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but in reality almost line-of-battle ships, as that my proposals are highly advantageous to regards scantling and complement; or, as you, as you cannot proceed to sea singly in seamen said at that time, sixty-fours in dis- the Chesapeake without imminent risk of guise. All the British ships fought most gal being crushed by the superior force of the lantly, and surrendered only after a frightful numerous British squadrons which are now loss of men, and when their shattered bulls abroad, where all your efforts, in a case of were totally helpless and unmanageable. We rencontre, would, however gallant, be perneed not hesitate to say, indeed, that the de- fectly hopeless. I entreat you, sir, not to fence of the three British frigates against imagine that I am urged by mere personal greatly superior antagonists, was at least as vanity, to the wish of meeting the Chesapeake, honorable to them as the victory to the Ame- or that I depend only upon your personal ricans. But their capture caused unparalleled ambition for your acceding to this invitation : excitement both in Great Britain and in Ame. we have both nobler motives. You will feel rica. The public did not then know how it as a compliment if I say, that the result of deadly the odds had been : all they under our meeting may be the most grateful service stood was, that three British frigates had, in I can render to my country; and I doubt not rapid succession, been taken by American that you, equally confident of success, will frigates ; and they were ready to exclaim, feel convinced that it is only by repeated that the prestige of British invincibility at sea triumphs in even combat that your little navy was gone for ever: and that the vigorous can now hope to console your country for the young navy of the United States was more loss of trade that it cannot protect. Favor than a match for the veteran navy of Old me with a speedy reply. We are short of England. It was obvious that something provisions and water, and cannot stay long must be done to turn the scale in our favor, bere.” A more extraordinary and manly letand that something was promptly done in ter never was written. It does honor alike a brilliant style. Among the many brave and to the head and the heart of the writer. On able frigate commanders who burned to re- 1st June it was given to Captain Slocum, a trieve the British name, was Captain P. B. V. released prisoner, to deliver; and the ShanBroke, of the Shannon, 38-gun frigate-a non then stood in close to Boston, to await ship thoroughly well disciplined, and in good the result. About noon that day, the Chesafighting-trim. In April
, he cruised off Boston peake fired a gun, and set her sails. She was in company with his consort, the Tenedos fri- coming out to fight at last! not, however, in gate, Captain Parker, watching the American consequence of the letter, for Slocum was frigates lying in that port. Two of them, the slow in coming, and bad not yet delivered it,
Congress and President, managed to put to but undoubtedly in consequence of the verbal sea unintercepted; but the Constitution and challenges. She was accompanied by numethe Chesapeake yet remained. The former rous pleasure-boats, filled with people eager was under repairs, but the latter was nearly to see the affair at a safe distance, and flushed ready for sea. Captain Broke sent away the with anticipations of success. This, indeed, Tenedos to cruise elsewhere for a season, in was thought to be sure, that a grand dinner order that the American should have fair play is said to have been prepared at Boston, to in the contest he meditated; and then he sent welcome the officers of the, Chesapeake on in repeated verbal challenges to Captain Law- their expected return with the British frigate rence of the Chesapeake to meet him. Finally, as a prize. he dispatched a letter of challenge, a full
A word as to the comparative powers of copy of which we have in one of the two ac- the antagonists. The Chesapeake rated as a counts of the affair lying before us, but it is 36-gun frigate, but mounted 25 on a broadmuch too long to quote entire. Suffice it, side, discharging 590 pounds metal. Her that after requesting Captain Lawrence to tonnage was 1135 ; and her crew-all very meet him to fight for the honor of their res- fine men-was 381 men and 5 boys, as sworn pective flags, he gives a faithful account of to by her surviving commanding-officer. The the armament and complement of his own Shannon's broadside-guns were also 25, and ship, and names a rendezvous for the fight; the weight of metal discharged by them, 538 or offers to sail in company with the Chesa - pounds: the crew, as stated by Captain peake, under a flag of truce, to any place Broke