Israel Potter

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His Fifty Years of Exile





TO HIS HIGHNESS THE Bunker-Hill Monument

Biography, in its purer form, confined to the ended lives of the true
and brave, may be held the fairest meed of human virtue—­one given and
received in entire disinterestedness—­since neither can the biographer
hope for acknowledgment from the subject, nor the subject at all avail
himself of the biographical distinction conferred.

Israel Potter well merits the present tribute—­a private of Bunker Hill,
who for his faithful services was years ago promoted to a still deeper
privacy under the ground, with a posthumous pension, in default of any
during life, annually paid him by the spring in ever-new mosses and

I am the more encouraged to lay this performance at the feet of your
Highness, because, with a change in the grammatical person, it
preserves, almost as in a reprint, Israel Potter’s autobiographical
story.  Shortly after his return in infirm old age to his native land, a
little narrative of his adventures, forlornly published on sleazy gray
paper, appeared among the peddlers, written, probably, not by himself,
but taken down from his lips by another.  But like the crutch-marks of
the cripple by the Beautiful Gate, this blurred record is now out of
print.  From a tattered copy, rescued by the merest chance from the
rag-pickers, the present account has been drawn, which, with the
exception of some expansions, and additions of historic and personal
details, and one or two shiftings of scene, may, perhaps, be not unfitly
regarded something in the light of a dilapidated old tombstone

Well aware that in your Highness’ eyes the merit of the story must be in
its general fidelity to the main drift of the original narrative, I
forbore anywhere to mitigate the hard fortunes of my hero; and
particularly towards the end, though sorely tempted, durst not
substitute for the allotment of Providence any artistic recompense of
poetical justice; so that no one can complain of the gloom of my closing
chapters more profoundly than myself.

Such is the work, and such, the man, that I have the honor to present to
your Highness.  That the name here noted should not have appeared in the
volumes of Sparks, may or may not be a matter for astonishment; but
Israel Potter seems purposely to have waited to make his, popular advent
under the present exalted patronage, seeing that your Highness,
according to the definition above, may, in the loftiest sense, be deemed
the Great Biographer:  the national commemorator of such of the anonymous
privates of June 17, 1775, who may never have received other requital
than the solid reward of your granite.

Your Highness will pardon me, if, with the warmest ascriptions on this
auspicious occasion, I take the liberty to mingle my hearty
congratulations on the recurrence of the anniversary day we celebrate,
wishing your Highness (though indeed your Highness be somewhat
prematurely gray) many returns of the same, and that each of its
summer’s suns may shine as brightly on your brow as each winter snow
shall lightly rest on the grave of Israel Potter.

Your Highness’ Most devoted and obsequious,


JUNE 17th, 1854.



I. The birthplace of Israel

II.  The youthful adventures of Israel

III.  Israel goes to the wars; and reaching Bunker Hill in time to be of service there, soon after is forced to extend his travels across the sea into the enemy’s land

IV.  Further wanderings of the Refugee, with some account of a good knight of Brentford who befriended him

V. Israel in the Lion’s Den

VI.  Israel makes the acquaintance of certain secret friends of America, one of them being the famous author of the “Diversions of Purley.”  These despatch him on a sly errand across the Channel

VII.  After a curious adventure upon the Pont Neuf, Israel enters the presence of the renowned sage, Dr. Franklin, whom he finds right learnedly and multifariously employed

VIII.  Which has something to say about Dr. Franklin and the Latin Quarter

IX.  Israel is initiated into the mysteries of lodging-houses in the Latin Quarter

X. Another adventurer appears upon the scene

XI.  Paul Jones in a reverie

XII.  Recrossing the Channel, Israel returns to the Squire’s abode—­His adventures there

XIII.  His escape from the house, with various adventures following

XIV.  In which Israel is sailor under two flags, and in three ships, and all in one night

XV.  They sail as far as the Crag of Ailsa

XVI.  They look in at Carrickfergus, and descend on Whitehaven

XVII.  They call at the Earl of Selkirk’s, and afterwards fight the ship-of-war Drake

XVIII.  The Expedition that sailed from Groix

XIX.  They fight the Serapis.

XX.  The Shuttle

XXI.  Samson among the Philistines

XXII.  Something further of Ethan Allen; with Israel’s flight towards the wilderness

XXIII.  Israel in Egypt

XXIV.  Continued

XXV.  In the City of Dis

XXVI.  Forty-five years

XXVII.  Requiescat in pace

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.