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not the exception. Once married, the hus-
band and wife always remain ardent lovers.

They are fond of dinner and evening
parties; the company assemble at five
o'clock, not breaking up until early in the
morning ; of these twelve hours many are de-
voted to the pleasures of the table, while the
later moments are spent in dancing, acting
charades, and playing games ; or stories are
improvised and poems rehearsed, which draw
out the natural quick wit and humor of the
Norwegian. Singularly enough, in Bergen,
at least, if not in other cities, the ladies, when
dancing is not going on, sit by themselves,
sometimes even in a seoarate room, while



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the gentiemen occupy another. Little of
the time is spent in conversation, games
and charades and dancing forming the sta-
ple amusement; hence, to an American or
Enghshman, these prolonged soirees, if such
they can be called, are irksome and for-
midable affairs.

Though slow in action, and with a na-
tional clumsiness and brusqueness of man-
ner, compared with the peoples of Southern
Europe, there is a great deal of mental ac-
tivity among the cultivated class. Norwe-
gian poetry and prose are represented by
such names as Welhaven, Wergeland, and the
popular novelists, Janson and Bjomstjeme
Bjomson. As in America, religious books
form the bulk of the popular literature, the
Lutheran form prevaihng almost exclusively.
Eminent authors are pensioned by Govern-
ment, and statues often erected to them after
death as public benefactors, while liberal sums
are voted by the Parliament for the endow-
ment of museums and observatories, though
most of the members of the Storthing or
House of Parliament are sent from the coun-
try. The drama and music thrive in Nor-
way, and their national airs keep alive the
flame of patriotism. A new dramatist has
lately arisen, Henrik Ibsen, " a poet," says
the London "Spectator" (and the "Acad-
emy " gives equal praise), " who is fast gain-
ing for himself that European fame which
nothing but the remoteness of his mother
tongue has hitherto denied him."

The Norwegians are most successful in
painting. The pictures of Dahl, Gude, and
especially Tideman, are the favorites, the
most attractive and characteristic being the
latter's views of peasant life. In science, the
name of the zoologist, Sars, is familiar to
Americans, while the reputations of Lassen,
the Orientalist, Munch, the historian, and
Hansteen, the physicist, are cosmopolitan.
One of the finest museums of science we vis-
ited in Europe, whether we regard the
building itself, or the many treasures it con-
tains, is that at Bergen. The Museum of the
University at Christiania is stocked with rari-
ties dredged from the Norwegian seas, and
none are more interesting to the American
naturalist than those obtained from the
fjords, as they are either the co-species or
countertypes of the inhabitants of the Lab-
rador fjords, and the deep bays and reaches
of Maine.

With all their love of art and science and
modem literature, the newspaper, and the
magazine, and in spiteof the influx of English,
American, and Continental travelers, the



middle and lower classes (though such dis-
tinctions are quite artiflcial) still frequently
adhere to their old costumes and style of
boats and vessels, as well as churches. Like
that of a Neapolitan, the costume of a Nor-
wegian fisherman is picturesque in the ex-
treme — startlingly so when we consider his
remote northern home, with its harsh mount-
ain scenery and cloudy skies. There he
stands in his light boat, with its high stem
and prow, as if a legacy from a Viking — a
reminder, as well, of a Venetian gondola ;
with his high skull-cap, its pointed end
drooping down; his legs encased in blue
breeches, succeeded below the knees by
long white woolen stockings, with a jacket
of the same blue homespun decked with two
rows of brass buttons, while his feet are pro-
tected by stout ox-hide shoes. From under
his jacket the carved ivory handle of the ever-
present knife sticks out, used in old times
in their aflfrays, but now simply a domestic
utensil. If aged, his long flowing silvery
hair lends a dignity and confers a grace
that is quite captivating. Perhaps by his
side stands his wife in her tidy blue thick
homespun dress, the waist gathered and
plaiteci, the skirt a litde short, her hands
folded placidly before her, and her intelli-
gent, pleasing face flanked by the broad
flaring wings of her neatly ironed snow-white
head-dress.

If it be a Sunday, the dress of the peas-
antry is very attractive, but on week days
the dress of the women, who do so much
out-of-door work, is somewhat untidy.

