THE ALGERINE CAPTIVE.
The Author giveth an Account of his gallant Ancestor, Captain John Underhill, his Arrival in Massachusetts, and Persecu|tion by the first Settlers.
I DERIVE my birth from one of the first emigrants to New England, being lineally descended from Captain John Underhill, who came into the Mas|sachusetts Page 26 in the year one thousand six hundred and thirty; of whom honourable mention is made by that elegant, accurate, and interesting historian, the Reverend Jeremy Belknap, in his History of New Hampshire.
My honoured ancestor had early im|bibed an ardent love of liberty, civil and religious, by his service as a soldier among the Dutch, in their glorious and success|ful struggle for freedom, with Philip the second of Spain; when, though quite a youth, he held a commission in the Earl of Leicester's own troop of guards, who was then sent to the assistance of that brave people, by the renowned Queen Eliza|beth of England.
The extravagant passion, which that princess was supposed to entertain for va|rious male favourites, which occasioned the disgrace of one, and the prema|ture death of another, while it has fur|nished a darling theme to the novelist, and Page 27 has been wept over in the tragic scene, has never yet received the sober sanction of the historian.
A traditional family anecdote, while it places the affection of the queen for Leicester beyond doubt, may not be un|pleasing to the learned reader, and may benefit the English historiographer.
It is well known that this crafty queen, though repeatedly solicited, never effica|ciously assisted the Netherlanders, until their affairs were apparently at the lowest ebb, and they in such desperate circum|stances, as to offer the sovereignty of their country to her general, the Earl of Leicester. Captain Underhill carried the dispatches to England, and delivered them at the office of Lord Burleigh. The same evening, the queen sent for the captain, and, with apparent perturbation, inquired of him, if he was the messenger from Leicester, and whether he had any private dispatches for her. He replied, that he Page 28 had delivered all his letters to the secreta|ry of state. She appeared much disap|pointed, and, after musing some time, said, "So Leicester wants to be a king." Un|derhill, who was in the general's confi|dence, replied that the Dutch had indeed made the offer of the sovereignty of their country to her general—esteeming it a great honour, as they said, to have a sub|ject of her grace for their sovereign. No, replied the queen, it is not the Dutch; they hate kings and their divine right; it is the proud Leicester, who yearns to be independent of his own sovereign, who moves this insolent proposal. Tell him, from me, that he must learn to obey, be|fore he is fit to govern. Tell him, added the queen, softening her voice, that obedi|ence may make him a king indeed. Im|mediately after Captain Underhill had taken the public dispatches, the queen sent for him to her privy closet, recalled her verbal message, delivered him a letter for Page 29 Leicester, directed with her own hand, and a purse of one hundred crowns for himself; charging him to enclose the let|ter in lead, sink it in case of danger in his passage by sea, and to deliver it privately. On the receipt of this letter, Leicester was violently agitated, walked his chamber the whole of the ensuing night. Soon after, he resigned his command, and returned to England, animated by the brightest hopes of realizing the lofty suggestions of his ambition. With him Captain Underhill returned, and upon the decease of the Earl of Leicester, attached himself to the fortunes of the Earl of Essex, the unfortu|nate successour to Leicester in the queen's favour. He accompanied that gallant nobleman in his successful attack upon Cadiz, and shared his ill fortune in his fruitless expedition against Tyronne, the rebel chief of the revolted clans of Ire|land; and, returning with the Earl into Eng|land, by his attachment to that imprudent Page 30 nobleman, sallying into the streets of Lon|don in the petty insurrection, which cost Essex his head, he was obliged to seek safety in Holland, until the accession of King James, in one thousand six hundred and three, when he applied for pardon and leave to return to his native country. But that monarch entertained such an ex|alted idea of the dignity of kings, and from policy, affected so great a veneration for the memory of his predecessor, that no interest of his friends could procure his pardon for an offence, which, in this day and country, would be considered a simple rout or riot, and punished with a small sine, in that age of kingly glory was supposed to combine treason and blas|phemy: treason against the queen in her political capacity, and blasphemy a|gainst her as God's representative and vicegerent on earth.
The Reverend Mr. Robinson, with a number of other pious puritans, having Page 31 sled, from the persecuting fury of the Eng|lish prelates, to Holland, in one thousand six hundred and three, he dwelt and com|muned with them a number of years. He was strongly solicited to go with Gover|nour Carver, Elder Brewster, and the oth|er worthies, part of Mr. Robinson's church, to the settlement of Plymouth, and had partly engaged with them, as their chief military officer; but, Captain Miles Standish, his brave fellow soldier in the low countries, undertaking the business, he declined.
How he joined Governour Winthrop, does not appear, but he came over to New England with him, and soon after we find him disciplining the Boston militia, where he was held in such high estimation that he was chosen to represent that town in the general court; but, his ideas of relig|ious toleration being more liberal than those around him, he lost his popularity, and was, on the twentieth of November, Page 32 one thousand six hundred and thirty sev|en, disfranchised and eventually banished the jurisdiction of Massachusetts.
The writers of those times differ, as to the particular offence for which he was punished. Some say that it was for hold|ing the antinomian tenets of the cele|brated Ann Hutchinson, others that the charge against him was for saying, That the government al Boston were as zealous as the scribes and pharisees, and as Paul before his conversion. The best account, I have been able to collect, is, that at the time when the zeal of our worthy fore|fathers burned the hottest against heretics and sectaries, when good Roger Williams, who settled Providence, the pious Wheel|wright, and others, were banished, he, with about sixty other imprudent persons, who did not believe in the then popular arguments of fines, imprisonment, disfran|chisement, confiscation, banishments, and halters for the conversion of infidels, Page 33 supposed that the christian faith, which had spread so wonderfully in its infancy, when the sword of civil power was drawn against it, in that age, surrounded by nu|merous proselites, needed not the same sword unsheathed in its favour. These mistaken people signed a remonstrance a|gainst the violent proceedings, which were the order of that day. William Aspinwall and John Coggeshell, two of the Boston representatives, who signed the remon|strance, were sent home, and the town or|dered to choose others in their room. Some of the remonstrants recanted, some were fined, some were disfranchised, and others, among whom was Captain Underhill, were banished.
It is said by some authors, that he was charged with the heinous crime of adulte|ry, and that he even confessed it. The candid American author, above named, has fallen into this error. As I am sure it must have given him pain to speak evil Page 34 even of the dead, so I am certain he will rectify this mistake in the next edition of his invaluable history.
That author informs us, page forty three of his first volume, "That he, Captain Un|derhill, was privately dealt with, on suspi|cion of adultery, which he disregarded, and therefore on the next sabbath was ques|tioned for it before the church; but the evidence not being sufficient to convict him, the church could only admonish him."—Page forty five, "He went to Boston, and in the same public manner acknowledged his adultery. But his con|fession was mixed with so many excuses and extenuations, that it gave no satisfac|tion."
The unwary reader would perhaps con|clude, that actual adultery was intended, as well as expressed, in these extracts. The Reverend author himself did not advert to the idea, that the moral law of Boston, in one thousand six hundred and thirty sev|en, Page 35 was not so lax as the moral law of the same place, in one thousand seven hundred and eighty four, as explained by the prac|tice of its inhabitants. The rigid disci|pline of our fathers of that era often con|strued actions, expressions, and sometimes thoughts, into crimes; which actions in this day, even the most precise would consider either innocent, indifferent, or beneath the dignity of official notice. The fact is, that Captain Underhill, so far from CONFESSING, was never charged with committing actual statute book a|dultery. At a certain lecture in Boston, instead of noting the referred texts in his bible, according to the profitable custom of the times, this gallant soldier had fixed his eyes stedfastly, and perhaps inordi|nately, upon one Mistress Miriam Wil|bore; who it seems was, at that very time, herself in the breach of the spirit of an existing law, which forbad women to appear in public with uncovered arms and nocks, Page 36 by appearing at the same lecture with a pair of wanton open worked gloves, slit at the thumbs and fingers, for the conven|iency of taking snuff; though she was not charged with the latter crime of us|ing tobacco. It was the ADULTERY OF THE HEART, of which my gallant ancestor was accused, and founded on that text of scripture, "Whosoever looketh on a wom|an to lust after her, hath committed a|dultery with her already in his heart."
AUTHOR's Manuscript Poems.
The Author rescueth from Oblivion a valu|able Manuscript Epistle, reflecting great Light on the Judicial Proceedings, in the first Settlement of Massachusetts: A|pologizeth for the Persecutors of his An|cestor.
I HAVE fortunately discovered, pasted on the back of an old Indian deed, a manuscript, which reflects great light upon my ancestor's conduct, and on the transactions of those times; which, accord|ing to the beneficial mode of modern his|torians, I shall transcribe literally.
Page 38 It should be premised, that in the year one thousand six hundred and thirty six, the governour, deputy governour, three as|sistants, and three ministers, among whom was Hugh Peters, afterwards hung and quartered in England, for his adherence to Oliver Cromwell, were entreated, by the Massachusetts' court, to make a draft of laws, agreeable to the word of God, to report to the next general court; and, in the interim, the magistrates were directed to determine causes according to the laws, then established, and where no laws exist|ed, then as near to the word of God as they could.
(Indorsed) BROTHER UNDERHILL'S EPISTLE. To Master HANSERD KNOLLYS—these Greeting.
Worthee and Beloved,
Remembrin my kind love to Mr. Hil|ton, I now send you some note of my Page 39 tryalls at Boston.—Oh that I may come out of this, and al the lyke tryalls, as goold sevene times puryfyed in the fur|nice.
After the rulers at Boston had fayled to fastenne what Roger Harlakenden was pleased to call the damning errours of Anne Hutchinson upon me, I looked to be sent away in peace; but Governour Winthrop sayd I must abide the examin|ing of ye church, accordingly, on the thyrd day of ye weeke, I was convened be|fore them.—Sir Harry Vane, the gover|nour, Dudley, Haines, with masters Cot|ton, Shepherd, and Hugh Peters present, with others.—They prepounded that I was to be examined, touching a certain act of adultery I had committed, with one mistress Miriam Wilbore, wife of Sam|uel Wilbore, for carnally looking to luste after her, at the lecture in Boston, when master Shepherd expounded—This mis|tress Miriam hath since been dealte with, Page 40 for coming to that lecture with a pair of wanton open workt gloves, slit at the thumbs and fingers, for the purpose of tak|ing snuff; for, as master Cotton observed, for what end should those vaine open|nings be, but for the intent of taken fil|thy snuff; and he quoted Gregory Naz|ianzen upon good works.—Master Peters said, that these opennings were Satan's port holes of firy temptatione. Mistress Miriam offerd in excuse of her vain attire, that she was newle married, and appeared in her bridall arraye. Master Peters said, that marriage was the ocasion that the Devil tooke to caste his firy darts, and lay his pit falls of temptation, to catche frale flesh and bloode. She is to be further dealt with for taken snuff. How the use of the good creature tobaccoe can be an offence I cannot see—Oh my beloved, how these prowde pharisees labour aboute the minte and cummine. Governour Win|throp inquired of mee, if I confessed the Page 41 matter. I said I wished a coppy of there charge.—Sir Harry Vane said, there was no neede of any coppie, seeing I knew I was guiltee. Charges being made out where there was an uncertantie whether the accused was guiltie or not, and to lighten the accused into the nature of his cryme, here was no need. Master Cot|ton said, did you not look upon mistress Wilbore? I confessd that I did. He said then you are verelie guiltie, brother Un|derhill. I said nay, I did not look at the woman lustfully.—Master Peters said, why did you not look at sister Newell or sister Upham? I said, verelie they are not desyrable women, as to temporale graces.—Then Hugh Peters and al cryed, it is e|nough, he hath confessed, and passed to excommunication. I sayd where is the law by which you condemne me. Win|throp said, there is a committee to draft laws. Brother Peters are you not on that committee, I am sure you have maide a law Page 42 againste this cryinge sin. Hugh Peters replyed that he had such a law in his minde, but had not writtene it downe. Sir Harry Vane said, it is sufficient. Haynes said, ay, law enough for antinomi|ans. Master Cotton tooke a bible from his coate and read whoso looketh on a woman, &c.
William Blaxton * hath been with me privelie, he weeps over the cryinge sins of the times, and expecteth soone to goe out Page 43 of the jurisdiction. I came from Eng|land, sais he, because I did not like the lords bishops, but I have yet to praye to be delivered from the lords brother|enne.
Salute brother Fish, and others, who havinge been disappointed of libertie in this wilderness are ernestlie lookinge for a better countre.
Your felloe traveller in this vale of tears. JOHN UNDERHILL.
Boston,28th 4th month, 1638
It is with great reluctance I am induc|ed to publish this letter, which appears to reflect upon the justice of the proceed|ings of our forefathers. I would rather, like the sons of Noah, go backwards and cast a garment over our fathers' naked|ness; but the impartiality of a historian, and the natural solicitude to wipe the stains from the memory of my honoured Page 44 ancestor, will excuse me to the candid. Whoever reflects upon the piety of our forefathers, the noble unrestrained ardour, with which they resisted oppression in England, relinquished the delights of their native country, crossed a bois|terous ocean, penetrated a savage wil|derness, encountered famine, pestilence, and Indian warfare, and transmitted to us their sentiments of independence, that love of liberty, which under God en|abled us to obtain our own glorious free|dom, will readily pass over those few dark spots of zeal, which clouded their ris|ing sun.
Captain Underhill seeks Shelter in Dover in New Hampshire: Is chosen Gover|nour by the Settlers: Driven by the pious Zeal of his persecutors to seek Shelter in Albany: Reception among the Dutch: Exploits in the Indian Wars: Grant of a valuable Tract of Land: The Author anticipates his encountering certain Land Speculators in Hartford: A Taste of the Sentiments of those Gentlemen: Far|ther account of his Ancestors.
WHEN the sentence of ban|ishment passed on Captain Underhill, he returned to Dover in New Hampshire, Page 46 and was elected governour of the Euro|pean settlers there; but, notwithstanding his great service to the people of Massa|chusetts, in the Pequod wars, his perse|cutors in Boston would not allow him to die in peace. First, by writing injurious letters to those he governed; by threats of their power; and lastly, by determin|ing that Dover was within the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, they forced him to flee to Albany, then possessed by the Dutch, under the name of Amboyna.
The Dutch were highly pleased with the Captain, and after Dutchifying his name into Captain Hans Van Vanderhill, they gave him a command of one hundred and twenty men, in their wars with the natives. It is said that he killed one hundred and fifty Indians on Long Island, and upwards of three hundred on the Main. The laurels of the famous Colonel Church wither in comparison. The Dutch granted him fifty thousand a|cres Page 47 of land, then in their possession. Al|though the English, when they took posses|sion of that country for the Duke of York, afterwards James the second, had promis|ed to quiet the claims of the settlers; yet Captain Underhill, or his posterity, have never availed themselves of the grant.—Mentioning this circumstance, sometime since in Hartford, some gentlemen imme|diately offered to raise a company and purchase my right. I candidly con|fessed that I was not possessed of the title, and knew not the particular spot where the land lay, and consequently was unwil|ling to sell land without title or bounda|ries. To my surprise they laughed at my scruples, and observed that they wanted the land to speculate upon, to sell, and not to settle. Titles and boundaries, in such cases, I understood, were indifferent matters mere trifles.
