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Title: Customs and Fashions in Old New England
Author: Earle, Alice Morse, 1851-1911
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Customs and Fashions in Old New England" ***

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    "Let us thank God for having given us such ancestors; and let
    each successive generation thank him not less fervently, for
    being one step further from them in the march of ages."


    COPYRIGHT, 1893 BY



    75 Illustrations. Square 8vo, $3.00.

    12mo, $1.25.

    To the Memory of my Father



     I. CHILD LIFE,                              1


   III. DOMESTIC SERVICE,                       82

    IV. HOME INTERIORS,                        107

     V. TABLE PLENISHINGS,                     132

    VI. SUPPLIES OF THE LARDER,                146



    IX. HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS,                214

     X. SPORTS AND DIVERSIONS,                 234

    XI. BOOKS AND BOOK-MAKERS,                 257


  XIII. RAIMENT AND VESTURE,                   314

   XIV. DOCTORS AND PATIENTS,                  331

    XV. FUNERAL AND BURIAL CUSTOMS,            364



From the hour when the Puritan baby opened his eyes in bleak New England
he had a Spartan struggle for life. In summer-time he fared
comparatively well, but in winter the ill-heated houses of the colonists
gave to him a most chilling and benumbing welcome. Within the great open
fireplace, when fairly scorched in the face by the glowing flames of the
roaring wood fire, he might be bathed and dressed, and he might be
cuddled and nursed in warmth and comfort; but all his baby hours could
not be spent in the ingleside, and were he carried four feet away from
the chimney on a raw winter's day he found in his new home a temperature
that would make a modern infant scream with indignant discomfort, or lie
stupefied with cold.

Nor was he permitted even in the first dismal days of his life to stay
peacefully within-doors. On the Sunday following his birth he was
carried to the meeting-house to be baptized. When we consider the chill
and gloom of those unheated, freezing churches, growing colder and
damper and deadlier with every wintry blast--we wonder that grown
persons even could bear the exposure. Still more do we marvel that
tender babes ever lived through their cruel winter christenings when it
is recorded that the ice had to be broken in the christening bowl. In
villages and towns where the houses were all clustered around the
meeting-house the baby Puritans did not have to be carried far to be
baptized; but in country parishes, where the dwelling-houses were widely
scattered, it might be truthfully recorded of many a chrisom-child:
"Died of being baptized." One cruel parson believed in and practised
infant immersion, fairly a Puritan torture, until his own child nearly
lost its life thereby.

Dressed in fine linen and wrapped in a hand-woven christening blanket--a
"bearing-cloth"--the unfortunate young Puritan was carried to church in
the arms of the midwife, who was a person of vast importance and dignity
as well as of service in early colonial days, when families of from
fifteen to twenty children were quite the common quota. At the altar the
baby was placed in his proud father's arms, and received his first cold
and disheartening reception into the Puritan Church. In the pages of
Judge Samuel Sewall's diary, to which alone we can turn for any definite
or extended contemporary picture of colonial life in Puritan New
England, as for knowledge of England of that date we turn to the diaries
of Evelyn and Pepys, we find abundant proof that inclemency of weather
was little heeded when religious customs and duties were in question.
On January 22d, 1694, Judge Sewall thus records:

     "A very extraordinary Storm by reason of the falling and driving of
     the Snow. Few women could get to Meeting. A child named Alexander
     was baptized in the afternoon."

He does not record Alexander's death in sequence. He writes thus of the
baptism of a four days' old child of his own on February 6th, 1656:

     "Between 3 & 4 P.M. Mr. Willard baptizeth my Son whom I named
     Stephen. Day was louring after the storm but not freezing. Child
     shrank at the water but Cry'd not. His brother Sam shew'd the
     Midwife who carried him the way to the Pew. I held him up."

And still again on April 8th, 1677, of another of his children when but
six days old:

     "Sabbath day, rainy and stormy in the morning but in the afternoon
     fair and sunshine though with a Blustering Wind. So Eliz. Weeden
     the Midwife brought the Infant to the Third Church when Sermon was
     about half done in the Afternoon."

Poor little Stephen and Hull and Joseph, shrinking away from the icy
water, but too benumbed to cry! Small wonder that they quickly yielded
up their souls after the short struggle for life so gloomily and so
coldly begun. Of Judge Sewall's fourteen children but three survived
him, a majority dying in infancy; and of fifteen children of his friend
Cotton Mather but two survived their father.

This religious ordeal was but the initial step in the rigid system of
selection enforced by every detail of the manner of life in early New
England. The mortality among infants was appallingly large; and the
natural result--the survival of the fittest--may account for the present
tough endurance of the New England people.

Nor was the christening day the only Lord's Day when the baby graced the
meeting-house. Puritan mothers were all church lovers and strict
church-goers, and all the members of the household were equally
church-attending; and if the mother went to meeting the baby had to go
also. I have heard of a little wooden cage or frame in the meeting-house
to hold Puritan babies who were too young, or feeble, or sleepy to sit

Of the dress of these Puritan infants we know but little. Linen formed
the chilling substructure of their attire--little, thin, linen,
short-sleeved, low-necked shirts. Some of them have been preserved, and
with their tiny rows of hemstitching and drawn work and the narrow edges
of thread-lace are pretty and dainty even at the present day. At the
rooms of the Essex Institute in Salem may be seen the shirt and mittens
of Governor Bradford's infancy. The ends of the stiff, little, linen
mittens have evidently been worn off by the active friction of baby
fingers and then been replaced by patches of red and white cheney or
calico. The gowns are generally rather shapeless, large-necked sacks of
linen or dimity, made and embroidered, of course, entirely by hand, and
drawn into shape by narrow, cotton ferret or linen bobbin. In summer and
winter the baby's head was always closely covered with a cap, or
"biggin" often warmly wadded, which was more comforting in winter than
comfortable in summer.

The seventeenth century baby slept, as does his nineteenth century
descendant, in a cradle, frequently made of heavy panelled or carved
wood, and always deeply hooded to protect him from the constant drafts.
Twins had cradles with hoods at both ends. Judge Sewall paid sixteen
shillings for a wicker cradle for one of his many children. The baby was
carried upstairs, when first moved, with silver and gold in his hand to
bring him wealth and cause him always to rise in the world, just as
babies are carried upstairs by superstitious nurses nowadays, and he had
"scarlet laid on his head to keep him from harm." He was dosed with
various nostrums that held full sway in the nursery even until Federal
days, "Daffy's Elixir" being perhaps the most widely known, and hence
the most widely harmful. It was valuable enough (in one sense of the
word) to be sharply fought over in old England in Queen Anne's time, and
to have its disputed ownership the cause of many lawsuits.
Advertisements of it frequently appear in the _Boston News Letter_ and
other New England newspapers of early date.

The most common and largely dosed diseases of early infancy were, I
judge from contemporary records, to use the plain terms of the times,
worms, rickets, and fits. Curiously enough, Sir Thomas Browne, in the
latter part of the seventeenth century, wrote of the rickets as a new
disease, scarce so old as to afford good observation, and wondered
whether it existed in the American plantations. In old medical books
which were used by the New England colonists I find manifold receipts
for the cure of these infantile diseases. Snails form the basis, or
rather the chief ingredient, of many of these medicines. Indeed, I
should fancy that snails must have been almost exterminated in the near
vicinity of towns, so largely were they sought for and employed
medicinally. There are several receipts for making snail-water, or
snail-pottage; here is one of the most pleasing ones:

     "The admirable and most famous Snail water.--Take a peck of garden
     Shel Snails, wash them well in Small Beer, and put them in an oven
     till they have done making a Noise, then take them out and wipe
     them well from the green froth that is upon them, and bruise them
     shels and all in a Stone Mortar, then take a Quart of Earthworms,
     scowre them with salt, slit them, and wash well with water from
     their filth, and in a stone Mortar beat them in pieces, then lay in
     the bottom of your distilled pot Angelica two handfuls, and two
     handfuls of Celandine upon them, to which put two quarts of
     Rosemary flowers, Bearsfoot, Agrimony, red Dock roots, Bark of
     Barberries, Betony wood Sorrel of each two handfuls, Rue one
     handful; then lay the Snails and Worms on top of the hearbs and
     flowers, then pour on three Gallons of the Strongest Ale, and let
     it stand all night, in the morning put in three ounces of Cloves
     beaten, sixpennyworth of beaten Saffron, and on the top of them six
     ounces of shaved Hartshorne, then set on the Limbeck, and close it
     with paste and so receive the water by pintes, which will be nine
     in all, the first is the strongest, whereof take in the morning two
     spoonfuls in four spoonfuls of small Beer, the like in the

Truly, the poor rickety child deserved to be cured. Snails also were
used externally:

     "To anoint the Ricketed Childs Limbs and to recover it in a short
     time, though the child be so lame as to go upon crutches:

     "Take a peck of Garden Snailes and bruse them, put them into a
     course Canvass bagg, and hang it up, and set a dish under to
     receive the liquor that droppeth from them, wherewith anoint the
     Childe in every Joynt which you perceive to be weak before the fire
     every morning and evening. This I have known make a Patient Childe
     that was extream weak to go alone using it only a week time."

There were also "unguents to anoynt the Ricketted Childs breast," and
various drinks to be given "to the patient childe fasting," as they
termed him in what appears to us a half-comic, though wholly truthful

For worms and fits there were some frightful doses of senna and rhubarb
and snails, with a slight redeeming admixture of prunes; and as for
"Collick" and "Stomack-Ach," I feel sure every respectable Puritan
patient child died rather than swallow the disgusting and nauseous
compounds that were offered to him for his relief.

Puritan babies also wore medical ornaments, "anodyne necklaces." I find
them advertised in the _Boston Evening Post_ as late as 1771--"Anodine
Necklaces for the Easy breeding of Childrens Teeth," worn as nowadays
children wear strings of amber beads to avert croup.

Another medicine "to make children's teeth come without paine" was this:
"Take the head of a Hare boyled a walm or two or roahed; and with the
braine thereof mingle Honey and butter and therewith anoynt the Childes
gums as often as you please." Still further advice was to scratch the
child's gums with an osprey bone, or to hang fawn's teeth or wolf's
fangs around his neck--an ugly necklace.

The first scene of gayety upon which the chilled baby opened his sad
eyes was when his mother was taken from her great bed and "laid on a
pallat," and the heavy curtains and valances of harrateen or serge were
hung within and freshened with "curteyns and vallants of cheney or
calico." Then, or a day or two later, the midwife, the nurses, and all
the neighboring women who had helped with advice or work in the
household during the first week or two of the child's life, were bidden
to a dinner. This was also a French fashion, as "_Les Caquets de
l'Accouchée_," the popular book of the time of Louis XIII., proves.

Doubtless at this New England amphidromia the "groaning beer" was drunk,
though Sewall "brewed my Wives Groaning Beer" two months before the
child was born. By tradition, "groaning cake," to be used at the time of
the birth of the child, and given to visitors for a week or two later,
also was made; but I find no allusion to it under that name in any of
the diaries of the times. At this women's dinner good substantial viands
were served. "Women din'd with rost Beef and minc'd Pyes, good Cheese
and Tarts." When another Sewall baby was scarcely two weeks old,
seventeen women were dined at Judge Sewall's on equally solid meats,
"Boil'd Pork, Beef, Fowls, very good Rost Beef, Turkey, Pye and Tarts."
Madam Downing gave her women "plenty of sack and claret." A survival of
this custom existed for many years in the fashion of drinking caudle at
the bedside of the mother.

As might be expected of a man who diverted himself in attending the
dissection of an Indian, which gruesome gayety exhilarated him into
spending a tidy sum--for him--on drinks and feeing "the maid;" and in
visiting his family tomb; and who, when he took his wife on a pleasure
trip to Dorchester "to eat cherries and rasberries," spent his entire
day within-doors reading that cheerful book, Calvin on Psalms;--in the
house of such a pleasure-seeker but small provision was made for the
entertainment or amusement of his children. They were sometimes led
solemnly to the house of some old, influential, or pious person, who
formally gave them his blessing. He took them also to some of the
funerals of the endless procession of dead Bostonians that files
sombrely through the pages of his diary, to the funeral of their baby
brother, little Stephen Sewall, when "Sam and his sisters (who were
about five and six years old) cryed much coming home and at home, so
that I could hardly quiet them. It seems they looked into Tomb, and Sam
said he saw a great Coffin there, his Grandfathers." These were not the
only tears that Sam and Betty and Hannah shed through fear of death.
When Betty was a year older her father wrote:

     "It falls to my daughter Elizabeths Share to read the 24 of Isaiah
     which she doth with many Tears not being very well, and the
     Contents of the Chapter and Sympathy with her draw Tears from me

Two days later, Sam, who was then about ten years old, also showed
evidence of the dejection of soul around him.

     "Richard Dumer, a flourishing youth of 9 years old dies of the
     Small Pocks. I tell Sam of it and what need he had to prepare for
     Death, and therefore to endeavor really to pray, when he said over
     the Lord's Prayer: He seemed not much to mind, eating an Aple; but
     when he came to say Our Father he burst out into a bitter Cry and
     said he was afraid he should die. I pray'd with him and read
     Scriptures comforting against Death, as O death where is thy sting,
     &c. All things yours. Life and Immortality brought to light by

In January, 1695, Judge Sewall writes:

     "When I came in, past 7 at night, my wife met me in the Entry and
     told me Betty had surprised them. I was surprised with the
     Abruptness of the Relation. It seems Betty Sewall had given some
     signs of dejection and sorrow; but a little while after dinner she
     burst out into an amazing cry, which caus'd all the family to cry
     too; Her Mother ask'd the reason, she gave none; at last said she
     was afraid she should goe to Hell, her Sins were not pardon'd. She
     was first wounded by my reading a sermon of Mr. Norton's Text, Ye
     shall seek me and shall not find me. And those words in the sermon,
     Ye shall seek me and die in your Sins ran in her mind and terrified
     her greatly. And staying at home she read out of Mr. Cotton
     Mather--Why hath Satan filled thy Heart, which increased her Fear.
     Her Mother asked her whether she pray'd. She answered yes but
     fear'd her prayers were not heard because her sins were not

A fortnight later he writes:

     "Betty comes into me as soon as I was up and tells me the disquiet
     she had when wak'd; told me she was afraid she should go to Hell,
     was like Spira, not Elected. Ask'd her what I should pray for, she
     said that God would pardon her Sin and give her a new heart. I
     answer'd her Fears as well as I could and pray'd with many Tears on
     either part. Hope God heard us."

Three months later still he makes this entry:

     "Betty can hardly read her chapter for weeping, tells me she is
     afraid she is gon back, does not taste that sweetness in reading
     the Word which once she did; fears that what was once upon her is
     worn off. I said what I could to her and in the evening pray'd with
     her alone."

Poor little "wounded" Betty! She did not die in childhood as she feared,
but lived to pass through many gloomy hours of morbid introspection and
of overwhelming fear of death, to marry and become the mother of eight
children; but was always buffeted with fears and tormented with doubts,
which she despairingly communicated to her solemn and far from
comforting father; and at last she faced the dread foe Death at the age
of thirty-five. Judge Sewall wrote sadly the day of her funeral: "I hope
God has delivered her now from all her fears;" every one reading of her
bewildered and depressed spiritual life must sincerely hope so with him.
In truth, the Puritan children were, as Judge Sewall said, "stirred up
dreadfully to seek God."

Here is the way that one of Sewall's neighbors taught his little
daughter when she was four years old:

     "I took my little daughter Katy into my Study and there I told my
     child That I am to Dy Shortly and Shee must, when I am Dead,
     Remember every Thing, that I now said unto her. I sett before her
     the sinful condition of her Nature and I charged her to pray in
     secret places every day. That God for the sake of Jesus Christ
     would give her a New Heart. I gave her to understand that when I am
     taken from her she must look to meet with more Humbling
     Afflictions than she does now she has a Tender Father to provide
     for her."

I hardly understand why Cotton Mather, who was really very gentle to his
children, should have taken upon himself to trouble this tender little
blossom with dread of his death. He lived thirty years longer, and,
indeed, survived sinful little Katy. Another child of his died when two
years and seven months old, and made a most edifying end in prayer and
praise. His pious and incessant teachings did not, however, prove wholly
satisfactory in their results, especially as shown in the career of his
son Increase, or "Cressy."

No age appeared to be too young for these remarkable exhibitions of
religious feeling. Phebe Bartlett was barely four years old when she
passed through her amazing ordeal of conversion, a painful example of
religious precocity. The "pious and ingenious Jane Turell" could relate
many stories out of the Scriptures before she was two years old, and was
set upon a table "to show off," in quite the modern fashion. "Before she
was four years old she could say the greater part of the Assembly's
Catechism, many of the Psalms, read distinctly, and make pertinent
remarks on many things she read. She asked many astonishing questions
about divine mysteries." It is a truly comic anticlimax in her father's
stilted letters to her to have him end his pious instructions with this
advice: "And as you love me do not eat green apples."

Of the demeanor of children to their parents naught can be said but
praise. Respectful in word and deed, every letter, every record shows
that the young Puritans truly honored their fathers and mothers. It were
well for them to thus obey the law of God, for by the law of the land
high-handed disobedience of parents was punishable by death. I do not
find this penalty ever was paid, as it was under the sway of grim
Calvin, a fact which redounds to the credit both of justice and youth in
colonial days.

It was not strange that Judge Sewall, always finding in natural events
and appearances symbols of spiritual and religious signification, should
find in his children painful types of original sin.

     "Nov. 6, 1692.--Joseph threw a knop of Brass and hit his Sister
     Betty on the forehead so as to make it bleed; and upon which, and
     for his playing at Prayer-time and eating when Return Thanks, I
     whip'd him pretty smartly. When I first went in (call'd by his
     Grandmother) he sought to shadow and hide himself from me behind
     the head of the Cradle; which gave me the sorrowful remembrance of
     Adam's carriage."

It was natural, too, that Judge Sewall's children should be timid; they
ran in terror to their father's chamber at the approach of a
thunderstorm; and, living in mysterious witchcraft days, they fled
screaming through the hall, and their mother with them, at the sudden
entrance of a neighbor with a rug over her head.

All youthful Puritans were not as godly as the young Sewalls. Nathaniel
Mather wrote thus in his diary:

     "When very young I went astray from God and my mind was altogether
     taken with vanities and follies: such as the remembrance of them
     doth greatly abase my soul within me. Of the manifold sins which
     then I was guilty of, none so sticks upon me as that, being very
     young, I was _whitling_ on the Sabbath-day; and for fear of being
     seen, I did it behind the _door_. A great _reproach_ of God! a
     specimen of that _atheism_ I brought into the world with me!"

It is satisfactory to add that this young prig of a Mather died when
nineteen years of age. Except in Jonathan Edwards's "Narratives of
Surprising Conversions," no more painful examples of the Puritanical
religious teaching of the young can be found than the account given in
the _Magnalia_ of various young souls in whom the love of God was
remarkably budding, especially this same unwholesome Nathaniel Mather.
His diary redounded in dismal groans and self-abasement: he wrote out in
detail his covenants with God. He laid out his minute rules and
directions in his various religious duties. He lived in prayer thrice a
day, and "did not slubber over his prayers with hasty amputations, but
wrestled in them for a good part of an hour." He prayed in his sleep. He
fasted. He made long lists of sins, long catalogues of things forbidden,
"and then fell a-stoning them." He "chewed much on excellent sermons."
He not only read the Bible, but "obliged himself to fetch a note and
prayer out of each verse," as he read. In spite of all these
preparations for a joyous hope and faith, he lived in the deepest
despair; was full of blasphemous imaginations, horrible conceptions of
God, was dejected, self-loathing, and wretched. Indeed, as Lowell said,
soul-saving was to such a Christian the dreariest, not the cheerfullest
of businesses.

That the welfare, if not the pleasure, of their children lay very close
to the hearts of the Pilgrims, we cannot doubt. Governor Bradford left
an account of the motives for the emigration from Holland to the new
world, and in a few sentences therein he gives one of the deepest
reasons of all--the intense yearning for the true well-being of the
children; we can read between the lines the stern and silent love of
those noble men, love seldom expressed but ever present, and the rigid
sense of duty, duty to be fulfilled as well as exacted. Bradford wrote
thus of the Pilgrims:

     "As necessitie was a taskmaster over them, so they were forced to
     be such, not only to their servants, but in a sorte, to their
     dearest children; the which, as it did not a little wound ye tender
     harts of many a loving father and mother, so it produced likewise
     sundrie sad and sorrowful effects. For many of their children, that
     were of best dispositions and gracious inclinations, haveing lernde
     to bear ye yoake in their youth, and willing to bear parte of their
     parents burden, were, often times so oppressed with their hevie
     labours, that though their minds were free and willing, yet their
     bodies bowed under ye weight of ye same, and become decreped in
     their early youth; the vigor of nature being consumed in ye very
     budd as it were. But that which was more lamentable and of all
     sorrowes most heavie to be borne, was, that many of their children,
     by these occasions, and ye great licentiousness of youth in ye
     countrie, and ye manifold temptations of the place, were drawn away
     by evill examples into extravagante and dangerous courses, getting
     ye raines off their neks and departing from their parents. Some
     became souldiers, others took upon them for viages by sea, and
     other some worse courses, tending to disolutenes and the danger of
     their soules, to ye great greef of their parents and dishonor of
     God. So that they saw their posteritie would be in danger to
     degenerate and be corrupted."

Though Judge Sewall could control and restrain his children, his power
waxed weak over his backsliding and pleasure-seeking grandchildren, and
they annoyed him sorely. Sam Hirst, the son of poor timid Betty, lived
with his grandfather for a time, and on April 1st, 1719, the Judge

     "In the morning I dehorted Sam Hirst and Grindall Rawson from
     playing Idle tricks because 'twas first of April: They were the
     greatest fools that did so. N. E. Men came hither to avoid
     anniversary days, the keeping of them such as the 25th of Decr. How
     displeasing must it be to God the giver of our Time to keep
     anniversary days to play the fool with ourselves and others."

Ten years earlier the Judge had written to the Boston schoolmaster,
begging him to "insinuate into the Scholars the Defiling and Provoking
nature of such a Foolish Practice" as playing tricks on April first.

Sam was but a sad losel, and vexed him in other and more serious
matters. On March 15th, 1725, the Judge wrote:

     "Sam Hirst got up betime in the morning, and took Ben Swett with
     him and went into the Comon to play Wicket. Went before anybody was
     up, left the door open: Sam came not to prayer at which I was much

Two days later he writes thus peremptorily of his grandson:

     "Did the like again, but took not Ben with him. I told him he could
     not lodge here practicing thus. So he log'd elsewhere."

Though Boston boys played "wicket" on Boston Common, I fancy the young
Puritans had, as a rule, few games, and were allowed few amusements.
They apparently brought over some English pastimes with them, for in
1657 it was found necessary to pass this law in Boston:

     "Forasmuch as sundry complaints are made that several persons have
     received hurt by boys and young men playing at football in the
     streets, these therefore are to enjoin that none be found at that
     game in any of the streets, lanes or enclosures of this town under
     the penalty of twenty shillings for every such offence."

One needless piece of cruelty which was exercised toward boys by Puritan
lawgivers is shown by one of the enjoined duties of the tithingman. He
was ordered to keep all boys from swimming in the water. I do not doubt
that the boys swam, since each tithingman had ten families under his
charge; but of course they could not swim as often nor as long as they
wished. From the brother sport of winter, skating, they were not
debarred; and they went on thin ice, and fell through and were drowned,
just as country boys are nowadays. Judge Sewall wrote on November 30th,

     "Many scholars go in the afternoon to Scate on Fresh Pond. Wm.
     Maxwell and John Eyre fall in, are drowned."

In the _New England Weekly Journal_ of January 15th, 1728, we read:

     "On Monday last Two Young Persons who were Brothers, viz Mr. George
     and Nathan Howell diverting themselves by Skating at the bottom of
     the Common, the Ice breaking under them they were both drowned;"

and in the same journal of two weeks later date we find record of
another death by drowning.

     "A young man, viz, Mr. Comfort Foster, skating on the ice from
     Squantum Point to Dorchester, fell into the Water & was drown'd. He
     was about 16 or 18 years of age."

Advertisements of "Mens and Boys Scates" appear in the _Boston Gazette_,
of 1749, and the _Boston Evening Post_, of 1758. The February _News
Letter_, of 1769, has a notice of the sale of "Best Holland Scates of
Different Sizes."

In the list of goods on board a prize taken by a privateersman in 1712
were "Boxes of Toys." Higginson, writing to his brother in 1695, told
him that "toys would sell if in small quantity." In exceeding small
quantity one would fancy. In 1743 the _Boston News Letter_ advertised
"English and Dutch Toys for Children." Not until October, 1771, on the
lists of the Boston shop-keepers, who seemed to advertise and to sell
every known article of dry goods, hardware, house furnishing, ornament,
dress and food, came that single but pleasure-filled item "Boys
Marbles." "Battledores and Shuttles" appeared in 1761. I know that no
little maids could ever have lived without dolls, not even the
serious-minded daughters of the Pilgrims; but the only dolls that were
advertised in colonial newspapers were the "London drest babys" of
milliners and mantua-makers, that were sent over to serve as fashion
plates for modish New England dames. A few century-old dolls still
survive Revolutionary times, wooden-faced monstrosities, shapeless and
mean, but doubtless well-beloved and cherished in the days of their

As years rolled by and eighteenth century frivolity and worldliness took
the place of Puritan sobriety and religion, New England children shared
with their elders in that growing love of amusement, which found but few
and inadequate methods of expression in the lives of either old or
young. In the year 1771 there was sent from Nova Scotia a young miss of
New England parentage--Anna Green Winslow--to live with her aunt and
receive a "finishing" in Boston schools. For the edification of her
parents and her own practice in penmanship, this bright little maid kept
a diary, of which portions have been preserved, and which I do not
hesitate to say is the most sprightly record of the daily life of a girl
of her age that I have ever read. There is not a dull word in it, and
every page has some statement of historical value. She was twelve years
old shortly after the diary was begun, and she then had a "coming-out
party"--she became a "miss in her teens." To this rout only young ladies
of her own age and in the most elegant Boston society were invited--no
rough Boston boys. Miss Anna has written for us more than one prim and
quaint little picture of similar parties--here is one of her clear and
stiff little descriptions; and a graphic account also of the evening
dress of a young girl at that time.

     "I have now the pleasure to give you the result Viz; a very genteel
     well regulated assembly which we had at Mr. Soleys last evening,
     Miss Soley being mistress of the ceremony. Miss Soley desired me to
     assist Miss Hannah in making out a list of guests which I did.
     Sometime since I wrote all the invitation cards. There was a large
     company assembled in a large handsome upper room in the new end of
     the house. We had two fiddles and I had the honor to open the
     diversion of the evening in a minuet with Miss Soley. Here follows
     a list of the company as we form'd for country-dancing. Miss Soley
     and Miss Anna Green Winslow; Miss Calif and Miss Scott; Miss
     Williams and Miss McLarth; Miss Codman and Miss Winslow; Miss Ives
     and Miss Coffin; Miss Scollay and Miss Bella Coffin; Miss Waldo and
     Miss Quinsey; Miss Glover and Miss Draper; Miss Hubbard and Miss
     Cregur (usually pronounced Kicker) and two Miss Sheafs were invited
     but were sick or sorry and beg'd to be excused.

     "There was a little Miss Russel and little ones of the family
     present who could not dance. As spectators there were Mr. & Mrs.
     Deming, Mr. & Mrs. Sweetser, Mr. and Mrs. Soley, Mr. & Mrs. Claney,
     Mrs. Draper, Miss Orice, Miss Hannah--our treat was nuts, raisins,
     cakes, Wine, punch hot and cold all in great plenty. We had a very
     agreeable evening from 5 to 10 o'clock. For variety we woo'd a
     widow, hunted the whistle, threaded the needle, & while the company
     was collecting we diverted ourselves with playing of pawns--_no
     rudeness_ Mamma I assure you. Aunt Deming desires you would
     particularly observe that the elderly part of the Company were
     _Spectators only_, that they mixed not in either of the
     above-described scenes.

     "I was dressed in my yelloe coat, black bib and apron, black
     feathers on my head, my paste comb and all my paste garnet
     marquasett & jet pins, together with my silver plume--my locket,
     rings, black collar round my neck, black mitts and yards of blue
     ribbon (black and blue is high tast) striped tucker & ruffles (not
     my best) and my silk shoes completed my dress."

How clear the picture: can you not see it--the low raftered chamber
softly alight with candles on mantel-tree and in sconces; the two
fiddles soberly squeaking: the rows of demure little Boston maids, all
of New England Brahmin blood, in high rolls, with nodding plumes and
sparkling combs, with ruffles and mitts, little miniatures of their
elegant mammas, soberly walking and curtseying through the stately
minuet "with no rudeness I can assure you;" and discreetly partaking of
hot and cold punch afterward.

There came at this time to another lady in this Boston court circle a
grandchild eight years of age, from the Barbadoes, to also attend Boston
schools. Missy left her grandmother's house in high dudgeon because she
could not have wine at all her meals. And her parents upheld her, saying
she had been brought up a lady and must have wine when she wished it.
Evidently Cobbett's statement of the free drinking of wine, cider, and
beer by American children was true--as Anna Green Winslow's "treat"
would also show.

Though Puritan children had few recreations and amusements, they must
have enjoyed a very cheerful, happy home life. Large families abounded.
Cotton Mather says:

     "One woman had not less than twenty-two children, and another had
     no less than twenty-three children by one husband whereof nineteen
     lived to mans estate, and a third who was mother to seven and
     twenty children."

Sir William Phips was one of twenty-six children, all with the same
mother. Printer Green had thirty children. The Rev. John Sherman, of
Watertown, had twenty-six children by two wives--twenty by his last
wife. The Rev. Samuel Willard, first minister to Groton, had twenty
children, and his father had seventeen children. Benjamin Franklin was
one of a family of seventeen. Charles Francis Adams has told us of the
fruitful vines of old Braintree.

The little Puritans rejoiced in some very singular names, the offspring
of Roger Clap being good examples: Experience, Waitstill, Preserved,
Hopestill, Wait, Thanks, Desire, Unite, and Supply.

Of the food given Puritan children we know but little. In an old almanac
of the eighteenth century I find a few sentences of advice as to the
"Easy Rearing of Children." The writer urges that boys as soon as they
can run alone go without hats to harden them, and if possible sleep
without night-caps, as soon as they have any hair. He advises always to
wet children's feet in cold water and thus make them (the feet) tough,
and also to have children wear thin-soled shoes "that the wet may come
freely in." He says young children should never be allowed to drink cold
drinks, but should always have their beer a little heated; that it is
"best to feed them on Milk, Pottage, Flummery, Bread, and Cheese, and
not let them drink their beer till they have first eaten a piece of
Brown Bread." Fancy a young child nowadays making a meal of brown bread
and cheese with warm beer! He suggests that they drink but little wine
or liquor, and sleep on quilts instead of feathers. In such ways were
reared our Revolutionary heroes.

Of the dazzling and beautiful array in our modern confectioners' shops
little Priscilla and Hate-Evil could never have dreamed, even in
visions. A few comfit-makers made "Lemon Pil Candy, Angelica Candy,
Candy'd Eryngo Root & Carroway Comfits;" and a few sweetmeats came to
port in foreign vessels, "Sugar'd Corrinder Seeds," "Glaz'd Almonds,"
and strings of rock-candy. Whole jars of the latter adamantine,
crystalline, saccharine delight graced the shelves of many a colonial
cupboard. And I suppose favored Salem children, the happy sons and
daughters of opulent epicurean Salem shipowners, had even in colonial
days Black Jacks and Salem Gibraltars. The first-named dainties, though
dearly loved by Salem lads and lasses, always bore--indeed, do still
bear--too strong a flavor of liquorice, too haunting a medicinal
suggestion to be loved by other children of the Puritans. As an
instance, on a large scale, of the retributive fate that always pursues
the candy-eating wight, I state that the good ship Ann and Hope brought
into Providence one hundred years ago, as part of her cargo, eight boxes
of sweetmeats and twenty tubs of sugar candy, and on the succeeding
voyage sternly fetched no sweets, but brought instead forty-eight boxes
of rhubarb.

The children doubtless had prunes, figs, "courance," and I know they had
"Raisins of the Sun" and "Bloom Raisins" galore. Advertisements of all
these fruits appear in the earliest newspapers. Though "China Oranges"
were frequently given to and by Judge Sewall, I have not found them
advertised for sale till Revolutionary times, and I fancy few children
had then tasted them. The native and domestic fruits were plentiful, but
many of them were poor. The apples and pears and Kentish cherries were
better than the peaches and grapes. The children gathered the summer
berries in season, and the autumn's plentiful and spicy store of
boxberries, checkerberries, teaberries or gingerbread berries with
October's brown nuts. There were gingerbread and "cacks" even in the
earliest days; but they were not sold in unlimited numbers. The
omnipotent hand of Puritan law laid its firm hold on their manufacture.
Judge Sewall often speaks, however, of Banbury cakes and Meers cakes;
Meer was a celebrated Boston baker and confectioner. The colonists had
also egg cakes and marchepanes and maccaroons.

There were children's books in those early days; not numerous, however,
nor varied was the assortment from which Puritan youth in New England
could choose. Here is the advertisement of one:

     "Small book in easey verse Very Suitable for children, entitled The
     Prodigal Daughter or the Disobedient Lady Reclaimed: adorned with
     curious cuts, Price Sixpence."

Somehow, from the suggestion of the title we should hardly fancy this to
be an edifying book for children. John Cotton supplied them with

     "Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes in Either England: Drawn out of
     the Breasts of both Testaments for their Souls Nourishment. But
     may be of like Use to Any Children."

Another book was published in many editions and sold in large numbers,
and much extolled by contemporary ministers. It was entitled:

     "A Token for Children. Being the exact account of the Conversion &
     Holy & Exemplary Lives of several Young Children by James Janeway."

To it was added by Cotton Mather:

     "Some examples of Children in whom the fear of God was remarkably
     Budding before they died; in several parts of New England."

Cotton Mather also wrote: "Good Lessons for Children, in Verse." Other
books were, "A Looking Glasse for Children," "The life of Elizabeth
Butcher, in the Early Piety series;" "The life of Mary Paddock, who died
at the age of nine;" "The Childs new Plaything" (which was a primer);
"Divine Songs in Easy Language;" and "Praise out of the Mouth of Babes;"
"A Particular Account of some Extraordinary Pious Motions and devout
Exercises observed of late in many Children in Siberia." Also accounts
of pious motions of children in Silesia and of Jewish children in
Berlin. One oasis appeared in the desert waste--after the first quarter
of the eighteenth century Puritan children had Mother Goose.

By 1787, in Isaiah Thomas' list of "books Suitable for Children of all
ages," we find less serious books. "Tom Jones Abridged," "Peregrine
Pickle Abridged," "Vice in its Proper Shape," "The Sugar Plumb," "Bag of
Nuts Ready Crack'd," "Jacky Dandy," "History of Billy and Polly
Friendly." Among the "Chapman's Books for the Edification and Amusement
of young Men and Women who are not able to Purchase those of a Higher
Price" are, "The Amours and Adventures of Two English Gentlemen in
Italy," "Fifteen Comforts of Matrimony," "The Lovers Secretary," and
"Laugh and be Fat." Another advertisement of about the same date
contained, among the books for misses, "The Masqued Wedding," "The
Elopement," "The Passionate Lovers," "Sketches of the History and
Importance of the Fair Sex," "Original Love Letters," and "Six Dialogues
of Young Misses Relating to Matrimony;" thus showing that love-stories
were not abhorred by the descendants of the Puritans.

In such an exceptional plantation as New England, a colony peopled not
by the commonplace and average Englishmen of the day, but by men of
special intelligence, and almost universally of good education, it was
inevitable that early and profound attention should be paid to the
establishment of schools. Cotton Mather said in 1685, in his sermon
before the Governor and his Council, "the Youth in this country are
verie Sharp and early Ripe in their Capacities." So quickly had New
England air developed the typical New England traits. And the early
schoolmasters, too, may be thanked for their scholars' early ripeness
and sharpness.

At an early age both girls and boys were sent to dame-schools, where, if
girls were not taught much book-learning, they were carefully instructed
in all housewifely arts. They learned to cook; and to spin and weave and
knit, not only for home wear but for the shops; even little children
could spin coarse tow string and knit coarse socks for shop-keepers.
Fine knitting was well paid for, and was a matter of much pride to the
knitter, and many curious and elaborate stitches were known; the
herring-bone and the fox- and geese-patterns being prime favorites.
Initials were knit into mittens and stockings; one clever young miss of
Shelburne, N. H., could knit the alphabet and a verse of poetry into a
single pair of mittens. Fine embroidery was to New England women and
girls a delight. The Indians at an early day called the English women
"lazie Squaes" when they saw the latter embroidering coifs instead of
digging in the fields. Mr. Brownell, the Boston schoolmaster in 1716,
taught "Young Gentle Women and Children all sorts of Fine Works as
Feather works, Filigree, and Painting on Glass, Embroidering a new Way,
Turkey-work for Handkerchiefs two new Ways, fine new Fashion purses,
flourishing and plain Work." We find a Newport dame teaching "Sewing,
Marking, Queen Stitch and Knitting," and a Boston shopkeeper taking
children and young ladies to board and be taught "Dresden and Embroidery
on gauze, Tent Stitch and all sorts of Colour'd Work." Crewels,
embroidery, silks, and chenilles appear frequently in early newspapers.
Many of the fruits of these careful lessons of colonial childhood
remain to us; quaint samplers, bed hangings, petticoats and pockets, and
frail lace veils and scarfs. Miss Susan Hayes Ward has resuscitated from
these old embroideries a curious stitch used to great effect on many of
them, and employed also on ancient Persian embroideries, and she points
out that the designs are Persian also. This stitch was not known in the
modern English needlework schools; but just as good old Elizabethan
words and phrases are still used in New England, though obsolete in
England, so this curious old stitch has lived in the colony when lost in
the mother country; or, it may be possible, since it is found so
frequently in the vicinity of Plymouth, that the Pilgrims obtained both
stitch and designs in Holland, whose greater commerce with the Orient
may have supplied to deft English fingers the Persian pattern.

Other accomplishments were taught to girls; "cutting of Escutcheons" and
paper flowers--"Papyrotamia" it was ambitiously called--and painting on
velvet; and quilt-piecing in a hundred different and difficult designs.
They also learned to make bone lace with pillow and bobbins.

The boys were thrust at once into that iron-handed but wholly wise
grasp--the Latin Grammar. The minds trained in earliest youth in that
study, as it was then taught, have made their deep and noble impress on
this nation. The study of mathematics was, until well into this century,
a hopeless maze to many youthful minds. Doubtless the Puritans learned
multiplication tables and may have found them, as did Marjorie Fleming,
"a horrible and wretched plaege," though no pious little New Englanders
would have dared to say as she did, "You cant conceive it the most
Devilish thing is 8 times 8 and 7 times 7, it is what nature itself
can't endure."

Great attention was paid to penmanship. Spelling was nought if the
"wrighting" were only fair and flowing. I have never read any criticism
of teachers by either parents or town officers save on the one question
of writing. How deeply children were versed or grounded in the knowledge
of the proper use of "Simme colings nots of interiogations peorids and
commoes," I do not know. A boundless freedom apparently was given, as
was also in orthography--if we judge from the letters of the times,
where "horrid false spells," as Cotton Mather called them, abound.

It is natural to dwell on the religious teaching of Puritan children,
because so much of their education had a religious element in it. They
must have felt, like Tony Lumpkin, "tired of having good dinged into
'em." Their primers taught religious rhymes; they read from the Bible,
the Catechism, the Psalm Book, and that lurid rhymed horror "The Day of
Doom;" they parsed, too, from these universal books. How did they parse
these lines from the Bay Psalm Book?

    "And sayd He would not them waste; had not
        Moses stood (whom he chose)
    'fore him i' th' breach; to turn his wrath
        lest that he should waste those."

Their "horn books"--

              "books of stature small
    Which with pellucid horn secured are
    To save from fingers wet the letters fair,"

those framed and behandled sheets of semi-transparent horn, which were
worn hanging at the side and were studied, as late certainly as the year
1715 by children of the Pilgrims, also managed to instil with the
alphabet some religious words or principles. Usually the Lord's Prayer
formed part of the printed text. Though horn-books are referred to in
Sewall's diary and in the letters of Wait Still Winthrop, and appear on
stationers' and booksellers' lists at the beginning of the eighteenth
century, I do not know of the preservation of a single specimen to our
own day.

The schoolhouses were simple dwellings, often tumbling down and out of
repair. The Roxbury teacher wrote in 1681:

     "Of inconveniences [in the schoolhouse] I shall mention no other
     but the confused and shattered and nastie posture that it is in,
     not fitting for to reside in, the glass broke, and thereupon very
     raw and cold; the floor very much broken and torn up to kindle
     fires, the hearth spoiled, the seats some burned and others out of
     kilter, that one had well-nigh as goods keep school in a hog stie
     as in it."

This schoolhouse had been built and furnished with some care in 1652,
as this entry in the town records shows:

     "The feoffes agreed with Daniel Welde that he provide convenient
     benches with forms, with tables for the scholars, and a conveniente
     seate for the scholmaster, a Deske to put the Dictionary on and
     shelves to lay up bookes."

The schoolmaster "promised and engaged to use his best endeavour both
by precept and example to instruct in all Scholasticall morall and
Theologicall discipline the children so far as they be capable, all
A. B. C. Darians excepted." He was paid in corn, barley or peas, the
value of £25 per annum, and each child, through his parents or
guardians, supplied half a cord of wood for the schoolhouse fire. If
this load of wood were not promptly furnished the child suffered, for
the master did not allow him the benefit of the fire; that is, to go
near enough the fireplace to feel the warmth.

The children of wise parents like Cotton Mather, were also taught
"opificial and beneficial sciences," such as the mystery of medicine--a
mystery indeed in colonial times.

Puritan schoolmasters believed, as did Puritan parents, that sparing the
rod spoiled the child, and great latitude was given in punishment; the
rod and ferule were fiercely and frequently plied "with lamming and with
whipping, and such benefits of nature" as in English schools of the same
date. When young men were publicly whipped in colleges, children were
sure to be well trained in smaller schools. Every gradation of
chastisement was known and every instrument from

    "A beesome of byrche for babes verye fit
     To a long lastinge lybbet for lubbers as meete,"

from the "thimell-pie" of the dame's school--a smart tapping on the head
with a heavy thimble--to belaboring with a heavy walnut stick or oaken
ruler. Master Lovell, that tigerish Boston teacher, whipped the culprit
with birch rods and forced another scholar to hold the sufferer on his
back. Other schoolmasters whipped on the soles of the feet, and one
teacher roared out, "Oh the Caitiffs! it is good for them." Not only
were children whipped, but many ingenious instruments of torture were
invented. One instructor made his scholars sit on a "bark seat turned
upside down with his thumb on the knot of a floor." Another master of
the inquisition invented a unipod--a stool with one leg--sometimes
placed in the middle of the seat, sometimes on the edge, on which the
unfortunate scholar tiresomely balanced. Others sent out the suffering
pupil to cut a branch of a tree, and, making a split in the large end of
the branch, sprung it on the culprit's nose, and he stood painfully
pinched, an object of ridicule with his spreading branch of leaves. One
cruel master invented an instrument of torture which he called a
flapper. It was a heavy piece of leather six inches in diameter with a
hole in the middle, and was fastened at the edge to a pliable handle.
The blistering pain inflicted by this brutal instrument can well be
imagined. At another school, whipping of unlucky wights was done "upon a
peaked block with a tattling stick;" and this expression of colonial
severity seems to take on additional force and cruelty in our minds that
we do not at all know what a tattling stick was, nor understand what was
meant by a peaked block.

I often fancy I should have enjoyed living in the good old times, but I
am glad I never was a child in colonial New England--to have been
baptized in ice water, fed on brown bread and warm beer, to have had to
learn the Assembly's Catechism and "explain all the Quaestions with
conferring Texts," to have been constantly threatened with fear of death
and terror of God, to have been forced to commit Wigglesworth's "Day of
Doom" to memory, and, after all, to have been whipped with a tattling



In the early days of the New England colonies no more embarrassing or
hampering condition, no greater temporal ill could befall any adult
Puritan than to be unmarried. What could he do, how could he live in
that new land without a wife? There were no housekeepers--and he would
scarcely have been allowed to have one if there were. What could a woman
do in that new settlement among unbroken forests, uncultivated lands,
without a husband? The colonists married early, and they married often.
Widowers and widows hastened to join their fortunes and sorrows. The
father and mother of Governor Winslow had been widow and widower seven
and twelve weeks, respectively, when they joined their families and
themselves in mutual benefit, if not in mutual love. At a later day the
impatient Governor of New Hampshire married a lady but ten days widowed.
Bachelors were rare indeed, and were regarded askance and with intense
disfavor by the entire community, were almost in the position of
suspected criminals. They were seldom permitted to live alone, or even
to choose their residence, but had to find a domicile wherever and with
whomsoever the Court assigned. In Hartford lone-men, as Shakespeare
called them, had to pay twenty shillings a week to the town for the
selfish luxury of solitary living. No colonial law seems to me more
arbitrary or more comic than this order issued in the town of Eastham,
Mass., in 1695, namely:

     "Every unmarried man in the township shall kill six blackbirds or
     three crows while he remains single; as a penalty for not doing it,
     shall not be married until he obey this order."

