The Real America in Romance, Volume 6; A Century Too Soon (A Story
John R. Musick
Part 2 out of 6
"He is gone," John answered.
"Is this you?" she asked.
"Cling to me."
"I will. We will survive or perish together."
Then she became silent, and the night grew blacker, while the storm
howled; but the waves receded with the ebbing tide, and the broken hulk
remained fast fixed in the sands. The poor girl shivered all through
that night and clung to her preserver. She did not weep at the loss of
her father, for the horror of their situation dried the fountains of
grief. All night long the warring elements raged about the remaining
castaways, who clung with the tenacity of despair to the wreck.
JOHN STEVENS' CHARGE.
The fair wind blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.
Down dropped the breeze, the sails dropped down,
'Twas sad as sad could be;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea.
Since the art of navigation became known, there have been castaways in
romance and reality without number. De Foe's celebrated Robinson Crusoe
stands first, but not alone among the shipwrecked mariners of truth and
fiction. How many countless thousands have suffered shipwreck and
disaster at sea, whose wild narratives have never been recorded, will
never be known.
John Stevens was not a reader of romance and poetry, which at his age
were in their infancy in Virginia. The hardy pioneers of the New World
were kept too busy fighting Indians and building plantations and cities
to read romance or history. Consequently he had no similar adventures to
compare with his own. John had enough of the sturdy Puritan in his
nature to deeply feel the duty incumbent on him, and enough of the
cavalier to be a gentleman, unselfish and kind.
Throughout the long night he held the half inanimate form of Blanche in
his arms. The storm abated and the tide running out left the vessel
imbedded in the sands. John watched for the coming morn as a condemned
criminal looks for a pardon. He knew no cast nor west in the darkness;
but anon the sea and sky in a certain place became brighter and
brighter. The clouds rolled away, and he saw the bright morning star
fade, as the sable cloak of night was rent to admit the new born day.
Blanche sat up and, gazed over the scene as the flashing rays of
sunlight gleamed over the sea and shore.
"Are we all?" she asked.
"Was no one saved?"
"None but ourselves."
"And the ship?"
"Is a hopeless wreck on the sands," he answered.
As they rose to gaze upon their surroundings, John Stevens thought with
regret that if the crew and passengers had remained below hatches, they
would have been saved; but he and Blanche were all who remained, and he
turned his gaze to the wild shores hoping to discover some sign of
civilization. There was not a hamlet, house or wigwam to indicate that
Christian or savage inhabited the land.
Blanche marked the troubled look on his face and asked:
"Do you know where we are?"
The shore was wild and rocky, and on their right it was covered with a
dense growth of tropical trees. Farther inland rose two towering
mountains. The beach directly before them was low and receding. A long,
level plain, covered with a dense growth of coarse sea-grass, was
between them and the hills, which were covered with palms, maguey and
other tropical trees.
John feared that they had been wrecked on the coast of some of the
Spanish possessions and would be made captives and perhaps slaves by the
They could not live long on the wreck, and he began to look about the
deck for some means of going ashore. The pinnace which had been stowed
away between decks was an almost complete wreck. It would have been
useless had it remained whole, for John and his companion could not
have launched it. There was a small boat hanging by the davits, which
had sustained no other injury than two holes in its side. He was a fair
carpenter, and getting some tools from the carpenter's chest, he mended
the boat. After no little trouble, he lowered the boat and, assisting
Blanche into it, pulled to the shore half a mile away.
It was a shore on which no human foot had ever trod. The great black
stones which lay piled in heaps along the coast to the northeast until
they were almost mountain-high forbade the safe approach of a vessel.
The entire coast was armed with bristling reefs to guard it against the
approach of wandering ships. It was almost miraculous that they had been
driven in between the reefs at the only visible opening. A hundred paces
in either direction their vessel would have been forced upon the rocks.
"Is this country inhabited?" asked Blanche, when they had landed, and
made fast their boat to a great stone.
"I fear not," he answered; "or, if inhabited, it is probably by
"Should that be true, ours will be a sad fate."
"I will not desert you," he answered.
They sat down on the dry white sand to rest and gazed at the wreck, with
its head high in the air and its stern low in the water.
"We made a mistake in not bringing some arms to defend ourselves
against savages or wild beasts," said John.
"Can we not go back for them?"
"Would you be afraid to remain on the beach while I went?" he asked.
She said she would not, though he noticed her cast nervous glances
toward the thickets and forests inland. As he pushed out once more into
the shallow waters lying between the beach and wreck, she came down so
close to the water's edge that the waves almost touched her toes.
"You won't be long gone?" she called in a low, sweet voice, trembling
He reached the wreck and went on board by means of broken shrouds lashed
to the gunwale. The sun shone as brightly and the sky was as peaceful as
if no storm had ever swept over it. The deck was almost dry, and, the
hatches having been fastened, John was agreeably surprised to find but
little damage done by the water. He went down to the companion-way and
found less water in the hold than he expected. He brought out two
muskets, a pair of pistols, a keg of powder, and bullets enough for his
arms. The guns and the pistols were all flint-locks, for at this time
matchlock and wheel-lock had about gone out of use.
A dagger and a sword were also added to the armament, which John
lowered into his boat. Then he remembered that Blanche had had no food,
and he bethought himself of some provisions. He went again into the hold
and, thanks to the care of the cook in stowing away the provisions,
found most of them dry and snug in the fore-part of the vessel. He got
out a small chest of sea biscuits, a Holland cheese, and some dried
fish, which he carried to his boat. He paused a moment to gaze at
Blanche, who sat on a stone watching him. The almost tropical sun
beating down upon her defenceless head suggested the need of some sort
of shelter, and he procured some canvas and threw in an axe and pair of
hatchets to cut poles and arrange a tent or shelter for her.
Having at last loaded his boat he set out for shore. The tide was fast
setting in and bore him rapidly onward. Landing he unloaded his boat,
"Have you seen any one?"
"I have brought some food."
"It will be useless without water. I am very thirsty," she said.
"We will go farther inland, where we must find fresh water," he said
John saw that Blanche had no covering for her head, and the sun's rays
made her faint. He gave her his hat and for himself fashioned a cap of
palm leaves. They went inland until they came to some tall trees, which
afforded a grateful shade. Here he induced Blanche to rest, while he
went further in search of fresh water. She was tired, and had a dread of
being left alone in this strange land; but Blanche was reasonable and
waited beneath the tall palms gazing on the coast, the sea and the wreck
lying on the sands.
"It might have been worse," she thought. "While all our friends and
companions have perished, we are saved. God surely will not desert us.
Having preserved us thus far for some purpose, he will not suffer us to
perish until that purpose is accomplished. I alone might have been
spared to perish miserably in a strange land."
Meanwhile, John Stevens was roaming among the rocks and hills for fresh
water. Great blackened stones parched and dry as the sands of Sahara met
his view on every side, and no sight of water was found until he came to
a dark shallow pool so warm that he could not drink it.
"Heaven help us ere we perish," he groaned, wandering among the rocks
and trees. "If we don't find water soon she will die."
He threw himself on the ground in despair, and as he lay there, he
thought he heard a trickling sound. He started up, fearing that his
ears deceived him; but no, they did not. Beyond a moss-covered stone of
great size was a clear, sparkling rivulet of bright, crystal water,
falling into a stone basin of considerable depth. He stooped and found
it sweet and cool. Oh, so refreshing! Slaking his thirst, he next
thought of his suffering companion under the trees beyond the hill, and
for the first time he reflected that he had failed to provide himself
with any vessel to carry water. There was no bucket or cup nearer than
the ship, and she might perish before he could bring anything from
there. He set his gun against a rock and, plucking some broad palm
leaves, made a cup which would hold about a pint.
All this required time, and he was constantly tortured with the
recollection that his charge was suffering with thirst. With the
improvised cup full of water, he hastened to the almost fainting girl
and said gladly:
"I have found pure, sweet water in abundance. Drink of this, and we will
go at once to the spring."
She eagerly seized the leaf cup and drank, then found herself strong
enough to cross the hill to the precious fountain.
John left one of the guns with her, the other was at the spring; but the
sword and pistols he kept at his belt.
Taking the provisions and musket they set out for the spring. Here they
bathed their hot faces and refreshed themselves.
"Now let us have food," said John.
The sea-biscuit and dried fish were wholesome, and they ate with a
relish. John Stevens wanted to climb a lofty hill about two miles away,
from which he hoped to have a good view of the surrounding country.
"Can we from there determine what land we are on?" she asked.
"I hope so."
"If there be cities, will we see them?"
"We shall," he answered.
"Have you no hopes nor fears?"
"I have both."
"What are your hopes?"
"My hopes are that this is one of the Bermuda Islands."
"And your fears?"
"That this is one of the West India Islands, or a part of the Florida
coast, under control of the Spaniards."
"Did you hear the captain say where we were before the ship struck?"
"No; he was a most incompetent master, and knew not where we were."
"Whether we are in the land of enemies or friends, it will be better to
know the truth," reasoned Blanche.
"Are you strong enough for the walk?"
She thought she was, and they started on their journey of exploration.
One of the guns was left with the provisions at the spring; but John
carried the other.
The distance to the hill proved greater than they had supposed, and
before they reached the base, the sun, sinking low in the heavens,
admonished them that night would overtake them before the summit could
possibly be gained.
John called a halt and asked:
"Shall we go on, or return to the beach?"
Blanche gazed on the frowning hills and bluffs before them and thought
it best to return. Those gloomy mountain wilds were terrible after dark,
and she thought they would find it more congenial nearer the wreck.
They returned to the beach. The inflowing tide had lifted their boat and
borne it further up on the sands.
"Will it not be carried off?" Blanche asked.
