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Library Reading. The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper.
Suggestions for Theme Topics. Contrast the advantages of living in your home region with living in some other section of our country, as Basil contrasted the advantages of Louisiana over Canada.
A Suggested Problem. Dramatize selected scenes from this poem; or prepare a program for a “Longfellow Day."
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 suc
cessor of Charles the Voluptuous, had annulled the charters of s 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 10 made and taxes levied without concurrence of the people, imme
diate 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 15 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
*See Silent and Oral Reading, page 11.
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 10 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. 15 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 councilors, being warm
with wine, assembled the redcoats of the Governor's Guard, and 20 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 25 various avenues, assembled in King Street, which was destined to
be the scene, nearly a century afterwards, 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 30 strong and somber 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 worshiped there 5 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 10 burned villages and slaughtered young and old, with pious fierce
ness, 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 15 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 Street!”
Hereupon the people of each parish gathered closer round their 25 minister, who looked calmly upward and assumed a more apos
tolic dignity, as well befitted a candidate for the highest honor of his profession, the crown of martyrdom. It was actually fancied, at that period, that New England might have a John Rogers
a of her own, to take the place of that worthy in the Primer.
“We are all to be massacred,” cried others.
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, 5 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 10 to the constituted authorities.
"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 mártial footsteps, it burst into the street. A double
rank of soldiers made their appearance, occupying the whole 20 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 25 mounted gentlemen, the central figure being Sir Edmund An
dros, elderly, but erect and soldier-like. Those around him were his favorite councilors, 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 30 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, 35 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 5 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 vis
ages and dark attire, and on the other, the group of despotic 15 rulers, 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 25 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 an
cient man, who seemed to have emerged from among the people, 30 and was walking by himself along the center 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