Bachelors were under the special spying and tattling supervision of the
constable, the watchman, and the tithingman, who, like Pliable in
Pilgrim's Progress, sat sneaking among his neighbors and reported their
"scirscumstances and conuersation." In those days a man gained instead
of losing his freedom by marrying. "Incurridgement" to wedlock was given
bachelors in many towns by the assignment to them upon marriage of
home-lots to build upon. In Medfield there was a so-called Bachelor's
Row, which had been thus assigned. In the early days of Salem "maid
lotts" were also granted; but Endicott wrote in the town records that it
was best to abandon the custom and thus "avoid all presedents & evil
events of granting lotts vnto single maidens not disposed of." This line
he crossed out and wrote instead, "for avoiding of absurdities." He
kindly, but rather disappointingly, gave one maid a bushel of corn when
she came to ask for a house and lot, and told her it would be a "bad
president" for her to keep house alone. A maid had, indeed, a hard time
to live in colonial days, did she persevere in her singular choice of
remaining single. Perhaps the colonists "proverb'd with the grandsire
phrase," that women dying maids lead apes in hell. Maidens "withering on
the virgin thorn," in single blessedness, were hard to find. One
Mistress Poole lived unmarried to great old age, and helped to found the
town of Taunton under most discouraging rebuffs; and in the Plymouth
church record of March 19, 1667, is a record of a death which reads

     "Mary Carpenter sister of Mrs. Alice Bradford wife of Governor
     Bradford being newly entered into the 91st year of her age. She was
     a godly old maid never married."

The state of old maidism was reached at a very early age in those early
days; Higginson wrote of an "antient maid" of twenty-five years. John
Dunton in his "Life and Errors" wrote eulogistically of one such ideal
"Virgin" who attracted his special attention.

     "It is true an _old_ (or superanuated) Maid in Boston is thought
     such a curse, as nothing can exceed it (and looked on as a _dismal_
     spectacle) yet she by her good nature, gravity, and strict virtue
     convinces all (so much as the fleering Beaus) that it is not her
     necessity but her choice that keeps her a Virgin. She is now about
     thirty years (the age which they call a _Thornback_) yet she never
     disguises herself, and talks as little as she thinks, of Love. She
     never reads any Plays or Romances, goes to no Balls or
     Dancing-match (as they do who go to such Fairs) to meet with
     Chapmen. Her looks, her speech, her whole behavior are so very
     chaste, that but once (at Govenor's Island, where we went to be
     merry at roasting a hog) going to kiss her, I thought she would
     have blushed to death.

     "Our _Damsel_ knowing this, her conversation is generally amongst
     the women (as there is least danger from that sex) so that I found
     it no easy matter to enjoy her company, for most of her time (save
     what was taken up in needle work and learning French &c.) was spent
     in Religious Worship. She knew time was a dressing-room for
     Eternity, and therefore reserves most of her hours for better uses
     than those of the Comb, the Toilet and the Glass.

     "And as I am sure this is most agreeable to the Virgin modesty,
     which should make Marriage an act rather of their obedience than
     their choice. And they that think their Friends too slowpaced in
     the matter give certain proof that lust is their sole motive. But
     as the Damsel I have been describing would neither anticipate nor
     contradict the will of her Parents, so do I assure you she is
     against Forcing her own, by marrying where she cannot love; and
     that is the reason she is still a Virgin."

Hence it may be seen that though there was not in Boston the "glorious
phalanx of old maids" of Theodore Parker's description, yet the Boston
old maid was lovely even in colonial days, though she did bear the
odious name of thornback.

An English traveller, Josselyn, gives a glimpse of Boston love-making in
the year 1663.

     "On the South there is a small but pleasant Common, where the
     Gallants, a little before sunset, walk with their Marmalet-Madams
     till the nine o'clock bell rings them home to their respective

This simple and quaint picture of youthful love in the soft summer
twilight, at that ever beautiful trysting-place, gives an unwonted touch
of sentiment to the austere daily life of colonial New England. The
omnipotent Puritan law-giver, who meddled and interfered in every
detail, small and great, of the public and private life of the citizen,
could not leave untouched, in fancy free, these soberly promenading
Puritan sweethearts. A Boston gallant must choose well his
marmalet-madam, must proceed cautiously in his love-making in the
gloaming, obtaining first the formal permission of parents or guardians
ere he take any step in courtship. Fines, imprisonment, or the
whipping-post awaited him, did he "inveigle the affections of any maide
or maide servant" by making love to her without proper authority.
Numberless examples might be given to prove that this law was no dead
letter. In 1647, in Stratford, Will Colefoxe was fined £5 for "laboring
to invegle the affection of Write his daughter." In 1672 Jonathan
Coventry, of Plymouth town, was indicted for "making a motion of
marriage" to Katharine Dudley without obtaining formal consent. The
sensible reason for these courtship regulations was "to prevent young
folk from intangling themselves by rash and inconsiderate contracts of
maridge." The Governor of Plymouth colony, Thomas Prence, did not
hesitate to drag his daughter's love affairs before the public, in 1660,
by prosecuting Arthur Howland for "disorderly and unrighteously
endeavouring to gain the affections of Mistress Elizabeth Prence." The
unrighteous lover was fined £5. Seven years later, patient Arthur, who
would not "refrain and desist," was again fined the same amount; but
love prevailed over law, and he triumphantly married his fair Elizabeth
a few months later. The marriage of a daughter with an unwelcome swain
was also often prohibited by will, "not to suffer her to be circumvented
and cast away upon a swaggering gentleman."

On the other hand, an engagement of marriage once having been permitted,
the father could not recklessly or unreasonably interfere to break off
the contract. Many court records prove that colonial lovers promptly
resented by legal action any attempt of parents to bring to an end a
sanctioned love affair. Richard Taylor so sued, and for such cause, Ruth
Whieldon's father in Plymouth in 1661; while another ungallant swain is
said to have sued the maid's father for the loss of time spent in
courting. Breach of promise cases were brought against women by
disappointed men who had been "shabbed" (as jilting was called in some
parts of New England), as well as by deserted women against men.

But sly Puritan maids found a way to circumvent and outwit Puritan law
makers, and to prevent their unsanctioned lovers from being punished,
too. Hear the craft of Sarah Tuttle. On May day in New Haven, in 1660,
she went to the house of a neighbor, Dame Murline, to get some thread.
Some very loud jokes were exchanged between Sarah and her friends Maria
and Susan Murline--so loud, in fact, that Dame Murline testified in
court that it "much distressed her and put her in a sore strait." In the
midst of all this doubtful fun Jacob Murline entered, and seizing
Sarah's gloves, demanded the centuries old forfeit of a kiss.
"Wherupon," writes the scandalized Puritan chronicler, "they sat down
together; his arm being about her; and her arm upon his shoulder or
about his neck; and hee kissed her, and shee kissed him, or they kissed
one another, continuing in this posture about half an hour, as Maria and
Susan testified." Goodman Tuttle, who was a man of dignity and
importance, angrily brought suit against Jacob for inveigling his
daughter's affections; "but Sarah being asked in court if Jacob
inveagled her, said No." This of course prevented any rendering of
judgment against the unauthorized kissing by Jacob, and he escaped the
severe punishment of his offence. But the outraged and baffled court
fined Sarah, and gave her a severe lecture, calling her with justice a
"Bould Virgin." She at the end, demurely and piously answered that "She
hoped God would help her to carry it Better for time to come." And
doubtless she did carry it better; for at the end of two years, this
bold virgin's fine for unruly behavior being still unpaid, half of it
was remitted.

Of the etiquette, the pleasures, the exigencies of colonial "courtship
in high life," let one of the actors speak for himself through the pages
of his diary. Judge Sewall's first wife was Hannah Hull, the only
daughter of Captain Hull of Pine Tree Shilling fame. She received as her
dowry her weight in silver shillings. Of her wooing we know naught save
the charming imaginary story told us by Hawthorne. The Judge's only
record is this:

     "Mrs. Hannah Hull saw me when I took my Degree and set her
     affection on me though I knew nothing of it till after our

She lived with him forty-three years, bore him seven sons and seven
daughters, and died on the 19th day of October, 1717.

Of course, though the Judge was sixty-six years old, he would marry
again. Like a true Puritan he despised an unmarried life, and on the 6th
day of February he made this naive entry in his diary: "Wandering in my
mind whether to live a Married or a Single Life." Ere that date he had
begun to take notice. He had called more than once on Widow Ruggles, and
had had Widow Gill to dine with him; had looked critically at Widow
Emery, and noted that Widow Tilley was absent from meeting; and he had
gazed admiringly at Widow Winthrop in "her sley," and he had visited
and counseled and consoled her ere his wife had been two months dead,
and had given her a few suitable tokens of his awakening affection such
as "Smoking Flax Inflamed," "The Jewish Children of Berlin," and "My
Small Vial of Tears;" so he had "wandered" in the flesh as well as in
the mind.

Such an array of widows! Boston fairly blossomed with widows, the widows
of all the "true New England men" whose wills Sewall had drawn up, whose
dying bedsides he had blessed and harassed with his prayers, whose
bodies he had borne to the grave, whose funeral gloves and scarves and
rings he had received and apprized, and whose estates he had settled.
Over this sombre flower-bed of black garbed widows, these hardy
perennials, did this aged Puritan butterfly amorously hover, loth to
settle, tasting each solemn sweet, calculating the richness of the soil
in which each was planted, gauging the golden promise of fruit, and
perhaps longing for the whole garden of full-blown blossoms. "Antient
maides" were held in little esteem by him; not one thornback is on his

Not only did he look and wander, but all his friends and neighbors arose
and began to suggest and search for a suitable wife for him, with as
officious alacrity as if he needed help, which he certainly did not. In
March Madam Henchman strongly recommended to him "Madam Winthrop, the
Major General's widow." This recommendation was very sweet to the
widower, who had turned his eyes with such special approval on this
special widow, and further and warm encouragement came quickly.

     "Deacon Marion comes to me, sits with me a great while in the
     evening; after a great deal of Discourse about his Courtship He
     told me the Olivers said they wish'd I would court their Aunt. I
     said little, but said 'twas not five Moneths since I buried my dear
     Wife. Had said before 'twas hard to know whether to marry again or
     no or whom to marry."

The Olivers' aunt was Madam Winthrop. It would seem somewhat
presumptuous and officious for nieces and nephews to suggest courtship,
when there were grown up Winthrop children who might dislike the
marriage, but in those days everyone meddled in love affairs; to quote
Pope: "Marriage was the theme on which they all declaimed." The Judge
gossiped publicly about his intentions. He writes: "They had laid one
out for me, and Governor Dudley told me 'twas Madam Winthrop. I told him
I had been there but thrice and twice upon business. He said _cave
tertium_." Even solemn Cotton Mather proffered counsel in a letter on
"paying regards to the Widow."

In spite of all these hints and commendations, and the Judge's evident
pleasure in receiving them, the Winthrop agitation all came to naught,
for about this time he was called to make a will for a Mr. Denison, of
Roxbury, who died on March 22d. Though the Judge was too upright and too
pious to let even his thoughts wander to a wife, the amazing rapidity
with which he turned his longing eyes on the newly-made widow (cruelly
forsaking Madam Winthrop) is only equalled by the act of the famous
Irish lover who proposed to a widow at the open grave of her husband.

Judge Sewall went home with widow Denison from her husband's funeral and
"prayed God to keep house with her." The very next day he writes, "Mr.
Danforth gives the Widow Denison a high commendation for her Piety,
Goodness, Diligence and Humility." On April 7th she came to the widower
to prove her husband's will; and another match-making friend, Mr. Dow,
"took occasion to say in her absence that she was one of the most
Dutiful Wives in the World." A few days later the Judge made her a gift,
"a Widow's book having writ her name in it."

At last, after talking the matter over with all his friends, he decided
positively to go a-courting. Widow Denison came to his house and he

     "I took her up into my chamber and discoursed Thorowly with her:
     told her I intended to visit her next Lecture Day. She said 'twould
     be talk'd of, I answered: In such Cases persons must run the
     Gantlet. Gave her an Oration."

He visited her as he had promised and gave her "Dr. Mathers Sermons
neatly bound and told her in it we were invited to a wedding. She gave
me very good Curds." Other love gifts followed: "K. Georges Effigies in
Copper and an English Crown of K. Charles II. 1677." "A pound of
Reasons and Proportionate Almonds," "A Psalmbook elegantly bound in
Turkey leather," "A pair of Shoe Buckles cost five shillings three
pence." "Two Cases with a knife and fork in each; one Turtle Shell
Tackling; the other long with Ivory Handles squar'd cost four shillings

In the meantime he read with Cousin Moodey the history of Rebekah's
courtship, and then prayed over it, and over his own wooing. Madam
Rogers and Madam Leverett much congratulated him, and his daughter
Judith visited her prospective stepmother. But alas! the lady was coy
and averse to a decision:

     "She mentions her Discouragement by reason of Discourse she had
     heard. Ask't what I should allow her, she not speaking I told her I
     was willing to allow her two hundred and fifty pounds per annum if
     it should please God to take me out of the world before her. She
     answered she had better keep as she was than give up a certainty
     for an uncertainty. She would pay dear for her living in Boston. I
     desired her to make Proposals but she made none. I had thought of
     Publishment next Thursday. But I now seem far from it. My God who
     has the pity of a Father Direct and help me."

Mr. Denison's will left his widow a portion of his estate to dispose of
as she wished if she did not marry again. Judge Sewall was unwilling to
make equal provision for her, hence the stumbling block in their

After consulting with a friend, the Judge made a final visit to her on
November 28th.

     "She said she thought it was hard to part with all and having
     nothing to bestow on her Kindred. I had ask'd her to give me
     proposals in Writing and she upbraided me That I who had never
     written her a Letter should ask her to write. She asked me if I
     would drink, I told her yes. She gave me Cider Aples and a Glass of
     Wine, gathered together the little things I had given her and
     offered them to me, but I would none of them. Told her I wish'd her
     well and should be glad of her welfare. She seem'd to say she
     should not again take in hand a thing of this nature. Thank'd me
     for what I had given her and Desir'd my Prayers. My bowels yern
     towards Mrs. Denison but I think God directs me in his Providence
     to desist."

This love affair was not, however, quite ended, for the following Lord's
Day "after dark" Widow Denison came "very privat" to his house. This
Sunday visit betokened great anxiety on her part. She had walked in from
Roxbury in the cold, and when we remember how wolves and bears abounded
in the vicinity we comprehend still further her solicitude.

     "She ask'd pardon if she had affronted me.... Mr. Denison spake to
     her after signing his will that he would not make her put all out
     of her Hand and power but reserve something to bestow on her
     friends that might want.... I could not observe that she made me
     any offer all the while. She mentioned two Glass Bottles she had.
     I told her they were hers and the other small things I had given
     her only now they had not the same signification as before, I was
     much concerned for her being in the cold, would fetch her a plate
     of something warm; she refused. However I fetched a Tankard of
     Cider and drank to her. She desired that nobody might know of her
     being here. I told her they should not. She went away in the bitter
     Cold, no moon being up, to my great pain. I Saluted her at

With that parting kiss on that dark cold night, in "great pain," ended
the Judge's second wooing.

That he was sincerely in love with Widow Denison one cannot doubt,
though he loved his money more. Disappointed, he did not again turn to
courting until the following August--much longer than he had waited
after the death of his wife. He then proceeded in a matter-of-fact way
to visit Widow Tilley, whom he had early noted in meeting. He asked her,
at his third visit, to "come and live in his house." "She expressed her
unworthiness with much respect," and both agreed to consider it. He gave
her a little book called "Ornaments of Sion;" Mr. Pemberton applauded
his courtship; Mrs. Armitage said that Mrs. Tilley had been a great
blessing to them; the banns were published; and the Judge's third wooing
ended in a marriage on October 24th.

But the bride was very ill on her wedding night, and after several
slight sicknesses through the winter, died on May 20th, to her husband's
"great amazement." Again he was a-seeking a "dear Yoke fellow," and on
September 30th, "Daughter Sewall acquainted Madam Winthrop that if she
pleased to be within at 3 P.M. I would wait on her." This was the same
Madam Winthrop whose attractions had been so completely obscured by the
bright halo which encircled the much-longed-for Widow Denison.

     "Madam Winthrop returning answer that she would be at home, I went
     to her house and spake to her saying my loving wife died so soon
     and suddenly 'twas hardly convenient for me to think of Marrying
     again, however I came to this Resolution that I would not make my
     Court to any person without first consulting with her. Had a
     pleasant Discourse about Seven Single persons sitting in the
     Fore-Seat. She propounded one after another to me but none would

Now, I think the Judge was very graceful in approaching a proposal to
this widow, for on his next visit he asked to see her alone, and he
resumed the pleasant discourse about the seven widows on the fore seat,
and said:

     "At last I pray'd Katharine might be the person assigned for me.
     She evidently took it up in the way of denyal as if she had catched
     at an opportunity to do it, saying she could not do it, could not
     leave her children."

The Judge begged her not to be so speedy in decision, and brought her
gifts, "pieces of Mr. Belchar's cake and gingerbread wrapped in a clean
sheet of paper;" China oranges; the _News Letter_; Preston's "Church
Marriage;" sugared almonds (of which she inquired the price). He wrote
her a stilted letter with an allusion in it to Christopher Columbus,
and he had to explain it to her afterward. He gave money to her servants
and "penys" to her grandchildren, and heard them "say their catechise;"
and he had interviews and consultations with her relatives--her
children, her sister--who agreed not to oppose the marriage.

Still the progress of the courtship was not encouraging. Katharine went
to her neighbors' houses when she knew her suitor was coming to visit
her, and left him to read "Dr. Sibbs Bowels" for scant comfort. She
"look'd dark and lowering" at him and coldly placed tables or her
grandchild's cradle between her chair and his as they sat together. She
avoided seeing him alone. She "let the fire come to one short Brand
beside the Block and fall in pieces and make no recruit"--a broad hint
to leave. She "would not help him on with his coat"--a cutting blow. She
would not let her servant accompany him home with a lantern, but
heartlessly permitted her elderly lover to stumble home alone in the
dark. She spoke to him of his luckless courtship of Widow Denison (a
most unpleasant topic), thus giving a clue to the whole situation, in
showing that Madam Winthrop resented his desertion of her in his first
widowerhood, and like Falstaff, would not "undergo a sneap without
reply." He said, in apologetic answer:

     "If after a first and second Vagary she would Accept of me
     returning her Victorious Kindness and Good Will would be very

Undeterred by these many rebuffs, as she grew cold he waxed warm, and a
most lover-like and gallant scene ensued which would have done credit to
a younger man than the Judge. Here it is in his own words:

     "I asked her to Acquit me of Rudeness if I drew off her Glove.
     Enquiring the reason I told her 'twas great odds between handling a
     dead Goat and a Living Lady. Got it off.... Told her the reason why
     I came every other night was lest I should drink too Deep draughts
     of Pleasure. She had talked of Canary, her Kisses were to me better
     than the best Canary."

Naturally these warm words had a marked effect; she relaxed, drank a
glass of wine with him, and I trust gave him a Canary-sweet kiss, and
sent a servant home with him with a lantern.

The next visit the wind blew cold again. He had had one experience with
a short-lived wife, and he had determined that should his next wife die
he would still have some positive benefit from having married her. Hence
he kept pressing Madam Winthrop in a most unpleasant and ghoulish manner
to know what she would give him in case she died. He would allow her but
one hundred pounds per annum. She in turn persisted in questioning him
about the property he had given to his children; and she wished him to
agree to keep a coach (which he could well afford to do), and she wanted
it set on springs too. He said he could not do it while he paid his
debts. She also suggested that he should wear a wig. This annoyed him
beyond measure, for he hated with extreme Puritan intenseness those
"horrid Bushes of Vanity," and the suggestion from his would-be bride
was irritating in the extreme. He answered her with much self-control:

     "As to a Periwigg my best and Greatest Friend begun to find me with
     Hair before I was born and has continued to do so ever since and I
     could not find it in my heart to go to another."

Still, when nearly all the men of dignity and position in the colony
wore imposing stately wigs, no woman would be pleased to have a lover
come a-courting in a _hood_.

So, though she gave him "drams of Black Cherry Brandy" and Canary to
drink and comfits and lump sugar to eat, while he so pressed her to name
her settlement on him, and while the wig and coach questions were so
adversely met, she would not answer yes, and he regretted making more
haste than good speed. At last the lover of the "kisses sweeter than
Canary" critically notes that his mistress has not on "Clean Linen;" and
the next day he writes rather sourly, "I did not bid her draw off her
Glove as sometime I had done. Her dress was not so clean as sometime it
had been;" the beginning of the end was plainly come. That week he
forbade her being invited to a family dinner, and she in turn gave a
"treat" from which he was excluded. Thus ended his fourth wooing.

The next widow on whom he called was Widow Belknap, but eftsoons he
transferred his attention to Widow Ruggles and wrote thus sentimentally
to her brother:

     "I remember when I was going from school at Newbury to have
     sometime met your sisters Martha and Mary in Hanging Sleeves coming
     home from their school in Chandlers Lane, and have had the pleasure
     of speaking to them. And I could find it in my heart to speak to
     Mrs. Martha again, now I myself am reduc'd to my Hanging Sleeves.
     The truth is, I have little occasion for a Wife but for the sake of
     Modesty, and to lay my Weary Head in Her Lap, if it might be
     brought to pass upon Honest Conditions. You know your sisters Age
     and Disposition and Circumstances. I should like your advice in my

The Judge called on Mrs. Martha, probably after learning with precision
her circumstances. "I showed my willingness to renew my old
acquaintance. She expressed her inability to be serviceable." Even after
the Denison and Winthrop fluctuations he was not abashed by refusal, and
he must have been (to quote Mrs. Peachum's words) "a bitter bad judge 'o
women," for he called again and again.

     "She seemed resolved not to move out of the house; made some
     Difficulties to accept an Election Sermon lest it should be an
     obligation to her. The coach staying long, I made some excuse for
     my stay. She said she would be glad to wait on me till midnight
     provided I should solicit her no more to that effect."

This decision he accepted.

Poor old wife-seeking Judge, with your hanging sleeves, your broken and
drooping wings, feebly did you still flutter around for a resting-place
to "lay your Weary Head in modesty." You fluctuated to a new widow,
Madam Harris, and she gave you "a nutmeg as it grew," ever a true
lover's gift in Shakespeare's day. On January 11th, 1722, this letter
was sent to "Mrs. Mary Gibbs, widow, at Newton."

     "Madam, your removal out of town and the Severity of the Weather
     are the Reason of my making you this Epistolary Visit. In times
     past (as I remember) you were minded that I should marry you by
     giving you to your desirable Bridegroom. Some sense of this
     intended Respect abides with me still and puts me upon enquiring
     whether you be willing I should marry you now by becoming your
     Husband. Aged feeble and exhausted as I am your favourable Answer
     to this Enquiry in a few lines, the Candour of it will much oblige,
     Madam, your humble serv't Samuel Sewall."

This not-too-alluring love-letter brought a favorable answer, for the
Judge assured her she "writ incomparably well," and he accompanied this
praise with a suitable and useful gift, "A Quire of Paper, a good
Leathern Ink Horn, a stick of Sealing Wax and 200 Wafers in a little

He was even sharper in bargaining with Widow Gibbs than he had been with
other matrimonial candidates. She had no property to leave him by will,
but he astutely stipulated that her children sign a contract that,
should she die before him, they would pay him £100. She thought him
"hard," and so did her sons and her son-in-law, and so he was--hard even
for those times of hard bargains and hard marriage contracts in hard New
England. He would agree to give her but £50 a year in case of his death.
The value of wives had depreciated in his eyes since the £250 a year
Widow Denison. His gifts too were not as rich as those bestowed on that
yearned-for widow. He had seen too many tokens go for naught. Glazed
almonds, Meers cakes, an orange, were good enough for so cheap a
sweetheart. He remained very stiff and peremptory about the marriage
contract, the £100, and wrote her one very unpleasant letter about it;
and he feared lest she being so attached to her children might not be
tender to him "when there soon would be an end of the old man." At last
she yielded to his sharp bargain and they were married. He lived eight
years, so I doubt not Mary was tender to him and mourned him when he
died, hard though he was and wigless withal.

We gather from the pages of Judge Sewall's diary many hints about the
method of conducting other courtships. We discover the Judge craftily
and slyly inquiring whether his daughter Mary's lover-apparent had
previously courted another Boston maid; we see him conferring with lover
Gerrish's father; and after a letter from the latter we see the lover
"at Super and drank to Mary in the third place." He called again when it
was too cold to sit downstairs, and was told he would be "wellcomm to
come Friday night." We read on Saturday:

     "In the evening Sam Gerrish comes not; we expected him; Mary
     dress'd herself; it was a painfull disgracefull disapointment."

A month later the recreant lover reappeared and finally married poor
disappointed Mary, who died very complaisantly in a short time and left
him free to marry his first love, which he quickly did. We find the
Judge after his daughter's death higgling over her marriage portion with
Mr. Gerrish, Sr., and see that grief for her did not prevent him from
showing as much shrewdness in that matter as he had displayed in his own

Timid Betty Sewall was as much harassed in love as in religion. We find
her father, when she was but seventeen years old, making frequent
investigation about the estate of one Captain Tuthill, a prospective
suitor who had visited Betty and "wished to speak with her." The Judge
had his hesitating daughter read aloud to him of the mating of Adam and
Eve, as a soothing and alluring preparation for the thought of
matrimony, with, however, this most unexpected result:

     "At night Capt. Tuthill comes to speak with Betty, who hid herself
     all alone in the coach for several hours till he was gone, so that
     we sought her at several houses, till at last came in of herself
     and look'd very wild."

This action of pure maidenly terror elicited sympathy even in the
Judge's match-making heart, and he told the lover he was willing to know
his daughter's mind better. This was on January 10th, 1698. Ten days
later we find wild-eyed Betty going out of her way to avoid drinking
wine with one Captain Turner, much to her father's annoyance. By
September she had refused another suitor.

Her father wrote thus:

     "Got home [from Rhode Island] by seven, in good health, though the
     day was hot, find my family in health, only disturbed at Betty's
     denying Mr. Hirst, and my wife hath a cold. The Lord sanctify
     Mercyes and Afflictions."

And again, a month later:

     "Mr. Wm. Hirst comes and thanks my wife and me for our kindness to
     his Son, in giving him the liberty of our house. Seems to do it in
     the way of taking leave. I thank'd him, and for his countenance to
     Hannah at the Wedding. Told him that the well wisher's of my
     daughter and his son had persuaded him to go to Brantry and visit
     her there, &c.; and said if there were hopes would readily do it.
     But as things were twould make persons think he was so involved
     that he was not fit to go any wether else. He has I suppose taken
     his final leave. I gave him Mr. Oakes Sermon, and my Father Hulls
     Funeral Sermon."

Two days later, Judge Sewall writes to Betty, who has gone to "Brantry"
on a visit.

                                              BOSTON, October 26, 1699.

     "ELIZABETH: Mr. Hirst waits on you once more to see if you can bid
     him welcome. It ought to be seriously considered, that your drawing
     back from him after all that has passed between you, will be to
     your Prejudice; and will tend to discourage persons of worth from
     making their Court to you. And you had need well consider whether
     you will be able to bear his final leaving of you, howsoever it may
     seem grateful to you at present. When persons come toward us we are
     apt to look upon their undesirable Circumstances mostly: and
     thereupon to shun them. But when persons retire from us for good
     and all, we are in danger of looking only on that which is
     desirable in them, to our wofull disquiet. Whereas 'tis the
     property of a good Ballance to turn where the most weight is,
     though there be some also in the other Scale. I do not see but the
     match is well liked by judicious persons, and such as are your
     Cordial friends, and mine also.

     "Yet notwithstanding, if you find in yourself an unmovable,
     incurable Aversion from him and cannot love and honor and obey him,
     I shall say no more, nor give you any further trouble in this
     matter. It had better off than on. So praying God to pardon us and
     pitty our Undeserving, and to direct and strengthen and settle you
     in making a right judgment, and giving a right Answer, I take
     leave, who am, Dear Child, Your loving father.

     "Your mother remembers to you."

Even this very proper and fatherly advice did not have an immediate
effect upon the shy and vacillating young girl, for not until a year
later did she become the wife of persistent Grove Hirst.

One of the most typical stories of colonial methods of "matching" among
fine gentlefolk is found in the worry of Emanuel Downing, a man of
dignity in the commonwealth, and of his wife, Lucy (who was Gov.
Winthrop's sister), in regard to the settlement of their children.
Downing begins with anxious overtures to Endicott in regard to "matching
his sonne" to an orphan maid living in Endicott's family, a maid who it
is needless to state had a very pretty fortune. Downing states that he
has been blamed for not marrying off his children earlier, "that none
are disposed of," and deplores his ill-luck in having them so long on
his hands, and he recounts pathetically his own and his son's good
points. He also got Governor Winthrop to write to Endicott pleading the
match. Endicott answered both letters in a most dignified manner,
stating his objections to furthering Downing's wishes, giving a
succession of reasons, such as the maid's unwillingness to marry, being
but fifteen years of age, his own awkward position in seeming to crowd
marriage upon her when she was so rich, etc., etc. The Downings had
hoped to have thriftily two marriages in the family in one day, but the
daughter Luce's affairs also halted. She had been enamoured of a Mr.
Eyer, an unsuitable match. He had put out to sea, to the Downings'
delight, but had returned at an unlucky time when she was on with a
fresh suitor. Her mother was much distressed because, though Luce
declared she much liked Mr. Norton, she still showed to all around her
that "she hath not yet forgotten Mr. Eyer his fresh Red."

But Mistress Luce, by a telling statement of pecuniary benefits, was
brought to a proper mind and became "verie sensible of loseing fair
opportunities," and consented speedily to wed Norton, to her father's
abounding joy, who wrote, "shee may stay long ere she meet with a better
vnless I had more monie for her than I now can spare." The betrothal was
formally announced, when shortly a distressed letter from Madam Downing
shows foul weather ahead. Luce had been talking among her friends,
giving to them "unjust suspicions of the enforcement to her of Mr.
Norton," and while she had seemed to love Mr. Eyer, and her family had
eagerly striven to win her regard from him, "we now suspect by her late
words her affections to be now inclininge at Jhon Harrold." It was found
that Jhon had "practised upon her and disturbed her," and that while she
was "free and cheerful" with Lover Norton, "passing conversation" with
him, she was really conspiring to jilt him. The mother wrote sadly: "I
am sorrie my daughter Luce hath caryed things thus vnwisely and
vnreputably both to herselfe and our friends;" and the whole family were
evidently sorely afraid that the "perverse Puritan jade" would be left
on their hands, when suddenly came the news of her marriage to Norton,
owing perhaps to a very decided and sharp letter from Norton's brother
to the Governor about Mistress Luce's vagaries, and also to some more
satisfactory and liberal marriage settlements. She probably made as
devoted a wife to him as if she had never longed for Eyer his fresh red,
nor Jhon his disturbments.

Nor were these upright and pious Puritan magistrates and these
gentlewomen of Boston and Salem the only colonists who displayed such
sordid and mercenary bargaining and stipulating in matrimonial ventures:
numberless letters and records throughout New England prove the
unvarying spirit of calculation that pervaded fashionable courtship. A
bride's portion was openly discussed, her marriage settlement carefully
decided upon, and even agreements for bequests were arranged as
"incurredgment to marriage." Nor did happy husbands hesitate to sue for
settlement too tardy or too remiss fathers-in-law who failed to keep
their word about the bride's portion: Edward Palmes for years harassed
the Winthrops about their sister's (his first wife's) portion, long
after he had married a second partner.

Though the tender passion walked thus ceremoniously and coldly in narrow
and carefully selected paths in town, in the country it regarded little
the bounds of reserve or regard for appearances. Much comparative
grossness prevailed. The mode of courting, known as "bundling" or
"tarrying" was too prevalent in colonial times to be ignored. A full
description of its extent, and an attempt to trace its origin, have been
given in a book on the subject prepared by Dr. H. R. Stiles, and with
much fairness in a pamphlet by Charles Francis Adams on "Some Phases of
Sexual Morality and Church Discipline in Colonial New England."

Its existence has been a standing taunt for years against New England,
and its prevalence has been held up as a proof of a low state of
morality in early New England society. Indeed, it was strange it could
so long exist in so austere and virtuous a colony; that it did, to a
startling extent, must be conceded; much proof is found in the books of
contemporary writers. Rev. Andrew Burnaby, who travelled in New England
in 1759-1760, says that though it may "at first appear to be the effects
of grossness of character, it will upon deeper research be found to
proceed from simplicity and innocence." To this assertion, after some
research, I can give--to use Sir Thomas Browne's words--"a staggering
assent to the affirmative, not without some fear of the negative." Rev.
Samuel Peters, in his General History of Connecticut, speaks at length
upon the custom, and apparently endeavors to prove that it was a very
prudent and Christian fashion. Jonathan Edwards raised his powerful
voice against it. It prevailed apparently to its fullest extent on Cape
Cod, and longest in the Connecticut valley, where many Dutch customs
were introduced and much intercourse with the Dutch was carried on. In
Pennsylvania, among the Dutch and German settlers and their descendants,
it lingered long; it was a matter of Court record as late as 1845. Yet
the custom of bundling has never been held to be a result of copying the
similar Dutch "queesting," which in Holland met with the sanction of
the most circumspect Dutch parents; and tergiversating Diedrich
Knickerbocker even asserted the contrary assumption, that the Dutch
learned of it from the Yankees. In Holland, as now in Wales and then in
New England, the custom arose not from a low state of morals, nor from a
disregard of moral appearances, but from the social and industrial
conditions under which such courting was done. The small size and
crowded occupancy of the houses, the alternative waste of lights and
fuel, the hours at which the hurried courtship must be carried on, all
led to the recognition and endurance of the custom; and in its open
recognition lay its redeeming feature. There was no secrecy, no thought
of concealment; the bundling was done under the supervision of mother
and sisters.

As a contrast to all this laxity of behaviour, let me state that in the
very locality where it obtained--the Connecticut Valley--other
sweethearts are said to have been forced to a most ceremonious
courtship, to whisper their tender nothings through a "courting-stick,"
a hollow stick about an inch in diameter and six or eight feet long,
fitted with mouth- and ear-pieces. In the presence of the entire family,
lovers, seated formally on either side of the great fireplace, carried
on this chilly telephonic love-making. One of these bâtons of propriety
still is preserved in Longmeadow, Mass.

Of this primitive colony with primitive manners some very extraordinary
cases of bucolic love at first sight are recorded--love that did not
follow the law of pounds, shillings, and pence. At an ordination in
Hopkinton, New Hampshire, a country bumpkin forgot the place, the
preacher, and the preaching, in the ravishing sight of an unknown damsel
whom he saw for the first time within the meeting-house. He sat
entranced through the long sermon, the tedious psalm-singings, the
endless prayers, until at last the services were over. In an ecstasy of
uncouth and unreasoning passion he rushed out of church, forced his way
through the departing congregation, seized the unknown fair one in his
arms crying out, "Now I have got ye, you jade, I have! I have!" And from
so startling and unalluring a beginning, a marriage followed. In a
neighboring community a dignified officer of the law went to "warn out
of town" a strange "transient woman" who might become a pauper, and
would then have to be kept at the town's expense, were this ceremony
omitted. Terrified at the majesty of the law and its grand though
incomprehensible wording, the young warned one burst into tears, which
so worked upon the tender-hearted officer that he (being conveniently a
widower) proposed to her offhand, was called in meeting, married her,
and thus took her under his own and the town's protection. More than one
case of "marriage at first sight" is recounted, of bold Puritan wooers
riding up to the door of a fair one whom they had never seen, telling
their story of a lonely home, forlorn housekeeping, and desired
marriage, giving their credentials, obtaining a hasty consent, and
sending in their "publishings" to the town clerk, all within a day's

The "matrimonial" advertisement did not appear till 1759. In the _Boston
Evening Post_ of February 23d of that year, this notice, for its novelty
and boldness, must have caused quite a heart-fluttering among Boston
"thornbacks" who would try to pass for the desired age:

     "To the Ladies. Any young Lady between the Age of Eighteen and
     twenty three of a Midling Stature; brown Hair, regular Features and
     a Lively Brisk Eye: Of Good Morals & not Tinctured with anything
     that may Sully so Distinguishable a Form possessed of 3 or 400£
     entirely her own Disposal and where there will be no necessity of
     going Through the tiresome Talk of addressing Parents or Guardians
     for their consent: Such a one by leaving a Line directed for A. W.
     at the British Coffee House in King Street appointing where an
     Interview may be had will meet with a Person who flatters himself
     he shall not be thought Disagreeable by any Lady answering the
     above description. N. B. Profound Secrecy will be observ'd. No
     Trifling Answers will be regarded."

Hawthorne says: "Now this was great condescension towards the ladies of
Massachusetts Bay in a threadbare lieutenant of foot."

Other matrimonial advertisements, those of recreant and disobedient
wives, appear in considerable number, especially in Connecticut papers.
They were sometimes prefaced by the solemn warning: "Cursed be he that
parteth man & wife & all the people shall say Amen." Some very
disagreeable allegations were made against these Connecticut wives--that
they were rude, gay, light-carriaged girls, poor and lazy housewives,
ill cooks, fond of dancing, and talking balderdash talk, and far from
being loving consorts. The wives had something to say from their point
of view. One, owing to her spouse's stinginess, had to use "Indian
branne for Jonne bred," and never tasted good food; another stated that
her loving husband "cruelly pulled my hair, pinched my flesh, kicked me
out of bed, drag'd me by my arms & heels, flung ashes upon me to smother
me, flung water from the well till I had not a dry thread on me." All
these notices were apparently printed in the advertiser's own language
and individual manner of spelling, some even in rhyme. "Timothy hubbard"
thus ventilated his domestic infelicities and his spelling in the
_Connecticut Courant_ of January 30th, 1776:

     "Whearis my Wife Abigiel hes under Rote me by saying it is veri
     Disagria bell to Hur to Expose to the World the miseris & Calamatis
     of a Distractid famely, and I think as much for hur Father & mother
     to Witt Stephen deming & his wife acts very much like Distractid or
     BeWicht & I believe both, for the truth of this I will apell to the
     Nabors. When I first Married I had land of my one and lived at my
     one hous but Stephen deming & his Wife cept coming down & hanting
     of me til they got me up to thare house but presently I was
     deceived by them as Bad as Adam & Eve was by the Divel though not
     in the Same Shape for they got a bill of Sail of a most all by
     thare Sutilly & still hold the Same. perhaps the Jentlemen will say
     it is to pay my debt. Queri. Wherino a man that ows one pound to my
     shiling. I dont want it to pay his one, I believe he dos. My wife
     pretends to say I abus'd her for the truth of this I will apiel to
     all thare nabors."

Anenst this I am glad to add that I have found repentant sequels to the
mortifying story, in the form of humble retractions of the husband's
allegations. Wives were, on the whole, marvellously well protected by
early laws. A husband could not keep his consort on outlying and
danger-filled plantations, but must "bring her in, else the town will
pull his house down." Nor could a man leave his wife for any length of
time, nor "marrie too wifes which were both alive for anything that can
appear otherwise at one time," nor beat his wife (as he could to his
heart's content in old England); he could not even use "hard words" to
her. Nor could she raise her hand or use "a curst and shrewish tongue"
to him without fear of public punishment in the stocks or pillory.

In the first years of the colonies there existed a formal ceremony of
betrothal called in Plymouth a pre-contract. This semi-binding ceremony
had hardly a favorable influence upon the morals of the times. Cotton
Mather states:

     "There was maintained a Solemnity called a Contraction a little
     before the Consummation of a marriage was allowed of. A Pastor was
     usually employed and a sermon also preached on this occasion."

If the prospective marriage were an important or a genteel one, an
applicable sermon was often preached in church at the time of the
"contraction." One minister took the text, Ephesians vi. 10, 11, in
order "to teach that marriage is a state of warfaring condition." It was
also the custom to allow the bride to choose the text for the sermon to
be delivered on the Sunday when she "came out bride." Much ingenuity was
exercised by these Puritan brides in finding appropriate and interesting
texts for these wedding sermons. Here are some of the verses selected:

2 Chronicles xiv. 2: "And Asa did that which was good and right in the
eyes of the Lord"--Asa and his bride Hepzibah sitting up proudly in the
congregation to listen.

Proverbs xxiv. 23: "Her husband is known in the gates when he sitteth
among the elders of the land."

Ecclesiastes iv. 9, 10: "Two are better than one; because they have a
good reward for their labour. For if they fall the one will lift up his

I can imagine the staid New England lover and his shy sweetheart
anxiously and solemnly searching for many hours through the great
leather-bound family Bible for a specially appropriate text, turning
over the leaves and slowing scanning the pages, skipping over tedious
Leviticus and Numbers, and finding always in the Song of Solomon "in
almost every verse" a sentiment appealing to all lovers, and worthy a
selection for a wedding sermon.

The "coming out," or, as it was called in Newburyport, "walking out" of
the bride was an important event in the little community. Cotton Mather
wrote in 1713 that he thought it expedient for the bridal couple to
appear as such publicly, with some dignity. We see in the pages of
Sewall's diary one of his daughters with her new-made husband leading
the orderly bridal procession of six couples on the way to church,
observed of all in the narrow Boston street and in the Puritan
meeting-house. In some communities the bride and groom took a prominent
seat in the gallery, and in the midst of the sermon rose to their feet
and turned around several times slowly, in order to show from every
point of view their bridal finery to the admiring eyes of their
assembled friends and neighbors in the congregation.

Throughout New England, except in New Hampshire, the law was enforced
for nearly two centuries, of publishing the wedding banns three times in
the meeting-house, at either town meeting, lecture, or Sunday service.
Intention of marriage and the names of the contracting parties were read
by the town clerk, the deacon, or the minister, at any of these
forgatherings, and a notice of the same placed on the church door, or on
a "publishing post"--in short, they were "valled." Yet in the early days
of the colonies the all-powerful minister could not perform the marriage
ceremony--a magistrate, a captain, any man of dignity in the community
could be authorized to marry Puritan lovers, save the parson. Not till
the beginning of the eighteenth century did the Puritan minister assume
the function of solemnizing marriages. Gov. Bellingham married himself
to Penelope Pelham when he was a short time a widower and forty-nine
years old, and his bride but twenty-two. When he was "brought up" for
this irregularity he arrogantly and monopolizingly persisted in
remaining on the bench to try his own case. "Disorderly marriages" were
punished in many towns; doubtless many of them were between Quakers.
Some couples were fined every month until they were properly married. A
very trying and unregenerate reprobate in New London persisted that he
would "take up" with a woman in the town and make her his wife without
any legal or religious ceremony. This was a great scandal to the whole
community. A pious magistrate met the ungodly couple on the street and
sternly reproved them thus: "John Rogers, do you persist in calling this
woman, a servant, so much younger than yourself, your wife?"

"Yes, I do," violently answered John.

"And do you, Mary, wish such an old man as this to be your husband?"

"Indeed I do," she answered.

"Then," said the governor, coldly, "by the laws of God and this
commonwealth, I as a magistrate pronounce you man and wife."

"Ah! Gurdon, Gurdon," said the groom, married legally in spite of
himself, "thee's a cunning fellow."

There is one peculiarity of the marriages of the first century and a
half of colonial and provincial life which should be noted--the vast
number of unions between the members of the families of Puritan
ministers. It seemed to be a law of social ethics that the sons of
ministers should marry the daughters of ministers. The new pastor
frequently married the daughter of his predecessor in the parish,
sometimes the widow--a most thrifty settling of pastoral affairs. A
study of the Cotton, Stoddard, Eliot, Williams, Edwards, Chauncey,
Bulkeley, and Wigglesworth families, and, above all, of the Mather
family, will show mutual kinship among the ministers, as well as mutual
religious thought.

Richard Mather took for his second wife the widow of John Cotton. Their
children, Increase Mather and Mary Cotton, grew up as brother and
sister, but were married and became the parents of Cotton Mather. The
sons and grandsons and great-grandsons of Richard Mather were ministers.
His daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters became the wives
of ministers. Thus was the name of "Mather Dynasty" well given. The
Mather blood and the Mather traits of character were felt in the most
remote parishes of New England. The Mather expressions of religious
thought were long heard from the pulpit, and long taught in ministerial
homes; and to that Mather blood and that upright Mather character and
God-fearing Mather faith and teaching, we of New England owe more
gratitude than can ever find expression.

We have several meagre pictures of weddings in early days. One runs

     "There was a pretty deal of company present.... Many young
     gentlemen and gentlewomen. Mr. Noyes made a speech, said love was
     the sugar to sweeten every condition in the marriage state. Prayed
     once. Did all very well. After the Sack-posset sung 45th Psalm from
     8th verse to end, five staves. I set it to Windsor tune. I had a
     very good Turkey Leather Psalm book which I looked in while Mr.
     Noyes read; then I gave it to the bridegroom saying I give you this
     Psalm book in order to your perpetuating this song and I would have
     you pray that it may be an introduction to our singing with the
     quire above."

