A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at No. 25 Beacon Street, Boston, on Thursday, 25 January, 1908, at three o’clock in the afternoon, Vice-President William Watson Goodwin, D. C. L., in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
The Report of the Corresponding Secretary announced that a letter had been received from the Rev. William Wallace Fenn of Cambridge accepting Resident Membership.
Two gifts of books, which were gratefully accepted, were reported: from the Boston Athenæum, a set of its publications at the charge of the Billings Fund; and from the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, a copy of a facsimile of the first Masonic book printed in the Americas.1
The Chairman announced the death of the Hon. John Chandler Bancroft Davis, a Corresponding Member, and spoke as follows:
John Chandler Bancroft Davis, more generally known as Bancroft Davis, one of our Corresponding Members, died in Washington, December 27, 1907, at the age of eighty-five (less two days). He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, December 29, 1822. His father, John Davis, was a distinguished lawyer of Worcester, was twice Governor of Massachusetts, and represented the Commonwealth in both Houses of Congress. One of my earliest recollections of politics is shouting in the streets of Plymouth for “Honest John Davis.” Our associate was one of the ten oldest living graduates of Harvard College, being a member of the Class of 1840.
Mr. Davis’s experience in diplomatic and political life was wide and honorable. From 1849 to 1852 he was our Secretary of Legation in London, where he learned his first lesson in diplomacy and English politics. On his return to America he was the correspondent of the London Times from 1854 to 1861. During two years of this period I was in Europe, most of the time as a student in Berlin, Bonn, and Gottingen. Nearly all my information on American politics came from his valuable letters, which I read regularly without knowing who was their author. In 1869 he was Assistant Secretary of State at Washington, to which city he then removed his residence.
In 1871 Mr. Davis was Secretary of the Joint High Commission on the Alabama Claims, and afterward Agent for the United States at the Tribunal of Arbitration at Geneva. For this Court he prepared the Case of the United States, a document which alone would have made him famous. He was especially conspicuous, and made himself a benefactor in the cause of peace to his country and to the world, when the momentous crisis arose in regard to the Indirect Claims which threatened to break up the whole arbitration by the withdrawal of England from the Tribunal at Geneva. The courage and skill of Mr. Davis and of Baron Tenterden were believed by competent authorities to have saved the treaty which was before the Tribunal, and to have made possible a settlement of the dispute on a basis which was consistent with the dignity of Great Britain and the rights of the United States. I quote from a recent letter of Mr. Frank Warren Hackett, who was one of the Alabama Claims Commission, published in the Nation of January 31, 1907:
It was the tact and the stamina of Bancroft Davis that actually rescued the treaty from failure. The world may never know how large a measure of credit is due to the sagacity and nerve of both Lord Tenterden and Bancroft Davis. . . . Mutual confidence and unity of purpose enabled the Englishman and the American to work together in preparing a way by which the “Indirect Claims” could honorably be disposed of and the treaty saved. After these two men, upon their own responsibility, had struck hands, it was agreed that Mr. Davis should ask Mr. Adams to take the open and visible step leading to action by the Tribunal. Mr. Adams acted with equal skill. . . . It was this initiative act, the honor of which belongs equally to the respective Agents, that constitutes the crowning merit of Bancroft Davis’s inestimable services to his country (lxxxiv. 102).
Count Sclopis, the President of the Geneva Tribunal, is reported to have afterward said: “It was the Case prepared by Mr. Davis which won the cause.”
Mr. Davis’s subsequent career is well known,—as Assistant Secretary of State in 1873 and 1881; as Minister to Germany in 1874; as Judge of the Court of Claims in 1877; and as Reporter of the Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1883 till 1902, when he resigned the office at the age of eighty. His most important published works are his volume of Treaties and Conventions Entered into by the United States (1871 and 1873), and the volumes containing his Reports of the Decisions of the Supreme Court.
In 1887 Columbia University conferred on Mr. Davis the degree of Doctor of Laws.
Mr. Davis was elected a Corresponding Member of this Society December 20, 1899.
Mr. Andrew McFarland Davis read the following paper:
The subject treated in this paper practically deals with the conditions of Harvard’s life for a single year. Even this brief time cannot be restricted within exact limits. We do not know the date of Harvard’s sailing from England. We do not know on what day he arrived in the Colony. The only date in this connection of which we are certain is, alas! that of his death, and for that knowledge we are dependent upon a casual entry in an almanac.3 His name is not mentioned by Winthrop in his Journal and, except for a memorandum found among Winthrop’s papers and published by Savage in the Addenda to the Journal,4 we should not know that the Governor had ever heard of him. In justice, however, to Winthrop it should be added that the mere existence of the memorandum suggests that it was made with intent to incorporate its substance in the Journal, and then by oversight the entry was omitted.
The various contemporaneous publications which mention Harvard’s name, while they speak of him as a scholarly and pious man, add nothing to our knowledge of his life, and it is not until we reach the verbose and pedantic Magnalia of Cotton Mather that we learn from one who wrote sixty years after Harvard’s death, that the disease which carried him off was consumption.5 When Mather wrote, the College had already acquired renown. Increase Mather, the father of the author of Magnalia, was glad, when the occasion came his way, to assume charge of its affairs, and he availed himself of the opportunity to acquire from his Alma Mater the degree of D.D.6 Cotton Mather himself is supposed to have aspired to the Presidency of the College of which he also was a graduate. This testimony to the high estimate of the institution at that time by the Mathers was not perhaps needed, but its recital will bring before us the important fact that the author of Magnalia, when he omitted John Harvard from the list of worthies whose lives he undertook to write, and contented himself with a mere reference to him in his description of the College, must have been conscious of his offence.
A tithe of the diligence which he bestowed in gleaning facts about the lives of the governors, the clergymen of New England, and the Harvard graduates, would have enabled him to preserve upon his pages many facts concerning the Charlestown life of the founder of the College which we should treasure to-day. The only new item concerning Harvard himself to be obtained from Magnalia is that which I have quoted. It must be added, however, that the author states the amount of Harvard’s bequest to the College in pounds, shillings and pence; that he speaks of Harvard as a minister of the Gospel, and that he prints an elegiac poem by John Wilson which, although it contains some errors of statement, is nevertheless helpful.7
For what information Mather gave, let us be thankful, and from that let us turn to what we can positively ascertain from the records, and what we may infer from current history.
Harvard’s presence in England February the sixteenth, 1637, can be demonstrated. On the fifth of May of the same year the will of his brother Thomas, of which he was one of the executors, was duly probated. The will was allowed and power to execute it was conferred upon his co-executor, with a reservation of like power for Harvard “when he should come to seek it.” The inference is plain that he was not on hand to resign the executorship, and the presumption is that this absence was to be explained by the fact that between February sixteenth and May fifth he had sailed for New England.
On the other hand, the Charlestown Records bear testimony to his presence in that place on the first of August of the same year, when he was admitted a townsman.8 It is quite certain that this affiliation with the settlers—a necessary concomitant at that time for the residence in Charlestown of one of his profession—must have been taken promptly after arrival. There was a statute of the General Court then in force which prevented inhabitants of any of the towns from harboring for a longer period than three weeks, strangers who came with intent to reside, except under allowance of certain designated authorities.9 Obviously, newly arrived immigrants would, if their consciences permitted, hasten to put themselves on record as being in sympathy with the governing powers. It is safe, therefore, to assert that Harvard must have arrived at Charlestown in the latter part of July, 1637. Assuming that he sailed early in May, this would make his voyage cover a period of about twelve weeks. This would not have been considered a very long ocean trip in those days. Hence, we may rest assured that this estimate of the time of sailing and arrival is reasonably close, so that the discovery of the name of the vessel in which he sailed and the publication of her log would not alter materially our conception of the dates connected with the voyage. The third of these dates, that of his death, is fixed at September 14, 1638. The entire term of his life in America was, therefore, about thirteen and one-half months.
About four weeks after his arrival, on the thirtieth of August, 1637, a Synod was held at Cambridge—or Newtown, as it was then called. We are told that “all the teaching Elders through the Country were present, and some new come out from England, not yet called to any place here.”10 The meeting is described as having been “peaceable and concluded comfortably in love.” We may infer from the stress put upon these words that this conclusion was probably unexpected. Harvard was at that time “new come out from England,” and it is quite certain that he could not then have been called to any place here. The statement that some of those similarly situated with himself were present at the Synod is practically equivalent to saying that he was there. No newly arrived clergyman whose health and circumstances permitted could have failed to avail himself of the opportunity to meet there the assembled pastors of the Colony, and to hear them discuss the doctrinal points which were disturbing themselves and their congregations. It necessarily follows that he must at that time have seen the spot with which his name has since become so conspicuously associated. His route from Charlestown to Cambridge would have been by the path called in the early Cambridge Records “the Way to Charlestown.” If we accept President Wadsworth’s location within the Yard of the lot granted by the town to the College, which was said in the town records to be north of the “Way to Charlestown,” we must reach the conclusion that Harvard’s path, if he came to Cambridge to the Synod, led him through the Ox Pasture to the Common—or if he were to cover the same ground to-day, directly through the heart of the College Yard into Harvard Square by way of the Johnston Gate.11 Cambridge was described by a contemporaneous writer as like a “bowling green,” and we can fancy the pleasure which he derived from contemplating the beauties of the scene, as he strode or rode along,—for he probably came over from Charlestown either on foot or on horseback, and perhaps as he looked around his mental vision conjured up a future College there. The site had not then been selected, but it was voted a few weeks thereafter that it should be Newtown, showing that attention had already been turned that way.
If by any unfortunate chance he was prevented from visiting Cambridge on the occasion of the Synod, still, he must have seen the little village on the second of November of that year, when he and four others, at a session of the General Court at that place, were admitted as freemen, and as the record goes on to state “took the freeman’s oath.”12 Four days after this event Harvard and his wife were admitted to membership in the Charlestown Church,13 thus completing the essential acts on his part for admission to the elect in Massachusetts by becoming successively—townsman—freeman—churchman.
