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- Once Upon A Time In Connecticut - 19/19 -

again who he was and why he came, and added quietly, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Then the noose was adjusted, and the cruel end came quickly.

These last words of Nathan Hale have been repeated again and again since that time. They have been cut in bronze and in marble, they have been taught in our schools. They are noble words, because they are simple and brave and unselfish. He could have had no idea that they would ever be heard beyond the little group of people about him when he died, but it so happened that General Howe had occasion to send a letter to Washington late that evening about an exchange of prisoners, and the bearer of the letter was Captain Montresor, the officer in whose tent Nathan Hale had spent the last hour of his life. Inside the American tines Montresor met Captain Hull, Hale's intimate friend, the man who had warned Hale so earnestly of the fate that might be his. To him Montresor told the tragic story of that morning and repeated the words that have since become famous.

[Illustration: Courtesy of Mr. George D. Seymour


This statue stands in front of old Connecticut Hall, Yale University. Nathan Hale's room was in this building]

Years afterward a monument was put up in Coventry to the memory of Captain Nathan Hale. There are several statues of him in different places; there is a fountain with his name upon it in Norwalk where he crossed the Sound, and another at Huntington, Long Island; there is an old fort named for him on the shore of New Haven Harbor; but the memorial which comes closest to our hearts is the little stone in the old Coventry graveyard, set there in memory of him by his own family. This is the inscription cut into it:--

"Durable stone preserve the monumental record. Nathan Hale, Esq., a Capt. in the army of the United States, who was born June 6th, 1755, and received the first honors of Yale College, Sept., 1773, resigned his life a sacrifice to his Country's liberty at New York, Sept. 22d, 1778. Etatis 22d."


By an unknown poet of 1776

The breezes went steadily thro' the tall pines, A-saying "oh, hu-sh!" a-saying "oh, hu-sh!" As stilly stole by a bold legion of horse, For Hale in the bush; for Hale in the bush.

"Keep still!" said the thrush as she nestled her young, In a nest by the road; in a nest by the road; "For the tyrants are near, and with them appear, What bodes us no good; what bodes us no good."

The brave captain heard it, and thought of his home, In a cot by the brook; in a cot by the brook. With mother and sister and memories dear, He so gayly forsook; he so gayly forsook.

Cooling shades of the night were coming apace, The tattoo had beat; the tattoo had beat. The noble one sprang from his dark hiding-place, To make his retreat; to make his retreat.

He warily trod on the dry rustling leaves, As he pass'd thro' the wood; as he pass'd thro' the wood; And silently gain'd his rude launch on the shore, As she play'd with the flood; as she play'd with the flood.

The guard of the camp, on that dark, dreary night, Had a murderous will; had a murderous will. They took him and bore him afar from the shore, To a hut on the hill; to a hut on the hill.

No mother was there, nor a friend who could cheer, In that little stone cell; in that little stone cell. But he trusted in love, from his father above, In his heart all was well; in his heart all was well.

An ominous owl with his solemn bass voice, Sat moaning hard by; sat moaning hard by. "The tyrant's proud minions most gladly rejoice, For he must soon die; for he must soon die."

The brave fellow told them, no thing he restrain'd, The cruel gen'ral; the cruel gen'ral; His errand from camp, of the ends to be gain'd, And said that was all; and said that was all.

They took him and bound him and bore him away, Down the hill's grassy side; down the hill's grassy side. 'Twas there the base hirelings in royal array, His cause did deride; his cause did deride.

Five minutes were given, short moments, no more, For him to repent; for him to repent; He pray'd for his mother, he ask'd not another; To Heaven he went; to Heaven he went.

The faith of a martyr, the tragedy shew'd, As he trod the last stage; as he trod the last stage. And Britons will shudder at gallant Hale's blood, As his words do presage; as his words do presage.

"Thou pale king of terrors, thon life's gloomy foe, Go frighten the slave; go frighten the slave; Tell tyrants, to you, their allegiance they owe. No fears for the brave; no fears for the brave."


1. Johnston, Henry Phelps. Nathan Hale, 1776--Biography and Memorials. Yale University Press. New Haven, 1914.

2. Stuart, I. W. Life of Captain Nathan Hale, the Martyr Spy of the American Revolution, F. A. Brown. Hartford, 1856.

3. Hull, General William. Military and Civil Life. D. Appleton & Co. New York, 1848.

4. Hale, Enoch. Diary. (In Appendix to an address delivered at Groton, Connecticut, September 7, 1881, by E. E. Hale.)

5. Hempstead, Stephen. "Recollections." Missouri Republican, January 18, 1827.

6. Bostwick, Elisha. Pension Papers, in Hartford Courant, December 15, 1914.

Once Upon A Time In Connecticut - 19/19

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