A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at No. 25 Beacon Street, Boston, on Thursday, 23 April, 1908, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Henry Lefavour, LL.D., in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read, and, after slight amendment, approved.
The Corresponding Secretary pro tempore reported that a letter had been received from the Hon. Frank Warren. Hackett accepting Corresponding Membership.
The President appointed the following Committees in anticipation of the Annual Meeting:
To nominate candidates for the several offices,—Mr. Waldo Lincoln, Dr. James B. Ayer, and Mr. John Noble, Jr.
To examine the Treasurer’s Accounts,—Messrs. Gardiner M. Lane and Francis H. Lincoln.
In the fall of 1634, Thomas Shepard, then a young man not quite twenty-nine years of age, set sail from the east coast of England with the purpose of chancing the hazards of what would practically be a winter voyage to New England. The sailing of the vessel on which he embarked had been announced several weeks before this, but various circumstances had detained her, and notwithstanding the fact that if one should make the voyage at that time of the year the passage to Boston could not be accomplished before the latter part of December, still it was determined by her owners to accept for the crew and the passengers the peril, the discomfort, and the suffering which would necessarily attend the trip, and for their craft the hazard of a winter approach to the dangerous New England coast. On the sixteenth of October, therefore, the vessel was permitted to sail from Harwich, having on board amongst others Thomas Shepard, his wife, and their infant son. That Shepard should have been willing to incur the exposure of such a voyage as this, is strong testimony to the peril of the situation in which he was then placed in England. Driven from pillar to post he had, notwithstanding his youth, become a marked man, and it was not only evident that he could not pursue his profession in England without sacrificing the tenets to which he was especially attached, but it was even probable that he might be punished for having disobeyed orders not to preach which had been given to him personally by Archbishop Laud, when Bishop of London, several years before. He had only been able of late to practise the functions of his office in remote districts, and if he ventured into parts where he was known he was obliged to exercise great discretion and remain in partial concealment. It was under the pressure of these circumstances that he sailed from Harwich, anticipating perhaps a voyage full of peril, but certainly without thought that even before he should be out of sight of land he would plunge into a violent storm which would utterly disable the ship and compel him three days thereafter to abandon her at Yarmouth. The experience of these three days was full of horror, and his sermons in after years bear evidence of the impression then made on him, through the frequent use of marine metaphors evidently drawn in a large measure from this source.
The restraints imposed in England upon the movements of nonconformists were at that time being drawn closer and closer, and it was not an easy matter for Shepard to follow out his plan of emigration. The exposure of his family on the unfortunate vessel in which he made his first attempt had resulted shortly after his landing in the death of the child which had shared their perils. This misfortune in no way altered his determination to emigrate. He and his wife remained, therefore, quietly under cover waiting for another opportunity to get away. During this period of seclusion another son was born to them, so that when they sailed from London in August, 1635, the family was again the father, the mother, and the infant son. Their voyage, although marked by much rough weather, was not unusually long, and Boston, the place of their destination, was gained in October, a little less than a year after their first attempt to reach it.
One of the first needs of an immigrant on landing here in those days was a house. There were no places of public entertainment adequate for sheltering or feeding immigrants arriving in groups, and the permanent residents of Boston, even if their homes were elastic, could not take in all that arrived. The settlers who landed with Shepard were, therefore, in luck, in finding the question of house-hunting determined for them by the migration of the Hooker colony from Newtown to Hartford. Here, in Newtown, were vacant houses, so situated that they were available, which the owners wished to dispose of. They would at any rate serve a temporary purpose and were promptly appropriated by the newly arrived party.
The fact that Shepard was a conspicuous man in England and that he had been the victim of persecution was undoubtedly caused by the wonderful influence that he exercised as a preacher over his audiences. Even the sermons preached by him as a beginner were afterwards published without his privity. It is not surprising, therefore, to find him at once taking high rank among the New England clergymen. A new society, with Shepard at its head, was promptly organized in Newtown to fill the vacancy occasioned by the migration of Hooker and his followers, and when in 1637, in order to escape the political pressure of the believers in Mrs. Hutchinson who were then in the ascendant in Boston, the sessions of the General Court were transferred to Newtown, it was Shepard’s strong influence, according to Cotton Mather, which secured the selection of that place as the site of a proposed college. Already it had been voted in 1636 that there should be a college and that the appropriation then nominally made should become available, one half the next year when the site should be selected, the other half when the building should be completed. Had the site been fixed in 1636, Shepard’s Voice might not have prevailed. As it was, with the Court holding its sessions in his own church, surrounded by his own people, and with himself in earnest in the work, he was able to accomplish his purpose.
It is obvious that there must have been some strong, moving power to influence the passage of the Act of 1636 prescribing that there should be a college. This Act did not in terms immediately appropriate any money—it was a mere promise or agreement to do this, and probably met with less opposition on that account, than if it had provided for an actual appropriation of £400 payable in whole or in part at once. Popular Acts which call for no immediate disbursements are at all times easy of passage, as was the case with resolves that statues should be erected in honor of the military heroes of the Revolution, in the early days of our Congress. When it came to making these resolves effective, that was another matter; and so with this Act of 1636, it would perhaps have died a natural death if somebody had not followed it up the next year and insisted upon the determination of the site as provided for in the original Act. Who it was in the General Court that did this we do not know, but what Cotton Mather says may help us to determine who inspired the action. The passage in Mather’s Life of Shepard which justifies this statement makes the assertion that it was with respect unto “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.”
It is clear that Shepard’s desire to secure the planting of the College in Newtown was prompted by his general interest in the cause of education. He was himself an educated man, and he tells us in his Autobiography that he looked upon the College as “an opportunity of doing good to many by doing good to students.” It was, in part at least, “at the desires of some of the students” that the Theses Sabbaticæ were published. It was at his instigation that the Commissioners of the United Colonies recommended a general contribution in aid of the College. He stands revealed to us, therefore, not only as one having posthumous reputation, but as a person of command and influence in the community where he lived, and the esteem in which he was held was not only recognized by the General Court, in the adoption of Newtown as the site of the College, and in his appointment November 20, 1637, upon a committee to “take order for a Colledge at Newtowne,” but found expression in the writings of contemporary authors, especially in the prefaces with which his fellow-workers introduced to readers his published sermons. It might be inferred, indeed, without this testimony that one who has left behind him so many published volumes of sermons and polemcal treatises upon theological subjects, many of which have passed through numerous editions, must of necessity have received contemporary recognition; must as a matter of course have commanded the respect of the community in which he lived. Now, although we cannot identify the person in the General Court who introduced the Act of 1636 ordaining that there should be a college, we can see that he whose influence secured the adoption of its site was this powerful and influential preacher who has left such an extraordinary record behind him, a record of homage reaching to comparatively recent times, and culminating in the coupling of his name as a mark of esteem and honor in the title of a religious society in Cambridge.
Thus far in treating of Shepard’s position in the community and his close connection with educational matters, we have dealt with accepted or obvious facts. Let us now, for the moment, enter the field of permissible conjecture, in an endeavor to show a probable association of his name with the bequest which has made Harvard immortal. Shepard was a graduate of Emmanuel College and it is not too presumptuous to say that to him as a fellow-graduate, John Harvard would, on arrival, have turned for counsel; for advice; for friendship. That the relations between the two were friendly, and that Shepard on his part esteemed Harvard, as we have just seen that Harvard must have esteemed Shepard, is shown by the allusion to Harvard in the Autobiography, at once the most touching, the most complete, and the most personal of the references to Harvard to be found. “This man,” Shepard says, “was a scholar and pious in his life and enlarged toward the Country and the good of it in life and death.” Who, more likely then than Thomas Shepard, the earnest promoter of the college and the personal friend of John Harvard, to have been the man to suggest to Harvard the method which he adopted to make his little fortune useful to his country?
Such, in brief, was the man from whose writings I have extracted for the purposes of this paper, a few paragraphs; such was his position in the community; and such are the possibilities which associate his name with the foundation of the great University in Cambridge.
We have quite a number of publications to which we turn for information concerning the early life of our fathers. What cannot be found on the pages of one writer may perhaps be discovered elsewhere by the diligent student, but no matter how much we may unearth, there is so much more that we should like to know that we examine eagerly every new source of information which may possibly enlighten us upon the every-day life of the early settlers, or which may increase our knowledge concerning topics which, being common to all, and being known to all, were not thought worthy of record. Now, Thomas Shepard preached continuously to the little congregation in Cambridge nearly fourteen years, and he left behind him publications, or manuscripts which were subsequently published, numbering upwards of a volume for each year of his Cambridge pulpit service. He was a learned man, but was cut off from sources of literary study in Cambridge, concerning which isolation he pathetically observes, “I have no books about me where I am.”319 His writings are fortified with quotations from the Bible and references thereto, by chapter and verse, and occasionally, but very rarely, also with some general allusion to the writings of some profane author. Some of Shepard’s works are in the nature of doctrinal treatises, some are sermons. Of these latter, some were delivered when in England, others were prepared for his Cambridge congregation; and it might be expected that somewhere in the pages of these volumes would be found hints which would reveal to us what we seek for in vain in the ordinary writings of the day—the interior life of a New England household in early times.
