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Authors: Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Twice-Told Tales

BOOK: Twice-Told Tales
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Twice Told Tales
First published in 1837
ISBN 978-1-62012-176-4
Duke Classics
© 2012 Duke Classics and its licensors. All rights reserved.
While every effort has been used to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information contained in this edition, Duke Classics does not assume liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in this book. Duke Classics does not accept responsibility for loss suffered as a result of reliance upon the accuracy or currency of information contained in this book.
The Gray Champion

There was once a time when New England groaned under the actual
pressure of heavier wrongs than those threatened ones which brought on
the Revolution. James II., the bigoted successor of Charles the
Voluptuous, had annulled the charters of all the colonies and sent a
harsh and unprincipled soldier to take away our liberties and endanger
our religion. The administration of Sir Edmund Andros lacked scarcely
a single characteristic of tyranny—a governor and council holding
office from the king and wholly independent of the country; laws made
and taxes levied without concurrence of the people, immediate or by
their representatives; the rights of private citizens violated and the
titles of all landed property declared void; the voice of complaint
stifled by restrictions on the press; and finally, disaffection
overawed by the first band of mercenary troops that ever marched on
our free soil. For two years our ancestors were kept in sullen
submission by that filial love which had invariably secured their
allegiance to the mother-country, whether its head chanced to be a
Parliament, Protector or popish monarch. Till these evil times,
however, such allegiance had been merely nominal, and the colonists
had ruled themselves, enjoying far more freedom than is even yet the
privilege of the native subjects of Great Britain.

At length a rumor reached our shores that the prince of Orange had
ventured on an enterprise the success of which would be the triumph of
civil and religious rights and the salvation of New England. It was
but a doubtful whisper; it might be false or the attempt might fail,
and in either case the man that stirred against King James would lose
his head. Still, the intelligence produced a marked effect. The people
smiled mysteriously in the streets and threw bold glances at their
oppressors, while far and wide there was a subdued and silent
agitation, as if the slightest signal would rouse the whole land from
its sluggish despondency. Aware of their danger, the rulers resolved
to avert it by an imposing display of strength, and perhaps to confirm
their despotism by yet harsher measures.

One afternoon in April, 1689, Sir Edmund Andros and his favorite
councillors, being warm with wine, assembled the red-coats of the
governor's guard and made their appearance in the streets of Boston.
The sun was near setting when the march commenced. The roll of the
drum at that unquiet crisis seemed to go through the streets less as
the martial music of the soldiers than as a muster-call to the
inhabitants themselves. A multitude by various avenues assembled in
King street, which was destined to be the scene, nearly a century
afterward, of another encounter between the troops of Britain and a
people struggling against her tyranny.

Though more than sixty years had elapsed since the Pilgrims came, this
crowd of their descendants still showed the strong and sombre features
of their character perhaps more strikingly in such a stern emergency
than on happier occasions. There was the sober garb, the general
severity of mien, the gloomy but undismayed expression, the scriptural
forms of speech and the confidence in Heaven's blessing on a righteous
cause which would have marked a band of the original Puritans when
threatened by some peril of the wilderness. Indeed, it was not yet
time for the old spirit to be extinct, since there were men in the
street that day who had worshipped there beneath the trees before a
house was reared to the God for whom they had become exiles. Old
soldiers of the Parliament were here, too, smiling grimly at the
thought that their aged arms might strike another blow against the
house of Stuart. Here, also, were the veterans of King Philip's war,
who had burned villages and slaughtered young and old with pious
fierceness while the godly souls throughout the land were helping them
with prayer. Several ministers were scattered among the crowd, which,
unlike all other mobs, regarded them with such reverence as if there
were sanctity in their very garments. These holy men exerted their
influence to quiet the people, but not to disperse them.

Meantime, the purpose of the governor in disturbing the peace of the
town at a period when the slightest commotion might throw the country
into a ferment was almost the Universal subject of inquiry, and
variously explained.

"Satan will strike his master-stroke presently," cried some, "because
he knoweth that his time is short. All our godly pastors are to be
dragged to prison. We shall see them at a Smithfield fire in King

Hereupon the people of each parish gathered closer round their
minister, who looked calmly upward and assumed a more apostolic
dignity, as well befitted a candidate for the highest honor of his
profession—a crown of martyrdom. It was actually fancied at that
period that New England might have a John Rogers of her own to take
the place of that worthy in the

"The pope of Rome has given orders for a new St. Bartholomew," cried
others. "We are to be massacred, man and male-child."

