Page images
PDF
EPUB

to the odium and risk: an act of which, after all the pains that have been taken of his education, to impress him with sentiments of truth and honor, I am greatly ashamed. No, gentlemen, I am unwilling to deceive you, or that the meditated injury should fall on him, who, if he has not the honor of the office, ought not to bear the occasional disadvantage: I am ready to acknowledge and avow, nor shall these wry faces, and contortions of body, which you observe in the red-headed man, prevent me; that he is the bona fide, actual excise officer. Nevertheless, gentlemen, let me expostulate with you on his bebalf. Let me endeavor to save him from your odium, not by falsehood, but by reason. Is it not a principle of that republican government which you have established, that the will of the majority shall govern; and has not the will of the majority of the United States enacted this law? Will

By this time they had sunk the butt-end of the sapling in the hole dug for it, and it stood erect with a flag displayed in the air, and was called a liberty-pole. The beds and pillow-cases had been cut open, and were brought forward. A committee had been appointed to conduct the operation. It was while they were occupied in doing this, that the captain had without interruption gone on in making his harangue. But these things being now adjusted, a principal person of the committee came forward, just at the last words of the captain.

" The will of the majority," said he; "yes, faith, the will of the majority shall govern. It is right that it should be the case. We know the excise officer very well. Come lay hands upon him.”

“Guid folk,” said Duncan, “I am no the gauger, it is true; nor am I a friend to the excise law, though I come in company wi' the officer ; nevertheless I dinna approve o' this o' your dinging down the government. For what is it but dinging down the government to act against the laws? Did ye never read i' the Bible, that rebellion is worse than witchcraft? Did ye never read o' how mony lairds and dukes were hanged in Scotland lang ago for rebellion? When the government comes to tak this up, ye sal all be made out rebels, and hanged. Ye had better think what ye are about. Ye dinna gie fair play. If ye want to fight, and ony

o' ye will turn out wi' me I sal tak a turn wi' him; and no just jump upon a man a' in ae lump, like a parcel o' tinklers at a fair.”

The committee had paid no attention to this harangue; but had in the mean time seized Teague, and conveyed him to a cart, in which the keg of tar had been placed. The operation had commenced amid the vociferation of the bog-trotter, crossing himself, and preparing for purgatory. They had stripped him to the waist, and pouring the tar upon his naked body, emptied at the same time a bed of feathers on his head, which, adhering to the viscous fluid, gave him the appearance of a wild

fowl of the forest. The cart being driven off with the prisoner in this state, a great part of the mob accompanied, with the usual exclamation of “Liberty, and no excise law. Down with all excise officers."

William White.

BORN in Philadelphia, Penn., 1748. Died there, 1836.

HE VISITS JOHNSON AND GOLDSMITH.

[Written to Bishop Hobart, September, 1819.- Memoir of the Life of Bishop White. 1839.)

AVING mentioned some literary characters, who became personally

known to me in the university, I will not omit, although extraneous to it, that giant of genius and literature, Dr. Samuel Johnson. My introduction to him was a letter from the Rev. Jonathan Odell, formerly missionary at Burlington. The Doctor was very civil to me.

I visited him occasionally; and I know some who would be tempted to envy me the felicity of having found him, one morning, in the act of preparing his dictionary for a new edition. His harshness of manners never displayed itself to me, except in one instance; when he told me that had he been prime-minister, during the then recent controversy concerning the stampact, he would have sent a ship-of-war, and levelled one of our principal cities with the ground. On the other hand, I have heard from him sentiments expressive of a feeling heart; and convincing me, that he would not have done as he said. Having dined in company with him, in Kensington, at the house of Mr. Elphinstone, well known to scholars of that day, and returning in the stage-coach with the Doctor, I mentioned to him there being a Philadelphia edition of his “Prince of Abyssinia.” He expressed a wish to see it. I promised to send him a copy on my return to Philadelphia, and did so. He returned a polite answer, which is printed in Mr. Boswell's second edition of his Life of the Doctor. Mr. (since the Rev. Dr.) Abercrombie's admiration of Dr. Johnson had led to a correspondence with Mr. Boswell, to whom, with my consent, the letter was sent.

This reminds me of another literary character, a friend of Johnson, Dr. Goldsmith. We lodged, for some time, near to one another, in Brick Court, of the Temple. I had it intimated to him, by an acquaintance of both, that I wished for the pleasure of making him a visit. It ensued ;

and in our conversation it took a turn which excited in me a painful sensation, from the circumstance that a man of such a genius

should write for bread. His “Deserted Village" came under notice; and some remarks were made by us on the principle of it—the decay of the peasantry. He said, that were he to write a pamphlet on the subject, he could prove the point incontrovertibly. On his being asked why he did not set his mind to this, his answer was: “ It is not worth

my

while. A good poem will bring me one hundred guineas; but the pamphlet would bring me nothing.” This was a short time before my leaving of England, and I saw the Doctor no more.

REMINISCENCES OF WASHINGTON.

[Written to Hugh Mercer, November, 1832.–From the Same.] THE father of our country, whenever in this city, as well during the

revolutionary war as in his Presidency, attended divine service in Christ Church of this city; except during one winter; when, being here for the taking of measures with Congress toward the opening of the next campaign, he rented a house near to St. Peter's Church, then in parochial union with Christ Church. During that season, he attended regularly at St. Peter's. His behavior was always serious and attentive; but as your letter seems to intend an inquiry on the point of kneeling during the service, I owe it to truth to declare, that I never saw him in the said attitude. During his Presidency, our vestry provided him with a pew, ten yards in front of the reading-desk. It was habitually occupied by himself, by Mrs. Washington, who was regularly a communicant, and by his secretaries.

