The Real America in Romance, Volume 6; A Century Too Soon (A Story
John R. Musick
Part 4 out of 6
At last he became reconciled even to live and die alone on that
island--to die without a friend to close his eyes, or to soothe his
pillow. Horrible as the fate might seem, he was reconciled. No human
hand would give him Christian burial, and the vultures which soared
about the island might pluck out his eyes even before life was extinct.
With this dread on his mind, he shot the vultures whenever he saw them,
and almost drove them from the island.
Three years had lapsed since poor Blanche had been laid in her grave,
and John was morose, silent and moody, but reconciled. It was eighteen
years since he had been cast away, and he had about abandoned all
thought of again seeing any other land save this.
Among other things saved from the wreck was a quantity of tobacco seed,
and, as tobacco was then thought to be an indispensable article, he
planted some and grew his own. He fashioned pipes from the roots of
trees, as the Indians did, and his pipe became his greatest solace
One night, a little more than three years after he had been left alone,
he was lying on his well-worn mattress, smoking his evening pipe, when
there came on the air far out to sea a heavy "Boom!"
The trumpet of doom would not have astonished him more. At first he
could scarcely believe his ears. Starting up, he sat on the side of his
A second report, more heavy than the first, shook the air.
"God in heaven! can it be cannon?" cried Stevens. He leaped to his feet,
pulled on his rude shoes and seized his musket.
"Boom! Boom! Boom!"
Three more shots from the sea rang on the air, and there could now be no
doubt that a ship was near the island. The hope which suddenly started
up in his heart almost overcame him, and he clung to the door
Only for an instant did he linger thus, then he rushed to the headland
from whence his tattered flag had floated all these years. The moon was
shining brightly from a cloudless sky, and his vision swept the ocean
far beyond the dangerous reefs which formed a natural guard about the
island. There he saw a sight calculated to startle him. A large Spanish
galleon was coming directly toward the island, pursued by a vessel which
from the first he surmised to be a pirate. Even as he looked, he saw the
flash of a gun and imagined he could hear the crash of the iron ball
striking into the side of the fugitive ship. He heard the cry of dread
from the poor wretches on board, as the pirate drew nearer. On the
still evening air came wild shouts of the buccaneers as they fired shot
after shot at the prize.
John Stevens was greatly excited. Here was an opportunity to escape or
be slain, either preferable to living on this terrible island alone.
The Spanish galleon was being driven directly through the only gap in
the reefs to the island. Like a bird chased by a vulture she sought any
shelter. She returned the fire as well as she could; but was no match
for the well-equipped and daring pirate.
John's whole sympathies were with the unfortunate Spaniards. Their
vessel evidently drew considerable water, for entering the gap in the
reef, the tide being low, it stranded. The pirate, being much lighter
draft, came nearer and poured in her volleys thick and fast. They were
so near to the headland that John Stevens, a spellbound spectator, heard
the iron balls and shot tearing into her timbers. With his glass he
could even see her deck strewn with dead and dying.
The foremast of the galleon was cut through and fell, and the ship's
rudder was shot away. The Spaniards, evidently bewildered, lowered
boats, abandoned the galleon and pulled toward a rocky promontory two
miles to the south.
Their enemies saw them and, manning boats, headed them off, killing or
capturing every one. The captured men were taken aboard the
While these startling scenes were being enacted, a great change had come
over the sky. The tide began to rise and floated the galleon clear of
the sand, and it drifted into the little bay not a mile from John's
house. The sky was obscured with clouds and one of those tropical
hurricanes called squalls swept over the island and sea. It struck the
pirate broadside, and John Stevens last saw the vessel amid a mountain
of waves and spray struggling to right itself. It probably went down, as
he never saw or heard of it more.
For hours the amazed castaway stood in the pelting rain and howling
wind, with the roaring sea below him. Was it all a dream, or was this
only another freak of capricious fate, which doomed him to eternal
misery. The storm roared and the hungry sea swallowed up the pirate.
Why could not one have been spared? Even a pirate would have made a
companion; but fate had roused his hopes only to dash them to the
It was pitch dark save when a flash of lightning illuminated the
heavens. John Stevens turned slowly about to retrace his steps homeward,
half believing it was some terrible dream which had brought him from his
bed into the pelting storm, when by the aid of a flash of lightning he
saw the Spanish galleon, which had been again stranded within a hundred
yards of the beach. The single flash of lightning revealed only her deck
and rigging; not a soul was to be seen on board the ship; but the sight
of the vessel roused the castaway. In eighteen years this had been the
only sign of civilization which had greeted his vision, and he was
nearly frantic with delight.
Some one might be on board. Some skulkers from the cannon-balls of the
pirates might have sought safety in the hold of the galleon, and he
would find them. His heart was full to overflowing. He even began to
hope that the ship could be gotten off the bar, and could make a voyage
to some land of civilization. Though the ship was between the dangerous
reefs and the sea, partially protected by a small land-locked bay, yet
the surf was so high that it was madness to think of reaching the vessel
that night. He built a fire on shore and all night long heaped on wood
in the hope of attracting attention of those on board.
Morning dawned, and he saw the galleon with her head high in the air and
her stern low in the sand and water. The tide had gone out, and not more
than one hundred yards of water lay between him and the ship. John
stripped off his clothes and swam to the wreck.
After no little difficulty he climbed up the mizzen chains.
A silence of death reigned over the ship, and when he had gained the
deck a terrible sight met his view. Five men and one boy, the victims of
the pirate's guns, lay dead on the deck, which was badly splintered with
balls and shot.
The ship was wonderfully well preserved, the chief damage it received
being from the cannon of the enemy.
John called again and again but no voice responded. The grim silence of
death was about the ship. He found a boat in fair condition, lowered it
and, putting the dead Spaniards into it, pulled ashore, where he gave
the dead a decent burial on the sands, too high up for the tide to
Having accomplished this sad rite, he cried from the fulness of his
"Oh, that there had been but one, only one saved, with whom I might
John Stevens, however, was a practical sort of a fellow, and, instead of
repining over his sad fate, he determined to bring away everything
valuable on board. Consequently he launched the boat, pulled to the
wreck and went aboard. Had he been able to get the ship afloat, a
carpenter might have repaired it so that a voyage could have been made;
but the strength and skill of a hundred men could not have moved it from
the sands in which it was so deeply imbedded. The vessel had been
steered through the reefs and almost into the bay when deserted. John
loaded his boat with muskets, several chests and casks, which contained
food and wine. There was also a powder-horn, some kegs of powder, a fire
shovel, tongs, two brass kettles, a copper pot for chocolate, and a
gridiron. These and some loose clothes belonging to the sailors formed
the first cargo taken ashore.
Next he brought off several barrels of flour, a cask of liquor and some
tools, axes, spades, shovels and saws. Every implement that might be
useful to him was taken ashore and stowed away. Then he began to search
the lower part.
He had been for a week working on the wreck carrying off every
conceivable object which might be of any possible use. He found the
ship's books; but, owing to his ignorance of Spanish, he was unable to
The name on the stern of the vessel was St. Jago, therefore he reasoned
that it must be a West Indian vessel. How the idea entered his mind,
Stevens never knew. It came suddenly, as an inspiration, that the
galleon must be a Spanish treasure ship. One day, while in the captain's
cabin, he found a narrow door opening from it. It was securely locked,
and though he searched everywhere for keys and found many, none would
fit the lock. At last he seized an iron crowbar, with which he forced
the door off its hinges. Before him was a curious sort of compartment
like a vault, the inside of which was lined with sheet iron. There lay
before him several large, long boxes made of strong wood. He wondered
what they contained. He cleared away every obstacle to the nearest box,
and saw a lock and padlock and a handle at each end, all carved as
things were carved in that age, when art rendered the commonest metals
precious. John seized the handles and strove to lift the box; but it was
"What can it contain, that is so heavy?" he thought. He sought to open
it; but lock and padlock were closed, and these faithful guardians
seemed unwilling to surrender their trust. Stevens inserted the sharp
end of the crowbar between the box and the lid and, bearing down with
all his strength, burst open the fastenings. Hinges and lock yielded in
their turn, holding in their grasp fragments of the boards, and with a
crash he threw off the lid, and all was open.
John Stevens found a tanned fawn-skin spread as a covering over the
contents and he tore it off. He started up with a yell and closed his
eyes involuntarily. Then he opened them and stood motionless with
Three compartments divided the coffer. In the first blazed piles of
golden coin. In the second bars of unpolished gold were ranged. In the
third lay countless fortunes of diamonds, pearls and rubies, into which
he dived his hands as eagerly as a starving man would plunge into food.
After having touched, felt and examined these treasures, John Stevens
rushed through the ship like a madman. He leaped upon the deck, from
whence he could behold the sea. He was alone. Alone with this
countless--this unheard-of wealth. Was he awake, or was it but a dream?
Before him lay the treasures torn from Mexico, Darien and Peru. They
were his--he was alone.
Alas, he was alone! What use would those millions be to him on this
island? The reaction came, and, falling on his knees, he cried:
"O God, why is such a fate mine?"
Hours afterward he recovered enough to remove the gold and jewels from
the treasure ship to his home on the island. With more jewels than a
king, he lived the lonely life of a hermit and a pauper, dreading to
die, lest the vultures pluck out his eyes.
THE ANGEL OF DELIVERANCE.
Strange that when nature loved to trace
As if for God a dwelling place,
And every charm of grace hath mixed
Within the paradise she fixed,
There man, enamoured of distress,
Should mar it into wilderness.
On the restoration of monarchy in England, in 1660, the Connecticut
colonists entertained serious fears regarding the future. Their sturdy
republicanism and independent action in the past might be mortally
offensive to the new monarch. The general assembly of Connecticut,
therefore, resolved to make a formal acknowledgment of their alliance to
the crown and ask the king for a charter. A petition was accordingly
framed and signed in May, 1661, and Governor John Winthrop bore it to
England. He was a son of Winthrop of Massachusetts, and was a man of
rare attainments and courtly manners. He was then about forty-five
years of age.
Winthrop was but coolly received at first, for he and his people were
regarded as enemies of the crown. But he persevered, and the
good-natured monarch at last chatted freely with him about America, its
soil, productions, the Indians and the settlers, yet he hesitated to
promise a charter. Winthrop, it is said, finally drew from his pocket a
gold ring of great value, which the king's father had given to the
governor's grandfather, and presented it to his majesty with a request
that he would accept it as a memorial of the unfortunate monarch and a
token of Winthrop's esteem for and loyalty to King Charles, before whom
he stood as a faithful and loving subject. The king's heart was touched.