For many years sack-posset was drunk at weddings, sometimes within the
bridal chamber; but not with noisy revelry, as in old England. A psalm
preceding and a prayer following a Puritan posset-pot made a
satisfactorily solemn wassail. Bride-cake and bride-gloves were sent as
gifts to the friends and relatives of the contracting parties. Other and
ruder English fashions obtained. The garter of the bride was sometimes
scrambled for to bring luck and speedy marriage to the garter-winner. In
Marblehead the bridesmaids and groomsmen put the wedded couple to bed.

It is said that along the New Hampshire and upper Massachusetts coast,
the groom was led to the bridal chamber clad in a brocaded night-gown.
This may have occasionally taken place among the gentry, but I fancy
brocaded night-gowns were not common wear among New England country
folk. I have also seen it stated that the bridal chamber was invaded,
and healths there were drunk and prayers offered. The only proof of this
custom which I have found is the negative one which Judge Sewall gives
when he states of his own wedding that "none came to us," after he and
his elderly bride had retired. When the weddings of English noblemen of
that period were attended by most indecorous observances, there is no
reason to suppose that provincial and colonial weddings were entirely
free from similar rude customs.

It was found necessary in 1651 to forbid all "mixt and unmixt" dancing
at taverns on the occasion of weddings, abuses and disorders having
arisen. But I fancy a people who would give an "ordination ball" would
not long sit still at a wedding; and by the year 1769, at a wedding in
New London, ninety-two jigs, fifty contra-dances, forty-three minuets,
and seventeen hornpipes were danced, and the party broke up at quarter
of one in the morning--at what time could it have begun?

Isolated communities retained for many years marriage customs derived or
copied from similar customs in the "old country." Thus the settlers of
Londonderry, New Hampshire--Scotch-Irish Presbyterians--celebrated a
marriage with much noisy firing of guns, just as their ancestors in
Ireland, when the Catholics had been forbidden the use of firearms, had
ostentatiously paraded their privileged Protestant condition by firing
off their guns and muskets at every celebration. A Londonderry wedding
made a big noise in the world. After the formal publishing of the banns,
guests were invited with much punctiliousness. The wedding day was
suitably welcomed at daybreak by a discharge of musketry at both the
bride's and the groom's house. At a given hour the bridegroom,
accompanied by his male friends, started for the bride's home. Salutes
were fired at every house passed on the road, and from each house
pistols and guns gave an answering "God speed." Half way on the journey
the noisy bridal party was met by the male friends of the bride, and
another discharge of firearms rent the air. Each group of men then named
a champion to "run for the bottle"--a direct survival of the ancient
wedding sport known among the Scotch as "running for the bride-door," or
"riding for the kail" or "for the broose"--a pot of spiced broth. The
two New Hampshire champions ran at full speed or rode a dare-devil race
over dangerous roads to the bride's house, the winner seized the
beribboned bottle of rum provided for the contest, returned to the
advancing bridal group, drank the bride's health, and passed the bottle.
On reaching the bride's house an extra salute was fired, and the
bridegroom with his party entered a room set aside for them. It was a
matter of strict etiquette that none of the bride's friends should enter
this room until the bride, led by the best man, advanced and stationed
herself with her bridesmaid before the minister, while the best man
stood behind the groom. When the time arrived for the marrying pair to
join hands, each put the right hand behind the back, and the bridesmaid
and the best man pulled off the wedding-gloves, taking care to finish
their duty at precisely the same moment. At the end of the ceremony
everyone kissed the bride, and more noisy firing of guns and drinking of
New England rum ended the day.

In some communities still rougher horse-play than unexpected volleys of
musketry was shown to the bridal party or to wedding guests. Great trees
were felled across the bridle-paths, or grapevines were stretched across
to hinder the free passage, and thus delay the bridal festivities.

Occasionally the wedding-bells did not ring smoothly. One Scotch-Irish
lassie seized the convenient opportunity, when the rollicking company of
her male friends had set out to meet the bridegroom, to mount a-pillion
behind a young New Hampshire Lochinvar, and ride boldly off to a
neighboring parson and marry the man of her choice. Such an unpublished
marriage was known in New Hampshire as a "Flagg marriage," from one
Parson Flagg, of some notoriety, of Chester, Vermont, whose house was a
sort of Yankee Gretna Green; and such a marriage was made possible by
the action of the government of New Hampshire in issuing marriage
licenses at the price of two guineas each, as a means of increasing its
income. Sometimes easy-going parsons kept a stock of these licenses on
hand, ready for issue to eloping couples at a slightly advanced price.
Such a marriage, without proper "publishing" in meeting, was not,
however, deemed very reputable.

Madam Knight, travelling through Connecticut in 1704, wrote thus in her
diary of Connecticut youth:

     "They generally marry very young; the males oftener as I am told
     under twenty years than above; they generally make public weddings
     and have a way something singular in some of them; viz. just before
     joining hands the bridegroom quits the place, who is soon followed
     by the Bridesmen and, as it were, dragged back to duty, being the
     reverse to the former practice among us to steal Mistress Bride."

Poor-spirited creatures Connecticut maids must have been to endure
meekly such an ungallant custom and such ungallant lovers.

The sport of stealing "Mistress Bride," a curious survival of the old
savage bridals of many peoples, lingered long in the Connecticut valley.
A company of young men, usually composed of slighted ones who had not
been invited to the wedding, rushed in after the marriage ceremony,
seized the bride, carried her to a waiting carriage, or lifted her up on
a pillion, and rode to the country tavern. The groom with his friends
followed, and usually redeemed the bride by furnishing a supper to the
stealers. The last bride stolen in Hadley was Mrs. Job Marsh, in the
year 1783. To this day, however, in certain localities in Rhode Island,
the young men of the neighborhood invade the bridal chamber and pull the
bride downstairs, and even out-of-doors, thus forcing the husband to
follow to her rescue. If the room or house-door be locked against their
invasion, the rough visitors break the lock.

In England throughout the eighteenth century the grotesque belief
prevailed that if a widow were "married in Her Smock without any Clothes
or Head Gier on," the husband would be exempt from paying any of his
new wife's ante-nuptial debts; and many records of such debt-evading
marriages appear. In New England, it was thought if the bride were
married "in her shift on the king's highway," a creditor could follow
her person no farther in pursuit of his debt. Many such eccentric
"smock-marriages" took place, generally (with some regard for modesty)
occurring in the evening. Later the bride was permitted to stand in a

Mr. William C. Prime, in his delightful book, "Along New England Roads,"
gives an account of such a marriage. In Newfane, Vt., in February, 1789,
Major Moses Joy married Widow Hannah Ward; the bride stood, with no
clothing on, within a closet, and held out her hand to the major through
a diamond-shaped hole in the door, and the ceremony was thus performed.
She then appeared resplendent in wedding attire, which the gallant major
had thoughtfully deposited in the closet for her assumption. Mr. Prime
tells also of a marriage in which the bride, entirely unclad, left her
room by a window at night, and standing on the top round of a high
ladder donned her wedding garments, and thus put off the obligations of
the old life.

In Hall's "History of Eastern Vermont," we read of a marriage in
Westminster, Vt., in which the Widow Lovejoy, while nude and hidden in a
chimney recess behind a curtain, wedded Asa Averill. Smock-marriages on
the public highway are recorded in York, Me., in 1774, as shown in the
History of Wells and Kennebunkport. It is said that in one case the
pitying minister threw his coat over the shivering bride, Widow Mary
Bradley, who in February, clad only in a shift, met the bridegroom half
way from her home to his.

The traveller Kalm, writing in 1748, says that one Pennsylvania
bridegroom saved appearances by meeting the scantily-clad widow-bride
half way from her house to his, and announcing formally, in the presence
of witnesses, that the wedding clothes which he then put on her were
only lent to her for the occasion. This is curiously suggestive of the
marriage investiture of Eastern Hindostan.

In Westerly, R. I., in 1724, other smock-marriages were recorded, and in
Lincoln County, Me., in 1767, between John Gatchell and Sarah Cloutman,
showing that the belief in this vulgar error was wide-spread. The most
curious variation of this custom is told in the "Life of Gustavus
Vassa," wherein that traveller records that a smock-marriage took place
in New York in 1784 on a gallows. A malefactor condemned to death, and
about to undergo his execution, was reprieved and liberated through his
marriage to a woman clad only in a shift.

In spite of the hardness and narrowness of their daily life, and the
cold calculation, the lack of sentiment displayed in wooing, I think
Puritan husbands and wives were happy in their marriages, though their
love was shy, almost sombre, and "flowered out of sight like the fern."
A few love-letters still remain to prove their affection: letters of
sweethearts and letters of married lovers, such as Governor Winthrop
and his wife Margaret; letters like the words of another Margaret--a
queen--to her "alderliefest;" letters so simple and tender that truth
and love shine round them like a halo:

     "MY OWN DEAR HUSBAND: How dearly welcome thy kind letter was to me,
     I am not able to express. The sweetness of it did much refresh me.
     What can be more pleasing to a wife than to hear of the welfare of
     her best beloved and how he is pleased with her poor endeavors! I
     blush to hear myself commended, knowing my own wants. But it is
     your love that conceives the best and makes all things seem better
     than they are. I wish that I may always be pleasing to thee, and
     that these comforts we have in each other may be daily increased so
     far as they be pleasing to God. I will use that speech to thee that
     Abigail did to David, I will be a servant to wash the feet of my
     lord; I will do any service wherein I may please my good husband. I
     confess I cannot do enough for thee; but thou art pleased to accept
     the will for the deed and rest contented. I have many reasons to
     make me love thee, whereof I shall name two: First, because thou
     lovest God, and secondly, because thou lovest me. If these two were
     wanting all the rest would be eclipsed. But I must leave this
     discourse and go about my household affairs. I am a bad housewife
     to be so long from them; but I must needs borrow a little time to
     talk with thee, my sweetheart. It will be but two or three weeks
     before I see thee, though they be long ones. God will bring us
     together in good time, for which time I shall pray. And thus with
     my mother's and my own best love to yourself I shall leave
     scribbling. Farewell my good husband, the Lord keep thee.

                                "Your obedient wife,
                                       "MARGARET WINTHROP."

Who can read the beautiful words without feeling for that sweet
Margaret, who died two centuries ago, a thrill of the affection that
must have glowed for her in John Winthrop's heart, when, far away from
her, he first opened and read this tender letter.

Warm eulogies did many a staid New Englander write of his loving
consort, eulogies in rhyme, and epitaphs, elegies, threnodies,
epicediums, anagrams, acrostics, and pindarics, all speaking loudly of
loving, "painful" care, if not of a spirit of poesy. And the even,
virtuous tenor of the life in New England proved too a happiness and
contentment equal to the marital results of more emotional and romantic
love-making. There were some divorces. Madam Knight found that they were
plentiful in Connecticut in 1704, as they are in that State nowadays.
She writes:

     "These uncomely Stand-aways are too much in vogue among the English
     in this indulgent colony, as their records plentifully prove; and
     that on very trivial matters of which some have been told me, but
     are not Proper to be Related by a Female Pen."

In town records we find that divorces, though infrequent, still were
occasionally given in other New England States; but the causes assigned
therefor, to follow Madam Knight's example, need not be "Related by a
Female Pen."



It is plainly evident that in a country where land was to be had for the
asking, fuel for the cutting, corn for the planting and harvesting, and
game and fish for the least expenditure of labor, no man would long
serve for another, and any system of reliable service indoors or afield
must fail. Whether the colonists came to work or not, they had to in
order to live, for domestic service was soon in the most chaotic state.
Women were forced to be notable housekeepers; men were compelled to
attend to every detail of masculine labor in their households and on
their farms, thus acquiring and developing a "handiness" at all trades,
which has become a Yankee trait.

The question of adequate and proper household service soon became a
question of importance and of painful consideration in the new land.
Rev. Ezekiel Rogers wrote most feelingly in 1656 on this subject:

     "Much ado have I with my own family, hard to get a servant glad of
     catechizing or family duties. I had a rare blessing of servants in
     Yorkshire, and those I brought over were a blessing, but the young
     brood doth much afflict me."

The Massachusetts colonists had attempted even before starting, to meet
and simplify the servant question by rigidly excluding any corrupt
element. They even sent back to England boys who had been unruly on
shipboard. But the number of penalties imposed on servants during the
early years are a lasting record of the affliction caused by the young

All the early travellers speak of the lack of good servants in the new
land. The "Diary of a French Refugee in Boston," in 1687, says: "There
is an absolute Need of Hired help;" and that savages were employed in
the fields at eighteen-pence a day. This latter form of service was
naturally the first way of solving the vexed question. The captives in
war were divided in lots and assigned to housekeepers. We find even
gentle Roger Williams asking for "one of the drove of Adam's degenerate
seed" as a slave. Hugh Peters, of Salem, wrote to a Boston friend: "Wee
haue heard of a diuidence of women & children in the baye & would bee
glad of a share viz.: a young woman or girle & a boy if you thinke
good." Two years later he wrote: "My wife desires my daughter to send to
Hanna that was her maid now at Charlestowne to know if she would dwell
with us, for truly wee are now so destitute (having now but an Indian)
that wee know not what to do." Lowell thus comments on such savage

     "Let any housewife of our day who does not find the Keltic element
     in domestic life so refreshing as to Mr. Arnold in literature,
     imagine a household with one wild Pequot woman, communicated with
     by signs, for its maid-of-all-work, and take courage. Those were
     serious times indeed when your cook might give warning by taking
     your scalp or chignon, as the case might be, and making off with it
     into the woods."

We frequently glean from diaries of the times hints of the pleasures of
having a wild Nipmuck or Narragansett Indian as "help." Rev. Peter
Thatcher, of Milton, Mass., bought an Indian in 1674 for £5 down and £5
more at the end of the year--a high-priced servant for the times. One of
her duties was, apparently, the care of a young Thatcher infant. Shortly
after the purchase, the reverend gentleman makes this entry in his
diary: "Came home and found my Indian girl had liked to have knocked my
Theodorah on the head by letting her fall. Whereupon I took a good
walnut stick and beat the Indian to purpose till she promised to do so
no more." Mr. Thatcher was really a very kindly gentleman and a good
Christian, but the natural solicitude of a young father over his
firstborn provoked him to the telling use of the walnut stick as a
civilizing influence.

When we reach newspaper days we find Indian servants frequently among
the runaways; as Mather said, they could not endure the yoke; and,
indeed, it would seem natural enough that any such wild child of the
forests should flee away from the cramped atmosphere of a Puritan
household and house. We read pathetic accounts of the desertion of aged
colonists by their Indian servants. One writes that he took his "Pecod
girle" as a "chilld of death" when but two years old, had reared her
kindly, nursed her in sickness, and now she had run away from him when
he sorely needed her, and he wished to buy a blackamoor in her place.
Sometimes the description of the costumes in which these savages took
their flitting, is extremely picturesque. This is from the _Boston News
Letter_ of October, 1707:

     "Run away from her master Baker. A tall Lusty Carolina Indian woman
     named Keziah Wampum, having long straight Black Hair tyed up with a
     red Hair Lace, very much marked in the hands and face. Had on a
     strip'd red blue & white Homespun Jacket & a Red one. A Black &
     White Silk Crape Petticoat, A White Shift, as Also a blue one with
     her, and a mixt Blue and White Linsey Woolsey Apron."

A reward of four pounds was offered for this barbaric creature.

Another Indian runaway in 1728 was thus bedizened, showing a startling
progress in adornment from the apron of skins and blanket of her
wildwood home.

     "She wore off a Narrow Stript pinck Cherredary Goun turn'd up with
     a little flour'd red & white Callico. A Stript Homespun Quilted
     Petticoat, a plain muslin Apron, a suit of plain Pinners & a red &
     white flower'd knot, also a pair of green Stone Earrings with White
     Cotton Stockings & Leather heel'd Wooden Shoes."

Indian men often left their masters dishonestly dressed in their
masters' fine apparel, and even wearing beribboned flaxen wigs, which
must have been comic to a degree over their harsh, saturnine
countenances--"as brown as any bun."

A limited substitute for Indian housemaids was found at an early day in
"help," as it was called even then. Roger Williams, writing of his
daughter, said: "She desires to spend some time in service & liked much
Mrs. Brenton who wanted." John Tinker, who himself was help, wrote thus
to John Winthrop; "Help is scarce, hard to get, difficult to please,
uncertain, &c. Means runneth out and wages on & I cannot make choice of
my help." Children of well-to-do citizens thus worked in domestic
service. Members of the family of the rich Judge Sewall lived out as
help. The sons of Downing and of Hooke went with their kinsman, Governor
Winthrop, as servants. Sir Robert Crane also sent his cousin to the
governor as a farm-servant. In Andover an Abbott maiden lived as help
for years in the house of a Phillips. Children were bound out when but
eight years old. These neighborly forms of domestic assistance were
necessarily slow of growth and limited in extent, and negro slavery
appeared to the colonists a much more effectual and speedy way of
solving the difficulty; and the Indian war-prisoners, who proved such
poor and dangerous house-servants, seemed a convenient, cheap, and
God-sent means of exchange for "Moores," as they were called, who were
far better servants. Emanuel Downing wrote in 1645 that he thought it
"synne in us having power in our hand to suffer them (the Indians) to
mayntayne the worship of the devill," that they should be removed from
their pow-wows, and suggests the exchange for negroes, saying: "I doe
not see how wee can thrive vntill wee into gett a stock of slaves
sufficient to doe all our business."

Downing had a personal interest in the gaining of Moors; for he had had
almost as much trouble in obtaining servants as he did in marrying off
his children. We find him and his wife writing to Winthrop for help,
buying Indians, sending home more than once to England for "godlye
skylful paynstakeing girles," beseeching their neighbors to send them
servants "of good caridg and godly conuersation;" and at last buying
negroes, to try in every way to solve the vexed question.

Though the early planters came to New England to obtain and maintain
liberty, and "bond slaverie, villinage," and other feudal servitudes
were prohibited under the ninety-first article of the Body of Liberties,
still they needed but this suggestion of Downing's to adopt quickly what
was then the universal and unquestioned practice of all Christian
nations--slavery. Josselyn found slaves on Noddle's Island in Boston
Harbor at his first visit, though they were not held in a Puritan
family. By 1687 a French refugee wrote home:

     "You may also here own Negroes and Negresses, there is not a house
     in Boston however small may be its means, that has not one or
     two.... Negroes cost from twenty to forty Pistoles."

In Connecticut the crime of man-stealing was made punishable by death;
and in 1646 the Massachusetts General Court awoke to the growing
condition of affairs and bore witness "by the first Optunity, ag't the
hainous & crying sinn of man-stealing," and undertook to send back to
"Gynny" negroes who had been kidnapped by a slaver and brought to New
England, and to send a letter of explanation and apology with them.

Though in the beginning he refused to harbor or tolerate negro-stealers,
the Massachusetts Puritan of that day, enraged at the cruelty of the
savage red men, did not hesitate to sell Indian captives as slaves to
the West Indies. King Philip's wife and child were thus sold and there
died. Their story was told in scathing language by Edward Everett. In
1703 it was made legal to transport and sell in the Barbadoes all Indian
male captives under ten, and Indian women captives. Perhaps these
transactions quickly blunted whatever early feeling may have existed
against negro slavery, for soon the African slave-trade flourished in
New England as in Virginia, Newport being the New England centre of the
Guinea Trade. From 1707 to 1732 a tax of three guineas a head was
imposed in Rhode Island on each negro imported--on "Guinea blackbirds."
It would be idle to dwell now on the cruelty of that horrid traffic, the
sufferings on board the slavers from lack of room, of food, of water,
of air. But three feet three, inches was allowed between decks for the
poor negro, who, accustomed to a free, out-of-door life, thus crouched
and sat through the passage. No wonder the loss of life was great. It
was chronicled in the newspapers and letters of the day in cold,
heartless language that plainly spoke the indifference of the public to
the trade and its awful consequences. I have never seen in any Southern
newspapers advertisements of negro sales that surpass in heartlessness
and viciousness the advertisements of our New England newspapers of the
eighteenth century. Negro children were advertised to be given away in
Boston, and were sold by the pound as was other merchandise. Samuel
Pewter advertised in the _Weekly Rehearsal_ in 1737 that he would sell
horses for ten shillings pay if the horse sale were accomplished, and
five shillings if he endeavored to sell and could not; and for negroes
"_sixpence a pound_ on all he sells, and a reasonable price if he does
not sell."

Many letters still exist of advices from ship-owners to ship-captains,
advice as to the purchase, care, and choice of captives, "to get one old
man for a Lingister; to worter ye Rum & sell by short mesuer &c. &c."
Negro-stealing by Americans continued till 1864, when a brig sailing
westward from Africa on that iniquitous errand, was lost at sea--a grim
ending to three centuries of incredible and unchristian cruelty.

The first anti-slavery tract published in America was written by Judge
Sewall in the year 1700--"The Selling of Joseph." His timid protest but
little availed, though he persevered in his belief and his opposition to
the day of his death. Other colonists who were opposed to the traffic
were willing to buy slaves, that the poor heathen might be brought up in
a Christian land, be led away from their idols--Abraham and the
patriarchs were given as authorities in justification of thus doing. One
respectable Newport elder, who sent many a profitable venture to the
Gold Coast for "black ivory," always gave pious thanks in meeting on the
Sunday after the safe arrival of a slaver, "that a gracious overruling
Providence had been pleased to bring to this land of Freedom another
cargo of benighted heathen to enjoy the blessing of a Gospel
dispensation," and I suppose he fancied he had cheated his Maker, his
congregation, and himself into believing that there was some truth and
decency in the specious words that framed a lie in every clause. Many
ministers were slave owners; Daille--the French Huguenot, Dr. Hopkins,
Dr. Williams, Ezra Stiles, and Jonathan Edwards being noted examples.
The ministers from Eliot down were kind to the blacks, preaching special
sermons to them, and forming religious associations for them. A negro
school for reading, writing, and catechizing was established in Boston
in 1728.

Cotton Mather had a negro worth fifty pounds given him by his
congregation, and that "most notorious benefactor," with his
never-ceasing "essay to doe good," at once, in gratitude for the gift,
devoted the negro to God's service, and made many a noble resolve to
save, through God's grace, his bondsman's soul. It is painful to read at
a later date that he found his unregenerate slave "horribly arrested by
spirits," by which he did not mean captured by the dreaded emissaries of
the devil who pervaded the air of Boston and Salem at that time, but
simply very drunk.

Slaves were more plentiful in Connecticut and Rhode Island than in
Massachusetts. Madam Knight gives a glimpse of Connecticut slave life in
1704, and of awkward table traits in both master and slave as well, when
she says that the negroes were too familiar, were permitted to sit at
the table with the master, and "into the Dish goes the black Hoof as
freely as the white Hand." Hawthorne says of New England slaves:

     "They were not excluded from the domestic affections; in families
     of middling rank, they had their places at the board; and when the
     circle closed around the evening hearth its blaze glowed on their
     dark shining faces, intermixed familiarly with their master's
     children. It must have contributed to reconcile them to their lot,
     that they saw white men and women imported from Europe as they had
     been from Africa, and sold, though only for a term of years, yet as
     actual slaves to the highest bidder."

In the main, New England slaves were not unhappy, for they were well
treated; and the race has the gift to be merry in the worst of
circumstances. Occasionally one would be brought to the northern land,
one of higher sensibilities, more sensitive affections, greater pride;
one who could not live a slave. Such a one was the haughty Congo Pomp,
who escaped to a swamp near Truro on Cape Cod--a swamp now called by his
name--and placing at the foot of a tree a jug of water and loaf of bread
to sustain him on his last long journey, hanged himself from the
low-hanging limbs, and thus obtained freedom. Such also was Parson
Williams's slave Cato in Longmeadow, Mass. He bore repeated whippings
for his high-spirited disobedience, "for speaking out loud in meeting,
drinking too much cider, going on a rampage," and finally drowned
himself in a well.

Waitstill Winthrop wrote thus of one suicidal Moor to Fitz John Winthrop
in 1682.

     "I fear Black Tom will do but little seruis. He usued to make a
     show of hangeing himselfe before folkes, but I believe he is not
     very nimble about it when he is alone. Tis good to have an eye to
     him & you think it not worth while to keep him eyether sell him or
     send him to Virginia or the Barbadoes."

William Pyncheon had also a slave who was "assiduous in hangeing." To be
sold to Virginia was a standard threat to New England slaves, as work in
Southern tobacco-fields was thought much more severe than in northern

Slavery lingered in New England until after Revolutionary days. It is
said that its death blow was dealt in Worcester, Mass., in 1783, when a
citizen was tried for assaulting and beating his negro servant. The
defence was that the black man was a slave, and the beating was but
necessary restraint and correction. The master was found guilty in the
Worcester County Court and fined forty shillings.

Though there were few slaves who were willing to leave life in order to
be free, many were willing to try to leave their masters. The early New
England newspapers abound in advertisements of runaway blacks--in gay
attire, with fiddles and guns, bewigged and silk-stockinged, well
dressed if not well treated.

I know no records that show more fully, though wholly unconsciously, the
vast simplicity of our ancestors than these advertisements of runaway
servants. Fancy giving as a possible means of identification of any
human being such an item of descriptions as this: "When he gets drunk or
drinks much he is red in the face"--as if that were an extraordinary or
peculiar trait in any drunken man! Another runaway is said to have had
"sometimes a sly look in his eye and wears the button of his hat in
front;" another to have been a liar; another to have been "somewhat
impudent if crossed, and has a leering look under his eyes." Others were
"awkward in manners," "somewhat morose in countenance," "had long
finger-nails," "had one or two pimples on the face," "is too fond of
talking." It seems almost incredible that intelligent persons should
have given such childish and easily obliterated or varied particulars of

Diverse names were applied to these runaways: "Sirrinam Indianman
Slave," "Mustee-fellow," "Molatto," "Moor," "Maddagerscar-boy,"
"Guinyman," "Congoman," "Coast-fellow," "Tawny," "Black-a-moor"--all
apparently conveying some distinction of description universally
comprehended at the time.

We have a few records of worthy black servants who remind us of the
faithful, loving house-servants of old Southern families. Such a one was
Judge Sewall's man, Boston--a freeman--to a master who deserved faithful
service, if ever master did. The entries in the Judge's diary, meagre as
they are, somehow show fully to us that faithful life of service. We see
Boston taking the Sewall children out sledding; we see him carrying one
of the little daughters out of town in his arms when the neighbors were
suddenly smitten with that colonial plague, the small-pox. We find him,
in later years, a tender nurse, sleeping by the fire in languishing
Hannah Sewall's sick-chamber; and, after her death, we hear him
protesting against the removal of her dead form from her chamber; and we
can see him weeping as he sat through the lonely nights with his dead
and dearly loved mistress, till she was hidden from his view. It is
pleasing to know that though he lived a servant, he was buried like a
gentleman; he received that token of final respect so highly prized in
Boston--a ceremonious funeral, with a good fire, and chairs set in rows,
and plenty of wine and cake, and a notice in the _News Letter_, and
doubtless gloves in decent numbers.

Other black men led noble lives in service, if we can trust the records
on their tombstones.

This elegant epitaph is upon a gravestone in Concord, Mass.:

              HERE LIES THE BODY OF

                    JOHN JACK

                 HE WAS BORN FREE
                HE LIVED A SLAVE.
              THOUGH A SLAVE TO VICE

At Attleborough, Mass., near the old Hatch Tavern, may be seen this





Besides slaves, Indians, and help, a species of nexal servitude also
existed in all the colonies. At the beginning of colonization bound or
indentured white servants were sent in large numbers to the new land.
Thirty came to the Bay Colony as early as 1625. Some of the terms of
service were very long, even for ten years. These indentured servants
were in three classes: "free-willers," or "redemptioners," or voluntary
emigrants; "kids," who had been seduced through ignorance or duplicity
on board ships that carried them off to America; and convicts
transported for crime. The latter expatriated vagabonds were sent
chiefly to Virginia. The "kids" were trapanned, by the fair promises of
crimps or "spirits," in Scotland, Ireland, and England, where kidnapping
formed an extensive and incredibly bold business. The Scots were brought
over and sold at the time of English wars. At one time "Scots, Indians,
and Negars" were not allowed to train in the militia in Massachusetts.
Many curious and romantic stories are told of these kidnapped servants.
One day, in 1730, a number of Boston gentlemen went to the Long Wharf to
examine a cargo of Irish transports then offered for sale. Among the
lads who ran up and down the wharf to show his strength and condition
was one who had gone to sea on another ship. The captain, his uncle,
died at sea, and the crew sold the boy to this transport-ship, which
chanced to pass them. The boy faithfully served out his time to his
purchaser, and became a gallant officer in the wars with the Indians.

These indentured servants were just as trying as the Indians and the
negroes, and in particular showed a lawless disregard for their masters'
property, an indifference to the authority of the weal-public, and a
lazy disinclination to work; one writer describes them as "tender
fingered in cold weather." The Mt. Wollaston lot that followed Morton to
Merry Mount were but the forerunners of hundreds of others. The
Bradstreets' servant, John, may be taken as a type of many refractory
bound servants. He was brought to trial in 1661, for "stealing several
things as pigges, capons, mault, bacon, butter, eggs, etc., and breaking
open a seller door several times." John, when pulled up for trial,
affirmed that he had really a very small appetite, but the food
furnished by that colonial blue-stocking, Anne Bradstreet, was not fit
to eat, the bread being black and heavy and sour, and he only took an
occasional surreptitious bite to keep himself from starvation. But it
was proved that he had feasted not only himself, but comrades, and that
a neighbor, who had a "great fat Turkey against his daughter's marriage"
hung up in a locked room, was relieved of it by the hungry and agile
John, who got some of his fellows to let him down the chimney to steal
the turkey and good store of beer, with which they all caroused; and he
was fitly punished.

The laws were strict enough at first as to the behavior of servants, and
occasionally a topping young maid felt their force. In Hartford, "Susan
Coles for her rebellious cariedge towards her mistris is to be sent to
the house of correction and be kept to hard labour and course dyet, to
be brought forth the next Lecture Day to be publicquely corrected and so
to be corrected weekly until Order be given to the contrary."

In York, Me., in 1645, "Alexander Maxwell for his grosse offence in his
exorbitant and abusive carriages towards his master Mr. George Leader
shall be publicly brought forth to the Whipping Post, where he shall be
fastened till 30 lashes be given him upon his bare skin." Maxwell was
ordered to satisfy his master for the money paid for his board in
prison, and, if he further misbehaved, Mr. Leader could sell him to

In later days New England housewives must have longed for the good old
times of the whipping-post and coarse diet and hard work for disorderly
and insubordinate redemptioners. Hear what gentle Mary Dudley endured
with one of her maids. She had written many pathetic entreaties to her
mother, Madam Winthrop, to send her a "good girle, a strong lusty
servant," one "vsed to all kind of work who would refuse none," and we
learn what she got, from a letter written a few months later, with a
new-born babe by her side:

     "A great affliction I have met withal by my maide servant and now
     I am like through God his mercie to be freed from it; at her first
     coming me she carried her selfe dutifully as became a servant; but
     since through mine and my husbands forbearance towards her for
     small faults, she hath got such a head and is growen so insolent
     that her carriage towards vs especialle myselfe is unsufferable. If
     I bid her doe a thinge she will bid me to doe it myselfe, and she
     sayes how she can give content as wel as any servant but shee will
     not, and sayes if I love not quietnes I was never so fitted in my
     life for she would make mee have enough of it. If I should write to
     you of all the reviling speeches and filthie language she hath vsed
     towards me I should but grieve you. My husband hath vsed all meanes
     for to reforme her, reasons and perswasions, but shee doth profess
     that her heart and her nature will not suffer her to confesse her
     faults. If I tell my husband of her behavior towards me, vpon
     examination she will denie all she hath done or spoken, so that we
     know not how to proceed against her."

We must not forget that the Winthrops had the best opportunity of any in
the land to have good servants; for not only were help placed in their
families, but the best of English servants were consigned to them; yet
neither the Governor's sister, Madam Downing, nor his daughter, Madam
Dudley, could be "suited." And hear the plaint of John Winthrop to his
father in 1717:

     "It is not convenient now to write the trouble and plague we have
     had with this Irish creature the year past. Lying and unfaithfull;
     w'd doe things on purpose in contradiction and vexation to her
     mistress; lye out of the house anights and have contrivances w'th
     fellows that have been stealing from o'r estate and gett drink out
     of ye cellar for them; saucy and impudent, as when we have taken
     her to task for her wickedness she has gone away to complain of
     cruell usage. I can truly say we have used this base creature w'th
     a great deal of kindness and lenity. She w'd frequently take her
     mistresses capps and stockins, hankerchers etc., to dresse herselfe
     and away without leave among her companions. I may have said some
     time or other when she has been in fault that she was fitt to live
     nowhere but in Virginia, and if she w'd not mend her ways I should
     send her thither tho I am sure nobody w'd give her passage thither
     to have her service for twenty yeares she is such a high-spirited
     pirnicious jade. Robin has been run away neare ten dayes as you
     will see by the inclosed and this creature know of his going and of
     his carrying out 4 dozen bottles of cyder, metheglin and palme wine
     out of the cellar among the servants of the town and meat and I
     know not w't. The bottles they broke and threw away after they had
     drunk up the liquor, and they got up o'r sheep anight, killed a
     fatt one, roasted and made merry w'th it before morning."

This wild Irish girl was indentured to the unfortunate Winthrop and his
more unfortunate wife for four years, and was to have fifty shillings
and some other start in the world when her time was up.

Out-of-the-way plantations fared no better in the question of service.
John Wynter, the head agent of the settlement at Richmonds Island in
Maine, wrote thus resentfully in 1639, to Mr. Trelawny, of the London
company, of his maid, one Priscilla Beckford:

     "You write of some yll reports is given of my Wyfe for beatinge the
     maide: yf a faire waye will not doe yt, beatinge must sometimes
     vppon such Idlle girrels as she is. Yf you think yt fitte for my
     Wyfe to do all the work, and the maide sitt still, and she must
     forbear her hands to strike, then the work will ly vndonn. She hath
     bin now 2-1/2 yeares in the house & I do not thinke she hath risen
     20 tymes before my Wyfe hath bin vp to Call her, and many tymes
     light the fire before she comes out of her bed. She hath twice gone
     a mechinge in the woodes which we have bin fain to send all our
     Company to seek her. We can hardly keep her within doors after we
     are gonn to bed except we carry the kay of the door to bed with vs.
     She coulde never milke Cow nor Goate since she came hither. Our men
     do not desire to have her boyl the kittle for them she is so
     sluttish. She cannot be trusted to serve a few piggs but my Wyfe
     must commonly be with her. She hath written home I heare that she
     was fain to ly vppon goates skinns. She might take some goates
     skinns to ly in her bedd but not given to her for her lodginge. For
     a yeare & quarter or more she lay with my daughter vppon a good
     feather bed; before my daughter being lacke 3 or 4 days to Sacco
     the maid goes into bed with her cloths & stockins & would not take
     the paines to pluck off her Cloths; her bed after was a doust bedd
     & shee had 2 Coverletts to ly on her, but Sheets she had none,
     after that tyme she was found to be so sluttish. Her beatinge that
     she hath had hath never hurt her body nor limes. She is so fatt &
     soggy she can hardly do any worke. Yf this maide at her lazy tymes
     when she hath bin found in her yll accyons do not deserve 2 or 3
     blowes I pray you who hath the most reason to complain my Wyfe or
     maide. My Wyfe hath an Vnthankefull office. Yt does not please me
     well, being she hath taken so much paines and care to order things
     as well as she could, and ryse in the morning rath & go to bed soe
     latte, and have hard speeches for yt."

We can well imagine his exhausted patience, and that of poor overworked
Mistress Wynter, at that fat soggy thing, that lag-last, so shiftless
and useless about the house, lazing from rath to latte, and then to
complete their exasperation, miching off into the woods to shirk her
work so that the whole company had to turn out with a mort of trouble to
hunt for the leg-trape. We cannot marvel at the beating, but simply
wonder at its being remarked in those days of many and hard beatings,
when scholars, servants, soldiers, and college students were well
whipped, and, in Old England, wives also.

Wynter had no better fortune without doors with his men-servants and
workmen; they proved kittle cattle. He found them not "plyable" or
"condishionabell," that they "spoke Fair to the Face and Colloged behind
the back." Of one malcontent he wrote,

     "He is verry vnwilling to do vs servize, he is alwaies too hard
     labored, he cares not what Spoyle he makes, and will not be
     commanded but when he list. He is such a talkinge Fellow as makes
     our company worse than would be."

He says his bound servants ran away at their pleasure, worked when they
pleased, and led others off to their lure, and should be punished if
they had returned to England. One only was "frace" of his ways and
promised to do better. Not only do we gain from Wynter's letters a
knowledge of the pains of colonial domestic service, but I know among
New England historical collections no other such well of good old
English words and phrases.

The Declaration of Independence did not better the aspect of the servant
question. The _Providence Gazette_ advertised in 1796 that a reward of
five hundred dollars and the "warmest blessings of abused householders"
would be given to any restoring the conditions of the good old times, or
rather what they fancied was

    "The constant service of the antique world
     When service sweat for duty not for meed."

The notice opens thus:

     "Was mislaid or taken away by mistake, soon after the formation of
     the abolition society, from the servant girls in this town all
     inclination to do any kind of work, and left in lieu thereof an
     independent appearance, a strong and continued thirst for high
     wages, a gossiping disposition for every sort of amusement, a
     leering and hankering after persons of the other sex, a desire of
     finery and fashion, a never-ceasing trot after new places, more
     advantageous for stealing, with a number of contingent
     accomplishments that do not suit the wearers."

President Dwight wrote that the servants of that day were "distinguished
for vice and profligacy;" so the nineteenth century opened no more
promisingly than the eighteenth.

The pious colonists felt that great spiritual, as well as temporal
responsibility rested upon them in regard to their bond-servants. We
find in contemporary letters frequent reference to the souls of the
indentured ones; Englishmen at the old home wrote to the settlers to
remember well their religious, their proselyting duties; and they
faithfully reminded each other of their accountability for souls. For
instance, when a smart young Irishman came over with some Irish hounds,
his consigner besought the New Englanders to remember that it was as
godly to "winne this fellowes soule out of the subtillest snare of
Sathan, Romes pollitick religion, as to winne an Indian soule out of the
Dieuells clawes;" and he urged them to watch the Papist narrowly as to
his carriage in Puritandom, his attitude toward Protestantism. This was
the same religious zeal that led the Boston elders to send missionaries
from New England to convert the heathen of the Established Church in

The moral and religious condition of these servants was truly of great
importance in the preservation of such a theocracy as was New England,
since few of them returned to England, but after serving out their time
became freemen with homes and land and votes of their own; and the
commonwealth could not live as a religious organization unless it
thrived through the religious spirit of its citizens.

One other form of domestic service existed until this century. A limited
amount of assistance was given in some households by those unhappy
wights, the town-poor. These wretched paupers were sold to the lowest
bidder. Sometimes the buyer received but a few shillings a year from the
town for the "keep" of one of these helpless souls. We may be sure that
he got some work out of the pauper to pay for his board. We read of one
old Dimbledee, of Widow Bump and Widow Bumpus, degenerate successors in
name as well as in estate of the Pilgrim Bompasse, who were sold from
year to year from one farm to another and given a grudged existence,
till at last we find the town paying for their welcome coffins and
winding sheets. Two curious facts are to be noted in the poor accounts:
that the women paupers were almost invariably "very comfortable on it
for clothes," as were other women of that dress-loving day; and that
liquor was frequently supplied to both male and female paupers by the
town. Sometimes ten gallons apiece, a very consoling amount, was given
in a year. I have also noted the frequent presence on the poor-list of
what are termed "French Neuterls." These were Acadians--the neighbors
and compatriots of Evangeline--feeble folk, who, void of romance,
succumbed in despair to exile and home-sickness, a new language and a
new manner of living, and yielded weakly to work as servants when they
had no courage to maintain homes. New England paupers lived to a good
old age. I have been told that the unhappy fate of one of these
town-poor--an Acadian--was traced for over thirty years in the town
records of her sale. In 1767 there were twenty-one paupers in Danvers,
Mass., and their average age was eighty-four years, thus apparently
offering proof of good rum and good usage from the town. There was also
an hereditary pauperism. In Salem a certain family always had some of
its members on the list of town-poor from the year 1721 to 1848; and
perhaps they found better homes through "living around" than in trying
to support themselves.

Criminals were also sold into service to work out their sentences. Thus
did the practical settlers attempt to carry out one of Sir Thomas More's
Utopian notions. Upon the whole, I think I should rather have a Nipmuck
squaw cooking in my kitchen, or a Pequot warrior digging in my garden,
than to have a white burglar or ruffian in either situation.

It is well to observe in passing that no gingerly nicety of regard in
calling those who served by any other name than servant, was shown or
heeded in olden times. They believed with St. Paul, "Art thou called
being a servant? Care not for it." All hired workers in the house, hired
laborers in the field, those contracting to work under a master at any
trade for a period of time, apprentices, and many whom we should now
term agents or stewards, were then called servants, and signed contracts
as servants, and did not appear at all insulted by being termed



It is easy to gain a definite notion of the furnishing of colonial
houses from a contemporary and reliable source--the inventories of the
estates of the colonists. These are, of course, still preserved in court
records. As it was customary in early days to enumerate with much
minuteness the various articles of furniture contained in each room,
instead of classifying or aggregating them, we have the outlines of a
clear picture of the household belongings of that day.

The first room beyond the threshold of the door that one finds named in
the houses "of the richer sort," is the entry. This was apparently
always bare of furniture, and indeed well it might be, for it was seldom
aught but a vestibule to the rest of the house, containing, save the
staircase, but room enough to swing the front door in opening. Dr. Lyon
gives the inventory of John Salmon of Boston in the year 1750 as the
earliest record which he has found of the use of the word hall instead
of entry, as we now employ it. In the _Boston News Letter_, thirty one
years earlier, on August 24th, 1719, I find this advertisement: "Fine
Glass Lamps & Lanthorns well gilt and painted both Convex and Plain.
Being suitable for Halls, staircases, or other Passage ways, at the
Glass Shop in Queen Street." This advertisement is, however,
exceptional. The hall in Puritan houses was not a passageway, it was the
living-room, the keeping-room, the dwelling-room, the sitting-room; in
it the family sat and ate their meals--in, it they lived. Let us see
what was the furniture of a Puritan home-room in early days, and what
its value. The inventory of the possessions of Theophilus Eaton,
Governor of the New Haven colony, is often quoted. At the time of his
death, in 1657, he had in his hall,

    "A drawing Table & a round table, £1.18s.
     A cubberd & 2 long formes, 14s.
     A cubberd cloth & cushions, 13s.; 4 setwork cushions,
       12s. £1.5.
     6 greene cushions, 12s; a greate chaire with needleworke,
       13s. £1.5.
     2 high chaires set work, 20s; 4 high stooles set worke,
       26s 8d £6.6.8.
     4 low chaires set worke, 6s 8d, £1.6.8.
     2 low stooles set worke, 10s.
     2 Turkey Carpette, £2; 6 high joyne stooles, 6s. £2.6.
     A pewter cistern & candlestick, 4s.
     A pr of great brass Andirons, 12s.
     A pr of small Andirons, 6s 8d.
     A pr of doggs, 2s 6d.
     A pr of tongues fire pan & bellowes, 7s."

Now, this was a very liberally furnished living-room. There were plenty
of seats for diners and loungers, if Puritans ever lounged; two long
forms and a dozen stools of various heights, with green or embroidered
cushions, upon which to sit while at the Governor's board; and seven
chairs, gay with needlework covers, to draw around his fireplace with
its shining paraphernalia of various sized andirons, tongs, and bellows.
The low, heavy-raftered room with these plentiful seats, the tables with
their Turkey covers, the picturesque cupboard with its rich cloth, and
its display of the Governor's silver plate, all aglow with the light of
a great wood fire, make a pretty picture of comfortable simplicity,
pleasant of contemplation in our bric-a-brac filled days, a fit setting
for the figures of the Governor, "New England's glory full of warmth and
light," and his dearest, greatest, best of temporal enjoyments, his
"vertuous, prudent and prayerful wife."

Contemporary inventories make more clear and more positive still this
picture of a planter's home-room, for similar furniture is found in all.
All the halls had cisterns for water or for wine (and I fancy they stood
on the small table usually mentioned); all had a table for serving
meals; a majority had the cupboard; a few had "picktures" or "lookeing
glasses;" very rarely a couch or "day-bed" was seen; some had
"lanthorns" as well as candlesticks; others a spinning-wheel for the
good wife, when she "keepit close the house and birlit at the wheel."

Chairs were a comparatively rare form of furniture in New England in
early colonial days, nor were they frequently seen in humble English
homes of that date. Stools and forms were the common seats. Turned,
wainscot, and covered chairs are the three distinct types mentioned in
the seventeenth century. Turned chairs are shown in good examples in
what are known as the Carver and Brewster chairs, now preserved in
Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth. The president's chair at Harvard College is
another ancient turned chair.

The seats of many of these chairs were of flags and rushes. The bark of
the elm and bass trees was also used for bottoming chairs.

The wainscot chairs were all of wood, seats as well as backs, usually of
oak. They were frequently carved or panelled. One now in Pilgrim Hall is
known as the Winslow chair. Another fine specimen in carved oak is in
the Essex Institute in Salem. Carved chairs were owned only by persons
of wealth or high standing, and were frequently covered with "redd
lether" or "Rusha lether." Sometimes the leather was stamped and
different rich fabrics were employed to cover the seats. "Turkey
wrought" chairs are frequently mentioned. Velvet "Irish stitch," red
cloth, and needlework covers are named. Green appeared to be, however,
the favorite color.