My brave ancestor at an advanced age, died in Albany, leaving two sons; the Page 48 youngest of whom removed to the mouth of Hudson, where some of his posterity flourish respectably to this day. The eldest son, Benoni, from whom I am descended, some years after his father's decease, after being the subject of various misfortunes, returned in impoverished cir|cumstances to New Hampshire, where the family have continued ever since.
AUTHOR'S Manuscript Poems.
The Author's Birth, and a remarkable Dream of his Mother: Observations on fore|boding Dreams: The Author reciteth a Dream of Sir William Phipps, Gover|nour of Massachusetts, and refereth small Infidels to Mather's Magnalia.
I WAS born on the sixteenth of July, Anno Domini, one thousand seven hundred and sixty two. My mother, some months before my birth, dreamed that she Page 50 was delivered of me; that I was lying in the cradle, that the house was beset by Indians, who broke into the next room, and took me into the fields with them; that, alarmed by their hideous yellings and warhoops, she ran to the window, and saw a number of young tawny savages, playing at foot ball with my head; while several sachems and sagamores were look|ing on unconcerned.
This dream made a deep impression on my mother. I well recollect, when a boy, her stroking my flaxen locks, repeat|ing her dream, and observing with a sigh to my father, that she was sure Updike was born to be the sport of fortune, and that he would one day suffer among sav|ages. Dear woman, she had the native Indians in her mind, but never appre|hended her poor son's suffering, many years as a slave, among barbarians, more cruel than the monsters of our own woods.
Page 51 The learned reader will smile con|temptuously, perhaps, upon my mention|ing dreams, in this enlightened age. I on|ly relate facts, and leave the reader to his own comments. My own opinion of dreams I shall conceal, perhaps because I am ashamed to disclose it. I will venture to observe that, if we inspect the sacred scriptures, we shall find frequent instances, both of direction to duty, and forewarning of future events, communi|cated by Providence, through the inter|vention of dreams. Is not the modern christian equally the care of indulgent Heaven, as the favoured Jew, or the belov|ed patriarch?
Many modern examples, of the fore|boding visions of the night, may be adduc|ed. William Phipps, a poor journeyman ship carpenter, dreamed that he should one day ride in his coach, and live in a grand house near Boston common. Many years afterwards, when he was knighted Page 52 by King William the third, and came from England, governour of Massachusetts Bay, this dream, even as to the situation of the grand house, was literally and minutely fulfilled. If the insect infidels of the day doubt this fact, let them consult, for their edification, the learned Doctor Math|er's Magnalia, where the whole story, at large, is minutely and amply related.—It was the errour of the times of monkish igno|rance, to believe every thing. It may possi|bly be the errour of the present day, to credit nothing.
The Author is placed at a private School: Parental Motives to a College Education: Their design frustrated by family Mis|fortune.
IN my childhood I was sent, as is customary, to a woman's school, in the summer, and to a man's, in the winter season, and made great progress in such learning as my preceptors dealt in. A|bout my twelfth year, our minister, who made it his custom to inspect the schools annually, came to our district. My mas|ter, who looked upon me as his best schol|ar, Page 54 directed me to read a lesson in Dil|worth's spelling book, which I recited as loud as I could speak, without regard to emphasis or stops. This so pleased our minister, who prided himself on the strength of his own lungs, that, a short time after, coming to my father's, to dicker, as they stiled it, about a swop of cattle, and not finding my father sharp at the bargain, he changed the discourse upon me; ob|serving how delighted he was with my performances at school. What a pity it was such a genius was not encouraged. Mr. Underhill, you must put Updike to learning. My father pleaded poverty. When I went to Harvard College, replied the minister, I was poor indeed. I had no father with a good farm to assist me; but, with being butler's freshman, and ringing the bell the first year, waiter the three last, and keeping school in the va|cations, I rubbed through, and am now what I am; and who knows, continued Page 55 he, but when Updike has completed his education, he may make a minister, and possibly, when my usefulness is over, sup|ply our very pulpit.
My mother here interfered. She was a little spare woman. My father was a large bony man; famous, in his youth, for carrying the ring at wrestling; and, in his latter years, for his perseverance at town meetings. But, notwithstanding my father's success in carrying points abroad, my mother, some how or other, contrived always to carry them at home. My father never would acknowledge this; but, when a coarse neighbour would sometimes slily hint the old adage of the gray mare being the better horse, he would say to his particular friends that he always was conqueror in his domestic warfare: but would confess that he loved quiet, and was of late tired of perpetually getting the victory. My mother joined the minis|ter; observing that Updike should have Page 56 learning, though she worked her hands to the bone to procure it. She did not doubt, when he came to preach, he would be as much run after as the great Mr. Whit|field. I always thought, continued she, the child was a genius; and always in|tended he should go to college. The boy loves books. He has read Valentine and Orson, and Robinson Crusoe. I went, the other day, three miles to borrow Pil|grim's Progress for him. He has read it through every bit; ay, and understands it too. Why, he stuck a skewer through Apollyon's eye in the picture, to help Christian beat him. My father could not answer my mother's argument. The dicker about the oxen was renewed; and it was concluded to swop even, though my father's were much the likelier cattle, and that I should go that week and study Latin with the minister, and be fitted for college.
With him I studied four years, la|bouring incessantly at Greek and Latin: Page 57 as to English grammar, my preceptor, knowing nothing of it himself, could com|municate nothing to me. As he was en|thusiastically attached to the Greek, and had delivered an oration in that language, at the commencement at Cambridge, when he took his first degree, by his direction, I committed to memory above four hun|dred of the most sonorous lines in Ho|mer, which I was called to repeat before a number of clergymen, who visited him at an annual convention, in our parish. These gentlemen were ever pleased to express astonishing admiration at my lite|rary acquirements. One of them prognos|ticated that I should be a general, from the fire and force, with which I recited Homer's battles of the Greeks and Tro|jans. Another augered that I should be a member of congress, and equal the Adamses in oratory, from my repeating the speech|es, at the councils of the heathen gods, with such attention to the caesura. A Page 58 third was sure that I should become a Witherspoon in divinity, from the pathos, with which I declaimed Jupiter's speech to all the gods. In fine, these gentle|men considered the classics the source of all valuable knowledge. With them dead languages were more estimable than living; and nothing more necessary to accomplish a young man for all, that is profitable and honourable in life, than a profound knowledge of Homer. One of them gravely observed that he was sure General Washington read Greek; and that he never would have captured the Hessians at Trenton, if he had not taken his plan of operation from that of Ulysses and Diomede seizing the horses of Rhesus, as described in the tenth book of the Iliad.
Thus slattered by the learned, that I was in the high road to fame, I gulped down daily portions of Greek, while my preceptor made quarterly visits to my fa|ther's barn yard, for pay for my instruction.
Page 59 In June, one thousand seven hundred and eighty, my father began seriously to think of sending me to college. He called upon a neighbour, to whom he had sold part of his farm, for some cash. His creditor readily paid, the whole sum due, down in paper money, and my father found, to his surprize, that the value of three acres paid him the principal and in|terest of the whole sum, for which he had sold seventy five acres of land, five years before. This was so severe a stroke of ill fortune, that it entirely frustrated the de|sign of sending me to college.
This Chapter containeth an Eulogy on the Greek Tongue.
WHAT added to the misfor|tune, mentioned in the last chapter, a worthy divine, settled in Boston, passing through our town, told my father, in a private con|versation, that all the Greek I had acquir|ed, was of no other service than fitting me for college. My father was astonished. He was a plain unlettered man, of strong natural abilities. Pray, Reverend Sir, said my father, do they not learn this Greek language at college? If so, why do such wise men, as the governours of col|leges, teach boys what is entirely useless? Page 61 I thought that the sum of all good edu|cation was, to teach youth those things, which they were to practise in after life. Learning, replied our enlightened visitor, has its fashions; and, like other fashions of this world, they pass away. When our forefathers founded the college, at Cam|bridge, critical knowledge in the mazes and subtleties of school divinity was all the mode. He that could give a new turn to an old text, or detect a mistransla|tion in the version, was more admired than the man, who invented printing, discovered the magnetic powers, or con|trived an instrument of agriculture, which should abridge the labour of the husband|man. The books of our faith, with the voluminous commentaries of the fathers, being originally written, in what are now called, the dead languages, the knowledge of those languages was then necessary, for the accomplishment of the fashionable scholar. The moderns, of New England, Page 62 have ceased to interest themselves in the disputes, whether a civil oath may be ad|ministered to an unregenerate man; or, whether souls, existing merely in the con|templation of Deity, are capable of actual transgression. Fashion has given a new direction to the pursuits of the learned. They no longer soar into the regions of in|finite space; but endeavour, by the aid of natural and moral philosophy, to a|mend the manners and better the condi|tion of man: and the college, at Cam|bridge, may be assimilated to an old beau, with his pocket holes under his arm pits, the skirts of his coat to his ancles, and three gross of buttons on his breeches; looking with contempt on the more easy, useful garb of the present day, for deviat|ing from what was fashionable in his youth.
But, inquired my father, is there not some valuable knowledge contained in those Greek books? All that is useful in Page 63 them, replied our visitor, is already trans|lated into English; and more of the sense and spirit may be imbibed, from trans|lations, than most scholars would be a|ble to extract, from the originals, if they even availed themselves of such an ac|quaintance with that language, as is usually acquired, at college.
Well, replied my father, do you call them dead languages. It appears to me now, that confining a lad of lively genius to the study of them, for five or six of the most precious years of his youth, is like the ingenious cruelty of those tyrants, I have heard of, who chained the living and the dead together. If Updike went to college, I should wish he would learn, not hard words, but useful things.
You spake of governours of col|leges, continued our visitor. Let me ob|serve, as an apology, for the concern they may be supposed to have, in this er|rour, that they are moral, worthy men, Page 64 who have passed the same dull routine of education, and whose knowledge is neces|sarily confined to these defunct languages. They must teach their pupils what they know, not what they do not know. That measure, which was measured unto them, they mete out, most liberally, unto others.
Should not the legislature, as the fathers of the people, interfere, inquired my fa|ther? We will not talk politics, at this time, replied our visitor.
My father was now determined that I should not go to college. He concealed this conversation from me, and I was left to be proud of my Greek. The little ad|vantage, this deceased language has since been to me, has often caused me sorely to regret the mispense of time, in acquiring it. The French make it no part of their academical studies. Voltaire, D'Alem|bert, and Diderot, when they completed their education, were probably ignorant of the cognata tempora of a Geek verb.
Page 65 It was resolved that I should labour on my father's farm; but alas! a taste for Greek had quite eradicated a love for la|bour. Poring so intensely on Homer and Virgil had so completely filled my brain with the heathen mythology, that I imagined a Hamadryade in every sapling, a Naiad in every puddle; and expected to hear the sobbings of the infant Fauns, as I turned the furrow. I gave Greek names to all our farming tools; and cheer|ed the cattle with hexameter verse. My father's hired men, after a tedious day's labour in the woods, inspecting our stores, for refreshment, instead of the customary bread and cheese and brandy, found Ho|mer's Iliad, Virgil Delphini and Schreve|lius's Lexicon, in the basket.
After I had worked on the farm some months, having killed a fat heifer of my father's, upon which the family depend|ed for their winter's beef, covered it with green boughs, and laid it in the shade to Page 66 putrify, in order to raise a swarm of bees, after the manner of Virgil; which process, notwithstanding I followed closely the di|rections in the georgics, some how or other, failed, my father consented to my mother's request, that I should renew my career of learning.
The Author keepeth a country School: The Anticipations, Pleasures and Profits of a Pedagogue.
BY our minister's recommend|ation, I was engaged to keep a school, in a neighbouring town, so soon as our fall's work was over.
How my heart dilated with the pros|pect, in the tedious interval, previous to my entering upon my school. How oft|en have I stood suspended over my dung fork, and anticipated my scholars, seated Page 68 in awful silence around me, my arm chair and birchen sceptre of authority. There was an echo in my father's sheep pasture. More than once have I repaired there a|lone, and exclaimed with a loud voice, is MASTER Updike Underhill at home? I would speak with MASTER Under|hill, for the pleasure of hearing how my title sounded. Dost thou smile, indig|nant reader, pause and recollect if these sensations have not been familiar to thee, at sometime in thy life. If thou answer|est disdainfully—no—then I aver thou hast never been a corporal in the militia, or a sophimore at college.
At times, I however entertained less pleasing, but more rational contemplations on my prospects. As I had been once unmercifully whipt, for detecting my mas|ter in a false concord, I resolved to be mild in my government, to avoid all manual cor|rection, and doubted not by these means to secure the love and respect of my pupils.
Page 69 In the interim of school hours, and in those peaceful intervals, when my pupils were engaged in study, I hoped to indulge myself with my favourite Greek. I ex|pected to be overwhelmed with the grati|tude of their parents, for pouring the fresh instruction over the minds of their children, and teaching their young ideas how to shoot. I anticipated indepen|dence from my salary, which was to be e|qual to four dollars, hard money, per month, and my boarding; and expected to find amusement and pleasure among the circles of the young, and to derive infor|mation and delight from the classic con|verse of the minister.
In due time my ambition was gratified, and I placed at the head of a school, con|sisting of about sixty scholars. Excepting three or four overgrown boys of eighteen, the 'generality of them were under the age of seven years. Perhaps a more rag|ged, ill bred, ignorant set, never were col|lected, Page 70 for the punishment of a poor peda|gogue. To study in school was impossi|ble. Instead of the silence I anticipated, there was an incessant clamour. Pre|dominant among the jarring sounds were, Sir, may I read? May I spell? Master, may I go out? Will master mend my pen? What with the pouting of the small children, sent to school, not to learn, but to keep them out of "harm's way," and the gruff surly complaints of the larger ones, I was nearly distracted. Homer's poluphlosboio thalasses, roaring sea, was a whisper to it. My resolution, to avoid beating of them, made me invent small punishments, which often have a salutary impression, on delicate minds; but they were insensible to shame. The putting of a paper fool's cap on one, and ordering an|other under my great chair, only excited mirth in the school; which the very de|linquents themselves often increased, by loud peals of laughter. Going, one fros|ty Page 71 morning, into my school, I found one of the larger boys sitting by the fire in my arm chair. I gently requested him to re|move. He replied that he would, when he had warmed himself; "father finds wood, and not you." To have my throne usurped, in the face of the whole school, shook my government to the centre. I immediately snatched my two foot rule, and laid it pretty smartly across his back. He quitted the chair, muttering that he would tell father. I found his threats of more consequence than I apprehended. The same afternoon, a tall, raw boned man called me to the door; immediately col|lering me with one hand, and holding a cart whip over my head with the other; with fury in his face, he vowed he would whip the skin from my bones, if ever I struck Jotham again▪ ay, he would do it that very moment, if he was not afraid I would take the law of him. This was the only instance of the overwhelming grati|tude Page 72 of parents I received. The next day, it was reported all over town, what a cruel man the master was. "Poor Jotham came into school, half frozen and near fainting; master had been sitting a whole hour by the warm fire; he only begged him to let him warm himself a little, when the master rose in a rage, and cut open his head with the tongs, and his life was despaired of."
