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him, and wrote that he would gladly have given him the chief command, but for his gouty legs. Wentworth took fire at the suggestion, forgot his gout, and declared himself ready to serve his country and assume the burden of command. The position was awkward, and Shirley was forced to reply, “On communicating your offer to two or three gentlemen in whose judgment I most confide, I found them clearly of opinion that any alteration of the present command would be attended with great risk, both with respect to our Assembly and the soldiers being entirely disgusted."
The painter Smibert has left us a portrait of Pepperrell,- a good bourgeois face, not without dignity, though with no suggestion of the soldier. His spacious house at Kittery Point still stands, sound and firm, though curtailed in some of its proportions. Not far distant is another noted relic of colonial times, the not less spacious mansion built by the disappointed Wentworth at Little Harbor. I write these lines at a window of this curious old house, and before me spreads the scene familiar to Pepperrell from childhood. Here the river Piscataqua widens to join the sea, holding in its gaping mouth the large island of Newcastle, with attendant groups of islets and island rocks, battered with the rack of ages, studded with dwarf savins, or half clad with patches of whortleberry bushes, sumach, and the shining wax-myrtle, green in summer, red with the touch
i Shirley to Wentworth, 16 February, 1745.
of October. The flood tide pours strong and full around them, only to ebb away and lay bare a desolation of rocks and stones buried in a shock of brown drenched seaweed, broad tracts of glistening mud, sand-banks black with mussel-beds, and half-submerged meadows of eel-grass, with myriads of minute shell-fish clinging to its long lank tresses. Beyond all these lies the main, or northern channel, more than deep enough, even when the tide is out, to float a line-of-battle-ship. On its farther bank stands the old house of the Pepperrells, wearing even now an air of dingy respectability. Looking through its small, quaint window-panes, one could see across the water the rude dwellings of fishermen along the shore of Newcastle, and the neglected earthwork called Fort William and Mary, that feebly guarded the river's mouth. In front, the Piscataqua, curving southward, widened to meet the Atlantic between rocky headlands and foaming reefs, and in dim distance the Isles of Shoals seemed floating on the pale gray sea.
Behind the Pepperrell house was a garden, probably more useful than ornamental, and at the foot of it were the owner's wharves, with storehouses for salt-fish, naval stores, and imported goods for the country trade.
Pepperrell was the son of a Welshman 1 who migrated in early life to the Isles of Shoals, and thence to Kittery, where, by trade, ship-building, and the fisheries, he made a fortune, most of which he . left to his son William. The young Pepperrell learned what little was taught at the village school, supplemented by a private tutor, whose instructions, however, did not perfect him in English grammar. In the eyes of his self-made father, education was valuable only so far as it could make a successful trader; and on this point he had reason to be satisfied, as his son passed for many years as the chief merchant in New England. He dealt in ships, timber, naval stores, fish, and miscellaneous goods brought from England; and he also greatly prospered by successful land purchases, becoming owner of the greater part of the growing towns of Saco and Scarborough. When scarcely twenty-one, he was made justice of the peace, on which he ordered from London what his biographer calls a law library, consisting of a law dictionary, Danvers' “Abridgment of the Common Law,” the “Complete Solicitor,” and several other books. In law as in war, his best qualities were good sense and good-will. About the time when he was made a justice, he was commissioned captain of militia, then major, then lieutenant-colonel, and at last colonel, commanding all the militia of Maine. The town of Kittery chose him to represent her in the General Court, Maine being then a part of Massachusetts. Finally, he was made a member of the Governor's Council, – a post which he held for
1 "A native of Ravistock Parish, in Wales." Parsons, Life of Pepperrell. Mrs. Adelaide Cilley Waldron, a descendant of Pepperrell, assures me, however, that his father, the emigrant, came, not from Wales, but from Devonshire.
thirty-two years, during eighteen of which he was president of the board. These civil dignities served him as educators better than tutor or village school; for they brought him into close contact with the chief men of the province; and in the Massachusetts of that time, so different from our own, the best education and breeding were found in the official class. At once a provincial magnate and the great man of a small rustic village, his manners are said to have answered to both positions, – certainly they were such as to make him popular. But whatever he became as a man, he learned nothing to fit him to command an army and lay siege to Louisbourg. Perhaps he felt this, and thought, with the governor of Rhode Island, that “the attempt to reduce that prodigiously strong town was too much for New England, which had not one officer of experience, nor even an engineer.”” Moreover, he was unwilling to leave his wife, children, and business. He was of a religious turn of mind, and partial to the clergy, who, on their part, held him in high favor. One of them, the famous preacher, George Whitefield, was a guest at his house when he heard that Shirley had appointed him to command the expedition against Louisbourg. Whitefield had been the leading spirit in the recent religious fermentation called the Great Awakening, which, though it produced bitter quarrels among
1 Governor Wanton to the Agent of Rhode Island in London, 20 December, 1745.
the ministers, besides other undesirable results, was imagined by many to make for righteousness. So thought the Rev. Thomas Prince, who mourned over the subsiding delirium of his flock as a sign of backsliding. “The heavenly shower was over,” he sadly exclaims; “from fighting the devil they must turn to fighting the French.” Pepperrell, always inclined to the clergy, and now in great perplexity and doubt, asked his guest Whitefield whether or not he had better accept the command. Whitefield gave him cold comfort, told him that the enterprise was not very promising, and that if he undertook it, he must do so “ with a single eye,” prepared for obloquy if he failed, and envy if he succeeded. 1
Henry Sherburn, commissary of the New Hampshire regiment, begged Whitefield to furnish a motto for the flag. The preacher, who, zealot as he was, seemed unwilling to mix himself with so madcap a business, hesitated at first, but at length consented, and suggested the words, Nil desperandum Christo duce, which, being adopted, gave the enterprise the air of a crusade. It bad, in fact, something of the character of one. The cause was imagined to be the cause of Heaven, crowned with celestial benediction. It had the fervent support of the ministers, not only by prayers and sermons, but, in one case, by counsels wholly temporal. A certain pastor, much esteemed for benevolence, proposed to Pepperrell, who had at last accepted the command, a plan,
1 Parsons, Life of Pepperrell, 51.