Page images
PDF
EPUB

The Lexington Monument. The “Clark House” and its Associations. Tradition of the Surprise. Abijah Harrington.

which stands a few yards from the street. It is upon a spacious mound; its material is granite, and it has a marble tablet on the south front of the pedestal, with a long inscription." The design of the monument is not at all graceful, and, being surrounded by tall trees, it has a very “dumpy” appearance. The people are dissatisfied with it, and doubtless, ere long, a more noble structure will mark the spot where the curtain of the revolutionary drama was first lifted. After making the drawings here given, I visited and made the sketch of “Clark's House,” printed on page 523. There I found a remarkably intelligent old lady, Mrs. Margaret Chandler, aged eighty-three years. She has been an occupant of the house, I believe, ever since the Revolution, and has a perfect recollection of the events of the period. Her version of the escape of Hancock and Adams is a little different from the published accounts, which I have adopted in the historical sketch. She says that on the evening of the 18th of April, some British officers, who had been informed where these patriots were, came to Lexington, and inquired of a woman whom they met, for “Mr. Clark's house.” She pointed to the parsonage; but in a moment, suspecting their design, she called to them and inquired if it was Clark's tavern that they were in search of Uninformed whether it was a tavern or a parsonage where their intended victims were staying, and supposing the former to be the most likely place, the officers replied, “Yes; Clark's tavern.” “Oh,” she said, “ Clark's tavern is in that direction,” pointing toward East Lexington. As soon as they departed, the woman hastened to inform the patriots of their danger, and they immediately arose and fled to Woburn. Dorothy Quincy, the intended wife of Hancock, who was at Mr. Clark's, accompanied them in their flight. Paul Revere soon afterward arrived, and the events already narrated then occurred. I next called upon the venerable Abijah Harrington, who was living in the village. He was a lad of fourteen at the time of the engagement. Two of his brothers were among the

NEAR VIEw of THE Monument.

Monument AT LExingtoN.”

* The following is a copy of the inscription:

“Sacred to the Liberty and the Rights of Mankind ' ' ' The Freedom and Independence of America— sealed and defended with the blood of her sons—This Monument is erected by the Inhabitants of Lexington, under the patronage and at the expense of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to the memory of their Fellow-citizens, Ensign Robert Monroe, Messrs. Jonas Parker, Samuel Hadley, Jonathan Harrington, Junr., Isaac Muzzy, Caleb Harrington, and John Brown, of Lexington, and Asahel Porter, of Woburn, who fell on this Field, the first victims of the Sword of British Tyranny and Oppression, on the morning of the ever-memorable Nineteenth of April, An. Dom. 1775. The Die was Cast!!! The blood of these Martyrs in the Cause of God and their Country was the Cement of the Union of these States, then Colonies, and gave the Spring to the Spirit, Firmness, and Resolution of their Fellow-citizens. They rose as one man to revenge their Brethren's blood, and at the point of the Sword to assert and defend their native Rights. They nobly dared to be Free!!! The contest was long, bloody, and affecting. Righteous Heaven approved the Solemn Appeal; Victory crowned their Arms, and the Peace, Liberty, and Independence of the United States of America was their glorious Reward. Built in the year 1799.”

* This view is from the Concord Road, looking eastward, and shows a portion of the inclosure of the Green. The distant building seen on the right is the old “Buckman Tavern,” delineated in Doolittle's engraving on page 524. It now belongs to Mrs. Merriam, and exhibits many scars made by the bullets on the morning of the skirmish.

[graphic]
[graphic]

Incidents of the Battle at Lexington. Jonathan Harrington and his Brother. Anniversary Celebration at Concord in 1850.

minute men, but escaped unhurt. Jonathan and Caleb Harrington, near relatives, were killed The former was shot in front of his own house, while his wife stood at the window in an agony of alarm. She saw her husband fall, and then start up, the blood gushing from his breast. He stretched out his arms toward her, and then fell again. Upon his hands and knees he crawled toward his dwelling, and expired just as his wife reached him. Caleb Harrington was shot while running from the meeting-house. My informant saw almost the whole of the battle, having been sent by his mother to go near enough, and be safe, to obtain and convey to her information respecting her other sons, who were with the minute men. His relation of the incidents of the morning was substantially such as history has recorded. He dwelt upon the subject ( , with apparent delight, for his memory of the scenes of his early years, around which v cluster so much of patriotism and glory, was clear and full. I would gladly have listened until twilight to the voice of such experience, but time was precious, and I hastened to East Lexington, to visit his cousin, Jonathan Harrington, an old man of ninety, who played the fife when the minute men were marshaled on the Green upon that memorable April morning. He was splitting fire-wood in his yard with a vigorous hand when Irode up ; and as he sat in his rocking-chair, while I sketched his

placid features, he appeared no older than a Z.277 o J% **2402 Z7. T man of seventy. His brother, aged eighty-