Turning to Lord Clarendon, who was present, the monarch asked:
"Do you advise me to grant a charter to this good gentleman and his
"I do, sire," Clarendon answered.
"It shall be done," said Charles, and he dismissed Winthrop with a royal
The charter was issued on the first of May, 1662. It confirmed the
popular constitution of the colony, and contained more liberal
provisions than any yet issued by royal hands. It defined the boundaries
so as to include New Haven colony and a part of Rhode Island on the
east, and westward to the Pacific Ocean. In 1665, the New Haven colony
reluctantly gave its consent to the union; but the boundary between
Connecticut and Rhode Island remained a subject of dispute for more than
sixty years. That old charter, written on parchment, is still among the
archives in the Connecticut State Department.
While King Philip's war raged all about them, the colonists of
Connecticut did not suffer much from hostile Indians, save in some
remote settlements high up the river. They furnished their full measure
of men and supplies, and the soldiers bore a conspicuous part in that
contest between the races for supremacy; but while they were freed from
dangers and annoyances of war with the Indians, they were disturbed by
the petty tyranny of Governor Andros, who, as governor of New York,
claimed jurisdiction as far east as the Connecticut River. In 1675, he
went to the mouth of that stream with a small naval force to assert his
Captain Bull, the commander of a small fort at Saybrook, permitted him
to land; but when he began to read his commission, he ordered him to be
silent. The cowardly Andros was forced to yield to the commander's bold
spirit and, in a towering passion, returned to New York, hurling the
most bitter anathemas against Connecticut and Captain Bull.
It was more than a dozen years after this event before anything
happened to disturb the public repose of Connecticut; but as that event
belongs to another period, we will omit it for the present.
Rhode Island was favored with a charter from Parliament, granted in 1644
to Roger Williams. The charter was very liberal, and in religion and
politics the people were absolutely free. The general assembly, in a
code of laws adopted in 1647, declared that "all men might walk as their
conscience permitted them--every one in the name of his God." Almost
every religious belief might have been encountered there; "so if a man
lost his religious opinions, he might have been sure to find them in
some village in Rhode Island." Society was kept in a continual healthful
agitation, and though the disputes were sometimes stormy, they never
were brutal. There was a remarkable propriety of conduct on all
occasions, and the political agitations brought to the surface the best
men in the colony to administer public affairs.
Two years after the overthrow and execution of Charles I., 1651, the
executive council of state in England granted to William Coddington a
commission for governing the islands within the limits of the Rhode
Island charter. This threatened a dismemberment of the little empire and
its absorption by neighboring colonies. The people were greatly alarmed.
Roger Williams and John Clarke hastened to England, and with the
assistance of Sir Henry Vane, the "sheet anchor of Rhode Island, the
noble and true friend to an outcast and despised people," the commission
was recalled, and the charter given by parliament was confirmed in
On the restoration of monarchy, 1660, the inhabitants sent to Charles
II. an address, in which they declared their loyalty and begged his
protection. This was followed by a petition for a new charter. The
prayer was granted, and in July, 1663, the king issued a patent highly
democratic in its general features and similar in every respect to the
one granted to Connecticut. Benedict Arnold was chosen the first
governor under the royal charter, and it continued to be the supreme law
of the land for one hundred and eighty years.
Slowly advancing with the other colonies, if she did not even keep
abreast of them, was the colony of New Jersey, from the time it first
became a permanent political organization as a British colony, with a
governor and council. Elizabethtown, which consisted only of a cluster
of half a dozen houses, was made the capital. Agents went to New England
to invite settlers, and a company from New Haven were soon settled on
the banks of the Passaic. Others followed, and when, in 1668, the first
legislative assembly met at Elizabethtown, it was largely made up of
emigrants from New England. Thus we see how early in the history of our
country, the restless tide moved westward. The fertility of the soil of
New Jersey, the salubrity of the climate, the exemption from fear of
hostile Indians, and other manifest advantages caused a rapid increase
in the population and prosperity of the province, and nothing disturbed
the general serenity of society there until in 1670, when specified
quitrents of a half-penny per acre were demanded. The people murmured.
Some of them had bought their lands of the Indians before the
proprietary government was established, and they refused to pay the
rent, not on account of its amount, but because it was an unjust tax,
levied without their consent.
For almost two years they disputed over the rents, and kept the entire
province in a state of confusion. The whole people combined in
resistance to the payment of the tax, and in May, 1672, the disaffected
colonists sent deputies to the popular assembly which met at Elizabeth
town. That body compelled Philip Carteret, the lawful governor, to
vacate his chair and leave the province, and chose a weak and
inefficient man in his place. Carteret went to England for more
authority, and while the proprietors were making preparations to recover
the province by force of arms, in August, 1673, New Jersey and all the
rest of the territory in America claimed by the Duke of York suddenly
fell into the hands of the Dutch, who were then at war with England.
When, fifteen months later, New York was restored to the English,
Carteret had a part of his authority restored to him; but sufficient was
reserved to give Andros a pretext for asserting his authority and making
himself a nuisance with the people.
Massachusetts never enjoyed the full favor of the Stuart dynasty. The
almost complete independence which had been enjoyed for nearly twenty
years was too dear to be hastily relinquished. When it became certain
that the hereditary family of kings had been settled on the throne, and
that swarms of enemies to the colony had gathered round the new
government, a general court was convened, and an address was prepared
for the parliament and the monarch. This address prayed for "the
continuance of civil and religious liberties," and requested an
opportunity of defence against complaints.
"Let not the king's men hear your words. Your servants are true men,
fearing God and the king. We could not live without the public worship
of God. That we might therefore enjoy divine worship without human
mixtures, we, not without tears, departed from our country, kindred,
and fathers' houses. Our garments are become old by reason of the very
long journey. Ourselves, who came away in our strength, are, many of us,
become gray-headed, and some of us are stooping for age."
So great was their dread of the new king after the restoration, that, as
we have seen, Whalley and Goffe were denied shelter at all the public
houses in Boston. Their charter was threatened and commissioners sent to
demand it; but, by one device and another, the shrewd rulers of
Massachusetts managed to avert the calamity. The government at home was
kept busy at this time. There was a threatened war with the Dutch, and
then the whole government of England had to be thoroughly renovated.
Charles II. was not much of a business monarch. His thoughts were mainly
of pleasure, and, despite his merciless pursuit of the men who put his
father to death, he was good-natured.
Though the colonists of Massachusetts had levied two hundred men for the
expected war with the Dutch, they wished to maintain their spirit of
independence, and the two hundred were only a free offering. They
regarded the commission sent by the king as a flagrant violation of
chartered rights. In the matter of obedience due to a government, the
people of Massachusetts made the nice distinction between natural
obedience and voluntary subjection. They argued that the child born on
the soil of England is necessarily an English subject; but they held to
the original right of expatriation, that every man may withdraw from the
land of his birth, and renounce all duty of allegiance with all claim to
protection. This they themselves had done. Remaining in England, they
acknowledged the obligatory force of established laws. Because those
laws were intolerable, they had emigrated to a new world, where they
could organize their government, as many of them originally did, on the
basis of natural rights and of perfect independence.
As the establishment of a commission with discretionary powers was not
specially sanctioned by their charter, they resolved to resist the
orders of the king and nullify his commission. While the fleet sent from
England was engaged in reducing New York, Massachusetts, on September
10th, 1664, published an order prohibiting complaints to the
commissioners, and at the same time issued a remonstrance, not against
deeds of tyranny, but the menace of tyranny, not against actual wrong,
but against the principle of wrong. On the twenty-fifth of October it
thus addressed a letter to King Charles II.:
"DREAD SOVEREIGN:--The first undertakers of this plantation did obtain a
patent, wherein is granted full and absolute power of governing all the
people of this place, by men chosen from among themselves, and
according to such laws as they should see meet to establish. A royal
donation, under the great seal, is the greatest security that may be had
in human affairs. Under the encouragement and security of the royal
charter, this people did, at their own charges, transport themselves,
their wives and families, over the ocean, purchase the land of the
natives, and plant this colony, with great labor, hazards, cost, and
difficulties; for a long time wrestling with the wants of a wilderness
and the burdens of a new plantation; having also now above thirty years
enjoyed the privilege of GOVERNMENT WITH THEMSELVES, as their undoubted
right in the sight of God and man. To be governed by rulers of our own
choosing and laws of our own, is the fundamental privilege of
"A commission under the great seal, within four persons (one of them our
professed enemy) are impowered to receive and determine all complaints
and appeals according to their discretion, subjects us to the arbitrary
power of strangers, and will end in the subversion of our all.
"If these things go on, your subjects here will either be forced to seek
new dwellings or sink under intolerable burdens. The vigor of all new
endeavors will be enfeebled; the king himself will be a loser of the
wonted benefit by customs, exported and imported from hence into
England, and this hopeful plantation will in the issue be ruined.
"If the aim should be to gratify some particular gentlemen by livings
and revenues here, that will also fail, for the poverty of the people.
If all the charges of the whole government by the year were put
together, and then doubled or trebled, it would not be counted for one
of those gentlemen a considerable accommodation. To a coalition in this
course the people will never come; and it will be hard to find another
people that will stand under any considerable burden in this country,
seeing it is not a country where men can subsist without hard labor and
"God knows, our great ambition is to live a quiet life, in a corner of
the world. We came not into this wilderness to seek great things to
ourselves; and, if any come after us to seek them here, they will be
disappointed. We keep ourselves within our line; a just dependence upon,
and subjection to, your majesty, according to our charter, it is far
from our hearts to disacknowledge. We would gladly do anything within
our power to purchase the continuance of your favorable aspect; but it
is a great unhappiness to have no testimony of our loyalty offered but
this, to yield up our liberties, which are far dearer to us than our
lives, and which we have willing ventured our lives, and passed through
many deaths to obtain.
"It was Job's excellency, when he sat as king among his people, that he
was a father to the poor. A poor people, destitute of outward favor,
wealth, and power, now cry unto their lord the king. May your magesty
regard their cause, and maintain their right; it will stand among the
marks of lasting honor to after generations."