himself, consisted of " 300 men and Captain Lawrence thinks safest from interrup-boys-a large proportion of the latter--betion from British cruisers! He concludes bis sides 30 seamen, boys, and passengers, who chivalrous challenge with the following mag- were taken out of recaptured vessels lately." nanimous passage :-“You must, sir, be aware Her tonnage was 1066. Thus we see that in tonnage, weight of metal, and number of wounded--14 mortally ; but her own surgeon crew, the Chesapeake had the advantage. estimated the total killed and wounded at Nevertheless, we may term it a very fair | 160 to 170. We belieye that such a frightmatch, all things considered--and now for ful loss--in the two frigates, 71 killed and the result. After some preliminary maneuv- nearly 200 wounded--hardly ever before ocring, the two frigates closed at about six curred in so brief an engagement. Some of leagues' distance from Boston—the Chesa- the English seamen serving on board the peake having a large white flag flying at the Chesapeake leaped overboard when Captain fore, inscribed with the words, "Sailors' Broke boarded her. Poor conscience-stricken Rights and Free Trade!" The crew of the traitors ! they could not bear to fight handShannon greeted this extraordinary symbol to-hand against their own countrymen.' One with three hearty cheers. We shall not de- of them, John Waters, was a fine young feltail the fight itself
, beyond saying that the low, who had deserted from the Shannon only Shannon opened a tremendous fire from her a few months before. Thirty-two English double-shotted guns; and the ships having seamen were servir:g in the American frigate. come in contact, Captain Broke, eleven mi. What must their feelings have been during nutes after the engagement commenced, the engagement? One circumstance deserves boarded the Chesapeake with only a score of notice: no less than 360 pair of handcuffs his men, and in four minutes completely car- were found stowed in a cask in the Chesaried the ship. From the time the first gun peake. They were intended for the crew of was fired to the hauling down of the Ameri- the Shannon! How the men of the latter can colors and the hoisting of the British in ship must have grinned when they put them their place, only fifteen minutes elapsed! --for such is the custom-on the wrists of Just in the moment of victory, Captain Broke the Chesapeakes own crew! The Shannon was treacherously assailed and severely and her prize-neither of the vessels materwounded by three Americans who had pre- ially injured--safely reached Halifax, where viously submitted, and then resumed their poor Captain Lawrence died of his wound, arms. Poor Captain Lawrence of the Chesa- and was buried with full military honors, all peake was mortally wounded. He was a gal- the captains in the port following his remains. lant officer, and his death was sincerely la- We have now only to add, that Captain Broke mented by his generous-minded conqueror. was very deservedly rewarded with a baroMany acts of great individual heroism occur- netcy, and other honors; that two of his lieured ; and brief as was the battle, we may form tenants were made commanders; and that some idea of the desperate valor displayed two of his midshipmen, who had peculiarly on both sides, from the heavy loss of life mu- distinguished themselves, were promoted to tually sustained. The Shannon has 24 killed, the rank of lieutenants. Take it for all in all, including her first-lieutenant, and 59 wound the duel of the Shannon and Chesapeake is ed. The Chesapeake had, according to the one of the most extraordinary on record. American official account, 47 killed and 99
The scepticism which arose and prevailed so witchcraft was still a capital offence, and that largely in the eighteenth century, had at least persons accused of it had suffered the penalty one excellent effect—that of uprooting a mul- of death not many years before. It was in titude of popular superstitions, among which, 1691 that Mr. Justice Holt put the first seone of the most formidable was the belief in rious check upon prosecutions of this sort in witchcraft. It may not perhaps be generally the courts of justice; but we nevertheless remembered, that at the time when Steele find him at Exeter five years later, presiding and Addison were writing the “Spectator,” | at the trial of one Elizabeth Horner, who was charged with “ bewitching three children of a riding-hood or cloak, he knows not which, William Bovet, one of whom was dead.” came to the barn door, and asked him for a Mrs. Horner was acquitted ; and it was after- pennyworth of straw; he told her he could wards remarked by the good Dr. Hutchinson, give her none, and she went away muttering. that “no inconvenience hath followed her And this informant saith, that