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Full text of "Recollections of a lifetime, or, Men and things I have seen : in a series of familiar letters to a friend, historical, biographical, anecdotal and descriptive"



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RECOLLECTIONS 



OR 



MEN AND THINGS I HAVE SEEN: 



A SERIES OF 



FAMILIAR LETTERS TO A FRIEND, 

HISTORICAL, BIOGRAPHICAL, ANECDOTICAL, AND 
DESCRIPTIVE. 



BY S. G" GOODRICH. 



VOL. I. 



NEW YOKE : 

C. M. SAXTON, 25 PARK ROW. 
1859. 



Entered according to Act of Congress, In the year 185*, 

By 8. G. GOODRICH, 

Tn the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern 
District of New York. 



C. A. ALVORD, PKIHTU, 

No. 15 Vandewater Street, N. Y. 



PREFATORY NOTE. 



THE first Letter in the ensuing pages will 
inform the reader as to the origin of these vol 
umes, and the leading ideas of the author in 
writing them. It is necessary to state, how 
ever, that although the work was begun two 
years since as indicated by the date of the 
first of these Letters, and while the author 
was residing abroad a considerable portion 
of it has been written within the last year, 
and since his return to America. This state 
ment is necessary, in order to explain several 
passages which will be found scattered through 
its pages. 

NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER, 1856. 



ENGRAVINGS. 



VOL. I. 
PORTRAIT OF THE AUTHOR Frontispiece 

From the Medallion presented to him by the American citizens in Paris, 

on steel, engraved by Bitch le. 

PAGE 

AUNT DELIGHT 36 

MAKING MAPLE SCGAB 68 

WHITTLING 94 

CATCHING PIGEONS 100 

How ARE YOU, PRIEST ? How ARE YOU, DEMOCRAT ? 180 

THE JERKING EXERCISE 202 

DEACON OLMSTEAD 222 

GRACE INGERSOLL AT THE COURT OF NAPOEEON 260 

THE HERMTTESS 294 

FIEST ADVENTURE UPON THE SEA 342 

THE COLD FRIDAY 894 

PEACE! PEACE!... .. 504 



VOL. II. 

GEORGE CABOT 86 

EMIGRATION IN 1817 80 

PERCIVAL 182 

BRAINARD WRITING " FALL OF NIAGARA" 148 

SIR WALTER SCOTT, CLERK OF THE COURT OF SESSIONS 176 

EDINBURGH 180 

ENGLAND 214 

BYRON'S COFFIN 250 

THESE ARE GOD'S SPELLING-BOOK 810 

THE STUDENT 484 

VIEW lie PABB 502 

HOME . . 526 



CONTENTS. 



LETTER I. 
Introductory and explanatory 9 

LETTER IL 

Geography and chronology The old brown house Grandfathers 
Ridgefield The meeting-house Parson Mead Keeler's tavern 
Lieutenant Smith The cannon-ball 15 

LETTER III. 

The first remembered event High Ridge The spy-glass Sea and 
Mountain The peel The black patch in the road 24 

LETTER IV. 

Education in New England The burial-ground of the suicide West 
Lane Old Chichester The school-house The first day at school 
Aunt Delight Lewis Olmstead A return after twenty years Peter 
Parley and Mother Goose 80 

LETTER V. 

The joyous nature of childhood Drawbacks The small-pox The pest- 
house Our house a hospital Inoculation The force of early impres 
sions Rogers' Pleasures of Memory My first whistle My sister's 
recollections of a Sunday afternoon The song of Kalewala Poetic 
-character of early life Obligations to make childhood happy 41 

LETTER VL 

The inner life of towns Physical aspect and character of Ridgefield 
Effects of cultivation upon climate Energetic character of the first 
settlers of Ridgefield Classes of the people as to descent Their oc 
cupations Newspapers Position of my father's family Management 
of the farm Domestic economy, <fec 56 

LETTER VIL 

Domestic habits of the people Meals Servants and masters Dress 
Amusements Festivals Marriages Funerals Dancing Winter 
Sports Up and down My two grandmothers 88 



6 CONTENTS. 

LETTER VIIL 

Interest in mechanical devices Agriculture My parents design me for 
A carpenter The dawn of the age of invention Fulton, &c. Per 
petual motion Whittling Gentlemen St. Paul, King Alfred, Dan 
iel Webster, &c. Desire of improvement, a New England character 
isticHunting The bow and arrow The fowling-piece Pigeons 
Anecdote of Parson M.... Audubon and Wilson The passenger 
pigeon Sporting rambles The blacksnake and screech-owl Fishing 
Advantages of country life and country training 90 

LETTER IX. 

Death of Washington Jefferson and democracy Ridgefield the great 
thoroughfare between New York and Boston Jerome Bonaparte and 
his young wife Oliver Wolcott, Governor Treadwell, and Deacon 
Olmstead Inauguration of Jefferson Jerry Mead and Ensign Kecler 
Democracy and federalism Charter of Charles II. Elizur Good 
rich, Deacon Bishop, and President Jefferson Abraham Bishop and 
" about enough democracy" 106 

LETTER X. 

How people traveled fifty years ago Timothy Pickering Manners along 
the road Jefferson and shoe-strings Mr. Priest and Mr. Democrat 
Barbers at Washington James Madison and the queue Winter 
and sleighing Comfortable meeting-houses The stove-party and the 
anti-stove party The first chaise built in Ridgefield 126 

LETTER XL 

Up-town and Down-town East End and West End Master Stebbins 
A model schoolmaster The school-house Administration of the 
school Zeek Sanford School-books Arithmetic History Gram 
marAnecdote of G. ... H Country schools of New England 

in these days Master Stebbias's scholars 188 

LETTER XIL 

Horsemanship Bige Benedict A dead shot A race Academical hon 
ors Charles Chatterbox My father's school My exercises in Latin 
Tityre tu patulse, etc. Rambles Literary aspirations My mother 
Family worship Standing and kneeling at prayer Anecdotes Our 
Philistine temple 147 

LETTER XIIL 

My father's library Children's books The New England Primer and 
Westminster Catechism Toy books Nursery books Moral effect of 
these Hannah More's Moral Repository The Shepherd of Salisbury 
Plain Visit to Barley-wood First idea of the Parley books Impres 
sions of big books and little books 164 



CONTENTS. 7 

LETTER XIV. 

fhe clergymen of Fairfleld county Their character and manners An 
ecdote of the laughing D. D. The coming storm 175 

LETTER XV. 

Ideas of the Pilgrim Fathers Progress of toleration Episcopacy Bish 
op Seabury Dr. Duche Methodism in America In Connecticut 
Anecdotes Lorenzo Dow The wolf in my father's fold 186 

LETTER XVL 
The three deacons 218 

LETTER XVIL 

The federalist and the democrat Colonel Bradley and General King 
Comparison of New England with European villages 229 

LETTER XVIII. 

The Ingersolls Eev. Jonathan Ingersoll Lieutenant-governor Inger- 
soll New Haven belles A chivalrous Virginian among the Conrec- 
ticut D. D.'s Grace Ingersoll A New Haven girl at Napoleon's Court 
Keal romance A Puritan in a convent 248 

LETTER XIX. 

Mat Olmstead, the town wit The Salamander hat The great eclipse 
Sharp logic Lieutenant Smith, the town philosopher The purchase 
of Louisiana Lewis and Clarke's exploring expedition The great 
meteor Hamilton and Burr The Leopard and the Chesapeake Ful 
ton's steamboats Granthcr Baldwin Sarah Bishop 265 

LETTER XX. 

A long fatewell A return Kidgefield as it is The past and present 
compared 299 

LETTER XXI. 

Farewell to Eidgefield Farewell to home Danbtiry My new vocation 
A revolutionary patriarch Life in a country store Homesickness 
My brother-in-law Lawyer Hatch 323 

LETTER XXII. 

Visit to New Haven The city Yale Colleg* My uncle's house John 
Allen First sail on the sea The Court-house Dr. Dwight Pro 
fessor Silliman Chemistry, mineralogy, geology Anecdote of Colo 
nel Gibbs Eli Whitney The cotton-gin The gun-factory 888 

LETTER XXIIL 

Durham History of Connecticut Distinguished families of Durham 
The Chaunceys, Wadsworths, Lymans, Austins Woodbury How 
romance becomes history Kev. Noah Benedict Judge Smith . . 868 



8 CONTENTS. 

LETTER XXIV. 

Thd euid winter and a sharp ride Description of Danbury The hat 
manufactory The Sandimanians Gen. Wooster's monument Death 
of my brother-in-law Master W bite Mathematics 898 

LETTER XXV. 

Farewell to Danbury Hartford My first master and his family Me 
rino sheep A wind-up Another change My new employer A new 
era in life George Sheldon Franklin's biography 408 

LETTER XXVI. 

My situation under my new master Discontent Humiliating discove 
ries Desire to quit trade and go to college Undertake to re-educate 
myself A long struggle Partial success Infidelity The world with 
out a God Return after long wanderings 417 

LETTER XXVH. 

Hurtford forty years ago The Hartford wits Hartford at the present 
time The declaration of war in 1812 Baltimore riote Feeling in 
New England Embargo Non-intercourse, &c. Democratic doc 
trine that opposition is treason 485 

LETTER XXVHL 

Specks of war in the atmosphere The first year Operations on land 
and water The wickedness of the federalists The second year The 
Connecticut militia Decatur driven into the Thames Connecticut 
in trouble I become a soldier My first and last campaign 451 

LETTER XXIX. 

Description of New London Fort Trumbull Fort Griswold The Brit 
ish fleet Decatur and his ships in the Thames Commodore Hardy 
On guard A suspicious customer Alarm, alarm ! Influence of 
camp life Return to Hartford Land-warrants Blue-lights Deca 
tur, Biddle, and Jones 466 

LETTER XXX. 

Continuation of the war Tb^ Creeks subdued Battles of Chippewaand 
Bridgewater Capture of Washington Bladensburg races Scarcity 
of money Rag money Bankruptcy of the national treasury The 
specie bank-note, or Mr. Sharp and Mr. Sharper Universal gloom 
State of New England Anxiety of the Administration Their instruc 
tions to the Peace Commissioners Battle of New Orleans Peace 
Illuminations and rejoicings 



APPENDIX ..T.. 515 



RECOLLECTIONS OF A LIFETIME, 

IN A SERIES OF 

FAMILIAR LETTEES TO A FRIEND. 



LETTER I, 

Introductory and Explanatory. 
MY DEAR C****** 

A little thin sheet of paper, with a frail wafer 
seal, and inscribed with various hieroglyphical sym 
bols, among which I see the postmark of Albany, 
has just been laid upon my table. I have opened it, 
and find it to be a second letter from you. Think 
of the pilgrimage of this innocent waif, unprotected 
save by faith in man and the mail, setting out upon a 
voyage from the banks of the Hudson, and coming 
straight to me at Courbevoie, just without the walls 
of Paris, a distance of three thousand miles ! 

And yet this miracle is wrought every day, every 
hour. I am lingering here, partly because I have 
taken a lease of a house and furnished it, and there- 
lure I can not well afford to leave it at present. I 
am pursuing my literary labors, and such are the fa- 

1* 



10 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

cilities of intercourse, by means of these little red- 
lipped messengers, like this I have just received 
from you, that I can almost as well prosecute my 
labors here as at home. Could I get rid of all those 
associations which bind a man to his birth-land ; 
could I appease that consciousness which whispers in 
my ear, that the allegiance of every true man, free to 
follow his choice, is due to his country and his kin 
dred, I might perhaps continue here for the remain 
der of my life. 

My little pavilion, situated upon an elevated slope 
formed of the upper bank of the Seine, gives me 
a view of the unrivaled valley that winds between 
Saint Cloud and Asnieres ; it shows me Paris in the 
near distance Montmartre to the left, and the Arch 
of Triumph to the right. In the rear, close at hand, 
is our suburban village, having the aspect of a little 
withered city. Around are several chateaus, and from 
the terraced roof of my house which is arranged for 
a promenade I can look into their gardens and pleas 
ure-grounds, sparkling with fountains and glowing 
with fruits and flowers. A walk of a few rods brings 
me to the bank of the Seine, where boatmen are ever 
ready to give the pleasure-seeker a row or a sail ; in 
ten minutes by rail, or an hour on foot, I can be in 
Paris. In about the same time I may be sauntering 
in the Avenue de Neuilly, the Bois de Boulogne, or 
the galleries of Versailles. My rent is but about four 
hundred dollars a year, with the freedom of the gar- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 11 

dens and grounds of the chateau, of which my resi 
dence is an appendage. It is the nature of this cli 
mate to bring no excessive cold and no extreme heat. 
You may sit upon the grass till midnight of a summer 
evening, and fear no chills or fever ; no troops of flies, 
instinctively knowing your weak point, settle upon 
your nose and disturb your morning nap or your 
afternoon siesta ; no elvish mosquitoes invade the 
sanctity of your sleep, and force you to listen to their 
detestable serenade, and then make you pay for it, as 
if you had ordered the entertainment. If there be a 
place on earth combining economy and comfort 
where one may be quiet, and yet in the very midst of 
life it is here. Why, then, should I not remain ? 
In one word, because I would rather be at home. This 
is, indeed, a charming country, but it is not mine. I 
could never reconcile myself to the idea of spending 
my life in a foreign land. 

I am therefore preparing to return to New York 
the next summer, with the intention of making that 
city .my permanent residence. In the mean time, I 
am not idle, for, as you know, the needs of my fam 
ily require me to continue grinding at the mill. Be 
sides one or two other trifling engagements, I have 
actually determined upon carrying out your suggestion, 
that I should write a memoir of my life and times 
a panorama of my observations and experience. You 
encourage me with the idea that an account of my 
life, common -place as it has been, will find readers, 



12 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

and at the same time, your recommendation naturally 
suggests a form in which this may be given to the 
public, divested of the air of egotism which gener 
ally belongs to autobiography. I may write my his 
tory in the form of letters to you, and thus tell a 
familiar story in a familiar way to an old friend. 

I take due note of what you recommend that I 
should make my work essentially a personal narra 
tive. You suggest that so long as the great study 
of mankind is man, so long any life supposing it to 
be not positively vicious if truly and frankly por 
trayed, will prove amusing, perhaps instructive. I 
admit the force of this, and it has its due influence 
upon me ; but still I shall not make my book, either 
wholly or mainly, a personal memoir. I have no 
grudges to gratify, no by-blows to give, no apologies 
to make, no explanations to offer at least none 
which could reasonably find place in a work like 
this. I have no ambition which could be subserved 
by a publication of a merely personal nature : to con 
fess the truth, I should rather feel a sense of humilia 
tion at appearing thus in print, as it would inevitably 
suggest the idea of pretense beyond performance. 

What I propose is this : venturing to presume upon 
your sympathy thus far, I invite you to go with me, 
in imagination, over the principal scenes I have wit 
nessed, while I endeavor to make you share in the im 
pressions they produced upon my own mind. Thus 
I shall carry you back to my early days, to my native 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 

village, the " sweet Auburn" of-my young fancy, and 
present to you the homely country life in which I 
was born and bred. Those pastoral scenes were epics 
to my childhood ; and though the heroes and hero 
ines consisted mainly of the deacons . of my father's 
church and the school-ma'ams that taught me to read 
and write, I shall still hope to inspire you with a por 
tion of the loving reverence with which I regard their 
memories. I shall endeavor to interest you in some 
of the household customs of our New England coun 
try life, fifty years ago, when the Adams delved and 
the Eves span, and thought it no stain upon their 
gentility. I shall let you into the intimacy of my 
boyhood, and permit you to witness my failures as 
well as my triumphs. In this the first stage of my 
career, I shall rely upon your good nature, in per 
mitting me to tell my story in my own way. If I 
make these early scenes and incidents the themes of 
a little moralizing, I hope for your indulgence. 

From this period, as the horizon of my experience 
becomes somewhat enlarged, I may hope to interest 
you in the topics that naturally come under review. 
As you are well acquainted with the outline of my life, 
I do not deem it necessary to forewarn you that my 
history presents little that is out of the beaten track of 
common experience. I have no marvels to tell, no 
secrets to unfold, no riddles to solve. It is true 
that in the course of a long and busy career, I have 
seen a variety of men and things, and had my share 



14 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

of vicissitudes in the shifting drama of life ; still the 
interest of my story must depend less upon the im 
portance of my revelations than the sympathy which 
naturally belongs to a personal narrative. I am per 
fectly aware that in regard to many of the events I 
shall have occasion to describe, many of the scenes I 
shall portray, many of the characters I shall bring 
upon the stage, my connection was only that of a 
spectator; nevertheless, I shall hope to impart to 
them a certain life and reality by arranging them 
continuously upon the thread of my remembrances. 

This, then, is my preface ; as the wind and weather 
of my humor shall favor, I intend to proceed and 
send you letter by letter as I write. After a few spe 
cimens, I shall ask your opinion ; if favorable, I shall 
go on, if otherwise, I shall abandon the enterprise. 
I am determined, if I publish the work, to make you 
responsible for my success before the public. 

S. G. GOODRICH. 

OOURBEVOIE, NEAR PARIS, JUNE, 1864. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 15 



LETTER II. 

Geography and Chronology The Old Brown House Grandfathers 
Ridgefield The Meeting-House Parson Mead Keeper's Tavern Lieu 
tenant Smith The Cannon-Sail. 

MY DEAR 0****** 

It is said that geography and chronology are 
the two eyes of history : hence, I suppose that in any 
narrative which pretends to be in some degree histor 
ical, the when and where, as well as the how. should 
be distinctly presented. I am aware that a large part 
of mankind are wholly deficient in the bump of lo 
cality, and march through the world in utter indiffer 
ence as to whether they are going north or south, 
east or west. With these, the sun may rise and set as 
it pleases, at any point of the compass ; but for my 
self, I could never be happy, even in my bedroom 
or study, without knowing which way was north. 
You will expect, therefore, that in beginning my 
story, I make you distinctly acquainted with the 
place where I was born, as well as the objects which 
immediately surrounded it. If, indeed, throughout 
my narrative, I habitually regard geography and 
chronology as essential elements of a story, you will 
at least understand that it is done by design and not 
by accident. 

In the western part of the State of Connecticut, is 



1(1 LKTTKKS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

a small town by the name of Ridgefield.* This title 
is descriptive, and indicates the general form and po 
sition of the place. It is, in fact, a collection of hills, 
rolled into one general and commanding elevation. 
On the west is a ridge of mountains, forming the 
boundary between the States of Connecticut and New 
York ; to the south the land spreads out in wooded 
undulations to Long Island Sound ; east and north, a 
succession of hills, some rising up against the sky, and 
others fading away in the distance, bound the horizon. 
In this town, in an antiquated and rather dilapidated 
house of shingles and clapboards, I was born on the 
19th of August, 1793. 

My father, Samuel Goodrich, was minister of the 
First Congregational Church of that place, there be 
ing then, no other religious society and no other cler 
gyman in the town, except at Ridgebury the remote 
northern section, which was a separate parish. He 
was the son of Elizur Goodrich, f a distinguished min 
ister of the same persuasion, at Durham, Connecticut. 
Two of his brothers were men of eminence the late 
Chauncey Goodrich of Hartford, and Elizur Goodrich 
of New Haven. My mother was a daughter of John 
Ely,^: a physician of Saybrook, whose name figures 
not unworthily in the annals of the revolutionary 
war. 

I was the sixth child of a family of ten children, 

Se Note I., p. 515. fSee Note II., p. 528. JSee Note III., p. 533. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 17 

two of whom died in infancy, and eight of whom 
lived to be married and settled in life. All but two 
of the latter are still living. My father's annual salary 
for the first twenty-five years, and during his minis 
try at Eidgefield, averaged 120, old currency that 
is, about four hundred dollars a year : the last twenty- 
five years, during which he was settled at Berlin, near 
Hartford, his stipend was about five hundred dollars a 
year. He was wholly without patrimony, and owing 
to peculiar circumstances, which will be hereafter ex 
plained, my mother had not even the ordinary outfit, 
as they began their married life. Yet they so brought 
up their family of eight children, that they all attained 
respectable positions in life, and at my father's death, 
he left an estate of four thousand dollars.* These 
facts throw light upon the simple annals of a country 
clergyman in Connecticut, half a century ago ; they 
also bear testimony to the thrifty energy and wise fru 
gality of my parents, and especially of my mother, 
who was the guardian deity of the household. 

Eidgefieldf belongs to the county of Fairfield, and is 
now a handsome town, as well on account of its arti 
ficial as its natural advantages with some 2000 in 
habitants. It is fourteen miles from Long Island 
Sound' of which its many swelling hills afford charm- 



* One thousand of this was received, a short time before the death of 
my parents, for the revolutionary services of my maternal grandfather. 

t For an account of the present condition of Eidgefield, see letter to 
C. A. Goodrich, page 300. 



18 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

ing views. The main street is a mile in length, and 
is now embellished with several handsome houses. 
About the middle of it there is, or was, some forty 
years ago, a white wooden meeting-house, which be 
longed to my father's congregation. It stood in a 
small grassy square, the favorite pasture of numerous 
flocks of geese, and the frequent playground of school 
boys, especially of Saturday afternoons. Close by the 
front door ran the public road, and the pulpit, facing 
it, looked out upon it, in fair summer Sundays, as I 
well remember by a somewhat amusing incident. 

In the contiguous town of Lower Salem, dwelt an 
aged minister by the name of Mead. He was all his 
life marked with eccentricity, and about these days 
of which I speak, his mind was rendered yet more 
erratic by a touch of paralysis. He was, however, 
still able to preach, and on a certain Sunday, having 
exchanged with my father, he was in the pulpit and 
engaged in making his opening prayer. He had 

already begun his invocation, when David P , 

who was the Jehu of that generation, dashed by 
the front door, upon a horse a clever animal of 
which he was but too proud in a full, round trot. 
The echo of the clattering hoofs filled the church, 
which being of shingles and clapboards was sono 
rous as a drum and arrested the attention as well of 
the minister as the congregation, even before the 
rider had reached it. The minister was fond of horses 
almost tc frailty and from the first, his practiced 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 19 

ear perceived that the sounds caine from a beast of 
bottom. When the animal shot by the door, he could 
not restrain his admiration, which was accordingly 
thrust into the very marrow of his prayer : " We pray 
thee, O Lord, in a particular and peculiar manner 
that's a real smart critter to forgive us our manifold 
trespasses, in a particular and peculiar manner," &c. 

I have somewhere heard of a traveler on horseback, 
who, just at eventide, being uncertain of his road, 
inquired of a person he chanced to meet, the way to 
Barkhamstead. 

"You are in Barkhamstead now," was the reply. 

" Yes, but where is the center of the place?" 

" It hasn't got any center." 

" Well but direct me to the tavern." 

" There ain't any tavern." 

"Yes, but the meeting-house?" 

"Why didn't you ask that afore? There it is, 
over the hill !" 

So, in those days, in Connecticut as doubtless in 
other parts of New England the meeting-house was 
the great geographical monument, the acknowledged 
meridian of every town and village. Even a place 
without a center or a tavern, had its house of worship, 
and this was its initial point of reckoning. It was, 
indeed, something more. It was the town-hall, where 
all public meetings were held, for civil purposes ; it 
was the temple of religion, the ark of the covenant, 
the pillar of society religious, social, and moral 



20 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

to the people around. It will not be considered 
strange then, if I look back to the meeting-house of 
Ridgefield, as not only a most revered edifice cov 
ered with clapboards and shingles, though it was but 
as in some sense the starting point of my existence. 
Here, at least, linger many of my most cherished re 
membrances. 

A few rods to the south of this, there was, and still 
is, a tavern, kept in my day, by Squire Keeler. This 
institution ranked second only to the meeting-house ; 
for the tavern of those days was generally the center 
of news, and the gathering place for balls, musical 
entertainments, public shows, &c. ; and this particular 
tavern had special claims to notice. It was, in the 
first place, on the great thoroughfare of that day, be 
tween Boston and New York, and had become a gen 
eral and favorite stopping-place for travelers. It was, 
moreover, kept by a hearty old gentleman, who united 
in his single person the varied functions of publican, 
postmaster, representative, justice of the peace, and 
I know not what else. He besides had a thrifty 
wife, whose praise was in all the land. She loved 
her customers, especially members of Congress, gov 
ernors, and others in authority, who wore powder 
and white-top boots, and who migrated to and fro, in 
the lofty leisure of their own coaches. She was in 
deed a woman of mark, and her life has its moral. 
She scoured and scrubbed and kept things going, 
until she was seventy years old, at which time, du- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 21 

ring an epidemic, she was threatened with an attack. 
She, however, declared that she had not time to be 
sick, and kept on working, so that the disease passed 
her by, though it made sad havoc all around her 
especially with more dainty dames, who had leisure 
to follow the fashion. 

Besides all this, there was an historical interest at 
tached to Keeler's tavern, for deeply imbedded in the 
northeastern corner-post, there was a cannon-ball, 
planted there during the famous fight with the Brit 
ish in 1777 . It was one of the chief historical mon 
uments of the town, and was visited by all curious 
travelers who came that way.* Little can the pres 
ent generation imagine with what glowing interest, 
what ecstatic wonder, what big round eyes, the rising 
generation of Kidgefield, half a century ago, listened 
to the account of the fight as given by Lieutenant 
Smith, himself a witness of the event and a participa 
tor of the conflict, sword in hand. 

This personage, whom I shall have occasion again 
to introduce to my readers, was, in my time, a justice 



* Keeler's tavern appears to have received several cannon-shots 
from the British as they marched through the street, these being; direct 
ed against a group of Americans who had gathered there. A cannon- 
ball came crashing through the building, and crossed a staircase just 
as a man was ascending the steps. The noise and the splinters over 
came him with fright, and he tumbled to the bottom, exclaiming 
" I'm killed, I'm a dead man !" After a time, however, he discovered 
that he was unhurt, and thereupon he scampered away, and did not 
Btop till he was safe in the adjoining town of Wilton. 



22 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

of the peace, town librarian, and general oracle in 
auch loose matters as geography, history, and law 
then about as uncertain and unsettled in Kidgefield, 
as is now the fate of Sir John Franklin, or the 
longitude of Lilliput. He had a long, lean face; 
long, lank, silvery hair, and an unctuous, whining 
voice. With these advantages, he spoke with the 
authority of a seer, and especially in all things re 
lating to the revolutionary war. 

The agitating scenes of that event, so really great 
in itself, so unspeakably important to the country, 
had transpired some five and twenty years before. 
The existing generation of middle age, had all wit 
nessed it; nearly all had shared in its vicissitudes. 
On every hand there were corporals, sergeants, lieu 
tenants, captains, and colonels no strutting fops in 
militia buckram, raw blue and buff, all fuss and feath 
ers but soldiers, men who had seen service and won 
laurels in the tented field. Every old man, every 
old woman had stories to tell, radiant with the vivid 
realities of personal observation or experience. Some 
had seen Washington, and some Old Put ; one was 
at the capture of Ticonderoga under Ethan Allen ; 
another was at Bennington, and actually heard old 
Stark say, " Victory this day, or my wife Molly is a 
widow !" Some were at the taking of Stony Point, 
and others in the sanguinary struggle of Mon mouth. 
One had witnessed the execution of Andre, and an 
other had been present at the capture of Burgoyne. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 23 

The time which had elapsed since these events, had 
served only to magnify and glorify these scenes, as 
well as the actors, especially in the imagination of 
the rising generation. If perchance we could now 
dig up, and galvanize into life, a contemporary of 
Julius Caesar, who was present and saw him cross the 
Eubicon, and could tell us how he looked and what 
he said we should listen with somewhat of the 
greedy wonder with which the boys of Ridgefield list 
ened to Lieutenant Smith, when of a Saturday after 
noon, seated on the stoop of Keeler's tavern, he dis 
coursed upon the discovery of America by Columbus, 
Braddock's defeat, and the old French war the latter 
a real epic, embellished with romantic episodes of In 
dian massacres and captivities. When he came to 
the Revolution, and spoke of the fight at Ridgefield, 
and punctuated his discourse with a present cannon- 
ball, sunk six inches deep in a corner-post of the very 
house in which we sat, you may well believe it was 
something more than words it was, indeed; " action, 
action, glorious action !" How little can people nowa 
days with curiosity trampled down by the march of 
mind and the schoolmaster abroad comprehend or 
appreciate these things ! 



24 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 



LETTER III, 

The first Remembered Eventr-ffigh Ridge The Spy-glass Sea and . 
Mountain The Peel The Black Patch in the road. 

MY DEAR 0****** 

You will perhaps forgive me for a little circum 
locution, in the outset of my story. My desire is to 
carry you with me in my narrative, and make you 
see in imagination, what I have seen. This naturally 
requires a little effort like that of the bird in rising 
from the ground, which turns his wing first to the 
right and then to the left, vigorously beating the at 
mosphere, in order to overcome the gravity which 
weighs the body down to earth, ere yet it feels the 
quickening impulse of a conscious launch upon the 
air. 

My memory goes distinctly back to the year 1797, 
when I was four years old. At that time a great 
event happened great in the near and narrow hori 
zon of childhood : we removed from the Old House 
to the New House ! This latter, situated on a road 
tending westward and branching from the main 
street, my father had just built ; and it then appeared 
to me quite a stately mansion and very beautiful, in 
asmuch as it was painted red behind and white in 
front most of the dwellings thereabouts being of 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 25 

the dun complexion which pine-boards and chestnut- 
shingles assume, from exposure to the weather. Long 
after having been absent twenty years I revisited 
this my early home, and found it shrunk into a very 
small and ordinary two-story dwelling, wholly di 
vested of its paint, and scarcely thirty feet square. 

This building, apart from all other dwellings, was 
situated on what is called High Ridge a long hill, 
looking down upon the village, and commanding an 
extensive view of the surrounding country. From 
our upper windows, this was at once beautiful and 
diversified. On the south, as I have said, the hills 
sloped in a sea of undulations down to Long Island 
Sound, a distance of some fourteen miles. This beau 
tiful sheet of water, like a strip of pale sky, with the 
island itself, more deeply tinted, beyond, was visible 
in fair weather, for a stretch of sixty miles, to the 
naked eye. The vessels even the smaller ones, 
sloops, schooners, and fishing craft could be seen, 
creeping like insects over the surface. With a spy 
glass and my father had one bequeathed to him by 
Nathan Kellogg, a sailor, who made rather a rough 
voyage of life, but anchored at last in the bosom 
of the church, as this bequest intimates we could 
see the masts, sails, and rigging. It was a poor, 
dim affair, compared with modern instruments of 
the kind; but to me, its revelations of an element 
which then seemed as beautiful, as remote, and as 
mystical as the heavens, surpassed the wondera ot 

VOL. I. 2 



26 LETfERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

the firmament as since disclosed to my mind by Lord 
Rosses telescope. 

To the west, at the distance of three miles, lay the 
undulating ridge of hills, cliffs, and precipices already 
mentioned, and which bear the name of West Moun 
tain. They are some five hundred feet in height, and 
from our point of view had an imposing appearance. 
Beyond them, in the far distance, glimmered the 
ghost-like peaks of the Highlands along the Hudson. 
These two prominent features of the spreading land 
scape the sea and the mountain, ever present, yet 
ever remote impressed themselves on my young 
imagination with all the enchantment which distance 
lends to the view. I have never lost my first love. 
Never, even now, do I catch a glimpse of either of 
these two rivals of nature, such as I first learned 
them by heart, but I feel a gush of emotion as if I had 
suddenly met with the cherished companions of my 
childhood. In after days, even the purple velvet of 
the Apennines and the poetic azure of the Mediter 
ranean, have derived additional beauty to my imagi 
nation from mingling with these vivid associations of 
my childhood. 

It was to the New House, then, thus situated, that 
we removed, as I have stated, when I was four years 
old. On that great occasion, every thing available 
for draft or burden was put in requisition ; and I was 
permitted, or required, I forget which, to carry the 
peel as it was then called, but which would now bear 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDO'lICAL, ETC. 27 

the title of shovel. Birmingham had not then been 
heard of in those parts, or at least was a great way 
off; so this particular utensil had been forged ex 
pressly for my father by David Olmstead, the black 
smith, as was the custom in those days. I recollect 
it well, and can state that it was a sturdy piece of 
iron, the handle being four feet long, with a hemi 
spherical knob at the end. As I carried it along, I 
doubtless felt a touch of that consciousness of power, 
which must have filled the breast of Samson as he 
bore oif the gates of Gaza. I recollect perfectly well 
to have perspired under the operation, for the dis 
tance of our migration was half a mile, and the season 
was summer. 

One thing more I remember : I was barefoot ; and 
as we went up the lane which diverged from the 
main road to the house, we passed over a patch of 
earth, blackened by cinders, where my feet were hurt 
by pieces of melted glass and metal. I inquired 
what this meant, and was told that here a house was 
burned down* by the British troops already men- 

* Lossing says, in his Field Book, p. 409, vol. i. : "Having repulsed 
the Americans, Tryon's army encamped upon high ground, about a mile 
south of the Congregational church in Kidgefield, until daylight the next 
morning, when they resumed their march toward Norwalk and Compo, 
through Wilton. Four dwellings were burned in Eidgefield, and other 
private property was destroyed, when the marauders struck their 
tents." 

The "high ground" here spoken of was High Eidge, the precise spot 
where the house I have described, stood. Doubtless the vestiges here 
mentioned were those of one of the four houses alluded to. 



28 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

tioned and then in full retreat as a signal to the 
ships that awaited them on the Sound where they 
had landed, and where they intended to embark. 

This detail may seem trifling, but it is not without 
significance. It was the custom in those days for 
boys to go barefoot in the mild season. I recollect 
few things in life more delightful than, in the spring, 
to cast away my shoes and stockings, and have 
a glorious scamper over the fields. Many a time, 
contrary to the express injunctions of my mother, 
have I stolen this bliss, and many a time have I been 
punished by a severe cold for my imprudence, if not 
my disobedience. Yet the bliss then seemed a com 
pensation for the retribution. In these exercises I 
felt as if stepping on air as if leaping aloft on wings. 
I was so impressed with the exultant emotions thus 
experienced, that I repeated them a thousand times 
in happy dreams, especially in my younger days. 
Even now, these visions sometimes come to me in 
sleep, though with a lurking consciousness that they 
are but a mockery of the past sad monitors of the 
change which time has wrought upon me. 

As to the black patch in the lane, that too had its 
meaning. The story of a house burned down by a 
foreign army, seized upon my imagination. Every 
time I passed the place, I ruminated upon it, and put 
a hundred questions as to how and when it hap 
pened. I was soon master of the whole story, and of 
other similar events which had occurred all over the 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 29 

country. I was thus initiated into the spirit of that 
day, and which has never wholly subsided in our 
country, inasmuch as the war of the Eevolution was 
alike unjust in its origin, and cruel as to the manner 
in which it was waged. It was, moreover, fought on 
our own soil, thus making the whole people share, 
personally, in its miseries. There was scarcely a 
family In Connecticut whom it did not visit, either 
immediately or remotely, with the shadows of mourn 
ing and desolation. The British nation, to whom 
this conflict was a foreign war, are slow to com 
prehend the depth and universality of the popular 
dislike of England, here in America. Could they 
know the familiar annals of our towns and villages 
burned, plundered, sacked with all the attendant 
horrors, for the avowed purpose of punishing a na 
tion of rebels, and those rebels of their own kith and 
kin; could they be made acquainted with the deeds 
of those twenty thousand Hessians, sent hither by 
King George, and who have left their name in oirr 
language as a word signifying brigands, who sell their 
blood and commit murder, massacre, and rape for 
hire : could they thus read the history of minds and 
hearts, influenced at the fountains of life for several 
generations they would .perhaps comprehend, if 
they could not approve, the habitual distrust of 
British influence, which lingers among our people. 
At least, thus instructed, and bearing in mind what 
has since happened another war with England, in 



30 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 



our own territory was the scene of conflict, to 
gether with the incessant hostility of the British press 
toward our manners, our institutions, our policy, our 
national character, manifested in every form, and 
from the beginning to the end the people of Eng- 
Lind might in some degree comprehend what always 
strikes them with amazemerit, that love of England 
is not largely infused into our national character and 
habits of thought. 



LETTER IV. 

Eivcation in New England The Burial Ground of the Suicide West 
LaneOU GhichesterThe School- House T he First Dai/ at School- 
Aunt Delujld Lewis Olmstead A Return, after Twenty Years Peter 
Parley and Mother Goose. 

MY DKAB 0****** 

The devotion of the New-England people to 
education has been celebrated from time immemorial. 
In this trait of character, Connecticut was not behind 
the foremost of her sister puritans. Now, among the 
traditions of the days to which my narrative refers, 
there was one which set forth that the law of the land 
assigned to persons committing suicide, a burial-place 
where four roads met. I do not recollect that this 
popular notion was ever tested in Ridgefield, for 



HISTORICAL, ANF.CDOTICAL, KTC. 31 

nobody in those innocent days, so far as I know, 
became weary of existence. Be this as it may, it is 
certain that the village school-house was often plant 
ed in the very spot supposed to be the privileged 
graveyard of suicides. The reason is plain enough : 
the roads were always of ample width at the cross 
ings, and the narrowest of these spaces was sufficient 
for the little brown seminaries of learning. At the 
same time and this was doubtless the material point 
the land belonged to the town, and so the site 
would cost nothing. Such were the ideas of village 
education in enlightened New England half a cen 
tury ago. Let those who deny the progress of socie 
ty, compare this with the state of things at the pres 
ent daj r . 

About three-fourths of a mile from my father's 
house, on the winding road to Lower Salem which I 
have already mentioned, and which bore the name of 
AVest Lane, was the school-house where I took my 
first lessons, and received the foundations of my very 
slender education. I have since been sometimes asked 
where I graduated : my reply has always been, " at 
West Lane." Generally speaking, this has ended the 
inquiry, whether because my interlocutors have con 
founded this venerable institution with "Lane Sem 
inary," or have not thought it worth while to risk an 
exposure of their ignorance as to the college in which 
I was educated, I am unable to say. 

The site of the school-house was a triangular piece 



32 LK1TKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

of land, measuring perhaps a rood in extent, and ly 
ing, according to the custom of those days, at the 
meeting of four roads. The ground hereabouts as 
everywhere else in Ridge field was exceedingly sto 
ny, and in making the pathway the stones had been 
thrown out right and left, and there remained in 
1 ii-aps on either side, from generation to generation. 
All around was bleak and desolate. Loose, squat 
stone walls, with innumerable breaches, inclosed the 
adjacent fields. A few tufts of elder, with here and 
there a patch of briers and pokeweed, flourished in 
the gravelly soil. Not a tree, however, remained, 
save an aged chestnut, at the western angle of the 
spncp. This, certainly, had not been spared for 
shade or ornament, but probably because it would 
have cost too much labor to cut it down, for it was 
of ample girth. At all events it was the oasis in our 
desert during summer ; and in autumn, as the burrs 
disclosed its fruit, it resembled a besieged city. The 
boys, like so many catapults, hurled at it stones and 
sticks, until every nut had capitulated. 

Two houses only were at hand : one, surrounded 
by an ample barn, a teeming orchard, and an enor 
mous wood-pile, belonged to Granther Baldwin ; the 
other was the property of " Old Chich-es-ter," an un 
couth, unsocial being, whom everybody for some rea 
son or other seemed to despise and shun. His house 
was of stone and of one story. He had a cow, which 
every year had a calf. He had a wife filthy, un- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 33 

combed, and vaguely reported to have been brought 
from the old country. This is about the whole his 
tory of the man, so far as it is written in the authen 
tic traditions of the parish. His premises, an acre in 
extent, consisted of a tongue of land between two of 
the converging roads. No boy, that I ever heard of, 
ventured to cast a stone, or to make an incursion into 
this territory, though it lay close to the school-house. 
I have often, in passing, peeped timidly over the 
walls, and caught glimpses of a stout man with a 
drab coat, drab breeches, and drab gaiters, glazed 
with ancient grease and long abrasion, prowling about 
the house ; but never did I discover him outside of 
his own dominion. I know it was darkly intimated 
that he had been a tory, and was tarred and feathered 
in the revolutionary war, but as to the rest he was a 
perfect myth. Granther Baldwin was a character no 
less marked, but I must reserve his picture for a 
subsequent letter. 

The school-house itself consisted of rough, unpaint- 
ed clapboards, upon a wooden frame. It was plas 
tered within, and contained two apartments a little 
entry, taken out of a corner for a wardrobe, and the 
school-room proper. The chimney was of stone, and 
pointed with mortar, which, by the way, had been dug 
into a honeycomb by uneasy a'nd enterprising pen 
knives. The fireplace was six feet wide and four feet 
deep. The ilue was so ample and so perpendicular, 

that the rain, sleet, and snow fell direct to the hearth. 

o* 



34 I.KTTERS BIOGItAI'HICAL, 

In winter, the battle for life with green fizzling 
fuel, which was brought in sled lengths and cut up 
by the scholars, was a stern one. Not unfrequently, 
the wood, gushing with sap as it was, chanced to be 
out, and as there was no living without fire, the ther 
mometer being ten or twenty degrees below zero, the 
school was dismissed, whereat all the scholars rejoiced 
aloud, not having the fear of the schoolmaster before 
their eyes. 

It was the custom at this place, to have a woman's 
school in the summer months, and this was attended 
only by young children. It was, in fact, what we 
now call a primary or infant school. In winter, a 
man was employed as teacher, and then the girls and 
boys of the neighborhood, up to the age of eighteen, 
or even twenty, were among the pupils. It was not 
uncommon, at this season, to have forty scholars 
crowded into this little building. 

I was about six years old when I first went to 
school. My teacher was Aunt Delight, that is, De 
light Benedict, a maiden lady of fifty, short and bent, 
of sallow complexion and solemn aspect. I remem 
ber the first day with perfect distinctness. I went 
alone for I was familiar with the road, it being that 
which passed by our old house. I carried a little 
basket, with bread and butter within, for my dinner, 
the same being covered over with a white cloth. 
When I had proceeded about half way, I lifted the 
cover, and debated whether I would not eat niv din- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 35 

ner, then. I believe it was a sense of duty only that 
prevented my doing so, for in those happy days, I 
always had a keen appetite. Bread and butter were 
then infinitely superior to pate de foie gras now; but 
still, thanks to my training, I had also a conscience. 
As my mother had given me the food for dinner, I 
did not think it right to convert it into lunch, even 
though I was strongly tempted. 

I think we had seventeen scholars boys and girls 
mostly of my own age. Among them were some 
of my after companions. I have since met several of 
them one at Savannah, and two at Mobile, respect 
ably established, and with families around them. 
Some remain, and are now among the gray old men 
of the town ; the names of others I have seen inscribed 
on the tombstones of their native village. And the 
rest where are they ? 

The school being organized, we were all seated 
upon benches, made of what were called slabs that 
is. boards having the exterior or rounded part of the 
log on one side : as they were useless for other pur 
poses, these were converted into school-benches, the 
rounded part down. They had each four supports, 
consisting of straddling wooden legs, set into augur- 
holes. Our own legs swayed in the air, for they 
were too short to touch the floor. Oh, what an awe 
fell over me, when we were all seated and silence 
reigned around! 

The children were called IP), one bv one. to Aunt 



;><! I.KTlTiKS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

Delight, who sat on a low chair, and required each, 
as a preliminary, to make his manners, consisting of 
a small sudden nod or jerk of the head. She then 
placed the spelling-book which was Dilworth's be 
fore the pupil, and with a buck-handled penknife 
pointed, one by one, to the letters of the alphabet, 
saying, " What's that ?" If the child knew his letters, 
the "what's that?" very soon ran on thus: 

"What's that?" 

" A." 

'"Stha-a-t?" 

" B." 

"Sna-a-a-t?" 

" C." 

"Sna-a-a-t?" 

"D." 

"Sna-a-a-t?" 

"E." &c. 

I looked upon these operations with intense curi 
osity and no small respect, until my own turn came. 
I went up to the school-mistress with some emotion, 
and when she said, rather spitefully, as I thought, 
"Make your obeisance!" my little intellects all fled 
away, and I did nothing. Having waited a second, 
gazing at me with indignation, she laid her hand on 
the top of my head, and gave it a jerk which made 
my teeth clash. I believe I bit my tongue a little ; 
at all events, my sense of dignity was offended, and 
when she pointed to A, and asked what it was, it 




AUNT DELIGHT. Vol. 1, p. 3G. 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTICAL, ETC. 7 

swam before me dim and hazy, and as big as g Aill 
moon. She repeated the question, but I was dogged 
ly silent. Again, a third time, she said, "What's 
that ?" I replied : " Why don't you tell me what it 
is ? I didn't come here to learn you your letters !" 
I have not the slightest remembrance of this, for my 
brains were all a- woolgathering ; but as Aunt Delight 
affirmed it to be a fact, and it passed into a tradition, 
I put it in. I may have told this story some years 
ago- in one of my books, imputing it to a fictitious 
hero, yet this is its true origin, according to my rec 
ollection. 

What immediately followed I do not clearly remem 
ber, but one result is distinctly traced in my memory. 
In the evening of this eventful day, the school-mistress 
paid my parents a visit, and recounted to their aston 
ished ears this, my awful contempt of authority. My 
father, after hearing the story, got up and went away ; 
but my mother, who was a careful disciplinarian, told 
me not to do so again ! I always had a suspicion 
that both of them smiled on one side of their faces, 
even while they seemed to sympathize with the old 
petticoat and pen-knife pedagogue, on the other ; still 
I do not affirm it, for I am bound to say, of both my 
parents, that I never knew them, even in trifles, say 
one thing while they meant another. 

I believe I achieved the alphabet that summer, but 
my after progress, for a long time, I do not remember. 
Two vears later I went to the winter-school at the 



38 LKTTERS BIOGRAPIIICAT.. 

same place, kept by Lewis Olmstead a man who had 
a call for plowing, mowing, carting manure, &c., in 
summer, and for teaching school in the winter, with 
a talent for music at all seasons, wherefore he became 
chorister upon occasion, when, peradventure, Deacon 
Hawley could not officiate. He was a celebrity in 
ciphering, and 'Squire Seymour declared that he was 
the greatest "arithmeticker" in Fairfield county. All 
I remember of his person is his hand, which seemed 
to me as big as Goliah's, judging by the claps of 
thunder it made in my ears on one or two occa 
sions. 

The next step of my progress which is marked in 
my memory, is the spelling of words of two syllables. 
I did not go very regularly to school, but by the time 
I was ten years old I had learned to write, and had 
made a little progress in arithmetic. There was not 
a grammar, a geography, or a history of any kind in 
the school. Beading, writing, and arithmetic were the 
only things taught, and these very indifferently not 
wholly from the stupidity of the teacher, but because 
he had forty scholars, and the standards of the age re 
quired no more than he performed. I did as well as 
the other scholars, certainly no better. I had excel 
lent health and joyous spirits; in leaping, running, 
and wrestling I had but one superior of my age, and 
that was Stephen Olmstead, a snug-built fellow, small 
er than myself, and who, despite our rivalry, was 
my chosen friend and companion, I seemed to live 



mSTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, ETC. 39 

for play: alas! how the world has changed since I 
have discovered that we live to agonize over study, 

work, care, ambition, disappointment, and then ? 

As I shall not have occasion again, formally, to in 
troduce this seminary into my narrative, I may as 
well close my account of it now. After I had left 
my native town for some twenty years, I returned 
and paid it a visit. Among the monuments that, 
stood high in my memory was the West Lane school - 
house. Unconsciously carrying with me the meas 
ures of childhood, I had supposed it to be at least 
thirty feet square ; how had it dwindled when I 
came to estimate it by the new standards I had 
formed ! It was in all things the same, yet wholly 
changed to me. What I had deemed a respectable 
edifice, as it now stood before me was only a weather- 
beaten little shed, which, upon being measured, I 
found to be less than twenty feet square. It happen 
ed to be a warm, summer day, and I ventured to enter 
the place. I found a girl, some eighteen years old, 
keeping a ma'am school for about twenty scholars, 
some of whom were studying Parley's Geography. 
The mistress was the daughter of one of my school 
mates, and some of the boys and girls were grand 
children of the little brood which gathered under the 
wing of Aunt Delight, when I was an a-b-c-clarian. 
None of them, not even the school- mistress, had ever 
heard of me. The name of my father, as having min 
istered unto the people of Ridgefield in some bygone 



40 LKTTKRS BIOGIMrilJCAL, 

age, was faintly traced in their recollection. As to 
Peter Parley, whose geography they were learning 
they supposed him some decrepit old gentleman hob 
bling about on -a crutch, a long way off, for whom, 
nevertheless, they hfd a certain affection, inasmuch 
as he had made geography into a story-book. The 
frontispiece-picture ^)f the old fellow, with his gouty 
foot in a chair, threatening the boys that if they 
touched his tender toe, he would tell them no more 
stories secured their respect, and placed him among 
the saints in the calendar of their young hearts. 
Well, thought I, if this goes on I may yet rival 
Mother Goose ! 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 4] 



LETTER V, 

The Joyous Nature of Childhood Drawbacks The Small-pox The Pent 
House Our House a Hospital Inoculation, TJie Force of Early Im 
pressions Roger*? Pleasures of Memory My First Whistle My iSV.s-- 
ter's Recollections of a Sunday Afternoon The Song of Kalewala 
Poetic Character of Early Life Obligations to make Childhood Happy 
Beautiful Instinct of Mothers Improvements in the Training of Chil 
dren Suggested 'Example of our Saviour The Family a Divine Insti 
tution Christian Marriage. 

MY DEAR C ****** 

I hope you will not imagine that I am thinking 
too little of your amusement and too much of my 
own, if I stop a few moments to note the lively rec 
ollections. I entertain of the joyousness of my early 
life, and not of mine only, but that of my playmates 
and companions. In looking back to those early 
days, the whole circle of the seasons seems to me 
almost like one unbroken morning of pleasure. 

I was of course subjected to the usual crosses in 
cident to my age those painful and mysterious vis 
itations sent upon children the measles, mumps, 
whooping-cough, and the like usually regarded as 
retributions for the false step of our mother Eve in 
the Garden ; but they have almost passed from my 
memory, as if overflowed and borne away by the 
general drift of happiness which filled my bosom. 
Among these calamities, one monument alone re 
mains the small-pox. It was in the year 1798, as I 



12 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

well remember, that my father's house was converted 
into a hospital, or, as it was then called, a u pest- 
aouse," where, with some dozen other children, I 
was inoculated for this disease, then the scourge and 
terror of the world. 

It will be remembered that Jenner published his 
first memoir upon vaccination about this period, but 
his discoveries were generally repudiated as mere 
charlatanism, for some time after. There were regu 
lar small-pox hospitals in different parts of New Eng 
land, usually in isolated situations, so as not to risk 
dissemination of the dreaded infection. One of these, 
and quite the most celebrated of its time, had been 
established by my maternal grandfather upon Duck 
Island, lying off the present town of West Brook 
then called Pochaug in Long Island Sound; but it 
had been destroyed by the British during the Revolu 
tion, and was never revived. There was one upon the 
northern shore of Long Island, and doubtless many 
others ; but as it was often inconvenient to send chil 
dren to these places, several families would unite and 
convert one house, favorably situated, into a tempo 
rary hospital, for the inoculation of such as needed 
it. It was in* pursuance of this custom that our hab- 
ita:ion was selected, on the present occasion, as the 
scene of this somewhat awful process. 

There were many circumstances which contributed 
to impress this event upon my mind. In the first 
place, there was a sort of popular horror of the " pest- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 43 

house," not merely because of the virulent nature of 
small-pox, but because of a common superstitious 
feeling in the community though chiefly confined 
to the ignorant classes that voluntarily to create 
the disease, was contrary to nature, and a plain tempt 
ing of Providence. In their view, if death ensued, it 
was esteemed little better than murder. Thus, as our 
house was being put in order for the coming scene, 
and as the subjects of the fearful experiment were 
gathering in, a gloom pervaded all countenances, and 
its shadow naturally fell upon me. 

The lane in which our house was situated was fenced 
up, north and south, so as to cut off all intercourse 
with the world around. A flag was raised, and upon 
it were inscribed the ominous words |5ir" "SMALL- 
pox." My uncle and aunt, from New Haven, arrived 
with their three children.* Half a dozen others of 
the neighborhood were gathered together, making, 
with our own children, somewhat over a dozen 
subjects for the experiment. When all was ready, 
like Noah and his family we were shut in. Pro 
visions were deposited in a basket at a point agreed 
upon, down the lane. Thus, we were cut off from 
the world, excepting only that Dr. Perry, the physi 
cian, ventured to visit us in our fell dominion. 

As to myself, the disease passed lightly over, leav- 

* Elizur Goodrich, now of Hartford ; Professor Channcey A. Good 
rich, iiow of Yale College; and the late Mrs. Nancy Ellsworth, wifo 
of II. L. Ellsworth, former Commissioner of Patents, at Washington. 



44 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

ing, however, its indisputable autographs upon va 
rious parts of my body.* Were it not for these 
testimonials, I should almost suspect that I had es 
caped the disease, for I only remember, among my 
symptoms and my sufferings, a little headache, and 
the privation of salt and butter upon my hasty-pud 
ding. My restoration to these privileges I distinctly 
recollect : doubtless these gave me more pleasure 
than the clean bill of health which they implied. 
Several of the patients suffered severely, and among 
them my brother and one of my cousins. The latter, 
in a recent conversation upon the subject, claimed 
the honor of two thousand pustules, and was not a 
little humbled when, by documentary evidence, they 
were reduced to two hundred. 

Yet, while it is evident that I was subjected to 
the usual drawbacks upon the happiness of child 
hood, these were, in fact, so few as to have passed 
away from my mind, leaving in my memory only 
the general tide of life, seeming, as I look back, to 
have been one bright current of enjoyment, flowing 

* It may not be useless to state, in passing, that in 1S50, one of my 
family, who had been vaccinated thirty years before, was attacked by 
varioloid. It being deemed advisable that all of MS should be vacci 
nated, I was subjected to the process, and this took such effect upon 
me that I had a decided fever, with partial delirium, for two days ; thus 
showing my accessibility to the infection of small-pox. Here then was 
evidence that both vaccination and inoculation are not perpetual guar 
antees asrainst this disease a fact, indeed, now fully admittea by the 
medical faculty. The doctrine is, that the power of these preventives 
becomes, at last, worn out, and therefore prudence dictates repet* 
tion of vaccination after about ten vears. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 45 

amid flowers, and all in the company of companions 
as happy and j ubilant as myself. By a beautiful al 
chemy of the heart, the clouds of early life appear after 
ward to be only accessories to the universal spring 
tide of pleasure. Even this dark episode of the pest- 
house, stands in my memory as rather an interesting 
event, partly because there was something strange 
and romantic about it, and partly because it is the 
office of the imagination to gild with sunshine even 
the clouds of the past. 

In all this, my experience was in no way peculiar : 
I was but a representation of childhood in all coun 
tries and ages. I do not forget the instances in 
which children are subjected to misfortune, nor the 
moral obliquity which is in every childish heart. 
But making due allowance for the shadows thus cast 
upon the spring of life, its general current is such as 
I have described. 

It has been oracularly said that the child is father 
of the man. If it is meant that men fulfill the prom 
ises of childhood, it is not true ; for so far as my ob 
servation goes, not one child in five, when grown up, 
is altogether what was expected of him. If it is meant 
that the influences operating upon children ordinarily 
determine their future fate, it is doubtless correct ; 
though I may remark, by the way, that it is rather an 
obscure mode of saying what had been happily ex- 
presed by Solomon, thousands of years ago. 

But why is it that early impressions are thus wing- 



46 LETTERS BIOGRAPHIC A I,, 

ed with fate ? Partly because of the plastic character 
of young life, and partly also because of the vivid 
ness, sincerity, and intensity of its conceptions. And 
these, be it remembered, are always pleasurable, un 
less some extraneous incident or accident intervenes 
to thwart the tendency of nature. The heart of child 
hood as readily inclines to flow in a current of enjoy 
ment, as water to run down hill. Hence it is, that in 
a majority of cases, or at least in a large proportion 
of cases, the remembrances of childhood are like those 
I have described not only vivid and glowing, but 
cheerful and joyous. 

As to this fullness and intensity of youthful im 
pressions, every mind can furnish examples : all true 
poets recognize it ; most celebrate it. Who can not 
remember particular places such as hillsides, val 
leys, lawns ; particular things as rocks, trees, brooks ; 
particular times and seasons which have become 
fixed in the mind, and consecrated in the heart for 
all future time, by association with the ardent and 
glowing thoughts or experiences of childhood ? Often 
a single incident, one momentary impression, is in 
delibly stamped as upon a die of steel. Let me 
take an example in my own childish remembrance. 
There was a willow-tree near my father's house, 
which was graven on my memory by a particular 
circumstance : from this my brother cut a branch 
and made- me a whistle of it the first I remember 
to have possessed. The form of this tree, and all 






HISTORICAL, AJN'ECDOTIOAL, KTC. 47 

the surrounding objects, as well as the day oJ the 
week and the season of the year, have lived from 
that hour in rny memory. . In a similar way, I re 
member a multitude of other familiar objects, all 
suggesting similar associations and recollections. 
Rogers, in his beautiful poem, the "Pleasures of 
Memory," recognizes this vividness of early impres 
sions, in supposing a person, after an absence of 
many years, to visit the site of the school-house of 
his early days now in decay and ruin. As he passes 
over the place, 

" Up springs, at every step, to claim a tear, 
Some little friendship form'd in childhood here ; 
And not the lightest leaf but trembling teems 
With golden visions and romantic dreams." 

I was recently conversing with my sister M 

upon this subject, and entertaining the views I have 
here expressed, she recited to me, as illustrative of 
her experience, some lines she had composed several 
years ago, but which she had not thought worth 
committing to paper. I requested a copy, which 
she furnished me, and I here insert them. They 
are designed to express the thoughts suggested by 
the recollection of a particular family scene, oi a Sun 
day afternoon, which, for some reason or other, had 
been indelibly impressed upon her young mind. 



48 LETTEKS BIOGKAl'HICAL, 



A REMEMBERED SABBATH EVENING OF MY CHILDHOOD. 

Oh ! let me weave one song to-night, 

For the spell is on me now ; 
And thoughts come thronging thick and bright, 
All fresh and rosy with the light 

Of childhood's early glow. 

They hurry from out the forgotten past, 
Through the gathered mist of years 
From the halls of Memory, dim and vast, 
Where they have buried lain in the shadows cast 
By recent joy or fears. 

Say not mine is a thoughtful brow, 

Furrow'd by care and pain ; 
My childhood's curls seem over it now, 
As they lay there years and years ago 

And I am a child again. 

And I am again in my childhood's home, 

Which looks on the distant sea ; 
And the loved and lost they come they come ! 
To the old but well-remember'd room, 

And I sit by my father's knee. 

'Tis the Sabbath evening hour of prayer ; 

And in the accustom'd place 
Is my Father, with calm, benignant air : 
Each brother and sister too is there, 

And my Mother, with stately grace. 

And with the rest comes a dark-eyed child 

The youngest of all is she, 
Bringing her friend and' playmate wild 
In her dimpled arms, and with warnings mild 

Checking ite sportive glee. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 4S} 

And well could my young heart sympathize 

With all I saw her do : 

With the thought which danced in those laughing eyes, 
Veil'd by a look demure and wise, 

That her kitten should join the service too. 

And though glad! came at my father's call, 

My thoughts had much to do 
With the whispering leaves of the poplar tall, 
And the checker'd light on the white wash'd wall, 

And the pigeons' loving coo. 

And I watch'd the banish'd kitten's bound, 

As it frolick'd to and fro ; 
And wish'd the spyglass could be found, 
That I might see on the distant Sound 

The tall ships come and go. 

Through the open door my stealthy gaze 

Sought the shadows, long and still ; 
When sudden the sun's departing rays 
Set the church windows all a-blaze, 

On Greenfield's* distant hill. 

But new and wondering thoughts awoke, 

Like morning from the night, 
As, with deeply reverent voice and look, 
My father read from the Holy Book, 

By that Sabbath's waning light. 

He read of Creation's early birth 

This vast and wondrous frame 
How " in the beginning" the Heavens and Earth 
From the formless void were order'd forth, 

And how they obedient came. 

* From our windows we could not only see the church spire of Green 
field Hill, but the spires of several other churches in the far distano- 

VOL. T. 3 



50 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

How Darkness lay like a heavy pall 

On the face of the silent deep, 
Till, answering to the Almighty call, 
Light came, and spread, and waken'd all 

From that deep and brooding sleep. 

Oh ! ever as sinks the Sabbath son 

In the glowing summer skies, 
My father's voice, my mother's look, 
Blent with the words of the Holy Book, 

Upon my memory rise. 

For then were traced on the mystic scroll 

Of deathless imagery, 
Deep hidden within my secret sou], 
Which eternity only will fully unroll 

Some lines of my destiny ! 

The impressibility of youth, and the depth and 
earnestness of its conceptions, are beautifully sug 
gested in the opening passage of the famous Finnish 
poem, the epic song of Kalewala. Th? lines are as 
follows : 

" These the words we have received 
These, the songs we do inherit, 
Are of Wainamoimen's girdle 
From the forge of Ilmarinen, 
Of the sword of Kankomieli, 
Of the bow of Yonkanhainen, 
Of the borders of the North-fields, 
Of the plains of Kalewala. 

" These my father sang aforetime, 
As he chipped the hatchet's handle ; 
These were taught me by my mother 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 51 

As she twirled her flying spindles, 
When. I on the floor was sporting, 
Round her knee was gayly dancing, 
As a pitiable weakling 
As a weakling small of stature. 
Never failed these wondrous stories, 
Told of Sampo, told of Louhi : 
Old grew Sampo in the stories ; 
Louhi vanished with her magic ; 
In the songs Wiunen perished : 
In the play died Lemminkainen. 

" There are many other stories, 
Magic sayings which I learned, 
Which I gathered by the wayside, 
Culled amid the heather-blossoms, 
Rifled from the bushy copses. 
From the bending twigs I pluck'd them, 
Plucked them from the tender grasses, 
When a shepherd-boy I sauntered, 
As a lad upon the pastures, 
On the honey-bearing meadows, 
On the gold-illumined hillock, 
Following black Muurikki 
At the side of spotted Kimmo. 

" Songs the very coldness gave me, 
Music found I in the rain-drops ; 
Other songs the winds brought to me, 
Other songs, the ocean-billows ; 
Birds, by singing in the branches, 
And the tree-top spoke in whispers." 

Thus in early life all nature is poetry : childhood 
and youth, are indeed one continuous poem. In most 
cases this ecstasy of emotion and conception passes 



52 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

away without our special notice. A large portion of 
it dies out from the memory, but passages are writ- 
ten upon the heart in lines of light and power, that 
can not be effaced. These become woven into the 
texture of the soul, and give character to it for time- 
perchance for eternity. The whole fountain of the 
mind, like some mineral spring, reaching to the in 
terior elements of the earth is imbued with ingre 
dients which make its current sweet or bitter forever. 
Pray excuse me for making a few suggestions 
upon these facts even if they seem like sermon 
izing. If early life is thus happy in its general 
current in its nature and tendency surely it is 
well and wise for those who have the care of chil 
dren, to see in it the design of the Creator, and to 
follow the lead He has thus given. If God places our 
offspring in Eden, let us not causeless or carelessly 
take them out of it. It is certainly a mistake to con 
sider childhood and youth the first twenty years of 
life as only a period of constraint and discipline. 
This is one-third part of existence to a majority, it 
is more than the half of life. It is the only portion 
which seems made for unalloyed enjoyment. It is 
the morning, and all is sunshine : the after part of 
the day is necessarily devoted to toil and care, and 
that too amid clouds, and at last, beneath the shadows 
of approaching night. Let us not, then, presume to 
mar this birthright of bliss. 

You will not suspect me to mean that government, 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 53 

discipline, instruction, are to be withheld. These 
are indispensable, but they should all be reconciled 
with the happy flow of life. This is, in fact, often 
attained by the instinct of mothers, whom God has 
given grace to combine government and indulgence, 
discipline and encouragement in such happy mixture 
and measure, as to check the weeds, and foster the 
fruits, of the soul. It is not always done : it is 
not done perfectly, perhaps, in a single case. Yet I 
can not doubt that despite all the difficulties which 
poverty, and ignorance, and sin impose upon the 
world a majority of mothers do in fact temper their 
conduct to their children, so as, on the whole, to 
exercise, in a large degree, a saving, redeeming, re 
generating influence upon them. 

Nevertheless, there is room for improvement. There 
are too many persons who look upon children as rep 
robate too many who regard the rod as the rule, not 
the exception. Some imagine that the whole busi 
ness of education lies in study, and that to cram the 
mind is to enrich it. Some, indeed, are indifferent, 
and think even less of the moral growth and improve 
ment of their children, than they do of the growth 
and improvement of their cattle. I think there are 
still others, who dislike children who are annoyed 
by their presence, impatient of their little caprices, 
and regardless of their virtues ; who only see their 
foibles, and would always confine them to the nur 
sery. Even the Disciples of Christ seem not to 



54 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

have been superior to this common feeling. The an 
swer of our Saviour was at once a rebuke and a les 
son. " Suffer the little children to come unto me, 
and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of 
heaven." There is profound theology there is deep, 
touching, divine humanity in this. Children are 
not reprobate: they are docile and teachable, with 
thoughts and emotions so pure as to breathe of heav 
en. They are cheerful, happy ; their presence was 
healthful, even to the " Man of Sorrows and acquaint 
ed with grief!" 

It is in this last aspect that I particularly wish to 
present this subject. Children, no doubt, impose bur 
dens upon their parents. No words can express the 
weight of care which often presses upon the heart of 
the mother in the deep watches of the night, in mo 
ments of despondency, in periods of feeble health, in 
the pinches of poverty, in the trying, dark days of the 
spirit as to the future prospects of her offspring. 
Anxieties for their welfare, temporal and eternal, 
often seem to wring the very heart, drop by drop, of 
its blood. And yet, all things considered, children 
are the great blessing of the household. They im 
pose cares, but they elevate all hearts around them. 
They cultivate unselfish and therefore purifying feel 
ings : they cheer the old, by reviving recollections of 
early life : they excite the young, by kindly fellow 
ship and emulous sympathy. Without children, the 
world would be like a forest of old oaks, gnarled, 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 55 

groaning, and fretful in the desolation of winter. For 
myself, I can say, that children are the best of play 
mates when I am well with the world, and they are 
the best of medicine, when I am sick and weary of it. 
It is children, here in the family, that are thus a 
blessing : not the children of a community, as in 
Sparta, for there they were educated to crime. In 
every community, where they are not the charge of 
the parents, and especially of the mother, they would, 
I think, infallibly become reprobates. The family 
seems to me a divine institution. Marriage, sanc 
tioned by religion, is its bond : children its fruition. 
No statesman, no founder of a religion, no reform 
er after innumerable attempts has given the world 
a substitute for Christian Marriage and that insti 
tution which follows the Family. It is, up to this 
era of our world, the anchor of society, the fountain 
of love and hope and dignity in man and human 
society. Those who attempt to overturn it, are, T 
think, working against the Almighty. 



5(5 TJ:TTKKS BIOGRAPHICAL. 



LETTER VI. 

The Inner Life of Tottms Physical Aspect and Character of Eidgejkld 
Effects of Cultivation vjton Climate Energetic Character of the First 
Settlers of Ridgejield Classes f>f the People as to Descent Their Oc 
cupations Newspapers Position of my Father's Family Management 
of the Farm Domestic Economy Mechanical Professions Bttf and 
PorkTht Thanksgioing Turkey Bread Fuel Flint and Steel- 
Friction Matches Prof. Sittiman Pyroligntous Acid Maple Sugar 
/?m Dram-drinking Tansey Bitters Brandy Whisky The First 
".SWU" Wine Dr. .'* Sacramental Wine Domestic Products 
Bread and Butter Linen and Woolen Cloth Cotton flax and 
Wool The LittU Spinning-toheel Sally St. John and the Rat-trap 
Manufacture of Wool Molly Gregory and Faying Tunes The Tanner 
and Hatter The Revolving Slioetnaker Whipping the Cat Carpets 
Coverlids and (Juiltings Village Bees and Raisings The Mieting- 
Jtou.se that was destroyed by Lightning Deaconing a Hymn. 

MY PEAK 0****** 

It will be no new suggestion to a reflecting man 
like yourself, that towns, as well as men, have their 
inner and their outer life. There is a striking differ 
ence in one respect, between the two subjects ; the 
age of man is set at threescore years and ten, while 
towns seldom die. The pendulum of human life 
vibrates by seconds, that of towns by centuries. The 
history of cities, the focal points of society, may be 
duly chronicled even to their minutest incidents ; 
but cities do not constitute nations ; the mass of al 
most every country is in the smaller towns and vil 
lages. The outer life of these is vaguely jotted down 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, ETC. 57 

in the census, and reported in the Gazetteers; but 
their inner life, which comprises the condition and 
progress of the community at large, is seldom writ 
ten. We may see glimpses of it in occasional ser 
mons, in special biographies, in genealogical memo 
randa. We- may take periods of fifty years, and 
deduce certain general inferences from statistical ta 
bles of births and deaths ; but still, the living men 
and manners as they rise in a country town, are sel 
dom portrayed. I am therefore tempted to give you 
a rapid sketch of Ridgefield and of the people how 
they lived, thought, and felt, at the beginning of the 
present century. It will serve as an example of 
rustic life throughout New England, fifty years ago, 
and it will moreover enable me, by contrasting this 
state of things with what I found to exist many years 
after, to show the steady, though silent, and perhaps 
unnoted progress of society among us. 

From what I have already said, you will easily 
imagine the prominent physical characteristics and 
aspect of my native town a general mass of hills, 
rising up in a crescent of low mountains, and com 
manding a wide view on every side. The soil was 
naturally hard, and thickly sown with stones of ev 
ery size, from the immovable rock to the pebble. 
The fields, at this time, were divided by rude stone 
walls, and the surface of most was dotted with 
gathered heaps of stones and rocks, thus clearing 
spaces for cultivation, yet leaving a large portion of 

8* 



58 LKTTEKS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

the land still encumbered with its original curse. 
The climate was severe, on account of the elevation 
of the site, yet this was perhaps fully compensated 
by a corresponding salubrity. 

I may add, in passing, that the climate of New 
England generally, has been mitigated within the last 
fifty years by the changes which civilization has 
wrought on the surface of the country the felling of 
forests, the draining of marshes, the cultivation of 
the soil, and other similar causes to an extent not 
generally appreciated. A person who has not made 
observations for a long period of time, is hardly 
aware of these mutations effected by a growing and 
industrious agricultural community, even in the stern 
er features of nature. This may, however, be easily 
appreciated, if one will compare a district of country 
covered with its original forests, and converted into 
one vast sponge by its thick coating of weeds, shrubs, 
mosses, and decayed wood the accumulations of cen- 
turies thus making the hills and valleys a universal 
swamp, hoarding the rains of summer, and treasuring 
the snows of winter with the same district, cleared 
of its trees, its soil turned up by the plow to the 
sun, and its waste waters carried off by roads and 
drains. Such a process over a whole country, is evi 
dently sufficient to affect its temperature, and ma 
terially to modify its climate. I know many tracts 
of land, which, fifty years ago, were reeking with 
moisture, their surface defying cultivation bv llio 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 59 

plow, and their roads impassable a great part of 
the year by means of the accumulation of water in 
the soil now covered with houses, gardens, and corn 
fields, and all the result of the slow but transform 
ing processes bestowed by man upon every country 
which he subjects to cultivation. Nature is like man 
himself rude in his aspect and severe in his temper, 
until softened and subdued by civilization. Our New 
England, two centuries ago, was, like its inhabitants, 
bleak and wild to the view, harsh and merciless in 
its climate : the change of these is analogous to the 
change which has been effected by substituting towns 
and villages for wigwams, and Christian man for the 
sa\ age. 

Yet despite the somewhat forbidding nature of the 
soil and climate of Eidgefield, it may be regarded as 
presenting a favorable example of New England 
country life and society, at the beginning of the pres 
ent century. The town was originally settled by a 
sturdy race of men, mostly the immediate descendants 
of English emigrants, some from Norwalk and some 
from Milford. Their migration over an intervening 
space of savage hills, rocks, and ravines, into a ter 
ritory so forbidding, and their speedy conversion of 
this into a thriving and smiling village, are witnesses 
to their courage and energy. The names which they 
bore, and which have been disseminated over the 
Union Benedicts, Olmsteads, Northups, Keelers, 
Hoyts, Nashes, Dauceys, Meads, Hawleys are no 



(JO LK'l'lKKS IJIOGUAPHICAL, 

less significant of the vigor and manliness of the 
stock to which they belonged. 

At the time' referred to, the date of my earliest 
recollection, the society of Eidgefield was exclusively 
English, and the manners and customs such as might 
have been expected, under the modifying influence 
of existing circumstances. I remember but one Irish 
man, one negro, and one Indian in the town. The 
first had begged and blarneyed his way from Long 
Island, where he had been wrecked ; the second was 
a- liberated slave; and the last was the vestige of a 
tribe, which dwelt of yore in a swampy tract, the 
name of which I have forgotten. We had a pro 
fessed beggar, called Jagger, who had served in the 
armies of more than one of the Georges, and insisted 
upon crying " God save the king !" even on the 4th 
of July, and when openly threatened by the boya 
with a gratuitous ride on a rail. We had one set 
tled pauper, Mrs. Yabacomb, who, for the first dozen 
years of my life, was my standard type for the witch 
of Endor. 

Nearly all the inhabitants of Eidgefield were farm 
ers, with the few mechanics that were necessary to 
carry on society in a somewhat primeval state. 
Even the persons not professionally devoted to agri 
culture, had each his farm, or at least his garden and 
home lot, with his pigs, poultry, and cattle. The pop 
ulation might ha'v, been 1200, comprising two hun 
dred families. All could read and write, but in point 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 61 

of fact, beyond the Almanac and Watts' Psalms and 
Hymns, their literary acquirements had little scope.. 
There were, I think, four newspapers, all weekly, 
published in the State : one at Hartford, one at New 
London, one at New Haven, and one at Litchfield. 
There were, however, not more than three subscribers 
to all these in our village. We had, however, a pub 
lic library of some two hundred volumes, and what 
was of equal consequence the town was on the road 
which was then the great thoroughfare, connecting 
Boston with New York, and hence it had means of 
intelligence from travelers constantly passing through 
the place, which kept it up with the march of events. 
If Kidgefield was thus rather above the average of 
Connecticut villages in its range of civilization, I sup 
pose the circumstances and modes of life in my fa 
ther's family, were somewhat above those of most 
people around us. We had a farm of forty acres, 
with four cows, two horses, and some two dozen 
sheep, to which may be added a stock of poultry, in 
cluding a flock of geese. My father carried on the 
farm, besides preaching two sermons a week, and at 
tending to other parochial duties visiting the sick, 
attending funerals, solemnizing marriages, &c. He 
personally laid out the beds and planted the garden , 
he pruned the fruit-trees, and worked with the men 
in the meadow in the press of haying-time. He 
generally cut the corn-stalks himself, and always 
shelled the ears ; the latter being done by drawing 



62 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

them across the handle of the frying-pan, fastened 
over a wash-tub. I was sometimes permitted, as an 
indulgence, to spell my father in this, which was 
a favorite employment. With these and a few other 
exceptions, our agricultural operations were carried 
on by hired help. 

It may seem that I should have passed over these 
somewhat commonplace passages in my father's life, 
but my judgment teaches me otherwise. There is 
good example and good argument in behalf of these 
labors of the garden and the field, even in a profes 
sional man. Not to cite Achilles and Abraham, who 
slaughtered their own mutton, and Cinciunatus, who 
held his own plow, it was the custom in New Eng 
land, at the time I speak of, for country lawyers, 
physicians, clergymen even Doctors of Divinity, to 
partake of these homespun labors. In the library 
of the Atheneum at Hartford, is a collection of Al 
manacs, formerly belonging to John Cotton Smith 
one of the most elegant and accomplished men of his 
time a distinguished member of Congress, Judge of 
the Superior Court, and several years Governor of the 
State. In looking it over, I observed such notes as 
the following, made with his own hand: "cut my 
barley," "began rye harvest," "planted field of po 
tatoes," &c.; thus showing his personal attention to, 
if not his participation in, the affairs of the farm.* 

* See ;i further notice of Gov. Smith, page 89. vol ii 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 63 

Nearly all the judges of the Superior Court occasion 
ally worked in the field, in these hearty old federal 
times. 

Whether these facts may be connected with others, 
which I am about to state, is a question I leave for 
doctors to determine. Certain it is that at this period 
professional men had good health and good diges 
tion : no clergyman was known to have bronchitis. 
I seldom heard of dyspepsia, bodily or mental, during 
the existence of the Charter of Charles II. There is 
a pretty common notion in the United States, that 
Jefferson infused a general demagogism into this 
country, which percolated through the blood and 
bone of society, and set everybody in some way 
or other, to flattering the masses. It is certain that 
about this time, not only the politician, but the 
preacher, the lawyer, the editor, the author, all took 
to talking, speech- making, lecturing in a new way, in 
a new sense that is, so as to seduce the multitude. 
Thus was ushered in the Age of Talk, which soon 
grew into a rage. The mania kept pace with democ 
racy, and democracy with the mania ; and at last, 
at the end of this national flatulence, the world grew 
light-headed, and forth came a spawn of isms, which 
no man can number. Under the influence of this 
advent of new notions, some took to cold water and 
some to mint-juleps ; some to raw vegetables and some 
to hot slings. All agonized in one way or another 
Every thing grew intense : politics swam with pota- 



K4- LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

tions ; religion got mixed up with transcendentalism ; 
until at last, professors took to table-turning and 
judges to spirit-rappings. Now I do not say that all 
this is a sequence of logical deductions : that spirit 
ualism is to be fathered upon Thomas Jefferson : what 
I affirm is, that demagogism and democracy, dyspep 
sia and transcendentalism, vegetarianism and spirit 
ualism, have all come np, one after another, since old 
federalism went down ! If it is any object to cure 
mankind of these vapors, I recommend that we all go 
back to the habits of other days, in which ministers, 
judges and governors wrought occasionally in the field. 
But I return to Eidgefield. The household, as 
well as political, economy of these days lay in this, 
that every family lived as much as possible within 
itself. Money was scarce, wages being about fifty 
cents a day, though these were generally paid in meat, 
vegetables, and other articles of use seldom in 
money. There was not a factory of any kind in the 
place.* There was a butcher, but he only went 
from house to house to slaughter the cattle and swine 
of his neighbors. There was a tanner, but he only 
dressed other people's skins: there was a clothier, 
but he generally fulled and dressed other people's 
cloth. All this is typical of the mechanical opera- 

* I recollect, as tin after-thought, one exception. There was shatter 
who supplied the town ; but he generally mode hats to order, and usu 
ally in exchange for the skins of foxes, rabbits, muskrats, and other 
chance peltry. I frequently purchased my powder and shot from the 
proceeds of skins which I sold him. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 65 

tions of the place. Even dyeing blue a portion of 
the wool, so as to make linsey-woolsey for short 
gowns, aprons, and blue-mixed stockings vital ne 
cessities in those days was a domestic operation. 
During the autumn, a dye-tub in the chimney corner 
thus placed so as to be cherished by the genial heat 
was as familiar in all thrifty houses, as the Bible 
or the back-log. It was covered with a board, and 
formed a cosy seat in the wide-mouthed fireplace, 
especially of a chill evening. When the night had 
waned, and the family had retired, it frequently be 
came the anxious seat of the lover, who was per 
mitted to carry on his courtship, the object of his 
addresses sitting demurely in the opposite corner. 
Some of the first families in Connecticut, I suspect, 
could their full annals be written, would find their 
foundations to have been laid in these chimney-corner 
courtships. 

Being thus exposed, this institution of the dye-tub 
was the frequent subject of distressing and exciting 
accidents. Among the early, indelible incidents in 
my memory, happening to all vigorous characters, 
turning this over is one of the most prominent. Noth 
ing so roused the indignation of thrifty housewives, 
[for besides the ignominious avalanche of blue upon 
the floor, there was an infernal appeal made to an 
other sense than that of sight. Every youth of parts 
was laden with experience in this way. I have a 
vague impression that Philip N . . . ., while courting 



66 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

H . . . . M . . ., was suspended for six weeks, for one 
of these mischances. If it was not he, it was some 
other spark of that generation. 

To this general system of domestic economy our 
family was not an exception. Every autumn, it was 
a matter of course that we had a fat ox or a fat cow, 
ready for slaughter. One full barrel was salted 
down ; the hams were cut out, slightly salted, and 
hung up in the chimney for a few days, and thus be 
came "dried" or "hung beef," then as essential as 
the staff of life. Pork was managed in a similar way, 
though even on a larger scale, for two barrels were 
indispensable. A few pieces, as the spare-ribs, &c., 
were distributed to the neighbors, who paid in kind 
when they killed their swine. 

Mutton and poultry came in their turn, all from 
our own stock, save that on Thanksgiving-day some 
of the magnates gave the parson a turkey. This, 
let me observe, in those good old times, was a bird 
of mark ; no timid, crouching biped, with downcast 
head and pallid countenance, but stalking like a lord, 
and having wattles red as a "banner bathed in 
slaughter." His beard, or in modern parlance, his 
goat, without the aid of gum and black-ball, was so 
long, shining, and wiry, that it might have provoked 
the envy of his modern human rival in foppery. 
There was, in fact, something of the genius of the 
native bird still in him, for though the race was near 
ly extinct, a few wild flocks lingered in the remote 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 67 

woods. Occasionally in the depth of winter, and along 
to the early spring, these stole to the barnyard, and 
held communion with their civilized compatriots. Se 
vere battles ensued among the leaders for the favors 
of the fair, and as the wild cocks always conquered, 
the vigor of the race was kept up. 

Our bread was of rye, tinged with Indian meal. 
Wheat bread was reserved for the sacrament and 
company ; a proof not of its superiority, but of its 
scarcity and consequent estimation. All the vegeta 
bles came from our garden and farm. The fuel was 
supplied by our own woods sweet-scented hickory, 
snapping chestnut, odoriferous oak, and reeking, fiz 
zling ash the hot juice of the latter, by the way, 
being a sovereign antidote for the ear-ache. These 
were laid in huge piles, all alive with sap, on the tall, 
gaunt andirons. You might have thought you heard 
John Rogers and his family at the stake, by their plain- 
tive simmerings. The building of a fire was a real 
architectural achievement, favored by the wide yawn 
ing fireplace, and was always begun by daybreak. 
There was first a back-log, from fifteen to four and 
twenty inches in diameter and five feet long, imbed 
ded in the ashes ; then came a top log ; then a fore 
stick; then a middle stick, and then a heap of kin 
dlings, reaching from the bowels down to the bottom. 
A-top of all was a pyramid of smaller fragments, art 
fully adjusted, with spaces for the blaze. 

Friction matches had not then been sent from the 



68 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

regions of brimstone, to enable every boy or beggar to 
carry a conflagration in his pocket. If there were no 
coals left from the last night's fire, and none to be 
borrowed from the neighbors, resort was had to flint, 
steel, and tinder-box. Often, when the flint was dull, 
and the steel soft, and the tinder damp, the striking of 
fire was a task requiring both energy and patience. 
If the edifice on the andirons was skilfully construct 
ed, the spark being applied, there was soon a furious 
stinging smoke, which Silliman told the world some 
years after, consisted mainly of pyroligneous acid. 
Nevertheless, in utter ignorance of this philosophical 
fact, the forked flame soon began to lick the sweat 
ing sticks above, and by the time the family had 
arisen, and assembled in the " keeping room," there 
was a roaring blaze, which defied even the bitter 
blasts of winter and which, by the way, found abun 
dant admittance through the crannies of the doors 
and windows. To feed the family fire in those days, 
during the severe season, was fully one man's work. 

But to go on with our household history. Sugar 
was partially supplied by our maple-trees. These 
were tapped in March, the sap being collected, and 
boiled down in the woods. This was wholly a do 
mestic operation, and one in which all the children 
rejoiced, each taking his privilege of an occasional 
sip or dip, from the period of the limpid sap, to the 
granulated condiment. Nevertheless, the chief sup. 
ply of sugar was from the West Indies. 




MAKIXG MAPLE SUGAR. Vol. 1, p. 68. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOT1CAL, ETC. G9 

Bum was largely consumed, but our distilleries had 
scarcely begun. A half-pint of it was given as a 
matter of course to every day-laborer, more particu 
larly in the summer season. In all families, rich or 
poor, it was offered to male visitors as an essential 
point of hospitality, or even good manners. Wo 
men I beg pardon ladies, took their schnapps, then 
named "Hopkins' Elixir," which was the most deli 
cious and seductive means of getting tipsy that has 
been invented. Crying babies were silenced with hot 
toddy, then esteemed an infallible remedy for wind 
on the stomach. Every man imbibed his morning 
dram, and this was esteemed temperance. There is 
a story of a preacher about those days, who thus lec 
tured his parish : "I say nothing, my beloved breth 
ren, against taking a little bitters before breakfast, 
and after breakfast, especially if you are used to it. 
What I contend against is this dramming, dramming, 
dramming, at all hours of the day. There are some 
men who take a glass at eleven o'clock in the fore 
noon, and at four in the afternoon. I do not pur 
pose to contend against old established customs, my 
brethren, rendered respectable by time and author 
ity ; but this dramming, dramming, is a crying sin in 
the land." 

However absurd this may seem now, it was not 
then very wide of the public sentiment. Huxham's 
tincture was largely prescribed by the physicians. 
Tansey bitters were esteemed a sort of panacea, 



70 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

moral as well as physical, for even the morning 
prayer went up heavily without it. The place of 
Stoughton for this mixture was not then invented 
was supplied by a tuft of tansey which Providence 
seemed to place somewhere in every man's garden 
or home lot. 

As to brandy, I scarcely heard of it, so far as I 
can recollect, till I was sixteen years old, and as ap 
prentice in a country store, was called upon to sell 
it. Cider was the universal table beverage. Cider 
brandy and whisky were soon after evoked from 
the infernal caldron of evil spirits. I remember, in 
my boyhood, to have seen a strange, zigzag tin tube, 
denominated a " still," belonging to one of our neigh 
bors, converting, drop by drop, certain innocent 
liquids into the infernal fire-water. But, in the 
days I speak of, French brandy was rather confined 
to the houses of the rich, and to the drug shop. 

Wine in our country towns was then almost ex 
clusively used for the sacrament. I remember to 
have heard a story of these days, which is suggestive. 

The Rev. Dr. G of J. ... had a brother who 

had lived some years in France, and was familiar with 
the wines of that country. On a certain occasion, he 
dined with his clerical brother, who after dinner gave 
him a glass of this beverage. The visitor having 
tasted it, shrugged his shoulders, and made wry 
faces. 

" Where did you get this liquor, brother ?" said he. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOtlCAL, ETC. 71 

" Why it is some that was left over from the sacra 
ment, and my deacons sent it to me." 

" I don't wonder, brother," was the reply, " that 
your church is so small, now that I know what wine 
you give them." 

There was, of course, no baker in Ridgefield ; each 
family not only made its own bread, cakes, and pies, 
but their own soap, candles, butter, cheese, and the 
like. The fabrication of cloth, linen, and woolen 
was no less a domestic operation. Cotton that is, 
raw cotton was then wholly unknown among us at 
the North, except as a mere curiosity, produced some 
where in the tropics ; but whether it grew on a plant, 
or an animal, was not clearly settled in the public 
mind. 

We raised our own flax, rotted it, hackled it, 
dressed it, and spun it. The little wheel, turned by 
the foot, had its place, and was as familiar as if it 
had been a member of the family. How often have 
I seen my mother, and my grandmother too, sit down 
to it though this, as I remember, was for the purpose 
of spinning some finer kind of thread the burden of 
the spinning being done by a neighbor of ours, Sally 
St. John. By the way, she was a good-hearted, cheer 
ful old maid, who petted me beyond my deserts. I 
grieve to say, that I repaid her partiality by many 
mischievous pranks, for which I should have been 
roundly punished, had not the good creature, like 
charity, covered a multitude of sins. I did indeed 



72 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

get filliped for catching her foot one day in a steel- 
trap, but I declare that I was innocent of malice pre 
pense, inasmuch as I had set the trap for a rat in 
stead of the said Sally. Nevertheless, the verdict 
was against me, not wholly because of my misdemea 
nor in this particular instance, but partly upon the 
general theory that if I did not deserve punishment 
for that, I had deserved it, and should deserve it for 
something else, and so it was safe to administer it. 

.The wool was also spun in the family, partly by 
my sisters, and partly by Molly Gregory, daughter 
of our neighbor, the town carpenter. I remember 
her well as she sang and spun aloft in the attic. In 
those days, church singing was one of the fine arts 
the only one, indeed, which flourished in Ridgefield, 
except the music of the drum and fife. The choir 
was divided into four parts, ranged on three sides ol 
the meeting-house gallery. The tenor, led by Dea 
con Hawley, was in front of the pulpit, the base to 
the left, and the treble and counter to the right* 
the whole being set in motion by a pitch-pipe, made 
by the deacon himself, who was a cabinet-maker. 
Molly took upon herself the entire counter, for she 
had excellent lungs. The fuging tunes, which 
had then run a little mad, were her delight, and of 
all these, Montgomery was the general favorite. 
In her solitary operations aloft, I have often heard 

* This separation of a choir is seldom pit rticed now in our churches, 
Out was in general use at this period. 



HISTORICAL, ASECDOTICAL, ETC. 73 

her send forth from the attic windows, the droning 
hum of her wheel, with fitful snatches of a hymn, in 
which the base began, the tenor followed, then the 
treble, and finally, the counter winding up with ir 
resistible pathos. Molly singing to herself, and all un 
conscious of eavesdroppers, carried on all the parts, 
thus : 

Base. " Long for a cooling 
Tenor. " Long for a cooling 
Treble. " Long for a cooling 
Counter. " Long for a cooling stream at hand, 
And they must drink or die 1" 

The knitting of stockings was performed by the 
female part of the family in the evening, and espe 
cially at tea parties. According to the theory of so 
ciety in that golden age, this was a moral as well as 
an economical employment, inasmuch as Satan was 
held to find 

" Some mischief still 
For idle hands to do." 

Satan, however, dodged the question, for if the 
hands were occupied, the tongue was loose ; and it 
was said that in some families, he kept them well oc 
cupied with idle gossip. At all events, pianos, chess 
boards, graces, battledoors, and shuttlecocks, with 
other safety-valves of the kind, were only known by 
the hearing of the ear, as belonging to some such 
Vanity Fair as New York or Boston. 

VOL. I. * 



74 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

The weaving of cloth linen, as well as woolen 
was performed by an itinerant workman, who came 
to the house, put up his loom, and threw his shuttle, 
till the season's work was done. The linen was 
bleached, and made up by the family ; the woolen 
cloth was sent to the fuller to be dyed and dressed. 
Twice a year, that is, in the spring and autumn, the 
tailor came to the house and fabricated the semi 
annual stock of clothes for the male members this 
being called " whipping the cat." 

Mantuamakers and milliners came in their turn, to 
fit out the female members of the family. There 
was a similar process as to boots and shoes. We 
sent the hides of the cattle cows and calves we had 
killed to the tanner, and these came back in assorted 
leather. Occasionally a little morocco, then wholly 
a foreign manufacture, was bought at the store, and 
made up for the ladies' best shoes. Amby Benedict, 
the circulating shoemaker, upon due notice, came 
with his bench, lapstone, and awls, and converted 
some little room into a shop, till the household was 
duly shod. He was a merry fellow, and threw in 
lots of singing gratis. He played all the popular 
airs upon his lapstone as hurdygurdies and hand- 
organs do now. 

Carpets were then only known in a few families, 
and were confined to the keeping-room and parlor. 
They were all home-made : the warp consisting of 
woolen yarn, and the woof of lists and old woolen 



HI8TOKICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 15 

cloth, cut into strips, and sewed together at the 
ends. Coverlids generally consisted of quilts, made 
of pieces of waste calico, elaborately sewed together 
in octagons, and quilted in rectangles, giving the 
whole a gay and rich appearance. This process 
of quilting generally brought together the women of 
the neighborhood, married and single, and a great 
time they had of it what with tea, talk, and stitch 
ing. In the evening, the beaux were admitted, so 
that a quilting was a real festival, not unfrequently 
getting young people into entanglements which mat 
rimony alone could unravel. 

I am here reminded of a sort of communism or so 
cialism which prevailed in our rural districts long 
before Owen or Fourier was born. If some old Arca 
dian of the golden age had written his life, as I now 
write mine, I have no doubt that it would have ap 
peared that this system existed then and there, and 
that these pretended inventors were mere imitators. At 
all events, at Bidgefield we used to have " stone bees," 
when all the men of a village or hamlet came togeth 
er with their draft cattle, and united to clear some 
patch of earth which had been stigmatized by nature 
with an undue visitation of stones and rocks. All 
this labor was gratuitously rendered, save only that 
the proprietor of the land furnished the grog. Such 
a meeting was always of course a very social and 
sociable affair. When the work was done, gymnas 
tic exercises such as hopping, wrestling, and foot- 



76 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

racing took place among the athletic young men 
My father generally attended these celebrations as a 
looker-on. It was indeed the custom for the clergy 
of the olden time, to mingle with the people, even 
in their labors and their pastimes. For some reason 
or other, it seemed that things went better when the 
parson gave them his countenance. I followed my 
father's example, and attended these cheerful and 
beneficial gatherings. Most of the boys of the town 
did the same. I may add that, if I may trust the tra 
ditions of Bidgefield, the cellar of our new house was 
dug by a bee in a single day, and that was Christ 
mas. 

House-raising and barn-raising, the framework be 
ing always of wood, were done in the same way by a 
neighborly gathering of the people. I remember an 
anecdote of a church-raising, which I may as well 
relate here. In the eastern part of the State, I think 
at Lyme, or Pautipaug, a meeting-house was destroyed 
by lightning. After a year or two, the society mus 
tered its energies, and raised the frame of another on 
the site of the old one. It stood about six months, 
and was then blown over. 

In due time, another frame was prepared, and the 
neighborhood gathered together to raise it. It was now 
proposed by Deacon Hart that they should commence 
the performances by a prayer and hymn, it having 
been suggested that perhaps the want of these pious 
preliminaries on former occasions, had something to 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 77 

do with the calamitous results which attended them. 
"When all was ready, therefore, a prayer was made, 
and the chorister of the place deaconed* the first 
two lines of the hymn thus : 

" If God to build the house deny, 
The builders work in vain." 

This being sung, the chorister completed the verse 
thus, adapting the lines to the occasion : 

" Unless the Lord doth shingle it, 
It will blow down agin !" 

1 must not fail to give you a portrait of one of our 
village homes of the middle class at this era. I 

take as an example that of our neighbor, J B . . . . 

who had been a tailor, but having thriven in his 
affairs, and now advanced to the age of some fifty 
years, had become a farmer such a career, by the 
way, being common at the time ; for the prudent 
mechanic, adding to his house and his lands, as his 
necessities and his thrift dictated, usually ended as 
the proprietor of an ample house, fifty to a hundred 
acres of land, and an ample barn, stocked with half 



* Deaconing a hymn or psalm, was adopted on occasions when there 
was but a single book, or perhaps but one or two books, at hand a 
circumstance more common fifty years ago, when singing-books were 
scarce, than nt present, when books of all kinds render food for the 
mind as cheap and abundant as that for the body. In such cases, the 
leader of the choir, or the deacon, or some other person, read a verse, 
or perhaps two lines of a hymn, which being sung, other stanzas were 
read, and then sung in the same way. 



78 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

a dozen cows, one or two horses, a flock of sheep, and 
a general assortment of poultry. 

The home of this, our neighbor B , was situ 
ated on the road leading to Salem, there being a wide 
space in front occupied by the wood-pile, which in 
these days was not only a matter of great importance, 
but of formidable bulk. The size of the wood-pile 
was indeed in some sort an index to the rank and 
condition of the proprietor. The house itself was a 
low edifice, forty feet long, and of two stories in 
front; the rear being what was called a breakback, 
that is, sloping down to a height of ten feet ; this low 
part furnishing a shelter for garden tools, and various 
household instruments. The whole was constructed 
of wood ; the outside being of the dun complexion 
assumed by unpainted wood, exposed to the weather 
for twenty or thirty years, save only that the roof 
was tinged of a reddish-brown by a fine moss that 
found sustenance in the chestnut shingles. 

To the left was the garden, which in the produc 
tive season was a wilderness of onions, squashes, cu 
cumbers, beets, parsnips, and currants, with the never- 
failing tansey for bitters, horseradish for seasoning, 
and fennel for keeping old women awake in church 
time. A sprig of fennel was in fact the theological 
smelling-bottle of the tender sex, and not unfre- 
quently of the men, who, from long sitting in the 
sanctuary after a week of labor in the field found 
themselves too strongly tempted to visit the forbidden 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 79 

land of Nod would sometimes borrow a sprig of 
fennel, and exorcise the fiend that threatened their 
spiritual welfare. 

The interior of the house presented a parlor with 
plain, whitewashed walls, a home-made carpet upon 
the floor, calico curtains at the window, and a mirror 
three feet by two against the side, with a mahogany 
frame : to these must be added eight chairs and a 
cherry table, of the manufacture of Deacon Hawley. 
The keeping or sitting^ room had also a carpet, a 
dozen rush-bottom chairs, a table, &c. The kitchen 
was large fully twenty feet square, with a fireplace 
six feet wide and four feet deep. On one side, it 
looked out upon the garden, the squashes and cu 
cumbers climbing up and forming festoons over the 
door ; on the other a view was presented of the or 
chard, embracing first a circle of peaches, pears, and 
plums, and beyond^a wide-spread clover field, embow 
ered with apple-trees. Just by, was the well, with its 
tall sweep, the old oaken bucket dangling from the 
pole. The kitchen was in fact the most comfortable 
room in the house ; cool in summer, and perfumed 
with the breath of the garden and the orchard : in 
winter, with its roaring blaze of hickory, it was a 
cosy resort, defying the bitterest blasts of the season. 
Here the whole family assembled at meals, save only 
when the presence of company made it proper to 
serve tea in the parlor. 