He who shall undertake to glean from the writings of Thomas Shepard such chance allusions as will help to reconstruct past life in Massachusetts will soon realize that the author had other motives in the publication of his works than to entertain his readers. This was apparent even to those of his contemporaries who furnished the press with his writings. William Greenhill and Samuel Mather when they brought out “Subjection to Christ,” while they described his preaching as “close and searching,” “with abundance of affection and compassion to his hearers,” and while they asserted that he affected “plainness of speech” and did not “shoot his arrows (as many preachers do) over the heads of his hearers,” yet felt compelled to add, “It is a stumbling block to some that his sermons are somewhat strict, and (as they term it) legal;320 some souls can relish none but meal-mouth’d Preachers, who come with soft and smooth and toothless words.” If, therefore, we to-day meet with the same stumbling-block, it is a consolation to know that contemporary admirers realized its existence and felt compelled to allude to it in submitting one of these works to the public for approval. It must also be stated that it will be evident to any reader of these sermons that the cold words on the printed page do not convey to the reader the power which made them so influential with the hearers, and this fact, as well, is recognized by the author of the “Address to the Christian Reader” in the same volume, presumably Jonathan Mitchel, who says, “These posthumous Editions are farre short of what the Author was wont to do, and of what the Sermons were in preaching.” “Reader,” says Mitchel in the preface to the Parable of the Ten Virgins, “if thou comest hither to carp and cavil, or to criticise upon each circumstantial imperfection, this work is not for thy turn.”
It was with the expectation of finding in these sermons some references to the little College in which Shepard was interested that I began an examination of their pages, and when I saw that “the desires of some of the students in the Colledge” had to do with “the more large discussing of the controversie,” I felt confident that there must be allusions; inferences to be drawn from metaphors and illustrations; and finally deductions to be made from what was said to the audience, that would be helpful in filling out the story of the College and in sketching a picture of early life in Cambridge. While the result of this examination along these lines was a failure, the search was not absolutely without result. For instance, we have in Theses Sabbaticæ a minute description of what may be done with propriety on the Lord’s Day, together with a statement of what ought not to be done. If we run through the enumeration therein of the things permitted and the things forbidden, we shall find that however much backsliders may have sloughed away, the legal rules for the observance of the Sabbath do not differ much from those which Shepard laid down and fortified with biblical references. These rules are of sufficient interest to quote in full. They are extracted from the Sanctification of the Sabbath.321 After laying down certain general propositions the author goes on specifically as follows:
If any work be done for any worldly gain, profit or livelihood, to acquire and purchase the things of this life by, (which is the principal end of week-day labour, Eph. iv. 28; 1 Thess. iv. 12,) this is a servile work, all one with what the commandment calls “thy work.” Hence buying, selling, sowing, reaping, which are done for worldly gaine, are unlawfull on this day, being therefore servile works: hence also worldly sports and pastimes (which are ordained of God to whet on worldly labour, not necessary every day but onely at some seasons) are therefore most proper appurtenances unto daies of labour, and are therefore unlawfull upon this day: holy Times are no more to be sported on then holy places; hence also on the other side, to rub the ears of Come, to dress meat for comfortable nourishment of man, because they respect not worldly gaine, are no servile works nor yet unlawfull, but may be more lawfully done for the comfort of man then to lead his horse to the water this day. Luke 6: 2. & 13. 13. & 14. 5. hence also such works as are done onely for the preservation of the Creatures, as to pull a sheepe out of a ditch, to quench a fire in a Towne, to save Corne and Hay from the sudden inundation of Water, to keepe Fire in the Iron Mills, to sit at Sterne and guide the ship, and a thousand such like actions (being not done properly for worldly gaine) are not unlawfull: God himselfe not ceasing from workes of preservation when he did those of Creation: hence also such works as are not works of immediate worship, but onely required necessarily thereto, as killing the Sacrifices in the Temple, travelling a Sabbath daies journey to the publique assemblies, being no servile workes for outward gaine, are not unlawfull upon this day.
Hence the building of the Tabernacle (which was not so much for mans profit as God’s honour) because it might be done upon the six daies seasonably enough hence it is prohibited upon the Sabbath day. Exod. 31. If a man hath Corn in the field, though he may pretend that the weather is uncertain, and it is ready to be brought into the Barn, yet he is not to fetch it upon the Sabbath day, because there is no eminent danger of spoyle the Monday after, and then he may fetch it as well as upon that day: the like may be said concerning Sea mens setting sayle upon the Sabbath day, though they be uncertaine of a faire gale upon the day after. Yet we must trust God’s providence, who almost in all such matters keeps us at uncertainties: hence also the sweeping of the house ought not to be done now, if it may as well be done the day before: So also to buy any things at shops or to wash clothes; if they may be done the week before or after, they must not be done on this day: hence on the other side works of necessity, which cannot be so conveniently done the day before or after, are not unlawfull upon this day, as to flie in persecution, to watch the City, to fight with the Enemy, Math. 24. 24. 2 Kings 1. 2. Hence also works of necessity not onely for preservation of life, but also for comfort and comelinesse of life are not unlawfull: for tis a grosse mistake to thinke that works onely of absolute necessity are allowed onely upon this day: for to lead an Ox to water, which in the strictest times was not disallowed of, is not of absolute necessity, for it may live more than a day without it; onely its necessary for the comfort of the life of the beast: how much more is allowed for the comfort of the life of man? The Disciples possibly might have lived longer than the Sabbath without rubbing Corn eares, and men may live on Sabbath daies generally without warm meat, yea they may fast perhaps all that day; yet it is not unlawfull to eate such meat, because its necessary for the comfort of life. Hence also to put on comely garments, to wash hands and face, and many things as are necessary for the comeliness as well as the comfort of life, are not unlawfull now: there is sometimes an inevitable necessity by God’s providence, and sometimes a contracted necessity through want of care and foresight; in this case the work may sometime be done, provided that our neglect beforehand be repented of: in a word, he that shall conscientiously endeavor that no more work be done on the Sabbath than what must be done for the ends mentioned, that so he may have nothing else to doe but to be with God this day shall have much peace to his own conscience herein, against Satans clamours: hence lastly, not onely outward servile work, but servile thoughts, affections, and cares, are to be cast off this day from the sight of God, as others are from the eyes of men; servile thoughts and affections being as much against the fourth Commandement as unchaste and filthy thoughts against the seventh.
Such were the rules laid down for the observance of the Sabbath by one whose word was law with his congregation. I think we can find running through them an unexpected liberality of thought. That which was necessary for the preservation of life came within the line of works not prohibited on the Sabbath, but so also did that which was essential for the comfort of animals; and if such consideration was felt for them, how much more might be done for man! It is not unlawful, he says, to eat warm meat on the Sabbath, and the inference is plain that it was not unlawful for Mrs. Shepard to prepare it for the table. That which was done specifically for gain was always unlawful. The practical definition of works of necessity and of mercy permissible on the Lord’s Day does not differ much from what can be extracted from our statutes and court decisions to-day.
But how about his congregation? Did they observe the day along the lines laid down by him? Listen to what he says to them. After asserting that God has set aside this day for man, he goes on as follows:322
HOW THESE LAWS WERE BROKEN.
And is this the requitall, and all the thanks he hath for his heart-breaking love? to turne back sweet presence and fellowship, and love of God in them, to dispute away these daies with scorne and contempt, to smoke them away with Prophanenesse, and madde mirth, to Dreame them away with Vanity, to Drinke, to Sweare, to Ryot, to Whore, to Sport, to Play, to Card, to Dice, to put on their best Apparell that they may dishonour God with greater pompe and bravery, to talk of the World, to be later up that day than any other day of the Weeke, when their own Irons are in the fire, and yet to sleepe Sermon, or scorne the Ministry, if it comes home to their Consciences; to tell Tales, and break Jests at home, or (at best) to talke of Forraigne or Domesticall newes onely to passe away the time, rather than to see God in his Workes and warme their hearts thereby: to thinke God hath good measure given him, if they attend on him in the Forenoone, although the Afternoone be given to the Devill, or sleepe, or vanity or foolish pastimes.
