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28 Castle St. Leicester Sq. 


THIS Story of Peter Parley's Life is gathered from 
his Recollections of a Lifetime, written by my good 
old friend, Samuel Gr. Gfoodrich, in the year 1854, 
while he was the United States Consul at Paris. I 
give you, in his own words, a description of the spot 
on which he composed his little history: 

" My little pavilion, situated upon an elevated slope 
formed of the upper bank of the Seine, gives me 
a view of the unrivalled valley that winds between 
St. 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 chateaux, and from 

vi Preface. 

the terraced roof of my house which is arranged for 
a promenade I can look into their gardens and 
pleasure-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 hun- 
dred dollars a-year, with the freedom of the gardens and 
grounds of the chateau, of which my residence is an 
appendage. 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 

Preface. vii 

Several of his friends advised him to write the 
history of his life ; and when the cares of the Consulate 
were over, and he had leisure, he consented to their 

" What I propose," he says, " 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 witnessed, while I endeavour to make you share 
in the impressions they produced upon my own mind. 
Thus I shall carry you back to my early days, to my 
native 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 heroines 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 portion of the loving reverence with which I regard 
their memories. I shall endeavour to interest you in 

viii Preface. 

some of the household customs of our New England 
country 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 moralising, 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 

Preface. ix 

variety of men and things, and had my share 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." 

That this life of one of the most popular of all 
writers for young people will find favour in their eyes, 
I cannot doubt. That my worthy friend had his 
failings, like the rest of the world, some of my readers 
will not fail to discover; and that there is much to 
admire in the earnest goodness of his life, and in the 
candour of the confessions of his errors, will be owned 
by all who have any regard for the works of "Peter 

F. F. 



Birth and Parentage The Old House Ridgefield The Meeting- 
house Parson Mead Keeler's Tavern The Cannon-hall 
Lieutenant Smith P. 1 


The New House High Ridge Nathan Kellogg's Spy-glass The 
Shovel The Black Patch in the Road Distrust of British In- 
fluence Old Chich-es-ter Aunt Delight Return after Twenty 
Years 8 


Ridgefield Society -Trades and Professions Chimney-corner Court- 
ships Domestic Economy Dram-drinking Family Products 

Molly Gregory and Church Music Travelling Artisans 
Festival of the Quilts Clerical Patronage Raising a Church 
The Retired Tailor and his Farm 22 


Habits of the People Their Costume Amusements Festivals 
Marriages Funerals Dancing Winter Sports My Two 
Grandmothers Mechanical Genius Importance of Whittling 

Pigeons Sporting Adventures 38 

xii Contents. 


Death of Washington Jerome Bonaparte and Miss Patterson 
Sunday Travelling Oliver Wolcott Timothy Pickering 
American Politeness quite Natural Locomotion Public Con- 
veyances My Father's Chaise Brings Prosperity to the 
Village P. 50 


The Upper and Lower Classes of Ridgefteld Master Stebbins and 
his School What is a Noun? Deacon Benedict and his Man 

Peter Parley on Horseback His Latin Acquirements Family 
Worship Widow Bennett The Temple of Dagon . . 57 


The Clergy of Fairfield A Laughing Parson The Three Deacons 

General King and Colonel Bradley 71 


Mat Olmstead, the Town Wit The Salamander Hat Solar Eclipse 

Lieutenant Smith Extraordinary Meteor Fulton and his 
Steam-boat Granther Baldwin and his Wife The Swearer 
Sarah Bishop and her Cave . . . . , . . 81 


Farewell to Home Danbury My New Vocation My Brother- 
in-law His Conversations with Lawyer Hatch Clerical 
Vagaries .99 


New Haven Distinguished Men Whitney's Cotton-gin Durham 
Town My Grandmother's Indian Pudding In Search of a 
Doctor Return to Danbury Cold Friday Factory Workmen 

Mathematics 108 


Arrival at Hartford My Occupation there Restlessness My 
friend George Sheldon . . . . . . 120 




War with England In the Army My Uncle's Advice Campaigning 
On the March Our Military Costume My first Soldier's 
Supper P. 125 


New London Our Military Reputation Sent with a Letter 
British Cannon-balls Out of Harm's Way An Alarm On 
Guard Take a Prisoner Strange Emotions My Left-hand 
Chum A Grateful Country 129 


Effects of War in New England Personal Experience News of 
Peace Illuminations The Author's Confessions . .137 


Evil Effects of Night Study Commencement of Literary Career 
Thoughts on Dancing New York Saratoga Death of his 
Uncle Becomes a Bookseller Cold Summer Emigration 
Results of 142 


Marriage Walter Scott Byron Sidney Smith's Taunt Pub- 
lishes Original American Works Mrs. Sigourney . . 152 


Domestic Troubles Sketch of Brainard Aunt Lucy's Back-parlour 
The Fall of Niagara Death of Brainard . . . 157 


First Visit to Europe Hurricane Arrival at Liverpool London 
Travels on the Continent Return to Bristol Interview with 
Hannah More Design in Travelling Visits Ireland and 
Scotland 165 



The Edinburgh Lions Literary Celebrities Jeffrey in the Forum 

Sir Walter at the Desk Riding with Scotch Ladies Beautiful 
Scenery A Scotch Mist Moral to his Countrymen . P. 172 


Blackwood Licentiousness of Byron's MSS. The General As- 
sembly Sir Walter Scott Mr. and Mrs. Lockhart Origin of 
" Tarn O'Shanter " Last Words of Scott .... 181. 


En Route for London "The Laird o'Cockpen" Localities of 
Legendary Fame Difference between England and America 190 


London on his Second Visit Jacob Perkins and his Steam-gun 
Dukes of Wellington, Sussex, and York British Ladies at a Re- 
view House of Commons and its Orators Debate in the Lords 

Catalani Distinguished Foreigners Edward Irving compared 
to Edmund Kean Byron lying in State ..." . . 197 


Embark for the United States Boston and its Worthies Business 
Operations Ackermann's Forget-me-Not the Parent of all other 
Annuals The American Species Their Declension . 211 


" The Token" N. P. Willis and Nathaniel Hawthorne Comparison 
between them Lady Authors Publishers' Profits Authors 
and Publishers 217 


Becomes an Author His real Name a profound Secret How it 
was Divulged Great Success Illness The Doctors disagree 

English Imitations of his Works Conduct of a London Book- 
seller Objections to his Works His own Ideas Sensible 
Reflections ... . . ... . . 227 

Contents. xv 


Children his first Patrons His Identity doubted by a Boy 
Honoured in New Orleans Feelings of Humiliation The Mice 
eat his Papers A Wrong Calculation ... P. 239 


Makes a Speech Lectures on Ireland Fortifies himself with 
Peppermints A Whig in Politics Everett and Van Buren 
Personal Attacks Becomes a Senator The " Fifteen-gallon 
Law " Publishes a Pamphlet in its Favour " My Neighbour 
Smith " His Family insulted His Political Career un- 
profitable 245 


Appointed U. S. Consul to Paris Louis XVTIL A few Jottings 
upon French Notabilities Cure for Hydrocephalus Unsettled 
State of Things in Paris 256 


Louis Philippe and the Revolution List of Grievances The Mob 
at the Madeleine Barricades " Down with Guizot ! " The 
Firing commenced Flight of the King and Queen Scene in 
the Chamber of Deputies Sack of the Tuileries A Calm 264 


After the Revolution " Funeral of the Victims " The Constituent 
Assembly Paris in a State of Siege Cavaignac Louis 
Napoleon chosen President 286 


The Author's Duties as Consul Aspect of Things in Paris Louis 
Napoleon's Designs The 2nd of December, 1852 The New 
Reign of Terror complete Louis Napoleon as Emperor Out 
of Office Return to New York Conclusion . . .291 



AUNT DELIGHT . , . . 16 


DEACON OLMSTEAD . . . . . 74 


THE COLD FRIDAY . . (Frontispiece) 116 

WHITTLING . . . . .160 

The Story of Peter Parley s 
Own Life. 





IN the western part of the State of Connecticut is a small 
town named Ridgefield. This title is descriptive, and indi- 
cates the general form and position 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 built of wood, I was born on the 
19th of August, 1793. 

My father, Samuel Goodrich, was' minister of the Congre- 
gational Church of that place, and there was no other religious 


2 The Story of 

society and no other clergyman in the town. He was the son 
of Elizur Goodrich, a distinguished minister of the same per- 
suasion 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 Say brook, whose name figures, not 
unw r orthily, in the annals of the revolutionary war. 

I was the sixth child of a family of ten children, two of 
whom died in infancy, and eight of whom lived to be married 
and settled in life. My father's annual salary for the first 
twenty-five years, and during his ministry at Ridgefield, aver- 
aged 80?. a-year : the last twenty -five years, during which he 
was settled at Berlin, near Hartford, his stipend was about 
100?. a-year. He was wholly without patrimony, and, owing 
to peculiar circumstances, which will be hereafter explained, 
my mother had not even the ordinary outfit when 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 800?. 
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 frugality of my parents, 
and especially of my mother, who was the guardian deity of 
the household. 

Ridgefield belongs to the county of Fairfield, and is now 
a handsome town, as well on account of its artificial as its 
natural advantages ; with some two thousand inhabitants. 
It is fourteen miles from Long Island Sound, of which its 
.many swelling hills afford charming views. The main street 
is a mile in length, and is now embellished with several 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 3 

handsome houses. About the middle of it there is, or was, 
some forty years ago, a white wooden Meeting-house, which 
belonged to my father's congregation. It stood in a small 
grassy square, the favourite pasture of numerous flocks of 
geese, and the frequent playground of school-boys, especially 
on Saturday afternoons. Close by the front door ran the 
public road, and the pulpit, facing it, looked out upon it on 
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 those 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 wood, was sonorous 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 to frailty ; and, from the first, his practised ear 
perceived that the sounds came from a beast of bottom. When 
the animal shot by the door, he could not restrain his admira- 
tion; which was accordingly thrust into the very marrow of 
his prayer : " We pray Thee, Lord, in a particular and pe- 
culiar manner that's a real smart critter to forgive us 
our manifold trespasses," &c. 

4 The Story of 

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

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

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

" It hasn't got any centre." 

" 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 

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 centre, or a tavern, 
had its house of worship ; and this was its 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 pillar of society, religious, social, and 
moral, 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, but as in some sense the starting- 
point of my existence. Here, at least, linger many of my most 
cherished remembrances. 

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 centre 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 

Peter Parley's Own Life. $ 

the first place, on the great thoroughfare of the day, between 
Boston and New York ; and had become a general and fa- 
vourite stopping -place for travellers. 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, governors, 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, indeed, 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, during an epi- 
demic, she was threatened with an attack. She, however, de- 
clared 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 attached to 
Keeler's tavern; for, deeply embedded in the north-eastern 
corner-post, there was a cannon-ball, planted there during the 
famous fight with the British in 1777. It was one of the 
chief historical monuments of the town, and was visited by all 
curious travellers who came that way. Little can the present 
generation imagine with what glowing interest, what ecstatic 
wonder, what big, round eyes, the rising generation of Ridge - 
field, half a century ago, listened to the account of the fight, as 
given by Lieutenant Smith, himself a witness of the event and 
a participator of the conflict, sword in hand. t 

This personage, whom I shall have occasion again to in- 

6 The Story of 

troduce to my readers, was, in my time, a justice of the peace, 
town librarian, and general oracle in such loose matters as 
geography, history, and law; then about as uncertain and 
unsettled in Ridgefield, as is now 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 
relating 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 witnessed it ; nearly all had shared in 
its vicissitudes. On every hand there were corporals, ser- 
jeants, lieutenants, captains, and colonels, no strutting fops 
in militia buckram, raw blue and buff, all fuss and feathers, 
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 Monmouth. One had witnessed the 
execution of Andre, and another had been present at the cap- 
ture of Burgoyne. 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 
* General Putnam. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. j 

galvanise into life a contemporary of Julius Caesar, who was 
present and saw him cross the Rubicon, 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 
listened to Lieutenant Smith, when of a Saturday afternoon, 
seated on the stoop of Keeler's tavern, he discoursed 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 Indian massacres and captivities. When 
he came to the Revolution, and spoke of the fight at Ridge - 
field, 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 now-a-days comprehend or appreciate 
these things ! * 

* \If our friend Peter Parley had lived to the present time, he would 
havs bitterly grieved at the terrible struggle in which his countrymen are 
now engaged. F. F.~\ 

The Story of 





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 narrow horizon 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, inasmuch as it was 
painted red behind and white in front : most of the dwellings 
thereabouts being of 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 divested 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 sur- 
rounding country. From our upper windows, this was at 
once beautiful and diversified. On the south, as I have said, 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 9 

the hills sloped in a sea of undulations down to Long Island 
Sound, a distance of some fourteen miles. This beautiful 
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 w r e 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 wonders of the firmament. 

To the west, at the distance of three miles, lay the undu- 
lating ridge of hills, cliffs, and precipices already mentioned, 
and which bear the name of West Mountain. 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 peaks of the highlands along the Hudson. 
These two prominent features of the spreading landscape 
the sea and the mountain, ever present, yet ever remote im- 
pressed 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 sud- 
denly met with the cherished companions of my childhood. 
In after days, even the purple velvet of the Apennines and the 

io The Story of 

poetic azure of the Mediterranean, nave derived additional 
beauty to my imagination 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, everything available for draught 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 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 expressly 
for my father by David Olmstead, the blacksmith, 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 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 off the gates of Gaza. I 
recollect perfectly well to have perspired under the operation, 
for the distance 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 mentioned, 
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 sig- 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 1 1 

nificance. 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 disobedience. Yet the bliss 
then seemed a compensation for the retribution. In these ex- 
ercises I felt as if stepping on air ; as if leaping aloft on wings. 
I was so impressed with the exultant emotions thus expe- 
rienced, 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 mean- 
ing. 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 happened. I was soon master of the whole story, 
and of other similar events which had occurred all over the 
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 Revolution was alike unjust in its origin, and 
cruel as to the manner in w r hich it was waged. It was, more- 
over, 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 mourning and desolation. The 
British nation, to whom this conflict was a foreign war, are 

1 2 The Story of 

slow to comprehend the popular dislike of England 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 nation 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 
our language as a word signifying brigands, who sell their 
blood and commit murder 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 influ- 
ence, which lingers among our people. 

About three-fourths of a mile from my father's house, on 
the winding road to Lower Salem, which I have already men- 
tioned, and which bore the name of West 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 questioners have confounded 
this venerable institution with " Lane Seminary," 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 of land, 
measuring perhaps a rood in extent, and lying, according to 
the custom of those days, at the meeting of four roads. The 
ground hereabouts as everywhere else in Ridgefield was 
exceedingly stony ; and, in making the pathway, the stones 
Jiad been thrown out right and left, and there remained in 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 13 

heaps 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, how- 
ever, remained; save an aged chestnut, at the western angle of 
the space. This, certainly, had not been spared for shade or 
ornament, but probably because it would have cost too much 
labour 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 enormous wood-pile, 
belonged to Granther Baldwin ; the other was the property of 
" Old Chich-es-ter ;" an uncouth, unsocial being, whom every- 
body, for some reason 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 dirty and un- 
combed, and vaguely reported to have been brought from the 
old country. This is about the whole history of the man, so 
far as it is written in the authentic 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, prowling about the house ; but never did I 

14 The Story of 

discover him outside of his own dominion. I know it was 
darkly intimated that he had been tarred and feathered in the 
revolutionary war ; but as to the rest, he was a perfect myth. 

The school-house itself consisted of rough, unpainted 
boards, upon a wooden frame. It was plastered 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 and 
enterprising penknives. The fireplace was six feet w r ide and 
four feet deep. The flue was so ample and so perpendicular, 
that the rain, sleet, and snow fell direct to the hearth. In 
winter, the battle for life with green fizzling fuel, which was 
brought in 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 thermometer 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 neighbourhood, 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, Delight Benedict, a 
maiden lady of fifty, short and bent, of sallow complexion and 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 15 

solemn aspect. I remember the first day with perfect dis- 
tinctness. 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, and this 
was covered over with a white cloth. When I had proceeded 
about half way, I lifted the cover, and debated whether I 
would not eat my dinner 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 in- 
finitely 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 con- 
vert 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 respectably established, and 
with families around them. Some remain, and are now 
among the grey 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 assembled, 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 purposes, 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 ! 

i6 7 'he Story of 

The children were called up one by one to Aunt Delight, 
who sat on a low chair, and required each, as a preliminary, 
" to make his manners," which consisted of a small sudden 
nod. She then placed the spelling-book which was Dil- 
worth's before 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." 


" B." 



" Sna-a-a-t?" 

"D." &c. 

I looked upon these operations with intense curiosity and 
no small respect, until my own turn came. I went up to the 
schoolmistress with some emotion, and when she said, rather 
spitefully, as I thought, "Make your bow!" my little intel- 
lects 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 swam before me dim and hazy, and as big 
as a full moon. She repeated the question, but I was doggedly 
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 


Peter Parley's Own Life. 17 

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 in my family, I put it in. 

What immediately followed I do not clearly remember, 
but one result is distinctly traced in my memory. In the 
evening of this eventful day the schoolmistress paid my parents 
a visit, and recounted to their astonished ears this my awful 
contempt of authority. My father, after hearing the story, 
got up and went away ; but my mother, who was a care- 
ful 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 sympathise with the 
old lady 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 

I believe I achieved the alphabet that summer, but my 
after progress, for a long time, I do not remember. Two 
years later I went to the winter school at the same place, 
kept by Lewis Olmstead a man who made a business of 
ploughing, mowing, carting manure, &c., in the summer, 
and of 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 Goliath's, judging 
by the claps of thunder it made in my ears on one or two 


1 8 The Story of 

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. Reading, writing, and 
arithmetic were the only things taught, and these very indif- 
ferently not wholly from the stupidity of the teacher, but 
because he had forty scholars, and the custom of the age 
required no more than he performed. I did as well as the 
other scholars, certainly no better. I had excellent 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, smaller than myself, and who, despite 
our rivalry, was my chosen friend and companion. I seemed 
to live for play : alas ! how the world has changed since 

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 measures of childhood, I 
had supposed it to be 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 happened to be a warm summer day, and I ven- 
tured to enter the place. I found a girl, some eighteen years 
old, keeping a ma'am school for about twenty scholars, some 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 19 

of whom were studying Parley's Geography. The mistress 
was the daughter of one of my schoolmates, and some of the 
boys and girls were grandchildren of the little brood which 
gathered under the wing of Aunt Delight, when I was an 
abecedarian. None of them, not even the schoolmistress, had 
ever heard of me. The name of my father, as having minis- 
tered to the people of Ridgefield in some bygone age, was 
faintly traced in their recollection. As to Peter Parley, whose 
geography they were learning, they supposed him to be a 
decrepit old gentleman hobbling about on a crutch, a long way 
off, for whom, nevertheless, they had a certain affection, inas- 
much as he had made geography into a story-book. The 
frontispiece -picture of 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!" 

I hope the reader will not imagine that I am thinking too 
little of his amusement and too much of my own, if I stop a 
few moments to note the lively recollections 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 incident to 
my age, those painful and mysterious visitations 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 

20 The Story of 

my memory, as if overflowed and borne away by the general 
drift of happiness which filled my bosom. Among these cala- 
mities, one monument alone remains the small-pox. It was 
in the year 1 798, as I well remember, that my father's house 
was converted into a hospital, or, as it was then called, a 
" pest-house," where, with some dozen other children, I was 
inoculated for this disease, then the scourge and terror of the 

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, " g^f SMALL -POX." My uncle and aunt, from 
New Haven, arrived with their three children. Half-a-dozen 
others of the neighbourhood 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. Provisions 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 physician, 
ventured to visit us. 

As to myself, the disease passed lightly over, leaving, how- 
ever, its indisputable autographs on various parts of my body. 
Were it not for these testimonials, I should almost suspect 
that I had escaped 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-pudding. 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. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 21 

But although there is evidence that I was subject to the 
usual drawbacks upon the happiness of childhood, these were 
so few that they have passed from my mind ; and those early 
years, as I look back to them, seem to have flowed in one 
bright current of uninterrupted enjoyment. 

22 The Story of 






I WILL now give you a sketch of Ridgefield and of the 
people, how they lived, thought, and felt, at the beginning of 
the present century. It will give you a good idea of the rustic 
life of New England fifty years ago. 

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 commanding a wide view on every side. The 
soil was naturally hard, and thickly sown with stones of every 
size. The fields were divided by rude stone walls, and the 
surface of most of them was dotted with gathered heaps of 
stones and rocks, thus clearing spaces for cultivation, yet 
leaving a large portion of the land still encumbered. The 
climate was severe, on account of the elevation of the site, yet 
this was perhaps fully compensated by its salubrity. 

Yet, despite the somewhat forbidding nature of the soil 
and climate of Ridgefield, it may be regarded as presenting 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 23 

a favourable example of New England country life and 
society at the time I speak of. 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 territory so 
uninviting, and their speedy conversion of this into a thriving 
and smiling village, bear witness to their courage and energy. 

At the time referred to, the date of my earliest recollection, 
the society of Eidgefield was exclusively English. I remember 
but one Irishman, 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 professional 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 boys with a gratuitous ride on 
a rail. We had one settled 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 farmers, 
with the few mechanics that were necessary to carry on 
society in a somewhat primeval state. Even the persons not 
professionally devoted to agriculture had each his farm, or at 
least his garden and home lot, with his pigs, poultry, and 
cattle. The population might have been 1200, comprising 
two hundred families. All could read and write, but in point 
of fact, beyond the Almanac and Watts' Psalms and Hymns, 

24 The Story of 

their literary acquirements had little scope. There were, I 
think, four newspapers, ah 1 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 ah 1 these in our village. We had, however, a 
public 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 we had means of intelligence from travellers 
constantly passing through the place, which kept us ac- 
quainted with the march of events. 

If Ridgefield was thus rather above the average of Con- 
necticut villages in civilisation, I suppose the circumstances 
and modes of life in my father'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 dozen sheep, to 
which may be added a stock of poultry, including a flock of 
geese. My father carried on the farm, besides preaching two 
sermons a -week, and visiting the sick, attending funerals, 
solemnising marriages, &c. He laid out the beds and planted 
the garden ; pruned the fruit-trees, and worked with the men 
in the meadow in hay-time. He generally cut the corn-stalks 
himself, and always shelled the ears ; the latter being done by 
drawing them across the handle of the frying-pan, fastened 
over a wash-tub. I was sometimes permitted, as an indul- 
gence, to share this favourite employment with my father. 
With these and a few other exceptions, our agricultural 
operations were carried on by hired help. 

It was the custom in New England, at the time I speak 
of, for country lawyers, physicians, clergymen, even doctors of 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 25 

divinity, to partake of these homespun labours. In the library 
of the Athenseum, at Hartford, is a collection of almanacs, 
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 potatoes," 
&c. : thus showing his personal attention to, if not his par- 
ticipation in, the affairs of the farm. Nearly all the judges of 
the Superior Court occasionally \vorked in the field, in these 
hearty old federal times. 

But I return to Ridgefield. The household, as well as 
political, economy of those 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 neighbours. 
There was a tanner, but he only dressed other people's skins. 
There \vas a clothier, but he generally fulled and dressed other 
people's cloth. All this is typical of the mechanical opera- 
tions of the place. Even dyeing blue a portion of the wool, so 
as to make linsey-woolsey for short gowns, aprons, and blue- 

* I recollect, as an after-thought, one exception. There was a 
hatter who supplied the town ; but he generally made hats to order, 
and usually 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. 

26 The Story of 

mixed stockings vital necessities 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 became the anxious seat of the lover, who 
was permitted to carry on his courtship, the object of his ad- 
dresses 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, the dye -tub was the frequent subject 
of distressing and exciting accidents. Among the early, 
indelible incidents in my memory, one of the most prominent 
is turning this over. Nothing so roused the indignation of 
thrifty housewives, for, besides the mess made upon the floor 
by the blue, a most disagreeable odour was diffused by it. 

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 became "dried" or "hung beef," then as essential 
as bread. 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 neigh- 
bours, who paid in kind when they killed their swine. 

Mutton and poultry came in their turn, all from our own 

Peter Parley* s Own Life. 27 

stock, except when on Thanksgiving-day some of the mag- 
nates gave the parson a turkey. This, let me observe, in 
those good old times, was a bird of mark ; no timid, crouch- 
ing biped, with downcast head and pallid countenance, but 
stalking like a lord, and having wattles red as a "banner 
bathed in slaughter." His beard was long, shining, and wiry. 
There was, in fact, something of the native bird still in him, 
for though the race was nearly extinct, a few wild flocks lin- 
gered in the remote woods. Occasionally, in the depth of 
winter, and towards the early spring, these stole to the barn- 
yard, and held communion with their civilised cousins. Se- 
vere battles ensued among the leaders for the favours of the 
fair, and as the wild cocks always conquered, the vigour of 
the race was kept up. 

Our bread was made of rye, mixed 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 vegetables came from our garden and 
farm. The fuel was supplied by our own woods sweet- 
scented hickory, snapping chestnut, odoriferous oak, and reek- 
ing, fizzling ash the hot juice of the latter, by the way, 
being a sovereign antidote for the earache. These were laid 
in huge piles, all alive with sap, on the tall, gaunt andirons. 
The building of a fire, a real architectural achievement, was 
always begun by daybreak. There was first a back -log, from 
fifteen to four -and -twenty inches in diameter, and five feet 
long, imbedded in the ashes ; then came a top log, then a fore 
stick, then a middle stick, and then a heap of kindlings, reach- 
ing from the bowels down to the bottom. Above all was a 
pyramid of smaller fragments, artfully adjusted, with spaces 

28 The Story of 

for the blaze. Lucifer matches had not then been invented. 
So, if there were no coals left from the last night's fire, and none 
to be borrowed from the neighbours, 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 pile on the 
andirons was skilfully constructed, the spark being applied, 
there was soon a furious stinging smoke ; but the forked flame 
soon began to lick the sweating sticks above, and by the time 
the family had arisen, and assembled in the " keeping-room," 
there was a roaring blaze, defying the bitter blasts of winter, 
which found abundant 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 domestic operation, and one in which all 
the children rejoiced, each taking his privilege of tasting, at 
every stage of the manufacture. The chief supply of sugar, 
however, was from the West Indies. 

Rum was largely consumed, but our distilleries had scarcely 
begun. A half-pint of it was given as a matter of course to 
every day-labourer, more particularly 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. 
Women I beg pardon ladies, took their schnapps, then 
named " Hopkins' Elixir," which was the most delicious and 
seductive means of getting tipsy that has been invented. 
Crying babies were silenced with hot toddy. Every man im- 


Peter Parley's Own Life. 29 

bibed his morning dram, and this was esteemed temperance. 
There is a story of a preacher, about those days, who thus 
lectured his parish : " I say nothing, my beloved brethren, 
against taking a little bitters before breakfast, and after break- 
fast ; 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 forenoon, and at four in the afternoon. I do not pur- 
pose to contend against old-established customs, my brethren, 
rendered respectable by time and authority ; but this dram- 
ming, dramming, is a crying sin in the land." 

As to brandy, I scarcely heard of it, so far as I can recol- 
lect, till I was sixteen years old, and, as an apprentice in a 
country store, was called upon to sell it. Cider was the 
universal table beverage. Brandy and whisky soon after 
came into use. I remember, in my boyhood, to have seen a 
strange zigzag tin tube, denominated a " still," belonging to 
one of our neighbours, converting, drop by drop, certain inno- 
cent liquids into " fire-water." But, in the days I speak of, 
French brandy was confined to the houses of the rich, and to 
the drug -shop. 

Wine, in our country towns, was then almost exclusively 
used for the Sacrament. 

There was, of course, no baker in Ridgefield ; each family 
not only made its own bread, cakes, and pies, but its own 
soap, candles, butter, cheese, and the like. The manufacture 
of linen and woollen cloth 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 
somewhere in the Tropics ; but whether it grew on a plant, or 
an animal, was not clearly settled in the public mind. 

30 The Story of 

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 grand- 
mother, 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 neighbour of ours, 
Sally St. John. By the way, she was a good-hearted, cheerful 
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 forgiven and concealed my offences. I did, indeed, 
get licked for catching her foot one day in a steel-trap ; but I 
declare that I was innocent of malice prepense, inasmuch as I 
had set the trap for a rat, instead of the said Sally. Never- 
theless, the verdict was against me ; not wholly on account of 
my misdemeanour in this particular instance, but because, 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 neigh- 
bour, the town carpenter. I remember her w r ell as she sang 
and spun aloft in the attic. In those days, church -singing 
was the only one of the fine arts which flourished in Bidgefield, 
except the music of the drum and fife. The choir was divided 
into four parts, ranged on three sides of the meeting-house 
gallery. The tenor, led by Deacon Hawley, was in front of 
the pulpit, the bass 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 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 3 1 

upon herself the entire counter, for she had excellent lungs. 
The fuguing tunes, which had then run a little mad, were 
her delight. In her solitary operations aloft I have often 
heard her send forth, from the attic windows, the droning hum 
of her wheel, with fitful snatches of a hymn, in which the hase 
began, the tenor followed, then the treble, and, finally, the 
counter winding up with irresistible pathos. Molly singing 
to herself, and all unconscious 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 !" 

The knitting of stockings was performed by the women of 
the family in the evening, and especially at tea-parties. This 
was considered a moral, as well as an economical, employment ; 
for people even believed, with Dr. Watts, that 

" Satan finds 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 occupied with idle gossip. At all 
events, pianos, chess-boards, graces,* battledoors and shuttle- 
cocks, 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. 

The weaving of cloth linen as well as woollen was 
performed by an itinerant workman, who came to the house, 

* Le Jeu des Graces. 

32 The Story of 

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 woollen 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 made a stock of clothes for the 
male members ; this was called " whipping the cat." 

Mantuamakers and milliners came, in their turn, to fit out 
the female members of the family. There was a similar pro- 
cess 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 tra- 
velling shoemaker, 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 lap- 
stone as hurdygurdies and hand-organs do now. 

Carpets were then only known in a few families, and were 
confined to the keeping-room and parlour. They were all 
home-made : the warp consisting of woollen yarn, and the 
woof of lists and old woollen cloth, cut into strips, and sewed 
together at the ends. Coverlids generally consisted of quilts, 
made of pieces of waste calico, sewed together in octagons, and 
quilted in rectangles, giving the whole a gay and rich appear- 
ance. This process of quilting generally brought together the 
women of the neighbourhood, married and single ; and a great 
time they had of it, what with tea, talk, and stitching. In 
the evening the men, were admitted; so that a quilting was a 
real festival, not unfrequently leading to love-making and 
marriage among the young folk. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 33 

This reminds me of a sort of Communism, or Socialism, 
which prevailed in our rural districts long before Owen or 
Fourier was born. At Bidgefield we used to have " stone 
bees," when all the men of a village or hamlet came together with 
their draught cattle, and united to clear some patch of earth 
of stones and rocks. All this labour 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 so- 
ciable affair. When the work was done, gymnastic exercises 
such as hopping, wrestling, and foot-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 labours 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 traditions of Bidgefield, the cellar of our new 
house was dug by a "bee" in a single day, and that was 

House -raising and barn -raising, the framework being 
always of wood, were done in the same way by a neighbourly 
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 
mustered 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 w r as prepared, and 

34 The Story of 

the neighbourhood 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 do with the calamitous results 
which attended them. When all was ready, therefore, a 
prayer was made, and the chorister of the place gave out 
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 ! '' 

I 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 a neighbour of ours, " Uncle Josey" as he 
was called, who had been a tailor, but having thriven in his 
affairs, and being now some fifty years old, had become a 
farmer. It was situated 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 pro- 
prietor. 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, 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 35 

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 productive sea- 
son was a wilderness of onions, squashes,* cucumbers, beets, 
parsnips, and currants, with the never - failing tansy for 
bitters, horseradish for seasoning, and fennel for keeping old 
women awake in church time. 

The interior of the house presented a parlour 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 cucumbers climbing up and forming festoons 
over the door; on the other it commanded a view of the 
orchard, embracing first a circle of peaches, pears, and 
plums ; and beyond, a wide-spread clover-field, embowered 
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 

* A kind of gourd. 

3 6 The Story of 

the whole family assembled at meals, except when the presence 
of company made it proper to serve tea in the parlour. 

The bed-rooms were all without carpets, and the 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 
enow. 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 by no means 
the least important part of the establishment. 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, tur- 
nips, beets, carrots, and cabbages. The garret, which was of 
huge dimensions, at the same time displayed a labyrinth 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. 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 
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, 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 37 

covered, as I have said, with apple-trees, yielding abundantly 
as well for the cider-mill as for the table, including the in- 
dispensable winter apple-sauce according to their kinds. I 
think an apple orchard in the spring is one of the most beau- 
tiful objects in the world. How often have I ventured into 
Uncle Josey's ample orchard at this joyous season, and stood 
entranced among the robins, blackbirds, woodpeckers, blue- 
birds, jays, and orioles, ah 1 seeming to me like playmates, 
racing, chasing, singing, rollicking, in the exuberance of their 
joy, or perchance slily pursuing their courtships, or even more 
slily building their nests and rearing their young. 

The inmates of the house I need not describe, further than 
to say that Uncle Josey himself was a little deaf, and of mode- 
rate abilities ; yet he lived to good account, for he reared a 
large family, and was gathered to his fathers at a good old 
age, leaving behind him a handsome estate, a fair name, 
and a good example. His wife, who spent her early life at 
service in a kitchen, was a handsome, lively, efficient woman, 
and a universal favourite in the neighbourhood. 

This is the homely picture of a Ridgefield farmer's home 
half a century ago. There were other establishments more 
extensive and more sumptuous in the town, as there were 
others also of an inferior grade ; but this was a fair sample of 
the houses, barns, and farms of the middle class. 

3 8 the Story of 







You will now nave some ideas of the household industry and 
occupations of country people in Connecticut, at the beginning 
of the present century. Their manners, in other respects, 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 helpers of the kitchen 
and the farm. Then came the breakfast, which was a sub- 
stantial meal, always including hot viands, with vegetables, 
apple-sauce, pickles, mustard, horseradish, and various other 
condiments. Cider was the common drink for labouring 
people : even children drank it at will. Tea was common, but 
not so general as now. Coffee was almost unknown. Dinner 
was a still more hearty and varied repast characterised by 
abundance of garden vegetables ; tea was a light supper. 

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

Peter Parley's Own Life. 39 

people in the fields being called to their meals by a conch- 
shell winded by some kitchen Triton. Tea was usually taken 
about sundown. In families where all were labourers, 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 labours of the household or the 
farm, the meals of the domestics were taken separately. 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 plebeian 
envy of those above them, which has since so generally em- 
bittered and embarrassed American domestic life. The terms 
" democrat" and " aristocrat" had not got into use : these dis- 
tinctions, and the feelings now implied by them, had indeed no 
existence in the hearts of the people. Our servants, during ah 1 
my early life, were generally the daughters of respectable 
farmers and mechanics in the neighbourhood, and, respecting 
others, were themselves respected and cherished. They were 
devoted to the interests of 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. 

At the period of my earliest recollections, men of all classes 
were dressed in long, broad-tailed coats, with huge pockets ; 
long waistcoats, breeches, and hats with low crowTis and 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. Women dressed in wide bonnets, 
sometimes of straw and sometimes of silk ; and gowns of silk, 

4O We Story of 

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 collar or 
tippet. On the whole, the dress of both men and women has 
greatly changed ; for at Ridgefield, as at less remote places, 
the people follow the fashions of London and Paris. 

The amusements were then much the same as at present, 
though some striking differences may be noted. Books and 
newspapers were then scarce, and were read respectfully, and 
as if they were grave matters, demanding thought and atten- 
tion. They were not toys and pastimes, taken up every day, 
and by everybody, in the short intervals of labour, and then 
hastily dismissed, like waste paper. The aged sat down when 
they read, and drew forth their spectacles, and put them deli- 
berately and reverently upon the nose. 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 " Training- 
day;" the latter deriving, from the still lingering spirit of 
the revolutionary war, a decidedly martial character. The 
marching of the troops, and the discharge of gunpowder, 
which invariably closed the exercises, were glorious and in- 
spiring 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, and 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 com- 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 41 

mon even with, respectable farmers. Marriages were cele- 
brated in the evening, at the house of the bride, with a general 
gathering of the neighbourhood, and were usually finished off 
by dancing. Everybody went, as to a public exhibition, 
without invitation. Funerals generally drew large processions, 
which proceeded to the grave. Here the minister always 
made an address suited to the occasion. If there were any- 
thing remarkable in the history of the deceased, it was turned 
to religious account in the next Sunday's sermon. Singing- 
meetings, to practise 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 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. But in our society these existed without being felt 
as a privilege to one, which must give offence to another. 

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 widows, and were well 
stricken in years when they came to visit us at Ridgefield, 
about the year 1803-4. My grandmother Ely was a lady of 
the old school, and sustaining the character in her upright 
carriage, her long, tapering waist, and her high-heeled shoes. 

42 'The Story of 

The costumes of Louis XV.'s time had prevailed in New 
York and Boston, and even at this period they still lingered 
there in isolated cases. It is curious enough, that at this time 
the female attire of a century ago is revived ; and every black- 
eyed, stately old lady, dressed in black silk, and showing her 
steel-grey hair beneath her cap, reminds me of my maternal 

My other grandmother was in all things the opposite : 
short, fat, blue-eyed, and practical; a good example of a 
hearty country dame. I scarcely know which of the two I 
liked the best. The first sang me plaintive songs, told me 
stories of the Revolution her husband, Col. Ely, having 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 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 grandmother 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 conviction that child- 
ren must be fed, and what she believed she practised. 

I recollect with great vividness the interest I took in the 
domestic events I have described. The operations of the 
farm had no great attractions for me. Ploughing, hoeing, 
digging, seemed to me mere drudgery, imparting no instruc- 
tion, and affording no scope for ingenuity or invention. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 43 

Mechanical operations, especially those of the weaver and 
carpenter, on the contrary, stimulated my curiosity, and ex- 
cited my emulation. Thus I soon became familiar with the 
carpenter's tools, and made such windmills, kites, and per- 
petual motions, as to win the admiration of my playmates, and 
excite the respect of my parents ; so that they seriously medi- 
tated putting me apprentice to a builder. Up to the age of 
fourteen, I think this was regarded as my manifest destiny. 
It was a day of great endeavours among all inventive geniuses. 
Fulton was struggling to develope steam navigation ; and other 
discoverers were seeking to unfold the wonders of art as well 
as of nature. It was, in fact, the very threshold of the era of 
steam-boats, railroads, electric telegraphs, and a thousand other 
useful discoveries, which have since changed the face of the 
world. In this age of excitement, perpetual motion was the 
great hobby of aspiring mechanics. I pondered and " whit- 
tled" intensely on this subject before I was ten years old. 
Despairing of reaching my object by mechanical means, I at- 
tempted 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 substance will 
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. 

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 foreigners and sketchers of 
American manners, as a peculiar characteristic of our people. 
No portrait of an American is deemed complete, unless with 

44 The Story of 

penknife and shingle in hand. I feel not the slightest dispo- 
sition to resent even this, among the thousand caricatures that 
pass for traits of American life. For my own part, I can tes- 
tify that, during my youthful days, I found the penknife a 
source of great amusement, and even of instruction. Many a 
long winter evening, many a dull, drizzly day, in spring, and 
summer, and autumn sometimes at the kitchen fireside, some- 
times in the attic, sometimes in a cosy nook of the barn, some- 
times in the shelter of a neighbouring 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 achieve- 
ments. This was not mere waste of time ; mere idleness and 
dissipation. I was amused: that was something. Some of 
the pleasantest remembrances of my childhood carry me back 
to the scenes I have just indicated ; when, in happy solitude, ab- 
sorbed in my mechanical devices, I listened to the rain patter- 
ing upon the roof, or the wind roaring down the chimney : thus 
enjoying a double bliss, a pleasing occupation, 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 mechanical powers, 
and my hand was educated to mechanical dexterity. 

If you ask me why it is that this important institution of 
whittling 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, labour 
is dear ; and therefore even children are led to supply them- 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 45 

selves with toys, or perchance to furnish some of the simpler 
articles of use to the household. This clearness of labour, 
moreover, furnishes a powerful stimulant to the production of 
labour-saving machines ; and hence it is through all these 
causes, co-operating one with another that steam -navigation, 
the electric telegraph, the steam-reaper, &c. &c., are American 
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 ! 

I must add, that in these early days I was a Nimrod, a 
mighty hunter : first with a bow and arrow, and afterwards 
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, bushy tail. The 
pigeons, in spring and autumn, migrated in countless flocks ; 
and many lingered in our woods for the season. 