The chambers were all without carpets, and the 



80 LE'ITERS BIOGKAPHICAL, 

furniture was generally of a simple character. The 
beds, however, were of ample size, and well filled 
with geese feathers, these being deemed essential for 
comfortable people. I must say, by the way, that 
every decent family had its flock of geese, of course, 
which was picked thrice a year, despite the noisy re 
monstrances of both goose and gander. The sheets 
of the bed, though of home-made linen, were as white 
as the driven snow. Indeed, the beds of this era 
showed that sleep was a luxury, well understood and 
duly cherished by all classes. The cellar, extending 
under the whole house, was a vast receptacle, and by 
no means the least important part of the establish 
ment. In the autumn, it was supplied with three 
barrels of beef and as many of pork, twenty barrels of 
cider, with numerous bins of potatoes, turnips, beets, 
carrots, and cabbages. The garret, which was of 
huge dimensions, at the same time displayed a laby 
rinth of dried pumpkins, peaches, and apples hung 
in festoons upon the rafters, amid bunches of summer 
savory, boneset, fennel, and other herbs the floor 
being occupied by heaps of wool, flax, tow, and the 
like. 

The barn corresponded to the house. It was a low 
brown structure, having abundance of sheds built on 
to it, without the least regard to symmetry. I need 
not say it was well stocked with hay, oats, rye, and 
buckwheat. Six cows, one or two horses, three dozen 
sheep, and an ample supply of poultry, including two 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 81 

or three broods of turkeys, constituted its living 
tenants. 

The farm I need not describe in detail, but the 
orchard must not be overlooked. This consisted of 
three acres, covered, as I have said, with apple-trees, 
yielding abundantly as well for the cider-mill as for 
the table, including the indispensable winter apple 
sauce according to their kinds. In the spring, an 
apple orchard is one of the most beautiful objects 
in the world. No tree or shrub presents a bloom 
at once so gorgeous, and so fragrant. Just at this 
time it is the paradise of the bees and the birds the 
former filling the air with their gentle murmurs, and 
the latter celebrating their nuptials with all the frolic 
and fun of a universal jubilee. How often have 
I ventured into Uncle Josey's ample orchard at this 
joyous season, andj^ood entranced among the robins, 
blackbirds, woodpeckers, bluebirds, jays, and orioles, 
all seeming to me like playmates, racing, cha 
sing, singing, rollicking, in the exuberance of their 
joy, or perchance slyly pursuing their courtships, or 
even more slyly building their nests, and rearing 
their young. 

The inmates of the house I need not describe, fur 
ther than to say that Uncle Josey himself was a little 
deaf, and of moderate capacity, yet he lived to good 
account, for he reared a large family, and was gath 
ered to his fathers at a good old age, leaving be 
hind him a handsome estate, a fair name, and a safe 



82 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

example. His wife, who spent her early life at ser 
vice in a kitchen, was a handsome, lively, efficient 
woman, mother of a large and prosperous family, and 
a universal favorite in the neighborhood. She is 
still living in a green old age, with several genera 
tions of descendants, who call down blessings on her 
name. 

This is the homely picture of a Ridgefield farmer's 
home, half a century ago. There were other estab 
lishments more extensive and more sumptuous in the 
town, as there were others also of an inferior grade. 
Yet this was a fair sample of the houses, barns, and 
farms of the middle class the majority of the peo 
ple. Since then the times have changed, as I shall 
hereafter show : the general standard of living has in 
all things improved; but still the same elements of 
thrift, economy, piety, prudence, and progress are 
visible on every side. Uncle Josey's house is still 
standing ; its exterior shows no coat of paint, but 
the interior displays Kidderminster carpets made at 
Enfield or Lowell mahogany bureaus, gilt looking- 
glasses, and a small well-filled mahogany bookcase. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 83 



LETTER VII. 

Domestic Habits of the People Meals Servants and Masters Dress 
Amusements Festivals Marriages Funeral-s Dancing Winter 
Sports Up and Dawn My Two Grandmothers. 



R C****** 

You will gather from my preceding letter, some 
ideas of the household industry and occupations of 
country people in Connecticut, at .the beginning of 
the present century. Their manners, in other re 
spects, had a corresponding stamp of homeliness and 
simplicity. 

In most families, the first exercise of the morning 
was reading the Bible, followed by a prayer, at which 
all were assembled, including the servants and help 
ers of the kitchen and the farm. Then came the 
breakfast, which was a substantial meal, always in 
cluding hot viands, with vegetables, apple-sauce, pick 
les, mustard, horseradish, and various other condi 
ments. Cider was the common drink for laboring 
people; even children drank it at will. Tea was 
common, but not so general as now. Coffee was al 
most unknown. Dinner was a still more hearty and 
varied repast characterized by abundance of garden 
vegetables ; tea was a light supper. 

The day began early : breakfast was had at six in 
summer and seven in winter ; dinner at noon the 



4 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

work people in the fields being called to their meals 
by a conch-shell, usually winded by some kitchen 
Triton. The echoing of this noon-tide horn, from 
farm to farm, and over hill and dale, was a species of 
music which even rivaled the popular melody of drum 
and fife. Tea the evening meal, usually took place 
about sundown. In families where all were laborers, 
all sat at table, servants as well as masters the food 
being served before sitting down. In families where 
the masters and mistresses did not share the labors of 
the household or the farm, the meals of the domes 
tics were had separate. There was, however, in those 
days a perfectly good understanding and good feeling 
between the masters and servants. The latter were 
not Irish ; they had not as yet imbibed the pie 
heiau envy of those above them, which has- since so 
generally embittered and embarrassed American do 
mestic life. The terms democrat and aristocrat had 
not got into use: these distinctions, and the feelings 
now implied by them, had indeed no existence in 
the hearts of the people. Our servants, during all 
my early life, were of the neighborhood, generally 
the daughters of respectable farmers and mechanics, 
and respecting others, were themselves respected and 
cherished. They were devoted to the interests ol 
the family, and were always relied upon and treated 
as friends. In health, they had the same food ; in 
sickness, the same care as the masters and mistresses 
or their children. This servitude implied no degra- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AT,, >ITC. 85 

dation, because it did not degrade the heart or man 
ners of those subjected to it. It was never thought 
of as a reproach to a man or woman in the stations 
they afterwards filled that he or she had been out 
to service. If servitude has since become associated 
with debasement, it is only because servants them 
selves, under the bad guidance of demagogues, have 
lowered their calling by low feelings and low man 
ners. 

At the period of my earliest recollections, men of 
all classes were dressed in long, broad-tailed coats, 
with huge pockets, long waistcoats, and breeches. 
Hats had low crowns, with broad brims some so 
wide as to be supported at the sides with cords. The 
stockings of the parson, and a few others, were of 
silk in summer and worsted in winter ; those of the 
people were generally of wool, and blue and gray 
mixed. Women dressed in wide bonnets some 
times of straw and sometimes of silk : the gowns 
were of silk, muslin, gingham, &c. generally close 
and short-waisted, the breast and shoulders being 
covered by a full muslin kerchief. Girls ornamented 
themselves with a large white Vandyke. On the 
whole, the dress of both men and women has greatly 
changed. As to the former, short, snug, close-fitting 
garments have succeeded to the loose latitudinarian 
coats of former times : stove-pipe hats have followed 
broad brims, and pantaloons have taken the place of 
breeches. With the other sex little French bon- 



80 I.KTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

nets, set round with glowing flowers, flourish in the 
plaee of the plain, yawning hats of yore ; then it was 
as much an effort to make the waists short, as it is 
now to make them long. As to the hips, which now 
make so formidable a display it seems to me that 
in the days I allude to, ladies had none to speak of. 

The amusements were then much the same as at 
present though some striking differences may be 
noted. Books and newspapers which are now dif 
fused even among the country towns, so as to be in the 
hands of all, young and old were then scarce, and 
were read respectfully, and as if they were grave mat- 
lei's, demanding thought and attention. They were 
not toys and pastimes, taken up every day, and by 
everybody, in the short intervals of labor, and then 
hastily dismissed, like waste paper. The aged sat 
down when they read, and drew forth their specta 
cles, and put them deliberately and reverently upon 
the nose. These instruments were not as now, little 
tortoise-shell hooks, attached to a ribbon, and put off 
and on with a jerk ; but they were of silver or steel, sub 
stantially made, and calculated to hold on with a firm 
and steady grasp, showing the gravity of the uses to 
which they were devoted. Even the young ap 
proached a book with reverence, and a newspaper 
with awe. How the world has changed ! 

The two great festivals were Thanksgiving and 
1 training-day" the latter deriving, from the still lin 
gering spirit of the revolutionary war, a decidedly 



IIISTOniCAL, ANKCDOTTCAL, ETC. 87 

martial character. The marching of the troops, and 
the discharge of gunpowder, which invariably closed 
the exercises, were glorious and inspiring mementoes 
of heroic achievements, upon many a bloody field. 
The music of the drum and fife resounded on every 
side. A match between two rival drummers always 
drew an admiring crowd, aud was in fact one of the 
chief excitements of the great day. 

Tavern haunting especially in winter, when there 
was little to do for manufactures had not then sprung 
up to give profitable occupation, during this inclement 
season was common, even with respectable farmers. 
Marriages were celebrated in the evening, at the house 
of the bride, with a general gathering of the neigh 
borhood, and usually wound off by dancing. Every 
body went, as to a public exhibition, without invita 
tion. Funerals generally drew large processions, 
which proceeded to the grave. Here the minister 
always made an. address, suited to the occasion. If 
there was any thing remarkable in the history of the 
deceased, it was turned to religious account in the 
next Sunday's sermon. Singing meetings, to practice 
church music, were a great resource for the young, in 
winter. Dances at private houses were common, and 
drew no reproaches from the sober people present. 
Balls at the taverns were frequented by the young: 
the children of deacons and ministers attended, though 
the parents did not. The winter brought sleighing, 
skating, and the usual round of indoor sports. In 



88 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

general, the intercourse of all classes was kindly and 
considerate no one arrogating superiority, and yet 
no one refusing to acknowledge it, where it existed. 
You would hardly have noticed that there was a 
higher and a lower class. Such there were certainly, 
for there must always and everywhere be the strong 
and the weak, the wise and the foolish those of supe 
rior and those of inferior intellect, taste, manners, ap 
pearance, and character. But in our society, these 
existed without being felt as a privilege to one which 
must give offence to another. The feuds between Up 
and Down, which have since disturbed the whole fab 
ric of society, had not then begun. 

It may serve, in some degree, to throw light upon 
the manners and customs of this period, if I give you 
a sketch of my two grandmothers. Both were wid 
ows, and were well stricken in years, when they 
came to visit us at Ridgefield about the year 1803 
or 4. My grandmother Ely was of the old regime 
a lady of the old school, and sustaining the char 
acter in her upright carriage, her long, tapering 
waist, and her high-heeled shoes. The costumes of 
Louis XV.'s tune had prevailed in New York and 
. Boston, and even at this period they still lingered 
there, in isolated cases, though the Revolution had 
generally exercised a transforming influence upon the 
toilet of both men and women. It is curious enough 
that at this moment 1855 the female attire of a 
century ago is revived ; and in every black-eyed, 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 89 

stately old lady, dressed in black silk, and showing 
her steel-gray hair beneath her cap, I can now see 
semblances of this, my maternal grandmother. 

My other grandmother was in all things the oppo 
site : short, fat, blue -eyed, practical, utilitarian. She 
was a good example of the country dame hearty, 
homespun, familiar, full of strong sense and practical 
energy. I scarcely know which of the two I liked the 
best. The first sang me plaintive songs ; told me sto 
ries of the Revolution her husband, Col. Ely, hav 
ing had a large and painful share in its vicissitudes; 
she described Gen. Washington, whom she had seen ; 
and the French officers, Lafayette, Rochambeau, and 
others, who had been inmates of her house. She told 
me tales of even more ancient date, and recited poetry, 
generally consisting of ballads, which were suited to 
my taste. And all this lore was commended to me 
by a voice of inimitable tenderness, and a manner at 
once lofty and condescending. My other grandmoth 
er was not less kind, but she promoted my happiness 
and prosperity in another way. Instead of stories, 
she gave me bread and butter: in place of poetry, 
she fed me with apple-sauce and pie. Never was 
there a more hearty old lady : she had a firm con 
viction that children must be fed, and what she be 
lieved, she practiced. 



90 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 



LETTER VIII. 

Interest in Mechanical Devices Agriculture My Parents Design me for 
a Carpenter The Dawn of the Age of Invention Fulton, &c. Per 
petual Motion Whittling Gentlemen St. Paul, King Alfred, Dan 
iel Webster, &c. Desire of Improvement, a New England Character 
istic^- Hunting The Bow and Arrow The Fowling-piece Pigeons 
Anecdote of Parson, M . . . . Aud-ubon and Wilson The Passenger 
Pigeon Sporting Rambles The Blacksnake and Screech-owl Fishing 
Advantages of Country Life and Country Training. 

MY DEAR C;****** 

I can recollect with great vividness the interest 
I took in the domestic events I have described, and 
which circled with the seasons in our household at 
this period. I had no great interest in the operations 
of the farm. Plowing, hoeing, digging, seemed to 
me mere drudgery, imparting no instruction, and af 
fording no scope for ingenuity or invention. I had 
not yet learned to contemplate agriculture in its eco 
nomical aspect, nor had my mind yet risen to that 
still higher view of husbandry, which leads to a sci 
entific study of the soil and the seasons, and teaches 
man to become a kind of second Providence to those 
portions of the earth which are subjected to his care. 
The mechanical operations I have described, as well 
as others especially those of the weaver and carpen 
ter, on the contrary, stimulated my curiosity, and ex 
cited my emulation. Thus I soon became familiar with 
the tools of the latter, and made such windmills, 



HISTORICAL, ANRCDOTICAL, ETC. 91 

kites, and perpetual motions, as to extort the admi 
ration of my playmates, and excite the respect of my 
parents, so that they seriously meditated putting me 
apprentice to a carpenter. Up to the age of fourteen, 
I think this was regarded as my manifest destiny. I 
certainly took great delight in mechanical devices, 
and became a celebrity on pine shingles with a pen 
knife. It was a day of great endeavors among all 
inventive geniuses. Fulton was struggling to develop 
steam navigation, and other discoverers were thunder 
ing at the gates of knowledge, and seeking to unfold 
the wonders of art as well as of nature. It was, in fact, 
the very threshold of the era of steamboats, railroads, 
electric telegraphs, and a thousand other useful dis 
coveries, which have since changed the face of the 
world. In this age of excitement, perpetual motion 
was the great hobby of aspiring mechanics, as it 
has been indeed ever since. I pondered and whit 
tled intensely on this subject before I was ten years 
old. Despairing of reaching my object by mechan 
ical means, I attempted to arrive at it by magnetism, 
my father having bought me a pair of horse-shoe 
magnets in one of his journeys to New Haven. I 
should have succeeded, had it not been a principle 
in the nature of this curious element, that no sub 
stance will instantly intercept the stream of attraction. 
I tried to change the poles, and turn the north against 
the south ; but there too nature had headed me, and 
of course I failed. 



92 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

A word, by the way, on the matter of whittling. 
This is generally represented as a sort of idle, fidgety, 
frivolous use of the penknife, and is set down by amia 
ble foreigners and sketchers of American manners as 
a peculiar characteristic of our people. No portrait of 
an American is deemed complete, whether in the sa 
loon or the senate-chamber, at home or on the high 
way, unless with penknife and shingle in hand. I 
feel not the slightest disposition to resent even this, 
among the thousand caricatures that pass for traits 
of American life. For my own part, I can testify 
that, during my youthful, days, I found the pen 
knife a source of great amusement and even of in 
struction. Many a long winter evening, many a dull, 
drizzly day, in spring and summer and autumn some 
times at the kitchen fireside, sometimes in the attic, 
amid festoons of dried apples, peaches, and pumpkins ; 
sometimes in a cosy nook of the barn ; sometimes in 
the shelter of a neighboring stone- wall, thatched over 
with wild grape-vines have I spent in great ecstasy, 
making candle-rods, or some other simple article of 
household goods, for my mother, or in perfecting 
toys for myself and my young friends, or perhaps 
in attempts at more ambitious achievements. This 
was not mere waste of time, mere idleness and 
dissipation. I was amused : that was something. 
Some of the pleasantest remembrances of my child 
hood carry me back to the scenes I have just indi 
cated, when in happy solitude, absorbed in my me- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 93 

chanical devices, I still listened to the rain pattering 
upon the roof, or the wind roaring down the chimney 
thus enjoying a double bliss a pleasing occupa 
tion, with a conscious delight in my sense of security 
from the rage of the elements without. 

Nay more these occupations were instructive: 
my mind was stimulated to inquire into the mechan 
ical powers, and my hand was educated to mechanical 
dexterity. Smile, if you please but reflect ! Why 
is it, that we in the United States surpass all other 
nations, in the excellence of our tools of all kinds ? 
Why are our axes, knives, hoes, spades, plows, the 
best in the world? Because in part, at least 
we learn, in early life, this alphabet of mechanics the 
oretical and practical whittling. Nearly every head 
and hand is trained to it. We know and feel the 
difference between dull and sharp tools. At ten 
years old, we are all epicures in cutting instruments. 
This is the beginning, and we go on, as a matter of 
course, toward perfection. The inventive head, and 
the skillful, executing hand, thus become general, 
national, characteristic among us. 

I am perfectly aware that some people, in this 
country as well as others, despise labor, and espe 
cially manual labor, as ungenteel. There are people 
in these United States who scoff at New England on 
account of this general use of thrifty, productive 
industry, among our people as a point of education. 
The gentleman, say these refined persons, must not 



94 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

work. It is not easy to cite a higher example of a 
gentleman in thought, feeling, and manner than 
St. Paul, and he was a tent-maker : King Alfred was 
a gentleman, and he could turn his hand to servile 
labor. But let me refer to New England examples. 
Daniel Webster was a gentleman, and he began with 
the scythe and the plow ; Abbot Lawrence was a 
gentleman, and he served through every grade, an 
apprenticeship to his profession ; Timothy Dwight 
was a gentleman, and was trained to the positive la 
bors of the farm ; Franklin, the printer ; Sherman, 
the shoemaker; Ellsworth, the teamster all were gen 
tlemen, and of that high order which regards truth, 
honor, manliness, as its essential basis. Nothing, in 
my view, is more despicable, nothing more calculated 
to diffuse and cherish a debasing effeminacy of body 
and soul, than the doctrine that labor is degrading. 
Where such ideas prevail, rottenness lies at the foun 
dation of society. 

But to go back to my theme. If you ask me 
why it is that this important institution of whit 
tling is indigenous among us, I reply, that, in the 
first place, our country is full of a great variety of 
woods, suited to carpentry, many of them easily 
wrought, and thus inviting boyhood to try its hands 
upon them. In the next place, labor is dear, and 
therefore even children are led to supply themselves 
with toys, or perchance to furnish some of the sim 
pler articles of use to the household. This dearness 




WHITTLING. Vol. 1, p. 94. 



HISTORICAL, ANLCDOT1CAL, ETC. 95 

of labor, moreover, furnishes a powerful stimulant 
to the production of labor-saving machines, and 
hence it is through all these causes, co-operating 
one with another that steam navigation, the elec 
tric telegraph, the steam reaper, &c., &c., are Ameri 
can inventions : hence it is that, whether it be at the 
"World's Fair in London or Paris, we gain a greater 
proportion of prizes for useful inventions, than any 
other people. That is what comes of whittling ! 

There is no doubt another element to be considered 
in a close and philosophical view of what I state 
this aptitude of our people, especially those of New 
England, for mechanical invention. The desire of 
improvement is inherent in the New England char 
acter. This springs from two principles : first, a 
moral sense, founded upon religious ideas, making 
it the duty of every man to seek constantly to be and 
do better, day by day, as he advances in life. This 
is the great main-spring, set in the heart by Puritan 
ism. Its action reaches alike to time and to eternity. 
Mr. Webster well illustrated the New England char 
acter in this respect, when he describes his father as 
" shrinking from no toil, no sacrifice, to serve his 
country, and to raise his children to a condition bet 
ter than his own." This desire of improvement is 
indeed extended to the children, and animates the 
bosom of every parent. 

The other principle I allude to is liberty, civil 
and social actual and practical. New England is 



9t) LKTTKKS BIOGKAPHICAL, 

probably the only country in the world, where every 
man, generally speaking, has or can have the means 
that is, the money, the intelligence, the knowledge, 
the power to choose his career ; to say where he 
will live, what profession he will follow, what po 
sition he will occupy. 

It is this moral sense, in every man's bosom, im 
pelling him to seek improvement in all things, co 
operating with this liberty, giving him the right 
and the ability to seek happiness in his own way 
which forms this universal spirit of improvement 
the distinguishing feature of the New England 
people. It is this which has conquered our savage 
climate, subdued the forests, and planted the whole 
country with smiling towns and villages : it is this 
which has established a system of universal educa 
tion, cherished religion, promoted literature, founded 
benign institutions, perfected our political system, 
and abolished negro slavery, imposed upon us by the 
mother country. 

It is easy to trace the operations of this principle 
in the humblest as well as the highest classes. The 
man at the plow is not a mere drudge : he is not like 
the debased subject of European despotism, a servile 
tool, an unthinking, unhoping, unaspiring animal, to 
use his muscles, without thought as to the result of 
his labor. Let me tell you an anecdote which will 
illustrate this matter. Some years ago, a young New 
Englander found himself in the back parts of Penn- 



HISTORICAL, ANEODOT1CAL, ETC. 07 

sylvania, ashore as to the means of living. In this 
strait he applied to a wealthy Quaker in the neigh 
borhood for help. 

"I will furnish thee with work, and pay thee for 
it, friend," said the Quaker ; " but it is not my cus 
tom to give alms to one able to labor, like thee." 

" Well, that's all I want," said the Yankee : " of 
course I am willing to work." 

" What can thee do, friend ?" 

"Any thing. I will do any thing, to get a little 
money, to help me out of my difficulties." 

" Well there is a log yonder ; and there is an 
axe. Thee may pound on the log with the head of 
the axe, and if thee is diligent and faithful, I will pay 
thee a dollar a day." 

" Agreed : I'd as soon do that as any thing else." 

And so the youth went to work, and pounded 
lustily with the head of the axe upon the log. After 
a time he paused to take breath ; then be began again. 
But after half an hour he stopped, threw down the 
axe impatiently, and walked away, saying, " I'll be 
hanged if I'll cut' wood without seeing the chips fly 1" 

Thus the Yankee laborer has a mind that must be 
contented : he looks to the result of his labor ; and if 
his tools or implements are imperfect, his first im 
pulse is to improve them, and finally to perfect them. 
In this endeavor, he is of course aided by the me 
chanical aptitude, to which I have already alluded ; 
and hence it is, that not only our utensils, for every 

VOL. I. ft 



98 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

species of common work, but our machines generally 
for the saving of labor, are thus excellent. With 
what painful sympathy have I seen the peasants in 
ingenious France and classic Italy sweating and toil 
ing with uncouth, unhandy implements, which have 
undergone no improvement for a thousand years, 
and which abundantly bespeak the despotism which 
for that period has kept their minds as well as their 
bodies in bondage ! You will not wonder that such 
observations have carried me back to my native New 
England, and taught me to appreciate the character 
and institutions of its people. 

I must add, in descending from this lofty digres 
sion to my simpler story, that in these early days, I 
was a Nimrod, a mighty hunter first with a bow 
and arrow, and afterward with the old hereditary 
firelock, which snapped six times and went off once. 
The smaller kinds of game were abundant. The 
thickets teemed with quails ;* partridges drummed in 
every wood ; the gray-squirrel the most picturesque 
animal of our forests enlivened every hickory copse 
with his mocking laugh, his lively gambols, and his 
long bannered tail. The pigeons in spring and au 
tumn migrated in countless flocks, and many lin 
gered in our woods for the season, 

Everybody was then a hunter, not of course a 



* The American quail is a species of partridge, in size between the 
European quail and partridge. The partridge of New England is the 
pheatant of the South, and the ruffed grouse of the naturalists. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOT1CAL, ETC. 99 

sportsman, for the chase was followed more for 
profit than for pastime. Grame was, in point of fact, 
a substantial portion of the supply of food at cer 
tain seasons of the year. All were then good shots, 
and my father could not be an exception : he was 
even beyond his generation in netting pigeons. This 
was not deemed a reproach at that time in a clergy 
man, nor was he the only parson that indulged in 
these occupations. One day, as I was with him on West 
Mountain, baiting pigeons, we had seduced a flock of 
three or four dozen down into the bed where they 
were feeding my father and myself lying concealed 
in our bush-hut, close by. Suddenly, whang went a 
gun into the middle of the flock ! Out we ran in 
great indignation, for at least a dozen of the birds 
were bleeding and fluttering before us. Scarcely had 
we reached the spot, when we met Parson M . . . . of 
Lower Salem, who had thus unwittingly poached 
upon us. The two clergymen had first a flurry and 
then a good laugh, after which they divided the plun 
der and parted. 

The stories told by Wilson and Audubon as to the 
amazing quantity of pigeons in the West, were real 
ized by us in Connecticut half a century ago. I have 
seen a stream of these noble birds, pouring at brief 
intervals through the skies, from the rising to the 
setting sun, and this in the county of Fairfield. I may 
here add, that of all the pigeon tribe, this of our coun 
try the passenger pigeon is the swiftest and most 



100 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

beautiful of a swift and beautiful generation. At the 
same time it is unquestionably superior to any other 
for the table. All the other species of the eastern as 
well as the western continent, which I have tasted, 
are soft and flavorless in comparison. 

I can recollect no sports of my youth which equal 
ed in excitement our pigeon hunts, generally ta 
king place in September and October. We usually 
started on horseback before daylight, and made a 
rapid progress to some stubble-field on West Mount 
ain. The ride in the keen, fresh air, especially as the 
dawn began to break, was delightful. The gradual 
encroachment of day upon the night, filled my mind 
with sublime images : the waking up of a world from 
sleep, the joyousness of birds and beasts in the re 
turn of morning, and my own sympathy in this 
cheerful and grateful homage of the heart to God, 
the Giver of good all contributed to render these 
adventures most impressive upon my young heart. 
My memory, is still full of the sights and sounds of 
those glorious mornings : the silvery whistle of the 
wings of migrating flocks of plover invisible in the 
gray mists of dawn ; the faint murmur of the distant 
mountain torrents ; the sonorous gong of the long- 
trailing flocks of wild geese, seeming to come from 
the unseen depths of the skies these were among the 
suggestive sounds that stole through the dim twilight. 
As morning advanced, the scene was inconceivably 
beautiful the mountain sides, clothed in autumnal 




CATCHING_PIGEONS. Vol. 1, p. 100. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 101 

green and purple and gold, rendered more glowing by 
the sunrise with the valleys covered with mists and 
spreading out like lakes of silver; while on every 
side the ear was saluted by the mocking screams of 
the red-headed woodpecker, the cawing of congresses 
of crows, clamorous as if talking to Buncombe; and 
finally the rushing sound of the pigeons, pouring like 
a tide over the tops of the trees. 

By this time of course our nets were ready, and 
our flyers and stool-birds on the alert. What mo 
ments of ecstasy were these, and especially when the 
head of the flock some red-breasted old father or 
grandfather caught the sight of our pigeons, and 
turning at the call, drew the whole train down into 
our net-bed. I have often seen a hundred, or two 
hundred of these splendid birds, come upon us, with 
a noise absolutely deafening, and sweeping the air 
with a sudden gust, like the breath of a thunder 
cloud. Sometimes our bush-hut, where we lay con 
cealed, was covered all over with pigeons, and we 
dared not move a finger, as their red, piercing eyes 
were upon us. When at last, with a sudden pull of 
the rope, the net was sprung, and we went out to 
secure our booty often fifty, and sometimes even a 
hundred birds I felt a fullness of triumph, which 
words are wholly inadequate to express ! 

Up to the age of eight years, I was never trusted 
with a gun. Whenever I went forth as a sportsman on 
my own account, it was only with a bow and arrow 



104 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

associations physical, moral, and intellectual are 
thus established and developed. 

It is a riddle to many people that the emigrants 
from the country into the city, in all ages, outstrip 
the natives, and become their masters. The reason 
is obvious : country education and country life are 
practical, and invigorating to body and mind, and 
hence those who are thus qualified triumph in the 
race of life. It has always been, it will always be 
so ; the rustic Goths and Yandals will march in and 
conquer Home, in the future, as they have done in 
the past. I say this, by no means insisting that my 
own life furnishes any very striking proof of the truth 
of my remarks ; still, I may say that but for the 
country training and experience I have alluded to, 
and which served as a foothold for subsequent prog 
ress, I should have lingered in my career far behind 
the humble advances I have actually made. 

Let me illustrate and verify my meaning by spe 
cific examples. In my youth I became familiar with 
every bird common to the country : I knew his call, 
his song, his hue, his food, his habits ; in short, his 
natural history. I could detect him by his flight, as 
far as the eye could reach. I knew all the quadru 
peds wild as well as tame. I was acquainted with 
almost every tree, shrub, bush, and flower, indige 
nous to the country ; not botanically, but according 
to popular ideas. I recognized them instantly, where- 
over I saw them ; I knew their forms, hues, leaves. 



HISTORICAL, AXKCDOTICAL, KTC. 105 

blossoms, and fruit. I could tell their characteristics, 
their uses, the legends and traditions that belonged 
to them. All this I learned by familiarity with these 
objects ; meeting with them in all my walks and ram 
bles, and taking note of them with the emphasis and 
vigor of early experience and observation. In after 
days, I have never had time to make natural history 
a systematic study ; yet my knowledge as to these 
things has constantly accumulated, and that without 
special effort. When I have traveled in other coun 
tries, the birds, the animals, the vegetation, have in 
terested me as well by their resemblances as their 
differences, when compared with our own. In look 
ing over the pages of scientific works on natural his 
tory, I have always read with the eagerness and in 
telligence of preparation ; indeed, of vivid and pleasing 
aasociations. Every idea I had touching these mat 
ters was living and sympathetic, and beckoned other 
ideas to it, and these again originated still others. 
Thus it is that in the race of a busy life, by means of 
a homely, hearty start at the beginning, I have, as 
to these subjects, easily and naturally supplied, in 
some humble degree, the defects of my irregular edu 
cation, and that too, not by a process of repulsive 
toil, but with a relish superior to all the seductions 
of romance. I am therefore a believer in the benefits 
accruing from simple country life and simple coun 
try habits, as here illustrated, and am therefore, on 
all occasions, anxious to recommend them to my 



106 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

friends and countrymen. To city people, I would 
say, educate your children, at least partially, in the 
country, so as to imbue them with the love 'of na 
ture, and that knowledge and training which spring 
from simple rustic sports, exercises, and employ 
ments. To country people, I would remark, be not 
envious of the city, for in the general balance of 
good and evil, you have your full portion of the first, 
with a diminished share of the last. 



LETTER IX. 

Death of Washington Jefferson and Democracy Ridgefald on the Great 
ThorO'ughfare between New York and Boston Jerome Bonaparte and 
hi* Young Wife Oliver Wolcott, Governor Treadwett, and Deacon Olm- 
stead Inauguration of Jefferson Jerry Mead and Ensign feeler 
Democracy and Federalism Charter of Ciiarles II. Elizur Goodrich, 
Deacon Bishop, and President Jefferson Abraham Bishop and " A)x>ut 
Enough, Democracy' 



MY DEAR 

The incidents I have just related revolved about 
the period of 1800 some a little earlier and some a 
little later. Among the events of general interest 
that occurred near this time, I remember the death 
of Washington, which took place in 1799, and was 
commemorated all through the country by the tolling 
of bells, funeral ceremonies, orations, sermons, hymns, 
and dirges, attended by n mournful sense of loss, 



HISTORICAL. ANECDOTIC A I., ETC. 107 

seeming to cast a pall over the entire heavens. In 
Bidgefield, the meeting-house was dressed in black, 
and we had a discourse pronounced by a Mr. Ed 
monds, of Newtown. The subject, indeed, engrossed 
all minds. Lieutenant Smith came every day to our 
house to talk over the event, and to bring us the pro 
ceedings in different parts of the country. Among 
other papers, he brought us a copy of the Connec 
ticut Courant, then, as now, orthodox in all good 
things, and according to the taste of the times, 
duly sprinkled with murders, burglaries, and awful 
disclosures in general. This gave us the particu 
lars of the rites and ceremonies which took place in 
Hartford, in commemoration of the Great Man's de 
cease. The paper was bordered with black, which 
left its indelible ink in my memory. The celebrated 
hymn,* written for the occasion by Theodore D wight, 
sank into my mother's heart for she had a constitu- 



* HYMN sung at Hartford, Conn., during 1 religious services performed 
on the occasion of the death of George Washington, Dec. 27th, 1799. 

What solemn sounds the ear invade ? 
What wraps the land in sorrow's shade ? 
From heaven the awful mandate flies 
The Father of his Country dies. 

Let every heart be till'd with woe, 
Let every eye with tears o'erflow ; 
Each form, oppress'd with deepest gloom, 
Be clad in vestments of the tomb. 

Behold that venerable band 
The rulers of our mourning land, 
With grief proclaim from shore to shore, 
Our guide, our Washington's no more. 



108 i.rm.i:- Dionn. \riucAL, 

tional love of things mournful and poetic and she 
often repeated it, so that it became a part of the cher 
ished lore of my childhood. This hymn has ever 
since been to me suggestive of a solemn pathos, min 
gled with the Eidgefield commemoration of Wash 
ington's death the black drapery of the meeting 
house, and the toll of those funeral bells, far, far over 
the distant hills, now lost and now remembered, as if 
half a dream and half a reality yet for these reasons, 
perhaps, the more suggestive and the more mournful. 
I give you these scenes and feelings in some detail, 
to impress you with the depth and sincerity of this 
mourning of the American nation, in cities and towns, 
in villages and hamlets, for the death of Washington. 
It seems to me wholesome to go back and sympathize 
with those who had stood in his presence, and catch 
from them the feeling which should be sacredly cher 
ished in all future time.* 



Where shall our country torn its eye? 
What help remains beneath the sky ? 
Our Friend, Protector, Strength, and Trust, 
Lies low, and mouldering in the dust. 

Almighty God ! to Thee we fly ; 
Before Thy throne above the sky, 
In deep prostration humbly bow, 
And pour the penitential vow. 

Hear, Most High ! our earnest prayer 
Our country take beneath Thy care ; 
When dangers press and foes draw near, 
Let future Washingtons appear. 

* Mr. Jefferson and his satellites had begun their attacks upon 
Washington several years before this poriod ; but beyond the circle of 



AN'KCDOTK'AL, J.TC. 109 

I have already said that Eidgefield was on the 
great thoroughfare between Boston and New York, 
for the day of steamers and railroads had not 

interested partisans, and those to whom virtue is a reproach and glory 
an offence, they had not yet corrupted or abused the hearts of the peo 
ple. Some years later, under the presidency of Jefferson and his im 
mediate successor, democracy being in the ascendant, Washington 
seemed to be fading from the national remembrance. Jefferson was 
then the master ; and even somewhat later, a distinguished Senator said 
in his place in Congress, that his name and his principles exercised a 
greater influence over the minds of the people of his native State Vir 
ginia than even the " Father of his Country." Strange to say, thin 
declaration was made rather in the spirit of triumph than of humiliation. 
At the present day the name of Jefferson has lost much of its charm in 
the United States: democracy itself seeirns to be taking down its first 
idol, and placing Andrew Jackson upon the pedestal. Formerly " Jrf- 
ffrson Democracy 1 '' was the party watchword : now it is " Jackson De 
mocracy." The disclosures of the last thirty years made by Mr. Jeffer 
son's own correspondence, and that of others show him to have been 
very different from what he appeared to be. Had his true charade* 
been fully understood, it is doubtful if he would ever have been Presi 
dent of the United States. He was in fact a marvelous compound of 
good and evil, and it is not stransre that it has taken time to comprehend 
him. He was a man of rare intellectual faculties, but he had one defect 
ft want of practical controlling faith in God and man in human truth 
and human virtue. He did good things, great things : he aided to con 
struct noble institutions, but he undermined them by taking away their 
foundations. He was, in most respects, the opposite of Washington, 
and hence his hatred of him was no doubt sincere. We may even sup 
pose that the virulent abuse which he caused to be heaped upon him by 
hireling editors, was at least partially founded upon conviction. Wash 
ington believed in God, and made right the starting-point of all his ac 
tions. Next to God, was his country. His principles went before ; 
there was no expediency for him, that was not dictated by rectitude 
of thought, word, and deed. He was a democrat, but in the English, 
Puritan, sense that of depositing power in the hands of the people, 
and of seeking to guide them only by the truth by instructing 
them, elevating them, and exclusively for their own good. Jefferson, 
on the contrary, was a democrat according to French ideas, and those 
of the loosest days of the Revolution. Expediency was with him the 
betrinninsr, the middle, the end of conduct. God seems not to have 
been in all his thought. He penetrated the masses with his astute in 
telligence : he had soon in Paris how they could be deluded, stimulated, 



110 LETTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

dawned. Even the mania for- turnpikes, which ere 
long overspread New England, had not yet arrived. 
The stage-coaches took four days to make the trip 
of two hundred miles between the two great cities. 
In winter, the journey was often protracted to a 
week, and during the furious snow-storms of those 
times, to eight or ten days. With such public con- 



led, and especially by artful appeals to the baser passions. His party 
policy seems to have been founded upon alow estimate of human na 
ture in general, and a contempt of the majority in particular. Hence, 
in attempting to elevate himself to the chief magistracy of the Union, 
nis method was to vilify Washington, and at the same time to pay court 
to the foibles, prejudices, and low propensities of the million. Dema- 
gogism was his system, and never was it more seductively practiced. 
Over all there was a profound vaiJ of dissimulation ; a placid philosophy 
seemed .to sit upon his face, even while he was secretly urging the as 
sassin's blade to the hilt, against the name and fame of him who was 
" first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." 
Simplicity and humility appeared to rule in his bosom, while yet he was 
steadily paving his way to power. He succeeded, and through the pres 
tige of his position, the original democracy of the United States was oast 
in his image. He was the father, the founder, the establishor of dema- 
gogism in this country, and this unmanly and debasing system of pol 
icy has since continued to contaminate and debauch the politics of the 
land. 

There is perhaps some growing disgust at this state of things, but 
whether we shall ever return to the open, manly, patriotic principles 
and practice of Washington, is a question which no man can presume 
tp answer. At all events, it seems to me, every one who lias influence 
should sedulously exert it to purify, elevate, and ennoble the public 
spirit. As one means, let us ever keep in view let us study and cher 
ish the character of Washington. Let our politicians even, do this, 
i\nd while they esteem and follow what was really good in Jefferson, let 
tiiem beware how they commend his character us an example to those 
over whom they exercise a controlling influence. 

1'ower is ennobling, when honorably acquired, and patriotically em 
ployed ; but when obtained by intrigue, aud used for selfish ends, it is 
degrading alike to him who exercises it and those who are subjected 
to its influence. It is quite time that all good men should combine to 
l>ut down demagogues ami dcmago^ism. 



HTSTOUICAL, ANKCDOTICAT,, ETC. Ill 

veyances, great people for even then the world 
was divided into the great and little, as it is now-^- 
traveled in their own carriages. 

About this time it must have been in the sum 
mer of 1804 I remember Jerome Bonaparte coming 
np to Keeler's tavern with a coach and four, attend 
ed by his young wife, Miss Patterson, of Baltimore. 
It was a gay establishment, and the honeymoon sat 
happily on the tall, sallow stripling, and his young 
bride. You must remember that Napoleon was 
then filling the world with his fame: at this mo 
ment his feet were on the threshold of the empire. 
The arrival of his brother in the United States of 
course made a sensation. His marriage, his move 
ments, all were gossiped over, from Maine to Georgia 
not Castine to California these being the extreme 
points of the Union. His entrance into Eidgefield pro 
duced a flutter of excitement, even there. A crowd 
gathered around Keeler's tavern, to catch a sight of 
the strangers, and I among the rest. I had a good, 
long look at Jerome, who was the chief object of in 
terest, and the image never faded from my recollec 
tion. 

Half a century later, I was one evening at the Tuil- 
cries, amid the flush and the fair of Louis Napoleon's 
new court. Among them I saw an old man, taller than 
the mass around his nose and chin almost meeting 
in contact, while his toothless gums were "munching 
the airy meal of dotage and decrepitude," I was irre- 



112 I.KTIKIW m 

sistibly chained to this object, as if a spectre had 
risen up through the floor, and stood among the 
garish throng. My memory traveled back back 
among the winding labyrinths of years. Suddenly 
I found the clue: the stranger was Jerome Bona 
parte ! 

Ah, what a history lay between the past and pres 
ent a lapse of nearly fifty years. What a differ 
ence between him then and now ! Then he was a 
gay and gallant bridegroom; now, though he had 
the title of king, he was throneless and scepterless 
an Invalid Governor of Invalids the puppet and 
pageant of an adventurer, whose power lay in the 
mere magic of a name.* 



* Jerome Bonaparte, the youngest brother of Napoleon, was horn in 
1784, and is now (1856) 72 years old. He was educated for the nav:il 
service, and in 1801 had the command of the corvette, L'Epervier. In 
this, the same year, he sailed with the expedition to St. Domingo, com- 
munded by his brother-in-law, Gen. Leclerc. In March following he 
was cent to France with dispatches, but speedily returned. Hostilities 
oon after were renewed between France and England, and he sailed on 
a cruise for some months, finally putting into the port of New York. 
Me was treated with marked attention in the principal cities New York, 
Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. In the latter ho became attached 
to Elizabeth Patterson daughter of an eminent merchant there and 
distinguished for her beauty and accomplishments. In December, 1803, 
they were married with due ceremony by John Carroll, the Catholic 
Bishop of Baltimore, in the presence of several persons of high dis 
tinction. He remained about a year in America, and in the spring of 
18<5 he sailed with his wife for Europe. Napoleon disapproved of the 
match, and on the arrival of the vessel at the Texel, it was found that 
orders had been left with the authorities not to permit Jerome's wife to 
lnd. She accordingly sailed for England, and taking up her residence 
in the vicinity of London, gave birth to a son, July 7, 1805. This is the 
present Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, of Baltimore. 

Napoleon, who had now become emperor, and desired to use his broth- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 113 

About this time, as I well remember, Oliver Wol- 
cott passed through our village. He arrived at the 
tavern late on Saturday evening, but he called at our 
house in the morning, his family being connected 

ers for his own purposes, set himself to work to abrogate the marriage, 
and applied to Pope Pius VII. for this purpose. That prelate, however, 
refused, inasmuch as the grounds set forth for such a measure were alto 
gether fallacious. Napoleon, however, who was wholly unscrupulous, 
forced his brother into another match, August 12, 1807, with the prin 
cess Frederica Catherina, daughter of the King of Wurtemburg. A few 
clays after he was proclaimed King of Westphalia, which had been created 
into a kingdom for him. He remained in this position till the overthrow 
of the Bonapartes in 1814. After this he lived sometimes in Austria, 
sometimes in Italy, and finally in Paris. He was elected a member of 
the Constitutional Convention of 1848, and was afterwards made Gov 
ernor of the Invalidcs. When Louis Napoleon became emperor in 1852, 
the Palais Royal was fitted up for him, and he now resides there his 
eon, Prince Napoleon, and his daughter (formerly married to the Eus- 
sian Prince Demidoff, but divorced some ten years ago), Princess Ma- 
thilde, also having their apartments there. 

Jerome Bonaparte has very moderate abilities, and though he is now 
considered as nominally in the line of succession after the present em 
peror, his position is only that of a pageant, and even this is derived 
solely from his being the brother of Napoleon. He is taller by some 
inches than was the emperor : he, however, has the bronze complexion, 
and something of the black, stealthy eye, broad brow, the strong, prom- 
iiient chin, the oval face, and the cold, stony expression, which char 
acterized his renowned brother. 

Mrs. Patterson has not followed the career of her weak and unprinci 
pled husband, but has continned to respect her marriage vow. In 1824, 
being in Dublin, I was informed by Lady Morgan, who had recently 
seen her in Paris, that the princess Borghese (Napoleon's sister Pauline) 
had offered to Mrs. Patterson to adopt her son, and make him heir of 
her immense possessions, if he would come to Italy, and be placed under 
her care : her answer was, that she preferred to have him a respectable 
citizen of the United States to any position wealth or power could give 
him in Europe. She doubtless judged well and wisely, for the Princess 
Borghese has left behind her a most detestable reputation. Jerome Na 
poleon Bonaparte, of Baltimore, has recently been to Paris, where he 
has been well received by his father and the emperor; and his son, ed 
ucated at West Point, is a captain in the French army in the Crimea, 
and has just been decorated with the Cross of the Legion of Honor 
(1856). 



114: LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

with ours. He was a great man then ; for not only 
are the Wolcotts traditionally and historically a dis 
tinguished race in Connecticut, but he had recently 
been a member of Washington's cabinet. I shall 
have occasion to speak of him more particularly 
hereafter. I mention him now only for the pur 
pose of noting his deference to public opinion, char 
acteristic of the eminent men of that day. In the 
morning he went to church, but immediately after 
the sermon, he had his horses brought up, and pro 
ceeded on his way. He, however, had requested my 
father to state to his.people, at the opening of the 
afternoon service, that he was traveling on public 
business, and though he regretted it, he was obliged 
to continue his journey on the Sabbath. This my 
father did, but Deacon Ol instead, the Jeremiah of 
the parish, shook his white locks, and lifted up his 
voice against such a desecration of the Lord's day. 
Some years after as I remember Lieutenant-gov 
ernor Treadwell arrived at Keeler's tavern on Satur 
day evening, and prepared to prosecute his journey 
the next morning, his daughter, who was with him, 
being ill. This same Deacon Olmstead called upon 
him, and said, " Sir, if you thus set the example of 
a violation of the Sabbath, you must expect to get 
one vote less at the next election !" The Governor 
was so much struck by the appearance of the deacon 
who was the very image of a patriarch or a prophet 
that he deferred his departure till Monday. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, ETC. 115 

Another event of this era I remember, and that 
is, the celebration of the inauguration of Jefferson, 
March 4th, A. D. 1801. At this period, the Demo 
cratic, or, as it was then called, the Kepublican party, 
was not large in Connecticut, yet it was zealous in 
proportion to its insignificance. The men of wealth, 
the professional men those of good position and large 
influence generally throughout the State, were almost 
exclusively federalists. The old platform of religion 
and politics still stood strong, although agitated and 
fretted a little by the rising tide of what afterward 
swelled into a flood, under the captivating name of 
Toleration. The young Hercules in Ridgefield was 
in his cradle when Jefferson was made President ; but 
nevertheless, he used his lungs lustily upon the occa 
sion. On the day of the inauguration, the old field- 
piece, a four-pounder, which had been stuck muzzle 
down as a horse-post at Keeler's tavern, since the 
fight of 1777, was dug up, swabbed, and fired off 
sixteen times, that being the number of States then 
in the Union. At first the cannon had a somewhat 
stifled and wheezing tone, but this soon, grew louder, 
and at last the hills re-echoed to the rejoicing of de 
mocracy from High Ridge to West Mountain. This 
might be taken as prophetic, for the voice of democ 
racy, then small and asthmatic, like this old field- 
piece, soon cleared its throat, and thundered like 
Sinai, giving law to the land. 

My father was a man of calm and liberal temper, 



116 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

but he was still of the old school, believing in things 
as they were, and therefore he regarded these dem 
onstrations with a certain degree of horror. But no 
doubt he felt increased anxiety from the fact that 
several of the members of his congregation partici 
pated in these unseemly orgies. Among these who 
would have thought it ? was Jerry Mead, the shoe 
maker, once itinerant, but now settled down, and 
keeping his shop. He was one of our near neigh 
bors, and the sound of his lapstone, early and late, 
was as regular as the tides. His son Sammy was his 
apprentice, and having a turn for mirth and music, 
diverted the neighborhood by playing popular airs 
as he pounded his leather ; but Jerry himself was 
a grave, nay, an austere person, and for this reason, 
as well as others, was esteemed a respectability. He 
was a man of plain, strong sense ; he went regularly 
to meeting ; sent his children to school, and cut their 
hair, close and square, according to the creed. It 
might have been natural enough for his son Sammy, 
who was given to the earthly vanities of music, 
dancing, and the like, to have turned out a demo 
crat; but for sour, sober, sensible Jerry- -it was quite 
another thing. What must have b?'.r/ my father's 
concern to find on the occasion of th/ aforesaid cele 
bration that Jerry Mead had joined the rabble, and 
in a moment of exaltation, it is said delivered an 
oration at one of their clubs! This might have 
been borne for Jerry was not then a professor but 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 117 

conceive his emotion when he heard that Ensign Kee- 
ler the butcher and bell-ringer who was a half-way 
coven ant- member of the church, had touched off the 
cannon ! I am happy to believe that both these per 
sons saw the error of their ways, and died old feder 
alists, as well as church members in full communion 
notwithstanding these dark episodes; but for the 
time, their conduct seemed to shake the very pillars 
of the state. 

It is difficult for the present generation to enter 
into the feelings of those days. We who are now 
familiar with democracy, can hardly comprehend the 
odium attached to it in the age to which I refer, espe 
cially in the minds of the sober people of our neigh 
borhood. They not only regarded it as hostile to 
good government, but as associated with infidelity in 
religion, radicalism in government, and licentious 
ness in society. It was considered a sort of monster, 
born of Tom Paine,* the French Ee volution, foreign 



* The French Kevolution reached its height in 1793, under what was 
called the Convention. The king perished on the scaffold in January 
of that year, and the queen and the other members of the royal family 
soon after. Atheism had taken the place of religion, and government 
was a wholesale system of murder. All that was good in society seemed 
to have perished. The Eeign of Terror was established under Kobes- 
pierre and his Jacobin Associates in 1794. About this time the French 
Minister Genet came to the United States, and under his auspices, 
Democratic Ulvbs, modeled after those in France, which had enabled the 
Jacobins to get possession of the government of France, were organ 
ized in the United States. Their object was to place our government 
in the hands of the Jacobins here. This was the beginning of democ 
racy in this country. 

The people of America, grateful to France for her assistance iu ob- 



118 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

renegadoes, and the great Father of Evil. Mr. Jeffer 
son, the founder of the party, had been in France, 
and was supposed by his political opponents to have 
adopted the atheism and the libertinism of the rev 
olutionists. His personal character and dangerous 

taining our Independence, naturally sympathized with that nation in its 
attempts to establish a free government. They therefore looked upon 
the Revolution there with favor, amounting at the outset to enthusiasm. 
When Genet arrived, not fully appreciating the horrors it was perpetra 
ting, many of our people still clung to it with hope, if not with confi 
dence. Designing men saw the use they could make of this feeling, 
and in order to employ it for the purposes of seizing upon the govern 
ment, promoted the democratic clubs, and sought to rouse the feelings 
of the masses into a rage resembling that which was deluging Paris 
with blood. Some of these leaders were Americans, but the most ac 
tive were foreigners, many of them adventurers, and men of desperate 
character. One of the most prominent was Thomas Paine, whose name 
is now synonymous with infamy. He was a fair representative of de 
mocracy at this period. 

Fortunately for our country and for mankind, Washington was now 
President, and by his wisdom, his calmness, and his force of character 
and influence, conducted the country through a tempest of disorder 
which threatened to overwhelm it. Thus, a second time was he the 
Saviour of his country. He naturally became the object of hatred to 
the democrats, and upon him all the vials of their wrath were poured. 
Jefferson, as is now known, encouraged, employed, and paid some of 
these defamers. It is true that at this time he did not adopt the term 
democrat nor do we believe he shared its spirit to the full extent : he 
preferred the, term republican, as did his followers, at the outset. A 1- 
terward they adopted the term democrat, in which they now rejoica. 
Of the democratic party, Jefferson was, however, the efficient promoter 
at the beginning, and may be considered its father and its founder. 
From these facts, it will be seen that this dread of him, on the part of the 
staid, conservative, Puritan people of New England, was not without 
good foundation. See HUdreWs History of the United States, second 
series, vol. i. pp. 424 and 455 ; also Griswold^s Republican Guurt, p. 290. 

As Jefferson was the leader of the democratic party, so Washington 
was the head of the federalists. Since that period the terms democrat 
and federalist have undergone many changes of signification, and have 
l>een u?ed for various purposes. Democracy is still the watchword of 
party, but the term federalism is merely historical, that of whig having 
been adopted by the conservatives. 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTICAL, KTC. 119 

political proclivities, as I have said, were not then well 
understood. The greatest fear of him, at this time, 
was as to his moral, religious, and social influence. 
It was supposed that his worshipers could not be bet 
ter than their idol, and it must be confessed that the 
democracy of New England in its beginning raked 
up and absorbed the chaff of society. It is due to the 
truth of history to state that men of blemished reputa 
tions, tipplers, persons of irregular tempers, odd peo 
ple, those who were constitutionally upsetters,* de- 

* I have just stated the historical origin of the two great parties in 
the United States. These, though taking their rise from passing events, 
had a deeper root. In all countries, where there is liberty of speech 
and print, there will be two parties the Conservatives and the Radicals. 
These differences arise mainly from the constitutions of men and their 
varying conditions in society. Some are born Destructives and some 
Constfuctives. The former constitute the nucleus of the radical party. 
They are without property, and therefore make war on property, and 
those who possess it. One of this class, a born radical, usually passes 
his whole life in this condition, for in his nature he is opposed to accu 
mulation. He is characterized by the parable of the rolling-stone which 
gathers no moss. The mass of the radical party in all countries is made 
up of such persons. The born constructive, on the contrary, is for law 
and order by instinct as well as reflection. He is industrious, frnjral, 
acquisitive : he accumulates property, he constructs a fortune, and be 
comes in all things conservative. 

From these two sources, the great parties in the United States derive 
their chief recruits. Most men of intelligence and reflection, however, are 
conservatives in their convictions, because it is by the maintenance ot 
order alone that life and liberty can be preserved. But unhappily intel 
ligent men are often destitute of principle ; they sometimes desire to 
wield political power, and as this is frequently in the hands of the radi 
cals, they piny the demagogue, and flatter the masses, to obtain their 
votes. Ex-president John Adams said, with great truth, that when a 
man, born in the circle of aristocracy, undertakes to play the demagogue, 
he generally does it with more art and success than any other person, 
When the demagogue has acquired power when he has attained the 
object of his ambition he generally takes off the mask, and as he can 
now afford it he is henceforth a conservative. This is the history of 



120 I.ETTKK8 BIOGRAPHICAL, 

structives, comeouters, flocked spontaneously, as if by 
a kind of instinct, to the banner of democracy, about 
the period of Jefferson's first election, and constituted, 
for a considerable period afterward, the staple of the 
party. In due time and when they had increased 
in numbers, they gradually acquired respectable lead 
ers. General King, who became the head of the party 
in Kidgefield, was a high-minded, intelligent man; 
and so it happened in other places. But still, the 
mass in the outset were such as I have described. 

It may be conjectured, then, with what concern a 
sincere and earnest pastor like my father saw some 

most demagogues in this country. Hence it is that demagogism has not 
had the fatal consequences that might have been anticipated. It has 
indeed defiled our politics, it has degraded our manners, and should be 
spurned by every manly bosom ; but yet it has stopped short of the de 
struction of our government and our institutions. 

Demagogism has prevailed to such an extent among us, that a very 
large share of the political offices are now held by demagogues. It 
was otherwise at the outset of our government. The people then 
cast about and selected their best men : now party managers take the 
matter into their own hands, and often select the worst men for offi 
cers, as none but persons who can be bought and sold would answer 
their purpose. Thus, office has sunk in respectability. We have no 
ionger Washingtons, Ellsworths, Shermans men of honor to the heart's 
core at the head of affairs, and stamping our manners and our institu 
tions with virtue and dignity. Office is so low that our first-class men 
shun it. We have too many inferior men in high places who, in de 
grading their stations, degrade the country. This is wrong : it is a sin 
against reason, common sense, patriotism, and prudence. Neverthe 
less, there is, despite these adverse circumstances, spread over this vast 
country a sober, solid, and virtuous majority some in one party and 
some in another who will not permit these-evils to destroy our institu 
tions. Whoever may rule, there is and will be a preponderance of con 
servatism, and this, we trust, will save us. Democracy may rave 
radicalism may foam at the mouth, and these may get the votes and 
appropriate the spoils, but still law and order will prevail, through tho 
supremacy of reason, rectitude, and religion. 



HISTORICAL, ANECixmOAL, ETC. 1^1 

of the members of his own flock, including others 
whom he hoped to gather into the fold, kneeling down 
to this Moloch of democracy. Time passed on, and 
less than twenty years after, federalism was overturn 
ed, and democracy triumphed in Connecticut. The 
old time-honored parchment of Charles II., supposed 
to be a sort of eleventh commandment, and firm as 
Plymouth Eock, passed away, like a scroll, and a new 
constitution was established. "What bodings, what 
anxieties, were experienced during this long agony 
of Conservatism ! And yet society survived. The old 
landmarks, though shaken, still remained, and some of 
them even derived confidence, if not firmness, from 
the agitation. Nay, strange to say, in the succeeding 
generation, democracy cast its slough, put on clean 
linen, and affected respectability. Many of the sons 
of the democrats of 1800, and conceived in its image, 
were the leaders of federalism in 1825. Indeed, the 
word democracy, which was first used as synonymous 
with Jacobinism, has essentially changed its significa 
tion, and now means little more than the progressive 
party, in opposition to the conservative party. 

Such is the cycle of politics, such are the oscilla 
tions of progress and conservatism, which, in point 
of fact, regulate the great march of society, and spur 
it on to constant advances in civilization. These two 
forces, if not indispensable to liberty, are always at 
tendant upon it; one is centripetal, the other cen 
trifugal, and are always in conflict and contending 

VOL. I. 6 



122 LKTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

against each other. The domination of either would 
doubtless lead to abuses ; but the spirit of both, 
duly tempered, combmes to work out the good of all. 
One thing is settled in this country though democ 
racy may seem to rule ; though it may carry the elec 
tions and engross the offices, it is still obliged to bow 
to conservatism, which insists upon the supremacy of 
law and order. Democracy may be a good ladder on 
which to climb into power, but it is then generally 
thrown down, with contempt, by those who have ac 
complished their object, and have no further use for it. 
I must here note, in due chronological order, an 
event which caused no little public emotion. One of 
the first, and perhaps the most conspicuous victim 
of proscription in Jefferson's time, was my uncle, 
Elizur Goodrich, Collector of the port of New Ha 
ven at that time an office of some importance, as 
New Haven had then a large West India trade. The 
story is thus told by the historian : 

" One of the most noticeable of these cases was the removal of 
Elizur Goodrich, lately a representative in Congress from Con 
necticut, who had resigned his seat to accept the office of Col 
lector of New Haven. In his place was appointed Samuel Bish 
op, a respectable old man of seventy-seven, but so nearly blind, 
that he could hardly write his name, and with no particular 
qualifications for the office, or claim to it, except being the fa 
ther of one Abraham Bishop, a young democrat, a lawyer with 
out practice, for whom the appointment was originally intended. 
The claims of the younger Bishop consisted in two political 
orations, which he had recently delivered ; one of them by a 
sort of surprise before a literary society of Yale College, an occa- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 123 

si >n upon which all the dignitaries of the State were collected. 
This was a vehement and flippant, bnt excessively shallow dec 
lamation, yet suited to alarm the popular mind, the burden of 
it being that by commercial, military, clerical, and legal delu 
sions, a monarchy* and aristocracy were just on the point of being 
saddled on the country. To this oration, already in print be 
fore it had been delivered, and which was at once distributed as 
an electioneering document the choice of presidential electors 
being then about to take place NV>ah Webster had immediately 
published a cutting reply, entitled ' A Rod for the Fool's Back.' 
The younger Bishop's second oration, delivered at a festival to 
celebrate the republican triumph, was a parallel, drawn at great 
length, between Jefferson and Jesus Christ ' The illustrious 
chief who, once insulted, now presides over the Union, and Him 
who, once insulted, now presides over the universe.' " Hil- 
dretK's History of the United States, vol. ii. p. 429. 

For several reasons, this event caused great excite 
ment. The election of Jefferson had been made by 
the House of Representatives, after a severe conflict, 
which lasted several weeks. The choice was finally 
effected by Mr. Jefferson's giving pledges to James 
A. Bayard, of Delaware, and some other federal mem 
bers, who consequently withdrew their opposition. He 
agreed, if elected, to follow certain principles .of con 
duct, and stipulated, that while, of course, he would fill 

* The great alarm-cry of the leaders of democracy at this period was, 
that the federalists sympathized with England and hated France ; that 
hence it was clear they were monarchists at heart, and designed to over 
throw our republic, and establish a monarchy in its place. Washington 
was openly and repeatedly charged as a traitor, entertaining these views 
and purposes. It is now known, as already intimated, that Jeffersoc. 
encouraged and even paid some of the editors who made these charges. 
Bee Httdreth, vol. ii. p. 454, <fec. Second Series. 



124: LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

important confidential offices as those of the secreta 
ries of state and treasury, foreign ministers, &c., with 
persons of his own political creed no removals from 
inferior stations, such as "collectors of ports" &c., in 
cluding offices of mere detail, generally, should take 
place on the ground of opinion. The removal above 
alluded to, being in direct violation of this pledge, 
caused great indignation. 

Hitherto removals of even inferior officers had never 
been made because their opinions did not suit the 
President, and hence this instance created general 
surprise as well as alarm, especially when the cir 
cumstances and the motives for the measure were 
taken into consideration. The principal citizens of 
New Haven, particularly the merchants, felt this as 
a severe blow, and accordingly addressed to the Pres 
ident a respectful but earnest remonstrance against 
the change that had taken place. Mr. Jefferson re 
plied in a letter, which has become celebrated, as it 
not only displayed, in a remarkable degree, his rhe 
torical skill and political tact, but it may be said 
to have settled, as a matter of principle in our gov 
ernment, that it is within the province of the Presi 
dent to make removals from office on mere party 
grounds. It is true that this was not largely prac 
ticed by Mr. Jefferson, for public opinion seemed not 
then to be prepared for it ; but the example he set, 
and the skill he manifested in defending this fatal 
doctrine, afterward resulted in an open declaration 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 125 

by his party, that " to the victors belong the spoils 11 
and hence the whole arena of politics has been de 
graded by infusing into it the selfishness and vio 
lence which characterize a battle, where " beauty and 
booty" is the watchword. 

I may not find a better place than this for an anec 
dote, which shows the tendency of political storms, 
like those of nature by sea and by land to re 
volve in a circle. This, Abraham Bishop, just men 
tioned, the son of Collector Bishop, grew up a demo 
crat, and became an able and skillful stump orator. 
He is said to have originated the electioneering apo 
thegm " one doubt loses ten votes !" For several 
years he was the Boanerges of the party in Connecti 
cut, and always went on a circuit to stir up the democ 
racy just previous to the elections. At length he was 
appointed Collector of the port of New Haven, with 
some five thousand dollars a year. Well : again, 
when an election was approaching, he was desired 
by the leaders of the party to go forth and wake 
up the democracy by a round of speeches. " No, 
no," said the Collector with $5000 a year : " I think 
we have quite democracy enough, now !" A few 
years later, Mr. Bishop was in the ranks of the 
whigs or federalists, and died much respected as a 
man of conservative politics, morals, and manners ! 

In short, my dear C . . . ., though I respect a quiet, 
conscientious democrat, as much as I do any other man 
still, when I see a noisy politician crying out, " The 



126 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

democracy ! ho, the democracy !" I consider it pretty 
certain judging from long experience and observa 
tion that, according to the proverb, "Somebody has 
an axe to grind," and desires to wheedle his dupes 
into turning the grindstone, gratis. 



LETTER X, 

How People traveled Fifty Years ago Timothy Pickering Manners 
along the Road Jefferson and Shoe-strings Mr. Priest and Mr. Dem 
ocrat Barbers at Washington James Madison and the Queue Win 
ter and Sleighing Comfortable Meeting '-houses The Stove Party and 
the Anti-Stove Party The first Chaise built in, Ridgefield The Be 
ginning of the Carriage Manufacture there. 

MY DEAR C****** 

I have incidentally remarked that about the be 
ginning of the present century great people traveled, in 
our quarter, not in cars, or steamers, or even in stage 
coaches, to any considerable extent, but in their own 
carriages. The principal travel was on horseback. 
Many of the members of Congress came to Wash 
ington in this way. I have a dim recollection of see 
ing one day, when I was trudging along to school, a 
tall, pale, gaunt man, approaching on horseback with 
his plump saddlebags behind him. I looked at him 
keenly, and made my obeisance as in duty bound. 
He lifted his hat, and bowed in return. By a quick 
instinct, I set him down as a man of mark. In the 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 127 

evening, Lieutenant Smith came to our house and 
told us that Timothy Pickering had passed through 
the town ! He had seen him and talked with him, 
and was vastly distended with the portentous news 
thereby acquired including the rise and fall of em 
pires for ages to come and all of which he duly 
unfolded to our family circle. 

Before I proceed, let me note, in passing, a point 
of manners then universal, but which has now nearly 
faded away. When travelers met with people on 
the highway, both saluted one another with a certain 
dignified and formal courtesy. All children were 
regularly taught at school to " make their manners" 
to strangers ; the boys to bow and the girls to courte 
sy. It was something different from the frank, fa 
miliar "How are you, stranger?" of the Far West; 
something different from the " bon jour, serviteur" of 
the Alps. These no doubt arise from the natural 
sociability of man, and are stimulated into a fash 
ion and a tradition by the sparseness of the pop 
ulation, for sociability is greatly promoted by isola 
tion. Our salute was more measured and formal, 
respect to age and authority being evidently an ele 
ment of this homage, which was sedulously taught 
to the young. Its origin I cannot tell ; perhaps it 
carne from England with the Puritans, and was a 
vestige of that kindly ceremony which always marks 
the intercourse of the upper and lower classes in a 
country where the patrician and plebeian are estob- 



LKTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

lished by law and public sentiment. Perhaps' it Be 
spoke also something of that reign of authority, which 
then regulated society in the affairs of Church and 
State. 

But however this may be, it is certain that for 
children to salute travelers was, in my early days, as 
well a duty as a decency. A child who did not 
" make his manners" to a stranger on the high-road, 
was deemed a low fellow ; a stranger who refused to 
acknowledge this civility was esteemed a sans cu- 
lotte perhaps a favorer of Jacobinism. It may be 
remarked that men of the highest rank in those 
days were particular in these attentions to children ; 
indeed, I may say that the emphasis of a stranger's 
courtesy was generally the measure of his station. 
I can testify that in my own case, the effect of this 
was to impress me strongly with the amiability of 
rank which thus condescended to notice a child ; at 
the same time, it encouraged children, in. some sort, 
to imitate high and honorable examples. 

The decadence of this good old highway politeness 
in Connecticut, began soon after the period of which 
I now write. Remember that this was long before 
the era of railroads and lightning telegraphs. Of 
course it would be idle for boys and girls now-a-days 
to undertake to bow and courtesy to locomotives: in 
such a process they would run the risk of wringing 
their necks and tripping up their heels. But forty 
years . ago people plodded along at the rate of twc 



HISTORICAL, AN ECDOTICAL, ETC. ^ J 29 

to fuur miles the hour. Everybody had time then to 
be polite. It is all changed : aspiring young Amer 
ica was then slow, as it is fast now. Since every 
thing goes by steam and electricity, tall walking and 
tall talking are the vogue. It is easy to comprehend 
how this comes about ; but it was even before the 
advent of this age of agony, that the good old coun 
try custom on the part of the rising generation, to 
salute strangers along the road, had waned. It first 
subsided into a vulgar nod, half ashamed and half 
impudent, and then, like the pendulum of a dying- 
clock, totally ceased. 

Thus passed away the age of politeness. For 
some reason or other, it seems to have gone down 
with old Hartford Convention Federalism. The 
change in manners had no doubt been silently going 
on for some time ; but it was not distinctly visible 
to common eyes till the establishment of the new 
constitution. Powder and queues, cocked-hats and 
broad-brims, white-top boots, breeches, and shoe- 
buckles signs and symbols of a generation, a few 
examples of which still lingered among us finally 
departed with the Charter of Charles II., while with 
the new constitution of 1818, short hair, pantaloons, 
and round hats with narrow brims, became the estab 
lished costume of men of all classes. 

Jefferson was, or affected to be, very simple in his 
taste, dress, and manners. He wore pantaloons, in 
stead of breeches, and adopted leather shoe strings in 

6* 



130 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

place of buckles. These and other similar things 
were praised by his admirers as signs of his democ 
racy: a certain coarseness of manners, supposed to 
be encouraged by the leaders, passed to the led. 
Rudeness and irreverence were at length deemed 
democratic, if not democracy.* An anecdote, which 
ii- strictly historical, will illustrate this. 

About this time, there was in the eastern part of 
Connecticut a clergyman by the name of Cleveland, 
who was noted for his wit. One summer day, as he 
was riding along, he came to a brook. Here he 
paused to let his horse drink. Just then, a stranger 
rode into the stream from the opposite direction, 
and his horse began to drink also. The animals ap 
proached, as is their wont under such circumstances, 
and thus brought the two men face to face. 

" How are you, priest ?" said the stranger. 

" How are you, democrat?" said the parson. 
. u How do you know I am a democrat?" said one. 

" How do you know I am a priest?" said the other. 

;< I know you to be a priest by your dress," said 
the stranger. 

" I know you to be a democrat by your address," 
said the parson. 

* Jefferson carried his plebeiaimm so far as to put an end to the social 
gatherings of the people at the President's house, called levees. Madi 
son, who was a better that is, a wiser and truer democrat, saw that 
these meetings tended at once to elevation of manners and equalization 
of social position, and restored them. Mrs. Madison's levees were not 
less brilliant than those of lady Washington, though they were less dig- 
niticd and retined. 




"How ARE YOU, PRIEST?" "How ARE YOU, DEMOCRAT?" Vol. 1, p. 130. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 131 

There is an anecdote of a somewhat later date, 
which illustrates the same point. In Washington's 
time, the manners of the country, among the leading 
classes, assumed a good deal of stateliness, and this 
was perpetuated by the example of this great man 
great alike from his office, his character, and his 
history. This was made the foundation of the charge 
against him so basely urged that he was at heart a 
monarchist. It was but natural that Jefferson should 
appear to be, in all things, his opposite. Under his 
administration, as I have just said, a great change was 
effected in external manners. As was reasonable, the 
democrats followed the example of their leader, now 
chief magistrate of the nation, while among the old 
federalists there still lingered vestiges of the waning 
costume of other days. 

A very keen observer, then and long afterward a 
senator of the United States, once told me that at 
this period, all the barbers of Washington were fed 
eralists, and he imputed it to the fact that the leaders 
of that party in Congress wore powder and long 
queues, and of course had them dressed every day 
by the barber. The democrats, on the contrary, wore 
short hair, or, at least, small queues, tied up carelessly 
with a libbon, and therefore gave little encouragement 
to the tonsorial art. One day, as the narrator told 
me. while he was being shaved by the leading barber 
of the city who was of course a federalist the lat 
ter suddenly and vehemently burst out against the 



1 :>2 J.KTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

nomination of Madison for the presidency by the 
democratic party, which had that morning been an 
nounced. 

" Dear me !" said the barber, " surely this coun 
try is doomed to disgrace and shame. What Presi 
dents we might have, sir ! Just look at Daggett of 
Connecticut and Stockton of New Jersey ! What 
queues they have got, sir as big as your wrist, and 
powdered every day, sir, like real gentlemen as they 
are. Such men, sir, would confer dignity upon the 
chief magistracy ; but this little Jim Madison, with a 
queue no bigger than a pipe-stem ! Sir, it is enough 
to make a man forswear his country !" 

But I must return to locomotion not railing but 
wheeling. In Ridgefield, in the year 1800, there 
was but a single chaise, and that belonged to Col 
onel Bradley, one of the principal citizens of the 
place. It was without a top, and had a pair ol 
wide-spreading, asinine ears. That multitudinous 
generation of traveling vehicles, so universal and so 
convenient now such as top-wagons, four-wheeled 
chaises, tilburies, dearborns, &c., was totally un 
known. Even if these things had been invented, 
the roads would scarcely have permitted the use of 
them. Physicians who had occasion to go from town 
to town, went on horseback ; all clergymen, except 
perhaps Bishop Seabury, who rode in a coach, trav 
eled in the same way. My father's people, who lived 
at a distance, came to church on horseback their 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, KIT. 

wives and daughters being seated on pillions behind 
them. In a few cases as in spring-time, when the 
mud had no soundings the farm wagon was used 
for transporting the family. 

In winter it was otherwise, for we had three or four 
months of sleighing. Then the whole country was 
a railroad, and gay times we had. Oh ! those beau 
tiful winters, which would drive me shivering to the 
fireside now : what vivid delight have I had in 
your slidings and skatings, your sleddings and sleigh 
ings ! One thing strikes me now with wonder, and 
that is, the general indifference, in those days, to the 
intensity of winter. No doubt, as I have said before, 
the climate was then more severe ; but be that as it 
may, people seemed to suffer less from it than at the 
present day. Nobody thought of staying at home 
from church because of the extremity of the weather. 
We had no thermometers, it is true, to frighten us 
with the revelation that it was twenty-five degrees 
below zero. The habits of the people were simple 
and hardy, and there were few defences against the 
assaults of the seasons. The houses were not tight ; 
we had no stoves, no Lehigh or Lackawanna coal ; 
yet we lived, and comfortably too ; nay, we even 
changed burly winter into a season of enjoyment. 

Let me tell you a story, by the way, upon the 
meeting-houses of those days. They were of wood, 
and slenderly built, of course admitting somewhat 
freely the blasts of the seasons. In the severe win- 



184: LETTEE8 BIOGRAPHICAL, 

ter days, we only mitigated the temperature by foot- 
stoves ; but these were deemed effeminate luxuries, 
suited to women and children. What would have 
been thought of Deacon Olmstead and Granther Bald 
win, had they yielded to the weakness of a foot-stove ! 
The age of comfortable meeting-houses and 
churches, in county towns, was subsequent to this, 
some twenty or thirty years. All improvement is 
gradual, and frequently advances only by conflict 
with prejudice, and victory over opposition. In a 
certain county town within my knowledge, the intro 
duction of stoves into the meeting-house, about the 
year 1830, threatened to overturn society. The inci 
dent may be worth detailing, for trifles often throw 
light upon important subjects. 

In this case, the metropolis, which we will call 
H . . ., had adopted stoves in the churches, and nat 
urally enough some people of the neighboring town 
of E .... set about introducing this custom into the 
meeting-house in their own village. Now, the two 
master-spirits of society the Demon of Progress and 
the Angel of Conservatism somehow or other had 
got into the place, and as soon as this reform was sug 
gested, they began to wrestle with the people, until 
at last the -church and society were divided into two 
violent factions the Stove Party and the Anti-stove 
Party. At the head of the first was Mrs. Deacon 
K . . . . and at the head of the latter was Mrs. Deacon 
I* The battle raged portentously, very much 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 185 

like the renowned tempest in a teapot. Society was 
indeed lashed into a foam. The minister, between 
the contending factions, scarcely dared to say his soul 
was his own. He could scarcely find a text from 
" Genesis to Jude," that might not commit him on one 
side or the other. The strife of course ran into 
politics, and the representative to the assembly got 
in by a happy knack at dodging the question in such 
wise as to be claimed by both parties. 

Finally, the progressionists prevailed the stove 
party triumphed, and the stoves were accordingly 
installed. Great was the humiliation of the anti- 
stoveites ; nevertheless, they concluded to be submis 
sive to the dispensations of Providence. On the 
Sabbath succeeding the installation of the stoves, Mrs. 
Deacon P . . . ., instead of staying away, did as she 
ought, and went to church. As she moved up the 
broad aisle, it was remarked that she looked pale but 
calm, as a martyr should, conscious of injury, yet 
struggling to forgive. Nevertheless, when the min 
ister named his text Eomans xii. 20 and spoke 
about heaping coals of fire on the head she slid 
from her seat, and subsided gently upon the floor. 
The train of ideas suggested was, in fact, too much 
for her heated brain and shattered nerves. Sud 
denly there was a rush to the pew, and the fainting 
Jady was taken out. When she came to the air, she 
slightly revived. 

"I ray what is the matter?" said Mrs. Deacon 



1M LF.TTKR8 BIOOKAPH1UAL, 

K . . . ., who bent over her, holding a smelling-bottle 
to her nose. 

" Oh, it is the heat of those awful stoves," said 
Mrs. Deacon P . . . . 

" No, no, my dear," said Mrs. Deacon K . . . . ; 
"that can't be: it's a warm day, you know, and 
there's no fire in them." 

" No fire in the stoves ?" said Mrs. Deacon P . . . . 

"Not a particle," said Mrs. Deacon K . . . . 

" Well, I feel better now," said the poor lady ; and 
so bidding her friends good-by, she went home, in a 
manner suited to the occasion. 

I have said that in the year 1800 there was but a 
single chaise in Ridgefield, and this was brought, 
I believe, from New Haven. There was not, I im 
agine, a coach, or any kind of pleasure vehicle that 
crazy old chaise excepted in the county of Fairfield, 
out of the two half-shire towns. Such things, in 
deed, were known at New York, Boston, and Phila 
delphia for already the government had laid a tax 
upon pleasure conveyances ; but they were compar 
atively few in number, and were mostly imported. 
In 1798, there was but one public hack in New Ha 
ven, and but one coach ; the latter belonging to Pier- 
point Edwards, being a large four-wheeled vehicle, for 
two persons, called a chariot. In the smaller toyvns, 
there were no pleasure vehicles in use throughout New 
England. What an Old Fogy the world was then ! 

About that time, there came to our village a man 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, KTC. 137 

by the name of Jesse J. Skellinger, an Englishman, 
and chaisemaker by trade. My father engaged him 
to build him a chaise. A bench was set up in our 
barn, and certain trees of oak and ash were cut in 
our neighboring woods. These were sawed and sea 
soned, and shaped into wheels and shafts. Eben. 
Hawley, half blacksmith and half wheelwright, was 
duly initiated, and he cunningly wrought the iron 
necessary for the work. In five months the chaise 
was finished, with a standing top greatly to the ad- ' 
miration of our family. What a gaze was there, my 
countrymen, as this vehicle went through Ridgefield- 
street upon its first expedition! 

This was the beginning of the chaise manufactory 
in Ridgefield, which has since been a source of large 
revenue to the town. Skellinger was engaged by 
Elijah Hawley, who had formerly done something as 
a \ragon-builder, and thus in due time an establish 
ment was founded, which for many years was noted 
for the beauty and excellence of its pleasure vehicles. 

The origin of local and special kinds of industry 
is often hidden in mystery. It would be difficult to 
tell who began the manufactory of needles at Red- 
ditch, ribbons at St. Etienne, or watches at Geneva; 
but it is certain that our chaise, built in our barn, 
was the commencement of the Ridgefield carriage 
manufactory, which greatly flourished for a time, and 
gave rise to other branches of mechanical industry, 
which still contribute to the prosperity of the place. 



138 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 



LETTER XI. 

Cp-town and Down-town East End and West End Master Stebbins A 
Model Schoolmaster The School-house Administration, of the School 
Zeek Sanford School-books Arithmetic History Grammar Anec 
dote of O H. Country Schools of New England in these Days 

Matter Stabbing 1 s Scholart. 

MY DEAR 0****** 

Eidgefield, as well as most other places, had its 
Up-town and Down-town terms which have not 
unfrequently been the occasion of serious divisions 
in the affairs of Church and State. In London this 
distinction takes the name of West End and the City. 
The French philosophers say that every great cap 
ital has similar divisions West End being always 
the residence of the aristocracy and East End of the 
canaille. They affirm that it is not only so in fact as 
to London, Paris, Vienna, and other capitals of the 
present day, but that it was so in Rome, Athens, 
Babylon, and Nineveh of old. This they explain by 
a general law, pervading all countries and all ages, 
which establishes a current of air from west to east, 
thus ventilating and purifying the one, and charging 
the other with the fuliginous vapors of a crowded 
population. Hence, they say that not only cities 
must have their West End and East End, but that 
houses should be built on the same principle the 
parlor to the west and the kitchen to the east. This 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 

is surely laying deep the foundations of the patrician 
and plebeian divisions of society. 

Whether our great American cities furnish any 
support to this ingenious theory, I leave to be deter 
mined by the philosophers. I shall only venture to 
remark that Kidgefield, being a village, had a right 
to follow its own whim, and therefore West Lane, 
instead of being the aristocratic end of the place, 
was really rather the low end. It constituted in fact 
what was called Down-town, in distinction from the 
more eastern and northern section, called Up-town. 
In this latter portion, and about the middle of the 
main street, was the Up-town school, the leading 
seminary of the village, for at this period it had 
not arrived at the honors of an academy. At the 
age of ten years I was sent here, the institution be 
ing then, and many years after, under the charge of 
Master Stebbins. He was a man with a conciliating 
stoop in the shoulders, a long body, short legs, and 
a swaying walk. He was, at this period, some fifty 
years old, his hair being thin and silvery, and always 
falling in well-combed rolls, over his coat-collar. His 
eye was blue, and his dress invariably of the same 
color. Breeches and knee-buckles, blue-mixed stock 
ings, and shoes with bright buckles, seemed as much 
a part of the man as his head and shoulders. On 
the whole, his appearance was that of the middle- 
class gentleman of the olden tune, and he was in 
fact what he seemed. 



140 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

This seminary of learning for the rising aristocracy 
of Eidgefield was a wooden edifice, thirty by twenty 
feet, covered with brown clapboards, and except an 
entry, consisted of a single room. Around, and 
against the walls ran a continuous line of seats, front 
ed by a continuous writing-desk. Beneath, were 
depositories for books and writing materials. The 
center was occupied by slab seats, similar to those 
of West Lane. The larger scholars were ranged on 
the outer sides, at the desks ; the smaller fry of 
a-b-c-darians were seated in the center. The master 
was enshrined on the east side of the room, contrary, 
be it remembered, to the law of the French savans, 
which places dominion invariably in the west. Reg 
ular as the sun, Master Stebbins was in his seat at 
nine o'clock, and the performances of the school 
began. 

According to the Catechism which, by the way, 
we learned and recited on Saturday the chief end of 
man was to glorify God and keep his commandments : 
according to the routine of this school, one would 
have thought it to be reading, writing, and arithme 
tic, to which we may add spelling. From morning 
to night, in all weathers, through every season of the 
year, these exercises were carried on with the energy, 
patience, and perseverance of a manufactory. 

Master Stebbins respected his calling: his heart 
was in his work ; and so, what he pretended to teach, 
he taught well. When I entered the school, I found 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 141 

that a huge stride had been achieved in the march ol 
mind since I had left West Lane. Webster's Spelling- 
book had taken the place of Dil worth, which was a 
great improvement. The drill in spelling was very 
thorough, and applied every day to the whole school. 
I imagine that the exercises might have been amusing 
to a stranger, especially as one scholar would some 
times go off in a voice as grum as that of a bull-frog, 
while another would follow in tones as fine and pi 
ping as a peet-weet. The blunders, too, were often 
ineffably ludicrous ; even we children would some 
times have tittered, had not such an enormity been 
certain to have brought out the birch. As to rewards 
and punishments, the system was this: whoever miss 
ed went down ; so that perfection mounted to the top. 
Here was the beginning of the up and down of life. 

Beading was performed in classes, which generally 
plodded on without a hint from the master. Never 
theless, when Zeek Sanford* who was said to have 
a streak of lightning in him in his haste to be smart, 



* Ezekiel Sanford was a sou of Colonel Benjamin Sanford, of Reading. 
The latter married a daughter of Col. David Olmstead, of Ridgefield, a 
man of great respectability : after residing a few years here, he removed 
to Onondaga county, New York, and thence to Philadelphia, and after 
ward to Germantown, where he died about thirty years ago. 

Ezekiel, our schoolmate, was a lad of great spirit and excellent ca 
pacity. He was educated at Yale College, and was there noted as a 
promising writer. He subsequently became editor of the Eclectic Maga 
zine at Philadelphia, and in 1819, published a History of the United States 
before the Revolution,, with some account of the Aborigines. Having stud 
ied law, he removed to Columbia, South Carolina, where he died about 
the year 1825. 



142 LKTTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

read the 37th verse of the 2d chapter of the Acts 
" Now when they heard this, they were pickled in 
their heart" the birch stick on Master Stebbins's ta 
ble seemed to quiver and peel at the little end, as if 
to give warning of the wrath to come. When Orry 
Keeler Orry was a girl, you know, and not a boy 
drawled out in spelling : k o n, kon, a h u n 
t s, shunts, konshunts the bristles in the master's 
eyebrows fidgeted like Aunt Delight's knitting-nee 
dles. Occasionally, when the reading was insupport- 
ably bad, he took a book and read himself, as an 
example. 

We were taught arithmetic in Daboll, then a new 
book, and which, being adapted to^our measures of 
length, weight, and currency, was a prodigious leap 
over the head of poor old Dilworth, whose rules and 
examples were modeled upon English customs. In 
consequence of the general use of Dilworth in our 
schools, for perhaps a century pounds, shillings, and 
pence were classical, and dollars and cents vulgar, for 
several succeeding generations. " I would not give a 
penny for it," was genteel ; " I would not give a 
cent for it," was plebeian. We have not yet got over 
this : we sometimes say red cent in familiar parlance, 
but it can hardly be put in print without offense. 

Master Stebbins was a "great man with a slate and 
pencil, and I have an idea that we were a generation 
after his own heart. We certainly achieved wonders 
according to our own conceptions, some of us going 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 143 

even beyond the Rule of Three, and making forays 
into the mysterious region of Vulgar Fractions. 
Several daring geniuses actually entered and took 
possession. 

But after all, penmanship was Master Stebbins's 
great accomplishment. He had no magniloquent 
system ; no pompous lessons upon single lines and 
bifid lines, and the like. The revelations of in 
spired copy-book makers had not then been vouch 
safed to man. He could not cut an American eagle 
with a single flourish of a goose-quill. He was gui 
ded by good taste and native instinct, and wrote a 
smooth round hand, like copper-plate. His lessons 
from A to &, all written by himself, consisted of pithy 
proverbs and useful moral lessons. On every page 
of our writing-books he wrote the first line himself. 
The effect was what might have been expected with 
such models, patiently enforced, nearly all became 
good writers. 

Beyond these simple elements, the Up-town school 
made few pretensions. When I was there, two Web 
ster's Grammars and one or two Dwight's Geographies 
were in use. The latter was without maps or illustra 
tions, and was in fact little more than an expanded ta 
ble of contents, taken from Morse's Universal Geogra 
phy the mammoth monument of American learning 
and genius of that age and generation. The grammar 
was a clever book ; but I have an idea that neither 
Master Stebbins nor his pupils ever fathomed its 



144 LETTERS BIOGBAPHICAL, 

depths. They floundered about in it, as if in a 
quagmire, and after some time came out pretty nearly 
where they went in, though perhaps a little obfus 
cated by the dim and dusky atmosphere of these 
labyrinths. 

The fact undoubtedly is, that the art of teaching, 
as now understood, beyond the simplest elements, 
was neither known nor deemed necessary in our 
country schools in their day of small things. Repe 
tition, drilling, line upon line, and precept upon pre 
cept, with here and there a little of the birch con 
stituted the entire system. 

James G. Carter* had not then begun the series ol 
publications, which laid the foundation of the great 
movement in school education, which afterward per 
vaded New England. " Bring up a child in the way 
in which he should go," was the principle ; the prac 
tice regarded this way as straight and narrow 
somewhat like a gun-barrel and the scholar as a 
bullet, who was to go ahead, whether he had to 
encounter a pine board or an oak knot. In climb 
ing up the steep ascent to knowledge, he was expect 
ed to rely upon his own genius ; a kindly, helping 
hand along the rough and dubious passages, was rare 
ly extended to him. " Do this!" said the master, with 
his eye bent on the ferule, and generally the pupil 
did it, if the matter related to the simpler school 

* See note V., D. 540. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 14:5 

exercises. But when you came to grammar that 
was quite another thing. 

Let me here repeat an anecdote, which I have in 
deed told before, but which I had from the lips of its 
hero, G . . . H . . ., a clergyman of some note thirty 
years ago, and which well illustrates this part of my 
story. At a village school, not many miles from 
Bidgefield, he was put into Webster's Grammar. Here 
he read, "A noun is the name of a thing as horse, hair, 
justice" Now, in his innocence, he read it thus : " A 
noun is the name of a thing-r-as horse-hair justice.' 1 

" What then," said he, ruminating deeply, " is a 
noun ? But first I must find out what a horse-hair 
justice is." 

Upon this he meditated for some days, but still 
he was as far as ever from the solution. Now his 
father was a man of authority in those parts, and 
moreover he was a justice of the peace. Withal, he 
was of respectable ancestry, and so there had de 
scended to him a somewhat stately high-backed settee, 
covered with horse-hair. One day, as the youth came 
from school, pondering upon the great grammatical 
problem, he entered the front door of the house, and 
there he saw before him, his father, officiating in his 
legal capacity, and seated upon the old horse-hair 
settee. " I have found it !" said the boy to himself, 
as greatly delighted as was Archimedes when he ex 
claimed Eureka " my father is a horse-hair justice, 
and therefore a noun !" 

VOL. I. 7 



146 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

Nevertheless, it must be admitted that the world 
got on remarkably well in spite of this narrowness 
of the country schools. The elements of an Eng 
lish education were pretty well taught throughout 
the village seminaries of Connecticut, and I may 
add, of New England. The teachers were heartily 
devoted to their profession : they respected their call 
ing, and were respected and encouraged by the com 
munity. They had this merit, that while they at 
tempted but little, that, at least, was thoroughly per 
formed. 1 -; 

As to the country at large, it was a day of quiet, 
though earnest action : Franklin's spirit was the great 
" schoolmaster abroad" teaching industry, persever 
ance, frugality, and thrift, as the end and aim of am 
bition. The education of youth was suited to what 
was expected of them. With the simple lessons of 
the country schools, they moved the world imme 
diately around them. Though I can recollect only a 
single case that already alluded to of Ezekiel San- 
ford in which one of Master Stebbins's scholars at 
tained any degree of literary distinction, still, quite a 
number of them, with no school learning beyond 
what he gave them, rose to a certain degree of emi 
nence. His three sons obtained situations in New 
York as accountants, and became distinguished in 
their career. At one period there were three gradu 
ates of his school, who were cashiers of banks in 
that city. My mind adverts now with great satisfac- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 147 

tion to several names among the wealthy, honorable, 
and still active merchants of the great metropolis, 
who were my fellow-students of the Up-town school, 
and who there began and completed their education. 
I will venture to name another Bufus H. King, 
of Albany, who was my competitor in every study, 
and my friend in every play. May I not be permit 
ted to add that he has ever been, and still is, my 
friend ? As a man, he is precisely what he promised 
to be as Master Stebbins's pupil. I know he will ex 
cuse me for thus speaking of him in behalf of our 
revered old schoolmaster, to whose character and 
memory I can inscribe no more worthy monument 
than this reference to his pupils. 



LETTER XII. 

Horsemanship Bigjs Adventures A Dead Shot A Race Academical 
Honors Charles Chatterbox My Father's School My Exercises in Latin 
Tityre tu patulce, etc. Rambles Literary Aspirations -My Mother 
Family Worship Standing and Kneeling at Prayer Anecdotes Out 
Philistine Temple. 

MY DEAR 0****** 

Permit me a few more details as to my school- 
day recollections. I went steadily to the Up-town 
school for three winters, being occupied during the 
Bummers upon the farm, and in various minor duties. 



148 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

I was a great deal on horseback^ often carrying mes 
sages to the neighboring towns of Reading, Wilton, 
Westou, and Lower Salem, for then the post-routes 
were few, and the mails, which were weekly, crept like 
snails over hill and valley. I became a bold rider at 
an early age ; before I was eight years old, I frequently 
ventured to put a horse to his speed, and that, too, 
without a saddle. A person who has never tried it, 
can hardly conceive of the wild delight of riding a 
swift horse when he lays down his ears, tosses his 
tail in air, and stretches himself out in a full race. 
The change which the creature undergoes, in passing 
from an ordinary gait into a run, is felt by the rider 
to be a kind of sudden inspiration, which triumphs 
like wings over the dull, dragging laws of gravitation. 
The intense energy of the beast's movements, the 
rush of the air, the swimming backward of lands, 
houses, and trees, with the clattering thunder of the 
hoofs all convey to the rider a fierce ecstasy, which, 
perhaps, nothing else can give. About this period, 
however, I received a lesson, which lasted me a life 
time. 

You must know that Deacon Benedict, one of our 
neighbors, had a fellow living with him, named 
Abijah. He was an adventurous youth, and more 
than once led me into tribulation. I remember that 
on one occasion I went with him to shoot a dog that 
was said to worry the deacon's sheep. It was night, 
and dark as Egypt, but Bige said he could see the 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 149 

creature, close to tho cow-house, back of the barn 
He banged away, and then jumped over the fence, 
to pick up the game. After a time he came back, but 
said not a word. Next morning it was found that 
he had shot the brindled cow; mistaking a white 
spot in her forehead for the dog, he had taken deadly 
aim, and put the whole charge into her pate. For 
tunately her skull was thick and the shot small, so 
the honest creature was only a little cracked. Bige, 
however, was terribly scolded by the deacon, who was 
a justice of the peace, and had a deep sense of the 
importance of his duties. I came in for a share of 
blame, though I was only a looker-on. Bige said 
the deacon called me a "parsnip scrimmage," but 
more probably it was a particeps criminis. 

But to proceed. One day I was taking home from 
the pasture, a horse that belonged to some clergyman 
I believe Dr. Eipley, of Green sfarms. Just as I came 
upon the level ground in front of Jerry Mead's old 
house, Bige came up behind me on the deacon's mare 
an ambling brute with a bushy tail and shaggy mane. 
As he approached, he gave a chirrup, and my horse, 
half in fright and half in fun, bounded away, like Tarn 
O'Shanter's mare. Every hair in the creature's tail 
and mane stood out, as if spinning Avith electricity. 
Away we went, I holding on as well as I could, for 
the animal was round as a barrel. He was no doubt 
used to a frolic of this sort, although he belonged to 
a D. D., and looked as if he believed in total deprav- 



150 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

ity. When he finally broke into a ran, he flew like 
the wind, at the same time bounding up and down 
with a tearing energy, quite frightful to think of. 
After a short race, he went from under me, and I 
came with a terrible shock to the ground. 

The breath was knocked out of me for some sec 
onds, and as I recovered it with a gasping effort, iny 
sensations were indescribably agonizing. Greatly 
humbled, and sorely bruised, I managed to get home, 
where the story of my adventure had preceded me. 
I was severely lectured by my parents, which, how 
ever, I might have forgotten, had not the concussion 
entered into my bones, and made an indelible impres 
sion upon my memory, thus perpetuating the whole 
some counsel. 

When I was about twelve years old, a man by 
the name of Sackett was employed to keep a high- 
school, or, as it was then called, an Academy. Here 
I went irregularly for a few weeks, and at a public 
exhibition I remember to have spoken a piece upon a 
stage fitted up in the meeting-house, entitled "Charles 
Chatterbox." Irad Hawley, Rufus H. King, and Sally 
Ingersoll, played Hagar and Ishmael. This was the 
substance of my achievements at Sackett's semi 
nary. 

The narrowness of my father's income, and the 
needs of a large family, induced him to take half a 
dozen pupils to be fitted for college. This he con 
tinued for a series of years. Some of his scholars 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 151 

came from New Haven, some from Danbury, and 
some from other places. I may remark, in passing, 
that a number of these some of whom are still liv 
ing distinguished themselves in various liberal pur 
suits. It might seem natural that I should have 
shared in these advantages ; but, in the first place, 
my only and elder brother, Charles A. Goodrich 
now widely known by his numerous useful publica 
tions had been destined for the clerical profession, 
partly by his own predilection, partly by encourage 
ment from a relative, and partly too from an idea 
that his somewhat delicate constitution forbade a 
more hardy career. To this may doubtless be added 
the natural desire of his parents that at least one of 
their sons should follow the honored calling to which 
father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had been 
devoted. Hence, he was put in training for college. 
The expenses to be thus incurred were formidable 
enough to my parents, without adding to them, by 
attempting any thing of the kind for me. And be 
sides, I had manifested no love of study, and evi 
dently preferred action to books. Moreover, it must 
be remembered that I was regarded as a born carpen 
ter, and it would have seemed a tempting of Provi 
dence to have set me upon any other career. So, 
with perfect content on my part, from the age of 
twelve to fourteen, I was chiefly employed in active 
services about the house and farm. I could read, 
write, and cipher; this was suffi ,ient for my ambi- 



152 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

tion, and satisfactory to my parents, in view of the 
life to which I was apparently destined. 

Nevertheless, though my school exercises were 
such as I have described, I doubtless gathered some 
little odds and ends of learning about those days, 
beyond the range of my horn-books. I heard a good 
deal of conversation from the clergymen who visited 
us, and above all, I listened to the long discourses 
of Lieutenant Smith upon matters and things in gen 
eral. My father, too, had a brother in Congress, 
from whom he received letters, documents, and mes 
sages, all of which became subjects of discussion. I 
remember furthermore, that out of some childish im 
itation, I thumbed over Corderius and Erasmus the 
first Latin books, then constantly in the hands of my 
father's pupils. I was so accustomed to hear them 
recite their lessons in Virgil, that 

Tityre tu patula recubaw sub tegmine fngi "7 

and 

Anna-, arms virumque, aud the man carw, I sing 

were as familiar to my ears as hillery, tillery, zachery 
zan, and probably conveyed to my mind about as 
much meaning. Even the first lesson in Greek 

Ev, in <xxj, the beginning jv, was 6 Xoyoj, the Woid 

was also among the cabalistic jingles in my mem 
ory. All this may seem nothing as a matter of edu 
cation ; still, some years after, while I'was an appren- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. '153 

lice in Hartford, feeling painfully impressed with the 
scantiness of my knowledge, I borrowed some Latin 
school-books, under the idea of attempting to master 
that language. To my delight and surprise, I found 
that they seemed familiar to me. Thus encouraged, 
[ began, and bending steadily over my task at even 
ing, when rny day's duties were over, I made my way 
nearly through the Latin Grammar and the first two 
books of Yirgil's JEneid. In my poverty of knowl 
edge, even these acquisitions became useful to me. 

