A STATED Meeting of the Society was held, at the invitation of Mr. Augustus Peabody Loring, Jr., at No. 2 Gloucester Street, Boston, on Thursday, 24 April 1947, at a quarter before nine o’clock in the evening, the President, Augustus Peabody Loring, Jr., in the chair.
The records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
The President reported the death on 27 February 1947 of Bentley Wirt Warren, a Resident Member, and that on 28 February 1947 of Charles Francis Mason, a Resident Member.
The following resolution was then read by Mr. Samuel Eliot Morison:
Allyn Bailey Forbes
ALLYN Bailey Forbes, elected a Resident Member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts at the April Meeting, 1931, was chosen by the Council to be Editor of the Society’s Publications in November, 1931. After completing the editing of Volumes XXVII and XXVIII [Transactions] and Volumes XXIX and XXX [Suffolk Court Records] which were already under way, Mr. Forbes persuaded the Council to shift its printing to the Merrymount Press where, with the aid of the late Daniel Berkeley Updike, he worked out a type, spacing and page by which the most complicated colonial documents could be printed in a typography of outstanding clarity and beauty. Volume XXXI was the first to be set in this new style. Three more complete volumes were edited by Mr. Forbes, and a fourth, XXXV, was begun at the time of his sudden and untimely death 21 January 1947. He was also one of the active editors of the New England Quarterly and contributed to it annually a valuable bibliography of the year’s publications on New England history. In 1934 he was elected Librarian and in 1940 Director of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and brought about a similar change in the typographical style of its publications.
Mr. Forbes continued the high standards of editing established by his predecessors Albert Matthews and Kenneth B. Murdock. A sound scholar himself, endowed with the saving graces of humor and common sense, no contribution passed through his hands without being considerably improved in accuracy and in style. He was industrious in persuading members to present interesting papers and contribute valuable documents; many of the meetings arranged by him stimulated discussion and in turn led to other papers. In the Council his advice on the prudential affairs of the Society was highly valued, and by the entire Society his genial companionship appreciated.
The Most Reverend Richard J. Cushing, of Boston, the Right Reverend Norman Burdett Nash, of Boston, and Miss Alice Bache Gould, of Valladolid, Spain, were elected to Honorary Membership, and Mr. Joseph Breed Berry, of Boston, Mr. Charles Henry Powars Copeland, of Salem, Mr. Sarell Everett Gleason, of Cambridge, Mr. George Caspar Homans, of Cambridge, Mr. Mark DeWolfe Howe, of Cambridge, Mr. Frederick Milton Kimball, of Andover, and Mr. Chauncey Cushing Nash, of Boston, were elected Resident Members of the Society.
The chair appointed the following committees in anticipation of the Annual Meeting:
To nominate candidates for the several offices,—Messrs. William Emerson, Fred Norris Robinson and Elliott Perkins.
To examine the Treasurer’s accounts,—Messrs. F. Morton Smith and Hermann Frederick Clarke.
To arrange for the Annual Dinner,—Messrs. Augustus Peabody Loring, Jr., Samuel Eliot Morison and Walter Muir Whitehill.
Mr. Mark DeWolfe Howe read a paper entitled “The Supreme Judicial Power in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay.”1
The Editor communicated by title the following papers by Professor G. H. Turnbull:
IT has long been known that two letters were sent from New England to John Dury about his work for peace among the churches, one from John Norton and other ministers of Massachusetts, the other from John Davenport and other ministers of Connecticut. Norton’s own English translation of his Latin letter was published in 1664 after his death as an appendix to his Three Choice and Profitable Sermons; extracts from the translation were quoted by Cotton Mather in his Magnolia, and the letter was printed in full by Samuel Mather in his Apology for the Liberties of the Churches in New England in 1738.2 Portions of Davenport’s Latin letter were quoted by Cotton Mather in his Magnalia,3 with an English translation.4
Matthews quotes Cotton Mather to the effect that Norton’s letter was subscribed by more than forty ministers, and states that it was written before 1661, the year in which the Reverend Ezekiel Rogers, one of the signatories, died. Calder notes that the extracts from Davenport’s letter given by Cotton Mather are undated, but suggests that the letter may have been written in response to the books and papers sent to Davenport by Dury in the summer of 1660 and that, if so, it was written after 11 August 1660.5
Among Samuel Hartlib’s papers6 I have found a copy of Norton’s original Latin letter, two copies of Davenport’s letter, and a copy of a letter in English to Dury from John Wilson and John Norton, dated Boston, 19 September 1659. These letters determine the dates of Norton’s and Davenport’s letters, indicate the time at which Dury asked for the opinions of the New England clergy, and add other interesting details of information.
Norton’s letter is dated 19 September 1659 and is signed by thirty-nine ministers, including Norton, and by Charles Chauncy, President of Harvard College, and four Fellows of the College.
Davenport’s letter is dated simply 1659 and is signed by Davenport and ten other ministers. It begins by referring to the receipt in the previous year, i.e. in 1658, of treatises describing his peace negotiations which Dury had sent to Davenport for the information of the latter and of other ministers in New England. Near the end it refers to Dury’s negotiations, “undertaken twenty-nine years ago.”7 Comparison shows that Cotton Mather did not transcribe accurately the passages from Davenport’s letter that he published.
The English letter of 19 September 1659,8 signed by Norton and John Wilson,9 indicates that Davenport’s letter was probably written about the same time as Norton’s. It also makes it clear that Norton and Wilson had just received from Dury a letter, dated 1 March 1659, and some printed matter. These may be the letters, books and written papers referred to in Davenport’s letter to Winthrop of 19 August 165910 and the documents replied to in the letters of Norton and Davenport. They are certainly not, as has been erroneously supposed,11 the papers and books mentioned in Davenport’s letter to Winthrop of 11 August 1660.12 Confirmation of this view is, I believe, to be found in another letter among Hartlib’s papers, written by Davenport to Dury on 25 June 1660. In it Davenport says he has received Dury’s letter of 16 January and has communicated to some of the “Preaching Elders of the Plantations on the Sea Coasts neare Newhaven”13 Dury’s letter to them; for which, and for the “Intelligence you sent us,” they and Davenport thank Dury. These letters from Dury were probably his answers to the letters of 1659 from Norton and Davenport.
Reverend and dearest Sir,
This very afternoone not yet 2 houres since Septemb. 19. wee received yours dated from James-house march 1, whereby wee are not comforted with your remembrance and love alone, but allso with the hope of your life, strength and continued purpose to persevere in that great service of being an instrumentall publick peacemaker which wee cannot but mention as a matter of much joy and thanksgiving; with your letter allso wee have received a packet of prints inclosed, which (as at this instant wee are circumstanced) wee cannot peruse without hazard of loosing the opportunitie of sending by this shipp or prejudice of some other Duty incumbent not admitting of delay. Bee pleased therefore, deare Sir, to accept of the acknowledgment of our debt in generall untill a second opportunitie may enable us to send you our acknowledgment with the enumeration of the particulars received from your selfe.
Sir you shall (wee hope) receive herewith a Latine letter (such as it is) with the hands of the Elders of these parts subscribed, their owne hands are to the Autograph (two except, Mr. Thompson and Mr. Miller, of whome though absent wee persumed, not without cause) the attesting of which is the reason of our two hands subscribing this poore paper. The Autograph it selfe is not fit to bee seene being foule, slurred and rent: In that it hath beene to and fro for the obtaining of hands in respect of the subscribers some of them so farre distanced in their dwellings: let it suffice their names all faithfully transcribed out of the original.
Our hope was that the same letter might have beene subscribed from all the Elders in N. England, in order whereunto wee sent unto Mr. Davenport of N. Haven to drawe up a Letter, but he not accepting thereof, that service fell amongst the elders of these parts. Mr. Davenport himselfe disiring in his answere returned to have it so, in respect the greatest number were here-abouts. Which when it was done, wee understood from Mr. Davenport that hee judged it rather eligible that two letters should be sent unto yourselfe; one from those parts, a second from these, as beeing the surest course to pervent delay, which else seemed to threaten our difficult procuring a generall subscription to the same paper seasonably (not in respect of diversitie in apprehension) but in regard of the habitations of the subscribers, unto which proposal of his the elders of these parts readily consented, and this is the reason of two letters.
Now the Prince of Peace preserve your life and strength, and make your service acceptable unto the saints, our desires and heartinesse herein, you will, wee hope, in some measure understand by our letter to which in that respect wee at present referre you.
