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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

His Decline and Fall

By Anonymous

[From “Ingrams Proseedings,” in the “Burwell Papers.” Published by the Mass. Hist. Soc. 1814.]

I HAVE either heard or have read that a complete general ought to be owner of these three induements: Wisdom to foresee, experience to choose, and courage to execute. He that wants the two last, can never have the first; since a wise man will never undertake more than he is able to perform. He that hath the two first, wanting the last, makes but a lame commander; since courage is an inseparable adjunct to the bare name of a soldier, much more to a general. He that wants the second, having the first and the last, is no less imperfect than the other; since without experience, wisdom and courage (like young doctors) do but grope in the dark, or strike by guess….

Capt. Grantham had now been some time in York River. A man unto whom Virginia is very much beholden for his neat contrivance, in bringing Ingram (and some others) over to hearken to reason. With Ingram he had some small acquaintance, for it was in his ship that he came to Virginia; and so resolved to try if he might not do that by words, which others could not accomplish with swords. Now although he knew that Ingram was the point where all the lines of his contrivance were for to centre, yet he could not tell very well how to obtain this point. For although he did know that Ingram, in his private condition, was accostable enough; yet since the titmouse (by one of Fortune’s figaries) was become an elephant, he did not know but that his pride might be as immense as his power: since the peacock (though bred upon a dunghill) is no less proud of his fine feathers than the princely eagle is of his noble courage. What arguments Grantham made use of, to wring the sword out of Ingram’s hand, to me is not visible, more than what he told me of; which I think was not Mercurial enough against an ordinary sophister. But to speak the truth, it may be imagined that Grantham at this time could not bring more reasons to convince Ingram, than Ingram had in his own head to convince himself; and so did only await some favorable overtures (and such as Grantham might, it is possible, now make) to bring him over to the other side. Neither could he apprehend more reason in Grantham’s arguments, than in his own affairs, which now provoked him to dismount from the back of that horse which he wanted skill, and strength, to manage; especially there being some of his own party waiting an opportunity to toss him out of the saddle of his new mounted honors; and of whose designs he wanted not some intelligence, in the countenances of his myrmidons; who began for to look askew upon this, their milksop General; who they judged fitter to dance upon a rope, or in some of his wenches’ laps, than to caper, either to Bellona’s bagpipe, or Mars’s whistle.

But though Ingram was won upon to turn honest in this thing (thanks to his necessity, which made it an act of compulsion, not a free-will offering) yet was the work but half done, until the soldiers were wrought upon to follow his example. And though he himself, or any body else, might command them to take up their arms, when any mischief was to be done, yet it was a question whether he, or any in the country, could command them to lay down their arms, for to effect or do any good. In such a case as this, where authority wants power, discretion must be made use of, as a virtue surmounting a brutish force. Grantham, though he had been but awhile in the country, and had seen but little as to matter of action, yet he had heard a great deal; and so much that the name of Authority had but little power to wring the sword out of these mad fellows’ hands, as he did perceive. And that there was more hopes to effect that by smooth words, which was never likely to be accomplished by rough deeds; therefore he resolved to accost them, as the Devil courted Eve, though to a better purpose, with never-to-be-performed promises: counting it no sin to ludificate those for their good, that had been deceived by others to their hurt. He knew that men were to be treated as such, and children according to their childish dispositions; and although it was not with both these he was now to deal, yet he was to observe the several tempers of those he was to work upon.

What number of soldiers was, at this time, in garrison at West Point, I am not certain. It is said about two hundred and fifty, summed up in freemen, servants and slaves; these three ingredients being the composition of Bacon’s army, ever since that the Governor left town. These was informed (to prepare the way) two or three days before that Grantham came to them, that there was a treaty on foot between their General and the Governor; and that Grantham did mainly promote the same, as he was a person that favored the cause that they were contending for.

When that Grantham arrived amongst these fine fellows, he was received with more than an ordinary respect; which he having repaid with a suitable deportment, he acquaints them with his commission, which was to tell them that there was a peace concluded between the Governor and their General; and since himself had, in some measure, used his endeavors to bring the same to pass, he begged of the Governor that he might have the honor to come and acquaint them with the terms; which he said was such that they had all cause to rejoice at, than anyways to think hardly of the same; there being a complete satisfaction to be given (by the articles of agreement) according to every one’s particular interest; which he summed up under these heads: And first, those that were now in arms, and freemen, under the General, were still to be retained in arms, if they so pleased, against the Indians. Secondly, and for those who had a desire for to return home to their own abodes, care was taken for to have them satisfied for the time they had been out, according to the allowance made the Lost Assembly. And lastly, those that were servants in arms, and behaved themselves well in their employment, should immediately receive discharges from their indentures, signed by the Governor, or Secretary of State; and their masters to receive, from the public, a valuable satisfaction for every servant so set free (mark the words), proportionally to the time that they have to serve.

Upon these terms the soldiers forsake West Point, and go with Grantham to kiss the Governor’s hands (still at Tindell’s Point) and to receive the benefit of the articles mentioned by Grantham; where when they came (which was by water, themselves in one vessel, and their arms in another; and so contrived by Grantham, as he told me himself, upon good reason) the servants and slaves was sent home to their masters, there to stay till the Governor had leisure to sign their discharges, or, to say better, till they were free according to the custom of the country; the rest was made prisoners, or entertained by the Governor, as he found them inclined.