The royalists in the days prior to the American Revolution, occupied a
similar position that the monopolists, and wealthy do in politics
to-day. They were the aristocrats, and for the common people to clamor
for political freedom was absurd. The idea of republicanism was as
loathsome to them and watched with as much jealousy as an important
labor movement is to-day. The royalists called the men who clamored for
civil and religious liberty fanatics, just as the monopolists of to-day,
who control the dominant parties, call men who cry out against their
oppression fanatics. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish the
instinct of fanaticism from the soundest judgment, for fanaticism is
sometimes the keenest sagacity. Those men wanted liberty and struggled
and fought for it until it was obtained, just as the toiling millions of
the world will some day sting the heel of grinding monopolies.
From 1660 to 1671, all New England was kept in a perpetual state of
alarm and excitement. Plymouth made a firm stand for independence,
although the weakest of the colonies. The commissioners threatened to
assume control. It was the dawning strife of the new system against the
old, of American politics against European politics, and yet those men
struggling for liberty were called fanatics.
Secure in the support of a resolute minority, the Puritan commonwealth,
in 1668, entered the province of Maine, and again established its
authority by force of arms. Great tumults ensued; many persons, opposed
to what seemed a usurpation, were punished for "irreverent speeches."
Some even reproached the authorities of Massachusetts "as traitors and
rebels against the king"; but the usurpers made good their ascendancy
till Gorges recovered his claims by adjudication in England. From the
southern limit of Massachusetts to the Quebec, the colonial government
maintained its independent jurisdiction.
The defiance of Massachusetts was not punished as might have been
expected. Clarendon's power was gone, and he was an exile. A board of
trade, projected in 1668, never assumed the administration of colonial
affairs, and had not vitality enough to last more than three or four
years. Profligate libertines gained the confidence of the king's
mistresses, and secured places in the royal cabinet. While Charles II.
was dallying with women and robbing the theatres of actresses; while the
licentious Buckingham, who had succeeded in displacing Clarendon, wasted
the vigor of his mind and body by indulging in every sensual pleasure
"which nature could desire or wit invent"; while Louis XIV. was
increasing his influence by bribing the mistress of the chief of the
king's cabal, England remained without a good government, and the
colonies, despite bluster and threats, flourished in purity and peace.
The English ministry dared not interfere with Massachusetts; it was
right that the stern virtues of the ascetic republicans should
intimidate the members of the profligate cabinet. The affairs of New
England were often discussed; but the privy council was overawed by the
moral dignity, which they could not comprehend.
Amid all the discord and threats, the New England colonies continued to
advance in population, and their villages assumed the dignity of towns.
It is difficult to form exact opinions as to the population of the
several colonies in this early period of their history. The colonial
accounts are incomplete, and those furnished by emissaries from England
are grossly false. The best estimate that can be obtained gives to New
England, in 1675, fifty-five thousand souls. Of these it is supposed
that Plymouth contained not less than seven thousand, Connecticut,
nearly fourteen thousand, Massachusetts proper, more than twenty-two
thousand, and Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, each perhaps four
thousand. The settlements were chiefly by agricultural communities,
planted near the seaside, from New Haven to Pemaquid. The beaver trade,
more than traffic in lumber and fish, had produced the village beyond
the Piscataqua; yet in Maine, as in New Hampshire, there was "a great
trade in deal boards."
A sincere attempt had been made to convert the natives and win them to
the regular industry of civilized life. The ministers of the early
emigration, fired with a zeal as pure as it was fervent, longed to
redeem those "wrecks of humanity," by planting in their hearts the seeds
of conscious virtue, and gathering them into permanent villages. No
pains were spared to teach them to read and write, and in a short time
a larger proportion of the Massachusetts Indians could do so, than the
inhabitants of Russia fifty years ago. Some of them wrote and spoke
English tolerably well. Foremost among these early missionaries, the
morning star of missionary enterprise, was John Elliot, whose
benevolence amounted to the inspiration of genius. He wrote an Indian
grammar, and translated the whole of the Bible into the Massachusetts
dialect. His actions, his thoughts, his desires, all wore the hue of
The frown was on the Indian's brow, however. Clouds were rising in the
horizon. Since the Pequod war, there had been no great Indian uprising;
but there was a general feeling of uneasiness which seemed to portend a
general outbreak. The New Englanders were to feel the effects of it in
all its fury. Neither Whalley nor Goffe had been seen since the day that
Robert Stevens assisted the latter to make his escape.
The Indians, whose cupidity had been aroused by English gold, had
searched the forest far and near for the regicides. Their knowledge of
the forest and cunning in following a trail had two or three times
brought them face to face with Cromwell's stern old battle-trained
warriors. Then they had learned to their cost that they had roused a
pair of lions in their lairs; but the regicides finally disappeared.
They had last been seen near Hadley, and it was currently reported they
Rumors of an Indian outbreak were rife; still the good people of Hadley
were living in comparative security. It was a quiet sabbath morn, and
the drowsy hum of the bees made music on the air. The great
meeting-house stood with its doors thrown wide open inviting
worshippers. The sun, beaming from the cloudless sky upon the scene,
seemed a benediction of peace. The whispering breeze on this delightful
twelfth of June swept about the eaves of the church without a hint
The worshippers at the proper hour were seen thronging to the
meeting-house, carrying their guns, swords or pistols with them. It
seemed useless to go armed, when there was not a whisper of danger; but
scarcely had the worship begun, when a terrible warwhoop broke the
stillness. Immediately all was confusion. Children shrieked, some women
trembled, and men, pale and stern, began to fire upon the savages, who,
seven hundred strong, rushed on the place.
They fought stubbornly, driving away the enemy; but their great lack of
discipline promised in the end to defeat them.
"We are lost! We are lost!" some of the weak-hearted were beginning to
cry, when suddenly there appeared among them, from they knew not where,
a tall, venerable personage, with white flowing beard, clad in a white
robe, and carrying a glittering sword in his hand.
"You are not lost, if you follow me!" he cried.
"Who is he?" was the general query, which no one could answer save: "He
is an angel sent by God to deliver us."
It soon became quite apparent that this celestial being was well posted
in military tactics. He formed the young men in line of battle and
taught them in a few moments to deploy and rally.
When the Indians again rushed to the conflict, they were met with a
volley that stunned them and strewed the ground with dead. The angel
leader of the whites then gave the command to charge, and, with their
pistols and keen swords, they flew at the enemy before they had time to
recover, and they were thrown into confusion and fled in dismay. After
the departure of the Indians, nothing was heard or seen of the white
angel deliverer. It has since been ascertained that Goffe and Whalley
were at that time concealed at the house of Mr. Russel in Hadley, and it
is inferred that Goffe left his concealment when the danger threatened,
and, forming the men, led them to victory.
KING PHILIP'S WAR.
Oh, there be some
Whose writhed features, fixed in all their strength
Of grappling agony, do stare at you,
With their dead eyes half opened.
And there be some struck through with bristling darts
Whose clenched hands have torn the pebbles up;
Whose gnashing teeth have ground the very sand.
Massasoit kept his treaty with the English inviolate so long as he
lived. He died in 1661, at the advanced age of eighty or ninety years,
leaving two sons whom the English named respectively Alexander and
Philip. Alexander, the eldest son and hereditary sachem, died soon after
his father, when Philip became chief sachem and warrior of the
Wampanoags, with his royal residence on Mount Hope, not far from
Bristol, Rhode Island. He was called King Philip. He resumed the
covenants with the English made by his father, and observed them
faithfully for a period of twelve years.
But it had become painfully apparent to Massasoit before his death,
that the spreading colonies would soon deprive his people of their land
and nationality, and that the Indians must become vassals of the pale
race. Long did the warlike King Philip ponder on these possibilities
with deep bitterness of feeling, until he had lashed himself into a fury
by the continued nursing of his wrath, and resolved to strike the
exterminating blow against the English.
There were many private wrongs of his people unavenged. The whites
already had assumed a domineering manner, and his final resolution was
both natural and patriotic. King Philip was a man of reason, and it is
said he had no hope of success when he began the war. It was a war
against such odds that it must have but one termination, and he had
little if any faith in a successful issue.
The Pokanokets had always rejected the Christian manners, and Massasoit
had desired to insert in a treaty, what the Puritans never permitted,
that the English should never attempt to convert the warriors of his
tribe from their religion.
Repeated sales of land narrowed their domains, and the English had
artfully crowded them into the tongues of land, as "most suitable and
convenient for them," where they would be more easily watched. The two
chief seats of the Pokanokets were the peninsulas now called Bristol and
Tiverton. As the English villages now grew nearer and nearer to them,
their hunting-grounds were put under culture, their natural parks turned
into pastures, their best fields for planting corn were gradually
alienated, their fisheries impaired by more skilful methods, till they
found themselves deprived of their broad acres, and by their own legal
contracts driven, as it were, into the sea.
Mutual distrusts and collisions were the inevitable consequence. There
is no authentic evidence of a deliberate conspiracy on the part of all
the tribes. Bancroft, who is, perhaps, the best authority on all
colonial matters, says the commencement of the war was accidental, and
that "many of the Indians were in a maze, not knowing what to do, and
ready to stand for the English."
There were many grievances among the Indians. The haughty chieftain, who
had once before been compelled to surrender his "English arms," and pay
an onerous tribute, was summoned to submit to an examination, and could
not escape suspicion.
The wrath of his tribe was roused, and the informer was murdered. In
turn the murderers were identified, seized, tried by a jury of which
one-half were Indians, and on conviction were hanged. The younger men of
the tribe were eager for vengeance, and without delay eight or nine of
the English were slain about Swansey, and the alarm of war spread
through the colonies.
King Philip was thus unwillingly hurried into war, and he wept when he
heard that a white man's blood had been shed. It is a rare thing for an
Indian to weep, least of all a mighty chief like Philip; but in the
cloud of war hovering over his people, he read the doom of his tribe. He
had kept his men about him in arms, and had welcomed every stranger, and
yet, against his judgment and his will, he was involved in war almost
before he knew it. The English had guns enough, while but few of the
Indians were well armed and were without resources when their present
supply was exhausted. The rifle, though not in general use, had been
invented many years before, and for hunters and backwoodsmen was an
effective weapon, though it was regarded as "a slow firing gun" compared
with the smooth-bore. Many of the Indians had firearms and were
excellent marksmen, and had overcome their superstitious dread of the
white man's weapons.
The minds of the English are said to have been appalled by the horrors
of the impending conflict, and superstition indulged in wild inventions.
There was an eclipse of the moon at which they declared they saw the
figure of an Indian scalp imprinted on the centre of the disk. The
perfect form of an Indian bow appeared in the sky. The sighing of the
wind was like the whistling of bullets. Some heard invisible troops of
horses gallop through the air, while others found the prophecy of
calamities in the howling of the wolves.