Sir the hope you give us to heare further from you, is an encouragement to us, and with much joy shall wee receive intelligence from you, especially of Gods further blessing upon your labours therein, our prayers wee owe unto your pious labour. Continue to pray for and love in Christ Jesus.
Boston Septemb. 19. 1659.
Revd. Sr. Yours to love and serve
Wee shall the next opportunitie acquaint the Elders with your Letter, love &c. assure your selfe they will not blame us for sending unto you their most affectionate salutations and thanckfull acknowledgments before hand.
For the Revd. and much honoured Mr. John Durie, Minister of the Gospel at his lodging in James Howse, or elsewhere.
IN 1919 Professor George L. Kittredge read a paper on Robert Child before the Colonial Society of Massachusetts.14 Since that time much additional information about Child has come to light in the papers of Samuel Hartlib, particularly about his first connection with Hartlib, his description of the American plantations in 1645, the period of his life between his leaving New England for England in 1647 and his going to Ireland in 1651, his stay in Ireland until his death in 1654, his acquaintance with George Stirk and his contributions to the three editions of Hartlib’s Legacy of Husbandry. This information15 is the main source from which has been drawn the material for this article, which may be regarded as a supplement to Kittredge’s paper.
The first mention of Child in Hartlib’s papers occurs in an entry in the latter’s Ephemerides for 1641, after 13 April, of information from John Pell that “Dr. Child of New Eng[land] hase many desiderata and thoughts esp[ecially] about the exercises of children how to keepe them in continual imploiment,” and of Hartlib’s note there that Pell and Mr. (Edward) Ironside are “well acquainted with him.” By this time Child had returned to England from his first visit to New England.16
To help to fill the gap in our information about Child from October, 1645, soon after his return to New England on his second visit, to May, 1646, when his Remonstrance comes to light, there is a long letter17 from him to Hartlib, written from Boston on 24 December 1645, describing the plantations on the eastern seaboard of America, and incidentally giving his opinion of the religious situation in them, including New England itself, which is interesting in the light of the controversy18 which was so soon to flare up round himself and his fellow-remonstrants.
According to Kittredge,19 Child sailed from New England for England before 12 September 1647. Hitherto little has been known of his history between that time and his going to Ireland in 1651 except what could be gleaned from his letters to John Winthrop the younger of 13 May 1648 and 26 August 1650 and the latter’s letters to him of 25 October 1647 23 March 1648/49.20 Hartlib’s Ephemerides for the years 1648–1651, however, supply much additional information which may now be summarized.
In 1648 Hartlib recorded that Child knew someone in Kent who had discovered a means, until then unknown, “for slitting of iron,” and that Child wished a library to be erected and a botanical garden to be provided in every county, and physicians to meet to compare “their knowledges and experiences.” He told Hartlib that there was a great deal of “real philosophy” in the sermons that Matthaesius21 had written on “the metallic subjects” in the Scriptures, that Dr. Mayerne was going home to Geneva, and that some of its members had resolved to ask the College of Physicians in London to erect a laboratory,22 “in which all chymical medecins may the better bee prepared, every doctor taking his turne to attend it.” He also told Hartlib of the large numbers of beef cattle sold yearly in the Bermudas after being fattened on fennel, “which grows very long,” and of the great quantities of figs there, of which a drink or mead is made, and he advocated, as the best things for advancing husbandry in England, the improvement of pasturage and the growth of more wheat and its protection from blight.
There are many entries concerning Child in the Ephemerides for 1649. He told Hartlib of books: of a 1646 edition, published at Padua, of Nicolas Papin’s “rare” book, De Pulvere Sympathetico Dissertatio,23 which he lent to Hartlib “for a few houres”; of a “very choice and rare chymical book,” which he names variously as Idaea Idaearum Operatricum and Idaea Operarum Operatricum, printed at Prague and to be had in St. Paul’s Churchyard for seven shillings;24 of the books of new and old, retried experiments made for “a vice-roy of Naples a D. of Doussy or some such name,”25 some copies of which escaped burning at the hands of the Jesuits and were obtained by “one Kirton”; of his being engaged in “transcribing” out of Low Dutch into English the “best pieces” of Isaac Hollandus, such as “de quinta essentia26 with many others never published,” and of his wish that all the chemical treatises of Englishmen, of which the library at Oxford had a great store, might be printed together in one volume; and, early in November, of the “great” work De Generatione to be published “shortly” by Dr. Harvey.27 In March he was retiring for half a year to try “Carmehels28 chymical traditions,” was expecting his books and “naturals” out of New England,29 and desired to have the instruments, of Helmont’s own making, for easy injection into the bladder for the stone. He informed Hartlib that there was a rich silver mine in Wales, much spoiled, however, if not destroyed, by the “late warres,” and that some antimony was to be found in Staffordshire; that near Salisbury a grass, “good for many things,” grows as tall as a man and is mown thrice a year, and that on the making of glass, which is still very defective in England, there is an excellent little treatise in Italian, De Arte Vitraria,30 of which Dr. Merret has a copy, which, if translated, would cost only three or six pence. He said that John Tradescant was willing, for an annuity of £100, to sell his chamber of rarities, most of which were represented “very lively” in a book, and his botanical garden, which together were really worth more than £1,000, and to let his son continue to look after the garden, as he had been brought up to do, thereby saving the cost of employing someone else; that Parliament should purchase them and that the rarities and garden might be given to the University of Cambridge, which might thereby “outstrip Oxford in their bookish library”;31 and that, moreover, Dr. Bate32 was offering £400 towards a botanical garden. He expressed the wish that “the Historie of all incurable diseases may bee accurately recorded from y[ear] to y[ear] by some in the Colledge of Physitians.” He became acquainted with Thomas Henshaw and gave Hartlib information about him, including the fact that he “exercises hims[elf] in Chymistry.”
Belonging to 1649 there is also an interesting letter among Hartlib’s papers, written by William White, an expert miner, who33 seems to have been left stranded by Child’s departure from New England in 1647, and who wrote on 24 July 1648 to the elder John Winthrop, on leaving New England for the Bermudas with William Berkeley, a letter in which he gives as one of his reasons for leaving that Child had covenanted to pay him five shillings a day and to let him have two cows and a house rent-free and land for himself and his children, but that the covenants had not been carried out, “to my great loss.” In the letter,34 written on 8 May 164935 and unaddressed but without doubt to Child, White, far from reproaching Child, as one might expect from his letter to Winthrop, writes warmly wishing Child were with him in the Bermudas, telling him of the great possibilities of the place in land unused that could grow sugar and tobacco, in fishing and oysters, minerals and the growing of fruit, especially figs for the distillation of aqua vitae and for sale after being dried, urging him to come out there because of the troubles in England, and saying that, in that event, if his wife should die, “I will place out all my children and travel with you till I dye.” Mr. Berkeley, he adds, importunes Child to join them and promises him the best possible entertainment.