Everybody was then a hunter; not, of course, a sports- 
man : for the chase was followed more for profit than for pas- 
time. Game was, in point of fact, a substantial portion of the 
supply of food at certain seasons of the year. All were then 
good shots, and my father was no exception : he was even 
beyond his generation in netting pigeons. This was not 
deemed a reproach at that time in a clergyman ; nor was he 

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

46 The Story of 

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 squabble, and then 
a good laugh; after which they divided the plunder, and 

The stories told by Wilson and Audubon as to the amazing 
quantity of pigeons in the West, were realised by us in Con- 
necticut half-a-century ago. I have seen, in the county of 
Fairfield, a stream of these noble birds pouring at brief in- 
tervals through the skies, from the rising to the setting sun. 
Of all the pigeon tribe, this of our country the passenger 
pigeon is the swiftest and most beautiful. 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 flavourless in 

I can recollect no sports of my youth which equalled in 
excitement our pigeon hunts, which generally took place in Sep- 
tember and October. We usually started on horseback before 
daylight, and made a rapid progress to some stubble-field on 
West Mountain. 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 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 47 

sublime images : the waking up of a world from sleep, the 
joyousness of birds and beasts in the return 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 sugges- 
tive sounds that stole through the dim twilight. As morning 
advanced, the scene was inconceivably beautiful : the mountain 
sides, clothed in autumnal 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 ; 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 w T ere ready, and our flyers 
and stool-birds on the alert. What moments 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 hun- 
dred of these splendid birds, come upon us, with a noise abso- 
lutely deafening. 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 

48 The Story of 

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. My perform- 
ances as a hunter were very moderate. In truth, I had a 
rickety old gun, that had belonged to my grandfather, and 
though it perhaps had done good service in the Revolution, or 
further back in the times of bears and wolves, it was now very 
decrepit, and all around the lock seemed to have the shaking 
palsy. Occasionally I met with adventures, half serious 
and half ludicrous. Once, in running my hand into a hole in 
a hollow tree, some twenty feet from the ground, being in 
search of a woodpecker, I hauled out a blacksnake. At an- 
other time, in a similar way, I had my fingers pretty sharply 
nipped by a screech-owl. My memory supplies me with 
numerous instances of this kind. 

As to fishing, I never had a passion for it : I was too im- 
patient. I had no enthusiasm for nibbles, and there were too 
many of these in proportion to the bites. I perhaps resembled 
a man by the name of Bennett, who joined the Shakers of New 
Canaan about these days, but soon left them, declaring that 
the Spirit was too long in corning "he could not wait." 
Nevertheless, I dreamed away some pleasant hours in angling 
in the brooks and ponds of my native town. I well remember, 
that on my eighth birthday I went four miles to Burt's mills, 
carrying on the old mare two bushels of rye. While my grist 
was being ground I angled in the pond, and carried home 
enough for a generous meal. 

Now all these things may seem trifles, yet in a review of 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 49 

my life I deem them of some significance. This homely 
familiarity with the more mechanical arts was a material part 
of my education : this communion with nature gave me in- 
structive and important lessons from nature's open book of 
knowledge. My technical education, as will be seen hereafter, 
was extremely narrow and irregular. This defect was at 
least partially supplied by the commonplace incidents I have 
mentioned. The teaching, or rather the training of the senses, 
in the country ear and eye, foot and hand, by running, 
leaping, climbing over hill and mountain, by occasional labour 
in the garden and on the farm, and by the use of tools, 
and all this in youth is sowing seed which is repaid largely 
and readily to the hand of after-cultivation, however unskilful 
it may be. This is not so much because of the amount of 
knowledge available in after-life, which is thus obtained 
though this is not to be despised as it is that healthful, 
vigorous, manly habits and associations, physical, moral, and 
intellectual, are thus established and developed. 

50 The Story of 







THE incidents I have just related occurred about the year 
1800 some a little earlier and some a little later. Among 
the events of general interest that happened 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 a mournful sense of loss, which seemed to 
cast a pall over the entire heavens. In Eidgefield the 
meeting-house was dressed in black, and we had a discourse 
pronounced by a Mr. Edmonds, 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 
proceedings in different parts of the country. Among other 
papers, he brought us a copy of the Connecticut Courant, 
which gave us the particulars of the rites and ceremonies 
which took place in Hartford in commemoration of the great 
man's decease. The celebrated hymn, written for the occasion 
by Theodore Dwight, sank into my mother's heart for she 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 5 1 

had a constitutional love of things mournful and poetic and 
she often repeated it, so that it became a part of the cherished 
lore of my childhood. 

I give you these scenes and feelings in some detail, to im- 
press you with the depth and sincerity of this mourning of 
the American nation, in cities and towns, in villages and ham- 
lets, for the death of Washington. 

I have already said that Ridgefield was on the great 
thoroughfare between Boston and New York, for the day of 
steamers and railroads had not 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, during the furious snow-storms, the journey was often 
protracted to seven, eight, or ten days. With such public 
conveyances, great people for even then the world was 
divided into the great and little, as it is now travelled in 
their own carriages. 

About this time it must have been in the summer of 
1804: I remember Jerome Bonaparte coming up to Keeler's 
tavern with a coach and four, attended 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 moment 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 movements, all were gossiped over, from Maine 
to Georgia, the extreme points of the Union. His entrance 
into Ridgefield produced a flutter of excitement, even there. 

52 The Story of 

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 interest, and the image 
never faded from my recollection. 

[Half a century later, I was one evening at the Tuileries, 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 decre- 
pitude." I was irresistibly chained to this object, as if a 
spectre had risen up through the floor and stood among the 
garish throng. My memory travelled back back among 
the winding labyrinths of years. Suddenly I found the clue : 
the stranger was Jerome Bonaparte ! 

Ah, what a history lay between the past and present a 
lapse of nearly fifty years. What a difference 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 
sceptreless an Invalid Governor of Invalids the puppet 
and pageant of an adventurer, whose power lay in the mere 
magic of a name.] 

About this time, as I well remember, Oliver Wolcott 
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 with ours. He was a great man 
then ; for not only are the Wolcotts traditionally and histo- 
rically a distinguished race in Connecticut, but he had re- 
cently been a member of Washington's cabinet. I mention 
him now only for the purpose of noting his deference to public 
opinion, characteristic of the eminent men of that day. In 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 53 

the morning lie went to church, but immediately after the 
sermon he had his horses brought up, and proceeded on his 
way. He, however, had requested my father to state to his 
people, at the opening of the afternoon service, that he was 
travelling on public business, and though he regretted it, he 
was obliged to continue his journey on the Sabbath. This 
my father did, but Deacon Olmstead, 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-Governor Treadwell arrived at Keeler's 
tavern on Saturday 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 appear- 
ance of the deacon, who was the very image of a patriarch 
or a prophet, that he deferred his departure till Monday. 

Although great people rode in their own carriages, the 
principal method of travelling was on horseback. Many of 
the members of Congress came to Washington in this way. 
I have a dim recollection of seeing 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, 1 set him down as a man of mark. In the evening, 
Lieutenant Smith came to our house and told us that Timothy 
Pickering had passed through the town ! He had seen him, 

54 The Story of 

and talked with him, and was vastly distended with the por- 
tentous news thereby acquired, including the rise and fall of 
empires 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 travellers met on the highway, they saluted each 
other with a certain dignified and formal courtesy. All 
children were regularly taught at school to " make their man- 
ners" to strangers ; the boys to bow, and the girls to courtesy. 
It was something different from the frank, familiar, " How are 
you, stranger ? " of the Far West ; something different from 
the " Bon jour, serviteur," of the Alps. Our salute was more 
measured and formal ; respect to age and authority being evi- 
dently an element of this homage, which was sedulously taught 
to the young. 

For children to salute travellers 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 culotte, perhaps a favourer of Jacobinism. 

But I must return to locomotion. In Bidgefield, in the 
year 1800, there was but a single chaise, and that belonged to 
Colonel Bradley, one of the principal citizens of the place. It 
was without a top, and had a pair of wide -spreading, asinine 
ears. That multitudinous generation of travelling vehicles, so 
universal and so convenient now such as top -waggons, 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 

Peter Parleys Own Life. 55 

who had occasion to go from town to town went on horse- 
back; all clergymen, except perhaps Bishop Seabury, who 
rode in a coach, travelled in the same way. My father's 
people, who lived at a distance, came to church on horseback ; 
their wives and daughters being seated on pillions behind 
them. In a few cases as in spring-time, when the mud was 
bottomless the farm waggon was used for transporting the 

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 beautiful winters, which 
would drive me shivering to the fireside now : what vivid de- 
light have I had in their slidings and skatings, their sleddings 
and sleighings ! 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 Lacka- 
wanna coal ; yet we lived, and comfortably, too : nay, we even 
changed burly winter into a season of enjoyment. 

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 imagine, a coach, or any kind 
of pleasure -vehicle that crazy old chaise excepted in the 

56 The Story of 

county of Fairfield, out of the two half-shire towns. Such 
things, indeed, were known at New York, Boston, and Phila- 
delphia; for already the government had laid a tax upon 
pleasure conveyances : but they were comparatively few in 
number, and were mostly imported. In 1798 there was but 
one public hack in New Haven, and but one coach ; the latter, 
belonging to Pierpoint Edwards, was a large, four-wheeled 
vehicle, for two persons, called a chariot. In the smaller 
towns there were no pleasure vehicles in use throughout New 

About that time there came to our village a man by the 
name of Jesse 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 neighbouring woods. These were sawed and 
seasoned, and shaped into wheels and shafts. Thomas Haw- 
ley, 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 admiration of our family. What a gaze was 
there, as this vehicle went through Kidgefield 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 waggon -builder ; and thus 
in due time an establishment was founded, which for many 
years was noted for the beauty and excellence of its pleasure 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 57 







RIDGEFIELD, 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 
capital has similar divisions ; West End being always the 
residence of the aristocracy, and East End of the canaille. 

Ridgefield, being a village, had a right to follow its own 
whim ; and therefore West Lane, instead of being the aristo- 
cratic 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 honours of an 
academy. At the age of ten years I was sent here, the in- 
stitution being then, and for many years after, under the charge 
of Master Stebbins. He was a man with a conciliating stoop 

58 The Story of 

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 eyes were blue, and his dress invariably of 
the same colour. Breeches and knee-buckles, blue-mixed 
stockings, 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 time ; and he was, in fact, what he seemed. 

This seminary of learning for the rising aristocracy of 
Ridgefield 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, fronted by a continuous writing-desk. Beneath 
were depositories for books and writing materials. The centre 
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 abecedarians were seated in the 
centre. The master was enshrined on the east side of the 
room, and, regular as the sun, he was in his seat at nine 
o'clock, and the performances of the school began. 

According to the Catechism, which 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 
arithmetic, 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 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 59 

his work ; and so, what he pretended to teach, he taught well. 
When I entered the school, I found that a huge stride had 
been achieved in the march of mind since I 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 sometimes go off in 
a voice as grum as that of a bull-frog, while another would 
follow in tones as fine and piping as a peet-weet. The blunders, 
too, were often very 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 missed, went down ; so that 
perfection mounted to the top. Here was the beginning of 
the up and down of life. 

Reading was performed in classes, which generally plodded 
on without a hint from the master. Nevertheless, when Zeek 
Sanford who was said to have " a streak of lightning in 
him" in his haste to be smart, read the 37th verse of the 
2nd chapter of the Acts, " Now when they heard this, they 
were pickled in their heart," the birch stick on Master 
Stebbins's table 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, &oa, s h u n t s, shunts, 
konshunts," the bristles in the master's eyebrows fidgeted, 
like Aunt Delight's knitting-needles. Occasionally, when the 
reading was insupportably bad, he took a book, and himself 
read as an example. 

Master Stebbins was a great man with a slate and pencil, 

60 The Story of 

and I have an idea that we were a generation after his own 
heart. We certainly achieved wonders in arithmetic, according 
to our own conceptions, some of us going even beyond the 
Eule of Three, and making forays into the mysterious region 
of Vulgar Fractions. 

But, after all, penmanship was Master Stebbins' great ac- 
complishment. He had no pompous lessons upon single lines 
and bifid lines, and the like. The revelations of inspired 
copy-book makers had not then been vouchsafed to man. He 
could not cut an American eagle with a single flourish of a 
goose-quill. He was guided 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 pro- 
verbs 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 en- 
forced, nearly all became good writers. 

Beyond these simple elements, the Up-town school made 
few pretensions. When I was there, two Webster's Gram- 
mars and one or two Dwight's Geographies were in use. The 
latter was without maps or illustrations, and was, in fact, little 
more than an expanded table of contents, taken from Morse's 
Universal Geography the mammoth monument of Ame- 
rican 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 depths. They 
floundered about in it, as if in a quagmire, and after some 
time came out pretty nearly where they went in, though per- 
haps a little confused by the din and dusky atmosphere of 
these labyrinths. 

Let me here repeat an anecdote, which I have indeed told 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 61 

before, but which I had from the lips of its hero, 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 
Ridgefield, he was put into Webster's Grammar. Here he 
read, " A noun is the name of a thing as horse, hair, jus- 
tice." Now, in his innocence, he read it thus : " A noun is 
the name of a thing as horse -hair justice." 

" 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. NQW, 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 descended to him a 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, greatly delighted " my father is a horse-hair 
justice, and therefore a noun ! " 

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 English 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 calling, and 
were respected and encouraged by the community. They 
had this merit, that while they attempted little, that, at least, 
was thoroughly performed. 

62 The Story of 

I went steadily to the Up-town school for three winters ; 
being occupied during the summers upon the farm, and in 
various minor duties. I was a great deal on horseback, often 
carrying messages to the neighbouring towns of Reading, 
Wilton, Weston, 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 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 in- 
tense energy of the beast's movements, the rush of the air, the 
swimming backward of lands, houses, and trees, with the clat- 
tering 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 lifetime. 

You must know that Deacon Benedict, one of our neigh- 
bours, had a fellow living with him named Abijah. He was 
an adventurous youth, and more than once led me into tribu- 
lation. 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 
creature close to the cow-house, behind 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 morn- 
ing it was found that he had shot the brindled cow ; mis- 
taking a white spot in her forehead for the dog, he had taken 
deadly aim, and put the whole charge into her pate. Fortu- 
nately her skull was thick and the shot small, so the honest 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 63 

creature was only a little cracked. Bige, however, was ter- 
ribly 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. Ripley, of Greensfarms. 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. Away we went, I hold- 
ing 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, al- 
though he belonged to a doctor of divinity, and looked as if he 
believed in total depravity. When he finally broke into a 
gallop 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 seconds, and 
as I recovered it with a gasping effort, my sensations were in- 
describably agonising. 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, 
however, I might have forgotten, had not the concussion made 
an indelible impression on my memory, thus perpetuating the 
wholesome counsel. 

64 2~fo Story of 

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." This was the substance of my achieve- 
ments at Sackett' s seminary. 

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 continued for a series of years. It 
might seem natural that I should have shared in these advan- 
tages ; but, in the first place, my only and elder brother, 
Charles A. Goodrich now widely known by his numerous 
useful publications had been destined for the clerical pro- 
fession, 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 ho- 
noured calling to which father, grandfather, and great-grand- 
father 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 
anything of the kind for me. And, besides, I had manifested 
no love of study, and evidently preferred action to books. 
Moreover, it must be remembered, that I was regarded as a 
born carpenter, and it would have seemed tempting 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. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 65 

I could read, write, and cipher ; this was sufficient for my 
ambition, 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 clergy- 
men who visited us, and, above all, I listened to the long 
discourses of Lieutenant Smith upon matters and things in 
general. My father, too, had a brother in Congress, from 
whom he received letters, documents, and messages, all of 
w r hich became subjects of discussion. I remember, further, 
that out of some childish imitation, 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 patulte recubans sub tegminefagi 


Arma, arms virumque, and the man cano, 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 a^xy, the beginning v, was a Xo-yos, the Word 

.was also among the cabalistic jingles in my memory. All 
this may seem nothing as a matter of education ; still, some 
years after, while I was an apprentice in Hartford, feeling 
painfully impressed with the scantiness of my knowledge, I 
borrowed some Latin school-books, under the idea of attempt- 
ing to master that language. To my delight and surprise, I 

66 The Story of 

found that they seemed familiar to me. Thus encouraged, 
I began, and bending steadily over my task at evening, when 
my day's duties were over, I made my way nearly through 
the Latin Grammar and the first two books of Virgil's ^Eneid. 
In my poverty of knowledge, even these acquisitions became 
useful to me. 

From the age of twelve to fifteen, though generally occu- 
pied in the various 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 Ridgefield 
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 regions 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 wist- 
ful glances over the blue vale that stretched out for many 
miles to the westward. I had always my gun in hand, and 
though not insensible to any sport that might fall in my way, 
I was more absorbed in the fancies that came thronging to my 
imagination. 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 re- 
sidence of a strange woman, who had devoted herself to solitude, 
and was known under the name of " the Hermitess." This 
personage I had occasionally seen in our village ; and I fre- 
quently met her as she glided through the forests, while I was 
pursuing my mountain rambles. I sometimes felt a strange 
thrill as she passed ; but this only seemed to render the recesses 
where she dwelt still more inviting. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 67 

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 pleasure in the shadows, as well as 
the lights, of life and imagination. Eminently practical as she 
was laborious, skilful, and successful in the duties which 
Providence had assigned her, as the head of a large family, 
with narrow means she was still of a poetic temperament. 
Her lively fancy was vividly set forth by a pair of the finest 
eyes I have ever seen ; dark and serious, yet tender and senti- 
mental. These bespoke, not only the vigour of her concep- 
tions, but the melancholy 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 afterwards brightening 
to all around. She was not the only woman who has felt 
better after a good cry. It was, in fact, a poetic, not a real 
sorrow, that thus excited her emotions; for her prevailing 
humour abounded in wit and vivacity, not unfrequently taking 
the hue of playful satire. Nevertheless, her taste craved the 
pathetic, the mournful ; not as a bitter medicine, but a spicy 
condiment. Her favourite 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. 

You will gather, from what I have said, that my father 
not only prayed in his family night and morning, but before 
breakfast, and immediately after the household was assembled 
he always read a chapter in the sacred volume. It is recorded 
in our family Bible, that he read it 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 

68 fhe Story of 

voice ; so that I was deeply interested, and thus early became 
familiar with almost every portion of the Old and New 

The practice of family worship, as I before stated, was at 
this time very general in New England. In Ridgefield, it 
was not altogether confined to the strictly religious ; to clergy- 
men, 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 consequence 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 ah 1 things had prospered with him. His widow, 
alike from religious feeling and affectionate regard for his me- 
mory, desired that everything should be conducted as much 
as possible as it had been during his lifetime. 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 he was not a re- 
ligious man. In vain did the widow, in admitting his merits 
at the plough, the scythe, and the flail, still urge him to crown 
her wishes, by leading in family prayer. For a long time the 
heart of the man was hard, and his ear deaf to her 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 parlour, men and maidens, 
for their devotions. When all was ready, Ward, in a low, 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 69 

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 Presbyterian, Methodist, 
Universallst, and Episcopalian he went on with great elo- 
quence, gradually elevating his tone and accelerating his deli- 
very. 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. Placing herself directly in front of the speaker, she ex- 
claimed, "Ward, what do you mean?" 

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

I must not pass over another incident having reference to the 
topic in question. Under the biblical influence of those days 
my father's scholars built a temple of the Philistines, and when 
it was eompleted within and witho'ut, all the children round 
about assembled, as did the Gazaites of old. The edifice was 
chiefly of boards, slenderly constructed, and reached the height 
of twelve feet ; nevertheless, all of us got upon it, according to 
the 16th 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 !" said he, and bowing him- 
self, down we came in a heap ! Strange to say, nobody but 

jo The Story of 

Samson was hurt, and he only in some sMn bruises. If you could 
see him now dignified even to solemnity, and seldom con- 
descending to any but the gravest matters you would scarcely 
believe the story, even though I write it and verify it. Never- 
theless, 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 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 71 




BEFORE I complete my narrative so far as it relates to Ridge- 
field, I should state that in the olden time a country minister's 
home was a ministers' tavern, and therefore I saw at our house, 
at different periods, most of the orthodox or Congregational 
clergymen belonging to that part of the State. My father 
frequently exchanged with those of the neighbouring 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 
paternal grandfather, continued in the same family one hundred 
and twenty-six consecutive years. A short time since we 
reckoned among our relations, not going beyond the degree of 
second cousin, more than a dozen ministers of the Gospel, and 
all of the same creed. 

As to the clergy of Fairfield county, my boyish impres- 
sions of them were, that they were of the salt of the earth ; 
nor has a larger experience altered my opinion. If I some- 
times indulge a smile at the recollection of particular traits of 

72 The Story of 

character, or more general points of manners significant of the 
age, I still regard them with affection and reverence. 

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 fes- 
tivity which naturally 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 behind the barn to gather tansy for 
their morning bitters. They dearly loved a joke, and relished 
anecdotes, especially if they bore a little hard upon the cloth. 
. The following will suffice as a specimen of the stories they 
delighted in. 

Once upon a time there was a clergyman the Rev. Dr. 

T , 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 
almost 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 Rev. 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 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 73 

town, and on a Sabbath morning was about to enter upon the 
services of the church. At the 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 commence the reading of the 
Scriptures, I cast a glance 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 constitutionally 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 tempt- 
ation 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 re- 

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 eccentric, were exemplifications of our 
race and our society, influenced by peculiar circumstances, and 
showing into what fashions this stuff of humanity may be 
wrought. They are still prominent in my recollection, and 
seem to me an essential part of the social landscape which en- 
circled my youth. 

I begin with the three deacons of my father's parish. 
First was Deacon Olmstead, full threescore years and ten at 
the opening of the present century. His infancy touched 

74 The Story of 

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 father 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 pro- 
genitor 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. 

Deacon Olmstead was in all things a noble specimen of 
humanity an honour to human nature, a shining light in 
the church. I have spoken of him as having 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 encircled 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 profited 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 neighbour, toward the poor, toward the 


Peter Parley's Own Life. j$ 

suffering, though not so soft, he was sympathetic as a sister 
of charity. 

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, he was the father of 
Aunt Delight, of whom I desire 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 administered 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 police of the 
meeting-house on Sunday, and not a boy or girl, or even a 
bumblebee, could offend without condign punishment. 

Nevertheless, the Deacon is said in one case rather before 
my time to have met his match. There was in the village 
a small, smart, nervous woman, with a vigorous clack, which, 
once set going, was hard to stop. One day she was at church, 
and having carried her dinner of mince-pie in a little cross- 
handled basket, she set 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, taking with him the dinner -basket, 
hung about his neck, 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 in meeting - time ! 

76 The Story of 

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

"Hold yonr 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-hound volume 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. 

Deacon Hawley was very unlike either of his two asso- 
ciates 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 
chorister by choice, and a deacon by the vote of the church. 
In each of these things he found his place, as if designed for it 
by nature. 

In worldly affairs as well as spiritual, Deacon Hawley's 
path was straight and even : he was successful in business, 
beloved in society, honoured in the church. Exceedingly 
frugal by habit and disposition, he still loved to give in cha- 
rity, though he did not talk of it. When he was old, his 
family being well provided for, he spent much of his time in 
casting about to find opportunities of doing good. Once he 
learned that a widow, who had been in good circumstances, 
was struggling with poverty. He was afraid to offer money 
as charity, for fear of wounding her pride the more sensi- 
tive, perhaps, because of her change of condition. He there- 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 77 

fore intimated that lie owed a debt of fifty dollars to her late 
husband, 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 looking over the account, and find that 
I rather overcharged 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 di<J not pause to reply, 
but laid the money on the table and departed. 

The term deacon is associated in many minds with a 
sort of affectation, a cant in conversation, and an I -am -holier- 
than-thou air and manner. I remember Deacon , who 

deemed it proper to become scriptural, and to talk as much as 
possible like Isaiah. He was in partnership with his son 
Laertes, 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 him- 
self 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 signalise himself by a special respect to the 

ways of Providence ; so he refused to be insured against fire, 
declaring that if the Lord wished to burn down his house or 
his barn he should submit without a murmur. He pretended 
to consider thunder, and lightning, and conflagrations as spe- 
cial acts of the Almighty, and it was distrusting Providence 
to attempt to avert their effects. Deacon Hawley had none of 

78 fhe Story 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 neighbour, and, accord- 
ing to his rank in life, a gentleman, having in all things the 
feelings and manners appropriate to each of these relations. 

From the ecclesiastical notabilities of Ridgefield I turn for a 
moment to the secular. And first, Colonel Bradley claims my 
notice, for he was the leading citizen 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 recol- 
lection, for he was then well stricken in years. He lived in a 
two -story white house, of ample dimensions, which 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. 

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 garden 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. Every- 
body peeped from the windows into everybody's grounds. 

Colonel Bradley was an exclusive. His cold, distant 
manner bespoke it. He was, I believe, an honourable man. 
He was a man of education, and held high offices. He was, 

Peter Parley's Own Life. *jg 

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, to follow in his foot- 
steps. Affecting to disdain all meddling, he really contrived, 
openly or covertly, to govern the church and the town. 

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, medi- 
tative, secret, deep, cold, circumspect; the latter was un- 
schooled, yet intelligent; frank, though perhaps superficial; 
imperious, yet fearless and confiding. Colonel Bradley was a 
federalist ; General King a democrat. These two, indeed, 
were the leaders of the two great political parties in Ridge- 

If I were to be asked what made General King a demo- 
crat, I should be at a loss to answer. He was fond of autho- 
rity : 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 General Jackson's. Like him, he had 
a decidedly military air and character. He was, no doubt, a 
very good man on the whole, but he was not imbued with 
any special sympathy for the masses, or the rights of man. 
His natural disposition was dictatorial and despotic. It is 
related that one day he came into the field where his men 

8o Me Story of 

were making hay. A thunder-storm was approaching, and 
he commanded the labourers 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, who was present, said in 
an undertone, 

"I'm thankful the Lord reigns." 

" Why so ?" said a bystander. 

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

Peter Parley's Own Life. 8 1 







ANOTHER celebrity in Ridgefield, whom I must not forget, 
was Matthew Olmstead, or Mat Olmstead, as he was usually 
called ; he was a day labourer, and though his specialty was 
the laying of stone fences, he was equally 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, how- 
ever, by more of mirth than malice. This feature was indica- 
tive of his mind and character ; for he was sharp in speech, 
and affected a crisp, biting 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 of his manner, 
even if it originated elsewhere. 

On a cold, stormy day in December, a man chanced to 
come into the bar-room of Keeler's tavern, where Mat Olm- 
stead and several of his companions were lounging. The 


82 the Story of 

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 immediately detected the 
weakness of the stranger ; so he approached him, and said, 

" What a very nice hat you 've got on ! Pray who made 

" 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 hum ?" 

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

" Sartain sure ; I '11 bet you a mug of flip of it." 

" Well, I'll stand you!" 

" Done : now I '11 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, crumpled mass of cinders. 

" I du declare," said Mat Olmstead, affecting great aston- 
ishment, " it ain't a salamander hat arter all ! Well, I '11 pay 
the flip!" 

Yet wit is not always wisdom. Keen as this man was as 
to things immediately before him, he was of narrow under- 
standing. He seemed not to possess the faculty of reasoning 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 83 

beyond his senses. He never would admit that the sun was 
fixed, and that the world turned round. 

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 invited 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, my father explained the cause and nature of the 

Mat laughed with that low, scoffing chuckle, with which 
a woodcock, safe in his den, replies to the bark of a besieging 

" So you don't believe this ?" said my father. 

" No," said Mat, shaking his head ; " I don't believe a 
word of it. You say, Parson 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 fellowship of ig- 

84 fhe Story of 

norance, to receive the argument. Being thus successful, Mat 
went on, 

" Now, Parson Goodrich, let 's try it again. If you turn 
a thing that 's got water in it bottom up, the water '11 run out, 
won' tit?" 

" No doubt." 

" If the world turns round, then, your well will be turned 
bottom up, and the water '11 run out I " 

At this point my father applied his eye to the sun, 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, and bore on his face an air of supreme con- 
tempt; as much as to say, " You don't humbug me !" 

But ignorance and denial of the works of God do not in- 
terrupt 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 dim- 
ness fell over the world. It was mid-day, yet it seemed like 
the approach of night. All nature seemed chilled and awed 
by the strange phenomenon. 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." 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 85 

I well remember this phenomenon the first of the kind 
I had ever witnessed. Though occupied by this seeming con- 
flict of the heavenly bodies, I recollect to have paid some at- 
tention to the effect of the scene upon others. Mat Olm stead 
said not a word ; the other workmen were overwhelmed with 
emotions of awe. 

At length, the eclipse began to pass away, and nature 
slowly returned to her equanimity. The birds came forth, 
and sang a jubilee, as if relieved from some impending cala- 
mity. The hum of life again filled the air ; the old hen with 
her brood gaily resumed her rambles, and made the leaves and 
gravel fly with her invigorated scratchings. The workmen, 
too, having taken a glass of grog, returned thoughtfully to 
their labours. 

" 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 

" Well, perhaps he was," said Mat ; " but then Joshua 
was wrong." 

Notwithstanding Mat'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. These were of 
enormous size*, white and winged like angels. He had seen 
them one dark night as he was going to his house, which was 
situated in a lonesome lane that diverged from the high road. 
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." Well, Mat Olmstead's two angels turned out to be 
a couple of white geese, which he had startled into flight 
as he stumbled upon them quietly snoozing in the joint of a 
rail fence ! 

86 The Story of 

It has often appeared to me that Mat Olmstead was a 
type, a representative of a class of men not very rare in this 
world of ours. It is not at all uncommon to find people, and 
those w^ho are called strong-minded, who are habitual un- 
believers in things possible 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 egregious 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 implicit faith some 
goose of the imagination, like Joe Smith or Brigham 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, who has been already intro- 
duced to you. He was a man of 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 expe- 
rience. He read the newspapers and conversed with travellers, 
affected philosophy, and deemed himself the great intelligencer 
of the town : he dearly loved to dispense his learning, asking 
only in return attentive listeners ; and he liked discussion, 
provided the talk 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 Hamilton in the duel with Aaron 
Burr ; the attack of the Leopard on the Chesapeake ; Fulton's 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 87 

attempts at steam navigation, and the other agitating topics 
of those times, as they came one after another. 

I have an impression now 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 attention. These were always 
descriptive of actual events, for he would have disdained 
fiction : from them I derived 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 Lieut. Smith had 
at his tongue's end, excited my interest and my imagination, 
even beyond the romances of Sinbad the Sailor and Robinson 

In the year 1807 an event occurred, not only startling in 
itself, but giving exercise to all the philosophical powers of 
Lieut. 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 window a ball 
of fire, nearly the size of the moon, passing across the heavens 
from north-west to south-east. 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 

My father, who saw the light and heard the sounds, de- 
clared it to be a meteor of extraordinary magnitude. It was 
noticed all over the town, and caused great excitement. On 

88 The Story of 

the following day the news came that huge fragments of stone 
had fallen in the adjacent town of Weston, some eight or ten 
miles south-east of Bidgefield. It appeared that the people 
in the neighbourhood heard the rushing of the stones through 
the air, as well as the shock when they struck the earth. One, 
weighing two hundred pounds, fell on a rock, which it splin- 
tered ; its huge fragments ploughing up the ground around to 
the extent of a hundred feet. This meteor was estimated to 
be half-a-mile in diameter, and to have travelled 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 w r ont, and for several successive 
evenings discoursed to us upon the subject. I must endeavour 
to give you a specimen of his performances. 

" I have examined the subject, sir," said he, addressing 
my father, " and am inclined to the opinion that these phe- 
nomena 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 atmosphere with immense 
velocity, takes fire and explodes !" 

" 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 endowed with animal life, and especially with the 
capacity 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 ? " 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 89 

" Not necessarily a fish; for a whole order of nature, called 
Crustacea, has the hones on the outside. In this case of 
meteors, I suppose them to he covered with some softer sub- 
stance ; 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 
analyse 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 
elements ; that is, silex, iron, nickel, &c. None but my animal 
theory will harmonise all these phenomena, sir." 

" But/' interposed my father, " consider the enormous 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 
musketry, 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 vapour 
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, 
weighing from one ounce to seventeen pounds. That must 
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 ?" 

90 The Story of 

" He gave good reasons for it, sir. He found very striking 
analogies between the earth and animal existences : such as 
the tides, indicating its breathing through vast internal lungs ; 
earthquakes, resembling eructations from the stomach; and 
volcanoes, suggestive of boils, pimples, and other cutaneous 

" I think I have seen your theory set to verse." 
Saying this, my father rose, and bringing a book, read as 

" To me things are not as to vulgar eyes 
I would all nature's works anatomise : 
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 : 
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 
cannot commend the form in which it is put. If a man has 
* By Francis Hopkinson, LL.D, 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 91 

anything 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 powerful a supporter of my animal theory of me- 
teors. I shall consider the subject, and present it for the con- 
sideration of the philosophic world." 

One prominent characteristic of this philosopher was, that 
when a great event came about, he fancied that he had fore- 
seen and predicted it from the beginning. Now, about this 
time Fulton actually succeeded in his long-sought application 
of steam to navigation. The general opinion of the country 
had been, all along, that he was a monomaniac, attempting an 
impossibility. He was the standing theme of cheap news- 
paper wit, and a God-send to 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 labours, joined in 
the current contempt ; but when the news came, in October, 
1807, that he had actually succeeded that one of his boats 
had steamed 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 exclamation, 
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 history 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 precision the profound 
discourses of our Ridgefield savant; I remember only the 

92 'The Story of 

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 conceive 
to be a representative of the amiable, and perhaps useful race 
of fussy philosophers to be found in most country villages. 

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, thin, 
wiry, and bloodless, and having his body bent forward at a 
sharp angle with his hips, while his head was thrown back 
over his shoulders, giving his person the general form of a 
reversed letter Z. His complexion was brown and stony; his 
eye grey and twinkling, with a nose and chin almost meeting 
like a pair of forceps. His hair, standing out with an irri- 
table friz, was of a rusty grey. He always walked and 
rode with restless 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 roots of elecampane, 
which was indigenous in the lane near his house. On Sun- 
days he was decent in his attire, but on week-days he was a 
beggarly curiosity. 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 whitetops 
dangled over his shrunken calves, and a coat in tatters flut- 
tered from his body. He rode a rat-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, 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 93 

"There goes Granther Baldwin!" was the invariable ejacu- 

I must add, in order to complete the picture, that in con- 
trast to his leanness and activity, his wife was very fat, and, 
either from indolence or lethargy, dozed away half her life in 
the chimney-corner. She spent a large part of her life in 
cheating her husband out of fourpence -ha'pennies, of which 
more than a peck were found secreted in an old chest at her 

It was the boast of this man that he had risen from poverty 
to wealth, and he loved to describe the process of his advance- 
ment. 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 always 
regretted, as one of his neighbours 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 law 
imposed a fine of one dollar for profane swearing. During 
this period, Granther Baldwin employed a carpenter who was 
notoriously addicted to this vice. Granther kept a strict ac- 

94 fhe Story of 

count of every instance of transgression, and when the job was 
done, and the time came to settle the account, he said to the 

" You 've worked with me thirty days, I think, Mr. Kel- 

" 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 offence." 

"Yes, Granther." 

"Well here's the account I've kept, and I find you've 
broken the law twenty-five times ; that is, sixteen 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 dollars due to you. 
How '11 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 pro- 
digious effort at composure he replied, 

" Well, Granther, you may keep the five dollars, and I '11 
take it out in my way that is, in swearing !" 

Upon this he hurled at the old gentleman a volley of 
oaths, too numerous and to profane to repeat. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 95 

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. Nevertheless, Kidgefield 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, about 
four miles from our house. 

The rock, bare and desolate, was her home, except that 
occasionally she strayed to the neighbouring 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 partook of the Sacrament. She some- 
times visited our family the only one thus favoured in the 
town and occasionally remained overnight. She never would 
eat with us at the table, nor engage in general conversation. 
Upon her early history 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 exer- 
cises of the family : she listened intently to the reading of the 
Bible, and joined with apparent devotion in the morning and 
evening prayer. 

My excursions frequently brought me within the wild pre- 
cincts 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 

96 The Story of 

cave was a hollow in the rock, 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 fashion- 
able life : though I think this was an exaggeration. At a 
little distance down the ledge there was a fine spring of water, 
near 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 three of the adjacent forest-trees 
there clambered luxuriant grape-vines, highly productive in 
their season. With the exception of these feeble marks of cul- 
tivation, all was left ghastly and savage as nature made it. 
The trees, standing upon the tops of the cliff, and exposed to 
the shock of the tempest, were bent and stooping towards the 
valley: their limbs contorted, and their roots clinging, as with 
an agonised 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 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 97 

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 revelled alike 
in the dry hollows of the cliffs and the dank recesses of the 
valley. 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 fox fearlessly pursued his hunt and 
his gambols in her presence. The rattlesnake hushed his mo- 
nitory 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 rattlesnake, 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 efforts ; 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, pro- 
bably about the year 1823. 

The facts in respect to this Nun of the Mountain were, 
indeed, strange enough, without any embellishments of fancy. 
During the winter she was confined for several months 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 


98 The Story of 

even by her brute companions, she was absolutely alone. She 
appeared to have no sense of solitude, no weariness at the slow 
lapse of days and months. 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 colourless. 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 moun- 
tain, and found her standing erect, her feet sunk in the frozen 
marsh of the valley. In this situation, being unable to extri- 
cate herself, 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, however, was ascer- 
tained, that she was of good family, and lived on Long Island. 
During the Revolutionary war, in one of the numerous forays 
of the British soldiers, her father's house was burned, and 
she was most cruelly treated. Desolate in fortune, blighted 
at heart, she fled from human society, and for a long time 
concealed her sorrows in the cavern which she had acci- 
dentally found. Her grief softened by time, perhaps 
alleviated by a veil of insanity was at "length so far miti- 
gated, that, although she did not seek human society, she 
could endure it. 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 happier 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 99 





IN the autumn of the year 1808, a sudden change took place 
in my prospects. My eldest sister had married a gentleman 
by the name of Cooke, in the adjacent town of Danbury. 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 mechanical aptitudes, they accepted it at 
once, and at the age of fifteen I found myself installed in a 
country store. 

This arrangement gratified my love of change ; and at the 
same time, as Danbury was a much more considerable town 
than Ridgefield, going to live there naturally suggested the 
idea of advancement, especially as I was to exchange my un- 
certain prospects for a positive profession. However, I little 
comprehended 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 for ever. 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, 

ico 'The Story of 

lawns, play -grounds, Mil-sides 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 

" Farewell to home " implies something even yet more 
serious : we relinquish, and often with exultation, the tender care 
of parents, in order to take upon ourselves the responsibilities of 
independence. What seeming infatuation it is, that renders 
us thus impatient of the guidance of those who gave us being, 
and makes us at the same time anxious to spread our untried 
sails upon an untried sea, to go upon a voyage which involves 
all the chances, evil as well as good, of existence ! And yet it 
is not infatuation it is instinct. We cannot always be 
young ; we cannot all remain under the paternal roof. The 
old birds push the young ones from the nest, and force them 
to a trial of 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 endues us with courage for the outset of our 
uncertain career. 

I was not long in discovering that my new vocation 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 in the open air. I was accustomed 
to be frequently on horseback, and to make excursions to the 
neighbouring towns. I had also enjoyed much personal 
liberty, which I failed not to use in rambling over the fields 
and forests. All this was now changed. My duties lay ex- 
clusively in the store, and this seemed now my prison. From 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 101 

morning to night I remained there, and, as our business was 
not large, I had many hours upon my hands with nothing to 
do but to consider the weariness of my situation. My bro- 
ther-in-law was always present, and being a man of severe 
aspect and watchful eyes, I felt a sort of restraint, which, for 
a time, was agonising. I had, consequently, pretty sharp 
attacks of homesickness ; a disease which, though not dan- 
gerous, is one of the most distressing to which suffering hu- 
manity is exposed. 

This state of misery continued for some weeks, during 
which time I revolved various plans of escape from my con- 
finement : such as stealing away at night, making my way to 
Norwalk, getting on board a sloop, and going as cabin-boy to 
the West Indies. I believe that a small impulse would have 
set me upon some such mad expedition. By degrees, how- 
ever, I became habituated to my occupation, and as my situa- 
tion was eligible 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 cha- 
racter : the former, Colonel 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 
interest in passing events. Never have I seen a more pleasing 
spectacle than this reverend couple, at the age of fourscore, 
both smoking their pipes in the evening, with two generations 
of their descendants around them. 

My brother-in-law was a man of decided character, and 
his portrait deserves a place in these annals. He had gra- 

102 The Story of 

duated 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 which his father had kept before him. 
Being in easy circumstances, he made no great efforts m busi- 
ness. Though, as I have said, he was of stern aspect, and 
his manners were somewhat cold and distant, his character 
was that of a just and kind man. In business he treated 
people 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 religious turn of mind, not merely performing 
the accustomed duties of a Christian, but making devotional 
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 cul- 
tivated 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. 

This person was a frequent visitor to the store, and the 
long winter which commenced soon after I entered upon my 
apprenticeship was not a little enlivened by his conversations 
with my master. It frequently happened during the deep 
snows, that the day passed without a single customer, and on 
these occasions Lawyer Hatch was pretty sure to pay us a 
visit. It was curious to see these two men, so opposite in cha- 
racter, attracted to each other as if by contradiction. My 
brother-in-law evidently found a pleasant relaxation in the 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 103 

conversation of Ms neighbour, embellished with elegant wit 
and varied learning, while the latter derived equal gratifica- 
tion from the serious, manly intellect of his friend. In general 
the former was the talker, and the latter the listener ; yet some- 
times the conversation became discussion, and a keen trial of 
wit versus logic ensued. The lawyer always contended for 
victory; my brother-in-law for the truth. 

The precise form of these conversations has vanished from 
my mind, but some of the topics remain. I recollect long 
talks about the embargo, non-intercourse, and other Jeffer- 
sonian measures, which were treated with unsparing ridicule 
and reproach ; anecdotes and incidents of Napoleon, who ex- 
cited 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 in- 
terest and attention. The frequent references to Shakspeare 
in these conversations led me to look into his works, and, 
incited by the recommendations of my sister, I read them 
through, somewhat doggedly, seeking even to penetrate the 
more difficult and obscure passages. 