after the woacquittal.” Later than this, however, that man was gone he was not able to work, but is to say, in the year 1712, a poor woman in ran out of the barn as far as a place called Hertfordshire was tried, and actually “found Munder's hill (which was above three miles guilty,” upon an indictment charging her from Walkern), and asked at a house there with conversing with the devil in the shape for a pennyworth of straw, and they refused of a cat' -a form vi accusation which cer- to give him any; he went further to some tainly threw ridicule over the whole proceed- dung heaps, and took some straw from ing; but, in conformity with the verdict, the thence, and pulled off his shirt, and brought judge was nevertheless obliged to sentence it home in his shirt; he knows not what the prisoner to be hanged, and was able to moved him to this, but says he was forced save her only through the intervention of a to do it he knows not how." A part of this .“ pardon,” which he subsequently obtained singular statement was corroborated by anoin ber behalf. As it may serve to give us a ther witness, who declared that he saw Matglimpse into the condition of rural England thew Gilson returning with the straw in his nearly a century and a balf ago, when the shirt; that he moved along at a great pace; schoolmaster was less abroad than he even is and that, instead of passing over a bridge, at present, it is here proposed to relate the he walked straight through the water. story of this last of the witchcraft prosecu- On hearing the story, John Chapman felt tions. The particulars are drawn from Mr. confirmed in the suspicions which he enterWright's lately published "Narratives of Sor- tained against Mrs. Wenham; and on meetcery and Magic,' a work well worthy of ing her one day shortly afterwards, he venperusal by such as may be curious respecting tured to tell her a bit of his mind, applying the bistory of popular delusions.
to her at the same time several offensive Be it known, then, that in the year 1712 epithets, whereof that of “witch” was one aforesaid, there was living at Walkern, in the of the mildest and least opprobrious. It county of Hertford, a poor woman of the would seem however, that he rather “caught name of Jane Wenbam. It is not clear a Tartar ;" for on the 9th of February, Jane whether she was an old woman or a young Wenham went to Sir Henry Chauncey, a one, or a woman of middle age, but in all magistrate, and obtained a warrant against probability she was “growing into years ;" Chapnian for defamation. In the sequel, and, being not exactly a person of amiable the quarrel between Mrs. Wenham and temper, she had, for that and other reasons, the farmer was referred to the decision come to be regarded by her neighbors as a of the parish Clergyman, the Rev. Mr. Gar. witch. When the horses or cattle of the diner, who, in settling the matter, appears farmers in the parish chanced to die, the igno- to have spoken somewhat harshly to the worant, stupid people ascribed their losses to man, advising her to live more peaceably Jenny Wenham's sorcery. This was particu- with her neighbors, but nevertheless conlarly the case with a farmer named Chapman, demning Chapman to pay ber one shilling as one of whose laborers, Matthew Gilson, told a compensation for the injury sustained him a strange sort of story, which seemed to through his abuse. imply that he (Matthew) had been wonder- Here it might have been hoped the busiously bewitched himself. This man was sub- ness would have ended. But Mr. Gardiner, sequently examined before the magistrates, though a clergyman, was as firm a believer and he then made a curious deposition. He in witchcraft as farmer Chapman; and predeclared "that on New-year's day last past, sently a circumstance transpired which led he, carrying straw upon a fork from Mrs. him to suppose that the old woman was disGardner's barn, met Jane Wenham, who satisfied with the kind of justice he had given asked him for some straw, which he refused her, and that, therefore, by way of vengeance, to give her; then she said she would take she had determined to perform a stroke of some, and accordingly took some away from witchcraft in his household. His judgment informant. And, further
