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would " cut the throats of three men, the
bridegroom, the minister, and the Justice



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WILLIAM AND MARY COLLEGE.



II



who issued the Hcense," in case Miss Bur-
well married any one besides himself. This
threat Blair laughed at, and then pro-
ceeded to show that he was more than a



COLONIAL POWDER MAGAZINE, WILUAMSBURG, VA.

match for his adversary. He preferred
charges against Nicholson, who was tried in
Lambeth Palace, and the result was his re-
moval from the place of Governor. We are
sorry to say that the clergy did not escape
firom this combat without some dust on their
robes. Governor Nicholson charged them
with meeting in a grand supper at the
Raleigh Tavern to conspire against him —
with indulging on that occasion in undue
" hilarity ; " a satirical ballad on the subject
was circulated in Williamsburg and Lon-
don, and the Bishop of London wrote the
clergy a severe letter, begging them not to
" play the fool any more" — all of which is
related on the authority of Bishop Meade.
The Rev. Commissary Blair was never
charged with such improprieties. It seems
incontestable that he was irritable and com-
bative, but these quasi-vices seem to have
served both William and Mary and Bruton
Church.

Duke-of-Gloucester street, the main thor-
oughfare of Williamsburg, was a straight,
broad avenue, three-quarters of a mile in
length, with the college at one end, and the
** Old Capitol" at the other. The city had
been originally laid out in the eccentric form
of the two letters W and M, the initials of
William and Mary, but the " city fathers *'
had the good sense to change the plan.
There were two " Old Capitols," one built
in the first years of the eighteenth century,
and destroyed by fire in 1746, and a second



on the same site destroyed in the same man-
ner in 1832. The latter is the historical old
building called " the heart of rebellion," and
a chance drawing by a lady of Williams-
burg (see the engraving on page 8) is all
that has rescued its outline from oblivion.
The earlier edifice was connected, however,
with many interesting scenes in the history
i of the colony ; and it would prove attract-
ive, if for nothing else, fi-om the presence
there of the martial figure of Spotswood,
the founder of the " Horseshoe Knights,"
who slew the pirate Blackbeard, and was
so mighty a worker in iron that he was called
the " Tubal Cain of Virginia." The reverend
clergyman and traveler, Mr. Jones, speaks
with enthusiasm of the antique edifice,
which, like the college, struck him as " beau-
tiful and commodious ; " indeed, " the best
and most commodious pile of its kind that I
have seen or heard of." He dwells with a
sort of rapture on its excellent architecture.
It was in the form of an H, with a hand-
some portico in the middle. The General
Court sat on one side, and the House of
Burgesses on the other ; their hall being not
unlike the House of Commons. In each
wing was a staircase, one leading to the
Council Chamber, " where the Governor and
Council sit in very great state, in imitation of
the King and Council, or the Lord Chancellor
and House of Lords." Every officer had
his room, and a cupola with a clock sur-
mounted the edifice. A wall enclosed the
grounds, and "a strong, sweet prison for
criminals" rose near — also a debtors* prison,
though it rarely had occupants," the creditors
being there generally very merciful." In
the grounds might be seen " at pubhc times
a great number of handsom, well-dressed,
compleat gentlemen," and, no doubt, roving
students from William and Mary, fond of
sight-seeing. Such was the first " Old Cap-
itol built at the cost of the late Queen"
Anne, and destroyed by fire in spite of the
prohibition of " the use of fire, candles, and
tobacco." The second building soon took
its place, and witnessed the tumultuous
scenes of 1774 and the succeeding years. It
had already echoed with the thunders of the
great debate on the Stamp Act in 1765,
when Patrick Henry, a raw countryman,
startied the Burgesses with his grand out-
burst, "Caesar had his Brutus," etc., with
which all are familiar. In the lobby, listen-
ing, was a young student of William and
Mary College, named Thomas Jefferson,
who afterward characterized the debate as
most " bloody," and described the sudden