Cane chairs appeared in the last quarter of the century. It is said that
the use of cane was introduced into furniture with the marriage of
Charles II. to Catharine of Braganza.

The bow-legged chair, often with claw and ball foot, came into use in
the beginning of the eighteenth century. "Crowfoot" and "eaglesfoot"
were named in inventories. These are copies of Dutch shapes.

Easy-chairs also appeared at that date, usually as part of the bedroom
furniture, and were covered with the stuffs of which the bed-hangings
and window-curtains were made, such as "China," "callico," "camblet,"

The three-cornered chair, now known as an "As you like it" chair,
appeared in the middle of the century under the names of triangle,
round-about, and half-round chair.

The chairs known now as Chippendale may date back to the middle of the
century; Windsor chairs, also known and manufactured in Philadelphia at
that date, were not common in New England till a score of years later,
when they were made and sold in vast numbers, being much more
comfortable than the old bannister or slat-backed chairs then in common

Another piece of hall furniture deserves special mention. Dr. Lyon gives
these names of cupboards found in New England: Cupboard, small cupboard,
great cupboard, court cupboard, livery cupboard, side cupboard, hanging
cupboard, sideboard cupboard, and cupboard with drawers. To this list
might be added corner cupboard. The word court cupboard is found from
the years 1647 to 1704. It was a high piece of furniture with an
enclosed closet or drawers, originally intended to display plate, and
was the highest-priced cupboard found. Upon it were set, in New England,
both glass and plate. The livery cupboard, similar in its uses, seldom
had an enclosed portion. "Turn pillar cuberds," painted and carved
cupboards, were found. The item of cupboard in any inventory was usually
accompanied by that of a cupboard cloth. This latter seemed to be the
most elegant and luxurious article in the whole house. Cupboard cloths
of holland, "laced," "pantado," "cambrick," "kalliko," "green wrought
with silk fringe"--all are named. Cushions also, "to set upon a cubberds
head," are frequently named. They were made of damask, needlework,
velvet or cloth. A corner cupboard was apparently a small affair; a
japanned one is named. What we now call a corner cupboard was then known
as a beaufet.

The hall was naturally on one side of the entry and opening into it. On
the other side, in large houses, was the parlor; this room was sometimes
used as a dining-room, sometimes as a state bedroom. It frequently held,
in addition to furniture like that of the hall, a chest or chests of
drawers to hold the family linen, and also that family idol--the best

Of the exact shape and height of the bedsteads used by the early
colonists, I find no accurate nor very suggestive descriptions. The
terms used in wills, inventories, and letters seem too vague and curt to
give us a correct picture. What was the "half-headed bedstead" left with
"Curtaince & Valance of Dornix" by will by Simon Eire in Boston in 1658?
Or, to give a fuller description of a similar one in the sale of
furniture of the King's Arms in Boston, in 1651, "one half-headed
Bedsted with Blew Pillars." I fancy they were bedsteads with moderately
high headboards. It is easy enough to obtain full items of the bed
itself and the bed-furniture, its coverings and hangings. We read of
"ffether beds," "flocke beds," "downe bedds," "wool beds," and even
"charf beds," the latter worth but three shillings apiece, all of
importance enough to be named in wills and left with as much dignity of
bequest as Shakespeare's famous "second-best bed." Even so influential a
man as Thomas Dudley did not disdain to leave by specification to his
daughter Pacy a "ffeather beed & boulster." In 1666 Nicholas Upsall, of
Boston, left a "Bedstead fitted with a Rope Matt & Curtains to it." In
March, 1687, Sewall wrote to London for "White Fustian Drawn enough for
curtains, vallen counterpaine for a bed & half a duz chaires with four
threeded green worsted to work it." In 1691 we find him writing for
"Fringe for the Fustian bed & half a duz Chairs. Six yards and a half
for the vallons, fifteen yards for 6 chairs two Inches deep; 12 yards
half inch deep." This wrought fustian bed was certainly handsome.

By revolutionary times we read such items as these: "Neet sette bed,"
"Very genteel red and white copperplate Cottonbed with Squab and Window
Curtains Fring'd and made in the Newest Taste," "Sacken' & Corded Beds
and a Pallat Bed," "Very Handsome Flower'd Crimson worsted damask carv'd
and rais'd Teaster Bed & Curtains compleat," "A Four Post Bedstead of
Mahogany on Casters with Carved Foot Posts, Callico Curtains to Ditto &
Window Curtains to Match, and a Green Harrateen Cornish Bed." Harrateen,
a strong, stiff woollen material, formed the most universal bed hanging.
Trundle-beds or truckle-beds were used from the earliest days. So there
was variety in plenty.

A form of bedstead called a slawbank was common enough in New York, New
Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania until this century. They were more
rarely found in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and as I do not know what
they were called in New England, we will give them the Dutch name
slawbank, from _sloap-bancke_, a sleeping-bench. A slawbank was the
prototype of our modern folding-bed. It was an oblong frame with a
network of rope. This frame was fastened at one end to the wall with
heavy hinges, and at night it was lowered to a horizontal position, and
the unhinged end was supported on heavy wooden turned legs which fitted
into sockets in the frame. When not in use the bed was hooked up against
the wall, and doors like closet doors were closed over it, or curtains
were drawn over it to conceal it. It was usually placed in the kitchen,
and upon it slept goodman and goodwife. I know of several slawbanks
still in old Narragansett, and one in a colonial house in Shrewsbury,
Mass. A similar one may be seen at Deerfield Memorial Hall. It is hung
around with blue serge curtains. I have seen no advertisements of
slawbanks under any name in New England newspapers, unless the "bedstead
in a painted press" in the _Boston Gazette_ of November, 1750, may be

The bed furniture was of much importance in olden days, and the coverlet
was frequently mentioned separately. Margaret Lake, of Ipswich, in 1662,
so named a "Tapestry coverlet" worth £4. Susannah Compton had at about
the same date a "Yearne Courlead." "Strieked couerlids" appear, and Adam
Hunt, of Ipswich, had in 1671 "an embroadured couerled."
"Happgings"--coarse common coverlets--are also named. In 1716, on
September 24th, in the _Boston News Letter_, the word counterpane first
appears. "India counterpins" often were advertised, and cheney,
harrataen, and camlet coverlets or counterpanes were made to match the

A pair of sheets was furnished in 1628 to each Massachusetts Bay
colonist. This was a small allowance, but quite as full as the average
possession of sheets by other colonists. Cotton sheets were not
plentiful; flaxen or "fleishen" sheets, "canvas" sheets, "noggan"
sheets, "towsheets," and "nimming" sheets (mentioned by Lechford in his
note-book in 1640) were all of linen. Flannel sheets also were made, and
may appear in inventories under the name of rugs, and thus partially
explain the untidy absence, even among the possessions of wealthy
citizens, of sheets. "Straken" sheets were of kersey. After spinning
became fashionable, and flax was raised in more abundance, homespun
sheets were made in large quantities, and owned by all respectable
householders. "Twenty and one pair" was no unusual number to appear in
an inventory.

There were plenty of "ffether boulsters," "shafe boulsters," "wool
bolsters;" and John Walker had in 1659 a "Thurlinge Boulster," and each
household had many pillows. The word bear was universally used to denote
a pillow-case. It was spelled ber, beer, beir, beare and berr. In 1689
the value of a "peler-beare" in an inventory was given at three
shillings. In 1664 Susannah Compton had linen "pillow coates." Pillow
covers also were named, and pillow clothes, but pillow bear was the term
most commonly applied.

The following list of varieties of chests is given by Dr. Lyon: Joined
chests, wainscot chests, board chests, spruce chests, oak chests, carved
chests, chests with one or two drawers, cypress chests. Joined and
wainscot chests were framed chests with panels, distinguished clearly
from the board chests, made of plain boards. The latter were often
called plain chests, the former panel chests. Carved chests were much
rarer. William Bradford, of Plymouth, had one in 1657 worth £1. Dr. Lyon
also gives as possibly being carved these items: "wrought chest,"
"ingraved," "settworke," and "inlayed chests." Chests were also painted,
usually on the parts in relief on the carving, the colors being
generally black and red. Chests with drawers were not rare in New
England. A good specimen may be seen in the rooms of the Connecticut
Historical Society. They were distinct in shape from what we now call
chests of drawers. Nearly all the oak chests were quartered to show the
grain, and "drop ornaments" and "egg ornaments" of various woods were
applied. Cypress and cedar chests were used then, as now, to protect
garments from moths. Governor Bellingham had one of the former worth £5.
Ship chests or sea chests were, of course, plentiful enough. Cristowell
Gallup had in 1655 a "sea chest and a great white chest." These sea
chests being made of cheap materials, have seldom been preserved. There
would appear to be in addition to the various chests already named, a
hanging chest. In 1737 Sir William Pepperell wrote to England for "4
dozen pair Snipe bills to hang small chissts." This may possibly refer
to snipe-bill hinges to be placed on chests.

It is safe to infer that almost every emigrant brought to America among
his household belongings at least one chest. It was of use as a
travelling trunk, a packing-box, and a piece of furniture. Many
colonists had several. Jane Humphreys had and named in her will "my
little chest, my great old chest, my great new chest, my lesser small
box, my biggest small box"--and she needed them all to hold her finery.

Chests also were made in New England. Pine was used in the backs and
drawers of chests of New England make. English chests were wholly of

In the Memorial Hall at Deerfield may be seen many fine specimens of old
chests, forming, indeed, a complete series, showing the various shapes
and ornamentations.

Another furnishing of the parlor was the scrutoire. Under the spellings
scritoire, scredoar, screetor, scrittore, scriptore, scrutoir, scritory,
scrutore, escrutor, scriptoree, this useful piece of furniture appears
constantly in the inventories of men of wealth in the colonies from the
year 1669 till a century later. Judge Sewall tells of losing the key of
his "scrittoir." The definition of the word in Phillips's "New World of
Words," 1696, was "Scrutoire, a sort of large Cabinet with several
Boxes, and a place for Pen, Ink and Paper, the door of which opening
downward and resting upon Frames that are to be drawn out and put back,
serves for a Table to write on." This description would appear to
identify the "scrutoire" with what we now call a writing-desk; and it
was called interchangeably by these two names in wills. They were made
with double bow fronts and box fronts, of oak, pine, mahogany, cherry;
and some had cases of shelves for books on the top, forming what we now
call a secretary--our modern rendering of the word scrutoire. These book
scrutoires frequently had glass doors.

When Judith Sewall was about to be married, in 1720, her father was much
pleased with his prospective son-in-law and evidently determined to give
the pair a truly elegant wedding outfit. The list of the
house-furnishings which he ordered from England has been preserved, and
may be quoted as showing part of the "setting-off" in furniture of a
rich bride of the day. It reads thus:

     "Curtains & Vallens for a Bed with Counterpane Head Cloth and
     Tester made of good yellow waterd worsted camlet with Triming well
     made and Bases if it be the Fashion. Send also of the Same Camlet &
     Triming as may be enough to make Cushions for the Chamber Chairs.

     "A good fine large Chintz Quilt well made.

     "A true Looking Glass of Black Walnut Frame of the Newest Fashion
     if the Fashion be good, as good as can be bought for five or six

     "A second Looking Glass as good as can be bought for four or five
     pounds, same kind of frame.

     "A Duzen of good Black Walnut Chairs fine Cane with a Couch.

     "A Duzen of Cane Chairs of a Different Figure and a great Chair for
     a Chamber; all black Walnut.

     "One bell-metal Skillet of two Quarts, one ditto one Quart.

     "One good large Warming Pan bottom and cover fit for an Iron

     "Four pair of strong Iron Dogs with Brass heads about 5 or 6
     shillings a pair.

     "A Brass Hearth for a Chamber with Dogs Shovel Tongs & Fender of
     the newest Fashion (the Fire is to ly upon Iron).

     "A strong Brass Mortar That will hold about a Quart with a Pestle.

     "Two pair of large Brass sliding Candlesticks about 4 shillings a

     "Two pair of large Brass Candlesticks not sliding of the newest
     Fashion about 5 or 6 shillings a pair.

     "Four Brass Snuffers with stands.

     "Six small strong Brass Chafing dishes about 4 shillings apiece.

     "One Brass basting Ladle; one larger Brass Ladle.

     "One pair of Chamber Bellows with Brass Noses.

     "One small hair Broom sutable to the Bellows.

     "One Duzen of large hard-mettal Pewter Plates new fashion, weighing
     about fourteen pounds.

     "One Duzen hard-mettal Pewter Porringers.

     "Four Duzen of Small glass Salt Cellars of white glass; Smooth not
     wrought, and without a foot.

     "A Duzen of good Ivory-hafted Knives and Forks."

The floors of colonial houses were sometimes sanded, but were not
carpeted, for a carpet in early days was not a floor covering, but the
covering of a table or cupboard. In 1646 an inquiry was made into some
losses on the wreck of the "Angel Gabriel." A servant took oath that Mr.
John Coggeswell "had a Turkywork'd Carpet in old England which he
commonly used to lay on his Parlour Table; and this Carpet was put
aboard among my Maisters goods and came safe ashore to the best of my
Remembrance." Another man testified that he did "frequentlie see a
Turkey-work Carpet & heard them say it used to lay upon their Parlour
Table." Dornix, arras, cloth, calico, and broadcloth carpets are named.
Sewall tells of an "Irish stitch't hanging made a carpet of." Samuel
Danforth gave, in 1661, a "Convenient Carpet for the table of the
meeting house." In 1735, in the advertisement of the estate of Jonathan
Barnard, "one handsome Large Carpet 9 Foot 0 inches by 6 foot 6 inches"
was named. This was, I fancy, a floor covering. In the _Boston Gazette_
of November, 1748, "two large Matts for floors" were advertised--an
exceptional instance in the use of the word mat. Large floor-carpets
were advertised the following year, and in 1755 a "Variety of List
Carpets wide & Narrow," and "Scotch Carpets for Stairs." In 1769 came
"Persia Carpets 3 yards Wide." In 1772, in the _Boston Evening Post_, "A
very Rich Wilton Carpet 18 ft by 13" was named. The following year
"Painted Canvass Floor Cloth" was named. This was doubtless the "Oyl
Cloth for Floors and Tables" of the year 1762. Oilcloth had been known
in England a century previously. What the "False Carpets" advertised on
June 7, 1762, were I do not know.

The walls of the rooms were wainscoted and painted. Gurdon Saltonstall
had on the walls of some of his state-rooms leathern hangings or
tapestries. We find wealthy Sir William Pepperel sending to England, in
1737, the draught of a chamber he was furnishing, and writing, "Geet
mock Tapestry or paint'd Canvass lay'd in Oyls for ye same and send me."
In 1734 "Paper for Rooms," and a little later "Rolled Paper for Hanging
of Rooms" were advertised in the _Boston News Letter_. "Statues on
Paper" were soon sold, and "Architraves on Roll Paper" and "Landscape
Paper." These old paper-hangings were of very heavy and strong
materials, close-grained, firm and durable. The rooms of a few wealthy
men were hung with heavy tapestries. The ceilings usually exposed to
view the great summer-tree and cross rafters, sometimes rough-hewn and
still showing the marks of the woodman's axe. But little decoration was
seen overhead, even in the form of chandeliers; sometimes a candle beam
bore a score of candles, or in some fine houses, such as the Storer
mansion in Boston, great ornamental globes of glass hung from the

In the first log cabins oiled paper was placed in windows. We find more
than one colonist writing to England for that semi-opaque
window-setting. Soon glass windows, framed in lead, were sent from
London and Liverpool and Bristol, ready for insertion in the walls of
houses; and at an early day sheets of glass came to Winthrop. We find,
by Sewall's time, that the houses of well-to-do folk all had "quarrels
of glass" set in windows.

The flight of time in New England houses was marked without doors by
sun-dials; within, by noon-marks, hour-glasses, and rarely by
clepsydras, or water-clocks.

The first mention, in New England records, of a clock is in Lechford's
note-book. He states that in 1628 Joseph Stratton had of his brother a
clock and watch, and that Joseph acknowledged this, but refused to pay
for them and was sued for payment. Hence Lawyer Lechford's interest in
the articles and mention of them. In 1640 Henry Parks, of Hartford, left
a clock by will to the church. In the inventory of Thomas Coteymore,
made in Charleston, in 1645, his clock is apprized at £1. In 1657 there
was a town-clock in Boston and a man appointed to take care of it. In
1677 E. Needham, of Lynn, left a "striking clock, a Larum that does not
strike and a watch," valued at £5--this in an estate of £1,117 total.
Judge Sewall wrote, in 1687, "Got home rather before 12 Both by my Clock
and Dial."

Clocks must have become rather plentiful in the early part of the
following century, for in 1707 this advertisement appeared in the
_Boston News Letter_:

     "To all gentlemen and others: There is lately arrived in Boston by
     way of Pennsylvania a Clock maker. If any person or persons hath
     any occasions for new Clocks or to have Old Ones turn'd into
     Pendulums, or any other thing either in making or mending, they can
     go to the Sign of the Clock and Dial on the South Side of the Town

In 1712, in November, appeared in the _News Letter_ the advertisement of
a man who "performed all sorts of New Clocks and Watch works, viz: 30
hour Clocks, Week Clocks, Month Clocks, Spring Table Clocks, Chime
Clocks, quarter Clocks, quarter Chime Clocks, Church Clocks, Terret
Clocks;" and on April 16, 1716, this notice appeared: "Lately come from
London. A Parcel of very Fine Clocks. They go a week and repeat the hour
when Pull'd. In Japan Cases or Wall Nutt."

By this time, in the inventory or "enroulment" of the estate of any
person of note, we always find a clock mentioned. Increase Mather left
to his son Cotton "one Pendilum Clock." Soon appear Japann'd clocks and
Pullup Clocks. In the _New England Weekly Journal_ of October, 1732, the
fourth prize in the Newport lottery was announced to be a clock worth
£65. "A Handsome new Eight day Clock which shows the Moons Age, Strikes
the Quarters on Six very Tunable Bells & is in a Good Japann'd Case in
Imitation of Tortoise Shell & Gold."

This advertisement of Edmund Entwisle, in the _Boston News Letter_ of
November 18, 1742, proves, I think, that they had some very handsome
clocks in those days:

     "A Fine Clock. It goes 8 or 9 days with once winding up. And
     repeats the Hour it struck last when you pull it. The Dial is 13
     inches on the Square & Arched with a SemiCircle on the Top round
     which is a strong Plate with this Motto (Time shews the Way of
     Lifes Decay) well engraved & silver'd, within the Motto Ring it
     shews from behind two Semispheres the Moons Increase & Decrease by
     two curious Painted Faces ornamented with Golden Stars between on a
     Blue Ground, and a white Circle on the Outside divided into Days
     figured at every Third, in which Divisions is shewn the Age by a
     fix't Index from the Top, as they pass by the great Circle is
     divided into three Concentrick Collums on the outmost of which it
     shews the Minute of each Hour and the Middlemost the Hours &c. the
     innermost is divided into 31 equal parts figur'd at every other on
     which is shewn the Day of the Month by a Hand from the Dial Plate
     as the Hour & Minute is, it also shews the Seconds as common & is
     ornamented with curious Engravings in a Most Fashionable Manner.
     The case is made of very Good Mohogony with Quarter Collums in the
     Body, broke in the Surface with Raised Pannels with Quarter Rounds
     burs Bands & Strings. The head is ornamented with Gilded Capitalls
     Bases & Frise with New fashion'd Balls compos'd of Mohogony with
     Gilt Leaves & Flowers."

I do not quite understand this description, and I know I could never
have told the correct time by this clock, but surely it must have been
very elegant and costly.

The earliest and most natural, as well as most plentiful, illuminating
medium for the colonists was found in pine-knots. Wood says:

     "Out of these Pines is gotten the Candlewood that is so much spoke
     of which may serve as a shift among poore folks but I cannot
     commend it for Singular good because it is something sluttish
     dropping a pitchy kind of substance where it stands."

Higginson wrote in 1630, "Though New England has no tallow to make
candles of yet by abundance of fish thereof it can afford oil for

Though lamps and "lamp yearne," or wicks, appear in many an early
invoice, I cannot think that they were extensively used. Betty lamps
were the earliest form. They were a shallow receptacle, usually of
pewter, iron, or brass, circular or oval in shape, and occasionally
triangular, and about two or three inches in diameter, with a projecting
nose an inch or two long. When in use they were filled with tallow or
grease, and a wick or piece of twisted rag was placed so that the
lighted end could hang on the nose. Specimens can be seen at Deerfield
Memorial Hall. I have one with a hook and chain by which to hang it up,
and a handled hook attached with which to clean out the grease. These
lamps were sometimes called "brown-bettys," or "kials," or "cruiseys." A
ph[oe]be lamp resembled a betty lamp, but had a shallow cup underneath
to catch the dripping grease.

Soon candles were made by being run in moulds, or by a tedious process
of dipping. The fragrant bayberry furnished a pale green wax, which
Robert Beverly thus described in 1705:

     "A pale brittle wax of a curious green color, which by refining
     becomes almost transparent. Of this they make candles which are
     never greasy to the touch, nor melt with lying in the hottest
     weather; neither does the snuff of these ever offend the smell,
     like that of a tallow candle; but, instead of being disagreeable,
     if an accident puts a candle out, it yields a pleasant fragrancy to
     all that are in the room; insomuch that nice people often put them
     out on purpose to have the incense of the expiring snuff."

The Abbé Robin and other travellers gave similar testimony. Bayberry wax
was a standard farm production wherever bayberries grew, and was
advertised in New England papers until this century. I entered within a
year a single-storied house a few miles from Plymouth Rock, where an
aged descendant of the Pilgrims earns her scanty spending-money by
making "bayberry taller," and bought a cake and candles of the wax, made
in precisely the method of her ancestors; and I too can add my evidence
as to the pure, spicy perfume of this New England incense.

The growth of the whaling trade, and consequent use of spermaceti, of
course increased the facilities for, and the possibilities of, house
illumination. In 1686 Governor Andros petitioned for a commission for a
voyage after "Sperma-Coeti Whales," but not till the middle of the
following century did spermaceti become of common enough use to bring
forth such notices as this, in the _Boston Independent Advertiser_ of
January, 1749:

     "Sperma-Ceti Candles, exceeding all others for Beauty Sweetness of
     Scent when Extinguished. Duration being more than Double with
     Tallow Candles of Equal Size. Dimensions of Flame near 4 Times
     more. Emitting a Soft easy Expanding Light, bringing the object
     close to the Sight, rather than causing the Eye to trace after
     them, as all Tallow Candles do, from a Constant Dimnes which they
     produce. One of these Candles serves the use and purpose of 3
     Tallow Candles, and upon the Whole are much pleasanter and

These candles were placed in candle-beams--rude chandeliers of crossed
sticks of wood or strips of metal with sockets; in sliding stands, in
sconces, which were also called prongs or candle-arms. The latter
appeared in the inventories of all genteel folk, and decorated the walls
of all genteel parlors.

Candlesticks and snuffers were found in every house; the latter were
called by various names, the word snit or snite being the most curious.
It is from the old English snyten, to blow, and was originally a
verb--to snite the candle, or put it out. In the inventory of property
of John Gager, of Norwich, in 1703, appears "One Snit."

Snuffer-boats or slices were snuffer-trays. Another curious illuminating
appurtenance was called a save-all or candle-wedge. It was a little
frame of rings or cups with pins, by which our frugal ancestors held up
the last dying bit of burning candle. They were sometimes of pewter with
iron pins, sometimes wholly of brass or iron. They have nearly all
disappeared since new and more extravagant methods of illumination

The argand lamps of Jefferson's invention and the various illuminating
and heating contrivances of Count Rumford must have been welcome to the

The discomfort of a colonial house in winter-time has been ably set
forth by Charles Francis Adams in his "Three Episodes of Massachusetts
History." Down the great chimneys blew the icy blasts so fiercely that
Cotton Mather noted on a January Sabbath, in 1697, as he shivered before
"a great Fire, that the Juices forced out at the end of short billets of
wood by the heat of the flame on which they were laid, yett froze into
Ice on their coming out." Judge Sewall wrote, twenty years later, "An
Extraordinary Cold Storm of Wind and Snow. Bread was frozen at Lords
Table.... Though 'twas so Cold yet John Tuckerman was baptized. At six
oclock my ink freezes so that I can hardly write by a good fire in my
Wives Chamber"--and the pious man adds (we hope with truth) "Yet was
very Comfortable at Meeting." Cotton Mather tells, in his pompous
fashion, of a cold winter's day four years later. "Tis Dreadful cold, my
ink glass in my standish is froze and splitt in my very stove. My ink in
my pen suffers a congelation." If sitting-rooms were such refrigerators,
we cannot wonder that the chilled colonists wished to sleep in beds
close curtained with heavy woollen stuffs, or in slaw-bank beds by the
kitchen fire.

The settlers builded as well as they knew to keep their houses warm; and
while the vast and virgin forests supplied abundant and accessible wood
for fuel, Governor Eaton's nineteen great fireplaces and Parson
Davenport's thirteen, could be well filled; but by 1744 Franklin could
write of these big chimneys as the "fireplace of our fathers;" for the
forests had all disappeared in the vicinity of the towns, and the
chimneys had shrunk in size. Sadly did the early settlers need warmer
houses, for, as all antiquarian students have noted, in olden days the
cold was more piercing, began to nip and pinch earlier in November, and
lingered further into spring; winter rushed upon the settlers with
heavier blasts and fiercer storms than we now have to endure. And, above
all, they felt with sadder force "the dreary monotony of a New England
winter, which leaves so large a blank, so melancholy a death-spot, in
lives so brief that they ought to be all summer-time." Even John Adams
in his day so dreaded the tedious bitter New England winter that he
longed to hibernate like a dormouse from autumn to spring.

As the forests disappeared, sea-coal was brought over in small
quantities, and stoves appeared for town use. By 1695 and 1700 we find
Cotton Mather and Judge Sewall speaking of stoves and stove-rooms, and
of chambers warmed by stoves. Ere that one John Clark had patented an
invention for "saving and warming rooms," but we know nothing definite
of its shape.

Dutch stoves and china stoves were the first to be advertised in New
England papers; then "Philadelphia Fire Stoves"--what we now term
Franklin grates. Wood was burned in these grates. We find clergymen,
until after Revolutionary times, having sixty or eighty cords of
hardwood given to them annually by the parish.

Around the great glowing fireplace in an old New England kitchen centred
all of homeliness and comfort that could be found in a New England home.
The very aspect of the domestic hearth was picturesque, and must have
had a beneficent influence. In earlier days the great lug-pole, or, as
it was called in England, the back-bar, stretched from ledge to ledge,
or lug to lug, high up the yawning chimney, and held a motley collection
of pot-hooks and trammels, of gib-crokes, twicrokes, and hakes, which in
turn suspended at various heights over the fire, pots, and kettles and
other cooking utensils. In the hearth-corners were displayed skillets
and trivets, peels and slices, and on either side were chimney-seats and
settles. Above--on the clavel-piece--were festooned strings of dried
apples, pumpkins, and peppers.

The lug-pole, though made of green wood, sometimes became brittle or
charred by too long use over the fire and careless neglect of
replacement, and broke under its weighty burden of food and metal; hence
accidents became so frequent, to the detriment of precious cooking
utensils, and even to the destruction of human safety and life, that a
Yankee invention of an iron crane brought convenience and simplicity,
and added a new grace to the kitchen hearth.

The andirons added to the fireplace their homely charm. Fire-dogs
appear in the earliest inventories under many names of various spelling,
and were of many metals--copper, steel, iron, and brass. Sometimes a
fireplace had three sets of andirons of different sizes, to hold logs at
different heights. Cob irons had hooks to hold a spit and dripping-pan.
Sometimes the "Handirons" also had brackets. Creepers were low irons
placed between the great fire-dogs. They are mentioned in many early
wills and lists of possessions among items of fireplace furnishings, as,
for instance, the list of Captain Tyng's furniture, made in Boston in
1653. The andirons were sometimes very elaborate, with claw feet, or
cast in the figure of a negro, a soldier, or a dog.

In the Deerfield Memorial Hall there lives in perfection of detail one
of these old fireplaces--a delight to the soul of the antiquary. Every
homely utensil and piece of furniture, every domestic convenience and
inconvenience, every home-made makeshift, every cumbrous and clumsy
contrivance of the old-time kitchen here may be found, and they show to
us, as in a living photograph, the home life of those olden days.



In the early days of the colonies doubtless the old Anglo-Saxon board
laid on trestles was used for a dining-table instead of a table with a
stationary top. "Table bords" appear in early New England wills, and
"trestles" also. "Long tables" and "drawing tables" were next named. A
"long table" was used as a dining-table, and, from the frequent
appearance of two forms with it, was evidently used from both sides, and
not in the ancient fashion of the diners sitting at one side only. A
drawing-table was an extension-table; it could by an arrangement of drop
leaves be doubled in length. A fine one can be seen in the rooms of the
Connecticut Historical Society. Chair tables were the earliest example,
in fact the prototype, of some of our modern extraordinary "combination"
furniture. The tops were usually round, and occasionally large enough to
be used as a dining-table, and when turned over by a hinge arrangement
formed the back of the chair. "Hundred legged" tables had flaps at
either end which turned down or were held up in place by a bracket
composed of a number of turned perpendicular supports which gave to it
the name of "hundred legs." These tables were frequently very large; a
portion of the top of one in the Connecticut Historical Society is seven
feet four inches wide. Tea-tables came with tea; they were advertised in
the _Boston News Letter_ in 1712. Occasionally we find mention of a
curious and unusual table, such as the one named in the effects of Sir
Francis Bernard, which were sold September 11, 1770: "Three tables
forming a horseshoe for the benefit of the Fire."

As a table was in early days a board, so a tablecloth was a board-cloth;
and ere it was a tablecloth it was table-clothes. Cristowell Gallup, in
1655, had "1 Holland board-cloth;" and William Metcalf, in 1644, had a
"diaper board-cloth." Another Boston citizen had "broad-clothes." Henry
Webb, of Boston, named in his will, in 1660, his "beste Suite of Damask
Table-cloath, Napkins & cupboard-cloath." Others had holland tablecloths
and holland square cloths with lace on them. Arras tablecloths are also
named in 1654, and cloths enriched with embroidery in colors. The witch
Ann Hibbins had "1 Holland table cloth edged with blewe," worth twelve
shillings; and a Hartford gentleman had, in 1689, a "table Cloth wrought
with red." In 1728 "Hukkbuk Tabling" was advertised in the _New England
Weekly Journal_, but the older materials--damask, holland, and
diaper--were universally used then, as now.

The colonists had plenty of napkins, as had all well-to-do and well-bred
Englishmen at that date. Napkins appear in all the early inventories. In
1668 the opulent Jane Humphreys, of Dorchester, left "two wrought
Napkins with no lace around it," "half a duzzen of napkins," and
"napkins wrought about and laced." In 1680 Robert Adams had six "diaper
knapkins." Captain Tyng had in 1653 four dozen and a half of napkins, of
which two dozen were of "layd worke." It has been said that these
napkins were handkerchiefs, not table napkins; but I think the way they
are classed in inventories does not so indicate. For instance, in the
estate of Captain Corwin, a wealthy man, who died in Salem in 1685, was
a "suit of Damask 1 Table cloth, 18 napkins, 1 Towel," valued at £8.
Occasionally, however, they are specially designated as "pocket
napkins," as in the estate of Elizabeth Cutter in 1663, where four are
valued at one shilling.

Early English books on table manners, such as "The Babees Boke" and "The
Boke of Nurture," though minute in detail, yet name no other
table-furniture than cups, chafing-dishes, chargers, trenchers,
salt-cellars, knives, and spoons. The table plenishings of the planters
were somewhat more varied, but still simple; when our Pilgrim fathers
landed at Plymouth, the collection of table-ware owned by the entire
band was very meagre. With the exception of a few plate-silver tankards
and drinking-cups, it was also very inexpensive. The silver was handsome
and heavy, but items of silver in the earliest inventories are rare. By
the beginning of the eighteenth century silver became plentiful, and the
wills even of humble folk contain frequent mentions of it. Ministers,
doctors, and magistrates had many handsome pieces. By the middle of the
century a climax was reached, as in the possessions of Peter Faneuil,
when pieces of furniture were of solid silver.

The salt-cellar was the focus of the old-time board. In earlier days, in
England, to be seated above or below the salt plainly spoke the social
standing of a guest. The "standing salt" was often the handsomest
furnishing of the table, the richest piece of family plate. Comfort
Starr, of Boston, had, in 1659, a "greate Siluer-gilt double
Saltceller." Isaac Addington bequeathed by will his "Bigges Siluer Sewer
& Salt." A sewer was a salver. As we note by the list of Judith Sewall's
wedding furniture in 1720, standing salts were out of date, and
"trencher salt-cellars" were in fashion. Four dozen was a goodly number,
and evinced an intent of bounteous hospitality. These trencher-salts
were of various shapes and materials: "round and oval pillar-cut Salts,
Bonnet Salts, 3 Leg'd Salts," were all of glass; others were of pewter,
china, hard metal, and silver.

The greater number of spoons owned by the colonists were of pewter or of
alchymy--or alcamyne, ocamy, ocany, orkanie, alcamy, or occonie--a metal
composed of pan-brass and arsenicum. The reference in inventories,
enrolments, and wills, to spoons of these materials are so frequent, so
ever-present, as to make citation superfluous. An evil reputation of
poisonous unhealthfulness hung around the vari-spelled alchymy (perhaps
it is only a gross libel of succeeding generations); but, harmful or
harmless, alchymy, no matter how spelt, disappears from use before
Revolutionary times. Wooden spoons also are named. Silver spoons were
not very plentiful. John Oxenbridge bequeathed thirteen spoons in 1673,
and "one sweetmeat spoon," and "1 childs spoon which was mine in my
infancy." Other pap-spoons and caudle-spoons are named in wills;
marrow-spoons also, long and slender of bowl. The value of a dozen
silver spoons was given in 1689 as £5 13_s._ 6_d._ In succeeding years
each genteel family owned silver spoons, frequently in large number;
while one Boston physician, Dr. Cutter, had, in 1761, half a dozen gold

Forks, or "tines," for cooking purposes, and "prongs" or "grains" or
"evils" for agricultural purposes, were imported at early dates; but I
think Governor Winthrop had the first table-fork ever brought to
America. In 1633, when forks were rare in England, he received a letter
from E. Howes, saying that the latter had sent to him a "case contain
containing an Irish skeayne or knife, a bodekyn & a forke for the useful
applycation of which I leave to your discretion." I am strongly
suspicious that Winthrop's discretion may not have been educated up to
usefully applying the fork for feeding purposes at the table. In the
inventory of the possessions of Antipas Boyes (made in 1669) a silver
spoon, fork, and knife are mentioned. Dr. Lyon gives the names of seven
New Englanders whose inventories date from 1671 to 1693, and who owned
forks. In 1673 Parson Oxenbridge had "one forked spoon," and his widow
had two silver forks. Iron forks were used in the kitchen, as is shown
in the inventory of Zerubbabel Endicott in 1683. And three-tined iron
forks were stuck into poor witch-ridden souls in Salem by William
Morse--his Dæmon.

In 1718 Judge Sewall gave Widow Denison two cases with a knife and fork
in each, "one Turtleshell tackling the other long with Ivory handles
squar'd cost 4_s._ 6_d._" In 1738 Peter Fanueil ordered one dozen silver
forks from England, "with three prongs, with my arms cut upon them, made
very neat and handsome." One Boston citizen had in 1719 six four-pronged
forks, an early example of that fashion. In 1737 shagreen cases with
ivory-handled forks were advertised; bone, japanned metal, wood, and
horn handles also appeared--all, of course, with metal prongs. Sir
Francis Bernard had in 1770 three cases of china-handled knives and
forks, "with spoons to each," which must have formed a pretty table

In many New England inventories of the seventeenth century, among
personal belongings, appears the word taster. Thus in 1659 Richard Webb,
of Boston, left by will "1 Silver Wine Taster;" and in 1673 John
Oxenbridge had "1 Siluer Taster with a funnel." A taster was apparently
a small cup. Larger drinking-cups of silver were called beakers, or
tankards, beer-bowls, or wine-bowls. These latter vessels were made also
of humbler metal. A sneaker was a small drinking-glass, used by moderate
drinkers--sneak-cups they were called.

The Pilgrims may have had a few mugs and jugs of coarse earthen ware. A
large invoice of Portuguese "road ware" was sent to the Maine settlers
in 1634, and proved thoroughly unsuitable and undurable; but probably no
china--not even Delft ware--came over on the Mayflower. For when the
Pilgrims made their night trip through the Delft-producing cities, no
such wares were seen on the tables of plebeian persons. Early mentions
of china are in the estate of President John Davenport in 1648--"Cheney
£5," and of Martha Coteymore in 1647.

Earthen ware, Green ware, Lisbon ware, Spanish platters, are mentioned
in early inventories; but I am sure neither china ware nor earthen ware
was plentiful in early days; nor was china much known till Revolutionary

The table furnishings of the New England planters consisted largely of
wooden trenchers, and these trenchers were employed for many years.
Sometimes they were simply square blocks of wood whittled out by hand.
From a single trencher two persons--two children, or a man and wife--ate
their meals. It was a really elegant household that furnished a trencher
apiece for each diner. Trenchers were of quite enough account to be left
by name in early wills, even in those of wealthy colonists. In 1689 "2
Spoons and 2 Trenchers" were appraised at six shillings. Miles Standish
left twelve wooden trenchers when he died. Many gross of them were
purchased for use at Harvard College. As late as May, 1775, I find
"Wooden Trenchers" advertised among table furnishings, in the
_Connecticut Courant_.

It was the same in Old England. J. Ward, writing in 1828 of the
"Potter's Art," spoke thus of the humble boards of his youth:

    "And there the trencher commonly was seen
     With its attendant ample platter treen."

Until almost our own time trenchers were made in Vermont of the white,
clean, hard wood of the poplar-tree, and were sold and used in country
homes. Old wooden trenchers may be seen in Deerfield Memorial Hall.
Bottles, noggins, cups, and lossets (flat dishes) of wood were also used
at colonial boards.

The time when America was settled was the era when pewter ware had begun
to take the place of wooden ware, just as the time of the Revolutionary
War may be assigned to mark the victory of porcelain over pewter.

A set of pewter platters, or chargers and dishes, made what was called a
"garnish" of pewter, and were a source of great pride to every colonial
housewife, and much time and labor were devoted to polishing them until
they shone like silver. Dingy pewter was fairly accounted a disgrace.
The most accomplished Virginian gentleman of his day gave as a positive
rule, in 1728, that "Pewter Bright" was the sign of a good housekeeper.

The trade of pewterer was a very influential and respectable one in New
England as well as Old England. One of Boston's richest merchants, Henry
Shrimpton, made large quantities of pewter ware for the Massachusetts
colonists. So proud was he of his business that in his later years of
opulence he had a great kettle atop of his house, to indicate his past
trade and means of wealth. Pewter and pewterers abounded until the vast
increase of Oriental commerce brought the influx of Chinese porcelain to
drive out the dull metal. Advertisements of pewter table utensils did
not disappear, however, in New England newspapers until this century.

A universal table furnishing was--

    "The porringers that in a row
     Hung high and made a glittering show."

When not in use porringers were hung by their pierced handles on hooks
on the edge of the dresser-shelf, and, being usually of polished pewter
or silver, indeed made a glittering show. Pewter porringers were highly
prized. One family, in 1660, had seven, and another housewife boasted of
nine. They were bequeathed in nearly all the early colonial wills. In
1673 John Oxenbridge left three silver porringers and his wife one
silver pottinger; but pewter was the favorite metal. I do not find
porringers ever advertised under that name in New England papers, though
many were made as late as this century by New Haven, Providence, and
Boston pewterers. Many bearing the stamps of these manufacturers have
been preserved until the present day, seeming to have escaped the
sentence of destruction apparently passed on other pewter utensils and
articles of table-ware. Perhaps they have been saved because the
little, shallow, graceful dishes, with flat pierced handle on one side,
are really so pretty. The fish-tail handles are found on Dutch pewter.
Silver porringers were made by all the silversmiths. Many still exist
bearing the stamp of one honored maker, Paul Revere. Little earthen
porringers of red pottery and tortoise-shell ware are also found, but
are not plentiful.

A similar vessel, frequently handleless, was what was spelt, in various
colonial documents, posned, possnet, posnett, porsnet, pocneit, posnert,
possenette, postnett, and parsnett. It is derived from the Welsh
_posned_, a porringer or little dish. In 1641 Edward Skinner left a
"Postnett" by will; this was apparently of pewter. In 1653 Governor
Haynes, of Hartford, left an "Iron Posnet" by will. In the inventory of
the estate of Robert Daniel, of Cambridge, in 1655, we learn that "a
Little Porsenett" of his was worth five shillings. In 1693 Governor
Caleb Carr, of Providence, bequeathed to his wife a "silver possnet &
the cover belonging to it." By these records we see that posnets were of
various metals, and sometimes had covers. I have found no advertisements
of them in early American newspapers, even with all their varied array
of utensils and vessels. I fancy the name fell quickly into disuse in
this country. In Steele's time, in the _Tatler_, he speaks of "a silver
Posnet to butter eggs." I have heard the tiny little shallow pewter
porringers, about two or three inches in diameter, with pierced handles,
which are still found in New England, called posnets. They were in
olden times used to heat medicine and to serve pap to infants. I have
also been told that these little porringers were not posnets, but simply
the samples of work made by apprentices in the pewterer's trade to show
their skill and proficiency.

Tin vessels were exceedingly rare in the seventeenth century, either for
table furnishings or for cooking utensils, and far from common in the
succeeding one. John Wynter, of Richmond's Island, Maine, had a
"tinninge basson & a tinninge platter" in 1638. In 1662 Isaac Willey, of
New London, had "Tynen Pans & 1 Tynen Quart Pott;" and Zerubbabel
Endicott, of Salem, had a "great tyn candlestick." By 1729, when
Governor Burnet's effects were sold, we read of kitchen utensils of tin.

I do not think iron was in high favor among the colonists as a material
for household utensils. It was not an iron age. They had iron pans,
candlesticks, dishes, fire-dogs, and pots: the latter vessels were
traded for vast and valuable tracts of land with the simple red men; but
iron was not vastly in use. At an early date iron-foundries were
established throughout New England, with, however, varying success.

Latten ware, which was largely composed of brass, appeared in various
useful forms for table and culinary appointments. Hard-metal was a
superior sort of pewter. Prince's metal (so called from Prince Rupert),
a fine brass alloyed with copper and arsenicum, is occasionally named.

Leather, strangely enough, was also used on the table in the form of
bottles and drinking cups and jacks, which were pitchers or jugs of
waxed leather, much used in ale-houses in the fourteenth and fifteenth
century, and whose employment gave rise to the belief of the French that
Englishmen drank their ale out of their boots. Endicott received of
Winthrop one leathern jack worth one shilling and sixpence. I find
leathern jacks, bottles, and cups named among the property of
Connecticut colonists.

Nearly all the glass ware of the eighteenth century was of inferior
quality, full of bubbles and defects. It was frequently fluted. Many
pieces have been preserved that have been painted in vitrifiable colors,
the designs are crude, the colors red, yellow, blue, and occasionally
black or green. The transparent glass thus painted is said to be of
Dutch manufacture. The opalized glass similarly decorated is Spanish.
Drinking-glasses or flip-mugs seem to have been most common, or, at any
rate, most largely preserved. The tradition attached to all the pieces
of Spanish glass which I have found in New England homes is that they
came from the Barbadoes. Bristol glass also was painted in colors, and
came to this country, being advertised in the _Boston News-Letter_.

Glass bottles were frequently left by will in early days, being rare and
valuable; but by newspaper days glass was imported in various shapes,
and soon was plentiful enough. In 1773 we find this advertisement:

     "Very rich Cut Glass Candlesticks, cut Glass sugar Boxes & Cream
     Potts, Wine, Wine & Water, and Beer Glasses with cut shanks, Jelly
     & Syllabub Glasses, Glass Salvers, also Cyder Glasses, Free Mason
     Glasses, Orange & Top Glasses, Glass Cans, Glass Cream Buckets and
     Crewits, Royal Arch Mason Glasses, Glass Pyramids with Jelly
     Glasses, Globe & Barrel Lamps, Double Flynt Wyn Glasses," &c.

The most curious glass relics that are preserved are the flip-glasses or
bumper-glasses; they are tumbler-shaped, and are frequently engraved or
fluted. Some hold over a gallon.

The names of table furnishings varied somewhat in the eighteenth
century. There were milk-pots, milk-ewers, milk-jugs, ere there were
milk-pitchers; sugar-boxes, sugar-pots, sugar-basins, ere there were
sugar-bowls; spoon-boats and spoon-basins ere there were spoon-holders.
Terrines were imported about 1750. There were pickle-dishes and
pickle-boats, twifflers, mint-stands and vegetable-basins.

