered he, in the same
hollow accents. "You deem this mockery; perhaps madness. Had I
bedizened my aged and broken frame with scarlet and
embroidery--had I forced my withered lips to smile at my dead
heart--that might have been mockery, or madness. But now, let
young and old declare, which of us has come hither without a
wedding garment, the bridegroom or the bride!"

He stepped forward at a ghostly pace, and stood beside the widow,
contrasting the awful simplicity of his shroud with the glare and
glitter in which she had arrayed herself for this unhappy scene.
None, that beheld them, could deny the terrible strength of the
moral which his disordered intellect had contrived to draw.

"Cruel! cruel!" groaned the heart-stricken bride.

"Cruel!" repeated he; then, losing his deathlike composure in a
wild bitterness: "Heaven judge which of us has been cruel to the
other! In youth you deprived me of my happiness, my hopes, my
aims; you took away all the substance of my life, and made it a
dream without reality enough even to grieve at--with only a
pervading gloom, through which I walked wearily, and cared not
whither. But after forty years, when I have built my tomb, and
would not give up the thought of resting there--nor not for such
a life as we once pictured--you call me to the altar. At your
summons I am here. But other husbands have enjoyed your youth,
your beauty, your warmth of heart, and all that could be termed
your life. What is there for me but your decay and death? And
therefore I have bidden these funeral friends, and bespoken the
sexton's deepest knell, and am come, in my shroud, to wed you, as
with a burial service, that we may join our hands at the door of
the sepulchre, and enter it together."

It was not frenzy; it was not merely the drunkenness of strong
emotion, in a heart unused to it, that now wrought upon the
bride. The stern lesson of the day had done its work; her
worldliness was gone. She seized the bridegroom's hand.

"Yes!" cried she. "Let us wed, even at the door of the sepulchre!
My life is gone in vanity and emptiness. But at its close there
is one true feeling. It has made me what I was in youth; it makes
me worthy of you. Time is no more for both of us. Let us wed for

With a long and deep regard, the bridegroom looked into her eyes,
while a tear was gathering in his own. How strange that gush of
human feeling from the frozen bosom of a corpse! He wiped away
the tears even with his shroud.

"Beloved of my youth," said he, "I have been wild. The despair of
my whole lifetime had returned at once, and maddened me. Forgive;
and be forgiven. Yes; it is evening with us now; and we have
realized none of our morning dreams of happiness. But let us join
our hands before the altar as lovers whom adverse circumstances
have separated through life, yet who meet again as they are
leaving it, and find their earthly affection changed into
something holy as religion. And what is Time, to the married of

Amid the tears of many, and a swell of exalted sentiment, in
those who felt aright, was solemnized the union of two immortal
souls. The train of withered mourners, the hoary bridegroom in
his shroud, the pale features of the aged bride, and the
death-bell tolling through the whole, till its deep voice
overpowered the marriage words, all marked the funeral of earthly
hopes. But as the ceremony proceeded, the organ, as if stirred by
the sympathies of this impressive scene, poured forth an anthem,
first mingling with the dismal knell, then rising to a loftier
strain, till the soul looked down upon its woe. And when the
awful rite was finished, and with cold hand in cold hand, the
Married of Eternity withdrew, the organ's peal of solemn triumph
drowned the Wedding Knell.


[1] Another clergyman in New England, Mr. Joseph Moody, of York,
Maine, who died about eighty years since, made himself remarkable
by the same eccentricity that is here related of the Reverend Mr.
Hooper. In his case, however, the symbol had a different import.
In early life he had accidentally killed a beloved friend, and
from that day till the hour of his own death, he hid his face
from men.

The sexton stood in the porch of Milford meeting-house, pulling
busily at the bell-rope. The old people of the village came
stooping along the street. Children, with bright faces, tripped
merrily beside their parents, or mimicked a graver gait, in the
conscious dignity of their Sunday clothes. Spruce bachelors
looked sidelong at the pretty maidens, and fancied that the
Sabbath sunshine made them prettier than on week days. When the
throng had mostly streamed into the porch, the sexton began to
toll the bell, keeping his eye on the Reverend Mr. Hooper's door.
The first glimpse of the clergyman's figure was the signal for
the bell to cease its summons.

"But what has good Parson Hooper got upon his face?" cried the
sexton in astonishment.

All within hearing immediately turned about, and beheld the
semblance of Mr. Hooper, pacing slowly his meditative way towards
the meetinghouse. With one accord they started, expressing more
wonder than if some strange minister were coming to dust the
cushions of Mr. Hooper's pulpit.

"Are you sure it is our parson?" inquired Goodman Gray of the

"Of a certainty it is good Mr. Hooper," replied the sexton. "He
was to have exchanged pulpits with Parson Shute, of Westbury; but
Parson Shute sent to excuse himself yesterday, being to preach a
funeral sermon."

The cause of so much amazement may appear sufficiently slight.
Mr. Hooper, a gentlemanly person, of about thirty, though still a
bachelor, was dressed with due clerical neatness, as if a careful
wife had starched his band, and brushed the weekly dust from his
Sunday's garb. There was but one thing remarkable in his
appearance. Swathed about his forehead, and hanging down over his
face, so low as to be shaken by his breath, Mr. Hooper had on a
black veil. On a nearer view it seemed to consist of two folds of
crape, which entirely concealed his features, except the mouth
and chin, but probably did not intercept his sight, further than
to give a darkened aspect to all living and inanimate things.
With this gloomy shade before him, good Mr. Hooper walked onward,
at a slow and quiet pace, stooping somewhat, and looking on the
ground, as is customary with abstracted men, yet nodding kindly
to those of his parishioners who still waited on the
meeting-house steps. But so wonder-struck were they that his
greeting hardly met with a return.

"I can't really feel as if good Mr. Hooper's face was behind that
piece of crape," said the sexton.

"I don't like it," muttered an old woman, as she hobbled into the
meeting-house. "He has changed himself into something awful, only
by hiding his face."

"Our parson has gone mad!" cried Goodman Gray, following him
across the threshold.

A rumor of some unaccountable phenomenon had preceded Mr. Hooper
into the meeting-house, and set all the congregation astir. Few
could refrain from twisting their heads towards the door; many
stood upright, and turned directly about; while several little
boys clambered upon the seats, and came down again with a
terrible racket. There was a general bustle, a rustling of the
women's gowns and shuffling of the men's feet, greatly at
variance with that hushed repose which should attend the entrance
of the minister. But Mr. Hooper appeared not to notice the
perturbation of his people. He entered with an almost noiseless
step, bent his head mildly to the pews on each side, and bowed as
he passed his oldest parishioner, a white-haired great grandsire,
who occupied an arm-chair in the centre of the aisle. It was
strange to observe how slowly this venerable man became conscious
of something singular in the appearance of his pastor. He seemed
not fully to partake of the prevailing wonder, till Mr. Hooper
had ascended the stairs, and showed himself in the pulpit, face
to face with his congregation, except for the black veil. That
mysterious emblem was never once withdrawn. It shook with his
measured breath, as he gave out the psalm; it threw its obscurity
between him and the holy page, as he read the Scriptures; and
while he prayed, the veil lay heavily on his uplifted
countenance. Did he seek to hide it from the dread Being whom he
was addressing?

Such was the effect of this simple piece of crape, that more than
one woman of delicate nerves was forced to leave the
meeting-house. Yet perhaps the pale-faced congregation was almost
as fearful a sight to the minister, as his black veil to them.