It frequently happened that my master, owing to the in- 
fluence of disease, was affected with depression of spirits ; and 
the lawyer's best wit and choicest stories were expended with- 
out even exciting a smile. Not discouraged, but rather stimu- 
lated by such adversity, 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 

IO4 fhe Story of 

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 endeavour 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 anecdotes are about 
clergymen. The reason perhaps is, that incongruity is the 
source of humorous associations ; 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 demeanour, of which the black coat is the 
emblem. A spot upon this strikes every eye, while a brown 
coat, being the colour 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 happens to a parson. I have heard that on a certain 

occasion, as the Rev. J M was about to read a 

hymn, he saw a little boy sitting behind the chorister 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 chorister's head. This so disconcerted the 
minister, that 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. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 105 

A young fellow in the gallery above, directly over him, took 
a quid of tobacco from his mouth, and taking a careful 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 

" You know the Rev. Dr. 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 parishioners, who, some years 
before, had removed to that place. As he was about to pass 
it, he remembered 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 painful 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 suffered.' 

" ' 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 

io6 The Story of 

is amusing. Some years ago lie 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 neighbouring town, and com- 
menced paying her his addresses. This naturally absorbed 
much of his time and attention, and his parish became dis- 
satisfied. 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 Sabbath morning, on going to church, 
the deacon overtook the parson, and the following dialogue 

" l Good morning, Dr. B .' 

" ' Good morning, Deacon Becket.' 

" ' Well, Doctor, I'm glad to meet you ; for I wanted to 
say to you as how I thought of changing my pew ! ' 

" ' Indeed ! And why so ? ' 

" ' Well, I '11 tell you. I sit, as you know, clear over the 
backside of the meeting-house ; and between 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 plaguy poor stuff!' " 

My brother-in-law could hold out no longer : his face was 
agitated for a moment with nervous spasms ; and then, bend- 
ing 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 interested 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 107 

by these conversations and diseussions ; and always felt not a 
little annoyed, if perchance, as sometimes happened, I was 
called away in the midst of a good story, or a keen debate, to 
supply a customer with a gallon of treacle, or a paper of pins. 
I know not if this disgusted me with 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 recollect, did I for one 
moment enter heartily into its spirit. I was always, while I 
continued in it, a mere servile labourer ; doing my duty, per- 
haps, 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 business in consequence 
of ill-health ; and we had a new clerk, 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 in- 
dulgent friend. He afterwards settled in Troy, where he is 
still living, in the enjoyment of an ample fortune, and an ex- 
cellent reputation as a father, friend, Christian, and neigh- 
bour ; the natural fruit of good sense, good temper, and good 

io8 'The Story of 





IN the summer of 1809 I made a short tour with my brother- 
in-law and my sister, for the health of 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, 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 percep- 
tions, that I could fill a book with recollections of that short, 
simple journey ; the whole circuit not exceeding one hundred 
and twenty miles. 

I was duly impressed with the beauty of New Haven; 
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 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 109 

more inviting ; especially to one whose judgment is cultivated 
by observation and study, and whose feelings are chastened 
by reflection and experience. There is something of the ac- 
tivity and bustle of commerce in a part of the town, and at 
one point, all the spasm of a railway station. In other por- 
tions of the place, and over 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 in- 
stitutions which now afdorn 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 grandfather and his five sons had all 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. Many things here ex- 
cited my admiration. I looked with particular interest I 
may add, with some degree of envy at the students, who 
seemed to me the privileged 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 antici- 
pations fulfilled. 

Next to the College I visited the Bay, and for the first 
time actually stood upon the shore of that living sea which, 
through my whole childhood, had spread its blue bosom before 
me in the distant horizon. 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 

no The Story of 

enchanting ; it was 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 entrancement, at 
its heaving and swelling surface : I ran my eye far away, till 
it met the line where sky and wave are blended together : I fol- 
lowed the lulling surf as it broke, curling and winding, among 
the mimic bays of the rocky shore. It was a spectacle, not 
only full of beauty in itself, but to me it was a revelation and 
a fulfilment of the thousand half-formed fancies which had 
been struggling in my longing bosom from very childhood. 

Our party was so occupied with our contemplations, that 
we had scarcely noticed a thunder-storm, which now ap- 
proached and menaced us from the west. We set out to re- 
turn, 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, it 
seemed as if agitated by a demon, threatening everything 
with destruction that came within its scope. By a severe 
struggle we succeeded in reaching Long Walk, though not 
without risk. 

While staying at New Haven, I met many distinguished 
men ; as the house of my uncle, Elizur Goodrich, was fre- 
quented by all the celebrities of the place. Among these was 
Eli Whitney ; to whose invention of the cotton-gin,* America 
may almost be said to owe her cotton trade. Whitney's first 
gin was made in 1793, at which time almost the whole of our 
raw material was imported. The results of his invention may 
be estimated by the fact, that while in 1789 only one million 

* The gin is a machine for combing out the seeds from the cotton 
in its raw state. 


Peter Parley's Owy Life. in 

pounds of cotton were produced in the United States, the pro- 
duct of the year 1855 exceeded fourteen hundred millions ! 

We saw the original model of Mr. Whitney's gin at his 
gun-factory, which was situated in a wild, romantic spot, near 
the foot of East Rock, and about two miles distant from New 

Having spent about a week at New Haven, we proceeded 
to Durham, an old-fashioned, sleepy town, of a thousand in- 
habitants. It is chiefly remarkable for the distinguished men 
it has produced the Chaunceys, celebrated in the annals of 
New England, and, I may add, in those 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 
senate; the Austins father and son to whose talent and 
enterprise Texas owes her position as a member of the Union. 

To this list of remarkable names, I trust I may add that 
of the Goodriches, without the imputation of egotism, for his- 
torical 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 succeeded to my 
grandfather's pulpit. 

I trust I have all due respect for my paternal grandmother, 
who has already, by the way, been introduced to your notice. 
She was now quite lame, but active, energetic, and alive to 
everything that was passing. She welcomed me heartily, and 
took the best care of me in the world, lavishing upon me, 
without stint, all the treasures of her abundant larder. As to 

1 1 2 The Story of 

her Indian puddings alas, I shall never see their 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 rising up around her. When she 
saw me eating with a good appetite, her benignant grand- 
motherly face beamed like a lantern. 

As to my uncle and aunt Smith, I may remark that they 
were plain, pious people, the former worthily filling the pulpit 
of my grandfather, and enjoying a high degree of respect, 
alike from his position and character. Besides attending to his 
parochial duties, he prepared young men for college. Among 
his pupils were several persons who attained distinction. As 
a man, he was distinguished for his cheerful, frank, friendly 
manners : as a preacher, he was practical, sincere, and suc- 
cessful. I must mention a story of him, among my pulpit 
anecdotes. As sometimes happens, in a congregation of 
farmers during midsummer, it once chanced that a large 
number of his people, even the deacons in the sacramental 
seat, fell asleep in the very midst of the sermon. The mi- 
nister looked around, and just at this moment, the only person 
who seemed quite awake was his eldest son, David, sitting in 
the pew by the side of the pulpit. Pausing a moment, and 
looking down upon his son, he exclaimed, in a powerful voice : 

" David, wake up ! " 

In a moment the whole congregation roused themselves, 
and long did they remember the rebuke. 

During our stay at Durham, my brother-in-law was so ill 
as to need the advice of a skilful physician. Accordingly, I 
was despatched on horseback to Middletown, a distance of 
eight or ten miles, for Dr. , then famous in all the 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 113 

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 his profession traversed the country on horseback, carrying 
with them a collection of pills, powders, and elixirs, equivalent 
to an apothecary's shop. 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. , but a sudden bashfulness seized me : 

the propitious moment passed, and I went on. 

On arriving at the house of Dr. , I learned that he 

had gone to a village in the south-western 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, reflec- 
tion was vain. I followed to the designated spot, and there I 
found that he had left about half an hour before, for another 
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 to heart, and have often practised to advan- 
tage upon the lesson it suggested ; which is, Never to let a 
doctor, or anything else, slip, for the want of asking an oppor- 
tune question. 

At length we departed from Durham, and took our way- 
homeward, through a series of small towns, arriving at last at 

The week of our sojourn here flew on golden wings with me. 
The village itself was after my own heart. It lies in a small 
tranquil valley, its western boundary consisting of a succession 

H4 Vh* Story of 

of gentle acclivities, covered with forests ; that on the east is 
formed of basaltic ledges, broken into wild and picturesque 
forms, rising sharp and hard against the horizon. 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 bor- 
dered 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 some- 
times visited by enterprising individuals of their race, which 
shot up cataracts, and leaped over obstructing rocks, roots, 
and mounds, impelled by instinct to seek places remote from 
the sea, where they might deposit their spawn in safety. In 
those days, I imagine, the accidents and incidents of shad and 
salmon life often rivalled the adventurous annals of Marco 
Polo or Robinson Crusoe. 

There was about this little village a singular union of re- 
finement and rusticity, of cultivated plain and steepling rock, 
of blooming meadow and dusky forest. The long, wide 
street, saving the 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 seemed a sort of secluded Happy Valley, 
where everything turns to poetry and romance. And this 
aptitude is abundantly encouraged by history ; for here was 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 115 

once the favoured 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 " Pomperaug's Grave." To the east I 
found a wild ledge, called " Bethel Rock." And each of these 
objects has its story. 

It was a great time, that happy week for let it be remem- 
bered that for a whole year I had been imprisoned in a country 
store. What melody was there in the forest echoes then! 
Ah ! I have since heard Catalani, and Garcia, and Pasta, and 
Sontag, and Grisi ; I have even heard " the Swedish Nightin- 
gale;" 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 appropriate 
epithet ; but never, in one or all, have I heard such music as 
filled my ears that incense-breathing morn, when I made a 
foray into the wilds of Woodbury! 

We returned to D anbury after a tour of some five or six 
weeks. The succeeding autumn and winter presented no 
peculiar incident with a single exception. 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 north-east then set in, and growing 
colder and colder, it became at last so severe as to force every- 

n6 The Story of 

body to shelter. This continued for two days, the whole air 
being filled with sleet, so that the sun, without a cloud in the 
sky, shone dim and grey 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 
stopped, travelling was suspended ; the world, indeed, seemed 
paralysed, 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, about two miles off, to whom she had long been a kind 
friend, was in danger of starvation. She knew no fear, and 
tolerated 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 scamper 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 showed 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 as if his nostrils were pierced 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 117 

with hot iron. On he went, however, 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 miserable hut, 
now half buried in a snow-drift. I was just in time. The 
wretched inmates a mother and three small children^ with- 
out fire, without food, without help or hope, were in bed, poorly 
clothed, and only keeping life in their bodies by a mutual che- 
rishing of warmth, like pigs or puppies in a similar extremity. 
The scene within was dismal 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 
currents. As I entered, the pale, haggard mother, compre- 
hending 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, chiefly built on a long, wide 
street, crossed near the northern extremity by a small river, a 
branch of the Housatonic, 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 

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 furnishing of rum to these poor 

n8 The Story of 

wretches, who bought one or two quarts on Saturday night 
and drank till Monday, and frequently till Tuesday. A fac- 
tory workman of those days was thought to be born to toil, 
and to get drunk. Philanthropy itself had not then lifted 
its eye or its hopes above this hideous malaria of custom. 
It is a modern discovery that manufacturing towns may 
rise up, where comfort, education, morals, and religion, in 
their best and happiest exercise, may be possessed by the 
toiling masses. 

A few words more, and I have done with D anbury. The 
health of my brother-in-law gradually failed, and at last, as 
winter approached, he took to his room, and finally to his bed. 
By almost insensible degrees, and with singular tranquillity of 
mind and body, he approached his end. It was a trait of his 
character to believe nothing, to do nothing, by halves. Hav- 
ing 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 vigour, his strong intellect vividly awake, he was ready 
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 continued in the store alone for several months, selling 
ou^the goods, and closing up the affairs of the estate. I had 
now a good deal of time to myself, and thumbed over several 
books, completing my reading of Shakspeare, to which I have 
already alluded. It happened that we had a neighbour over 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 119 

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 for 
the newspapers to publish mathematical questions, 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 feeling, and 
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 gratuitous lessons I learned something of geo- 
metry 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. 

1 20 The Story of 



I NOW enter upon a new era in my life. Early in the summer 
ef 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 had no aptitude for business, and spent much 
of his time away, leaving the affairs of the shop to an old 
clerk, by the name of Jones, and to me. Things went rather 
badly, and he sought to mend his fortune by a speculation in 
Merino sheep then the rage of the day. A ram sold for a 
thousand dollars, and an ewe for a hundred. Fortunes were 
made and lost in a day during this mania. My master, after 
buying a flock and driving it to Vermont, where he spent 
three months, came back pretty well shorn that is, three 
thousand dollars 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, 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 121 

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 the capacity for trade 
been in me, I might now have learned my business. I think 
I may say that I fulfilled my duty, at least in form. I was 
regular in my hours, kept the books duly journalised and 
posted. I never consciously wronged arithmetic to the amount 
of a farthing. I duly performed 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 ; I 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, without the regulating and sedative supremacy of 
a clear and controlling intelligence. 

I was then eighteen years of age. I had been sufficiently 
educated for my station. My parents had now removed from 
Bidgefield to Berlin, a distance of but eleven miles from my 
present residence, so that I had easy and frequent communi- 
cation 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 relationship to him naturally 

122 The Story of 

dictated. In general, then, my situation was eligible enough ; 
and yet I was unhappy. 

The truth is, I had now been able to sit in judgment upon 
myself to review my acquirements, to analyse my capacities, 
to estimate my character, to compare myself with others, 
and see a little into the future. The decision was painful to 
my ambition. I had all along, unconsciously, 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 connexions were respectable 
some of them eminent, but none of them rich. All had ac- 
quired 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, I know not, but they de- 
cided against the change, and certainly on substantial grounds. 
Their circumstances did not permit them to offer me any con- 
siderable aid, and without it they feared that I should meet 
with insuperable difficulties. I returned to the store dis- 
heartened at first, but after a time my courage revived, and I 
resolved to re-educate myself. I borrowed some Latin books, 
and with the aid of George Sheldon, an assistant in a pub- 
lisher's establishment, and at this time my bosom friend, I 
passed through the Latin Grammar, and penetrated a little 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 123 

way into Virgil. This was done at night, for during the 
day I was fully occupied. 

At the same time I began, with such light and strength 
as I possessed, to train my mind, to discipline my thoughts, 
then as untamed as the birds of the wilderness. / 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, directed to a 
particular object. I did all this as well by study as by prac- 
tice. I read Locke On the Understanding and Watts On the 
Mind. I attempted composition, and aided myself by Blair's 

This was a task ; for not only was my time chiefly oc- 
cupied by my daily duties, but it was a contest against habit 
it was myself against myself; and in this I was almost 
unaided and alone. I was to lay aside the slip -shod prac- 
tice of satisfying myself with impressions, feelings, guesses ; 
in short, of dodging mental labour by jumping at conclusions. 
I was, indeed, to learn the greatest of all arts, that of rea- 
soning 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 under- 
taking. 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 way, and 
I ceased my efforts 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 

124 The Story of 

as I had seen it on an old smoky map in Lieutenant Smith's 
study ; Africa was in the south-east corner of creation, and 
Europe was somewhere in the north-east. In fact, my map 
of the world was very Chinese in its projection. I knew 
better, but still I had thus conceived it, and the obstinate 
bump of locality insisted upon presenting its outlines to my 
mind according to this arrangement. I had similar jumbles 
of conception and habit as to other things. This would not 
do ; so I re-learned the elements of geography ; I revised my 
history, my chronology, my natural history, in all of which 
I had caught casual glimpses of knowledge. What I read I 
read earnestly. I determined to pass no word without ascer- 
taining its meaning, and I persevered in this, doggedly, for 
five-and-twenty years. 

My friend Sheldon was of inestimable service to me in 
my studies. Possessing advantages over me in age, ex- 
perience, and education, he made many rough places smooth 
to my stumbling feet. Especially when, during my early 
efforts in thinking, my mind was assailed with doubts as to 
the truth of the Christian religion, his clear intelligence and 
sincere faith did much to help me through my difficulties. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 125 




DURING my residence at Hartford war was declared against 
Great Britain. For some time Connecticut held aloof from 
all participation in the struggle. But when, in 1813, our own 
territory was threatened, all feelings vanished before the in- 
stinct of self-preservation, and the strong feeling of animosity 
which then raged against England. Anticipating this state 
of things, the State Government had made preparations for 
the emergency. 

As it was midsummer a period when the husbandmen 
could ill afford to leave their farms orders were sent by 
Governor Smith to despatch at once the companies of militia 
from the larger towns to the defence of New London and the 
neighbouring country. At that time I belonged to an ar- 
tillery 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 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 

126 The Story of 

one of his aids, and perhaps thought I should expect him 
now to fulfil his engagement. He soon set that matter at 

" You must, of course, go," said he. " We old federalists 
cannot shelter our nephews when there is a question of de- 
fending our own territory." 

" Ought I not to consult my parents ? " said I. 

" I will go down and see them to-morrow," he replied. 

" 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, according to your 
orders. I will come and see you before you start." 

The next morning, while it was yet dark, he came, gave 
me some letters of introduction, and also supplied me with 
ten dollars a welcome addition to my light purse. After a 
little advice he said, "I have only one thing to add: If 
you come to a fight, don't run away till the rest do. Good- 

The next morning, June 7, 1813, about sunrise, the 
whole company, nearly sixty in number, mounted in w T aggons, 
departed. At sunset we were on the heights two miles back 
of New London. No provision had been made for us, and so 
we went supperless 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 my side. Never have I heard such a 
succession of choking, suffocating, strangling 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 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 127 

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 ^olus, and as he could not be tolerated in the bar- 
racks, he was provided with a tent at a good distance, where 
he blew his blast without restraint. At the close of the cam- 
paign he 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 
realised my situation that of a soldier who was likely 
soon to be engaged in battle. I said nothing of my emo- 
tions : indeed, words were unnecessary. I watched the coun- 
tenances of my companions as they first caught a view of the 
black and portentous squadron, and I read in almost every 
face 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 dis- 
persed among the inhabitants, scattered over the neighbouring 
hills and valleys, for breakfast. Like hungry wolves we fell 
upon the lean larders, and left famine behind. Of course 
every one offered to pay, but not one person would accept a 
farthing : we were, indeed, received as protectors and de- 
liverers. It was something, after all, to be soldiers ! With 
our stomachs fortified, and our consciousness flattered, we 
came cheerfully together. 

At ten o'clock we were mustered, and began our march 
all in our best? trim : cocked hats, long -tailed blue coats, with 

128 The Story of 

red facings, white pantaloons, and shining cutlasses at our 
sides. Our 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. 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 win- 
dows and smiled their gratitude as we passed along. Men 
stopped and surveyed us with evident signs of approbation. 
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 aids-de-camp for four mortal 
hours, during which our martial pride drooped a little in the 
broiling sun. At four o'clock in the afternoon we were trans- 
ported across the Thames to the village of Groton, 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 meal. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 129 







NEW LONDON is situated on the western bank of the river 
Thames, three miles from its mouth. It has now ten or 
twelve thousand inhabitants, 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 harbour. This is 
defended by Fort Trumbull on the western side of the river, 
half a mile below the city. It contained a garrison of six or 
seven hundred soldiers during the war of 1812. 

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 commanding a view 
of the surrounding country, including the harbour and the 
islands which lie scattered near it in the Sound, is the site of 
Fort Griswold. The old fort is now in ruins, but in my time 
it was in tolerable repair. Our company, as well as other 
portions of the militia, laboured upon it, and strengthened it, 
as well by completing its works as by erecting a small redoubt 


130 The Story of 

upon the south-eastern side. To the defence of the latter, in 
case of attack, the Hartford company was assigned. 

The officers of our company were rigid disciplinarians, 
and accordingly we were drilled for about four hours each 
day. We soon gained much reputation for our martial ex- 
ercises and our tidy appearance. Many people came over 
from New London to witness our performances, among whom 
were often persons of distinction. On Sundays we marched 
two miles to church, and being in our best guise, caused quite 
a sensation. Men and women, boys and girls, streamed along 
at our flanks, often in a broiling sun, yet always with admiring 

After the morning drill we were generally at leisure for 
the rest of the day, taking our turns, however, on guard, and 
in other occasional duties. Most 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 basket full of various 
kinds, among which the blackfish or tataug, now so greatly 
esteemed, was always abundant. I was employed by the 
captain to keep his journal of our proceedings, and sometimes 
I was despatched to New London, or to some one of the 
officers along the line, with a letter or a parcel. 

I remember that on one occasion H. A , my special 

companion, and myself, were sent with a letter to an officer 
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 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 131 

opens into a wide bay as it meets the Sound. As we ap- 
proached the southern point of the shore we found ourselves 
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 and uncoil them- 
selves 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 ploughed up, scattering the soil around, and 
the top of one of the forest trees, of which a few were scat- 
tered here and there, was cut asunder and fell almost at our 

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 fired, 
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 

132 The Story of 

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 anchorage, and all was quiet. I hope I shall not 
degrade myself as a soldier in your eyes by confessing that 
this was the only battle in which I was engaged during this 
glorious war ! 

I must, however, mention one circumstance which tried 
the souls of our company. 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 redoubt which we were to defend, and every preparation 
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 was admonished to sleep 
on their arms. Everything wore a rather ominous appear- 
ance. There were no signs of cowardice in the men, but they 
looked thoughtful ; and when the 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 that I was that night on guard. My turn came 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 133 

at ten o'clock. Taking my gun, I paced the bank of the 
river in front of our barracks. I had received orders to let 
nothing pass by land or water. It was intensely dark, but 
at frequent intervals 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 opposite side of the 
river, were extinguished one by one ; a few remaining, how- 
ever, 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 flapping 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 apparition 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. According to my orders I marshalled him 
to the guard-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, 

134 The Story of 

when suddenly there was a cry in the main barrack-room 
overhead, " Alarm ! alarm !" 

" Alarm ! alarm ! " was echoed by twenty voices, at- 
tended 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 sen- 
tinels, extending for half-a-dozen miles. Then came the roll 
of drums and the mustering of the men. Several of our com- 
pany 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 positively 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 of each other's faces. 
I think we were a ghostly -looking set, but it was, perhaps, 

owing to the bluish complexion of the light. J. S , of 

West Hartford, who 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?" 
Johnson, 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 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 135 

not be got out were electrical. We were ready to take our 
places in the redoubt. 

Messengers were. now sent to the two neighbouring posts 
to inquire into the state of facts. Word was brought that the 
first alarm came from our barracks ! The matter was in- 
quired into, and it turned out that the whole affair was 
originated by a corporal of ours, who, in a fit of nightmare, 
jumped up and cried, " Alarm ! alarm ! " 

Our martial ardour soon reconciled itself to this rather ludi- 
crous d^nouement^ though several persons, who had been some- 
what chapfallen, became suddenly inflated with courage, which 

signalised itself with outbursts 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 
thunder -gusts of the night had cleared the air, and even dis- 
tant 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 Ramilies!" 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 readily 
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 withdrawn, the seducing and corrupting in- 
fluences which naturally spring up and riot in such a soil too 

136 The Story of 

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-abandonment. Our 
officers set an excellent example, and there was less of degra- 
dation in our company than in others. Still, among us there 
was a general reading 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 declen- 
sion was visible throughout the whole body of militia along 
the line. 

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 campaign are, on the whole, pleasant. There 
were feelings of fraternity established between the members of 
the company which have continued to this day. 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 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 137 





I REMEMBER perfectly well the universal state of anxiety and 
depression which prevailed in New England during the lat- 
ter part of the war. The acts of government, the move- 
ments of fleets and armies, furnish no idea of the condition of 
society in its daily life. Let me give you a few items as 
indications of the embarrassments, vexations, 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 sus- 
pended banks, or what were called "facilities;" that is, 
bank-notes, authorised by the legislature of Connecticut, re- 
deemable 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 issued bills payable in shaving, and 
various institutions adopted a similar course. The whole 
mass acquired the title of " rag -money," shin-plasters," &c. : 
a large portion of it was notoriously worthless, either as being 

ij8 fhe Story of 

counterfeit, or issued by irresponsible parties, yet it generally 
passed without scrutiny. 

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 re- 
flection I established a manufactory of pocket-books, in con- 
nexion with one of my friends, who furnished the capital. 
The greatest difficulty was to find the materials. I made ex- 
peditions to Boston, Charleston, Providence, &c., and was not 
able to obtain over fifty pieces of morocco fit for the purpose. 
In December I went to New York, and was more successful. 
I made a considerable purchase, and despatched my goods 
by the carrier. 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 

" Peace ! peace ! peace ! " 

The music ceased : the hall was speedily vacated. I 
rushed into the street, and oh, what a scene ! 

It was on the evening of Saturday, the llth of February, 
1815, that the news of the treaty of peace reached New York. 
In half-an-hour after Broadway was one living sea of shout- 
ing, rejoicing people. " Peace ! peace ! peace !" was the deep, 
harmonious, universal anthem. The whole spectacle was en- 
livened by a sudden inspiration. Somebody came with a 
torch : the bright idea passed into a thousand brains. In a 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 139 

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 
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 Connecticut. 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 with the whole school at his heels 
to ask us if the news was true. We told him it was ; where- 
upon 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 rejoice in the good tidings. At one little tavern I looked 
into a room, by chance, the door being open, and there I 
saw the goodwife, 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 ! 

We arrived at New Haven in the evening, and found it 

140 fhe Story of 

illuminated: the next day I reached Hartford, and there 
also was a grand illumination. The news 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, perhaps, a single exception. At Washington, 
the authors of the war peeped into the despatches, and found 
that the treaty had no stipulations against the Orders in 
Council, Paper Blockades, and Impressments, which were 
the pretexts for the war. 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! 

So the war was ended. 

Let us be frank, and confess the truth : the war, in the 
aspects in which history thus presents it, was disgraceful 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 conflict 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, and ended precisely where it began, 
after years of violence, sorrow, and bloodshed. It has shown, 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 141 

also in connexion with subsequent events the superiority 
of peace to war, even in obtaining the ends of justice ; for let 
it be remembered that Daniel Webster obtained from Great 
Britain, by the force of argument, that which the sword could 
not achieve. 

142 The Story of 




I HAVE told you that my apprenticeship terminated in the 
summer of 1814. Previous to that time I had made some 
advances in the study of the French language, under M. Value, 
or, to give him his title, the Count Value. This person had 
spent his early life in Paris, but afterward migrated to St. 
Domingo, where he owned a large estate. In the insurrection 
of 1794 he escaped only with his life. With admirable 
cheerfulness and serenity he devoted himself to teaching 
French and dancing, as means of support. He settled for a 
time at New Haven, where, at the age of seventy, he was cap- 
tivated by a tall, red-haired schoolmistress of twenty, whom 
he married. 

The Count finally established himself at Hartford, and I 
became one of his pupils. I pursued my studies with con- 
siderable assiduity, and to practise myself in French, I trans- 
lated Chateaubriand's Rene. One of my friends had just 
established a newspaper at Middletown, and my translation 
was published there. About this time my health was feeble, 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 143 

and my eyes became seriously affected in consequence of my 
night studies. Unaware of the danger, I persevered, and 
thus laid the foundation of a nervous weakness and irritability 
of my eyes, which has since been to me a rock ahead in the 
whole voyage of my life. From that time I have never been 
able to read or write without pain. As if by a kind of 
fatality, I seemed to be afterwards drawn into a literary career, 
for which I was doubly disqualified first by an imperfect 
education, and next by defective eyesight. Oh ! what penal- 
ties have I paid for thus persisting in a course which seems to 
have been forbidden to me by Providence. After a long and 
laborious life, I feel a profound consciousness that I have done 
nothing well ; at the same time, days, months, nay years, have 
I struggled with the constant apprehension that I should 
terminate my career in blindness ! How little do we know, 
especially in the outset of our existence, what is before us ! It 
is well that we do not know, for the prospect would often 
overwhelm us. 

In the autumn of 181.4, as already stated, I established, 
in company with a friend, a pocket-book factory at Hartford ; 
but the peace put a speedy termination to that enterprise. We 
came out of it with a small loss, and my kind-hearted partner 
pocketed this, " for he had money, and I had none." He for- 
gave me, and would have done the same had the defalcation 
been more considerable, for he was a true friend. 

Early in the following, I made an arrangement to go to 
Paris as a clerk in the branch of the importing house of 
Kichards, Taylor, & Wilder, of New York. About a month 
afterwards the news came that Bonaparte had suddenly re- 
turned from Elba, and as business was prostrated by that 

144 Vh* S tor y f 

event, my engagement failed. For nearly a year, my health 
continued indifferent, and my eyes in such a state that I was 
incapable of undertaking any serious business. I spent my 
time partly at Berlin, whither my parents had removed from 
Ridgefield, and partly at Hartford. I read a little, and prac- 
tised my French with Value and his scholars. I also felt the 
need of disciplining my hands and feet, which about these 
days seemed to me to have acquired a most absurd develop- 
ment, giving me a feeling of great embarrassment when I en- 
tered into company. I therefore took lessons in dancing, and, 
whether I profited by it or not as to manners, I am persuaded 
that this portion of my education was highly beneficial to me 
in other points of view. 

As many good people have a prejudice against dancing, I 
am disposed to write down my experience on the subject. In 
the whiter, our good old teacher had weekly cotillion parties, 
for the purpose of practising his scholars. The young men 
invited the young women, and took them to these gatherings, 
and after the exercises conducted them home again. I know 
this will sound strange to those who only understand metro- 
politan manners at the present day ; but I never knew an in- 
stance, in my own experience or observation, in which the 
strictest propriety was departed from. These parties took 
place in the evening : they began at eight o'clock, and con- 
tinued till ten or eleven sometimes till twelve. The com- 
pany consisted entirely of young persons, from fifteen to 
twenty years of age : they included the children of the respect- 
able inhabitants, with a number of young ladies from the 
boarding-schools. Some of these I have since seen the 
wives of bishops, senators, and governors of States filling 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 145 

the first stations to which women can aspire in this 

I am satisfied that these Hartford parties, under the aus- 
pices of our amiable and respected old teacher, were every- 
way refining and elevating : not only did they impart ease of 
manner, but, as I think, purity of sentiment. 

In the spring of 1815 I paid a visit to New York, and 
having letters of introduction to Oliver Wolcott and Archi- 
bald Gracie, I called on these gentlemen. 

My lodgings were at the City Hotel, situated on the west- 
ern side of Broadway, between Thames and Cedar Streets, 
the space being now occupied by warehouses. It was then 
the chief hotel of New York, and was kept by a model land- 
lord, named Jennings, with a model bar-keeper by the name 
of Willard. The latter was said never to sleep night or day, 
for at all hours he was at his post, and never forgot a cus- 
tomer, even after an absence of twenty years. 

It was late in the spring, and Mr. Gracie called for me 
and took me to his country seat, occupying a little promontory 
on the western side of Hurlgate, a charming spot. Conti- 
guous to it were the summer residences of many of the leading 
citizens of New York. 

Here I spent a fortnight very agreeably. Mr. Gracie was 
at this period distinguished alike on account of his wealth, his 
intelligence, and his amiable and honourable character. Never 
have I witnessed anything more charming - more affectionate, 
dignified, and graceful, than the intercourse of the family with 
one another. Not many years after, Mr. Gracie lost his 
entire fortune by the vicissitudes of commerce, but his cha- 
racter was beyond the reach of accident. He is still remem- 

146 The Story of 

bered with affectionate respect by all those whose memories 
reach back to the times in which he flourished, and when it 
might be said, without disparagement to any other man, that 
he was the first merchant in New York. 

Early in the ensuing summer, my uncle, Chauncey Good- 
rich, being in bad health, paid a visit to Saratoga and Ball- 
ston for the benefit of the waters, and I accompanied him. 
We soon returned, however, for it was now apparent that he 
had a disease of the heart, which was rapidly tending to a 
fatal result. Experiencing great suffering at intervals, he 
gradually yielded to the progress of his malady, and at last, 
on the 18th of August, 1815, while walking the room, and 
engaged in cheerful conversation, he faltered, sank into a chair, 
and instantly expired. " His death," says the historian, "was 
a shock to the whole community. Party distinctions were 
forgotten, under a sense of the general calamity ; and in the 
simple but expressive language which was used at his funeral, 
* all united in a tribute of respect to the man who had so long 
been dear to us, and done us so much good.'" To me, the 
loss was irreparable ; leaving, however, in my heart a feeling 
of gratitude that I had witnessed an example of the highest 
intellectual power united with the greatest moral excellence, 
and that, too, in one whose relationship to me enforced and 
commended its teachings to my special observance. Alas, 
how little have I done in life that is worthy of such inspira- 
tion ! 

Not long after this, my friend George Sheldon, who had 
established himself as a bookseller and publisher, invited me 
to become his partner, and this I did early in the year 1816. 
We pursued the business for nearly two years, during which 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 147 

time we published, among other works, Scott's Family 
Bible, in five volumes quarto a considerable enterprise for 
that period in a place like Hartford. In the autumn of 1817 
I had gone to Berlin, for the purpose of making a short ex- 
cursion for the benefit of my health, when a messenger came 
from Hartford, saying that my partner was very ill, and 
wished me to return. I immediately complied, and on enter- 
ing the room of my friend I found him in a high fever, his 
mind already wandering in painful dreams. As I came to 
his bedside he said, " Oh, take away these horrid knives, 
they cut me to the heart !" I stooped over him and said, 
" There are no knives here ; you are only dreaming." 
" Oh, is it you ? " said he. " I am glad you have come. 
Do stay with me, and speak to me, so as to keep off these 
dreadful fancies." 

I did stay by him for four days and nights ; but his 
doom was sealed. His mind continued in a state of wild 
delirium till a few minutes before his death. I stood gazing 
at his face, when a sudden change came over him : the 
agitated and disturbed look of insanity had passed a quiet 
pallor had come over his countenance, leaving it calm and 
peaceful. He opened his eyes, and, as if waking from sleep, 
looked on me with an aspect of recognition. His lips moved, 
and he pronounced the name of his wife : she came, with all 
the feelings of youth and love ay, and of hope, too, in her 
heart. She bent over him : he raised his feeble and emaciated 
arms and clasped her to his heart : he gave her one kiss, and 
passed to another life ! 

The summer of 1816 was probably the coldest that has 

148 The Story of 

been known in this century. In New England from Con- 
necticut to Maine there were severe frosts in every month. 
The crop of Indian corn was almost entirely cut off: of 
potatoes, hay, oats, &c., there was not, probably, more than 
half the usual supply. The means of averting the effects of 
such a calamity now afforded by railroads, steam naviga- 
tion, canals, and other facilities of intercommunication did 
not then exist. The following winter was severe, and the 
ensuing spring backward. At this time I made a journey 
into New Hampshire, passing along the Connecticut river, in 
the region of Hanover. It was then June, and the hills 
were almost as barren as in November. I saw a man at 
Orford who had been forty miles for a half-bushel of Indian 
corn, and paid two dollars for it ! 

Along the seaboard it was not difficult to obtain a supply 
of food, although every article was dear. In the interior it 
was otherwise : the cattle died for want of fodder, and many 
of the inhabitants nearly perished from starvation. The de- 
solating effects of the war still lingered over the country, and 
at last a kind of despair seized upon some of the people. In 
the pressure of adversity many persons lost their judgment, 
and thousands feared or felt that New England was destined, 
henceforth, to become a part of the frigid zone. At the same 
time, Ohio with its rich soil, its mild climate, its inviting 
prairies was opened fully upon the alarmed and anxious 
vision. As was natural under the circumstances, a sort of 
stampede took place from cold, desolate, worn-out New Eng- 
land, to this land of promise. 

I remember very well the tide of emigration through 
Connecticut on its way to the West, during the summer of 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 149 

1817. Some persons went in covered waggons frequently 
a family consisting of father, mother, and nine small children, 
with one at the breast some on foot, and some crowded 
together under the cover, with kettles, gridirons, feather-beds, 
crockery, and the family Bible, Watts's Psalms and Hymns, 
and Webster's Spelling-book the lares and penates of the 
household. Others started in ox-carts, and trudged on at 
the rate of ten miles a-day. In several instances I saw fami- 
lies on foot the father and boys taking turns in dragging 
along an improvised hand-waggon, loaded with the wreck 
of the household goods occasionally giving the mother and 
baby a ride. Many of these persons were in a state of 
poverty, and begged their way as they went. Some died 
before they reached the expected Canaan; many perished 
after their arrival, from fatigue and privation ; and others 
from the fever and ague, which was then certain to attack 
the new settlers. 

It was, I think, in 1818, that I published a small tract, 
entitled, T'other Side of Ohio, that is, the other view, in 
contrast to the popular notion that it was the paradise of the 
world. It was written by Dr. Hand, a talented young phy- 
sician of Berlin, who had made a visit to the West about 
this time. It consisted mainly of vivid but painful pictures 
of the accidents and incidents attending this wholesale migra- 
tion. The roads over the Alleghanies, between Philadelphia 
and Pittsburg, were then rude, steep, and dangerous, and 
some of the more precipitous slopes were consequently strewn 
with the carcases of waggons, carts, horses, oxen, which had 
made shipwreck in their perilous descents. The scenes on the 
road of families gathered at night in miserable sheds, called 

150 The Story of 

taverns mothers frying, children crying, fathers swearing, 
were a mingled comedy and tragedy of errors. Even when 
they arrived in their new homes, along the banks of the 
Musldngum, or the Scioto, frequently the whole family 
father, mother, children speedily exchanged the fresh com- 
plexion and elastic step of their first abodes, for the sunken 
cheek and languid movement, which mark the victim of in- 
termittent fever. 

The instances of home-sickness, described by this vivid 
sketcher, were touching. Not even the captive Israelites, 
who hung their harps upon the willows along the banks of 
the Euphrates, wept more bitter tears, or looked back with 
more longing to their native homes, than did these exiles 
from New England ; mourning the land they had left, with 
its roads, schools, meeting-houses ; its hope, health, and hap- 
piness ! Two instances, related by the traveller, I must men- 
tion. He was one day riding in the woods, apart from the 
settlements, when he met a youth some eighteen years of age, 
in a hunting-frock, and with a fowling-piece in his hand. 
The two fell into conversation. 

" Where are you from ?" said the youth, at last. 

" From Connecticut," was the reply. 

" That is near the old Bay State ?" 

" Yes." 

" ^Lnd have you been there ?" 

" To Massachusetts ? Yes, many a time." 

" Let me take your hand, stranger. My mother was 
from the Bay State, and brought me here when I was an 
infant. I have heard her speak of it. Oh, it must be a 
lovely land! I wish I could see a meeting-house and a 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 151 

school-house, for she is always talking about them. And the 
sea : the sea oh, if I could see that! Did you ever see it, 
stranger ? " 

" Yes, often." 

" What, the real, salt sea the ocean with the ships 
upon it?" 
. "Yes." 

" Well," said the youth, scarcely able to suppress his 
emotion, " if I could see the old Bay State and the ocean, I 
should be willing then to die ! " 

In another instance the traveller met, somewhere in the 
valley of the Scioto, a man from Hartford, by the name of 
Bull. He was a severe democrat, and feeling sorely oppressed 
with the idea that he was no better off in Connecticut under 
federalism than the Hebrews in Egypt, joined the throng 
and migrated to Ohio. He was a man of substance, but 
his wealth was of little avail in a new country, where all the 
comforts and luxuries of civilisation were unknown. 

" When I left Connecticut," said he, " I was wretched 
from thinking of the sins of federalism. After I had got 
across Byram river, which divides that State from New York, 
I knelt down and thanked the Lord for that He had brought 
me and mine out of such a priest-ridden land. But I Ve 
been well punished, and I'm now preparing to return ; when 
I again cross Byram river, I shall thank God that He has 
permitted me to get back again !" 

152 The Story of 





EARLY in the year 1818 I was married to the daughter of 
Stephen Rowe Bradley, of Westminster, Vermont. Thus 
established in life, I pursued the business of bookseller and 
publisher at Hartford for four years. My vocation gave me 
the command of books, but I was able to read very little 
my eyes continuing to be so weak, that I could hardly do jus- 
tice to my affairs. However, I dipped into a good many 
books, and acquired a considerable knowledge of authors and 
their works. 

During the period in which Scott had been enchanting 
the world with his poetry that is, from 1805 to 1815 I 
had shared in the general intoxication. The Lady of the 
Lake delighted me beyond expression, and even now, it seems 
to me the most pleasing and perfect of metrical romances. 
These productions seized powerfully upon the popular mind, 
partly on account of the romance of their revelations, and 
partly also because of the simplicity of the style, and the easy 
flow of the versification. Everybody could read and com- 
prehend them. One of my younger sisters committed the 
whole of the Lady of the Lake to memory, and was ac- 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 153 

eustomed of an evening to sit at her sewing, while she recited 
it to an admiring circle of listeners. All young poets were 
inoculated with the octo-syllabic verse, and newspapers, 
magazines, and even volumes, teemed with imitations and 
variations inspired by the " Wizard Harp of the North." 
JSTot only did Scott himself continue to pour out volume after 
volume, but others produced set poems in his style, some of 
them so close in their imitation as to be supposed the works 
of Scott himself, trying the effect of a disguise. At last, 
however, the market was overstocked, and the general ap- 
petite began to pall with a surfeit, when a sudden change 
took place in the public taste. 

It was just at this point that Byron produced his first 
canto of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. 

Scott speedily appreciated the eclipse to which his poetical 
career was doomed by the rising genius of Byron. He now 
turned his attention to prose fiction, and in July, 1814, com- 
pleted and published Waverley, which had been begun some 
eight or ten years before. Guy Mannering came out the 
next year, and was received with a certain degree of eager- 
ness. The Antiquary, Black Dwarf, Old Mortality, Rob 
Roy, and the Heart of Mid-Lothian, followed in quick suc- 
cession. I suspect that never, in any age, have the pro- 
ductions of any author created in the world so wide and deep 
an enthusiasm. This emotion reached its height upon the 
appearance of Ivanhoe in 1819, which, I think, proved the 
most popular of these marvellous productions. 

