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In Concord, at the time of Thompson's | Wentworth at once commissioned Thomparrival, there dwelt the widow of a Colo- son to fill it;” thus placing him over the nel Rolfe with her infant son. Her hus. heads of veterans with infinitely stronger band had died in December, 1771, leaving claims. He rapidly became a favorite a large estate behind him. Rumford was with the governor, and on his proposing, indebted to Mrs. Rolfe's father, the Rev. socn after his appointment, to make a Timothy Walker, for counsel, and to her survey of the White Mountains, Wentbrother for civility and hospitality. There worth not only fell in with the idea, but the widow and teacher met, and their promised, if his public duties permitted, meeting was a prelude to their marriage. to take part in the survey himself. At Rumsord, somewhat ungallantly, told his the time when he exercised this influence, friend Pictet in after years that she mar. Thompson was not quite twenty years ried lim rather than he her. She was old. obviously a woman of decision. As soon Through official unwisdom, unhappily as they were engaged, an old curricle, left not confined to that age, the ferment of by ber father, was fished up, and, therein discontent with the legislation of the nounted, she carried her betrothed to mother country had spread in 1774 Boston, and committed him to the care of throughout the colony. Clubs and comthe tailor and hairdresser. This journey mittees were formed which often cominvolved a drive of sixty miles. On the spelled men to take sides before the return they called at the house of Thomp. requisite data for forming a clear judgson's mother, who, when she saw him, is ment had been obtained. “ Our candor," reported to have exclaimed, “ Why, Ben, says Dr. Ellis, “must persuade us to my son, how could you go and lay out allow that there were reasons, or at least all your winter's earnings in finery?” | prejudices and apprehensions which might Thompson was nineteen when he mar- lead honest and right-hearted men, lovers ried, bis wife being thirty-three.
and friends of their birthland, to oppose On two critical occasions in the life of the rising spirit of independence as in. this extraordinary man his appearance on flamed by demagogues, and as foreboding horseback apparently determined the is. discomfiture and mischief.". Thompson sues of that life. As he rode at a review became “suspect.” He was known to be of the British soldiers at Dover, New on friendly terms with Governor Went. Hampshire, on the 13th of November, worth ; but then the governor, when he 1772, his figure attracted the attention of gave Thompson his commission, was Governor Wentworth, and on the day fol- highly popular in the province. Prior to lowing he was the great man's guest. So his accession to office Wentworth had impressed was Wentworth with his con- strongly opposed every measure of Great versation that he at once made up his Britain which was regarded as encroachmind to attach him to the public service. ing upon the liberties of the colonists. To secure this wise end he adopted un. He thought himself, nevertheless, in duty wise means. “A vacancy having occurred bound to stand by the royal authority in a majorship in the Second Provincial when it was openly defied; and this nat. Regiment of New Hampsbire, Governor urally rendered lim obnoxious.
“ There was something,” says Dr. Ellis, " Where once the embattled farmers stood,
“exceedingly humiliating and degrading
to a man of an independent and self. We were afterwards driven by Emerson to Lexington, talking on the way of poets and poetry, and putting respecting spirit in the conditions imposed science for the time under a bushel. We halted near at times by tlie 'Sons of Liberty,' in the the Common, so as to enable me to inspect the monu
process of cleansing himself from the The inscription contained some stroug expressions regarding British aggression. On returning, I taint of Toryism.” Human nature is remarked that they were all Britons at the time — the everywhere the same, and to protect a colonists being truer Britons than their assailants. It was, in fact, Essex against Essex ; and when I spoke of cherished cause these “sons of liberty's the undesirability of embalming in bitter words the sometimes adopted the tactics of the memory of a family quarrel, Emerson smilingly assented. I Papal Inquisition. Sullen defiance was
And fired the shot heard round the world."