One other appurtenance of a dining-room is found in all early
inventories--a voider. Pewter voiders abounded and were advertised in
newspapers, as were wicker and china voiders in 1740. The functions of a
voider were somewhat those of a crumb-tray. They are thus given in Hugh
Rhodes's "Boke of Nurture" in 1577:

    "Wyth bones & voyd morsels fyll not thy trenchour, my friend, full
    Avoyd them into a Voyder, no man will it anull.
    When meate is taken quyte awaye and Voyders in presence
    Put you your trenchour in the same and all your resydence.
    Take you with your napkin & knyfe the croms that are fore thee
    In the Voyder your Napkin leave for it is curtesye."



There is a tradition of short commons, usually extending even to stories
of starvation, in the accounts of all early settlements in new lands,
and the records of the Pilgrims show no exception to the rule. These
early planters went through a fiery furnace of affliction. The beef and
pork brought with them became tainted, "their butter and cheese
corrupted, their fish rotten." A scarcity of food lasted for three
years, and there was little variety of fare, yet they were cheerful.
Brewster, when he had naught to eat but clams, gave thanks that he was
"permitted to suck of the abundance of the seas and the treasures hid in
the sands." Cotton Mather says that Governor Winthrop, of the Bay
settlement, was giving to a poor neighbor the last meal from his chest,
when it was announced that the food-bearing Lion had arrived. The
General Court thereat changed an appointed Fast Day to a Thanksgiving
Day. By tradition--still commemorated at Forefathers' Dinner--the ration
of Indian corn supplied to each person was at one time but five kernels.

Still there was always plenty of fish--the favorite food of the
English--and Squanto taught the colonists various Indian methods of
catching the "treasures of the sea." With oysters and lobsters they were
far from starvation. Higginson said of the latter shellfish, in 1630,
"the least boy in the Plantation may both catch and eat what he will of
them." He says that lobsters were caught weighing twenty-five pounds
each, and that the abundance of other fish was beyond believing.
Josselyn, in his "New England Rarities," enumerated two hundred and
three varieties of fish; yet Tuckerman calls his list "a poor
makeshift." The planters had plenty of implements with which to catch
fish--"vtensils of the sea"--"quoils of rope and cable, rondes of twine,
herring nets, seans, cod-lines and cod hookes, mackrill-lines, drails,
spiller hooks, mussel-hooks, mackrill hooks, barbels, splitting knives,
sharks hookes, basse-nettes, pues and gaffs, squid lines, yeele pots,"
&c. Josselyn also tells some very pretty ways of cooking fish,
especially eels with herbs, showing that, like Poins, the colonists
loved conger and fennel. Eels were roasted, fried, and boiled. Boiled
"eals" were thus prepared:

"Boil them in half water half wine with the bottom of a manchet, a fagot
of Parsly and a little Winter Savory, when they are boiled they take
them out and break the bread in the broth and put in two or three
spoonfuls of yest and a piece of sweet butter, pour to the eals laid
upon sippets." Another way beloved by him was to stuff the eels with
nutmeg and cloves, stick them with cloves, cook in wine, place on a
chafing-dish, and garnish with lemons. This rich dish is somewhat
overclouded by his suggestion that the eels be arranged in a wreath.

The frequent references to eels in early accounts prove that they were
regarded, as Izaak Walton said, "a very dainty fish, the queen of

Next to fish, the early colonists found in Indian corn, or "Guinny
wheat"--"Turkie wheat" one traveller called it--their most unfailing
food-supply. Our first native poet wrote, in 1675, of what he called
early days:

              "The dainty Indian maize,
    Was eat with clamp-shells out of wooden trays."

Its abundance and adaptability did much to change the nature of their
diet as well as to save them from starvation. The colonists learned from
the Indians how to plant, nourish, harvest, grind, and cook it in many
Indian ways, and in each way it formed a palatable food. The Indian
pudding which they ate so constantly was made in Indian fashion and
boiled in a bag. To the mush of Indian meal they gave the English name
of hasty-pudding. Many of the foods made from maize retained the names
given in the aboriginal tongues, such as hominy, suppawn, pone, samp,
succotash; and doubtless the manner of cooking is wholly Indian.
Hoe-cakes and ash-cakes were made by the squaws long before the landing
of the Pilgrims. Roasting ears of green corn were made the foundation of
a solemn Indian feast and also of a planters' frolic. It is curious to
read Winthrop's careful explanation, that when corn is parched it turns
entirely inside out, and is "white and floury within;" and to think that
there ever was a time when pop-corn was a novelty to white children in
New England.

Wood said that _sukquttahhash_ was "seethed like beanes." Roger Williams
said that "_nassaump_, which the English call Samp, is Indian corne
beaten & boil'd and eaten hot or cold with milke or butter and is a diet
exceeding wholesome for English bodies." _Nocake_, or _nokick_, Wood, in
his "New England Prospects," thus defines: "Indian corn parched in the
hot ashes, the ashes being sifted from it, it is afterward beaten to
powder and put into a long leatherne bag trussed at their back like a
knapsacke, out of which they take thrice three spoonsfulls a day." It
was held to be wonderfully sustaining food in most condensed form. It
was carried in a pouch, on long journeys, and mixed before eating with
snow in winter and water in summer. Jonne-cake, or journey-cake, was
also made from maize. For years the colonists pounded the corn in stone
mortars, as did the Indians; then in wooden mortars with pestles. Then
rude hand-mills were made--"quernes"--with upright shafts fixed
immovably at the upper end, and fastened at the lower end near the
outside edge of a flat, circular stone, which was made to revolve in a
mortar. By turning the shaft with one hand, the corn could be supplied
to the grinding-stone with the other. These hand-mills are sometimes
still found in use as "samp-mills." Wind-mills and water-mills followed
naturally in the train of the hand-mills.

Wheat but little availed for food in early days, being frequently
blighted. Oats were raised in considerable quantity, a pill-corn or
peel-corn or sil-pee variety. Josselyn, writing in 1671, gives a New
England dish, which he says is as good as whitpot, made of oatmeal,
sugar, spice, and a "pottle of milk;" a pottle was two quarts. At a
somewhat later date the New Hampshire settlers had a popular oatmeal
porridge, in which the oatmeal was sifted, left in water, and allowed to
sour, then boiled to a jelly, and was called "sowens." It is still eaten
in Northumberland.

By the strict laws made to govern bakers and the number of bake-shops
that were licensed, and the sharp punishments for baking short weight,
etc., it seems plain that New England housewives did little home baking
in early days. The bread was doubtless of many kinds, as in
England--simnels, cracknels, jannacks, cheat loaves, cocket-bread,
wastel-bread, manchet, and buns. Pure wheaten loaves were not largely
used as food--bread from corn meal dried quickly; hence rye meal was
mixed with the corn, and "rye 'n' Injun" bread was everywhere eaten.

To the other bountiful companion food of corn, pumpkins, the colonists
never turned very readily. Pompions they called them in "the times
wherein old Pompion was a saint." Johnson, in his "Wonder-Working
Providence," reproved them for making a jest of pumpkins, since they
were so good and unfailing a food--"a fruit which the Lord fed his
people with till corn and cattle increased."

    "We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
     If it were not for pumpkins we should be undone."

Pompions, and what Higginson called squantersquashes, Josselyn
squontersquoshes, Roger Williams askutasquashes, Wood isquoukersquashes,
and we clip to squashes, grew in vast plenty. The Indians dried the
pompions on strings for winter use, as is still done in New England farm
communities. Madam Knight had them frequently offered to her on her
journey--"pumpkin sause" and "pumpkin bred." "We would have eat a morsel
ourselves, but the Pumpkin & Indian-mixt bread had such an Aspect."
Pumpkin bread is made in Connecticut to this day. For pumpkin "sause" we
have a two-centuries-old receipt, which was given by Josselyn, in 1671,
in his "New England Rarities," and called by him even at that day "an
Ancient New England Standing-dish."

     "The Housewives manner is to slice them when ripe and cut them into
     Dice, and so fill a pot with them of two or three Gallons and stew
     them upon a gentle fire the whole day. And as they sink they fill
     again with fresh Pompions not putting any liquor to them and when
     it is stir'd enough it will look like bak'd Apples, this Dish
     putting Butter to it and a little Vinegar with some Spice as Ginger
     which makes it tart like an Apple, and so serve it up to be eaten
     with fish or flesh."

This must be a very good "sause," and a very good receipt when once it
is clear to your mind which of them--the housewives or the
pompions--sink and are to fill and be filled in a pot, and stirred and
stewed and put liquor to.

In an old book which I own, which was used by many generations of New
England cooks, I find this "singular good" rule to make a "Pumpion Pye:"

     "Take about halfe a pound of Pumpion and slice it, a handful of
     Tyme, a little Rosemary, Parsley and Sweet Marjoram slipped off the
     stalkes, and chop them smal, then take Cinamon, Nutmeg, Pepper, and
     six Cloves and beat them, take ten Eggs and beat them, then mix
     them, and beat them altogether, and put in as much Sugar as you
     think fit, then fry them like a froiz, after it is fryed, let it
     stand til it be cold, then fill your Pye, take sliced Apples thinne
     rounde-wayes, and lay a row of the Froiz and layer of Apples with
     Currans betwixt the layer while your Pye is fitted, and put in a
     good deal of sweet butter before you close it, when the pye is
     baked take six yelks of Eggs, some White-wine or Vergis, and make a
     Caudle of this, but not too thicke, cut up the Lid and put it in,
     stir them wel together whilst the Eggs and Pompions be not
     perceived and so serve it up."

I am sure there would be no trouble about the pompions being perceived,
and I can fancy the modest half-pound of country vegetable blushing a
deeper orange to find its name given to this ambitious and
compound-sentenced concoction which helped to form part of the "simple
diet of the good old times." I have found no modern cook bold enough to
"prove" (as the book says) this pumpion pie; but hope, if any one
understands it, she will attempt it.

Potatoes were on the list of seeds, fruits, and vegetables that were
furnished to the Massachusetts Bay colonists in 1628, and fifteen tons
(which were probably sweet potatoes) were imported from Bermuda in 1636
and sold in Boston at twopence a pound. Winthrop wrote of "potatose" in
1683. Their cultivation was rare. There is a tradition that the Irish
settlers at Londonderry, N. H., began the first systematic planting of
potatoes. At the Harvard Commencement dinner, in 1708, potatoes were on
the list of supplies. A crop of eight bushels, which one Hadley farmer
had in 1763, was large--too large, since "if a man ate them every day he
could not live beyond seven years." Indeed, the "gallant root of
potatoes" was regarded as a sort of forbidden fruit--a root more than
suspected of being an over-active aphrodisiac, and withal so wholly
abandoned as not to have been mentioned in the Bible; and when Parson
Jonathan Hubbard, of Sheffield, raised twenty bushels in one year, it is
said he came very near being dealt with by his church for his wicked
hardihood. In more than one town the settlers fancied the balls were the
edible portion, and "did not much desire them." Nor were fashionable
methods of cooking them much more to be desired. In "The Accomplisht
Cook," used about the year 1700, potatoes were ordered to be boiled and
blanched; seasoned with nutmeg, cinnamon, and pepper; mixed with eringo
roots, dates, lemon, and whole mace; covered with butter, sugar, and
grape verjuice, made with pastry; then iced with rose-water and sugar,
and yclept a "Secret Pye." Alas, poor, ill-used, be-sugared, secreted
potato, fit but for kissing-comfits! we can well understand your

Other vegetables were produced in New England in abundance. Higginson
speaks of green peas, turnips, parsnips, carrots, and cucumbers, and a
dozen fruits and berries. Cranberries were plentiful and soon were
exported to England. Josselyn gives a very full list of fruits and
vegetables and pot-herbs, including beans, which were baked by the
Indians in earthen pots as they are now in Boston bake-shops.

There was a goodly supply of game. Bradford wrote of the year 1621,
"beside waterfoule ther was great store of wild Turkies." Wood said
these turkeys sometimes weighed forty pounds apiece, and sold for four
shillings each. Josselyn assigned to them the enormous weight of sixty
pounds. All agreed that they were far superior to the English domestic
turkeys. Morton said they came in flocks of a hundred; yet the Winthrops
had great difficulty in getting two to breed from in 1683, and by 1690
it was rare to see a wild turkey in New England. The beautiful great
bronze birds had flown away from the white man's civilization and guns.

Flocks of thousands of geese took their noisy, graceful V-shaped flight
over New England, and were shot in large numbers. Dudley wrote home
that doves were so plentiful that they obscured the light. Josselyn said
he had bought in Boston a dozen pigeons all dressed for threepence. It
is said they were sometimes sold as low as a penny a dozen. Roger Clap
said it would have been counted a strange thing in early days to see a
piece of roast veal, beef, or mutton, though it was not long ere there
was roast goat. By 1684 a French refugee said beef, mutton, and pork
were but twopence a pound in Boston. Clap says he ate his samp, or
hominy, without butter or milk, but Higginson wrote in 1630, and Morton
in 1624, that they had a quart of milk for a penny. John Cotton said
ministers and milk were the only things cheap in New England.

By Johnson's time New Englanders had "Apple, Pear and Quince Tarts
instead of their former Pumpkin Pies." They had besides apple-tarts,
apple mose, apple slump, mess apple-pies, buttered apple-pies, apple
crowdy and puff apple-pies--all differing.

Josselyn said the "Quinces, Cherries, & Damsins set the Dames a-work.
Marmalet & Preserved Damsins is to be met with in every house." Skill in
preserving was ever an English-woman's pride, and New-English women did
not forget the lessons learned in their "faire English homes." They made
preserves and conserves, marmalets and quiddonies, hypocras and
household wines, usquebarbs and cordials. They candied fruits and made
syrups. They preserved everything that would bear preserving. I have
seen old-time receipts for preserving quinces, "respasse," pippins,
"apricocks," plums, "damsins," peaches, oranges, lemons, artichokes,
green walnuts, elecampane roots, eringo roots, grapes, barberries,
cherries; receipts for syrup of clove gillyflower, wormwood, mint,
aniseed, clove, elder, lemons, marigolds, citron, hyssop, liquorice;
receipts for conserves of roses, violets, borage flowers, rosemary,
betony, sage, mint, lavender, marjoram, and "piony;" rules for candying
fruit, berries, and flowers, for poppy water, cordial, cherry water,
lemon water, thyme water, Angelica water, Aqua Mirabilis, Aqua
C[oe]lestis, clary water, mint water.

No wonder a profession of preserving sprung up. By 1731 we find
advertised in June in the _Boston News Letter_, "At Widow Bonyots All
Sorts of Fruits in Preserves Jellys and Surrups. Egg Cakes, All sorts of
Macaroons, Marchepane Crisp Almonds. All sorts Conserves, Also Meat
Jellys for the sick."

We can see plainly by these statements that New England was no
Nidderland. Even in Josselyn's day he wrote, "they have not forgotten
the English fashion of stirring up their appetites with variety of
cooking their food." The pages of Judge Sewall's diary give many hints
of his daily fare. He speaks of "boil'd Pork, boil'd Pigeons, boil'd
Bacon and boil'd Venison; rost Beef, rost Lamb, rost Fowls, rost Turkey,
pork and beans;" "Frigusee of Fowls," "Joll of Salmon," "Oysters, Fish
and Oyl, conners, Legg of Pork, hogs Cheek and souett; pasty, bread and
butter; Minc'd Pye, Aplepy, tarts, gingerbread, sugar'd almonds, glaz'd
almonds;" honey, curds and cream, sage cheese, green pease, barley,
"Yokhegg in milk, chockolett, figgs," oranges, shattucks, apples,
quinces, strawberries, cherries, and raspberries; a very fair list of

"Yokhegg" is probably "yeokheag," a name for Indian corn, parched and
pounded into meal, a name by which it was known for many years in
Eastern Connecticut.

Sewall was a very valiant trencher-man. He records with much zest going
down the Bay to an island, or riding to Roxbury for an outing and
dinner, and coming home in "brave moonshine." And, like his neighbor,
Cotton Mather, he drew many a spiritual lesson from the food set before
him; especially, however, at a scambling meal, or at any repast which he
ate alone, and hence had naught and no one to divert therefrom his
ever-religious thoughts.

From a curious account of Boston, written by a traveller named Bennet,
in the year 1740, we take the following statements of the cost of food

     "Their poultry of all sorts are as fine as can be desired, and they
     have plenty of fine fish of various kinds, all of which are very
     cheap. Take the butchers' meat all together, in every season of the
     year, I believe it is about twopence per pound sterling; the best
     beef and mutton, lamb and veal are often sold for sixpence per
     pound of New England money, which is some small matter more than
     one penny sterling.

     "Poultry in their season are exceeding cheap. As good a turkey may
     be bought for about two shillings sterling as we can buy in London
     for six or seven, and as fine a goose for tenpence as would cost
     three shillings and sixpence or four shillings in London. The
     cheapest of all the several kinds of poultry are a sort of wild
     pigeon, which are in season the latter end of June, and so continue
     until September. They are large, and finer than those we have in
     London, and are sold here for eighteenpence a dozen, and sometimes
     for half of that.

     "Fish, too, is exceeding cheap. They sell a fine fresh cod that
     will weigh a dozen pounds or more, just taken out of the sea, for
     about twopence sterling. They have smelts, too, which they sell as
     cheap as sprats are in London. Salmon, too, they have in great
     plenty, and those they sell for about a shilling apiece, which will
     weigh fourteen or fifteen pounds.

     "They have venison very plenty. They will sell as fine a haunch for
     half a crown as would cost full thirty shillings in England. Bread
     is much cheaper than we have in England, but is not near so good.
     Butter is very fine and cheaper than ever I bought any in London;
     the best is sold all summer for threepence a pound. But as for
     cheese, it is neither cheap nor good."

I am somewhat surprised at Bennet's dictum with regard to cheese, and
can only feel that he had special ill fortune in choosing his
cheesemonger. For certainly the Rhode Island cheese, made from the rich
milk of the great herds of choice cows that dotted the fertile and sunny
fields of old Narragansett, was sent to England and the Barbadoes in
great quantity, and commanded special prices there. Brissot said it was
equal to the "best Cheshire of England or Rocfort of France." This
cheese was made from a receipt for Cheshire cheese which was brought to
Narragansett by Richard Smith's wife in the seventeenth century: and her
home is still standing, though built around, at Cocumcussett, where her
husband and Roger Williams founded a colony.

We have a very distinct rendering of the items of family expense,
chiefly of food, at about that time, given us by a contemporary
authority, and bequeathed to us in a letter to the _Boston News Letter_
of November 28, 1728. The writer refers to other "scheams of expence"
for a household which have been made public, one apparently being at the
rate of £250 a year for the entire outlay. This sum he thinks inadequate
and "disproves in a moment." He gives his own careful estimate of the
cost of keeping a family of eight persons. It is computed for "Families
of Midling Figure who bear the Character of being Genteel," and reads

  "For Diet. For one Person a Day.

    1 Breakfast 1_d._ a Pint of Milk 2d                           .03

    2 Dinner. Pudding Bread Meat Roots Pickles Vinegar
        Salt & Cheese                                             .09

  N.B. In this article of the Dinner I would include
    all the Raisins Currants Suet Flour Eggs Cranberries
    Apples & where there are children all their Intermeal
    Eatings throughout the whole Year. And I think a Gentleman
    cannot well Dine his family at a lower Rate than this.

    3 Supper As the Breakfast                                     .03

    4 Small Beer for the Whole Day Winter & Summer.              1-1/2

  N.B. In this article of the Beer I would likewise
    include all the Molasses used in the Family not
    only in Brewing but on other Occasions.

  For one Person a Day in all                            1_s._ 4-1/2_d._

  For Whole Family                                      11_s._

  For the Whole Family 365 days                    £200 15_s._

  For Butter, 2 Firkins at 68 lb. apiece, 16_d._   £  9  1_s._
       a lb.

  For Sugar. Cannot be less than 10_s._ a Month or
      4 weeks especially when there are children.  £  6 10_s._

  For Candles but 3 a Night Summer & Winter
      for Ordinary & Extraordinary occasions at
      15_d._ for 9 in the lb.                      £  7 12_s._ .01

  For Sand 20_s._ Soap 40_s._ Washing Once in 4
      weeks at 3_s._ a time with 3 Meals a Day at
      2_s._more                                    £  6  5_s._

  For One Maids Wages                              £ 10

  For Shoes after the Rate of each 3 Pair in a
      year at 9_s._ a Pair for 7 Persons, the Maid
      finding her own                              £  9 09_s._
  In all                                           £249 12_s._ 5_d._

  No House Rents Mentioned Nor Buying Carting Pyling or Sawing Firewood
  No Coffee Tea nor Chocolate
  No Wine nor Cyder nor any other Spirituous Liquor
  No Pipes Tobacco Spice nor Sweetmeats
  No Hospitality or Occasional Entertaining either Gentlemen Strangers
      Relatives or Friends
  No Acts of Charity nor Contributions for Pious Uses
  No Pocket Expenses either for Horse Hire Travelling or Convenient
  No Postage for Letters or Numberless other Occasions
  No Charges of Nursing
  No Schooling for Children
  No Buying of Books of any Sort or Pens Ink & Paper
  No Lyings In
  No Sickness, Nothing to Apothecary or Doctor
  No Buying Mending or Repairing Household Stuff or Utensils
  Nothing to the Simstress nor to the Taylor nor to the Barber,
      nor to the Hatter nor to the Shopkeeper & Therefore no Cloaths."

Certainly we gain from this "scheam" a very clear notion of the style of
living of this genteel Boston family.

There is, of course, no possibility of exactly picturing the serving of
a meal in early days; but one peculiarity is known of the dinner--the
pudding came first. Hence the old saying, "I came in season--in
pudding-time." In an account of a Sunday dinner given at the house of
John Adams, as late as 1817, the first course was a pudding of Indian
corn, molasses, and butter; the second, veal, bacon, neck of mutton, and

For many years the colonists "dined exact at noon," and on farms even
half an hour earlier. On Saturday all ate fish for dinner. Judge Sewall
frequently speaks of his Saturday dinner of fish. Fish days had been
prescribed by the King in England, in order that the fisheries might not
fail of support, as was feared on account of the increased consumption
of meat induced by the reformation in religion. New Englanders loyally
followed the mandate, but ate cod-fish on Saturdays, since the Papists
ate fish on Fridays.

One very pleasant and friendly custom that existed among these kindly
New England neighbors must be spoken of in passing. It is thus indicated
by Judge Sewall when he writes, in 1723, of Mr. and Mrs. Belcher, "my
wife sent them a taste of her Diner." It appeared to be a recompensing
fashion, if invited guests were unable to partake of the dinner
festivities, or if neighbors were ill, for the hostess to send a
"taste" of all her viands to console them for their deprivation. This
truly homely and neighborly custom lingered long in old New England
families under the very descriptive title of "cold party;" indeed it
lingers still in old-fashioned towns and in old-fashioned families.

In earlier days when a noble dinner seemed to be the form of domestic
pleasure next in enjoyment to a funeral, a "taste of the dinner" was
truly a most honorable attention, and a most pleasing one.



The English settlers who peopled our colonies were a beer-drinking and
ale-drinking race--as Shakespeare said, they were "potent in potting."
None of the hardships they had to endure in the first bitter years of
their new life caused them more annoyance than their deprivation of
their beloved malt liquors. This deprivation began even at the very
landing. They were forced to depend on the charity of the ship-masters
for a draught of beer on board ship, drinking nothing but water ashore.
Bradford, the Pilgrim Governor, complained loudly and frequently of his
distress, while Higginson, the Salem minister, accommodated himself more
readily and cheerfully to his changed circumstances, and boasted
quaintly in 1629, "Whereas my stomach could only digest and did require
such drink as was both strong and stale, I can and ofttimes do drink New
England water very well." As Higginson died in a short time, his boast
of his improved health and praise of the unwonted beverage does not
carry the force intended. Another early chronicler, Roger Clap, writes
that it was "not accounted a strange thing in those days to drink
water," and it was stated that Winthrop drank it ordinarily. Wood, in
his "New England Prospects," says of New England water, "I dare not
preferre it before good Beere as some have done, but any man would
choose it before Bad Beere, Wheay or Buttermilk." It was also praised as
being "farr different from the water of England, being not so sharp, but
of a fatter substance, and of a more jettie colour; it is thought there
can be no better water in the world."

But their beerless state did not long continue, for the first luxury to
be brought to the new country was beer, and the colonists soon imported
malt and learned to make beer from the despised Indian corn, and
established breweries and made laws governing and controlling the
manufacture of ale and beer; for the pious Puritans quickly learned to
cheat in their brewing, using molasses and coarse sugar. Molasses beer
is frequently mentioned by Josselyn.

By 1634, when sixpence was the legal charge for a meal, an ale-quart of
beer could be bought for a penny, and a landlord was liable to ten
shillings fine if he made a greater charge, or his liquor fell below a
certain standard of quality. Perhaps this low price was established by
the crafty Puritan magistrates in order to prevent the possibility of
profit by beer-selling, and thereby reduce the number of sellers. It was
also ordered that not more than an ale-quart of beer should be drunk out
of meal-times. This was to prevent "bye-drinking." Josselyn complained
of the petty interference of the law in drinking, saying:

     "At the houses of entertainment called ordinaries into which a
     stranger went, he was presently followed by one appointed to that
     office who would thrust himself into his company uninvited, and if
     he called for more drink than the officer thought, in his judgment,
     he could soberly bear away, he would presently countermand it, and
     appoint the proportion beyond which he could not get one drop."

The ministers, also, who chanced to live within sight of the tavern, had
a very virtuous custom of watching the tavern door and all who entered
therein, and going over and "chiding them" if they remained too long
within the cheerful portals. With constables, deacons, the parson, and
that lab-o'-the-tongue--the tithing-man--each on the alert to keep every
one from drinking but himself, the Puritan had little chance to be a
toper an he would.

The colonists were fiercely intolerant of intemperance among the
Indians. Laws were made as early as 1633 prohibiting the sale of strong
waters to the "inflamed devilish bloudy salvages," and persons selling
liquor to them were sharply prosecuted and punished. New Yorkers thought
these laws over-severe, saying, deprecatingly, "to prohibit all strong
liquor to them seems very hard and very turkish, rumm doth as little
hurt as the ffrenchmans Brandie, and in the whole is much more
wholesome." But the Puritans knew of the horrors to be dreaded from
drunken Indians.

So plentiful had the sale of ale and beer become in 1675 that Cotton
Mather said every other house in Boston was an ale-house, and a century
later Governor Pownall made the same assertion. The Puritan magistrates
in New England made at a very early date a decided stand not only
against excessive drinking by strangers, but against the habit of
drunkenness in their citizens. Drunkards were in 1636, in Massachusetts,
subject to fine and imprisonment in the stocks, and sellers were
forbidden to furnish the tippler with any liquor thereafter. An habitual
drunkard was punished by having a great D made of "Redd Cloth" hung
around his neck, or sewed on his clothing, and he was disfranchised. In
1630 Governor Winthrop abolished the "Vain Custom" of drinking healths
at his table, and in 1639 the Court publicly ordered the cessation of
the practice because "it was a thing of no use, it induced drunkenness
and quarrelling, it wasted wine and beer and it was troublesome to many,
forcing them to drink more than they wished." A fine of twelve shillings
was imposed on each health-drinker. Cotton Mather, however, thought
health-drinking a usage of common politeness. In Connecticut no man
could drink over half a pint of wine at a time, or tipple over half an
hour, or drink at all at an ordinary after nine o'clock at night.

All these rigid laws had their effect, and New Englanders throughout the
seventeenth century were sober and law-abiding save in a few
communities, such as that at Merrymount, where "good chear went forward
and strong liquors walked." Boston was an especially orderly town.
Several visiting and resident clergymen testified that they had not seen
a drunken man in the Massachusetts Colony in many years. The following
quotation will show how rare was drunkenness and how abhorred. Judge
Sewall wrote in 1686:

     "Mr. Shrimpton and others came in a coach from Roxbury about nine
     o'clock or past, singing as they came, being inflamed with drink.
     At Justice Morgans they stop and drink healths and curse and swear
     to the great disturbance of the town and grief of good people. Such
     high handed wickedness has hardly before been heard of in Boston."

It is well to compare the orderly, decorous, well-protected existence in
Boston, with the conditions of town life in Old England at that same
date, where drunken young men of fashion under the name of Mohocks,
Scourers, Hectors, Muns, or Tityriti, prowled the streets abusing and
beating every man and woman they met--"sons of Belial flown with
insolence and wine;" where turbulent apprentices set upon those the
Mohocks chanced to spare; where duels and intrigues and gaming were the
order of the day; where foot-pads, highwaymen, and street ruffians
robbed unceasingly and with impunity. Life in New England may have been
dull and monotonous, but women could go through the streets in safety,
and Judge Sewall could stumble home alone in the dark from his
love-making without fear of molestation; and when he found a party of
young men singing and making too much noise in a tavern, he could go
among them uninsulted, and could get them to meekly write down their own
names with his "Pensil" for him to bring them up and fine them the next

Still, the Judge, though he hated noisy revellers, was no total
abstainer. He speaks of "grace cups" and "treating the Deputies," and
sent gifts of wine to his friends. I find in his diary references to
these drinks: Ale, beer, mead, metheglin, tea, chocolate, sage tea,
cider, wine, sillabub, claret, sack, canary, punch, sack-posset, and
black cherry brandy.

Sack, the drink of Shakespeare's day, beloved and praised of Falstaff,
was passing out of date in Sewall's time. Winthrop tells of four ships
coming into port in 1646 with eight hundred butts of sack on board. In
1634 ordinaries were forbidden to sell it, hence the sack found but a
poor market. Sack-posset was made of ale and sack, thickened with eggs
and cream, seasoned with nutmeg, mace, and sugar, then boiled on the
fire for hours, and made a "very pretty drink" for weddings and feasts.

Canary wine was imported at that time in large quantities. In the first
year's issue of the _News Letter_ were advertised "Fyall wine sold by
the Pipe; Passados & Right Canary." The Winthrops in their letters make
frequent mention of Canary, as also of "Vendredi" and "Palme Wine." Wait
Winthrop said the latter was better than Canary. Tent wine also was sent
to the colonists.

It is interesting to find that the sanguine settlers aspired, even in
bleak New England, to the home production of wine. "Vine planters" were
asked for the colony in 1629. The use of Governor's Island in
Massachusetts Bay was granted to Governor Winthrop in 1634 for a
vineyard, for an annual rental of a hogshead of wine, which at a later
date was changed to a yearly payment of two barrels of apples. The
French settlers also planted vineyards in Rhode Island.

Claret was not much loved by the planters, who had a taste for the sweet
sack. Morton tells that for his revellers he "broched a hogshead, caused
them to fill the Can with Lusty liquor--Claret sparklinge neat--which
was not suffered to grow pale & flat but tipled off with quick
dexterity." Mumm, a fat ale made of oat-malt and wheat-malt, appears
frequently in early importations and accounts. The sillabub of which
Sewall speaks was made with cider and was not boiled:

     "Fill your Sillabub Pot with Syder (for that is best for a
     Sillabub) and good store of Sugar and a little Nutmeg, stir it wel
     together, put in as much thick Cream by two or three spoonfuls at a
     time, as hard as you can as though you milke it in, then stir it
     together exceeding softly once about and let it stand two hours at

Other mild fermented drinks than beer were made and drunk in colonial
days in large quantities. Mead and metheglin, wherewith the Druids and
old English bards were wont to carouse, were made from water, honey, and
yeast. Here is an old receipt for the latter drink, which some colonists
pronounced as good as Malaga sack.

     "Take all sorts of Hearbs that are good and wholesome as Balme,
     Mint, Fennel, Rosemary, Angelica, wilde Tyme, Isop, Burnet,
     Egrimony, and such other as you think fit; some Field Hearbs, but
     you must not put in too many, but especially Rosemary or any Strong
     Hearb, lesse than halfe a handfull will serve of every sorte, you
     must boyl your Hearbs & strain them, and let the liquor stand till
     to Morrow and settle them, take off the clearest Liquor, two
     Gallons & a halfe to one Gallon of Honey, and that proportion as
     much as you will make, and let it boyle an houre, and in the
     boyling skim it very clear, then set it a cooling as you doe Beere,
     when it is cold take some very good Ale Barme and put into the
     bottome of the Tubb a little and a little as they do Beere, keeping
     back the thicke Setling that lyeth in the bottome of the Vessel
     that it is cooled in, and when it is all put together cover it with
     a Cloth and let it worke very neere three dayes, and when you mean
     to put it up, skim off all the Barme clean, put it up into the
     Vessel, but you must not stop your Vessel very close in three or
     four dayes but let it have all the vent, for it will worke and when
     it is close stopped you must looke very often to it and have a peg
     in the top to give it vent, when you heare it make a noise as it
     will do, or else it will breake the Vessell; sometime I make a bag
     and put in good store of Ginger sliced, some Cloves and Cinnamon
     and boyl it in, and other time I put it into the Barrel and never
     boyl it, it is both good, but Nutmeg & Mace do not well to my

In the list of values fixed by the Piscataqua planters in 1633, "6
Gallons Mathaglin were equal to 2 lb. Beauer." In the middle of the
century metheglin was worth ten shillings a barrel in the Connecticut

Though mild, these drinks were intoxicating. One could "get fox'd e'en
with foolish matheglin." Old James Howel says, "metheglin does stupefy
more than any other liquor if taken immoderately and keeps a humming in
the brain which made one say he loved not metheglin because he was wont
to speak too much of the house he came from, meaning the hive."

Bradford tells of backsliders from Merrymount who "abased themselves
disorderly with drinking too much stronge drinke aboard the
Freindshipp." This strong drink was metheglin, of which two hogsheads
were to be delivered at Plymouth. But after it was transferred to wooden
"flackets" in Boston, these Friendship merrymakers contrived to "drinke
it up under the name leackage" till but six gallons of the metheglin
arrived at Plymouth.

"Cyder famed" was made at an early date from the fruitful apple-trees so
faithfully planted by Endicott, Blackstone, and other settlers. Cider
was cheap enough; Josselyn wrote, "I have had at the tap houses of
Boston an ale-quart of cyder spiced and sweetened with sugar, for a

This was not the New England nectar or Passada which he praised so
highly and which was thus made--

     "Take of Malligo Raisins, stamp them and put milk to them and put
     them to a Hippocras Bag and let it drain out of itself and put a
     quantity of this with a spoonful or two of Syrup of Clove
     Gilly-flowers into every bottle when you bottle your Syder, and
     your Planter will have a liquor that exceeds Passada, the Nectar of
     the Country."

Cider was made at first by pounding the apples by hand in wooden
mortars; sometimes the pomace was pressed in baskets. Rude mills were
then formed with a hollowed log, and a heavy weight or maul on a
spring-board. Cider soon became the common drink of the people, and it
was made in vast quantities. In 1671 five hundred hogsheads were made of
one orchard's produce. One village of forty families made three thousand
barrels in 1721. Bennet wrote in 1740, "Cider being cheap and the people
used to it they do not encourage malt liquors. They pay about three
shillings a barrel for cider." It was freely used even by the children
at breakfast, as well as at dinner, up to the end of the first quarter
of the present century, when many zealous followers so eagerly embraced
the new temperance reform that they cut down whole orchards of thriving
apple-trees, conceiving no possibility of the general use of the fruit
for food instead of drink.

Charles Francis Adams says that "to the end of John Adams's life a large
tankard of hard cider was his morning draught before breakfast."

Cider was supplied in large amounts to students at college at dinner and
"bever," being passed in two two-quart tankards from hand to hand down
the commons table. It was given liberally to all travellers and
wanderers who chanced to stop at the farmer's door; to all workmen and
farm laborers; and an "Indian barrel," whose contents were for free gift
to every tramp Indian or squaw, was found in many a farmer's cellar.

A traveller in Maine just after the Revolution said that their cider was
purified by the frost, colored with corn, and looked and tasted like

Beverige also was drunk by the colonists. This name was applied to
various mild and watery drinks. In the West Indies the juice of the
sugar-cane mixed with water was so called. In Devonshire, water which
had been pressed through the lees of a cider-mill was called beverige.
In other parts of England water, cider, and spices formed beverige. In
New England the concoction varied, but was uniformly innocuous and
weak--the colonial prototype of our modern "temperance drinks." In many
country houses a summer drink of water flavored with molasses and ginger
was called beverige. The advertisement in the _Boston News Letter_,
August 16th, 1711, of the sale of the captured Neptune with her lading,
at the warehouse of Andrew Fanueil, had "Wine, Vinegar and Beveridge" on
the list. This must have been stronger stuff than molasses and water, to
have been worth barrelling and sending across the water.

Switchel was a drink similar to beverige, but when served out to sailors
was strengthened by a little vinegar and rum. The name was commonly used
in New Hampshire and central Massachusetts. Ebulum was made of the
juices of the elder and juniper berries mixed with ale and spices.

Perry was made to some extent from pears, and was advertised for sale in
the _Boston News Letter_, and one traveller told of "peachy" made from
peaches. Spruce and birch beer were brewed by mixing a decoction of
sassafras, birch, or spruce bark with molasses and water, or by boiling
the twigs in maple sap, or by boiling together pumpkin and
apple-parings, water, malt, and roots. Many curious makeshifts were
resorted to in the early days. One old song boasted

    "Oh we can make liquor to sweeten our lips
     Of pumpkins, of parsnips, of walnut-tree chips."

Fiercer liquors were not lacking. Aqua-vitæ, a general name for strong
waters, was brought over in large quantities during the seventeenth
century, and sold for about three shillings a gallon. Cider was
distilled into cider brandy, or apple-jack; and when, by 1670, molasses
had come into port in considerable quantity through the West India
trade, the forests of New England supplied plentiful and cheap fuel to
convert it into "rhum, a strong water drawn from the sugar cane." In a
manuscript description of Barbadoes, written in 1651, we read: "The
chief fudling they make in this island is Rumbullion alias Kill Divil--a
hot hellish and terrible liquor." It was called in some localities
Barbadoes liquor, and by the Indians "ahcoobee" or "ockuby," a word of
the Norridgewock tongue. John Eliot spelled it "rumb," and Josselyn
called it plainly "that cussed liquor, Rhum, rumbullion, or kill-devil."
It went by the latter name and rumbooze everywhere, and was soon cheap
enough. Increase Mather said, in 1686, "It is an unhappy thing that in
later years a Kind of Drink called Rum has been common among us. They
that are poor, and wicked too, can for a penny or twopence make
themselves drunk." Burke said, at a later date, "The quantity of spirits
which they distil in Boston from the molasses they import is as
surprising as the cheapness at which they sell it, which is under two
shillings a gallon; but they are more famous for the quantity and
cheapness than for the excellency of their rum." In 1719, and fifty
years later, New England rum was worth but three shillings a gallon,
while West India rum was worth but twopence more. New England
distilleries quickly found a more lucrative way of disposing of their
"kill-devil" than by selling it at such cheap rates. Ships laden with
barrels of rum were sent to the African coast, and from thence they
returned with a most valuable lading--negro slaves. Along the coast of
Africa New England rum quite drove out French brandy.

The Irish and Scotch settlers knew how to make whiskey from rye and
wheat, and they soon learned to manufacture it from barley and potatoes,
and even from the despised Indian corn.

Not content with their own manufactured liquors, the thirsty colonists
imported strong waters, gin and aniseseed cordial from Holland, and wine
from Spain, Portugal, and the Canaries. Of these, fiery Madeiras were
the favorite of all fashionable folk and often each glass of wine was
strengthened by a liberal dash of brandy. Bennet wrote, in 1740, of
Boston society, "Madeira wine and rum punch are the liquors they drink
in common." Though "spiced punch in bowls the Indians quaffed" in 1665,
I do not know of the Oriental mixed drink in New England till 1682, when
John Winthrop writes of the sale of a punch-bowl. In 1686 John Dunton
had more than one "noble bowl of punch," during his visit to New
England. The word punch was from the East Indian word _pauch_, meaning
five. S. M. (who was probably Samuel Mather) sent these lines to Sir
Harry Frankland in 1757, with the gift of a box of lemons:

    "You know from Eastern India came
    The skill of making punch as did the name.
    And as the name consists of letters five,
    By five ingredients is it kept alive.
    To purest water sugar must be joined,
    With these the grateful acid is combined.
    Some any sours they get contented use,
    But men of taste do that from Tagus choose.
    When now these three are mixed with care
    Then added be of spirit a small share.
    And that you may the drink quite perfect see
    Atop the musky nut must grated be."

Every buffet of people of fashion contained a punch-bowl, every dinner
was prefaced by a bowl of punch, which was passed from hand to hand and
drunk from without intervening glasses. J. Crosby, at the Box of Lemons,
in Boston, sold for thirty years lime juice and shrub and lemons, and
sour oranges and orange juice (which some punch tasters preferred to
lemon juice), to flavor Boston punches.

Double and "thribble" bowls of punch were commonly served, holding
respectively two and three quarts each, and many existing bills show
what large amounts were drunk. Governor Hancock gave a dinner to the
Fusileers at the Merchants' Club, in Boston, in 1792. As eighty dinners
were paid for I infer there were eighty diners. They drank one hundred
and thirty-six bowls of punch, besides twenty-one bottles of sherry and
a large quantity of cider and brandy. An abstract of an election dinner
to the General Court of Massachusetts in 1769, showed two hundred
diners, and seventy-two bottles of Madeira, twenty-eight bottles of
Lisbon wine, ten of claret, seventeen of port, eighteen of porter,
fifteen double bowls of punch and a quantity of cider. The clergy were
not behind the military and the magistrates. In the record of the
ordination of Rev. Joseph McKean, in Beverly, Mass., in 1785, these
items are found in the tavern-keeper's bill:

    30 Bowles of Punch before the People went to meeting   3
    80 people eating in the morning at 16d                 6
    10 bottles of wine before they went to meeting         1 10
    68 dinners at 3s                                      10  4
    44 bowles of punch while at dinner                     4  8
    18 bottles of wine                                     2 14
    8 bowles of Brandy                                     1  2
      Cherry Rum                                           1 10
    6 people drank tea                                        9_d_

The six mild tea-drinkers and their economical beverage seem to put a
finishing and fairly comic touch to this ordination bill. When we read
such renderings of accounts we think it natural that Baron Reidesel
wrote of New England inhabitants, "most of the males have a strong
passion for strong drink, especially rum and other alcoholic beverages."
John Adams said, "if the ancients drank wine as our people drink rum and
cider it is no wonder we hear of so many possessed with devils."

The cost of these various drinks was thus given about Revolutionary
times in Bristol, R. I.:

    "Nip of Grog               6_d_
     Dubel bole of Tod    2_s_ 9_d_
     Dubel bole of punch  8_s_
     Nip of punch         1_s_
     Brandi Sling              8_d_"

Flip was a vastly popular drink, and continued to be so for a century
and a half. I find it spoken of as early as 1690. It was made of
home-brewed beer, sweetened with sugar, molasses, or dried pumpkin, and
flavored with a liberal dash of rum, then stirred in a great mug or
pitcher with a red-hot loggerhead or hottle or flip-dog, which made the
liquor foam and gave it a burnt bitter flavor.

Landlord May, of Canton, Mass., made a famous brew thus: he mixed four
pounds of sugar, four eggs, and one pint of cream and let it stand for
two days. When a mug of flip was called for, he filled a quart mug
two-thirds full of beer, placed in it four great spoonfuls of the
compound, then thrust in the seething loggerhead, and added a gill of
rum to the creamy mixture. If a fresh egg were beaten into the flip the
drink was called "bellows-top," and the froth rose over the top of the
mug. "Stone-wall" was a most intoxicating mixture of cider and rum.
"Calibogus," or "bogus," was cold rum and beer unsweetened.
"Black-strap" was a mixture of rum and molasses. Casks of it stood in
every country store, a salted and dried codfish slyly hung alongside--a
free lunch to be stripped off and eaten, and thus tempt, through thirst,
the purchase of another draught of black-strap.

A terrible drink is said to have been popular in Salem--a drink with a
terrible name--whistle-belly-vengeance. It consisted of sour household
beer simmered in a kettle, sweetened with molasses, filled with
brown-bread crumbs and drunk piping hot.

Of course many protests, though chiefly on the ground of wasteful
expense, were made, even in ante-temperance days, against the drinking
which grew so prevalent with the opening of the eighteenth century. Rev.
Andrew Eliot wrote in 1735, "'Tis surprising what prodigious sums are
expended for spirituous liquors in this one poor Province--more than a
million of our old currency in a year." Dr. Tenney lamented that the
taverns of Exeter, N. H., were thronged with people who seldom retired
sober. Strenuous but ineffectual efforts were made to "prevent tippling
in the forenoon," and between meals; but with little avail. The
temperance-reform of our own century came none too soon.

Tea was too high priced in the first half-century of its Occidental use
to have been frequently seen in New England. Judge Sewall mentioned it
but once in his diary. He drank it at Madam Winthrop's house in 1709 at
a Thursday lecture, but he does not note it as a rarity. In 1690,
however, when not over-plentiful in old England, Benjamin Harris and
Daniel Vernon were licensed to sell it "in publique" in Boston. In 1712
"green and ordinary teas" were advertised in the apothecary's list of
Zabdiel Boylston. Bohea tea came in 1713, and in 1715 tea was sold in
the coffee-houses. Some queer mistakes were made through the employment
of the herb as food. In Salem it was boiled for a long time till bitter,
and drunk without milk or sugar; and the tea-leaves were buttered,
salted, and eaten. In more than one town the liquid tea was thrown away
and the carefully cooked leaves were eaten.

