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Such thoroughfares as King Street, just before the Revolution, were filled with horsemen, donkeys, oxen, and long-tailed trucks, with a sprinkling of one-horse chaises and coaches of the kind seen in Hogarth's realistic pictures of London life. To these should be added the chimney-sweeps, wood-sawyers, market-women, soldiers, and sailors, who are now quite as much out of date as the vehicles themselves are. There being no sidewalks, the narrow footway was protected, here and there, sometimes by posts, sometimes by an old cannon set upright at the corners, so that the traveller dismounted from his horse or alighted from coach or chaise at the very threshold.

Next in the order of antiquity, as well as fame, to the taverns already named, comes the =Bunch of Grapes= in King, now State Street. The plain three-story stone building situated at the upper corner of Kilby Street stands where the once celebrated tavern did. Three gilded clusters of grapes dangled temptingly over the door before the eye of the passer-by. Apart from its palate-tickling suggestions, a pleasant aroma of antiquity surrounds this symbol, so dear to all devotees of Bacchus from immemorial time. In _Measure for Measure_ the clown says, "'Twas in the Bunch of Grapes, where indeed you have a delight to sit, have you not?" And Froth answers, "I have so, because it is an open room and good for winter."


This house goes back to the year 1712, when Francis Holmes kept it, and perhaps further still, though we do not meet with it under this title before Holmes's time. From that time, until after the Revolution, it appears to have always been open as a public inn, and, as such, is feelingly referred to by one old traveller as the best punch-house to be found in all Boston.

When the line came to be drawn between conditional loyalty, and loyalty at any rate, the Bunch of Grapes became the resort of the High Whigs, who made it a sort of political headquarters, in which patriotism only passed current, and it was known as the Whig tavern. With military occupation and bayonet rule, still further intensifying public feeling, the line between Whig and Tory houses was drawn at the threshold. It was then kept by Marston. Cold welcome awaited the appearance of scarlet regimentals or a Tory phiz there; so gentlemen of that side of politics also formed cliques of their own at other houses, in which the talk and the toasts were more to their liking, and where they could abuse the Yankee rebels over their port to their heart's content.

But, apart from political considerations, one or two incidents have given the Bunch of Grapes a kind of pre-eminence over all its contemporaries, and, therefore, ought not to be passed over when the house is mentioned.

On Monday, July 30, 1733, the first grand lodge of Masons in America was organized here by Henry Price, a Boston tailor, who had received authority from Lord Montague, Grand Master of England, for the purpose.

Again, upon the evacuation of Boston by the royal troops, this house became the centre for popular demonstrations. First, His Excellency, General Washington, was handsomely entertained there. Some months later, after hearing the Declaration read from the balcony of the Town-house, the populace, having thus made their appeal to the King of kings, proceeded to pull down from the public buildings the royal arms which had distinguished them, and, gathering them in a heap in front of the tavern, made a bonfire of them, little imagining, we think, that the time would ever come when the act would be looked upon as vandalism on their part.

General Stark's timely victory at Bennington was celebrated with all the more heartiness of enthusiasm in Boston because the people had been quaking with fear ever since the fall of Ticonderoga sent dismay throughout New England. The affair is accurately described in the following letter, written by a prominent actor, and going to show how such things were done in the times that not only tried men's souls, but would seem also to have put their stomachs to a pretty severe test. The writer says:--

"In consequence of this news we kept it up in high taste. At sundown about one hundred of the first gentlemen of the town, with all the strangers then in Boston, met at the Bunch of Grapes, where good liquors and a side-table were provided. In the street were two brass field-pieces with a detachment of Colonel Craft's regiment. In the balcony of the Town-house all the fifes and drums of my regiment were stationed. The ball opened with a discharge of thirteen cannon, and at every toast given three rounds were fired and a flight of rockets sent up. About nine o'clock two barrels of grog were brought out into the street for the people that had collected there. It was all conducted with the greatest propriety, and by ten o'clock every man was at his home."

Shortly after this General Stark himself arrived in town and was right royally entertained here, at that time presenting the trophies now adorning the Senate Chamber. On his return from France in 1780 Lafayette was also received at this house with all the honors, on account of having brought the news that France had at last cast her puissant sword into the trembling balance of our Revolutionary contest.

But the important event with which the Bunch of Grapes is associated is, not the reception of a long line of illustrious guests, but the organization, by a number of continental officers, of the Ohio Company, under which the settlement of that great State began in earnest, at Marietta. The leading spirit in this first concerted movement of New England toward the Great West was General Rufus Putnam, a cousin of the more distinguished officer of Revolutionary fame.

