A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at the house of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, No. 28 Newbury Street, Boston, on Thursday, 24 February, 1921, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Fred Norris Robinson, Ph.D., in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
The Corresponding Secretary reported that letters accepting Resident Membership had been received from Mr. George Hubbard Blakeslee and Mr. Frederick Lawton.
Mr. John Endicott Peabody of Brookline was elected a Resident Member.
Mr. George H. Haynes read a paper on “The President and the Senate,” speaking in substance as follows:
President Washington found himself brought into close association, in certain executive functions of great importance, with a Senate hardly larger than the Committee on Foreign Relations in the present Senate. Moreover, most of its members he had already known and gauged in military or legislative service.
Ten members — nearly half of those in attendance at the first session — had been members of the Constitutional Convention. For four months General Washington, as presiding officer, had watched the Constitution take shape under the hands of these very men who now, with him, were to put its powers into effect.
Seven of the senators had been officers in the Continental Army; among them were General Schuyler, one of the four major generals; Colonel Grayson, who had been one of General Washington’s aides, and Benjamin Hawkins, who for years had served on his staff as an interpreter. There were four men who had signed the Declaration of Independence. Of the twenty-six members, nineteen had sat in the Continental Congress or in the Congress of the Confederation. Association in so small a group made for intimate acquaintance, for accurate appraisal of each member’s ability and motives.
President Washington took with great seriousness everything which might result in establishing a precedent. Even his social relations with senators were arranged and scheduled after he had sought the advice of several trusted leaders.
At the opening of each session the President addressed Congress in person. These addresses were referred to committees. In the Senate, the committee’s report was debated at length, and then the Senate in a body waited upon the President at his residence, and its address was presented to him by the Vice President, whereupon the President made a speech of acknowledgment. This increasingly perfunctory ceremonial was not discontinued till Jefferson became President.
John Adams, first Vice President, as president of the Senate, took an active part in the deliberations of that body, interjecting his opinions into the debates, haranguing the Senate by the hour, and actively seeking to persuade individual senators to vote in accordance with his views.
Before the end of the First Congress, the twilight zone, in which lie the so-called executive powers of the Senate, had been pretty thoroughly explored. The Senate gave up its preference for the President’s presenting nominations in person, and it shifted from balloting to viva voce voting upon appointments.
Before four months had passed, President Washington was treated to the first sample of “senatorial courtesy” in the rejection of a thoroughly admirable appointment through the factional opposition of the senators from the appointee’s own State.
In the First Congress both House and Senate, after very protracted debate, gave their deliberate “practical construction” to the Constitution as vesting in the President an unrestricted power of removal, affording thus the precedent to which President Wilson referred in his veto of the Budget Bill (May 27, 1920), in which he declared: “It has, I think, always been the accepted construction of the Constitution that the power to appoint officers of this kind carries with it, as an incident, the power to remove.”
As to the treaty-making power, President Washington at first was of the opinion that in its exercise the Senate was merely a council to the President. He declared that “in all matters respecting treaties oral communications seem indispensably necessary.” But after one notable effort to put this theory into practice, the chilling reception which the Senate gave him led him to abandon personal conference over treaties. Thereafter his communications were by written messages, conciliatory in phrasing and framed with a view to call forth from the Senate serious advice upon complicated diplomatic problems before his own decision was taken. In the later years of his administration, however, he assumed more initiative, and submitted to the Senate treaties which were fully negotiated, and awaited only ratification.
But in these contacts between the President and the Senate it speedily became apparent that the adoption of the Constitution had brought no unanimity as to scope and apportionment of the powers which it warranted. The Constitution had been constructed — but it remained yet to be construed. It was plain that an era of party government had already begun.
On behalf of Mr. Edward K. Rand the following paper was presented:
Breaking waves on a stern and rock-bound coast, scarcity of Indian corn, plottings of murderous savages, the horrors of a New England winter, the horrors of a Puritanic profession, do not at first thought suggest a Golden Age. It is hard to detect the pleasant lights of the Muses and the Graces in a generation that cultivated the Bay Psalm Book; the Psalms of David might never have seen, as Cotton Mather averred, a translation nearer to the Hebrew original, — but though so near, yet, ah, so far! For all that, there flourished a little Golden Age at New Plymouth, and the reflection of it at Massachusetts Bay.