At this period, although there was a good deal of mystery 
as to their authorship, the public generally referred them to 
Scott. He was called the " Great Unknown" a title which 

154 The Story of 

served to create even an adventitious interest in Ms career. 
The appearance of a new tale from his pen caused a greater 
sensation in the United States than did some of the battles of 
Napoleon, which decided the fate of thrones and empires. 
Everj' body read these works; everybody. the refined and 
the simple shared in the delightful dreams which seemed 
to transport them to remote ages and distant climes, and made 
them live and breathe in the presence of the stern Covenanters 
of Scotland, the gallant bowmen of Sherwood Forest, or even 
the Crusaders in Palestine, where Coeur de Lion and Saladin 
were seen struggling for the mastery ! I can testify to my 
own share in this intoxication. I was not able, on account 
of my eyes, to read these works myself, but I found friends 
to read them to me. To one good old maid Heaven bless 
her ! I was indebted for the perusal of no less than seven 
of these tales. 

Of course, there were many editions of these works in the 
United States, and among others, I published an edition, I 
think, in eight volumes, octavo including those which had 
appeared at that time. 

About this time I began to think of trying to bring out 
original American works. It must be remembered that I am 
speaking of a period prior to 1820. At that date, Bryant, 
Irving, and Cooper, the founders of our modern literature, 
had just commenced their literary career. Neither of them 
had acquired a positive reputation. Halleck, Percival, Brain- 
ard, Longfellow, Willis, were at school at least, all were 
unknown. The general impression was that we had not, 
and could not, have a literature. It was the precise point at 
which Sidney Smith had uttered that bitter taunt in the 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 155 

Edinburgh Review " Who reads an American book?" It 
proved to be that " darkest hour just before the dawn." The 
successful booksellers of the country were for the most part 
the mere reproducers and sellers of English books. It was 
positively injurious to the commercial credit of a bookseller to 
undertake American works, unless they might be Morse's 
Geographies, classical books, school-books, devotional books, 
or other utilitarian works. 

Nevertheless, about this time I published an edition of 
Trumbull's poems, in two volumes, octavo, and paid him a 
thousand dollars, and a hundred copies of the work, for the 
copyright. I was seriously counselled against this by several 
booksellers and, in fact, Trumbull had sought a publisher 
in vain for several years previous. There was an association 
of designers and engravers at Hartford, called the " Graphic 
Company," and as I desired to patronise the liberal arts there, 
I employed them to execute the embellishments. For so con- 
siderable an enterprise, I took the precaution to get a sub- 
scription, in which I was tolerably successful. The work was 
at last produced, but it did not come up to the public ex- 
pectation, or the patriotic zeal had cooled, and more than half 
the subscribers declined taking the work. I did not press it, 
but putting a good face upon the affair, I let it pass, and 
while the public supposed I had made money by my enter- 
prise, and even the author looked askance at me in the jealous 
apprehension that I had made too good a bargain out of him 
I quietly pocketed a loss of about a thousand dollars. 
This was my first serious adventure in patronising American 

About the same period I turned my attention to books for 

156 The Story of 

education and books for children, being strongly impressed 
with the idea that there was here a large field for improve- 
ment. I wrote, myself, a small arithmetic, and half-a-dozen 
toy-books, and published them anonymously. I also em- 
ployed several persons to write school histories, and educa- 
tional manuals of chemistry, natural philosophy, &c., upon 
plans which I prescribed all of which I published ; but 
none of these were very successful at that time. Some of 
them, passing into other hands, are now among the most 
popular and profitable school-books in the country. 

It was at this period that Miss Huntly, now Mrs. 
Sigourney, was induced to leave her home in Norwich, and 
make Hartford her residence. This occurred about the year 
1814. Ere long she was the presiding genius of our social 
circle. I shall not write her history, nor dilate upon her 
literary career, yet I may speak of her influence in this new 
relation a part of which fell upon myself. Mingling in the 
gaieties of our social gatherings, and in no respect clouding 
their festivity, she led us all toward intellectual pursuits and 
amusements. We had even a literary coterie under her in- 
spiration, its first meetings being held at Mr. Wadsworth's. I 
believe one of my earliest attempts at composition was made 
here. The ripples thus begun, extended over the whole sur- 
face of our young society, producing a lasting and refining 
effect. It could not but be beneficial thus to mingle in inter- 
course with one who has the faculty of seeing poetry in all 
things, and good everywhere. Few persons living have exer- 
cised a wider influence than Mrs. Sigourney. No one that I 
now know can look back upon a long and earnest career of 
such unblemished beneficence. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 157 





IN 1821, clouds and darkness began to gather around my 
path. By a fall from a horse, I was put upon crutches for 
more than a year, and a cane for the rest of my life. Ere 
long death entered my door, and my home was desolate. I 
was once more alone save only that a child was left me, 
to grow to womanhood, and to die a youthful mother, loving 
and beloved. My affairs became embarrassed, my health 
failed, and my only hope of renovation was in a change of 

Before I give you a sketch of my experience and observa- 
tions abroad, I must present the portrait of my friend Brain- 
ard. He came to Hartford in February, 1822, to take the 
editorial charge of the Connecticut Mirror. He was now 
twenty-six years old, and had gained some reputation for wit 
and poetical talent. One day a young man, small in stature, 
with a curious mixture of ease and awkwardness, of humour 
and humility, came into my office, and introduced himself as 
Mr. Brainard. I gave him a hearty welcome, for I had heard 
very pleasant accounts of him. As was natural, I made a 

158 The Story of 

complimentary allusion to Ms poems, which I had seen and 
admired. A smile, yet shaded with something of melancholy, 
came over his face as he replied, 

" Don't expect too much of me ; I never succeeded in 
anything yet. I never could draw a mug of cider without 
spilling more than half of it ! " 

I afterwards found that much truth was thus spoken in 
jest. This was, in point of fact, precisely Brainard's appre- 
ciation of himself. All his life, feeling that he could do 
something, he still entertained a mournful and disheartening 
conviction that, on the whole, he was doomed to failure and 
disappointment. There was sad prophecy in this presentment 
a prophecy which he at once made and fulfilled. 

We soon became friends, and, at last, intimates. I was 
now boarding at " Eipley's" a good old-fashioned tavern, 
over which presided Major Ripley, respected for revolutionary 
services, an amiable character, and a long Continental queue. 
In the administration of the establishment he was ably sup- 
ported by his daughter, Aunt Lucy the very genius of 
tavern courtesy, cookery, and comfort. Here Brainard joined 
me, and we took rooms side by side. Thus, for more than a 
year, we were together, as intimate as brothers. He was of a 
child-like disposition, and craved constant sympathy. He 
soon got into the habit of depending upon me in many things, 
and at last especially in dull weather, or when he was sad, 
or something went wrong with him he would creep into my 
bed, as if it were his right. At that period of gloom in my 
own fortunes, this was as well a solace to me as to him. 
After my return from Europe we resumed these relations, 
and for some months more we were thus together. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 159 

I cannot do better than sketch a single incident, which will 
give you some insight into Brainard's character. The scene 
opens in Miss Lucy's little back-parlour a small, cosy, 
carpeted room, with two cushioned rocking-chairs, and a 
bright hickory fire. It is a chill November night, about 
seven o'clock of a Friday evening. The Mirror Brainard's 
paper is to appear the next morning. The week has thus 
far passed, and he has not written for it a line. How the 
days have gone he can hardly tell. He has read a little 
dipped into Byron, pored over the last Waverley novel, and 
been to see his friends ; at all events, he has got rid of the 
time. He has not felt competent to bend down to his work, 
and has put it off till the last moment. No further delay is 
possible. He is now not well ; he has a severe cold. 

Miss Lucy, who takes a motherly interest in him, tells 
him not to go out, and his own inclinations suggest the 
charms of a quiet evening in the rocking chair, by a good 
fire especially in comparison with going to his comfortless 
office, and drudging for the press. He lingers till eight, and 
then suddenly rousing himself, by a desperate effort, throws 
on his cloak and sallies forth. As was not uncommon, I go 
with him. A dim fire is kindled in the small Franklin stove 
in his office, and we sit down. Brainard, as was his wont, 
especially when he was in trouble, falls into a curious train 
of reflections, half comic and half serious. 

" Would to Heaven," he says, " I were a slave ! I think 
a slave, with a good master, has a good time of it. The 
responsibility of taking care of himself the most terrible 
burden of life is put on his master's shoulders. Madame 
Roland, with a slight alteration, would have uttered a pro- 

1 60 The Story of 

found truth. She should have said ' Oh, Liberty, Liberty, 
thou art a humbug!' After all, liberty is the greatest pos- 
sible slavery, for it puts upon a man the " responsibility of 
taking care of himself. If he goes wrong why, he's con- 
demned ! If a slave sins, he 's only flogged, and gets over it, 
and there's an end of it. Now, if I could only be flogged, 
and settle the matter that way, I should be perfectly happy. 
But here comes my tormentor." 

The door is now opened, and a boy with a touselled head 
and inky countenance enters, saying curtly " Copy, Mr. 

"Come in fifteen minutes !" says the editor, with a droll 
mixture of fun and despair. 

Brainard makes a few observations, and sits down at his 
little narrow pine table hacked along the edges with many 
a restless penknife. He seems to notice these marks, and 
pausing a moment, says, 

" This table reminds me of one of my brother William's 
stories. There was an old man in Groton, who had but one 
child, and she was a daughter. When she was about eighteen, 
several young men came to see her. At last she picked out 
one of them, and desired to marry him. He seemed a fit 
match enough, but the father positively refused his consent. 
For a long time he persisted, and would give no reason for his 
conduct. At last he took his daughter aside, and said 
' Now, Sarah, I think pretty well of this young man in 
general, but I 've observed that he 's given to whittling. 
There 's no harm in that, but the point is this : he whittles 
and whittles, and never makes nothing ! Now, I '11 tell you, 
I '11 never give my only daughter to such a feller as that ! ' 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 161 

Whenever Bill told this story, he used to insinuate that this 
whittling chap, who never made anything, was me ! At any- 
rate, I think it would have suited me exactly." 

Some time passed in similar talk, when, at last, Brainard 
turned suddenly, took up his pen, and began to write. I sat 
apart, and left him to his work. Some twenty minutes 
passed, when, with a smile on his face, he got up, approached 
the fire, and taking the candle to light his paper, read as fol- 
lows : 


" The thoughts are strange that crowd into my brain, 
While I look upward to thee. It would seem 
As if God pour'd thee from his ' hollow hand,' 
And hung his bow upon thy awful front ; 
And spoke in that loud voice that seem'd to him 
Who dwelt in Patmos for his Saviour's sake, 
' The sound of many waters ;' and had bade 
Thy flood to chronicle the ages back, 
And notch his cent'ries in the eternal rocks !" 

He had hardly done reading when the boy came. Brainard 
handed him the lines on a small scrap of coarse paper 
and told him to come again in half-an-hour. Before this 
time had elapsed, he had finished and read me the following 
stanza : 

" Deep calleth unto deep. And what are we 
That hear the question of that voice sublime ? 
Oh ! what are all the notes that ever rung 
From war's vain trumpet by thy thundering side ? 
Yea, what is all the riot man can make, 
In his short life, to thy unceasing roar ? 
And yet, bold babbler, what art thou to Him 
Who drown'd a world, and heap'd the waters far 
Above its loftiest mountains ? A light wave, 
That breathes and whispers of its Maker's might." 


1 62 The Story of 

These lines having teen furnished, Brainard left his office, 
and we returned to Miss Lucy's parlour. He seemed utterly 
unconscious of what he had done. I praised the verses, but 
he thought I only spoke warmly from friendly interest. The 
lines went forth, and produced a sensation of delight over the 
whole country. Almost every exchange paper that came to 
the office had extracted them. Even then he would scarcely 
believe that he had done anything very clever. And thus, 
under these precise circumstances, were composed the most 
suggestive and sublime stanzas upon Niagara that were ever 
penned. Brainard had never, as he told me, been within less 
than five hundred miles of the cataract, nor do I believe that, 
when he went to the office, he had meditated upon the sub- 

The reader will see, from the circumstances I have men- 
tioned, that I knew the history of most of Brainard's pieces, 
as they came out, from time to time, in his newspaper. 
Nearly all of them were occasional that is, suggested by 
passing events, or incidents in the poet's experience. 

Early in the year 1825 I persuaded Brainard to make a 
collection of his poems, and have them published. At first 
his lip curled at the idea, as being too pretentious. He in- 
sisted that he had done nothing to justify the publication of a 
volume. Gradually he began to think of it, and, at length, I 
induced him to sign a contract authorising me to make ar- 
rangements for the work. He set about the preparation, and 
at length after much lagging and many lapses the pieces 
were selected and arranged. When all was ready, I persuaded 
him to go to New York with me to settle the matter with a 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 163 

One anecdote, in addition to those already before the 
public, and I shall close this sketch. Brainard's talent for 
repartee was of the first order. On one occasion, Nathan 
Smith, an eminent lawyer, was at Ripley's tavern, in the 
midst of a circle of judges and lawyers attending the court. 
He was an Episcopalian, and at this time was considered by 
his political adversaries unjustly, no doubt as the paid 
agent of that persuasion, now clamoring for a sum of money 
from the State, to lay the foundation of a " Bishops' Fund." 
He was thus regarded somewhat in the same light as O'Con- 
nell, who, while he was the great patriot leader of Irish inde- 
pendence, was, at the same time, liberally supported by the 
" rint." By accident, Brainard came in, and Smith, noticing 
a little feathery attempt at whiskers down his cheek, rallied 
him upon it. 

" It will never do," said he ; " you cannot raise it, 
Brainard. Come, here's sixpence take that, and go to the 
barber's and get it shaved off ! It will smooth your cheek, 
and ease your conscience." 

Brainard drew himself up, and said with great dignity 
as Smith held out the sixpence on the point of his forefinger 
" No, sir, you had better keep it for the Bishops' Fund !" 

In Brainard's editorial career though he was negligent, 
dilatory, sometimes almost imbecile, from a sort of constitu- 
tional inertness still a train of inextinguishable light re- 
mains to gleam along his path. Many a busy, toiling editor 
has filled his daily columns for years, without leaving a 
living page behind him ; while Brainard, with all his fail- 
ings and irregularities, has left a collection of gems which will 
be cherished to immortality. And among all that he wrote 

164 fhe Story of 

idly and recklessly, as it might seem there is not a line that, 
" dying, he could wish to blot." His love of parents, of 
home, of kindred, was beautiful indeed ; his love of nature, 
and especially of the scenes of his childhood, was the affection 
X)f one never weaned from the remembrance of his mother's 
breast. He was true in friendship, chivalrous in all that 
belonged to personal honour. I never heard him utter a ma- 
lignant thought I never knew him to pursue an unjust 
design. At the early age of eight-and-twenty, with a submis- 
eive spirit, he resigned himself to death, and in pious, gentle, 
cheerful faith, he departed on the 26th of September, 1828. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 165 





IT was on the llth of November, 1823, that I set sail in the 
" Canada," Captain Macy, on my first visit to Europe. I 
have now before me four volumes of notes made during my 
tour ; which I might, perhaps, have ventured to publish when 
they were fresh ; but since that period the world has been in- 
undated with tales of travels. I shall therefore only indulge 
in a rapid outline of my adventures, and a few sketches of 
men and things, which may perchance be of interest to the 

Our voyage was, as usual at that season of the year, 
tempestuous. As we approached the British Islands we were 
beset by a regular hurricane. On the 5th of December, the 
Captain kindly informed us that were almost precisely in the 
situation of the " Albion," the day before she was wrecked on 
the rocky headland of Kinsale, at the south-east extremity of 
Ireland ; an event which had spread general gloom through- 
out the United States. As night set in we were struck by a 
squall, and with difficulty the vessel was brought round, so as 

1 66 The Story of 

to lie to. The storm was fearful ; and the frequent concus- 
sions of the waves upon the ship, sounding like reports of 
artillery, made her reel and stagger like a drunken man. The 
morning came at last, and the weather was fair, but our deck 
was swept of its boats, bulwarks, and hen-coops. Our old 
cow in her hovel, the covering of the steerage, and that of the 
companion-way, were saved. The next morning we took a 
pilot, and on the 8th of December entered the dock at Liver- 

I had suffered fearfully by sea-sickness, and had scarcely 
strength to walk ashore. I felt such horror such disgust of 
the sea that I could easily have pledged myself never to 
venture upon it again. However, this all passed away like a 
dream : my strength revived ; and even my constitution, shat- 
tered by long suffering, seemed to be renovated. With the 
return of health and spirits, my journey to London was de- 
lightful. Though it was December, the landscape was in- 
tensely green, while the atmosphere was dark as twilight. 
And this was England ! Oh, what emotions filled my breast 
as I looked on Kenilworth, Warwick, and Lichfield, and at 
last on London ! 

I remained in the latter place about a month, and then 
went to Paris. In April I visited Switzerland and a portion 
of Germany, and followed the Khine to Cologne. Thence I 
travelled through Flanders and Holland, and taking a sloop 
at Rotterdam, swung down the Maese, and in May reached 
London again. 

I soon after departed for Bristol, taking Salisbury and 
Stonehenge in my way. Having reached that city, and seen 
its sights, I hired a post-coach, and went to Barley-wood; 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 167 

some ten miles distant. Hannah. More was still living there ! 
The house was a small thatched edifice half-cottage and 
half- villa tidily kept, and garnished with vines and trel- 
lises. Its site was on a gentle hill, sloping to the south-east, 
and commanding a charming view over the undulating country 
around, including the adjacent village of Wrington, with 
a wide valley sloping to the Bristol Channel; the latter 
sparkling in the distance, and bounded by the Welsh moun- 
tains in the far horizon. Behind the house, and on the crown 
of the hill, was a small copse, threaded with neat gravel walks, 
and at particular points embellished with objects of interest. 
In one place there was a little rustic temple, with this motto 
"Audi, Hospes, contemnere opes;" in another, there was a stone 
monument, erected to the memory of Bishop Porteus, who 
had been a particular friend of the proprietor of the place. A 
little further on I found another monument, with this inscrip- 
tion : " To John Locke, born in this village, this monument is 
erected by Mrs. Montague, and presented to Hannah More" 
From this sequestered spot an artificial opening was cut 
through the foliage of the trees, giving a view of the house 
about a mile distant in which Locke was born! 

Mrs. More was now seventy -nine years of age, and was 
very infirm, having kept her room for two years. 

She received me with great cordiality, and mentioned 
several Americans who had visited her, and others, with whom 
she had held correspondence. Her mind and feelings were 
alive to every subject that was suggested. She spoke very 
freely of her writings and her career. I told her of the in- 
terest I had taken, when a child, in the story of the Shepherd 
of Salisbury Plain ; upon which she recounted its history, 

1 68 The Story of 

remarking that the character of the hero was modelled from 
life, though the incidents were fictitious. Her tract, called 
Village Politics, by Witt Chip, was written at the request 
of the British Ministry, and two million copies were sold the 
first year. She showed me copies of Coelebs in Search of a 
Wife the most successful of her works in French and 
German ; and a copy of one of her Sacred Dramas, Moses 
in the Bulrushes, on palm-leaves, in the Cingalese tongue; 
it having been translated into that language by the Missionary 
School at Ceylon. She showed me also the knife with which 
the leaf had been prepared, and the scratches made in it to re- 
ceive the ink. She expressed a warm interest in America, 
and stated that Wilberforce had always exerted himself to 
establish and maintain good relations between Great Britain 
and our country. I suggested to her that, in the United 
States, the general impression that of the great mass of the 
people was that the English were unfriendly to us. She 
said it was not so. I replied that the Americans all read the 
English newspapers, and generally the products of the British 
press ; that feelings of dislike, disgust, animosity, certainly 
pervaded most of these publications ; and it was natural to 
suppose that these were the reflections of public opinion in 
Great Britain : at all events, our people regarded them as 
such, and hence inferred that England was our enemy. She 
expressed great regret at this state of things, and said all good 
people should strive to keep peace between the two countries : 
to all which I warmly assented. 

My interview with this excellent lady was, on the whole, 
most gratifying. Regarding her as one of the greatest bene- 
factors of the age >as, indeed, one of the most remarkable 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 169 

women that had ever lived I looked upon her not only with 
veneration, but affection. Besides, I felt that I owed her a 
special debt ; and my visit to her was almost like a pilgrimage 
to the shrine of a divinity. When I left America, I had it in 
mind to render my travels subservient to a desire I had long 
entertained of making an improvement in books for the young. 
I had sought in London, France, and Germany, for works 
that might aid my design. It is true I had little success ; for 
while scientific and classical education was sedulously encou- 
raged on the Continent, as well as in England, it seemed to be 
thought that Dilworth and Mother Goose had done all that 
could be done. In this interview with Mrs. More I had the 
subject still in mind ; and discerning by what she had accom- 
plished the vast field that was open, and actually inviting cul- 
tivation, I began from this time to think of attempting to 
realise the project I had formed. It is true that, in some 
respects, the example I had just contemplated differed from 
my own scheme. Hannah More had written chiefly for the 
grown-up masses ; whereas my plan was to begin further 
back with the children. Her means, however, seemed 
adapted to my purpose : her success, to encourage my at- 
tempt. She had discovered that truth could be made attrac- 
tive to simple minds. Fiction was, indeed, often her vehicle ; 
but it was not her end. The great charm of these works, 
which had captivated the million, was their verisimilitude. 
Was there not, then, a natural relish for truth in all minds ; 
or, at least, was there not a way of presenting it, which made 
it even more interesting than romance? Did not children 
love truth ? If so, was it necessary to feed them on fiction ? 
Could not History, Natural History, Geography, Biography, 

170 The Story of 

become the elements of juvenile works, in place of fairies and 
giants, and mere monsters of the imagination ? These were 
the inquiries that from this time filled my mind. 

Taking leave of Barley-wood and its interesting occupant, 
I traversed Wales, and embarking at Holyhead, passed over 
to Ireland. Having seen Dublin, with the extraordinary 
contrasts of sumptuousness in some of its streets and edifices, 
with the fearful squalidness and poverty in others, I passed 
on to the North ; and after visiting the Giant's Causeway re- 
turned to Belfast, and embarked in a steamboat for Greenock. 
, Thence I proceeded toward Dumbarton, and in the early 
evening, as I approached the town in a small steamer, I 
realised in the distance before me the scene of the song, 

" The sun has gone down o'er the lofty Ben Lomond, 
And left the red clouds to preside o'er the scene." 

On the morrow I went to Loch Lomond, crossing the lake 
in a steamboat ; thence on foot to Callender ; and spent two 
days around Loch Katrine, amid the scenery of the Lady of 
the Lake. With a copy of that poem in my hand, .which I 
had bought of a countryman on the borders of Loch Lomond, 
I easily traced out the principal landmarks of the story: 
" Ellen's Isle," nearly in the middle of the lake ; on the 
northern shore, " the Silver Strand," where the maiden met 
Fitz- James ; far to the east, Benain, rearing its " forehead 
fair" to the sky; to the south, the rocky pyramid called 
" Roderick's Watch-tower;" and still beyond, the " Goblin's 
Cave." Leaving the lake, I passed through the Trosachs, a 
wild, rocky glen, and the scene of the most startling events in 
the poem. At last I came to Coilantogle Ford, where the 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 171 

deadly struggle took place between the two heroes of the poem 
Roderick and Fitz- James. Finally, I went to the borders 
of Loch Achray, a placid sheet of water, beautiful by nature, 
but still more enchanting through the delightful associations 
of poetic art. 

" The minstrel came once more to view 
The eastern ridge of Benvenue, 
For, ere he parted, he would say 
Farewell to lovely Loch Achray. 
Where shall he find, in foreign land, 
So lone a lake, so sweet a strand!" 

But I must forbear. I have pledged myself not to weary 
my reader with descriptions of scenery, and especially with 
that which is familiar to every one. I will try not to sin 
again : at least till I get out of Scotland. Having spent two 
days in this region of poetry and romance, I left for Glasgow, 
and at last reached Edinburgh. 

172 The Story of 






EDINBURGH was then decidedly the literary metropolis of the 
three kingdoms ; not through the amount of its productions, 
but their superiority. I had several letters of introduction ; 
among them one to Blackwood ; another to Constable ; another 

to Miss Y . The latter proved fortunate. Her father 

was a Writer to the Signet ; an elderly gentleman of excellent 
position, and exceedingly fond of showing off " Auld Reekie." 
Well, indeed, might he be ; for of all the cities I have seen, it 
is, in many respects, the most interesting. I am told it is 
gloomy in winter; but now it was summer. And in these 
high latitudes, nature makes ample amends in this season for 
the gloom and inclemency of the winter. 

The day after delivering my letters, Mr. Y called on 

me, and showed me the lions of the town. Many of them all, 
indeed were interesting ; but I pass them by, and shall only 
linger a short time at the Court of Sessions, which is the su- 
preme civil court of Scotland. This, with the High Court of 
Justiciary the supreme criminal court forms the College 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 173 

of Justice, and constitutes the supreme tribunal of Scotland. 
Their sessions are held in the old Parliament House, situated 
in the centre of the Old Town. 

We entered a large Gothic hall, opening, as I observed, 
into various contiguous apartments. Here I saw a con- 
siderable number of persons, mostly lawyers and their clients ; 
some sauntering, some meditating, some gathered in groups 
and conversing together. There was a large number of people 
distributed through the several apartments, and in the grand 
hall there was a pervading hum of voices, which rose and 
rumbled, and died away amid the groinings of the roof 

Among the persons in this hall, a man some thirty years 
of age, tall and handsome, dressed in a gown, but without the 
wig, attracted my particular attention. He was walking 
apart, and there was a certain look of coldness and haughtiness 
about him. Nevertheless, for some undefinable reason, he 
excited in me a lively curiosity. 

" Who is that gentleman ?" said I, to my guide. 

" That large, noble-looking person, with a gown and wig ? 
That is Cranstoun, one of our first lawyers, and the brother- 
in-law of Dugald Stuart." 

" No : that person beyond, and to the left ? He is without 
a wig." 

" Oh, that's Oockburn ; a fiery Whig, and one" of the 
keenest fellows we have at the bar." 

" Yes : but I mean that younger person near the corner." 

" Oh, that small, red-faced, freckled man ? Why, that's 
Moncrief; a very sound lawyer. His father, Sir Harry 
Moncrief, is one of the most celebrated divines in Scotland." 

174 The Story of 

" No, no ; it is that tall, handsome, proud-looking person, 
walking by himself." 

" Oh, I see : that's Lockhart, Sir Walter Scott's son-in- 
law. Would you like to know him?" 

" Yes." 

And so I was introduced to a man who, at that time, was 
hardly less an object of interest to me than Scott himself. 
Though a lawyer by profession, he had devoted himself to 
literature, and was now in the very height of his career. 
Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk, Valerius, and other works, 
had given him a prominent rank as a man of talent ; and, 
besides, in 1820, he had married the eldest daughter of the 
" Great Unknown." My conversation with him was brief at 
this time, but I afterwards became well acquainted with him. 

My guide now led me into one of the side-rooms, where I 
saw a judge and jury, and a lawyer addressing them. The 
latter was a very small man, without gown or wig, apparently 
about forty years of age, though he might be somewhat older. 
He was of dark complexion, with an eye of intense blackness, 
and almost painfully-piercing expression. His motions were 
quick and energetic, his voice sharp and penetrating ; his 
general aspect exciting curiosity rather than affection. He 
was speaking energetically, and as we approached the bar 
my conductor said to me, in a whisper, "Jeffrey!" 

We paused, and listened intently. The case in itself 
seemed dry enough : something, I believe, about a stoppage 
in transitu. But Jeffrey's pleading was admirable ; clear, 
progressive, logical. Occasionally, in fixing upon a weak point 
of his adversary, he displayed a leopard-like spring of energy, 
altogether startling. He seized upon a certain point in the 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 175 

history of the case, and insisted that the property in question 
rested at that period in the hands of the defendant's agent, for 
at least a fortnight. This he claimed to be fatal to his adver- 
sary's plea. Having stated the facts, with a clearness which 
seemed to prove them, he said, turning with startling quick- 
ness upon his antagonist, " Now, I ask my learned brother 
to tell me, what was the state of the soul during that fort- 
night?" To a jury of Scotch Presbyterians, familiar with 
theological metaphysics, this allusion was exceedingly pertinent 
and effective. 

We passed into another room. Three full-wigged judges 
were seated upon a lofty bench, and beneath them, at a little 
table in front, was a large man, bent down and writing labo- 
riously. As I approached, I caught a side-view of his face. 
There was no mistaking him : it was Sir Walter himself ! 

Was it not curious to see the most renowned personage in 
the three kingdoms sitting at the very feet of these men : 
they the court, and he the clerk ? They were indeed all 
" lords," and their individual names were suggestive to the 
ear : one was Robertson, son of the historian of Charles V. ; 
another was Gillies, brother of the renowned Grecian scholar 
of that name ; another, Mackenzie, son of the author of the 
Man of feeling. These are high titles ; but what were they 
to the author of Waverley ? 

Mr. Y introduced me to him at once, breaking in 

upon his occupation with easy familiarity. As he arose from 
his seat, I was surprised at his robust, vigorous frame. He 
was very nearly six feet in height, full-chested, and of a farmer- 
like aspect. His complexion seemed to have been originally 
sandy, but now his hair was grey. He had the rough, 

176 The Story of 

freckled, weather-beaten skin of a man who is much in the 
open air ; his eye was small and grey, and peered out keenly 
and inquisitively from beneath a heavy brow, edged with 
something like grey, twisted bristles : the whole expression of 
his face, however, was exceedingly agreeable. 

He greeted me kindly, the tone of his voice being hearty, 
yet with a very decided Scotch accent. A few common- 
place remarks, and one or two inquiries as to my acquaintance 
with American literary men, was all that passed between us 
on this occasion; but subsequently, as will be seen, I was 
more highly favoured. 

One morning I found a note at my hotel, from Miss 

Y , inviting me to breakfast. I went at ten, and we had 

a pleasant chat. She then proposed a ride, to which I ac- 
ceded. She was already in her riding-habit ; so without 
delay we went forth, calling first upon Mrs. Russell. She led 
us into another room, and there, on the floor, in a romp with 
her two boys, was Francis Jeffrey!* Think of the first 

* Mr. Jeffrey was born in Edinburgh in 1773. He was admitted 
to the bar at the age of twenty-one ; having little practice for a time, 
he sedulously pursued the study of belles-lettres, history, ethics, 
criticism, &c. In 1802, at the age of twenty-nine, he founded the 
Edinburgh Review, of which he continued as principal editor till 1829 
placing it above every other work of the kind which had ever 
appeared. In ]81(3 he was acknowledged to be at the head of the 
Scottish bar as an advocate. Having held other high stations, he was 
appointed, in 1830, Lord-Advocate of Scotland, and became a member 
of Parliament. In 1834 he was raised to the bench as one of the 
judges of the Court of Sessions. He died at Edinburgh in 1850. He 
married in 1813, at New York, Miss Wilkes, grand-niece of the cele- 
brated John Wilkes of England. In 1815 he became the occupant of 
the villa of Craigcrook, near Edinburgh, anciently a monastery, but 
improved and beautified. Here he was residing at the time I saw him. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 177 

lawyer in Scotland, the lawgiver of the great republic of 
letters throughout Christendom, having a rough-and-tumble 
on the floor, as if he were himself a boy ! Let others think 
as they will, I loved him from that moment ; and ever after, 
as I read his criticisms, cutting and scorching as they often 
were, I fancied that I could still see a kind and genial spirit 
shining through them all. At least it is certain that, behind 
his editorial causticity, there was in private life a fund of gen- 
tleness and geniality which endeared him to all who enjoyed 
his intimacy. I was now introduced to him, and he seemed 
a totally different being from the fierce and fiery gladiator of 
the legal arena, where I had before seen him. His manners 
were gentle and gentlemanly : polite to the ladies and gracious 
to me. 

We found Mrs. Russell in a riding-dress, and prepared to 
accompany us in our excursion. Taking leave of Mr. Jeffrey, 
we went to the stable, and having mounted, walked our steeds 
gently out of the town by Holyrood, and to the east of Ar- 
thur's Seat, leaving Portobello on the left. We rode steadily, 
noting a few objects as we passed, until at last, reaching an 
elevated mound, we paused, and the ladies directed my atten- 
tion to the scenes around. We were some two miles south of 
the town, upon one of the slopes of the Braid Hills. What 
a view was before us ! The city, a vast smoking hive, to the 
north ; and to the right, Arthur's Seat, bald and blue, seeming 
to rise up and almost peep into its streets and chimneys. Over 
and beyond all was the sea. The whole area between the 
point where we stood and that vast azure line, blending with 
the sky, was a series of abrupt hills and dimpling valleys, 
threaded by a network of highways and byways ; honey- 

178 The Story of 

combed in spots by cities and villages, and elsewhere sprinkled 
with country seats. 

It is an unrivalled scene of varied beauty and interest. 
The natural site of Edinburgh is remarkable, consisting of 
three rocky ledges, steepling over deep ravines. These have 
all been modified by art ; in one place a lake has been dried 
up, and is now covered with roads, bridges, tenements, gar- 
dens, and lawns. The sides of the cliffs are in some instances 
covered with masses of buildings, occasionally rising tier upon 
tlsr in one place presenting a line of houses a dozen stories 
in height ! The city is divided by a deep chasm into two 
distinct parts : the Old Town, dark and smoky, and justifying 
the popular appellation of "Auld Reekie ; " the other, the New 
Town, with the fresh architecture and the rich and elaborate 
embellishments of a modern city. Nearly from the centre of 
the old town rises the Castle, three hundred and eighty feet 
above the level of the sea ; on one side looking down almost 
perpendicularly, two hundred feet into the vale beneath; on 
the other, holding communication with the streets by means 
of a winding pathway. In the new town is Calton Hill, rich 
with monuments of art and memorials of history. From these 
two commanding positions the views are unrivalled. 

But I forget that I have taken you to the Braid Hills. 
My amiable guides directed my attention to various objects 
some far and some near, and all with names familiar to his- 
tory, or song, or romance. Yonder mass of dun and dismal 
ruins was Craigmillar Castle, once the residence of Queen 
Mary. Nearly in the same direction, and not remote, is the 
cliff, above whose bosky sides peer out the massive ruins of 
Roslin Castle ; further south are glimpses of Dalkeith Palace, 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 179 

the sumptuous seat of the Duke of Buccleuch ; there is the 
busy little village of Lasswade, which takes the name of 
" Gandercleugh" in the Tales of my Landlord ; yonder winds 
the Esk, and there the Galawater both familiar in many a 
song; and there is the scenery of the Gentle Shepherd, 
presenting the very spot where that inimitable colloquy took 
place between Peggy and her companion Jenny, 

" Gae farer up the burn to Habbie's How, 
Where a' the sweets p' spring an' summer grow : 
Between twa birks, out o'er a little linn, 
The water fa's and makes a singan din : 
A pool, breast deep, beneath as clear as glass, 
Kisses wi 1 easy whirls the bordering grass. 
We '11 end our washing while the morning 's cool, 
And when the day grows hot we '11 to the pool, 
There wash oursels it 's healthful now in May, 
An' sweetly caller on sae warm a day." 

While we were surveying these scenes the rain began to 
fall in a fine, insinuating mizzle; soon large drops pattered 
through the fog, and at last there was a drenching shower. 
I supposed the ladies would seek some shelter ; not they : 
accustomed to all the humours of this drizzly climate, and of 
course defying them. They pulled off their green veils, and 
stuffed them into their saddle-pockets; then chirruping to 
their steeds, they sped along the road, as if mounted on 
broomsticks. I was soon wet through, and so, doubtless, 
were they. However, they took to it as ducks to a pond. 
On we went, the water accelerated by our speed spouting 
in torrents from our stirrups. In all my days I had never 
such an adventure. And the coolness with which the ladies 
took it, that was the most remarkable. Indeed, it was 

i8o The Story of 

provoking : for as they would not accept sympathy, of course 
they could not give it, though my reeking condition would 
have touched any other heart than theirs. On we went, till 
at last, coming to the top of a hill, we suddenly cropped out 
into the sunshine, the shower still scudding along the valley 
beneath us. We continued our ride, getting once more soaked 
on our way, and again drying in the sun. At last we reached 
home, having made a circuit of fifteen miles. Scarcely a word 
was said of the rain. I saw the ladies to their residences, and 
was thankful when I found myself once more in my hotel. 
As a just moral of this adventure, I suggest to any 
American, who may ride with Scotch ladies around Edinburgh, 
not to go forth in his best dress -coat, and trousers without 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 1 8 1 






I DELIVERED my letter of introduction to Blackwood, and 
he treated me very kindly. I found him an exceedingly 
intelligent and agreeable gentleman. The Magazine which 
bears his name was then in its glory, and of course a part of 
its radiance shone on him. He was a man of excellent judg- 
ment in literary matters, and his taste, no doubt, contributed 
largely to the success of the Magazine. 

Of course I was gratified at receiving from him a note, 
inviting me to dine with him the next day. His house was 
on the south of the old town, nearly two miles distant. The 
persons present were such as I should myself have selected : 
among them Lockhart and James Ballantyne. I sat next the 
latter, and found him exceedingly agreeable and gentlemanlike. 
He was a rather large man, handsome, smooth in person and 
manner, and very well dressed. It must be remembered, that 
at this time Scott did not acknowledge that he was the author 
of the Waverley novels, nor did his friends. Perhaps the mys- 
tery was even promoted by them ; for, no doubt, it added to 
the interest excited by his works. However, the veil was not 

1 82 The Story of 

closely preserved in the circle of intimacy. Ballantyne said to 
me, in the course of a conversation which turned upon the 
popularity of authors, as indicated by the sale of their 
works, " We have now in course of preparation forty thou- 
sand volumes of Scott's poems and the works of the author 
of Waverley:" evidently intimating the identity of their 

There was nothing remarkable in the conversation save 
only what related to Byron. The news of his death at Misso- 
longhi had reached Scotland a few weeks before, and produced 
a profound sensation. Even while I was there, the interest in 
the subject had not subsided. Mr. Lockhart had not known 
Byron personally, but he was in London soon after his de- 
parture for tha Continent and at several subsequent periods, 
and he gave us many interesting details respecting him. He 
was frequently at Lady Caroline Lamb's soirdes, where Byron 
was the frequent theme of comment. She had a drawer -full 
of his letters, and intimate friends were permitted to read them. 
She had also borrowed of Murray the poet's manuscript auto- 
biography given to Moore, and had copied some of its pas- 
sages. This was soon discovered, and she was obliged to 
suppress them ; but still passages of them got into circulation. 
The work was written in a daring, reckless spirit, setting at 
defiance all the laws of propriety, and even of decency. It 
was obvious, from what was said by Mr. Lockhart and 
others, that such were the gross personalities and the general 
licentiousness of this production, that it was impossible for 
any respectable publisher to be concerned in giving it to the 
world. The consignment of it to the flames by his friends, 
was as much dictated by regard to thjeir own characters as 

Peter Parley's Own Life, 183 

to the fame of the author, which was in a certain degree 
committed to their keeping. 

The next day I went to St. Giles's Church, to see the 
General Assembly, then holding its annual session there. 
This body consisted of nearly four hundred members, chosen 
by different parishes, boroughs, and universities. The sessions 
are attended by a Commissioner appointed by the Crown, but 
he is seated outside of the area assigned to the Assembly, and 
has no vote, and no right of debate. He sits under a canopy, 
with the insignia of royalty, and a train of gaily-dressed 
pages. He opens the sessions in the name of the King, the 
Head of the Church : the Moderator then opens it in the 
name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only true Head of the 
Church ! It appears that the Scotch, in bargaining for a 
union with England, took good care to provide for their 
religious independence, and this they still jealously preserve. 

The aspect of the Assembly was similar to that of the 
House of Commons, though somewhat graver. I observed 
that the debates were often stormy, with scraping of the floor, 
laughing aloud, and cries of " Hear, hear ! " The members 
were, in fact, quite disorderly, showing at least as little regard 
for decorum as ordinary legislatures. Sir Walter Scott once 
remarked, in my hearing, that it had never yet been decided 
how many more than six members could speak at once ! 

The persons here pointed out to me as celebrities were 
Dr. Chalmers, the famous pulpit orator ; Dr. Cook, the eccle- 
siastical historian ; and Dr. Baird, principal of the University. 
The first of these was now at the height of his fame. He had 
already begun those reforms which, some years later, resulted 
in a disruption of the Scottish Church. 

184 The Story of 

A few days after the dinner at Mr. Blackwood's I dined 
with Mr. Lockhart. Besides the host and hostess, there were 
present Sir Walter Scott, his son, Charles Scott, Mr. Black- 
wood, and three or four other persons. At dinner I sat next 
Sir Walter. Everything went off pleasantly, with the usual 
ease, hospitality, and heartiness of an English dinner. 

After the ladies had retired the conversation became 
general and animated. Byron was the engrossing topic. 
Sir Walter spoke of him with the deepest feeling of admira- 
tion and regret. A few weeks before, on the receipt of the 
news of his death, he had written an obituary notice of him, 
in which he compared him to the sun, withdrawn from the 
heavens at the very moment when every telescope was 
levelled to discover either his glory or his spots. 

