Morgan's Run by Colleen McCullough


  Roden Cutler, V. C. (biography)

  The Song of Troy

  Caesar: Let the Dice Fly

  Caesar’s Women

  Fortune’s Favorites

  The Grass Crown

  The First Man in Rome

  The Ladies of Missalonghi

  A Creed for the Third Millennium

  An Indecent Obsession

  The Thorn Birds



  Rockefeller Center, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

  Visit us on the World Wide Web:

  This book is a work of fiction based upon eighteenth-century events and persons.

  Copyright © 2000 by Colleen McCullough

  All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

  SIMON & SCHUSTER and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

  ISBN-10: 0-7432-1467-6

  ISBN-13: 978-0-7432-1467-4

  For Ric, Brother John, Wayde, Joe, Helen, andall the other many hundreds of people alive today whocan trace their roots directly to Richard Morgan.

  But most of all, this book is for my beloved Melinda,the five-times-great-granddaughterof Richard Morgan.

  We are born owning many qualities; some we may never know we possess. It all depends what kind of run God gives us.








  Author’s Afterword

  Morgan’s Run



  August of 1775


  October of 1784

  “We are at war!” cried Mr. James Thiftlethwaite.

  Every head save Richard Morgan’s lifted and turned toward the door, where a bulky figure stood brandishing a sheet of flimsy. For a moment a pin might have been heard dropping, then a confused babble of exclamations erupted at every table in the tavern except for Richard Morgan’s. Richard had paid the stirring announcement scant heed: what did war with the thirteen American colonies matter, compared to the fate of the child he held on his lap? Cousin James-the-druggist had inoculated the little fellow against the smallpox four days ago, and now Richard Morgan waited, agonized, to see if the inoculation would take.

  “Come in, Jem, read it to us,” said Dick Morgan, Mine Host and Richard’s father, from behind his counter.

  Though the noonday sun shone outside and light did diffuse through the bullioned panes of Crown glass in the windows of the Cooper’s Arms, the large room was dim. So Mr. James Thistlethwaite strolled over to the counter and the rays of an oil lamp, the butt of a horse pistol protruding from each greatcoat pocket. Spectacles perched upon the end of his nose, he started to read aloud, voice rising and falling in dramatic cadences.

  Some of what he said did penetrate the fog of Richard Morgan’s worry—snatches, phrases only: “ ‘in open and avowed rebellion. . . . the utmost endeavors to suppress such rebellion, and bring the traitors to justice. . . . ’ ”

  Feeling the contempt in his father’s gaze, Richard genuinely tried to concentrate. But surely the fever was beginning? Was it? If so, then the inoculation was definitely taking. And if it did take, would William Henry be one of those who suffered the full disease anyway? Died anyway? Dear God, no!

  Mr. James Thistlethwaite was arriving at his peroration. “ ‘The die is now cast! The colonies must either submit or triumph!’ ” he thundered.

  “What an odd way for the King to put it,” said Mine Host.


  “It sounds as if the King deems a colonial triumph possible.”

  “Oh, I doubt that very much, Dick. His speech writer—some scurvy undersecretary to his bum boy Lord Bute, I hazard a guess—is fascinated with the balances of rhetoric—ah?” This last word was accompanied by a gesture, forefinger pointing to mouth.

  Mine Host grinned and ran a measure of rum into a small pewter mug, then turned to chalk a slash on the slate fixed to his wall.

  “Dick, Dick! My news merits one on the house!”

  “No it does not. We would have heard sooner or later.” Mine Host leaned his elbows on his counter in the place where they had worn two slight depressions and stared at the armed and greatcoated Mr. Thistlethwaite—mad as a March hare! The summer’s day was sweltering. “Seriously, Jem, it is not exactly a bolt from the blue, but these are shocking tidings all the same.”

  No other voice attempted to participate in their conversation; Dick Morgan stood well with his patrons, and Jem Thistlethwaite had long enjoyed a reputation as one of Bristol’s more eccentric intellectuals. The patrons were quite content to listen as they imbibed the tipple of their choice—rum, gin, beer, Bristol milk.

