Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

Rivington's engravings. Came home about 8 in the evening, not without a good companion, my club.

29th. Sunday. The sun rose very pleasant this morning, melting the snow. Bad walking was the consequence. At Church. Mr. Bisset preach'd, Job v., 6, 7. He looked as if he had experienc'd the truth of his text. After dinner went to the Doctors. Met Tho. Rose (quite buckish). Dr. Mitchell was there in the evening. He detaild the Indian tradition of a Deluge & the formation of Lake Superior. Propos'd that I should make one of a party to explore the Catskill mountain next summer.

30th. Began the 2d engraving for Rivington on the same plate with the first. Paid Myers + Dollars for the plates of copper. Found 6d in the street. Got a copy of the Looking-glass from Durell. When I came home J. Ferguson was there. Mama was relating some incidents of the war.

31st. I pumic'd a copper-plate. The weather being rainy, I staid 'till 10 and finish'd etching Rivington's 2d plate. Paid Myers 3/6 for another small copper plate. Paid the Taylor 2/6 for repairs to my coat. Receiv'd 12 Dollars from Cressin. Afternoon, left Rivington's plate at Burger's. Drew a sketch of the canker-worm. Made some shoe-blacking. Capt. Stuart staid 'till

. . near 11 O'clock at my Father's. I varnish'd a plate.

RAPELJE'S BOYHOOD.

I was born on the 9th of August, 1771, in a three story brick house, on the north side of Liberty street, at that time called Crown street; the house was a few doors from the corner of William street. My father's name was Rem Rapelje, and at that time, before business was so distinctly divided as it now is, was a ship owner, dealt in general merchandise, and kept a store in Maiden lane, directly in rear of his dwelling house. He was a native of Brooklyn, Long Island. He lost his father when a child, and his mother having contracted a second marriage, he felt all the chilling influence of a stepfather, and sought for

His per

friendly aid elsewhere. He fortunately had an uncle in the corn, grain and flour business, a thrifty, intelligent man, who took him into his store, which was at the fork of Maiden lane and Crown street. Here, after a few years of industrious labor, during which he supported the character of an intelligent, honest young man, he was sent in a schooner, as supercargo, to the island of Curacoa, in the West Indies, and although but twentyone years of age had other vessels consigned to him. sonal appearance, his honesty, his amenity of manners, as well as his intelligence, made him a popular young man.

The family of Rapelje was originally from France. Being Protestant, they fled to Holland after the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, and were among the early emigrants to New Amsterdam. One of the family was a land surveyor, and the other a farmer. The name is mentioned in the first accounts of the city as one of the burgomasters in the good old days of admiral, Governor Stuyvesant. The first child born of Christian parents in the city of New Amsterdam was named Sarah De Rapelje. This account is now preserved as a curiosity. As they came from the River Wall, in Holland, and held lands on Long Island, they called the small stream near their dwelling "the Wallabout." The descendants of these first settlers are now to be found in various parts of the United States. My mother, whose maiden name was Nelly Hardenbrook, was born in the City of New York, at the corner of Beekman and Pearl streets, which my great grandfather built and lived in for many years. From the great number of his children, my maternal uncles and aunts, I have named the old mansion house " the Bee Hive."

At the close of the American war, my father purchased the Glass House farm,* three miles and a half from the city, as it then was, but now in it, on the North River. It received its name from an unsuccessful attempt to make glass bottles there. It was little north of a country seat called Content, a delightful

* The Glass House farm proper once belonged to Sir Peter Warren, at the north side being bounded by the Great Kill. It extended from Eighth avenue to Eleventh avenue, then the shore line, and from about Thirty-fifth street northward. Rem Rapelje owned a place, once the property of Thomas Tibbet Warner, immediately south of the other.

a

place, the Summer residence of a Mrs. McAdam, sister to a Mrs. Shaw, whose daughter had married Sir Richard Wheat, and after his death, Admiral Lord Cochran, who, if living, now resides in Scotland. My father resided at the Glass House farm thirteen years, when he removed to a much larger farm at Pelham, West

, chester county, where he resided until his death, which happened at the age of seventy-six years and ten months; my mother survived him several years.

