One year before buying the above property (see Broadhead’s “History of New York,” page 526), Peter Stuyvesant vindictively persecuted Herman, Lockerman, and others, who retired to Staten Island to brood. These men belonged to “the popular party.” I therefore had a hint to make Stuyvesant himself the incarcerator of Herman in a fort, and the most available period seemed to be subsequent to the capture of Dutch New York by the English, but before the Dutch settlements on the Delaware were yielded. Stuyvesant surrendered New York September 8th, 1664. It was not until October 10th that Newcastle on the Delaware surrendered. The theory of the poem is that Herman, hearing New York to be English, like Maryland where he resided, repaired to his possessions. Stuyvesant rallies the squatters against him and makes use of a fort on Staten Island, not yet noticed by the English, as Herman’s place of punishment. On Herman’s escape this fort is blown up. When Herman returns to Newcastle, it is no longer Dutch, but English. Four days is the time of the action. The device of the carrier pigeons is possibly an anachronism, and also the age of Herman. I have aimed to make the story reasonable, if not creditable.
A celebrated apostle of the Methodist sect, on the Eastern shore of Maryland, was the Rev. Titus Bates. He had been twenty-six years engaged in the ministry, and was now a bronzed, worn, failing man, consumed by the zeal of his order, but still anxious to continue his work and die at his post. Like all his tribe, he was an itinerant, moving from town to town every second year—these towns being his places of abode, while his fields of labor were called “circuits,” and comprised many houses of worship scattered through the surrounding district. He had chosen his wife with reference to his vocation, and she was equally earnest with himself. She attended the sick, prayed with the dying, taught Sabbath-schools, and organized religious meetings among the women. They had but one son, Paul, an odd, silent little fellow, who was thought to be more bashful than bright; but his parents loved him tenderly, and argued the highest usefulness from his still, sober, thoughtful habits. He was of a singularly dark complexion, with fine black eyes and curling hair, and he was now old enough to ride to and fro with his father upon the long pastoral journeys.
Paul’s sixth birthday occurred on a raw Sunday in December. He had been promised, as a special treat on that occasion, a visit to Hogson’s Corner, an old meeting-house near the bay-side, twenty miles distant. His mother woke him at an early hour, and, while he breakfasted, the gray pony Bob came to the door in the “sulky.” His mother bade him to be a good boy, and kissed him; he took his seat upon a stool at his father’s feet, and watched the stone parsonage fade quickly out of sight. The last houses of the town vanished; they