Puslapio vaizdai


Y THE terms of the Treaty of Paris, out all New England the proverbial Puriwhich closed the French and Indian tan character had been greatly modified.

war, the British domain in America The early New Englanders had been peowas made to include the two Canadas and ple of exceptionally strong characters and all the disputed territory in the valleys of of lofty morals; strictly sabbatarian; the Ohio and the Mississippi. At this rigidly orthodox; averse to all questiontime the thirteen colonies occupied a nar- able amusements and indulgences; hard, row strip of country extending, with many stubborn, and self-sacrificing. In what

. breaks, along the Atlantic coast from ever way we may judge them, we must Maine to Georgia. The boundaries of the admit that they possessed the charactercolonies were by no means so nicely fixed istics of a conquering race. Though as on the modern map. Many disputes sometimes frightfully mistaken, the Puriarose from time to time over the exact tan probably possessed more humane inlines that should separate colony from stincts than other people of his age. colony: and as for their western limits, in Even in that portion of New England accordance with the spirit of manifest where the Blue Laws were fabled to have destiny, several claimed unlimited exten- existed, the servant, the slave, and the sion across the continent, though in reality dumb beast were better protected than in each was compelled to content itself with other sections of the Colonies. A score defending from the attacks of savages the of witches were probably executed in scattered towns and hamlets along the sea- England to one in Massachusetts, yet board. Fifty miles inland from the coast Salem witchcraft and the terribly stern and the principal rivers of the Atlantic measures taken to stamp out its supposed watershed the country was an unbroken existence are noted the world over as a wilderness. Albany and Schenectady were peculiar blot upon the history of New frontier towns, while the valleys of the England. Mohawk and the Genesee were still the The blame of the evil reputation that hunting-grounds of the Iroquois. Hemmed New Englanders so long enjoyed rests in on the one hand by the French and principally with one man, the Reverend their savage allies, and on the other by Samuel Peters, who published in London the Atlantic, the people of the several col- in 1781 his “General History of Connectionies had been held together by the need cut.” In this remarkable work Peters of some social relations and by the neces- (who, by the way, had been driven from sity of mutual protection.

the Colony because of his Tory procliviThe population of the colonies in 1763 ties) introduced to the world his « Blue or was 2,500,000, of which about one fifth Bloody Laws,” which, although emanating was made up of negro slaves. Of the free largely from the fertility of his own vivid population New England contained nearly imagination, he alleged to have actually a third, that is, some 600,000; and Massa- existed and to have been enforced down to chusetts herself, during the war then just his own day. No revenge was ever more past, had maintained 7,000 men under successful than that which this outcast

Boston, the largest city, was a took upon the Colony which had repuditown of 18,000 or 20,000 people; but for a ated him and his politics; for even to-day long time the population had been station- people cite the Blue Laws with seriousness, ary, owing, no doubt, to the growing always calling to mind and enlarging upon rivalry of New York and Philadelphia. those that seem especially absurd. Even The streets of Boston are described by an the would-be poet has paraphrased the Englishman as open and well paved; sabbatarian customs of these stern old"and on the whole,” he says, “it has time New Englanders into an imperative much the air of some of our best towns in statement of law: England." The arts and sciences were further advanced here than elsewhere on

And let it be enacted further still

That all the people strict observe our will: the American continent, and Harvard Col

Five days and half shall men, and women too, lege, already a hundred years old, had a

Attend their business and their mirth pursue;

But after that, no man without a fine European reputation. Indeed, through- Shall walk the streets or at a tavern dine.


One day and half 'tis requisite to rest
From toilsome labor and a tempting feast.
Henceforth let none, at peril of their lives,
Attempt a journey or embrace their wives.
No barber, foreign or domestic bred,
Shall e'er presume to dress a lady's head ;
No shop shall spare, half the preceding day,
A yard of ribbon or an ounce of tea."

But, whatever had been the sternness and austerity of early New England life, there had naturally been a great change in a hundred years, although down to 1763 some traces of these characteristics still survived. A traveller of that day has described the people as follows:


« The gentry of both sexes are hospitable and good natured; but it is somewhat constrained by formality and preciseness. Even the women, though easiness of carriage is peculiarly characteristic of their nature, appear here with more stiffness and reserve than in the other colonies. They are formed with symmetry, are handsome, have fair and delicate complexions, but are said universally to have very indifferent teeth.»