"No, I have it anchored with a heavy stone, so it cannot be carried
John cut four poles and drove them into the ground and spread the canvas
over it, forming a shelter for Blanche. He had brought a blanket from
the wreck, which, with some of the coarse grass he cut with his sword,
formed a bed for his charge. A box which he had brought from the ship
afforded her a seat.
They had not found a human being, nor had they seen a single animal. A
few sea-birds flying high in the air were the only living creatures
which had greeted their vision since landing.
"Will you be afraid to remain here while I go for the provisions and
musket left at the spring?" asked John.
"No, we have nothing to fear."
"I believe this part of the coast to be entirely uninhabited."
She made no answer, and he went for the gun and provisions. The walk was
longer than he thought, for he was tired with the day's toil and was
compelled to walk slowly. When about half-way to the spot he heard a
rustling in the tall grass and paused to discover the cause. Cocking his
gun, he tried to pierce the jungle, not fully decided whether the noise
were made by man or beast.
A moment later he heard something running away. It was beyond question a
wild animal, frightened at his approach. He did not get a glimpse of it
and was unable to tell what it was like.
"If a beast," he thought, "it is the only one I have met with since
landing on the coast."
From the rustling it made, it was no doubt small and little to be
feared. He listened for a moment, and then hurried on to the spring.
"Blanche will be lonesome," he thought. "Her father placed her in my
charge, and I will protect her if I can."
Climbing the moss-grown stone, he descended into a dark ravine to the
spring. The sun was set by this time, and the sombre shades of twilight
began to spread over the scene. His eager eyes pierced the gathering
gloom and discovered that the food left had been attacked by animals and
the biscuit devoured.
He searched the ground, and saw footprints.
"Some animals have been here," he thought. "They evidently did not like
dried fish, for, though they have trampled over them, they have devoured
none; but the sea-biscuits are all gone."
It was impossible to determine what sort of animals they were, but he
was quite sure they were not dangerous.
He took up the gun and returned to the tent, where he related to Blanche
the loss of their biscuits.
"Then there are animals on the land," she said.
"Yes; but they are not dangerous," he returned. "These animals may
prove useful to us for food."
"I hope so."
After several moments, she asked:
"How long must we stay?"
"I know not. Had I not better take the boat and go to the wreck for more
"No, not to-night," she answered with a shudder. "I prefer to go without
food than to be left an hour alone in the approaching night."
He had a sea-biscuit in his pocket, which he gave her and made his own
supper of dried fish. With flint, steel and some powder, he kindled a
fire near the tent and sat down before it with a gun across his knees
and another at his side, his back against a tree. Thus he prepared to
pass the night, urging his companion to go to sleep in the tent.
Patient, confiding Blanche went and laid down to sleep. She had borne up
well, not uttering a single complaint throughout all their
As John sat there keeping guard over his charge, his mind went back
across the wild waste of waters to the home he had left. He seemed to
feel the soft baby hands of little Rebecca on his face, or hear the
prattling of his boy at play. His wife's great, dark eyes looked at him
from out the gloom, and he sighed as he thought how improbable it was
that he would ever see them again. Wrecked on an unknown shore, with
dangers and difficulties to surmount, what hope had he of the future?
"Heaven watch over and guard my helpless ones at home, as I guard the
charge entrusted to me," he prayed.
His fire was not so much to keep off the cold as wild animals. The
distant roar of the ocean beating on the shore broke the silence. The
low and melancholy sound fell on the ear of the unfortunate man, and,
raising his eyes to the stars, he thought:
"The same stars shine for them, and the same God keeps watch over all.
May his guardian angels watch over the loved ones at home until the
father and husband returns."
John's heart was heavy. His fire had burned low, and he had forgotten to
replenish it. Suddenly upon the air there came a half growl and half
howl, and, looking up, he saw a pair of fiery eyes flashing upon him. An
animal was approaching the tent. John cocked his gun, aimed at the two
blazing eyes and fired.
In a moment the eyes disappeared, and Blanche, alarmed at the report of
the gun, sprang from the tent and wildly asked:
"What was it? Are we attacked?"
"Peace! It was only an animal, which I should judge to be a fox,"
The report of the gun awakened a thousand slumbering sea-fowls, which
arose screaming on the air in every direction. John listened to hear
some animal, but not a growl and not a cry came on the air. After a few
moments all was quiet once more, and he begged his charge to retire to
sleep, while he took up his post as guard.
THE ISLAND OF DESOLATION.
I am monarch of all I survey,
My right there is none to dispute:
From the centre all round to the sea
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
O Solitude! where are the charms
That sages have seen in thy face?
Better dwell in the midst of alarms
Than reign in this horrible place.
Next morning Stevens went to find the animal, at whose eyes he had fired
during the night; but it was gone without leaving even a trace of blood
behind it. The boat had sustained some damages during the night from the
surf dashing it against the rocks; but he managed to reach the wreck
with it, where he quickly mended the seam started in its side.
He brought away a cask of fresh water, a chest of sea-biscuit, some
Holland cheese, wine, salt pork and more dried fish. After they had
dined, they set out to the nearest mountain, from the peak of which they
hoped to get a survey of the surrounding country. He tried to induce
Blanche to remain, but she insisted on accompanying him.
Nothing is more deceitful than distance, and they were compelled to
pause and rest before they had reached the bluffs and foot-hills at the
base of the mountain. While resting there, they heard a scampering of
feet, accompanied by the loud snort of frightened animals flying from
the plateau above them. They were gone before John and his companion
were able to get a sight of them.
"What are they?" she asked.
"I know not, yet they seem to have a greater dread of us than we have of
Resuming their journey they had not proceeded half a mile, when John
espied one of them looking down upon him and his companion from an airy
cliff. Its bristling horns, long beard, and keen eyes were visible,
though the ferns and grass concealed its body.
"It is a goat," he said. "The animals which we discovered were goats,
and we have nothing to fear from them."
A little further on, he discovered a fox in the bushes. The animal was
unacquainted with man and was very tame. It stood until they were within
a few paces of it, and then it trotted off a short distance and halted
to look at them. John's first impulse was to shoot it; but, on a second
thought, he decided to reserve his fire for some larger and more useful
game. At last the summit of the nearest hill was gained, and from it
they had a survey of the country and discovered that they were on an
island. Stevens' heart sank within him at the discovery, for now no
human help was within their reach. The fear of Spaniards and savages
gave place to the greater dread of passing their lives on a
The island was about sixteen miles long by ten wide. It had four lofty
mountains in the centre, one of which was so high as to be above the
clouds and covered at the peak with snow. These lofty elevations
supplied the island with an abundance of pure, fresh water. In the
fertile valleys below grew bread-fruit and oranges in profusion and many
wild berries and vegetables excellent for food. They spent four days in
exploring the island, hoping to find some sort of inhabitants, but were
disappointed. Goats, foxes and a species of gray squirrel were the
principal animals on the island. None were very dangerous; but the foxes
proved to be mischievous thieves, and stole all of their provisions they
could come at. Stevens began an early war against them, and shot them
wherever they could be found.
Far to the north were two more islands evidently not so large as the one
on which they were cast. Dangerous reefs lay between them and all about
the three islands, making navigation difficult if not impossible.
Blanche bore the journey well and did not give way to despair even when
they discovered that they were on an uninhabited island. For her sake
Stevens kept up a show of courage, though he found despair rising within
"We must get the provisions and tools from off the wreck," he said, "and
make our stay here as comfortable as possible.
"How long will that stay be?" she asked.
"God in heaven alone can tell."
"Surely some passing ship will see us."
He hoped so; but that reef-girt shore seemed to forbid the approach of a
vessel. Nevertheless he set up long poles with flags on them at
different points of the island, so that a passing ship might see them
for miles out to sea.
Then he began the work of unloading the wreck. There was an inlet or
mouth of a creek not far from the place where they first landed, and,
constructing a raft on the wreck and loading it with arms, provisions,
ammunition and tools, they took advantage of the tide to float it in to
shore. This was repeated daily for weeks. Clothing, sails, provisions of
all kinds, half a hundred guns and as many pistols and cutlasses, with
other weapons, tools, books, writing material, and, in fact, everything
that could possibly be of service was brought off from the wreck. They
were favored with mild weather, and John, soon learning to take
advantage of the tides, had no difficulty in landing the goods.
The shore was strewn with boxes, barrels, arms, bales and piles of
goods, with tools, provisions, rafts and broken bits of lumber, for he
decided to bring away as much of the wreck as he could, for the boards
would be very useful in the construction of houses. Weeks were spent in
this arduous toil, and their efforts were fully rewarded.
The foxes proved their only annoyance, and Stevens shot them until they
became more shy. He killed nineteen in a single night. It became
necessary to make a strong wooden cage, or box to keep their food in;
but the salt junk was scented by the foxes, and they gathered about it
in great numbers and made the night hideous with their howls.
At last he hit upon a plan which nearly exterminated the foxes and rid
them of the nuisance. Among other articles brought from the ship was
poison. He shot a goat and, while it was warm and bleeding, cut it open,
poisoned the meat and left it where the foxes could get at it.
Early in the night the fighting, snapping and snarling began, and the
next morning the woods were filled with dead foxes, so it was years
before the howl of another was heard.
Fully realizing the importance of making haste in removing the wreck to
the shore, he worked with more than human efforts until he had gotten
off almost everything of value. Blanche aided him all she could, and
when their tents were up, her womanly instincts as housekeeper gave a
homelike appearance to them.
Having brought off all that was valuable, he built a house close under a
bluff, where a projecting shelf of rock covered a small grotto, which he
enlarged with pick and shovel. Before the rainy season set in, he had a
comfortable house. They had a store of provisions enough to last for two
years, and, in addition, John brought away Indian corn, barley, and
wheat which he planted and, to his delight, discovered that it grew
well. Being a farmer, it was only natural that he should give his
thoughts to agriculture.