the attitude of Thompson, and public own vine and under his own fiy-tree, and feeling grew day by day more exasperated have none to make him afraid." On Ocagainst him. In the summer of 1774, he tober 13th, 1775, he quitted Woburn, foiled his accusers before a committee ap- reached the shore of Narragansett Bay pointed to inquire into his conduct. The where he went on board a British frigate. acquittal, however, gave him but little re. In this vessel he was conveyed to Boston, jief, and extra-judicial plots were formed where he remained until the town was against him. The Concord mob resolved evacuated by the British troops. The at length to take the matter into their own news of this catastrophe was carried by hands. One day they collected round his him to England. Thenceforward, till house, and with boots and yells demanded the close of the war, he was on the En. that he should be delivered up to them. glish side. Having got wind of the matter, he es. One of the most remarkable character. caped in time; and on the assurance of istics of Thompson was the readiness with Mrs. Thompson and her brother Colonel which he caught the manners and fell into Walker that he had quitted Concord the the ways of great people. This quality mob dispersed. "To have tarried at probably connects itself with that " overConcord,” he writes to his father-in-law love of splendor” which his friend Bald. at this time, “and have stood another win ascribes to him. On the English side trial at the bar of the populace would the American War was begun, continued, doubtless have been attended with un- and ended, in ignorance. Blunder folhappy consequences, as my innocence lowed blunder, and defeat followed defeat, would have stood me in no stead against until knowledge which ought to have been the prejudices of an enraged infatuated ready at the outset came too late. Thompmultitude - and much less against the son for a time was the vehicle of such be. determined villany of my inveterate ene. lated knowledge. He was immediately mies, who strive to raise their popularity attached to the Colonial Office, then ruled on the ruins of my character."
over by Lord Georye Germain. Cuvier, He returned to his mother's house in in his “Eloge,” thus described his first Woburn, where he was joined by his wife interview with that minister. “ On this and child. While they were with him, occasion by the clearness of his details shots were exchanged and blood was shed and the gracefulness of his manners, he at Concord and Lexington. Thompson insinuated himself so far into the graces was at length arrested, and confined in of Lord George Germain that he took him Woburn. A “committee of correspon- into his employment.” With Lord George dence was formed to inquire into his he frequently breakfasted, dined, and conduct. He conducted his own defence, supped, and was occasionally his guest in and was again acquitted. The committee, the country. At Stoneland Lodge, the however, refused to make the acquittal a residence of Lord George, his celebrated public one, lest, it was alleged, it should experiments on gunpowder began. He offend those who had sought for a convic was a born experimentalist, handy, ingen. tion. Despair and disgust took posses. ious, full of devices to meet practical sion of bin more and more. In a long needs. He turned his attention to imletter addressed to his father-in-law from provements in military matters ; devised Woburn, he defends his eniire course of and procured the adoption of bayonets for conduct. His principal offence was prob. the fusees of the Horse Guards, to be used ably negative; for silence at the time was in fighting on foot. The results of his deemed tantamount to antagonism. Dur. experiments on gunpowder were commuing a brief period of farining, he had had nicated to Sir Joseph Banks. He soon working for him some deserters from the became intimate with Sir Joseph, and in British army in Boston. These he per- 1779, he was elected fellow of the Royal suaded to go back, and this was urged as Society. a crime against him. He defended him. When the war had become hopeless, self with spirit, declaring, after he had ex. many of the exiles who had been true to plained his motives, that if this action were the royalist cause came to England, a crime, he gloried in being a criminal. where Thompson's official position imHe liad made up his mind to quit a coun.posed on him the duty of assuaging their try which had treated him so ill; devoutly miseries and adjusting their claims. wishing, “ that the happy time may soon Though no evidence exists “ that he failed come when I may return to my family in to do in any case what duty and friendli. peace and safety, and when every individ- ness required of him," he did not entirely ual in America may sit down under his escape the censure of his outlawed fellow:
countrymen. One of them in particular for active service, he resolved to try his had been a judge in Salem when Thomp. fortune on the Continent, intending to son was a shop-boy in Appleton's store. offer his services as a volunteer in the Judge Curwen complained of his fair ap- Austrian army against the Turks. The pearance and uncandid behavior. He historian Gibbon crossed the Channel must have keenly felt the singular re- with him. In a letter dated Dover, Sepversal in their relations. “This young tember 17, 1783, Gibbon writes : “ Last man,” says the judge, "when a shop-lad night, the wind was so high that the to my next neighbor, ever appeared ac- vessel could not stir from the harbor ; tive, good-natured, and sensible; by a this day it is brisk and fair. We are strange concurrence of events, he is now fattered with the hope of making Calais under-secretary to the American secre. Harbor by the same tide in three hours tary of state, Lord George Germain, a and a half; but any delay will leave the secretary to Georgia, inspector of all the disagreeable option of a tottering boat clothing sent to America, and lieutenant. or a tossing night. What a cursed thing colonel commandant of Horse Dragoons, to live in an island ! this step is more at New York; his income from these awkward than the whole journey. The sources is, I have been told, near £7,000 * triumvirate of this memorable embarkaa year.