History has seen various Golden Ages. They occur whenever a nation, or lesser fraction of our poor humanity, after long shouldering of a cumbersome tradition, throws it off, and starts as blissfully on life’s way as a country-boy who sheds his shoes and stockings in the spring. Sometimes tradition cannot be simply tossed aside; it must be fought. Old Saturn, who supplied mankind with the least interrupted of Golden Ages, first had to fight the Titans down. Fifth-century Athens emerged into the light of art and letters after beating off the menace of Persia. A profusion of civil wars preceded the Augustan Age in Rome, and we, about to lie down with the lions and lambs of other pastures, — if some of our watch-dogs will kindly stop barking at friendly beasts — have come at least to the prospect of a Golden Age after a desperate fight. And so it was with our ancestors of Plymouth Plantation.
Now a Golden Age is, historically, not of long duration. The ray of pure celestial light, like that which shone on New Plymouth, or that which shone on Bethlehem, has to be caught in lanterns and guarded from the winds. In honor of the light, its casing is adorned with precious stones, which glow in the reflected splendor, and sometimes, at last, in their own. When this state arrives, the inner light flickers out, and the lantern may be thrown away. Yet sometimes the inner light burns; its casings protect it without diminishing its brightness. The round of Catholic festivals brings us the birth of the Holy Child once a year, as the joyous Roman feast absorbed by Christmas restored every year the good old days of Saturn, when all men were free and equal, and the bounties of earth were for all. In the same fashion, the days of the Mayflower and of Plymouth Colony became a sacred memory, the memory of a primitive and God-given simplicity, even before the century had passed.
There is a difference between the English and the American Puritan, as Barrett Wendell, in his Literary History of America, has brilliantly set forth. In the mother country, the new movement had to battle for its existence with ancient tradition. Its life was short, for the fittest survived. Puritanism left its mark; it contributed to a compromise. But the immediate effect of the Restoration, of the “glorious days when the King did enjoy his own again,” was reactive. On New England soil, Puritanism had no rival. There was no clash of opposing political forces. The seventeenth century was, in Mr. Wendell’s phrase, “a unique national inexperience.” Puritanism could thus keep true to type; its type grew peacefully till it went to seed. As there were no political upheavals, the literary ideals current at the time of the foundation of the New England colonies persisted without much change throughout the century. The Pilgrim Fathers were born Elizabethans; so were many of the colonists of Massachusetts Bay. Elizabethan style, so far as Puritans could apprehend it, was the normal means of literary expression. Mrs. Anne Bradstreet, who died in 1672 and, in the opinion of admiring contemporaries, wrested from Sappho the title of the Tenth Muse, was poetizing to the last in the vein of minor contemplative of the beginning of the century. Even Cotton Mather, to Mr. Wendell’s sensitive ear, writes at times “with a rhythmical beauty that recalls the enthusiastic spontaneity of Elizabethan English.”
Now, though tradition was thus more securely sheltered in the new England than in the old, it did not itself remain immutable. The spirit of the Pilgrims, being that of a Golden Age, incased itself in a protective covering. Its organization was, in essence, a theocracy. God was the ruler of a beautifully democratic group of men and women, who had all things in common and who needed no elaborate political machinery to carry on the business of the little state. A governor there was, a town meeting, a militia, but the workings of this organization were most simple. With the complications attending a larger society, the institutional element in this theocracy inevitably increased. It became formal and rigid. Pastors turned priests.