  The two Morgan wives were there to move about, pick up the empties and return them to Dick for refilling—and more slashes on the slate. It was nearly dinner time; the smell of new bread Peg Morgan had just brought in from Jenkins the baker was stealing through the other odors natural to a tavern adjacent to the Bristol quays at low tide. Most of the mixture of men, women and children present would remain to avail themselves of that same new bread, a pat of butter, a hunk of Somerset cheese, a steaming pewter platter of beef and potatoes swimming in rich gravy.

  His father was glaring at him. Miserably aware that Dick despised him for a milksop, Richard searched for something to say. “I suppose we hoped,” he said vaguely, “that none of the other colonies would stand by Massachusetts, having warned it that it was going too far. And did they truly think that the King would stoop to read their letter? Or, even if he had, yield to their demands? They are Englishmen! The King is their king too.”

  “Nonsense, Richard!” said Mr. Thistlethwaite sharply. “This obsessive concern for your child is fast addling your thinking apparatus! The King and his sycophantic ministers are bent on plunging our sceptered isle into disaster! Eight thousand tons of Bristol shipping sent back unloaded from the thirteen colonies in less than a year! That serge manufactory in Redcliff gone out of business and the four hundred souls it employed thrown upon the parish! Not to mention that place near the Port Wall which makes painted canvas carpets for Carolina and Georgia! The pipe makers, the soap makers, the bottle makers, the sugar and rum makers—for God’s sake, man! Most of our trade is across the Western Ocean, and no mean part of that with the thirteen colonies! To go to war against the thirteen colonies is commercial suicide!”

  “I see,” said Mine Host, picking up the sheet of flimsy to squint at it, “that Lord North has issued a—a ‘Proclamation for Suppressing Armed Rebellion.’ ”

  “It is a war we cannot win,” said Mr. Thistlethwaite, holding out his empty mug to Mag Morgan, hovering.

  Richard tried again. “Come now, Jem! We have beaten France after seven years of war—we are the greatest and bravest country in the world! The King of England does not lose his wars.”

  “Because he fights them in close proximity to England, or against heathens, or against ignorant savages whose own rulers sell them. But the men of the thirteen colonies are, as ye rightly said, Englishmen. They are civilized and conversant with our ways. They are of our blood.” Mr. Thistlethwaite leaned back, sighed, wrinkled the nobly grog-blossomed contours of his bulbous nose. “They deem themselves held light, Richard. Put upon, spat upon, looked down upon. Englishmen, yes, yet never quite the bona fide article. And they are a very long way away, which is a nettle the King and his ministers have grasped in utter ignorance. You might say that our navy wins our wars—how long is it since we stood or fell by a land army outside our own isles? Ye
t how can we win a sea war against a foe who has no ships? We will have to fight on land. Thirteen different bits of land, scarcely interconnected. And against a foe not organized to conduct himself in proper military mode.”

  “Ye’ve just shot down your own argument, Jem,” said Mine Host, smiling but not reaching for his chalk as he handed a fresh mug of rum to Mag. “Our armies are first rate. The colonists will not be able to stand against them.”

  “I agree, I agree!” cried Jem, lifting his gratis rum in a toast to the landlord, who was rarely generous. “The colonists probably will never win a battle. But they do not need to win battles, Dick. All they need to do is to endure. For it is their land we will be fighting in, and it is not England.” His hand went to the left pocket of his greatcoat; out came the massive pistol, down it went on the table with a crash, while the tavern’s other occupants squealed and shrieked in terror—and Richard, his infant son on his lap, pushed its muzzle sideways so quickly that no one saw him move. The pistol, as everybody knew, was loaded. Oblivious to the consternation he had caused, Mr. Thistlethwaite burrowed into the depths of the pocket and produced some folded pieces of flimsy paper. These he examined one by one, his spectacles enlarging his pale blue and bloodshot eyes, his dark and curling hair escaping from the ribbon with which he had carelessly tied it back—no wigs or queues for Mr. James Thistlethwaite.