John was industrious, thoughtful and, having been brought up in the
colony, was calculated to make the wilderness bloom as Virginia had
done. His axe awoke the echoes of the forest, and he busied himself
building houses, planting fields, and providing for their comforts. All
the while the flags were kept flying from the hills, in hopes of
attracting some passing ship.
Two years glided by, and not a sail had been seen on the ocean. The
wreck had disappeared; but John and Blanche were provided with
comfortable homes. They had tamed the goats, exterminated the foxes, and
their fields waved with corn, wheat and barley. To grind their corn,
John, who was something of a genius, invented a mill from two stones.
The wild fruits and berries of the island improved under cultivation and
yielded a greater abundance. Their floors were covered with rush mats,
and the furniture brought from the wreck gave to the rooms a comfortable
and homelike air.
It was evening, and the sitting-room was lighted by candles made of
goat's tallow. John Stevens was reading aloud from a Bible and Blanche
sat listening with rapt attention.
"Read more," she said when he had finished the page. "What a blessing to
know that even in the uttermost parts of the earth God is with us."
"Verily, it is a comfort."
"Should we die here, He will be with us."
"God is everywhere. He will not desert us," John said.
"But I hope we will yet be rescued."
"I trust so."
He closed his book and placed it on the table at his side and buried his
face in his hands. She watched his strong emotion with eyes which were
moist with sympathy, and, rising, came to his side and placed her hand
on his shoulder.
"You are stronger than I," she said, "why should you grieve more at our
calamity? Surely God is with us."
The tears were trickling through his fingers and his frame was convulsed
with emotion. She noted his grief and, to encourage him, added:
"God is everywhere; he is here; he will guard and watch over us, and, if
it be his pleasure that we escape from this island, he will send some
ship to our deliverance."
"My burden is greater than I can bear."
"Remember He said, 'Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy and my
burden is light.' Trust all to Jesus, and He will give you strength."
"You are all alone in the world, Blanche."
"You have not a relative living."
"No, my father was lost."
"I wish I had none. It is not for myself that I grieve, but the helpless
ones at home."
"My wife and children."
Blanche, shocked and amazed, gazed at him in silence. The blood forsook
her face, her breast heaved, and her breath came in painful gasps. He
had never before in all the two years they had been alone upon the
island mentioned his wife and children.
"I left them to better my fortune," he continued. "They were so helpless
and I so poor; but I did what I thought best. Last night I saw them in
my dreams, her great bright eyes all red with weeping, and my baby's
warm little hands were again about my neck imploring me to come home in
accents so pathetic and sweet, they melted my heart. My blue-eyed Robert
was no longer gay, but melancholy. O God, give me the wings of a dove
that I may go and see them again!"
His head fell on the table and his whole frame shook with emotion, while
Blanche, with her own sad beautiful eyes swimming in tears, could not
utter a word of consolation. When he had partially recovered she asked:
"Why did you not tell me this before, you might have had my sympathy all
"I did not care to burden you with my griefs."
"Trust in God."
"I do; but this dark uncertainty; my helpless children."
"They have their mother."
"She is unpractical, knows nothing of life and is as helpless as the
children. The little money left her has been spent long before this, and
they are--Heaven only knows what ills they may endure. So long as I was
with them, I shielded them from the rude blasts of the world; but now
they are without a protector."
[Illustration: BLANCHE COULD NOT UTTER A WORD OF CONSOLATION.]
Overcome with the sad picture he had created in his mind, he buried his
face again in his hands. Once more Blanche sought to soothe his cares by
assuring him that He who watched the sparrow's fall would in some way
care for his loved ones at home.
The years rolled on, and day by day he climbed the top of the nearest
hill and gazed off to the sea, hoping to discern a sail, but in vain.
He had brought the captain's glasses from the ship, and with this often
gazed at the two islands toward the north with longing eyes. Did they
connect with the main land where people dwelt, and from which they might
find means of transportation to the home which he sometimes feared he
might never again behold?
"Would it be too dangerous to undertake a voyage to those islands?"
Blanche asked one day when they were gazing for the thousandth time
"If we had a suitable boat we might attempt it."
"How is our own boat?"
"Too frail. The boards are almost rotten."
"Then why not make one?"
The idea was a good one, for it promised him employment. He felled a
large tree and proceeded to make a dug-out such as the Indians of
Blanche helped him and was so cheerful, kind and considerate, that
often, as he gazed on her beautiful face, he sighed:
"Had Dorothy possessed her spirit, this misery would have been averted."
He felt a twinge of conscience at rebuking his wife, even in thought. No
doubt she had paid dearly for her folly.
The boat at last was completed, and he rigged a sail for it, and
together they set out for the distant islands. They glided over the
water, catching a glimpse of a man-eating shark, which made them shudder
With fair wind and tide they reached the nearest island that day. It was
nearly as large as their own, and the shore was fully as dangerous. The
next was smaller, and both were wooded, with low hills, but poorly
watered. They found goats and foxes abounding on each, but no indication
that a human being had ever been there. All about on every side was the
vast ocean, stretching as far as the eye could reach, with the eternal
wash of waves on the rocks.
Spreading their tent on the shore, they passed the night on the island
nearest their own, and were greatly annoyed by foxes and mosquitoes, so
that with early dawn they were glad to return home.
One never knows how to appreciate home until they have been away, and
John seemed to take a new interest in his house, fields and the tame
goats of his island.
Yet in the night, when slumber had sealed his eyelids, he saw in that
far-away home his wife's pale face, and felt his baby's soft arms once
more about his neck, and in his agony he cried out:
"God send some ship to deliver me!"
Day by day as the years rolled on, John Stevens saw more and more to
admire in the companion with whom his lot was cast. When he was sick or
tired she watched over him with all the tender care of a sister or
mother. When he was saddest she whispered words of hope and cheer in his
ear. In fact Blanche was an ideal woman, a comforter and a helper.
"How could I live here without you, Blanche?" he said one day.
"Heaven tempers the wind to the shorn lamb," she answered. "Nothing is
so bad that it could not be worse." Blanche was a pure Christian girl.
No influence on earth could swerve her from a course marked out for her
by her intellect and approved by her conscience. She was a devout
Christian, and when her companion, in the bitterness of his soul, was
rebellious, her sweet Christian influence led him back to God.
In the stillness of life, talent is formed; but in the storm and stress
of adverse circumstances character is fashioned. Had Blanche returned to
London she might have become a society lady; but here she was a
consoler, binding up the broken heart. She would sit for hours by John's
side talking with him about his wife and children in far-off Virginia,
and she never went to sleep without praying Heaven by some means to take
the father and husband back to his loved ones.
"I went to the cliff this morning," she said, "thinking I might see a
sail, but I was disappointed."
"Why did you think to see a sail, Blanche?" he asked.
"I dreamed last night that a ship came for you and took you home. Oh,
how glad I was, when I saw you happy again with your dear wife and the
baby on your knee, its little warm hands on your face!"
After a long silence, he asked:
"Blanche, how long have we been here?"
"Ten years," she answered.
Blanche not only had kept a complete journal since the day of their
shipwreck, but had written a faithful description of the island, giving
its resources and describing the coast. To John it seemed but yesterday
since he kissed the tender cheek of his babe, bade his wife a farewell
and sailed away.
Ten years had made their impress on him. His hair was growing gray, and
his beard was quite frosty. It was not age that whitened his hair so
much as it was his ten years of suffering. Ten years had developed
Blanche from a beautiful girl to a glorious woman of twenty-eight, more
beautiful at twenty-eight than eighteen.
"Blanche, would ten years change a baby?" John asked.
"Then my baby is a baby no longer," sighed the father.
"No; she is a pretty little girl now."
"And has no recollection of her father?"
"How could she?"
"But my little boy?"
"He was five when you left home?"
"No, not quite; four and some months."
"Then he would remember you."
"He is a good-sized boy."
"Almost fifteen," she answered.
"Heaven grant I may yet see them!"
"Amen!" replied Blanche. "God has not forgotten you; our prayers will be
John made no answer. He arose, took his gun and went out among the
"When he talks of them," Blanche thought, "he always goes to the hills.
God grant he does not die of despair, for then I would be all alone on
this island of desolation."
Tears gathered in her eyes and, falling on her knees, she breathed a
IN WIDOW'S WEEDS.
Go; you may call it madness, folly;
You may not chase my gloom away.
There's such a charm in melancholy,
I would not, if I could, be gay.
Dorothe Stevens was not a woman to take misfortune much to heart. She
watched the ship in which her husband sailed until it vanished from
sight, shed a few tears, heaved a few sighs and went home to see if the
negro slave had prepared breakfast. She smiled next day, and before the
week was past she was quite gay. She said she was not going to repine
and languish in sorrow.
Her conduct shocked the staid Puritans, and her fine apparel was ungodly
in their eyes.
Weeks rolled on, and no news came from the good ship _Silverwing_; but
they might not hear from her for months, and Mrs. Stevens did not borrow
trouble. She did not dream that the ship could possibly be lost, or that
her husband's voyage could be other than prosperous, so she plunged into
a course of extravagance and pleasure that would have ruined a
wealthier man than poor John Stevens.
"I must do something," she declared, "to relieve my mind from thoughts
of my poor, dear, absent husband, for whom I grieve continually."
Once John's mother and sister came to see her; but she was entertaining
some ladies from Greensprings and wholly neglected her visitors. The
grandmother held the baby on her knee, kissed the face, while her tears
fell on it; then silently the two unwelcome visitors departed for their
home, while Mrs. Stevens was so busily engaged with the ladies from
Greensprings that she did not even bid them adieu.