Who were these renegades, these dissipated rioters and card-players, who slept late Sunday mornings, and in addition took naps during sermon time; who thought their duty to the Church and their obligations to the day ended with the morning service; against whom Shepard was emptying his phials of wrath? Were they students? Were they members of his own congregation? Surely he had some cause for thus admonishing his hearers, but let us hope that in his anger his austere spirit overstated the case. At best, however, we must confess that there must have been recalcitrants in Cambridge in those days, that all was not harmony and peace. Over and over again he warns his hearers in unconventional language against the vices to which the young men of that day were exposed and from which one would have inferred that they might have been exempt in a pioneer rural community. “Men wonder,” he says in one of his sermons, “why, in this country men are more vile than ever they were, men that gave great hopes; the reason is this, they have seemed to be under Christ’s government, but secretly cast it off.”323
In Subjection to Christ he discusses at some length town-orders and deplores resistance to them. He lays down rules as to what laws are binding and what are not. To appreciate the full force of this discussion, it must be borne in mind that the government of the Colony was administered during nearly all of Shepard’s pastorate without any code of laws. It was not until 1641 that the Body of Liberties was adopted and not until 1648 that a complete code of laws was secured. During this period the affairs of the Colony were carried on under the Charter, with no other provision for details of administration than an occasional statute. Important trials were held before the General Court of the Company; punishments were adjudged practically at the variable discretion of individual magistrates; members of religious societies were kept under control by church discipline; and town affairs were administered by officers—selectmen, we should call them to-day—whose authority was derived from consent and generally recognized.
RESISTANCE TO TOWN OFFICERS.
Shepard puts a question, “When is power cast off in towns?” and proceeds to answer it as follows:324 “When any Town doth cast off the power and rule of Townsmen . . . ?” He then goes on to say:
I know sometimes men may not be so able, wise, and carry matters imprudently: Town-orders may also sometimes want that weight, that wisdome, those cautions, that mature consideration as is meet, as also that due and prudent publication that all may know of them, with records of them. But take Town-orders that be deliberately made, prudently published, for the publick peace, profit, comfort of the place, to oppose these, or persons that make these, with much care, fear, tendernesse; If I know anything, is a sin of a crying nature, provoking God, and casting off his government, I confesse, if there be not care here; I know no way of living under any government of Church or Common-Wealth, if the publick affaires of the Town be cast off.325
Note the strength of this last sentence, and bear in mind the undeveloped state of the colonial form of government. Then think how much it meant to say that whether under the government of the Church or of the Commonwealth, still there must be loyal obedience to those who were engaged in administering the affairs of the towns. These strong expressions must have been occasioned by resistance to town officers and repudiation of town-orders as he terms them, which came immediately under his observation and touched him closely.
He then goes on to discuss the question of how far men’s consciences are bound by town-orders and human laws. In doing this he lays down a definition of the source of law, which is perhaps worthy of notice.
ALL LAWS FROM THE SCRIPTURE.
All good laws and orders inacted in any place by men, are either expressly mentioned in the word or are. to be collected and deducted from the word, as being able to give sufficient direction herein. For all the authority of the highest power on earth in contriving of lawes, is in this alone, viz. to make prudent collection and speciall application of the general rules, recorded in Scripture, to such special and peculiar circumstances which may promote the publick weal, and good of persons, places, proceedings.326
The foregoing shows Shepard’s sympathy with Cotton, who was then preparing his proposed Code of Laws for the establishment of a Theocracy.327 We must therefore refer to his English experience the following exposition of a legal proposition: “Its a known thing among men, that a Father may receive a gift or Legacy given to him, and his heires, and he, and his heires are bound to perform the conditions of the Covenant.”328
We can obtain from time to time Shepard’s views as to the condition of the Colony in its relations to the outer world. Unfortunately, there is nothing on the surface to aid us in determining the dates when the several sermons were preached from which the extracts are procured. “New Englands peace and plenty of means breeds strange security,”329 he says in one of his publications, but farther on in the same volume we find the following: “I do fear there is at this day as deep mischief plotting against New England as ever the sun saw.”330 This apparent contradiction may, perhaps, be explained by the supposition that the strange security arose from ignorance of the plotting. In one of his sermons he enlarges upon the peaceful condition of the country:
The reports of divisions in New England are fables: The churches here are in peace; The Commonwealth is in peace; The Ministry in most sweet peace; The Magistrates (I should have named first) in peace; All our families in peace; We can sleep in the woods in peace, without fear of the Indians, for fear is fallen upon them.331
Again in a controversial publication he describes the Colony in the following words:
A Commonwealth erected in a Wildernesse, and in so few yeares brought to that state, that scarce the like can be seen in any of our English Colonies in the richest places of this America.332
It would probably be a comparatively easy matter, by reviewing the various episodes in the history of the Colony, to determine what caused these different expressions on the part of the writer. This task, however, I shall not undertake in this connection.
The foregoing represent all that attracted my attention in the volumes of Shepard’s sermons that I have examined, in which matters pertaining to the general affairs of the Colony or of the towns were discussed at any length. There remain to be considered, inferences as to the condition of society which may be drawn from the character of the advice offered or warnings given by the preacher, deductions to be drawn from metaphors or illustrations used, and occasional isolated expressions of opinion which when grouped together will show what the speaker thought upon some topic of interest. Among these the most natural place to expect results from an examination would be the metaphors or illustrations. One might almost assume that he would enforce an argument now and then by drawing some illustration from daily life, or by making some comparison based upon a parallel in the ordinary experience of the residents of the little village in which they lived. The resources of this field are greatly reduced, however, by the custom which then prevailed among clergymen of reinforcing every argument with some biblical text or scriptural analogy. Nevertheless we can find a few hints as to life drawn from these sources which, whatever their value, may prove of interest.
I have already mentioned the fact that the impression made by his nautical experiences is registered in Shepard’s sermons. No other portion of his career furnishes so many metaphors or is so freely drawn upon for illustration. The conditions of a vessel in port or at sea, under calm or during storm, at anchor or breasting the waves, in peril or in safety, are all made use of. The courage of the sailor and his confidence under circumstances of evident danger, his prudence in carefully inspecting everything about the ship before going to sea, his caution in approaching the coast, indeed, nearly every conceivable phase of his existence, is made use of by the preacher to enforce an argument or to illustrate a proposition. It may be that if he had spent the greater part of his life on the ocean and only a few weeks at Cambridge, the peculiarities of rural life in America would have made the same preponderant impression upon him, and we should have had from him a record of how people lived in New England instead of such copious references to the experience of sailors. It is to be noted in this connection that it is the ship and the sailor which furnish these metaphors and illustrations. The mighty power of the ocean itself, its monstrous waves, the cruel surf raging along the shore, have no place in his vocabulary.
SLEEPING IN CHURCH.
One inference may be drawn from these sermons, namely, that notwithstanding the fact that Shepard obviously relied for his effects upon his personal touch with his congregation, he nevertheless was compelled to take note that some of his audience took naps while he was preaching. The tendency towards this act of discourtesy would be affected somewhat by the length of his sermons. The solution of this question may perhaps be found in a reference to those “that come out of the Church when the tedious Sermon runs somewhat beyond the hour.”333 While this expression is capable of a broad interpretation which would not limit “the tedious Sermon” to the length of one hour, it seems to me probable that such is its natural reading.
I have already quoted the expression “and yet to sleepe Sermon” which was included in a category of evil doings against which he warned his hearers. In another place he refers to men who “neglect prayer and sleep out sermons.”334 Again he says, “We have Ordinances to the full, Sermons too long, and Lectures too many, and private meetings too frequent.”335 “Some Sermons,” he says, “men can sleep them out.”336 These quotations are enough to show that he was troubled by this lack of attention on the part of some of his hearers. There are more phrases of the same sort, but their recapitulation is not necessary.
We can gather no idea from his sermons of his own pulpit manners, but when he remarks, “People are naturally moved by a thundering minister,”337 we may perhaps conjecture that he had some person in mind whose preaching suggested this adjective; nor does the epithet convey the idea of thorough approval.
The reference heretofore given to the fire in the iron mills, which it was permissible to keep going on Sunday, brings before us the strenuous efforts put forth by the early colonists to make something out of the bog ore of New England.
We have seen that washing clothes was not permissible on Sunday, and that sweeping ought not to be done on that day if it could be done on Saturday. I have met with one other allusion of interest to the house-wife, namely: “Doth he not let thee like a broom, lie behind the door?”338 Evidently broom closets were uncommon, and as for the broom itself, we must not think of it as made of broom corn. Probably it was made of birch or willow twigs. The phrase, “Here are no sour herbs to make the Lamb sweet,”339 may perhaps be regarded as pertaining to the domain of the kitchen.
As for hints at daily life there are few. “Its from the excellency of a knife to cut well, but to cut my fingers with it when I should be cutting my meat with it, ariseth not from the end of the knife, nor from the intention of him who made it,”340 is, however, a reference to a daily peril at meal-times. It brings before us the adage, “Fingers were made before forks,” the application of which will show how the fingers of one having no fork were in danger when he cut his meat.
“When there is much counterfeit Gold abroad, every man will have his scales, and not only look and rub, but he will weigh every piece he takes.”341 Here we have an indication of what was essential for every person who received coins in those days of degraded and short weight money. The scales were a necessary part of every pecuniary transaction, even if the question of counterfeit coin did not come in.
“As with Apricott trees rooted in the earth, but leaning on the wall,”342 obviously refers to the method of training fruit trees on walls with southern exposures which prevails to-day in England; but “A Gardiner may intend to turn a Crab tree stock into an Apple-tree, his Intention will not alter the Nature of it until it be actually ingraffed upon”343 may have been suggested by grafting accomplished in Cambridge gardens.