That Sunday afternoon passed under the
walls of Oscar Hall revealed more of the
national traits of the Norwegians than the
sum of all our other Norse days. It was
a lovely June day, and the sun sent down
its pleasant rays over the sparkling waves
of Christiania fjord, its islets crowned with
birches and pines, its shores dotted with
neat, unpretending summer-houses, each
with the national fl^g fluttering from a flag-
staff* planted in front. From early morning
the lively little steamers had carried loads
of pleasure-seekers from the wharf over a
distance of two miles to Oscar Hall. Though
the churches were well filled in the morning,
there were hundreds to be seen long before
the time for service, hurrying to the steamer
with their babies and picnic baskets on their
arms. By the afternoon several steamers
were panting and puffing in jealous rivalry
over the course, all too small to accommodate
the eager crowds of Sunday junketers. We
land and follow the throng up the steep



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423



walk, past small wooden suburban cottages,
through narrow lanes, over broad fields.
Gay streamers and jaunty flags fly from the
beer gardens, dance halb, and pine groves
filled with excited pleasure-seekers, in which
bands of music are stationed and itinerant
organ-grinders add to the din, while long
rows of women and girls with baskets of
cakes, candies, and goodies line the more
crowded avenues. It is St. Hans* day, and
the gentle saint is honored by a popular
ovation that would have done more credit
to the followers of St Olaf. We buy a ticket
admitting us to the most aristocratic dance
hall, — a building made of rough pine boards,
and surrounded with numerous booths
and beer saloons shaded with freshly cut
burches, imder whose cooling boughs strange
liquors are dispensed. We make our way
through the surging mass of bacchanals
eager and excited, some with pleasure, others
with divers forms of Norwegian nectar.
Crowded and jostled by rude fellows, we
occasionally step aside to make room for two
or three inebriates. Again and again, as we
go, we turn to look at groups of peasants
from the country clad in their short jackets or
short-waisted gowns. We press on through
a crowd of young people who, in the inter-
val between the dances, have rushed out
to cool off", and as we push indoors a
quartet orchestra strikes up a waltz. A
score of couples waltz desperately in the
hot, ill- ventilated hall ; from a rude gallery
a few spectators look on the scene, while in
a comer near the entrance two or three
women keep watch over a counter decked
with beer bottles. Suddenly the music stops ;
the leader of the band rattles a tin plate on
his stand and calls loudly on the dancers for
contributions, and does not strike up again
till all the male partners deposit a coin in
his plate ; the skillings jingle in his pocket
and the dance goes on, unless rudely inter-
rupted by a drunken quarrel, — caused by
love, jealousy, or rum. We leave the riotous
scene at an early hour for the city, and lie
awake through the long midnight twilight,
the ruddy glow in the north at twelve light-
ing the revelers home.

Life does not seem to press hard upon



' the average Norwegian. He is fond of his
wife, loves good liquors, and is a conserva-
tive in sociology. He is polite in certain
ways, removing his hat and bowing low to
his superiors or equals, but strangely brusque
and wanting in consideration at times. He
has a decided weakness for foreigners, espe-
cially Americans and Englishmen, a trait
of an isolated and imtraveled race; for if
one appear in some remote inland hamlet or
sea-port, he is stared at and commented upon
as though a rare specimen of natural history.
The patriotism is of a good quality, and m
sturdily maintaining the good old ways of
" Gamle Norge " (Old Norway) the Norseman
leans a litde to conservatism, and but slowly
adapts himself to altered circumstances.
The waiter in a Norwegian hotel is a fair
type of his proprietor and of his countrymen
as a whole. He b a good-natured fellow,
well-meaning, but clumsy, forgetful, and
unsystematic; the art of doing things is
with him by no means a fine art. So in a
degree throughout all the walks of life.
The richest man in Norway, a banker,
is worth a million and a-half dollars.
Though with a good soil, plenty of land,
rich mines, fisheries, a fair commerce,
and a government as free as ours, the
Norwegians are pressing toward America.
At the present rate of emigration the coun-
try bids fair to be almost depopulated in
two or three centuries, as there are less than
two million inhabitants, and the young men
and women do not stay at home. I asked
a returned Norwegian farmer who was to
fall heir to ten thousand acres, why he liked
America better than home. He said he got
more meat, could eat at a separate table,
get far better wages, and, in fact, was more
of a man in America than at home. This
is the secret of the emigrant movement,
whether on the part of a Norwegian peasant,
an underpaid and too liberal-minded German
professor, or an overworked middle-class
man in England. The convincing argument
of meat twice a day and a better social posi-
tion will forever drive away that wolf from
the door of some political economists in
Europe to whom the Malthusian doctrine is
a nightmare.