[ocr errors]

and I could not but gaze with wonder upon these strong old men, children of one moth- er, who were almost grown to manhood when the first battle of our Revolution occurred" Frugality and temperance, co-operating with industry, a cheerful temper, and a good constitution, have lengthened their days, and made their protracted years hopeful and happy." The aged fifer apologized for the rough appearance of his signature, which he kindly wrote for me, and charged the tremulous motion of his hand to his labor with the ax. How tenaciously we cling even to the appearance of vigor, when the whole frame is tottering to its fall ! Mr. Harrington opened the ball of the Revolution with the shrill war-notes of the fife, and then retired from the arena. He was not a soldier in the war, nor has his life, passed in the quietude of rural pursuits, been distinguished except by the glorious acts which constitute the sum of the achievements of a Good citizen. I left Lexington at about three o'clock, and arrived at Cambridge at half past four. It was a lovely autumnal afternoon. The trees and fields were still green, for the frost had

* The seventy-fifth anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord was celebrated at the latter place on the 19th of April, 1850. In the procession was a carriage containing these venerable brothers, aged, respectively, nearly ninety-one and ninety-three; Amos Baker, of Lincoln, aged ninety-four; Thomas Hill, of Danvers, aged ninety-two; and Dr. Preston, of Billerica, aged eighty-eight. The Honorable Edward Everett, among others, made a speech on the occasion, in which he very happily remarked, that “it pleased his heart to see those venerable men beside him; and he was very much pleased to assist Mr. Jonathan Harrington to put on his top coat a few minutes ago. In doing so, he was ready to say, with the eminent man of old, “Very pleasant art thou to me, my brother Jonathan o' "

[graphic]

Ride to Cambridge. Early History of the Town. Washington's Head-quarters.

not yet been busy with their foliage and blades. The road is Macadamized the whole distance; and so thickly is it lined with houses, that the village of East Lexington and Old Cambridge seem to embrace each other in close union.

Cambridge is an old town, the first settlement there having been planted in 1631, cotemporaneous with that of Boston. It was the original intention of the settlers to make it the metropolis of Massachusetts, and Governor Winthrop commenced the erection of his dwelling there. It was called New Town, and in 1632 was palisaded. The Reverend Mr. Hooker, one of the earliest settlers of Connecticut, was the first minister in Cambridge. In 1636, the General Court provided for the erection of a public school in New Town, and appropriated two thousand dollars for that purpose. In 1638, the Reverend John Harvard, of Charlestown, endowed the school with about four thousand dollars. This endowment enabled them to exalt the academy into a college, and it was called Harvard University in honor of its principal benefactor.

Cambridge has the distinction of being the place where the first printing-press in America was established. Its proprietor was named Day, and the capital that purchased the materials was furnished by the Reverend Mr. Glover. The first thing printed was the “Freeman's Oath,” in 1636; the next was an almanac; and the next the Psalms, in meter." Old Cambridge (West Cambridge, or Menotomy, of the Revolution), the seat of the University, is three miles from West Boston Bridge, which connects Cambridge with Boston. Cambridgeport is about half way between Old Cambridge and the bridge, and East Cambridge occupies Lechmere's Point, a promontory fortified during the -siege of Boston in 1775.

Arrived at Old Cambridge, I parted company with the vehicle and driver that conveyed me from Concord to Lexington, and hither; and, as the day was fast declining, I hastened to sketch the head-quarters of Washington, an elegant and spacious edifice, standing in the midst of shrubbery and stately elms, a little distance from the street, once the highway from Harvard University to Waltham. At this mansion, and at Winter Hill, Washington passed most of his time, after taking command of the Continental army, until the evacuation of Boston in the following spring. Its present owner is HENRY WADsworth LoNGFELLow, professor of modern languages in Harvard University, and widely known in the world of literature as one of the most gifted men of the age. It is a spo worthy of the residence of an American bard so endowed, for the associations which hallow it are linked with the noblest themes that ever -----awakened the inspiration WASHINGTon’s HEAD-QUARTERs. of a child of song.

