A STATED Meeting of the Society was held, at the invitation of Mr. Alfred Marston Tozzer, at No. 7 Bryant Street, Cambridge, on Thursday, April 26, 1934, at half after eight o’clock in the evening, the President, Samuel Eliot Morison, in the chair.
The records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
The Corresponding Secretary announced the death of Harold Murdock, a Resident Member, on April 5, 1934.
The Corresponding Secretary reported that letters had been received from Mr. Hermann Frederick Clarke, Mr. Albert Harrison Hall, and Mr. Clarence Eldon Walton accepting Resident Membership in the Society.
The President appointed the following committees, in anticipation of the Annual Meeting:
To nominate candidates for the several offices,—Messrs. Kenneth Ballard Murdock, George Richards Minot, and Richard Ammi Cutter.
To examine the Treasurer’s accounts,—Messrs. George Pomeroy Anderson and Nathaniel Thayer Kidder.
Mr. Alfred Vincent Kidder, of Andover, was elected a Resident Member of the Society.
Mr. Lawrence C. Wroth read a paper entitled:
John Maylem: Poet and Warrior195
JOHN Maylem, of Newport, was a poet of small talent and a warrior of little distinction. But so strongly was he possessed by love of poetry and love of war that if we are to remember him at all it seems only fair it should be in terms of the lyre and the sword. After all, it is something to have fought for one’s country, and, throughout, to have conceived its battles as the stuff of epic verse.
It is necessary at the beginning of this story to remove a persistent misapprehension regarding the identity of John Maylem, the author of Gallic Perfidy and The Conquest of Louisbourg, to make it clear, in brief, that he was himself and not his father of the same name. It is affirmed in more than one work of standard reference that the poet was a graduate of Harvard of the Class of 1715 and that he died in the year 1742. These assertions have brought about confusion in the record of one who is chiefly remembered for two poems celebrating events of the years 1757 and 1758. The poet was, in fact, the son, namesake, and youngest child of John Maylem, the Harvard graduate. He was born in 1739, and disappeared from record in 1762 at the age of twenty-three years.196
It may not be regarded as too great an assumption to suggest that the family of the poet descended from the John Mylom, or Mylam, cooper, whose name early appears upon the list of Boston freeholders, and who, with Christian, his wife, was admitted into church-membership in 1635.197 The poet was the grandson of the Joseph Maylem, bricklayer, who died in Boston early in the year 1733, possessed of a respectable estate in houses and lots in that town and in the township of Nottingham, New Hampshire, a neighborhood with which he was also associated through the circumstances of his second marriage.198 This citizen, I believe, was the Joseph Maylem whom Judge Sewall, anything but amused at the memory, portrayed in his diary in the act of leading a Shrove Tuesday mummery on February 15, 1686/87. “Jos. Maylem,” wrote the Recording Angel of Boston, “carries a Cock at his back, with a Bell in ’s hand, in the Main Street; several follow him blindfold, and under pretence of striking him or ’s cock, with great cart-whips strike passengers, and make great disturbance.”199 Though this portrait does not manifest quite the degree of dignity we demand of ancestors, it is a pleasant picture just the same, its subject caught off guard in a moment of liveliness and fun. It may be, moreover, that this was Joseph’s last appearance as leader of the revels, for on the thirty-first of the eighth month, 1688, he was married in the First Church of Charlestown to Hannah, daughter of the Widow King of that place.200 Certainly, when he wrote his will a good many years later, he showed himself a staid character and a severe father to one of his three sons. After the death of Hannah (King) Maylem, who was, I believe, the mother of his children, Joseph, in 1715, took another wife in the person of Keziah Brackett, a native of Rye, New Hampshire, who remembered the experience of having been carried off in an Indian raid upon her father’s house in 1691, and ransomed only after four years of captivity, most of them, probably, spent in Quebec.201 John Maylem, the poet, recalling what he had been told of this far-off experience of his step-grandmother, must have thought sometimes in the course of his own arduous captivity among the Indians, some sixty-two years later, that history was repeating itself just a bit too consistently in the annals of the Maylem family. Keziah, the widow of Joseph Maylem, and, it is said, of an earlier husband named Patterson, died childless, or certainly with no surviving child, three days after March 3, 1733, the date of her will.202 She must have felt assured that she had performed well the task of mothering another woman’s children when, in the closing years of her life, her stepson John, of Harvard, gave her names to two of his own infants, calling a son Brackett and a daughter Keziah.203 Upon her death, however, her property went to her sisters and her nieces and nephews. Doubtless she felt that her husband’s children had been reasonably provided for through their paternal inheritance.204
John Maylem, father of the poet, was born, according to one authority, in the year 1695.205 He appears in the Harvard catalogues as a member of the Class of 1715, and after 1742 his name regularly carries the star which in the Triennials indicates decease. In the Boston Weekly News-Letter for Thursday, March 18–25, 1742, is found the following notice of the death, on March 13 of that year, of an individual whom we assume to have been this John Maylem: “New-Port, March 19. Mr. John Maylem of this Town and late of Boston, died here very suddenly last Saturday morning, and was decently inter’d the Monday following, and left behind him, a sorrowful Widow, three Daughters and one Son.” In the Boston Weekly Post-Boy, May 24, 1742, there is a notice regarding the settlement of John Maylem’s estate which introduces us to an important member of his family in these words: “All … that have Demands on the Estate of Mr. John Maylem of New-Port on Rhode Island, deceased, are… desired to send an Account… to Mrs. Ann Maylem, Widow Relict… and Administratrix on said Estate….”206
One acquires the impression that the life of this John Maylem, whose death we have just recorded, was undistinguished and something short of successful in the usual meaning of the word. Soon after his graduation from Harvard in 1715, he was married to Ann, a capable and fruitful helpmate whose maiden name, fragmentary evidence seems to suggest, was Dehane.207 The first of their nine children was born in Newport in 1721. We must assume that the young couple had recently taken up their residence in that town, for a year later one “John Maylem, Gentleman,” whom I believe to have been this John, in buying a proprietor’s right in Nottingham, New Hampshire, where he was later to inherit land, is still described as of Boston.208 The four different places named in the record of the births, baptisms, or burials of the children of John and Ann in their family Bible convince one that during the father’s lifetime the Maylems led an unsettled existence. We learn from it that, roughly from 1721 to 1729, the family lived in Newport; from 1730 to 1732, in Exeter and in Nottingham, New Hampshire; and from 1733 to 1739, in Boston, whence, we learn from other sources, the wanderers returned in 1739 to Newport for their final place of residence.209 In a deed by which in 1726 the father of the family conveyed lot No. 96 on Easton’s Point to Isaac Bowen,210 he is described as “John Malem, merchant,” the only existing indication of status in the years of his first residence in Newport. In the year 1729 we find him engaged in litigation with one John Bolitho, who had endorsed the note of an individual indebted to Maylem for the sum of £100.211 Soon afterwards, the family removed to Exeter, New Hampshire. Of his life in Exeter and in Nottingham nothing seems to be recorded except the birth of one child and the death of two, and a few evidences of transactions in land in those towns.212 I have not found, either, any vestiges of the six years’ residence in Boston which followed his removal from Exeter, except records of the birth of three children, among them the subject of this study, and the occurrence of an entry reading, “John Maylem, M.A. (3 copies),” in the list of subscribers to Thomas Prince’s Chronological History of 1736.213
When he returned to Newport in 1739, it seems clear that he intended remaining there, for on May 6 of the next year he was admitted by the Assembly a freeman of Rhode Island.214 He seems also to have given up at this time his land interests in other colonies, for on October 6, 1741, John Maylem and Ann, his wife, sold to Samuel Lowe, of Barrington, Massachusetts, properties in Falmouth and Sagadahoc, Maine, and in Exeter and Nottingham, New Hampshire.215 It is probable that these sales were made necessary by the need for capital in his Newport business. It does not seem, however, that, when Maylem died six months later, his final venture in Newport had attained success. In two petitions to the Rhode Island General Assembly, in 1744 and 1748, Ann Maylem recites that her late husband, “John Maylem, Distiller,” had been compelled to hire money for the operation of their still-house in Newport; that the sum involved, £800, had come into litigation after his death; and that his estate had been injured as the result of a court decision concerning it. She begged that a retrial of the case be ordered, but the fact that the second of her appeals is found among the “Voted Out” petitions of 1748 in the Rhode Island Archives attests the ill success of her prayer.216 In the record of this litigation, as so often happens in suits at law, the sharp line of cleavage between right and wrong is hidden from the normal eye by the mists of accountancy and legal procedure. But there exists a clear statement—from the point of view of Mrs. Maylem, certainly—of the events which brought the dispute into being. Late in 1742, or early in 1743, Mrs. Maylem published a broadside in which, with bitter conviction, she set forth to the world her side of the contention. The later history of the case, however, suggests that neither honesty nor depth of feeling on the part of the harassed administratrix was enough to affect favorably the decisions of judges and legislators. There appears here in facsimile this Short Narrative of the Widow Maylem, a document of importance in the history of the poet’s family.217
Other litigation arose in the course of Ann’s administration, in which she seemed usually to be the loser. One of the creditors affirmed in a statement to the court that the estate of Ann’s husband “is suppos’d not sufficient to pay the whole of all his Debts.”218 But in an unpublished poem of 1760, written on his twenty-first birthday,219 her son, the poet, intimated that he had that day come into a small estate, enough to enable him, he writes,
To live with Comfort, tho’ not vainly great.
Unless these words sprang from poetic license, they suggest that the family fortune had not been completely wiped out by the father’s death at the beginning of his new venture into the world of business. It may be that the poet had in mind the entailed house and lots in Boston left his father (see note 2, p. 90, above) by Joseph Maylem, his provident grandsire.
We know little more of either John, Sr., or Ann Maylem, though of Ann we have references of one sort and another that indicate her continued residence in Newport and a certain activity in affairs for many years after the death of her husband. In 1743, she was appointed guardian of her children; in 1745, she rendered an account of the administration of her husband’s estate; in 1766, she acted as one of the administrators of the estate of her sister, Rachel Greene, of Warren, Rhode Island; and in the next year, probably, she served in a similar capacity in the settlement of the estate of her son-in-law, William Gubbins, mariner, having previously, in August, 1766, been appointed guardian of his son Francis, whose mother, Frances Maylem, had died a few weeks after the child’s birth in January, 1751.220 Though John Maylem, the poet, in his birthday verses of 1760 apostrophized Ann Maylem as his “aged parent,” she must at that time have been a moderately active old lady. At any rate, as we learn from the gift inscription in the family Bible, she was alive as late as May, 1775, having borne nine children and outlived seven of them, shared the struggles of a restless and unsuccessful husband, and attended to the business of the family to the third generation.
The last entry in the Maylem Bible record of the children born to John and Ann Maylem reads as follows: “Anno 1739, April 30th, on Monday, at 8 in the evening, Born at Boston, our ninth child and third son, named John. Baptized May 6th, by Doctor Sewall.”221 The unpublished poem twice referred to in the foregoing paragraphs enables us to corroborate the exactness of this entry, for it is headed, “A Poem by John Maylem on his birth day 30th April 1760 being then 21 years of age.”222
THERE is no reason to suppose that the boyhood of John Maylem was spent elsewhere than in Newport, where his mother and sisters seem to have resided uninterruptedly after the death, in 1742, of the restless father of the family. We are without records of the poet’s boyhood, but there exist certain undated pieces of light verse, soon to be presented here, which may reasonably be regarded as proceeding from that period. The question of his schooling is of some interest because the only eighteenth-century reference to him that I have found in print praises his poetic efforts but bewails his defective education.223 From the character of the figures of speech and the references in his serious poems, however, one concludes that he must have had some contact with the training in history and the classics commonly given to the boys of his time. It is certain that he did not carry this training further by emulating his father’s career at Harvard College, for at barely seventeen years of age, John Maylem, of Newport, describing himself as “farmer,” enlisted in the army and for two years pursued a curriculum of a very different sort from that provided at Cambridge. But in one way or another, as schoolboy, farmer, or soldier, he acquired a decent knowledge of the laws of metrical composition and a smattering of the antique lore essential to the poet of his century. Whether a larger measure of formal education would have made him a greater as well as a smoother poet is matter too high for us to exercise ourselves in.
It is with plenty of assurance but with little evidence that I ascribe to the Newport boyhood of John Maylem the two poems now to be quoted—“To Miss Polly Turner” and “An Acrostick.” In the second of these the reader is introduced to Katy Malbone, a “Tender gentle tim’rous Maid,” who seems to have possessed that combination of positive and negative qualities connoted by the sentimental phrase “sweet sixteen”; and the only Catharine Malbone who fits the conditions of time and place was a girl of “sweet sixteen” in the year 1753, when John Maylem was a boy of fourteen years. Furthermore, and here is evidence of a sort that cannot be weighed, it is a literal truth that in these two poems we have our only pleasant remains of the pen of John Maylem. Never after the grim experiences of his first year of war does he seem to have directed that pen to anything except the epic strain, satire, coarse comedy, or the verse of disillusionment. I hope the readers of these two undated poems agree with me in thinking that they are the poet’s witnesses to a boyhood of normal happiness.224 The first of these playful exercises reads as follows:
To Miss Polly Turner225
On playing with her at Bo-peep by throwing up and letting fall the window, (living directly opposite each other).
P aphian Goddess, once again
O pe the window as before
L et me whisper o’er my pain
L anguish, sigh, in am’rous Train
Y ou are the Beauty I adore.
U pon your celestial face
R avish there my fair Melinda
N ight and morning I will Gaze
E ver constant to attend ye
R apt in Love’s Ether’al blaze.
There is no doubt that for us the charm of this rather labored little piece lies in the naïveté of its title. In another of the same sort, however, are found in particular measure the qualities of simplicity, playfulness, and spontaneity. It is addressed to Miss Katy Malbone.
An Acrostick by John Maylem
K–ind good natur’d, debonair
A nd in ev’ry virtue rare
T ender gentle tim’rous maid
Y outhful am’rous—but afraid
M ade of all that’s soft and airy
A ll that’s pretty light and merry
L ight in carriage—light in mien
L ittle pretty flutt’ring Queen
B less me! but I have not writ
O f her beauty sense or Witt
N or her modest free deport—
E xcuse me Miss—your name’s too short.
One wonders whether the charming combination of qualities possessed by Miss Malbone was the happiest for her prospects. She reached the age, ripe for that period, of twenty-seven years before her marriage, in 1764, to Mr. Major Fairchild.226
A later Newport poet, Joseph Brown Ladd, has left us a sharp criticism of acrostics as a literary diversion in a couplet which reads:
But all agree, this maxim to recite
Who writes acrostics, nothing else can write.227
Happily John Maylem outgrew the habit of entertaining himself and his friends with acrostics, or else his case gives the lie to Ladd’s assertion, for it is certainly true that he could and did write other things.
For reasons that are difficult to define, one is inclined to believe that the lines on Newport, here printed for the first time, also proceed from the boyhood years of John Maylem, even though they are notable for a satirical spirit the reverse of subtle which marks and mars so much of his later work. This satire on the Rhode Island town seems to have been composed as a species of dialogue; the last and rhyming words of most of its lines are terse and rude monosyllabic comments by an interlocutor upon the statement contained in the forepart of the line.
Description of the Town of New Port Rhode Island by John Maylem a native of it228
A Town laid out ten furlongs—good
With houses like the people—wood
Save here and there an Edifice
of Brick and Stone and Mortar, yes.
a Goodly Church of Cedar So!
Two Presbyterian meetings poh!
a Quaker house with Stables ah!
Two anabaptists ditto la!
a Dancing School and Town house hie!
a Synagogue of Satan fie!
a Castle too, a building where?
G-d d—n you Sir! why in the air.
A Gallows too without the City
to hang all rogues but theirs, o Pity!
One would not say that these lines indicate great satisfaction on the part of Maylem with the town in which his boyhood was spent, but as the story progresses it will be seen that none of the towns in which he lived gave him happiness. Though he changed his skies more than once, he was never able to change the bitter heart within him.
There once existed another poem by John Maylem, more elaborate than these which have been quoted, which belongs to the poet’s boyhood. The Conquest of Beauséjour, written by him at the age of sixteen, celebrates the victory in Acadia of colonels Monckton and Winslow in June, 1755. Unfortunately this poem has been lost to us. No copy of it is known to exist, nor is it known in what form it attained publication.229
THE poem mentioned at the conclusion of the preceding section, The Conquest of Beauséjour, is significant in that it points the way to the two interests which were to fill the remainder of Maylem’s life. The French and Indian War, covering roughly the years 1754 to 1763, began in his fifteenth year and was still in progress at the time of his disappearance from record in 1762. His earliest part in it was to sing in the poem on Beauséjour its first strategic victory; but singing of battles did not entirely relieve the patriotic emotion in young Maylem’s breast. A year later, 1756, he took himself to Boston and enlisted for active service. In a descriptive list, dated Fort Edward, July 26, 1756, of Captain John Stebbing’s company in the regiment of Colonel Timothy Ruggles is found the name of “John Mailem,” of Newport, with his designation as quartermaster, and his description as a native of Boston, seventeen years of age, and a farmer by occupation.230 On various muster rolls of companies in the Crown Point expedition of 1756 and 1757, he is found listed at different times as quartermaster, private, and ensign.231 In the return of officers of Colonel Joseph Frye’s Massachusetts regiment present at the capitulation of Fort William Henry on August 9, 1757, is the name of “Ensign John Maylem.”232 In a petition of April 28, 1758, for two months’ advance pay, presented by nineteen captains of companies fitting out for the Canada expedition, appears again the name of “John Maylem.”233 The occurrence of his name in this petition is the only official record of his promotion to the rank of captain and the only documentary evidence we have that he went upon, or intended going upon, the Louisbourg expedition. Four years later his name was to be found among the Rhode Island soldiers enlisted for the campaign of 1762. With that enlistment our knowledge of him comes to an end.
This is a brief statement of John Maylem’s career in arms. To a small extent it is possible to fill in the blank spaces of his military record with details of a vital nature, for he has left in verse the story of his actual experience in one of the campaigns of the war, and has described another from what was probably the standpoint of personal observation. It was his fate to be an officer of that defeated garrison which one memorable August morning marched through the gateway of Fort William Henry straight into the ambush prepared for it by Montcalm’s Indians. The story of that fearful onslaught, of his own capture and escape from the general massacre, his sufferings on the march to Canada, his captivity at Montreal, his ransom from the Indians, and his eventual exchange form the matter of the best-remembered of his poems. Gallic Perfidy, by John Maylem, Philo-Bellum, published by Benjamin Mecom, of Boston, in 1758,234 is a narrative in blank verse surcharged with anger, bitterness, and the desire for revenge upon what the author believed had been an act of black treachery by the French commander. Its opening lines are an earnest of the anger and hatred with which it is filled. It is in keeping with the whole piece that in these lines the author adjures the Furies rather than the sacred Nine to inspire his song:
I Who, of late, in Epic Strains essay’d,
235And sung the Hero on Acadie’s Plains,
Dreadful in Arms, and Vest of Tyrian Hue,
With Laurel-Wreath, and mighty Conquest crown’d
In equal Numbers still attempt to sing;
But yet in rougher Strain, for softer Rhyme
Seems not adapt to this my solemn Theme.
Not how the Gaul and swarthy Foe approach’d,
And first assail’d the Fortress; nor what pass’d
In the dread Interval of eight Days Siege:
I mean to sing but Breach of plighted Faith,
And Violation of the sacred Laws
Of Nature and of Nations; with th’ Event,
The dire Event and fatal Consequence,
Attendant on the Foes perfidious Breach
Of solemn and capitulated Terms.
