My Grandmother’s story
George, the king of England, the 4th of that name, was born Aug 12, 1765 (really 1762) , and so was I. A very untoward prognostic it must have been, for all the rejoycing (sic) on that day made and provided, always seemed to me fate. Not that any connection or affinity existed , on the contrary, fate could not have exhibited a wider contrast , than that which existed between my young Prince and my obscure self. Yet somehow I was always a little proud of the circumstance, for having loved my King from my earlyest (sic) years, and alway(s) taught to reverence the crown, the birthday festivals seemed partially to honour me. I have but dim and dreamy recollection of Newcastle upon Tyne my birth place, or of our little company leaving our old home; but I remember my mother’s tears, and how she and my aunt, my father and uncle, made signals to those left on shore, as the tall ships moved slowly from the dock. I was too young to understand the emigration fever then raging or why we must leave our snug home, when everybody seemed so sorry, but I suppose the fever was like what you call the western fever; its symptoms being discontent with the present and irrepressible desire to be somewhere else; to become richer and of course happier in some far off land.
I remember the long tiresome voyage and the petting of the merry sailors, for a little miss of seven (sic) years old is almost always sure to become a favourite of the hardy sons of Neptune
My little brothers, I had two and a baby sister, where uneasy and fretful, and quite to (sic) small to be trusted out of our mother’s care, and kept my aunt who had no children, almost as busy as they did our mother. I think I must have been a fearless and impulsive child, for I romped at will on the deck scrambled into all sorts of places where I should not have gone; incurring refroof from my father, frightening my mother, and aunt, and delighting the old Scipper (sic) , who meeting me in the gangway or elsewhere out of bounds, often tossed me above his head, large as I was, or into the arms of the nearest sailor, laughing and squabbling with unbounded glee.
But of all the friends I recollect on board, i remember the most distinctly, the old weatherbeaten graybearded boatswain, John McNear. Seated on a coil of ropes he would hold me for hours swinging on his knee, my eyes fixed on his, listening to tales of mermaid and sea monsters, pearl islands and coral caves; entranced by his descriptions of the wonderful beauty of the homes of the water sprites, fully believing that just now we should see a mermaid with her mirror, or maybe the phantom ship of the Flying Dutchman. There must have been poetry as well as superstition in the garrulous old tar, for his weird tales haunt my memory still, and his fancyed (sic) presence cheers me in my blindness.
My aunt commenced my education about this time, and the bribe used to induce me to exert myself to remember the letters of the alphabet, as the ability to read all about the wonders McNear had told me of. We had stormy weather too, when I was ordered to keep below, although I beged (sic) hard to be allowed to remain on deck, that I might watch the huge seas as the sailrs called them, rising and rolling almost over us; imagining that by some special good luck, I should get a peep at a mermaids bower, when the vessel slid into the trough of the sea. But we somehow droped (sic) into Boston harbour without any such sights, tho (sic) I dare say if I could remember them, we saw things as really wonderful as any the good old boatswain described in his land of ‘yarns’. How I wondered at the sadness of my mother, and aunt while gazing at the glitter of the foliage presented by an American autumn the strange coast, the bustling harbour and the clean new city of Boston. No coal boats coal dust or smoke presented a familiar scene, but a new world in its every aspect, and though all was pleasing neat and comfortable, they gave a tear to Newcastle, to the memory of dear old England, and the friends forsaken forever.
Sir George Nutting my uncle was an English gentleman of the old school, rich generous and childless. My father was but a well to do mechanic with four children in a strange land. Yet though so differently situated, the two sisters, my aunt and mother, were tenderly attached to each other and I know learned, that for the present I was to remain with my aunt. My uncle took a beautiful house in one of the pleasantest streets in Boston, my father went into business in Lynn a town not far off. I never visited the place but once or twice and recollected very little about it, for the country my uncle said, had gone mad, and we had better stay at home. In fact, it was on the eve of revolution, and we were visited by noble looking gentlemen without number, who talked all dinnertime of the rebelious (sic) whigs, and what the parliament had done and would do. To be sure they “toasted” King George and the British nation, the King’s troops and English Ladies, in many a deep bottle of good old wine, but my uncle was a true and Loyal subject and hated the rebels as much as he loved his own government, so he pledged his countrymen again and again till the talk became a roar, and my aunt sent her maid to put me to bed in a far off chamber out of hearing of the din.
