Imagini ale paginilor



AMONG the prisoners taken at the battle of Hoosac, by the Americans, was an inhabitant of Hancock, in the county of Berkshire, a plain farmer, named Jackson. This man had conscientiously token the side of the British in the revolutionary contest, and felt himself bound to seize the earliest opportunity of employing himself in the service of his king. Hearing that Colonel Baum, a British officer, was advancing with a body of troops towards Bennington in Vermont, he rose early, saddled his horse, and rode to Hoosac, intending to attach himself to his corps.

Here he was taken prisoner in such circumstances as proved his intention, beyond every reasonable doubt. He was, besides, too honest to deny it.' Accordingly, he was committed to the charge of the high sheriff of the county, who immediately confined him in the county jail. This building was at that time so infirm, that, without a guard, no prisoner could be kept in it, who wished to escape. But to escape, however, was in no degree consonant with Jackson's idea of right; and he thought no more seriously of making an attempt of this nature, than he would have done in his own house.

After he had lain quietly in jail a few days, he told the sheriff that he was losing his time and earning nothing, and wished that he would permit him to go out and work in the day time, promising to return regularly at evening to his quarters in the prison. The


sheriff having become acquainted with his character, readily acceded to his proposal. Accordingly Jackson went out regularly during the remaining part of the autumn, and the following winter and spring until the beginning of May, and every evening returned, at the proper time, to the jail.

In this manner he performed a day's work every day, with scarcely any exception besides the Sabbath, through the whole period. In the month of May, he was to be tried for high treason. The sheriff made preparations to conduct him to Springfield, where he was to be tried. But he told the sheriff, that it was not worth his while to take this trouble, for he could just as well go alone, and it would save both the expense and the inconvenience of the sheriff's journey.

The sheriff, after a little reflection, assented to his proposal, and Jackson commenced his journey - the only one, it is believed, which was eyer undertaken, in the same manner for the same object. While on his journey, he was overtaken by the Honorable T. Ed-: wards, from whom this account was received. Whither are you going.” said Mr. Edwardsik "To Springfield, sir,” answered Jackson, to be tried for my life.” Accordingly, he proceeded directly to Springfield, súrrendered himself to the sheriff there was trịed, found guilty, and condemmed to die.

Application was made to the executive council for pardon. The facts were stàted, the evidence by which they were supported, and the sentence, grounded on them. The question was then put by the president, “Shall a pardon be granted to Jackson?" The gentleman who first spoke, observed that the case was per

[ocr errors]


fectly clear; the act charged against Jackson was unquestionably high treason; and the proof was complete. If a pardon be granted in this case, he saw no reason why it should not be granted in every other.

In the same manner answered those who spoke after him. When it came to the turn of Mr. Edwards, who was one of the council, he related this story, with those little circumstances of particularity, which give light and shade a living reality. At the same time, he evidently made no effort to be pathetic, As is always the case, this simplicity gave the narration its full force. The council began to hesitate. One of the members at length observed, "Surely, such a man as this ought not to be sent to the gallows.” To this opinion, the members unanimously agreed. A pardon was immediately made out and transmitted to Springfield, and Jackson returned to his family. Never was exhibited a stronger proof, that honesty is wisdom.



[ocr errors]

THE Active, stoop of war, had been lying all day becalmed, in mid ocean, and was rolling and pitching about in a heavy ground swell, which was the only trace left of the gale she had lately encountered. The sky was of as tender and serene a blue as if it had never been deformed with clouds, and the atmosphere was bland and pleasant. To a true sailor there are

a few circumstances more annoying than a perfect calm.

On the afternoon in question, this feeling of restlessness at the continuance of the calm was not confined to the crew of the Active. Her commander had been-nearly all day on deck, walking to and fro, on the starboard side, with quick impatient strides, or now stepping into one gangway, and now into the other, and casting anxious and searching looks into all quarters of the heavens, as if it were of the utmost consequence that a breeze should spring up and enable him to pursue his way.

But notwithstanding his impatience, and the urgency of his mission, whatever it was, the Active continued to roll-heavily about at the sport of the big round billows, which swelled up and spread and tumbled over so lazily, that their glassy surfaces were not broken by a ripple. The sun went down clear, but red and fiery; and the sky, though its blue faded to a duskier tint, still remained unflecked by a single cloud.

“We shall have a dull and lazy night of it, Vangs," said the master's mate.

The person he addressed stood on the heel of the bowsprit, with his arms folded on his breast, and his gaze fixed intently on the western horizon, from which the daylight had so completely faded, that it required a practised and keen eye to discern where the sky and water met. He did not turn his head, nor withdraw his eyes from the spot they rested on, as he said, in a low tone, “ We shall have work enough before morning.”

[ocr errors]

“ Turn your eye in that direction, Mr. Garnet. Do you not see a faint belt of light, no broader than my finger, that streaks the sky where the sun went down? It is not daylight, for I watched that all fade away, and the last glimmer of it was gone before that dim brassy streak began to show itself. And carry your eye in a straight line above it - do you not mark how thick and lead-like the air looks? There is that there." said the old man,“ will try what stuff these sticks are made of before the morning breaks.”

“Is there then really any prospect of wind?" asked the midshipman.

“Let it come butt-end foremost, if it chooses, and the sooner the better,” said young Burton, laughing.

The old quarter-master turned a grave and thoughtful look on the round face of the lively boy, and seemed meditating an answer that might repress what probably struck him as untimely mirth; but even while he was in the act to speak, the tempest he had predicted burst in sudden fury upon the vessel. The first indication those below had of its approach, was the wild rushing sound of the gust, which broke upon their ears like the roar of a volcano. The heaving and rolling of the ship ceased all at once, as if the waves had been subdued and chained down by the force of a mighty pressure.

The vessel stood motionless an instant, as if instinct with life, and cowering in conscious fear of the approaching strife; the tempest then burst upon her, and the stately mass reeled and fell over before it, like a tower struck down by a thunder-bolt. The surge was so violent that the ship was thrown almost on her

« ÎnapoiContinuă »