The Old Bell of Independence; Or, Philadelphia in 1776 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 159 pages of information about The Old Bell of Independence; Or, Philadelphia in 1776.
death so much to heart that he never afterwards was the man he previously had been.  He became indifferent, and neglected his duty.  There was something remarkable in the manner of his death.  He was tried for his life, and sentenced to be shot.  During the trial and subsequently, he discovered an indifference truly astonishing.  On the day of his execution, the fatal cap was drawn over his eyes, and he was caused to kneel in front of the whole army.  Twelve men were detailed for the purpose of executing him, but a pardon had been granted, unknown to Riley, in consequence of his age and services; they had no cartridges.  The word ‘ready’ was given, and the cocking of guns could be distinctly heard.  At the word ‘fire,’ Riley fell dead upon his face, when not a gun had been discharged.”

“That was a remarkable death; but there have been many instances of a similar kind.  The dread of death has been sufficient to produce it without a mortal blow,” remarked Wilson.

“But I cannot believe that Riley ever felt a dread of death.  He was always as reckless of his own life as if it was not of the value of a pin’s head.  No; it was not the dread of death,” replied old Harmar.

“It may have been the belief that death was certainly about to visit him.  Imagination may produce effects quite as wonderful,” observed Mr. Jackson Harmar.

“It’s a waste of time and thought to speculate on such things,” said Smith.  “But I’m inclined to believe, with young Mr. Harmar, that it was the result of imagination.  A man hearing the word ‘fire,’ in such a case, would feel sure of death, and then his faculties would sink into the expected state.”

“I guess Riley’s heart must have been almost broken at the death of poor Frank Lilly,” said Mrs. Harmar.

“Yes; he felt it deeper than most of us thought, and as I said, became perfectly indifferent whether his duty was performed or not,” replied old Harmar.  “The whole story of Riley and Lilly, including the account of the love affair, was a sad bit of romance.”


“The people of Pennsylvania,” observed Morton, “suffered more from the tories and Indians than they did from the British.  Philadelphia and its vicinity were the only parts which any considerable British force visited; but look at the depredations of the tories and Indians on the northern and western frontiers, and at the massacre at Wyoming particularly.”

“Ay, there were suffering and horror enough experienced in that valley alone, to match those of any other event in our history.  It was a time of blood and desolation,” remarked Mr. Jackson Harmar.

“I was intimately acquainted with several families residing in the valley at the time of the massacre,” said Morton; “and one man, who was taken prisoner after seeing his whole family slaughtered, and who afterwards escaped from the bloody band, narrated the whole affair to me.”

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The Old Bell of Independence; Or, Philadelphia in 1776 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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