Dark days were in store for Dorothe Stevens. She heeded not the constant
reduction of her money until it was gone. Then she reasoned that her
husband would soon return with a goodly supply, and she began to use her
credit, which had always been good; but she found that the merchants who
once had smiled on her frowned when she came to ask for credit.
"Have you heard from your husband, Dorothe Stevens?" one asked, when she
applied to him for credit.
"He has been a long time gone."
"Yes; but he will return."
"The _Silverwing_ has not yet reached London."
"How know you that?" she asked, a momentary shadow coming over her face.
"The _Ocean Star_ hath just arrived, but brought no report from the
"It left before the _Silverwing_ arrived. The ship was delayed a little.
It has reached there safely by this time, I am quite sure," and Mrs.
Stevens face grew bright as she made some purchases for which she had
not the money to pay. The merchant sold to her reluctantly, and she,
without dreaming that calamity could possibly befall her, went on
enjoying herself. Ex-Governor Berkeley had invited her to spend a few
days at Greenspring, where she met her husband's friend Hugh Price, with
other gay cavaliers and ladies.
Dorothe was a thorough royalist, and she heard, while at the governor's,
that Cromwell was in poor health, and there was a strong feeling that
the exiled Prince Charles would be recalled to the throne. Berkeley had
invited him to Virginia. Many of England's nobles, flying from
Cromwell's persecutions, had taken refuge with ex-Governor Berkeley, and
no other greater pleasure could Dorothe wish than to be associated
When she returned to her home, it looked poor and mean in comparison
with the governor's excellent manor house; but troubles thickened.
Bills came pouring in upon her, which she was unable to meet, for she
had not a farthing, and her creditors became clamorous.
"Why don't John come back with the money?" she asked, angry tears
starting from her eyes. "I cannot meet these bills, and he knows I
"You have been grossly extravagant, Mrs. Stevens," one heartless
creditor returned. He was a merchant who had smiled on her most sweetly
in her prosperous days, and had always welcomed her to his shop. "Had
you economized with the money your husband left, you would not be in
such sore straits."
Mrs. Stevens was shocked and indignant. She wept and asked for time. Ann
Linkon, who had never forgiven Dorothe Stevens for the ducking she had
caused her, now boldly declared that she had all along told the truth
and, shaking her gray head, repeated:
"She is a hussy. She hath driven John to sea and perchance to death. She
is a hussy."
No one attempted to prevent Ann's tongue from wagging, and to the
unfortunate Dorothe it was quite evident that she was no longer the
favorite of Jamestown.
"When John comes back, all will change," she thought; but, alas, the
months crept slowly by, and John came not. There came a rumor which
time confirmed that the _Silverwing_ was lost. Dorothe, who was of a
hopeful nature, would not believe it at first, though the news had a
very disastrous effect to her credit. She was refused at every shop and
store in Jamestown. In her distress she sold such articles as she could
dispense with; but Jamestown was only a frontier hamlet, it had no such
conveniences as pawnbrokers and secondhand clothiers, and what few
articles she could dispose of were sold mainly to freed or indented
servants at ruinous prices.
Dorothe's fashionable friends deserted her. The ladies and cavaliers at
Greenspring became suddenly cold and she remained at home. Her slaves
were taken away, so, finally, was the home, and, with her little
children, she took up her abode in a miserable log cabin, where she
became an object of charity. A year and a half had rolled away; but she
had not wholly given up her husband for dead. The vessel might have
blown out of its course, it might have been captured by pirates, or
Spaniards, and her husband might yet escape.
She had been so cool toward his relatives, that they had not seen her
for a year. She was proud and would have suffered death rather than
appeal to them for aid; but her children--his children, were suffering,
and, as she had to give up even the log cabin to rapacious creditors, at
last she appealed to his mother and sister, whom she had despised.
"You are welcome. Come and share our home," was the response.
Almost heartbroken, yet proud, Dorothe with her children set out for the
distant plantation in the county in which lived the relatives of
Political changes were coming, which were to have a marked effect on
Dorothe, who gave up her husband for dead and donned the widow's weeds.
Those changes were the restoration.
In 1658, Cromwell died and named his son Richard as his successor. From
the death of Cromwell until the accession of Charles II., the government
of England was in a state of chaos and was highly revolutionary without
being in a state of actual anarchy. There was in reality no head to the
government. Even the Puritans saw that the inevitable must come, and, in
1660, Charles II. was restored to the throne of England without any
serious jar to the country or colonies. It was late in May, 1660, when
the wandering prince, mounted on a gayly caparisoned steed, entered
London between his brothers, the Dukes of York and Gloucester, and took
up his abode in the palace of Whitehall, while flags waved, bells rang,
cannons roared, trumpets brayed, shouts rent the air and fountains
poured out costly libations of wine as tokens of public joy. After a
twenty years' struggle between royalists and republicans, the monarchy
was restored, and the English people again became subjects of the head
of the Scottish house of Stuarts.
[Illustration: Oliver Cromwell]
The accession of Charles II. soon caused a change in the affairs of
America. The new king assigned to his brother James, Duke of York, the
whole territory of New Netherland, with Long Island and a part of
Connecticut. Charles had no more right to that domain than to the
central province of Spain; but the brutal argument that "might makes
right" justified the royal brothers, in their own estimation, in sending
ships, men and cannon, the "last argument of kings," to take possession
of and hold the territory. Four men-of-war, bearing four hundred, and
fifty soldiers, commanded by Colonel Richard Nicolls, a court favorite,
arrived before New Amsterdam in the latter part of August, 1664.
Governor Stuyvesant had been warned of their approach and tried to
strengthen the fort; but money, men and will were wanting. The
governor's violent temper, with English influence, had alienated the
people, and they were indifferent. Some of them regarded the invaders as
welcome friends. Stuyvesant began to make concessions to the popular
wishes. It was too late; and New Amsterdam became an easy prey to the
Early in this year, revolutionary movements had taken place among the
English on Long Island, which the governor could not suppress, and the
province was rent by internal discord for several months. A war with the
Indians above the Hudson Highlands had also given the governor much
trouble; but his energy and wisdom had brought it to a close. The
anthems of a Thanksgiving day had died away, and the governor, assured
of peace, had gone to Fort Orange (Albany), when news reached him of the
coming English armament. He hastened back to his capital, and, on
Saturday, the 30th day of August, Nicolls sent to the governor a formal
summons to surrender the fort and city. He also sent a proclamation to
the citizens, promising perfect security of person and property to all
who should quietly submit to English rule.
The Dutch governor hastily assembled his magistrates at the fort to
consider public affairs; but, to his disgust, they favored submission
without resistance. Stuyvesant, true to his superiors and his own
convictions of duty, would not listen to such a proposition, nor allow
the inhabitants to see the proclamation. The Sabbath passed without any
answer to the summons. It was a day of great excitement and anxiety in
Amsterdam, and the people became impatient. On Monday the magistrates
explained to them the situation of affairs, and they demanded a sight of
the proclamation. It was refused, and they were on the verge of open
insurrection, when a new turn in events took place.
Governor Winthrop of Connecticut, who was quite friendly with
Stuyvesant, had joined the English squadron. Nicolls sent him as an
embassador to Stuyvesant, with a letter in which was repeated the demand
for a surrender. The two governors met at the gate of the fort.
Stuyvesant read the letter and promptly refused to comply.
"Inform the Englishman if he wants my fort, he must come amid cannon and
balls to take it," he said. Closing the gate, he retired to the council
chamber and laid the letter before his cabinet and magistrates. After
examining it they said:
"Read the letter to the people, and so get their minds."
The governor stoutly refused. The council and magistrates as stoutly
insisted that he should do so, when the enraged governor, who had fairly
earned the title of "Peter the Headstrong," unable to control his
passion, tore the letter into pieces. The people at work on the
palisades, hearing of this, hastened to the Statehouse, where a large
number of citizens were soon gathered. They sent a deputation to the
fort to demand the letter. Stuyvesant, storming with rage, cried:
"Back to the ramparts! mend the palisades, and we will answer the letter
[Illustration: TOMB OF STUYVESANT.]
The deputies were inflexible, and a fair copy of the letter was made
from the pieces, taken to the Statehouse and read to the inhabitants. At
that time the population of New Amsterdam did not exceed fifteen hundred
souls. Outside of the little garrison, there were not over two hundred
men capable of bearing arms, and it was the utmost folly to resist.
Nicolls, growing impatient, sent a message to the silent
"I shall come for your answer to-morrow with ships and soldiers," and
anchored two war-vessels between the fort and Governor's Island.
Stuyvesant's proud will would not bend to circumstances, and, from the
ramparts of the fort, he saw their preparations for attack, without in
the least relenting, and when men, women and children, and even his
beloved son Balthazzar, entreated him to surrender, that the lives and
property of the citizens might be spared, he replied:
"I had much rather be carried out dead."
At last, however, when the magistrates, the clergy and many of the
principal citizens entreated him, the proud old governor, who had "a
heart as big as an ox, and a head that would have set adamant to scorn,"
consented to capitulate. He had held out for a week. On Monday morning,
the 8th of September, 1664, he led his troops from the fort to a ship on
which they were to embark for Holland, and an hour after, the red cross
of St. George was floating over Fort Amsterdam, the name of which was
changed to Fort James as a compliment to the Duke.
The remainder of New Netherlands soon passed into the possession of the
English, and the city and province were named New York, another
compliment to Prince James, afterward James II. Colonel Nicolls, whom
the duke had appointed as his deputy governor, was so proclaimed by the
magistrates of the city, and all officers within the domain of New
Netherland were required to take an oath of allegiance to the
The new governor took up his abode in the Dutch fort, if the strange
structure within the palisades could be called a fort. It contained,
besides the governor's house and barracks, a steep gambrel-roofed church
with a high tower, a windmill, gallows, pillory, whipping-post, prison
and a tall flagstaff. There was generally a cheerful submission to the
conquerors on the part of the inhabitants, and after the turmoil of
surrender a profound quiet reigned in New York.
