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very remote from all the churches of Christ in the Massachusetts Government, upon the river of Conectico, yet under their government, he having some godly persons resorting unto him, they erected a town and church of Christ, calling it Springfield; it lying on this large navigable river, hath the benefit of transporting their goods by water, and also fitly seated for a bever trade with the Indians, till the merchants increased so many, that it became little worth by reason of their outbuying one another, which caused them to live upon husbandry. This town is mostly built along the river side and upon some little rivulets of the same. There hath of late been more than one or two in this town greatly suspected of witchery.” Here we have the pious and shrewd motives of the early settlers, the initiation of free trade and their primitive political economy, and superstition quaintly hinted. How .curious to compare the picture of that little town and church very remote
from others in the colony, the trade with the Indians," and the destructive rivalry thereinthe lonely river in the midst of the wilderness, and the godly pioneer who came there “ to better his estate,” and the “ picions of witchery "_with the populous, bustling scene of railway travel, manufactures, horse fairs, churches, schools, trade, and rural prosperity, now daily familiar to hundreds of travellers.
It is remarkable how some of these obsolete records link themselves with the interests and the questions of the passing hour. What more appropriate commentary, for instance, upon the provincial egotism of Virginia, can be imagined than the statement of Childs, a man of authority in his day, in England, that while some cavaliers found refuge there, many of the colonists were outcasts, and their emigration the alternative for imprisonment or penal exile ?
One of the most suggestive and authentic records whence we derive a true idea of the social tendencies and the natural phenomena amid which the American character was bred in the Eastern States is the journal of John Winthrop. Its very monotony reflects the severe routine of life then and there;
religion enters into and modifies domestic retirement and individual impulse; the rigors of unsubdued nature in a northern climate are painfully manifest: we learn how isolation, strict oversight, and ecclesiastical rule, the necessity of labor and the alternations of extreme temperature disciplined and dwarfed, purified and hardened, elevated and narrowed the associations and instincts of humanity. What a vivid glimpse of life two hundred years ago in New England do the brief notes of the first Governor of Massachusetts afford us, and how easy thence to deduce the characteristics and the history of those remarkable communities, explain their peculiarities, and justify their tenacious traits ! Take a few random extracts by way of illustration : Nov. 15, 1637.-A day of thanksgiving for the victory obtained over
the Pequods. Mar. 7, 1638.—Mrs. Hutchenson, being removed to the Isle of Aquid
ney, was delivered of a monstrous birth: Mr. Cotton hereupon gathered it might signify her error in denying inherent righteous
A woman was judged to be whipped for reproaching the magistrates. Mar. 1, 1638.-A printing house was begun at Cambridge by one Daye.
charged with taking above sixpence in the shilling profit. Mar. 10, 1639.—At the General Court an order was made to abolish
that vain custom of drinking one to another. In this winter, in a close calm day, there fell down diverse flakes of
snow of this form *, very thin, and exactly pointed as art would
have cut them in paper. Sep. 20, 1630.- The wolves killed six calves at Salem. May 13, 1632.—The French came in a pinnace to Penobscott and
rifled a trucking house belonging to Plimouth, carrying away
three hundred weight of beaver. Nov. 5.—The congregation at Watertown discharged elder for
intemperance in speech. Jan. 17.--A servant of Mr. Skelton lost her way, and was several
days in the woods, and half frozen. June 1, 1633.--A Scotchman by prayer and fasting dispossessed one
possessed of the devil.
Droughts, freshets, meteors, intense cold and heat, terrific storms, calm beautiful days, conflagrations, epidemics, Indian massacres, alternate in the record with constant church trials, reprimands and controversies, public whippings and memorable sermons, occasional and long-desired arrivals from Eng. land, the establishment of a college and printing press, local emigrations and perilous adventure ; wherein bigotry and the highest fortitude, superstitions and acute logic, privation and cheerful toil, social despotism and individual rectitude indicate a rare and rigid school of life and national development.