“When the hours of Day are number'd,

And the voices of the Night

Wake the better soul that slumber'd
To a holy, calm delight;

Ere the evening lamps are lighted,
And, like phantoms grim and tall,

Shadows from the fitful fire-light
Dance upon the parlor wall,”—Long FELLow,

* Records of Harvard College.

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

Description of Washington's Headquarters at Cambridge. Phillis, the black Poet. Washington's Letter to Phillis.

then to the thoughtful dweller must come the spirit of the place and hour to weave a gor. geous tapestry, rich with pictures, illustrative of the heroic age of our young republic. My tarry was brief and busy, for the sun was rapidly descending—it even touched the forest tops before I finished the drawing—but the cordial reception and polite attentions which I received from the proprietor, and his warm approval of, and expressed interest for the success of my labors, occupy a space in memory like that of a long, bright summer day.

This mansion stands upon the upper of two terraces, which are ascended each by five stone steps. At each front corner of the house is a lofty elm—mere saplings when Washington beheld them, but now stately and patriarchal in appearance. Other elms, with flowers and shrubbery, beautify the grounds around it; while within, iconoclastic innovation has not been allowed to enter with its mallet and trowel to mar the work of the ancient builder, and to cover with the vulgar stucco of modern art the carved cornices and paneled wainscots that first enriched it. I might give a long list of eminent persons whose former presence in those spacious rooms adds interest to retrospection, but they are elsewhere identified with scenes more personal and important. I can not refrain, however, from noticing the visit of one, who, though a dark child of Africa and a bond-woman, received the most polite attention from the commander-in-chief. This was PHILLIs, a slave of Mr. Wheatley, of Boston. She was brought from Africa when between seven and eight years old. She seemed to acquire knowledge intuitively; became a poet of considerable merit, and corresponded with such eminent persons as the Countess of Huntingdon, Earl of Dartmouth, Reverend George Whitefield, and others. Washington invited her to visit him at Cambridge, which she did a few days before the British evacuated Boston; her master, among others, having left the city by permission, and retired, with his family, to Chelsea. She passed half an hour with the commander-in-chief, from whom and his officers she received marked attention."

* Phillis wrote a letter to General Washington in October, 1775, in which she inclosed a poem eulogistic of his character. In February following the general answered it. I give a copy of his letter, in illustration of the excellence of the mind and heart of that great man, always so kind and courteous to the most humble, even when pressed with arduous public duties. "Cambridge, February 28, 1776. “Miss PHILLIs-Your favor of the 26th of October did not reach my hands till the middle of December. Time enough, you will say, to have given an answer ere this. Granted. But a variety of important occurrences, continually interposing to distract the mind and withdraw the attention, I hope will apologize for the delay, and plead my excuse for the seeming, but not real neglect. I thank you most sincerely for your polite notice of me in the elegant lines you inclosed;” and however undeserving I may be of such encomium and panegyric, the style and manner exhibit a striking proof of your poetical talents; in honor of which, and as a tribute justly due to you, I would have published the poem, had I not been apprehensive that, while I only meant to give the world this new instance of your genius, I might have incurred the imputation of vanity. This, and nothing else, determined me not to give it a place in the public prints. If you should ever come to Cambridge, or near head-quarters, I shall be happy to see a person so favored by the Muses, and to whom nature has been so liberal and beneficent in her dispensations. I am, with great respect, your obedient, humble servant, GEo. WashingtoN.”

* “I have not been able to find,” says Mr. Sparks, “among Washington's papers, the letter and poem addressed to him.” Her lines “On the Death of Whitfield,” “Farewell to America," and kindred pieces, exhibit considerable poetic talent. The following is a specimen of her verse, written before she was twenty years of age. It is extracted from a poem on “Imagination.’

“Though winter frowns, to fancy's raptured eyes
The fields may flourish and gay scenes arise;
The frozen deeps may break their iron bands,
And bid their waters murmur o'er their sands;
Fair Flora may resume her fragrant reign,
And with her flowery riches deck the plain;
Sylvanus may diffuse his honors round,
And all the forests may with leaves be crown'd;
Showers may descend, and dews their gems disclose,
And nectar sparkle on the blooming rose.”

