| This Country of Ours|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Stories from the history of the United States beginning with a full account of exploration and settlement and ending with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. The 99 chapters are grouped under 7 headings: Stories of Explorers and Pioneers, Stories of Virginia, Stories of New England, Stories of the Middle and Southern Colonies, Stories of the French in America, Stories of the Struggle for Liberty, and Stories of the United States under the Constitution. Ages 10-14 |
THE STORY OF HARRY VANE
 ABOUT this time there came to Massachusetts a handsome young
adventurer named Sir Harry Vane. His face "was comely and fair,"
and his thick brown hair curly and long, so that he looked more
like a Cavalier than a Puritan. He was in fact the eldest son of
a Cavalier, one of the King's chosen councillors. But in spite of
his birth and upbringing, in spite even of his looks, Harry Vane
was a Puritan. And he gave up all the splendour of life at court,
he left father and mother and fortune, and came to New England for
"Sir Henry Vane hath as good as lost his eldest son who is gone to
New England for conscience' sake," wrote a friend. "He likes not
the discipline of the Church of England. None of our ministers would
give him the Sacrament standing: no persuasions of our Bishops nor
authority of his parents could prevail with him. Let him go."
As soon as Harry Vane arrived in Massachusetts he began to take an
interest in the affairs of the colony. And perhaps because of his
great name as much as his fair face, grey-haired men who had far
more experience listened to his youthful advice and bowed to his
judgment. And before six months were passed he, although a mere
lad of twenty-three, was chosen as Governor. A new Governor, you
remember, was chosen every year.
At home Harry Vane had been accustomed to the pomp and splendour
of courts and now he began to keep far greater state as Governor
than any one had done before
 him. Because he was son and heir to a
Privy Councillor in England the ships in the harbour fired a salute
when he was elected, and when he went to church or court of justice
a bodyguard of four soldiers marched before him wearing steel
corslet and cap, and carrying halberds. He made, too, a sort of
royal progress through his little domain, visiting all the settlements.
But although begun with such pomp Vane's year of office was by no
means a peaceful one. He was young and inexperienced, and he was
not strong enough to deal with questions which even the oldest among
the settlers found hard to settle. Yet with boyish presumption he
set himself to the task. And although he failed, he left his mark
on the life of the colony. His was one more voice raised in the cause
of freedom. His was one more hand pointing the way to toleration.
But he was too tempestuous, too careless of tact, too eager to
hurry to the good end. So instead of keeping the colony with him
he created dissension. People took sides, some eagerly supporting
the young Governor, but a far larger party as eagerly opposing him.
So after nine months of office Harry Vane saw that where he had
meant to create fair order his hand created only disorder. And
utterly disheartened he begged the Council to relieve him of the
governorship and allow him to go home to England.
But when one of his friends stood up and spoke in moving terms of
the great loss he would be, Harry Vane burst into tears and declared
he would stay, only he could not bear all the squabbling that had
been going on, nor to hear it constantly said that he was the cause
Then, when the Council declared that if that was the only reason
he had for going they could not give him leave, he repented of
what he had said, and declared he must go for reasons of private
business, and that anything else he had said was only said in
 Whereupon the court consented in silence to his going.
All this was not very dignified for the Governor of a state, but
hardly surprising from a passionate youth who had undertaken a task
too difficult for him, and felt himself a failure. However Vane
did not go. He stayed on to the end of his time, and even sought
to be re-elected.
But feeling against him was by this time far too keen. He was
rejected as Governor, and not even chosen as one of the Council.
This hurt him deeply, he sulked in a somewhat undignified manner,
and at length in August sailed home, never to return.
He had flashed like a brilliant meteor across the dull life of the
colony. He made strife at the time, but afterwards there was no
bitterness. When the colonists were in difficulties they were ever
ready to ask help from Harry Vane, and he as readily gave it. Even
his enemies had to acknowledge his uprightness and generosity. "At
all times," wrote his great-hearted adversary, Winthrop, "he showed
himself a true friend to New England, and a man of noble and generous
He took a great part in the troublous times which now came upon
England, and more than twenty years later he died bravely on the
scaffold for the cause to which he had given his life.
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