Mr. Hooper had the reputation of a good preacher, but not an
energetic one: he strove to win his people heavenward by mild,
persuasive influences, rather than to drive them thither by the
thunders of the Word. The sermon which he now delivered was
marked by the same characteristics of style and manner as the
general series of his pulpit oratory. But there was something,
either in the sentiment of the discourse itself, or in the
imagination of the auditors, which made it greatly the most
powerful effort that they had ever heard from their pastor's
lips. It was tinged, rather more darkly than usual, with the
gentle gloom of Mr. Hooper's temperament. The subject had
reference to secret sin, and those sad mysteries which we hide
from our nearest and dearest, and would fain conceal from our own
consciousness, even forgetting that the Omniscient can detect
them. A subtle power was breathed into his words. Each member of
the congregation, the most innocent girl, and the man of hardened
breast, felt as if the preacher had crept upon them, behind his
awful veil, and discovered their hoarded iniquity of deed or
thought. Many spread their clasped hands on their bosoms. There
was nothing terrible in what Mr. Hooper said, at least, no
violence; and yet, with every tremor of his melancholy voice, the
hearers quaked. An unsought pathos came hand in hand with awe. So
sensible were the audience of some unwonted attribute in their
minister, that they longed for a breath of wind to blow aside the
veil, almost believing that a stranger's visage would be
discovered, though the form, gesture, and voice were those of Mr.

At the close of the services, the people hurried out with
indecorous confusion, eager to communicate their pent-up
amazement, and conscious of lighter spirits the moment they lost
sight of the black veil. Some gathered in little circles, huddled
closely together, with their mouths all whispering in the centre;
some went homeward alone, wrapt in silent meditation; some talked
loudly, and profaned the Sabbath day with ostentatious laughter.
A few shook their sagacious heads, intimating that they could
penetrate the mystery; while one or two affirmed that there was
no mystery at all, but only that Mr. Hooper's eyes were so
weakened by the midnight lamp, as to require a shade. After a
brief interval, forth came good Mr. Hooper also, in the rear of
his flock. Turning his veiled face from one group to another, he
paid due reverence to the hoary heads, saluted the middle aged
with kind dignity as their friend and spiritual guide, greeted
the young with mingled authority and love, and laid his hands on
the little children's heads to bless them. Such was always his
custom on the Sabbath day. Strange and bewildered looks repaid
him for his courtesy. None, as on former occasions, aspired to
the honor of walking by their pastor's side. Old Squire Saunders,
doubtless by an accidental lapse of memory, neglected to invite
Mr. Hooper to his table, where the good clergyman had been wont
to bless the food, almost every Sunday since his settlement. He
returned, therefore, to the parsonage, and, at the moment of
closing the door, was observed to look back upon the people, all
of whom had their eyes fixed upon the minister. A sad smile
gleamed faintly from beneath the black veil, and flickered about
his mouth, glimmering as he disappeared.

"How strange," said a lady, "that a simple black veil, such as
any woman might wear on her bonnet, should become such a terrible
thing on Mr. Hooper's face!"

"Something must surely be amiss with Mr. Hooper's intellects,"
observed her husband, the physician of the village. "But the
strangest part of the affair is the effect of this vagary, even
on a sober-minded man like myself. The black veil, though it
covers only our pastor's face, throws its influence over his
whole person, and makes him ghostlike from head to foot. Do you
not feel it so?"

"Truly do I," replied the lady; "and I would not be alone with
him for the world. I wonder he is not afraid to be alone with

"Men sometimes are so," said her husband.

The afternoon service was attended with similar circumstances. At
its conclusion, the bell tolled for the funeral of a young lady.
The relatives and friends were assembled in the house, and the
more distant acquaintances stood about the door, speaking of the
good qualities of the deceased, when their talk was interrupted
by the appearance of Mr. Hooper, still covered with his black
veil. It was now an appropriate emblem. The clergyman stepped
into the room where the corpse was laid, and bent over the
coffin, to take a last farewell of his deceased parishioner. As
he stooped, the veil hung straight down from his forehead, so
that, if her eyelids had not been closed forever, the dead maiden
might have seen his face. Could Mr. Hooper be fearful of her
glance, that he so hastily caught back the black veil? A person
who watched the interview between the dead and living, scrupled
not to affirm, that, at the instant when the clergyman's features
were disclosed, the corpse had slightly shuddered, rustling the
shroud and muslin cap, though the countenance retained the
composure of death. A superstitious old woman was the only
witness of this prodigy. From the coffin Mr. Hooper passed into
the chamber of the mourners, and thence to the head of the
staircase, to make the funeral prayer. It was a tender and
heart-dissolving prayer, full of sorrow, yet so imbued with
celestial hopes, that the music of a heavenly harp, swept by the
fingers of the dead, seemed faintly to be heard among the saddest
accents of the minister. The people trembled, though they but
darkly understood him when he prayed that they, and himself, and
all of mortal race, might be ready, as he trusted this young
maiden had been, for the dreadful hour that should snatch the
veil from their faces. The bearers went heavily forth, and the
mourners followed, saddening all the street, with the dead before
them, and Mr. Hooper in his black veil behind.

"Why do you look back?" said one in the procession to his

"I had a fancy," replied she, "that the minister and the maiden's
spirit were walking hand in hand."

"And so had I, at the same moment," said the other.

That night, the handsomest couple in Milford village were to be
joined in wedlock. Though reckoned a melancholy man, Mr. Hooper
had a placid cheerfulness for such occasions, which often excited
a sympathetic smile where livelier merriment would have been
thrown away. There was no quality of his disposition which made
him more beloved than this. The company at the wedding awaited
his arrival with impatience, trusting that the strange awe, which
had gathered over him throughout the day, would now be dispelled.
But such was not the result. When Mr. Hooper came, the first
thing that their eyes rested on was the same horrible black veil,
which had added deeper gloom to the funeral, and could portend
nothing but evil to the wedding. Such was its immediate effect on
the guests that a cloud seemed to have rolled duskily from
beneath the black crape, and dimmed the light of the candles. The
bridal pair stood up before the minister. But the bride's cold
fingers quivered in the tremulous hand of the bridegroom, and her
deathlike paleness caused a whisper that the maiden who had been
buried a few hours before was come from her grave to be married.
If ever another wedding were so dismal, it was that famous one
where they tolled the wedding knell. After performing the
ceremony, Mr. Hooper raised a glass of wine to his lips, wishing
happiness to the newmarried couple in a strain of mild pleasantry
that ought to have brightened the features of the guests, like a
cheerful gleam from the hearth. At that instant, catching a
glimpse of his figure in the looking-glass, the black veil
involved his own spirit in the horror with which it overwhelmed
all others. His frame shuddered, his lips grew white, he spilt
the untasted wine upon the carpet, and rushed forth into the
darkness. For the Earth, too, had on her Black Veil.

The next day, the whole village of Milford talked of little else
than Parson Hooper's black veil. That, and the mystery concealed
behind it, supplied a topic for discussion between acquaintances
meeting in the street, and good women gossiping at their open
windows. It was the first item of news that the tavern-keeper
told to his guests. The children babbled of it on their way to
school. One imitative little imp covered his face with an old
black handkerchief, thereby so affrighting his playmates that the
panic seized himself, and he well-nigh lost his wits by his own

It was remarkable that all of the busybodies and impertinent
people in the parish, not one ventured to put the plain question
to Mr. Hooper, wherefore he did this thing. Hitherto, whenever
there appeared the slightest call for such interference, he had
never lacked advisers, nor shown himself averse to be guided by
their judgment. If he erred at all, it was by so painful a degree
of self-distrust, that even the mildest censure would lead him to
consider an indifferent action as a crime. Yet, though so well
acquainted with this amiable weakness, no individual among his
parishioners chose to make the black veil a subject of friendly
remonstrance. There was a feeling of dread, neither plainly
confessed nor carefully concealed, which caused each to shift the
responsibility upon another, till at length it was found
expedient to send a deputation of the church, in order to deal
with Mr. Hooper about the mystery, before it should grow into a
scandal. Never did an embassy so ill discharge its duties. The
minister received then with friendly courtesy, but became silent,
after they were seated, leaving to his visitors the whole burden
of introducing their important business. The topic, it might be
supposed, was obvious enough. There was the black veil swathed
round Mr. Hooper's forehead, and concealing every feature above
his placid mouth, on which, at times, they could perceive the
glimmering of a melancholy smile. But that piece of crape, to
their imagination, seemed to hang down before his heart, the
symbol of a fearful secret between him and them. Were the veil
but cast aside, they might speak freely of it, but not till then.
Thus they sat a considerable time, speechless, confused, and
shrinking uneasily from Mr. Hooper's eye, which they felt to be
fixed upon them with an invisible glance. Finally, the deputies
returned abashed to their constituents, pronouncing the matter
too weighty to be handled, except by a council of the churches,
if, indeed, it might not require a general synod.

