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J^mhaxHi CoUege tfbcwcf 


One half the income firom this Lcficy, which was re- 
cehred in i88o under the will of 

of Walthtffl, hlumchntetti. is to be expended for booki 
for the College Llbmrj. The other half of the income 
is devoted to scholarships in Harvard Universitj for the 
benefit of descendants of 

who died at Watertowa, Massaehasetts, in 1686. In the 
absence of sndi dcaceadants, other persons are eligible 
to the schoiarshipe. The will requires that this aaaoance- 
ment shall be made la ererjr book added to the Ubrarj 
nnder its prorisloas. 

^ntAn bp (MilUam Boot <Ii00« 


Illnstrated. Crown 8vo, gilt top, $1.50. 

SKETCHES. Crown 8vo, gilt top, f 1.35. 

MEETING HOUSE. Crown 8vo, gilt top, 

Boston and Nbw York. 






us l0fZ3J3 

UC> iC i ?A.!^«l3 




Copjrright, 1894 

A U righU ruervtd. 

TIU Riverstdg Pr»ss, CamMdgtt A^ius., U.S.A. 
Electrotyped aud Printed by H. O. Houghton & Ca 






itittt 0fimptfe^ often Bring (ome 


HESE side glimpses will disclose to 
the reader some facts so small that 
they have not been thought worthy 
of mention by historians who have looked at 
colonial New England with a broad stare. 
But small facts sometimes reveal large pic- 
tures of human life ; they make the warp 
and woof of common history, while deeds of 
armies and of political parties make its sel- 
vages. Thorold Rogers, when lecturing at 
Oxford on the economic interpretation of 
history, said that every fact is infinitely val- 
.uable. He would have us search for the 
facts of the life of the English people in 
such sources as town registers, churchwar- 
dens' accounts, court journals, church rec- 
ords, obsolete laws, tax lists, old newspapers, 

Thb Mekting-Houii Devil .... 

Rnu AND Slavkry 

Tnt CoMPOsiTB Puritan 

Th> Pbrsokaliit op thb MranNO-HousB 
Tri Suhhons to Worship .... 
The Seatiho of thb Pbople 

Thi Wretched Bovs 

The Disturbers of Public Worship 
The Neighbors op the Meeting-House 
The Cohedt and Tkacbdv of the Pulpit 

Thb Poor Parsons 

The Notorious Mihistbks .... 
The Simple Evanorlist .... 
The Muse op Choral SonK 
The Bible and the Confessional 
The Houb-Glabs 

** With innocent necromancy he calls the 
dead out of tbeir graves, and makes them 
play their drama over again." 

Jambs Anthony Froudb. 




BOR a hundred and forty-eight years 
an enormous brass weather - cock 
whirled on the tip of the steeple of 

the old brick meeting-house in Hanover 

Street. There, 

" With head erect, and unruffled form, , 
The hearty and tough old cock. 
Through nind and rain, and cotd and warm, 

All neathera continued to mock ; 

And he whisked him round to face the Btorm / 

And breast himself to the shock." 

He wag nearly two hundred feet above the 

street; three times as high as the highest 

chimney-cap on Copp's Hill ; so high that 

the steeple on which he stood was the most 

conspicuous object in Boston, and a land- 


mark to seamen coming up the harbor. 
There was another landmark on the high- 
lands of Truro, — the great hulk of an old 
meeting-house, whose windows blinked upon 
the Atlantic Ocean, which, for years before 
the Highland Light was built, rendered 
service to mariners when they sighted 
Cape Cod ; and when Nantucket was in her 
glory, the homeward-bound whaleship, as she 
neared the harbor, sent a man aloft to get the 
bearings of the meeting-house steeple. The 
conspicuousness of such landmarks in other 
parts of New England is noted by a writer 
of the last century, who says that the meet- 
ing-house in Dudley '' stands on a hill which 
commands a south prospect of extensive 
farms to the distance of twelve miles ; " and 
from one at Shrewsbury, — " east, west, 
north, and south, twelve meeting-houses can 
be seen." 

The meeting-house of colonial New Eng- 
land was the centre of the town ; distances 
along the highways were measured from it ; 
milestones directed the way to it. It stood 
for certain customs, principles, and opinions 
which were believed to be as immutable as 
a divine decree. When I turn back, intent 


to hear the story it can tell, it rises before 
me on the hilltop as if it were old Kronos 
watching, through busy days and silent 
nights, the events of the past ; and it seems 
to say : — 

" I am old, and have seen 
Many things that have been ; 
Both quarrel and peace, 
And wane and increase. 
Of ill and of well 
Is the tale I tell." 

The colonial town, isolated in its situation, 
was like a little province living within itself ; 
its parliament was the town meeting, but 
its ruling influence was the meeting-house, 
through which, in one way or another, the 
entire life of the townspeople passed. This 
influence did not end with the colonial pe- 
riod ; it ran so far into the present century 
that James Russell Lowell said, in one of his 
published letters, " New England was all 
meeting-house when I was growing up." 

And yet the work of building it encoun- 
tered obstacles as various as were the notions 
of men. When Joseph Emerson preached 
his first sermon at Pepperell, where he was 
settled in the year 1747 on a yearly salary of 
"sixty-two pounds ten shillings and thirty 



sis cords of fire wood," he said : " The Devil 
is a great enemy to building meeting-ho\ises, 
and to the utmost of his power stirs up the 
corruptions of the children of God to op- 
pose or obstruct so good a work." Let me 
mention a few examples of obstruction 
made by the Devil to whom this minister 

When the town meeting of Hadley voted, 
in the year 1750, to build a meeting-house in 
" the center of the town," a dispute arose on 
the question, Where is the centre? The 
dispute increased to a quarrel which lasted 
thirteen years ; during that period more than 
fifty town meetings were convened to agree 
upon a centre, and were adjourned to con- 
tinue the quarrel, which was finally ended 
by a lottery. The result of a quarrel begun 
at Watertown, in the year 1692, was to build 
two meeting-houses where one only was 
needed. The hostile feelings that existed 
for many years between the opposing wor- 
shipers compelled the General Court to 
order the removal of both edifices to other 
locations ; on the principle, as may be sup- 
nosed, that kennels of fiehtine does should 


was adopted at Harvard town when the peo- 
ple could not agree upon a location for the 
meeting-house. Every voter laid a stone 
where he would have the house set ; with 
these conditions, — that there be two heaps 
of stones only, that the heap having the 
largest number of stones shall mark the loca- 
tion, and the selectmen shall " inspect the 
heaps and see that no man lay more than 
one stone." When the ceremony was ended, 
it was found that no choice had been made 
because each heap contained the same num- 
ber of stones. 

In the middle of the last century, a ludi- 
crous result happened to the plans of certain 
inhabitants of Concord, a town noted for its 
ecclesiastical quarrels, who wanted to live in 
peace and enjoy 

** The easeful days, the dreamless nights, 
The homely round of plain delights, 
The calm, the unambitioned mind^ 
Which all men seek and few men find." 

They obtained liberty from the General 
Court to be set off and incorporated as a 
town under the name of Carlisle ; and as 
soon as they undertook to select a site for 
their meeting-house they began a quarrel 


about it. Three years later, being as far aS* 
ever from that peaceful condition for wbich 
they had been looking, they petitioned the 
Court to be set back to Concord, with all 
their former privileges ; among which was, 
of course, that of having their own way. 

It was a religion of the New Englander 
to have his own way. He nourished a will 
which closed on its purpose as a steel trap 
closes its jaws on a woodchuck. In his phi- 

" Gifts count for nolhing i Will alone is great ; 
All Ihinga give way betore il, soon or late." 

Nothing but this will, stirred into action by 
a disagreement with his neighbors, caused 
the migration of Thomas Hooker and his 
company, through a hundred miles of the 
forest stretching from Boston to the Con- 
necticut River, in the year 1636. The old 
historian, William Hubbard, says of them : 
" Some men do not well like, at least cannot 
well bear, to be opposed in their judgments 
and notions ; and thence were they not un- 
willing to remove from under the power as 
well as out of the bounds of the Massachu- 
setts." And if we trace back the line until 
we reacn Ro ; ■ 


small children and one at the breast*' (as 
pictured in the New England Primer), and 
his fellows who suffered under the rule of 
Queen Mary, it may be presumed that they 
were, like Hooker, victims of "a certain 
choler and obstinate will." * 

The faculty of provoking a quarrel and of 
maintaining it by willfulness was hereditary 
in the race. At Wareham, as recently as 
the year 1829, there was a quarrel caused 
by the fact that proprietors and laborers in 
cotton and iron mills recently established 
could not obtain seats in the meeting-house, 
and they wanted the town to build a larger 
one. A few men settled the quarrel by si- 
lently assembling at midnight, pulling down 
the old meeting-house, and carting away its 
remains. Such an act gives a new force to 
the biological law by which living beings 
tend to repeat their characteristics in their 
descendants ; for I find in the records of 
Newbury of the year 171 3, that Deacon 

1 " Many wise men begin to suspect that the sufferings 
of the martyrs and confessors in England were not so much 
due to virtue and love of God's cause as to a certain choler 
and obstinate will to contradict the magistrate there. ** — 
Father Parsons^ A. D. 1598; letter in Historical Manu' 
scripts Commission's Report, London. 


Merrill and Deacon Brown were summoned 
to give reasons for absenting themselves 
from the communion table, and they an- 
swered in all seriousness that their opponents 
had stolen the meeting-house, "violently 
pulling it down and carrying it away con- 
trary to our minds and consent." 

When a quarrel was unusually prolonged, 
it was customary for the General Court to 
send a " viewing committee " to settle it. 
The decision of this committee was always 
final ; the house must be built on the spot 
where the committee " set the stake," and a 
report was required as evidence that this had 
been done. The following is one of such 
reports. It is of the year 1 747 : " To the 
Hon"« Assembly at New Haven These may 
inform your Hon" that the Prime Society in 
Woodbury Have set up a Meeting House in 
the place where the Courts Com^ set the 
stake Have Covered & Inclosed it & for 
Bigness Strength & Architecture it Does 
appear Trancendantly Magnificent pr Joseph 
Minor Society's clerk." 

At Goshen, on the hilltops of Connecti- 
cut, where the atmosphere of every summer 
is fragrant with the odor of white clover 


blossoms, the farmers of 1740 "voted and 
declared to be necessary " the building of a 
meeting-house, but they did not venture to 
ask of each other the question, Where shall 
we build it ? They sent a petition to the 
General Assembly of the State, praying for 
a viewing committee to come over and set 
the stake. 

There were other things to be quarreled 
about besides the location. At Stamford it 
was the size ; whether it shall be thirty-eight 
feet square, or forty-five feet long and thirty- 
five feet wide. The records say that the 
question was left " to the solemn decision of 
God by a casting of lots ; and the solemn 
ordinance being had, the lot carried it for a 
square meeting house." In Wallingford the 
doctrine of Probation caused a quarrel in the 
church and a secession from it. The seced- 
ers began to build a meeting-house eighteen 
rods distant from their old house, when an 
injunction to stop the work was supported 
by the testimony of two women that a min- 
ister could be heard preaching at a distance 
of eighteen rods. In the mean time there 
was a hand-to-hand fight in the foundation 
trenches. This was a " spite meetin' house," 


a name given to many others that were built 
in New England under similar circumstances. 

But some quarrels had a jovial ending, 
like that at Mendon, in the year 1727. This 
had lasted three years, when one of the op- 
posing forces began to show signs of wea- 
riness. It was captured by a proposition 
adopted in town meeting '' to provide a barrel 
of rum towards raising the meeting-house." 
After the raising, some person attempted to 
cut down a corner post in the frame ; but 
the town was in such good spirits that it 
voted not to try " to find out who hath by 
cutting damnified the meeting-house." 

Such quarrels gave birth to anecdotes 
which have been preserved in the traditions 
of New England. It is said that John Bulk- 
ley, first minister of Colchester, was noted 
for his worldly wisdom, and for that reason 
a quarreling church in a neighboring town 
appealed to him for help. He sent his ad- 
vice by letter, and at the same time he wrote 
to a man working on a distant farm. These 
missives were interchanged, and that which 
the church received was this : " You will see 
/ to the fences that they be high enough and 
strong; and you will take particular care 

THE Meeting-house devil. h 

that the Old Black Bull don't get in." When 
this message from the wise parson had been 
read, there was silence in the meeting-house. 
At last the reader laid down the letter, and 
with an air of extreme seriousness he said to 
the assembled church : " Brethren, this ad- 
vice is just what we want ! We 've neglected 
our fences ; they *re as rotten as punk. That 
old black bull means the Devil He has 
got into our pasture ; and the thing for us 
to do is to drive him out and set up stouter 
fences ! " 


SHEN the quarrels were ended, they 
began to build the meeting-house, 
' and they made a holiday when they 
raised its frame. As soon as the frame was 
up, the townspeople seated themselves upon 
its sills to enjoy the eating and drinking by 
which the event was celebrated. It was a 
very small town if it had not inhabitants 
enough to cover the sills. 

Provision for the celebration was princi- 
pally rum. The town of Groton, in the year 
1754, appointed two deacons, two captains, 
two lieutenants, one ensign, and one private 
to superintend a raising, and to provide " one 
hogshead of Rum one loaf of white Sugar a 
quarter of a hundred weight of brown Sugar," 
and food for one hundred men. The town of 
Harvard, in the vear i711. "voted to provide 
two mat 


of Rum to be West-india and one New Eng- 
land. One hundred weight of brown Sugar, 
Likewise Eight barrils of Sider And Eight 
barrils of Bear.*' At Carver, in the year 
1793, the selectmen bought two barrels of 
rum which, they said, was " Licker sufficient 
for the spectators." At Framingham, in the 
year 1795, "one barrel of rum, three barrels 
of cider and six barrels of beer " were pro- 
vided for raising the meeting-house. 

The people were not inexperienced in pre- 
paring mixed drinks with meeting-house 
liquors. A formula for the mixture was pub- 
lished at Boston in the year 1757, over the 
initials of Samuel Mather, which has often 
been quoted : — 

** To purest water sugar must be joined ; 
With these the grateful acid is combined ; 
When now these three are mixed with care, 
Then added be of spirit a small share ; 
And that you may the drink quite perfect see, 
Atop the musky nut must grated be.'' 

An affinity between the rum and the re- 
ligion of colonial times was exemplified in 
the license granted to John Vyall to keep a 
house of entertainment in Boston ; he must 
keep it near the meeting-house of the Sec- 
ond Church, where he offered his " invitation 


to thirsty sinners " who were going to hear 
John Mayo or Increase Mather preach. 

It was rum that forced the growth of 
slavery in New England. The business of 
distilling it from molasses had become, at 
the end of the seventeenth century, an im- 
portant factor in all sea commerce. Con- 
necticut prohibited distilling because it made 
molasses scarce ; but the prohibition was 
stopped when business began to go where 
rum could be obtained. In the year 1750, 
there were more than sixty distilleries in 
Massachusetts and thirty in Rhode Island 
turning molasses into rum, gallon for gallon. 
Rum proved to be the best commodity in 
trading with the southern colonies for to- 
bacco, with Indians for furs, with New- 
foundland fishermen for codfish, and with 
the Guinea coast for slaves. The commerce 
in rum and slaves — making a circuit from 
New England to the West India Islands, 
thence to Africa, thence back to the islands 
with slaves, thence home with molasses and 
such negroes as had not been disposed of at 
the islands — furnished nearly all the money 
that was annually remitted to pay for mer- 
chandise brought from England. The im- 


portation of slaves began early. The first 
arrival at Boston was by the ship Desire, 
February 26, 1637, bringing negroes, to- ^- 
bacco, and cotton, from Barbados. She had 
sailed from Boston eleven months before, 
carrying Indian captives to the Bermudas to 
be sold as slaves, and thus she became noted 
as the first New England slave-ship. In 
time, slaves were brought to Boston and to 
Newport direct from Africa. Peter Faneuil, 
to whom Boston is indebted for its Cradle of 
Liberty, was deep in the business. Thomas 
Amory, one of the solid men of Boston, was 
distilling rum and selling slaves to customers 
in North Carolina ; to one of them he writes 
in the year 1724, saying: "In the fall we 
expect negroes here direct from Guinea, a 
vessel having sailed from here and one from 
Rhode Island." Advertisements of " Just Ar- 
rived " negroes may be seen in the Boston 
"News-Letter " of the years 1726 and 1727 : 

** To be Sold. A Parcel of Negros Just Ar- 
rived, viz. Men, Women, Boys & Girls; they 
are to be seen at Capt. Nathaniel Jarvis's House 
near Scarlets Wharff." 

" Likely Negro Boy & a Girl just arrived, to be 
Sold by Mr. Samuel Sleigh, at Messieurs Oliver 
& Welsteed's Warehouse on the Dock, Boston." 


" Several very likely Young Negros of each Sex, 
just Arrived to be Sold at Six or Twelve Month's 
Credit, on good security, by Mr. Hugh Hall, Mer- 
chant, at whose Ware-house on Mr. Pitt's Wharffe 
is sold Barbadoes Rum." 

There was no hesitation in selling slaves 
on the auction block. I find in the Boston 
" News - Letter " of September 19, 1715, a 
notice of an auction sale " at Newport, R. I., 
of several Indians, Men and Boys, and a very 
Likely Negro Man ; " and in the issue Janu- 
ary 29, 1730, is advertised an auction sale 
in Boston of "Two Likely Negroes." They 
were treated in all respects as merchandise ; 
they were rated with horses and cattle. In 
an inventory of the property of Parson Wil- 
liams, of Deerfield, of the year 1729, his 
slaves Mesheck and Kedar were rated with 
a " one eyed horse " and a *' weak back cow " 
at £io each. I copy these lines from the 
inventory of Thomas Bunker's estate, at Nan- 
tucket, in the year 1721 : — 

" the Indian boy Peleg .... ;£'2o. — " 

" the Indian girl Darcas . . . ;fio. — " 

"an old horse £ 5. — " 

"22 turkeys £2, — " 


In an inventory of the estate of Damaris 
Coffin, of Nantucket, in the year 1728, are 
three negro slaves rated at £107 los., and 
two hundred and seventy. four sheep, with 
ninety-seven lambs, rated at ;j^ios 12s. In 
an inventory of her neighbor, Nathaniel 
Gardner, in the year 1729, 1 find " one negro 
boy Toby " rated at £go, with a bull, a cow, 
a horse, twenty-seven sheep, eleven pewter 
porringers, a warming-pan, and a clock at 
£62. Slaves were the most valuable part 
of the homestead property. 

The mother of a slave had no title to her 
child, as appears from the following adver- 
tisements published at Boston, in December, 
1726: — 

"A Likely Young Negro Woman that hath 
been about Twelve Months in the Country, and 
her child Four Years Old, To be Sold." 

" There is a strong able Negro Servant Woman 
of 24 Years of Age fit for either Town or Country 
Service, being accustomed to both, hath had the 
Small Pox and speaks good English. As also a 
Child of 16 months Old. To be Sold." 

The Virginian as well as the West Indian 
plantations were buyers of slaves from New 
England importers. I find a letter writ- 


ten by William Fitzhugh, of Westmoreland 
County, Virginia, to " Mr. Jackson, of Piscat- 
away, in New England," dated February 
II, 1682, saying: "As to your Proposal 
about the bringing in Negroes next fall, I 
have this to ofifer ... to give zooo lbs To- 
bacco for every Negro boy or girl that shall 
be between the age of seven and eleven 
years old, and to give 4000 lbs Tob. for 
every youth or girl that shall be between 
the age of 11 to 15, and to give 5000 lbs 
Tob. for every young man or woman that 
shall be above 15 years of age and not ex- 
ceed 24, the said Negroes to be delivered 
at my landing some time in Sepr. next." 

The money value of a slave in each of 
these three classes was, at that time, ;£i2, 
£16, and ;£20. About the middle of the 
next century, the money value of a slave of 
the last class was stated in this bill of sale, 
by which the seller shows a resemblance to 
her slave, in the fact that she could not 
write her own name : — 

"Milton June the 9 1747 I the Subscriber 
Elizabeth Wads worth of mil ton have Raced of 
mr. Timothy Tolman of Stoughton the sum of 
one Hundred and forty pounds old Tenor in full 


for a negro fello abought Eighteen years of age 

named Primas — I say Reed pr me in presence 

of Benjamin Wadsworth, 

Elizabeth + Wadsworth" 

' Sometimes the trade in slaves was kept 
going at such a brisk gait as to strip the 
market of mm. In the year 1752, Isaac 
Freeman wanted a cargo of rum and molas- 
ses within five weeks. His correspondent at 
Newport replied that it could not be had 
in three months. *' There are so many ves- 
sels," he said, " loading for Guinea we cant 
get one hogshead of rum for the Cash. We 
have been lately to New London and all 
along the seaport towns in order to purchase 
molasses, but cant get one hogshead." Cap- 
tain Scott, not being able to get rum enough 
to fill his slaver, took dry goods and sailed for 
Guinea coast. There he found difficulty in 
exchanging dry goods for negroes, as the wet 
goods alone were wanted. He wrote home 
that he had got 129 slaves, of which he had 
lost 29, and was fearful of losing more. He 
said : " I have repented a hundred times ye 
buying of them dry goods. Had we laid out 
two thousand pound in rum, bread, and flour, 


it would purchase more in value than all our 
dry goods." Simeon Potter was for watering 
the rum and turning it out to the negroes in 
short measure. He instructed his captain 
sailing for Africa in the year 1768 : " Make 
your Chief Trade with the Blacks, and Lit- 
tle or none with the white people, if possible 
to be avoided. Worter ye Rum as much as 
possible and sell as much by short measure 
as you can." This man represented the 
commercial morality of the times, when hon- 
esty was not always considered to be the best 
policy. John Hancock was a smuggler of 
teas ; Peter Faneuil was a smuggler of bran- 
dies ; it was a common event to find bundles 
of shingles short in number, quintals of fish 
short in weight, casks of rum and hogsheads 
of molasses short in gallons. A punitive 
law of the province of Massachusetts Bay, 
enacted in the year 17 18, and reenacted in 
the year 173 1, declared that "Hogsheads 
and casks which ought to answer the gage 
by rod have been proved, and upon tryal in 
their drawing off there hath been wanting 
seven or eight gallons and sometimes more 
in a hogshead which persons are obliged 
to pay for." By watering the rum, by 


smuggling, by short measures, and by slave- 
tradingy there grew up in the colonial meet- 
ing-house a class of rich and respected 
men, whose descendants have been enjoying 
results of the wealth so acquired. 

At Boston, June 24, 1700, Samuel Sew- 
all — who was known as Judge Sewall, Dea- 
con Sewall, and Captain Sewall, and who 
preferred the last title to all others — pub- 
lished an anti-slavery tract entitled "The 
Selling of Joseph." He said: "Having 
been long and much dissatisfied with the 
Trade of fetching Negros from Guinea; at 
last I had a strong Inclination to Write 
something about it/* He was in favor of a 
law imposing an import tax on slaves ; "that 
all Importers of Negros shall pay 40 shillings 
per head to discourage the bringing of them." 
As time passed on and the slave trade flour- 
ished, this goodman must have dismissed 
his anti-slavery opinions ; for I have read in 
the Boston "News-Letter " of June 23, 1726, 
an advertisement of which I here give a copy : 
"To be sold by Mr. Samuel Sewall at his 
House in the Common, Boston, several 
likely Young Negro Men & Boys Just Ar- 


The business of trading in slaves was not 
immoral by the estimate of public opinion in 
colonial times. A deacon of the church in 
Newport esteemed the slave trade with its 
rum accessories as home missionary work. 
It is said that on the first Sunday after the 
arrival of his slaver he was accustomed to 
offer thanks '' that an overruling Providence 
had been pleased to bring to this land of 
freedom another cargo of benighted heathen 
to enjoy the blessings of a Gospel dispensa- 

Rum was not only distilled in the New 
England colonies, it was also imported from 
the West Indies to supply an increasing de- 
mand It was advertised for sale with dress 
goods and articles for women's wear ; such 
advertisements I have seen in Connecticut 
newspapers of the years 1786 and 1791 : — 

" St. Croix Rum 
By the hogshead very cheap. 

Callicoes and Chintzes, Lawns and Cambrics, 
Black and Green Persians, Modes, Lustrings, 
Silk and Linen Handkerchiefs, Rattinets, Du- 
rants, Tummies, Moreens, Calimancoes, Tambo- 
reens. Jamaica and Antigua Rum By the Hogs- 
head and Barrel." 


A merchant advertises that "St. Croix 
Rum will be given for a few thousands of 
one and an half inch square-edg'd White 
Oak Plank, or Red Oak hogshead staves." 
He is fitting out a vessel for a voyage to the 
West Indies and Africa. Farmers in the 
vicinity hearing of his wants carry in their 
oak planks and staves^ and return home 
loaded with rum. Rum is found afloat as 
well as ashore. I quote an instance from a 
Norfolk paper of June, 1787 : — 

** On the evening of the 9th the Packet Joseph 
and Peggy, from New York, bound for this port, 
was lost on a reef of rocks near Smith Island. 
The captain, crew, and one woman passenger 
clung to the shrouds, and in this perilous situa- 
tion remained until next morning, when they 
fortunately reached the shore in their boat. On 
their landing the barbarous and inhuman conduct 
of ruffians in the form of men surpassed the re- 
ception they met with from raging elements, who 
in place of rendering every assistance in their 
power, accumulated their distress by plundering 
what few articles they saved; and at the very 
time the ocean as it were pitied the sufferings of 
her victims by floating a couple of barrels of rum, 
so acceptable at this juncture, the monsters, 
insensible to every tie of nature or compassion. 


forcibly seized them, and left these children of 
misfortune to shift for themselves." 

An end of slave trading and a decrease of 
rum distilling in New England began to ap- 
pear soon after the constitution of the State 
of Massachusetts was adopted. In the year 
1 78 1, Nathaniel Tennison,a farmer of Barre, 
who owned ten slaves, was indicted for 
'' assaulting beating and imprisoning " one 
of them named Quock. He was tried in the 
Supreme Judicial Court, where his defense 
that Quock was a slave brought from Africa 
and sold to him was answered by the Decla- 
ration of Rights embodied in the constitution 
of the Stat^: "All men are born free and 
equal and have certain natural, essential, and 
unalienable rights/' The court decided that 
slavery had been abolished in Massachusetts 
by the adoption of its constitution and Decla- 
ration of Rights. 

In Connecticut a law of the year 1784 
declared that all slaves thereafter born shall 
be free at twenty-five years of age. But the 
trade in slaves was continued, as appears 
from this advertisement in the New Haven 
" Gazette " of November 9, 1786 ; — 


" To be sold at public vendue on Tuesday the 
29th of November instant, at the dwelling house 
of Captain Enos Atwater, of Cheshire, deceased, 
a good Negro Wench, about twenty years old. 
Also a brass wheeFd Clock, a weaver's Loom, 
with tackling, sundry feather beds, and furniture 
and a variety of articles of household furniture 
too numerous to mention." 

And this from the New Haven " Chroni- 
cle " of January 23, 1787 : — 

"Wanted to Purchase. A number of likely 
Young Negroes from 14 to 20 years of Age. 
Enquire of D. Bowen." 

And this from the New Haven " Gazette " 
of April 19, 1797: — 

" To be sold a healthy strong and active Ne- 
gro Boy, about 1 1 years of age. Enquire of the 

The Connecticut census of the year 1790 
showed a slave population of more than 
two thousand ; its fugitive slaves and slaves 
for sale were advertised- up to the end of the 

In Rhode Island, the legislature enacted 
that no person who may be born after the 
first day of March, 1784, shall be held as a 


slave, and three years later all slave trad- 
ing in that State was prohibited by laws 
with severe penalties. But as slavery made 
a profitable market for rum, the trade was 
continued between Africa and the West 
India Islands by Rhode Island men and 
Rhode Island vessels, which came home to 
Newport to renew their outfits. A letter 
dated at Newport, May 9, 1791, and printed 
in the "American Museum" of that year, 
says : — 

" On the 7th instant arrived here from an Afri- 
can sea voyage (but last from Havannah, where 
the slaves were sold) a bark belonging to this 
town commanded by a Captain Wolf, owned by 
said Wolf and Caleb Gardiner. One that was 
on board this vessel, during the voyage, informed 
me that a few days after they sailed from Africa 
symptoms of the small-pox appeared upon a fe- 
male slave. She was kept in the maintop three 
days then taken down, brought to the side of the 
vessel and thrown overboard by the captain him- 
self. It is said the reason of his drowning her 
was lest she should communicate the disease to 
those on board who had not had it.'' 

The universal custom of drinking rum is 
the saddest fact in the history of the colo- 


nies, and it occasionally aroused a protest 
from the colonial pulpit. James Keith, 
preaching at Bridgewater in the year 171 7, 
said : " Besides other evils which might 
be mentioned, I would refer particularly to 
the excessive and prodigious expense upon 
strong drink ; above all that of Rum ; I say 
the scandalous and horrible abuse of Rum 
which threatens this land and this place." 
A specification in Cotton Mather's indict- 
ment against the people of New England, 
which, in his own handwriting, is preserved 
in the Massachusetts archives, was "A 
Flood of Excessive Drinking with Incen- 
tives thereto." One of these incentives was 
the general custom of anointing the frame of 
a meeting-house with rum ; and the habits of 
excessive drinking, thus formed at the meet- 
ing-house, ran down to distant generations 
through the mysterious channels of heredity. 
Men were often to be seen standing up to 
confess before the congregation that they 
had been "overtaken with strong liquor." 
Rum became as abundant as water; there 
was no assembly, from a wedding to a 
funeral, without it. In harvest time the 
meeting-house bell was rung, at eleven 


o'clock in the forenoon and at four o'clock in 
the afternoon, to call laborers from the fields 
to drink their allowance of rum. Once a 
year, in sleighing time, farmers drove to Bos- 
ton or to Newport with their farm products, 
to be sold; and they always loaded their 
sleds for the return journey with rum, first ; 
then they took tobacco and salt codfish; 
then, if there was a?ny money left from the 
sales, they bought tea and coffee for the 
women folks. 

Two generations ago, intemperate drink- 
ing began to disappear; and when a meet- 
ing-house frame was raised at Plymouth, 
Mass., in the year 1831, it was stated as a 
remarkable fact that " the workmen refrained 
entirely from the use of ardent spirits." But 
people who went to sea began to reform 
themselves earlier than did those who stayed 
ashore and built meeting-houses. A letter 
published at Philadelphia the 26th of May, 
1791, says: "'Tis a fact worthy of notice 
that no rum or spirit of any kind was used 
on board the ship Brothers, Captain Josiah, 
on the late voyage to Canton. The constant 
drink of the sailors was spruce beer.*' 



HE original meeting-house was shame- 
fully .unecclesiastical in its appear- 
ance without and within. It looked 
like a barn. It was covered with cloven 
boards ; the preacher stood behind a table ; 
the hearers sat upon benches ; daylight en- 
tered through square openings protected by 
"shuts/* and covered by small glass win- 
dows, or paper windows made translucent by 
oil. There was neither paint nor plaster in 
it ; but there were holes in the floor to be 
used as spittoons. 

Townspeople habitually grumbled when 
taxes were proposed for making repairs, and 
therefore the meeting-houses of New Eng- 
land fell gradually into a dilapidated con- 
dition ; like that in Salem village, which, as 
say the records of the year 1692, remained 
"for a great while without any repairs so that 
by reason of broken windows stopt up by 


boards and others wide open it is sometimes 
so cold that it is uncomfortable and some- 
times so dark that it is almost unusefuL" In 
this shabby house^ built for divine worship, I 
hear the minister complaining of " the Lord's 
table not being provided with aught else but 
two pewter tankards." The Salem meeting- 
house was not a solitary example. A war- 
rant for a town meeting at Rochester, in the 
year 1731, said that the object was "To 
know ye Towns Mind Respecting some 
speedy care & propper method to Repair the 
Meeting House so as to make it comfortable 
to attend ye publicke worship." A warrant 
for a town meeting at Wareham, in the year 
1756, said: "To see if ye Town will raise 
money enough to Repair the Meeting House 
Glass Windows and make it comfortable." 

Similar had been the state of things in 
Old England. The "decays of churches 
and unseemly keeping of chancels " had be- 
come so common in rural towns that Eccle- 
siastical Commissioners, by direction of 
Queen Elizabeth, ordered the tables of Com- 
mandments to be " set up in the east end of 
the chancel, to be read not only for edifica- 
tion but also to give some comlye ornament 


and demonstration that the same is a place 
of religion and prayer." These tables of the 
Commandments, which were usually flanked 
byornate pictorial representations of Moses 
and Aaron as large as life, were whitewashed, 
or were torn down and broken in pieces, by 
the Puritan zealots who ruled England at 
times before the Restoration.^ 

There was no authority competent to set 
up the Commandments or any comely orna- 
ment in the colonial meeting-house. Its 
interior represented the barrenness of the 
colonial mind. But this was not true of all 
English colonics; the meeting-house in which 
the first legislature of Virginia assembled at 
Jamestown, in the year 1619, had pulpit and 
pews built of cedar, wide windows that could 
be opened and shut according to the wea- 
ther, and its interior was kept " passing sweet 
and trimmed up with divers flowers." The 
people who formed the New England colo- 
nies, being of a coarser type, had not been 
taught the love of flowers ; they felt no desire 

1 In the Chronicle of the Grey Friars of London, A. D. 
1547, days are mentioned when " in d3rvers paryche churches 
alle imagys pullyd downe thorrow alle Ynglonde and all 
churches new whytte Ijrmed with the commandmenttes 
wryttyne -on the walles." , 


to adorn their houses of worship with fes- 
toons of clematis and honeysuckle and trail- 
ing arbutus ; nor did they care to preserve 
them from decay. They were required by 
law to build a meeting-house, and by various 
laws they were required to go to worship in it. 
Sujch laws were enacted and reenacted from 
the beginning of the colonies; and in the 
year 171 5 the legislature of Massachusetts 
declared that all able-bodied persons, "not 
otherwise necessarily prevented," who "shall 
for the space of one month together absent 
themselves from the publick worship," shall 
be fined twenty shillings ; and, if unable to 
pay the fine, " to be set in the cage or stocks 
not exceeding three hours according to the 
discretion of the justices." The -existence 
of these laws is evidence that church-going 
was not a love of the people ; and this fact 
can be accounted for if you will look at the 
ingredients composing the population which 
has been called Puritan. 