These New Englanders of the upper classes were usually engaged in trade or

Not only did their ships do their own carrying trade, but the commerce between England and the West Indies was largely in their hands. Rum and molasses, sugar and slaves, comprised the cargoes of most of the New England vessels. With English restrictions there had grown up also an immense system of smuggling; and of this illegitimate trade Newport was the notorious centre, although prominent men in other places were also engaged in the business. John Hancock's uncle, for instance, is said to have made a fortune by importing contraband tea from St. Eustatius in hogsheads marked «Molasses. »

Most of the New Englanders of the seaport towns were engaged directly in commerce or fishing: so inhospitable was the land that they were driven to the sea for employment and for wealth. From every little port ships put forth for the whale or cod fisheries, carrying the skippers whose lives, perhaps, were to be given to their vocation. For the long whaling voyages the laysystem, by which every member of the crew, from the master of the vessel down to the cook and the cabin boy, shared proportionately in the profits, tempted the enterprise and inflamed the greed of every possible adventurer. The deck of the whaling-ship was the great school where the young men of

the towns along the New England seaboard underwent the strictest discipline and acquired the habit of subordination. No Norse viking or sea rover ever bent a bolder oar or swept rougher and stormier seas than these gallant men, who almost exterminated the whale in the North and South Atlantic, then crossed the Pacific, and finally followed him into his remotest haunts in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans. The cod fisheries were even larger and more staple; and many of these small captains, having, after a series of prosperous voyages, accumulated enough to last them comfortably the rest of their lives, returned to the well-remembered scenes of their native villages, or the ports from which they formerly sailed, and settled quietly there, living for the rest of their days in comparative affluence, the envy of their neighbors, who were forbidden the idle luxury of the members of this cod fish aristocracy.” Readers of Miss Sarah Orne Jewett's delightful stories of some of the old New England coast towns will readily recall her charming descriptions of the homes of some of these retired shipmasters.

Hand in hand with shipbuilding went lumbering Then, as now, the sawmill was the pioneer of civilization. The life of a lumber camp has always had its peculiar deprivations and its exhilarating experiences which are nowhere else to be found. In colonial days the great white pines over two feet in diameter were reserved for masts, which were then made in one piece, for the royal navy. Nothing more exciting, perhaps, has ever been seen in the lumber woods of any land than the dragging to the waterside of one of these great pines, a hundred or a hundred and twenty-five feet in length. They were usually drawn over the snow by seventy-five or eighty yoke of oxen, with a driver to every yoke; and since it was very difficult to start so many beasts at once, the immense train, once under way, was never allowed to stop, however long and hard the road. If an ox became exhausted with hunger or fatigue, he was cut out of the yoke, but the train went on without a moment's pause.

But the typical New England life was to be found in the small villages that abounded in every colony. The houses of the minister and the schoolmaster, with the little shops of the tradesmen, formed the nucleus around which the farm-houses

« Zaccheus he
Did climb a tree



were clustered with more or less density. or this:
The village streets, overhung with arch-
ing elms, were kept in tolerable order

Our Lord to see.”
by the fence-viewers, the hog-reeves, and
other town officials. The houses were usu-

More than half the book is made up of ally very plain, the outsides unpainted Scripture passages, selections from the and the floors uncarpeted, but everything

Creed, some of Watts's hymns, and the inside and out was kept scrupulously neat

whole of the catechism, which one hunand clean. During the day the house was

dred and twenty divines had spent five lighted through little windows which

years in preparing. Among other attracswung back and forth on hinges like

tions for the children was John Cotton's doors. When darkness came on, what

“Spiritual Milk for American Babes," light the inmates of the house enjoyed

which contained exhortations not to lie, was furnished by home-made candles or

not to cheat at play, not to use rough

words or to call bad names, not to be a «dips,” which, however, were only used with the greatest economy. The place of

dunce, and to love school. furnace and cook-stove was supplied by

While these little New Englanders did

not enjoy the festivities of Christmastide an enormous fireplace which covered half the side of the room, so large that on

like their friends of Virginia and the other summer evenings the children could look

Southern colonies, nor the New Year's up through it and see the stars above.

Day of the children of New York, they Up this great flue in winter time ascended

still had their own peculiar day into which fully half the heat from the burning logs they crowded much of the anticipation

of on the hearth,— and, still worse, usually

and joy their youthful natures. not more than half the smoke.

Thanksgiving Day - when, as a son of The boys and girls of these villages, if

New England has written not the best, were certainly the most

- « from East and from West, numerous product of New England soil.

