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aprons, walking at a respectful distance behind over the rocks and cliffs at the entrance of the their master to meeting, was not an unpleasant harbor. sight !” Joseph Jacobs was the only possessor Here met a society not unworthy so fair a palof a thermometer upon the island, and so precise ace of pleasure, if tradition may be believed. The was his punctuality, that the neighbors were wont wealthy and cultivated society of Newport seems to set their clocks and watches as he passed by in those days to have been acknowledged as an to meeting, without speaking to him.
| aristocracy. The social lines were sharply drawn. Godfrey and John Malbone were among the As in provincial towns the rigor of etiquette is chief Newport merchants of this period. The more exacting than in the metropolis, so in the elder, Godfrey, settled in the town about the year colony it is always more observable than in the 1700 ; he engaged in successful enterprises, and mother country. The courtly rector of Trinity fitted out privateers in 1740, during the French alluded from the pulpit to “those who moved in and Spanish war. A rough, bold, sea-faring the higher spheres." man, ready to trade in slaves or rum, and to send No bold innovator as yet discussed a possible privateers to the Spanish main, he is undoubted- revolution. Not even the gentle and humane ly a good type of the Newport merchant of that | Berkeley, planning proselyting colleges on Sumperiod. There were two hundred vessels in the mer Islands, had dreamed of a Democracy. Upon foreign trade, three or four hundred coasting the other side of the sea, the great apostle of the vessels, and a regular line of London packets modern movement, Jean Jacques Rousseau, himBetween two and three thousand seamen thronged self was at this time just emancipated from the the docks, which extended a mile along the har- thraldom of Madame de Warens, and the French bor. There was no storage sufficient for the ac- Secretary of Embassy at Venice was not yet ready cumulating riches. The harvests and produce of to prefer a savage life and country to the splendid the East and West Indies piled the wharves. shores of the Adriatic. Crates of bananas, of oranges, of all the south- Vaucluse, the residence of Samuel Elam, now ern fruits lay in the yards of the houses, with of Thomas R. Hazard, was another of the fine turtle from the Bahamas, waiting to be cooked. places of that day. It is situated upon the eastern Colonel Gibbs, one of the chief merchants, had side of the island, about five miles from the town, a negro cook, Cudjo, who prepared his master's and is the only estate remaining which has still dinners, and was loaned to the lesser neighbors some savor of its past prosperity. The entertainupon their state occasions. He educated a fam-ments at both these places, no less than those ily of cooks in Colonel Gibbs' kitchen, and the of the Overings, Bannisters, and the gentlemen epicures from every quarter were the debtors of of the Narragansett shore opposite, are rememCudjo.
bered as magnificent. It was the broad English At a period a little later than this, and proba- style of hospitality, abundant, loud, and, doubtless, bly of Cudjo himself, Dr. Channing says, “When a little coarse and rude. Prodigious oaths echoed I was young, the luxury of eating was carried to probably along the stately halls of the Malbones, the greatest excess in Newport. My first notion, and choice wines flowed at the dinners of Vauindeed, of glory was attached to an old black cluse. The story of the destruction of the Malcook, whom I saw to be the most important per- bone house, illustrates the spirit of the time. It sonage in town. He belonged to the household had cost a hundred thousand dollars, which was of my uncle, and was in great demand wherever not a small sum of money in a time and place there was to be a dinner.” Seventeen manufac- where a man lived well upon five hundred dollars tories of sperm-oil and candles worked with such a year. But in the year 1766, as the slaves were success, that Crevecæur says “they make sperm-cooking a dinner—to which Colonel Malbone had acetti candles better than wax."