Taking this house as a sample of the best that the town could afford at the beginning of the century, we should probably find a company of about twenty persons assembled at dinner, who were privileged to indulge in as much familiar chat as they liked. No other formalities were observed than such as good breeding required. Two o'clock was the hour at which all the town dined. The guests were called together by the ringing of a bell in the street. They were served with salmon in season, veal, beef, mutton, fowl, ham, vegetables, and pudding, and each one had his pint of Madeira set before him. The carving was done at the table in the good old English way, each guest helping himself to what he liked best. Five shillings per day was the usual charge, which was certainly not an exorbitant one. In half an hour after the cloth was removed the table was usually deserted.

The British Coffee-House was one of the first inns to take to itself the newly imported title. It stood on the site of the granite building numbered 66 State Street, and was, as its name implies, as emphatically the headquarters of the out-and-out loyalists as the Bunch of Grapes, over the way, was of the unconditional Whigs. A notable thing about it was the performance there in 1750, probably by amateurs, of Otway's "Orphan," an event which so outraged public sentiment as to cause the enactment of a law prohibiting the performance of stage plays under severe penalties.

Perhaps an even more notable occurrence was the formation in this house of the first association in Boston taking to itself the distinctive name of a Club. The Merchants' Club, as it was called, met here as early as 1751. Its membership was not restricted to merchants, as might be inferred from its title, though they were possibly in a majority, but included crown officers, members of the bar, military and naval officers serving on the station, and gentlemen of high social rank of every shade of opinion. No others were eligible to membership.

Up to a certain time this club, undoubtedly, represented the best culture, the most brilliant wit, and most delightful companionship that could be brought together in all the colonies; but when the political sky grew dark the old harmony was at an end, and a division became inevitable, the Whigs going over to the Bunch of Grapes, and thereafter taking to themselves the name of the Whig Club.[1]

Under date of 1771, John Adams notes down in his Diary this item: "Spent the evening at Cordis's, in the front room towards the Long Wharf, where the Merchants' Club has met these twenty years. It seems there is a schism in that church, a rent in that garment." Cordis was then the landlord.[2]

Social and business meetings of the bar were also held at the Coffee-House, at one of which Josiah Quincy, Jr. was admitted. By and by the word "American" was substituted for "British" on the Coffee-House sign, and for some time it flourished under its new title of the American Coffee-House.

But before the clash of opinions had brought about the secession just mentioned, the best room in this house held almost nightly assemblages of a group of patriotic men, who were actively consolidating all the elements of opposition into a single force. Not inaptly they might be called the Old Guard of the Revolution. The principals were Otis, Cushing, John Adams, Pitts, Dr. Warren, and Molyneux. Probably no minutes of their proceedings were kept, for the excellent reason that they verged upon, if they did not overstep, the treasonable.

His talents, position at the bar, no less than intimate knowledge of the questions which were then so profoundly agitating the public mind, naturally made Otis the leader in these conferences, in which the means for counteracting the aggressive measures then being put in force by the ministry formed the leading topic of discussion. His acute and logical mind, mastery of public law, intensity of purpose, together with the keen and biting satire which he knew so well how to call to his aid, procured for Otis the distinction of being the best-hated man on the Whig side of politics, because he was the one most feared. Whether in the House, the court-room, the taverns, or elsewhere, Otis led the van of resistance. In military phrase, his policy was the offensive-defensive. He was no respecter of ignorance in high places. Once when Governor Bernard sneeringly interrupted Otis to ask him who the authority was whom he was citing, the patriot coldly replied, "He is a very eminent jurist, and none the less so for being unknown to your Excellency."

It was in the Coffee-House that Otis, in attempting to pull a Tory nose, was set upon and so brutally beaten by a place-man named Robinson, and his friends, as to ultimately cause the loss of his reason and final withdrawal from public life. John Adams says he was "basely assaulted by a well-dressed banditti, with a commissioner of customs at their head." What they had never been able to compass by fair argument, the Tories now succeeded in accomplishing by brute force, since Otis was forever disqualified from taking part in the struggle which he had all along foreseen was coming,--and which, indeed, he had done more to bring about than any single man in the colonies.

Connected with this affair is an anecdote which we think merits a place along with it. It is related by John Adams, who was an interested listener. William Molyneux had a petition before the legislature which did not succeed to his wishes, and for several evenings he had wearied the company with his complaints of services, losses, sacrifices, etc., always winding up with saying, "That a man who has behaved as I have should be treated as I am is intolerable," with much more to the same effect. Otis had said nothing, but the whole club were disgusted and out of patience, when he rose from his seat with the remark, "Come, come, Will, quit this subject, and let us enjoy ourselves. I also have a list of grievances; will you hear it?" The club expected some fun, so all cried out, "Ay! ay! let us hear your list."

"Well, then, in the first place, I resigned the office of advocate-general, which I held from the crown, which produced me--how much do you think?"

"A great deal, no doubt," said Molyneux.

"Shall we say two hundred sterling a year?"

"Ay, more, I believe," said Molyneux.

