True Stories of History and Biography by Nathaniel Hawthorne


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Page 2

"That is not what story-tellers like," answered Grandfather, smiling.
"They are better satisfied when they can keep their auditors awake."

"But here are Laurence, and Charley, and I," cried cousin Clara, who was
twice as old as little Alice. "We will all three keep wide awake. And
pray, Grandfather, tell us a story about this strange-looking old
chair."

Now, the chair in which Grandfather sat was made of oak, which had grown
dark with age, but had been rubbed and polished till it shone as bright
as mahogany. It was very large and heavy, and had a back that rose high
above Grandfather's white head. This back was curiously carved in open
work, so as to represent flowers and foliage and other devices; which
the children had often gazed at, but could never understand what they
meant. On the very tiptop of the chair, over the head of Grandfather
himself, was a likeness of a lion's head, which had such a savage grin
that you would almost expect to hear it growl and snarl.

The children had seen Grandfather sitting in this chair ever since they
could remember any thing. Perhaps the younger of them supposed that he
and the chair had come into the world together, and that both had always
been as old as they were now. At this time, however, it happened to be
the fashion for ladies to adorn their drawing-rooms with the oldest and
oddest chairs that could be found. It seemed to cousin Clara that if
these ladies could have seen Grandfather's old chair, they would have
thought it worth all the rest together. She wondered if it were not even
older than Grandfather himself, and longed to know all about its
history.

"Do, Grandfather, talk to us about this chair," she repeated.

"Well, child," said Grandfather, patting Clara's cheek, "I can tell you
a great many stories of my chair. Perhaps your cousin Laurence would
like to hear them too. They would teach him something about the history
and distinguished people of his country, which he has never read in any
of his school-books."

Cousin Laurence was a boy of twelve, a bright scholar, in whom an early
thoughtfulness and sensibility began to show themselves. His young fancy
kindled at the idea of knowing all the adventures of this venerable
chair. He looked eagerly in Grandfather's face; and even Charley, a
bold, brisk, restless little fellow of nine, sat himself down on the
carpet, and resolved to be quiet for at least ten minutes, should the
story last so long.

Meantime, little Alice was already asleep; so Grandfather, being much
pleased with such an attentive audience, began to talk about matters
that had happened long ago.




CHAPTER II.


But, before relating the adventures of the chair, Grandfather found it
necessary to speak of the circumstances that caused the first settlement
of New England. For it will soon be perceived that the story of this
remarkable chair cannot be told without telling a great deal of the
history of the country.

So, Grandfather talked about the Puritans, as those persons were called
who thought it sinful to practise the religious forms and ceremonies
which the Church of England had borrowed from the Roman Catholics. These
Puritans suffered so much persecution in England that, in 1607, many of
them went over to Holland, and lived ten or twelve years at Amsterdam
and Leyden. But they feared that, if they continued there much longer,
they should cease to be English, and should adopt all the manners and
ideas and feelings of the Dutch. For this and other reasons, in the year
1620, they embarked on board of the ship Mayflower, and crossed the
ocean to the shores of Cape Cod. There they made a settlement, and
called it Plymouth; which, though now a part of Massachusetts, was for a
long time a colony by itself. And thus was formed the earliest
settlement of the Puritans in America.

Meantime, those of the Puritans who remained in England continued to
suffer grievous persecution on account of their religious opinions. They
began to look around them for some spot where they might worship God,
not as the king and bishops thought fit, but according to the dictates
of their own consciences. When their brethren had gone from Holland to
America, they bethought themselves that they likewise might find refuge
from persecution there. Several gentlemen among them purchased a tract
of country on the coast of Massachusetts Bay, and obtained a charter
from King Charles, which authorized them to make laws for the settlers.
In the year 1628, they sent over a few people, with John Endicott at
their head, to commence a plantation at Salem. Peter Palfrey, Roger
Conant, and one or two more, had built houses there in 1626, and may be
considered as the first settlers of that ancient town. Many other
Puritans prepared to follow Endicott.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Sun 15th Dec 2019, 21:56