But there was one person in the village unappalled by the awe
with which the black veil had impressed all beside herself. When
the deputies returned without an explanation, or even venturing
to demand one, she, with the calm energy of her character,
determined to chase away the strange cloud that appeared to be
settling round Mr. Hooper, every moment more darkly than before.
As his plighted wife, it should be her privilege to know what the
black veil concealed. At the minister's first visit, therefore,
she entered upon the subject with a direct simplicity, which made
the task easier both for him and her. After he had seated
himself, she fixed her eyes steadfastly upon the veil, but could
discern nothing of the dreadful gloom that had so overawed the
multitude: it was but a double fold of crape, hanging down from
his forehead to his mouth, and slightly stirring with his breath.

"No," said she aloud, and smiling, "there is nothing terrible in
this piece of crape, except that it hides a face which I am
always glad to look upon. Come, good sir, let the sun shine from
behind the cloud. First lay aside your black veil: then tell me
why you put it on."

Mr. Hooper's smile glimmered faintly.

"There is an hour to come," said he, "when all of us shall cast
aside our veils. Take it not amiss, beloved friend, if I wear
this piece of crape till then."

"Your words are a mystery, too," returned the young lady. "Take
away the veil from them, at least."

"Elizabeth, I will," said he, "so far as my vow may suffer me.
Know, then, this veil is a type and a symbol, and I am bound to
wear it ever, both in light and darkness, in solitude and before
the gaze of multitudes, and as with strangers, so with my
familiar friends. No mortal eye will see it withdrawn. This
dismal shade must separate me from the world: even you,
Elizabeth, can never come behind it!"

"What grievous affliction hath befallen you," she earnestly
inquired, "that you should thus darken your eyes forever?"

"If it be a sign of mourning," replied Mr. Hooper, "I, perhaps,
like most other mortals, have sorrows dark enough to be typified
by a black veil."

"But what if the world will not believe that it is the type of an
innocent sorrow?" urged Elizabeth. "Beloved and respected as you
are, there may be whispers that you hide your face under the
consciousness of secret sin. For the sake of your holy office, do
away this scandal!"

The color rose into her cheeks as she intimated the nature of the
rumors that were already abroad in the village. But Mr. Hooper's
mildness did not forsake him. He even smiled again--that same sad
smile, which always appeared like a faint glimmering of light,
proceeding from the obscurity beneath the veil.

"If I hide my face for sorrow, there is cause enough," he merely
replied; "and if I cover it for secret sin, what mortal might not
do the same?"

And with this gentle, but unconquerable obstinacy did he resist
all her entreaties. At length Elizabeth sat silent. For a few
moments she appeared lost in thought, considering, probably, what
new methods might be tried to withdraw her lover from so dark a
fantasy, which, if it had no other meaning, was perhaps a symptom
of mental disease. Though of a firmer character than his own, the
tears rolled down her cheeks. But, in an instant, as it were, a
new feeling took the place of sorrow: her eyes were fixed
insensibly on the black veil, when, like a sudden twilight in the
air, its terrors fell around her. She arose, and stood trembling
before him.

"And do you feel it then, at last?" said he mournfully.

She made no reply, but covered her eyes with her hand, and turned
to leave the room. He rushed forward and caught her arm.

"Have patience with me, Elizabeth!" cried he, passionately. "Do
not desert me, though this veil must be between us here on earth.
Be mine, and hereafter there shall be no veil over my face, no
darkness between our souls! It is but a mortal veil--it is not
for eternity! O! you know not how lonely I am, and how
frightened, to be alone behind my black veil. Do not leave me in
this miserable obscurity forever!"

"Lift the veil but once, and look me in the face," said she.

"Never! It cannot be!" replied Mr. Hooper.

"Then farewell!" said Elizabeth.

She withdrew her arm from his grasp, and slowly departed, pausing
at the door, to give one long shuddering gaze, that seemed almost
to penetrate the mystery of the black veil. But, even amid his
grief, Mr. Hooper smiled to think that only a material emblem had
separated him from happiness, though the horrors, which it
shadowed forth, must be drawn darkly between the fondest of

From that time no attempts were made to remove Mr. Hooper's black
veil, or, by a direct appeal, to discover the secret which it was
supposed to hide. By persons who claimed a superiority to popular
prejudice, it was reckoned merely an eccentric whim, such as
often mingles with the sober actions of men otherwise rational,
and tinges them all with its own semblance of insanity. But with
the multitude, good Mr. Hooper was irreparbly a bugbear. He could
not walk the street with any peace of mind, so conscious was he
that the gentle and timid would turn aside to avoid him, and that
others would make it a point of hardihood to throw themselves in
his way. The impertinence of the latter class compelled him to
give up his customary walk at sunset to the burial ground; for
when he leaned pensively over the gate, there would always be
faces behind the gravestones, peeping at his black veil. A fable
went the rounds that the stare of the dead people drove him
thence. It grieved him, to the very depth of his kind heart, to
observe how the children fled from his approach, breaking up
their merriest sports, while his melancholy figure was yet afar
off. Their instinctive dread caused him to feel more strongly
than aught else, that a preternatural horror was interwoven with
the threads of the black crape. In truth, his own antipathy to
the veil was known to be so great, that he never willingly passed
before a mirror, nor stooped to drink at a still fountain, lest,
in its peaceful bosom, he should be affrighted by himself. This
was what gave plausibility to the whispers, that Mr. Hooper's
conscience tortured him for some great crime too horrible to be
entirely concealed, or otherwise than so obscurely intimated.
Thus, from beneath the black veil, there rolled a cloud into the
sunshine, an ambiguity of sin or sorrow, which enveloped the poor
minister, so that love or sympathy could never reach him. It was
said that ghost and fiend consorted with him there. With
self-shudderings and outward terrors, he walked continually in
its shadow, groping darkly within his own soul, or gazing through
a medium that saddened the whole world. Even the lawless wind, it
was believed, respected his dreadful secret, and never blew aside
the veil. But still good Mr. Hooper sadly smiled at the pale
visages of the worldly throng as he passed by.

Among all its bad influences, the black veil had the one
desirable effect, of making its wearer a very efficient
clergyman. By the aid of his mysterious emblem--for there was no
other apparent cause--he became a man of awful power over souls
that were in agony for sin. His converts always regarded him with
a dread peculiar to themselves, affirming, though but
figuratively, that, before he brought them to celestial light,
they had been with him behind the black veil. Its gloom, indeed,
enabled him to sympathize with all dark affections. Dying sinners
cried aloud for Mr. Hooper, and would not yield their breath till
he appeared; though ever, as he stooped to whisper consolation,
they shuddered at the veiled face so near their own. Such were
the terrors of the black veil, even when Death had bared his
visage! Strangers came long distances to attend service at his
church, with the mere idle purpose of gazing at his figure,
because it was forbidden them to behold his face. But many were
made to quake ere they departed! Once, during Governor Belcher's
administration, Mr. Hooper was appointed to preach the election
sermon. Covered with his black veil, he stood before the chief
magistrate, the council, and the representatives, and wrought so
deep an impression, that the legislative measures of that year
were characterized by all the gloom and piety of our earliest
ancestral sway.