From North and from South come the Pilgrim and Without exception they were brought up When the gray-haired New-Englander sees round his to hard work; but they also had their

The old broken links of affection restored," times for play, which they enjoyed in much the same manner as country chil- filled in New England, in large meadren of these later days. Their school sure, the place taken in other colonies by days took up an important part of the the holidays just mentioned. But while time, for throughout New England the the children were allowed to play their public school was to be found in every games and to eat immoderately of roast hamlet. Even in the most rural districts turkey and pumpkin pie, to the older peothere were two months of school in the

ple the day had its solemn side, and their winter for the boys, and two months in the assembly in the meeting-house upon that summer for the girls. A woman usually day to acknowledge their gratitude to presided at the summer session, but each God for the blessings that had been bewinter saw the advent of the divinity stu- stowed upon them was one of the most dent who took this way of eking out the sacred and solemn occasions of the year. expenses of a course at Harvard or Yale.

The minister who led these ThanksgivThe curriculum of these district schools

ing services, and who preached in the was very simple: reading, writing, and bare and unpretentious meeting-house arithmetic, with the making of change, every Sunday in the year, was by far the were usually taught with more or less most important person in the community. thoroughness. The village schools per- In no other section of the country had rehaps added courses in Greek, Latin, and ligion so firm a hold upon the minds and good manners.

affections of the people. From the days Reading was taught from the famous of the landing of the Pilgrims the parson "New England Primer,” a book of the had been looked upon with profound revdeepest religious tone. Two thirds of the

erence and respect. He was not as other twenty-four pictures in the book repre- men were: he was the just man made persent Bible scenes, accompanied by coup- fect, the oracle of divine will, the sure lets or triplets in rhyme, as, for instance: guide to truth. It was considered a de

lectable privilege to sit patiently on the rough board benches while the preacher,

« In Adam's fall
We sinnéd all: »

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with husky voice and with streams of be cut in its wane. So small were his perspiration running down his face, profits that he found it necessary to make watched for the third time the hour-glass at home almost every article of use, from run its course. In such a community the the shingles that covered his house to the authority of the reverend man was almost boots that he wore upon his feet. But supreme. To speak disrespectfully of of these necessities of life the wants of him, to jeer at his sermons, or to laugh at himself and his family were small. His his odd ways, was sure to bring down food was of the simplest and served in upon the head of the offender a heavy the coarsest of dishes: beef and pork, salt fine. His advice was sought in matters of fish, dried apples, bread and vegetables, state, nor did he hesitate to give unasked composed his staple diet year in and year his opinion in regard to political affairs in out. Tea was the universal beverage at the Colony. When, with each recurring meals, but a large part of it was homeyear, the annual election sermon came made. In the language of the old ballad around, he exerted all his eloquence to the New England housewife could sing: set forth the equality of all men and the

« We can make liquor to sweeten our lips, beauties of a pure democracy; and taxed of pumpkins and parsnips and walnut-tree chips.” his learning to defend his politics with

The bread was usually of rye or Indian passages from the Bible and quotations

meal. “Only the minister," wrote Josiah from the classic writers of Greece and Rome.

Quincy, “lives on white bread, for brown The people who gathered to hear this

bread gives him the heartburn, and he

could not preach on it.” In this simple good man, and who accepted his words as the voice of God, came not only from

fare we may recognize some trace of the the little village, but on foot or horse

world-famous baked beans and brown

bread which now of a Sunday morning back from miles around as well. They

are to be found on half the breakfastwere, for the most part, in moderate finan

tables of New England. cial circumstances, neat in habit, and

In clothing, also, the New Englander fairly well educated. Both sexes, old and

was the most economical man of his time. young, worked hard, were frugal and thrifty, and, as a rule, rigid in morals.

On Sundays and state occasions he might The hardest life in all the colonies, per

possibly wear a suit of broadcloth or corhaps, was that of the New England far

duroy, which lasted him a lifetime and at

his death went down with his acres to his The land was as barren as it is

eldest son: but the ordinary suit in which to-day, and his methods of agriculture

he did his every-day work, which went were with difficulty made to bring him in a bare subsistence. His corn and rye

with him as inseparably as a second na

ture, the suit by which his neighbors could were put in without ploughing, for the old New England plough required six

tell him as far away as the eye could

reach, was made of the famous homespun oxen to drag it through the stubborn soil. He had no good staple product to export,

linsey-woolsey, only less strong and in

flexible than leather itself. although experiments had been tried with everything from cotton to coffee. Pota

