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them the best treasures of the private spiritual earnings of the English nation — the common law, the habeus corpus, trial by jury, the form of representative government, the rich, noble literature of England, of its Elizabethan age. From the general spiritual treasures of the world, they brought Christianity, and the experience of mankind for five or six thousand years. Virgin America, hidden away behind the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, is now to be married to mankind.
The first settlers came with different motives and expectations, driven by different forms of necessity. There came two types of men quite unlike in most important particulars — the settlers of the North and the South, the Puritans of New Eng. land, the secular and more worldly planter of Virginia and the Carolinas. They came from different motives, for a different purpose; they founded different institutions, which produce the contradictory results we now see. The difference between South Carolina and Massachusetts in 1850, dates plainly back to the different origin of the two colonies. New England was settled for the sake of an idea ; Virginia and the Carolinas by men who reasonably thought to better their condition and make their fortune. M. Chevalier long ago pointed out the distinction between these two types, the Puritan and the Cavalier; only he finds a distinction in birth, wealth, and breeding, in favor of the Cavalier, which he would not have found had he known American history somewhat better. However, the difference between the secular and the religious colonies still continues in the descendants of the two. But these types unite, or will unite, as he says, to form a future national type, namely, the western man.
Let us look at the volumes of Mr. Hildreth. His work is divided into forty-eight chapters, and, beginning with the first voyage of Columbus,
ends with the election of the first President after the adoption of the Federal Constitution. When so great a theme is to be treated in the small compass of three volumes, the author must needs be brief; accordingly, he despatches, quite summarily, the preliminary matter, relating to the discoveries of the continent by the Italian navigators, and briefly sketches a picture of the country and its inhabitants at the period when European colonization first began. The account of the Indians is short, occupying but about twenty pages, yet distinct and clear; for one so brief it is the best account we remember to have seen. The whole Indian population within
the limits of the United States and west of the Rocky Mountains, he thinks never exceeded, if it ever reached, three hundred thousand; others make the number not far from one hundred and eighty thousand. The Indians have not yet received the attention which they demand from the historian and the philosopher; they are as remarkable monuments in the development of the human race as the fossils are in the history of the physical changes of this earth. But they are passing away; their institutions, manners, traditions, and language will soon be forgotten, and by and by it will be impossible to reconstruct the history of which they furnish so valuable a chapter.
Mr. Hildreth speaks of the French settlements in America, and then comes to the history of the English colonization here. For a long time there is an apparent want of unity in the subject, which no historical treatment can wholly disguise. The reader is hurried from Virginia to New England, then to New York, to Maryland, to the Carolinas, to Pennsylvania, to Delaware, and to Georgia. However, for a long time, Virginia and New England are the objects of chief interest. We shall dwell chiefly on the latter, and call the attention of our readers to some things of considerable importance in the story of America. The character of the Puritans has been the theme of unqualified praise and unqualified condemnation; the Puritan of Hume, of Macaulay, and of Bancroft are quite different characters. Perhaps no one of these three great masters of the art of history has given us a fair and just likeness of the men. Mr. Hildreth is not ambitious in his attempt to defend the fathers of New England; he rather leaves their actions to speak for themselves. He thus speaks of them, however:
“As the other traditions of the Church fell more and more into contempt, the entire reverence of the people was concentrated upon the Bible, recently made accessible in an English version, and read with eagerness, not as a mere form of words, to be solemnly and ceremoniously gone through with, but as an inspired revelation, an indisputable authority in science, politics, morals, life. It began, indeed, to be judged necessary, by the more ardent and sincere, that all existing institutions in church and state, all social relations, and the habits of every-day life should be reconstructed, and made to conform to this divine model. Those who entertained these sentiments increased to a considerable party, composed chiefly, indeed, of the humbler classes, yeomen, traders, and mechanics, but including, also, clergymen, merchants, landed proprietors, and even some of the nobility. They were derided by those not inclined to go with them as Puritans; but the austerity of their lives and doctrines, and their confident claim to internal assurance of a second birth and special election as the children of God, made a powerful impression on the multitude, while the high schemes they entertained for the reconstruction of society brought them into sympathy with all that was great and heroic in the nation.
“ The Puritans denounced the Church ceremonies, and presently the hierarchy; but they long entertained profound reverence for the Church itself, and a superstitious terror of schism. Some of the bolder and more ardent, whose obscurity gave them courage, took at length the decisive step of renouncing the English communion, and setting up a church of their own, upon what they conceived to be the Bible model. That, however, was going further than the great body of the Puritans wished or dared to follow, and these separatists remained for many years obscure and inconsiderable.” – Vol. I. pp. 153-154.
There are certain peculiarities in the institutions they at first founded, which Mr. Hildreth very properly dwells upon and exposes. We refer to the theocratical governments which they founded.
No historian of America has so fully done them justice in this respect. He fears no man; he is not misled by any reverence for the Puritans; he shows no antipathy to them ; extenuates nothing, adds nothing, and sets down naught in malice. We shall dwell a little on the theocratical tyranny which they sought to exercise. In 1629, John and Samuel Browne, at Salem, insisted on using the liturgy of the English Church, and set up a separate worship of their own, for that purpose. They were arrested as “incorrigible,' “ factious and evil conditioned," and shipped home to England.