In this manner Mr. Hooper spent a long life, irreproachable in
outward act, yet shrouded in dismal suspicions; kind and loving,
though unloved, and dimly feared; a man apart from men, shunned
in their health and joy, but ever summoned to their aid in mortal
anguish. As years wore on, shedding their snows above his sable
veil, he acquired a name throughout the New England churches, and
they called him Father Hooper. Nearly all his parishioners, who
were of mature age when he was settled, had been borne away by
many a funeral: he had one congregation in the church, and a more
crowded one in the churchyard; and having wrought so late into
the evening, and done his work so well, it was now good Father
Hooper's turn to rest.

Several persons were visible by the shaded candlelight, in the
death chamber of the old clergyman. Natural connections he had
none. But there was the decorously grave, though unmoved
physician, seeking only to mitigate the last pangs of the patient
whom he could not save. There were the deacons, and other
eminently pious members of his church. There, also, was the
Reverend Mr. Clark, of Westbury, a young and zealous divine, who
had ridden in haste to pray by the bedside of the expiring
minister. There was the nurse, no hired handmaiden of death, but
one whose calm affection had endured thus long in secrecy, in
solitude, amid the chill of age, and would not perish, even at
the dying hour. Who, but Elizabeth! And there lay the hoary head
of good Father Hooper upon the death pillow, with the black veil
still swathed about his brow, and reaching down over his face, so
that each more difficult gasp of his faint breath caused it to
stir. All through life that piece of crape had hung between him
and the world: it had separated him from cheerful brotherhood and
woman's love, and kept him in that saddest of all prisons, his
own heart; and still it lay upon his face, as if to deepen the
gloom of his darksome chamber, and shade him from the sunshine of

For some time previous, his mind had been confused, wavering
doubtfully between the past and the present, and hovering
forward, as it were, at intervals, into the indistinctness of the
world to come. There had been feverish turns, which tossed him
from side to side, and wore away what little strength he had. But
in his most convulsive struggles, and in the wildest vagaries of
his intellect, when no other thought retained its sober
influence, he still showed an awful solicitude lest the black
veil should slip aside. Even if his bewildered soul could have
forgotten, there was a faithful woman at this pillow, who, with
averted eyes, would have covered that aged face, which she had
last beheld in the comeliness of manhood. At length the
death-stricken old man lay quietly in the torpor of mental and
bodily exhaustion, with an imperceptible pulse, and breath that
grew fainter and fainter, except when a long, deep, and irregular
inspiration seemed to prelude the flight of his spirit.

The minister of Westbury approached the bedside.

"Venerable Father Hooper," said he, "the moment of your release
is at hand. Are you ready for the lifting of the veil that shuts
in time from eternity?"

Father Hooper at first replied merely by a feeble motion of his
head; then, apprehensive, perhaps, that his meaning might be
doubted, he exerted himself to speak.

"Yea," said he, in faint accents, "my soul hath a patient
weariness until that veil be lifted."

"And is it fitting," resumed the Reverend Mr. Clark, "that a man
so given to prayer, of such a blameless example, holy in deed and
thought, so far as mortal judgment may pronounce; is it fitting
that a father in the church should leave a shadow on his memory,
that may seem to blacken a life so pure? I pray you, my venerable
brother, let not this thing be! Suffer us to be gladdened by your
triumphant aspect as you go to your reward. Before the veil of
eternity be lifted, let me cast aside this black veil from your

And thus speaking, the Reverend Mr. Clark bent forward to reveal
the mystery of so many years. But, exerting a sudden energy, that
made all the beholders stand aghast, Father Hooper snatched both
his hands from beneath the bedclothes, and pressed them strongly
on the black veil, resolute to struggle, if the minister of
Westbury would contend with a dying man.

"Never!" cried the veiled clergyman. "On earth, never!"

"Dark old man!" exclaimed the affrighted minister, "with what
horrible crime upon your soul are you now passing to the

Father Hooper's breath heaved; it rattled in his throat; but,
with a mighty effort, grasping forward with his hands, he caught
hold of life, and held it back till he should speak. He even
raised himself in bed; and there he sat, shivering with the arms
of death around him, while the black veil hung down, awful, at
that last moment, in the gathered terrors of a lifetime. And yet
the faint, sad smile, so often there, now seemed to glimmer from
its obscurity, and linger on Father Hooper's lips.

"Why do you tremble at me alone?" cried he, turning his veiled
face round the circle of pale spectators. "Tremble also at each
other! Have men avoided me, and women shown no pity, and children
screamed and fled, only for my black veil? What, but the mystery
which it obscurely typifies, has made this piece of crape so
awful? When the friend shows his inmost heart to his friend; the
lover to his best beloved; when man does not vainly shrink from
the eye of his Creator, loathsomely treasuring up the secret of
his sin; then deem me a monster, for the symbol beneath which I
have lived, and die! I look around me, and, lo! on every visage a
Black Veil!"

While his auditors shrank from one another, in mutual affright,
Father Hooper fell back upon his pillow, a veiled corpse, with a
faint smile lingering on the lips. Still veiled, they laid him in
his coffin, and a veiled corpse they bore him to the grave. The
grass of many years has sprung up and withered on that grave, the
burial stone is moss-grown, and good Mr. Hooper's face is dust;
but awful is still the thought that it mouldered beneath the
Black Veil!


There is an admirable foundation for a philosophic romance in the
curious history of the early settlement of Mount Wollaston, or
Merry Mount. In the slight sketch here attempted, the facts,
recorded on the grave pages of our New England annalists, have
wrought themselves, almost spontaneously, into a sort of
allegory. The masques, mummeries, and festive customs, described
in the text, are in accordance with the manners of the age.
Authority on these points may be found in Strutt's Book of
English Sports and Pastimes.

Bright were the days at Merry Mount, when the Maypole was the
banner staff of that gay colony! They who reared it, should their
banner be triumphant, were to pour sunshine over New England's
rugged hills, and scatter flower seeds throughout the soil.
Jollity and gloom were contending for an empire. Midsummer eve
had come, bringing deep verdure to the forest, and roses in her
lap, of a more vivid hue than the tender buds of Spring. But May,
or her mirthful spirit, dwelt all the year round at Merry Mount,
sporting with the Summer months, and revelling with Autumn, and
basking in the glow of Winter's fireside. Through a world of toil
and care she flitted with a dreamlike smile, and came hither to
find a home among the lightsome hearts of Merry Mount.

Never had the Maypole been so gayly decked as at sunset on
midsummer eve. This venerated emblem was a pine-tree, which had
preserved the slender grace of youth, while it equalled the
loftiest height of the old wood monarchs. From its top streamed a
silken banner, colored like the rainbow. Down nearly to the
ground the pole was dressed with birchen boughs, and others of
the liveliest green, and some with silvery leaves, fastened by
ribbons that fluttered in fantastic knots of twenty different
colors, but no sad ones. Garden flowers, and blossoms of the
wilderness, laughed gladly forth amid the verdure, so fresh and
dewy that they must have grown by magic on that happy pine-tree.
Where this green and flowery splendor terminated, the shaft of
the Maypole was stained with the seven brilliant hues of the
banner at its top. On the lowest green bough hung an abundant
wreath of roses, some that had been gathered in the sunniest
spots of the forest, and others, of still richer blush, which the
colonists had reared from English seed. O, people of the Golden
Age, the chief of your husbandry was to raise flowers!

