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Part III. Nathaniel Hawthorne

IX. The Tory's Farewell

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It did not occur to the chief justice that nothing but the most grievous tyranny could so soon have changed the people's hearts. Hurrying from the spot, he entered Cornhill, as the lower part of Washington Street was then called. Opposite to the Town House was the waste foundation of the Old North Church. The sacrilegious hands of the British soldiers had torn it down, and kindled their barrack fires with the fragments.

Farther on he passed beneath the tower of the Old South. The threshold of this sacred edifice was worn by the iron tramp of horses' feet; for the interior had been used as a riding-school and rendezvous for a regiment of dragoons. As the chief justice lingered an instant at the door a trumpet sounded within, and the regiment came clattering forth and galloped down the street. They were proceeding to the place of embarkation.

"Let them go!" thought the chief justice, with somewhat of an old Puritan feeling in his breast. "No good can come of men who desecrate the house of God."

He went on a few steps farther, and paused before the Province House. No range of brick stores had then sprung up to hide the mansion of the royal governors from public view. It had a spacious courtyard, bordered with trees, and enclosed with a wrought-iron fence. On the cupola that surmounted the edifice was the gilded figure of an Indian chief, ready to let fly an arrow from his bow. Over the wide front door was a balcony, in which the chief justice had often stood when the governor and high officers of the province showed themselves to the people.

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While Chief Justice Oliver gazed sadly at the Province House, before which a sentinel was pacing, the double leaves of the door were thrown open, and Sir William Howe made his appearance. Behind him came a throng of officers, whose steel scabbards clattered against the stones as they hastened down the court-yard. Sir William Howe was a dark-complexioned man, stern and haughty in his deportment. He stepped as proudly in that hour of defeat as if he were going to receive the submission of the rebel general.

The chief justice bowed and accosted him.

"This is a grievous hour for both of us, Sir William," said he.

"Forward! gentlemen," said Sir William Howe to the officers who attended him; "we have no time to hear lamentations now."

And, coldly bowing, he departed. Thus the chief justice had a foretaste of the mortifications which the exiled New-Englanders afterwards suffered from the haughty Britons. They were despised even by that country which they had served more faithfully than their own.

A still heavier trial awaited Chief Justice Oliver, as he passed onward from the Province House. He was recognized by the people in the street. They had long known him as the descendant of an ancient and honorable family. They had seen him sitting in his scarlet robes upon the judgment-seat. All his life long, either for the sake of his ancestors or on account of his own dignified station and unspotted character, he had been held in high respect. The old gentry of the province were looked upon almost as noblemen while Massachusetts was under royal government.

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Grandfather's Chair
Nathaniel Hawthorne

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