Hartlib’s Ephemerides for 1650 contain many entries about Child. On 30 January he took Henshaw to visit Hartlib for the first time, and to see the copy of Selenographia, which its author, Hevelius, had sent for the University of Oxford. Henshaw’s father, now dead, was “a great chymist,” and “so is his mother who is yet alive.” Henshaw had a laboratory and a German “laborator,” and claimed to have the Alkahest, among the manuscripts belonging to Sir Hugh Plat which he had, and which Child had seen, being one inscribed “Helmont’s Altahest”; Helmont, when he was in England, having, it seems, in Child’s words, been acquainted with Plat. Child was trying to form “a chymical club” with Henshaw, Webbe (presumably Joseph), Vaughan and others, which would collect “all Engl[ish] Phil[osophical] bookes or other chymists” and all manuscripts, would translate them and publish them in one volume, and would make all philosophers acquainted with one another and “oblige them to mutual communications.”36 In Child’s view, Henshaw’s library of chemical books and manuscripts was second only to that of Dr. Fludd of Maidstone, which contained some “choice” manuscripts of John Dee and Robert Fludd,37 his kinsman, and of which Child had taken a catalogue. La Maison Rustique,38 most of which had been taken from Serres,39 had been translated into English as The Country Farm,40 but the husbandry described in it was not so suitable for England. Palissy’s works,41 Child thought, should also be translated into English. In the library at Oxford the smaller pamphlets had been collected and bound up together into one volume, with the result that not more than one or two of them were noted in the catalogue. He reported that one Johnson,42 the “laborator” to the College of Physicians, was said to have the book called Helps for suddain Accidents, that Carrichter’s43 books had been translated into English and were being printed, and that the son of Dr. Dorislaus44 had translated “all Glaub[er].” He commended Kentmannus’ De Metallis45 and considered it of great use for the art of teaching. The author of Virg. Virgo Triump.,46 he said, promised, towards the end of the book, a treatise concerning sawmills. In regard to sawmills he also said that Richard Leader,47 who had a good estate at Limerick in Ireland and the first house of brick ever built there, was taking his brother to New England with him to superintend the sawmills he had invented, which would supply “boards and deales” to Limerick, not more than eight hundred leagues away, where they were needed. Leader had invented a means of cutting through cold iron “of an hand brea[d]th” and a way of making iron hoops and bars “with fewer men and greater dispatch,” a device for making iron bolts easily, after the manner of drawing wire, and better than hitherto, and an “excellent” new kind of weighing-scale. Leader also commended a wine made of cherries, sugar and water of which he had promised the recipe to Child, and another made of cider and perry. Child told Hartlib that on 9 April he had met “a new man of Experiments and Art,” named Marshall, who had “a whole chamber of insects” and was very skilful in drawing, painting and representing objects. He also gave Hartlib much information about the history, abilities and achievements of George Stirk,48 whom Hartlib met on the Exchange for the first time on 11 December. Child had much to tell Hartlib about husbandry of various kinds. His brother49 and cousin were planting a nursery of pear trees “a mile from Greenwich,” and had already got more than forty kinds from different parts of England, of which Child had given Hartlib a catalogue; they intended to plant a nursery of apple trees in the following year. He told Hartlib of “an excellent designe of great profit that should bee tried in Engl[and] described in a little Tr[eatise] called Instructions50 for the increasing of Mulberie Trees and the breeding of Silke-worms for the making of silke in this kingd[om]”; this husbandry had not been known or described by any of the ancient writers such as Varro or Columella, but had been brought from Italy to Paris; Child himself had “a great minde to set upon this experiment,” and Henshaw had a “choice” book about silkworms. He recommended the “husbandry of bees” as “an excellent way of enriching,” saying that it would bring about £100,000 a year into England, and also recommended, as the foundation of good pasturage and therefore of husbandry, more study of all sorts of grass, including the English kinds which had been accurately described in the commendable Phytologia,51 lucerne, recently introduced into France from that place, “as is supposed,” and growing there better than any they have, and sainfoin,52 brought into England from France by the Duke of Lennox and growing “exceeding well” on his lands. He regarded the Earl of Thanet, for a nobleman, as one of the greatest husbandmen in Kent, keeping no idle servant about him and providing himself excellently “with all manner of gardens.” He did not think the growing of grain could be improved in England unless the commons, “which are pretended for the good of the poor but make them live basely, poorly and idly,” were all put into gardens and enclosures, thereby maintaining twice as many people; but he thought that acre for acre England would maintain as many people or more than France, an acre about Paris being worth commonly six shillings and six pence. He promised to get Hartlib an Italian recipe for preserving mackerel in oil and spices for many months, which “should be followed by good œconomical English Families,” and declared that the best way to increase the eating of fish was to encourage the fishing trade to make it plentiful and cheaper than meat, and not to pass laws compelling people to eat it.
Other subjects about which information from Child was recorded in the Ephemerides for 1650 were cures, inventions, experiments, doctors, and members of the Universities, as the following brief account shows. One Woodward,53 an illiterate Billingsgate shopkeeper, after suffering grievous torments and trying in vain all kinds of physicians, cured himself of gout, and then many others, including an old woman of Canterbury known to Child, by means of a remedy he found in a book on physic bought casually for sixpence from a woman who came to his door. A poor mechanic in Kent invented an “excellent” device for polishing looking glasses, but was with difficulty saved from hanging for making keys to open locks. A way-waser made by “Alten the instrument-maker” cost fifty shillings, but Robert Boyle had a special one bought in Italy or France. Child intended to make an inventory of all chambers of rarities with Dr. Merret, whom he commended for “mechanical endeavours and industries.” William Oughtred’s son was an excellent maker of watches and their cases, and sold one for £5 to Henshaw, who said it was the best he had ever seen. Child wished that Sir Hugh Plat’s invention54 for taking away smoke from London might be perfected and introduced, and so make the city healthier and fuel cheaper. Dr. Heigenius55 having told Haak that a mixture of goose grease and something which Haak had forgotten would keep the body from all cold, so that Dr. Heigenius needed to wear nothing but thin linen in the coldest weather, Child said that fish oil had the same effect and was used by the natives of New England. Dr. Savine of Canterbury, whose father had died and left him nearly £20,000, had resigned his practice and was devoting himself entirely to experiments,56 for which he wanted a German gardener. “Dr. Charlet57 becomes very fantastical, and Dr. Child feares that hee will fall madde.” Child recommended the herb “calaminta” taken as a posset58 as an infallible cure for fevers and agues, and an amulet of toads, hung on the pit of the stomach, as mentioned by Helmont and seen in an old manuscript by Child, against the plague. He believed that recipes and medicaments that have more of Art (or artificial compoundings) than of Nature in them are “to bee suspected to be the worst,” and that the fewer the simples or ingredients are, the better. He affirmed, and Boyle and William Petty agreed, that physicians hitherto had achieved better skill to know and discern diseases than to cure them. The Italian physicians, he said, “physick” sick people handsomely rather than cure them; and Ireland, according to some, had produced as many good physicians as Italy, Irish physicians being much commended by Helmont, and usually one member of every great Irish family becoming a physician; their many rare recipes are preserved and imparted from one family to another. Of the English universities, Child affirmed that their members are generally better disciplined and more godly than those in foreign ones, that they study as hard or more than those oversea, being bound by orders to rise at 4, that they cannot abide that anyone should visit them in the morning, and that in every college there are to be found many exquisite in school divinity, or Aristotle’s philosophy or metaphysics; “but because they are so retired and noncommunicative, and because they do not write and print so much as other Universities doe by way of vaporising therefore they are misjudged.”
Child left England for Ireland in 1651, and the last of the entries about him in Hartlib’s Ephemerides for that year occurs between 12 February and 10 April. These entries give more information about Stirk’s previous history and present activities, record Child’s undertaking to tell Hartlib more about sainfoin and the grass grown near Salisbury,59 state his view that the abele tree60 is perhaps the same as the sycamore or great maple, and tell about four men, Elias Ashmole, Dr. Currar, Anthony Morgan and William Howe. Captain Ashmole, as he is called, is described as one of Child’s acquaintances and much acquainted with Mr. Lilly,61 “a very ingenious man,” one “that was before with the Parliament” and that “offers to maintaine about him [one] that can draw, experiment etc.” He married “a rich lady of some 100 a y[ear],”62 is “setting out Theatrum Chymicum63 of Engl[ish] Philosophers,” and has contrived a way for removing fleas from his house, which Child promises Hartlib he will learn more fully from Ashmole. Dr. Currar, who had been physician to Lord Inchiquin64 before the latter “wheeled about,” had collected a number of Irish medicines and much information about the natural history, especially the mines, of Ireland, but the collections had fallen into the hands of one Dr. Harding, “one of the commissioners at Corke,” from whom Currar could not get them back; but Child hoped to “finde favor,” and thus presumably retrieve them. Morgan Child describes as one of “the best Herbarists for Engl[ish] plants,” who is making a public botanical garden “neere the booling greene or alley at Westm[inster], giving 5 lb. for rent a y[ear] and having 27 y[ears] interest in it”; with him in the enterprise are William Howe,65 Stanley, an apothecary, and a third whose name Child has forgotten.
Child landed in Ireland from England on 20 May 1651 and remained there until his death, which occurred between February and May, 1654.66 For Child’s life during this period Hartlib’s papers supply two main sources, his letters to Hartlib, of which there are twelve, ranging from 1 August 1651 to 8 October 1653, and entries in Hartlib’s Ephemerides for these years, the information from which may now be summarized.
His first letter, of 1 August 1651, was written from the house of Colonel Arthur Hill at Lisneygarvey,67 sixty-eight miles from Dublin, and was received by Hartlib on 20 August, having been sent by the hands of Mr. Howard, a merchant. Child was in good health but uncertain whether he would remain in Ireland and whether “the country aire, which is hurtfull to our English bodys would agree with mine.” He enclosed Hartlib’s letter in one to Ashmole, hoping the latter would deliver Hartlib’s “with his owne hand, that you may be acquainted with him, for I scarce know any man of a more publicke spirit, and at this time acteth much for to advance it; perhaps some books at St. James68 may be usefull for him.” Child had gathered seeds of some Irish plants which he would send for Morgan with his next letter, and also had various insects for Marshall,69 who “should do well to publish his experiences” on insects. He sent his “love and service to John Dury, Benjamin Worsley70 and Boyle,71 “if he be with you.”