From the age of twelve to fifteen, in the midst of 
my activity, I still lived largely upon dreams. Noth 
ing could be more ludicrous than the extravagance 
of these, except it might be their vividness and seem 
ing reality, in contrast to all the probabilities of my 
condition. Though generally occupied in the vari 
ous tasks assigned me, I still found a good deal of 
time to ramble over the country. Whole days I spent 
in the long, lonesome lanes that wound between 
Eidgefield and Salem ; in the half-cultivated, half- 
wooded hills that lay at the foot of West Mountain, 
and in the deep recesses of the wild and rugged re 
gions beyond. I frequently climbed to the top of 
the cliffs and ridges that rose one above another, 
and having gained the crown of the mountain, cast 
long and wistful glances over the blue vale that 
stretched out for many miles to the westward. I had 
always rny gun in hand, and though not insensible 
to any sport that might fall in my way, I was more 

7* 



154; I.KTTER8 BIOGRAPHICAL, ' 

absorbed in the fancies that came thronging to my 
imagination. I had a love of solitary and even des 
olate scenes : there seemed to be in me an appetite 
that found satisfaction in the wild and precipitous 
passes of the wilderness. This, after an absence of 
a few weeks, would return like hunger and thirst, 
and I felt a longing for the places which appeased 
it. Thus I became familiar with the whole country 
around, and especially with the shaded glens and 
gorges of West Mountain. I must add that these 
had, besides their native, savage charms, a sort of 
fascination from being the residence of a strange wo 
man, who had devoted herself to solitude, and was 
known under the name of the Hermitess. This per 
sonage whom I shall hereafter describe more partic 
ularly I had occasionally seen in our village, and I 
frequently met her as she glided through the forests, 
while I was pursuing my mountain rambles. I some 
times felt a strange thrill as she passed, but this only 
seemed to render the recesses where she dwelt still 
more inviting. 

Of all the seasons, autumn was to me the most 
pleasing. Even late in November, when the leaves 
had fallen and were driven about in eddies by the 
hollow winds the tall trees creaking and moaning 
aloft the remote and solitary wilds had their fas 
cination. There was in me certainly none of the 
misanthropic feeling which made Byron fall in love 
with such scenes. Nevertheless, some passages in 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, ETC. 155 

Childe Harold, which appeared a few years after, de 
scribed the emotions I then experienced, and gave full 
expression to the struggling but imprisoned thoughts 
which filled my bosom. It is one of the highest of 
fices of the poet to furnish words for the deep, yet 
unspoken poetry of the soul. Certainly no language 
of mine can express the delight with which I have 
read and re-read the following stanza, and which has 
ever seemed to me like unsealing a mystic fountain 
in my bosom that has since flowed on in a stream 
of pleasing associations. 

" To sit on rocks, to muse o'er flood and fell, 
To slowly trace the forest's shady scene, 
Where things that own not man's dominion dwell, 
And mortal foot hath ne'er or rarely been 
To climb the trackless mountain, all unseen, 
With the wild flock that never needs a fold- 
Alone o'er steeps and pouring falls to lean : 
This is not solitude ; 'tis but to hold 

Converse with nature's charms, and view her stores unroll'd." 

I must repeat that however much I was attracted 
by these wild and lonesome scenes, and however I 
may have felt a tinge of melancholy in my solitary 
walks, I had no feeling of unhappiness, no oppressive 
sense of isolation, no anxiety, no ennui. It is true 
that at such times, there came to me scraps of solemn 
poetry from Milton, Young, and Watts, of which my 
mother's mind was full, and which she loved to re 
peat. These broke in snatches upon my memory, and 



1 56 LKTTER8 BIOGRAPHICAL, 

served as lightning-rods to conduct to my lips some 
of the burning emotions of my breast. I remember 
often to have repeated them, half aloud, while I was 
in the woods, though doubtless without having any 
very exact appreciation of their meaning, or the 
slightest regard to any fitness of application. I could 
not then write a reliable line of sense or grammar ; 
still, among my fancies I planned poems, and even 
dreamed of literary fame. Such I was in fact to my 
own consciousness, while at the same time I was re 
garded by all around as a rather thoughtless, though 
happy boy, with a genius for whittling. 

I have no doubt that I inherited from my mother 
a love of the night side of nature not a love that 
begets melancholy, but an appetite that found pleas 
ure in the shadows as well as the lights of life and 
imagination Eminently practical as she was labori 
ous, skillful, and successful in the duties which Prov 
idence had assigned her, as the head of a large family, 
with narrow means she was still of a poetic tem 
perament. Her lively fancy was vividly set forth by 
a pair of the finest eyes I have ever seen dark and 
serious, yet tender and sentimental. These bespoke 
not only the vigor of her conceptions, but the melan 
choly tinge that shaded her imagination. Sometimes 
indeed the well of sadness in her heart became full, and 
it ran over in tears. These, however, were like spring 
showers brief in duration, and afterward brighten 
ing to all around. She was not the only woman who 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 157 

has felt better after a good cry. It was, in fact, a po 
etic, not a real sorrow, that thus excited her emotions, 
for her prevailing humor abounded in wit and viva 
city, not unfrequently taking the hue of playful satire. 
Nevertheless, her taste craved the pathetic, the mourn 
ful not as a bitter medicine, but a spicy condiment. 
Her favorite poets were King David and Dr. Watts : 
she preferred the dirge-like melody of Windham to 
all other music. All the songs she sang were minors. 
Alas ! how few are now living to verify this feeble 
portrait among the cloud of witnesses who would 
once have testified to the general, though inadequate 
resemblance ! 

You will gather from what I have said that my 
father not only prayed in his family night and morn 
ing ; but before breakfast, and immediately after the 
household was assembled, he always read a chapter in 
the sacred volume. In our family Bible it is record 
ed that he thus read that holy book through, in 
course, thirteen times, in the space of about five and 
twenty years. He was an excellent reader, having a 
remarkably clear, frank, hearty voice, so that I was 
deeply interested, and thus early became familiar with 
almost every portion of the Old and New Testament. 
The narrative passages seized most readily upon my 
attention, and formed the greater part of my early 
knowledge. The direct, simple style of the Bible 
entered into my heart, and became for a long time 
my standard of taste in literary composition. It cost 



158 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

me a real struggle, long afterward, to relish the mag 
niloquence of such writers as Johnson, despite the 
smack of Latin and Greek in its composition, and the 
ponderous force of thought which it conveyed. 

The practice of family worship, as I before stated, 
was at this time very general in New England. In 
Kidgefield, it was not altogether confined to the 
strictly religious to clergymen', deacons, and church 
members. It was a custom which decency hardly 
allowed to be omitted. No family was thought to go 
on well without .it. There is a good story which 
well describes this trait of manners. 

Somewhere in Vermont, in this golden age, there 
was a widow by the name of Bennett. In conse 
quence of the death of her husband, the charge of a 
large farm and an ample household devolved upon 
her. Her husband had been a pious man, and all 
things had prospered with him. His widow, alike 
from religious feeling and affectionate regard for his 
memory, desired that every thing should be conduct 
ed as much as possible as it had been during his life 
time. Especially did she wish the day to begin and 
close with family worship. 

Now she had a foreman on the farm by the name 
of Ward. He was a good man for work, but faith 
had not yet touched his lips, much less his heart. In 
vain did the widow, in admitting his merits at the 
plow, the scythe, and the flail, still urge him to crown 
her wishes by leading in family prayer. For a long 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 159 

time the heart of the man was hard, and his ear deaf 
to h,er entreaties. At last, however, wearied with 
her importunities, he 'Seemed to change, and to her 
great joy, consented to make a trial. 

On a bright morning in June at early sunrise 
the family were all assembled in the parlor, men 
and maidens, for their devotions. When all was 
ready, Ward, in a low, troubled voice, began. He 
had never prayed or at least not in public but 
he had heard many prayers, and possessed a retentive 
memory. After getting over the first hesitancy, he 
soon became fluent, and taking passages here and 
there from the various petitions he had heard Pres 
byterian, Methodist, Universalist, and Episcopalian 
he went on with great eloquence, gradually elevating 
his tone and accelerating his delivery. Ere long his 
voice grew portentous, and some of the men and 
maids, thinking he was suddenly taken either mad 
or inspired, stole out on their toes into the kitchen, 
where, with gaping mouths, they awaited the result. 
The Widow Bennett bore it all for about half an 
hour ; but at last, as the precious time was passing 
away, she lost patience, and sprang to her feet. Pla 
cing herself directly in front of the speaker, she ex 
claimed, "Ward, what do you mean ?" 

As if suddenly relieved from a nightmare, he ex 
claimed, " Oh dear, ma'am I'm much obliged to you 
for I couldn't contrive to wind off." 

I hope you will not feel that this anecdote par- 



LKTTKRH BIOGRAPHICAL, 

takes of a license unworthy of these annals, for as 
you see, it has an historical foundation, as well as a 
practical moral. I regret to leave a doubt in regard 
to one of the details, and that is, that I have not been 
able to determine whether on this occasion the family 
stood up, leaning over the backs of their chairs, or knelt 
before the seats. The former was the custom in my 
younger days, Puritanism perhaps not having over 
come the fear of imitating the soul-endangering prac 
tices of prelacy, whether belonging to Mother Church 
of England or the Scarlet Lady of Rome. Perhaps, 
too, the fatigue of standing was deemed an acceptable 
sacrifice : I say fatigue, for in those days, men gifted 
in prayer were like the ocean so deep in spots that it 
required a very long line to reach the bottom. Deacon 
Cooke, of Danbury, a very sensible and pious man, 
by the way, once said that he did not believe the 
spirit of prayer could be sustained, on ordinary oc 
casions, for more than five minutes at a time. This, 
however, was rank heresy then, and was not under 
stood or approved till fifty years after. Granther 
Baldwin was a better representative of the age I am 
speaking of: beginning at the Creation, and coming- 
down to the Fall, he would go on through Babel. 
Babylon, and Balaam, the landing of the Pilgrims, 
Braddock's defeat, and the Declaration of Indepen 
dence. These things, added to local matters, usually 
Consumed half an hour at the evening exercises. 
After a hard day's work especially in summer time 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 161 

it required a strong understanding to endure it. 
John Benedict, then paying his addresses to Esther 
Baldwin, whom he afterward married, one night fell 
asleep over his chair, at prayer-time, and pitching 
forward against Granther Baldwin, overturned both 
him and his devotions. John barely escaped being 
forbidden ever to enter the house again ; indeed, he 
stayed away some weeks, and only returned upon 
Esther's going after him. 

This happened near the beginning of the present 
century : some five and twenty years later, kneeling 
at family prayers had become common in Connecti 
cut. A similar change had also begun in meeting 
house worship. At the present time, it is common 
for people in Congregational churches even, to kneel 
at prayer-time. I am not able to state, authorita 
tively, the reason for this change, though I presume, 
as just intimated, it has arisen from the gradual wear 
ing away of the Puritan prejudice against kneeling. 
If this be correct, it indicates an important fact, 
which is, that sectarian diiferences, especially those 
of mere form, have greatly subsided of late years. 
It is in respect to these, that there have been the 
most bitter contentions ; the movement here noticed 
has, therefore, in all its bearings, the significance of a 
real reform. 

It is stated that when the first Congress assembled 
at Philadelphia, September, 1774, the members, duly 
impressed with the solemnity of the occasion, nat 



162 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

urally desired the aid of religious exercises, and there 
fore the appointment of a chaplain was proposed. But 
considering that the persons present were of various 
creeds, it was feared that they could not unite in the 
choice of a clergyman to fulfill the duties of such an 
office. The difficulty was, however, happily removed 
by Samuel Adams, of Massachusetts, who, although 
a rigid Congregationalist, proposed the appointment 
of an Episcopalian, and Dr. Duche, a popular preach 
er of Philadelphia, was immediately chosen. It must 
have been an interesting scene a minister, bound to 
forms, finding extemporaneous words to suit the oc 
casion, and the Quaker, the Presbyterian, the Epis 
copalian, and the Eationalist some kneeling, some 
standing, but all praying, and looking to Heaven for 
wisdom and counsel, in this hour of doubt, anxiety, 
and responsibility. Here is a worthy subject* for the 
pencil of Weir, Powell, Huntington^ Healy, Page, 
Terry, Eossiter, or some other of our historical paint 
ers. Adams and Sherman, the Puritans, standing 
erect; Thompson, the Quaker, finding the move 
ment of the Spirit in the words of a consecrated 
priest ; with Washington, Henry, and other Episco 
palians, kneeling, according to their creed, and all 
invoking wisdom from above would make a touch 
ing and instructive picture. Its moral would be, that 



* I understand that this subject " The First Prayer in Congress" 
has been painted and engraved, but not in the style suited to a great 
national subject. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 163 

the greatest minds, in moments of difficulty and dan 
ger, acknowledge their dependence upon God, and 
feel the necessity of elevating and purifying their 
hearts by prayer ; and that the differences of sect, 
the distinctions of form, all vanish when emergency 
presses upon the consciences of men, and forces them 
to a sincere and open avowal of their convictions. 

In looking back to this period, and remembering 
the impassable gulfs that lay between Christian sects, 
it is gratifying to observe what is now witnessed 
every Sabbath in our principal cities the Episcopa 
lian, while maintaining his creed and his forms, still 
receiving to his communion-table the Presbyterian, 
the Methodist, the Congregationalist, the Unitarian, 
the Universalist all who profess to be followers of 
Christ, while these sectarians exercise a similar char 
ity in return. Is not this progress is not this re 
form ? How much is meant by these simple facts 
the communion-table of Christ extended; the heart 
of man expanded, purified, ennobled ! 

I must not pass over another incident in my mem 
ory, and having reference to the topic in hand. Un 
der the biblical influence of these days, my father's 
scholars built a temple of the Philistines, and when 
it was completed within anjl without, all the children 
round about assembled, as did the Gazaites of old. 
The edifice was chiefly of boards, slenderly construct 
ed, and reached the height of twelve feet ; neverthe 
less, all of us got upon it, according to the 16th 



LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

chapter of Judges. The oldest of the scholars played 
Samson. When all was ready, he took hold of the 
pillars of the temple one with his right hand and 
one with his left. " Let me die with the Philistines !' r 
said he, and bo wing himself, down we came in a heap ! 
Strange to say, nobody but Samson was hurt, and he 
only in some skin bruises. If you could see him 
now dignified even to solemnity, and seldom conde 
scending to any but the gravest matters you would 
scarcely believe the story, even though I write it and 
verify it. Nevertheless, if he must have played, he 
should have taken the part of Samson, for he is one 
of the most gifted men I have ever known. 



LETTER XIII. 

My father's Library Children's Books The New England Primer ana 
Westminster Catechism Toy Books Nwser-y Bonks Moral Effect of 
these Hannah Morels Moral Repository The. Shepherd of Salisbury 
Plain Visit to Barley-wood First Idea of the Parley Boohs Impres 
sions of Big Books and Little Books A Comparison of the Old Books 
and the New Books for Children and Youth A Modern Juvenile Book 
store in Broadway. 

MY DEAR C ****** , 

You will readily comprehend from what I have 
said, that up to the age of ten or twelve years, I 
had made little acquaintance with literature. Be 
yond my school-books, I had read almost nothing. 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOT1CAL, ETC. 165 

My father had a considerable library, but it con 
sisted mostly of theology, a great deal of it in Latin, 
and in large folios. Into such a forbidding mass, I 
never penetrated, save only that I sometimes/ dipped 
into a big volume, which happened to be in large 
print. This was in English, and was, I suspect, 
some discussion of Calvin's Five Points ; still it 
attracted my attention, and sometimes, especially of 
a rainy day,- when I could hear the big drops thump 
upon the shingles over my head for the library was 
in the second loft, and led by an open stairway to the 
attic I read whole pages of this book aloud, spell 
ing out the large words as well as I could. I did not 
understand a sentence of it, but I was fascinated with 
the fair large type. This circumstance I have never 
forgotten, and it should not be overlooked by those 
who make books for children, for in this case, I was 
but a representative of others of my age. 

It is difficult now, in this era of literary affluence, 
almost amounting to surfeit, to conceive of the pov 
erty of books suited to children in the days of which 
I write. Except the New England Primer the main 
contents of which were the Westminster Catechism 
and some rhymes, embellished with hideous cuts of 
Adam's Fall, in which "we sinned all;" the apostle and 
a cock crowing at his side, to show that " Peter denies 
his Lord and cries;" Nebuchadnezzar crawling about 
like a hog, the bristles sticking out of his back, and the 
like I remember none that were in general use 



166 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

among my companions. When I was about ten yeara 
old, my father brought from Hartford, Gaffer Ginger, 
Goody Two Shoes, and some of the rhymes and jin 
gles, now collected under the name of Mother Goose, 
with perhaps a few other toy books of that day. 
These were a revelation. Of course I read them, but 
I must add with no real relish. 

Somewhat later one of my companions lent me a 
volume containing the stories of Little. Red Riding 
Hood, Puss in Boots, Blue Beard, Jack the Giant- 
killer, and some other of the tales of horror, com 
monly put into the hands of youth, as if for the ex 
press purpose of reconciling them to vice and crime. 
Some children, no doubt, have a ready appetite for 
these monstrosities, but to others they are revolting, 
until by repetition and familiarity, the taste is suffi 
ciently degraded to relish them. At all events, they 
were shocking to me. Even Little Red Riding Hood, 
though it seized strongly upon my imagination, ex 
cited in me the most painful impressions. I believed 
it to be true ; at least it was told with the air of 
truth, and I regarded it as a picture of life. I im 
agined that what happened to the innocent child of 
the cottage, might happen to me and to others. I 
recollect, while the impression was fresh in my mind, 
that on going to bed, I felt a creeping horror come 
over me, as the story recurred to my imagination. As 
I dwelt upon it, I soon seemed to see the hideous jaws 
of a wolf coming out of the bedclothes, and approach- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, KTC. 167 

ing as if to devour me. My disposition was not tim 
id, but the reverse ; yet at last I became so excited, 
that my mother was obliged to tell me that the story 
was a mere fiction. 

" It is not true, then ?" said I. 

" No," said my mother, " it is not true." 

" Why do they tell such falsehoods, then ?" I re 
plied. 

" They are not falsehoods, because they are not 
intended to deceive. They are mere tales invented 
to amuse children." 

" Well, they don't amuse me !" 

I do not remember the rest of the conversation : 
this general impression, however, remained on my 
mind, that children's books were either full of non 
sense, like "hie diddle diddle" in Mother Goose, or 
full of something very like lies, and those very shock 
ing to the mind, like Little Bed Eiding Hood. From 
that time my interest in them was almost wholly lost. 
I had read Puss in Boots, but that seemed to me 
without meaning, unless it was to teach us that a 
Good Genius may cheat, lie, and steal ; in other words, 
that in order to show gratitude to a friend, we may 
resort to every kind of meanness and fraud. I never 
liked cats, and to make one of that race sly, thiev 
ing, and bloodthirsty by instinct the personification 
of virtue, inclined me, so far as the story produced 
any moral effect, to hate virtue itself. 

The story of Blue Beard made a stronger and still 



168 LETTERS B10CJKA.PH1CAL, 

more painful impression upon me. Though I knew 
it to be a fiction, it was still in some sort a reality to 
me. His castle, with its hideous chamber hung with 
the ghastly corpses of his murdered wives, was more 
a living truth in my imagination, than any fact in 
history or geography. In spite of my efforts to cast 
it out, it remained with all its horrors a dreadful 
burden upon my mind. 

Still worse was the story of Jack the Giant-killer. 
He, too, was a good genius, but of course accord 
ing to the taste of this species of composition 
a great liar. One should feel sympathy with such a 
gallant little fellow, especially in combating giants 
like Blunderbore, whose floor was covered with hu 
man skulls, and whose daintiest food consisted of 
"men's hearts, seasoned with pepper and vinegar!" 
Surely such is the moral of the tale we must learn 
to forgive, nay, to love and approve, wickedness 
lying, deception, and murder when they are em 
ployed for good and beneficent purposes ! At least, 
the weak may use any weapons against the strong : 
the little may conspire against the great ; and in such 
a contest, all weapons are lawful and laudable. 

How far this supper of horrors familiarized my 
own mind with violence, and thus defaced that moral 
sense, which is common in children leading them to 
prefer the good, the true, and the beautiful, if it be 
duly cherished I cannot venture to say. How far 
this potent but wicked logic of example, this argument 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIOAL, ETC. 169 

of action vividly wrought into the imagination and 
the mind in favor of meanness, deception, and crime, 
served to abate the natural love of truth and honor 
in mj bosom, I do not pretend to conjecture. Doubt 
less, I suffered less, because my taste was shocked ; 
still, the " evil communications" were in my soul. Had 
it not been for the constant teaching of rectitude, by 
precept and example, in the conduct of my parents, 
I might, to say the least, have been seriously injured. 
In looking back, and judging of the matter now, I 
believe it would certainly have been so. As it was, 
these things were fearful temptations, and I am. con 
vinced that much of the vice and crime in the world 
are to be imputed to these atrocious books put into 
the hands of children, and bringing them down, with 
more or less efficiency, to their own debased moral 
standard. 

That such tales should be invented and circulated 
in a barbarous age, I can easily conceive ; that they 
should even be acceptable to the coarse tastes and 
rude feelings of society, where all around is a system 
of wrong, duplicity, and violence, is not a matter of 
surprise. But that they should be put into the hands 
of children, and by Christian parents, and that too in 
an age of light and refinement excites in me the 
utmost wonder. 

The; common opinion, no doubt, is, that they are 
at least amusing ; that at the same time they are too 
improbable on the very face to carry with them any 

VOL. I. 8 



170 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

moral effect. This is a double mistake. The love 
of the horrible, the monstrous, the grotesque, is not 
indigenous to the youthful mind unless it may be 
in certain anomalous cases. There are children, as I 
have said, who seem to be born with a proclivity to 
evil. There are others, who, from the unhappy in 
fluence of malign example, seem to show an early 
development of debased tastes. But in general the 
child revolts at these things, and it is not till it is 
broken in by repetition, till it is reconciled by famil 
iarity, that it begins to crave them. A child loves 
at once a kitten, a chicken, a doll the innocent sem 
blances of itself ; but will usually fly into a passion 
of repugnance at the sight of any thing monstrous in 
nature or art. 

The idea that familiarity with crime is harmless, is 
equally at variance with experience. The Bible is 
full of warnings against the deadly effect of bad ideas 
communicated by example. Common sense the first 
instinct of reason tells us not to take children into 
scenes of crime and bloodshed, unless we wish to 
debase them. There is little difference, as to moral 
effect upon children, between things real and things 
imaginary. All that is strongly conceived by the 
young, is reality to them. The tale of Jack the 
Giant-killer in the book, is very much the same as 
would be the incidents of the story acted out at the 
theater, or the reality performed before the eye. In all 
these cases, it fills the mind with evil, and commends 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 171 

evil, by inevitable influence. Is it not leading chil 
dren into fearful temptation, to put such works as 
these into their hands? It will be understood that ] 
am here speaking more particularly of nursery books 
These, from the impressibility of young children, and 
from the fact that the judgment is not yet developed 
and exercises little control over the mind produce 
a most powerful effect. Yet it is only for such that 
the books referred to have been framed, as if, in a 
diabolical spirit of mischief, at once to deprave the 
taste, and degrade the intellect of childhood. 

At a somewhat later date that is, when I was 
about twelve years old I read Robinson Crusoe, 
which greatly delighted me. The work had about a 
dozen engravings, in which Crusoe and his man Fri 
day were depicted somewhat like two black spiders : 
nevertheless, my imagination endued them with 
charms equal to those of Heath's Book of Beauty in 
after times. About this period, I met with Alphonso 
and Dalinda, a translation of one of Madame de 
Genlis' Tales of the Castle. I have never seen it 
since, but I judge by its effect upon my imagination, 
that it must be written with great skill and knowl 
edge of the youthful mind. The manner in which 
a series of romantic and wonderful incidents are 
philosophically explained, seemed to me exceedingly 
felicitous, and certainly gave me my first glimpses ot 
some of the more curious marvels of Natural History 
and Natural Philosophy. 



172 LETTEKS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

From this point I made my way into works de 
signed for adults, and now began to read voyages, 
travels, and histories. Thus a new world was within 
my reach, though as yet I did not realize it. About 
this time I met with Hannah More's Moral Keposi- 
tory, which, so far as I recollect, was the first work 
that I read with real enthusiasm. That I devoured. 
The story of the Shepherd of Salisbury Plain was to 
me only inferior to the Bible narrative of Joseph and 
his brethren. Twenty years after, I enjoyed the 
pleasure, I might almost say ecstasy, of passing over 
the scene of this inimitable story, and of telling my 
experience to the author at Barley-wood. It was in 
conversation with that amiable and gifted person, that 
I first formed the conception of the Parley Tales 
the general idea of which was to make nursery 
books reasonable and truthful, and thus to feed the 
young mind upon things wholesome and pure, in 
stead of things monstrous, false, and pestilent: that 
we should use the same prudence in giving aliment 
to the mind and soul, as to the body ; and as we 
would not give blood and poison as food for the lat 
ter, we should not administer cruelty and violence, 
terror and impurity, to the other. In short, that the 
elements of nursery books should consist of beauty 
instead of deformity, goodness instead of wickedness, 
decency instead of vulgarity. 

So far as I can recollect, the work just alluded to 
first gave me a taste for reading, and awakened my 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 173 

mind to some comprehension of the amazing scope 
and power of books. I nad heard the Bible read 
from beginning to end, and the narrative portions 
had attracted my attention and deeply interested 
me. I had heard scraps of poetry and passages of 
prose, quoted and recited by my mother and my 
sisters older than myself and who had been well 
educated, mostly at New Haven. I had heard 
abundance of learned conversation among doctors 
of divinity and doctors of laws, who, with others, 
visited my father's house ; and finally I had heard 
the disquisitions, historical, biblical, and philosoph 
ical, of our profound and erudite village oracle, Lieu 
tenant Smith ; yet I do not recollect to have discov 
ered, before this time, that books contained inex 
haustible sources of instruction and amusement, and 
all within my own reach. I had listened to what I 
heard, though often impatiently, and doubtless I had 
picked up and pocketed, here and there, an idea. 
Such, however, had been the course of my life, or 
such was my disposition, or such the books that had 
fallen into my hands, that I regarded big books as 
tasks, proper for the learned, but not fit for such as 
me ; and little books as nonsense, or worse than non 
sense, worthy only of contempt or aversion. What 
a real blessing would then have been to me the juve 
nile works of Mrs. Child, the little histories of Agnes 
Strickland, the tales of Mary Howitt, Mrs. Hoffland, 
and other similar works, so familiar to children now. 



174 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

As to schoolbooks, those I had used had become 
associated in my memory with sitting three hours at 
a time upon hard oak benches, my legs all the while 
in such a cramped position that I could almost have 
kicked my best friend by way of relief. 

In casting my mind backward over the last thirty 
years and comparing the past with the present, duly 
noting the amazing advances made in every thing 
which belongs to the comfort, the intelligence, the 
luxury of society there is no point in which these 
are more striking than in the books for children and 
youth. Let any one who wishes to comprehend this 
matter, go to such a juvenile bookstore as that of 
C. S. Francis, in Broadway, New York, and behold 
the teeming shelves comprising almost every topic 
within the range of human knowledge, treated in a 
manner to please the young mind, by the use of every 
attraction of style and every art of embellishment 
and let him remember that nineteen twentieths of 
these works have come into existence within the last 
thirty years. He will then see how differently this 
age estimates the importance of juvenile instruction, 
from any other that has gone before it. 



HISTORICAL, ANE^DOTICAL, ETC. 175 



LETTER XIV. 

The Clergymen of Fairjkld County The Minister's House a Minister'* 
Tavern Dr. Riple.y, of G-reerf s-farms Dr. Lewis, of Horseneck Dr. 
Burnett, of Norwalk Mr. Swan Mr. Noyes Mr. Elliott, of Fairfald 
Mr. Mitchell, of New Canaan A Poet-Deacon Dr. Blatchford, tht 
Clairvoyant Mr. Bartlett, of Beading Mr. Camp, of Ridgebury Mr. 
Smith, of Stamford Mr. Waterman, of Bridgeport, &c. Manners of 
the Clergy of Fairjield County Their Character Anecdote of the Laugh 
ing D. D. The Coming Storm. 

MY DEAE C****** 

Before I complete my narrative, so far as it re 
lates to Eidgefield, I should state that in the olden 
time a country minister's home was a minister's tav 
ern, and therefore I saw, at different periods, most of 
the orthodox or Congregational clergymen belonging 
to that part of the State, at our house. My father 
frequently exchanged with those of the neighboring 
towns, and sometimes consociations and associations 
were held at Ridgefield. Thus, men of the clerical 
profession constituted a large portion of the strangers 
who visited us. I may add that my lineage was 
highly ministerial from an early period down to my 
own time. The pulpit of Durham, filled by my pa 
ternal grandfather, continued in the same family one 
hundred and twenty-six consecutive years. A short 
time since, we reckoned among our relations, not go 
ing beyond the degree of second cousin, more than a 
dozen ministers of the Gospel, and all of the same 
creed. 



1 76 LKTfERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

As to the clergy of Fairfield county, my boyish 
impressions of them were, that they were of the salt 
of the earth rock-salt, the very crystals of Chris 
tianity; nor has a larger experience altered my 
opinion. If I sometimes indulge a smile at the rec 
ollection of particular traits of character, or more 
general points of manners significant of the age, I 
still regard them with affection and reverence. Some 
of them were grave and portly, especially those who 
bore the awe-inspiring title of Doctors of Divinity. 
I cannot now recollect among them all a single little 
or emaciated D. D. At the very head of the list, in 
my .imagination, was Dr. Eipley, of Green's-farms, now 
Southport, I believe. He was a large and learned man 
two hundred pounds avoirdupois of solid divinity. 
He read the Bible in the original tongues for diver 
sion, and digested Hebrew roots as if they had been 
buttered parsnips. He was withal a hale, hearty old 
gentleman, with a rich, ruddy smile over his face, be 
speaking peace within and without. I was once at 
his house, which commanded a fine view of Long 
Island Sound, and particularly of Compo Bay, which 
was near at hand. I remember that he told me about 
the landing of the British there, under Tryon, in 
April, 1777, on their expedition against Danbury a 
story in which I took deep interest, for I had already 
heard a good deal concerning it from Lieut. Smith. 

Dr. Lewis, of Horseneck, weighed less according to 
the steelyards : he had perhaps less Greek and Latin 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 177 

in him, but I have an impression that he was a man 
even more full of godliness. He was in fact the 
patron saint of my young fancy, and his image still 
seems before me. He was of the middle size, neither 
fat nor lean, stooped a little, and had a thin face with 
a long nose. Yet his countenance was the very seat 
of kindliness, charity, and sanctity. His thin, white 
locks floated down his cheeks and over his shoul 
ders in apostolic folds. His voice was soft, yet pene 
trating. He had not, I think, any prodigious power 
of intellect, but during his preaching every ear was 
intent, every heart open. The congregation sometimes 
nodded, especially of a hot summer Sunday, even 
beneath the thunders of Dr. Eipley ; nay, Deacon 
Olmsted himself, enthroned in the deacon's seat, was 
obliged now and then to take out his sprig of fennel, 
in the very midst of the doctor's twelfthlies and fif- 
teenthlies ; but nobody ever slept under the touching 
and sympathetic tones of Dr. Lewis. The good man 
has long since been translated to another world, but 
the perfume of his goodness still lingers amid the 
churches which were once impressed with his footsteps. 
Among the other clerical celebrities of this period 
was Dr. Burnett, of Norwalk a man of distinguished 
ability, but of whom I have only a faint remem 
brance. His successor, Mr. Swan, was one of the 
most eloquent men of the day. I shall never forget a 
certain passage in one of his addresses at an evening 
meeting. He had taken as a motto for his discourse 
8* 



178 l.KTTRRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

" Choose you tin's day whom ye will serve," Josh, 
xxiv. 15. Having pressed upon the audience the 
necessity of deciding whether they would serve God 
or the Adversary, he adverted to an anecdote in an 
cient history, in which an ambassador to some foreign 
state demanding a decision of the government in a 
question under discussion drew a line upon the 
earth with his staff, and said, "Tell me here, this 
very hour now where will you stand, on this side 
or that, for us or against us ? Shall it be peace or shall 
it be war ?" Mr. Swan was a tall man, and as he said 
this, he seemed" to mark the line upon the ground 
with a solemn sweep of his long arm. He then add 
ed, addressing the audience in tones that thrilled and 
awed every heart, " Tell me here, this very hour, now 
where will you stand ? Where will you stand to 
night where at the day of judgment on this side 
or that for God or against Him ? Shall it be peace 
or war ? peace forever, or war through the measureless 
ages of eternity ?" I can recall no eloquence and 
I have heard the most celebrated orators of my time 
which produced a more deep, fearful, and startling 
emotion, than this. 

There was another minister the very antipode 
of the one I have just described, and yet a great and 
good man in his way great and good in the effect 
of his life. His name was Noyes, and he was settled 
at Weston. He was a person of moderate intellect, 
yet his benignant face and kindly voice suggested to 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIGAL, ETC. 179 

the imagination that disciple whom Jesus loved. His 
whole conduct was but a fulfillment of what his coun 
tenance promised. Mr. Elliot, of Fairfield, I do not 
recollect personally, but I have heard about his 
preaching against the New Lights the Methodists 
and revivalists who then began to disturb the quiet 
of orthodoxy. He asserted that, " as in nature it is 
the mizzling, fizzling rain, and not the overwhelm 
ing torrent, that fertilizes the fields, so in religion, it 
is the quiet dew of the Holy Spirit that produces the 
harvest of souls." I give the story and the words as 
I heard them. 

Mr. Mitchell, of New Canaan, was a man of ability 
and influence, but I remember more of his successors 
than of him. There being a vacancy in the parish, the 
people tried several candidates one named Hough, 
one named Hyde, &c. ; but none of them suited every 
body. At last came Mr. Bonney. " Well," said one 
of the deacons as if by inspiration 

K We have now had Hough and Hyde, 
Let us take Bonney and ride." 

This from the lips of a deacon sounded like proph 
ecy, and so Mr. Bonney was duly called and installed. 

Mr. Fisher, of Wilton, was of comely and imposing 
presence, and withal an able man. As was proper, 
he became a D. D. Mr. Dwight, of Greenfield Hill, 
was afterward the renowned President of Yale Col 
lege. I shall have occasion to speak of him again. 



JSO LETTKRS BIOGRAPHICAJ,, 

Mr. Humphries, of Fairfield, became President of 
Amherst College, and is now living at Pittsfield, en 
joying at the age of seventy-seven, the full vigor of 
manhood with an enviable reputation as a ripe 
scholar, an eloquent preacher, a good and great man, 
combining the dignity of the divine with the amiable 
and attractive qualities of the friend, the citizen, and 
the neighbor. 

Dr. Blatchford, of Bridgeport, removed early to 
Waterford, near Troy, N. Y., and I can only remem 
ber to have seen him; his personal appearance has 
vanished from my mind. I recollect, however, that 
he had a horror of cats and kittens, and such was its 
intensity as to endue him with clairvoyance, so that 
he could easily detect one of these creatures in the 
room, though it might be out of sight or even con 
fined in a closet. Frequent attempts were made 
to deceive him, but without success. His instinct 
was infallible. When he was seen coming, the first 
thing attended to by my mother was to shut up the 
whole purring family, and they were kept under 
lock and key till the good doctor had departed. Once 
upon a time, while dining with a friend, he suddenly 
threw down his knife and fork, his face being pale 
with horror. 

" What is the matter?" ejaculated his host, in great 
excitement. 

" It is a cat !" said the doctor, in a hollow voice. 

" A cat ?" was the thrilling reply. " Impossible : 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, ETC. 181 

we were particular to shut up the cat and kittens as 
soon as you came." 

"I say there's a cat in the room I" said the doctor, 
with fearful emphasis. 

A hurry-scurry ensued, and after a long search, a 
kitten was found slumbering in the cradle, under the 
clothes, and snugged down beside the baby ! 

There were, furthermore, Mr. Bartlett, of Heading, 
an animated and learned preacher now a hale and 
hearty man at the age of ninety-two ; Mr. Camp, of 
Ridgebury, of a feeble body but powerful mind ; Mr. 
Smith, of Stamford, a dignified gentleman of the old 
school, and married to the sister of John Cotton 
Smith, afterward Governor of the State ; Mr. "Water 
man, of Bridgeport, author of a clever Life of Calvin. 

From these hasty notes, you will see that the 
clergy of that day in Fairfield county were a very 
able set of men, and worthy of being duly and hon 
orably chronicled in these mementoes of the past. 
I speak of the era of 1800, yet including a few sub 
sequent years. A half century before, a wig with a 
black coat meant D. D. ; and D. D. usually meant 
wig and black coat : but that dynasty had passed. 
Breeches and white-top boots white meaning but 
ternut color were, however, still clerical. 

These gentlemen whom I have described, traveled 
on horseback, and were always well mounted ; some 
of them were amateurs in horseflesh : I have al 
ready had occasion to notice the points of Dr. Rip- 



182 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

ley's beast. In manners they were polite, and some 
what assiduous in their stately courtesies. They 
spoke with authority, and not as the scribes. Their 
preaching was grave in manner, and in matter elab 
orately dovetailed with Scripture. The people drank 
hard cider, and relished sound doctrine : it was not 
till nearly half a century afterward that imbibing 
soda-water, champagne, and other gaseous beverages 
they required pyrotechnics in the pulpit. A soul 
to reach heaven must then have the passport of 
Saybrook ; and in point of fact, orthodoxy was so 
tempered with charity, that nearly all who died, re 
ceived it. 

If the creed of that day was severe and bespoke 
the agonies of its Puritan origin, it still allowed large 
range for temporalities and humanities. The minis 
ter of the Gospel was a father, neighbor, friend, cit 
izen a man in a large and generous sense. Man 
liness meant godliness, and godliness manliness. He 
spoke truth, and acted righteousness. He was in 
dependent in his circumstances, for a parish settle 
ment was like marriage, for better or for worse ; and 
what God had joined, man could not lightly put 
asunder. The common opinion now is, that the 
judges of temporal tribunals should be placed be 
yond the seductions of dependence; the people of 
those days thought that in matters relating to eter 
nity, this rule was at least equally important. The 
clergymen were in some sort magistrates not tech- 



TITSTOHIOAT,, ANT.CIXrTTCAL, KTC. 183 

nically, but being generally the best educated per 
sons especially in country towns they exercised a 
large influence, as well by the force of authority, tra 
ditionally allowed to their positions, as by their su 
perior intelligence. They were sometimes consulted 
by their parishioners in matters of law* as well as 
gospel, often made out deeds, settled disputes be 
tween neighbors and neighborhoods, gave advice in 
difficult and doubtful questions of business, and im 
parted intelligence upon matters of history, geogra- 
'phy, and politics. 

I need not tell you that they were counsellors in 
religious matters in the dark and anxious periods 
of the spirit in times of sickness, at the approach 
of death. They sanctified the wedding, not refusing 
afterward to countenance the festivity which natural 
ly ensued. They administered baptism, but only upon 
adults who made a profession, or upon the children 
of professors. I may add that despite their divinity, 
they were sociable in their manners and intercourse. 
The state of the Church was no doubt first in their 
minds ; but ample room was left for the good things 
of life. Those who came to our house examined my 
brother in his Greek and Latin, and I went out be- 

* Kev. Thomas Hawley, from Northampton, was settled in the first 
society in Ridgefield in the year 1714, and was their first pastor, and con 
tinued till his death in 1739. He was a man of great frankness and so 
ciability, and an excellent scholar. He was very useful to the town, not 
only a* a minister, but in a civil capacity, serving them as their town- 
clerk, and doing all their writing business till his decease. Manuscript 
History of R'i Airfield, by S. G . 



184 LETTKR8 BIOGRAPHICAL, 

hind the barn to gather tansey for their morning bit 
ters. They dearly loved a joke, and relished anec 
dotes, especially if they bore a little hard upon the 
cloth. I remember some of them at which I have 
heard Dr. Ripley almost crack his sides, and seen 
even the saintly Dr. Lewis run over at the eyes with 
laughing. Shall I give you a specimen ? The fol 
lowing will suffice, though I can not recollect who it 
was that told it. 

Once upon a time there was a clergyman the 

Eev. Dr. T of H ... . a man of high character, 

and distinguished for his dignity of manner. But 
it was remarked that frequently as he was ascending 
the pulpit stairs he would smile, and sometimes al 
most titter, as if beset by an uncontrollable desire to 
laugh. This excited remark, and at last scandal 
Finally, it was thought necessary for some of his 
clerical friends, at a meeting of the association, to 
bring up the matter for consideration. 

The case was stated the Eev. Dr. T being 

present. " Well, gentlemen," said he, " the fact 
charged against me is true, but I beg you to permit 
me to offer an explanation. A few months after I 
was licensed to preach, I was in a country town, and 
on a Sabbath morning was about to enter upon the 
services of the church. Back of the pulpit was a 
window, which looked out upon a field of clover, then 
in full bloom, for it was summer. As I rose to com 
mence the reading of the Scriptures, I cast a glance 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 185 

into the field, and there I saw a man performing the 
most extraordinary evolutions -jumping, whirling, 
slapping in all directions, and with a ferocious agony 
of exertion. At first I thought he was mad ; but 
suddenly the truth burst upon me he had buttoned 
up a bumblebee in his pantaloons ! I am constitu 
tionally nervous, gentlemen, and the shock of this 
scene upon my risible sensibilities was so great, that 
I could hardly get through the services. Several 
times I was upon the point of bursting into a laugh. 
Even to this day, the remembrance of this scene 
through the temptation of the devil often comes 
upon me as I am ascending the pulpit. This, I admit, 
is a weakness, but I trust it will rather excite your 
sympathy and your prayers than your reproaches." 

Such were the orthodox that is, the Congrega 
tional clergy of Fairfield county,* doubtless to some 
extent examples of their brethren throughout New 
England, at the period of which I speak. The reli 
gious platform still stood planked to the State. The 
law still gave preference to orthodoxy, as it had done 
from the beginning. The time had not yet arrived 
when Methodism, Episcopacy, Democracy, should 
combine with radicalism to overturn the system which 
the fathers had built. The storm was brewing, but 
as yet it was scarcely noticed even by those who were 
soon to be overwhelmed by it. 

* See note IV., p. 589. 



186 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 



LETTER XV, 

Ideas of the Pilgrim Fathers Progress of Toleration Episcopacy Sigh- 
op Sealntry Dr. Duche Methodism in America In Connecticut An 
ecdotes Lorenzo Dow The Wolf in my Father's Fold. 

MY DEAR C****** 

I have intimated that, at the period of which I 
am writing, there was a storm gathering which was 
speedily to sweep away the last vestige of that sys 
tem of legal and statutory privilege which the Con 
gregational clergy had enjoyed in Connecticut, from 
the foundation of the colony. The government at 
the beginning was a kind of theocracy, in which God 
was considered as the active and positive ruler, of 
whom the men appointed to office were the agents. 
This impression pervaded the minds of the first set 
tlers of New England. These were all Independents 
in religion, who had been persecuted at home, and 
had come here to enjoy their peculiar worship with 
out molestation This was in fact the fundamental 
idea of the Puritan Fathers. 

It was therefore not only with amazement, but in 
dignation, that they found, as the population in 
creased, that Quakers, Baptists, and other sectarians, 
came among them, and demanded toleration of their 
peculiar notions. In vain did they seek to crush out 
these disturbers of the public peace. Persecution 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, ETC. 187 

only made them thrive : the trampling heel of op 
pression benefited them, as hoeing among weeds ren 
ders them more rank and pestiferous inasmuch as 
the roots strike deeper, and the multiplied and invig 
orated seed are scattered over a constantly widening 
surface. 

To the oppressed Puritans in England, toleration 
of their peculiar faith was an obvious idea. Their 
circumstances suggested it as a right, and denial of it 
as a sin. They emigrated to the New World, carry 
ing this conviction with them. But universal liberty 
of worship was not yet conceived : that was reserved 
for those Baptists, Quakers, and others, who, from 
their position, had begun to see the light, though it 
was even to them but dimly revealed. They sought 
rather, each sect for itself, the tolerance of their wor 
ship, than general toleration as the right of man. 
Roger Williams, indeed, seems to have made this dis 
covery, yet at first he advocated it rather in the 
spirit of intolerance. 

As time advanced, the malcontents increased, and 
although orthodoxy contended at every point, it was 
compelled to yield inch by inch, until, at the period 
around which my narrative revolveSj only ^a single 
remnant of its ancient privileges remained in the stat 
ute book of Connecticut. That consisted in a law 
which compelled every man, on reaching his major 
ity, to pay a tax to the Congregational society in 
whose bounds he lived, unless he lodged a certificate 



188 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

with its clerk that he belonged to some other reli 
gious persuasion. 

This became the point of attack, in which all the 
dissenting sects in religion, and all the opposers in 
politics, united. But the time for this union, as 
stated in a preceding letter, had not yet arrived. The 
heterogeneous particles were silently moving to their 
coalescence and their crystallization, forming in the 
end the party which took the watchword of TOLERA 
TION, and which gained the ascendency in 1817 ; but 
as yet, the keenest sagacity had not seen. -4,he coming 
event which was nevertheless near at hand. 

Up to this time the early part of this century 
orthodoxy seemed, on the surface, to stand almost 
unquestioned in Connecticut.* Unitarianism had be 
gun in Boston, but had not made any noticeable con- 

* After this work was begun and considerably advanced, I happened 
to discover in the Historical Library of the Atheneum at Hartford, a 
manuscript account of Eidgefield historical, descriptive, ecclesiastical, 
economical, &c. prepared by my father in 1800, upon a request by the 
State authorities. Among other remarks of a general nature, I rind the 
following : 

"About the time that Paine's Age of Reason presented itself to view, 
like Milton's Description of Death ' Black it stood as night, fierce as 
ten furies, terrible as hell' the horror of its features disgusted the 
people to such a degree that it has not yet had an advocate in this town." 

"There have been, in years past, a number of people who called 
themselves* Baptists, who showed much zeal in religion, and met in 
private houses for worship : at the present day they are much on the 
decline." 

" A few have joined the Methodists, whose preachers, though very 
zealous, have made little impression on the minds of the people of thia 
town." A little after this the Methodists increased in the manner I have 
related. 

" Almost all the people attend public worship with the Congregation- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 189 

quests in the land of " steady habits." Methodism 
destined soon to sweep over the State only glim 
mered faintly, as a kind of heat-lightning, in the dis 
tant horizon, indicating the electricity that was in the 
atmosphere. Universalism, in the form of Restora- 
tionism, was doubtless planted in many minds, for the 
eloquent and enthusiastic Murray* had been preach 
ing in the country. As yet, however, there were few 
organized societies of that persuasion now so numer 
ous in the Union. 

Episcopacy had been introduced at an early date. 
Indeed, Connecticut had the honor of receiving the 



alists or Episcopalians, and there is and has been, for a long time past, 
the utmost harmony and friendship prevailing between the several de 
nominations of Christians here. They frequently worship together, and 
thus prove the efficacy of that Spirit whose leading characteristic is 
charity." 

* John Murray, the first Universalist minister in Boston, was an Eng 
lishman, born about 1741. He became a preacher, and was at first a 
Calvinist, then a Wesleyan, then a follower of Whitfield. Afterward he 
went to London, and there plunged into the vortex of dissipation. In 
1770, being in a state of poverty, he came to America, where he preach 
ed, and by his eloquence soon acquired a high degree of popularity. 
At one time (1775) he was chaplain to a regiment in Rhode Island. Af 
ter preaching with success in various places, he was settled, in 1785, in 
Boston, where he continued till his death in 1815. He, as well as Win 
chester a Uuiversalist of great ability, and who, with Hosea Ballou, 
may be considered as the founder of modern Universalism in this coun 
try was a Trinitarian ; but his main doctrine was, that, " although sin 
ners would rise to the resurrection of damnation, and at the judgment- 
day would call on the rocks to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb, 
yet that after the judgment, the punishment was fulfilled, and the dam 
nation ended." He believed that the devil and his angels only would be 
placed at the left hand of Christ, like the goats, and that all mankind 
would be placed at his right. Ballou, Balfour, and other Universaliste 
of the modern sect, maintain that there will bn no judgmant-day and no 
future punishment. 



190 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

first ordained bishop of the Episcopal Church in 
America, thus anticipating even Virginia, to whom 
the Church of England was a mother church from 
the beginning. This was Bishop Seabury,* who was 
consecrated in the year 1784, and established at New 
London. 

I have heard of him a well-authenticated anecdote, 
which is very suggestive. On his arrival from Eng 
land, whither he had been to acquire his high eccle 
siastical honors, there was a general curiosity to see 
him and hear him preach, especially in Connecticut- 
al though the mass of the people, being Congregation- 



* Samuel Seabury, D. D., was a native of Groton, Conn., and was born 
in 1728. He graduated at Yale College, and then went to Scotland, to 
study medicine. He was there, however, ordained, and coming back to 
America, was settled at New Brunswick, New Jersey, as the missionary 
of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Having been stationed 
for a time at Jamaica, in the West Indies, he returned, and was settled 
at West Chester. Here he wrote and published several pamphlets in 
favor of the Crown, and was consequently seized by a party of soldiers, 
and for a time imprisoned at New Haven. When New York fell into 
the hands of the British, he joined them there, and became chaplain to 
Fanning's tory regiment. After the peace, having been elected bishop 
by the Episcopal clergy of Connecticut, he went to England, and applied 
to the Archbishop of York for consecration. This could not be grant 
ed, as an indispensable condition to consecration was, by law, an oath of 
allegiance to the crown. After nearly a year of fruitless effort* to obtain 
his object in England, he made application to the bishops of Scotland, 
by whom he was consecrated in 1784. He then returned, and entered 
upon the duties of his office, making New London his residence. Ha 
was an able man, and exercised a beneficial influence in establishing 
and extending the Episcopal Church, not only in Connecticut, but in 
the country generally. He was a worthy predecessor of other bishops 
of Connecticut Jarvis and Brownell who have not only done honor to 
the Church over which they presided, but have contributed to swell the 
list of scholars and divines which adorn our literature and our ecclesi- 
astioal history. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 191 

alists, and knowing that he had been an active and 
conspicuous tory in the Revolution, were strongly 
prejudiced against him. In their imaginations, a 
bishop who preferred monarchy to a republic, and 
who was called " my lord bishop," rode in a coach,* 
and appeared in swelling robes, was something ex 
ceedingly formidable, if not dangerous, to Church 
and State. 

When therefore he came to New Haven to preach, 
about this time that is, soon after he had returned 
with his prelatic honors the church was crowded 
to excess. Many who tried to get in were necessa 
rily excluded. When the service was over, a man 
of the middle class met one of his friends at the door, 
who was unable to obtain admittance : 

" Well, did you see him ?" said the latter. 

" Oh yes," was the reply. 

" And did he preach ?" 

" Oh yes." 

"And was he as proud as Lucifer?" 

" Not a bit of it : why he preached in his shirt 
sleeves !" 

There was a considerable body of Episcopalians 
in the State, though chiefly confined to the larger 
towns. The professors of this religion throughout 

* It is said that on one occasion he arrived at Yale College during 
the Commencement exercises, in his carriage, and a messenger was sent 
in to inquire if there was a seat for Bishop Seabury. Dr. Dwight, the 
President, sent back word that there were some two hundred bishops 
present, and he should be very happy to give him a place among them. 



192 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

the Union, but more especially in New England, .had 
been charged with being unfriendly to the Revolution, 
and it is known that a considerable portion of them 
were avowed tones during that painful struggle. Not 
only was Seabury a tory, but even Dr. Duche, who 
had been chaplain to the first Congress, and for a time 
was a zealous friend of liberty, fell from grace, and 
upon the occupation of Philadelphia by the British, 
joined them, and wrote a letter to Washington, call 
ing upon him to give up the ungodly cause in which 
he was engaged. 

The Episcopalians had indeed one tie more than 
other men to the " Old Country," and that was a pow 
erful one. England was not only their mother in 
things secular but in things sacred, the sovereign be 
ing the head of that institution which to them was 
the Ark of the Covenant. Rebellion to the king was 
therefore a sort of sacrilege. And besides, the mass 
of the rebels were Puritans, Presbyterians, Indepen 
dents, who rather repelled than invited sympathy and 
co-operation. It was more natural therefore, for the 
members of the English Church in America to take 
part with the king and against the Revolution, than 
for others. 

No doubt the charge of want of patriotism was 
exaggerated ; and as to Virginia, where Episcopacy 
was the dominant religion, it seems to have had less 
foundation. But at all events, this sect was not only 
repugnant to the people of New England, for the rea- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 193 

son assigned, but also on account of what they con 
ceived to be its tone and aspect of aristocracy. Its 
progress, therefore, was, of course, slow in that quar 
ter, and it may be remarked that it did not take a 
strong hold till, as the Protestant Episcopal Church 
in the United States, it was separated from the Eng 
lish Church, and became, as it now is, an American 
establishment, wholly independent in its government 
and organization, though the same in doctrine as its 
transatlantic original. 

At the period of which I am speaking from the 
year 1800 to 1810 the relative number of Episcopa 
lians in Connecticut was in respect to the orthodox, 
probably about one to three or four. In Kidgefield, 
there was a small brown edifice, which was called 
the " Episcopal Church," though sometimes, by way 
of ridicule, the " Episcopal Barn." The sarcasm may 
be forgiven, for in those days the Episcopalians arro 
gated the word church as their exclusive property, 
just as the Catholics claim it now. The Congrega- 
tionalists, according to their vocabulary, only held 
meetings, and their places of worship were nothing but 
meeting-houses. It is not till within the last ten years 
that the word church has been popularly applied to 
all places of worship. 

The Episcopal church in Bidgefield, just mentioned, 
was situated on the main street, nearly opposite the 
Up-town school. Some years before, Dr. Perry had 

been installed there, but he began to preach his own, 
VOL. I. 9 



194 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

opinions, and finding himself in danger of being ex 
pelled, he abdicated, and became a physician and a 
very eminent one. At length it became vacant, but in 
order to keep the holy fire alive, about once or twice 
a year it was opened, and service was held there. On 
these occasions the people flocked to see and hear the 
strange ceremonies, generally from curiosity, though 
perhaps there were a dozen persons of this persua 
sion. At the time of one of these performances, Am- 
by Benedict, the revolving shoemaker, was engaged 
at our house, and he went to church though, I be 
lieve, he was warned against it by some members of 
our household. On Monday morning, when he re 
turned, we asked him about it how he liked it, and 
what he thought of it. 

"Well," said he, "there's too many apolpgies for 
me : it's all the while getting up and sitting down, 
and talking out loud. Why if you'll believe it 
there were three or four persons who kept mocking 
the parson, and saying ' awmen !' till I was rael 
'shamed on 'em !" 

For some years subsequent to this period, the Epis 
copal church of Kidgefield remained only as a mon 
ument of waste and decay, but at last it revived, and 
is now in a flourishing condition, as indicated by a 
handsome edifice, erected nearly on the site of the 
old structure. This revival is in harmony with the 
general increase and progress of Episcopacy through 
out the United States. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 195 

Methodism, which had swept over England, came 
at last to America. Its success in both countries 
arose from several causes. The Anglo-Saxon race, 
from time immemorial, have shown a tendency to 
deep and anxious religious thoughts and exercises.* 
It was this national trait which gave such an impulse 
to Christianity on its first introduction into Great 
Britain ; it was this which, a few centuries later, en 
abled the different orders of friars, who went from 
town to town preaching spiritualism with a vehement 
and popular eloquence, to rouse the people into en 
thusiasm, and sow deep and wide the seeds of their 
doctrines. When the teaching of religion had been 
organized into a system and settled by authority, 
there were constantly rising up men deeply impressed 
with the importance of religious truth, and earnest 
in the desire to please God, and make their own 
" calling and election sure." 

Hence arose, at one time, the Lollards, at another 
the Gospellers, and finally the Puritans, who over 
turned the government, and brought about what is 
called the Keformation. In due time, these became 
divided into various sects, and in the last century, 
they, as well as the established church, seemed to 
have declined in religious spirit and fervor. The 
characteristic elements of the national character, 
though long suppressed, at last burst forth. Whit- 

* See Penny Cyclopedia, article Methodism. 



LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

field, by his fiery eloquence, first ignited the spark, 
and disclosed the deep and glowing emotions which 
were kindling in the bosom of society. It was re 
served, however, for Wesley, to give them full expres 
sion, and to combine into a permanent form, under 
the name of METHODISM, a church which should em 
body and perpetuate a new and startling develop 
ment of religious feeling and experience. 

The great characteristic of Methodism, at the out 
set, aside from its spiritual fervor, was, in the first 
place, that it addressed itself to the lower classes, and 
in the next, that it was chiefly propagated by illiter 
ate preachers. Southey, in his Life of Wesley, gives 
us some amusing anecdotes, illustrative of this latter 
circumstance. Among these he describes a noted 
itinerant declaimer, who, being unable to read, em 
ployed his mother for that purpose. u She reads the 
text," said the orator, " and I 'splains and 'splounds." 
It was, in fact, the doctrine of these people at that 
day, which was also held by the early Baptists, that 
human learning is rather a hindrance and a snare to 
the preacher : that spiritual gifts and grace are indeed 
the only requisites. I remember to have heard an 
anecdote, applicable to this period, which is in point. 

In one of his discourses, a gifted Poundtext, some 
where in Connecticut, addressed his audience in this 
wise : " What I insist upon, my brethren and sisters, 
is this: larnin isn't religion, and eddication don't 
give a man the power of the Spirit. It is grace and 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 197 

gifts that furnish the rael live coals from off the 
altar. St. Peter was a fisherman do you think he 
ever went to Yale College ? Yet he was the rock 
upon which Christ built his Church. No, no, be 
loved brethren and sisters. When the Lord wanted 
to blow down the walls of Jericho, he didn't take a 
brass trumpet, or a polished French horn : no such 
thing ; he took a ram's horn a plain, natural ram's 
horn just as it grew. And so, when he wants to 
blow down the walls of the spiritual Jericho, my 
beloved brethren and sisters, he don't take one of your 
smooth, polite, college larnt gentlemen, but a plain, 
natural ram's-horn sort of a man like me." 

Thus, Methodism found its first impulse in a de 
velopment of the inherent religious elements of the 
English character, rendered more explosive by long 
compression. It unquestionably derived aid in its 
beginning, also, from what was its reproach with its 
enemies the use of illiterate propagandists for it 
must be remembered that Methodism did not ad 
dress itself to high places, but to the million. Many 
of its preachers possessed great natural eloquence, 
and their defects of grammar and rhetoric rather 
pleased than offended the rude audiences to whom 
they spoke. In recent times, political leaders, and 
promoters of various public objects, have found it 
convenient to take a hint from this portion of his 
tory. 

It must be stated, furthermore, that the new sect 



198 



LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL 



derived a sort of epidemic power from nervous or 
mesmeric phenomena which the ignorant deemed mi 
raculous, and therefore divine. In the midst of ago 
nizing prayers and preachings, individuals would fall 
down as in a swoon. These were immediately sur 
rounded with persons, calling in impassioned tones 
upon the Holy Spirit, as if there personally present, 
to wash out their sins, and clothe them in the white 
robes of the Lamb of God. The subject of these 
solemn and agitating exercises, waking from his cat 
alepsy, was saluted as having passed from death to 
life, from perdition to salvation ! Then were poured 
out prayers of thanksgiving, and then all joined in 
hymns, set to plaintive and sentimental airs, many 
of them associated in the popular mind with the warm 
and tender emotions of youthful love and human af 
fection. And these scenes often took place at night, 
in the midst of the forest, amid the glare of torches, 
the pageantry of processions, and the murmurs of a 
thousand voices, joining in a general anthem of ago 
nizing prayers and shouting praises. 

To a religious mind, every thing that tends to pro 
mote religion in the hearts of men, is apt to be re 
garded as distinct from the ordinary providence of 
God, yet it is difficult to prove even in such move 
ments, that He ever proceeds without the use of 
means. The notice of these is the sphere of the 
historian, and therefore, not denying or disregard 
ing the invisible influences of the divine Spirit, 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTICAL, ETC. 199 

I merely chronicle the open and tangible events of 
the time I refer to, with the machinery employed to 
produce them. The founders of Methodism did not 
disdain human means : nay, I suspect it will be diffi 
cult to find in the originators of any sect or creed, a 
more profound knowledge of human nature, or a 
more sedulous employment of human agencies, than 
are to be discovered in the early promoters of Meth 
odism. Their camp-meetings, their love-feasts, their 
adaptation of popular airs to religious songs, their 
spirit of social fellowship, their use of the inferior arts 
of oratory, their employment of the intense enthusiasm 
of congregated masses, their promotion of cataleptic 
spasms to excite a feeling of supernatural awe in the 
people, were all calculated to produce precisely such 
effects as actually proceeded from them. It is neither 
necessary, nor is it philosophical, in explaining what 
is natural, to go beyond the known laws of nature. 
That God was in all this, we believe, but only as He 
is in all the other movements of human life, tending 
to work out human destiny. Who can doubt that 
the career of Washington, the soldier and statesman, 
was as much ordered by Providence as that of Wes 
ley the divine? 

We all know with what epidemic celerity Method 
ism spread over certain portions of England, espe 
cially among the masses of Bristol, Moorfields, Black- 
heath, Newcastle, and other places. Wesley began 
his mission in 1729 : at his death, in 1791, after a 



200 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

laborious life of sixty-five years, there were three 
hundred itinerant preachers, and a thousand local 
preachers, with eighty thousand persons, associated in 
societies, all belonging to his creed. This of course 
spread to America, but there was less immediate field 
for it here. Nevertheless, it was gradually extended, 
especially in the newly settled parts of the south 
ern and western country. In Kentucky and Ten 
nessee it was widely planted, and here it was at 
tended with some of the most extraordinary phenom 
ena* recorded in the history of the human mind. At 

* These consisted of various manifestations, called the "falling," the 
"jerking," the " rotting,' 1 '' the " dancing" and the'" barking" exercises, 
together with visions and trances. The latter were the most common ; 
in these the subject was in a state of delicious mental revery, with a 
total suspension of muscular power and consciousness to external ob 
jects. In the jerks, the spasms were sometimes so violent as to induce 
the fear that those affected with them would dislocate their necks. Often 
the countenance was most disgustingly distorted. The first instance of 
this occurred at a sacrament in East Tennessee. These phenomena were 
most common with the Methodists, though people of other sects were 
attacked by them. The contagion even spread to Ohio, among the sober 
people of the Western Reserve. Howe's Great West, p. 179. 

Dow gives the following description in his journal, the period be 
ing in the early part of 1804, and the scenes of the events desribed, in 
Tennessee and Kentucky. 

" I came to a house., and hired a woman to take me over the river 
in. a canoe for my remaining money and a pair of scissors ; the latter of 
which was the chief object with her : so one's extremities are others' 
opportunities. Thus with difficulty I got to my appointment in New 
port, in time. 

"I had heard about a singularity called the ,/* or jerking exercise, 
which appeared first near Knoxville in August last, to the great alarm 
of the people ; which reports at first I considered as vague and false ; 
but at length, like the Queen of Sheba, I set out to go and see for my 
self, and sent over these appointment* into this country accordingly. 

" When I arrived in sight of the town, I saw hundreds of people 
collected in little bodies ; and observing no place appointed for meet- 



HISTORICAL, ANKCPOTICAL, ETC. 201 

the religious gatherings, whether in dwellings and 
churches or in the open woods and fields, persons 
would be suddenly taken with certain irresistible 
spasms, inciting them to the most strange and extrav 
agant performances. Some would bark like dogs, 
and attempt to climb the trees, declaring that they were 
treeing the devil. Some had delicious trances ; others 
danced as if beset with sudden frenzy; others still were 

ing, before I spoke to any, I got on a log and gave out a hymn, which 
caused them to assemble round, in a solemn, attentive silence. I ob 
served several involuntary motions in the course of the meeting, which 
1 considered as a specimen of the jerks. I rode several miles behind a 
man across a stream of water, and held meeting in the evening, being 
ten miles on my way. 

" In the night I grew uneasy, being twenty-five miles from my ap 
pointment for next Monday at eleven o'clock. I prevailed upon a young 
man to attempt carrying me with horses until day, which he thought 
was impracticable, considering the darkness of the night and the thick 
ness of the *rees. Solitary shrieks were heard in these woods, which 
he told me were the cries of murdered persons. At day we parted, be 
ing still seventeen miles from the spot; and the ground covered with a 
white frost. I had not proceeded far before I came to a stream of water 
from the springs of the mountain, which made it dreadful cold. la 
my heated state I had to wade this stream five times in the course of 
about an hour, which I perceived BO affected my body that my strength 
began to fail. Fears began to arise that I must disappoint the people, 
till I observed some fresh tracks of horses, which caused me to exert 
every nerve to overtake them, in hopes of aid or assistance on my jour 
ney, and soon 1 saw them on an eminence. I shouted for them to stop 
till I came up. They inquired what I wanted ; I replied, I had heard 
there was a meeting at Seversville by a stranger, and was going to it. 
They replied that they had heard that a crazy man was to hold forth 
there, and were going also ; and perceiving that I was weary, they in 
vited me to ride ; and soon our company was increased to forty or fifty, 
who fell in with us on the road from different plantations. At length I 
was interrogated whether I knew any thing about the preacher. I re 
plied, I had heard a good deal about him, and had heard him preach, 
but had no great opinion of him ; and thus the conversation contin 
ued for some miles before they found me out, which caused some color 
and smiles iu the company. Thus T got on to meeting, aud after taking 

9* 



202 T.KTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

agitated by violent and revolting convulsions and 
twitchings, which obtained the popular name of the 
jerks. All classes of persons who came within the atmo 
sphere of the mania Methodists, Presbyterians, and 
Quakers men and women became subjects of these 
extraordinary agitations. I recollect to have heard 
the late Thomas II. Gallaudet say that, when a young 
man, he visited one of the meetings where these phe- 

a cup of tea, gratis, I began to speak to a vnst audience : and I observed 
about thirty to have the jerks, though they strove to keep as still us 
they could. These emotions were involuntary and irresistible, as any 
unprejudiced eye might discern. Lawyer Porter (who had come a con 
siderable distance) got his heart touched under the word, and being 
informed how I came to meeting, voluntarily lent me a horse to ride 
near one hundred miles, and gave me a dollar, though he hud never 
seen me before. 

" Hence to Marysville. where I spoke to about one thousand five hun 
dred : many appeared to feel the word, but about fifty felt the jerks. At 
night I lodged with one of the Nicholites, a kind of Quakers, who do 
not feel free to wear colored clothes. I spoke to a number of people at 
his house that night. Whilst at tea, I observed his daughter (who' sat 
opposite to me at the tabie) to have the/rfo, and dropped the tea-cup 
from her hand in violent agitation. I said to her, * Young woman, what 
is the matter?' She replied, 'I have got the jerlcs." 1 I asked her how 
long she had it. She observed, ' A few days,' and that it had been the 
means of the awakening and conversion of her soul, by stirring her up 
to serious consideration about her careless state, &c. 

'Sunday, Feb. 19, I spoke in Knoxville, to hundreds more than could 
pet into the court-house the governor being present. About one hun 
dred and fifty appeared to have jerking exercise, among whom was a 
circuit preacher (Johnson), who had opposed them a little before, but 
he now had them powerfully ; and 1 believe he would have fallen over 
three times, had not the auditory been so crowded, that he could not, 
unless he fell perpendicularly. 

" After meeting, I rode eighteen miles to hold meeting at night. The 
.people of this settlement were mostly Quakers, and they had said, as 
1 was informed, that ' the Methodists and Presbyterians have the jerlrt 
because they sing and pray so much ; but we are a still, peaceable peo 
ple, wherefore we do not have them ;' however, about twenty of them 
citi.ir to meeting, to hear one. as was said, somewhat in a Quaker line. 




THE JERKING KXEUCISE. Vol. 1. p. 202. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 

nomena were taking place, and that lie felt within 
himself an almost uncontrollable temptation to imi 
tate some of the strange antics that were going on 
around him. 

Nor did all this so calculated as it was to excite 
public curiosity, and to produce in the minds of the 
ignorant a superstitious idea that there must be some 
thing supernatural in a religion that led to such 

But their usual stillness and silence was interrupted, for about a dozen 
of them had \\Mjerks as keen and as powerful as any I had seen, so as 
to have occasioned a kind of grunt or groan when they would jerk. It 
appears that many have undervalued the Great Revival, and attempted 
to account for it altogether on natural principles; therefore it seems to 
me, from the best judgment I can form, that God hath seen proper to 
take this method to convince people that he will work in a way to show 
his power, and sent t\\zjerlct as a sign of the times, partly in judgment 
for the people's unbelief, and yet as a mercy to convict people of di 
vine realities. 

"I have seen Presbyterians, Methodists, Quakers, Baptists, Church 
of England, and Independents, exercised with the jerks. Gentleman 
and lady, black and white, the aged and the youth, rich and poor, with 
out exception ; from which I infer, as it can not be accounted for on 
natural principles, and carries such marks of involuntary motion, that 
it is no trifling matter. I believe that they who were the most pious 
and given up to God are rarely touched with it; and also those nat 
uralists, who wish and try to get it to philosophize npon it, are ex- 
cepted ; but the lukewarm, lazy, half-hearted, indolent professor, is sub 
ject to it, and many of them I have seen, who, when it came upon them, 
would be alarmed, and stirred up to redouble their diligence with God, 
and after they would get happy, were thankful that it ever came upon 
them. Again, the wicked are frequently more afraid of it than the 
small-pox or yellow fever. These are subject to it ; but the persecutor* 
are more subject to it than any, and they sometimes have cursed and 
swore and damned it, whilst jerking. There is no pain attending the 
jerks except they resist them, which, if they do, it will weary them 
more in an hour than a day's labor, which shows that it requires the 
consent of the will to avoid suffering. 

" I passed by a meeting-house, where I observed the undergrowth had 
been cut up for a camp-meeting, and from fifty to one hundred saplings 
left breast high, which to me appeared so Slovenish that I could not but 



204: LKTTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

results constitute the whole of the machinery of 
Methodism, at this period. Some of the preachers 
seemed to be impelled in their orbits if not as 
swift, certainly more eccentric than those of the 
comets by a zeal, an energy, an enthusiasm, 
which some kind of inspiration alone could create. 
The wandering priests of Buddhism who traverse 
mountains and rivers, seas, islands, and continents, 
with a restlessness which knows no abatement ; the 
-Mohammedan friars that profess to work miracles, and 
in evidence of their powers, spin round and round 
till they fall fainting upon the floor ; the Bramins, 
who rush under the wheels of Juggernaut, or cause 
themselves to be suspended by irons hooked into the 
muscles of the back, and then whirled round in the 



ask my guide the cause, who observed they were topped so high, and 
left for the people to jerk by. This BO excited my attention that I went 
over the ground to view it, and found, where the people had laid hold 
of them and jerked so powerfully, that they had kicked np the earth as 
"a horse stamping flies. I observed some emotion both this day and night 
among the people. A Presbyterian minister (with whom I stayed) ob 
served, ' Yesterday, whilst I was speaking, some had the jerks, and a 
young man from North Carolina mimicked them out of derision, and 
soon was seized with them himself (which was the case with many 
others). He grew ashamed, and on attempting to mount his horse to 
go off, his foot jerked about so that he could not put it into the stirrup. 
Some youngsters seeing this, assisted him on, but he jerked so that 
he could not sit alone, and one got up to hold him on, which was done 
with difficulty. I observing this, went to him, and asked him what he 
thought of it. Said he, " I believe God sent it on me for my wick 
edness, and making light of it in others," and he requested me to 
pray for him.' 

" I observed his wife had it; she said she was first attacked in bed. 
T>r Nelson' had frequently strove to get it (in order to philosophize 
about it), but he could not ; and observed they could not accouo* for it 
'<m nutural principles." 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC A L, ETC. 205 

air from a long pole ; these were all rivaled, if not 
outdone, by the indomitable zeal of some of the preach 
ers and propagators of Methodism at this period. 

The most conspicuous of these was the noted Lo 
renzo Dow.* He was a native of Connecticut, and at 
the period of my boyhood had begun to be talked 
about chiefly on account of his eccentricities though 
he was also a man of some talent. About the time 

* Methodism was first introduced into America about the year 1766. 
In 1771, the celebrated Francis Asbury came over from England, and 
preached here. He was followed by Dr. Coke in 1784, and in that year 
the Methodist Church in America was duly organized. The two indi 
viduals just mentioned, were men of education, talent, zeal, and piety, 
and to their earnest and untiring labors, the rapid spread of the society 
may be chiefly attributed. Asbury, who was constituted senior bishop 
in the United States, in the course of his ministry ordained three thou- 
pand ministers, and preached seventeen thousand sermons ! 

Among the extraordinary incidents in the history of Methodism, we 
may note the following : 

" Last year (1799) was celebrated for the commencement of those 
Great Revivals iu Eeligion in the Western Country, which induced the 
practice of holding camp-meetings. This work commenced under thft 
united labors of two brothers by the name of McGee, one a Presbyte 
rian and the other a Methodist preacher. On one occasion, William 
McGee felt such a power come over him, that he seemed not to know 
what he did ; so he left his seat and sat down on the floor, while John 
sat trembling under the consciousness of the power of God. In the mean 
time there was great solemnity and weeping all over the house. He was 
expected to preach, but instead of that, he arose and told the people that 
the overpowering nature of his feelings would not allow of his preach 
ing, but as the Lord was evidently among them, he earnestly exhorted 
the people to surrender their hearts to him. Sobs and cries bespoke 
the deep feeling which pervaded the hearts of the people. This great and 
earnest work excited such attention, that the people came in crowds from 
the surrounding country, and this was the beginning of that great revi 
val in religion in the western country which introduced camp-meeting*. 
Tliis novel mode of worshiping God excited great attention. In the night 
the grove was illuminated by lighted candles, lamps, or torches. This, 
together with the stillness of the night, the solemnity which rested on 
very countenance, the peculiar and earnest manner in which the prencli- 



206 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

that Methodism began to spread itself in Connecticut, 
Dow appeared in Ridgefield, and taking a stand on 
'Squire Nathan Smith's wood-pile, held forth to a few 
boys and other people that chanced to be in that 
quarter. I was returning from school, and stopped 
to hear his discourse. He was then about thirty 
vears of age, but looked much older. He was thin 
and weather-beaten, and appeared haggard and ill- 



ers exhorted the people to repentance, prayer, and faith, prodnced the 
most awful sensations on the minus of all present." 

" At a meeting held in Cabin Creek, the work seemed to bear down 
all opposition. Few, if any, escaped from it; such as attempted to run 
from it were frequently struck down in the way. On the third night so 
many fell (that is, in cataleptic swoons), that to prevent their being trod 
den under feet, they were collected together, and laid out in two squares 
of the meeting-house. At the great meeting at Cambridge, the number 
that fell was named at over three thousand !" Bangs' History of Methoii- 
ism, vol. ii. p. 108. 

The following will give some idea of the men and manners connected 
with Methodism at this era : 

" Calvin Wooster was a man of mighty prayer and faith. Nor was he 
alone in this work. The other preachers caught the flame of divine love, 
and were carried forward, under its sacred influence, in their Master's 
work. Many instances of the manifestations of Divine power and grace 
might be narrated, one of which I will relate. At a quarterly meeting 
in the Bay of Quinte circuit (Upper Canada, A. D. 1799), as the preacher 
commenced his sermon, n thoughtless man in the front gallery com 
menced in a playful mood to swear profanely, and thus to disturb the 
congregation. The preacher paid no attention to him, until he was in 
the midst of his sermon, when feeling strong in faith and the power of 
his might, suddenly stopping, he fixed his piercing eyes on the profane 
man ; then stamping his foot, and pointing his finger at him, with great 
energy he cried out, ' My God, smite hirnT He instantly fell, as if shot 
through the heart with a bullet. At this moment such a divine afflatus 
came down upon the congregation, tliat sinners were crying to God for 
mercy in every direction, while the saints of God burst forth in loud 
praises to His name." Bangs' History of Meihvdiem, vol. ii. p. 74. 

We now come to Lorenzo Dow. 

This person was born at Coventry, Connecticut, in 1777. In his 
' Jftmpl,ijitd Krjttrlencif, or LiH'fnzo'x Journal,''' he says : " One d&y t 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 207 

favored, partly on account of his reddish, dusty beard, 
some six inches long then a singularity if not an 
enormity, as nobody among us but old Jagger the 
beggar cultivated such an appendage. I did not com 
prehend what he said, and only remember his general 
appearance. He was merely passing through Kidge- 
field, and soon departed, having produced the impres 
sion that he was an odd sort of person, and rather 

when I was between three and four years old, I suddenly fell into a 
re very about God and those places called Heaven and Hell, so that I 
forgot my play, and nsked my companion if he ever said his prayers. 
He said no. 'Then,' said I, 'you are wicked, and I will not play with 
you ;' so I quit his company, and went into the house." Afterwards, 
having killed a bird, he became distressed in mind, and wished he had 
never been born. Still later he had a dream, in which he saw the 
prophet Nathan, who told him that he wortld die at the age of twenty- 
two. In 1791 he saw John Wesley in a dream, which induced him to 
change his ways, and enter on a religious life. " Soon," he says, " I 
became like a speckled bird among the birds of the forest, in the eyes 
of my friends." 

After various mental agonies he took to preaching, and up to the time 
of his death, which occurred at Georgetown, District of Columbia, in 
1834, he traveled and preached with a restlessness perhaps without par 
allel in human history. He not only visited repeatedly almost every 
part of the United States, but England and Ireland, everywhere ad 
dressing such audiences as came in his way. Sometimes he spoke from 
a stump, or rock, or fallen tt.ee in the wildnesses ; sometimes in private 
houses, sometimes in religious edifices, sometimes on the platforms of 
camp-meetings. Few men have ever traveled so many miles : no one, 
probably, ever preached to so great a number of persons. 

His Journal, above mentioned, is a very curious, though quaint and 
affected, record of his experience and adventures. lie appears to have 
been actuated by a desire of moving on and on, fearing no danger, and 
overcoming every obstacle. He must preach or die, and he must preach 
in new places and to new audiences. He seems to have considered him 
self as urged by a divine enthusiasm to preach the Gospel. The shrewd 
observer will think he was quite as anxious to preach Lorenzo Dow. He 
evidently had a large share of personal vanity : his spirit was aggressive, 
and attacks upon other sects constituted a large part of his preaching. 
Jn one instance lie was prosecuted for libel upon a olerirv 111:111. an-1 b"im; 



SOS I.ETTKR8 BIOGRAPHICAL, 

light-headed. I afterward heard him preach twice at 
camp-meetings, and will endeavor to give you some 
idea of his manner. The following is a passage, as 
nearly as I can recollect, his general discourse being 
aimed at those who accused the Methodists of being 
New Lights a mere set of enthusiasts. 

"Now, my friends, you all know we are called 
New Lights. It is said that we have in us a false 
fire which throws out a glare only to mislead and 
deceive the people. They say we are actuated by 
the spirit of the devil, instead of the spirit of reli 
gion. Well, no matter what they say ; no matter 
what they call us : the question is, whether we have 
the real fire or the false fire? I say we have got 
the true fire, and the old Church-and-State Presby 
terians have got the false fire. That's what I say, 
and I'll prove it. 

convicted WHS imprisoned for ti short time. He resorted to various ar 
tifice^ to excite the curiosity of the public, and thus to increase his au 
diences'. His doctrines were those of the Methodists, and he generally 
associated with Methodist congregations : still, lie never formally became 
a member of that communion. Though he hud the weaknesses and vices 
above suggested, he is generally regarded, on the whole, as a sincere and 
religious mau. His character is, however, not to be commended, for infi 
delity thrives upon foibles, eccentricities, artifices, and vulgarities, in one 
who assumes to be a preacher of the Gospel. Such things may catch a 
few thoughtless minds, but the reflecting those who will exert a -.vide 
and lasting influence will be apt to point to them as evidence that ro- 
ligion is the offspring of ignorance and fanaticism, played upon by char 
latans and pretenders. 

Peggy Dow, Lorenzo's wife, seems to have had a great admiration oi 
her husband, and to have shared in his religious zeal, without partaking 
of his vices of manner and mind. On the whole, her character hup- 
pily displays the feminine characteristics of warm affection, devotion, 
and that charity which covers a multitude of sins and weaknesses. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 209 

" There is in nater, no doubt, as well as in religion, 
both false fire and true fire : the first is rotten-wood, 
which shines in the night. You often see it among 
the roots and trunks of old decayed trees. But you 
may pile it up as high as a haystack, and it won't 
make a pot boil. Now ain't that like the old sleepy, 
decayed Presbyterians ? But as to the true fire if 
you take a few kindlings, and put 'em under a kit 
tie, and put some water in the kittle, and then set 
the kindlings on fire, you'll see something, won't 
you ? Well : what will you see ? Why the water 
begins to wallop and wallop and wallop ! Well, sup 
pose you had never seen water bile before you'd say 
the devil was in it, wouldn't you ? Of course you 
would. Now, it is just so with this carnal genera 
tion the old school, the rotten-wood, the false-fire 
people they see us moved with the true fire of reli 
gion, and they say the devil's, in it because they 
never saw it before, and don't understand it. Thus 
it is they call us New Lights. No wonder, for they 
have nothing but false fire in their hearts !" 

Lorenzo was not only uncouth in his person and 
appearance, but his voice was harsh, his action hard 
and rectangular. It is scarcely possible to conceive 
of a person more entirely destitute of all natural 
eloquence. But he understood common life, and 
especially vulgar life its tastes, prejudices, and 
weaknesses ; and he possessed a cunning knack of 
adapting his discourses to such audiences. He told 



210 LE1TERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

stories with considerable art, and his memory being 
stored with them, he could always point a moral or 
clinch a proposition by an anecdote. He knew that 
with simple people an illustration is better than logic, 
and when he ran short of Scripture, or argument 
failed, he usually resorted to some pertinent story or 
adapted allegory. He affected oddity in all things 
in his mode of preaching as well as in dress. He 
took pains to appear suddenly and by surprise among 
the people where he proposed to hold forth : he fre 
quently made his appointments a year beforehand, 
and at the very minute set, he would come like an 
apparition. He often took scraps of texts, and ex 
tracted from them, by a play upon words, an unex 
pected argument or startling inference. His endeavor 
seemed to be to exercise an influence over the imagi 
nation by associating himself in the minds of the peo 
ple with John the Baptist, preaching in the wilder 
ness, and living on locusts and wild honey. His 
special admirers saw great merit in his oddities, and 
even in his long shaggy goat. By the vain world 
of that day, this was deemed beastly for then fop 
pery had not taken the beard as its type and its 
glory. It was thirty years later, that I saw an 
American among the fashionable circles of Paris, and 
who had his reddish hair and beard dressed like 
Christ in Raphael's pictures very much petted by 
the French ladies, who thought him so like our Sa 
viour ! 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTICAT., ETC. 211 

At the time of which I am writing, one of the great 
points of dispute between Methodism and Orthodoxy 
was that of "Falling from Grace :" the former taking 
the affirmative and the latter the negative. The in 
firmities of human nature, sometimes visible in the 
Elect, furnished abundant and laughter-moving weap 
ons against the doctrine of the saints' perseverance. 
The apostle Peter, who had denied his Lord and 
Master under circumstances which made his conduct 
appear in the highest degree craven and cowardly, 
furnished a standing argument for the preachers of 
Methodism. The scandals of deacons and priests in 
the orthodox church, were picked up and thrown into 
the argument with more wit than delicacy. In this 
coarse, Parthian warfare, Lorenzo was an adept and 
he seemed to take as much delight in provoking the 
ribald mirth of the mocker of all religion, as in contro 
verting ecclesiastical error in the mind of the sincere 
inquirer. It is true that, in private, the orthodox some 
times paid back and perhaps with interest, for the 
Methodists claimed to attain spiritual perfection. It 
was not difficult to find cases in which their practice 
jarred a little with their pretenses. The Methodists 
had the advantage, however, for their preachers in 
troduced these topics in their discourses, often ma 
king pointed and personal attacks the pepper and 
salt of their harangues while the more stately or- 
thodox usually confined their discussions to private 
circles, or perhaps general and dignified notices in. 



212 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

their sermons. On one occasion, Dow illustrated 
his views on the subject of " Falling from Grace," 
somewhat as follows, his text being a part of the 
verse, Heb. ii. 1 : " Lest at any time we should lei 
them slip" 

"Now, my brethren," said Dow when he had 
stated and enlarged upon his argument "let me 
take a case, and a very likely one to" happen. Nay, 
I'm not at all sure that it hain't happened, and not a 
hundred miles off. Well, here is Major Smith, who 
becomes convarted. He joins the church, and is 
safe as a codfish, pickled, packed, and in port. Of 
course his calling and election are sure. He can't 
let 'em slip. He can't fall from grace not he ! Don't 
be too certain of that, my brethren ! Don't be too sure 
of that, major! 

" I say nothing agin the character of Major Smith, 
mind you. He is a very fair sort of a man, as the world 
goes. Nevertheless, they du say that he was in the 
habit of taking, now and then, a glass or two more 
than was good for him. He was fond of a warm gin 
toddy, especially of a cold day, for he was subject to 
wind on the stomach ; and then, in order to settle 
his toddy, he would take a glass of flip, and then to 
settle his flip, he'd take a glass of toddy, agin. These 
he usually took in the arternoon and at Northrup's 
tavern. 

" But, as I say, one day Major Smith was convart 
ed, and taken into the church, and so he must reform. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIOAL, ETC. 213 

He must give up toddy and flip, and Northrup's tav 
ern. And he has gin them all up for he is parfeckly 
sincere mind you. Well, some weeks later, on the 
arternoon of a cold blustering day in December, he 
happens to be passing by Northrup's tavern. Just at 
that time, as the devil will have it for the devil is 
always looking out for a chance his old friend and 
bottle companion, Nate Seymour, comes to the door, 
and sees the major. Well, the latter rides up, and 
they shake hands, and talk over the news, and finally 
Nate says, ' Won't you come in a minute, major?' 

" Now, as I tell you, it's a cold winter's day, and 
the major says he'll jest get down, and warm his 
fingers. He won't drink any thing of course, but he 
thinks it best not to break all at once with his old 
friends, for they may say he's proud. Perhaps he'll 
have a chance to say a word in season to some one. 
So he goes in, and, as it happens, Nate jest then puts 
the red-hot poker into a mug of flip. How it bub 
bles and simmers and foams ! What a nice odor it 
does send forth into the room 1 And jest then the 
landlord grates in a little nutmeg. What a pleasant 
sound is that to poor, shivering human nater, on a 
cold day in December ! 

" Well, Nate takes it and hands it to the major. 
The major says to himself, ' I'll just put it to my lips, 
so as not to seem frumptious and unreasonable, but I 
won't drink any.' So he takes it, and it feels mighty 
warm and nice to his cold fingers. He looks at it ; 



2 1 4 LLTfERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

its fumes rise to his nostrils; he remembers the joys 
of other days ; he puts it to his lips I 

" Well, and what then ? Oh nothing, my breth 
ren only I tell you, that elect or no elect, that is a 
very slippery spot for the major I" 

The effect of this upon an audience to whom such 
language was adapted, especially as it all referred to 
a well-known person, who, after being taken into the 
church, had backslidden to his old habits, may be 
easily appreciated. Who could argue down such 
telling logic with the million ? 

For a considerable time the Methodists made few 
converts in Bidgefield, but they planted themselves 
in the neighboring towns, and soon their numbers 
were sufficient to hold camp-meetings in various 
quarters. At length, Dr. Baker, a respectable physi 
cian of our village, became imbued with the rising 
spirit, and he began to hold meetings in his kitchen. 
Here there was praying, and exhorting, and telling 
experiences, and singing sentimental airs to warm and 
sentimental religious hymns. The neighbors gathered 
in, and soon it was noised abroad that a great work was 
going on. Various passions were insensibly wrought 
upon to swell the movement ; curiosity was gratified 
by something new and strange ; the love of the dra 
matic, implanted in every bosom, was delighted with 
scenes in which men and women stood up and told 
how the Lord had brought them from death unto life : 
the tender melodies touched and melted many hearts ; 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOT1CAL, ETC 215 

the sympathy of young men and young . /aidens was 
titillated ; the love of fellowship between man and 
man was flattered; and all these varying emotions 
seemed to be melted into one warm, flowing current 
of religion, sanctified by the presence of the Holy 
Spirit ! How curious are the workings of the human 
heart ! how much of earth is often mingled in with 
what claims to breathe of heaven ! 

I cast no reproaches upon these persons : Dr. Baker 
was a true and worthy man, and among his associates 
were several excellent people. I do not deny that 
in the end much good was done ; that the thoughtless, 
the frivolous, the vain, and in some cases the wicked 
and the debased, were drawn, even through these 
means, to religious convictions and a religious life. 
Still, these things were looked upon as a vain and 
delusive mania, or perhaps even the work of the Evil 
One, by the world around, and especially by those of 
the established creed. Nevertheless, the movement 
spread, and at last became epidemic. Some of my 
father's flock strayed from the fold, and became the 
spoil of the enemy. One or two of his staunch 
church members saw new light in the horizon of their 
religion. A little short man, up at the North End, 
who had a fine treble voice and a tall wife with the 
throat of a trumpet, but who was withal one of the 
pillars of the church came to our house, bringing 
the said wife on a pillion, both charged with Lorenzo 
Dow's true fire. Therefore, they lifted up their voices 



216 LETTEES BIOGRAPHICAL, 

and testified to my father that a new era had come, 
and that it was time for him and his people to wake 
up from their slumbers, which boded death and de 
struction to their souls 1 

The precise scene I do not remember. I have only 
a general recollection of the deep anxiety of both my 
parents about this time. A cloud was on their hearts 
and their countenances, by day and night. The dea 
cons were called in, and there were profound consul 
tations as to what was to be done. The neighboring 
clergy were consulted, and it was soon discovered 
that they, too, were beset by the same dangers. In 
some cases, their people joined the Methodists ; in 
others, they imitated them by evening meetings for 
prayer and mutual exhortation. The very air at last 
seemed impregnated with the electric fluid. Not only 
men of a religious turn seemed in a state of unusual 
excitement, but the cold, the careless, the worldly, be 
gan to ask, What shall we do to be saved ? Attempts 
were made in some places to preach down the rising 
tempest as an illusion. Parson Elliot, of Fairfield, gave 
it battle, as I have stated, declaring that in religion, 
as well as in the affairs of life, a steady, tranquil de 
votion was better than sudden and irregular storms 
of fervor. 

Nevertheless, the movement could not be arrested. 
My father, who was, I think, a far-seeing man, did 
not attempt to breast the shock. He took a wiser 
course. He adopted evening meetings, first at the 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 217 

church, and afterward at private -houses. No doubt, 
also, he put more fervor into his Sabbath discourses. 
Deacons and laymen, gifted in speech, were called 
upon to pray and exhort, and tell experiences in the 
private meetings, which were now called conferences. 
A revival of religious spirit arose even among the 
orthodox. Their religious meetings soon became 
animated, and were speedily crowded with interested 
worshipers or eager lookers-on. At the same time, 
the church was newly shingled and freshly painted ; 
the singing choir was regenerated ; the lagging salary 
of my father was paid up, and as winter approached, 
his full twenty cords of wood were furnished by his 
people according to the contract. 

And yet the wolf was all the while stealing the 
sheep ! Nevertheless, my father's church increased, 
and at the same time the dreaded Methodists con 
verted a large number of the idle, dissipated, and ir 
religious, who had become, like Ephraim of old, so 
joined to idols, that there seemed no other way than to 
let them alone. But for Methodism, this had undoubt 
edly been their fate. And thus what seemed a mania, 
wrought regeneration ; thus orthodoxy was in a con 
siderable degree methodized, and Methodism in due 
time became orthodoxed. Years passed on, and now 
there are two bright places of worship in Ridge- 
field; one Methodist and one Congregational, and 
both filled with worshipers. The people of the latter 
consist for the most part of the staid, sober, 

VOL. I. 10 



218 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

middle-aged class : those of the former though the 
church had its rise in a kitchen comprise many re 
spectable citizens, with a full proportion of the gen 
tler sex, who comprehend and employ the advantages 
of coquettish French bonnets, trimmed with wreaths 
of artificial flowers ! Moreover, the clergymen of 
the two churches exchange with each other, and the 
professors of both are mutually admitted to the com 
munion tables. Let us never judge too harshly of any 
movement, which, though it may develop some frail 
ties, has evidently a religious basis. Folly, affecta 
tion, vulgarity, are always fit objects of ridicule, even 
when clothed in a sanctimonious garb, but in letting 
our arrows fly at vice, we should ever be scrupulous 
not to wound virtue. 



LETTER XVI. 

The Three Deacons. 
MY DKAK C****** 

It may be amusing, perhaps profitable, to give 
here a few sketches of the remarkable characters of 
Ridgefield, at the opening of the present century. 
Some were types of their time ; others, however ec 
centric, were exemplifications of our race and our 
society, influenced by peculiar circumstances, and 
showing into what fashions this stuff of humanity 



HISTORTCAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 219 

may be wrought. They were, moreover, among the 
monuments that are still prominent in my recollec 
tion, and seem to me an essential part of the social 
landscape which encircled my youth. 

I begin with the three deacons of my father's par 
ish. First was Deacon Olmstead, full threescore years 
and ten at the opening of the present century. His 
infancy touched upon the verge of Puritanism the 
days of Increase and Cotton Mather. The spirit of 
the Puritans lived in his heart, while the semblance 
of the patriarchs lingered in his form. He was fully 
six feet high, with broad shoulders, powerful limbs, 
and the august step of a giant. His hair was white, and 
rolled in thin curls upon his shoulders : he was still 
erect, though he carried a long cane, like that of fa 
ther Abraham in the old pictures, representing him 
at the head of his kindred and his camels, going from 
the land of Haran to the land of Canaan. Indeed, 
he was my personification of the great progenitor of 
the Hebrews ; and when my father read from the 
twelfth chapter of Genesis, how he and Lot and their 
kindred journeyed forth, I half fancied it must be 
Deacon Olmstead under another name. 

I know not if there be such men now so grand, yet 
so simple ; so wise, yet so good ; so proud, yet so meek 
and lowly. It is doubtless the cant of each genera 
tion in its age and decrepitude, to degrade the present 
and magnify the past, perhaps because the heart is a 
little jaded and sickened with the disappointments 



220 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

which press heavily upon it, and naturally 'turns with 
disgust at these, to bestow a kind of worship upon the 
shades which stalk along the distant horizon of youth 
ful remembrances. Perhaps there is also something 
more personal and selfish in this process, for vanity 
often lingers even in the wreck of our existence. Thus 
an old man tottering to the grave, not unfrequently 
boasts of the feats he performed in his youth ; and 
the aged dame gray, wrinkled, and paralytic pa 
rades the charms of her maidenhood. A vain conceit, 
a swelling self-appreciation, often mingle themselves 
unconsciously in our thoughts, and as we cannot boast 
of the present, which -is sliding from us, we find relict 
and satisfaction in glorifying the past, which we still 
claim as our own. And again, in age, we are no 
doubt liable to self-deception, from looking backward 
over an extended view, and taking the things which 
rise up like monuments above all around them, as 
the representatives of their day and generation, while 
in fact they are only their exceptions and marvels. 

At all events, there is an impression, I think, that 
the great men of the past century in New England 
have not their representatives in the present genera 
tion, especially in personal appearance and character ; 
yet it is probable that our race is not really degener 
ated either in its physical or moral standard. There 
was something stately, no doubt, in the costume of 
the olden time : there was also a corresponding air 
of starchness in the carriage. A cocked hat and 



HISTORICAL, AXECDOTICAL, ETC. 221 

powdered wig made it necessary for a man to demean 
himself warily, like an Italian porter who carries a 
tub of water upon his head. Thus guised, even 
little Dr. Marsh,* of Wethersfield, whom I remember 
in his antique costume, was quite a portly gentleman. 
The long powdered queues, the small-clothes and 
knee-buckles, the white-top boots and silk stockings, 
with the majestic tread of a Humphries, a Daggett, 
or a Dana who flourished forty or fifty years ago 
in the high places of Connecticut no doubt made 
these leaders of society look like the born lords of cre 
ation. In comparison, the simple short-cropped, pan. 
talooned gentlemen, who now fill the same, or similar 

stations the T 's, E 's, and S . . . .'s may 

seem a degenerate race. Yet if you subject these to 
any positive test though it must be admitted that 
manners have lost something of their polish and much 

* Rev. John Marsh, D.D., of Wethersfield, was the last of the Connecti 
cut clergy to give up the wig. I have often seen him in it, though he left 
it off a short time before his death. Once, when he was on a journey, he 
stopped overnight at a tavern. On going to bed, he took off his wig 
and hung it up. A servant maid happened to see it, and ran down in 
preat terror to her mistress, saying, " Ma'am, that minister has took off 
his head and hung it up on a nail !" 

For many years he was accustomed to mount his old chaise and set 
off with Mrs. Marsh to attend the annual commencement at Cambridge 
College. Everybody knew him along the road, and bowing, as he pass 
ed, said, " How d'ye do, Dr. Marsh ?" At last he dismissed his wig; 
but now, as he went along, nobody recognized him. It was evident that 
his wig was necessary to insure the accustomed and grateful salute : so, 
on his journeys to commencement ever after, he put it on, though ha 
discarded it at other times. He died A. D. 1820, aged 79. 

Dr. Marsh was a man of great learning and politeness and high re 
spectability. The Rev. John Marsh, now of New York, the distinguished 
advocate of the cause of temperance, is his son. 



222 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

of their dignity they will doubtless be found to be 
about as tall and as talented, and perhaps as virtuous 
as their predecessors. At the same time, I suspect it 
will be also discovered that the great mass of society 
is elevated in many things above the corresponding 
portions of the community in the early days of which 
I speak. 

But be this as it may, there is no doubt that Dea 
con Olmstead was in all things a noble specimen of 
humanity an honor to human nature a shining 
light in the Church. I have spoken of him as hav 
ing something grand about him, yet I remember how 
kindly he condescended to take me, a child, on his 
knee, and how gently his great brawny fingers en 
circled my infant hand. I have said he was wise ; 
yet his book learning was small, though it might 
have been as great as that of Abraham, or Isaac, or 
Jacob. He knew indeed the Bible by heart, and that 
is a great teacher. He had also lived long, and prof 
ited by observation and experience. Above all, he 
was calm, just, sincere, and it is wonderful how these 
lamps light up the path of life. I have said he was 
proud, yet it was only toward the seductions of the 
world : to these he was hard and stern : to his God, 
he was simple, obedient, and docile as a child : toward 
his kindred and his neighbor, toward the poor, to 
ward the suffering though not so soft he was sym 
pathetic as a sister of charity. 