, this informant had been delivered in the parsonage-house saith, that on the 29th of January last, when | kitchen, in the presence of Anne Thorn, a this informant was threshing in the barn of servant maid, who was sitting by the fire, his master John Chapman, an old woman in having the evening before “put her knee out," and had just then got it set. Jane Wenham her whether she had e'er a pin. Upon her and Chapman being gone, Mr. Gardiner bad answering she had none, the old wonian gave returned into the parlor to his wife, in com. her a large crooked pin, bade her pin up the pany with a neighbor of the name of Bragge. bundle, and then vanished away ; after which These three persons, according to their seve she ran home with her bundle of sticks, and ral depositions, had not been seated together sat down in the kitchen stripped as Mr. Garmore than six or seven minutes, when they diner found her.” heard “ a strange yelling noise in the kitch- On hearing the girl's relation, all parties en ;” and on Mr. Gardiner going out to see were sufficiently astonished and perplexed ; wbat was the matter, he “ found this Anne Mrs. Gardiner, however, exclaimed, “ We will Thorn stripped to her shirt sleeves, howling burn the witch”_alluding to a received and wringing her hands in a dismal manner,' notion, that when the thing bewitched was but quite incapable of uttering any thing ar- burned, the witch was certain to appear; and ticulately. The reverend gentleman called accordingly she took the twigs, together with aloud for Mrs. Gardiner and Mr. Bragge, who the pin, and threw them into the fire. By a thereupon sprang up and followed him. Mrs. singular coincidence, Jane Wenham immeGardiner, with a woman's impatience to solve diately came into the room, pretending, it is. a mystery, asked the girl what was the mat. said, to inquire after Anne Thorn's mother, ter with her; and the latter, “not being able and “saying she had an errand to do to her to speak,” pointed earnestly at a bundle from Ardley Bury (Sir Henry Chauncey's which lay upon the floor, and which her mis- house), to wit, that she must go thither to tress thereupon took up, and unpinned, and wash next day.” Now, according to the de“ found it to be the girl's own gown and positions of the prosecutors, “this mother apron, and a parcel of oaken twigs with dead Thorn had been in the house all the time that leaves wrapped up therein.”_As soon as the Jane Wenham was there with John Chapman, bundle was opened, Anne Thorn began to and heard nothing of it, and was then gone speak, crying out, “ I'm ruined and undone ;" home.” Of course it was very likely that and after she had a little recovered herself, \ Jane Wenham might have forgotten to menshe gave the following relation of what had tion the message, owing to the excitement happened to her. She said, when she was she was in through her unpleasant affair with left alone she found "& strange roaming in Chapman; at any rate, no such charitable her hand”—what this might signify we can- excuse was thought of by the wonderfully not exactly understand-however, she went shrewd people who had her case to deal on to say, that “her mind ran upon Jave with. On hearing her statement, “Mrs. Wenham, and she thought she must run Gardiner bade Jane Wenham go to Elizasome whither; that accordingly she ran up beth Thorn, and tell her there was work the close, but looked back several times at the enough for her there"-mening, that she house, thinking she should never see it more ; would be required to nurse her daughter that she climbed over a five- bar gale, and Anne--and thereupon the supposed witch ran along the highway up a hill; that there departed. Furthermore, the depositions say, she met two of John Chapman's men, one of that “ upon inquiry made afterwards, it was whoni took hold of her hand, saying she found that she never was ordered to deliver should go with them ; but she was forced any such errand from Ardley Bury; and so away from them not being able to speak, there seemed to be but one reasonable ineither to them or to one Daniel Chapman, ference left, namely,that Jane Wenham, being whom, she said, she met on horseback, and a witch, her presence in Mr. Gardiner's would fain have spoken to him, but could not; kitchen had been mysteriously enforced by then she made her way towards Cromer, as the burning of the twigs and pin aforesaid ! far as a place called Hockney-lare, where she Here, at any rate, was an excellent groundlooked behind her, and saw a little old woman work for a charge of witchcraft. Chapman's muffled up in a riding-bood, who asked her two men, and the horsemen, deposed to meetwbither she was going. She answered, to ing Anne Thorn on the road, as she related; Cromer to fetc. some sticks to make her fire; and others of Mrs. Wenham's enemies came the old woman told her there were now no forward to testify that several people had sticks at Cromer, and bade her go to that previously been bewitched by her. The cleroak tree and pluck some from thence, which gyman was eager to promote the prosecution ; she did, and laid them upon the ground. The and on his solicitation a warrant was obtained old woman bade her pull off her gown and from Sir Henry Chauncey for the woman's apron, and wrap the sticks in them, and asked I apprehension. The examinations were taken