Having taken these preliminary steps, he could now attend to his own affairs with a reasonable assurance of being let alone. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that he disappears from public notice until the next spring, and although we know absolutely nothing of what he was doing during that period, it may be assumed that his first efforts were put forth toward providing a permanent residence in Charlestown for himself and his wife. It is not known when he became associated as a colleague with Zachariah Symmes, the pastor of the Charlestown Church, but it is not unlikely to have followed promptly the various steps which he had taken to identify himself with the town and the church.
In April, 1638, he had become sufficiently well known to his fellow-townsmen to receive at their hands an appointment as one of a committee of six who were “desired to consider of some things tending toward a body of laws.”14 His selection upon such a committee as this indicates that he had not yet succumbed to the inroads of the disease which carried him off a few months thereafter, and also helps to define his position upon a question which was then puzzling the brains of those who were administering the affairs of the Colony.
I have spoken of his official relations with the Charlestown parish as though it were positively known that such relations existed. As a matter of fact, there is no contemporaneous entry in the Church records which refers to Harvard’s connection with the parish as teaching elder or clergyman. In 1789, the then pastor of the Church made an entry to that effect.15 This accords with the statements of contemporary authors, and its place in the parish records gives it a quasi official character. Frothingham quotes apparently from the town records the phrase “Sometime Minister of God’s word here,” applied to Harvard.16 The learned author of Magnalia quotes an elegy from the pen of the Rev. John Wilson—a clergyman who was settled over the First Church in Boston at the time when Harvard was in Charlestown—which was addressed “to the most pious and reverend John Harvard, borne from the sacred desk at Charlestown to the skies.”17
This makes it sure that Harvard was settled over the Charlestown parish at the time of his death, and renders it probable that he preached in the Great House originally built for Winthrop, but sold by him for £10 to the town for a meeting-house.18
The statement is made that Harvard was allotted land and that he built a house in Charlestown, and Frothingham distinctly asserts that he participated in the allotments of 1637–1638.19 It happens that the folio in the Book of Possessions at Charlestown, which through index entries is known to have contained a record of Harvard’s estate, is missing.20 It is the only folio in the book that is gone, and since it is of more value to the world than all the rest of the book, we can only wonder at the unlucky chance which should have selected that particular leaf for destruction. Notwithstanding the loss of this desirable source of information, the Book of Possessions furnishes abundant evidence that Harvard was a land-owner, and not only that, but it is plain that his holdings of real estate were extensive. We gain this information through the definitions of the boundaries of the property of others. Harvard’s name appears in the Book of Possessions upwards of twenty times as an abutter. His widow figures five or six times in a similar way, sometimes as Widow Harvard, sometimes as Mrs. Ann Harvard.
Through these descriptions the general location of the property can be identified and in some cases its character is evident. Some of it was in Mystic field, some in Water field, some in East field, some in Line field, i.e. in a field adjoining the Cambridge line. Some of it was in the Mystic marshes. The various grants or purchases, for we have no evidence how the property was acquired, comprised woodland, arable land, meadow and marshes. In one of these abutting descriptions describing the adjoining land is this phrase: “120 acres of land, more or less, situated in Waterfield, bought of Mrs. Harvard, and entered before in her name.” In another, the words are: “Ten acres firstly appertaining to Mr. John Harvard.” It is, therefore, evident that, however acquired, whether by grant or by purchase, Harvard must have had a good deal of land within the limits of Charlestown. As to the house in which he lived, we have this to guide us. In January, 1697, Judge Sewall spent the night in Charlestown, and he records the fact that Mrs. Shepherd told him that the house in which he slept was built by John Harvard.21 Mrs. Shepherd was the wife of the clergyman then settled over the Charlestown parish. Her say-so would not necessarily be final in determining whether Harvard had ever lived in the house, were it not that she acquired the property from Mrs. Thomas Allen. Mrs. Allen was Harvard’s widow, and Allen had himself been settled over the Charlestown parish, having probably succeeded Harvard in his functions as clergyman or teacher, as he certainly did as husband of Ann Sadler, Harvard’s widow. He is undoubtedly the Allen whose name appears in the records of the College as having paid £200 to Eaton, and with whom a committee was appointed by the College in 1643 to effect a final settlement of the bequest.22 Unquestionably this sum was from Harvard’s estate, of which he was executor or administrator. The line of evidence that connects Harvard with the house in which Sewall slept is therefore fairly direct, and is not open to dispute. The site of the house is well known. The assertion that Harvard built it may perhaps have been an interpolation of Sewall’s, although there is no special reason for this suggestion. The statement is not in itself improbable. Immigration was active at that time. There were not enough houses to accommodate those who arrived. The advice given by Higginson, writing from Salem a few years before, was still applicable:
No man hath or can have a house built for him, unless he come himself or else sends servants before to do it for him.23
The one chance that intervenes to throw a possible doubt upon Harvard’s having built his house, is that he might have purchased it. The colonists were a restless set and transfers of houses are of frequent record. The missing folio in the Book of Possessions would probably have settled this question.
A landholder and a householder—we might perhaps have doubted whether the victim of pulmonary consumption in the fall of 1638 would in the winter of 1637–1638 have been strong enough to build a house, were it not for the quotation from the record to which I have already referred, which shows that his fellow-townsmen considered him in the latter part of April, 1638, in fit condition to serve upon a committee, the importance of which can only be estimated by an examination of the politics of the Colony at that time. As briefly as may be let us review the facts which led up to the political conditions at the time of Harvard’s arrival. Let us see who was then in power and who it was that was to be opposed by this committee who were “to consider some things tending towards a body of laws for the Colony.”
When Endicott came over here with his group of emigrants, he came as a member of the Church of England, with no intimation that the hostility to the formalities of the church which prompted this emigration would lead to separation from the Mother Church. He was at the head of affairs in the Colony and may perhaps properly be termed Governor of the Colony, although the Governor of the Company was at that time in London.
When Winthrop arrived he brought with him the Charter and a commission which placed him at the head of the Colony as well as of the Company. Endicott had before Winthrop’s arrival already thrown off his allegiance to the Church of England by eliminating the ritual and had actually banished two prominent men, members of the Company, because they were not willing to abandon altogether the use of the Prayer Book in the Church service.24
Winthrop probably knew of this arbitrary and important proceeding, when on the seventh of April, 1630, on board the Arbella he, with others, addressed an open letter “to the rest of their brethren in and of the Church of England,”25 in which they said “we beseech you therefore by the mercies of the Lord Jesus to consider us as your brethren, standing in very great need of your helpe, and earnestly imploring it.” “We beseech you,” they further said, “to pray for us without ceasing (who are a weake colony from yourselves) making continual request for us in your prayers.”
They then went on to intimate that there might be some of the brethren who would not have a clear intelligence of their course or tenderness of affection towards them. Such as felt that way were entreated not to despise the colonists, and their compassion was besought. In other words, while still claiming to be members of the Church, the knowledge of the imminence of the break is evident in this letter. The pretence that no separation was intended was maintained even after the election of John Wilson as their teacher. Winthrop says:
We used imposition of hands, but with this protestation by all, that it was only as a sign of election and confirmation, not of any intent that Mr. Wilson should renounce his ministry he received in England.26
Whether Endicott’s act of secession was approved at the time or not, no step back was ever taken to check its effects, and the Puritan emigrants became practically Separatists and their church a Congregational Church.27 It was, then, to a Colony dominated by a Congregational Church that Harvard knowingly turned his footsteps.28
Winthrop was elected Governor after his arrival in 1630 for three consecutive years, 1631–1633. Then dissatisfaction with his rule led to his overthrow, and during the next three years experiments were made with weaker men. Thomas Dudley, John Haynes, and Henry Vane were the successive Governors during these years.
The last of these, when he arrived in the Colony, bore the prestige of an honored name, his father Sir Henry Vane being at that time a distinguished man, holding high office in England. Although the son on reaching New England in the fall of 1635 was not yet twenty-five years of age, he was almost at once selected as a suitable candidate for the highest office in the Colony—as one around whom the discontents could rally—and at the next election he was duly elected Governor. It was during his term of office that Mrs. Hutchinson held the series of meetings at her house in Boston, which resulted in her being tried the next year for heresy and sentenced to banishment from the Colony. Strongly in sympathy with her were John Cotton, probably the most distinguished preacher in Boston at that time, and John Wheelwright. The latter was banished as a result of his adherence to his opinions, but the former when interrogated as to his support of the doctrines of Mrs. Hutchinson, so far hedged that he avoided the same fate. During these proceedings all Boston was in a turmoil of excitement, and while it was at its height Vane’s term of office expired. At the new election he was turned down; the old regime of Winthrop was restored; and Vane was humiliated by being dropped out of the magistracy.29
It will readily be understood that an election held under these conditions could not be entirely free from fears of disturbance. Vane’s support for re-election came mainly from Boston. Winthrop who opposed him relied upon the country, and as he feared interference on the part of the people of Boston if the election should be held in that place he secured the passage of an order that the Court for that purpose should be held at Cambridge.