This maid was quite a character in her way and served very well for my governess, tho (sic) she could scarcely read her prayer book, but in those days English ladies in America did not get the best kind of education for their daughters and I was only a niece you know, besides I had no fortune in prospect and must learn to take care of myself, so said the maid and forthwith set me heming (sic) and stitching , and employment. I by no means liked for beside being near or shortsighted, I did love a fairy tale, and had learned and in an incredible short time to get at the meaning of some of the many Miss Abby kept hid in her box (always an English servants receptacle for her wardrobe) Miss Abby read very ill herself. I could not very well learn to read correctly without consulting aunt, and to do that would have been to have had the dear story of Cinderella or some equally interesting old time rag of a book, smuggled across the water by the maid, prohibited. So I blundered on by dint of spelling and guessing , and teasing Abby for a rehearsal ; alternately coaxing and fighting in a childish fashion, till my curiosity was, for the time satisfied. But there were subjects of interest discussed in the parlour and at dinner, which awoke wonder and fear, and but for Abby I should have been none the wise for all the conversation I listened to. She had already secured a sweetheart who gave her very clever accounts of what was going on: and many a time when we should have kept to our rooms of an evening, we were trolling with Jack Smith, through the busy streets nothing but lamplight the hury (sic)and the bustle about us.
Aunt did not know it, but I did not like the constraint of the parlour and ‘drawing room, so she in her indulgent kindness allowed me to stay in the housekeepers room with Aby, and Abby took me with her into the streets to ‘ look, as she said, but really to bribe me to silence on her conduct. Well, one night Jack came in haste, and appeared very much excited “Abby” said he “there is to be a show down by the merchants wharf will you not go and see it”
“I can’t now really, I’ve got Dollie on my hand, and it is late and cold”
“No, its not cold, I exclaimed eagerly, and if it is late we can sleep in the morning, let us go, let me go.” “ But if your aunt should find out I should lose my place, away off here in America.”
“Let me go then, and I wont say a word, not one I insisted.”
“But there will be wonderful things little one,” said Jack Smith, “ and then its so cold, may be (sic) you will freeze, or get frightened and scream, and that wont do, for one of the actors just told me where to go to get a good view of what is going on.
But I am to be very whist and so must you. Abby wont she tell?” “Not she,” and “not I ,” we at once promised and Abby added, “ If she tells she will not get any more walks with us, will she now”
The matter was very soon settled for child like I I was to (sic) eager and to (sic) positive to be put off, and go I would, and go I did.
Chapter 3: The Tea Party
Jack Smith was a short stout broad shouldered porter with a good humoured countenance, and so accustomed to carrying heavy burdens that my weight seemed no impediment, so he no sooner gained the street than I was hoisted on his shoulder, a seat to which I was somewhat accustomed, and with a light and hasty step the pair sought the wharf.
The streets we passed seemed nearly deserted, the shops closed, and men passed with eager hurried tread. The windows of Fanuil Hall however blazed with light, and the hum of many voices came from the crowd continually passing in and out of it. Jack said, “there was a mass meeting there about the merchant cargoes of tea
The yankeys don’t intend to let them land the tea, because it is taxed, and we wont pay the tax,” said he “ We wont cried Abagail, I wonder who we are? You are not one of the rebels I hope.” “O no not that,” said Jack “ but I don’t drink tea. Mother says she will not pay a tax on tea, because she is out here in the colony She is a real English born subject and the larger and richer the colony becomes, the better for King George, and she thinks her seven sons and six daughters go a good way toward its increase, and father says he has enough to do to rear so many good subjects, so he wont pay the tax and we don’t buy tea or drink it now.”