in due form before Sir Henry at Ardley Bury, , less, a Hertfordshire jury found her “guilty;" and he directed four women to search Jane and Mr. Justice Powell had to put on the black Wenham's
person for the customary “witches cap and pronounce sentence of death accordmarks," but none, it seems, were found. ing to the statute for such cases made and proNext day, however, the examination was con- vided. He certainly never intended t!:at the tinued, and the evidence of Mr. and Mrs. sentence should be executed, but that being Gardiner was taken, affirming the particulars the legal penalty for proving witchcraft, he already mentioned. Jane Wenham perceived had no alternative but to go through the forthat the accusation was assuming a formid- mality. A pardon was subsequently obtainable appearance,
and in her dread of being ed, and the poor woman was set at liberty, sent to goal, she earnestly entreated Mrs. much to the horror of her superstitious perGardiner "not to swear against her," and secutors. To save her from any further illoffered to submit to the “ trial of swimming in treatment or annoyance, an enlightened and the water”—a common mode of testing the kind gentleman, Colonel Plummer, of Gilston, guilt of suspected witches. Sir Henry, who took her under bis protection, placing her in seems to have yielded to most of the preju. a cottage on his own estate, where, it is dices of the prosecutors, refused to allow of agreeable to learn, she “passed the rest of such a mode of trial. But there was another her life in a quiet, inoffensive manner.” clergyman, the vicar of Ardley, no less super- Such, reader, is as faithful an account as stitious than the rector of Walkern, who we can give you of the last trial for witchundertook to try her by a still more infalli- craft. It is, perhaps, a story which would ble method, that of repeating the Lord's scarcely be worth the telling, were it not in prayer, a thing which no witch was con- some sort calculated to show us the harasssidered capable of doing. Being submitted ing and dangerous persecutions to which the to this ordeal, the poor woman, either in her poor and neglected were in former days liable. confusion, or through lamentable ignorance, Whatever may be the difficulties and disasrepeated it incorrectly, and hence another ters of the present time, there is certainly proof was obtained in support of the charge ground for congratulation in the fact, that against her. The parson, moreover, so
can now become the victim of any frightened her by threats as to induce her to such ridiculous accusation. Witchcraft has confess that she actually was a witch, and fur- long been an obsolete delusion. One of the ther, to accuse three other women of Walkern most important results of the trial here in with being her confederates in unlawful prac- question, was the publication, two or three tices, and more especially with having a direct years afterwards, of the famous “ Historical intercourse with Satan.
Essay concerning Witchcraft," by the king's The prosecution seemed now in a fair way chaplain in ordinary, Dr. Francis Hutchinson of prospering; and accordingly Jan Wen- --a book which gave the last blow to the ham was committed to prison to take her declining superstition; from that time the trial at the assizes. On the 4th of March belief in witchcraft lingered only among the the case came on for hearing before Mr. most ignorant portions of the population; Justice Powell, who was not a little puzzled and now at last there seems reason to conhow to deal with it; for there had been no clude that it is pretty well extinguished. As trial of the kind for several years past, and in any shin-bone of prediluvian creatures the intelligent people had long been sneering at geologist and man of science finds an interest, witchcrafts as a ridiculous incredibility. The and derives from it some hint of the condilawyers refused to draw up the indictment tion of the world when the animal it belongfor any other charge than that of “convers- ed to was alive, so may the historian of proing with the devil in the form of a cat," as gress not idly or unfitly gather here and stated at the commencement of the present there some figment of departed error, and paper. However, no less than sixteen wit bring it forth in proof, that while, " the great nosses, three of them being clergymen, were world spins for ever down the ringing grooves heard against the prisoner, and all the absur- of change," the states and prospects of hudities before set forth were solemnly recapitu: manity are in some particulars ameliorated, lated and affirmed. The poor woman declared and that, as folly dies, the forms of truth her innocence, and the judge did what he appear, with mercy and advancement in their could to damage the proceedings. Neverthe-hands.