Some men seem to imagine that the heart should 







DEACON OLMSTEAD. Vol. 1, p. 222. 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTICAI,, ETC. 223 

grow alien to man as it draws nigh to God ; that piety, 
burning brightly, dims, if it does not extinguish, the 
lamp of love and friendship and social impulses. They 
look upon religion as the serpent of Moses, and human 
affections as the snakes of the Egyptian priests, and in 
their view the former should destroy and devour the 
latter. It was not so with this noble old man. His 
Christianity did not take from the stature of his hu 
manity. It was, indeed, as a Christian that his character 
was most distinctly marked ; yet he was no ascetic, for 
he enjoyed life and its comforts: he did not disdain 
its wealth he toiled for it and obtained it. He lived 
as a man, a father, a member of society a large 
and generous life, for he had a large and generous 
nature. Had this been all, he would still have 
passed to his grave beloved and honored ; but there 
was much more, His religion was large, grand, im 
posing, like his person. He believed with such a 
clear, manly faith, that as he walked abroad, you 
felt that God and eternity were realities to him and 
by irresistible influence, they became realities to you 
like the sun and the earth. When you heard him 
pray as I have often done you knew that God was 
there. How sublime is such a man living such a life, 
even though he was but a simple country farmer ! 

I must now present a somewhat different portrait 
that of Deacon John Benedict. He was a worthy old 
man, and enjoyed many claims to respect. He was not 
only a deacon, but a justice of the peace; moreover, 



^1 J 1 LKTTKKS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

he was the Father of Aunt Delight of whom 1 de 
sire ever to speak with reverence. She, not being a 
beauty, was never married, and hence, having no 
children of her own, she combed and crammed the 
heads of other people's children. In this way she 
was eminently useful in her day and generation. The 
Deacon respected the law, especially as it was admin 
istered in his own person. He was severe upon those 
who violated the statutes of the State, but one who 
violated the statutes of Deacon John Benedict com 
mitted the unpardonable sin. He was the entire po 
lice of the meeting-house on Sunday, and not a boy 
or girl, or even a bumblebee, could offend, without 
3ondign punishment. 

Nevertheless, the Deacon is said in one case 7-nther 
before my time to have met his match. There was in 
the village a small, smart, nervous woman, with a vig 
orous clack, which, once set going, was hard to stop. 
One day she was at church, and having carried her din 
ner of mince-pie in a little cross-handled basket, she sot 
it down under the seat. In the midst of sermon-time, 
a small dog came into the pew, and getting behind 
her petticoats, began to devour the pie. She heard 
what was going on, and gave him a kick. Upon this 
the dog backed out with a yelp, but bringing the din 
ner basket hung across his neck, with him. Back, back 
he went, tail first, across the pew into the broad aisle. 

" Oh dear !" said the woman, in a shrill voice 
"the dog's got my dinner! There! I've spoken loud 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 225 

in meeting-time ! What will Deacon Benedict say ? 
"Why ! I'm talking all the time. There it goes agin. 
What shall I du?" 

" Hold your tongue !" said the Deacon, who was 
in his official seat, fronting the explosion. These 
words operated like a charm, and the nervous lady 
was silent. The next day Deacon John appeared at 
the house of the offender, carrying a calf-bound vol 
ume in his hand. The woman gave one glance at the 
book, and one at the Deacon. That was enough : 
it spoke volumes, and the man of the law returned 
home, and never mentioned the subject afterward. 
This is the whole of the story as it was reported to 
me in my youth. 

Deacon Hawley was very unlike either of his two 
associates whom I have described. He was younger, 
and of a peculiarly mild and amiable temper. His 
countenance wore a tranquil and smooth expression. 
His hair was fine and silky, and lay, as if oiled, 
close to his head. He had a soft voice, and an ear 
for music. He was a cabinet-maker by trade, a chor 
ister by choice, a deacon by the vote of the church* a 
Christian by the grace of God. In each of these 
things he found his place, as if designed for it by na 
ture and Providence. 

How easily did life flow on for him ! How differ 
ent was its peaceful current, from the battle waged 
by Granther Baldwin whom I shall soon describe 
from the beginning, and ceasing only when death put 
10* 



LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

his cold finger on the heart and silenced it forever. 
Oh nature ! thou art a powerful divinity, sometimes 
moulding the heart in love and charity, and some 
times as if in bitterness and spite. Let those who 
become the j udges of man here below, make due al 
lowance for these things, as no doubt the Judge 
hereafter will consider them in adjusting each man's 
account. 

In worldly affairs as well as spiritual, Deacon 
Hawley's path was straight and even : he was success 
ful in business, beloved in society, honored in the 
church. Exceedingly frugal by habit and disposition, 
he still loved to give in charity, though he told not 
the world of it. When he was old, his family being 
well provided for, he spent much of his time in cast 
ing about to find opportunities of doing good. Once 
he learned that a widow, who had been in good cir 
cumstances, was struggling with poverty. He was 
afraid to offer money as charity, for fear of wound 
ing her pride the more sensitive, perhaps, because 
of her change of condition. He therefore intimated 
that he owed a debt of fifty dollars to her late hus 
band, and wished to pay it to her. 

"And how was that?" said the lady, somewhat 
startled. 

" I will tell you," said the Deacon. " About five 
and twenty years ago, soon after you were married, 
I made some furniture for your husband to the 
amount of two hundred dollars. I have been look- 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTIOAI., KTC. 22* 

ing over the account, and find that I rather over 
charged him, in the price of some chairs ; that is, I 
could have afforded them at somewhat less. I have 
added up the interest, and here, madam, is the 
money." 

The widow listened, and, as she suspected the 
truth, the tears came to her eyes. The Deacon com 
prehended all in an instant : he did not pause to 
reply, but laid the money on the table and departed. 

Another trait of this good man was his patriotism. 
The prosperity of the country seemed always to be 
in his heart a source of gratification to himself and 
a cause of thanksgiving to God. His conversation, 
his prayers, were full of these sentiments. Though 
of moderate intellectual gifts, his temper was so even, 
his desires so just, that his judgment was almost in 
fallible ; and hence he exercised a large, though 
quiet and unseen influence upon other men. It is 
strange, in this world, to see a man who always and 
under all circumstances, seems to have as his master 
motive the wish to do just right. Yet such a man 
was Deacon Hawley.* 

I know not how it is, but the term deacon is asso 
ciated in many minds with a certain littleness, and 
especially a sort of affectation, a cant in conversation, 
an I-am-holier-than-thou air and manner. I remem 
ber Deacon C . . . . of H . . . ., who deemed it proper 

* See note I. p. MO. 



2l'S LETTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

to become scriptural, and to talk as much as possible 
like Isaiah. He was in partnership with his son La 
ertes, and they sold crockery and furniture. One day 
a female customer came, and the old gentleman being 
engaged, went to call his son, who was in the loft 
above. Placing himself at the foot of the stairs, he 
said, attuning his voice to the occasion, "La-ar-tes, 
descend a lady waits !" Deacon C . . . . sought to 
signalize himself by a special respect to the wa.ys of 
Providence : so he refused to get insurance against fire, 
declaring that if the Lord wished to burn down his 
house or his barn, he should submit without a mur 
mur. He pretended to consider thunder and light 
ning and conflagrations as special acts of the Al 
mighty, and it was distrusting Providence to attempt 
to avert their effects. Deacon Hawley had none of 
these follies or frailties. Though a deacon, he was still 
a man ; though aspiring to heaven, he lived cheerily 
on earth ; though a Christian, he was a father, a 
neighbor, and, according to his rank in life, a gentle 
man, having in all things the feelings and manners 
appropriate to each of these relations. 

This good man is not living: he died not many 
years since at the age of ninety-one, enjoying to the 
last good health, and that tranquillity of mind and 
body sometimes vouchsafed to the aged after the heat 
and burden of active life. I look back upon his mem 
ory as a strip of sunshine bursting from the clouds, 
and falling upon the landscape of life, to make us feel 



HISTOEICAL, ANECDOTICAL, KTC. 229 

that there is light in the world, and that every man 
even those of humble capacity and humble position 
may possess it, use it, glorify and disseminate it. Such 
a life indeed tends to rob existence of its bitterness, 
and to give dignity to man and glory to God ! 



LETTER XVII. 

'fhe Federalist and the Democrat Colonel Bradley and General Sing 
Comparison of New England with European Villages. 

MY DEA.B C****** 

From the ecclesiastic notabilities of Eidgefield I 
turn for a moment to the secular. And first, Colonel 
Bradley claims my notice, for he was the leading cit 
izen of the place, in station, wealth, education, and 
power of intellect. He was a tall, gaunt, sallow man, 
a little bent at the period of my recollection, for he 
was then well stricken in years. He lived in a two- 
story white house, at the upper end of the main street, 
and on the western side. This was of ample dimen 
sions, and had a grave, antique air, the effect of which 
was enhanced by a row of wide-arching elms, lining the 
street. It stood on a slight elevation, and somewhat 
withdrawn from the road ; the fence in front was 
high and close ; the doors and windows were always 
shut, even in summer. I know not why, but this 



230 LKTTERS BIOOEAPHICAL, 

place had a sort of awfulness about it : it seemed to 
have a spirit and a voice, which whispered to the 
passer-by, " Go thy way : this is the abode of one 
above and beyond thee 1" 

In order to comprehend the impression likely to be 
made by such a sombre tenement, you must remember 
the general aspect of our country villages at that time, 
and indeed at the present time. Each house was 
built near the street, with a yard in front and a gat- 
den beside it. The fences were low, and of light, 
open pickets or slats, made to exclude cattle, pigs, 
and geese, which then had the freedom of the place. 
There was a cheerful, confiding, wide, open look all 
around. Everybody peeped from the windows into 
everybody's grounds. The proprietor was evidently 
content to be under your eye ; nay, as you passed 
along, his beets and carrots in long beds ; his roses 
and peonies bordering the central walk ; the pears 
and peaches and plums swinging from the trees, all 
seemed to invite your observation. The barn, having 
its vast double doors in front, and generally thrown 
open, presented its interior to your view, with all its 
gathered treasures of hay, oats, rye, and flax. Near 
by, but yet apart, stood the crib for the Indian corn, 
showing its laughing, yellow ears between the slats, 
designed to give circulation to the air. 

There was in all this a liberty and equality which 
belonged to the age. These had their foundation, 
partly at least, in two sources a love of an open, 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTICAL, ETC. 231 

unobstructed view, and a sort of communal famil 
iarity in the intercourse of society. The first settlers 
of the country found it covered with forests, which, 
while they sheltered the lurking Indian, the poach 
ing wolf, and the prowling bear, also obstructed 
cultivation. Trees were then the great enemy, and 
to exterminate them was the first great battle of 
life. In those days men became tree-haters. The 
shadow of the wood was associated with dearth and 
danger the open space with plenty and peace. It 
was not till long after, when the burning sun of our 
summers had taught the luxury of shade, that the 
people of New England discovered their mistake, and 
began to decorate their streets and pleasure-grounds 
with trees. 

In these, the primeval days of our history, men 
gathered in the village were mutual protectors one 
of the other ; there was a bond of sympathy between 
them, founded in necessity, and this led to confidence, 
and confidence to familiarity. Equality of intercourse, 
with a general equality of feeling, were the results. 
And besides, wealth had not accumulated in the hands 
of particular individuals or in society generally. The 
habits therefore were simple, and the tastes of the 
people demanded little beyond the means and usages 
of mere comfort. The love of embellishment gradu 
ally crept over society, but at the period of which I 
speak, it had not, in Eidgefield and other villages in Con 
necticut, orone bevond the elements I have described. 



232 T.I.TTKKS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

The American who travels in foreign countries 
marked with the vestiges of feudal times, and the con 
sequent division of society -into castes, will be forcibly 
struck with the contrast which these things present 
to a New England -village. As you pass through 
France, or Italy, or Germany, or Spain, you will find 
the houses and grounds inclosed by high stone and 
mortar walls, which not only hide them from the 
view of the passer-by, but are a positive defense 
against intrusion. The proprietors bar you out, as if 
they not only feared your entrance, but suspected you 
of having the evil eye, and you must not therefore 
look upon them or their possessions. The walls are 
generally high and forbidding in proportion to the 
rank of the proprietor : a palace is often a veritable 
castle, with its moat, bastions, portcullis, and warder ; 
and all this is imitated, as far as may be, from the 
chateau down to the bare and desolate tenement of 
John Smith and Tom Jones. The doors or gates of 
the rich are of massive bronze or ponderous oak, and 
fastened with formidable locks. You can only enter 
by permission, and under the eye of a porter, who 
scrutinizes you closely. This is true not only of 
Paris, but of all the neighboring towns, great and 
small. It is the same throughout the French empire. 
Even in the villages, which consist of a crowded 
mass of tenements, like the mean suburbs of a city, 
every house is a prison, built of stone and mortar, 
and not merely denying entrance, but shutting out, 






HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAI.. KTC. 

as far as possible, the chance surveillance of neigh 
bors and travelers. This is the system throughout 
the continent. I have often felt almost suffocated 
in walking and riding in the environs of Florence 
and Rome, and other European cities, on finding 
myself confined in a narrow lane, some twelve or 
fifteen feet wide, with walls so high on either side 
as to render it impossible to look over them. This 
is not only true within the cities, and their immediate 
precincts, but often for miles around ; even the fields 
and farms are frequently thus inclosed, indicating not 
only fear of intrusion or violence, but a repugnance 
to mere supervision. 

This system of making every house a castle not 
sacred by the law, as in our country, but by stone and 
mortar had its origin in the violence of feudal times, 
when might was right. It is a system begun by the 
kings, imitated by the barons, and perpetuated in so 
ciety by the emulous vanity of snobs and underlings. 
At first a necessity, it came at last to be a fashion. At 
present it is little more, even where it is general or 
universal. Its chief use now is to defend not wealth 
or tangible property but the fanciful interests of 
rank. A prince, a duke, a count, must not become 
familiar to common men. His heart must be packed 
in ice, so as to silence every large and philanthropic 
pulsation. He must associate only with his peers. 
He must exclude the vulgar ; he must live aloof, 
enshrined in high walls and gates of oak and brase, 



234 I.KTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

There must be in the very aspect of his dwelling a 
standing proclamation of his touch-me-not exaltation. 
In all things his life and manners must conform to the 
dignity of his house and his home. He has better 
blood than other men, and this would be contamina 
ted by contact with common humanity. The rich 
bankers, Messrs. Shin and Shave, must imitate this 
high, titled example ; they must be exclusive, at least 
to all beneath them. Messrs. Grog and Prog, the 
wealthy grocers, must follow suit according to their 
kind. 

This brick-and-mortar exclusiveness answers an 
other purpose : it seems to sustain the theory that the 
interior of the continental home is inviolable. Accord 
ing to this, the proprietor lays out his grounds as he 
pleases: he sleeps, eats, drinks, dresses, talks, walks, 
and amuses himself according to his fancy. He does 
not consult his neighbors upon any of these things. 
He is lord of all he surveys ; not only his walls, but the 
current ideas of society insure him a complete domestic 
and social independence. So long as he does not med 
dle with politics or the police, he sits under his own 
vine and fig-tree, with none to make him afraid. He 
has no apprehension that some eavesdropping ear, or 
burglarious gaze, is waiting and watching, and will 
show him up to-morrow in a Two Penny Tale Teller. 

This is the state of things, as it appears to the su 
perficial observer, and hence it is that European con 
tinental life has great fascinations for some of our 



HISTORICAL. ANFCPOTICAT., FTC. 235 

American exclusives. They think it delightful to 
live enshrined in high walls, and to do as they please. 
But let us reflect and count the cost. Is this seeming 
social independence real, permanent, reliable ? In 
point of fact nothing is more hollow and false. Life, 
liberty, property, are placed between two monsters, 
either of which may at any moment rise up and de 
vour you. The government, to which you look for 
protection, is a despot, and full of eyes staring with 
suspicion. Though it may seem to smile on you, 
yet it has your dossier that is, your life, opinions, 
tastes, character even the secrets of your house aad 
your home written in its note-book. The police 
that surrounds you, and seems to protect you, may 
at any moment denounce and destroy you. It is by 
privilege, and not by right, that you live, breathe, 
and have a being. On the other hand, the people, 
whom you bar out and defy their time may come, 
and as you have treated them with scorn, they are 
likely to repay you with vengeance. 

Is not our American system of mutual confidence 
and mutual support, infinitely better than this ? It 
involves sacrifices, no doubt. Impertinence, gossip, 
scandal, will thrive in a state of social equality and 
mutual dependence, but real dignity and true virtue 
will not seriously suffer. The false semblance, the 
hollow affectation of these, may be stung, but it will 
generally be to good and wholesome purpose. And 
even if there be evils, we shall learn to cure them in 



I.KTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL. 

time. We are a young country, and are trying various 
experiments. We can not expect to leap into the mil 
lennium at once. It has taken Europe modern Eu 
rope more than a thousand years to learn its lessons 
in philosophy, art, and manners. All things consid 
ered, we are as far advanced as they, and that, too, 
after less than a century of experience. What may 
we not hope in the future, and at no distant day ? 
Let us, then, be of good cheer ! 

But to return. Certainly nothing can be more 
strongly in contrast with our frank, confiding, wide- 
open New England village than this suspicious, sys 
tematic, radical exclusiveness in Continental Europe. 
Impressed with an early love of the simplicity and 
equality of our country towns, I have never been 
able to conquer the disgust with which I have looked 
upon the walled houses and walled towns of Europe. 
They seem to me anti-social, unchristian, not merely 
bespeaking their barbarous origin, but perpetuating 
the seeds of violence and schism in the bosom of 
society, which will ere long be sown on the wind 
to produce the harvest of the whirlwind. If this 
system and these ideas must be endured in monarch 
ical regions, they should not be introduced into this 
country. I am happy to add that they are imitated 
by few, and with even these, they are worn as gar 
ments that sit ill upon them, and consequently pro 
voke ridicule rather than respect. An American ex 
clusive is about as much an incongruity in our society 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, L"1C. 237 

as an American duke. He is generally without real 
power, and those he attempts to influence are apt to 
go in the opposite direction from that which he points 
out. 

I beg pardon for this wide digression, which, how 
ever, is not without a purpose. Col. Bradley was an 
exclusive. His cold, distant manner bespoke it. He 
was, I believe, an honorable man. He was a mem 
ber of the church ; he was steady in his worship, and 
never missed the sacrament. He was a man of edu 
cation, and held high offices. His commission as 
colonel was signed by John Jay, president of the 
Continental Congress, and his office of Marshal of the 
District of Connecticut was signed by Washington. 
His commission as judge* of the County Court was 
signed by the governor of the State. He was, as I 
have said, the most distinguished citizen of the place, 
and naturally enough imagined that such a position 
carried with it, not the shadow, but the substance of 
power. He seldom took an open part in the affairs 
of the town, but when he did, he felt that his word 
should be law. He deemed even a nod of his head 
to be imperative ; people were bound to consult his 
very looks, and scenting his trail, should follow in 
his footsteps. Like most proud men of despotic tem 
per, he sometimes condescended to bring about his 
ends by puppets and wire pullers. Affecting to dis- 

* See note I. p. 522. 



238 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

dain all meddling, he really contrived openly or co 
vertly to govern the church and the town. When 
parties in politics arose, he was of course 'a federalist ; 
though ostentatiously standing aloof from the tarnish 
of caucuses, he still managed to fill most of the of 
fices by hi seen or unseen dictation. 

Such a man could little appreciate the real spirit 
of democracy, now rising, like a spring-tide, over 
Connecticut. Believing in the " Good old way," 
he sincerely felt that innovation was synonymous 
with ruin. Thinking all virtue and all wisdom to 
be centered in the few, he believed all folly and mis 
chief to be in the many. The passage of power from 
the former to the latter, he regarded with unaffected 
horror. The sanctity of the church, the stability of 
the law, the sacredness of home, life, and property, 
all seemed to him put at hazard if committed to the 
rabble, or what to him was equivalent, that dreaded 
thing democracy. 

He was certainly a man of ability, well read in 
history, and of superior mental gifts. He saw the 
coming storm, which soon lowered and thundered in 
the sky ; but he neither comprehended its force, nor 
the best manner of combating it. He had not those 
sensitive feelers the gift of such born democrats as 
Jefferson and Yan Buren which wind their invisible 
and subtle threads among the masses, and bring home 
to the shrewd sensorium an account of every trem 
bling emotion in the breast of the million. In fact 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, KTC. '230 

so far as the mass, the people were concerned, hf was 
a profound owl, seeing deeply into the nothingness of 
night, but stark blind in the open day of real and 
pressing action. In wielding power, put into his 
hands by authority, he was a strong man : in acqui 
ring it at the hands of democracy, he was a child. 

I can not better illustrate his character and the 
humor of his day and generation than by depicting 
one of our town meetings of this era. This was of 
course held in my father's church, according to cus 
tom. At an early hour Col. Bradley was there, for 
he was punctual in all things. He sat apart in a pew 
with about half a dozen other men, the magnates of 
the town. In other pews near by, sat still others, 
all stanch respectabilities. These were the leading 
federalists persons of high character, wealth, and 
influence. They spoke a few words to each other, 
and then relapsed into a sort of dignified silence. 
They did not mingle with the mass : they might 
be suspected of electioneering of seeking to exer 
cise an influence over the minds of the people. That 
was too degrading for them : it might do for Genera] 
King, and the other democrats who could conde 
scend to such things. These circulated freely in the 
aisles, giving the warm right-hand of fellowship to 
all they met, especially the rabble. Nevertheless, the 
federalists had privately determined a few days before 
on whom they would cast their votes, and being a 
majority, they carried the day. 



210 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

Thus it went on for a time. But gradually, and 
year by year, the leaven of democracy affected more 
and more the general mass. Federalism held itself 
haughtily aloof from the lower classes, while democ 
racy tendered to them the gratifying signals of fra 
ternity. Federalism really and sincerely distrusted 
the capacity of the people to govern themselves, ex 
cept through the guidance and authority of the supe 
rior classes ; democracy believed, or pretended to 
believe, in the people, and its works were according 
to its real or seeming faith. There were questions 
at issue between the parties, which involved these op 
posite and diverging principles. Shall government be 
a republic, having an oligarchical bias, and commit 
ting power to the hands of the few ; or shall it be a 
democracy, living and breathing and having its being 
from the constant inspirations of the whole people ? 
Shall suffrage be limited or universal ? Shall there 
be perfect religious toleration? Shall there be no 
preference in regard to sects ? These were the actual, 
pending questions in Connecticut. With such issues, 
the parties were not only highly excited, but there 
was a depth of sincerity which gave a certain dignity 
even to party strife. 

However old-fashioned it may seem, I still IOOK 
back upon those stiff federalists, sitting in their 
pews like so many judges in Israel rigid in their 
principles, hard, but honest in their opinions with 
a certain degree of respect. Perhaps, too, they 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 241 

were not altogether wrong, though the battle has 
gone against them. If, at the outset of our govern 
ment, which was launched at the very period when 
the French Revolution was agitating the world with 
its turbulent waves, the suffrage had been universal, 
probably we should have gone to destruction Fed 
eralism, no doubt, locked the wheels of the car of 
state, and thus stayed and regulated its progress, till 
the steep was passed, and we were upon the safe and 
level plain. Theoretically wrong, according to pres 
ent ideas, federalism was useful and necessary in its 
day. It is to be regretted that its spirit of patriotism 
is not imitated by all modern partisans. 

Col. Bradley, whom I have described as the head 
of the federal party in Bidgefield, was pretty nearly a 
type of his kind in those days. There was perhaps 
a shade of Jesuitism about him, a love of unseen in 
fluences, the exercise of invisible power, which was 
personal and not a necessary part of his principles. 
I perfectly recollect his appearance at church, and the 
impression he made upon me. He was bald, and 
wore a black silk cap, drawn down close over his 
eyes. These were like jet, not twinkling, but steady 
and intense, appearing very awful from the dark cav 
erns in which they were set. I hardly dared to look 
at him, and if perchance his slow but searching gaze 
fell upon me, I started as if something had wounded 
me. At long intervals he came to our house, and 
though he was of course a supporter of my father. 

VOL. L 11 



242 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

being a member of the church, I had the impression 
that everybody breathed thick and anxiously while 
he was there, and felt relieved when he went away. 
It is now many years since he passed to his tomb, 
yet his appearance and general character are still 
fresh in my memory. He was not loved, but on the 
whole, his life was beneficial to the community in 
which he lived. He had high gifts and large oppor 
tunities : if he did not do all the good he might, it 
was certainly rather through the influence of original, 
constitutional defects, than willing and chosen obli 
quity of conduct. 

It is not possible to conceive of two persons more 
unlike than the one I have just sketched and General 
King. The former was tall, thin, dark ; the latter 
was of middle height, stout, erect, and florid. The 
first was highly educated, meditative, secret, deep, 
cold, circumspect ; the latter was unschooled, yet 
intelligent ; frank, though perhaps superficial ; impe 
rious, yet fearless and confiding. Col. Bradley was 
a federalist ; Gen. King a democrat. These two, in 
deed, were the leaders of the two great political par 
ties in Ridgefield. 

If we could dive into the heart of man, and dis 
cern the reasons why one takes this . ^.urse and an 
other that ; why one is of this sect . a religion, or 
that party in politics, I imagine we should make 
some curious discoveries. In certain cases the springs 
of these actions are open : one is obviously deter- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 243 

mined in his choice by education ; another manifestly 
derives a proclivity from family influences ; another 
is governed by his social position ; but in other cases, 
we are left to guess at motives, and these often seem 
so personal and selfish as to reflect little honor upon 
human nature. As to professed politicians, I think 
mankind generally, without being suspected of cyni 
cism, regard them as choosing their party on the same 
principles that they would choose a horse in both 
cases selecting that which they can best mount and 
ride. They look upon the good public as so many 
donkeys, made to be used for hobbies and then con 
temptuously dismissed. We see men act thus openly 
and shamelessly every day of our lives, and strange 
to say, it is not punished, however scandalous it may 
appear. Nay, so far as we can judge, the people 
rather like it. 

In still other instances the causes which determine 
the political conduct of men are more latent, though 
not the less selfish and personal. We are very apt to 
see according to our point of view. The fable of the 
pigeon's neck, which reflects red on one side and pur 
ple on the other, and hence leads two persons in op 
posite positions into a dispute as to the actual color 
of the bird, is instructive. One man, in an elevated 
condition in life, and having large possessions, natu 
rally inclines to magnify the importance of authority, 
and the respect due to property. Thus, he becomes 
a federalist or a conservative. Another, destitute of 



244 LKTTKKS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

all but his head and hands, presses the claims of 
labor, and exalts the rights of man. He becomes a 
democrat. In these instances, persons actually con 
trolled by a regard to their several positions, through 
the seductions and delusions of the human heart, 
generally consider themselves as actuated by an ex 
clusive regard to patriotism and principle. I am 
afraid that we can find few instances at least in the 
arena of politics in which the heart of man rises 
above this fountain-head of selfishness. 

The cases in which the manufacturer sustains pro 
tection and the ship-owner free-trade, the south 
ern man the interests of slave labor, and the north 
ern man the interests of free labor, are similar ex 
amples of selfishness, though somewhat more gross. 
It might seem, then, that the ballot-box the 
great depository of the public will, and the source 
of public action and power in a republican govern 
ment must be a mass of corruption ; that if the ma 
jority of votes are leavened with selfishness, the ag 
gregated millions cast at the polls must be an offense 
in the sight of God. Yet in truth it is not so. The 
whole result is really a very intelligent index to the 
actual wants of the country. Suppose every man 
has voted selfishly, the accumulated suffrage shows 
where the weight of opinion lies as to the entire in 
terests of the people. And even when we consider 
the juggles of politicians who make loud professions, 
only to obtain office, we know that for the most part, 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 245 

when they have attained it, the government goes on 
nearly the same, whoever may administer it. Thus, 
on the whole, the ballot-box develops and represents 
a balance of good sense in the nation that outweighs 
even the multitudinous vices, follies, and foibles of 
individuals. 

If I were to be asked what made Gen. King a dem 
ocrat, I should be at a loss to answer. He was fond 
of authority : his whole presence and manner bespoke 
it. His carriage was erect, his head set back, his 
chest protruded. His hair was stiff and bristling, 
and being long on the top, was combed back in the 
manner of Gen. Jackson's. Like him he had a deci 
dedly military air and character. He was, no doubt, 
a very good man on the whole, but I imagine he was 
not imbued with any special sympathy for the masses, 
or the rights of man. I have pretty good reason to 
believe that his natural disposition was dictatorial 
despotic. It is related that one day he came into the 
field where his men were haying. A thunder-storm 
was approaching, and he commanded the laborers in 
a tone of authority to do this and that, thus requiring 
in fact what was impossible. Jaklin, an old negro, 
noted for his dry wit, being present, said in an under 
tone 

" I'm thankful the Lord reigns." 

" Why so ?" said a bystander. 

" Because," was the reply, " if the Lord didn't 
reign, the Gineral would !" 



246 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

Why, then, was he a democrat? Was it because 
Col. Bradley and himself were rivals in trade, rivals 
in wealth, rivals in position ? Was it that by a nat 
ural proclivity, derived from this relation, he became 
an opponent of one who stood in his way, and thus 
became a democrat ? Who will venture to solve such 
questions as these ? 

I pray you not to consider me as saying any thing 
invidious of Gen. King. He was really a man to be 
respected, perhaps loved, even though he was not of 
great intellect, or morally cast in the mould of per 
fection. He had plain practical sense, perfect sincer 
ity, high moral courage, an open, cheerful, frank 
manner. Be it understood that I speak from my 
childish recollections. Such is the impression he 
made upon me. Erect, martial, authoritative as he 
was. I still liked him, for to me he was kind, al 
ways asked about our family, and was particularly 
unlike that cold, silent, dark-browed Col. Bradley. 
His whole person bespoke manliness. No one look 
ing on him would suspect him of meanness, in 
thought, word, or deed. He was eminently success 
ful in business, and his wealth, at length, outstripped 
that of his great rival. His party also triumphed, 
and he became the first man of the place in position 
and influence. 

If thus fortunate in these respects, he was even 
more so in his family. He had ten children four 
sons and six daughters: all reached maturitv, and 



HISTORICAL. ANKCDOTICAL, ETC. 247 

constituted one of the comeliest groups I have ever 
known. The girls all married, save one: three of the 
sons among the handsome men of their time pro 
fessed bachelorism : a proof of what all shrewd ob 
servers know, that handsome men, spontaneously 
enjoying the smiles of the sex, feel no need of resign 
ing their liberty, while ugly men are forced to capitu 
late on bended knees, and accept the severe condi 
tions of matrimony, as the only happy issue out of 
their solitude. One only, Eufus H. King, of Al 
bany, whom I have already mentioned, took upon 
himself the honors of wedlock. All these persons 
possessed that happy balance of good sense, good 
feelings, good looks, and good manners, which in 
sures success and respectability in life. Is not such 
a family history worthy of being recorded in this 
booK of the chronicles of Ridgefield ? 



248 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 



LETTER XVIII. 

The Ingertotts Rer>. Jonathan Ingersoll Lieutenant-governor IngersoU 
New Haven Bellas A chivalrous Virginian among the Connecticut D.DSs 
Grace IngersoU A New Haven Girl at Napoleon's Court Real Ro 
mance A Puritan in a Convent. 

MY DEAR C ****** 

General King's house stood on the northern slope 
of a small swell of ground, midway between the two 
extremities of the main street, and on the western side. 
It was a rather large two-story edifice, always neatly 
kept, and glowing in fresh white paint. "Wealth and 
respectability in the full tide of successful experiment, 
were as readable in its appearance as if it had been 
so written in front, like the designation of a railway 
station. 

Contiguous to this fresh and flourishing mansion, 
on the southern side, was a brown, gable-roofed house, 
with two venerable, but still green and flourishing 
button-wood trees in front. The building was mark 
ed with age, the surface of its clapboards, unprotected 
by paint, being softened and spongy through the in 
fluence of the seasons. The roof was of a yellowish- 
green tint, imparted by a gathering film of moss. The 
windows were contracted, and the casing, thin and 
plain, bespoke the architecture of our day of small 
things. All aroxmd was rather bare, and 'the little 






HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, KTC. 

recess in front, open and un inclosed, was at once 
shaven close and desecrated by a flock of geese that 
every night made it their camp-ground. Nevertheless, 
there was a certain dignity about the button-wood 
trees in front, and the old brown house in the rear, 
that excited respect and curiosity in the beholder. 
There was indeed some reason, for this was the home 
of the Ingersolls. 

The Rev. Jonathan Ingersoll* was my father's im 
mediate predecessor, as minister of the First Congre 
gational Church in Ridgefield. Though he has been 
dead three fourths of a century, tradition still cher 
ishes his memory as an able preacher, a devoted pas 
tor, and a most amiable man. In my boyhood he 
had long since passed away, but his widow still lin 
gered in the old brown house I have described. She 
was every way a superior woman wise, good, lov 
ing, and beloved. Her husband's mantle descended 
upon her shoulders, and she wore it worthily before 
the world and the Church. By the latter she was 
cherished as a guardian saint. She was always my 
father's friend, and in the critical and difficult pas 
sages which are sure to arise between a pastor and 
his people, she was the ready and efficient peacemaker. 
I remember her, though faintly and as a dream, yet 
one in which I saw a pale, gray, saintly old lady, 
almost too good for this wicked world. 



* See note I., p. 516. 
11* 



2T)0 LKTTER8 BIOGliA PlilCAI,, 

Mr. Ingersoll had a large family, all of whom were 
of mature age at the period of my childhood. The 
youngest daughter was wife of Gen. King, and mother 
of the family I have described. Two of the three sons 
Joseph and Moss were deaf and dumb, and occu 
pied the family mansion : the other son was the late 
Jonathan Ingersoll, of New Haven, distinguished by 
his eminent talents and many virtues. 

Joseph Ingersoll according to my recollection 
v/as a plain, solid, dull-looking man, who passed 
to and fro with rigid directness, never smiling, and 
seeming to take little interest in what was passing 
around him. Though naturally quick-minded, and 
able to express a few ideas by signs, he still seemed 
to shun intercourse with the world, and even with 
his friends and neighbors. He and his brother Moss 
carried on the farm. He rose every day at the 
same hour ; took his meals and retired to bed. with 
the precision of a chronometer. You might safely 
liavc set your clock by him. At a particular time 
in the morning he went to the fields, where he labor- 
rd with the steadiness of a mill : at a particular time 
in the afternoon or evening he returned. He re 
volved through the seasons, performing the labors- 
due to each with the same exactitude. Had he been 
u machine, wound up and set each day, he could 
hardly have been more the creature of routine. 

Moss Ingersoll was singularly unlike his brother 
Jcxenh. While the latter remained a bachelor, the 



IlISTOItlt'AL, ANKCDOTlCAr,, KTf. 251 

loriner \vasrnarried, and bad a family of several chil 
dren. He was of a sharp, ready mind, social in his dis 
position, cheerful, witty, and of pleasing personal ap 
pearance and address. His whole face beamed with 
intelligence ; his manners bespoke a certain natural 
refinement, and a quick sensibility to the pleasures of 
social intercourse. It must be remembered that this 
was long prior to the modern art of teaching the deaf 
and dumb ; nevertheless, his father had taken great 
pains with him, and had given him some instruction 
through the use of signs. By means of these, Moss 
conversed to a limited extent with his wife and chil 
dren, and indeed the whole neighborhood. He came 
frequently to our house, and was a great favorite. I 
learned to talk with him a little, and when I met 
him, he always had something interesting to say. 
His signs were descriptive, and displayed a turn for 
humorous associations. Deacon Olmstead was the Big 
Cane ; my father the Bald Pate ; Gen. King the Long 
Sword ; Lieut. Smith the See-Saw, and so on. He 
could write so as to keep accounts, but could not 
read, and it is probable his range of abstract ideas 
was narrow. His ready perceptions, however, gave 
him a large acquaintance with common things. He 
even seemed to comprehend the outlines of Chris 
tianity, and to feel the obligations of conforming to 
its requisitions. How far he reached into the pro- 
founder depths of religion' the mysteries of God 
and eternity, of man and his vast capacities and ama- 



252 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

zing destinies, as unfolded by revelation it is impos 
sible to know. It is related that a deaf and dumb 
man in France grew up to manhood, and seemed to 
have a highly religious tendency and experience. 
He attended the services of the church with steadfast 
assiduity, and wore a devout and penitential air. No 
one doubted his comprehension of the groundwork 
of religion, or the reality of his piety. Afterward, 
by a surgical operation, he recovered his hearing. It 
then appeared that he had never conceived the idea 
of God, a future state, or moral responsibility ! His 
religion was wholly a pantomime. He saw that reli 
gious forms and ceremonies were esteemed, and hence 
he found pleasure in them. He was not a hypocrite, 
nor an automaton, but a simple exemplification of 
that mimetic aptitude which is a part of our nature. 
How large a part of the religion of the world is no 
better than this, it is not for us to say. 

It is probable that Moss Ingersoll had passed be 
yond this state of living death: no doubt he com 
prehended faintly, at least the idea of a God and 
human accountability ; it is even supposed that he 
conceived the triune existence of the Deity. He 
certainly understood something of astronomy, and 
the nature of the heavenly bodies. Knowing so 
much, how must he have yearned to know more ! 
How must his active, earnest mind have struggled 
within its prison, and sought to solve a thousand 
mysteries which haunted^ and perplexed it ! What 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 253 

a world of thought and knowledge would have been 
opened to him by the gift of speech, and yet 
what unfathomed and unfathomable mysteries would 
have remained unsolved, still to haunt and perplex 
him ! Within the narrow circle of his observation 
and experience, he was almost as near the great mys 
teries hid in the bosom of the Almighty, which come 
so often and so anxiously to ask a solution, as the 
profoundest philosopher. I remember once, while 
traveling with Mr. Webster, to have asked him if he 
had been able, in any degree, to penetrate the curtain 
which hangs over the origin of man, of nature, and 
of God. He replied that the plainest mind could see 
just as far in that direction as the most acute : the 
Almighty had shut the door upon these his secrets, 
and it was vain for us to attempt to open it. 

How hard is it to submit to this stern decree ! Be 
hind that awful barrier lie those mighty truths which 
from the beginning have stimulated, yet baffled, hu 
man thought and inquiry. No mind can see them, 
or yet forego them. There is God : there is man's 
history, man's destiny, written in letters of light ! Oh 
that we could behold and read the amazing revela 
tion ! It may not be : the door is closed ; we can not 
force it ! The tyrant Death holds the key : he alone 
has power to open it ; and he at last will open it to 
us all. Till then, patience, hope, submission these 
are our only resources. 

When I left Ridgefield, the two deaf and dumb 



254 LETTERS BIOGRAPHKUC, 

Jngersolls were still living. On my return there, 
some years after, b6th were in their graves. If their 
privileges were less than those of other men, so 
doubtless was their accountability. Perhaps even 
the balance of enjoyment in their lives was not much 
less than it would have been had they possessed their 
full faculties. With increased gifts come increased 
temptations. Men of superior endowments too often 
abuse their privileges, and their lives sink even be 
low the level of ordinary men. Those who are 
born rich often squander their wealth, and thus the 
bankrupt is even more wretched than he who was a 
pauper from the beginning. At all events, I look 
back upon the somewhat mournful story of these two 
men with a cheerful conviction that on earth their 
lives passed tranquilly away, and that hereafter the 
cloud that shaded their minds will be removed iu 
such manner and measure as to compensate for the 
privations they suffered here. 

Jonathan Ingersoll, their brother, was an eminent 
lawyer, and settled at New Haven. Personally, he was 
erect, slender, and very much like his distinguished 
son, the present Ralph I. Ingersoll. He was marked 
by a nervous twitch of the face, which usually signal 
ized itself when he began to address the jury. On these 
occasions his eyes opened and shut spasmodically ; at 
the same time he drew the corners of his mouth up 
and down, the whole seeming as if it was his object to 
set the court in a roar. Sometimes he succeeded, in 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 25 

spite of all his efforts to the contrary. Indeed, it -was 
impossible for a person on seeing this for the first 
time, to avoid a srnile perhaps a broad one. It 
might seem that such a frailty would have been a 
stumbling-block in his profession ; yet it was not so. 
I suspect, indeed, that his practice as a lawyer was 
benefited by it for the world likes an easy handle to 
a great name, and this is readily supplied by a per 
sonal peculiarity. At all events, such was the dignity 
of his character, the grace of his language, and the 
perfection of his logic, his law, and his learning, that 
he stood among the foremost of his profession. He 
became Lieutenant-governor of the State, a judge of 
the Supreme Court, and held various other respon 
sible offices. 

This gentleman had a large family sons and 
daughters : the names of the former are honorably 
recorded in the official annals of their native State 
nay, of the United States. The daughters were 
distinguished for personal attractions and refined ac 
complishments,. One of them claims a special notice 
Grace Ingersoll : how beautiful the name, how sug 
gestive of what she was in mind, in person, in char 
acter ! I saw her once but once, and I was then a 
child yet her image is as distinct as if I had seen 
her yesterday. 

In my boyhood these New Haven Ingersolls came 
to Ridgefield occasionally, especially in summer, to 
visit their relations there. Thev all seemed to rne 



250 I.KTTKE8 BIOGRAPHICAL, 

like superior beings, especially Mrs. Ingersoll, who 
was fair and forty about those days. On a certain 
occasion, Grace, who was a school companion of my 
elder sister's, came to our house. I imagine she did 
not see or notice me. Certainly she did not discover 
in the shy boy in the corner her future biographer. 
She was tall and slender, yet fully rounded, with rich, 
dark hair, and large Spanish eyes now seeming blue 
and now black, and changing with the objects on 
which she looked, or the play of emotions within her 
breast. In complexion she was a brunette, yet with 
a melting glow in her cheek, as if she had stolen 
from the sun the generous hues which are reserved 
for the finest of fruit and flowers. Her beauty was 
in fact so striking at once so superb and so concil 
iating that I was both awed and fascinated by her. 
Wherever she went I followed, though keeping at si 
distance, and never losing sight of her. She spent the 
afternoon at our house, and then departed, and I saw 
her no more. 

It was not long after *his that a Frenchman by the 
name of Grellet, who had come to America on some 
important commercial affairs, chanced to be at New 
York, and there saw Grace Ingersoll. Such beauty 
as that of the New Haven belle is rare in any coun 
try : it is never indigenous in France. Even if such 
could be born there, the imperious force of conven 
tional manners would have stamped itself upon her, 
and made her a fashionable lady, at the expense 






HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTICAL, ETC. 257 

of that Eve-like beauty and simplicity which charac 
terized her. It is not astonishing, then, that the 
stranger accustomed as he was to all the beauty of 
French fashionable life should still have been smit 
ten with this new and startling type of female love 
liness. 

I may remark, in passing, and as pertinent to my 
narrative, that the women of New Haven in these 
bygone days were famous for their beauty. They 
may be so yet, but I have not been there except as 
a railroad passenger for years, and can not estab 
lish the point by my own direct testimony. As to 
the olden time, however, I can verify my statements 
from the evidence of my own eyes, as well as the rec 
ords of long tradition. Among the legends I have 
heard on this subject is one to this effect. There was 
once a certain Major L . . . . a Virginian who I be 
lieve was at one time a member of Congress. He 
was a federalist ; and when I saw him at Washington, 
about the year 1820, he wore a thick queue, and a 
good sprinkling of hair-powder then generally es 
teemed very undemocratic. He was a large and 
handsome man, and at the period of which I speak 
was some fifty years of age. But being a Virgin 
ian, and withal a bachelor, he was still highly chiv 
alrous in his feelings and conduct toward the fair 
sex. 

Now, once upon a time this handsome old bachelor 
paid a visit to New England. Having stayed a while 



258 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

at Boston, lie journeyed homeward till he came to 
New Haven. It chanced to be Commencement-day 
the great jubilee of the city while he was there. 
Having no acquaintances, he set out in the morning 
to go and see the ceremonies. Directed by the cur 
rent of people to the chapel, he went thither, and 
asked for admittance. It was the custom first to re 
ceive the reverend clergy and the ladies, who had 
privileged seats reserved for them the world at large 
being kept out till these were accommodated : a 
fact which shows that our Puritan ancestors, if they 
did not hold women to be divine, placed them on 
the same level as divines. The doorkeeper scanned 
Major L .... as he came up to the place, and observ 
ing him to be a good-looking gentleman in black, 
with a tinge of powder on his coat-collar, set him 
down as a minister of the Gospel, and so let him pass. 
The sexton within took him in charge, and placed 
him in the clerical quarter between two old D. D.'s 
Dr. Perkins, of West Hartford, and Dr. Marsh, of 
Wethersfield, each having the Five Points sticking 
out the one from his gray locks and the other from 
his frizzed wig as plainly as if they had been em 
blazoned on a banner. 

The major, with the conscious ease of his genial 
nature and southern breeding, took his seat and sur 
veyed the scene. His gaze soon fell upon a battery 
of eyes beautiful, yet dangerous that ran along the 
gallery. Unconscious of the sanctity and sain tli ness 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 259 

of his position, he half rose and made a low and gra 
cious bow to the ladies above, as if to challenge their 
whole artillery. Every eye in the house was thus 
drawn toward him. Before he had time to compose 

himself, Miss F , one of the belles of the day, 

came down the Woad aisle, full upon him ! He had 
never seen any thing so marvellously beautiful at 
once so simple and so superb, so much a woman and 
so much a divinity. He held his breath till she had 
passed, when he turned suddenly to Eev. Dr. Marsh, 
and giving him a slap on his shoulder which dis 
lodged a shower of powder from his wig exclaimed, 
" By all the gods, sir, there is Yen us herself!" . 

It is not easy to conceive of the consternation of 
all around, and especially of the reverend clergy. 
Their grizzled hair stood out, as if participating in 
the general horror. What could possess their rev 
erend brother? Was he suddenly beset by the Evil 
One, thus to utter the unhallowed name of Venus in 
the house of God ? It was, indeed a mystery. Grad 
ually, and one by one, they left the infected pew, and 
Major L . . . ., finding himself alone, quietly pocketed 
the joke, which, however, he often repeated to his 
friends after his return to Virginia. 

This legend refers to a date some dozen years sub 
sequent to the era of Grace Ingersoll, and which 
therefore shows that the traditional beauty of the New 
Haven ladies had not then declined. I now return 
to my story. From the first view of that fair lady, 



260 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

M. Grellet was a doomed man. Familiar with the 
brilliant court of the Parisian capital, he might have 
passed by unharmed, even by one as fair as our he 
roine, had it not been for that simplicity, that Puri 
tanism of look and manner, which belonged to the 
social climate in which she was brought up so strong 
ly in contrast to the prescribed pattern graces of a 
French lady. He came, he saw, he was conquered. 
Being made captive, he had no other way than to 
capitulate. He was a man of good family, a fine 
scholar, and a finished gentleman. He made due 
and honorable proposals, and was accepted though 
on the part of the parents with many misgivings. 
Marriage ensued, and the happy pair departed for 
France. 

This took place in 1806. M. Grellet held a high 
social position, and on his arrival at Paris, it was a 
matter of propriety that his bride should be pre 
sented at court. Napoleon was then in the full 
flush of his imperial glory. It must have been 
with some palpitations of heart that the New Ha 
ven girl scarcely turned of eighteen years, and new 
to the great world prepared to be introduced to the 
glittering circle of the Tuileries, and under the eye of 
the emperor himself. As she was presented to him, 
in the midst of a dazzling throng, blazing with orders 
and diamonds, she was a little agitated, and her foot 
was entangled for a moment in her long train then 
an indispensable part of the court costume. Napo- 




.DAME GREU.ET (GRACE INGERSOLL) AT THE COURT OF NAPOLEOX. Vol. l. p. 263. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 261 

leon, who, with all his greatness, never rose to the 
dignity of a gentleman, said in her hearing, " Voild 
de lo, gaucherie am&ricaine I" American awkward 
ness ! Perhaps a certain tinge of political bitterness 
mingled in the speech, for Jerome had been seduced 
into marriage by the beauty of an American lady, 
greatly to the chagrin of his aspiring and unprinci 
pled brother. At all events, though he saw the blush 
his rudeness had created, a malicious smile played 
upon his lips, indicative of that contempt of the feel 
ings of women, which was one of his characteristics.* 

Madame Grellet, however, survived the shock of 
this discourtesy, which signalized her entry into fash 
ionable life. She soon became a celebrity in the court 
circles, and always maintained pre-eminence, alike for 
beauty of person, grace of manners, and delicacy and 
dignity of character. More than once she had her re 
venge upon the emperor, when in the center of an ad 
miring circle, he, with others, paid homage to her fas 
cinations. Yet this transplantation of the fair Puritan, 
even to the Paradise of fashion, was not healthful. 

M. Grellet became one of Bonaparte's receivers- 
general, and took up his residence in the department of 
the Dordogne though spending the winters in Paris. 



* Napoleon's estimate of woman was very low : it was his cherished 
opinion that the orientals understood much better how to dispose of the 
female sex than the Europeans. There was a brusquerie, a precipitancy 
in his manner toward women, both in public and private, which his 
greatest admirers admit to have been repugnant to every feeling of fe 
male delicacy. See Alison's Europe, vol. ix. p. 151. 



262 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

Upon the fall of Napoleon, he lost his office, but was 
reappointed during the "hundred days," only to lose 
it again upon the final restoration of Louis XVIII. 
The shadows now gathered thick and dark around 
him. His wife having taken a violent cold was at 
tacked with pleurisy, which resulted in a gradual de 
cline. Gently but surely her life faded away. Death 
loves a shining mark, and at the early age of five-and- 
twenty she descended to the tomb. With two lovely 
daughters the remembrances of his love and his 
affliction M. Grellet returned to the south of France, 
and in the course of years, he too was numbered with 
the dead. 

Almost half a century passed away, and the mem 
ory of Grace Ingersoll had long been obliterated from 
my mind, when it was accidentally recalled. One 
evening, being at the Tuileries among the celebrities 
of the world's most brilliant court I saw her brother, 
B. I. Ingersoll. It was curious to meet here with one 
to whom I had not spoken though I had occasion 
ally seen him since we were boys together in Ridge- 
field. The last incident associated with him in my 
memory was that we played mumbletepeg together 
on the green mound, beneath the old Ingersoll but- 
tonwoods. He was now the American Ambassador 
to Russia, and on his way thither, and I was a chance 
sojourner m Paris. 

We met as if we were old friends. At length I 
recollected his sister Grace, and asked if her children 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 263 

were living. He replied in the affirmative, and that 
he was on the point of paying them a visit. 1 saw 
him a month afterward, and he told me that he had 
just returned from the south of France, where he had 
enjoyed a most interesting stay -of a fortnight with 
his nieces. One the elder was married, and had 
children around her. She was the wife of an eminent 
physician, and in easy circumstances occupying a 
good social position. She was a charming person, and, 
as he thought, possessed something of the appearance 
and character of his lost sis'ter. He found that she 
could sing the simple Connecticut ballads taught her 
in childhood, perhaps in the cradle by her mother : 



she had also some of her sketches in pencil, and other 
personal mementoes, which she cherished as sacred 
relics of her' parent, who now seemed a saint in her 
memory. How beautiful and how touching are such 
remembrances flowers that cast perfume around the 
very precincts of the tomb ! 

The other neice where was she? In a convent, 
lost to the world devoted to God if indeed to ex 
tinguish the lights of life be devotion to Him who 
gave them ! By special favor, however, she was 
permitted to leave her seclusion for a short period, 
that she might see her uncle. She came to the 
house of her sister, and remained there several days 
She was a most interesting person, delicate, grace 
ful, sensitive, still alive to all human affections. She 
was generally cheerful, and entered with a ready 



264 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

heart into the pleasures of home and friends around 
her. I shall venture to quote a single passage from 
a letter on this subject, addressed to me by her uncle. 
Speaking of his visit above alluded to, he says : 

" One day, after we had been talking as usual of 
America and her American relations, she excused 
herself to me for a short time, that she might go to 
her room and write a letter to the convent. She was 
gone from me much longer than I had expected, and 
on her return I said to her : 

" ' You must have been writing a long letter, if I 
may judge by the time you have been about it?' 

" ' Yes,' was her reply ; ' but I have not been wri 
ting all the while ; I have been praying.' 

" ' Indeed ! Do you pray often ?' 

" ' Yes and even more often here than when I am 
at the convent.' 

"'Why so?' -- 

" ' I fear, my dear uncle, that my affection for you 
will attach me too much to earth.' " 

How strange, how affecting. are the vicissitudes of 
life as we read them in the intimate personal histo 
ries of homes and hearts! The direct descendants 
of the Puritan minister of Bidgefield the one a 
mother, blending her name, her lineage, and her lan 
guage, in the annals of a foreign land ; the other, a 
devotee, seeking in the seclusion of her cell and per 
haps not altogether in vain "that peace which the 
world can not give I" 



HISTORICAL, ANECIX3TICAL, ETC. 



LETTER XIX, 

Mat Olmstead, the Town WiL-The Salamander Ratr-The Great Eclipse 
Sharp Logic Lieutenant Smith, the Town Philosopher The Pur- 

' chase of Louisiana Lewis and Clarke's Exploring Expedition The 
Great Meteor Hamilton and Burr The Leopard and the Chesapeake 
Fulton's Steamboats Granther Baldwin, the Village Miser Sarah 
Bishop, the Hermitess. 

MY DEAR C****** 

Matthew Olmstead, or Mat Olmstead, as he was 
usually called, was a day laborer, and though his 
speciality was the laying of stone fences, he was equal 
ly adroit at hoeing corn, mowing, and farm-work in 
general. He /was rather short and thick-set, with a 
long nose, a little bulbous in his latter days with a 
ruddy complexion, and a mouth shutting like a pair 
of nippers the lips having an oblique dip to the left, 
giving a keen and mischievous expression to his face, 
qualified, however, by more of mirth than malice. 
This feature was indicative of his mind and character, 
for he was sharp in speech, and affected a crisp, bi 
ting brevity, called dry wit. He had also a turn for 
practical jokes, and a great many of these were told 
of him, to which, perhaps, he had no historical claim. 
The following is one of them, and is illustrative oi 
his manner, even if it originated elsewhere. 

On a cold stormy day in December as I received 
the tale a man chanced to come into the bar-room 

VOL. I. 12 



266 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

of Keeler's tavern, where Mat Olmstead and several 
of his companions were lounging. The stranger had 
on a new hat of the latest fashion, and still shining 
with the gloss of the iron. He seemed conscious of 
his dignity, and carried his head in such a manner as 
to invite attention to it. Mat's knowing eye imme 
diately detected the weakness of the stranger ; so he 
approached him, and said 

" What a very nice hat you've got on. Pray who 
made it?" 

" Oh, it came from New York," was the reply. 

" Well, let me take it," said Mat. 

The stranger took it off his head, gingerly, and 
handed it to him. 

" It is a wonderful nice hat," said Matthew ; " and 
I see it's a real salamander !" 

" Salamander?" said the other. " What's that ?" 

" Why a real salamander hat won't burn !" 

" No ? I never heard of that before : I don't be 
lieve it's one of that kind." 

" Sartain sure ; I'll bet you a mug of flip of it." 

" Well, I'll stand you !" 

" Done : now I'll just put it under the fore-stick ?" 

"Well." 

It being thus arranged, Mat put the hat under the 
fore-stick into a glowing mass of coals. In an instant 
it took fire, collapsed, and rolled into a black, crum 
pled mass of cinders. 

" I du declare," said Mat Olmstead, affecting great 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 267 

astonishment "it ain't a salamander hat arter all. 
Well ; I'll pay the flip !" 

Yet wit is not always wisdom. Keen as this man 
was as to things immediately before him, he was of 
narrow understanding. He seemed not to possess the 
faculty of reasoning beyond his senses. He never 
would admit that the sun was fixed, and that the 
world turned round. In an argument upon this point 
before an audience of his class, he would have floored 
Sir John Herschel or Lord Eosse by his homely but 
pointed ridicule. 

I remember that when the great solar eclipse of 
1806 was approaching, he with two other men were at 
work in one of our fields, not far from the house. The 
eclipse was to begin at ten or eleven o'clock, and my 
father sent an invitation to the workmen to come up 
and observe it through some pieces of smoked glass. 
They came, though Mat ridiculed the idea of an eclipse 
not but the thing might happen but it was idle to 
suppose it could be foretold. While they were waiting 
and watching for the great event, my father explain 
ed that the light of the sun upon the earth was to be 
interrupted by the intrusion of the moon, and that 
this was to produce a transient night upon the scene 
around us. 

Mat laughed with that low scoffing chuckle, with 
which a woodchuck, safe in his rocky den, replies to 
the bark of a besieging dog. 

" So you don't believe this ?" said my father. 



268 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

" No," said Mat, shaking his head, and bringing his 
lips obliquely together, like the blades of a pair of 
shears. " I don't believe a word of it. You say, Par 
son Goodrich, that the sun is fixed, and don't move ?" 

" Yes, I say so." 

" Well : didn't you preach last Sunday out of the 
10th chapter of Joshua ?" 

" Yes." 

" And didn't you tell us that Joshua commanded 
the sun and moon to stand still ?" 

" Yes." 

" Well : what was the use of telling the sun to 
stand still if it never moved ?" 

This was a dead shot, especially at a parson, and 
in the presence of an audience inclined, from the fel 
lowship of ignorance, to receive the argument. Being 
thus successful, Mat went on. 

" Now, Parson Goodrich, let's try it agin. If you 
turn a thing that's got water in it bottom up, the wa- 
ter'll run out, won't it ?" 

" No doubt." 

" If the world turns round, then, your well will be 
turned bottom up, and the water'll run out !" 

At this point my father applied his eye to the son 
through a piece of smoked glass. The eclipse had 
begun ; a small piece was evidently cut off from the 
rim. My father stated the fact, and the company 
around looked through the glass and saw that it was 
so. Mat Olmstead, however, sturdily refused to try it, 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 269 

and bore on his face an air of supreme contempt, as 
much as to say, " You don't humbug me!" 

But ignorance and denial of the works of God do 
not interrupt their march. By slow and invisible 
degrees, a shade crept over the landscape. There 
was no cloud in the sky, but a chill stole through 
the atmosphere, and a strange dimness fell over the 
world. It was midday, yet it seemed like the ap 
proach of night. There was something fearful in 
this, as if the sun was about to be blotted out in 
the midst of his glory the light of the world to 
be extinguished at the moment of its noon ! All na 
ture seemed chilled and awed by the strange phenom 
enon. The birds, with startled looks and ominous 
notes, left their busy cares and gathered in the thick 
branches of the trees, where they seemed to hold 
counsel one with another. The hens, with slow and 
hesitating steps, set their faces toward their roosts. 
One old hen, with a brood of chickens, walked along 
with a tall, halting tread, and sought shelter upon 
the barn-floor, where she gathered her young ones 
under her wings, continuing to make a low sound, as 
if saying " Hush, my babes, lie still and slumber." 
At the same time, like many a mother before her, while 
seeking to bring peace to her offspring, her own heart 
was agitated with profound anxiety. 

I well remember this phenomenon* the first of the 

* Tliis eclipse (June 16th, 1806), being total, attracted great attention 
The weather was perfectly calm, and the phenomena exceedingly hi 



270 LETTEKS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

kind I had ever witnessed. Its sublimity absorbed 
ray whole faculties : it seemed to me the veritable, 
visible work of the Almighty. The ordinary course 
of nature was, indeed, equally stupendous ; but this 
incident, from its mere novelty, was a startling and 
impressive display of the mighty mechanism of the 
skies. Yet, though thus occupied by this seeming 
conflict of the heavenly bodies, I recollect to have 
paid some attention to the effect of the scene upon 
others. Mat Olmstead said not a word ; the other 
workmen were overwhelmed with emotions of awe. 

At length the eclipse began to pass away, and na 
ture slowly returned to her equanimity. The birds 
came forth, and sang a jubilee, as if relieved from 
some impending calamity. The hum of life again 
filled the air ; the old hen with her brood gayly re 
sumed her rambles, and made the leaves and gravel 



teresting. At the point of greatest obscuration, the air was so chill 
as to make an overcoat desirable. A short time before this, the dark 
ness in the west assumed the appearance of an approaching thunder 
storm. A luminous ring surrounded the moon after the sun was to 
tally hid. Such was the darkness that the time could not be determined 
by a watch. The number of stars visible was greater than at the Hill 
moon. 

An account of the scene in Boston thus describes it: "The morning 
tras ushered in with the usual hum of business, which gradually sub- 
ekled as the darkness advanced. An uninterrupted silence succeed 
ed. A fresh breeze which had prevailed, now ceased, and all was 
calm. The birds retired to rest : the rolling chariot and the rumbling 
car were no more heard. The axe and the hammer were suspended. 
Heturning light reanimated the face of things. We seemed as in the 
dawn of creation, when ' God said, Let there he light, and there wa light T 
and an involuntary cheer of graUilation burst from the assembled spec 
tator*." Monthly Anthology, 1806. 



HISTORICAL. ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 271 

fly with her invigorated scratchings. The workmen, 
too, having taken a glass of grog, returned thought 
fully to their labors. 

" After all," said one of the men, as they passed 
along to the field, " I guess the parson was right 
about the sun and the moon." 

" Well, perhaps he was," said Mat ; " but then 
Joshua was wrong." 

Notwithstanding this man's habitual incredulity, 
he had still his weak side, for he was a firm believer 
in ghosts not ghosts in general, but two that he had 
seen himself. Like most other ghost-seers, he patron 
ized none but his own. These were of enormous size, 
white and winged like angels. He had seen them 
one dark night as he was going to his house a little 
brown tenement, situated on a lonesome lane that 
diverged to the left from the high-road to Salern. It 
was very late, and Mat had spent the evening at the 
tavern, like Tarn O'Shanter ; like him, he ." was na 
fou, but just had plenty" a circumstance, I must say, 
rather uncommon with him, for he was by no means 
a tippler, beyond the habits of that day. It is prob 
able that all modern ghosts are revealed only to the 
second-sight of alcohol, insanity, or the vapors ; even 
in this case of Mat OlmsteaxTs, it turned out that his 
two angels were a couple of white geese, whom he 
had startled into flight, as he stumbled upon them 
quietly snoozing in the joint of a rail fence ! 

It has often appeared to me that Mat Olmstead was 




272 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

a type a representative of a class of men not very 
rare in this world of ours. It is not at all uncom 
mon to find people, and those who are called strong- 
minded, who are habitual unbelievers in things pos 
sible and probable nay, in things well established 
by testimony while they readily become the dupes 
of the most absurd illusions and impositions. Dr. 
Johnson, it is stated, did not believe in the great 
earthquake of Lisbon in 1755, until six months after 
it had happened, while he readily accepted the egre 
gious deception of the Cock Lane Ghost. In our day 
we see people and sharp ones too who reject the 
plainest teachings of common sense, sanctioned by 
the good and wise of centuries, and follow with im 
plicit faith some goose of the imagination, like Joe 
Smith orBrigham Young. These are Mat Olmsteads, 
a little intoxicated by their own imaginations, and in 
their night of ignorance and folly, .they fall down 
and worship the grossest and goosiest of illusions. 

I now turn to a different character, Lieutenant, or 
as we all called him, Leftenant Smith. He has been 
already introduced to you, but a few touches are still 
necessary to complete hi portrait. He was a man o 
extensive reading, and large information. He was also 
some sixty years old, and had stored in his memory 
the results of his own observation and experience. 
He read the newspapers, and conversed with travelers 
thus keeping up with the march of events. He 
affected philosophy, and deemed himself the great 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 273 

intelligencer of the town. If he was thus rich in 
lore, he dearly loved to dispense it, asking only in 
return attentive listeners. He liked discussion, pro 
vided it was all left to himself. He was equal to all 
questions : with my father, he dilated upon such high 
matters as the Purchase of Louisiana ; Lewis and 
Clarke's Exploring Expedition ; the death of Ham 
ilton in the duel with Aaron Burr ; the attack of the 
Leopard on the Chesapeake ;* Fulton's attempts at 
steam navigation, and the other agitating topics of 

* These several events, which have now passed into the mist of dis 
tance, all caused great excitement at the time they transpired. 

The Purchase of Louisiana, in 1803, was made by our ministers in 
France, Livingston and Monroe, of Bonaparte, then " Consul for life," for 
the sum of fifteen millions of dollars. Though the treaty was wholly un 
authorized, our government accepted and ratified it. Jefferson, then 
President, sanctioned and promoted it, though he knew it to be un 
constitutional, as has since appeared by his private correspondence : 
a fact the more remarkable, as he had always pretended to make a 
strict construction of the Constitution a cardinal political principle. 
The federalists opposed the treaty, as unconstitutional, and as a de 
struction of the balance between the free States and slave States, 
established by that instrument. The democratic party, knowing the 
truth of all this, but having a majority, accepted the treaty. Though 
apparently a beneficial measure the mode in which it was effected, has 
laid the foundation of the most alarming evils. This example of a pal 
pable violation of the Constitution by Jefferson the great apostle of 
democracy and sanctioned and glorified by that dominant party, has 
deprived that instrument of much of its binding force upon the con 
science of the country. Hence, it has become the constant subject of 
invasion and violation by party. If our government is ever overthrown, 
its death-blow will be traced to this act. Had the true course been 
adopted that of a modification of the Constitution by the people no 
doubt that stipulations in respect to slavery would have been imposed, 
which would have prevented its present enormous extension, and saved 
the country from the irritating difficulties in which that subject now in 
volves us. 

It is a matter worthy of remark that this first violation of the Consti 
tution came from the strict oonstractionista : it is from them also, at tl* 

12* 



274 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

those times, as they came one after another. He was 
profound upon the sources of the Nile and the Niger, 
learned upon the site of Eldorado, and magniloquent 
upon Napoleon, then making the whole earth re 
sound with his ominous march toward universal do 
minion. To a humble auditory of men and boys, 
gathered by chance as on a wet day, or a Saturday 
afternoon, in the stoop of Keeler's tavern he told 
about Putnam and the wolf, General Stark and his 
wife Molly, with variations of Washington and the war. 

present day, that we hear that instrument made the constant object of 
threatened nullification or repudiation. 

Lewis and Clarke's Expedition to the Pacific, across the continent by 
way of the sources of the Missouri, began in 1803 and was completed 
in 1806. This was made the theme of great eulogy by the friends of 
Jefferson, whose scientific pretensions provoked abundance of ridicule 
in his opponents. In January, 1807, a dinner waa given at Washington 
to Capt. Lewis, in compliment and congratulation for his success in the 
expedition. Joel Barlow produced a song on the occasion, full of ri 
diculous bombast. One verse will give an idea of it : 

" With the same soaring genius thy Lewis ascends, 

And seizes the car of the sun ; 

O'er the sky-propping hills, and high waters he bends, 
And gives the proud earth a new zone." 

This was sarcastically parodied by John Q. Adams, who did not dis 
dain to make the domestic frailties of Jefferson the object of his satire. 
One verse is as follows, it having reference to Barlow's suggestion that 
the name of the Columbia river should be changed to Lewis' river. 

" Let Dusky Sally henceforth bear 

The name of Isabella : 
And let the mountains all of salt, 

Be christened Monticolla. 
The hog with navel on his back, 

Tom Paine may be when drank, sir : 
And Joel call'd the prairie dog. 

Which once was call'd a skunk, sir. 11 

It is curious and instructive to know that soon after this (March, 1808), 
J. Q. Adams, having lost caste with the federalists of Massachusetts, 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 275 

I have an impression that Lieut. Smith after all, 
was not very profound ; but to me he was a miracle of 
learning. I listened to his discussions with very little 
interest, but his narratives engaged my whole atten 
tion. These were always descriptive of actual events, 
for he would have disdained fiction : from them I de 
rived a satisfaction that I never found in fables. The 
travels of Mungo Park, his strange adventures and 
melancholy death which about those days transpired 
through the newspapers, and all of which Lieutenant 

went to Jefferson, and accused them of treasonable designs, and was 
consequently made a good democrat, and sent as Minister to Russia in 
1809. The transformations of politicians are often as wonderful as 
those of Harlequin. 

The Death of Alexander Hamilton, July 11, 1804, in a duel with Aaron 
Burr, the Vice-President of the United States, produced the most vivid 
emotions of mingled regret and indignation. Hamilton, though in pri 
vate life not without blemishes, was a man of noble character and vast 
abilities. Burr was in every thing false and unprincipled. He feared 
and envied Hamilton, and with the express purpose of taking his life, 
forced him into the conflict. Hamilton fell, fatally wounded, at the lirst 
fire, and Burr, like another Cain, fled to the South, and at last to Europe, 
before the indignation of the whole nation. After many years he re 
turned neglected, shunned, despised -yet lingering on to the year 183(5, 
when at the age of eighty he died, leaving his blackened name to stand 
by the side of that of Benedict Arnold. 

The Attack of the British ship-of-wai- Leopard on the U. IS. hip C7/W- 
upeake, took place off Hampton Koads, in June, 1807. The latter, com 
manded by Commodore Barron, was just out of port, and apprehending 
no danger, was totally unprepared for action. The commander of the 
British vessel demanded four sailors of the Chesapeake, claimed to bo 
deserters, and as these were not surrendered, he poured his broadsides 
into the American vessel, which was speedily disabled. He then took 
the four seamen, and the Chesapeake put back to Norfolk. This auda 
cious act was perpetrated under the "right of search," as maintained 
by Great Britain. The indignation of the American people knew no 
bounds : Jefferson demanded apology, and the British government im 
mediately offered it. It was not the policy of our President, however, 
to settle the matter with Great Britain : so this difficulty was kept along 



i>76 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

Smith had at his tongue's end excited my interest 
and my imagination even beyond the romances of 
Sinbad the Sailor and Robinson Crusoe. 

In the year 1807, an event occurred, not only start 
ling in itself, but giving exercise to all the philosoph 
ical powers of Lieutenant Smith. On the morning 
of the 14th of December, about daybreak, I had arisen 
and was occupied in building a fire, this being my 
daily duty. Suddenly the room was filled with light, 
and looking up, I saw through the windows a ball of 
fire, nearly the size of the moon, passing across the 
heavens from northwest to southeast. It was at an 
immense height, and of intense brilliancy. Having 
passed the zenith, it swiftly descended toward the 
earth : while still at a great elevation it burst, with 
three successive explosions, into fiery fragments. The 
report was like three claps of rattling thunder in quick 
succession. 

My father, who saw the light and heard the 
sounds, declared it to be a meteor of extraordinary 
magnitude. It was noticed all over the town, and 
caused great excitement. On the following day the 
news came that huge fragments of stone had fallen 
in the adjacent town of Weston, some eight or ten 

for yeara, and became a proverb, significant of delay and diplomatic chi 
canery. " I would as soon attempt to settle the off air of the Chesapeake" 
was a common mode of characterizing any dispute which seemed inter 
minable. Commodore Barron was suspended from his command, and 
it was some painful allusion to this by Commodore Decatur, tha* caused 
a duel between these two persons, which ended in the death of the lat 
ter, March 22, 1820. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, ETC. -277 

miles southeast of Kidgefield. The story spread far 
and wide, and some of the professors of Yale College 
came to the place, and examined the fragments of 
this strange visitor from the skies. It appeared 
that the people in the neighborhood heard the rush 
ing of the stones through the air, as well as the shock 
when they struck the earth. One, weighing two hun 
dred pounds, fell on a rock, which it splintered its 
huge fragments plowing up the ground around to the 
extent of a hundred feet. One piece, weighing twen 
ty-five pounds, was taken to New Haven, where it is 
still to be seen, in the mineralogical cabinet of the 
college. The professors estimated this meteor* to be 
half a mile in diameter, and to have traveled through 
the heavens at the rate of two or three hundred miles 
a minute. 

On this extraordinary occasion the lieutenant came 
to our house, according to his wont, and for several 
successive evenings discoursed to us upon the sub 
ject. I must endeavor to give you a specimen of his 
performances. 

* The extraordinary meteor, here alluded to, was so distinctly ob 
served, as to have settled many points respecting meteoric stones, which 
were before involved in some doubt. The immense speed of its prog 
ress and its enormous size were determined by the fact that it was seen 
at the moment of its explosion, through a space more than a hundred 
miles in diameter, and that it passed across the zenith in about ten 
seconds. It appears probable that it was not a solid mass, nor is it to 
be supposed that more than a small portion of it fell to the earth when 
the explosion took place. It must be admitted, however, that we have 
yet no satisfactory theory as to the origin and nature of these wonder 
ful bodies. 



278 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

" It seems to me, sir," said he, addressing my fa 
ther, " that these meteors, or falling stars, or what not, 
are very strange things, and have not received due 
attention from the learned world. They are of great 
antiquity, sir: their appearance is recorded as far 
back as 654 B. c. One is spoken of by the elder 
Pliny, sir, which fell near the town of Gallipoli, in 
Asia Minor, about 405 B. c. This was to be seen in 
Pliny's time that 'is, five hundred years afterward, 
and was then as big as a wagon, sir. From these 
remote dates down to the present time, these wonder 
ful phenomena have occurred at intervals, so that two 
hundred instances are on record. It is probable that 
many more have passed unnoticed by man, either in 
the night, or in remote places, or in the vast oceans 
which cover two thirds of the earth's surface. In gen 
eral, sir, these meteors send down showers of stones, 
of various sizes. Some of the fragments are no big 
ger than a pea ; others are of greater magnitude in 
one instance weighing twenty-five thousand pounds. 

" "Well, sir, this subject becomes one of importance, 
And the inquiry as to what these strange things are, 
demands attention of the philosopher. I have stud 
ied the subject profoundly ; I have looked into the va 
rious theories, and am by no means satisfied with any 
of them, sir. Some suppose these meteors to be cast 
out of the volcanic craters of the moon, but that sup 
position I deem incompatible with Scripture, and the 
general aspect of the universe. The Bible represents 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 279 

nature as harmonious : it speaks of the morning stars 
as singing together. It is impious, then, to suppose 
that the moon, a mere satellite of the earth, can be 
in a state of rebellion, and discharging its destructive 
batteries upon the earth, its lord and master. Besides, 
the moon thus constantly firing at the earth would, 
in the course of time, be all shot away." 

"That is," said my father, "it would get out of 
ammunition, as the Americans did at Bunker Hill ?" 

" Just so, sir : therefore I look upon these as crude 
opinions, arising from a superficial view of the uni 
verse. I have examined the subject, sir, and am 
inclined to the opinion that these phenomena are 
animals revolving in the orbits of space between the 
heavenly bodies. Occasionally, one of them comes 
too near the earth, and rushing through our atmo 
sphere with immense velocit} 7 , takes fire and ex 
plodes !" 

" This is rather a new theory, is it not?" said my 
father. "It appears that these meteoric stones, in 
whatever country they fall, are composed of the same 
ingredients mostly silex, iron, and nickel : these 
substances would make rather a hard character, if en- 
dowed with animal life, and especially with the capa 
city of rushing through -space at the rate of two or 
three hundred miles a minute, and then exploding ?" 

"These substances I consider only as the shell of 
the animal, sir." 

'You regard the creature as a huge shell-fish, then ?" 




LKTTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

" Not necessarily a fish, for a whole order of na 
ture, called Crustacea, has the bones on the outside. 
In this case of meteors, I suppose them to be cov 
ered with some softer substance, for it frequently 
happens that a jelly-like matter comes down with 
meteoric stones. This resembles coagulated blood ; 
and thus what is called bloody rain or snow, has 
often fallen over great spaces of country. Now, 
when the chemists analyze these things the stones, 
which I consider the bones, and the jelly, which I 
consider the fat, and the rain, which I consider the 
blood they find them all to consist of the same ele 
ments that is, silex, iron, nickel, &c. None but 
my animal theory will harmonize all these phenom 
ena, sir." 

"But," interposed my father, "consider the enor 
mous size of your aerial monsters. I recollect to have 
read only a short time since, that in the year 1803, 
about one o'clock in the afternoon, the inhabitants 
of several towns of Normandy, in France, heard 
noises in the sky, like the peals of cannon and mus 
ketry, with a long-continued roll of drums. Looking 
upward, they saw something like a small cloud at an 
immense elevation, which soon seemed to explode, 
sending its vapor in all directions. At last a hissing 
noise was heard, and then stones fell, spreading over 
a country three miles wide by eight miles long. No 
less than two thousand pieces were collected, weigh 
ing from one ounce to seventeen pounds. That must 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, ETC. 281 

have been rather a large animal eight miles long 
and three miles wide !" 

" What is that, sir, in comparison with the earth, 
which Kepler, the greatest philosopher that ever 
lived, conceived to be a huge beast?" 

" Yes ; but did he prove it ?" 

" He gave good reasons for it, sir. He found ver j 
striking analogies between the earth and animal ex 
istences : such as the tides, indicating its breathing 
through vast internal lungs ; earthquakes, resembling 
eructations from the stomach ; and volcanoes, sugges 
tive of boils, pimples, and other cutaneous eruptions." 

" I think I have seen your theory set to verse." 

Saying this, my father rose, and bringing a book, 
read as follows : 

" To me things are not as to vulgar eyes 
I would all nature's works anatomize : 
This world a living monster seems to me, 
Rolling and sporting in the aerial sea : 
The soil encompasses her rocks and stones. 
As flesh in animals encircles bones. 
I see vast ocean, like a heart in play, 
Pant systole and diastole every day, 
And by unnumber'd venus streams supplied, 
Up her broad rivers force the aerial tide. 
The world's great lungs, monsoons and trade-winds show 
From east to west, from west to east they blow 
The hills are pimples, which earth's face defile, 
And burning Etna an eruptive boil. 
On her high mountains living forests grow, 
And downy grass o'erspreads the vales below : 



282 LETTEE8 BIOGBAPHICJLL, 

From her vast body perspirations rise, 
Condense in clouds and float beneath the skies."* 

My father having closed the book, the profound 
lieutenant, who did not conceive it possible that a 
thing so serious could be made the subject of a joke, 
said : 

" A happy illustration of my philosophy, sir, though 
I can not commend the form in which it is put. If a 
man has any thing worth saying, sir, he should use 
prose. Poetry is only proper when one wishes to 
embellish folly, or dignify trifles. In this case it is 
otherwise, I admit ; and I am happy to find so pow 
erful a supporter of my animal theory of meteors. I 
shall consider the subject, and present it for the con 
sideration of the philosophic world." 

One prominent characteristic of this our Ridgefield 
philosopher was, that when a great event came about, 
he fancied that he had foreseen and predicted it from 
the beginning. Now about this time Fulton actually 
succeeded in his long-sought application of steam to 

* This is from the " Oration which might have teen, delivered" by 
Francis Hopkiuson, LL. D., published in a volume entitled, " American 
Poems, selected and original,' 1 ' 1 LitchflelS, Conn., 1793. This work I con 
sidered, in my youth, one of the marvels of Amerii-an literature : in 
point of fact it comprised nearly all the living American poetry at that 
era. The chief names in its galaxy of stars were, Trumbnll, tho author 
of M'Fingal, Timothy Dwight, Joel Barlow, David Humphries, Lemuel 
Hopkins, William Livingston, Richard Alsop, Theodore Dwight, and 
Philip Freneau. It is now not without interest, especially an one of 
the signs of those times the taste, tone, scope, and extent of the cur 
rent indigenous poets and poetry only sixty years ago. At that era 
Connecticut was the focal point of poetic inspiration on this continent. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 283 

navigation. The general opinion of the country had 
been, all along, that he was a monomaniac, attempt 
ing an impossibility. He was the standing theme of 
cheap newspaper wit, and the general God-send of 
orators, who were hard run for a joke. Lieutenant 
Smith, who was only an echo of what passed around 
him, during the period of Fulton's labors, participated 
in the curreat contempt ; but when the news came, in 
October, 1807, that he had actually succeeded that 
one of his boats had walked the waters like a thing of 
life, at the rate of five miles an hour, against the cur 
rent of the Hudson river then, still an echo of the 
public voice did he greatly jubilate. 

" I told you so : I told you so !" was his first ex 
clamation, as he entered the house, swelling with the 
account. 

" Well, and what is it ?" said my father. 

" Fulton has made his boat go, sir ! I told you 
how it would be, sir. It opens a new era in the his 
tory of navigation. We shall go to Europe in ten 
days, sir!" 

Now you will readily understand, that in these 
sketches I do not pretend to report with literal pre 
cision the profound discourses of our Bidgefield sa 
vant ; I remember only the general outlines, the rest 
being easily suggested. My desire is to present the 
portrait of one of the notables of our village one 
whom I remember with pleasure, and whom I con 
ceive to be a representative of the amiable, and per- 



284 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

haps useful race of fussy philosophers to be found in 
most country villages. He was, in fact, a sort of Yan 
kee Pickwick, full of knowledge, and a yearning de 
sire to make everybody share in his learning. As 
was proper, he was a prophet, an " I-TOLD-YOU-SO !' 
w*ho foresees every thing after it has happened. Un 
like Mat Olmstead, who believed too little, perhaps 
he believed too much : for whatever he saw in print, 
he considered as proved. If he ever doubted any 
thing, it was when he had not been the first to reveal 
it to the village. Yet whatever his foibles, I was 
certainly indebted to him for many hours of amuse 
ment, and no doubt for a great deal of information. 

From the town oracle, I turn to the town miser. 
Granther Baldwin, as I remember him, was threescore 
years and ten perhaps a little more. He was a man 
of middle size, but thin, wiry, and bloodless, and hav 
ing his body bent forward at a sharp angle with his 
hips, while his head was thrown back over his shoul 
ders giving his person the general form of a reversed 
letter Z. His complexion was brown and stony ; his 
eye gray and twinkling, with a nose and chin almost 
meeting like a pair of forceps. His hair standing out 
with an irritable frizz was of a rusty gray. He was 
always restless, and walked and rode with a sort ol 
haggish rapidity. At church, he wriggled in his seat, 
tasted fennel, and bobbed his head up and down and 
around. He could not afford tobacco, so he chewed, 
with a constant activity, either an oak chip or the 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 285 

roots of elecampane, which was indigenous in the 
lane near his house. On Sundays he was decent in 
his attire, but on week-days he was a beggarly curios 
ity. It was said that he once exchanged hats with a 
scarecrow, and cheated scandalously in the bargain. 
His boots a withered wreck of an old pair of white- 
tops dangled over his shrunken calves, and a coat 
in tatters fluttered from his body. He rode a switch- 
tailed, ambling mare, which always went like the 
wind, shaking the old gentleman merrily from right 
to left, and making his bones, boots, and rags rustle 
like his own bush-harrow. Familiar as he was, the 
school-boys were never tired of him, and when he 
passed, " There goes Granther Baldwin !" was the in 
variable ejaculation. 

I must add in order to complete the picture that 
in contrast to his elvish leanness and wizard activity, 
his wife was bloated with fat, and either from indo 
lence or lethargy, dozed away half her life in the 
chimney corner. It was said, and no doubt truly, 
that she often went to sleep at the table, sometimes 
allowing a rind of bacon to stick out of her mouth 
till her nap was over. I have a faint notion of hav 
ing seen this myself. She spent a large part of her 
life in cheating her husband out of fourpence-ha 1 pen 
nies,* of which more than a peck were found secreted 
in an old chest, at her death. 

* According to the old New England currency, the Spanish sixteenth 
of a dollar the sixpence of New York and the picayune of Louisiana 



286 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

It was the boast of this man that he had risen from 
poverty to wealth, and he loved to describe the pro 
cess of his advancement. He always worked in the 
corn-field till it was so dark that he could see his hoe 
strike fire. When in the heat of summer he was obliged 
occasionally to let his cattle breathe, he sat on a sharp 
stone, lest he should rest too long. He paid half a 
dollar to the parson for marrying him, which he al 
ways regretted, as one of his neighbors got the job 
done for a pint of mustard-seed. On fast-days, he 
made his cattle go without food as well as himself. 
He systematically stooped to save a crooked pin or a 
rusty nail, as it would cost more to make it than to 
pick it up. Such were his boasts or at least, such 
were the things traditionally imputed to him. 

He was withal a man of keen faculties ; sagacious 
in the purchase of land, as well as in the rotation of 
crops. He was literally honest, and never cheated 
any one out of a farthing, according to his arithmetic 
though he had sometimes an odd way of reckoning. 
It is said that in his day the Connecticut age of blue 
the statute imposed a fine of one dollar for profane 
swearing. During this period, Granther Baldwin 
employed a carpenter who was somewhat notoriously 
addicted to this vice. Granther kept a strict account 
of every instance of transgression, and when the job 



was fourpence-halfpenny. This word was formerly the shibboleth of 
the Yankees every one being set down as a New Englander who said 
fourptnoe-hd 'penny. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 287 

was done, and the time came to settle the account, he 
said to the carpenter 

" You've worked with me thirty days, I think, Mr. 
Kellogg?" 

" Yes, Granther," was the reply. 

" At a dollar a day, that makes thirty dollars, I 
think?" 

" Yes, Granther." 

"Mr. Kellogg, I am sorry to observe that you 
have a very bad habit of taking the Lord's name in 
vain " 

" Yes, Granther." 
" Well, you know that's agin the law." 

" Yes, Granther." 

" And there's a fine of one dollar for each offense." 

" Yes, Granther." 

" Well here's the account I've kept, and I find 
you've broken the law twenty-five times ; that is, six 
teen times in April, and nine in May. At a dollar 
a time, that makes twenty-five dollars, don't it?" 

" Yes, Granther.", 

" So then, twenty-five from thirty leaves five : it 
appears, therefore, that there is a balance of five dol 
lars due to you. How'll you take it, Mr. Kellogg ? 
In cash, or in my way say in 'taters, pork, and 
other things?" 

At this point, the carpenter's brow lowered, but 
with a prodigious effort at composure, he replied 

" Well, Granther, you may keep the five dollars, 



288 LKTTERS BIOGKAPHICAL, 

and I'll take it out in my way, that is, in swearing !" 
Upon this he hurled at the old gentleman a volley 
of oaths, quite too numerous and too profane to re 
peat. 

Now I do not vouch for the precise accuracy of 
this story in its application to Granther Baldwin. I 
only say it was one of the things laid to him/ A 
man of marked character is very apt to be saddled 
with all the floating tales that might suit him. I re 
member once to have told a well-authenticated story 
of Ethan Allen, when Dr. L . . ., a German professor, 
being present, laughed outright, saying, " I have 
heard my father tell the same story of old Baron Von 
Skippenhutten, and declare that he was present when 
the thing happened I" 

I need not enlarge upon the adventures between 
Granther Baldwin and the school-boys, who took de 
light in pocketing his apples, pears, and nuts. These 
things were so abundant in those days, that everybody 
picked and ate, without the idea of trespass. But 
Granther's heart was sorely afllicted at these dis 
pensations. He could not bear the idea of losing 
a pocketful of apples, or a handful of butternuts, 
chestnuts, or walnuts, even if they lay' decaying in 
heaps upon his grounds. As I have said, his house 
and farm were close by West Lane school, and it was 
quite a matter of course that his hard, unrelenting 
conservatism should clash with the ideas of the 
natural rights of schoolboys, entertained by such 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTICAL, ETC'. '2>H 

free-born youths as those at this seminary. They 
loved the fruit, and considered liberal pickings to be 
their birthright. Had the old gentleman let them 
alone, or had he smiled on them in their small pil- 
ferings, they had, no doubt, been moderate in their 
plunder. But when he made war on them even 
unto sticks, stones, and pitchforks the love of fun 
and the glory of mischief added an indescribable rel 
ish to their forays upon his woods and orchards. I 
confess to have been drawn in more than once to 
these misdoings. Perhaps, too, I was sometimes a 
leader in them. I confess, with all due contrition, 
that when the old miser, hearing the walnuts rattle 
down by the bushel in the forest back of his house 
knowing that mischief was in the wind came 
forth in a fury, pitchfork in hand ; when I have 
heard his hoarse yet impotent threats ; I have rather 
enjoyed than sympathized with his agonies. Poor 
old gentleman let me now expiate my sins by doing 
justice to his memory ! 

It is true he was a miser selfish and mean by na 
ture. Born in poverty, and only rising from this con 
dition by threescore years and ten of toil and parsi 
mony, was it possible for him to be otherwise ? What 
a burden of sin and misery is often laid upon a single 
soul ! And yet Granther Baldwin was not wholly 
lost. He professed religion, and the New Man wres 
tled bravely with the Old Man. The latter got the 
better too often, no doubt ; for avarice once lodged 

VOL. I. 13 



290 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

in the soul is usually the last vice that capitulates to 
Christianity. It so readily assumes the guise of re 
spectable virtues frugality, providence, industry, 
prudence, economy that it easily dupes the heart 
that gives it shelter. 

And besides, religion in its sterner exercises for 
bids the pleasures of life, in which mankind generally 
content the universal craving for excitement. The 
moral constitution of man the mind and the heart 
have their hunger and their thirst as well as the body. 
These can not be annihilated : if they are not ap 
peased in one way, they will be in another. Old Bur 
ton says they are like badgers : if you stop up one 
hole, they will dig out at another. And thus, if a 
man is too rigid in his creed to allow the genial excite 
ments of society, he is very likely to satisfy himself 
with something worse. He generally resorts to se 
cret indulgences of some kind, and thus lays the axe 
at the root of all religion, by establishing a system of 
hypocrisy. To a man thus situated, the respectable 
vice of avarice is commended, for while, as I have 
said, it takes the guise of various virtues, it furnishes 
gratification to the desire of excitement by its accu 
mulations, its growing heaps of gold, its enlarging 
boundaries of land, its spreading network of bonds 
and mortgages, its web of debt woven at the rate of 
compound interest over the bodies and souls of men 
debtors, borrowers, speculators, and other worship 
ers of Mammon. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 291 

It is so easy therefore to be misled by this demon 
of avarice, that I shall deal gently with it in Gran- 
ther Baldwin's case, seeing that he had so many 
temptations in his nature and his position. Never 
theless, I am bound to say that it so dried up the 
fountains of his heart as to render him absolutely 
insensible even to the idea of personal appearance 
as if God gave man his own image to wear a scare 
crow's hat, and boots that a beggar would despise. 
But for his avarice, he might have discovered that 
want of decency is want of sense ; but for his ava 
rice, his heart might have been the sun of a system, 
circling around the fireside and diffusing its blessings 
over each member of the family ; but for his avarice, 
he might, being rich, and increased in goods, have 
even enlarged his heart, and been the benefactor of 
the neighborhood. 

Still, I shall not parade these sins before you : let 
me rather speak of the old man's virtues. He was a 
firm believer in the Bible, and set the example of im 
plicit submission to its doctrines, as he discovered 
them. He made an open profession of his faith, and 
in sickness and in health, in rain and shine, in sum 
mer and winter, he sustained the established institu 
tions of religion. No weather ever prevented him 
from attending church, though he lived nearly two 
miles from the place of worship. Often have I seen 
him on a Sunday morning, facing the keen blast, 
plodding his way thither, when it seemed as if his 



292 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

heart mast be reduced to an icicle. He attended all 
funerals within the precincts of the place. He was 
present at every town meeting : he paid his taxes, 
civil and ecclesiastical, at the appointed day. He 
kept thanksgivings and fasts the first gingerly, and 
the last with all his heart. He had a clock and a 
noon-mark, and when they varied, he insisted that 
the sun was wrong. He believed profoundly in arith 
metic, and submitted, without repining, to its decrees. 
Here was the skeleton of a man and a Christian ; all 
that it wanted was a soul ! 

One sketch more, and my gallery of eccentricities 
is finished. Men hermits have been frequently heard 
of, but a woman hermit is of rare occurrence. Nev 
ertheless, Ridgefield could boast of one of these among 
its curiosities. Sarah Bishop was, at the period of 
my boyhood, a thin, ghostly old woman, bent and 
wrinkled, but still possessing a good deal of activity. 
She lived in a cave, formed by nature, in a mass of 
projecting rocks that overhung a deep valley or gorge 
in "West Mountain. This was about four miles from 
our house, and was, I believe, actually within the 
limits of North Salem ; but being on the eastern 
slope of the mountain, it was most easily accessible 
from Ridgefield, and hence its tenant was called an 
inhabitant of our town. 

This strange woman was no mere amateur recluse. 
The rock bare and desolate was actually her home, 
except that occasionally she strayed to the neighbor- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 29? 

ing villages, seldom being absent more than one or 
two days at a time. She never begged, but received 
such articles as were given to her. She was of a 
highly religious turn of mind, and at long intervals 
came to our church, and partpok of the sacrament. 
She sometimes visited our family the only one thus 
favored in the town and occasionally remained over 
night. She never would eat with us at the table, nor 
engage in general conversation. Upon her early his 
tory she was invariably silent ; indeed, she spoke of 
her affairs with great reluctance. She neither seemed 
to have sympathy for others, nor to ask it in return. 
If there was any exception, it was only in respect to 
the religious exercises of the family : she listened in 
tently to the reading of the Bible, and joined with 
apparent devotion in the morning and evening prayer. 
I have very often seen this eccentric personage 
stealing into the church, or moving along the street, 
or wending her way through lane and footpath up to 
her mo'untain home. She always appeared desirous of 
escaping notice, and though her step was active, she 
had a gliding, noiseless movement, which seemed to 
ally her to the spirit-world. In my rambles among 
the mountains, I have seen her passing through the 
forest, or sitting silent as a statue upon the prostrate 
trunk of a tree, or perchance upon a stone or mound, 
scarcely to be distinguished from the inanimate ob 
jects wood, earth, and rock around her. She had 
a sense of propriety as to personal appearance, for 



294 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

when she visited the town, she was decently, though 
poorly clad ; when alone in the wilderness she seemed 
little more than a squalid mass of rags. My excur 
sions frequently brought me within the wild precincts 
of her solitary den. Several times I have paid a visit 
to the spot, and in two instances found her at home. 
A place more desolate in its general outline more 
absolutely given up to the wildness of nature, it is 
impossible to conceive. Her cave was a hollow in the 
rack, about six feet square. Except a few rags and 
an old basin, it was without furniture her bed being 
the floor of the cave, and her pillow a projecting point 
of the rock. It was entered by a natural door about 
three feet wide and four feet high, and was closed in 
severe weather only by pieces of bark. At a distance 
of a few feet was a cleft, where she kept a supply of 
roots and nuts, which she gathered, and the food that 
was given her. She was reputed to have a secret 
depository, where she kept a quantity of antique 
dresses, several of them of rich silks, and apparently 
suited to fashionable life : though I think this was an 
exaggeration. At a little distance down the ledge, 
there was a fine spring of water, in the vicinity of 
which she was often found in fair weather. 

There was no attempt, either in or around the spot, 
to bestow upon it an air of convenience or comfort. 
A small space of cleared ground was occupied by a 
few thriftless peach-trees, and in summer a patch of 
starveling beans, cucumbers, and potatoes. Up two or 




THE HERMITESS. Vol. 1, p. 294. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, ETC. 

three of the adjacent forest-trees there clambered lux 
uriant grape-vines, highly productive in their season. 
With the exception of these feeble marks of cultiva 
tion, all was left ghastly and savage as nature made it. 
The trees, standing upon the tops of the cliff, and ex 
posed to the shock of the tempest, were bent, and 
stooping toward the valley their limbs contorted, 
and their roots clinging, as with an agonizing grasp, 
into the rifts of the rocks upon which they stood. 
Many of them were hoary with age, and hollow with 
decay ; others were stripped of their leaves by the 
blasts, and others still, grooved and splintered by 
the lightning. The valley below, enriched with the 
decay of centuries, and fed with moisture from the 
surrounding hills, was a wild paradise of towering 
oaks, and other giants of the vegetable kingdom, 
with a rank undergrowth of tangled shrubs. In the 
distance, to the east, the gathered streams spread out 
into a beautiful expanse of water called Long Pond. 

A place at once so secluded and so wild was, of 
course, the chosen haunt of birds, beasts, and reptiles. 
The eagle built her nest and reared her young in 
the clefts of the rocks ; foxes found shelter in the 
caverns, and serpents reveled alike in the dry hol 
lows of the cliffs, and the dank recesses of the val 
ley. The hermitess had made companionship with 
these brute tenants of the wood. The birds had 
become so familiar with her, that they seemed to heed 
her almost as little as if she had been a stone. The 



290 LKTTERS BIOGRAPHIC A.I., 

fox fearlessly pursued his hunt and his gambols in 
her presence. The rattlesnake hushed his monitory 
signal as he approached her. Such things, at least, 
were entertained by the popular belief. It was said, 
indeed, that she had domesticated a particular rattle 
snake, and that he paid her daily visits. She was 
accustomed so said the legend to bring him milk 
from the villages, which he devoured with great relish. 
It will not surprise you that a subject like this 
should have given rise to one of my first poetical ef 
forts the first verses, in fact, that I ever published. 
I gave them to Brainard, then editor of the Mirror, 
at Hartford, and he inserted them, probably about the 
year 1823. I have not a copy of them, and can onlv 
recollect the following stanzas : 

For many a year the mountain hag 

Was a theme of village wonder, 
For she made her home in the dizzy crag, 

Where the eagle bore his plunder. 

Up the beetling cliff she was seen at night 

Like a ghost to glide away ; 
But she came again with the morning light, 

From the forest wild and gray. 

Her face was wrinkled, and passionless seem'd, 

As her bosom, all blasted and dead 
And her colorless eye like an icicle gleam'd, 

Yet 110 sorrow or sympathy shed. 

Her long snowy locks, as the winter drift, 

On the wind were backward cast ; 
And her shrivel'd form glided by so swift, 

You had said 'twere a ghost that pass'd. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 297 

Her house was a cave in a giddy rock, 

That o'erhung a lonesome vale ; 
And 'twas deeply scarr'd by the lightning's shock, 

And swept by the vengeful gale. 

As alone on the cliff she musingly sate 

The fox at her fingers would snap ; 
The crow would sit on her snow-white pate, 

And the rattlesnake coil in her lap. 

The night-hawk look'd down with a welcome eye, 

As he stoop'd in his airy swing; 
And the haughty eagle hover'd so nigh, 

As to fan her long locks with his wing. 

But when winter roll'd dark his sullen wave, 

From the west with gusty shock, 
Old Sarah, deserted, crept cold to her cave, 

And slept without bed in her rock. 

No fire illumined her dismal den, 

Yet a tatter'd Bible she read ; 
For she saw in the dark with a wizard ken, 

And talk'd with the troubled dead. 

And often she mutter'd a foreign name, 

With curses too fearful to tell, 
And a tale of horror of madness and shame 

She told to the walls of her cell ! 

I insert these lines not as claiming any praise, nor 
as rigidly accurate in the delineation of their subject 
but as a sketch of the impressions she made upon 
the public mind, vividly reflected by my own im 
agination. 