Lockhart and Blackwood both told stories, and we passed 
a pleasant half hour. The wine was at last rather low, and 
our host ordered the servant to bring more. Upon which 
Scott said, "No, no, Lokert" such was his pronunciation of 
his son-in-law's name " we have had enough : let us go and 
see the ladies." And so we gathered to the parlour. 

Mrs. Lockhart spoke with great interest of Washington 
Irving, who had visited the family at Abbotsford. She said 
that he slept in a room which looked out on the Tweed. In 
the morning, when he came down to breakfast, he was very 
pale, and being asked the reason, confessed that he had not 
been able to sleep. The sight of the Tweed from his window, 
and the consciousness of being at Abbotsford, so filled his ima- 
gination, so excited his feelings, as to deprive him of slumber. 

Our lively hostess was requested to give us some music, 
and instantly complied the harp being her instrument. She 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 185 

sang Scotch airs, and played several pibrochs, all with taste 
and feeling. Her range of tunes seemed* inexhaustible. Her 
father sat by, and entered heartily into the performances. He 
beat time vigorously with his lame leg, and frequently helped 
out a chorus, the heartiness of his tones making up for some 
delinquencies in tune and time. Often he made remarks upon 
the songs, and told anecdotes respecting them. When a cer- 
tain pibroch had been played, he said it reminded him of the 
first time he ever saw Miss Edgeworth. There had come to 
Abbotsford a wild Gaelic peasant from the neighbourhood of 
Staffa, and it was proposed to him to sing a pibroch common 
in that region. He had consented, but required the whole 
party present to sit in a circle on the floor, while he should 
sing the song, and perform a certain pantomimic accompani- 
ment, in the centre. All was accordingly arranged in the 
great hall, and the performer had just begun his wild chant, 
when in walked a small but stately lady, and announced 
herself as Miss Edgeworth! 

Mrs. Lockhart asked me about the American Indians, 
expressing great curiosity concerning them. I told the story 
of one who was tempted to go into the rapids of the Niagara 
river, just above the Falls, for a bottle of rum. This he took 
with him, and having swam out to the point agreed upon, he 
turned back and attempted to regain the land. For a long 
time the result was doubtful : he struggled powerfully, but in 
vain ; inch by inch he receded from the shore ; and at last, 
finding his doom sealed, he raised himself above the water, 
wrenched the cork from the bottle, and putting the latter to 
his lips, yielded to the current, and thus went down to his 

1 86 The Story of 

Sir Walter then said that lie had read an account of an 
Indian, who was in a boat, approaching a cataract ; by some 
accident it was drawn into the current, and the savage saw 
that his escape was impossible. Upon this he arose, wrapped 
his robe of skins around him, seated himself erect, and, with 
an air of imperturbable gravity, went over the falls. 

" The most remarkable thing about the American In- 
dians," said Blackwood, " is their being able to follow in the 
trail of their enemies, by their footprints left in the leaves, upon 
the grass, and even upon the moss of the rocks. The accounts 
given of this seem hardly credible." 

" I can readily believe it, however," said Sir Walter. 
" You must remember that this is a part of their education. 
-I have learned at Abbotsford to discriminate between the 
hoof-marks of all our neighbours' horses, and I taught the 
same thing to Mrs. Lockhart. It is, after all, not so difficult 
as you might think. Every horse's foot has some peculiarity, 
either of size, shoeing, or manner of striking the earth. I 
was once walking with Southey a mile or more from home 
across the fields. At last we came to a bridle-path leading 
toward Abbotsford, and here I noticed fresh hoof-prints. Of 
this I said nothing; but pausing, and looking up with an 
inspired expression, I said to Southey, ' I have the gift of 
second sight : we shall have a stranger to dinner ! ' 

" ' And what may be his name ? ' was the reply. 

" ' Scott/ said I. 

" ' Ah, it is some relation of yours,' he said ; ' you have 
invited him, and you would pass off, as an example of 
your Scottish gift of prophecy, a matter previously agreed 
upon ! ' 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 187 

" ' Not at all, 1 said I. ' I assure you that, till this 
moment, I never thought of such a thing.' 

" When we got home, I was told that Mr. Scott, a farmer 
living some three or four miles distant, and a relative of mine, 
was waiting to see me. Southey looked astounded. The man 
remained to dinner, and he was asked if he had given any 
intimation of his coming. He replied in the negative : that, 
indeed, he had no idea of visiting Abbotsford when he left 
home. After enjoying Southey's wonder for some time, I told 
him that I saw the tracks of Mr. Scott's horse in the bridle- 
path, and inferring that he was going to Abbotsford, easily 
foresaw that we should have him to dinner." 

Presently the conversation turned upon Burns. Scott knew 
him well. He said that Tarn 0' Shanter was written to please 
a stonecutter, who had executed a monument for the poet's 
father, on condition that he should write him a witch -story in 
verse. He stated that Burns was accustomed in his corre- 
spondence, more especially with ladies, to write an elaborate 
letter, and then send a copy of it to several persons ; modifying 
local and personal passages to suit each individual. He said 
that of some of these letters he had three or four copies, thus 
addressed to different persons, and all in the poet's hand- 

The evening passed in pleasant conversation, varied by the 
music of Mrs. Lockhart's voice and harp ; and some amusing 
imitations by a gentleman of the party, till twelve o'clock. 
It will readily be supposed that my eye often turned upon 
the chief figure in this interesting group. I could not for a 
moment forget his presence; though nothing could be more 
unpretending and modest than his whole air and bearing. 

1 88 The Story of 

The general effect of his face was that of calm dignity ; 
and now, in the presence of children and friends, lighted by 
genial emotions, it was one of the pleasantest countenances I 
have ever seen. When standing or walking, his manly form, 
added to an aspect of benevolence, completed the image ; at 
once exciting affection and commanding respect. 

His manners were quiet, unpretending, absolutely without 
self-assertion. He appeared to be happy, and desirous of 
making others so. He was the only person present who 
seemed unconscious that he was the author of Waverley. His 
intercourse with his daughter was most charming. She 
seemed quite devoted to him ; watching his lips when he was 
speaking, and seeking in everything to anticipate and fulfil 
his wishes. When she was singing, his eye dwelt upon her ; 
his ear catching and seeming to relish every tone. Frequently, 
when she was silent, his eye rested upon her, and the lines came 
to my mind, 

" Some feelings are to mortals given, 
With less of earth in them than heaven : 
And if there be a human tear 
From passion's dross refined and clear, 
A tear so limpid and so meek 
It would not stain an angel's cheek : 
'Tis that which pious fathers shed 
Upon a duteous daughter's head ! " 

Eight years later, when I was again there, Scott was on 
his death -bed at Abbotsford. Overburdened with the struggle 
to extricate himself from the wreck of his fortunes, his brain 
had given way, and the mighty intellect was in ruins. On 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 189 

the morning of the 17th he woke from a paralytic slumber; 
his eye clear and calm, every trace of delirium having passed 
away. Lockhart came to his bedside. " My dear," he said, 
" I may have but a moment to speak to you. Be a good 
man : be virtuous ; be religious : be a good man. Nothing 
else will give you any comfort when you are called upon to 
lie here!" 

These were almost the last words he spoke ; he soon fell 
into a stupor, which became the sleep of death. So he died, 
with all his children around him. " It was a beautiful day," 
says his biographer ; "so warm, that every window was wide 
open ; and so perfectly still, that the sound of all others most 
delicious to his ear the gentle ripple of the Tweed over its 
pebbles was distinctly audible, as we knelt around the bed; 
and his eldest son kissed and closed his eyes !" 

1 90 The Story of 




EARLY in June I set out for London. My route led me 
through the village of Dalkeith, and the possessions of the 
Duke of Buccleuch, which extended for thirty miles on both 
sides of the road. We were constantly meeting objects which 
revived historical or poetic reminiscences. Among these was 
Cockpen, the scene of the celebrated ballad ; and as I rode by 
the whole romance passed before my mind. I fancied that I 
could even trace the pathway along which the old laird pro- 
ceeded upon his courtship, as well as the residence of 

" The penniless lass wi' a lang pedigree ; " 
who was so daft as to reject his offer, although 

" His wig -was well powthered and as gude as new ; 
His waistcoat was red, and his coat it was blue ; 
A ring on his finger, a sword and cocked hat 
And wha could refuse the laird wi' a' that ?" 

We crossed the Galawater and the Ettrick, and travelled 
along the banks of the Tweed. We passed Abbotsford on our 
left ; and further on saw the Eildon Hills, " cleft in three" by 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 191 

the wondrous wizard, Michael Scott; as duly chronicled in 
the Lay of the Last Minstrel. We proceeded along the 
banks of the Teviot, a small limpid stream, where barefooted 
lassies were washing, as in the days of Allan Ramsay. We 
saw Netherby Hall, and a little beyond Cannobie Lea, the 
scenes of the song of Young Lochinvar. All these, and many 
more localities of legendary fame, were passed in the course of 
a forenoon's progress in the stage-coach. 

One day's journey brought me to Carlisle : thence I tra- 
velled through the lake district, looking with delight upon 
Windermere, Rydal, Grassmere, Helvellyn, Derwentwater, and 
Skiddaw. Then turning eastward, I passed over a hilly and 
picturesque country, to the ancient and renowned city of York. 
Having lingered, half entranced, amid its antiquities, and 
looked almost with worship upon its cathedral the most 
beautiful I have ever seen I departed, and soon found myself 
once more in London. 

As I shall not return to the subject again, I must say a 
few words as to the impression England makes upon the mind 
of an American traveller. I have visited this country several 
times within the last thirty years, and I shall group my im- 
pressions in one general view. The whole may be summed 
up in a single sentence, which is, that England is incom- 
parably the most beautiful country in the world ! I do not 
speak of it in winter, when encumbered with fogs; when 
there is 

" No sun, no moon, no morn, no noon, 

No dusk, no dawn no proper time of day; 

No sky, no earthly view, no distance looking blue ; 

No road, no street, no t'other side the way ! " 

192 The Story of 

I take her, as I do any other beauty who sits for her por- 
trait, in her best attire; that is, in summer. The sun rises 
here as high in June as it does in America. Vegetation is 
just about as far advanced. The meadows, the wheat -fields, 
the orchards, the forests, are in their glory. There is one 
difference, however, between the two countries; the sun in 
England is not so hot, the air is not so highly perfumed, the 
buzz of the insects is not so intense. Everything is more 
tranquil. With us, all nature, during summer, appears to be 
in haste : as if its time was short ; as if it feared the coming 
frost. In England, on the contrary, there seems to be a con- 
fidence in the seasons, as if there were time for the ripening 
harvests ; as if the wheat might swell out its fat sides, the hop 
amplify its many-plaited flowers, the oats multiply and in- 
crease their tassels ; each and all attaining their perfection at 
leisure. In the United States, the period of growth of most 
vegetables is compressed into ten weeks ; in Great Britain, it 
extends to sixteen. 

If we select the middle of June as a point of comparison, 
we shall see that in America there is a spirit, vigour, energy 
in the climate, as indicated by vegetable and animal life, un- 
known in Europe. The air is clearer, the landscape is more 
distinct, the bloom more vivid, the odours more pungent. A 
clover-field in America, in full bloom, is by many shades more 
ruddy than the same thing in England ; its breath even is 
sweeter : the music of the bees stealing its honey is of a higher 
key. A summer forest with us is of a livelier green than in 
any part of Great Britain ; the incense breathed upon the heart, 
morning and evening, is, I think, more full and fragrant. And 
yet, if we take the summer through, this season is pleasanter 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 193 

in England than with us. It is longer, its excitements are 
more tranquil, and, being spread over a larger space, the 
heart has more leisure to appreciate them, than in the haste 
and hurry of our American climate. 

There is one fact worthy of notice, which illustrates this 
peculiarity of the English summer : the trees there are all of a 
more sturdy, or, as we say, stubbed form and character. The 
oaks, the elms, the walnuts, beeches, are shorter and thicker, 
as well in the trunks as the branches, than ours. The 
leaves are thicker, the twigs larger in circumference. I have 
noticed particularly the recent growths of apple-trees, and they 
are at once shorter and stouter than in America. This 
quality in the trees gives a peculiarity to the landscape : the 
forest is more solid and less graceful than ours. If you will 
look at an English painting of trees, you notice the fact I 
state, and perceive the effect it gives, especially to scenes of 
which trees constitute a prevailing element. All over Europe, 
in fact, the leaves of the trees have a less feathery appearance 
than in America ; and in general the forms of the branches 
are less arching, and, of course, less beautiful. Hence it will 
be perceived that European pictures of trees differ in this re- 
spect from American ones : the foliage in the former being 
more solid, and the sweep of the branches more angular. 

But it is in respect to the effects of human art and in- 
dustry that the English landscape has the chief advantage 
over ours. England is an old country, and shows on its face 
the influences of fifteen centuries of cultivation. It is, with 
the exception of Belgium, the most thickly-settled country of 

It is under a garden-like cultivation; the ploughing is 


194 tte Story of 

straight and even, as if regulated by machinery; the boundaries 
of estates consist, for the most part, of stonemason-work, 
the intermediate divisions being hedges, neatly trimmed, and 
forming a beautiful contrast to our stiff stone walls and rail 
fences. In looking from the top of a hill over a large extent 
of country, it is impossible not to feel a glow of delight at the 
splendour of the scene : the richness of the soil, its careful and 
skilful cultivation, its green, tidy boundaries chequering the 
scene, its teeming crops, its fat herds, its numberless and full- 
fleeced sheep. 

Nor must the dwellings be overlooked. I pass by the cities 
and the manufacturing villages, which, in most parts, are 
visible in every extended landscape ; sometimes, as in the 
region of Manchester, spreading out for miles, and sending up 
wreaths of smoke from a thousand tall, tapering chimneys. I 
am speaking now of the country; and here are such residences 
as are unknown to us. An English castle would swallow up 
a dozen of our wood or brick villas. The adjacent estate often 
includes a thousand acres ; and these, be it remembered, are 
kept almost as much for ornament as use. Think of a dwelling 
that might gratify the pride of a prince, surrounded by several 
square miles of wooded park, and shaven lawn, and winding 
stream, and swelling hill ; and all having been for a hundred, 
perhaps five hundred years, subjected to every improvement 
which the highest art could suggest ! There is certainly a 
union of unrivalled beauty and magnificence in the lordly 
estates of England. We have nothing in America which at 
all resembles them. 

And then there is every grade of imitation of these high 
examples scattered over the whole country. The greater part 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 195 

of the surface of England belongs to wealthy proprietors, 'and 
these have alike the desire and the ability to give an aspect of 
neatness, finish, and elegance, not only to their dwellings and 
the immediate grounds, but to their entire estates. The pre- 
vailing standard of taste thus leads to a universal beautifying 
of the surface of the country. Even the cottager feels the in- 
fluence of this omnipresent spirit : the brown thatch over 
his dwelling, and the hedge before his door, must be neatly 
trimmed ; the green ivy must clamber up and festoon his 
windows ; and the little yard in front must bloom with roses 
and lilies, and other gentle flowers, in their season. 

So much for the common aspect of England as the traveller 
passes over it. The seeker after the picturesque may find 
abundant gratification in Devonshire, Derbyshire, Westmore- 
land, though Wales and Scotland, and parts of Ireland, are 
still more renowned for their beauty. So far as combinations 
of nature are concerned, nothing in the world can surpass some 
of our own scenery ; as along the upper waters of the Housa- 
tonic and the Connecticut, or among the islands of Lake 
George, and a thousand other places : but these lack the em- 
bellishments of art and the associations of romance or song, 
which belong to the rival beauties of British landscapes. 

I confine these remarks to a single topic, the aspect of 
England as it meets the eye of an American traveller. The 
English do not and cannot enjoy the spectacle as an American 
does ; for they are born to it, and have no experience which 
teaches them to estimate it by common and inferior standards. 
Having said so much on this subject, I shall not venture to 
speak of English society : of the lights and shadows of life 
beneath the myriad roofs of towns and cities. The subject 

196 The Story of 

would be too extensive ; and, besides, it has been abundantly 
treated by others. I only say, in passing, that the English 
people are best studied at home. John Bull, out of his own 
house, is generally a rough customer : here, by his fireside, 
with wife, children, and friends, he is generous, genial, gentle- 
manly. There is no hospitality like that of an Englishman, 
when you have crossed his threshold. Everywhere else he 
will annoy you. He will poke his elbow into your sides in a 
crowded thoroughfare ; he will rebuff you if, sitting at his side 
in a railway-carriage, you ask a question by way of provoking 
a little conversation : he carries at his back a load of prejudices, 
like the bundle of Christian in the Pilgrim's Progress and, 
instead of seeking to get rid of them, he is always striving to 
increase his collection. If he becomes a diplomat, his great 
business is to meddle in everybody's affairs ; if an editor, he 
is only happy in proportion as he can say annoying and 
irritating things. And yet, catch this same John Bull at home, 
and his crusty, crocodile armour falls off, and he is the very 
best fellow in the world : liberal, hearty, sincere, the per- 
fection of a gentleman. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 197 








LONDON, when I first knew it, was not what it is now. Its 
population has at least doubled since 1824. At that time 
Charing Cross was a filthy, triangular thoroughfare, a stand 
for hackney-coaches, a grand panorama of showbills pasted 
over the surrounding walls, with the King's Mews in the im- 
mediate vicinity : this whole area is now the site of Trafalgar 
Square. This is an index of other and similar changes that 
have taken place all over the city. At the present day, Lon- 
don not only surpasses in its extent, its wealth, its accumula- 
tions of all that belongs to art, the extent of its commerce, the 
vastness of its influence, all the cities that now exist, but all 
that the world has before known. 

King George IV. was then on the throne, and though he 
was shy of showing himself in public, I chanced to see him 
several times, and once to advantage at Ascot Races. For 

198 The Story of 

more than an hour his majesty stood in the pavilion, sur- 
rounded by the Duke of Wellington, the Duke of York, the 
Marquis of Anglesea, and other persons of note. But for the 
star on his left breast, and the respect paid to him, he might 
have passed as only an over-dressed and rather sour old rake. 
I noticed that his coat sat very close and smooth, and was told 
that he was trussed and braced by stays. It was said to be 
the labour of at least two hours to prepare him for a public 
exhibition. He was a dandy to the last. The wrinkles of his 
coat, after it was on, were cut out by the tailor, and carefully 
drawn up with the needle. He had the gout, and walked 
badly. I imagine there were few among the thousands 
gathered to the spectacle who were really less happy than his 
majesty the monarch of the three kingdoms. 

I saw the Duke of Wellington not only on this, but on 
many subsequent occasions. I think the portraits give a 
false idea of his personal appearance. He was really a rather 
small, thin, insignificant-looking man, unless you saw him on 
horseback. He then seemed rather stately, and in a military 
dress, riding always with inimitable ease, he sustained the image 
of the great general. At other times I never could discover 
in his appearance anything but the features and aspect of an 
ordinary, and certainly not prepossessing, old man. I say this 
with great respect for his character, which, as a personification 
of solid sense, indomitable purpose, steady loyalty, and un- 
flinching devotion to a sense of public duty, I conceive to be 
one of the finest in British history. 

At this period our -countryman, Jacob Perldns, was asto- 
nishing London with his steam -gun. He was certainly a man 
of extraordinary genius, and was the originator of numerous 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 199 

useful inventions. At the time of which I write, he fancied 
that he had discovered a new mode of generating steam, by 
w r hich he was not only to save a vast amount of fuel, but to 
obtain a marvellous increase of power. So confident was he 
of success, that he told me he felt certain of being able, in a 
few months, to go from London to Liverpool with the steam 
produced by a gallon of oil. Such was his fertility of in- 
vention, that while pursuing one discovery others came into 
his mind, and, seizing upon his attention, kept him in a whirl 
of experiments, in which many things were begun, and 
comparatively nothing completed. 

Though the steam-gun never reached any practical result, 
it was for some time the admiration of London. I was pre- 
sent at an exhibition of its wonderful performances in the pre- 
sence of the Duke of Sussex, the Duke of Wellington, and 
other persons of note. The purpose of the machine was to 
discharge bullets by steam, instead of gunpowder, and with 
great rapidity at least a hundred a minute. The balls were 
put in a sort of tunnel, and by working a crank back and for- 
ward, they were let into the chamber of the barrel one by one, 
and expelled by the steam. The noise of each explosion was 
like that of a musket ; and when the discharges Avere rapid, 
there was a ripping uproar, quite shocking to tender nerves. 
The balls carried about a hundred feet across the smithy 
struck upon an iron target, and were flattened to the thickness 
of a shilling piece. 

The whole performance was indeed quite formidable, and 
the Duke of Sussex seemed greatly excited. I stood close to 
him : and when the bullets flew pretty thick, and the dis- 
charge came to its climax, I heard him say to the Duke of 

200 The Story of 

Wellington, in an under -tone, " Wonderful, wonderful 
wonderful ! wonderful, wonderful wonderful ! wonderful, 
wonderful wonderful I " and so he went on, without varia- 
tion. It was, in fact, a very good commentary upon the 

Having spoken of the Duke of Sussex, I must say a few 
words of his brother, the Duke of York, whom I had seen at 
Ascot. He was there interested in the race, for he had 
entered a horse by the name of Moses, for one of the prizes. 
Some person reflected upon him for this. His ready reply was, 
that he was devoted to Moses and the profits. Despite his dis- 
grace in the Flanders campaign, and his notorious profligacy, 
he was still a favourite among the British people. There was 
about him a certain native honourableness and goodness of heart, 
which always existed, even in the midst of his worst career. 

I saw the Duke on another occasion, at a cavalry review 
on Hounslow Heath. The Duke of Wellington was among 
the spectators. He was now in military dress, and mounted 
on a fine chestnut-coloured horse. His motions were quick, 
and frequently seemed to indicate impatience. Several ladies 
and gentlemen on horseback were admitted to the review, and 
within the circle of the sentries stationed to exclude the crowd. 
I obtained admission by paying five shillings ; for I learned 
that in England money is quite as mighty as in America. 
The privileged group of fair ladies and brave men, gathered 
upon a grassy knoll to observe the evolutions of the soldiers, 
presented an assemblage such as the aristocracy of England 
alone can furnish. Those who imagine that this is an effemi- 
nate generation, should learn that both the men and women 
belonging to the British nobility, taken together, are without 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 201 

doubt the finest race in the world. One thing is certain, these 
ladies conld stand fire; for although the horses leaped and 
pranced at the discharges of the troops, their fair riders seemed 
as much at ease as if upon their own feet. Their horseman- 
ship was indeed admirable, and suggested those habits of 
exercise and training, to which their full rounded forms and 
blooming countenances gave ample testimony. 

The performances consisted of various marches and counter- 
marches sometimes slow, and sometimes quick across the 
extended plain. The evolutions of the fly ing -artillery excited 
universal admiration. When the whole body about four 
thousand horse rushed in a furious gallop over the ground, 
the clash of arms, the thunder of hoofs, the universal shudder 
of the earth all together created more thrilling emotions in 
my mind, than any other military parade I ever beheld. I 
have seen eighty thousand infantry in the field ; but they did 
not impress my imagination as forcibly as these few regiments 
of cavalry at Hounslow Heath. One incident gave painful 
effect to the spectacle. As the whole body were sweeping 
across the field, a single trooper was pitched from his horse 
and fell to the ground. A hundred hoofs passed over him, 
and trampled him into the sod. On swept the gallant host, 
as heedless of their fallen companion as if only a feather had 
dropped from one of their caps. The conflict of cavalry in 
real battle, must be the most fearful exhibition which the dread 
drama of war can furnish. On this occasion both the King 
and the Duke of York were present ; so that it was one of 
universal interest. About fifty ladies on horseback rode back 
and forth over the field, on the flanks of the troops, imitating 
their evolutions. 

2O2 The Story of 

I have been often at the House of Commons ; but I shall 
now only speak of a debate, in July, 1824, upon the petition, 
I believe, of the City of London, for a recognition of the in- 
dependence of some of the South American States. Canning 
was then Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and took the brunt of 
the battle made upon the Ministry. Sir James Mackintosh 
led, and Brougham followed him, on the same side. 

I shall not attempt to give you a sketch of the speeches : 
a mere description of the appearance and manner of the pro- 
minent orators will suffice. Sir James, then nearly sixty 
years old, was a man rather above the ordinary size; and 
with a fine, philanthropic face. His accent was decidedly 
Scotch, and his voice shrill and dry. He spoke slowly, often 
hesitated, and was entirely destitute of what we call eloquence. 
There was no easy flow of sentences, no gush of feeling, no 
apparent attempt to address the heart or the imagination. 
His speech was a rigid lecture, rather abstract and philoso- 
phical ; evidently addressed to the stern intellect of stern men. 
He had a good deal of gesture, and once or twice was boister- 
ous in tone and manner. His matter was logical ; and occa- 
sionally he illustrated his propositions by historical facts, 
happily narrated. On the whole, he made the impression 
upon my mind that he was a very philosophical, but not very 
practical, statesman. 

Brougham's face and figure are familiar to every one ; and 
making allowance for added years, there is little change in his 
appearance since the time of which I speak. He had abund- 
ance of words, as well as ideas. In his speech on the occasion 
I describe, he piled thought upon thought, laced sentence 
within sentence, mingled satire and philosophy, fact and argu- 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 203 

ment, history and anecdote, as if he had been a cornucopia, 
and was anxious to disburden himself of his abundance. In 
all this there were several hard hits, and Canning evidently 
felt them. As he rose to reply, I took careful note of his ap- 
pearance ; for he was then, I imagine, the most conspicuous of 
the British Statesmen. He was a handsome man, with a bald, 
shining head, and a figure slightly stooping in the shoulders. 
His face was round, his eye large and full, his lips a little 
voluptuous : the whole bearing a lively and refined expression. 
In other respects, his appearance was not remarkable. His 
voice was musical ; and he spoke with more ease and fluency 
than most other orators of the House of Commons ; yet even 
he hesitated, paused, and repeated his words, not only in the 
beginning, but sometimes in the very midst of his argument. 
He, however, riveted the attention of the Members ; and his 
observations frequently brought out the ejaculation of " hear, 
hear," from both sides of the House. Brougham and Mackin- 
tosh watched him with vigilant attention ; now giving nods of 
assent, and now signs of disapprobation. 

Of course, I visited the House of Lords, paying two shil- 
lings and sixpence for admittance. The general aspect of the 
assembly was eminently grave and dignified. Lord Eldon was 
the Chancellor a large, heavy, iron -looking man the per- 
sonification of bigoted Conservatism. He was so opposed to 
reforms, that he shed tears when the punishment of death was 
abolished for stealing five shillings in a dwelling-house ! When 
I saw him, his head was covered with the official wig : his face 
sufficed, however, to satisfy any one that his obstinacy of 
character was innate. 

While I was here, a Committee from the House of Com- 

2O4 The Story of 

mons was announced ; they had brought up a message to the 
Lords. The Chancellor, taking the seals in his hands, ap- 
proached the Committee, bowing three times, and they doing 
the same. Then they separated, each moving backward, and 
bowing. To persons used to such a ceremony, this might be 
sublime ; to me it was ludicrous : and all the more so, on ac- 
count of the ponderous starchness of the chief performer in 
the solemn farce. There was a somewhat animated debate 
while I was present, in which Lords Liverpool, Lauderdale, 
Harrowby, and Grey participated; yet nothing was said or 
done that would justify particular notice at this late day. 

A great event happened in the musical world while I was in 
London the appearance of Catalani at the Italian Opera, after 
several years of absence. The opera was Le Nozze di Figaro. 
I had never before seen an opera ; and could not, even by the 
enchantments of music, have my habits of thought and my 
common sense so completely overturned and bewitched, as to 
see the whole business of life intrigue, courtship, marriage, 
cursing, shaving, preaching, praying, loving, hating done 
by singing, instead of talking ; and yet feel that it was all 
right and proper. It requires both a musical ear and early 
training fully to appreciate and feel the opera. 

Madame Catalani was a large, handsome woman ; a little 
masculine, and past forty. She was not only a very clever 
actress, but was deemed to have every musical merit volume, 
compass, clearness of tone, surpassing powers of execution. 
Her whole style was dramatic ; bending even the music to the 
sentiments of the character and the song. I could appreciate, 
uninstructed as I was, her amazing powers ; though, to say 
the truth, I was quite as much astonished as pleased. Pasta 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 205 

and Garcia, both of whom I afterwards heard, gave me infi- 
nitely greater pleasure ; chiefly because their voices possessed 
that melody of tone which excites sympathy in every heart ; 
even the most untutored. Madame Catalani gave the opera a 
sort of epic grandeur an almost tragic vehemence of expres- 
sion ; Pasta and Garcia rendered it the interpretation of those 
soft and tender emotions, for the expression of which God 
seems to have given music to mankind. It was, no doubt, a 
great thing to hear the greatest cantatrice of the age ; but I 
remember Madame Catalani as a prodigy, rather than as an 
enchantress. On the occasion I am describing, she sang, by 
request, "Rule Britannia" between the acts; which drew 
forth immense applause, in which I heartily joined : not that 
I liked the words, but that I felt the music. 

It was about this time that a great attraction was an- 
nounced at one of the theatres ; nothing less than the King 
and Queen of the Sandwich Islands, who had graciously con- 
descended to honour the performance with their presence. 
They had come to visit England, and pay their homage to 
George the Fourth ; hence the Government deemed it neces- 
sary to receive them with hospitality, and pay them such at- 
tentions as were due to their rank and royal blood. The 
king's name was Kamehamaha; but he had also the sub- 
title or surname of Rhio-Rhio : which, being interpreted, 
meant Dog of Dogs. Canning's wit got the better of his re- 
verence, and so he profanely suggested that, if his majesty was 
a Dog of Dogs, what must the queen be ? However, there 
was an old man about the court, who had acquired the title of 
Poodle, and he was selected as a fit person to attend upon 
their majesties. They had their lodgings at the Adelphi 

206 The Story of 

Hotel, and might be seen at all hours of the day, looking at 
the puppet-shows in the streets with intense delight. Of all 
the institutions of Great Britain, Punch and Judy evidently 
made the strongest and most favourable impression upon the 
royal party. 

They were, I believe, received at a private interview by 
the Mng at Windsor : everything calculated to gratify them 
was done. I saw them at the theatre, dressed in a European 
costume, with the addition of some barbarous finery. The 
Mng was an enormous man six feet three or four inches; 
the queen was short, but otherwise of ample dimensions. Be- 
sides these persons, the party comprised five or six other mem- 
bers of the king's household. They had all large, round, flat 
faces, of a coarse, though good-humoured expression. Their 
complexion was a ruddy brown, not very unlike the American 
Indians : their general aspect, however, was very different. 
They looked with a kind of vacant wonder at the play, evi- 
dently not comprehending it; the farce, on the contrary, 
seemed greatly to delight them. It is sad to relate that this 
amiable couple never returned to their country ; both died in 
England victims either to the climate, or to the change in 
their habits of living. 

Among the prominent objects of interest in London at this 
period was Edward Irving, then preaching at the Caledonian 
Chapel, Cross Street, Hatton Garden. He was now in the 
full flush of his fame ; and such was the eagerness to hear 
him, that it was difficult to get admission. People of all 
ranks literary men, philosophers, statesmen, noblemen, per- 
sons of the highest name and influence, with a full and 
diversified representation of the fair sex crowded to his 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 207 

church. I was so fortunate as to get a seat in the pew of a 
friend, a privilege which I appreciated all the more when I 
counted twenty coroneted coaches standing at the door, some 
of those who came in them not being able to obtain even an 
entrance into the building. The interior was crowded to 
excess ; the aisles were full ; and even fine ladies seemed 
happy to get seats upon the pulpit stairway. Persons of the 
highest title were scattered here and there, and cabinet 
ministers were squeezed in with the mass of common 

Mr. Irving's appearance was very remarkable. He was 
over six feet in height, very broad-shouldered, with long, 
black hair hanging in heavy, twisted ringlets down upon his 
shoulders. His complexion was pallid, yet swarthy; the 
whole expression of his face, owing chiefly to an unfortunate 
squint, was half-sinister and half-sanctified, creating in the 
mind of the beholder a painful doubt whether he was a great 
saint or a great sinner. 

There was a strange mixture of saintliness and dandyism 
in the whole appearance of this man. His prayer was affected 
strange, quaint, peculiar in its phraseology, yet solemn 
and striking. His reading of the psalm was peculiar, and a 
fancy crossed my mind that I had heard something like it, 
but certainly not in a church. I was seeking to trace out a 
resemblance between this strange parson and some star of 
Drury Lane or Covent Garden. Suddenly I found the clue : 
Edward Irving in the pulpit was imitating Edmund Kean 
upon the stage ! And he succeeded admirably his tall and 
commanding person giving him an immense advantage over 
the little, insignificant, yet inspired actor. He had the tones 

208 The Story of 

of the latter, his gestures, his looks even, as I had often seen 
him in Richard the Third and Shylock. He had evidently 
taken lessons of the renowned tragedian, but whether in public 
or private is not for me to say. 

In spite of the evident affectation, the solemn dandyism, 
the dramatic artifices of the performer for, after all, I could 
only consider the preacher as an actor the sermon was very 
impressive. The phraseology was rich, flowing, redundant, 
abounding in illustration, and seemed to me carefully modelled 
after that of Jeremy Taylor. Some of the pictures presented 
to the imagination were startling, and once or twice it seemed 
as if the whole audience was heaving and swelling with 
intense emotion, like a sea rolling beneath the impulses of a 
tempest. Considered as a display of oratorical art, it was cer- 
tainly equal to anything I have ever heard from the pulpit ; 
yet it did not appear to me calculated to have any permanent 
effect in enforcing Christian truth upon the conscience. The 
preacher seemed too much a player, and too little an apostle. 
The afterthought was, that the whole effect was the result of 
stage trick, and not of sober truth. 

The character and career of Edward Irving present a 
strange series of incongruities. He was born in Scotland in 
1792 ; he became a preacher, and acquired speedy notoriety, 
as much by his peculiarities as his merits. He attracted the 
attention of Dr. Chalmers, and through his influence was for a 
time assistant-minister in the parish of St. John's, at Glasgow. 
From this place he was called to the Caledonian Chapel, where 
I heard him. His fame continued to increase ; and having 
published a volume of discourses, under the quaint title, For 
the Oracles of God, four Orations : for Judgment to come, 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 209 

an Argument in Nine Parts : three large editions of the work 
were sold in the space of six months. Wherever he preached 
crowds of eager listeners flocked to hear him. His eccen- 
tricities increased w^th his fame. He drew ont his discourses 
to an enormous length, and on several occasions protracted 
the services to four hours! He soon became mystical, and 
took to studying unfulfilled prophecy as the true key to the 
interpretation of the Scriptures. From this extravagance he 
passed to the doctrine that Christians, by the power of faith, 
can attain to the working of miracles, and speaking with 
unknown tongues, as in the primitive ages. Such at last 
were his vagaries, that he was cut off from communion with 
the Scottish Church ; in consequence, he became the founder 
of a sect which continues to the present time in England, 
bearing the title of " Irvingites." Worn out with anxiety and 
incessant labours, he died at Glasgow, while on a journey for 
his health, in 1834, at the early age of forty -two. 

One more event I must notice the arrival in London of 
the remains of Lord Byron, and their lying in state previous 
to interment. His body had been preserved in spirits, and 
was thus brought from Greece, attended by five persons of his 
lordship's suite. Having been transferred to the coffin, it lay 
in state at the house of Sir Edward Knatchbull, where such 
were the crowds that rushed to behold the spectacle, that it 
was necessary to defend the coffin with a stout wooden railing. 
When I arrived at the place the lid was closed. I was told, 
however, that the countenance, though the finer lines had 
collapsed, was so little changed as to be easily recognised by 
his acquaintances. The general muscular form of the body 
was perfectly preserved. 

210 The Story of 

The aspect of the scene, even as I witnessed it, was alto- 
gether very impressive. The coffin was covered with a pall, 
enriched by escutcheons wrought in gold. On the top was 
a lid, set round with black plumes. Upon it were these 



At the head of the coffin was an urn containing the ashes of 
his brain and heart : this being also covered with a rich pall, 
wrought with figures in gold. The windows were closed, and 
the darkened room was feebly illumined by numerous wax 

And this was all that remained of Byron ! What a lesson 
upon the pride of genius, the vanity of rank, the fatuity of 
fame, all levelled in the dust, and, despite the garnished pall 
and magnificent coffin, their possessor bound to pass through 
the same process of corruption as the body of a common 
beggar ! 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 211 






HAVING made a hurried excursion to Paris and back to Lon- 
don, I departed for Liverpool, and thence embarked for the 
United States, arriving there in October, 1824. I remained 
at Hartford till October, 1826, and then removed to Boston, 
with the intention of publishing original works, and at the 
same time of trying my hand at authorship the latter part 
of my plan, however, known only to myself. 

At that time Boston was recognised as the literary metro- 
polis of the Union the admitted Athens of America. Ed- 
ward Everett had established the North- American Review, 
and though he had now just left the editorial chair, his spirit 
dwelt in it, and his fame lingered around it. R. H. Dana, 
E. T. Channing, George Bancroft, and others, were among the 
rising lights of the literary horizon. Society was strongly im- 
pressed with literary tastes, and genius was respected and 
cherished. The day had not yet come when it was glory 
enough for a college professor to marry a hundred thousand 

212 The Story of 

dollars of stocks, or when it was the chief end of a lawyer to 
become the attorney of an insurance company, or a bank, or a 
manufacturing corporation. A Boston imprint on a book was 
equal to a certificate of good paper, good print, good binding, 
and good matter. And while such was the state of things at 
Boston, at New York the Harpers, who till recently had been 
mere printers in Dover Street, had scarcely entered upon their 
career as publishers ; and the other shining lights in the trade, 
at the present time, were either unborn, or in the nursery, or 
at school. 

"What a revolution do these simple items suggest, wrought 
in the space of thirty years ! The sceptre has departed from 
Judah : New York is now the acknowledged metropolis of 
American literature, as well as of art and commerce. Never- 
theless, if we look at Boston literature at the present time, as 
reflected in its publishing lists, we shall see that the light of 
other days has not degenerated; for since the period of 
which I speak, Prescott, Longfellow, Hawthorne, Whipple, 
Holmes, Lowell, Hillard, have joined the Boston constellation 
of letters. 

It cannot interest the reader to hear in detail my business 
operations in Boston at this period. It will be sufficient to 
say that, among other works, I published an edition of the 
novels of Charles Brockden Brown, with a life of the author, 
furnished by his widow, she having a share of the edition. I 
also published an edition of Hannah More's works, and of 
Mrs. Opie's works : these being, I believe, the first complete 
collections of the writings of these authors. In 1827 I pub- 
lished Sketches by N. P. Willis, his first adventure in re- 
sponsible authorship. The next year I issued the Common- 

Peter Parley's Own Life, 213 

place Book of Prose, the first work of the now celebrated 
Dr. Cheever. This was speedily followed by the Common- 
place Book of Poetry, and Studies in Poetry, by the same 

In 1828 I published a first, and soon after a second, volume 
of the Legendary, designed as a periodical, and intended to 
consist of original pieces in prose and verse, principally illus- 
trative of American history, scenery, and manners. This was 
edited by N. P. Willis, and was, I believe, his first editorial 
engagement. Among the contributors were Halleck, Miss 
Sedgwick, Miss Francis, Mrs. Sigourney, Willis, and other 
popular writers of that day. It was kindly treated by the 
press, which generously published, without charge, the best 
pieces in full, saving the reading million the trouble of buying 
the book and paying for the chaff, which was naturally found 
with the wheat. Despite this courtesy, the work proved a 
miserable failure. The time had not come for such a publica- 
tion. At the present day, with the present accessories and 
the present public spirit, I doubt not that such an enterprise 
would be eminently successful. 

The first work of the Annual kind, entitled the Forget-Me- 
Not, was issued by the Ackermanns of London, in the winter 
of 1823, while I was in that city. It was successfully imitated 
by Carey and Lea at Philadelphia, in a work entitled the 
Atlantic Souvenir, and which was sustained with great spirit 
for several years. In 1828 I commenced and published the 
first volume of the Token, which I continued for fifteen years ; 
editing it myself, with the exception of the volume for 1829, 
which came out under the auspices of Mr. Willis. In 1836, 
the Atlantic Souvenir ceased ; and after that time, by arrange- 

214 *fhe Story of 

ment with the publishers, its title was added to that of the 

The success of this species of publication stimulated new 
enterprises of the kind, and a rage for them spread over 
Europe and America. The efforts of the first artists and the 
first writers were at length drawn into them ; and for nearly 
twenty years every autumn produced an abundant harvest of 
Diadems, Bijous, Amaranths, Bouquets, Hyacinths, Amulets, 
Talismans, Forget-Me-Nots, &c. Under these seductive 
titles they became messengers of love, tokens of friendship, 
signs and symbols of affection, and luxury and refinement; 
and thus they stole alike into the palace and the cottage, the 
library, the parlour, and the boudoir. The public taste grew 
by feeding on these luscious gifts, and soon craved even more 
gorgeous works of the kind ; whence came Heath's Book of 
Beauty, Lady Blessington's Flowers of Loveliness, Bulwer's 
Pilgrims of the Rhine, Butler's Leaflets of Memory, Christ- 
mas with the Poets, and many others of similar design and 
execution. Many of the engravings of these works cost 1 00?. 
each, and many a piece of poetry 10?. a page. On several of 
these works the public spent 10,000?. a -year ! 

