Page images
PDF
EPUB

entirely averse from incorporating its prominent features in the persons of individuals, sinking men in the absorbing depths of principles, our only resort, and it is a resort of impregnable strength, in order to enlist the affections of the whole people in the support of national institutions, is to unite the highest possible utility with supreme elegance of intellectual taste. In this way, we may hope to restrain the fury of bold, bad men, by offering attractions to the better part of their nature. We may weave unfading garlands around the statue of Liberty, and thus invest her with such noble charms, that she shall awe those whom she cannot win.

[blocks in formation]

Woman should be allowed to stand in the sacred desk, and in the halls of science, and advocate the cause of intelligence, of humanity, and of religion'

AMASA WALKER.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

There are numerous lovely spots on this earth, which occupy a large space in many hearts, although they make but an indifferent appearance on the map of the great world; and there are many names of places that would be looked for in vain in the chart of any country, which nevertheless makes a conspicuous figure in the world of letters. The name which graces the head of this paper belongs to that class which lives only in the hearts of a few; but it shall be no fault of mine, if it is not found hereafter on the printed page, by the side of others better known to Fame, but not more entitled to regard and remembrance.

Dear Siasconset ! what a happy lot were mine, could I cause thy name to live in the memories of those who treasure up in their hearts images of the bright and beautiful, the lovely and the good, the great and the noble! Year has followed year, like the constantly returning waves that beat upon thy pebbly shore; the light laughter of youth has grown faint and tremulous in age, and at last silent in death; the slight herbage that fringes thy slighter soil, has sprung up and decayed for succeeding seasons, since that mid-week of creation, when God bade the earth bear fruit ; and still the world knows not of thy existence. But it shall be so no longer. That distant orb which had been beaming in its sphere since that glorious morning when the stars sang together for joy, never attracted the gaze

1

of mankind, until the keen-sighted Herschel took note of its existence, and giving it the name of his sovereign, pointed it out to the wondering eyes of the world. So, SIASCONSET ! let me direct the admiration of mankind to thy quiet bamlet, where it stands frowned upon, but guarded, by Sancoty and Tom Nevers, the Gog and Magog of the Ocean.

It is now one hundred and eighty years, since a kind-hearted and generous man was compelled to flee from his new home, to escape a fine and flagellation, for having been guilty of giving shelter to four Quaker way-farers during a thunder storm. The name of this man was Thomas Macy, and the place from which he fled was Salisbury, in Massachusetts, where he had acquired a title to a tract of land comprising one thousand acres, had built himself a house, and stocked a farm. This being at that period of the world's existence which we of the present generation look back upon with veneration, and call the good old times ;' and the whole land being under the immediate control of those conscientious gentlemen, the Pilgrim Fathers; and it being about the time when England's sublimest bard poured forth that noble strain :

'Avenge, O Lord! thy slaughtered saints, whose bones

Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold,

Even those who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones;
Forget not; in thy book record their groans :'

it may be considered a strange matter, that a man should be scourged and fined for giving a shelter beneath his roof to a weary traveller; but such is the fact. In those primitive days, a good Christian was hardly accounted comme il faut, unless he had either worried a witch, or given a quietus to a Quaker; and Thomas Macy having done neither, he was naturally looked upon with suspicion by his neighbors, notwithstanding he had lived among them twenty years, without giving any cause of offence, but that related above ; after wbich, however, either remorse of conscience, or the persecution of his pious rulers, drove him from his home and possessions. Being first arraigned for his offence, however, he put in the following plea in extenuation, the original of which is still in existence :

• This is to entreat the honored court not to be offended because of my non-appearance. It is not from my slighting the authority of the honored court, nor fear to answer the case ; but have been for some weeks past very ill, and am so at present; and notwithstanding my illness, yet I, desirous to appear, have done my utmost endeavors to hire a horse, but cannot procure one at present. I, being at present destitute, have endeavored to purchase one, but cannot at present attain it; but I shall relate the truth of the case, as my answer would be to the honored court; and more cannot be proved, nor so much. On a rainy morning, there came to my house Edward Wharton and three men more : the said Wharton spoke to me, saying that they were travelling eastward, and desired me to direct them in the way to Hampton; and never saw any of the men afore, except Wharton, neither did I inquire their names, or what they were ; but by their carriage, I thought they might be Quakers, and said I so; and therefore desired them to pass on in their way; saying to them, I might possibly give offence in entertaining them; and soon as the violence of the rain ceased, (for it rained hard,) they went away, and I never saw them since. The time that they staid in the house was about three quarters of an hour ; they spoke not many words, in the time, neither was I at leisure to talk with them; for I came home wet to the skin, immediately afore they came to the house, and I found my wife sick in bed. If this satisfy not the honored court, I shall submit to their sentence. I have not willingly offended. I am ready to serve and obey you in the Lord.

THOMAS Macy.' '27 of 8th mo., '59.

But this did not satisfy the honored court;' and therefore he was forced to flee; and two of the men who had caused him to offend, by seeking a shelter beneath his roof, viz: William Robinson, merchant of London, and Marmaduke Stephenson, of Yorkshire, England, were hanged in Boston the same year, for being Quakers.