It was during the reign of Queen Eliza- 
beth that "Puritaine" became a name. The 
clergy of the Church of England were at a 
difference in regard to wearing what John 
Fox called "mathematical caps with four 


corners," and "theatrical dresses," and " Pop- 
ish insignia." A royal decree published in 
March, 1564, made it imperative upon all min- 
isters of the Gospel to wear the regulation 
vestments when officiating at Divine service. 
Dissent from this decree by many ministers 
became so strenuous that the Archbishop 
told the Queen, in regard to the dissenters, 
"These precise folks would offer their 
goods, and their bodies to prison rather 
than relent." Then the dissenters were 
first called Puritans ; as " men that did pro- 
fess a greater purity in the worship of God, 
and a greater detestation of the ceremonies 
and corruptions of Rome than the rest of 
their brethren." 

The Puritan made himself conspicuous by 
resisting the impositions of the rubric as to 
the use of the cross in baptism, the ring in 
marriage, and the kneeling posture at the 
communion. He refused to join in religious 
services under the guidance of a minister 
wearing a surplice or other vestments of the 
Church of England. He could say: — 

" I am no quaker not at all to sweare, 

Nor papist to sweare east and mean a west, 
But am a protestant and will declare 
What I can nott and what I can protest 


** Paul had a doake and bookes and parchments too. 
But that he wore a Surplice I '11 not sweare, 
Nor that his parchments did his orders show, 
Or in his bookes there was a Common prayer." i 

The opinion of a period is seldom at fault 
in estimating the character of men and 
events belonging to it I may therefore 
quote from a letter of the " Salvetti Corre- 
spondence/' dated at London i6th Decem- 
ber, 1628, which says of the Puritans: '*With 
those people it is a maxim to oppose every- 
thing, never to be satisfied with the present 
nor to agree with what is proposed for the 

The New England Puritan was not, like 
the daughters of Jupiter, "crippled by fre- 
quent kneeling." In the services of public 
worship he would not kneel, but stood up for 
prayer; would not stand up, but sat down 
for singing ; would not allow the Bible to be 
read from the pulpit ; would not broaden the 
a in Hades ; would not have Christmas day 
nor Easter morning in his calendar.2 His 

1 From satirical verses of the period of the Restoration. 

^ It was not until the year 1681 that the Massachusetts 
law forbidding the observance of Christmas Day was re- 
pealed. But the Puritan still hated it. We get a savor of 
his hatred in Sewall's diary of the year 1685, Christmas 


climax is seen in the bigotry of John Endi- 
cott cutting out the cross of St George 
from the flag of his country, because the 
Cross was a symbol used by the Church of 
Rome. The religious Puritan to whom the 
Cross was an offense was a darkened being. 
There could have been but little of the true 
devotional spirit in men or women who re- 
garded with aversion that emblem of the 
Passion which stirs devotional hearts to-day. 
Not for them was the sentiment of Xavier's 
hymn : — 

" Tu, tu, mi Jesu, totum me 
Aplexus es in Grace." 

Palfrey says that the Puritan represented 
the " manliness of England." It is truer to 
say that he represented the obstinate willful- 
ness of the English race. His ranks con- 
tained two distinct classes : the doctrinal 
and the state Puritans. To secure a political 
independence, many doctrinals came to New 
England, leaving a land in which John Mil- 
ton stood for freedom, to form a state from 
which Roger Williams could be banished. 

Day : ** Carts come to town and shops open as usual ; some 
somehow observe ye day, but are vex'd, I believe, that ye 
Body of ye People profane it ; and, blessed be God, no 
authority yet to compell them to keep it." 


It is welbknown that here they became in- 
tolerant and unmerciful, and, as their friend 
Sir Richard Saltonstall said, did " fyne whip 
and imprison men for their consciences/' 
They did this not because of the exigencies 
of their political situation, nor because the 
teachings of the time were cruel; but be* 
cause they had a mission which they could 
carry on only by claiming their own way in 
all temporal and spiritual matters. 

They landed in Massachusetts with inten- 
tion to establish a " Theocrasie." John 
Winthrop had thought of it on the voyage, 
and John Cotton published it in his letter 
to Lord Say and Sele, in which he said: 
" Theocracy is the best form of Government 
in the Commonwealth as well as in the 
Church." As the Puritan idea was that 
rigid discipline is necessary for man, and 
coercion by laws is a necessary part of disci- 
pline, they legislated to punish a temper of 
mind and a fashion of dress, as well as to 
prevent crimes. They based their laws on a 
historic covenant with the ancient Hebrews, 
and they said, '* No custom nor prescription 
shall ever prevail amongst us . . . that 
can be proved to be morally sinful by the 


Word of God." ^ They harassed opponents 
for nothing which can be acknowledged to 
have been a crime ; and they would have 
put John Bunyan into Bedford Jail, had 
Bunyan and Bedford been in Massachusetts 
or Connecticut. Their scheme of govern- 
ment eventually failed ; but they never had 
any desire to establish one on the principles 
of civil and religious liberty. 

All this is to be accounted for by the 
fact that they were disciples of John Cal- 
vin. Who was he? He was a theologian 
who lived between the years 1509 and 1564, 
in France and Switzerland; and was the 
inventor of a system of theology which for 
nearly three centuries exercised a prodigious 
influence upon all persons who accepted it. 
This system teaches that the only assurance 
of salvation which a believer in the Christian 
religion can have rests upon God's sovereign 
purpose, whereby he has predestinated some 
men, women, and children to eternal life, and 
others to eternal death. The fortunate ones 
are said to be " effectually called," and to be 
kept in a line of progressive holiness unto 

^ TJie General Laws and Liberties of the Massachusetts 
Colony^ 1648-1672. * 


the end. Calvin rendered some service to 
the progress of human thought ; but he was 
as bigoted and intolerant as any man of his 
time. At his instigation Michael Servetus, 
a theologian whose orthodoxy he doubted, 
was arrested, while in church at Geneva, and 
imprisoned. Calvin desired to have him be- 
headed ; but the civil council condemned him 
to be burned at the stake; and thus this 
preacher perished in October, 1553. Calvin 
then found it necessary for his own justifica- 
tion to publish a treatise, which appeared in 
February, 1554, entitled a "Defense of the 
Doctrines of the Trinity against the detesta- 
ble Errors of Michael Servetus, wherein it is 
also shown that it is lawful to punish Heri- 
tics with the sword." A few weeks later 
there appeared a " Treatise concerning Heri- 
tics/* — a collection of passages from various 
authors in favor of religious toleration. It 
was compiled by S^bastien Castellion, who 
in his preface to the book shows the unim- 
portance of such doctrines as Predestination, 
and sets forth Christianity as a system of 
life, and not a system of dogma. Michelet 
says that he established for all time the 
great law of tolerance ("posa pour tout 


I'avenir la grande loi de la tolerance"). 
Calvin had already declared that heretics 
ought to be punished with death. He knew 
Castillion; he pursued him with relentless 
persecution; declared that he was Satan's 
emissary to deceive the thoughtless; stig- 
matized him as ''blasphemous, malignant, 
full of animal lusts, a dirty dog, impious, ob- 


John Calvin was duplicated in the Puritans 
who founded New England. His spirit ban- 
ished Mrs. Hutchinson and Roger Williams. 
It hanged the people called Quakers, in the 
years 1659 ^^^ 1660, and the people called 
witches, in the year 1692. It spoke on the 
vituperative tongue of Cotton Mather when 
that subtle priest maligned the men of Boston 
who established the Brattle Street church, in 
the year 1700. It burned at the stake a 
negro slave woman, at Charlestown, in the 
year 1755; and it tormented the people 
called Shakers, in the year 1782. The 
founders of New England are not to be 
blamed because they were unfriendly to 
civil and religious liberty, for John Calvin 
stood behind them and shaped the form and 
policy of their government. * 


Plymouth followed in the Puritan train. 
When Winthrop's company bad settled on 
the peninsula, which, as their records of Sep- 
tember, 1630, say, "shalbe called Boston," 
the Plymouth colony was in a state of decay. 
It had been ashore nearly ten years, and had 
not established a town nor created a com- 
merce. So sluggish had been its growth, and 
so comatose was its condition, that no records 
of its public life had been written. It had 
put to death John Billington, one of the Lon- 
don scapegraces who were shuffled aboard 
the Mayflower while she lay at Southamp- 
ton, and it had punished others of that class, 
whose mutinous speeches had caused the 
self-protecting "compact" to be signed in 
the cabin of the ship when she was at anchor 
in Cape Cod harbor. Its trusted agent, 
Isaac Allerton, had ''plaid his own game," 
as Governor Bradford wrote, ''and rane a 
course to ye great wrong & detrimente of ye 
plantation ; " whose future he said, was 
"foulded up in obscurite & kepte in ye 
clouds." Many of the people were dissatis- 
fied with the location ; they said the harbor 
was the poorest and the soil the barrenest on 
the coast of New England. 


While the Massachusetts colony was found- 
ing many towns, the Plymouth colony was 
steadily loli^sing its population. Winthrop, 
writing in the year 1646, felt thankful, in his 
sympathy for the colony, that " one Captain 
Cromwell," a privateer with three ships and 
eighty men who had captured richly laden 
Spanish vessels in the West Indian seas, 
had been forced by adverse winds into Ply- 
mouth harbor ; he said, " Divine Providence 
so directing for the help of that town which 
was now almost deserted." 

The Plymouth colony was saved from ruin 
by an overflow into it of people from the 
Bay colony who had the means of living. 
Erelong it became true that the two colo- 
nies were one in theology and politics. As 
James Cudworth, the magistrate of Scituate, 
wrote: "Plymouth Saddle is on the Bay 
horse ; our Civil Powers are so exercised in 
matters of religion and conscience that we 
have no time to effect anything that tends 
to the promotion of the civil weal ; but must 
have a State religion and a State ministry 
and a State way of maintenance." 

The population was a peculiar mixture of 
human beings. At the outset, doctrinal Pu- 


ritans sent by commercial adventurers and 
accompanied by educated ministers, who 
were to convert the Indians, came to the 
Massachusetts in congregations and in com- 
panies. The immigrants who came later 
were mainly of a different sort. They were 
not religionists. They came out of a stratum 
of society lying between the gentry and the 
peasantry of England. No representatives 
of science, or art, or literature came; no 
statesman, no poet came ; nor any great 
leader of social life. But there did come, 
with a few merchants and lawyers, ship- 
loads of common people moved by the same 
love of adventure which to-day carries Eng- 
lishmen to unknown lands : yeomen, trades- 
men, mechanics, servants, and idlers. "And 
by this mean," as Bradford wrote, " the cun- 
trie became pestered with many unworthy 

These all put together made the composite 
New England Puritan. Into this mass must 
be mixed Huguenots, Germans, Scotch pris- 
oners sent by Cromwell, and white slaves 
imported from Ireland to be sold, who be- 
came the forebears of a part of the popula- 
tion ; and to complete the contents of the 


cauldron I must add the abundant offspring 
of miscegenation between the Indian and the 
white races. Those were licentious times 
when Winthrop, writing to Plymouth, July 
28, 1637, thought it necessary to say, of the 
captives taken in the Pequot war : " We 
have ye wife & children of Mononotto, a 
woman of a very modest countenance and 
behaviour. It was by her mediation that 
the English maids were spared from death, 
and were kindly used by her ; so that I have 
taken charge of her. One of her first re- 
quests was that the English would not abuse 
her body." That Indian mother spoke a 
better morality than was then prevalent in 
New England. There is now in existence 
a manuscript letter concerning the Pequot 
captives, from Israel Stoughton to Governor 
Winthrop, which is indorsed by the Gov- 
ernor, "Received 5th month 6th day 1637." 
It speaks of 48 or 50 women and children 
taken captives, and then it says : *' There is 
a little squa that Steward Calacot desires to 
whom he hath given a coate. Lifetenant 
Davenport also desires one, to witt a tall one 
that hath three stroakes upon her stummach 
thus ! ! ! he desireth her if it will stand with 


your good liking ; the Solomon ye Indian de- 
sireth a young little squa which I know not, 
but I leave all to your dispose." 

All these people were required by law to 
sit in the colonial meeting-house. They 
were nominally Puritans, and are so spoken 
of by historians and orators. They acquired 
certain habits of mind under Calvinian 
teachings which became characteristic of 
their descendants, in whose acts to-day ap- 
pears the original composite ancestor. 

Many of Miss Wilkins's character stories 
may be read as true delineations of the com- 
posite Puritan's hereditary traits, which are 
still clinging to the rural New Englander as 
moss clings to the old stone walls on his 
farm. For example, there is Marcus Wood- 
man, who said that the minister "was n't 
doctrinal." He spoke about it in church 
meeting, and he kept getting more and more 
set, every word he said. He had a way of 
saying things over and over, as if he was 
making steps and raising himself up on 
them. Finally he said if that minister was 
settled over that church, he himself would 
never go inside the door. Somebody re- 
plied, " You'll have to sit on the steps, then, 


brother Woodman." He answered, gritting 
his teeth, " I will sit on the steps fifty years 
before 1 11 go into this house, if that man is 
settled here ! " 

There was the doctrinal Puritan ! His 
mind was full of the stubborn animosity of 
his remote composite ancestor, whose facial 
features he showed in ''a mild forehead, a 
gently curving mouth, and a terrible chin 
with a look of strength in it that might have 
abashed mountains/' Sunday after Sunday 
he walks to the meeting-house with Esther 
Barney, to whom he is engaged to be mar- 
ried, and takes a seat on the steps while she 
passes within. 

People ask: "Is that Mr. Woodman 
crazy } " 

The answer is : " No ; he has got too 
much will for his common sense, and the 
will teeters the sense too far into the air." 

So it was with the Composite Puritan of 
New England. 



|HE first refinement made in the co- 
lonial meeting-house was the eleva- 
tion of the preacher into a pulpit. 
Pulpits were beautiful works of art in the 
cathedrals of England, and more beautiful 
in those of Flanders and the Netherlands. 
But some Puritans and Quakers had con- 
demned them because, as one of the latter 
said "They have a great deal of super- 
fluity and vain pains of carving, painting, 
and varnishing upon them, together with 
your cloth and velvet cushion, because of 
which, and not for the height of them above 
ground, we call them Chief Places," 

Of the parishes of England it was required 
that every church shall set up "a coniley 
and honest pulpit, in a convenient place, for 
the preaching of God's word." The green 
cushion adorning the pulpit was an object of 


special interest. A story of the creation of 
this indispensable ornament is told in a par- 
ish record ^ of the year 1635 : — 

Pd for foure gras greene taselles for the Cossen .012 o 

for Silke for pulpit cussen 078 

for two ounces and halfe of greene fringe .063 
for halfe yard of greene broadcloth ....066 

for 7 pounds of flocks 036 

for 9 yardes of Gould chaine and 3 quarterns 066 

for Satin and four skenes of silk o i 10 

for one ell of canvis 015 

John Prince for making the Coshen ...050 

Church records of Medford state that on 
Sunday, July 28, 1771, "was used for the first 
time the new pulpit cushion given by William 
Pepperell, Esq'% who imported it from Eng- 
land at a cost of eleven guineas." 

In the second century of New England, 
the pulpit became large and lofty, resem- 
bling a section of a fortress ; the long stairs 
ascending to its door were covered with a 
carpet ; a canopy or sounding-board was sus- 
pended over it, in which bats made nests; 
"and it was no uncommon thing," as the 
Branford annals say, "for a bat to get loose 

1 The Church Warden's Accounts of the Parish of St, 
Marys, Readintr, Berks \ 1550 to 1662. 


during the service and go scooting through 
the house." Dorcas made a green velvet 
cushion for the pulpit ; one of the selectmen 
put on his Sunday clothes and with much 
ado rode o£E to Boston to buy an hourglass 
for it ; and at last it became the Chief Place 
in the colonial meeting-house. 

The oak pulpit and the green cushion of a 
meeting-house which was built at Salem in 
the year 171 3 are mentioned in a private let- 
ter of that date, which says : " The meeting- 
house is well built 3 stories high, 28 by 42 
feet, with oak timber and covered with one 
and one-half inch plank and with clapboards 
upon that, and it is intended to have ye in- 
side finished with plastering when ye Pre- 
cinct are able. Ye pulpit and ye deacons 
seat are made of good oak ; and a green 
cushion on ye pulpit given by Mr. Higgin- 
son. I had ye above particulars from Mr. 
Drake ye builder of ye house who is a man 
of considerable acquirement. He also told 
me that he prepared a box to put under ye 
foundation containing ye year of our Lord 
that ye building was begun, and various 
particulars about ye framing of ye church. 
He also put in copper coins of ye reign of 


our blessed Sovereign Queen Anne, and an 
epistle to yc sovereign who shall rcIgn over 
these Provinces when ye box shall be found, 
and another to ye Household of faith in 
Salem Middle Precinct exhorting them to 
maintain ye doctrine of ye founders, to ye 
utter confusion and sham of all Baptists 
Mass mongers and other heretical unbeliev- 
ers. Mr. Trush who is himself a Godly man 
and a member of ye church would not agree 
to put ye box under ye house, as they 
thought it savored of presumption and vain 
glorying ; and some of them would not agree 
to ye sentiments of ye letter to ye House- 
hold of faith, but he privately put ye box 
under ye pulpit, when ye house was near 
built, enclosed in brick and good clay." 

In winter the colonial meeting-house was 
a cold place. It may be said that the con- 
gregation sat " shivering on the brink " of 
perdition, if the icy temperature of the house 
and the terrible doctrines of the sermon are 
to be taken together. Samuel Sewall notes 
that there was a " Great Coughing " in the 
congregation ; that the sacrament bread was 
frozen as hard as pebbles, and pieces of it 
rattled as they fell in the pewter plates. 


His description of the temperature was true 
for nearly two hundred years. The winters 
in New England were colder than they are 
now. Sewall has mentioned in his diary a 
wintry Sunday in January, 1716: "An ex- 
traordinary Cold Storm of Wind and Snow. 
Blows much worse on coming home at Noon, 
and so holds on. Bread was frozen at the 
Lord's Table. ... At Six-a-clock my ink 
freezes so that I can hardly write by a good 
fire in my Wive's Chamber." Another win- 
try Sunday is described by Cotton Mather 
in February, 1717 : "On the 24th day of 
the month comes Pelion upon Ossa ; an- 
other snow storm came on which almost 
buried the memory of the former, with a 
storm so famous that Heaven laid an inter- 
dict on the religious assemblies throughout 
the country, on this Lord's Day, the like 
whereunto hath never been seen before." 
Another wintry Sunday is noted by Row- 
land Thacher, minister at Wareham, in Feb- 
ruary, 1773: "A remarkably cold Sabbath 
reaching as far as New York. Some by 
their glasses found it to be many degrees 
colder than ever was known in New Eng- 
land. Many were froze. I myself coming 


home from Meeting had my face touched 
with the frost." This was Arctic weather ; 
and the obstinacy with which New England 
congregations sacrificed themselves to it, 
during two centuries, was piteous. When at 
last they discovered that it was not sinful 
to be warm on Sunday, they tried to induce 
the town meeting to put stoves into the 
meeting-house. An instance is recorded 
in the records of Waltham, of the year 1818 ; 
some persons of their own volition had set 
up a stove in the Waltham meeting-house, 
and had asked the town to furnish fuel for it. 
They might, says the writer of the story, 
" as well have applied fire to gunpowder and 
have expected no explosion." The town 
ordered the stove to be put out-of-doors. 
Perez Briggs and Ebenezer Bourne, select- 
men of Wareham in the year 1825, called a 
town meeting, "To see if the Town will 
furnish sufficient money belonging to the 
meeting-house to Purchase a Stove and pipes 
and furnish wood and attendance for said 

What was the town's reply to this request ? 
" Not to purchase a Stove and pipes. Not 
to furnish wood and attendance. What 


money belongs to the Town to remain in 
the Treasurer's hands until otherwise or- 

Worshipers in these frigid meeting- 
houses were the people of whom it has been 
said that they wrote notes of the sermons. 
The truth was, that the major part of the 
worshipers could not write, and many could 
not read. This was true in all parts of rural 
New England, and it was especially true of 
women. The popular opinion about girls 
seems to have been that they were not worth 
educating ; that their natural occupation was 
servile labor, — to scour the pewter, run the 
spinning-wheels, wash the dishes and cloth- 
ing of the family, tend the hens, the geese, 
and the calves. As late as the year 1785, 
the town of Northampton voted " not to be 
at any expense for schooling girls." ^ In re- 
gard to men whose days from sunrise to 
sunset were filled with hard labor, the few 
who could write were so unskilled in the art 
that if they had tried to take notes of a ser- 

^ In the year 17921 Northampton, after a long struggle 
in town meeting, voted to admit girls to the town schools 
from May to October ; but those only who were between 
the ages of 8 and 15 years. 


mon the preacher would have reached his 
"Aymen" long before they had stumbled 
through his Firstly, It is not to the shame 
of these people to say that they were illit- 
erate. In the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries that was the general condition of all 
British communities that tilled the soil for a 
living. And others beside yeomen were 
illiterate. This extract from a letter ^ writ- 
ten by Lady Anna Bertie to her friend the 
Countess of Northampton, in the year 17 16, 
is an example of the illiterate orthography 
of her class at that time, and their gossip 
also : — 

*\ I wish this Place afor'd aney thing to make 
a Letter aney wayes acceptable but all the talke 
att prasint is of a very od Weding wich has lately 
happned hear, tho you do not know the Lady I 
cannot help giveing you an account of, and am 
Sure did yu know her you must be of my Mind 
that nothing that weres petticoates need dispair 
of a husband, She is a boute three score & has 
nether beauty witte nor good humour to recom- 
mend her she is of a make large enough for the 
Grand Senior. Standing one lucky hour att her 

^ Published by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, 


Window thear past by a genttellman about the 
same age who casting hies eyes upwards beheld 
this Queen of Beauty & att this time was taken 
with Such a fluttring att his heart that he could 
not rest till he had Broke his mind to her and he 
soon found releif, for theay said Matrimony in a 
week and hethertoo think themselves they happy- 
est Couple in the. King's Dominions, God keep 
them so say I." 

The crying want of colonial New England 
was a school. One of the myths of the col- 
onies, the stock tradition of its histories, 
is that when a meeting-house was built, a 
schoolhouse was built also. A historian 
says : " The schoolhouse and the meeting- 
house were among the first buildings to be 
raised in each newly founded village, and 
as fast as the towns grew to a moderate 
size these rudimentary schools were supple- 
mented by high schools, and in some in- 
stances by Latin schools ; '' ^ and the latest 
historian of New England says : ''AH the 
early settlers paid great attention to in- 
structing their children first at home, or in 
the ministers' houses, and then in the public 
schools, . . . the love of learning never died 

1 John Fiske, lecture at Boston, February 7, 1S90. 


out, and the free schools were never aban- 
doned." * 

There is no truth in such general state- 
ments. The school history of New England 
is plainly written in its laws, of which there 
were a plenty to compel towns to maintain 
schools ; but they all were " shamefully 
neglected." A law of Massachusetts which 
was passed and published June 28, 1702, 
says : — 

" Whereas it is by law appointed that every 
town within this province, having the number of 
fifty householders or upwards, shall be constantly 
provided of a school-master to teach children 
and youth to read and write; and where any 
town or towns have the number of one hundred 
families or householders there shall also be a 
grammar school set up in every such town, and 
some discreet person, of good coi\versation, well 
instructed in the tongues, procured to keep such 
school, every such school-master to be suitably 
encouraged and paid by the inhabitants . . . 
the observance of which wholesome and necessary 
law is shamefully neglected by divers towns^ and 
the penalty thereof not required." 

> Douglass Campbell, 7^ Puritan Holland^ Englami^ 
aftd America f pages 30^ 31. 


The penalty for a non-observance of the 
school laws was then increased from ;£io to 
£20 yearly ; and it was declared that " No 
minister of any town shall be deemed, held 
or accepted to be the schoolmaster of such 
town within the intent of the law." Let me 
also quote from a Massachusetts law of the 
year 1718: — 

'^ Whereas notwithstanding the many good and 
wholesome laws of this province for the encourag- 
ing of schools and the penalty first of ten pounds, 
and afterwards increased to twenty pounds, on 
such towns as are obliged to have a grammar 
school master and neglect the same ; yet by sad 
experience it is found that many towns that not 
only are obliged by law, but are very able to sup- 
port a grammar school, yet choose rather to incur 
and pay the fine orpencUty than maintain a gram- 
mar school!^ 

The penalties were then increased from 
;f 30 to ;f 40. These laws tell us what the 
people thought about schools. They were 
accustomed to make spasmodic hirings of a 
schoolmaster, from time to time, in order to 
show a compliance with the laws ; sometimes 
he was dismissed soon after he was hired ; 
or he was set to work for a few weeks at the 


centre of the town, a few weeks at an end 
of it, and a few weeks at the opposite end. 
In the Wareham records of the year 1756 
I read: "And the Select men agreed and 
Drawd Lotts where the School should begin 
first, and the first Lot fell to the East End 
of the Town, the second Lot to the Middle 
of the Town, ye Third to ye West End." 
If there was no schoolhouse the teacher 
taught and boarded in private houses, going 
from one to another as the shoemaker went 
on the same circuit to make shoes for the 
families. When for a long time there had 
been no school, and the grand jury of the 
county had "presented the town" for this 
offense against the laws, the chiefest towns- 
man was sent to answer the presentment, 
and to get the penalty reduced. These facts 
are not remarkable if you consider that per- 
sons qualified to teach wefe not numerous, 
and that money was not plenty in rural 
towns. The margin of life was so small 
that it allowed no freedom from labor, and 
no privilege of being indifferent to the cost 
of daily necessities. 

To return to the meeting-house. As the 
population and wealth of the colonies in- 


creased, the towns began to build meeting- 
houses of larger size and better quality. 
These were nearly square, and the roof 
sloped up from the four sides to a belfry- 
spire standing on the centre of it. They 
contained pews ; for which long sermons and 
long prayers must have created a desire. 
When, for the first time, pews were built in 
England, it was complained that they were 
''made high and easie for the parishioners 
to sleep in ; " and the Bishop of Norwich, in 
the year 1636, found it necessary to direct 
"that no pews be made over high, so that 
they which be in them cannot be seen how 
they behave themselves." A meeting-house 
built at Newbury in the year 1700 had twenty 
high and square pews; on the outside of 
the pews were seats for children ; its in- 
terior was open to the roof beams, which 
were polished and ornamented with pendants 
of a quaint fashion. Then the style was 
changed to an oblong house with a tower 
built on one end of it, from which arose a 
steeple. The Cape Ann meeting-house of 
the year 1739 was ninety feet long and 
sixty feet wide ; the tower was seventy feet 
high, and the white steeple, rising seventy 


feet above the bell-deck, was visible to sea- 
men miles away at sea ; 

" Whence sometimes, when the wind was light 
And dull the thunder of the beach, 
They heard the bells of mom and night 
Swing, miles away, their silver speech." 

As the style of the colonial meeting-house 
was changed for the better, so was the dress 
of the audience changed. In seaport towns 
a trade with Europe had been established, 
and the meeting-house felt its influences in 
the rustlings of silks and ribbons. Broad- 
cloth coats in crimson, yellow, and other 
colors, began to take the place of dingy 
homespuns ; breeches of buckskin were dis- 
carded for breeches of velvet or corduroy; 
silk camblet hoods, faced with velvet,^ took 
the place of cheaper headdresses, and the 
minister was furnished with a Geneva gown 
of silk. When reading the manuscript rec- 
ords of a town on Buzzard's Bay, I came 
upon this, written in the year 1767: "Paid 
for Doing ye meeting house and for a Sup- 

1 **0n the Sabbath, the 28th of Aug last was taken 
away or Stole out of a Pew at the Old North Meeting 
House, A Cinnamon Colour'd Womans Silk Camblet 
Riding-Hood, the head faced with black Velvet"— Adver- 
tisement in Boston News^Letter^ September, 1726. 


polidge." The illiterate town clerk proba* 
bly had in mind a surplice when he invented 
the word "suppolidge" to signify a Geneva 
gown, bought for the minister by the town 
in the time of a general renovation or '' do- 
ing " of the meeting-house.^ Mrs. Gamp was 
inclined to a similar perversion of words : 
" Mrs. Harris, I says, leave the bottle on the 
chimney piece, and don't ask me to take 
none, but let me put it to my lips when so 

There was no object which the people 
saw so often as the great door of the meet- 
ing-house. Side doors and back doors and 
private doors it had, but the great door 
faced the country road on which all travel- 
ers passed and tavern-goers loitered. The 
stepping-stones and the horse-house and the 
hitching-posts were near it. Every wor- 
shiper who approached the meeting-house 
on Sunday or on lecture day looked at the 
great door, even if he did not enter thereby. 
It naturally became the town's bulletin-board 

1 Injunctions issued by Queen Elizabeth directed the 
parish to pay for the minister's surplice : " Every Minister 
saymg any publick prayers or ministering the Sacraments 
or other Rites of the Church, shall wear a comely Surplice 
with sleeves, to be provided at the charges of the Parish.*' 


upon which all informations were posted. 
The most important of these were the offi- 
cial warnings for a town meeting. When 
townsmen were unable to read them it be- 
came necessary to send abroad the consta- 
bles to give notice "by word of mouth." 
This happened at Plymouth, where, as say 
the records of the year 1694, "the Town 
declared themselves to be against Warning 
town meetings by papers set up for that 
end, but doe Expect warning from the Cun- 
stables by word of mouth when Ever there 
shall be ocasion." 

Other things were also posted on the 
great door during the first century of New 
England. Ipswich town compelled the man 
who hunted wolves, expecting to get the 
bounty of ten shillings for each wolf killed, 
to prove his hunt by bringing the heads to 
the meeting-house and there "nayle them 
and give notis to the constable." At Ports- 
mouth, it was ordered that the heads must 
be nailed " upon the meeting-house door ; " 
but at Hampton, near Portsmouth, there was 
an order that wolf-heads are to be nailed 
"to a little read oke tree at the north east 
end of the meeting-hous." Probably the 


face of the great door was already full of 

The custom of nailing to the door vari- 
ous things for public warning or knowledge 
came, like other meeting-house customs of 
colonial times, from Old England. Many 
years ago, some fragments of skin were 
found under nailheads on the principal door 
of an ancient church in Yorkshire. There 
was a tradition in th^ parish that, about a 
thousand years ago, the church was plun- 
dered by a Danish robber ; that the robber 
was captured, condemned to be flayed, and 
his skin to be nailed to the church door as 
a terror to evil-doers.^ During the succeed- 
ing centuries the robber's skin, stretched 
and dried and wrinkled on the door, was 
wasted away until the only traces of it re- 
maining were small pieces peeping out from 
under some of the broad-headed nails with 
which the face of the door was studded. 
One of these pieces was subjected to the 
scrutiny of a microscope. Fine hairs were 
found upon it, — such hairs as grow upon 
the human body ; and the microscope re- 

^ This fact is mentioned in Gosse*s Evenings with the 


vealed the fact that they were the hairs of 
a person of a fair complexion. Thus the 
general tradition, preserved in the parish 
for centuries, was shown to be the truth. 
The fragment taken from the church door 
was a piece of the skin of a Danish rob- 
ber, nailed thereon a thousand years ago. 

People were as eager to get out of the 
meeting-house as the colony laws were to 
get them into it. "There is much profane- 
ness amongst us," say the Massachusetts 
colony records of the. year 1675, "i^ Per- 
sons turning their backs upon the public 
worship before it is finished and the bless- 
ing pronounced." The scene described by 
the formal words of these records was no- 
thing less than a general flight of people from 
the meeting-house to the open air, as soon as 
the sermon was ended. It seems to repre- 
sent the culmination of an agony ; like that 
which is revealed by a hill, in the wild region 
of Mashonaland, on whose rock are imprinted 
many footsteps of men and animals, all point- 
ing to the summit, towards which, in some 
primeval time, they were evidently fleeing in 
terror from a rising flood. To put a stop 
to this profaneness, all selectmen were com- 


manded by the General Court to appoint 

men to bolt or shut the doors of the meet- 
ing-house when the sermon was finished, or 
to act in "any other meet way" to keep the 
audience inside " until the exercise be ended." 
Sometimes constables were stationed outside 
the doors to arrest those who escaped too 
soon. As the profaneness increased, in spite 
of the Court, every generation of selectmen 
was compelled to consider some new "meet 
way" to stop the stampedes. At last they 
made rules and regulations directing the 
manner in which congregations must go 
out. Here is a regulation put in force at 
Groton in the year 1756: "After the bless- 
ing is pronounced, pews and all the fore 
seats move out first ; second seats to fol- 
low, and so on until the whole house be 
emptied ; and all persons are to quit the 
doors as soon as they are out." 

