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In 1804 Stephen Higginson once more presided, Christopher Gore, Peleg Coffin, and William Tudor acting as vice-presidents. The hall was decorated with portraits of Winthrop, Endicott, Higginson, Bradstreet, and Rogers, and with busts of Washington and Hamilton. One account reads:
LANDING OF THE FATHERS. The 184th anniversary of the landing of the first settlers of NewEngland, was celebrated on Saturday last, in this town, by a numerous company, who dined together, in the usual appropriate style, at ConcertHall. About 35 years since, this anniversary began to be celebrated, by the Inhabitants of Plymouth, where the first settlement in NewEngland was effected in 1620. In 1797, it was first noticed in this town, by a small company, of whom the late Dr. Belknap was one. Since that time, it has been annually observed, by increased numbers. The recent enlargement of the Hall, afforded accommodation to a larger collection, the present year, than had ever before assembled on a similar occasion. Nearly two hundred gentlemen partook of the entertainment, among whom were many of the Clergy of the Town and Vicinity, Officers of the University, the President of the Senate, and several other respectable guests. . . . Sentiment and Song enlivened the feast; and appropriate music accompanied the Toasts, a copy of which we have procured. ...
3. The New-England Minority — Like true Puritans, not intimidated, though involved in the "sin and danger of Non-conformity."
16. The memory of Lady Arabella Johnson, and all the primitive Dames of NewEngland, who cheered the toils of the Pilgrims, and participated in the hardships of their arduous enterprise.
Louisiana - A country of golden dreams and leaden realities.
The memory of Dr. BELKNAP - The American Plutarch; the distinguished Biographer of the PILGRIMS. ...
AMONG the guests who attended the feast of shells are said to be, the judges of the Supreme Court! — Quere, if they can find time to attend at Vila's, why cannot they fulfil the duties of their office? ... Oh! the rare sons of the pilgrims! eating and carousing to celebrate the hardships, toils, and dangers of their forefathers! CARVER and STANDISH, we believe, were more respected by these young pilgrims for their appropriate names to a dissected wild fowle, and a haunch of venison than for their political principles. ...
1 The two volumes of Belknap's American Biography (1794, 1798) contain the lives of many early explorers and settlers, among the latter Carver, Bradford, Brewster, Cushman, Winslow, Standish, John Winthrop, and John Winthrop, Jr.
The pleasures of the feast were greatly enhanced by a number of excellent songs and catches by Mr. Shaw professor of music, and Messrs. Fox and Bernard of the Theatre.
1 Gilbert Fox and John Bernard, the noted English actor. The latter had made his first appearance in Boston a year before, as appears from an advertisement in the Columbian Centinel of November 5, 1805:
On Monday Evening, Nov. 7, will be presented for the first time these four years, a Play in 3 acts, (interspersed with Singing,) called, The Battle of Hexham; — or Days of Old. Written by Colman, the Younger. Gondibert, Mr. Barratt; Gregory Gubbins, Mr. Bernard; (his first appearance in Boston) From the Theatres of Philadelphia and Baltimore (p. 3/1).
Of the twelve who formed the Old Colony Club in 1769, five were graduates of Harvard College: Oakes Angier, 1764; John Thomas and Edward Winslow, Jr., 1765; John Watson, 1766; and Alexander Scammell, 1769. Plays were acted by the students, sometimes with the sanction of the college authorities, as early as 1758 (Nation, March 19, 1914, xcviii. 295); and some if not all of the above five may well have taken part in them. At all events, though the Boston Theatre was first opened on February 3, 1794, it is interesting to note that on February 8, 1770, “This evening was read at the Hall the ‘Provoked Husband,' a comedy, by M' M. A. Warwel, to a company of about forty gentlemen and ladies, by invitation of the Club” (Records, p. 407). Among the guests of the Club present on July 29 and August 5, 1772, was Joseph Croswell, “a shop-keeper in Plymouth" (Records, pp. 430–431, 431 note). In later years Croswell wrote & play entitled: "A New World Planted; or, the Adventures of the Forefathers of NewEngland; who landed in Plymouth, December 22, 1620. An Historical Drama - in Five Acts. By Joseph Croswell. Boston: . . . 1802.” A notice in the Boston Weekly Magazine of Saturday, December 18, states that “On Monday next, will be published ... an Historical Drama, . . . By Joseph Croswell” (i. 31). The play, which is the earliest known to me on the subject of the Pilgrims, deals chiefly with the conspiracy of John Lyford and John Oldham; but among the characters are Pocahonte, a daughter of Massasoit, and “Hampden, a young gentleman, who came to view the country, in love with Pocahonte." So far as I am aware, Croswell's play was never acted.
It was stated in the Columbian Centinel of December 21, 1808, that "A new Melo Drama, entitled 'The Pilgrims,' is in rehearsal, and will speedily be brought forward” (p. 3/3) at the Boston Theatre. It was given on December 23d, 1808; on December 26th “for the second time;" and on January 2, 1809, “for the 3d and last time this season ... (with alterations)." Among the Indians are Massasoit, Squanto, Samoset, Chickatawbut, and “Yankee, an Indian Woman;" and among the "English Pilgrims" are Governor Carver, Capt. Standish, “Boatswain Blunder," Mr. Winslow, Mr. Cushman, and Juliana. Also, the “Genius of Columbia.” Among the performers who played “Other Pilgrims" occurs the name of “Mrs Poe,” who, seventeen days after the last performance, became the mother of Edgar Allan Poe. I have been unable to ascertain who the author of this play was, or whether it was ever published. The following description is taken from a copy of the play-bill owned by the Boston Public Library:
It will appear strange to many, that a festival originating in a grateful sense of the virtues of our forefathers, and a desire to perpetuate their memories, should not escape the malignity of democratic opposi
The Pilgrims, a new Melo Drama, never performed.