CHURCH DISCIPLINE AND VISITING COMMITTEES.
“I conceive,” he says, “ ’tis casting off Christs power, to take away any power from Magistrates to punish sins against the first Table; of which errors and heresies in Religion are part.”344 This fairly expresses his hostile and unyielding attitude towards those whom he considers heretics, and yet his liberality leads him to urge his parishioners to welcome strangers. He says:
Many complain that New England hath so little love, Non-members not visited, not regarded (though many times unjustly). Oh, they thought to see so much love, and care, and pity; but here they may live and never be spoken to, never visited! Oh, take heed of this; Nothing beautifies a Christian in the eyes of others more than much love (hypocrisie is naught:) Oh excellence; visit poor families, sit one half hour and speak to discouraged hearts. Shew kindness to strangers; Such you were; I’ll warrant God will bless you, this was the Glory of Christ, full of grace and truth.345
The visiting committee dates back, it will be seen, to colonial times.
In those days our soldiers wore armor. Shepard refers to this, setting forth the reluctance of a man to expose himself without his armor; “but,” he adds, “when he hath his armour on of proof, and such armour that he knows let him receive never so many wounds, yet he shall escape with his life,”346 then he is ready to go forward.
As for soldiers themselves, he regards the individual as unobjectionable, but he says “when they are got into a knot together; now they go strong against all lawes of God or man.”347 Evidently he had experienced some serious difficulty with riotous soldiers, for he goes on to say, with an apology for what has just been repeated: “ ’Tis not now an Artillery day, only I must speak a word, because it is a thing of moment and matter of great conscience with me.”348
INDIANS AND BEGGARS.
He evidently had not much use for the native red men and speaks of them “as poor naked Indians,”349 “poor Indians, herds of beasts.”350 As for beggars, one would not expect to find any indication of professional mendicancy in a pioneer community. There are nevertheless references to beggars, and the following smacks of professional methods: “it is with faith as with a poor woman that hath a child, and hath nothing in the world to give it, she takes the child at her back and goeth from door to door, and what she getteth she giveth to the child.”351
A large part of the hard work in the Colony was performed in those days by indentured servants. During their term of service the position of these servants was anomalous. They shared with their masters the exposure incident to pioneer life under conditions of climatic changes which made it inevitable that even the best protected must suffer, and in addition they were subject to the caprices of those having charge of their work. The time of the servant belonged absolutely to the master, and the latter had the right to compel the service of the former by any means at his command. The relations between master and servant were therefore suitable topics for advice from a preacher, and Shepard discusses the matter on several occasions. He asserts that there is much discontent; that servants are weary of their masters and masters weary of their servants; that each complains of the other.
The Master saith the Servant is unruly, froward, surly, slothful, unfaithful, untrusty, and must not be spoken to; the Servant saith his Master is passionate, unkinde, wants pity to his body, and sometimes strikes him without cause, and much more careless of his soul, never instructs him.352
He says that one who has not yet been adopted by the Church is as yet no son but a slave to Satan, “a servant at best, working for Wages only, and fear of the Whip, who shalt not always abide in God’s House as Sons shall do.”353 He speaks of servants casting off their subjection “to their Govern our,” and discusses the condition of affairs as follows:
When they are not obedient, but answer again; if they be let alone, then idle; if rebuk’d and curb’d, then stubborne and proud and worse for chiding; and finde fault with their wages, and victuals and lodging; weary and vex out the heart of Master and Mistresse, and make them weary of their lives; their God also almost sometimes; and that by such professing Religion, and all that they might be from under the yoke.354
Here we have a picture of a condition of affairs in the Colony in Shepard’s day which is in some respects appalling. Servants discontented, insolent and rebellious, held to their work by fear of the whip, and seeking to ameliorate their condition by hypocritical pretensions of conversion. On the other hand, the masters are accused of being captious, wilful, and indifferent to the welfare of the servants, and the result is that masters and mistresses are weary of their lives.
SICKNESS, REMEDIES, AND MEDICAL PRACTICE.
Of sickness we have only allusions to the capriciousness of the appetite of a consumptive.355 Shepard had suffered in his family from the inroads of this disease, and doubtless his comments were based upon experience. Of remedies and medical practice there are but few hints. Men, he intimates, will not go to drug stores or call upon physicians if they have remedies at hand—or to quote his own words:
Now if a fainting man have Aqua-Vitae at his beds head he will not knock up a Shop-Keeper for it. Men that have a Balsome of their own to heal them, will not go to a Physitian.356
In the following excerpt, not only do we have a reference to one of the great remedies of the day, but a suggestion as to methods of administration which seems reasonable. “As surgeons when they let a man bleed, bid him look another way.”357 The sick-room diet and tonics are set forth as follows:
Men that are sick and like to die, can eat no common wholesom meat, but are now nourished by conserves, and Alchermies, and Spirits of Gold.358
Alchemy, the predecessor of chemistry, furnishes this title for a compounded prescription, while in the last mentioned we have the famous aurum potabile.
Here also is a bit of contemporary nursing practice:
What is the End of the Mother in laying Wormwood and Gall upon her Breast, but that the Child by tasting the Bitterness of it might be weaned and have his Stomach and Will turned from it.359
The comparison of the relative merits of “dish-milk and flit-milk” with “breast-milk” as food obviously belongs in the same category.360 If he had spelled “flit” “fleet,” we could easily have identified it with skimmed milk by means of our dictionaries.
The reduction of inflammation in the case of a burn is thus expressed: “As ’tis in Burnings so the Fire must be first taken out before there can be any healing.”361 His views as to the proper treatment of a demented person bring before us with painful precision the lamentable condition of these unfortunates until quite recent times, if indeed we can feel positively assured that the opinion that he expresses has everywhere disappeared:
Sick and weake men are to be tender’d much, but Lunatick and Phanatick men are in best care; when they are fetter’d and bound.362
His knowledge of the laws of physics is perhaps up to the times in which he lived, and his references to the subject, although rare, are just enough to give an idea of what it amounted to. “It’s a question,” he says, “whether the beams of the Sun are fire: Some demonstrate it thus, Take a Glasse and gather together the beams, it burns.”363 Here is his explanation of the law of gravity:
As ’tis with a stone, cast it up its against the bent of it, because the nature of it is to rest in the Centre, and hence it comes down again. It is not by internal bent but by external vis or force.364
A few pages further on in the volume from which the last quotation was extracted he reveals a theory prevalent in his day in the following words:
Some naturalists observe, that Brass would be Gold, it tends to it, had it but more heat of the Sun to correct it, and to bring it to perfection.365
The following will be recognized as a description of the telescope: “Optick glasses will take within them the present image of things afar off.”366 He speaks several times of “Bristoe Stones” which resemble pearls so closely that Jewellers alone can distinguish them. He refers in this to Bristol Stones, which being rock crystal might perhaps be mistaken for diamonds, the word pearls being used in this connection in its generic sense, for valuables or jewels. He does, indeed, in one place say, “There are your Bristow Stones like Diamonds.”367
Speaking of the malleability of lead he says, “as Austin shows by a Similitude of Lead which some Artists can beat so small as to make it swim,”368 and he describes sympathetic or invisible ink in the following terms: “As letters writ with the juice of Oranges, cannot be read until brought under the fire.”369 Referring to magnetic attraction, he says: “Just as it is with the Load-stone drawing the Iron, who would think that the Iron would be drawn by it? But there is a secret Vertue coming from the Stone which draws it; and so it comes and is united to it.”370
The Beginning of the Sabbath is devoted to a discussion of the hour when the day should begin and includes, of course, the time when it should end. By means of a geographical illustration he disposes of certain theories of which he disapproves. After stating that some would measure the Sabbath by the daylight, would have it from the sun-rising to sun-setting, he goes on—“but if the day-light be the measure of the Sabbath, those that live in some parts of Russia and East-land must have once a yeere a very long Sabbath, for there are some times of the yeere wherein they have day-light a moneth together.”371
References to English history are rare in Shepard’s pages, but one, at least, is worth noting. “Remember,” he says, “that the Discovery of Faux in the Vault, was the Preservation of England.”372 The celebration of Guy Fawkes’s day was likely to impress this event upon his memory in a special manner since he was born upon the 5th of November, 1605.
Naturalists were not so closely subdivided in those days as they are to-day. Moreover, not much attention was then paid to the study of the various branches of natural science. It is not strange, therefore, to find none of them mentioned, unless under herbalists he meant botanists. He speaks of the herbalist who finds out about plants from books, but perhaps treads under foot the very plants that he is after, without knowing them.373 This might pass for the description of an incompetent botanist, but when he speaks of “Herbalists, that treat of the Sovereign excellencies of several herbs,” he evidently refers to an herb doctor, and when he adds, “but when they come to gather them in the garden, they take their counterfeits in the room of them,”374 he shows his contempt for them. The similarity of the ending of each reference makes it probable that he only had in mind herbalists who made use of herbs in their therapeutics.
