Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate/Volume 3/Number 1/Letter from Oliver Cowdery (Oct. 1836)
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Volume 3, Number 1, Letter from Oliver Cowdery (Oct. 1836)
The following is a second letter from the editor, to his brother here, written in accordance with a promise contained in one published in the last Messenger it will be perused with interest. W.
Boston, Ms. Aug. 24, 1836
Since I wrote you on the 3d. (should have been dated the fourth) I have visited a short extent of our eastern seaboard, conversed with many people, and had other opportunities of witnessing the degraded and darkened State of the human mind, even in those places where this day's science holds her seat, and modern religion boasts perfection—a land so pure that in olden time, the whip, the fagot, and the halter, were the mild remedies applied to sober the rational mind and teach them the true way; and where, in modern, the lawless banditti has laid desolate and in a heap, the property of the weak and to reconcile their feelings and bend their consciences to the precepts of the strong!
I closed my last by telling you something about New-York. This city reminds me of Ezekiel's description of Tyras, "situated at the entry of the sea, a merchant for many isles." See Ezekiel 27 chapter. While passing from the foot of Chambers st. from which the boat took its passengers, one has a tolerably fair prospect of the shipping in the Hudson, though it lies thickly crowded far above. New-York Bay forms a fine harbor, immediately protected by the fortifications on Gove[r]nor's island, sufficient to batter down the city. East River is lined with craft from the Oyster-man's skiff to the lofty and majestic ship which rides the waves of the giant Pacific. Here the wealth of the world and merchandize of the earth, have been wafted to fill up the blessings of a people, the most favored of any now on earth.
What Spirit of prophecy or forethought influenced the mind of the honest German, two hundred and twenty two years since, to erect his humble log cabin, is not for me to say; but did we not positively know this to be the fact, when we consider the size and extent of New York, we might doubt, that a little over two centuries had reared such a noble city.
Brooklyn, on Long Island, is a growing town, opposite New-York, and from appearance, I should judge, possessed considerable wealth. The U. S. Navy Yard is at this place, not far from which is the celebrated Hare. gate. I suppose, from the name, I had formed an idea, like many others, that something strange was to have been seen. But the secret was soon disclosed—the river being narrow at this place, with racks in the centre, when the tide ebbs and flows, a strong current is formed which creates ed[d]ies and whirls, similar to those frequently seen on the surface of the Missouri River.
A little farther you pass Blockwells Island, celebrated for the large prison and numerous convicts it contains—we saw them scattered about at labor, in small companies, each under the inspector of its overseer. Society is deprived of a large number of persons who are generally very busy week—days for their board and incomes, or rather for their keeping. It is to be hoped that a large number of them may make a lengthy visit to this little spot of earth, so delightfully situated in the middle of East River, and to be regretted that, many others have not been favored with a pass to that Castle long ago—it would have saved much trouble no doubt.
Supper was soon announced. Perhaps I may be allowed to give you a specimen of the order, or rather confession, which prevails at eating times on one of our long steam boats. True in many respects, they resemble a large floating hotel but the bustle and crowding for the first seats at the table, or in fact, for one at all, defies description. The moment the bell rings, a general rush is made for the Cabin door—"first come first served"—but wo be to the man who is so feeble that he cannot crowd his part. If ever a greater rush, anciently and bustle occurred when prisoners were released from incarceration, or freightened [frightened] fugitives fled from devouring flames, the individual unable to have a dozen others on his back, ought certainly to have been pitied—one is a fair sample for the other.
Night soon hid from our eyes the land on either side, except faintly, only now and then the bright glimmer of a light house, on some important point, would change the scene. In a short time all was still, but the jarring and the thrashing of the wheels, and the trembling of the boat, as it was propelled through the water by two mighty engines, soon the crooking and crowing of some young bucks, who were so unfortunate as to get no births [berths].
Early in the morning the waiter's bell awaked the passengers, to give room for adjusting beds and preparing for breakfast—neither of which agreed very well with my appetite—first, I lacked considerable of my usual proportion of sleep, and further, I dreaded another pushing and crowding, as I had hardly recovered from my former ones. This in fashionable company thought I, as I slowly put on my clothes: gentlemen, riding for health—travelling for pleasure somewhere down east to see men and mountains. But as each is a stranger to each, and no one knows as he may meet with any of his company again, it matters not whether he is a man or a brute. If men were as egar [eager] to press themselves into the Kingdom of heaven, surely they would "take it by force."