In 1773, when she was at the age of nineteen, a volume of her poems was published in London, dedicated to the Countess of Huntingdon. They give evidence of quite extensive reading and remarkable tenacity of memory, many of them abounding with fine allusions to freedom, her favorite theme. After the death of her master, in 1776, she married a man of her own color. but who was greatly her inferior. His name was Peters. She died in Boston, in extreme poverty, on the 5th of December, 1794, aged nearly forty-one years.

The “Riedesel House." Description of the Place by the Baroness Riedesel. Attestation of the genuineness of Phillis's Poetry,

A few rods above the residence of Professor Longfellow is the house in which the Bruns. wick general, the Baron Riedesel, and his family were quartered, during the stay of the captive army of Burgoyne in the vicinity of Boston. I was not aware, when I visited Cambridge, that the old mansion was still in existence; but, through the kindness of Mr. Longfellow, I am able to present the features of its southern front, with a description. In style it is very much like that of Washington's head-quarters, and the general appearance of - - the grounds around is similar. It is THE RIEDESEL House, compo shaded by noble linden-trees, and aderned with shrubbery, presenting to the eye all the attractions noticed by the Baroness of Riedesel in her charming Letters.” Upon a window-pane on the west side of the house

* This is from a pencil sketch by Mr. Longfellow. I am also indebted to him for the fac-simile of the autograph of the Baroness of Riedesel. It will be perceived that the i is placed before the e in spelling the name. I have heretofore given it with the e first, which is according to the orthography in Burgoyne's State of the Expedition, &c., wherein I supposed it was spelled correctly. This autograph shows it to be erroneous. Mr. Longfellow's beautiful poem, “The Open Window,” refers to this mansion.

* She thus writes respecting her removal from a peasant's house on Winter Hill to Cambridge, and her residence there:

“We passed three weeks in this place, and were then transferred to Cambridge, where we were lodged in one of the best houses of the place, which belonged to Royalists. Seven families, who were connected by relationship, or lived in great intimacy, had here farms, gardens, and splendid mansions, and not far off orchards, and the buildings were at a quarter of a mile distant from each other. The owners had been in the habit of assembling every afternoon in one or another of these houses, and of diverting themselves with music or dancing, and lived in affluence, in good humor, and without care, until this unfortunate war at once dispersed them, and transformed all their houses into solitary abodes, except two, the proprietors of which were also soon obliged to make their escape.

“On the 3d of June, 1778, I gave a ball and supper, in celebration of my husband's birth-day. I had invited all our generals and officers, and Mr. and Mrs. Carter. General Burgoyne sent us an apology, after he had made us wait for him till eight o'clock. He had always some excuse for not visiting us, until he was about departing for England, when he came and made me many apologies, to which I made no other reply than that I should be extremely sorry if he had put himself to any inconvenience for our sake. The dance lasted long, and we had an excellent supper, to which more than eighty persons sat down. Our yard and garden were illuminated. The king's birth-day falling on the next day, it was resolved that the company should not separate before his majesty's health was drank; which was done, with feelings of the liveliest attachment to his person and interests. Never, I believe, was ‘God Save the King' sung with more enthusiasm, or with feelings more sincere. Our two eldest girls were brought into the room to see

The following curious attestation of the genuineness of the poems of Phillis is printed in the preface to the volume. Many of the names will be recognized as prominent in the Revolution.

“To THE Public.—As it has been repeatedly suggested to the publisher, by persons who have seen the manuscript, that numbers would be ready to suspect they were not really the writings of Phillis, he has procured the following attestation from the most respectable characters in Boston, that none might have the least ground for disputing their original: “We, whose names are underwritten, do assure the world that the poems specified in the following page were (as we verily believe) written by Phillis, a young negro girl, who was, but a few years since, brought an uncultivated barbarian from Africa, and has ever since been, and now is, under the disadvantage of serving as a slave in a family in this town. She has been examined by some of the best judges, and is thought qualified to write them. “His Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, Gorernor. “The Hon. ANDREw OLIVER, Lieut. Gorernor.

“The Hon. Thomas Hubbard, The Rev. Charles Chauncey, D.D.,
The Hon. John Erving, The Rev. Mather Byles, D.D.,
The Hon. James Pitts, The Rev. Edward Pemberton, D.D.,
The Hon. Harrison Gray, The Rev. Andrew Eliot, D.D.,
The Hon. James Bowdoin, The Rev. Samuel Cooper, D.D.,
John Hancock, Esq., The Rev. Mr. Samuel Mather,
Joseph Green, Esq., The Rev. Mr. John Moorhead,

Richard Carey, Esq., Mr. John Wheatley (her master).'"

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »