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frequently read as that of General Mont-
gomery. He who passes on the street can
easily decipher it, and there is not a pleasant
day that does not witness little groups peering
through the iron railings to study the record
of the gallant young patriot whose praises
were sounded in Parliament by Barre, Burke,
and Chatham, and whose loss was felt
throughout the colonies to be a public

Trinity Church, which was the most aris-
tocratic place of worship in old New York,
was an edifice that made more pretensions
than St. Paul's, but was its inferior in archi-
tectiu*al beauty. The original building was
opened for divine service in February, 1697,
under the rectorship of the Rev. William
Vesey. It was enlarged in 1735, and its
steeple, which a contemporaneous journal
speaks of as "splendid and superb," was
pointed out to strangers with most devout
pride. But even pride must have a fall, and,
in the great fire of 1776, its interior was
entirely destroyed, and only its stone walls
and a portion of its spire were left standing.
The ruins remained uncared for until 1788,
when a new building was reared on the old
site, and it in turn gave place to the present
fine edifice in 1846. Dr. Charles Inglis, a
devoted royalist, was rector during the entire
period of the Revolution, retiring to Nova
Scotia when it became evident that the
colonies would achieve their independence.

The great fire of 1776 broke out on the

night of September 20th in a low groggery
near the Whitehall. It took its course up
the west side of Broad street as far as Flat-
tenbarrack Hill (Exchange Place), burning
everything in its way. Thence, crossing
Broadway, it destroyed Trinity Church and
some few houses below it, and fi-om the
church it swept upward to Barclay (then
Mortkile) street and King's College. Four
hundred and ninety-three buildings were
destroyed, and an immense amoimt of prop-
erty. New York has never since suffered so
severely, in proportion, by fire.

A visit to the church-yard of old Trinity
will amply repay the trouble. It is rich in
monuments of the past There sleeps the
dust of William Bradford, printer, in whose
office Benjamin Franklin sought employment
when he came to this city at the age of six-
teen, seeking his fortune. The vault of Col.
Marinus Willett, soldier of the Revolution,

montgomkry's tomb.

and Mayor of New York in 1807, is there ;
and in different portions of the crowded little
city of the dead rest the remains of William,
Eari of Steriing, Albert Gallatin, Robert
Fulton, Captain James Lawrence, of the
famous " Chesapeake," and the beautiful and
unfortunate Charlotte Temple. But the

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monument that attracts the largest number
of pilgrims is that which commemorates the
virtues of " the patriot of incorruptible integ-
rity, the soldier of approved valor, the states-
man of consummate wisdom," Alexander

had its picturesque points, for the tzts
planted aroimd it made it "look as if it
were built in a wood." The building was
erected in 1726. The British seized it in
1776, tore out the pews, and burned them
for fuel, and then crammed three thousaod


When Professor Kalm, of European celeb-
rity, visited New York in 1748, he spoke
with praise of the " New Dutch Church on
Nassau street," saying that it was not only
large and provided with a steeple, but that
its clock was "the only one in town."
Apparently he was surprised to find there
neither "altar, vestry, choir, sconces, nor
paintings;" but the Middle Dutch Church

American prisoners in it Finally the snuH
pox broke out among the captives, and the
fiightened officials hurried them away. Sub-
sequently the edifice was occupied as t or
cus for cavalry practice. At the same time,
the North Dutch Church, at the corner of
Fulton and William streets, the comer-«tDoe
of which was laid July 2, 1 767, and which w»
torn down last year, was floored over, froo

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gaDeiy to gallery, and used as a store-house.
It was more fortunate than its companion
church on Nassau street, for, after the Revo-
lution, it was devoted solely to public wor-
ship until its demolition. The old Middle
Dutch Church, on the other hand, has only
just ceased to echo with the bustle of a great
post-office, and it now stands alone and for-
lorn amid a crowded population, awaiting
the assaults of the crowbar and the spade.