At about 7, A. M. we entered the mouth of Providence River, on the east bank of which our Government is erecting or preparing a large fortification, if I mistake not, called Fort Adams. It is large, well built, and strong: it may be called one of the strong holds of this nation. This, with other forts on islands immediately within the mouth of the river, is sufficient to defend its entrance against a formidable fleet. Near to, and on the same side of the river with Fort Adams, stands the old town of New Port. What may constitute the wealth or enterprise of the place. I know not, but suppose they "go down to the sea in ships" from which they reap their principal support.
Thirty miles from this stands the city of Providence. The name of the founder of this place, as well as this little State, is familiar with every man acquainted with the history of New England, as well as the cause of his early leaving the colony of Plymouth, and seeking refuge amid barbarians in a dense, trackless forest—it was because he had religion, and his neighbors had not, except such as deals death to its dissenters and those who absent from their communion. Roger Williams was a man of soul—he chose rather the hardship of a new uncultivated home, rather than sacrifice his rights of conscience; and by his saving himself and family from massacre, by the hands of his persecutors, God thus opened a way, or prepared a place, to which others fled in the time of similar difficulties. This good man saw the fallen state of the church, and the want of authority to administer in the holy priesthood; and after various unsuccessful attempts to convert the nations to christianity, hesitated not to declare, that when they should be converted, God would endow men with the gift of tongues, and thus by his power turn them from darkness to light. This I confess is a great puzzle to the priests of the day—They own that Mr. Williams was a learned man—well acquainted with the original languages; and a good, pious christian, strange to tell, "he did not understand the rules of interpreting the scriptures:" He thought the clause found in the Apocalypse, relative to the Savior's second coming, meant as the great revelator penned it, while these modern men—revelators say otherwise!
Providence, this day, was literally alive: it was the anniversary of their town and State—two hundred yearshad elapsed since its settlement. We had on board a company of artillery from New Port, and before we reached the town, were saluted by cannon placed on the high bluff, the smoke of which we saw rolling up from the mouth of the discharged ordinance, long before we heard the report.
Strange, thought I, as we approached the city, where so many hearts were light with animation, and changed the scene, from the one two hundred years since:—Now lofty spires rear their heads among the clouds, and costly dwellings spread their broad hearths, and render peace and comfort to their occupants, while the canvass of a thousand ships float in the gentle breeze over these still and peaceful waters, and wealth and ease flow down the streets of a city blessed of heaven!—Then the sturdy oak was only made to bend beneath the force of the whirlwind, the kindred boughs uniting to keep from the face of earth the enlivening influence of the sun, that it might not blush to shine on unconsecrated ground—soil not dedicated by a christian's prayer, but polluted by the blood of victims, slain by savage hands, to satiate the desire of an imaginary deity, whose power was in the sun, and whose habitation was in the wind; a noble river only streaked with the native's bark canoe, on the bank of which stand a father and a husband, forsaken by his friends, persecuted for his religion, and driven from the face of civilization, to seek an asylum among prowling beasts and wild men because he believed in God!
The boat soon landed, and we were quickly seated in the car for Boston. The cars on this rail road are superior, for the ease and convenience of passengers, to any I have yet seen. A few hours brought us to this city, the queen and emporium of New England.
It would be altogether uninteresting to lead you all the round of scouting to, and bathing in the sea, and how beneficial a change of climate, as well as a recess from business, has so far been to my health. I will therefore pass over these, and leave them till I see you face to face.
During my tarry in this country, I have visited Salem, 15 miles from this city. I viewed the hill, immediately to the north-west of the town, on which they used, in olden ttmes [times] when they were very righteous, to hang people for the alleged crime of witchcraft—it still bears the name of "witch hill," and looks down upon this ancient town like a monument set up to remind after generations of the folly of their fathers. This witch business began in 1691, and was so effectually carried on for about two years* that the innocent blood of hundreds moistened the earth to gratify the vile ambition of jealous mortals.