Amazing Perfidy! ….
… Not to invoke
A vulgar Muse.—Ye Powers of Fury lend
Some mighty Phrensy to enrage my Breast
With solemn Song, beyond all Nature’s Strain!
For such the Scene of which I mean to sing.
Enough! I rave!—the Furies rack my Brain!
I feel their Influence now inspire my Song!
My lab’ring Muse swells with the raving God!
I feel him here! my Head turns round! ’twill burst!
So have I seen a Bomb, with livid Train,
And fraught, full fraught with Hell’s Combustibles,
Lay dreadful on the Ground; then with a Force
Stupendous, shiver in a thousand Atoms!
Turning to the conclusion of the poem, we read the young soldier’s promise that if given a command, he would himself, despite his youth, track and destroy the savage enemy:
O Chief in War! of all (young) Albion’s Force,
Invest me only with SUFFICIENT Power;
I (yet a Boy) will play the Man, and chase
The wily Savage from his secret Haunts;
Not Alpine Mounts shall thwart my rapid Course;
I’ll scale the Craggs, then, with impetuous Speed,
Rush down the Steep, and scow’r along the Vale;
Then on the Sea-Shore halt; and last, explore
The green Meanders of eternal Wood!
There is little detail found in Gallic Perfidy for the comfort of the military historian. It is too subjective a piece for that use. Nor are its merits as verse sufficient to give immortality to its lines. But it is a moving piece of writing, a clear, downright, and vivid expression of feeling by one who in his own person had suffered the shock and bodily pains of that tragedy in the wilderness south of Lake George. It is a speaking witness to the emotions of those who had parts in the play.
The poem is dated March 10, 1758, some seven months after the disaster which formed its theme.
THROUGH an unexpected set of occurrences, it becomes possible to add detail of a most interesting character to John Maylem’s story of his captivity. In order to do this we must advance abruptly in time to the year 1869. In the pages of the magazine Notes and Queries (4th Series, iv, August 7, 1869, pp. 114–115) appears this romantic communication:
Descendants of Lieutenant Wade and Ensign Maylem.
Je crois être agréable à vos lecteurs, en leur faisant part d’un trait d’humanité bien naturel aux grandes âmes, mais encore assez rare de nos jours, de la part d’un aïeul d’un de mes compatriotes, habitant comme moi la ville de Tours.
Jean-François de Martel, actuellement inspecteur des domaines à Tours, serait heureux de savoir s’il existe en Angleterre des descendants des deux officiers dont il est question dans ce récit.
Votre estimable feuille, en publiant cette lettre dont je n’ai voulu rien changer quant au fond ni à la forme, et qui est une pièce authentique, fera un grand plaisir aux descendants de Jean-Baptiste-Grégoire Martel le bienfaiteur, et je n’en doute pas aux officiers Simon Wade et John Maylem qui ont reçu le bienfait.
Le Conservateur de la Bibliothèque de Tours.
Tours, ce 22 juillet 1869.
“To all Land and Sea Officers, Civil and Military, and all People of the English Nation, Greeting.
“It is with the greatest pleasure and satisfaction we write this memorial, which, from the deep sense we have of the obligations we lay under to Monsieur Martel, induces us in point of gratitude to pay our sincere acknowledgements for the many favours received from him and family; the occasion of which, in as few words as possible, we shall relate:—
“Doubtless, Gentlemen, you have had intelligence of the transactions upon the surrender of Fort William Henry on Lake Huron [sic]. We were two of those whose fate it was to fall into the hands of the savages, contrary to the articles of capitulation, wherein we were to march off with all the honours of war, under an escort of a large body of French regulars, to Fort Edward; but they being under no command, we were hurried off by them and brought prisoners to Montreal, and kept by them without the city upon the green for the space of two or three days. During which time Monsieur Martel, with indefatigable labour, applied himself very closely to procure our redemption, sticking at no pains where he had any glimpse or prospect of procuring our releasement; and even interested himself so far in the affair as often to endanger himself, with no other view, as we have since found, than purely to regain us our liberty; which we [sic] had no sooner accomplished, but his lady in a sedan [sic] he conducted us to his house, where we were in the best manner clothed and entertained to the extent of everything the place could afford, until he procured us a room, and provided for us in a very decent and genteel manner, giving us daily instances of his favours, limited not to us only but extended to all the other officers that were before and afterwards taken in the same manner as ourselves. Nor did his generosity rest until even the meanest soldier had sensibly felt the liberal dealings of his hands.
“From all which, with a variety of other instances of his kindness we could mention, would earnestly recommend it to you gentlemen, if it ever should be his or any of his family’s fate through chance or the fortune of war, to be in our condition, you would treat him in such a manner as might give them occasion to speak in the same language of us as we do with pleasure now of them.
“We are sure no true Englishman, who by nature are [sic] heroic and generous, would misuse a prisoner because he was so unlucky as to fall into his hands, and certainly a gentleman by nature—a foe to our country—whose generosity has laid us under such infinite obligations to him, can never meet with too much civility and respect.
“Yr most Obedient Servants,
“Simon Wade, Lieutenant
“Montreal, August 25, 1757.
“John Maylem, Ensign
“Captn in the
“New Jersey Regiment”236
So far as later issues of Notes and Queries show, M. Martel’s attempt to get in touch with the descendants of the two Americans to whom his ancestor had been benefactor was entirely in vain, but we are grateful to him for indulging the sentimental impulse which brought to view and record this knightly episode in the midst of a cruel war.
FIRST called upon to rejoice over the conquest of Beauséjour, then to mourn the tragedy of Fort William Henry, Maylem’s muse was not to be denied another pæan of victory. In July, 1758, the fortress of Louisbourg fell before the united British and colonial forces, and soon thereafter there appeared in Boston The Conquest of Louisbourg, by John Maylem, who again on the title-page added to his name the epithet “Philo-Bellum.” This piece, the third and last of his poems of war, is in the high-flown manner of its writer’s period. In heroic couplets, its 358 lines relate the general preliminary steps of the expedition, sing the praises of the leaders, and describe the assaults by which the victory was attained. It is more conventional in matter and smoother in construction, but less spontaneous, less genuine, indeed, than the earlier poem in which he proclaimed the personal and public injury resulting from the massacre at Fort William Henry.237
The evidence of Maylem’s actual participation in the Louisbourg campaign is not conclusive. There exists the petition of the nineteen officers already referred to, showing that in April, 1758, he was preparing to go upon the Canada expedition as a captain in the Massachusetts forces,238 but with that the record of his part in the expedition ceases. His poem on that event, furthermore, is entirely without personal reference, and, as far as its incidents are concerned, it could easily have been written upon the basis of reports contained in the gazettes of the action. But there is evidence of another sort that helps to persuade me he was present at that notable victory. Again we turn to the manuscript remains of the poet rather than to official records. One of the vexations of that campaign was the long period of inactivity the colonial forces were compelled to undergo at Halifax, the rendezvous of the expedition. The following lines on Halifax, then a semi-military colony less than ten years old, are replete with savage criticism of the place and its people and seem to spring from the personal experience of their writer. They form another, and the most bitter, of those satirical pieces which Maylem composed from time to time at the expense of cities in which he found himself bored.
Satire on Halifax in Nova Scotia239
The Dregs of Thames & Liffy’s sable stream
Danubian rubbish and the Rhine’s my theme
Of them I sing, the Rebble vagrant rout
base emigrants that Europe Speweth out
their Country’s bane, such traitrous scoundrel crews
torn from the Goals [sic], the Gallows & the Stews
from Europe’s plains to Nova Scotia’s woods
transported over the great Atlantick floods
in shoals they come and fugitive invade
the horrid gloom of Halifax’s shade
Oh Halifax! the worst of Gods creation
Possest of the worst scoundrels of Each nation
Whores, rogues & thieves the dregs and skum of vice
bred up to villany, theft, Rags and Lice
proud upstarts here tho starved from whence they come
just such a scoundrel pack first peopled Rome
Send them to hell & then they’ll be at home.
I do not know of any occasion in Maylem’s short life in which he might have visited “the horrid gloom of Halifax’s shade” except at the time of the Louisbourg expedition, so that his vindictive description of that northern outpost assumes some importance in our story as probable evidence of his presence at the siege which he celebrated in exalted strains.
IT is difficult to be sure of Maylem’s movements immediately following the publication of his Louisbourg poem in the later months of 1758, but not long after that event he seems to have moved himself and his literary ambitions to the city of New York, where he lived from some time before June, 1759, until October, 1760.240 It is not certain whether his purpose in going there was the pursuit of literature or the pursuit of commerce, but it is unhappily true that he pursued neither to good effect. He left that city with but two coppers in his pockets after nearly two years of residence, and the only known results of his literary activity in those years are three unpublished poems of small merit. The first of these is an undated piece entitled “John Maylem’s directions to his Taylor in New York,”241 in which, with unnecessary particularity, he urges “Mr. Allen” to observe certain directions in the making of his clothes. Another is the piece mentioned earlier in this paper, “A Poem by John Maylem on his birth day 30th April 1760”;242 and the third is “The Daw & Peacocks, a Tale,” which we mention later without too much praise.243 But despite the poverty of his achievement, his life in New York was not dull, though for his sake we might wish it had been so. Something of the nature of his interests and companionships is to be learned from the following exchange of literary cut and thrust between the poet and a pseudonymous personage calling himself “Blanco”:244
Livingston’s Manour 2d June 1759
Let me tell you you are wicked and profligate at no allowance and that you are totally deficient of that capacity for Poetry and Litterature your senseless Countrymen have innocently flattered you with.
You are vain stupid arrogant mean pitifull Louzy very Louzy Sharping and poor as Job and will certainly continue so till you know yourself for an ass.
Pray take this friendly hint
To Mr. Maylem to be left at Mr Roome’s
Maylem’s reply to this little garner of spiteful epithets has been preserved to give us a glimpse of his sharp wit and his skill in the use of the logical processes. After reading it, one would say that such readiness in the art of vituperation must ordinarily have provided something of a protection to a poet with a sensitive nature.245
N. Y. June 15 1759
Nothing more excites my Pity, than to see the inveterate malice spite and envy of your Littleness who omits no opportunity to convince me that I am grown popular. You write me half a dozen letters, at half a dozen different times, disguis’d in half a dozen different names & hands, and by the date of your last, my fame has spread to Livingston’s manor—would any person that thought me a d—d fool, take all this pains to convince me of it? poring over and murd’ring half a dozen pages for Clarissa’s & Clarinda’s to adapt ’em to your inimitable nonsense.— your last conclude[s] “and poor as Job, and will everlastingly continue so till you know your self for an ass” i e (I suppose) when I know myself for an ass I shall be rich, but while I know myself the contrary, I shall be poor, very poor—as poor as Job—But (please your Littleness) if none but asses get money you are certainly very rich—I know they are lab’ring beasts—But—a—would it not be much better if your Littleness (instead of making your country men who are all rich a common weal of asses) to Sophisticate those only so that are poor?—faith If I’m to be rich upon no other terms than being your brother ass—I had rather be as poor as Job, and everlastingly continue so—Pray your Littleness next time you write, Stick a needle in your nose and look Sharp.
Your Littleness by enquiring at the Coffee house … [may] have an answer to your feign’d Clarissa’s request, wrote246 days ago
rem — yr Littlenesses most &c.
To His Littleness
to be left at Mr Smiths Coffee House
Even if we may not take Blanco’s aspersions as based upon fact, it becomes evident from the letter about to be quoted that young Maylem went the pace during the year and a half or more of his New York residence. I have not found, except in the three inferior poems already mentioned, indications of any literary activity on his part that might provide a degree of compensation for his irregular and aimless life. One of these pieces, the birthday poem of April 30, 1760, is a feverish mixture of sense and obscurity, overlaid by a quality of gloom that seems more authentic than that which was often artificially engendered through the cult of melancholy then fashionable in English verse. His reflections in this poem on a wasted life and the grave do not seem, however, to have been marks of conversion, for it was several months afterwards that his dissipations reached their turning point in the events related in the following letter:247
I take this opportunity to avow my gratitude to you and your wife, in a most sincere manner for the many favours receiv’d when reduc’d to the most contemptible state of indigence, & should tax myself with the highest injustice, was I deficient in making my acknowledgements.
That unlucky afternoon when I came home to your house with my senses totally absorb’d in Liquor, prov’d one of the luckiest in my life—I awoke next morning in such a shocking condition, that to have any Idea of my situation you must form a picturesque of the horrors of the damn’d. I got up, & without seeing any one, ran directly to Whitehall, embark’d in the ferry boat & in 2 days (solely on foot) arriv’d at Philadelphia, with all the horrors of indigence and poverty having but 2 coppers in my pocket, & ate nothing for 36 hours & laying in the woods one night.—I determin’d to put an end to my being & striking farther into the woods, took out the shirt out of my pocket & fixing a noose in each sleeve, make [sic] a slip, hung one of the nooses on the remainder of a broken bough & stretching open the slip thrust my neck in & swung off—when the cloth giving way I came with a full sweep upon the ground the shirt being rent fairly in two—I began then to reflect with all the horror of suicide & could scarcely help thinking it otherwise than an interposition of divine Providence—however I made good use of it—refrain’d from all intemperance, alter’d my conduct & have since enjoy’d a tranquillity to which I have been a stranger this many years; my principles of religion however is not alter’d in regard to what they were but yet allowing there was no such thing as futurity yet the pleasures of a temporal life by the 3 weeks experience I have had can make of earth a heav’n.
I went into the city, found several of my friends—embark’d for R I where I am now arriv’d—& shall settle immediately into some steady Business.
Beg Mr J–s–phs–n you will be kind enough to deliver Mr Hawxhurst, that favour of the bag wig which you was kind enough to present me—he will see it safely convey’d me—mine is all off my head—& I am (you know) little able to buy—the favour will be gratefully acknowledged among the already innumerable receiv’d by
Yr very much oblig’d
Hope your books prove right—pray mention nothing to no one concerning that same hanging affair, you are (except myself) the only person in the world that knows it—pray Mr J–s—n send the wig
due respects to yr spouse Mr J–d–h & his Spouse Mr Hawxh—will send the wig by Capn Gibbs with my lac’d hat—which is at Taylors, an odd place to leave a hat—as bad as to leave a watch at a Shoemakers
Newport 15 Octr 1760
vessel just going off
THERE remain but two more events to be noticed in the annals of this frustrated life. On May 19, 1761, there appeared in the Newport Mercury the poem already mentioned in which Maylem satirizes the city of his birth. It is entitled “The Boston Sabbath,” and in the manuscript version in the Du Simitière Papers reads as follows:248
The Boston Sabbath
In ancient Days ’twas God’s most sacred will
T’ expound his laws, on Sinai’s lofty hill
Whose Top terrific, issu’d clouds of Smoke
and thus amidst the flames, the Great Eternal Spoke;
Six days, (said God and loud the same express’d)
Shall men still labour, on the Seventh Rest
But here alas! in this great pious Town,
Th’ annul this law; and thus prefer their own;
“and let it be enacted further still,
“that all our people strict observe our will
“Five days & half, shall men and women, too
“attend their business, and their mirth pursue,
“but after that no man without a fine
“shall walk the Streets; or at a tavern dine,
“one day & half ’tis requisite to rest
“from toilsome labour and a luscious feast;
“henceforth let none in peril of their lives,
“attempt a journey; or embrace their wives;
“no barber, foreign, or domestic, bred,
“shall once presume to dress a lady’s head;
“no Shop shall Spare, preceding Sabbath day
“a yard of Ribbon or an ounce of Tea;
“five days & half, th’ Inhabitants, may ride,
“all round the Town, & villages beside;
“but if thro’ chance, they lose their destin’d Road,
“Tis our Command, they lodge that night abroad,
From hence ’tis plainly seen how chang’d indeed,
That Sacred Law, which God himself decreed;
In this one act, they think to merit Heaven,
by taking half a day from Six & adding it to Seven.
On the roster of the Rhode Island troops enlisted for the campaign of 1762 appears the name of John Maylem.249 Fewer than half the Rhode Island men who joined the attack upon Havana in that year returned to their homes after that successful but costly expedition; and because we never afterwards find the name of John Maylem in record, or attached to book or poem, it naturally occurs to us as an explanation that the poet and warrior was among those who in the course of the West Indian campaign paid the price of their zeal.
Except for the two long pieces, Gallic Perfidy and The Conquest of Louisbourg, there is not much in the poetical remains of John Maylem to detain the critic of literature. There is nothing so unprofitable as conjecture of the “might have been” in the case of poets who die young. But of him it can be said that he possessed an ardent spirit as man and poet, and that his poems of war touched something in the hearts or minds of his contemporaries. The ill-natured and anonymous Blanco, whose letter has been quoted, gives us unwittingly a glance at contemporary opinion in his gibing words: “… you are totally deficient of that capacity for Poetry and Literature your senseless Countrymen have innocently flattered you with.” The reprinting of one of the long poems, and probably of both of them, at Newport in 1775, and of both at an unknown place in the early nineteenth century is evidence that in the opinion of immediately succeeding generations, they were not without effectiveness.250 A later poet, and fellow-townsman, Joseph Brown Ladd, recorded a youthful memory of Maylem’s verse in the couplet:
Such warmth of fancy, once a Maylem fir’d
Untaught he sung, by all the muse inspir’d.251
Appended to these words is Ladd’s note: “John Maylem was a poet of genius, who lived not many years since. His productions bear every mark of a deficient education; but his genius rose superior to every inconvenience, and he remains a shining example of the Horatian maxim, that ‘Poeta nascitur non fit.’” The author of this encomium was born in Newport in 1764 and lived there until his removal to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1783. It is good to know that a boy growing up in Newport in the generation following Maylem’s disappearance from record should still have heard the echoes of his verse and have thought it inspired. And whatever one’s personal definition of genius, it is good to know that the only eighteenth-century reference found in print to John Maylem’s poems was, in intention, one of high commendation.
The Unpublished Works in the Du Simitière Collection of Maylem Papers
THE Maylem Papers in the Du Simitière Collection in the Library Company of Philadelphia, all but two pieces unpublished, comprise the following poems and letters, arranged in what I suggest as an approximation to chronological order:
- 1. Acrostic—Polly Turner.
- 2. Acrostic—Katy Malbone.
- 3. Description of Newport.
- 4. Satire on Halifax (printed in E. A. and G. L. Duyckinck, Cyclopaedia of American Literature, i. 432).
- 5. The Daw & Peacocks, a Tale.
- 6. A Poem by John Maylem on his birth day.
- 7. John Maylem’s directions to his Taylor.
- 8. Letter from Blanco to Maylem.
- 9. Letter from Maylem to Blanco.
- 10. Letter from Maylem to Mr. Harris.
- 11. Letter from Maylem to Mr. Josephson.
- 12. The Boston Sabbath (printed in the Newport Mercury, May 19, 1761; re-printed in the New England Quarterly, June, 1934. See note 1, p. 108, above).
- 13. The Birdiad.
In the following pages is given either a description or a full quotation of such of these as have not already been dealt with.
“The Daw & Peacocks, a Tale” is a labored, silly anecdote, comprising four pages of written ordure. It is interesting as an example of the sort of thing that amuses a few of every era, and that in the eighteenth century amused many. In reading it one recalls how muddy the waters of mirth can be in youth and charitably keeps in mind the youth of its author. Its interest does not seem sufficiently great, even from the antiquarian standpoint, to demand its reproduction.