bidden the best company of the island—the wood Noble mansions, spacious and elaborate gar- work around the kitchen chimney took fire, and, dens arose and adorned the island and the town. although the house was of Connecticut stone, the The country-house of Colonel Godfrey Malbone, fames soon had possession. Romance now takes which was commenced in 1744, was famous as up the fact, and proceeding in a strain accordant the finest residence in the colonies. It was built with the style of the man and his life, relates that of stone, two stories high, with a circular stair- | Colonel Malbone, seeing the inevitable destruction, case leading to the cupola, the cost of which was declared that if he must lose his house, he would reputed to be equal to that of an ordinary dwell- not lose his dinner; and, as it was early summer, ing-house. The house was within a mile of ordered the feast to be spread upon the lawn, Newport, and the farm of six hundred acres where he and his guests ate their dinner by the sloped gently toward the bay. The garden yet | light of the burning house. gives a name to the estate upon which now stands The society of the Narragansett shore opposite the mansion of J. Prescott Hall. According to was not less distinguished, and was in constant tradition this garden was elaborately laid out ; intercourse with that of the island. Capable turanges of banks and terraces alternated with tors and accomplished clergymen were the teachplots of flowers, and hedges of shrubbery, and ers of the boys who afterward graduated at groups of rare trees; silver and gold fish swam Harvard or Yale, and there were good schools in artificial ponds; while over this mingled for the girls in Boston. The constant presence beauty the eye swept across the bay to the blue in the island of intelligent strangers, at once line of the opposite shore, or saw the sea flashing piqued and gratified natural curiosity, and thus, without traveling, the inhabitants of Newport himself as the next friend of the late lamented enjoyed the benefit of travel. Many of the Cranston; and at length raising his hat, pointleading men upon both sides of the bay had ing to a scar upon his forehead, “he gave her large and valuable libraries, and the collection a significant look," and asked her if she ever in the Redwood Library was rich in many de- saw that mark before.” The lady threw herpartments.
self into his arms—“You are my own, own," Ancient Narragansett was distinguished for its etc., while Mr. Russell and the clergyman were frank and generous hospitality." There were few waiting in another room for the bride and the public houses. Gentlemen and strangers staid with ceremony. She entered, presently, “gracetheir friends, or brought letters which secured them fully leaning on the arm of Mr. Cranston”— ample attention. The tavern of “Uncle Tom explanations were made, while “a Mr. RusTownsend”—the “ Townsend's” of later days— sell of Boston” insisted, with suspicious alacrity, was a two-story house, where ardent spirits were that the ceremony binding her irrevocably to her sold, where the Judges stopped upon the circuit, first husband should be immediately repeated, and and chance travelers staid. It is doubtless the bestowed upon her the portion he had intended house where Brissot de Warville lodged in 1788, to settle upon her as his wife. "The scene," and which he describes as full of travelers and says the chronicler, more literal than elegant, sailors, whose conversation became so irksome was worthy of the chisel of the artist, and proto him that he was obliged to retreat into a small duced emotions of delight in the minds of the cabinet, where he could read and write undis- guests.” turbed, and it is doubtless to the noisy and dull It was only a few years later, when this prostalk of the travelers and sailors at “Uncle Tom's,” | perity had not yet begun to decline, that Crevethat we owe much of the dreary account, which caur writes : “The harbor of Newport is one of we shall presently consider, given by that famous the best in every respect ... ... The roads are French revolutionary worthy.
planted with acacias and plane-trees. There are In May, “the nobility and gentry” went to abundant fountains every where; fields rich with Hartford to eat “ bloated salmon ;" and the corn- harvest ; meadows of ample pasturage ; and the husking was the famous autumn festival upon the houses singularly neat and convenient...... The island and in Narragansett. Masters and slaves head of the island toward the sea offers a singular participated in this festivity. “Gentlemen in mixture of picturesque rocks, little fertile fields, their scarlet coats and swords, with laced ruffles sterility and abundance, sand and rich soil, pleasover their hands, hair turned back from the fore-ant bays and rough cliffs. A man can farm with head, and curled and frizzled, clubbed and cued one hand and fish with the other...... Here is behind, highly powdered and pomatumed, with the best blood in America, and the beauty of the s nall-clothes, silk stockings, and shoes orna- women, the hospitality of the inhabitants, the mented with brilliant buckles; and ladies dressed in sweet society, and the simplicity of their amusebrcade, cushioned head-dresses, and high-heeled ments, have always prolonged my stay.” shɔes, performed the formal minuet with its thirty- From 1730 to the Revolution, Newport was at six different positions and changes.” Nor were the height of its prosperity. New York, New the sports of old England unknown to the colony. Haven, and New London greatly depended upon “ The fox-chase, with hounds and horns," echoed it for their foreign supplies. During these years, over the island, as Bishop Berkeley intimates in James Franklin, who had published the New th: Minute Philosopher : “A few moments after, England Courant in Boston, and had offended we heard a confused noise of the opening of the government, removed to Newport, bringing hounds, the winding of horns, and the shouts of with him his types and press. His brother, Benthe country squires"—a glimpse of life that might jamin, who had been learning his trade in his have tempted Squire Western himself to try the Western wilds.