Fatigued with the vexations of my school, I one evening repaired to the tav|ern, and mixed with some of the young men of the town. Their conversation I could not relish; mine they could not comprehend. The subject of race horses being introduced, I ventured to descant upon Xanthus, the immortal courser of Achilles. They had never heard of 'squire Achilles, or his horse; but they offered to bet two to one, that Bajazet, the Old Roan, or the deacon's mare, Pumpkin and Milk, would beat him, and challenged me to appoint time and place.
Page 73 Nor was I more acceptable among the young women. Being invited to spend an evening, after a quilting, I thought this a happy opportunity to introduce Andromache, the wife of the great Hec|tor, at her loom; and Penelope, the faith|ful wife of Ulysses, weaving her seven years web. This was received with a stupid stare, until I mentioned the long time the queen of Ulysses was weaving; when a smart young woman observed, that she supposed Miss Penelope's yarn was rotted in whitening, that made her so long: and then told a tedious story of a piece of cotton and linen she had herself woven, under the same circumstances. She had no sooner finished, than, to enforce my observations, I recited above forty lines of Greek, from the Odessey, and then began a dissertation on the caesu|ra. In the midst of my harrangue, a florid faced young man, at the further end of the room, with two large promi|nent Page 74 foreteeth, remarkably white, began to sing,
I was about retiring, fatigued and dis|gusted, when it was hinted to me, that I might wait on Miss Mima home; but as I could recollect no word in the Greek, which would construe into bundling, or any of Homer's heroes, who got the bag, I de|clined. In the Latin, it is true, that AEne|as and Dido, in the cave, seem something like a precedent. It was reported all over the town, the next day, that master was a papish, as he had talked French two hours.
Disappointed of recreation, among the young, my next object was the minister. Here I expected pleasure and profit. He had spent many years in preaching, for the edification of private families, and was settled in the town, in a fit of enthu|siasm; Page 75 when the people drove away a clergyman, respectable for his years and learning. This he was pleased to call an awakening. He lectured me, at the first onset, for not attending the conference and night meetings; talked much of gifts, and decried human learning, as carnal and devilish, and well he might, he certainly was under no obligations to it; for a new singing master coming into town, the young people, by their master's advice, were for introducing Dr. Watts's version of the Psalms. Although I argued with the minister an hour, he remains firmly convinced, to this day, that the version of Sternhold and Hopkins is the same in language, letter, and metre, with those Psalms King David chaunted, in the city of Jerusalem.
As for the independence I had found|ed, on my wages, it vanished, like the rest of my scholastic prospects. I had con|tracted some debts. My request for pres|ent Page 76 payment, was received with as|tonishment. I found, I was not to expect it, until the next autumn, and then not in cash, but produce; to be|come my own collector, and pick up my dues, half a peck of corn or rye in a place.
I was almost distracted, and yearned for the expiration of my contract, when an unexpected period was put to my dis|tress. News was brought, that, by the carelessness of the boys, the school house was burnt down. The common cry now was, that I ought, in justice, to pay for it; as to my want of proper government the carelessness of the boys ought to be im|puted. The beating of Jotham was for|gotten, and a thousand stories of my want of proper spirit circulated. These reports, and even the loss of a valuable Gradus ad Parnossum, did not damp my joy. I am sometimes led to believe, that my e|mancipation from real slavery in Algiers, Page 77 did not afford me sincerer joy, than I ex|perienced at that moment.
I returned to my father, who received me with kindness. My mother heard the story of my discomfitures with trans|port; as, she said, she had no doubt that her dream, about my falling into the hands of savages, was now out.
A sure Mode of discovering the Bent of a young Man's Genius.
I ABODE at home the remain|der of the winter. It was determined that I should pursue one of the learned professions. My father, with parental pride and partiality, conceiving my aver|sion to labour, my inattention to farming business, and the tricks I had played him, the preceding season, as the sure indica|tions of genius. He now told the story of the putrified heifer, with triumph; as he had read, in the news papers, that play|ing with paper kites was the foundation of Doctor Franklin's fame; that John Locke, who dissected the human mind, Page 79 and discovered the circulation of the soul had, in the full exercise of his understand|ing, played at duck and drake, on the Thames, with his gold watch, while he gravely returned the pebble stone, which he held in his other hand, into his fob; and, that the learned Sir Isaac Newton made soap bladders with the funk of a to|bacco pipe, and was, ever after, so enam|oured with his sooty funk, as to make use of the delicate finger of a young lady, he courted, as a pipe stopper.
I was allowed the choice of my profes|sion, to discover the bent of my genius. By the advice of a friend, my father put into my hands, what he was told were some of the prime books, in the several sciences. In divinity, I read ten funer|al, five election, three ordination, and seventeen farewell sermons, Bunyan's Ho|ly War, the Life of Colonel Gardner, and the Religious Courtship. In law, the Statutes of New Hampshire and Page 80 Burn's Justice abridged. In physic, Buchan's Family Physician, Culpepper's Midwifery, and Turner's Surgery. The agreeable manner in which this last au|thor relates his own wonderful cures, the lives of his patients, and his remarkable dexterity, in extracting a pound of can|dles, from the arm of a wounded soldier; the spirited horse, the neat little saddle bags, and tipped bridle, of our own doctor, determined me in favour of physic. My father did not oppose my choice. He only dryly observed, that he did not know what pretensions our family had to prac|tise physic, as he could not learn that we had ever been remarkable for killing any but Indians.
The Author commences the Study of Physic, with a celebrated Physician and Occu|list: A Philosophical Detail of the Ope|ration of couching for the Gutta Serena, by his Preceptor, upon a young Man, born Blind.
THE next spring, I entered upon my studies, with a physician, not more justly celebrated for his knowledge of the materia medica, than for his pecu|liar dexterity and success, in couching for the gutta serena, and restoring persons, even born blind, to sight. The account of a cure he performed, after I had been with him about a year, may not be unac|ceptable to the lovers of natural research. Page 82 The subject was a young man, of twenty two years of age, of a sweet disposition, amiable manners, and oppulent connex|ions. He was born stone blind. His blindness was in some measure compen|sated, by the attention of his friends; and the encreased power of his other or|gans of perception. His brothers and sisters enriched his mind, by reading to him, in succession, two hours every day, from the best authors. His sense of feel|ing was astonishingly delicate, and his hearing, if possible, more acute. His senses of taste and smelling, were not so remarkable. After the customary saluta|tion, of shaking hands, with a stranger, he would know a person, by the touch of the same hand, several years after, though absent in the interim. He could read a book or news paper, newly printed, tol|erably well, by tracing, with the tip of his finger, the indents of the types. He ac|quired a knowledge of the letters of the Page 83 alphabet early, from the prominent let|ters on the gingerbread alphabets of the baker. He was master of music, and had contrived a board, perforated with many gimblet holes; and, with the assistance of a little bag of wooden pegs, shaped at top, according to his directions, he could prick almost any tune, upon its being sung to him. When in a large company, who sat silent, he could distinguish how many persons were present, by noting, with his ear, their different manner of breathing. By the rarity or density of the air, not perceivable by those in company, he could distinguish high ground from low; and by the motion of the summer's breeze, too small to move the loftiest leaf, he would pronounce, whether he was in a wood or open country.
He was an unfeigned believer, in the sal|utary truths of christianity. He had imbib|ed its benevolent spirit. When he spoke of religion, his language was love to God, Page 84 and good will to man. He was no zeal|ot, but, when he talked of the wonders of creation, he was animated with a glow of enthusiasm. You observed, the other day, as we were walking on this plain, my friend, addressing himself to me, as I was intimate in the family, that you knew a certain person, by his gait, when at so great a distance, that you could not dis|cern his features. From this you took oc|casion to observe, that you saw the master hand of the great Creator, in the obvious difference that was between man and man: not only the grosser difference between the Indian, the African, the Esquimeaux, and the white man; but that which dis|tinguishes and defines accurately, men of the same nation, and even children of the same parents. You observed, that as all the children of the great family of the earth, were compounded of similar members, features, and lineaments, how wonderfully it displayed the skill of the Page 85 Almighty Artist, to model such an infinite variety of beings, and distinctly diversify them, from the same materials. You added, that the incident, you had noticed, gave fresh instance of admiration; for you was now convinced that, if even all men had been formed of so near resemblance, as not to be discerned from each other, when at rest; yet, when in motion, from their gait, air, and manner, they might readily be distinguished. While you spoke, I could perceive, that you pitied me, as being blind to a wonderful opera|tion of creative power. I too, in my turn, could triumph. Blind as I am, I have discovered a still minuter, but as certain a distinction, between the children of men, which has escaped the touch of your eyes. Bring me five men, perfect strangers to me; pair the nails of the same finger, so as to be even with the fingers' ends, let me touch, with the tip of my finger, the nails thus prepared. Tell me each person's Page 86 name, as he passes in contact before me, bring the same persons to me one month afterwards, with their nails paired, in the same manner, and I will call every one by his right name. For, be assured, my friend, that artist, who has denied to me that thing called light, hath opened the eyes of my mind, to know that there is not a greater difference between the African and the European, than what I could dis|cover, between the finger nails of all the men of this world. This experiment he afterwards tried, with uniform success. It was amusing, in a gayer hour, to hear him argue the superiority of the touch to the sight. Certainly, the feeling is a no|bler sense, than that you call sight. I in|fer it from the care nature has taken of the former, and her disregard to the latter. The eyes are comparatively poor, puny, weak organs. A small blow, a mote, or a straw may reduce those, who see with them, to a situation as pitiable as mine; while Page 87 feeling is diffused over the whole body. Cut off my arm, and a sense of feeling re|mains. Completely dismember me, and, while I live, I possess it. It is coexistent with life itself.
The senses of smelling and taste are but modifications of this noble sense, distin|guished, through the inaccuracy of men, by other names. The flavour of the most delicious morsel is felt by the tongue; and, when we smell the aromatic, it is the effluvia of the rose, which comes in contact with the olfactory nerves. You, that en|joy sight, inadvertently confess its inferi|ority. My brother, honing his penknife, the other day, passed it over his thumb nail, to discover if the edge was smooth. I heard him, and inquired, why he did not touch it with his eyes, as he did other objects. He confessed that he could not discover the gaps, by the sight. Here, the superiority of the most inaccurate seat of the feeling, was manifest. To conclude, Page 88 he would archly add: in marriage, the most important concern in life, how many miserable, of both sexes, are left to deplore, in tears, their dependence on this treach|erous thing, called sight. From this dan|ger, I am happily secured, continued he, smiling and pressing the hand of his cou|sin, who sat beside him; a beautiful blooming young woman, of eighteen, who had been bred with him, from child|hood, and whose affection for him, was such that she was willing, notwithstanding his blindness, to take him as a partner for life. They expected shortly to be married. Notwithstanding his accuracy and verac|ity upon subjects, he could comprehend; there were many, on which he was misera|bly confused. He called sight the touch of the eyes. He had no adequate idea of colours. White, he supposed, was like the feeling of down; and scarlet he resembled to the sound of martial music. By passing his hands over the porcelain, earthern, or Page 89 plaister of Paris images, he could readily conceive of their being representations of men or animals. But he could have no idea of pictures. I presented him a large picture of his grand father, painted with oil colours on canvass; told him whose resemblance it was. He passed his hand over the smooth surface and mused. He repeated this; exclaimed it was wonder|ful; looked melancholy; but never asked for the picture again.
Upon this young man, my preceptor operated successfully. I was present during the whole process, though few were admitted. Upon the introduction of the couching instruments, and the re|moval of the film from the retina, he ap|peared confused. When the operation was completed, and he was permitted to look a|round him, he was violently agitated. The irritability of the ophthalmic muscles faint|ly expressed the perturbation of his mind. After two and twenty years of total dark|ness, Page 90 to be thus awakened to a new world of sensation and light; to have such a flood of day poured on his benighted eye ball, overwhelmed him. The infant sight was too weak, for the shock, and he fainted. The doctor immediately intercepted the light with the proper bandages, and, by the application of volatiles, he was reviv|ed. The next day, the dressings were removed. He had fortified his mind, and was more calm. At first, he appear|ed to have lost more than he had gained, by being restored to vision. When blind, he could walk tolerably well, in places familiar to him. From sight, he collected no ideas of distance. Green was a colour peculiarly agreeable to the new born sight. Being led to the window, he was charm|ed with a tree in full verdure, and extended his arms to touch it, though at ten rods dis|tance. To distinguish objects within reach, he would close his eyes, feel of them with his hands, and then look earnestly upon them.
Page 91 According to a preconcerted plan, the third day, his bandages were removed, in the presence of his parents, brothers, sisters, friends, and of the amiable, lovely girl, to whom he was shortly to be mar|ried. By his request, a profound silence was to be observed, while he endeavour|ed to discover the person of her, who was the object of his dearest affection. It was an interesting scene. The company obeyed his injunction. Not a finger mov|ed, or a breath aspirated. The bandage was then removed; and, when he had re|covered from the confusion of the instant effusion of light, he passed his eye hasti|ly over the whole group. His sensa|tions were novel and interesting. It was a moment of importance. For aught he knew, he might find the bosom part|ner of his future life, the twin soul of his affection, in the fat scullion wench, of his father's kitchen; or in the person of the toothless, palsied, decriped Page 92 nurse, who held the bason of gruel at his elbow.
In passing his eye a second time over the circle, his attention was arrested, by his beloved cousin. The agitations of her love|ly features, and the evanescent blush on her cheek, would have at once betrayed her, to a more experienced eye. He pas|sed his eye to the next person, and imme|diately returned it to her. It was a mo|ment big with expectation. Many a finger was raised to the lips of the spectators, and many a look, expressive of the silence she should preserve, was cast towards her. But the conflict was too violent for her delicate frame. He looked more intense|ly; she burst into tears, and spoke. At the well known voice he closed his eyes, rushed towards her, and clasped her in his arms. I envied them their feelings; but I thought then, and do now, that the sensations of my preceptor, the skilful hu|mane operator, were more enviable. The Page 93 man who could restore life and usefulness, to the darling of his friends, and scatter light in the paths of an amiable young pair, must have known a joy never surpas|sed; except, with reverence be it spoken, by the satisfaction of our benevolent Sa|viour, when, by his miraculous power, he opened the eyes of the actually blind, made the dumb to sing, and the lame and impotent leap for joy.