The ladies of his congregation must at times have shrunk under his castigating criticisms. Here, for instance, is one that may have penetrated many a household: “What little hope of a happy generation after us, when many among us scarce know how to teach their children manners?”375
BANKRUPTCY AND IMPRISONMENT FOR DEBT.
Bankruptcy and imprisonment for debt furnish illustrations drawn from the conditions of colonial trade. It is evident that somewhere, perhaps in England, he had seen some respectable merchant who had failed in business reduced to the necessity of peddling the wares that he formerly sold over the counter376 The fact that such an one has no other resource than to begin life again on the same lines in a smaller way impressed him, and he alludes to it more than once. He refers to one “in chains for debt,”377 without expression of sympathy, simply saying that if the debtor gets out without satisfying the debt he will be taken again; if, however, the debt is satisfied, he will be set free.
ACTORS AND LOVERS.
During Shepard’s collegiate career he tasted some of those experiences in life which were frowned upon by the nonconformist preachers of his day, and it is perhaps to that period of wider experience that we owe references to actors who act the part of kings but “look upon them in their tyring rooms they are but base varlets.”378 Perhaps also it is to this interval of gayer life that we owe “the foolish lover,” who when he goes to woo a lady falls “in love with her hand-maid that is only to lead him to her.”379 It would seem to be quite sure that this could not be founded on an experience in rural New England.
Shepard knew nothing of the Rugby game of football. The old fashioned game was to be won by superiority of kicking. The following reference seems to bring Satan before us as an expert in the kicking game: “Satan now appears with the ball at his foot, and seems to threaten in time to carry all before him, and to kick and carry God’s precious Sabbaths out of the world with him.”380
Humor is, perhaps, the last thing we should look for in these sermons. Yet there are indications that Shepard could appreciate humorous satire. “Wrastling with his shadow,”381 and “can see no further than his own buttons,”382 are both of them pointed, vigorous, and humorous expressions, which need no glossary. “Aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus,”383 he says when he trips up an opponent in a polemical discussion. “He who keeps not his shop, his shop will not keep him,”384 is a saying of profound truth but decidedly humorous. “The Elder’s foot is now too big for his shoe”385 must have tickled his congregation, especially if they could make a personal application of the saying. “And not set the whole house on fire to roast their own Egs”386 squarely anticipates Charles Lamb’s method of roasting a pig.
In a category of evils, such as: “the Family is sick; the Cattle die; Servants are unfaithful” he puts on even terms with the foregoing, “the English flower is gone.”387 The colonists in early times were frequently dependent upon Indian meal, but this gives a hint of their real liking for wheaten flour.
In 1638 Shepard preached the Election Sermon. An abstract of what was then said has fortunately been preserved. The Sermon was inspired by the exciting political events of that year. Vane’s indiscreet manifestation of his interest and faith in Mrs. Hutchinson permitted Winthrop easily to undermine his power outside of Boston. The Court of Election was, through Winthrop’s adroitness, held at Cambridge. The day was full of excitement and of personal conflict, and the result was the overthrow of Vane. The Sermon is full of veiled personal allusions, from which I select one which undoubtedly refers to Vane’s following and at the same time expresses a view as to the political opinions of the people which would pass current to-day. “The multitude,” says Shepard, “are exceeding apt to be led by colours, like birds by glasses and larks by lures.”388
The phrase “Anabaptists, Familists and rigid Separatists, and who have privily crept into New-England churches,”389 is very striking. The classification of the rigid Separatists with obnoxious people like Familists and Anabaptists betrays an unlooked for clinging to the Anglican Church on the part of a people who had abandoned all outward signs of adhesion to that Church, and of a pastor who looked upon it as sinful that he took out a licence in London to preach. This phrase is introduced in a discussion of church government. Men who will not acknowledge the authority of the church rules arrogate to themselves the entire authority of the church, “not only,” he says, “single members or Officers, but Pastor, and Teacher and Elder and all.”390 Such men are especially to be found among Anabaptists, etc.
Dunster, the President of the College, was an Antipœdobaptist, and his outspoken views on this subject ultimately led to the termination of his collegiate service. Shepard on his part very likely had Dunster in view in some of his hits at Anabaptists. His allusions to the doctrine which Dunster held in such esteem are at all times contemptuous. For instance, speaking of Anabaptists, he says:
They would not have any Children to be Baptized: and so they make the condition of the Children of the Saints of God (dear to God), in as miserable an estate as the Children of any Turk or Pagan and but as lawful to Baptize them, as a Cat or a Dog.391
Again, in a preface to a publication by a friend, he says:
It is much to be feared, that the doctrine of Anabaptisme, especially in this controversie concerning Infants, will gangrene farre, and leaven much; . . . .392
Such language as this concerning a doctrine which Dunster held so dear indicates that there must have been friction between these two men, holding the most important positions in the little village in which they both lived. This might perhaps have been inferred from Shepard’s The Church Membership of Children, which warmly advocates his ideas upon this subject.
When we meet archaic expressions or run across unusual customs, we cannot feel sure that an explanation of these is to be sought in New England manners and customs. Shepard brought over with him memories of Old England, and his rules of life are deduced from the Scriptures. The New Testament, for instance, furnishes authority for the propriety of rubbing ears of corn on the Sabbath,393 while it is the Mosaic Law which prohibits work on the Tabernacle on that day.394 “Kitchen physick,”395 an expression used more than once, probably came from over the water, but it doubtless referred to food as the best cure for the disease of hunger. “Fired him out,”396 which occurs in the Autobiography as well as in a sermon, sounds like slang, but it has Shakespeare behind it, and when he wrote “the Bishop fired me out,” he evidently meant to put the transaction in vivid form. A reference to “Bonners Cole-house”397 coupled with Newgate as a place where those were confined who would not “subscribe”—an allusion presumably to persecutions for heresy—brings before us Bishop Bonner and the Windsor Coal-house, a reference familiar probably to his hearers, but obscure to most of us to-day. “Kiss the clinke”398 is another quaint expression that is met with, the reference being plainly to the prison called the Clink. “Walke thus with thy bootes Frenche like”399 apparently from the context means to walk pompously, to strut, while on the other hand there is an idea of depression in the description of one whose heart sinks when sin and weakness, death and condemnation wrap him about like “Jonah’s Weeds.”400 The expression “John’s candle flies” may perhaps be based upon some of the illuminations on the eve of St. John’s Day.401
The foregoing extracts have been obtained from eleven different volumes,402 printed under the titles given heretofore in the notes, and containing in some instances subdivisions with separate titles, or perhaps two or more sermons, each with its own sub-title. Besides these I have examined three other publications which yielded nothing serviceable for my purposes.403 The various editions of Shepard’s works which have appeared from 1641 down to the present time, in one form or another, the authorship of which cannot be questioned, number sixty-eight. Besides these Allibone gives three other titles, all of which are questionable, one being—I am quite sure—a pamphlet by Giles Firmin.404 Sabin gives the titles of twenty-one editions of The Sincere Convert, and fourteen of The Sound Believer. Fortunately for the person who cares to examine Shepard’s writings, these are all reprints, so that the examination of one will do for all bearing the same title. While these extracts from Shepard’s sermons throw some light upon colonial life, they are perhaps of more interest to the topical student than to the general reader. At all events, they reveal to us that our ancestors were human.
The reading of this paper led to some discussion. Mr. Davis having quoted from Shepard’s election sermon of 1638 the words that “the multitude are exceedingly apt to be led by colour, like birds by glasses and larks by lures,”405 and having remarked that Shepard may have referred to the infatuation felt in the Colony for Henry Vane, Mr. James K. Hosmer, a Corresponding Member, spoke as follows:
The suggestion is interesting. There are grounds for believing that Vane assumed a state and circumstance unusual in the Colony. His long hair and courtier-like dress and ways displeased his shipmates on the “Abigail,” until he managed to win them by his personal charm. As Governor, he was attended on all state occasions by four halberdiers in full armor. His own attire and demeanor were no doubt those of the well-born and high-placed men of the time. On the scaffold, even, Vane appeared in a silken vest of scarlet, “the victorious colour:” certainly in his youth and on occasions less tragic he would not be indifferent to color. The statue of Vane, by MacMonnies, in the Boston Public Library, has been criticised as dapper and finical, presenting, as it does, Vane as an elegantly appointed cavalier, plumed and courtier-like, such an one as might have been encountered at Whitehall in attendance upon Charles I. In some such guise, however, the young Governor probably appeared, and Puritans of the graver sort might not unnaturally use such language concerning him as these words of Thomas Shepard.
Again on behalf of Mr. Slade, Mr. Edes communicated the original marriage settlement, dated 9 March, 1725–26, between Josiah Willard, Secretary of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay from 1717 to 1756, and Mrs. Hannah Clarke, widow of William Clarke.406 The marriage settlement, which is wholly in the handwriting of Mr. Willard, follows.