As colonial laws empowered selectmen 
"to order the affaires of the towne," their 
duties included a care of the meeting-house 
as well as of roads, fences, and stray cattle. 
They were such lords of the manor that 
they, at times, compelled the improvident 
and the infirm "to .wQu , — . 


example, in the year 1701 they gave "notis 
to a leame gearle whose name is Wodekins," 
staying at Edward Cooke's house, '' that she 
doe depart out of Dedham." They granted 
various privileges in the meeting-house, such 
as to build pews on the overhead beams and 
in other queer places; as at Rochester, in 
the year 171 8, "to William Blackmer & Tim- 
othy Ruggles liberty to build two Seats or 
Pews six foot fronting from the wall on the 
beams over the galeries on the East and 
West Ends of the meeting-house on their 
own cost;" "to Israel Bumpus & Joseph 
HaskoU liberty to build a seat all along 
before the front gallery on their own cost 
provided they do it decently." They gave 
privileges "to make glass windows for the 
conveniency" of pew owners (Pepperell, 
1742); to make a private door "from the 
outside of the meeting-house" (Medford, 
1736). This last-named privilege converted 
the pew to a private box ; and I can im- 
agine how eagerly the eyes of homespun 
gallants watched for the opening of that 
door, on Sunday mornings, when the belle 
of the village stepped fluttering in, sur- 
prising the deacons by the gravity of her 


demeanor. In the meeting-house recently ~ 
built at Crathie, near Balmoral, in Scotland, 
overlooking a long stretch of the valley of 
the Dee, a private door was made for the 
use of her Majesty Queen Victoria, — a con- 
venience similar to that enjoyed by the belle 
of the colonial village. 

The colonial meeting-house was not a con- 
secrated building ; for the truth taught at 
the Well of Samaria was that no place of 
worship has a distinctive claim of its own. 
Yet seiectmen were called upon to prevent 
the doing of various things in it; such as, 
at Hampton, riding horses into it, and firing 
off guns in it ; such as, at Dedham, hitch- 
ing horses to "the meeting-house Ladder;" 
such as, at Framinghara, " cutting off seats 
and cutting Holes through the Walls ; " such 
as, at Groton, chewing or smoking tobacco 
or leaving "any trash in the meeting-house." 
In its loft selectmen stored the town's gun- 
powder. There was a little town in Maine 
whose gunpowder was stored in "the small 
closets within the sacred desk." On the 
morning of the battle of Lexington, Cap- 
tain Parker said to his comoanv : " Everv 
man of you who is equippe^. 


And those who are not equipped, go into 
the meeting-house and furnish yourselves 
from the magazine and immediately join the 
company ! " 

The townspeople were accustomed to as- 
semble in the meeting-house for any pur- 
pose of a public nature. But if persons 
who were not of the orthodox elect desired 
to assemble therein, they must obtain per- 
mission fronl the town ; as at Branford, in 
the year 1750, the records say that liberty 
was granted "to professors of the Church 
of England in this town, as they call them- 
selves, to meet in the Meeting House on 
they 25th of December which they call 
Christmas." What a doleful Christmas they 
found in that Puritan meeting-house I In it 
ecclesiastical councils sat ; and town meet- 
ings, always opened by a prayer, were con- 
vened, at which men sat with their hats on 
and made as many disorders as they had 
a mind to. These were noticed by colony 
laws and by town laws ; such as, " every 
man shall speak by turn, rising and putting 
off his hat," and when he has said his say 
"he shall signify it by putting on his hat 
and sitting down ; " he " shall speak his mind 


meekly and without noise ; " if he " presume 
to speak without liberty of the moderator," 
he is to be fined twenty shillings. Notwith- 
standing these laws of restraint, the walls of 
the meeting-house resounded at times with a 
deafening uproar. 

*' The constable to every prater 
Bawl'd out — ' Pray hear the Moderator 1 * 
Some call'd the vote, and some in turn 
Were screaming high — < Adjourn ! Adjourn 1 ' " 



|HE bells in the tower of Elstow 
Church were rung by John Bunyan 
while he was carrying on his trade 
as the village tinker. The ringing of the bells 
was a pleasurable diversion from his labors 
at the forge, because he loved to hear their 
sounds. This love clung to him through life, 
and it prompted him to cause all the bells to 
welcome the pilgrims of his immortal allegory 
when they entered the celestial city ; then 
"all the bells of the city rang again for joy." 
When his conscience came under conviction 
in regard to religious matters he gave up the 
joyful diversion of bell-ringing, as he gave up 
that of dancing. Austerity was a religious 
fashion of his people. 

Yet there was a daily ringing of bells in 
the rural parishes of England. I read in 
churchwardens' accounts of payments made 


for the ringing of bells on coronation days, 
royal birthdays, thanksgiving days, visitation 
days, wedding days, Christmas days, on many 
holidays, and whenever a member of the 
reigning family rode through the town. 
Then I read of the passing bell, tolled for 
those who were passing out of this life ; and 
the pealing bell to announce that some mor- 
tal had put on immortality. These signified 
an old belief that devils troubled the dying 
and lay iu wait to afflict the escaping soul, 
and that they were terrified from thijir pur- 
poses by the bells.' After the Reformation 
that ancient belief in the personal presence 
and power of devils continued to exist ; even 
Martin Luther, at midnight, heard a devil 
(and not a rat) cracking nuts near his bed- 
stead. But the reformers taught that the 

1 Anno Domini, 1592. (TAt CAur^h (Vantea's Aiamnt 

Bftht Parish ef Si. Mary's. Reading, Berk^: 1 550 lo 1662.) 

Reed for llie passinge Belle for Mi Webbs . . . ^d. 

" for the pasainge Belle for goodwife Bull . . 4 </. 

" for Ihe jiassinge lielle for a liliaugcr diiiige at 

lioiiabiea 41/. 

" for a Prysuners grave and Bell 5 ^. 

" for the double Kiiill of MmEliziibelb Bosbey 

and hit child 

" for hie soUome Knill after the Bui 


passing bell was rung to admonish the living 
and invite them to pray for the dying. 

I read of the prisoner's bell, of the solemn 
knell after burial, and the double knell for 
a mother and her child ; also of the curfew 
bell, a signal for all people to cover their 
fires and go to bed, which was rung from 
every church spire of England, at eight 
o'clock of every evening of the year, — 

"Swinging slow, with solemn roar ; " 

and I copy a reference to it from the parish 
records of St Mary's in Reading of the year 
1600: "that Wiirm Marshall the Clarke 
and Sexten shall have \\\)s, iiijdJ a yere more 
paied him to his wages, and for the same hee 
is to Ringe the eight a clocke Bell everie 
evninge both hoHe dale and workinge dale 
thoroughe out the whole yere." In the 
booming life of the present day, when men 
must drive furiously, or be run over by the 
throng, one may feel an envy for the peace- 
ful lot of those simpler men and women who 
lived under the curfew bell. 

The villagers of Old England were proud 
of their bells, and the poorest borough was 
stimulated to build new bell towers or to 


hang new chimes. The inhabitants of Tot- 
nea in Devonshire were so poor that, in the 
year 1449, there were only three pcoiile in 
the town who paid as much as twenty pence 
on "the tax of half-tenths and fifteenths for 
the King;" and yet the parish determined to 
replace its wooden belfry by a stone tower, 
according to the best model, and to rehang 
its chime of four bells. This was accom- 
plished by cooperative labor of the parish- 
ioners, and by contributions of money on 

In the beginning of New England there 
were no towns so poor as Totnes. Of but 
few of them could it be said : — 

" Oft in Ihf woodland, far away, 
X% heard [he sound of bells rung faintly." 

The call to worship in most of them was 
sounded on a drum, beaten back and forth 
the highway from the minister's house to 
the ends of the village. Sometimes the 
sound of a drum was preferred to the sound 
of a bell ; as at Wethersfield, the oldest set- 
tlement in Connecticut, the rude forefathers 
of the hamlet voted "that the bell be rung 
noe more on the Sabbath or lecture dales, 
1 Green, Taum Lift eftki Pi/lai d 


but the drum henceforth be beaten." The 
first meeting-house bell in New England was 
set up in the year 1632 at Newtowne, now 
Cambridge, on the Charles River. It was a 
small, shrill- voiced crier, and the people, after 
hearing its din for four years, became tired 
of it and used a drum to announce the hour 
for worship. The first bell at Hingham was 
so small that when the second house was 
built, the selectmen were requested to get a 
new bell " as big againe as the old one was, 
if it may be had." The first bell at Woburn 
was set upon a hill back of the meeting- 
house, to give it a wide hearing. The first 
bell at Ipswich was hung "on a pine tree 
to the northeast " of the meeting-house ; and 
the first bell at Maiden was set up on a rock 
which is known to this day as Bell Rock. 
Near its site is the Bell Rock cemetery, in 
which graves were made more than two hun- 
dred years ago ; and near by is the Bell Rock 
station of a railroad that goes to Boston. 
Throngs of travelers, hurrying by short cuts 
across the cemetery to catch the morning 
trains, have trodden hard paths over the 
graves of colonial people who came to meet- 
ing when they heard the summons from the 
bell that stood on the rock. 

I ' '[.yt ^^ I 


In the year 1659, a bell was hung at New- 
ton ; and the records say that John Cham- 
berlin was to have fifty shillings a year for 
ringing it, and three pounds if he would also 
keep the meeting-house "doore bowlted." 
A bell is mentioned at Plymouth in the 
records of the year 1679, when " The Con- 
stable is ordered by the Towne to take 
Course for the sweeping of the meeting 
house and the Ringing of the bell and to 
pay an Indian for the killing A woulfe." 
When a bell was set up at Newbury, the 
record says that the selectmen procured '' a 
flag for the meeting-house, to be put out 
at the ringing of the first bell, and taken in 
when the last bell is rung." In the year 
1706, a new bell, "of about four hundred 
pounds weight," was hung on the meeting- 
house of this village, and it became a cus- 
tom to notify the villagers of the flight of 
time by tolling the day of the month every 
night after the ringing for nine o'clock. 
Upon this bell were inscribed the words, 
" Let us love as brethren ! " — a sounding 
satire on the bitter quarrels which existed 
for years between the people and their min- 


The bell at Lexington, which was hung in 
a tower near the meeting-house of the year 
1702, must be considered the most famous 
of all the bells of New England, for on the 
morning of the nineteenth day of April, 
1775, it sounded the first national alarm. It 
was the original ^'liberty bell," whose cry 
went afar on that morning when the em- 
battled farmers " fired the shot heard round 
the world." Sylvanus Wood, of Woburn, 
aged seventy-four years, testified, June 17, 
1826, "that about an hour before the break 
of day, on said morning, I heard the Lexing- 
ton bell ring, and, fearing there was dif- 
ficulty, I immediately arose, took my gun, 
and, with Robert Douglass, went in haste to 
Lexington, which was about three miles dis- 
tant." This historic bell disappeared in the 
year 1794, when the old meeting-house was 
pulled down. 

Although there was a bell at Springfield 
as early as the year 1646, each family was 
taxed a peck of corn or fourpence in wam- 
pum yearly, to pay John Matthews to beat 
a drum from the minister's house to the 
end of the settlement every morning and at 
meeting-time. At Dedham, twenty shillings 


a year ** in cedar boards " were paid to Ralph 
Day for a similar service. At Haverhill, in 
the year 1650, Abraham Tyler was chosen 
" to blow his horn half an hour before meet- 
ing;'* for which service he was paid with 
one pound of pork annually from each family. 
Jedediah Strong, at Northampton, earned 
eighteen shillings in the year 1679 by "blow- 
ing the trumpet " to call people to meeting ; 
at South Hadley, a shell was blown ; at Sun- 
derland, a shell, a flag, and a drum were used 
alternately until the year 1751. 

Everybody was expected to go to meet- 
ing when the summons was sounded. So 
ambitious was the real New Englander " to 
get on in the world " by his own thrift, that 
he was willing to let his horse on Sunday to 
those who must ride, while he and his fam- 
ily trudged the way afoot. In a farmer's ac- 
count book I read, under date of 1737 : — 

"Samuel Bates D' for Riding my mare to 
meeting two days 5 shillings." 

" Ebenezer Bates D' for my mare for your 
wife to ride to meeting 2 shillings 6 pence." 

For a similar reason he rented a part of 
his pew. The same account book says : 


"Daniel Raymond D' for A right for himself 
and wife and child in my pue in the meeting 
hous for one year and half ;^i-io.** This 
charge was paid with *' 2 ounces of Inedeco, 2 
gallons of rum^ 4 pounds of Shuger and one 
ounc of peper." 

Going to meeting in the summer time was 
a pleasant tramp for the wayfarer if he had 
eyes to see the boulders covered with mosses 
and green tendrils, the roadside trees fes- 
tooned with grapevines, the creeks skirted 
with marshmallows, the sandy hillocks 
clothed in a regal array of foxgloves which 
nodded to him as he passed by. But in 
cold and tedious winters the journey was 
laborious. John Eliot wrote in the Roxbury 
Church reoords of the year 1699, "This 
winter was very sharp and tedious, we had 
much snow and cold weather, the wayes so 
difficult and unpassable." Now and then 
came days in the end of the year when win- 
dows were opened, grass was green along 
the south edges of stone walls, field brooks 
were running full, and the voice of the mos- 
quito was heard in the land. January shifts 
the scenes. There arrives a quiet, biting 
cold ; suddenly a whirling snowstorm howls 


out of the northwest or the northeast, and 
the highways are speedily covered under 
deep snowdrifts. From that time all paths 
to the meeting-house are difficult to be trav- 
eled until the sun comes into the north, and 
alders begin to bloom, and the tips of elms 
to flush with rosy blossoms, and birds are 
singing their pertest songs, and foxes have 
come out of their holes to sit on sunny 
spots, with ears erect, as if watching the 
return of spring. But the rustic New 
Englander, when he trudged to meeting, 
saw none of these things. He was a man 
of raw material, burdened with the cares and 
labors of a frontier life; and never had his 
eyes been open to the beauty of colors and 
forms. In this respect his refined posterity 
is not unlike him ; for how many now have 
eyes to see the lights and shades of nature, 
or even the lights and shades of the men 
and women who touch their daily lives ? 

Riding to the meeting-house of a Sunday, 
the farmer carries his wife on a pillion be- 
hind him, and a child on the saddle in front 
of him. He rides half the distance and 
walks the remaining half, leaving the horse 
hitched to a tree for the use of a part of his 


family which has followed him afoot; carry- 
ing in hand their shoes and stockings, if it 
is summer, to be put on when they reach 
the meeting-house. The ways are rough 
and narrow, following trails which deer 
have made from the feeding to the water- 
ing places. In the year 1685, the Plymouth 
court was petitioned by seven families of 
the town of Bridgewater for *'a way" to 
the meeting-house. They complained thus : 
** God, by his Providence, hath placed the 
bounds of our habitation in Bridgewater, 
and on the eastward side of the town, and 
about two miles from the meeting-house and 
the mill, and some of us have had no way 
into the town but upon sufferance through 
men's lands. We think it is very hard that 
living in a wilderness we cannot have con- 
venient room for highways." 

A love for divine worship may have light- 
ened the steps of many of those who jour- 
neyed over the rough ways ; but the law 
compelled them to go even if that love did 
not exist, and this compulsion created a 
general habit of going to meeting. While 
some went to worship in sincerity, others 
went by force of custom, others to show 


their finery, to hear the news, to make a 
trade, to meet their friends, or to satisfy the 
conscience. Southey tells of a woman in 
humble life who, going home from the Sun- 
day service, was asked if she had understood 
the sermon. "Wud I hae the presump- 
tion ? '* was her reply. The quality of the 
sermon signified nothing to her if she had 
done her duty in. listening to it. 

And the minister, as he walked homeward 
with one of his hearers, said to him : '' Sun- 
day must be a blessed day of rest to you 
who are working hard all the week 7 " 

" Ay, sir ! " the man replied. " I works 
hard enough all the week, and then I comes 
to church o' Sundays and sets me down, 
and lays my legs up, and thinks o* nothin'.'* 
He was like Tennyson's "Northern Far- 
mer," who " hallus comed to 's choorch " to 
hear the parson, albeit — 

** I niver knaw'd what a mean*d, but I thowt a 'ad summut 

to saay» 
An' I thowt a said what a owt to 'a said, an' I comed 

So the Sunday religion of many people 
can be but little more than a habit of rest 
for body and mind. Many church-goers 


there are to-day who have neither the power 
nor the disposition to turn their thoughts to 
the subject of which the preacher is preach- 
ing ; they feel that they are doing their 
whole duty by giving their presence to the 
services of worship. Jane Taylor said : — 

** Though man a thinking being is defined. 
Few use the great prerogative of mind. 
How few think justly ; of the thinking few 
How many never think, who think they do.'* 


■OUNG men and young women living 
far from each other in the same town, 
working hard all day long during six 
days of the week, were naturally glad to see 
each other on Sunday In the meeting-house. 
But in the arrangement of sittings men were 
isolated from women. There were " men's 
seats" and "women's seats," separated by 
impassable barriers. " No woman maid nor 
gal shall sit in the mens south alley " was a 
law of Redding, and it was the determination 
on which similar laws were made in other 
towns. At Medford, there was built in the 
meeting-house a " foregallery " having in it 
three ranges of seats divided, by a barrier 
athwart them. On one side of this barrier 
men were placed, on the other side women ; 
and yet there was no authority that could 
prevent them from viewing each other 


askance. Two years later, the town voted 
every " woman maid and gal " out of these 
seats. The persecuted race rebelled, caused 
a special town meeting to be convened, and 
lobbied through an order restoring them to 
their places. 

•* They *ve beaux to conquer, belles to rival ; 
To make them serious were uncivil. 
For, like the preacher, they each Sunday 
Must do their whole week's work in one day.*' 

This unnatural separation of men from 
women, which may at first have been a pre- 
cautionary measure, became at last a perma- 
nent custom ; polished down by rules and 
regulations until it reached that point where 
it was assumed to be, as it was called, "a 
dignifying of the meeting-house." There 
had been a similar custom in Old England. 
It is on record that seats in the church at 
Hawstead were a cause of contentions as 
early as the year 1287; and the Synod of 
Exeter tried to abate them by declaring that 
all persons except noblemen and patrons 
when they come to church to say their 
prayers "might do it in what place they 
pleased." The author of the " History and 
Antiquities of Hawstead and Hardwick " 
says : — 


''From a decaying paper some years ago in 
the church chest it appeared that Richard Pead, 
Reg'rar'ras, directed an instrument to the Church 
Wardens charging and commanding them to 
place the inhabitants in such seats in the church 
as they should think proper, according to their 
estates, degrees, and callings. Returns were to 
be made of those that were refractory. Dated, 
December ist 1623.'* 

The white people of colonial New England 
were equal before the law, but unequal before 
the pulpit; there they were "classed and 
ranked," as described by Whittier in " Mary 
Garvin : *' — 

'< When the horn, on Sabbath mornhig» through the still 

and frosty air, 
From Spurwink, Pool, and Black Point, called to sermon 

and to prayer, 

'*To the goodly house of worship, where, in order due 

and fit, 
As by public vote directed, classed and ranked the people 


''Mistress first and goodwife after, clerkly squire before 

the clown, 
From the brave coat lace-embroidered, to the gray frock, 

shading down.'' 

There were no "noblemen and patrons" 


waiting to say their prayers in the colonial 
meeting-house, but there were men of titles 
who desired to get the best seats in it. 
"Rank in Our way is Looked upon as a 
Sacred Thing," said General John Winslow 
in his letter to the President of Harvard 
College, October 20, 1740. Therefore mil- 
itary dignity claimed a front seat. There 
was a good deal of it belonging to officers 
of militia, and to men who had been in the 
Indian wars, in the expeditions to Louisburg, 
Quebec, and Cuba, and who had returned 
with large stories and small titles. The 
majority of these were sergeants and en- 
signs. Even a drummer was somebody in the 
social scale. "Drummer Stetson" is men- 
tioned in the Scituate records of the year 
1725 as an important man. The town of 
Newbury voted (1700) that " the worshipful 
Colonel Daniel Pierce should have the first 
choice for a pew, and Major Thomas Noyes 
shall have the second choice." Gloucester 
voted (1742) "that Captain William Haskell 
should sit in the fore-seat;" and (1757) 
probably to make room for another captain, 
"that Mister Joseph Hibbard*s wife move 
out of the long fore-seat into the short fore- 


seat." At Wallingford (1716), one captain 
was designated ''to set in the deacon's 
seat/' another captain ''to set in the first 
pue/' and another "to set in the second 

The people made very low bows to an 
officer of the King, and gave to him a seat 
of extra dignity. At Norwalk (1686), it was 
voted : " Thomas Fitch for to be seated in 
the meeting-house in the upper great round 
seat, as he is the King's commissioner." 
His son was assigned to a seat "in the pue 
with the Justices/' and the selectmen de- 
sired that he would be so gracious as to 
"read the psalm and set the tune in the 
time of public worship/' (1723.) 

Rules for seating the congregation were 
not the same in all towns. In some, as at 
Bedford (1730), the rule was "to have respect 
to them that are fifty years old and up- 
wards." In others, as at Rehoboth (1718), 
it was " firstly to have regard to dignity of 
person, and secondly to age, and thirdly 
what charge they have been at in building 
the meeting house ; " or, " to have respect to 
age, office, and estate, negroes excepted." 
At Harvard (1766), those men who paid the 


largest taxes had the best seats. The rules 
were : " The two foremost Scats to be seated 
by age and pay ; the rest of the Seats to be 
seated by pay only, counting three years 
back." At Northampton, men were seated 
in the southwest end and women in the 
northeast end of the meeting-house. In the 
year 1737, this town forbade "men and their 
wives" to be placed side by side unless 
'*they incline to sit together;" from which 
I infer that there was not much connubial 
bliss in Northampton. Judge Sewall appears 
to have had difficulty in getting his wife 
permanently seated in the Old South meet- 
ing-house. He wrote in his diary, "Lords 
Day April i. Sat with my wife in her Pue. 
April 8, introduced her into my Pue and sat 
with her there. April 15, conducted my 
wife to the Fore Seat." 

A rule for seating, observed in many 
towns, was characteristic of the natural itch- 
ing of the colonists for rank ; placing people 
who had a pedigree and an office at the 
head, and useful people at the foot of the 
line: " ist, dignity of descent; 2d, place of 
public trust; 3d, pious disposition and be- 
haviour; 4th, estate; sth, peculiar service- 
ableness of any kind." 


Where age was ranked first, wealth was 
made an equivalent to it. An estate taxed 
at fifteen pounds, for example, would be 
declared equal to one additional year in the 
owner's age. Thus, a person thirty years 
old, and taxed for three hundred pounds, 
could add twenty years to age, in his rank, 
and claim a seat in the meeting-house with 
those who were fifty years old. But wealth 
frequently took the precedence of age. At 
Waterbury (17 19), it was voted "to seat by 
list of estate and by age." At Woburn 
(17 10), the front seats were given to the 
''wealthy and liberal/' and the rear seats to 
the " aged and poor." The latter complained 
to the selectmen that they were " much ag- 
grieved at the disorderly seating of many 
persons in the house of God, the aintient 
behind the backs of the youth." But the 
complaint received no attention. 

Men who were honored with a seat at a 
table enjoyed ease as well as dignity. The 
Framingham records of the year 1701 state 
that a pew was built " for those men's wives 
that sit at the table in the north corner of 
the meeting house." In the year 1715, this 
town declared "that, as for the dignity of 


the scats, the table and the fore-seat are 
accounted to be the two highest ; the front 
gallery is equal in dignity to the second and 
third seats in the body of the meeting house, 
and the side gallery is equal to the fourth 
and fifth seats." 

The town of Windsor in Connecticut used 
an idiom of the present day when, in the year 
1 71 7, it expressed its opinion on the subject 
in these words : " Those that have seats 
of their own are not to be seated nowhere 
else." People " hard o' hearin' " were of 
course destitute of dignity; but they were 
permitted to sit on the pulpit stairs, or near 
by, if there was a vacant place, "for the 
advantage and benefit of hearing the word 
preached" (Norwalk, 1702), or rather trying 
to hear it. Old people were also provided 
for; as at Rochester, in the year 1717, it 
was " Voted that three Short Seats be built 
nye the pulpit Stairs for Antiant parsons to 
sett in." 

All were required to occupy the seats 
assigned to them in the meeting-house, 
and they were forbidden, as in the parish 
churches of England, "to press into the 


seats of others." ^ To enforce these rules a 
supplement to the Fourth Commandment 
was adopted, by which it was declared that 
to sit in the wrong seat " is an act whereby 
the Sabbath is profaned." When dignities 
increased so fast that there were not seats 
enough for those who had equal rank, addi- 
tional seats were consecrated by a vote of 
the town, and, on the next Sunday, these 
new seats were solemnly announced from 
the pulpit. In ** dignifying the meeting- 
house," white people showed how strong 
were their antipathies to black people. 
Negro slaves were placed in the further- 
most corners of the galleries, and sometimes 
in pens on the walls above the galleries. 
In the Northampton meeting-house, pews 
were built for negroes near the gallery 
doors ; those for men were labeled B M, 

1 "That whosoever hereafter shallbe Removid by the 
Churche Wardens from theire Seates to anie other, And 
hee or thaie beinge so Removid will not tarrie and Abyde 
in the said Seat but Will or Doc come Jiacke again, shall 
paie for everie time so Doinge to the Churche Wardens 
Twelve Pence, And if it be a woman wch hathe a husband 
That shall so Offende, Then her husband to paie xij^ for 
her, And it be a widowe then shee to paie x\]d for her- 
selfe." — St, Marys, Readings Berks ; 1550 to 1662. 


those for women B W. Jacob Prince, a 
slave emancipated by the laws of Connecti- 
cut, was admitted as a member of the church 
at Goshen, in " ye yere of owr Lorde god " 
1 801. He was placed in a gallery pew whose 
front was boarded up so high that he could 
not see the congregation from his seat ; and, 
being offended because he was not treated 
as a "christian brother" in this dignifying 
of the meeting-house, he at last refused to 
go to meeting. For this disorder he was 
excommunicated. Phillis Wheatley, a negro 
slave who lives in colonial history, sat in the 
colonial meeting-house, and she dignified it 
more than some of her white neighbors. 
She was the author of a volume of " Poems 
on Various Subjects Religious and Moral," 
printed in London in the year 1773, on the 
title-page of which she is described as 
"Negro- Servant to M' John Wheatley of 
Boston in New England." She was brought 
from Africa in the year 1761, when about 
eight years old ; and she expressed her 
thoughts concerning the transfer in the fol- 
lowing lines : — 

" 'T was mercy brought me from my Pagan land, 
J Taught my benighted soul to understand 


That there 's a God, that there 's a Saviour too ; 
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew. 
Some view our fable race with scornful eye, 
'Their colour is a diabolic die.' 
Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain, 
May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train." 

It appears that no general efiFort was made 
to convert slaves, lest their conversion 
might entitle them to personal freedom. In 
the year 16961 ministers at Boston proposed 
to the General Court, " That ye wel-knowne 
Discouragem^ upon ye endeavours of masters 
to Christianize their slaves, may be removed 
by a Law which may take away all pretext 
to Release from just servitude, by receiv- 
ing of Baptisme." This proposal was not 

Indians also formed a part of the dignity 
of the meeting-house. They were cribbed 
with negroes, — and the odor of neither In- 
dians nor negroes was that of sanctity ; for 
in the Plymouth town records of the year 
171 5, it is written that ''the owners of the 
seat before the place where the Negroes 
and Indians sett at the meeting house Doe 
give 3 pounds Towards Erecting a plase for 
said Negroes and Indians to sett in Else- 
where." The Indians were captives of war 


who had been sold into slavery. At a 
Bridgewater town meeting of the year 1676, 
"a vote was called to see what should be 
done with the money that was made of the 
Indians that were sold last, and it was voted 
that the soldiers that took them should have 
it." Cotton Mather wrote in one of his 
diaries, '' I bought a Spanish Indian and 
bestowed him as a servant on my father." 
John Bacon, of Barnstable, directed in his 
will that his Indian slave Dinah be sold and 
proceeds " improved by my executors in buy- 
ing Bibles." There were also white slaves 
seated in the meeting-house. The "Con- 
necticut Gazette" of January 5, 1764, adver- 
tised: "Just imported from Dublin in the 
brig Darby a parcel of Irish servants, both 
men and women, to be sold cheap by Israel 
Boardman at Stamford." These transports, 
as they were called, were sold into service 
for a period of years. An advertisement in 
the Boston "News-Letter" of the year 1727 
says: "A Likely Servant Maid's Time of 
about Five Years, to be disposed of." 

By men who sat in the colonial meeting- 
house the first Fugitive Slave Law was 
formed. This law became a part of the arti- 


cles of confederation between all the New 
England colonies, and it ran thus : — 

" If any servante rune away from his mabter 
into another of these confederated jurisdictions, 
that in such case, upon ye certificate of one ma- 
gistrate in ye jurisdiction out of which ye said 
servante fledd, or upon other due proofe, the 
said servante shall be delivered either to his 
maister or any other yt pursues brings such cer- 
tificate or proofe." 

As the Puritan legislators of New Eng- 
land professed to regulate their civil affairs 
in accordance with the laws of the Mosaic 
period of history, their Fugitive Slave Law 
should have been taken from the twenty- 
third chapter of Deuteronomy : " Thou 
shalt not deliver unto his master the ser- 
vant which is escaped from his master unto 

The custom of "dignifying the meeting- 
house" was a source of envious feelings in 
social life. It created animosities between 
families, which descended from one genera- 
tion to another, and which were kept alive 
by the formula of prayer repeated from the 
pulpit every Sunday for " our superiors, in- 
feriors, and equals." It lingered after the 


colonial era had ended ; and the last that 
was seen of it was in the secluded parish of 
Norfolk, Connecticut, in the year eighteen 
hundred and seventy-five. 


HUBLIC sermons do very little edify 
children," was one of the wise say- 
ings of Martin Luther. The New 
England colonists did not think so, for they 
took their children to the meeting-bouse on 
Sunday, where they cast them out of the 
■ family circle and placed them under the 
surveillance of the town. This act appears 
to have been necessary because the boys, 
and sometimes the girls, were habitually a 
pest to the minister and a nuisance to the 
dignitaries of the parish. The popular dis- 
gust was expressed by a vote of Duxbury, 
in the year 1760, to choose a committee to 
take care of "the wretched boys on the 
Lords day." Certain laws enacted at the 
close of King Philip's war, to promote a 
better observance of the Sabbath in the 
Massachusetts colony, declared that the war 


had been caused by the behavior of those 
" wretched boys ; " that, to quote its words, 
the war was a punishment of the colony 
for the "disorder and rudeness of youth in 
many congregations in time of the worship 
of God, whereby sin and profaneness is 
greatly increased." But, in defense of the 
boys, it is to be noticed that " sin and pro- 
faneness" were always increasing in the 
jaundiced eyes of the legislators of those 
days ; and as a scapegoat for the increase 
was needed, there was none so easy to be 
taken as the boys. John Eliot, minister at 
Roxbury, expressed the opinion that boys 
had done nothing to provoke the war ; that 
wars and disturbances in the meeting-house 
were a judgment on the people for wearing 

Boys had been disturbers of the services 
of worship in the colonial meeting-house, 
and had been subject to police inspection, 
"tyme out of mynd." In the year 1666, 
John Dawes, who years before had been an 
officer "to oversee youth" in the North 
meeting-house of Boston, was empowered 
to take care of all persons "that ar dis- 
orderly in the time of God sollem worshipi 


to compel such as ar without doors to goe 
into the metting hous & such as ar dis- 
orderly within with a small wand to cor- 
rect them/' In the next century the town 
of. Harwich was ordering that the three 
hindmost benches in the meeting-house be 
reserved for boys under twelve years old, 
and three benches in the gallery for older 
boys ; and two men were appointed "to 
look after" these boys ''that they sit in 
their seats and be kept from playing." In 
the year I7i4» the deacons of Farmington 
were requested "to appoint persons who 
shall sit convenient to inspect the youth 
in the Meeting House on days of publick 
Worship and keep them in order." 

The men appointed "to look after the 
boys " were called Inspectors of Youths ; in 
some towns they were called Wardens. 
They were not tithingmen, who were col- 
ony officers ; ^ they were simply policemen 

^ In the report of a Committee of the General Court, 
read March 26, 1697, the duties of tythingmen were re- 
cited in detail : ** Yr Duty in presenting to the Justices 
the names of all such as Continue Tipling in Inns, & 
other publicque houses of entertainment especially on the 
Lords Day; and such as they find Drunke together with 
those that entertaine them ; all profane swears^ and Cursers 


of the mceting-house, and were paid by the 
town for their services. John Pike, of Ded- 
ham» was paid sixteen shillings, in the year 
1723, for "keeping the boys in subjection 
six months." When he was hired a second 
time, he doubled his price. Thomas Wells 
was hired by the vestry of Christ Church 
in Boston to "sett in the Galleries and 
keep the boys in order." In a Cape Cod 
town, John King was appointed to keep 
boys "from playing and prophaning the 
Sabbath day ; " and the town voted " to 
stand by the said John King " if he found 
it necessary to strike a boy in the exer- 
cise of his authority. This task was too 
much for the said John alone, and there- 
fore the town appointed four men "to take 
care of the boys on Lords day and whip 
them if found playing." At Truro, three 
men were appointed "to whip boys that 
are disorderly on Sabbath days at or about 

and the Number as nere as they Can of their oaths ; All 
such as are guilty of extortion ; All such as Keep houses 
where unlawful Games are used & such as sell Drinke 
without Lycence ; the names of such as live Idley without 
estates, Suspicious persons, Whores, night Walkers, mo- 
thers of Bastard Children; Such as Commit Common 


the meeting house." Not long after this 
action, it was ordered "that the town's pow- 
der be dried/' as if a bloody contest with 
the rising generation was expected. These 
are illustrations of a state of things existing 
in every parish of New England. 