The facts in respect to this Nun of the Mountain 
were indeed strange enough without any embellish- 

1 ?,* 



298 LKTTKR3 BIOGRAPHICAL, 

ments of fancy. During the winter she was confined 
for several mpuths to her cell. At that period she 
lived upon roots and nuts, which she had laid in for 
the season. She had no fire, and, deserted even by 
her brute companions, she was absolutely alone, 
save that she seemed to hold communion with the 
invisible world. She appeared to have no sense of 
solitude, no weariness at the slow lapse of days and 
months : night had no darkness, the tempest no 
terror, winter no desolation, for her. When spring 
returned, she came down from her mountain, a mere 
shadow each year her form more bent, her limbs 
more thin and wasted, her hair more blanched, her 
eye more colorless. At last life seemed ebbing away 
like the faint light of a lamp, sinking into the socket. 
The final winter came it passed, and she was not 
seen in the villages around. Some of the inhabitants 
went to the mountain, and found her standing erect, 
her feet sunk in the frozen marsh of the valley. In 
this situation, being unable, as it appeared, to extri 
cate herself alone, yet not alone she had yielded 
her breath to Him who gave it ! 

The early history of this strange personage was 
involved in some mystery. So much as this, how 
ever, was ascertained, that she was of good family, and 
lived on Long Island. During the Eevolutionary war 
in one of the numerous forays of the British soldiers 
her father's house was burned ; and, as if this were 
not enough, she was made the victim of one of those 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 29tf 

demoniacal acts, which in peace are compensated by 
the gibbet, but which, in war, embellish the life of 
the soldier. Desolate in fortune, blighted at heart, 
she fled from human .society, and for a long time con 
cealed her sorrows in the cavern which she had acci 
dentally found. Her grief softened by time, per 
haps alleviated by a vail of insanity was at length 
so far mitigated, that, although she did not seek 
human society, she could endure it. The shame 
of her maidenhood if not forgotten was obliter 
ated by her rags, her age, and her grisly visage in 
which every gentle trace of her sex had disappeared. 
She continued to occupy her cave till the year 1810 
or 1811, when she departed, in the manner I have 
described, and we may hope, for a brighter and hap 
pier existence. 



LETTER XX. 

A Lfing Farewell A Return Rldgefteld as it is The Past and Present 
Compared. 

MY DEAR C****** 

In the autumn of 1808 an event occurred which 
suddenly gave a new direction to my life, and took me 
from Kidgefield, never to return to it, but as a visitor. 
My narrative is therefore 'about to take a final leave 
of my birthplace, but before I say farewell, let me 
give you a hasty sketch of it, as it now is or as jt 



300 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

appeared to me last summer after a long absence. 
My brother had set out with me to pay it a visit, but 
at New Haven he was taken ill, and returned to his 
home at Hartford. I pursued my journey, and a few 
days after, gave him a rapid sketch of my observa 
tions, in a letter which I beg leave here to copy. 



YOEK, August 20, 1855. 
DEAR BROTHER : 

I greatly regret that you could not continue your journey 
with us to Ridgefield. The weather was fine, and the season 
crowning the earth with ahnndance made every landscape 
beautiful. The woods which, as you know, abound along the 
route, spread their intense shade over the land, thus mitigating 
the heat of the unclouded sun ; and the frequent fields of Indian 
corn, with their long leaves and silken tassels, all fluttering in the 
breeze, gave a sort of holiday-look to the scene. Of all agri 
cultural crops this is the most picturesque and the most impo 
sing. Let others magniloquize upon the vineyards of France 
and the olive orchards of Italy ; I parted with these scenes a few 
weeks since, and do not hesitate to say, that, as a spectacle to the 
eye, our maize fields are infinitely superior. Leaving New Haven 
by rail, we reached Norwalk In forty minutes ; an hour after we 
were at Ridgefield having journeyed three miles by stage, from 
the Danbury and Norwalk station, Thus we performed a jour 
ney, in less than two hours, which cost a day's travel in our 
boyhood. You can well comprehend that we had a good time 
of it. 

As I approached the town, I began to recognize localities 
roads, houses, and hills. I was in a glow of excitement, for it 
was nineteen years since I had visited the place, and there was 
a mixture of the strange and familiar all around, which was at 
once pleasing and painful ; pleasing, because it revived many 
cherished memories, and painful, because it suggested that time 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTICAL, ETC. 301 

\s a tomb, into which man and his works are ever plunging, like 
a stream flowing on, only to disappear in an unfathomable gulf. 
The bright village of to-day is in fact the graveyard of the past 
generation. I was here like one risen from the dead, and come 
to look on the place which I once knew, but which I shall soon 
know no more. All seemed to me a kind of dream half real 
and hall' imaginary now presenting some familiar and cherished 
remembrance, and now mocking me with strange and baffling 
revelations. 

Nevertheless, all things considered, I enjoyed the scene. The 
physiognomy of the town a swelling mound of hills, rising in 
a crescent of mountains was all as I had learned it by heart in 
childhood. To the north, the bending line of Aspen Ledge ; to 
the east, the Eedding Hills ; to the west, the Highlands of the 
Hudson; to the south, the sea of forest-crowned undulations, 
sloping down to Long Island Sound, all in a cool but brilliant 
August sun, and all tinted with intense verdure, presented a 
scene to me the pilgrim returning to his birthplace of unri 
valed interest. 

In general the- whole country seemed embowered in trees- 
fresh and exuberant, and strongly in contrast with the worn-out 
lands of the old countries with openings here and there upon 
hillside and valley, consisting of green meadow, or pasture, or 
blooming maize, or perhaps patches of yellow stubble, for the 
smaller grains had been already harvested. As I came within 
the precincts of the village, I could not but admire the fields, as 
well on account of their evident richness of soil and excellent 
cultivation, as their general neatness. The town, you know, was 
originally blessed or cursed, as the case may be, by a most abun 
dant crop of stones. To clear the land of these was the Hercu 
lean task of the early settlers. For many generations, they 
usurped the soil, obstructed the plow, dulled the scythe, and 
now, after ages of labor, they are formed into sturdy walls, 
neatly laid, giving to the entire landscape au aspect not only 
of comfort, but refinement. In our day, these were rudely 



302 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

piled up with frequent breaches the tempting openings for 
vagrant sheep, and loose, yearling cattle. No better evidence 
can be afforded of a general progress and improvement, than 
that most of these have been relaid with something of the art 
and nicety of mason-work. The Mat Olmsteads and Azor Smiths 
of the past half century, who laid stone wall for Granther Bald 
win and General King at a dollar a rod, would be amazed to see 
that the succeeding generation has thrown their works aside in 
disgust, and replaced them by constructions having somewhat, 
of the solidity and exactitude of fortifications. 

As we passed along, I observed that nearly all the houses which 
existed when we were boys, had given place to new, and for the 
most part larger, structures. Here and there was an original 
dwelling. A general change had passed over the land : swamps 
had been converted into meadows ; streams that sprawled across 
the path, now flowed tidily beneath stone bridges ; little shallow- 
ponds the haunts of muddling geese had disappeared: the un 
dergrowth of woods and copses had been cleared away ; briers 
and brambles, once thick with fruit,.or abounding in birds'-neste, 
or perchance the hiding-place of snakes, had been extirpated, 
and corn and potatoes flourished in their stead. In one place, 
where 1 recollected to have unearthed a woodchuck, I saw a gar 
den, and among its redolent pumpkins, cucumbers, and cabbages, 
was a row of tomatoes a plant which in my early days was 
only known as a strange exotic, producing little red balls, which 
bore the enticing name of love-apples ! 

At last we came into the main street. This is the same yet 
not the same. Ah 1 the distances seemed less than as I had 
marked them in my memory. From the meeting-house to 
'Squire Keeler's which I thought to be a quarter of a mile it is 
but thirty rods. At the same time the undulations seemed more 
frequent and abrupt. The old houses are mostly gone, and more 
sumptuous ones are in their place. A certain neatness and ele 
gance have succeeded to the plain and primitive characteristics 
of other days. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 303 

The street, on the whole, is one of the most beautiful I know 
of. It is more than a mile in length and a hundred and twenty 
feet in width, ornamented with two continuous lines of trees 
elms, sycamores, and sugar-maples save only here and there a 
brief interval. Some of these, in front of the more imposing 
houses, are truly majestic. The entire street is carpeted with a 
green sod, soft as velvet to the feet. The high-road runs in the 
middle, with a foot -walk on either side. These passages are not 
paved, but are covered with gravel, and so neatly cut, that they 
appear like pleasure-grounds. All is so bright and so tasteful 
that you might expect to see some imperative sign-board, warn 
ing you, on peril of the law, not to tread upon the grass. Yet, 
as I learned, all this embellishment flows spontaneously from 
the choice of the people, and not from police regulations. 

The general aspect of the street, however, let me observe, is 
not sumptuous, like Hartford and New Haven, or even Fair- 
field. There is still a certain quaintness and primness about the 
place. Here and there you see old respectable houses, showing 
the dim vestiges of ancient paint, while the contiguous gardens, 
groaning with rich fruits and vegetables, and the stately rows of 
elms in front, declare it to be taste, and not necessity, that thus 
cherishes the reverend hue of unsophisticated clapboards, and the 
venerable rust with which time baptizes unprotected shingles. 
There is a stillness about the town which lends favor to this char 
acteristic of studied rusticity. There is no fast driving, no shout 
ing, no railroad whistle for you must remember that the station 
of the Danbury and Norwalk line is three miles off. Few peo 
ple are to be seen in the streets, and those who do appear move 
with an air of leisure and tranquillity. It would seem dull and 
almost melancholy were it not that all around is so thrifty, so 
tidy, so really comfortable. Houses white or brown with 
green window-blinds, and embowered in lilacs and fruit-trees, 
and seen beneath the arches of wide-spreading American elms 
the finest of the whole elm family can never be otherwise than 
cheerful. 



30-i LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

I went ot course to the old Keeler tavern, for lodgings. The 
sign was gone, and thongh the house retained its ancient form, 
it was so neatly painted, and all around had such a look of 
repose, that I feared it had ceased from its ancient hospitalities. 
I, however, went to the door and rapped : it was locked ! A 
bad sign, thought I. Ere long, however, a respectable dame ap 
peared, turned the key, and let me in. It was Anne Keeler 
converted into Mrs. Ressequie. Had it been her mother, I should 
only have said that she had grown a little taller and more dig 
nified : as it was, the idea crossed iny mind 

" Fanny was younger once than she is now !" 

But it seemed to me that her matronly graces fully compensated 
for all she might have lost of earlier pretensions. She looked at 
me gazingly, as if she half knew me. She was about inquiring 
my name, when I suggested that she might call me Smith, and 
begged her to tell me if she could give me lodgings. She replied 
that they did sometimes receive strangers, though they did not 
keep a tavern. I afterward heard that the family was rich, 
and that it was courtesy more than cash, which induced them 
to keep up the old habit of the place. I was kindly received, 
though at first as a stranger. After a short time I was found out, 
and welcomed as a friend. What fragrant butter, what white 
bread, what delicious succotash they gave me ! And as to the 
milk it was just such as cows gave fifty years ago, and upon the 
slightest encouragement positively produced an envelope of gold 
en cream ! Alas 1 how cows have degenerated especially in the 
great cities of the earth, in New York, London, or Paris it is all 
the same. He who wishes to eat with a relish that the Astor 
House or Morley's or the Grand Hotel du Louvre can not give, 
should go to Ridgefield, and put himself under the care of Mrs. 
Ressequie. If he be served, as I was, by her daughter a thing, 
however, that I can not promise he may enjoy a lively and pleas 
ant conversation while he discusses his meal. When you go there 
as go you must do not forget, to order ham and eggs, for they 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC A L, ETC. 305 

are such as we ate in our childhood not a mass of red leather 
steeped in grease, and covered with a tough, bluish gum as 
is now the fashion in these things. As to blackberry and huc 
kleberry pies, and similar good gifts, you will find them just such 
as our mother made fifty years ago, when these bounties of Prov 
idence were included in the prayer " Give us this day our daily 
bread," and were a worthy answer to such a petition. 

Immediately after my arrival, waiting only to deposit my 
carpet-bag in my room, I set out to visit our house our former 
home. As I came near I saw that the footpath we had worn 
across Deacon Benedict's lot to shorten the Distance from the 
street, had given place to a highway. I entered this, and was 
approaching the object of my visit, when I was overtaken by 
a young man, walking with a long stride. 

" Whose house is this on the hill ?" said I. 

" It is mine," was the reply. 

" Indeed ; you must have a fine view from your upper win 
dows?" 

" Yes, the view is famous, and the house itself is somewhat 
noted. It was built by Peter Parley, and here he lived many 
years !" 

By this time we had reached the place. The strauger, after 
I had looked at the premises a few moments, said, " Perhaps you 
would like to ascend the hill to the north, from which the view 
is very extensive?" I gave assent, and we went thither soon 
finding ourselves in the old Keeler lot, on the top of High Eidge, 
bo familiar to our youthful rambles. With all the vividness of my 
early recollections, I really had no adequate idea of the beauty of 
the scene, as now presented to us. The circle of view was indeed 
less than I had imagined, for I once thought it immense ; but 
tl>* objects were more striking, more vividly tinted, more pic 
turesquely disposed. Long Island Sound, which extends for sixty 
miles before the eye, except as it is hidden here and there by 
intercepting hills mid trees, seems nearer than it did to the inex 
erieMccd vi--ii>ii <>;'in c.hiMhnud. I could distinuish the dilfer- 



306 LETTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

ent kinds of vessels on the water, and the island itself stretch 
ed out in a long blue line beyond presented its cloud-like tis 
sues of forest, alternating with patches of yellow sandbanks along 
the shore. I could distinctly indicate the site of Norwalk ; and 
the spires peering through the mass of trees to the eastward, 
spoke suggestively of the beautiful towns and villages that line 
the northern banks of the Sound. 

West Mountain seemed nearer and less imposing than I had 
imagined, but the sea of mountains beyond, terminating in the 
Highlands of the Hudson, more than fullilled my remembrances. 
The scene has no abrupt and startling grandeur from this point 
of view, but in that kind of beauty which consists in blending 
the peace and quietude of cultivated valleys with the sublimity 
of mountains all in the enchantment of distance, and all man 
tled with the vivid hues of summer it equals the fairest scenes in 
Italy. The deep blue velvet which is thrown over our northern 
landscapes, differs indeed from the reddish-purple of the Apen 
nines, but it is in all things as poetic, as stimulating to the imagi 
nation, as available to the painter, as suggestive to the poet to 
all, indeed, who feel and appreciate the truly beautiful. As I 
gazed upon this lovely scene, how did the memories of early days 
come back, clothed in the romance of childhood ! I had then 
no idea of distance beyond these mountains ; no conception of 
landscape beauty, no idea of picturesque sublimity that sur 
passed what was familiar to me here. Indeed, all my first 
measures of grandeur and beauty, in nature, were formed upon 
these glorious models, now before me. How often have I stood 
upon this mound, at the approach of sunset, and gazed in speech 
less wonder upon yonder mountains, glowing as they were in the 
flood of sapphire which was then poured upon them ! I pray you 
to excuse my constant reference to foreign lands ; but as I have 
just left them, it is natural to make comparisons with these ob 
jects, familiar to my childhood. Let me say, then, that no sunsets 
surpass our own in splendor, nor have I seen any thing to equal 
them in brilliancy, when the retiring orb of day, as if to shed 



HISTORICAL, ANECPOTICAL, ETC. 307 

glory upon his departure, pours his rays upon the outstretched 
fleece of clouds, and these reflect their blaze upon the mountain 
landscape, below. Then, for a brief space, as you know, the 
heavens seem a canopy of burnished gold, and the earth beneath 
a kingdom robed in purple velvet, and crowned with rubies 
and sapphires. In Italy, the sunset sky has its enchantments, 
but while these perhaps surpass the same exhibitions of- nature 
in our climate, in respect to a certain tranquil softness and ex 
quisite blending of rainbow hues, they are still inferior, in gor 
geous splendor, to the scenes which I have been describing. 

Having taken a hasty but earnest view of the grand panora 
ma of High Ridge, I returned with my guide to the house. I 
feigned thirst, and begged a glass of water. This was readily 
given, and I tasted once more the nectar of our " old oaken 
bucket." After glancing around, and making a few observa 
tions, I thanked my attendant for his courtesy who, by the 
way, had no suspicion that I knew the place as well as him 
self and took my leave, and returned to the hotel. My emo 
tions upon thus visiting our early home so full of the liveliest 
associations it would be utterly in vain to attempt to describa 

It was now Saturday evening, which I spent quietly with my 
host and his family, in talking over old times. In the morning I 
rose early, for it seemed a sin to waste such hours as these. 
Standing on the northern stoop of the Keeler tavern, I looked 
upon the beautiful landscape bounded by the Redding and Dan- 
bury hills, and saw the glorious march of morning over the scene. 
The weather was clear, and the serenity of the Sabbath was in 
the breath of nature : even the breezy morn soon subsided into 
stillness, as if the voice of God hallowed it. The birds seemed to 
know that He rested on this seventh day. As the sun came up, 
ttie fluttering leaves sank into repose : no voice of lowing herd 
)r baying hound broke over the hills. All was silent and motion- 
ess in the street : every thing seemed to feel that solemn com 
mand Remember the Sabbath-day! save only a strapping 
Shanghai cock in Mr. Lewis's yard over the way, which strut- 



L:-;JV::;:S :n 01: \ \ nir AI. 

ted, crowed, and chased the hens like a very Mormon evi 
dently caring for none of these things. 

At nine o'clock the first bell rang. The first stroke told me 
that it was not the same to which my childish ear was accus 
tomed. Upon inquiry, I learned that on a certain Fourth of July, 
some ten years back, it was rung so merrily as to be cracked ! 
Had any one asked me who was likely to have done this, 1 

should have said J . . . . H , and he indeed it was. With 

a good-will, however, quite characteristic of him, he caused it 
to be replaced by a new one, and though its tone is deeper, and 
even more melodious than the old one, I felt disappointed, and 
a shade of sadness came over my mind. 

On going into the meeting-house, I found it to be totally 
changed. The pulpit, instead of being at the west, was at the 
north, and the galleries had been transposed to suit this new 
arrangement. The Puritan pine color of the pews had given 
way to white paint. The good old oaken floor was covered bj 
Kidderminster carpets. The choir, instead of being distributed 
into four parts, and placed on different sides of the gallery, was 
all packed together in a heap. Instead of Deacon Hawley for 
chorister, there was a young man who " knew not Joseph," and 
in lieu of a pitch-pipe to give the key, there was a melodeon to 
lead the choir. Instead of Hear, Old Hundred, Aylesbury, Mont 
gomery, or New Durham songs full of piety and pathos, and in 
which the whole congregation simultaneously joined they sang 
modern tunes, whose name and measure I did not know. The 
performance was artistic and skillful, but it seemed to lack the 
unction of a hearty echo from the bosom of the assembly, as was 
the saintly custom among the fathers. 

The congregation was no less changed than the place itself, for 
remember, I had not been in this building for live and forty years. 
The patriarchs of my boyhood Deacon Olmstead, Deacon Ben 
edict, Deacon Hawley, Granther Baldwin, 'Squire Keeler, Nathan 
Smith -were not there, nor were their types in their places. A 
few gray-haired men I saw, having dim and fleeting semblances 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 

to these Anakims of my youthful imagination, but who they 
were, I conld not tell. I afterward heard that most of them 
were the companions of my early days, now grown to manhood 
and bearing the impress of their parentage blent with vestiges 
of their youth thus at once inciting and baffling my curiosity. 
For the most part, however, the assembly was composed of a 
new generation. In several instances I felt a strange sort of 
embarrassment as to whether the person I saw was the boy 
grown up or the papa grown down. It produces a very odd 
confusion of ideas to realize in an old man before you, the play 
mate of your childhood, whom you had forgotten for forty years, 
but who in that time has been trudging along in life, at the same 
pace as yourself. At first, every thing looked belittled, degen 
erated in dimensions. The house seemed small, the galleries low, 
the pulpit mean. The people appeared Lilliputian. These im 
pressions soon passed off, and I began to recognize a few per 
sons around me. William Hawley is just as you would have 
expected ; his hair white as snow, his countenance mild, refined, 
cheerful, though marked with threescore and ten. Irad Haw- 
ley, though he has his residence in "Fifth Avenue," spends his 
summers here, and begins now to look like his father the deacon. 
I thought I discovered Gen. King in an erect and martial form 
in one of the pews, but it proved to be his son Joshua who 
now occupies the family mansion, and worthily stands at the 
head of the house. As I came out of church, I was greeted 
with many hearty shakes of the hand, but in most cases I 
could with difficulty remember those who thus claimed recog 
nition. 

The discourse was very clever, and thoroughly orthodox, as 
it should be, for I found that the Confession and Covenant of 
1750 were still in force, just as our father left them. Even the 
eleventh article stands as it was " You believe that there will 
be a resurrection of the dead, and a day of judgment, in which 
God will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ ; when 
the righteous shall be acquitted and received to eternal life, and 



MlU LKTTKR3 BIOGRAPHICAL, 

the wicked shall bo sentenced to everlasting fire, prepared for 
the devil and his angels." 

I was, I confess, not a little shocked to hear the account the 
minister gave of the church members, for he declared that they 
were full of evil thoughts envy, jealousy, revenge, and all un- 
charitableness. He said he knew all about it, and could testify 
that they were a great deal worse than the world in general be 
lieved, or conceived them to be. Indeed, he affirmed that it 
took a real experimental Christian to understand how totally 
depraved they were. I was consoled at finding that this was 
not the settled minister Mr. Clark but a missionary, accus 
tomed to preach in certain lost places in that awful Babylon, 
called New York. Perhaps the sermon was adapted to the 
people it was designed for, but it seemed ill suited to the 
latitude and longitude of such a quaint, primitive parish as 
liidgefield, which is without an oyster-cellar, a livery stable, a 
grog-shop, a lawyer, a broker, a drunkard, or a profane swearer. 

This circumstance reminded me of an itinerant Boanerges, 
who, in his migrations, half a century ago, through western New 
York, was requested to prepare a sermon to be preached at the 
execution of an Indian, who had been convicted of murder, and 
was speedily to be hung. This he complied with, but the con 
vict escaped, and the ceremony did not take place. The preacher, 
however, not liking to have so good a thing lost, delivered it the 
next Sabbath to a pious congregation in the Western Reserve, 
where he chanced to be stating that it was composed for a 
hanging, but as that did not take place, he would preach it now, 
presuming that it would be found appropriate to the occasion ! 

In the afternoon we had a begging sermon from a young con 
verted Jew, who undertook to prove that his tribe was the most 
interesting in the world, and their conversion the first step to 
ward the millennium. After the sermon they took up a contri 
bution to aid him in getting an education ; he also sold a little 
story-book of his conversion at twelve and a half cents a copy, 
for the benefit of his converted sister. I have no objection to 



HISTORICAL, AXECDOTICAL, KTC. 311 

Jews, converted or unconverted, but I must say that ray reve 
rence for the house of God is such that I do not like to hear 
there the chink of copper, which generally prevails in a contri- 
bntion-box. Even that of silver and gold has no melody for 
me, in such a place. It always reminds me painfully of those 
vulgar pigeon dealers who were so summarily and so properly 
scourged out of the Temple. 

The old dilapidated Episcopal church, which you remember 
on the main street a church not only without a bishop, but 
without a congregation has given place to a new edifice and 
stated services, with a large and respectable body of worshipers. 
The Methodists, who were wont to assemble, fifty years ago, in 
Dr. Baker's kitchen, have put up a new house, white and bright, 
and crowded every Sabbath with attentive listeners. This church 
numbers two hundred members, and is the largest in the place. 
Though, in its origin, it seemed to thrive upon the outcasts of 
society its people are now as respectable as those of any other 
religious society in the town. No longer do they choose to 
worship in barns, schoolhouses, and byplaces : no longer do they 
affect leanness, long faces, and loose, uncombed hair : no longer 
do they cherish bad grammar, low idioms, and the euphony of 
a nasal twang, in preaching. Their place of worship is in good 
taste and good keeping: their dress is comely, and in the 
fashion of the day. The preacher is a man of education, refine 
ment, and dignity, and he and the Rev. Mr. Clark our father's 
successor exchange pulpits, and call each other brother ! Has 
not the good time come ? 

On Monday morning, I took a wide range over the town with 
Joshua King, who, by the way, is not only the successor, but in 
some things the repetition of his father. He represents him ip 
person as I have already intimated and has many of his qual 
itiea. He has remodeled the grounds around the old family man 
eion, amplifying and embellishing them with much judgment 
The house itself is unchanged, except by paint and the introduc 
tion of certain articles of furniture and tasteful decorations tes- 



Z 12 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

timonials of the proprietor's repeated visits to Europe. Here, 
being a bachelor, he has gathered some of his nieces, and 
here he receives the members of the King dynasty down to the 
third generation all seeming to regard it as the Jerusalem of 
the family. The summer gathering is delightful, bringing hither 
the refinements of the best society of New York, Philadelphia, 
and other places. Here I spent some pleasant hours, meeting, 
of course, many of the neighbors, who came to see me with al 
most as much curiosity as if I had been the veritable Joyce 
Heth. 

In all parts of the town I was struck with the evidences of 
change gentle, gradual, it is true but still bespeaking the 
lapse of half a century. Along the main street, the general 
outline of things is the same, but, in detail, all is trans 
formed, or at least modified. Most of the old houses have 
disappeared, or have undergone such mutations as hardly to 
be recognized. New and more expensive edifices are scat 
tered here and there. If you ask who are the proprietors, 
you will be told Dr. Perry, Joshua King, Nathan Smith 
but they are not those whom we knew by these names 
they are their sons, perhaps their grandsons. Master Steb- 
bins's schoolhouse is swept away, and even the pond across 
the road the scene of many a school-day frolic is evaporated ! 
I am constantly struck with the general desiccation which has 
passed over the place ; many of the brooks, which formed our 
winter skating and sliding places, have vanished. I looked in 
vain for the pool back of Deacon John Benedict's house 
which I always imagined to be the scene of the ballad : 

" What shall we have for dinner, Mrs. Bond! 
There's beef in the larder and ducks iu the pond: 

Dill, dill, dill, dill, dilled, 

Come here and be killed !" 

Col. Bradley's house, that seemed once so awful and so exclu 
sive, is now a dim, rickety, and tenantless edifice, for sale, with 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 313 

all its appurtenances, for twenty-five hundred dollars ! Is it 
not strange to see this once proud tenement, the subject of 
blight and decay, and that too in the midst of general prosper 
ity? Nor is this all: it has just been the subject of a degra 
ding hoax. I must tell you the story, for it will show you that 
the march of progress has invaded even Ridgefield. 

About three days since there appeared in the village, a man 
claiming to be the son-in-law of George Law. In a mysterious 
manner he agreed to buy the Bradley estate. With equal mys 
tery, he contracted to purchase several other houses in. the 
vicinity. It then leaked out that a grand speculation was on 
foot : there was to be a railroad through Ridgefield ; the town 
was to be turned into a city, and a hotel, resembling the Astor 
House, was to take the place of the old dilapidated shell now 
upon the Bradley premises! An electric feeling soon ran 
through the village ; speculation began to swell in the bosom 
of society. Under this impulse, rocks rose, rivers doubled, 
hills mounted, valleys oscillated. This sober town anchored 
in everlasting granite, having defied the shock of ages now 
trembled in the hysterical balance of trade. 

Two days passed, and the bubble burst ; the puflf-ball was 
punctured ; the sham son-in-law of George Law was discovered 
to be a lawless son of a pauper of Danbury. All his operations 
were in fact a hoax. At twelve o'clock on Saturday night he 
was seized, and taken from his bed by an independent corps 
under Capt. Lynch. They tied him fast to a buttonwood-tree 
in the main street, called the Liberty Pole. 

" No man e'er felt the halter draw, 
In good opinion of the law :" 

At all events, the prisoner deemed it a great incongruity to use 
an institution consecrated to the rights of man and the cause of 
freedom, for the purpose of depriving him of the power to seek 
happiness in his own way; so about ten o'clock on Sunday 
morning finding it unpleasant to be hi this situation while the 
VOL. I. 14 



314 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

people went by, shaking their heads, on their way to church 
he managed to get out his penknife, cut his cords, and make a 
bee-line for South Salem. 

Farther on, proceeding northward, I found that Dr. Baker's 
old house its kitchen the cradle of Ridgefield Methodism had 
departed, and two or three modern edifices were near its site. 
Master Stebbins's house* from its elevated position at the head 
of the street, seeming like the guardian genius of the place still 
stands, venerable alike from its dun complexion, its antique 
form, and its historical remembrances. Its days may be set at 
a hundred years, and hence it is an antiquity in our brief chro 
nology. It almost saw the birth of Ridgefield : it has probably 
looked down upon the building of every other edifice in the street. 
It presided over the fight of 1777. Close by, Arnold's horse was 
shot under him, and he, according to tradition, made a flying 
leap over a six-barred gate, and escaped. Near its threshold 
the British cannon was planted, which sent a ball into the north 
eastern corner-post of 'Squire Keeler's tavern, and which, cov 
ered up by a sliding shingle, as a relic too precious for the open 
air, is still to be seen there. 

The old house I found embowered in trees some, primeval 
elms, spreading their wide branches protectingly over the roof, 
stoop, and foreground ; others sugar-maples, upright, symmetri 
cal, and deeply verdant, as is the wont of these beautiful children 
of our American forest. Other trees apples, pears, peaches, and 
plums, bending with fruit occupied the orchard grounds back of 
the house. The garden at the left seemed a jubilee of tomatoes, 
beets, squashes, onions, cucumbers, beans, and pumpkins. A 
vine of the latter had invaded a peach-tree, and a huge oval 
pumpkin, deeply ribbed, and now emerging from its bronze hue 
into a golden yellow, swung aloft as if to proclaim the victory. 
By the porch was a thick clambering grape-vine, presenting iw 



* For an engraving of this building, see Lossing's Field Book, vol 
i p. 409. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, ETC. 315 

purple bunches almost to your mouth, as you entered the door. 
T knocked, and Anne Stebbins, my former schoolmate, let me 
in. She was still a maiden, in strange contrast to the prolific 
and progressive state of all around. She did not know me, but 
when I told her how I once saw her climb through the open 
ing in the schoolhouse wall, overhead, and suggested the blue- 
mixed hue of her stockings she rallied, and gave me a hearty 
welcome. 

You will no doubt, in some degree, comprehend the feelings 
with which I rambled over these scenes of our boyhood, and you 
will forgive, if you can not approve, the length of this random 
epistle. I will trespass but little further upon your patience. 
I must repeat, that the general aspect of the town, in respect to 
its roads, churches, houses, lands all show a general progress 
in wealth, taste, and refinement. Nor is this advance in civili 
zation merely external. William Hawley a most competent 
judge, as he has been the leading merchant of the place for forty 
years mentioned some striking evidences of this. At the be 
ginning of this century, most of the farmers were in debt, and 
a large part of their lands were under mortgage : now not four 
farms in the place are thus encumbered. Then it was the custom 
for the men to spend a good deal of their time, and especially in 
winter, at the stores and taverns, in tippling and small gambling. 
This practice has ceased. Drunkenness, profane swearing, Sab 
bath-breaking, noisy night rows, which were common, are now 
almost wholly unknown. There are but two town paupers, and 
these are not indigenous. Education is better, higher in its stand 
ard, and is nearly universal. Ideas of comfort in the modes of life 
are more elevated, the houses are improved, the furniture is more 
convenient and more abundant. That religion has not lost its 
hold on the conscience, is evident from the fact that three flour 
ishing churches exist ; that the duties of patriotism are not for 
gotten, is evinced by a universal attendance at the polls on 
election days ; at the same time it is clear that religious and po 
litical discussions have lost their acerbity thus leaving the feel- 



310 LETTERS BIOGR APHIC AL, 

ing of good neighborhood more general, and the tone of human 
ity in all tilings more exalted. 

Is there not encouragement, hope, in these things for Ridge- 
field is not alone in this forward march of society ? It is in the 
general tide of prosperity economical, social, and moral but 
%n example of what has been going on all over New England 
perhaps over the whole country. We hear a great deal of the 
iniquities in the larger cities ; but society even there, is not 
worse than formerly : these places their houses, streets, prisons, 
brothels are exhausted, as by an air-pump, of all their doings, 
good and bad, and the seething mass of details is doled out day 
after day, by the penny press, to appease the hunger and thirst 
of society for excitement. Thus, what was once hidden is now 
thrown open, and seems multiplied and magnified by a dozen 
powerful lenses each making the most of it, and seeking to 
outdo all others in dressing up the show for the public taste. 
If you will make the comparison, you will see that, now, tip 
ping over an omnibus, or the foundering of a ferry-boat, takes 
up more space in a newspaper, than did six murders or a 
dozen conflagrations fifty years ago. Then the world's do 
ings could be dispatched in a weekly folio of four pages, with 
pica type ; now they require forty pages of brevier, every day. 
Our population is increased doubled, quadrupled, if you please 
but the newspaper press has enlarged its functions a thousand 
fold. It costs more paper and print to determine whether a po 
liceman of New York, was born in England or the United States, 
than are usually consumed in telling the story of the Revolution 
ary war. This institution the Press has, in fact, become a 
microscope and a mirror seeing all, magnifying ah 1 , reflecting 
all until at last it requires a steady brain to discover in its shift 
ing and passing panoramas, the sober, simple truth. So far as 
the subject of which I am writing is concerned, I am satisfied 
that if our cities seem more corrupt than formerly, it is only in 
appearance and not in reality. If we hear more about the vices 
of society, it is because, in the first place, things are more ex- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 317 

posed to the public view, and in the next place, the moral stand 
ards are higher, and hence these evils are made the subject of 
louder and more noticeable comment. These obvious sugges 
tions will solve whatever difficulty there may be in adopting my 
conclusions. 

But however the fact may be as to our larger cities, it can 
not be doubted that all over New England, at least, there has 
been a quiet, but earnest and steady march of civilization es 
pecially within the last forty years. The war of 1812 was dis 
astrous to our part of the country ; disastrous, I firmly believe, 
to our whole country. In New England it checked the natural 
progress of society, it impoverished the people, it debased their 
manners, it corrupted their hearts. Let others vaunt the glory 
of war ; I shall venture to say what I have seen and known. 
We have now had forty years of peace, and the happy ad 
vances I have noticed bringing increased light and comfort 
in at every door, rich or poor, to bless the inhabitants are its 
legitimate fruits. The inherent tendency of our New England 
society is to improvement : give us peace, give us tranquillity, 
and with the blessing of God we shall continue to advance. 

You will not suppose me to say that government can do 
nothing : the prosperity of which I speak is in a great measure 
imputable to the encouragement given, for a series of years, to 
our domestic industry. When farming absorbed society, a large 
part of the year was lost, or worse than lost ; because tavern 
haunting, tippling, and gambling were the chief resources of men 
in the dead and dreary winter months. Manufactures gave 
profitable occupation during this inclement period. Formerly 
the markets were remote, and we all know, from the records of 
universal history, that farmers without the stimulus of ready 
markets, sink into indolence and indifference. The protection, 
the encouragement, the stimulating of our manufacturing and 
mechanical industry, created home markets in every valley, along 
every stream thus rousing the taste, energy, and ambition of 
the farmers within reach of these pervading influences. Ridge- 



318 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

field is not, strictly speaking, a manufacturing town ; but the 
beneficent operation of the multiplying and diversifying of the oc 
cupations of society, has reached this, as it has every other town 
and village in the State, actually transforming the condition of 
the people, by increasing their wealth, multiplying their com 
forts, enlarging their minds, elevating their sentiments : in short, 
increasing their happiness. 

The importance of the fact I state the progress and improve 
ment of the country towns is plain, when we consider that here, 
and not in the great cities New York, or Boston, or Philadel 
phia are the hope, strength, and glory of our nation. Here, 
in the smaller towns and villages, are indeed the majority of the 
people, and here there is a weight of sober thought, just judg 
ment, and virtuous feeling, that will serve as rudder and ballast 
to our country, whatever weather may betide. 

As I have so recently traveled through some of the finest and 
most renowned portions of the European continent, I find my 
self constantly comparing the towns and villages which I see 
here with these foreign lands. One thing is clear, that there are 
in continental Europe no such country towns and villages as 
those of New England and some other portions of this country. 
Not only the exterior but the interior is totally different. The 
villages there resemble the squalid suburbs of a city : the people 
are like then* houses poor and subservient narrow in intellect, 
feeling, and habits of thought. I know twenty towns in France 
having from two to ten thousand inhabitants, where, if you ex 
cept the prefects, mayors, notaries, and a few other persons in each 
place there is scarcely a family that rises to the least independ 
ence of thought, or even a moderate elevation of character. All 
the power, all the thought, all the genius, all the expanse of in 
tellect, are centered at Paris. The blood of the country is drawn 
to this seat and center, leaving the limbs and members cold and 
pulseless "as those of a corpse. 

How different is it in this country : the life, vigor, power of 
these United States are diffused through a thousand veins 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 319 

and arteries over the whole people, every limb nourished, 
every member invigorated ! New York, Philadelphia, and Bos 
ton do not give law to this country ; that comes from the people, 
the majority of whom resemble those I have described at Ridge- 
field farmers, mechanics, manufacturers, merchants independ 
ent in their circumstances, and sober, religious, virtuous in then 
habits of thought and conduct. I make allowance for the sinister 
influence of vice, which abounds in some places ; for the debasing 
effects of demagogism in our politicians ; for the corruption of 
selfish and degrading interests, cast into the general current of 
public feeling and opinion. I admit that these sometimes make 
the nation swerve, for a time, from the path of wisdom, but the 
wandering is neither wide nor long. The preponderating na 
tional mind is just and sound, and if danger comes, it will mani 
fest its power and avert it. 

But I must close this long letter, and with it bid adieu to 
my birthplace. Farewell to Ridgefield ! Its soil is indeed 
stubborn, its climate severe, its creed rigid ; yet where is 
the landscape more smiling, the sky more glorious, the earth 
more cheering? Where is society more kindly, neighbor 
hood more equal, life more tranquil? Where is the senti 
ment of humanity higher, life more blest? Where else can you 
find two thousand country people, with the refinements of the 
city their farms unmortgaged, their speech unblemished with 
oaths, their breath uncontaminated with alcohol, their poor- 
house without a single native pauper ? 

Daniel Webster once said, jocosely, that New Hampshire is a 
good place to come from : it seems to me, in all sincerity, that 
Ridgefield is a good place to go to. Should I ever return there 
to end my days, this may be my epitaph : 

My faults forgotten, and my sins forgiven, 
Let this, my tranquil birthplace, be my grave : 

As in tny youth I deem'd it nearest heaven 
So here I give to God the breath He gave ! 

Yours ever, S. G. G. 



LKTTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

Here, my dear C . . . ., endeth the first lesson of my 
life that portion of it which pertaineth to Kidge- 
field. Peradventure this has been drawn out in such 
length as to have taxed your patience beyond endu 
rance. If such be the truth, I beg to offer as pallia 
tion, that to me these scenes, incidents, and charac 
ters simple and commonplace though they be seem 
not unworthy of being recorded, for the very reason 
that they are thus common, and therefore are repre 
sentatives of our New England village people as they 
were a brief half century ago, and as they are now. 
If as such, they present a spectacle of little interest 
I beg to suggest further, that the picture at least 
affords a means of measuring the silent but steady 
advance of society among us ; thus refuting the cal 
umnies of the misanthrope, and vindicating the hopes 
of the sincere lover of mankind. I admit that the 
scale upon which my observations are made that of 
a mere country village is small, but in proportion 
to its minuteness, is the certainty of the conclusions 
we may draw. A survey of a great city or a large 
space of country, may be deceptive from its extent 
and the complexity of its details ; but in respect to 
such a community as that I have described, it is impos 
sible to be mistaken. The progress there in wealth, 
taste, refinement, morals all that constitutes civiliza 
tion is as certain as the advance of time. Nor is 
this village an exception to the tendency of things in 
American societv: it rnav differ in the celeritv of its 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 321 

progress, but in its general experience it unquestion 
ably sympathizes with New England at large, and to 
some extent with the entire United States. 

And one thing more : if Ridgefield is thus a repre 
sentative of the New England village, I may remark 
that here the comparison ends : at least, there are no 
such villages in any portion of the Old World: none 
where the whole people are thus independent in their 
circumstances; where all are thus educated, so far as 
to be able to form just opinions upon the great ques 
tions of life, in religion, government, and morals ; 
none where the people, conscious of their power, are 
thus in the habit of forming their own opinions from 
their own reflections ; none where the majority are 
thus living on their own lands and in their own tene 
ments ; none where a general sentiment of equality 
and good neighborhood thus levels the distinctions of 
wealth and condition ; none where religion and edu 
cation, left to the free will of the people, thus fur 
nish, in the schoolhouses and the churches, the chief 
visible and permanent monuments of society. 

The view I have taken suggests also another idea, 
and that is the radical difference between the consti 
tution of things in our country and all others. In 
all . the continent of Europe, the power, genius, intel 
ligence of each country is centralized in the capital 
It is and has been, from time immemorial, the design 
of kings and princes of all dynasties, to make the 
seat of the government the focal point of light of 
14* 



322 LKTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

learning, taste, fashion, wealth, and influence. The 
Court is not only the head but the heart of the body 
politic : the country the people at large the limbs 
and members are but the subservient tools and 
instruments of the privileged orders, who rule not 
only by divine right, but first and foremost for their 
own benefit. 

In our system, this is reversed. Diffusion an 
equal distribution of power and privilege to every 
individual is the law in government and society, 
here. It is curious it is animating and cheering 
to see the eifect of this, in its tendency to raise 
all up to a respectable standard of intelligence and 
refinement. Compare the people of the villages 
of France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, or Eng 
land even, with those of Ridgefield, or any other 
of our villages, and see the amazing difference : 
the first, rude, ignorant, servile; the other, intelli 
gent, modest, manly accustomed to respect others, 
but extorting respect in return. Let any one go 
into the houses of the country mechanics and la 
borers of Europe, and he will see ignorance, squalid- 
ness, and degradation, which admits of no remedy 
and offers no hope of improvement : let him go into 
the houses of the same classes in the places to which I 
refer, and he will find intelligence, comfort, and a con 
stant, cheering, stimulating expectation of advance 
ment in their circumstances. And let it be remem 
bered that of these, and such as these the toiling 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIOAL, ETC. 323 

million the majority of all nations are composed. 
Say not, then, that I have written these light and 
hasty sketches in vain ! 



LETTER XXI. 

f \rewell to Ridgefield Farewell to Home Danbvry My new Vocation 
A Revolutionary Patriarch Life in a Country Store Homesickness 
My Brother-in-law Lawyer Hatch. 

MY DEAR C****** 

It was in the autumn of the year 1808, as I have 
intimated, that a sudden change took place in my pros 
pects. My eldest sister had married a gentleman by 
the name ofCooke, in the adjacent town of Danburv. 
He was a merchant, and being in want of a clerk, 
offered me the place. It was considered a desirable 
situation by my parents, and overlooking my me 
chanical aptitudes, they accepted it at once, and at 
the age of fifteen I found myself installed in a coun 
try store. 

This arrangement gratified my love of change, com 
mon to the young and inexperienced. At the same 
time, Danbury was a much more considerable town 
than Ridgefield, and going to live there naturally 
suggested the idea of advancement, especially as I 
was to exchange my uncertain prospects for a posi. 
tive profession. However, I little comprehended 



324 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

what it meant to say farewell to home: I have since 
learned its significance. In thus bidding adieu to 
the paternal roof, we part with youth forever words 
of mournful import, which every succeeding year, to 
the very end, impresses on the heart. We part with 
the spring-tide of life, which strews every path with 
flowers, fills the air with poetry, and the heart with 
rejoicing. We part with that genial spirit which 
endows familiar objects brooks, lawns, play-grounds, 
hillsides with its own sweet illusions : we bid adieu 
to this and its fairy companionships. Even if, in 
after life, we return to the scenes of our childhood, 
they have lost the bloom of youth, and in its place 
we see the wrinkles of that age which has graven its 
hard lines upon our hearts. 

Farewell to home implies something even yet more 
serious: we relinquish, and often with exultation, 
the tender providence of parents, in order to take upon 
ourselves the dread responsibilities of independence. 
What seeming infatuation it is, that renders us thus 
impatient of the guidance of those who gave us being, 
and who are on earth the brightest reflection of heav 
en making us at the same time anxious to spread our 
untried sails upon an untried sea, and upon a voyage 
which involves all the chances evil as well as good 
of existence. And yet it is not infatuation it is in 
stinct. We can not always be young ; we can not all 
remain under the paternal roof. The old birds push 
the young ones from the nest, and force them to a 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 325 

trial ol their wings. It is the system of nature that 
impels us to go forth and try our fortunes, and it is 
a kind Providence, after all, which thus endues us 
with courage for the outset of our uncertain career. 

I was not long in discovering that my new voca 
tion was very different from what I had expected, 
and very different from my accustomed way of life. 
My habits had been active, my employments chiefly 
abroad in the open air. I was accustomed to be fre 
quently on horseback, and to make excursions to the 
neighboring towns ; I had also enjoyed large person 
al liberty, which I failed not to use in rambling over 
the fields and forests. All this was now changed. My 
duties lay exclusively in the store, and this seemed 
now my prison. From morning to night I remained 
here, and as our business was not large, I had many 
hours upon my hands with nothing to do, but to con 
sider the weariness of my situation. My brother-in- 
law was always present, and being a man of severe 
aspect and large ubiquitous eyes, I felt a sort of re 
straint, which, for a time, was agonizing. I had con 
sequently pretty sharp attacks of homesickness, a 
disease which save that it is not dangerous is one 
of the most distressing to which suffering humanity 
is exposed. 

This state of sin and misery continued for some 
weeks, during which time I actually revolved various 
plans of escape from my confinement such as steal 
ing away at night, making my way to Norwalk, get- 



326 LETTKR8 BIOGRAPHICAL, 

ting on board a sloop, and going as cabin-boy to the 
West Indies. I am inclined to think that a small 
impulse might have set me upon some such mad ex 
pedition. By degrees, however, I became habitu 
ated to my occupation, and as my situation was eli 
gible in other respects, I found myself, ere long, 
reconciled to it. 

The father and mother of my brother-in-law were 
aged people living with him, in the same house, and 
as one family. They were persons of great amiability 
and excellence of character : the former, Col. Cooke, 
was eighty years of age, but he had still the perfect 
exercise of his faculties, and though he had ceased 
all business, he was cheerful, and took a lively inter 
est in passing events. His career* had been one of 

* Colonel Joseph Platt Cooke, son of Eev. Samuel Cooke, of Strattield, 
now Bridgeport, was one of fourteen children, and born Dec. 24, 1729, 
(old style): Nov. 22, 1759, he was married to Sarah Benedict: he died 
Feb. 3, 1816. Their children were Joseph P. Cooke, Thomas Cooke, 
Elizabeth Cooke, Daniel Benedict Cooke, and Amos Cooke the latter, 
my brother-in-law, born Oct. 11, 1773, and deceased Nov. 13, 1810. Tho 
Rev. Samuel Cooke, now (1856) of St. Bartholomew's Church, New 
York, is a son of Daniel B. Cooke, who was Judge of Probate at Dan- 
bury for a number of years. To his brother, Joseph P. Cooke, I am in 
debted for some of the following incidents. 

Col. Joseph P. Cooke graduated at Yale College in 1750. He estab 
lished himself in Danbury, and when the British, under Tryon, having 
landed at Campo. Point, on Long Island Sound, April 25, 1777, march 
ed upon that place, he was colonel of the militia there. Having advice 
of the advance of the enemy, he sent a messenger to Gen. Silliman, 
giving the information he had acquired, and asking for troops, ammu 
nition, and instructions. This messenger, coming suddenly upon the 
invading army, was fired upon, wounded, and taken prisoner. 

General Silliman, who was attached to the Connecticut militia, was 
upon his farm at Fairfield, when he heard of the British expedition. 
Ho immediately dispatched messenffers to nrouse the people, and set 



HISTORICAL, ANKCIxmCAL, ETC. 327 

great activity and usefulness. During the Revolution 
he was a colonel of the Connecticut militia, and upon 
the death of Gen. Wooster, in the retreat from Dan- 
bury, the command devolved upon him, the next in 
rank. He was greatly esteemed, not only by the com 
munity, but by the leading men of the country. He 
enjoyed the friendship and confidence of Washing 
ton, and the acquaintance of Lafayette, Rochambeau, 
and De Grasse, whom he entertained at his house. He 



out himself for Eeading. Here he was joined by the fiery Arnold and 
the experienced Wooster : altogether they had about seven hundred 
men mostly raw militia, fresh from their farms. 

So rapid was the march of the British, that the people of Danbury 
were not informed of their danger, till the enemy were within eight 
Tniles of the town. Knowing that the public stores were their object, 
and well advised of the terrors of a British marauding army, the whole 
place was a scene of the wildest confusion and alarm. Those who could 
fly, sought safety in the woods and adjacent villages, taking their wo 
men and children with them. The sick and decrepit remained, with 
u few persons to take care of them. 

There were no means of defense in the place: about a hundred and 
fifty militia, without ammunition, under Colonels Cooke and Hunting- 
ton, were there, but retired upon the approach of the enemy. Having 
marched through Weston and Reading, Tryon and his force of two 
thousand men, reached Danbury in the afternoon of the day subsequent 
to their landing. Insult to the people and conflagration of the buiMinirs, 
public and private, followed. The only houses intentionally spared by 
the enemy were those of the tories ; some other dwellings, however, 
escaped. Nineteen houses, one meeting-house, and twenty stores and 
barns, with their contents, were destroyed. 

The scenes enacted in this tragedy were in the highest degree appall 
ing. Among the articles consumed were three thousand barrels of pork. 
The fat of these ran in rivers of flame in the gutters, while the soldiers,- 
intoxicated with liquors they had procured, yelled like demons amid 
the conflagration, or reeled through the streets, or lay down, like swine, 
in by-places. It adds horror to the scene to know that a portion of the 
inhabitants of the town opened their arms to the enemy, and saw with 
rejoicing the ruin and vengeance wrought upon their friends and neigh 
bors. 



328 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

was a member of Congress under the Confederation, 
and subsequently filled the various offices of judge of 
the County Court, judge of Probate, and member of 
the Governor's council receiving for many years a 
larger popular vote than any other individual of that 
body. His style of living was liberal, and with a 
large family, settled in the neighborhood, he was like 
one of the patriarchs of old dignified, tranquil 
loving and beloved. In manner and dress, he was 



Early on the morning of the next day (Sunday, April 27), while the 
whole country around was lighted with the flames of Danbury, Tryon, 
hearing that the militia were gathering from all quarters to attack him, 
began a rapid retreat, taking the route through Ridgebury and Ridge- 
field. 

Gen. Wooster, who had been joined by Col. Cooke and his men, cross 
ing from Reading, overtook the enemy about two miles north of Ridge- 
fleld-strect. One of his aids was Stephen Rowe Bradley, afterward, 
for sixteen years, a senator of the United States from Vermont. A smart 
skirmish ensued, and forty British prisoners were taken. Unfortunate 
ly, at this critical moment, Wooster fell, fatally wounded by a bullet-shot 
in the groin. This caused a temporary panic, during which the enemy 
pushed on toward Ridgefield. Here, however, at the head of the street, 
they were met by the impetuous Arnold, who, with only two hundred 
men behind a stone wall, boldly confronted them. After a time, they 
were driven back, and the British made their way to their point of em- 
barkment. The untimely fall of Wooster probably only saved them 
from surrender, or ignominious loss and defeat. 

Among the stores burned in Danbury was that of Col. Cooke with 
a loss of one thousand pounds. The British soldiers occupied his house, 
where they had a riotous time. An old negro slave, who was left be 
hind, waited upon them, and contrived to prevent a good deal of dam 
age. When the marauders heard that the Americans were coming 
they took some bundles of straw, set the house on fire, and fled. The 
old negro put out the flames, and thus saved his master's dwelling. For 
this he had his freedom, and ever after was supported and cherished, 
with the consideration due to his conduct. 

The following original letter placed at my disposal by Mrs. Stites, 
granddaughter of Colonel Cooke not only throws some pleasing light 
upon his character, but it presents facts of the deepest and most tragic 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOT1CAL, ETC. 329 

strongly marked with the "Washingtonian era : he was 
sedate, courteous, methodical in all his ways : he 
wore breeches, knee-buckles, shoe-buckles, and a 
cocked hat, to the last. The amenity and serenity 
of his countenance and conduct, bespoke the refined 
gentleman and disciplined Christian. His wife was 
a sister of the Kev. Noah Benedict, of "Woodbury, 
and inherited the traditionary talent of that branch 
of the Benedict family. Never have I seen a more 



interest. It was written while he was at New York attending to his 
duties there as a member of Congress. 

[Letter from Colonel Oooke to his son Amos Cooke,~\ 

NEW YORK, June 3, 1785. 

MY DEAR LITTLE SON : 

Your letter of the 30th ultimo car5 safe to hand, but I had not time 
to return you an answer by the same post, and this may often happen 
by reason of my quarters being on Long Island. I am very glad to 
hear that your mamma enjoys a tolerable state of health, and I doubt not 
but that you will always be very attentive to her comfort. Should she 
in any good measure recover her strength, 1 fear she will undertake 
sotiie business which may be detrimental to her health. Whenever you 
observe any thing of that kind, I would have you suggest the thought 
to her, in a very dutiful manner, telling her that you do it at my de 
sire. Platt did very well in taking the method you mentioned for 
getting Daniel to New Haven. I hope the Society will adopt nome plan 
for going forward with building the meeting-house, for until they do, I 
wisli not to see the Courts held in Danbury. I am not, however, appre 
hensive that the Assembly will repeal the act. 

There are now six members of Congress, who board at Mr. Hunt's. 
Our accommodations are very good, and we have no rats to annoy us. 
We have been honored with a visit from the President and most of 
the members of Congress, who all admire our situation, which com 
mands a prospect of the whole city, of all the shipping in the harbor 
and on the stocks (of which there are a very considerable number, one 
of which being a ship of about three hundred tons, we saw launched 
yesterday), and of every vessel that either goes out or comes in, of 
which we se forty or fifty under sail at the same time. But amidst all 
these pleasing scenes there is something that damps our spirits, and 



330 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

pleasing spectacle than this reverend couple at the 
age of fourscore both smoking their pipes in the 
evening, with two generations around them, all look 
ing with affectionate veneration upon the patriarchal 
pair. 

My brother-in-law was a man of decided character, 
and his portrait deserves a place in these annals. He 
was graduated at Yale College, and had been qualified 
for the bar, but his health was feeble, and therefore 
chiefly for occupation he succeeded to the store 



casts a gloom over the whole. At about half a mile's distance from our 
lodgings, lies the wreck of a ship which was the Jersey Prison Ship, 
from which so many thousands of our poor countrymen, who had the 
misfortune during the late war to be taken prisoners, were thrown. I 
wish I could say buried, for then some part of the British inhumanity 
would have been concealed, but that was not the case. The banks near 
which this Prison ship lay are high and sandy. The dead bodies of our 
friends, only wrapped up in old blankets, were laid at the bottom of the 
bank, and the sand drawn over them. Soon after we came to live upon 
Long Island, several of us took a walk that way, and were struck with 
horror at beholding a large number of human bones, some fragments of 
flesh not quite consumed, with many pieces of old blankets lying upon the 
shore. In consequence of a representation made to Congress, they were 
soon after taken up and buried. But walking along the same place not 
many days ago, we saw a number more which were washed out, and at 
tempting to bury them ourselves, we found the bank full of them. 
Such conduct hasfixed.a stain upon the British character which will not 
soon be wiped off. 

The weather has been so very tempestuous this day, that none of us 
have attempted to cross the ferry, which is the first time we have failed 
since we have been here. 

It gives me pleasure to observe by your last letter that you improve 
both in writing and composing ; and I hope you will give frequent in 
stances of improvement in the same way. 

Give my kind love to your mamma and all the family, and tell Platt 
] intend to write him by the next post. These from your affectionate 
parent, JOSEPH P. COOKE. 

Master AMOS COOKE. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 331 

which his father had kept before him. Being in easy 
circumstances, he made no great efforts in business. 
Though, as I have said, he was of stern aspect, and 
his manners were somewhat cold and distant, he was 
always a gentleman, and his substantial character that 
of a just and kind man. In business, he treated peo 
ple respectfully, but he never solicited custom : he 
showed, but never recommended his goods. If his 
advice were asked, he offered it without regard to his 
own interest. He gave me no instructions, but left 
me to the influence of his example. . He was of a 
highly religious turn of mind, not merely performing 
the accustomed duties of a Christian, but making de 
votional books a large part of his study. Perhaps 
he was conscious of failing health, and already heard 
the monitory voice of that disease which was ere long 
to terminate his career. 

Nevertheless, he was not insensible to the pleasures 
of cultivated society, and however grave he might 
be in his general air and manner, he was particularly 
gratified with the visits of a man, in all things his 
opposite Moses Hatch, then a leading lawyer in 
Danbury. Mr. Cooke was tall, emaciated, somewhat 
bent, with a large head, and large melancholy eyes. 
His look was gravity itself, his air meditative, his 
movements measured, slow, and wavering. 'Squire 
Hatch,* on the contrary, was rather short, full-chested, 

* Moses Hatch was born at Kent, Litehfield county, Conn., \. D. 1780, 
and died at the same place in 1820, on his return from Saratoga, whcra 



332 LETTEKS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

perpendicular, and with a short, quick, emphatic step. 
His eye was small, gray, and twinkling; his lips sharp 
and close-set, his hair erect and combed back, giving 
to his face the keen expression of the old-fashioned 
flint, set in a gun-lock. You expected, of course, on 
the least movement to see the fire fly; he was, in 
fact, a man celebrated for his wit no less than his 
learning, and he seldom opened his mouth without 
making a report of one or both. 

This person was a frequent visitor to the store, and 
the long winter which commenced soon after I en 
tered upon my apprenticeship, was not a little enli 
vened by his conversations with my master. It fre 
quently happened during the deep snows, that the 
day passed without a single customer, and on these 
occasions, Lawyer Hatch was pretty sure to make us 
a visit. It was curious to see these two men an 
tipodes in character attracted to each other as if by 
contradiction. My brother-in-law evidently found a 
pleasant relaxation in the conversation of his neigh 
bor, embellished with elegant wit and varied learn 
ing, while the latter derived equal gratification from 
the serious, solid, manly intellect of his friend. In 

he had been for the benefit of his health. He graduated at Yale in 
1800, with high honors, delivering a poem on the occasion. As a 
lawyer, he always thought the cause of his client just, and with that 
feeling, he generally succeeded in cases before a jury. He seems to 
have had a sort of somnambulic habit, and when an interesting case 
was on his mind, or he was preparing for it, he would po through with 
his argument in his sleep, addressing the court and jury, with inucli 
the same method he usually adopted in the actual trial. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 333 

general -\e former was the talker, and the latter the 
listener , yet sometimes the conversation became dis 
cussion, and a keen trial of wit, versus logic, ensued. 
The lawyer always contended for victory, my brother- 
in-law for the truth : the one was influenced, no doubt, 
by the easy practices of his profession ; the other by 
the stern habit of his conscience and character. 

The precise form of these conversations has van 
ished from my mind, but some of the topics remain. 
I recollect long talks about the embargo, non-inter 
course, and other Jeffersonian measures, which were 
treated with unsparing ridicule and reproach : anec 
dotes and incidents of Napoleon, who excited mingled 
admiration and terror, with observations upon public 
men, as well in Europe as in America. I remember 
also a very keen discussion upon Berkeley's theory of 
the idealty of nature, mental and material, which so 
far excited my curiosity, that finding the " Minute 
Philosopher," by that author, in the family library, 
I read it through with great interest and attention. 
The frequent references to Shakspeare, in these con 
versations, led me to look into his works, and incited 
by the recommendations of my sister I read them 
through, somewhat doggedly, seeking even to pene 
trate the more difficult and obscure passages. 

It frequently happened that my master owing to 
tue influence of disease was affected with depres 
sion of spirits, and the lawyer's best wit and choicest 
stories were expended without even exciting a smile. 



334 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

Not discouraged, but rather stimulated by such ad 
versity, he usually went on, and was pretty sure, at 
last, to strike the vein, as Moses did the water in 
the rock, and a gush of uncontrollable laughter was 
the result. I remember in one instance, Mr. Cooke 
sat for a long time, looking moodily into the fire, 
while 'Squire Hatch went on telling stories, chiefly 
about clergymen, of which he had a great assortment. 
I will endeavor to give you a sketch of the scene. 

" I know not why it is so," said the lawyer, " but 
the fact is undeniable, that the most amusing anec 
dotes are about clergymen. The reason perhaps is, 
that incongruity is the source of humorous associa 
tions, and this is evidently the most frequent and 
striking in a profession which sets apart its members 
as above the mass of mankind, in a certain gravity 
of character and demeanor, of which the black coat 
is the emblem. A spot upon this strikes every eye, 
while a brown coat, being the color of dirt, hides 
rather than reveals what is upon its surface. Thus 
it is, as we all know, that what would be insipid as 
coming from a layman, is very laughable if it hap 
pens to a parson. I have heard that on a certain 

occasion, as the Eev. J . . . M was about to read 

a hymn, he saw a little boy sitting behind the chor 
ister in the gallery, who had intensely red hair. The 
day was cold, and the little rogue was pretending to 
warm his hands by holding them close to the chor 
ister's head. This so disconcerted the minister, that 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOT1CAL, ETC. 335 

it was some minutes before he could go on with the 
services. 

The only effect of this was, that my master drew 
down one corner of his mouth. 

"I have heard of another clergyman," said the 
lawyer, " who suffered in a similar way. One day, 
in the very midst of his sermon, he saw Deacon 
B . . . . fast asleep, his head leaning back on the rail 
of the pew, and his mouth wide open. A young 
fellow in the gallery above, directly over him, took 
a quid of tobacco from his mouth, and taking a care 
ful aim, let it drop plump into the deacon's mouth. 
The latter started from his sleep, and went through 
a terrible paroxysm of fright and choking before he 
recovered." 

Mr. Cooke bit his lip, but was silent. Lawyer 
Hatch although he pretended to be all the while 
looking into the fire got a quick side glance at the 
face of his auditor, and continued 

" You know the Kev. Dr. B of B., sir ? Well, 

one day he told me that as he was on his way to New 
Haven, he came to the house of one of his former pa 
rishioners, who, some years before, had removed to 
that place. As he was about to pass it, he remem 
bered that this person had died recently, and he 
thought it meet and proper to stop and condole with 
the widow. She met him very cheerfully, and they 
had some pleasant chat together. 

" ' Madam,' said he, after a time, ' it is a painfuJ 



336 LETTERS BIOOKA.P1IICAL, 

subject but you have recently met with a severe 
loss.' 

" She instantly applied her apron to her eyes, and 
said 

" ' Oh yes, doctor ; there's no telling how I feel.' 
" ' It is indeed a great bereavement you have suf 
fered.' 

" 'Yes, doctor; very great indeed.' 
" ' I hope you bear it with submission ?' 
" ' I try tu ; but oh, doctor, I sometimes feel in 
my heart Goosy, goosy gander, where shall I 
wander !' " 

The lawyer glanced at the object of his attack, and 
seeming to see a small breach in the wall, he thought 
it time to bring up his heavy guns. He went on : 

" There's another story about this same Dr. B . . . . 
which is amusing. Some years ago he lost his wife, 
and after a time he began to look out for another. 
At last he fixed his mind upon a respectable lady in 
a neighboring town, and commenced paying her his 
addresses. This naturally absorbed much of his time 
and attention, and his parish became dissatisfied. 
The deacons of the church held several conferences 
on the subject, and it was finally agreed that Deacon 
Becket, who had the grace of smooth speech, should 
give the reverend doctor a hint of what they deemed 
his fearful backsliding. Accordingly, the next Sab 
bath morning, on going to church, the deacon over 
took the parson, and the following dialogue ensued : 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 337 

" ' Good morning, Dr. B ' 

" ' Good morning,' Deacon Becket. 

" ' Well, doctor, I'm glad to meet you ; for I want 
ed to say to you, as how I thought of changing my 
pew!' 

" ' Indeed ! And why so ?' 

" ' "Well, I'll tell you. I sit, as you know, clear 
over the back-side of the meeting-house; and be 
tween me and the pulpit, there's Judy Vickar, Molly 
Warren, Experience Pettybone, and half-a-dozen old 
maids, who sit with their mouths wide open, and they 
catch all the best of your sarmon, and when it gets to 
me, it's plaguey poor stuff!'" 

My brother-in-law could hold out no longer : his 
face was agitated for a moment with nervous spasms, 
and then bending forward, he burst into a round, 
hearty laugh. The lawyer who made it a point never 
to smile at his own jokes still had a look upon his 
face as much as to say " Well, sir, I thought I 
should get my case." 

It may be easily imagined that I was greatly inter 
ested by these conversations and discussions, and al 
ways felt not a little annoyed, if perchance, as some 
times happened, I was called away in the midst of a 
good story or a keen debate, to supply a customer 
with a gallon of molasses, or a paper of pins. I know 
not if this gave me a disgust of my trade, but it is 
very certain that I conceived for it a great dislike, 
nearly from the beginning. Never, so far as I can 

VOL. I. 15 



338 LETTERS BIOGKAPHICAL, 

recollect, did I for one moment enter heartily into 
its spirit. I was always, while I continued in it, ji 
mere servile laborer, doing my duty, perhaps, yet 
with a languid and reluctant heart. However, I got 
through the winter, and when the summer came, Mr. 
Cooke nearly gave up personal attention to busi 
ness, in consequence of ill health, and we had a new 
clerk, H. N. Lockwood, who was older than myself, and 
took the responsible charge of the establishment. He 
was an excellent merchant, and to me was a kind and 
indulgent friend. He afterward settled in Troy, where 
I am happy to say he is still living, and in the en 
joyment of an ample fortune, and an excellent repu 
tation as a father, friend, Christian, and neighbor 
the natural fruit of good sense, good temper, and 
good conduct. 



LETTER XXII. 

Visit to New Haven The City Yale College My Uncles Home John 
Allen First view of the Ocean The Court-bouse Dr. Dwight Pro 
fessor SUKman Ghemifttry, Mineralogy, Geology Anecdote of Onions 
GibbsMi Whitney The Cotton-gin The Gun-factory. 

MY DEAR C ****** 

In the summer of 1809 I took a short tour with 
my brother-in-law and my sister, for the health oi 
the former. This to me was a grand expedition, for 
among other places we visited was New Haven, then 
a sort of Jerusalem in my imagination a holy place, 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 339 

containing Yale College, of which Dr. Dwight was 
president. Besides all this, one of my uncles and 
some of my cousins lived there, and better still, my 
brother was there, and then a member of the college. 
Ah, how my heart beat when we set out ! Such 
was the vividness of my perceptions, that I could fill 
a book with recollections of that short, simple journey 
the whole circuit not exceeding one hundred and 
twenty miles. But, my dear C . . . ., be not alarmed ! I 
shall not inflict them upon you : a few brief notes will 
be the entire burden you shall bear, on this occasion. 
I pass over the journey to New Haven, and permit 
you at once to enter the city. I was of course duly 
impressed with its beauty, for then, as now, it was 
celebrated for a rare union of rural freshness and 
city elegance. I have recently, in passing through 
it, had a -transient view of its appearance, and may 
safely affirm that after pretty large observation in 
the Old World, as well as in the New, I know of no 
town or city more inviting ; especially to one whose 
j udgment is cultivated by observation and study, and 
whose feelings are chastened by reflection and expe 
rience. There is a taste of the university in the long 
shady streets, fit for the walks of Plato, and a metro 
politan air in the public buildings and squares, sug 
gestive of ideas of the Forum. There is something of 
the activity and bustle of commerce in a part of the 
town, and at one point, all the spasm of a railway 
station. In other portions of the place, and over 



340 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

three- fourths of its area, there is the quietude and 
repose proper to a seat of learning. Here the houses 
seem suited to the city, each with a garden, breathing 
the perfumes of the country. 

At the period of the visit I am describing, New 
Haven had not one half its present population, and 
many of the institutions which now adorn it did not 
exist. The college, however, was then, as now, a 
leading literary institution in the country. To me 
it was an object of special reverence, as my grand 
father and his five sons had all been graduated there. 
My brother and two of my cousins were at this time 
among its inmates. Of course I looked with intense 
curiosity at the several buildings that belonged to it. 
The splendid mineralogical cabinet, now the first in 
the United States, was not there ; nay, the science ol 
mineralogy hardly existed at that time. The Trumbull 
Gallery of Paintings, comprising many of the best 
productions of that distinguished painter, and en 
riched by nearly two hundred portraits of celebrated 
men, has since been added. Nevertheless, many 
things here excited my admiration. I looked with 
particular interest I may add with some degree of 
envy at the students, who seemed to me the privi 
leged sons of the earth. Several were pointed out 
as promising to be the master-spirits of their age and 
generation ; in some cases I have since seen these an 
ticipations fulfilled. 

Next to the college I visited the bay, and for the 



HISTORICAL ANEODOTICAL, ETC. 341 

first time actually sto.od upon the shore of that liv 
ing sea, which through my whole childhood had 
spread its blue bosom before me, in the distant ho 
rizon. A party of three or four of us took a boat, and 
went down toward the entrance of the bay, landing 
on the eastern side. From this point the view was 
enchanting it being a soft summer afternoon, and 
the sea only breathed upon by light puffs of wind 
that came from the west. I looked long, and with a 
species of enhancement, at its heaving and swelling 
surface : I ran my eye far away, till it met the line 
where sky and wave are blent together : I followed 
the lulling surf as it broke, curling and winding, 
among the mimic bays of the rocky shore. I looked 
down into the depths of the water, and perceived the 
finny inhabitants, gliding through the dim recesses, 
half sheltered in their tranquil domain by groves of 
sea- weed, or the shadows of the deepening waters. 
It was a spectacle not only full of beauty in itself, 
but to me it was a revelation and a fulfillment of the 
thousand half-formed fancies, which had been strug 
gling in my longing bosom from very childhood. 

Our party was so occupied with our contempla 
tions, that we had scarcely noticed a thunder-storm, 
which now approached and menaced us from the 
west. We set out to return, but before we had got 
half across the bay, it broke full upon us. The 
change in the aspect of the sea was fearful : all its 
gentleness was gone, and now, black and scowling, 



342 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

it seemed, as if agitated by a demon, threatening 
every thing with destruction that came within its 
scope. By a severe struggle, we succeeded in reach 
ing Long Wharf, though not without risk. The gen 
eral impression of the whole scene upon my mind, 
may be gathered from the following lines, though 
you must not consider me as the literal hero of the 
story, nor must you regard this description as a ver 
itable account of the day's adventure : 

I stood 

Upon a rock that wall'd the Deep : 
Before me roll'd the boundless flood 

A Glorious Dreamer in its sleep ! 
'Twas summer morn, and bright as heaven ; 

And though I wept, I was not sad, 
For tears, thou knowest, are often given 

When the o'erflowing heart is glad. 
Long, long I watch'd the waves, whose whirls* 

Leap'd up the rocks, their brows to kiss, 
And dallied with the sea-weed curls 

That stoop'd and wooed the protfer'd bliss. 
Long, long I listen'd to the peal 

That whisper'd from the pebbly shore, 
And like a spirit seem'd to steal 

In music to my bosonrs core. 
And now I look'd afar, and thought 

The Sea a glad and glorious thing ; 
And fancy to my bosom brought 

Wild dreams upon her wizard wing 
Her wing that stretch'd o'er spreading waves, 

And chased the far-off flashing ray, 
Or hovering deep in twilight caves 

Caught the lone mermaid at her play. 




FIKST ADVENTURE UPON THE SEA. Vol. 1, p. 342. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIOAL, ETC. 343 

And thus the sunny day went by, 

And night came brooding o'er the seas ; 
A thick cloud swathed the distant sky, 

And hollow murmurs fill'd the breeze. 
The white-gull, screaming, left the rock, 

And seaward bent her glancing wing, 
While heavy waves, with measured shock, 

Made the dun cliff with echoes ring. 
How changed the scene ! The glassy deep, 

That si umber d in its resting-place, 
And, seeming in its morning sleep 

To woo me to its soft embrace 
N"ow waken'd, was a fearful thing 

A giant with a scowling form, 
Who from his bosom seem'd to fling 

The blacken'd billows to the storm ! 
The wailing winds in terror gush'd 

From the swart sky, and seem'd to lash 
The foaming waves, which madly rush'd 

Toward the tall cliff with headlong dash. 
Upward the glittering spray was sent, 

Backward the growling surges whirl'd, 
And splintered rocks by lightnings rent, 

Down thundering midst the waves were hurl'd. 
I trembled, yet I would not fly ; 

1 fear'tl, yet loved, the awful scene ; 
And gazing on the sea and sky, 

Spell-bound I stood the rocks between. 

'T\vas strange that I a mountain-boy 

A lover of green fields and flowers 
One who with laughing rills could toy, 

And hold companionship for hours 
With leaves that whisper'd low at night, 

Or fountains bubbling from their springs 



344 J.K'ITERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

Or summer winds, whose downy flight 

Seem'd but the sweep of angel wings : 
'Twas strange that I should love the clash 

Of ocean in its maddest hour, 
And joy to see the billows dash 

O'er the rent cliff with fearful power. 
'Twas strange but I was nature's own, 

Uncheck'd, untutor'd ; in my soul 
A harp was set, that gave its tone 

To every touch without control. 
The zephyr stirr'd, in childhood warm, 

Thoughts like itself, as soft and blest ; 
And the swift fingers of the storm, 

Woke its own echo in my breast. 
Aye, and the strings that else had lain 

Untouch'd, and to myself unknown, 
Within iny heart, gave back the strain, 

That o'er the sea and rock was thrown. 



These lines were written many years after the 
events I have been describing, yet the feelings and 
fancies they portray were suggested, at least in part, 
by this my first visit to the sea, and my first adven 
ture upon its capricious bosom. I have since crossed 
the Atlantic sixteen times, and am therefore familiar 
with all the aspects of the ocean but never have 
they impressed me so deeply and so vividly as upon 
this occasion. 

The next object that attracted my attention was 
the Court-house. Here, for the first time, I saw a 
"Court" its awful judges, holding the issues of life 
and death, and sitting high and apart upon the 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, KTC. 345 

"Bench;" here also were twelve hard-looking men, 
exercising the high functions of that glorious Saxon 
institution, called a "Jury." Here also was that terri 
ble man the " sheriff," and a poor wretch in a pen 
the " prisoner at the bar." The trial had already be 
gun, and a lawyer, with a powdered head, was telling 
the court the jury and the judges what a desperate 
scoundrel he was. He proved him to be a burglar of 
the very worst description. I felt my heart burn with 
indignation that such a monster should ever have 
been at large among society. Pretty soon another 
lawyer got up, and made it as clear as light, that the 
man was entirely innocent. My feelings were now 
totally changed, and I felt as if he were a most de 
serving and most injured person. The jury at last 
went out, and after an anxious half hour, returned 
with a verdict of " guilty." The court then seTi- 
tenced the culprit to " Simsbury Mines"* for five years. 

* The place called Simsbury Mines, or Newgate Prison, sixteen miles 
northwest ot' Hartford, is actually within the limits of the town of Gran- 
by, the latter having been set off from Simsbury in 1786. The mines 
consist of deep excavations made in the rocks, for copper ore, by an 
English company, about 1760. The speculation ended in disaster, and 
the caverns began to be used for a prison about the time of the Revo 
lutionary war. In 1790, by a legislative act, it was established as a per 
manent state-prison under the name of Newgate suitable buildings be 
ing erected over the caverns for the purpose. I visited the place about 
the year 1811 or 1812. The prisoners were heavily ironed with hand- 
cutt's and fetters. In some cases several were fastened together by 
chains attached to a bar of iron. Most of them worked in a smithy, 
where each man was chained to his forge or bench. Sentinels, with 
loaded muskets, stood ready to fire in case of revolt. 

The object of the prison was not only to shut up felons, and thus to 
protect society, but to cre:itc an 'ulna of horror in the public mind, and 



346 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

I had been three hours in the court-room, and my 
interest had been wound up to the highest pitch. 
When I left it, my head was in a whirl ; my feelings 
also were painfully excited. I had deemed that a 
Court of Justice was holy ground ; that judges were 
saints, and jurors grave men, deeply impressed with 
the duty of a religious fulfillment of their high func 
tions. I had imagined lawyers to be profoundly 
skilled in the art of discerning and developing the 

thus by a moral influence to prevent crime. The abandoned copper 
mines were the sleeping place of the criminals. The descent to these 
infernal regions was by a trap-door, leading down a ladder sixty or 
seventy feet, through one of the shafts. At the bottom was a consider 
able space, with short galleries leading in various directions. Here were 
wooden berths, filled with straw. The prisoners descended the perpen 
dicular ladder in their irons, and thus slept at night. They rose at four 
in the morning, and went to their rest at four in the afternoon. Their 
food was principally salt pork, salt beef, and beans. The caverns were 
ventilated by a large shaft, descending into a well, near the center of the 
excavations. Strange to say, the health of the prisoners was generally 
excellent. 

As if these gloomy regions did not inspire sufficient terror, it ap 
pears that the neighborhood, according to popular ideas, was for a long 
time peopled with beings from the other world. At one period certain 
persons seemed to be bewitched, hearing singular noises, and seeing 
spirits in the air. More recently, the crying of a child and other strange 
sounds were heard in an uninhabited house. Several persons cauie 
here to investigate the subject, and upon hearing the noises, suddenly 
entered the place, but found nothing. Two young men one night slept 
in the house, and about midnight, heard something rush in at the win 
dow, like a gust of wind, upsetting the chairs, shovel and tongs, and 
then pass down the ash-hole. What could it have been but Old Sooty 
himself? 

It is not astonishing that the very name of Slmsbury Mines did, in fact, 
inspire ideas of peculiar horror. When I was a boy, it was regarded as 
next door to that place which it is not polite to name. Malefactors, it is 
said, were very shy of practicing their profession in Connecticut, for 
fear of getting into this dreadful place. However, after a time, a total 
change of ideas spread over the community, in regard to prisons : it was 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AT., ETC. 3tt7 

truth. I bad indulged a fancy that justice and judg 
ment would here reign in every heart, appear in every 
face, and guide every tongue. How different seemed 
the reality! The general impression on my mind 
was a horror of the place, and all the proceedings : 
it appeared to me that lawyers, judges, jury, sheriff, 
and all, were a set of the most heartless creatures I 
had ever seen pretending to seek justice, and yet 
without a single sentiment of humanity. Even de 
cency seemed to be outraged, in the treatment of wit 
nesses, and in jibes cast at the poor prisoner, who, 
however guilty, rather invited sympathy than ridi 
cule. I must confess that I have never got entirely 
over this my first impression : the atmosphere of a 
court-room is to me always depressing though, I am 
aware, that the manners here have undergone a great 
and favorable revolution in modern times. 

On Sunday I went to the college chapel, and heard 
Dr. Dwight preach. He was then at the zenith of his 
fame a popular poet, an eloquent divine, a learned 
author, and, crowning all, president of the college. 



discovered that vindictive punishment was alike wrong 'in principle 
and effect; that, in fact, it hardened the sinner, while it should always 
be the object of punishment, in restraining the felon for the benefit of 
society, to exercise a moral influence for his reformation. This idea must 
be classed among the larger humanities which have enlightened and en 
nobled the public spirit of modern times. 

Some thirty years ago, in conformity with these views, Simsbury 
Mines ceased to be a State Prison, aud an excellent institution for that 
object was established in the beautiful town of Wethersfleld. Soon after 
this period, Simsbury Mines were again wrought for copper, and I be 
lieve with success. 



348 LKTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

He was unquestionably, at that time, the most con 
spicuous man in New England, filling a larger space 
in the public eye, and exerting a greater influence 
than any other individual. No man, since his -time, 
has held an equal ascendency, during his day and 
generation, in New England except perhaps Daniel 
Webster. In allusion to his authority in matters ec 
clesiastical as well as civil for he was a statesman, 
and exercised his influence in politics, not obtrusive 
ly, but by his counsel he was familiarly called by 
political adversaries, Old Pope Dwight. 

In person he was about six feet in height, and of 
a full, round, manly form. His head was modeled 
rather for beauty than craniological display. Indeed, 
phrenology had not then been discovered, and accord 
ingly great men were born without paying the slight 
est attention to its doctrines. Dr. Dwight had, in 
fact, no bumps : I have never seen a smoother, 
rounder pa^e than his, which, being slightly bald 
and close shorn, was easily examined. He had, how 
ever, a noble aspect a full forehead and piercing black 
eyes, though partly covered up with large spectacles in 
a tortoise-shell frame for he had been long afflicted 
with a morbid sensibility of the organs of sight. On 
the whole, his presence was singularly commanding, 
enforced by a manner somewhat authoritative and 
emphatic. This might have been offensive, had not 
his character and position prepared all around to tol 
erate, perhaps to admire it. His voice was one of 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 349 

the finest I ever have heard from the pulpit clear, 
hearty, sympathetic and entering into the soul .like 
the middle notes of an organ. The subject of his 
discourse I do not recollect ; trained, however, as I 
had been from childhood, to regard him as second 
only to St. Paul I discovered in it full justification 
of his great fame.* 

The house of my uncle, Elizur Goodrich, where 

* The life of Timothy Dwight is full of interesting materials for the 
biographer. His family connections, his precocity, his development, his 
performances, his heart, his mind, the details of his career all abound 
in those striking lights and shades, which rivet the attention. 

His father was a merchant of Northampton, his mother daughter of 
Jonathan Edwards the most renowned metaphysician America has pro 
duced. He was born May 14, 1752. He learned the alphabet of his moth 
er at one lesson : at six he read Latin ; at eight was fitted for college ; 
at thirteen he entered Yale ; at nineteen he began his great poem of the 
Conquest of Canaan, and finished it in three years, though it was not 
published till 1785. He taught rhetoric, mathematics, and oratory in 
the college for six years. After this he returned to Northamptop, and 
in 1777, married Miss Woolsey, sister of Wm. W. Woolsey, for many 
years a distinguished merchant in New Haven. The same year he was 
licensed to preach, and became chaplain in the army, which he joined 
at West Point. Here he wrote his celebrated song of Columbia. In 1781 
he was a member of the State legislature ; and in 1783 was settled as 
minister at Greenfield. His meeting-house was visible to the naked eye 
from the windows of our house at Kidgefield. In this village he wrote 
his fine poem of Greenfield Hill, which appeared in 1794. The next year 
he succeeded Dr. Stiles as President of ^Yale College, a post which he 
filled till his death, Jan. 11, 1817, at the age of 64. 

Dr. Dwight's works are numerous and valuable : besides poems, es 
says, &c., he wrote several volumes of Travels, descriptive of scenes and 
places in New England, which he had visited during college vacations. 
His greatest work is Theology Explained and Defended. .This has been 
extensively published here and in England, and is greatly admired for 
its argument, its eloquence, and its happy manner as well of statement 
as of illustration. 

The following memoranda, respecting this great man, have been mostly 
furnished me by his nephew, Mr. Theodore Dwight, now of New York 
(1856). 



350 , LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

we stayed, was then rather the focal point of society 
in the city partly because of his official position 
and genial manners, and partly, also, on account of 
the character of his wife, who, to say the least, in a 
happy union of the highest womanly qualities, was in 
ferior to few ladies of her time. Every evening there 
was here a levee of accidental visitors, consisting of 

The Dwiglit family in this country ia descended from John Dwight, 
who came from England in 1637, and settled at Dedham, in Massachu 
setts. The grandfather of Dr. Dwight built Fort Dummur, the first set 
tlement within the bounds of Vermont, about 1723-4. Here the father 
of Dr. Dwight was born. He was a man of immense strength and 
stature. During the Revolutionary war he went to New Orleans and 
up the Mississippi, where he purchased land, intending to remove there 
with his large family. The tract extended some miles along the bank, 
and included the site of the present city of Natchez ; but he soon after 
died of a fever. A son who accompanied him was lost at sea, and the 
evidence of his title to the land was never found. 

The news of the death of the father of the family was about a year 
in reaching them. It was a summer day, and one of the elder sons 
was making hay in a field, when one of the smallest children, who had 
been present at its announcement, came tottering through the grass, 
with the sad story. The youth threw his pitchfork into the air, and 
exclaimed, " Then we're all ruined !" and such was the force of his emo 
tions, that his mind never recovered from the effects to the day of his 
death. 

Timothy, the eldest son, was absent with the army. He now (1778) went 
to reside in Northampton, with his mother, and assumed the manage 
ment of the aifairs of the family. He carried on their two farms, and 
at the same time conducted a school, and preached in the adjacent towns. 
A number of young ladies and gentlemen from different parts of the 
country, were among his pupils. He had two ushers one of whom was 
Joel Barlow. Gen. Zechariah Huntington and Judge Hosmer were his 
pupils ; and a number of young men went to him from Yale College, 
after the capture of New Haven. He was at that time very acceptable 
as :i preacher, often filling the pulpit where his grandfather, Jonathan 
Edwards, had officiated. He not only directed the business of the farms, 
but often worked in the field with the men, his brother Theodore being 
at his side. The latter, from whom these facts are derived, mentioned 
that the hired men used to contest for the privilege of mowing next to 
Timothy, "that they .might hear him talk'' 1 fluent, interesting, and in- 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 351 

the distinguished men of the city, and often including 
other celebrities. Among the noted individuals I saw 
there, was John Allen,' brother of Mrs. Goodrich a 
man of eminent talents and most imposing person, 
being six feet six inches high, with a corresponding 
power of expression in his form and face. He had 
been a member of Congress, and is recorded in its 

structive conversation being at that time, as through life, one of his 
characteristics. 

The family comprised thirteen children, nearly all of whom were now 
at home. The house was in King-street, and next to it, on the east, was 
that which had been the residence of Jonathan Edwards during his 
ministry. There David Brainard had died, nursed in his last sickness 
by one of the daughters of Mr. E. , to whom he was engaged. In the 
burying-ground was the 'grave of Brainard, which was then, and long 
after, annually visited by some of his Indian converts, who used to make 
long journeys through the wilderness to sit a few hours in silent medi 
tation and mourning, over his ashes. 

Timothy Dwight had been trained from his earliest years among the 
simple but refined society of Northampton, and was familiarized with 
the history of the French and Indian wars, which had been the sources 
of so much suffering to the friends and ancestors of those around him. 
The impressions which he received from such scenes and examples, were 
permanent on his character and life. He entered the American revolu 
tionary army as a chaplain to General Putnam's regiment, with the ardor 
of a youthful Christian patriot; preached with energy to the troops in 
camp, sometimes with a pile of the regiment's drums before him, instead 
of a desk. One of his sermons, intended to raise the drooping cour 
age of the country, when Bnrgoyne had come down from Canada with 
his army, and was carrying all before him was published, and a copy 
read to the garrison in Fort Stanwix, on the Mohawk river, when Sir 
John Johnson had cut oft" their- communications with Albany, and threat 
ened their destruction. The venerable Colonel Platt, many years after, 
affirmed that it was owing to this sermon, that the garrison resolved to 
hold out to the last extremity, and made the sally in which they routed 
and drove off their besiegers, delivering Albany from imminent danger, 
and contributing materially to the defeat of the British in their cam 
paign of 1777. 

Many of the personal traits of Dr. Dwight were interesting. He wrote 
like copperplate : such was the rapid flow of his ideas that he could em 
ploy at the same time two amanuenses, by dictating to them on totally 



352 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

annals by the title of " Long John." He was in 
person, as well as mind, a sort of Anakim among the 
members of the House.* 

Here also I saw Dr. Dwight, who was perhaps even 
more distinguished in conversation than in the pulpit. 
He was indeed regarded as without a rival in this 
respect : his knowledge was extensive and various, 
and his language eloquent, rich, and flowing. His 
fine voice and noble person gave great effect to what 
he said. When he spoke, others were silent. This 
arose in part from the superiority of his powers, but 
in part also from his manner, which, as I have said, 
was somewhat authoritative. Thus he engrossed, not 
rudely, but with the willing assent of those around 
him, the lead in conversation. Nevertheless, I must 
remark, that in society the imposing grandeur of 

different subjects. He labored daily in the garden, or in some other way, 
holding it to be the duty of every man to labor, bodily, so as to insure 
the perfection of life and enjoyment. He advised professional men, in 
traveling, and on other occasions, to enter into easy and kindly conver 
sation with strangers, as a means of gaining knowledge, and cultivating 
a kindly feeling in society. He constantly taught the duty of courtesy 
and politeness ; he loved his country and our free institutions, and in 
culcated the duty of a constant endeavor to elevate and ennoble the 
public sentiment. He despised all meanness, and especially that dem- 
agogism, which, under a pretense of patriotism, is seeking only for self- 
promotion, and which is even willing to degrade the people, in order to 
gratify personal ambition. It is impossible to measure the good done 
by such a man by his personal example, by his influence upon the stu 
dents under his care for twenty years, and by the impress of his noble 
character upon the important institution which was the theater of his 
labors. 

* Hon. John Allen was a native of Great Barrington : he settled in 
Litchfield in 1785, and died in 1812. He was not only a member of Con 
gress, but also of the State Council for several years. His sou, John 
W. Allen, of Cleveland, has been a member of Congress. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 353 

his personal appearance in the pulpit, was softened 
by a general blandness of expression and a sedulous 
courtesy of manner, which were always conciliating, 
and sometimes really captivating. His smile was 
irresistible. 

In reflecting upon this good and great man, and 
reading his works in after-time, I am still impressed 
with his general superiority his manly intellect, his 
vast range of knowledge, and his large heart ; yet, I 
am persuaded that, on account of his noble person 
the perfection of the visible man he exercised a pow 
er in his day and generation, somewhat beyond the 
natural scope of his mental endowments. Those who 
read his works only, can not fully realize the impres 
sion which he made upon the age in which he lived. 
His name is still honored : many of his works still 
live. His Body of Divinity takes the precedence, not 
only here, but in England, over all works of the 
same kind and the same doctrine ; but at the period 
to which I refer, he was regarded with a species of 
idolatry by those around him. Even the pupils of 
the college under his presidential charge those who 
are not usually inclined to hero-worship almost 
adored him. To this day, those who had the good 
fortune to receive their education under his auspices, 
look back upon it as a great era in their lives. 

There was indeed reason for this. With all his 
greatness in other respects, Dr. Dwight seems to have 
been more particularly felicitous as the teacher, the 



354: LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

counsellor, the guide, of educated young men. In 
the lecture-room all his high and noble qualities 
seemed to find their full scope. He did not here 
confine himself to merely scientific instruction : he 
gave lessons in morals and manners, and taught, 
with a wisdom which experience and common sense 
only could have furnished, the various ways to in 
sure success in life. He gave lectures upon health 
the art of maintaining a vigorous constitution, with 
the earnest pursuit of professional duties citing his 
own example, which consisted in laboring every 
day in the garden, when the season permitted, and 
at other times at some mechanical employment. He 
recommended that in intercourse with mankind, his 
pupils should always converse with each individual 
upon that subject in which he was most instructed, 
observing that he never met a man of whom he could 
not learn something. He gave counsel, suited to the 
various professions ; to those who were to become 
clergymen, he imparted the wisdom which he had 
gathered by a life of long and active experience : he 
counseled those who were to become lawyers, physi 
cians, merchants and all with a fullness of knowl 
edge and a felicity of illustration and application, as 
if he had actually spent a life in each of these voca 
tions. And more than this : he sought to infuse into 
the bosom of all, that high principle which served 
to inspire his own soul that is, to be always a gen 
tleman, taking St. Paul as his model. He considered 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 355 

not courtesy only, but truth, honor, manliness in all 
things, as essential to this character. Every kind of 
meanness he despised. Love of country was the con 
stant theme of his eulogy. Religion was the soul of 
his system. God was the center of gravity, and man 
should make the moral law as inflexible as the law 
of nature. Seeking to elevate all to this sphere, he 
still made its orbit full of light fhe light of love, 
and honor, and patriotism, and literature, and ambi 
tion all verging toward that fullness of glory, which 
earth only reflects and heaven only can unfold. 

Was not this greatness ? not the greatness of ge 
nius, for after all Dr. D wight was only a man of large 
common sense and a large heart, inspired by high 
moral principles. He was, in fact, a Yankee, Christian 
gentleman nothing more nothing less. Where 
could such character with such lights and shades 
be produced, except here in our stern, yet kindly cli 
mate of New England ? Can you find such a biog 
raphy as this in France ? in Germany ? in Old Eng 
land, even ? You may find men of genius, but hardly 
of that Puritan type, so well illustrated in the life and 
character of Timothy Dwight. Shake not your head, 
then, my dear C . . . ., and say that nothing good can 
come of this, our cold, northern Nazareth ! 

Another man, whom I now saw for the first time, 
was Professor Silliman, then beginning to fill a large 
space in the public eye. He had recently returned 
from a visit to Europe, but did not publish his " Jour 



356 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

nal of Travels" till the next year. It was a great 
thing then to go to Europe, and get back safe. It 
was a great thing then to look upon a person who 
had achieved such an enterprise, and especially a man 
like the professor, who had held communication with 
the learned and famous people on the other side of the 
Atlantic. But this was not all : Professor Silliman 
had begun to popularize the discoveries of the new 
science of Chemistry. What wonders were thus dis 
closed to the astonished people ! By means of blow 
pipes, flasks, and crucibles, all nature seemed to be 
transformed as by the spells of a sorcerer. The four old- 
fashioned elements were changed proved, in short, 
to be impostors, having been passed off from time 
immemorial as solid, substantial, honest elements, 
while they were in fact, each and all, only a parcel 
of compounds ! Fire was no longer fire ; it was only 
an incident of combustion : heat was a sensation, and 
at the bottom of the whole matter was a thing called 
caloric. Earth, that stable, old-fashioned footstool of 
man and his Maker, was resolved into at least fifty 
ingredients ; air was found to be made up of two 
gases, called oxygen and nitrogen one being a sort 
of good angel, supporting life and combustion, and 
the other a kind of bad devil, stifling the breath, put 
ting out the candle, and destroying vegetation. As 
to water, that, too, was forced to confess that it had 
hitherto practiced an imposition upon the world, for 
instead of being a simple, frank, honest element, it 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 357 

was composed of oxygen and hydrogen the latter 
of such levity as to be fit for little else than inflating 
balloons ! 

What a general upsetting of all old-fashioned ideas 
of creation was this ! It is scarcely possible for any 
one to conceive what a change has taken place, 
through the influence of chemistry, within the last 
half century. Every substance in nature has been 
attacked, and few have preserved their integrity. 
This science has passed from the laboratory to the 
workshop, the manufactory, the farm, the garden, the 
kitchen. Everybody is now familiar with its discov 
eries, its principles, its uses. Chemistry, which was. 
a black art when I was a boy, is in the school-books 
now ; and Professor Silliman was the great magi 
cian that brought about this revolution in our coun 
try. He had just commenced his incantations, and 
already the world began to echo with their wonders. 
With what engrossing admiration did I look at him, 
when he came into the room, and I heard his name 
announced ! 

At this time, his lectures were not only attended 
by the youth of the college, but by a few privileged 
ladies and gentlemen from the world without. I 
went with one of my cousins, entertaining the common 
idea that chemistry was much the same as alchemy 
an art whose chief laboratory was in the infernal re 
gions. I had read something about the diableries of 
Friar Bacon, seeking by compact with the Great 



358 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

Blacksmith below, to discover the philosopher's 
stone, but hitting by accident upon gunpowder ; 
and this formed my general notion of the science. 
When I entered the lecture-room, and saw around, 
a furnace, an anvil, a sink, crucibles, flasks, retorts, 
receivers, spatulas, a heap of charcoal, a bed ol 
sand, with thermometers, pyrometers, barometers, 
hydrometers, and an array of other ometers, with 
a variety of odd-looking instruments the use of 
which I could not imagine I began to feel a strange 
sort of bewilderment. This was turned to anxiety, 
when I perceived in the air an odor that I had never 
experienced before, and which seemed to me to 
breathe of that pit which is nameless as well as bot 
tomless. I asked one of the pupils who sat near me 
about it, and he said it was sulphureted hydrogen, 
whereupon I became composed ; not that I knew any 
better what it was, but as they had a name for it, I 
supposed it was of earth and not of the other place. 

At last the lecturer began. I was immediately at 
tracted by his bland manner and beautiful speech. 
All my horrors passed instantly away, and in a few 
moments I was deep in the labyrinths of alkalies, 
acids, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, &c. I learned 
how sulphur with an ic meant one thing, with an ous, 
another, with an et, another, and so on. Finally, the 
professor got beyond my reach, and I was completely 
lost in a maze of words, too deep for my comprehen 
sion. But now the theory was done, and the experi 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 359 

ments began. The lights were put out. A piece of 
wire was coiled in a glass jar, filled with oxygen. A 
light was applied and fizz fizz fizz, went the wire, 
actually burning like a witch-quill ! That was chem 
istry, brought down to the meanest capacity. We 
all clapped hands, as they do now at Niblo's. Af 
ter this, one or two of the pupils took exhilarating 
gas, and thereupon seemed to enjoy the most deli 
cious trances. Still other experiments followed, and 
everybody was convinced that the new science was 
not. a thing to be feared, as smelling of necromancy, 
but that in fact it was an honest science, fit to be 
introduced even into the domestic arts. Since that 
time it has actually transformed the whole business 
of life, producing benefits which no words can ade 
quately describe. 

Geology followed close upon the heels of chemis 
try. This, too, which was confined to the arcana of 
science in my boyhood, and was even there a novelty, 
is now a school study. Professor Silliman has been 
a leader in this also. He had commenced at the peri 
od of which I am speaking, but he had only advanced 
into its precincts the science of mineralogy. This 
had begun to be popular in the centers of learning : 
young collegians went into the mountains with bags 
and hammers, and came back loaded with queer stones. 
In fact, hunting specimens took the place of hunting 
bears, deer, and foxes, and was pursued with all the 
ardor of the chase. Ladies, turning blue, had pieces 



360 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

of marble, ore, quartz, and other things o f the kind, 
on their mantel-pieces, and those who were thorough 
ly dyed, had little cabinets, all arranged on Haiiy's 
principles of crystallography. Let me tell an anecdote 
in illustration of the spirit of the age. 