AUTHOR's Manuscript Poems.
Anecdotes of the celebrated Doctor Moyes.
MENTIONING the subject of the last chapter, to the celebrated Doc|tor Moyes, who, though blind, delivered a lecture upon optics, and delineated the properties of light and shade, to the Bosto|nians, Page 95 in the year one thousand seven hun|dred and eighty five; he exhibited a more astonishing illustration of the power of the touch. A highly polished plane of steel was presented to him, with a stroke of an etching tool, so minutely engraved upon it, that it was invisible to the naked eye, and only discoverable with a powerful magnifying glass; with his fingers he dis|covered the extent, and measured the length of the line.
This gentleman lost his sight, at three years of age. He informed me, that be|ing overturned, in a stage coach, one dark rainy evening, in England, when the carriage, and four horses, were thrown in|to a ditch, the passengers and driver, with two eyes a piece, were obliged to apply to him, who had none, for assistance, in extricating the horses. As for me, said he, after I had recovered from the aston|ishment of the fall, and discovered that I had escaped unhurt, I was quite at home Page 96 in the dark ditch. The inversion of the order of things was amusing. I, that was obliged to be led like a child, in the glar|ing sun, was now directing eight persons, to pull here, and haul there, with all the dexterity and activity of a man of war's boatswain.
The Author spouteth Greek, in a Sea Port: Its Reception among the Polite: He at|tempteth an Ode, in the Stile of the An|cients.
I PASSED my time very a|greeably, with my preceptor; though I could not help being astonished, that a man of his acknowledged learning, should not, sometimes, quote Greek. Of my acquirements, in that language, I was still proud. I attributed the indifference, with which it was received in the town, where I had kept school, to the rusticity Page 98 and ignorance of the people. As I now moved in the circles of polished life, I ventured, sometimes, when the young ladies had such monstrous colds, as that they could not, by the earnest per|suasions of the company, be prevailed on to sing; when it had been frequently ob|served, that it was quaker meeting, to spout a few lines from the Iliad. It is true, they did not interrupt me with,
But the most sonorous lines of the di|vine blind bard were received with cold approbation of politeness. One young lady, alone, seemed pleased. She would frequently ask me, to repeat those lines of Wabash poetry. Though once, in the sublime passage of the hero Ulysses, hanging fifty young maidens, with his own hands, in the Odyssey, I heard the term, pedant, pronounced with peculiar emphasis, by a beau, at my back. If I had taken the hint, and passed my Greek Page 99 upon my companions, for Indian, they would have heard me with rapture. I have since known that worthy, indefatiga|ble missionary to the Indians, the Rever|end Mr. K—, and the modern Elliot, entertain the same companies, for whole evenings, with speeches in the aboriginal of America, as unintelligible to them, as my insulted Greek.
I was so pleased with the young lady, who approved the Greek heroics, that I determined to make my first essay, in me|tre, in an ode, addressed to her, by name. I accordingly mustered all the high sound|ing epithets of the immortal Grecian bard, and scattered them with profusion, through my ode. I praised her golden locks, and assimilated her to the ox eyed Juno; sent her a correct copy, and dispersed a num|ber of others, among her friends. I af|terwards found, that what I intended as the sublimest panegyric, was received as cutting insult. The golden tresses, and Page 100 the ox eyed epithet, the most favourite passages, in my poem, were very unfortu|nate; as the young lady was remarkable, for very prominent eyes, which resem|bled what, in horses, are called wall eyes. Her hair was, what is vulgarly called, car|roty. Its unfashionable colour she en|deavoured, in vain, to conceal, by the dai|ly use of a leaden comb.
The Author in imminent Danger of his Life in a Duel.
THE very next morning, after I had presented my ode, and before I had heard of its reception, a young gentle|man, very genteelly dressed, entered our drug room, where I was compounding a cathartic, with my spatula; and, with a very stately air, inquired for Mr. Updike Underhill. Upon being informed that I was the person, with two of the most pro|found bows, I had ever seen, he advanced Page 102 towards me, and with slow and solemn em|phasis, said, then sir, I have the honour to present you with a billet, from my friend, Mr. Jasper T—. Two more bows, as stately and low as the former. I took the letter, which was as big as a government|al packet; and, in the midst of a large folio sheet, read the following letter, from Mr. Jasper T—, a professed admirer of the young lady, to whom I had ad|dressed my ode, after the manner of the Greeks.
Them there very extraordinary pare of varses, you did yourself the onner to address to a young lada of my partec|ling acquaintance calls loudly for expli|nation. I shall be happy to do myself the onner of wasting a few charges of powder with you on the morro morning precisely at one half hour before sun rose at the lower end of _____ wharff.
Page 103 Dear Sir, I am with grate parsonal es|teem your sincere friend, ardent admirer well wisher and umble servant to com|mand,
Please to be punctual to the hour sec|onds if you incline.
July 24th, 1782.Thursday A. M. ante merry dying.
Though I was engaged to watch that night, with one of my preceptor's custom|ers; yet, as Mr. Jasper T—, seemed so friendly and civil, I could not find it in my heart, to refuse him, and replied that I would, with pleasure, wait upon the gentleman. Sir, resumed the bearer, you are a man of honour, every inch of you, and I am your most obedient, most obsequious, and most humble servant: and then, making two profound bows, in the shop, and one more at the door, he re|tired. He was no sooner departed, than I sat down, to reperuse this elegant and Page 104 very extraordinary billet. I had no par|ticular acquaintance with Mr. Jasper T—, and why he should write to me, at all, puzzled me. The first part of the letter, I doubted not, contained an appro|bation of my ode, and a request to be in|dulged with an explanation of some of its peculiar beauties. I began to recollect illustrations and parodies, from some fa|vourite passages in the Iliad. But, what we were to do, in wasting a few charges of powder, was utterly inexplicable. At one time, indeed, I thought it an invitation to shoot partridges, and bethought myself of scouring a long barrelled gun, which had descended as an heir loom in our family; and had, perhaps, killed Indians, on Long Island, in the hands of my brave ancestor, Captain John Underhill. Then again, I reflected, that the lower end of a wharf, in a populous town, was not the most probable place, to spring a covey of partridges. But what puzzled me most, Page 105 was his punctual attention to hours, and e|ven seconds. My doubts were all clear|ed, by the entrance of a fellow student, to whom I communicated the letter. He was born in Carolina, and understood the whole business. It is a challenge, said he. A challenge! exclaimed I. For what? Why only, repeated he cooly, to fight a duel, with Mr. Jasper T—, with sword and pistol. Pho! replied I, you banter. Do look at the conclusion of the letter. Will you make me believe that any man, in his senses, would conclude, with all these expressions of esteem and friendship, an invitation to give him an opportunity of cutting my throat, or blowing by brains out? You have been bred in yankee land, replied my fellow student. Men of hon|our are above the common rules of pro|priety and common sense. This letter, which is a challenge, bating some little inaccuracies of grammar and spelling, in substance, I assure you, would not dis|grace Page 106 grace a man of the highest honour; and, if Mr. Jasper T—acts as much the man of honour, on the wharf, as he has on paper, he will preserve the same stile of good breeding and politeness there al|so. While, with one hand, he, with a deadly longe, passes his sword through your lungs, he will take his hat off, with the other, and bow gracefully to your corps. Lord deliver me from such po|liteness, exclaimed I. It seems to me, by your account of things, that the principal difference between a man of honour, and a vulgar murderer, is that the latter will kill you in a rage, while the former will write you complaisant letters, and smile in your face, and bow gracefully, while he cuts your throat. Honour, or no hon|our, I am plaguy sorry I accepted his in|vitation. Come, continued my fellow student, you consider this little affair too seriously. I must indoctrinate you. There is no more danger, in these town Page 107 duels, than in pounding our great mor|tar. Why, I fought three duels myself in Carolina, before I was seventeen years old; and one was for an affront offered to the negro wench, who suckled me: and I declare I had rather fight ten more, than pass once, in a stage waggon, over Horse Neck. I see your antagonist has offered you to bring a second. I will go with you. When you arrive on the ground, we seconds shall mark out your position, to stand in, and to be sure, as in case of blood shed, we shall come into difficulty, we shall place you at a pretty respectable distance. You will then turn a copper for the first fire; but I should advise you to grant it to him. This will give him a vast idea of your firmness, and contempt of danger. Your antagonist, with banish|ment from his country, and the gallows staring him in the face, will be sure not to hit you, on his own account. The ball will pass, at least, ten rods over your head. Page 108 You must then discharge your pistol, in the air, and offer him to fire again; as, in the language of the duellist, you will have given him his life, so it will be high|ly inconsistent, in him, to again attempt yours. We seconds shall immediately interfere, and pronounce you both men of honour. The matter in controversy will be passed over. You will shake hands, commence warm friends, and the ladies will adore you. Oh! Updike, you are a lucky fellow. I cannot think, said I, why Mr. Jasper T—, should have such bloody designs against me. I never intended to affront the young lady. Lisp not a word of that, replied my instruct|er, as you value your reputation on 'change. When he has fired over your head, you may confess what you please, with honour; but however inoffensive you may have been, if you make such a confession before, you are a man of no honour. You will be posted, in the coffee Page 109 house, for a coward. Notwithstanding the comfortable address of my friend, the thoughts of a premature death, or being crippled for life, distressed me. Nor was the fear of killing my antagonist, and of what my poor parents would suffer, from my being exposed to infamous punish|ment, less alarming. I passed some hours of dreadful anxiety; when I was relieved from my distress, in a way I little appre|hended. My challenger, who had lived some years in town, as a merchant's clerk, viewing me as a raw lad, from the coun|try, that would never dare accept his challenge, when this messenger returned, was petrified with astonishment. When assured that I had accepted his challenge, as a man of courage and honour, his heart died within him. His friend had no sooner gone to prepare the pistols, than by communicating the business, as a great secret, to two or three female friends, the intended duel was noised about town. Page 110 The justices, selectmen, and grand jurors, convened. Warrants were issued, and constables dispatched into all quarters. I was apprehended, in the sick man's chamber, where I was watching, by the high sheriff, two deputies, three constables, and eleven stout assistants; carried, in the dead of the night, before the magistrates, where I met my antagonist, guarded by a platoon of the militia, with a colonel at their head. We were directed to shake hands, make friends, and pronounce, on our honours, that we would drop an affair, which we had, neither of us, any heart to pursue. My acceptance of the challenge, however unintentional, established my reputation, among the bucks and belles. The former pronounced me a man of spunk and spirit; and the latter were proud of my arm in an evening rural walk on the paved street. None dared to call me pedant; and, I verily believe that, if I had spouted a whole Iliad, in the ball Page 111 room, no one would have ventured to in|terrupt me: for I had proved myself a MAN OF HONOUR.
The Author is happy, in the Acquaintance of a Learned Lady.
IN the circle of my acquaint|ance, there was a young lady, of not the most promising person, and, of rather a vinegar aspect, who was just approxi|mating towards thirty years of age. Though, by avoiding married parties, mingling with very young company, dress|ing airily; shivering in lawn and sarce|net, at meeting, in December; affecting a girlish lisp, blush, and giggle, she was still endeavouring to ward off that invidious appellation of old maid. Upon good grounds, I am led to believe, that the charity of the tea table had added to her Page 113 years; because, from a long acquaintance with her, I could never induce her to re|member any event, however trivial, which happened before Lexington battle. The girls, of my age, respected me, as a man of spirit; but I was more fond of being es|teemed, as a man of learning. This young lady loved literature, and lamented to me her ignorance of the Greek. I gave her a decided preference to her rivals. She borrowed books of me, and read them with astonishing rapidity. From my own little library, and from those of my friends, I procured above sixty vol|umes for her; among which were Locke on Human Understanding, Stackhouse's Body of Divinity, and Glass's works, not on cookery, but the benignant works of John Glass, the father of Sandiman, and the Sandimanians; in which collection I did not however omit Pope's Homer, and Dryden's Virgil: and, to my astonish|ment, though I knew that her afternoons Page 114 were devoted to the structure of caps and bonnets, she perused those sixty volumes completely, and returned them to me, in less than a month. There was one thing peculiarly pleasing to me, as a man of let|ters; that she never made dog leaves, or soiled the books; a slovenly practice, of which even great scholars are some times guilty. I would, at times, endeavour to draw her into a conversation, upon the author she had recently perused. She would blush, look down, and say that it did not become a young girl, like her, to talk upon such subjects, with a gentle|man of my sense. The compliment it contained ever rendered the apology irresistable. One day, she asked me to lend her a dictionary. I immediately pro|cured for her the great Doctor Johnson's, in two volumes folio. About three days afterwards, she offered to return them. Knowing that a dictionary was a work, to which reference was often necessary▪ Page 115 and, thinking it might be of some service to every lady of her learning, I pressed her to keep it longer. When she replied, with the prettiest lisp imaginable, that they were indeed very pretty story books; but, since I had lent them to her, she had read them all through twice; and then inquired, with the same gentle lisp, if I could not lend her a book, called Rolling Belly Lettres. I was in abso|lute astonishment. Virgil's traveller, treading on the snake in the grass, was comparatively in perfect composure. I took a folio under each arm, and skipped out of the house, as lightly as if I had had nothing heavier, than a late antifeder|al election sermon to carry. This learned young lady was amazingly affronted, at my abrupt departure; but, when the cause of it was explained to her, some months after, she endeavoured to per|suade a journeyman tailor, who courted her niece, to challenge me to fight a Page 116 duel, who actually penned a challenge, upon one of his master's pasteboard pat|terns; and, I verily believe, would have sent it, by his second, if he had not been informed, that my character was estab|lished, as a man of honour.
The Author quitteth the Study of Gallamry, for that of Physic: He eulogiseth the Greek Tongue, and complimenteth the Professors of Cambridge, Yale, and Dart|mouth; and giveth a gentle Hint to care|less Readers.