The second letter, dated Lisneygarvey, 13 November 1651, was not received by Hartlib until 3 February 1652. Child hoped that the Isle of Man having been reduced72 a regular correspondence with London would be possible and suggested that Hartlib should send his letters through Matthew Locke, sometime servant to Colonel Hill but now with Secretary Roe,73 with whom Worsley was well acquainted. He had received no replies to the letters he had already sent, and indeed not “a syllable” from anyone, so that he was like “an exile banished from all commerce with my ingenuous freinds and acquaintance,” and if he could not hear from his friends in London he would be “discouraged from writing, and shal not with quietnes remayne here.” He has no news, for if anything were done fifty or sixty miles away, London knew of it before him, there being no passing between Lisneygarvey and Dublin without a strong convoy of horse, because the woods were full of rogues. With the letter he sent for Morgan fifty or sixty kinds of Irish plants—not rare plants, but perhaps half a dozen of which might not be commonly known in England; he would gather more the next year and share any rare ones with Morgan. He wished Hartlib to become acquainted with Morgan, “an ingenuous man,” with Humphrey of York-garden74 and with Marshall,75 “who can give the best account of insects of any in England,” and to whom he would send all sorts of insects which he had gathered in Ireland, if only he knew how to send them. Hartlib was to direct anyone who wished to send Child seeds or anything else, how to do so. Child and others had been trying experiments in husbandry, especially the draining of bogs to make excellent land; in 1652 they hoped to experiment with “wadd [woad], hops, hemp, flax, setting, howing etc.” He wished to revise his “discourse of Husbandry,”76 “for you know in what hast I wrote it,” and to know what Glauber and other “ingenuous” men in Germany were doing.
The date of the third letter, also from Lisneygarvey, has been torn, but it was written on the 26th, probably of February, and in 1651/52, and sent through Royden, a goldsmith, who was to deliver it with his own hands and also relate fully how things were with Child and “with these north parts,” and who was to bring back to Child whatever Hartlib delivered to him. Child wished Hartlib to return three books left with him by Child, “if you use them not”; one, a small book, “wherin is the patterne for an Hopgarden,” and two Dutch books about engines. Also, he wanted a copy or two of his “large letter” for revision and enlargement, “if it be worth the reprinting.” He and others were trying to promote the growing in Ireland of flax, hops, sainfoin, Flanders clover-grass, and woad, to plant all sorts of fruits and to understand “the nature and propriety” of the native plants. He had found great difficulty in deciding whether to settle in Ireland, “because the Ayre, especially in winter, doth not very well agree with me, and because I am out of the road of ingenuous men, and cannot as yet heare from my friends and kindred concerning my private affaires; furthermore, as yet I am very idle, for Coll Hill with whom I soiourne is not as yet at home,77 but the next summer removeth to an house which he is building; but I have almost digested these crudityes, and the winter being past, which hath bin could and tempestuous [I] begin more and more to affect settlement here.” He might return the next summer to England to see his friends; “otherwise I cannot promise my selfe much leisure these many yeares.” He asked Hartlib for “the newes from all parts,” what works Glauber had lately published, what new designs there were in husbandry and how public businesses were proceeding; he had seen in a newsbook that Dr. French had translated a work by Glauber.78
On 11 March 1651/52 he wrote again from Lisneygarvey, saying that he had at last received, about ten days before his last letter was written, “a few lines” from Hartlib written on 15 December. He was sending this letter by Mr. Burgh, a gentleman who was Hartlib’s neighbor, his father living in the Strand “nigh St. Martins lane at the Beare and ragged Staffe.” Child was in good health, “though at present people begin to be sickly,” and, being likely to stay in Ireland for some time, wanted to have a constant correspondence, which might be established soon, “when the passages to Dublin are cleared.” Plans were being made to blow up Galway, and “there is very great hopes of finishing the warre totally this next summer.” Child “could have wished, that I had seene my letters which I wrote to you before it had bin reprinted,”79 but was glad that it was so much esteemed as to be thought worth reprinting. He would take notice of the husbandry of Ireland and endeavor to set things right there; flax grew well in the north and was the main interest, but, if they could get seed, they would sow clover, which might be very useful and profitable in England too. Three or four Dutchmen had come over to plant, and he hoped they too would grow clover. He could not give an exact account of the passage in his “large letter” about honey80 until he had seen it again, but he knew that pure honey, or sugar, gently boiled in pure water, then well skimmed and cooled, and afterwards “set to working” with barm, made a liquor which some people with good palates had mistaken for Greek wine. He hoped that Glauber, who had promised various things of this kind, “and I suppose is most able to accomplish them,” would make them more clearly manifest “for the good and comfort of these northern countryes.” He regretted that he had not gone to see Mr. Weston81 and his Flanders husbandry at Guildford, for “it would be very useful in these parts.” He asked how the handmill for grinding corn was thriving and said it would not at present be of importance for Ireland, which “wants neither wind nor water” for mills, and where handmills were not permitted, “leste the State should be couzened thereby,” there being an excise of sixpence a bushel on all wheat and barley ground. He was sorry to hear of Ashmole’s sickness and would be glad to see finished two or three “peeces” which Ashmole was busy with when Child left England, viz., John Tradescant’s rarities, and “our ould English Philosophers.”82 He hoped that Morgan, Humphrey and especially Marshall would be useful to the public, and said that he would write only to Hartlib until he heard whether his other friends were alive or dead. He sent his “love and service” to Webbe and Stirk.
Child did not, however, escape the sickness of which he had written to Hartlib on 11 March, for his next letter, a very brief one written on 8 April 1652, began, “though I am so weake that I can scarce hould pen in hand,” and ended, “truly I have bin even at the gates of death, and yet am not throuly got out.” He had received the “much desired packet” from Hartlib through Mr. Royden; it must have contained the second edition of Hartlib’s Legacy, for Child went on to say that there were errata in his “letter,” though only superficial ones, and that the annotator83 had alluded to all, and added some of his own. He entreated Hartlib to get Stirk to write a line, asked to see all Glauber’s works, if possible, and hoped that, if Morgan was sending him any seeds, they would arrive in time.
On 23 June he wrote again, saying that when he last wrote he “was newly crawled up,” but was now “in perfect health.” He will soon answer the “Annotations” of Dr. Boate, whom he thanks for his pains, and will correct also some errata which Boate had missed. If his “large letter” is to be printed for the third time Hartlib should let him know, so that he may “add some things, and rectify what is amisse, both in the first and second edition, which last seemeth to be more imperfect than the former.” He is gathering “stubble” for the “Alphabet”84 which he has received from Hartlib. A bag of seed has come to him, he supposes from Morgan, but without any letter. He is resolved to stay where he is and to give Hartlib the best account he can of those parts and to try some experiments of husbandry; the Irish are surrendering, Sligo being their last garrison of importance, and there are great hopes that soon “all things will be in peace and quietnes”; the seas have been cleared of pirates. He would like to hear from friends such as Dr. Currar, presents his service to Sir Cheney Culpeper,85 and asks what Glauber is doing and what other things in husbandry are coming forth, because husbandry is beginning to flourish very much in his part of Ireland and men wish to see books on it. The English in Ireland are very busy draining bogs, which become the best land; anything more by Blith,86 therefore, about draining will be “very acceptable.”
In his next letter of 29 August, taken to Hartlib by Mr. Burgh, he said that he received a line or two sometimes from Hartlib, but from scarcely any other friend, though he writes to them. He had received the previous week a packet from Hartlib with the two Dutch books about engines and some of Glauber’s works. He had not yet been able to recover his copy of the Natural History of Ireland, which he had lent out, everyone in the place wanting to perfect husbandry and there being “scarce any place in Ireland, where men are more active in fencing, drayning, dunging and liming their land.” If Dr. Arnold Boate were willing to undertake to complete his brother Gerard’s Natural History of Ireland,87 Child would help, knowing that Boate’s experience was greater than his own, “for my abode here hath bin but a little while, neither have I any time travelled far, because the Iland is as yet unsetled. . . I can give a considerable account of the plants which grow naturally in the woods and which are in the garden, I have bin able to draw a century or two of them, . . . what stones and earth and mines are in these northerne parts I have somewhat observed, I have likewise taken notice of the customes of the Irish and English and Scots, and some politick observations, concerning the settlement of Ireland, I hope shortly to draw them up in some order, and by the next opportunity to send them to you.” He hoped that his “cousin Long sometimes visited Hartlib.”