As some men had the town's authority 
to flog other men's boys in the meeting- 
house, I may conclude that some parents 
allowed their children to run wild as ran 
their steers. Such a freedom was perhaps 
necessary in families of many childreUi 
numbering twelve, eighteen, or twe^^ty-four. 
When all these were boys, the emaciated, 
careworn mother was doubtless glad to 
send ofiF a lot of them to sea. As touch- 
ing this subject, I copy the following news 
item from the New Haven " Chronicle " of 
March 13, 1787: — 

" Portsmouth N. Hampshire. There are now 
living in this town, a lady and gentleman who 
have not been married more than twenty years, 
and yet have eighteen sons; ten of whom are 
at sea, and eight at home with their parents.'' 

Girls were wild also ; for in Harwich it 
was voted "that the same course be pur- 
sued with the girls" as with the boys. 


Did these men flog the girls ? The over- 
burdened mothers could not send them to 
sea. Nor did the fathers trouble themselves 
much about the matter, except by reso- 
lutions in town meeting ; for example, I 
read in the records of Farmington (1772) : 
"Whereas Indecencies are practised by the 
young people in time of Publick Worship 
by frequently passing and repassing by one 
another in the Galleries ; intermingling sexes 
to the great disturbance of many serious 
and well minded people — Resolved that 
each of us that are heads of Families will 
use our utmost endeavour to suppress the 

What did these colonial boys do to require 
so much police supervision ? Through a rift 
in the records of Charlestown I can see 
some of their doings. They did not stand up, 
as the elders did, during the long prayers ; 
they sat with their hats on " during ye whole 
exercise ; " they sought opportunities to " run 
out of ye meeting house " while the preacher 
was preaching, or before "prayer be done 
and ye Blessing pronounced." I can guess 
the rest ; they threw spitballs and nutshells 
to the bald heads below them ; they shook 


props on the gallery benches; while the 
minister was praying, they were humming: 

" Noah built the ark, 
Shem he laid the floor, 
Japhet drave the geese in, 
And Ham he shut the door. 
Hey trixi rim I Hi trixi rim I 
I don't believe Old Noah could swim I 
Oh 1 nony, nony, no I " 

A note-book of a Justice of the Peace in 
Connecticut, of the year 1750, specifies the 
behavior of a certain small meeting-house 
boy as follows : — 

** A Rude and Idel Behaver in the meting hows Such as 
Smiling and Larfing and Intiseing others to the Same Evil 

'* Such as whispering and Larfing in the meting house 
between meetings 

" Such as Larfing or Smiling and puling the heir of his 
nayber benoni Simkins in the time of publick Worship 

'* Such as playing with her Hand and fingers at her heir 

** Such as throwing Sister penticost perkins on the Ice it 
being Saboth day or Lords day between the meting hous 
and his plaes of Abode." 

The boys of colonial New England loom 
on us as the prototype of the "rough'* of 
to-day, and I may imagine that within them 
was concealed a protoplasm of the American 
Revolution. Irreverence was born in their 
English blood. I have read in the church- 


warden's accounts of the parish of St. Mary's, 
Reading, that, in the year i6cx), Robert Mar- 
shall was paid twelve pence '*to kepe the 
boyes & children out of the churche porche 
& churche yeard at service time," and that, 
in the year 1628, a seat was assigned "for 
John Gearey to loke to the boyes,** and that, 
in the year 1652, the wardens agreed to 
" allow yearly to som one whome they shall 
think fitt Twentie shillings for looking to 
the boyes and keeping peace in the church," 
and " for tendinge the Churche door to still 
the Children." 

In the colonial meeting-house Negroes and 
Indians made merriment for boys and girls. 
Look at Pomp Shorter in the Salem meeting- 
house when Benjamin Prescott was ordained, 
September 25, 171 3. He is disorderly 
during divine service. He is brought down 
from his crib above the gallery, and is 
placed in a pew between two deacons who 
are seated under the eaves of the pulpit, 
where they are catching the drips of its 
theological shower. This trio in black and 
white is facing to the congregation. The 
venerable deacons welcome Pomp to their 
pew with that austere visage of Puritanism 


which is calculated to chill the mirth of 
human nature; but it does not close his 
laughing eyes which are turned up to the 
galleries, where boys and girls are peering 
at him over the edges. The situation is 
ludicrous ; boys and girls begin to snicker ; 
Pomp smiles a return ; men and women 
looking on relax their meeting-house faces, 
and, for a moment, the air is infected with 
laughter. In that moment the men ap- 
pointed to keep order are hustling around 
to find out who did it ; and Pomp is set up 
in the broad alley to receive from the pulpit 
a severe condemnation for this ''breach of 
the Sabbath" on a week day. When, in 
the year 1733, Philemon Robbins was or- 
dained at Branford, Connecticut, whose popu- 
lation numbered i6(X) including 130 negro 
slaves, the town ordered that " no negro ser- 
vant shall be permitted to enter the meet- 
ing house." It wanted no Pomp Shorters 
present to make merriment for the boys. 



IHE principal disturbers of worship 
in the colonial meeting-house, be- 
sides boys, were dogs. 

" And in that (own a dog waa found. 
As man]' doga there be, 
Both mongrel, puppf, whelp, and bound. 
And curs of low degree." 

These dogs were regular attendants at 
the Sunday services. They went with the 
family ; and as there was a good deal of 
sympathy between them and the wretched 
boys mentioned in the last chapter, they 
also were placed under discipline. At New 
London (1662), one of the duties of the 
sexton was " to order youth in the meeting- 
house and beat out dogs." At Charlestown 
(1666), a man was hired at four pounds a 
year " to ring the bell to meetings and to 
keep out- dogs in meeting time." At Ded- 


ham (1674)1 a man was paid eight shillings a 
year '' for keeping dogs out in meeting time 
and shutting the door." Andover did not 
object to dogs, but made them pay for the 
privilege of coming to meeting. The law of 
this town (1672) said: "Whatsoever dogs 
shall be in the meeting-house on the Sab- 
bath day the owner thereof shall pay six- 
pence for every time." At Medford (1745), 
ten shillings was the price of a ticket to 
''any person who allows his dog to go into 
the meeting-house on the Sabbath day in the 
time of meeting." At Provincetown (1775), 
the law was to pay half a dollar or kill 
"every dog that comes into the meeting- 
house on the Sabbath day." At Abington 
(1793), those who took their dogs to meeting 
were ordered to pay " the same fine as for 
a breach of the Sabbath." 

The dog law of Redding (1662) was pecul- 
iar. It ran thus : " Every dog that comes 
to the meeting either of Lord's day or lec- 
ture day, except it be their dogs that pays 
for a dog-whipper, the owner of those dogs 
shall pay sixpence for every time they come 
to the meeting that doth not pay the dog- 
whipper." Twenty-six men wrote their 


names, or made their marks, in the Redding 
records, agreeing to "pay the dog-whipper" 
to whip other people's dogs out of meeting, 
while their dogs remained and were recog- 
nized as members of the congregation in 
regular standing. Of course, boys and girls 
laughed, even at risk of punishment by His 
Majesty's justice of the peace, to see the 
dog-whipper pursuing heterodox dogs when 
they were running up and down aisles and 
gallery stairs, yelping as his whiplash fell 
upon them, but determined like their mas- 
ters to stay in meeting until "ye exercise 
be ended." 

The dog-whipper entered the colonial 
meeting-house from old England ; where he 
was, like the constable, an important paro- 
chial officer, to whom in ancient times pieces 
of land were granted. In the parish records 
of Barton Turf in Norfolk, mention is made 
of the Dog - Whipjjer's Land. It is also 
stated that his duties consisted of "wiping 
ye dogges out of ye Churche." In the old 
church of Baslow is still preserved the whip 
of the dog-whipper of the parish. It is de- 
scribed as " a unique curiosity ; it has a 
stout lash some three feet in length fastened 


to a short ash stick with leather bound round 
the handle." ^ In the register of Youlgreave 
Church, Derbyshire, of the year 1609, is 
a charge of sixteen pence paid to Robert 
Walton "for whipping ye dogges forth ye 
Church in time of Divyne Service." I have 
seen an action about church dogs older than 
that. The parish church of Reading, in the 
year 1570, agreed to pay John Marshall four- 
teen shillings a year ; and '' in consideration 
thereof he shalle from tyme to tyme se the 
churche cleane kepte, the seates swepte and 
cleane made, the mattes beten, the dogges 
driven owte."^ That dogs were earnest 
churchgoers appears from the orders issued 
by Archbishop Laud, in the year 1636, 
which directed that the rail before the com- 
munion table shall be made ^* near one yard 
in height, so thick with pillars that dogs 
may not get in." 

Dogs were a necessary part of the New 
England town community, because the 
neighboring woods harbored wolves and 
other wild beasts that preyed upon the 

^ Pendleton, History of Derbyshire, 
* Church WardetCs Accounts of the Parish of St. Mary*s, 
Readings Berks; 1550 to 1662. 


flocks of sheep pasturing therein. Owners 
of large estates were required by town 
laws to keep "a sufficient mastive dog," 
and owners of smaller estates to keep 
"a hound or beagle" for "the better fray- 
ing away wolves from the town." Boun- 
ties were paid for wild animals destroyed 
by dogs. The ears of a wildcat (the puma) 
would draw five shillings from the town 
treasury of Rehoboth, if properly certified. 
John Pierce got his certification in this 
way : he " brought a wildcat's head before 
the town and his ears were cut off by the 
constable before two selectmen." At Roch- 
ester the whole animal must be brought 
"to one of the selectmen with both thire 
ears " (the wildcat's ears) " on to be cut 
off." This course prevented cheating in 
wildcats. One sixpence was the Dedham 
town bounty for "an inch and a halfe of 
the end of a rattlesnake's tail with the rat- 
tle." A hundred years ago, foxes' heads were 
worth at Wareham, " three shillings for old 
ones, and one shilling for young ones puppied 
this year." 

There were divers sorts of disturbances 
made in the colonial meeting-house. One at 


Providence is described in the newspapers 
of June, 1725: "Some evil-minded persons 
placed a Sturgeon of about Eight feet in 
length on the Pulpit floor, where it lay un- 
discovered until the Lord's Day following ; 
when it was so much Corrupted that it 
swarm'd with Vermine and caused such a 
Nausious and Infectious Stench that neither 
Minister nor People could by any Means 
Assemble in the Meeting House, which oc- 
casioned them to perform their Exercise in 
the Orchard." 

There was a disturbance of another sort in 
the meeting-house at Hopkinton, — "a Great 
Disturbance," it was called by Squgre Har- 
ris, His Majesty's justice of the peace in and 
for the county of Middlesex, who made a 
note of it in his court record, saying that 
Richard Gibbon came before him and " com- 
plained of Jason Walker and set forth that 
on Lord's Day the 15th of January, 1743, 
Being in the Public Meeting house in Hop- 
kinton in the forenoon there was a Great 
Disturbance which caused the Reverend 
M' Barritt to Cease Preaching for some 
time. And that the complainant, one of 
the Deputy Sheriffs of the County, was 


commanded by John Jones Esquire to carry 
the Disturbers out of the meeting house ; 
and that he Indeavored to obey the com- 
mand, but Being Resisted by one Nathaniel 
Smith, he ordered Jason Walker in his ma- 
jesty's name to assist him in carrying the 
said Nathaniel out of the meeting house, 
who absolutely Refused to give aid or as- 
sistance." Four other men — John Wood, 
Thomas Pierce, Eben Claflin, and Joseph 
House, Jr. — were convicted, at the same 
time, as promotors of this "Great Dis- 
turbance ;" the cause of which no one now 

In the early years of the Massachusetts 
colony, the people called Quakers were dis- 
turbers of worship in the meeting-house. 
Although they had a keen sense of the 
superstition and tyranny of the Puritan gov- 
ernment, they would have been a harmless 
and quiet people had they been left to them- 
selves. Whittier says of the Quaker of the 
olden time : — 

** He walked by faith and not by sight, 
By love and not by law ; 
The pressure of the wrong or right 
He rather felt than saw." 


By order of the General Court, these people 
were imprisoned, branded with hot iron, 
whipped with pitched ropes, and banished 
from the colony. In the meeting-house at 
Boston, one was provoked to break a glass 
bottle and shout to the minister, " Thua 
will the Lord break you in pieces I " Another, 
whose name was Lydia Wardwell, walked, in 
the garb of Eden, into the Newbury meet- 
ing-house to show to the people the spiritual 
nakedness of their rulerii. So severe was 
the feeling of the magistrates against Quak- 
ers that, in August, 1659, Thomas Macy, of 
Salisbury, who fled to Nantucket and there 
estabhshed a peaceful community, was called 
to account by the General Court for the 
simple act of showing the way to four trav- 
elers of that sect who stopped at his door on 
a rainy morning. He answered the court, 
saying : — 

" On a rainy morning there came lo my house 
Edward Wharton and three men more ; the said 
Wharton spoke to me, saying ihey were travel- 
ling eastward, and desired me to direct them in 
the way to Hampton, and asked me how far it 
was to Casco Bay. I never saw any of the men 
before except Wharton, neither did I ini. 


their names or what they were ; but by their 
carriage I thought they might be Quakers and 
told them so, and desired them to pass on their 
way, saying to them I might possibly give of- 
fence in entertaining them ; and as soon as the 
rain ceased (for it rained very hard) they went 
away, and I never saw them since. The time 
they stayed in the house was about three quar- 
ters of an hour, but I can safely affirm it was 
not an hour. They spoke not many words in 
the time neither was I at leisure to talk with 
them, for I came home wet to the skin imme- 
diately before they came to the house, and I 
found my wife sick in bed. If this does not 
satisfy the Honored Court I am subject to their 

In the following October, two of these 
weather-beaten travelers were hung on Bos- 
ton Common, and were buried there. At 
the same time, Mary Dyer, an elderly wo- 
man, stood under a gallows, a rope around 
her neck. On the entreaty of her family 
she was given forty-eight hours in which to 
depart out of Massachusetts, with the threat 
that after the period, if found therein, she 
would be hung. In an order of the General 
Court all these victims were described as 


" Quakers now in prison for theire rebellion, 
sedition, and presumptions obtruding them- 
selves upon us." 

At that time, the Common was a field of 
fifty or sixty acres, in which cows were pas- 
tured ; they drank from a miry spring where 
the Frog Pond now is, and on warm days 
they ruminated in the shade of an elm-tree 
near by. The forest that once covered the 
Common had been cut away for firewood. 
Wild bushes and thickets, with many grassy 
hills, slopes, and vales, adorned its land- 
scape. Its western edge was washed by the 
tides where Charles Street now runs, and 
eastward its acres extended to the site of 
the Tremont House. It was a "pleasant 
Common," said an old. chronicler, where. 
^' Gallants a little before sunset walk with 
their marmalet madams till the nine o'clock 
bell rings, then home to their respective 
habitations ; when presently the constables 
walk their rounds to see good orders kept 
and to take up loose people." On that Oc- 
tober day when Quakers were to be hung, 
the gallants and their madams, the constables 
and the loose people, were probably there 
to see the barbarous exhibition and to hear 


the beating of the drums that drowned the 
words of dying men ; for the hard heart of 
the General Court had ordered " Capt. James 
Oliver with one hundred souldiers taken 
proportionally out of each company in Bos- 
ton, armed with pike and musketteers, with 
powder and bullet, to lead them to the 
place of execution and there see them bang 
until they be dead." 

In June of the next year, Mary Dyer, hav- 
ing been found in Boston, was hung on the 
Common. There is still in existence a tear- 
stained letter written by her husband to 
Governor Endicott, pleading for " the life of 
my deare wife." It ends with these words : 

" Oh let mercies wings once more soar above 
justice ballance and then whilst I live shall I 
exalt your goodness. But otherwise twill be 
a languishing sorrowe, yea soe great that I 
should gladly suffer the blow att once muche 
rather. I shall forbear to trouble your Honors 
with words, — neither am I in a capacitye to ex- 
patiate myselfe at present. I only say this, your- 
selves have been and are or may be husbands to 
wife or wives, and so am I — yea to one most 
dearlye beloved. Oh do not deprive me of her, 
but I pray give her me out again and I shall bee 


soe much obliged forever that I shall endeavour 
continually to utter my thanks. Pitye me. I 
beg it with tears." 

Mary Dyer became one of the ghosts of 
Boston. Was it to her that Cotton Mather 
referred when, in November, 17 16, he wrote 
in his diary: "There has lately appeared 
in Town an apparition of a Dead person. It 
thing so well attested that there can be 
no room to doubt it." There is a tradition 
that, after long intervals, Mary Dyer has 
appeared on the Common, dressed in gray 
garments of the fashion of a former time, her 
paleface showing the tender expressions of a 
noble life ; and when spolcen to she has van- 
ished from sight. The story is, that in the 
twilight of an evening of October she ap- 
peared, and seated herself on a bench beside 
an old man, and said to him: "This is the 
fairest day of the year, and this Common is 
the fairest place in the world ; for here in 
October of the year of our Lord 1659, Mar- 
maduke Stevenson and William Kobinson 
o£Eered up their lives that the minds and 
consciences of men might be free in Massa- 
In March, another banished Quaker was 


caught in Boston and was hung on the Com- 
mon. Public opinion then declared itself 
against these barbarities, and the ruling 
mandarins of Massachusetts, having received 
words of disapproval from the King, were 
compelled to yield to it. 

And there were men and women who 
made disturbances by noisy sleeping in the 
meeting-house. It was customary at Boston 
for a man, who carried a staff with a solid 
ball on the end of it, to walk about the 
house and knock up the sleepers. The pro- 
cess of getting asleep has been described in 
the journal of a man who slept for a living : 
first you become dull to sounds, then you 
become drowsy, then you are yawning, then 
you arc nodding, then you are turning for a 
position, then you are asleep; and soon a 
snore summons the watchman, who arouses 
you by a tap on your head with the ball ; or, 
if you are a woman whose head is concealed 
under a bonnet, he wakes you by brushing 
your face with a fox's tail. 

A Sunday sleeper whose name has been 
preserved, and whose brave experience has 
amused many generations of his imitators, 
was Robert Scott of the Lynn congregation. 


One Sunday he was hammered out of his nap 
so forcibly by a. thud of the awakening ball 
that he Jumped up and knocked down his as- 
isailant. For this offense he was taken to 
court and condemned to be severely whipped 
for " common sleeping " at the public exer- 
cise and for striking him that waked him. 
This "common sleeping" was not done in 
Puritan meeting-houses only. The people 
called Friends, whose preachers preached not 
of Mount Sinai but of the dcceitfulncss of 
the human heairt, gave themselves up to the 
same enjoyment. The records of the South 
Kingstown Meeting in Rhode Island mention 
the appointment of overseers who were 
charged to suppress •* Sleeping and other 
indecencies " in their meeting-house.^ 

Congregations in Old England were also 
sleepy, and they required a "sluggard, 
waker," as the churchwardens of Castleton 
in Derbyshire designated the man to whom 
they paid ten shillings, in the year 1722, 
for arousing sleepers " by tapping them over 
the head with a wand." But Sir Roger de 
Coverley, who, as Addison tells us, was 

1 Thomas Hazard son of Rob^^ calVd College Tom : a 
Study of Life in NarraganseU in the XVIIIth CctUury. 


landlord to the whole congregation, allowed 
no sluggard-wakcr to be employed; "for if 
by chance he has been surprised into a 
short nap at sermon, upon recovering out of 
it he stands up and looks about him, and if 
he sees anybody else nodding, either wakes 
them himself, or sends his servant to them." 
It has been said that sleepiness in the 
meeting-house can be accounted for on sci- 
entific principles; that it is a condition of 
hypnotism, indicating a complete absorption 
of the sermon instead of inattention to it. 
Fixing your mind on the voice of the 
preacher produces the conditions necessary 
to domination by his mind; the drooping 
eyelids and nodding heads do not indicate 
the preacher's dullness, but are testimonials 
of his powerful influence over those who are 
fast asleep. Whatever may be the philoso- 
phy of it, the fact remains that on Sunday 
the human nature of colonial" New England 
seemed to close its eyes for a general drowse 
in the meeting-house. The sermon shuts off. 
the incessant labors of the week past and of 
the week to come, as a barrier reef shuts off 
from a sleepy lagoon — 

" The long wash of Australasian seas." 

^J- Tv'^VU^.- 

_w.^-^^ -^, yXj^ ^ 



IDEON Buckingham advertised in 
the " Connecticut Journal," February 
7, 1791 : "To be Sold. A Dwelling 
House Pleasantly situated in Milford within 
a few Rods of the Meeting House, in which 
has been kept a Tavern for a great Number 
of Years." 

As the colonial meeting-house stood in 
the centre of the town, a tavern was always 
its neighbor. This was a place of general 
resort ; to it town meetings were sometimes 
adjourned ; in it politicians, idlers, and train- 
band captains made their headquarters. 
Here selectmen held court attended by the 
town clerk, who wrote in the town book 
such sales and transfers as were brought in, 
together with marriages, deaths, estrays, and 
earmarks. The town clerk was not a pink 
of learning. As an illustration of his strug- 
gles with words of more than one syllable, I 


copy his record from the Rochester book: 
"Joseph Benson's disstiniguishin marke is a 
hole in ye nigh eare and a slit in ye top of 
ye Right eare in Aug ye i : 1699." 

Men, like sheep, are gregarious. They 
went to taverns to spend their evenings be- 
cause the village offered no other form of 
social amusement. This habit of tavern 
haunting, as it was called by those who con- 
demned it, became so general that a conven- 
tion of ministers at Boston, in May, 1694, 
declared it to be a sin ; they said : " Ye 
Liberty taken by Towne Dwellers to mis- 
pend their Time in Tavernes which are 
places properly & honestly designed but for 
ye Accommodation of Travellers — It is 
most earnestly pray'd That some effectuall 
check may be given unto this way of sinning." 
And yet the village parson was often to be 
seen there of an evening. 

The tavern door stands open ; let us peep 
in, after sundown, when the gossips have come 
and taken their accustomed places in the 
bar-room. Among them you may see such 
types of the English family as have been 
portrayed by Shakespeare, Fielding, and 
Bunyan. Here is Falstaff drinking sack- 


posset, telling stories, and falling into great 
laughter. Parson Adams comes in and dis- 
courses with Talkative the son of Saywell, 
who " will talk when on the alebench of re- 
ligious matters, and the more drink he hath 
in his crown the more of these things he 
hath in his mouth." Mr. Facingbothways 
is here, supporting both sides of an argu- 
ment ; and Mr. Fairspeech is here, and Mr. 
Anything agreeing with everybody while he 
fumbles in his pockets for a coin with which 
to pay his score. These men are samples 
of the men of the village. They all do the 
same things, think the same thoughts, speak 
the same drawl, tell the same stories, and 
spend much time in the tavern, year in 
and year out. And so each evening passes, 
until the low-ceiled room is filled with the in- 
cense of tobacco, the candles are burning to 
a splutter, and the meeting-house bell strikes 
nine o'clock. Then the landlord pulls down 
and locks the pickets which inclose the bar, 
and the loungers walk silently away to their 
homes. It was in the bond which he gave 
on receiving from the Court of Common 
Pleas a license to keep the tavern, that he 
would not " suffer any children or servant or 


other person to remain in his house tippling 
or drinking after nine o'clock in the night." 
The landlord's business belongs to the 
family. His father kept the tavern; and 
should his wife outlive him she will keep it, 
until, in turn, the son succeeds to the inher- 
itance. You may read in the churchyard the 
sculptured story : — 

** Beneath this stone, in hopes o^ Zion, 
There lies the landlord of the Lion. 
His wife keeps on the business still, 
Resigned unto the Heavenly wilL" . ' ,■ ' 

. 'The pound harboring stray cattle -wals d 
neighbor of the meeting-house. It was thirty 
feet square and six or seven feel high ^ the 
first public structure built in the town. 'Othe^ 
neighbors were the whipping -^6st,' th6 
stocks, the pillory, and the wooden horse } 
instruments of punishment tvhich ^wierd 
adapted to the various incidents ^of colonial 
life. Pavid Linnell and Hannah Shelly, of 
Barnstable, who confessed fornicatibn, were 
flogged at the post " by sentence of the ma- 
gistracy." Sometimes there was a merciful 
thought in such punishments ; as when Sarah 
Osgood, of Newbury, was sentenced "to 
be whipped twenty stripes for fornication 


within six weeks after she shall be brought 
to bed." Thieves were flogged and then 
sent to jail. No culprit was beaten with 
more than forty stripes, and it was forbidden 
by law that "any true gentleman be pun- 
ished with whipping unless his crime be 
very shameful and his course of life viscious 
and profligate." It is worthy of note that 
the position of the whipping-post and stocks 
was similar to that which they occupied in 
the time of the prophet Jeremiah : " Then 
Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put 
him in the stocks that were by the house of 
the Lord." 

Men of the trainband who were absent 
from the ranks on a training-day, and had 
not paid the fines in which they were con- 
demned by a justice of the peace, were fa- 
vored with a seat on the wooden horse in 
presence of a general muster. There was a 
fitness in using the wooden horse to punish 
a horse thief ; I find such a use reported in 
a New Haven newspaper of January i6, 
1787: — 

** Last Tuesday one James Brown, a transient 
Person was brought to the Bar of the County 
Court on a complaint for Horsestealing — being 


put to plead — plead guilty, and on Thursday re- 
ceived the sentence of the Court, that he should 
be confined to the Goal in this County 8 Weeks, 
be whipped the first Day 15 stripes on the naked 
Body, and set one Hour on the wooden Horse, 
and on the first Monday of each following 
Month be whipped ten stripes, and set one hour 
at each time on the wooden Horse." 

They swore terribly in colonial times. A 
law of Massachusetts of the year 1692 said 
that every person who shall "profanely 
sware or curse " is to pay a fine of five shil- 
lings or sit in the stocks two hours. The 
fine was also to be " twelve pence for every 
oath after the first." John Hull instructed 
his captains when they sailed from Boston 
that they must pray and not swear at sea, 
lest the Lord send foul blasts to wreck his 
ships. A law of the year 1746, "to more 
effectually prevent profane cursing and 
swearing," was ordered to be read in the 
meeting-house by ministers " on the Lord's 
day next succeeding the choice of town 
officers yearly." 

A prisoner in the stocks could take to 
himself the consolation of TertulHan, were 
he familiar with the writings of that ecclesi- 


astic, who said, " The leg feels nothing in the 
stocks when the mind is in heaven." But 
the colonial swearers and slanderers were 
not set therein because of heavenly qualifi- 
cations. The legs of Jane Boulton, of riy- 
mouth, were locked in the stocks because 
she bad uttered too many reviling speeches. 
Idlers standing outside the meeting-house at 
Eastham were set in the stocks because they 
would not attend the services of worship. 
The selectmen of Portsmouth, to protect 
prisoners in the stocks from being pelted 
with products of kitchen gardens, built their 
stocks within a cage, and set the pillory on 
top of it, and then they placed tiie machine 
at the west end of the meeting-house. The 
rulers of those times had no thought of the 
sacredness of the human body, which St. 
Paul declared to be " the temple of the Holy 
Ghost," when they nailed a man to the pil- 
lory by his ears and publicly flogged his 
naked body. Punishment by the pillory was 
considered to be infamous. In the year 
1697, William Vesey, of Braintree, was sen- 
tenced to the pillory for ploughing on a 
thanksgiving day, and for declaring that 
James the Second was King, instead of 


William, for whose escape from assassination 
the thanksgiving was appointed. Five years 
later he was elected a member of the Gen- 
eral Court ; but he was expelled because hd 
had suffered infamous punishment in the 

The heyday of all these barbarous in- 
struments was Thursday, known through- 
out New England as lecture day, when at- 
tendance to hear " the fifth day lecture " was 
as compulsory as was attendance to hear the 
sermons on Sunday. This service was in- 
troduced to the colonies by John Cotton, who 
brought it with him from Boston in Old 
England, where he had maintained his 
"ordinary lecture every Thursday*' in St 
Butolph's under direction of the Bishop of 
Lincoln. The day was first mentioned in 
New England history by Governor Winthrop, 
in connection with the opening of a market 
in Boston. He wrote, on the 4th of March, 
1634 : " By order of Court a mercate was 
erected at Boston to be kept upon Thursday 
the fifth day of the week, being lecture 
day." The reverence in whicjj this day was 
held may be seen in the records of John 
Cotton's church, wherein a rehearsal of the 


misdemeanors of a poor excommunicated 
soul included his " sometimes forsaking the 
Lecture." In the year 1679, there was made 
in Boston '' an order and advice of ye magis- 
trates yt all the elders of this towne might 
jointly carry on the sth day Lecture." It 
then became popular in all the towns of 
New England. It was held near the noon 
hour ; schools, if there were any, were dis- 
missed and labor was suspended, so that no 
one should be deprived of the privilege of 
attending the lecture. 

Samuel Sewall speaks of a lecture day in 
midwinter of the year 171 5 when a north- 
east snowstorm was raging in Boston and, 
in spite of the storm, there were two hun- 
dred men and sixteen women present at the 
lecture. He counted them because the at- 
tendance was small. At these meetings the 
names of those persons of the town who 
were intending to be married were called 
aloud. This gave a little zest to the occa- 
sion. Doubtless a greater zest was given by 
the fact that somebody was to be set up in 
the pillory, or locked in the stocks, or flogged 
at the whipping-post, or publicly corrected 
before the congregation. 


The Connecticut Records tell of a lecture- 
day sentence passed upon Nicholas Olm- 
steed : " He is to stand uppon the Pillory 
at Hartford the next lecture day dureing the 
time of the lecture. He is to be sett on a 
lytle before the begining & to stay thereon 
a litle after the' But Walter Gay, 
who had been courting the parson's maid, 
is allowed to hear the lecture, and then, for 
his labor of love, he is to stand up in the 
meeting-house and be scolded from the pul- 
pit, — " publiquely corrected for his misde- 
meanor in laboring to inveagle the affections 
of Mr Hoockers mayde." An impudent ser- 
vant is brought from prison every week, on 
lecture day, after the lecture is ended, to 
receive scoldings, until the scolder gets 
tired of the occupation. The story is this : 
"Susan Coles for her rebellious cariedge 
toward her mistris is to be sent to the howse 
of correction and be keept at to hard labour 
& course dyet to be brought forth the next 
lecture day to be publiquely corrected and so 
to be corrected weekley until Order be given 
to the contrary." With these little weekly 
comedies Thursday Lecture was made a pop- 
ular institution in colonial New England. 


The stocks, the whipping-post, and the pil- 
lory — all intended (quoting the historic Eng- 
lish) "to punyssche trasgressours Ageynste 
ye Kyngs Maiesties lawes " — came from 
Old England. They stood near every parish 
church, John Taylor, a rhymester known as 
the water poet, tells us that about the year 
1630 — 

" In London, and within a mile, I ween, 
There are jails and piisons fuil eiglitecn, 
And aixly wliipping-poals and stock:. uiiiJ cagca." 
It is on record that, in the year 1287, the 
Lord Mayor of London " did sharpe correc- 
tion make upon bakers for making bread of 
light weight;" as bakers make hread now 
without any sharp correction. He caused 
divers of them to be put in the pillory, as 
also one Agnes Dantie "for selling of min- 
gled butter," Agnes was, apparently, the 
first dealer in oleomargarine. A pillory in 
Cornhill was not unlike that which the 
selectmen of Portsmouth set up at the west 
end of the meeting-house, and claimed as 
their own invention. It is described as a 
timbered cage with stocks attached to it and 
a pillory on top of it ; three instruments of 
torture in one. Tbe use of this machine was 


offered to " bakers offending in the assize of 
bread ; " to " millers stealing of corn at the 
mill ; " to " balds, scolds, and other offend- 
ers." It is well known what the scold was ; 
her companion the bald was a poor fellow 
who had neither dignity, nor money, nor a 
soul above meanness. Some scolds and 
balds came to New England. The "other 
offenders " for whom a pillory stood waiting 
were sometimes of a high grade. For ex- 
ample : Dr. Bostwick, for a publication end- 
ing with the prayer — 

** From plague, and pestilence, and famine, 
From bishops, priests, and deacons. 
Good Lord, deliver us t " 

was deposed from the ministry, was branded 
and whipped, then his nostrils were slit and 
his ears cropped in the pillory at Westmin- 
ster. But his loving wife was there. A letter 
written at the time says: "He stood two 
hours in the pillory, his wife got on a stool 
and kissed him. His ears being cut off she 
called for them, put them in a clean hand- 
kerchief and carried them away with her." 
The grim founders of New England did as 
much for Baptists and Quakers, and others 
who spoke their minds about the magistrates. 


"It is ordered," by the General Court at 
Boston, June 14, 163 1, "that Philip Rat- 
liffe shall be whipped, Jiave his eares cut off, 
fined 40 pounds, and banished out of the 
limits of this jurisdiction, for uttering mali- 
cious and scandalous speeches against the 
Government." There was but one political 
party in those days. 


nS^HN the churches of Old England a 
KSD Poor Men's Box was set up, on 
'^*" which was engraved the appeal : 
"Remember the poor, and God will bless 
thee and thy store." It is written in the 
churchwarden's accounts of St. Mary's, Read- 
ing, of the year 1627: " Payde to lohn 
Gripp the Joiner for making the poore mans 
box and the bannesters to it 8 shillings." 
This box was not seen in the colonial meet- 
ing-house. People who sat on its hard 
benches heard but little of that sympathetic 
preaching which impels men and women 

" To 3Com th« sordid world." 