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WILLIAM AND MARY COLLEGE,



appearance of Edmund Randolph, as he
came out of the Chamber, declaring, with a
violent oath, that he would have given five
hundred guineas for a single vote, which it
seems would have defeated the famous res-
olutions of Henry. The Old Capitol was
the scene of all Ae grand official pageants
of that time. The royal governors, always
fond of imitating regal proceedings, had the
habit of riding from the "Palace" to the
Capitol in their coaches drawn by four or
even six horses, aiming thus to dazzle the
eyes of the "provincials;" and, once en-
throned in their Council Chamber, they seem
to have felt that for the moment they were
the real Kings of Virginia. The old chron-
icles leave no doubt of the lordly deport-
ment of the royal governors on these occa-
sions. " Yesterday, between three and four
o'clock p. M.," sa)rs the "Virginia Gazette"
for May 27, 1774, "the Right Honorable
the Earl of Dunmore sent a message to the
Honorable the House of Burgesses, by the
Clerk of the Council, requiring their imme-
diate attendance in the Council Chamber,
when his Excellency spoke to them as fol-
lows." His address was that of Charles I.
to his Parliament, demanding the five mem-
bers. The Burgesses had " reflected " on the
King and Parliament, and were sternly de-
clared to be " dissolved." And the men who
were thus imperiously addressed, who were
dismissed by his Lordship with marks of
his cold displeasure, as a schoolmaster dis-
misses his school-boys, were Jefferson, Henry,
Mason, and Pendleton — the greatest names,
in a word, of the time. A singular cere-
mony followed this scene. On the next
evening the House of Burgesses gave a
ball at the Old Raleigh Tavern, " to welcome
Lady Dunmore and the rest of the Govern-
or's family to Virginia ! " — a proceeding which
has been compared to the bow of a swords-
man before crossing his adversary's weapon.
Other interesting scenes connected with the
Old Capitol must be sought for in the an-
nals of the time. It was destroyed by fire
in 1832, and only a few articles were res-
cued. Among these was the tall " Speaker's
Chair," behind which was a red curtain,
held aloft by an ornamental rod, and a re-
markable antique stove covered with carv-
ings. This chair and stove were removed
to the Capitol of Richmond — the chair
continuing to be that of the Speaker of the
House of Delegates, and the stove taking
its place near die statue of Washington by
Houdon, in the rotunda of the Virginia
Capitol.



The " Palace " of the royal governors, of
which only a few ruins remain, stood on
Palace street, a broad thoroughfare running
northward from Gloucester street. The
building connected with so many scenes of
the revolutionary outburst was not tlie origi-
nal structure, occupied by Spotswood. Of
the first building, Mr. Jones gives an account
full of his habitual enthusiasm. It was a
" magnificent structure, finished and beauti-
fied with gates, fine gardens, offices, walks,
a fine canal, orchards," etc.; and in the
building were stands of the best arms, " nicely
posited by the ingenious contrivance of the
most accomplished Colonel Spotswood," and
above the building rose "a good cupola or
lantern illuminating most of the town." The
cause of the destruction of this building is
not recorded — the Palace occupied by Fau-
quier, Botetourt, Dunmore, etc., was an edi-
fice on the same site with a front of seventy-
four feet and a depth of sixty-eight. The
grounds consisted of three hundred and sixty
acres, beautifully laid out in gardens, walks,
carriage roads, a bowling-green, etc.; and
in the park in front stood some fine Scottish
lindens, planted by Lord Dunmore, which
on " gala nights " were hung with colored
lanterns. In the great reception-room of
the Palace were portraits of the King and
Queen, and it seems that here, as well as
in the Council Room of the Old Capitol,
was transacted much of the public business.



"APOLLO ROOM," OLD RALEIGH TAVKRN.

The ruins represented in the engraving are
said to be the remains of the Governor's
" guard-houses," though there is no authority
for the supposition that an armed guard was
posted to keep watch over Governor and
Palace.

" The Palace," as it was called, had al-
ways played an important part in the festiv-
ities of Williamsburg — the resort of the gay-
est and wealthiest society of the colony.
The elegance and attraction of this society
were even recognized by Fauquier, Botetourt^



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WILLIAM AND MARY COLLEGE.



13



and the others, and they gave superb enter-
taimnents to the Burgesses when they as-
sembled, — on the King's birthday, — or
whenever it pleased them. The political
grandeur of his Viceregal Excellency's ses-
sions in the Old Capitol was to be equaled
by the social grandeur of his assemblies at
the Palace. Like royalty, he held his " draw-
ing-room" — received his subjects superbly,
standing under the portraits of the King and
Queen ; and it is certain that with Botetourt
and others this was a sincere pleasure. It
is not so certain that Lord Dunmore had
any such feeling, or indeed gave any balls.
The Burgesses, as we have seen, offered his
wife and daughters the compliment of one,
but it does not appear to have been repaid
by courtesies on his own part. The " Palace "
only appears, during his sway, on one occa-
sion, and then in the disagreeable light of a
fortress guarded against the irruption of the
gay Virginians. It was reported that his
Excellency had arms ranged in rows on the
floor ready to do execution on any incon-
siderate rebels who assailed him. He soon
afterward abandoned the capital, having
first removed the powder from the Colonic
Magazine.