The accounts of the election itself strongly suggest a situation corresponding in many points with that which occurred at Springfield at a recent nominating convention. Perhaps the language of one of the chroniclers of the event, himself a candidate at the time, will more clearly portray the fact that politics have not changed much since 1637:
There was great danger of a tumult that day, for those of that side grew into fierce speeches, and some laid hands on others; but seeing themselves too weak, they grew quiet.30
Vane, fresh from the pomp of the English Court, had been in the habit of marching to church on Sundays with an escort of four sergeants bearing halberds. These sergeants were all supporters of Vane, and when Winthrop, the new Governor, sought their escort, they refused to give it.31
The tumultuous election followed by the petty insult of the sergeants to the new Governor, were evidence enough of the bitterness of the contest, but to make more significant the fact that Winthrop had lost his hold upon the affections of the people of Boston, they immediately elected Vane a deputy. This election was disallowed by the General Court, and a new election ordered. Again Vane was elected, and this time he was permitted to serve, “the Court not finding how they might reject him” as Winthrop naively remarks.32
One other incident which happened that summer illustrates the intensity of personal animosity engendered by these quarrels. In June there arrived Lord Ley, then a young man of about twenty years of age, the son and heir of the Earl of Marlborough. He took lodgings in a common inn and declined the courteous invitation of Governor Winthrop to make his headquarters at the Governor’s house. In the early part of July, the Governor extended to Lord Ley an invitation to dine, and in a friendly way tendered the same courtesy to Vane. He records that they both not only refused to come, but at the same hour went over to Noddle’s Island to dine with Mr. Maverick.33
These proceedings made evident to Winthrop and his followers that the great immigration to the Colony, notwithstanding the limitation of the franchise to freemen, was undermining their power. To render doubly secure the limitations already imposed, and to perpetuate them through control over temporary as well as permanent residents, the Act was passed which has already been referred to, imposing a penalty on all those who should harbor strangers for over three weeks, unless they were properly endorsed by the designated authorities. Already the efforts to protect the community from the evil effects of heretical doctrines by the banishment or disfranchisement of their exponents had furnished abundant ground for the charge of intolerance. The passage of this Act testified to the justice of the charge. Boston was the place of landing for those who were to be affected by it, and Boston was indignant. When the Court then in session at Cambridge adjourned, and Winthrop returned to his home, his neighbors, instead of turning out to receive the Governor and escort him to his house, “refused to go out to meet him or show him any respect.”34 Hutchinson records that at this session an Act was passed disqualifying any person from acting as Governor until he had been in the Colony a full year.35 This was, of course, a hit at Vane, and doubtless had to do with the reception of Winthrop on his return home. The Governor had, however, prevailed, and a few days after Harvard’s arrival in the Colony, Vane, defeated and humiliated, folded his tent, went on board ship, and sailed for England.
If I have succeeded in conveying even a faint conception of the political tumult in Massachusetts in the fall of 1637, it will be appreciated that when Harvard landed he must at once have realized how difficult it would be for any person who intended residing anywhere near Boston to avoid taking part in this contest. The defeated Vane was to the last the recipient of honors from his supporters. They followed him to his ship in great numbers, and if Harvard himself did not see, as he may have done, this popular demonstration in Vane’s favor, he must at least have heard the volleys of musketry and the thunder of the ordnance, discharged from shore and even from the Castle,36 which announced to those in the neighborhood, whether actually present at the scene or not, that the person thus honored was about to depart from this shore. Contemporary opinion as to Vane’s departure may be inferred from a line from Johnson:
With small defeat, thou didst retreat to Brittaine ground againe.37
Up to that time the government of the Colony had been carried on under the general powers conferred in the Charter, through the General Court; through the oversight of the affairs of the towns by officers selected by the townsmen, who were oftentimes forced by penalties, to undertake their duties of office; and through Church discipline. A few statutes had been passed, some of them however being only temporary in their nature. Justices of the peace had been appointed who had like powers given them with those in England for the reformation of abuses and punishment of offenders,38 and with the increasing population sessions of quarter courts had been instituted. Wages had been fixed. Prices on certain articles had been restricted. Sumptuary legislation had been instituted.39 Offenders who had committed offences which had been for all time recognized in England as crimes were punished, the penalties being apparently fixed arbitrarily by the Court of Assistants and in some cases offences were treated as seditious and criminal which it would be difficult to classify under an ordinary criminal code. For instance, Philip Ratclyfe was ordered to be whipped, to have his ears cut off, to be fined £40, and to be banished out of this jurisdiction, for uttering malicious and scandalous speeches against the government and the Church of Salem.40
It will not be wondered at that the people were restless under this condition of affairs. They clamored for a code of laws. They wanted the government organized. They were not content merely with the General Court of the Company under the Charter, but they wanted some definition to be given of the rights of individuals; of property rights; of crimes, and of penalties. This was the spirit that prompted the formation of the committee of the Charlestown townsmen of which Harvard was a member. But this did not correspond with the views of John Winthrop, who had just dethroned and humiliated Vane and driven him from the Colony; who at the expense of great turbulence in Boston had succeeded in causing the banishment of Mrs. Hutchinson and Wheelwright, and in effecting the disarmament of many of their followers;41 and who in addition had nearly overthrown that popular preacher John Cotton. Once more in power, he and the majority of the magistrates were opposed to granting this wish of the people.
He himself writes in 1639: “The people had long desired a body of laws, and thought their condition very unsafe, while so much power rested in the discretion of the magistrates.” He adds:
Two great reasons there were, which caused most of the magistrates and some of the elders not to be very forward in this matter. One was, want of sufficient experience of the nature and disposition of the people, considered with the condition of the country and other circumstances, which made them conceive, that such laws would be fittest for us which should arise pro re nata upon occasions, etc., and so the laws of England and other states grew, and therefore the fundamental laws of England are called customs, consuetudines. 2. For that it would professedly transgress the limits of our charter, which provide, we shall make no laws repugnant to the laws of England, and that we were assured we must do.
Then, having laid down the proposition that their legislation would inevitably be repugnant to the laws of England, he goes on to argue the point, saying:
But to raise up laws by practice and custom had been no transgression; as in our church discipline, and in matters of marriage, to make a law, that marriages should not be solemnized by ministers, is repugnant to the laws of England; but to bring it to a custom by practice for the magistrates to perform it is no law made repugnant to it, etc.42
Here, then, is Winthrop’s creed. Let us have no code, so long as we can help it, but let us go ahead and establish customs. Let us pass only such laws as shall be required by occasions, and he exemplified his meaning by attaching to the first ordinance entered in the Boston Records words asserting that the ordinance “is but a declaration of the Common Law.”43
Now, as people looked around they could not only see such cases of punishment as the one which I have quoted above, but in addition to arbitrary punishments for ordinary crimes, others like the following.
Thomas Walford was living at Charlestown in the only house then built, when Endicott’s party arrived. The next year, after Winthrop’s arrival, he was fined forty shillings, and he and his wife were enjoined to depart out of the limits of this patent before the twentieth of October next following under pain of confiscation of his goods, for his contempt of authority and confronting officers.44
Thomas Morton of Mount Wollaston, another resident of this region, who was living in his own house when Winthrop arrived here, was ordered by the Court to be put in the bilboes and then to be sent to England on the ship Gift. All of his goods were ordered to be seized to meet his debts and to pay an Indian for a canoe which it was alleged he had appropriated. After his goods were removed from his house, it was to be burnt to the ground.45
Sir Christopher Gardiner, another prior resident of this region, was sent to England as a prisoner on the ship Lion. Gardiner was one of a number of persons deported on the Lion.46
In short, persons obnoxious to the government; those who preached heretical opinions; those who attacked the Church; and those who confronted officers, were deported or banished. They could not even transfer their real estate. Such transfers, unless approved by the town authorities, were set aside, and those concerned in them fined.
In addition to the definite offences, enumerated above, there were certain that were indefinite, the probable punishment of which was only to be measured through such threats as these—if any man shall exceed the bounds of moderation we shall punish them severely—the final words of a statute regulating trade.47 The right of a man to carry money or beaver with him to England was made dependent upon the consent of the Governor for the time being.48
This was apparently the sort of Common Law that Winthrop wanted to work out, and it is evident that some of it was not altogether acceptable to the colonists.49 The presence of John Harvard on the committee appointed to do what they could to secure a code of laws would indicate that he sympathized with the movement to procure some recognition of the rights of the people and that his name was to be registered among those whom Winthrop himself described as being of opinion that “their condition was very unsafe while so much power rested in the discretion of the Magistrates.”
Harvard had arrived too late to take part in the conflict between Vane and Winthrop, although he must constantly have heard their names and those of Mrs. Hutchinson and Cotton and Wheelwright in the daily interchange of news with his neighbors which then took the place of the morning newspaper. The trials before the General Court in November of that year must have been followed with eagerness by all the colonists, and even after the excommunication of Mrs. Hutchinson, in the final trial before the Church in the spring of 1638, the whole subject must have continued to be of public interest. Especially was this the case in Boston, where Winthrop was in disfavor, his following being recorded to be of the country, and the open evidence of dislike with which he met having taken place in that town. That a resident of Charlestown must have realized that the sympathies of the people across the river were with those who had been defeated at the polls is a certainty. When the election was held, Winthrop forced the holding of it at Cambridge, against the opposition of Vane. Charlestown was probably too near Boston to suit his purposes, and perhaps the people there sympathized with their neighbors.
Out of all this has come a general impression that Winthrop was the representative of intolerance and even of persecution. Naturally those who were opposed to him pose in public estimation as the advocates of toleration and freedom.50 Plymouth Colony gave refuge to some of the exiles from this Colony, and later the settlement at Rhode Island, under the direction of Roger Williams, became a sort of Cave of Adullam for the discontents banished from Massachusetts Bay. Both of these settlements were far more liberal than Massachusetts Bay. This adds to the disposition to regard all opponents of the Winthrop regime as liberals. When therefore we find Harvard appointed on a committee to forward the preparation of a code of laws, in known opposition to the wishes of the great leader of the Colony, then at the height of his power, we are prone to think of him as sympathizing with Cotton and Wheelwright and Mrs. Hutchinson, an attitude highly improbable for the colleague of Zachariah Symmes, or for one whom John Wilson could eulogize. We involuntarily give to this opposition a character to which it is probably not entitled, and credit the opponents of Winthrop with being apostles of freedom. Success on Vane’s part at the polls in Cambridge in the fall of 1637 might have reversed these reputations, but we must accept things as we find them, with the result that in this appointment on the Charlestown committee we find Harvard identified with a movement of progress which brought him in opposition, on this point at least, with the leader of those who represent to us the spirit of intolerance.
I have dwelt at some length upon the Charlestown committee for the reason that it is the only recorded event which brings us in touch with Harvard’s relations to his fellow-townsmen. Moreover, it is important in showing his estimate of the rights of his fellow-citizens. They were entitled to have a settled government. They were entitled to have a fixed set of laws. They were entitled to be protected from the caprice of the magistrates.