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4^4



REVOLUTIONARY LETTERS,



REVOLUTIONARY LETTERS.



FIRST PAPER.



It has been the good fortune of the writer
to gain possession of a portion of the corre-
spondence of that estimable man and patriot
Colonel Joseph Ward. An intimate of those



COU JOSEPH WAKU.

Statesmen and soldiers who planned and
established the liberty of America commands
a national interest, and the interchange of
ideas between him and his illustrious country-
men cannot but be a welcome contribution to
our history. For a man who did so much
with pen and sword for his country, who was
warrior and statesman enough to secure the
repeated commendation of such men as
Washington and Adams, Colonel Ward is too
little known. The fullest account of him
appears in Francis Jackson's " History of
Newton ; " but this necessarily restricted work
has gone litde farther than the boundary
of local interest. The sketch here given
follows the above history in its main feat-
ures.

Colonel Joseph Ward, great-great-grand-
son of WilHam, an Englishman who settled
in Sudbury, Mass., early in the seventeenth
century, was bom in Newton, Mass., July
2d, 1737. ^^ worked on his father's farm
till twenty years of age, getting, meanwhile,



that fragmentary education characteristic of
his time. He then became assistant teacher
in a neighboring grammar school, and pur-
sued the higher branches. These labors
occupied him in and about Boston until the
batde of Lexington.

If wars and rumors of wars instill a military
spirit, men of Colonel Ward's generation
were soldiers by birth. He was but seven
years old when Colonel Pepperell earned his
baronetcy by shedding one bright beam
through the gloom of the French and Spanish
wars, in the reduction of the fortress of
Houisburg.

This disgraceful war sounded in his ears
till he had reached the more appreciative
age of sixteen, when France and England
began their contest for the territory on the
Mississippi and the Great Lakes. Then came
Braddock's blunder, and two more years of
French victory and English disaster; 1758-9
turned the tide, the arms of Britain having
won a substantial triumph, and the subject



MRS. PRUDENCE BIRD WARD.



of our sketch found himself at twenty-five a
citizen of quiet and prosperous colonies
Reared amid such surroundings, we expect
one of his spirit and ability now to exert an



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425



individual influence upon the fortunes of his
country.

Accordingly, we find that long before the
breaking out of the Revolution he was known
as one of the most prolific, earnest, and fear-
less advocates of freedom. Extracts firom
his busy pen will hereafter be laid before the
reader. The moment opportunity ofiered,
he began to practice what he had been
preaching during the previous ten or fifteen
years.

At day-break, April 19, 1775, he left his
school in Boston and rode, gun in hand, to
Concord. The next day General Artemus
Ward appointed him his Aide-de-Camp and
Secretary. It was in this capacity that he
served at Bunker Hill, where, riding across
Chariestown Neck to execute one of General
Ward's orders, he passed through a cross-
fire of the enemy's floating batteries, and
was the sole marie of a broadside from a
British man-of-war. General Washington's
recognition of this bold ride seems thus fiu:
to have escaped the notice of the biographer.
So pleased was the new Commander-in-Chief
with his soldierly conduct that he presented
him with a pau: of silver-mounted pistols.
These choice weapons are now in possession
of the recipient's grandson, Joseph Frederick
Ward of Chicago. Colonel Ward's services
under General Ward terminated with the
latter*s resignation in December, 1776.
April 10, 1777, the Continental Congress
appointed him "Commissary General of
Musters, with the rank of Colonel" His
commission, now in the keeping of the
family, is signed by John Hancock, Presi-
dent This new situation', confused as affairs
then were, was full of perplexity. In reply
to a letter from the Colonel, asking infor-
mation as to his immediate line of conduct
in this position, the Commander-in-Chief con-
fessed his inability to set it out in a clear
light The original letter lies before us.