It may not be wholly uninteresting to the readers of the Messenger, to give a short account of this disgraceful affair, as found in some of the ancient writings on that subject. I am aware that the fact is familiar with us all, but the matter of fact is not. The first appearance of any thing of this nature, was in the family of a priest, by the name of Parris, who, it is said, could not make money fast enough by merchandizing, therefore undertook the traffic in men's souls—he lived in Salem. After preaching about two years, he contrived to get "a grant from a part of the town, that the house and land occupied, and which had been allotted by the whole people to the ministry, should be and remain to him &c. as his own estate in fee simple." At this many of the good people revolted, upon which strife and contention were stirred up. Soon a number of Mr. Parris' children were sorely tormented—bewitched—thrown down—scratched—pinched—bitten—squeezed, and many other grievous things, by some of the neighbors. The result was, prosecution, imprisonment and death. Remember, by the way, that none of these were afflicted by corporeal hands, but could see the persons' spirits or appearances coming to, and tormenting them—sometimes in the form of cats, dogs, hogs, &c.
A deeper laid plan for the purpose of satiating revenge, upon such a principle, I think I never read of. In the family of this Parris, resided an Indian and his wife: the latter, as appears, was the first complained of by Parris' children. She was committed to prison, and her master (P) refusing to pay the fees, suffered her to be sold for the same. The account is not a little astonishing, while it discloses the
* In the April of 1693, all then in the prisons for the alleged crime of witchcraft, were liberated.
grand secret of the matter. Speaking of her being sold for the fees, the historian says:
"The account she since gives of it is, that her master did beat her, and otherwise abuse her, to make her confess (such as he called) her sister witches; and that whatever she said by way of confessing, or accusing others, was the effect of such usage: her master refused to pay her fees, unless she would stand to what she had said."
This, I consider the main torch—the fire brand, by which the whole was made to ignite, until the good people of Massachusetts colony, were made to lament that the name of "witch," or even Parris, was ever known.
As a fair sample of the course pursued in their courts, I will give you a short paragraph: "A child of Sarah Cood's was likewise apprehended, being between four and five years old. The accusers said this child bit them, and would show such like marks as those of a small set of teeth, upon their arms: as many of the afflicted as the child cast its eyes upon, would complain they were in torment: which child they also committed."
Look at the picture! Comments on it from me are unnecessary. Nothing is wanting to show the subtle and predetermined plan of the accusers, to take life, nor arguments to prove the total want of righteousness, on the part of judges, to receive such bare faced falsehoods against a helpless, harmless babe, who had never committed a sin in its life! I confess, dear brother, that my bosom burns with indignation at the very thought.
But since I have really engaged in giving a detail of this intentional evil, I cannot do it better than by quoting the proceedings of certain trials, entire, as I find them recorded, or the account of certain individuals themselves, who were immediately interested.
"May 24.—Mrs. Cary, of Charlestown, was examined and committed. Her husband, Mr. Jonathan Cary, has given account thereof, as also of her escape, to this effect:
"I having heard, some days, that my wife was accused of witchcraft, being much disturbed at it, by advice we went to Salem Village, to see if the afflicted knew her; we arrived there 24th May; it happened to be a day appointed for examination; accordingly, soon after our arrival, Mr. Hawthorn and Mr. Curwin &c. went to the meeting house, which was the place appointed for that work; the minister began with prayer; and having taken care to get a convenient place, I observed that the afflicted were two girls of about ten years old, and about two or three others, of about eighteen: one of the girls talked most, and could discern more than the rest. The prisoners were called in one by one, and as they came in were cried out of, &c. The prisoners were placed about seven or eight feet from the justices, and the accusers between the justices and them: the prisoners were ordered to stand right before the justices, with an officer appointed to hold each hand, lest they should therewith afflict them; and the prisoners' eyes must be constantly on the justices: for if they looked on the afflicted, they would either fall into their fits, or cry out of being hurt by them. After an examination of the prisoners, who it was afflicted these girls, &c. they were put upon saying the Lord's prayer, as a trial of their guilt. After the afflicted seemed to be out of their fits, they would look steadfastly on some one person, and frequently not speak; and then the justices said they were struck dumb, and after a little time they would speak again: then the justices said to the accusers, Which of you will go and touch the prisoner at the bar! Then the most courageous would adventure, but before they had made three steps would ordinarily fall down as in a fit. The justices ordered that they should be taken up and carried to the prisoner, that she might touch them; and as soon as they were touched by the accused, the justices would say, they are well, before I could discern any alteration; by which I observed that the justices understood the manner of it.—Thus far I was only as a spectator; my wife also was there part of the time, but no notice taken of her by the afflicted, except once or twice they came to her and asked her name.