To all People unto whom These Presents shall come, Josiah Willard407 of Boston within the County of Suffolk & Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England Esqr. Sendeth Greeting; Know ye That in Consideration of a Marriage Agreed upon by Gods Grace Shortly to be had & Solemnized between the said Josiah Willard & Mrs Hannah Clark of Boston afore said Widow, The said Josiah Willard for himself his Heirs, Executors & Administrs doth Covenant, Grant & Agree to & with Messrs Jacob Wendall, Samuel Appleton and Joseph Brandon All of Boston afore said Merchts Trustees for & on Behalf of the said Hannah Clark, their Executrs. Administrs. & Assigns, That she the said Hannah & her Heirs at all Time & Times after the said Marriage had & solemnized & her Coverture Notwithstanding shall be Entituled to Have, Hold, Retain & Enjoy the sole & separate, Right, Title Interest Use & Property to & in all & singular her Money, Plate Utensils of Household, Trading Stock, Merchandise, Adventures, Goods Chattels & Estate what soever, As well that in her actual Possession, as what is outstanding in Debts by Book, Accompts, Bonds, Specialties, Mortgages or other Securities or in Adventures by Sea or howsoever otherwise to her of Right belonging in as large & ample Manner as she had whilst sole & unmarried, And that the said Hannah shall have free Liberty, full Power & Authority at all Time & Times by her self, her Trustees or such other Person or Persons as she shall think to Nominate & Appoint for her Agents or Factors, To Manage & Employ & Improve the said Estate, To take receive & keep all the Proceeds Incomes, Interest & Profits thereof, to her proper & separate Use, Benefit & Behoof without any Lett, Denial, Hindrance or Obstruction of him the said Josiah Willard And without any Accompt, Reckoning or Answer therefore to be made rendered or given to him or any others from by or under him, or without Disavouring any Act, Thing or Things to be made or done by the said Hannah her Trustees or Agents in that Respect; And that the said Josiah Willard his Heirs Executrs. or Administrs shall in no wise intermeddle or make any Pretension, Challenge, Claim or Demand to any Part Portion or Parcel of the Estate of the said Hannah either During the Continuance of the said Marriage or at the Dissolution thereof, If it happen he survive her.
And the said Josiah Willard Doth further Covenant Grant & Agree to & with the above named Trustees, That it shall & may be lawful to & for the said Hannah, And she is hereby Granted free & full Liberty and Authority (The Coverture between her & the said Josiah Willard Notwithstanding) at any Time or Times To Make Subscribe, Seal Publish & Execute any Writing Purporting her last Will & Testament, or any Deed, Instrument or Instruments, And thereby To Give, Bequeath, Dispose, Assign & Appoint to any Person or Persons according to her own free Will & Pleasure, the Whole or any Part, Parts or Portions of her Money, Plate, Stock, Goods, Chattels & Estate referred as afore said, in as full, large & ample Manner, as she might or could do, If she were then a Feme Sole & unmarried; And such Will, Deed, Instruments or Writings by her signed & executed shall have a like Operation & Effect in Law & be pursued & performed & put in Execution by such Person or Persons as she shall think fit to nominate & appoint for that Purpose without any Lett, Denyal, Obstruction or Impediment from or by the said Josiah Willard or any other Person or Persons by or under him, by his Means, Assent or Procurement; But if it happen No such Will or Disposition to be made by the said Hannah, or None such do Appear, That then & in such case, All her Goods Chattels & Estate shall be Imployed Disposed & Distributed to and among her Children & Heirs in Manner as is Provided by Law: And the said Josiah Willard Doth further Covenant, Grant & Agree That from & after the Consummation of the said Marriage & During the Continuance of the same, He will well & sufficiently provide for maintain and support the said Hannah with suitable & convenient Alimony Lodging and Apparel according to her Quality & Degree
In Witness whereof, The said Josiah Willard hath hereunto set his Hand & Seal this Ninth Day of March in the twelfth Year of his Majesties Reign, Annoq Domini One Thousand Seven Hundred & twenty five, six. Sign’d Seal’d & Deliver’d
in Presence of Us
Ebenezer Holmes Josiah Willard [Seal]
The Rev. Henry A. Parker read the following paper:
BERMUDA COLONIAL CLERGY IN NEW ENGLAND.
There are but three of the early clergy, so far as is known, who exercised their office both in New England and in the Bermudas,—John Oxenbridge, William Golding, and Sampson Bond.
John Oxenbridge, who was a minister of the First Church in Boston for four years and more before his death on December 28, 1674, had been in his younger days a very important person in the Bermudas.
William Golding, who took an active part in establishing Independency in the Bermudas and was in correspondence with some of our leading men, gains entrance to Savage’s Genealogical Dictionary only from his having stopped over in Boston on his way to England. He was here at the lecture November 5, 1646.
Sampson Bond, who had been long settled as a minister in the Bermudas, was here in 1682, and for a time assisted James Allen at the First Church in Boston. He was forced to resign his position “for preaching a sermon not composed by himself,” and returned to the West Indies.
Nathaniel Ward, “the Simple Cobbler,” was supposed by Governor Lefroy to have been the same man as a minister of that name who was for some time in Bermuda, but in this Lefroy seems clearly to have been mistaken, since, as Mr. Dean shows, the New England Nathaniel Ward twice signed papers in England during the time the other Nathaniel Ward was very actively employed in Bermuda.408 Although it is not unlikely that both he and the Bermuda clergyman, Nathaniel Ward, were relatives, of those who came to New England Ward of Bermuda seems to me a different sort of man, by no means the equal of our useful New England colonist.
The Puritan clergy of the island, including the three who came to us, promulgated in Bermuda a rather different sort of Puritanism from that which was allowed in Massachusetts. The Puritan schoolmaster Richard Norwood, who suffered not a little at their hands, questions concerning them:
Whether this discipline or form of religion which they would set up, be the same at all points of moment with any other reformed church whatsoever, except perhaps in Providence where it had no such success as should induce us to embrace it. If they say Yes! in New England! we are very doubtful of that.409
His doubt was more than justified.
When we think of the so-called New England Theocracy and the power of the clergy here, we are perhaps disposed to overlook or underestimate the careful oversight which the magistrates exercised and the vigor with which they suppressed any action which seemed to them excessive or dangerous on the part of the clergy. Of course, the suppression of the so-called Antinomians is the most noted instance of this, but that action does not stand alone, the clergy understood that the magistrates were the masters. The iron hand was usually gloved, but Dunster and Whiting and many another had on occasion personal experience of its weight and strength. Only once did the magistrates get the worst of it in a contest with the clergy. Skelton and Higginson at the very first, with the aid of Governor Endicott, so arranged matters that they were able to “rush” Winthrop and the new comers on their arrival; and taking them by surprise enforced on them a system of church organization which they had not intended to set up and that afterwards made trouble which the more politic men of affairs might otherwise have avoided. There was no choice for Winthrop and Dudley on their arrival but submission, or a violent and disastrous quarrel. They had to decide at once, and they accepted what had been done, but saw to it that the preachers should never get out of hand again, and only once—when the inexperienced Vane was chief magistrate—was their government ever seriously threatened.
John Oxenbridge, for us the most important of the Bermuda clergy, came into notice in England in the winter of 1633 or in the following spring, he then being a tutor at Magdalen College, Oxford, when he was twenty-six years old.410 He took his bachelor’s degree at Lincoln College in 1624 and had been for some years tutor at Magdalen, when it was discovered that he was binding to himself certain of his pupils (I have seen no statement of the number) by a “Sacramentum Academicum or oath of obedience.” The oath itself does not seem to have been printed, but the general purport is said to be that—
It promises obedience to his government in hair and clothes, studies, performance of religious duties, company and recreations. It extended also to unveiling [confessing] to Oxenbridge at times of reading and private conference, and telling him what the vower knew of his fellowpupils.411
Oxenbridge admitted to Vice-Chancellor Duppa that it was his own composition, without advice, and stated (April 27) that he “first used it about the holidays of Christmas last,” said that he had “long ago [!] resolved to suppress it,” and pleaded that—
By the principal of the house wherein he is a commoner he has been sharply upbraided with indiscretion in this matter, and the copies of the Sacramentum which he had by him were burned before his face, a punishment which he would have thought proportionable to a young man’s error so soon seen and stopped.412
So, however, did not the authorities think, and “the sentence” (May 27, 1634) “for distutoring of Mr. Oxenbridge,” runs as follows:
Whereas John Oxenbridge . . . both by the testimony of witnesses upon oath examined, and, by his own confession, hath been found guilty of a strange, singular and superstitious way of dealing with his scholars, by persuading and causing some of them to subscribe as votaries to several articles framed by himself . . . These are to signify that I Bryan Duppa, Vice-chancellor of the university for the time being, duly weighing the quality of the fact and the ill consequences which might follow upon the insnaring of young and tender consciences with the religion of a vow, do order and decree that the said John Oxenbridge shall no longer be trusted with the tuition of any scholars, or suffered to read to them publicly or privately, or to receive any stipend or salary in that behalf.413
That sort of thing would have been as summarily suppressed in Massachusetts then as it would now, but a like sort of enforced auricular confession and personal obedience was not unknown among Puritans elsewhere, nor did this severe experience cure Oxenbridge of the disposition to exalt his personal authority as a clergyman to a degree that seems to us and seemed to our ancestors intolerable.