The Huguenot and Lutheran churches
were also i^ed as places of confinement for
mifitary prisoners, and when these became
insufficient, Van Cortlandf s and Rhineland-
er's sugar-houses, and one on Liberty street,
near the Middle Dutch Church, were mus-
tered into the service. The second of these
prison pens is yet standing at the comer of
William and Duane streets in a fair state of
preservation. In all these places the suffer-
ings of the prisoners were intense, and the
manner of their treatment has left an indeh-
We stain on the memory of Lord Howe.
**I have gone into a church," writes Colonel
Ethan Allen, who was a prisoner in New
York in 1777, "and seen sundry of the
prisoners in the agonies of death m conse-
quence of very hunger, and others, speechless
and near death, biting pieces of chip ; others
pleading for God's sake for something to
eat, and at the same time shivering with
cold. Hollow groans saluted my ears, and
de^ir seemed to be imprinted on every
one of their countenances. The filth of
these churches was almost beyond descrip-
tion. I have seen in one of them seven
dead at the same time." This wa» the
price with which our independence was

State prisoneis were usually confined in
the " New Jail " on the Commons, afterward
made historical as the " Old Provost Prison."
This was a plain building of brown-stone,
erected in 1758, having a high, sloping
tfled roofi with dormer windows. It was
three stones in height Here many distin-
guished Americans were confined during
the war. One of the large chambers on
the second floor was styled " Congress Hall "
from the character of its inmates. Besides
Colonel Ethan Allen, Major Travis of the
Virginia Horse, Judge Fell of Bergen, Major
Wynant Van Zandt, and others of high rank,
were here subjected to the brutalities of the
m£3unous Captain Cuimingham, who made
it his boast that he had starved two thousand
rebels by selling their rations.

A characteristic anecdote is told of Allen's
imjMrisonment When Judge Fell was re-
Vou XL— 21.

leased, after being confined for several
months, he determined to celebrate his good
fortune by sending a present to his late
companions in bonds. He sent to the
prison a case of cheese and two cases of
porter. A dispute arose at once as to the
manner of disposing of the treasiu-e. Some
advocated an economy of the supplies, others
were disposed to be more extravagant
Allen spoke in favor of one great feast, and
his eloquence carried the day. The table
was spread, toasts were drank, speeches
made, and for one happy evening the prison-
ers were able to forget their sorrows.

In 1 83 1, the jail was converted into the
present Hall of Records. Its walls were
stuccoed, a new roof was substituted for the
old, and six marble colunms, which were
subsequently covered with stucco, entirely
changed the appearance of the old building.
The stout stone walls, however, are the same
that witnessed the woes of the patriot cap-
tives. The crowds that hurry across the
City Hall Park pay Uttle attention to the
legendary history of the Hall of Records,
but Centennial enthusiasm may revive its
memory. The place deserves all honor at
the hands of the citizens of New York.

There was little space for Christmas fes-
tivities while the hand of the foreigp soldier
was at the throat of the city. Families were
divided; homes were in ruins; death was
reaping a wide harvest Wealthy men found
themselves suddenly impoverished by the
contest, and many whom the war had spared
lost all in the ^-eat fire. It was no time for
domestic rejoicings. But it was meet that
the poor should b« remembered. And when
did New York ever fiadl in her charities?
The "Gazette and Weekly Mercury" of
December 2 2d, 1777, niade the following
announcement : " On Wednesday next, being
Christmas Eve, forty poor widows, house-
keepers, having fiuniHes in this city, will
receive 40 lbs. of fi^h beef and a half a
peck loaf each, on a certificate of their neces-
sity signed by two neighbors of repute,
which is to be determined at the Reverend
Dr. Jnglis's house in the Broadway, between
10 and 12 o'clock that day, who will give a
ticket for the above donation." This gen-
erous gift was the Christmas offering of John
Coghill Knapp, attorney at law, who lived
at the comer of Flattenbarrack Hill, near
the old City Hall in Broad street. It has
kept his memory green for a century.

New York at this time was less feirto
look upon than at the outbreak of hostilities.
Acres that had been burned out in the heart

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of the city were converted into rude settle-
ments by using walls that the fire had spared
and supplementing them with spars and
canvas. In these hovels, half hut, half tent,
dwelt a race of vagabonds who made their
living by crime. Chiurches and sugar-houses
were crowded with starving prisoners. Red-
coated soldiers swaggered through the
streets, and made life unendurable for the
families of patriots, while their officers held
high revel in the homes of fugitive colonists.
Fortifications had grown up at every eligible
point on the outskirts of the island and in
the bay. The pleasant heights of Brook-
land had been deluged with blopd, and the
graves of Colonel Knowlton and Major
Leitch marked the scene of a fierce struggle
in McGowan's Pass. Timid patriots had
taken courage when they heard the thimder

of Washington's victorious guns at Trenton
and Princeton, and sometimes they gathered
on their house-tops and looked across the
quiet waters to the pleasant shores of Nassau
Island or New Jersey, wondering when their
own deliverance would come. Their herit-
age was too fair to be surrendered without
a struggle. So they vowed to toil and pray
imtil their independence was won.