This movement may best be studied in the person of the greatest man — intellectually the greatest — of his times, one of those men who loom out in history as the mirrors of their times, Cotton Mather. He was, first of all, a prodigiously learned scholar. For the writing of his great essay in Church History, the Magnalia Christi Americana, he had studied all the ancient historians, both Christian and Pagan, of any note; as we shall soon see, he had studied the poets too. In turning over the Magnalia, I began to jot down the names of the Classical writers whom its author has either named or directly quoted, or whose phrases he has neatly woven into his own style, and found, first, that it would be easier to make a list of the authors that he had not read, and then that it can be stated still more simply, that he had read them all. He does not wear the weight of learning easily; the iron fingers stick out through the velvet glove. His temperament, too, is not altogether pleasant. That sixth sense of the man of his day, which, inbred for centuries as Christian humility, had assumed a new and awful aspect as the New England conscience, ill conceals the vanity of the scholar in his attainments; for as the all-wise Aristotle remarked, conceit sometimes takes the form of self-depreciation. But Cotton Mather’s learning is not pedantry. His instances and parallels from antiquity, though multitudinous, are apt. I wonder if posterity has done well in leaving unpublished, in the archives of the Massachusetts Historical Society, the work that he perhaps considered his greatest. In the Biblia Americana, Mather had accumulated the observations of years, “some thousands of charming and curious and singular notes,” as he puts it, for the better illumination of the Sacred Word. He had hoped, with a seemly and patriotic pride, to bid American scholarship take its place unabashed amongst its European peers. He had hoped, with due meekness, to “make unto the Church of God an humble tender of our Biblia Americana, a volume enriched with better things than all the plate of the Indies; yet not I, but the Grace of Christ with me.” I have not examined these volumes; perhaps those who have were not cheered by the contents. But I venture to predict, from what I can note in the Magnalia, that along with some rubbish, relics of the allegorical interpretation which from the earliest days of Christianity had hung like a cloud between Holy Scripture and the reader, there is sound and enlightening matter in this commentary; for its author, like not all Biblical scholars to-day, could scan the whole horizon of Classical antiquity, and worthily uphold the traditions of Melancthon, Scaliger, and Casaubon. He would doubtless have preferred the title of Protestant Scholar to that which Mr. Wendell confers on him, of Puritan Priest.
And yet a Puritan Priest he was. The Golden Age of Plymouth had run its course into an ecclesiasticism as solid as that of the Middle Ages. The Puritans of Mather’s day, if he may speak for them, had, first of all, no idea that they were establishing a political democracy. It was good old Colony times, when we were under the King. Mather speaks from the heart when he calls “our late Queen Mary” the “best Queen that ever was in the world,” and the Pilgrim Fathers, as he views them, were “very loth to lose their interest in the English nation; but were desirous rather to enlarge the King’s dominion.” Similarly, neither the Pilgrims nor the Puritans desired a break with the Church of England. Pastor Robinson, way back in Holland, had cautioned his followers that separation was by no means an inevitable part of their plan, and advised them to shake off the name of Brownist. Mather is even more emphatic. He stigmatized the followers of Archbishop Laud as “a party very unjustly arrogating to themselves the venerable name of the Church of England.” It is they who “deny the most essential things in the articles and homilies of the Church of England,” not “the most conscientious men in the world, who manifest their being so, by their dissent in some little ceremony.” The writer of these words could not have been disinclined to the doctrine of Apostolic Succession, — provided you run the line down to the proper points at this end, down to the Puritan-Priests. And yet a larger vision of a united Church inspires his hopes. He believes that the dream may come true. “Briefly,” he remarks, “as it hath been said, that if all Episcopal men were like Archbishop Usher, and all Presbyterians like Stephen Marshall, and all Independents like Jeremiah Burroughs, the wounds of the Church would be soon healed.” His essay, he adds, “is to carry this spirit through this whole Church History.” How wistful is this backward glance at Mediaeval uniformity!
It was thus a sort of Middle Ages into which Puritanism had passed. Mather, who would have relished the title of the man che il gran comento feo, was the Peter Lombard of the period. Its Aquinas was the Rev. John Norton, illustrious kinsman of the still more illustrious Charles Eliot Norton, who, despite the doubtings of a modern mind, was compelled by Fate and his own unerring taste to revert to type and worship at the shrine of Dante. Of the earlier Norton, Cotton Mather says, “He was not only a most accurate grammarian, — but an universal scholar; nevertheless ’t was as a school-man that he showed himself the most of a scholar.” And he tells of a chance that he had “to try the scholastic eminences whereto he was arrived, — when there was in these parts a French friar, who found in Mr. Norton, a protestant equal to his own school-men, and well acquainted with them all.” What a meeting! Papist and Puritan in amicable dispute, with cakes and ale, I doubt not, on the table.