Mr. Savage says that Oxenbridge went to Bermuda that same year, but this is doubtless a mistake, though where and how he spent the next year does not appear, but his name is found in the list of the passengers “to be transported to the Bormoodes or Somer-Islands, imbarqued in the Truelove de London,” June 10, 1635, who “being examined by the Minister of Gravesend concerning their conformitie to the orders & discipline of the Church of England as it now stands established: and tooke the oath of Allegeance.”414 One wonders sometimes about that Gravesend minister.
There are almost no records remaining for the earlier years of Mr. Oxenbridge’s ministry in Bermuda. The first record of him, some eighteen months after he left England, is of “his purchase of a female negro slave called Lucra, aged 18, . . . of Hugh Wentworth, for 12l. sterling, and for a term of fourscore and nineteen years.”415 Her term of servitude, though not perpetual, would seem to have extended into the other world. Governor Lefroy’s account of Oxenbridge is derived chiefly from the correspondence of Richard Norwood in the Record Office, London, and from William Prynne’s second edition of A Fresh Discovery of some Prodigious New Wandering Biasing Stars and Firebrands styleing themselves New Lights,—Mr. Oxenbridge being one of the very bright wandering and blazing stars referred to. The Governor summarizes the matter thus:
His pledge of conformity to the order and discipline of the Church of England was broken very soon after his arrival in Bermuda, and he was one of the four ministers who left no stone unturned to set up the new order and new discipline, administered by themselves alone, which soon convulsed the little community. Richard Beake416 refers to him, and his wife especially, as “the first groundwork of this faction,” which was afterwards headed by Nathaniell White. He [Oxenbridge] returned to England about 1641 . . . to agitate and influence Parliament; thence he sent out the catechism called “Baby Milk,” which was at first instilled into youth alone, one day in the week for two hours at noon . . . but soon afterwards was forced with great vehemency . . . upon grown men and women, with a degree of spiritual arrogance which to the milder temper of our times is hardly conceivable.417
Just when William Golding or Goulding went to Bermuda does not appear, and nothing seems to be known of him before. He had been appointed to his cure in Bermuda probably early in 1638, which was long before the establishment of Independency there; which came about thus. On January 31, 1643–44, Mr. Oxenbridge not being present,—
Master Nathaniel White, Master Patrick Copeland, and Master William Golding did . . . at a fast day by them ordained and not commanded by any authority to be held, in the Pagetts Tribe,418 in the Summer Islands in the afternoon of the said day draw themselves together in the body of the said Church and did then and there publicly manifest and declare, that they . . . did lay down renounce and relinquish their Office of Ministry in the Church of England, acknowledging themselves to be but private men, yet so as they held themselves to be a church of themselves, and to that end had entered into a covenant among themselves and would be ready to receive into their covenant such as would submit thereunto.419
Though Mr. Oxenbridge was not present on this occasion, he had been very active in the things leading to it. There had been a series of conflicts between civil and ecclesiastical authority, some of them very queer. For example, it was testified so early as 1628 that a parson, one Grimes,420 threatened to refuse to preach to his congregation if the governor prevented him from having a vestry. One does not know whether to call this a threat of strike or interdict,—it was not the only time a like threat was made there. And there were times when the clergy not only sat as members of the Council,421 but seized on all sorts of power.
The schoolmaster Norwood, writing to the Governor and Company February 28, 1641–42, says:
Foure yeares past when I came hither, the times were dangerous in England, by reason of the many innovations in Religion brought in by the Bishops (the Lord be blessed for that happy reformation wch we heare and hope of) and at that time I was in danger my selfe to have bene called in question, wch occasioned me to move the honoble Company for this place.422
He complains that Governor Sayle has been “wholy guided” by the ministers,—
and executed what they have thought fittest. Whereby we have seene an experiment here of . . . the superiority or government of Ministers or an assembly of Ministers, esteeming the government to be theyrs who have the mayne sway in it. But wth what loftines, violence and severity (to say no more) and in what an arbitrary way they have proceeded, I suppose you will hear by the complaints of diverse.423
He says that of late they had compelled all persons, men and women, throughout the island to present themselves and be catechised one day in each week. Against their right to do this he, Mr. Norwood, had protested to the others severally in person, but had written to “Mr. Oxenbridge (the most eminent of them all),” and some correspondence followed which seems in my judgment to have been conducted on Mr. Norwood’s part with courtesy and good sense: but as a result the Governor sent the sheriff to summon the schoolmaster, as he says, “to make myne appearance at the house of Mr. Oxenbridge or Mr. Painter, and the day after the fast to answer such things [as] by the ministers should be objected against me . . . intending it as (as was conceived) a kind of synod.”424 Norwood refused to go, and appealed to the general assizes. This appeal the Governor allowed, to the great displeasure of the ministers. He goes on to tell of a man and wife “a very Christian man and woman indeed . . . who disliking this new forme of catechising went to their Minister Mr Golding privately, intreating him that they might be spared from that his weekly exercise. . . . Whereat Mr Golding was much displeased,”425 and had them boycotted. Matters went from bad to worse and Norwood threatened in the pulpit and out of it appealed to the new Governor for protection. According to him, writing in March, 1642–43: “Some say our Ministers are as supreme heads under Christ of their severall churches here, and not subordinate in these days Ecclesiastical to Parliament or any other power on earth whatsoever,”426 and he goes on to ask the minister thirty questions. One is “Whether they mean to continue that Lordly or Masterly practice of Universal catechising . . . and that all shall be tied to answer according to that Catechism of Mr Oxenbridges called Baby Milk, or some other.”427 Another is “Whether the minister and his officers will govern and censure the rest according to some laws, or in an Arbitrary way?”428
The next year, as we have seen, White, Golding, and Copeland, who had been theoretically more or less “conformable ministers of the church of England,” renounced their orders and established Independency. Golding, who was here on his way to England in 1646, returned to Bermuda to take part in the quarrels which became more and more confused and uninteresting. The four ministers divided two against two, taking sides for Independency and Presbyterianism. Our friend the schoolmaster Norwood at last joined the Independent party as being the less tyrannical.
Golding died in 1648; Oxenbridge, having been long in England, in 1651 sold off his land and slaves in Bermuda; in 1653 he became a member of the Bermuda Company, and Governor of the Company in 1655. In England he was settled at Beverley; became a fellow of Eton College; at the Restoration lost his fellowship429 and retired to Berwick-upon-Tweed. Being silenced by the Act of Uniformity he went to Surinam, and was there when the English were driven out by the Dutch and the Dutch in turn by the English. Then he returned to the West Indies and after a two years’ stay at Barbados came to Boston, Massachusetts, where he seems to have given way to none of the eccentricities of his earlier years. If he had we should know it, nor would he have remained with us.430
Mr. Bond, the last of the three clericals from Bermuda, did not arrive in the island until Golding had been long dead and Oxenbridge still longer gone. He went there January 12, 1662–63. Governor Lefroy says: “This turbulent minister fills a considerable space in the records.” Before that little seems to be known of him. We learn that “hee had bin active for the king against the Parliament in 1642.” Savage says he was an ejected minister from County Cumberland at the Restoration. To judge from what came after, his former life cannot have been a quiet one, but it may not on that account have been interesting. The part about which our information is abundant is chiefly filled with uninteresting broils. Governor Lefroy says “there are baptisms by him in Pembroke parish register from March 1, 1663, to October 6, 1666, and again at intervals from 1679 to 1690. Complaints against him are perpetual.”431 Between these dates he was here in Boston and about 1670 he was in Barbados, threatening to go to England and negotiating for a cure in New York. The Governor and Council of Bermuda wrote home about him, saying amongst other unpleasant things that they forwarded certain copies of the records—
that thereby yr honors may the better know him, and not giue credit to any of his language against vs or Mr Smith [another clergyman] till wee are heard to speak for ourselues If Mr Sampson Bond the p.son that said the Booke of Com̄on Prayer was a Mass Booke, or a company of packt praiers made vp by the pope and the words Godfather and Godmother be blasphemy or words to that effect [be heard] What condition shall yr servants here liue vnder if such practices are suffered vnder yr Gouernmt.432
Bond was, however, a good deal of a lawyer and contrived to get back to the scene of his activities in the island and there to be a source of annoyance to the authorities. Indeed, the ease and despatch with which the Massachusetts people got rid of him is in amusing contrast with the difficulty the West Indian authorities found in controlling his pernicious activities.