"But I having an opportunity to discourse Mr. Hale (with whom I had formerly acquaintance) I took his advice what I had best to do, and desired of him that I might have an opportunity to speak with her that accused my wife: which he promised should be, I acquainting him that I reposed my trust in him. Accordingly he came to me after the examination was over, and told me I had now an opportunity to speak with the said accuser, viz. Abigail Williams, a girl of 11 or 12 years old; but that we could not be in private at Mr. Parris' house, as he had promised me; we went therefore into the alehouse, where an Indian man attended us, who it seems was one of the afflicted: to him we gave some cider: he showed several scars, that seemed as if they had been long there, and shewed [showed] them as done by witchcraft, and acquainted us that his wife, who also was a slave, was imprisoned for witchcraft. And now, instead of one accuser, they all came in, and began to tumble down like swine; & then three women were called in to attend them. We in the room were all at a stand, to see who they would cry out of: but in a short time they cried out, Cary; and immediately after a warrant was sent from the justices to bring my wife before them, who were sitting in a chamber near by, waiting for this.
"Being brought before the justices, her chief accusers were two girls. My wife declared to the justices, that she never had any knowledge of them before that day. She was forced to stand with her arms stretched out. I requested that I might hold one ofher hands, but it was denied me; then she desired me to wipe the tears from her eyes, and the sweat from her face, which I did; then she desired she might lean herself on me, saying she should faint.
"Justice Hathorn replied, she had strength enough to torment those persons, and she should have strength enough to stand. I speaking something against their cruel proceedings, they commanded me to be silent, or else I should be turned out of the room. The Indian before mentioned was also brought in, to be one of her accusers: being come in, he now (when pefore [before] the justices) fell down and tumbled about like a hog, but said nothing. The justices asked the girls who afflicted the Indian; they answered, she (meaning my wife) and that she now lay upon him; the justices ordered her to touch him, in order to his cure, but her head must be turned another way, lest, instead of curing, she should make him worse, by her looking on him, her hand being guided to take hold of his; but the Indian took hold of her hand, and pulled her down on the floor, in a barbarous manner; then his hand was taken off, and her hand put on his, & the cure was quickly wrought. I, being extremely troubled at their inhuman dealings, uttered a hasty speech, That God would take revenge on them, and desired that God would deliver us out of the hands of unmerciful men. Then her mittimus was writ. I did with difficulty and charge obtain the liberty of a room, but no beds in it; if there had been, could have taken but little rest that night. She was committed to Boston prison; but I obtained a habeas corpus to remove her to Cambridge prison, which is in our county of Middlesex. Having been there one night, next morning the jailer put irons on her legs (having received such a command;) the weight of them was about eight pounds: these irons and her other afflictions soon brought her into convulsion fits, so that I thought she would have died that night. I sent to entreat that the irons might be taken off; but all entreaties were in vain, if it would have saved her life, so that in this condition she must continue. The trials at Salem coming on, I went thither, to see how things were managed; and finding that the spectre evidence was there received, together with idle, if not malicious stories, against people's lives, I did easily perceive which way the rest would go; for the same evidence that served for one, would serve for all the rest. I acquainted her with her danger, and that if she were carried to Salem to be tried, I feared she would never return. I did my utmost that she might have her trial in our own county, I with several others petitioning the judge for it, and were put in hopes of it; but I soon saw so much, that I understood thereby it was not intended, which put me upon consulting the means of her escape; which through the goodness of God was effected, and she got to Rhode Island, but soon found herself not safe when there, by reason of the pursuit after her; from thence she went to New York, along with some others that had escaped their cruel bands; where we found his excellency Benjamin Fletcher, esq. governor, who was very courteous to us. After this, some of my goods were seized in a friend's hands, with whom I had left them, and myself imprisoned by the sheriff, and kept in custody half a day and then dismissed; but to speak of their usage of the prisoners, and the inhumanity shewn [shown] to them at the time of their execution, no sober christian could bear. They had also trials of cruel mockings; which is the more, considering what a people for religion, I mean the profession of it, we have been: those that suffered being many of them church members, and most of them unspotted in their conversation, till their adversary the devil took up this method for accusing them.
"PER JONATHAN CARY."
"MAY 31.—Capt. John Aldin was examined in Salem, and committed to Boston prison. The prison-keeper, seeing such a man committed, of whom he had a good esteem, was after this the more compassionate to those that were in prison on the like account and refrained from such hard things to the prisoners, as before he had used. Mr. Aldin himself has given an account of his examination, in these words:
An account how John Aldin, senio,r [senior,] was dealt with at Salem Village.