One hundred years have passed since
those daySy and while the natural &ce of the
city is SO changed that the men who wore
the buff and blue would not be able to
recognize it, the characteristics of the inhab-
itants are the same as of old. Patriotism^
persistence, and pluck still mark the people
of the great metropolis. This is the inher-
itance that had descended to them firom the
New York of 1775.



It was Christmas eve — or. to use words
more agreeable to Tabitha Cudworth and
Abigail Nixon — Sabbath night, the 24th of
December, 17751 as those two dames sat
over the fire in a little house in Salem street,

** I feel heathenish-like, Mrs. Nixon," said
Tabitha, putting another stick on the fire,
" when I think that this wood, mayhap, was
a part of the very seat I sat in at the Old
North. To think of the sermons Tve heard
there, and then to be warming myself by
the fire of it."

" You may get what comfort you can out
of it," answered her neighbor. "You'll
never hear any more sermons there nor any-
where else, I mistrust."

She spoke with a quaver in her voice and
a shake of the head.

" You didn't hear Parson Eliot's last Thurs-
day lecture ? It was the last Thursday lec-
ture that will ever be given in this town ; he
told the people that not one week had gone
by for upward of a hundred and thirty
years — a himdred and thirty years, Mrs.
Cudworth — ^but there had been a Thursday
lecture. It looks as if the day of judgment
was coming ; and if they do these things in
the green branch, what'll they do in the

dry? These Gageites," and she sank her
voice to a whisper, " had rather go to the
play than to a Thursday lecture."

"Well, well, Abigail, I'd quite as lieve
they'd go to the play as ask me to go to
theur Sabbath day play-house. I wanted to
box Uiat young lieutenant's ears to-day,
when he asked me if I wouldn't like to go
and hear Dr. Caner at the King's Ctu^)eL
* Hear him ? ' says I. * There's much hear-
ing, indeed 1 If you'd asked me to see that
man perform in his stage clothes you'd
have come nearer the truth. He wants to
be one of your bishops, that's what he
wants.' I gave him a piece of my mind,
Mrs. Nixon."

"Oh!" groaned Mrs. Nixon. "How
are the Lord's high places thrown down.
And what did he say then, Tabitha ?"

" Oh, he laughed ; he laughs easily. But
I'm thinking these British officers will laugh
on the other side of their mouths soon."

" It's not much oiw mouths have to do
with laughing, or with eating either," piped
the other crone; "but rie shall laugh them
to scorn. Not a mouthful of fresh meat
have I tasted these six weeks; and when
salt pork is fifteen pence sterling a poimd I
can see nothing but starvation clean before

" Youll have to trust the Lord and Dr.

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Eliot a bit longer, neighbor," said Mrs.
Cudworth briskly. " Mark my words. The
new year won't be very old before we see
those ships in Boston harbor sailing out.
Then we'll see about fresh meat."

*<It's easy for you to talk so, Tabitha,"
said Mrs. Nixon querulously. " You've got
a young officer quartered on you, and he'll
be bound to have a good platter full ; but
here be I, my house torn down over my
head and forced to live in a hole, as you
may say, and if I didn't have an honest
neighbor like you to go to now and then,
to warm myself, I'd be frozen stifl^ and the
Lord have mercy on my soul."

" It's well it's an open winter, Abigail, or
our poor boys out there in the camp would
have a hard time of it I'd give much to
hear how my Thomas thrives. He's new
to soldiering, but he's got a strong arm. He
got that in the smithy."

** He served his time with Edward Foster,
eh ? That's a busy place now. They're a
making horseshoes all day long with three
prongs stuck up like that" — and she held
up tlSree bony fingers — ^^ and I asked young
Inward what they were for. * For toasting-
forks, granny,' says he; but I know better.
They're to fire at our poor boys; they'll
hurt a deal more than the smooth round

" I can tell ye a word about them," said
Mrs. Cudworth. " I heard our young lieu-
tenant explaining them to Miss Hope the
other day. The^ call them crows' feet, and
they're just sowmg the Neck with them, so
that when our boys come galloping down
their horses will step on these wicked points ;
ah ! but it's a cruel thing to do."

