Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  A Reckoning with Ethan Allen

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

A Reckoning with Ethan Allen

By James Rivington (1724–1802)

[From Thomas’s History of Printing in America. 1810.]

I WAS sitting alone, after a good dinner, with a bottle of Madeira, before me, when I heard an unusual noise in the street and a huzza from the boys. I was in the second story, and, stepping to the window, saw a tall figure in tarnished regimentals, with a large cocked hat and an enormous long sword, followed by a crowd of boys, who occasionally cheered him with huzzas of which he seemed insensible. He came up to my door and stopped. I could see no more. My heart told me it was Ethan Allen. I shut my window and retired behind my table and my bottle. I was certain the hour of reckoning had come. There was no retreat. Mr. Staples, my clerk, came in paler than ever, and, clasping his hands, said, “Master, he has come!” “I know it.” “He entered the store and asked if James Rivington lived there. I answered ‘Yes, sir.’ ‘Is he at home?’ ‘I will go and see, sir,’ I said; and now, master, what is to be done! There he is in the store and the boys peeping at him from the street.” I had made up my mind. I looked at the Madeira—possibly took a glass. “Show him up,” said I, “and if such Madeira cannot mollify him he must be harder than adamant.” There was a fearful moment of suspense. I heard him on the stairs, his long sword clanking at every step. In he stalked. “Is your name James Rivington?” “It is, sir, and no man could be more happy to see Colonel Ethan Allen.” “Sir, I have come—” “Not another word, my dear Colonel, until you have taken a seat and a glass of old Madeira.” “But, sir, I don’t think it proper—” “Not another word, Colonel; taste this wine, I have had it in glass for ten years; old wine, you know, unless it is originally sound, never improves by age.” He took the glass, swallowed the wine, smacked his lips and shook his head approvingly. “Sir, I come—” “Not another word until you have taken another glass, and then, my dear Colonel, we will talk of old affairs, and I have some queer events to detail.” In short, we finished two bottles of Madeira and parted as good friends as if we had never had cause to be otherwise.