John Aldin, senior, of Boston, in the county of Suffolk, mariner, on the 28th day of May, 1692, was sent for by the magistrates of Salem, in the county of Essex, upon the accusation of a company of poor distracted or possessed creatures or witches; and being sent by Mr. Stoughton, arrived there the 31st of May, and appeared at Salem Village, before Mr. Gidney, Mr Hathorn and Mr. Curwin.
Those wenches being present, who played their juggling tricks, falling down, crying out, and staring in people's faces: the magistrates demanded of them several times, who it was of all the people in the room that hurt them: one of these accusers pointed several times at one Capt. Hill, there present, but spake nothing; the same accuser had a man standing at her back to hold her up; he stooped down to her ear, then she cried out, Aldin, Aldin afflicted her: one of the magistrates asked her if she had ever seen Aldin. She answered no; he asked how she knew it was Aldin; she said the man told her so.
Then all were ordered to go down into the street, where a ring was made; and the same accuser cried out, There stands Aldin, a bold fellow with his hat on before the Judges; he sells powder and shot to the Indians and French, and lies with the Indian squaws, and has Indian papooses. Then was Aldin committed to the Marshal's custody, and his sword taken from him; for they said he afflicted them with his sword. After some hours Aldin was sent for to the meeting house in the Village, before the magistrates; who required Aldin, to stand upon a chair, to the open view of all the people.
The accusers cried out that Aldin pinched them, then, when he stood upon the chair, in the sight of all the people, a good way distant from them. One of the magistrates bid the marshall to hold open Aldin's hands, that he might not pinch those creatures.—Aldin asked them why they should think that he should come to that Village to afflict those persons that he never knew or saw before.—Mr. Gidney bid Aldin confess, and give glory to God. Aldin said, he hoped he should give glory to God, and hoped he should never gratify the devil; but appealed to all that ever knew him, if they ever suspected him to besuch a person, and challenged any one, that could bring in any thing upon their own knowledge, that might give suspicion of him being such an one. Mr. Gidney said he had known Aldin many years, and had been at sea with him, and always looked upon him to be an honest man, but now he saw cause to alter his judgment. Aldin answered, he was sorry for that, but he hoped God would clear up his innocency, that he would recall that judgment again; and added, that he hoped that he should with Job maintain his integrity till he died. They bid Aldin look upon the accusers, which he did, and then they fell down. Aldin asked Mr. Gidney what reason there could be given, why Aldin's looking upon him did not strike him down as well; but no reason was given that I heard. But the accusers were brought to Aldin to touch them, and this touch they said made them well. Aldin began to speak of the providence of God, in suffering these creatures to accuse innocent persons. Mr. Noyes asked Aldin why he would offer to speak of the providence of God: God by his providence (said Mr. Noyes) governs the world, and keeps it in peace; and so went on with discourse, and stopt [stopped] Aldin's mouth as to that. Aldin told Mr. Gidney, that he could assure him that there was a lying spirit in them, for I can assure you that there is not a word of truth in all these say of me.—But Aldin was again committed to the marshall, and his mittimus written, which was as follows:
To Mr. John Arnold, keeper of the prison in Boston, in the county of Suffolk.
Whereas captain John Aldin, of Boston, mariner, and Sarah Rice, wife of Nicholas Rice, of Reading, husbandman, have been this day brought before us, John Hathorn & Jonathan Curwin, esquires; being accused and suspected of perpetrating divers acts of witchcraft, contrary to the form of the statute, in that case made and provided: these are therefore, in their majesties king William and queen Mary's names, to will and require you to take into your custody the bodies of the said John Aldin and Sarah Rice, and them safely keep, until they shall be delivered by due course of law, as you will answer the contrary at your peril: and this shall be your sufficient warrant. Given under our hands at Salem Village, the 31st of May, in the fourth year of the reign of our sovereign lord and lady, William and Mary, now king and queen over England, &c. Auno Domini 1692.
John Hathorn, }
John Carwin, }assistants.
To Boston, Aldin was carried by a constable; no bail would be taken for him; but was delivered to the prison keeper, where he remained fifteen weeks; and then, observing the manner of trials, and evidence then taken, was at length prevailed with to make his escape, and being returned, was bound over to answer at the superior court at Boston, the last Tuesday in April, auno 1693; and was there cleared by proclamation, none appearing against him.