In 1631, the government of Massachusetts decided that no man shall be admitted a freeman, that is, a voter, a citizen in full, unless he were a member of a church in the colony. The candidate for church membership must state his “religious experience" before the church, convince them of his “ assurance" and "justification," before he shall be admitted as a member. Thus the road to the ballot-box led through the church, and lay directly in the range of the pulpit. Hence it was no easy matter to become a freeman. Mr. Hildreth says not a fourth part of the adult population were church members. Baptism was the special privilege of church members and their “ infant seed."
The clergy were aristocratic, in the evil sense of that word. They would not let the inhabitants of Newtown (Cambridge]
remove to Connecticut in 1634, for “the removal of a candlestick is a great judgment, which ought to be avoided.” Fines were imposed for absence from public worship; they aided the “ Patricians" to carry“ the point against the Plebeians.”
Stephen Goldsmith was fined forty pounds, forced to make acknowledgment in all the churches, (1636,) and give bonds for a hundred pounds, because he said all the ministers in the colony, except Allen Wheelwright, and,“ as he thought, Mr. Hooker,” “ did teach a covenant of works.” Men were forbidden to erect a dwelling more than half a mile from the meetinghouse, says Mr. Hildreth. The Puritan authorities became as arbitrary and unjust as the court of “ High Commission," in England; and persecuted men, and women not less, for differing from the opinion of the theocratic officers. Stoughton was persecuted for political opinions, Williams for religious, and Mrs. Hutchinson for philosophical notions on questions of the most subtle character. Baptists and Quakers were imprisoned, whipped, banished, or put to death.
No man was allowed to settle in the colony without a permit from the magistrate ; a new comer must not have a house, and no man was suffered to entertain him more than three weeks, without permission. Before Massachusetts had been settled ten years, the synod at Newton condemned eighty-two prevalent opinions as “false and heretical !” Wheelwright and Mrs. Hutchinson were banished for unpopular opinions; freedom of worship was forbidden even to the like-minded, and “the lords brethren ” became as tyrannical as “the lords bishops.” An attempt was made, in 1639, to establish a church at Weymouth, on the principle of admitting all baptized persons without requiring a profession of faith or relation of experience. It was promptly suppressed; the minister concerned in the business was forced to make an apology ; some of the laymen were fined from two to twenty pounds, one whipped “ eleven stripes,” and one disfranchised. Two persons once called the churches of Massachusetts " anti-christian,” and were heavily fined and imprisoned for the offence. Governor Easton, of Rhode Island, it is alleged, once said,“ the elect have the Holy Ghost and also the Devil indwelling." He had provocation for his conclusion. The judicial treatment of Mrs. Hutchinson was infamous, and the conduct of the leading clergy was worthy of the darkest ages of popish bigotry. The misfortunes of that noble woman were attributed to the hand of God.” The treatment of Samuel Gorton and his coadjutors is nearly as disreputable. Did Dr. Child and others petition for a change of laws, so that inhabitants, not church members, might have the rights of English subjects, it gave " great offence to many godly priests, elders, and others ;” the petition was
adjudged a contempt,” the petitioners were fined from ten to fifty pounds apiece. When the Doctor was about to embark for England, his trunk was searched for dangerous papers it might contain. Copies of two memorials were found in the study of Mr. Dand, addressed to the Commissioners of Plantations, one of them signed by some “ fishermen of Marblehead, profane persons,” and by
men who came over servants, and never had any show of religion in them,” and by “ men of no reason.' “ A young fellow, a carpenter,” by the name of Joy, had been busy in obtaining signatures to the petition, and was kept in irons till “ he humbled himself” and
blessed God for these irons upon his legs, hoping they would do him good while he lived." The offence of the men in whose hands the petitions were found was deemed “ in nature capital,” treason against the Commonwealth. Dand was kept in prison more than a year, and Child, with others, was heavily fined.
The magistrates of Massachusetts were long averse to having fixed laws - preferring an arbitrary government by men, to the sober and dispassionate government of impartial statutes. The code made in 1649 contained some remarkable provisions : “ Stubborn and rebellious sons,” and children over sixteen “ who curse or smite their natural father or mother,” were punished with death. Courtship must not be undertaken without the permission of the parents or guardians of the maid ; or, in their absence, that of the nearest magistrate," under penalty of fine and imprisonment. Blasphemy was a capital crime. Men were to be banished “ for preaching and maintaining any damnable heresies, as denying the immortality of the soul, or resurrection of the body,” or “ that Christ gave himself a ransom for our sins," or " for declaring that we are not sanctified by his death and righteousness,” or for denying “ the morality of the fourth commandment," or the efficacy of infant baptism, or for departing from church at the administration of that ordinance. A few years later, a law was made punishing with fine, whipping, banishment, or with death, any persons who denied the received books of the Old and New Testaments to be the infallible word of God.” We know some persons who would be glad to revive these pleasant statutes at the present