History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume I, Page 481
Ovation to Gen. Eaton, who Attempts to eat a fig.-The following original anecdote, which we are not aware has ever before found its way into a book, came to the writer from his father, who had kept it in memory from the time of its occurrence. On his return from Egypt a grand ovation awaited Gen. Eaton everywhere; but in no city was he more kindly received than in New York. At a large evening party, in which the elite of the town was represented, among other dainties served were figs, for which he ever had a natural aversion. As the occasion was to do him honor, he took a few, thinking to force them to his stomach. He put one into his mouth, but, with his best endeavors, he could not swallow it; and took it out on the sly, and, as he had hoped, unobserved. At such a place the attractive feature, if any such there is, has at all times keen eyes riveted upon it ; and while attempting to get the offending subject into his handkerchief, he saw several ladies across the room already smiling at his dilemma. His embarrassment soon became apparent to many in the room, and his position was becoming an unenviable one. He could not-he would not become a laughing-stock, and he arose with dignity, advanced a step forward, and made a handsome speech, recounting the greatest perils and vicissitudes of his eventful life. He said he had been an actor in such and such scenes of the Revolution; he had been in certain vicissitudes among the Ohio and Kentucky Indians; he had traversed the sands of Egypt to meet a savage foe, who had quailed before him at the city of Derne. "But," he added with emphasis, laying the offending object in the palm of his open. hand, "I never met a foe in all my life that I could not conquer, until I met that d-d thing! " He took his seat amid the plaudits of the room, when he quietly explained his lasting aversion to figs, to find himself more lionized than ever.-Joseph Simms.
Here is Another Original Anecdote of Gen. Eaton.-Soon after his return from Egypt, he was riding in a carriage from Hartford to Boston, but whether alone or not, tradition does not inform us. He was passing along quietly through the parish of North Coventry, Tolland county, Ct., when, as he neared the village church, his coachman was ordered to stop, with a threatened fine for journeying on the Sabbath. As soon as the old soldier learned the cause of his detention, he thrust- his head from a carriage window, and with a pistol in hand he exclaimed: "Where is the man who stops my carriage? I don't care to shoot him, but I think I will! " In the next moment might have been seen the tail of a sanctimonious-looking man's coat streaming in the wind, as its wearer was making rapid strides toward the church door, fully realizing for once that he had caught a live tartar. The traveler was not again molested on his journey. This story, like its predecessor, is too well authenticated and too characteristic to be lost.-Henry Albro.
On the 12th of June, five days before the battle of Bunker's Hill, Gen. Gage issued a proclamation, offering pardon for past offenses to all Americans, except Samuel Adams and John Hancock. This was a good recognition of their patriotism.
The Congress, which met in the summer of 1775, had not yet determined to throw off allegiance to the British crown, and in July of that year, prepared a declaration of American grievances for the preceding ten years, with the causes which had led to them. They also drew up a respectful address to the King, in which they avowed boldly, that they were "resolved to die freemen rather than live slaves." This Congress established a general post-office and general hospital, and resolved to emit a paper currency. Its proceedings, however, effected nothing toward healing the difficulties with the mother country. In November the House of Lords, at the motion of the Duke of Richmond, met to interrogate ex-Governor Penn, who had been two years Governor of Pennsylvania. He stated, in reply to certain questions, that he had resided four years in the colonies; that he was personally acquainted with all the members of the American Congress; that the colonists were united; were, to considerable extent, prepared for war; could make powder, small arms and cannon; were more expert at ship-building than Europeans; and that, if a formidable force was sent to America, the number of colonists who would be found to join it would be too trivial to be of any consequence.
The Duke of Richmond then proposed the last petition of Congress to the King, as a base for a plan of accommodation, and urged the impossibility of ever conquering America, as the learned John Wilkes had emphatically done in the House of Commons the preceding February: but the motion was lost. In December, Mr. Hartley made an effort to have hostilities suspended: and, in the following February, Mr. Fox attempted the same thing, soon after which the King, by a treaty with the Prince of Hesse Cassel, made an arrangement to hire 16,000 troops of that Prince, to aid in subduing his American subjects. It was urged in vain, that they were setting the example for the colonies to call in foreign aid. In March, of 1776, the Duke of Grafton made another ineffectual attempt to open the eyes of the King and ministry, after which war was considered as actually declared. It was thought by the court party that one or two campaigns, at most, would bring America in sackcloth at the foot of the British throne.
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