Me commune bonum, prœsertim gloria Christi,
Impulit et charœ posteritatis amor.
These words from John Wilson’s elegy, words written by a contemporary who certainly knew all about him, with the purpose of characterizing the man, are singularly appropriate and are fully justified by what has just been said. The editor of the 1853 edition of the Magnalia translates the lines as follows:
The common weal, the glory of my God,
The love of man—these lured me where I trod.51
The emphasis placed by Wilson upon Harvard’s piety is lost in this translation, and it is noticeable also that it was the love of posterity, not merely the love of his contemporaries which impelled—not lured—him to take the steps that he did.
One other contemporary, Thomas Shepard, who also must have known him well, characterized him in an epigrammatic sentence of almost identical import:
This man was a scholar, and pious in his life, and enlarged toward the country, and the good of it, in life and death.52
We have here testimony as to his scholarship, his piety, his public spirit, and his benevolence. From another contemporaneous source we gain an idea as to the character and quality of his preaching. A single line from some verses in Johnson’s Wonder-working Providence gives us an estimate of his powers in this line, furnished by one who must have heard him when in his own pulpit at Charlestown. The poet addresses Harvard and exhorts him to tell how sweet among the saints, Christ has ravished his heart with heavenly joys,—
To preach and pray, with tears affection strong.
He was not, then, to adopt a contemporaneous epithet, a “painful” preacher but was of the emotional type. Elswehere, Johnson uses somewhat similar language when speaking of Shepard’s preaching. One of Shepard’s hearers, the author says, “was faine to hang down the head often, least his watry eyes should blab abroad the secret conjunction of his affections.”53 Many of Shepard’s sermons have been preserved. Their perusal to-day does not promote “watry eyes” in the sense in which the author of Wonder-working Providence meant to imply that actual hearers were affected. We cannot, however, overlook the fact that Shepard had a wonderful hold upon his people, and if we do not find in his printed sermons adequate cause for his great force in the community, we must seek for the explanation in his winning personality, in his manners, in the mutual sympathy between himself and his congregation, and in the identity of their religious beliefs. Nor does the similarity of Johnson’s language in epitomizing the style of two different men greatly minimize the descriptive value of his account. He must have been familiar with the methods of both Harvard and Shepard. We have no published works of the former to which we can turn, but a single phrase in one of Shepard’s sermons gives a hint as to what he evidently did not like. “People are naturally moved sometimes,” he says, “by a thundering minister.”54
These contemporary descriptions of Harvard and of his preaching, when collated, tend greatly to reduce the evasive character of his personality. They bring before us a scholarly and pious man; an emotional preacher; a public spirited citizen, and a generous benefactor; one who was selected by his fellow-citizens for service on an important committee, where both steadfastness and moral courage were required if aught was to be accomplished, and this at a time when his health must have been precarious. An open-minded man withal, as we may infer, from his willingness to study the opinions of his opponents, which is disclosed in the number of books by Jesuit authors, placed by himself upon the shelves of his library.
It would obviously be an unauthorized flight of imagination to go farther and intimate that this foreshadows sympathy with the spirit which led Dunster to insert as a motto for the College the word Veritas in the rude sketch of a proposed seal drawn a few years thereafter in the College Hall on a page of a College Record Book. Nevertheless, the deference to the opinions of those who differed from him shown in the purchase of books for his library, may, perhaps, justify the opinion that he would have endorsed the action of Dunster in thus pledging the College to the inflexible propagation of the truth—whatever the consequences—whatever the prejudices that must be trampled down!
I have now exhausted the record of the traces which Harvard left behind him in life. His death revealed the direction in which his thoughts were turned. One half of his estate was left to the inchoate College to be established at Newtown. It matters not whether the exact amount of the bequest as stated by Mather, £779 17s 2d, was correct or not.55 It matters not that the receipt in full of the amount by the College cannot be discovered. The fact that he bequeathed a sum estimated at the time at about £800 is testified to by nearly all the contemporaneous writers on New England affairs. The records show that some of it at least was received, and there is no good ground for the quibble upon which the doubt as to the value of the estate was founded. The financial records of the College at that day have not been preserved in such shape that any inferences can be drawn from the fact that no acknowledgment of the receipt of an amount equal to the alleged bequest can be found. Whatever the value of the estate, it was enough to secure the organization of the College at once, and its instrumentality in that direction was recognized in the following spring by the passage of an Act assigning the name “Harvard College” to the little institution at Cambridge, whose inception had been hastened through the bequest. Had there been issued in the summer of 1638 an edition of “Who’s Who in America,” Harvard’s name would not have appeared in it. He had published nothing. He had done nothing to make himself conspicuous. But the philanthropic motive which inspired the bequest, secured for him posthumous fame. It would seem as if, in taking this step, he might with prophetic insight, have had in mind the lines—
What shall I do to be forever known,
And make the age to come, my own?
Let us now ask ourselves what manner of place was this to which Harvard had come? How many people were there in the Colony and what were the conditions of life?
Seven years before this time Winthrop arrived in New England. He then found about two hundred people in and about Salem and another hundred at Charlestown. One Thomas Walford was already in possession, living in what was termed a palisaded house, when the first band of these settlers arrived at Charlestown.56
The arrival in this country of Winthrop was followed by that remarkable immigration which in a few years converted the wilderness along the Massachusetts shore into a cluster of populous villages. It has been stated that between 1630 and 1643, two hundred and ninety-eight vessels had arrived, bringing 21,200 persons.57 In order that we might not feel too confident upon this point, other writers have set the number of arrivals up to 1640 at 4000 only.58 That the former estimate is approximately correct is evident from the figures from time to time given of the number of passengers on the different vessels by Winthrop in his Journal. He does not undertake to record the arrival of every vessel, nor does he give the number of passengers on every one of those that he mentions, but he does give the names of some of the vessels which arrived during this period and in some instances the number of passengers brought by them. The highest number conveyed on any one ship was 220, the lowest 10. He says that in 1638 alone there arrived twenty ships bearing 3000 passengers59 and the average number on thirty-three ships that I have culled from his narrative, which arrived down to and including the 3000 in 1638, was 140 passengers for each ship. Now, if the two hundred and ninety-eight ships which are reported to have arrived by 1643 each bore 70 passengers it would justify the higher estimate of arrivals. Hence one cannot be far wrong if he should say that there must have arrived 10,000 or 11,000 immigrants in Massachusetts when Harvard set foot there. Those settlers were scattered along the coast in villages within easy distance of each other, none of them being far from the seashore. We have two means of testing the relative importance of these settlements in 1637. One, the draft ordered for soldiers for the Pequot War, the other the distribution of the country rate. It would not be unreasonable to infer that the former was based on population, the latter on property. The towns stand in the following order of importance in the draft order:60 Boston, Salem, Ipswich, Saugus, Watertown, Dorchester, Charlestown, Roxbury, Newtown, Newbury, Hingham, Weymouth, Medford, Marblehead, the last two being each called upon to furnish four men. In the distribution of the rates,61 Boston leads, then comes Salem, then Dorchester and Charlestown, then Ipswich, followed by Roxbury and Watertown on even terms; then Newtown, Saugus, Medford, Newbury, Hingham, Weymouth. Marblehead does not appear as a separate settlement in this list. A second rate was levied this year, in which the order was slightly varied and Saugus appeared as Lynn. It will be seen that Boston had already attained its supremacy, while Charlestown ranked higher on the property list than on the one based on population.
It would not be an easy matter to estimate the population of the towns at this time. The number of immigrants by no means indicates the number of permanent settlers. The mortality had at times been great. Many settlers had returned to England, and it is not reasonable to suppose that the birth rate during this period had offset this depletion, but a rough estimate would indicate that there might have been in Boston at that time a permanent population of 1500 or 1600 which was likely at any time to be swelled temporarily as high as 2000 by the arrival of transients. Charlestown had perhaps a population of 600 and that, of course, was subject to temporary increase from time to time by the overflow from Boston. Both places were rapidly growing.
Those who first arrived, if not provided with tents, constructed temporary shelters, which were termed booths, or huts, or wigwams.62 The last of these, made with boughs of trees, soon became mere tinder boxes, and were necessarily much subject to conflagration. The household fires were presumably outside and as they could not be dispensed with during high winds, the flying sparks not infrequently caused the destruction of the wigwams and often also of the belongings of the occupants.
Such lodgings were followed by others of a more permanent character, but still primitive. It is natural to suspect that the settlers proceeded to construct log-cabins, and we should conceive of buildings of this sort being made as they are to-day in the South and West, an outline of logs being laid on the ground and others superimposed upon them. By hewing the upper and lower surface of each log so that it can rest upon its neighbors below; by mortising their ends at the corners of the building; and by preserving the several tiers of logs on a level, a solid wall can easily be reared to the required height for a roof. By caulking the cracks between the logs and daubing them with clay, such a structure may be made fairly impervious to the wind. Whether buildings of this kind were erected by the colonists does not, so far as I know, appear. Their permanent homes are merely spoken of as cottages or houses, with the exception that in one or two instances—for example, in describing the house of Thomas Walford which was found by the settlers at Charlestown—palisaded houses are referred to.63 The meaning of this term becomes clear when we turn to the Plymouth Records and find men charged with effecting an entrance to a house by moving the loose palisadoes.64 Houses of this sort were evidently constructed with vertical logs, the lower ends being sharpened and driven into the ground, or set in a trench, as is the custom in the West to-day, the upper ends being fastened together and roofed over. The use of this form of log-house, at least, we can identify with reasonable certainty.