The times of Cotton Mather mark an extraordinary reversal to the past, and an extraordinarily rapid development of the simple Mayflower community into the Holy Puritan Church. Christianity itself took thirteen centuries for the full fruition of this tendency. Our ancestors needed but three-quarters of a century for the same outcome. Americans have always hustled and made culture hum. I know not what the Pilgrim fathers would have thought of the change; possibly it might have seemed to them one of the ironies of history. If we glance on a bit farther, science came to its own in the age of Benjamin Franklin; by the eighteenth century, New England had caught up with the European procession. It had repeated, microcosmically, all the periods, with one exception, — the Renaissance. For that we look in vain, or for the hearty joy of living which throve quite as lustily in the Middle Ages as in the days of Poggio and Ariosto. New England culture was a flood of light, but precious little sweetness. It encouraged the fixities and eschewed the amenities of Mediæval life. Cotton Mather once refers to Chaucer, whom he calls “old Chaucer,” with a certain smacking of the lips; but had Chaucer dropped into early New England, he would have joined the company of Merrie Mount.
Now no period is so monochromatic that you cannot find dashes of other color in the prevailing shade. Merrie Mount was a dash of red amid the sombre hues. Those sons of Belial, the Westonians, were painters with like brush. A different sort of alleviation is the tender grace of Anne Bradstreet’s character, — a tolerant and receptive, and, when she writes prose, poetic soul, who could be tempted, momentarily, to doubt the verity of the Scriptures, to ponder the possibility of atheism, and even to wonder whether the Popish religion might not be right after its kind. Mather calls the poems of Anne Bradstreet “a grateful entertainment unto the ingenious.” The Puritans did find refreshment in certain kinds of poetry. For instance, the whole field of the ancient Classics was before them. They read most freely in the lively literature of antiquity, if Mather is a norm of his times, though touching not the lively literature of their own day; Latin grammar offered an incentive, long since lost to us. The writing of Latin verse was a natural accomplishment for a well-educated man, that is, for a graduate of Harvard College; it was lavishly poured forth in epitaphs and anagrams. Nor were the less edifying English poets completely ignored. Another Reverend Norton,—nephew of the former—read considerably outside the pale of what was considered wholesome literature for a Puritan. It is his descendant Charles Eliot Norton who caught him in the act. In his eulogy of Anne Bradstreet, there are, by courteous admission of the younger Norton, two poetic lines. But alas, these are borrowed property, and borrowed, furthermore, from a writer of sinful plays and other trivial verse, Francis Beaumont. After all, the exceptions that I have noted are of the kind that proves the rule. These little bits of good cheer are not numerous; they shine out because the background is dark.
The reader who is impatient for proof that the Pilgrims ushered in an Age of Gold, must bear with this prelude a bit longer. It is not well to arrive too speedily at a millennium. We shall be there presently, but we cannot leave Cotton Mather yet, as I need his authority to support what may seem an airy imagination on my part. For Mather, too, had a sense of a Golden Age, as he looked back on New England’s past. “The first age,” he remarks, “was the Golden Age; to return to that will make a man a Protestant, and I may add, a Puritan.” As he starts on his mighty theme, the great deeds of Christ in America, he lays down, in the fashion of Livy, the principles to which he subscribes in the writing of history. He views history as a series of great examples, and to make them shine with undiminished light, he quietly leaves out certain details that might spoil the picture. He writes of a race of heroes. “We the children,” he exclaims, “lament our degeneracy from such fathers.”
Cotton Mather’s Magnalia has been called the prose epic of New England Protestantism. Whoever coined the phrase indubitably caught the spirit of the work. He might have been yet more specific. As Mr. Wendell was bold enough to call Mather Elizabethan, we may be yet more audacious and claim him for a Virgilian. It really is surprising that in all the poems, Latin and English, Pindaric and anagrammatic, written in his honor before or after his death, nobody has called him the “New-English Virgil.” I think he somehow was expecting that title. For as he starts his work he feels that it is a second Aeneid, and takes from Virgil’s poem a slightly emended motto to display on his frontispiece; he will sing of the founding of a greater state than Rome:
Tantae molis erat pro Christo condere gentem.