“A Poem by John Maylem on his birth day 30th April 1760 being then 21 years of age” is the farewell to the world of a disillusioned, unhappy youth who seemed to be assured of his early demise. Much of it is obscure, most of it is commonplace, and a deal of it verges upon bathos. What there is in it of biographical value has been extracted for the purposes of the foregoing sketch. The remainder does not seem of sufficient importance to justify its printing here. Much of this poem may have been the usual Weltschmerz of youth, much the fashionable poetic melancholy, but having read Maylem’s letter of October, 1760, to Mr. Josephson, one feels in the poem a mannered but none the less genuine expression of the emptiness of heart, disappointment, and sense of futility that later engulfed him when, after a drinking bout, he actually tried to hang himself in the Pennsylvania forest.
“John Maylem’s directions to his Taylor in New York” is a bit of playful verse of some antiquarian interest, but hardly deserving of withdrawal from its manuscript obscurity. A part of it, however, may serve to gratify the curiosity of those interested in the details of male costume in New York in the year 1760.
Be kind enough to observing [sic] ye following Directions in my Cloaths viz:
My Coat made a la mode—Paris
to reach in length below the Knee
Short waisted with a mighty Cuff
as big full cut as Frenchman’s muff
(not such as worn by modern asses
For current mode and Fashion passes—
which makes their elbows look by G–d
If as [sic] they’d wash’d em in soap sud)
Five buttons on it close in a row
Five on the Pocket flaps below
a very modish pocket Flap
full trim d’ y’ see with hair & shape
Such as may give important air
when I to Coffee house repair
To make me look as fierce as Caesar
and then a pretty girl to please Sir
. . . . .
Five Buttons to each Knee as Sir
you made ’em for me twice before
and in all things keep due proportion
and I shall be at your direction.
“To Mr. Harris in the Fields” is a letter full of recondite allusions of a bawdy character. Further reference to it seems to be unnecessary.
“The Birdiad” should be allowed to tell its own story. I have not been able to identify the Jonathan Bird who was the object of this savage attack in retaliation, this assault with a bludgeon that sometimes took on the qualities of a rapier. Indeed, the only person of that surname that I find in Newport in this period is Nathaniel Bird, who was made a citizen of the town in 1758, and who is found advertising later (Newport Mercury, April 28, 1761, and November 17, 1766, for example) a general store in which books and stationery form an important part of the stock for sale. Maylem refers several times to his victim in “The Birdiad” as “Natty.” In view of the character he gives him, however, I hardly like to suggest the probably meritorious Nathaniel Bird as the author of the Winter Evening’s Conversation to which Maylem replied in “The Birdiad.”
The reference in the heading of the poem to Green, the Boston satirist, leads us at once to the Entertainment for a Winter’s Evening (Boston, 1750), in which Joseph Green had amusingly satirized the Boston Freemasons on the occasion of their church procession on St. John the Evangelist’s Day, 1749. It is evident from Maylem’s remarks that Mr. Bird’s Winter Evening’s Conversation was reminiscent in more ways than one of Green’s witty book. I have not been able to find, in newspaper or separate publication of the years 1758–1762, this Winter Evening’s Conversation of Mr. Bird which drew upon him the anger of John Maylem. That Maylem’s poem is of the year 1758 or later seems to follow from his note on the old woman named Bird who was born in London in 1666 and died in Newport “some short time ago aged 92.”
It is possible to identify all but one of those members of the Lodge mentioned in Maylem’s defence. We learn from Henry W. Rugg’s History of Freemasonry in Rhode Island (p. 785) that “gen’rous Jenkins” must have been Robert Jenkins, master of St. John’s Lodge, No. 1, Newport, from 1753 to 1759 as well as in 1761 and 1762. The portrait of Robert Jenkins by Greenwood is on the walls of the Rhode Island Historical Society. The manuscript catalogue of the portraits in that Society states that Jenkins was born in England and came to Boston in 1700. It seems uncertain when he became a resident of Newport. “The friendly Richards” was doubtless that William Richards whose name appears in a Masonic advertisement in the Newport Mercury of July 3, 1759. The present secretary of St. John’s Lodge, No. 1, Newport, Mr. Chester Staats, has very courteously affixed Christian names to the following additional individuals mentioned in Maylem’s poem: “Johnston mercifull and kind”—Augustus Johnston, who became a member of the Lodge November 15, 1750; “the noble gen’rous Stelle”—Theodore G. Stelle, who became a member August 16, 1757; “Lightfoot in every sense refin’d”—Robert Lightfoot, who became a member September 1, 1757. From information supplied by Miss Mary T. Quinn, Rhode Island Archivist, who examined for me the signatures to the “Petition of Master, Wardens & Society of Free and accepted Masons of Newpor,”252 I conclude that “Franklin, Cole Dupee or Miller” were, respectively, James Franklin, the printer (nephew of Benjamin), Edward Cole, John Dupee (or Dupuy), and John Miller. “The sacred name of Pollen” brings to view the person of the Reverend Thomas Pollen, rector of Trinity Church, Newport, 1754–1760.253
In answer to Mr Bird’s Winter Evening Conversation, of no less than 129 lines long &c as he calls it the title is borrow’d from Green, design’d as a satire against the Procession of Freemasons on St John’s day—tho’ ’tis so weak and fullsome, I imagine ’t would require (not only a winter’s Evening but) a Winter Season to make common Sense of it.
wrote ex tempore
Rara Avis in Terris—hor.
The Birdiad wrote Extempore upon seeing the Productive Quality of a curious Phenomena which dayly exhibit itself to almost every individual in The Town of New-Por
Presumptuous Fool! that durst Incur
the muses Ire by Grubstreet Slur—
Say what vertigo seiz’d your cranium?
what urg’d you to eject your venom?
Or was it Cyder ale or Port,
that Spurr’d you to the weak effort?
to handle Sacred Characters
in demi-Song and wretched Verse?
why put your self into a passion
and Quarrel with the Sage Procession
Because (unfit for Social Plan)
You only are—but half a man—
So Fox254 that gave a hundred leaps
To Reach a Luscious Bunch of Grapes
unable to attain the rare Juice
Cry’d damn ’em they’re as Sow’r as verjuice
like Indian drunk in number Whimsic,
you spew in Rhimes to make us damn’d sick
Had Grammar, numbers, sense or Rhime,
How durst you miscreant draw your pen
To Scandalize the best of men?
What has not gen’rous Jenkins done?
are not his Excellencies known?
In everything he shews the man—
and—imitate him—if you can.
With Johnston mercifull and kind,
To charity and good inclin’d,
Whose gen’rous Soul with bounty flows,
approving what his purse bestows
and Bull whose virtues far exceeds
Th’ amount of all your foolish deeds
Did to your Grannam255 oft bestow
was she alive she’d tell you so—
The friendly Richards oft evinc’d
His Charity, and good dispenc’d
Has often reliev’d the low distressed
with Poverty and want oppress’d—
How durst you miscreant draw your Quill
against the noble gen’rous Stelle
Once in your life a truth you’ve said
to hungry mouths he deals his bread
Which ergo proves that in the mouth
of Fools sometimes there is a truth
Lightfoot in every sense refin’d
to Captivate the human mind
an honour to the Social Plan
and—(what is more than you,) a man
Had Franklin, Cole Dupee or Miller
Been each like you a silly fellow
I scarcely ever should imagine
You would have thus express’d your dudgeon
Ergo it proves upon the whole
They’re men of sense and you a fool
But what mistake is this you fall in
To use the sacred name of Pollen
at once the being of a God?
be drunk with Cyder—Spue agen
and ridicule the best of men—
what will your aged Grannam say
Then [sic] dy’d in alms-house t’other day
When she shall hear the doleful dole
That Natty is a dreadful fool!
Whether in Querpo or in Limbo
with ragged elbows half a kimbo
She’ll screw her mouth and leathern face
and has my Natty prov’d an ass?
Betray’d his folly?—oh the rogue!
How oft have I with neer a brogue
To house of God a Sunday gone soon
To pray for wisdom in my grandson
at Service time in th’ alley sat256
as melancholly as a Cat
when not a Soul wou’d be so civil
as ope their pew door—Oh! the Devil—
Is this my Natty—he who was
the very picture of my face?
the very nose the very chin
with freckled face and visage thin
in Shape, and gait and ev’ry Limb
he was like me, and I like him
Tho he indeed was something smaller
(Was three foot high257 I somewhat Taller)
and (Consequently) by the plan
of nature was but half a man
yet I expected (barring that)
He’d be a man in sense and witt
He might have pass’d a child of sense
Had not his dull impertinence
Like fabled Cur—betray’d the Elf
who yelping ridicul’d—himself
I’d rather had led Apes in hell
Than thus have known such poignant ill!
Dull versifier—sad ingrate!
To make a Parent curse her fate
What urg’d you to a task so shameful
To tell the world you was a d—d fool,
For you’re an instance they are freckled258
Close under cover sitting squat
with venom working in their throat
at Travellers their malice spit
and all their little rage emit
while they their Journey did pursue
nor did the pretty reptile view—
and so you’ll often see a whelp
at light of Phoebe bark & yelp
while she unmindfull of the cur
moves calmly in her silver sphere
Perhaps you thought the name of Bird
Entitled you to name of Bard
Because a Bird you say will sing
and soar away—like any thing
That you are a Bird we all allow
your ev’ry action prove it so
But Hark ye—understand me right
I mean you are—a Bird—of night
an Owl by nature, Bird by name
The name and nature just the same
For was you any other Fowl
Than what you are—a perfect Owl
Or good for ought, you had been carv’d
or for a Chicken Soop had serv’d
or had you even been a Goose
You had been eat with Christmas sauce
But Owls you know—are good for ne’er-a-one
But are when dead a stinking Carrion—
Since then this prov’d you are an Owl
and (consequently) void of soul
to Lonely ruins skim away
nor more appear in open day.
But Natty if in spite of witt
you will your little——259 spit
Be not an owl, be not an ass
nor murder Green and Hudibras260
N.B. the above Poem is an accurate Copy from the Original in John Maylem’s own hand writing. (Du Simitière’s note.)
Bibliography of the Published Works of John Maylem
1. [The Conquest of Beauséjour. 1755]?
No copy of this poem on the victory of Monckton and Winslow in Acadia in June, 1755, has been found in separate form or in the columns of a Newport or Boston newspaper of that year. The only reference to its existence occurs in the opening lines of the author’s Gallic Perfidy, which read:
I Who, of late, in Epic Strains essay’d
*And sung the Hero on Acadie’s Plains,
and are supplemented by the following footnote: “*The Conquest of Beau-se-jour, by Colonels Moncton and Winslow, in 1755.” It seems unlikely that Maylem would have called attention in so conspicuous a fashion to a poem not already published.
2. Gallic Perfidy: a Poem. By John Maylem} Philo-Bellum. Boston: New-England: Printed and Sold by Benjamin Mecom, at The New Printing-Office, July 13. 1758 ----- Where may be had that noted little Book, called Father Abraham’s Speech.
8vo. [A]–B4; pages [1–6], 7–15.
Wilberforce Eames, Benjamin Mecom, No. 10; Evans, No. 8194; Sabin, No. 47155; Wegelin, No. 269.
This is the earliest of Maylem’s poems so far identified in printed form. It may claim place in three special bibliographies in addition to those of printer and author: French and Indian War narratives; early American poetry; and Indian captivities. For comment upon the “noted little Book” advertised in the imprint, see Eames, Benjamin Mecom, No. 9.
Copies: AAS. BA. JCB. MHS. NYPL.
3. [Gallic Perfidy. Newport, 1775?].
There is evidence that an edition of this place and date once had existence, though no copy of it has been recorded or found advertised in the Newport Mercury for that year. In entry No. 7, below, a nineteenth-century work in which are combined reprints of The Conquest of Louisbourg and Gallic Perfidy, we find at the foot of the first page of Gallic Perfidy the following imprint: “Boston, Printed in 1758. Newport, (R. I.) Re-printed by Solomon Southwick, in 1775.” Unless the publisher of this nineteenth-century reprint made up from the whole cloth the imprint just quoted, and this is unlikely, the reasonable inference is that there once existed a Newport edition of the poem bearing this very imprint. It is a fact that in 1772 Solomon Southwick reprinted two American historical narratives, Church’s Entertaining History of King Philip’s War and Morton’s New-England’s Memorial, and it is suggested from what seems good evidence, presented in No. 6, below, that he published in 1775 a reprint of Maylem’s Conquest of Louisbourg. It seems clear that he was indulging an interest in New England historical works of the past, almost, indeed, as if he were proposing a series of reprints. In such a series, he might reasonably have included an edition of a local author’s poem on an event of the French and Indian War. But no copy of such a reprint of Gallic Perfidy is known, though the supposed Southwick reprint of The Conquest of Louisbourg, No. 6, below, exists in several copies. One need not despair, however, of some day turning up a specimen of the edition suggested here as once having had existence.
4. Gallic Perfidy. ca. 1820.
See description of No. 7, below.
5. The Conquest of Louisbourg: a Poem. By John Maylem, Philo-Bellum. [ornament] Boston, N. E. [Samuel Kneeland?] Printed in the Year. 1758.
Sm. 4to. [A]–E2, of which A1, blank or with half-title, is lacking from both known copies; pages [i–ii], 1–16 in copies seen; 358 lines wrongly numbered 362.
There are no advertisements of the publication of the poem in Boston newspapers of either 1758 or 1759. The typographical flowers on page 1 and the engraved ornament on page 16 lead one to attribute this book to the press of Samuel Kneeland, even though one is aware of the danger of complete dependence on that method of identification. An examination of twenty of Kneeland’s books of the period 1750–1758 shows that he used the flowers in headpiece and initial on page 1 in fourteen instances and that in three instances he used precisely one or the other of the combinations of the flowers found in the Maylem book. This evidence is invalidated somewhat by finding an occasional use by other Boston printers of all but one of the flowers, and one instance in which Green & Russell employed the same combination of the same flowers used in the initial on page 1.
The engraved ornament on page 16, however, seems to offer stronger evidence of Kneeland’s responsibility for the book. This ornament is not found in any other Boston book examined that proceeds from the period 1750–1758, but recognizing its old-fashioned character, we turn to an earlier period and find at least three books in which it is employed: At a Conference held at Deerfield, Boston [no printer’s name], 1735; Memoirs of the Odd Adventures of John Gyles, Boston, Samuel Kneeland, 1736; A Discourse concerning the Currencies of the British Plantations in America, Boston, Samuel Kneeland, 1740. There is no question that the ornament was printed in each of these cases from the same cut that was used in the Maylem book of 1758. In At a Conference, of 1735, beginning of a narrow crack is perceptible in the right-hand corner of the impression. In the books of 1736 and 1740, which alone are known to be from the press of Samuel Kneeland, this crack has grown successively wider and longer. In the Maylem book of 1758, the crack is still wider and runs entirely across the upper right-hand corner of the impression. The use of a cut known to have belonged to Kneeland in a book which employs also certain combinations of printers’ flowers found in other Kneeland books is sufficient warrant for suggesting that the Maylem book too proceeded from the Kneeland press. If this method of reasoning is acceptable, it leads to the conclusion that Kneeland was also the printer of the Indian Treaty named above, At a Conference held at Deerfield, published without name of printer at Boston in 1735.
Copies: AAS. MHS.
6. [Caption title]: The Conquest of Louisburg [sic]. A Poem. By John Maylem, Philo-Bellum. [Newport, Solomon Southwick. 1775?].
8vo. [A]4, B2, last leaf blank, pages 1–10, [11–12]; 358 lines wrongly numbered 362.
It is necessary to turn to the description of No. 7, below, to understand the reasons for the attribution of this edition to the Newport press of Solomon Southwick in 1775.
This edition in octavo which we are now considering, without date, printer, or place of publication, is sometimes confused in cataloguing with the edition of Boston, 1758, No. 5, above, which until recently has been virtually unknown to bibliographers. There are two reasons, however, for assigning it to the Newport press of Solomon Southwick, and to the year 1775. In No. 7, below, we find a nineteenth-century reprint of the two poems, Gallic Perfidy and The Conquest of Louisbourg. In association with Gallic Perfidy is the imprint: “Boston, Printed in 1758. Newport, (R. I.) Re-printed by Solomon Southwick, in 1775.” In No. 3, above, we have taken this imprint as evidence that an edition of Gallic Perfidy appeared in 1775 in Newport, reprinted by Solomon Southwick from the Boston edition of 1758. We have also called attention to the fact that Southwick in this period seemed to be turning to the making of American historical reprints and suggested that among them he probably included these two works of a local poet.
Additional evidence for the attribution of the publication to Southwick is found in the line of typographical flowers at the head of page 1. Examination shows this line of flowers interrupted by an exclamation point and by an interrogation mark, doubtless put in to break the monotony of a stiff and unattractive ornament. This usage, in connection with the same flowers, appears in others of Southwick’s publications of the period 1774–1776, and one might conclude that it was a highly individual characteristic if it were not that the same line of flowers with an interrogation mark at the end of the line is found in Dunbar’s Presence of God with his People, printed by Kneeland & Green of Boston in 1760. There is nearly always a fly in the ointment of this particular mode of identification. But taking the given arguments together, there seems to be evidence enough for the suggestion of Southwick as publisher and Newport, 1775, as place and date of publication.
Copies: BU (Harris Collection). RIHS. A.S.W. Rosenbach. Matt B. Jones.
7. [Caption title]: The Conquest of Louisburg [sic]: a Poem. By John Maylem:—Philo-Bellum. [Second title]: Gallic Perfidy. A Poem. By John Maylem.—Philo-Bellum.
The place, printer, and date of publication are unknown, but the work is obviously that of an early nineteenth-century press. The only copy I have seen is that in the Harris Collection of American Poetry in the John Hay Library of Brown University. It bears at the bottom of the page which carries the “Argument” of Gallic Perfidy, facing the first page of text of that poem, the imprint already twice quoted: “Boston, Printed in 1758. Newport, (R. I.) Re-printed by Solomon Southwick, in 1775.” The book has been catalogued in the Harris Collection, because of this imprint, as of Newport, 1775; but it is, I am sure, a nineteenth-century publication. I have suggested in No. 3, above, that this imprint was literally copied by the nineteenth-century printer from a copy of an edition of Gallic Perfidy, Newport, 1775, which has since disappeared.
8. The Boston Sabbath.
This poem appeared in the Newport Mercury for May 19, 1761, without name of author. It is assigned to John Maylem on the basis of its inclusion among the manuscript remains of Maylem in the Du Simitière Collection in the Library Company of Philadelphia. It was reprinted in the New England Quarterly for June, 1934. See note i, p. 108, above.
It will be seen that the Maylem publications present numerous bibliographical difficulties. It is impossible to speak with certainty concerning all the elements—place, date, author, and publisher—of any of them except the Mecom edition of Gallic Perfidy, of Boston, 1758. The foregoing notes are presented as probable solutions of the questions raised by all other editions of the several pieces.
Mr. Leonard W. Labaree read a paper entitled:
The Royal Governors of New England
BY the terms of the charter of 1629 the freemen of the Massachusetts Bay Company were authorized to choose annually their governor, deputy-governor, and assistants. Few of the powers derived from the charter were more highly prized by the Puritans, for few were more fundamental to the complete maintenance of their ideas of Church and State than the naming of their own chief officers of government. Jealously did they guard this vital privilege. The very report of the appointment of a governor-general by the Crown in 1634 was enough to lead to the strengthening of the military defenses of the Bay Colony. But for fifty years more the annual elections continued without successful interference.