DISGUSTED with the friv|olity of the young, and the deceit of the antiquated, I now applied myself sedu|lously to my studies. Cullen, Munroe, Boerhaave, and Hunter, were my con|stant companions. As I progressed in val|uable science, my admiration of the Greek declined. I now found, that Machaon and Podalirious, the surgeons of Homer, were mere quacks; ignorant of even the applica|tion Page 118 of plaisters, or the eighteen tailed bandage: and, in botany, inferiour to the Indian Powwows; and that the green ointment, of my learned friend, Doctor Kitteridge, would have immortalized a bone setter, in the Grecian era, and trans|lated him, with Esculapius, to a seat a|mong the gods. In justice to that ven|erable language, and to the learned pro|fessors of Cambridge, Yale, and Dart|mouth, I will candidly confess, that my knowledge of it, was now, in the first year of my apprenticeship, of some service to me, in now and then finding the root of the labels cyphered on our gallipots. I shall mention a little incident, which hap|pened about this time, as it contains a lesson, valuable to the reader, if he has penetra|tion enough to discover it, and candour e|nough to apply it to himself. Though I applied myself clossely to my books; yet, as hours of relaxation were recommended, by my preceptor, I sometimes indulged Page 119 in the dance, and in sleighing rides. The latter being proposed, at a time when I was without the means of paying my club, I had retired, with discontent, to my chamber; where I accidentally cast my eyes upon a little old fashioned duodeci|mo bible, with silver clasps, in the corner of my trunk, a present from my mother, at parting; who had recommended the frequent perusal of it, as my guide in difficulty, and consolation in distress. Young people, in perplexity, always think of home. The bible reproached me. To remove the uneasy sensation, and for the want of something more agreeable to do, I took up the neglected book. No sooner had I unclasped it, than a guinea dropt from the leaves, which had been deposit|ed there, by the generous care of my af|fectionate mother; and, by my inexcusa|ble inattention, had lain there undiscover|ed, for more than two years. I hastily snatched the brilliant prize, joined my Page 120 young companions, and resolved that, in gratitude, I would read a chapter in the bible, every remaining day of my life. This resolution I then persevered in, a whole fortnight. As I am on this subject, I will observe, though no zealot, I have since, in the hours of misery and poverty, with which the reader shall be acquainted, in the sequel, drawn treasures of support and consolation, from that blest book, more precious than the gems of Golcon|da, or the gold of Ophir.
The Author panegyrizes his Preceptor.
IN June, one thousand seven hundred and eighty five, I completed my studies. My enlightened, gener|ous preceptor, presented me with a Dispensatory, Cullen's First Lines, and an elegant shaped case of pock|et surgical instruments. As it is possible that some friend of his may peruse this work, suffer me to pay him a little tribute of gratitude. He was an unaffected gentleman, and a man of liberal science. In him were united, Page 122 the acute chymist, the accurate botan|ist, the skilful operator, and profound physician. He possessed all the essence, without the parade of learning. In the most simple language, he would trace the latent disease, to its diagnos|tic; and, from his lips, subjects the most abstruse, were rendered familiar to the unlettered man. Excepting when he was with his pupils, or men of sci|ence, I never heard him use a technical term. He observed once, that the bold truths of Paracelsus delighted him; but, it partook so much of the speech of our country practitioners, that he was disgusted with the pomposity of Theophrastus Bombastus. He was both an instructor and parent to his pupils. An instructor in all the depth of sci|ence he possessed, and a tender parent in directing them, in the paths of vir|tue and usefulness. May he long live, to bless his country with the healing Page 123 art; and, may he be hereafter blest himself, in that world, which will open new sources of intelligence, to his in|quiring mind.
Doctor Underhill visiteth Boston, and mak|eth no Remarks.
HAVING collected some small dues for professional services, rendered cer|tain merchants and lawyers' clerks, I con|cluded to make a short tour, to Boston, for the purpose of purchasing a few med|ical authors and drugs. I carried letters of introduction, from my preceptor, to the late Dr. Joseph Gardner, and other gentlemen of the faculty. The wit and wine of this worthy man still relish on recollection. The remarks I made upon this hospitable, busy, national, town born people; my observations upon their man|ners, habits, local virtues, customs, and Page 125 prejudices; the elocution of their prin|cipal clergymen; with anecdotes of pub|lick characters, I deal not in private foi|bles; and a comparitive view of their manners, at the beginning, and near the close of the eighteenth century, are pro|nounced, by the partiality of some friends, to be original, and to those who know the town, highly interesting. If this home|spun history of private life, shall be ap|proved, these remarks will be published by themselves in a future edition of this work. I quitted Boston, with great re|luctance, having seventeen invitations to dinner, besides tea parties, on my hands.
The Author Inspects the Museum at Har|vard College: Account of the Wonder|ful Curiosities, Natural and Artificial, he saw there.
ON my return, I passed through Cambridge; and, by the peculiar polite|ness and urbanity of the then librarian, I inspected the college museum. Here, to my surprise, I found the curiosities of all countries, but our own. When I inquired for the natural curiosities of New England, with specimens of the rude arts, arms, and antiquities of the original possessors of our soil, I was shewn, for the former, an overgrown gourd shell, Page 127 which held, I do not recollect how many gallons; some of the shavings of the can|non, cast under the inspection of Colonel M—; a stuffed wild duck, and the cu|rious fungus of a turnip: and, for the latter, a miniature birch canoe, contain|ing two or three rag aboriginals with paddles, cut from a shingle. This last article, I confess, would not disgrace the baby house of a child, if he was not a|bove seven years of age. To be more serious, I felt then for the reputation of the first seminary of our land. Suppose a Raynal or Buffon should visit us; re|pair to the museum of the university, eagerly inquiring after the natural produc|tions and original antiquities of our coun|try, what must be the sensations of the respectable rulers of the college, to be obliged to produce, to them, these wretch|ed, bauble specimens.
The Author mounteth his Nag, and setteth out, full Speed, to seek Practice, Fame, and Fortune, as a Country Practitioner.
IN the autumn of one thousand seven hundred and eighty five, I returned to my parents, who received me with rapture. My father had reared, for me, a likely pie bald mare. Our saddler e|quipped me with horse furniture, not for|getting the little saddle bags, which I rich|ly replenished with drugs, purchased at Boston. With a few books, and my sur|geon's instruments, in my portmanteau, and a few dollars in my pocket, I sat out, Page 129 with a light heart, to seek practice, fame, and fortune, as a country practitioner.
My primary object was to obtain a place of settlement. This I imagined an easy task, from my own acquirements, and the celebrity of my preceptor. My first stop was at a new township, though tolerably well stocked with a hardy labo|rious set of inhabitants. Five physi|cians of eminence had, within a few years, attempted a settlement in this place. The first fell a sacrifice to strong liquor; the second put his trust in horses, and was ruined, by the loss of a valuable sire; the third quarrelled with the midwife, and was obliged to remove; the fourth hav|ing prescribed, rather unluckily, for a young woman of his acquaintance, griev|ously afflicted with a tympany, went to the Ohio; and the last, being a prudent man, who sold his books and instruments for wild land, and raised his own crop of medicine, was actually in the way of Page 130 making a great fortune; as, in only ten years practice, he left, at his decease, an estate, both real and personal, which was appraised at one hundred pounds, law|ful money. This account was not likely to engage the attention of a young man, upon whose education twice the sum had been expended.
In the next town, I was assured I might do well, as a physician, if I would keep a grog shop, or let myself, as a labourer, in the hay season, and keep a school in the winter. The first part of the proposi|tion, I heard with patience; but, at the bare mention of a school, I fled the town abruptly. In the neighbouring town, they did not want a physician, as an ex|perienced itinerant doctor visited the place, every March, when the people had most leisure to be sick and take physic. He practised with great success, especially in slow consumptions, charged very low, and took his pay in any thing and every Page 131 thing. Besides, he carried a mould with him, to run pewter spoons, and was e|qually good at mending a kettle and a constitution.
The Author encountereth Folly, Ignorance, Impudence, Imbecility, and Quacks: The Characters of a Learned, a Cheap, a Safe, and a Musical Doctor.
AT length, I fixed my resi|dence in a town, where four physicians were already in full practice, of such con|trariety in theory, that I never knew any two of them agree in any practice, but in abusing me, and decrying my skill. It was however four months before I had Page 133 any practice, except the extracting of a tooth, from a corn fed girl, who spun at my lodgings, who used to look wistfully at me, and ask, if the doctorer did not think the tooth ache a sign of love? and say she felt dreadfully all over; and the application of a young virgin, in the neigh|bourhood, who wished to be favoured with a private lecture upon the virtues of the savin bush. I verily believe I might have remained there to this day unemployed, if my landlord, a tavern keeper, finding my payment for board rather tardy, had not, by sometimes send|ing his boy, in a violent haste, to call me out of meeting, and always vowing I was cute at the trade, at length drawn the at|tention of the people towards me.
I had now some opportunity of in|creasing my information, by inspecting the practice of my seniors. The principal physician had been regularly educated. As I had been likewise, he affected to pay Page 134 me some attention, on purpose to mortify those three quacks, who, he said, had picked up their knowledge, as they did their medicine, by the way side. He was a very formal man, in manners and prac|tice. He viewed fresh air highly noxious, in all diseases. I once visited a patient of his, in dog days, whose parched tongue and acrid skin denoted a violent fever. I was almost suffocated, upon entering the room. The windows were closed, and the cracks stuffed with tow; the curtains were drawn close round the patient's bed, which was covered with a rug, and three comfortable blankets; a large fire was made in the room; the door lifted, and the key hole stopped; while the Doc|tor gravely administered irritating stim|ulants to allay the fever. He car|ried a favourite practical author, in his bags, and after finding the patient's case, in the index, pulled out a pair of money scales, and, with the utmost nicety, Page 135 weighed off the prescribed dose, to the decimal of a drachm. He told me, as a great secret, that about thirteen years and one day past, he had nearly destroyed a patient, by administering half a drachm of pill cochia more than was prescribed in the books. He was called the learned doctor.
The practice of the second town phy|sician was directly opposite. He pre|scribed large doses of the most powerful drugs. If he had been inclined to weigh his medicine, I believe it would have been with gross weight, rather than troy. He was an untaught disciple of the Eng|lish Ratcliffe, careless, daring, and often successful. He was admirable in ner|vous cases, rose cancers, and white swell|ings. Upon the first symptoms of these stubborn disorders, he would drive them, and the subjects of them, to a state of qui|escence. He was called the cheap doctor; because he always speedily cured or—killed.
Page 136 The third physician dealt altogether in simples. The only compound he ever gave, or took, was buttered flip, for a cough. It was said, that, if he did no good, he never did any harm. He was called the safe doctor.
The fourth physician was not celebrat|ed for being learned, safe, or cheap; but he had more practice than all the other three together, for he was a musical* man, and well gifted in prayer.
Sketch of an Hereditary Doctor, and a Lit|erary Quack: Critical Operation in Sur|gery.
THERE was another gentle|man in town, who had some pretensions to the character of a physician: even the same pretensions with the crowned heads of Europe, to their wisdom, power, and greatness. He derived it from his birth; for he was the seventh son of a seventh son, and his mother was a doctress. He did not indeed bear the name or rank, but I remember him with the learned; as he was sometimes called to visit a pa|tient, at that critical, interesting period, Page 138 when the other physicians had given him over; but his ordinary practice lay whol|ly among sheep, horses, and cattle. He also could boast of astonishing success, and was as proud and opinionated as the best of them; and, for aught I know, it was as instructive to hear him talk of his ring|bones, wind galls, and spavins, as to hear our first physician descant upon his paroxysms and peripneumony.
Being sent for, one day, to attend a man whose leg was said to be broken, by a fall from a frame at a raising, I found, upon my arrival at the patient's, that a brother of the faculty, from the vicinity, had ar|rived before me, and completed the ope|ration. He was celebrated for his skill in desperate cases; and universally allowed to be a man of learning. He had prescribed a gill of burnt brandy, with a pepper pod in it, to keep up the patient's spirits, un|der the operation, and took another him|self, to keep his hand steady. He splin|tered Page 139 the fractured limb, with the bone of two pair of old fashioned stays, he had caused to be ript to pieces and bound round the leg, with all the garters in the neighbourhood. He bowed gracefully, as I entered, and regretted extremely that he had not my assistance in setting the bones; and with a loud voice, and the most un|paralleled assurance, began to lay the case before me, and amplify the operation he had performed. Sir, said he, when I came to view the patient, I had little hopes of saving his life. I found the two lesser bones of the leg, the musa and the tristis shivered into a thousand splinters. While the larger bone, the ambobus, had happi|ly escaped unhurt. Perceiving I could scarce refrain from laughing, and was a|bout to speak; sir, said he, winking upon me, I perceive you are one of us men of science, and I wish you to suspend your opinion, until a private consultation; left our conversation may alarm the patient Page 140 too much, for you know, as the learned Galen observes,
I am much obliged to you, said he, for not discovering my ignorance, to these people; though, it is ten to one, if I had not rather convinced the blockheads of Page 141 yours, if you had attempted it. A regu|lar bred physician, sometime since, at|tempted this. He declared over the sick man's bed, that I was ignorant, and pre|suming. I replied that he was a quack; and offered to leave our pretensions to knowl|edge, to the company, which consisted of a midwife, two experienced nurses, and some others, not so eminent for learning. He quoted Cullen and Chesselden; and I Tully and Virgil. Until at length, when I had nearly exhausted my stock of cant phrases, and he was gaining the atten|tion of our judges, I luckily bethought me of Lilly's Grammar. I began Propria quae maribus; and before I had got twenty lines, the opinion of the audience was ap|parently in my favour. They judged naturally enough, that I was the most learned man, because the most unintelligi|ble. This raised the doctor's ire so much that from disputing me, he began to be|rate them for a parcel of fools, sots, and Page 142 old women, to put their lives in the hands of such an ignoramus as me. This quick|ly decided the contest in my favour. The old nurses raised their voices, the mid|wife her broom stick, and the whole train of mob caped judges, their skinny fists, and we drove him out of the house in triumph. Our victory was so com|plete, that, in the military stile, we did not allow him to remain on the field to bury his dead.
But it is time to tell you who I am. Sir, I drink your health. In brief, sir, I am the son of a respectable clergyman, received a college education, entered into merchandize, failed, and, by a train of misfortunes, was obliged to commence doctor, for sustenance. I settled myself in this back country. At first I was ap|plied to chiefly, in desperate cases; where no reputation is lost, if the patient dies, and much gained, if he recovers. I have performed some surprising cures; but Page 143 how I cannot tell you, except it was by allowing my patients small beer, or any thing else they hankered after, which I have heard was sometimes efficacious, in the crisis of a fever. But talking of drink, sir, I wish your health. I believe I have never injured any persons, by my pre|scriptions. A powdered, burnt crust, chalk, and juice of beets and carrots are my most powerful medicines. We can be of mutual service to each other; nurse, another mug. We doctors find this a very difficult case. As I have borne down these country quacks, by superiour effrontery, I can recommend you to full practice. I will call you to consult with me, in difficult cases; for, as I was saying, sir, I wish your good health, mine are all difficult cases; and you, in return, shall lend me books, and give me such instruc|tions as will enable me to do good, as well as get fame and bread. The proposal was reasonable. I closed with it. He Page 144 emptied the third mug, and we returned to our patient. When the dressings were removed, I discovered that there was not the slightest fracture of the fibula or tibia; but only a slight contusion on the patula, which would perhaps not have alarm|ed any other person, but our patient, who was a rich old bachelor. I recom|mended an emollient, which my learned brother acquiesced in, saying, with his u|sual air, that it was the very application he intended, having applied the garters and whalebone, merely to concoct the tristis, the musa and the ambobus firmly together.