Bearing in mind that there is no limestone to be found along our coast, it will be realized that a formidable difficulty was to be encountered in the construction of chimneys and in the interior finish of wooden houses until by some means the lack of this material was overcome. Bricks could easily be manufactured, and Higginson says they were made in Salem as early as 1629.65 Until limestone was discovered within accessible distances, lime for mortar could only have been procured by calcining oyster and clam shells. The cost of this process precluded for a while the extensive use of mortar and prevented the inside plastering of the houses. Chimneys were constructed of small strips of wood laid at right angles to each other, one on top of another and locked together at the corners by gravity, the cracks between the strips being filled with mud and the inside surface of the chimney covered with a coating of clay. Winthrop records a fire occasioned by the ignition of such a chimney. “About noon,” he says, “the chimney of Mr. Sharp’s house in Boston took fire (the splinters being not clayed at the top), and taking the thatch burnt it down.”66 This quotation, in addition to the description of the chimney which it furnishes, reveals to us one of the causes of the frequent fires recorded in the early days of the Colony—namely, the thatched roof.67 The immigrant had been accustomed to roofs of this description in England, where the frequent showers kept them sufficiently moist to prevent special danger from fire in houses having such well constructed chimneys as the English cottages were provided with. Here the occasional drouths, and the protracted spells of infrequent rain, entirely altered the conditions of exposure to conflagration from the use of such a roof, and added to this increased hazard was the danger, as we have seen, that some of the splinters of the wooden chimneys might not be clayed at the top. Doubtless, the same neglect sometimes occurred at the bottom as well. As late as 1642 the town of Boston erected a building the roof of which was ordered to be thatched.68
Winthrop gives us a clue to still another cause of conflagration, which would not have suggested itself to us at once. He says, “The house of John Page of Watertown was burnt by carrying a few coals from one house to another; a coal fell by the way and kindled the leaves.”69 Of course, a moment’s reflection would recall to any of us that the friction match was a comparatively recent invention. The convenience of this method of ignition is so interwrought with our daily lives, that the thought of going over to a neighbor’s for a shovelful of coals to start up a fire would not naturally suggest itself as an every day possibility, but it is apparent that under the then existing circumstances every household would endeavor to maintain a bed of coals in the fireplace, in order to avoid the delay incident to the use of flint and tinder in kindling a fire. The colonists were so accustomed to the loss of property by fire that Cotton Mather records without comment the fact that the houses of the Rev. John Wilson had been destroyed “divers times by fires.”70 These losses were, according to Mather, borne by Wilson cheerfully. Indeed, on one occasion, when the destruction of his house by fire was announced to him, he said, “Blessed be God! he has burnt this house, because he intends to give me a better”—which, adds Mather, accordingly came to pass.
The disadvantage of not having lime at ready command is illustrated by an experience in house-building recorded by Winthrop. He says, “The governor having erected a building of stone at Mistick, there came so violent a storm of rain for twenty four hours from N. E. and S. E. as (it not being finished, and laid with clay for want of lime) two sides were washed down.”71 Elsewhere people suffered in a similar way, though not so disastrously. Their complaint was merely that the daubing was washed out by storms.72 Scottow describes the first meeting-house in Boston as a “Mud Wall meeting house,”73 and in the Boston Records we find a house described as a “Mud Wall house.”74 As late as 1653 the town of Dorchester paid a charge for daubing the walls of the second meeting-house built in that place.75 The protracted use of this style of finish merely indicates the difficulty experienced by the colonists in procuring lime. They made use of such means as were at hand to make their houses windproof.
There was one other method of protection from the penetrating winds beside daubing with clay, perhaps not so effectual but at any rate likely to prove more cleanly. Clapboards were from the very outset an article of export both here and in Plymouth, and they could be used in houses both externally and internally. In the case of framed houses, the construction of which began with the arrival of artisans, at a very early date, the exterior covering of shingles or clapboards was practically a necessity. We have the record of the use of clapboards for interior finish as early as 1632 under circumstances which also enlighten us as to what was considered ostentation in house building at that time. It had been agreed to move the government to Cambridge, and in order to make the plan effective the several members of the government mutually consented to transfer their homes there. Dudley actually set up his establishment in Cambridge. Winthrop built a house, put his servants in it for a few days, and then having concluded that the attempt to transfer the government there was a failure, he took down the frame of the house and moved it to Boston.76 Dudley charged him with going back on his word. Winthrop retaliated with a counter-charge that “he [Dudley] did not well to bestow such cost about wainscoting and adorning his house, in the beginning of a plantation, both in regard of the necessity of publick charges, and for example.”77 To this charge of ostentation and extravagance in the interior finish of his house, by the substitution of wainscoting for clay-daubing, Dudley replied, “that it was for the warmth of his house, and the charge was but little, being but clapboards nailed to the wall in the form of a wainscot.” This was in 1632. The frame house had already asserted itself, but so simple an interior finish as wainscoting with clapboards was subject to criticism. In the five years that followed before Harvard arrived, there was doubtless some improvement in the character of the houses as they were from time to time erected, and it is probable that wainscoting became permissible. At any rate, we find evidence that this was so in 1639 when the first College building was erected, and a contemporary writer describes the buildings in Boston as “Houses of the first edition, without large chambers or windows, ceiled with cedar or painted with vermilion.”78
Besides houses of the character of those already referred to, Winthrop speaks of one which was burned down in 1632, constructed exclusively of clapboards.79 It is not probable that when Harvard landed in Charlestown in 1637 he found many log-cabins or clapboard houses. The place had already assumed the shape of a settlement, and boards and squared timber were procurable. It must be added, however, that seasoned lumber must have been out of the reach of the builder. The difficulty about obtaining lime, although partially overcome, still existed in a great measure, and the houses then constructed, although adequate shelters for a young and hardy population, must have been totally inadequate to protect invalids or aged people, if there were any in the Colony, from the severe and violent changes of our winter weather.
If we wish to ascertain just what the possibilities of Harvard’s house were, let us look for a moment at the methods of construction and finish made use of in the College building at Cambridge, the erection of which was made possible by Harvard’s bequest. Here was a building which was intended to be permanent. Yet, so utterly inadequate for its preservation were the methods of construction then in vogue, that in 1677 a portion of the building fell down, thus limiting its life to less than forty years. The cause of this fall is not stated, but unseasoned lumber and bad mortar would sufficiently explain it. While the building was still very young there were complaints of rotting ground-sills, and heavy demands were made on the College purse for repairs.
Under one roof in this building were all the rooms deemed requisite for the College and the students. There was the public hall where religious and literary exercises were held and where also the students had their commons. Over this was a room in which was the library that Harvard brought with him to Charlestown. The kitchen and buttery were on the ground floor, and there were dormitories in both stories as well as in the attic. The chambers were provided with studies, mere closets in size, but rendering it possible for the occupants of the rooms to obtain some sort of seclusion during study hours.80 When this building was erected the College was very short of money and the several studies and chambers were finished according to the desires of those who intended to occupy them, the cost of the finish being charged to the proposed occupant. This enables us to see what was possible at that time in the way of interior finish. Certain of the rooms were lathed and daubed, and as there are charges for clay, it would follow with reasonable certainty that the clay was purchased for this purpose.81 Other rooms were plastered and whitened. Still others were sealed with cedar, thus being finished in that reprehensible form, wainscoting. There were charges for glass used in the building, but they would seem to be inadequate for all the windows. There are references in existence which indicate that oiled paper was also in use at that time.82
Hints at the life in the building help us to understand the conditions under which Harvard was placed in his new house at Charlestown a few years before these entries were made. There were, for instance, only one or two studies which were capable of being warmed. Hence, in the winter months, nearly all the students were compelled to assemble in the public hall, where, before the open fireplace, they could at any rate keep from freezing. Wood was abundant, but a roaring fire in an open fireplace required constant replenishing. It was easy to produce heat enough to warm such a room, but the trouble was that nearly all of it went up the chimney and in a drafty room, even the interposition of a settle as a screen did not mean comfort with a hot fire on one side and the chill of the room the other. The question of lighting the hall in the evenings sufficiently for study must have been a troublesome one. The steward charged the students for candles and if they made use of the public fire a charge was made for this. The drafty room, the open fire and the tallow candle—these were the conditions to which all were subject, and if they do not in themselves indicate suffering, they at least do not convey an idea of comfort. Higginson, writing at an earlier date, says that there were no tallow candles to be had in the Colony but that they had fish oil in abundance for lighting, and that pine splinters served their purpose very well.83 These references to candles in the College books would indicate that candles had soon become plenty in the Colony, but the inventories of the day are of no use in settling this question.
The College books assist in interpreting the conditions of life on one other point—namely, how the colonists managed to carry on their daily transactions without a circulating medium. Coming as they did to what they were accustomed to term a wilderness, they did not fortify themselves with coin. The result was that they were soon obliged to provide substitutes. A price was fixed, at which the Indian wampum should circulate. Bullets were made current for a time in place of brass farthings. Prices were fixed for beaver skins. Corn was declared to be a legal tender, and so on.84 The result of all this was that the Treasurer of the College received very little silver. He was paid almost exclusively in commodities, oftentimes in live stock. Take a single account for a year. It was settled in rye, Indian, wheat, malt, butter, apples, and a final payment designated as commodities. The same difficulty must have been experienced in Charlestown by John Harvard, and it would be interesting to find out how he managed to pay his bills, or if he did not run any bills, fancy him going to market equipped with a few bushels of corn, a bundle of beaver skins, a string of wampum and a handful of bullets, thus prepared to settle for what he should buy.
I think we can safely draw the conclusion from what has been learned from the College building that the house that Harvard built for himself must have been but a very simple and rude cottage, especially must it have been small, if he was to occupy it during the winter of 1637–1638, for the reason that the smaller and simpler the house the quicker could it be finished. If it survived until Sewall’s time, it had a long life for those days, but of course, this was possible, since with constant occupation and continuous repairs, there would be a gradual substitution of new material, which might not only prolong the life of the building, but actually improve it and place it in better condition for continued life. Harvard was a comparatively wealthy man. Few of the colonists could show such a balance sheet. The days of framed houses had by that time become fairly well established in the older towns. He could, therefore, afford to indulge in a brick chimney, a shingled roof, in walls plastered and whitened or in a wainscot, and he certainly would have clapboarded the outside of his house. Probably also he had glass and not paper in his windows.