For description, see No. 7 on pages 119–120 (reduced; size of original 3¾ × 5⅛)261
It is not surprising, therefore, that when the charter was finally vacated and Massachusetts found herself ruled by governors not of her own choosing, the conservative Puritans showed resentment and looked with utmost suspicion upon governors who took office by virtue of the king’s commission instead of the mandate of God’s elect. In time, as the more militant Puritans passed from the scene and others became somewhat reconciled to the inevitable, the hostility to the royal governors underwent a change in character, if not in strength. The rise of new economic problems led to a division of sentiment within the province, with the conservative, propertied, and mercantile interests arrayed against the underprivileged and the rural classes. Since the governors almost always sided with the conservatives, they drew upon themselves the hatred of the economic radicals, who, quite correctly, recognized in the king’s representatives the most powerful opponents of inflation and ready help for debtors. Finally, the general rise of colonial discontent, especially at the new British policies adopted after 1763, led to a further shift in the basis of hostility to the royal governors. The political radicals, or patriots, came rightly enough to look upon them as the leaders of the prerogative party, as the standard-bearers of toryism and repression, and hated them for what they represented. At all times, therefore, from the destruction of the first charter to the outbreak of the Revolution, there were strong and articulate groups ready to attack the royal governor of the moment, to denounce him as mercenary and incompetent, and to leave upon the pages of later sympathetic historians a reflection of their own hostility.
In the course of the past forty years or so, historians have come to take a more objective view of the men and events of that earlier age than was taken in the days when Bancroft and Palfrey set the tone for all writers on New England history. Scholars have studied the documents afresh; new materials, not available to the older writers, have found their way into print; while competent and sympathetic biographies of several of these royal governors have appeared.262 It is now possible to resurvey these officers as a group, estimating their careers and their personalities, both in comparison with the governors of other royal colonies and in relation to the New England stage on which they played their parts. Since New Hampshire, the only other royal province in New England, was under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts during much of the seventeenth century, and for the first forty years of the eighteenth had the same governors as her larger neighbor, it may be well to include the chief executives of that province in the analysis.
Sir Edmund Andros, as head of the Dominion of New England,263 was the first of fifteen men to assume office as royal governor in New England. For a few years after the collapse of the Dominion the two provinces had separate executives—Sir William Phips in Massachusetts264 and Samuel Allen in New Hampshire.265 From 1697 until 1741 there was a personal union of the two provinces, with separate legislatures, but with common governors in the persons of the Earl of Bellomont,266 Joseph Dudley,267 Samuel Shute,268 William Burnet,269 and Jonathan Belcher.270 Then came a separation. While Massachusetts was entrusted successively to the care of five men—William Shirley,271 Thomas Pownall,272 Sir Francis Bernard,273
When we compare these New England executives with the English royal governors elsewhere during the same period, certain differences appear. The first and most striking fact is the large proportion of natives chosen to rule the New England provinces. Among all the colonies hardly more than one in eight or ten of the governors was born in America; but six of the fifteen in New England were born in the provinces which they later administered. Phips, Dudley, Belcher, Hutchinson, and the two Wentworths were all New Englanders,278 descendants of first-generation settlers, and steeped in the New England tradition. No other royal province among those that revolted in 1775 could boast a native son as its full governor, though one in New York came from Jamaica,279 and three in New Jersey were born in other continental colonies.280 It would seem as if the home authorities, conscious of New England’s pride in her own stock, had sought to conciliate this section by appointing her own sons to rule over her. And, as if to take additional precautions in the management of this difficult region, the Crown selected the remaining governors as far as possible from men who had previously resided in the colonies and were familiar with colonial problems. Of the nine governors born outside New England, only three—Allen, Bellomont, and Shute—were practically complete strangers to America when they assumed office.281 Andros, Burnet, and Bernard had previously been governors of other colonies;282 Shirley had lived ten years in Boston;283 Pownall had been a free-lance observer and general handy man to colonial officials for four eventful years;284 and Gage had spent long years as a soldier in American campaigns and as commander-in-chief of the British forces.285 This was a record of colonial experience such as the governors of no other province could boast. One may question, perhaps, whether it was of any practical benefit to a colony to be ruled by men who knew America at first hand, but the home officials, by selecting four fifths of its governors from this class, gave New England, above all sections, the benefit of the doubt.
The New England governors generally came from less exalted ranks of society than did many of their contemporaries in other provinces. Although peers and sons of peers were fairly common elsewhere, only two governors in New England belonged to noble families. Bellomont, son of an Irish baron and himself raised to an earldom in the Irish peerage, was something of a courtier as well as a politician in the British Isles, having been treasurer and receiver-general to Queen Mary as well as governor of County Leitrim in Ireland.286 Massachusetts and New Hampshire were flattered by the appointment of this noble lord, and the assembly at Boston gave him twice the salary they had paid his predecessor.287 General Gage, the other high-born governor, was the younger son of a viscount. But by his time Massachusetts was no longer interested in the families of the British peerage. The absence of enthusiasm at his inauguration bore eloquent testimony to the changed conditions since Bellomont was first received.288 Most of the other Englishmen who ruled these provinces belonged to the upper middle class or to the country gentry. Andros was the son of a Guernsey gentleman and was himself a knight; Bernard and Pownall were members of old county families; Burnet was the son of the famous Bishop of Salisbury; Allen and Shirley, and probably Shute, came from London merchant stock.289 Among the New Englanders, all but Phips belonged to the colonial aristocracy, proud of their ancestry and local prominence, but hardly to be considered the social equals of the leading English families. Phips was the only truly self-made man in the entire lot. Of a poor family from down-east Maine, he rose by an adventurous spirit, cleverness, and good luck to ultimate knighthood. Yet neither he nor the people over whom he ruled ever quite forgot his humble beginnings. New England’s governors, then, were men of moderate position in the world. The salaries and the society there were not such as to attract the more giddy or impecunious sons of England’s aristocracy, nor would the staid Puritans have wished them. Massachusetts had no governors like the Duke of Albemarle, bon vivant and crony of James II, who sailed off to his government of Jamaica in 1687 in his own private yacht, taking with him in his escort of frigates five hundred tons of household goods and one hundred servants.290 Everyone realized that the New England sun would have shone but bleakly upon such exotic branches of England’s great family trees.
The governors of Massachusetts and New Hampshire were comparatively well educated. While about one quarter of the chief executives of all the provinces matriculated at colleges or universities, New England’s proportion was two thirds. Eight of the fifteen actually took their bachelor’s degree at Oxford, Cambridge, or Harvard.291 All but Phips among the native sons could boast of Harvard degrees, though a supercilious don of an English university might think the boast an empty one. Still, the schooling given there was the best that the colonies had to offer at the time. The list of college graduates among the governors might be longer if Shute had not left Cambridge after matriculation to read law in the Middle Temple,292 and if Burnet had not been removed from the same university by his father, the bishop, for idleness and disobedience.293 But Burnet also read law in the Middle Temple, studied at the University of Leyden, and was later granted an M.A. at Cambridge.294 As a fellow of the Royal Society he contributed papers to its Philosophical Transactions on such varied subjects as the mountains of Switzerland, an eclipse of a satellite of Jupiter, and a set of “Siamese twins” from Hungary.295 He also published an essay on Scriptural prophecy,296 and consequently perhaps ought to be included among the intellectual aristocracy. Three others are noteworthy for their literary achievements. Bernard was a versifier of sorts and gained some notice when he edited the Latin odes of his stepfather, Anthony Alsop.297 Pownall not only put his justly famous Administration of the Colonies through six editions,298 but also wrote extensively upon economics, topography, archaeology, and philosophy.299 His philosophical work, indeed, deserves a closer examination than it has yet received from recent students of that subject. And lastly, but perhaps most noteworthy of all, Thomas Hutchinson devoted his spare moments for many years to that historical work for which we are all so much indebted to him.300 Clearly, Massachusetts, which prided itself on its high level of education and intellectual activity, had a higher average of educated and literary governors than any other royal province.
On the other hand, the governors of these two strategically important provinces were for the most part deficient in military training or experience. While half the governors generally were men of military or naval rank, only three of the fifteen in Massachusetts and New Hampshire were professional soldiers. Andros had been a major,301 Shute a brevet-colonel,302 and Gage a lieutenant-general303 before assuming civil office. Dudley, it is true, won the rank of colonel during King Philip’s War, but, if questioned in a candid moment, would probably himself have admitted that the title should be construed only in a Kentuckian sense. Shirley also became a major-general and commander-in-chief during his administration, but he had had no military experience before coming to America, and perhaps the less said about his real generalship the better.304 On the whole, the governors of New England were an unmilitary set, enthusiastic organizers when army expeditions were on foot, but devoid of that inner knowledge and understanding of military problems which usually come only from long years in camp and field. The appointment in 1774 of the one important soldier of the lot, Thomas Gage, was a compliment to the bellicose spirit of Massachusetts, but a compliment which the inhabitants would readily have done without.
Any attempt at exact comparison between the New England governors and those of other royal provinces as to motive in seeking office, personality, and general ability must inevitably result in failure. These things do not lend themselves to ready measurement, especially at a distance of several generations. Men must be considered individually against the background of their own time and environment. Only thus can sound conclusions be drawn.
We must lay aside any notion that these men were actuated by higher motives in seeking office than those that led others in England or the colonies to ask for political appointments. Whatever may be the ideals of public service today, we are dealing with the eighteenth century, not the twentieth, and as historians we must be realists. In those days men sought political preferment primarily for the prestige, the power, the opportunities for advancement, and the money they might win thereby. Among these fifteen only one—Thomas Hutchinson—stands out as not definitely coveting the appointment as governor. Shortly before the Stamp Act tumults he was accused of being an engrosser of public offices, and there may have been some justice in the charge, for he was at that time lieutenant-governor, president of the council, chief justice, and judge of probate.305 But the sacking of his house by the mob, the hostility of the Boston populace and its leaders, and, above all, the cares and responsibilities of the lieutenant-governorship after Bernard’s departure seem to have cured him of the desire for higher office for its own sake. There is a certain ring of sincerity in the repeated statement in his letters to England that he hoped that someone else would be appointed to the burdensome governorship.306 But when his commission came, he did not refuse it. He could have been under no illusions as to the difficulty and thanklessness of the task before him, and, as far as we can judge, he accepted the promotion, in part at least, in the hope of leading back to the path of loyal obedience the province which he so dearly loved.
No such thoughts of service above self are apparent in the efforts of the other native sons to win the highest office of their community. To Phips the governorship was the pinnacle of ambition. To return to the Massachusetts which had known his lowly youth, rich with the spoils of his treasure hunt, sponsored by no less a leader of the old régime than Increase Mather, knighted, and now royal governor—what more could the former ship’s carpenter ask? To Joseph Dudley, also, the return as governor held out the prospect of personal triumph and vindication. Upon no other official, not even Andros himself, had the Puritans so heaped their reproaches and their wrath in the days of the Dominion as upon the pro-English son of their own former governor, Thomas Dudley. But when, after years of scheming,307 the son returned, holding as governor the one office that would compensate him for the harsh treatment he had received, it must be said to his credit that he showed no vindictive spirit, but set himself to the task of providing for the public welfare as he understood it.
While Phips’s and Dudley’s very human motives in seeking appointment may arouse some measure of sympathy, the same cannot be said for Jonathan Belcher. Above all others he was an opportunist, seeking first of all his own political and financial advancement. A leader of the provincial group opposed to Governor Burnet, he was sent to England by the assembly to contest the royal demand that they provide the governor a permanent instead of an annual salary. Suddenly word came that Burnet was dead. Belcher, quick to see his chance, besought his own appointment to the vacancy on the ground that he alone could persuade the assembly to grant the required permanent salary.308 And, to complete the estimate of his disinterestedness, it must be recalled that when as governor he failed completely to accomplish this result, he almost tearfully begged permission to accept the proffered annual grants on the ground that in any case “to take the people’s money must be a punishment to them.”309
Fortunately for New England no other governor was so frankly a time-server. Others were undoubtedly just as interested as Belcher in enhancing their own prestige and fortunes. But to most of the native-born governors, and notably to the Wentworths in New Hampshire, the office was but a logical step upwards for members of leading local families long prominent in the political and economic life of the community.310 That most of them were really men of second-rate abilities is not to be denied—though Hutchinson is again a shining exception. But their mediocrity is only another illustration of what has long been recognized—that the second and third generations in New England produced few men who compared in stature with the first-generation settlers.
In time, hostility to the governors appeared largely because of the conservatism of their political and economic policies. They represented the Crown, and in their efforts to uphold the prerogative they came inevitably into conflict with the representatives of the popular point of view. Their natural allies were the wealthy merchants and landed aristocrats, whose economic interests were often directly opposed to those of the plebeian artisans and frontier farmers. The economic contests of the period were usually indistinguishable from the political struggles. In these engagements the governors were almost always found fighting on the side of the wealthier battalions. A notable exception was Pownall, who, for reasons partly political and partly temperamental, cultivated the popular party. In a courtly age he alienated the aristocrats of Boston by the carelessness of his dress and the informality and gaiety of his manner.311 Hutchinson, then chief justice and lieutenant-governor, was disgusted, but John Adams, writing years later, called Pownall “the most constitutional and national governor in my opinion, who ever represented the crown in this province.”312 Several of the governors brought the popular leaders raging like hornets about their ears because of their conservative views on currency questions. Dudley and Belcher especially earned the undying hatred of the inflationists by their successful opposition to schemes for establishing land banks.313 Hutchinson, too, gained his first political laurels when, as Speaker of the House of Representatives, he brought about, almost single-handed, the restoration of the Massachusetts currency to a specie basis.314 In these days of loose and ill-digested talk of inflation and “baloney dollars,” it is particularly easy to understand why disputes over currency and similar problems should have produced so much bitter feeling between men who sincerely believed that their opponents’ policies would lead straight to economic ruin.
In fact, a broad survey of all these governors and their administrations leads definitely to the conclusion that the times in which they lived rather than the characters and capacities of the men themselves are chiefly responsible for the unsympathetic treatment which they have usually received from historians. Few of them were first-class statesmen, though they might stand comparison with the governors elected in some of our States today. And, except for their lack of military knowledge, their background and experience put them, as a group, distinctly above the average of royal governors of their age. But from the nature of their office and the problems of their times they became storm centers for the economic and political conflicts of the most independent and articulate section of the colonial world. Even the best of them could hardly hope to emerge from the tenure of their trying office with reputations unscathed. Historically, the course of events was against them, for they represented a losing cause. The royal authority which they personified was finally driven from the land, and the popular factions which they opposed evolved into the successful party of a revolution. To the victors went the historical spoils. But now, with the passing of many years, whether we study the royal governors individually or as a group, we can see more clearly that they did not deserve all the abuse which has been heaped upon their memories.
Mr. Robert E. Moody read the following paper:
The Last Voyage of the Province Galley315
THE Province Galley, built in 1705 by the Province of Massachusetts Bay, was perhaps the best-known craft of her period in New England. She was in reality the province “navy,” and, as such, was busily engaged during Queen Anne’s War in the transport of troops and supplies, a duty for the performance of which she had been built. Her adventures in the service of the government have been told in detail elsewhere.316 But the Province Galley passed into private hands at the conclusion of the war, and her subsequent history, though brief, is of considerable interest because of the unusual controversies which developed among her new owners. These controversies, annoying and expensive to the litigants, were fortunate ones for later times since because of them scores of papers have been preserved in the files of the Superior Court of Judicature,317 which present a day-by-day picture of a trading voyage of considerable length in the early eighteenth century—a voyage typical of that of hundreds of vessels of the time carrying fish, New England’s greatest treasure, from port to port through the Mediterranean, where they picked up other cargoes for London and home.
The description of this particular enterprise, interesting as it is from an antiquarian point of view, has even greater significance for the historian in that it introduces a series of legal battles in which the Province Galley became involved. These court cases show clearly that the “litigiousness” which Mr. Chafee has pointed out as a characteristic of the people of Massachusetts Bay during the 1670’s318 carried over to a later period. Further, the appeals from court to court and the writs of prohibition directed by the Superior Court of the province against the Court of Vice-Admiralty give a significant picture of the judicial structure of the provincial period, a phase of American colonial history too often neglected, involving conflicts between royal and popular institutions. The resistance of the colonial courts to the allowance of appeals to the King in Council and to the exercise of jurisdiction by the courts of vice-admiralty, with their crown-appointed judges and their lack of juries, cannot be more adequately illustrated than by the cases resulting from the voyage of the Province Galley, starting from Boston, May 17, 1714, and ending at the same port, April 6, 1716.
The owners of the Province Galley after she was sold at public auction by the province in 1713 were the mercantile firm of Oulton and Waldo, which held a three-fourths share, and four individuals, each of whom shared equally the remaining quarter interest. John Oulton was a Boston merchant of considerable experience, owner at one time of a warehouse on Corn Street, and later of one on King Street. He was a proprietor of Long Wharf and a participant in many shipping ventures.319 His partner, Cornelius Waldo, then about thirty years of age, was the third of that name and had once been Oulton’s apprentice.320 The other four adventurers were Samuel Phillips, Jr., son of the bookseller; his brother-in-law, Arthur Savage, who was in turn a brother-in-law of Cornelius Waldo, and was to captain the vessel; John Caswall, a London insurance broker, whose interest was handled by Savage; and Francis Wainwright, a Boston merchant.
The owners shared not only the cost of purchasing the vessel—£1,582 7s 6d321—but also the expense of fitting her out for a European voyage and of lading her with fish for market. Though called a galley, and provided with places for oars, she was a sailing vessel, having a mainmast and a mizenmast. During the war she had carried, as a transport, as many as a hundred men, but on this trading voyage her crew numbered between ten and fifteen.322
On March 20, 1713/14,323 Savage cleared outwards from Boston for Marblehead, where he was to take on his cargo of fish—an ordinary procedure for Boston ships. The Reverend John Barnard, writing of Marblehead in 1714, says:
… there was not so much as one foreign trading vessel belonging to the town [i.e., a Marblehead ship that traded to Europe], nor for several years after I came into it; though no town had really greater advantages in their hands. The people contented themselves to be slaves that digged in the mines, and left the merchants of Boston, Salem, and Europe, to carry away the gains.…324
This trade, however, like all others, had been greatly hindered by the war, and the Province Galley was one of the first vessels to undertake the European trip after the peace. Entering the harbor of Marblehead, the pilot, Robert Orange, anchored hard by the Dragon, a fishing sloop owned by John Stacey and others of that town. Warned by Savage that the Province Galley lay too near in case of a high wind, Orange shifted position.325 On the night of March 31, 1714, a storm came up, and the Dragon was driven so close to the Province Galley that she fouled the ship and parted her own anchor cable. Let the records tell the story:
… the man that was upon ye watch upon Deck [of the Province Galley] one Francis Lemontais called down ye Scuttle and said there was a Ship under our Borsprit and on board of us it being so dark and full of Snow could not discern at first what Vessel it was the Master ordered all hands up & Candles to be lighted in the Lantthorne all the cables being cluttered with trumpery out of the Hole we having gott it out of ye Hole in order to board our stoare of Fish we haile the Vessel and cauld on board for help to cleare her from us but there was not one person living to take care of her on board the Sloope ….326
Captain Savage did what he could in a bad situation. With less than half his men aboard, he was handicapped, but he “bent a Hauser to her sd cable & Rode her the sd Sloop at the stern of his sd ship….” To no avail, for “whilst they were providing for another Hauser to fasten her the sd Hauser dealt & She went on Shoar & Sunk….”327 Other ships were also, it may be said, in difficulties at the same time. Thus even before the Province Galley had begun to load her cargo, she had become involved in a damage suit which was to come up again and again during the next five years in the Massachusetts courts.