"Well, let it be two hundred. That, for ten years, is two thousand. In the next place, I have been obliged to relinquish the greater part of my business at the bar. Will you set that at two hundred pounds more?"

"Oh, I believe it much more than that!" was the answer.

"Well, let it be two hundred. This, for ten years, makes two thousand. You allow, then, I have lost four thousand pounds sterling?"

"Ay, and more too," said Molyneux. Otis went on: "In the next place, I have lost a hundred friends, among whom were men of the first rank, fortune, and power in the province. At what price will you estimate them?"

"D--n them!" said Molyneux, "at nothing. You are better off without them than with them."

A loud laugh from the company greeted this sally.

"Be it so," said Otis. "In the next place, I have made a thousand enemies, among whom are the government of the province and the nation. What do you think of this item?"

"That is as it may happen," said Molyneux, reflectively.

"In the next place, you know I love pleasure, but I have renounced pleasure for ten years. What is that worth?"

"No great matter: you have made politics your amusement."

A hearty laugh.

"In the next place, I have ruined as fine health as nature ever gave to man."

"That is melancholy indeed; there is nothing to be said on that point," Molyneux replied.

"Once more," continued Otis, holding down his head before Molyneux, "look upon this head!" (there was a deep, half-closed scar, in which a man might lay his finger)--"and, what is worse my friends think I have a monstrous crack in my skull."

This made all the company look grave, and had the desired effect of making Molyneux who was really a good companion, heartily ashamed of his childish complaints.

Another old inn of assured celebrity was the Cromwell's Head, in School Street. This was a two-story wooden building of venerable appearance, conspicuously displaying over the footway a grim likeness of the Lord Protector, it is said much to the disgust of the ultra royalists, who, rather than pass underneath it, habitually took the other side of the way. Indeed, some of the hot-headed Tories were for serving Cromwell's Head as that man of might had served their martyr king's. So, when the town came under martial law, mine host Brackett, whose family kept the house for half a century or more, had to take down his sign, and conceal it until such time as the "British hirelings" should have made their inglorious exit from the town.

After Braddock's crushing defeat in the West, a young Virginian colonel, named George Washington, was sent by Governor Dinwiddie to confer with Governor Shirley, who was the great war governor of his day, as Andrew was of our own, with the difference that Shirley then had the general direction of military affairs, from the Ohio to the St. Lawrence, pretty much in his own hands. Colonel Washington took up his quarters at Brackett's, little imagining, perhaps, that twenty years later he would enter Boston at the head of a victorious republican army, after having quartered his troops in Governor Shirley's splendid mansion.

Major-General the Marquis Chastellux, of Rochambeau's auxiliary army, also lodged at the Cromwell's Head when he was in Boston in 1782. He met there the renowned Paul Jones, whose excessive vanity led him to read to the company in the coffee-room some verses composed in his own honor, it is said, by Lady Craven.

From the tavern of the gentry we pass on to the tavern of the mechanics, and of the class which Abraham Lincoln has forever distinguished by the title of the common people.

Among such houses the Salutation, which stood at the junction of Salutation with North Street, is deserving of a conspicuous place. Its vicinity to the shipyards secured for it the custom of the sturdy North End shipwrights, caulkers, gravers, sparmakers, and the like,--a numerous body, who, while patriots to the backbone, were also quite clannish and independent in their feelings and views, and consequently had to be managed with due regard to their class prejudices, as in politics they always went in a body. Shrewd politicians, like Samuel Adams, understood this. Governor Phips owed his elevation to it. As a body, therefore, these mechanics were extremely formidable, whether at the polls or in carrying out the plans of their leaders. To their meetings the origin of the word caucus is usually referred, the word itself undoubtedly having come into familiar use as a short way of saying caulkers' meetings.

The Salutation became the point of fusion between leading Whig politicians and the shipwrights. More than sixty influential mechanics attended the first meeting, called in 1772, at which Dr. Warren drew up a code of by-laws. Some leading mechanic, however, was always chosen to be the moderator. The "caucus," as it began to be called, continued to meet in this place until after the destruction of the tea, when, for greater secrecy, it became advisable to transfer the sittings to another place, and then the Green Dragon, in Union Street, was selected.

The Salutation had a sign of the sort that is said to tickle the popular fancy for what is quaint or humorous. It represented two citizens, with hands extended, bowing and scraping to each other in the most approved fashion. So the North-Enders nicknamed it "The Two Palaverers," by which name it was most commonly known. This house, also, was a reminiscence of the _Salutation_ in Newgate Street, London, which was the favorite haunt of Lamb and Coleridge.

The Green Dragon will probably outlive all its contemporaries in the popular estimation. In the first place a mural tablet, with a dragon sculptured in relief, has been set in the wall of the building that now stands upon some part of the old tavern site. It is the only one of the old inns to be so distinguished. Its sign was the fabled dragon, in hammered metal, projecting out above the door, and was probably the counterpart of the _Green Dragon_ in Bishopsgate Street, London.