In the fell of 1778 Colonel Ward was
captured by a scouting party of refugees, and
confined in the horrible prison at Flatbush,
L. I., where he suffered the inhuman treat-
ment of that wretched place. Massachusetts
made every efibrt to obtain his release;
to Samuel Adams, more than to any other,
he attributed his exchange for a British
officer in April, 1779. His services as
Muster- Master-General ended January 10,
1780, when Congress resolved to discontinue
the department. This was not done without
a vote of thanks from that honorable body
for his eminent services. The following
expression of satisfection and gratitude was

Vou XL— 28.



addressed to Colonel Ward at this time by
General Washington :

" You have my thanks for your constant
attention to the business of yoiu* department,
the manner of jts execution, and your ready
and pointed compliance with all my orders;
and I cannot help adding, on this occasion,
for the zeal you have discovered at all times
and under all circumstances, to promote the
good of the service in general, and the great
objects of our cause."

In April of the same year, Con|press
elected him Commissary-General of Prison-
ers. Colonel Ward did not accept this
appointment but retired in February, 1780,
firom the army to Boston, where, four years
afterward, he married Prudence, daughter
of Jacob Bird, a farmer of Dorchester.

It is, perhaps, no small point of interest
that a man of such character and property
should remain a batchelor till the age of
forty-seven years ; and when the stout heart
finally gave way, it is not stuprising that the
facts found would furnish a theme for a
round dozen of modem novels. The writer
secured this choice bit of privacy firom a
member of the family. Not long after the
Colonel retired with his laurels to business
life as an operator in lands in Boston, he
found himself in a dry-goods shop, examin-
ing material for new breeches. The various
satins were laid before him, and he was no
doubt as puzzled to choose between those
articles of personal necessity, as he had
been to decide upon important questions
of State, when a beautiful giri, perhaps six-
teen years of age, entered the shop, nodding
familiarly to the proprietor. Ward was filled
with admiration for the girl, and, addressing
her, stated bis perplexity and need of her
assistance. She refused to inspect the
satins, giving as a reason her ignorance of
that sort of wear. The Colonel was so
much pleased wjth the girl and her answer,
that upon her departure he inquired who
she was. He was informed that she was
the niece of the proprietor's wife, by name
Prudence Bird, daughter of a Dorchester
farmer; that she was then on a visit in
Boston, and was as good as she was beau-
tiful. The Colonel made an immediate
decision upon plum-colored satin and re-
tired. He took early occasion to meet her,
and soon went to Dorchester to consult
with her father. The good old farmer was
not a little astonished to find his child
beloved by the famous, rich, and handsome
Colonel Ward. He argued the disparity of
tiieir years and fortune, saying, moreover.



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that Prudence was uneducated, his means
having been exhausted in the schooling of
a large family before her.

The conference resulted in the suitor's
agreement to wait till she w^s older. Re-
turning to Boston, he sent fanner Bird a
check for a liberal sum, requesting him
therewith to send his daughter to school.
She was sent to Boston. This was a for-
tunate stroke ; and, finishing her course and
her courtship, she gave her hand to her
lover on the 30th day of November, 1784.
The groom was forty-seven, the bride nine-
teen. Their married life was most happy,
Mrs. Ward insisting to the last that it was
** iigenuine love match."

Tne following verses, which found their
way into the Poet's Comer, in 1 788, certainly
attest the happiness of the first four years.

POET'S CORNER.

STANZAS WRITTEN BY AN UNFASHIONABLE HUS
BAND.

While others 'gainst the marriage state

In art^ strain make free.
Let me in verse sincere relate

The joys it brings to me.

Since blest with fair Maria's love,

I'U sing with tuneful glee.
What joys a mutual flame will prove,

The joys it brings to me.

Each season of the circling year

In her complete I see;
And as each season does appear,

Each brings fresh joys to me.

Her bloomine youth, like op'ning Spring,

With that does well agree ;
Like that, does sweetest pleasures bring,

And brings fresh joys to me.

Like Summer is her warmth of love —

Can greater pleasures be?
Such e&wing warmth, such love to prove,

And find that love for me.

In her enlarged, enlightened mind.

An Autumn do I see;
Like that replete with stores I find,

And all those stores for me.

With Winter still compare will hold.

As strong the simile;
Maria's cold, severely cold.

To every one — ^but me.

Then, since I share such happy fate,

Still may I g^efiil be.
And ever praise the marriage state,

That brings such joys to me.

His beloved commander and friend wrote
his own love verses much earlier ; and it is
rational to believe that the Misses Grimes
and Bird were no less remarkable young



wom^n, because they failed to make poets
where nature had not ventured the attempt.