After this unfortunate accident, the ship’s master proceeded to his chief business—taking on his cargo. Marblehead harbor was in those days the gathering place for many small craft returned with their ladings of dried and cured fish. From them Captain Savage made his purchases, buying in small quantities from at least fifteen of the ships then in port. The total amount secured was 3,077¾ quintals: 2,883 of codfish, and the rest haddock. For the codfish twenty-four or twenty-five cents a quintal was the standard price; for the haddock, seventeen cents. The “master’s privilege” allowed Savage to store away sixty quintals in the “Lazarette,” besides which he carried nearly five hundred quintals on his own account, for which he paid freight. A great deal of the cargo was “Cape Sable Sloop-fish,” of which it was later charged that 1,327 quintals were “bad refuse salt burnt sloop Cape Sable codfish” which were “ketched in the fall before having been already culled several times before,” and which perhaps “came out of Capt. Vibert’s ship, being bad and relanded.”328 This portion of the cargo may indeed have been previously shipped to Europe and returned, not finding a market.329 According to Samuel Phillips,330 the responsibility for taking on the poor fish (apparently it was loaded while Savage was absent in Boston) was John Oulton’s, since he had insisted that one man should buy the whole cargo, and had himself assumed the task. Though Savage was not inexperienced in such matters, he later denied that he knew any of the present lot to be of inferior quality, being “wholly ignorant of this sort of Cape Sable fish laying up all Winter.”331 Out of the subsequent quarrel over the quality of the fish grew another lawsuit of the series with which the Province Galley is identified.
You being Com̄ander of our Ship the Province Galley Do desire you to Order all things to be ready for your Sailing with the First Fair wind and weather from Marblehead. When you are out at Sea with her make ye best of your way for Gibralter, But in case you should meet with contrary winds & the same will favour your going to any adjacent port to Lisbon or Bilboa without loss of time, then try your market & advising with Messrs Ferdo Wingfield & Compa and any other Gentn If you should see cause to Stop there by an encouraging Market for your load of fish and a Freight for London, do your utmost for the Sale of your Fish and a good freight for London… If you proceed for Gibralter aforesd there take the best advise you can get for a Market for your Cargo of Fish which We pray you to Follow either for Barcelona Alligant Sardinia or Leghorn, The Port you first arrive at and fix on for the disposal of your cargo you must advise of to Mr Jn. Tidcombe of London and write him what Port you design next, and desire him to make Insurance on our part to what value you think needful not exceeding ¾ of ye whole of Our adventure, From one of these forts We hope you will meet with a good freight for London & if need be for promoting of the same lay out such a part of ye nt proceeds of our Fish in things proper as may be necessary for the giving you a quick despatch from that Port to London, From ye Port you sell your Fish at We desire you to get good Bills of Excha for London to the value of Oulton and Waldo’s part, save such a Sum as you think needful to keep for ye Service of ye Ship or her freight in proportion to everyone’s part … From thence [London] We hope to have you here before Winter sets in, if you have no prospect of this We hope you will have some Encouraging Freights in the Streights and then to contrive to be here early next Spring or in ye mean time if you have a good Opportunity to our advantage for ye Selling of ye Ship or Stores you may do it and remit ye produce to every ones freinds, on which head you shall be duly considered, Be as good husband of all things as you can and make as quick dispatch at from and to every place as is possible wishing you all prosperity, We rest Sr
Yor Freinds to Com̄and….332
Savage’s reply is in the form of a bill of lading dated Boston, May 12, 1714:
Shipped by the Grace of God in Good Order & well Conditioned, by John Oulton and Cornelius Waldo of Boston on their own proper Accompt and Risque upon the Good Ship Called the Province Galley whereof is master under God for this present Voyage Captain Arthur Savage and now rideing at Anchor in the Harbour of Marblehead And by Gods Grace bound for Lisbon Bilboa Gibralter or Leghorne to Say One hundred Twenty Eight Qtalls & 13/16 of Dry Haddock… [here follows a list of the consignment] goes consigned to the Said Capt Savage for him to dispose of at either of the sd places … where it will fetch the greatest price … (the Danger of the Seas only Excepted) … So God Send the Good Ship to her Desired Port in Safety Amen.333
But before the Province Galley could sail, delay threatened Captain Savage in the form of a writ of attachment served May 14, 1714:
… to Answer unto John Stacy Marriner John Edgcomb Fisher-Man, Tabitha Woods Widow & Inholder all of Marblehead in the County of Essex & Capt. James Pitts of Boston in the County of Suffolk Merchant, and All owners of the Sloop Dragon … In a plea of Tresspass … which is to the damage of the sd John Stacy John Edgcomb Tabitha Woods & James Pitts as they say the Sum of Two hundred pounds….
Savage immediately put in his plea of “Not guilty in Manner and form,” and John Oulton went bond to the amount of £200 for Savage’s appearance at the next Inferior Court of Common Pleas, to be held in Salem in June.334 Freed, and with never a doubt of Oulton’s ability to avoid damages in the suit, Savage sailed from Marblehead, May 17, 1714, and set his course for Europe.335
On board the Province Galley, besides the captain and Samuel Phillips and their wives, there sailed Peleg Wiswall336 of Boston. A graduate of Harvard College in the Class of 1702, he later became one of the teachers of the Old North Grammar School of Boston. For a time, however, he followed the sea and was once captain of a letter of marque. But on this voyage he was listed as chaplain, though he may also have served as copilot since he had had previous experience in the Mediterranean. In all the litigations in which the Province Galley became involved, his name appears with colorful bits of testimony, and the excerpts from his Journal reveal many a fact not noted by Captain Savage either in his account book or in his letters to his employers.
The captain met with fair winds on his outward passage, and in about three weeks reached Fayal, a port of the Azores, where he put in for water—but for nothing else, he was careful to say, not even “a Kegg of Wine so much for reason of Dispatch….”337 The wind having died down, he decided to make a longer stop “by reason of the Calm fearing should be on the Rocks otherwise intended to stand off and on till could get some water on board …”338 Extracts from Wiswall’s Journal give the information that Savage here “Had a little trade with an East India Merchtman, and the 10th day Sailed with her out of that Port with a designe to Enlarge his Trade with her But the weather prevented that Intention….,”339 Thus ten days passed while Savage was getting his water and having his little trade, of which his account book gives no report. He noted only his charges for watering the ship, for fees to the consul and to the governor for clearing his ship, and for greens and drink for his men.340
Finding it impossible to sail with the merchantman, he proceeded to Cadiz, where he arrived June 19.341 Here he went on shore and consulted with other traders, one John Short in particular, as to the best market for his fish. He was advised that Tarragona was the best place for a trade. Accordingly he wrote to John Tidcombe, as he had been instructed, asking for insurance to the amount of £4,600 on “ship & Cargoe … as high up as Leghorn.” In his letter Savage reported that his voyage had been uneventful save for the loss of one man overboard. This sailor and six others whom he discharged at Cadiz he replaced by hiring others “in their Room much better,” at 25s a month.342 Further delay was useless, the captain having been disappointed in his expectation of passengers. He therefore paid his bills for cannon powder, blacksmith work, wines, and anchorage,343 and sailed into the Straits on June 26.344
Faced with the serious business of discharging his cargo, Captain Savage intended for Tarragona, but, as he relates, he was forced first to sail for Mahon for fear of pirates. “I having no Mediterranean pass stood over to Mohone to get one (having run the risque of my self & family to be made Slaves of amongst the Turks for want of one)….345 Writing later of this voyage, which on the way took him to Alicante in Valencia, and to Majorca, he said:
We wrote you from Cales ꝑ Capt Macfedris we run a Great risque from thence having no pass that was good, thence we arrived at Alicant where I could not Sell our Fish for 5½ dollrs ꝑ Quintal then was resolved to get a pass of our Admiral at Port Mahone [Minorca] (running the risk of Algier without it in our way We touched at Majorca where could not get Six dollrs, thence to Port Mahone where by a pure accedent We got a pass of the Admiral he arriving the next day (off of the Harbours mouth for the Bomb Ketches) that I arrived with much difficulty he gave me one.…346
From Wiswall one again learns of a passenger whose presence Savage did not record. Nor did Savage report that at Alicante there was talk of selling the ship, “though little came of this talk.”347 Savage’s accounts show that he sold 300 quintals of fish at Mahon “at a good price,” and that he “Remitted ye money.”348
At Salo (near Tarragona), on July 19, he disposed of more of his cargo. “… I proceeded and sold quick [he sap] for 6/4½ and could have raised it to seven dollars if the fish had not proved much salt burnt.”349 It was because of the bad fish, according to Samuel Phillips, that they were compelled to “goe from Port to Port and so dispose of small or great quantitie according to the Necessity of the People….”350 From Salo, where the Spanish would no longer trade with him, Captain Savage went to Mataro in Catalonia (nineteen miles northeast of Barcelona). At this port, according to the deposition of John Board, “… it [the fish] riseing so bad the Capt was threatened with his Life….”351 Rosael Amundia, to whom Savage had contracted to sell his cargo here, had no intention of paying the full price for refuse fish. He declined to take more than 350 quintals of it, and Savage set him free of his contract on his raising the price to $6 a quintal for the amount bought.352
Though somewhat disconcerted by the quality of his cargo, Savage was alert to the possibilities which offered themselves at Barcelona. That city was being besieged by the Duke of Berwick in behalf of Philip V of Spain. Should it be taken, Savage saw a market for codfish, salt-burnt or no. Only 1,500 quintals remained to be disposed of, but these were the worst of the lot. Keeping an eye out for pirates, Savage lay to off Barcelona, whence he wrote: “We intend to lye a Small time to see whether its Impossible to take Barcelona or not….”353
Barcelona fell after a defence of futile valor. It was stormed, September 11, 1714, by Berwick’s troops and “when sword, fire and lust had done its worst,”354 the city, desperately in need of food, was opened for trade. On September 17, Savage entered the harbor and lost no time in selling his refuse fish. “… We made an End of our Cargoe,” said Samuel Phillips, “the people being in absolute Necessity, being almost Starved .…”355 The fish brought the remarkably good price of $6¼ a quintal. With responsibility finally lifted from his shoulders, Savage determined to remain for a time where he was. It was necessary to make some small repairs on the ship, and to restock her with provisions, which, now that the most urgent needs of the people were over, could be purchased. The sailors were also in need of a stop-over, being troubled with scurvy. For them the captain bought all kinds of fresh vegetables, raisins, herbs, pepper-spice, cinnamon, eggs, onions, “pruins,” greens, and fowl.
For these expenses Savage retained $2,000 of the proceeds from the sale of the fish. Outlays for repairs are noted under the following heads: sulphur for the ship’s bottom, oakum for galleys, grooming and graving ship, thrums (untwisted rope), a “skin of Tarr to burn her bottom,” help of men in “heaving ship down,” hammer and caulking iron, shovels, tallow for the ship’s masts, heaving the ship’s keel out, and “to a Spanyard mending our Iron tiller.” There had been other expenses at Barcelona in connection with the sale of the fish. Savage notes: “To a Cryer crying ye Fish,” “to 4 Soldiers Guardg the fish from Theives ashore 7 days,” “to a hatt gave Paul Beck to Encourage others to buy fish,” and—a frequent charge—“excessive dear drinks” for prospective customers.356 Wiswall also mentions the purchase of a “parcell of small arms,” which may have been either for speculation or for protection.
Shallet and Crowe, who were Oulton and Waldo’s agents at Barcelona, advised Savage to try for a load of barley at Mahon to be delivered in Lisbon.357 Of this Savage wrote to both John Caswall and John Tidcombe: “There laying then at Barcelona sundry English Ships which could not get a Tun of freight … I eagerly Embraced with abundance of Thanks to these Gentn for giving me ye first offer …,”358 Wiswall reports that there had previously been some talk of the “Carriage of Guns for the King of Spain along the Coast.”359
The Province Galley finally left Barcelona on October 13, intending to go to Mahon. Savage relates that in this passage he was retarded by calms and by contrary easterly winds so that he was obliged to put in at Majorca to wait for a favorable wind. There he was advised that no barley was to be had at Mahon.360 But he did learn that salt from Iviza, the third in size of the Balearic Isles, was in demand at Monaco.361 Accordingly he made a contract with Don Francisco Fornaro for the Prince of Monaco.362 Samuel Phillips says: “But before we had laded the Ship the Capt found that this Fornaro had plaid him a trick and had sent away one of the Bills which he gave as Security to Genoa which might be paid as far as he knew before our arrival so here our contract was again broken.”363
The Province Galley was then beset by winds, “a hard Levant,” and “was beat back to and continued at Marseilles 5 days … very leaky.”364 Savage also put in at Toulon (thirty miles southeast of Marseilles) but could not sell the salt. At Villafranca, in the Duchy of Modena, on November 22, Savage sold the cargo, bringing the owners “817 dollrs of Genova or 1122 dollrs Cattalan … amounts to £251 158 sterling.”
… but the Ship continued very leaky, was obliged to Sail for Genova to heave keel out being the nighest port when got out of the harbour the same day met with an Extream hard Levant was afraid to beat the Ship … was obliged to bear away again for Ivaca [Iviza], lost my [long] boat by the hard wind & Sea in our passage where We loaded a second time (being very leaky as much as could keep her above water) and so returned up again for Genova where We hove keel out again and drove upwards of a hundred Trunells in ye Ships bottom….365
This second load of salt Savage sold to the Intendant of Nice, Count Tovini de Quincinet, for $965 or £216 sterling.366 It was now the middle of January, 1714/15. Finding that salt sold as well as any cargo he was likely to find, Savage decided to return to Iviza again. Thence he was proceeding when, on February 20, off Antibes (Savage writes it “Antebo”), he met “a very hard gale of wind could not carry a Knott of Sail, the Extremity of the wind carryed away my Maintopsail yard and Topmast at Once … [and] lay beating up and down….”367 During the rest of February and a part of March, the Province Galley touched at several ports, having repairs made at Toulon and delivering passengers, but never, according to the accounts, taking in any freight. The captain did, however, ship a stranded Dutch doctor, paying the landlady twenty livres. He seemed disinclined to proceed to Iviza, reasoning that he had been so long away—eight weeks—that the salt might be gone or the island captured. Finally putting into Mahon for advice, he learned from the governor that “the Spaniards had not taken the Island but that all the Salt was Sold off to ye Dutch & that no freight at all [was to be had] on ye Christian Shore….”368 Then Savage was beset with a desire to sail to Iviza anyway to sue the commissioners “for breach of Contract & my Earnest for a Load of Salt….” Convinced of the foolishness of this idea by the arguments of his officers, “it not being worth while for the Lucre,” and feeling now no necessity of remaining on the Christian side, Savage “stood over on the Barbary shore downward for Algier….”369
The Province Galley reached Algiers, March 18, 1714/15, but she did not remain long among the Moors. Her master found trade costly because of the numerous gifts demanded by officials at every port. Interpreters were necessary for the simplest of transactions; nor was the gain so lucrative as Savage had anticipated. At one place he sold a few bags of rice; at Arzeu he took on his third and last load of salt. With this cargo he returned to Cadiz.
From Cadiz he proceeded to Amsterdam, arriving there in the middle of June. Here he took a house for himself and his wife and spent the next six weeks in the city while the Province Galley lay idle in the harbor. He disposed of the cargo of salt, “though in a bad trade”; he took on board a small cargo of earthenware and iron pots, but freight for London there was none. Among the items in his account book, furnishing local color to his stay in Amsterdam, is the following: “To a Scoot-boat to draw ye Ship over the Pompass,” though an item of greater concern to Oulton and Waldo was the bill for “a new suit of Sails except a mainsail.”370
It was August 1, 1715, when the Province Galley reached London. There Savage reported at once to the owners’ agents. From them he received several letters which had been forwarded to Leghorn, a port which he had never visited. These communications were to the effect that the captain should end his voyage, sell the boat if possible, or return to Boston with the first freight he could secure. If Savage had seemed reluctant to leave Amsterdam, he was even less eager to embark for Boston. He discharged his sailors and sent Peleg Wiswall up the river on a collier with sundry goods for safe-keeping, but he found no freight for Boston. When winter came on, the captain found that the Province Galley, with many other ships, had been caught in the ice of the river, or, as he reported it, was “frozen in the pool,” by which he meant that portion of the Thames between London Bridge and Cuckold’s Point. His winter in London was now assured. He attended the execution of lords Derwentwater and Kenmure when they were beheaded on Tower Hill, February 24, 1715/16.371 He was summoned into the Marshalsea by one of his sailors for non-payment of wages.372 But there is little else to show how his time in London was spent. When the ice broke up, he was, according to his report, “the first boat to move in the pool, breaking three anchors in the ice.” He sailed from the Downs, March 8.
Early in April he arrived in Boston. The Boston News-Letter of April 2–9 says: “Friday last the 6th Currant arrived here Capt. Arthur Savage in the Province Galley about Five Weeks Passage from London.” Expecting a chilly welcome from the owners, he had prepared aboard ship a letter of apology, dated March 28, 1716:
I know we have made a bad Voyage, but I can truely say it was oweing wholly to the Weakness of the Ship—if she had been tight as other Ships & I not Obliged to heave her twice keel out in The Streights… I should have got what you would have desired… I Desire that there may be no Differance between us upon Accot of freindship as well as blood—& believe when you Materially weigh every thing you’l find you have not that reason wh you now Think perhaps to have … [to complain of the voyage].
The case of the sloop Dragon against the Province Galley was particularly on his mind.
As to the Damages of the Sloop that drove on board of us at Marblehead I have heard that they recov’d damage against us—I have Complained hereof to the Governour and Judge Advocate who you may Expect very speedily over when I hope we shall have Justice done us in the Court of Admiralty or by the Govr and his Council.373
Thus we see that while in London Savage must have had conferences with Governor Shute and Judge Menzies,374 newly appointed to their respective positions.
The letter availed nothing. Immediately on his arrival in Boston, Oulton and Waldo tried to remove Savage as captain of the Province Galley, but Savage took refuge in the haven of admiralty jurisdiction, petitioning the new judge-advocate, John Menzies, for a decree in his behalf. The decree, handed down May 14, 1716, declared that Savage could not be dismissed except on payment to him of his interest in the ship. The decree reads:
[The Judge] having heard seen & Considered ye Lybell … [and] well & riply [sic] advised & also haveing regard to ye Civil & Rhodian Laws & ye other Maritime Laws of those Countrys most renowned for trade … finds yt ye Choice of a Mastr depends upon ye Major pt owners & yt he is to be continued or altered in ye same manner. & yt where any alteration is intended it ought to proceed after due Notification to every owner … yt there assent or dissent may be known … he cannot be dismissed except upon paymt to him of ye value of his pt in ye ship… and also of ye wages yn due to himself and pd out by him to Sailors & therefore decerns and decrees Ar: Savage to renounce and resign his interest as Mastr … upon ye Plaintff payment to him at ye same time ye sum of one hundred ninety pounds thirteen Shillings & four pence, as ye price & value of his 1/16 pt….375
Suspecting that Savage’s voyage had been a losing one to the owners only and not to the captain,376 Oulton and Waldo commenced suit against him, alleging breach of contract and claiming £2,000 damage. The charges against Savage are far too long to quote in full. The owners found fault with everything he did from the time he put into Fayal for water. That he neglected to write to them of all his transactions
… does not look with a good face … and does leave room enough for us to think he on this head does not design to do us Justice if he can help it….he hath Improved ye Ship in the Streights from and to several parts (without any advantageous freight Except to himself) for near 12 months…. All this and more he told us he could have done by virtue of our Orders and have carried ye Ship to ye East Indies if he pleased: We are ready to believe that no man, except A. SAVAGE would have had ye Assurance or Confidence to have told us so…377 He had orders to Sell the Ship…this he would not do We Suppose because then he must have parted with his pleaseure Boat as he hath made her … When we Consider his proceedings We do not wonder at his not giving us an Accyt of all things; For time and Distance hath made him Believe the Ship & Cargo to be his own so is not accountable to any body else if he did not thus Believe, Surely he would have followed our Ordrs in all things and returned home long before now to have proved himself an honest man, One that had a proper value for his Friends Imployers & their Interest, which we think now will be very hard for him to do.378
Their chief grievance against Savage was his disregard for them as principal owners of the boat. They repeatedly asserted the charge that he forgot their rights “while frolicking from port to port for his Lady’s curiosity,” and that “the profitts (we doubt not) only turns to his private advantage or the satisfaction of his & his Ladys Curiosity.”379 The courts, however, decided that the damage done to Oulton and Waldo by Savage’s “frolicking” was £360, a sum considerably less than the £1,052 9s which Oulton and Waldo submitted in their accounts.
