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Chapter 7 - "The Governor's Hall,"

In Chapter 7 - "The Governor's Hall," Hawthorne alludes to war against the now extinct Algonquian Massachusetts Indians (1636-1637). He describes the armor Governor Bellingham wore to fight against the Indians and then later displayed in his mansion. It is curious that he alludes to Rev. Mr Blackstone (1595-1675.) This early settler of Boston hated the Puritans so he allied himself with the Indians after the Puritans arrived.

(from Notes: cuirass, gorget, greaves, gauntlets, sword, helmet, breastplate; courtesy of Eldritch Press Web text of The Scarlet Letter)

"The helmet protects the head. A gorget protects the neck. A gauntlet protects the hand. A cuirass is a piece of armor extending from neck to waist, often just the breastplate for the front; it used to be made of leather but by this time was metal. Greaves protect the legs below the knees. The sword would be used to fight in close combat and thus not too long, but strong enough to cut armor. The Indians did not have any armor--all this armor would have made fighters very clumsy--and all this armor was supposed to fend off Indian arrows, but did not always do the job. (Cortes found when invading Mexico that arrows could easily penetrate metal, so he then adopted the cotton padding armor of the Aztecs.) Nevertheless, it was as important for display as for function--the sight of gleaming armor was supposed to scare away the enemy. We see that Pearl here "reads" the armor in a naive way, not realizing its role in enforcing society's rules, against the wild Indians and potentially against wild Pearl. At this time there were few muskets in New England, and they were not very accurate. Cross-bows and pikes were used by lower-class soldiers."

[from Notes: Reverend Mr. Blackstone ; courtesy of Eldritch Press Web text of The Scarlet Letter)

"Indeed [Mr. Blackstone] is supposed to be the first settler, in the area of the new State House in Boston, and legend does say that he used to ride a bull. He did not get along with the Puritans, who frowned on eccentrics such as Blackstone, so they bought him out and he moved to Rhode Island. It is not known if he left any apple trees, but Hawthorne's uncle was a well-regarded pomologist, or apple tree expert, and Hawthorne had helped him write a book on the subject,so we should take his word for it."

Excerpts from Chapter 7 "The Governor's Hall"

  1. At about the centre of the oaken panels, that lined the hall, was suspended a suit of mail, not, like the pictures, an ancestral relic, but of the most modern date; for it had been manufactured by a skilful armorer in London, the same year in which Governor Bellingham came over to New England. There was a steel head-piece, a cuirass, a gorget, and greaves, with a pair of gauntlets and a sword hanging beneath; all, and especially the helmet and breastplate, so highly burnished as to glow with white radiance, and scatter an illumination everywhere about upon the floor. This bright panoply was not meant for mere idle show, but had been worn by the Governor on many a solemn muster and training field, and had glittered, moreover, at the head of a regiment in the Pequod war. For, though bred a lawyer, and accustomed to speak of Bacon, Coke, Noye, and Finch, as his professional associates, the exigencies of this new country had transformed Governor Bellingham into a soldier, as well as a statesman and ruler.

  2. There were a few rose-bushes, however, and a number of apple-trees, probably the descendants of those planted by the Reverend Mr. Blackstone, the first settler of the peninsula; that half mythological personage who rides through our early annals, seated on the back of a bull.



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