" The wicked in his pride doth persecute
the poor; let them be taken in the devices
that they have imagined," said Mrs. Nixon
solemnly. " 'Tis an awfiil place we're living
in. I fear the Lord has deserted Boston —
that He's dean gone forever."

" He'll come back again with General
Washington, Abigail; depend upon it," and
Mrs. Cudworth walked firmly across the
floor, and wound the eight-day clock, as she
always did, in preparation for another week's
work. "I'm that firm in my conviction,
that every time I wind the clock I thinks to
myself, may be you won't wind that clock
again while you're a slave. That's what we
are, Abigail; we're slaves. I honor my
King, and I'm willing to pray for him. It's
the Parliament that wants to ride o^er us ;
if s the ministers that wants to indulge them-
selves and screw it all out of us ; and they

send their hirelings over here to trample us
under feet Not a drop of tea did they
ever make me drink, and the Lord knows I
can drink tea when I want to."

" Do you want any tea, Tabitha ?" asked
a voice mischievously behind her.

"Land o' mercy. Miss Hope, how you
scart me. You came down-stairs so softly
like. Tea ! not I. I'd give "

"Well, well; softly. Tabby. I thought
our rebels must be coming by the noise I
heard, and I came down to beg you not to
let mother know it too quickly. How do
you do, Abby?" and she went near the
fire and took old Mrs. Nixon's hand.

" The Loj^d bless your young eyes," said
Abigail, looking with pride at the tall, £3ur
giri with gray eyes that stood before her.
"I'm just crecpmg along. I thought I'd
come in a minute to warm myself before
Mrs. Cudworth's fire. The patrol will be
along soon, and I have no mmd to be shut
up in the guard-house. Eh ? but these sol-
diers are a dreadfiil set of people. They
have no respect for gray hairs. Tabitha
here thinks they will be gone soon, and I
pray they may, for it's hard living in the
midst of such an ungodly generation."

At this moment a knock was heard, and
Tabby, taking a light, went cautiously to
the entrance, iiolding the door open as littie
as might be necessary.

"In the King's name, Mrs. Cudworth,"
said a frank, hear^ voice without

"Is it you. Lieutenant?" said Tabby,
opening the door widely. "I thought it
might be one of those graceless scamps you
brought over with you fix)m the other side."

The young man threw open his cloak as
he entered the kitchen, and smiled as he
saw the girl still standing cjuietly by the
open fire. She moved to give him place
upon the hearth.

"A merry Christmas eve," said he, as he
drew near. " Mayn't I wish you a merry
Christmas, Mrs. Nixon," turning to the
dame, who sat rigidly in her chair.

"I'll take none o' your popish wishes,
young sir," said she grimly. " We came a
good way across the waters to get rid of all
your mummery. Ye have piped unto us
and we have not danced. It will be an evil
day when the saints come to live with

" Well," he laughed, " choose your own
company if you won't have the saints. But,
I must say, this is not much like Christmas
eve at home. I dare say, now. Miss Deland,
you never have been visited by waits in

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Boston, and had carols simg under your
windows ? "

" My father has told me of those Christmas
sports in England, but we did not bring many
of them to this country."

She hesitated a moment, and then added,
with heightening color :

" I think we brought with us the faith that
keeps the worship of Christ pure."

The lieutenant looked into the fire, but in
a moment said :

"Was it for this faith that your fiiends
turned against the King ? I think I have
heard that your General Washington was a
good Church of England man."

" I do not know that you and I can settle
this matter. Lieutenant Page," said the girl,
smiling ; " yet I think I see clearly how it
has come about It was for this faith that
my father and many before him came to
this new country, and they built this town
and formed the colony by the light their
religion gave them. It has come about that
England is not willing we should have what
our fathers earned for us, and so we are
holding it in the spirit of the same faith that
established it, and if the other colonies help
us, it is because they know we are right, and
not because we have a diflferent way of wor-
shiping God from what you have."

" Nay," said the young man hastily, "there
is not so much difference between us as you
may think;" then, checking himself: "well,
so far as Christmas goes, I fancy General
Washington will eat a more cheerful dirmer
than we shall enjoy in this town. You may
count me out to-morrow. Tabby. The
General is to give a diimet at the Province
House, to which I am invited ; but I do not
look for very sumptuous fare, nor for better
cooking than you give us."