There was a Society, on whose behalf ser- 
mons were preached, " For Propagating Chris- 
tian Knowledge to carry the Gospel to the 


Aboriginal Natives on the Borders of New 
England ; " but there were no temperance 
societies; no missionary societies sending 
teachers of the gospel into foreign lands. 

Colonial preachers had an aptitude for 
riding hobby-horses. Mr. Davenport, at 
New Haven, preached that men must take 
off their hats and stand up at the announce- 
ment of the text. Mr. Williams, at Salem, 
preached that women must wear veils during 
the exercises of public worship. Mr. Cotton, 
at Boston, preached that women ought to be 
ashamed to wear veils in the meeting-house ; 
that married women had no pretense to wear 
them as virgins, and that neither married nor 
unmarried women would choose to wear 
them by the example of Tamar the harlot ; 
nor need they wear veils for such purpose 
as did Ruth in her widowhood. 

In the year 1684, Increase Mather preached 
at Boston that " Gynecandrical Dancing or 
that which is commonly called Mixt or Pro- 
miscuous Dancing of Men and Women, be 
they elder or younger persons together, can- 
not be tolerated in such a place as New Eng- 
land without great Sin." His argument was: 

'^Promiscuous Dancing is a breach of the 


seventh Commandment, as being an occasion 
and an incentive to that which is evil in the sight 
of God, There are Scriptures which seem ex- 
pressly and particularly to condemn the Dancing 
we plead against. It is spoken of as the great 
sin of the Daughters of Sion, that they did walk 
with stretched out necks, and with wanton eyes, 
walking and mincing as they go, and making a 
tinkling with their feet. — Isaiah 3. 16." 

"Who were the Inventors of Petulant Dan- 
cings ? Learned men have well observed that the 
Devil was the first inventor of the impleaded 
Dances, and the Gentiles who worshipped him 
the first Practitioners of this Art. They sat 
down to eat and drink, and rose up to play, or 
to dance." 

And so the preacher went on, drawing 
upon imagination for his facts, until he came 
to the plea that " Miriam danced and David 
danced," according to the Scriptures. To 
which his answer was, "Those Instances 
are not at all to the purpose ! " There must 
have been many hearers in the meeting- 
house whose common sense caused them to 
smile at such reasoning. Mixed dancing 
had become popular in Boston. Samuel 
Sewall, writing November 12, 1685, says: 


*' The ministers af this Town Come to the 
Court and complain against a Dancing Mas- 
ter who seeks to set up here and hath mixt 
Dances ; and his time of Meeting is Lecture 
Day. And 't is reported he should say that 
by one Play he could teach more Divinity 
than Mr. Willard or the Old Testament." 
Mr. Willard was the minister of the Old 
South Church. The Puritan prejudice 
against dancing was ineradicable. At New 
Haven, in the year 1784, when a dancing 
master had advertised to teach his art and 
had secured patrons, an attempt was made 
to expel him from the town. 

Mr. Mather preached also against wearing 
periwigs. A young woman of Rhode Island, 
named Hetty Shepard, when visiting at Bos- 
ton,- in the year 1676, wrote in her diary : 
** I could not help laughing at the periwig 
of Elder Jones which had gone awry. The 
periwig has been greatly censured as en- 
couraging worldly fashions not suitable to 
the wearing of a minister of the gospel, and 
it has been preached about by Mr. Mather 
and many think he is not severe enough in 
the matter, but rather doth find excuse for 
it on account of health." 


In the year 1722, Solomon Stoddard, min- 
ister at Northampton, said : " Hooped Petti- 
coats have something of Nakedness ; Mixt 
Dances are incentives to lust." In a sermon 
to men on the sin of wearing long hair, Mr. 
Stoddard reasoned as follows : — 

" It is utterly Unlawful to wear their Hair long. 
It is a great Burden and Cumber; it is Effimi- 
nancy, and a vast Expence. One Scripture that 
condemns it, i Cor. 11. 14. Doth not even 
nature itself teach you that if a man wear long 
hair it is a shame to him ? That which the light 
of Nature condemns is a Moral Evil, . . . More- 
over, in the next verse the apostle shows that 
Nature teaches Women to wear their Hair long. 
He saith, If a woman have long hair it is a glory 
to her, for her hair is given her for a covering, 
but not to Men. Another Scripture doth also 
condemn it, viz. Ezek. 44. 20. Neither shall they 
shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow 
long, they shall only poll their heads. Here are 
two extreams forbid ; shaving the head, and suf- 
fering their locks to grow long. This must either 
signify some spiritual thing, but no man knows 
what ; or some Gospel Institution ; and if so, why 
is it not enjoyned unto ministers in the New 
Testament ? Or else it is a Moral Law ; and so 
it must be. One part of it is surely moral ; They 


shall not shave their heads ; therefore the other 
part is Moral also; They shall not suiTer their 
locks to grow long." 

The style of women's apparel waa a favorite 
topic with colonial preachers. Addison says 
that women in "their thoughts are ever 
turned upon appearing amiable to the other 
sex; they talk, and move, and smile, with a 
design upon man ; every feature of their 
faces, every part of their dress, is filled with 
snares and allurements." In the light of 
this truth it is difficult to understand what 
was the matter at Abington, in the year 
177s, when the men of the town "Voted 
tbat it is an indecent way that the female 
sex do sit with their hats and bonnets on to 
worship God in his house." Perhaps they 
were feathered women whose headdresses 
were adorned with dead and stuffed birds; 
or perhaps their hats and bonnets were so 
lofty and large that men who sat behind 
them were shut off from a view of the pul- 
pit and the preacher. Whichever it may 
have been, the women of to-day who read 
this line of history will feel an inward cry 
of nature asserting their kinship with those 
women of Abington town. 


Fashions in other things, besides veils, 
hair, petticoats, hoops, hats, and bonnets, 
attracted theological attention. The pretty 
woman in Hogarth's picture of "The Sleep- 
ing Congregation " represents the trlith of 
the adage that the sense of being well- 
dressed gives to woman a feeling of satis- 
faction which religion is powerless to bestow. 
Her flowing robes and the low cut of her 
corsage reveal "snares and allurements" 
which were the captivating fashion of her 
time, both in Old England and in New Eng- 
land. She is seated near enough to the foot 
of the lofty pulpit to catch every word that 
falls from the lips of the droning preacher ; 
biit her hands are listless in her lap, her 
uncovered head is slightly tilted back, her 
eyes are closed, she is softly sleeping. Near 
by sits the sensuous and bewigged parish 
clerk ; one of whose eyes is winking under 
the pressure of sleep, and the other is strug- 
gling to keep its sight upon the slumbering 

They were women, even if they were Cal- 
vinists. They laughed at the fashions in 
dress of other days, as women laugh now, 
and adopted them whenever they came 


around again. They wore large hoops, 
peaked stomachers, and modesty pieces, if 
in style; and "laid their breasts bare in 
the meeting-house." Then came the ser- 
mons. Let us turn to one that was preached 
by George Weekes at Harwichtown during 
the fashions in dress of the Hogarth period. 
Of course this minister knew nothing of the 
theories of modern art: that there is a vast 
difference between the naked and the nude; 
that, although an uncultivated mind can 
appreciate the immodesty of nakedness, 
only an educated mind can understand the 
purity of the nude. He preached his own 
theory, and I will give his argument: — 

"First. The Sin of our first I'arents hath 
occasioned a necessity for our wearing of 
Cloths whilst we live in this world." 

"Secondly. As Clothing is now neces- 
sary, so there is a necessity that our Cloths 
should be made in some fashion. To make 
a Garment without any shape or fashion is 
not possible." 

" Thirdly, It is not necessary that people 
in all Ages nor that all persons in an Age; 
nor that one and the same person should at 
all times keep invariably to one and the same 



fashion. . . . There is no law which oWiges 
people in every Generation to keep to one 
and the same fashion : — where there is no 
law there is no transgression. (Romans, 5 : 

** Fourthly. We should take heed, that 
we become not guilty of breaking the sixth 
Command by following such fashions as 
have a tendency to destroy our Health. We 
should take heed, least we provoke God to 
anger against us by following such fashions 
as are contrary to the seventh Command- 

"And therefore it is, that I have been and 
am still of the mind, that Women by wear- 
ing their Hoops, and laying their Breasts 
bare, become guilty of breaking the seventh 

The preacher, continuing the sermon, 
turns his attention from the women to the 
men of the congregation. He attacks their 
wigs by propounding this question : ** If a 
Man cut off his hair to wear a Perriwig, 
merely because it is a common fashion, or 
because he dislikes the color of his own hair ; 
or if he cover his head with such a Perriwig 
as doth disfigure him, doth he not therein 


walk contrary to God's law ? (Deuteronomy, 
6 : S. Matthew, 22 : 37.) " 

" Firstly. Adam, so long as he continued 
in innocency, did wear his own Hair, and 
not a Perriwig. Indeed, I do not see how 
it was possible that Adam should dislike his 
own hair, and therefore cut it off, so that he 
might wear a Perriwig, and yet have con- 
tinued innocent/' 

" Secondly. When the Son of God ap- 
peared in flesh, he did not from a dislike of 
his own Hair, cut it. off to wear a Perriwig. 
The Lord Jesus always did those things that 
pleased his Father ; but if he had found fault 
with his own Hair, and had therefore cut it 
off to wear a Perriwig, he would have dis- 
honored his Father; therefore, 'tis evident 
that he did wear his own Hair and not a 

" Thirdly. The Children of God will not 
wear Perriwigs after the Resurrection. The 
Body of Christ did not consume, nor his 
Hair wast in the Grave : he doubtless now 
wears the Hair that is essential to his own 
head. And the bodies of Believers shall 
then doubtless be adorn'd with Hair essen- 
tial to their own heads." 


** Fofirthly. We have no warrant in the 
word of God, that I know of, for our wear- 
ing of Perriwigs except it be in extraor- 
dinary cases. . . . Elisha did not cover his 
head with a Perriwig, altho* it was bald." 

" To see the greater part of Men in some 
congregations wearing Perriwigs is a matter 
of deep lamentation. For either all these 
men had a necessity to cut off their Hair, 
or else not. If they had a necessity to cut 
ofif their Hair, then we have reason to take 
up a lamentation over the sin of our first 
Parents which hath occasion so many Per- 
sons in one Congregation, to be sickly, 
weakly, crazy Persons. Oh, Adam, what has 
thou done!" 

The name of the author of this sermon is 
preserved in " Weeke's Hollow ; " the place 
in Harwich where he perished during a win- 
ter's night of the year 1744. 

That was the comedy side of the pulpit ; 
there was also a tragedy side. Some preach- 
ers announced to their congregations that 
infants were lost ; that certain dead persons 
were in hell ; that, despite the experience of 
St. Paul, God could easier convert the seat 
on which they were sitting than convert a 

144 ^^^^ GLIMPSES, 

moral man ; that the unconverted have no 
right to sing Psalms ; that there are sinners 
for whom Christ did not die. Some evolved 
doctrinal teachings from very trivial subjects. 
If a man fell into a well, or was thrown 
from a horse, or was drowned in a river, the 
event brought forth a homily. Solomon 
Williams, of Lebanon, Connecticut, preached 
a sermon in September, 1741, "On the sud- 
den Death of John Woodward who was 
drowned in passing the Ferry at Haddam, 
and on the Deliverance of Sam Gray." A 
man about to be hung was ceremoniously 
brought into the meeting-house to hear the 
last sermon of his lifetime, in which he 
was probably told, " ' T is a thousand to 
one if ever thou be one of that small num- 
ber whom God hath picked out to escape 
the wrath to come ! " Such sermons were 
printed with a thrilling narrative of the 
bloody deeds of the criminals, and they were 
the only exciting reading which people could 
get. Benjamin Coleman, minister at Bos- 
ton, preached a sermon in July, 1726, "to 
the late Miserable Pirates on the Lord's Day 
before their Execution," which was printed 
with its piratical story before the week was 


ended. Then the body of the pirate captain 
was hanging in chains from a gibbet set on 
the ledge of Nix's Mate, at the entrance of 
Boston harbor; whither the story readers 
could go and look at it ; and where for years 
it swung in the easterly gales, a reminder of 
the fate of evil-doers on the sea. 

Thomas Hooker, one of the most noted 
of the early colonial ministers, was called 
"a Son of Thunder," and was eulogized by 
his contemporaries as 

" A pourcr forth of lively Oracles ; 
In saving souls, the sum of Miracles.'* 

In one of his stirring sermons he said to 
his congregation : " Suppose any soule here 
present were to behold the damned in hell, 
and if the Lord should give thee a little 
peepe-hole into hell that thou did'st'see the 
horror of those damned soules, and thy 
heart begins to shake in consideration 
thereof; then propound this to thy owne 
heart, what paines the damned in hell doe 
endure for sinne; and thy heart will shake 
and quake at it, the least sinne that ever 
thou didst- commit, though thou makest a 
light matter of it, is a greater evill then the 
paines of the damned in hell. Men shrink 


at this and loathe to goe down to hell and 
to be in endlesse torments. Oh get you into 
the arke, the Lord Jesus ; and when one is 
roaring and yelling — Oh the Devill, the 
Devill — another is ready to hang himselfe 
or to cut his own throat." 

It was true ; they were ready to hang 
themselves. Those " peepe-holes into hell" 
were opened to right of them and to left of 
them. The terrible doctrines continually 
trumpeted from the pulpit made hearers 
anxious about their future state. This anx- 
iety, with the cheerless solitude of rural 
life, caused them to become morbid on re- 
ligious subjects, and relief was sought by 
some in suicide. "She hung herself in the 
closet under the stairs ; " or, " He went out 
to the barn and hung himself in the hay- 
loft ;" were stories told in many towns. 

This condition of the public mind attracted 
attention in the legislature at Boston ; where 
a law was enacted, October 16, 1660, whose 
preamble contained these words : "Consider- 
ing how far Salan doth prevail upon persons 
within this Jurisdiction to make away with 
themselves." It was Satan, they said, not 
the sermonizings o£ the times, that induced 


the* suicides. " To bear testimony against 
such wicked and unnatural practices/' said 
the legislators, "that others maybe deterred 
therefrom ; Do order that if any person be 
wilfully guilty of their own Death, every such 
person shall be denied the privilege of being 
Buried in the Common Burying place of 
Christians, but shall be Buried in some Com- 
mon Highway and a Cart-load of Stones laid 
upon the grave as a Brand of Infamy, and as 
a warning to others to beware of the like 
Damnable practices." 

This history destroys the modern theory 
that " suicide is 2Xi evidence of culture ; " al- 
though the vainglorious Cotton Mather con- 
templated suicide, if we may believe his own 
confession written on the i6th of March, 
1703: "Should I tell in how many Forms 
the Devil has assaulted me it would strike 
my Friends with Horror. Sometimes Temp- 
tations to Impurities, and sometimes to Blas- 
phemy and Atheism, and the Abandonment 
of all Religion as a mere Delusion, and 
sometimes to Self Destruction itself." 

The law which I have quoted remained 
in force during one hundred and sixty-four 
years, or until February 21, 1824, when the 


Governor of Massachusetts signed its r=peal. 
And yet, on the isolated farms of New Eng- 
land, suicide continued to be the outcome of 
lives whose mental power had collapsed and 
whose hope had become extinct Suicide 
was the last stage in the deterioration of a 
family stock which, for generations, had been 
nurtured on the doctrines of John Calvin. 


1HERE was a church as soon as the 
parson came. It was the associ^ 
ation of a few devout men and 
women united by a covenant, without a doc- 
trine or a creed. " We covenant with the 
Lord and one with another and we do bind 
ourselves in the presence of God to walk 
together in all his ways according as he is 
pleased to reveal himself unto us in his 
blessed word of truth ; " so opened the first 
church covenant made in New England ; 
beautiful in its simplicity. 

In April, 1629, the Company of Massachu- 
setts Bay, at London, having despatched 
ships to New England, wrote to its planters 
saying : — 

" And for that the prpagating of the Gospele 
is the thing wee doe prfess aboue all to bee or 
ayme in settling this Flantacon, wee haue bin 


careful] to make plentyfull prvision of Godly 
Ministers, by whose faitlifull preachJnge godly 
Conversacon, and exemplary lyfe, wee trust, not 
only those of or owne Nation wilbe built vp in the 
Knowledge of God, but also the Indians may in 
God's appointed tyme bee reduced to tlie obedy- 
ence of the Gospele of Christ." 

The ships carried about three hundred 
colonists, with cows, goats, and horses, and 
also four ministers. One of the ministers 
was Francis Higginson, who had been edu- 
cated at Cambridge University, and was 
preaching at Leicester as a minister of the 
Established Church when he received an invi- 
tation to embark " unto a voyage into New 
England," with kind promises to support 
him.^ He set sail from London with feelings 
of sadness, for he loved "our deare native 
soyle of England ;" and when they came to 

' London, " 23d March, 162S. At Ihia meeting Inlinii- 
tion was given by Mr Nowell by lelters ffrom Mr Iiake 
lofanson, ihal one Mr lliggeson of Lester, an Able mitiis- 
ter ptSers lo goc to or plantacon ; who being approved 
for a. reverend grave minister, lilt (or or present occations, 
it was thought by llies present to entreat Mr Jno liunifrey 
10 ride presently to Lester, and If Mr lliggeaon may Con- 
veniently be liad to goe this present vioage tliat he should 
deale with him." — KiceTdsef thi Camfiiiiy i/f MasiacJHiitlli 



Land's End, he called his children to the 
stern of the ship and, with thoughts that did 
him honor, said : " Farewell, dear England ! 
We do not go to New England as separatists . 
from the Church of England, though we 
cannot but separate from the corruptions in 
it, but we go to practice the positive part of 
church reformation and propagate the Gos- 
pel in America." The Company, under an 
agreement with him to go to the colony, had 
paid to him forty pounds in money, and 
covenanted to pay to him yearly thirty 
pounds and give to him a house, firewood, 
the milk of two cows, and many acres of 
land. This was the beginning of that form 
of salary which, during two centuries, was 
the life-long reward of the poor parsons of 
New England. The Company also prom- 
ised to him *' a manservant to take care and 
look to his things and to catch him fish 
and foule and provide other things needful, 
and also two maidservants to look to his 

He kept a journal of his voyage across 
the Atlantic, which presents a pleasing pic- 
ture of the man who was so much of a phi- 
losopher that he wrote : " Those that love 


their owne chimney corner and dare not go 
farre beyond their own townes end shall 
never have the honour to see the wonderfull 
workes of Almighty God." During the first 
week at sea one of his children died; then 
the company kept " a solemn day of fasting 
and prayer unto God," and the sailors said 
they never heard of the like performed at 
sea before. He notes that the shipmaster 
"used every night to sett the 8 and 12 a 
clockc watches with singing a psnlniu and 
prayer that was not read out of a booke." 
He notes fair winds, and "boisterous winds 
blowing crosse," and "foggie and calniish " 
days, and "grampus fishes as bigg as an 
oxe," and great turtles and whales, and ■ 
"scools of mackrill," and "a mouiitayne of 
ice shining as white as snow," — until, on 
the 27th of June, the ship entered what is 
now Gloucester harbor on Cape Ann. There, 
the journalist says, "was an island wbilher 
four of our men with a boate went and 
brought back again ripe strawberries and 
gooseberries, and sweet single roses." 

By written bailots of the little church of 
the simple covenant (every man, as says a 
contemporary letter, "wrote in a note his 


name '*), Francis Higginson became the first 
regular parson chosen in New England. 
After a service of less than a year he died 
of a hectic fever ; leaving a repute like that 
of Chaucer's Poore Parson : — 

'' Christes love and his apostles twelve 
He taught, but first he followed it himselve." 

The popular judgment of New England 
about an educated parson was like that ex- ' 
pressed in John Selden's "Table Talk:" 
"Without school divinity a divine knows 
nothing logically, nor will he be able to 
satisfy a rational man out of the pulpit." 
Colonial ministers were college-bred. Many 
of them were settled for life in small isolated 
parishes, where they found no books, no 
learning, no intellectual sympathies, no 
points of contact with the world at large ; 
where they received "much, sometimes all 
of their scanty salary in kind, eking it out 
by the drudgery of a cross-grained farm." 

In such parishes the parson's salary was 
rarely paid when it was due, and the amount 
of it was sometimes unmercifully cut down 
by the whimsical votes of town meetings, 
because parishioners who hoarded their 
small savings were apt to think that the 


parson was drawing too much money out c^ 
the town treasury, or too much substance 
out of the farms. He was permitted to use 
the glebe or " ministry lands " under condi- 
tions. A town in Barnstable County stipu- 
lated that if the parson "will fence with 
cedar " the ministry meadow, his heirs 
"may have the fence after his decease." 
That bargain was made in the year of our 
Lord 1715. The same shrewdness existed 
at Wareham in the year 1806, when the 
town voted "To procure Rales amif to 
Fence the min ner stree Fresh meddo the 
Rev Noble Evrit to make the Fence & keep 
it in Repare." Nobody objected if he turned 
an honest penny by serving as the town's 
sweeper and fuller. It is less than a hun- 
dred years ago when the parson of Wareham . 
was ekeing out his means of living by sweep- 
ing the meeting-house for a compensation ol 
three dollars a year ; and, as was customary, 
he did "winge or rub down the principal 
seats" on the day after sweeping; then he 
eked it out a little further by running a 
fulling mill in which, with pestles and 
stampers that rose and fell in troughs con- 
tains fuller's earth, be extracted grease 


from cloths homespun by women of his 
congregation. The parson might be the 
physician of his parish. For forty-five years 
did Samuel Palmer, of Falmouth, preach to 
the souls and practice on the bodies of his 
people. His gravestone says : "His Virtues 
would a Monument supply.*' At Gosport, 
on the Isles of Shoals, John Tuck was physi- 
cian and parson for fifty years ; so was John 
Avery, at Truro, for forty-four years. In 
Herbert's old book, " The Country Parson," 
we are told that a parson may become quali- 
fied to treat the ills that flesh is heir to by 
" Seeing one anatomy, reading one book of 
physic, and having one herbal by him." 
This was the extent of an education in 
physic which the poor parsons of New Eng- 
land possessed. Their tool was a lancet ; 
their healing doses were herbs of the field 
and garden, carefully gathered and hung 
in the peak of the garret to be dried, 
which were believed to be more potent 
than the strong drugs of an apothecary. 
When they did not heal, it was the will of 
the Lord that they should not Perhaps 
the parson's doses, when given " without 
money and without price," opened the way 

for a willing reception of bis spiritual pre- 

The most noted of double-life parsons was 
Michael Wigglesworth who, for forty-nine 
years, was the physician of Maulden. He 
was noted because he was the author of 
that famous and dreadful Calvinian poem, — 


A Poetical DescriptLon of the 


With a Shorl: discourse About 


In the poet's description of the Day of 
Judgment he says: — 

" Then lo the bai all (hey diew near 
Who died in infancy ; 
And acvei had, or good or bad, 
Effected personally." 

These infants at the bar pleaded that they 
ought not to suffer for the guilt of Old 
Adam ; for, said they, — 

" Not we, but he, ate of the tree 
Whose fruit was interdicted." 

To this thejudge replied that none can suffer 
for what they never did; 


" But, what you call old Adam's fall, 

And only his trespass, 
You call amiss to call it his ; 

Both his and yours it was. 
He was designed of all mankind 

To be a public head, 
A common root whence all should shoot. 

And stood in all their stead." 

So the infants had no standing in court ; 
and mothers, the reverend poet tells us, are 
not allowed in Heaven to distress themselves 
with thoughts about the babes who are suf- 
fering in that place where 

"God's vengeance feeds the flame 
With piles of wood, and brimstone flood. 
That none can quench the same." 

Such was the sanguinary theology taught 
in the colonial meeting-house; whither the 
babe was carried by a midwife, on the first 
Sunday after birth, to be rescued by baptism 
from a terrible destiny. 

Near the stone wall which bounds the 
Bell Rock cemetery in the ancient town 
where Michael Wigglesworth preached and 
practiced physic stands his gravestone. 
Strange to say, his famous poem, which 
Cotton Mather said would become immortal, 
is not mentioned in the inscription : — 


Memento Mori : Fugit Hora. 
Here Lyes Buried ye Body of 
That Faithful Servant of 
Jesus Christ ye Reverend 
Mr. Michael Wigglesworth 
Pastour of ye Church of Christ 

at Maulden 49 years who 
Finished His Work and Entered 

Upon an Eternal Sabbath 
Of Rest on ye Lord's Day June 
ye 10, 1705, in ye 74 year of his age. 
Here lyes Interd in Silent Grave Below 
Maulden's Physician of Soul and Body two. 

There is an allusion to the poem in this 
epitaph written by Mather, for one of its 
many editions : — 

The Excellent 
Remembered by some Good Tokens. 
His pen did once Meat from the Eater fetch, 
And now he 's gone beyond the Rater's reach. 
His body once so Thin, was next to None ; 
From hence he 's to Unbodied Spirits flown. 
Once his rare skill did all Diseases heal ; 
And he does nothing now uneasy feel. 
He to his Paradise is joyful come ; 
And waits with joy to see his Day of Doom. 

It was commendable in a parson, and also 
in anybody, to have more than one profes- 
sion, The wardens of Christ Church, of 


Boston, when writing to London in the year 
1759 for an organist, said they wanted "to 
find a person that understands to play well 
on an Organ, a Tradesman or a Barber would 
be most agreeable." They intimated that 
an organist who could play the barber, or a 
barber who could play the organ, would 
have opportunities to shave the congrega- 
tion; to quote exactly from their letter, — 
"the Congregation improving him as they 
have occasion in his Occupation." 

No matter what was the sum of the par- 
son's annual salary, there was but little money 
in it. It was composed of various materi- 
als. A part might be payable " at Boston at 
some shope there ; " a part " in country pay 
at this towne;" in it were, perhaps, "two 
pounds of butter for every cow ; " a certain 
weight in meats ; "upland winter wheat clean 
from all trash ; " forty cords of firewood. 
Mr. Lowell says, in one of his published 
letters, that his great-grandfather, who was 
minister of Newbury, used to take the gro- 
cer's share of his salary in tobacco ; and there 
is a painting still extant representing a meet- 
ing of the neighboring clergy, each with his 
pipe. One day the parson at Easton brought 


home a bucket of potash and a little black 
pig which he had received, as his note-book 
says, on account of "payment for preach- 
ing the Gospel." John Eliot, who was 
known as the Apostle to the Indians, took 
for a similar account thirty-four pounds' 
weight of copper pennies and gave this 
receipt at Roxbury, April 8, 1673 : " Re- 
ceived of Colo Williams a Bag of coppers, 
weight 34 pounds, in part of my salary for 
the year currant, the same being by estima- 
tion ;£i-i3-4 lawful money and for which 
I am to be accountable." In the year 175 1, 
John Wales, of Raynham, took one third of 
his salary " in good merchantable iron at £^ 
per cwt." A part of the salary of Parson 
Cotton at Famet was " one ninth part of the 
drift fish" that came ashore. These drifts 
were dead or stranded whales, claimed by 
the town. His majesty's justice of the peace 
fined a townsman £1 for "lying about a 
whale " that was probably lying on the shore 
for the improvement of the parson. 

In the year 1747, Edward Pell became 
the parson of a Cape Cod town, with an 
annual salary of 135 bushels of corn, 15 
bushels of rye, 10 bushels of wheat, and 


36 cords of firewood. As he preached for 
bread without any butter, the poor wife 
was probably compelled to fire the oven 
every day to bake the salary ; but it did not 
sustain him for long, as he died in his parish 
during the year 1752. It was a teaching of 
the colonial pulpit that the body buried was 
the identical body to be raised at the gen- 
eral resurrection of the just. This poor 
grain-fed parson, when dying, thought of 
that day when the trumpet shall sound and, 
as the tradition is, he asked his friends to 
bury his body in the ancient graveyard, be- 
cause if it should be buried under the pines 
in the new yard, it '* might be overlooked 
in the resurrection." I feel a touch of pity 
for this childlike parson. But he might 
have bethought him of a passage in a ser- 
mon of Jonathan Edwards : ** There is no 
hope that God, by reason of the multiplicity 
of affairs, he hath in mind, will happen to 
overlook them and not take notice of them 
when they come to die, and so that their 
souls shall slip away privately and hide them* 
selves in some secret corner." 

The country parson was often struggling 
against poverty. When William Emerson 


turned away from his occupation as a school- 
master and became the parson of Harvard 
town, he said, " I am too poor to keep a 
horse." Married five years later, and try- 
ing to cultivate the ministry farm, he wrote : 
" We are poor, and cold, and have little meal, 
and little wood, and little meat ; but, thank 
God, courage enough." Three years later, 
the church society in Boston founded by 
John Cotton wanted him ; and the estima- 
tion in which he was held appears in the 
fact that it offered to pay to the town eight 
hundred dollars, to release him from his life- 
long contract The town refused this offer, 
but accepted one thousand dollars ; and then 
Rirson Emerson with his family moved to 
Boston, where he found more meal, more 
wood, and more meat than he had found in 
his country parish. He said : " The ills of 
poverty, however, are not so great as those 
of ecclesiastical dissension." 

As a studious man, the parson had but 
little time for enjoying the society of his fam- 
ily, if he followed the example of Thomas 
Prince, minister in the Old South meeting- 
house of Boston, who wrote the following 
order of his daily duties : — 


" — 1 7 19. Oct. 30. I marry. 

Nov. 10. We begin to keep House. 
My Proposed Order is 

At 5 Get up and go into my Study. Pray and 
read in the original Bible till 6, and then call up 
the Family. 

At 6 J Go to Family Prayers ; and only the 
Porringer of Chocolat for Breakfast till 7. 

At 7 go into my study till 12^, and then do 
something about House till i to Dinner ; except 
on Thursday, study till 10^, then Dress, and at 
II to Lecture. 

Dinner at i. 

At 2 Dress and go abroad till candle Light. 
Except Wednesday, after Dinner, do something 
about House; Saturday, after Dinner, visit at 
Dr Sewairs till 2\ and then Home to Study at 
candle Light and Study to 9^. 
. At 9 J go to Family Prayers and go to Bed. 

N. B. I eat no supper." 

As a preacher, the parson was not always 
remarkable in the estimation of his rural 
hearers, because many of them stood on a 
plane below his intellectual level. It has 
been so ever since those days. Even the 
celebrated Dean Stanley, of Westminster 
Abbey, when he preached his first sermon 
in a country village, was discussed by two old 


women on their way home after the service, 
and one of them said : — 

"Well, I do feel empty like." 

"And so do I," said the other; "that 
young man did n't give us much to feed on." 

The parson was very human. He had 
his bottle of rum in the study closet, and in 
the cellar he had many barrels of cider made 
from his own apples, as was the custom of 
the times. He believed in the sentiment of 
Goldsmith's song : — 

" Let schoolmasters puzzle their brains 

With grammar and nonsense and learnings 
Good liquor I stoutly maintain 
Gives genius a better discerning." 

He picked up gladly a marriage fee, and 
sometimes a gift of small value came to his 
door on New Year's Day. John Emerson, 
who was settled as parson of the frontier 
town of Conway in the year 1769, and said 
of himself that he was "John preaching in 
the wilderness," kept a diary in which he 
wrote : — 

"January ist — Had much company. In the 
evening married a couple. Fee $1.25. Had a 
cheese given me. Value about $1. Deacon 
Ware gave a present of beef. Value about 20 


January 4th — Attended to study. Bottle of 
rum, 50 cents. 

January 23d — Married 3 couples. Fee $6.25. 

February 4th — Paid a woman taylor for one 
day, 25 cents. Postage for letters, 17 cents. 

May 28th — Set out on horseback for a jour- 
ney to Boston. The country was in an alarming 
condition. Some means must be devised to sup- 
press infidelity. Was gone from home near two 
weeks. Expenses to and from Boston, $2.16. 

July 5th — Bottle of rum, 50 cents. 

August ist — Two quarts of rum, $1.50. Paid 
for killing hog, 17 cents. 

October 20th — Put in the cellar for Winter 
use, 38 barrels of cider." 