About this time Colonel Gibbs, originally from 
Rhode Island, but who now lived on Long Island, 
near Flushing, became an enthusiast in the new sci 
ence. He was in fact the founder of the splendid min- 
eralogical cabinet at present belonging to Yale Col 
lege. While he was in the very crisis of his fever, he 
chanced to be traveling in a stage-coach among one of 
the remote rocky districts of New Hampshire. Coming 
at last to a region which looked promising of min- 
eralogical discoveries, he stopped at a small, obscure 
tavern, borrowed a hammer, and went into the mount 
ains. Here he soon became engrossed in his research 
es, which were speedily rewarded by several interest 
ing specimens. In his enthusiasm, his own exertions 
were not sufficient, so that he employed several per 
sons to assist him in knocking the rocks to pieces. 
At the end of a week he had completely exhausted 
his cash. He then paid the workmen in coats, panta 
loons, boots, shoes, and at last in shirts. These finally 
came to an end, and he paid in promises, in no de 
gree abating his zeal. By this time he had collected 
three sacks of stones, which it took six men to carry. 
The people around did not comprehend him, and of 
course supposed him to be insane. One day, while 



HISTOKICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 361 

he chanced to be in the tavern, an acquaintance of 
his came along in the stage-coach, and the two eager 
ly exchanged salutations. The keeper of the hotel, 
seeing this, took the stranger aside, and said : 

" You seem to be acquainted with this gentleman ?" 

" Yes ; I know him : it is Colonel Gibbs, of Long 
Island." 

" Well, he said his name was Gibbs, but he is as 
mad as a March hare." 

" Indeed : what makes you think so ?" 

" Why he has been here a fortnight knocking all 
Monadnock to pieces. He has spent all his money, 
and given away his clothes, till he hasn't a shirt to 
his back. If you are a friend of his, you ought to 
make his family acquainted with his situation, so 
that he may be taken care of." 

" Oh, I understand. The colonel is not insane : 
he is a mineralogist." 

" A what ?" 

" A mineralogist a collector of curious stones." 

" Are they to eat ?" 

" No ; they are specimens to be preserved for sci 
entific purposes." 

" Ha, ha ! what quiddles there are in this world f 
Every little while, one on 'em comes along here. 
Last year, a man, called a professor from Cambridge, 
stopped here a week, ketching all the bugs, beetles, 
and butterflies he could find. About the same time, 
another man carne, and he went into the mountains, 

VOL. I. 16 



LETf ERS BIOGRAPHIC AL, 

pulling up all the odd weeds and strange plants he 
met with. He took away a bundle as big as a hay 
cock ; and now this Colonel somebody is making a 
collection of queer stones 1 I think the people down 
your way can't have much to du, else they wouldn't 
take to such nonsense as this." 

I give you this story, not vouching for its precise 
accuracy, but as characterizing the zeal for modern sci 
ence, in this its birthday. The truth is, that somewhat 
more than half a century ago, physical science had al 
most completely engrossed the leading minds in Eu 
rope. Discouraged or disgusted with diving into the 
depths of metaphysics, the learned world eagerly be 
gan to bore into the bowels of the earth : instead of 
studying mind, they pounded and pondered upon mat 
ter. Chemistry, mineralogy, geology, and a whole 
family of ologies, became the rage. This transat 
lantic epidemic migrated to America. It was in full 
vigor among the learned here, at the time I speak 
of. In the benighted parts of the country, as in the 
precincts of Monadnock, this mania still appeared 
to be madness. There was method in it, how 
ever. The modern discoveries of chemistry, min 
eralogy, &c., as already intimated, have wrought a 
change in human knowledge, astonishing alike for 
the enlargement of its boundaries, the novelty of its 
revelations, and the certainty and precision which 
have taken the place of doubt and conjecture. The 
hills, the mountains, the valleys, with their founda- 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTICAL, ETC. 303 

tions the layers of rocks which have been hidden 
from the "beginning" have been examined, and their 
secrets laid open to the world. Here have been found 
the traces of kingdoms vegetable, mineral, and an 
imal belonging to other creations, such as leaves of 
perished races of plants, bones of extinct races of ani 
mals, rocks built before the flood. These have all 
become familiar to us, and their inscriptions have dis 
closed wonders of which mankind had never before 
dreamed. Thus within the last fifty years, new sci 
ences have been created, and have lavished their 
wonders upon the astonished world. Champollion 
discovered the means of interpreting the mystic signs 
upon the monuments of Egypt ; but behold a greater 
wonder : Cuvier and his followers have enabled us 
to read the lines written by God upon the rocks which 
were laid deep in the foundations of the earth, mil 
lions of ages ago ! 

When Dr. Webster came to revise his Dictionary 
in 1840, after a lapse of twelve years, he found it ne 
cessary to add several thousand words, in order to 
express the ideas which had recently passed from 
technological science, into our common language. 
Similar additions were required, a few years after, in 
the preparation of another revised edition. Nothing 
can more strikingly mark the progress of knowledge, 
not merely in the minds of scholars, but among the 
masses, during the period to which I refer, than this. 
There is no half century like the last, in the history 



LKTTKKS BIOGKAl'lIIOAL 



of mankind. Nor is the end jet. The thirst for 
discovery seems only to have begun. 

Indeed, such is the celerity of our progress, that 
some heads grow giddy. They begin to see double : old 
men have visions, and young maidens dream dreams. 
Materialism pervades the air, and the new spiritual 
world is a mere mesmeric phantasmagoria of this 
earthy ball, which we inhabit. Spirits, now-a-days, 
push about tables, rap at the door, tumble over the 
chairs, learn the alphabet, and spell their names with 
emphasis. Lusty spirits are they, with vigorous mus 
cles, hard knuckles, and rollicking humors! They 
will talk, too, and as great nonsense as any alive. 
If these are the only kind of souls to be met with, 
in their seven heavens, one would hardly like to go 
there. Eeally, these mesmeric spirits seem very much 
of the ardent kind, and I suspect have more alcohol 
of the imagination than real immortality about them. 

Another remarkable person whom I saw at my un 
cle's house was Eli Whitney, the inventor of the cotton- 
gin. He was a large man of rather full habit, slightly 
round-shouldered, and doubling himself forward as he 
sat. His face was large and slightly oval ; his nose 
long and hooked ; his eye deep-set, black, and keen ; 
his look penetrating and prolonged. His hair was 
black, though sprinkled with gray, for he was now 
some five and forty years old ; his skin was smooth, 
sallow, and pallid. Altogether, his appearance was 
striking, the expression of his face having a deep 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 365 

thoughtfulness about the brow, tempered by a pleas 
ant smile at the corners of the mouth. 

In conversation he was slow, but his thoughts 
were clear and weighty. His knowledge seemed at 
once exact and diversified : he spoke more of science 
than literature ; he was not discursive, but logically 
pursued trains of thought, shedding light at every 
sentence. Few men have lived to more purpose 
than he. Before his time, cotton was separated from 
the seed by hand, and hence its price was thirty to 
fifty cents a pound. He produced a machine, by 
which a series of hooked, iron teeth, playing through 
openings in a receiver, performed the labor of five 
hundred men in a day ! An immense facility in the 
production of cotton has been the result, with a cor 
responding fall in its price and extension of its use, 
throughout Christendom. 

In 1790,* cotton was hardly known in this country ; 

* Cotton appears to have been used in India for making cloths as 
early as 440 B. c., and probably long before that time, yet here the art 
remained isolated for ages. The Arabians at length brought India cot 
ton to Adula, on the Red Sea, whence it was introduced into Europe. 
The cotton manufacture was brought there by the Moors of Spain in the 
ninth century. Raw cotton was first introduced into England from the 
Levant, chiefly for candlewicks. The cotton manufacture was brought 
hither by the refugees from the Low Countries in the time of Queen 
Elizabeth. For a long time, the fabrics produced were coarse ; the finei 
cotton goods muslins, calicoes, chintzes, being largely supplied from 
India. In 1730, Mr. Wyatt first began to spin cotton by machinery. IK 
1742, the first cotton-spinning mill was built at Manchester, the motive- 
power being mules and horses. The entire value of the cotton manu 
facture of England in 1760 was a million of dollars: now it is probablj 
two hundred millions of dollars. 

In 1790, Mr. Slater put up at Pawtucket, R. I., the first cotton-mill in 



866 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

in 1800, the whole product of the United States was 
eighty -five thousand bales ; in 1855, it is three millions 
and a half of bales. Nearly half the nations of the 
earth, seventy-five years ago, went naked or in rags, 
or in bark or skins ; but they are now clothed in cot 
ton. Then a shirt cost a week's work ; now a. man 
earns two shirts in a day. Now, during every twelve 
hours of daylight, the spindles of the world produce 
threads of cotton sufficient to belt our globe twenty 
times round at the equator! And Eli Whitney was 
the Chief Magician who brought this about. 

At the time I speak of, his Gun-factory, two miles 
north of New Haven, was the great curiosity of the 
neighborhood. Indeed, people traveled fifty miles to 
see it. I think it employed about a hundred men. 
It was symmetrically built in a wild romantic spot, 
near the foot of East Eock, and had a cheerful, taste 
ful appearance like a small tidy village. We visited 
it of course, and my admiration was excited* to the 
utmost. What a bound did my ideas make in me 
chanics, from the operations of the penknife, to this 
miracle of machinery ! It was, at the time, wholly 

America. In 1802, the first cotton factory was erected in New Hampshire. 
In 1804, the first power-loom was introduced at Waltham ; in 1822, the 
first cotton factory was built at Lowell. The cotton manufactures of 
the United States now amount to sixty-five millions of dollars a year ! 

In 1789, about one million pounds of cotton were produced in the Uni 
ted States; in 1792, Whitney perfected his gin for cleaning cotton; in 
1810, the United States produced eighty-five millions pounds of cotton: 
in 1820, one hundred and sixty millions; in 1830, three hundred and 
fifty millions ; in 1855, probably fourteen hundred millions. The Uni 
ted States are now the chief cotton producers for the world. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 367 

engaged in manufacturing muskets for the govern 
ment. Mr. Whitney was present, and showed us 
over the place, explaining the various processes. 
Every part of the weapons was made by machinery, 
and so systematized that any lock or stock would fit 
any barrel. All this, which may seem no wonder 
now, was remarkable at the time, there being no sim 
ilar establishment in the country. Among other 
things, we here saw the original model of the Cotton- 
gin,* upon which Mr. Whitney's patent was founded. 

* Eli Whitney was born at Westborough, Mass., in 1765, of parents in 
the middle ranks of life. He showed an early propensity to mechan 
ics, first making a very good fiddle, and then mending fiddles for the 
neighborhood. He once got his father's watch, aud slily took it to 
pieces, but contrived to put it together again, BO as not to be detected. 
At the age of thirteen he made a table-knife to match the set, one of 
which had been broken. During the Kevolutionary war he took to nail- 
making, nails being very scarce, and made a profitable business of it. He 
then made long pins for ladies' bonnets, walking-canes, &c. At the age 
ot' nineteen he began to think of college, and surmounting various obsta 
cles, entered Yale in 1789, having been fitted in part by Dr. Goodrich, 
of Durham. In college he displayed great vividness of imagination in 
his compositions, with striking mechanical talent mending, on a cer 
tain occasion, some philosophical apparatus, greatly to the satisfaction 
and surprise of the Faculty. 

In 1792 he went to Georgia, as teacher in the family of Mr. B . . . . 
On his arrival, he found that the place was supplied; happily he fell 
under the kind care and patronage of Mrs. Greene, widow of Gen. G. 
Hearing the planters lament that there was no way of separating cotton 
from the seed but by hand, and that it took a slave a whole day to clean 
a pound, he set privately to work, and after a time produced his gin, 
which was to make such a revolution in the world. In this process, he 
was obliged to make his own wire. On disclosing his discovery, the 
planters saw at once the vast field of enterprise open to them. Whitney 
took immediate steps to secure a patent, and made arrangements to man 
ufacture gins, but a series of misfortunes and discouragements defeated 
him. The history of his career at this period is a melancholy story of 
efforts baffled, hopes disappointed, and engagements violated, disclo 
sing the most shameful wrongs and outrages on the part of Individ- 



368 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 



LETTER XXIII, 

Durham History of Connecticut- -Distinguished Families of Durham-- 
Tho Chau.nceys, Wadsworths, Lymans, Goodriches, Austins, dkc. Wood,- 
bury How Romance becomes History Rev. Noah Benedict Judge 
Smith. 

MY DKAK C****** 

Having spent about a. week at New Haven, we 
proceeded to Durham, an old-fashioned, sleepy town 
of a thousand inhabitants. Its history lies chiefly in 
the remarkable men it has produced the Chaun- 

Vila, and even of courts and legislatures. He instituted sixty suits in 
Georgia for violations of his rights, and was not able to get a single de 
cision until thirteen years from the commencement ! Thus, in fact, tho 
great benefactor of the cotton interest of the South, only derived years 
of misery and vexation from his invention. 

In 1798, through the influence of Oliver Wolcott, Secretary of the 
Treasury, he obtained a contract for the manufacture of arms for the 
United States, and then established his factory at Whitneyville. He 
was eight years in producing ten thousand pieces. At length, however, 
his measures being completed, his establishment was one of the most 
perfect in the world, and the arms he provided were probably the best 
then made in any country. 

In 1822, he applied for a renewal of his patent for the cotton-gin. It 
was estimated that the value of one hundred millions of dollars had then 
been added to the lands of the South by tliis invention, while he had 
reaped only sorrow and embarrassment ; yet he failed, most of the 
southern members of Congress opposing his request ! 

In 1817, he married a daughter of the celebrated Pierpont Edwards, 
Jndge of the District Court for the State of Connecticut. In 1822, he 
was attacked witli disease, which terminated his career in 1825. His 
character, like life life, was remarkable : though a refined scholar, he 
was a skillful mechanic no man in his shop being able to handle tools 
more dexterously than himself: though possessing a fine imagination, 
and a keen inventive faculty, he had a perseverance in pursuing his 
plans to completion, that nothing could arrest. He was at once ener 
getic and systematic; dignified, yet courteous ; large in his views, yet 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 36'J 

ceys,* celebrated in the literary, clerical, official, and 
professional annals of New England, and I may add, 
of the country at large ; the Wadsworths, no less 
noted in various commanding stations, military and 
civil, public and private ; the Lymans, renowned in 
the battle-field, the college, the pulpit, and the sen 
ate ; the Austins father and son to whose talent 
and enterprise Texas owes her position as a member 
of this Union. 



precise in detail ; a profound thinker, and scrutinizing nature and its 
phenomena with amazing depth of thought, yet coming at last with the 
docility of a child to the Christian's confession " I am a sinner, may 
God have mercy upon me !" 

* Whoever would understand the true history of Connecticut, should 
not confine his reading to general works on this subject, but should 
look into the local histories and genealogical memoranda of towns and 
villages, of which there are now agreat number. A good collection may 
be found in the Library of the Hartford Athenenrn. If any one desires 
to know the annals of Durham, let him read the sermon delivered by 
Professor W. C. Fowler at that place, Dec. 29, 1847, and printed at 
Araherst, Mass., 1848. The notes will prove a revelation, not of history 
only, but of something like romance. The number of great men pro 
ceeding from this small town, in times past, is not only striking but 
instructive, as it suggests and illustrates the manner in which Connec 
ticut has exerted a powerful influence upon this country the United 
States I might even say upon this continent. Among the families of 
Durham, noticed by Professor Fowler, are the following : 

The Chauneeys. Nathaniel Chauncey, grandson of President Chaun- 
ccy, of Harvard College, was born at Hatfield, Mass., 1681, was gradu 
ated at Yale in 1702 belonging to the first class that graduated in that 
college, all of whom became ministers. He was ordained at Durham in 
1711, and died there 1756. His son, Elihu Chauncey, lived in Durham, 
and was a man of high character and large influence. His daughter, 
Catherine, married Dr. Goodrich, who was my grandfather. His son, 
Charles Chauncey, settled at New Haven, and was a man of extensive 
learning and great ability. He became attorney-general of the State 
and judge of the Superior Court. He received the title of LL. D. from 
the college at MMdlebury ; and died 1823. Among his children were 
< 'hurles Chauncoy, LL.D.. distinguished MS an cminci.t lawver and re- 

16* 



370 LKTTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

To this list of remarkable names, I trust I may add 
that of the Goodriches, without the imputation of 
egotism, for historical justice demands it. At the 
time I visited the place, nearly all the family had 
long since left it. My grandfather Dr. Goodrich 
died in 1797, but my grandmother was living, as 
well as her daughter, Mrs. Smith, wife of Rev. David 
Smith, the clergyman of the place, who had succeed 
ed to my grandfather's pulpit. 

I had never any great fancy for genealogies, so I 
did not study the broad-spreading tree of the family, 
its roots running back to the time of Godric the Saxon 
the great Adam of the race as is duly set forth 



fined gentleman, settled at Philadelphia, and died 1349 ; Elihu Chnnn- 
cey, a distinguished merchant of Philadelphia, died 1847. Many others, 
descendants of the Durham Chaunceys, attained distinction. 

The Wadxworths. Among the Durham Wadsworths, were the follow 
ing : Col. James, from Farmington, born 1675, filled various offices, civil 
and military, and was much honored and respected in his time. Gen 
eral James Wadsworth, grandson of the preceding, became major- 
general and member of Congress during the Revolutionary war, died 
1*17, aged 87. James Wadsworth, nephew of the preceding, born 17(53, 
founded the great Wadsworth estate in western New York, and distin 
guished himself by his successful labors in behalf of school education : 
lie died 1844. Other members of this branch of the family have reached 
high and honored celebrity. 

The Lymans. Phineas Lyrnan, born at Durham, 1716, became major- 
general ; gained the victory at Lake George, in the French and Indian 
war, for Gen. William Johnson (who received five thousand pounds 
and a baronetcy therefor), and performed various other military exploits. 
Jle projected a settlement in the Southwest, and died in West Florida, 
1775. The history of his family is full of tragic interest. Other mem- 
bi-rs of the family were distinguished. 

The Goodrichw. See Fowler's notes, above mentioned ; also Hollis- 
ter's History of Connecticut, vol. ii. pp. 684, etc. 

The Austins.- -For this remarkable fumilv. consult also Fowler's notes. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 371 

in King William's Doomsday-Book. Two old bache 
lors of the place a little quaint and starch, but studi 
ously polite and very gentleman-like, with a splendid 
farm, and a house embellished with old oak carvings 
told me something about it, and made it out, by a 
long chain of links, that I was their great, great, double 
cousin ; that is, on my mother's, as well as my father's 
side. My grandmother also explained to me, that 
somewhere since the building of Babel, her family was 
blent with the Griswolds, whence I got my middle 
name in token of which she gave me a reverend 
silver-headed cane, marked I. G., that is, John Gris- 
wold, who was her great-grandfather. Of course, I 
have piously kept this antediluvian relic to the pres 
ent day. 

I trust I have all due respect for this my little, fat, 
paternal grandmother, and who has already, by the 
way, been introduced to your notice. She was now 
quite lame, having broken her leg some years before, 
and appeared to me shorter than ever ; ' nevertheless, 
she was active, energetic, and alive to every thing that 
was passing. She welcomed me heartily, and took 
'he best care of me in the world lavishing upon me, 

without stint, all the treasures of her abundant larder. 

Vs to her Indian puddings alas, I shall never see 
-heir like again ! A comfortable old body she was in 
all things and as I have before remarked, took a 
special interest in the welfare of the generation of 
descendants risinsr UD around her. When she saw 



.', i 3 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

me eating with a good appetite, her benignant grand 
motherly face beamed like a lantern. 

She was a model housekeeper, and as such had great 
administrative talents. Every thing went right in the 
household, the garden, the home lot, the pasture, and 
the little farm. The hens laid lots of large fresh 
eggs, the cows gave abundance of milk, the pigs were 
fat as butter ; the wood-pile was always full. There 
was never any agony about the house : all was me 
thodical, as if regulated by some law of nature. The 
tall old clock in the entry, although an octogenarian, 
was still staunch, and ticked and struck with an em 
phasis that enforced obedience. When it told seven 
in the morning, the breakfast carne without daring to 
delay even for a minute. The stroke of twelve 
brought the sun to the noon -mark, and dinner to the 
table. The tea came at six. At sunset on Saturday 
evening, the week's work was done, and according to 
the Puritan usage, the Sabbath was begun. All sud 
denly became quiet and holy. Even the knitting- 
work was laid aside. Meditation was on every brow ; 
the cat in the corner sat with her eyes half shut, as 
if she too were considering her ways. 

On the morning of the Holy Day, all around was 
silent. The knife and fork were handled quietly, at 
the table. The toilet, though sedulously performed, 
was made in secret. People walked as if they had 
gloves on their shoes. Inanimate nature seemed to 
know that God rested on that day, arid hallowed it. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 373 

The birds put on a Sunday air : the cows did not 
low from hill to hill as on other days. The obstre 
perous hen deposited her egg, and cackled not. At 
nine o'clock, the solemn church bell rang, and in the 
universal stillness, its tones swelled over the village 
like a voice from above. At ten, the second bell 
rang, and the congregation gathered in. There, in 
the place she had held for forty years, was my good 
grandmother, in rain and shine, in summer and in 
winter. Though now well stricken in years, and the 
mother of staunch men their names honored in the 
pulpit, the senate, and at the bar she still faltered 
not in the strait and narrow path of duty. She 
was strong-minded, and showed it by a life which ele 
vated, ennobled, and illustrated the character of the 
mother, the wife, the woman, as she had learned to re 
gard it. It was pleasant to see with what affectionate 
reverence the people saluted her, as if, in addition to 
the love they bore her, she still carried with her re 
membrances of her now almost worshiped husband. 
Many years she lived after this, but she is now num 
bered with the dead. Let her portrait have a place 
in these pages as a fine specimen of the New England 
wife of the olden time. 

As to my uncle and aunt Smith, I may remark that 
they were plain, pious people, the former worthily fill 
ing the pulpit of my grandfather, and enjoying a high 
degree of respect, alike from his position and charac 
ter. Besides attending to his parochial duties, he fit- 



374 LKTTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

ted young men for college. Among his pupils were 
Samuel D. Hubbard, late Postmaster-general of the 
United States, Dr. Dekay, the naturalist, Commodore 
Dekay, and other persons who attained distinction. 
As a man, he was distinguished for his cheerful, frank, 
friendly manners: as a preacher, he was practical, 
sincere, and successful. I must mention a story of 
him, among my pulpit anecdotes. As sometimes hap 
pens, in a congregation of farmers during midsum 
mer, it once chanced that a large number of his people 
fell asleep and in the very midst of the sermon. 
Even the deacons in the' sacramental seat had gone 
cosily to the land of Nod. The minister looked around, 
and just at that moment, the only person who seemed 
quite awake, was his eldest son, David, sitting in the 
minister's pew by the side of the pulpit. Pausing a 
moment and looking down upon his son, he exclaim 
ed, in a powerful voice 

" David, wake up!" 

In a moment the whole congregation roused them 
selves, and long did they remember the rebuke. In 
after-times, when, through the temptations of the 
devil and the weakness of the flesh, during s.ermon- 
time, their sight became drowsy, and dreams floated 
softly over their eyelids, then would come to mind the 
ominous sound, " David, wake up !" and starting from 
their slumbers, they would shake themselves, and fix 
their eyes on the preacher, and wrestle with their in 
firmities like Jacob sometimes, though not always, 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 375 

prevailing like Israel. I need only add in respect to 
this excellent old gentleman, that he is still living, at 
the age of eighty-nine, and last year (1855) preached 
at the capitol in "Washington to an attentive and grat 
ified audience. 

During our stay of two or three weeks at Durham, 
my brother-in-law was so ill as to need the advice 
of a skillful physician. Accordingly I was dispatch 
ed on horseback to Middletown, a distance of eight 
or ten miles, for Dr. O . . . ., then famous in all the 
country round about. On my way I met a man of 
weather-beaten complexion and threadbare garments, 
mounted on a lean and jaded mare. Beneath him 
was a pair of plump saddlebags. He had all the 
marks of a doctor, for then men of this profession 
traversed the country on horseback, carrying with 
them a collection of pills, powders, and elixirs, equiv 
alent to an apothecarj^s shop. A plain instinct told 
me that he was my man. As I was about to pass 
him, I drew in my breath, to ask if he were Dr. 
O . . . ., but a sudden bashfulness seized me : the pro 
pitious moment passed, and I went on. 

On arriving at the house of Dr. O , I learned 

that he had gone to a village in the southwestern 
part of the town, six or eight miles off. " There!" 
said I to myself, " I knew it was he : if I had only 
spoken to him !" However, reflection was vain. I 
followed to the designated spot, and there I found 
that he had left about half an hour before, for another 



376 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

village in the central part of the town. I gave chase, 
but he was too quick for me, so that I was obliged 
to return to Durham without him. " Ah !" I thought, 
"how much trouble a little courage would have saved 
me !" In fact, I took the incident fo heart, and have 
often practiced to advantage upon the lesson it sug 
gested, which is, never to let a doctor, or any thing 
else, slip, for the want of asking an opportune ques 
tion. 

This Dr. O . . . . made several visits to Durham, and 
I remember to have heard my brother-in-law once 
ask him whether he was a Brunonian* or a Cullenite ; 
to which he replied, smartly " Sir, I am a doctor 

* About this time, the " spotted fever" appeared along the Connec 
ticut river, and a change in the general character of fevers took place, 
there being now a tendency to typhoid, instead of inflammatory, symp 
toms, as had been the case before. These circumstances embarrassed and 
baffled the profession. In general, however, they followed their procliv 
ities, and either physicked or stimulated, as their doctrines dictated. In 
point of fact, one practice killed and cured about as well as the other. 
At all events, the plague raged for some years at certain places and at 
particular seasons, and thus society was wrought into a state of frenzy 
upon the two modes of treatment. At a somewhat later date about 
1812 a family that held to brandy, would hardly hold intercourse with 
another which held to jalap. At Hartford, Doctors Todd und Welles, 
who stimulated, were looked upon as little better than infidels by 
those who believed in Dr. Bacon and purgatives. These divisions even 
caught the hues of political parties, and alcohol became democratic, 
while depletion was held to be fe.deral. In the end it proved that botli 
systems were right and both wrong to a certain extent. Experience 
showed that the true mode of practice was to treat each case according 
to its symptoms. The fitness of a physician for his profession, was, 
under these circumstances, manifested by the sagacity with which he 
found his way out of the woods. Dr. O . . . . was one of those who, at 
an early stage of the difficulty, being a doctor himself, that is. being gui 
ded by good sense, and not by slavery, to a system arrived at the true 
mode of practice. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, KTC. 3 7 i 

myself!" The pith of this answer will be felt, when 
it is known that at this period, and indeed for some 
years after, there was a schism in the medical profes 
sion of this region, which became divided into two 
parties ; one of them adopting the theory and prac 
tice of John Brown,* that life is a forced state, de 
pending upon stimuli, and hence that disease and 
death are to be constantly combated by stimulants. 
According to this theory, even certain fevers were to 
be treated with brandy, and in extreme cases, with a 
tincture of Spanish flies internally administered! 
The other followed the theory of Cullen, who adopt 
ed the opposite practice of purgatives and depletion, 
more especially in fevers. A real frenzy ensued, and 

* John Brown was born at Dunse, Scotland, 1735. He studied med 
icine with Cullen, then the leading man of the profession in Great Brit 
ain. After a time he produced his Elements of Medicine, in Latin, de 
signed to overthrow the system which Cullen had produced. Its general 
doctrine, as stated above, was that life is a forced state, only sustained 
by the action of external agents operating upon the body, every part of 
which is furnished with a certain amount of excitability. He discarded 
all drugs, and confined himself to alcohol wine, brandy, &c. for one 
set of diseases, and opium for the opposite set. The simplicity of the 
doctrine and the ability with which it was set forth, gave it for a time 
a fatal currency, not only in Europe but in America. The celebrated 
Dr. Beddoes, among others, adopted and propagated it. The system, 
however, after a time, fell into disrepute. Brown died in 1788, a victim 
of intemperance, probably the result of his medical system. 

William Cullen was born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, 1712, and having 
studied medicine, he practiced with credit at Glasgow. In 1756, he be 
came Professor of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, where he 
greatly distinguished himself. In 1763, he succeeded Dr. Alston as 
Professor of Medicine. As a teacher, his popularity was unbounded. 
His personal character was distinguished for amiableness and purity : 
his medical works for a time exercised a powerful influence, and he is 
still regarded as having greatly advanced the science of medicine, though 
some of his theories have been modified and others rejected. 



378 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

the medical profession, as well as society, were in 
volved in a sort of temporary insanity. 

At length we departed from Durham, and took 
our way homeward, through a series of small towns, 
arriving at last at Woodbury. Here we remained a 
week or ten days, being hospitably entertained by 
the Rev. Noah Benedict, my brother-in-law's uncle. 
He lived in a large, low, old-fashioned house, embow 
ered in elms, and having about it an air of antiquity, 
comfort, and repose. He was himself very aged, 
nearly eighty years old, I should judge. He was, 
like my own lineage, of the orthodox faith, and 
sometimes officiated in his pulpit, though he had now 
a colleague. I need not describe him, further than to 
say that he was a fine old man, greatly beloved by 
his parish, and almost adored by his immediate con 
nections. Close by, in a sumptuous house, lived 
his son, Noah B. Benedict, then a leading lawyer of 
the State. Half a mile to the south, in an antique, 
gable-roofed mansion, dwelt his daughter, the wife of 
Nathaniel Smith, one of the judges of the Supreme 
Court, and regarded as the intellectual giant of his 
time. I have good reason to remember the place, for 
it is now the home of one of my sisters, who married, 
many years later, the only child of its founder long 
since gathered to his fathers. 

The week of our sojourn at Woodbury flew on 
golden wings * ith me. The village itself was after 
my own Leav^ It lies in a small tranquil valley, its 



HISTORICAL, ANECnOTIC.VT,, ETC. 379 

western boundary consisting of a succession of gentle 
acclivities, covered with forests ; that on the east is 
formed of basaltic ledges, broken into wild and pic 
turesque forms, rising sharp and hard against the hori 
zon. Through the valley, in long serpentine sweeps, 
flows a stream, clear and bright now dashing and 
now sauntering ; here presenting a rapid and there a 
glassy pool. In ancient times it was bordered by 
cities of the beaver ; it was now the haunt of a few 
isolated and persecuted muskrats. In the spring and 
autumn, the wild-ducks, in their migrations, often 
stooped to its bosom for a night's lodging. At all 
seasons it was renowned for its trout. In former 
ages, when the rivers, protected by the deep forests, 
ran full to the brim, and when the larger streams 
were filled to repletion with shad and salmon, this 
was sometimes visited by enterprising individuals of 
their race, which shot up cataracts, and leaped over 
obstructing rocks, roots, and mounds, impelled by an 
imperious instinct to seek places remote from the sea, 
where they might deposit in safety the seeds of their 
future progeny. In those days, I imagine, the acci 
dents and incidents of shad and salmon life, often 
rivaled the adventurous annals of Marco Polo or Rob 
inson Crusoe. 

There was, in good sooth, about this little village, 
a singular .union of refinement and rusticity, of cul 
tivated plain and steepling rock, of blooming meadow 
and dusky forest. The long, wide street, saving the 



380 LKTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

highway and a few stray paths, here and there, was 
a bright, grassy lawn, decorated with abundance of 
sugar-maples, which appeared to have found their 
Paradise.* Such is the shape of the encircling hills 
and ledges that the site of the village seems a sort of 
secluded Happy Valley, where every thing turns to 
poetry and romance. And this aptitude is abundantly 
encouraged by history for here was once the favored 
home of a tribe of Indians. All around the rivers, 
the hills, the forests are still rife with legends and 



remembrances of the olden time. A rocky mound, 
rising above the river on one side, and dark forests on 
the other, bears the name of " Pomperaug's Castle ;" 
a little to the north, near a bridle-path that traversed 
the meadows, was a heap of stones, called " Pompe 
raug's Grave." To the east I found a wild ledge, 
called Bethel Bock.f And each of these objects has 



* The street of Woodbury continues to that of Southbury, the two 
united being three miles in length. These are decorated by a double 
line of sugar-maples certainly one of the most beautiful exhibitions of 
the kind I have ever seen. 

t Woodbury is alike historical and legendary ground. Its names 
trace out its story. Quassapaug Lake, Shepaug River, Quanopaug Falls, 
Nonnewaug Falls, tell us of its original proprietors : Rattlesnake Rock, 
and White Deer Hills, bespeak the ancient inhabitants of the forest: 
Bethel Rock, Carmel Hill, and Tophet Hollow, announce the,arrival here 
of the Pilgrim settlers from New Haven: Hall's Rock, Good Hill, Light 
ing's Playground, Scuppo, Hazel Plain, Moose Horn Hill, Ash Swamp, 
all in Woodbury or the vicinity, indicate alike certain traits of scenery, 
with the final settlement of the country by the English. The remark 
able men that have originated in this town within the last century, pre 
sent a marvellous record of ability, patriotism, and piety. My imagina 
tion was greatly excited by the legends I heard when I first visited 
Woodbury, and some years after (1828) I wrote and published in the 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, ETC. 381 

its story. How suggestive how full of imaginings 
was Woodbury to me, when I visited it, five and forty 
years ago ! And the woods, teeming with the smaller 
game the gray-squirrel, the partridge, and quail, my 
old West Mountain acquaintances with what delight 
did I traverse them, gun in hand, accompanied by a 

Legendary at Boston, the following story, which has now become almost 
historical : 

THE LEGEND OF BETHEL EOCK. 

" In the picturesque state of Connecticut, there is not a spot more 
beautiful than the village of Pomperaug. It is situated not very far 
from the western border of the state, and derives its name from a 
tribe of Indians, who once inhabited it. It presents a small, but level 
valley, surrounded by hills, with a bright stream rippling through its 
meadows. The tops of the high grounds which skirt the valley, are 
covered with forests, but the slopes are smooth with cultivation, nearly 
to their summits. In the time of verdure, the plain displays a vividness 
of green like that of velvet, while the forests are dark with the rich 
hues supposed to be peculiar to the climate of England. 

" The village of Pomperaug consists now of about two hundred 
houses, with three white churches, arranged on a street which passes 
along the eastern margin of the valley. At the distance of about twenty 
rods from this street, and running parallel to it for nearly a mile, is a 
rock, or ledge of rocks, of considerable elevation. From this, a distinct 
survey of the place may be had, almost at a glance. Beginning at the 
village, the spectator may count every house, and measure every garden ; 
he may compare the three churches, which now seem drawn close to 
gether ; he may trace the winding path of the river by the trees which 
bend over its waters ; he may enumerate the white farm-houses which 
dot the surface of the valley ; he may repose his eye on the checkered 
carpet which lies unrolled before him, or it may climb to the horizon 
over the dark blue hills which form the border of this enchanting 
picture. 

" The spot which we have thus described did not long lie concealed 
from the prying sagacity of the first settlers of the colony of New 
Haven. Though occupied by a tribe of savages, as before intimated, it 
was very early surveyed by more than one of the emigrants. In the 
general rising of the Indians in Philip's war, this tribe took part with 
the Pequods, and a large portion of them shared in their destruction. 
The chief himself was killed. His son, still a boy, with a remnant of 
his father's people, who had been driven inte exile, returned to their 



382 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

black-eyed stripling, now my respected and gray- 
haired brother-in-law I 

It was a great time, that happy week, for be it re 
membered that for a whole year I had been impris 
oned in a country store. What melody was there 
in the forest echoes, then ! Ah ! I have since heard 

native valley, and lived for a time on terms of apparent submission to 
the English. 

" The period had now arrived when the young chief had reached the 
age of manhood. He took, as was the custom with his fathers, the 
name of his tribe, and was accordingly called Pomperaug. He was 
tall, finely formed, with an eye that gleamed like the flashes of a dia 
mond. He wus such a one as the savage would look upon with idola 
try. His foot was swift as that of the deer; his arrow was sure as 
the pursuit of the eagle; his sagacity penetrating as the light of the sun. 

"Such was Pomperaug. But his nation was passing away; scarce 
fifty of his own tribe now dwelt in the valley in which his fathers had 
hunted for ages. The day of their dominion had gone. There was a 
spell over the Dark Warrior. The Great Spirit had sealed his doom. 
So thought the remaining Indians in the valley of Pomperaug, and they 
sullenly submitted to a fate which they could not avert. 

" It was therefore without resistance, and, indeed, with expressions 
of amity, that they received a small company of English settlers into 
the valley. This company consisted of about thirty persons, from the 
New Haven colony, under the spiritual charge of the Rev. Noah Beni- 
Bon. He was a man of great age, but still of uncommon mental and 
bodily vigor. His years had passed the bourne of threescore and ten, 
and his hair was white as snow. But his tall and broad form was yet 
erect, and his cane of smooth hickory, with a golden head, was evidently 
a thing ' more of ornament than use.' 

" Mr. Benison had brought with him the last remnant of his family. 
She was the daughter of his only son, who, with his wife, had slept 
many years in the tomb. Her name was Mary, and well might she be 
the object of all the earthly affections which still beat in the bosom of 
one whom death had made acquainted with sorrow, and who but for 
her had been left alone. 

" Mary Benison was now seventeen years of age. She had received 
her education in England, and had been but a few months in America. 
She was tall and slender, with a dark eye, full of soul and sincerity. 
Her hair was of a glossy black, parted upon a forehead of ample and 
expressive beauty. When at rest, her appearance wus not striking' 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 383 

Catalan! and Garcia and Pasta and Sontag and Grisi. 
I have even heard the Swedish nightingale ; nay, in 
France and Italy the very home of music and song 
- -I have listened to the true nightingale, which has 
given to Jenny Lind her sweetest and most appro 
priate epithet ; but never, in one or all, have I heard 

but if she spoke or moved, she fixed the attention of every beholder 
by the dignity of her air, blent vrith a tone of tender, yet serious senti 
ment. 

" The settlers had been in the valley but a few months, when some 
matter of business relative to a purchase of land, brought Fornperaug to 
the hut of Mr. Benison. It was a bright morning in autumn, and while 
he was talking with the old gentleman at the door, Mary, who had been 
gathering flowers in the woods, passed by them and entered the place. 
The eye of the young Indian followed her with a gaze of entrancement. 
His face gleamed as if he had seen a vision of more than earthly beauty , 
But this emotion was visible only for a moment. With the habitual 
self-command of a savage, he turned again to Mr. Benison, and calmly 
pursued the subject which occasioned their meeting. 

" Pomperaug went away, but he carried the image of Mary with him. 
He retired to his wigwam, but it did not please him. He ascended to the 
top of the rock, at the foot of which his wigwam was situated, and which 
now goes under the name of Pomperaug's Castle, and looked down 
upon the river, which was flashing in the slant rays of the morning. 
He turned away, and sent his long gaze over the checkered leaves ot 
the wood, which, like a sea, spread over the valley. He was still dis 
satisfied. With a single leap he sprang from the rock, and, alighting 
on his feet, snatched his bow and took the path which led into the 
forest. In a few moments he came back, and, seating himself on the 
rock, brooded for some hours in silence. 

" The next morning Pomperaug repaired to the house of Mr. Benison 
to finish the business of the preceding day. He had before signified an 
inclination to accede to the terms proposed by Mr. Benison, but he now 
started unexpected difficulties. On being asked the reason, he answered 
aa follows: 

" ' Listen, father hear a Eed Man speak ! Look into the air, and you 
see the eagle. The sky is his home, and doth, the eagle love his home ? 
Will he barter it for the sea I Look into the river, and ask the fish that 
is there, if he will sell it? Go to the dark-skinned hunter, and demand 
of him if he will part with Ms forests ? Yet, father, I will part with my 
forests, if you will give me the singing bird that is in thy nest.' 



384 LETTERS BIOGBAPHICAL, 

such music as filled my ears, that incense-breathing 
morn, when I made a foray into the wilds of Wood- 
bury ! There was indeed no nightingale there : the 
season of wood minstrelsy was passed; even the 
thrush had descended from its perch aloft, and ceas 
ing its melodies, was busy in the cares of its young 

" ' Savage,' said the pilgrim, with a mingled look of disgust and in 
dignation, ' will the lamb lie down in the den of the wolf? Never ! 
Dream not of it I would sooner see her die ! Name it not.' As he 
spoke he struck his cane forcibly on the ground, and his broad figure 
seemed to expand and grow taller, while his eye gleamed, and the 
muscles of his brow contracted with a lowering and angry expression. 
The change of the old man's appearance was sudden and striking. 
The air and manner of the Indian, too, was changed. There was now a 
- kindled fire in his eye, a proud dignity in his manner, which a moment 
before was no,t there ; but these had stolen upon him, with that imper 
ceptible progress by which the dull colors of the serpent, when he be 
comes enraged, are succeeded by the glowing hues of the rainbow. 

*' The two now parted, and Pomperaug would not again enter into 
any negotiations for a sale of his lands. Ho kept himself, indeed, aloof 
froin the English, and cultivated rather a hostile spirit in his people 
toward them. 

"As might have been expected, difficulties soon grew up between 
the two parties, and violent feelings were shortly excited on both sides. 
This broke out into open quarrels, and one of the white men was shot 
by a savage lurking in the woods. This determined the settlers to 
seek instant revenge, and accordingly they followed the Indians into 
the broken and rocky districts which lie esfit of the valley, whither, ex 
pecting pursuit, they had retreated. 

"It was about an hour before sunset, when the English, consisting of 
twenty well-armed men, led by their reverend pastor, were marching 
through a deep ravine, about two milos east of the town. The rocks 
on either side were lofty, and so narrow was the dell, that the shadows 
of night had already gathered over it. The pursuers had sought their 
enemy the whole day in vain ; and having lost all trace of them, they 
were now returning to their homes. Suddenly a wild yell burst from 
the rocks at their feet, and twenty savages sprang up before them. An 
arrow pierced the breast of the pilgrim leader, and he fell. Two In 
dians were shot, and the remainder fled. Several of the English were 
wounded, but none mortally, save the aged pastor. 

"With mournful silence they bore back the body of their father. He 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTICAL, ETC. o w 5 

ones, now beginning life in the bush. It was the echo 
of my own heart, that gave to simple and familiar 
sounds that of the far-off barking dog, the low of 
distant herds, the swing of the village bell, the mur 
mur of the brooks, the rustle of the leaves in the 
joyous breath of morning their real melody. And 



was buried in a sequestered nook of the forest, and with, a desolate and 
breaking heart the orphan Mary turned away from his grave, to be for 
the first time alone in their humble house in the wilderness. 
* * * * * 

"A year passed. The savages had disappeared, and the rock on 
which the pilgrim met his death had been consecrated by many prayers. 
His blood was still visible on the spot, and his people often came with, 
reverence to kneel there and offer up their petitions. The place they 
called Bethel Rock, and piously they deemed that their hearts were 
visited here with the richest gifts of heavenly grace. 

" It was a sweet evening in summer, when Mary Benison, for the last 
time, went to spend an hour at this holy spot. Long had she knelt, 
aud most fervently had she prayed. Oh ! who can tell the bliss of that 
heavenly communion to which a pure heart is admitted in the hours of 
solitude and silence ! The sun went down, and as the vail of evening 
fell, the full moon climbed over the eastern ledge, pouring its silver 
light into the valley, and Mary was still kneeling, still communing with 
Him who seeth in secret. 

" At length a slight noise, like the crushing of a leaf, woke her from 
her trance, and with quickness and agitation she set out on her return. 
Alarmed at her distance from home at such an hour, she proceeded 
with great rapidity. She was obliged to climb up the face of the rocks 
with care, as the darkness rendered it a critical and dangerous task. 
At length she reached the top. Standing upon the verge of the cliff, 
><he then turned a moment to look back upon the valley. The moon 
was shining full upon the vale, and she gazed with a mixture of awe 
and delight upon the sea of silvery leaves which slept in deathlike 
repose beneath her. She then turned to pursue her path homeward, 
but what was her amazement to see before her, in the full moonlight, 
the tall form of Pomperaug ! She shrieked, and, swift as his own. 
arrow, she sprang over the dizzy cliff. The Indian listened there was 
a moment of silence then a heavy sound and the dell was still aa 
the tomb. 

" The fate of Mary was known only to Pomperaug. He buried her 
with a lover's care amid the rocks of the glen. Then, bidding adieu to 

Vol.. I. 17 



LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

then the merry mockery of the red- squirrel, flying, 
rather than leaping from tree to tree, with the hearty 
guffaw of his gray brother, rioting in the abundance 
of some aged hickory : how did these add to the 
general harmony ! And more than all this, there 
was occasionally the low whistle of the quail, steal 
ing through the leaves, attended at intervals by the 

his native valley, he joined his people, who had retired to the banks of 
the Housatonic. 

***** 

" More than half a century subsequent to this event, a rumor ran 
through the village of Pomperaug, that some Indians were seen at 
night, bearing a heavy burden along the margin of the river, which 
swept the base of Pomperaug's Castle. In the morning a spot was 
found near by, on a gentle hill, where the fresh earth showed that the 
ground had been recently broken. A low heap of stones on the place 
revealed the secret. They remain there to this day, and the little mound 
is shown by the villagers as Pomperaug's grave." 



Such is the legend as I wrote it. The reader will find in Cothren's 
History of Ancient Woodbury, the exact version of the story, as authen 
tic chroniclers have now established it. The true name of the place is 
Woodbury, instead of Pomperaug : the Indian hero must be called 
Waramaukeag, not Pomperaug: the aged minister is to be called Walk 
er, in lieu of Benison ; and the heroine, his niece, must bear the same 
name, with the baptismal title of Sarah. With these emendations, pop 
ular faith has sanctioned the general outlines of my invention. Thns, 
it seems, a romance requires about thirty years to crystallize into ver 
itable history 1 

The name of Bethel Rock is, however, strictly historical; here tiio 
ancient settlers actually assembled for worship; and in commemoration 
of this fact, a few years since, Dr. Beecher, then settled at Litohfield, with 
several other clergymen of the vicinity, came hither and united in prnyer. 
The records of Woodbury, as given us by the historian already alluded 
to, show its chronicles to be almost as full of incident, legend, and ad 
venture, as the Highlands of Scotland. All that is wanted to render 
them as deeply interesting, is the inspiration of the poet to sing and 
sat them to music. Mr. Cothren has made a good beginning, for his 
history breathes of romance without impeaching its truthfulness, as is 
vinced by the titles of some of his topics, like the following : Legend 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 387 

rolling drum of the partridge,* reminding me, with 
all the force of old associations, that I was once more 
at liberty in the forest. How great, how impressive 
do little and even common things become, when seen 
through the prismatic lens of youthful remembrance ! 
During our stay in Woodbury, as I have said, we 
lodged at the house of the aged clergyman, Father 
Benedict, f as he was generally called. I remember 

of Squaw Eock: the Belt of Wampum: Mr. Boardman's Praying 
Match : Watchbrok's Disclosure, &c., &c. 

* All American woodsmen will know that I here speak of the ruffed 
grouse, which in the autumn makes the forest echo by rapidly beating 
some old decayed trunk of a fallen tree with its wings. To a sports 
man, it is a sound of lively interest for it seems to be a sort of chal 
lenge to the sport. 

t Rev. Noah Benedict was a native of Danbnry, and gradua'ed at 
Nassau Hall in 1757. He received the degree of Master of Arts, ad un- 
dem, from Yale College, in 1760, and was a fellow of that institution ircm 
1801 to 1812. He was a man of sound piety, and of great dignity and 
amiability of temper. He held an honored place in the affections of his 
people. He was successful as a spiritual teacher, and was followed to 
the tomb by his parishioners with hearts throbbing with grief. His 
church has been noted for the length of time it has enjoyed the ger 
vices of its ministers. There is perhaps no other instance in the coun 
try where a church has been presided over by three pastors, as has been 
the case with this, for the long period of one hundred and forty-three 
years. 

Mr. Benedict was spoken of, during his life, and is still so rememberc'l, 
as one of the fairest specimens of the good clergymen of Connecticut. 
Constitutionally, he had a well-balanced mind ; singularly discreet and 
exemplary in his every-day deportment and in all the relations of life ; 
as a preacher and counselor, he held a high rank. His temper was even, 
and his condition was placid and easy. Temptations, he was cautious, 
and even zealous to put, if possible, out of his way. He once had a fa-, 
vorite horse young, sound, gentle, active, and graceful ; the animal was 
admired by his rider's parishioners. But Mr. Benedict, to the surprise 
of all, sold the horse. A neighbor expressed his astonishment at the 
event, and inquired the reason of it. " He was growing unruly," was 
the grave pastor's reply. " But I thought," said the man, " that he was 
a very orderly horse." " No," was the rejoinder ; " he was growing 



388 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

his voice still, which was remarkable for its tender, 
affectionate tones. There was also a childlike simpli 
city in his prayers, which was very touching. These 
made such an impression on me that I could now re 
peat several passages, which were perhaps favorites, 
as they came in every petition. 

Of Judge Smith, his son-in-law whom I have al 
ready mentioned I have also the most vivid recol 
lections. He was then about fifty years of age. His 
hair was jet black, his eye black and piercing, his 
complexion swarthy. He was of middle height, of a 
large and massive mould. There was a mingled 
plainness and majesty about his appearance, such as 
might have suited Cincinnatus. He was a great 
farmer, and devoted himself with intense interest to 
his tillage, his cattle, and his flocks, during the re 
cesses of the courts. At these times, he seemed to 
delight in the rustic sports and simple pastimes to 
which he had been accustomed in early life. After 
the day's task was done, he was often seen in the 
midst of his workmen, gathered upon some grassy 
plain, for the race, the wrestle, or other gymnastic 

quite unruly : he once got into the pulpit, and I thought it was time to 
part with him." 

This minister was blessed in his family, and honored in the alliances 
of his children by marriage, and by their eminent usefulness and the 
distinctions to which they attained in public offices and employments. 
His people never desired his separation : death effected it in the year 
1813, at the age of seventy-six. He lives in the sweet and grateful re 
membrance of the aged in his parish and out of it ; and the present 
generation of Woodbury have heard from the reverential and affection 
ate, the story of his goodness. Cothrens History of A/<cUrU Wovdbu.ru. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, ETC. 389 

exercises he being the umpire, and joining heartily 
in the spirit of frolic and fun, proper to the occasion. 
Nothing could be more admirable than his inter 
course with his family and the people around him. 
All knew him to be the judge, yet all felt that he was 
even more to them the father, friend, and neighbor. 

Few men have left behind them a biography at 
once so striking and so spotless. " Perhaps," says 
the chronicler, " the history and character of no other 
man could be more profitably studied by the youth 
of ardent aspirations, feeling the fire of genius burn 
ing within him, and struggling under the power of 
adverse circumstances for an honorable position in 
society, than that of Mr. Smith. He furnishes a bril 
liant example of what the innate force of a mighty 
intellect can accomplish, though surrounded by diffi 
culties and obstacles."* 

The father of Mr. Smith was poor, and hence he had 
an extremely limited education. While yet young, 
he and his brother were engaged in trading between 
Philadelphia and the northern parts of New England. 
Being once at Kutland, Vermont, and having a little 
leisure, he went into the court-house, and heard a trial 
there. He became deeply interested, and after a little 
reflection, he said to his brother " I have been to 
Philadelphia, to sell new rum, for the last time : I am 
determined to be a lawyer. Ignorant as I am, I 

* Cotlireii's History of Ancient Woodbury, p. 398. 



390 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

could have managed the case I heard in court, better 
than either of the parties engaged. My mind is 
made up !" Soon after this, he offered himself as a 
student in the office of Judge Eeeve of Litchfield. 
The latter, knowing his unlettered condition, attempt 
ed to dissuade him from an attempt which seemed so 
hopeless. As Smith persisted, however, he lent him 
a book, desiring him to read it, and come back in a 
week for an examination. This he did, and the judge 
was so struck with his intelligence and capacity, that 
he received him into his office, and thenceforward 
gave him every encouragement. Such was his prog 
ress, that he was admitted to the bar, even before the 
time usually required for study had elapsed. 

What had been so well begun was, in due time, 
finished in a similar manner. Mr. Smith rose with 
unexampled rapidity to the front ranks of his profes 
sion, and that too at a time when the Connecticut 
bar shone with a constellation of great names. His 
clearness of statement, his simple but vigorous logic, 
his fertility and felicity of illustration, all aided by 
a manly presence and a voice of prodigious power, 
gave him a mastery alike over the plainest and the 
most instructed audience. These high gifts were 
nerved by an iron will, and when once he was roused 
to an earnest effort, his course was marked with a 
crushing energy, which bore down all opposition. It 
is said that sometimes, in the consciousness of his 
power, he rode rough-shod over his adversary, though 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 391 

in general his practice was signalized not only by 
justice but amenity. 

It appears that although Mr. Smith thus rose to dis 
tinction, he still preserved the good-will of the people 
at large, in an uncommon degree. He soon passed 
through various stages of official advancement : in 
1789, he represented his native town in the General 
Assembly; in 1795, he was sent to Congress; in 1800, 
he was a member of the State Council ; in 1806, he 
was judge of the Superior Court, an office which he 
held for eleven years, when the state of his health 
compelled him to resign. In all these positions he was 
distinguished for his ability, his good sense, his right 
feeling, his patriotism, justice, dignity. Yet it is re 
corded that in this elevated career, he never ceased to 
be stamped with the simplicity of the country farmer. 
The farm was, indeed, the place which he seemed 
most to enjoy. His intercourse with country people 
was marked with a fellowship very rare in a profes 
sional man, and hence, no doubt, that general feeling 
of kindliness among the masses, which even yet cher 
ishes his memory in his native valley, and indeed 
throughout his native State. 

It is greatly to be regretted that none of the higher 
oratorical efforts of this great man are preserved. The 
reporting of speeches so common now was un 
known in his day, and he had too little love of self- 
display to report what he said, himself. There was, in 
general, a modesty, a self-forgetfulness about him. 



i>9'2 r.KTTEKS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

quite as remarkable as the greatness of his intellect. 
He shrunk from no public duty, but he coveted no 
public honors. When not officially called away, his 
home, his farm, and the house of worship for he was 
a man of steadfast piety were his chosen scenes and 
sources of interest. When I saw him, he was at the 
height of his fame: all eyes looked at him with ad 
miration. It may be imagined, therefore, that a 
strong impression was made upon my mind, when 
one evening chancing to be at his house I saw 
him kneel down in the midst of his gathered fam 
ily, including the servants, and offer up his evening 
prayer, with all the earnest simplicity and feeling 
of a child, addressing a revered but beloved father. 
There was something inexpressibly touching and 
affecting in the scene, and especially in the thrilling, 
pleading tones of the speaker, poured out as if from 
the fullness of an overflowing heart. It was, indeed, 
a scene never to be forgotten a lesson never to fail 
of imparting instruction.* 

* The family of Judge Smith has been morked with great vigor of 
mind and character. He assisted his brother Nathan who had shared 
In his early poverty and depression to fit himself for the bar, and he 
finally rose to great eminence professional and political. lie died at 
Washington being then a Senator of the United States Dec. 6, 1835, 
aged 85. 

Truman Smith, nephew of Judge Smith, settled at Litchfield, and 
became a leading member of the bar. In 1848, he was elected to the 
Senate of the United States, and was distinguished for those masculine 
powers of oratory, combined with practical good sense, which marked 
his eminent relatives, just. named. Though elected for a second term, 
lie resigned his seat in 1854. 

Nathaniel B. Smith, only child of the judge, inherited his t'ann, and 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, KTC. 393 



LETTER XXIV. 

The Cold Winter and a Sharp Hide Description of Daribury The Hat 
Manufactory The Sandimanians Gen. Wooster's Monument Death 
of my Brother-in-law Master White Mathematics Farewell to Dan- 
bury. 

MY DEAR C ****** 

We returned to Danbury after a tour of some five 
or six weeks. The succeeding autumn and winter 
presented no peculiar incident with a single excep 
tion. There was, if I rightly remember, in the month 
of February,* a certain " cold Friday," which passed 
down to succeeding generations as among the marvels 
of the time. It had snowed heavily for three days, and 
the ground was covered three feet deep. A driving 
wind from the northeast then set in, and growing 
colder and colder, it became at last so severe as to force 
everybody to shelter. This continued for two days, the 
whole air being filled with sleet, so that the sun, with 
out a cloud in the sky, shone dim and gray as through 
a fog. The third day, the wind increased, both in 
force and intensity of cold. Horses, cattle, fowls, 
sheep, perished in their coverings. The roads were 
blocked up with enormous drifts: the mails were 

his love of agriculture, which lie has pursued with great science and 
success. He has filled various public offices, but probably values among 
liis highest honors, his medals for the best examples of stock and tillage, 
awarded him, on various occasions, by the Connecticut State Agricul 
tural Society. He is now president of that institution (13.~if>). 

* This was. I think, in 180'J, though it might have been a year later 

17* 



394 LKTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

stopped, traveling was suspended ; the world, indeed, 
seemed paralyzed, and the circulation of life to be 
arrested. 

On the morning of this third day which was the 
ominous and famous Friday word was brought to 
my sister that a poor family, to whom she had long 
been a kind of providence, about two miles off, was 
in danger of starvation. She knew no fear, and tol 
erated no weakness. A thing with her that ought 
to be done, was to be done. Therefore, a sack was 
filled with bread, meat, candles, and a pint of rum : 
this was lashed around my waist. The horse was 
brought to the door I mounted and set off. I knew 
the animal well, and we had enjoyed many a scam 
per together. He was indeed after my own heart 
clean-limbed, with full, knowing eyes, and small, 
pointed, sensitive ears. He had a cheerful walk, a 
fleet, skimming trot, a swift gallop, and all these 
paces we had often tried. I think he knew who was 
on his back ; but when we got to the turning of the 
road, which brought his nostrils into the very tunnel 
of the gale, he snorted, whirled backward, and seemed 
resolved to return. I however brought him sternly 
to his work, gave him sharp advice in the ribs, and 
assured him that I was resolved to be master. Hesi 
tating a moment as if in doubt whether I could be 
in earnest he started forward; yet so keen was the 
blast, that he turned aside his head, and screamed ;is 
if his nostrils wore pierced with hot iron. On lie 




THE COLD FRIDAY. Vol. 1. p. 394. 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOJICAL, KTC. 305 

\veut, liowover, in some instances up to the saddle 
in the drift, yet clearing it at full bounds. 

In a few minutes we were at the door of the miser 
able hut, now half buried in a snow-drift. I was 
just in time. The wretched inmates a mother and 
three small children without fire, without food, 
without help or hope were in bed, poorly clothed, 
and only keeping life in their bodies by a mutual 
cherishing of warmth, like pigs or puppies in a sim 
ilar extremity. The scene within was (iismal in the 
extreme. The fireplace was choked with snow, which 
had fallen down the chimney : the ill-adjusted doors 
and windows admitted alike the drift and the blast, 
both of which swept across the room in cutting cur 
rents. As I entered, the pale, haggard mother, com 
prehending at a glance that relief had come, burst 
into a flood of tears. I had no time for words. I 
threw them the sack, remounted my horse, and, the 
wind at my back, I flew home. One of my ears was 
a little frost-bitten, and occasionally for years after, a 
tingling and itching sensation there, reminded me of 
my ride, which after all left an agreeable remembrance 
upon my mind. 

Danbury* is a handsome town, now numbering 

* Danbnry is one of the semi-capitals of Fairfield county, the courts 
being held here and at Fairfield, alternately. The main street is nearly 
two mL'f-k in length, and presents many handsome residences. Tho 
society is marked by more than ordinary intelligence and refinement. 
The Indian name of the place was Pah-qul-o-que, and it was first settled 
by the English in 1684. It has been prolific in distinguished men : the 
names of its early founders having been spread fur and wide, and many 



39f> LKTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

six thousand inhabitants ; but in my time there were 
scarcely more than half that number. It is chiefly 
built on a long, wide street, crossed near the northern 
extremity by a small river, a branch of the Housato* 
nic, which, having numerous rapids, affords abundance 
of mill-sites in its course. At this crossing, there 
were two extensive hat-factories, famous over the 
whole country, and belonging, the one to White, 
Brothers & Co., and the other to Tweedy & Co. Their 
hats were the rage with the fashionable Genins, St. 
Johns, Knoxes, and Beebes of that age. I believe, 
indeed, that these factories, with others of more mod 
ern date, are still maintained. 

Nearly all the workmen in these establishments of 
whom there were several hundred at the time I am 
describing, were foreigners, mostly English and Irish. 
A large part of the business of our store was the fur 
nishing of rum to these poor wretches, who bought 
one or two quarts on Saturday night, and fuddled 
themselves till Monday, and frequently till Tuesday. 
A factory workman of those days was thought to be 
born to toil, to get drunk, and make a hell of his home. 
Philanthropy itself had not then lifted its eye or its 
hopes above this hideous malaria of custom. We had 
imported these ideas from England and other foreign 
manufacturing countries, and they reigned over the 

of them being yet preserved in the present residents of the place. 
Among these, the names of Wildam, Mys'att, Hoyt, Tweedy, Benedict, 
"White, Starr, Knupp, &<_., are conspicuous. 



HISTOEICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, KTC. 397 

public mind. That large humanity, which has done 
so much, in modern times, to remove vice and crime, 
and to elevate the public standard of morals, had not 
then set its Star in the West, calling the Wise and Good 
to a new revelation of life. It is a modern discovery 
that manufacturing towns may rise up, where com 
fort, education, morals, and religion, in their best 
and happiest exercise, may be possessed by the toiling 
masses. This is not only a modern, but an American 
discovery, and refutes volumes of abuse that long- 
eared philosophy has leveled at republicanism. 

Danbury is not without other points of interest 
historical and social. It was, as I have shown, the 
scene of one of those wanton and wicked outrages, 
perpetrated upon the people of Connecticut, and in 
deed of many other parts of this country, which 
made the British name offensive to God and man, du 
ring the Revolutionary war. In commemoration of 
the life and services of General Wooster, who fell at 
Ridgefield, in an encounter with these British marau 
ders, there has recently been erected at Danbury a 
beautiful monument of Portland granite, forty feet 
in height, with the following inscription : 

DAVID WOOSTER, 
First Major general of the Connecticut troops 

in the Arniy of the Revolution; 
Brigadier-general of the United Colonies. 

Born at Hartford, March 2, 1710 or 11 ; 
Wounded at Ridgefield, April 27, 1777, while defending 

the liberties of America, 

And nobly died at Danbury, 

May 2, 1777. 



31)8 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

The character of Wooster* was indeed a noble one, 
and the people of Danbury have shown a wise dis 
cernment in the construction of this beautiful memo 
rial of his character and career. 

One item more and I shall take leave of Danbury. 
About midway between the northern and southern 
extremities of the long main street, and a little to the 
west of it, there was a building of moderate size, 
somewhat between a church and a barn, in aspect. It 
was without tower or steeple, so it could not be the 
first : it was nicely built and tidily kept, and could 
not be the last. It was, in fact, the sanctuary of the 
Sandimanians, or, according to the popular accent, 
Sandimmians ; a small sect of forty members then, 
and now dwindled to a still smaller number. 

The history of its founder is well known. Robert 
Sandiman, a Scotchman, having adopted the tenets, 
and married the daughter, of Rev. John Glass an able 



* This monument stands on a solid platform, about twenty feet square, 
at the corners of which are massive stone posts, which support an iron 
railing. The plinth is richly moulded, and the name of WOOSTEB ap 
pears in bold raised letters, upon the front or south side. The General 
is represented, in a beautifully sculptured relief, in the act of falling 
from his horse, at the moment he received the fatal ball. Above this, 
appears a delineation of the State arms ; and higher still, the main 
shaft is ornamented with a trophy, consisting of a sash, sword, and epau 
lettes. On two opposite sides are various appropriate masonic and mili 
tary emblems. The whole is surmounted with a globe, on which stands 
the American Eagle, bearing in his beak the wreath of victory. This 
fine column was consecrated by imposing ceremonies on the 27th April, 
1854, at which the Governor of the State, with many distinguished cit 
izens, deputations from various -lodges, and a large concourse of people, 
assisted. The oration, by Hon. H. C. Deming, was deeply interesting, 
as well on account of its eloquence as its historical reminiscences. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 399 

divine, wlio seems to have been the originator of the 
Scotch Independents became a distinguished defend 
er of his theological views. After a time, he was in 
vited to come to America by some of his admirers 
there, and accordingly he arrived in 1764, and settled 
among them first at Boston, but finally taking up 
his residence at Danbury. He appears to have been 
much disappointed at the character of his adherents, 
and the general state of society in America. This was 
aggravated*by his taking the tory side in the agitation 
which now verged toward the Revolution. His days 
were in fact embittered, and his flock reduced to a 
handful of followers. His death took place in 1771, 
and a simple marble slab, in the burial-ground, op 
posite the court-house, commemorates his name and 
history. He was doubtless a man of ability, but 
his career displays the usual narrowness and in 
consistency of sectarianism founded upon persons, 
rather than principles. His doctrine was, that faith 
is a mere intellectual conviction a bare belief of the 
bare truth. Of course so cold a religion, scarcely dis 
tinguishable in its principle from deism, and giving no 
satisfaction to that constant craving of the soul for a 
more exalted and spiritual life, could not prosper. It 
was only adapted to a few rigid minds like his own. 
His adherents in my time met at their little church 
on the afternoons of Sundays and Thursdays ; they 
sat around a large table, each with a Bible. The 
men rend and discoursed, as the spirit dictated : the 



LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

women were silent. Spectators were admitted, but 
the worshipers seemed not to recognize their pres 
ence. After a prayer and a hymn, they went to the 
house of one of the members, and had a love-feast. 
" Greet one another with a holy kiss," was their max 
im and their practice. 

These customs remain* to the present day, save 
only as to the kiss, which, according to the current re 
port, was modified some years since. The congregation 

was rather mixed, and included the "W R s, a 

family of wealth and refinement, down to N. S . . . ., 
the blacksmith. Mrs. W . . . . R . . . . was a woman 
of great delicacy of person, manners, and dress : her 
lace was the finest, her silks the richest, her muslin 
the most immaculate. She was in breeding a lady, 
in position an aristocrat, in feeling an exclusive. And 
yet, one day, as she walked forth, and chanced to 
turn the corner, close to the central meeting-house, 
wending her way homeward, she came suddenly 
upon the village Vulcan, above mentioned. He was 
in front of his shop, and being a man of full habit, 
and having just put down the heel of an ox, which 
he was shoeing, he was damp with perspiration. 
Nevertheless, the faith was strong within him : "Greet 
one another with a holy kiss !" rushed to his mind, 
and he saluted Mrs. W R . . . ., as in duty bound. 

* A friend writes me (1856) that the Sandimanian church at Danbury 
now numbers three male and fifteen female members. The congrega 
tion comprises about thirty persons. 



n::-T;:irAL, A\;X!K>T;.:A:.. K7C. 401 

She, a saint in profession, but alas, in practice a sin 
ner, as doth appear returned not the salute ! Had 
she been of another sect, abstinence would have 
been a virtue, but in this, it was of course a crime. 
Upon this incident rocked and quaked the whole 
Sandimanian church for some months. At last the 
agitation subsided, and the holy kiss was thence 
forward either abandoned or given with discretion. 
Such is the tale as it was told to me, nearly fifty 
years ago. 

It may be remarked that Saudimanianisrn, which 
originated in a hard, sarcastic mind, subsided into a 
sort of amiable and tranquil Quakerism. Its mem 
bers were noted for purity of life, and some of them 
for habits of abstraction, which marked themselves 
in a cold pallor upon the countenance. Seeming to 
be conscious of a chill at the heart, they sought to 
quicken the circulation of the Spirit, by outward ob 
servances and by peculiarities of worship, such as 
might distinguish them from other Christians. " I 
am better than thou, for I am other than thou," has 
often proved a consoling doctrine for the narrow peo 
ple of narrow creeds. 

A few brief sketches more, and I have done with 
Danbury. The health of my brother-in-law gradu 
ally failed, and at last, as winter approached, he took 
to his room, and finally to his bed. By almost in 
sensible degrees, and with singular tranquillity of 
mind and body, he approached his end. It was a 



402 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

trait of his character, to believe nothing, to do noth 
ing, by halves. Having founded his faith on Christ, 
Christianity was now, in its duties, its promises, 
and its anticipations, as real as life itself. He was 
afflicted with no doubts, no fears. With his mind 
in full vigor, his strong intellect vividly awake, he 
was ready to shake hands with death, and to enter 
into the presence of his God. The hour came. He 
had taken leave of his friends, and then feeling a 
sense of repose, he asked to be left alone. They all 
departed save one, who sat apart, listening to every 
breath. In a few moments she came and found 
him asleep, but it was the sleep that knows no 
waking I 

I continued in the store alone for several months, 
selling out the goods, and closing up the affairs of 
the estate. I had now a good deal of time to my 
self, and thumbed over several books, completing 
my reading of Shakspeare, to which I have already 
alluded. It happened that we had a neighbor over 
the way a good-natured, chatty old gentleman, by 
the name of Ebenezer White. He had been a teacher, 
and had a great taste for mathematics. In those days 
it was the custom to put forth in the newspapers puz 
zling questions of figures, and to invite their solution. 
Master White was sure to give the answer, first. In 
fact, his genius for mathematics was so large, that it 
left rather a moderate space in his brain for common 
sense. He was, however, full of good feelings, and 

16* 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIOAL, ETC. 403 

was now entirely at leisure. Indeed, time hung 
heavy on his hands, so he made me frequent visits, 
and in fact lounged away an hour or two of almost 
every day, at the store. I became at last interested 
in mathematics, and under his good-natured and gra 
tuitous lessons, I learned something of geometry and 
trigonometry, and thus passed on to surveying and 
navigation. This was the first drop of real science 
that I ever tasted I might almost say the last, for 
though I have since skimmed a good many books,- I 
feel that I have really mastered almost nothing. 



LETTER XXV, 

Farewell to Danbury Hartford My First Master and, his Family Me- 
rino Sheep A Wind-up Another Change My new Employer A new 
Era in Life George Sheldon Franklin' 1 ' Biography. 

MY DEAR C****** 

I must now introduce you to a new era in my 
life. Early in the summer of 1811, I took leave of 
Danbury, and went to Hartford. On my arrival 
there, I was installed in the dry-goods store of C. B. 
K . . . ., my father having made the arrangement some 
weeks before. My master was a young man of ex 
cellent disposition, with a pretty wife and two fat 
cherubs of children. I was kindly treated in this 
family, with which I took my meals. Many a happy 



404 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

rornp had I with the children this exercise filling 
in some degree the aching void of my bosom, arising 
from isolation for I was not only in a new place, 
but I was almost without friends or acquaintances. 
My master had no real turn for business, and spent 
much of his time away, leaving the affairs of the 
shop to an old fudge of a clerk, by the name of 
Jones, and to me. Things went rather badly, and 
he sought to mend his fortune by a speculation in Me 
rino sheep* then the rage of the day. A ram sold 



* The Merino sheep appears to he a breed which originated in the 
mountain districts of Estremadura, in Spain, in the time of the Roman 
dominion, from the careful mixture of celebrated European and Asiatic 
breeds. In the time of Tiberius, a ram of this stock was sold for a 
thousand dollars, an enormous price, if we consider the value of money 
at that period. The more tender breeds of sheep became extinct in Italy 
and Greece during the invasions of the northern barbarians, but the 
hardy Merinoes, having thriven in the mountains, survived, and have 
come down to modern times. All the European breeds, now celebrated 
for the fineness of their wool, are crosses of the Merino. 

The first Merinoes brought into the United States were imported by 
Chancellor Robert R. Livingston a pair of each sex in 1802. M. De- 
lessert sent a few others, soon after. Little attention, however, was paid 
to the subject, and it seems that about 1805, half-breeds were sold at a 
price below that of common sheep. Afterward, a larger importation was 
made by Col. Humphries, who had been our Minister to Spain, and our 
Consul, Jarvis : these were three hundred in number, and arrived in 
1810. Humphries tells us that he had turned his thoughts to this subject 
before he left Spain, and as he seems to have consulted his muse iu ev 
ery thing that interested him, he had there written a poem, the burden 
of which is found in the following stanzas : 

" Oh might my guidance from the downs of Spain, 
Lead a white flock across tbe western main ; 
Famed like the hark that hore the Argonaut 
Should he the vessel with the burden fraught I 
Clad In the raiment my Merinoes yield ; 
Like Cincinnatus, fed from my own field ; 
Far from ambition, grandeur, care, and strife, 
In sweet fruition of domestic life ; 



HISTOKICAL, AKECDOTICAL, ETC. 405 

for a thousand dollars and a ewe for a hundred a 
great discount certainly for gender ; but Maria An 
toinette Brown and her school had not yet equal 
ized the sexes. Fortunes were made and lost in a day, 
during this mania. With my master, it was great cry 
and little wool ; for after buying a flock and driving 
it to Vermont, where he spent three months, he came 
back pretty well shorn that is, three thousand dol 
lars out of pocket! This soon brought his affairs to 
a crisis, and so in the autumn I was transferred to 

the dry-goods store of J. B. H 

My new employer had neither wife nor child to 
take up his time, so he devoted himself sedulously to 
business. He was indeed made for it elastic in his 
frame, quick-minded, of even temper, and assiduous 
politeness. He was already well established, and 
things marched along as if by rail. For a time, we 
had another clerk, but he was soon dismissed, and I 
was the only assistant ; my master, however, seldom 
leaving the shop during business hours. Had trade 
been in me, I might now have learned it. I think I 
may say, that I fulfilled my duty, at least in form ; 
I was regular in my hours, kept the books duly jour 
nalized and posted. I never consciously wronged 
arithmetic to the amount of. a farthing. I duly per- 

There would I pass with friends, beneath my trees, 
What rests from public life, in letter'd ease." 

This poetic aspiration became history : in 1809, when Madison was 
inaugurated, his coat was made of Merino cloth from a manufactory 
established by Humphries, and his small-clothes from one founded by 
Chancellor Livingston. See Cyclopedia of Amer. Leterature, vol. i. p. 876 



406 LETTEKS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

formed my task at the counter. Yet, in all this, I 
was a slave : my heart was not in my work. My 
mind was away : I dreamed of other things ; T 
thought of other pursuits. 

And yet I scarcely knew all this. I had certainly 
no definite plan for the future. A thousand things 
floated before my imagination. Every book I read 
drew me aside into its own vortex. Poetry made 
me poetical ; politics made me political ; travels 
made me truant. I was restless, for I was in a wrong 
position, yet I asked no advice, for I did not know 
that I needed it. My head and heart were a hive of 
thoughts and feelings swarming in the sunny spring 
tide of life without the regulating and sedative su 
premacy of a clear and controlling intelligence. My 
imagination was a flame, playing around my yet cloud 
ed understanding, and giving to this its own wavering 
and blinding light. 

It may seem to you, my dear C , that 1 am 

treating with undue emphasis and detail this unspo 
ken history of a boy in a country store. Yet such 
in the main is life, with the great as with the small. 
Remember, I am speaking of that crisis of existence, 
when an impulse to the right or left may determine 
the direction and the end of a whole career. You 
are a philosopher, and can not be indifferent to any 
experience that may throw light upon the history of 
the human heart. You are, besides, a parent, and as 
such, can not be too well advised of what passes in 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOT1CAL, ETC. 4:07 

the bosom of youth, and especially as they stand at 
the door of manhood. No one can know too well 
the mastery which slight events at this period may 
exercise over a long and fearful future. Therefore, 
pass not disdainfully over this page of my story ! 

My experience was, no doubt, in some degree ex 
ceptional. With considerable knowledge, gathered by 
glimpses, in a scramble, as I passed along in an irreg 
ular and uncertain road, I had really no education in 
the sense of mental discipline. What I knew was by 
halves, and it had been so acquired that my mind was 
a thicket of weeds and flowers, without a defined path 
to get into or out of it. All that I had was instinct, 
somewhat enlightened, perhaps, by my early religious 
training. On questions of right and wrong, in feeling 
and conduct, my conscience should have been a safe 
guide ; but in respect _to the understanding, as to 
logic of thought I scarcely knew the process. My 
imagination was like an unbridled colt, and it car 
ried me whither it would. In reflecting upon this in 
maturer years, I have compared my mind to that slip 
pery bird of the sea the loon which usually comes 
up in the direction exactly opposite to that in which 
it goes down. In argument, in reflection, in delib 
eration, with myself or others if I began upon one 
thing, I was pretty sure to get speedily stranded upon 
another. All that I knew of myself was, that I felt ; 
I had not yet, in fact, learned the process of sober in 
duction and methodical reasoning. I had just that 



4:08 LETTERS BIOGKAPHICAL, 

little learning which is a dangerous thing, because it 
imparts intoxication, not inspiration. 

So far, then, my condition was certainly peculiar. 
But in regard to that impulse which rises up in the 
youthful bosom like a gale to the ship, coming in the 
midst of seeming calm, and bringing every sail and 
spar suddenly and by surprise to its work I was 
like other boys at the threshold of a new and start 
ling era in life. What gigantic strides seem then to 
be at command with the seven-leagued boots of gristle 
manhood ! And yet, with such an impetus, the youth 
may yield himself to a word, a thought, which takes 
the helm, and guides the spirit, through weal or woe, 
to its doom. 

" My boyhood vanish'd, and I woke, 

Startled, to manhood's early morn 
No father's hand my pride to yoke, 

No mother's angel voice to warn ! 

****** 
The spark forever tends to flame 

The ray that quivers in the plash 
Of yonder river, is the same 

That feeds the lightning's ruddy flash. 
The summer breeze that fans the rose, 

Or eddies down some flowery path, 
Is but the infant gale that blows 

To-morrow with the whirlwind's wrath. 
And He alone who wields the storm, 

And bids the arrowy lightnings play, 
Can guide the heart, when, wild and warm, 

It springs on passion's wings away. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOT1CAL, ETC. 409 

Cue augel minister is sent, 

To guard and guide us to the sky, 
And still her sheltering wing is bent, 

Till manhood rudely throws it by. 
Oh, then with mad disdain we spurn 

A mother's gentle teaching ; throw 
Her bosom from us, and we burn 

To rush in freedom, where the glow 
Of pleasure lights the dancing wave 

We launch the bark, we woo the gale, 
And reckless of the darkling wave 

That yawns below, we speed the sail!" 

Thus many a youth rushes upon his fate. Some, 
indeed, are always sober and judicious : they plod on 
wisely and prosperously, not so much on account of 
the influence of home instruction, nor indeed by 
happy accident, but through inherent steadiness of 
character. Yet these cases are not frequent. Nearly 
all pass through the straits of Scylla on one side and 
of Charybdis on the other. Some escape, but, alas, 
how many are fatally wrecked ! how many only live 
on to scandalize society, to break the hearts of their 
parents, to debase and degrade themselves and their 
companions ! It is sad to reflect upon the number of 
young men who are lost at this turning-point this 
" doubling the Cape" of life. Several of my earliest 
acquaintances have gone down, long since, to their 
graves, the victims of those hidden quicksands which, 
beset the youthful voyager, at the very moment when 
his sails are filled with flattering hopes and generous 

VOT,. I. 18 



410 LKTTEKS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

aspirations yet, also, with presumptuous confidence 
In short, they were shoved out to sea with no pilot 
on board but their own passions, and destruction was 
but the too natural consequence. 

That I escaped is no special merit of my own. I 
formed an acquaintance with George Sheldon, which 
soon ripened into friendship, and this had great influ 
ence on my future life. He was, at the time, a clerk 
in the establishment of Hudson & Goodwin,* a firm 



* The following obituary notice, abridged from the Connecticut Cou- 
rant of May 14, 1844, is worthy of insertion, as well for its just picture 
of a good man's life, as for the facts of general interest which it presents. 

" Mr. George Goodwin, whose death was yesterday announced, was 
born in this city (Hartford) on the 7th day of January, 1757, and died the 
18th day of May, 1844, being the oldest man in the town. He was de 
scended from one of those ancient families who made their way from 
Newtown, Mass., through the wilderness, to find a new home on the 
banks of the Connecticut river. 

" At the age of nine years he was placed as an apprentice in a print 
ing-office, where was published a small weekly print, called the Con 
necticut Courant, the first paper printed in this town, and for many 
years the only one upon this river the history of which is so intimately 
connected with that of the deceased as to demand notice. The first 
number was published by Thomas Green, October 29, 1764. In April, 
1768, Mr. Green associated with him in this enterprise, Mr. Ebenezer 
Watson, and retired from it in December, 1770, leaving it in the hands 
of Mr. Watson, alone. In September, 1777, Mr. Watson died, ancl Mr 
Goodwin, a young man of but twenty years of age, was left to conduct 
it. In January, 1778, he became a partner with the widow of Mr. Wat 
son in the establishment, and so continued until her marriage with Mr. 
Hudson, in March, 1779, when he formed a partnership with that gen 
tleman, which continued nearly forty years, or until 1815. Mr. Good 
win, after the dissolution of the concern, continued to superintend the 
paper until the year 1836, when he relinquished it to the present pro 
prietor. But it can hardly be said that his connection with this paper 
ended at that time, for such were his habits of industry, and so fixed 
were his associations, and so long had ho been identified with this es 
tablishment, that he made it one of the stipulations of his contract, 
that he should have a right to work in the office as formerly, whea he 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, KTC. 

then known all over this hemisphere, as publishers 
of the Bible, Webster's Spelling-book, and the Con 
necticut Courant. They were, in the popular mind, 
regarded as the bulwarks of religion, education, and 
federalism three pretty staunch supporters of the 
New England platform, in that epoch of the world. 

was so disposed and for several years after did he avail himself of this 
privilege. Probably no man in this country, perhaps no man in the 
world, had pursued this business for so long a time that is. tor nearly 
eighty years. While under his auspices, this paper gained a circula 
tion almost unknown to country papers, and for a long course of years 
gave a tone to the morals and policy of the State. 

" He was always found on the side of religion and morals, nor was he 
ashamed to profess Christ before men : his great grief was that he had 
not done it earlier. He was a special friend of temperance, and imputed 
his good health and- success in life largely, to a rigid abstinence from 
intoxicating drinks. 

"His politics were learned in the school of the American Eevolutiou. 
In his opinions he was firm and decided, but modest and unassuming. 
Without any advantages of education beyond that of a common school, 
he became a highly useful and intelligent editor, and one whose influ 
ence was extensively felt in this community. His mind was active and 
sprightly. He was frank and pleasant in his manners ; he had a good 
share of wit and humor, and in his younger days, was the life of the 
circle into which he entered. He was one of the last of the old school 
gentlemen among us, and he certainly was a good representative of that 
interesting class. 

" It is hardly necessary to say how well he discharged all the duties 
of private life ; how kind and beneficent he was to the poor, or how dear 
to his friends. Happy in his family circle, he passed those years, which 
are ordinarily years ' of labor and sorrow,' in cheerful gratitude to God, 
and humble hope in Christ, with few of the pains and sorrows of old 
age until, after a sickness of a few days, he fell like a shock of corn 
fully ripe in the hope of a glorious immortality beyond the grave." 

The following lines by Mrs. Sigourney are a worthy and pleasing trib 
ute to this good man's memory : 

OUR OLDEST MAN. 

Meek patriarch of our city! art thou dead? 

The just, the saintly, and the full of days, 
The crown of ripen'd wisdom on thy head, 
The poor man's blessing, and the good man's praise T 



412 I.K'ITKKS 1UOGKAPHICAL, 

It is very seldom that plodding industry rises so high. 
Mr. Hudson was a homespun old respectability, of 
plain, strong sense, sturdy principles, and rather dry, 
harsh manners, having also a limp in the leg. He 
took charge of the financial department of the con 
cern. Mr. Goodwin was a large, hale, comely old 



Would that our sons, who saw thee onward move 
With step so vigorous and serenely sage, 

Of thee might learn to practice, and to love 
The hardy virtues of an earlier age. 

For more than fourscore winters had not chill'd 

The glow of healthful years, on lip, or cheek, 
Nor In thy breast the warm pulsation still'd, 

That moves with upright zeal to act and speak. 
Ne'er from the righteous cause withheld by fear, 

Of honest toil ashamed, nor proud of wealth, 
But train'd in habits simple and sincere, 

From whence republics draw their vital health. 

To every kind affection gently true, 

The husband and the father and the friend, 
Thy children's children still delighted drew 

Around the lionor'd grandsire's chair to bend. 
But now thy mansion hath its master lost, 

Wrapp'd in its pleasant green, with trees o'erspread 
And we, a patriot sire, who knew the cost 

Of blood-bought freedom, in the day of dread. 

We mourn thee, Father 1 On thy staff, no more 

Thy cheerful smile shall greet us, day by day, 
Nor the far memories of thy treasured lore, 

Withhold the joyous listeners from their play. 
Where stood that ancient race we fear to stand, 

In foremost watch on life's beleagner'd wall, 
To bide the battle with a feebler hand. 

Perchance to falter, and perchance to fall. 

O God of Strength ! who takest from our head, 

Oar white-hair'd patriarchs, firm in faith and truth. 
Grant us thy grace, to follow where they led, 

A pure example to observant youth ; 
That though the sea of time should fiercely roll, 

We so its billows and its waves may stem, 
As not to lose the sunshine of the soul, 

Nor our eternal rest in Heaven, with them. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 413 

gentleman, of lively mind and cheerful manners. 
There was always sunshine in his bosom and wit 
upon his lip. He turned his hand to various things, 
though chiefly to the newspaper, which was his pet. 
His heaven was the upper loft in the composition 
room ; setting type had for him the sedative charms 
of knitting-work to a country dame. I have often 
seen him, cheerfully swinging back and forth, as is 
the wont of compositors, and tossing the type merrily 
over his thumb into the stick, as if he were at work 
by the thousand ems, and had a wife and nine small 
children dependent upon his labors ! 

George Sheldon, then, was the favored clerk of this 
ancient and honored firm. He was happily moulded 
by nature, and not unkindly treated by fortune. He 
was short of stature, but of a bearing at once modest 
and manly. His large understanding and vivid im 
agination were duly balanced the first being always 
the master, the latter always the servant. He had 
been well educated in the schools of the city, even 
to the acquisition of the common Latin and Greek 
classics. He had read extensively, for one of his 
age, and with profit. When I met him, he was 
twenty ; I but eighteen. 

It is not easy to conceive of two persons more un 
like than we were at that time. Why we coalesced, 
can only be accounted for from the affinity of oppo 
sition a phenomenon not unknown in the chemistry 
of the mind and the affections. Tall men seek short 



414: LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

wives ; large women favor little husbands. The 
blonde is smitten with black eyes and raven hair ; 
the brunette falls in love with flaxen locks and azure 
looks. All nature's contradictions make all nature's 
peace. And so a friendship, which was only termi 
nated by the grave, grew up between myself a raw 
adventurer from the country and George Sheldon, 
the educated, disciplined, well-balanced graduate of 
the city. 

I must again apologize for, or perhaps rather ex 
plain, the introduction of these commonplace details. 
Were I writing for the popular favor, and sought 
success only through the current taste of the day, I 
should choose for the exercise of my pen a sub 
ject very different from that which gives birth to 
these pages. I know that the public crave high-sea 
soned meats. Eomance must be thrilling ; biogra 
phy startling. History must be garnished with the 
lights and shadows of vivid dramatic representation. 
Who, then, of the great excited public would conde 
scend to these simple memorials of apprentice boys 
in the middle ranks of life ? 

I might indeed cite as example for these passages, 
the autobiography of Franklin the printer, were it not 
that I fear this would be deemed too ambitious, as x if 
I suggested a comparison in respect to the end as 
well as the beginning. Nevertheless, it is Frank 
lin's history, as a boy of the middle class, successfully 
but laboriously working his way upward, that has 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 4:15 

made it at once the most attractive and most useful 
biography of modern times. All over Christendom, 
it has met with the sympathy of the working classes, 
and it has done more than any volume within my 
knowledge, to give courage and heart to the sons of 
labor, as it has shown that the paths of ambition are 
open to them as to others, provided they be followed 
with Franklin's virtues honesty, frugality, perseve 
rance, and patriotism. What a contrast between the 
influence of such a biography as this, and that of 
a man whose life is only remarkable for success in 
bloodshed, or even in the more vulgar paths of vice, 
knavery, or crime ! What a debt of gratitude does 
the world owe to Franklin ! What a weight of con 
demnation should rest upon him who degrades and 
debases those who come within the sphere of his 
influence, by exciting and seductive narratives of the 
little or the great rascals who are sent as scourges 
and warnings to our race ! 

One of the most grateful things in my experiencb 
among the middle classes in England, France, and 
Germany, is, that I have been there recognized as 
the countryman of Franklin, and by virtue of this, 
have been often received as a friend. There is no 
part of Europe that I have visited, where the name 
of Franklin is not known and honored except, per 
haps, in Italy. There the atmosphere is not of a 
nature to permit such a history as his, to shed its 
beneficent light upon the hearts of the people. The 



4: 1 6 LKTTER8 BIOGRAPHICAL, 

mythologies of the Virgin and the saints are deemed 
safer reading safer, because they darken rather than 
enlighten the mind than the history of a Boston 
printer, whose whole life is a lecture in behalf of the 
elevating power of liberty of thought and action. 
With this exception, Franklin's story of his early 
life, his humble apprenticeship, his patient struggles, 
his plodding industry, his rise, step by step, from 
poverty to independence, and all this within the 
possible and probable sphere of common life seems 
actually to have been a gospel of good tidings to the 
European masses of modern times. Let me go on, 
then, my dear C...., countenanced, if not encour 
aged, by this example. Be it well understood, how 
ever, that if you are disheartened at the specimens I 
have furnished, I give you leave to depart, and with 
no offence to me. Good-by, my friend if it must be 
so and peace be with thee ! 



H1STOKICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 417 



LETTER XXVI. 

My Situation under my new Hasten- Discontent Humiliating Discov 
eries Desire to quit Trade and go to College Undertake to Re 
educate myself A Long Struggle Partial Success Infidelity The 
World without a God Existence, Nature, Life, all contradiction*, with 
out Revealed Religion Return after long Wanderings. 

MY DEAR C ****** 

I have received your kind letter, giving your 
adhesion to what I have done, though counseling 
me to be less discursive in my narrative hereafter. 
Taking this in good part, and promising amendment, 
I proceed in my story. 

I was, then, eighteen years of age, installed in a 
dry-goods store at Hartford, under a respectable and 
reasonable master. I had been sufficiently educated 
for my station. My parents had now removed from 
Ridgefield to Berlin, a distance of but eleven miles 
from my present residence, so that I had easy and 
frequent communication with them. My uncle, 
Chauncey Goodrich, then a Senator of the United 
States, lived in an almost contiguous street, and 
while in the city, always treated me with the kind 
ness and consideration which my relation to him nat 
urally dictated. In general, then, my situation was 
eligible enough ; and yet I was unhappy. 

The truih is, I had now been able to sit in judg 
ment upon myself to review my acquirements, to 
18* 



418 LKTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

analyze my capacities, to estimate my character to 
compare myself with others, and see a little into 
the future. The decision was painful to the ambi 
tion which lurked within me. I had all along, un 
consciously, cherished a vague idea of some sort of 
eminence, and this unhappily had nothing to do with 
selling goods or making money. I had lived in 
the midst of relations, friends, and alliances, all of 
which had cultivated in me trains of thought alien to 
my present employment. My connections were re 
spectable : some of them eminent, but none of them 
rich ; all had acquired their positions without wealth, 
and I think it was rather their habit to speak of it 
as a very secondary affair. Brought up under such 
influences, how could I give my heart to trade? It 
was clear, indeed, that I had missed my vocation. 

Full of this conviction, I besought my parents to 
allow me to quit the store, and attempt to make my 
way through college.* Whether for good or ill, ! 

* When I wrote this letter, I was living at Conrbevoie, near Paris. 
About that time, a gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Gilmau), whom I 
lin J accidentally met in Paris, and of whom I had made some inquiries re 
specting certain eminent men of that State, came to visit me, and brought 
me several pamphlets, -and among them a catalogue of Yale College, inti- 
ninting that he supposed I mast take an interest in the latter, as I was 
one of its graduates. I told him this must be a mistake, but he took 
tin-, book and showed me that I was made an honorary A. M. by that 
institution in 1848 ! This, however, was the first time I ever heard of 
it. Thus, after all, though I never went to college, I got into the cata- 
l.ijrue, but nearly forty years after these my youthful aspirations. [ 
was a long time in passing my examination, and getting my degree ; 
itii'l if the learned gentlemen, who bestowed upon me this act of grace, 
luul known how little of their sort of learning! really possessed, I doubt 
if t!;ey h:id evergrantedto me so high a rank. Several years before, some- 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTICAI., KTC. 4:11) 

know not, but they decided against the change, and 
certainly on substantial grounds. Their circum 
stances did not permit them to offer me any consid 
erable aid, and without it they feared that I should 
meet with insuperable difficulties. I returned to the 
store, disheartened at first, but after a time my cour 
age revived, and I resolved to re-educate myself. I 
borrowed some Latin books, and with the aid of 
George Sheldon, I passed through the Latin Gram 
mar, and penetrated a little way into Virgil. This 
was done at night, for during the day I was fully o-i- 
cupied. 

At the same time, I began with such light and 
strength as I possessed to train my mind to disci 
pline my thoughts, then as untamed as the birds of 
the wilderness. I sought to think to think steadily, 
to acquire the power of forcing my understanding up 
to a point, and make it stand there and do its work. 
I attempted to gain the habit of speaking methodi 
cally, logically, and with accumulating power, direct 
ed to a particular object. I did all this as well by study 
as practice. I read Locke on the Understanding and 
Watts on the Mind. I attempted composition, and 
aided myself by Blair's Rhetoric. 

This was a task, for not only was my time chiefly 
occupied by my daily duties, but it was a contest 

body addressed me an official letter, informing me that a similar honor 
had been bestowed upon me by the college at Williamstown, but I never 
liked to inquire about it, for fear it should turn out to be a joke. 
What, indeed, have my attainments to do with college honors I 



i20 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

against habit it was myself against myself and in 
this I was almost unaided and alone. I believe few 
have this experience, for most persons have progress 
ive, methodical education. Their advance up the 
steep ascent of knowledge is gradual, measured step 
by step ; and this process is performed in youth, and 
with the assistance of instructors, and all so gently, 
as to pass by without the consciousness of any great 
or painful effort, even by the subject of it. A person 
who has acquired an education in the usual way 
under the steady training of teachers, from childhood 
to the period of graduation does not appreciate in 
his feelings the amount of labor heaped rfp in this 
protracted struggle. If we consider, however, the 
momentum at last accumulated in the simple act of 
reading, for instance the eye with electric celerity 
compassing every letter in a line, and the mind as 
quickly seizing upon every thought, mastering it, 
and passing on, the soul meanwhile giving to each 
conception its due feeling and emotion we shall 
have a measure by which we may form some esti 
mate of the magnitude of that structure in the 
mind, called education. It was a work of this sort, 
with the habits acquired in its formation, that I was 
to undo and do over again. It was my fortune to 
find that I had gone wrong, and must retrace my 
steps. I was to tear to pieces the labor, the practices, 
the associations of years, and at the same time I was 
to reconstruct the broken and shattered fragments 



HISTOKICAL, ANEODOTICAL, ETC. 4li I 

into a new and symmetrical edifice. I was to lay 
aside the slip-shod practice of satisfying myself with 
impressions, feelings, guesses ; in short, of dodging 
mental labor by jumping at conclusions. I was 
to teach myself the art, and to train myself to the 
habit, of accumulating materials ; of assorting them 
according to their several kinds ; of weighing them 
in a just and scrutinizing balance ; of rearranging 
them on principles of logic, and finally, of deducing 
from them a safe and reliable judgment. I was, in 
deed, to learn the greatest of all arts, that of reason-' 
ing, of discovering the truth, and I was to do this 
alone, and in the face of difficulties, partly founded 
in my mental constitution, and partly also in my 
training. 

I did not at first comprehend the extent of my un 
dertaking. By degrees I began to appreciate it : I 
saw and felt, at last, that it was an enormous tasK, 
and even after I had resolved upon it, again and 
again, my courage gave out, and I ceased my ef 
forts in despair. Still, I returned to the work by 
spasms. I found, for instance, that my geography 
was all wrong : Asia stood up edgewise, in my 
imagination, just as I had seen it on an old smoky 
map in Lieutenant Smith's study : Africa was in 
the southeast corner of creation, and Europe was 
somewhere in the northeast. In fact, my map of 
the world was very Chinese in its projection. I 
knew better, but still I had thus conceived it. and 



422 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

the obstinate bump of locality insisted upon pre 
senting its outlines to my mind, according to this ar 
rangement. I bad similar jumbles of conception and 
habit, as to other things. This would not do : so I 
relearned the elements of geography ; I revised my 
history, my chronology, my natural history in all 
of which I had caught casual glimpses of knowledge. 
Finding my memory bad for dates, I made a list of 
chronological eras, from the Creation down, and riv 
eted them by repetition, in my memory. What I 
read, I read .earnestly. I determined to pass no word 
without ascertaining its meaning, and I persevered ill 
this, doggedly, for five and twenty years. 

Now, after all these my efforts, I only skimmed the 
surface of knowledge : I did not even reach the depths 
of a thorough college education. In some degree, I 
cleared up the wilderness of my mind ; in some de 
gree methodized my habits of thought ; in some de 
gree made myself the master of my faculties and my 
knowledge. I learned to think more clearly, to speak 
more logically, and to write more methodically 
within the range of my acquisitions. Still, I only 
reached the precincts of what may be called educa 
tion, in a just sense of the term. In after years, 
when I have been called upon to write upon a partic 
ular subject, I have generally been first obliged to sit 
down and study it, or at least to refresh my mind by 
reviewing it. 