This building, popularly known as the
^' Old Magazine," is still standing. It goes
back to a period which in America may be
called a tolerably remote antiquity, having
been erected by Governor Spotswood in the
year 17 16. The building is octagonal, sur-
mounted by a pointed roof, and is very sub-
stantial. Each of the octagonal sides is
twelve feet in width, giving an interior
diameter of about thirty feet. It has been
variously employed since the Revolution as
a Baptist meeting-house, etc. ; but it is the
aim of some gendemen of Williamsburg now
to restore it and preserve it as an historical
relic The Old Magazine appears but once
in history, but this single appearance is a
dramatic one, and renders the spot highly
interesting. The incident is too well known
to require more than brief mention. Lord
Dunmore, acting apparently like Gage in
Massachusetts, under general orders from his
Government to disarm the people, secretly
removed the powder from the magazine
under cover of darkness and sent it off.
The act excited enormous indignation, and
Patrick Henry marched at the head of an
armed force upon Williamsburg, only con-
senting to disband his men when the pow-
der was paid for. Soon afterward, Dun-
more fled from the capital never again to
return.



The last historic locality demanding notice
is the Old Raleigh Tavern, which, like al-
most every landmark of the past at Wil-
liamsburg, has been destroyed by fire. No
American " hostelry," either North or South,



INTKRIOR OF LIBRARY, WILLIAM AND MARY COLLBGB.

was as famous as "The Raleigh." The
date of its origin is not accurately known,
but it was probably erected before or
soon after the year 1700. The building
was of wood, one full story in height, with
an attic above lit by eight dormer windows
in each wing — ^the house being in the form
of an L, with a basement and entrance doors
nearly in the center of each front, over one
of which was a leaden bust of Sir Walter
Raleigh. The main apartment was called
the "Apollo Room," for what reason it
seems difficult to discover ; and this room,
which was large, well lit, with a deep fire-
place, on each side of which a door opened,
and a carved wainscoting beneath the win-
dows and above the mantel-piece, witnessed
probably more scenes of brilliant festivity
and political excitement than any other
single apartment in North America. Spots-
wood and the early dignitaries of the colony
must have been familiar with this old apart-
ment ; Botetourt, on his arrival in Virginia,
supped here in state, and with the advent
of the Revolution, it grew suddenly popular
as the place of meeting of the patriots. It
had long been used for the grand balls of
the time, called "assemblies," and in 1763
or 1764 we find Jefferson, then a gay young
student at WiUiamsburg, or " Devilsburg,"
as he always wrote in his letters, declaring
that he was as happy on the night before



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14



Vf^ILLIAM AND MARY COLLEGE.



as " dancing with Belinda in the Apollo "
could make him. The ancient room saw,
indeed, at one time or another, all that was
brilliant and graceful in the Virginia society
of the eighteenth century, and its high repu-
tation as a ball-room is shown
by the grand assembly held
there in honor of Lord Dun-
more — a "state affair" under
the auspices of the Honorable
House of Burgesses. This
social importance of the "Apollo
Room" was supplemented by
a high political renown. On
the dissolution of the Burgesses,
they retired from the Capitol
en masse to the "Apollo," where
they entered into the non-im-
poiitation agreement, passed re-
solves against England, and sub-
sequently originated the "Com-
mittee of Correspondence," the
main political engine, uniting in
one column, for resistance or
attack, all the colonies of North
America against England. The
detailed history of this famous
tavern is worth the attention of some perse-
vering antiquary. We can only add here
that the rear wing first disappeared, and
about the middle of the present century the
remainder was destroyed by fire.

The history of William and Mary College,
to which we now return in a few concluding
paragraphs, presents since the Revolution
some interesting incidents which we shall
briefly mention. In 1781 the building was
partially destroyed by fire, while occupied
by the French troops, in the absence of the
students, but rebuilt by the King of France,
who made an important accession to the
library. In 1 788, General Washington, who
had held his appointment as Surveyor from
the institution, was made Chancellor. Bish-
op Madison also had charge of the college,
as President, until 181 2, and about 1848, the
present Bishop Johns of Virginia became
President, remaining in office until 1854.
At present the institution is under the con-
trol of the able and estimable President
Benjamin S. Ewell, who has been connected
with it for the best part of half a century.