He sometimes fell into the sinful habits 
of his people ; as did Joseph Penniman, who 
was dismissed from his parish at Bedford 
because of drunkenness. He became a 
farmer in a neighboring town, and was one 
day summoned to pray for the sick inmates 
of a house near by. The tradition is that, 
standinj; at the top of the stairs, he prayed 
"the Lord to he very merciful unto Hczaliel 
who licth nigh unto death in the north 
chamber ; send thy ministering angels to 
comfort Bathsheba, groaning with anguish 
in the south chamber ; visit with thy heal- 


ing grace, Judith, thy sorely afflicted maiden 
down stairs." ^ 

The great day of the parson's life was the 
day of his ordination. It was a holiday for 
the town, when fifers and drummers came 
in from all parts of the county, escorted the 
procession of councilmcn, scholars, particu- 
lar gentlemen, villagers, and boys into the 
meeting-house and out of it, and played stir- 
ring music to idlers gathered around the 
whipping-post on the Common. An ordi- 
nation aroused the drowsy village to a new 
life, and the expenses of it were cheerfully 
paid in the tax-rates, although they amounted 
to more than the parson's salary for a year. 
When Edwin Jackson was ordained at Wo- 
burn, in the year 1729, the town paid for 

433 dinners ;^54 2 6 

178 suppers and breakfasts • . . 8 18 o 
Keeping 32 horses 4 days. ...300 

6 barrels and \ Cyder 4 1 1 o 

25 Gallons Wine 9100 

2 Gallons Brandy and 4 of Rum . i 16 o 
Loaf Sugar, lime juice and pipes . i 12 o 

A description of the usual events of an 
ordination is given in the following extract 

1 Nourse, History of the Town of Harvard, 


from a private letter ^ written by Rev. Law- 
rence Conant, a member of the ecclesias- 
tical council convened for an ordination at 
Salem, September 25, 171 3: "Your brother 
Thomas says ye place has grown very much 
since you lived here and that ye church has 
got 40 members, who came off from Mr. 
Noyes' church in Salemtown (13 men and 27 
women), and ye town has granted ye Pre- 
cinct 5 acres of land, and ye Promise of J[,^ 
a year for five years, for ye support of ye Gos- 
pel in ye Precinct. Ye Church have made 
choice of ye Reverend Benj. Prescott for 
their Pastor and have voted him £fio a year 
and IS cords of wood for his salary, when 
single, and J[,^^ when he shall be married. 
Mr. Prescott is the oldest son of Esquire 
Jonathan Prescott of Concord and is a 
promising man about 25 years old, and be- 
trothed to Elizabeth Higginson, a comely 
daughter of Mr. John Higginson. ... Ye 
services in ye meeting house began by read- 

1 For a copy of this letter I am indebted to Mrs. Jane 
Prescott Townsend, of New Haven, Conn., who is a lineal 
descendant of Benjamin Prescott, ordained at Salem, Mass., 
in September, 17 13. An extract from the same letter 
appears on page 48. 


ing a part of ye 1 19th Psalm by Reverend 
Cotton Mather. After which he read a por- 
tion from Thos. Allen's Invitation to Thirsty 
Sinners. Mr. Hubbard then offered prayer 
and a Psalm was sung to a most solemn 
tune, ye oldest deacon reading line by line 
in solemn voice so that ye whole congrega- 
tion could join. Mr. Bowers of Beverly next 
offered a prayer of Ordination and conse- 
cration with ye laying on of ye hands of 
ye elders. Mr. Appleton of Cambridge 
preached ye sermon from 2nd Cor. 2nd, i6th 
verse. * Who is sufficient for these things ? ' 
Mr. Shepard gave ye charge and the Rev'd 
Mr. Greene of ye village ye hand of fellow- 
ship and Mr. Gerrish of Wenham made ye 
concluding prayer. There was an immense 
concourse of people in ye house, so that 
every part was crowded and some were on 
ye beams over ye congregation. Ye Gov- 
ernor was in ye house and His Majesty's 
Commissioners of ye Customs, and they sat 
together on a high seat by ye pulpit stairs. 
Ye Governor appeared very devout and at- 
tentive. Although he favors Episcopacy and 
tolerates ye Quakers and ye Baptists, he 
is a strong opposer of ye Baptists. He was 


dressed in a Black velvet coat bordered 
with gold lace, and puff breeches and gold 
buckles at ye knees and white stockings. 
There was a disturbance in ye galleries 
when it was filled with divers negroes, Mulat- 
toes and Indians, and a negro called Pomp 
Shorter, belonging to Mr. Gardiner, was 
called forth and put in ye broad aisle where 
he was reproved with great awfulness and 
solemnity. He was then put in ye Deacon's 
seat, between two Deacons, in view of ye 
whole Congregation, but ye Sexton was 
ordered by Prescott to take him out because 
of his levity and strange contortions of 
countenance, giving great scandal to ye 
grave deacons, and put him in the lobby 
under ye stairs. Some children and a mu- 
latto woman were reprimanded for laughter 
at Pomp Shorter. 

"When ye services at ye house were 
ended, ye Council and other dignitaries 
were entertained at ye house of Mr. Epes 
on the hill near by, and we had a bountiful 
table with bear's meat and venison, the last 
was from a fine buck shot in the woods 
near by. Ye bear was killed in Lynn Woods 
near Redding. After ye blessing had been 


craved by Mr. Gerrish of Wenham, word 
came that ye Buck was shot on the Lord's 
Day by Pequot, an Indian, who came to 
Mr. Epes with a lye in his mouth, like 
Anannias of old. Ye Council thereupon 
refused to eat of ye venison. But it was 
afterwards agreed that Pequot should receive 
40 stripes save one for lying and profaning 
the Lord's Day, restore Mr. Epes the cost 
of the deer and counsiling that a just and 
righteous sentence on ye sinful Heathen, 
and as blessing had been craved on ye meat 
ye Council partook of it except Mr. Shepard 
whose conscience was tender on ye point of 


Notwithstanding some scruples in regard 
to the venison, it was a jolly ordination din- 
ner, and the thirsty parsons may have '' lost 
sight of decorum ; " as Parson Smith, of Fal- 
mouth, said concerning the company at the 
ordination of Samuel Foxcroft in a little 
town of Maine.^ 

1 "January 16, 176$, Mr. Foxcroft was ordained at New 
Gloucester. We had a pleasant journey home. Mr. 
Longfellow was alert and kept us all merry. A jolly 
ordmation. We lost sight of decorum." — Diary of Rev, 
ThonMS Smith, 


Dark days in the poor parson's life were 
apt to come when the jolly ordination had 
been forgotten, and the humdrum routines 
of the town had been resumed. Then his 
relations with parishioners sometimes be- 
came disagreeable through no fault of his ; 
and when he suffered from the meanness of 
those who ruled the parish, he could envy 
Bunyan^s weary pilgrim resting in that " large 
upper Chamber whose window looked to- 
wards the Sun rising " and whose name was 
Peace. These disagreeable relations usually 
arose from his salary business. At first it 
was his duty to collect the salary as it was 
offered in driblets by the people ; and so he 
went about the parish every week "to gather 
his own rates." The occupation gave to him 
an odious name, and the ungodly refused to 
pay what they called " the Priest's rate." 
Then the salary was put into the town taxes, 
and the town undertook the collection of it 
by a constable. Yet it did not always pay 
to the poor parson his dues, the temper of 
the times was so miserly. 

John Robinson was ordained at Duxbury 
in the year 1702. His annual salary was 
always far in arrear; and at last he was 


forced to bring a suit against the town to 
compel a payment. "Well! what do yon 
want now ? " said the spokesman of the 
parish to him; "If we haven't paid up, 
we gave you the improvement of the island 
and about thirty acres of upland besides. 
Is n't that enough without asking for your 
salary ? " 

"Ah! yes;" said Mr. Robinson, "you 
did give me the island, I 've mowed it and I 
don't want a better fence around ray corn- 
field than one windrow of the fodder it cuts. 
If you should mow that upland you speak 
of with a razor and rake it with a comb, 
you wouldn't get enough from it to winter 
a grasshopper." 

After preaching in this parish for thirty- 
six years, he was still pressing the town to 
paythe arrears of his salary, when a commit- 
tee was appointed to make up accounts 
with him "from the beginning of the world 
to the present day" — August 7, 1738. Two 
months later, the following paragraph was 
written in the town records : — 

"Voted that ther meting hous sliuld be shot 
up so that no parson shuld open the same so Ihal 
Mr. John Robrson of Duxborrough may not get 


into said meeting hous to preach an ay more with- 
out orders from the towne." 

David Parsons, settled at Leicester in the 
year 1721, had a violent and long-continued 
quarrel with the town ; and when he was 
dying, he directed that his body should be 
buried in his own meadow, which was far 
away from the churchyard. The grave in the 
meadow was neglected, its headstone was 
removed to make a pavement, and eventually 
it became the cover of an ashes pit, where 
its inscription declared to the passer-by 
that the parson "Was laid here October 12, 


In the year 1761, a young man named 
Joseph Sumner was ordained at Shrews- 
bury, on a salary of two hundred and forty 
dollars a ' year, and he preached in the 
Shrewsbury meeting-house for the unusual 
period of sixty-three years. In the latter 
part of these years, the amount of his salary 
was cut down one half. Some one asked 
him, "How do you manage to live and 
preach on such a small salary ? " He re- 
plied, in the simplicity of a poor parson, " I 
have learned that they who have much, have 
not enough ; but those who have little, have 

174 •S:/Z>j? GLIMPSES, 

no lack." He had the spirit of Archbishop 
Fdnelon, who wrote to a friend, the year 
before he died, ''I ask little from men; I 
try to render them much, and to expect no* 
thing in return." 

When, after forty-one years of service, old 
age came upon Parson Russell, of Branford, 
and he was so indisposed as not to come 
forth on the Sabbath, the town hired as a 
school-teacher "one who could be helpful 
in the ministry;" and it asked the invalid 
to state how much might be deducted from 
his salary — which was mainly provisions 
and firewood — for "supplying the pulpit;" 
or, in other words, for paying the school- 
teacher. In his reply he wrote : " I con- 
clude you will not think it unreasonable to 
find me fire wood while I live. As for my 
yearly salary, you may do just as God may 
incline your hearts. I leave it wholly with 
you, depending not on an arm of flesh but 
on the Living God for my daily bread, and 
I am not afraid but that He, who feeds the 
young ravens when they cry, will provide 
for my support." 

" No gift of comeliness had he, scant grace 
Of bearing, little pride of mien — 


He had the rugged old-time Roundhead face, 

Severe and yet serene. 
But through these keen and steadfast eyes of blue 
The soul shone, fearless, modest, strong, and true.*' 

Some eight miles back from Norwich 
Landing, on the Thames River in Connecti- 
cut, there was in colonial times a small ham- 
let known as West Farms. It is now the 
town of Franklin. There, in March, 1782, 
Samuel Nott was "ordained in the minis- 
try " for life, on an annual salary of three 
hundred and thirty-three dollars and thirty- 
three cents. In his sixtieth anniversary 
sermon, which is "most affectionately ad- 
dressed " to the children, grandchildren, and 
great-grandchildren of those who invited him 
"to settle with them in the Gospel Ministry," 
he reviewed the events of sixty years, and 
quaintly said, " I have not been kept from 
the house of God during that long period 
but eleven Sabbaths ; six of them by the 
lung fever in 181 2, and five by breaking a 
little piece of skin upon the back of my 
right hand." On the day of this anniversary 1 
sermon, the choir sang the same hymns, in j 
the same tunes of "Lenox" and "Stock- 
bridge," that were sung at his ordination 

176 SIDE glimpses: 

sixty years before. It was a pathetic scene. 
All the members of the ordination choir 
were dead; all but two old women, seated 
near the ancient pulpit, who, insensible to 
the music which they sang before the rose- 
color of life was blanched, were straining 
their dull ears to catch the words of the old 
parson's story. 

Then the years came and went, until his 
life in the parish had extended from the 
peaceful into the restless state of society, 
and he was so old that the church desired 
him to 'May down the ministry in this 
place ; " in other words, they asked him to 
go. He replied that he was settled for life ; 
and he continued to live and to preach every 
Sunday, until he was ninety-five years old, 
when the town induced him to enter into 
a compromise. His salary was reduced one 
half, and a colleague was hired at a salary of 
four hundred dollars a year, which was to be 
increased to five hundred dollars as soon as 
the old parson died. He died in the year 
1852, ninety-eight years of age; and then 
was closed the contract made with him in 
the year 1782. After his death the executor 
of his estate discovered that he had not 


received any of the half pay to which he 
had been entitled. It was demanded from 
the town, and refused. At last, seeing no 
chance for an amicable settlement, the ex- 
ecutor called to his aid the law. The town 
offered to settle the debt for one half its 
amount, and the offer was accepted. So 
the hereditary Puritan of New England is, 
like his composite ancestor, as "penurious 
as the last drips of a washerwoman's wring- 


1ERY different from the poor parsons 
were the notorious ministers. There 
was one in the colonial meeting- 
house whose name was Samuel Parris. He 
was in Harvard College awhile ; then he was 
in commercial business in the West Indies ; 
then, being forty years old, he drifted into 
the pulpit of the meeting-house of Salem 
Village. Here his nature developed itself 
in an artful quarrel with his congregation 
about a piece of land. On Sunday, the 27th 
day of March, 1692, he wrote in his church 
book : " The Devil hath been raised amongst 
us and his rage is Vehement and terrible, 
and when he shall be silenced the Lord only 
knows." Researches into the events of his 
time have disclosed the fact that the Vehe- 
ment Devil to whom he referred was none 
other than himself. He had taken hints 


from Cotton Mather, another notorious min- 
ister, whose writings had created in the pub- 
lic mind a passion for anything that appeared 
to be marvelous, supernatural, and diabolical. 
Mather was then thirty years old ; a man of 
talent, who exercised a large influence on the 
theology and politics of the times, and a 
minister with his father in the North meet- 
ing-house of Boston. With this enthusiast 
as an inspirer, Parris started a witchcraft 
conspiracy in the year 1692, which made 
the greatest blot on the pages of New Eng- 
land's history. 

His tools were three children, Elizabeth 
Parris, his daughter, nine years old ; Abigail 
Williams, his niece, eleven years old ; and 
Ann Putnam, twelve years old, a daughter of 
the parish clerk. These children had heard 
the marvelous witchcraft stories published 
by the Mathers, and they were seized with 
such a frantic interest in them that they held 
meetings to study and perform some of the 
witcheries described. They practiced gro- 
tesque postures, unnatural outcries, dumb- 
ness, convulsions and cramps of the body. 
When they had perfected themselves in 
these actions, they played them ofif for the 


first time, in the meeting-house, on the Sun- 
day when Parris wrote in his church book 
that a Vehement Devil hath been raised. 
Deodat^ Lawson, a believer in witchcraft, 
preached for Parris that day. After a psalm 
had been sung, Abigail Williams cried out, 
" Stand up now and name your text ! ** Ann 
Putnam shouted to him, " There 's a yellow 
bird on your hat ; it hangs on the pin of the 
pulpit ! " After he had begun his sermon, 
another called to him, " Now, there 's enough 
of that I " The people were alarmed, for 
in their belief it was the devil who spoke 
with the tongues of the " afflicted children,*' 
as they were called. The Mathers had por- 
trayed the devil as a black man, who carried 
a red book and a pen, soliciting subscribers 
to his service, whispering in your ear and 
standing behind to prompt your speech. 
Physicians who examined the children were 
perplexed, but finally declared that they were 
bewitched. Then the inquiry was, who are 
the Vitches that have bewitched them f 
The children refused to answer ; but finding 
it impossible to escape the earnest inquiry, 
except by confessing their own fraud (which 
they did confess in after years), they gave 


the names of three persons ; and thereafter 
these children, under the control of Parris, 
became the chief witch-finders for the Salem 
tragedy. This was the beginning of it. Its 
result was the imprisonment of more than 
a hundred and fifty men and women, and 
the murder of twenty who were "as inno- 
cent in their lives as they were heroic in 
their deaths." 

The extravagant superstition of Cotton 
Mather appears. in his description of the 
passing of the first victim, Bridget Bishop, 
to the gallows. He says, " She gave a look 
towards the great and spacious meeting-house 
and a Demon invisibly entering the house 
tore down a part of it.*' The truth proba- 
bly was, that a partition or floor had yielded 
to the pressure of the crowd of astonished 
spectators. This notorious minister was now 
in his element. During the summer of 1692, 
he with Parris and others caused to be re- 
produced in Salem Village, which is now the 
town of Danvers, all the horrors of the In- 
quisition of Torquemada. 

They had Puritan laws to support their 
acts. The original laws of the Massachu- 
setts colony said : " If any man or woman 


be a witch» that is hath, or consulted with, a 
familiar spirit, they shall be put to death." 
A law of the Plymouth colony, enacted in 
the year 1636, declared ''solemn compaction 
or conversing with the Divell by way of 
witchcraft, conjuration, or the like," to be 
"capitall offences lyable to death." To 
avoid trouble with Indian wizards, this law 
was revised in the year 1671, so as to touch 
English people only. It said : " If any 
Christian, so called, be a Witch, that is hath, 
or consulteth with, a familiar Spirit, he or 
she shall be put to death." These laws were 
in force during the year 1692 by authority 
of the province legislature; but they were 
not in touch with the new colonial life. 
Like a heap of dry bones, they belonged to 
the past. 

Witchcraft has existed in all times ; and 
it exists to-day in those who are known to 
us as conjurers, necromancers, legerdemain- 
ists, clairvoyants, fortune-tellers, and medi- 
ums of spiritualism. These all are con- 
suiters of " a familiar spirit." Their highest 
grade is seen in a hereditary caste of India 
which has made jugglery a fine art, and 
which caused the Emperor Jehangeer to be- 


lieve that he saw a Hindu throw a rope into 
the air, run up it, and disappear into space. 
Their lowest grade is seen in wrinkled hags, 
*' with viper's eyes and weamy wimy voices," 
who thrive on their repute as witches in 
rural towns of Old England and perhaps also 
of New England ; whose principal business 
is with love affairs. A rustic maid discovers 
that her lover is false ; she seeks advice from 
the village witch, and, acting upon it, she buys 
a sheep's heart, sticks it full of pins, and 
roasts it over a quick fire while three times 
calling her lover by name to return. Then 
she says the Lord's Prayer, goes backward 
upstairs to her chamber, and the charm which 
is to bring back her lover is completed. 
"That wer all owin to thickwitch," said a 
Somersetshire rustic, whose pig had suddenly 
died ; " an' as sure as thee sits in thick chair 
be it true theus witches have the power ter 
kill our animals an' ter make our loives miz- 
erubble. They do kip red books an' funny 
letters in 'em an' freames wi' nurruh picters 
in 'em, an' tooads 00 dozins ov 'em, and 
boss shus, an' all zoorts o' queer things ver 
charm in* a peepel." Persons called witches 
were hung in Scotland a hundred years be- 


fore the Salem tragedy, for causing iron pots, 
firlots, and sieves to skip about. The trick 
was done by strings fastened to these things 
and passed out of a window for a confeder- 
ate to pull ; as is explained in Reginald 
Scot's "Discovery of Witchcraft," printed 
in the year 1582. At that time, Andrew 
Duncan, minister of Crail in Scotland, was 
protesting against the cruel tortures prac- 
ticed by a neighboring proprietor upon an 
old woman who was called a witch ; saying 
that ''according to the ordinance of the 
Presbytrie, he had tane Geillis Gray, sus- 
pect of witchcraft, whom the Laird of La- 
thocker tuick from him, and carreit hir to 
his place of Lathocker and their torturit hir, 
whairby now scho is become impotent and 
may not labour for hir living as scho wes 
wont." ^ 

The witchcraft court was a special com- 
mission appointed by Sir William Phips, the 
fresh governor of the province, apparently 
on motion of his intimate friends Increase 
and Cotton Mather. He describes how it 
happened in a letter written to London : 
" When I first arrived I found this Prov- 

1 Beveridge, The Churchyard MemoriaU of Crail, 


ince miserably harassed with a most horri- 
ble witchcraft or possession of devils. . . . 
some scores of poor people were taken with 
preternatural torments, some scalded with 
brimstone, some had pins stuck in their flesh, 
others hurried into fire and water and some 
dragged out of their houses and carried over 
the tops of trees and hills for many miles 
together." Of course this ridiculous sketch 
of the condition of New England society was 
dictated for the governor by Cotton Mather. 
It was a repetition of his own stories. Con- 
sequently, the governor was prevailed upon, 
he says, " to give a Commission of Oyer and 
Terminer for discovering what Witchcraft 
might be at the bottom.** 

All the victims of this court were con- 
demned on spectral evidence. One of the 
*' afflicted children '* would testify that she 
saw and felt the spectre of the accused per- 
son ; that it tormented her and she struck 
at it. A corresponding bruise was found on 
the body of the accused, or a rent was found 
in its garments. As everybody wore the 
same clothing continuously until worn out, 
it was easy to find rents in anybody's gar- 
ments. Cotton Mather, writing to his friend 


John Richards, one of the judges, said that 
when he finds any bruises' or rents inflicted 
by the spectral hands of the accused : 
" Hold them for you have catched a Witch." 
The court was not a picturesque tribunal, 
composed of noted lawyers met to tender 
their advice on an important question of 
government. It was composed of nine 
men, not one of whom had received an edu- 
cation in law; two had been educated for 
the ministry, two were physicians, others 
were tradesmen and yeomen; and one of 
the appointees declined to have anything to 
do with the business. Five of them consti- 
tuted a quorum for trials; one of the five 
being always John Richards, a friend and 
parishioner of Cotton Mather. Their chief 
was Stoughton, deputy governor of the prov- 
ince, noted as an obstinate, malignant, and 
passionate man. They held their sessions 
at intervals in a dilapidated meeting-house, 
whose broken windows, covered here and 
there by boards, were typical of the dark- 
ened condition of their minds. They made 
no concealment of an intention to condemn 
all prisoners brought to the bar who re- 
fused to confess that they were witches. 


No counsel was allowed to the accused; 
execution followed quick upon judgment. 

When Rebecca Nourse, seventy years old 
and eminent for her piety, was tried as a 
witch by these men, she was so hard of 
hearing and so full of grief that she could 
not understand all that was said against her, 
and no pains were taken that she should hear. 
The " afflicted children " made hidden out- 
cries when the jury brought in a verdict of 
not guilty, and Stoughton sent them back to 
change their verdict. Then he condemned 
her to death. To prepare for this fate, she 
was taken from prison to the meeting-house 
on the communion Sunday before she was 
to be executed, and was there excommuni- 
cated from the church of Christ, so far as it 
could be done by a notorious minister whose 
name was Nicholas Noyes. 

One of the conspicuous victims was the 
Rev. George Burroughs, who had been for 
three years, from 1680 to 1683, the minister 
of Salem Village, and in the year 1689, a 
rival of Parris as a candidate for the same 
pulpit. He was now minister of the town 
of Wells, in Maine. He was a man of large 
stature and great strength, and it was known 


that he could easily lift a barrel of molasses 
or cider, and carry it ashore from a canoe. 
Cotton Mather said these were '' such feats 
of strength as could not be done without 
diabolical assistance." He was executed, and 
his body, when taken from the gallows, was 
thrown into a hole, without any pretense of 
a burial. 

Another conspicuous victim was Giles 
Corey, a respectable citizen, eighty years 
old. When he was brought, as a witch, be- 
fore the court, he pleaded not guilty ; but he 
would not put himself on trial by the jury 
because, as Calef says, " they having cleared 
none upon trial, and knowing there would 
be the same witnesses against him, rather 
chose to undergo what death they would put 
him to." He was stretched naked upon the 
ground, on his back, and iron was laid upon 
him, " as much as he could bear and more." 
Under this slow process of torture his tongue 
was pressed out of his mouth, and the sheriff 
with his cane forced it in when he was dying. 

It seems incredible that there was a popu- 
lation of respectable white men in New Eng- 
land who could look upon these atrocious 
travesties of justice without rising up and 


driving the Salem judges and ministers into 
the sea. The spirit of Christianity prohibits 
torture ; but Giles Corey was tortured in 
the name of it, and by magistrates whose 
hearts were so callous that they exulted in 
the sufferings of every victim. The prac- 
tice of such cruelties in an English commu- 
nity would be impossible now, because, 
since Puritanism died, a new moral sense 
has been born in man which teaches him 
that there is a sacredness in human life, and 
causes him to shrink from inflicting pain for 
pain's sake. It does not pajliate the cruelty 
of these men of 1692, to say that they are 
to be judged by the light which they had. 
They had light enough, both in reason and 
revelation, as some of them in after time 
confessed. They knew that a part of the 
community was opposed to their acts. 
Thomas Brattle wrote, at the time : " Al- 
though the chief judge and some of the 
other judges be very zealous for these pro- 
ceedings, yet this you may take for truth ; 
that there are several about the Bay, men 
for understanding, judgment and piety, infe- 
rior to few, if any, in New England, who 
do utterly condemn the said proceedings." 


These were compelled to keep silence, for 
the theocratic tyranny which ruled over the 
province made it unsafe for honest men to 
express their opinions in public. All were 
in fear of being accused of witchcraft, and 
many sought for safety by flight into New 
Hampshire and New York The promoters 
of the Salem tragedy were like the rulers 
who threw Christian men and woman to 
lions, in order " to make a Roman holiday ; " 
like those who burned at the stake the mar- 
tyrs of Smithfield ; like those who in France 
broke criminals, on the wheel a hundred 
y^ars ago ; like those on the Danube who, in 
recent years, have impaled their foes. Under 
the rule of its theocracy New England had 
become one of the dark places of the earth, 
" full of the habitations of cruelty." 

At last the court was suddenly stopped 
by the governor, who said that he "found 
many persons in a strange ferment of dis- 
satisfaction which was increased by some 
hot spirits that blew up the flame . . . that 
the Devil had taken upon him the name and 
shape of several persons who were doubtless 
innocent." In fact, the conspirators had 
begun to accuse as witches some of the Bos- 


ton ministers, but not Cotton Mather, al- 
though, as he himself complained, he was 
considered to be the " doer of all hard things 
that were done in the prosecution of the 

The first sign of a recovery from the hor- 
rible delusion was a proposition made in 
October, 1692, for a day of fasting* A 
" Committee of Religion " was chosen in the 
House of Representatives, and a declara- 
tion enumerating " Sundry Evils to be con- 
fessed " was drafted. This paper, which is 
still preserved in the archives of Massachu- 
setts, is in the handwriting of Cotton 
Mather, who was alert to put himself on the 
right side of the fence in case there should 
be a popular uprising. Among other things 
he said : — 

"Wicked Sorceries have been practiced 
in the land ; and, in the late inexplicable 
storms from the Invisible world thereby 
brought upon us, wee were left, by the Just 
Hand of Heaven unto those Errors whereby 
Great Hardships were brought upon Inno- 
cent persons, and (wee feare) Guilt incurr'd, 
which wee have all cause to bewayl, with 
much confusion of o' Face before the Lord." 


When he wrote that, was he thinking of 
George Burroughs, and Rebecca Nourse, and 
Giles Corey, and seventeen other victims as 
"innocent persons"? He had stigmatized 
them in print as " a fearful knot of proud, 
forward, ignorant, envious, and malicious 
creatures — a Witch gang I ** 

The governor and council rejected the 
declaration written by Cotton Mather, and the 
matter remained for some time in suspense. 
At last it was acknowledged that a Fast was 
necessary to appease the divine wrath, under 
which Massachusetts had suffered in many 
of its enterprises because, as was generally 
believed, of the errors committed in the 
witch trials ; and they accepted a declaration 
drawn by Samuel Sewall, who had been 
one of the judges at Salem. Whittier has 
sketched the figure of this noted man in a 
few lines : — 

" I hear the tap of the elder's cane. 
And his awful periwig I see, 
And the silver buckles of shoe and knee. 
Stately and slow, with thoughtful air, 
His black cap hiding his whitened hair, 
Walks the Judge of the Great Assize, 
Samuel Sewall.'' 


The proclamation was published in De- 
cember, 1696; reciting many reasons, it com- 
manded, " That Thursday the Fourteenth of 
January next be observed as a Day of Prayer 
with Fasting. . . . That so all God's peo- 
ple may offer up fervent Supplications unto 
him. . . . That he would show us what we 
know not, and help us wherein we have done 
amiss, to doe so no more, . . . especially 
that whatever Mistakes, on either hand, 
have been fallen into, either by the body of 
this People, or any Orders of Men, referring 
to the last Tragedie raised amongst us by 
Satan and his Instruments, through the aw- 
fuU Judgment of God ; He would humble 
us therefore, and pardon all the Errors of his 
Servants and People." 

That day revealed a ray of light in the 
general darkness. It marked a halo around 
Samuel Sewall. He rises in his pew in the 
Old South meeting-house and hands to the 
minister, as he passes by on his way to 
the pulpit, a written confession of his repent- 
ance for the part he had taken in the witch 
trials. He stands up during the reading of 
his confession to the congregation, and he 
silently bows his head when the reading is 


ended. It is said that, during the remainder 
of his life, he observed this fast day pri- 
vately on each annual return of it. 

"All Ihe dajr long, from dawn to dawn. 
His doot mta bolted, bis curtain drawn j 
No foot on his silent (hceshold trod, 
No eye looked on him. save thai of God, 
As he baftled the ghosts of the dead with charms 
Of pcnilenl teais, and prayers, and psalms, 
And, with precious proofs from the sacred word 
Of the boundless pity and love of the Lord, 
ilis faith confirtned and his trust renewed 
Thai the sin oi his ignorance, sorely rued, 
Might be washed away in the mingled flood 

w and Ciiiist's dear blood." 

The twelve jurymen of the witch court 
also repented and published a confession of 
their errors. They said: "We ourselves 
were not capable to understand, nor able to 
withstand, the mysterious delusions of the 
powers of darkness and prince of the air ; 
but were, for want of knowledge in our- 
selves and better information from others, 
prevailed with to take up with such evi- 
dence against the accused as, on further 
consideration and better information we 
justly fear was insufficient for the touching 
the lives of any. . . . We do declare we 



would none of us do such things again on 
such grounds for the whole world." 

Nicholas Noyes repented, and caused to 
be blotted from his church records the ex- 
communication of Rebecca Nourse, Samuel 
Parris repented not. After a long struggle he 
was driven out from Salem ; he drifted away 
into Connecticut, and there he disappeared 
from public view. The last mention of him 
that I have found appears in an advertise- 
ment, published in the Boston "Weekly 
News-Letter," the 24th of June, 1731 ; in- 
quiring for "Any Person or Persons who 
knew Mr. Samuel Parris, formerly of Barba- 
does, afterwards of Boston, in New England, 
Merchant, and after that Minister of Salem 
Village etc., deceased." 

As to the reverend Mr. Cotton Mather, he 
never made a confession, nor did he show 
any signs of repentance. On the contrary, 
he set himself to create a witchcraft excite- 
ment in Boston, for he needed an illustra- 
tion to justify his acts at Salem. He took 
in charge a young wench named Margaret 
Rule, who lived not far from his house in 
Hanover Street, and had been, as he said, 
" assaulted by eight cruel spectres ; " which 


J.' •■ 


"brought unto her a book about a cubU 
long, — a red book and thick, but not very 
broad, — and they demanded of her that she 
would set her hand to that book as a sign of 
her becoming a servant of the Devil." From 
the day of this assault, he said, " until the 
ninth day following she kept an entire fast, 
and yet she was to all appearances as fresh, 
as lively, as hearty, at the nine days' end 
as before they began. . . . Her torment- 
ors permitted her to swallow a mouthful of 
somewhat that might increase her miseries, 
whereof a spoonful of Rum was the most 

This wizard show was noised through the 
town, and many people came to see it. Let 
us go in for a moment. We ascend to her 
chamber, which is dimly lighted with can- 
dles, and find about thirty persons present. 
Increase Mather is sitting on a stool near 
the head of the bed. His son Cotton Mather 
sits on the bedside, and says to the woman 
in bed ; — 

" Margaret, do there a great many witches 
sit upon you.'" 

" Yes," she replies, and then she falls into 
a fit. He places his hand upon her face. 



brushes it with his glove ; then he rubs her 
stomach. She now revives. He asks her: — 

*' Don't you know there is a hard master ? " 


** Do you believe ? " 

She falls into a fit, and he rubs her breast, 
when she revives again. 

Increase Mather now inquires if she knows 
who the spectres are. She knows, but she 
will not tell. Then Cotton Mather says to 
her : " You have seen the black man, have 
you not ? " 

" No." 

"The brushing of you gives you ease, 
don't it ? " 

" Yes." She then turns herself and groans 
and Cotton Mather says : — 

" Now the witches scratch you, and bite 
you, and pinch you ; don't they ? " 

" Yes." 

Increase Mather prays for half an hour, 
chiefly against the power of the Devil, and 
witchcraft, and that God would bring out the 
afflictors. During the prayer Cotton Mather 
rubs Margaret and brushes her as before. 
After the Amen, he asks her : — 

"You did not hear when we were at 
prayer, did you?" 



" You don't always hear ? " 

" No." 

Turning about to an attendant, he asks: 
** What does she eat and drink ? " The an- 
swer is: — 

" She does not eat at all, but drinks Rum." 

This happened in September, 1693, and is 
a fact of recorded history. In the January 
following. Cotton Mather was handing about 
the town written certificates signed by eight 
men (it will be remembered that she was 
" assaulted by eight spectres " ), who declared 
that they had seen Margaret Rule, " in her 
afflictions from the invisible world, lifted up 
from her bed by an invisible force so as to 
touch the garret floor, while yet neither her 
feet nor any other part of her body rested 
either on the bed or any support ; and it was 
as much as several of us could do, with all our 
strength, to pull her down." 

Here, evidently, was a trick which has long 
been practiced by magicians in India. A 
recent writer mentions it as he saw it : ** A 
woman seeming to defy the laws of gravita- 
tion, sitting two feet from the ground, in 
open sunlight, with her wrist on the hilt of 


an ordinary sword. It is possible," he says, 
"that she was sitting in a loop of wire 
attached to the sword hilt." Mr. Andrew 
Lang speaks of having seen a similar trick. 
He says : ** The suspended woman was ex- 
amined by an English officer well known to 
me and by the surgeon of his regiment, who 
could find no wire. She had been mesmer- 
ized and was rigid. On the other hand," 
he says, ''a suspended man was exhibited 
before the governor of an East Indian 
Presidency whose aid-de-camp made a rush 
and found a wire." 

The curtain falls on the farce of Cotton 
Mather and the Tipsy Wench. His impos- 
ture is exposed ; many of the notorious 
ministers stand by him for a while ; but the 
community distrusts him ever afterward. 
In subsequent years the reality of his posi- 
tion had become so apparent to him that his 
record of it excites tender emotions in a 
reader of his diary. In this he wrote : — 

— " Some, on purpose to affront me, call their 
negroes by the name of Cotton Mather, that so 
they may with some shadow of truth assert 
crimes as committed by one of that name, which 
the hearers take to be Me." 