At last the race of Annuals drew near the end of its 
career, yet not without having produced a certain revolution 
in the public taste. Their existence had sprung, at least in 
part, from sfee?-engraving, which had been invented and in- 
troduced by our countryman, Jacob Perkins. This enabled 
the artist to produce works of greater delicacy than had ever 
before been achieved ; steel also gave the large number of im- 
pressions which the extensive sales of the Annuals demanded, 
and which could not have been obtained from copper. These 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 215 

works scattered gems of art far and wide, making the reading 
mass familiar with fine specimens of engraving ; and not only 
cultivating an appetite for this species of luxury, but ex- 
alting the general standard of taste all over the civilised 

And thus, though the Annuals, by name, have perished, 
they have left a strong necessity in the public mind for books 
enriched by all the embellishments of art. Hence we have il- 
lustrated editions of Byron, Rogers, Thomson, Oowper, Camp- 
bell, and others; including our own poets, Bryant, Halleck, 
Sigourney, Longfellow, Reed, &c. Wood-engraving, which 
since then has risen into such importance, has lent its potent 
aid in making books one of the chief luxuries of society, from 
the nursery to the parlour. 

In comparison with many of these works, the Token was 
a very modest affair. The first year I offered prizes for the 
best pieces in' prose and poetry. The highest for prose was 
awarded to the author of Some Passages in the, Life of an 
Old Maid. A mysterious man, in a mysterious way, pre- 
sented himself for the money, and, giving due evidence of his 
authority to receive it, it was paid to him ; but who the 
author really was never transpired, though I had, and still 
have, my confident guess upon the subject. Even the subse- 
quent volumes, though they obtained favour in their day, did 
not approach the splendour of the modern works of a similar 
kind. Nevertheless, some of the engravings, from the designs 
of Allston, Leslie, Newton, and others, were very clever, even 
compared with the finest works of the present day. 

The literary contributions were, I believe, equal, on the 
whole, to any of the Annuals, American or European. Here 

216 Ike Story of 

were inserted some of the earliest productions of Willis, Haw- 
thorne, Miss Francis (now Mrs. Child), Miss Sedgwick, Mrs. 
Hale, Pierpoint, Greenwood, and Longfellow. Several of 
these authors first made acquaintance with the public through 
the pages of this work. It is a curious fact that the latter, 
Longfellow, wrote prose, and at that period had shown neither 
a strong bias nor a particular talent for poetry. 

The Token was continued annually till 1842, when it 
finally ceased. The day of Annuals had, indeed, passed be- 
fore this was given up ; and the last two or three years it had 
only lingered out a poor and fading existence. As a matter 
of business, it scarcely paid its expenses, and was a serious 
drawback upon my time and resources for fifteen years ; a 
punishment, no doubt, fairly due to an obstinate pride, which 
made me reluctant to abandon a work with which my name 
and feelings had become somewhat identified. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 217 





I MAY here say, with propriety, a few words more as to the 
contributors for the Token. The most prominent writer for it 
was N. P. Willis ; his articles were the most read, the most 
admired, the most ahused, and the most advantageous to the 
work. I published his first book ; and his two first editorial 
engagements were with me : hence the early portion of his 
literary career fell under my special notice. 

He had begun to write verses very early ; and while in 
College, before he was eighteen, he had acquired an extended 
reputation, under the signature of " Roy." In 1827, when he 
was just twenty years old, I published his volume, entitled 
Sketches. It elicited quite a shower of criticism, in which 
praise and blame were about equally dispensed : at the same 
time the work sold with a readiness quite unusual for a book 
of poetry at that period. It is not calculated to establish the 
infallibility of critics, to look over these notices at the present 
day : many of the pieces which were then condemned have 
now taken their places among the acknowledged gems of our 

2i 8 The Story of 

literature ; and others, which excited praise at the time, have 
faded from the public remembrance. 

One thing is certain, everybody thought Willis worth 
criticising. He has been, I suspect, more written about than 
any other literary man in the history of American literature. 
Some of the attacks upon him proceeded, no doubt, from a 
conviction that he was a man of extraordinary gifts, and yet 
of extraordinary affectations ; and the lash was applied in kind- 
ness, as that of a schoolmaster to a beloved pupil's back; 
some of them were dictated by envy ; for we have had no other 
example of literary success so early, so general, and so flat- 
tering. That Mr. Willis made mistakes in literature and life, 
at the outset, may be admitted by his best friends ; for it must 
be remembered that, before he was five-and-twenty, he was 
more read than any other American poet of his time; and 
besides, being possessed of an easy and captivating address, he 
became the pet of society, and especially of the fairer portion 
of it. Since that period, his life, on the whole, has been one 
of serious, useful, and successful labour. His reputation as a 
poet has hardly advanced, and probably the public generally 
regard some of his early verses as his best. As an essayist, 
however, he stands in the first rank ; distinguished for a keen 
sagacity in analysing society, a fine perception of the beauties 
of nature, and an extraordinary talent for endowing trifles 
with interest and meaning. As a traveller, he is among the 
most entertaining, sagacious, and instructive. 

His style is certainly peculiar, and is deemed affected, 
tending to an excess of refinement, and displaying an undue 
hankering for grace and melody ; sometimes sacrificing sense 
to sound. This might once have been a just criticism, but the 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 219 

candid reader of his works now before the public will deem 
it hypercritical. His style is suited to his thought ; it is 
flexible, graceful, musical, and is adapted to the playful wit, 
the piquant sentiment, the artistic descriptions of sea, earth, 
and- sky, of which they are the vehicle. In the seaming ex- 
haustlessness of his resources, in his prolonged freshness, in his 
constantly -increasing strength, Mr. Willis has refuted all the 
early prophets, who regarded him only as a precocity, des- 
tined to shine a few brief years and fade away. 

As to his personal character, I need only say, that from 
the beginning he has had a larger circle of steadfast friends 
than almost any man within my knowledge. There has been 
something in his works which has made women generally 
both his literary and personal admirers. For so many favours 
he has given the world an ample return ; for, with all his im- 
puted literary faults some real and some imaginary I 
regard him as having contributed more to the amusement of 
society than almost any other of our living authors. 

It is not easy to conceive of a stronger contrast than is 
presented by comparing Nathaniel Hawthorne with N. P. 
Willis. The former was for a time one of the principal 
writers for the Token, and his admirable sketches were pub- 
lished side by side with those of the latter. Yet it is curious 
to remark, that everything W T illis wrote attracted immediate 
attention, and excited ready praise, while the productions of 
Hawthorne were almost entirely unnoticed. 

The personal appearance and demeanour of these two 
gifted young men, at the early period of which I speak, was 
also in striking contrast. Willis was slender, his hair sunny 
and silken, his cheek ruddy, his aspect cheerful and confident. 

220 The Story of 

He met society with a ready and welcome hand, and was re- 
ceived readily and with welcome. Hawthorne, on the con- 
trary, was of a rather sturdy form, his hair dark and bushy, 
his eye steel-grey, his brow thick, his mouth sarcastic, his 
complexion stony, his whole aspect cold, moody, distrustful. 
He stood aloof, and surveyed the world from shy and sheltered 

There was a corresponding difference in the writings cf 
these two persons. Willis was all sunshine and summer, the 
other chill, dark, and w T intry ; thfc one was full of love and 
hope, the other of doubt and distrust ; the one sought the 
open daylight sunshine, flowers, music and found them 
everywhere ; the other plunged into* the dim caverns of the 
mind, and studied the grisly spectres of jealousy, remorse, 

I had seen some anonymous publication which seemed to 
me to indicate extraordinary powers. I inquired of the pub- 
lishers as to the writer, and through them a correspondence en- 
sued between me and " N. Hawthorne." This name I considered 
a disguise, and it was not till after many letters had passed 
that I met the author, and found it to be his true title, repre- 
senting a very substantial personage. At this period he was 
unsettled as to his views : he had tried his hand in literature, 
and considered himself to have met with a fatal rebuff from 
the reading world. His mind vacillated between various pro- 
jects, verging, I think, toward a mercantile profession. I 
combated his despondence, and assured him of triumph, if he 
would persevere in a literary career. 

He wrote numerous articles, which appeared in the Token : 
occasionally an astute critic seemed to see through them, and 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 221 

to discover the mind that was in them ; but in general they 
passed without notice. Such articles as " Sights from a Steeple," 
" Sketches beneath an Umbrella," the " Wives of the Dead," the 
" Prophetic Pictures," now universally acknowledged to be 
productions of extraordinary depth, meaning, and power, 
extorted hardly a word of either praise or blame, while columns 
were given to pieces since totally forgotten. I felt annoyed, 
almost angry, indeed, at this. I wrote several articles in the 
papers, directing attention to these productions, and finding no 
echo of my views, I recollect to have asked John Pickering, 
a gentleman in whose critical powers I had great confidence, 
to read some of them, and give me his opinion of them. He 
did as I requested ; his* answer was that they displayed a 
wonderful beauty of style, with a sort of second -sight, which 
revealed, beyond the outward forms of life and being, a sort 
of spirit -world, somewhat as a lake reflects the earth around 
it and the sky above it ; yet he deemed them too mystical to 
be popular. He was right, no doubt, at that period ; but, ere 
long, a large portion of the reading world obtained a new 
sense how, or where, or whence, is not easily determined 
which led them to study the mystical, to dive beneath and 
beyond the senses. Hawthorne was, in fact, a kind of Words- 
worth in prose : less kindly, less genial toward mankind, but 
deeper and more philosophical. His fate was similar : at first 
he was neglected, at last he had worshippers. 

In 1837 I recommended Mr. Hawthorne to publish a 
volume, comprising his various pieces, which had appeared in 
the Token and elsewhere. He consented, but as I had ceased 
to be a publisher, it was difficult to find any one who would 
undertake to bring out the work. I applied to the agent of 

222 The Story of 

the Stationers' Company, but he refused ; until at last I relin- 
quished my copyrights in such of the tales as I had published 
to Mr. Hawthorne, and joined a friend of his in a bond to in- 
demnify them against loss ; and thus the work was published 
by the Stationers' Company, under the title of Twice- Told 
Tales, and for the author's benefit. It was deemed a failure 
for more than a year, when a breeze seemed to rise and fill its 
sails, and with it the author was carried on to fame and fortune. 

Among the most successful of the writers for the Token 
was Miss Francis, now Mrs. Child. I have not seen her for 
many years, but I have many pleasant remembrances of her 
lively conversation, her saucy wit, her strong good sense, and 
her most agreeable person and presence. To Rev. F. W. P. 
Greenwood I was indebted not only for some of the best con- 
tributions, but for excellent counsel and advice in my literary 
affairs. He was a man of genius, gentle manners, and 
apostolic dignity of life and character. 

To Mr. Pierpont I was indebted for encouragement and 
sympathy in my whole career, and for some of the best poems 
which appeared in the work I am noticing. I remember once 
to have met him, and to have asked him to give me a contri- 
bution for the Token. He stopped and said, reflectingly, " I 
had a dream not long ago, which I have thought to put into 
verse. I will try, and if I am successful you shall have it." 
A few days after he gave me the lines, now in all the gem- 
books, beginning, 

*' Was it the chime of a tiny bell 

That came so sweet to my dreaming ear 
Like the silvery tones of a fairy's shell, 

That he winds on the beach so mellow and clear, 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 223 

When the winds and the waves lie together asleep, 

And the moon and the fairy are watching the deep 

She dispensing her silvery light, 

And he his notes, as silvery quite, 

While the boatman listens and ships his oar, 

To catch the music that comes from the shore ? 

Hark ! the notes on my ear that play 

Are set to words ; as they float, they say, 
' Passing away, passing away ! ' '' 

Next to Willis, Mrs. Sigourney was my most successful 
and liberal contributor : to her I am indebted for a large part 
of the success of my editorial labours in the matter now re- 
ferred to. To Miss Sedgwick, also, the Token owes a large 
share of its credit with the public. To B. B. Thacher, also 
among the good and the departed ; to Mrs. Osgood, to John 
Neale, A. H. Everett, Mr. Longfellow, 0. W. Holmes to all 
these, and to many others, I owe the kind remembrance which 
belongs to good deeds, kindly and graciously bestowed. 

It is not to be supposed that in a long career, both as 
bookseller and editor, I should have escaped altogether the 
annoyances and vexations which naturally attach to these 
vocations. The relation of author and publisher is generally 
regarded as that of the cat and the dog, both greedy of the 
bone, and inherently jealous of each other. The authors have 
hitherto written the accounts of the wrangles between these 
two parties, and the publishers have been traditionally gibbeted 
as a set of mean, mercenary wretches, coining the heart's- 
blood of genius for their own selfish profits. Great minds, 
even in modern times, have not been above this historical pre- 
judice. The poet Campbell is said to have been an admirer of 
Napoleon because he shot a bookseller. 

224 The Story of 

Nevertheless, speaking from my own experience, I suspect, 
if the truth were told, that, even in cases where the world has 
been taught to bestow all its sympathy in behalf of the author, 
it would appear that while there were claws on one side there 
were teeth on the other. My belief is, that where there have 
been quarrels there have generally been mutual provocations. 
I know of nothing more vexatious, more wearisome, more cal- 
culated to beget impatience, than the egotisms, the exactions, 
the unreasonableness of authors, in cases I have witnessed. 
That there may be examples of meanness, stupidity, and 
selfishness in publishers, is indisputable. But, in general, I 
am satisfied that an author who will do justice to a publisher, 
will have justice in return. 

I could give some curious instances of this. A school- 
master came to me once with a marvellously clever grammar : 
it was sure to overturn all others. He had figured out his 
views in a neat hand, like copper-plate. He estimated that 
there were always a million of children at school who would 
need his grammar; providing for books worn out, and a 
supply for new-comers, half-a-million would be wanted every 
year. At one cent a copy for the author which he insisted 
was exceedingly moderate this would produce to him five 
thousand dollars a-year ; but if I would publish the work, he 
would condescend to take half that sum annually, during the 
extent of the copyright twenty-eight years ! I declined, and 
he seriously believed me a heartless blockhead. He obtained a 
publisher at last, but the work never reached a second edition. 
Every publisher is laden with similar experiences. 

I once employed a young man to block out some little 
books to be published under the nominal authorship of Solomon 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 225 

Bell : these I remodelled, and one or two volumes were issued. 
Some over-astute critic announced them as veritable Peter 
Parleys, and they had a sudden sale. The young man who 
had assisted me, and who was under the most solemn obliga- 
tions to keep the matter secret, thought he had an opportunity 
to make his fortune ; so he publicly claimed the authorship, 
and accused me of duplicity ! The result was, that the books 
fell dead from that hour ; the series was stopped ; and his 
unprinted manuscripts, for which I had paid him, became 
utterly worthless. A portion I burnt, and a portion still 
remain amidst the rubbish of other days. 

In other instances I was attacked in the papers, editorially 
and personally, by individuals who were living upon the jem- 
ployment I gave them. I was in daily intercourse with per- 
sons of this character, who, while flattering me to my face, I 
knew to be hawking at me in print. These I regarded and 
treated as trifles at the time ; they are less than trifles now. 
One thing may be remarked, that, in general, such difficulties 
come from poor and unsuccessful writers. They have been 
taught that publishers and booksellers are vampires, and 
naturally feed upon the vitals of genius ; assuming honestly, 
no doubt that they are of this latter class, they feel no great 
scruple in taking vengeance upon those whom they regard as 
their natural enemies. 

My editorial experience also furnished me with some 
amusing anecdotes. An editor of a periodical once sent me 
an article for the Token, entitled La Longue-vue ; the pith of 
the story consisted in a romantic youth's falling in love with a 
young lady, two miles off, through a telescope ! I ventured 


226 The Story of 

to reject it; and the Token for that year was duly " cut up" 
in the columns of the offended author. 

In judging of publishers one thing should be considered, 
and that is, that two-thirds of the original works issued by 
them are unprofitable. An eminent London publisher once 
told me, that he calculated that out of ten publications four 
involved a positive, and often a heavy, loss ; three barely paid 
the cost of paper, print, and advertising ; and three paid a 
profit. Nothing is more common than for a publisher to pay 
money to an author, every farthing of which is lost. Self- 
preservation, therefore, compels the publisher to look carefully 
to his operations. One thing is certain, he is generally the 
very best judge as to the value of a book, in a marketable 
point of view : if he rejects it, it is solely because he thinks it 
will not pay, not because he despises genius. 

Happily, at the present day, the relations between these 
two parties authors and publishers are on a better footing 
than in former times. Indeed, a great change has taken place 
in the relative positions of the two classes. Nothing is now 
more marketable than good writing, whatever may be its form 
poetry or prose, fact or fiction, reason or romance. Starving, 
neglected, abused genius, is a myth of bygone times. If an 
author is poorly paid, it is because he writes poorly. I do 
not think, indeed, that authors are adequately paid, for author- 
ship does not stand on a level with other professions as to 
pecuniary recompense, but it is certain that a clever, in- 
dustrious, and judicious writer may make his talent the means 
of living. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 227 







THOUGH I was busily engaged in publishing various works, I 
found time to make my long-meditated experiment in the 
writing of books for children. The first attempt was made in 
1827, and bore the title of the Tales of Peter Parley about 
America. No persons but my wife and one of my sisters 
were admitted to the secret : for, in the first place, I hesitated 
to believe that I was qualified to appear before the public as 
an author ; and, in the next place, nursery literature had not 
then acquired the respect in the eyes of the world it now 
enjoys. It is since that period that persons of acknowledged 
genius Scott, Dickens, Lamartine, Mary Howitt, in Europe; 
and Abbott, Todd, Gallaudet, Miss Sedgwick, Mrs. Child, 
and others, in America have stooped to the composition of 
books for children and youth. 

I published my little book, and let it make its way. It 
came before the world untrumpeted, and for some months 

228 The Story of 

seemed not to attract the slightest attention. Suddenly I 
began to see notices of it in the papers all over the country, 
and in a year from the date of its publication it had become a 
favourite. In 1828 I published the Tales of Peter Parley 
about Europe ; in 1829, Parley's Winter -Evening Tales ; 
in 1830, Parley's Juvenile Tales, and Parley's Asia, Africa, 
Sun, Moon, and Stars. About this time the public guessed 
my secret. Mrs. Sarah J. Hale, to whom I am indebted for 
many kind offices in my literary career, first discovered and 
divulged it; yet I could have wished she had not done me 
this questionable favour. Though the authorship of the 
Parley books has been to me a source of some gratification, 
you will see, in the sequel, that it has also subjected me to 
endless vexations. 

I shall not enter into the details of my proceedings at this 
busy and absorbed period of my life. I had now obtained a 
humble position in literature, and was successful in such un- 
ambitious works as I attempted. I gave myself up almost 
wholly for about four years that is, from 1828 to 1832 
to authorship, generally writing fourteen hours a-day. A 
part of the time I was entirely unable to read, and could write 
but little, on account of the weakness of my eyes. In my 
larger publications I employed persons to block out work for 
me : this was read to me, and then I put it into style, gene- 
rally writing by dictation, my wife being my amanuensis. 
Thus embarrassed, I still, by dint of incessant toil, produced 
five or six volumes a-year, most of them small, but some of 
larger compass. 

In the midst of these labours that is, in the spring 
of 1832 I was suddenly attacked with symptoms which 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 229 

seemed to indicate a disease of the heart, rapidly advancing to 
a fatal termination. In the course of a fortnight I was so 
reduced as not to he ahle to mount a pair of stairs without 
help, and a short walk produced palpitation of the heart, 
so violent, in several instances, as almost to deprive me of 
consciousness. There seemed no hope hut in turning my hack 
upon my business, and seeking a total change of scene and 
climate. In May I embarked for England, and after a few 
weeks reached Paris. I here applied to Baron Larroque, 
who, assisted by L'Herminier both eminent in the treat- 
ment of diseases of the heart subjected me to various ex- 
periments, but without the slightest advantage. At this 
period I was obliged to be carried upstairs, and never ven- 
tured to walk or ride alone, being constantly subject to 
nervous spasms, which often brought me to the verge of 

Despairing of relief here, I proceeded to London, and was 
carefully examined by Sir B. 0. Brodie. He declared that I 
had no organic disease ; that my difficulty was nervous irrita- 
bility ; and that whereas the French physicians had inter- 
dicted wine, and required me to live on a light vegetable diet, 
I must feed well upon good roast beef, and take two generous 
glasses of port with my dinner ! Thus encouraged, I passed 
on to Edinburgh, where I consulted Abercrombie, then at the 
height of his fame. He confirmed the views of Dr. Brodie, in 
the main ; and, regarding the irregularity of my vital organs 
as merely functional, still told me that, without shortening my 
life, it would probably never be wholly removed. He told 
me of an instance in w T hich a patient of his, who, having been 
called upon to testify before the committee of the House of 

2 jo The Story of 

Commons, in the trial of Warren Hastings, from mere em- 
barrassment had been seized with palpitation of the heart, 
which, however, continued till his death, many years after. 
Even this sombre view of my case was then a relief. Four- 
and-twenty years have passed since that period, and thus 
far my experience has verified Dr. Abercrombie's prediction. 
These nervous attacks pursue me to this day : yet I have 
become familiar with them; and, regarding them only as 
troublesome visitors, I receive them as patiently as I can. 

After an absence of six months I returned to Boston, and, 
by the advice of my physician, took up my residence in the 
country. I built a house at Jamaica Plain, four miles from 
the city, and here I continued for more than twenty years. 
My health was partially restored, and I resumed my literary 
labours, which I continued steadily, from 1833 to 1850, with 
a few episodes of lecturing and legislating, three voyages 
to Europe, and an extensive tour to the South. It would 
be tedious and unprofitable, were 1 even to enumerate my 
various works, produced from the beginning to the present 
time. I may sum up the whole in a single sentence : I am 
the author and editor of about one hundred and seventy 
volumes, and of these seven millions have been sold ! 

I have said, that however the authorship of Parley' & Tales 
has made me many friends, it has also subjected me to many 
annoyances. The chief of these has been the adoption of my 
nom de plume by authors of juvenile works, who emulated the 
success of my series. Several London publishers employed 
persons to write books under the name of "Peter Parley;" 
and everything was done to impress the public with the belief 
that they were the productions of my pen. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 23 1 

When I was in London in 1832, I learned that a pro- 
minent publisher there had commenced the repuhlication of 
Parley's Tales. I called upon him, and found that he had 
one of them actually in the press. The result of our interview 
was a contract, in which I engaged to prepare several of these 
works, which he agreed to publish, allowing me a small con- 
sideration. Four of these works I prepared on the spot, and 
after my return to America prepared and forwarded ten 
others. Some time after, I learned that the books, or at least 
a portion of them, had been published in London, and were 
very successful. I wrote several letters to this publisher on 
the subject, but could get no reply. 

Ten years passed away, and being in pressing need of all 
that I might fairly claim as my due, I went to London, and 
asked him to render me an account of his proceedings under 
the contract. I had previously learned, on inquiry, that he 
had indeed published four or five of the works, as we had 
agreed, but, taking advantage of these, which passed readily 
into extensive circulation, he proceeded to set aside the con- 
tract, and to get up a series of publications upon the model of 
those I had prepared for him, giving them in the title-pages 
the name of Parley. He had thus published over a dozen 
volumes, which he was circulating as Peter Parley's Library. 
The speculation, as I was told, had succeeded admirably ; and 
I was assured that many thousand pounds of profit had been 
realised thereby. 

To my request for an account of his stewardship the pub- 
lisher replied, in general terms, that I was misinformed as to 
the success of the works in question ; that, in fact, they had 
been a very indifferent speculation ; that he found the original 

23 2 The Story of 

works were not adapted to his purpose, and he had conse- 
quently got up others ; that he had created, by advertising 
and other means, an interest in these works, and hod thus 
greatly benefited the name and fame of Parley ; and, all 
things considered, he thought he had done more for me than I 
had for him : therefore, in his view, if we considered the account 
balanced, we should not be very far from a fair adjustment. 

To this answer I made a suitable reply, but without ob- 
taining the slightest satisfaction. The contract I had made 
was a hastv memorandum, and judicially, perhaps, of no 
binding effect on him. And besides, I had no money to expend 
in litigation. A little reflection satisfied me that I was totally 
at his mercy : a fact of which his calm and collected manner 
assured me he was even more conscious than myself. The 
discussion was not prolonged. At the second interview he 
cut the whole matter short, by saying, " Sir, I do not owe 
you a farthing : neither justice nor law requires me to pay you 
anything. Still, I am an old man, and have seen a good deal 
of life, and have learned to consider the feelings of others as 
well as my own. I will pay you four hundred pounds, and 
we will be quits ! If we cannot do this, we can do nothing." 
In view of the whole ease, this was as much as I expected, 
and so I accepted the proposition. I earnestly remonstrated 
with him against the enormity of making me responsible for 
works I never wrote, but as to all actual claims on the ground 
of the contract I gave him a receipt in full, and we parted. 

It is not to be supposed that the annoyances arising from 
the falsification of the name of Parley, which I have just pointed 
out, have been the only obstacles which have roughened the 
current of my literary life. Not only the faults and imper- 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 233 

factions of execution in my juvenile works and no one 
knows them so well as myself have been urged against 
them, but the whole theory on which they are founded has 
been often and elaborately impugned. 

It is quite true, that when I wrote the first half-dozen of 
Parley's Tales I had formed no philosophy upon the subject : 
I simply used my experience with children in addressing 
them. I followed no models, I put on no harness of the 
schools, I pored over no learned examples. I imagined my- 
self on the floor with a group of boys and girls, and I wrote 
to them as I would have spoken to them. At a later period 
I had reflected on the subject, and embodied in a few simple 
lines the leading principle of what seemed to me the true art 
of teaching children, and that is, to consider that their first 
ideas are simple and single, and formed of images of things 
palpable to the senses ; and hence that these images are to 
form the staple of lessons to be communicated to them. 


I saw a child, some four years old, 

Along a meadow stray ; 
Alone she went, uncheck'd, untold, 

Her home not far away. 

She gazed around on earth and sky, 

Now paused, and now proceeded; 
Hill, valley, wood, she passed them by 

Unmarked, perchance unheeded. 

And now gay groups of roses bright 

In circling thickets hound her 
Yet on she went with footsteps light, 

Still gazing all around her. 

234 Th* St r y f 

And now she paused, and now she stooped, 

And plucked a little flower ; 
A simple daisy 'twas, that drooped 

Within a rosy bower. 

The child did kiss the little gem, 

And to her bosom press'd it ; 
And there she placed the fragile stem, 

And with soft words caressed it. 

I love to read a lesson true 

From nature's open book 
And oft I learn a lesson new 

From childhood's careless look. 

Children are simple, loving, true 

Tis God that made them so ; 
And would you teach them ? be so, too, 

And stoop to what they know. 

Begin with simple lessons, things 

On which they love to look ; 
Flowers, pebbles, insects, birds on wings 

These are God's spelling-book ! 

And children know His ABC, 

As bees where flowers are set ; 
Wouldst thou a skilful teacher be? 

Learn then this alphabet. 

From leaf to leaf, from page to page, 

Guide thou thy pupil's look ; 
And when he says, with aspect sage, 

" Who made this wondrous book ? " 

Point thou with reverend gaze to heaven, 

And kneel in earnest prayer, 
That lessons thou hast humbly given 

May lead thy pupil there ! 

From this commencement I proceeded, and came to the 
conclusion that in feeding the mind of children with facts, we 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 235 

follow the evident philosophy of nature and Providence ; in- 
asmuch as these had created all children to be ardent lovers of 
things they could see and hear, and feel and know. Thus I sought 
to teach them history, and biography, and geography, and all 
in the way in which nature would teach them, that is, by a 
large use of the senses, and especially by the eye. I selected 
as subjects for my books things capable of sensible represent- 
ation, such as familiar animals, birds, trees ; and of these I 
gave pictures, as a starting-point. The first line I wrote was, 
" Here I am ; my name is Peter Parley ;" and before I went 
further, gave an engraving representing my hero, as I wished 
him to be conceived by my pupils. Before I began to talk of 
a lion, I gave a picture of a lion ; my object being, as you will 
perceive, to have the child start with a distinct image of what 
I was about to give an account of. Thus I secured his 
interest in the subject, and thus I was able to lead his 
understanding forward in the path of knowledge. 

These views, of course, led me in a direction exactly oppo- 
site to the old theories in respect to nursery -books, in two 
respects. In the first place, it was thought that education 
should, at the very threshold, seek to spiritualise the mind, 
and lift it above sensible ideas, and to teach it to live in the 
world of imagination. A cow was very well to give milk, 
but when she got into a book she must jump over the moon ; 
a little girl going to see her grandmother was well enough as 
a matter of fact, but to be suited to the purposes of instruc- 
tion she must end her career in being eaten up by a wolf. 
My plan was, in short, deemed too utilitarian, too material- 
istic, and hence it was condemned by many persons, and 
among them the larger portion of those who had formed their 

2j 6 The Story of 

tastes upon the old classics, from Homer down to Mother 

This was one objection; another was, that I aimed at 
making education easy thus bringing up the child in habits 
of receiving knowledge only as made into pap, and of course 
putting it out of his power to relish and digest the stronger 
meat, even when his constitution demanded it. 

On these grounds, and still others, my little books met 
with opposition, sometimes even in grave Quarterlies, and 
often in those sanctified publications, entitled " Journals of Edu- 
cation." In England, at the period that the name of Parley 
was most current both in the genuine as well as the false 
editions the feeling against my juvenile works was so strong 
among the " Conservatives," that an attempt was made to 
put them down by reviving the old nursery-books. In order 
to do this, a publisher in London reproduced these works, 
employing the best artists to illustrate them, and bringing 
them out in all the captivating luxuries of modern typography. 
Nay, such was the reverence at the time for the old favourites 
of the nursery, that a gentleman of the name of Halliwell ex- 
pended a vast amount of patient research and antiquarian lore 
in hunting up and setting before the world the history of these 
performances, from " Hey diddle diddle" to 

" A farmer went trotting upon his gray mare 
Bumpety, bumpety, bump ! " 

I trust that no one will gather from this that I condemn 
rhymes for children. I know that there is a certain music in 
them that delights the ear of childhood. Nor am I insensible 
to the fact, that in Mother Goose's melodies there is frequently 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 237 

a sort of humour in the odd jingle of sound and sense. There 
is, furthermore, in many of them, an historical significance 
which may please the profound student who puzzles it out ; 
but what I affirm is, that many of these pieces are coarse, 
vulgar, offensive, and it is precisely these portions that are apt 
to stick to the minds of children. And besides, if, as is com- 
mon, such a book is the first that a child becomes acquainted 
with, it is likely to give him a low idea of the purpose and 
meaning of books, and to beget a taste for mere jingles. 

With these views, I sought to prepare lessons which com- 
bined the various elements suited to children a few of them 
even including frequent, repetitious rhymes, yet at the same 
time presenting rational ideas, and gentle, kindly sentiments. 

These were my ideas in regard to first books toy -books 
those which are put into the hands of children to teach 
them the art of reading. As to books of amusement and in- 
struction, to follow these, I gave them Parley's tales of travels, 
of history, of nature and art, together with works designed 
to cultivate a love of truth, charity, piety, and virtue, and I 
sought to make these so attractive as to displace the bad books 
to which I have already alluded the old monstrosities, Puss 
in Boots, Jack the Giant-killer, and others of that class. A 
principal part of my machinery was the character of Peter 
Parley a kind-hearted old man, who had seen much of the 
world, and, not presuming to undertake to instruct older 
people, loved to sit down and tell his stories to children. 
Beyond these juvenile works, I prepared a graduated series 
upon the same general plan, reaching up to books for the 
adult library. 

It is true that occasionally I wrote and published a book 

238 The Story of 

aside from this, my true vocation : thus I edited the Token, 
and published two or three volumes of poetry. But, out of 
all my works, about a hundred and twenty are professedly 
juvenile; and forty are for my early readers advanced to 
maturity. It is true that I have written openly, avowedly, 
to attract and to please children ; yet it has been my design 
at the same time to enlarge the circle of knowledge, to in- 
vigorate the understanding, to strengthen the moral nerve, to 
purify and exalt the imagination. Such have been my aims : 
how far I have succeeded, I must leave to the judgment of 
others. One thing I may perhaps claim, and that is, my 
example and my success have led others, of higher gifts than 
my own, to enter the ample and noble field of juvenile instruc- 
tion by means of books ; many of them have no doubt sur- 
passed me, and others will still follow surpassing them. I 
look upon the art of writing -for children and youth, advanced 
as it has been of late years, still as but just begun. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 239 






IF thus I met with opposition, I had also my success, nay, I 
must say, my triumphs. My first patrons were the children 
themselves, then the mothers, and then, of course, the fathers. 
In the early part of the year 1846 I made a trip from Boston 
to the South, returning by the way of the Mississippi and the 
Ohio. I received many a kind welcome under the name of the 
fictitious hero whom I had made to tell my stories. Some- 
times, it is true, I underwent rather sharp cross -questioning, 
and frequently was made to feel that I held my honours by a 
rather questionable title. I, who had undertaken to teach 
truth, w r as forced to confess that fiction lay at the foundation 
of my scheme ! My innocent young readers, however, did 
not suspect me : they had taken all I had said as positively 
true, and I was, of course, Peter Parley himself. 

" Did you really write that book about Africa ? " said 
a black-eyed, dark-haired girl of some eight years old, at 

I replied in the affirmative. 

240 The Story of 

" And did you really get into prison there?" 

" No; I was never in Africa." 

" Never in Africa ? " 

" Never." 

" Well, then, why did you say you had been there ? " 

On another occasion I think at Savannah a gentle- 
man called upon me, introducing his two grandchildren, who 
were anxious to see Peter Parley. The girl rushed up to me, 
and kissed me at once. We were immediately the best friends 
in the world. The boy, on the contrary, held himself aloof, 
and ran his eye over me, up and down, from top to toe. He 
tnen walked round, surveying me with the most scrutinising 
gaze. After this he sat down, and during the interview took 
no further notice of me. At parting he gave me a keen look, 
but said nothing. The next day the gentleman called and 
told me that his grandson, as they were on their way home, 
said to him, 

" Grandfather, I wouldn't have anything to do with that 
man; he ain't Peter Parley." 

" How do you know that ? " said the grandfather. 

" Because," said the boy, " he hasn't got his foot bound 
up, and he don't walk with a crutch ! " 

On my arrival at New Orleans I was kindly received, and 
had the honours of a public welcome. The proceedings were 
most gratifying to me ; and, even if they stood alone, would 
make amends for much misunderstanding and opposition. 

Hitherto I have spoken chiefly of the books I have written 
for children, the design of which was as much to amuse as to 
instruct them. These comprise the entire series called Par- 
ley's Tales, with many others, bearing Parley's name. As to 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 241 

works for education school-books, including readers, his- 
tories, geographies, &c., books for popular reading, and a 
wilderness of prose and poetry admitting of no classification 
it is as unnecessary as it would be uninteresting to recount 
them. This is the closing chapter of my literary history, and 
I have little indeed to say, except to make a confession. 

In looking at the long list of my publications, in re- 
flecting upon the large numbers that have been sold, I feel 
far more of humiliation than of triumph. If I have sometimes 
taken to heart the soothing flatteries of the public, it has ever 
been speedily succeeded by the conviction that my life has 
been, on the whole, a series of mistakes, and especially in that 
portion of it which has been devoted to authorship. I have 
written too much, and have done nothing really well. I 
know, better than any one can tell me, that there is nothing 
in this long catalogue that will give me a permanent place in 
literature. A few things may struggle upon the surface for a 
time, but like the last leaves of a tree in autumn, forced at 
last to quit their hold and drop into the stream even these 
will disappear, and my name and all I have done will be 

A recent event, half-ludicrous and half-melancholy, has 
led me into this train of reflection. On going to Europe in 
1851 I sent my books and papers to a friend, to be kept till 
my return. Among them was a large box of business docu- 
ments letters, accounts, receipts, bills paid, notes liquidated 
comprising the transactions of several years, long since 
passed away. Shortly after my return to New York, in pre- 
paring to establish myself and family, I caused these things to 
be sent to me. On opening the particular box just men- 

242 tfhe Story of 

tioned, I found it a complete mass of shavings, shreds, frag- 
ments. My friend had put it carefully away in the upper loft 
of his barn, and there it became converted into a universal 
mouse-nest! The history of whole generations of the mis- 
chievous little rogues was still visible ; beds, galleries, play- 
grounds, birth-places, and even graves, were in a state of 
excellent preservation. Several wasted and shrivelled forms 
of various sizes the limbs curled up, the eyes extinct, the 
teeth disclosed, the long, slender tails straight and stiffened 
testified to the joys and sorrows of the races that had flourished 

On exploring this mass of ruins, I discovered here and 
there a file of letters eaten through, the hollow cavity evidently 
having been the happy and innocent cradle of childhood to 
these destroyers. Sometimes I found a bed lined with paid 
bills, and sometimes the pathway of a gallery paved with 
liquidated accounts. What a mass of thoughts, of feelings, 
cares, anxieties, were thus made the plunder of these thought- 
less creatures ! In examining the papers I found, for instance, 
letters from N. P. Willis, written five -and -twenty years ago, 
with only " Dear Sir" at the beginning, and " Yours truly" 
at the end. I found epistles of nearly equal antiquity from 
many other friends sometimes only the heart eaten out, and 
sometimes the whole body gone. 

For all purposes of record, these papers were destroyed. 
I was alone, for my family had not yet returned from Europe : 
it was the beginning of November, and I began to light my fire 
with these relics. For two whole days I pored over them, 
buried in the reflections which the reading of the fragments 
suggested. Absorbed in this dreary occupation, I forgot the 

Peter Parley's Qwn Life. 243 

world without, and was only conscious of bygone scenes which 
came up in review before me. It was as if I had been in the 
tomb, and was reckoning with the past. How little was there 
in all that I was thus called to remember, save of care, and 
struggle, and anxiety ! and how were all the thoughts, and 
feelings, and experiences, which seemed mountains in their 
day, levelled down to the merest grains of dust ! A note of 
hand perchance of a thousand dollars what a history rose 
up in recollection as I looked over its scarcely legible frag- 
ments ! what clouds of anxiety had its approaching day of 
maturity cast over my mind ! How had I been, with a trem- 
bling heart, to some bank-president he a god, and I a 
craven worshipper making my offering of some other note 
for a discount, which might deliver me from the wrath to 
come ! With what anxiety have I watched the lips of the 
oracle, for my fate was in his hands ! A simple monosyllable 
yes or no might save or ruin me. What a history was 
in that bit of paper! and yet it was destined only to serve 
as stuffing for the beds of vermin. 

I ought, no doubt, to have smiled at all this ; but I con- 
fess it made me serious. Nor was it the most humiliating 
part of my reflections, I have been too familiar with care, 
conflict, disappointment, to mourn over them very deeply, 
now that they were passed. The seeming fatuity of such a 
mass of labours as these papers indicated, compared with their 
poor results, however it might humble, it could not distress 
me. But there were many things suggested by these letters, 
all in rags as they were, that caused positive humiliation. 
They revived in my mind the vexations, misunderstandings, 
controversies of other days ; and now, reviewed in the calm 
light of time, I could discover the mistakes of judgment, of 

244 iS5 Story of 

temper, of policy, that I had made. I turned back to my letter- 
book ; I reviewed my correspondence ; and I came to the con- 
clusion that in almost every difficulty which had arisen in my 
path, even if others were wrong, I was not altogether right : 
in most cases, prudence, conciliation, condescension, might 
have averted these evils. Thus the thorns which had wounded 
me and others too, as it seemed, had generally sprung up from 
the seeds I had sown, or had thriven upon the culture my 
own hands had unwisely bestowed. 

At first I felt disturbed at the ruin which had been 
wrought in these files of papers. Hesitating and doubtful, I 
consigned them one by one to the flames. At last the work 
was complete ; all had perished, and the feathery ashes had 
leaped up in the strong draught of the chimney and dis- 
appeared for ever. I felt a relief at last ; I smiled at what 
had happened ; I warmed my chill ringers over the embers ; 
I felt that a load was off my shoulders. " At least," said I 
in my heart, " these things are now passed ; my reckoning is 
completed, the account is balanced, the responsibilities of those 
bygone days are liquidated ; let me burden my bosom with 
them no more !" Alas, how fallacious my calculation ! A few 
months only had passed, when I was called to contend with 
a formidable claim which came up from the midst of trans- 
actions to which these extinct papers referred, and against 
which they constituted my defence. As it chanced, I was 
able to meet and repel it by documents which survived ; but 
the event caused me deep reflection. I could not but remark 
that, however we may seek to cover our lives with forget - 
fulness, their records still exist, and these may come up against 
us when we have no vouchers to meet the charges which are 
thus presented. Who, then, will be our helper ? 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 245 







THE first public speech I ever made was at St. Albans, in 
England, in the year 1832, at a grand celebration of the 
passing of the Reform Bill ; having accompanied thither Sir 
Francis Vincent, the representative in Parliament of that 
ancient borough. More than three thousand people, men, 
women, and children, gathered from the town and the vicinity, 
were feasted at a long table, set out in the principal street of 
the place. After this feast there were various sports, such as 
donkey -races, climbing a greased pole, and the like. At six 
o'clock, about one hundred and fifty of the gentry and leading 
tradesmen and mechanics sat down to a dinner, Sir Francis 
presiding. The President of the United States was toasted, 
and I was called upon to respond. Entirely taken by surprise, 
for not a word had been said to me upon the subject, I made 
a speech. I could never recall what I said : all I remember 

246 The Story of 

is a whirl of thoughts and emotions as I rose, occasional cries 
of " Hear, hear ! " as I went on, and a generous clapping of 
hands as I concluded. Whether this last was because I really 
made a good hit, or from another principle 

" The best of Graham's speeches was his last" 

I am totally unable to say. 