A young girl, at the door, shewed him a wound on her elbow, which she had re|ceived in struggling about red ears at a husking; which he gravely pronounced to be a testula in ano. This gentleman is really a man of abilities; has since made valuable acquirements in the knowl|edge of the human machine, and the ma|teria Page 145 medica. If he could be led to sub|stitute the aquatic draughts of Doctor Sangrado, as a succedaneum for the dif|fusible stimuli of Brown, he would be|come useful in the faculty, and yet see happy days.
The doctor kept his word. He read my books, received my instructions, and recommended me to his patients. But, as I copied my preceptor, in the simplici|ty of my language I never attempted to excite the fear of my patients, to magnify my skill; and could not reduce three frac|tured bones in a limb, which contained but two. My advice was little attended to, except when backed with that of my pu|pil, accompanied with frequent quotations from Lilly. He obtained all the credit of our success; and the people generally supposed me a young man of moderate talents, whom the learned doctor might make something of, in a course of years.
A Medical Consultation.
A MERRY incident gave a perfect insight into the practice of the sev|eral physicians I have just eulogized. A drunken jockey, having fallen from his horse, at a public review, was taken up senseless, and extended upon the long ta|ble of the tavern. He soon recovered his breath, and groaned most piteously. As his head struck the ground first, it was apprehended by some, unacquainted with its solidity, that he had fractured his skull. The faculty hastened, from all quarters, to his assistance. The learned, scrupu|lous physician, after requesting that the doors and windows might be shut, ap|proached Page 147 the patient; and, with a stately air, declined giving his opinion, as he had unfortunately left at home his Pringle on contusions.
The cheap doctor immediately pro|nounced the wound a compound fracture, prescribed half a dose of crude opium, and called for the trepanning instruments.
The safe doctor proposed brown pa|per, dipped in rum and cobwebs, to staunch the blood. The popular physi|cian, the musical doctor, told us a jovial story; and then suddenly relaxing his fea|tures, observed, that he viewed the groan|ing wretch as a monument of justice: that he, who spent his days in tormenting horses, should now, by the agency of the same animal, be brought to death's door, an event, which he thought ought to be set home upon our minds by prayer.
While my new pupil, pressing through the crowd, begged that he might state the case to the company; and, with an audi|ble Page 148 voice, winking upon me, began. The learned doctor Nominativo Hoc Caput, in his treatise on brains, observes that, the seat of the soul may be known, from the affections of the man. The residence of a wife man's soul is in his ears; a glut|ton's, in his palate; a gallant's, in his lips; and old maid's, in her tongue; a dancer's, in his toes; a drunkard's, in his throat. By the way, landlord, give us a button of sling. When we learned wish to know if a wound endangers life, we consequently inquire into the affec|tions of the patient, and see if the wound injures the seat of his soul. If that es|capes, however deep and ghastly the wound, we pronounce life in no danger. A horse jockey's soul—gentlemen, I wish your healths, is in his heel, under the left spur. When I was pursuing my studies, in the hospitals in England, I once saw seventeen horse jockies, some of whom were noblemen, killed by the fall of a Page 149 scaffold in Newmarket, and all wounded in the heel. Twenty others, with their arms, backs, and necks broken, survived. I saw one noble jockey, with his nominati|vo caret, which is Greek for a nobleman's head, split entirely open. His brains ran down his face, like the white of a broken egg; but, as his heel was unhurt, he survived; and his judgment in horses is said not to be the least impaired. Come, pull off the patient's boot, while I drink his better health. Charmed with the har|rangue, some of the spectators were about following his directions, when the other doctors interfered. They had heard him, with disdainful impatience, and now each raised his voice, to support his particular opinion, backed by his adherents. Bring the brown paper—compound fracture—cobwebs I say—hand the trepanning in|struments—give us some tod, and pull off the boot, echoed from all quarters. The landlord for bad quarrelling in his house. Page 150 The whole company rushed out, to form a ring on the green, for the medical pro|fessors; and they to a consultation of fif|ty cuffs. The practitioner in sheep, horses, and cattle, poured a dose of urine and mo|lasses down the patient's throat; who soon so happily recovered as to pursue his vo|cation, swop horses three times, play twenty rubbers of all fours, and get dead drunk again before sunset.
Disappointed in the North, the Author seek|eth Treasure in the South.
AS my practice increased, my drugs decreased. At the expiration of eighteen months, I found my phials, galli|pots, and purse, empty; and my day book full of items. To present a doctor's bill, under seven years, or until my patients died, in which I was not nigh so fortu|nate as my brother functioners, was com|plete ruin to my future practice. To draw upon my father, who had already done for me beyond his ability, was still worse. I had often heard the southern states spoken of, as the high road to fortune. I Page 152 was told that the inhabitants were im|mensely opulent, paid high fees with pro|fusion, and were extremely partial to the characteristic industry of their New Eng|land brethren. By the advice of our at|torney, I lodged my accompt books in his office, with a general power to collect. He advanced me a sum sufficient to pay my traveling expenses; and, with my books and surgeon's instruments, I sat out, in the stage, for the southward; con|demning the illiberality and ignorance of our own people, which prevented the due encouragement of genius, and made them the prey of quacks; intending, af|ter a few years of successful practice, to return in my own carriage, and close a life of reputation and independence, in my native state.
Anecdotes of Doctor Benjamin Franklin, whom the Author visits in Philadelphia.
I CARRIED a request to the late Doctor Benjamin Franklin, then president of the state of Pennsylvania, for certain papers, I was to deliver further southward. I anticipated much pleasure, from the interview with this truly great man: To see one, who, from small beginnings, by the sole exertion of native genius, and indefatigable industry, had raised himself to the pinnacle of politics and letters. a man, who, from an hum|ble porter's boy, had elevated himself to be the desirable companion of the great Page 154 ones of the earth: who, from trundling a wheelbarrow in bye lanes, had been advanced to pass in splendour, through the courts of kings; and, from hawking vile ballads, to the contracting and sign|ing treaties, which gave peace and inde|pendence to three millions of his fellow citizens, was a sight interesting in the ex|treme.
I found the doctor surrounded by com|pany, most of whom were young people. He received me with the attention due to a young stranger. He dispatched a person for the papers I wanted; asked me politely to be seated; inquired after the family I sprang from; and told me a pleasing anecdote of my brave ancestor, Captain Underhill. I found, in the doc|tor, all that simplicity of language, which is remarkable in the fragment of his life, published since his decease; and which was conspicuous in my medical precep|tor. I have since been in a room a few Page 155 hours with Governour Jay, of New York; have heard of the late Governour Livingston, of New Jersey; and am now confirmed in the opinion, I have suggest|ed, that men of genuine merit, as they possess the essence, need not the pa|rade of great knowledge. A rich man is often plain in his attire, and the man, who has abundant treasures of learning, simple in his manners and stile.
The doctor, in early life, was economi|cal from principle; in his latter days, perhaps from habit. Poor Richard held the purse strings of the president of Penn|sylvania. Permit me to illustrate this observation, by an anecdote. Soon after I was introduced, an airy, thoughtless re|lation, from a New England state, enter|ed the room. It seems he was on a party of pleasure, and had been so much involved in it, for three weeks, as not to have paid his respects to his ven|erable relative. The purpose of his Page 156 present visit was, to solicit the loan of a small sum of money, to enable him to pay his bills, and transport himself home. He preluded his request, with a detail of embarrassments, which might have befal|len the most circumspect. He said that he had loaded a vessel for B—, and as he did not deal on credit, had purchased be|yond his current cash, and could not read|ily procure a draft upon home. The doctor, inquiring how much he wanted, he replied, with some hesitation, fifty dollars. The benevolent old gentleman went to his escritoir, and counted him out an hundred. He received them with many promises of punctual payment, and hastily took up the writing implements, to draught a note of hand, for the cash. The doctor, who saw into the nature of the borrower's embarrassments, better than he was aware; and was posses|sed with the improbability of ever recov|ering his cash again, stepped across the Page 157 room, laying his hand gently upon his cousin's arm, said, stop cousin, we will save the paper; a quarter of a sheet is not of great value, but it is worth sav|ing: conveying, at once, a liberal gift and gentle reprimand for the borrower's prevarication and extravagance. Since I am talking of Franklin, the reader may be as unwilling to leave him as I was. Allow me to relate another anecdote. I do not recollect how the conversation was introduced; but a young person in company, mentioned his surprize, that the possession of great riches should ever be attended with such anxiety and solic|itude; and instanced Mr. R—M—, who, he said, though in possession of unbound|ed wealth, yet was as busy and more anxious, than the most assiduous clerk in his counting house. The doctor took an apple from a fruit basket, and presented it to a little child, who could just totter a|bout the room. The child could scarce Page 158 grasp it in his hand. He then gave it another, which occupied the other hand. Then choosing a third, remarkable for its size and beauty, he presented that also. The child, after many ineffectual attempts to hold the three, dropped the last on the carpet, and burst into tears. See there, said the philosopher; there is a little man, with more riches than he can en|joy.
Religious Exercises in a Southern State.
IN one of the states, southward of Philadelphia, I was invited, on a sun|day, to go to church. I will not say which, as I am loth to offend; and our fashionable fellow citizens of the south arm of the union may not think divine service any credit to them. My friend apologized for inviting me to so hum Page 160 drum an amusement, by assuring me, that immediately after service, there was to be a famous match run for a purse of a thou|sand dollars, besides private bets, between 'Squire L's imported horse, Slammerkin, and Colonel F's bay mare, Jenny Driver. When we arrived at the church, we found a brilliant collection of well dressed peo|ple, anxiously waiting the arrival of the parson, who, it seems, had a small branch of the river M—to pass; and, we af|terwards learned, was detained by the absence of his negro boy, who was to fer|ry him over. Soon after, our impatience was relieved, by the arrival of the parson, in his canonicals: a young man, not of the most mortified countenance, who, with a switch, called supple jack, in his hand, belaboured the back and head of the faulty slave, all the way from the wa|ter to the church door; accompanying every stroke, with suitable language. He entered the church, and we followed. Page 161 He ascended the reading desk, and, with his face glowing with the exercise of his supple jack, began the service with, I said I will take heed unto my ways, that I sin not with my tongue. I will keep my tongue as it were with a bridle, when I am before the wicked. When I mused the fire burned within me, and I spake with my tongue, &c. &c. He preached an ani|mated discourse, of eleven minutes, upon the practical duties of religion, from these words, remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy; and read the fourth commandment, in the communion. The whole congre|gation prayed fervently, that their hearts might be inclined to keep this holy law. The blessing was pronounced; and parson and people hastened to the horse race. I found the parson as much respected on the turf, as upon the hassoc. He was one of the judges of the race; descanted, in the language of the turf, upon the points of the two rival horses, and the Page 162 sleeve of his cassoc was heavy laden, with the principal bets. The confidence of his parishioners was not ill founded; for they assured me, upon oath and honour, that he was a gentleman, of as much up|rightness as his grace the archbishop of Canterbury. Ay, they would sport him for a sermon or a song, against any parson in the union.
The whole of this extraordinary scene was novel to me. Besides, a certain sta|ple of New England I had with me, call|ed conscience, made my situation, in e|ven the passive part I bore in it, so awkward and uneasy, that I could not re|frain from observing to my friend my surprise at the parson's conduct, in chastis|ing his servant immediately before divine service. My friend was so happily influ|enced by the habits of these liberal, en|lightened people, that he could not even comprehend the tendency of my remark. He supposed it levelled at the improprie|ty, Page 163 not of the minister, but the man; not at the act, but the severity of the chastise|ment; and observed, with warmth, that the parson served the villain right, and, that if he had been his slave, he would have killed the black rascal, if he was sure he should have to pay an hundred guin|eas to the public treasury for him. I will note here, that the reader is request|ed, whenever he meets with quotations of speeches, in the above scenes, excepting those during divine service, that he will please, that is, if his habits of life will per|mit, to interlard those quotations with a|bout as many oaths, as they contain mon|osylables. He may rest assured, that it will render the scene abundantly more natural. It is true, I might have insert|ed them myself, and supported thus do|ing, by illustrations and parodies from grave authors; but I never swear pro|fanely myself, and I think it almost as bad to oblige my readers to purchase the im|precations Page 164 of others. I give this hint of the introduction of oaths, for the benefit of my readers to the southward of Phila|delphia; who, however they may enjoy a scene, which reflects such honour upon their country, when seasoned with these palatable expletives, without them perhaps would esteem it as tasteless and vapid, as a game at cards or billiards, without bets; or boiled veal or turkey, without ham.
Success of the Doctor's southern Expedition: He is in Distress: Contemplates a School: Prefers a Surgeon's Birth, on board a Ship, bound to Africa, Via London.
I FOUND the southern states not more engaging, to a young practi|tioner, than the northern. In the sea ports of both, the business was engrossed by men of established practice and emi|nence. In the interiour country, the peo|ple could not distinguish, or encourage merit. The gains were small, and tardi|ly collected; and, in both wings of the union, and I believe every where else, Page 166 fortune and fame are generally to be ac|quired in the learned professions, solely, by a patient, undeviating application to local business.
If dissipation could have afforded pleas|ure, to a mind yearning after profession|al fame and independence, I might, so long as my money lasted, have been hap|py, at the southward. I was often invit|ed to the turf; and, might have had the honour of being intoxicated frequently, with the most respectable characters. An association with the well educated of the other sex was not so readily attained. There was a haughty reserve, in the manners of the young ladies. Every attempt at familiarity, in a young stran|ger, habituated to the social, but respect|ful intercourse, customary in the northern states, excited alarm. With my New Eng|land ideas, I could not help viewing, in the anxious efforts of their parents and relatives, to repel every approach to innocent and e|ven Page 167 chastened intercourse, a strong suspi|cion of that virtue, they were solicitous to protect.
Depressed by the gloomy view of my prospects; and determined never to face my parents again, under circumstances, which would be burthensome to them, I attempted to obtain practice in the town of F—, in Virginia, but in vain. The very decorum, prudence, and economy, which would have enhanced my charac|ter at home, were here construed into poverty of spirit. To obtain medical practice, it was expedient, to sport, bet, drink, swear, &c. with my patients. My purse forbad the former; my habits of life the latter. My cash wasted, and I was near suffering. I was obliged to dis|pose of my books, for present subsistance; and, in that country, books were not the prime articles of commerce. To avoid starving, I again contemplated keeping a school. In that country, knowledge was Page 168 viewed as a handicraft trade. The school masters, before the war, had been usually collected from unfortunate European youth, of some school learning, sold for their passage into America. So that to purchase a school master and a negro was almost synonimous. Mr. J—n, and some other citizens of the world, who had been cast among them, had by their writ|ings, influence, and example, brought the knowledge of letters into some repute, since the revolution; but, I believe, those excellent men have yet to lament the general inefficacy of their liberal efforts. This statement, and my own prior expe|rience in school keeping, would have de|termined me rather to have prefered la|bouring, with the slaves on their planta|tions, than sustaining the slavery and con|tempt of a school.