a sum infinitely beyond his most tion will consist of the grand Gibbon, sanguine expectations."
Henry Laurens, Esq., President of ConAs the prospects of the war darkened, gress; and Mr. Secretary, Colonel, Ad. Thompson's patron became more and miral, Philosopher Thompson, attended more the object of attack. The people by three horses, who are not the most had been taxed in vain. England was agreeable fellow.passengers. If we surentangled in Continental war, and it be. vive, I will finish and seal my letter at came gradually recognized that the sub-Calais. Our salvation shall be ascribed jugation of the colony was impossible. to the prayers of my lady and aunt, for I To Thompson's credit, be it recorded, he do believe they both pray." The "grand showed no tendency to desert the cause Gibbon” is reported to have been terribly he had espoused, when he found it to be frightened by the plunging of his fellowa failing one. In 1782, his chief was passengers, the three blood horses. driven from power, and at this critical Pushing on to Strasburg, where Prince time he accepted the commission of lieu. Maximilian of Bavaria, then a field-martenant colonel in the British army, and shal in the service of France, was in the returned to America with a view of rally- garrison, Thompson, mounted on one of ing for a final stand such forces as be his chargers, appeared on the parade might find capable of organization. He ground. He attracted the attention of took with him four pieces of artillery, the prince, who spoke to him, and, on with which he made experiments during learning that he had been serving in the the voyage. His destination was Long American War, pointed to some of his Island, New York, but stress of weather officers, and remarked that they had been carried him to Charleston, South Carolina, in the same war,
An animated conversawhere the influence of his presence was tion immediately began, at the end of soon felt. “Obliged to pass the winter which the stranger was invited to dine there, he was made commander of the with the prince. After dinner, it is said, remains of the cavalry in the royal army, he produced a portfolio containing plans wbich was then under the orders of of the principal engagements, and a colLieutenant-General Leslie. This corps lection of excellent maps of the seat of was broken, but he promptly restored it, war. Eager for information, the prince and won the confidence and attachment again invited him for the next day, and of the commander. He led them often when at length the traveller took leave, against the enemy, and was always suc- engaged him to pass through Munich, cessful in his enterprises."