But what was the wild throng that stood hand in hand about the
Maypole? It could not be that the fauns and nymphs, when driven
from their classic groves and homes of ancient fable, had sought
refuge, as all the persecuted did, in the fresh woods of the
West. These were Gothic monsters, though perhaps of Grecian
ancestry. On the shoulders of a comely youth uprose the head and
branching antlers of a stag; a second, human in all other points,
had the grim visage of a wolf; a third, still with the trunk and
limbs of a mortal man, showed the beard and horns of a venerable
he-goat. There was the likeness of a bear erect, brute in all but
his hind legs, which were adorned with pink silk stockings. And
here again, almost as wondrous, stood a real bear of the dark
forest, lending each of his fore paws to the grasp of a human
hand, and as ready for the dance as any in that circle. His
inferior nature rose half way, to meet his companions as they
stooped. Other faces wore the similitude of man or woman, but
distorted or extravagant, with red noses pendulous before their
mouths, which seemed of awful depth, and stretched from ear to
ear in an eternal fit of laughter. Here might be seen the Savage
Man, well known in heraldry, hairy as a baboon, and girdled with
green leaves. By his side a noble figure, but still a
counterfeit, appeared an Indian hunter, with feathery crest and
wampum belt. Many of this strange company wore foolscaps, and had
little bells appended to their garments, tinkling with a silvery
sound, responsive to the inaudible music of their gleesome
spirits. Some youths and maidens were of soberer garb, yet well
maintained their places in the irregular throng by the expression
of wild revelry upon their features. Such were the colonists of
Merry Mount, as they stood in the broad smile of sunset round
their venerated Maypole.

Had a wanderer, bewildered in the melancholy forest, heard their
mirth, and stolen a half-affrighted glance, he might have fancied
them the crew of Comus, some already transformed to brutes, some
midway between man and beast, and the others rioting in the flow
of tipsy jollity that foreran the change. But a band of Puritans,
who watched the scene, invisible themselves, compared the masques
to those devils and ruined souls with whom their superstition
peopled the black wilderness.

Within the ring of monsters appeared the two airiest forms that
had ever trodden on any more solid footing than a purple and
golden cloud. One was a youth in glistening apparel, with a scarf
of the rainbow pattern crosswise on his breast. His right hand
held a gilded staff, the ensign of high dignity among the
revellers, and his left grasped the slender fingers of a fair
maiden, not less gayly decorated than himself. Bright roses
glowed in contrast with the dark and glossy curls of each, and
were scattered round their feet, or had sprung up spontaneously
there. Behind this lightsome couple, so close to the Maypole that
its boughs shaded his jovial face, stood the figure of an English
priest, canonically dressed, yet decked with flowers, in heathen
fashion, and wearing a chaplet of the native vine leaves. By the
riot of his rolling eye, and the pagan decorations of his holy
garb, he seemed the wildest monster there, and the very Comus of
the crew.

"Votaries of the Maypole," cried the flower-decked priest,
"merrily, all day long, have the woods echoed to your mirth. But
be this your merriest hour, my hearts! Lo, here stand the Lord
and Lady of the May, whom I, a clerk of Oxford, and high priest
of Merry Mount, am presently to join in holy matrimony. Up with
your nimble spirits, ye morris-dancers, green men, and glee
maidens, bears and wolves, and horned gentlemen! Come; a chorus
now, rich with the old mirth of Merry England, and the wilder
glee of this fresh forest; and then a dance, to show the youthful
pair what life is made of, and how airily they should go through
it! All ye that love the Maypole, lend your voices to the nuptial
song of the Lord and Lady of the May!"

This wedlock was more serious than most affairs of Merry Mount,
where jest and delusion, trick and fantasy, kept up a continual
carnival. The Lord and Lady of the May, though their titles must
be laid down at sunset, were really and truly to be partners for
the dance of life, beginning the measure that same bright eve.
The wreath of roses, that hung from the lowest green bough of the
Maypole, had been twined for them, and would be thrown over both
their heads, in symbol of their flowery union. When the priest
had spoken, therefore, a riotous uproar burst from the rout of
monstrous figures.

"Begin you the stave, reverend Sir," cried they all; "and never
did the woods ring to such a merry peal as we of the Maypole
shall send up!"

Immediately a prelude of pipe, cithern, and viol, touched with
practised minstrelsy, began to play from a neighboring thicket,
in such a mirthful cadence that the boughs of the Maypole
quivered to the sound. But the May Lord, he of the gilded staff,
chancing to look into his Lady's eyes, was wonder struck at the
almost pensive glance that met his own.

"Edith, sweet Lady of the May," whispered he reproachfully, "is
yon wreath of roses a garland to hang above our graves, that you
look so sad? O, Edith, this is our golden time! Tarnish it not by
any pensive shadow of the mind; for it may be that nothing of
futurity will be brighter than the mere remembrance of what is
now passing."

"That was the very thought that saddened me! How came it in your
mind too?" said Edith, in a still lower tone than he, for it was
high treason to be sad at Merry Mount. "Therefore do I sigh amid
this festive music. And besides, dear Edgar, I struggle as with a
dream, and fancy that these shapes of our jovial friends are
visionary, and their mirth unreal, and that we are no true Lord
and Lady of the May. What is the mystery in my heart?"

Just then, as if a spell had loosened them, down came a little
shower of withering rose leaves from the Maypole. Alas, for the
young lovers! No sooner had their hearts glowed with real passion
than they were sensible of something vague and unsubstantial in
their former pleasures, and felt a dreary presentiment of
inevitable change. From the moment that they truly loved, they
had subjected themselves to earth's doom of care and sorrow, and
troubled joy, and had no more a home at Merry Mount. That was
Edith's mystery. Now leave we the priest to marry them, and the
masquers to sport round the Maypole, till the last sunbeam be
withdrawn from its summit, and the shadows of the forest mingle
gloomily in the dance. Meanwhile, we may discover who these gay
people were.

Two hundred years ago, and more, the old world and its
inhabitants became mutually weary of each other. Men voyaged by
thousands to the West: some to barter glass beads, and such like
jewels, for the furs of the Indian hunter; some to conquer virgin
empires; and one stern band to pray. But none of these motives
had much weight with the colonists of Merry Mount. Their leaders
were men who had sported so long with life, that when Thought and
Wisdom came, even these unwelcome guests were led astray by the
crowd of vanities which they should have put to flight. Erring
Thought and perverted Wisdom were made to put on masques, and
play the fool. The men of whom we speak, after losing the heart's
fresh gayety, imagined a wild philosophy of pleasure, and came
hither to act out their latest day-dream. They gathered followers
from all that giddy tribe whose whole life is like the festal
days of soberer men. In their train were minstrels, not unknown
in London streets; wandering players, whose theatres had been the
halls of noblemen; mummers, rope-dancers, and mountebanks, who
would long be missed at wakes, church ales, and fairs; in a word,
mirth makers of every sort, such as abounded in that age, but now
began to be discountenanced by the rapid growth of Puritanism.
Light had their footsteps been on land, and as lightly they came
across the sea. Many had been maddened by their previous troubles
into a gay despair; others were as madly gay in the flush of
youth, like the May Lord and his Lady; but whatever might be the
quality of their mirth, old and young were gay at Merry Mount.
The young deemed themselves happy. The elder spirits, if they
knew that mirth was but the counterfeit of happiness, yet
followed the false shadow wilfully, because at least her garments
glittered brightest. Sworn triflers of a lifetime, they would not
venture among the sober truths of life not even to be truly

All the hereditary pastimes of Old England were transplanted
hither. The King of Christmas was duly crowned, and the Lord of
Misrule bore potent sway. On the Eve of St. John, they felled
whole acres of the forest to make bonfires, and danced by the
blaze all night, crowned with garlands, and throwing flowers into
the flame. At harvest time, though their crop was of the
smallest, they made an image with the sheaves of Indian corn, and
wreathed it with autumnal garlands, and bore it home
triumphantly. But what chiefly characterized the colonists of
Merry Mount was their veneration for the Maypole. It has made
their true history a poet's tale. Spring decked the hallowed
emblem with young blossoms and fresh green boughs; Summer brought
roses of the deepest blush, and the perfected foliage of the
forest; Autumn enriched it with that red and yellow gorgeousness
which converts each wildwood leaf into a painted flower; and
Winter silvered it with sleet, and hung it round with icicles,
till it flashed in the cold sunshine, itself a frozen sunbeam.
Thus each alternate season did homage to the Maypole, and paid it
a tribute of its own richest splendor. Its votaries danced round
it, once, at least, in every month; sometimes they called it
their religion, or their altar; but always, it was the banner
staff of Merry Mount.