— "Where is the man whom the female sex 
have spit more of their venom at ? " 

— " Where is the man who has been so tor- 
mented with such monstrous relatives ? ** 

— " There is not a man in the world so reviled, 
so slandered, so cursed among sailors." 

— "The College for ever puts all possible 
marks of disesteem upon me." 

— "My company is as little sought for, and 
there is as little resort unto it as any minister 
that I am acquainted with." 

— "And many look on me as the greatest 

Public opinion was soon turned against all 
witchcrafts, and became willing to listen to 
the sad cries of the children of those who 
had suffered; their estates having been 
ruined and their families impoverished. On 
the 3d day of November, 1709, Cotton Ma- 
ther, always ready to catch a favoring tide, ap- 
peared with a sermon on the subject which 
he preached to the legislature ; speaking as 
if he had been innocent of all connection 
with the Salem tragedy, he said : — 

"In two or three too Memorable Days of 
Temptation that have been upon us, there have 


been Errors committed. You are always ready 
to Declare unto all the World, That you Disap- 
prove those Errors. You are willing to inform 
all Mankind with your declarations : That Per- 
sons are not to be judg'd with confederates with 
Evil Spirits meerly because the Evil Spirits do 
make Possessed People cry out upon them. 

" Could any thing be proposed further, by way 
of Reparation, Besides the General Day of Hu- 
miliation, which was appointed and observed 
thro' the Province, to bewayl the Errors of our 
Dark time, some years ago : You would be will- 
ing to hearken to it." 

They did hearken ; but no reparation was 
ever made to the heirs of those who had 
suffered death at Salem. At various times 
petitions on their behalf were sent to the 
General Court, and these were followed by 
petitions to reward the heirs of Cotton 
Mather. For example : on the 8th day of 
December, 1738, the House of Representa- 
, tives appointed a committee "to get the 
best Information they can in the circum- 
stances of the persons and families who 
suffered in the Calamity of the times in and 
about the year 1692.*' 

Four days after this, there was presented 


to the House a petition of Samuel Mather, 
son of Cotton Mather, 

" Setting forth the publick and eminent Ser- 
vices of bis venerable and honoured Grandfather 
and Father in the Cause and Interest of the 
Province in many Instances and on Divers Occa- 
sions, as particularly therein enumeraied, both in 
civil and religious respects, praying this Court 
would please to make him an allowance for the 
said Services," 

A petition on behalf of Cotton Mather's 
sisters was presented from the same source, 
December 2oth ; and still another from the 
son, on the 23d of June, 1739; praying for 

" On Account of Ihe public and extraordinary 
Services of his Ancestors, as entered the 12th 
and aoth of December last; and a Petition of 
Maria Filield, Elizabeth Byles, and others, Heirs 
of Dr. Increase Mather, praying (he Consider- 
ation of the Court on account of Iheir Father's 
publick Services." 

The record says that the question was put 
to the House, "Whether any Grant shall 
be made the Petitioners ? It passed in the 
Negative, and Ordered That the Petitions 
be dismissed." Nothing was done for the 


Mather heirs ; and as they stood in the way 
of a reparation due to others, nothing was 
done for the heirs of the witchcraft victims. 
Cotton Mather's diaries, which are pre- 
served as curiosities in antiquarian libraries, 
speak his own indictment against himself. 
They show, first of all, that he was a crafty 
politician ; that as a minister, he was in- 
fallible in his own eyes, cherished an im- 
mense value of his own importance, and 
claimed a personal influence with the Supreme 
Being. He boasted that his prayers were 
rewarded by visions of white-robed angels, 
from whose lips he received assurances of 
divine favor. You may see in his own hand- 
writing an account of his interview with an 
angel of God. It is written in the Latin 
tongue, and on the margin of the page he 
gives his reason for concealing the record in 
a dead language: "Ha^c scribo Latine, ne 
cara mca conjux has chart as aliquando in- 
spiciens intelligat ; " which, being translated, 
is, " I write this in Latin so that my dear 
wife, should she inspect these pages, may not 
understand them." He talked of ghosts that 
entered his study and carried away his manu- 
scripts ; for he believed that 


K"-Tbe apiriiu»l world 
Llet all about lu, and Hi avenues 
^_ Are open W ihc unseen feel of phantoms 

■^* That come and go," 

His third wife, and "unaccountable con- 
sort," as he called her, Lydia Lee, daugh- 
ter of a clergyman and widow of a Boston 
merchant, did not know what to make of 
him ; and some historians have suffered in 
the same perplexity. The last biographer • 
would palliate his witchcraft intoxications 
by a new theory, which is stated thus : — - 

"I am much disposed to think that necroman- 
cers, witches, mediums — what not — actually do 
perceive in the infinite realities about us things 
that are imperceptible to normal beings ; but 
that they perceive ihem only at a sacrifice of their 
higher faculties — mental and moral — not inaptly 
symbolized in the old tales of those who sell 
their souls. . . . Are we not to-day beginning to 
guess that there may be in heaven and earth more 
things than are yet dreamt of in your philos- 
ophy ? " 

The common sense of the English race 
can perceive no witcheries "in the infinite 
realities about us," nor is it inclined to make 
any philosophic guesses about the character 

1 Wendell, Cetttm JUMtr, 7%* JttrUmi Prkd, 


of Cotton Mather. He made a great deal of 
noise and did a great deal of harm, but there 
is nothing left of him now save a handful of 
dust in the tomb on Copp's Hill where he 
was buried in the year 1727. The loungers 
who dwell in neighboring streets, and who 
are sitting on the same benches every sum- 
mer day, within the inclosure of the hill, 
gossiping, sewing, or spelling out for their 
children the quaint inscriptions on the sur- 
rounding stones, point to his tomb as to a 
relic about which there is some mysterious 
notoriety. But those who are familiar with 
the events of his times cannot look upon it 
without being reminded of another scene. 
It is at Salem, on the 19th day August, 1692 ; 
he is mounted on a horse standing at the 
foot of the gallows on which hangs George 
Burroughs, who had been a minister of the 
gospel for twenty years ; he points to the 
lifeless body swinging in the air, and ha- 
rangues the spectators, telling them that this 
murdered clergyman was not an ordained 
minister, but a witch ; assuring them that 
" the Devil has often been transformed into 
an angel of light.*' 




10TT0N Mather had been under the 
sod thirteen years when Whitcfield 
appeared in Boston. The difference 
between the two preachers was as between 
night and morning. He was then a young 
man, just scant of twenty-six years, in whose 
favor were a homely countenance, a melo- 
dious voice, an eloquent tongue, a graceful 
manner, and the repute of a blameless life- 
He had graduated at Oxford, was a priest of 
the Church of England, and a missionary 
evangelist whose sermons were a call to im- 
mediate repentance. His method of setting 
forth religious truths was a novelty ; and 
therefore no preacher, apostle, or prophet 
was ever surrounded by audiences so enor- 
mous as those which congregated whenever 
he preached, whether on week-days or Sun- 
days. They overflowed from the meeting- 


house into the highway ; from the highway 
into the fields. His fame had preceded him. 
A letter dated at Boston, October 22, 1740, 
says : ** I perceive you were impatient to 
know what kind of an introduction he had 
among us. We (ministers, rulers and people) 
generally received him as an angel of God. 
When he preached his farewell sermon on 
our Common there were twenty-three thou- 
sand hearers at a moderate computation. . . . 
Such a power and presence of God with a 
preacher, and in religious assemblies, I never 
saw before. ... Mr. Whit efi eld has not a 
warmer friend anywhere than the first man 
among us. Our Governor has showed him 
the highest respect, carried him in his coach 
from place to place, and could not help fol- 
lowing him fifty miles out of town." 

John Wesley said of Whitefield's first visit 
to Boston : " While he was here and in the 
neighboring places he was extremely weak 
in body. Yet the multitudes of hearers were 
so great, and the effects wrought on them 
so astonishing, as the oldest men then alive 
in the town had never seen before." 

He came at a time appropriate to his work ; 
when a chilling system of religion preached 


in the colonial meeting-house had stunted 
the moral and intellectual growth of New 
England as east winds have stunted the 
pines of Cape Cod. A majority of the 
people had become so degenerate that they 
were exemplifying the "total depravity" of 
the human race. Conventions of ministers 
declared that there had been a " great and 
visible decay of piety" in the churches. A 
memorial to the General Court of Massa- 
chusetts, May 30, 1694, " liy Many Minis- 
ters of ye Gospel then meeting in Boston," 
described a condition of sin and iniquity 
existing in New England not unlike that 
which prevailed in Pompeii when Vesuvius 
overwhelmed it with ashes. 

All this was a reflection and echo of a 
similar condition of society existing in Old 
England ; where, from the beginning to the 
middle of the eighteenth century, drunken- 
ness, licentiousness, infidelity as to religion, 
were the characteristics of all classes. In 
the year 1710, Mary Wortley wrote that there 
were " more atheists among the fine ladies 
than among the lowest rakes." Montesquieu, 
who visited England in the year 1729, said 
that there was no religion at all ther^ " if 


anybody spoke of it, everybody laughed;" 
and in the year 1738, Bishop Seeker was say- 
ing : " In this we cannot be mistaken — that 
open and professed disregard of religion is 
become the distinguishing character of the 
age." When Sir Robert Walpole was prime 
minister, it was a well-relished jest in Lon- 
don that he was to introduce to Parlia- 
ment a bill to erase the word " not " from 
the Commandments and to insert it in the 
Creed. This jest represented the charac- 
ter of English society on both sides of the 

It was to such a people that Whitefield 
came to preach the gospel when no other 
preacher could awaken attention. He played 
on his audiences as if they were a musical 
instrument from which he could evoke many 
tones. The histrionic art was bom in him, 
but it was refined by a tender sincerity which 
convinced his hearers that he was speaking 
to them words of truth. They eagerly 
listened, and 

"The scoffing tongue was prayerful, 
And the blinded eyes found sight, 
And hearts, as flint aforetime, 
Grew soft in his warmth and light." 


The wonderful effects of his preaching 
were due, not only to the state of the times, 
but to his personal qualifications for the 
work, and to a voice and manner that capti- 
vated the attention of all hearers. His voice, 
as Frankhn said, produced the pleasure 
given by beautiful music, and so perfect was 
its articulation that it could be heard easily 
by a congregation of thirty thousand people. 
Sometimes he wept while speaking ; some- 
times he paused exhausted by emotion. In 
one of his sermons he addresses an attend- 
ant angel, whom he has portrayed as about 
to ascend from the congregation to carry a 
report to the Eternal Throne. He stamps 
with his foot, lifts his hands and eyes to 
Heaven, and exclaims, "Stop, Gabriel 1 Stop, 
Gabriel ! Stop, ere you enter the sacred por- 
tals, and carry with you the news of one sin- 
ner converted to God t " This apostrophe to 
an imaginary messenger, which in emotion- 
less print may appear to be ludicrous, was 
accompanied with such natural and eloquent 
action that the bistonan Hume said it sur- 
passed anything he had ever heard from the 
pulpit In the course of another sermoa he 
e]a:laims, "Look yonder t What is that I 


see ? " Then he describes, in all its details, 
the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, and 
he makes its sad scenes so plainly visible that 
the eyes of the congregation are wet with 
sympathetic tears. Southey said of him: 
"Sometimes at the close of a sermon he 
would personate a judge about to perform 
the last awful part of his office. With eyes 
full of tears, and an emotion that made his 
speech falter, after a pause which kept the 
whole audience in breathless expectation of 
what was to come, he would proceed : ' I am 
now going to put on my condemning cap ! 
Sinner! I must do it; I must pronounce 
sentence upon you ! ' And then in a tremen- 
dous strain of eloquence describing the eter- 
nal punishment of the wicked, he recited the 
words of Christ : ' Depart from me, ye 
cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the 
Devil and his angels.' " 

His sermons were spoken without refer- 
ence to any manuscript ; and the reader of 
the printed copies finds nothing in them 
of that power of eloquence by which he 
swayed the repentant multitude. But let us 
listen to his sincere words. He is preaching 
from the text, "The Lord shall be thine ever- 


lasting light." The Brattle Street meeting- 
house in Boston is thronged with listeners. 
They fill the seats, the aisles, the doorways, 
and the windows. He is half through the 
sermon as we push ourselves in ; and we 
can see that no sluggard-waker is needed to 
keep the audience awake, nor any inspectors 
of youth to keep wretched boys in order : — 
. . • "Jesus Christ the Sun of Righteous- 
ness shall be what the sun is to the visible 
world ; that is, the light and life of his peo- 
ple. I say all the people of God. You see 
now the sun shines on us all. I never 
heard that the sun said, 'Lord, I will not 
shine on the Presbyterians, I will not shine 
on the Independents, I will not shine on the 
people called Methodists, those great enthu- 
siasts.' The sun never said, ' I will not 
shine on the Papists;' the sun shines on 
all ; which shows that Jesus Christ's love is 
open to all that are made willing by the 
Holy Ghost to accept of him. And, there- 
fore, it is said : ' The sun of Righteousness 
shall arise with healing in his wings.' If 
you were all up this morning before the sun 
arose at 5 o'clock, how beautiful was his 
first appearance I How pleasant to behold 


the flowers opening to the rising sun I I ap- 
peal to you, yourselves, when you were look- 
ing out of the window, or walking about, or 
opening your shop, if in a spiritual frame, 
whether you did not say : * Arise, thou sun of 
Righteousness, with healing under thy wings, 
on me ! ' All that the natural sun is to the 
world, Jesus Christ is, and more, to his peo- 
ple. Without the sun we should have no 
corn, or fruit of any kind. What a dark 
place the world would be without the siin ; 
and how dark the world would be without 
Jesus Christ ! And as the sun does really 
communicate its rays to the earth, the 
plants, and all the lower creation, so the 
Son of God does really communicate his life 
and power to every new created soul. . . . 
How many thousand things are there that 
make you mourn here below ! Who can tell 
the tears that godly parents shed for ungodly 
children ! O, you young folks, you do not 
know what plagues your children may be to 
you I O, they arc pretty things while young, 
like rattlesnakes and alligators which I have 
seen when little and beautiful ; but put them 
in your bosom, and you will find that they 
are dangerous. How many there are in the 

814 ^'^^ GLIMPSES. 

world that would wish, if it were lawful, that 
God had written them childless ! There is 
many a poor creature that makes his father's 
heart ache. I once asked a godly widow, 
' Madam, how is your son ? ' She turned 
aside with tears, and said, ' Sir, he is no son 
to me now.' What, in the world, can come 
up to that ! . . . When I was in Hristol, I 
could not help remembering good Mr. Mid- 
dleton who used to have the gout very much, 
and in that closet were kept his crutches. 
Now, thought I, he needs them no more; 
the days of his mourning are ended. And 
so shall ours be, by and by, too ; when we 
shall no longer want our spiritual crutches 
or armor, but shall say to the helmet of hope, 
the shield of faith, I have no more need of 
thee. Then the all prevailing weapon of 
prayer shall be changed into songs of praise; 
when God himself shall be our everlasting 
light ; a sun that shall never go down more, 
but shall beam forth his infinite and eternal 
love in a. beatific state forever." 

It is related that a man who stood listen- 
ing to Wbitefield, at Exeter, held a stone in 
his hand which he intended to throw at the 
IH«acher.' As he listened the stone dropped 


from his hand; and after the sermon he went 
up and said : " Mr. Whitefield, I came here 
to break your head, but God has broken my 
heart," A ship-builder, who was asked what 
he thought of him, replied : " When I go to 
my parish church I can build a ship from 
stem to stern, under the Parson's sermon ; 
but when I hear Mr. Whitefield preach I 
can't lay a single plank, were it to save my 
soul.*' Benjamin Franklin, who heard White- 
field preach at Philadelphia, said : " I per- 
ceived he intended to finish with a collec- 
tion, and I silently resolved he should get 
nothing from me. I had in my pocket a 
handful of copper money, three or four sil- 
ver dollars, and five pistoles in gold. As 
he proceeded I began to soften and concluded 
to give the copper ; another stroke of his 
oratory made me ashamed of that, and I de- 
termined to give the silver ; and he finished 
so admirably that I emptied my pocket into 
the collector's dish, gold and all." 

The results produced by Whitefield's preach- 
ing in New England have been diversely 
interpreted. A letter dated at Boston, in 
December, 1740, says: "His visit here will 
be esteemed a distinguished mercy of heaven 


by many. A small set of gentlemen amongst 
US| when they saw the affections of the peo- 
ple so moved under his preaching, would 
attribute it only to his force of voice and ges- 
ture. But the impressions on many are so 
lasting and have been so transforming as to 
carry plain signatures of a divine hand going 
along with them." A letter from a country 
minister, printed in March, 1744, says that 
in consequence of Whitefield's preaching, 
''the Bible hath appeared to some to be a 
new book and the Catechism of the Assem- 
bly of Divines to be a new and most excellent 
Composure, though before they saw no great 
Excellency to be in the one or the other." 
A convention of hard-shell ministers, at Bos- 
ton, spoke of the result as " The late Errors 
in Doctrine and Disorders in Practice," and 
they printed a pamphlet condemning it ; while 
another convention of ministers spoke of it 
as "The late happy Revival of Religion." 

Whitefield returned to England, where he 
preached as he had preached in the colonies. 
On a second visit to New England, in the 
year 1744, he found that some ministers had 
changed their attitude towards him. He 
had done what they could not do. There- 


fore they sympathized with the Faculty of 
Harvard College, which issued what was 
called a Testimony against him as an enthu- 
siast, or "one that acts either according to 
dreams or some sudden impulses and impres- 
sions upon his mind, which he fondly im« 
agines to be from the Spirit of God, . . . 
We think it our duty," said the Faculty, " to 
bear our strongest testimony against that 
itinerant way of preaching which this gen- 
tleman was the first promoter of amongst 
us, and still delights to continue in." Yale 
College, by its Faculty, acted in the same 

Thaddeus Maccarty, minister of Kings- 
ton^ near Plymouth, accepted Whitefield's 
teaching and was compelled to quit his pul- 
pit. As soon as he had gone, the town 
appointed a committee of eight men "to 
prevent itinerant preachers from disturbing 
the peace of the town." The selectmen of 
Duxbury were directed to take " care of the 
meeting house to keep out itinerant preach- 
ers," who, like Whitefield, were preachers 
of the simple gospel. At Worcester, where 
Whitefield preached to crowds gathered by 
the acre under the open sky, it was voted to 


be an offense if any member of the church 

'' shall hereafter countenance itinerant preach* 

* >i 

After Whitefield had gone, James Daven- 
port, the minister of Southold, on Long 
Island, started on a hunt for unconverted 
ministers, and he went through county par- 
ishes warning people of their danger in fol- 
lowing the guidance of such shepherds. In 
reaching Boston he was arrested and tried 
for uttering " many slanderous and reviling 
speeches against godly and faithful minis- 
ters." The verdict was "Not guilty," but 
a result of all these matters was a deep com- 
motion in the minds of the people on the 
question, Who is and who is not converted. 
There were reasons for believing that some 
preachers in the colonial meeting-house were 
not converted men, before the Great Awak- 
ening of the year 1740 began its course. 
Whitefield wrote in his diary : " I insisted on 
the doctrine of the new birth, and also on 
the necessity of a minister being converted 
before he could preach aright. . . . The 
Spirit of the Lord enabled me to speak 
with such vigor against sending unconverted 
men into the ministry, that two ministers, 


with tears in their eyes, publicly confessed 
that they had lain hands on two young men 
without so much as asking them whether 
they were born again of God or not." 

When Whitefield was preaching at New- 
buryport, a stone was thrown at him as he 
stood on the meeting-house steps, before an 
audience that filled High Street. It struck 
the Bible which he held in his hand. Lifting 
up the book, he said: "I have a warrant 
from God to preach the Gospel ; his seal is 
in my hand, and I stand in the King's high- 
way." He died suddenly in that town, in the 
year 1770. On the 2d day of October, at 
one o'clock of the afternoon, all the bells of 
Newburyport were tolled, and the flags of 
all vessels in the harbor were flying at half- 
mast. At two o'clock, the bells were tolled 
again ; at three o'clock, the solemn knell 
was rung, and the procession of mourners, a 
mile in length, walked to the meeting-house. 
There the funeral services were conducted in 
presence of a thronged assembly, and many 
persons stood in mournful silence without. 
They sang the hymn by Dr. Watts, " Why 
do we mourn departing friends ? " then they 
buried him under the pulpit, and his memory 


now hallows the ancient town. Whittiei 
says : — 

" Under the church of Federal Street, 
Under the tread of its Sabbath feet. 
Walled about by its basement stones. 
Lie the marvellous preacher's bones. 
No saintly honors to them are shown, ) 
No sign nor miracle have they known ; 
But he who passes the ancient church 
Stops in the shade of its belfry-porch. 
And ponders the wonderful life of him 
Who lies at rest in that chamel dim. 
Long shall the traveller strain his eye 
From the railroad car, as it plunges by, 
And the vanishing town behind him search 
For the slender spire of the Whitefield Church, 
And feel for one moment the ghosts of trade, 
And fashion, and folly, and pleasure laid, 
By the thought of that life of pure intent, 
That voice of warning yet eloquent, 
Of one on the errands of angels sent. 
And if where he labored the flood of sin 
Like a tide from the harbor-bar sets in, 
And over a life of time and sense 
The church-spires lift their vain defence, 
As if to scatter the bolts of God 
With the points of Calvin's thunder-rod, ^- 
Still, as the gem of its civic crown, 
Precious beyond the world's renown, 
His memory hallows the ancient town I ** 



EORGE Herbert's reading desk and 
pulpit were, made of equal height, 
so that, as he said, " Prayer and 
Preaching, being equally useful, might 
agree like brethren and have an equal 
honor." These two were esteemed as the 
essential parts of divine worship in the colo- 
nial meeting-house; the service was called 
"The publick ordinances of praying and 
preaching." Singing was not specified as 
a part of the service, although it was prac- 
ticed, and so badly practiced that the *' speak- 
ing contemptuously of singing psalms " was 

A treatise, called " Singing of Psalms a 
Gospel Ordinance," was published by John 
Cotton, of Boston, in the year 1647. The 
necessity for such a publication seems to 
imply that psalm-singing was not a general 


custom in the meeting-houses. After all 
that was printed on the subject, there was, 
in the first century of New England, nothing 
that could be called a service of song ; no 
harmonious band of singers "to make one 
sound to be heard in praising and thanking 
the Lord, saying : ' For he is good ; for his 
mercy endureth forever/ " The Bay Psalm 
Book, "imprinted 1640/' which was used in 
some parts of New England, was prepared 
by three ministers, iJeiiner of whom had a 
strand of music or poetry in his soul. It 
asks us to sing : — 

** Lift up thy foot on hye, 
Unto the desolations 

of perpetuity : 
Thy foe within the Sanctuary 

hath done all lewd designs. 
Amid the Church thy foes doe roare : 

their Banners set for signes." 

The best specimen of versification in the 
book is "Psalme 137." Yet it must have 
bewildered the rustics who launched them- 
selves " The rivers on of Babilon," to learn 
where they were going to land : — 

" The rivers on of Babilon 

there when wee did sit downe : 
Yea even then wee mourned, when 
wee remembered Sion. 


Our harps wee did hang it amid, 

upon the willow tree. 
Because there they that us away 

led in captivitee, 
Required of us a song, thus 

askt mirth : us waste who laid, 
Sing us among a Sions song, 

unto us then they said.'* 

A much needed apology appears in the 
preface of this book, which reassures the 
stumbling singer in these words : " If the 
Verses are not alwayes so smooth and ele- 
gant as some may desire or expect let them 
consider that God's altar needs not our pol- 
lishings. Exodus, 20." 

Other hymn books known in New Eng- 
land were Ainsworth's "Book of Psalms 
englished both in prose and metre," printed 
at Amsterdam in the year 161 2. Older than 
this was the Stemhold and Hopkins hym- 
nody which, during the reign of Queen Eliz- 
abeth, had been "permitted rather than al- 
lowed " in the Church of England ; it was 
bound in the covers of the Book of Common 
Prayer, and was rated as a work of superior 
excellence until the hymnal of Tate and 
Brady appeared in the year 1696. Then 
came hymns composed by Isaac Watts, 

224 ^^^^ GLIMPSES, 

which, in the course of time, crowded out 
all others. Up to the year 1781, forty edi- 
tions of bis psalms and hymns had been pub- 
lished in New England. The author was a 
non-conformist theologian, and a preacher 
to the Mark Lane congregation in London. 
His religious opinions were more liberal than 
those of his times ; he did not scowl at all 
Sunday recreations ; he said, in one of his 
hymns, — 

" Religion never was designed 
To make our pleasures less.*' 

He rejected Calvin's doctrine that a certain 
number of the human race have been predes- 
tined, as reprobates, to condemnation and 
punishment ; be imagined heaven to be the 
culmination of all good tastes and habits 
formed on earth. His hymns, coming to 
the cheerless and shivering services of wor- 
ship in the colonial meeting-house, were like 
the coming of a bright and hopeful guest to 
a disconsolate fireside. Some of them have 
been acknowledged to be the hymns of a 
true poet ; and these are still said to be more 
suitable for the service of divine worship 
than those of any other English composer. 
Who has forgotten the hymns of Dr. Watts 


that were sung in the meeting-house of his 
childhood ? 

" When I survey the wondrous cross 
On which the Prince of Glory died, 
My richest gain I count but loss, 
And pour contempt on all my pride." 

Or this : — 

" There is a land of pure delight, 
Where saints immortal reign. 
Infinite day excludes the night. 
And pleasures banish pain.^ 

Or this : — 

"Joy to the world ! the Lord is come : , 

Let earth receive her King ; 
Let every heart prepare Him room. 
And heaven and nature sing." 

Or this : — 

" Jesus shall reign where'er the sun 
Does his successive journeys run ; 
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore. 
Till moons shall wax and wane no more." 

It may be said that Watts has written the 
songs of the church. For nearly two cen- 
turies his lyric poems have been sung, and 
are sung to-day wherever the English lan- 
guage is spoken. The reason for this must 
be that no other poet has so well expressed 
the devotional spirit, or has so closely sym- 


pathized with the experiences of a religious 
Are you penitent ? There is the hymn : — 

'' Show pity, Lord I O Lord, forgive; 
Let a repenting rebel live ; 
Are not Thy mercies large and free ? 
May not a sinner trust in Thee ? " 

Are you truthful ? There is the hymn : — 

" Thus far the Lord hath led me on ; 
Thus far His power prolongs my days : 
And every evening shall make known 
Some fresh memorials of His grace." 

Are you desirous of rendering a tribute of 
homage to the Divine Being ? There is the 
hymn : — 

'* From all that dwell below the skies, 
Let the Creator's praise arise ; 
Let the Redeemer's name be sung 
Thro' every land, by every tongue." 

And yet when the hymns of Dr. Watts 
appeared, many theologians of New England 
who had been laboriously singing from the 
Bay Psalm Book, or from the Sternhold and 
Hopkins version, stood still, not knowing, as 
they said, what hymns of Dr. Watts should 
be sung as sacred, and what should be sung 
as profane. Some of them thought that car- 
nal men should not sing at all. In the year 


1736, ministers of Boston were discussing 
and doubting the propriety of singing any 
"hymns of mere human composure," and 
they objected to singing those which were 
not paraphrases of the Psalms of David. 

There appears to have been no scientific 
knowledge of music in New England until 
the early part of the last century. It is said 
that but five or six tunes were in use, and 
the only identity which these had, as used in 
different towns, was in the names. St. Mary's 
sung in Boston was a different St. Mary's 
from that which vibrated harshly in the 
meeting-houses on the banks of the Con- 
necticut River ; and neither of them resem- 
bled that which frightened the babes in " ye 
Government of New Haven with ye Planta- 
tions in combination therewith." All tunes 
were like traditions handed down by ear, and 
so changed were they in the transmission that 
their original form was lost. In Old Eng- 
land the tunes had been left to the mercy of 
every parish clerk. Records of archdeacons' 
courts show that the clerk was punished 
for singing the psalms in church service 
" with such a jesticulous tone anc^altitonant 
voyce, viz. squeaking like a pigg which doth 


not only interrupt the other voyces but is 
altogether dissonant and disagreeing unto 
any musicall harmonie." 

A letter printed in "The Spectator/' at 
London, October 25, 171 1, tells us how psalm- 
singing produced discords in the congrega- 
tions of old England: — 

"Sir; — I am a country clergyman, and, hope 
you will lend me your assistance in ridiculing 
some little indecencies which cannot so properly 
be exposed from the pulpit. 

"A widow lady who straggled this summer 
from London into my parish for the benefit of 
the air, as she says, appears every Sunday at 
church with many fashionable extravagancies, to 
the great astonbhment of my congregation. 

" But what gives us most offense is her theat- 
rical manner of singing the psalms. She intro- 
duces about fifty Italian airs into the hundredth 
psalm ; and whilst we begin ' All people ' in the 
old solemn tune of our forefathers, she in a quite 
different key runs divisions on the vowels and 
adorns them with the graces of Nicolini. If she 
meets with an * eke/ or * aye,' which are frequent 
in the metre of Hopkins and Sternhold, we are 
certain to hear her quavering them half a min- 
ute after us to some sprightly airs of the opera. 
I know her principles and that she will plead 


toleration, which allows her non-conformity in this 
particular; but I beg you to acquaint her that 
singing of psalms in a different tune from the 
rest of the congregation is a sort of schism not 
tolerated by that act." 

The first efforts to teach a choir to sing " by 
rule " instead of " by rote," in the colonial 
meeting-house, were opposed as opening a 
door to popery ; it being declared by some 
of the old-fashioned singers that " fa, sol, la " 
was the voice of the Pope in disguise. Each 
party accused the other of disturbing public 
worship ; the opponents of the new way of 
singing claimed that the old way was more 
solemn, and that the new way was wrong 
because young people readily fell into it. 
"Last week," says the "New England Cou- 
rant" of September 16, 1723, "a Council of 
Churches was held at the South Part of 
J^rantrey to regulate the Disorders occasioned 
by Regular Singing in that place, Mr. Niles 
the minister having suspended seven or eight 
of the Church for persisting in their Singing 
by Rule contrary (as he apprehended) to the 
result of a former Council ; but by this Coun- 
cil the suspended Brethren are restored to 
Communion, their suspension declared unjust. 


and the Congregation ordered to sing by Rote 
and Rule alternately for the satisfaction of 
both parties." 

Some congregations did not understand 
the merits of the controversy well enough 
to have any opinion about it. I find on the 
Stamford records the following amiable de- 
cision, dated "genewary y« 28, 1747 — Voted. 
y\ Mr. Jona Bell, or any other man agreed 
upon to sing or tune y« salm in his absence 
in times of publickt worship may tune it in y* 
old way or new way, which suits you best." 
The new way of singing did suit them best 
in many meeting-houses; and it gradually 
broke up the custom of reading aloud the 
hymns, line by line, to the singers, — a custom 
first introduced at Plymouth for the benefit 
of worshipers who could not read. This cus- 
tom prevailed in all parts of New England 
for a long period, because it removed, as is 
stated in Lincoln's " History of Worcester," 
"the embarrassment resulting from the ig- 
norance of those who were more skillful in 
giving sound to notes, than in deciphering 

The fierceness of the controversy, caused 
by the change in methods of psalm-singing 


may be seen in a petition sent by Joseph 
Hawley, of Farmington, to the legislature at 
Hartford, in May, 1725, which 

"humbly sheweth " that "Deacon hart ye Chor- 
ister one Sabbath day In setting ye psalm at- 
tempted to sing Bella tune — and your memorial- 
ist being used to ye old way supposed ye deacon 
had aimed at Cambridge short tune and set it 
wrong, whereupon your petitioner Raised his 
Voice in ye sd short tune and ye people followed 
him, & so there was an unhappy Discord in ye 
Singing, and ye Blame was all imputed to your 
poor petitioner, and John Hooker Esq' sent for 
him & fined him for breach of Sabbath, and so 
your poor petitioner is Layed under a very heavie 
Scandal & Reproach & Rendered vile & pro- 
phane fir what he did in ye fear of God." 

Palfrey, in his centennial discourse at 
Barnstable, quotes from the town records 
that the peace of the parish was invaded in 
the year 1726 by a quarrel about the new style 
of singing, and the civil power was called 
upon " to detect and bear testimony against 
such iniquity." The ancient town of Wind- 
sor, in Connecticut, did not regard the new 
fashion as an iniquity ; for there it was ad- 
mitted to an equal footing with the old fash- 


ion by a decision to sing *' in the old way " 


in the morning and " in the new way " in the 
afternoon. Duxbury voted, in the year 1780, 
that the psalms should ''be sung without 
being read line by line." At Worcester, 
about the same time, it was voted '' that the 
mode of singing be without reading the 
psalms line by line." Such is the tenacity 
of life in religious customs that, on the next 
Sunday, when a hymn had been announced 
by the minister. Deacon Chamberlain, deter- 
mined to follow the custom of his life, arose 
and read aloud the first line as he had al- 
ways done. The singers, whose bold array 
stretched along the front of the gallery, sang 
the first line, and immediately passed on to 
the second line, without pausing for the 
deacon ; while he, with all the strength of 
his voice, read the lines one after another, 
and so continued to read until the progress 
of the choir overpowered him. Then he 
left the meeting-house, mortified and weep- 
ing. But the church, not satisfied with this 
triumph over the venerable man, publicly 
censured him and deprived him of commun- 
ion, because he had absented himself " from 
the public ordinances on the Lord's Day." 