Despite all his aversion to war, Philip found it forced upon him, and
when he took up the hatchet he threw his soul into the issue, and fought
until death ended the struggle. There were many Christian converts among
the Indians, who were firmly attached to the English. One of these, John
Sassaman, who had been educated at Cambridge, where John Harvard had
established a college, was a royal secretary to Philip. Becoming
acquainted with the plans of the sachem, he revealed them to the
authorities at Plymouth. For this he was murdered, and his
Soon after the attack on Swansey, Philip left his place of residence and
his territory to the English. The following is the reason of his
precipitate retreat. Additional assistance being needed, the authorities
of Boston sent out Major-General Savage from that place, with sixty
horse and as many foot-soldiers, who scoured the country all the way to
Mount Hope, where King Philip, his wife and child were supposed to be at
Philip was at dinner when the news reached him of the near proximity of
his enemies, and he rose with his family, officers and warriors and fled
further up the country. The English pursued them as far as they could go
for the swamps, and overtook the rear of the detachment, killing
sixteen of them.
At the solicitation of Benjamin Church, a company of thirty-six men were
placed under him and Captain Fuller, who on the 8th of July marched down
into Pocasset Neck. This force, small as it was, afterward divided,
Church taking nineteen of the men and Fuller the remaining seventeen.
The party under Church proceeded into a point of land called
Punkateeset, now the southerly extremity of Tiverton, where they were
attacked by a body of three hundred Indians. After a fight of a few
moments, the English fell back to the seashore, and thus saved
themselves from destruction, for Church perceived that it was the
intention of the Indians to surround them. Every one expected death, but
resolved to sell their lives as dearly as possible. Thus hemmed in,
Church had a double duty to perform--that of preserving the spirit of
his followers, several of whom viewed their situation as desperate, and
erecting piles of stone to defend them.
Boats had been appointed to attend the English on this expedition, and
the heroic party looked for relief from this quarter; but, though the
boats appeared, the bullets of the Indians made them preserve a
respectable distance, until Church, in a moment of vexation, cried:
"Be off with you, cowards, and leave us to our fate!" The boats took him
at his word.
The Indians, now encouraged, fought more desperately than before. The
situation of the Englishmen was most forlorn, although as yet not one
had been wounded. Night was coming on, their ammunition was nearly
spent, and the Indians, having taken possession of a stone house on the
hill, fired into the temporary barricade of the English; but at this
moment a sloop hove in sight, and bore down toward the shore. It had two
or three small cannon on board with which it proceeded to knock down the
stone house. The sloop was commanded by a resolute man, Captain Golding,
who effected the embarkation of the company, taking off only two at a
time in a canoe. During the embarkation the Indians who were armed with
muskets and rifles kept up a steady fire from behind trees and stones,
and Church, who was the last to embark, narrowly escaped the balls of
the enemy, one grazing his head, and another lodging in a stake, which
happened to stand just above the centre of his breast.
Captain Church soon after joined a body of English and returned to
Pocasset, and Philip, after a skirmish, retired to the swamps, where for
a time his situation became desperate; but at length he contrived to
elude his besiegers, and fled to the Nipmucks, who received him with a
warmth of welcome quite gratifying to the ambitious chieftain.
The governor of Massachusetts sought to dissuade the Nipmucks from
espousing the cause of Philip; but they could not agree among
themselves, and consented to meet the English commissioners at a place
three miles from Brookfield on a specified day. Captains Hutchinson and
Wheeler were deputized to proceed to the appointed place. With twenty
mounted men and three Christian Indians as guides and interpreters they
reached the appointed place, but no Indians were to be seen. After a
short consultation, they advanced a little further, when they found
themselves in an ambuscade. A volley of rifles and muskets was the first
intimation of the presence of Indians. Eight men and five horses fell
dead, and Captain Hutchinson and two more were mortally wounded. The
Christian Indians led the remnant to Brookfield.
They scarcely had time to alarm the inhabitants, who, to the number of
seventy-eight, flocked into the garrison house, when the Indians
assailed the town. The house was but slightly fortified about the
exterior by a few logs hastily thrown up, while inside the house was
padded with feather-beds to deaden the force of the bullets. The house
was soon surrounded by the enemy, and shots poured in from all
directions. The beleaguered English were no mean marksmen, and they soon
taught the Indians to keep at a respectful distance. The Indians filled
a cart with hemp, flax, and other combustible materials, which they set
on fire, and pushed it backward to the building. The beleaguered people
began to pray for deliverance, when, as if in answer to their prayer, a
heavy shower of rain fell, extinguishing the fire, and before it could
be replenished, Major Willard with a party of dragoons arrived and the
Indians raised the siege.
A considerable number of Christian Indians near Hatfield were suspected
of being friendly to Philip and ordered to give up their arms. They
escaped at night and fled up the river toward Deerfield to join Philip.
The English pursued them and early next morning came up with them at a
swamp, opposite to the present town of Sunderland, where a warm contest
ensued. The Indians fought gallantly, but were finally routed, with a
loss of twenty six of their number, while the whites lost only ten. The
escaped Indians joined Philip's forces, and Lathrop and Beers returned
to their station at Hadley.
About the 10th of September, while Captain Lathrop was bringing away
some provisions and corn from Deerfield, he was attacked at a place
called "Muddy Brook." Knowing the English would pass here with their
teams and horses, the Indians lay in ambush and, pouring in a
destructive fire, rushed furiously to a close engagement. The English
ranks were broken, and the scattered troops were everywhere attacked.
Seeking the cover of trees, the English fought with desperation. The
combat now became a trial of skill in sharp-shooting, on the issue of
which life or death was suspended. The overwhelming superiority of the
Indians, as to numbers, left little room for hope on the part of the
English. Every instant they were shot down behind their retreats, until
nearly their whole number perished. The dead, the dying, the wounded
strewed the ground in every direction. Out of nearly one hundred,
including the teamsters, not more than seven or eight escaped from the
bloody spot. The wounded were indiscriminately massacred. This company
consisted of choice young men, "the very flower of Essex County, none of
whom were ashamed to speak with the enemy in the gate." Eighteen were
citizens of Deerfield.
Captain Moseley arrived at the conclusion of the fight, just as the
Indians began stripping and mutilating the dead. He charged the
Indians, cutting his way through with his company again and again, until
he drove them from the field.
The Indians near Springfield, supposed to be friendly, on the 4th of
October became allies of King Philip, whose cause seemed likely to
prevail. They planned to get possession of the fort, but were betrayed
by an Indian at Windsor, and when the savages came they found the
garrison ready to resist them. The savages burned thirty-two houses and
barns, and the beleaguered people were in great distress.
King Philip next aimed a blow at the three towns Hadley, Hatfield and
Northampton at once. At this time, Captain Appleton with one company lay
at Hadley, Captain Moseley and Poole with two companies were at
Hatfield, while Major Treat had just returned to Northampton for the
security of the settlement. Philip with seven or eight hundred warriors
made a bold assault on Hatfield, on the 19th of October, attacking from
every side at the same moment; but after a severe struggle the Indians
were repulsed at every point.
After leaving the western frontier of Massachusetts, Philip was next
known to be in the countries of his allies, the Narragansetts. The
latter had not heartily engaged in the war; but their inclination to do
so was not doubted, and it was the design of Philip to arouse them to
activity. Conanchet, their sachem, in violation of his treaty with the
English, not only received Philip's warriors, but aided their operations
against the English, and Massachusetts, Connecticut and Plymouth raised
an army of fifteen hundred men and, in the winter of 1675, set out to
attack the Indians.
Philip had strongly fortified himself at South Kingston, Rhode Island,
on an elevated portion of an immense swamp. Here his men erected about
five hundred wigwams, of a superior construction, in which was deposited
an abundant store of provisions. Baskets and tubs of corn (hollow trees
cut off about the length of a barrel) were piled one upon another around
the inside of the dwellings, which rendered them bullet-proof. Here
about three thousand Indians had taken up their winter quarters, and
among them were Philip's best warriors.
Governor Winslow of Plymouth commanded the English. A heavy snow had
fallen and the weather was intensely cold; but on December 19, the
English reached the fort and, by reason of their scarcity of provisions,
resolved to attack at once. The New Englanders were unacquainted with
the situation of the Indians, and, but for an Indian who betrayed his
countrymen, there is little probability that the English would have
effected anything against the fort. The stronghold was reached about
one o'clock in the afternoon, and the English assailed the most
vulnerable part of it, where it was fortified by a kind of a
block-house, directly in front of the entrance, and had also flankers to
cover a cross-fire. The place was protected by high palisades and an
immense hedge of fallen trees surrounding it on all sides. Between the
fort and the main land was a body of water, which could be crossed only
on a large tree lying over it. Such was the formidable aspect of the
place, such the difficulty of gaining access to it.
At first the English tried to cross over on the log; but, being
compelled to go in single file, they were shot down by the Indians,
until six captains and a number of men had been slain. Captain Moseley
and a mere handful of men finally rushed over the log and burst into the
fort, where they were assailed by fearful odds. This bold act so
attracted the attention of the Indians that others rushed in. Captain
Church, that indomitable Indian fighter, burst into the fort, dashed
through it, and reached the swamp in the rear, where he poured a
destructive fire into the enemy in retreat. The Indian cabins were set
on fire, and a scene of horror followed. A Narragansett chief afterward
stated their loss at seven hundred killed in the fort and three hundred
more who died of their wounds in the woods.
After the destruction of the place, Governor Winslow set out with his
killed and wounded through a driving snow-storm for Pettyquamscott. The
march was one of misery and distress, and a number of the wounded died
on their march.
On the 19th of February, the Indians surprised Lancaster with complete
success, falling upon it with a force of several hundred warriors. The
town contained fifty-two families, of whom forty-two persons were killed
or captured. Forty-two persons took shelter in the house of Mary
Rowlandson, the wife of the minister of the place. It was set on fire by
the Indians. "Quickly," says Mrs. Rowlandson in her narrative, "it was
the dolefullest day that ever mine eyes saw. Now the dreadful hour had
come. Some in our house were fighting for their lives; others wallowing
in blood; the house on fire over our heads, and the bloody heathen ready
to knock us on the head if we stirred out. I took my children to go
forth; but the Indians shot so thick that the bullets rattled against
the house as if one had thrown a handful of stones. We had six stout
dogs; but none of them would stir. A bullet went through my side, and
another through a child in my arms, and I was made captive, having of my
family only one poor wounded babe left. I was led from the town where my
captors halted to gaze on the burning houses. Down I must sit in the
snow, with my sick child, the picture of death in my lap. Not the least
crumb of refreshment came within our mouths from Wednesday night until
Sunday night except a little cold water."