So passed into the domain of perfected history the Dutch dominion in
America after an existence of fifty years, by that unrighteous seizure
of the territory which had been discovered and settled by the Dutch.
England became the mistress of all the domain stretching along the coast
of the Atlantic Ocean from Florida to Acadie, and westward across the
entire continent; but in New Netherland, in that brief space of half a
century, the Dutch had stamped the impress of their institutions, their
social and religious habits, their modes of thought and peculiarities of
character, so that they remained unconquered in the loftier aspect of
the case. The characteristics of the Dutch of New Netherland were so
indelibly stamped, that, after a lapse of more than two centuries, they
are still marked features of New York society.
Saucy New England underwent fewer changes by reason of the restoration
than all the other colonies. The New Englanders were men and women of
iron who dared everything. They were always cool, cautions, yet bold,
and when they made an effort to gain a right, they always won. They
clung to all their rights and demanded more. The bigotry of the Puritans
of Massachusetts was vehemently condemned at the time of their iron rule
and has been ever since; but their theology and their ideas of church
government were founded upon the deepest heart-convictions of a people
not broadly educated. Having encountered and subdued a savage wilderness
for the purpose of planting therein a church and a commonwealth,
fashioned in all their parts after a narrow but cherished pattern, they
felt that the domain thus conquered was all their own, and that they had
the right to regulate the internal affairs according to their own notion
of things. They boldly proclaimed the right to the exercise of private
judgment in matters of conscience, and so tacitly invited the persecuted
of all lands to immigrate and settle among them. This invitation brought
"unsettled persons," libertines in unrestrained opinions, from abroad to
disseminate their peculiar views. The Puritans, fearing the
disorganization of their church, early took alarm and, with a mistaken
policy, resisted such encroachments upon the domain and into their
society with fiery penal laws implacably executed.
Among the sects of the time dangerous to Puritanism, were the Quakers or
Friends. The first of the sect who appeared conspicuously in New England
were Mary Fisher and Anna Austin, who arrived at Boston in the summer of
1656, when John Endicott was governor. There was no special law against
them; but under a general act against heretics, they were arrested;
their persons were searched to find marks of witchcraft, with which they
were suspected; their trunks were searched, and their books were burned
publicly by the hangman. After several weeks of confinement in prison,
they were sent back to England. Mary Fisher, a violent religious
enthusiast, afterward visited the Sultan of Turkey and, being mistaken
for a crazy woman, was permitted to go everywhere unmolested.
The harsh treatments of the first comers fired the zeal of the more
enthusiastic of the sect in England, who sought martyrdom as an honor
and a passport to the home of the righteous. They flocked to New England
and fearfully vexed the souls of the Puritan magistrates and ministers.
One woman came from London to warn the authorities against persecutions.
Others came to revile, denounce and defy the powers of the church. From
the windows of their houses they would rail at the magistrates, and
mock the institutions of the country, while some fanatical young women
appeared nude on the streets and in the churches, as emblems of
"unclothed souls of the people." Others with loud voices proclaimed that
the wrath of the Almighty was about to fall like destructive lightning
on Boston and Salem. The Quakers of 1659 were quite different from that
honorable body of people of the present age.
Horrified by their blasphemies and indecencies, the authorities of
Massachusetts passed some cruel laws. At first they forbade all persons
"harboring Quakers," imposing severe penalties for each offence, then
followed mild punishment on the Friends themselves. These proving
ineffectual, the Puritans passed laws which authorized the cropping of
the ears, boring the tongues with hot irons, and hanging on the gibbet
Even these terrible laws could not keep them away. On a bright October
day in 1659, two young men named William Robinson and Marmaduke
Stevenson, with Mary Dyer, wife of the Secretary of State of Rhode
Island, were led from the Boston jail, with ropes around their necks and
guarded by soldiers, to be hanged on Boston Common. Mary walked between
her companions hand in hand to the gallows, where, in the presence of
Governor Endicott, the two young men were hung. Mary was unmoved by the
spectacle. She was given into the care of her son, who came from Rhode
Island to plead for her life, and went away with him; but the next
spring this foolish woman returned and began preaching and was herself
hung on Boston Common.
The severity of these laws caused a revulsion of public sentiment. The
Quakers stoutly maintained their course, and were regarded by the more
thoughtful as real martyrs for conscience sake, and, in 1661, the severe
laws against them were repealed. Puritanism, which had flourished under
republicanism in England, with the restoration of the Stuarts was
threatened, and doubtless fear of the vengeance of the church party
caused the New Englanders to temper their laws.
A restless spirit on the part of the New Englanders with an uneasy
feeling in regard to the result of the restoration caused many to
emigrate to Carolinia, which was a mysterious, far-away land where
everybody lived at peace. Removed from the grasp of kings and tyrants,
many went to the infant town planted on Old-town Creek, near the south
side of Cape Fear River. However, the Carolinias were growing from
fugitive settlements into commonwealths, and, in 1666, William Drummond,
the friend of John Stevens, was appointed governor of North Carolinia.
Claybourne, who, after a struggle of twenty years, had succeeded in
conquering Maryland, saw, with the decline of the commonwealth of
England, his own hopes go down. In 1658, the Catholics of St. Mary's and
the Puritans of St. Leonard's consulted, and the province was
surrendered to Lord Baltimore. Claybourne had no sooner gained that for
which he had battled, than his power began to crumble beneath his feet,
and he was even ejected from the Virginia council.
The restoration of 1660 produced a most wonderful effect on Virginia.
All was changed in the twinkling of an eye, so to speak. The cavaliers,
who had been sulking for years under the mild rule of the commonwealth,
threw up their hats and cheered from Flower de Hundred to the capes on
the ocean, as only a victorious political party can cheer.
The sentiment of the Virginians in favor of royalty was strong and
abiding; with the restoration of monarchy they had achieved the main
point. The representatives in the colony of the psalm-singing fanatics
of England would have to go now. Silk and lace and curling wigs would be
once more in fashion, the hated close-cropped wretches in black coats
and round hats would fade into the background, and the good old
cavaliers, like the king, would have their own once more.
The king's men became prominent, and their plantations resounded with
revelry. It was thought that Charles II. would grant special favors to
Virginia, as Berkeley had invited him to be their king even before he
was restored to the throne of England. The country is said to have
derived the name of the "Old Dominion" from the fact that the Charles
might have been king of Virginia before he was king of England.
In March, 1660, the planters assembled at Jamestown and enacted:
"Whereas, by reason of the late distractions (which God, in his mercy,
put a suddaine period to), there being in England noe resident absolute
and ge'll confessed power, be it enacted and confirmed: that the supreme
power of the government of this country shall be resident in the
assembly, and that all writts issue in the name of the grand assembly of
Virginia until such command, or commission come out of England as shall
by the assembly be adjudged lawful." The same session declared Sir
William Berkeley governor and captain-general of Virginia. In October of
the same year of the restoration, Sir William Berkeley was commissioned
governor of Virginia by Charles II.
No one in all the colony rejoiced more at the restoration of monarchy
than did Dorothe Stevens. Her fortunes had mended. Her husband's brother
was appointed governor of Carolinia, and, while he was acting in the
capacity of governor, he managed to secure the fortune his grandfather
had left in St. Augustine. It was large, and fully twenty thousand
pounds fell to the heirs of John Stevens, which was a godsend to the
widow, who purchased a fine house in Jamestown and once more entered the
society of the cavaliers and church people.
For twelve years she had been a widow, and now that she was wealthy and
the charm of cavalier society, she began to entertain some serious
thoughts of doffing her widow's weeds.
"It's all because of that cavalier Hugh Price", said Ann Linkon
spitefully. "The hateful thing will wed him, because he is rich and the
king is restored."
The widow left off her weeds and, in silk and lace, with ruffles and
frills, became the gayest of the gay. The flush came to her pale cheek,
and people said she smiled on Hugh Price. It is quite certain that Hugh
Price, after the restoration, was known to be frequently in the society
of his lost friend's wife.
Mother, for the love of grace
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul,
That not your trespass but my madness speaks.
It will skin and film the ulcerous place;
While rank corruption, winning all within,
With the return of prosperity Mrs. Stevens deserted and forgot her
husband's relatives notwithstanding their kindness to her in adversity.
Mrs. Stevens possessed a ruinous pride and vanity combined with a
haughty spirit and small gratitude. She was wealthy, again the cavaliers
were in power, and she was the gayest of the gay. She was still youthful
and beautiful and out of widow's weeds.
"Hugh Price will surely wed her," said Sarah Drummond.
No sooner was Governor Berkeley inaugurated, after receiving his
commission from Charles II., than he gave a grand reception at which
there was music and dancing. The young widow was there in silk, lace
and ruffles, her black eyes sparkling with pleasure. Hugh Price, a great
favorite of the governor, was one of the most dashing gentlemen in
Virginia at the time. He was a handsome fellow with hair bordering on
redness and eyes a dark brown. His mustache was between golden and red,
and he possessed an excellent form.
He was seen much in the society of the widow Stevens, and some of his
friends began to chaff him on his attentions, which made the
"Verily, Hugh is a good cavalier, Dorothe is a royalist and was never
happy with John Stevens; it is better that she wed him."
Robert Stevens was twelve or fourteen, when his mother, laying aside her
widow's weeds, became young again. Robert remembered his father and
their days of privation, and he did not forget that all they had, they
owed to that father. He witnessed his mother's smiles and blushes with
some anxiety. One day, as he was going an errand to Neck of Land, he was
accosted by a meddlesome fellow named William Stump, with:
"Master Robert, do you know you are soon to have a father-in-law?"