A romantic tradition belongs to these days, of the return of Samuel Cranston, Esq., a Newporter of consideration, who, upon a West India voyage, was seized and enslaved by pirates. Making his escape, and returning to his native town, after seven years of absence and bondage, he learned that his wife, long since deeming herself a widow, was to be married to “a Mr. Russell of Boston.” According to the strict proprieties of such tales, the hapless husband reached his home on the very day of the nuptials, and knocked at his own door, tattered, weary, and forlorn, at the moment when his “lovely and adored wife" was arraying herself for her second vows. He introduced
brother's office, went to Philadelphia. In New- read by Major John Handy, at the time of its port, James commenced the Rhode Island Ga- adoption, who, fifty years afterward, upon the zette, which did not succeed, and he disappeared, 4th of July, 1826, read it again from the same leaving his wife and his press behind him. In place. 1758 his son James established the Newport To these prosperous days in Rhode Island hisMercury, a paper which is still published, and in tory belongs the career of Ezra Stiles, who lived the office of which, after many removals and vi- in Newport from 1755 to 1776. He graduated cissitudes, stands the press of James Franklin, at Yale in 1746, and was attracted to Newport by the elder, which he imported from England, and the advantages offered to the theological student at which Benjamin Franklin learned his trade. by the Redwood Library. He became pastor of The present editor of the Mercury a descendant the Second Congregational Church and Redwood of families famous in Newport annals, has pre- librarian, and remained in the town nearly twenty pared a volume which he has himself copiously years. In 1788 he was made President of Yale and accurately illustrated, and which is by far the College, whose library contains thirty manuscript best hand-book of Newport history and tradition. volumes of his diary. “This country has not, per
In 1756, Dr. William Hunter—who had married haps, produced a more learned man," says Dr. a daughter of Godfrey Malbone, and whose own Channing. “His virtues were proportioned to daughters were famous belles, as we shall see, his intellectual acquisition." Newport loved Dr. one of the distinguished physicians of an eminent Stiles, and his occasional visits after his departure faculty, among whom are to be named Halibur- were festivals. “In my earliest years I regarded ton, Moffat, Brett, Hooper, and Isaac Senter, of no human being with equal reverence," conwhom Dr. Channing says, “His figure rises be- cludes Dr. Channing, indulging in the natural fore me......as a specimen of manly beauty, and tender local reminiscences of his childhood. worthy of the chisel of a Grecian sculptor”-de- The other eminent divine associated with Stiles livered the first course of anatomical and surgical and Callender with Newport of the last century, was lectures in the colonies, in the Court-house, Samuel Hopkins, the founder of the Hopkinsian which had been erected just before. This old school of orthodoxy. He settled in Newport in building stands at the head of the Parade, and 1769, and with Puritan sternness, and natural inhas all the quaint, solid dignity of a Flemish tellectual independence, sought "to reconcile Caltown-hall. During the British and French oc-vinism with its essential truths.” “Other Calvincupation it was used as a hospital, and in the ists were willing that their neighbors should be lower room the French erected an altar to say predestined to everlasting misery for the glory of mass for the sick and dying. It is from the bal- God. This noble-minded man demanded a more cony of this building that the High Sheriff generous and impartial virtue, and maintained that annually requests “gentlemen to please to take we should consent to our own perdition .... if notice that His Excellency Richard Roe is elected the greatest good of the universe, and the maniGovernor for the year ensuing. God save the festation of the Divine perfections should so reState of Rhode Island, and Providence Planta-quire.” This doctrine was not altogether agreetions !” A sly story is told of a sheriff who, be able to the Newporters, and a meeting of his ing a friend of Richard Roe, was yet compelled Society discussed the Doctor's preaching, and to announce that the opposition candidate, His finally resolved to intimate to him their willingExcellency John Doe, was elected Governor; and ness that he should leave. But when, upon the concluded the proclamation with, “God save the next Sunday, he preached a farewell sermon, the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations parish were so interested and impressed that for the year ensuing !" From the balcony of this they entreated him to remain. “His name is State House the Declaration of Independence was associated with a stern and appalling theology,"
but he preserved the old Puritan traditions, and represented the severe and indomitable spirit of the early New England clergy. A profound student, he was sometimes engaged for eighteen hours of the day with his studies, and died, in Newport, an honored and good man, in December, 1803.