Here, surrounded by the three hundred and seventy-three or perhaps more volumes which he brought over with him,85 he must have made the best of the situation, and although it would be difficult for us to obtain much pleasure from the perusal of most of the volumes in his library, still inasmuch as they were deliberately selected by him, we must conclude that he expected to derive comfort from them. If his house was constructed in the fall, the time had come when he moved in, for him to enjoy his books. Winter was at hand with its cold winds, its ice and snow and slush. Inside the house, in the room where the books were shelved, near the fire, sheltered by the settle, was the place for the delicate young clergyman whose predisposition to pulmonary complaint forbade the idea of much exposure in ordinary New England winter weather. Reading these ponderous volumes,86 whose contents seem to us to-day as heavy as the books themselves, by the light of a candle in the winter evenings, afforded opportunity for cultivation and study if not for recreation. It is not right, however, to assume that what seems dull to us to-day was without interest to the theological student of the seventeenth century.
Audiences then listened patiently to long sermons which in their published form require careful study for us, to-day, to make out their meaning. Winthrop says:87
Mr. Hooker began to preach at Cambridge, the governor and many others went to hear him, (though the governor did very seldom go from his own congregation on the Lord’s day). He preached in the afternoon, and having gone on with much strength of voice and intention of spirit, about a quarter of an hour, he was at a stand, and told the people, that God had deprived him both of his strength and matter, &c. and so went forth, and about half an hour after returned again, and went on to very good purpose about two hours.
And yet, so complete was the domination of Hooker over his parish that when he went to Hartford, one hundred of his parishioners accompanied him, making the journey on foot, in about fourteen days. We can think of them trudging along through the forest, treading the old Indian trail, which skirted the swamps and led from ford to ford of brook or river, over the saddles in the intervening ranges of hills, and following their favorite preacher who could hold forth for over two hours, even when physically so prostrate that he was obliged to stop for a rally. We cannot judge of the enjoyment or the satisfaction to be derived by one situated as Harvard was, in the perusal of books which do not interest us to-day. It may be, probably was, that he found comfort in his Bellarminus and his Zanchius and recreation in Quarles’s Poems and the Mirror for Magistrates.
It would be pleasant for those who are smokers to think of Harvard toasting his feet before the fire and enjoying a pipe. This process was in those days termed “taking” or “drinking” tobacco and was frowned upon by the authorities. The public use of tobacco was forbidden in 1632 and its sale was prohibited in 1635. Thus the law stood until the spring of 1638. It was possible therefore for Harvard at this time if he could procure smuggled tobacco to smoke it in solitude, but the presence of his wife during the act would have made this proceeding illegal. In March, 1638, the restraints were temporarily withdrawn, but early in September they were again interposed and tobacco was not allowed to be taken in the fields, except on a journey, nor at meal-times, nor in or near any house, barn or hay-rack, where there was danger of fire; nor at any inn, or common victualing-house, except in a private room with no other person present.88
We are prone to think of the food which was served in those days as something for which the settlers were entitled to sympathy. I should be inclined to say that if Ann Sadler was a good plain cook, Harvard’s table would have been quite as attractive as the ordinary table of to-day. We all know how good the simple things taste which are served to us in camp. To Winthrop the rough fare seemed good, and he wrote in 1630, “I never fared better in my life, never slept better, never had more content of mind,”89 and again, “Though we have not beef and mutton yet (God be praised) we want them not. Our Indian corn answers for all. Yet here is fowl and fish in great plenty.”90 Johnson, describing things a few years later, spoke of the gardens and orchards. The author of New England’s First Fruits, writing only two or three years later, spoke of the gardens—orchards, grounds fenced, corn fields, etc.—and enumerated the resources of the table as fish—sea and fresh—fowl of all kinds, wild and tame, and spoke of white meal and of English grain as well as Indian. Goats, sheep and cattle had multiplied, and although in 1637 and 1638 they could not have been sufficiently numerous to be relied upon for furnishing meat for the table, still there is evidence that the colonists occasionally indulged in this diet. The forest, in season, provided occasional venison. Fowls were abundant, and, after they had become acclimated, bred freely. Partridges, pigeons and ducks, wild turkeys and geese were to be had in plenty in the fall of the year. The brooks were full of trout and the ocean teemed with life. Mackerel, cod, haddock, pollock, hake, and bass were to be had all along the coast, some of them at any time and in any quantity; and there were sturgeon in some of the rivers, and smelts and alewives were at times abundant. Clams and oysters were to be procured with ease, there were many beds of mussels, and lobsters abounded in the waters of the bay, not short lobsters, but big fellows, one of which would serve for a family. The period at which Harvard arrived was the transition from the sufferings of the early immigrants to the plenty which followed their successful efforts at introducing stock and cultivating gardens.91 The first difficulties attending the cultivation of English grain had at that time probably been overcome, and people were no longer absolutely dependent upon Indian corn, or imported wheat and oatmeal.92
Cooking was then accomplished before an open fire. The fowl or the cut of meat placed in the spit could be properly browned and basted under the constant supervision of the cook. The smaller birds could be broiled on the live coals. There were no stoves, and no ovens to mingle the flavor of roasted meats, no cold storage to destroy their taste. The Charlestown man who in 1638 had eggs for breakfast, felt reasonably sure that they were freshly laid and had no occasion to speculate as to whether they had been in cold storage for the preceding twelve months. There was no occasion for a chef de cuisine to disguise the decadent flavor of meats, nominally fresh but preserved artificially long after the time when they should have been eaten. A plain cook was all that was needed to secure palatable food. I am disposed, therefore, to say that there is no occasion for us to waste sympathy on John Harvard on that ground, certainly not if I am right in thinking that the era of plenty, which we know obtained four or five years later, had already dawned.
The lack of tea and coffee greatly changed the character of the meals of that day from those which are served us to-day. There were no five o’clock teas, no after-dinner coffee; but morning, noon, and night, beer, beer, beer. This does not sound attractive, but it must be remembered that one of the complaints made by the students against Eaton was that he did not furnish them with bread and beer between meals.93 One important article of diet is said to have been abundant, and that is milk. Our authorities do not fix the date when it became so, but presumably this was the case in 1638.
It is not probable that the earlier immigrants brought with them much of any furniture. The vessels were filled with passengers and stock. Sheep, cattle, goats, horses were crowded in, and as the voyage might be even longer than twelve weeks, they were obliged to carry provisions for passengers and for stock which should serve under any probable circumstances, and practically they had also to provide in advance for the return voyage. Besides this the colonists were dependent upon the Mother Country for clothes, for shoes, and for some years for medicines, condiments, spices, and some articles of food. All these things were of more importance than furniture, and it is not conceivable that much storage room could have been found for chairs, tables, bedsteads, and bureaus in the crowded ships down to 1640.94 If we should seek to reconstruct the furnishing of Harvard’s house we ought therefore to confine ourselves to simple and rude articles, just as well adapted, however, for their purpose as if more skilfully constructed.95 Table habits and table manners must have been very different at that time from those which prevail to-day. We should be shocked if when we sat down to dinner a guest should pull out a clasp knife, cut up his meat into small pieces, and then feed himself by conveying them to his mouth with his fingers.96 Yet, that must have been the way in which people ate their food in 1637. There were no forks in this country at that time, and there were very few knives other than such as people carried on their persons, either clasped in the pocket, or in a sheath attached to a belt. There were indeed no forks in England in general use at that time. The first that were used in Europe were dainty little things, not over three or four inches in length. They were made of silver, having slender stems, with short prongs at the lower end, and evidently having for a function simply the picking up of the small pieces of meat after they had been cut off. The idea of a fork of such strength as to permit one to hold the meat while cutting it had not yet been conceived. It was possible, however, by using a spoon to steady the meat, to avoid holding it with the hands. Bearing in mind that wooden and pewter spoons were then in use, it will be seen that reliance upon the stronger of the two could only have taken place. Montaigne in his journey to Italy says the Swiss always “place as many wooden spoons with silver handles as there are guests, and no Swiss is ever without a knife, which he uses in taking up everything, and it is very seldom that they put their hands in their plates.”97 These hints from across the Atlantic suggest what our ancestors probably did, but at all events, napkins are preponderant in early inventories in this country. Perhaps this preponderance may be explained by the absence of forks.98
Harvard, as a man of peace, could not himself have taken part in the trainings which then took place eight times a year.99 Although personally exempt, he must have taken an interest in the service of his parishioners in the militia. In the early days the Company sent over for their equipment corselets consisting of head pieces, gorgets, back pieces, breast pieces, gauntlets, and tassets, varnished all black with leather and buckles.100 Armed with pike or snaphance each man was a walking fortress and had but little to fear from the Indians, so long as he had the strength to bear his armor, as he wearily plodded through the woods and over the hills. When it came to the pursuit of a foe a soldier thus equipped must have been at a great disadvantage.101 We do not naturally conceive of armor-clad men in the forests of New England in the seventeenth century, but Longfellow calls up that association when he speaks of Miles Standish as pausing,—
Ever and anon to behold his glittering weapons of warfare,
Hanging in shining array along the walls of his chamber—
Cutlass and corselet of steel, and his trusty sword of Damascus.