In February, 1859, the college was again
destroyed by fire, some of the students being
exposed to imminent peril. The old por-
traits in the " Blue Room " and the College
Seal were rescued by President Ewell, — also
the records of the institution. With these
exceptions, almost everything was lost — in-



cluding the rare volumes of the library.
Such was the energy of the authorities, how-
ever, that one year afterward, day for day —
that is to say, on the 8th of February, i860,
the college had been completely rebuilt and



MAIK STRSBT, WILUAMSBURG — FROM THE COLIfCB WINDOWS.

furnished, and was again in full operation,
with ample means to sustain its Faculty. In
May, 1 86 1, the existence of actual war in
the immediate vicinity rendered it necessary
to suspend the exercises, and on the 9th of
September, 1862, a disorganized force of
Federal cavalry, then in possession of Wil-
liamsburg, fired and destroyed the principal
building, with the furniture and apparatus,
subsequently injuring the property to the
extent, in all, of about $80,000. The col-
lege now seemed to have fallen never to rise
again, but its friends did not despair, and in
August, 1865, determined to repair some of
the buildings, and re-open the institution.
This was promptly done, largely by means of
contributions, not only from Virginians, but
from friends of education in other States
and countries, among whom were the Arch-
bishop of Canterbury, the Eari of Derby^
and others in England ; Messrs. Stewart,
Belmont, Harper, Appleton, English, Scrib-
ner, and others in New York; Messrs.
Childs, Lippincott, and many more in Phila-
delphia, and the first citizens in Boston,
Baltimore, Washington, Georgetown, etc.,
the list being far too long to present in this
place. About the same time the " Matty
fund," an ancient charity, dating from i74i>
and amounting to more than $8,000, was
secured ; and with this fund was established
"The Grammar and Matty School." To end



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BEAUTY FOR ASHES.



15



this brief summary of recent events in the
history of the college, President Ewell has
appeared three times before Congressional
Committees — the last time in April, 1874 —
urging the justice of an appropriation for
the college, in consideration of " Revolu-
tionary losses, and because of the destruc-
tion of its building, and other property, by
United States troops, during the late Civil
War," - a petition eloquently supported by
the Hon. Mr. Hoar, of Massachusetts.* Of
the result, if any, of this application, we are
not advised. In 1869, the main building
was substantially restored, the Faculty fully
re-organized ; and the venerable institution
has begun a new career of usefuhiess, under
able and experienced officers, in whose hands

• General Meade thus writes in relation to this
destniction :

** I am satisfied, on examination of the facts of the
case, that the destruction of the buildings of William
and Mary College bv our troops was not only un-
necessary and unautnorized, but was one of those
deplorable acts of useless destruction which occur
is all wars.



it promises to resume its ancient celebrity.
If excelled in wealth and the number of
students by other universities, it is unsur-
passed for the excellence of its moral and
intellectual training, and the refined influ-
ences surrounding it in the old city of Wil-
liamsburg, now, as fonneriy, remarkable for
the high tone of its society. Let it be ad-
ded that, surely, the historical glories of the
old Virginia capital should count for some-
thing. It is scarcely a mere fancy that
something of the spirit of patriotism and
virtue which inspired Washington, Jefferson,
Pendleton, and other eminent men of the
last century, lingers in the ancient metrop-
olis — and to resemble these is the worthiest
aim that the young men of to-day could
present to themselves.

" In this view, and believing that its reconstruc-
tion will tend to cement and strengthen the bonds
of union, and to give encouragement to the growth
and spreading of Union principles, I take great pleas-
ure in recommending the appeal of Professor Ewell
to all those who have the means and the disposition to
assist him in the good work in which he is engaged.''



BEAUTY FOR ASHES.



Beauty for ashes thou hast brought me, dearl
A time there was when all my soul lay waste.

As the earth dark before the dawning lies
Whereto the golden feet of mom make haste.

Like mom thou comest, gladness in thine eyes,
And gracious pity round thine ardent mouth —

Like rain of summer upon wasted lands,
Thy tender tears refreshed my spirit's drouth.

To-day is calm. Far off the tempest raves
That long ago swept dead men to the shore —

I can forget how those wild billows broke —
Against my hopes and me they break no more.

