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  Part II. Nathaniel Hawthorne

V. The Rejected Blessing

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"COTTON MATHER," continued Grandfather," was a bitter enemy to Governor Dudley; and nobody exulted more than he when that crafty politician was removed from the government, and succeeded by Colonel Shute. This took place in 1716. The new governor had been an officer in the renowned Duke of Marlborough's army, and had fought in some of the great battles in Flanders."

"Now I hope," said Charley, "we shall hear of his doing great things."

"I am afraid you will be disappointed, Charley," answered Grandfather. "It is true that Colonel Shute had probably never led so unquiet a life while fighting the French as he did now, while governing this province of Massachusetts Bay. But his troubles consisted almost entirely of dissensions with the Legislature. The king had ordered him to lay claim to a fixed salary; but the representatives of the people insisted upon paying him only such sums from year to year as they saw fit."

Grandfather here explained some of the circumstances that made the situation of a colonial governor so difficult and irksome. There was not the same feeling towards the chief magistrate now that had existed while he was chosen by the free suffrages of the people, it was felt that as the king appointed the governor, and as he held his office during the king's pleasure, it would be his great object to please the king. But the people thought that a governor ought to have nothing in view but the best interests of those whom he governed.

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"The governor," remarked Grandfather, "had two masters to serve,--the king, who appointed him; and the people, on whom he depended for his pay. Few men in this position would have ingenuity enough to satisfy either party. Colonel Shute, though a good-natured, well-meaning man, succeeded so ill with the people, that, in 1722, he suddenly went away to England and made Complaint to King George. In the meantime Lieutenant-Governor Dummer directed the affairs of the province, and carried on a long and bloody war with the Indians."

"But where was our chair all this time?" asked Clara.

"It still remained in Cotton Mather's library," replied Grandfather; "and I must not omit to tell you an incident which is very much to the honor of this celebrated man. It is the more proper, too, that you should hear it, because it will show you what a terrible calamity the smallpox was to our forefathers. The history of the province (and, of course, the history of our chair) would be incomplete without particular mention of it."

Accordingly Grandfather told the children a story, to which, for want of a better title, we shall give that of The Rejected Blessing.

One day, in 1721, Doctor Cotton Mather sat in his library reading a book that had been published by the Royal Society of London. But every few moments he laid the book upon the table, and leaned back in Grandfather's chair with an aspect of deep care and disquietude. There were certain things which troubled him exceedingly, so that he could hardly fix his thoughts upon what he read.

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Grandfather's Chair
Nathaniel Hawthorne

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