Among the first colonial tributes of the muse descriptive of the New World was “New England's Prospect," a true, living, and experimental description of that part of America commonly called New England, by William Wood. It was published in London in 1635. The author lived four years in the region he pictures, and states in the preface to his metrical tract: his intention to return there. He gives a rhymed account of the colony's situation, and dilates upon the habits of the aborigines. The scene of the poem is Boston and its vicinity, and the versified catalogue of indigenous trees is interesting, as probably the first record of the kind. 66 Cheerful William Wood” tells us, in delineating the country along the Merrimack, that
Trees both in hills and plains in plenty be,
The water-springie alder, good for nought,” &c., &c. A more elaborate attempt at a primitive natural history of the same region is “ New England's Rarities Discorered,” by John Josselyn, published in 1672. The first explorer of the Alleghanies, John Lederer, wrote in Latin an account of " Three several Marches from Virginia to the West of Carolina and other parts of the Continent, begone in March, 1669, and ended in September, 1670." Sir William Talbot made and published an English translation in 1672. The Westover Manuscripts, published by Edmund Ruffin, of Virginia, in 1841, describe expeditions conducted by William Byrd, in 1728, wherein much curious information of Southern life, resources, and manners, at that period, is given.
Governor Bradford, who succeeded Carver as chief magistrate of the Plymouth Colony, left also a poetical description of New England—which, though a fragment, is a singular literary relic of those days—the aspect of the country and
spirit of the Pilgrims.” But a better known and more copious as well as quaint memorial of colonial life in the old Bay State, and one which Hawthorne has evidently pondered to advantage, is to be found in the theories of Cotton Mather, illustrated as they are by the facts of his career and the incidental local and personal details of the “Magnalia:" although it appeared in London printed in folio in 1702, not until 1820 was it republished in America. Odd, credulous, learned, speculative, narrow, and anecdotical, this and his other books reflect the times and country.
There lived in Medford, Mass., more than a century ago, a clergyman's daughter and wife, Jane Turrel, who wrote graceful and feeling verses, some of which have been preserved as early specimens of the New England muse. In one of her pieces, called “ An Invitation to the Country,” she enumerates the fruits and other delicacies with which she
proposes to regale the expected guest; and we learn therefrom that one indigenous product of the woods, now only found at a distance from the scene, was then a familiar luxury:
The blushing peach and glossy plum there lies,
A class of publications, which belong neither to the department of travels nor memoirs, but which contain many important and specific facts and comments in regard to the original aspect, resources, and character of the country, while yet a colonial territory, remains to be noticed. These are the various publications descriptive, statistical, and controversial, which motives of interest and curiosity elicited from the early emigrants, agents, and official representatives of the different colonies. They are chiefly in the form of tracts: many of them crude and quaint in style, inadequate and desultory; some obviously inspired by the hope of alluring emigration; others suggested by a spirit of rivalry between the different settlements; some are honestly descriptive, others absurdly exaggerated; the theological and political questions of the day, whether local or administrative, gave birth to countless writings; most of them are curious, some valuable from their details and authenticity, and others as unique illustrations of history and manners : passages might be gleaned from not a few of these ancient brochures, which would favorably compare with more elaborate works written by educated travellers in America. The greater part of these now rare and costly literary relics of our country at the dawn of and immediately subsequent to its civilization, refer to Virginia and New England; next in number are those devoted to Florida ; the tracts which discuss and describe the Carolinas, Maryland, and Pennsylvania being comparatively few; while those that refer to Canada are multifarious. These primitive records of colonization often yield invaluable hints to the philosopher and historian ; although a vast proportion of them have lost their significance, and are more attractive to the bibliopole and the antiquarian than the general reader. In the form of letters, appeals, protests, advertisements, picturesque or economical narratives, such incidental records not unfrequently conserve an incident, a law, a fact of nature or government, of natural, political, or social history, that has a permanent interest. Buckminster early called attention to the importance of preserving every publication relating to America, however apparently, trivial, as a resource for historians; and societies and individuals have since emulated each other in the purchase and collection of these scattered data.*
As early as 1547 there was printed an account of the
* One of the most remarkable private collections is that of John Carter Brown, of Providence, R. I., whose library contains over five thousand publications relating to America, all of a date anterior to 1800, bound, lettered, and classified in the most convenient manner.