It is but just to say, however, that Colonel
Ward was Uie better bard of the two, when
treating upon less subde themes. In a
letter of William Bradford, Jr., hereafter to
be given in full, mention is made of a '' Bos>
ton Celia who rode upon the saddle of the
Colonel's heart " as early as 1779. ^^ Celia
was another individual, we will suppose her
an ephemeral creature, and the affeiir un-
worthy of closer investigation. If Celia was
the aHas of Prudence, then the Colonel found
his Bird hardly out of the nest

Mrs. Pope, of Spencer, Mass., who, by the
way, told her best stories when she was over
a century old, used often to be in company
with American officers, and knew many of
them well. It was her opinion that Colonel
Ward, all in all, was a more captivating man
than the Commander-in-Chiefl His gal-
lantry was unsurpassed. He was a large
man, fully six feet in height, of light com*
plexion, blue eyes, with features regular and
handsome ; but- much of his charm lay in
the elegance of his speech and manner.
Among other anecdotes, Mrs. Pope used to
relate the following. She was sitting at her
window one evening, when an officer rode
up to the gate and dismounted. She dis-
covered through the twilight a huge band-
age about one leg. Terrified, she rushed
out of the door, and, recognizing the maimed
officer, exclaimed :

" I hope you are not badly wounded, my
dear Colonel!"

" No, madam," was the quiet reply, " but
my breeches are."

It turned out that he had tied his great
red kerchief about his leg, to conceal a
rent in those useful articles which seem to
have exercised his ingenuity, in one way or
another, throughout his life. It must not
be omitted that this Mrs. Pope lived from the
time she was eighteen till her death in the
same house ; and out of the window thereof
rang the first bell of the town's rejoicing
upon the receipt pf the news of the laying
of the cable.

It may be here remarked, that Mrs. Colo-
nel Ward retained her beauty to the end of
life ; and " Lady Ward," as she was called,
was for years a favorite, particularly of the
yoimg, in that famous town of Concord,
Mass. She hved the last years of her life
with the Thoreaus, and her intimate friend
was the mother of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Her minister, old Dr. Ripley, then lived in
the house now known as the Old Manse, the



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427



home of HawthOTne. The Hoars lived
opposite. Amid the luster of such surround-
ings, she found a peaceful death in 1844.

In April, 1792, Colonel Ward, having
amassed a sufficient amount to be considered
a fortune in those days, retired from busi-
ness in Boston to Newton ; and, purchasing
a farm in the eastern portion of the town,
built a noble mansion on Chestnut HilL This
house stood opposite that of Rev. James
Freeman, grandfather of the present Rev.
James Freeman Clarke. These tasteful gen-
tlemen and neighbors were the first to
import ornamental trees into this country.
Their beautiful groves and long lines of
green and shade, were marked features of
the two estates. Here Colonel Ward was
happy in his splendid home, and here he had
expected to live the remainder of his days.
Fate was unwilling ; and a series of disasters
took away his riches. The creditors of a
traitorous friend for whom he had indorsed,
seized upon charming Chestnut Hill. Desti-
tute and well in years, he went from it in
1804, to resume the drudgery of business in
Boston. Three years afterward. Governor
Sullivan appointed him one of the Justices
of the Court of Common Pleas for the
County of Suffolk.

He did not long survive his misfortunes,
though he bore them with exemplary resig-
nation, giving up his life as he had passed it,
for the good of others. He died at Boston,
February 14, 181 2, aged seventy-five years;
leaving a widow and six children, five of
whom were minors.

It is now proposed to bring forward a
few extracts from the flood of printed mat-
ter following the pen of this patriot ; leaving
his own private letters, and letters of dis-
tinguished men to him, till later. The body
of the next paper will be hitherto unpub-
lished letters of his stanch fiiend, John
Adams.

The first public letter is from the old " Mas-
sachusetts Spy,^' the first number of which was
issued in Boston, July, 1770. Isaiah Thomas
long edited, and the celebrated " Mucins
Scaevola " corresponded for this paper. The
following was written in 1772 :

[For the « Massachusctte Spy."]

To the American Colonies:

Your exertions in the great cause of freedom, have
been noble; and they must be continued with
redoubled vigor. The time is now come which
requires your united strength and wisdom. Act
agreeable to the character of Freemen, and you shall
continue Free. You need not be instructed in the



rights of mankind ; you know them. The principles
held up in my treatise on government^ which yon



Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 72 of 163)