With this inadequate preparation, however, I rash- 



HISTORICAL, ANEODOTICAL, ETC. 423 

ly began to form my own opinions the most daring 
action of the mind. I ventured to question dogmas 
moral, political, and religious. I passed through 
the several stages of curiosity, doubt, infidelity, as 
many others have done before rne. I resolved to take 
nothing upon trust ; I must examine and decide for 
myself. Beginning with things familiar and secular, 
I came at last to things remote, doctrinal, theological. 
I approached the sacred edifice of religion, and in a 
moment of presumption, tumbled it into a heap of 
ruins ! And then ? Ah, how impossible to paint the 
dark, drear horizon of the mind when it has put out 
the light of faith : extinguished even the star of hope ! 
The world from that moment became to me a fearful 
enigma : all its harmony was gone : existence was a 
nightmare, heaven a fathomless abyss, earth an incom 
prehensible mystery. And Man, of all the creatures 
upon earth, was the most mysterious above all things, 
and yet below all things. The bird had organs adapted 
to its wants feet for the land and wings for the air. 
The fishes had fins suited to their element ; the quad 
rupeds were all provided with the means of securing 
happiness according to their several tastes and facul 
ties. Wherever there was a want, the means of sat 
isfying it were bestowed. Every thing was con 
sistent with itself. Nothing was made in vain : in 
the whole range of nature, there was no absurdity, 
no contradiction, no mistake. Every thing attained 
its end, everv thing fulfilled its design savo M;m 



424 LKTTKKS IUOGKAPHICAL, 

alone ! He had wants for which there was no pro 
vision : he had hunger and thirst of the soul, yet 
there was nothing to feed the one, or quench the other! 
He had the gift of hope, but was hopeless ; the fac 
ulty of faith, with nothing on which faith could set 
its foot. He had anticipation a looking forward into 
the future wafting him thither like a trade-wind, and 
breathing of the tropic air of immortality. He yearn 
ed for something higher than earth, but was without 
wings to fly, or an object amid the prevailing waters 
the universal deluge of doubt upon which he could 
find repose ! The dove of hope was sent forth, but 
came back with no olive-branch of peace, no promise 
of a shore to this bleak sea of nothingness! The 
veriest insect, the worm, the reptile, each and all, 
had every thing needful to perfect its being. Man 
alone seemed created to live in doubt, and to perish 
in disappointment. The inferior things of earth were 
perfect ; the conscious lord of creation was a stu 
pendous blunder ! Thus seemed the universe ; thus 
seemed man, without God without religion. 

" I had a dream, which was not all a dream 
The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars 
Did wander darkling in the eternal space, 
Rayless and pathless, and the icy earth 
Swung, blind and black'ning, in the moonless air. 
* * * * * 

The crowd was famish'd by degrees ; but two 

Of an enormous city did survive, 

And they were enemies : they met beside 



HISTORICAL, ANEODOTICAL, KTC. 425 

The (lying embers of an altar-place, 

"Where had been heap'd a mass of holy things, 

For an unholy usage : they raked up, 

And shivering, scraped with their cold, skeleton hands, 

The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath 

Blew for a little life, and made a flame, 

Which was a mockery : then they lifted up 

Their eyes, as it grew brighter, and beheld 

Each other's aspects saw and shriek'd and died 

E'en of their mutual hideousness, they died!" 

Such is the fearful, overwhelming picture of the 
Earth, if you pluck the sun from the heavens : bring 
back that glorious orb, and all its light and harmony 
and beauty are restored. In this, the Natural World 
is but an image of the Moral World. 

This Earth without a Sun to give it light, 

Would roll a wintry planet robed in night. 

All that we see of beauty trees and flowers 

All that we hear of music in their bowers, 

Live on the bounty of that Orb above 

Nature's exhaustless source of life and love. 

And Man, if not illumed of Heaven's light, 

Renew'd each morn and stealing through the night, 

Dark as a planet exiled from the sun, 

His savage course of crime and shame would run. 

As blushing flowers with spreading odors rise 

As balmy zephyrs steal from southern skies 

As rills unchain'd with gladdening murmurs play 

As birds return and pour the rapturous lay 

As nature rises from its wintry night 

All at the bidding of the Source of Light 

So every virtue blooming in the soul, 

Is warm'd to life by Heaven's kind control ! 



4:26 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

Indeed, take religion from man, and you dethrone 
God from the sky : you banish the light from the 
soul, you convert its highest faculties into elements 
of fear, terror, and despair. Love, that seems to 
breathe of heaven, to lift us on its wing toward a 
better and happier and holier clime, sinks into lust : 
affection into selfishness ; friendship into an illusive 
dream. In this view, man is only a superior sort 
of beast, to live, despair, and perish. Bring back 
religion, and the light returns to the mind : under 
its influences, the warm pulses of affection and friend- 
snip and piety and poetry once more beat in the 
bosom : the winter of desolation gives way to the 
spring-tide of hope. Man is no longer a beast, ex 
istence no longer a riddle, creation no more a contra 
diction. Nature, before a stupendous lie, is now a 
glorious truth ! 

To this conclusion I came at last, though after a 
long and painful struggle. God was as much reveal 
ed to man as the earth, the sky, the sun : that was 
now settled in my mind, but it was not enough. 
What was our relation to Him ? What was human 
destiny ? What meant this inward faith that makes 
of the Creator an object of worship, of love, of hope, 
of confidence ? What means the heart of prayer in 
every human breast? Is it only an instinct, telling 
us to pray, and then leaving us to perish ? Is that 
the way of God ? Does He tell us to hope, that He 
may cheat us of his promises ? Has God made man 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 427 

to bear through life the burden of doubt, and to carry- 
it with him to the grave ? Is there, in short, no rev 
elation for man beyond the simple fact that there is 
a God told us by our common sense, by our in 
stinct, by the voice of nature and of creation ? In 
these things His woric is complete ; in that it is evi 
dently imperfect. Man has in him desires, wants, 
anticipations, exigencies, which are not satisfied by 
this mere light of nature. Without a further revela 
tion, he is like the bird, made to fly, yet without 
wings ; like the fish, formed to swim, yet without fins. 
He is an anomaly in the universe : the only thing 
that walks erect in God's image, is the only thing 
that God has made in vain, and worse than in vain ! 
There is, then, another revelation, for we must not 
charge the Omnipotent with incompetence, the Omni 
scient with ignorance, the Omnipresent with forget 
ful ness. We must not, in his greatest work, discover 
a negation of all his perfections, conspicuous in all 
other things. What, then, is this revelation ? It was 
given to Adam face to face, by the Almighty ; it has 
since descended in various ways, and at different eras, 
upon mankind ; it has existed, and still exists, in all 
nations, though it may be seen by many races as 
through a glass darkly. But the whole force of God's 
highest revelations to man, is accumulated in the 
Bible, and especially in the Gospel the life, char 
acter, and redemption of Christ. The unenlightened 
may be led by duller light : this is adapted to civil- 



4:28 LETTERS BIOGKAPIflOAL, 

ized nations. Those may find their hunger and thirst 
of soul appeased by what nature yields ; but the in 
structed man needs the full effulgence of such a reve 
lation as this. 

And thus, after many wanderings, like one long 
lest in the wilderness like one wearied and worn 
with struggling in a marsh, I came back to the con 
viction of my fathers that the Bible is the revealed 
will of God; as much adapted to us, as necessary 
for us, as the light to the eye, the air to the lungs ; 
as indispensable to the life of the soul, as food and 
drink to the body, in which the soul is enshrined. 

This work was not performed at once, or by one 
continuous effort ; it was a long internal struggle, 
coming upon me in spasms sometimes by day and 
sometimes by night. Often it subsided into settled 
doubt or desponding apathy ; often it returned like 
a tempest to agitate and overwhelm me. It was, in 
deed, prolonged through several years, and even after 
I had seemed to come to the dry land, like the ark 
amid the subsiding deluge, difficulties and doubts 
sometimes haunted me. I was, in fact, not yet a be 
liever. Infidelity is a long, dark voyage, and offers 
no secure haven of rest or repose. I have been ac 
quainted with several professed deists and atheists 
some of the very first order of mind yet I have never 
found one who was not, in fact, afloat on a sea of un 
certainty, tossed with doubt and racked with anxiety. 

My stumbling-blocks, at this period, were chiefly 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOT1CAL, ETC. 

of that class called metaphysical, yet they were to 
me real, earnest, operative. The existence of evil in 
a world made and governed by God ; the free agency 
of man, deriving from the Almighty his being and 
his breath ; the moral responsibility of creatures, de 
pendent for all things upon the Creator ; the seeming 
predestination flowing from Omnipotence, with the 
consciousness of liberty of thought and action plant 
ed in every bosom : these and other rocks in this 
voyage of the immortal mind strewn with the 
wrecks of millions were still anxious mysteries to 
me. And then, that dreadful incompatibility upon 
which audacious human reason drives us that every 
thing must have a beginning, and yet just as cer 
tainly, that all things spring from the Eternal ! What 
a stunning blow, leveled at the pride of logic, is this ? 
How is the mind humbled, admitting as it must, that 
all we see and know of time and eternity, is but the 
vibration of a pendulum, whose spring is hidden from 
our sight ! Long, often and anxiously, did I return 
to these questions, thundering sometimes almost in 
frenzy at the sullen, silent, impenetrable door, which 
holds their solution from the view. I learned at last 
that I was only doing what had been done by thou 
sands before that I was attempting what the wisest 
and strongest had given up in despair. I saw that 
the mind was bounded in its powers as well as the 
body ; that as the latter could not defy the laws of 
gravitation, so the former could not rend the curtain 



430 LKTTEKS BIOGKAPillCAL, 

that God had hung between the creature and the 
Creator. I bowed at last ; I ceased to agonize upon 
things beyond my reach. I turned to my actual du 
ties ; I cultivated the gifts of nature and Providence 
vouchsafed to me ; I cherished the lights and not the 
shadows of existence. And once more I was upon the 
land ! I was again at home ; I had indeed wandered, 
yet not perhaps unprofitably, for I had learned to 
find peace and contentment in what God had be 
stowed upon me, without seeking that forbidden fruit 
of knowledge, of which He has said, " In the day 
thou eatest thereof thou shalt die." 

During the dark and cloudy period which I have 
just sketched, George Sheldon was my constant com 
panion. I had made other acquaintances, and had 
other friends, but he was first, if not in my affections, 
at least in my confidence. He had a far more com 
manding intellect, more knowledge, more depth of 
reflection, more range of thought and experience, than 
myself. I consulted him in my studies ; I submitted 
my progress to his examination ; I showed him my 
compositions, and invited his criticisms. 

Some persons seem to write with a certain matu 
rity of thought and expression, almost upon their first 
attempts ; others only attain the art of composition 
by long and patient labor. As for myself, I came to 
what I possess by reiterated trials. I do not know 
of a decent thing not even a letter that I wrote 
before I was twenty. How my monitorial guide did 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIGAL, ETC. 4:31 

laugh at some of my first attempts at composition, 
and especially at my tilts and tournaments upon Par 
nassus ! 

As I have said, we were unlike, and in nothing so 
much as in our mental constitution. His taste was 
mature, mine crude and fantastic; his mind was lo 
gical, mine irregular and discursive ; his was circum 
spect, modest, prudent mine daring, rash, audacious. 
In our discussions, he constantly said to me, " Stick 
to the point !" In regard to my writings, he often 
remarked, " You have more illustrations than ideas." 
In an argument, he would observe, " Stop a moment: 
do you know what we are talking about ?" When 
we approached some metaphysical gulf, he would say, 
" Come, come, I have looked over there, and I can 
assure you there is nothing to be gained by it." 

Above and beyond all this, my friend aided me in 
the more serious business of settling my religious 
opinions. He had thought long and profoundly upon 
the agitating questions which I have mentioned, and 
in considering them I had the benefit of his clear in 
telligence and just judgment. That I escaped ship 
wreck, was doubtless owing in some degree to him : 
I certainly reached the shore sooner than I could have 
done alone. 

The importance of such counsel, at this period, can 
not be estimated without considering that I had been 
brought up under the impression that an infidel 
nay, a doubter, a questioner, even was a monster, 



432 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

who challenged riot only the reprobation of man, but 
the instant wrath of God. The preaching I heard, 
the tone of society around me, confirmed this feeling. 
I dared not ask advice, especially of the devout, for 
I dreaded to confess myself that fearful thing an 
unbeliever ! At that time I slept in an upper room of 
a large block of brick buildings, without another hu 
man being in them, and never have I known the 
nights so black, so long, so dismal, as during the pe 
riods when I awoke from sleep, and in the solitude of 
my chamber, wrestled with the tormenting questions 
already alluded to, which came like Inquisitors, to 
put me upon the rack of anxiety and doubt. The 
friendly sympathy and judicious guidance of my 
sturdy and steadfast friend, saved me, perhaps, from 
despair. 

I have since this period often thought, with a feel 
ing of self-reproach, of the moral and mental obli 
quity involved in infidelity, especially on the part of 
one brought up as I had been. What is infidelity 
here in a Christian land ? An assumption that God 
has left to the world no authenticated testimony of 
his Will. Revelation is a fable : religion a bugbear. 
What, then, is the condition of man ? History 
recent, reliable, unmistakable has given the answer. 
He who runs may and must read. During the first 
French Revolution, the government abolished reli 
gion, and the people sanctioned the decree. Let 
us draw nigh and contemplate the spectacle of a 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 433 

nation without a God, without a faith without hope, 
and without fear. Look at Paris, at that period the 
world's metropolis of art, taste, fashion, and refine 
ment, rejoicing in its deliverance from the nightmare 
of religion ! Look, and you will see that marriage was 
a farce, and that truth had sunk into contempt. The 
streets were filled with indecency, and the saloons were 
no better than garnished brothels. Death was divested 
of its solemnity, and the grave of its sanctity. Even 
kindred could not spare time from their levities and 
debaucheries to bury their deceased relatives. And 
why should they ? They had gone to their eternal 
sleep, and it was illogical to care for the manes of 
those who had ceased to be. Nothingness annihi 
lation of the soul left no sympathy for its worn- 
out and cast-off vestment, the body. There was no 
hereafter, no heaven, no elevating hope, no salutary 
fear. There was no reality but the present. No 
hymn of praise, no prayer, no rising incense, lifted 
the soul above this dreadful revelry. Man was left 
to cherish his baser propensities, without a wish or 
a thought, which could drag him out of the miry clay 
and the horrible pit ! 

This spectacle is as revolting to the moral taste of 
man, as is a mass of filth reeking with corruption 
to his senses. And yet this is the condition to which 
infidelity inevitably tends. It is religion alone 
revealed religion which saves the world from this 
state of degradation. Paris has written that fact in 

VOL. I. iy 



434 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

fire and in blood. Is this religion, then, a lie ? Is rev 
elation, which thus works man's redemption here on 
earth to say nothing of the future a fraud ? What 
then is God the infidel's God ? A being who made 
man to live and die and perish, only as an ingenious 
and gifted brute ! He is not the author of that reli 
gion which ennobles man, exalts his faculties, his 
tastes, his aspirations, and constantly seeks to make 
him but little lower than the angels. He is not the 
God of good, but of Evil not the Author of Light, 
but of Darkness not the King of Heaven, but ol 
Hell. This is the infidel's God. 

Where, in Nature, is this fearful thing written ? 
Not in the sun or the sky or the seasons, for these 
tell us that God is good. Not in the human heart, 
for this feels that God is true. Not in .the eye that 
loves beauty, nor the ear that loves music. Every 
sense whispers that God is Love. It is indeed a 
dreadful obliquity, which leads the mind to refuse to 
see God in the Bible Revelation, and to refuse to ac 
cept Christianity as his gospel of good and glorious 
tidings to man. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 435 



LETTER XXVII. 

Hartford forty years ago The Hartford Wits Hartford at the present 
time The Declaration of War in 1812 Baltimore Riots Feeling in 
New England Embargo Non-intercourse, &c. Democratic Doctrine 
that Opposition is Treason. 

MY DEAR C ****** 

The city of Hartford, ever noted for its fine sit 
uation, in one of the fertile and beautiful vales of the 
Connecticut, is now distinguished for its wealth the 
fruit of extraordinary sagacity and enterprise on the 
part of its inhabitants as well as for its interesting 
institutions literary, charitable, and philanthropic. 
It presented, however, a different aspect at the time 
of which I am speaking. It had, indeed, formerly 
enjoyed some reputation as a sort of literary focus 
it being the residence of Trumbull, the author of 
McFingal, of Hopkins, the bludgeon satirist, author 
of the " Hypocrite's Hope," of Theodore Dwight, and 
some others, known in their day as the " Hartford 
Wits." This distinction was well deserved, for it ia 
rare indeed that three satirical poets, of so much vig 
or, are found working together. It is especially rare 
to find them, as in this instance, united in an amica 
ble as well as a literary brotherhood. 

In my time Hopkins was dead ; Trumbull had left 
off poetry for a seat on the bench of the Supreme 
Court, and Dwight was devoted to the Connecticut 



LKTTKKS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

Mirror a newspaper distinguished all over the coun 
try for its vigilant and spicy vindication of federal 
ism. His New- Year's verses were always looked for 
with eagerness, for they usually contained a review of 
events, with dashes at the times, in which the doings 
of democracy were painted in the unsparing colors 
of Hudibrastic ridicule. Many passages of these are 
now worthy of being read, as well on account of their 
illustration of the spirit of the time, as their keen 
and cutting satire. 

On the whole, however, Hartford was then a small 
commercial town, of four thousand inhabitants, deal 
ing in lumber, and smelling of molasses and Old Ja 
maica for it had still some trade with the West In 
dies. Though the semi-capital of the State the yearly 
sessions of the legislature being held there and at New 
Haven, alternately it was strongly impressed with 
a plodding, mercantile, and mechanical character. 
There was a high tone of general intelligence and so 
cial respectability about the place, but it had not a 
single institution, a single monument, that marked it 
as even a provincial metropolis of taste, in literature, 
art, or refinement. The leading men were thrifty 
mechanics, with a few merchants, and many shop 
keepers, society of course taking its hue from these 
dominant classes. There were lawyers, judges, and 
public functionaries men of mark but their spirit 
lot govern the town. There were a few dain- 
itricians, who held themselves aloof, secure of 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 437 

that amiable worship which in all ages is rendered 
to rank. But where are they now? The answer 
would be a lesson and a warning to those who build 
their claims to homage on pretense. Such was the 
state of things, at the time I arrived in this city. 

Some time after, a new era began to dawn, the light 
of which is still visible in the very air and aspect of 
the place. Let me give you a few measures of this 
striking progress. In 1810, the population of Hart 
ford was three thousand nine hundred and fifty-five : 
in 1856, it is about twenty -five thousand. The 
American i Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb, Trinity 
College, the Ketreat for the Insane, the Wadsworth 
Atheneurn all excellent institutions have been 
founded since my arrival in the town. The churches 
then four in number have increased to twenty- 
five, and by their towering and tasteful spires, give 
the place, as you approach it, the aspect of a Holy 
City. Every creed and shade of creed is represented, 
from Puritan orthodoxy up and down, to Roman 
Catholic, Second Advent, and Synagogue worshipers. 
There were three weekly journals, five and forty years 
ago ; now there are two dailies, eight weeklies, and 
two monthlies. The manufacture of books, machines, 
carpets, pianos, hardware, hats, rifles, pistols all es 
tablished within forty years now employ a capital of 
five millions of dollars. Colt's pistol-factory, with its 
accessories, is a marvelous example of ingenious art 
and liberal enterprise. The aggregate Bank Capital 



438 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

is about six millions. The various Insurance Compa 
nies spread their protection against fire, far and wide 
reaching into almost every State in the Union. Is 
not this progress ? 

I could find gratifying themes in pursuing this 
general train of events, especially as the prosperity 
of Hartford marks the general progress of society in 
Connecticut. But chronological propriety impels me, 
for the present, in a different direction. Leaving the 
humble path of autobiographical gossip, I must now, 
hackneyed as the subject may seem, take you within 
the wide and sweeping vortex of national history. 
Here, indeed, my own story leads, and here you are 
bound to follow. I must tell you of the war of 1812, 
for in this I was a soldier, and took my turn in the 
tented field ! And besides though we have plenty 
of histories on the subject, we have, so far as I know, 
very few pictures of the living and moving panorama 
of town and village life, during those three years of 
national anxiety and humiliation. 

About midsummer in the year 1812, the news 
came that Congress, with the sanction of the Pres 
ident, had declared war* against Great Britain. 



* The Declaration of War was ratified by the President on the 18th 
of June, and the proclamation was issued the next day. The prin 
cipal grounds, assigned by the President for this act, were the impress 
ment of seamen by Great Britain, her paper blockades, unsupported 
by an adequate force, and various Orders in Council. Let it be remem- 
ber-ed that peace was made by our government in 1814, without saying a 
word about impressment the main ground of the war and that the Or 
ders in Council were repealed within four days after our declaration oj 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 439 

Sagacious men, no doubt, had foreseen this, but it 
came upon the mass of the people here, at the North, 
like a thunderbolt. I remember perfectly well the 
dark and boding cloud that gathered over the public 
mind upon the reception of the news, and this was 
deepened into anxiety and alarm by the tragic story 
of the Baltimore riot, which speedily followed. The 
doctrine had been announced, as well in Congress as 
elsewhere, by the democratic leaders, that when war 
was declared, opposition must cease a doctrine 
which is more fit for the liveried slaves of despotism 
than a free people but which democracy has since 
maintained to the bitter end. I invite your particu 
lar attention to this historical fact, for here is the key 
not only to the slanders heaped up against New Eng 
land at the time, for her opposition to the war, but 
to the pertinacity with which they have since been 
urged. Even to this day, the "Hartford Conven 
tion," " Connecticut Blue Lights," &c., are the grizzly 
monsters with which the nursing fathers and moth 
ers of democracy frighten their children into obe 
dience just before the elections! 

It is well to remember another fact as explaining 
not only events which followed the declaration of 
war, but some others in our history. Jefferson de 
mocracy, from the beginning, made hatred of Eng 
land its chief stock in .trade. This feeling, from a 



tear, and be/ore a gun had been fired in the conflict ! For what, then 
did we spend ouj hundred millions of dollars and thirty thousand lives ? 



440 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

variety of causes, is indigenous to the masses of 
our people. It is greatly increased, as well in amount . 
us in vehemence, by the large foreign element in our 
population, it being a curious fact that emigrants and 
refugees of all nations, come hither with an active 
dislike of England. Democracy at the beginning, 
and democracy still, avails itself of this sentiment 
native as well as foreign. The main cause of the 
overthrow of the federalists, was, that they had to 
bear the burden of alleged friendship to England. 

The war party perfectly well understood, and of 
course used, this hostility to England ; and the British 
government, as if to make the conflict inevitable, 
added to the inherent fuel of popular prejudice, the 
flame of indignation arising from repeated insult and 
injury. In this state of things, the foreign popula 
tion, already very numerous, exercised a powerful 
influence, not only in bringing on and sustaining 
the war, but in imparting something of their own 
violence to the discussions of the time. It is no 
torious that at this period, a large number of for 
eigners, with feelings lacerated by exile, and all 
turned into channels of hostility to Great Britain,* 
held influential positions, either as members of Con- 

* John Randolph complained that almost every leading press in favo' 
of the war, was conducted by men who had but recently escaped from 
the tyranny or the justice of the British government. He gave as in 
stances the Aurora and the Democratic Press, of Philadelphia, one edit 
ed by Duane and the other by Binns ; the Whig at Baltimore, edited by 
Baptiste Irving ; and the Intelligencer at Washington, by Gales. Fos 
ter, the British Minister at Washington when the war was declared. 



HISTORICAL, ANRCDOTICAL, KTC. 441 

gress or editors of papers, and these co-operating 
with the democrats infused into the war partisan 
ship, a spirit of intolerance and rancor, perhaps with 
out example in our history. It was not surprising, 
therefore, that riot and bloodshed should come at the 
beginning, or that inveterate prejudice should be per 
petuated to the end. 

In the city of Baltimore there was a paper called 
the Federal Republican, edited by a highly respect 
able and talented young gentleman, named Alexan 
der Hanson. In announcing the declaration of war, 
this journal also announced, in terms moderate but 
firm, a determination to continue to speak with the 
same freedom as before. This was heresy, which 
democratic papacy deemed worthy of fire and fagot. 
The decree had gone forth that independence was 
conspiracy, and opposition was treason. The mob 
at Baltimore, largely composed of foreigners, in the 
spirit of their leaders, deemed the conduct of the 
editor of the Republican worthy of instant punish 
ment. Two days after his offense that is, on the 
evening of the 22d of June an infuriated rabble, 
headed by a French apothecary, proceeded to his 
printing-office, demolished the building, and laid the 

stated soon after in the British House of Commons, that, among: the mem 
bers of Congress who voted for the war, there were no less than sis late 
members of the Society of United Irishmen ! Randolph, in allusion to 
the spirit of menace and intolerance which was manifested in Congress 
by the war party, sarcastically suggested, more than once, that he felt 
himself in danger of being tarred and feathered, for expressing his hon 
est convictions. Sec IL'illrtlk'x Ifittiiry. second series, vol. iii. 317. 



443 i. K-iTEks moo KAPHICAL, 

whole establishment in ruins. Hanson, fortunately, 
was in the country, and his partner, though pursued, 
and hunted from house to house, finally escaped. 
The magistrates offered no opposition, and the mob, 
thus encouraged by tolerance and success, proceeded 
to wreak their patriotic vengeance in various direc 
tions, and upon a variety of objects. A suggestive 
specimen of their fury was manifested in burning 
down the house of a free negro, who had spoken in 
friendly terms of the British nation ! 

The Federal Republican was temporarily re-estab 
lished at Georgetown, in the District of Columbia : 
after a time, however, it was removed to Baltimore, 
Hanson and his friends deeming it their duty to vin 
dicate the independence of the press, thus violently 
assailed. They expected a struggle, and prepared 
for it. They applied to the authorities for protec 
tion, but the mayor refused to interfere, and left 
town, doubtless for the purpose of permitting the mob 
to have its way. As evening approached, they gath 
ered around the printing-office, and began the attack. 
Hanson was attended by Gen. Henry Lee and Gen. 
Lingan, both revolutionary officers, and some twenty 
other friends. These received the attack, the doors 
and windows being first strongly barricaded. Noth 
ing, however, could resist the assailants : they burst 
in, and were fired upon by the defenders, one man 
being killed, and several wounded. The authorities 
now interfered, and upon an express stipulation of 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC AL, ETC. 443 

protection, Hanson and his party surrendered arid 
were conducted to prison. On their way, they were 
crowded upon, insulted, and threatened by the rab 
ble. The promise of the authorities was not kept : 
the prison was left unguarded, the licensed mob broke 
in. In the confusion which followed, six or seven of 
the prisoners escaped : two were saved by the human 
ity and presence of mind of a prisoner confined for 
crime, and who diverted the pursuit by some ingenious 
fiction. The fate of the rest was horrible indeed. They 
were thrown down the steps of the jail, where they lay 
in a bleeding and mangled heap for three hours, being 
tortured by kicks, penknives stuck into their flesh, 
and hot candle-grease dropped into their eyes. This 
revelry was embellished with cries of " Jefferson ! 
Jefferson !" " Madison ! Madison !" and other demo 
cratic watchwords. 

General Lingan expired amid these tortures ; Gen 
eral Lee survived, but was made a cripple for life. 
Hanson was sent out of the city, concealed in a hay 
cart. One poor fellow was tarred and feathered, and 
carted through the city ; when he fell back as if dead, 
the feathers were set on fire to revive him. Having 
committed various other similar outrages, the mob at 
last ceased its labors. The city authorities examined 
the case, and laid the blame at the door of the con 
tumacious editor, while a Baltimore jury, without 
hesitation, acquitted the rioters ! 

The leaders of the war party, as well in their pa- 



444 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

pers as in their speech, took the side of the rioters, 
and put the responsibility upon their victims. The 
example thus set and thus countenanced, was fol 
lowed in various places, and especially at Norfolk 
and Buffalo. A spirit of menace spread over the 
whole country, and even at Hartford there was a fer 
ment among the advocates of the war, which threat 
ened to break out into open violence, against those 
who dared to condemn it. This rose to such a point 
that the authorities deemed it necessary to exercise 
vigilance and be prepared to meet any such contin 
gency. 

Such was the first chapter in the war of 1812 ; and 
it is, I repeat, important to be remembered, for it ex 
hibits at once the principle and the practice of the 
dominant party in relation to that contest. It as 
sumed then, as I have already stated, and it has ever 
maintained since, that opposition was treason. On 
this principle it is that democracy and its disciples 
have since written the history of New England at 
this period, and upon this have consigned her to un 
mitigated reproach. But partisan history is not a 
final judgment: truth and justice survive, and al 
ready this high court of appeal is, if I mistake not, 
rendering a very different verdict. 

If thus the first news of the coming conflict caused 
a general gloom in the public mind at the North, reflec 
tion only served to deepen it. The remembrances of 
the war of the Revolution had not wholly passed away. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL. ETC. 445 

Connecticut had especially suffered by the inroads of 
the enemy : her towns and villages New Haven, Dan- 
bury, Nor-walk, Fairfield, New London, and others 
having experienced all the horrors of massacre, con 
flagration, and violence. It was natural that an event 
which suggested a renewal of the conflict, and with 
the same proud and powerful enemy, should have 
struck deep into the hearts of the people. And be 
sides, two-thirds of the inhabitants throughout New 
England, were politically opposed to the Administra 
tion which now conducted the affairs of the country, 
and this opposition was rendered intense by a convic 
tion that, for a considerable period, the course of the 
government had been ruinous, if not hostile, to the 
interests of this section of the country. They were 
still federalists, and of the Washington type. They 
were for the good old way in politics, religion, and 
morals. They had, as I have before stated, a special 
dread of democracy, which had originated with Jef 
ferson, and which catching something of the spirit 
of the French Revolution, and being violently prop 
agated in the United States by foreigners, drunk 
with the fanaticism of that day was deemed by the 
sober people of the North as tainted with infidelity 
and licentiousness, threatening alike to the peace of 
society and the stability of our institutions. 

This party, thus formed, had triumphed in the 
country at large, and now for twelve years had acl- 
ministered the government. During that period, a 



446 LKTTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

series of acts the Embargo, Non-importation,* &c. 
had been adopted, which seemed like blows aimed at 
New England, where the interests of the people were 
specially involved in commerce. In every point of 
view, these were deemed as having proved disastrous : 
not a single national object, professed to be aimed at, 

* The series of acts here alluded to, and called the "Restrictive 
Measures,' 1 '' originated in the various decrees of France and England, 
then engaged in deadly hostilities with each other. These decrees con 
sisted of the British Orders in Council, 16th May, 1806, declaring the 
ports and rivers of France, from Brest to the Elbe, in a state of block 
ade, and condemning to seizure and confiscation such vessels as viola 
ted this decree. 

November 21, following, Bonaparte issued his famous Berlin Decree, 
declaring the British Islands in a state of blockade. 

January 6, 1807, the British government retaliated, prohibiting the 
entire Coasting trade with France. November 11, following, came the 
British Orders in Council, prohibiting all neutral nations from trading 
With France or her allies, except upon the payment of tribute. 

December 17, Bonaparte retaliated by his Milan Decree, confiscating 
every vessel found in any of his ports which had allowed herself to be 
searched, or had paid the tribute demanded by England. 

Thus American commerce, between these two wrestling giants, was 
seriously embarrassed, though, as it appears, it was not greatly dimin 
ished. The carrying trade was extensive, and our country grew rich 
and prosperous. Our exports were a hundred millions of dollars : our 
shipping a million and a half of tons. (See Lloyd's Speech in the Senate of 
the United States, November 21, 1808.) In this state of things, Mr. Jef 
ferson astounded the country by proposing an embargo upon all ship 
ping within the United States the avowed object being to protect our 
commerce from the European belligerents. No measure could have been 
more objectionable to the ship-owners, in whose behalf it was osten 
sibly proposed. It passed into a law December 22d, 1807. This was 
hailed as a " magnanimous measure" by France ; at first it was re 
ceived with alarm by England, against whom it was really leveled. Mr. 
Jefferson believed that it would withhold from England our produce, 
and starve her into submission ; at the same time, he no doubt desired 
to benefit France, by thus inflicting a heavy blow upon her adversary. 
That nnch was one design of the embargo was proved by supplemen 
tary acts, forbidding intercourse between the United States and the con 
ligii'nis British Provinces. ' tlo\v," it was asked, "can a law which 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 447 

had been attained by these measures. The sincerity 
of the government was, indeed, deeply questioned, 
for there seemed to be evidences that in professing 
one thing, it really sought to attain others. Despite 
the long indictment set forth in the Declaration of 
War against Great Britain, it was extensively be- 



forbids a Vermont farmer from going into Canada to sell potash, protect 
our shipping from being seized by the European belligerents ?" 

There was, perhaps, never an act of greater despotism than that of 
the embargo. It was not limited in time or space : it seemed universal 
and perpetual. It consigned to ruin and bankruptcy thousands of our 
citizens ; it spread gloom and despair in our seaports ; it left our ships 
rotting at the wharves ; it drove our seamen into foreign service. It not 
only inflicted these evils upon our own country, but in some respects it 
benefited Great Britain, against whom it was leveled. It stimulated the 
British West Indians to vary their crops, and make themselves inde 
pendent of our products; it enriched Canada, Nova Scotia, and New 
Brunswick by turning into their hands the supplying of bread-stuffs 
and naval stores ; it built up their navigation at the expense of ours ; it 
gave to other nations the rich carrying trade of the world. 

Thus this measure proved to be, in practice, as destructive as it was 
erroneous in principle. What would the world think of a universal 
and perpetual embargo on our shipping now ? And it was almost as 
absurd in 1807 as it would be in 1856. It was, in fact, sinister as to its 
origin, absurd as a measure of policy, wrong in principle, and abor 
tive in its effects. It was, nevertheless, continued in force until March, 
1809, a period of nearly fifteen months, having spread poverty and ruin 
over great part of New England. As a substitute for this measure, a 
non-importation act was passed, prohibiting, for one year, all commer 
cial intercourse with both France and England. 

On the 1st of May, 1810, Congress passed an act excluding all British 
and French armed vessels from entering the waters of the United States ; 
but providing, also, that if either of these nations should modify its 
decrees before the 3d of March, 1811, intercourse with it should bo 
renewed. This condition was apparently complied with by France 
(though it afterward appeared to be otherwise), and in November it 
was announced by the President's proclamation. The difficulties with 
Great Britain, as to her blockade and Orders in Council, however, 
continued, and constituted one of the principal grounds of the war, ;u 
set fort 1 1 in the Declaration. A few days after this declaration, however. 
ifws arrived that these acts hud buen repealed, on the 22d of Juno, 



'148 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL. 

lieved that this measure had its true origin in an in 
trigue for the presidency.* The people did not be 
lieve the war necessary : they did not feel that it was 
declared for patriotic purposes. Above all, they held 
that the country was in no state of preparation for 
such a struggle ; and they doubted the fitness and 
capacity of the administration to carry it on with 
vigor and success. 

These were the views of the mass of the people in 
New England. Nor were they alone. Many of the 
leaders of the democratic party were adverse to this 
measure ; Mr. Madison, the President, believed it to 
be rash, and was only persuaded into it by the impe 
rious exigency of following the war-cry of young 
and vaulting democracy, in order to secure his sec 
ond election. Gallatin yielded to it, from a feeling 
of party necessity. Randolph openly and strenu 
ously opposed it from the beginning to the end. 
Stephen Howe Bradley, sixteen years a senator from 
Vermont, and the ablest democratic member of 
the Senate from New England, earnestly counseled 

find hence it was urged that the war should cease, as one of its princi 
pal causes was withdrawn. Such, however, was not the view of our 
government. 

* " That domination over public opinion which the war party so long 
manifested, &c., have conspired to shield Madison from the obloquy 
which must ever rest upon this part of his conduct that of having been 
driven by intimidation, and seduced by personal interest and ambition, 
into a course of public conduct, in his own judgment improvident, if 
ubt highly dangerous." 

" The same convictions were fully shared by Gallatin, and probably 
also by Monroe, the President's two principal cabinet officers." HU- 
dretk'e United States, second series, vol. iii. p. 334. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTIC A L, ETC. 449 

Madison against it.* Fifteen democratic members 
of Congress voted against the Declaration of War. 
There was, in fact, a large body of reflecting demo 
crats in the country who did not approve of the war, 
though the vehemence of those who supported it 
kept them in silence, or perhaps forced them to ac 
quiescence. While such was the fact as to many 
leading democrats, the federalists, with one voice, 
united in its condemnation. 

If such were the objections of New England to 
the war, there were others of equal force to the pro 
posed method of carrying it on. The plan of the 
government was to invade Canada, conquer it, and 
hold it as a pledge of peace. In New England, there 
were objections of principle, founded as well in the 
Constitution, as in policy and morals, against aggres 
sive war, especially for avowed purposes of conquest. 
And besides, they held that the ocean, and not the 
land, was the true theater upon which we were best 
qualified to cope with the enemy. 

These, I repeat, were the views of New England, 
by which I mean the people of New England not 
of a few politicians and party leaders, but of the great 
body of the citizens that is, the entire federal party, 
constituting a large majority of the voters. It is a 
well-known characteristic of this part of our country, 
that all classes read, reflect, and form opinions. These 

* General Bradley "was so dissatisfied with the war, that soon after, he 
withdrew altogether from public life. 



450 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

give direction to politicians, not politicians to them. 
It is important to keep this in view ; it is indispensable 
to the formation of a just judgment upon questions 
which immediately ensued, and which are matters of 
dispute to the present day. It will be seen that even 
the Hartford Convention originated -with the people, 
and was a measure of necessity, dictated by the state 
of public feeling and opinion, arising from'the condi 
tion of the country at large, and New England in 
particular. 

I thus present this picture of the actual state of 
things at the commencement of the war, not to 
arraign either party as wholly wrong, or to vindi 
cate either as wholly right. It was an era of high 
party excitement, and in the shock, all were doubt 
less forced into false positions. Yet, making due 
allowance for these natural and pardonable obliqui 
ties, on one side and the other, and instructed by 
subsequent events as recorded by history, I do not 
hesitate to say that these opinions of the New Eng 
land people had a serious and just foundation. Op 
position to the war was, therefore, not only their 
right, but, with these convictions, it was their duty. 
To have submitted to the doctrine that opposition is 
treason, would have made them unworthy of the name 
and privileges of freemen. That their opposition was, 
on the whole, as moderate in spirit and wise in form, 
as it was just in principle, is also my firm convic 
tion. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 451 



LETTER XXVIII 

Specks of War in (he Atmosphere The FirstYear Operations on the Land 
and on the Sea The Wickedness of the Federalists The Second Tear 
The Connecticut Militia Decatur driven into the Thames Connecticut 
in trouble I become a Soldier My First and Last Campaign,. 

MY DEAR 0****** 

I am not about to write the " History of the War 
of 1812" though that has not yet been done. We 
have abundance of books under that title, but a so 
ber and just account, rising above the party fire and 
smoke of that day, and above the sinister influences 
of this, is yet to be written.* It is, however, a task 
I shall not undertake either in these pages or else 
where. I am writing my own recollections, and it is 
only as these afford glimpses of the period alluded 
to, that I shall notice it. 

I pass over a variety of things, still in my mem 
ory : the gradual deepening of the gloom that spread 
over society as the events of the war drew on ; the 
bankruptcies of merchants ; the suspension of specie 
payments by the banks ; the difficulty of getting 
money ; the gradual withering of the resources of the 
people ; the scarcity of a multitude of articles, alike 

* Hildreth's History of the United States is a strong book vigorous 
in its style and manly in its spirit. Its sketch of the war of 1812 is a 
mere outline, but so far as it goes it seems to me calculated to satisfy 
the reader who wishes to obtain an impartial and true view of events, 
and of the men that participated in them 



452 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL. 

of luxury, convenience, and necessity ; the stagnation 
of trade ; the impoverishment and depression of the 
laboring classes; the crushing of the hopes and 
prospects of the young, about entering upon the the 
ater of active and independent life : in short, that gen 
eral sense of anxiety, poverty, and disappointment 
which clouded nearly every brow and .nearly every 
heart. I pass over those hells of drinking, deception, 
and degradation, called recruiting rendezvous. I pass 
over the scream of fife and tuck of drum daily 
exhibited in the streets by a miserable set of young 
men, for the most part seduced into the army, either 
by artifice or liquor. I pass over the patriotic pul 
sations of the democracy, and the lowering disgust 
of federalism, as the glorious army of patriots some 
times ten or a dozen men led by a puffy sergeant, 
choking with martial ardor or a close-fitting stock, 
passed through our city on their way to the Conquest 

of Canada. I pass by Col. C a sample of a 

large part of the new army officers of that period a 
raw river boatman, suddenly converted into a colonel, 
and strutting, with his martial cloak around him, like 
a new-fledged Shanghai cock. I pass by the arrival 
in our town of Dearborn " Major-general Dearborn 
Commander-in-chief of the American army" a 
great man, and causing a great sensation, then but 
" Granny Dearborn" a very short time after. 

Leaving these and similar incidents entirely out of 
view, and taking a long leap to the close of the year 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 453 

what saitb the record ? General Hull had surren 
dered in August less than sixty days after the dec 
laration of war to the British at Detroit, giving up 
his whole army of two thousand men, with all our 
forts, garrisons, and territories in that quarter. This, 
the direct result of mismanagement on the part of the 
Administration, as well in planning the campaign as 
in giving an important command to an imbecile of 
ficer was the substance of the first year's operations 
against Canada. We just caught a Tartar that is, 
the Tartar took us and our territory, instead of our 
taking him ! General Dearborn had indeed three 
armies afoot some ten thousand men, stretching 
along the Canada line, from Plattsburg to Michigan ; 
and there was some fighting, but nothing effectual 
was done. Never was a country in a situation more 
humiliating than ours a great nation, having boast 
ed of overrunning Canada in two months seeing its 
own armies beaten, baffled, and retiring ingloriously 
into winter quarters, before an enemy which we had 
covered with epithets of ridicule and contempt ! 

The federalists were very wicked people, and put 
ting finger to nose, as they met the democrats, they 
said" We told you so !" Now, " I told you so !" 
is not only a very provoking, but, in general, a very 
mean argument. The federalists were very wrong 
indeed positively unchristian. Charity tells us to 
comfort the unfortunate, and to pour balm into the 
wounded heart. The federalists did no such thing. 



LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

Oh, how the Connecticut Mirror, in the hands of 
Theodore Dwight, did cast its arrows, right and left, 
at the war audits authors! Poor "Jim Madison:" 
poor " Granny Dearborn !" It was indeed very, very 
provoking, very improper. 

While thus failure and disgrace attended our op 
erations upon the land, light broke in upon us from 
the ocean. On the 19th of August, three days after 
Hull's surrender, another Hull the gallant Commo 
dore met the Guerriere, and it was ours. Again 
the wicked federalists said " We told you so ! that's 
our thunder." This was true enough. The federal 
ists had built up the navy : Jefferson and his party 
had opposed it. The federalists had urged that if 
we must go to war the strength of the country 
should be put into ships, and that we should meet 
the enemy upon the sea. " Not so" said democra 
cy " we will take Canada !" It was very provoking 
of Commodore Hull to capture the Guerriere, for 
it gave aid and comfort to the enemy these black 
hearted federalists ! However, other commanders fol 
lowed Hull's example. On the 18th of October, 
Capt. Jones, in the Wasp, took the British sloop-of- 
war Frolic ; and on the 25th of the same month, the 
fierce and fiery Decatur, in the frigate United States, 
captured the British frigate Macedonian. In Decem 
ber, Bainbridge conquered the Java, after a fearful 
conflict. " Hurra for the navy i we told you so !" 
said the black-hearted federalists. 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTJCAL, ETC. 455 

Such was the first year of the war : the campaign 
of 1813 opened upon a wider and more varied field. 
Among its incidents upon the land, were the disas 
trous operations of Winchester, at Frenchtown 
which clothed all Kentucky in mourning for its gal 
lant sons, fallen in battle ; our capture of York, in 
Canada, costing the life of the lamented Pike ; Har 
rison's effective resistance at the siege of Fort Meigs ; 
the battle of the Thames, and the death of the great 
Indian chief, Tecumseh important events, leading 
finally to the recovery of Detroit. To these were add 
ed the retirement of General Dearborn the President 
insisting he was sick, while the general, not taking 
or not relishing the joke, insisted that he was never 
better in his life ; the succession of Wilkinson as 
commander-in-chief soon, however, to be superseded 
and tried by court-martial for his blunders and fail 
ures ; the magnificent attempt to take Montreal, and 
its equally magnificent abortion ; and finally, late in 
the year, the bloody and desolating ravages by the 
British, of Buffalo, Black Bock, Lewiston, &c., &c., 
in revenge for our burning the Canadian village of 
Newark, by which we turned four hundred helpless 
people out of doors in midwinter. Thus the year, 
which had presented some brilliant instances of cour 
age and conduct, closed in general disappointment 
and humiliation, so far as our land operations were 
concerned. " We told you so !" said the wicked fed 
eralists, and many a democratic ear tingled at the gibe. 



456 LKTTKKS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

Yet light again with some sad and disheartening 
hadows came from the sea. On the 21st of Feb 
ruary, Captain Lawrence took the Peacock, but on 
the 4th of June following, gave up his life on the deck 
of the Chesapeake captured by the Shannon be 
queathing, however, to his country the glorious 
motto, worthy of all great occasions " Don't give 
up the ship !" On the 14th of August the American 
Argus quailed to the British Pelican ; in September, 
the British Boxer became the prize of the American 
Enterprise. A greater triumph was at hand. On the 
10th of this month. Perry met the enemy on Lake 
Erie, and " they were ours !" It was indeed a glorious 
victory ; the entire British fleet two ships, two brigs, 
one schooner, and one sloop falling into our hands. 

"We told you so: that's our thunder!" said the 
exultant but provoking federalists. " It is our thun 
der, too !" said the democrats. " Hurra for the navy I" 
said both parties. " Here's to Hull and Decatur and 
Jones and Biddle and Bainbridge, and all the rest !" 
said everybody. There was one point of union at last, 
and so it was to the end of the war. The little navy 
had conquered democratic prejudice, and fought itself 
into national favor. It was indeed a glorious thing 
saving the honor of the country, tarnished by imbecil 
ity and disaster upon the land, and teaching a wise 
lesson as to the true policy to be pursued, in case of 
future conflict with any European enemy : let us meet 
upon the sea! 



HISTORICAL, AMECDOT'ICAL. ETC. 4.,, 

I must not omit an episode of the war at this pe 
riod, in which I was concerned. On the first of June, 
1813, Commodore Decatur, in the United States, at 
tended by the Macedonian and the sloop-of-war Hor 
net, having passed from New York through the 
Sound, attempted to get out to sea by way of Mon- 
tauk Point. Here they were met by the British fleet, 
under Commodore Hardy, and driven into the Thames 
at New London. The enemy's force was soon in 
creased by the arrival of other ships of war, and 
these, anchoring off Gull Island so as to block up the 
port, seemed to threaten a speedy attack. Great panic 
immediately ensued, as well at New London as along 
the borders of the Sound. The specie of the banks 
in that city was removed to Norwich, and the wo 
men and children dispersed themselves among the 
interior towns and villages. No adequate means of 
defense existed along the line of the New England 
coast seven hundred miles in extent. The regu 
lar troops had nearly all been marched off to invade 
Canada. The general government had, furthermore, 
called upon the New England States to place a por 
tion of the militia at their disposal for this object. 
This had been refused on several grounds : one was, 
that the Constitution provided only three contingen 
cies, in which the militia could be lawfully placed 
under the command of the President, and these were, 
to repel invasion, suppress insurrection, and execute the 
laws. Neither of these emergencies existed in the 

VOL. I. 20 



4-58 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

present case. Another ground of refusal was, that the 
coasts, being left defenceless, the retaining of the mili 
tia was a measure dictated by every consideration of 
prudence. Still another objection was, that the general 
government had so organized and distributed the na 
tional forces, as to make the militia fall under the 
command of the army officers a principle always 
resisted by the country, in every period of its national 
history. On the whole, the government scheme, in 
respect to the militia, was regarded, and very justly, 
as analogous to the systems of conscription in the 
military despotisms of Europe, and if once tolerated 
and passed into practice as alike hostile to our prin 
ciples and threatening to our liberties. The fear of 
seeing our freedom fall before some ambitious mili 
tary leader, had prevailed in the convention which 
framed our Constitution, and it was this which had 
induced that far-seeing body to circumscribe the 
power of the President, in regard to the militia, with 
in the clear and narrow limits already mentioned.' 
Prudence and patriotism alike dictated, in the present 
instance, that this great bulwark of liberty should be 
maintained. 

These, fortunately for the country, were the views 
of the New England States at this period, and upon 
these they acted. There was then and has been since, 
much clamor by the war party against their conduct 
in this instance, but every lover of his country should 
render homage to the wisdom and patriotism of those 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTICAL, ETC. 459 

leaders who guided the councils of New England, at 
this crisis. The question was then settled, and doubt 
less settled forever, that by no artifice can the system 
of conscription, giving unlimited command over the 
militia to the President, be consummated. The rule 
of the Constitution, in this respect, has been con 
firmed, as not only a principle in theory, but as a rule 
of practice. 

I remember the discussions on this subject which 
took place at the North, during this period. Besides 
the objections already mentioned against placing the 
militia at the disposal of the President and besides 
the general hostility of the people to sending their 
sons forth for the avowed purpose of conquest 
there was another motive, and a very active one, 
tending in the same direction. The new army officers, 
with some honorable exceptions, were held in very 
light esteem, as well personally as professionally. Al 
most without exception, the appointments were bestowed 
upon partisans of the President. Many of the officers 
were notoriously unfit for the places given to them.* 

* This was certainly the case ill New England, and I know of no cir 
cumstance in the whole conduct of the war, that operated so powerfully 
as this, to destroy the confidence of the people in the government, and 
to exasperate them against it. Many of the officers, especially those of 
the lower grade, had no qualifications for the places they filled but their 
democracy. This was pointed out to the President : he was advised 
that if he would commission certain persons of the federal party, who 
were conspicuous for their military qualifications, and who were also 
willing to receive commissions, that it would do more than any thing 
else to break the opposition to the war. This he declined, saying that 
the offices belonged of right to those who supported his administration, 
and besides, that he should disgust his own party by such a course. 



460 L OTTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

Dearborn especially was well known in New Eng 
land, and was regarded as wholly incompetent to the 
responsible command devolved upon him. Hull's 
surrender, Dearborn's failures, and Wilkinson's abor 
tions, justified and increased this general want of con 
fidence in the new army appointments. Even if other 
objections had not existed, the people would have 
revolted at the idea of sending their sons to perish 
ingloriously along the Canadian borders, under the 
direction of incompetent commanders, appointed on 
merely partisan principles. 

But now a new state of things had arisen in Connec 
ticut : our own territory was threatened. For this, 
the State government had made wise preparation, 
and on their part there was no hesitation.* It was 
midsummer a period when the husbandmen could 

* Party vehemence has represented that the New England States, at 
this period, not only opposed the war by words but by deeds ; that in 
fact they were prepared to go over to the enemy. Nothing could be 
more untrue. Whatever might be the political opinions of the feder 
alists, when the war was declared, Great Britain was regarded as an en 
emy. I can affirm, that, although I was in the very midst of the " old 
federalists" of Connecticut, I never heard a word fall from the lips of 
any one of them, expressive of an opposite sentiment. I no doubt 
caught the feelings of those around me, and I am conscious of having 
always felt, through the war, that the British were our national ene 
mies. The records of Connecticut prove, conclusively, that this idea 
was as strongly entertained by the government of that State as by the 
general government itself. The following are extracts from the doings 
of the legislature, in their extra session, called in August, 1818, in con 
sequence of the declaration of war ; and the conduct of the State was ia 
accordance with these views. 

" War, always calamitous, in this case portentous of great evils, enact 
ed against a nation powerful in her armies, and without a rival on the - 
ocean, can not be viewed by us but with the deepest regret. A nation 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 41 ( 

ill afford to leave their farms : so orders were sent by 
Governor Smith* to dispatch at once the companiea 
of militia from the larger towns to the defense of New 
London, and the neighboring country. At that tirm 
I belonged to an artillery company, and this was among' 
those ordered to the coast. I received a summons at 
four o'clock in the afternoon, to be ready to march 
the next day at sunrise. I went at once to consult 

without fleets, without armies, with an impoverished treasury, with a 
frontier by sea and land extending many hundred miles, feebly defend 
ed waging a war, hath, not first ' counted the cost.' 

" By the Constitution of the United States, the power of declaring 
war is vested in Congress. They have declared war against Great Brit 
ain. However much this measure is regretted, the General Assembly, 
ever regardful of their duty to the general government, will perform all 
those obligations resulting from this act. With this view, they have 
at this session provided for the more effectual organization of the mil 
itary force of the State, and a supply of the munitions of war. These 
will be employed, should the public exigencies require it, in defense of 
this State, and of our sister States, in compliance with the Constitution ; 
and it is not to be doubted, but that the citizens of this State will be 
found, at the constitutional call of their country, among the foremost in 
its defense." 

* Eoger Griswold was Governor at the time the war was declared, 
but in October, 1812, during the session of the legislature, he died at his 
residence in Norwich. John Cotton Smith, then Lieutenant-governor, 
became acting governor, and the next April was elected Governor of the 
State. Eoger Griswold was born at Lyme in 1762 : having graduated 
at Yale College, he devoted himself to the law, and soon ro e to emi 
nence. In 1794 he was elected to Congress, where he continued for 
many years, being a leader of the federal party. Mr. Webster once told 
me that he considered him one of the most accomplished parliamentary 
debaters our country has produced. During his time there wa an Irish 
man in. Congress from Vermont, named Matthew Lyon, of whom tho 
poet Honeywood thus sings : 

" I'm rugged Mat, 
The Democrat 

Berate me as you please, sir : 
True Paddy-whack, 
Ne'er turn'd his back, 

Nor bow'd his head to Caesar." 



402 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

my uncle who, by the way, was at that time not 
only mayor of the city, but Lieutenant-governor of 
the State. He had a short time before promised to 
make me one of his aids, and perhaps thought I 
should expect him now to fulfill his engagement. 
He soon set that matter at rest. 

" You must of course go," said he. " We old fed 
eralists can not shelter our nephews, when there is a 
question of defending our own territory." 

" Ought I not to consult my parents ?" said I. 

I will go down and see them to-morrow " he re 
plied. 

" Certainly then I shall go : I wish to go : my only 
feeling is that my mother may have some anxiety." 

" I will see her to-morrow : you may be at ease 
on that subject. Be ready to march at sunrise, ac 
cording to your orders. I will come and see you 
before you start." 

The next morning, while it was yet dark, he came, 
gave me letters of introduction to Judge Brainard, 
father of the poet, Judge Perkins, and General Wil 
liams. He also supplied me with ten dollars, a wel 
come addition to my light purse. After a little ad 
vice, he said " I have only one thing to add if 
you come to a fight, don't run away till the rest do. 
Good-by!" 

This man, one day, spit in Griswold's i'ace in the Representatives' Hall, 
and as the democratic miijority refused to punish him, Griswold jrave 
him a severe beating with his cane. Thia was the first of those indecent 
brawls which have disgraced onr national assembly. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 463 

The next morning June 7, 1813 about sunrise, 
the whole company, nearly sixty in number, mount 
ed in wagons, departed. At sunset, we were on the 
heights, two miles back of New London. No provi 
sion had been made for us, and so we went supper- 
less to bed, in a large empty barn. I scarcely closed 
my eyes, partly because it was my first experiment 
in sleeping on the floor, and partly because of the 
terrific snoring of a fellow-soldier, by the name of 
C . . . ., who chanced to be at my side. Never have I 
heard such a succession of choking, suffocating, stran 
gling sounds as issued from his throat. I expected 
that he would die, and indeed once or twice I thought 
he was dead. Strange to say, he got up the next 
morning in excellent condition, and seemed, indeed, to 
feel better for the exercise. This man became quite a 
character before the campaign was over : he got the 
title of ^Eolus, and as he could not be tolerated in 
the barracks, he was provided with a tent, at a good 
distance, where he blew his blast without restraint. 
I need only add, that, at the close of the campaign, 
lie was the fattest man in the company. 

I was glad to see the daylight. The weather was 
fine, and as the sun came up, we saw the British fleet 
some half dozen large ships of war lying off the 
mouth of the Thames. They seemed very near at 
hand, and for the first time I realized my situation 
that of a soldier, who was likely soon to be engaged 
in battle. I said nothing of my emotions : indeed, 



4-61 LKTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

v/ords were unnecessary. I watched the counte 
nances of my companions as they first caught a view 
of the black and portentous squadron, and I read in. 
almost every bosom a reflection of my own feelings. 
We were, however, not all sentimentalists. There 
were among us, as -doubtless in all such companies, a 
supply of witty, reckless Gallios, who gave a cheerful 
turn to our thoughts. We soon dispersed among the 
inhabitants, scattered over the neighboring hills and 
valleys, for breakfast. Like hungry wolves, we fell 
upon the lean larders, and left famine behind. CM 
course every one offered to pay, but not one person 
would accept a farthing : we were, indeed, received 
as protectors and deliverers. It was something, after 
all, to be soldiers ! With our stomachs fortified, and 
our consciousness flattered, we came cheerfully to 
gether. 

At ten o'clock, we were mustered, and began our 
march, all in our best trim : cocked hats, long-tailed 
blue coats, with red facings, white pantaloons, and 
shining cutlasses at our sides. Oar glittering cannon 
moved along with the solemnity of elephants. It was, 
in fact, a fine company all young men, and many 
from the best families in Hartford. Our captain, John 
son, was an eminent lawyer, of martial appearance, 
and" great taste for military affairs. He afterward 
rose to the rank of general. Mosely, the first-lieu 
tenant, was six feet four inches high a young law 
yer, nephew of Oliver Wolcott and of high social 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 465 

nnd professional standing. Screamed the fife, rolled 
the drum as we entered New London ! The streets 
presented some confusion, for still the people were 
removing back into the country, as an attack was 
daily expected. A few military companies were also 
gathering into the town. We were, however, not 
wholly overlooked : women put their heads out of 
the windows, and smiled their gratitude as we passed 
along. Men stopped, and surveyed us with evident 
signs of approbation. Louder screamed our fife, 
deeper rolled our drum, and the glorious music 
echoed and re-echoed bounded and rebounded 
from the reverberating walls of the streets. It was 
a glorious thing to belong to such a company ! At 
last we came to a halt in one of the public squares. 
Then there was racing and chasing of aid-de-camps, 
in buff and feathers, for four mortal hours, during 
which our martial pride wilted a little in the broil 
ing sun. At four o'clock in the afternoon, we were 
transported across the Thames, to the village of Gro- 
ton, and took up our quarters in a large house, on 
the bank of the river, vacated for our use. Two 
immense kettles the one filled with junks of salt 
beef and the other with unwashed potatoes were 
swung upon the kitchen trammels, and at six o'clock 
in the evening we were permitted each to fish out his 
dinner from the seething mass. That was my first 
soldier's supper ; and after all, it was a welcome and 
relishing meal. 

20* 



LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 



LETTER XXIX. 

Description of Neiv Tendon Fort TrumbullFort Grixwold The Brit 
ish Fleet Decatur and his Ships in the Thames Commodore Ifardy 
Letters from Home Performances of the Hartford Company Fishing 
A few British Broad/fides Apprehensions of an Attack Great Prep 
arations Sober Second Thoughts On Guard A Suspicious Customer 
Alarm, alarm ! Company called out Expectations of instant Battle 
Corporal TSs Nightmare Consequences'- Influence of Camp Life 
Return to Hartford Land Warrants Blue Lights Decatur, Biddle, 
and Jones. 

MY DEAR C****** 

I must attempt to give you an idea of our posi 
tion, as now established in our barracks. New Lon 
don, as you doubtless know, is situated on the west 
ern bank of the River Thames, three miles from its 
mouth. It has now ten or twelve thousand inhabit 
ants, but at the time I am speaking of, there were not 
more than four thousand. The entrance to the river 
is broad, and affords a fine harbor. This is defended 
by Fort Trumbull on the western side of the river, 
half a mile below the city. It was commanded, at 
two several periods, by my grandfather, Colonel Ely,* 
during the Revolutionary war, but was then a place 
of little strength. It fell into disrepair, but had been 

* " Dr. John Ely, of Lynic (1776), performed a tour of duty here na 
captain and major, and also as physician and surgeon. In July he was 
sent to visit the northern army, and employ his skill in arresting tins 
small-pox, which was then raging in the camp with great virulence." 
CauVffMs History of New London, p. 521. Colonels Latitner, Ely, &c., 
performed tours of duty, with their respective regiments, at New Lon 
don and Groton, 1777. Ibid. p. 526. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. -467 

rebuilt, and contained a garrison of six or seven hun 
dred soldiers during the war of 1812. It has recently 
been reconstructed on an ample scale, and is at pres 
ent one of the most complete of our fortifications, 
mounting eighty heavy guns, and having accomrno 
dations for eight hundred men. 

Opposite to New London is the village of Groton, 
the main street running along the river bank ; on an 
eminence some hundred rods from the river, and com 
manding a view of the surrounding country, inclu 
ding the harbor and the islands which lie scattered 
near it in the Sound, is the site of Fort Griswold 
the scene of one of the saddest tragedies in our revo 
lutionary annals. Here is now a monument one hun 
dred and thirty feet in height, erected by the State, 
in commemoration of this event. The old fort is, 
however, in ruins, though a small attached battery, 
lower down, and more suited to effective defense of 
the harbor, has been rebuilt. In my time, Fort Gris 
wold was in tolerable repair. Our company, as well 
as other portions of the militia, labored upon it, and 
strengthened it, as well by completing its works as 
by erecting a small redoubt upon the southeastern 
side. To the defense of the latter, in case of attack, 
the Hartford company was assigned. 

About a week after our arrival, over a thousand 
militia, gathered from various parts of the State, were 
stationed along the river, chiefly on the eastern bank. 
Di-catur had drawn his three ships up the stream as 



I.KTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL 



far as possible, some twelve miles from its mouth, 
and near the city of Norwich. Here the river is re 
duced to three hundred feet in width, and flows be 
tween high rocky banks. On one of these, called 
Allyn's Mountain commanding a wide view even 
as far south as the harbor light intrenchments were 
thrown up, being deemed an effectual defense against 
any attack likely to be made by the enemy. 

The British squadron had been for some time on 
the coast. As early as April, Commodore Hardy, in 
the flag-ship Kamiles, with the Orpheus and other 
vessels, having erected their standard on Block Isl 
and, cruised in this quarter. The people of New 
London, who had hitherto remained sheltered from 
the war, were now suddenly reminded of the British 
fleet which came hither under the vindictive Arnold* 

* Long Island Sound, and its shores on both sides, were the scenes 
of active and stirring events during the Revolutionary war. This shoot 
of water, as well as Long Island itself, and the city of New York at it* 
western extremity, were for a long time in the possession of the enemy. 
Litrge British fleets were often seen sweeping through the Sound, nnd 
always carried terror into the towns and villages of Connecticut along 
the northern shore. On the 5th of September, 1781, a fleet of thirty- 
two vessels, of all classes, conveyed to New London a force of about two 
thousand men. These were landed the next day, and marched upon the 
town. All was panic and confusion among the inhabitants. Colonel 
Ledyard, with such means as could be mustered, took his station at 
Fort Griswold. A force of twenty-three men at Fort Trumbull which 
was only a battery for defense toward the water, and open behind on 
the approach of the enemy, fired a volley, and crossed the river to Fort 
Griswold. Arnold, amid random shots which did some execution, en 
tered the town. The work of destruction then commenced. The torch 
was applied, and a long line of fire soon enveloped the place. Shops, 
htores, housos, vessels, wharves, boats, rigging, were enveloped in smoke 
and flame. Hogsheads of sugar and rum, and tubs of butter wero 
knocked in, and the flumes, seizing upon the alcohol and grease, me 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 469 

thirty years before, and left behind him an imr^rish 
able remembrance of outrage and infamy. 

The British commander, Hardy, conducted with 
the utmost courtesy and humanity, but still there was 
a feeling of uneasiness along the shore. This was 
deepened into anxiety and alarm, on the arrival of 
Decatur and his ships, and the consequent gathering 
of the British forces around the harbor, as if for at- 

in rivers of fire along the gutters of the streets. Arnold was born 
near this place, and was well acquainted with it. He used his informa 
tion to effect the destruction of the best parts of the city, nnd nearly 
nil its stores of merchandise, &c. 

On the other side of the river a deeper tragedy was being enacted. 
Colonel Eyre had been dispatched against Fort Griswold with two Brit 
ish regiments. The fort itself was an oblong square, with bastions at 
opposite angles its long side fronting the river. Its defenders, under 
Colonel Ledyard, were but one hundred and fifty men. About noon 
the enemy made their attack in solid column. They were at first re 
ceived with a few deadly volleys, and then by a quick, steady, destruc 
tive fire. Both attack and defense were firm and determined. The men 
within seemed each a hero. The two British commanders fell. But 
the enemy at last conquered by numbers. They marched in, and Col. 
Ledyard ordered his men to throw down their arms. A few, however, 
in one of the bastions still resisted. This irritated the British, and 
they continued their deadly fire from the parapets, even upon the sur 
rendered Americans. 

At last, the British .major, Bromfield, on whom the command had 
devolved, entered, and demanded, " Who commands this fort ?" " I 
did," said Col. Ledyard, " but you do now." At the same time, he 
presented his sword, in token of submission. The ferocious command 
er took the weapon and plunged it in the owner's bosom ! At the same 
moment the attendants rushed upon the prostrate and bleeding vic 
tim, and dispatched him with their bayonets. The work of butchery 
then went on against the survivors. At last the enemy departed, leav 
ing eighty-five Americans dead, and about thirty-five regarded as mor 
tally wounded having first stripped them, and then leaving them ex 
posed to the broiling suii. More than half this butchery took place 
sifter the surrender A small number, who survived, were taken away 
as prisoners. 

Such was the desolating expedition of the traitor, Benedict Arnnlij, 



470 I.KTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

tack^ When we arrived, the squadron consisted, 1 
think, of two ships-of-the-line, two frigates, and a 
number of smaller vessels. There was, however, a 
constant movement among them the force being 
frequently diminished, and as frequently augmented. 
These changes were the occasion of constant alarm 
along the shore, and scarcely a day passed that we 
had not some rumor of a meditated attack. 

Such was the state of public affairs on the surface. 
As to myself, I was soon drilled into the habits of a 
soldier. I had been permitted to go to New London 
and deliver my letters of introduction. I received 
letters from home, and in one of these, from my father, 
which I have preserved, I find the following passages : 

' We hope you will pay very exact attention to your conduct 
and behavior, while you are a soldier. You have our prayers 
for your welfare and that of your comrades. Study to ingra 
tiate yourself with them, by your kindness, and especially with 
your officers, by your cheerful obedience to their orders. We 



against New London. It adds to the horror, inspired by such de 
tails, to know that he was accompanied by a large number of Ameri 
cans, who, however, had joined the British, and thus came to aid in 
the work of death, rain, and despair. Such is war. The next day, the 
ships, having received the troops, departed, leaving a dreadful scene of 
havoc and desolation behind them. New London was, indeed, little 
better than a ruin. 

The memory of this event, and the natural hatred consequently in 
spired by the British name, still lives here and in the neighborhood. 
Tie anniversary of the massacre at Groton fort was long celebrated with 
sad solemnities. A lofty monument now points to heaven, in protect 
against the crime it records. Such deeds never die, and the world is 
dotted all over with them too many perpetrated by men who bore the 
British namo. Is this the explanation of the general dislike of Great 
I'.ri'.a'n. tlinniirhont the civilized world ? 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTICAL, ETC. 4< 1 

hear that there is an additional British force arrived within a 
few days. How Jong they will think it worth while to keep up 
the blockade at New London, is uncertain : they will not, at 
any rate, consult our convenience. We are in hopes the British 
will make no attack upon New London, and that you will not 
be called into a conflict with them. But we must leave this to 
the overruling of a merciful God, as also the issue, should he 
permit such an event. Should you be called to engage with 
them, I hope and trust that you will do your duty, and defend 
your country, which is just and right, though it may not be so 
to engage in offensive war. 

" I wish to remind you, my dear son, of the necessity of being 
prepared for death, at all times and by all persons. This is spe 
cially important to a soldier. This will arm you with courage 
to meet whatever God shall call you to experience. It is no 
evidence of courage for persons to rush into danger in a thought 
less or wicked manner ; it is a better and surer courage which 
rests upon a deep sense of duty, and which always keeps the 
soldier ready to die at any moment even at the beat of the 
drum." 

There, my dear C . . . ., is a specimen of old Pres 
byterian, Blue Light, Hartford Convention Federal 
ism, during the "late war!" It was good doctrine 
then, and it is good doctrine now : good to live by, 
and good to die by. At all events, as this letter 
came from home, and told me of the welfare of m^y 
friends ; as it came also with a large bundle of tea, 
sugar, dried beef, and other things, with several pairs 
of stockings, mended up by my mother, and abun 
dance of messages and good wishes, and sundry letters 
and scraps of letters it put me in good heart, wheth 
er for peace or war. Who would not be a soldier, it 



4 i 2 I.K TTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

thereby he becomes the object of such sympathy ? 
Fortified by this aid and comfort,* I could cheerfully 
have gone to fight the British, or anybody else 
" where duty called me." 

The officers of our company were rigid disciphna 
rians, and accordingly we were drilled for about four 
hours each day. We soon gained much reputation 
for our martial exercises and our tidy appearance. 
Many people came over from New London to wit 
ness our performances. Among these were often 
persons of distinction. On two occasions, Decatur, 
Biddle, and Jones came to see us, and complimented 
us very heartily. On Sundays, we marched two miles 
to church. Being in our best guise, we caused quite 
a sensation. Men and women, boys and girls, stream 
ed along at our flanks, often in a broiling sun, yet 
always with admiring looks. 

After the morning drill, we were generally at 
leisure for the rest of the day, taking our turns, how 
ever, on guard, and in other occasional duties. Most 

* Among the letters alluded to, was the following : 

HABTFOKD, June 12, 1313. 
MY DEAR SAKUKL : 

I had the pleasure to receive yesterday your letter by Mr. Whiting. 
I am happy to be informed of your health, and that you have the good 
fare of a soldier : whatever it may want of the delicacies of the luxu 
rious table of the citizen, will be made up to you in the zest you will 
have when you return to it. The principal thing you have to attend 
to is the care of your health, and that also you will best learn, as we do 
every thing, by experience. Your father will be here to-day. We are 
all well. Write by every opportunity. 

Your affectionate uncle. CHAUNCEY GOODRICH. 



JTTSTOUTCAI., ANECDOTICAL, KTC. 473 

of the soldiers gave up their rations of mess beef 
and potatoes, and lived on their own resources. We 
formed ourselves into a general club for a supply of 
fresh fish. Every day three of us went out fishing, 
and generally returned with a half-bushel basketful 
of various kinds, among which the blackfish or ta- 
taug now so greatly esteemed was always abun 
dant. I was employed by the captain to keep his 
journal of our proceedings, and sometimes I was dis 
patched to New London, or to some one of the officers 
along the line, with a letter or a parcel. I established 
a friendly acquaintance with ol 1 Mrs. Avery, who 
kept a supply of excellent bread and butter, milk 
and eggs. I visited Fort Trumbull, and the block 
aded fleet up the river. Frequently I strolled into 
the country, and now and then went to see " Mrs. 
Bailey," who even at that early period was a ce 
lebrity of Groton. I have never seen such fierce de 
mocracy as in this village, fed, as it doubtless is, upon 
the remembrance of the British massacre at the fort ; 
and Mrs. Bailey was filled with its most peppery es 
sence. The story of the flannel petticoat* was then 



* When Decatur took refuge in New London harbor, the inhabitants 
of Groton were thrown into great alarm. At this moment a messenger 
was sent to Fort Griswold for flannel, to be used for the cannon. 
Most of the portable goods had been sent away, and the messenger was 
unsuccessful, until he met Mrs. Anna Bailey, who instantly took oif her 
flannel petticoat and heartily devoted it to the patriotic cause of defense. 
It was carried to the fortress, and displayed on a pike. The story being 
told, the garrison cheered, and the " martial petticoat" became almost && 
celebrated as Mahomet's breeches. The storv went over the whole 



474 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

recent, but it had marked her for immortality. All 
the soldiers went to see her, and she sang Jefferson 
and Liberty to them with great spirit. Once a sol 
dier talked " old federalism" to her, by way of jest : 
whereupon she got up, and holding out her petticoat, 
danced and sang Jefferson and Liberty at him, as if 
that were sufficient to strike him dead. 

I remember that on one occasion H . . . . A ... , 
my special companion, and myself, were sent with a 
letter to a lieutenant, who commanded a small picket 
on the eastern shore, near the mouth of the river 
that is, at Point Groton. It was a distance of some 
three miles. The weather was pleasant, and our route 
lay along the shore of the stream, which opens into 
a wide bay, as it meets the Sound. As we approach 
ed the southern point of the shore, we found our 
selves quite near to the British squadron. One of 
the vessels, which we knew as the Acasta* for we 
had learned all their names was under full sail in 
a light wind, and coming up toward the shore. She 
was already so near that we could see the men, and 
note every movement on the deck. While we were 
admiring the beautiful appearance of the ship, we 
suddenly saw several white puffs issue from her sides, 

country, and when General Jacksou (then President) came to New Lon 
don, lie visited this lady. She is said to have given him a very demon 
strative reception. She died January 10, 1851, aged 92 years. 

* Thia ship was noted for her beauty : she \va8 in tact the belle of 
the fleet, and was said to have been built for the Duke of Clarence, who 
served in the navy till he became admiral, and was afterward Kin^ of 
England, under the title of \ViHinin IV. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 475 

and uncoil themselves into volumes of smoke. Then 
came a deafening roar ; a moment after, and in the 
very midst of it, there were wild howls in the air, 
above our heads. At a little distance beyond, the 
ground was plowed up, scattering the soil around, 
and the top of one of the forest trees, of which a 
few were scattered here and there, was cut asunder, 
and fell almost at our feet. 

We understood the joke in an instant, and so did 
the lieutenant who commanded the picket. He was 
the object of the attack, and the broadside of the 
Acasta, sending its shot over our heads, had hurled 
one or two balls crashing through the roof of the little 
fish-hut, which he and his men occupied. In less than 
five minutes, they were seen trotting off at a round 
pace, with their cannon, jerking right and left, over 
the rough ground behind them. Several other shots 
were given, but the party escaped in safety. My 
companion and myself ensconced ourselves behind 
the rocks, and though it was grave sport, we enjoyed 
it exceedingly. "We could trace the cannon-balls as 
they flew by looking like globes of mist, twinkling 
through the air. Several of them passed close over 
our heads, and grooved the earth, in long trenches, at 
our sides. The noise they made, as they rose high 
in the air, was a strange mixture, between a howl and 
a scream. After having thus showed her teeth, and 
made a great noise, the frigate returned to her an 
chorage, and all was quiet. I hope I shall not de- 



476 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

grade myself, as a soldier, in your eyes, by confess 
ing that this was the only battle in which I was en 
gaged during this glorious war ! 

I must, however, mention one circumstance, which 
tried the souls of our company. Let me premise that, 
on a certain Saturday, a large accession to the British 
force arrived in the bay, the whole number of vessels, 
of all kinds, amounting to fourteen. This looked 
very much like an attack, and accordingly there was 
a feverish anxiety among the inhabitants of New 
London and the vicinity, and a general bustle in the 
army, from Groton Point to Allyn's Mountain. A 
large body of militia was set to work upon Fort 
Griswold. Our company was drilled in the little re 
doubt which we were to defend, and every prepara 
tion was made to give the enemy a warm reception. 
The general idea was, that a landing of British troops 
would be made on the eastern side, and that we 
should take the brunt of the first attack. 

The sun set in clouds, and as the evening advanced, 
bursts of thunder, attended by flashes of lightning, 
muttered along the distant horizon. Our company 
were admonished to sleep on their arms. Every 
thing wore a rather ominous appearance. There were 
no signs of cowardice in the men, but they looked 
thoughtful ; and when Bill W . . . ., the laureate wit 
of the company, let off some of his best jokes 
which would ordinarily have set the whole corps in a 
roar he was answered by a dead silence. It chanced 



.HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 477 

that I was that night on guard. My turn came at 
ten o'clock. Taking ray gun, I paced the bank of 
the river, back and forth, in front of our barracks. 
I had received orders to let nothing pass, by land or 
water. It was intensely dark, but at frequent inter 
vals, thin flashes of lightning sprang up against the 
distant sky, behind dark rolling masses of clouds. 

Gradually the lights in the streets and windows of 
New London, stretching in a long line on the oppo 
site side of the river, were extinguished one by one, 
a few remaining, however, as sentinels, indicating 
anxiety and watchfulness. The sounds on all sides 
were at last hushed, and left the world to darkness 
and to me. More than half of my two-hours' watch, 
had passed, when I heard the dip of oars and the flap 
ping of waves against the prow of a boat. I looked 
in the direction of the sounds, and at last descried 
the dusky outline of a small craft, stealing down the 
river. I cried out " Boat ahoy ! who goes there ?" 
My voice echoed portentously in the silence, but no 
answer was given, and the low, black, raking appari 
tion glided on its way. Again I challenged, but there 
was still no reply. On went the ghost ! I cocked my 
gun. The click sounded ominously on the still night 
air. I began to consider the horror of shooting some 
fellow-being in the dark. I called a third time, and 
not without avail. The rudder was turned, the boat 
whirled on her heel, and a man came ashore. Ac 
cording to my orders, I marshaled him to the guard- 



478 LKTTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL. 

room, and gave notice of what had happened, to the 
captain. The man was only a fisherman, going home, 
but he was detained till morning. So, you see, I can 
boast that I made one prisoner. My watch was soon 
over, and returning to my station, I laid down to sleep. 

All was soon quiet, and I was buried in profound 
repose, when suddenly there was a cry in the main 
barrack-room, overhead " Alarm ! alarm !" 

"Alarm! alarm!" was echoed by twenty voices, 
attended by quick, shuffling sounds, and followed by 
a hurried rush of men down the staircase. A moment 
after, the guard in front discharged his musket, and 
was answered by a long line of reports, up and down 
the river, from the various sentinels extending for 
half a dozen miles. Then came the roll of drums, and 
the mustering of the men. Several of our company 
had been out to see what was going on : they came 
back, saying that the enemy was approaching ! J. 
M . . . . distinctly heard the roar of cannon, and posi 
tively saw the flashes of muskets. B. W . . . . found 
out that the attack had already begun upon our 
southern pickets. Nobody doubted that our time 
had come! 

In a very few minutes our company was drawn up 
in line, and the roll was called. It was still dark, but 
the faint flashes gave us now and then a glimpse ol 
each other's faces. I think we were a ghostly look 
ing set, but it was perhaps owing to the bluish com 
plexion of the light. J. S . . . ., of West Hartford, who 



HISTORICAL, ANKCDOTICAL, ETC. 479 

marched at my left shoulder usually the lightest- 
hearted fellow in the company whispered to me, 
" Goodrich, I'd give fifty dollars to be at West Divi 
sion !" For myself, I felt rather serious, and asked 
a certain anxious feeling in my stomach " What's to 
be done ?" I thought of my father's letter, and my 
uncle's injunctions, and having settled it in my mind 
that I must fight, I closed my thoughts against all 
consequences, and felt that I was ready for the conflict. 
I was indeed almost anxious to have it come, as the 
suspense was painful. I afterward found, on conver 
sing with several members of the company, that very 
similar trains of thought had occurred to them. John 
son, our captain, was a man of nerve and ready speech. 
When the roll was finished, he said in a clear, hearty 
tone, " All right, my good fellows ! Every man at 
his post !" These few words which were, however, 
more politic than true, for one fellow was taken with 
sudden colic, and could not be got out were electri 
cal. We were ready to take our places in the redoubt. 

Messengers were now sent to the two neighboring 
posts to inquire into the state of facts. Word was 
brought that the first alarm came from our barracks ! 
The matter was inquired into, and it turned out that 

the whole affair was originated by our Corporal T , 

who, in a fit of nightmare, jumped up and cried, 
"Alarm! alarm!" 

Our martial ardor soon reconciled itself to this 
rather ludicrous denouement, though several persons, 



480 



LETTERS BIOGK APH 1C A I ., 



who had been somewhat chapfallen, became suddenly 
inflated with courage, which signalized itself with out 
bursts of" D the British !" " They're a pack of 

sneaking cowards, after all !" and the like. The next 
morning was fresh and fair. The skirmishing thun 
der-gusts of the night had cleared the air, and even 
distant objects seemed near at hand. Before us lay 
the whole British fleet, still and harmless, in the 
glassy bay. My left-hand chum, J. S . . . . , who, in 
the dark hour, would have given fifty dollars to be 
at "West Division, was now himself again. " Come 
on here, you black old Kamiles !" said he dashing 
the doubled fist of his right hand into the palm of 
his left : " come on here, you black-hearted British 
bull-dogs, and we'll do your business for you !" &c. 

Notwithstanding our military duties, you will read 
ily comprehend that we had a good deal of leisure. 
For the most part, this idle time was wasted, or worse 
than wasted. The atmosphere of a camp presents a 
fearful ordeal for all, but more especially for the 
young soldier. The restraints of society being with 
drawn, the seducing and corrupting influences which 
naturally spring up and riot in such a soil, too often 
lead captive the strong as well as the weak. The 
military spirit is opposed to reflection : it is reckless, 
banishes thought, and teaches a kind of self-aban 
donment. Our officers set an excellent example, and 
there was less of degradation in our company than in 
others. Still, among us, there was a general reading 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. iSl 

of bad books, a great deal of petty gambling, and not 
a little tippling. It was easy to see, week by week, 
the gradual wearing away of the sense of propriety, 
of gentlemanly tastes, and general conservatism, in 
at least one-half the young men of our company. A 
similar declension was visible throughout the whole 
body of militia along the line. My own conviction 
was and is, that military life is exceedingly degra 
ding, and especially to militia, who are suddenly 
called away from the usual safeguards of virtue, and 
exposed to new and 'unexpected seductions. 

Fortunately our period of service was brief. In 
about six weeks from the time of our departure, we 
were dismissed, and returned to our homes. Thus 
closed my military career, so far as relates to active 
service. The remembrances of my first and last cam 
paign are, on the whole, pleasant. There were feel 
ings of fraternity established between the members 
of the company which have 'continued to this day, 
save only in regard to those which the grave has 
sundered. My country has not been unmindful of 
my services ; for I have received two land-warrants 
giving me a title to some hundred and sixty acres 
with the fresh virgin soil of the Far West upon them. 
Say not that republics are ungrateful ! 

A few words more, and this chapter is done. You 
have doubtless heard about the " Connecticut Blue 
Lights," and of course conceive the term to imply 
eome ignominious stain upon the reputation of this, 

VOL. I. 21 



482 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

the "land of steady habits." You will expect me, 
therefore, to tell you the story of its origin. 

The preceding pages have shown you that Deca- 
tur, commanding the American frigate United States, 
after a brief and glorious career upon the ocean, sub 
sequent to the declaration of war, had been driven 
into the Thames with his prize, the Macedonian, and 
the sloop-of-war Hornet. Here they were all cooped 
up, like strong men bound hand and foot. You 
can readily imagine the effect of such a situation 
upon a person like Decatur. He was as all the 
world knows of an ardent and impetuous tempera 
ment impulsive, impatient, irascible. No man was 
ever less qualified to endure the protracted and in 
glorious idleness of his present position. He was 
high-hearted, patriotic, proud of the navy : he was 
ambitious, and panted for glory. His bleeding coun 
try needed his services : his fellow-officers of the 
navy were lighting the face of the ocean in both hem 
ispheres with their brilliant exploits. He was im 
prisoned, and with him three noble ships. How then 
must he have panted to be free ! 

I have told you that I saw him on several occasions. 
He was rather below the middle size, but of a remark 
ably compact and symmetrical form. He was broad- 
shouldered, full-chested, thin in the flank : his eye 
was black, piercing, and lit with a spark of fire. His 
nose was thin, and slightly hooked: his lips were 
firm, his chin small, but smartly developed. His 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 4:83 

whole face was long and bony ; his complexion 
swarthy ; his hair jet black, and twisted in ropy curls 
down his forehead and over his ears. Altogether he 
was a remarkable looking man, and riveted the at 
tention of every one who saw him. By the side of 
the quiet, thoughtful Jones, and the dark, handsome, 
complacent Biddle his fellow-prisoners he seemed 
like a caged eagle, ready to rend in atoms the bars 
which restrained him. 

Decatur did not conceal his impatience : his ill- 
humor rendered him unjust. He was not chary in 
his speech, and in fact he made himself many ene 
mies by the freedom and vehemence with which he 
expressed his political opinions. Certainly he and 
the citizens of New London were heartily tired of 
each other. The latter were indeed most anxious to 
get rid of him and his squadron, inasmuch as their 
presence in the Thames brought upon the inhabitants 
all the dangers, anxieties, and miseries of war. 

That Decatur should desire to escape, and that he 
should have the co-operation of all the people of New 
London, heart and hand, would seem to be matters 
of course. At last he resolved to make the attempt. 
In October he began, gently and quietly, to drop 
down the river, and by the last of November was in 
the harbor of New London. On the night of the 
12th of December all things were prepared, and the 
vessels were about to depart, in the hope of eluding 
the blockading squadron in the darkness. 



4:84 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

Now note the ominous fact : at different times, 
from eight to ten o'clock in the evening, blue lights 
were thrown up, apparently from the land, along the 
shore, and on both sides of the river. Decatur as 
sumed, at once, that these were signals, sent up by 
traitorous Americans, announcing to the enemy his 
intended departure. So positive was the conclusion, 
that he totally suspended his operations, and from 
that time made no further efforts to escape. He wrote 
a letter, giving an account of the affair, and did not 
scruple to charge the assumed treason upon the peo 
ple of. New London ! That letter unjust, untrue, 
and absurd as it was passed into the history of the 
time, and party rancor, seizing upon the slander, has 
continued to use it to the present day. Blue. Lights, 
meaning treason on the part of Connecticut federal 
ism during the war, is a standard word in the flash 
dictionary of low democracy. 

Now, let me make one or two suggestions. Be it 
remembered, that, from the beginning, Decatur was 
mainly indebted to the federalists of Connecticut for 
protection : the general government had no force suf 
ficient to keep the enemy at bay, when he sought 
shelter in the Thames. His presence there brought 
expense, anxiety, gloom, upon the State. It involved 
the people of New London in every species of vexa 
tion, disquietude, and danger. How absurd, then 
how contrary to all logic to accuse them, or any oi 
them, of attempting to prevent his departure, which, 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 4:85 

above all things, was what they desired ! Nothing 
but the obliquity of a mind diseased by disappoint 
ment, can excuse such a charge, made in the face of 
such plain and palpable contradiction. 

But what were these blue lights ? Now you must 
understand that I had left New London in July, and 
these events occurred in December. Yet while I 
was there, blue lights, and indeed lights of various 
other colors, were often seen, apparently along the 
shore; and it was generally understood that these 
were signals thrown up from the British ships, or per 
haps from parties of the enemy cruising in boats among 
the islands, or going ashore on the main land. It was 
impossible, in most cases, to determine whether these 
came from the land or the water :* at all events, 

* This fact has recently been recalled to my mind by the venerable 
Dr. S. H. P. Lee, now in full practice at New York, at the age of eighty- 
four ! His honse in New London commanded a view of the harbor and 
the shipping. He frequently saw blue lights all along the shore, and 
confirms the fact that it could not be determined, in most cases, wheth 
er they came from the sea or the land. They were always attributed to 
the British. He conceives that the charge of treason, on the part of De- 
catur, was entirely untrue and in fact absurd. 

Dr. Lee informs me, that from their position, the British had no diffi 
culty in knowing every thing that was going on along the shore. There 
was no rigid police : the British sailors often went ashore among the fish 
ermen, as well on the islands as the main land : the officers not unfre- 
quQntly went in disguise to New York, and even into the interior. After 
the peace, a ball was given to Admiral Hothain then commander of the 
station and his officers, at New London. Dr. Lee and his two sons there 
recognized, among the British officers, two persons, who, during the war, 
were passing along the street, and at his invitation stepped up into his 
piazza and took a look at the squadron ! Of coarse every movement of 
Decatur's was known to the enemy, and as he lay in New London har 
bor, he was under the eye of their telescopes. They no doubt penetra 
ted his designs, and seeiug him about to make au effort to escape, sent 



LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

they were very common. They were always attrib 
uted to the British, and excited no particular interest 
They were regarded only as telegraphs of the enemy, 
which, in general, they and they only could read. 

Now, there is not one particle of evidence that 
these blue lights, seen by Decatur, were in any re 
spect different from the others, familiar to everybody 
living in New London. They were never traced, 
even by suspicion, to any individual. There is no 
proof that they came from the land ; and even if they 
did, they might still have come from British par 
ties ashore. Or, if they were the work of traitors 
Americans these were isolated individuals, and their 
conduct would have been held in abhorrence by the 
whole people. To charge it, then, upon the inhabit 
ants of New London to attempt thus to stain the 
character of a city, and indirectly a whole State was 
one of those acts which should have excited the in 
dignation of every honorable mind. 

I need only add, that I have never met an indi 
vidual, living in New London at the time, who did 
not consider this imputation as absurd in itself, and 



up their bine-light telegraphs to direct the various ships to he upon the 
alert. While such an interpretation is probable, to say the least, it is 
oad logic to impute treason, and at the same time the most absurd acts of 
contradiction to their own interests, to the people of New London. 

I give this testimony of Dr. Lee with the more readiness, as he is 
historically known for his courageous and beneficent professional con 
duct, in braving, alone, the horrors of the yellow fever at New London 
in 1799 when every other physician, not prostrated by the disease, had 
fled from it in terror. Surelv such evidence should be conclusive. 



HISTORICAL. ANECDOTICAI., ETC. 487 

as Having no foundation, except in the warped and 
excited imagination of Decatur. I believe every 
member of the Hartford company and the}- had 
good opportunity to judge of the matter regarded 
it in this light. It was a wrong act on his part, and 
those who desire to cherish his fame which after 
all is one of the glories of our countr}- should ad 
mit that it was an error, and do what they may to re 
pair it. Those who seek to make the scandal live, 
only perpetuate the memory of the injustice which 
originated it.* 

* Stephen Decatur was born on the eastern shore of Maryland, Jan. 
5, 1779. In 1798, he entered the navy as midshipman : twice he pro 
ceeded to the Mediterranean, and in February, 1804, he recaptured and 
burnt the American frig-ate Philadelphia, in the harbor of Tripoli, then 
in the hands of the enemy. This exploit has always been regarded as 
one of the most successful acts of skill and daring on record. In an 
attack on Tripoli, the following August, he captured two of the enemy's 
-. performing feats of personal courage and strength, the story of 
which reminds us of the fabled achievements of knight-errantry. His 
praise was on the tongue of all his countrymen. He superseded Com 
modore Barren, in the command of the Chesapeake, after the shameful 
attack of the Leopard upon that vessel ; he then became commander of 
the frigate United States, and in October. 1812, captured the Macedonian, 
as elsewhere stated. His squadron remained at New London till the 
close of the war. but he was appointed to the command of the Presi 
dent. On attempting to get to sea, in January, 1815, he was captured 
bv two British vessels, and carried into Bermuda. In February, the 
war being over, he returned to the United States. Being dispatched 
with a squadron to the Mediterranean, he soon chastised the AJgerines, 
and compelled them (June, 1815) to sign a treaty, abandoning their pi 
racies, and liberating those of our countrymen whom they held in cap 
tivity. He was made one of the Navy Commissioners in November, and 
took up his residence at Washington. In 181 9, he had a long correspond 
ence with Commodore Barren, which issued in a challenge by the latter. 
The meeting took place at Bladensburgh, March 22, 1820. At the first 
fire Decatur was wounded, and being carried to his house, died that 
night in the presence of his distracted wife. Deep emotions of admira- 



4:88 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 



LETTER XXX. 

Continuation of the War The Greeks subdued Battles of Chvppewa and 
Bridgewater Capture of Washington Bladensburg Races Humili 
ation of the President Defence of Baltimore The Star-spangled Ban- 
nei Ravages of the Co<.tstbythe British Fleet Downfall of Napoleon 
Scarcity of Money Rag Money Bankruptcy of the National Treas 
ury The Specie Bank-note, orMr. Sharp and Mr. Sharper Scarcity and 
exorbitant Prices of British Goods Depression, of all Kinds of Business 
My Pocket-book Factory Naval and Land Battle at Plattsburg 
Universal Gloom State of New England Anxiety of the Administra 
tion Their Instructions to the Pence Commissioners Battle of New Or 
leans Peace Illuminations and Rejoicings. 

MY DEAK C****** 

I must lay aside, for the present, my own per 
sonal history, that I may complete this hasty sketch 
of the war. I now approach the last year that of 
1814 which happily closed the inglorious struggle. 

Merely noticing important events, I remark that 
the Creek war, conducted on our part by General 
Jackson, and ending in a complete humiliation of the 
savages, early in this year however it abounded in 
striking incidents made little immediate impression 
upon us at the North, partly because the theater ot 
operations was remote, and partly because it was over- 

tion for his character, and horror at the folly of the last act of 1m life, 
pervaded the whole community. 

Commodore Jacob Jones was born in Delaware, 1770. After a bril 
liant professional career, he died at Philadelphia, August, 1850. 

Commodore James Biddle was born at Philadelphia, 1783. He dis 
tinguished himself as a commander, and also in some diplomatic services 
in Turkey and China. He died in 1848. 



HISTORICAL, ANF.CDOTICAL, ETC. 489 

shadowed by the more important struggle with Great 
Britain. The battles of Chippewa and Bridgewater, 
in July, displaying gallant deeds on the part of our 
troops officers as well as men everywhere excited 
lively demonstrations of sympathy. I think the suc 
cess of our arms was always cheered, even by the fed 
eralists the feeling of national pride, and the real hos 
tility to Great Britain, triumphing over party feeling. 
When the news came that August 24th the city 
of Washington had been invaded, captured, desola 
ted the President and his cabinet having actually 
fled like a flock of sheep there was a deep, burning 
sense of indignation and shame : indignation, at the 
want of forethou'ght, courage, and conduct on the 
part of the national executive ; and shame, at the 
humiliating spectacle we presented to the world we 
who had begun the war in boasting, now seeing our 
officials disgraced by pusillanimity, and our capital 
desecrated by the presence and occupation of an en 
emy ! I shall let this humiliating page in our his 
tory pass, with the simple remark, that the feeble and 
cowardly President seems on that occasion to have 
drunk deep of the bitter cup of humiliation, in rec 
ompense for having bartered the peace of the coun 
try for the poor bauble of a second term of office. 
The future has, doubtless, some instructive light to 
shed upon this passage of our national history.* 

* Whoever wishes to see a detail of the facts in this case will find 
them in Hildreth's United States, second series, page i>o7. There waa 

21* 



4:90 LKTTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

A few weeks after the capture of "Washington, 
the British troops, led by General Ross, landed at 
North Point, fourteen miles from Baltimore, and im 
mediately commenced their march toward the city. 
They were met by the American militia, and in a 
skirmish, the British general was killed. The enemy 
advanced the next morning as far as the defenses of 
that place, hastily thrown up by the Americans ; here 
they made several threatening demonstrations, but 
such was the firm and formidable front of the Amer 
icans, that the next morning they silently withdrew, 
and speedily embarked on board their shipping. 
While the British were marching on Baltimore, the 
fleet advanced up the Patapsco, and bombarded Fort 
McHenry nearly a whole day and night. The gal- 

41 . 

lant and effectual defense of that fortress, gave rise 
to the beautiful national song of the " Star-spangled 
Banner."* 



a feeble attempt at defense, at Bladensburg, five miles from Washing 
ton ; bat the United States troops as well as oar militia fled npon the 
first fire of the enemy. The President and bis secretaries dispersed in 
like manner. This scampering was satirized under the name of the 
" Bladensborg .Races." Madison and his wife found refuge in a Mary 
land farm-house, where they spent two days and three nights of morti 
fication, alarm, and insult from the irritated inhabitants. After a short 
time the enemy departed : another party of them, however, had made 
their way to Alexandria, where they compelled the inhabitants to sacri 
fice all their merchandise and all their shipping to save the city. Mad 
ison returned to Washington, and in order to hide his disgrace, laid all 
the blame to Armstrong, the Secretary of War. The latter retaliated, 
asserting that the President yielded to the " humor of a village mob, 
stimulated by faction and led by folly." 

* The author of this admired national lyric was Francis Scott Key, 
of Maryland, born August 1, 1779. He became a lawyer, and was Dis- 



HISTORICAL. ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 491 

As summer advanced, the clouds seemed to thick 
en over our country on every side. The coasts of 
New York and New England were kept in a con 
stant state of anxiety and alarm, by British squadrons 
sweeping our shipping from the sea, and occasionally 
making descents upon the land. The treasury of the 
United States was exhausted,* and the government 

trict Attorney of the city of Washington, where he died, January, 1843. 
lie wrote several songs, though not for publication, as he seems not to 
have duly appreciated them. To feel the full force of the Star-gpangled 
Banner, it is necessary to know its origin. A gentleman of Baltimore 
had gone to the British fleet with a flag of truce, in order to get a friend 
of his released, who had been captured at Marlborongh. He was not 
permitted to return, as he might give information of the intended at 
tack upon Baltimore. While thus on board a British vessel, he wit 
nessed the attack upon Fort McHenry during the whole day. When 
night set in, the flag, which still floated, was hidden from his view. 
The bombardment was kept np, and his heart was agitated with the 
most anxious fears. As the morning roee, he had the unbounded sat 
isfaction of seeing the banner of his country still flying aloft, in evi 
dence of successful defence. The whole story is admirably told in the 
song. 

* The state of the treasury, as presented to Congress by Campbell, the 
Secretary, in Sept. 1814, was deplorable. The last attempt to borrow six 
millions had only produced offers for half that amount, and these at the 
rate of eighty per cent. The credit of the government was indeed al 
most gone : specie had disappeared ; the banks had generally suspend 
ed specie payments ; the currency consisted of bank notes, at a large 
depreciation. The treasury was in fact empty, and large debts and ex 
penses were -accumulating and soon to be met. Every kind of scheme 
was suggested for supplying the exhausted and discredited treasury 
new loans, increased taxes, various kinds of government stocks, and 
finally a national bank. Dallas, Secretary of the Treasury, proposed a 
non-specie paying bank, and Calhoun a specie-paying bank. Neither ot 
these two plans succeeded. The Bank of the United States, which had so 
remarkable a career, and was finally extinguished by Gen. Jackson, was 
chartered April 10th, 1816, the plan having been framed by Secretary 
Dallas. It was in fact rather a democratic institution ; the federalists at 
that time seeming to foresee the evils which followed, strove earnestly 
to rcdnce the capital of thirty-five millions to twenty millions, but with 
out avail. 