I have spoken of the remarkable celerity displayed by our ancestors in foreshortening Christian history. Cotton Mather could reverse the process as he looked back on Plymouth days, and shoot them on farther to the Golden Age of Rome. As Virgil saw, after some experiment, that he could best sing of the greatness of his own times by laying his epic not there, but in the mythical origins of his race, — mythical in Roman events but real in Roman ideals — so Cotton Mather, I will not say makes myth of the coming of the Mayflower, but he transports that event in imagination into the world of the ideal. He remarks that the condition of the Plymouth settlers “was very like that of the Romans under Romulus, when every man contented himself with two acres of land.” And he starts off his account as though it were the Aeneid itself, with an Arma virumque cano. It is the history of an exile, a voyage, and a new Troy on a foreign shore. “I write the Wonders,” he declares, “of the Christian Religion, flying from the depravations of Europe, to the American strand.” He then sketches the plan of all the seven books of his epic, and thereto adds, “The reader will doubtless desire to know, what it was that
tot volvere casus
insignes pietate viros, tot adire labores,
His heroes are many, not one, but like Virgil’s hero, they are exceeding pious. Mather does not carry his analogy too far. He does not unmake primitive New England to fit his design. He does not, for instance, metamorphose Massasoit into a King Latinus, but every now and then he casts a Virgilian glamour over the narrative. The chapters of the book are provided with Latin mottoes, many of them aptly taken from Virgil, and there are incidental quotations in the text. One must note this series of Virgilianisms in order to appreciate the full flavor of satisfaction with which the author announces at the beginning of one chapter that he is going to sing, like Virgil in his Messianic eclogue, “a somewhat higher theme.” Paula maiora! He is turning from Plymouth Colony to “the essays and causes which produced the Second, but the largest colony of New-England.” No doubt where the hub of culture lay when Mather wrote these words! Boston, no longer known, he boasts, as “Lost-town,” had gravitated to the centre.
But it is high time for us to pass from Massachusetts Bay to the Golden Age of the earlier colony. I might illustrate its spirit, the beautiful and tender light of faith that the Pilgrims followed, by quoting from John Robinson or William Bradford or Edward Winslow. Theirs are plain words that without the help of art speak of deep experience, and thus at times approach the highest art of great simplicity. I will begin, rather, with the words of an outsider, one Master Higgeson, who in 1629 wrote a pamphlet entitled New-Englands Plantation. The little work won immediate favor; a third edition appeared in 1630. The author aims at a veracious description, and he describes a Golden Age, a land fertile in soil and rich in produce. I select but a few of the wonders that he chronicles.
In our plantation we have already a quart of milke for a penny: but the aboundant encrease of corne proves this country to bee a wonderment. Thirtie fortie, fiftie, sixtie are ordinarie here: Yea Joseph’s encrease in Aegypt is outstript here with us. — Our turnips, parsnips and carrots are here both bigger and sweeter than is ordinary to be found in England. Here are store of pumpions, cowcombers, and other things of that nature which I know not. And also divers excellent potherbs grow abundantly among the grasse, — and plentie of strawberries in their time, and pennyroyall, winter-saverie, sorrell, brookelime, liverwort, carvell, and watercresses, also leekes and onions are ordinarie, and divers physicall herbs. Here are also aboundance of other sweet herbs delightful to the smell, whose names we know not, &c. and plentie of single damask roses verie sweete. Excellent vines are here, up and downe in the woods. Our Governour hath already planted a vineyard with great hope of increase. . . .
For beasts there are some beares, and they say some lyons also; for they have been seen at Cape Ann. Also here are several sorts of deere, some where-of bring three or foure young ones at once — Also wolves, foxes, beavers, otters, martins, great wild cats, and a great beast called a molke as bigge as an oxe. I have seen the skins of all these beasts since I came to this plantation, excepting lyons.
These beasts, “lyons” included, do not seem dangerous; their purpose was to provide the colonists with furs or food. And food came from the good fish of the sea; indeed the fish stories are so tremendous that though I doubt them not, I can better illustrate our author’s veracity by omitting them. But the climate!
The temper of the aire of New-England is one speciall thing that commends this place. Experience doth manifest that there is hardly a more healthfull place to be found in the world that agreeth better with our English bodyes. —For here is an extraordinarie cleere and dry aire that is of a most healing nature to all such as are of a cold, melancholy, flegmatick, rheumatick temper of body. None can more truly speake hereof by their owne experience then my selfe.