On FRIDAY EVENING, DEC. 23, 1808,
To which will be added, a new Melo Drama, written by a gentleman of Boston,
in 3 acts, called
In the course of the Melo Drama, the following Scenery, Incidents, &c. A View of the Rock and Plymouth Bay, and the landing of the Pilgrims. The
whole scene represents Winter, with a snow storm. After returning thanks to Heaven for their safe arrival, Carver orders one of the Pilgrims to cut
on the Rock, DECEMBER 22d, 1620, the day of their landing. An alarm of Indians; the Pilgrims place themselves in an attitude of defence;
Squanto and Samoset enter, and by the friendly disposition of the former, an arrangement is made; the Indians are loaded with presents and depart
well satisfied. A comic scene between an Irish Boatswain and an Indian Woman. The peril
ous situation of Juliana through the treachery of one of the Pilgrims. The
act concludes with a GLEE and CHORUS. In act II — Scene 1st Represents, several half finished Houses, at the end the
Store House, with the Standard fixed — a shell sounds to announce the arrival of Massasoit. A Grand INDIAN MARCH. A Treaty of Peace and Amity made and confirmed between Carver and Massasoit. The treachery of Samoset, who attempts to carry off the person of Juliana. She struggles and seizes his Tomahawk and pursues him — he implores her pardon — which she grants — he wrests the Tomahawk from her and aims a dreadful blow, when Winslow rushes in to her rescue — his gun misses fire — he draws his sword and a combat ensues — in the mean time Juliana takes the gun and fires at Samoset without effect — Winslow is wounded, and Samoset pursues Juliana — who is seen ascending a rock — she reaches the summit, and as Samoset is following, she strikes him with the fuzee, and he falls headlong down the precipice. Juliana is at length rescued by Massasoit.
tion. But so it is. The feast of the Sons of the Pilgrims is detested by the ranting Innovators of the present day, and the very mention of the habits and principles of those, to whom we owe many of our best institutions is a rock of offence.
The following satirical piece appeared in the Independent Chronicle of December 27, 1804 (p. 2):
THE PILGRIMS - A DREAM. IN consequence of the parade that is made previously to this mockcelebration, by our eating Aristocracy, I was induced to reflect upon the subject, and was lamenting that such a solemn, providential and virtuous occurrence as that of the landing of our forefathers, at Plymouth, should be thus satirized and rendered into burlesque, by men who neither possess their principles of pious thought nor liberal action; who would rather welcome a British tyrant to our shores, than retreat here from one.
In this state of rumination and regret, I fell asleep; and, methought I was translated to the Concert Hall, where a great number of well-fed, well-dressed Pilgrims, who had never endured penance beyond a drunken head-ache, were walking about with some impatience, looking at their gold watches, and demanding the dinner forthwith. At length the folding-doors of this magnificent banquet room were thrown open, and the perspiring cooks entered, with all the rarities of the season. At the upper end of the room was written, in letters of gold,
Eamus quo ducit gula, peregrini! and at the lower end was inscribed,
“'Tis merry in the hall,
THE INDIAN METHOD OF LYING IN AMBUSH.
Winslow and Juliana on their boughs.
Scene last — A View of an Indian Encampment. A Marriage and Nuptial Dance.
AFTER WHICH, The Genius of Columbia descends in a Magnificent Temple, surrounded with Clouds.
1 New England Palladium, December 25, 1804, p. 2/5; Columbian Centinel, December 26, 1804, pp. 1-2.
I observed that the company attempted to eat their soup, at first, with cockle shells, (a la Palerin) but his honor, the moderator, having spilled some fat broth on a new pair of black satin breeches, he called for spoons, and the antique fashion was abandoned. . . . When they filled a bumper to the memory of our oppressed but honored forefathers, I observed that some quizzing Pilgrims leered in derision, while they gulphed down the votive potation!
When the cloth was removed, the presiding actor at the serio-tragic comic, annual farce, called on Pilgrim Ben for a sentiment; who archly gave, “in gaining a pint, may we never lose a gallon.” Some of the party began to murmur at this idea, as a sarcasm, retrospectively levelled at the recent misfortune of the Aristocracy. At length order was restored, by the president calling for the following annual commemorative song or hymn:
The PilgrIMS in MASQUERADE,
FEDERALISM in the SUDS!
And laugh at Liberty!
Is known 'twixt you and me! ...
Forefathers. - In celebrating the arrival of our forefathers, it is proper, not only that their political, but religious principles should be venerated. — Quere, whether our pious ancestors spent their Saturday evenings in a bacchanalian repast, and trespassed on the solemnities of the Sabbath, by jocular songs, and other demonstrations of irreligion. — But this is modern religion under the sanction of federalism.
Say, ye Priests, ye ministers of the pure, peaceable, and holy religion of Jesus, how can you mingle, in the laugh of revenge, the toasts of slander, and the song of personal contempt, on a Saturday evening, and bend with confidence over the board of devotion on the day following!
· Independent Chronicle, December 24, 1804, p. 3/1.