Writing again on 23 November, he acknowledged a letter from Hartlib of 7 August, but said he had not received other letters mentioned by Hartlib, for he knew nothing of Worsley’s “intentions”88 and had received no questions “till these 4 last, to which I cannot at present returne an answeare.” Worsley and Petty (the latter of whom is mentioned by him for the first time89) are in Dublin and well, but he has not heard from them. Colonel Hill is in London, so that Child can give Hartlib little account of Sir Hugh Stafford’s notes.90 He encloses amendments for his “large letter,” if it is reprinted, and a sheet “in answeare to the animadverser”; “the other part” is ready, but not yet written out fair; if Hartlib finds mistakes in it, he is to return it. He may see London in the summer; “this place and I do not very well agree, the winters are troublesome to me, and I am troubled that I am in a corner of the world, where is little ingenuity in.”
The next letter, written from Lisneygarvey on 2 February 1652/53, is a very long one. Child had never received Hartlib’s letters of 29 March and 20 April, which came when he was ill and were stopped by some of his friends at Dublin, so that he cannot tell what the 41 questions were that Hartlib had wished him to answer, and which he would have tried to answer, though Hartlib knows well how unfitted he is to do so, being where he has little help from books or friends, so that he must write “quicquid in buccam venerit.” Hartlib’s letter of 6 August he had received and answered,91 and he had also received from Hartlib “2 Germaine bookes Glaubers opus minerale.”92 He will now keep a more constant correspondence with Hartlib, because Worsley, from whom he had lately had two letters, had promised to enclose Child’s letters to Hartlib in the state packet. He has some “stubble” to send for the Natural History of Ireland, when it is wanted. In his Appendix93 Arnold Boate had been able to add much in respect of plants, animals, etc., to remedy the deficiencies he had noted in his brother Gerard’s “History”; when Arnold has added his own observations, as Child supposes he intends to do, Child will see if he can add “a mite or two.” The copy of the “Natural History” which Hartlib had sent him, Child had lent, after reading it over once and “but slightly,” to a doctor in the neighborhood, and could not get it back, the doctor saying he had already returned it. He thought the book contained, for the most part, descriptions of harbors and havens, and he could not censure it much, though he had smiled when it spoke, in one place, of Mouse Hill for Sir Moses Hill,94 the father of Colonel Hill. He had now heard from Petty, and was glad he had arrived in that part of Ireland; Child expected to be in Dublin for the most part of the summer because Colonel Hill was returning there “for a long season.” Of himself Child said: “What is naturall, either plants, earth, stones, minerals, I endeavour to know; and also what fame or superstition doth make more than naturall, I do observe.” He had desired Petty, “though I suppose it needles to desire him who is curious,” to note whatever was worth observing, “that we may by little and little perfectly understand these parts”; for there are some things in these places “worth a Philosophical pen.”95 Child himself thinks about these matters, but only when he hears from Hartlib, and since he cannot think of settling in Ireland, and letters seldom come to him, “I let such thoughts as soone dy, as they are born, and hope some other will undertake such things, and indeed lazines doth much possesse me, methinks, its best to be quiet.” He was sorry to hear of Stirk’s indisposition and to learn, from a short letter from him, of his misfortunes and of his having to leave St. James’s, and he urged Hartlib and Dury to give Stirk some good advice. He had received one of Blith’s books, sent by Hartlib, and is glad that Dr. Currar thrives in London, “for the man is reall and honest to his freind[s], and a very good chymist”; he remembers Currar telling him that his library, containing many manuscripts concerning Irish medicines, was in the hands of a minister in Cork belonging to the Army, whose name was not known to Child, but could be learned by Hartlib from Currar himself. Irish physicians and surgeons, in Child’s opinion, were generally illiterate; but they knew and used constantly in decoction some plants that grow in Ireland and had recipes, obtained from their predecessors, for most diseases, many of which Child had collected but could not recommend “till experience confirme the truth.”
Child then turned to answer Hartlib’s letter of 7 August,96 which had come with ten books, than which “scarce any thing is more welcome to me”; he rejoiced that husbandry and chemistry were flourishing so much and that clover grass was being sown everywhere “with wonderful encrease.” According to Colonel Hill, Sir Edward Stafford’s project, offered not publicly but only in discourse among his friends, was about copper, not tin mines, and Child supposes that, if it is of such great importance as Hartlib says it is, the Colonel will not have it commonly divulged, “for. . . he is very chary of his secrets”; besides, though he is unwilling to censure any man that is thought ingenious, Child does not admire Stafford’s manuscripts, some of which he has read, as Colonel Hill does, but regards them as “speculations.” He hopes Mr. Thicknes of Maulden, whom he loved very much for his ingenuity, is not dead. Another letter from Hartlib of 7 August, sent through Mr. Locke, with fifteen questions, he has never received. He does not need Glauber’s book in Latin, as he understands it as well in High Dutch and “the translatour may more faile than I shall.” As for Hartlib’s friends thriving by means of Glauber’s books on minerals,97 Child, who has read them lately, cannot believe that Glauber will reveal the Alkahest to anyone, “though perhaps they may get some particulars from him, which may sufficiently enrich a moderate spirit.” He hopes to try a wonderful, rich, iron stone, found in the neighborhood, when Colonel Hill moves, in two or three months’ time, into his own house about four miles away, where there will be more convenience for the trial of minerals and for the advancement of husbandry. He can say nothing about Dr. Higgins,98 who was hanged at Limerick, which is too far off for him to have heard as yet, but Petty and Worsley, who are so much nearer, could probably tell Hartlib of his cures.
Child next answers Hartlib’s letter of 9 October 1652. He would like to know who Silvanus Taylor is and what good there is in the book99 that he has written about enclosing commons and preserving timber. Child assents to the first part of the comment of Hartlib’s friend on Hartlib’s four questions,100 but doubts that sal martis101 is the chalybs of Sendivogius.102 A better method than Mr. Bacon’s of sowing haws is to hoe them in, but haws are of little value, because enough of them can be got from the woods at four pence a hundred. He dislikes putting fruit trees into hedges and does not know what use would be made of so much barberry; he commends rather plum trees or paschnuts [?], as they do in Kent, or sweetbriar for pleasantness; but every man has his own way, for reasons best known to himself, and Child commends every man that is ingenious. He has shown elsewhere103 that the unbarking of boughs of trees in July and putting earth on them to make new trees is rather a way of spoiling good trees, for the boughs to be unbarked are principal branches, the trees they grow into are small, poor and not worth planting, and trees like the Kentish codling and sweeting, and all boyny [?] or trees with knots, will grow very well “without all this ceremony”; in his brother’s orchard near Gravesend, grafted codlings are six times bigger than those grown from slips. The ordinary husbandry of the chalk lands of Kent, which extend sixty miles from London to Dover, is not to ridge the ground but to plough and harrow cross continually, and to lay not dung, but only mold or turf on the chalky banks. As for the experiment from Paris about steeping corn,104 he had declared in his former discourse105 that barley is steeped in Kent to take away all soil (except drake106) and also all light corn, further to accelerate growth, if it be sown late; pigeon dung, if added, may be as good as half a dunging; but what little strength the corn draws by this steeping cannot do wonders and, since, if all the salt, nitre, cow, sheep, and pigeon dung in this brine were put on the earth, it would not dung a quarter, “how can the extract do so much?” Child cannot see any great reason for it, unless “perchance there be some occult vivifaction of the spirits of the seed, which as yet I am ignorant of.” To get 114 ears of corn from one107 was to him nothing, for he had had 140 of oats “without any steeping or such doings,” but by a trifling art, which he would all the world did know, viz., by putting some broad thing like clods or tileshards on the corn when it begins to spread, to make it spread, and by not letting any corn grow within a foot or a foot and a half of it; he had had more than 2,000 grains108 for one or of one “cut in the midst,” and more than 100 in one case109 “without the steeping.” His opinion of the second experiment with brine110 is the same as that of the first, but he adds four considerations: first, that “they are to blame who think to medicine the earth, as physitians doe the body, and therefore add such varietys of dungs, as cowes, pidgeons, horse, sheep, as so many radices, folio, fructus, semina, and then add salt and nitre, as physitians doe ginger and mace, then a little lute111 and oxegall, as they do muske and ambergrease, then boyle and strayne, then Cape Colaturam, and dissolve ut prius. I for my part thinke that our ould grandame the Earth, ought not thus to be noursed, and suppose that there is more vanity in these than in the apothecaryes bills”; secondly, nitre being dear, the crop will not pay charges, and that the countryman will consider, though the “projecting husbandman” do not; thirdly, an overcharged solution means that the undissolved material is wasted; and fourthly, the cause of fruitfulness is not only the vita media in dung. On the question of fruitfulness he has sent Hartlib a short discourse,112 “which is only to show you the difficulty of the question and to stir up some other to attempt it”; he has a larger discourse on the subject, not yet “thoroughly digested”; if he sends it with his next letter Hartlib is to add it where the three asterisks are in the margin,113 or at the end. As for the result claimed for the experiment with brine, that one will reap an hundredfold, Child wagers that he could dig land, provided it were not extremely barren, and get the same increase “without all these slibber slops.” The last experiment114 he likes best, since it is the most probable, but he does not know how to get so much sal terrae as to supply everyone, nor how it could be extracted, nor how it differs from nitre;115 the grain, he supposes, will be excellent and long lasting. He commends Blith “and the rest” very much, and will say more about them in his next letter. He has received Hartlib’s last letter of 4 January. He has found more errors in his “large letter” on rereading it, and has added two or three more “deficiencies”; and “so have set my last hand to it, resolving never more to looke it over, better or worse, so let the world have it.” He has sent another sheet in answer to Dr. Boate, and will send the rest (“two sheets more”) the following week through Worsley. If Henshaw ever visits Hartlib, Child would like to know if his “college” still goes on. In a postscript he adds that “Sir Philom O’Neale the grand Rebell is taken, also the Iles of Arran, therfor the war ended.”