Mrs. Rowlandson and her child were afterward recovered from the savages.
Shortly after the Lancaster disaster, Captain Pierce, with fifty men and
twenty Cape Cod Indians, having crossed the Pawtuxet River in Rhode
Island, unexpectedly met a large body of Indians.
The English fell back and took up a sheltered position under the river
bank; but here they were hemmed in and fought until all fell save one
white man and four Indians, after killing more than one hundred of
The Christian Indians of Cape Cod showed their faithfulness and courage
in this melancholy affair. Four of them effected their escape and one of
these aided in the escape of the only white man who survived. His name
was Amos, and after Captain Pierce was wounded he remained by him
loading and firing, until it was evident he could do no more. Then he
painted his face black as his enemies had done, and thus escaped.
Another of the Christian Indians pretended to be chasing the white man
who thus escaped with upraised tomahawk. The ruse saved both.
On the 20th of April, an army of Indians made an assault on Sudbury.
The people were reinforced by soldiers from Watertown and Concord. The
Indians drew the Concord people into an ambuscade and only one escaped.
The best Indian warrior makes a poor general. He has no ability to
preserve an organization, and soon calamities began to befall Philip.
They were small at first; but they tended to discourage his followers.
First the Deerfield Indians abandoned his cause, and many of the
Nipmucks and Narragansetts followed. Still, Philip, though he had not
been much seen during the winter, and it is doubtful where he had spent
the most of it, had no intention of abating his efforts against
In the month of May, 1676, he appeared at the head of a powerful force
in northern Massachusetts. Large bodies of Indians about this time took
up positions at the Connecticut River falls, where they were attacked
and routed by Captain Turner. One hundred were left dead on the field
and a hundred and forty more went over the falls. When Turner retreated
from the field, the Indians rallied, fell on his rear, shot down the
gallant captain and thirty-seven of his men.
On May 30th, Philip, at the head of six hundred men, attacked Hatfield,
but was repulsed after a desperate struggle.
Philip's power was on the wane. He was secure in no place; but his
haughty spirit was untamed by adversity. Although meeting with constant
losses, and among them some of his most experienced warriors, he,
nevertheless, seemed as hostile and determined as ever. In August, the
intrepid Church made a descent upon his headquarters at Matapoiset,
where he killed and made prisoners one hundred and thirty. Philip barely
made his escape, and was obliged to leave his wampum and his wife and
child, who were made prisoners.
Church's guide had brought him to a place where a large tree, which the
enemy had felled, lay across a stream. Church had gained the top end of
the tree, when he espied an Indian on the stump of it, on the other side
of the stream. Church, brought his gun to his shoulder and would have
shot the Indian, had not one of his own Indians told him not to fire, as
he believed it was one of his own men. On hearing voices, the Indian
looked about, and the friendly Indian got a glance at his face and
discovered that it was Philip. The friendly Indian fired, but too late,
for Philip, leaping from the stump, ran down the bank among the bushes
and in a moment was out of sight. Church gave chase to him; but he could
not be found, though they picked up a few of his followers. King
Philip's war had now degenerated into a single man hunt. From this time
on, Philip was too closely watched and hotly pursued to escape
destruction. His followers deserted him, and he was driven like a wild
beast from place to place, until at last he came to his ancient seat
near Pokanoket, when one of his men advised making peace. Philip killed
him on the spot. The Indian thus slain had a brother named Alderman,
who, fearing the same fate, and probably in revenge, deserted Philip,
and gave Captain Church an account of his situation and offered to lead
him to his camp. Early on Saturday morning, August 12, 1676, Church,
with his Indian guide, came to the swamp where Philip was encamped, and,
before he was discovered, had placed a guard about it so as to encompass
it, except at one place. He then ordered Captain Golding to rush into
the swamp and fall upon Philip in his camp, which he immediately did,
but was discovered as he approached, and Philip fled. Having been just
awakened and being only partially dressed, he ran at full speed,
carrying his gun in his hand, and came directly upon the Indian
Alderman, who, with a white man, was in ambush at the edge of the swamp.
"There comes the devil Philip now!" cried the Englishman, raising his
rifle and aiming at the king; but the powder in the pan had become damp,
and he missed fire. Immediately Alderman, whose gun was loaded with two
balls, fired, sending one bullet through Philip's heart and another not
more than two inches from it. He fell upon his face in the mud and
water, with his gun under him.
The death of Philip ended the bloodiest Indian war at that time known in
the New World. A few of his confederates were captured; but there was no
more fighting. Philip's son was sold into slavery in Bermuda. So
perished the dynasty of Massasoit.
NEARING THE VERGE.
At times there come, as come there ought,
Grave moments of sedater thought.
When fortune frowns, nor lends our night
One gleam of her inconstant light:
And hope, that decks the peasant's bower,
Shines like the rainbow through the shower.
Robert Stevens was warmly greeted by his mother and sister on his return
from Massachusetts. He had grown to a handsome young man, whose daring
blue eye and bold, honest face seemed born to defy tyrants. Rebecca, his
sister, was a beautiful maiden, just budding into womanhood. She
possessed her father's quiet, gentle, modest demeanor with her mother's
beauty. Her great dark eyes were softer than her mother's, and her face
and contour were perfections of beauty.
"How glad I am to see you! Oh, how you have grown!" were among the
exclamations of his mother.
Robert noticed a great change in her. She was no longer the
proud-spirited being of old. Even when assailed by poverty, she was not
crushed and humiliated. Nothing was said of Mr. Price, though he was
uppermost in the minds of all. The stepfather was not present; but
"I shall meet him, and the meeting will come soon enough."
When the house was reached he had almost forgotten him. His mother's
pale face and wasted form were indications of poor health; but she
smiled once more, and he hoped to see the bloom return to the still
It was early when he disembarked, and Mr. Hugh Price, the royalist, had
gone with Governor Berkeley on a fox chase. He returned late that night,
and Robert did not see him until next morning. The greeting between
Robert and the man whom he heartily despised was formal and cool.
The cavalier was, as usual, dressed with scrupulous care, and, in lace
ruffles and silk, sought to conceal his coarse, beastly nature. His fat
face and pursed lips, with his bottle nose, all bore evidence of high
living and indulgence in the wine cup. The family assembled at the
breakfast table and sat in silence through the meal. When it was over,
Mr. Price said:
"Robert, I want to see you in my study."
His "study" was a room in which were a few books and a great many
implements of the chase. There were horns, whips, spurs, boar spears and
guns on the wall. Mr. Price lighted his pipe and, throwing himself into
his great easy chair, said:
"Sit down, Robert, I have something to say to you."
Robert closed his lips firmly, for he intuitively felt that what was
coming would have something unpleasant about it. Mr. Hugh Price
partially raised himself from his chair to close the door. Robert caught
a momentary glance of two anxious faces at the foot of the stairs,
watching them and evidently wondering how it was all going to end.
Having closed the door and shut those friendly countenances out from
view, Hugh Price raised his slippered feet and placed them on the stool
before him, and smoked in silence. Robert had lost the little fear he
had entertained in childhood for his stepfather; but he did not
calculate on the cunning and treachery which in Hugh Price had taken the
place of strength. He realized not the powerful weapons which Price
could wield in the governor and officers of State.
"Robert, you have come back," began Mr. Price, slowly and deliberately,
as if he wished to impress what he was about to say more fully on his
hearer. "I have some words of advice to offer, and I trust you will
profit by them. If you fail to, don't blame me."
Robert, by a respectful nod, indicated that he was listening, and Mr.
Price went on:
"We have reached a period when a great civil revolution seems to be at
hand. Virginia is about to be shaken by an earthquake, to writhe under
intestine wars, and it may be necessary for you to take sides. I warn
you to have a care which side you choose, for a mistake means death. You
had better know something of the condition of the country before you
make your choice."
"I assure you that I am willing to learn all I can of Virginia," Robert
"Very well spoken. I hope that you have eradicated from your mind all
those fallacious and treasonable ideas of republicanism. The failure of
the commonwealth in England ought to convince any one that republicanism
can never succeed."
Robert was silent. So deeply had republicanism been engrafted in his
soul that he might as well attempt to tear out his heart, as to think of
uprooting it. His meeting with General Goffe and his love for Ester had
more strongly cemented his love for liberty; but Robert held his peace,
and the stepfather went on.
"Virginia is ruled by a governor and sixteen councillors, commissioned
by his majesty, and a grand assembly, consisting of two burgesses from
each county, meets annually, which levies taxes, hears appeals and
passes laws of all descriptions, which are sent to the lord chancellor
for his approval, as in accordance with the laws of the realm. We now
have forty thousand people in Virginia, of whom six thousand are white
servants and two thousand negro slaves. Since 1619, only three
ship-loads of negroes have been brought here, yet by natural increase
the negroes have grown a hundredfold."
The cavalier, who delighted in long morning talks over his pipe, paused
a moment to rest, and Robert sat wondering what all this could have to
do with him. After a moment, Hugh Price resumed:
"The freemen of Virginia number more than eight thousand horse, and are
bound to muster monthly in every county, to be ready for the Indians;
but the Indians are absolutely subjugated, so there need be no fear of
them. There are five forts in Virginia, mounted with thirty cannon, two
on James River, and one each on the other three rivers of York,
Rappahannock, and Potomac; but we have neither skill nor ability to
maintain them. We have a large foreign commerce. Nearly eighty ships
every year come out from England and Ireland, and a few ketches from New
England, in defiance of the navigation laws, which the people of New
England seem more willing to break than are the people of Virginia. We
build neither small nor great vessels here, for we are most obedient to
all laws, whilst the New England men break them with impunity and trade
at any place to which their interests lead them."
"The New England people are prosperous and God-fearing," Robert ventured
to put in.
"Yea; but do they not harbor outlaws and regicides. Do not Whalley and
Goffe find in that country aiders and abettors in their criminal
"The New Englanders are friendly to the education of the masses."
At this, Hugh Price for an instant lost control of his passion. His
master, Sir William Berkeley, in a memorial to parliament, had
"I thank God that there are no free schools, nor printing, and I hope we
shall not have them these hundred years; for learning has brought
disobedience into the world, and printing has divulged them, and libels
against the best governments. God keep us from both!"
Virginia was the last province to submit to the commonwealth and first
to declare for the returned monarch, and the royalists residing in
Virginia despised what the common people insisted in calling freedom.
The commonwealth had driven many excellent royalists from England to
Virginia, and while Hugh Price seeks to smother his anger in clouds of
tobacco smoke, we will make a quotation from John Esten Cooke's
"Virginia" in regard to some of them:
"The character of the king's men who came over during the commonwealth
period has been a subject of much discussion. They have been called even
by Virginia writers as we have seen, 'butterflies of aristocracy,' who
had no influence in affairs or in giving its coloring to Virginia
society. The facts entirely contradict the view. They and their
descendants were the leaders in public affairs, and exercised a
controlling influence upon the community. Washington was the
greatgrandson of a royalist, who took refuge in Virginia during the
commonwealth. George Mason was the descendant of a colonel, who fought
for Charles II. Edmond Pendleton was of royalist origin, and lived and
died a most uncompromising churchman. Richard Henry Lee, who moved the
Declaration, was of the family of Richard Lee, who had gone to invite
Charles II. to Virginia. Peyton and Edmund Randolph, president of the
First Congress, and attorney-general were of the old royalist family.
Archibald Cary, who threatened to stab Patrick Henry if he were made
dictator, was a relative of Lord Falkland and heir apparent at his
death to the barony of Hunsdon. Madison and Monroe were descended from
the royalist families--the first from a refugee of 1653, the last from a
captain in the army of Charles I., and Patrick Henry and Thomas
Jefferson, afterward the leaders of democratic opinion, were of church
and king blood, since the father of Henry was a loyal officer who 'drank
the king's health at the head of his regiment'; and the mothers of both
were Church of England women, descended from royalist families."
With this brief digression, we will return to Hugh Price, who, having
smoked himself into a calmer state, turned his eyes upon his wife's son
with a look designed to be compassionate and said:
"Robert, it is the great love I bear you, which causes my anxiety about
your welfare. I trust that your recent sojourn in New England hath not
established the seeds of republicanism and Puritanism in your heart. I
trust that any fallacious ideas you may have formed during your absence
will become, in the light of reason, eradicated."
"He who is not susceptible of reason is unworthy of being called a
reasonable being," Robert answered.
"I am glad to hear you say as much. Now permit me to return to the
original subject. Virginia is on the verge of a political irruption,
and your arrival may be most opportune or unfortunate."
"I hardly comprehend you."
"There is some dissatisfaction with Governor Berkeley's course with the
Indians. Some unreasonable people think that he should prosecute the war
against them more vigorously."
"Why does he not?"
"He has good reasons."
"What are they?"
"He has dealings with the Indians in which there are many great fortunes
involved. To go to war with them would be sure to lose him and his
friends these profits. I am one concerned in these speculations, and it
would be a grievous wrong to me were the war prosecuted."
Robert knew something of the savage outrages in Virginia. He had learned
of them while on shipboard, and he had some difficulty in restraining
his rising indignation, so it was with considerable warmth that
"Do you think your gains of more value than the human lives sacrificed
on the frontier?"
"Such talk is treason," cried Price. "It sounds not unlike Bacon,
Cheeseman, Lawrence and Drummond. Have you seen them since your return?"
"I have not, nor did I ever hear of the man Bacon before."
"Have a care! You would do well to avoid Drummond, Cheeseman and
"They are suspected of republicanism. Have naught to do with them."
Some people are so constituted that to refuse them a thing increases
their desire for it. Robert would no doubt have gone to hunt up his
former friends and rescuers even had not his stepfather forbidden his
doing so, but now that Price prohibited his having anything to do with
them, he was doubly determined to meet them and learn what they had to
say about the threatened trouble.
His mother and sister were waiting in the room below with anxiously
beating hearts to know the result of the conference. Sighs of relief
escaped both, when they were assured that the meeting had been peaceful.
"Hold your peace, my son," plead the mother, "and do naught to bring
more distress upon your poor mother."
Robert realized that a great crisis was coming which would try his soul.
He had never broken his word with his mother, and for fear that his
conscience might conflict with any promise, he resolved to make none, so
he evaded her, by saying:
"Mother, there is no need for apprehension. We are in no danger."
"But your stepfather and you?"
"We have had no new quarrel."
He was about to excuse himself and take a stroll about Jamestown, when
he saw a short, stout little fellow, resembling an apple dumpling
mounted on two legs, entering the door. Though years had passed since he
had seen that form, he knew him at sight. Giles Peram, the traitor and
informer, had grown plumper, and his round face seemed more silly. His
little eyes had sunk deeper into his fat cheeks, and his lips were
puckered as if to whistle. He was attired as a cavalier, with a scarlet
laced coat, a waistcoat of yellow velvet and knee breeches of the
cavalier, with silk stockings.
"Good day, good people," he said, squeezing his fat little hands
together. "I hope you will excuse this visit, for I--I--heard that the
brother of my--of the pretty maid had come home, and hastened to
Robert gazed for a moment on the contemptible little fellow, the chief
cause of his arrest and banishment and, turning to his mother, asked:
"Do you allow him to come here?"
"We must," she whispered.
"Hush, son; you don't understand it all. I will explain it to you
"You may; but I think I shall change matters, if he is to be a visitor."
"He is the governor's secretary."
"I care not if he be governor himself; he has no business here."
The little fellow, whose face had grown alternately white and purple,
stood squeezing his palms and ejaculating:
"Oh, dear me!--oh, dear!--this is very extraordinary--what can this
"Why do you dare enter this house?" demanded Robert, fiercely.
"Oh, dear, I don't know--I am only a small fellow, you know."
At this moment Mrs. Price and her daughter interposed and begged Robert,
for the peace of the family, to make no further remonstrance. He was
informed that Giles Peram was the favorite of the governor and Hugh
Price, and to insult him would be insulting those high functionaries.
"Why is he here? Whom does he come to see?"
"Perhaps it is Mr. Price!" the mother stammered, casting a glance at
Peram, who quickly answered:
"Yes--yes, it is Mr. Price. Will you show me up to him? I have a very
important message from the governor."
He was trembling in every limb, for he expected to be hurled from the
Robert went into the street in a sort of maze.
He felt a strange foreboding that all was not right, and that Giles
Peram had some deep scheme on foot.
"I will kill the knave, if the governor should hang me for it the next
moment," he said in a fit of anger.
It was not long before Robert was at the house of Mr. Lawrence, where he
met his friends Drummond and Cheeseman. The three were engaged in a
close consultation as if discussing a matter of vital importance. They
did not at first recognize Robert, who had grown to manhood; but as soon
as he made himself known, they welcomed him back among them, and
warm-hearted Cheeseman said:
"I know full well you can be relied upon in this great crisis."
"What is the crisis?" Robert asked.
"We seem on the verge of some sort of a revolution. Virginia welcomed
Charles II. and Governor Berkeley as the frogs welcomed the stork, and
they, stork like, have begun devouring us."
"I have heard something of the grievances of the people of Virginia;
but I do not know all of them. What leads up to this revolution?"
Mr. Drummond answered:
"The two main grievances are the English navigation acts and the grant
of authority to the English noblemen to sell land titles and manage
other matters in Virginia. Why, the king hath actually given to Lord
Culpepper, a cunning and covetous member of the commission, for trade
and plantations, and the earl of Arlington, a heartless spendthrift,
'all the dominion of land and water called Virginia, for the term of
thirty-one years.' We are permitted by the trade laws to trade only with
England in English ships, manned by Englishmen."
"Is it such a great grievance to the people?"
"It is foolish and injurious to the government as well as to ourselves.
The system cripples the colony, and, by discouraging production,
decreases the English revenue. To profit from Virginia they grind down
Virginia. Instead of friends, as we expected, on the restoration, we are
beset by enemies, who seize us by the throat and cry: 'Pay that
"To these grievances are added the confinement of suffrage to
freeholders, which hath disfranchised a large number of persons," put in
"Also the failure of the governor to protect the frontier from the
Indians," added Mr. Cheeseman. "These heathen have begun to threaten
"What cause have they for taking up the hatchet?" asked Robert. Mr.
"Their jealousy was aroused by an expedition made by Captain Henry Batte
beyond the mountains. Last summer there was a fight with some of the
Indians. A party of Doegs attacked the frontier in Staffard and
committed outrages, and were pursued into Maryland by a company of
Virginians under Major John Washington. They stood at bay in an old
palisaded fort. Six Indians were killed while bringing a flag of truce.
The governor said that even though they had slain his nearest relatives,
had they come to treat with him he would have treated with them. The
Indian depredations have been on the increase until the frontier is
unsafe, and this spring, when five hundred men were ready to march
against the heathen, Governor Berkeley disbanded them, saying the
frontier forts were sufficient protection for the people."
"Are they?" asked Robert.
"Then why does he not send an army against them?"
"He is engaged in trafficking with the heathen and fears that he may
lose, financially, by a war."
"Is gain in traffic of more consequence than human life?"
"With him, it is."
Robert was a lover of humanity, and in a moment he had taken sides. He
was a republican and his fate was cast with Bacon, even before he had
seen this remarkable man.
THE SWORD OF DEFENCE.
He stood--some dread was on his face,
Soon hatred settled in its place:
It rose not with the reddening flush
Of transient anger's hasty blush,
But pale as marble o'er the tomb,
Whose ghastly whiteness aids its gloom.
Robert Stevens returned home, his mind filled with strange, wild
thoughts. It was a lovely evening in early spring. The moon, round and
full, rose from out its watery bed and shed a soft, refulgent glow on
this most delightful of all climes. Below was the bay, on which floated
many barks, and among them the vessel which had so recently brought him
from Boston. The little town lay quiet and peaceful on the hill where
his grandfather and Captain John Smith sixty years ago had planted it.
Beyond were the dark forests, gloomy and forbidding, as if they
concealed many foes of the white men; but those woods were not all dark
and forbidding. From them issued the sweet perfumes of wild flowers and
the songs of night birds, such as are known in Virginia.
Young Stevens was in no mood to be impressed by the surrounding scenery.
He was repeating under his breath:
"_Tyranny! tyranny! tyranny!_"
Robert loved freedom as dearly as he loved Ester Goffe, and one was as
necessary to his existence as the other. Now, on his return to the land
of his nativity, he found the ruler, once so mild and popular, grown
to a tyrant.