When reduced to my last dollar; and beginning to suffer, from the embarrass|ments of debt, I was invited, by a sea Page 169 captain, who knew my friends, to accept the birth of surgeon, in his ship. Every new pursuit has its flattering prospects. I was encouraged by handsome wages, and a privilege in the ship, to carry an ad|venture; for the purchase of which, the owners were to advance me, on account of my pay. I was to be companion to the captain, and have a fine chance of seeing the world. To quit my home, for all parts of the union I considered as home; to tempt the perilous ocean, and encoun|ter the severities of a sea faring life, the diseases of torrid climes, and perhaps a total separation from my friends and pa|rents, was melancholy; but the desire to see the world, to acquire practical knowl|edge, in my profession, to obtain proper|ty, added to the necessity of immediate subsistance, and the horrours of a jail, de|termined me to accept his offer. I ac|cordingly entered surgeon, on board the ship Freedom, Captain Sidney Russell Page 170 commander, freighted with tobacco, bound to London, and thence to the coast of Africa. I had little to do in my pas|sage to London. My destination, as a surgeon, being principally in the voyage from that city to the African coast, and thence to the West Indies; and, if I had not suffered from a previous nau|sea or sea sickness, the novelty of the scene would have rendered me tolerably happy. In the perturbation of my thoughts, I had omitted writing to my parents of the places of my destination. This careless omission afterwards, caused them and me much trouble. We ar|rived safely in the Downs.
THE ship being sold, and an|other purchased, while the latter was fit|ting out, at Plymouth, for her voyage to Africa. I was ordered, by the captain, to London, to procure our medicine chest, and case of surgical instruments. Here a field of boundless remark opened itself to me.
Men of unbounded affluence, in plain attire, living within the rules of the most rigid economy; crowds of no substance, strutting in embroidery and lace; peo|ple, Page 172 whose little smoky fire, of coals was rendered cheerless by excise, and their daily draught of beer embittered by tax|es; who administer to the luxury of pen|sioners and place men, in every comfort, convenience, or even necessary of life they partake; who are entangled by innu|merable penal laws, to the breach of which, banishment and the gallows are almost universally annexed; a motley race, in whose mongrel veins runs the blood of all nations, speaking with point|ed contempt of the fat burgo master of Amsterdam, the cheerful French peasant, the hardy tiller of the Swiss cantons, and the independent farmer of America; rot|ting in dungeons, languishing wretched lives in soetid jails, and boasting of the GLORIOUS FREEDOM OF ENGLISHMEN: hereditary senators, ignorant and inat|tentive to the welfare of their country, and unacquainted with the geography of its foreign possessions; and politicians, Page 173 in coffee houses, without one foot of soil, or one guinea in their pockets, vaunting, with national pride, of our victories, our colonies, our minister, our magna charta, and our constitution! I could not re|frain from adopting the language of Doc|tor Young, and exclaiming in parody,
The Author passeth by the Lions in the Tower, and the other Insignia of British Royalty, and seeth a greater Curiosity, called Thomas Paine, Author of the Rights of Man: Description of his Per|son, Habit, and Manners: In this Chap|ter due meed is rendered to a great A|merican Historical Painter, and a prose Palinode over our lack of the Fine Arts.
OMITTING the lions in the tower, the regalia in the jewel office, and Page 175 the other insignia of British royalty, of which Englishmen are so justly proud, I shall content myself, with mentioning the most singular curiosity, I saw in Lon|don. It was the celebrated Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense, the Rights of Man, and other writings, whose tendency is to overturn ancient opinions of government and religion.
I met this interesting personage, at the lodgings of the son of a late patriotic A|merican governour; whose genius, in the fine art of historical painting, whose for|tie at Gibralter, whose flowing drapery, faithful and bold expression, in the por|traits of our beloved president, and other leaders, both military and political, in our glorious revolution; when the love of the fine arts shall be disseminated in our land, will leave posterity to regret and admire the imbecility of contemporary patronage.
Thomas Paine resembled the great a|postle to the Gentiles, not more in his Page 176 zeal and subtlety of argument, than in personal appearance; for, like that fervid apostle, his bodily presence was both mean and contemptible. When I saw him, he was dressed in a snuff coloured coat, olive velvet vest, drab breeches, coarse hose. His shoe buckles of the size of half a dollar. A bob tailed wig cov|ered that head, which worked such mic|kle woe to courts and kings. If I should attempt to describe it, it would be in the same stile and principle, with which the veteran soldier bepraiseth an old standard: the more tattered, the more glorious. It is probable that this was the same identical wig, under the shadow of whose curls, he wrote Common Sense in America, many years before. He was a spare man, rather under size; subject to the extreme of low, and highly exhilirat|ed spirits; often sat reserved in compa|ny; seldom mingled in common chit chat. But when a man of sense and elo|cution Page 177 was present, and the company nu|merous, he delighted in advancing the most unaccountable, and often the most whimsical, paradoxes; which he defend|ed in his own plausible manner. If en|couraged by success, or the applause of the company, his countenance was ani|mated, with an expression of feature, which, on ordinary occasions, one would look for in vain, in a man so much cele|brated for acuteness of thought; but if interrupted by extraneous observation, by the inattention of his auditory, or in an irritable moment, even by the accident|al fall of the poker, he would retire into himself, and no persuasions could induce him to proceed upon the most favourite topic.
Curious Argument, between Thomas Paine and the noted Peter Pindar: Peter set|teth a Wit Noose, and catcheth Thomas, in one of his own Logic Traps.
I HEARD Thomas Paine once assert, in the presence of Mr. Wolcott, better known, in this country, by the face|tious name of Peter Pindar, that the mi|nority, in all deliberative bodies, ought, in all cases, to govern the majority. Pe|ter smiled. You must grant me, said Un|common Sense, that the proportion of Page 179 men of sense, to the ignorant among man|kind, is at least as twenty, thirty, or even forty nine, to an hundred. The majority of mankind are consequently most prone to errour; and, if we would atchieve right, the minority ought, in all cases, to govern. Peter continued to smile archly. If we look to experience, continued Paine, for there are no conclusions I more prize than those drawn, not from speculation, but plain matter of fact, we shall find an examination into the debates of all delib|erative bodies, in our favour. To pro|ceed no farther than your country, Mr. Wolcott, I love to look at home. Sup|pose the resolutions of the houses of lords and commons had been determined by this salutary rule; why, the sensible mi|nority would have governed. George Washington would have been a private citizen; and the United States of Ameri|ca mere colonies, dependent on the Brit|tish crown. As a patriotic Englishman, Page 180 will you not confess, that this would have been better than to have these United States independent, with the illustrious Washington at their head, by their wis|dom confounding the juggling efforts of your ministry to embroil them; and to have the comfortable prospect before you, that from the extent of their territory, their maritime resource, their natural en|crease, the asylum they offer to emigrants, in the course of two centuries, Scotland and Ireland, if the United States have not too much real pride to attempt it, may be reduced to the same dependence upon them, as your West India islands now have upon you: and even England, haughty England, thrown in as a make weight, in the future treaty between them and the French nation. Peter, who had listened with great seeming attention, now mildly replied. I will not say but that your arguments are cogent, though not entirely convincing. As it is a subject Page 181 rather out of my line, I will, for form sake, hold the negative of your proposi|tion, and leave it to the good company, which is right. Agreed, said Paine, who saw himself surrounded by his admirers. Well, gentlemen, said Peter, with all the gravity of a speaker of the house of com|mons; you, that are of the opinion that the minority, in all deliberative bodies, ought, in all cases, to govern the majority, please to rise in the affirmative. Paine im|mediately stood up himself, and, as he had foreseen, we all rose in his favour. Then I rise in the negative, cried Peter. I am the wise minority, who ought, in all cases, to govern your ignorant majority; and, consequently, upon your own princi|ples, I carry the vote. Let it be re|corded.
This unexpected manoeuvre raised a hearty laugh. Paine retired from the presence of triumphant wit, mortified with being foiled at his own weapons.
AUTHOR'S Manuscript Poems.
Reasonable Conjectures upon the Motives, which induced Thomas Paine to write that little Book, called the Age of Rea|son.
IN the frequent interviews I had with this celebrated republican apos|tle, I never heard him express the least doubt of, or cast the smallest reflection upon revealed religion. He spake of the glowing expressions of the Jewish prophets with fervour; and had quoted liberally from the scriptures, in his Com|mon Page 183 Sense. How he came to write that unreasonable little pamphlet, called the Age of Reason, I am at a loss to conjec|ture. The probable opinion attributes it to his passion for paradox; that this small morsel of infidelity was offered as a sacri|fice to save his life from the devouring cruelty of Roberspierre, that Moloch of the French nation. It probably had its desired effect; for annihilating reveal|ed religion could not but afford a diabol|ical pleasure, to that ferocious wretch and his inhuman associates, who could not ex|pect a sanction for their cruelties, while the least vestige of any thing sacred remained among men.
When the reign of the terrorists ceas|ed, an apology was expected; and, even by the pious, yet catholic American, would have been received. To the of|fended religion of his country no propi|tiatory sacrifice was made. This mission|ary of vice has proceeded proselyting. Page 184 He has added second parts, and made other, and audacious adjuncts to deism. No might nor greatness escapes him. He has vilified a great prophet, the sa|viour of the Gentiles; he has railed at Washington, a saviour of his country. A tasteful, though irreligious scholar might tolerate a chastised scepticism, if exhibit|ed by an acute Hume, or an eloquent Boling broke. But one cannot repress the irritability of the fiery Hotspur, when one beholds the pillars of morality shaken by the rude shock of this modern vandal. The reader should learn, that his paltry system is only an *outrage of wine; and that it is in the ale house, he most vigor|ously assaults the authority of the proph|ets, Page 185 and laughs most loudly at the gospel, when in his cups.
I have perserved an epigram of Peter Pin|dar's, written, originally, in a blank leaf of a copy of Paine's Age of Reason, and not inserted in any of his works.
The Author sails for the Coast of Africa: Manner of purchasing Negro Slaves.
ON the eighteenth of July, one thousand seven hundred and eighty eight, I received orders, from my captain, to join the ship in the Downs. I accord|ingly took passage in a post chaise; and, after a rapid journey of seventy four miles, arrived, the same afternoon at Deal; and the next morning entered as surgeon, on board the ship Sympathy, of three hundred tons, and thirty eight men, Page 187 Captain Sydney Russell commander; bound to the coast of Africa, thence to Barbadoes, and to South Carolina with a cargo of slaves.
We were favoured with a clear sky and pleasant gales; and, after a short and a|greeable voyage, we touched at Porto San|to, one of the Madeira isles; where we watered and supplied ourselves with fresh provisions in abundance, to which the captain added, at my request, a quan|tity of Madeira, malmsey, and tent wines, for the sick. We had a fine run, from the Madeiras to the Canary isles. The morning after we sailed, I was highly gratified with a full view of the island and peak of Teneriff; which made its ap|pearance the day before, rising above the ocean, at one hundred miles distance. We anchored off Fuertuventura one of the Canaries, in a good bottom. I went on shore, with the mate, to procure green vegetables; as I ever esteemed them the Page 188 specific for that dreadful sea disorder, the scurvy. Before we had reached the Ma|deiras, though I had stored our medicine chest with the best antiscorbutics, and we had a plenty of dried vegetables on board, yet the scurvy had began to infect us. A plentiful distribution of green veg|etables, after our arrival at Porto Santo, soon expelled it from the crew. At Fu|ertuventura, I was delighted with the wild notes of the Canary bird, far surpassing the most excellent of those I had seen in cages, in the United States.
I was anxious to visit the Cape de Verd islands; but, our course being too far east, we ran down to the little island of Coree, to which the contentious of the English and French crowns have annexed its only importance. The French officers received us with politeness, and were ex|tremely anxious for news, from their pa|rent country. Soon after, we dropt an|chor off Loango city, upon a small Page 189 well peopled island, near the coast of Congo or lower Guinea, in possession of the Portuguese. Our captain carried his papers on shore, and, the next day, weigh|ed anchor and stood in for the continent. All hands were now employed to unlade the ship, and the cargo was deposited in a Portuguese factory, at a place called Cacongo, near the mouth of the river Zaire. The day after our arrival at Ca|congo, several Portuguese and Negro mer|chants, hardly distinguishable however, by their manners, employments, or com|plexions, came to confer with the captain, about the purchase of our cargo of slaves. They contracted to deliver him two hun|dred and fifty head of slaves, in fifteen days' time. To hear these men converse upon the purchase of human beings, with the same indifference, and nearly in the same language, as if they were contract|ing for so many head of cattle or swine, shocked me exceedingly. But, when I Page 190 suffered my imagination to rove to the habitation of these victims to this infa|mous, cruel commerce, and fancied that I saw the peaceful husbandman dragged from his native farm; the fond husband torn from the embraces of his belov|ed wife; the mother, from her babes; the tender child, from the arms of its pa|rent; and all the tender, endearing ties of natural and social affection rended by the hand of avaricious violence, my heart sunk within me. I execrated myself, for even the involuntary part I bore in this execrable traffic: I thought of my native land and blushed. When the captain kindly inquired of me how many slaves I thought my privilege in the ship entitled me to transport, for my adventure, I reject|ed my privilege, with horrour; and declar|ed I would sooner suffer servitude than purchase a slave. This observation was received in the great cabin with repeated bursts of laughter, and excited many a Page 191 stroke of coarse ridicule. Captain Rus|sell observed, that he would not insist upon my using my privilege, if I had so much of the yankee about me. Here is my clerk, Ned Randolph, will jump at the chance; though the rogue has been rather unlucky in the trade. Out of five and twenty negroes he purchased, he nev|er carried but one alive to port; and that poor devil was broken winded, and he was obliged to sell him for half price in Antigua.