Oulton and Waldo also figured from Savage’s accounts that he owed them £356 13s 2⅜d and hence sued him for £500. In the lower court they were awarded £184 12s 3d. Not satisfied, they appealed, and the decision was confirmed. But Savage was not through. He petitioned the General Court for the right to reopen the case on error, and then asked for £220, which he claimed was due him. Oulton and Waldo went him one better by asking for a review before King in Council, but it was denied. In May, the two parties agreed to arbitrate. After some difficulty in getting commissioners who would serve, the arbiters awarded Savage £34 2s 8d. Oulton and Waldo then brought a petition for review which the Superior Court, its patience exhausted after three and a half years of litigation, dismissed in October, 1719, as illegal.380
The suit for damage to the sloop Dragon also remained unsettled for a number of years, travelling from court to court. The owners, Stacey et al., first received a judgment of £200 and costs against Savage. Because of Savage’s absence in Europe when the decision was given, this sum had had to be paid by his bondsman, John Oulton. Oulton had then promptly sued Savage for the sum and had won his case, levying against the latter’s real estate. On his return to Boston in 1716, Savage immediately entered suit against Oulton and Waldo, who were, he claimed, liable as part owners for their proportionate share of the damages. The case in one form or another came before the Superior Court alone eight times before its settlement in November, 1718. Savage once attempted to bring the case before the Court of Vice-Admiralty but was prevented from obtaining a judgment there by a writ of prohibition issued in July, 1716, by the Superior Court. Even when he finally won back £164 18s 3d of the first judgment of £200 against him, he was not satisfied but asked for a review of the case, which, naturally enough, was denied him.381
These are the major cases fought out before the province courts. There were several others involving smaller amounts and an infinite variety of charges and counter-charges.382
Of more fundamental importance in these cases is the material found which is illustrative of the struggle between the provincial courts and the Court of Vice-Admiralty. To make this entirely clear it will be necessary to review briefly the general basis of the controversy.
The Massachusetts charter of 1691 reserved admiralty jurisdiction to the Crown but did not define its limits.383 The first two laws of the General Court establishing the Superior Court of the province were disallowed because they stated that all matters of fact were to be tried before juries—a clear attack on admiralty jurisdiction, where juries were not used.384 The third law, allowed by the King in Council, established the Superior Court with the same powers which the Court of King’s Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer in England “have or ought to have.”385 One of these powers was the right to restrict actions of the admiralty courts by the issuance of writs of prohibition. Thus the long struggle between common-law courts, with their jury trials, and the maritime courts, with more arbitrary rules, was transferred from England to America and became one more line of controversy between provincial politicians and royal officials.
Consequently, the use of writs of prohibition was often complained of by Judge Menzies386 of the Court of Vice-Admiralty in New England, and is one of the complaints specifically dealt with by Jeremiah Dummer in his Defence of the New England Charters, published in 1721 (pp. 29–32). His defence was, first, that the power of the Superior Court was not based on the charter at all but on a legislative act approved by the king, and, second, that the use of writs was wholly beneficent and necessary in order to uphold the privilege of Englishmen to be tried by jury under the common law. Dummer also argued that the right to appeal home to the Court of Delegates from the vice-admiralty decisions was not effective because judges were not likely to participate in any moves which would tend to limit their own powers. In his notes to these remarks Dummer quotes Coke and gives numerous references to English precedents for the restriction of admiralty jurisdiction by the common-law courts.387
Savage had considerable faith in the Court of Vice-Admiralty, partly perhaps because of his acquaintance made in London with Judge Menzies. As has been seen, he was prevented from getting the sloop Dragon case into the admiralty court by the use of a writ of prohibition. Other petitions to the same court followed. Oulton and Waldo refused to pay Savage’s claims for expenses after their unsuccessful attempt to dismiss him from his position as captain, claiming that until their appeal in the matter to England had been decided, they were not to be held responsible for the debts contracted. Judge Menzies, therefore, ordered the Province Galley sold to meet these claims. Oulton and Waldo petitioned that the sale, originally scheduled for September 12, 1716, be delayed.388 When the sale was finally announced for September 21, the selectmen of Boston refused to allow it to take place in the Town House, where the court sat, on the ground that it was “Forrein from the declared Intention in Erecting thereof, and such a President may be of Ill Tendency.”389 So it was some time later that the ship was finally sold, at Selby’s coffeehouse.
In the admiralty court Oulton and Waldo were charged by the advocate, James Smith, with “insulting the Honour and Dignity of His Majesties Crown and Government and opposing the Authority of the Courts of Judicature” by affixing in the Town House a paper, the contents of which we do not now know.390 They were fined £25 each by Judge Menzies. Outraged, the indignant merchants obtained a writ of prohibition from the Superior Court restraining Judge Menzies from the exercise of this jurisdiction over a matter which had occurred within their province. Sheriff Payne duly read the prohibition to the advocate, and offered to read it to Judge Menzies, but “he chose to read it himself.”391 Oulton and Waldo then sued Smith for £200 damage for his part in having them haled before the admiralty court. But Smith won in both the Inferior and the Superior courts.392
The cases continued. On September 4 and 5, 1716, Captain Savage filed libels in the admiralty court asking for decrees which would hold the Province Galley, or the sum for which she might be sold, liable for the claims of disbursements and tradesmen’s bills. The judge decreed that the ship should be responsible for the bills. From this decree Oulton and Waldo appealed, as so often before, to the common-law courts. Writs of prohibition were issued, and all matters rested pending the arrival of a decision from England regarding admiralty jurisdiction.
It is not possible from the records available in Boston to state the final solution of this conflict over admiralty jurisdiction. An entry in Sewall’s diary under date of August 4, 1719, reads: “Finish’d Examinations on the Com̄issions from Doctors Com̄ons, relating to Mr. Oulton and Waldo on the one part; and Capt. Arthur Savage on the other. Received £5 a-piece; having Spent Ten Days in the Service.”393 From this one assumes that the Court of Delegates in England, to which admiralty appeals were carried, had commissioned the judges of the Superior Court to make examination into the controversy between the merchants and the captain. But Sewall does not relate the outcome. Judge Menzies wrote from Boston to the Secretary of the Admiralty, July 20, 1721:
Since I transmitted to you Copies of my Decrees with reference to Captain Smarts’s Seizure when in this place, I have not given you the trouble of any Information of my Proceedings, or Complaints. The Provincial Judges in Colonel Shute’s Government and I having come to a better understanding in relation to Prohibitions, by his Countenance in Complyance with their Lordships Order.394
These orders, judging from the numerous complaints against prohibitions, must have been to the effect that the common-law courts were not to encroach on admiralty jurisdiction. At any rate, there was a marked falling off in the number of prohibitions. On the other hand, too, Menzies seems not so aggressive in his conduct of the court. An examination of the existing records of the Massachusetts Court of Vice-Admiralty indicates that writs of prohibition were seldom used after this time. But unfortunately, because of the destruction caused by the Stamp Act riots, the complete files of the court do not now exist. It is therefore difficult to trace the history of the conflict of jurisdiction in Massachusetts.
The career of the Province Galley after she was sold at auction was brief. She sailed again, late in October, 1716, from Long Wharf under a new captain, Othniel Beale of Marblehead. Before the end of the year she had gone to pieces, a wreck, on Block Island. In her last days she was called the Shute Galley, having been rechristened in honor of the new governor.
What are the respective merits of the claims of the captain and the merchant-owners? There is something to be said on both sides. Oulton and Waldo were grasping and unreasonable. Their money profits on the voyage were £233 9s; the ship had a new cable, a new hawser, a new long boat, new rigging, and new sails; and, besides, they had a cargo of goods consisting of 25 casks of figs, 125 dozen slates, 80 marble mortars, 3 barrels of anchovies (32 gallons each), 4 large Parmesan cheeses, 1 large marble table, and 6 marble hearths. The ship was sold because of their own obstinacy in refusing to buy the captain out.395 Further, it was they who persisted in dragging out the cases to great length.396
On the other hand, the captain was negligent in the matter of the fish; he was careless and stubborn in the case of the sloop Dragon; he was a time-waster; he disobeyed orders; he picked up a pretty penny on his own account, but at the owners’ expense, by carrying freight and passengers, besides profiting by a considerable cargo charged to himself. He may even have picked up the lion which was exhibited at his house after his return to Boston.397 Perhaps one should merely say that the voyage was an enterprise in which Yankees were trying to get the better of each other. At any rate, may we not hope that the captain and his lady received in due measure the broadening influence that should have come from “frolicking from port to port”?
Writ of Prohibition398
Province of ye
GEORGE by the Grace of God of Great Brittain, France and Ireland King, Defender of ye faith, &ca
To John Meinzies Esqr Judge of our Court of Admiralty for ye sd Province & James Smith Esqr Advocate & Ambrose Vincent Gentln marshall (& to all other ye officers) of ye sd Court Greeting—
WHEREAS John Oulton & Corns Waldo by their Petition & Suggestion to our Justices of our Superiour Court of Judicature for the Province aforesd Septr ye Eleventh Curt Have declared That they have been unjustly vexed & grived [sic] by the Judge of the sd Court of Admiralty, for a matter of fact arising within & Comitted in the Town of Boston within the County of Suffolk not Cognizable in the Court of Admiralty vizt for affixing up a paper in the sd Towne of Boston, Supposed to be a Libel, for wch they have been fined after an Exorbitant manner ye 6th of Septr Instant, as by their Suggestion more fully may Appear, we therefore being willing to Mentaine ye Laws & Rights of our Judicatories & Courts of record & being unwilling our Liege people wth Delays agst ye same to hurt. We Com̄and & firmly enjoyne you & every of you That you meddle not farther wth the sd plea or Cause nor molest or cause to be molested, ye sd John Oulton & Corns Waldo, in the Cause aforesd in the sd Court of Admiralty, neither attempt or presume to attempt anything more therein, untill our sd Justices have advised & consulted there on, at the next Superiour Court of Judicature to be holden at Boston for the County of Suffolk aforesd, on the first Tuesday of Novr next, Where you the sd John Meinzies or any other Person may be presant (If you please) To Shew forth & Mentain (If he can) That ye aforesd Cause, or plea, is Cognizable in ye sd Court of Admiralty.
Witness Wait Winthrop Esqr at Bristoll the Eleventh day of Septr In the third year of our Reign Anno: Dom: 1716
Elisha Cooke Cler
Boston, Septr 12th 1716
I this day read the Original of the within Prohibition unto Ambros Vincent Gent. Marshal of the Court of Admiralty & then delivered him a Coppy thereof Attested—
I also read the Original unto James Smith Esqr Advocate of the sd Court of Admiralty & then delivered him an attested Coppy thereof—
I also offered to read the sd Original unto John Minzes Esqr Judge of the sd Court of Admiralty but he chose to read it himselfe & after his reading the same I left the Original with him.
Wm Payne Sherif
Writ of Prohibition in the Sloop Dragon Case399
Province of the
GEORGE by the Grace of God of Great Brittain, France and Ireland King, Defender of the faith, &ca
To John Menzies Esqr Judge of His Majestys Court of Admiralty in the Province aforesd, Advocate, Register Marshall & any & all other the officers of the Said Court of Admiralty and To Capt Arthur Savage of Boston Marriner Commander now or late of the Ship Called the Province Galley & one Sixteenth pt owner Thereof Greeting.
WHEREAS It is Shewed to our Justices of our Superiour Court of Judicature at Cambridge within & for the County of Middlesex on the last Tuesday of July last past by the Grievous Complaints of John Oulton, Cornelius Waldo & Francis Wainwright of Boston aforesd Merchants that by the Constitution, Laws & Usage of this Province the Court of Admiralty is not to Intermeddle with things done within the Province, but only matters & things done on the Sea.
Nevertheless the Said Arthur Savage not Ignorant of the Premises, but designing the Said John Oulton, Cornelius Waldo, & Francis Wainwright against the Laws of the Province & diverse Statutes in that Case made & provided, Unjustly to vex & Disquiet: The Cognizance of which Plea doth to our sd Superiour Court Specially belong & appertain, the Said John Oulton, Cornelius Waldo & Francis Wainwright did draw into the said Court of Admiralty at Boston aforesaid on the Twenty first day of May now last past, before you the Said John Menzies for the payment or Contribution of their Proportion or Severall Shares of the Sum of Two hundred thirty Eight pounds thirteen Shillings & eleven pence, Supposing the Fact on which the sd Sum did arise to be within the Jurisdiction of the Court of Admiralty: Whereas in truth the same was done within the Body of the County of Essex & fully heard & determined before our said Justices of our sd Superiour Court of Judicature.
We therefore Prohibit you the said John Menzies and all other the officers of the Said Court of Admiralty as well as the Said Arthur Savage That the aforesd Libell of the Said Arthur Savage against the Said John Oulton, Cornelius Waldo & Francis Wainwright Upon the premises, You do not further hold nor Attempt to hold or proceed any further thereon in our Contempt, as you will answer the Contrary at yr Peril. Witness Wait Winthrop Esqr at Boston the Sixth day of August in the Third Year of our Reign Annoque Domini.
Boston Augt 6t 1716
A true Coppy of the Prohibition this day read by me to Judge Menzies and his officers in the Admiralty Court &c.
ꝑ Wm Payne Sherif
Libel against Province Galley
To the Honble John Menzeis Esqr Judge of Admiralty in New England or to his Lawful Deputy Libel & Information of Arthur Savage Mariner against the Ship province Galley now lying in the Harbour of Boston in New England
WHEREAS the Ship Province Galley by your Honrs Decree pronounced in Court the 31st of August last past upon an Information exhibited in behalf of the Mariners lately belonging to the sd Ship was adjudicated & ordained to be sold publickly on the 12th Instant for payment of wages due to the sd Mariners and Satisfaction for damages by them sustained as by the decree itself more fully and clearly may appear And Whereas Arthur Savage Master of the sd Ship during the time he hath served in that Employment hath pursuant to his Duty at several times especially since the 11th of April last made several Disbursements a particular And whereof in distinct Articles is fully & truely stated in a schedule hereunto annexed (which it is prayd may be taken and Considered as a part of this Libel & that due reference may be had thereto) for the safety & service of the sd Ship amounting in all to the Sum of Twenty Seven pounds Eight Shillings eleven pence and the said Arthur Savage humbly conceiving that the sd Ship is liable to answer the disbursements & demands in the sd schedule set forth & expressed according to Law and the practice of this Honble Court It is therefore humbly prayd in his behalf that upon due consideration had of the premises your Honor would be pleased by your definitive Decree to ordain the sd Ship to be Liable as above and by Citation Issued out of Court to order all persons concerned as Owners in the Same to appear in Court at a certain day to Show Cause why Sentence should not pass accordingly—conform to the Laws Civil & Marine Usages of Admiralty and the Tenour of this Libel. Sic Subscribr Ja. Smith.
filed Septr 4th allowed to cite
to Septr 5th sic subscribitur J. Menzeis J: ad.
A true Copy Examd ꝑ Edward Weaver, dty, Regr
Petition to Superior Court against Admiralty Jurisdiction
Province of the
To the Honble His Majesties Justices of the Superior Court of Judicature for the sd Province &ca
The Humble Petition of John Oulton and Cornelius Waldo both of Boston merchts and three quarter part owners of the Ship province Galley now Lying in the harbour of Boston Humbly sheweth
THAT your Petitioners have the Last week been prosecuted In the Court of Admiralty at Boston In and by Severall Libells or Informations at the Suit of James Smith Esqr and Capt Arthur Savage and Thereupon Sundry orders and Decrees have been made Agst your Petitioners by the Judge of sd Court Copies of all which are hereto annexed. But for as much as your Petitioners are Informed that the Severall matters things and Charges alleged & Contained In the sd Libells and so In the sd Orders or Decrees are by no means tryable in any Court of Admiralty—But only in the Courts of Com̄on Law and that therefore your Petitioners ought not to be Compelled to Comply with or Answer the Same In the sd Court of Admiralty for the reasons or Suggestions hereunto also annexed.
Your Petitioners therefore most Humbly pray your honours who are the keepers of the Laws and Liberties of this his Majesties Province that you would be pleased to Consider of the Severall Suggestions which your Petitioners have offered against the Severall Libells and proceedings of the sd Court of Admiralty and order a writ of Prohibition to the sd Court of Admiralty Directing them to proceed no further on the sd Libells and to stay Execution on sd orders or decrees untill the Same have been fairly & fully heard and Argued before Your honours at Such Time and place as shall be appointed to know whether the sd matters and Causes are Cognizable In the sd Court of Admiralty or not. Your Petitioners being ready to give Security to Prosecute their sd Complaint and to make out by Law that the aforesd matters and Causes are Tryable only In the Courts of Common Law
And Your Petitioners as In duty bound Shall Ever Pray
Septemr 10th 1716
Bristol Septermr 11th 1716
Received & filed ꝑ Elisha Cooke Cler:
Present Samll Sewell, Nathll Thomas, Benjamin Lynde, & Addington Davenport Esqr four of the Justices of the Superior Court of Judicature of the Province in the County of Suffolk.
Ordered that a writ be Issued out to stay all further proceedings in the Matter of the fine of Oulton & Waldo til the Judges have advised at the next Superiour Court of Judicature to be held at Boston the first Tuesday of Novemr next.
Paul Dudley Esqr & Jn° Valentine Gent
Recognized in £50 that sd Oulton & Waldo prosecute their Petition & Suggestions & pay all Costs in Case they cannot maintain the Same.
Attt Elisha Cooke Cler
The Severall & Respective Suggestions of John Oulton & Cornelius Waldo against the Proceedings of the Court of Admiralty at Boston on Severall Libells there Exhibited Agst Them and first as to the Libell of James Smith, Esqr for Affixing a paper In the Town House of Boston.
Your Petitioners suggest
1st That it being a matter of fact Transacted In the Town of Boston within the body of the County the Court of Admiralty Cannot have Cognizance of it for the Libell itself alleges it to be done at Boston.
2d for that by the Laws of England and of our own Province all Scandalous papers or Libells are Expresly to be Tried by the Court of Common Law.
3 for that by the very Decree itself the fines Imposd are not to the King as all fines ought but to be Disposd of in an arbitrary way as the sd Court shall Direct. And then the Place of Commitments is very Uncertain for it is Either to the Tolbooth which Is somewhere In Scotland or Else your Petitioners must be sent to a prison house of Boston.
4 for that by the words of the Libell your Petitioners are Chargd with Insulting the Honour and Dignity of his Majesties Crown and Government and opposing the Authority of his Courts of Judicature which Sounds like an Information at the Suit of the King’s Attorney Genl or a presentment of the Grand Jury for Certainly matters relating to the Crown and Government or any Court of Judicature Belong to and must be Tried In the King’s Courts of Common Law for that the Court of Admiralty Is no Court of Record.
2 As to the order or Decree of the Court of Admiralty for Selling of the sd Ship Province Galley The Petitioners Suggest
1 That they offerd their severall parts or proportions of the Sailors waiges In order to prevent the Sale of the sd Ship and therein did all that they Could be obliged to by any Law whatsoever and for this they are ready to produce good authority in the Law.
2 For that by a former Decree of the Court of Admiralty the sd Ship Is in Custody of the marshall of sd Court from which Decree your Petitioners appeal to the High Court of Admiralty In England and have given bond to prosecute their Appeal and the papers are accordingly Transmitted for England and yet now Pendente Lite before the sd Appeal be Determined the sd Judge has ordered the Ship to be Sould which would as well Confound the sd Decree as your Petitioners Interest In sd Ship which Is very Considerable.
Decision of Superior Court in Admiralty Dispute
Court of Assize and General Gaol Delivery began at Boston, November 5, 1717
John Oulton and Cornelius Waldo of Boston in the County of Suffolk Merchants who as well as for Our Soverign Lord the King as for themselves in this behalf prosecute &c …. Appellants
From the Judgment of an Inferiour Court of Com̄on Pleas begun and held at Boston for and within the County of Suffolk on the first Tuesday of July Being the Second day of the said Month Annoque Domini 1717
James Smith of Boston in the County Aforesd Esqr …. Appellee
IN a plea of the Case for that Whereas at a Parliment held at Westminster In the Thirteenth year of the reign of King Richard the Second amongst other things It is Accorded and Assented in these words (Vizt) That the Admirals and their Deputyes shall not Meddle from thenceforth of any thing done within the Realme but only of a thing done upon the Sea as it hath been used in the time of the Noble Prince King Edward Grand Father of our Lord The King that now is, And Whereas also by one other Act of Parliment held at Westminster in the Fifteenth year of the reign of the said King Richard the Second It is Declared Ordained and Established in these words Vizt That of all manner of Contracts pleas and quarrells and of all other things done riseing within the body’s of County’s as well as by Land as by Water and also Wreck of the Sea the Admiral’s Courts shall have no manner of Cognizance power nor Jurisdiction, but all Such manner of Contracts Pleas and quarrells and all other things riseing within the body’s of County’s as well by land as by water as afore and also Wrecks of the Sea shall be tryed determined Discussed and remedyed by the Laws of the Land and not before nor by the Admiral nor his Leiutenant in any wise And moreover Whereas by one other Act of Parliament held at Westminster the Second Year of the Reign of King Henry the fourth, It is amongst other things Contained in these words Vizt Item Whereas in the Statute made at Westminster the Thirteenth Year of the said King Richard amongst other things it is Contained that the Admirals and their Deputyes shall not intermeddle from thenceforth of any thing done within the realme but only of a thing done upon the Sea according as it hath been duely used in the time of the Noble King Edward Grand Father to the said King Richard, Our said Lord the King Will & Granteth that the said Statute be firmly holden & keept and put in due Execution. And more over the Same Our Lord the King by the Advice and Assent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and at the Prayer of the said Com̄ons hath Ordained and Stablished that as touching a pain to be Sett upon the Admiral or his Leiutenant that the Statute and the Com̄on Law be holden against them And that he that feeleth himself grieved against the form of the said Statute Shall have his Action by Writ grounded upon the Case against him that doth so persue in the Admirals Court and Recover his double damages against the Pursuant, And the same pursuant shall incurr the pain of Tenn pounds to the King for the pursuit so made if he be Attainted: As in and by the said Several Acts of Parliament more at large it doth and may Appear Whereupon the said John Oulton and Cornelius Waldo who as well for our said Soverign Lord the King as for themselves in this behalf prosecute & Complain that the said James Smith on the Fifth day of Sepr In the third year of his Majestyes Reign at Boston aforesaid in the Court of Admiralty then held before John Menzies Esqr Judge of the said Court did Sign file and prosecute a Libell or Information against the said John Oulton and Cornelius Waldo for a pretended Libell or Contempt against the said Court of Admiralty And in the prosecution of the sd Information the said James Smith Unjustly and Contrary to law did Cause the said Plaintiffs to be arraigned at the Barr of the said Court and also to be Fined the sum of Twenty five pounds each altho if any Such Libell or Contempt had been Com̄itted by the said Plaintiffs against the said Court of Admiralty it was done at Boston within the body of the County of Suffolk aforesd and not upon the Sea or within the Jurisdiction of the said Court of Admiralty which is in Contempt of our sd Soverign Lord the King and to the greivous damage of the said John Oulton and Cornelius Waldo and against the form of the Statutes aforesaid, Whereupon the said John Oulton and Cornelius Waldo say that they are the worse to their damage as they say the sum of Two hundred pounds, At which said Court Judgment was rendered after mature Advisement hereon, That the Writ or process shall Abate and the Defendant recover his Costs.
Both parties Appeared the Writ Judgment reasons of Appeal and all things touching the same being fully discussed—It’s therefore Considered by the Court that the former Judgmt be affirmed and the Appellee be Allowed Costs of Courts.
The Editor, on behalf of Mr. Fulmer Mood, presented by title the following paper:
Henry Robinson and the Authorship of the Bahama
Articles and Orders
AT the last meeting of this Society I communicated the text of an anonymous broadside, printed in 1647, presumably at London: Articles and Orders, made and agreed upon the 9th Day of July, 1647.403 The piece relates to a projected colonial venture to be undertaken in the Bahama Islands. There is no clue as to the identity of the writer. Yet, because the intellectual content of the document is so rich and so “advanced,” it has seemed that an effort to determine the authorship is worth while.
The method that has been followed is simplicity itself. The ideas contained in the broadside have been grouped into categories and analyzed, and the findings compared with the opinions of various contemporary schools of English thought. Thus it has been possible to eliminate several sources from consideration, to narrow the circle to one segment of opinion, and finally to bring forward the name of one particular person as the likely candidate for authorship.
The ideas dealt with in the Articles and Orders may be classified under five headings: religious, political, legal, military, and economic.
The author of the broadside repudiates the position of ecclesiastical uniformity, rejects the idea of religious persecution, and upholds in firm fashion the theory of toleration. He establishes it as a rule of conduct to be followed in the projected Bahama colony that there be “no names of distinction or reproach, as Independent, Antinomian, Anabaptist, or any other cast upon any such for their difference in judgement.…” He believes that spiritual knowledge unfolds itself and illuminates the individual soul by a logic all its own, that revelation is progressive, and that, as trade and government flourish under religious toleration, so do they suffer in its absence.
Such a pronouncement of friendliness for Independents and sectaries helps at once to circumscribe the area in which the unknown author moves. One may feel safe henceforth in excluding from consideration Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Presbyterians. It is in the group of Independents and sectaries that one must seek him out. The current champions of toleration were Independents like John Goodwin and Henry Robinson, and Levellers like John Lilburne and William Walwyn.404 The idea of progressive revelation of religious truth is found clearly expressed, among other places, in a tract of 1643, Liberty of Conscience:
…though a Christian live never so long, yet he both may, and ought still to grow from grace to grace, and from knowledge to knowledge, continually ayming, and endeavouring, untill he arrive to a perfect man according to the measure of stature and fulnesse of Christ, in both which respects an inquisition or persecution for matters of Religion may not be tollerated: First, because it would as much as in us lyes, still withold such saving truth and knowledge as yet undiscovered, and unto which we are to attaine by degrees only, for not any of them but at first sight and hearing, is accounted heresie to most men, and much adoe there is before we will imbrace it.…405
The same writer goes on to observe that in France men of breeding are careful to raise no unnecessary questions about religious matters, but that in England it is common for Protestants to reproach one another with terms of abuse like “Puritan,” “Separatist,” “Presbyterian,” or “Independent.”406 The broadside is like an echo of the spirit of this remark.
William Walwyn, a friend of the English sectaries, expressed the identical position the same year when he wrote:
Great is the power of love, for love makes men to bee of one mind: and what can bee too strong for men united in love? … I doe not meane that you should marke those, that are different from you in judgement, with any ridiculous or reproach-full names: but my advice is that you marke those that make divisions amongst you, and those are they that have invented a name of reproach for every particular difference in judgement.…407
Soul liberty is to be established in the Bahamas. It is clearly stipulated in the prospectus that the jurisdiction of magistrates in the colony “shall reach onely to men as men.” It is understood that the projected settlement will be a Christian community. Planters and servants are to be religious folk, subject in civil affairs to their government, but free to worship as they choose. From one point of view the Articles and Orders partakes of the nature of a plantation covenant. It unites men who are devoted to a common purpose for the prosecution of civil ends. Since magistrates are denied power to regulate the religious life of the people, the religious folk are obliged to organize their churches outside the cognizance of the State. Thus the principle of the separation of Church and State is plainly implied. The plantation covenant, in the civil sphere, complements the church covenant in the ecclesiastical sphere.
A kind of test, applicable to servants as well as freemen, restricts membership in the projected colony: those persons who are qualified by reason of their belief in Jesus Christ, who walk, according to their lights, in all godliness, justice, and sobriety, may be admitted. All servants who are Christians are eventually to be eligible for certain benefactions. The text seems to imply that non-Christian servants are excluded from such gifts. In any case, it is plain that the base of Bahamian society was to be not secular but, as far as possible, religious. The presence of the principle of the separation of Church and State indicates that the unknown author of the plan, if not himself a sectary or Independent, stood in a close, sympathetic relation to those groups.408
A further indication of the Christian quality of the Bahama experiment is to be seen in the provisions in the broadside for educating, or at least training, the Indians in the teachings of Jesus. Such a provision reflects a well-defined contemporary interest often discussed in London at this time. It appears, then, that the writer has familiarized himself with this discussion, and has absorbed its substance into his own thinking. As he seeks to apply in a practical way the best resultant of Walwyn’s Power of Love, one may conclude that his purpose does as much credit to his heart as to his intelligence.409
The store of political ideas contained in the broadside is indeed rich. The author begins by adapting to his own uses the traditional corporate form of business organization. He is dealing with the business corporation, created to regulate profit-making activities on tropical islands, but the traditional shell is filled with a content of new life. This new life is, by and large, the republican philosophy and the republican spirit. The writer has no liking for the principle of hereditary monarchy. He boldly terms his newly fashioned polity a “Re-publick.” So it is that in this projected colony one sees the shadow of that coming event which was to end monarchy in England and replace it by a commonwealth. The Articles and Orders was drafted a year and a half before Charles I lost his head and his crown: it is thus, in a measure, prophetic of the future.
The fundamental law of the proposed Bahama republic is embodied in a written constitution. In so far as this document is a plantation covenant, it requires that every person who proposes to settle in the new community shall be obliged, by subscribing his name, to give his consent to all the provisions of the Articles and Orders. In so far as the document establishes authority, apportions functions, affirms rights, and restrains the exercise of powers, it is an organic law, and, in this instance, a written constitution. This was an age when the waters of institutional experiment and constitutional theory ran fast indeed. No more than seven years had passed since Charles I had called the Long Parliament. Already innovations were making themselves felt in the world of traditional political forms. The unknown author of this plan satisfies himself with a legislature of one chamber. Many months were to pass before England abolished the House of Lords. He is plainly, in this respect, a friend to innovation. And he unhesitatingly accepts that radical doctrine of the day, the sovereignty of parliament. He endows his Bahama legislature, as will shortly appear, with full power. Thus he reduces to practice in a colonial polity one of the practical teachings of parliamentary activity since 1640. Obviously the creator of this set of institutions was no royalist. He represented the immediate future, not the recent past, of England and English political experience.
It would be rash to assume, however, that this author stopped at no political radicalism, for certainly he knew where to draw the line, and he drew it at a point easily perceived. It so happens that there was going on in England at this time a vigorous dispute concerning the right to vote. When it was asked who were entitled to exercise the suffrage, two sharply different answers were heard. The conservative reply was that only property owners should be allowed this privilege. The radical reply insisted that every able adult male should have the right. The issue was in full evidence in the army debates of 1647,410 and, indeed, earlier still. In 1646, Thomas Edwards, no friend to sectaries and radicals, had declared the position of the army extremists to be this: “That, seeing all men are by nature the Sons of Adam, and from him have legitimately derived a naturall propriety, right, and freedom, Therefore … all particular persons in every Nation … ought to be alike free and estated in their naturall Liberties, and to enjoy the just Rights and Prerogatives of mankind….”411 First among these rights was that of a voice in electing members of parliament. The army democrats argued that government rested on the consent of the governed. Rainborow and Wildman urged the principle of universal suffrage. “I thinke its cleare,” declared the former, “that every man that is to live under a governement ought first by his own consent to putt himself under that governement; and I doe thinke that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that government that he hath not had a voice to putt himself under.”412 One could easily multiply similar expressions of opinion.
To this philosophy of natural right was opposed the property theory of the suffrage, the position which affirmed that only those with a “stake in society” should have a vote in determining the common concerns. Ireton, a leader among the Independent grandees, spoke for the conservatives:
For my part I thinke itt is noe right att all. I thinke that noe person hath a right to an interest or share in the disposing or determining of the affaires of the Kingdome, and in chusing those that shall determine what lawes wee shall bee rul’d by heere, noe person hath a right to this, that hath nott a permanent fixed interest in this Kingedome; and those persons together are properly the Represented of this Kingedome, and consequentlie are to make uppe the Representors of this Kingedome, who taken together doe comprehend whatsoever is of reall or permanent interest in the Kingedome.413
Thus in 1647 the issue was clearly stated, but for the moment neither Levellers and army democrats on the one side nor Independent grandees on the other stubbornly insisted on pressing matters to a conclusion. In the autumn of 1647 two significant paper schemes were drawn up as a basis for the discussion of the liberties of Englishmen wearied by a horrid civil war, yet neither in the Heads of the Proposals nor in the Agreement of the People was mention made of the suffrage qualification. The alliance between the two groups was so vital to the safety of each member of the combination that the problem was prudently passed over. But in 1653, after the Levellers had been crushed, and the Independent grandees were in the saddle, able to shape institutions and requirements to their own liking, the Instrument of Government incorporated in its eighteenth clause the “stake in society” theory that Ireton had defended some years before. The stipulation reads that “all and every person and persons seised or possessed to his own use, of any estate, real or personal, to the value of £200, and not within the aforesaid exceptions, shall be capable to elect members to serve in Parliament for counties.”414
This conservative stand on the suffrage question is anticipated in the Articles and Orders of July, 1647; and thus one deduces that the author of the document, however experimental and innovating in some of his schemes, was at bottom a firm believer in the rights of property. The broadside reads: “That the present Adventurers, and all other persons, who within the space of one year now next ensuing, shall bring into the publick stock, the sum of 100l shall be admitted and reckoned into the number of the first Adventurers, their number not exceeding one hundred persons.” The sum required is just half that exacted in the Instrument of Government of 1653, but, even so, £100 was sufficient to exclude the great mass of persons from participating in the Bahama experiment. Plainly there was in contemplation a wealthy, exclusive society. The anonymous writer was obviously no believer in the doctrine of the natural right to vote, and one is therefore not likely to go astray in seeking him among the Independent grandees, among men like Cromwell and Ireton.
The economic form of the trading corporation is deftly combined by the author with the political republic. A person who subscribes his £100 to the common stock thereupon becomes, in his business capacity, an adventurer; and in his political capacity, a senator of Eleuthera. There are to be one hundred senators and adventurers. The general rule is to be that a senator holds office for life, but two qualifications are to be noted: first, a senator divests himself of his rank when he sells his business interest in the concern; and again, he may be “amoved by the said Senate, upon just cause or complaint.” The latter proviso incorporates in the Articles and Orders a constitutional doctrine put forward shortly before by Levellers and Independents against their Presbyterian brethren in parliament. To ensure that the senate will be responsive to the wishes of the community, this opportunity for “purgation” or removal is given. On June 15, 1647, the English army had demanded that the Long Parliament be purged of corrupt members, by which it meant Presbyterians who had defamed Levellers and Independent democrats. The army pressure was successful, and on June 26 eleven Presbyterians, leading men, withdrew from the House of Commons.415 Another case of the sort, more famous by far, was destined to follow.416 It is clear that the writer has been watching current politics with a keen eye; that he is in sympathy with the principle of the army demand that the legislature should be responsive to the people, in whom is supreme power; and that he includes the provision for senatorial removal with a definite purpose in mind. He has generalized on the basis of a small episode, and erected a universal principle on it. Here, again, he displays that in his political thinking he is close to Independency.
His main political problem is to create a government marked by the twin characteristics of stability and energy. He ensures continuity and permanence by providing that the senators shall hold their places for life. He does not throw light on the question of how frequently the senate is to meet, but it is not—so much is plain—to be in session every day. In the senate, repository of wealth and skill and influence, is vested full political power. Probably it would hold its sessions fairly often. But in order to ensure a rigorous and efficient administration, the writer provides in addition a small organ of government, a council of twelve and a governor. These thirteen officials are to be in perpetual session, to exercise delegated power, and to be responsible to the senate, which elects them to office for a term of one year. A period of authority as short as this argues a fear of misuse of authority; perhaps, therefore, short terms in office are to be combined with rotation of the several senators. The principle of rotation was dear to the hearts of republican theorists, and it would be surprising if it were not intended that it be practised in the present instance.417
The author has learned one of the lessons of war government: the need for emergency powers. Hence he provides that “the said Governor and Councel, shall have power to call together upon any emergency, to the said Senate or so many of them, as shall then be upon the said Islands, and to act and execute what shall be by the said convention of Senators, ordered and referred, or committed unto them.”418
The political future of the Bahama republic is guarded carefully. When senators sell their interest, or die, vacancies in the senate are to be filled according to a prescribed plan. Nominations, presumably by the senate, are to be made to the number of twenty “fit” persons. Three fourths of the nominees are to be discarded by “scrutiny,” that is, by a formal taking of individual votes. Then, of the five nominees who remain, one is to be elected by the major part of the senate voting by “ballotines.” In order to obviate the evil of absenteeism, the new senator must be a resident of the islands. By “fit” persons are meant, no doubt, those who meet the religious and financial requirements of the Articles and Orders. Thus the method of indirect elections is adhered to, ensuring that the senate will be protected from the poisons and corruptions of the body politic.
In this political system one beholds an aristocratic republicanism which combines elements making for stability with features that provide firmness and energy in administration. A written constitution outlines the scheme of government; theoretical sovereignty is in the people, properly interpreted; practical sovereignty is vested in the senate; and such devices as indirect elections, a limited term of office, and perhaps rotation in trust, are employed. One is at once reminded of the political theories of James Harrington, who in Oceana (1656) devoted a brilliant talent and much thought to the exposition of precisely such a philosophy of government as this.419
This sketch of the proposed Bahama governmental system anticipates in a remarkable way the institutions of the English Commonwealth. The House of Commons corresponds to the Bahama senate. In both cases there exists a legislature of a single chamber. In both cases, again, the legislature is aided by a small council elected by the larger body. And in both cases, finally, the legislatures make use of a system of committees.
Advanced ideas on legal reform were entertained by the anonymous author of the Articles and Orders. This topic, too, was much under discussion at the time. Walwyn and Lilburne wrote tracts complaining of abuses in the law and in the administration of justice. Winstanley, Wiseman, Warr, Leach, Parker, and Henry Robinson did likewise.420 One need not here introduce the substantive element in these complaints; as a matter of fact, there existed a number of genuine causes for dissatisfaction. To this movement in opinion the writer is certainly responsive when he asserts that “the equal distribution of justice, and respect to all persons, without faction or distinction,” are desirable in the Bahama plantation. And elsewhere he insists that there shall be “speedy justice done unto every man that shall seek it at their [the senate’s] hands.” Not only political radicals like the Levellers, but also practising lawyers voiced a demand for reform. The merchant Henry Robinson joined in the chorus. In 1641, he published a tract, England’s Safety in Trade’s Encrease, in the course of which he proposed that a special court be set up to settle differences between merchants.421 Time was valuable, he argued, and the merchant needed speedy justice. Mercantile affairs involved technical knowledge such as many judges did not possess. Current legal procedure was slow, expensive, and troublesome. Rascals were able to bring suit without good cause for action. To reform abuses, Robinson suggested that a merchants’ court be set up on the model of an Italian institution he describes. In this way knotty business conflicts could be solved quickly and cheaply.422
There are in the Articles and Orders some observations on military impressment which tell another tale of close attention to current popular demands, especially to those of the radical democrats. A denial of the right of impressment, though carefully qualified, is contained in the broadside. The problem was a vital issue at the very time now under discussion. Late in March, 1647, the officers of the army were circulating a petition which, among other matters, raised the question of the right of parliament to send soldiers to Ireland against their will. The officers and men opposed the parliamentary proposal, asserting: “That those who have voluntarily served the Parliament in the late Warrs may not hereafter be compelled by press or otherwise to serve as souldiers out of this Kingdome.”423 In the Agreement of the People, adopted by the democrats late in October, 1647, this demand was still insisted upon: “That the matter of impresting and constraining any of us to serve in the wars is against our freedom; and therefore we do not allow it in our Representatives….”424 As long as parliament retained the idea of an Irish expedition, just so long was this note of resistance to impressment sounded.
In the Articles and Orders one reads: “That none shall be compelled to take Arms, or go to war out of the Countrey unless it be for the necessary defence thereof, and to expel or divert an eminent invasion, neither shall any be suffered to take any depredations or invasions upon any, either by Sea or Land, unless upon a War first begun by them and open War by the said Plantations, first denounced against them.” The principle of nonimpressment is laid down, with the obvious intention of setting at rest the minds of prospective settlers weary of war; but the principle is so whittled away by concessions and qualifications that it could hardly amount to any safeguard at all. The writer is showing his hand here: it is plain that he cherishes imperialistic schemes for the Caribbean theater of action. He wishes settlers from the ranks of discontented army officers, and he must lull their suspicions to sleep if possible; hence his seeming acceptance of the principle. But he does not entirely conceal the fact that he expects that military adventures will use the Bahamas as a base in the same way as they had already used Old Providence. He has in the back of his mind exploits which will make the Spaniard wince. One seems to sense at this point the influence of the Earl of Warwick, militant champion of Protestantism and English expansion in West Indian waters. It is possible that the writer and the earl were coöperating at this juncture.425
As in religion and politics, so in economic matters the unknown author is inventive and original. His proposals for the exploitation of the natural resources of the Bahamas are based upon what would seem to be a fairly accurate knowledge of existing conditions. He first arranges for the granting of land. Each original adventurer is to receive three hundred acres of land in one dividend, and two thousand acres more in a second and subsequent dividends. For the first three years of the plantation’s existence, adventurers are to cultivate their lands in common. This provision undertakes to keep planters near one another during the infancy of the colony, and allows variety of occupation while ensuring the production of sufficient foodstuffs. At the end of the three-year period, the grants of three hundred acres to which each adventurer is to be legally entitled are to be made. The apportionment of particular parcels is to be made by lot, a device intended to obviate both possible corruption in making assignments and the certain ill feeling that would follow from this.426 The larger grants of two thousand acres are to be postponed, though made “with as much convenient speed, as the occasions of the Plantation will permit.” Each adventurer is to have an equity, in addition, in such other land as remains undistributed. This undivided acreage would constitute a kind of public domain, and supervision over it is entrusted to the senate or to such committees as that body may appoint.
Among the resources of the Bahamas were salt-pans, rich stands of exotic timber—mahogany, fustic, lignum vitae, and the like—and ambergris. The aim of the unknown writer in arranging his schemes for the use of these commodities was to ensure that, as the adventurers had shared equally in the investment, so should they share equally in the profits. Strife and vexation would almost certainly be introduced into the society of high-minded religious folk if a handful of them engrossed these rich resources to the exclusion of the community as a whole. To avoid this undesirable consequence, the author devises an interesting system of public works. It is not necessary to recapitulate his provisions here, for they may be read in the text of the broadside. It is only to be remarked that careful regulations are laid down, and definite penalties prescribed, for infraction of the rules. The hour of laissez-faire had not yet struck in the Bahamas: government regulation was the prevailing theory. The natural resources of the Bahama frontier are to be utilized according to an orderly plan. The scheme embraces a method of producing the commodities and a mode of marketing them. It is proposed that the senate shall appoint a committee of two skilled merchants. There is also an arrangement for the division of the proceeds in an equitable manner. In this plan, self-interest and the common good are both consulted. One experiences a feeling of admiration for the thought and skill which went into this scheme. Matter-of-fact person though he was, the writer was not without his share of benevolence. He envisages Bahama society making provision for works of mercy and charity. That this was not empty talk the first benefaction to Harvard College bears lasting witness.427
It is uncertain whether the labor system that he assumes as the base of his projected society is more or less liberal than those obtaining in other parts of English America at this time. Indentured servants in Bahama, having completed their term, are to be granted by the governor and council plots of twenty-five acres. One is not informed precisely how many years the servants are to labor; if for three years, then they are to be better off than the servants in the West Indies, who often spent four years or more in bondage. Some curiously detailed provisions cover the case where a servant is sent from England, but dies on the way out to the plantation. These provisions seem to be designed to set at rest a current dispute in plantation economy, a dispute that appears to have involved as parties colonial proprietors on the one hand and, on the other, English owners of shipping.428
It seems a just inference that the projector of the Bahama scheme contemplates that a monopoly of internal trade will be exercised by the Bahama Company. He also assumes that ownership and administration will be united. The public enterprises—salt-ponds, timber-cuttings, and the collection of ambergris—are to be conducted by committees appointed by the senate. This is proper, since legally all senators possess equities in these natural resources in so far as they are found on public property. Constitutionally, the expedient by which the writer curbs the liberty of individual entrepreneurs in business affairs is interesting. He makes use of the majority of the senators to restrain the activities of a few. This seems to be the continuance of a medieval and early modern point of view.429 In some respects the liberty of the subject, considered as a member of the senate and an adventurer, is abridged. In others, the liberty of the subject, if he be not a member of the senate, is insufficiently protected. Although the written constitution provides a scheme of government, what is there to keep the senate from becoming a tyrannical body? The Levellers dreaded, and with good reason, a tyrannical parliament as much as they feared a tyrannical king. How was arbitrary exercise of power to be hindered? A written constitution would be something of an attempt toward this end, as would be the doctrine of the separation of powers. The Bahama government is to be a government of fused powers. It concentrates in the senate legislative, judicial, and administrative or executive power. The senate is the source of positive law and, except for its creature, the council and governor, the instrument of policy. The powers of government are not separated, for its creator did not think this separation vital to his scheme. One recalls that Lilburne, the Leveller and champion of popular liberty, originated the doctrine of the separation of powers, and that his discovery dates from a few months after the time of this broadside.430
The leading religious, political, legal, military, and economic ideas incorporated in the Articles and Orders of 1647 have now been surveyed. From the foregoing observations it is reasonably clear that, as far as the author’s political stand may be determined, he was either an Independent or else close to the Independents of the more conservative stripe; in religion he was a friend of the principle of toleration, contended for by Independents and sectaries alike; in economic thought he was original as well as traditional, combining practical skill with a grasp of reality and a satisfactory knowledge of human behavior. Contemporary issues of moment had registered their effects on his brain, and he displayed the capacity to profit by the lessons of the day. He probably stood in some relation, more or less intimate, to the Earl of Warwick. One should not seek him in the ranks of the purely theological thinkers, but among men less narrow in their training. When one cons over the business men of the day, men who also were thinkers and theorists, one first pitches upon the name of Henry Robinson.
Concerning this talented man Dr. W. A. Shaw has some pertinent observations:
In a period which was to witness the short-lived triumph of dogmatic Calvinism and of ecclesiastic Presbyterianism … it was, strangely enough, a layman and a business man who was to be the first to point intolerant Presbyterian and fighting Independent to the true path of free development and wisdom—the path, namely, of tolerance in matters of religion—of freedom of conscience. That layman, unskilled, long-winded, and lumbrous as a writer, yet of wonderful originality and width of view, was Henry Robinson.
Dr. Gardiner was the first to point out the existence of an anonymous tract on Liberty of Conscience, the date of which is distinctly anterior to the similar tracts which the Baptist Church or any other has claimed to have been the first to anticipate the modern spirit, by showing the way of toleration. By a brilliant process of deduction, Mr. Firth has traced the authorship of this anonymous tract to Robinson, and the identification has revealed, in the figure of this London merchant, a versatility of gift and inventiveness of nature, which are little short of astounding.
Robinson was the eldest son of a London mercer…. He was born in 1605, and educated at St. John’s College, Oxford, but was apparently taken from Oxford and put to business before he had opportunity to graduate. He visited and lived in Constantinople, probably as his father’s factor, and at the age of twenty-eight was residing at Leghorn. Several indications exist in his works of other places on the Continent where he doubtless resided and traded. There can be little question that it was his travel which gave him his broad views on religion, as well as that intimate first-hand knowledge of business and exchange matters which he evinces in such of his tracts as bear on trade and commerce. On his return to England he continued to pursue his merchant business, but not that alone. He set up a private printing-press, from which he preached toleration to his countrymen … he brought forth propositions without measure or end for the practical advancement of trade, for the ease of the poor, for the registration of land, for the reform of legal procedure, for the establishment of banks, of state pawnshops, and what not more? … Under Cromwell he was Auditor of the Excise, he was a member of the committee for taking the accounts of the Commonwealth, and was Comptroller for the sale of the King’s lands. He saw the inner workings of the Commonwealth national finance, as well as of Commonwealth commerce and navigation.
His tracts on trade deserve to be reprinted entire, as well for the practical details of the 17th century commerce, which they contain, as for the curious originality of many of Robinson’s propositions.431
In this summary description of Henry Robinson’s quality there is nothing that militates against the hypothesis that he drafted the Bahama Articles and Orders. And a rapid survey of the titles of his known tracts brings additional support to the suggestion.
Robinson published: 1. England’s Safety in Trade’s Encrease (London, 1641), which contains in germ many of the ideas afterward discussed or debated at greater length in separate tracts. 2. Libertas, or Reliefe to the English Captives in Algier (London, 1642), embodying a proposal to clear the Mediterranean for English commerce, and confine the Turk to Constantinople, thus evincing well-defined imperialistic views. 3. Liberty of Conscience (London, 1644), a powerful statement of the case for toleration. 4. An Answer to Mr. William Prynne’s Twelve Questions concerning Church Government (London, 1644), which debates Presbyterian objections to Independent ideas. 5. John the Baptist ([London?], September, 1644), another tract dealing with liberty of conscience. 6. Certaine brief Observations (1644), an attack on Prynne. 7. An Answer to Mr. John Dury (London, 1644), a tract on church affairs. 8. The Falsehood of William Prynne’s Truth Triumphing (London, 1645), opposing Presbyterianism. 9. Some Few Considerations (London, 1646), dealing with religious problems. 10. A Short Discourse between Monarchical and Aristocratical Government, or a sober Persuasive of all true-hearted Englishmen to a willing conjunction with the Parliament of England in setting up the Government of a Commonwealth (London, 1649). This argues in favor of aristocratic republicanism, but leaves unsettled the then pressing issue of the rights of the broad masses as against the new rulers of the state. 11. Briefe Considerations concerning the Advancement of Trade and Navigation (London, 1650). 12. The Office of Addresses and Encounters, or The only Course for poor people to get speedy employment, and to keep others from approaching poverty, for want of Emploiment (London, 1650). This outlines a scheme for opening on Threadneedle Street, London, a registration office for both merchants and the needy. The idea behind it is at least as old as Montaigne’s Essays, and may be traced in English literature through Sir Walter Raleigh, Lord Bacon, Hartlib, Petty, and on to Robinson. 13. Certain Considerations in order to a more speedy, cheap, and equal distribution of Justice (London, 1651), devoted to the idea of law reform. 14. Certaine Proposals [for] the Advancement of Trade and Navigation of this Country (London, 1652). 15. Certaine Proposals in order to a new modelling of the Lawes and Law Proceedings, for a more speedy, cheap, and equall distribution of Justice throughout the Commonwealth (London, 1653).432
The sympathy in ideas between Robinson and the unknown author of the Bahama Articles and Orders is marked. Toleration, aristocratic republicanism, law reform, economic imperialism, and colonial expansion; a pronounced interest in the arts and devices by which the rich may grow still more wealthy, and a concern for ways by which poverty may be relieved: all these opinions the two have in common. If the unknown author of the Bahama scheme be justly credited with boldness, originality, and inventiveness in his thinking, he is, in this respect, well matched by Robinson. The pamphleteer was a man of property, an associate of Cromwell in government and in administration. The anonymous writer shows his affiliation with Independency and with the “stake in society” theory. The parallelism in opinions and attitudes is notable.
Refining the argument still further, one may examine this hypothesis more closely. In this connection, Robinson’s tract of 1641, England’s Safety in Trade’s Encrease, is of use. One may draw from it materials which supply parallels with ideas contained in the broadside. It is to be understood that this tract is directed primarily to readers who are interested in promoting the national wealth and security of England.433 In it Robinson summons Holland to witness that abundance of trade and commerce, not wide territorial possession, forms the basis of prosperity.434 Hence England’s cue is to enlarge her foreign trade, expel the Dutch from her North Sea fisheries, and take a firm grip on Newfoundland. With these things manfully accomplished, let England then carry out a series of particular reforms, which Robinson lists to the number of seventeen. His fourth proposal is that colonies in America ought to be increased in number and enlarged in strength. “This is a matter,” he writes, “of exceeding great moment enlarging both our Dominions and our Traffike; if people of good report and ranke could be prevailed upon by immunities and priviledges to bee the first Inhabitants in any new discoverie, certainly the businesse through their orderly and good government might succeede more prosperously.…”435 He proposes that swarms of English beggars be shipped to the American plantations, thus freeing England of their pestering presence, and saving “misled charity and daily almes.” His fourteenth proposal looks toward the creation of a series of trading monopolies: “all Merchants trading into one place and Province be contracted into a Corporation, the want whereof, or the non-observance of their Charters and Priviledges, both at home and abroad, hath no little prejudiced the trade of all parts in generall.…”436 If, now, one brings together these separate proposals, the combination is something strikingly suggestive of the Bahama Company, with its trading monopoly, its small group of godly, rich subscribers, employing English poor as indentured servants, and carrying on business in an orderly, prudent manner.
It will be recalled that the Bahama Company contemplated a monopoly of the trade, certainly of the internal trade, of the islands. Robinson’s attitude is in complete agreement with this view. An unrestricted, a free trade irked him extremely:
I know there are many that cry out to have merchandizing left open and free for any one to trade, where, when, and how he will; which I may confesse would much encrease it for the present … and might last some yeares too … though one halfe [of the traders] were undone, the rest, too greedy of gaine, would scarce beleeve them, but make triall also, and so run headlong unto our utter ruine, which must needs be the conclusion of all affaires managed by such as observe no good order, nor understand well what they goe about.437
The trade in English cloth and the trade in fish would be, Robinson thought, the bases of English prosperity if the realm were well conducted.438 Hence the importance of Newfoundland, and hence, too, the necessity of procuring large supplies of salt. In 1641, few Englishmen were aware of the existence of the Bahamas, but many well-educated men knew something about Newfoundland. Robinson stresses the importance for England of the latter island. Would he not, in 1647, favor the colonization of the Bahamas once he had learned that they could produce copious supplies of that all-important commodity in his scheme of things—salt? The conclusion is inescapable when one studies his remarks on this none too common article of trade:
The multiplying of salt, but chiefly making it with salt water deserves likewise particularly to bee continued and cherished, not so much for imploying many people, but that wee cannot well passe without it.… Our fish imployment cannot subsist without it, and the preserving both of fish and flesh the chief sustenance of our long voyages and Navigation, so that if possibly it may bee compassed, and made in England … questionlesse it will bee good pollicie.…439
Having elaborated his argument, he draws to a politic conclusion: “And surely it may serve us for a Maxime of direction in all such like cases, that whatsoever is necessary or so usefull, as probably wee cannot bee well without it, wee should by all meanes possible seeke to secure of it within our owne jurisdiction without being subject to the mercie and reliefe of others.…”440 Under the circumstances, then, one is loath to concede that Robinson would not have been interested in the salt-making possibilities of the Bahamas once he knew that they existed and could be worked by men of English blood.
His sixteenth proposal in the pamphlet under discussion is in the interest of promoting trade and prosperity. He wishes to see set up a board or commission of merchants, charged with the task of “advising and consulting all advantages of commerce, amongst which some understanding Merchants will be necessarie.…” Some of these members ought also to be members of the court for settling mercantile difficulties which was referred to earlier in this discussion. The two courts or boards, in short, are to labor to advance traffic, just as the governor and small council in the Bahama scheme are to work for the same purpose.441 In both instances one sees examples of a watchful magistracy seeking the welfare of business life by vigilant attention to the passing scene. Both in substance and in tone, then, there is a correspondence between some of the content of England’s Safety in Trade’s Encrease and the Articles and Orders.
A particular point, small, though seemingly significant, remains to be dealt with. It has been stated above that Robinson spent some years in Italy. It is therefore the more interesting, in the present connection, that an indication of an Italian influence of a sort is to be discerned in the Articles and Orders. The author of this document twice makes use of an Italian word, “ballotines,” that is of extreme rarity. The sole example of it in English known to the editors of the New English Dictionary dates from 1656, when it is found in Harrington’s Oceana. It is a technical expression, one of the cant terms of contemporary republican theory. The occurrence of this rare, though now no longer unique, word in the Articles and Orders argues that the author of the text was no insular Englishman, and thus adds its tiny increment of weight in support of the hypothesis that Henry Robinson wrote the plan for the Bahama expedition.
The evidence of the typography of the broadside cannot be neglected. Robinson, as is known, had a printing press in London, which he made use of to publish tracts of his own composition. What if it should turn out that this broadside was printed on Robinson’s press? There is no indication on the sheet as to the name or address of the printer. A task that specialists in typographical evidence may be prevailed upon to consider is to undertake a comparison between the broadside and the accepted works of Robinson printed on his secret press. If the presswork should prove to be identical, then the net of proof would be reasonably complete.
This concludes the survey of the evidence. In view of the facts presented, one reaches the decision that a case has been made out for the attribution to Robinson of the Articles and Orders. The attribution must for the present, however, be considered a probability rather than a certainty.