"His office is for life," sighed Robert. "And too much power hath made
Reaching the house, he heard voices in the front room and among them
that of his sister. She was greatly agitated, and he heard her saying:
"No, no, Mr. Peram. I--don't understand you."
"Not understand me? I love you, sweet maid. Do I not make myself plain?"
"No, no; do not talk that way; pray do not."
"But you must promise, sweet maid, to wed me. I adore you."
At this the scoundrel caught her hand, and Rebecca uttered a scream of
terror. Her brother waited to hear no more, but leaped boldly into the
room and, seizing Mr. Giles Peram by the collar of his coat and the
waistband of his costly knee-breeches, held him at arm's length, and
began applying first one and then another pedal extremity to
Mr. Peram squirmed and howled:
"Oh, dear! Oh, let me go! This is very extraordinary!" his small eyes
growing dim and his fat cheeks pale.
"You knave! How dare you thus annoy my sister?" cried Robert, still
kicking the rascal. At last he led him to the door and flung him down
the front steps, where he fell in a heap on the ground with such force,
that one might have thought his neck was broken. Robert turned to his
sister and asked:
"Where is mother?"
"She hath gone with her husband to Greensprings."
"And left you alone?"
"It was thought you would come."
Robert Stevens felt guilty of neglect in lingering too long in the
company of men whom Berkeley would regard as conspirators; but he
immediately excused himself on the ground that he had had no knowledge
of the intended departure of his mother, or that his sister would be
"Have you suffered annoyances from him before?"
"Does mother know of it?"
"And makes no effort to protect you?"
[Illustration: HE FLUNG HIM DOWN THE FRONT STEPS, WHERE HE FELL IN A
HEAP ON THE GROUND.]
"She does all she can; but--but Mr. Price sanctions the marriage."
"I think I understand why you were left," said Robert, bitterly; "but I
will protect you, never fear. That disgusting pigmy of humanity, that
silly idiot and false swearer shall not harm you. I will take you
"Alas, he is dead. He was appointed governor to Carolinia and died."
"But our father's sister will give you a home, if the persecution
becomes too hard for you to endure."
With such assurances, he consoled her as only a stout, brave brother
can, and to win her mind from the subject that tormented her most, he
told her of Ester Goffe and their betrothal, with a few of his wild
adventures in New England, where, at this time, King Philip's war was
raging with relentless fury.
Then his sister retired, and he sought repose. Next morning his mother
was at breakfast; but Hugh Price was absent. He asked no questions about
him. Nothing was said of the summary manner in which he had disposed of
Mr. Peram, and it was a week before he saw his sister's
The little fellow was standing on a platform making a speech to some
sailors and idlers. The harangue was silly, as all his speeches were.
"If the king wants brave soldiers to cope with these rebels, let him
send me to command them. Fain would I lead an army against the
At this, some wag in the crowd made a remark about the diminutive size
of the speaker, and the ludicrous figure he would cut as a general, at
which he became enraged and cried:
"Begone, knave! Do you think I talk to fools? Nay, I speak sense."
"Which is very extraordinary," put in the wag. This so exasperated the
orator, that he fumed and raged about the platform and, not taking heed
which way he went, tumbled backward off the stage, which brought his
harangue to an inglorious close.
Shouts of laughter went up from the assembled group at his mishap, and
the orator retired in disgust.
Robert Stevens was more amused than any other person at the manner in
which Giles Peram had terminated his speech. He went home and told his
sister, who laughed as much as he did.
That night, near midnight, Robert was awakened from a sound sleep by
some one tapping on his window lattice. He rose, at first hardly able to
believe his senses; but the moon was shining quite brightly, and he
distinctly saw the outline of a man standing outside his window, and
there came a tapping unquestionably intended to wake him.
"Who are you?" he asked, going to the window.
"I am Drummond," was the answer, and he now recognized his father's
friend standing on the rounds of a ladder which he had placed against
the house at the side of his window. On the ground below were two more
men, whom he recognized as Mr. Cheeseman and the thoughtful
"What will you, Mr. Drummond?"
"Come forth; we have something to say to you. Dress for a journey and
bring what weapons you have, as you may need them."
Robert hurriedly dressed and buckled on a breastplate and sword with a
brace of pistols. He had a very fine rifle, which he brought away with
him, as well as a supply of flints, a horn full of powder to the very
throat, and plenty of bullets. With these, he crept from the house and
joined the three men under the tree. Mr. Drummond said:
"The Indians have again risen in their fury, and attacked the frontier,
killing many, and have carried some of your kinspeople away captives."
Robert was roused. He was in a frenzy and vowed that if no one else
would go, he would himself pursue the savages and rescue his relatives.
"You will have aid," assured Mr. Drummond. "The people are enraged at
the carelessness of the governor, and if they can secure a leader, they
will go and punish the Indians."
"Leader or no leader, I shall go to the rescue of my relatives. My
father's sister and children are captives; think you I would remain at
home for lack of a leader?"
"We will find one in Nathaniel Bacon."
"Who is he?" asked Robert, as if he still feared the willingness or
ability of the proposed leader to conduct the crusade against the
savages. Mr. Drummond answered:
"Bacon is a young man who has not yet arrived at thirty years. His
family belongs to the English gentry, for he is a cousin of Lord
Culpepper and married a daughter of Sir John Duke. He run out his
patrimony in England and hath, by his liberality, exhausted the most of
what he brought to Virginia. He came here four years ago and settled at
Curies on the upper James River. His uncle, who lives in Virginia, was a
member of the king's council. He is Nathaniel Bacon, senior, a very rich
politic man and childless, who designs his nephew, Nathaniel Bacon,
junior, for his heir."
"Has he ability for a leader?" asked Robert.
"He hath; his abilities have been so highly recognized, that he was
appointed soon after his arrival to a place in the council."
This was a position of great dignity, rarely conferred upon any but men
of matured age and large estate, and Bacon was only twenty-eight, and
his estate small. His personal character is seen on the face of his
public career. He was impulsive and subject to fits of passion, or, as
the old writers say, "of a precipitate disposition."
Bacon came near being the Virginia Cromwell. Though he never wholly
redeemed his adopted country from tyranny, he put the miscreant Berkeley
to flight. On that May night in 1676, Bacon was at his Curles
plantation, just below the old city of Henricus, living quietly on his
estate with his beautiful young wife Elizabeth. He had another estate in
what is now the suburbs of the present city of Richmond, which is to-day
known as "Bacon's Quarter Branch." His servants and overseers lived
here, and he could easily go thither in a morning's journey on his
favorite dapple gray, or by rowing seven miles around the Dutch Gap
peninsula, could make the journey in his barge. When not at his upper
plantation or in attendance at the council, he was living the quiet and
unassuming life of a planter at Curles, where he entertained his
neighbors, and being by nature a lover of the divine rights of man, he
boldly denounced the trade laws, the Arlington and Culpepper grants, and
the governor for his lukewarmness in defending the frontier against the
Indians. Though one of the gentry, who had it in his power to become a
favorite, the manifest tyranny of Governor Berkeley so shocked his sense
of right and justice, that he was ready to condemn the whole system of
When the report came to him that the Indians were about to renew their
outrages on the upper waters of the James River, Bacon flew into a rage
and, tossing his arms about in a wild gesticulation, as was his
"If they kill any of my people, d--n my blood, I will make war on them,
with or without authority, commission or no commission."
The hour was not long in coming when his resolution was put to the test.
In May, 1676, two days before Robert was awakened from his midnight
slumbers by Drummond, the Indians had attacked his estate at the Falls,
killed his overseer and one of his servants, and were going to carry
fire and hatchet through the frontier. The wild news flew from house to
house. The planters and frontiersmen sprang to arms and began to form a
combination against these dangerous enemies.
Governor Berkeley had refused to commission any one as commander of the
forces, and the colonists were without a head. The silly old egotist who
ruled Virginia declared that there was no danger from the Indians, and
even while the frontiersmen were battling with them for their lives,
he wrote to the home government that all trouble with the natives was
happily over. When the Virginians assembled, they were without a leader.
It was on this occasion that Robert was awakened at night, as we have
seen, and asked to arm himself and prepare for a journey. That midnight
journey was to Curies where the planters were assembled preparatory to
making a descent on the enemy, which they were long to remember. When
Robert was informed of the plan, he asked for a moment's time to confer
with his sister, that he might notify her of his departure.
He knew the room in which Rebecca slept, and going to her door, tapped
lightly until he heard her stirring, and the voice within asked:
"Who are you?"
"It is your brother," he whispered. A moment later the pretty face of
the sleepy girl, surrounded by the neat border of a night-cap, appeared,
and he hastily informed her that the Indians, in ravaging the frontier,
had carried away their relatives, and he was going to set out to recover
them. She knew the political situation of the country and the danger of
the governor's wrath; but she could not detain her brother from such
Having explained to her that he was going to recover the captives and
knew not when he would return, he went hurriedly away to join his
companions. A horse was ready saddled for him, and they rode nearly all
the remainder of the night, and at dawn were at Curies where was found a
considerable number of riflemen. As they came upon the group, Robert saw
a young man with dark eyes and hair, a face that was ruddy, yet denoting
nervous temperament. He was tall and graceful, and his bold, vehement
spirit seemed at once to take fire, and his enthusiasm kindled a
conflagration in the breasts of his hearers. He spoke of their wrongs,
of their governor's avarice, who would for the sake of his traffic with
the Indians sacrifice their lives. They were not assembled for
vengeance, but for defence against a ruthless foe. There was no outward
expression of rebellion in his speech, yet he enlarged on the grievances
of the time. That speech was an ominous indication of coming events.
"Who is that man?" Robert asked.
"Nathaniel Bacon," was the answer.
This was the first time he had ever seen the man so noted in history as
the great Virginia rebel, yet from the very first Robert was strangely
impressed with the earnestness of the stranger.
Bacon had been chosen as commander of the Virginians, and had sent to
Berkeley for his commission. The governor did not refuse the
commission; but he did what practically amounted to the same, failed to
send it. It was to this that Bacon was referring when Robert Stevens and
his friends joined the group.
"Instead of sending the commission which I desired, he hath politely
notified me that the times are troubled," Bacon said, "that the issue of
my business might be dangerous, that, unhappily, my character and
fortunes might become imperiled if I proceed. The commission is refused;
his complimentary expressions amount to nothing; the veil is too thin to
impose on us; the Indians are still ravaging the frontier. They have
been furnished with firelocks and powder--by whom? By the governor in
his traffic with them. If you, good housekeepers, will sustain me, I
will assault the savages in their stronghold."