The new China drink did not have a wholly savory reputation. It was
called a "damned weed," a "detestable weed," a "base exotick," a "rank
poison far-fetched and dear bought," a "base and unworthy Indian drink,"
and various ill effects were attributed to it--the decay of the teeth,
and even the loss of the mental faculties. But the Abbé Robin thought
the ability of the Revolutionary soldiers to endure military flogging
came from the use of tea. And others thought it cured the spleen and

As the day drew near when tea-drinking was to become the great
turning-point of our national liberty, the spirit of noble revolt led
many dames to join in bands to abandon the use of the unjustly taxed
herb, and societies were formed of members pledged to drink no tea. Five
hundred women so banded together in Boston. Various substitutes were
employed in the place of the much-loved but rigidly abjured herb,
Liberty Tea being the most esteemed. It was thus made: the four-leaved
loose-strife was pulled up like flax, its stalks were stripped of the
leaves and boiled; the leaves were put in an iron kettle and basted with
the liquor from the stalks. Then the leaves were put in an oven and
dried. Liberty Tea sold for sixpence a pound. It was drunk at every
spinning-bee, quilting, or other gathering of women. Ribwort was also
used to make a so-called tea--strawberry and currant leaves, sage, and
even strong medicinal herbs likewise. Hyperion tea was made from
raspberry leaves. An advertisement of the day thus reads:

     "The use of Hyperion or Labrador tea is every day coming into vogue
     among people of all ranks. The virtues of the plant or shrub from
     which this delicate Tea is gathered were first discovered by the
     Aborigines, and from them the Canadians learned them. Before the
     cession of Canada to Great Britain we knew little or nothing of
     this most excellent herb, but since that we have been taught to
     find it growing all over hill and dale between the Lat. 40 and 60.
     It is found all over New England in great plenty and that of best
     quality particularly on the banks of the Penobscot, Kennebec,
     Nichewannock, and Merrimac."

The proportion of tea used in America is now less than in England, and
the proportion of coffee much larger. This is wholly the result of
national habits formed through patriotic abstinence from tea-drinking in
those glorious "Liberty Days."

The first mention of coffee, as given by Dr. Lyon, is in the record of
the license of Dorothy Jones, of Boston, in 1670, to sell "Coffe and
chuchaletto." At intervals of a few years other innkeepers were licensed
to sell it, and by the beginning of the eighteenth century coffee-houses
were established. Coffee dishes, coffee-pots, and coffee-mugs appear in
inventories, and show how quickly and eagerly the fragrant berry was
sought for in private families. As with tea, its method of preparation
as a beverage seemed somewhat uncertain in some minds; and it is said
that the whole beans were frequently boiled for some hours with not
wholly pleasing results in forming either food or drink. After a few
years "coffee-powder" was offered for sale.

Chocolate became equally popular. Sewall often drank it, once certainly
as early as 1697, at the Lieutenant-Governor's, with a breakfast of
venison. Winthrop says it was scarce in 1698. Madam Knight took it with
her on her journey in 1704. "I told her I had some chocolate if she
would prepare it, which, with the help of some milk and a little clean
brass kettle, she soon effected to my satisfaction." Mills to grind
cocoa were quickly established in Boston, and were advertised in the
_News Letter_.

Even in the early days of our Republic there were reformers who wished
to establish the use of temperance drinks, which were not, however,
exactly the same liquids now so called. A writer in the _Boston Evening
Post_ wrote forcibly on the subject, and a Philadelphia paper published
this statement on July 23d, 1788:

     "A correspondent wishes that a monument could be erected in Union
     Green with the following inscription.

                                In Honour of
                          American Beer and Cyder.

     It is hereby recorded for the information of strangers and
     posterity that 17,000 Assembled in this Green on the 4th of July
     1788 to celebrate the establishment of the Constitution of the
     United States, and that they departed at an early hour without
     intoxication or a single quarrel. They drank nothing but Beer and
     Cyder. Learn Reader to prize these invaluable liquors and to
     consider them as the companions of those virtues which can alone
     render our country free and reputable.

                         Learn likewise to Despise
                    Spirituous Liquors as Anti Federal

     and to consider them as the companions of all those vices which are
     calculated to dishonor and enslave our country."



When New England was colonized, the European emigrants were forced to
content themselves with the rude means of transportation which were
employed by the aborigines. The favorite way back and forth from
Plymouth to Boston and Cape Ann was by water, by skirting the shore in
birchen pinnaces or dugouts--hollowed pine logs about twenty feet long
and two and a half feet wide--in which Johnson said the savages ventured
two leagues out at sea. There were few horses, and the few were too
valuable for domestic work to be spared for travel, hence the journeyer
must go by water, or on foot. When Bradstreet was sent to Dover as Royal
Commissioner, he walked the entire distance there, and back to Boston,
by narrow Indian paths.

The many estuaries and river-mouths that intersected the coast also made
travel on horseback difficult. Foot-passengers, however, could cross the
narrow streams by natural ford-ways, or on fallen trees, which were
ordered to be put in proper place by the colonial government; and the
broader rivers by canoe ferries. We see, through the record of one
journey, the dignified Governor of Massachusetts carried across the
ford-ways pick-a-pack on the shoulders of his stalwart Indian guide.

But soon the settlers, true to their English instincts and habits,
turned their attention to the breeding of horses. They imported many
fine animals, and the magistrates framed laws intended to improve the
imported stock. The history of horse-raising in New England is akin to
that of any other country, save in one respect. In Rhode Island the
breeding of horses resulted in that famous and first distinctively
American breed--the Narragansett Pacers.

The first suggestion of horse-raising in Narragansett was, without
doubt, given by Sewall's father-in-law, Captain John Hull, of Pine Tree
Shilling fame, who was one of the original purchasers of the
Petaquamscut Tract, or Narragansett, from the Indians. He wrote, in
April, 1677:

     "I have often thought if we, the partners of Point Judith Neck did
     fence with a good stone wall at the north end thereof, that no kind
     of horses or cattle might get thereon, and also what other parts
     thereof westerly were needful, and procure a very good breed of
     large and fair mares and horses, and that no mongrel breed might
     come among them, we might have a very choice breed for coach
     horses, some for the saddle and some for draught; and in a few
     years might draw off considerable numbers and ship them for
     Barbadoes Nevis or such parts of the Indies where they would vend."

This scheme was doubtless carried into effect, for in 1686 Dudley and
his associates ordered thirty horses to be seized in Narragansett and
sold to pay for building a jail.

In a later letter Hull accuses William Heiffernan of horse-stealing, and
shows that a different and more gentle method than Western lynch-law was
pursued by the Eastern settlers. He writes:

     "I am informed that you were so shameless that you offered to sell
     some of my horses. I would have you know that they are by Gods good
     Providence, mine. Do you bring me some good security for my money
     that is justly owing and I shall be willing to give you some horses
     that you shall not need to offer to steal any."

Whatever the means may have been that tended to the establishment of a
distinct breed of horses, the result was soon evident; by the early
years of the eighteenth century the Narragansett Pacers were known
throughout the colonies as a desirable breed of saddle-horses.

The local conditions for raising this breed were favorable. The soil of
Narragansett was rich, the crops large, the natural formation of the
land made it possible to fence it easily and with little expense--a
thing of much importance in a new land. The bay, the ocean, and the
chain of half salt lakes surrounding the three sides, left but a short
northern length for stone wall, as Hull suggested.

It is said that the progenitor or most important sire of this race was
imported from Andalusia by Governor Robinson. Another tradition is that
this horse, while swimming off the coast of Spain, was picked up by a
Narragansett sloop and brought to America. Thomas Hazard contributed to
the quality of endurance in the breed by introducing into it the blood
of "Old Snip." So celebrated did the qualities of this horse become that
the "Snip breed" was not only spoken of with regard to the horses, but
of the owners as well, and Hazards who did not possess the
distinguishing race-characteristic of self-will were said not to be
"true Snips." Old Snip was said to have been imported from Tripoli;
others assert (and it is generally believed) that he was a wild horse
running at large in the tract near Point Judith.

In the year 1711 Rip Van Dam, a prominent citizen of New York, and at a
later date Governor of the State, wrote to Jonathan Dickinson, an early
mayor of Philadelphia, a very amusing account of his ownership of a
Narragansett Pacer. The horse was shipped from Rhode Island in a sloop,
from which he managed to jump overboard, swim ashore, and return home.
He was, however, again placed on board ship, and arrived in New York
after a fourteen-days' passage, naturally much reduced in flesh and
spirits. From New York he was sent to Philadelphia by post--that is,
ridden by the post-rider. The horse cost £32, and his freight cost fifty
shillings. He was said to be "no beauty though so high priced, save in
his legs." "He always plays and acts and never will stand still, he will
take a glass of wine, beer or cyder, and probably would drink a dram on
a cold morning." The last extraordinary accomplishment doubtless showed
contamination from the bad human company around him, while the swimming
feat evinced his direct descent from the Andalusian swimmer.

Dr. McSparran, rector of the Narragansett church from 1721 to 1759,
wrote a little book called "America Dissected," in which he speaks thus
of the Narragansett Pacers:

     "The produce of this country is principally butter, cheese, fat
     cattle, wool and fine horses that are exported to all parts of
     English America. They are remarkable for fleetness and swift pacing
     and I have seen some of them pace a mile in a little more than two
     minutes and a good deal less than three minutes. I have often upon
     the larger pacing horses rode fifty, nay sixty miles a day even in
     New England where the roads are rough, stony and uneven."

In the realm of fiction we find testimony to the qualities of the
Narragansett Pacers. Cooper, in the "Last of the Mohicans," represents
his heroines as mounted on these horses, and explains their
characteristics in a footnote, and also in the dialogue of the story. He
says that they were commonly sorrel-colored, and that horses of other
breeds were trained to their gait. It is true that horses were trained
to pace. Rev. Mr. Thatcher wrote in 1690 of teaching a mare to amble by
cross-spanning, and again by trammelling. Logs of wood were placed
across a road at certain intervals to induce a pacing gait. As late as
the year 1770 men in Ipswich followed the profession of pace-trainer;
but I doubt whether any other breed could ever acquire the peculiar gait
of the Narragansetts, of which Isaac Hazard thus wrote: "My father
described the motion of this horse as differing from others in that its
backbone moved through the air in a straight line without inclining the
rider from side to side, as does a rocker or pacer of the present day."
That motion could scarcely be taught.

Many traits joined to make the Narragansett Pacers so eagerly sought
for. Not only was their ease of motion an absolute necessity, but
sureness of foot was also indispensable; this quality they also
possessed. They were also tough and enduring, and could travel long
distances. The stories told of them seem incredible. It was said that
they could travel one hundred miles in a day, over rough roads, without
tiring the rider or injury to themselves, provided they were properly
cared for at the end of the journey.

There was not only in America a steady demand for these horses, but in
the West Indies, as Hull predicted, they found a ready market. One
farmer sent annually a hundred pacers to Cuba, and agents were sent to
Narragansett from Cuba with orders to buy pacers, especially
full-blooded mares, at any prices. Agents from Virginia also purchased
pacers for Virginian horse-raisers. The newspapers of the latter part of
the eighteenth century--especially of the Connecticut press--abound in
advertisements of horses of the "true Narragansett breed," yet it is
said that in the year 1800 but one full-blooded Narragansett Pacer was
known to be living. In the War of 1812 the British man-of-war Orpheus
cruised the waters of Narragansett Bay, and her captain endeavored
through agents to obtain a Narragansett Pacer as a gift for his wife,
but in vain--not a horse of the true breed could be found.

It has been said that the reckless exportation to the West Indies caused
this extermination, but it is difficult to believe that so shrewd a race
as were the Narragansett planters ever would have committed such a
killing of a goose of golden eggs. The decay of the race was the action
of a simple law--cause and effect. The conditions which rendered the
pacer so desirable did not exist after the Revolution. Roads were
improved, carriages became common, the saddle less used, and the
American trotter was evolved, who was a better carriage horse, and a
more useful one, as he could be employed for both light and heavy work,
while heavy draughting stiffened the joints of the pacer, and destroyed
the very qualities for which he was most valued. Thus, being no longer
needed, the Narragansett Pacer ceased to exist.

There died in Wickford, R. I., a few years ago, a Narragansett Pacer that
was nearly full blooded. She was a villainously ugly animal of faded,
sunburnt sorrel color. She was so abnormally broad-backed and
broad-bodied that a male rider who sat astride her was forced to stick
his legs out at a most awkward and ridiculous angle. That broad back
carried, however, most comfortably a side-saddle or a pillion. Being
extremely short-legged this treasured relic was unprecedentedly slow,
and altogether I found the Narragansett Pacer, though an object of great
pride and even veneration to her owner, not all my fancy had painted

From the earliest days when horses were imported, women rode on pillions
behind the men. Lechford in his note-book refers to a "womans pillion"
lost on the Hopewell. A pillion was a cushion strapped on behind a man's
saddle, and from it sometimes hung a small platform or double stirrup on
which a woman rider could rest her feet. One horse was sometimes made
also to carry two men riding astride. Horseflesh was also economized by
the ride-and-tie system: two persons would start on horseback, ride a
mile or two, dismount, tie the animal by the road-side, leaving him for
another couple (who had started afoot) to mount, ride on past the first
couple, and dismount and tie in their turn.

Coaches were not a wholly popular means of conveyance in the first half
of the seventeenth century, even among Englishmen on English roads, and
they would have been wholly useless in New England. John Winthrop had
one in 1685. Sir Edmund and Lady Andros rode in a coach in Boston in
1687, and there were then a few other carriages in town. Their purchase
and use were deplored and discouraged by Puritan authorities, as were
other luxurious fashions. Outside of the town wheeled vehicles were of
little use as they had to be lashed clumsily in two canoes and
laboriously ferried across the rivers, while the horses were similarly
transferred to the opposite shore, or allowed to swim over. The early
carriages were calashes and chariots. Henry Sharp of Salem had a calash
in 1701. William Cutler's "collash with ye furniture" was worth £10 in
1723. Chairs--two-wheeled gigs without a top--and chaises, a vehicle
with similar body and a top, were early forms of carriages. The sulky
had in early days, as now, seating room but for one person. All these
were hung on thorough braces instead of springs.

In an account of the funeral of Lieutenant Governor Tailor, in 1732, it
is mentioned that a "great number of the gentry attended in their
coaches and chaises;" but even by that date coaches were of little avail
for long journeys. The anxious letters of Waitstill Winthrop to his son
in 1717, at the latter's proposal of bringing a coach overland from
Boston to New London, show the obstacles of travel. He warns that there
are no bridges in Narragansett; he urges him to bring a mounted servant
with an axe to "cut bows in the way," "to bring a good pilate that knows
the cart ways," to be sure to keep the coachman sober, to have axle and
hubs prepared for rough usage--and in every way discourages so rash an

Though I have seen a New England inventory of the year 1690 in which a
"sley" appears, I do not find that they were frequently used until the
second or third decade of the succeeding century, though a few
Bostonians had them in the year 1700. They were largely used by the
Dutch in New York, and Connecticut folk occasionally followed Dutch

When sedan-chairs were so fashionable and plentiful in England, they
were sure to be used to some extent in New England towns. Governor
Winthrop had a very elegant Spanish sedan-chair, which was given him in
1646 by Captain Cromwell, who captured it from a Spanish galleon. This
fine chair was worth £50 and was an intended gift of the Viceroy of
Mexico to his sister. When Parson Oxenbridge was striken with apoplexy
in the pulpit of the First Church in Boston, he was "carried home in a
Cedan." On August 3, 1687, Judge Sewall wrote in his diary: "Capt.
Gerrish is carried in a Sedan to the Wharf and so takes boat for Salem."
Again he writes on May 31, 1715: "The Gov'r comes first to Town, was
carried from Mr. Dudleys to the Town-House in Cous. Dumers Sedan; but
'twas too tall for the Stairs, so was fain to be taken out near the top
of them." The Governor had had a bad attack of gout.

On September 11, 1706, Sewall writes: "Five Indians carried Mr.
Bromfield in a chair." And though I have never seen the sale of a sedan
mentioned, several times I have fancied that the reference to the sale
of a chair meant a sedan-chair. In the memoirs of Eliza Quincey she
speaks of riding in a sedan, and of seeing Dr. Franklin in one in 1789.

At a surprisingly early date, when we consider the limited opportunities
for travel, the colonial authorities licensed taverns or ordinaries, and
also made strict laws governing them. The landlords could not sell sack
or strong water; nor permit games to be played in their precincts; nor
allow dancing or singing; nor could tobacco be used within their walls;
nor could they sell cakes or buns indiscriminately. Samuel Cole, the
Boston comfit-maker, received his license in 1634, though one can hardly
understand, with such manifold rules of narrow limit, how he could wish
it. Previously other freemen had obtained permission "to draw wine and
beer" to sell at retail to their neighbors and to travellers. In New
Haven the tavern-keeper had been given twenty acres of land in 1645, in
which travellers' horses could be pastured. In Hartford and other river
towns the establishment of taverns was compulsory. The ordinaries
quickly multiplied in number and increased in pretension. In Boston, in
1651, the King's Arms and its furniture were held to be worth £600.
Board was cheap enough. In 1634 the Court set the price of a single meal
at sixpence, and an ale quart of beer at a penny. At the Ship Tavern a
man had "fire and bed, dyet, wyne and beere betweene meals" for three
shillings a day. The wine was limited to "a cupp each man at dynner &
supp & no more." Following the English fashion of Shakespeare's time,
the inn chambers were each named: The Exchange Chamber, Rose and Sun
Chamber, Star Chamber, Court Chamber, Jerusalem Chamber, etc. The names
of the inns also followed English nomenclature: The Bunch of Grapes, Dog
& Pot, Turk's Head, Green Dragon, Blue Anchor, King's Head, etc. The
Good Woman bore on its painted sign the figure of a headless woman. The
Ship in Distress had these lines:

      "With sorrows I am compassed round,
    Pray lend a hand--my ship's aground."

Another Boston tavern had this rhyme:

    "This is the bird that never flew,
     This is the tree that never grew,
     This is the ship that never sails,
     This is the can that never fails."

The Sun Tavern bore these words:

    "The Best Ale and Beer under the Sun."

This tavern was removed to Moon Street, and was kept by Mrs. Milk. Her
neighbors' names were Waters, Beer, and Legg. The Salutation Inn, with
its sign-board bearing the picture of two men shaking hands, was
commonly known as the Two Palaverers.

I know no more attractive picture of olden-time hospitality, nothing
better "under the notion of a tavern," than the old Palaverer tavern at
Medford. On either side of its front door grew a great tree, and in the
spreading branches of each tree was built a platform or balcony. The two
were connected by a hanging bridge or scaffolding, and also connected by
a similar foot-bridge with the tavern itself. In these leafy
tree-arbors, through the sunny summer months, from dawn till twilight,
whilom travellers rested and drank their drams, or, perchance, their
cups of tea, and watched the arrival and departure of coaches and
horsemen at "mine inn."

John Adams wrote frequently of the inns of the time. He said of the
Ipswich innkeeper in 1771: "Landlord and Landlady are some of the
grandest people alive. Landlady is the great granddaughter of Governor
Endicott, and has all the notions of greatest family. As to Landlord, he
is as happy, and as big, as proud, as conceited as any nobleman in
England, always calm and good-natured and lazy."

Of the Enfield landlord he wrote: "Oated and drank tea at Peases--a
smart house and landlord truly; well dressed with his ruffles &c. and
upon inquiry I found he was the great man of the town, their
representative as well as tavern-keeper." In a paper which he wrote upon
licensed houses, Adams stated that "retailers and taverners are
generally, in the country, assessors, selectmen, representatives, or

Members of our best and most respected families throughout New England
were innkeepers. The landlord was frequently a local magistrate, a
justice of the peace, or a sheriff. Notices of town-meetings, of
elections, of new laws and ordinances of administration were posted at
the tavern, just as legal notices are printed in the newspapers
nowadays. Bills of sales, of auctions, records of transfers were
naturally posted therein; the taverns were the original business
exchanges. No wonder all the men in the township flocked to the
tavern--they had to to know anything of town affairs, to say nothing of
local scandals. Distances were given in almanacs of the day, not from
town to town, but from tavern to tavern.

Of the good quality of New England inns many travellers testify.
Lafayette wrote to his wife in 1777: "Host and hostess sit at the table
with you and do the honors of a comfortable meal, and on going away you
pay your fare without higgling." Dr. Dwight said the best old-fashioned
New England inns were superior to any of the modern ones. Brissot said:
"You meet with neatness, dignity and decency, the chambers neat, the
beds good, the sheets clean, supper passable, cyder tea punch and all
for fourteen pence a head." Alackaday! the good old times.

Next in importance to the landlord came the stage-driver. He was so
popular and such a kindly fellow that he had to be prohibited by law
from carrying any parcels or letters for persons along the route, else
he were overburdened with troublesome and hindering business,
detrimental to the postal and carriage income of the government. He was
so importuned to drink at each stopping-place that he might have lain
drunk the whole year round. He was of so much consequence and so looked
up to, that little Jack Mendum, who drove the Salem mail-coach, hardly
exaggerated his position when he roared out angrily to a hungry
passenger who urged him to drive faster: "While I drive this coach I am
the whole United States of America." Stage-driving was an hereditary
gift; it went in families. Four Potters, three Ackermans, three Annables
drove in Salem. Patch and Peach. Tozzer and Blumpy, Canney and Camp,
were well-known stage-driving names.

The stage-agent also, that obsolete functionary, was a man of much local
consequence and of many affairs; he was established in many a tavern as
a necessary and almost immovable piece of bar-room furniture.

To show the importance of tavern, tavern-keeper, stage-agent, and
stage-driver in early Federal days, let me give a single instance.
Haverhill was the great staging centre of New Hampshire; six or eight
lines of coaches left there each day. There were lines direct to Boston,
New York, and Stanstead, Canada. Of course there was a vast bustle and
commotion on the arrival and departure of each coach, and a goodly
number of passengers were deposited at the tavern that formed the coach
office--sometimes one hundred and fifty a day. It can readily be seen
what a news centre such a tavern must have been, how much knowledge of
the world must have been gathered by its occupants. It must be
remembered that our universal modern source of information, the
newspaper, did not then exist; there were a few journals, of course, of
scant circulation, but of what we now deem news they contained nothing.
Information of current events came through hearing and talking, not
through reading. Hence it came to be that an innkeeper was not only
influential in local affairs, but was universally known as the
best-informed man in the place; reporters, so to speak, rendered their
accounts to him; items of foreign and local news were sent to him; he
was in himself an entire Associated Press.

The earliest roads for travel throughout New England followed the Indian
trails or paths, and were but two or three feet wide. The Old Plymouth
or Coast Road, of much importance because connecting Boston and
Plymouth, the capitals of separate colonies, was provided for by action
of the General Court in 1639. It ran through old Braintree. The Old
Connecticut Road or Path started from Cambridge, ran to Marlborough,
thence to Grafton, Oxford, and Woodstock, and on to Springfield and
Albany. It was intersected at Woodstock by the Providence Path, which
ran through Narragansett and Providence plantations, and also by the
Nipmuck Path which came from Norwich.

The New Connecticut Road ran as did the old road, from Boston to Albany.
It was known at a later date as the Post Road. From Boston it ran to
Marlborough, thence to Worcester, thence to Brookfield, and so on to
Springfield and Albany.

The famous Bay Path, laid out in 1673, left the Old Connecticut Path at
Happy Hollow, now Wayland, and ran through Marlborough to Worcester,
Oxford, Charlton, and Brookfield, when it separated in two paths,
one--the Hadley Path--running to Ware, Belchertown, and Hadley, and the
other returning to the Old Connecticut Path and on to Springfield.

An inexplicable charm still attaches itself to these old Indian paths, a
delight in attempting to trace their unused and overgrown roadways, as
they leave the main road in devious twists and turns till they again
join its beaten way. And the halo of early romance and adventure
surrounds them. Holland felt the charm when he wrote thus of the Bay

     "It was marked by trees a portion of the distance and by slight
     clearings of brush and thicket for the remainder. No stream was
     bridged, no hill graded, and no marsh drained. The path led through
     woods which bore the mark of centuries, over barren hills that had
     been licked by the Indian hounds of fire, and along the banks of
     streams that the seine had never dragged. A powerful interest was
     attached to the Bay Path. It was the channel through which laws
     were communicated, through which flowed news from distant friends,
     and through which came long, loving letters and messages. That
     rough thread of soil chopped by the blades of a hundred streams was
     a bond that radiated at each terminus into a thousand fibres of
     love and interest and hope and memory. Every rod had been prayed
     over by friends on the journey and friends at home."

Hawthorne felt it also and said:

     "The forest-track trodden by the hob-nailed shoes of these sturdy
     and ponderous Englishmen has now a distinctness which it never
     could have acquired from the light tread of a hundred times as many
     moccasins. It goes onward from one clearing to another, here
     plunging into a shadowy strip of woods, there open to the sunshine,
     but everywhere showing a decided line along which human interests
     have begun to hold their career.... And the Indians coming from
     their distant wigwams to view the white man's settlement marvel at
     the deep track which he makes, and perhaps are saddened by a
     flitting presentiment that this heavy tread will find its way over
     all the land, and that the wild woods, the wild wolf, and the wild
     Indian will alike be trampled beneath it."

For many years these paths were travelled, gradually widening from
foot-paths to bridle-ways, to cart-tracks, to carriage-roads, until they
became the post-roads, set thick with cheerful country homes. In some
portions of New England they still are travelled and form the general
thoroughfare, but in many lonely townships the old paths are deserted,
and traffic and passage over the post or county road is gone forever.
Bushes flourish and meet gloomily across the grass-grown track; forest
trees droop heavily over it in summer and fall unheeded across it in
winter. On either side moss-grown, winter-killed apple-trees and ancient
stunted currant-bushes struggle for life against sturdy young pine and
spruce and birch. Many a rod of heavy tumble-down stone wall--New
England Stonehenges--may be seen, not as of old dividing cleared and
fertile fields, but in the midst of a forest of trees or underbrush:

    "Far up on these abandoned mountain farms
       Now drifting back to forests wild again,
     The long gray walls extend their clasping arms
       Pathetic monuments of vanished men."

Or more pathetic monuments still of hard and wasted work. On either side
of the way, at too sadly frequent intervals, ruined wells or desolate
yawning cellar-holes, with tumbling chimneys standing like Druid ruins,
show that fair New England homes once there were found. Flaming orange
tiger-lilies, most homely and cheerful bloom of country gardens, have
spread from the deserted dooryards, across the untrodden foot-paths, in
weedy thickets a-down the hill, and shed their rank odor unheeded on the

Some of the old provincial mile-stones, however, remain, and put us
closely in touch with the past. In the southern part of New London
County, and at Stratford, Conn., on the old post-road--the King's
Highway--between Boston and Philadelphia, there are mossgrown stones
that were set under the supervision of Benjamin Franklin when he was
colonial Postmaster-General. After that highway was laid out, the
placing and setting of the mile-stones were entrusted to Franklin, and
he transacted the business, as he did everything else, in a thoroughly
original way. He drove over the road in a comfortable chaise, followed
by a gang of men and heavy teams loaded with the mile-stones. He
attached to his chaise a machine which registered by the revolution of
the chaise-wheels the number of miles travelled, and he had the
mile-stones set by that record, and marked with the distance to the
nearest large town. Thus the Stratford stone says: "20 Mls to N. H."--New

By provincial enactment in Governor Hutchinson's time, mile-stones were
set on all the post-roads throughout Massachusetts. Some of these stones
are still standing. There is one in the middle of the city of Worcester,
on Lincoln Street--the "New Connecticut Path;" it is of red sandstone,
and is marked, "42 Mls to Boston, 50 Mls to Springfield, 1771."

In Sutton, on the "Old Connecticut Path," stands still the king of all
these 1771 mile-stones. It is of red sandstone, is five feet high, and
nearly three feet wide. It is marked, "48 Mls to Boston 1771 B. W." The
letters B. W. stand for Bartholomew Woodbury, a jovial and liberal old
Sutton tavern-keeper who died in 1775. When the mile-stones were set out
by the provincial government, the place for this Sutton stone fell a few
rods from Landlord Woodbury's house; but he obtained permission and set
up this handsome stone at his own expense, beside his great horse-block
under his swinging sign at his open, welcoming door. He fancied,
perhaps, that it would attract the attention, and thus cause the halting
of travellers. Tavern-keeper and tavern are gone; no vestiges even of
cobblestone chimneys or cellar walls remain. The old post-road is now
but little travelled, but the great mile-stone and its neighbor, the
worn stepping-block, still stand, lonely monuments of past days and past
pleasures. On warm summer nights perhaps the silent old mile-stone
awakes and sadly tells his companion of the gay coaches that rattled by,
and the rollicking bucks and blades, the gallant soldiers that galloped
past him in the days of his youth, a century ago. And the
stepping-block may tell in turn of the good old days when her broad
sunny face was pressed by the feet of fair colonial dames who, with
faces hidden in riding-hoods and masks, stepped lightly from saddle or
pillion to "board and bait" at Bartholomew Woodbury's cheerful inn.

In Roxbury, Mass., there still stands at the corner of Centre and
Washington Streets the famous Roxbury Parting Stone. It is a great
square stone, bearing on one face the words: "The Parting Stone 1744. P.
Dudley;" on another face the words: "Dedham--Rhode Island," and on a
third "Cambridge--Watertown." It has had set on it recently an iron
frame or fixture for a gas-lamp. This stone, with many others in Norfolk
County, was placed by Paul Dudley at his own expense in the middle of
the last century. It has seen the separation or "parting" of many a
brave company that had ridden out to it from Boston. Many a
distinguished traveller has passed it and glanced at its carved words.
Lord Percy's soldiers took counsel of it one hot April morning to find
the road to Lexington.

Governor Belcher set out a row of mile-stones from Boston Town House to
his home in Milton. Some of them are still standing, the seventh and
eighth in Milton, one marked "8 miles to B. Town House. The Lower Way,
1734." The ninth and twelfth stand as historical landmarks in Quincy, on
the old Plymouth Road, and bear the dates 1720 and 1727.

In Wenham another mile-stone near the graveyard bears the date 1710,
shows the distance to Ipswich and Boston, and gives these words of
timely warning: "I know that Thou wilt Bring me to Death and to the
house appointed for all Living."

A marked improvement in facilities for travel came in turnpike days.
These well laid out and well kept roads fairly changed the face of the
country. They sometimes shortened by half the distance to be travelled
between two towns. Stock companies were formed to build bridges and
grade these turnpikes, and the stock formed a good investment and was
also vastly used in speculation. The story of the turnpike is as
interesting as that of the Indian path, but cannot be told at length
here. They, too, have had their day; in some counties the turnpike is as
deserted as the path and seems equally ancient.

New England roads and turnpikes have seen many a gay sight, for the
custom of speeding the parting guest "agatewards" for some miles, with
an accompanying escort on foot or on horseback, to some ford or natural
turning-point or bourn, was a universal mark of interest and affection,
and of courtesy as well. Judge Sewall records, on one occasion, with
much indignation, that "not one soul rode with us to the ferry." Ere the
days of turnpikes, the old Indian paths witnessed many a sad and
pathetic parting in the wilderness, such as was recorded in simple
language in Parson Thatcher's diary in 1680, when he left Barnstable to
go to a new parish:

     "A great company of horsemen 7 & 50 horse & 12 of them double, went
     with us to Sandwich & there got me to go to prayer with them, and
     I think none of them parted with me with dry eyes."

This is indeed a strong picture for the brush of a painter, the golden
September light, nowhere more radiantly beautiful than on

                  "the narrowing Cape
    That stretches its shrunk arm out to all the winds,
    And the relentless smiting of the waves,"

and the sad-faced band in Puritan garb, armed and mounted, gathered
around their departing leader in reverent prayer.

Perhaps the turnpike saw no more characteristic scene than the winter
ride to market. Though summer and fall were the New England farmer's
time of increase, winter was his time of trade and his time of
recreation as well. When wintry blasts grew chill, and snow and ice
covered deep the desolate fields and country roads, then he prepared
with zest and with delight for his gelid time of outing, his Arctic
red-letter day, his greatest social pleasure of the entire year. The
friendly word was circulated by a kind of estafet from farm to farm, was
carried by neighbor or passing traveller, or was discussed and planned
and agreed upon in the noon-house, or at the tavern chimney-side on
Sunday during the nooning, that on a certain date--unless there set in
the tantalizing and swamping January thaw, a thaw which might be pushing
and unseasonable enough to rush in in December and quite as often hung
off and dawdled into February--that on the appointed date, at break of
day, the annual ride to market would begin. Often fifty or sixty
neighbors would respond to the call, would start together on the road.
For farmers in western Vermont and Massachusetts the market town was
Troy or other Hudson valley towns. In Maine, from Bath and Hallowell and
neighboring towns, the winter procession rode to Portland. In central
Massachusetts some drove to Northampton, Springfield, or Hartford; but
the greatest number of farmers and the largest amount of farm produce
went to the towns of the Massachusetts coast, to Salem, to Newburyport,
and, above all, to Boston.

The two-horse pung or the single-horse pod, shod with steel shoes an
inch thick, was closely packed with the accumulated farm wealth--whole
pigs, perhaps a deer or two, firkins of butter, casks of cheese, four
cheeses in each cask, bags of beans, pease or corn, skins of mink, fox,
and fisher-cat that the boys had trapped, birch brooms that the boys had
made, yarn that their sisters had spun, and stockings and mittens that
they had knitted--in short, anything that a New England farm could
produce that would sell to any profit in a New England town. So closely
was the sleigh packed, in fact, that the driver could not be seated. The
sturdy and hardy farmer stood on a little semicircular step in the rear
of the sleigh, his body protected by the high sleigh back against the
sharp icy blasts. At times he ran alongside or behind his vehicle to
keep his blood in brisk circulation.

Though every inch of the sleigh was packed to its fullest extent, there
was always found room in some corner for plenty of food to last the
thrifty traveller through his journey; often enough to liberally supply
him even on his return trip--cold roasted spare ribs of pork, doughnuts,
loaves of "rye an' Injun" bread, and invariably a bountiful mass of
frozen bean porridge. This latter was made and frozen in a tub, and when
space was hard to find in the crowded vehicle, the solid mass was
furnished with a loop of twine by which to hang it to the side of the
pung. A small hatchet with which to chop off a chunk of porridge formed
the accompaniment of this unalluring Arctic provender. Oats and hay to
feed his horses did the farmer also carry.

There were plenty of taverns in which he could obtain food if he needed
it, in which, indeed, he did obtain liquid sustenance to warm his bones
and stir his tongue, and make palatable the half-thawed porridge which
he ate in front of the cheerful tavern fire. But it was the invariable
custom, no matter what the wealth of the farmer, to carry a supply of
food for the journey. This kind of itinerant picnic was called
"tuck-a-nuck "--a word of Indian origin, or "mitchin," while the box or
hamper or bucket that held the provisions was called a "mitchin-box." I
can fancy that no thrifty or loving housewife allowed the man of her
household to go to market with too meanly filled a mitchin-box, but took
an honest pride in sending him off with a full stock of rich doughnuts,
well-baked bread, well-filled pies, and at least well-cooked porridge,
which he could devour without shame before the eyes of his neighbors.

The traveller did not carry his meals from home because the tavern fare
was expensive; at the inn where he paid ten cents a night for his
lodging, he was uniformly charged but twelve and a half cents for a
"cold bite," and but twenty-five cents for a regular meal; but it was
not the fashion to purchase meals at the tavern; the host made his
profits from the liquor he sold and from the sleeping-room he gave.
Sometimes the latter was simple enough. A great fire was built in the
fireplace of either front room--the bar-room and parlor--and round it,
in a semicircle, feet to the fire and heads on their rolled-up buffalo
robes, slept the tired travellers. A few sybaritic or rheumatic tillers
of the soil paid for half a bed in one of the double-bedded rooms which
all taverns then contained, and got a full bed's worth, in deep hollows
and high billows of live-geese feathers, warm homespun blankets, and
patchwork quilts.

It was certainly a gay winter's scene as sleigh after sleigh dashed into
the tavern barn or shed and the stiffened driver, after "putting up" his
steed, walked quickly to the bar-room, where sat the host behind his
cage-like counter, where ranged the inspiring barrels of old Medford or
Jamaica rum and hard cider, and

    "Where dozed a fire of beechen logs that bred
     Strange fancies in its embers golden-red,
     And nursed the loggerhead, whose hissing dip,
     Timed by nice instinct, creamed the bowl of flip."

Many a rough joke was laughed at, many a story told ere the tired circle
slept around the fire; but four o'clock saw them all bestirring, making
a fresh start on their city-ward journey.

In town the traveller was busy enough; he not only had his farm products
to sell, but since he sometimes got the enormous sum of fifty dollars
for his sleigh load, and it was estimated that two dollars was a liberal
allowance for a week's travelling expenses, he had much to spend and
many purchases to make--spices and raisins for the home table,
fish-hooks and powder and shot, pewter plates, or a few pieces of
English crockery, a calico gown or two, a shawl, or a scarf, or a beaver
hat; and thus brought to dreary New England farms their sole taste of
town life in winter.

For many years travel, especially to New York and other seaport towns,
was largely by water, on sloop or pink or snow; and many stories of the
discomforts of such trips have come down to us.

The first passenger steamboat which ran between New York and Providence
made its trial trip in 1822. The boats made the passage from town to
town in twenty-three hours, which was monstrous fast time. On one of the
first trips the boat lay by near Point Judith to repair a slight damage
to machinery, and all the simple country-folk who came down to the shore
expecting to find a wreck, were amazed to see the boat--apparently
burning up--go quickly sliding away without sails over the water until
out of sight. Many whispered that the devil had a hand in it, and
perhaps was on board in person. The new means of conveyance proved at
once to be the favored one for all genteel persons wishing to travel
between Boston and New York. The forty-mile journey between Boston and
Providence was made in fine stage-coaches, which were always crowded.
Often eighteen or twenty full coach-loads were carried each way each
day. The editor of the _Providence Gazette_ wrote at that time: "We were
rattled from Providence to Boston in four hours and fifty minutes--if
any one wants to go faster he may send to Kentucky and charter a streak
of lightning!"

The fare on these coaches was three dollars for the trip between
Providence and Boston. This exorbitant sum was a sore annoyance to all
thrifty men, and indignantly did they rail and protest against it. At
last a union was formed, and a line of rival coaches was established, on
which the fare was to be two dollars and a half a trip. This caused
great dismay to the regular coach company, who at once reduced their
fare to two dollars. The rival line, not to be outdone, announced their
reduction to a dollar and a half. The regulars then widely advertised
that their fare would thenceforth be only one dollar. The rivals then
sold seats for the trip for fifty cents apiece; and in despair, after
jealously watching for weeks the crowded coaches of the new line, the
conquered old line mournfully announced that they would make trips every
day with their vehicle filled with the first applicants who chanced to
be on time at the starting-place, and that these lucky dogs would be
carried for nothing.

The new stage-coaches were now in their turn deserted, and the
proprietors pondered for a week trying to invent some way to still
further cut down the entirely vanished rates. They at last placarded the
taverns with announcements that they would not only carry their patrons
free of expense, but would give each traveller on their coaches a good
dinner at the end of his journey. The old coach-line was rich and at
once counter-advertised a free dinner and a good bottle of wine too, to
its patrons and there, for a time, the fierce controversy came to a
standstill, both lines having crowded trips each day.

Mr. Shaffer, who was a fashionable teacher of dancing and deportment in
Boston, and a well-known "man about town," a jolly good fellow, got upon
the Providence coach one Monday morning in Boston, had a gay ride to
Providence and a good dinner and bottle of wine at the end of the
journey, all at the expense of the coach company. On Tuesday he rode
more gayly still back to Boston, had his dinner and his wine, and was up
on Wednesday morning to mount the Providence coach for the third ride
and dinner and bottle. He returned to Boston on Thursday in the same
manner. On Friday the fame of his cheap fun was thoroughly noised all
over Boston, and he collected a crowd of gay young sparks who much
enjoyed their frolicking ride and the fine Providence dinners and wine.
All returned in high spirits with Shaffer to Boston on Saturday to meet
the sad, sad news that the rival coach lines had made a compromise and
had both signed a contract to carry passengers thereafter for two
dollars a trip.

Upon Tremont Street, near Winter Street, in Boston, there stood at that
time in a garden a fine old house which was kept as a restaurant, and
was a pleasant summer lounging-place for all gay cits. One day a very
portly, aldermanic man presented himself at the entrance of the
restaurant and asked the price of a dinner. Shaffer, who was present,
immediately assumed all the obsequious airs of a waiter, and calling for
a tape-measure, proceeded to measure the distance around the protuberant
waist of the astonished and insulted inquirer, who could hardly believe
his sense of hearing when the impudent Shaffer very politely answered,
"Price of dinner, sir!--about four dollars, sir!--for that size, sir!"
Such were the practical jokes of stage and tavern life in olden days.



The first century of colonial life saw few set times and days for
pleasures. The holy days of the English Church were as a stench to the
Puritan nostrils, and their public celebration was at once rigidly
forbidden by the laws of New England. New holidays were not quickly
evolved, and the sober gatherings for matters of Church and State for a
time took their place. The hatred of "wanton Bacchanallian Christmasses"
spent throughout England, as Cotton said, in "revelling, dicing,
carding, masking, mumming, consumed in compotations, in interludes, in
excess of wine, in mad mirth," was the natural reaction of intelligent
and thoughtful minds against the excesses of a festival which had ceased
to be a Christian holiday, but was dominated by a lord of misrule who
did not hesitate to invade the churches in time of service, in his noisy
revels and sports. English Churchmen long ago revolted also against such
Christmas observance.

Of the first Pilgrim Christmas we know but little, save that it was
spent, as was many a later one, in work. Bradford said: "Ye 25 day
begane to erect y^e first house for comone use to receive them and
their goods." On the following Christmas the governor records with grim
humor a "passage rather of mirth than of waight." Some new company
excused themselves from work on that day, saying it went against their
consciences. The governor answered that he would spare them until they
were better informed. But returning at mid-day and finding them playing
pitch-the-bar and stool-ball in the streets, he told them that it was
against _his_ conscience that they should play and others work, and so
made them cease their games.

By 1659 the Puritans had grown to hate Christmas more and more; it was,
to use Shakespeare's words, "the bug that feared them all." The very
name smacked to them of incense, stole, and monkish jargon; any person
who observed it as a holiday by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any
other way was to pay five shillings fine, so desirous were they to
"beate down every sprout of Episcopacie." Judge Sewall watched jealously
the feeling of the people with regard to Christmas, and noted with
pleasure on each succeeding year the continuance of common traffic
throughout the day. Such entries as this show his attitude: "Dec. 25,
1685. Carts come to town and shops open as usual. Some somehow observe
the day, but are vexed I believe that the Body of people profane it, and
blessed be God no authority yet to compel them to keep it." When the
Church of England established Christmas services in Boston a few years
later, we find the Judge waging hopeless war against Governor Belcher
over it, and hear him praising his son for not going with other boy
friends to hear the novel and attractive services. He says: "I dehort
mine from Christmas keeping and charge them to forbear."

Christmas could not be regarded till this century as a New England
holiday, though in certain localities, such as old Narragansett--an
opulent community which was settled by Episcopalians--two weeks of
Christmas visiting and feasting were entered into with zest by both
planters and slaves for many years previous to the Revolution.

Thanksgiving, commonly regarded as being from its earliest beginning a
distinctive New England festival, and an equally characteristic Puritan
holiday, was originally neither.

The first New England Thanksgiving was not observed by either Plymouth
Pilgrim or Boston Puritan. "Gyving God thanks" for safe arrival and many
other liberal blessings was first heard on New England shores from the
lips of the Popham colonists at Monhegan, in the Thanksgiving service of
the Church of England.

Days set apart for thanksgiving were known in Europe before the
Reformation, and were in frequent use by Protestants afterward,
especially in the Church of England, where they were a fixed custom long
before they were in New England. One wonders that the Puritans, hating
so fiercely the customs and set days and holy days of the Established
Church, should so quickly have appointed a Thanksgiving Day. But the
first New England Thanksgiving was not a day of religious observance, it
was a day of recreation. Those who fancy all Puritans, and especially
all Pilgrims, to have been sour, morose, and gloomy men should read this
account of the first Thanksgiving week (not day) in Plymouth. It was
written on December 11, 1621, by Edward Winslow to a friend in England:

     "Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling
     that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we
     had gathered the fruits of our labors. They four killed as much
     fowl as with a little help beside served the company about a week.
     At which times among other recreations we exercised our arms, many
     of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest
     king Massasoyt with some ninety men, whom for three days we
     entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer
     which they brought and bestow'd on our governor, and upon the
     captains and others."

As Governor Bradford specified that during that autumn "beside
waterfoule ther was great store of wild turkies," we can have the
satisfaction of feeling sure that at that first Pilgrim Thanksgiving our
forefathers and foremothers had turkeys.

Thus fared the Pilgrims better at their Thanksgiving than did their
English brothers, for turkeys were far from plentiful in England at that

Though there were but fifty-five English to eat the Pilgrim Thanksgiving
feast, there were "partakers in plenty," and the ninety sociable Indian
visitors did not come empty-handed, but joined fraternally in provision
for the feast, and probably also in the games.

These recreations were, without doubt, competitions in running, leaping,
jumping, and perhaps stool-ball, a popular game played by both sexes, in
which a ball was driven from stool to stool or wicket to wicket.