  “Ah!” he exclaimed finally, flourishing a London news sheet. “Seven and a half months ago, ladies and gentlemen of the Cooper’s Arms, there was a great debate in the House of Lords, during which that grand old man, William Pitt the Earl of Chatham, gave what is said to be his greatest oration. In defense of the colonists. But it is not Chatham’s words thrill me,” continued Mr. Thistlethwaite, “it is the Duke of Richmond’s, and I quote: ‘You may spread fire and desolation, but that will not be government!’ How true, how very true! Now comes the bit I judge one of the great philosophical truths, though the Lords snored as he said it: ‘No people can ever be made to submit to a form of government they say they will not receive.’ ”

  He stared about, nodding. “That is why I say that all the battles we will win can be of no use and can have little effect upon the outcome of the war. If the colonists endure, they must win.” His eyes twinkled as he folded the paper, shoved the quire or so back into his pocket, and jammed the horse pistol on top of them. “You know too much about guns, Richard, that is your trouble. The child was not endangered, nor any of the other folk here.” A rumble commenced in his throat and vibrated through his pursed lips. “I have lived in this stinking cesspool called Bristol for all of my life, and I have alleviated the monotony by making some of our festering Tory sores in government the object of my lampoons, from Quaker to Shaker to Kingmaker.” He waved his battered tricorn hat at his audience and closed his eyes. “If the colonists endure, they must win,” he repeated. “Anybody who lives in Bristol has made the acquaintance of a thousand colonists—they flit about the place like bats in the last light. The death of Empire, Dick! It is the first rattle in our English throats. I have come to know the colonists, and I say they will win.”

  A strange and ominous sound began to percolate in from outside, a sound of many angry voices; the distorted shapes of passersby flickering unhurriedly across the windows suddenly became blurs moving at a run.

  “Rioters!” Richard was getting to his feet even as he handed the child to his wife. “Peg, straight upstairs with William Henry! Mum, go with them.” He looked at Mr. Thistlethwaite. “Jem, do you intend to fire with one in either hand, or will you give me the second pistol?”

  “Leave be, leave be!” Dick emerged from behind his counter to reveal himself a close physical counterpart to Richard, taller than most, muscular in build. “This end of Broad Street does not see rioters, even when the colliers came in from Kingswood and snatched old man Brickdale. Nor does it when the sailors go on the rampage. Whatever is going on, it is not a riot.” He crossed to the door. “However, I am of a mind to see what is afoot,” he said, and disappeared into the running throng. The occupants of the Cooper’s Arms followed him, including Richard and Jem Thistlethwaite, his horse pistols still snug in his greatcoat pockets.

  People were boiling everywhere at street level, people leaned from every penthouse with necks craning; not a stone of the flagged road could be seen, nor a single slab of the new pedestrian pavement down either side of Broad Street. The three men pushed into the crush and moved with it toward the junction of Wine and Corn Streets—no, these were not rioters. These were affluent, extremely angry gentlemen who carried no women or children with them.

  On the opposite side of Broad Street and somewhat closer to the hub of commerce around the Council House and the Exchange stood the White Lion Inn, headquarters of the Steadfast Society. This was the Tory club, source of much encouragement to His Britannic Majesty King George III, whose men they were to the death. The center of the disturbance was the American Coffee House next door, its sign the red-and-white flag of many stripes most American colonists used as a general banner when the flag of Connecticut or Virginia or some other colony was not appropriate.

  “I believe,” said Dick Morgan, on fruitless tiptoe, “that we would do better to go back to the Cooper’s Arms and watch from the penthouse.”