White butterflies flit shining in the sun —
Red roses biu^t to bloom upon the tree —

Birds call to birds till the glad day is done,
The day of beauty thou hast brought to me.

Shall I forget, O gentle heart and true.

How thy fair dawn has risen on my night —

Turned dark to day all golden through and through-
From soil of grief won bloom of new delight ?



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i6



GABRIEL CONROY.



GABRIEL CONROY .•



BY BRET HARTE.



CHAPTER I.



WITHOUT.



Snow. Eveiywhere. As far as the eye
could reach — fifty miles, looking southward
fixjm the highest white peak. Filling ravines
and gulches, and dropping from the walls
of canons in white shroud-like drifts, fashion-
ing the dividing ridge into the Hkeness of a
monstrous grave, hiding the bases of giant
pines, and completely covering young trees
and larches, rimming with porcelain the
bowl-like edges of still, cold lakes, and un-
dulating in motionless white billows to the
edge of the distant horizon. Snow lying
everywhere over the California Sierras on the
15th day of March, 1848, and still falling.

It had been snowing for ten da)rs ; snow-
ing in finely granulated powder, in damp,
spongy flakes, in thin, feathery plumes;
snowing from a leaden sky steadily, snowing
fiercely, shaken out of purple-black clouds
in white flocculent masses, or dropping in
long level lines like white lances fi-om the
tumbled and broken heavens. But alwa)rs
silendy ! The woods were so choked with
it, the branches were so laden with it, it had
so permeated, filled and possessed earth and
sky I it had so cushioned and muffled the
ringing rocks and echoing hills that all sound
was deadened. The strongest gust, the
fiercest blast awoke no sigh or complaint fix)m
the snow-packed, rigid files of forest. There
was no cracking of bough nor crackle of un-
derbrush; the overladen branches of pine
and fir yielded and gave way without a
sound. The silence was vast, measureless,
complete !

Nor could it be said that any outward
sign of life or motion changed the fixed out-
lines of this stricken landscape. Above,
there was no play of light and shadow, only
the occasional deepening of storm or night.
Below, no bird winged its flight across the
white expanse, no beast haunted the confines
of the black woods ; whatever of brute nat-
iu« might have once inhabited these soli-
tudes had long since flown to the low lands.



There was no track or imprint ; whatever
foot might have left its mark upon this waste,
each succeeding snow-fall obliterated all
trace or record. Every morning the soli-
tude was virgin and unbroken; a million
tiny feet had stepped into the track and
filled it up. And yet, in the center of this
desolation, in the very stronghold of this
grim fortress, there was the mark of human
toil.

A few trees has been felled at the entrance
of the canon, and the fi-eshly cut chips were
but lightiy covered with snow. They served
perhaps to indicate another tree, " blazed "
with an axe, and bearing a rudely shaped
wooden efligy of a human hand, pointing
to the canon. Below the hand was a square
strip of canvas, securely nailed against the
bark, and bearing the following inscription :

-NOTICE.



• Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the
year 1875, by Bret Harte, in the Office of the Libra-
rian of Congress at Washington, D. C



Captain Conroy's party of emigrants are lost in
the snow, and camped up this cai^on. Out of pro-
visions and starving !

Left St Jo, October 8th, 1847.
Left Salt Lake, Tanuary ist, 1848.
Arrived here, March ist, 1&48.

Lost half our stock on the Platte.
Abandoned our wagons, February 20di.
HELP!
Our names are :
Joel McCormick, Jane Brackbtt,
peter dumphy, gabriel conroy,

Paul Devarges, Joh!* Walker,
Grace Conroy, Henry March,

Olympia Conroy, Philip Ashley,
Mary Dumphy.

(Then in smaller letters, in pencil) :
Mamie died, November 8th, Sweetwater.
Minnie died December ist. Echo Cadoo.

{ane died January 2d, Salt Lake.
AMES Brackett, lost February 3d.

HELP!"

The language of suffering is not apt to be
artistic or studied, but I think that rhet-
oric could not improve this actual record.
So I let it stand, even as it stood this 15th
day of March, 1848, half-hidden by a thin
film of damp snow, the snow- whitened hand
stiffened and pointing rigidly to the fateful
canon like the finger of Death.

At noon there was a lull in the storm and



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GABRIEL CONROY.



17



a slight brightening of the sky toward the
east The grim outlines of the distant hills
retiiraed, and the starved white flank of the
mountain began to glisten. Across its gaunt
hollow some black object was moving.



Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 3 of 163)