My next public appearance was in a lecture at the Tremont 
Temple, in Boston ; my subject being " Ireland and the Irish." . 
Although my discourse was written, and pretty well com- 
mitted to memory, yet for several days before the time appointed 
for its delivery arrived, when I thought of my engagement, 
my heart failed me. When the hour came I went to the 
door of the room, but on seeing the throng of persons collected 
I felt that my senses were deserting me : turning on my heel, 
I went out, and going to an apothecary's, fortified myself with 
some peppermint lozenges. When I got back, the house was 
waiting with impatience. I was immediately introduced to 
the audience by Dr. Walter Channing, and stepping upon the 
platform, began. After the first sentence, I was perfectly at 
my ease. Afterwards I repeated the same lecture more than 
forty times. 

In the autumn of 1836 there was a large evening party 
at Jamaica Plain, at the house of Mrs. G , the lady- 
patroness of the village. Among the notable men present was 
Daniel Webster, whom I had frequently seen, but to whom I 
was now introduced for the first time. He spoke to me of 
many things, and at last of politics, suggesting that the im- 
pending presidential election involved most important ques- 
tions, and he deemed it the duty of every man to reflect upon 

Peter Parley *s Own Life. 247 

the subject, and to exert his influence as his conscience might 

Since my residence in Massachusetts, a period of nearly 
eight years, I had been engrossed in my business, and had 
never even voted. Just at this time I was appointed, without 
any suggestion of my own, one of the delegates to the Whig 
Convention to nominate a person to represent us, the Ninth 
Congressional District, in Congress. This was to take place 
at Medway, at the upper end of the district. I went accord- 
ingly, and on the first ballot was the highest candidate, save 
one, Mr. Hastings, of Mendon. I declined, of course, and 
he was unanimously nominated. 

The canvass that ensued was a very animated one, Mr. 
Van Buren being the democratic candidate for the presidency. 
He was considered as the heir-apparent of the policy of Gen. 
Jackson, and had, indeed, promised, if elected, to walk in the 
footsteps of his illustrious predecessor. Without the personal 
popularity of that remarkable man, he became the target for 
all the hostility which his measures had excited. He was, 
however, elected, but to be overwhelmed with a whirlwind of 
discontent and opposition four years after. 

The candidate for Congress in our district, in opposition 
to Mr. Hastings, was Alexander H. Everett, who had been 
hitherto a conspicuous Whig, and who had signalised himself 
by the ability and the bitterness of his attacks on General 
Jackson and his administration. He had singled out Mr. 
Van Buren for especial vehemence of reproach, because, being 
Secretary of State at the time, Mr. Everett was superseded as 
Minister to Spain without the customary courtesy of an official 
note advising him of the appointment of his successor. To 

248 The Story of 

the amazement of the public in general, and his friends in par- 
ticular, on the 8th January, 1836, Mr. Everett delivered an 
oration before the democracy of Salem, in which ignoring 
the most prominent portion of his political life he came out 
with the warmest eulogies upon General Jackson ' and his 
administration ! About the first of May, the precise period 
when it was necessary, in order to render him eligible to Con- 
gress in the Ninth District, he took up his residence within 
its precincts, and, as was easily foreseen, was the democratic 
candidate for Congress. 

The Whig District Committee, of which I was one, and 
Charles Bo wen (Mr. Everett's publisher), another, issued a 
pamphlet, collating and contrasting Mr. Everett's two opinions 
of General Jackson's policy, and especially of Mr. Van Buren 
the one flatly contradicting the other, and, in point of date, 
being but two or three years apart. This was circulated over 
the towns of the district. It was a terrible document, and 
Mr. Everett felt its force. One of them was left at his own 
door in the general distribution. This he took as a personal 
insult, and meeting Bowen, knocked him over the head with 
his umbrella. Bowen clutched him by the throat, and would 
have strangled him but for the timely interference of a 

I had been among Mr. Everett's personal friends, but he 
now made me the object of special attack. In a paper, which 
then circulated a good deal in the district, I was severely 
lashed under the name of Peter Parley, not because I was a 
candidate for office, but because I was chairman of the Whig 
District Committee. I recollect that one day some rather 
scandalous thing came out against me in the editorial columns 

Peter Par ley 1 s Own Life. 249 

of this journal, and feeling very indignant, I went to see the 
editor. I did not know him personally, but from occasionally 
reading his paper I had got the idea that he was a very 
monster of violence. He was not at the office, but such was 
my irritation and impatience that I went to his house. I 
rang, and a beautiful black-eyed girl, some eight years old, 

came to the door. I asked if Mr. H was in ? " Mother," 

said the child, in a voice of silver, " is father at home ? " At 
this moment another child, and still younger, its small, round 
head all over curls, came to the door. Then a mild and 
handsome woman came, and to my inquiry she said that her 
husband was out, but would return in a few moments. 

My rage was quelled in an instant. " So," said I to my- 
self, " these children call that man father, and this woman calls 
him husband. After all, he cannot be such a monster as I 
have fancied him, with such a home." I turned on my heel 
and went away, my ill -humour having totally subsided. Some 
two years after I told him this anecdote, and we had a 
good-humoured laugh over it. Both of us had learned 
to discriminate between political controversy and personal 

The attacks made upon me during this canvass had an 
effect different from what was intended. I was compelled to 
take an active part in the election, and deeming the success of 
my party essential to my own defence, I naturally made more 
vigorous efforts for that object. Mr. Everett was defeated by 
a large majority, and the Whig candidate triumphed. At the 
same time I was chosen a member of the legislature for Rox- 
bury Jamaica Plain, where I resided, being a parish of that 
town. The next year I was a candidate for the Senate, in 

250 The Story of 

competition with Mr. Everett, and was elected. In this man- 
ner I was forced into politics, and was indebted mainly to 
opposition for my success. 

During the ensuing session of the legislature, the winter 
of 1837 8, the famous "Fifteen-Gallon Law" was passed 
that is, a law prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors in 
less quantities than fifteen gallons. The county I represented 
was largely in favour of the measure, and I voted for it, 
though I was by no means insensible to the agitation it was 
certain to produce. I had determined not to be a candidate 
for re-election, and therefore considered myself free to engage 
in the discussion which preceded the next election, and which, 
of course, mainly turned upon this law. Among other things, 
I wrote a little pamphlet, entitled Five Letters to my Neigh- 
bour Smith, touching the Fifteen- Gallon Jug, the main 
design of which was to persuade the people of Massachusetts 
to make the experiment, and see whether such a restraint 
upon the sale of intoxicating drinks would not be beneficial. 
This was published anonymously, and my intention was to 
have the authorship remain unknown. It, however, had an 
enormous sale a hundred thousand copies in the course of 
a few months, and curiosity soon found me out. 

Now in the village of Jamaica Plain I had a neighbour, 
though not by the name of Smith a rich liquor-dealer, who 
did his business in Boston a very respectable man, but a 
vehement opposer of the " Fifteen- Gallon Law." As the 
election approached, the citizens of the state were drawn out 
in two parties those in favour of prohibition on the one 
side, and the men in favour of free liquor on the other. My 
neighbour was the wealthiest, the most respectable, and the 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 251 

most influential of the latter. He insisted, that by " My 
Neighbour Smith" I meant him; and though I had said 
nothing disagreeable of that personage, but, on the contrary, 
had drawn his portrait in very amiable colours, he held that 
it was a malicious personal attack. In vain did I deny the 
charge, and point to the fact that the residence, character, and 
qualities of my fictitious hero were inapplicable to him. 
Anxious, like Mawworm, to be persecuted, he insisted upon it 
that he was persecuted. 

At the county convention, which took place some two 
months prior to this election, I declined being a candidate. 
The members present, however, clearly discerning the gathering 
storm, refused to release me, and I was forced to accept the 
nomination. The election was to take place on Monday, in 
November. On the Saturday previous there was issued in 
Boston a pamphlet, entitled the Cracked Jug, a personal and 
political attack upon me, written with great malice and some 
ability. It was scattered, like snow-flakes, all over the 
country ; and was, I suspect, the Sunday reading of all the 
tipplers and taverners of the county. The bar-room critics 
esteemed it superior to anything which had appeared since the 
Letters of Junius, and of course, considered me as annihilated. 

On Monday, election-day, my family were insulted in the 
streets of Jamaica Plain, and as I went into the Town Hall 
to cast my vote I heard abundance of gibes cast at me from 
beneath lowering beavers. The result was, that there was no 
choice of senators in the county. The election, when the 
people had thus failed to fill their places, fell upon the legis- 
lature, and I was chosen. The storm gradually passed away. 
The "Fifteen-Gallon Law" was repealed, but it nearly over- 

252 The Story of 

turned the Whig party in the state, which, being in the 
majority, was made responsible for it. I deemed it necessary 
to reply to my Neighbour Smith's Cracked Jug, and he 
rejoined. What seemed at the time a deadly personal 
struggle, was, ere long, forgotten ; neither party, I believe, 
carrying, in his character or his feelings, any of the scars in- 
flicted daring the battle. Both had, in some sort, triumphed ; 
both, in some sort, been beaten ; both could, therefore, afford 
to return to the amicable relations of village neighbourhood. 

In the autumn of 1840 the Whigs nominated William 
Henry Harrison as the candidate for the presidency, in oppo- 
sition to Mr. Van Buren. He had held various civil and 
military trusts, in which he had displayed courage, wisdom, 
and patriotism. His personal character was eminently winning 
to the people, being marked with benevolence and simplicity. 
He had long retired from public life, and for several years had 
lived as a farmer on the " North Bend" of the Ohio, near 
Cincinnati. The Democrats ridiculed him as drinking hard 
cider and living in a log cabin. The masses, resenting this as 
coming from those who, having the Government spoils, were 
rioting in the White House on champagne, took these gibes, 
and displayed them as their mottoes and symbols upon their 
banners. They gathered in barns, as was meet for the friends 
of the farmer of .North Bend, using songs and speeches as 
flails, threshing his enemies with a will. The spirit spread 
over mountain and valley, and in every part of the country 
men were seen leaving their customary employments to 
assemble in multitudinous conventions. Many of these 
gatherings numbered twenty thousand persons. 

During this animated canvass I was not a candidate for 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 253 

office, yet I took part in the great movement, and made about 
a hundred speeches in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Every- 
body, then, could make a speech, and everybody could sing a 
song. Orators sprang up like mushrooms, and the gift of 
tongues was not more universal than the gift of music. 

A speechmaker in the western part of the State of Vir- 
ginia, during the canvass, has given us the following anec- 
dote. He was holding forth upon the merits of General 
Harrison, and especially upon his courage, tact, and success as 
a military commander. While in the midst of his discourse a 
tall, gaunt man, who was probably a schoolmaster in those 
parts, arose from the crowd, and said, in a voice which 
penetrated the whole assembly, 

"Mister Mister! I want to ax you a question." To 
this the orator assented, and the man went on as follows,- 

" We are told, fellow-citizens, that Gineral Harrison is a 
mighty great gineral ; but I say he 's one of the very meanest 
sort of ginerals. We are told here to-night that he defended 
himself bravely at Fort Meigs ; but I tell you that on that 
occasion he was guilty of the l Small Tail Movement,' and I 
challenge the orator here present to deny it ! " 

The speaker declared his utter ignorance of what the 
intruder meant by " Small Tail Movement." 

" I '11 tell you," said the man ; " I 've got it here in black 
and white. Here is Grimshaw's History of the United 
States," holding up the book, " and I '11 read "what it says : 
' At this critical moment, General Harrison executed a novel 
movement ! ' Does the gentleman deny that ? " 

" No ; go on." 

" Well, he executed a novel movement. Now, here's 

254 The Story of 

Johnson's Dictionary," taking the book out of his pocket, 
and holding it up, " and here it says : ' NOVEL a small 
tale ! ' And this was the kind of movement General Harrison 
was guilty of. Now, I'm no soger, and don't know much of 
milentary tictacks but this I do say : a man who, in the 
face of an enemy, is guilty of a ' Small Tail Movement/ is not 
fit to be President of the United States, and he shan't have 
my vote!" 

Towns, cities, and villages were enlivened with torch- 
light processions, and with long, bannered phalanxes, shouting 
for the hero of Tippecanoe ! The result of the election was 
such as might have been anticipated ; the election of Harrison 
giving him two hundred and thirty -four votes, leaving oaly 
sixty for Van Buren! The death of Harrison, however, 
which took place thirty days after he had entered upon the 
duties of his office, with consequent divisions among the 
leading members of the Whig party at Washington, deprived 
the country of nearly the whole benefit due to a change so 
emphatically pronounced by the voice of the people. 

From this period I have taken no active part in politics. 
In reviewing the past, while duly appreciating the honour 
conferred by the confidence bestowed upon me by the citizens 
who gave me their suffrages, I still regard my political career 
as an unprofitable, nay, an unhappy episode, alien to my 
literary position and pursuits, and every way injurious to my 
interests and my peace of mind. It gave me painful glimpses 
into the littleness, the selfishness, the utter quackery of a large 
portion of those politicians who lead, or seem to lead, the van 
of parties ; and who, pretending to be guided by patriotism, 
are usually only using principles and platforms as means to 

Peter Parley' 's Own Life. 255 

carry them into office. As some compensation for this, it has 
also led me to a conviction that the great mass of the people 
are governed by patriotic motives, though even with these I 
have often noted curious instances in which the public interests 
were forgotten in a desire to achieve some selfish end. 

256 The Story of 





IN the autumn of 1846, I went with my family to Paris, 
partly for literary purposes, and partly also to give my 
children advantages of education, which, in consequence of 
my absorbing cares for a series of years, they had been denied. 
Here they remained for nearly two years, while I returned 
home to attend to my affairs, spending the winters, however, 
with them. 

Toward the close of 1849 I removed to New York, to 
execute certain literary engagements. These completed, I 
went, in December 1850, to Washington, taking my family 
with me. Here we remained for three months, when, having 
received the appointment of United States Consul to Paris, I 
returned to New York, and, after due preparation, sailed on 
the 5th of April, 1851, to enter upon the official duties which 
thus devolved upon me. 

About the middle of April, 1851, I arrived in Paris, and 
soon after took charge of the Consulate there. I have fre- 
quently been in this gay city, and I now propose to gather up 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 257 

my recollections -of it, and select therefrom a few items which 
may fill up the blank that yet remains in my story. 

I first visited Paris in January, 1824, as I have told you. 
At the time I first arrived here, this city was very different 
from what it now is. Louis XVIII. was upon the throne, 
and had occupied it for nine years. During this period he had 
done almost nothing to repair the state of waste and dilapida- 
tion in which the Allies had left it. These had taken down 
the statue of Napoleon on the column of the Place Vendome, 
and left its pedestal vacant ; the king had followed up the 
reform and erased the offensive name of the exiled Emperor 
from the public monuments, and put his own, Louis XVIII., 
in their place ; he had caused a few churches to be repaired, 
and some pictures of the Virgin to be painted and placed in 
their niches. But ghastly mounds of rubbish, the wrecks of 
demolished edifices ; scattered heaps of stones at the foot of half- 
built walls of buildings, destined never to be completed, 
these and other unsightly objects were visible on every hand, 
marking the recent history of Napoleon, overthrown in the 
midst of his mighty projects, and leaving his name and his 
works to be desecrated alike by a foreign foe and a more bitter 
domestic adversary. 

The king, Louis XVIII., was a man of good sense and 
liberal mind, for one of his race ; but he was wholly unfit to 
administer the government. He was a sort of monster of 
obesity, and, at the time I speak of, having lost the use of his 
lower limbs, he could not walk, and was trundled about the 
palace of the Tuileries in a wheel-chair. I have often seen him 
let down in this, through the arch in the south-eastern angle 
of the palace, into his coach ; and on returning from his ride, 

2 5 8 The Story of 

again taken up ; and all this more like a helpless barrel of beef 
than a sovereign. Had the Allies intended to make Legitimacy 
at once odious and ridiculous, they could not better have con- 
trived it than by squatting down this obese, imbecile extin- 
guisher upon the throne of France, as the successor of Napoleon ! 

The Parisians are, however, a philosophic race : as they 
could not help themselves, they did not spend their lives like 
children, in profitless poutings. They had their jokes, and 
among these, they were accustomed to call Louis Dix-huit, 
"Louis des huitres" a tolerable pun, which was equivalent 
to giving him the familiar title of " Oyster Louis." Deeming 
it their birthright to have three or four hours of pleasure every 
day, whoever may be in power, they still frequented the 
promenades, the boulevards, and the theatres. 

I cannot, perhaps, do better than transcribe a few passages 
from the hasty jottings I made at the time : 

" February 6. Washington Irving returned our call. 
Strikingly mild and amiable, he spoke of many things, all in 
a quiet manner, evidently with a fund of feeling beneath. 

"February 14. Went to a meeting of the Societe 
Philomatique, composed of members of the Institute ; saw 
Fourier, the famous geometrician and physician : Thenard, 
a famous chemist, associated with Gay-Lussac : Poisson, one 
of the first mathematicians in Europe ; and Geoffroy St. 
Hilaire, a zoologist, second only to Cuvier. 

" The proceedings were conducted with order and simpli- 
city, forming a striking contrast to the pompous declamation 
I heard in London, at the Society of Arts, upon hatching eggs. 

" February 16. Went to a meeting of the Institute, held 
in the Hotel Mazarin : one hundred and fifty members present ; 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 259 

Arago president. He is tall, broad-shouldered, and imposing 
in appearance, with a dark, swarthy complexion, and a black, 
piercing eye. Lamarck, the famous writer on natural history 
old, infirm, blind was led in by another member, a dis- 
tinguished entomologist, whose name I have forgotten : Fon- 
taine, the architect ; tall, homely, and aged : Gay-Lussac, a 
renowned chemist, under forty, active, fiery in debate : Cuvier, 
rather a large man, red face, eyes small, very near-sighted ; 
eyes near together and oddly appearing and disappearing ; 
features acute, hair grey, long, and careless : he spoke several 
times, and with great pertinency and effect ; Lacroix, the 
mathematician : Laplace, the most famous living astronomer ; 
tall, thin, and sharp -featured reminded me of the portraits 
of Voltaire ; he is about seventy-five, feeble, yet has all his 
mental faculties. 

" The principal discussion related to gasometers, the police 
of Paris having asked the opinion of the Institute as to the 
safety of certain new kinds, lately introduced. The subject 
excited great interest, and the debate was quite animated. 
Thenard, Gay-Lussac, Girard, Laplace, Cuvier, and others, 
engaged in the debate. Nearly all expressed themselves with 
great ease and even volubility. They were occasionally vehe- 
ment, and when excited several spoke at once, and the president 
was obliged often to ring his bell to preserve order. 

" It was strange and striking to see so many old men, 
just on the borders of the grave, still retaining such ardour 
for science as to appear at a club like this, and enter with 
passion into all the questions that came up. Such a spectacle 
is not to be seen elsewhere on the earth. The charms of 
science generally fade to the eye of threescore and ten : few 

260 The Story of 

passions except piety and avarice survive threescore. It is 
evident, in studying this Association, that the highest and 
most ardent exercises of the mind are here stimulated by the 
desire of glory, which is the reward of success. One thing 
struck me forcibly in this assembly, and that was, the utter 
absence of all French foppery in dress among the members. 
Their attire was plain black, and generally as simple as that 
of so many New England clergymen. 

" In the evening went to the Theatre Francais, to see 
Talma in the celebrated tragedy of ' Sylla,' by Jouy. Do not 
well understand the French, but could see that the acting was 
very masterly. In the passionate parts there was a display 
of vigour, but at other times the performance was quiet and 
natural, without any of the stage exaggeration I am accus- 
tomed to. Most of the scenes were such as might actually 
take place under the circumstances indicated in the play. 
Talma is said to resemble Napoleon in person : he certainly 
looked very much like his portraits. His hair was evidently 
arranged to favour the idea of resemblance to the Emperor. 
He is a very handsome man, and comes up to my idea of a 
great actor. 

" February 20. Went to see a new comedy by Casimir 
Delavigne, 'L'Ecole des Vieillards.' Talma and Mademoiselle 
Mars played the two principal parts. The piece consisted of 
a succession of rather long dialogues, without any change of 
scenery. Talma is inimitable in the character of a refined but 
somewhat imbecile man, who has passed the prime of life ; 
and Mademoiselle Mars is, beyond comparison, the most 
graceful and pleasing of actresses. I am struck with the strict 
propriety, the refinement even, of the manners of the audience. 

Peter Par/ey's Own Life. 16 1 

" February 21st. Went to the Hospital of La Charite. 
Saw Laennec, with his pupils, visiting the patients. He 
makes great use of the stethoscope, which is a wooden tube 
applied to the body, and put to the ear ; by the sound, the 
state of the lungs and the vital organs is ascertained. It is 
like a telescope, by which the interior of the body is perceived, 
only that the ear is used instead of the eye. It is deemed 
a great improvement. Laennec is the inventor, and has high 
reputation in the treatment of diseases of the chest. He has 
learned to ascertain the condition of the lungs by thumping 
on the breast and back of the patient, and putting the ear to 
the body at the same time. 

" The whole hospital was neat and clean ; bedsteads of 
iron. French medical practice very light; few medicines 
given ; nursing is a great part of the treatment. 

" Same day, went to the Hotel Dieu, a medical and 
surgical hospital. Saw Dupuytren and his pupils visiting 
the patients. He holds the very first rank as a surgeon. 
His operations are surprisingly bold and skilful. Edward 

C , of Philadelphia, who is here studying medicine, told 

me a good anecdote of him. He has a notion that he can 
instantly detect hydrocephalus in a patient from the manner 
in which he carries his head. One day, while he was in the 
midst of his scholars at the hospital, he sa,w a common sort of 
man standing at a distance, among several persons who had 
come for medical advice. Dupuytren's eye fell upon him, and 
he said to his pupils, ' Do you see yonder that fellow that 
has his hand to his face, and carries his head almost on his 
shoulder ? Now, take notice : that man has hydrocephalus. 
Come here, my good fellow ! ' 

262 fhe Story of 

11 The man thus called came up. ' Well,' said Dupuy- 
tren, ' I know what ails you ; but come, tell us about it 
yourself. What is the matter with you ? ' 

" ' I've got the toothache!' was the reply. 

" ' Take that/ said Dupuytren, giving him a box on the 
ear; ' and go to the proper department and have it pulled 
out ! ' " 

I was again in Paris in the summer of 1832. Great 
changes had taken place since 1824. Louis XVIII. was 
dead; Charles X. had succeeded; and, after a brief reign, 
had been driven away by the revolution of the " Three 
Glorious Days." Louis Philippe was now on the throne. 
On the 29th of July, and the two following days, we saw the 
celebration of the event which had thus changed the dynasty 
of France. It consisted of a grand fete, in the Champs 
Elysees, closed by a most imposing military spectacle, in 
which eighty thousand troops, extending from the Arc de 
Triomphe to the Place Vendome, marched before the 
admiring throng. Louis Philippe was himself on horseback 
as commander -in -chief, and such was his popularity among 
the masses, that, in many instances, I saw men in blouses 
rush up and grasp his hand, and insist upon shaking it. 
Sixteen years after I saw him hustled into a cab, and flying 
from the mob for his life his family scattered, and he but 
too happy to get safe to England in the disguise of a sailor ! 

As I have said, I established my family in Paris in 1846 ; 
that winter and the following I was also there. I remember 
that on a certain Monday in February, 1848, I went up to 
see our countrywoman, the Marchioness Lavalette, to arrange 
with her about an introduction she had promised me to 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 263 

Guizot. She was not at home, but as I was coming down 
the hill from the Place St. George, I met her in her carriage. 
She asked me to walk back to her house, and I did so. I 
observed that she was much agitated, and asked her the 
cause. " We are going to have trouble ! " said she. " I 
have just been to the Chambers : the ministry have deter- 
mined to stop the meeting of the Liberals to-morrow; the 
proclamation is already being printed." 

" Well, and what then ? " said I. 

" Another ' Three Glorious Days ! ' " 

To this I replied that I conceived her fears groundless ; 
that Louis Philippe appeared to me strong in the confidence 
of the people ; that he was noted for his prudence and 
sagacity ; that Guizot, his prime minister, was a man of 
great ability ; that the whole cabinet, indeed, were distin- 
guished for their judgment and capacity. The lady shook 
her head, and rejoined, 

" I know Paris better than you do. We are on the eve 
of an earthquake ! " 

Soon after this I took my leave. What speedily ensued 
may best be told in another chapter, by a few extracts from a 
letter I addressed to a friend in Boston at the time. 

264 The Story of 







11 Paris, M, archl 4^,1848. 

" IT may be well to state a few particulars as to tlie political 
condition of France at the moment of the revolt. 

" Louis Philippe commenced his career under fair aus- 
pices, and for a time everything promised a happy fulfilment 
of what seemed his duty and his destiny. But by degrees a 
great change came over the monarch ; the possession of pow r er 
seduced his heart, and turned his head; and forgetting his 
pledges, and blind to his true interest, he set himself to 
building up a dynasty that should hand down his name and 
fame to posterity. 

" It seemed, at a superficial glance, that he might realise 
his dream. He had acquired the reputation of being the 
most sagacious monarch of his time. He had improved and 
embellished the capital ; on all sides his ' image and super- 
scription' were seen in connexion with works of beauty and 

Peter Parley's Own Life. . 265 

utility. France was happier than the adjacent countries. 
The famine and the pestilence, that had recently desolated 
neighbouring states, had trod more lightly here. The king 
was blessed with a large family. These had all reached 
maturity, and were allied to kings and queens, princes and 
princesses. The upholders of the Crown in the parliament 
were men whose names alone were a tower of strength. Peace 
reigned at home, and the army abroad had just succeeded in 
achieving a signal triumph over an enemy that had baffled 
them for years. 

" Such was the outward seeming of affairs ; but there 
were threatening fires within which might at any moment 
produce a conflagration. Many thinking people were pro- 
foundly disgusted with the retrograde tendency of the Govern- 
ment. Although the march of despotism had been cautious 
and stealthy, the people generally began to feel the tyranny to 
which they had become subjected. 

" Among these grievances were the constant increase of 
the national debt, and consequent increase of taxation, with 
the restraints put upon the liberty of the press and of speech. 
By a law of some years' standing, the people were prohibited 
from holding stated meetings of more than twenty persons 
without license; and reform banquets, or meetings for the 
discussion of public affairs of which about seventy had been 
held in different parts of the kingdom within the last year 
were now pronounced illegal by the ministry. Finally, a 
determination to suppress one of them, about to be held in the 
twelfth ward of Paris, was solemnly announced by the Ministry 
in the Chamber of Deputies. 

" It is material to bear in mind, that there are always in 

266 The Story of 

this metropolis at least one hundred thousand workmen who 
live from day to day upon their labour, and who, upon the 
slightest check to trade, are plunged into poverty, if not 
starvation. At the moment of which we are speaking this 
immense body of men, with their families, were suffering sorely 
from the stagnation of business in the capital. There were 
not less than two hundred thousand persons who, for the space 
of three months, had hardly been able to obtain sufficient food 
to appease the cravings of hunger. How easy to stir up these 
people to rebellion! how natural for them to turn their 
indignation against the king and his government ! The 
' Opposition' members seized the occasion now afforded them 
to excite these discontented masses against the ministry ; and 
the latter, by their rashness, did more than their enemies to 
prepare the mine and set the match to the train. 

" The crisis was now at hand. The ' Opposition' depu- 
ties declared their intention to attend the proposed meeting; 
and, in spite of the threats of the ministry, the preparations 
for the banquet went vigorously on. A place was selected in 
the Champs Elysees, and a building was in progress of erec- 
tion for the celebration. The programme of the same was 
announced ; the toast for the occasion was published ; the 
orator, 0. Barrot, selected. The day was fixed : an ominous 
day for tyranny, an auspicious one for human freedom. It 
was the 22d of February, the birthday of Washington! 
Whether it has received a new title to its place in the calendar 
of liberty, must be left for the decision of time. 

" The evening of the 21st came, and then proclamations 
were issued, by the co-operation of the ministry and the 
police, prohibiting the banquet. This act, though it had been 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 267 

hreatened, still fell like a thunderbolt upon the people. It 
was known that an immense military force had been quietly 
assembled in Paris and the vicinity eighty thousand troops, 
with artillery and ample munitions and that the garrisons 
around the Tuileries had been victualled as if for a siege. 
But it had not been believed that an attempt to stifle the 
voice of the people, so bold as this, would really be made. 
Yet such was the fact. The leaders of the ' Opposition ' 
receded from their ground; and it was announced, in the 
papers of the 22d, that the banquet, being forbidden by the 
Government, would not take place. 

" The morning of this day was dark and drizzly. I had 
anticipated some manifestation of uneasiness, and at half-past 
nine o'clock went forth. Groups of people were reading the 
proclamations posted up at the corners of the streets, but all 
was tranquil. I walked along the Boulevards for a mile, yet 
saw no symptoms of the coming storm. 

" The designated place of meeting for the banquet was the 
square of the Madeleine. This is at the western extremity of 
the Boulevards, and near the great central square called the 
Place de la Concorde, a point communicating directly with 
the Chamber of Deputies, the Champs Elysees, the gardens of 
the Tuileries, &c. At eleven o'clock, A.M., a dark mass was 
seen moving along the Boulevards towards the proposed place 
of meeting. This consisted of thousands of workmen from the 
fauxbourgs. In a few moments the entire square of the Made- 
leine was filled with these persons, dressed almost exclusively 
in their characteristic costume, which consists of a blue tunic, 
called blouse a garment which is made very much in the 
fashion of our farmers' frocks. 

268 The Story of 

" The opening scene of the drama had now begun. The 
mass rushed and eddied around the Madeleine, which, by the 
way, is the finest church and the finest edifice in Paris. Such 
was the threatening aspect of the scene, that the shops were all 
suddenly shut, and the people around began to supply them- 
selves, with bread and other food, for ' three days.' In a few 
moments the avalanche took its course down the Rue Roy ale, 
swept across the Place de la Concorde, traversed the bridge 
over the Seine, and collected, in swelling and heaving masses, 
in the place, or square, before the Chamber of Deputies. This 
building is defended in front by a high iron railing. The 
gate of this was soon forced, and some hundreds of the people 
rushed up the long flight of steps, and, pausing beneath the 
portico, struck up the song of the 'Marseillaise' a song, 
by the way, interdicted by law on account of its exciting 
character. The crowd here rapidly increased : shouts, songs, 
cries filled the air. East and west, along the quays, and 
through the streets behind the Chamber, came long lines of 
students from the various schools. Standing upon one of the 
pillars of the bridge, I commanded a view of the whole scene. 
It was one to fill the heart with the liveliest emotions. A 
hundred thousand people were now collected, seeming like an 
agitated sea, and sending forth a murmur resembling the voice 
of many waters. From the southern gate of the Tuileries 
now issued two bodies of troops one, on horseback, coming 
along the northern quay. These were the Municipal Guard, 
a magnificent corps, richly caparisoned, and nobly mounted. 
Being picked men, and well paid, they were the chief reliance 
of the Government, and for that very reason were hated by 
the people. The other body of troops were infantry of the 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 269 

line, and, crossing the Pont Royal, came along the southern 
bank of the river. Both detachments approached the multi- 
tude, and crowding upon them with a slow advance, succeeded 
at last in clearing the space before the Chamber. 

" The greater part of the throng recrossed the bridge, and 
spread themselves over the Place de la Concorde. This square, 
perhaps the most beautiful in the world, is about five acres in 
extent. This vast area was now crowded with an excited 
populace, mainly of the working classes. Their number con- 
stantly augmented, and bodies of troops, foot and horse, arrived 
from various quarters, till the square was literally covered. 
The number of persons here collected in one mass was over 
one hundred thousand. 

" At the commencement, the mob amused themselves with 
songs and shouts ; but in clearing the space before the Cham- 
ber, and driving the people across the bridge, the guards had 
displayed great rudeness. They pressed upon the masses, and 
one woman was crushed to death beneath the hoofs of the 
horses. Pebbles now began to be hurled at the troops from 
the square. Dashing in among the people, sword in hand, 
the cavalry drove them away ; but as they cleared one spot, 
another was immediately filled. The effect of this was to 
chafe and irritate the mob, who now began to seize sticks and 
stones, and hurl them in good earnest at their assailants. 

" While this petty war was going on, some thousands of 
the rioters dispersed themselves through the Champs Elysees, 
and began to build barricades across the main avenue. The 
chairs, amounting to many hundreds, were immediately dis- 
posed in three lines across the street. Benches, trellises, boxes, 
fences every movable thing within reach were soon added 

270 The Story of 

to these barricades. An omnibus passing by was captured, 
detached from the horses, and tumbled into one of the lines. 
The flag was taken from the Panorama near by, and a vast 
procession paraded through the grounds, singing the ' Mar- 
seillaise,' the ' Parisienne,' and other patriotic airs. 

" Meanwhile, a small detachment of foot guards advanced 
to the scene of action ; but they were pelted with stones, and 
took shelter in their guard-house, This was assailed with a 
shower of missiles, which rattled like hail upon its roof. The 
windows were dashed in, and a heap of brush near by was laid 
to the wall, and set on fire. A body of horse guards soon 
arrived, and dispersed the rioters ; but the latter crossed to 
the northern side of the Champs Elysees, attacked another 
guard -house, and set it on fire. A company of the line came 
to the spot, but the mob cheered them, and they remained 
inactive. The revel proceeded, and, in the face of the soldiers, 
the people fed the fire with fuel from the surrounding trees 
and fences, sang their songs, cracked their jokes, and cried 
' Down with Guizot ! ' ' Vive la E-eforme ! ' &c. In these 
scenes the boys took the lead, performing the most desperate 
feats, and inspiring the rest by their intrepidity. A remark- 
able air of fun and frolic characterised the mob jokes flew 
as freely on all sides as stones and sticks. 

" Such was the course of events the first day, so far as 
they fell under my own observation. It appears from the 
papers that similar proceedings, though in some cases of a 
more serious character, took place elsewhere. Great masses of 
people gathered at various points. They made hostile demon- 
strations before the Office of Foreign Affairs, crying out, 
' Down with Guizot ! ' Some person called for the minister. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 271 

' He is not here/ said one ; ' he is with the Countess Lieven/ 

a remark which the habitues of Paris will understand as 
conveying a keen satire. At other points a spirit of insub- 
ordination was manifested. Bakers' shops were broken open, 
armories forced, and barricades begun. Everywhere the hymn 
of the ' Marseillaise' and ' Mourir pour la Patrie' were sung 

often by hundreds of voices, and with thrilling effect. The 
rappel for calling out the National Guard was beaten in 
several quarters. As night closed in, heavy masses of soldiery, 
horse and foot, with trains of artillery, were seen at various 
points. The Place du Carrousel was full of troops, and at 
evening they were reviewed by the King and the Dukes of 
Nemours and Montpensier. Six thousand soldiers were dis- 
posed along the Boulevards, from the Madeleine to the Porte 
St. Martin. Patrols were seen in different quarters during 
the whole night. About twelve tranquillity reigned over the 
city, disturbed only in a few remote and obscure places by 
the building of barricades, the arrest of rioters, and one or 
two combats, in which several persons were killed. Such 
was the first day's work the prelude to the drama about to 

" Wednesday, the 23d, was fair, with dashes of rain at 
intervals, as in our April. I was early abroad, and soon 
noticed that companies of National Guards were on duty. 
Only regular troops had been called out the day before a 
fact which showed the distrust of the National Guards enter- 
tained by the king. This was remarked by the latter, and was 
doubtless one of the causes which hastened the destruction of 
the Government. 

" At nine o'clock I passed up the Boulevards. Most of 

272 The Story of 

the shops were shut, and an air of uneasiness prevailed among 
the people. At the Porte St. Denis there was a great throng, 
and a considerable mass of troops. Barricades were soon after 
erected in the streets of St. Denis, Clery, St. Eustache, Cadran, 
&c. Several fusilades took place between the people at these 
points and the soldiers, and a number of persons were killed. 

" Some contests occurred in other quarters during the 
morning. At two o'clock the Boulevards, the Rues St. Denis, 
St. Martin, Montmartre, St. Honore in short, all the great 
thoroughfares were literally crammed with people. Bodies 
of horse and foot, either stationary or patrolling, were every- 
where to be seen. It was about this time that some officers of 
the National Guard ordered their men to fire, but they refused. 
In one instance four hundred National Guards were seen 
marching, in uniform, but without arms. It became evident 
that the soldiers generally were taking part with the people. 
This news was carried to the palace, and Count Mole was 
called in to form a new ministry. He undertook the task, and 
orders were immediately given to spread the intelligence of 
this through the city. 

" Meanwhile the riot and revel went on in various quar- 
ters. The police were active, and hundreds of persons were 
arrested and lodged in prison. Skirmishes took place, here 
and there, between the soldiers and the people ; long pro- 
cessions were seen, attended by persons who sang choruses, 
and shouted ' Down with Guizot ! ' ' Vive la Reforme ! ' 

" About four o'clock the news of the downfall of the Guizot 
ministry was spread along the Boulevards. The joyful intel- 
ligence ran over the city with the speed of light. It was 
everywhere received with acclamations. The people and the 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 273 

troops, a short time before looking at each other in deadly 
hostility, were seen shaking hands, and expressing congratula- 
tions. An immense population men, women, and children 
poured into the Boulevards, to share in the jubilation. 
Large parties of the National Guard paraded the streets, the 
officers and men shouting ' Vive la Reforme ! ' and the crowd 
cheering loudly. Bands of five hundred to fifteen hundred 
men and boys went about making noisy demonstrations of 
joy. On being met by the troops, they divided to let them 
pass, and immediately resumed their cries and their songs. 

" Toward half-past six o'clock in the evening an illumi- 
nation was spoken of, and many persons lighted up spontane- 
ously. The illumination soon became more general, and the 
populace, in large numbers, went through the streets, calling, 
' Light up ! ' Numerous bands, alone or following detachments 
of the National Guards, went about, shouting ' Vive le Hoi !' 
" Vive la Reforme ! ' and singing the ' Marseillaise.' At 
many points, where barricades had been erected, and the 
people were resisting the troops, they ceased when they heard 
the news of the resignations, and the troops retired. ' It is all 
over ! ' was the general cry ; and a feeling of relief seemed to 
pervade every bosom. 

" There can be no doubt that, but for a fatal occurrence 
which soon after took place, the further progress of the revolt 
might have been stayed. Many wise people now say, indeed, 
that the revolution was all planned beforehand ; they had 
foreseen and predicted it : and from the beginning of the out- 
break everything tended to this point. The fact is unquestion- 
ably otherwise. The ' Opposition,' with their various clubs 
and societies distributed through all classes in Paris, and 


274 The Story of 

holding constant communication with the workmen or blouse- 
men, no doubt stood ready to take advantage of any violence 
on the part of the Government which might justify resistance ; 
but they had not anticipated such a contingency on the pre- 
sent occasion. It is not probable that the Mole ministry, had 
it been consummated, would have satisfied the people ; but 
the king had yielded ; Guizot, the special object of hatred, 
had fallen, and it was supposed that further concessions would 
be made, as concession had begun. But accident, which often 
rules the fate of empires and dynasties, now stepped in to 
govern the course of events, and give them a character which 
should astonish the world. 

" In the course of the evening a large mass of people had 
collected on the Boulevard, in the region of Guizot's office 
the Hotel des Affaires Etrangeres. The troops here had un- 
fortunately threatened the people, by rushing at them with 
fixed bayonets, after the announcement of the resignation of 
the ministry, and when a good feeling prevailed among all 
classes. This irritated the mob, and was partly, no doubt, 
the occasion of the large gathering in this quarter. For some 
reason, not well explained, a great many troops had also 
assembled here and in the vicinity. At ten o'clock, the street 
from the Madeleine to the Rue de la Paix was thronged with 
soldiers and people. There was, however, no riot and no 
symptom of disorder. 

" At this moment a collection of persons, mostly young 
men, about sixty in number, came along the Boulevard, on the 
side opposite to the soldiers and the Foreign Office. It is 
said that the colonel anticipated some attack, though nothing 
of the kind was threatened. It appears that the soldiers stood 

Peter Parley' *s Own Life. 275 

ready to fire, when one of their muskets went off, and wounded 
the commander's horse in the leg. He mistook this for a 
shot from the crowd, and gave instant orders to fire. A fu- 
silade immediately followed. Twenty persons fell dead, and 
forty were wounded. The scene which ensued baffles descrip- 
tion. The immense masses dispersed in terror, and carried 
panic in all directions. The groans of the dying and the 
screams of the wounded filled the air. Shops and houses 
around were turned into hospitals. ' We are betrayed ! we are 
betrayed ! ' ' Revenge ! revenge ! ' was the cry of the 

" From this moment the doom of the monarchy was sealed. 
The leaders of the clubs, no doubt, took their measures for- 
revolution. An immense waggon was soon brought to the 
scene of the massacre ; the dead bodies were laid on it, and 
flaring torches were lighted over it. The ghastly spectacle 
was paraded through the streets, and the mute lips of the 
corpses doubtless spoke more effectively than those of the living* 
Large masses of people, pale with excitement and uttering 
execrations upon the murderers, followed in the train of the 
waggon, as it passed through the more populous streets of the 
city, and especially in those quarters inhabited by the lower 
classes. The effect was such as might have been anticipated. 
At midnight the barricades were begun, and at sunrise the 
streets of Paris displayed a net-work of fortifications from the 
Place St. George to the church of Notre Dame, which set the 
troops at defiance. More than a thousand barricades, some 
of them ten feet in height, were thrown up during that memor- 
able night ; yet such were the suddenness and silence of the 
operations, that most of the inhabitants of the city slept in 

276 The Story of 

security, fondly dreaming that the tempest had passed, and 
that the morning would greet them in peace. 