At four years of age I was put to a woman's school, next door to my father's, in Crown street. I afterwards went to a master's school in Maiden lane, near Nassau street. When my father resided at the Glass House farm, being then about twelve years of age, I was sent to Hackensack school, in New Jersey ; for during the Revolution all things in the city were in a state of disorder, and there were no good schools established. At the institution at Hackensack there were a hundred scholars, of the best families, from the States of New York and New Jersey. The school was under the superintendence of Mr. Peter Wilson, a most capable and indefatigable teacher, who some years afterwards was elected a professor of the Latin and Greek languages in Columbia College. I left Mr. Wilson to enter Columbia College, where in due course I graduated Bachelor of Arts. On leaving my alma mater, I was put in the office with John Watkins, counsellor at law, to study the profession. His wife—for I lived in the family, and cannot forget her kindness to me—was adorned with every social and domestic virtue. She belonged to a family of talent, being a daughter to William Livingston, Governor of New Jersey, and sister to Judge Brockholst Livingston.

My father, when parties ran high, inclined to the old order of things; he for one, among many, was contented and happy under the British Government. His property was secure and he no doubt thought that many of our grievances were imaginary. My father was not of a disposition to remain still, and expressing his sentiments perhaps a little too freely, excited the indignation of some of the Sons of Liberty, from whom he met with rude treatment. The mob assailed my father's house in search of my brothers, who had resented the insults offered their father, but they were saved by the cool intrepidity of my mother, who in

[ocr errors]

vited a committee of three to come in and search the house, declaring that her sons were not there, nor did she know when they might be. They had been taken from the house disguised in female apparel and secreted for a while. They were highspirited young men; one of them was a student in medicine and the other was preparing to be a merchant under commissary Henry White, a man of distinction in that day.

Another circumstance happened which was a sad grievance to our family. My maternal uncle, Theophilus Hardenbrook, chief engineer to the king, in New York, was treated with every insult and was mangled and ill used by the mob; but to their honor be it said that the upper classes of the Whigs did everything in their power to restrain the mob. He got away from his persecutors, concealed himself on the banks of the Hudson, and at length gaining a little strength he took a small boat to go on board a man-of-war lying in the stream, but after he had reached the ship, exhausted from the loss of blood, in attempting to get on board, was drowned. These stories, often repeated by my dear mother, have sunk deep into my heart, and their influences can never be done away. My father, for his honesty was never for a moment doubted, was allowed by the committee of safety in New York to reside in New Jersey, where he lived in great retirement until the war was over. He had pledged the word of a man of principle and honor, and he took no part in the Revolutionary conflict.

While my father was in banishment, one of my mother's relations, a Whig, came to her and told her that she had better remove with her children into the country, as in the event of the city being taken by the British, it would be burnt. My mother replied, "My dear cousin, you have valuable property here and would not like to have it destroyed. What I should wish to see will not be a matter of consequence. I assure you it is the intention of General Washington to fire the city if it falls into the hands of the British army," and it so happened that soon after they got possession of the city, a fire commenced somewhere to the east of Broad street, and near the spot where Pearl street and the East River are continued round the point, on the east and north side of Broad street, crossing over to the west side of Broadway, before it came to Wall street, and sweeping up on the west side of Broadway, between it and the North River. Trinity Church was burnt. St. Paul's was with difficulty saved, and the desolation reached to the North River. Many persons were suspected and examined, but no satisfactory account of the conflagration could be given; but the general opinion was that the fire originated from design.

While we lived at the Glass House farm, about the close of the war, when many of the Hessians were still in the country, a singular circumstance happened at our place which I will relate, not that I was a believer in witchcraft, but to show how general the belief is in every part of the world. In Syria and Egypt, long since that period, my mind has been perplexed to account for many things that seemed to be out of the common course of nature. I will tell the story as it was: My father had on his place three cows. One of them drooped very much and appeared very poor and sulky. We had two colored men, one of whom had been taken by the English army and made to drive a wagon for the Hessians, and he became acquainted with their tricks and contrivances. He said to my father, “I now know, master, what is the matter with our cow; master, if you go on the top of the hill you will see her coming this way.” Sure enough, as Shadrach—for this was the name of the colored man-had suggested, she made her appearance, when the fellow cut off a piece of the cow's tail, and away she bounded, as far as she could, for fences. As we stood there, a Hessian soldier came from our kitchen, then another from a neighbor's house, to the very spot where the cow was. My father called them by name; they had their heads bound up as they came near the cow. The moment they saw my father they said they were sick, and were looking for herbs to cure them of a bad headache, cold and fever. These men were not sick before Shadrach performed his counter charm by letting blood, but after this they were really ill, and kept their beds for several days. The colored man said he had known many instances like this, and that the two men had done the art. The cow soon got well. He who laughs at superstition more than half believes in supernatural agency, and he who defends his belief in enchantments must often be ashamed at his own credulity.

« AnteriorContinuar »