The experience that he relates is thoroughly convincing; but we must hurry on. He ends with the reflection, “And therefore I thinke it is a wise course for al cold complections to come to take physick in New-England: for a sup of New-England’s aire is better than a whole draught of Old England’s ale.”
Master Higgeson perhaps had the reputation of a poet among his friends, or possibly was a pioneer in the art of advertising, crudely as that art was practised in those primitive times. To remove all doubts, Master Graves, an “Engynere,” adds a letter of corroboration, which begins: “Thus much I can affirme in generall, that I never came in a more goodly country in all my life, all things considered.” I need cite no more. One feels that all that is needed is a Latin Virgil to write the Georgics of these golden realms. Nor is one far to seek.
The Rev. William Morrell, an Episcopal clergyman, had attended Captain Robert Gorges, the son of Sir Ferdinando, in his ill-fated attempt to settle at Wessagusett on Massachusetts Bay in 1623. He had a commission from the Ecclesiastical Court in England to exercise a kind of superintendency over the churches of the colony. Gorges returned shortly, leaving Morrell behind at Plymouth, where he remained about a year, making inquiries respecting the country, but did not use his commission, or even mention it, till just before his departure. He had come to standardize the parishes and he remained to chronicle the Golden Age. He narrates its marvels in Latin verse that the editors of the first volume of the Massachusetts Historical Collections call “descriptive and elegant.” He also made a translation into English verse, which the same editors claim does not possess equal merit. This is true, but though it misses some of the substance and some of the Virgilian touches of the original, it puts in certain facts and certain allusions that are not there. It is partly a translation and partly a supplement. Published not later than 1625, the poem is, so far as I know, the first monument in the annals of New England verse, which at least starts propitiously under the auspices of Virgil. If the Magnalia Christi Americana is the Aeneid of New England, here is its Georgics. The poet thus begins:
Feare not poore muse, ’cause first to sing her fame,
That’s yet scarce known, unless by map or name;
A grand-childe to earth’s paradize is borne,
Well lim’d, well nerv’d, faire, riche, sweete, yet forlorne. . . .
Westward a thousand leagues a spatious land,
Is made unknown to them that it command.
Of fruitful mould, and no lesse fruitlesse397 maine,
Inrich with springs and prey high-land and plaine.
The light well tempred, humid ayre, whose breath
Fills full all concaves betwixt heaven and earth,
So that the region of the ayre is blest
With what earth’s mortals wish to be possest . . .
Oh happie planter, if you knew the height
Of planter’s honours where ther’s such delight;
There nature’s bounties, though not planted are,
Great store and sorts of berries great and faire:
The filberd, cherry and the fruitful vine,
Which cheares the heart and makes it more divine.
This description strikingly corroborates the words of Master Higgeson. The animals, too, all but the lions of Cape Ann, reappear.
Ther’s grasse and hearbs contenting man and beast,
On which both deare, and beares, and wolves do feast.
Foxes both gray and blacke (though black I never
Beheld) with muscats, lynces, otter, bever,
With many other which I here omit,
Fit for to warm us, and to feede us fit. . . .
The turtle, eagle, partridge, and the quaile,
Knot, plover, pigeons, which doe never faile,
And winter’s cold begets their old desire.
With these sweet dainties man is sweetly fed,
With these rich feathers ladies plume their head;
Here’s flesh and feathers both for use and ease
To feede, adorne, and rest thee, if thou please.
What a re-writing of history must there be on the strength of these lines! O tempora et mores Priscillae — quail-on-toast, feathered hats, and eiderdown quilts! No wonder the poet concludes
The place is compleat; here each pleasant spring,
Is like those fountains where the muses sing.
I failed to cite Master Higgeson on the fish of New England, partly for the reason suggested and partly to let the verse of the Reverend Morrell do ampler justice to one of the traditional glories of Massachusetts.
