Obrázky stránek

in every station of his life, public and private, will ever make his memory dear to those who knew him, and knew how to value him." Francis was the first student entered at the College of Philadelphia, now the University of the State of Pennsylvania, from which he was graduated with honor before his admittance to the bar. Early in the year 1766 he visited England, spending much of his time at Hartlebury Castle, the seat of his granduncle, the bishop, and returning to America toward the close of 1767. In the arts of music and painting, to which he devoted his leisure moments, Francis attained to a creditable degree of proficiency. Writing from Philadelphia in 1776, John Adams expresses a hope that he shall see a portrait of "Miss Keys, a famous New Jersey beauty," which was made by Mr. Hopkinson's own hand. I have a curiosity," he adds, "to pry a little deeper into the bosom of this curious gentleman." Francis * died suddenly in May, 1791, having survived his father-in-law, Colonel Borden, but a few weeks.

The year after the fiasco of the kegs, a British force was sent from Philadelphia to White Hill, just below Bordentown, to capture a number of vessels which, in violation of Washington's orders, had not been sunk. When the flat-boats arrived, with six or eight hundred red-coats aboard, it was found that the shipping had been fired. An attack was then made on Bordentown, several shots from the river warning the villagers that resistance would be unwise. None was attempted, and the troops debarked. Colonel Borden's property, diagonally opposite his father's house, is said to have been pointed out by Polly Riché, † a beautiful girl, whose tory proclivities had estranged her from the patriots of the place. Not only the colonel's residence and another dwelling nearer the bluff, but all the other buildings on the place, including stables and carriage-houses, were burned to the ground. While old

He was at one time Collector of the Port of Philadelphia, his appointment coming from Lord North, his mother's cousin; and he was the chief delegate from New Jersey to the Provisional Congress which adopted the Declaration of Independence, though his name has long since faded from that "immortal instrument." In after he preyears, pared the great seal of the State of New Jersey. + Miss Polly is said to have been the belle of the British Meschianza, in Philadelphia, which Major André pronounced the most splendid entertainment ever given by an army to its general. She was particularly admired by that steadfast patriot, Benedict Arnold.

[merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small]

the compliment of dining at his house. But that worthy citizen, with other notorious whigs, had fled at the enemy's approach, and returned not till the danger was past. Meanwhile, the patriots of the outlying country, roused by the fire on the bluff, had begun to assemble in force, and the arrival of Colonel Baylor with his light-horse troop was the signal for a hasty departure of the foe. That night the British troops slept on their boats; and, rising betimes the next morning, they prepared for an attack upon Trenton. General Dickinson met them half-way, however, and their plans were changed. Remembering the part Colonel Joseph Kirkbride had played in the Battle of the Kegs, the retreating soldiers landed at Bellevue, the family seat, situated in Penn's Manor, Pennsylvania, and destroyed six valuable out-houses and two dwellings. Crossing over to Bordentown, on the loss of his old home, the colonel built a huge brick house, which now forms a part of the Bordentown Female College. Here he was often visited by his friend, Tom Paine, who conceived a singular affection for the place, and said, "I had rather see my horse Button eating the grass of Bordentown or Morrisania, than see all the pomp and show of Europe."

It was here that Paine constructed the model of that iron bridge which had taken so strong a hold of his imagination;

and here, too, he received the following catch the New York stage. At the latter kindly note:

"ROCKY HILL, Sept. 10, 1783. "I have learned, since I have been at this place, that you are at Bordentown. Whether for the sake of retirement or economy, I know not. Be it for either, for both, or whatever it may, if you will come to this place and partake with me, I shall be exceedingly happy to see you.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Your presence may remind Congress of past services to this country; and, if it is in my power to impress them, command my best exertions with freedom, as they will be rendered cheerfully by one who entertains a lively sense of the importance of your works, and who, with much pleasure, subscribes himself, your sincere friend, G. WASHINGTON."