These trainings must have aroused great interest in those days. A thousand men were reviewed in Boston by Governor Winthrop in 1639, presumably, however, not all of them in armor, for by that time they had discovered the questionable value of armor in the character of wars that they were likely to wage, and the equipment of a trained soldier was defined to be in 1634 a musket, a bandolier, a rest, and powder and shot, pikemen to bear them as well as other soldiers.102 The records show, however, that armor was still in use after the date of this Act.103
If on occasions like training days, John Harvard took his wife out with him to witness the evolutions and watch the congregation of his neighbors, it was important that both he and she should be clothed in a subdued and unobtrusive manner, for it was forbidden to make or wear slashed clothes, needlework caps, bands and rails. All gold and silver girdles, hatbands, belts, ruffs, and beaver hats were prohibited to be bought or worn. Nor was it permissible to use lace of any sort upon any garment, except small edging laces.104
The drum furnished the means of inspiriting the soldiers in these drills, but its use was not confined to such occasions. There were no bells in the Colony, and everything of a public sort was done to the tap of the drum.105 Were the inhabitants to assemble in town meeting the drummer made the announcement. Though Harvard did not march on Sundays to the Great House in Charlestown, yet he went at the call of the drum. In Dorchester a town official was appointed to drive the cows to the common pasture, and it was his business to blow his horn along the town as he accompanied the herd to the pasture.106 The drum and the horn served to warn people.107
Indentured servants were imported in great numbers, and while it is not probable that many of these were house servants, still it is possible that Harvard profited by their presence. Their time belonged absolutely to their masters during the term of the contract. They were liable to be whipped if they violated the unwritten laws of the Colony and were not permitted to trade without license from their master. When their terms of service ran out they were at liberty to make new wage contracts, and Winthrop records a humorous answer made by one of them to his master a few years after the period under consideration. The master had been obliged to sell a pair of his oxen to meet the wages of the servant. He thereupon told the man that he could not retain him in his service as he did not know how he could pay him. “Sell more cattle,” said the man. “What shall I do when they are gone?” “You can serve me and get them back,” said the man.108 Although this story is placed a few years after Harvard’s death, it is entitled to our consideration not alone for its humor but also for the moral involved in the answer of the servant. The indentured servants of the Colony, if they persisted after the expiration of their indentures in being industrious and were economical, were destined to have their share of the wealth of the Colony, and their employers, if unwilling to work, were to see the transfer of their wealth from their own hands into the possession of those better entitled to care for it.
Johnson’s description of Charlestown, as a place having one hundred and fifty dwelling houses, with a large market-place near the water side, built round with houses, comely and fair, from which there issued two streets lined with dwelling houses having gardens and orchards,109 fairly represents the possible Charlestown of 1638, with the exception that the trees in the orchards could hardly have reached such maturity as to amount to much. The meeting-house stood in what is now known as City Square. It must have been a primitive affair.
Such were the conditions of life in Harvard’s day, such the place in which he lived, so far as we can reconstruct them from the statements and hints contained in the records and narratives at our command. Had his life here been longer we could be more certain as to his experiences.
We do not know with whom Harvard was thrown when he arrived; whose friendship he especially sought; from whom he received such social attentions as were then possible. Pride in ancestry and class distinctions based upon occupations were rife in those days, and even under the levelling pressure of mutual exposure and hardship it was quite probable that the son of a butcher would have been coldly received by those claiming the right to be classified as of gentle families. It would have been natural for him to turn for associates and friends, first to the graduates of his own College and then to those who had been associated with other Colleges in the University of Cambridge. Hooker and Stone, both Emmanuel men, had already gone to Hartford, but Thomas Shepard, an Emmanuel graduate and a man of mark in the Colony, was within easy reach, being then settled at Newtown. Zachariah Symmes, his colleague, was a Cambridge man, as was also John Wilson, the colleague of Cotton and the sturdy opponent of Mrs. Hutchinson. Cotton, perhaps the most conspicuous of the colonial clergymen, was a Cambridge man, a graduate of Trinity, who was afterward connected with Emmanuel. In view of the turbulent conditions of the politics of the colony, in which Shepard,110 Symmes, and Wilson were to be found among the opponents of Vane and Cotton, it is not conceivable that the colleague of Symmes, who was eulogized by Wilson and spoken of with words of tender and loving praise by Shepard, should have sought the friendship of Cotton. Evidently he cast his lot with those who supported Winthrop—a fact which emphasizes the recognition of his independence and public spirit by his fellow-citizens in their appointment of him in the spring of 1638 as one of a committee to secure a code of laws. With the above trio, however, for sponsors, Harvard could not have lacked social attention. The clergy were the real leaders of the Colony. Lawyers there were none, and of doctors but a few.111 The society which was based upon intellectual cultivation, must after all have been that which was the most desirable.
One other person alone among his American contemporaries has his name directly associated with that of Harvard, and that is Thomas Allen—his successor in the Charlestown pulpit. Allen served as executor of the will. If this instrument was duly executed by Harvard in ordinary form, then this appointment indicated the personal preference of the testator and pointed out one person at least besides his wife in whom he had trust and for whom he had affection. The fact that in the confusion of the records at that date no written will has been found does not seriously militate against this conclusion.
Wilson in his elegy112 portrays the deathbed scene:
Not that no spouse sustained my fainting head,
Or loving children watched my dying bed;—
These I remembered, yet a half of all
I gave to you who throng this hall.
This reference to the loving children, who were remembered in the half of the estate, not given to the College, is the only hint that has ever been discovered of the existence of any family left by Harvard other than his widow, and adds one more difficulty to the attempt to describe his career.113
It is evident that if we could identify the leading spirit in the attempt to secure the establishment of a College in New England, with some person who was probably a friend of Harvard, we should have good reason to believe that in this person we had found the one who influenced him to make the bequest to the College. The entry in the Record in 1636,114 was simply an agreement to the proposition that there should be a college, in aid of which the sum of £200 would be given when the site was fixed upon, and £200 more when the building should be finished. The vagueness of the Act was slightly reduced by the deliberate statement that the site and the character of the building must be determined by the next Court. No name is in any way associated with this legislation, and there is no hint as to the person who was forcing action on the subject. Whoever it was, however, did not permit the matter to rest here, but next year, on the 15th of November,115 secured the adoption of Newtown as the site for the College and on the 20th,116 through the appointment of a working committee, brought matters into promising shape. This committee was composed of the Governor, the Deputy Governor, the Treasurer, three Assistants, and six clergymen.117 Of these latter Thomas Shepard was one. His influence in securing the adoption of Newtown as the site of the College is set forth by Cotton Mather in the following words:
And it was with a respect unto this vigilancy and the enlightening and powerful ministry of Mr Shepard, that when the foundation of a College was to be laid, Cambridge, rather than any other place, was pitched upon to be the seat of that happy seminary.118
He [the Lord] was pleased to direct the harts of the Magistrates (then keeping Court ordinarily in our towne because of their stirs in Boston) to think of erecting a Schoole or College, and that speedily to be a nursery of knowledge in these deserts and supply for posterity, and because this towne (then called Newtown) was hereto [by] God’s great care and goodness kept spotless from the contagion of opinion, therefore at the desire of some of the Deputies of the Court having got Mr Eaton to attend the Schoole, the Court for that and sundry other reasons determined to erect the College here.119
Making all due allowances for Shepard’s modesty, one might infer from his presence on the committee the influence that determined the selection of the site, even though Cotton Mather had not come to our aid. It is plain, however, from all this, that Shepard must have been a living force in settling “speedily”—to use his own language—these preliminary questions. His appreciative estimate of Harvard has something personal in its ring and compels the suggestion that he may have been the one to direct Harvard’s thoughts toward the College.
Concerning the details of the one great act in Harvard’s life which has made him famous we know absolutely nothing. There is no trace of the will which contained his immortal bequest. There is no certainty even that there was any written instrument. The lack of evidence as to the details of the bequest led the writer of a note to say, “John Harvard seems to be the ‘Melchisedec’ of the first age of the Colony of Massachusetts. He is known to us only as a ‘priest of the most High God,’ and as one who ‘gave gifts.’”120
Quite recently an Englishman has made an attempt, as he expresses it, to visualize the life and character of John Harvard. It may seem strange that Harvard graduates should have left the performance of this grateful task to a foreigner, but it must not be forgotten that the accretion of facts which have made the work possible has been slow and at best does not amount to much. Perhaps, on the whole, it is well that this testimony should have been borne to the fact that the care of John Harvard’s reputation does not belong alone to Harvard graduates, or even to Americans, but is the world’s possession. At all events, we must be grateful to Mr. Shelley for the graceful and charming work which he has performed. In conclusion let me quote a few words from his preface and from his closing chapter. The preface opens as follows: “Among the names graven on the foundation stone of American History none is so deeply carved, or is so rich in promise of endurance as that of John Harvard.” In his last chapter, which is entitled “The praise of John Harvard,” after alluding to Harvard’s contemporaries whose fame he and they probably believed to be not only better established in the present but also as having far better claim upon the future for endurance than his own, Mr. Shelley goes on to say: “Yet, while even the greatest of these are known to few save the diligent student of history, while their Court honors have turned to dust, and their achievements are lost in oblivion, the dying inspiration121 of John Harvard has given him an immortality which gathers brighter radiance with every passing generation.”
How true this is we all fully appreciate. The shadowy personality of Harvard as we have seen almost evades research. His final resting place is unknown, but his renown pervades the world. His fame has its foundation in the gratitude of the graduates of the University which bears his name. His glory is ever to be found in the work which that great institution has accomplished in the past and which it is destined to perform in the future.
Mr. Charles K. Bolton made the following remarks:
At our January meeting in 1904, I brought to the attention of the Society a leaf, torn from a Bible, on which had been written a record of Governor Shirley’s family.122 That record contained the previously unknown dates of the birth and baptism of the Governor and other interesting particulars concerning his own and his father’s family.
I noticed recently a handsome quarto volume, privately printed in London in 1897, bearing the title, Some Account of the Family of Godman, with a Record of every known Reference to the Name. Facing page 29 is a large tabular pedigree of the Godmans of Ote Hall, Wivelsfield, Sussex, which gives the maternal ancestry of Governor Shirley for seven generations with dates of baptism, marriage, and burial. There are also interesting facts concerning the Shirleys on pages 49 and 50.
Governor Shirley’s mother was Elizabeth Godman, daughter of John Godman, lord of Ote Hall, through whom the manor and lordship of Ote Hall, which had been the seat of the Godmans since 1537, passed to her son the Governor, and later to his son Sir Thomas Shirley, who sold it to Mr. William Tanner of Moorhouse, Sussex. From Tanner’s daughter the estate was recovered by purchase, in 1881, by Major-General Richard Temple Godman, who had served as an adjutant in the Crimean War at Balaklava, Inkerman, and Sebastopol.
On pages 37 and 38 are views of the manor house as it appeared in 1871 and 1881; and on pages 35 and 36 there is a description of it and an account of its restoration after its recovery by General Godman.