During that chilly November week in Plymouth, Priscilla Mullins and John
Alden may have "recreated" themselves with this ancient form of
croquet--if any recreation were possible for the four women of the
colony, who, with the help of one servant and a few young girls or
maidekins, had to prepare and cook food for three days for one hundred
and twenty hungry men, ninety-one of them being Indians, with an
unbounded capacity for gluttonous gorging unsurpassed by any other race.
Doubtless the deer, and possibly the great turkeys, were roasted in the
open air. The picture of that Thanksgiving Day, the block-house with its
few cannon, the Pilgrim men in buff breeches, red waistcoats, and green
or sad-colored mandillions; the great company of Indians, gay in holiday
paint and feathers and furs; the few sad, overworked, homesick women, in
worn and simple gowns, with plain coifs and kerchiefs, and the pathetic
handful of little children, forms a keen contrast to the prosperous,
cheerful Thanksgivings of a century later.

There is no record of any special religious service during this week of

The Pilgrims had good courage, stanch faith, to thus celebrate and give
thanks, for they apparently had but little cause to rejoice. They had
been lost in the woods, where they had wandered surbated, and had been
terrified by the roar of "Lyons," and had met wolves that "sat on thier
tayles and grinned" at them; they had been half frozen in their poorly
built houses; had been famished, or sickened with unwonted and
unpalatable food; their common house had burned down, half their company
was dead--they had borne sore sorrows, and equal trials were to come.
They were in dire distress for the next two years. In the spring of 1623
a drought scorched the corn and stunted the beans, and in July a fast
day of nine hours of prayer was followed by a rain that revived their
"withered corn and their drooping affections." In testimony of their
gratitude for the rain, which would not have been vouchsafed for private
prayer, and thinking they would "show great ingratitude if they
smothered up the same," the second Pilgrim Thanksgiving was ordered and

In 1630, on February 22d, the first public thanksgiving was held in
Boston by the Bay Colony, in gratitude for the safe arrival of
food-bearing and friend-bringing ships. On November 4, 1631, Winthrop
wrote again: "We kept thanksgiving day in Boston." From that time till
1684 there were at least twenty-two public thanksgiving days appointed
in Massachusetts--about one in two years; but it was not a regular
biennial festival. In 1675, a time of deep gloom through the many and
widely separated attacks from the fierce savages, there was no public
thanksgiving celebrated in either Massachusetts or Connecticut. It is
difficult to state when the feast became a fixed annual observance in
New England. In the year 1742 were two Thanksgiving Days.

Rhode Islanders paid little heed in early days to Thanksgiving--at any
rate, to days set by the Massachusetts authorities. Governor Andros
savagely prosecuted more than one Rhode Islander who calmly worked all
day long on the day appointed for giving thanks. In Boston, William
Veazie was set in the pillory in the market-place for ploughing on the
Thanksgiving Day of June 18, 1696. He said his king had granted liberty
of conscience, and that the reigning king, William, was not his ruler;
that King James was his royal prince, and since he did not believe in
setting apart days for thanksgiving he should not observe them.

Connecticut people, though just as pious and as prosperous as the Bay
colonists, do not appear to have been as grateful, and had considerable
trouble at times to "pick vppon a day" for thanksgiving; and the
festival was not regularly observed there till 1716.

Thanksgiving was not always appointed in early days for the same token
of God's beneficence. Days of thanks were set in gratitude for and
observance of great political and military events, for victories over
the Indians or in the Palatinate, for the accession of kings, for the
prospect of royal heirs to the throne, for the discovery of conspiracy
for the "healing of breaches," the "dissipation of the Pirates," the
abatement of diseases, for the safe arrival of "psons of spetiall use
and quality," as well as in gratitude for plentiful harvests--that "God
had not given them cleannes of teeth and wante of bread."

The early Thanksgivings were not always set, upon Thursday. It is said
that that day was chosen on account of its reflected glory as lecture
day. Judge Sewall told the governor and his council, in 1697, that he
"desir'd the same day of the week might be for Thanksgiving and Fasts,"
and that "Boston and Ipswitch Lectures led us to Thorsday." The feast of
thanks was for many years appointed with equal frequency upon "Tusday
com seuen-night," or "vppon Wensday com fort-nit." Nor was any special
season of the year chosen: in 1716 it was appointed in August; in 1713,
in January; in 1718, in December; in 1719, in October. The frequent
appointments in gratitude for bountiful harvests finally made the autumn
the customary time.

The God of the Puritans was a jealous God, and many fasts were appointed
to avert his wrath, as shown in blasted wheat; moulded beans, wormy
pease, and mildewed corn; in drought and grasshoppers; in Indian
invasions; in caterpillars and other woes of New England; in children
dying by the chincough; in the "excessive raigns from the botles of
Heaven"--all these evils being sent for the crying sins of wig-wearing,
sheltering Quakers, not paying the ministers, etc. A fast and a feast
kept close company in Puritan calendars. A fast frequently preceded
Thanksgiving Day, and was sometimes appointed for the day succeeding
the feast--a clever plan which had its good hygienic points. Days of
private as well as of public fast and thanksgiving were also observed by
individuals. Judge Sewall took the greatest satisfaction in his
fastings, and carefully outlined his plan of prayer throughout the fast
day, which he spent in his chamber--a plan which included and specified
ministers, rulers and magistrates, his family, and every person whom he
said "had a smell of relation" to him; and also every nation and people
in the known world. He does not note Thanksgiving Day as a holiday of
any importance.

Though in the mind of the Puritan, Christmas smelled to heaven of
idolatry, when his own festival, Thanksgiving, became annual, it assumed
many of the features of the old English Christmas; it was simply a day
of family reunion in November instead of December, on which Puritans ate
turkey and Indian pudding and pumpkin-pie, instead of "superstitious
meats" such as a baron of beef, boar's head, and plum-pudding.

Many funny stories are told of the early Thanksgiving Days, such as the
town of Colchester calmly ignoring the governor's appointed day and
observing their own festival a week later in order to allow time for the
arrival, by sloop from New York, of a hogshead of molasses for pies.
Another is recounted of a farmer losing his cask of Thanksgiving
molasses out of his cart as he reached the top of a steep hill, and of
its rolling swiftly down till split in twain by its fall. His helpless
discomfiture and his wife's acidity of temper and diet are comically

There is in the possession of the Massachusetts Historical Society a
broadside announcing a thanksgiving for victory in King Philip's War;
and during the following year, 1677, the first regular Thanksgiving
proclamation was printed.

But Thanksgiving Day was not the chief New England holiday. Ward,
writing in 1699, does not name it, saying of New Englanders: "Election,
Commencement and Training Days are their only Holy Days."

It was natural in New England, a state planted by men of exceptional
intelligence, that all should think as one minister said, "If the
college die, the church cannot long live;" and in the Commencement Day
of their colleges they found matter of deep interest, of pride, of
recreation. Judge Sewall always notes the day at Harvard, its exercises,
its dinner, its plentiful wine, and the Commencement cake, which he
carried to his friends. The meagre entries in the diaries and almanacs
of many an old New England minister show that Commencement Day was one
of their proudest holidays. After 1730, Commencement Day was usually set
for Friday, in order that there might be, as President Wadsworth said in
his diary, "less remaining time in the week to be spent in frolicking."

Training Day may be called the first New England holiday, though
Hawthorne thought the day of too serious importance in early warlike
times to be classed under the head of festivals. At the first Pilgrim
Thanksgiving they "exercised their arms," and for some years they had
six trainings a year; no wonder they were said to be "diligent in
traynings." The all-powerful Church Militant held sway even over these
gatherings of New England warriors. The military reviews and exercises
were made properly religious by an opening exercise of prayer and
psalm-singing, the latter sometimes at such inordinate length as to
provoke criticism and remarks from the rank and file, remonstrance which
was at once pleasantly rebuked by pious Judge Sewall. Religious notices
were also given before the company broke line. A noble dinner somewhat
redeemed the sobriety of the opening exercises, a dinner given in Boston
to gentlemen and gentlewomen in tents on the Common; and the frequent
firing of guns and cannon further enlivened the day.

Boston mustered a very fair military force at trainings, even in early
days. Winthrop writes that at the May training in 1639 one thousand men
exercised, and in the autumn twelve hundred bore arms, and not an oath
or quarrel was heard and no drunkenness seen. The training field was
Boston Common. At these trainings prizes were frequently offered for the
best marksmanship; in Connecticut, a silk handkerchief or some such
trinket. Judge Sewall offered a silver cup, and again a silver-headed
pike; since he was an uncommonly poor shot himself, his generosity shows
out all the more plainly. With barbaric openness of cruel intent, a
figure stuffed to represent a human form was often the target, and it
was a matter of grave decision whether a shot in the head or bowels were
the fatal one. Sometimes the day was enlivened by a form of amusement
ever beloved of the colonists--by public punishments. For instance, at
the training day at Kittery, Me., in 1690, two men "road the woodin
Horse for dangerous and churtonous carig and mallplying of oaths."

The training days of colony times developed into Muster Days, the
crowning pinnacle of gayety, dissipation, and noise in a country boy's
life in New England for over a century.

We owe much to these trainings and these trials of marksmanship. In
conjunction with the universal skill in woodcraft and in hunting, they
made our ancestors more than a match for the Indian and the Frenchman,
and in Revolutionary times gave them their ascendency over the English.

Election Day was naturally a time of much excitement to New Englanders
in olden times, as nowadays. In fact, the entire week partook of the
flavor of a holiday. This did not please the ministers. Urian Oakes
wrote sadly that Election Day had become a time "to meet, to smoke,
carouse and swagger and dishonor God with the greater bravery." Various
local customs obtained. "'Lection cake," a sort of rusk rich with fruit
and wine, was made in many localities; indeed, is still made in some
families that I know; and sometimes "'lection beer" was brewed. In early
May the herb gatherers (many of them old squaws) brought to town various
barks and roots for this beer, and they also vended it on the streets
during Election week. An Election sermon was also preached.

Boston had two Election Days. "Nigger 'Lection" was so called in
distinction from Artillery Election. On the former anniversary day the
election of the governor was formally announced, and the black
population was allowed to throng the Common, to buy gingerbread and
drink beer like their white betters. On the second holiday the Ancient
and Honorable Artillery had a formal parade, and chose its new officers,
who received with much ceremony, out-of-doors, their new commissions
from the new governor. Woe, then, to the black face that dared be seen
on that grave and martial occasion! In 1817 a negro boy named William
Read, enraged at being refused the high privileges and pleasures of
Artillery Day, blew up in Boston Harbor a ship called the Canton Packet.
For years it was a standing taunt of white boys in Boston to negroes:

    "Who blew up the ship?
         Nigger, why for?
     'Cause he couldn't go to 'lection
         An' shake paw-paw."

Paw-paw was a gambling game which was played on the Common with four
sea-shells of the _Cypr[oe]a Moneta_.

The 14th of July was observed by Boston negroes for many years to
commemorate the introduction of measures to abolish the slave trade. It
was derisively called Bobalition Day, and the orderly convention of
black men was greeted with a fusillade of rotten fruit and eggs and much
jesting abuse. It was at one of these Bobalition-Day celebrations that
this complimentary toast was seriously given and recorded in honor of
the newly elected governor: "Governor Brooks--May the mantelpiece of
Caleb Strong fall on the hed of his distinguished Predecessor."

In other localities, notably on the Massachusetts coast, in Connecticut,
and in Narragansett, the term "Nigger 'Lection" was applied to the
election of a black governor, who held his sway over the black
population. Wherever there was a large number of negroes the black
governor was a man of much dignity and importance, and his election was
a scene of much gayety and considerable feasting, which the governor's
master had to pay for. As he had much control over his black
constituents, it is plain that the black governor might be made useful
in many petty ways to his white neighbors. Occasionally the "Nigger
'Lection" had a deep political signification and influence. "Scaeva," in
his "Hartford in the Olden Times," and Hinman, in the "American
Revolution," give detailed and interesting accounts of "Nigger

A few rather sickly and benumbed attempts were made in bleak New England
to celebrate in old English fashion the first of May. A May-pole was
erected in Charlestown in 1687, and was promptly cut down. The most
unbounded observance of the day was held at Merry Mount (now the town of
Quincy) in 1628 by roystering Morton and his gay crew. Bradford says:
"They set up a May-pole, drinking and dancing aboute it many days
togeather, inviting the Indian women for their consorts, dancing and
frisking togeather like so many fairies or furies rather." This May-pole
was a stately pine-tree eighty feet high, with a pair of buck's horns
nailed at the top, and with "sundry rimes and verses affixed." Stern
Endicott rode down ere long to investigate matters, and at once cut the
"idoll Maypole" down, and told the junketers that he hoped to hear of
their "better walking, else they would find their merry mount but a
woful mount."

To eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday was held by the Puritans to be a
heathenish vanity; and yet, apparently with the purpose of annoying good
Boston folk, some attempts were made to observe the day. One year a
young man went through the town "carrying a cock on his back with a bell
in 's hand." Several of his fellows followed him blindfolded, and, under
pretence of striking him with heavy cart-whips, managed to do
considerable havoc in the surrounding crowd. We can well imagine how
odious this horse-play was to the Puritans, aggravated by the fact that
it was done to note a holy day. On Shrove Tuesday, in 1685, there was
"great disorder in town by reason of Cock-skailing." This was the
barbarous game of cock-steling, or cock-throwing, or cock-squoiling--a
game as old as Chaucer's time, a universal pastime on Shrove Tuesday in
England, where scholars also had cock-fights in the school-rooms.

The observance, or even notice, of the first day of the year as a
"gaudy-day"--of New-Year's tides in any way--was thought by Urian Oakes
to savor strongly of superstitious reverence for the heathen god Janus;
the Pilgrims made no note of their first New-Year's Day in the New
World, save by this very prosaic record, "We went to work betimes." Yet
Judge Sewall, as rigid and stern a Puritan as any of the earliest days,
records with some pride his being greeted with a levet, or blast of
trumpets, under his window, early on the morning of January 1, 1697;
while he himself celebrated the opening of the new century with a very
poor poem of his own making, which he caused to be cried or recited
throughout the town of Boston by the town bellman.

Guy Fawkes' Day, or "Pope's Day," was observed with much noise
throughout New England for many years by burning of bonfires, preceded
by parades of young men and boys dressed in fantastic costumes and
carrying "guys" or "popes" of straw. Fires are still lighted on the 5th
of November in New England towns by boys, who know not what they
commemorate. In Newburyport, Mass., and Portsmouth, N. H., Guy Fawkes'
Day is still celebrated. In Newcastle, N. H., it is called "Pork Night."
In New York and Brooklyn, the bonfires on the night of election, and the
importunate begging on Thanksgiving Day of ragged fantastics, usually
children of Roman Catholic parents, are both direct survivals of the
ancient celebration of "Pope's Day."

In Governor Belcher's time, in Massachusetts, the stopping of
pedestrians on the street, by "loose and dissolute people," who were
wont to levy contributions for paying for their bonfires, became so
universally annoying that the governor made proclamation against them in
the newspapers. Tudor, in his "Life of Otis," gives an account of the
observance of the day and its disagreeable features. He says the
intruders paraded the streets with grotesque images, forcibly entered
houses, ringing bells, demanding money, and singing rhymes similar to
those sung all over England:

    "Don't you remember
     The Fifth of November,
     The Gunpowder Treason and plot,
     I see no reason
     Why Gunpowder Treason
     Should ever be forgot.

     From Rome to Rome
     The Pope is come,
     Amid ten thousand fears,
     With fiery serpents to be seen
     At eyes, nose, mouth, and ears.
     Don't you hear my little bell
     Go chink, chink, chink,
     Please give me a little money
     To buy my Pope some drink."

The figure of the Pretender was added to that of the pope and devil in
1702; and on Pope's Day, in 1763, American politics took a share. I read
in a diary of that date, "Pope, Devil, and Stampman were hung together."
After the Revolution the effigy of Benedict Arnold was burnt alongside
that of Guy Fawkes.

Though we retained Pope's Day until Federal times, the Declaration of
Independence struck one holiday off our calendar. The king's birthday
was, until then, celebrated with a training, a salute of cannon, a
dinner, and an illumination.

Other holidays were evolved by circumstances. Anniversary Day was a
special festival for the ministers, who gathered together in the larger
towns for spiritual intercourse and the material refreshment of a good
dinner. It was originally held in Massachusetts at the May meeting of
the General Court. Forefathers' Day, the anniversary of the landing at
Plymouth, was celebrated by dinners, prayer, and praise.

Many other annual scenes of gayety were developed by the various food
harvests. Thus the time when the salmon and shad came up the rivers had
been a great merry-making and season of feasting for the Indian, and
became equally so for the white man. As years passed on it became also a
time of much drunkenness and revelry. Men rode a hundred miles for these
gay holidays, and went home with horses laden down with fish. Shad were
so plentiful that they were thrown away, would sell for but a penny
apiece, and no persons of social importance or of good taste would eat
them except in secret. Salmon, too, were so plentiful and so cheap that
farm-servants on the banks of the Connecticut stipulated that they
should have salmon for dinner but thrice a week, as the rich fish soon
proved cloying.

In many localities, in Narragansett in particular, the autumnal
corn-huskings almost reached the dignity of holidays, being conducted in
a liberal fashion and with unbounded hospitality, which included and
entertained whole retinues of black servants from neighboring farms, as
well as the planters and their families. Apple-parings, maple-sugar
makings, and timber-rollings were merry gatherings.

In Vermont and down the Connecticut valley the annual sheep-shearing was
a lively scene. On Nantucket there took place annually a like
sheep-shearing, which, though a characteristic New England festival, was
like the scene in the "Winter's Tale." The broad plains outside the town
were used as a common sheep-pasture throughout the year; sometimes
fifteen or sixteen thousand sheep were kept thereon. About two miles
from the town was a sheep-fold, near the margin of a pond, where the
sheep could be washed. It was built of four or five concentric fences,
which thus formed a sort of labyrinth, into which and through which the
sheep and lambs were driven at shearing-time, and in it they were sorted
out and placed in cotes or pens erected for each sheep-owner. The
existence of carefully registered ear-marks, with which each lamb was
branded, formed a means of identifying each owner's sheep and lambs. Of
course, this gathering brought together all the sheep drivers and
herders, the sheep washers and shearers. Vast preparations of food and
drink were made for their entertainment, and tents were reared for their
occupancy, and, of course, fiddlers and peddlers, like Autolycus,
flocked there also, and much amusement and frolicking accompanied the
shearing. Even the sheep, panting with their heavy wool when within the
folds, and the shorn and shivering creatures running around outside and
bleating for their old long-wooled companions, added to the excitement
of the scene. Perhaps the maritime occupation of the Islanders made them
enjoy with the zest of unwontedness this rural "shore-holiday." But it
exists no longer; the island is not now one vast sheep-pasture, and
there are no longer any sheep-shearings.



The Puritans of the first century of colonial life--the "true New
England men," not only of Winthrop and Bradford's time, but of the
slowly degenerating days of Cotton Mather and Judge Sewall--thought
little and cared little for any form of amusement;

    "Not knowing this, that Heaven decrees
     Some mirth t'adulce man's miseries."

Of them it may be said, as Froissart said of their ancestors, "They took
their pleasures sadly--after their fashion." "'Twas no time for New
England to dance," said Judge Sewall, sternly; and indeed it was not.
The struggle of planting colonies in the new, bleak land left little
time for dancing.

The sole mid-week gathering, the only regular diversion of early
colonial life, took naturally a religious and sombre cast, and was found
in the "great and Thursday lecture." "Truly the times were dull when
these things happened," for so eager were the colonists for this sober
diversion that it soon became a pious dissipation. Cotton said, in his
"Way of the Churches," in 1639, that so many lectures did damage to the
people; and the largeness of the assemblies alarmed the magistrates, who
saw persons who could ill afford the time from their work, gadding to
mid-day lectures in three or four different towns the same week. Young
people, not having acquired that safety-valve, the New England
singing-school, gladly seized these religious meetings as a pretext and
a means for enjoyable communion, and attended in such numbers that the
hospitality shown in providing food for the visiting lecture-lovers
seemed to be in danger of becoming a burdensome expense. In 1633 the
magistrates set the lecture hour at one o'clock, that lecture-goers
might eat their dinner at noon at home; and they attempted to have each
minister give but one lecture in two weeks, and planned that contiguous
towns should offer but two temptations a week. But the law-makers
overstepped the mark, and the lecture and the ministers resumed weekly
sway, which they held for a century.

Hawthorne thus described the opening hours of the colonial Lecture-day:

     "The breakfast hour being passed, the inhabitants do not as usual
     go to their fields or work-shops, but remain within doors or
     perhaps walk the street with a grave sobriety yet a disengaged and
     unburdened aspect that belongs neither to a holiday nor the
     Sabbath. And indeed the passing day is neither, nor is it a common
     week day, although partaking of all three. It is the Thursday
     Lecture; an institution which New England has long ago
     relinquished, and almost forgotten, yet which it would have been
     better to retain, as bearing relations both to the spiritual and
     ordinary life. The tokens of its observance, however, which here
     meet our eyes are of a rather questionable cast. It is in one sense
     a day of public shame; the day on which transgressors who have made
     themselves liable to the minor severities of the Puritan law
     receive their reward of ignominy. At this very moment the constable
     has bound an idle fellow to the whipping-post and is giving him his
     deserts with a cat-o-nine-tails. Ever since sunrise Daniel
     Fairfield has been standing on the steps of the meeting-house, with
     a halter about his neck, which he is condemned to wear visibly
     throughout his lifetime; Dorothy Talby is chained to a post at the
     corner of Prison Lane with the hot sun blazing on her matronly
     face, and all for no other offence than lifting her hand against
     her husband; while through the bars of that great wooden cage, in
     the centre of the scene, we discern either a human being or a wild
     beast, or both in one. Such are the profitable sights that serve
     the good people to while away the earlier part of the day."

Not only were criminals punished at this weekly gathering, but seditious
books were burned just after the lecture, intentions of marriage were
published, notices were posted, and at one time elections were held, on
Lecture-day. The religious exercises of the day resembled those of the
Sabbath and were sometimes five hours in length.

In primitive amusements, the sports of the woods and waters, even a
Puritan could find occasional and proper diversion without entering into
frivolous and sinful amusement. The wolf, most hated and most
destructive of all the beasts of the woods, a "ravening runnagadore,"
was a proper prey. Wolves were caught in pits, in log pens, in traps;
they were also hooked on mackerel hooks bound in an ugly bunch and
dipped in tallow, to which they were toled by dead carcasses. The swamps
were "beat up" in a wolf-drive or wolf-rout, similar to the English
"drift of the forest." A ring of men surrounded a wooded tract and drew
inward toward the centre, driving the wolves before them. The excitement
of such a wolf-rout, constantly increasing to the end, can well be
imagined. The wolves were not always killed outright. Josselyn tells
that the inhuman sport of wolf-baiting was popular in New England, and
he describes it thus: "A great mastiff held the Wolf.... Tying him to a
stake we bated him with smaller doggs and had excellent sport, but his
hinder legg being broken we soon knocked his brains out." Wolves also
were dragged alive at a horse's tail, a sport equally cruel to both
animals. These fierce and barbarous traits had been nourished in England
by the many bear and bull baitings, and even horse-baitings, and the
colonists but carried out here their English training. Wood wrote in his
"New England's Prospects:" "No ducking ponds can afford more sport than
a lame cormorant and two or three lusty doggs." Though we do not hear of
cock-fights, I doubt not the wealthy and sportsmanlike Narragansett
planters, who resembled in habits and occupations the Virginian
planters, had many a cock-fight, as they had horse-races.

Bears were "hunted with doggs; they take to a tree where they shoot
them." Nothing was "more sportfull than bearbayting." Killing foxes was
also the "best sport in depth of winter." On a moonlight night the
hunters placed a sledge-load of codfish heads on the bright side of a
fence or wall, and hiding in the shadow "as long as the moon shineth"
could sometimes kill ten of the wary creatures in a night. Squirrel
hunts were also prime sport.

Shooting at a mark or at prizes became a popular form of amusement. We
read in the _Boston Evening Post_ of January 11, 1773: "This is to give
Notice That there will be a Bear and a Number of Turkeys set up as a
Mark next Thursday Beforenoon at the Punch Bowl Tavern in Brookline."

The "Sports of the Inn yards" found few participants in New England. In
1692 the Andover innkeeper was ordered not to allow the playing of
"Dice, Cards, Tables, Quoits, Loggits, Bowles, Ninepins or any other
Unlawful Game in his house yard Garden or Backside after Saturday P.M."
Henry Cabot Lodge says the shovelboard of Shakespeare's time was almost
the only game not expressly prohibited. A Puritan minister, Rev. Peter
Thatcher, of Milton, bought in 1679 a "pack of ninepins and bowle," for
which he paid five shillings and sixpence, and enjoyed playing with them
too; but I fancy few ministers played either that or like games. On the
second Christmas, at Plymouth, we find some of the Pilgrims playing
pitch-the-bar and stool-ball. Pitch-the-bar was a trial of strength
rather than of skill, and was popular with sturdy Nantucket whalers
till into this century, though deemed hopelessly plebeian in old

We hear of foot-ball being played by Boston boys in Boston streets and
lanes; of the Rowley Indians playing it in 1686 on the broad sandy
shore, where it was "more easie," since they played barefooted. Dunton
adds of their sport: "Neither were they so apt to trip up one anothers
feet and quarrel as I have often seen 'em in England"--and I may add, as
I have often seen 'em in New England.

Playing-cards--the devil's picture-books--were hated by the Puritans
like the very devil; and, as ever with forbidden pleasures, were a
constant temptation to Puritan youth. Their importation, use, and sale
were forbidden. As late as 1784 a fine of $7 was ordered to be paid for
every pack of cards sold; and yet in 1740 we find Peter Fanueil ordering
six gross of best King Henry's cards from England. Jolley Allen had
cards constantly for sale--"Best Merry Andrew, King Harry and Highland
Cards a Dollar per Doz." and also "Blanchards Great Mogul Playing
Cards." The fine for selling these cards must have been a dead letter,
for we find in the newspapers proof of the prevalence of card-playing.

One use for playing-cards other than their intended one was found in
their employment to inscribe invitations upon. Ball invitations were
frequently written upon the backs of playing-cards, and dinner
invitations also.

In the _Salem Gazette_, in 1784, appeared "New In Laid Cribbage Boxes,
Leather Gammon Tables, and Quadrille Pools." In the _Evening Post_, in
1772, may be seen "Quadrille Boxes and Pearl Fishes;" and I do not doubt
that many a gay Boston belle or beau (as well as Mrs. Knox) gambled all
night at quadrille and ombre, as did their cousins in London. Captain
Goelet had many a game of cards in his travels through New England, in

On April 30, 1722, the _New England Courant_ advertised that any
gentleman that "had a Mind to Recreate themselves with a Game of
Billiards" could do so at a public house in Charlestown.

It is curious to find how eagerly the staid colonists turned to dancing.
Mr. Eggleston says:

     "The savages themselves were not more fond of dancing than were the
     colonists who came after them. Dancing schools were forbidden in
     New England by the authorities but dancing could not be repressed
     in an age in which the range of conversation was necessarily narrow
     and the appetite for physical activity and excitement almost

Dancing was forbidden in Massachusetts taverns and at weddings, but it
was encouraged at Connecticut ordinations. In a letter written by John
Cotton, that good man specifies that his condemnation is not of dancing
"even mixt" as a whole, but of "lascivious dancing to wanton ditties
with amorous gestures and wanton dalliances;" an objection in which I
hope he is not singular, an we be not Puritan ministers; and an
objection which makes us suspect, an he were a Puritan minister, that he
had been in some very singular company.

In 1713 a ball was given by the governor in Boston, at which
light-heeled and light-minded Bostonians of the governor's set danced
till three in the morning. As balls and routs began at six in the
afternoon, this gave long dancing-hours. On the other hand, we find
sober folk reading "An Arrow against Profane and Promiscuous Dancing
Drawn out of the Quiver of the Scriptures By the Ministers of Christ at
Boston." And though one dancing-master was forbidden room to set up his
school, we find that "Abigaill Hutchinson was entered to lern to dance"
somewhere in Boston in 1717, probably at the school of Mr. George
Brownell. By Revolutionary times old and young danced with zest at
balls, at "turtle-frolicks," at weddings. President Washington and Mrs.
General Greene "danced upwards of three hours without once sitting
down," and General Greene called this diversion of the august Father of
his Country "a pretty little frisk." By 1791 we find Rev. John Bennett,
in his "Letters to a Young Lady," recommending dancing as a proper and
healthful exercise. Queer names did early contra-dances bear: Old Father
George, Cape Breton, High Betty Martin, Rolling Hornpipe, Constancy,
Orange Tree, Springfield, Assembly, The President, Miss Foster's
Delight, Pettycoatee, Priest's House, The Lady's Choice, and Leather the
Strap. By Federal times came Federal dances.

Such care was paid by New Englanders to the raising and improving of
horses that I presume horse-races did not seem so wicked as card-playing
or dancing, for I find hint of a horse-race in the _Boston News Letter_
of August 29, 1715, for Jonathan Turner therein challenged the whole
country to match his black gelding in a race for a hundred pounds, to
take place on Metonomy Common or Chelsea Beach. Many pace-races took
place in Narragansett on Little Neck Beach, at which the prizes were
silver tankards. And if we can believe Dr. MacSparran, or, rather, since
we would not appear to doubt the word of a clergyman, especially upon
the speed of a horse, if he took the time of "a little over two minutes"
with any care and had a good watch, there must have been some very good
sport on Little Neck Beach.

Though the Puritan magistrates denounced shows as a great "mispense of
time," yet after a century's existence in the New World, the people was
so amusement hungry that all turned avidly to any kind of exhibition,
and but little was necessary to make an exhibition. A "Lyon of Barbary"
was in Boston in 1716; and I believe the "lyons hair," which was "cut by
the keeper" and sent by Wait Winthrop to be placed as a strengthening
tonic under the armpits of his sickly little grandchild, was abstracted
from this very lion. In 1728 another lonely king of the beasts made the
round of all the provinces on a cart drawn by four oxen, with as much
eclat as if he had been a whole menagerie. He lodged in New London in
Madam Winthrop's barn, and "put up" elsewhere at the very best taverns,
as became a royal visitor, yet seems a semi-pathetic figure--a tropical
king in slavery and alone in a strange, cold land.

In December, 1733, and in 1734, rivals appeared at a Boston tavern, and
were advertised in the _Weekly Rehearsal_.

     "A Fine Large White Bear brought from Greenland, the like never
     been seen before in these Paris of the World. A Sight far
     preferable to the Lion in the Judgment of all Persons who have seen
     them both. N.B. He is certainly going to London in about 3 Weeks &
     his Farewel Speech will be publish'd in a day or two."

       *       *       *       *       *

     "To be seen at the Shop of Mr. Benjamin Runker Tinman near the
     Market House on Dock Square a very Strange & Wonderful Creature
     called a Sea Lion lately taken at Monument Pond near Plimouth The
     like of which never seen in these Paris before. He is Nine Feet
     long from His Rump to his Head & near 4 feet wide over his back
     with Four Large Feet & Five Strong Claws on Each. Also Two Large
     Strong Teeth as white as Ivory sticking out of his mouth five or
     six Inches long with many other Curiosities too Tedious to mention
     here. Price Sixpence for a Man or Woman & 2 Pence for a child."

The _Boston Gazette_ of April 20, 1741, thus advertised:

     "To be seen at the Greyhound Tavern in Roxbury a wild creature
     which was caught in the woods about 80 miles to the Westward of
     this place called a Cattamount. It has a tail like a Lyon, its legs
     are like Bears, its Claws like an Eagle, its Eyes like a Tyger. He
     is exceedingly ravenous and devours all sorts of Creatures that he
     can come near. Its agility is surprising. It will leap 30 feet at
     one jump notwithstanding it is but 3 months old. Whoever wishes to
     see this creature may come to the place aforesaid paying one
     shilling each shall be welcome for their money."

Salem had the pleasure of viewing a "Sapient Dog" who could light lamps,
spell, read print or writing, tell the time of day, or day of the month.
He could distinguish colors, was a good arithmetician, could discharge a
loaded cannon, tell a hidden card in a pack, and jump through a hoop,
all for twenty-five cents. About the same time Mr. Pinchbeck exhibited
in the same town a "Pig of Knowledge" who had precisely the same

In 1789 a pair of camels went the rounds--"19 hands high, with 4 joints
in their hind legs." A mermaid also was exhibited--defunct, I
presume--and a living cassowary five feet high, that swallowed stones as
large as an egg. A white sea bear appeared in the port of Pollard's
Tavern and could be seen for half a pistareen. A forlorn moose was held
in bondage at Major King's tavern and shown for nine pence, while to
view the "leapord strongly chayned" cost a quarter. The big hog, being a
home production, could be seen cheaply--for four pence. It is indeed
curious to find a rabbit among "curious wild beasts." The Winthrops had
tried to breed rabbits in 1633 and again in 1683, and if they had not
succeeded were the only souls known to fail in that facile endeavor. To
their shame be it told, Salem folk announced in 1809 a bull-fight at the
Half-Way House on the new turnpike, and after the bull-fight a
fox-chase. In 1735 John Burlesson had some strange animals to show, and
was not always allowed to exhibit them either: "the Lyon, the Black and
Whight bare and the Lanechtskipt were shown by me that had their limbs
as long as they pleased."

There were also exhibitions of legerdemain--a "Posture Master Boy who
performed most surprizing Postures, Transforming Himself into Various
Shapes;" performers on the "tort rope;" solar microscopes; "Italian
Matcheans or Moving Pictures wherein are to be seen Windmills and
Watermills moving around Ships sayling in the Seas, and various curious
figures;" electrical machines; "prospects of London" or of "Royall
Pallaces;" but, to their credit and good taste be it recorded, I find no
notices of monstrosities either in shape of man or beast. Exhibitions of
wax figures were given and museums were formed. Gentlemen sailing for
foreign ports were begged to collect for museums and collections of
curiosities, and did so in a thoroughly public-spirited manner.

Shortly after the invention of balloons came their advent as popular
shows into New England towns. In Hartford they appeared under the
pompous title of "Archimedial Phaetons, Vertical Aerial Coaches, or
Patent F[oe]deral Balloons," and the public was notified that "persons
of timid nature might enter with full assurance of safety." These
f[oe]deral balloons not only served to amuse New Englanders, but were
strongly recommended to "Invaletudinarians" as hygienic and medicinal
factors, in that through their employment as carriers they caused
"sudden revulsion of the blood and humours" to the benefit of the
aeronautic travellers.

The first stepping-in of theatrical performances was to the lively-tunes
of jigs and corams on a stage. In 1713 permission was asked to act a
play in the Council House in Boston. Judge Sewall's grief and amazement
at this suggestion of "Dances and Scenical Divertessiments" within those
solemn walls can well be imagined. Ere long little plays called drolls
were exhibited; puppet shows such as "Pickle Herring," or the "Taylor
ryding to Brentford," or "Harlequinn and Scaramouch." About 1750 two
young English strollers produced Otway's "Orphans" in a Boston
coffee-house. Prompt and strict measures by Boston magistrates nipped in
the bud this feeble dramatic plant, and Boston had no more plays for
many years.

Many ingenious ruses were invented to avoid the legal obstructions
placed in the way of play-acting. "Histrionic academies" tried to sneak
in on the stage; and in 1762 a clever manager gave an entertainment
whose playbill I present as the most amusing example of specious and
sanctimonious truckling extant.


     On Monday, June 10th, at the Public Room of the above Inn will be
     delivered a series of

                             MORAL DIALOGUES
                             _in Five Parts_

     Depicting the evil effects of jealousy and other bad passions and
     Proving that happiness can only spring from the pursuit of Virtue.

     _Mr Douglass_--Will represent a noble and magnanimous Moor called
     Othello, who loves a young lady named Desdemona, and after he
     marries her, harbours (as in too many cases) the dreadful passion
     of jealousy.

           _Of jealousy, our beings bane,
           Mark the small cause, and the most dreadful pain._

     _Mr Allyn_--Will depict the character of a specious villain, in the
     regiment of Othello, who is so base as to hate his commander on
     mere suspicion, and to impose on his best friend. Of such
     characters, it is to be feared, there are thousands in the world,
     and the one in question may present to us a salutary warning.

           _The man that wrongs his master and his friend,
           What can he come to but a shameful end?_

     _Mr Hallam_--Will delineate a young and thoughtless officer who is
     traduced by Mr. Allyn, and, getting drunk, loses his situation and
     his generals esteem. All young men whatsoever, take example from

           _The ill effects of drinking would you see
           Be warned and fly from evil company._

     _Mr Morris_--Will represent an old gentleman, the father of
     Desdemona, who is not cruel or covetous, but is foolish enough to
     dislike the noble Moor, his son-in-law, because his face is not
     white, forgetting that we all spring from one root. Such prejudices
     are very numerous and very wrong.

           _Fathers, beware what sense and love ye lack,
           'Tis crime, not colour, makes the being black._

     _Mr Quelch_--Will depict a fool who wishes to become a knave, and
     trusting to one, gets killed by one. Such is the friendship of
     rogues. Take heed!

           _Where fools would knaves become, how often you'll
           Perceive the knave not wiser than the fool._

     _Mrs Morris_--Will represent a young and virtuous wife, who, being
     wrongfully suspected, gets smothered (in an Adjoining room) by her

           _Reader, attend, and ere thou goest hence,
           Let fall a tear to hapless innocence._

     _Mrs Douglass_--Will be her faithful attendant, who will hold out a
     good example to all servants, male and female, and to all people in

           _Obedience and gratitude,
           Are things as rare as they are good._

     Various other Dialogues, too numerous to mention here, will be
     delivered at night, all adapted to the improvement of the mind and
     manners. The whole will be repeated on Wednesday and on Saturday.
     Tickets, six shillings each; to be had within. Commencement at 7.
     Conclusion at half past 10; in order that every spectator may go
     home at a sober hour, and reflect upon what he has seen, before he
     retires to rest.

           God save the King,
           And long may he sway,
           East, north and south
           And fair America.

The Continental Congress of 1774 sought to pledge the colonists to
discountenance "all exhibitions of shews, plays, and other expensive
diversions and entertainments," and such exhibitions languished
naturally in war times; but with peace came new life to shows and

We catch a glimpse at Hartford of the "New Theatre" in 1795. The play
began at half after six. Following the English fashion, servants were
sent in advance to keep seats for their masters and mistresses. They
were instructed to be there "by Five at the Farthest." If ladies "chused
to sit in the Pit" a place was partitioned off for them. The admission
price was a dollar. There was variety in the entertainment furnished.
One actor gave a character recitation entitled "The New Bow Wow." In
this he played the "Sly Dog, the Sulky Dog, the Hearty Dog, and many
other dogs in his character of Odd Dog."

In 1788 the "Junior Sophister Class" of Yale College gave a theatrical
performance, during Election week, of "Tancred and Sigismunda," and
followed it with a farce of the students' own composing, relating to
events in the Revolutionary War. A letter of Rev. Andrew Eliot is still
in existence referring to this presentation, and severely did he
reprehend it. Of the farce he wrote, "To keep up the character of these
Generals, especially Prescot, they were obliged (I believe not to their
sorrow) to indulge in very indecent and profane language." He states
that many in the audience were much offended thereat, and says: "What
adds to the illegality is that the actors not only were dressed
agreeable to the characters they assumed as Men, but female apparell and
ornaments were put on some contrary to an express statute. Besides it
cost the lads £60." What this reverend complainer would have thought of
the multitudinous exhibitions of masculine collegiate skirt-dancing of
the present day is impossible to fathom.

There were circuses also in Connecticut. "Mr. Pool The first American
Equestrian has erected a Menage at considerable Expence with seats
Convenient. Mr. Pool beseeches the Ladies and Gentlemen who honour him
with their Presence to bring no Dogs with them." As late as 1828 a bill
prohibiting circus exhibitions passed both houses of the Connecticut
Legislature, but was all in vain, for that State became the home of
circuses and circus-makers.

During the seventeenth century and the first half of the eighteenth
century there was little in New England that could properly receive the
name of music. Musical instruments and books of musical instruction were
rare. I have told the deplorable condition of church music in "The
Sabbath in Puritan New England." A feeling of revolt rose in ministers
and congregation. In 1712 Rev. Mr. Tuft's music-book appeared. The first
organ came to Boston about 1711. The first concert of which I have read
was advertised thus in the _New England Weekly Journal_ of December 15,

     "This is to inform the Publick That there will be a Consort of
     Music Perform'd by Sundry Instruments at the Court Room in Wings
     Lane near the Town Dock on the 28th of this Instant December;
     Tickets will be deliver'd at the Place of Performance at Five
     Shillings each Ticket. N.B. No Person will be admitted after Six."

In 1744 a concert was given in Faneuil Hall fol the benefit of the poor,
and after 1760 concerts were frequent. The universal time for beginning
was six o'clock, and the highest price of admission half a dollar,
until after 1790.

Singing-schools, too, were formed, and the bands of trained singers gave
concerts. The story of the progress of New England concert-giving has
been most fully given by Henry M. Brooks, esq., in his delightful book,
"Olden Time Music."

Lectures on pneumatics, electricity, and philosophy were given in Boston
as early as 1740, and soon acquired a popularity which they have
retained to the present day.

A very doubtful form of diversion was furnished to New Englanders at the
public expense and in the performance of public duties. Not only were
offenders whipped, set in the stocks, bilboes, cage, or pillory on
Lecture-day, but criminals were hung with much parade before the eyes of
the people, as a visible token of the punishment of evil living. In all
the civil and religious exercises previous to the execution of the
sentence, publicity was given to the offender; petty and great
malefactors were preached at when sentenced, and after condemnation were
made public examples--were brought into church and made the subject of
discourse and even of objurgation from the pulpit. Judge Sewall
frequently refers to this meretricious custom. Under date March 11,
1685, he says: "Persons crowd much into the old Meeting House by reason
of James Morgan (who was a condemned murderer) and a very exciting and
riotous scene took place." This was at a Thursday lecture, and in the
gloomy winter twilight of the same day the murderer was
executed--"turn'd off" as Sewall said--after a parting prayer by Cotton
Mather, who had preached over him in the morning. Cotton Mather's sermon
and others on Morgan and his crimes, which were preached by Increase
Mather and Joshua Moodey, were printed and sold in vast numbers, passing
through several editions. Morgan's dying words and confessions were also
printed and sold throughout New England by chapmen.

Captain Quelch and six other pirates were captured on June 11, 1704;
were brought to Boston on the 17th, sentenced on the 19th, and, "the
silver oar being carried before them to the place of execution," were
hung on the 30th. An "extra" of the _News Letter_ says that "Sermons
were preached in their Hearing Every Day, And Prayers made daily with
them. And they were Catechized and they had many Occasional
exhortations;" but the paper also states, "yet as they led a wicked and
vitious life so to appearance they died very obdurately and impenitently
hardened in their sin." Sewall gives this painfully particular account
of the execution:

     "After Dinner about 3 P.M. I went to see the Execution. Many were
     the people that saw upon Broughtons Hill But when I came to see
     how the River was covered with People I was amazed; Some say there
     were 100 boats. 150 Boats & Canoes saith Cousin Moody of York. He
     Told them. Mr. Cotton Mather came with Captain Quelch & 6 others
     for Execution from the Prison to Scarletts Wharf and from thence in
     Boat to the place of Execution. When the Scaffold was hoisted to a
     due height the seven Malefactors went up. Mr. Mather pray'd for
     them standing upon the Boat. Ropes were all fastened to the Gallows
     save King who was Reprieved. When the Scaffold was let to sink
     there was such a Screech of the Women that my wife heard it sitting
     in our Entry next the Orchard and was much surprised at it, yet the
     wind was sou-west. Our house is a full mile from the place."

In another entry Sewall tells of brazen women jumping up on the cart
with a condemned man.

A note was appended by Dr. Ephraim Eliot to the last page of a sermon
delivered by his father, Dr. Andrew Eliot, on the Sunday before the
execution of Levi Ames, who was hung for burglary October 21, 1773. Ames
was present in church, and the sermon was preached at his request. The
note runs thus:

     "Levi Ames was a noted offender--though a young man, he had gone
     through all the routine of punishment, and there was now another
     indictment against him where there was positive proof, in addition
     to his own confession. He was tried and condemned. His condemnation
     excited extraordinary sympathy. He was every Sabbath carried
     through the streets with chains about his ankles, and handcuffed,
     in custody of the Sheriff officers and constables, to some public
     meeting, attended by an innumerable number of boys, women and men.
     Nothing was talked of but Levi Ames. The ministers were
     successively employed in delivering occasional discourses. Stillman
     improved the opportunity several times and absolutely persuaded the
     fellow that he was to step from the cart into Heaven."

One Worcester County murderess was hanged on Boston Common, and to the
delight of beholders appeared in a beautiful white satin gown to be
"turn'd off."