(Stepfather was in those days known as father-in-law.)
"No!" cried the boy, indignantly.
"By the mass! you are. Don't you observe how Hugh Price is continually
with your mother?"
Robert's eyes filled with tears, and he cried:
"I will kill him!"
William Stump, laughing at the misery he had occasioned, answered:
"Marry! lad, you can do naught. Better win the favor of Hugh, for he can
be a cruel master."
Robert went on his errand, hating both Hugh Price and William Stump, and
he determined to appeal to his mother to have no more to do with
Robert had been sent on the errand by the mother, that he might be away
when Hugh Price came. She had an intuition, as women sometimes do, that
the supreme moment had arrived in which Hugh would "speak his mind." The
widow looked very pretty in her lace and silk and frilled cap, from
which the raven tresses peeped. She had also managed to dispose of
little Rebecca, so the coast was clear when Mr. Price, on his gayly
caparisoned steed, arrived. To one not acquainted with the state of Hugh
Price's mind, his appearance and behavior on the occasion of his ride
from Greensprings to Jamestown would have been mysterious and
Dismounting at the stiles he gave the rein to a gayly dressed negro, who
led the animal into the barn while the negro girl showed him to the
parlor, which was furnished gorgeously. The harp which the widow played
was in the corner with her Spanish guitar. The room was unoccupied when
Hugh entered. He paced to and fro with nervous tread, popped his head
out of the window at intervals of three or four minutes and glanced at
the hourglass on the mantel, manifesting an impatience unusual in him.
It was quite evident that some subject of great importance occupied his
mind. At last Mrs. Stevens entered, quite flustered, almost out of
breath and her cheeks crimson with youth and beauty. Wheeling about from
the window through which he had been nervously gazing, he accosted
"Mrs. Stevens, I have chosen this opportune moment--"
Here he choked. Something seemed to rise in his throat and cut off his
speech. Dorothe glanced at him, her great dark eyes wide open in real or
affected wonder and asked:
"Well, Mr. Price, for what have you chosen this moment?"
"It is, madame, to tell you--ahem, this day is very hot."
"So it is," Dorothe answered, her dark eyes beaming tenderly on him.
"Won't you sit? Your long ride has fatigued you."
"Indeed it has," answered Hugh, accepting the proffered seat. The fine
speech which Hugh had been studying all the way to Jamestown had quite
vanished from his mind; but the widow was inclined to help him on with
his wooing. After three or four more efforts to clear his throat,
"Mrs. Stevens, I came--ahem--all the way here to ask you--to get your
opinion--that is to say--"
Here he stopped again. The words in his throat had become clogged, and
Hugh's face was purple, while great drops of sweat stood out in beads on
Dorothe, free from the embarrassment which tortured him, waited a
respectable length of time for him to clear away that annoying
obstruction in his throat, and then to help him along, began:
"Why, Mr. Price, you have always been one of my best friends, and I
assure you that any suggestion or information I can give you, will be
freely given," and here the widow blushed to the border of her cap, and
touched her mouth with the corner of her apron.
Price, fixing his eyes on the ceiling, gathered courage enough to begin
"I have come to remark, Mrs. Stevens, that--ahem--that--do you think
the restoration of monarchy is permanent?"
"Oh, I hope so," replied the widow very earnestly and softly, with a
glance at the cavalier.
"Under the restoration, do you--ahem--think it is a much greater
expense to keep two people than to keep one?" He was getting at it
"Oh, dear me, Mr. Price!" said Mrs. Stevens, coloring again, for she
fancied she saw in the near future a proposal coming. "Oh, what a
The cavalier, having gotten fairly started, now came boldly to the
charge. He had asked a question and demanded an answer. She thought it
did not make the expense very much greater if the people were economical
and careful, and then the pleasure of being in the society of some one
was certainly very great.
That was just what Mr. Price had all along been thinking, and then, with
his great manly heart all bursting with human kindness, he said:
"You must be very lonely, Mrs. Stevens."
"Lonely, oh, so lonely!" and the white apron was changed from the corner
of the mouth to the corner of the eyes.
"I have thought so often of you living here alone with those children,
who need a father's care."
By this time the widow was whimpering. He grew bolder and, falling on
his knees, began an impassioned avowal of love. The widow, startled by
the earnestness of her lover, rose to her feet in dismay.
At this juncture the door was thrown open, and the boy Robert entered
to take a part in the scene. He carried a stout staff and, raising it
with both hands, brought it down with a resounding whack on the
shoulders of his mother's suitor.
Then a scene followed. Robert was ejected from the room and the mother
made it all right with the injured party. A few days later it was
currently reported that the widow Stevens was to wed Hugh Price the
handsome cavalier. Mr. Stevens, the brother of her former husband, was
shocked at the announcement and, in conversation with his wife, said:
"She who has always been an enemy to second marriages is now to bring a
father-in-law over her children to the house."
"Poor children when Hugh Price becomes their master, as he will."
"I believe it is my duty to expostulate with her."
"Nay, nay, husband, it will be of no avail. You will have your trouble
for your pains."
On a second thought, he was convinced that it would be folly to
"It will be better to let her have her way," he concluded. "Marry! she
hath never sought advice or shelter save when her trouble overwhelmed
her. In prosperity we are strangers, in adversity friends. Alas, poor
The cavalier Price was seen frequently on the streets of Jamestown, and
his friends noticed that he spent much of his time with the widow. He
was smiling. His fat face and dark brown eyes seemed to glow with
happiness. He never looked ugly, save when he encountered Robert's
scowling face, and then he felt unpleasant sensations about the
[Illustration: The door was thrown open and the boy Robert entered to
take a part in the scene.]
Grinding his teeth in rage, he said:
"I will have my revenge on him when he is under my control."
Hugh Price was not in a great hurry. He bided his time, and not even a
frown ruffled his brow. He greeted the children with sunny smiles
calculated to win their hearts, and under ordinary circumstances they
might have done so. But from the first he was regarded with aversion, as
an intruder upon their sanctuary and love. The dislike was mutual, for,
though Price concealed his feelings, there rankled in his breast an
enmity which he could not smother.
Robert was open in his resentment. It was the first time he had ever
opposed his mother. Even when younger, in their trouble and sore
distress, he was her counsellor. He had not complained when the heaviest
burdens were laid on his young shoulders. He had done the work of a man
long before he was even a stout lad. Privation and hardship were borne
without complaint. He rejoiced on his mother's account when their
fortunes so suddenly and unexpectedly changed. Toil was over. Rest came
and with it the improvement he desired.
It was hoped by her best friends that the bitter lesson which Dorothe
had learned would prove effective, but it did not. Women of her
disposition never learn by experience, and she plunged once more into
extravagance and folly. The boy was old enough to realize his mother's
weakness, yet his great love for her placed her above censure. He was
silent and would have borne a second misfortune like the first
uncomplaining; but when he learned that she was to bring one to take the
place of that father who slept beneath the sea, he rebelled.
Dorothe knew the disposition of her children, and she decided to get
them out of the way until after the wedding. At last she hit upon a
plan. Once more in her need she had recourse to the relatives of her
husband. Her husband's sister had married Richard Griffin, a planter,
and lived at Flower de Hundred. The children had always loved their
paternal relatives, and, though they had not been permitted to visit
them since the restoration, they had by no means forgotten them. They
hailed with joy the announcement that they were to go to Flower
One morning in early June three horses were saddled, and Robert and
Rebecca, accompanied by a trusty negro named Sam, started on their
journey. Most of the travel, especially to a country as far away as
Flower de Hundred, was on horseback.
"I am so glad we are going," said Rebecca, as they galloped along the
road through the woods. "Mother was good to let us go."
"I am s'prised at the missus," the negro said, shaking his head.
"Sumfin am gwine to happen now fur sure, sumfin am gwine to happen."
"Why?" asked Robert.
"Misse neber gwine to dem people less dar be sumfin for a-gwine ter
Little Rebecca cast furtive glances about in the dark old wood through
which they were riding and with a shudder asked:
"Is there any danger of Indians?"
So often had the savages drenched the earth with blood, that the child
had a dread of them.
"Dun know, Misse Rebecca. Sam gwine ter fight if Indians come."
"But they must not come."
"No Injun hurt Misse. Sam not let um."
Robert, young as he was, had little faith in the negro's boasts as a
protector, for he knew that Sam was a coward and would fly at the first
intimation of danger. The journey was made without incident. It was a
journey through a country romantic and picturesque to the youthful
Robert. The grand old forest, with its untrodden paths, the tall trees,
the dead monarchs of the forest, with branches white and bare spread
like ghost's fingers in the air, filled his imagination with picturesque
visions. Next they journeyed through a strip of low lands covered with
tall, coarse grass, which came almost to the backs of the horses. Then
they swam streams in which the negro held the girl on her horse. At
night Flower de Hundred was reached, and the children were with
Sam left them to return to Jamestown with the horses. As he went away,
he took Robert aside and, with a strange look on his ebony face, said:
"Spect sumfin bad am gwine ter happen, Masse Robert. She neber sent ye
heah but for bad luck ter come. Look out for it now, lem me told ye;
look out foh it now."
Robert knew that all negroes were superstitious, and Sam's strange
warning made very little impression on him. He and his sister were happy
with their relatives who were kind to them.
Occasionally the uncle and the aunt were found talking in subdued tones
with eyes fixed on Robert and Rebecca; but he did not think it could
have any relation to them.