Unfortunately, there were men in the new world of a sterner faith
than those Maypole worshippers. Not far from Merry Mount was a
settlement of Puritans, most dismal wretches, who said their
prayers before daylight, and then wrought in the forest or the
cornfield till evening made it prayer time again. Their weapons
were always at hand to shoot down the straggling savage. When
they met in conclave, it was never to keep up the old English
mirth, but to hear sermons three hours long, or to proclaim
bounties on the heads of wolves and the scalps of Indians. Their
festivals were fast days, and their chief pastime the singing of
psalms. Woe to the youth or maiden who did but dream of a dance!
The selectman nodded to the constable; and there sat the
light-heeled reprobate in the stocks; or if he danced, it was
round the whipping-post, which might be termed the Puritan

A party of these grim Puritans, toiling through the difficult
woods, each with a horseload of iron armor to burden his
footsteps, would sometimes draw near the sunny precincts of Merry
Mount. There were the silken colonists, sporting round their
Maypole; perhaps teaching a bear to dance, or striving to
communicate their mirth to the grave Indian; or masquerading in
the skins of deer and wolves, which they had hunted for that
especial purpose. Often, the whole colony were playing at
blindman's buff, magistrates and all, with their eyes bandaged,
except a single scapegoat, whom the blinded sinners pursued by
the tinkling of the bells at his garments. Once, it is said, they
were seen following a flower-decked corpse, with merriment and
festive music, to his grave. But did the dead man laugh? In their
quietest times, they sang ballads and told tales, for the
edification of their pious visitors; or perplexed them with
juggling tricks; or grinned at them through horse collars; and
when sport itself grew wearisome, they made game of their own
stupidity, and began a yawning match. At the very least of these
enormities, the men of iron shook their heads and frowned so
darkly that the revellers looked up imagining that a momentary
cloud had overcast the sunshine, which was to be perpetual there.
On the other hand, the Puritans affirmed that, when a psalm was
pealing from their place of worship, the echo which the forest
sent them back seemed often like the chorus of a jolly catch,
closing with a roar of laughter. Who but the fiend, and his bond
slaves, the crew of Merry Mount, had thus disturbed them? In due
time, a feud arose, stern and bitter on one side, and as serious
on the other as anything could be among such light spirits as had
sworn allegiance to the Maypole. The future complexion of New
England was involved in this important quarrel. Should the
grizzly saints establish their jurisdiction over the gay sinners,
then would their spirits darken all the clime, and make it a land
of clouded visages, of hard toil, of sermon and psalm forever.
But should the banner staff of Merry Mount be fortunate, sunshine
would break upon the hills, and flowers would beautify the
forest, and late posterity do homage to the Maypole.

After these authentic passages from history, we return to the
nuptials of the Lord and Lady of the May. Alas! we have delayed
too long, and must darken our tale too suddenly. As we glance
again at the Maypole, a solitary sunbeam is fading from the
summit, and leaves only a faint, golden tinge blended with the
hues of the rainbow banner. Even that dim light is now withdrawn,
relinquishing the whole domain of Merry Mount to the evening
gloom, which has rushed so instantaneously from the black
surrounding woods. But some of these black shadows have rushed
forth in human shape.

Yes, with the setting sun, the last day of mirth had passed from
Merry Mount. The ring of gay masquers was disordered and broken;
the stag lowered his antlers in dismay; the wolf grew weaker than
a lamb; the bells of the morris-dancers tinkled with tremulous
affright. The Puritans had played a characteristic part in the
Maypole mummeries. Their darksome figures were intermixed with
the wild shapes of their foes, and made the scene a picture of
the moment, when waking thoughts start up amid the scattered
fantasies of a dream. The leader of the hostile party stood in
the centre of the circle, while the route of monsters cowered
around him, like evil spirits in the presence of a dread
magician. No fantastic foolery could look him in the face. So
stern was the energy of his aspect, that the whole man, visage,
frame, and soul, seemed wrought of iron, gifted with life and
thought, yet all of one substance with his headpiece and
breastplate. It was the Puritan of Puritans; it was Endicott

"Stand off, priest of Baal!" said he, with a grim frown, and
laying no reverent hand upon the surplice. "I know thee,
Blackstone![1] Thou art the man who couldst not abide the rule
even of thine own corrupted church, and hast come hither to
preach iniquity, and to give example of it in thy life. But now
shall it be seen that the Lord hath sanctified this wilderness
for his peculiar people. Woe unto them that would defile it! And
first, for this flower-decked abomination, the altar of thy

[1] Did Governor Endicott speak less positively, we should
suspect a mistake here. The Rev. Mr. Blackstone, though an
eccentric, is not known to have been an immoral man. We rather
doubt his identity with the priest of Merry Mount.

And with his keen sword Endicott assaulted the hallowed Maypole.
Nor long did it resist his arm. It groaned with a dismal sound;
it showered leaves and rosebuds upon the remorseless enthusiast;
and finally, with all its green boughs and ribbons and flowers,
symbolic of departed pleasures, down fell the banner staff of
Merry Mount. As it sank, tradition says, the evening sky grew
darker, and the woods threw forth a more sombre shadow

"There," cried Endicott, looking triumphantly on his work, "there
lies the only Maypole in New England! The thought is strong
within me that, by its fall, is shadowed forth the fate of light
and idle mirth makers, amongst us and our posterity. Amen, saith
John Endicott."

"Amen!" echoed his followers.

But the votaries of the Maypole gave one groan for their idol. At
the sound, the Puritan leader glanced at the crew of Comus, each
a figure of broad mirth, yet, at this moment, strangely
expressive of sorrow and dismay.

"Valiant captain," quoth Peter Palfrey, the Ancient of the band,
"what order shall be taken with the prisoners?"

"I thought not to repent me of cutting down a Maypole," replied
Endicott, "yet now I could find in my heart to plant it again,
and give each of these bestial pagans one other dance round their
idol. It would have served rarely for a whipping-post!"

"But there are pine-trees enow," suggested the lieutenant.

"True, good Ancient," said the leader. "Wherefore, bind the
heathen crew, and bestow on them a small matter of stripes
apiece, as earnest of our future justice. Set some of the rogues
in the stocks to rest themselves, so soon as Providence shall
bring us to one of our own well-ordered settlements where such
accommodations may be found. Further penalties, such as branding
and cropping of ears, shall be thought of hereafter."

"How many stripes for the priest?" inquired Ancient Palfrey.

"None as yet," answered Endicott, bending his iron frown upon the
culprit. "It must be for the Great and General Court to
determine, whether stripes and long imprisonment, and other
grievous penalty, may atone for his transgressions. Let him look
to himself! For such as violate our civil order, it may be
permitted us to show mercy. But woe to the wretch that troubleth
our religion."