All, with one accord, assented and declared themselves willing to be led
to the assault. Bacon was at once chosen as the commander of the army.
When he learned that Robert and his friends had come from Jamestown to
aid the people on the frontier, he came to welcome them to his ranks and
to assure them that he appreciated their courage and humanity.
"I have relatives and friends who are captives of the Indians," Robert
explained, "and I shall rescue them or perish in the effort."
"Bravo! spoken like an Englishman. We are kindling a fire which may yet
consume royalty in Virginia."
Nathaniel Bacon was politic, however, and before setting out against the
Indians dispatched another messenger to Jamestown for a commission as
commander. The game between the man of twenty-eight and the man of
seventy had begun. Both possessed violent tempers; both were proud and
resolute, and the man of seventy was wholly unscrupulous. The prospects
were good for a bitter warfare. The old cavalier attempted to end it by
striking a sudden blow at his adversary. Bacon and his army were on
their march through the forest to the seat of Indian troubles, when an
emissary of the governor came in hot haste with a proclamation,
denouncing Nathaniel Bacon and his deluded followers as rebels, and
ordered them to disperse. If they persisted in their illegal
proceedings, it would be at their peril.
Governor Berkeley could not have chosen a more effective way of
crippling the expedition. The resolution of the most wealthy of the
armed housekeepers were shaken. They feared a confiscation more than
hanging or decapitation. One hundred and seventy of the followers of
Bacon obeyed the order and abandoned the expedition.
Fifty-seven horsemen remained steadfast. Among them was Robert Stevens,
who was young and reckless as his daring leader.
The Indians had entrenched themselves on a hill east of the present city
of Richmond, and when the whites approached them, they as usual sent
forth a flag of truce to parley with them. The men who remained with
Bacon were nearly all frontiersmen who had suffered more or less from
John Whitney, a frontiersman, had had his home destroyed, and his wife
and child slain by the Indians. While the parley was going on, John
discovered the Indian who had slain his wife and child, and, recognizing
their scalps hanging at the savage's girdle, he levelled his rifle at
the savage and shot him dead.
The Indians gave utterance to yells of rage, and from the hill-top
poured down a volley at the white men; but the bullets and arrows passed
quite over their heads. Bacon saw that the moment for a charge had
arrived, and, raising himself in his stirrups, he shouted:
"There are the devils who slew your friends and kindred. It is their
lives or ours. Strike for vengeance! Charge!"
Not a man faltered. Never did husbands, fathers and brothers dash
forward into battle more fearlessly. Each man thought only of his own
little home exposed to the ravages of the enemy, and the whistling of
balls and arrows did not deter him. The enemy were entrenched in a fort
of logs. They outnumbered the Virginians ten to one; but the latter
charged nobly forward, plunging into the stream which lay between them
and the fort, and wading through the water shoulder deep.
"There are the enemy; storm the fort!" cried Bacon. Ever in the van,
mounted on his dapple gray, where bullets flew thickest, he was here and
there and everywhere, urging and encouraging the men by word and
example. They needed little encouragement, for the atrocities of the
Indian had fired the blood of the Virginians, until the most timid among
them became brave as a lion.
Robert Stevens kept at the side of Bacon, imitating his example. Robert
was mounted on an English bay, a famous fox-hunter, and accustomed to
leaping barriers. Bacon knew nothing of the science of Indian warfare,
even if he knew anything of war at all. Indian tactics are entirely
different from civilized warfare and require a different mode to meet
them; but though the hero of Virginia four years before was thoroughly
ignorant of Indians, he seemed to acquire the necessary knowledge in a
moment. He was the man for the occasion.
Side by side Bacon and Robert dashed at the palisade and leaped their
horses over it. They emptied their rifles and fired their pistols at
such close range, that the effect was murderous. Others followed,
leaping down among the savages, and opened fire. When guns and pistols
had belched forth their deadly contents, the more deadly sabre was
drawn, and the Indians were slain without mercy.
The buildings were fired, and the four thousand pounds of powder, which
the Indians had procured of the governor, were blown up. One hundred and
fifty Indians were slain, while Bacon lost only three of his own party.
This victory is famous in history as the "Battle of Bloody Run," so
called from the fact that the blood of the Indians ran down into the
stream beneath the hill. Among some of the captives taken by the
Indians, Robert Stevens found his relatives and restored them to their
homes and friends.
The Indians were routed and sent flying toward the mountains, and Bacon
went back toward Curles.
Meanwhile Berkeley was not idle. He raised a troop of horse to pursue
and conquer the rebels; but to his alarm he found the people quite
outspoken and, in fact, in open rebellion in the lower tiers
When the burgesses met in June, Bacon embarked in his sloop and went to
Jamestown, taking Robert Stevens and about thirty friends with him. No
sooner had the sloop landed than the cannon of a ship were trained on
it, and Bacon was arrested and taken to Governor Berkeley in the
The haughty governor was somewhat awed by the turmoil and confusion
which prevailed throughout Jamestown, and feared to appear stern with so
popular a man as Bacon.
"Mr. Bacon, have you forgot to be a gentleman?" the governor asked.
"No, may it please your honor," Bacon answered, quite coolly.
"Then I will take your parole," said Berkeley.
Bacon was consequently paroled, though not given privilege to leave
Jamestown. There was much murmuring and discontent among the people, who
vowed that they had only "appealed to the sword as a defence against the
THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER.
'Do you know the old man of the sea, of the sea?
Have you met with that dreadful old man?
If you haven't been caught, you will be, you will be;
For catch you he must and he can.'
Robert Stevens and twenty others captured with Bacon were kept in
prison. His mother and sisters visited him, but he saw nothing of his
stepfather. One evening he was informed that a gentleman wished to see
him, and immediately Mr. Giles Peram was admitted to his cell.
"How are you, Robert--ahem?" began Giles. "This is most extraordinary, I
assure you, and you have my sympathy, and you may not believe it, no,
you may not believe it, but I am sorry for you."
"You can spare yourself any tears on my account," the prisoner answered,
casting a look of scorn and indignation on the proud little fellow who
strutted before him with ill-concealed exultation. Without noticing the
irony in the words of the prisoner, Giles puffed up with the importance
of his mission, went on:
"Robert, I have come to you with a singular proposition. Now you are
very anxious to know what it is, are you not?"
"I have some curiosity; yet I have no doubt that I shall treat your
proposition with contempt."
"Oh, no, you won't. Your life depends on your acceptance."
"I can best answer you when I know what your proposition is."
"It is this. I am enamoured of your sister. She rejects my suit. Now, if
she will consent to become my wife, you shall have your liberty."
It was well for Peram that Robert Stevens was chained to the wall, or it
would have fared hard for the little fellow. Giles kept beyond the
length of the chain and the prisoner was powerless. His only weapon was
his tongue; but with that he poured out the vials of his wrath so
copiously on the wretch, that he retired in disgust.
Events soon shaped themselves so as to give Robert his liberty. Through
the intercession of Bacon's cousin, Nathaniel Bacon, senior, the
governor consented to pardon Bacon the rebel, if he would, on his knees,
read a written confession of his error and ask forgiveness. This
confession was made June 5, 1676. Between the last days of May and the
5th of June, Bacon had been denounced as a rebel; had marched and
defeated the savages; had stood for the burgesses and appeared at
Jamestown; had been arrested and quickly paroled, and was now, on the
5th of June, to confess on his knees that he was a great offender. The
old cavalier Berkeley was going to make an imposing scene of it. The
governor sent the burgesses a message to attend him in the council
chamber below, on public business, and when they came, he addressed them
on the Indian troubles, specially denouncing the murder of the six
chiefs in Maryland, though Colonel Washington, who commanded the forces
on that expedition, was present. With pathetic emphasis the
"Had they killed my grandfather and grandmother, my father and mother
and all my friends, yet if they came to treat of peace, they ought to
have gone in peace." Having finished this harangue, designed for the
humiliation of John Washington and his followers, he rose and with grim
"If there be joy in the presence of the angels over one sinner that
repenteth, there is joy now, for we have a penitent sinner come before
us. Call Mr. Bacon."
Bacon came in, holding the paper in his trembling hand, and, kneeling,
read his confession. It evidently grieved his lion heart to do so, for
at times he faltered, and his voice, usually clear and distinct, was
half smothered. When he had finished, Sir William Berkeley said:
"God forgive you; I forgive you," and three times he repeated the words.
"And all that were with him?" asked Colonel Cole, one of the council.
Hugh Price, who was present, was about to interpose some objection; but
before he could say anything, Sir William Berkeley answered:
"Yes, and all that were with him." As Bacon rose from his knees, the
governor took his hand and added: "Mr. Bacon, if you will live civilly
but till next quarter day, but till next quarter day, I'll promise to
restore you to your place there," pointing to the seat which Bacon
generally occupied daring the sessions of the council.
The order to release the prisoners was at once given, and Robert Stevens
was again a free man. He hastened to the home of his mother and sister,
where he met his stepfather, whose conduct was so odious to the young
man that he took up his abode at "the house of public entertainment kept
by the wife of a certain thoughtful Mr. Lawrence." Bacon was also living
here under his parole, for it was generally understood that he had not
been given permission to leave the city.
One morning, just as the excitement incident to the arrest and
confession of Bacon had begun to subside, a large ship entered the river
and cast anchor before the town. The ship flew English colors and was a
veritable floating palace. There are few crafts afloat even at this day
that equal it in elegance. It had been built by the most skilful
carpenters in the world at that time, and the long, tapering masts, the
deck and bows were more of the modern style than ships of that day.
Her cabins were large, roomy and fitted up with more than Oriental
splendor. There were Turkish carpets, and golden candelabra. Wealth,
strength, ease and grace were evident in every part of the strange
craft. No such vessel had ever before entered James River. The ship was
well armed, and the crew thoroughly disciplined. There was a long brass
cannon in the forecastle, with carronades above and below, for she was a
double-decker with a row of guns above and below, and at that time such
a formidable craft was able to destroy half of the English navy. The
name of the vessel was not in keeping with her general appearance. In
spite of the elegance and magnificence of the vessel, on her stern, in
great black letters, was the awful word:
What strange freak had induced the owner of this wonderful craft to
give it such a melancholy name? Jamestown was thrown into a flutter of
excitement at first, and whispered rumors went about that the vessel was
a pirate. If it should prove a pirate, they knew it would be able to
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