Punctual to the day of the delivery, the contractors appeared, and brought with them about one hundred and fifty negroes, men, women, and children. The men were fastened together, in pairs, by a bar of iron, with a collar to receive the neck at each extremity; a long pole pass|ing over their shoulder, and between each two, bound by a staple and ring, through which the pole was thrust, and thus twenty, and sometimes thirty, were con|nected Page 192 together; while their conductors incessantly applied the scourge to those, who loitered, or sought to strangle them|selves, by lifting their feet from the ground in despair, which sometimes had been suc|cessfully attempted. The women and children were bound with cords, and driven forward by the whip. When they arrived at the factory, the men were unloosed from the poles; but still chain|ed in pairs, and turned into strong cells, built for the purpose. The dumb sor|row of some, the frenzy of others, the sobbings and tears of the children, and shrieks of the women, when they were presented to our captain, so affected me that I was hastening from this scene of barbarity, on board the ship; when I was called by the mate, and discovered, to my surprize and horrour, that, by my station in the ship, I had a principal and active part of this inhuman transaction imposed upon me. As surgeon, it was my duty to Page 193 inspect the bodies of the slaves, to see, as the captain expressed himself, that our owners were not shammed off with unsound flesh. In this inspection, I was assisted by Randolph the clerk, and two stout sailors. It was trans|acted with all that unfeeling insolence, which wanton barbarity can inflict up|on defenceless wretchedness. The man, the affrighted child, the modest ma|tron, and the timid virgin were alike exposed to this severe scrutiny, to hu|manity and common decency equally insulting.
I cannot reflect on this transaction yet without shuddering. I have de|plored my conduct with tears of an|guish; and, I pray a merciful God, the common parent of the great family of the universe, who hath made of one flesh and one blood all nations of the earth, that the miseries, the insults, and cruel wound|ings, I afterwards received, when a slave Page 194 myself, may expiate for the inhumanity, I was necessitated to exercise, towards these MY BRETHREN OF THE HUMAN RACE.
Treatment of the Slaves, on board the Ship.
OF one hundred and fifty Af|ricans we rejected seventeen, as not mer|chantable. While I was doubting which to lament most, those, who were about being precipitated into all the miseries of an American slavery, or those, whom we had rejected, as too wretched for slaves; Captain Russell was congratulating the slave contractors, upon the immense good luck they had, in not suffering more by this lot of human creatures. I under|stood Page 196 that, what from wounds received by some of these miserable creatures, at their capture, or in their violent struggles for liberty, or attempts at suicide; with the fatigue of a long journey, partly over the burning sands of a sultry climate, it was usual to estimate the loss, in the passage to the sea shore, at twenty five per cent.
No sooner was the purchase complet|ed, than these wretched Africans were transported in herds aboard the ship, and immediately precipitated between decks, where a strong chain, attached to a staple in the lower deck, was rivetted to the bar, before described; and then the men were chained in pairs, and also hand cuffed, and two sailors with cutlasses guarded ev|ery twenty: while the women and chil|dren were tied together in pairs with ropes, and obliged to supply the men with provisions, and the flush bucket; or, if the young women were released, it was only to gratify the brutal lust of the sail|ors; Page 197 for though I cannot say I ever was witness to an actual rape, yet the frequent shrieks of these forlorn females in the births of the seamen, left me little charity to doubt of the repeated commission of that degrading crime. The eve after we had received the slaves on board, all hands were piped on deck, and ordered to assist in manufacturing and knotting cat o'nine tails, the application of which, I was in|formed, was always necessary to bring the slaves to their appetite. The night after they came on board was spent by these wretched people, in sobbings, groans, tears, and the most heart rending bursts of sor|row and despair. The next morning all was still. Surprised by this unexpected silence, I almost hoped that providence, in pity to these her miserable children, had permitted some kindly suffocation to put a period to their anguish. It was neither novel nor unexpected to the ship's crew. It is only the dumb fit come on, cried Page 198 every one. We will cure them. After breakfast, the whole ship's crew went be|tween decks, and carried with them the provisions for the slaves, which they one and all refused to eat. A more affecting group of misery was never seen. These injured Africans, prefering death to slave|ry, or perhaps buoyed above the fear of dissolution, by their religion, which taught them to look with an eye of faith to a country beyond the grave; where they should again meet those friends and relatives, from whose endearments they had been torn; and where no fiend should torment, or christian thirst for gold, had, wanting other means, resolved to starve themselves, and every eye low|ered the fixed resolve of this deadly in|tent. In vain were the men beaten. They refused to taste one mouthful; and, I believe, would have died under the op|eration, if the ingenious cruelty of the clerk, Randolph, had not suggested the Page 199 plan of whipping the women and chil|dren in sight of the men; assuring the men they should be tormented until all had eaten. What the torments, exercis|ed on the bodies of these brave Africans, failed to produce, the feelings of nature effected. The Negro, who could un|dauntedly expire under the anguish of the lash, could not view the agonies of his wife, child, or his mother; and, though repeatedly encouraged by these female sufferers, unmoved by their torments, to persevere unto death; yet, though the man dared to die, the father relented, and in a few hours they all eat their provisions, mingled with their tears.
Our slave dealers being unable to ful|fil their contract, unless we tarried three weeks longer, our captain concluded to remove to some other market. We ac|cordingly weighed anchor, and steered for Benin, and anchored in the river Formosa, where we took in one hundred and fifteen Page 200 more slaves. The same process in the purchase was pursued here; and, though I frequently assured the captain, as a physi|cian, that it was impracticable to stow fif|ty more persons between decks, without endangering health and life, the whole hundred and fifteen were thrust, with the rest, between decks. The stagnant con|fined air of this infernal hole, rendered more deleterious by the stench of the fae|ces, and violent perspiration of such a crowd, occasioned putrid diseases; and, e|ven while in the mouth of the Formosa, it was usual to throw one or two Negro corpses over every day. It was in vain I remonstrated to the captain. In vain I enforced the necessity of more commodi|ous births, and a more free influx of air for the slaves. In vain I represented, that these miserable people had been used to the vegetable diet, and pure air of a country life. That at home they were remarka|ble for cleanliness of person, the very rites Page 201 of their religion consisting, almost entire|ly, in frequent ablutions. The captain was, by this time, prejudiced against me. He observed that he did not doubt my skill, and would be bound by my advice, as to the health of those on board his ship, when he found I was actuated by the in|terest of the owners; but, he feared, that I was now moved by some yankee non|sense about humanity.
Randolph, the clerk, blamed me in plain terms. He said he had made seven African voyages, and with as good sur|geons as I was; and that it was their common practice, when an infectious dis|order prevailed, among the slaves, to make critical search for all those, who had the slightest symptoms of it, or whose habits of body inclined them to it; to tie them up and cast them over the ship side together, and thus, at one dash, to purify the ship. What signifies, added he, the lives of the black devils; they love to die. You Page 202 cannot please them better, than by chucking them into the water.
When we stood out to sea, the rolling of the vessel brought on the sea sickness, which encreased the filth; the weath|er being rough, we were obliged to close some of the ports, which ventilated the space between decks; and death raged dreadfully among the slaves. Above two thirds were diseased. It was affecting to observe the ghastly smile on the counte|nance of the dying African, as if rejoic|ing to escape the cruelty of his oppressors. I noticed one man, who gathered all his strength, and, in one last effort, spoke with great emphasis, and expired. I un|derstood, by the linguist, that, with his dying breath, he invited his wife, and a boy and girl to follow him quickly, and slaken their thirst with him at the cool streams of the fountain of their Great Father, be|yond the reach of the wild white beasts. The captain was now alarmed for the Page 203 success of his voyage; and, upon my urg|ing the necessity of landing the slaves, he ordered the ship about, and we anchored near an uninhabited part of the gold coast. I conjecture not far from Cape St. Paul.
Tents were erected on the shore, and the sick landed. Under my direction, they recovered surprisingly. It was af|fecting to see the effect gentle usage had upon these hitherto sullen, obstinate peo|ple. As I had the sole direction of the hospital, they looked on me as the source of this sudden transition from the filth and rigour of the ship, to the cleanliness and kindness of the shore. Their gratitude was excessive. When they recovered so far as to walk out, happy was he, who could, by picking a few berries, gathering the wild fruits of the country, or doing any menial services, manifest his affection for me. Our linguist has told me, he has often heard them, behind the Page 204 bushes, praying to their God for my pros|perity, and asking him with earnestness, why he put my good black soul into a white body. In twelve days all the convales|cents were returned to the ship, except five, who staid with me on shore, and were to be taken on board the next day.
The Author taken Captive by the Algerines.
NEAR the close of the fourteenth of November, one thousand seven hun|dred and eighty eight, as the sun was sink|ing behind the mountains of Fundia, I sat at the door of my tent, and perceived our ship, which lay at one mile's distance, getting under way, apparently in great haste. The jolly boat, about ten min|utes before, had made towards the shore; but was recalled by a musket shot from the ship. Alarmed by this unexpected manoeu|vre, I ran to the top of a small hill, back of the hospital, and plainly discovered a square rigged vessel in the offing, endeav|ouring Page 206 to lock our ship within the land; but a land breeze springing up from the north east, which did not extend to the strange vessel, and our ship putting out all her light sails, being well provided with king sail, scudding sails, water sails, and driver, I could perceive she out sailed her. It was soon so dark that I lost sight of both, and I passed a night of extreme anxiety, which was increased by, what I conjectured to be, the flashes of guns in the south west; though at too great dis|tance for me to hear the reports.
The next morning no vessels were to be seen on the coast, and the ensuing day was spent in a state of dreadful suspense. Although I had provisions enough with me for some weeks, and was sheltered by our tents, yet to be separated from my friends and country, perhaps forever, and to fall into the hands of the barbarous people, which infested this coast, was tru|ly alarming. The five Africans, who Page 207 were with me, could not conceal their joy, at the departure of the ship. By signs they manifested their affection to|wards me; and, when I signified to them that the vessel was gone not to return, they clapped their hands, and pointing inland, signified a desire to convey me to their native country, where they were sure I should be happy. By their con|sultation, I could see that they were to|tally ignorant of the way. On the third day towards evening, to my great joy, I saw a sail approaching the shore, at the prospect of which my African associates, manifested every sign of horrour. I im|mediately concluded that no great blame would arise, from my not detaining five men, in the absence of the ship; and I intimated to them that they might con|ceal themselves in the brush and escape. Four quitted me; but one, who made me comprehend, that he had a beloved son among the slaves, refused to go, prefering Page 208 the company of his child, and slavery it|self, to freedom and the land of his nativi|ty. I retired to rest, pleased with the imagination of soon rejoining my friends, and proceeding to my native country. On the morning of the fourth day, as I was sleeping in my tent with the affec|tionate negro at my feet, I was suddenly awakened, by the blowing of conch shells, and the sound of uncouth voices. I a|rose to dress myself, when the tent was overset, and I received a blow from the back of a sabre, which levelled me to the earth; and was immediately seized and bound by several men of sallow and fierce demeanour, in strange habits, who spake a language I could not compre|hend. With the negro, tents, baggage, and provisions, I was carried to the boat, which, being loaded, was immediately pushed off from the shore, and rowed to|wards a vessel, which I now, for the first time, noticed, and had no doubt but it was Page 209 the same, which was in pursuit of the Sympathy. She was rigged differently from any I had ever seen, having two masts, a large square main sail, another of equal size, seized by the middle of a main yard to her fore mast, and, what the sail|ors call, a shoulder of mutton sail abaft; which, with top sails and two banks of oars, impelled her through the water with amazing velocity: though, from the clumsiness of her rigging, an American seaman would never have pronounced her a good sea boat. On her main mast head was a broad black pennant, with a half moon, or rather crescent, and a drawn sabre, in white and red, emblazoned in the middle. The sides of the vessel were manned as we approached, and a tackle be|ing let down, the hook was attached to the cord, which bound me, and I was hoisted on board in the twinkling of an eye. Then, being unbound, I was carried upon the quarter deck, where a man, who Page 210 appeared to be the captain, glittering in silks, pearl, and gold, set cross legged upon a velvet cushing to receive me. He was nearly encircled by a band of men, with monstrous tufts of hair on their upper lips, dressed in habits of the same mode with their leader's, but of coarser contex|ture, with drawn scimitars in their hands, and by his side a man of lighter complex|ion, who, by the captain's command, in|quired of me, in good English, if I was an Englishman. I replied I was an A|merican, a citizen of the United States. This was no sooner interpreted to the captain than, at a disdainful nod of his head, I was again seized, hand cuffed, and thrust into a dirty hole in the fore castle, where I lay twenty four hours, without straw to sleep on, or any thing to eat or drink. The treatment we gave the unhappy Africans, on board the Sympathy, now came full into my mind; and, what was the more mortifying, I dis|covered Page 211 that the negro who was, captured with me, was at liberty, and fared as well as the sailors on board the vessel. I had not however been confined more than one half hour, when the interpreter came to examine me privately respecting the destination of the ship, to which he sus|pected I belonged; was anxious to know if she had her full cargo of slaves; what was her force; whether she had English papers on board; and if she did not in|tend to stop at some other African port. From him I learned that I was cap|tured by an Algerine Rover, Hamed Ha|li Saad captain; and should be carried into slavery at Algiers. After I had lain twenty four hours in this loathsome place, covered with vermin, parched with thirst, and fainting with hunger, I was startled at a light, let through the hatchway, which opened softly, and a hand presented me a cloth, dripping with cold water, in which a small quantity of boiled rice was Page 212 wrapped. The door closed again softly, and I was left to enjoy my good fortune in the dark. If Abraham had indeed sent Lazarus to the rich man, in torment, it appears to me, he could not have received a greater pleasure, from the cool water on his tongue, than I experienced, in sucking the moisture from this cloth. The next day, the same kindly hand ap|peared again, with the same refreshment. I begged to see my benefactor. The door opened further, and I saw a countenance in tears. It was the face of the grateful African, who was taken with me. I was oppressed with gratitude. Is this, ex|claimed I, one of those men, whom we are taught to vilify as beneath the human species, who brings me sustenance, per|haps at the risk of his life, who shares his morsel with one of those barbarous men, who had recently torn him from all he held dear, and whose base companions are now transporting his darling son to Page 213 a grievous slavery? Grant me, I ejacu|lated, once more to taste the freedom of my native country, and every moment of my life shall be dedicated to preaching against this detestable commerce. I will fly to our fellow citizens in the southern states; I will, on my knees, conjure them, in the name of humanity, to abolish a trafic, which causes it to bleed in every pore. If they are deaf to the pleadings of nature, I will conjure them, for the sake of consistency, to cease to deprive their fellow creatures of freedom, which their writers, their orators, representatives, senators, and even their constitutions of government, have declared to be the un|alienable birth right of man. My sable friend had no occasion to visit me a third time; for I was taken from my confine|ment, and, after being stripped of the few clothes, and the little property I chanced to have about me, a log was fastened to my leg by a chain, and I was permitted Page 214 to walk the fore castle of the vessel, with the African and several Spanish and Por|tuguese prisoners. The treatment of the slaves, who plied the oars, the man|agement of the vessel, the order which was observed among this ferocious race, and some notices of our voyage, might af|ford observations, which would be highly gratifying to my readers, if the limits of this work would permit. I will just ob|serve however that the regularity and fre|quency of their devotion was astonishing to me, who had been taught to consider this people as the most blasphemous infidels. In ten days after I was captured, the Ro|ver passed up the straits of Gibralter, and I heard the garrison evening gun fired from that formidable rock; and the next morn|ing hove in sight of the city of Algiers.