"And this dancing bear," resumed the officer. "Must he share the
stripes of his fellows?"

"Shoot him through the head!" said the energetic Puritan. "I
suspect witchcraft in the beast."

"Here be a couple of shining ones," continued Peter Palfrey,
pointing his weapon at the Lord and Lady of the May. "They seem
to be of high station among these misdoers. Methinks their
dignity will not be fitted with less than a double share of

Endicott rested on his sword, and closely surveyed the dress and
aspect of the hapless pair. There they stood, pale, downcast, and
apprehensive. Yet there was an air of mutual support and of pure
affection, seeking aid and giving it, that showed them to be man
and wife, with the sanction of a priest upon their love. The
youth, in the peril of the moment, had dropped his gilded staff,
and thrown his arm about the Lady of the May, who leaned against
his breast, too lightly to burden him, but with weight enough to
express that their destinies were linked together, for good or
evil. They looked first at each other, and then into the grim
captain's face. There they stood, in the first hour of wedlock,
while the idle pleasures, of which their companions were the
emblems, had given place to the sternest cares of life,
personified by the dark Puritans. But never had their youthful
beauty seemed so pure and high as when its glow was chastened by

"Youth," said Endicott, "ye stand in an evil case thou and thy
maiden wife. Make ready presently, for I am minded that ye shall
both have a token to remember your wedding day!"

"Stern man," cried the May Lord, "how can I move thee? Were the
means at hand, I would resist to the death. Being powerless, I
entreat! Do with me as thou wilt, but let Edith go untouched!"

"Not so," replied the immitigable zealot. "We are not wont to
show an idle courtesy to that sex, which requireth the stricter
discipline. What sayest thou, maid? Shall thy silken bridegroom
suffer thy share of the penalty, besides his own?"

"Be it death," said Edith, "and lay it all on me!"

Truly, as Endicott had said, the poor lovers stood in a woful
case. Their foes were triumphant, their friends captive and
abased, their home desolate, the benighted wilderness around
them, and a rigorous destiny, in the shape of the Puritan leader,
their only guide. Yet the deepening twilight could not altogether
conceal that the iron man was softened; he smiled at the fair
spectacle of early love; he almost sighed for the inevitable
blight of early hopes.

"The troubles of life have come hastily on this young couple,"
observed Endicott. "We will see how they comport themselves under
their present trials ere we burden them with greater. If, among
the spoil, there be any garments of a more decent fashion, let
them be put upon this May Lord and his Lady, instead of their
glistening vanities. Look to it, some of you.

"And shall not the youth's hair be cut?" asked Peter Palfrey,
looking with abhorrence at the lovelock and long glossy curls of
the young man.

"Crop it forthwith, and that in the true pumpkin-shell fashion,"
answered the captain. "Then bring them along with us, but more
gently than their fellows. There be qualities in the youth, which
may make him valiant to fight, and sober to toil, and pious to
pray; and in the maiden, that may fit her to become a mother in
our Israel, bringing up babes in better nurture than her own hath
been. Nor think ye, young ones, that they are the happiest, even
in our lifetime of a moment, who misspend it in dancing round a

And Endicott, the severest Puritan of all who laid the rock
foundation of New England, lifted the wreath of roses from the
ruin of the Maypole, and threw it, with his own gauntleted hand,
over the heads of the Lord and Lady of the May. It was a deed of
prophecy. As the moral gloom of the world overpowers all
systematic gayety, even so was their home of wild mirth made
desolate amid the sad forest. They returned to it no more. But as
their flowery garland was wreathed of the brightest roses that
had grown there, so, in the tie that united them, were
intertwined all the purest and best of their early joys. They
went heavenward, supporting each other along the difficult path
which it was their lot to tread, and never wasted one regretful
thought on the vanities of Merry Mount.


In the course of the year 1656, several of the people called
Quakers, led, as they professed, by the inward movement of the
spirit, made their appearance in New England. Their reputation,
as holders of mystic and pernicious principles, having spread
before them, the Puritans early endeavored to banish, and to
prevent the further intrusion of the rising sect. But the
measures by which it was intended to purge the land of heresy,
though more than sufficiently vigorous, were entirely
unsuccessful. The Quakers, esteeming persecution as a divine call
to the post of danger, laid claim to a holy courage, unknown to
the Puritans themselves, who had shunned the cross, by providing
for the peaceable exercise of their religion in a distant
wilderness. Though it was the singular fact, that every nation of
the earth rejected the wandering enthusiasts who practised peace
towards all men, the place of greatest uneasiness and peril, and
therefore, in their eyes the most eligible, was the province of
Massachusetts Bay.

The fines, imprisonments, and stripes, liberally distributed by
our pious forefathers; the popular antipathy, so strong that it
endured nearly a hundred years after actual persecution had
ceased, were attractions as powerful for the Quakers, as peace,
honor, and reward, would have been for the worldly minded. Every
European vessel brought new cargoes of the sect, eager to testify
against the oppression which they hoped to share; and when
shipmasters were restrained by heavy fines from affording them
passage, they made long and circuitous journeys through the
Indian country, and appeared in the province as if conveyed by a
supernatural power. Their enthusiasm, heightened almost to
madness by the treatment which they received, produced actions
contrary to the rules of decency, as well as of rational
religion, and presented a singular contrast to the calm and staid
deportment of their sectarian successors of the present day. The
command of the spirit, inaudible except to the soul, and not to
be controverted on grounds of human wisdom, was made a plea for
most indecorous exhibitions, which, abstractedly considered, well
deserved the moderate chastisement of the rod. These
extravagances, and the persecution which was at once their cause
and consequence, continued to increase, till, in the year 1659,
the government of Massachusetts Bay indulged two members of the
Quaker sect with a crown of martyrdom.

An indelible stain of blood is upon the hands of all who
consented to this act, but a large share of the awful
responsibility must rest upon the person then at the head of the
government. He was a man of narrow mind and imperfect education,
and his uncompromising bigotry was made hot and mischievous by
violent and hasty passions; he exerted his influence indecorously
and unjustifiably to compass the death of the enthusiasts; and
his whole conduct, in respect to them, was marked by brutal
cruelty. The Quakers, whose revengeful feelings were not less
deep because they were inactive, remembered this man and his
associates in after times. The historian of the sect affirms
that, by the wrath of Heaven, a blight fell upon the land in the
vicinity of the "bloody town" of Boston, so that no wheat would
grow there; and he takes his stand, as it were, among the graves
of the ancient persecutors, and triumphantly recounts the
judgments that overtook them, in old age or at the parting hour.
He tells us that they died suddenly and violently and in madness;
but nothing can exceed the bitter mockery with which he records
the loathsome disease, and "death by rottenness," of the fierce
and cruel governor.

. . . . . . . . .

On the evening of the autumn day that had witnessed the martyrdom
of two men of the Quaker persuasion, a Puritan settler was
returning from the metropolis to the neighboring country town in
which he resided. The air was cool, the sky clear, and the
lingering twilight was made brighter by the rays of a young moon,
which had now nearly reached the verge of the horizon. The
traveller, a man of middle age, wrapped in a gray frieze cloak,
quickened his pace when he had reached the outskirts of the town,
for a gloomy extent of nearly four miles lay between him and his
home. The low, straw-thatched houses were scattered at
considerable intervals along the road, and the country having
been settled but about thirty years, the tracts of original
forest still bore no small proportion to the cultivated ground.
The autumn wind wandered among the branches, whirling away the
leaves from all except the pine-trees, and moaning as if it
lamented the desolation of which it was the instrument. The road
had penetrated the mass of woods that lay nearest to the town,
and was just emerging into an open space, when the traveller's
ears were saluted by a sound more mournful than even that of the
wind. It was like the wailing of someone in distress, and it
seemed to proceed from beneath a tall and lonely fir-tree, in the
centre of a cleared but uninclosed and uncultivated field. The
Puritan could not but remember that this was the very spot which
had been made accursed a few hours before by the execution of the
Quakers whose bodies had been thrown together into one hasty
grave, beneath the tree on which they suffered. He struggled
however, against the superstitious fears which belonged to the
age, and compelled himself to pause and listen.