Paine finally made the purchase of a snug little house in Main street, and occupied it, with few intermissions, during a period of


our Towns mesting hold if Tday of the Diefft month 17,3" att John incors of fedtowers and inhabile Ring their moot wood die hut offers for. They of Aeft field to force for the yter infuing whis Wames are as foloweth nathaniel foils Koson Ginstalls John Arney Chefin overfor of the poors chord Cerby and canit's farm north Chofors ofhigh song

Rew # John moors our Cowns meeting the Monship of cheforte if 5 day of the month 1417 the froho sors and Inhabhis wing that mort and buy they offers for the paid Down to serve for the year infring whof rams Hare as folow cit. Pobert Wright, Afon Constable Samuell farms or the chosen yover four for me pare John heffer and Joseph wood chosen overseers of highwayes for for your Intuing-Art prizat is not here Aft to kid meeting the ficherors and in fathers finding This was crefe poly or to legis plax for to polen the plows other nefolary rises lounging to the faid damn shipm for dsruntonst who whoor meet of y meeting did thus miels Brown Jorin (layton for. Sicks Samite daytor to vais atax the same


several years. His favorite resort was the bar-room of the Washington House; and visitors to that ancient hostelry are told that nothing but brandy and atheism ever passed his lips. On his return from Washington, in 1802, the disheartened patriot stopped for a few hours at Bordentown, and by his steadfast friend, who happened then to be the Republican candidate for Governor, he was driven thence to Trenton in time to

place, strange as it may seem, he was subjected to the grossest indignities; nor did he escape without personal injury from the violence of the mob. And this, not for any infidelity to the cause of freedom, but simply because he had carried into theological discussions that liberty of thought and intrepidity of speech which, in times past, had made him widely popular. Colonel Kirkbride-whose popularity had been much diminished by his adherence to the author of "Common-sense" and the "Age of Reason"-was buried during the year following this episode. Near the marble slab which covers his remains has stood, for sixty years, the tombstone of "Harriet Luttrell, daughter of Henry Lawes Luttrell, Earl of Carhampton," and not far beyond sleeps the grandson of the founder of the town. Captain Joseph Borden, the colonel's only son, had two sisters, "Nancy" and Maria, who, in their prime, were famous for their beauty. Nancy," as we have seen, married Judge Francis Hopkinson. Maria, whose hand was no less eagerly sought, made an equally happy choice. Few civilians won more distinguished honors during the Revolutionary war than fell to the share of her husband, Judge McKean. He was not only one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and, at one time, President of Congress, but he held for twenty years the high office of Chief-Justice of Pennsylvania, and, for a short time, that of Governor of the State; while Delaware, in emulation, made him her President. The judge's daughter was given in marriage, some seventy years ago, to the Marquis of CasaIrujo, a Spanish grandee, who represented his nation at Washington.

[ocr errors]

Joseph Hopkinson inherited the Bordentown homestead when he came of age. This was in 1791. It was some years thereafter that his wife sang, for the first time, to the accompaniment of the harpsichord, the patriotic lines of "Hail Columbia," and still later that the poet Moore addressed to her his "Lines written on leaving Philadelphia." Ten years before he became a man, he might have stood at his father's door and watched a military procession moving briskly down the Trenton road to Main street. There a crowd had gathered, and cheers filled the air as Washington and Rochambeau, attended by their respective suites, swept by. The commander-in-chief was hurrying to Yorktown, where, as he well knew, the decisive movement of the war

[graphic][merged small][subsumed]

was to be made. So, as there is nothing to prove that Washington slept even a single night in Bordentown, the villagers have ever affected a profound contempt for Washingtonian head-quarters and minor relics of the great chieftain, and base their claim to distinction almost solely on the fact that here an exiled king spent many of his happiest years.

Napoleon was once heard to say that, if he were ever forced to abandon France, he would make his home in America, somewhere between New York and Philadelphia, VOL. XXI.-3.

where news from either port would reach him quickly. Two weeks after the battle of Waterloo, he and his elder brother met, for the last time, on the Isle of Aix, and Joseph, in vain, proposed to take the emperor's place. Confident of meeting again in this country, the brothers parted. Napoleon, finding the coast infested with British cruisers, surrendered to the captain of the Bellerophon; but Joseph, under the assumed name of M. Bouchard, boarded the brig Gommerce at Royau, 25th July, 1815, and, though the vessel was thrice searched by