Neither was this rumor wholly discredited; although the wiser class
believed the governor's object somewhat less atrocious. His predecessor
under the old charter, Bradstreet, a venerable companion of the first
settlers, was known to be in town. There were grounds for conjecturing
that Sir Edmund Andros intended at once to strike terror by a parade of
military force and to confound the opposite faction by possessing
himself of their chief.

"Stand firm for the old charter-governor!" shouted the crowd, seizing
upon the idea—"the good old Governor Bradstreet!"

While this cry was at the loudest the people were surprised by the
well-known figure of Governor Bradstreet himself, a patriarch of
nearly ninety, who appeared on the elevated steps of a door and with
characteristic mildness besought them to submit to the constituted

"My children," concluded this venerable person, "do nothing rashly.
Cry not aloud, but pray for the welfare of New England and expect
patiently what the Lord will do in this matter."

The event was soon to be decided. All this time the roll of the drum
had been approaching through Cornhill, louder and deeper, till with
reverberations from house to house and the regular tramp of martial
footsteps it burst into the street. A double rank of soldiers made
their appearance, occupying the whole breadth of the passage, with
shouldered matchlocks and matches burning, so as to present a row of
fires in the dusk. Their steady march was like the progress of a
machine that would roll irresistibly over everything in its way. Next,
moving slowly, with a confused clatter of hoofs on the pavement, rode
a party of mounted gentlemen, the central figure being Sir Edmund
Andros, elderly, but erect and soldier-like. Those around him were his
favorite councillors and the bitterest foes of New England. At his
right hand rode Edward Randolph, our arch-enemy, that "blasted
wretch," as Cotton Mather calls him, who achieved the downfall of our
ancient government and was followed with a sensible curse-through life
and to his grave. On the other side was Bullivant, scattering jests
and mockery as he rode along. Dudley came behind with a downcast look,
dreading, as well he might, to meet the indignant gaze of the people,
who beheld him, their only countryman by birth, among the oppressors
of his native land. The captain of a frigate in the harbor and two or
three civil officers under the Crown were also there. But the figure
which most attracted the public eye and stirred up the deepest feeling
was the Episcopal clergyman of King's Chapel riding haughtily among
the magistrates in his priestly vestments, the fitting representative
of prelacy and persecution, the union of Church and State, and all
those abominations which had driven the Puritans to the wilderness.
Another guard of soldiers, in double rank, brought up the rear.

The whole scene was a picture of the condition of New England, and its
moral, the deformity of any government that does not grow out of the
nature of things and the character of the people—on one side the
religious multitude with their sad visages and dark attire, and on the
other the group of despotic rulers with the high churchman in the
midst and here and there a crucifix at their bosoms, all magnificently
clad, flushed with wine, proud of unjust authority and scoffing at the
universal groan. And the mercenary soldiers, waiting but the word to
deluge the street with blood, showed the only means by which obedience
could be secured.

"O Lord of hosts," cried a voice among the crowd, "provide a champion
for thy people!"

This ejaculation was loudly uttered, and served as a herald's cry to
introduce a remarkable personage. The crowd had rolled back, and were
now huddled together nearly at the extremity of the street, while the
soldiers had advanced no more than a third of its length. The
intervening space was empty—a paved solitude between lofty edifices
which threw almost a twilight shadow over it. Suddenly there was seen
the figure of an ancient man who seemed to have emerged from among the
people and was walking by himself along the centre of the street to
confront the armed band. He wore the old Puritan dress—a dark cloak
and a steeple-crowned hat in the fashion of at least fifty years
before, with a heavy sword upon his thigh, but a staff in his hand to
assist the tremulous gait of age.

When at some distance from the multitude, the old man turned slowly
round, displaying a face of antique majesty rendered doubly venerable
by the hoary beard that descended on his breast. He made a gesture at
once of encouragement and warning, then turned again and resumed his

"Who is this gray patriarch?" asked the young men of their sires.

"Who is this venerable brother?" asked the old men among themselves.

But none could make reply. The fathers of the people, those of
fourscore years and upward, were disturbed, deeming it strange that
they should forget one of such evident authority whom they must have
known in their early days, the associate of Winthrop and all the old
councillors, giving laws and making prayers and leading them against
the savage. The elderly men ought to have remembered him, too, with
locks as gray in their youth as their own were now. And the young! How
could he have passed so utterly from their memories—that hoary sire,
the relic of long-departed times, whose awful benediction had surely
been bestowed on their uncovered heads in childhood?

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