In the church records of Narragansett, or Kingston, a town upon the main, opposite Newport, it appears that, “ April 11th, 1756, being Palm Sunday, Doctor M.Sparran read prayers, preached, and baptized a child named Gilbert Stewart, son of Gilbert Stewart, the snuff-grinder.” Mrs. Stewart was
daughter of the Anthony who sold STATE AND COURT-HOUSE.
the farm to Berkeley, which he called Whitehall, and she was born at that place. , fied, and destroyed it. The second one was sucThe snuff scheme in which his father was con- cessful. He offered it to the State of Massachucerned failed, and while Stuart (the name is setts, says Dunlap, for one thousand dollars. It now thus written) was yet a young child his was declined, and remained in his studio until father removed to Newport. When he was thir- purchased by the Boston Atheneum of his widow. teen years old he began to copy pictures, and from this head the many Washingtons of Stuart a mysterious Scotchman, Mr. Cosmo Alexander, were painted. In 1826 he made his last visit arrived in Newport in 1772, and painted por- to his birth-place, and returned through Newtraits. According to Dunlap, “he soon put port to Boston, where he died in July, 1828. His on canvas the Hunters, the Keiths, the Fergusons, daughter still resides in Newport, and her copies the Grants, and the Hamiltons." Mr. Alexander of her father's portraits of Washington are extaught the young Gilbert, and finally took him to tolled. But of Stuart's pictures there only reScotland. Within a year he was back again in main in Newport the Washington in the CourtRhode Island, and “commenced portrait-painter house, and two portraits in the Redwood Library, in form." But he was a capricious youth. It painted at the age of fifteen. Stuart Newton was always either “ high-tide or low-tide" with / was a son of Stuart's sister. him, and his whims were annoying and inex- From a society so largely engaged in commerce, plicable. To the dismay of Newport he de- which would appeal to their interest, and whose clined to paint a full-length portrait of Abraham trade was greatly in slaves and liquor, which Redwood for the Redwood Library. Newport would not tend to refine their feelings, it would was full of the Quaker spirit and influence, which be natural to expect a reluctant sympathy with exasperated a youth ardently devoted to the Muses. the early resistance to English aggression. But ** You have no more taste for music than a jack- already in 1768 it appears that many in Newport ass," he cried to Benjamin Waterhouse, not yet had resolved to dispense with foreign goods. A a doctor nor a centenarian ; "and it is all owing New York paper of May in that year says, “In to your stupid Quaker education."
Newport one married lady and her daughter have The war came, and portraits were not wanted, spun full sixty yards of good, fine linen cloth, and the young man resolved to sail for Europe. nearly a yard wide, since the first of March, beBut he spent most of the night before he left New- sides taking care of a large family ;" and the port under a lady's window, playing tender fare- editor exhorts all his townswomen to emulate this wells upon his flute. He left for England ten days example of practical independence of England. before the battle of Bunker Hill, and his father, In July, 1769, the armed sloop Liberty was sent to who had been brought from Scotland expressly to Newport, from Boston, to enforce the revenue make snuff, and whose royalist tendencies were laws. The conduct of her officers by no means indicated by naming his son Gilbert Charles Stu-won the esteem of the Newporters, who resolved art—although the son always dropped the middle to express their indignation upon occasion of the name-fled to Nova Scotia, whither his wife and ill-treatment by the Liberty's officers of the capher remaining children followed him from New- tain of a Connecticut brig, which had been seized port. In England, Stuart became West's pupil. and brought in, together with a sloop. ThacitiFuseli, upon seeing some of his drawings, said zens, meeting Captain Reid, of the Liberty, upon to him, “ If this is the best you can do, you had the wharf, demanded that the chief offender in better go and make shoes." But before he knew the fray should be sent on shore for punishment. Stuart, Fuseli one day entered an engraver's The captain obeyed, and directed the surrender; shop where the young man was standing, and the but the criminal did not come, although all the engraver, telling him privately that he knew him men of the Liberty except the mate were sent on to be “a great physiognomist," asked him if he shore. A party of Newporters then repaired to thought the youth might paint. “Umph," said the Liberty, cut her cables, and suffered her to Fuseli, “I don't know but he might-he has a drift off and ground, while her boats were burned coot leg.” After he had painted West's portrait, upon the Parade. A few days afterward the which was greatly admired, West said to Stu-wreck