PER JOHN ALDIN.
At the examination, and at other times, it was usual for the accusers to tell of the black man, or of a spectre, as being then on the table, &c. The people about would strike with swords, or sticks, at these places. One justice broke his cane at this exercise: and sometimes the accusers would say, they struck the spectre, and it is reported several of the accused were hurt and wounded thereby, though at home at the same time."
I presume your patience is exhausted in reading this horrid affair,—one which spreads, and must, while the account remains upon the pages of history, or in the minds of men, a dark gloom over Salem, with all its modern politeness, refinement and religion.—In this place and in Boston, you know, the poor Baptists and Quakers, suffered, also, because their religion was better than their neighbors', of the good steady habits order. Undoubtedly you have read of their sufferings and are prepared to decide upon the injustice of their persecutors as well as the cause. And having been much more lengthy on these matters than I designed, I will dismiss them, and close, by saying something of this country as it is now. Though we must not forget, while looking at the imperfections of our fathers, that this was the cradle of liberty—where the first germ of American independence was seen to sprout. The celebrated Gen. Putnam was born in Salem, and in Boston did the pure spirit of patriotism kindle to a blaze.—But 14 miles from this, was the celebrated battle of Lexington, where disciplined British troops gave way before American yeomanry! and in full view, across a narrow neck of water, on Bunker (or Breeds) hill, was spilled the life-blood of oppressed and abused citizens, to secure to posterity that which is dear still—LIBERTY!
Salem is a pleasantly situated town, with fifteen thousand inhabitants; its streets, though narrow, are remarkably still, and the people very civil. In fact, I may say in truth, that I never visited a place of its size where so little bustle and noise were to be seen and heard. The inhabitants as I learned are generally wealthy and the almost entire business of the place is commercial. Marblehead, Beverly & Danvers, in the immediate vicinity, and in sight, are said to contain as many more inhabitants. Between Boston and Salem, say eight miles from the former, is Lynn, an industrious manufacturing town, fast increasing in wealth and population.
Boston, you know, takes the lead in these parts. A large state house onthe highest ground of the city, overlooks the same, and the country adjacent this is a place of considerable business, and a great deal of ready wealth, fast improving. Charlestown, Roxbury, Cambridge and South Boston, are so near, and the spirit of building so prevalent, that, undoubtedly, in a few years, no other name will be known but Boston. Cambridge, you know, is the place where they make "Doctors."
Having just returned from a visit to the navy yard, Bunker hill monument and the burnt convent, in company with bro. R. I must say a word on these:
The navy yard is situated at Charles town: we entered through a narrow gate way, at the side of which was a wide one, with a chain drawn across, and close by an American Marine, in full uniform, with a musket—bayonet fixed, and a polite low bow, with—"Pass in gentlemen." The yard contains a number of acres of ground entirely occupied with U. S. property, sailors, marines, workmen, officers, &c. with a park several rods long, with ever and anon, painted on the fence—"No admittance inside the Park."—And for one I had no desire to, for it was so literally filled with cannon and mortars, that I thought their weight, superceeding [superseding] the necessity of throwing balls, would sink a number of ships—The fine frigate Independence, lying at the wharf, is fast being rigged, and fitted for sea—if I mistake not, she will carry 64 guns. We saw men at work about her from the bottom to the top of the masts—with the shrill voice of the sailors—',He'o-Hea'vo." A short distance from this, at another wharf, lies the Columbus, a first line of battle ship, 120 guns, and the Vermont, now on the stocks, with four decks, pierced for 160 guns looks like a castle. The Columbus is undergoing a state of repair—she has neither rigging nor masts. We saw 4 eighteen pounders, with the English crown, and G. R. 111—when or how they got onto brother Johnathan's ship I know not. The government has recently given orders for the construction of some two or three vessels to be built at this yard for the South Sea expedition.