Although I was often in company of this great man, and had the honor of dining often at his table, I never heard anything from him that could manifest his opinions on the subject of religion. I knew no man who seemed so carefully to guard against the discoursing of himself or of his acts, or of anything pertaining to him: and it has occasionally occurred to me, when in his company, that if a stranger to his person were present, he would never have known, from anything said by the President, that he was conscious of having distinguished himself in the eyes of the world. His ordinary behavior, although unexceptionably courteous, was not such as to encourage obtrusion on what might be in his mind.

On the day before his leaving of the Presidential chair a large company dined with him. Among them were the foreign ministers and their ladies, Mr. and Mrs. Adams, Mr. Jefferson, with other conspicuous persons of both sexes. During the dinner much hilarity prevailed; but

on the removal of the cloth it was put an end to by the President: certainly without design. Having filled his glass, he addressed the company, with a smile on his countenance, as nearly as can be recollected in the following terms: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the last time I shall drink your

health as a public man. I do it with sincerity, and wishing you all possible happiness." There was an end of all pleasantry. He who gives this relation accidentally directed his eye to the lady of the British minister (Mrs. Liston), and tears were running down her cheeks.

David Ramsay.

BORN in Lancaster Co., Penn., 1749. Dies at Charleston, S. C., 1815.

TAE PRISONERS OF THE REVOLUTION.

[The History of the American Revolution. 1789.) MAN

ANY circumstances concurred to make the American war par

ticularly calamitous. It was originally a civil war in the estimation of both parties, and a rebellion to its termination, in the opinion of one of them. Unfortunately for mankind doubts have been entertained of the obligatory force of the law of nations in such cases. The refinement of modern ages has stripped war of half its horrors, but the systems of some illiberal men have tended to reproduce the barbarism of Gothic times, by withholding the benefits of that refinement from those who are effecting revolutions. An enlightened philanthropist embraces the whole human race, and inquires not whether an object of distress is or is not an unit of an acknowledged nation. It is sufficient that he is a child of the same common parent, and capable of happiness or misery. The prevalence of such a temper would have greatly lessened the calamities of the American war, but while from contracted policy, unfortunate captives were considered as not entitled to the treatment of prisoners, they were often doomed without being guilty, to suffer the punishment due to criminals.

The first American prisoners were taken on the 17th of June, 1775. These were thrown indiscriminately into the jail at Boston, without any consideration of their rank. Gen. Washington wrote to Gen. Gage on this subject, to which the latter answered by asserting that the prisoners had been treated with care and kindness, though indiscriminately “as he acknowledged no rank that was not derived from the King." To which Gen. Washington replied: “You affect, sir, to despise all rank not derived

from the same source with your own; I cannot conceive one more honorable than that which flows from the uncorrupted choice of a brave and free people, the purest source and original fountain of all power.”

The capture of Gen. Lee proved calamitous to several individuals. Six Hessian field officers were offered in exchange for him, but this was refused. It was said by the British, that Lee was a deserter from their service, and as such could not expect the indulgences usually given to prisoners of war. The Americans replied, that as he had resigned his British commission previously to his accepting one from the Americans, he could not be considered as a deserter. He was nevertheless confined, watched, and guarded. Congress thereupon resolved, that Gen. Washington be directed to inform Gen. Howe, that should the proffered exchange of Gen. Lee for six field officers not be accepted, and the treatment of him as above mentioned be continued, the principles of retaliation should occasion five of the said Hessian field officers, together with Lt.Col. Archibald Campbell to be detained, in order that the said treatment which Gen. Lee received should be exactly inflicted on their persons. The Campbell thus designated as the subject of retaliation was a humane man, and a meritorious officer, who had been captured by some of the Massachusetts privateers near Boston, to which, from the want of information, he was proceeding soon after the British had evacuated it. The above act of Congress was forwarded to Massachusetts, with a request that they would detain Lt.-Col. Campbell and keep him in safe custody till the further order of Congress. The council of Massachusetts exceeded this request, and sent him to Concord jail, where he was lodged in a gloomy dungeon of twelve or thirteen feet square. The attendance of a single servant on his person was denied him, and every visit from a friend refused.

The prisoners captured by Sir William Howe, in 1776, amounted to many hundreds. The officers were admitted to parole, and had some waste houses assigned to them as quarters; but the privates were shut up in the coldest season of the year in churches, sugar-houses, and such like large open buildings. The severity of the weather, and the rigor of their treatment, occasioned the death of many hundreds of these unfortunate men. The filth of the places of their confinement, in consequence of fluxes which prevailed among them, was both offensive and dangerous. Seven dead bodies have been seen in one building, at one time, and all lying in a situation shocking to humanity. The provisions served out to them were deficient in quantity, and of an unwholesome quality. These suffering prisoners were generally pressed to enter into the British service, but hundreds submitted to death rather than procure a melioration of their circumstances by enlisting with the enemies of their country. After Gen. Washington's successes at Trenton and Princeton,

« PreviousContinue »