was struck by lightning, took fire, and was art, “You have done well-all you have to do is consumed. This was among the very first moveto go home and do better.” Dr. Johnson, with ments, if not the first, of rebellious opposition to Enthe incomprehensible ignorance about America gland. Three years later the Gaspee was destroy. of some modern Englishmen, had expressed sur-ed; and in 1773 the Bostonians threw the tea into prise to West that Stuart spoke so good En- the harbor. In May, 1775, and during the year, Adglish, and, turning to the young man, wished to miral Wallace commanded the British fleet in Narknow where he had learned it. “ Not from your ragansett Bay, and destroyed every building upon dictionary," replied the intrepid painter. In 1784 Prudence Island, beside bombarding Bristol. he was a fashionable artist in London, and his It was now clear that serious troubles were portraits occupied the best places in the Exhibi- | impending, and the high society of Newport betion." He lived in splendor, and was the gayest gan to take the alarm. The habit of loyalty and of the gay." His daughter says that his great the aristocratic feeling were very strong with desire to paint a portrait of General Washington / many of the chief citizens, and Joseph Wanton, " was his only inducement to turn his back on his Esq., suspected of too great sympathy with Engood fortune in Europe." In 1794 he painted gland, was degraded from the office of Governor. his first portrait of Washington, but was dissatis. In the spring of 1776 Wallace was driven out of the harbor of Newport, by a vigorous attack, assisted ment advanced, and declared itself ready to acby the Providence troops. But in December of company him. On the 4th of July, 1777, the the same year arrived the British fleet under Sir party left Tiverton, and crossed to the western Peter Parker. It sailed up the West Passage, shore of the bay. At nine o'clock on the evening crossed from the north point of Conanicut, and of the 9th July they left Warwick-neck in the landed an army of 8000 or 10,000 English and whale-boats. That of Major Barton went in Hessians, commanded by General Clinton and front, and was distinguished from the others by Lord Percy, in Middletown, about five miles from a handkerchief tied to a pole in the stern. The Newport. The army immediately began to plun- little fleet dropped silently down the bay, between der, and was quartered upon the inhabitants until the islands of Patience and Prudence. In the May, 1777, when Clinton and Percy, with a large stillness of night they heard the drowsy call of part, left for New York, and General Prescott “ All's well” from the sentries on the English succeeded to the command. He made himself ships, and as they touched the shore of Rhode obnoxious by petty tyranny, but Major Barton Island a sound as of running horses was heard. revenged the injuries of the island by a feat of It was too late to be alarmed, and the party landmemorable ingenuity and valor.
ed in silence, Major Barton detailing one man to Barton was on duty with the Rhode Island remain in each boat. They landed about a mile line, and after the capture of General Lee, in from the head-quarters of General Prescott, and November, 1776, he considered how he might crept toward it in five divisions. There were retort upon the enemy, and resolved to capture three doors to the house on the south, the east, Prescott. When the English landed, Major Barton and the west. One division was to advance upon was stationed at Tiverton, upon the main-land, not each door, the fourth was to guard the road, and far from the shore of Rhode Island. He waited the fifth act as a reserve. for several months, but found no fit opportunity, As they reached the house they were chaluntil a British deserter was brought in to his lenged by the sentinel. quarters. Barton ascertained from him the situ- “Friends," said Barton. ation of Prescott's head-quarters, and all the “Advance and give the countersign," was the necessary details, and prepared to put his plan reply. immediately into execution. He and his men “D-n you, we have no countersign. Have you were new to the service, and failure was perma- seen any deserters to-night?" said Barton, advancnent disgrace, as he well knew ; but without a ing upon the sentry, seizing his musket, telling moment's hesitation he selected his companions him that he was a prisoner, and threatening him from the officers, told them the scope of the un- with instant death if he betrayed them by making dertaking, and engaged their confidence and sym- a noise. The sentry said that the General was in pathy. Five whale-boats were procured and the house. Each division had now reached its fitted. At the last moment Barton addressed his station ; the doors were forced, and the soldiers soldiers, and said that he wished the voluntary rushed up stairs into the chamber of the host. assistance of about forty men. The whole regi- He was speechless with fright, and pointed to the