  So back they went, up the shaky crumbling stairs at the inner end of the counter and thus eventually to the casement windows which leaned perilously far out over Broad Street below. In the back room little William Henry was crying, his mother and grandmother bent over his cot cooing and clucking; the hubbub outside held no interest for Peg or Mag while William Henry displayed such terrible grief. Nor did the hubbub tempt Richard, joining the women.

  “Richard, he will not perish in the next few minutes!” snapped Dick from the front room. “Come here and see, damn ye!”

  Richard came, but reluctantly, to lean out the gaping window and gasp in amazement. “Yankeys, Father! Christ, what are they doing to the things?”

  “Things” they certainly were: two rag effigies stuffed quite professionally with straw, tarred all over with pitch still smoking, and encrusted with feathers. Except for their heads, upon which sat the insignia of colonists—their abysmally unfashionable but very sensible hats, brim turned down all the way around so that the low round crown sat like the yolk blister in the middle of a fried egg.

  “Holloa!” bellowed Jem Thistlethwaite, spying a well-known face belonging to a well-known, expensively suited body, the whole perched upon a geehoe sledge loaded with tall barrels. “Master Harford, what goes?”

  “The Steadfast Society saith it hangeth John Hancock and John Adams!” the Quaker plutocrat called back.

  “What, because General Gage refused to extend his pardon to them after Concord?”

  “I know not, Master Thistlethwaite.” Clearly terrified that he too would be lampooned in some highly uncomplimentary way, Joseph Harford descended from his vantage point and melted into the crowd.

  “Hypocrite!” said Mr. Thistlethwaite under his breath.

  “Samuel Adams, not John Adams,” said Richard, his interest now fairly caught. “Surely it would be Samuel Adams?”

  “If the richest merchants in Boston are whom the Steadfast Society mean to hang, then yes, it ought to be Samuel. But John writes and speaks more,” said Mr. Thistlethwaite.

  In a nautically oriented city, the production of two ropes efficiently tied into hangman’s knots did not present a difficulty; two such magically appeared, and the stark, bristly, man-sized dolls were hoisted by their necks to the signpost of the American Coffee House, there to turn lazily and smolder sluggishly. Rage spent, the throng of Steadfast Society men vanished through the welcoming, Tory-blue doors of the White Lion Inn.

  “Tory pricks!” said Mr. Thistlethwaite, descending the stairs with a nice mug of rum uppermost in his mind.

  “Out, Jem!” said Mine Host, bolting the door until he could be sure the disturbance was definitely over.

  * * *

p; Richard had not followed his father downstairs, though duty said he ought; his name was now joined to Dick’s in the official Corporation books. Richard Morgan, victualler, had paid the fine and become an accredited Free Man, a vote-empowered citizen of a city which was in itself a county distinct from Gloucestershire and Somersetshire surrounding it, a citizen of a city which was the second-largest in all of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Of the 50,000 souls jammed within its bounds, only some 7,000 were vote-empowered Free Men.

  “Is it taking?” Richard asked his wife, and leaning over the cot; William Henry had quietened, seemed to doze uneasily.

  “Yes, my love.” Peg’s soft brown eyes suddenly filled with tears, her lips trembling. “Now is the time to pray, Richard, that he does not suffer the full pox. Though he does not burn the way Mary did.” She gave her husband a gentle push. “Go for a good long walk. You may pray and walk. Go on! Please, Richard. If you stay, Father will growl.”

  A peculiar lethargy had descended upon Broad Street as a result of the panic which seemed to wing citywide in minutes whenever riots threatened. Passing the American Coffee House, Richard stopped for a moment to contemplate the dangling effigies of John Hancock and John/Samuel Adams, his ears assailed by the fitful roars of laughter and spleen originating among the dining ranks of the Steadfast Society inside the White Lion. His lips curled in faint contempt; the Morgans were staunch Whigs whose votes had contributed to the success of Edmund Burke and Henry Cruger at the elections last year—what a circus they had been! And how miffed Lord Clare had been when he polled hardly a vote!

No Previous Page Next Page
Should you have any enquiry, please contact us via [email protected]