" On Thursday, the decisive day, the weather was still 
mild and without rain, though the sky was dimmed with 
clouds. At eleven in the morning I sallied forth. I cannot 
express my astonishment at the scene. The whole Boulevard 
was a spectacle of desolation. From the Rue de la Paix to 
the Rue Montmartre the finest part of Paris, the glory of 
the city every tree was cut down, all the public monuments 
reduced to heaps of ruins, the pavements torn up, and the 
entire wreck tumbled into a succession of barricades. Every 
street leading into this portion of the Boulevard was strongly 
barricaded. Such giant operations seemed like the work of 

" But my wonder had only begun. At the point where 
the Rue Montmartre crosses the Boulevard, the entire pave- 
ment was torn up. and something like a square breastwork 
was formed, in which a cannon was planted. The whole 
space around was crowded with the populace. As I stood 
for a moment surveying the scene, a young man, about 
twenty, passed through the crowd, and stepping upon the 
carriage of the cannon, cried out, ' Down with Louis Philippe ! ' 
The energy with which this was spoken sent a thrill through 
every bosom ; and the remarkable appearance of the youth 
gave additional effect to his words. He was short, broad- 
shouldered, and full-chested. His face was pale, his cheek 
spotted with blood, and his head, without hat or cap, was 
bound with a handkerchief. His features were keen, and his 
deep-set eye was lit with a spark that seemed borrowed from 
a tiger. As he left the throng he came near me, and I said, 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 277 

inquiringly, ' Down with Louis Philippe ? ' ' Yes ! ' was his 
reply. ' And what then ? ' said I. ' A republic ! ' was his 
answer ; and he passed on, giving the watchword of ' Down 
with Louis Philippe ! ' to the masses he encountered. This 
was the first instance in which I heard the overthrow of the 
king and the adoption of a republic proposed. 

" In pursuing my walk, I noticed that the population were 
now abundantly supplied with weapons. On the two first 
days they were unarmed ; but after the slaughter at the 
Foreign Office they went to all the houses and demanded 
weapons. These were given, for refusal would have been vain. 
An evidence of the consideration of the populace, even in their 
hour of wrath, is furnished by the fact, that in all cases where 
the arms had been surrendered, they wrote on the doors in 
chalk, 'Armes donnees' Arms given up; so as to prevent 
the annoyance of a second call. 

" It might seem a fearful thing to behold a mob, such as 
that of Paris, brandishing guns, fowling-pieces, swords, cut- 
lases, hatchets, and axes ; but I must say that I felt not the 
slightest fear in passing among their thickest masses. Some 
of them, who had doubtless never handled arms before, seemed 
a little jaunty and jubilant. The gamins the leaders in 
riots, rows, and rebellions were swarming on all sides, and 
seemed to feel a head taller in the possession of their weapon. . 
I saw several of these unwashed imps strutting about witl 
red sashes around the waist, supporting pistols, dirks, cut- 
lases, &c. ; yet I must state that over the whole scene there 
was an air of good-breeding, which seemed a guarantee against 
insult or violence. I may also remark here, that during the 
whole three days I did not observe a scuffle or wrangle among 

278 The Story of 

the people ; I did not hear an insulting word, nor did I see 
a menace offered, save in conflicts between the soldiers and 
the populace. I can add, that I did not see a drunken per- 
son during the whole period, with the single exception which 
I shall hereafter mention. 

" I took a wide circuit in the region of the Rue Mont- 
martre, the Bourse, the Rue Vivienne,. St. Honore, and the 
Palais Royal. Everywhere there were enormous barricades 
and crowds of armed people. Soon after that is, about 
twelve o'clock I passed the southern quadrangle of the 
Palais Royal, which, lately the residence of the brother of the 
King of Naples, was now attacked and taken by the populace. 
The beautiful suite of rooms w r ere richly furnished, and deco- 
rated with costly pictures, statues, bronzes, and other speci- 
mens of art. These were unsparingly tumbled into the square 
and the street, and consigned to the flames. At the distance 
of one hundred and fifty feet from the front of the Palais 
Royal was the Chateau d'Eau, a massive stone building 
occupied as a barrack, and at this moment garrisoned by one 
hundred and eighty municipal guards. In most parts of the 
city, seeing that the troops fraternised with the people, the 
Government had given them orders not to fire. These guards, 
however, attacked the insurgents in and about the Palais 
Royal. Their fire was returned, and a desperate conflict 
ensued. The battle lasted for more than an hour, the people 
rushing in the very face of the muskets of the guard, as they 
blazed from the grated windows. At last the barrack was set 
on fire, and the guard yielded, though not till many of their 
number had fallen, and the rest were nearly dead with suffo- 
cation. The Chateau d'Eau is now a mere ruin, its mottled 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 279 

walls giving evidence of the shower of bullets that had been 
poured upon it. 

" No sooner had the Chateau d'Eau surrendered, than the 
flushed victors took their course towards the Tuileries, which 
was near at hand ; shouting, singing, roaring, they came like 
a surge, bearing all before them. The Place du Carrousel 
was filled with troops; but not a sword was unsheathed = 
not a bayonet pointed not a musket or a cannon fired. 
There stood, idle and motionless, the mighty armament which 
the king had appointed for his defence. How vain had his 
calculations proved ! for, alas ! they were founded in a radical 
error. The soldiers would not massacre their brethren, to 
sustain a throne which they now despised. 

" But we must now enter the Tuileries. For several days 
previous to the events we have described, some anxiety had 
been entertained by persons in and about the palace. The 
king, however, had no fears. He appeared in unusual 
spirits ; and, if any intimation of danger was given, he turned 
it aside with a sneer or a joke. Even so late as Wednesday, 
after he had called upon Count Mole to form a new ministry, 
he remarked that he was so ' firmly seated in the saddle, that 
nothing could throw him off.' 

" Mole soon found it impossible, with the materials at 
hand, to construct a ministry. Thiers was then called in; 
and, after a long course of higgling and chaffering on the part 
of the king, it was agreed that he and Barrot should under- 
take to carry on the Government. This was announced by 
them in person, as they rode through the streets on Thursday 
morning. These concessions, however, came too late. The 
cry for a republic was bursting from the lips of the million. 

280 The Story of 

The abdication of the king was decreed, and a raging multi- 
tude were demanding this at the very gates of the palace. 
Overborne by the crisis, the king agreed to abdicate in favour 
of the Duke de Nemours. Some better tidings were brought 
him, and he retracted what he had just done. A moment 
after it became certain that the insurgents would shortly burst 
into the palace. In great trepidation, the long agreed to 
resign the crown in favour of his grandson, the young Count 
de Paris ; yet, still clinging to hope, he shuffled and hesitated 
before he would put his name to the act of abdication. This, 
however, was at last done, and the king and queen, dressed in 
black, and accompanied by a few individuals who remained 
faithful in this trying moment, passed from the Tuileries to 
the Place de la Concorde, through the subterranean passage 
constructed many years previously for the walks of the infant 
King of Rome. They here entered a small, one-horse vehicle, 
and, after a rapid and successful flight, landed safely at 
Dover, in England. 

" Meanwhile, the mob had seized the royal carriages, four- 
teen in number, and made a bonfire of them, near the cele- 
brated arch in the Place du Carrousel. Soon after, they forced 
the railing at several points, and came rushing across the 
square toward the place. Scarcely had the various members 
of the royal family time to escape on one side of the building, 
when the mob broke in at the other. 

" I have not time to follow the adventures of these several 
individuals. We cannot but sympathise with them in their 
misfortunes; but we may remark, that the fall of the Orleans 
dynasty was not broken by a single act of courage or dignity 
on the part of any one of the family. Their flight seemed a 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 281 

vulgar scramble for mere life. Even the king was reduced 
to the most common -place disguises the shaving of his 
whiskers, the change of his dress, the adopting an ' alias ! ' I 
may add here, that they have all escaped ; and while every- 
body seems glad of this, there is no one behind who mourns 
their loss. None are more loud in denouncing the besotted 
confidence of the king than his two hundred and twenty- 
five purchased deputies, who were so loyal in the days of 

" A short time after the king and queen had passed the 
Place de la Concorde I chanced to be there. In a few 
moments Odillon Barrot appeared from the gate of the 
Tuileries, and, followed by a long train of persons, proceeded 
to the Chamber of Deputies. It was now understood that the 
king had abdicated, and that Thiers and Barrot were to pro- 
pose the Count de Paris as king, under the regency of his 
mother, the Duchess of Orleans. Ihe most profound emotion 
seemed to occupy the immense multitude. All were hushed 
into silence by the rapid succession of astonishing events. 
After a short space the Duchess of Orleans, with her two 
sons, the Count de Paris and the Duke de Chartres, were seen 
on foot coming toward the Chamber, encircled by a strong 
escort. She was dressed in deep mourning, her face bent to 
the ground. She moved across the bridge, and passing to the 
rear of the building, entered it through the gardens. Shortly 
after this the Duke de Nemours, attended by several gentlemen 
on horseback, rode up, and also entered the building. 

" The scene that ensued within is said to have presented 
an extraordinary mixture of the solemn and the ludicrous. 
The duchess being present, 0. Barrot proceeded to state the 

282 The Story of 

abdication of the king, and to propose the regency. It was 
then that Lamartine seemed to shake off the poet and philo- 
sopher, and suddenly to become a man of action. Seizing the 
critical moment, he declared his conviction that the days of 
monarchy were numbered; that the proposed regency was 
not suited to the crisis ; and that a republic alone would meet 
the emergency and the wishes of France. These opinions, 
happily expressed and strenuously enforced, became decisive 
in their effect. 

" Several other speeches were made, and a scene of great 
confusion followed. A considerable number of the mob had 
broken into the room, and occupied the galleries and the 
floor. One of them brought his firelock to his shoulder, and 
took aim at M. Sauzet, the president. Entirely losing his 
self-possession, he abdicated with great speed, and disap- 
peared. In the midst of the hubbub a Provisional Govern- 
ment was announced, and the leading members were named. 
Some of the more obnoxious deputies were aimed at by the 
muskets of the mob, and skulking behind benches and pillars, 
they oozed out at back-doors and windows. A Houseman 
came up to the Duke de Nemours, who drew his sword. The 
man took it from him, broke it over his knee, and counselled 
his highness to depart. This he did forthwith, having bor- 
rowed a coat and hat for the purpose of disguise. A call was 
made for the members of the Provisional Government to pro- 
ceed to the Hotel de Ville. The assembly broke up, and the 
curtain fell upon the last sitting of the Chamber of Deputies 
the closing scene of Louis Philippe's government. 

" It was about three o'clock in the afternoon that I 
retraced my steps towards the Tuileries. The Place de la 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 283 

Concorde was crowded with soldiers, and fifty cannon were 
ranged in front of the gardens. Yet this mighty force seemed 
struck with paralysis. Long lines of infantry stood mute 
and motionless, and heavy masses of cavalry seemed converted 
into so many statues. Immediately before the eyes of these 
soldiers was the palace of the Tuileries in full possession of 
the mob, but not a muscle moved for their expulsion! 

" Passing into the gardens, I noticed that thousands of 
persons were spread over their surface, and a rattling dis- 
charge of fire-arms was heard on all sides. Looking about 
for the cause of this, I perceived that hundreds of men and 
boys were amusing themselves with shooting sparrows and 
pigeons, which had hitherto found a secure resting-place in 
this favourite resort of leisure and luxury. Others were dis- 
charging their muskets for the mere fun of making a noise. 
Proceeding through the gardens, I came at last to the palace. 
It had now been, for more than an-hour, in full possession of 
the insurgents. All description fails to depict a scene like 
this. The whole front of the Tuileries, one-eighth of a mile 
in length, seemed gushing at doors, windows, balconies, and 
galleries, with living multitudes a mighty beehive of men, 
in the very act of swarming. A confused hubbub filled the 
air, and bewildered the senses with its chaotic sounds. 

" At the moment I arrived the throne of the king was 
borne away by a jubilant band of revellers ; and, after being 
paraded through the streets, was burned at the Place de la 

" I entered the palace, and passed through the long suites 
of apartments devoted to occasions of ceremony. A year 
before I had seen these gorgeous halls filled with the flush and 

284 The Story of 

the fair kings, princes, and nobles gathered to this focal 
point of luxury, refinement, and taste from every quarter of 
the world. How little did Louis Philippe, at that moment, 
dream of ' coming events ! ' How little did the stately queen 
a proud obelisk of silk, and lace, and diamonds foresee the 
change that was at hand ! I recollected well the effect of this 
scene upon my own mind, and felt the full force of the con- 
trast which the present moment offered. In the very room 
where I had seen the pensive and pensile Princess de Join- 
ville and the Duchess de Montpensier the latter then fresh 
from the hymeneal altar, her raven hair studded with diamonds 
like evening stars whirling in the mazy dance, I now beheld 
a band of creatures like Calibans, gambolling to the song of 
the ' Marseillaise ! ' 

" On every side my eye fell upon scenes of destruction. 
Passing to the other end of the palace, I beheld a mob in the 
chambers of the princesses. Some rolled themselves in the 
luscious beds, others anointed their shaggy heads with choice 
pomatum, exclaiming, ' Dieu ! how sweet it smells ! ' One of 
the gamins, grimed with gunpowder, blood, and dirt, seized a 
tooth-brush, and placing himself before a mirror, seemed de- 
lighted at the manifest improvement which he produced upon 
his ivory. 

" On leaving the palace, I saw numbers of the men 
drinking wine from bottles taken from the well- stocked cellars. 
None of them were positively drunk. To use the words of 
' Tarn O'Shanter,' ' They were na fou, but just had plenty' 
perhaps a little more. They flourished their guns and pistols, 
brandished their swords, and performed various antics, but 
they offered no insult to any one. They seemed in excellent 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 285 

humour, and made more than an ordinary display of French 
politesse. They complimented the women, of whom there was 
no lack ; and one of them, resembling a figure of Pan, seized 
a maiden by the waist, and both rigadooned merrily over 
the floor. 

" Leaving this scene of wreck, confusion, and uproar, I 
proceeded toward the gate of the gardens leading into the Rue 
de Rivoli. I was surprised to find here a couple of ruthless- 
looking blousemen, armed with pistols, keeping guard. On 
inquiry, I found that the mob themselves had instituted a sort 
of government. One fellow, in the midst of the devastation in 
the palace, seeing a man put something into his pocket, wrote 
on the wall, ' Death to the thief ! ' The Draconian code was 
immediately adopted by the people, and became the law of 
Paris. Five persons, taken in acts of robbery, were shot down 
by the people, and their bodies exposed in the streets, with 
the label of ' Thieves ' on their breast. Thus order and law 
seemed to spring up from the instincts of society, in the midst 
of uproar and confusion, as crystals are seen shooting from the 
chaos of the elements. 

" Three days had now passed, and the revolution was 
accomplished. The people soon returned to their wonted 
habits ; the Provisional Government proceeded in its duties ; 
the barricades disappeared; and in a single week the more 
obtrusive traces of the storm that had passed had vanished 
from the streets and squares of Paris." 

286 The Story of 





IT is not my design to enter into the history of the revolution 
in detail, but I may sketch a few of the prominent events 
which followed. For this purpose, I make an extract from 
an account I have elsewhere given : 

" For several weeks and months Paris was a scene of 
extraordinary excitement. The Provisional Government had 
announced that they would provide the people with labour. 
Consequently, deputations of tailors, hatters, engravers, mu- 
sicians, paviors, cabinet-makers, seamstresses, and a multitude 
of other trades and vocations, flocked in long lines to the 
Hotel de Ville to solicit the favour of the Government. Vast 
crowds of people perpetually haunted this place, and, in one, 
instance, a raging multitude came thundering at the doors, 
demanding that the blood-red flag of the former revolution 
should be the banner of the new republic! It was on this 
occasion that Lamartine addressed the people, and with such 
eloquence as to allay the storm which threatened again to 
deluge France in blood. The members of the Government 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 287 

were so besieged and pressed by business, that for several 
weeks they slept in the Hotel de Ville. They proceeded with 
a bold hand to announce and establish the republic. In order 
to make a favourable impression upon the people, they decreed 
a gorgeous ceremony at the foot of the column of July, on 
Sunday, February 27th, by which they solemnly inaugurated 
the new republic. All the members of the Provisional 
Government were present on horseback; there were sixty 
thousand troops and two hundred thousand people to witness 
the spectacle. 

" Another still more imposing celebration took place on 
the 4th of March. This was called the ' Funeral of the Vic- 
tims.' After religious ceremonies at the Madeleine, the mem- 
bers of the Government, with a long train of public officers 
and an immense cortege of military, proceeded to the July 
column, conducting a superb funeral-car, drawn by eight 
cream-coloured horses. This contained most of the bodies 
of those slain in the revolution about two hundred and fifty. 
These were deposited in the vault of the column, with the 
victims of the revolution of 1830. 

" Nothing can adequately portray this spectacle. A tri- 
coloured flag was stretched on each side of the Boulevards, 
from the Madeleine to the July column a distance of three 
miles. As this consisted of three strips of cloth, the length of 
the whole was eighteen miles ! The solemn movement of the 
funeral procession, the dirge-like music, the march of nearly a 
hundred thousand soldiers, and the sympathising presence of 
three hundred thousand souls, rendered it a scene never sur- 
passed and rarely equalled, either by the magnificence of the 
panorama or the solemn and touching sentiments excited. 

288 The Story of 

" Still other spectacles succeeded; and in the summer four 
hundred thousand people assembled in the Champs Elysees to 
witness the Presentation of Flags to the assembled National 
Guards, eighty thousand being present. Such scenes can 
only be witnessed in Paris. 

" Events proceeded with strange rapidity. A Constituent 
Assembly was called by the Provisional Government to form 
a constitution. The members were elected by ballot, the 
suffrage being universal that is, open to all Frenchmen over 
twenty-one. The election took place in April, and on the 4th 
of May the first session was held, being officially announced 
to the assembled people from the steps of the Chamber of 
Deputies. On the 15th of May a conspiracy was disclosed, 
the leaders of which were Raspail, Barbes, Sobrier, Caus- 
sidiere, Blanqui, Flotte, Albert, and Louis Blanc* the two 
last having been members of the Provisional Government. 
Caussidiere was prefect of police. 

" The Assembly proceeded in the work of framing a con- 
stitution, administering the government in the mean time. On 
the 24th of June a terrific insurrection broke out, promoted by 
the leaders of various factions, all desiring the overthrow of 
the republic which had been inaugurated. Cavaignac, who 
was minister of war, was appointed dictator, and Paris was 
declared in a state of siege. The insurgents confined their 

* These men were Socialists, and aimed at a destruction of the 
government, so that they might bring into effect their peculiar schemes. 
They were shortly afterward tried at Bourges, and sentenced to long 
imprisonment or banishment. Louis Blanc and Caussidiere escaped 
to England. The former remains in London; the latter is now a wine- 
merchant in New York. 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 289 

operations chiefly to the fauxbourgs St. Jacques and St. An- 
toine. They got possession of these, and formed skilful and 
able plans of operation, which had for their ultimate object the 
surrounding of the city and getting possession of certain im- 
portant points-, including the Chamber thus securing the 
government in their own hands. 

" Cavaignac proceeded to attack the barricades, thus 
clearing the streets one by one. The fighting was terrible. 
For four days the battle continued, the sound of cannon 
frequently filling the ears of the people all over the city. 
Night and day the inhabitants were shut up in their houses, 
ignorant of all, save that the conflict was raging. The 
women found employment in scraping lint for the wounded. 
All Paris was a camp. The windows were closed ; the 
soldiers and sentinels passed their watchwords; litters, 
carrying the dead and wounded, were borne along the streets ; 
the tramp of marching columns and the thunder of rushing 
cavalry broke upon the ear ! 

" At last the conflict was over ; the insurgents were 
beaten Cavaignac triumphed. But the victory was dearly 
purchased. Between two and three thousand persons were 
killed, and among them no less than seven general officers had 
fallen. The insurgents fought like tigers. Many women 
were in the ranks, using the musket, carrying the banners, 
rearing barricades, and cheering the fight. Boys and girls 
mingled in the conflict. The National Guards who com- 
bated them had equal courage and superior discipline. One 
of the Garde Mobile Hyacinthe Martin, a youth of fourteen 
took four standards from the tops of the barricades. His 
gallantry excited great interest, and Cavaignac decorated him 

290 The Story of 

with the cross of the Legion of Honour. He became a hero 
of the day; hut sad to relate! being invited to fetes, 
banquets, and repasts, his head was turned, and he was soon 
a ruined profligate. 

" The leaders in this terrific insurrection were never 
detected. It is certain that the movement was headed by 
able men, and directed by skilful engineers. The masses who 
fought were roused to fury by poverty and distress by dis- 
appointment at finding the national workshops discontinued, 
and by stimulating excitements furnished by Socialist clubs 
and newspapers. It is computed that forty thousand insur- 
gents were in arms, and eighty thousand government soldiers 
were brought against them. It may be considered that this 
struggle was the remote but inevitable result of the course of 
the Provisional Government in adopting the doctrine of obli- 
gation, on the part of the State, to supply work and wages 
to the people, and in establishing national workshops in pur- 
suance of this idea. Still, it may be said, on the other hand, 
that nothing but such a step could have enabled the Pro- 
visional Government to maintain itself during three months, 
and give being to an organised Assembly from which a 
legitimate government could proceed. 

" The Constitution was finished in the autumn, and pro- 
mulgated on the 19th of November, 1848. On the 10th of 
December following the election of President took place, and 
it appeared that Louis Napoleon had five million out of seven 
million votes. He was duly inaugurated about a week after 
the election, and entered upon the high duties which thus 
devolved upon him." 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 291 





I NOW come to the period of 1851, when I entered upon the 
consulate. Of the space during which I was permitted to 
hold this office I have no very remarkable personal incidents 
to relate. The certifying of invoices, and the legalising of 
deeds and powers of attorney, are the chief technical duties of 
the American Consul at Paris. If he desires to enlarge the 
circle of his operations, however, he can find various ways of 
doing it. As, for instance, in supplying the wants of dis- 
tressed Poles, Hungarians, Italians, and others, who are 
martyrs to liberty, and suppose the American heart and 
purse always open to those who are thus afflicted; in 
answering questions from notaries, merchants, lawyers, as to 
the laws of the different American States upon marriage, 
inheritance, and the like; in advising emigrants whether to 
settle in Iowa, or Illinois, or Missouri, or Texas ; in listening 
to inquiries made by deserted wives as to where their errant 

292 The Story of 

husbands may be found, who left France ten, or twenty, or 
thirty years ago, and went to America, by which is generally 
understood St. Domingo or Martinique. A considerable busi- 
ness may be done in lending money to foreigners, who pre- 
tend to have been naturalised in the United States, and are, 
therefore, entitled to consideration and sympathy : it being, of 
course, well understood that money lent to such persons will 
never be repaid. Some time and cash may also be invested 
in listening to the stories and contributing to the wants of 
promising young American artists, who are* striving to get to 
Italy to pursue their studies such persons usually being 
graduates of the London school of artful dodgers. Some 
waste leisure and a good deal of postage may be disposed of 
in correspondence with ingenious Americans, inventors and 
discoverers : as, for instance, with a man in Arkansas or 
Minnesota, who informs you that he has contrived a new and 
infallible method of heating and ventilating European cities, 
and wishes it brought to the notice of the authorities there, it 
being deemed the duty of the American Consul to give 
attention to such matters. These monotonies are occasionally 
diversified by a letter from some unfortunate fellow-country- 
man who is detained at Mazas or Clichy, and begs to be 
extricated ; or some couple who wish to be put under the 
bonds of wedlock; or some enterprising wife, all the way 
from Tennessee, in chase of a runaway husband ; or some 
inexperienced but indignant youth who has been fleeced by 
his landlord. 

Such are the duties which devolve upon the American 
Consul at Paris, the incidents alluded to having come under 
my notice while I was there in that capacity. I must now 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 293 

speak of certain public events which transpired at that 
period, and which will ever be regarded as among the most 
remarkable in modern history. 

I have told you how Louis Napoleon, in consequence of 
the Revolution of 1848, became President of the Republic. 
When I arrived in Paris, in April 1851, he was officiating in 
that capacity, his residence being the little palace of the Elysee 
Bourbon, situated between the Faubourg St. Honore and the 
Champs Elysees. The National Assembly, consisting of 
seven hundred and fifty members, held their sessions at the 
building called the Chamber of Deputies. The Government 
had been in operation somewhat over two years. 

To the casual observer, the external aspect of things was 
not very different from what it had been under the monarchy 
of Louis Philippe. It is true that the palace of the Tuileries 
was vacant; no royal coaches were seen dashing through 
the avenues ; the public monuments everywhere proclaimed 
" liberty, equality, fraternity." But still, the streets were filled 
with soldiers as before. Armed sentinels were stationed at 
the entrances of all the public buildings. The barracks were, 
as usual, swarming with soldiers, and large masses of horse 
and foot were trained at the Champ de Mars and at Satory. 
Martial reviews and exercises were, indeed, the chief amuse- 
ment of the metropolis. The President's house was a palace, 
and all around it was bristling with bayonets. It was ob- 
vious that, whatever name the Government might bear, 
military force lay at the bottom of it; and if to-day this 
might be its defence, to-morrow it might also be its over- 

It is now ascertained that Louis Napoleon, from the 

294 The Story of 

beginning, had his mind fixed upon the restoration of the 
Empire. In accepting the presidency of the Republic, and 
even in swearing fidelity to the Constitution, he consi- 
dered himself only as mounting the steps of the Imperial 

In order to prepare the nation for the revolution which he 
meditated, Louis Napoleon caused agitating and alarming 
rumours to be circulated of a terrible plot, planned by the 
Democrats, Republicans, and Socialists of France, the object 
of which was to overturn the whole fabric of society, to 
destroy religion, to sweep away the obligations of marriage, to 
strip the rich of their property, and make a general distri- 
bution of it among the masses. Other conspiracies, having 
similar designs, were said to exist in all the surrounding 
countries of Europe, and the time was now near at hand when 
the fearful explosion would take place. The police of France, 
subject to the control and direction of the President, were in- 
structed to discover evidences of this infernal plot, and they 
were so successful, that the public mind was filled with a 
vague but anxious apprehension that society was reposing 
upon a volcano, which might soon burst forth, and overwhelm 
the whole country in chaos. 

The National Assembly was conducted in a manner to 
favour these schemes of the President. They were divided 
into four or five factions, and spent their time chiefly in angry 
disputes and selfish intrigues. A portion of them were 
Monarchists ; and, though they had acquired their seats by 
pledges of devotion to the republic, they were now plotting its 
overthrow ; a part being for the restoration of the Oiieanists, 
and a part for the Bourbons. Another faction was for Louis 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 295 

Napoleon, and actively promoted his schemes. By the Con- 
stitution he was ineligible for a second term, and his friends 
were seeking the means of overcoming the difficulty, and 
giving him a re-election, by fair means or foul. The Liberals 
were divided into several shades of opinion some being Re- 
publicans, after the model of General Cavaignac ; some being 
Democrats, like Victor Hugo ; and some Socialists, after the 
fashion of Pierre Leroux. In such a state of things there was 
a vast deal of idle debate, while the substantial interests of the 
country seemed, if not totally forgotten, at least secondary to 
the interests of parties, and the passions and prejudices of 

I remember that on a certain Monday evening, the 1st of 
December, 1852, I was present at the Elysee, and was then 
first introduced to Louis Napoleon. I found him to be an 
ordinary -looking person, rather under size, but well formed, 
and with a dull expression of countenance. The room was 
tolerably full, the company consisting, as is usual in such 
cases, of diplomats, military officers, and court officials, with a 
sprinkling of citizens, in black coats. I was forcibly struck 
by the preponderance of soldiers in the assembly, and I said 
several times to my companions that it seemed more like a 
camp than a palace. The whole scene was dull ; the Presi- 
dent himself appeared preoccupied, and was not master of his 
usual urbanity ; General Magnan walked from room to room 
with a ruminating air, occasionally sending his keen glances 
around, as if searching for something which he could not 
find. There was no music no dancing. That gaiety which 
almost pervades a festive party in Paris was wholly wanting. 
There was no ringing laughter no merry hum of con versa- 

296 The Story of 

tion. I noticed all this, but I did not suspect the cause. At 
eleven o'clock the assembly broke up, and the guests departed. 
At twelve, the conspirators, gathered for their several tasks, 
commenced their operations. 

About four in the morning the leading members of the 
Assembly were seized in their beds, and hurried to prison. 
Troops were distributed at various points, so as to secure the 
city. When the light of day came, proclamations were posted 
at the corners of the streets, announcing to the citizens that the 
National Assembly was dissolved; that universal suffrage 
was decreed ; that the Republic was established ! Such was 
the general unpopularity of the Assembly, that the first im- 
pression of the people was that of delight at its overthrow. 
Throughout the first day the streets of Paris were h'ke a 
swarming hive, filled with masses of people, yet, for the most 
part, in good-humour. The second day they had reflected, 
and began to frown, but yet there was no general spirit of 
revolt. A few barricades were attempted, but the operators 
were easily dispersed. The third day came; and although 
there was some agitation among the masses, there was evi- 
dently no preparation, no combination for general resistance. 
As late as ten o'clock in the forenoon I met one of the Repub- 
licans whom I knew, and asked him what was to be done. 
His reply was, 

" We can do nothing ; our leaders are in prison ; we are 
bound hand and foot. I am ready to give my life at the 
barricades, if with the chance of benefit ; but I do not like to 
throw it away. We can do nothing!" 

Soon after this I perceived heavy columns of troops 
some four thousand men marching through the Rue de la 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 297 

Paix, and then proceeding along the Boulevards towards the 
Porte St. Denis. These were soon followed by a body of 
about a thousand horse. I was told that similar bodies were 
moving to the same point through other avenues of the city. 
In a short time the whole Boulevard, from the Rue de la Paix 
to the Place de la Bastille, an extent of two miles, was filled 
with troops. My office was on the Boulevard des Italiens, 
and was now fronted by a dense body of lancers, each man 
with his cocked pistol in his hand. Except the murmur of 
the horses' hoofs, there was a general stillness over the city. 
The side-walks were filled with people; and though there 
was no visible cause for alarm, yet there was still a vague 
apprehension which cast pallor and gloom upon the faces 
of all. 

Suddenly a few shots were heard in the direction of the 
Boulevard Montmartre, and then a confused hum, and soon a 
furious clatter of hoofs. A moment after, the whole body of 
horse started into a gallop, and rushed by as if in flight ; 
presently they halted, however, wheeled slowly, and gradually 
moved back, taking up their former position. The men 
looked keenly at the houses on either side, and pointed their 
pistols threateningly at all whom they saw at the windows. 
It afterward appeared, that when the troops had been drawn 
out in line and stationed along the Boulevard, some half-dozen 
shots were fired into them from the tops of buildings and from 
windows : this created a sudden panic ; the troops ran, and, 
crowding upon others, caused the sudden movement I have 
described. In a few moments the heavy, sickening sound of 
muskets came from the Porte St. Denis. Volley succeeded 
volley, and after some time the people were seer rushing madly 

298 The Story of 

along the pavements of the Boulevard, as if to escape. The 
gate of our hotel was now closed, and, at the earnest request 
of the throng that had gathered for shelter in the court of the 
hotel, I put out the " Stars and Stripes" the first and last 
time that I ever deemed it necessary. The dull roar of 
muskets, with the occasional boom of cannon, continued at 
intervals for nearly half-an-hour. Silence at last succeeded, 
and the people ventured into the streets. 

About four in the afternoon I walked for a mile along the 
Boulevard. The pavements were strewn with the fragments 
of shattered windows, broken cornices, and shivered door- 
ways. Many of the buildings, especially those on the southern 
side of the street, were thickly spattered with bullet-marks, 
especially around the windows. One edifice was riddled 
through and through with cannon-shot. Frequent spots of 
blood stained the side-walk, and along the Boulevard Mont- 
martre, particularly around the doorways, there were pools 
like those of the shambles ; it being evident that the reckless 
soldiers had shot down in heaps the fugitives who, taken by 
surprise, strove to obtain shelter at the entrances of the hotels 
upon the street. 

The morning came, and the triumph of the Reign of Terror 
was complete. What was enacted in Paris was imitated all 
over France. Nearly every department was declared in a 
state of siege ; revolt was punished with death, and doubt or 
hesitation with imprisonment. Forty thousand persons were 
hurried to the dungeons, without even the form or pretence of 
trial. All over the country the press was silenced, as it had 
been in Paris ; save only a few obsequious prints, which pub- 
lished what was dictated to them. These declared that all 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 299 

this bloodshed and violence were the necessary result of the 
Socialist conspiracy, which threatened to overturn society : 
happily, as they contended, Louis Napoleon, like a beneficent 
Providence, had crushed the monster, and he now asked the 
people to ratify what he had done, by making him President 
for ten years. In the midst of agitation, delusion, and panic, 
the vote was taken, and Louis Napoleon was elected by a vote 
of eight millions of suffrages ! The nominal Republic thus 
established soon gave way to the Empire ; the President 
reached the Imperial throne, and now stands before the world 
as Napoleon III. ! 

Since his acquisition of a throne Louis Napoleon has con- 
ducted the government with ability, and he has certainly been 
seconded by fortune. He married a lady who has shed lustre 
upon her high position by her gentle virtues and gracious 
manners. He engaged in the Eastern War, and triumphed. He 
has greatly improved and embellished the capital, and made 
Paris the most charming city in the world : nowhere else does 
life seem to flow on so cheerfully and so tranquilly as here. 
He has gradually softened the rigours of his government ; 
and though some noble spirits still pine in exile, he has taken 
frequent advantage of opportunity to diminish the number.' 
The people of France, at the present time, appear to be 
satisfied with the government, and, no doubt, a large majority, 
could the question be proposed to them, would vote for ita 

In the summer of 1853, I was politely advised from the 
State Department that President Pierce had appointed my 
successor in the consulate. Thus, having held the place a 

300 The Story of 

little over two years, on the 1st of August, 1853,* I was 
restored to the privileges of private-citizen life. As I had 
various engagements which forbade me immediately to leave 
France, I hired a small house in Oourbevoie, which I made 
my residence till my departure for America. 

In the autumn of 1 854 I set out with my family for a 
short tour in Italy. In all my wanderings I had never visited 
this famous country ; and as I was not likely ever to have 
another opportunity, I felt it to be a kind of duty to avail my- 
self of a few unappropriated weeks to accomplish. this object. 
After visiting Florence, Rome, and Naples, we returned to 
Paris. Tarrying there for a short time, for the purpose of 
seeing the International Exhibition of 1855, we finally left 
Europe in July, and in the same month found a new home in 
New York. 

I have now come to my farewell. Leave-takings are in 
general somewhat melancholy, and it is best to make them as 
brief as possible. Mine shall consist of a single train of 
thought, and that suggestive of cheerful rather than mournful 
feelings. Like a traveller approaching the end of his journey, 

* I shall, I trust, be excused for inserting in a note the following, 
which I take from Galignani's Paris Messenger of December 15th, 
1854 : 

AMERICA AT PARIS. The Americans in Paris lately presented to Mr. 
Goodrich a medallion executed in vermeil, by the distinguished artist, 
Adam-Salomon, with the following inscription encircling an admirable 
portrait of the consul in relief : 

' To 8. G. Goodrich, Consul of the United States of America at Paris, 
presented by his Countrymen in that City, August ls, 1853.' " 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 301 

I naturally cast a look backward, and surveying the monu- 
ments which rise up in the distance, seek to estimate the 
nature and tendency of the march of events which I have 
witnessed, and in which I have participated. 

One general remark appears to me applicable to the half 
century over which my observation has extended ; which is, 
that everywhere there has been improvement. I know of no 
department of human knowledge, no sphere of human inquiry, 
no race of men, no region of the earth, where there has been 
retrogression. On the whole, the age has been alike fruitful 
in discovery, and in the practical, beneficial results of discovery. 
Science has advanced with giant strides ; and it is the distin- 
guishing characteristic of modern science that it is not the 
mere toy of the philosopher, nor the hidden mystery of the 
laboratory, but the hard-working servant of the manufactory, 
the workshop, and the kitchen. 

On every hand are the evidences of improvement. What 
advances have been made in agriculture ; in the analysis of 
soils, the preparation of manures, the improvement of imple- 
ments, from the spade to the steam-reaper ; in the manufacture 
of textile fabrics by the inventions of Jacquard and others in 
weaving, and innumerable devices in spinning ; in the working 
of iron cutting, melting, moulding, rolling, shaping it like 
dough, whereby it is applied to a thousand new uses ; in 
commerce and navigation, by improved models of ships, im- 
proved chronometers, barometers, and quadrants in chain- 
pumps and wheel -rudders ; in printing, by the use of the 
steam-press, throwing off a hundred thousand impressions 
instead of two thousand in a day; in microscopes, which have 
revealed new worlds in the infinity of littleness, as well as 

jo 2 ^he Story of 

in telescopes, which have unfolded immeasurable depths of 
space before hidden from the view. How has travelling been 
changed, from jolting along at the rate of six miles an hour 
over rough roads in a stage-coach, to the putting one's self 
comfortably to bed in a steam-boat and going fifteen miles 
an hour ; or sitting down in a railway -carriage to read a 
novel, and before you have finished to find yourself five 
hundred miles away ! 

And in the moral world, the last fifty years appear to me 
to have shown an improvement, if not as marked, yet as cer- 
tain and positive, as in the material world. Everywhere, as I 
believe, the standard of humanity is more elevated than before. 
If in some things, with the increase of wealth and luxury, we 
have degenerated, on the whole there has been an immense 
advance, as well in technical morals as in those large humani- 
ties which aim at the good of all mankind. 

FOR nearly five years the author of the foregoing Story 
continued to reside in New York ainid a large circle of friends. 
One morning, while reading the New York Times, my eye 
rested on the following paragraph, which I cannot do better 
than give to my readers as it was printed : 

regret that we are obliged to announce the death of Mr. S. G. 
Goodrich, more widely known as ' Peter Parley ' the 
pseudonym under which he acquired his reputation. He died 
very suddenly, at his residence in Ninth Street, of disease of 

Peter Parley's Own Life. 303 

the heart [May 9th, I860]. Mr. Goodrich was a native of 
Connecticut, and was horn in 1793, though no one would 
have judged from his appearance that he was so nearly 
seventy years old. He had a vigorous constitution, which he 
preserved to the last hy care and regularity in his mode of 
life. He began life as a publisher first in Hartford, and after- 
wards in Boston, and edited in the days of Annuals one of 
the most celebrated of them, The Token, from 1828 to 
1842. His greatest success, however, was achieved in com- 
piling books for children, designed to convey instruction in 
natural history, travels, biography, and various branches of 
science and art, by simply-written narratives and anecdotes, 
copiously illustrated by engravings. He wrote as ' Peter 
Parley' telling stories to children, and for many years the 
series of works thus published, extending to over forty volumes, 
had an enormous circulation, both in this country and abroad. 
They introduced a class of books which have since become 
universal. In 1841 he established a periodical called Merry's 
Museum, based upon the same general plan, which he con- 
tinued until 1854. In 1857 he published two volumes of 
Recollections, containing an immense amount of exceed- 
ingly interesting memoranda concerning men and events in 
Connecticut, and forming one of the most readable books 
of the day. Mr. Goodrich was appointed American Consul 
at Paris under Mr. Fillmore, and held that office for several 
years. He performed its duties with great fidelity, and en- 
joyed the respect and esteem of all with whom he came in 
contact. He published several works while there, calculated to 
diffuse a more general knowledge of America and its institu- 
tions, and upon his return prepared an elaborate and admirable 

304 The Story of Peter Parley, &c. 

illustrated History of the Animal Kingdom, which, was issued 
last year in two large and elegant volumes. He was a man 
of great diligence, and continued to prosecute his literary 
labours to the latest period of his life. 

" Mr. Goodrich was preparing to leave the city and to 
reside in Connecticut. Some four or five weeks since he sold 
his furniture, pictures, etc., and was intending to remove his 
family within a few days. His death will be deeply regretted, 
even beyond the very wide circle of his personal friends and 


28 Castle St. Leicester Sq. 





[January, 1862. 



I ECTURES on the English Language. By the Hon. 
George P. Marsh, late U. S. Ambassador at Constantinople. 
8vo. Cloth, 16s. This is the only author's edition. 

" We give it a hearty icelcome, as calculated to excite 
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Lectures on the English Language. Second Series. By the 
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English and Scotch Ballads, &c. An extensive Collection. De- 
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Shakespeare's Tragedy of Hamlet: 1603-1604. Being the first and 
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The Charities of London in 1861. Fcap. 8vo. cloth. 

[Nearly ready. 

Sampson Low, Son, and Co.'s 

The English Catalogue 1835 to 1862. An entirely New Work, 
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Index to the Subjects of Books published in the United Kingdom 
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Two valuable Appendices are also given A, containing full lists of all 
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The American Catalogue, or English Guide to American Lite- 
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The Publishers' Circular, and General Record of British and 
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Published regularly on the 1st and 15th of jvery Month, and forwarded 
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The Handy-book of Patent and Copyright Law, English and 
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Dr. Worcester's New and Greatly Enlarged Dictionary of the 
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Atkcnteum, July 13, 1861. 

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List of Publications. 

which Hercules, had he been intellectually inclined, would have shrunk ap- 
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The Ladies' Reader : with some Plain and Simple Rules and In- 
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The Clerical Assistant : an Elocutionary Guide to the Reading 
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Milton's 1'Allegro. 
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Goldsmith's Deserted Village. Warton's Hai 

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A Facsimile of the Original Autograph Manuscript of Gray's 

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