“Well I wonder how long my Lady Maria will do without tea, said Abby. I am sure I shall not give it up while it is to be had. I do not believe the Governor will let it be sent away either. He dined, and took his tea with Sir George and my Lady yesterday did he not Dollie?” “That he did, and he did , and he took, and held me on his knee, and he said I was to be called miss Dorothea, and aunt promised I should, Miss Abby,” I tartly replied. “Little aristocracy , you shall be called,” retorted the maid; “but about the tea Jack, wont it be landed tomorrow!” “the housekeeper said today, , that we ware almost out and there is little at the shops, fit for our folks.” “Dont know,” said Jack, placing me on the ground “ We must come up into this warehouse I know a good place to look out on the shipping where no one will see us.” “But what is it” I enquired impatiently, for spite of furs and wraps I began to be very cold. “Come!” and we followed our guides up a rough flight of steps, and into a large chamber where we found a half dozen young people, hudling (sic) together among bales and boxes of merchandise, intently watching from two large windows
“Any body come on board yet?” asked Jack
“Yes, twenty or thirty Indians!”
I was warm in an instant. Indians! How the name sent the blood, to the chilled extremities
Indians! I repeated, where, and what are they doing, will they catch us? And I crouded (?)through to the window, with so much energy that Abby, began to speak louder and was instantly greeted with a “hush! Hush!” and I, raised again to my seat on Jack’s shoulder.
There was not light enough to distinguish features or costume very distinctly, but as we looked down on the docks of three vessels lying close in, by the building we occupied, dark forms moved quietly in and out of sight, and very soon we were able to see that that they were emptying boxes or chests; pouring the contents into the dock: silently at first but soon stern voices rose at intervals, and then lights apeared (sic), and wild strange looking men in long blankets, with hideously painted faces, seemed searching every nook of the three devoted, famous tea ships “Dear, dear! Exclaimed Abby what is it what can it be? The tea! Said Jack Smith solumly (sic) the tea O Jack! You don’t say so, you don’t believe it.”
“What shall we do, away out here in America, and no tea. Give the alarm Jack! Dear Jack go down and cry up the police ! Let me go, I’ll get some of that tea out of the dock I’ll run and tell Sir George Nutting, I will; “ but Jack stood still and looked out of the window.
The alarm was given somehow, lights moved in every direction, shouts proclaimed the approach of a crowd, The Indians had disappeared as if by magick (sic) and we huried (sic) into the street. Jack said we must get into his father’s place before the mob gained the wharf, or freeze or be jostled nobody could know where and maybe crushed inder (sic) foot. No sooner said than done, for I scarcely remember anything but a rush, a shout from the approaching people and a door opened and shut, and we were in a cheerful little kitchen surrounded by a whole swarm of Smith’s.
There was noise, running and stomping and bustle out side; but Mrs. Smith and her daughters presented a perfect picture of contented quiet industry. We were welcomed, warmed cherished and attended with a very cordial but homely friendlyness (sic) . Abby began to worry about getting home “the streets were impassable, and if my aunt missed us she would be so terrified about Miss Dollie, and so angry with her, that she would dismiss her at once, and then what was to become of her in a strange land?” She ran on in this way never hearing my reiterated calls for an explanation till Jack whispered something which tickled my fancy, tho (sic) he did not mean me to hear it ; and you may be sure it pleased the maid and reconciled her to all the terrible disasters she so pathetically lamented.
Jack Smith went into the street, we watched the moving map of heads from a window; gradually melt away, and soon by some curious un-remembered transition I was in my bedroom Abby trying to make me believe I had been dreaming, adding many injunctions” to be silent if I ever wished to go with her again.”
I suppose I slept. I expect Smith in his strong arms brought me through the crowd, but if I had believed Abby’s declaration that I had been dreaming, the conversation at the breakfast table would have taught me the contrary, “ for tea! Tea! Was the whole subject, but how they settled it I was to (sic) young to remember. You must read Bancroft’s history to learn that happened in the course of the next year I remember the Sabbath days, passed partly at the old south church, and some trips into the country, and a small genteel young person, who made some effort to improve my reading. But the display of the troops , in the gay uniforms of that period, the graceful bearing of the officers at my aunts table, and the conversations at which I listened were things of so common occurrence that they are mixed up in my recollections with dolls and sweetmeats lessons an dress and through all there runs a memory of privation rebellion and war.