giving him a friendly letter to the elector He quitted Charleston, and about the of Bavaria. middle of April, 1782, reached New York, The elector, a sage ruler, saw in him imwhere he took command of the king's mediately a man capable of rendering the American Dragoons. But early in April, State good service. He pressed his vis. 1783, before the war was formally con- itor to accept a post half military and half cluded, he obtained leave to return to civil. The proposal was a welcome one England. Finding there no opportunity to Thompson, and he came to England to
obtain the king's permission to accept it. • This Dr. Ellis considers to be a delusion. Not only was the permission granted,
but on February 23, 1784, he was knighted the prompting of those on furlough, little by the king. Dr. Ellis publishes the gardens sprang up everywhere over the 'grant of arms to the new knight. The country. Bavaria was then infested with original parchment, perfect and unsullied, beggars, vagabonds, and thieves, native with all its seals, is in the possession of and foreign. These mendicant tramps Mrs. James F. Baldwin, of Boston, widow were in the main stout, healthy, and ableof the executor of Countess Sarah Rum-bodied fellows, who found a life of thievford. “ The knight himself,” observes ish indolence pleasanter than a life of his biographer, “must have furnished the honest work. « These detestable vermin information written on that flowery parch. had recourse to the most diabolical arts, ment.” He returned to Munich, and on and the most horrid crimes in the proshis arrival the elector appointed him colo- ecution of their infamous trade.” They nel of a regiment of cavalry and aide.de- robbed, they stole, maimed and exposed camp to himself. He was lodged in a little children, so as to extract money palace, which he shared with the Russian from the tender-hearted. All this must ambassador, and had a military staff and be put an end to. Four regiments of a corps of servants. He soon acquired a cavalry were so cantoned that every vil. mastery over the German and French lage had its patrol. This disposition of languages: He made himself minutely the cavalry was antecedent to seizing, as acquainted with everything concerning a beginning, all the beggars in the capital. the dominions of the elector their pop. The problem before him might well have ulation and employments, their resources daunted a courageous man, but he faced and means of development, and their re it without misgiving. He brought his lations to other powers. Holding as he schemes to clear definition in his mind did the united offices of minister of war, before he attempted to realize them. Preminister of police, and chamberlain of cepts, he knew, were vain, so his aim was the elector, his influence and action ex- to establish habits. Reversing the maxim tended to all parts of the public service. that people must be virtuous to be happy, Four years of observation were, however, he resolved on making happiness a step. spent in Munich before he attempted any. ping-stone to virtue. He had learnt the thing practical. Then, as now, the armies importance of cleanliness through observ: of the Continent were maintained by con- ing the habits of birds. Lawgivers and scription. Drawn away from their normal founders of religions never failed, he said, occupations, the rural population returned to recognize the influence of cleanliness after their term of service lazy and de- on man's moral nature. “Virtue never moralized. The pay of the soldiers was dwelt long with filth and nastiness, nor do miserable, their clothing bad, their quar. I believe there ever was a person scrupu. ters dirty and mean; the expense being lously attentive to cleanliness who was a out of all proportion to the return. consuinmate villain." He had to deal
Thompson aimed at making soldiers with wretches covered with filth and vercitizens and citizens soldiers. The situa. min, to cleanse them, to teach thein, and tion of the soldier was to be rendered to give them the pleasure and stimulus of pleasant, his pay was to be increased, earning honest money. He did not waste his clothing rendered comfortable and his means on fine buildings, but taking a even elegant, while all liberty consistent deserted manufactory, he repaired it, en. with strict subordination was to be per. larged it, adding to it kitchen, bakehouse, mitted him. Within, the barracks were to and workshops for mechanics. Halls were be neat and clean; and without, , attrac- provided for the spinners of flax, cotton, tive. Reading, writing, and arirhmetic and wool. Other halls were set up for were to be taught, not only to the soldiers weavers, clothiers, dyers, saddlers, wool. and their children, but to the children of sorters, carders, combers, knitters, and the neighboring peasantry. He drained seamstresses. In the prosecution of his the noisome marshes of Mannheim, and despotic scheme all men seemed to fall converted them into a garden for the use under his lead. To relieve it of the odium of the garrison. For ile special purpose which might accrue if it were effected of introducing the culture of the potato, wholly by the military, he associated with he extended the plan of military gardens bimself and his field officers the magis. to other garrisons. They were tilled, and trates of Munich. They gave him willing their produce was owned by non-commis- sympathy and aid. On New Year's inornsioned officers and privates. The plan ing, 1790, he and the chief magistrate proved completely successful. Indolent walked out together. With extended soldiers became industrious, while through hand a beggar immediately accosted them.
