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LXIX. - THE BOSTON TEA CATASTROPHE.
THOMAS CARLYLE was born in Dumfriesshire, in Scotland, in 1796, and has resided for many years in or near London. While quite young, he wrote several papers for Brewster's “Edinburgh Encyclopædia”; but he first began to attract attention by liis contributions to the “Edinburgh Review,” and especially by an admirable paper ou Burns. He rose by degrees into great popularity and commanding influence as a writer, but was known and valued at an earlier period in America than at home. His works are quite numerous : among them are a “ Life of Schiller,” “Sartor Resartus,” a “History of the French Revolution,” Past and Present,” “Hero-Worship," · Latter-Day Pamphlets,” a “Life of Sterling,” “The Life and Letters of Cromwell,” “Chartism,” and several volumes of contributions to periodical literature.
Carlyle is an original thinker and a powerful writer. His early and familiar acquaintance with the literature of Germany has given a peculiar character to his style, by which some are repelled and some are attracted; the latter being now the larger part. Portions of his later writings read like literal translations from the German. He is fond of odd terms of expression, and has a family of pet words, which he introduces on all occasions. His style is thus very marked, and never to be mistaken for that of any other author. His writings are not easy reading at first; but those who like them at all like them much.
The following extract is from the “History of Frederick the Great,” Vol. VI. pp. 406, 407. YURIOUS to remark, while Frederick is writing this
letter, “ Thursday, December 16, 1773," what a commotion is going on, far over seas, at Boston, New England, in the “Old South Meeting-house” there, in regard to three English tea-ships that are lying embargoed in Griffin's Wharf, for above a fortnight past. The case is well known, and still memorable to mankind.
British Parliament, after nine years of the saddest haggling and baffling to and fro, under constitutional stress of weather, and such east winds and west winds of Parliamentary eloquence as seldom were, has made up its mind that America shall pay duty on these teas before infusing them; and America, Boston more especially, is tacitly determined that it will not; and that, to avoid mistakes, these teas shall never be landed at all. Such is Boston's private intention, more or less fixed, - to say
nothing of the Philadelphias, Charlestons, New Yorks, who are watching Boston, and will follow suite of it.
Sunday, November 26th, – that is, nineteen days ago, , - the first of these tea-ships, the “Dartmouth,” Captain Hall, moored itself in Griffin's Wharf. Owner and consignee is a broad-brimmed Boston gentleman called Rotch, more attentive to profits of trade than to the groans of Boston; but already on that Sunday, much more on the Monday following, there had a meeting of citizens run together (on Monday Faneuil Hall won't hold them, and they adjourn to the Old South Meeting-house), who make it apparent to Rotch that it will much behove him, for the sake both of tea and skin, not to “ ter” (or officially announce) this ship “Dartmouth” at the custom-house in any wise; but to pledge his broadbrimmed word, equivalent to his oath, that she shall lie dormant there in Griffin's Wharf, till we see.
Which, accordingly, she has been doing ever since; she and two others that arrived some days later, dormant all three of them, side by side, three crews totally idle; a Committee of Ten” supervising Rotch's procedures; and the Boston world much expectant. Thursday, December 16th : this is the twentieth day since Rotch's “ Dartmouth" arrived here; if not "entered” at custom-house in the course of this day, custom-house cannot give her a
clearance either (a leave to depart); she becomes a smuggler, an outlaw, and her fate is mysterious to Rotch and to us.
This Thursday, accordingly, by ten in the morning, in the Old South Meeting-house, Boston is assembled, and country people to the number of 2,000; and Rotch was never in such a company of human friends before. They are not uncivil to him (cautious people, heedful of the
verge of the law); but they are peremptory, to the extent of — Rotch may shudder to think what.
“I went to the custom-house yesterday,” said Rotch, "your Committee of Ten can bear me witness, and demanded clearance and leave to depart; but they would not: were forbidden, they said.” “Go, then, sir; get you to the governor himself; a clearance, and out of harbor this day ; had n't you better ?” Rotch is well aware that he had; hastens off to the governor (who has vanished to his country-house on purpose). Old South Meetinghouse adjourning till 3 P. M., for Rotch's return with clearance.
At three no Rotch, nor at four, nor at five; miscellaneous plangent,* intermittent speech instead, mostly plangent, in tone sorrowful rather than indignant; at a quarter to six, here at length is Rotch; sun is long since set, has Rotch a clearance or not?
Rotch reports at large, willing to be questioned and cross-questioned: "Governor absolutely would not ! My Christian friends, what could I or can I do?” There are by this time 7,000 people in Old South Meeting-house; very few tallow lights in comparison, -- almost no lights for the mind either, and it is difficult to answer.
Rotch's report done, the chairman (one Adams,“ American Cato," subsequently so called) “dissolves the sorrowful 7,000,” with these words: “This meeting declares that it can do nothing more to save the country.” Will merely go home, then, and weep. Hark, however: almost on the instant, in front of Old South Meeting-house, a terrific war-whoop; and about fifty Mohawk Indians, — with whom Adams seems to be acquainted, and speaks without interpreter. Aha!
* Plangent: literally, dashing, as the waves of the sea; here, sad and monotonous,
And, sure enough, before the stroke of seven, these fifty painted Mohawks are forward, without noise, to Griffin's Wharf; have put sentries all round there; and, in a great silence of the neighborhood, are busy, in three gangs, on the dormant tea-ships, opening their chests and punctually shaking them out into the sea. "Listening from the distance, you could hear the ripping open of the chests and no other sound.” About 10 P. M., all was finished; 342 chests of tea flung out to infuse in the Atlantic; the fifty Mohawks gone like a dream; and Boston sleeping more silently even than usual.
LXX. — INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY.
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH was born at Cockermouth, in the county of Cumberland, England, April 7, 1770 ; and died April 23, 1850. His life was passed for the most part in that beautiful region of England where he was born, and with which so much of his poetry is inseparably associated. He made his first appearance as an author in 1793, by the publication of a thin quarto volume of poems, which did not attract much attention. Indeed, for many years his poetry made little impression on the general public, and that not of a favorable kind. The “Edinburgh Review” – the great authority in matters of literary taste - set its face against him; and Wordsworth's own style and manner were so peculiar, and so unlike those of the poetry which was popular at the time, that he was obliged to create the taste by which he himself was judged. As time went on, his influence and popularity increased, and many years before his death he enjoyed a fame and consideration which in calmness and serenity resembled the unbiased judgment of posterity.
Wordsworth's character was pure and high. He was reserved in manner, and some what exclusive in his tastes and sympathies; but his friends were warmly attached to him. His domestic affections were strong and deep.
His Life has been published, since his decease, hy his nephew, the Rev. Christopher Wordsworth, and republished in this country. In Coleridge's “ Biographia Literaria,” there is an admirable review of his poetical genius, in which praise is bestowed generously and discriminately, and defects are pointed out with a loving and reverent hand.
THERE was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
To me did seem
Appareled in celestial light,
By night or day,
Thy rainbow comes and goes,
The moon doth with delight
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
But yet I know, where'er I go,
Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,
And while the young lambs bound
As to the tabor's sound,
And I again am strong.
And all the earth is gay ;
Land and sea
And with the heart of May
beast keep holiday ; Thou child of joy, Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy shepherd