It is curious to observe that, apparently, the author of this elaborate volume had never heard that Shirley held office or had a distinguished career in America.
Mr. Henry H. Edes made the following communication:
In his History of Massachusetts (III. 15, 16), Hutchinson speaks of Governor Shirley as follows:
Mr. Shirley arrived in Boston from England, August 6th, 1756. He made an ill-judged step when he was in France, which he had reason to repent as long as he lived. At the age of threescore, he was captivated with the charms of a young girl, his landlord’s daughter in Paris, and married her privately.
When he came back to England, he would have concealed his match. Lord Halifax had heard the report, but did not credit it, until some of her letters were shewn him, which had been privately taken out of Mr. Shirley’s desk, by persons who wished to defeat his design of obtaining a better government, and to oblige him to return to New England. This imprudence lessened him in Lord Halifax’s esteem; and, though he had shewn himself to be very capable of his trust of commisary in France, as well as very faithful in the discharge of it, yet, as he failed of success, which, more frequently than real merit, entitles to reward, his private fortune was much hurt by his employment. His allowance being four pounds only per diem, he used to say, it did not cover his necessary expense in that publick character. The rumour of his marriage came to New England before his arrival, and some who were not well affected to him, were ready enough to insinuate that his French connexions might induce him to favour the French cause, but his conduct evinced the contrary.
Whether Shirley brought his young wife to America or left her in Europe does not appear. Of his recall, in 1756, Hutchinson says:
He wished to spend a little time with his family in Boston; but his successor [Pownall], judging that he should be better able to transact business with the assembly after the governor had left the province, called on him repeatedly, by letters, to embark, and he sailed several weeks sooner than otherwise he would have done (p. 48).123 . . . After long solicitation, he obtained the small government of the Bahama islands (p. 48 note).
As I had never met with any statement or record of the name of Shirley’s second wife, I was glad to find, a few days ago, in the Suffolk Registry of Deeds, the record of a conveyance that Shirley made to his son-in-law Eliakim Hutchinson, in which the given name of this young woman appears. In this instrument the grantor is described as “His Excellency William Shirley, late of Boston in the County of Suffolk and Province of the Massachusetts Bay, now of New Providence in the Bahama Islands, Esqr.” The covenants contain the following clause:
And further that the said William Shirley and his heirs all and singular the herein before-mentioned and granted premises with their unto the said Eliakim Hutchinson his heirs and assigns against him the said William Shirley and all persons whomsoever lawfully claiming the same shall & will forever hereafter Warrant & Defend particularly the Claim of Dower out of in & to the same, which Julie his present wife may make or set up in case of her surviving him.
This deed, the consideration in which was £2500, was dated 10 March, 1763, was acknowledged by Shirley in Boston, 25 February, 1764, before Nathaniel Hatch, and was recorded four days later, the record stating that the words in the above mentioned clause concerning dower were “first added thereto” before signing.124
The inference is fair that Shirley wished to divest himself of his tangible property, so far as possible, during his lifetime in order that it might be enjoyed after his decease by his children without the interference of their step-mother. The conveyance covered several estates, comprising more than a hundred acres, situated in Roxbury and Dorchester. This inference is strengthened by the facts that after Shirley’s death on 24 March, 1771, administration on his estate was granted to Eliakim Hutchinson, who gave bond in the moderate sum of £3,000,125 that no other probate proceedings appear of record, and that Hutchinson held the real estate conveyed to him in 1764 till 3 August, 1782, when, for £1600 lawful silver money, Samuel Henshaw and Samuel Barrett, both of Boston, a majority of the committee to sell the estates of conspirators and absentees, sold to John Read of Boston “the real estate of Eliakim Hutchinson late of Roxbury in the county of Suffolk,”126 which comprised only the several parcels conveyed to him by Shirley.
The Rev. Henry A. Parker read the following paper:
THE REVEREND EZEKIEL ROGERS.
The Rev. Ezekiel Rogers, Anglican priest and New England pastor,127 is one to be remembered by us, if for no other reason because he brought over and established here that substantial and industrious company of Yorkshire clothiers who settled Rogers’s Plantation, afterwards known as Rowley. For their early introduction of manufacture of cotton and woollen fabrics not only supplied a pressing need of the colonists, but gave New England the lead which it still keeps in that important industry.
Mr. Rogers, like John Harvard, was a benefactor of our College. He left it most of his English books, valued at £26, and all his Latin books, valued at £47 (except a copy of the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, which he left to his colleague the Rev. Samuel Phillips). The College also, some time after his death, profited by a provision in his will by which he left a considerable real estate to provide for the support, in part, of both pastor and teacher for the Rowley church, but if both were not employed according to the New England Way, to which he was enthusiastically attached, the estate was to go to the College—as in the end it did.
When in 1660 he found that the time when he should be gathered to his fathers was near, before disposing of his earthly estate he bequeathed to posterity a brief religious autobiography in which he incidentally expresses his disapproval of the “fashions and guises” of his time, particularly of “that general disguisment of long ruffian-like hair;” and says that he lives and dies “an unfeigned hater of all the base opinions of the Anabaptists and Antinomians, and all other phrenitics, dolays of the times, that spring from thence, which God will, ere long, cause to be as dung on the earth.” He thanks the Lord for having “mercifully prevented” him from becoming a physician, for he says he has “observed, that the most, through their own corruption, have made it to themselves the very temptation to covetousness or lust, or both.” Of the English Church he says that he lived in the time of “the hottest persecution of that bloody hierarchy, and being enlightened concerning the evil and snare of subscription and ceremonies” was nearly persuaded to give up the design of being a minister of the gospel.
His will is printed in the History of Rowley with an apologetic footnote stating-that it had “been submitted to the consideration of several competent judges, including some of our Baptist friends,” but that in spite of “a very earnest desire expressed for its publication entire,” it was published “not without some hesitation.” It is not stated that any stray Episcopalians or Antinomians or physicians were consulted, though the opprobrious remarks on the medical men being entirely gratuitous, they might with most reason have objected.
Mr. Rogers, indeed, was a masterful man of strong opinions which he expressed strongly. Winthrop reports that in his election sermon in 1643 he opposed the re-election of any man for governor twice in succession, “and expressed his dislike with such vehemency as gave offence.” And Winthrop, reporting his speech at the Cambridge Synod of 1647, when amongst other things he denounced long hair, says, “Divers were offended at his zeal in some of these passages.” When he discovered that the land granted his plantation did not include a certain neck of land, he made a scene in the General Court and gained his point—though obliged to apologize for his language. His thorough certainty that he was in the right, and that a more than ordinary reward awaited him in Heaven, is expressed in his letter of February, 1657–58, to the Rev. Zachariah Symmes of Charlestown:
I thank God I am near home; and you too are not far off. Oh! the weight of glory, that is ready waiting for us, God’s poor exiles! We shall sit next the martyrs and confessors. Oh the embraces wherewith Christ will embrace us!
Such was the man as known to us here. All this and more may be found in the excellent History of Rowley by Mr. Gage.128 But there is a good deal about this rather neglected worthy which was unknown in 1840 but has turned up since in England, though only accessible in published abstracts. The following from the Calendar of State Papers throws some light on his life in England and the circumstances of his emigration:
1638–39, Feb. 6 (about). In the certificate for York, the archbishop replies to the 12th article of the instructions:—“I do not find in my diocess any inclination to innovation in anything which concerns either the doctrine or the discipline of the Church of England;129 only I find that too many of your Majesty’s subjects inhabiting in these parts of Yorkshire are gone into New England, among which there is one Rogers, that had a benefice well worth 240 l. per annum, gone, whom I have laboured by the space of two years in sundry conferences to reclaim, and refused to suffer him to resign; but at the last, he going on shipboard for New England, wrote his letter to me, acknowledged that I had given him good counsel, but in vain, and prayed me to accept his resignation, for gone he was for New England.” Against which is written in the margin, in the King’s hand, “An honnester man must bee put in place.” Endorsed: Received 11 Feb. 1638–9.130
One would very much like to see Mr. Rogers’s letter of acknowledgment which he wrote to Archbishop Neile, for Neile was by no means favorably inclined to the Puritans—being indeed Laud’s original patron and intimate friend, personally and theologically. Moreover it seems that Neile, being as lenient as seemed to him possible to Rogers’s nonconformity, was merely continuing the course of his predecessor; for Rogers says in his will, that—
the Lord gave me a call to a public charge at Rowley, in Yorkshire, where by the gentleness of Toby Matthew I was favored both for subscription and ceremonies, and enjoyed my liberty in the ministry about seventeen years in comfortable sort, till for refusing to read that accursed book that allowed sports on God’s holy Sabbath, or Lord’s day, I was suspended, . . .
Tobie Matthew, above mentioned, who greatly favored him in subscription and in conformity to the ceremonies, was otherwise known as his Grace the Archbishop of York. It seems that the difficulty arising from Rogers’s refusal to read the Book of Sports was the first and only serious trouble that he ever had with his ecclesiastical superiors.
Rogers’s call to the rectorship of St. Peter’s in Rowley, East Riding of Yorkshire, came in the form of a presentation to the benefice by his patron Sir Francis Barrington, whose private chaplain he had been for some years, and who was one of the greatest men in Essex, a man of powerful family connection and very ancient descent,—he quartered the arms of England. Sir Thomas Barrington, a son of Sir Francis, was one of the adventurers for the Providence Island Plantation, of which Company Pym was treasurer; and it was doubtless through Sir Thomas’ influence that the Company offered Mr. Rogers a cure in their settlement in February, 1637–38, and again later.131 At Pym’s death the finances of the Company were found in very bad shape.132 Sir Thomas was a heavy loser, as appeared when Mr. Rogers applied after his death to his heir, Sir John Barrington, for preferment and for certain money which he claimed.133 There is evidently much autobiographical matter contained in Mr. Rogers’s letters in the Barrington Hall collection.134 It should be noted that Mr. Rogers left a benefice of the value of £240 to come to New England where his annual stipend seems never to have exceeded £60.