492 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

seemed on the point of bankruptcy. And more than 
all Napoleon had fallen, and on the 4th of April 
had departed for his exile at Elba ; the allies had tri 
umphed Great Britain, the mistress of the sea, the 
leading power of the world, was now free to turn 
her whole power against us in America. She was 
exasperated by the feeling that we had declared war 
against her, with the design of aiding her great ene 
my at the very time she was struggling for self-pres 
ervation against nearly all Europe, which he had 
combined against her. Already the veterans who 
had triumphed under Wellington, were collecting in 
Canada, and the ships, long occupied in the Euro 
pean war, were crowding hither, like vultures, eager 
for their prey. Dismay spread along the whole mari 
time frontier, where the inhabitants, no longer placing 
any reliance upon the general government, which 
seemed totally paralyzed, were all up in arms, mus 
tering and drilling with one hundred and twenty 
thousand militia in the field. Portland, Boston, Prov 
idence, New Haven, New York, Baltimore, Eich- 
mond, Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah, were busy in 
throwing up fortifications.* 

I remember perfectly well, the universal state of 
anxiety and depression which prevailed in New Eng 
land at this time. The acts of government, the move 
ments of fleets and armies, furnish no idea of the con- 

* Hildreth, second series, vol. iii. p. 524. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 493 

ditiou of society in its daily life. Let me give you a 
few items as indications of the embarrassments, vex 
ations, and privations which the war had brought 
unto every man's house and home. Such a thing as 
silver or gold money was almost unknown. The chief 
circulation consisted of bills of suspended banks, or 
what were called "facilities;" that is, bank-notes, au 
thorized by the legislature of Connecticut, redeemable 
in three years after the war. These were at fifteen to 
twenty-five per cent, discount compared with specie. 
Banks issued notes of fifty, twenty-five, and twelve-and- 
a-half cents. Barbers put out bills, payable in sha 
ving, and various institutions adopted a similar course. 
This whole mass acquired the title of "rag money," 
" shin-plasters," &c. : a large portion of it was noto 
riously worthless, either as being counterfeit, or issued 
by irresponsible parties, yet it generally passed with 
out scrutiny. I recollect a person at a turnpike-gate 
offered a five-dollar bank-note, and received in change 
a large, greasy wad of bills, of various names, hues, 
and designs. He glanced at it, and said to the keep 
er " Why, half of this is counterfeit !" 

" I know it," was the reply ; " but it passes just as 
well as any other." 

A specie bank-bill* was almost an object of worship. 
An anecdote will illustrate this. In our city of H 



* The New England banks continued to pay specie, but their notes were 
rare. The bills of suspended banks of the Middle States and "facili 
ties," constituted the chief money in circulation. 



LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

there were a shrewd man and a greedy man, who had 
some dealings with each other about these days, when 
the following scene occurred : 

Shrewd Man. Do you recollect giving me a ten- 
dollar bill in change yesterday, Mr. C . . . . ? 

Greedy Man. No, I don't : why do you ask ? 

S. M. Well, I found a specie bill of ten dollars in 
my purse, and I thought, perhaps, I might have re 
ceived it of you. You remember I was only entitled 
to a facility, and not to a specie bill ? 

Gr. M. Well, I dare say you had it of me : let me 
see it. 

& M. There it is ! 

G. M. Oh yes ; I recollect it perfectly. I'll take 
it, and give YUU a facility. There ! 

S. M. Are you sure, Mr. C . . . ., that you gave me 
that specie bill ? 

O. M. Certainly, certainly : I recollect it distinctly. 

S. M. Well, I'm glad you are sure, for they tell me 
the specie bill is counterfeit I 

At this period, all kinds of British merchandise had 
become very scarce, and many had entirely vanished 
from the market. There was a small supply of certain 
articles, from time to time, furnished by the vessels 
captured by our ships and privateers, and some con 
venient and necessary goods were smuggled in from 
Canada. There was, in fact, a large amount of 
money and this was all specie sent to the British 
Provinces for pins, needles, jewelry, laces, muslins, 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 495 

cambrics, chintzes, silks, sewing-silk, buttons, &c., 
&c. These merchandises were so costly that a man 
would frequently carry the value of a thousand dol 
lars in a pair of saddlebags, sometimes on his shoul 
ders, and sometimes on horseback. The life of the 
smuggler along the line, at this period, was one of 
langer and adventure. In some instances, persons 
laid the foundations of future fortune in this illicit 
traffic. I recollect very well the prices at which 
we sold some of these articles : calico, now worth 
twelve and a half cents, readily brought seventy-five 
cents the yard ; cotton-cambric, now twenty cents, 
then a dollar ; linen handkerchiefs, now fifty cents, 
then two dollars ; fine broadcloth, now five dollars, 
then twelve, or even fifteen dollars. The average 
prices of British goods, at retail, were about four times 
what they are now. 

In point of fact, however, our dry -goods trade was 
almost destroyed. Domestic products were enor 
mously dear flour at one time eighteen dollars a bar 
rel at Boston ! I had personal experience of the 
universal depression. In the summer of 1814, I was 
out of my time, and cast about for some employment. 
I went to New York for this object, but found not the 
slightest encouragement. After some reflection, I 
established a manufactory of pocket-books, in connec 
tion with one of my friends, J. S. S . . . ., who furnished 
the capital. The greatest difficulty was to find the 
materials. I made expeditions to Boston, Charles- 



496 LKTTER8 BIOGRAPHICAL, 

ton, Providence, &c., and was not able to obtain over 
fifty pieces of morocco fit for the purpose. In De 
cember I went to New York, and was more success 
ful. I had made a considerable purchase, and dis 
patched my goods by the wagoner, for you will re 
member that Long Island Sound was in the occupa 
tion of the enemy.* Pretty well content with my 
success, I had gone in the evening to a concert at the 
City Hotel. While listening to the music, there was 
a murmur in the streets. Soon the door of the 
concert-room was thrown open, and in rushed a man 
all breathless with excitement. He mounted on a 
table, and swinging a white handkerchief aloft, cried 
out 

"Peace! Peace! Peace!" 

The music ceased : the hall was speedily vacated. 
I rushed into the street, and oh, what a scene ! But, 
I beg your pardon, I have not yet done with the war ! 

Amidst general gloom and despondency, a broad 
ray of light came suddenly from the north the gen 
eral scene of disaster and disgrace. In the spring of 
this year, General Wilkinson was superseded by Gen 
eral Izard, but while the latter, with the flower ol 
the American army, was drawn off toward Sackett's 
Harbor, the British general, Provost, advanced across 
the country toward Plattsburg, situated on the west 
ern side of Lake Champlain. Hitherto the enemy's 

* Freight from New York to Hartford, now fifty cents a hundred, 
woe then four dollars a hundred. 

7 



HISTOUICAI., ANECDOTICAI., ETC. 497 

force in this quarter hud been small, but now, replen 
ished by the veterans who had fought in the Penin 
sula under "Wellington, and who had seemed invin 
cible, he mustered twelve thousand men. Macomb, 
the American commander, left with only three thou 
sand regular troops, was soon reinforced by three 
thousand. militia from Vermont and New York. He 
was strongly intrenched behind the Saranac which 
flows through Plattsburg to the lake and here the 
enemy assailed him. The British fleet, under Com 
modore Downie, came gallantly on to their assistance : 
Macdonough,* commander of the American squad 
ron, now closed with them, and then carne such a fight 
as is seldom seen. It was a deadly action of more 
than two hours ship to ship, broadside to broad 
side. At last the enemy was silenced victory was 
on our side. Nearly the whole British fleet was cap 
tured. This was decisive of the conflict in this quar 
ter. Simultaneously with the naval attack, the land 
forces of the enemy had advanced against the Amer 
icans under Macomb. But the defeat of the naval 



* Thomas Macdonough was a native of Delaware, ivnd was born in 1784. 
When the battle of Lake Champlaiu was fought, he was but twenty- 
eight years of age. In commemoration of his victory, the citizens of 
Hartford presented him with a splendid sword. I recollect the occasion, 
and the appearance of the gallant officer. He was nearly six feet high, 
very broad-shouldered, with a small head, but finely set, so as to give 
a look of mingled dignity and elegance to his form. His hair was 
light, almost flaxen, his eye gray, and his countenance mild, but with 
an expression of firmness. In his personal character, he was marked 
with gentleness and dignity. His private life was most blameless. Ho 
died in 1825. 



498 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

force disheartened them, a panic ensued, and under 
cover of a storm, they hastily retreated, leaving be 
hind them their sick and wounded, and a part of 
their baggage and stores. Their whole loss was esti 
mated at no less than two thousand five hundred 
men ! This double victory Sept. 11, 1814 was in 
deed some compensation for the disgrace inflicted 
upon us a few weeks before at Washington. 

The clouds of despondency, however, still lowered 
over our country, in its length and breadth. It is now 
known that the Administration was deeply alarmed 
at the perilous condition into which it had brought 
the country. The humbled and dismayed President, 
in his message to Congress in September,* evidently 
thinking no more of conquest, was solely occupied 
with the means of self-preservation. But however 
painful the condition of other parts of the United 
States, New England, beyond all question, was ex 
posed to peculiar and trying difficulties. Her prep 
aration for the war had been a series of destructive 
acts on the part of the government, which had spread 
general poverty throughout her entire territories. 
Commerce, which was then her life, had nearly per 
ished under embargoes and non -intercourse acts, to 

* " It is not to be disguised," said he, " that the pituatiou of our 
country calls for its greatest efforts. Our enemy is powerful in men 
and money, on the land and on the water. Availing himself of fortu 
itous advantages (the triumph over Napoleon), ho is aiming, with his 
undivided force, u deadly blow at our growing prosperity, perhaps at 
our national existence." This is from a President who had declared 
war, a short time before, with tho expectation of qonquering Canada ! 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 499 

which had now been added three years of war.* And 
in this condition she had been left by the general 
government without defense, having a coast of seven 
hundred miles exposed to the enemy. That ene 
my, in the full triumph of his arms over Napoleon, 
was gathering his forces along the northern frontier, 
and spreading his navies over our waters, and in 
the very sight of our seaports. Already portions of 
our territory were in his possession, and our towns 
and villages were not only exposed, but some of them 
had been actually subjected, to ravage and plunder. 

There was evidently no hope but in the people 
themselves. The general government had abandoned 
them : it is historical, and beyond dispute, that while 
the policy of the Administration allowed and encour- 

* It is startling to look back at the financial records of the country at 
this time : the destructive effects of the embargo are abundantly at 
tested by documentary evidence. The exports of the United States in 
1807 that is, before the embargo were $108,343,558; in 1808, under 
the embargo, they were $8,417,000 a diminution of a hundred millions 
in a single year ! The whole loss to the United States in the destruc 
tion of commerce, alone during the seven years of embargo, non- 
intercourse, non-importation, and war all forming one system, under 
Jefferson and Madison democracy, would show a fearful sum amount 
ing to hundreds of millions. To this is to be added the war expenses, 
the depreciation of property, the wide-spread devastation of productive 
enterprise, &c., &c. Let it be understood that New England, from 
her position, took more than her relative share of this burden ; let it 
also be understood that she believed all these measures to have had 
a sinister origin ; let it, furthermore, be held in view, that events, thus 
far, had fulfilled her predictions as to the destructive tendency of this 
whole policy ; and then we may be prepared to ask whether she had 
not a right to call together her Wise Men, as had been her custom from 
the foundation of the first settlements, to take into consideration the 
state of public affairs, and recommend the means of averting the evils 
which impended over her? 



500 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

aged the democratic governors of several States to 
call out the local militia for defense, permitting thorn 
to have their own officers and paying the expenses 
thus incurred, a totally different system was adopted 
in respect to the federal States of New England. Here 
the general government insisted upon the exclusive 
control of military movements, and flatly refused pay 
ing the militia, because they were not placed under 
the command of United States officers. What was 
then to be done ? This was the anxious question in 
city, village, and hamlet, from one end of the country 
to the other. The people the great body of the peo 
ple were agitated with a deep sense of injury, of' 
suffering, of anxiety. In this state of things, a pro 
ject was suggested, in the good old Puritan county 
of Hampshire, in Massachusetts, which resulted in the 
Hartford Convention. It had been the custom, from 
time immemorial in days of doubt and danger for 
the inhabitants of the Pilgrim land to call together 
their wise men, to seek, by counsel and co-operation, 
the path of duty and deliverance. The history of 
New England tells us that, on almost every page. 
Had they not a right to do so now ? Was it not 
natural for them to take this course to follow the 
example of their fathers ? Is it fair, is it j ust, is it 
reasonable, to seek any other motive than this, which 
lies open and plain upon the face of things, with noth 
ing to contradict it ? 

T have a few more words to say on that subject, 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, KTC. 501 

but I lay them aside for the present, that I may com 
plete my chronological memoranda of the war. This 
done, I will give you my recollections of that famous 
or infamous assembly. 

It was now evident to the whole country that we 
had changed positions with the enemy. At the 
outset, the war was aggressive on our part : we 
had sought to invade and conquer a portion of his 
territory : in this we had failed, and now released 
from his embarrassments, he was threatening us on 
all sides, thus calling upon us for defense. It ap 
pears that the Administration now felt the absolute 
necessity of bringing the war to a close. Great 
Britain had made an offer to treat for peace, and our 
government accepted it, appointing J. Q. Adams, 
Henry Clay, Jonathan Russell, Albert Gallatin, and 
J. A. Bayard, as Commissioners for that object. The 
instructions at first given, required them to insist upon 
a withdrawal of the pretensions of Great Britain to the 
right of search and impressment the only substantial 
object of the war. After the news of the prostration 
of Napoleon, other instructions were given, direct 
ing that even this should not be insisted upon. The 
agents of the two governments met at Ghent, in Bel 
gium, in August. As we had withdrawn every ma 
terial obstruction, a treaty of peace was finally agreed 
upon and signed, at Ghent, Dec. 24, 1814. 

The news of this event did not reach the United 
States until the llth of February, 1815 a space of 



502 LK'ITERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

forty-nine days for then steam navigation had not 
brought the Old and New World within ten days' 
sail. While the tidings of peace were thus lagging 
across the Atlantic, the war still lowered over our 
country. It was soon apparent that the enemy med 
itated a blow at some portion of the Southern States. 
At length, after various movements, and some severe 
encounters with our forces under General Jackson, 
the British general, Packenham, advanced against 
the American intrenchments, four miles below New 
Orleans, with a force of twelve thousand men. Their 
design evidently was to capture New Orleans. Be 
hind their breastworks of bales of cotton, six thou 
sand Americans, mostly militia, awaited the attack. 
It came, but our well-aimed cannon and deadly 
rifles mowed down the enemy like a scythe. The 
plain was speedily covered with the dead and the 
dying. General Packenham was killed, and his 
successor, Gibbs, was mortally wounded. The Brit 
ish troops most of them veterans, and conquerors 
in many a bloody field were panic-stricken, and 
fled. The loss on their side was seven hundred kill 
ed and one thousand wounded : the loss on ours was 
seven killed and six wounded ! The Saxon had met 
the Saxon : the American rifle had triumphed ovei 
the British bayonet. It was on our part a glorious 
victory ; but let it be remembered, that it was in 
defense of our territories our homes and firesides. 
The moral of the war is well told in its opening and 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 503 

closing scenes : in attempting conquest, our flag was 
humbled at Detroit ; in self-defense, it became im 
mortal at New Orleans ! 

This great victory on the part of General Jackson 
which afterward carried him into the presidential 
chair took place on the 8th of January, 1815 
fifteen days after the signing of the treaty of peace. 
The rumor of this triumph had reached Washington, 
and began to raise the drooping spirits of the coun 
try; but a still more cheering event was at hand. 
As I have already stated, the news of the treaty of 
peace arrived in New York on the llth of February, 
1815. It was about eight o'clock on Saturday even 
ing, that the tidings circulated through the city. I 
have told you that I was there. In half an hour 
after the news reached the wharf, Broadway was one 
living sea of shouting, rejoicing people. " Peace ! 
peace ! peace !" was the deep, harmonious, universal 
anthem. The whole spectacle was enlivened by a sud 
den inspiration. Somebody came with a torch : the 
bright idea passed into a thousand brains. In a few 
minutes, thousands and tens of thousands of people 
were marching about with candles, lamps, torches 
making the jubilant street appear like a gay and 
gorgeous procession. The whole night Broadway 
sang its song of peace. "We were all democrats, 
all federalists ! Old enemies rushed into each other's 
arms : every house was in a revel : every heart seemed 
melted by a joy which banished all evil thought 



504: LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

and feeling. Nobody asked, that happy night, what 
were the terms of the treaty : we had got peace that 
was enough ! I moved about for hours in the ebbing 
and flowing tide of people, not being aware that I 
had opened my lips. The next morning I found that 
I was hoarse from having joined in the exulting cry 
of peace, peace! 

The next day, Sunday, all the churches sent up 
hymns of thanksgiving for the joyous tidings. I set 
out in the stage-coach on Monday morning for Con 
necticut. All along the road, the people saluted us 
with swinging of hats and cries of rejoicing. At 
one place, in rather a lonesome part of the road, a 
schoolmaster came out with the whole school at his 
heels to ask us if the news was true. We told him 
it was : whereupon he tied his bandanna pocket- 
handkerchief to a broom, swung it aloft, and the 
whole school hosannaed " Peace ! peace !" At all 
our stopping-places, the people were gathered to re 
joice in the good tidings. At one little tavern, I look 
ed into a room, by chance, the door being open, and 
there I saw the good wife, with a chubby boy in her 
lap both in a perfect gale of merriment the child 
crying out, " Peath ! peath !" Oh, ye makers of war, 
reflect upon this heartfelt verdict of the people in 
behalf of peace I 

We arrived at New Haven in the evening, and found 
it illuminated : the next day I reached Hartford, and 
there was a grand illumination there. The news 




"PEACE!" "PEACE!" Vol. 1, p. 504. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. ^(>5 

spread over the country, carrying with it a wave of 
shouts and rejoicings. Boston became clamorous 
with pealing bells ; the schools had a jubilee ; the 
blockaded shipping, rotting at the dilapidated wharves, 
got out their dusty buntings, and these ragged and 
forlorn now flapped merrily in the breeze. At night 
the city flamed far and wide from Beacon-street 
down the bay, telling the glorious tale even unto 
Cape Cod. So spread the news over the country, 
everywhere carrying joy to every heart with, per 
haps, a single exception. At Washington, the authors 
of the war peeped into the dispatches, and found that 
the treaty had no stipulations against Orders in 
Council, Paper Blockades, or Impressments! All 
that could be maintained was, that we had made 
war, charging the enemy with very gross enormities, 
and we had made peace, saying not one word about 
them ! Madison and his party had in fact swal 
lowed the declaration of war whole, and it naturally 
caused some uneasy qualms in the regions of diges 
tion. " Let us, however," said they, " put a good 
face upon it : we can hide our shame for the mo 
ment in the smoke of Jackson's victory ; as to the 
rest, why we can brag the country into a belief that 
it has been a glorious war !" Madison set the exam 
ple in a boasting message, and his party organs took 
up the tune, and have played it bravely till the pres 
ent day. 

But what saith history not partisan history, not 

VOL. 1.-22 



506 LETTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

history addressed to Buncombe, not history written 
in subservient demagogism to national vanity but 
history, speaking the truth and fearing not ? What 
saith the record ?* Assuredly this, that the war had 
its origin in partisan interests, and was carried on in 
a similar spirit ; that it was the war of the Adminis 
tration, and not of the nation, and so far was disastrous 
and disgraceful. It was begun without preparation, it 
was carried on in weakness ; it was characterized by 
failure, it was terminated by a treaty which left us 
where we began save only that a hundred millions 
of dollars and thirty thousand lives had been expend- 



* I commend to the reader the following observations from a calm 
and sober writer : 

" An inquiry here naturally suggests itself as, after the revocation 
of the British Orders in Council, Impressment was the only grievance 
to be redressed by war ; and as that question was subsequently waived 
by our government in the negotiation, what was gained by the war ? It 
has been considered as no small point gained, that ample evidence hns 
been given to Great Britain of our capacity successfully to resist her 
power, especially upon the ocean, where she had long claimed a vast 
superiority ; and that a guarantee had thus been furnished against fu 
ture aggression. It is questionable, however, if the result could have 
been known, or if the unbiased counsels of our older statesmen had pre 
vailed, whether war would have been declared. Jefferson, Madison, Gal- 
latin, Macon, and others, ^cere of a pacific disposition. The leading men 
of the administration were known to have given a reluctant sanction to 
the war project ; but they found themselves under a kind of necessity to 
yield to the impulsive young politicians Calhoun, Clay, and a number 
of others who, it wan suspected, were striving t-o turn the popular preju 
dices against Great Britain to their own political advantage. \V hether 
the nation has ever obtained an equivalent for the thirty thousand lives, 
and the hundred millions of money expended ; for the loss of prop 
erty and of several years of prosperous commerce ; for the depravation of 
the public morals, and the train of other evils inseparable from a state 
of war, is a question which at least admits of a reasonable doubt." 
Young's American Statesman, 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 507 

ed iii the inglorious struggle. All the lights of this 
period belong to the people or to the opposition all 
the shadows to the war-makers. Hull's surrender, 
Dearborn's blunders, Wilkinson's abortions, were the 
work of the Administration, attempting the conquest 
of Canada : the desecration of Washington is wholly 
chargeable to the personal weakness and pusillanim 
ity of the President and his cabinet. The glory of 
the navy belongs to the federalists, who were its fa 
thers the democrats being its open and avowed 
enemies and opposers : the victories of Plattsburg, 
Baltimore, and New Orleans, belong not to the spirit 
of Madison, who would conquer Canada, but to that 
spirit which is indigenous to the country, to the people 
democrats and federalists everywhere who will 
fight and conquer in defense of our soil, even though 
the war be brought upon us by a feeble and unpatri 
otic government. 

Let us be frank, and confess the truth : the war, in 
the aspects in which history thus presents it, was dis 
graceful to the authors of it : it was, in many respects, 
disastrous to the country ; and yet it has left us some 
wholesome lessons. It has shown the danger and 
folly of plunging a great country into a national con 
flict, for narrow and selfish purposes, because under 
such circumstances the people will be divided, and 
it will be a partisan and not a patriotic war ; it has 
put on record another instance in which war has been 
declared in boasting, und ended precisely where it be- 



508 LETTKRS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

gan, after years of violence, sorrow, and bloodshed ; 
it has shown our weakness in a war of conquest, and 
our strength in a war of defense ; it has shown us 
that the sea is the true theater upon which we should 
ever be prepared to attack and repel every European 
enemy. It has shown us that without preparation, 
and with divided counsels, we are weak, but that with 
union of heart and proper precautions, we need not 
fear any combination the world can bring against 
us. It has shown, also in connection with subse 
quent events the superiority of peace to war, even 
in obtaining the ends of justice, for let it be remem 
bered, that Daniel "Webster extorted from Great Brit 
ain by the force of argument, that which the sword 
could not achieve. His letter to Lord Ashburton* 
silenced, and doubtless forever, the British preten 
sions to the " right of search" thus demonstrating 
the superiority of an old federal quill, to all the gun 
powder that mere Madison democracy could com 
mand ! The pen is master of the sword. 

And now, my dear C . . . ., I ask you in all serious- 



* This remarkable letter dated Washington, August 8, 1842 will 
be found in Mr. Webster's Works, vol. vi. p. 818. Mr. Everett says, 
in his memoir of Mr. Webster, "The reply of Lord Ashburton must 
be considered as acquiescence on the part of his government ;" that is, 
acquiescence in the American doctrine of maritime rights that the flag 
of a country renders the decks of its ships inviolable against visit or 
search. The London Times, Standard, &c., about this period, -expressed 
the opinion that this subject was finally put to rest by Mr. Webster's 
letter. It is understood that Lord Aberdeen said to Mr. Everett, that 
Its argument was unanswerable : it has been effectively answered, how 
ever, by quietly yielding to its doctrines. 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 509 

ness is it not time for that arrogance to cease which 
claims for democracy all the patriotism, all the sue 
cess, all the glory of the war of 1812, and charges upon 
federalism a uniform course of secret or open treason, 
with the responsibility of all the failures, disasters, 
and disgraces which attended the conflict? 

Let me observe, by the way, that I do not condemn 
the feelings of the great body of the democrats, in 
their support of the war. Believing it to be just and 
proper, their ardor, their patriotism, their perseve 
rance in the maintenance of the struggle, "were hon 
orable to them. I do full homage to their spirit, to 
their patriotism. I can overlook that partisan bigotry 
which burned in their bosoms at the time, and even 
embittered the intercourse of society. It was natural 
for them to feel indignant at the conduct of those who 
holding opposite opinions pursued an opposite 
course, in so serious a question as that of war with a 
foreign enemy. Nor was their example, in this re 
spect, very different from that of the federalists. Both 
parties were wrought into a kind of frenzy by the 
irritation of mutual opposition and mutual hostility. 

While doing this justice to the democracy, I claim 
the same candor for the federalists. They acted ac 
cording to their convictions, as I have before said, 
and this was not only their right but their duty. The 
doctrine of the war partisans, holding legal, constitu 
tional opposition to an administration which has de 
clared war, to be treason, is alike dangerous and 



510 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, 

despotic. A war may be declared merely to serve a 
party: the administration may be base, incompetent, 
treacherous ; yet, if this doctrine be true, the people 
having lost the greatest of all rights the right to 
think, speak, and act, according to their convictions 
are bound to give a blind and slavish support to 
those who, either by incompetence or corruption, are 
leading the country to ruin. 

Let me invite your attention to the principles of 
New England the federalists of New England as 
stated by Daniel Webster, in a Fourth of July ora 
tion, at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a few days 
after the declaration of war : 

" With respect to the war in which we are now involved, the 
course which our principles require us to pursue can not be 
doubtful. It is now the law of the land, and as such we are 
bound to regard it. Resistance and insurrection form no part 
of our creed. The disciples of Washington are neither tyrants 
in power, nor rebels out. If we are taxed to carry on this war, 
we shall disregard certain distinguished examples,* and shall pay. 

* This was an allusion to the Whisky Rebellion in Western Penn 
sylvania, in 1794, which Albert Gallatin one of Madison's cabinet, 
and a prominent supporter of the war had done much to stimulate. 
The inhabitants of that quarter were chiefly foreigners. The law 
which offended them was passed by Congress in 1791, and laid a tax 
on distilled spirits one of their chief products at that time. A con 
siderable army was assembled by the malcontents, and the United 
States revenue officers were resisted, whipped, tarred and feathered. 
The insurrection was finally put down by a proclamation issued by the 
President (Washington), and the marching toward the scene of action 
of a respectable body of militia, under Gov. Lee, of Maryland. 

This resistance, however, was in some degree pardonable, consider 
ing the general ignorance and character of those concerned in it, and 
considering, also, that the general government had just gone into op- 



HISTORICAL. ANECDOTIC A I., ETC. 511 

If our personal services are required, we shall yield them to the 
precise extent of our constitutional liability. At the same time 
the world may be assured that AVC know our rights and shall 
exercise them. We shall express our opinions on this as on 
every measure of government, I trust without passion, I am cer 
tain without fear. We have yet to hear that the extravagant 
progress of pernicious measures abrogates the duty of opposition, 
or that the interest of our native land is to be abandoned by us 
in the hour of the thickest danger and most necessity. By the 
exercise of our constitutional right of suffrage by the peaceful 
remedy of election we shall seek to restore wisdom to our coun 
cils, and peace to our country."* 

That was the federal doctrine, and that the federal 
practice. Now I put it to your conscience is not 

eration, and called for unaccustomed sacrifices on the part of the peo 
ple. It was otherwise in the case of South Carolina, when, in the au 
tumn of 1832, she made a general movement to resist the tariff laws of 
Congress, on the ground that they were unconstitutional. This course had 
been recommended by a convention and various public meetings, and 
the legislature of the State, meeting soon after, sanctioned these views. 
The tariff acts were declared null and void, and in order to resist their 
execution, active measures were adopted to arm the citizens. The city 
of Charleston became at once a great military depot, and the whole State 
was bristling with bayonets. Col. Hayne, who, a short time before, in 
the Senate of the United States, had arraigned the members of the Hart 
ford Convention as traitors, now became governor of the State, for the 
express purpose of directing this formidable treason. Mr. Calhoun 
resigned the vice-presidency, and accepted a seat in the Senate, for the 
purpose of there vindicating the conduct of his State. This fearful 
blow, aimed directly at the Constitution and the Union, was averted by 
what is called the Compromise of Mr. Clay which, in point of fact, con 
sisted in forcing the general government to yield to a menace of rebel 
lion. The movement was so far successful, that it cherished the seeds 
of Nullification, which had been widely sown by Jefferson and his as 
sociates in the Southern States ; and at the present day, its doctrines 
may be considered as held by a majority of the democratic party there. 
Compare all this with the conduct of New England federalism ! 

* See the New York Evening Post for July 21, 1812 where this is 
held to be sound federal doctrine. 



512 LKTTKRS HIOGKAPHICAI-, 

this more manly, more American, more in the spirit 
of true liberty, than the slavish doctrine which holds 
every man to be a traitor who does not support the 
administration good or bad, wise or unwise even 
against his honest convictions?* 

If, then, the people of New England had a right to 
follow their convictions, what was their actual conduct? 
Look closely into the history of the times peruse the 
acts of legislatures, the doings of authorized public 
assemblies and you will find a uniform, unswerving 
loyalty to the Constitution, the country, and the laws. 
The federalists of New England did not like Albert 
Gal latin and other democrats, afterward supporters of 
the war, and believers in the doctrine that opposition 
is treason rise in rebellion, and seek to overthrow the 
government. They did not like Calhoun, another 
democrat, and one of the chief authors of the war, as 
well as one of the promoters of this gag-law of con 
science array the States in arms, and cry out for a 
dissolution of the Union ! They did not as is now 
the fashion, even with certain democrats in full com 
munion with the party claim that the Union shall be 

* If we admit this doctrine, that opposition to an administration in 
time of war is treason, then Chatham, who advocated the cause of 
America in the British Parliament, during the Revolution, was a trai 
tor ; Lamartine, Cavaignac, and Victor Hugo, who opposed Louis Napo 
leon's war for the suppression of the Roman Republic, were traitors ; 
all the friends of liberty, who, from time immemorial, have opposed 
the wars of their respective governments for the perpetuation of tyran 
ny, are to be inscribed in the list of traitors. Certainly democracy errs in 
employing despotism and injustice, under the pretense of propagating 
liberty. There is no surer way to make liberty itself feared and hated 



HISTORICAL, ANECDOTICAL, ETC. 513 

torn asunder, whenever the administration of the gov 
ernment does not altogether please them. No : their 
standard of duty was higher than that resistance and 
insurrection formed no part of their creed or their 
conduct : they were taxed, and they paid ; their per 
sonal services were required, and they rendered them 
to the extent of their constitutional liability ; they 
defended the country, and even the property of the 
United States, when the general government was 
powerless to protect them ; they stood by the Con 
stitution, as a thing too sacred to be violated, even 
under the extremest oppression of what they deemed 
an unwise and unpatriotic government ! 

Who, then, has a right to accuse them of treason ? 
Not the Nullifier, nor the Disunionist, nor the Seces 
sionist all clamorous for the destruction of the 
Union, whenever, in their opinion, the government 
is not properly administered ; surely no member of a 
party, which holds in its bosom, and cherishes as in 
full fellowship, individuals who are chiefly distin 
guished for bearing these names, and for asserting 
arid propagating these doctrines ! Strange is it 
passing strange that from the beginning in peace 
or war New England Federalism should have fur 
nished a steady example of loyalty to the Constitu 
tion, and that springing from her bosom, and ex 
pressive of her spirit she should have given to this 
country the acknowledged Champion of the Consti 
tution and the Union; that at the same time, South- 
oo* 



514 LETTERS BIOGRAPHICAL, HISTORICAL, ETC. 

ern Democracy should have been the breeder of se~ 
cession and disunion ; that it should have furnished 
to the country the Arch Nullifier himself; and yet 
that this same Democracy presumes to point its finger 
at New England, and cry " Treason, treason to the 
Union!" Certainly a democrat may steal a horse, 
but a federalist may not look over a hedge ! 

Let us, my dear C , be just just in the sight 

of God and man ; let us render homage to the patri 
otism of the great body of the people of the United 
States democrats and federalists during the war of 
1812-14. We may sincerely admire that cheerful, 
gallant, devoted spirit, which sustained the struggle 
without inquiring as to its justice or its prudence ; 
at the same time, we are bound equally to respect 
that calmness and equanimity with which a people, 
deeply conscious of injury and injustice, observed 
the laws, and, within their limits, defied alike the 
aggressions of a partisan government and a foreign 
enemy. Doing this justice to the people, on both 
sides and of both parties, let history hold to a stern 
reckoning the selfishness of those men who declared 
or promoted the war, merely or mainly to subserve 
the interests of party ' 



APPENDIX. 



NOTE I. 
Town of Ridgefield. 

THIS town lies about sixty miles northeast of New York, and forty 
northwest of New Haven. There is, as I have elsewhere stated, in 
the Library of the Atheneura at Hartford, Conn., a manuscript work, 
entitled " A Statistical Account of Ridgelield, in the county of Fair 
field, drawn up by Rev. Samuel Goodrich, from minutes furnished 
by a number of his parishioners, A. D. 1800." From this account I 
give the following extracts: 

" Ridgefield was located to twenty-nine of the inhabitants of tho 
towny of Mil ford and Norwich, by the General Assembly of the State 
of Connecticut, on the 13th of May, 1708. Various patents were grant 
ed, and the soil rights of these were purchased of the Indians at differ 
ent times. The first was made of Catoonali, the sachem, and others, the 
condition being one hundred pounds. The boundaries of the town, 
fixed about the year 1733, left it of an oblong shape, about fifteen miles 
long and three to five miles wide : including the two parishes ot'Ridge- 
bnry and Ridtrefield proper. 

" There is the appearance of several Indian graves at a place called 
Norron's Ridge ; and one elevation retains its Indian name of Arproono 
high or lofty. Several ponds also retain their Indian designations, as 
Urnpewauge, Mammemusqtiah, Nisopach,&c. There is but one Indian 
man in the town. One died here tvo years ago, aged about 96. In 
1799, there were ten common schools and four hundred and thirty- three 
scholars. There are three foreigners all paupers: Jagger, an English 
man, ninety-five years old, who served under the Duke of Cumberland 
in the battle of Cullodeu, 1746, and was in Flanders, in the same regi 
ment, previous to this battle. 

" The general form of the land is in gently swelling ridges, extend 
ing from north to south. High Ridge, in the central part, called Can- 
dito by the Indians, is very elevated ; from this the mountains west of 



510 A PPENDIX -NOTES. 

the Hudson, and West Rock, near New Haven a view eighty miles i-n 
diameter are to be seen in fair weather; Long Island Sound also, 
from fifty to sixty miles, is visible. The waters flowing from this hill, 
flow some southeasterly into the Sound, and some southwesterly into 
the Hudson, by the rivers Titicus and Croton. The latter, in fact, has 
its source here. 

"The soil is generally fertile, though many parts are stony; the cli 
mate, owing to the elevation of the place, is somewhat severe, but it 
is salubrious. Formerly there were bear, deer, and wolves, but these 
have disappeared. Eacoons, various kinds of squirrels, rabbits, &c., 
are plentiful, as also quails, partridges, &c. The flocks of wild-pigeons, 
formerly very abundant, now make their migrations more to the west 
than formerly." 

Partly from this document, and partly from notes furnished me by 
Mr. A. Ressequie, of Ridgefield, I take the following memoranda : 

Ministers of the First Congregational Church in Ridgefield. 

Rev. Thomas Hawley, of 2s orthampton, the first minister, and one 
of the first settler?, installed in 1714, and died 1739. 
Rev. Jonathan Ingersoll, installed 1740, died 1778. 
Rev. Samuel Goodrich, ordained 1786, dismissed 1811, 
Rev. S. M. Phelps, " 1817, " 1829. 

Rev. C. G. Silleck, " 1831, M 1837. 

Rev. Joseph Fuller, " 1838, " 1842. 

llev. James A. Hawley, " , " . 

Rev. Clinton Clark, " , the present pastor 

Some of the Inhabitants of Ridgefield, noticed in the preceding 
pages. 

REV. JONATHAN INGERSOLL was a native of Milford, graduated at 
Yale College in 1736, and died 1778, while in the ministry at Ridge 
field. He joined the colonial troops as chaplain, on Lake Champlain, 
in 1758 ; he was much respected in the army, and exerted an ex 
cellent influence on the soldiers. He left behind him a name hon 
ored for purity, learning, eloquence, and devotion to his duty, in the 
village where the greater part of his life was spent. From an elec 
tion sermon, which I find in the Library of the Hartford Atheneum, 
it would appear that he was master of a very felicitous style of 
writing.* 



* The following letter, addressed to liis brother, noted in the history of Connecti 
cut lor accepting thit oBiov of -lamp-master under the olmoxions stamp-act of 17G4, 



APPENDIX, NOTES. 517 

Rev. Jonathan Ingersoll died Oct.. 2, 1778, in the 65th year of his 
age. Dorcas Moss, his wife, died Sept. 29, 1811, in the 86th year of 
her age. They had ten children, as follows : 

Sarah, born Oct. 28, 1741 married Lee. 

Dorcas, born Oct. 15, 1743 married Andrews. 

Jonathan, born April 16, 1747 married Miss Isaacs. 

Mary, born Dec. 20, 1748 married Hooker. 

Abigail, born May 7, 1751 married Col. D. Olmstead. 

Joseph, born Aug. 11, 1753 deaf and dumb not married. 

Hannah, born April 9, 1756 married Raymond. 

Esther, born Aug. 10, 1760 married Lieut. Olmstead. 

Moss, born June 9, 1763 deaf and dumb married Miss Smith. 

Anne, born April 5, 1765 married Gen. Joshua King, died 1838. 

GEN. JOSHUA KING was born at Braintree, Colony of Massachusetts 
Bay, 24th of November, 1758. He entered the army of the Revo 
lution, a mere boy, at the commencement of hostilities between the 
colonies and the mother country. On the formation of Sheldon's 



and furnished to me by Hon. E. I Ingersoll, of New Haven, will be read with 
interest: 

" EIDOKFIELD, June 9th, A. D. 1758. 

"DEAR BROTHER: Yours from Hartford, the 1st instant, caine safe to hund by 
Mr. Olmstead, for which I am heartily obliged to you. I remarked in particular 
your observing something of heaviness in my countenance at parting with you a*. 
New Haven upon which I would observe that this bidding farewell is a difficul , 
thing, and tends greatly to move the passions This sin being a natural infirmity, 
you will easily overlook. Blessed be God. I am neither disheartened nor elevated, 
but enjoy a good temper of mind, and can, I think, put my life in the hands of G<>d 
and go forth freely and cheerfully, in so important though dangerous an enterprise. 
I have this day received a line from Col. Wooster, by which I am informed that I 
must be at Norwalk to-morrow, in order to embark for Albany. I am ready, and 
rejoice at the news. He also informs me that you are appointed agent, and have 
accepted, at which I greatly rejoice, and hope your courage will hold out, and de 
sire that you will be made a blessing to your country and government in this im 
portant undertaking. The office is very honorable, and I hope will be profitable to 
you and the government By no means refuse, but look upon it as a favor of 
Providence. To love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves, is the 
rreat gospel command. And to be impressed in sucli an important affair, must bo 
looked upon as a favor from Heaven ; for the voice of the people (to judge ratio i 
al y) is the voice of God, when they look to him for his influence and direction. 

"Your family reed you and desire yon, and so does mine me; but private mat 
ters must submit to the public good. Sister, I hope, will quietly acquiesce from 
* view of your usefulness, though it be a piece of great self-denial. I could \vish 
you had had the, small-pox a terror to the world ; and perhaps it would be best to 
go to Doctor Munson. on Long Islan.1. and inoculate and was I not u'in$ abroad 



518 APPENDIX NOTK*. 

regiment of dragoons, he was made a cornet, and afterward a lieu 
tenant, in which capacity he continued during the war, ever sus 
taining the character of a brave officer. Being stationed on the 
lines of Connecticut and Westchester county, New York, he became 
attached to this part of the country, and after the peace of 1783, ho 
settled in Ridgetield, in the mercantile business, commencing in 
company with Lieut. Jarnes Dole of the same regiment, and after 
ward marrying the youngest daughter of the late Rev. Jonathan 
Ingersoll, April 18th, 1784. He was several years a member of the 
Assembly, and was a member of the Convention in 1818, which 
framed the State Constitution. He died August 13, 1839.* 

as I ain, I wouM go and be with you. With respect to cautions and advice you 
give, I accept them well, and would give the same to you. And so, my brother, 
go in the fear of God be true to your trust, and farewell. Whether we see each 
other in this life or not, let us labor to meet in glory. 

"I remain your affectionate brother, 

"JONATHAN INGERSOLL. 

"P. 8. We are all well. Send our compliments, particularly our love to Boreas, 
and tell her to live in the fear of God. 
" JAEBD INGERSOLL, ESQ., New Haven." 

* The following portion of a letter, written to a friend by Gen. King, dated June 
19th, 181T, in which he speaks of the capture of Andr6. will be found interesting: 

" I was the first and only officer who hp.d charge of him whilst at the head 
quarters of the second regiment light dragoons, which was then at Esq. Gilbert's, 
South Salem, Westchester county, N. T. He was brought up by an adjutant and 
four men belonging to the Connecticut militia, under command of Lieutenant- 
colonel Jameson. He was on the lines in a character under the disguised name 
of John Anderson; he looked somewhat like a reduced gentleman; his small 
clothes were nankeen, with handsome white-top boots; in part his dress was 
military, his coat purple, with gold' lace, worn somewhat threadbare ; he wore a 
sinall-brimmed, tarnished beaver on his head; he wore his hair in a queue with a 
long black band, and his clothes were somewhat dusty. In this garb I took charge 
of him to breakfast. My barber came in to dress me, after which, I requested him 
to undergo the same oj>eration, which he did. When the ribbon was taken from 
his hair, I observed a fall of powder ; this circumstance, with others that occurred, 
induced me to believe I had no ordinary person in charge. He requested permis 
sion to take to the bed while his shirt and small-clothes could be washed ; I told 
him it was needless, for a change was at his service, which he accepted. We were 
close pent up in a bedroom, with a sentinel at the door and window ; there was a 
spacious yard before the door, which he desired he might be permitted to walk in 
with rue. I accordingly disposed of my guard in such manner as to prevent an 
escape, and while walking together he observed that he must make a confidant of 
Homebody, and he knew not a more proper person than myself, as I had offered to 
befriend a stranger in distress. After settling the point between ourselves, he told 
me who he was, and gave me a short account of himself from the time he ws 
taken at St. Johns, in 1775, to that time. He requested pen and ink, and wrote 
immediately to Gen. Washington, declaring who he wa. About midnight th 



APVKNDIX NOTES. 519 

General King's children were as follows : 

Catherine, married to William Hawley, of Ridgefield. 

Frances, married to Rev. Wm. Neill, D. D., of Philadelphia; died 
October, 1832. 

Sophia, married to William McHarg, of Albany; died March, 1838. 

John Francis, not married ; died 1838. Once State Senator. 

Charles Clark, not married; died Jan, 1854. 

Rufus H., married to Miss Laverty, of New York, and settled at 
Albany. 

Joshua Ingersoll, not married. Once State Senator ; resides 
in the family mansion at Ridgefield. 

Anne Maria, married to Elisha W. Skinner, of Albany. 

Mary Ann; died November, 1828. 

Grace. 

DEACON ELISHA HAWLEY was born March 14, 1759. He was the 
son of Thomas Hawley. Jr., and grandson of the Rev. Thomas Haw- 
ley, first pastor in that place, and one of those who settled it, and 
who removed from Northampton, where the family had been located 
since their emigration from England. Elisha Hawley lost his father 
at the age of fourteen, and four years afterward was drafted for ser 
vice in the struggle with Great Britain, and was sent to New York 
fur the defense of that city. His regiment was stationed at Cor- 
laer's Hook, and the British sent up a part of their fleet to cut off 
its retreat. The colonel, however, refused to quit his post without 
orders from his superior officer. When they were received, their 
retreat was so hasty, as to oblige the men to throw away their 
muskets and knapsacks. The vigor of our young soldier, with an 
appreciative sense of their use, allowed him to retain his, which the 
colonel was glad to share with him, when at night, on the North 
River, without blankets, they were exposed to the peltings of a vio 
lent storm. At daybruak next morning, they took up their march for 
Harlem Heights, out of reach of the enemy. Here they made their 
first meal on flour cakes baked on the stones in the sun. Young 
Hawley was next engaged in cutting off the retreat of the enemy 
from Danbury, where they had been to destroy stores, &c. 

express returned, with orders from Gen. Washington to Col. Sheldon, to send 
Major Andre immediately to head-quarters. I started with him, and before I got 
to North Salem meeting-house, met another expre s, with a letter to the officer 
rommanttiltf the party who had Major Andre in charge: this letter directed a cir 
cuitous route to head-quarters, fur fear of a recapture which order was oomplifd 
with." 



520 APPENDIX NOTK8. 

In 1786, at the age of twenty-seven, lie was married to Charity 
Judson, of Stratford. They had six sons, two only of whom are living. 
Shortly after their matrimonial nlliance, he and his partner joined 
the Presbyterian church : he was afterward elected to the office of 
deacon, which ho held during life. Being a man of very temperate 
and regular life, he enjoyed uninterrupted health, which, with his 
habits of industry, contributed to give him that vigor of body and 
mind which made him so remarkable in the later years of his life. 
In the summer prior to his death, at the age of ninety-one, he would 
work nearly all day with his men in the field. It was the desire ol 
keeping himself employed that led to the exposure which caused 
his death. On a chill October day he accompanied his men to his 
woods, to direct the cutting of timber, taking with him his afternoon 
meal, and remaining until the day was far advanced. Here he 
caught cold from the inclemency of the weather, which resulted 
in his decease in the following April, 1850. 

Not only was Mr. Hawley active in promoting his own interests, 
but he showed equal zeal in assisting his neighbors, visiting the 
sick, and working for the interests of the community in which he 
lived. His faculties were unimpaired to the last : his retention of 
memory was such that he would quote passages from scripture, 
chapter and verse, and would delight his grand-children by singing 
to them the songs and hymns of his youth. On the celebration of 
the Fourth of July, 1839, in his native village, he was called upon 
to address the people, which he did, directing his conversation 
mostly to the young telling them of their responsibilities to God 
and their country, and that upon them depended its future welfare ; 
winding up with the kindly hint contained in that little verse 

"A little farm well tilled, 
A little wife well willed, 
A little house well filled," Ac. 

and closing with singing, in an audible voice, " Hail Columbia," A T C. 

One of the leading characteristics of his life was his endeavor to 
follow strictly the golden rule of " Doing unto others," <fcc. ; and in 
all his business transactions with his fellow-men, his constant exer 
cise of mind was lest he should charge his neighbor more than the 
article was actually worth. 

lu relation to his piety, I quote from the obituary sketch written 
by Rev. Mr. Clark, of Ridgefield : "Throughout his whole life he was 
untiring and assiduous in the performance of every Christian and 
duty. He was always abounding in the work of the Lord, 



APPKNDIX NOTFS. 521 

whether it consisted in visiting the sick, relieving the poor, promoting 
peace among his neighbors and brethren, contributing freely to be 
nevolent objects, or in prayers and labor for the prosperity of the 
church with which he was connected, and Zion at large. The mem 
ory of his name will long be fragrant among the people where he 
lived and died. They feel as if their best friend and counsellor had 
been taken away, and many acknowledge his influence, under Christ, 
for their hopes which they are permitted to cherish." 

Having at one time held the post of chorister in the church, he 
would ofteu in his old age, in the absence of the leader, set the 
music for the hymn. 

His widow, at the age of ninety-five, still lives (1856), and en 
joys remarkably good health. 

The children of Deacon Hawley were as follows : 

Klisha, Judson, Irad, Daniel, Stiles,* Chauncey. Irad and Jud- 
son now living have been successful merchants in New York. 



* ON THE DEATH OF A MISSIONARY. 

The Rev. Stiles Hawley was drowned in crossing the Kaska&kia river, Illinvis, 
.January 30th, 1830. 

Cold sweep the waters o'er thee ! 

Thou hast found, 

'Mid all the ardor of thy youthful zeal, 
And self-devotion to the Saviour's cause, 
An unexpected bed. The ice-swoln tides 
Of the Kaskaskia. shall no more resound 
To the wild struggles of thy failing steed, 
In tlie deep plunge that gave thy sou! to God! 

Say, in thy jimrneyings o'er the snow-clad waste 

Of yon lone prairie, on that fearful duy 

When Death strode by thy side, where roamed thy thoughts t 

Upon thine angel mission ? or the scenes 

Of distant home, with all its sheltering trees, 

And voice of tuneful waters ? Didst thou hope, 

When Heaven's pure seed should blossom in the wild 

Of the far Illinois, once more to sit 

Beside its hearth-stone, and recount thy toils, 

Mingling thy prayers with those who fondly nursed 

Thy tender infancy ? 

Now there are tears 

In that abode, whene'er thy cherished name 
Escapes the trembling lip. Oh, yo who mourn 
With heavy temples o'er the smitten son, 
Slain in hie u\ tour's service, know that pain 
Shall never vex him mure. IVrii and change, 



522 APPT-.XDTX XOTKS. 

COL. PHILIP BRADLKY was born March 26, 1738, and died January 
24, 1821. His commission as colonel was dated at Philadelphia, 
1779, signed by John Jay, then President of Congress. His commis 
sion as Marshal of the District of Connecticut was signed by Wash 
ington, in 1794. He also held the office of Judge of the County 
Court of Fairfield county. 

His children were as follows : 

Molly, Jabez, Philip, Esther, Ruth, Betsey, Sally, Jesse S. 

'SQUIRE TIMOTHY KEELER was born in 1749, and died in 1815. Ho 
was a Representative in the General Assembly, Justice of the Peace, 
and Postmaster for many years. 
His children were as follows : 

David, married to Esther Bradley. 

Esther, married to James L. Crawford. 

Walter, married to Hannah Waring. 

Mary, married to Philip Bradley. 

Sarah, married to Isaac Lewis. 

William, not married. 

Anna, married to A. Ressequie. 

JOHN BALDWIN, "Granther," born March 12th, 1728, died Novem- 
oer 9, 1809. 

DEACON NATHAN OLMSTEAD, died 30th of July, 1805, in the 89th 
year of his age. 

DEACON JOHN BENEDICT, died July 9th, 1814, in the 88th year of 
his age. 

DR PERRY, died May 21st, 1822, in the 73d year of his age. 

DR. BAKER, died March 31st, 1823, in the 70th year of his age. 

SAMUEL STEBBINS, died March 27th, 1836, in the 7ith year of his age. 



And winter's blast, and summer's sultry heat. 
And sinful snare what are they now to him, 
Bnt dim-remembered sounds ? 

If twere so sweet 

To have a son on ear h, where every ill 
Might launch a dart against his breast, and pierce 
Your own through his, is it not doubU sweet 
To have a son in Heaven ? 

L. H. SieouRNR. 



APPENDIX NOTES. 523 

NOTE II. 
Elizur Goodrich, D.D.* and his Family. 

The following is extracted from the notes to Professor Fowler's 
sermon, which has been mentioned in a former part of this work : 

"The Rev. Elizur Goodrich, D. D. the second pastor of the church in 
Durham, was a native of Stepney, since called Eocky Hill, a parish of 
Wethersfield, Conn., where he was born from a respectable line of anees- 

* When I was in England in 1824, I visited Goodrich Cnstle, a few miles west 
of Boss, in the county of Hereford. In looking at the guide-book which I pur 
chased at the place, it appeared that this edifice was of some historical celebrity, it 
having been founded by Godric, descendant of one of the landed proprietors re 
corded in King William's "Doomsday Book." The name Godric became changed 
at first to Goderic, then to Goodric, and finally to Goodrich, which it held in the 
tim of Cromwell. The owner at that period, stimulated by the spirit as well as 
aided by the purse of a Catholic priest of the vicinity, opposed the measures of the 
usurper in such manner as to draw upon him his resentment. Cromwell marched 
in person against the castle, which he attacked, and after an obstinate defense, he 
having demolished a portion of the northern wall, it surrendered. From that time 
it had ceased to be inhabited, and I saw it as Cromwell left it, save only the dilap 
idation of time. 

It would appear from the ancient history of the county of Hereford, that the 
family of Goodrich variously spelled Godric, Goodric, Goodrich, Goderich was 
formerly common in that quarter of England ; but at the time I speak of, I was 
unable to hear of a single person in that region bearing the name. As to my own 
ancestors, it is believed that they came from Suffolk, perhaps in the vicinity of 
Bury St. Edmunds. There were two brothers, William and John Goodrich, who 
arrived in New England about 1630, and settled at Watertown, in Massachusetts; 
but in 1686, they removed to Wethersfleld, Connecticut, where they continued to 
reside. From William Goodrich and his descendants, the name has been exten 
sively spread over New England, and within the last thirty years over the North 
western States. 

One of the New England family removed, probably about a century ago, to 
Virginia, where he became a wealthy planter. A descendant of his, being a tory 
at the period of the revolution, went and settled in England. His descendants are 
now living in the county of Sussex. Other descendants of the New England emi 
grant to Virginia are still living in that State. The name is sometimes spelled 
Goodridge in this country ; fifty years ago it was pronounced Gutrldge. 

My paternal grandfather was a descendant of the above-named William Good 
rich, his father being David Goodrich of Wethersfield, parish of Eocky Hill. By the 
gravestone of the latter, it appears that he died in 1702. in his ninety-first year, hav 
ing been forty-six years a deacon. 

In "Goodwin's Genealogical Notes," among other notices of the Goodrich family 
I find the following: 

Elizur Goodrich, D. D. 
Elizur Goodrich, D. D., born October 18, 1784, settled in Durham, Connecticut, 



524 APPENDIX NOTES. 

tors, on the 18th of October, old style, 1734. Tie early evinced a strong 
love of letters ; and so diligently did he pursue his cherished object, 
that at the early age of fourteen lie entered as a member of Yale College, 
in 1755, on receiving his master's degree, he was elected a tutor in this 
institution. The ministry, however, being his chosen profession, he re 
signed the tutorship the following year, and on the 4th December, 1756, 
was ordained pastor of the church and congregation in Durham. Not 
long after his settlement, he became united in marriage with Catherine 
Chauncey, grand-daughter of his predecessor in the ministry at Dur 
ham. The degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred on him by the 



married Katharine, daughter of Hon. Elihu Chauncey, February 1, 1759; she was 
born April 11, 1741. 

Kev. Elizur Goodrich, D. D., died November 21, 1797. 

Mrs. Katharine Goodrich, died April 8, 1830. 

Children. 

1. Chauncey, born October 20, 1759. United States Senator, and Lieutenant- 
governor of Connecticut Died August 18, 1815. 

2. Elizur, born March 24, 1761. 

3. Samuel, born January 12, 1763. 

4. Elihu, born September 16, 17&4. Died unmarried. 

5. Charles Augustus, born March 2, 1768. Died unmarried. 

6. Nathan, born August 5, 1770. Died young. 

7. Catharine, born December 2, 1775. Married Rev. David Smith, D. D., of 
Durham, Conn. Died in 1845. ' 

Elizur Goodrich, LL.D. 

Hon. Elizur Goodrich, settled at New Haven, married Anno Willard Allnu. only 
daughter of Daniel and Esther Allen, September 1, 1785. 
Elizur Goodrich, died at New Haven, Conn., November 1, 1849. 
Mrs. Anne Willard Goodrich, died November 17, 1318. 

Uhildreu. 

8. Elizur, born October 8, 1787. Married Eliza, daughter of Gen. Henry Cham 
pion, October 25, ISIS ; residence, Hartford. 

9. Chaimcey Allen, born October 23. 1790. Married Julia, daughter of Noah 
Webster, LL.D. 

10. Nancy, born January 1, 1793. Married Hon. Henry L. Ellsworth. Died 
January 15, 1847. 

ev. Samuel Goodrich. 

Samuel Goodrich married Elizabeth, daughter of Col. John Ely, July 29, 1784. 
Rev. Samuel Goodrich died at Berlin, April 19, 1885. 
Mrs. Elizabeth Goodrich died at Berlin, March 8, 1387. 

Children. 

11. Sarah WortMngton. born August 7, 1785. Married, 1st, Amos Cooke; 2d, 
Hon. Frederick Wolcott. Died . 

12. Elizabeth, born April 26, 1787. Married Rev. Noah Coe. 



APPENDIX NOTES. ."25 

college of New Jersey. In 1776, he was chosen a member of the cor 
poration of Yale College, and in the following year, on the occasion of 
an election to the presidency of that institution, consequent upon the 
resignation of President Daggett, he was a candidate for that office, as 
was also Dr. Styles. It is understood that there was a tie in the votes 
given for these two gentlemen, which coming to the knowledge .of Dr. 
Goodrich, who had declined voting, he insisted upon the right to do so, 
thus turning the election in favor of Dr. Styles an act of his life which 
ever after gave him pleasure, and which seemed to increase and per 
petuate his regard for the institution. 

"The death of Dr. Goodrich occurred in November, 1797, and was 
sudden and unexpected. On the 17th of that month, he left home for 
the purpose of examining some lands which belonged to Yale College, 
in the county of Litchfield. On the Sabbath following he preached at 
Litchfield, and on Monday proceeded to Norfolk, where he was enter 
tained by the hospitable family of Capt. Titus Ives. At this time he 
was in the enjoyment of good health. The evening was spent in pleasant 
conversation. On the following morning he rose early, as was his cus 
tom : he had dressed himself, with the exception of putting on his coat, 
which he was evidently in the act of doing, proceeding during the same 
time toward the door, when he fell in an apoplectic fit, and expired, in 
the sixty-fourth year of his age, and the forty-first of his ministry. 
His remains were carried to Durham on the succeeding Saturday, 
and were followed to the grave by his family, the church and the con 
gregation, and a numerous concourse of strangers. President Dwight, 
of Yale College, delivered a solemn and affecting discourse from Eccle- 
siastes ii. 1 'The righteous and the wise and their works are in the 
hands of God.' 

"Dr. Goodrich may justly be numbered among the distinguished men' 
of his times. He possessed powers of mind adapted to the investigation 
and comprehension of every subject to which he directed his attention. 
In classical learning he greatly excelled, and so perfect was his knowl 
edge of the original languages of the Bible as to enable him to dispense 
with the English version. In the exact sciences, as well as in mental 
and moral philosophy, he was distinguished. No exercise gave him 
more, pleasure than to sit down to the solution of some difficult prob- 

13. Abigail, born November 29, 1788. Married Rev. Samuel Whittlesey. 

14. Charles Augustas, August 19, 1790. Married Sarah Upson. 

15. Catherine, born December 4, 1791. Married Daniel Dunbar, of Berlin. 

16. Samuel Griswold, born August 19, 1793. Married, 1st, Adeline Gratia Brad 
ley ; 2d, Mary Boott 

17. Elihu Channcey, born November IS, 1T95. Died June 9, 1797. 

IS. Mary Ann, born May 29, 1799. Married Hon. N. B. Smith, of Woodbury. 

19. Emily Chauncey, born November 25, 1801. Died October 22, 1803. 

20. Emily Chauncey, born November 18, 18U5. Married Rev. Darius Mead, 
died . 



526 APPENDIX NOTKS. 

lem, us lie. was wont to rlo in his hours of Ici.-ure. Having tlic iise 
of the valuable library of his predecessor, tnuny of the <vorks in which 
were written in Latin, he read extensively in tliut langiwge. Divinity, 
however, was the great study of his life. He took large, comprehensive 
views of the doctrines of Christianity. He loved the Bible, and espe 
cially those truths which go to exalt and illustrate the grace of God. 
Salvation by a crucified Redeemer, without merit on the part of the 
sinner and the duties of the moral law, was the burden of his preaching. 
At the same time he occupied a commanding influence in the churches 
of Connecticut, as a friend and a counselor. In the language of Presi 
dent Dwight 'He was a man of unusual prudence, and of singular 
skill and experience in the concerns of congregations, churches, and 
ministers. His talents were not only great and distinguished, but they 
were also of the most useful kind, which we call practical. These emi 
nently fitted him for the service of God and for usefulness among man 
kind, and in these respects he left a reputation which will be honored 
as long as his memory shall last.' Soon after his death a friend, who 
was well acquainted with him, thus truthfully and happily summed up 
his character: ' As a Christian divine, he was solid, judicious, and es 
tablished with grace ; equally free from the wildness of enthusiasm 
and the rigors of superstition. His reading was extensive ; his memory 
tenacious; his piety substantial; his gravity commanding; his profit 
ing appeared unto all men, and his praise is in all the churches. He was 
a wise counselor, a peace-maker, a friend and lover of his country and 
mankind.' 

"Mrs. Goodrich survived her husband for many years, honored and 
beloved by a large circle of friends and relations. For the church and 
congregation of Durham she cherished the highest regard, and con 
tinued to receive from them the respect and affection to which, by her 
character, her love for them, and her example among them, she was 
eminently entitled. Her death occurred in the spring of 1830. 

" As to the family of Dr. Goodrich, he left six children, five sons and 
a daughter, to mourn the loss of a parent whose character justly excited 
their veneration, and whose example they could, more than most others, 
safely imitate." 

The following is abridged from Hollister's History of Connecticut, 
VoL ii. pp. 634-638: 

" CHAUNCBY GOODRICH was the eldest son of the preceding, and was 
born on the 20th of October, 1779. After a career of great distinction 
at Yale College, where he spent nine years as a student, a Berkeley 
scholar, and a tutor, he was admitted to the bar at Hartford in the au 
tumn of 1781. 

" After serving in the State legislature for a single nessioii, he was 
elected to Congress as a member of the House of Representatives, in 



APPENDIX NOTKS. 527 

the year 1794. For this station he was peculiarly qualified, not only 
by the original bent of his mind and his habits of study, but also by 
the fact that an early marriage into the family of the second Governor 
Wolcott, had brought him into the closest relations with public men 
and measures, and made him investigate all the great questions of the 
day with profound interest and attention. His brother-in-law after 
ward the third Governor Wolcott held one of the highest offices under 
the general government. This led him, from the moment he took his 
eat in Congress, to become intimately acquainted with the plans and 
policy of the administration ; and he gave them his warmest support, 
ander the impulse alike of political principle and of personal feeling. 
A party in opposition to Gen. Washington was now organized for the 
first time in Congress, as the result of Mr. Jay's treaty with Great 
Britain. Mr. Goodrich took a large share in the debates which fol 
lowed, and gained the respect of all parties by his characteristic dig 
nity, candor, and force of judgment, and especially by his habit of con 
templating a subject ou every side, and discussing it in its remotest 
relations and dependencies. Mr. Albert Gallatin, then the most active 
leader of the opposition, remarked to a friend near the close of his life, 
that in these debates he usually selected the speech of Chauncey Good 
rich as the object of reply feeling that if he could answer him, he 
would have met every thing truly relevant to the subject which had 
been urged on the part of the government. 

"In 1801, he resigned his seat in Congress, and returned to the 
practice of the law at Hartford. The next year he was chosen to 
the office of councilor in the State legislature, which he continued to 
fill down to 1807, when he was elected to the Senate of the United 
States. During the violent conflicts of the next six years, he took 
an active part in most of the discussions which arose out of the em 
bargo, the non-intercourse laws, and the other measures which led to 
the war with Great Britain. The same qualities which marked his 
early efforts were now fully exhibited in the maturity of his powers, 
while the whole cast of his character made him peculiarly fitted for 
the calmer deliberations of the Senate. He had nothing of what Burke 
calls the ' smartness of debate.' He never indulged in sarcasm or per 
sonal attack. Tn the most stormy discussions, he maintained a cour 
tesy which disarmed rudeness. No one ever suspected him of wishing 
to misrepresent an antagonist, or evade the force of an argument ; and 
the manner in which he was treated on the floor of the Senate, shows 
how much can be done to conciliate one's political opponents, even in 
the worst times, by a uniform exhibition of high principle, if connected 
with a penetrating judgment and great reasoning powers. Mr. Jeffer 
son playfully remarked to a friend during this period ' That white- 
headed Yankee from Connecticut is the most difficult man to deal with 
in the Senate of the United States.' 

" In 1818, he was chosen lieutenant-governor of the State, and con- 



528 APPENDIX NOTES. 

tinned to hold this office until his death. At the meeting of the legis 
lature in 1814, ho was appointed a delegate to the celebrated Hartford 
Contention. Though in feeble health, he took a large share in tlio de 
liberations of that body, and especially in those healing measures which 
were finally adopted. During its session, he received communications 
from distinguished men in other States, touching the various questions 
at issue, and particularly from Mr. Daniel Webster, who had previously 
sent him an extended argument to show that the provisions of the em 
bargo law, ' so far as it interdicts commerce between parts of the Uni 
ted States,' were unconstitutional and oppressive in the highest degree. 
Mr. John Randolph, also, addressed him under date of December 16, 
1814, forwarding a pamphlet which he had just published against the 
administration, in the hope of promoting ' the welfare of the country 
in these disastrous times.' At an earlier period, Mr. Randolph hud 
been one of the strongest political opponents of Mr. Goodrich ; but he 
now says ' Unfeigned respect for your character and that of your na 
tive State, which like my own is not to be blown about by every idle 
breath now hot, now cold is the cause of your being troubled with 
this letter a liberty for which I beg your excuse.' In reference to the 
Convention, he remarks ' I make every allowance for your provoca 
tions ; but I trust that the " steady habits" of Connecticut will prevail 
in the Congress/ at Hartford, and that she will be the preserver of the 
Union from the dangers by which it is threatened from the administra 
tion of the general government, whose wickedness is only surpassed by 
its imbecility.' 

" Early in 1816, it was found that a hidden disease under which Mr. 
Goodrich had for some time labored, was an affection of the heart. His 
death was probably near it would unquestionably be sudden it might 
occur at any moment 1 He received the intelligence with calmness, but 
with deep emotion. He expressed his feelings without reserve to his 
pastor, the Rev. Dr. Strong, and at a later period to the writer of this 
sketch. From his youth, he had been a firm believer in the divine au 
thority of the Scriptures. He read them habitually even in the busiest 
scenes of his life. So highly did he prize public worship, that he once 
remarked, he would attend on preaching of a very low intellectual or 
der which was even repulsive to his taste, and that he always did BO, 
if he could find no better, when away from home rather than be ab 
sent from the house of God. As the result of all his studies and re 
flections, he had become more and more fixed in his belief of those 
great doctrines of grace, which had been taught him by his father, and 
which are generally received iu the churches of Connecticut. His life 
had, indeed, been spotless, and devoted to the service of his country. 
But in speaking of our ground of acceptance before God, he said in 
substance 'A moral life is of itself noth in? for the salvation of the 
soul. I have lived a moral life in the estimation of the world ; but no 
iiuguage can express tny sense of its deficiency in the sight of a holy 



APPKNDIX NOTES. 2'J 

God. If there was not an atonement, I must be condemned and mis 
erable forever. Here my hope is stayed, A sense of imperfection often 
sinks my spirits, but generally I have a hope that supports mo, and al 
times I have rejoiced in God without fear, and have wished only to be 
in his hands and employed in his service.' In this state of mind his 
summons found him. On the 18th of August, 1815, in the midst of 
the family circle, while walking the room and engaged in cheerful eon 
versation, he faltered for a moment, sank into a chair, and instantly 
expired, in the fifty-sixth year of his age. 

" In his person, Mr. Goodrich was a little above the medium height, 
of a full habit, slightly inclining to corpulency. He had finely turned 
features, with prominent and rounded cheeks, and a remarkable purity 
of complexion, which retained throughout life 'the flush of early youth. 
His countenance was singularly expressive, showing all the varied emo 
tions of his mind when excited by conversation or by public speaking. 
His eye was blue, and deep-sunk under an ample forehead. He had the 
habit of fixing it intently upon those to whom he spoke in earnest con 
versation, and no one who has felt that look, will ever forget its search 
ing and subduing power. 

" In domestic and social life, he was distinguished for his gentleness 
and urbanity. He had a delicacy of feeling which was almost feminine. 
A friend who had conversed with him intimately for many years, re<- 
marked that he had one peculiarity which was strikingly characteristic: 
' Not a sentiment or expression ever fell from his lips in the most un 
guarded moment, which might not have been uttered in the most re 
fined circles of female society. 1 He had, at times, a vein of hurnor, 
which shows itself in his familiar letters'to Oliver Wolcott and others, 
as published by Mr. Gibbs, in his ' Memoirs of the Administration ot 
Washington and John Adams.' But, in general, his mind was occu 
pied with weighty thoughts, and it was perhaps this, as much as any 
thing, that gave him a dignity of manner which was wholly unassumed, 
uud which, without at all lessening the freedom of social intercourse, 
made every one feel that he was not a man with whom liberties could' 
be taken. He could play with a subject, when he chose, in a desultory 
manner, but he preferred, like Johnson, to ' converse rather than talk/ 
He loved of all things to unite with others in following out trains of 
thought. The late Judge Hopkinsoii, of Philadelphia, inn letter to Mr. 
Gibbs, classes him in this respect with Oliver Ellsworth, Fisher Ame.>; 
Uriah Tracy, Oliver Wolcott. and Roger Griswold : of whom he say-*, 
' You may well imagine what a rich and intellectual society it w;i,,. i 
will not say that we have uo such men now, hut I don't know where to 
find them.' 

' ; His crowning characteristic, that of integrity and honor, was thus 
referred to a few days after his death, by a writer in one of the leading 
journals of Hartford. ' His judgment was so guided by rectitude, that 
of all men living lie was, perhaps, the only one to whom his worst cuo- 

Voi.. 1. 23 



530 APPENDIX NOTES. 

my if enemy lie had would have confided, the decision fa controversy^ 
sooner than to his best friend? " 

KM/IK GOODRICH, LL.D., the second son, was born 24th of March, 
1761. In the year 1775, he entered Yale College, at the age of 
fourteen. During his senior year, his life was brought into extreme 
danger at the time when New Haven was attacked by the British. 
On the landing of the troops, July 6th, 1779, he joined a company of 
about a hundred in number, who went out, under the command of 
James Hillhouse, to annoy and retard the march of the enemy : to 
ward evening, when the town was taken and given up to ravage 
and plunder, he was stabbed near the heart by a British soldier, as 
he lay on his bed in a state of extreme exhaustion, and barely 
escaped with his life. 

Having been fitted for the bar, he established himself at New 
Haven, and soon acquired an extensive practice. In 1795, he was 
elected a representative to the State legislature, and in 1799, a 
member of Congress. This station he resigned, and was appointed 
Collector of the port of New Haven, and was soon after removed 
by Mr. Jefferson to give place to Deacon Bishop, as elsewhere rela 
ted (vol. i. page 122). He was immediately elected to the State legis 
lature, and then to the council. His habits of mind fitted him pe 
culiarly for the duties of a legislative body. He had great industry, 
clearness of judgment, and accuracy of knowledge in the details of 
business. He was much relied on in drafting new laws, as one who 
had been long conversant with the subject, and had gained a per 
fect command of those precise and definite forms of expression which 
are especially important in such a case. He was, also, judge of the 
County Court for the county of New Haven thirteen years, and 
judge of Probate for the same county seventeen years, down to the 
change of politics in 1818. In the latter office, he endeared him 
self greatly to numerous families throughout the county, by his 
judgment and kindness in promoting the settlement of estates with 
out litigation, and by his care in providing for the interests of wid 
ows and orphans. He was also mayor of the city of New Haven, 
from September, 1803, to June, 1822, being a period of nineteen 
years, when he declined any longer continuance in this office. For 
nine years he was Professor of Law at Yale College, and repeatedly 
delivered courses of lectures on the laws of nature and nations, but 
resigned the office in 1810, as interfering too much with his other 
public duties. His interest in the college, however, remained una 
bated. For many years he was a leading member of the corpora 



AI'l'KXDIX NOTES. 531 

timi, aiul was particularly charged with its interests as a member of 
the prudential committee; and was secretary of the board for the 
period of twenty-eight years, until lie tendered his resignation in 
1846. It is a striking circumstance, that from the time of his en 
tering college in 1775, he was uninterruptedly connected with the 
institution, either as a student, Berkeley scholar, tutor, assistant to 
the treasurer, professor, member of the corporation, or secretary of 
the board, for the space of seventy-one years ! He received from the 
college the honorary degree of LL.D., in the year 1830. His deatli 
took place in 1849. 

After what has been said, it is unnecessary to give any labored 
delineation of Mr. Goodrich's character. He was distinguished for 
the clearness and strength of his judgment, the ease and accuracy 
with which he transacted business, and the kindness and affability 
which he uniformly manifested in all the relations of life. His read 
ing was extensive and minute ; and, what is not very common in 
public men, he kept up his acquaintance with the ancient classics to 
the last, being accustomed to read the writings of Cicero, Livy, Sal- 
lust, Virgil, and Horace, down to the eighty-ninth year of his age, 
with all the ease and interest of his early days. He professed the 
religion of Christ soon after leaving college, adorned his profession 
by a consistent life, and experienced the consolations and hopes 
which it affords, in the hour of dissolution. 

The following is copied from Professor Fowler's Notes, already 
mentioned : 

SAMUEL GOODRICH, the third son, was born on the l'2th of January, 
1763. He graduated at Yale, in 178&, and after a course of theo 
logical study, was ordained at Ridgefield, Conn., on the 6th of July, 
1786. Under his pastoral care the church and society of Ridgefield 
flourished, and he became an instrument of extensive good. He was 
often called to aid in the settlement of ecclesiastical difficulties, for 
which he was peculiarly fitted by his extensive knowledge of man 
kind, and by his plain practical sense. On the 22d of January, 1811, 
he was dismissed from his charge at Ridgefield, at his own request, 
and on the 29th of May following he was installed at \Vorthington, 
a parish of Berlin. 

In 1784, Mr. Goodrich married Elizabeth Ely, daughter of Col. 
John Ely of Saybrook. She survived him about two years. Their 
children were ten in number. For several years Mr. Goodrich had 
beeu occasionally afflicted with gout, which in its attacks were more 
frequent and more serious as he advanced in life. His last sickness 



53* 



A PPENDIX NOTES. 



w:is short, and as the disease early affected his brain, he was favored 
willi but few lucid intervals. But during these he manifested a full 
knowledge of his danger, and a willingness to depart. A short pe- 
rio.l before his death, he revived so considerably as to distinguish his 
friends, and to express his strong confidence in God. "My soul," 
said he, "is on the Rock of Ages, and my confidence in God is as 
firm as the everlasting mountains. Yet," he continued, after a short 
pause, "in myself I am a poor creature." On Sabbath evening, 
April 19th, 1835, he expired. 

Mr. Goodrich lived and died a Christian. As a pastor he was 
greatly beloved ; as a minister of Jesus Christ he was eminently 
successful. Several seasons of revival occurred under his ministry, 
both during his reridence at Ridgefield and Worthington. Many 
still live to whom he was a spiritual father, and who cherish his 
memory as " a good man," and a kind and faithful shepherd. In 
the language of one who knew him well " He possessed many ex 
cellent qualities as a man and a minister. His judgment was accu 
rate, being founded on an extensive acquaintance with men and 
manners, and a long study of the human heart He readily discerned 
the springs of action, and knew well how to approach his fc-llow-men 
in regard to objects which he wished to accomplish. He did not 
misjudge in respect to means or ends. He was remarkable for his 
practical good sense, and an acquaintance with common and there 
fore useful things. His understanding was rather solid than bril 
liant, and his knowledge seemed to be in wide and diversified 
surveys, and was gathered from many a field, rather than contracted 
to a point, or derived from prolonged investigation of particular 
subjects. Hence his sermons were plain, instructive exhibitions of 
truth, and shared his varied information and practical good sense." 
During the last years of his life he preached with increased fer 
vency, spirit, and solemnity. 

How highly he prized the scriptures may be gathered from n 
memorandum in his family Bible, as follows: "1806, began to read 
the Bible in course in the family, and completed it the thirteenth 
time, October 29, 1833." The years are specified in which he each 
time completed the reading: "1809, 1812, 1814, 1816, 1821, 1823, 
1826, 1827, 1828, 1830, 1832, 1833." Such a man we might well 
expect to hear say, as he said on the eve of his departure adopting 
the language of the Psalmist " Though I walk through the valley 
of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou urt with me 
thy rod and thv staff they comfort me." 



APPENDIX NOTES. 533 

Eum; CIIAUNCKV GOODRICH, Esq. a name derived from his mater 
nal grandfather was the fourth child of Dr. Goodrich, and wa* horn 
September 16th, 1764. He also received his education at Yale Col 
lege, from which institution he graduated in 1784, with the reputa 
tion of a sound scholar. He devoted himself to the profession of 
law, engaging at time.-, as interest and inclination prompted, in the 
purchase and sale of western lands. His residence was at Clav- 
erack, New York. His death occurred in 1802, and was occasioned 
by fever induced by injudiciously bathing, during an excursion on 
the western lakes. He was never married. 

CHARLES AUGUSTUS GOODRICH, the fifth son, was born March 2d, 
1758. Like his brothers, he was educated at Yale, and took hia 
bachelor's degree in 1786. In constitution he was less vigorous than 
the other sons, but to a fine taste and poetical genius he united a 
disposition the most affectionate, and manners the most persunsive. 
Before leaving college he had chosen the ministry as a profession, 
for which he was well fitted, both on account of his piety, his love 
of learning, and the native kindness of his heart. Soon after, how 
ever, and by reason of too close application to study, his nervous 
system became seriously affected, and which in a few months in 
duced a permanent derangement of his mental powers. His death 
occurred in 1804. 

CATHERINE CHAUNCEY GOODRICH was born December 2, 1775, and 
died A. D. 1845, in the seventieth year of her age. She married 
Kev. David Smith, D. D., who succeeded to her father's pulpit, as 
has been elsewhere stated. 



NOTE III. 
Col. John Ely and Family* 

Col. John Ely, son of Daniel Ely, was a native of Lyme, Conn., 
and born in 1737. He devoted himself to the practice of medi 
cine, and speedily became eminent. He was particularly success- 

* Richard Ely, a widower, tbe first of the family who came to this country, emi 
grated from Plymouth, England, about 1660 or 1670, accompanied by his youngest 
son Pilchard, and settled in Lyme, Connecticut Daniel Ely, father of Col. Ely, 
was married four times, and had thirteen childrnn. as follows: Mary, who married 



534 APIM.NDIX NOTKS. 

fill in the treatment of small-pox, and he erected several building* 
for the reception of patients to receive inoculation for that disease. 
Two of these, constituting a regular hospital, were upon Duck Isl 
and, which lies off the shore of the village of Westport, where he 
established himself in practice. He married Sarah, daughter of Rev. 
Mr. Worthingtou of this village, then a parish of Saybrook, and bear 
ing the name of Pachoug. He had a decided military turn, and 
engaged with patriotic ardor in the revolutionary struggle. As early 
as 1775, he mustered and marched with a company of militia to 
Roxbury, under his command. In 1776, he performed a tour of duty 
at Fort Trumbull, New London, as major, also officiating as physician 
and surgeon. Among the few of his papers which remain, I find a 
copy of a pithy letter, which he sent, as commandant of the fort, to 
a suspicious ship, lying at anchor at the mouth of the harbor; in con 
sequence as is said in a note "she disappeared, and we hope to 
see her no more." ** In July, he was sent to visit the northern army, 
and employ his skill in arresting the small-pox, which was then 
raging in the camp with great virulence."* In 1777 he was again 
the commandant of Fort Trumbull, with the rank of colonel, his 
regiment having been raised by his own exertions, and many of the 
men having been fitted out with his own money. He was at this 
time wealthy, and the country was poor, and with the liberality of 
his nature he devoted not only his services but his means to the 
cause which filled his breast 

His subsequent military career may be told in the report of the 
committee on revolutionary claims in the House of Representatives, 
January 23, 1833: 

"Colonel Ely, at the commencement of the Revolutionary war, was a 
physician of great celebrity, residing at the town of Saybrook, in the 
State of Connecticut ; that, in the early stages of the conflict, he aban 
doned his profession, and raised a regiment of regular troops, and was 
commissioned as a colonel ; and, at the head of his regiment, he en 
tered into the service of his country. 



Bcnj. Lee; Ann, married Benj. Harris; Elizabeth, married Abram Perkins; Dan 
iel, married Abigail Dennison; Sarah, Both; Wells, married Elizabeth Williams 
and Rebecca Selden ; John, noticed above; Amy, married Ezra SeMen ; Lucretia, 
married Bcnj. Colt, from whom descended Samuel Colt of Hartford, renowned for 
the invention of the revolver, and the late Dudley Selden of New York; Christo 
pher, who married successively Eve Marvin, Esther Hunt, and Elliot; and 

Elisha, who married Susanna Bloomer. (Se Genealogical Table of the Lee Fam 
ily, by Res. W. U. Hill, Albany: Weed, Parsons <t Co., Printers.) 
* Caulkins' History of New London, p 520. 



APPENDIX NOTES. 535 

"On the 9th of December, 1777, he was captured by the enemy, and 
became a prisoner of war, and was paroled at Flatbush, on Long Island, 
where were also, prisoners, several hundred American officers. Among 
these officers a distressing sickness prevailed, and Col. Ely, from the 
humanity that belonged to his character, from the day of his captivity 
to the day of his exchange, faithfully and exclusively devoted his time 
and attention to them as a physician. In discharging this duty, he 
encountered great hardship and much expense, as the residences of the 
sick officers were scattered over n considerable space of country, many 
of them being as much as twenty miles apart. Col. Ely, when unable 
from bodily infirmity or the state of the weather, to perform his long 
tours on foot, hired a horse at an extravagant price, and paid the cost 
out of his own private means. He was also frequently compelled to 
purchase medicine for the sick at his own cost. 

" Soon after he became a prisoner, his son, Captain Ely, in conjunc 
tion with other friends, fitted out, at their own expense, a vessel, and 
manned her, for the purpose of surprising and capturing a British force, 
with which to effect the exchange of Col. Ely. The object of the expe 
dition succeeded, so far as regarded the surprise and capture of the 
enemy, and the prisoners were delivered to the proper authorities, to 
be exchanged for Col. Ely. This, however, was not done, by reason of 
the earnest entreaties of the sick American officers, who considered 
their lives as greatly depending upon the continuance, attendance, and 
skill of Col. Ely. He was induced to forego his right to an exchange, 
and consented to remain, for the comfort and safety of his sick brother 
officers. It appears, from a certificate of Samuel Huntington, President 
of Congress, that still, subsequent to the time when his exchange might 
have been effected, through the valor of his son and friends ; and when 
he became entitled to an exchange, by the regular rule, that a deputa 
tion of exchanged officers, who had been his fellow-prisoners, was ap 
pointed to wait on Congress, by the sick officers who still remained in 
captivity, and to urge the continuance of Col. Ely as their physician 
and surgeon. At the head of this deputation was Col. Matthews (since 
a member of Congress, and Governor of Georgia), and Col. Ramsay, of 
Jhe Maryland line. Col. Ely was, in consequence of this representa 
tion, not exchanged, although entitled to an exchange. He remained, 
*nd acted as physician and surgeon till the 25th of December, 1780, 
when he was released a period of more than three years." 

On his final return to his family, early in the year 1781, Col. Ely 
found himself broken in health and constitution, his lands run to 
waste, his house in a state of dilapidation, his property dissipated, 
and a considerable debt accumulated against him. With good cour 
age, however, he set himself again to his profession. He rose in the 
morning early, cut his wood, carried it in, built his fires, fed the 



536 APPENDIX NOTES. 

cattle, and then went forth upon his professional duties. In those 
days of depression, the great staple of the family for food was hasty 
pudding Col. Ely cheering his wife by saying that the children of 
the poor were always the healthiest, because of the simplicity of 
their food. By these efforts and sacrifices he partially recovered 
from his difficulties. His health, however, gradually gave way ; and 
when the country had risen from the chaos of the war under the new 
constitution, he, with others, applied to Congress for remuneration 
for his extraordinary services. Gen. Knox, then Secretary of War, 
made a highly favorable report, and the House of Representatives 
immediately adopted it by passing a bill in favor of Col. Ely, grant- 
it g him twenty thousand dollars. He was at Philadelphia nt this 
time, and wrote to his daughter at Kidgefield that in a few days he 
should be able to give her the marringe outfit which his poverty had 
hitherto prevented him from doing. Not doubting that the Senate 
would ratify the action of the House, he returned to his family. 

In a short time he received the mortifying intelligence that his 
claim had been thrown out by .ae Senate. Oliver Ellsworth, a man 
of great pertinacity of character as well as wisdom in the conduct 
of affairs, had acquired immense influence in that body it being 
said by Aaron Burr that if he should chance to spell the name of 
the Deity with two ds, it would take the Senate three weeks to ex 
punge the superfluous letter ! He was generally opposed to money 
grants, from a just anxiety as to the means of the government, and 
hence was called the " Cerberus of the treasury." This formidable 
senator opposed the bill in CoL Ely's favor, and it was consequently 
defeated. 

Sick at heart, borne down with a sense of neglect, if not injustice, 
the more keenly felt because he had sacrificed his fortune and his 
health in the most generous manner for his country ; indignant at the 
refusal of compensation for his extraordinary services, promised by 
letters from Washington addressed personally to himself, and placed 
before Congress, he turned his back upon the hope of further success 
in life, and after a few years October, 1800 he was numbered with 
the dead. About forty years later, the heirs of Col. Ely presented 
his claims to Congress, and they were readily recognized. Most of 
his papers, however, had been lost, and only a small portion of his 
claim about five thousand dollars was allowed. 

The character of CoL Ely may be inferred from what has al 
ready been said. In person he was tall, erect, and of a manner 
marked with dignity and ease. In conversation he was lively, fall 



APPENDIX NOTES. 53 T 

of wit, and abounding in illustrative anecdote. As a commander, 
he was the idol of the soldiery, and uniting to his military office the 
skill and practice of the physician, with a tenderness of humanity 
which knew no weariness, he acquired a degree of love and friend 
ship which few men ever enjoy. It is painful to reflect that it 
was owing to these amiable traits of character, and to the confi 
dence and affection they inspired, that his days were shortened and 
the latter part of his life darkened with comparative poverty and 
gloom. It was in consequence of the earnest solicitations and rep 
resentations of the invalid soldiers and officers that remained in 
captivity on Long Island, and who felt that they could not part 
with his services, that he was induced to forego his privilege of 
restoration to his family, and continue on in captivity and that too 
after his son, a youth of twenty years of age, by his enterprise, had 
provided the means of deliverance devoting himself to arduous 
duties, which finally resulted in breaking down his vigorous consti 
tution and his elastic spirit. 

A friend has furnished me with the following notice of my great 
grandfather on my mother's side, and the progenitor of some of the 
leading families in Connecticut : 

"REV. WILLIAM WORTHINGTON was the son of William Worthiugtofi, 
first of Hartford and then of Colchester, Conn., and grandson of Nich 
olas Worthington, the emigrant ancestor, probably, of all who bear the 
name of Worthington in the United States. The last resided in Liver 
pool, England, where he was a great farmer. He was wounded in the 
Cromwellian wars, lost a part or all of his estate by confiscation, and 
came to this country about 1650. He settled first in Hatfield, Mass., 
and afterward removed to Hartford, Conn. 

" Rev. William Wortliington was born, probably in Colchester, Dec. 
5, 1695. He graduated at Yale College in 1716, preached for a time in 
Stouington, Conn., and was settled in Saybrook, west parish, then call 
ed Pachoug, in 1726. He was the first minister of the parish, and was 
ordained in the dwelling-house built for himself, but then unfinished, 
the people sitting on the beams and timbers to witness the ceremony. 
He died Nov. 16, 1756, in the sixty-first year of his age, in the lan 
guage on his gravestone, ' much lamented by all who were happy in 
his acquaintance.' He was a popular preacher and a most faithful pas 
tor. His influence was eminently persuasive to love and good works, 
and was long visible after his death, in the religious character of his 
people, and in the tone of feeling prevalent in the business and cour 
tesies of life. He preached the election sermon in the year 1744. The 
following is the title-page : ' The Duty of Rulers and Teachers in uni 
tedly leading God's People, urged and explained in a Sermon preached, 

23* 



538 APPENDIX NOTK8. 

before the General Assembly of the Colony of Connecticut, at Hartford, 
on their Anniversary Election, May 10th, 1744.' 

" The sermon is a logical and well-written discourse. In his socia' 
and ministerial intercourse, he was a gentleman of great blandness, 
gracefulness, and urbanity of manner attributes which he transmitted 
to many of his descendants. T>ome of his people said that they had but 
one thing against him, and that was, 'he walked as if he were a proud 
man.' But Mr. Lay, one of his parishioners, seeing him walking in 
the woods, and supposing himself alone, with the same dignity and 
gracefulness of bearing as when in the presence of others, came to the 
conclusion that his ' manner in public was natural to him.' 

" His four daughters were celebrated in their day for their accom 
plishments. The traditions of their superiority of air, manner, uud 
appearance, still linger among the old people of Westport. Their fa 
ther's mode of educating them was to keep one of them, in succession, 
at domestic employments with their mother, while the others were at 
their studies with himself. 

" The following is told among the legends of the family. Mr. 
Worthington had a slave named Jenny. After his death she lived with 
his children, one after another. When she died, it was ninety years 
from the time that the first bill of sale was given. She had two chil 
dren in Guinea before she came to this country, and must therefore 
have been considerably over a hundred years old. When she was on 
her death-bed, at Mr. Elnathan Chauncey's, in Durham, Dr. Goodrich 
conversed with her. ' Jenny has strange notions,' said lie, when he 
came out of the room. ' She said to me, " I shall go to heaven. I shall 
knock at the door, and ask for Massa Worthington ; and he will go and 
tell God that I had always been an honest, faithful servant, and then he 
will let me in, and I will go and sit in the kitchen." ' 

" Mr.Worthington's first wife was Nancy Mason, the second Temper 
ance Gallup. The children of Mr. Worthington were 

I. Mary, who married Col. Aaron Elliot, of Killingworth. Her chil 
dren were, 1. Dr. William Elliot, of Goshen, N. Y. ; 2. Dr. Aaron El 
liot, who removed to St. Genevieve, La.; 8. Mary, who married a Mr. 
Ely, of Lyme. Sybil, who died young. Elizabeth, who was the oldest 
daughter by his second wife: she married Col. Samuel Gale, of Gosh 
en, N. Y., for her first husband, and Rev. Elnathan Chauncey, of Dur 
ham, Connecticut, for her second husband. By her first husband she 
had 1. Asa Worthington Gale ; 2. Benjamin Gale. By her second 
husband -she had 1. Nathaniel William Chauncey; 2. Catharine 
Channcey, who married Reuben Rose Fowler; 8. Worthington G. 
Chauncey. 

" II. Sarah, who was married to Col. John Ely, of the army of the 
Revolution. Her children were 1. Ethliuda, who married her half- 
cousin, Dr. William Elliot, who settled at Goshen, N. Y. ; 2. Worth 
ington, who graduated at Yale College in 1780, and who was a physi- 



APPENDIX NOTES. 539 

cinn at New Baltimore, on the Hudson, and the grandfather of the pres 
ent Mrs. Recorder Smith, of the city of New York, Mrs. Waddell, <fec. ; 

3. Betsey, who married the Eev. Samuel Goodrich, of Berlin, Conn. ; 

4. Amy, who married Dr. Cowles ; 5. John, a physician, and member 
of Congress, established at Coxsackie ; 6. Edward, a lawyer, settled at 
Goshen, N. Y. ; 7. Lucretia, who married Dr. Gregory of Sand Lake, 
near Albany. 

" III. Temperance, who was married first to Moses Gale, of Goshen, 
N. Y., and afterward to Rev. Samuel Mather Smith. She had one son, 
named William, by her first hnsband, and she had by her second hus 
band, John Cotton Smith, who was governor of Connecticut ; a daugh 
ter, who married Judge Radcliff, of New York ; another daughter, who 
married the Rev. Mr. Smith, of Stamford, Conn. ; and another daugh 
ter, who married Mr. Wheeler. 

" IV. Mehitabel, who married Michael Hopkins. Her children were 
1. George, a well-known printer and publisher ; 2. Stephen Augustus, 
who removed to Richmond, Va. ; 3. Silvia, who was a celebrated beau 
ty ; 4. Belinda. 

" V. William, who was a colonel in the army of the Revolution." 



NOTE IV. 

The Clergy of Fair field County. 

Rev. AMZI LEWIS, D. D., son of Deacon Samuel Lewis, of Nauga- 
tuck, graduated at Yale College, 1768, settled at Horseneck, and 
died in 1819. 

Rev. JUSTUS MITCHELL* settled at New Canaan, and died in 1808. 

Rev. MATTHIAS BURNET, D. D., was installed over the First Congre 
gational Church of Norwalk, 1785, died 1806, aged fifty-eight. 

Rev. ELIJAH WATERMAN was graduated at Yale in 1791, ordained 
at Windham in 1794, installed at Bridgeport in 1806, and died in 
1825, aged fifty-six. 

Rev. ROSWELL SWAN, settled over the First Congregational Church 
in Norwalk, 1807, died 1819, in the forty first year of his age. 

HEMAN HUMPHRIES, D. D., was born in Simsburv, Conn., March 



* The Mitchell family were originally from Scotland, and settled afterward in 
Yorkshire. Matthew Mitchell, the ancestor of the Mitchells of this county, wa 
born in 1590. He emigrated to America in 1635, and finally settled at Stamford, 
w; ere lie died. 1(>45. See i'othron' Ancient Woodbury, p. 633. 




540 APPENDIX NOTES. 

26, 1779 ; he was brought up in West Britain, now Burlington, under 
the preaching of the Rev. Jonathan Miller, and was received into 
his church when about twenty years of age. He had few early ad 
vantages of education, but he mastered all difficulties, and by his 
own efforts passed through Yale College, graduating in 1805. He 
studied divinity, and was settled at Fail-field in 1807. Being dis 
missed, at his own request, in 1817, he was settled at Pittsfield in 
the autumn of the same year. In 1823 he became president of 
Amherst College. In 1845 he resigned this situation, and has since 
made Pittsfield his residence. Enjoying excellent health and a wide 
fame, he has devoted his time and attention to the promotion of good 
and useful objects, chiefly of a religious nature. 

Rev. JONATHAN BARTLETT is son of Rev. Jonathan Bartlett, who 
was settled over the church in Reading, March 21st, 1733. He suc 
ceeded his father, being first ordained and installed as his colleague 
in 1796. In a recent letter to me he says: "I can truly say that 
they the clergymen of the Association of ' Fairfield West' were 
all, not only in my own, but in the general estimation, highly re 
spectable as men, and some of them were considered as possessed 
of uncommon abilities." 



NOTE V. 

Revival of Education. 

J. G. Carter,* of Lancaster, Masa, was one of the first and most 
efficient of the promoters of the revival of education in New Eng 
land, which commenced about thirty years ago. He began to write 
upon the subject as early as 1821, and from that timej for about 
twenty years, he devoted his attention with great energy to this 
object. He published various pamphlets, written with vigor, in be 
half of the necessity of better text-books, the more vigorous admin 
istration of schools, and the thorough training of teachers. He laid 
open the philosophy of teaching with great ability, and was in fact 
a pioneer in the path of progress and improvement which has 
since been so happily followed. He promoted the lyceums founded 

* Mr. Carter was a native of Leominster, Mass. ; born Sept 7, 1795, graduated 
ui Harvard, settled t Lancaster, and died July '22, 1849. 



APPENDIX NOTES. 541 

t>v tlie indefatigable Josiah Holbrook, and in 1830, delivered two 
addresses before the American Institute of Insl ruction, of which 1m 
was an active promoter one on the " Education of the Faculties," 
and another on the "Necessity of Educating Teachers." In 1835, 
chiefly through his influence, he being then a member of the legis 
lature of Massachusetts, a grant of three hundred dollars a year was 
made by the State to that excellent institution, and which has since 
been continued. In 1837 Mr. Cnrter, still being a member of the 
legislature, was chiefly instrumental in causing an act to be passed 
constituting the Board of Education, which has since been the source 
of so much good in rousing the public throughout the whole country, 
to the importance of the extension and improvement of education. 

Of the Board of Education, thus constituted, Horace Mann became 
the secretary, and by his eloquence contributed to stimulate into life 
Ihe good seed that, had been sown. Rev. Charles Brook, of Hing- 
ham, devoted himseli with great zeal and success to the founding of 
normal schools, and to him Massachusetts is largely indebted for her 
excellent institutions of this nature. 

Henry Barnard, of Connecticut, has devoted his life to the promo 
tion of education, and has contributed more than any other person in 
the United States to give consistency and permanonce to the efforts 
of enlightened men in behalf of this great cause. He is eminently 
practical, and at the same time by his various writings, he has largely 
diffused among all classe*. true views of the nature and necessity of 
thorough instruction, especially in a country whore the political 
institutions rest upon the people. 

Among other early and efficient promoters of the movement which 
has resulted in the present enlightened state of public opinion on 
the subject of education, were Thomas H. Gallaudet, William C. 
Woodbridge, A. B. Alcott, W. A. Alcott, George B. Emeivon, D. P. 
Page, Josiah Holbrook, Ehenezer Bailey, Gideon F. Thayt-r, Warren 
Colburn, Francis Wayland, William Russell, Rev. Samuel J. May 
Kcv. George Putnam, and indeed many others. 

The "Journal of Education" was founded in 1825 by Thomas B. 
Waite, of Boston, originally a printer, but then a publisher a son 
of a member of the firm of Lilly, Waite & Co. In 1828 it came 
into my hands. Mr. W. Russell being its editor, but I parted with it 
after about a year. 

It is to be remarked that many of the leading men of Massachu 
setts have readily lent their aid to the cause of education ; among 
whom we may specially mention Daniel Webster, J. Q. Adams, Rob- 




512 AITKNDJX NOTES. 

ert Rant-oiil, Jr., Edward Everett, Levi Lincoln, John Davis, <fcc. fcc., 
all being convinced of the supreme importance of the subject, and 
desirous of lending their influence to enforce it U|x>n the attention 
of the people. 

Among the benefactors of special education, we may mention 
.jomas Handy side Perkins, of Boston, "a merchant who accumu 
lated a princely fortune, and whose heart was still larger than his 
wealth," and who, aided by the skillful labors of Dr. Howe, was the 
chief founder of the Massachusetts Institution for the Blind. Ab 
bott Lawrence, who rose by means of his fine person, his agreeable 
manners, his liberal feelings, and his strong practical sense, not 
only to great wealth, but to high social and political consideration, 
was a most munificent benefactor of various educational establish 
ments. His two brothers, Amos and William, followed his noble 
example, and the public appreciation of their conduct may, it ir 
hoped, lead others to devote a portion of their surplus wealth to 
the beneficent cause of general or special education. 



END OF VOL. I. 



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