[ocr errors]

rated the point from the wood-crowned height at the western extremity of the park. Through this the creek ebbed and flowed as far as the Trenton road, where it was fed by a shallow, winding brook. Joseph threw a bridge across the bed of the brook, filled up the hollow in the highway, and transformed the marsh into a pretty lake. By the water-side, where the grassy bank was lowest, stood a large white house, with grassgreen shutters, the residence of Prince Charles and his wife Zénaïde. ElseEnglish officers, came safely, on the 28th where, save only on the willow-shaded causeof August, to New York, where he was way between the lake and creek, the ground waited upon by the mayor, who believed him rose abruptly to the level of the park. There to be General Carnot. Having traveled were scattered about other dwellings and throughout the country, and lived for a out-houses, and beyond was an inclosure while at Lansdowne, in Fairmount Park, well stocked with graceful deer. All around Philadelphia, King Joseph, who had taken rose thousands of forest trees, arching over the title of Comte de Survilliers, began the the drives and bridle-paths, filling the ravines purchase of Point Breeze, at Bordentown. with dark, dense foliage, and sheltering the Nowhere in the State could a more charm-hill-side down to the border of the creek. ing site have been found. For nearly a mile, the Crosswicks Creek winds along the northern boundary of the park, fifty feet below the level of the promontory from which, more than a century ago, the grounds received their name. On this promontory Joseph built his house, commanding a fine view of the Delaware, and, in its leafy setting, conspicuous to all who journeyed up and down the stream. Months were spent in clearing the woods of underbrush, rolling the lawn, bridging ravines, building summer-houses and rustic seats, and laying out walks and drives. A strip of marshy ground sepa


*This had long been the home of Stephen Sayre, an American, who went to England long before the Revolution and married a lady of rank. He became a banker, was Under Sheriff of London with William Lee, and enjoyed the friendship of the Earl of Chatham. Yet in October, 1775, he was thrown into the Tower, having been accused of high treason by a fellow-countryman, who was an officer of the Guards. On his release, utterly impoverished, he left the country. Franklin employed him on several missions, and he did yeoman service for the American cause abroad. Some years after peace was declared, he settled at Point Breeze, and was popularly known thereabouts as "the handsome Englishman."

There nature was left untouched, for art could add nothing to her charms.

Much as he loved this country home, the exile passed a part of each year at his house in Philadelphia. But, from the first hard frost in winter till the first warm day in spring, the lake which he had made was the center of village sport and activity. Trim little pleasure-boats no longer darted from shore to shore, nor lay at rest near the broad stone steps that led to the water's edge, and the swans and wild aquatic fowl had sought more comfortable quarters; but,



[graphic][merged small]

in their stead, the frozen surface reflected a thousand graceful forms and ruddy faces, and swayed and groaned beneath the whirling crowd of revelers. On a little island, in the center of the lake, stands an old, gray-haired and kindly man, his back warmed by a blazing fire, and his face turned approvingly on the merry scene around. What a lark it would be to join the skaters in their mad scramble for the fruit rolled out by his direction! But as this may not be, the lord of the manor finds his account in presiding over the sports in which he may not mingle.

One winter morning, some three years after the house on the bluff was built, a visitor locked the door of his bedroom, put the key in his pocket, and started off to Philadelphia, leaving a wood fire blazing on the hearth. Soon a dense cloud of smoke rose above the surrounding trees; half the population of the village poured through the main entrance to the park; farmers and

[ocr errors]

farmers' lads flocked in from miles around, and Joseph, who heard the news at Trenton on his return from a visit to New York, came dashing up the avenue to find his home in flames. Without engines of even the poorest sort, nothing could be done to save the burning walls; and village maids and matrons who, in the excitement of the moment, had formed in line and passed the leathern buckets from hand to hand, were forced, at last, to retire from the scene. Nothing of value was rescued from the upper floors but a few choice paintings, and the house itself was leveled with the ground. From the cellar to the face of the bluff ran a subterranean passage, through which the butler rolled his casks of wine. Some burst in falling, and reddened the waters of the creek. A spacious belvedere, untouched by the flames, stood on the hill-top for many years.

A new dwelling was immediately built much nearer the Trenton road, the Count's

« PředchozíPokračovat »