The prudent master there his ship may more,
Past winde and weather, then his God adore,
Man forth his shalop with three men to sea,
Which oft returne with wondrous store of prey;
As oysters, era-fish, crab, and lobsters great,
In great abundance when the seaes retreate:
Torteise, and herring, turbut, hacke and base:
With other small fish, and fresh-bleeding place;
The mighty whale doth in these harbours lye,
Whose oyle the careful mearchant deare will buy.
Our poet is leading up in climax from the whale to something mightier still:
Besides all these and others in this maine,
The costly codd doth march with his rich traine:
With which the sea-man fraughts his merry ship:
With which the merchant doth much riches get:
With which plantations richly may subsist,
And pay their merchants debt and interest.
The italics are not the poet’s, but their emphasis is. His tribute to the cod may be matched in the relation of Master Higgeson, and in the Magnalia the cod is given a position of much dignity and embellished with a Virgilian figure of speech. In deference to the totem of our forefathers, I will cite the above lines in the original Latin.
Ostrea curvatis conchis, conchasque trigones,398
Cete, etiam rhombos, sargos, cum squatina asellos.
His naves vastas onerat piscator honestus:
His mercator opes cumulat venerabilis almas,
His pius ampla satis faciat sibi lucra colonus.
Morrell concludes this part of the poem with the sentiment, —
Thus ayre and earth, both land and sea yeelds store
Of nature’s dainties both to rich and poore;
To whom if heavens a holy vice-roy give,
The state and people may most richly live:
And there erect a pyramy of estate,
Which onely sinne and heaven can ruinate.
The remainder of the work is taken up with the Indians, to whom Master Higgeson had also devoted several pages. Morrell writes of the Indians in as tranquil and detached a fashion as that in which Virgil tells of his bees. And thus he ends:
O blessed England farre beyond all sence,
That knowes and loves the Trine’s omnipotence,
In briefe survey here water, earth, and ayre,
A people proud, and what their orders are:
The fragrant flowers and the vernant groves,
The merry shores, and storme-astranting coves,
In briefe, a briefe of what may make man blest,
If man’s content abroad can be possest.
If these poore lines may winne this country love,
Or kind compassion in the English move;
Perswade our mightie and renowned state,
This pore-blinde people to comiserate;
Or painefull men to this good land invite,
Whose holy workes these natives may inlight:
If heavens grant these, to see here built I trust,
An English kingdome from this Indian dust.
Haec mea sublimis fuerint praesagia regni.
Dreams do not always come true. There is to-day no sublime and English kingdom located in Plymouth, and the Indian dust has long since blown away. Dis aliter visum. Yet we, the heirs of what the prophet did not see, may brighten our inheritance with his gift. Though the present moment in our country’s history may not seem bright, we may cheer us with an omen out of the past. It is something to trace New England’s lineage direct from the Golden Age.
Mr. Alfred Johnson read extracts from the manuscript “Annals of Belfast, Maine,” by William George Crosby. Mr. Crosby,399 a graduate of Bowdoin College, was born in Belfast in 1805; was the first Secretary of the Board of Education of Maine and laid the foundation of the State’s educational systern; and was Governor of Maine in 1853-1854. Among the selections read was the following description of a “raising” about a century ago:
It was regarded then just as much out of the question to raise a frame as it was to go through haying-time without rum; both were occasions when the use of that article for “mechanical purposes” was considered indispensable. If the building to be raised was a small one, a gallon of “Old Whiteface” answered the purpose, at a pinch. If it was a two-story dwelling-house the quantity was doubled; unless the raising was in a time of drought, when a still larger quantity was required. If the owner was reputed to be wealthy, or the building was of a public character, it was always found necessary to substitute for “Whiteface” a mixture called “rum-punch.” The approved recipe for this was “One sour, Two sweet, Four strong, Eight weak.” Half a dozen pailfuls would raise a dwelling-house, ell and barn; nothing less than a barrelful, per diem, would raise a meeting-house; as late as 1818 it required two barrelfuls to raise the Unitarian meeting-house; the compiler had to use two pailfuls to raise his barn; but that was in a very dry season.
Here is a fine frame,
Without any name,
And what shall we call it?
To which the other would reply in equally poetic language, but without answering the main question. After passing numerous questions and answers of the same character the frame would be “named.” Three cheers were then given, a parting cup taken, and that was the end of the ceremony. In the raising of a frame all services were rendered gratuitously.