Thompson, setting the example to his the power of organization. In him fexi. companions, laid his hand gently upon ble wisdom formed an amalgam with the shoulder of the vagabond, and como despotic strength. He held undoubtingly mitted him to the charge of a serjeant that “arrangement, method, provision for with orders to take him to the Town Hall. the minutest details, subordination, co. At the end of that day not a single beggar operation, and a careful system of statisremained at large.
tics, will facilitate and make effective any With his iron resolution was associated undertaking, however burdensome and in those days a plastic tact which enabled comprehensive.”. Pure love of humanity bim to avoid jealousies and collisions that would at first sight seem to be the motive a man of less self-restraint would infallibly force of his action. Still, it has been have incurred. To the school for poor affirmed by those who knew him that this students, the Sisters of Charity, the hos was not the case. Fontenelle said of pital for lepers, and other institutions | Dodard, that he turned his rigid obhad been conceded the right of making servance of the fasts of the Church into periodic appeals from house to house: a scientific experiment on the effects of German apprentices had also been per- abstinence, thereby taking the path which mitted to beg upon their travels; all of led at once to heaven and into the French these had their claims adjusted. After Academy. In Rumford's case the pleasbe had swept his swarm of paupers into ure of the administrator outweighed, it the quarters provided for them, his hard. was said, that of the philanthropist. est work began. Here the inflexible order When he quitted America, he left his which had characterized him through life wife and infant daughter behind him, and came as a natural force to his aid. “ He whether there were any communications encouraged a spirit of industry, pride, afterwards between him and them is not self-respect, and emulation, finding help known. In 1793, in a letter to his friend even in trilling distinctions of apparel." Baldwin, he expressed the desire to visit His pauper workhouse was self-support. his native country, and to become personing, wbile its inmates were given the ally acquainted with his daughter, who means of enjoying life. He constructed was then nineteen. With reference to and arranged a kitchen which provided this projected visit, he asks, “Should I daily a warm and nutritive dinner for a be kindly received? Are the remains of thousand or fifteen hundred persons; an party spirit and political persecution done incredibly small amount of fuel sufficing away? Would it be necessary to ask to cook a dinner for this multitude. The leave of the State?” A year prior to the military work house was also remunera. date of this letter, Rumford's wife had tive; its profits for six years exceeding a died, at the age of tifty-two. On January hundred thousand dollars. He had the 29, 1796, his daughter, who was familiarly art of making himself loved and honored called “Sally Thompson,” sailed for Lonby the people whom he ruled in this arbi. don to see her father. She had beard trary way. Under stress of work he once him spoken of as an officer, and had at. broke down at Munich, and fearing that tached to this an idea of the warrior with a he was dying, the poor of the city went in martial look, possibly the sword, if not the procession to the church to put up public gun by his side.” 'All this disappeared prayers for him. In 1793 he went to Italy when she saw him. He did not strike her to restore his health. Had he known how as handsome, or even agreeable, a result to employ the sanative power of nature, in part due to the fact that he had been ill he might have longer kept in working and was very thin and pale. She speaks, order his vigorous frame. But he was a however, of his laughter "quite from the man of the city. The mountains of Mag. heart," while the expression of his mouth, giore were to him less attractive than the with teeth of "the most finished pearls," streets of Verona, where he committed was sweetness itself. She had little himself to the planning of soup-kitchens. knowledge of the world, and her purchases He made similar plans for other cities, so in London he thought both extravagant that to call his absence a holiday would and extraordinary. After having, by due be a misnomer. He returned to Munich discipline, learned how to make an En. in August, 1794, slowly recovering, but glish courtesy, to the horror of her father, not able to resume the management of his almost the first use she made of her newly various institutions.
acquired accomplishment was to courtesy Men find pleasure in exercising the to a housekeeper. powers they possess, and Rumford pos. In 1796 Rumford founded the historic sessed, in its highest and strongest form, medal which bears his name, and the same