On behalf of Mr. Francis H. Lee, Mr. Edes communicated an Indenture of apprenticeship of James Taylor of Lynn and Boston, who was Treasurer of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay from 1693 to 1714.433 Mr. Edes spoke as follows:
Some extracts from this Indenture were made by the editors of Sewall’s Diary in an elaborate note (III. 95–97), but as a mistake was made in the transcription of one of the dates, as it reveals the name and English residence of Taylor’s father, and as it preserves a part of his family record not found elsewhere, it has seemed well to print this valuable document entire. It is written on parchment 9¾ × 8½ inches in size, and is in a good state of preservation, although the ink with which the vital records were subsequently made has faded badly in some places.
Sewall’s editors were in ignorance of the maiden names of Taylor’s two wives. Taylor’s second wife was Rebecca Clarke, a daughter of Captain Christopher Clarke of Boston, merchant, who was admitted a freeman in 1673, and frequently voyaged between England and New England.434 She was born in Boston 4 May, 1657,435 and bore the given name of her mother, who was admitted to the Church in Boston 25 December, 1647.436 Captain Clarke died intestate. In the agreement of his heirs as to the settlement of his estate, dated 7 November, 1693, it is stated that he “dec̄ed on or about the Tenth day of February now last past at Boston.” Among the heirs enumerated are “James Tailer of Boston aforesd. Merchant and Rebecca his wife one other of the Daughters of the sd Christopher Clarke dec̄ed.”437
While the search for the maiden name of Taylor’s first wife, Elizabeth, has not been successful, some new facts have been recently found which may lead to its discovery. In the will of James Taylor, his eldest and only son by his first wife, Captain Christopher Taylor, mariner, was cut off with a legacy of £50.438 He appears to have been the black sheep of the family and to have deserved ill at the hands of his father. Nevertheless, he appealed from the probate of the will in Essex to the Governor and Council, and prolonged litigation ensued, no less than three Private Acts of the General Court having been passed in the interest of the litigants.439 Captain Christopher Taylor’s will was made 18 March, 1732, and proved 25 June, 1734. He mentions his younger half-brother William,440 four of his sisters, his natural son Charles Taylor, and his servant Anne Bell, the mother of his child. He also names his “loving cozens Benjamin Landon, merchant, and John Procter, schoolmaster,” executors.441
Benjamin Landon of Boston, shopkeeper, made his will 21 October, 1731, and it was proved 17 January, 1746–47. It contains a bequest to his minister, the Rev. Elisha Callender, who was directed to pay out of it £10 “to my kinsman John Procter, son of John Procter, schoolmaster.”442 Landon was born in Boston 18 December, 1693, the son of David and Martha Landon,443 and died 8 January, 1746–47, in his fifty-third year.444 His wife, Rebecca Gridley, whom he married in Boston 28 April, 1719,445 died shortly after her husband, 23 January, 1746–47.446
John Procter, variously styled schoolmaster, minister, and gentleman,447 was born in Boston 29 December, 1703, the son of Richard and Rachel Procter.448 His father was in Boston as early as 1690 when he was admitted a freeman, and died 1 February, 1719–20,449 leaving a good estate including a brick house and land in Queen Street valued at £500, which was his homestead.450 John Procter married (1) Lydia, daughter of John Richards the younger of New London, Connecticut, by whom he had the son John, born in Boston 31 December, 1726,451 who, as we have seen, was mentioned in Benjamin Landon’s will as “my kinsman;” and (2) Lucretia, youngest daughter of John and Mary (Fosdick) Arnold of Boston and New London, who survived him.452 The Boston Town Records under date of 8 March, 1730–31, state that the Selectmen reported—
That they haue Indeavored to find a meet person for the Said [North Writing] School and Return mr John Procter as a meet Person for that place.
Voted the Said Report accepted And that the Selectmen Intraduce him into the Said place Accordingly.453
Procter was one of Prince’s subscribers. He also appears to have been an active and uncomfortable member of the First Baptist Church in Boston during the pastorate of the Rev. Elisha Callender, in whose flock were also numbered Richard Procter and Benjamin Landon.454 In 1743 John Procter was admonished and suspended from communion with the church, whereupon he organized a new society, which met at his schoolhouse in Scollay Square and became the Second Baptist Church.455 His death is thus announced in the Boston Weekly NewsLetter of Thursday, 27 January, 1757:
Last Thursday Morning died here, just entered in the 54th Year of his Age, Mr. John Procter, formerly Master of a public Writing School in this Town (p. 3/2).456
His will457 mentions, besides his mansion house and land in Back (now Salem) Street, his house and land next to Mr. Waldo in Queen Street. This he purchased, in 1734, from William Payne,458 whose first wife was Mary Taylor, eldest surviving daughter of James Taylor and only sister of the full blood of Captain Christopher Taylor. It is worthy of note that the Waldo estate was long owned by James Taylor, who bought it of Bozoun Allen in 1705, when in the tenure of Paul Dudley.459 It had a frontage of 106 feet on Queen (now Court) Street and to-day makes the northerly corner of Brattle Street. Taylor’s heirs sold it for £1,050 in 1723 to Jonathan Waldo, who in 1728 gave it to his son Samuel Waldo.460
It thus appears that Christopher Taylor, Benjamin Landon, and John Procter were closely related; that the Taylors and Procters owned adjoining estates in Queen Street; that the Landons and Procters were members of the First Baptist Church; and that diligent inquiry has thus far failed to discover the maiden name of the mother of either of these three cousins. To have been cousins, according to the present use of the word, implies a common grandparent; and as all the brothers and sisters of Christopher Taylor, of the half blood as well as of the full blood, and their children are fully accounted for in various legal proceedings involving inheritance, it seems impossible that he could have used the term in the sense of nephew or niece, a practice not uncommon in the eighteenth century. Later investigations may reveal the maiden name of Christopher Taylor’s mother. The present search was undertaken in the hope of adding something to the little that is known about the family of the Province Treasurer, who appears to have been an estimable, enterprising, and successful private citizen, and a faithful public servant for a quarter of a century. The text of the Indenture follows.
This Indenture Witnesseth That James Taylor son of Christopher Taylor Citizen and Leatherseller of London hath put himselfe Apꝑn̄tice unto John Cole of Ratcliffe in the County of Mariner to learne the arte of Navigation which he the said John Cole now useth and with him after the manner of an Apꝑn̄tice to dwell and serve from the Twenty ffowerth day of June last past before the date of this ꝑrsent Indenture unto the end and terme of Six yeares from thence next ensueing and fully to be compleat and ended dureing which terme the said Apꝑn̄tice his said Mar: well and faithfully shall serve, his secretts keepe, his comandemts lawfull and honest every where gladly shall doe,—Hurt or damage to his said Mar: he shall not doe, nor of others know to be done, but he to his power shall lett it or forthwith give his said Mar: knowledge thereof, the goods of his said Mar: he shall not inordinately waste nor them to any unlawfully lend, fornication he shall not comitt. matrimony he shall not Contract, at Cards dice or any other unlawfull games whereby his said Mar: may receive any loss he shall not play, Taverns or Alehouses of custome he shall not frequent with his owne goods or any others dureing the said Terme without the Consent of his said Mar: he shall neither buy nor sell But in all things as a good and faithfull Apꝑn̄tice ought to doe shall gently use and behave himselfe towards his said Mear: and all his during the said terme And the said John Cole the said James Taylor his Apꝑn̄tice in the Arte aforesaid which he the said John Cole now useth after the best manner he can or doth know shall teach and instruct or cause to be taught or instructed ffindeing provideing and alloweing unto and for the said Apꝑn̄tice Competent and sufficient meat drinke washing and Lodgeing meet and decent for an Apꝑn̄tice of the same Arte dureing the said terme And to the performancē of all and singular the Covenants and agreements aforesaid Either of the said parties bindeth himselfe to the other firmely by theis ꝑn̄ts In witness where of the parties aforesaid to theis ꝑrsent Indenture interchangeably have put their hands and seales Dated the Eleaventh day of July Anno Dn̄i 1664 And in the Sixteenth yeare of the reigne of our Sovereigne Lord Charles (the Second) by the grace of God king of England Scotland ffrannce and Ireland defendor: of the faith &c
Sealed & delieūd in ye ꝑnce of
Jno Houghton sert
John Austin his servt
married ye 28
on a Thursday
my daughter died the
24th October 1674 in ye
morning at 9 o’Clock
My Daughter Mary Taylor was
Borne the 25th of January 1675
My son Christopher Taylor was Borne ye 16th Decembr 1677
I was married to my second wife
Rebecca ye 26th Januarie 1679
being a Munday
Taylor was Borne ye 18th
October 1681 born ye Tuesday
at ½ hour past 3 in ye after
My son James Taylor was
Borne ye 31st Decembr 1683 about 5 or 6 in ye morning
My Daughtr Elizabeth Taylor was
on wensday Borne ye 16th Decembr 1685 about
10: in the morning &462
My Son Samuel Taylor was Borne ye 5th Decembr
1687 at about 7. of ye Clock in ye morning on a munday463