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Part II. Nathaniel Hawthorne

X. Thomas Hutchinson

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Moreover, at a council held by the Earl of Loudon with the governors of New England in 1757, his lordship, in a moment of passion, had kicked over the chair with his military boot. By this unprovoked and unjustifiable act, our venerable friend had suffered a fracture of one of its rungs.

"But," said Grandfather, "our chair, after all, was not destined to spend the remainder of its days in the inglorious obscurity of a garret. Thomas Hutchinson, Lieutenant-governor of the province, was told of Sir Francis Bernard's design. This gentleman was more familiar with the history of New England than any other man alive. He knew all the adventures and vicissitudes through which the old chair had passed, and could have told as accurately as your own Grandfather who were the personages that had occupied it. Often, while visiting at the Province House, he had eyed the chair with admiration, and felt a longing desire to become the possessor of it. He now waited upon Sir Francis Bernard, and easily obtained leave to carry it home."

"And I hope," said Clara, "he had it varnished and gilded anew."

"No," answered Grandfather. "What Mr. Hutchinson desired was, to restore the chair as much as possible to its original aspect, such as it had appeared when it was first made out of the Earl of Lincoln's oak-tree. For this purpose he ordered it to be well scoured with soap and sand and polished with wax, and then provided it with a substantial leather cushion. When all was completed to his mind he sat down in the old chair, and began to write his History of Massachusetts."

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"Oh, that was a bright thought in Mr. Hutchinson," exclaimed Laurence. "And no doubt the dim figures of the former possessors of the chair flitted around him as he wrote, and inspired him with a knowledge of all that they had done and suffered while on earth."

"Why, my dear Laurence," replied Grandfather, smiling, "if Mr. Hutchinson was favored with ally such extraordinary inspiration, he made but a poor use of it in his history; for a duller piece of composition never came from any man's pen. However, he was accurate, at least, though far from possessing the brilliancy or philosophy of Mr. Bancroft."

"But if Hutchinson knew the history of the chair," rejoined Laurence, "his heart must have been stirred by it."

"It must, indeed," said Grandfather. "It would be entertaining and instructive, at the present day, to imagine what were Mr. Hutchinson's thoughts as he looked back upon the long vista of events with which this chair was so remarkably connected."

And Grandfather allowed his fancy to shape out an image of Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, sitting in an evening reverie by his fireside, and meditating on the changes that had slowly passed around the chair.

A devoted Monarchist, Hutchinson would heave no sigh for the subversion of the original republican government, the purest that the world had seen, with which the colony began its existence. While reverencing the grim and stern old Puritans as the founders of his native land, he would not wish to recall them from their graves, nor to awaken again that king-resisting spirit which he imagined to be laid asleep with them forever. Winthrop, Dudley, Bellingham, Endicott, Leverett, and Bradstreet,--all these had had their day. Ages might come and go, but never again would the people's suffrages place a republican governor in their ancient chair of state.

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Grandfather's Chair
Nathaniel Hawthorne

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