The next letter, dated Lisneygarvey, 8 April 1653, begins by thanking Hartlib for the books sent on 1 March. He sends the conclusion of his answer to Dr. Boate, saying he “had much adoe to finish” it, partly through his own negligence. He has received Hartlib’s letter of 21 March, but neither that sent in April nor Morgan’s that was with it. He cannot as yet finish his discourse, De Fertilitate,116 partly through idleness, partly for want of books, and the subject is very difficult; perhaps he will go on leisurely with it, but he can promise no more than stubble for such a work. Boate is most able to go on with his brother’s discourse about Ireland, “and I hope will hearken to reason”; if he wants it, Child will contribute what is as yet in his scattered papers, for he wishes to have it perfected. Stirk is not discontented with Hartlib or Dury, but only laments his misfortune in removing to St. James’s to distil oils, which seemingly did not succeed as expected;117 Child begs Hartlib to continue his goodness to Stirk and to advise him for the best. Child will not be in London in the summer, as he had expected, but hopes to be there in the next spring and to stay there, “for my thoughts do not fix here, so remote from ingenuous men.” He has had a long letter from Worsley.
On 7 July 1653, he wrote again to Hartlib, the only one in England from whom he can receive a word or two, for “I have wrote to my other friends till I am weary, and therefore at present give over writing to them.” If Mr. Royden fails as the bearer of the letters between them, they can scarcely correspond any more, which consideration causes him to throw the few observations which he has collected, “into some blind hole or other, from whence (perhaps) when an opportunity presents, I may take them forth.” His poor gleanings would be better preserved for a second edition of Boate’s work, “by which time I shall collect more experience whither I can adde any thing or nothing.” He can add scarcely anything to what he has said in his “large letter” about bees;118 he supposes that “Butler119 and Leveret120 have done so much that little can be picked out of ould authors, and little added by new.” Yet Hartlib does well to go forward, “for dayly new things are found out not known to the ancients, and indeed this kind of creatures may be very beneficiall and pleasant to the true managers of them.” His treatise, De Fertilitate, lies, as at first, “rude and undigested”; he cannot readily find and digest it, for they are moving to a new house; but it will serve for the next edition, “though indeed I cannot heartily goe about it, because I shall be so paradoxicall, and further, I want bookes and other necessarys to polish any treatise, and therefore it will only be as stubble.” Sir John Clotworthy, to whom Child is beholden for his love through Hartlib’s commendations, is returning to London.
The last letter is from Dublin, 28 October 1653. Mr. Royden not having brought an answer from Hartlib, Child suspects that he did not visit Hartlib; “I perceive that he is dayly more negligent of my letters.” Worsley has promised to forward Hartlib’s letters to Child if they are enclosed in those to him. Child thanks Hartlib for “Mr. Austine booke,”121 sent through Mr. Moore. There is nothing to communicate to Hartlib, “these places being wholy busied in stating debentures, displanting the Irish and Scots, and settling English plantations.” If Leader is in London, Hartlib is to ask him to write to Child an account of New England, “as concerning the Dutch, and how far the iron works (of which I should be a partner) do thrive.” Worsley and Petty “are about a physic garden, and I suppose, will desire your assistance therein.” He encloses a letter to Morgan.
In the Ephemerides for 1652 there are five entries concerning Child which do not seem to be touched upon in his letters. First, Pell tells Hartlib that great quantities of damsons were wont to be produced in Ireland, and doubtless will be again, and that therefore Child, who “affirms the making of Damsin wine,” should be reminded of this. Secondly, Dr. Fittens, of Essex, a friend of Child, and now dead, made an index of Helmont. Thirdly, Johannes Norwegus, according to Child, had become chaplain to the King of Denmark, and is “a fit correspondent.” Fourthly, Child told Hartlib that Appelius had a way of making beer without malt or hops,122 some of the ingredients being “Ella Campana123 and the refuse or that which is left124 after the sugar is refined.” Fifthly, Child claimed to have several recipes for making marbled paper.
Kittredge suggests125 that Child died between February and May, 1654, because Child is mentioned, obviously as alive, in Hartlib’s letter to Boyle of 28 February 1653/54, but referred to as “the late Dr. Child” in Hartlib’s letter to Boyle of 8 May 1654.126 We may assume that Boyle would have known if Child were already dead when he wrote on 10 January 1653/54 from Youghall to Hartlib the letter127 which Hartlib answered on 28 February 1653/54, and that similarly Hartlib would have known when he wrote to Boyle on 28 February. Though Boyle and Child were not in direct communication with each other, as appears from Child’s letters to Hartlib already quoted, Boyle was at the time in such close touch with people like Worsley and Petty, who knew Child and were in Dublin near Child at the time, as to be informed by them immediately of Child’s death. As for Hartlib, we do not know when he received Child’s letter of 28 October 1653, the last written by Child to be found among Hartlib’s papers, nor when he replied, if he did, nor whether Child ever wrote him again; but Child’s last letter, of 28 October 1653, from Dublin, speaks of “our loving freinds Mr. Worsley and Dr. Petty” being there, and they would no doubt tell Hartlib of Child’s death. Moreover, Sir Cheney Culpeper, writing to Hartlib on 25 February 1653/54, mentions Child’s letter of husbandry, but does not say “the late” nor that Child is dead. Kittredge, therefore, is probably right in his suggestion about the time of Child’s death.
Kittredge points out128 that John Winthrop the younger did not hear of his friend Child’s death until Hartlib told him of it, in a letter of 3 September 1661, as having occurred “about 3.129 yeares agoe.” Among Hartlib’s papers there is a letter from Winthrop to Hartlib, dated 25 October 1660, which says: “I find in your book the legacy of Husbandry mention of my name in a letter,130 which hath no name to it but I guesse it to be Dr. Rob. Child, of whom I should willingly understand whether yet inter vivos for I feare he is dead because I have not heard from him these many years.” Hartlib had sent him, on 16 March 1660, a copy of the Legacy in quarto, probably of the third edition of 1655, along with other books and manuscripts, which Winthrop listed and acknowledged in a letter of 25 August 1660.
Child’s “large letter” to Hartlib forms the bulk (pages 1–108) of the first edition, 1651, of “Samuel Hartlib his Legacie” on husbandry. None of the rest of this book, which runs to 131 pages, excluding three pages at the beginning containing Hartlib’s address “To the Reader” and Sir Richard Weston’s “Legacy to his sons,” seems to have been contributed by Child. Child wrote the “large letter” in haste, as he says in his letter to Hartlib of 13 November 1651, when he wanted to review it, “that I may partly adde and mend what is amisse”; in his next letter of 26 (probably) February 1651/52, he repeated his wish to amend the errors in the “imperfect” “large letter” and to add some things to it, “if it be worth the reprinting.” But it must have been reprinting even before Hartlib received, on 3 February 1652, the first of these two letters from Child, because Hartlib’s letter of 15 December 1651 must have conveyed that news to Child. Yet the printing cannot have been completed before 3/13 January 1652, the date of the last letter from Arnold Boate contained in the Annotations which follow the “large letter” in the second edition. It must have been completed very soon after that, however, for by 8 April 1652 Child had received from Hartlib “the packet,” presumably of copies of the second edition, and was commenting on it.