Yet, notwithstanding these many hardtoes did fairly well, but they were in little

ships, the New England farmer raised a

family of strong and intelligent children, demand, owing to the prevailing belief that one who ate of them every day provided them with the necessities of life

and with a tolerable education, and somewould die in seven years. If he lived near the seacoast and fertilized his land

times even managed to lay up a little with fish, he must watch the fields for

money besides. How he was able to do weeks to keep off the scavenging wolves.

this is explained in a letter from one old If he lived in the back country, the squir

farmer, who says: rels were liable to carry off his entire « My farm used to give me and my family, crop of corn. His grain was sowed broad- year in and out, a hundred and fifty silver dolcast, cut with a scythe, and threshed on lars, for I never spent more than ten dollars. the barn floor with a flail. His every act

which was for salt, nails, and the like. Nothing of planting and reaping was governed by

to wear, to eat, or to drink was purchased, for the almanac and the signs of the zodiac.

my farm furnished all.» Even wood that was to keep was cut in Without question we may say that one the new of the moon, while kindling must well-to-do family to-day spends enough


was satisfied, there was no possibility of securing any refreshment. He therefore, the moment he went into any of these places, inquired for the master, the mistress, the man-servants, and the maid-servants, and, having assembled them together, he began in this manner: (Worthy people, I am B. F., of Philadelphia; by trade a printer, and a bachelor; I have some relations in Boston to whom I am going to make a visit; my stay will be short, and I shall then return and follow my business as a prudent man ought to do. This is all I know of myself, and all that I can possibly inform you of. I beg, therefore, that you will have pity upon me and my horse and give us both some refreshments.) »

each year to defray the entire expenses of a New England village of the olden time, -schoolmaster, constable, and maintenance of highways included.

But if the living of the New Englander was poor, his thinking was on a somewhat higher plane. Often in his house might be found several good books, including the «Pilgrim's Progress,” «Paradise Lost,» and Vattel's “Law of Nations,” all of which, from the Bible to the almanac, were diligently read and carefully assimilated. Although the newspaper, with its vision of events at home and beyond the sea, occasionally came into his hands, yet for the most part he lived in the small world of his immediate acquaintance, and naturally became narrow and opinionated. Many of his views he inherited with his religion. He held it, for instance, to be an abomination to read a novel, to sing a comic song, or to eat a dinner cooked on Sunday: yet sometimes he condescended to play a game of checkers with his wife or to pass an hour with his children at fox and geese. His conscience, moreover, did not smite him when he drank palm tea at a quilting-bee, or listened with unfeigned satisfaction to the achievements of his better half at a spinning-match. He drank ale and cider at the apple-parings, and laughed as loudly as anyone when at the corn-husking the lucky finder of the red ear kissed his favorite daughter; but the moment the fiddles were produced he went home to his pipe and his sermons, or to a long talk with the schoolmaster.

To strangers these people appeared rather reserved, but kind and hospitable. The monotony of their lives made the visit of a stranger a great event; and even at the public taverns they were inclined to insist on the rule of references given and taken” to an extent that gave them a reputation throughout the other colonies for undue inquisitiveness. A colonial writer records:

"One gentleman of Philadelphia who was travelling through New England, having met with many impertinences from this extraordinary turn of character, at length fell upon an expedient almost as extraordinary to get rid of them. He had observed that when he went into an ordinary inn every individual of the family had a question or two to propose to him relative to his history; and that, till each

It is easy for us to recognize in this genial humorist the author of Poor Richard's Almanac,” himself New England born, but grown mellow from contact with a larger world.

All in all, though the tone of life was somewhat sedate, and though the older people had a lurking distrust of enjoyment, the young people of New England had many amusements that might well be envied. There were husking-bees and house-raisings, country parties and spinning-matches, gatherings for quiltings and apple-parings, all of which were entered into with zest by the young people of these New England farms. That all New England life was not ascetic may be inferred from the programme of a ball at Norwich, Connecticut, which was attended by ninety-two guests who danced no less than forty-five minuets, seventeen hornpipes, fifty-two contra-dances and ninetytwo jigs.

The striking characteristic of colonial New England society as a whole was its democratic nature. The average contentment of its people was as high, and the young people enjoyed life fully as well, in New England as anywhere else on the American continent: and the strenuousness of endeavor necessary to the struggle for existence among the hill farms or the waves of a rocky and storm-bound coast brought forth a sturdy ruggedness of character, both of manhood and womanhood, which has proven a mighty factor in the whole life of the American people from colonial times down to the very present.


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