" Is this a time to make merry ? " asked
Mrs. Nixon, rising, to take leave. " I think
it will go hard with your feasters and revelers
when this town shall rise up against you ;
but I do not mean you in special, young sir,"
she added, in a mollifying tone. " I have
found you a peaceful gentleman, and Mrs.
Cudworth speaks naught but well of you ;
but it is bad company ye keep."

"I must erven sit with the scornful, I
suppose," he retorted gayly; "but I'm
obhged to you for your kind exception in
my favor."

Mrs. Cudworth saw her fiiend well out of
tfie house, and the lieutenant turned to Miss

" Miss Hope," he said, " I made but a
reluctant assent to the General's invitation.

I had hoped to take my Christmas here.
Perhaps I might have persuaded you into
a half acknowledgment of the charm about
the day that separates it from the others ;
who knows ? "

" The days now do not vary much," said
she. " I hardly dare hope to do more than
leave each one behind with a feeling of
relief that that day, at any rate, is not to be
lived over again. But even I cannot help
taking coiurage at the turn of the year."

"Ah, you hope to see us all go before
spring, I suppose," said he, with a bo)rish
pout on his handsome face. She turned
away from him.

" I left mother asleep. Tabby," she said to
Mrs. Cudworth as she came back into the
kitchen ; " but we must not leave her alone
long. Good-night, Lieutenant Page. I
should like to hear some of our rebel waits
sing carols across the Charles River to-night,"
and she looked back on him with a mis-
chievous smile.

"You may be siure my Thomas would
make the bullets whistle," said Mrs. Cud-
worth heartily, as she proceeded to bar and
bolt her premises, while the lieutenant, well
used to the ways of the house, foimd a
candle and made ready to light himself to
his room.

" Your Thomas doesn't seem to be of the
doubting kind," said he; "but don't you
think it would go rather hard with him to
touch off a gun that was pointed toward the
barracks on Salem street ? "

" May their guns batter down every house
that General Howe hasn't pulled down
before your cowardly troops run away from
this town," said the aame, with flashing eyes.
" I'm hot sometimes. Lieutenant," she added,
with a sudden change of tone ; " you mustn't
mind me; I'm only an old woman. Just
take some of our boys on Charlestown

The lieutenant marched upstairs with this
parting shot bouncing after him, and Mrs.
Cudworth soon followed. She entered the
room where Mrs. Deland lay and the young
giri sat with eyes dewy with tears. The
spirit and resolution which the two women
could show before the lieutenant, who was
quartered upon them, was rarely able to do
more than carry them just beyond the scenes
in which he figured. In the refuge of the
chamber, where Miss Deland's mother lay
stricken with paralysis, there were frequent
relieft*of tears, — ^tears which left no stain
behind, yet gave to the young giri's eyes a
clearness and sweetness which turned her

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most resolute glances into something a trifle
less stem than they might have been.

" It's not so bad as it might be, dear,"
said Tabitha, with her oft-repeated consola-
tion. " The lieutenant's not near so bad as
some of them. Why, there's Mrs. Gray ; her
Anne was tellmg me the other day how a
light-horseman got caught in the rain and
brought his dirty beast right into her kitchen,
and, not liking that, took him into the sit-
ting-room. Mrs. Gray heard the clatter,
and called down to Anne to know what the
matter was, when the fellow began to curse
and swear at her, and there he stayed till
the rain stopped. And Mr. Gray an
addresser too. If your good father hac^ived,
he'd never have signed an address."

" If he had lived, Tabitha, we should never
have stayed in the town ; but now we must
make the best of it"

She went to the window and peered out
into the darkness. Far across the water
she could see the camp Ughts at Lechmere
Point Every night she stood and looked,
and looked, as if she might be the first to
detect some movement This night, as she
stood there, she heard a window raised near
by. Her forehead was pressed against the
window pane, and she heard the voice of
her military guest singing at his open window.
It was a ridi, powerfiil voice, and though
she could not catch many words, and dared
not betray herself by opening her own sash,
she made out that he was singing a Christmas
caroL The stars were shining brightly, and
a few lights were £&intly glimmering in houses
about her; her thoughts flew to the scene
at Bethlehem. Then she heard the dull
sound of a distant gun ; the step of the
patrol beat the walk l^low her. It was not
altogether good-will amon^ men nor peace
on earth. The sound of Lieutenant Page's
voice ceased, but his window did not fiedl,
and she fancied him sitting by it, watching

Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 55 of 163)