It is not to be wondered at that Thomas Macy was suspicious of the whole race of white folks, as well he might be ; and he determined to remove himself and family as far from their influence as he could. He put his wife and little ones, together with such of his effects as he could carry upon his shoulders, into an open boat, and having persuaded a neighbor to accompany him, he launched his frail vessel, and set sail in quest of a place where Christian men had not intruded themselves. He coasted along the barren shore of Cape Cod, past the Elizabeth Islands, and Martha's Vineyard, so called from its abound

ing in herrings, until he reached a little heap of arid sand, just lifting itself above the surface of the waters, and surrounded on every side by dangerous shoals and sand-bars, as if nature, in her kindness, had determined that no rash individual should set foot upon a spot that she was evidently ashamed of. But these things, which might have daunted a fainter hearted man than Thomas Macy, were only inducements to him to set up his Ebenezer in this place. For he doubtless thought that in this spot he and his descendants would be free from intrusion, to the end of time ; unless some guilty, outlawed wretch like himself, who had given shelter to the houseless and oppressed, should seek its desert shore for an asylum, when pursued by the conscientious and over pious. This little heap of sand has since been called Nantucket, and from this true-hearted and brave man sprang up just such a race of men and women as one might suppose such a stock capable of producing; kind-hearted, generous, careful, brave and enterprising, but withal greatly inclined to peace; thrifty and prudent, and at the same time hospitable to a proverb.

Thomas Macy afterward returned to Salisbury, and brought back with him to Nantucket several families, among whom were the ancestor of Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin, and the maternal ancestor of Doctor Franklin. They found the island peopled with savages, who suffered the new comers to take up their abode there without molesting them; and the white intruders in return treated the hospitable natives with uniform kindness and gentleness ; a mode of proceeding which was found much more efficacious in exterminating them, than hunting them with blood-hounds, or shooting them with patent rifles. They were literally killed with kindness. If this method of exterminating natives was but known and practised in the everglades of Florida, a very large sum of money might be annually saved by our government. But let me not wander from my subject.

Psychological peculiarities are more enduring than physiological. The lineaments of an entire race may change, while their moral features rernain unaltered. Whether the descendants of Thomas Macy bear any resemblance in their outward seeming to their progenitor, cannot now be known; but certain it is, the leading points in their characters are singularly like to his. Driven by a barren soil and an isolated situation to draw their subsistence from the ocean, they became early accustomed to its perils, and to love its dangers; and leaving the smaller of the finny tribe to the less adventurous spirits of Cape Cod and Cape Ann, they grappled with the huge leviathan of the deep, and have ever since made the capture of him the leading pursuit of their lives; and now, in whatever part of the globe, how remote soever it may be from their island home, no sooner does the black-coated monster of the deep thrust his head above its surface, than one of the descendants of Thomas Macy stands ready in the bow of his fragile skiff, with harpoon in hand to fasten upon his prey. Such was the commencement of Nantucket; and more than half a century ago, colonies from that little spot had settled down in Dunkerque in France, Milford Haven in Wales, Halifax in Nova Scotia, New-Bedford in Massachusetts, and Hudson in our own state, for the purpose of carrying on the business of catching whales ; and by their descendants it is continued to this day. The immediate descendants of the first settlers of Nantucket not only supplied this continent with oil before the revolution, but they exported large quantities to England and France. In the latter country, they were the first to introduce it into use, being obliged to create a demand, in order to meet it. It is related, in an authentic history, that some persons standing on a high hill on the island, watching the whales spouting and sporting with each other, one said : • There,' pointing to the sea,' is a green pasture, where our children’s grand-children will go for bread.' The prophecy has been literally fulfilled.

Although all men are gregarious, and above all, civilized men, yet in proportion as they become civilized, they strive to appear other than what they are, by affecting to live apart from their own species. It is to this feeling that country-seats and watering-places owe their existence. And although men pretend to wish to be very exclusive in their retreats from what they call the bustle of the great world, yet they are very certain to go, on such occasions, where there is the greatest probability of finding the greatest crowd ; so impossible is it for men to sin against their own natures. The simple inhabitants of Nantucket, although differing essentially from the rest of mankind in many particulars, partook of this common foible with the rest. As they grew rich and refined, they felt the want of a summer retreat; and in process of time, there were clustered together, on the eastern end of the island, sixty or seventy little houses, standing on the edge of a high cliff, with the waves of the Atlantic constantly dashing against its base.

This was SIASCONSET. But how unlike all other summer retreats and watering-places! It rises in the midst of ocean, with neither a green tree nor a towering rock to divide the attention, or to entice the eye from contemplating the grandeur of the wild waste of waters spread out around it. The hoarse roar of the breakers continually dashing against the shore, makes a nobler symphony than was ever heard within the walls of a cathedral, and awakening within the soul a vague feeling of sublimity, rebukes and puts to fight all mean and trivial thoughts. One of those wooden gimcracks, with its Grecian porticoes and Venetian blinds, that disfigure all other places of summer resort in the twenty-four states, would look like an impertinence here; and luckily no enterprising individual has yet seen proper to build such an incubus upon the fair fame of Siasconset. The little houses that are ranged along the cliff, with a green avenue running between them, are the most modest and unpretending edifices that civilized men ever reared for their accommodation. And here may be seen and felt all those gentle graces which adorn and distinguish cultivated minds, without any of those external affectations and incumbrances, which accompany them in other places. Pride and luxury are exotics, that cannot take root where there is so little of the blandishments of Nature, or the achievements of art, to distract the mind from the contemplation of its Maker. And here, by common consent, men and women throw aside all useless restraints and cold formalities, and intermingle with each other like brethren appointed to one common lot, and who are joint heirs to one heritage. Fashion here loses her sway, and even women cease to acknowledge her as their sovereign. That foul demon, the SPIRIT OF PARTY, has never yet

« PreviousContinue »