As a public house this one goes back to 1712, when Richard Pullen kept it; and we also find it noticed, in 1715, as a place for entering horses to be run for a piece of plate of the value of twenty-five pounds. In passing, we may as well mention the fact that Revere Beach was the favorite race-ground of that day. The house was well situated for intercepting travel to and from the northern counties.


To resume the historical connection between the Salutation and Green Dragon, its worthy successor, it appears that Dr. Warren continued to be the commanding figure after the change of location; and, if he was not already the popular idol, he certainly came little short of it, for everything pointed to him as the coming leader whom the exigency should raise up. Samuel Adams was popular in a different way. He was cool, far-sighted, and persistent, but he certainly lacked the magnetic quality. Warren was much younger, far more impetuous and aggressive,--in short, he possessed all the more brilliant qualities for leadership which Adams lacked. Moreover, he was a fluent and effective speaker, of graceful person, handsome, affable, with frank and winning manners, all of which added no little to his popularity. Adams inspired respect, Warren confidence. As Adams himself said, he belonged to the "cabinet," while Warren's whole make-up as clearly marked him for the field.

In all the local events preliminary to our revolutionary struggle, this Green Dragon section or junto constituted an active and positive force. It represented the muscle of the Revolution. Every member was sworn to secrecy, and of them all one only proved recreant to his oath.

These were the men who gave the alarm on the eve of the battle of Lexington, who spirited away cannon under General Gage's nose, and who in so many instances gallantly fought in the ranks of the republican army. Wanting a man whom he could fully trust, Warren early singled out Paul Revere for the most important services. He found him as true as steel. A peculiar kind of friendship seems to have sprung up between the two, owing, perhaps, to the same daring spirit common to both. So when Warren sent word to Revere that he must instantly ride to Lexington or all would be lost, he knew that, if it lay in the power of man to do it, the thing would be done.

Besides the more noted of the tavern clubs there were numerous private coteries, some exclusively composed of politicians, others more resembling our modern debating societies than anything else. These clubs usually met at the houses of the members themselves, so exerting a silent influence on the body politic. The non-importation agreement originated at a private club in 1773. But all were not on the patriot side. The crown had equally zealous supporters, who met and talked the situation over without any of the secrecy which prudence counselled the other side to use in regard to their proceedings. Some associations endeavored to hold the balance between the factions by standing neutral. They deprecated the encroachments of the mother-country, but favored passive obedience. Dryden has described them:

  "Not Whigs nor Tories they, nor this nor that, Nor birds nor beasts, but just a kind of bat,--A twilight animal, true to neither cause, With Tory wings but Whiggish teeth and claws."

It should be mentioned that Gridley, the father of the Boston Bar, undertook, in 1765, to organize a law club, with the purpose of making head against Otis, Thatcher, and Auchmuty. John Adams and Fitch were Gridley's best men. They met first at Ballard's, and subsequently at each other's chambers; their "sodality," as they called it, being for professional study and advancement. Gridley, it appears, was a little jealous of his old pupil, Otis, who had beaten him in the famous argument on the Writs of Assistance. Mention is also made of a club of which Daniel Leonard (_Massachusettensis_), John Lowell, Elisha Hutchinson, Frank Dana, and Josiah Quincy were members. Similar clubs also existed in most of the principal towns in New England.

The Sons of Liberty adopted the name given by Colonel Barré to the enemies of passive obedience in America. They met in the counting-room of Chase and Speakman's distillery, near Liberty Tree.[3] Mackintosh, the man who led the mob in the Stamp Act riots, is doubtless the same person who assisted in throwing the tea overboard. We hear no more of him after this. The "Sons" were an eminently democratic organization, as few except mechanics were members. Among them were men like Avery, Crafts, and Edes the printer. All attained more or less prominence. Edes continued to print the _Boston Gazette_ long after the Revolution. During Bernard's administration he was offered the whole of the government printing, if he would stop his opposition to the measures of the crown. He refused the bribe, and his paper was the only one printed in America without a stamp, in direct violation of an Act of Parliament. The "Sons" pursued their measures with such vigor as to create much alarm among the loyalists, on whom the Stamp Act riots had made a lasting impression. Samuel Adams is thought to have influenced their proceedings more than any other of the leaders. It was by no means a league of ascetics, who had resolved to mortify the flesh, as punch and tobacco were liberally used to stimulate the deliberations.


No important political association outlived the beginning of hostilities. All the leaders were engaged in the military or civil service on one or the other side. Of the circle that met at the _Merchants'_ three were members of the Philadelphia Congress of 1774, one was president of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, the career of two was closed by death, and that of Otis by insanity.