This second edition has in “An Appendix” two main additions to what is contained in the first edition. The first addition is entitled “Annotations upon the Legacie of Husbandry” and consists of extracts from ten letters written by Arnold Boate to Hartlib from Paris between 1 July 1651 and 3/13 January 1651/52. The second has as title-page “An Interrogatory relating more particularly to the Husbandry and Natural History of Ireland,” and consists of “The Alphabet of Interrogatories,” of twenty-five pages, the subjects of the questions, drawn up apparently by Arnold Boate, being arranged in alphabetical order. Hartlib obviously intended the answers to serve as material for the completion of Gerard Boate’s Ireland’s Natural History, first published in 1652. A letter131 from Hartlib to Child, placed at the beginning of “An Appendix,” asks him to “look upon this Alphabet of Interrogatories, and consider what Answers your observations will afford unto them; or what you can learne from the observations of others to clear them.” Child’s letters show that Arnold Boate was being urged by Hartlib to undertake the completion of his brother Gerard’s work on Ireland’s Natural History. Child himself acknowledged the receipt of the Interrogatory on 23 June 1652, and his letters of that date, and of 29 August 1652, 2 February 1652/53, 8 April and 7 July 1653, show that he was gathering “stubble” of certain kinds for it. Among Hartlib’s papers there are sheets dealing in alphabetical order with various topics ranging from “Galls” to “Wood,” the same topics as are contained in the Interrogatory, and in the same order, though some in the Interrogatory are not dealt with. I think it very likely that these sheets are some of the “stubble” contributed by Child to Hartlib.
On 23 June 1652 Child wrote to Hartlib that he could easily answer the contents of Boate’s “Annotations” and amend errata, and would do so, and also make additions, if a third edition were to be made. On 23 November he sent amendments132 for his “large letter” and a sheet in answer to Boate. On 2 February 1652/53 he sent a short discourse about fruitfulness,133 more corrections for his “large letter,” two or three more deficiencies to be added,134 and another sheet in answer to Boate; and on 8 April 1653 he sent the conclusion (two more sheets according to his letter of 2 February) of his answer to Boate. This answer, though only of four sheets apparently, must be “An Answer to the Animadversor on the Letter to Mr. Samuel Hartlib of Husbandry,” which occupies pages 132–172 of the third edition of the Legacy, published in 1655, and is placed immediately after Boate’s “Annotations” (pages 118–132). Apart from the “large letter” and this answer, Child made one other contribution to the third edition, viz., “Observations and Animadversions upon the foregoing secrets or experiments.”135
Hartlib, as was his wont, passed the annotations on the “large letter” written by Boate in his first two letters from Paris, of 1 July and 12 July, respectively,136 on to Dr. William Rand for his comments, which are duly recorded in a letter of 1 September 1651 from Rand at Amsterdam to Hartlib, found among Hartlib’s papers. Child does not mention Rand’s comments in his letters, so perhaps Hartlib never passed them on to him; and they do not seem to have been incorporated at all in the second or third editions of the Legacy.
Hartlib’s papers, besides throwing much light on the topics which have just been considered, give us some information on three other matters mentioned by Professor Kittredge, viz., Child’s possession of a book by William Petty, the identification of Eirenaeus Philalethes with Stirk, not with Child, and the Child family.
According to Kittredge137 there is a copy of William Petty’s The Advice of W. P. to Mr. Samuel Hartlib for the Advancement of some particular Parts of Learning in the library of the Massachusetts Historical Society, which may have been a present from Hartlib to the younger Winthrop. Hartlib certainly sent Winthrop a copy on 16 March 1660,138 and the latter acknowledged its receipt in his reply of 25 August 1660, calling it “Advice for advancement of some parts of learning, in 4to”; and this may be the copy to which Kittredge refers.
Kittredge discusses139 the identity of the mysterious chemical adept called Eirenaeus Philalethes and comes to the conclusion that he was not Robert Child, as has been sometimes supposed, but George Stirk. A few points in that discussion can be illuminated from the information concerning Child and Stirk contained in Hartlib’s papers. First of all, the “freind in Scotland who hath perfected Helmont’s menstruum,” mentioned in Child’s letter to John Winthrop the younger of 13 May 1648, appears to have been one “Carmihill” or “Carmehel,” perhaps Carmichael, whom Child mentioned to Hartlib in 1649 and whose name occurs in a letter from Cheney Culpeper to Hartlib.140 Secondly, the conjecture of Kittredge141 that nothing is more probable than that Child knew Robert Fludd seems to be wrong.142 Thirdly, the statement that Eirenaeus Philalethes, or Stirk was twenty-three years of age in 1645143 does not tally with Stirk’s age as given in Hartlib’s Ephemerides for 1650, when Stirk was twenty-two years of age. Fourthly, Kittredge gives144 Stirk’s pseudonym as Eirenaeus Philoponus Philalethes. A copy of a letter145 from Stirk to Johannes Morian, of 30 May 1651, ends thus: “A Philaletha Philopono Hermeticae Scholae Chemiatra indignissimo tibi devotissimo Ad obsequium, Honoremque syncerum exhibendum, Georgio Stirkio.” About Stirk, Hartlib’s Ephemerides record, from Child, that “he can fix Mercury (1650),” that he “hath the Helmontian Alkahest or a Liquor (1650),” and that “his is not yet that Universal Alkahest but it is an approximation (1651).” Child’s letters say about Stirk: “I believe he hath already tould me his Alkehest, I am glad if it prove soe”;146 “if he have the Alkahest as I hope he hath, he hath enough whithersoever he goes.”147 There is nothing here to suggest that Stirk got the elixir and the manuscripts on chemistry from Child, and that therefore Child was Eirenaeus Philalethes. So far as Hartlib’s papers go, therefore, Kittredge’s argument against this identification is borne out.
Kittredge says148 that Child’s father, John Child, appears to have had a comfortable estate, probably at Northfleet in Kent. Hartlib’s Ephemerides for 1653, however, contain the following entry, made in June, between the 7th and 22nd: “Mr. John Child, Mr. Child’s father living in the Isle of Ely a Councillour of the Inner Temple but a great Husbandman for Cattel his wife makes a most admirable kind of butter far exceeding the ordinarie way. For she makes it without setting the milke for creame thus. The milke so soon as it is come from the cowe must bee strained then churned, as usually creame is done. Also the cheese made of the Buttermilke will bee better than the best two-meale cheeses that you ever did eate. And one pound of this Butter shal be worth a pound and a halfe of your best Butter which is made of creame.149 Probatum. This I had from Mr. Childs hand, whose father keepes 30 or 40 servants by reason of the great number of Cattel in which hee deales. Dr. Francius150 fellow of Peter-house is very well acquainted with him and continually resorts to their house. For hee hase most excellent Bier of 3 or 4 y[ears] old which the Dr. loves. Also their cheeses some of them of 2 y[ears] old are very renowned which they give away as a rarity. For they are very singular and delicate. The Countesse of Arundel was a mighty suiter and lover of them.”
The Mr. Child just mentioned and described by Hartlib as John Child’s son may have been the Major John Child about whom Kittredge gives a good deal of information,151 though Hartlib never gives him that title, nor indeed refers to him as other than Mr. Child.152 The reference in 1650 to Dr. Child’s “brother and cozen” planting nurseries of fruit trees near Greenwich has already been mentioned above; likewise the reference in the same year to Dr. Child’s opinion that his brother had become one of the best husbandmen in England. The Ephemerides for 1653 record that Mr. Child told Hartlib of a method used in Norway for pickling mackerel;153 of an Englishman, Gore of Amersford,154 “an arch-Cavallier, but so drunken a sott that he is no ways dangerous,” who used logwood as an indelible dye, and whom Mr. Child was trying to get over into England; of one Banks, a clerk in the Excise Office, who could write backwards “with great expedition”; of his and Hartlib’s joint opinion that if Otto Faber,155 who says that “the English are to conquer all other nations,” be a true Adeptus, he should come to England and reveal it; of his telling Culpeper that the abele tree is really the white poplar,156 which is plentiful in England, and that the lime tree is a fast grower and provides useful timber. The Ephemerides for 1655 record from Mr. Child that Gore had come to England and that Mr. Child was to give Hartlib a further account of Gore’s art of dyeing with logwood; later, that Gore had gone to Norwich, but that one Bigs claimed to know Gore’s secret, but would only reveal it if paid £20 in advance and allowed a half share in the profits.