"The voice is most likely mortal, nor have I cause to tremble if
it be otherwise," thought he, straining his eyes through the dim
moonlight. "Methinks it is like the wailing of a child; some
infant, it may be, which has strayed from its mother, and chanced
upon this place of death. For the ease of mine own conscience I
must search this matter out."

He therefore left the path, and walked somewhat fearfully across
the field. Though now so desolate, its soil was pressed down and
trampled by the thousand footsteps of those who had witnessed the
spectacle of that day, all of whom had now retired, leaving the
dead to their loneliness. The traveller, at length reached the
fir-tree, which from the middle upward was covered with living
branches, although a scaffold had been erected beneath, and other
preparations made for the work of death. Under this unhappy tree,
which in after times was believed to drop poison with its dew,
sat the one solitary mourner for innocent blood. It was a slender
and light clad little boy, who leaned his face upon a hillock of
fresh-turned and half-frozen earth, and wailed bitterly, yet in a
suppressed tone, as if his grief might receive the punishment of
crime. The Puritan, whose approach had been unperceived, laid his
hand upon the child's shoulder, and addressed him

"You have chosen a dreary lodging, my poor boy, and no wonder
that you weep," said he. "But dry your eyes, and tell me where
your mother dwells. I promise you, if the journey be not too far,
I will leave you in her arms to-night."

The boy had hushed his wailing at once, and turned his face
upward to the stranger. It was a pale, bright-eyed countenance,
certainly not more than six years old, but sorrow, fear, and want
had destroyed much of its infantile expression. The Puritan
seeing the boy's frightened gaze, and feeling that he trembled
under his hand, endeavored to reassure him.

"Nay, if I intended to do you harm, little lad, the readiest way
were to leave you here. What! you do not fear to sit beneath the
gallows on a new-made grave, and yet you tremble at a friend's
touch. Take heart, child, and tell me what is your name and where
is your home?"

"Friend," replied the little boy, in a sweet though faltering
voice, "they call me Ilbrahim, and my home is here."

The pale, spiritual face, the eyes that seemed to mingle with the
moonlight, the sweet, airy voice, and the outlandish name, almost
made the Puritan believe that the boy was in truth a being which
had sprung up out of the grave on which he sat. But perceiving
that the apparition stood the test of a short mental prayer, and
remembering that the arm which he had touched was lifelike, he
adopted a more rational supposition. "The poor child is stricken
in his intellect," thought he, "but verily his words are fearful
in a place like this." He then spoke soothingly, intending to
humor the boy's fantasy.

"Your home will scarce be comfortable, Ilbrahim, this cold autumn
night, and I fear you are ill-provided with food. I am hastening
to a warm supper and bed, and if you will go with me you shall
share them!"

"I thank thee, friend, but though I be hungry, and shivering with
cold, thou wilt not give me food nor lodging," replied the boy,
in the quiet tone which despair had taught him, even so young.
"My father was of the people whom all men hate. They have laid
him under this heap of earth, and here is my home."

The Puritan, who had laid hold of little Ilbrahim's hand,
relinquished it as if he were touching a loathsome reptile. But
he possessed a compassionate heart, which not even religious
prejudice could harden into stone.

"God forbid that I should leave this child to perish, though he
comes of the accursed sect," said he to himself. "Do we not all
spring from an evil root? Are we not all in darkness till the
light doth shine upon us? He shall not perish, neither in body,
nor, if prayer and instruction may avail for him, in soul." He
then spoke aloud and kindly to Ilbrahim, who had again hid his
face in the cold earth of the grave. "Was every door in the land
shut against you, my child, that you have wandered to this
unhallowed spot?"

"They drove me forth from the prison when they took my father
thence," said the boy, "and I stood afar off watching the crowd
of people, and when they were gone I came hither, and found only
his grave. I knew that my father was sleeping here, and I said
this shall be my home."

"No, child, no; not while I have a roof over my head, or a morsel
to share with you!" exclaimed the Puritan, whose sympathies were
now fully excited. "Rise up and come with me, and fear not any

The boy wept afresh, and clung to the heap of earth as if the
cold heart beneath it were warmer to him than any in a living
breast. The traveller, however, continued to entreat him
tenderly, and seeming to acquire some degree of confidence, he at
length arose. But his slender limbs tottered with weakness, his
little head grew dizzy, and he leaned against the tree of death
for support.

"My poor boy, are you so feeble?" said the Puritan. "When did you
taste food last?"

"I ate of bread and water with my father in the prison," replied
Ilbrahim, "but they brought him none neither yesterday nor
to-day, saying that he had eaten enough to bear him to his
journey's end. Trouble not thyself for my hunger, kind friend,
for I have lacked food many times ere now."

The traveller took the child in his arms and wrapped his cloak
about him, while his heart stirred with shame and anger against
the gratuitous cruelty of the instruments in this persecution. In
the awakened warmth of his feelings he resolved that, at whatever
risk, he would not forsake the poor little defenceless being whom
Heaven had confided to his care. With this determination he left
the accursed field, and resumed the homeward path from which the
wailing of the boy had called him. The light and motionless
burden scarcely impeded his progress, and he soon beheld the fire
rays from the windows of the cottage which he, a native of a
distant clime, had built in the western wilderness. It was
surrounded by a considerable extent of cultivated ground, and the
dwelling was situated in the nook of a wood-covered hill, whither
it seemed to have crept for protection.

"Look up, child," said the Puritan to Ilbrahim, whose faint head
had sunk upon his shoulder, "there is our home."

At the word "home," a thrill passed through the child's frame,
but he continued silent. A few moments brought them to a cottage
door, at which the owner knocked; for at that early period, when
savages were wandering everywhere among the settlers, bolt and
bar were indispensable to the security of a dwelling. The summons
was answered by a bond-servant, a coarse-clad and dull-featured
piece of humanity, who, after ascertaining that his master was
the applicant, undid the door, and held a flaring pineknot torch
to light him in. Farther back in the passage-way, the red blaze
discovered a matronly woman, but no little crowd of children came
bounding forth to greet their father's return. As the Puritan
entered, he thrust aside his cloak, and displayed Ilbrahim's face
to the female.

"Dorothy, here is a little outcast, whom Providence hath put into
our hands," observed he. "Be kind to him, even as if he were of
those dear ones who have departed from us."

"What pale and bright-eyed little boy is this, Tobias?" she
inquired. "Is he one whom the wilderness folk have ravished from
some Christian mother?"

"No, Dorothy, this poor child is no captive from the wilderness,"
he replied. "The heathen savage would have given him to eat of
his scanty morsel, and to drink of his birchen cup; but Christian
men, alas, had cast him out to die."

Then he told her how he had found him beneath the gallows, upon
his father's grave; and how his heart had prompted him, like the
speaking of an inward voice, to take the little outcast home, and
be kind unto him. He acknowledged his resolution to feed and
clothe him, as if he were his own child, and to afford him the
instruction which should counteract the pernicious errors
hitherto instilled into his infant mind. Dorothy was gifted with
even a quicker tenderness than her husband, and she approved of
all his doings and intentions.

"Have you a mother, dear child?" she inquired.

The tears burst forth from his full heart as he attempted to
reply; but Dorothy at length understood that he had a mother,


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