From this we went to Bunker hill, viewed the ground which, on the 17th of June, 1775, was drenched with blood for the liberty I enjoy, and the monument now erecting, by the liberal contributions of the sons of patriots, it is now 80 feet high, and is to be, when completed, 220—built of large granite. The history of this battle is so familiar in the minds of the readers of the Messenger, that it would be occupying space unnecessarily, to give even a detail; but judge of the feelings of my heart, when I viewed, from the top of the monument, the entire theater on which was fought one of the most important battles ever recorded in history. It was no laborious task to portray before the mind the 3000 British troops, led on by Gen. Howe, to attack a little group of American farmers, environed by a little redoubt 8 rods across with one wing of the same patriotic army, (encouraged by Prescott, Stark, Warren, Putnam, & others,) reaching into Charlestown, now inhumanly set on fire, with flames ascending to the clouds, women and children running from desolation and destruction, the spires of churches, roofs of houses, and every prominent point at Boston, thronged with spectators, eager to, not only see the first blow struck, but to learn the result, and this ground, hallowed by the best blood of fathers and brothers, strewed with the mangled limbs of our ancestors, to secure to us the blessing of freedom! I confess the reflection was too much for nature.
From this place we visited the ruins of the burnt convent, 2 or 3 miles distant, situated on a beautiful hill, overlooking Charleston, Boston, Roxbury & Cambridge, besides an extent of country. The premises contain, as was told us, 30 acres, owned by one of the bishops of the Catholic church. We saw, upon the corner of a small newly erected house, "All persons are forbid trespassing on these premises." Accordingly we enquired if we were at liberty to look about, without incurring damage, and were told we could look "about here,"—by a coarse looking son of the Emerald Isle, who appeared to have the authority of saying "how far, and no farther we might go," pointing in front of the ruins, where were the remains, as we supposed, of a circular flower garden. Not satisfied yet we enquired the fee for admittance within the highly enclosed ground in which were the ruins. "A ninepence, (12 1/2 cents) a piece," said an urchinof about twelve years of age. What great curiosities are there, we enquired? "O that's the garden." So we passed into the garden, walked about, "saw the length thereof and the breadth thereof." The building, as was occupied before destroyed, must have been conveniently and tastefully arranged—of brick, three stories high. The garden, at the back side of which is the cemetary [cemetery], when occupied by the nuns, must have been delightful—alleys, fruit and flowers, enclosed with a high fence over which Miss Reed leaped when she made her escape, as she says, and sprained her ankle. Thought I, this building was reared, and these grounds laid off, by a certain religious society, now extant, in consequence of certain principles in their faith. They purchased this land with their money—they built this house with their money—they laid off and cultivated these grounds with their money, at least, they have not been convicted of robbing other churches to obtain this money—and why were they not permitted to enjoy it? Ah! that's the question: Why? It was said that a nun was misteriously [mysteriously] missing, and besides, Miss Reed had just escaped who told some very "big" stories, and the good people of Boston, or at least, about as many as once knocked open the tea chests, sallied out, and in the presence of an armed military force, drove out the inmates and demolished this fine building! Was this religion? To be sure, we read many horrifying accounts of the Roman Inquisition, of the seduction of innocent females, by a priesthood, who live in celibacy,—much may be true and much untrue—if any part is true, so much to be deplored, and so much more can we see the corruption of the human heart, and the need of the gospel. But, in our country, where all these stories are afloat, the public forewarned of the previous conduct of Catholics, if accounts are true, I cannot see why, if young ladies in the face of all this, are so minded, cannot be permitted to absent themselves from the society of this wicked world, and live secluded, if they are disposed.—I own, as an individual, the idea is unpleasant; but different people think differently, and of course, women may be lead to do that which men esteem folly—in the mean time, however, if they were permitted to come out when they wished. But allowing Miss Reed's story to be correct, and besides another nun misteriously [mysteriously] missing, certainly, the act of destroying the convent, was unlawful, and must reflect dishonor, and disgrace upon the people of Boston. It was a religious persecution—a disgraceful, shameful religious persecution—one, or more, religious societies rising up against another. Is this religion? The good people here, being very tenacious of right, as well as the tradition of their ancestors, thought it doing God a service to burn a Catholic convent, because of Catholic religion was different from their own. The author of my existence knows the sorrowing of my heart, on the reflection that our country has come to this, that the weak must be trodden down by the strong, and disorder, confusion and terror, must distract our land and sow the discordant seeds of party strife and party animosity in the hearts of ignorant men, led on by infatuated priests, to overwhelm the continent with blood, and spread destruction and devastation throughout our happy asylum, and expose us to the fire, the sword, the rack and to death! I confess I retired from this scene of mobbery with a heavier heart than from the far-famed Bunker hill, rendered doubly so, by the patriotism, virtue, integrity, connected with the righteousness of the cause in which our fathers died! Sincerely, as ever, your brother,