The jiggery muse of choral song was not 
contented with upsetting the musical prac- 
tices in New England meeting-houses ; she' 
skipped over the border and shocked, by her 
antics, English congregations in Canada and 
Nova Scotia. In the year 1770, she entered 
St. Paul's, the Episcopal meeting-house at 
Halifax, where she caused the organist " to 
indulge in artistic Musick too freely ; " so 
that, as was written at the time, " the Major 
part of the Congregation do not understand 
the Words or the Musick and cannot join in 
them." The vestry met, and ordered that 
thereafter the organist shall play only ** such 
Tunes as are solemn, and that he Play the 
Psalm Tunes in a Familiar manner without 
unnecessary Graces." There may have been 
something the matter with the organ ; for 
tradition says that a Spanish ship was 
brought into Halifax as a prize, and in her 
cargo was found the organ on its way to a 
Roman Catholic chapel in the West Indies. 
It was removed from the prize ship to the 
choir of St. Paul's, where it practiced those 
"unnecessary Graces" which offended the 


IN the year 1541, "Payed for a By- 
ble for ye towns part, four shillings." 
So runs an item in the churchwar- 
den's accounts of the parish of North Elm- 
ham in Old England. Two years previous, 
the Bible had been printed at London, in 
folio size, under the direction of Coverdale 
and the patronage of Cranmer. Another 
edition appeared in the year 1540, for which 
Cranmer wrote a preface teaching that 
"Scripture should be read of the lay and 
vulgar people ; " and in the same year a royal 
proclamation required every parish in Eng- 
land to procure, for public use, a Bible of the 
largest size, under penalty of forty shillings 
monthly for a delay. This Bible was to be 
set up in the churches where it might be 
read by the people, although it was not as 
yet used in the public services of worship. 


There was no Bible set up in the colonial 
meeting-house to " be read of the lay and 
vulgar people ; " nor was there any reading 
from the Bible by the minister in the pulpit 
during the first century of New England. 
When the Brattle Street meeting-house was 
erected at Boston, the society formed to 
worship in it, which included many of the 
best families living in the town, startled 
the orthodox community by proposing sev- 
eral innovations upon the church customs of 
the times. The chief of these were that the 
minister should read from the Bible to the 
congregation; that baptism should be ad- 
ministered to parents and children on lighter 
terms than a personal profession of religion ; 
that the public confession of sins by com- 
municants should be abolished; that the 
right to vote for election of a minister should 
not be confined alone to men. These plans 
were set forth in a " Manifesto or Declara- 
tion," which attracted so much attention 
that the church was called, in ridicule, the 
manifesto church. 

In regard to a public reading of the Bible, 
its declaration was: "We design only the 
true and pure Worship of God, according to 


the Rules appearing plainly to us in His 
Word. . . . We judge it therefore most 
suitable and convenient, that in our Publick 
Worship some part of the Holy Scripture be 
read by the Minister at his discretion." As 
to public confessions, it said : " We assume 
not to our selves to impose upon any a Pub- 
lick Relation of their Experiences ; however 
if any one think himself bound in Conscience 
to make such a Relation, let him do it" 
And the letter of the society inviting Ben- 
jamin Coleman to come the seas over and be 
their minister said : " We propose that the 
Holy Scripture be publicly read every Sab- 
bath in the Worship of God which is not 
practiced in the other Churches of New 
England at the present time, and that we 
may lay aside the Relation of Experiences 
which are imposed in other Churches in 
order to the admission of persons to the 
Lord's Table." 

The manifesto called forth impertinent re- 
bukes from the leading ministers of Boston 
and its vicinity, including one from that 
minister at Salem who had excommunicated 
Rebecca Nourse. When the news reached 
Cotton Mather, minister in the North meet- 


ing-house, he goes to his diary and writes : 
" A company of headstrong men in the town, 
the chief of whom are full of malignity to 
the holy ways of our churches, have built 
in the town another meeting-house. And 
without the advice or knowledge of the min- 
isters in the vicinity they have published 
under the title of a Manifesto, certain arti- 
cles that utterly subvert our churches." 

The churches which this diarist repre- 
sented stood on a very insecure foundation, 
if they were to be turned bottom side up 
by the declaration that the Holy Scriptures 
should be read in the services of public 
worship, and that the disgraceful confessional 
should be abolished ! His malignity is kept 
at the boiling point for four or five months, 
when it runs over into his diary again. He 
writes, using capital letters more profusely 
than usual : " I see Satan beginning a terri- 
ble Shake unto the Churches of New Eng- 
land and the Innovators that have sett up a 
New Church in Boston (a New one indeed ! ) 
have made a Day of Temptation among us. 
The men are Ignorant, Arrogant, Obstinate 
and full of malice and slander, and they fill 
the Land with Lyes, in the misrepresenta- 


tions thereof I am a very singular sufferer. 
Wherefore I set apart this day again for 
prayer in my study to cry mightily unto 

How different was the spirit of this man, 
whose habit it was "to cry mightily unto 
God" whenever the course of events did 
not suit his purposes^ from that of Samuel 
Sewall ; who, after receiving a visit from the 
minister of the new church, wrote in his 
diary : " I told him If God should please by 
them to hold forth any Light that had not 
been seen or entertained before, I should be 
so far from envying it that I should rejoice 
m It. 

Reading the Holy Scriptures as part of 
the services of public worship was a novelty 
that won its way to favor slowly. It was 
not until the year 1737 that the Old South 
Church of Boston voted that they " be read 
in Public after the first Prayer in the morn- 
ing and Afternoon." Medford town voted, 
in the year 1759, "^^ ^^^^ ^^^ Holy Scrip- 
tures in the congregation ; " Duxbury voted, 
in the year 1790, that they " should be read 
every Lord's day by the minister ; " and at 
Framingham, in the year 1792, the Scrip- 


tures were ordered " to be read in public on 
the Sabbath, and a Bible procured for that 

Some editions of the Bible which were to 
be obtained in colonial times had not been 
published by approved authority ; as an edi- 
tion of the year 1653, which represented St 
Paul as saying : " Know ye not that the 
unrighteous shall inherit the Kingdom of 
Heaven ? " Other editions were spotted by 
translator's and printer's errors. The most 
notorious of these was an edition published 
in the year 163 1, by Robert Barker, a Lon- 
don printer enjoying the highest favor of 
King Charles the First ; in which the nega- 
tive was omitted from the Seventh Com- 
mandment. A formal complaint was made 
against the printer by Archbishop Laud 
before that rigorous body of censors known 
as The Star Chamber, and by them the edi- 
tion of one thousand copies was condemned 
to be burned in public ; Barker and his as- 
sociate, Martin Lucas, were fined three hun- 
dred pounds each, and were locked in prison 
for one year. But all the copies were not 
burned. One appeared in the book market 
in the year 1855, which was examined by 


the Society of Antiquaries in London and 
was then called the '* Wicked Bible," as their 
records say, "from the circumstance of its 
being filled with gross and scandalous typo- 
graphical errors not the least remarkable 
of which is the omission of the important 
word 'not' in the Seventh Commandment." 
Other copies have been found, imperfect by 
missing leaves ; and there are known to be 
six perfect copies of the "Wicked Bible" 
now in existence. One of these, which fell 
into my hands, has three religious publica- 
tions bound with it. The first is a cate- 
chism of eighty-six pages on the doctrines of 
the Bible, having this quaint title : " The 
Way to trve happines leading to the .Gate 
of knowledge ; " the second is The Book of 
Common Prayer; the third publication is 
" The Whole Book of Psalmes Collected into 
English Meeter by Thomas Sternhold, John 
Hopkins, and others, conferred with the He- 
brew, with apt notes to sing them withall. 
London, i6i6." In a blank space on a page 
of the catechism I found these words, writ- 
ten distinctly in an ink which had become 
brown with age : — 


** ffrancis Chamberling 
her Book god give her 
grais on It to Look/' 

And, whether she lived in New England or 
in Old England, it is to be hoped that she 
received a full measure of the grace which 
she needed when she studied the command- 
ments, and for which she so modestly asked 
more than two hundred years ago. 

The public confession, commonly called 
the relation of experiences, was a custom 
brought from Old England; it appeared in 
the first church organized by John Win- 
throp's company in New England, and it 
continued to be a custom of the churches for 
two hundred years. The sinner made confes- 
sion before the whole congregation. When 
it was propounded to the Old South Church 
of Boston, in the year 17 17, "whether Cap- 
tain Nathaniel Oliver's Confession should be 
before the Church or before the Congrega- 
tion," Judge Sewall said : " I opposed the 
former as not agreeing with the universal 
practice. Not fit that the penitent should 
prescribe before what auditory his confes- 
sion should be." Authority for this custom 
was claimed to rest in certain verses of the 


eighteenth chapter of the Gospel by St. 
Matthew ; it ignored the responsibility of an 
individual for his sins, making the church 
responsible for them, and it assumed that 
the minister and the church as a body had 
the power to forgive them by restoring the 
sinner to fellowship, on his making a peni- 
tent confession of his sinful acts. The style 
of preaching tended to keep alive the con- 
fessional. Those were days when fear ruled 
the common mind. Fear of eternal perdition 
caused skeletons, that were locked up in the 
cupboard of conscience, to stir and rattle, 
and to come out and stand up in the great 
alley of the meeting-house, where confes- 
sions were made of sins which, even in the 
time of the Apostle Paul, were not to be 
named publicly. The repentance of the 
penitents was, to quote the maxim of La 
Rochefoucauld, "not so much a regret for 
the ill we have done, as a fear of the ill 
that may come to us in consequence of our 

With the Presbyterians of Scotland, in the 
seventeenth century, church discipline was 
more severe than it was with the Congre- 
gationalists of New England. The Scotch 


minister could put his sinning parishioners 
in the town stocks ; he could compel them to 
stand up during the entire service, as a school- 
master orders naughty children to stand up 
until the school is dismissed. The penitents, 
clad in linen robes and standing in the alley 
of the meeting-house, were doomed not only 
to hear their sins denounced from the pulpit, 
but also to pay a fine for the sinning.^ 

The reverend Mr. Huntington, when plead- 
ing against the inquisitive forms of church 
discipline before an ecclesiastical council 
sitting in the meeting-house at Stockbridge, 
Massachusetts, said : " My impleaders claim 
that the church have that right committed 
to them. But where do they find it ? Not 
in the word of God ; not in the reason and 
nature of things. Nor is it possible, gentle- 
men, that the church should be able to judge 
in such cases with any propriety. Persons 
many times have a clear, decisive reason why 

* Waddell, History of Auldhame^ Tyninghame^ and 
IVhitekirk in East Lothian, 

It is recorded in the Acts of the Privy Council, of the 
year 1554, that "Robert Wendham of the parish of St. 
Giles in the Field, tdlor, for shaving a dog was appointed 
to repair on Sunday next to the parish church and there 
openly confess his folly, according to the order prescribed." 

244 ^^^^ GLIMPSES, 

they should marry each other, and they know 
it is their duty to do so ; and yet it is a very 
unlawful, wicked thing for them to make 
their reasons public by communicating them 
to a whole church. Many church members 
— I speak it with great detestation — have 
laid themselves under clear, inviolable obli- 
gation to marry, by means of an antecedent 
criminal commerce, which never ought to be 
known to the world, and never can be unless 
they tell of it. A man has no liglit to pub 
lish his own sins ; his duty is to confess them 
to God and forsake them.'' 

It may be nuid that (here was then moro 
identity between the minister und his pco> 
ply Uiaii thure U now. \\\ colonial \\\\\v,\k 
hU ptmllliMi mill liilliioiMO woio F^luMif^lhciiitHl 
by what was called " the coniinuiildii ol thi: 

the power of church discipline of which he 
was the dispenser for harm as well as for 
good. Let me give an example of the harm. 
In the year 1723, at Durham, New Hamp- 
shire, James Davis and his wife, being about 
to join the church, their former minister, 
who had been dismissed in a quarrel, sent a 
protest against their admission, "by virtue 


of ye communion of churches." By such 
virtue he stigmatized Davis as a "sacrile- 
gious fraud ; " he called him and his wife 
"unbaptised heathen man and woman." 
Here is a part of what he wrote to their 
minister in Durham : — 

" Rev«n<* Hon. & beloved 

" Understanding Col Davis & his wife are ab* to 
Joyn in full communion with your church this is 
by virtue of ye communion of churches to enter 
my objection against them for scandalous crimes, 
untill their publick confession & reformation. 

" I?* crime against him is his hipocrisy in pre- 
tending he could not unite with our church on 
ace" of Capt Jones who (as he said) had taken 
a false oath. 

" 24 crime is his Sacrilegious fraud in his being 
The ringleader of the peoples rase of my first 
years sallary — retaining 16 pounds thereof now 
almost sixteen years. 

" 3"? crime is his Sacrilegious covetousness of 
the parsonage land for his son Daniel, acting 
thereby like Ahab coveting & forceable entry 
upon Naboths Vineyard. 

" Besides his the s<* Jas Davis being so desper- 
ately & notoriously wise in his own conceit his 
pretending to have so much religious discourse 
in his mouth & yet live so long (40 years) in 


hatred unto contempt of & stand neuter from 
our crucified Saviour." 

We may not believe that there were many 
ministers of this stripe in the rural parishes 
of New England. And yet, as late as the 
year 1777, Stephen West, minister at Stock- 
bridge, used the whip of church discipline 
in a manner that was suited to the temper 
of religionists in the Middle Ages. This 
is the story: John Fisk, who had been an 
officer in the military service, was employed 
to keep a school, in the vicinity of which 
lived Mrs. Levina Deane, a young widow of 
an amiable character and a member of the 
church. Mr. Fisk prevailed with Mrs. Deane 
to take him into her house as a boarder, 
where he performed the religious exercises of 
the family, morning and evening and at table, 
as a religious and gifted man. And being 
a gentleman of fine address he was attentive 
to recommend himself to the favor of Mrs. 
Deane; and was successful. The church, 
being apprised that there was a purpose of 
marriage between them, warned Mrs. Deane, 
on motion of the minister, against proceed- 
ing; inasmuch as they judged that Mr. Fisk, 
not being a member of the church, was " an 


immoral and profane person." Mrs. Deane, 
finding that the marriage would be offensive 
to the church, made all eflforts in her power 
to conquer her passion for Mr. Fisk, but was 
unable to do so. They were married, and she 
was excommunicated by vote of the church, 
which the minister formulated in these words : 
"That Levina Fisk be excluded from the 
communion of this church till she manifest 
a sense of her wickedness in marrying to 
Mr. Fisk, and repentance of it." 

Was her " repentance of it " to be a di- 
vorce.? She called for an ecclesiastical 
council, and West allowed her to have one 
on condition that he select its members. 
He summoned eleven ministers from par- 
ishes in Massachusetts and Connecticut, who 
sat with him in the meeting-house, and de- 
liberated on the matter, and approved the 
excommunication of Mrs. Fisk. This act 
of persecution by ecclesiastics of the estab- 
lished church of New England reminds me 
of an incident described in the "Ingoldsby 
Legends : " the great Lord Cardinal had lost 
a valuable turquoise ring ; he summoned into 
his presence all the clergy, the monks, and 

mP j^^ d r 



"Turning the accomplishments of many years 
Into an hour-glass." 

Henry V, 

|HE hour-glass ended the services in 
the colonial meeting-house. It was 
an inheritance from Old England, 
where it was to be seen in every parish 
church ; and that it might be distinctly seen, 
a candle was burning behind it whose light 
passed through the running sands. "Payd 
to the Smithe for mendinge the houreglas 
Candlesticke 2<^.," say the records of St. 
Mary's in Reading of the year 1603. It was 
necessary to renew the hour-glass frequently, 
for accidents made brief its life. In the 
year 1570, the churchwardens of the parish 
of St. Matthew, in London, "paide for an 
ower glasse 4^. ; " and in the year 1579 
they " paide for a nowere glasse '^d, ; " and 
in the year 1584, they "paide for an owar 


glasse I2d** At that time the glass stood, 
not on the pulpit, but on a bracket, or a 
frame ; or it was hung on a wall facing the 
congregation. In the churchwarden's ac- 
counts of St. Mary's, Lambeth, of the year 
1579, is written: "Payde for the frame on 
which the hower standeth, is. 4^. ; " and in 
the accounts of St. Mary's, Shrewsbury, of 
the year 1597, is a charge "for makeinge a 
thing for the hower glasse, 9^." 

The purpose of the hour-glass is stated in 
the parish records of St. Katherine's, Aldgate, 
London ; wherein is mentioned a payment 
for "one hour-glass hanging by the pulpit 
where the preacher doth make his sermon 
that he may know how the hour passeth." 
A legend sometimes engraved on the bands 
that held it in place said : — 

" As this sand runneth 
So your life fadeth." 

Sometimes the legend was in Latin; as, 
" Pereunt et imputantus," which is to be 
translated as expressing a thought of the 
preacher, " I am accountable for the hours 
that perish under my sermon." As the 
hour-gla^s was a measure of the time, and 


a sign of its passing, a suitable inscription 
would have been that which was given to the 
sun-dial: — 

'' I marke the Time I Saye, Gossip, dost thou soe ? " 

The gossips did mark it; they watched 
the hour-glass, not because they enjoyed a 
right godly admonition of an hour's length 
any more than people do now ; but they 
must see that they were getting all the 
preaching that they were paying for. That 
the long sermons of those colonial days — in 
the forenoon and in the afternoon of every 
Sunday — were wearisome to the hearers is 
shown by the methods in vogue to keep 
men and women awake and wretched boys 
quiet, and by the eagerness of all to get 
out of doors as soon as the sermon was 

It was indeed a severe exercise to listen 
to hour-glass sermons in which the mys- 
teries of fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge 
absolute, were expounded. The preacher 
told the story of Adam's transgression ; and 
how all mankind, sinning with him, fell with 
him, and rested thenceforth under the wrath 
of God; — 


''And how, of His will and pleasure, 
All souls, save a chosen few. 
Were doomed to the quenchless burning; 
And held in the way thereto." 

As if to make the sermon more attrac- 
tive to the listeners, it was sometimes aimed 
at one or two conspicuous families in the con- 
gregation. These were held up by name ; 
and exhortations, applications, and conclu- 
sions were ejected at them from the pulpit, 
firstly to the husband, secondly to the wife, 
thirdly to the children. Meanwhile curi- 
osity was craning its neck in all parts of 
the meeting-house to get a sight of the 
culprits, until the hour-glass sands had run 

As the preacher became a man of much 
importance during the Puritan period of 
English history, a sermon of two hours' 
length was sometimes inflicted upon a con- 
gregation ; and with an air of authority not 
to be disputed the preacher turned the hour- 
glass for a second run of the sands of time. 
A story is told of an incident at Hadleigh, in 
Old England, where an independent lecturer 
had taken the place of an ejected vicar. The 
lecturer had got through the first glass of 


his sermon and half through the second 
glass, when, showing no signs of being on 
the home-stretch, the audience one by one 
began to creep out. Suddenly, in a pause 
of the discourse, the old parish clerk arose, 
and said : "Honored Sir ! When your rever- 
ence hath finished, be pleased to close the 
church and put the key under the door." 
And he went out also. 

A preacher of eccentric manners was Hugh 
Peters, of Salem ; he was also a politician. 
He went to England and became chaplain to 
Cromwell, and a regicide, for which occupa- 
tions he was beheaded at London in the year 
1660. In those days people spelled their 
names as the fancy took them ; they had no 
rule to go by ; nothing beyond an approxi- 
mation of the sound of a name as spoken 
was regarded when writing it. When this 
minister wrote himself as Hu Peter, he prob- 
ably rejoiced in this orthographical license. 
A painting represents him in the pulpit re- 
versing an hour-glass and saying to the 
congregation : " I know you are good fel- 
lows ; stay and take another glass ! " This 
anecdote was rated so well, that it was sent 
over the ocean and given to several preachers. 

254 ^l^^ GLIMPSES, 

One of these was Daniel Burgess, who was 
preaching to Londoners against the sin of 
drunkenness. The sands of the hour-glass 
had run down. "Brethren," said he, "of 
this damnable sin of drinking there is more 
to be said ; nay, much more ; let us have 
another glass I " 

The preacher with his hour-glass had his 
own way in the colonial meeting-house. He 
could go on forever and then begin again ; 
and when he came to " finally, lastly, and to 
conclude/* he might be a long way from the 
end, even if the hour-glass had stopped its 
running sands. At Boston, one day, John 
Winthrop went to hear Mr. Hooker preach. 
The fame of the preacher was great in the 
little community, and therefore the governor 
must go to hear him. In one of his letters 
he tells what occurred. The preacher, he 
says, " having gone on with much strength of 
voice and intention of spirit about a quarter 
of an hour, he was at a stand, and told the 
people that God had deprived him both of his 
strength and matter, etc., and so went forth.** 
This probably means that he started so vehe- 
mently that he forgot what he was preaching 
about, and broke down, and went out of the 


meeting-house to recover himself. Not rec- 
ognizing the purpose for which he had been 
divinely "deprived both of his strength and 
matter," he did not stay out, but came back 
to the pulpit after an absence of half an 
hour; as Winthrop tells it, the preacher 
" about half an hour after returned again and 
went on to very good purpose about two 
hours ! " 

Here were two hours and a quarter of ser- 
monizing with an interval of half an hour of 
cold silence. Did the governor and the con- 
gregation fall asleep in that interval ? If not, 
they neglected an opportunity which had 
been mercifully put in their way. The inci- 
dent, as Winthrop relates it, indicates that 
the preacher felt himself to be put on show, 
and that the audience desired to see the show 
to its end. 

"If I had my time to live over again," 
said Martin Luther, " my sermons would be 
shorter. I would not have preachers tor- 
ment their hearers with long and tedious 
preaching." Perhaps the colonial preacher 
would say the same words, could he reappear 
and summon before him the men and women 
to whom he preached "while the years and 


the hours were." The hour-glass that stands 
on the pulpit in Hogarth's picture has the 
legend, " Omnia fumus erunt/' — they all are 
dust. And the colonial preacher, he, too, is 

— *'dead and gone; 
You can see his leaning slate 
In the graveyard, and thereon 
Read his name and date.*' 



Crown 8vo, gilt top, price, $1.25. 

From tkt *' Boston TratfeUtr.'** 

. . . Mr. Bliss has a word to say about the forefathers. In the 
" Old Cobny Town, and Other Sketches '' he revisits the scene 
of his former study. ** Colonial Times on Buzzard's Bay/' and 
gathers new material in the same spirit as before. A quaint and 
vivid style, a mildly humorous temperament, and antiquarian zeal, 
combine to give hu pictures of old-fashioned New England life a 
flavor of their own. Though in love with his subject he is the 
most truthful of eulogists. He is too practical to let himself be 
seduced by the allurements of the light, peripatetic essay. But 
facts — the lore, solid and comforting, which he has unearthed 
for our entertainment — are the meat and the savor of this author's 

From the '* Boiton Transcripts^ 

. . . The second paper, relating to Buzzard's Bay, is rich in 
descriptive coloring and in quaint historical allusions. The life 
of the past and the life of the present are broujght before the 
reader with almost equal distinctness. We look from the shore 
upon the water, and from the water to the shore. The history 
and the romance of the past gather as a halo about the present 
The atmosphere is salt with the breath of the sea. '' Life on 
Matinicus Rock " is lonely and sad to a degree ; but it is lighted 
up with a spirit of devotion on the part of those whose duty it is 
to keep the lamps trimmed and burning. The paper on this sub- 
ject is peculiarly sympathetic It contains much of the romance 
of life. So, too, do the <'01d Roads near Buzzard's Bay." 
These lead to strange persons and places in the i)resent and in 
the past. The remaining papers have less to do with New Eng- 
land life ; but through them all runs the same rich vein of humor 
and the same sympathetic feeling which pervade the Old Colony 
studies throughout. The manner of the author is most engaging, 
and it is a pleasure to accompany him on the sea or on the land 
in his strolls through the realms of fancy and of fact 

From the *^ Boston yournal." 

. . . It would seem almost impossible to say anything new about 
old Plymouth ; but Mr. Bliss succeeds in makins^ an old subject 
seem new, — a certain test of originality. He brings tradition 
into the light of reason, and though he has the daring to express 
doubts upon such sacred objects as Plymouth Rock. Burial Hill 
as the resting place of the rilgrims, and even upon the quality of 
tiie immierants in the Mayflower themselveSj except the well- 
indorsed eleven, his doubts are so interesting and his reflections 
brin^ in the results of such careful research that his essay, writ- 
ten m a clear light, gives undoubted satisfaction. There are six 
sketches inspir^ by colonial days. The subjects are of old life 
and places ; but the essays are not in the least musty : on the 
contrary, they are full of vivacity and liveliness, being character- 
ized by numor as well as by senous thought. It is such literary 
work that vitalizes history and makes noted places more notable. 

From tho ** Boston HtraldV 

. . . Mr. Bliss is equally good as an observer of nature and as 
a story-teller, and his chapters are all the better because they 
have tne chann of a man who b contented to be simply himself. 
. . . Not everything in this book relates to Plymouth ; but Mr. 
Bliss is so agreeable in his stories, and says so many good things, 
that his book will be read and enjoyed by a great many peojue, 
who will feel as if they had enjoyed a visit to Plymouth without 
going there. '' Days on the North Atlantic '' is a delightful 
sketoi. and so is the account of A Thanksgiving.'' Mr. Bliss 
is to be congratulated upon the charming simplicity and fine 
natural touches which characterize this volume. It is an admira- 
ble piece of literary work. 

From tho ** Christian Leader^" Boston, 

. . . Mr. Bliss has somehow got the life of hb observations, — 
they have become constituents of hb intellectual being, — and 
hence an unbroken charm in hb sketches. Of course the princi- 
pal sketch is his reproduction of Old Plymouth, — not a gazetteer 
enumeration of particulars, but a vital reproduction. The aroma 
of the past and the smell of the heath are in hb sentences. The 
same holds of " Old Roads near Buzzard's Bay," and of " Life 
on Matinicus Rock." The ^ Other Sketches " include papers of 
a different character, such as '' A Thanksgiving," '* The Mind of 
My Dog," — not a concession, but a very strong and tender 
affirmation that a dog has a mind, and is something of a linguist 

From the '* Congregational ist^^^ Boston. 

. . . Mr. Bliss writes very entertainingly, and the student of 
Pilgrim history will be especblly interested in what he says. He 
corrects some popular misapprehensions, and draws clear and 
lively pictures of colonial society. 

From the " Old Colony Mlemorialf''^ PlymoiUh, 

. . . Mr. Bliss's papers are interesting and entertaining, through 
their easy style and excellent description. It is a book of variety, 
such as a person without time to devote likes to have where it 
can be taken in hand for half an hour and laid by for another 
reading snatch with the feeling that no thread is lost 

From ike ** ITew York Independent,'^ 

The author of that very charmine book, '^ Colonial Times on 
Buzzard's Bay," has given us another, composed, for the pstrti 
and in the best part, oi Old Colony sketches as it now is. They 
are done with great spirit and humor, and the closest jMssiUe 
observation. Mr. Bliss delights in the antiquarian relations of 
his subject as much as in the people whose portraits he draws 
and the landscape of which he ^ves us such sketches. He has a 
mirth-compelling pen. and knows how to mix the colors of his 
chapters to the very snade of the scene before him. 

From ike ** New York Evangelist,^ 

There is a peculiar charm in the style of this volume, a style 
that is modem, and yet without that vice of modem authorship, 
— self-consciousness ; simple and direct, yet thoroughly cultured. 
In his delijghtful talk about Plymouth, the << Old Colony '' town, 
Mr. Bliss IS not afraid to prick, now and then, a bubble of tradi- 
tion. . . . Besides Plymouth, Mr. Bliss describes the coasts of 
Buzzard's Bay, Matinicus Rock oflf the coast of Maine, and other 
New England places, with a breath of the salt air in his style, a 
freshness and vigor, which are as tonic as a dash over the water 
in a stiff breeze, or a woodsy drive on an autumn day. Not all 
the " sketches '* arc of New England or of out-of-doors even. One 
of the best is on " Society in the Menagerie," and that on '' The 
Mhid of My Dog " is full of thought. 

From ike ** Kew York MaU and ExpreuV 

Mr. William Root Bliss has written a notable book In << The 
Old Colony Town, and Other Sketches." He presents, in the 
second of his thirteen sketches, ^' The Ambit of Buzzard's Bay," 
a vivid picture of seashore places^ Cuttyhunk, Penikese Island, 
Pasque island, Naushon, Mattapoisett, where so many whalers 
were builded in former times, and Sippecan, which is now mod- 
ernized into ^* Marion." Mr. Bliss's love of fact does not blind 
him to the fancy of early New England life, which comes out 
humorously in his *^ Old Colony Witch Stories." 

From the " New York Eveniftg Post.^^ 

. . . The book deserves the patronage of all such health and 
pleasure seekers. It gives them what they both need and lack, — 
an excellent topograpnical description of all the natural features 
they will encounter m their walks, drives, and water parties, be- 
sides mention of the old landmarks with something of their history 
and legends. 

From ikt ** Book Buytr,** New York. 

. . . These thirteen brief (all too brief) sketches chiefly deal 
with Plymouthi Buzzard's Bay, and other historic places alons 
the New England coast ; but all of them evince that delichtfiu 
talent with which Mr. Bliss contrived to bring back to life the 
ancient worthies of the Cape Cod shore, and re-create for us the 
colonial stage of action on which they were 'once so important 
and resolute figures. The book is delicious reading. 

Prom the *« Outlook** New York. 

. . . The old colon V town is Plymouth, to the history of which 
Mr. Bliss has added a very entertaining chapter. Buzzard's 
Bay is not far from Plymouth, and its picturesque outlooks and 
historic associations find in Mr. Bliss a sympathetic and affec- 
tionate reporter. '*Life on Matinicus Rock'' takes the reader 
farther away from Plymouth, but does not take him out of the 
boundaries of New England ; for the rock stands in the Atlantic, 
thirty miles from the entrance to the Penobscot River, and is 
given over to the three families who take care of the sea-lights, 
and to an innumerable throng of sea-birds. Mr. Bliss's love ot 
the sea is evidenced in many ways ; but it is not greater than his 
affection for old^ime New England characterizations and New 
England humor. The other chapters in this volume furnish the 
reader with a kind of background aeainst which the New Eng- 
land studies are more sharply outlined. 

From tko *' PkOadtl/kia Ledger.** 

. . . Faithful descriptions of Plymouth and many anecdotes of 
her past are i>resented m ^ The Old Colony Town." Mr. WiUiam 
Root Bliss gives a quaint, old-time air to his narrative. He col- 
lects old colony witch stories, and tells with peculiar zest the tale 
of Witch's Hollow, '< always green, in winter or summer, where, 
on moonlit nights, witches have been seen dancing to the music 
of a fiddle, played by an old black man." . . . The book is bright, 
entertaining, and possesses well-defined literary merits. The 
descriptions of colonial customs have been written con amore, ^ | 

From ike " Ckkago Tribune:* 

People who know their New England, and know it to love it, 
will like to read the pleasantly written seaboard sketches which 
William Root Bliss has presented the public under tlie title of 
" The Old Colony Town." The book is unpretentious, but Mr. 
Bliss has caught in his easy prose the spirit of the country which 
looks out over the Atlantic from its time-honored port on the 
Massachusetts coast. To those whose acquaintance with it is of 
long standing, the book serves as a welcome spur to laggard 
memory, while they who know it only through such pages as 
these of Mr. Bliss can scarcely fail to feel the charm of the low 
sandhiUs, the quaint houses gray with age, winding wood roads, 
and the ever-present sea, as he sketches them. 

From iJke " Detroit Free Press.** 

Mr. William Root Bliss has written charmingly of New Enff- 
land. . . . From Plymouth he goes to descriptions of Buzzard"s 
Bay and some of its roads. The whole coast along Massachu- 
setts is dotted with the most picturesque and quaint seaport 
towns, and they have the distinction of being olaer than most 
anythmg else in the United States. Perhaps that is the reason 
there is so much legendary lore connected with them. Certain it 
is that every vicinity has its particular witch, possessed of her 
own unique power of doing harm, through one wnt or another. 
Mr. Bliss has made a very charming book of ** The Old Colony 

From the "Atlantic Monthly.^* 

. . . Mr. Bliss visits Plymouth with his mind well furnished 
with the historical incidents which have made the place famous, 
and in a simple, direct way, all the more effective that it does not 
seem to imply any deliberate intention, he proceeds to touch one 
fabric after another of merely traditional structure, with the result 
that they crumble into dust, and in a few easy sentences to recon- 
struct the ordinary life of the town. In this reconstruction he 
also effects a dissipation of illusions, and turns the hard, dry, 
rather unlovely, but clearly truthful side of that early life to the 
eye of the reader. Mr. Bliss's picture, one instinctively feels, is 
accurate in details so far as oroinary life goes. Its value lies in 
its correction of false notions, its insistence upon actualities, its 
calling back the mind from vain imaginations. In another paper, 
" The Ambit of Buzzard's Bay," he is equally successful in mak- 
ing the reader share with him the illustrative knowledge of history 
which comes from a familiarity with localities identified with his- 
toric life, and such a vivid acquaintance with that life that his eve 
scarcely sees the overlying growth of modern days. It is as if he 
swept the ground clear of whatever obstructed the view of a New 
England antiquity. Such contributions as these by Mr. Bliss 
suggest how much may be done by the historic imagination under 
guidance of a well-trained memory. 



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