The days were spent in frolicsome glee among the old Virginia woods, and
the nights in healthful repose. Robert felt at times a vague, strange
uneasiness. It seemed so odd that his mother should send them away, and
that so many days should elapse without hearing from her. It was not at
all like her; but he was so free and so happy in his new existence, that
he did not allow it to trouble him.
One day a wandering hunter from Jamestown came by the house where Robert
was playing with his cousins and called to him:
"Ho! master Robert, I have news for you," he called to the lad.
"William Stump, when did you come?" he asked.
"But this day," was the answer.
"Where are you from?"
"Jamestown, and, by the mass! my young gay cavalier, I have news for
you. Marry! have you not heard it already?"
"I have heard nothing."
"Your mother hath married," cried Stump with fiendish chuckle.
"It is false!" cried Robert.
"By the mass! it is true, my young cavalier," and Stump laughed at the
expression of misery which came over the young face. "It was a gay
notion to send you brats away until the ceremony was over. You might
make trouble, you know. Ha, ha, ha! You laid your stick about the
shoulders of Mr. Hugh Price, now he will return blow for blow," and,
with another chuckle, Stump sauntered away, his gun on his shoulder.
On going to the house Robert had the report confirmed. Some one from
Jamestown had brought news of the wedding, and his little sister, with
her great dark eyes filled with tears, took him aside and said:
"Brother, mother is married; what does it mean?"
She clung to him, placed her curly head on his bosom and wept. Robert
restrained his own tears and sought to soothe his sister.
"Will that man Hugh Price come to live at our house?" she asked.
"But I can never love him. I don't know what it is to love any but you
and mother. I don't remember my own father; but you do, Robert?"
"Was he like Mr. Price?"
"No. He was a grand, noble man, with a kind heart."
"Will he let us live at home, now that he has come?" she asked.
Robert, though his own heart was heavy, and he felt gloomy and sad,
strove to look on the bright side.
"Yes, he cannot drive us from home," he said.
"But mother will love us no longer."
"She will, sister. No man can rob us of mother's love."
Then they went apart to discuss their sorrow alone, and, as the shades
of evening gathered over the scene, their relatives began a search for
them. The children were found in the chimney corner clasped in each
other's arms sobbing.
Although kind friends and loving relatives did all in their power to
console them, they refused to be comforted. Robert remembered that noble
father who had so often held him on his knee, that poor father whose
mysterious fate was unknown, and he thought how wicked it was for his
mother to marry the fox-hunting, gin-tippling cavalier, Hugh Price. He
sobbed himself to sleep and dreamed that his father was watching him
from out the great, green ocean where he had lain all these years. Price
was seeking to repay him the blows he had laid on his shoulders, when
the face of the dead man was seen struggling in the green waters, but so
choked and entangled among seaweeds that he was forced to give up the
effort. A great monster of the deep swallowed his father, and, uttering
a shriek, he awoke. The child was trembling from head to foot, while a
cold sweat broke out all over his body.
Next morning the negro slave who had brought the children to Flower de
Hundred came for them. Taking Robert aside, he said:
"I dun tole yer, Mass Robert, dat a calamity war comin'. It am come--De
Missus am married to dat fellah wat ye walloped wid de stick. Hi! but I
wish ye kill um."
The long journey to Jamestown was made. They left at sunrise one morning
and rode until noon, when they halted in the wilderness to allow the
horses an hour to rest and graze, while they lay on a blanket spread on
the grass under a tree. Robert and his sister fell asleep, and the negro
was nodding, when a snake came gliding through the grass toward the
sleeping children. Sam awoke in a moment and, seizing a stout stick,
struck the snake and killed it before it could reach the children. They
were awakened by the blow and, trembling at their narrow escape, once
more set out for Jamestown.
Though they put their horses to their best all the afternoon, the sun
was sinking behind the western hills and forests as they came in sight
of the settlement. Twilight's sombre mantle was falling over the earth
when they arrived at the door of their home and were assisted by the
servants to alight.
Robert and his sister were so sore and tired they scarcely could stand.
A candelabra had been lighted in the house, and the soft rays came
through the open casement; but the house was strangely silent. No mother
came to welcome them home with a kiss, and a chill of death fell upon
those young hearts. Robert dared not ask where she was and why she was
not at the stiles; but Rebecca was younger, more inexperienced and
"Where is mother, Dinah?" she asked her mother's housekeeper.
"In de house, chile, waitin' for you," she answered.
Poor, tired, heart-broken little Rebecca forgot all save that she was
her mother, and she ran upon the piazza and burst into the room where
Mr. Hugh Price and her mother were.
"Come here, my darling," said Mrs. Price, kissing her daughter. "This
man is your father now, and he will be very good to you."
It was like a dash of cold water on the warm little heart, and, starting
back, she glanced at him from the corners of her pretty black eyes
"I cannot call him father."
"You will learn to, my dear," Price answered with a smile.
"Come, Robert, come and greet your new father," said the mother.
Robert remained stubbornly at the door and, with a dangerous fire
flashing in his eyes, answered:
"Call him not my father; he is no father of mine!"
"You will learn to like me, children," answered Mr. Price, with an
effort to be pleasant; but it needed no prophet to see that there was
trouble in the near future.
THE MOVING WORLD.
If we could look down the long vista of ages,
And witness the changes of time,
Or draw from Isaiah's mysterious pages
A key to this vision sublime;
We'd gaze on the picture with pride and delight,
And all its magnificence trace,
Give honor to man for his genius and might,
And glory to God for his grace.
After the surrender of New York to the English, in the year 1665 Peter
Stuyvesant went to Holland to report to his superiors. In order to shift
the responsibility from their own shoulders, they declared that the
governor had not done his duty, and they asked the States-General to
disapprove of the scandalous surrender of New Netherland. Stuyvesant
made a similar counter-charge and begged the States-General to speedily
decide his case, that he might return to America for his family. The
authorities required him to answer the charges of the West India
Company. He sent to New York for sworn testimony, and at the end of six
months he made an able report, its allegations sustained by
unimpeachable witnesses. The company made a petulant rejoinder, when
circumstances put an end to the dispute. War between Holland and England
then raging was ended by the peace concluded at Breda in 1667, when the
former relinquished to the latter its claims to New Netherland. This
brought to an end the controversy between Stuyvesant and the West
Stuyvesant went to England and obtained from King Charles permission for
three Dutch vessels to have free commerce with New York for the space of
seven years. Then he sailed for America, with the determination of
spending the remainder of his life in New York. He was cordially
welcomed by his old friends and kindly received by his political
enemies, who had learned by experience that he was not a worse governor
than the Duke had sent them. Stuyvesant retired to his _bowerie_ or farm
on East River, from which the famous Bowery of New York City derived its
name, and in tranquillity passed the remainder of his life.
The people of New York soon discovered that a change of masters did not
increase their prosperity or happiness. Brodhead says: "Fresh names and
laws they found did not secure fresh liberties. Amsterdam was changed to
New York and Orange to Albany; but these changes only commemorated the
titles of a conqueror. It was nearly twenty years before the conqueror
allowed for a brief period to the people of New York even that partial
degree of representative government which they had enjoyed when the
tri-colored ensign of Holland was hauled down from the flagstaff of Fort
Amsterdam. New Netherland exchanged Stuyvesant and the West India
Company and a republican sovereignty for Nicolls, a royal proprietor and
a hereditary king. The province was not represented in Parliament, nor
could the voice of its people reach the chapel of St. Stephen at
Westminster as readily as it had reached the chambers of the Binnenhof
at the Hague."
Nicolls was succeeded by Francis Lovelace in 1667. Lovelace was a quiet
man, unfitted to encounter great storms, yet he showed considerable
energy in dealing with hostile Indians and French on the northern
frontier of New York. He held friendly intercourse with the people of
New England, and in the summer of 1672, when a hostile squadron of Dutch
vessels of war appeared before his capital, he was on a friendly visit
to Governor Winthrop of Connecticut. War had again broken out between
England and Holland, and the Dutch inhabitants of New York had shown
signs of discontent at the abridgment of their political privileges and
a heavy increase in their taxes without their consent. Personally, they
liked Lovelace; but they were bound to consider him as the
representative of a petty tyrant. When, in menacing attitude, they
demanded more liberty and less taxation, the governor in a passion
unwisely declared that they should "have liberty for no thought but how
to pay their taxes." This was resented, and when the Dutch squadron
came, nearly all the Hollanders regarded their countrymen in the ships
as liberators. When Colonel Manning, who commanded the fort, called for
volunteers, few came, and these not as friends but as enemies, for they
spiked the cannon in front of the statehouse.
The fleet came up broadside to the fort, and Manning, sending a
messenger for Lovelace, opened fire on the enemy. One cannon ball passed
through the Dutch flagship from side to side; but the balls from the
fleet began pounding against the walls of the fort. Six hundred Holland
soldiers landed on the banks of the Hudson above the town and were
quickly joined by four hundred Dutch citizens in arms urging them to
storm the fort.
With shouts and yells of triumph the body of one thousand men were
marching down Broadway for that purpose. They were met by a messenger
from Manning proposing to surrender the fort, if the troops might be
allowed to march out with the honors of war. The proposition was
accepted. Manning's troops marched out with colors flying and drums
beating and laid down their arms. The Dutch soldiers marched in followed
by the English troops, who were made prisoners of war and confined in
the church. It was the 9th of August, 1672, and the air was quivering
with heat, when the flag of the Dutch Republic once more waved over Fort
Amsterdam, and the name of the city of New York was changed to New
Orange, in compliment to William Prince of Orange.
The Dutch had taken New York.