Boston this 24th Decemb. 1645.
Though the times be so exceeding cold, that Inke and pen freeze extreamely, and colder weather scarce knowne in this country yet I wil write a word or two to you according to my promise, though I cannot inlarge my selfe as I would, or as you expect: by the next opportunity I shall be more large, and desire you to pardon my brevity. This country of New England from Virginia southward to the french northward at Penobscott is about 6 or 700 miles along the sea coast. Towards the South at a place called Delaware bay live some Swedes about an hundred, and likewise some few Hollanders, which hinder the English from planting there, though some 20 familyes from Mr. Davenports plantations attempted to settle there. This river is a very great river, very fruitfull, and will contayne more people than all New England beside. I suppose this place for health and wealth the best place the English can set there foot in. if any leave the Kingdome I pray counsell them to this place, and many here will joyne with them who have seen the place. About an 100 or 120 miles from this place is a river called Hudsons river, a very great river navigable about 200 miles up, here live about 2 or 300 Hollanders and English under the protection of the West Indy Company, here hath bin warres betweene the Dutch and Indians 3 or 4 years which hath almost ruined the plantations, but now peace is concluded: this place is poore, subsists especially by bever trade with the Indians. The West Indy Company thought to have built ships here, and for that end erected 3 great saw mills, and also to have made it a magazin for victualing of their ships, but missing of their ends, they neglect it and count it a burthen, for its chargable unto them, and therefore have not sent any supplyes hither these 2 yeares, yet the States will not permit them to sell it. There is a rumor of a gold mine found here, some say its naturall cynabar or ☿157 with a few golden spangles. I shall (God willing) next spring see it, and by my next give you a further and certayner relation. About 20 miles from this river eastward begin the English plantations, and continue along the coast about 400 miles or more: The whole number of the English is about 40000 people, divided into 6 Jurisdictions and into 80 plantations or there about. I could tell you the names of all of them, there situations, and number of familyes, but it would be too tedious to you to heare: the first iurisdiction southward is Mr. Davenport or Mr. Eatons, contayning about 10 plantations. I wonder Mr. Davenport hath not written to you, when I see him I shall inquire the Reasons, he is the strictest man for the church covenant, and admitting of members in N. England. These plantations flourish indifferently well in come and cattle, and have build 2 or 3 good vessels, which they imploy, and intend, as I heare, to send one of these vessels for London this year. The next jurisdiction is Connecticut river, where Mr. Hooker lives contayning 5 or 6 good plantations, exceedingly abounding in corne, the last yeare they spared 20000 bushell, and have already this yeare sent to the bay 4000 bushell at least of new corne. these are the fruitfullest places in all new England: 3d jurisdiction [is] Rhoade Ile and Narragenset bay: there is some controversy about it, for the bay158 got a patent for it from the Parliament, and the inhabitants likewise, who most of them are banished men, yet rich and the place fruitfull. I am sorry, they should suffer more, having suffred twice banishment for consciences sake, first in England, secondly in the bay patent, for mayntayning liberty of conscience, and not approving there Covenant, which I confess I stumble at. if you can doe them any good by your freinds in Parliament you shall doe well, this place abounds with corne and cattle, esp. sheep there being nigh a 1000 on the Ile. it contaynes 4 plantations. 4th jurisdiction is Plymouth, an ould Patent contayning 10 or 12 plantations, the land is barren, the people very poore, but moderate men. 5 jurisdiction is the Bay patent, a great Patent and is usually called New England, richer and greater than all the rest, contayning about 30 or 40 plantations, indifferently fruitfull: Here they are exceeding bitter against Anabaptists, and other that differ from there rules, enacting lawes banishing and punishing all schismaticks, as they call them, yea counting banishment nothing. I know a captaine that came over in the last ship. who had spent his bloud and estate in the Parliaments service not permitted to live above 3 weekes with them, although nothing spoken on shoare, only in the ship he endeavoured to defend Dr. Crispes sermons, who is counted an Antinomian. I suppose you have read him, but if not, pray doe it, and let me know your iudgment. I suppose truly the Dr. writes nothing but truth. 6th and northmost jurisdiction is Sr fferdinando Gorges, or Mr. Rigbys a Parliament mans, wherein are 10 small plantations, where I have purchased a small plantation at Sacho, and shall settle there, if I abide in these parts, for I cannot endure the bitternes of the other plantations. This place abounds in fish and timber.
We are here (God be thanked) in peace, yet in August the whole country was in armes 560 souldiers pressed, as in England, to goe against the Indians Narragenset, and a declaration printed, which if I can find, you shall have it, but the poore Indians submitted to the English demaund: gave 500lb in there moneys, and 4 of their chiefest mens children for hostages, which are to be educated civilly: the ffrench towards the north threatened those plantations because the bay relieved one Monsr La Torre against Monsr La Donne,159 who having 4 men of war from France and 2 or 300 souldiers, besiedged La Torres fort, and tooke it, where he did put about 50 English and French to the sword. the bay sent an Embassador to Mr Le Donne, for to be at peace, but he returnes answeare, he will have satisfaction for iniuryes, and is not content, though he tooke a barque laden with provisions worth above 600lb., yet he promiseth not to meddle with them, till he heare from France. We have victuals here reasonable cheape, beefe at 2½d per pound, porke at 3d, wheat at 3s 6d, ry at 3s, Indian grayne at 2s 6d, pease and barley at 4s, and we hope things will be cheaper dayly. Cloathing is scarce, yet flax is sowen here in abundance, and hempe, likewise leather of all sorts increaseth dayly. in former years much cotton was spun here, but this last yeare none came from the West Indyes, so that if cloathing had not come from England, they had bin much streightned. they yearly build many ships, hoyes,160 catches,161 and go on with there fishing, I suppose they catch nigh 10000lb worth of codd, basse, and sturgeon, and some are about herrings and salmon which are plentifull here.
The country abounds with minerals, esp. Iron stone. we have discovered about 10 or 12 severall sorts, which I have sent to Mr Bucknar an apothecary at Bucklarberry162 and to Dr. Merrick163 dwelling there, where you may see them, if you please, and other stones, which promise better things, and I hope, will not deceive us, though yet we have made no experience of them. I doubt not (by the grace of God) but we shall prosper in Iron works, and make plenty of iron spedily. Truly, I suppose, that all things would prosper in this place, if they would give liberty of conscience, otherwise I expect nothing to thrive, and indeed the merchants here have had very great losses, and nothing goes on merrily, but every day we have breach upon breach, both in Church and Commonwealth, between magistrate, ministers people members non-members. and truly things cannot stand thus long but all will be [lost]. The non-members who are most in numbers, as rich and valiant [as] other thinke themselves enslaved here, not having liberty to bear office, or give a vote, in choosing either minister or magistrate, neither are they permitted to have ministers, as they thinke fitting, to have there children baptized or to receive the sacrament, though many have lived here many yeares and pay taxes (which here are very great) equall if not more than members, are prest for souldiers, and there goods taken on publicke faith by force (which is in worse credit here than in England). On the other side the members doe all at their pleasure, and from the premises you may draw a conclusion. The Colledge at Cambridge goes on indifferently well, every yeare some graduates proceed, the library pretty well filled with bookes, buildings encrease, the President hath a fair house newly built, likewise there is a Presse erected. I have bin there but once, and care not for medling with them, for truly I cannot doe anything cheerefully here, till things be better ordered in Church and Commonwealth. The winters here are very cold, nothing can be done comfortably without stoves, which God willing we shall procure next yeare. the summer is hot enough for vines, I suppose; Apples and Cherrys, Peaches, Apricocks, with all sorts of garden ware [?] flourish incredibly heere. Well, to conclude, the unseasonablenes of the weather causeth me to huddle up things rudely; but by my next expect things better ordered. I have sent diverse seeds to Dr Merrick, and shall yearly send more over to him, if I can doe you or any of your freinds any service here in that busines or any other pray let me beg imployment, and be so happy as to have some correspondence with you, that we may have some light in these dark corners. At this present with my love to you and all our freinds, I take my leave
Your loving freind Robert Child.
Mr. Winthrop the elder every day writes particular passages of the country in a great book which he freely communicates to any and saves me a labour in this kind, who intended the same busines. at Boston, which is the great towne in New England contayning about 400 familyes is lately erected a free schoole, by putting 40lb per annum upon the drawers of wine in this place, and other wayes. Mr. Leader, in whose house I soiourne at Boston, remembers his love to you, and desires to be excused for his neglecting writing according to his promise.
Yours Robt. Child.