The New Netherland and all the settlements on the Delaware speedily
followed the capture of New York. The other English colonies near the
province were amazed and prepared to defend their own domains against
the encroachments of the Dutch, and Connecticut foolishly talked of an
offensive war. Anthony Clove, the governor of reconquered New
Amsterdam, was wide-awake. He kept his eye on the movements of the
savages and Frenchmen on the north, watched every hostile indication in
the east, and sent proclamations and commissions to towns on Long Island
and in Westchester to compel hesitating boroughs to take the oath of
allegiance to Prince William of Orange. His forts about New Orange were
strengthened and mounted with one hundred and ninety cannon. A treaty
of peace between the Dutch and English, however, made at London in
1674, restored New Netherland to the British crown. Some doubts arising
as to the title of the Duke of York after the change, the king gave him
a new grant of territory in June, 1674, within the boundary of which was
included all the domain west of the Connecticut River, to the eastern
shores of the Delaware, also Long Island and a territory in Maine. King
Charles had commissioned Major Edmond Andros to receive the surrender of
this province of New Netherland (New York) to which he was appointed
governor. The final surrender was made in October, 1674, by the Dutch
governor, who delivered up the keys of the fort to Major Andros, and the
English never lost possession of the colony and city, until the united
colonies gained their independence.
The political changes in New York had its effect on the settlements to
the west and south. Eastward of the Delaware Bay and River (so called in
honor of Lord De la Warr) lies New Jersey. Its domain was included in
the New Netherland charter. So early as 1622, transient trading
settlements were made on its soil, at Bergen and on the banks of the
Delaware. The following year, Director May, moved by the attempt of a
French sea-captain to set up the arms of France in Delaware, built the
fort called Fort Nassau at the mouth of Timmer Kill or Timber Creek, a
few miles below Camden, and settled some young Walloons near it. The
Walloons (young couples), who had been married on shipboard, settled on
the site of Gloucester. This was the first settlement of white people in
New Jersey that lived long; but it, too, withered away in time. It was
seven years later when Michael Pauw made his purchase from the Indians
of the territory extending from Hoboken to the Raritan River and,
latinizing his name, called it Pavonia.
In this purchase was included the settlement of some Dutch at Bergen.
Though other settlements were attempted, it was forty years before any
of them became permanent. Cape May, a territory sixteen miles square,
which Captain Heyes bought of the Indians, all the time remained an
uncultivated wilderness, yielding the products of its salt meadows to
the browsing deer.
After the trouble with Dutch and Swedes the English came under the agent
of the Duke of York and captured the New Netherland. While Nicolls was
on his way to capture the Dutch possessions in America, the Duke of York
conveyed to two favorites all the territory between the Hudson and
Delaware rivers from Cape May north to the latitude of forty degrees and
forty minutes. Those favorites were Lord Berkeley, brother of the
governor of Virginia and the duke's own governor in his youth, and Sir
George Carteret, then the treasurer of the admiralty, who had been
governor of the island of Jersey, which he had gallantly defended
against the forces of Cromwell. In the charter this province was named
"Nova Caesarea or New Jersey," in commemoration of Carteret's loyalty
and gallant deeds while governor of the island of Jersey. Colonel
Richard Nicolls, the conqueror of New Netherland, in changing the name
of the province to New York, ignorant of the charter given to Berkeley
and Carteret, called the territory west of the Hudson Albania, in honor
of his employer, who had the title of Duke of York and Albany.
Berkeley and Carteret hastened to make use of their patent. The title of
their constitution was: "The concessions and agreement of the Lords
Proprietors of the Province of Nova Caesarea or New Jersey, to and with
all and every new adventurers and all such as shall settle and plant
there." It was a fair and liberal constitution, providing for governor
and council appointed by the proprietors, and deputies or
representatives chosen by the people, who should meet annually and, with
the governor and his council, form a general assembly for the government
of the colony. It provided for a choice of a president by the
representatives when in session, in case of the absence of the governor
and deputy governor. All legislative power was vested in the assembly of
deputies, who were to make all laws for the province. These were to be
consistent with the laws and customs of Great Britain and not repugnant
to the interests of the proprietors. Emigration to New Jersey was
encouraged. To every free man who would go to the province with the
first governor, furnished with a good musket and plenty of ammunition
and with provisions for six months, was offered a free gift of one
hundred and fifty acres of land, and for every able man-servant that
such emigrant should take with him so armed and provisioned, a like
quantity of land. Even the sending of such servants provided with arms,
ammunitions and food was likewise rewarded. And for every weaker servant
or female servant over fourteen years, seventy-five acres of land was
given. "Christian servants" were entitled, at the expiration of the term
of service, to the land so granted for their own use and benefit. To all
who should settle in the province before the beginning of 1665, other
than those who should go with the governor, was offered one hundred and
twenty acres of land on like conditions.
It was expected that these tempting offers would rapidly people the
country with industrious settlers. Philip Carteret, a cousin of Sir
George, was appointed governor, and with about thirty emigrants,
several of whom were Frenchmen skilled in the art of salt-making, he
sailed for New York, where he arrived about the middle of July, 1665.
The vessel having been driven into the Chesapeake Bay the month before,
anchored at the mouth of the James River, from whence the governor sent
dispatches to New York. Among them was a copy of the duke's grant of New
Jersey. Governor Nicolls was astounded at the folly of the duke's grant,
and mortified by this dismemberment of a state over which he had been
ruling for many months with pride and satisfaction. But he bottled his
wrath until the arrival of Carteret, whom he received at Fort James with
all the honors due to his rank and station. That meeting in the
governor's apartments was a notable one. Mr. Lossing graphically
described it as follows:
"Nicolls was tall, athletic and about forty-five years of age, a
soldier, haughty and sometimes very irritable and brusque in speech when
excited. Carteret was shorter and fat, good-natured and affable, with
polished manners which he had learned by being much at court. He entered
the governor's room with Bollen, the commissary of the fort, when the
former arose, beckoned his secretary to withdraw, and received his
distinguished visitor cordially. But when Carteret presented the
outspread parchment, bearing the original of the duke's grant with his
grace's seal and signature, Nicolls could not restrain his feelings. His
temper flamed out in words of fierce anger. He stormed, and uttered
denunciations in language as respectful as possible. He paced the floor
backward and forward rapidly, his hands clasped behind his back, and
finally calmed down and begged his visitor's pardon for his
uncontrollable outburst of passion.
"Nicolls yielded gracefully yet sorrowfully to circumstances, and
contented himself with addressing a manly remonstrance to the duke, in
which he urged an arrangement for the grantees to give up their domain
in exchange for 'a few hundred thousand acres all along the seacoast.'"
The remonstrance came too late. New Jersey was already down on the maps
as a separate province. Governor Carteret at the head of a few followers
crossed over to his domain with a hoe on his shoulder in significance of
his desire to become a planter. For his seat of government he chose a
beautifully shaded spot, not far from the strait between Staten Island
and the main, called the Kills, where he found four English families
living in as many neatly built log cabins with gardens around them. The
heads of these four families were John Bailey, Daniel Denton, and Luke
Watson and one other not known, from Jamaica, Long Island, who had
bought the land of some Indians on Long Island.
In compliment to the wife of Sir George Carteret, the governor named
the place Elizabethtown, which name it yet retains. There he built a
house for himself near the bank of the little creek, and there he
organized a civil government. So was laid the foundation of the colony
and commonwealth of New Jersey.
The restoration did not so materially change the New England colonies as
might have been supposed, considering that they were hotbeds of
Puritanism. In the younger Winthrop the qualities of human excellence
were mingled in such happy proportions that, while he always wore an air
of contentment, no enterprise in which he engaged seemed too lofty for
his powers. He was a man whose power was felt alike in the commonwealth
and the restoration. The new king had not been two years on the throne
when, through his influence, an ample patent was obtained for
Connecticut, by which the colony was independent except in name.
After his successful negotiations and efficient concert in founding the
Royal Society, Winthrop returned to America. The amalgamation of New
Haven and Connecticut could not be effected without collision. New Haven
had been unwilling to merge itself in the larger colonies; but
Winthrop's wise moderation was able to reconcile the jarrings and blend
the interests of the united colonies. The universal approbation of
Connecticut was reasonable, for the charter which Winthrop obtained
secured to her an existence of unsurpassed tranquillity.
Civil freedom was safe under the shelter of masculine morality, and
beggary and crime could not thrive in the midst of severest manners.
From the first, the minds of the yeomanry were kept active by the
constant exercise of the elective franchise, and, except under James
II., there was no such thing in the land as a home officer appointed by
the English king. Under the happy conditions of affairs, education was
cherished, religious knowledge was carried to the highest degree of
refinement, alike in its application to moral duties and to the
mysterious questions on the nature of God, of liberty and of the soul. A
hardy race multiplied along the _alluvion_ of the streams and subdued
the more rocky and less inviting fields. Its population for a century
doubled once in twenty years, though there was considerable emigration
from the valley. Religion united with the pursuits of agriculture gave
to the people the aspects of steady habits. The domestic wars were
discussions of knotty points in theology. The concerns of the parish and
the merits of the minister were the weightiest affairs, and a church
reproof the heaviest calamity. The strifes of the parent country, though
they sometimes occasioned a levy among the sons of the husbandmen,
never brought an enemy over their border. No fears of midnight ruffians
disturbed the sweetest slumber, and the best house required no fastening
but a latch, lifted by a string.
Happiness was enjoyed unconsciously. Beneath a rugged exterior, humanity
wore its sweetest smile. For a long time there was hardly a lawyer in
the land. The husbandman who held his own plough and fed his own cattle
was the greatest man of the age. No one was superior to the matron, who,
with her busy daughters, kept the hum of the wheel incessantly alive,
spinning and weaving every article of their dress. Fashion was confined
within narrow limits, and pride, which aimed at no grander equipage than
a pillion, could exult only in the common splendor of the blue and white
linen gown, with short sleeves, coming down to the waist, and in the
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