I think, in reading of the past, that next to executions the most vivid
excitement, the most absorbing interest--indeed, the greatest amusement
of New Englanders of the half century preceding and that succeeding the
Revolutionary War--was found in the lottery. An act of Legislature in
1719 speaks of them as just introduced; but this licensed and highly
approved form of gambling quickly had the sanction and participation of
the entire community. The most esteemed citizens not only bought
tickets, but sold them. Every scheme of public benefit, the raising of
every fund for every purpose, was conducted and assisted through a
lottery. Harvard, Rhode Island (now Brown University), and Dartmouth
College thus increased their endowments. Towns and States thus raised
money to pay the public debt. Congregational, Baptist, and Episcopal
churches had lotteries "for promoting public worship and the advancement
of religion." Canals, turnpikes, bridges, excavations, public buildings
were brought to perfection by lotteries. Schools and academies were thus
endowed; for instance, the Leicester Academy and the Williamstown Free
School. In short, "the interests of literature were supported, the arts
encouraged, the wastes of wars repaired, inundations prevented, the
burthen of the taxes lessened" by lotteries. Private lotteries were also
carried on in great number, as frequent advertisements show; pieces of
furniture, wearing apparel, real estate, jewelry, and books being given
as prizes. Much deception was practised in those private lotteries.

Though many lotteries were ostensibly for charitable, educational, or
other beneficial purposes, the proportion of profit applied to such
purposes was small. The Newbury Bridge Lottery sold ten thousand
dollars' worth of tickets to raise one thousand dollars. The lottery to
assist in rebuilding Faneuil Hall was to secure one-tenth of the value
of tickets. Harvard College hoped to have twelve and a half per cent.
The glowing advertisements of "Rich Wheels," "Real & Truly Fortunate
Offices," "Lucky Numbers," "Full Drawings," appealed to every class; the
poorest could buy a quarter of a ticket as a speculation. New England
clergymen seemed specially to delight in this gambling excitement.

The evil of the system could not fail to be discovered by intelligent
citizens. Judge Sewall, ever thoughtful, wrote his protest to friends
when he found advertisements of four lotteries in one issue of the
_Boston News Letter_. Though I have seen lottery tickets signed by John
Hancock, he publicly expressed his aversion to the system, and Joel
Barker and others wrote in condemnation. By 1830 the whole community
seemed to have wakened to a sense of their pernicious and unprofitable
effect, and laws were passed prohibiting them.

The sports and diversions herein named, of the first century of the
Puritan commonwealth, were, after all, joined in by but a scanty
handful of junketers. We see in our picture of the olden times no
revellers, but a "crowd of sad-visaged people moving duskily through a
dull gray atmosphere," who found, as Carlyle said, that work was
enjoyment enough. The Pilgrim Fathers had been saddened with war and
pestilence, with superstition, with exile, still they had as a contrast
the keen novelty of life in the picturesque new land. The sons had lost
all the romance and were more narrow, more intolerant. But we must not
think them unhappy because they thought it no time for New England to
dance. There be those nowadays who care not for dancing, nor for the
playing of games, yet are not unhappy. There be, also, I trow, those who
fare not at fairs, and show not at shows, and would fain read sober
books or study their Bible as did the Puritans, and yet are cheerful.
And perhaps also there is a singular little band of those who love not
the play--a few such I wot of Puritan blood yet are not sorrowful.
Hawthorne said: "Happiness may walk soberly in dark attire as well as
dance lightsomely in a gala-dress." And I cannot doubt that good Judge
Sewall found as true and deep a pleasure--albeit a melancholy one--in
slowly leading, sable-gloved and sable-cloaked, the funeral procession
of one of the honored deputies through narrow Boston streets, as did
roystering Morton in marshalling his drunken revellers at noisy



There was no calling, no profession more reputable, more profitable in
early colonial days than the trade of book-selling. President Dunster,
of Harvard College, in his pursuance of that business, gave it the
highest and best endorsement; and it must be remembered that all the
book-sellers were publishers as well, books being printed for them at
their expense. John Dunton, in his "Life and Errors," has given us a
very distinct picture of Boston book-sellers and their trade toward the
end of the seventeenth century. He landed at that port in 1686 with a
large and expensive venture of books "suited to the genius of New
England," and he says he was about as welcome to the resident
book-sellers as "Sowr ale in Summer." Nevertheless they received him
cordially and hospitably, and he in turn was an equally generous rival;
for he drew eulogistically the picture of the four book-dealers which
that city then boasted. Mr. Phillips was "very just, very thriving,
young, witty, and the most Beautiful man in the town of Boston." Mr.
Brunning, or Browning, was a "complete book-seller, generous and
trustworthy." Dunton says:

     "There are some men will run down the most elaborate peices only
     because they had none of their Midwifery to bring them into public
     View and yet shall give the greatest encomiums to the most Nauseous
     trash when they had the hap to be concerned in it."

But Browning would promote a good book whoever printed it. Mr. Campbell,
the third book-dealer, was "very industrious, dresses All-a-mode and I
am told a young lady of Great Fortune is fallen in love with him." Of
Mr. Usher, the remaining book-trader, Dunton asserts:

     "He makes the best figure in Boston. He is very rich, adventures
     much to sea, but has got his Estate by Book selling."

Usher was a book-maker, undertaker, and adventurer, doubtfully
attractive or desirable appellations nowadays; but what higher praise
could have been given in colonial tongue? He would have angrily resented
being dubbed a publisher; that name was assigned to and monopolized by
the town-crier. Usher died worth £20,000, a tidy sum for those days.

Happy, indeed, were all the Boston book-sellers; blessed of the gods!
rich, witty, modish, beloved, beautiful! The colony was sixty years old,
opulent, prosperous, and fashionable; but a book-seller cut the best
figure. Surely the book trade had in Boston a glorious ushering in, a
golden promise which has not yet deserted it.

Book-printing, too, was a highly honored calling. The first machine for
the craft and mystery of printing was set up at Cambridge in 1639, and
for twenty-three years the president of Harvard College was responsible
for its performances. Then official licensers were appointed to control
its productions, and not till a decade of years before the Declaration
of Independence were legal restraints removed from the colonial press.

The first printer in the colony, Steeven Daye, was about as bad a
printer as ever lived, as his work in the Bay Psalm-Book proves; and he
spent a term in Cambridge jail, and was altogether rather trying in his
relations with the godly ministers who were associated with him in his
printery. The second printer had to sleep in a cask after he landed, but
he died with a fortune, a true forerunner of the self-made men of
America. The third printer, Johnson, having a wife in England, was
"brought up" and bound over before the court not to seduce the
affections of the daughter of printer No. 2. The next Bostonians who
tried their hands at the mechanical part of book-making--the printing
and binding--were two of the most prominent citizens; Captain Green, a
worthy man, the father of nineteen children by one wife and eleven by
another, and rich, too, in spite of the thirty Green olive-branches; and
Judge Sewall, also, as Cotton Mather said, "edified and beautified with
many children"--fourteen in all. Truly, book-making did prosper a man
mightily both at home and abroad in colonial days.

In a book-printer's wife, the mother of the nineteen children, did
Dunton find his ideal New England wife; in a book-printer did he find
his most agreeable companion.

     "To name his trade will convince the world he was a man of good
     sense and understanding. He was so facetious and obliging and his
     conversation such that I took a great delight in his company."

So it may be seen that the book-sellers were rivalled by the
book-printers--equally rich and witty though not so beautiful. To the
credit of both callings, then and for a century to follow, redounds the
fact that almost to a man they were deacons in the church. Mayhap their
worldly and family prosperity was the reward of their piety. As
nine-tenths of the authors were ministers, and the publishers all
deacons, the church had at that time what might be called a monopoly of
the book trade.

Dunton had a vast interest in the fair sex, owning plainly that he had a
"heart of Wax, Soft, and Soon mellowing," though he was careful on every
page to make everything seem perfectly straight and proper for the
suspicious perusal of his English wife; but any nineteenth-century
reader can read between the lines. His famous long-winded eulogies of
the Boston virgin, the wife, the widow, "Madam Brick the flower of
Boston," and the half widow "Parte per Pale, Madam Toy," whose husband
was at sea; and his long rides with one or the other of them
a-pillion-back behind him, and his tedious conversations with them on
platonics, the blisses of matrimony, and the chief causes of love, show
plainly that he had a "wandering eye." He had a deal to say also of his
lady customers (who were much the same in olden times as nowadays)--one
simple soul who turned over his books rather vacantly till he asked her
"in Joque" whether she wanted "Tom Thumb" (a penny chapbook). To his
surprise she answered, "Yes;" and he said, still guying, "in Folio and
with marginal notes?" and the dull creature replied, "Oh the best."
Another hectored him by constantly changing her mind:

     "Reach me that book, yet--let it alone; but let me see it however,
     and yet its no great matter either."

Another sedate Boston dame wished "The School of Venus," to which he
reprovingly answered that he had best give her instead "The School of
Virtue." Another, to whom he gave a sad setting off (more than hinting
at a painted face, though she were a Puritan), wanted plays and romances
and "Books of Gallantry." He adds:

     "But she was a good Customer to me. Whilst I took her money I
     humoured her pride, and paid her (I blush to say it) a mighty

He speaks plainly too of the men book-buyers. One Mr. Gouge, who was
also "a Secret Friend to the Fair Sex," bought to give away two hundred
copies of a book written by Parson Gouge, his father. Another "young
beau who boasts more Villany than he ever committed bought a many of
books;" hence Dunton tolerated the "Young Spark's" demoralizing
acquaintance. Mr. Thorncomb, another book-dealer from London, also
bought of him, and, with the ever prevailing luck was "Acceptable to the
Fair Sex, so extremely charming as makes 'em fond of being in his
Company. However he is a virtuous person and deserved all the Respect
they shewed him." Nor can I doubt, from the pervasive spirit of his
books, that Dunton too found favor with the fair.

Though he spoke so warmly of individual purchasers and so positively of
the wealth of his ilk in Boston, his own venture was not vastly
prosperous. He took back to England but £400. He gave the Boston
Yankees, too, rather a bad name in commercial transactions, saying:

     "There is no trading for a stranger with them but with a Grecian
     Faith which is not to part with your own ware without ready Money;
     for they are generally very backward in their payments; great
     censors about other Mens manner but Extremely Careless about their
     own. When you are dealing with 'em you must look upon 'em as at
     cross purposes and read 'em like Hebrew backward; for they seldom
     speak & mean the same thing but like the Watermen Look one way &
     row another."

Josselyn gave them no better name, saying:

     "Their leading men are damnable rich, inexplicably covetous and
     proud; like Ethiopians, white in the teeth only; full of
     ludification and injurious dealing."

Of Dunton's patrons the majority were ministers, and I hope all the
reverend gentlemen were as prompt payers as they were liberal
purchasers. Since Dunton called ministers "the greatest benefactors to
Booksellers," I think they were not included in his black list. Surely
Cotton Mather was not, for he gave away one thousand books in one year,
and I know he paid for them too. One Boston schoolmaster, however,
bought £200 worth of books, and when we consider the excessively small
pay of members of that calling at that time, we feel that he showed a
liberal interest in promoting in every manner the spread of learning,
and only trust that he paid the bill promptly.

In 1719 there was but one book-shop in New York, but of cultured Boston
Neal wrote at that date: "The Exchange is surrounded with booksellers'
shops which have a good trade. There are five Printing Presses."
Succeeding years did not change the luck of the craft in Boston, nor dim
its honors, still wealth and love poured in on its members. The names of
Henchman and Hancock show the opulence; while Knox, in war and love
alike prospered, winning the wealthy "belle of Massachusetts" for his
bride, and winning equal glory with his sword in the Revolution. In
other New England towns did book-publishing succeed, though Boston's
earlier start, its leading position, and its more carefully preserved
history give it place as a type of the whole province.

And now, what was the fruit of all this fairly garnished and richly
nourished tree? What did these prosperous New England book-merchants
bring forth in the first century of book-printing in the province? What
return did they make for all the romantic and material support given
them? No love-poems or mild tales of gallantry, as you might expect from
their alleged fascinating traits, but, instead, an almost unvaried
production of dreary and dull funeral, execution, wedding, election, and
baptismal sermons, and of psalm-books, with here and there a "two penny
jeering gigge," or perhaps an anagram or acrostic or "pindarick," on
some virtuous citizen or industrious dame, recently deceased. In
business relations the deacon prevailed powerfully over the gallant. If,
as Tyler says, the New England theocracy was a social structure resting
on a book, that corner-stone was the Bay Psalm-Book and the walls above
it were built of sermons. These sermons seem to us technical, sapless,
and jejune, "as soporific as a bed of poppies," but they show the
intelligence, energy, and assiduity of the writers just as plainly as
they show the gloomy theology and sad earnestness of the time. And
though no one now reads them, we profoundly respect them, for they have
been conned by our honored forefathers with more studious and loving
attention than falls to the lot of most modern books, no matter what
their subject or who their author.

I have told at length the story of the publication of the Bay Psalm-Book
and of other psalm-books printed and used in New England, in "The
Sabbath in Puritan New England" and I need not dwell upon it here.

The first book or tract printed in Boston was in 1675--an execution
sermon, by Increase Mather, "The Wicked Man's Portion." The first book
printed in Connecticut was the "Saybrook Confession and Platform," in
1710. The first book of any considerable size printed in Rhode Island
was "An Apology for the True Christian Divinity," issued in 1729.

There were a number of books for the Indians in the Indian tongue which
no one but Hon. J. Hammond Trumbull could now read an he would; also a
few histories of the Indian wars; and Thomas Prince published by
subscription an exceedingly dull chronological History of New England.
As he began his history with year 1, first month and sixth day--and
Adam, he had tired out even pious Bostonians by the time he reached New
England; and subscriptions and subscribers languished till the book died
unmourned just when the year 1633 had been caught up with. The "Simple
Cobler of Agawam" made a vast sensation with his scurrilous bombs. There
were a few volumes of poems printed; one by "the Tenth Muse," Anne
Bradstreet, of whose songs pious and cautious John Norton said (and
evidently believed what he said too) that if Virgil could have read them
he would have condemned his own work to the flames. Michael
Wigglesworth's "Day of Doom," that epic of hell-fire and damnation which
fairly chokes us with its sulphurous fumes, was widely read and deeply
venerated; in fact it was a great popular success. Fifteen hundred
copies were sold in the first year, one copy to each thirty-five
inhabitants of New England--a proportion showing a commercial success
unsurpassed in modern times. It was printed also on broadsides, in a
cheap form, and hawked over the country by chapmen in order to further
spread its lurid and baleful shadow. The dull but sympathetic "Meat out
of the Eater" by the same author quickly went through five editions.
"New England's Crisis," "A Posie from Old Mr. Dods Garden," "A Looking
Glasse for New England," and "The Origin of the Whalebone Petticoat--a
Satyr," end the monotonous list of poetry. Fully three-quarters of the
entire number of publications proceeded from the prolific Mather stock,
and of course bore the pompous, verbose, Mather traits of authorship.
Cotton Mather had the felicity of having published as his share of "New
England's First Fruits" a list to make a modern author green with
envy--three hundred and eighty-two different works; three hundred of
these may be seen in the library of the American Antiquarian Society:
not all were brought out in America, however. His "Magnalia" was printed
in England, and the exigences and vicissitudes of publication at that
time are fully told in his diary; also the exalted and idealized view
which he took of authorship. At the first definite plan which he
formulated in his mind of his history of New England, he "cried mightily
to God;" and he went through a series of fasts and vigils at intervals
until the book was completed, when he held extended exercises of secret
thanksgiving. Prostrate on his study floor, in the dust, he joyfully
received full assurance in his heart from God that his work would be
successful. But writing the book is not all the work, as any author
knows; and he then had much distress and many troubled fasts over the
best way of printing it, of transporting it to England; and when at last
he placed his "elaborate composures" on shipboard, he prayed an entire
day. No ascetic Papist ever observed fast days more vigorously than did
Cotton Mather while his book was on its long sea-voyage and in England.
He sent it in June in the year 1700, and did not hear from it till
December. What a thrill of sympathy one feels for him! Then he learned
that the printers were cold; the expense of publication would be £600, a
goodly sum to venture; it was "clogged by the dispositions" of the man
to whom it was sent; it was delayed and obstructed; he was left
strangely in the dark about it; months passed without any news. Still
his faith in God supported him. At last a sainted Christian came forward
in London, a stranger, and offered to print the book at his own expense
and give the author as many copies as he wished. That was in what
Carlyle called "the Day of Dedications and Patrons, not of Bargains with
Booksellers." In October, 1702, after two and a half long years of
waiting, one copy of the wished-for volume arrived, and the author and
his dearest friend, Mr. Bromfield, piously greeted it with a day of
solemn fasting and praise.

Can the contrast of that day with the present, can the character of
Cotton Mather be more plainly shown than by this story of the
publication of the "Magnalia?" Many anxious days did he pass over other
manuscripts. Some were lost in London for seven years. One book
disappeared entirely from his ken, but was recovered by his heirs. His
most important and largest work, the six folio volumes of his "Biblia
Americana," pursued by "Strange Frowns of Heaven" could not find a
publisher and still is unprinted. Cotton Mather survived his own era,
his congenial atmosphere, and, whether he was conscious of it or not,
was indeed, as Dexter called him, a literary dodo, an isolated relic of
early fantastic methods of composition. His work was not, as Prince
said, "agreeable to the Gust of his Age." Even the name of Mather,
all-powerful in New England, could not place the "Biblia Americana" in
the press.

There were no American novels in those early days. The first book
deserving the appellation that was printed in New England was
"intituled" "The Power of Sympathy, or the Triumph of Nature--A Novel
founded on truth and dedicated to the Young Ladies of America." It
appeared in 1789. Four years later came "The Helpless Orphan, or The
Innocent Victim of Revenge," and then "The Coquette, or the History of
Eliza Wharton."

The only book that was written by a woman and published in New England
during the first century of New England printing, was a collection of
the poems of Anne Bradstreet. A few--very few--pamphlets by women
authors of that date are also known: "The Confession of Faith--A Summary
of Divinity drawn up by a young Gentlewoman in the 25th year of her
Age;" Mrs. Elizabeth Cotton's "Peculiar Treasure of the Almighty King
Opened;" Elizabeth White's "Experience;" Mary Rowlandson's pathetic
account of her captivity--these are all. Hannah Adams was the first New
England woman to adopt literature as a profession.

Doubtless many Puritans shared Governor Winthrop's opinion of literary
women, which that tolerant and gentle man expressed thus:

     "The Governor of Hartford upon Connecticut came to Boston, and
     brought his wife with him (a godly young woman and of special
     parts) who was fallen into a sad infirmity, the loss of her
     understanding and reason which had been growing upon her divers
     years by occasion of her giving herself wholly to reading and
     writing, and had written many books. Her husband being very loving
     and tender of her, was loath to grieve her; but he saw his error
     when it was too late. For if she had attended her household
     affairs, and such things as belong to women, and not gone out of
     her way and calling to meddle in such things as are proper for men,
     whose minds are stronger, etc., she had kept her wits, and might
     have improved them usefully and honorably in the place God had set

I know of no illustrated books printed New England in the seventeenth
century, nor any with frontispieces or portraits. In 1723 a portrait of
Increase Mather appeared in his Life, which was written by monopolizing
Cotton Mather. It was a poor thing, being engraved in London by John
Sturt. When Peter Pelham came to Boston about 1725 and started as a
portrait engraver, and married the Widow Copley with her thriving
tobacco shop, he engraved and published many likenesses of authors and
ministers, some of which were bound with their books, others sold singly
by subscription. The mezzotint of Cotton Mather, made in 1727, sold for
two shillings. Hubbard's Narrative had a map in 1677; and in 1713 the
lives of Dr. Faustus, Friar Bacon, Conjurors Bungay and Vanderwart were
printed conjointly in a volume "with cuts"--perhaps the earliest
illustrated New England book, unless we except the New England Primer.
"The Prodigal Daughter, or the Disobedient Lady Reclaimed" had "curious
cuts;" so also did the "Parents Gift" in 1741, and "A Present for a
Servant Maid." "Pilgrim's Progress" was printed in Boston in an
illustrated edition in 1744. But for any handsomely illustrated books
American readers sent, until Revolutionary times, to England.

There were, however, at a later date, some few books printed with
special elegance, with broad margins. The "Discourse on the United
Submission to Higher Powers" had some copies that were printed on pages
ten inches by seven and a quarter inches in size, while the regular
edition was only six by six and a half inches. A letter is in existence
of Governor Trumbull's ordering that some copies of the funeral sermon
preached at his wife's death be printed on heavy writing paper. Copies
of the first edition of the "Magnalia" also were issued on large paper
and owned in New England, but of course that work was done in London.

The printing of the earliest books was generally poor, showing the work
of inexperienced and unaccustomed hands; but the paper was good,
sometimes of fine quality, and always strong. The type was fairly good
and clear until Revolutionary times, when paper, ink, and type, being
made by new workmen out of the poorest materials, were bad beyond
belief, producing, in fact, an almost unreadable page. Throughout the
first half of the eighteenth century the books printed in New England
compared favorably with the ones imported from England at that date, and
in the special case of the "Poetical Oblation"--a fine quarto, offered
by Harvard College to George III. on his accession to the throne, the
typography is exquisite. For the early binding but one word can be
said--that of praise. All these old books had Charles Lamb's desideratum
of a volume, were "strong backed and neat bound." Well dressed was the
morocco, the leather, the vellum, parchment, or basil, firmly was it
glued in place, well-sewed were the leaves--loudly can we sing the
goodness and true worth of colonial bookbinding.

In many New England libraries and collections may be seen specimens of
colonial printing and binding; the library of the American Antiquarian
Society is particularly rich in such ancient treasures. Some of the
books from Cotton Mather's library may there be found, that library
which Dunton called the glory of New England, and which he said was the
largest privately owned collection of books that he had ever seen; but
many of them were burned in the sacking of Boston by the British. It
consisted of over seven thousand printed volumes and many manuscripts,
and its estimated value was £8,000. The majority of these volumes was
naturally upon divinity.

We can also form an idea of a New England library at a somewhat earlier
date, for the list of books in Elder Brewster's library has been
preserved. They numbered four hundred. Of these books, sixty-two were in
Latin and three hundred in English. There were forty-eight folios and
one hundred and twenty-one octavos. This was quite a bulky and heavy
library for transportation to and through that new country. All were not
imported at one time, as the succession of dates shows. Brewster
purchased from time to time the best books brought out in England on
subjects which interested him, until it was really a rich exegetical
collection, and may possibly have been used as a circulating one. Nearly
all the number were religious, theological, or historical books;
fourteen were in rhyme. Among the poems were "A Turncoat of the Times,"
Spenser's "Prosopopeia," "The Scyrge of Drunkenness," a "Description of
a Good Wife," the ballad of "The Maunding Soldier," and Wither's works.
One might have been a tragedy, "Messalina," but there were no other
dramatic works.

Other benefactors of booksellers had good libraries. Parson Hooker left
behind him £300 worth of books in an estate of £1,336. Parson Wareham
had £82 worth in an estate of £1,200. Rev. Ebenezer Pemberton left, in
1717, books which made one thousand lots in an auction, for which the
first book catalogue ever compiled in New England was printed. Even by
1723 the library of Harvard College contained none of the works of
Addison, Bolingbroke, Young, Swift, Prior, Steele, Dryden, or Pope. In
1734, the catalogue of T. Cox, a prominent Boston bookseller, did not
contain the "Spectator" nor the works of Shakespeare or Milton. The
literary revival of the time of Queen Anne was evidently but little felt
in New England during its inception. The facile and constant quotation
from the ancient classics show how constantly and thoroughly the latter
were studied.

Among early New England publications we must not fail to speak of the
omnipresent almanac. Ere there was a New England Psalm-Book there was a
New England Almanac, and succeeding years brought new ones forth in
flocks. Though Charles Lamb included almanacs in his catalogue of "books
which are no books," and the founder of the Bodleian Library would not
admit that they were books and excluded them from the shelves of his
library, when New England philomaths and philodespots numbered such
honored names as Mather, Dudley, Sewall, Chauncey, Brattle, Ames, and
Holyoke, New England Puritans must have deemed almanacs to be books, and
so do we. In many a colonial household where the Bible and psalm-book
formed the sole standing library, the almanac was the only annual
book-comer that crossed the threshold and lodged under the roof-tree. On
a nail by the side of the great fireplace hung proudly and prominently
the Family Almanac, the Ephemeris. This Family Almanac was a guide,
counsellor, and friend; a magazine, cyclopædia, and jest-book; was even
a spelling-book. It was consulted by every member of the household on
every subject, save possibly religion--for that they had the best of all
books. The planters learned from it meteorological, astronomical,
thaumaturgical, botanical, and agricultural facts--or rather what the
editor stated as facts. Social customs and peculiarities and ethics were
also touched upon in a manner suited to the requirements and capacity of
the reader; medical and hygienic advice were given for man and beast,
ending with the quaint warning to use before and after taking that
unfashionable medicine, prayer. Wit, history, romance, poetry, all
contributed to the almanac. The printer turned an extra penny by
advertising various articles that he had for sale, from negro slaves to
garden seeds. So, in addition to what the original readers learned, we
now find an almanac a most suggestive record of the olden times.

As with many colonial books, the most attractive part of an almanac is
not always the printed contents, but the interlined comments of the
original owner. He kept frequently an account of his scanty and sparse
purchases; from them we gain a knowledge of the price of commodities in
his time. We learn also upon how little a New England planter could
live, how little money he spent. He kept a record of the births,
weights, and measures of his family; he entered the purchase and number
of his lottery tickets (but I never found the proud and happy statement
of a lottery prize). He wrote therein Greek verse, as did John Cotton.
He entered wig-making and hair-dressing accounts, as did Thomas Prince.
He kept the amount of beer and cider he made and drank, and the sad
statement of deaths in the neighborhood; such grim entries are seen as
these made by old Ezra Stiles: "This day Ethan Allen died and went to
Hell." "This day died Joseph Bellamy and went to Heaven, where he can
dictate and domineer no longer." President Stiles did not foresee that
his great-grandson would be Joseph Bellamy's also, and would plan a
social reform more vast in its changes than the really sensible scheme
he thought out, of "uniting and cementing his offspring by transfusing
to distant generations certain influential principles," and of
benefiting the growing population of the New World by carefully planned
and wide-spread marriages with virtuous and pious Stileses.

Of course the almanac-owner kept account of the weather--a brave record
through January and February and March; then, lessening his zeal as
spring-planting began, the hard-working summer months have clean pages;
while a remorseful energy in November and December ofttimes made him
renew in the smoke-dried almanac his crabbed entries. Hence from
contemporary evidence does old New England life seem all winter, all
bitter cold and fierce rains and harsh winds; yet there were surely some
warm summer days and cheerful sunshine, so smoothly serene as to gain no

The relations between book-publishers and authors, between
book-publishers and the public, were from earliest days most friendly.
There was much polite exchange of compliments; the intelligence of the
public was always mightily flattered and shown up in a very civil
fashion in such manner as this:

     "A New Edition of the really beautiful & sentimental Novel Armine
     and Elvira Is this day published price 9d sewed in blue paper. To
     the Ladies in particular and others the lovers of Sentiment and
     Poetick Numbers this Novel is recommended, to them it will afford a
     delightful Repast. To others it is not an object."

     "For the pleasing entertainment of the Polite Part of Mankind I
     have printed the most beautiful Poems of Mr. Stephen Duck the
     famous Wiltshire Poet. It is a full Demonstration to me that the
     People of New England have a fine Taste for good Sense and polite
     Learning having already sold 1200 of these Poems."

Though Stephen Duck appealed to polite and literate New Englanders just
as he became the rage in old England, his name is now almost forgotten.

It must have inclined the public most favorably to a book to be told
that the volume is "intended only for the highly virtuous;" that "the
glowing pen of the author brought this token into life solely from
Admiration of a community fitted by amazing Intelligence to receive it:"

     "'Tis said with truth by a secret but ingenious New England
     minister that no town is so worthy the vendue of this pleasing book
     as these polite gentlemen and gentlewomen to whom it will be on
     Friday offered."

Authors, if not authoresses, were treated with much respect and
encouragement. Indeed, they were urged to write. Books printed by
subscription were the rule, and, as an inducement, the names of
subscribers were printed in a list at the end of the book, and an extra
copy was given for every six numbers subscribed for. The "undertakers"
did not always trouble themselves to deliver the book when printed. A
notice was posted, or printed in a newspaper, advising subscribers
pretty sharply that their copies (which had apparently been paid for in
advance) must be sent for within a certain time or the books would be
"sold to others desiring." One American poet, the author of "War--An
Heroic Poem," a work which has been lost to us, threatened to prosecute
his patrons for not taking his book. Sometimes the printer of the book
also seized the opportunity of the large circulation to drum up
delinquent citizens who had not paid him at previous dates for news
letters, sermons, funeral verses, etc. One of the first books printed in
Hartford was paid for largely by a man who ran a woollen mill in the
vicinity. He took the convenient occasion to thriftily forward his own
trade by having printed and bound with the poems, and thus distributing
to sheep-farmers and farm-wives in the surrounding towns, full
instructions about preparing the wool to be sent to him.

Frequently the notices in the newspapers bore, in quaint wording, warm
testimony to the popularity of a book. "The above book is advertised by
the desire of numbers who have read and admired it." "If to raise the
soul to heights of honourable pride is not unworthy so great a mind,
praise of this book may be given, though needless, since many request
it." "Many curious gentlemen formerly buying their books in London now
wish to buy only in New England where so acute a manner of composure is
found." "For the polite and inquisitive part of Mankind in New England
these poetick fancies are highly conformed as many residents testify by
their frequent perusal and approval."

Public encouragement to aspiring authors was not lacking; this
advertisement in the _New England Weekly Journal_ of March, 1728, is
indeed delightful:

     "There is now preparing for the Press, and may upon Suitable
     Encouragement be communicated to the Publick, a Miscellany of Poems
     of Severall Hands and upon severall occasions some of which have
     already been Published and received the Approbation of the best
     Judges with many more very late performances of equal if not
     superior Beauty which have never yet seen the Light; if therefore
     any Ingenious Gentlemen are disposed to contribute towards the
     erecting of a Poetickal Monument for the Honour of This Country
     Either by their Generous Subscriptions or Composures, they are
     desired to convey them to Mr. Daniel Henchman or the Publisher of
     this Paper by whom they will be received with Candour and

Just fancy the effect of a similar advertisement in a prominent
newspaper of to-day! How composures would flow in from the ingenious
gentlemen who love to see themselves in print! What a poetical monument
could be reared--to the very sky! I have never seen in any colonial
newspaper any subsequent references to this proposed collection or
miscellany of composures, and I know of no book that was published at
that time which could answer the description, so I suspect the well-laid
plan came to naught. The specimens of local and ephemeral poetry that
were printed in the colonial press in succeeding years make it easy to
comprehend the failure of the project: the villanously rhymed effusions
fairly imposthumate all the ribald vulgarity of the times; coarseness
and dulness of subject and thought being rivalled only by the
super-coarseness of the verbiage. I do not say that the newspapers
provoked these stupid rhymes, which are about as much poetry as is a
game of crambo; but I do not find them until "newspaper-time," and fear
the extra circulation through the weekly press may be held partly

A book called "A Collection of Poems by Several Hands" apparently was
gathered by methods similar to the one shown by the advertisement just
quoted. It was printed in 1744, and was a puerile and banal collection
containing but few good verses, and was apparently made expressly to
show off the literary accomplishments of Mather Byles, who was what
Carlyle would call an intellectual dapperling.

Book-auctions, held first in England in 1676, formed one of the rare
diversions in the provinces, and were apparently largely attended by
"sentimentalists," as one book-dealer called book-buyers. The business
of book-auctioneering was called, in the bombastic language of the
times, "the sublimest Auxiliary which Science Commerce and Arts either
has or perhaps ever will possess," while the bookseller was called
"Provedore to the Sentimentalists and Professor of Book Auctioneering."
These sales or vendues were frequently held at taverns.

At a very early day intelligent and progressive Bostonians established a
public library. By the year 1673 bequests had been made to such an
institution, and consignments deemed suitable for it had been sent to
Boston by London booksellers. All these books were properly sober and
pious. The Prince library, that first large American book collection,
which was conceived and started by Thomas Prince in 1703, was nobly
planned and nobly carried out, and deserved more gratitude and more care
than it received at modern hands.

But many towns had no public library, hence much friendly exchange and
lending of books took place between book-owners and neighbors, sometimes
apparently without the owner's consent or knowledge. The newspapers,
among their sparse advertisements, have many such as this simply naïve
one in the _Boston News Letter_ of July 7, 1712:

     "A certain Person having lent two Books viz; Rushworths Collections
     & Fullers Holy War & forgotten unto whom; These are desiring the
     Borrower to be so kind as to return said Books unto Owner."

Or this sarcastic request in the _Connecticut Courant_.

     "The gentleman who took the second volume of Bacons Abridgment from
     Mr. David Balls bedroom on the 18th of November would do well to
     return it to the owner whose name he will find on the 15th Page. If
     he choose rather to keep it the owner wishes him to call and take
     the rest of the set."

Another Connecticut man is meekly asked to "return the 3rd Vol of Don
Quixote & take the 4th instead if he chuse."

Connecticut folk seemed to be particularly given to this slipshod
fashion of promiscuous and unlicensed book-borrowing, if we can trust
the apparent proof given by Connecticut newspapers in their many
advertisements of lost books. In some notices it is darkly hinted that
"specifications of books long lent have been given" (to the sheriff
perhaps); and again, a meek suggestion that the owner wishes to read a
long missing volume and would be grateful for an opportunity to do so.
One ungallant soul advertised for "the she-person that borrowed Mr.
Thos. Browns Works from a gentleman she is well acquainted with."

There was not the redeeming excuse for non-return sometimes given by
like "desuming deadheads" nowadays, that the owner's name had been
forgotten, for the inscription "Perley Morse, His Book," or "Catey
Bradford, Her Book," or whatever the name might be, was quickly and
repeatedly written by each colonial owner as soon as the book was

Frequently also the dates and places of residence appear. Even the very
dates of ownership and the quaint old names are interesting. Bathsheba
Spalding, Noca Emmons, Elam Noyes, Titherming Layton, Engrossed Bump,
Sally Box, Tilly Minching, Zerushaddi Key, Comfort Vine--these are a few
of the odd signatures I have found in old books.

Readers also had a pleasant habit of leaving a sign-manual on the last
page of a book, thus: "Timothy Pitkin perlegit A.D. 1765," "Cotton Smith
perlegit 1740." A clear-speaking lesson are such records to this
generation--a lesson of patience and diligence. How we venerate, with
what awe we regard the name of Timothy Pitkin, and know that he lived to
read through that vast folio--the first ever printed in America--the
"Complete Body of Divinity," a folio of over nine hundred
double-columned, compactly printed pages! And yet, why should not
Timothy Pitkin live through reading it when Samuel Willard lived through
writing it? Entries of dates in old Bibles frequently show that those
sainted old Christians had read entirely through that holy book ten
times in regular order.

The handwriting in all these ancient books is very different from our
modern penmanship, invariably bearing an appearance not exactly of much
labor, but of much care, as if the writer did not use a pen every
day--did not become too familiar with that weighty implement, and hence
had a vast respect for it when he did take it in hand. Every _t_ is
crossed, every _i_ is dotted, every _a_ and _o_ perfectly rounded, every
tail of every _g_ and _y_ and _z_ is precisely twisted in colonial
script. I think the very trouble and preparation incident to writing
conduced to the finish and elegance of the penmanship. No stylographic
pens were used in those days, but instead, a carefully prepared quill;
and the ink was made of ink-cake or ink-powder dissolved in water; or,
more troublesome still, home-made ink, tediously prepared with nutgalls,
walnut or swamp maple bark, or iron filings steeped in vinegar and
water, or copperas.

Special pains were taken in writing a name in a book. Penmanship was
almost a fine art in colonial days, the one indispensable accomplishment
of a school teacher; and he was often hired to exercise it in writing a
name "perspicuously" in a book. Sometimes the owner's name is seen drawn
with much care in a little wreath or circle of ornamentation. This may
be what Judge Sewall refers to with so much pride when he speaks of
"writing a name" in a gift-book, or it may be what was known as
"conceits" or "fine knotting."

The colonists had a very reprehensible habit, which (save for the pains
taken in writing) might be called book-scribbling. Rude rhymes and
sentiments are often found with the past owner's name, and form a
title-page lore which, ill-spelt and simple as the verses are, have an
interest to the antiquary of which the writer never dreamed. They
consist chiefly of adjurations to honesty, specially with regard to the
special volume thus inscribed:

    "Steal not this book my honest friend,
     For fear the gallows will be your End."

    "If you dare to steal this Book
     The Devil will catch you on his Hook."

This was accompanied by the outline of a very spirited "personal devil"
with a pitchfork and an enormous gridiron.

Still another appealed to terrors:

    "This is Hanah Moxon Her book
     You may just within it Look
     You had better not do more
     For old black Satan's at the Door
     And will snatch at stealing hands
     Look behind you! There He Stands."

This had a tail-piece of an open door with a very black forked tail
thrust out of it.

In a leather-bound Bible was seen this rhyme:

    "Evert Jonson His book
     God Give him Grase thair in to look
     not only to looke but to understand
     that Larning is better than Hous or Land
     When Land is Gon & Gold is spent
     then larning is most Axelant
     When I am dead & Rotton
     If this you see Remember me
     Though others is forgotton."

Different portions of this script have been seen in many books.

Four rhymes seem to be specially the property of schoolboys, being found
in Accidences, Spellers, "Logick" Primers, and other school-books, down
even to the present day.

    "This book is one thing, My fist's another,
     If you touch the one thing, You'll feel the other."

    "Hic liber eat meus
       And that I will show
     Si aliquis capit
       I'll give him a blow."

    "This book is mine
     By Law Divine
       And if it runs astray
     I'll call you kind
     My desk to find
       And put it safe away."

  "Hic liber est meus Deny it who can
  Zenas Graves Junior An honest man."

There also appears a practical warning which may be read with attention
and profit by the public now a days:

    "If thou art borrowed by a friend
       Right welcome shall he be
     To read, to study, _not_ to lend
       But to _return_ to me.

    "Not that imparted knowledge doth
       Diminish Learnings Store
     But books I find if often lent
       Return to me no more."

     "Read _Slowly_--Pause _Frequently_--Think _Seriously_--Finger
     _Lightly_--Keep _Cleanly_--Return _Duly_--with the _Corners_ of the
     Leaves NOT TURNED DOWN."

The fashion of using book-plates was by no means so general among New
England Puritans as among rich Virginians and New Yorkers and
Pennsylvanian Quakers. Mr. Lichtenstein, writing in the New England
Historical and Genealogical Register in 1886, says he has seen no New
England book-plates of earlier date than 1735. At later dates the
Holyokes, Dudleys, Boylstons, and Phillips, all used book-plates. The
plates most familiar to students in old libraries in New England are
those of the Vaughans and of Isaiah Thomas.

Another, a living interest is found in these old, dusty, leather-bound
volumes, which is not in the inscriptions and not, alas, in the printed
words. They are the chosen home of a race of pigmy spiderlings who love
musty theology with an affection found in no one else nowadays. In these
dingy homes they live and rear their hideous little progeny: for in the
cold light of a microscope these tiny brown book-dwellers are not
beautiful; they are flat, crab-like, goggle-eyed, hairy; and they zigzag
across the page on their ugly crooked legs in a sprawling, drunken
fashion. They do not eat the books; they live apparently on air; yet if
you crush them between the pages they leave a stain of vivid scarlet to
reproach you in future readings for your needless cruelty. I cannot kill
them; though flaming is their blood's rebuke, it is aristocratically as
well as theologically blue. In their veins runs the ichor--arachnidian
though it be--that came over in the Mayflower; yes, doubly honored, came
over in the special stateroom of an Ainsworth's Psalm-Book or a Genevan
Bible. No degrading alliances, no admixtures through foreign emigration,
have crossed that pure inbred strain; my book-spiders are of real
Pilgrim stock--they are true New England Brahmins.

Any one who turns over with attention the books of an old New England
library must be struck with a sense of the affection with which these
books have been treasured, the care with which they have been read, and,
in case of accident, with which they have been repaired. One psalm-book,
nibbled by mice, has had every page neatly mended by the insertion of
thin sheets of paper to replace the lost bits; and some painstaking and
pious New Englander, with a pen and skill worthy the illuminating monks
of another faith, has minutely printed the missing letters on both sides
of the inserted slip in a text no larger than the surrounding print.
Another book, a Bible, burnt in round holes by a slow-burning coal from
the pipe of a sleepy reader, has been mended in the same careful manner.
I have seen Bibles that have been read and turned over till the margins
of the pages at the lower corner and outer edge were worn off down to
the print by loving daily use. In one such the margins had been neatly
replaced by pasted slips of paper. In more than one book I have found a
minutely written home-made index on the blank pages at the end of the
volume, showing a personal interest and love for a book which can
hardly be equalled. Careful notes and references and postils also show a
patient and appreciative perusal.

Though books were so closely cherished, so seemly bekept in colonial
days, they were subject to one indignity with which now they are
unmenaced and undegraded--they were sometimes sentenced to be burned by
the public hangman. In 1654 the writings of John Reeves and Ludowick
Muggleton, who set up to be prophets, were burned by that abhorred
public functionary in Boston market-place; and two years later Quaker
books were similarly destroyed. William Pyncheon's book was burned, in
1650, in Boston Market. In 1707 a "libel on the Governor" was hanged by
the hangman. In 1754 a pamphlet called "The Monster of Monsters," a
sharp political criticism on the Massachusetts Court, was thus burned in
King Street, Boston. From the _Connecticut Gazette_ of November 29th,
1755, we learn that another offending publication was sentenced to be
"publickly whipt according to Moses Law with 40 stripes save one, then
Burnt." How a true book-lover winces at the thought of the public
hangman placing his blood-stained hand on any book, no matter how much a



From the earliest days the Puritan colonists fought stoutly, for the
sake of St. Paul, against long hair. They proved themselves worthy the
opprobrious name of Roundhead. Endicott's first act was to institute a
solemn and insistent association against long hair. This wearing of long
locks was one of the existing evils, a wile of the devil, which bade
fair to creep into New England, and in its incipiency was proceeded
against by the General Court, "that the men might not wear long hair
like women's hair." The ministers preached bitterly and incessantly
against the fashion; the Apostle Eliot, Parson Stoddard, Parson
Rogers, President Chauncey, President Wigglesworth, all launched
burning invective and skilful Biblical argument against the
long-growing locks--"the disguisement of long Ruffianly hair" (or
Russianly--whichever it may be). It was derisively suggested that long
nails like Nebuchadnezzar's would next be in fashion. Men under sentence
for offences were offered release from punishment if they would "cut off
their long hair into a civil frame." Exact rules were given from the
pulpit as to the properly Puritan length--that the hair should not lie
over the neck, the band, or the doublet collar; in the winter it might
be suffered to grow a little below the ear for warmth. Personal pride
and dignity were appealed to, that no Christian gentleman would wish to
look like "every Ruffian, every wild-Irish, every hangman, every varlet
and vagabond." By Sewall's time, however, Puritan though he were, we see
his white locks flowing long over his doublet collar, and forming a
fitting frame to his serene, benignant countenance.

Puritan women also were not above reproach in regard to the fashion of
extravagant hair-dressing; they also "showed the vile note of
impudency." One parson thus severely addressed them from the pulpit:
"The special sin of woman is pride and haughtiness, and that because
they are generally more ignorant and worthless," and he added that this
feminine pride vented itself in gesture, hair, behavior, and apparel. I
fear all this was true, for the Court also complained of my ignorant and
worthless sex for "cutting and curling and laying out of the hair,
especially among the younger sort." Increase Mather gave them this
thrust in his sermon on the comet, in 1683: "Will not the haughty
daughters of Zion refrain their pride in apparell? Will they lay out
their hair, and wear their false locks, their borders, and towers like
comets about their heads?" And they were called "Apes of Fancy,
friziling and curlying of their hayr."

I think the sober and decorous women settlers must have worn their hair
cut straight across the forehead, like our modern "bangs;" for
Higginson, writing of the Indians in 1692, says: "Their hair is
generally black and cut before like our gentlewomen." The false locks
denounced by Mather were doubtless "a pair of Perukes which are pretty"
of Pepys's time, about 1656; or the "heart breakers" worn in 1670, which
set out like butterfly-wings over the ears, and which were described
thus: "False locks set on wyers to make them stand at a distance from
the head."

From a letter written by Knollys to Cecil we learn that Mary Queen of
Scots wore these perukes. He says:

     "Mary Seaton among other pretty devices yesterday and this day, she
     did set such a curled hair upon the Queen that was said to be a
     Peruke, that showed very delicately, and every other day she hath a
     new device of head dressing without any cost, and yet setteth forth
     a woman gaylie well."

The "towers like comets" were doubtless commodes, which were in high
fashion in Europe at the beginning of the eighteenth century until about
the year 1711, though I have never found that the word commode was used
in America. These commodes were enormously high frames of wire covered
with thin silk, or plaitings of muslin or lace, or frills of ribbon--and
sadly belied their name.

A simpler form of hair-dressing succeeded the commode; portraits painted
during the following half-century, such as those of Copley, Smibert, and
Blackburn, show an elegant and graceful form of coiffure, the hair
brushed back and raised slightly from the forehead, and sometimes curled
loosely behind the ears. At a later date the curls were almost
universally surmounted by a lace cap. Pomatum began to be used by the
middle of the century. In the _Boston News Letter_ of 1768, we read of
"Black White and Yellow Pomatum from six Coppers to Two Shillings per
Roll." The hair was frequently powdered. Hair-dressers sold powdering
puffs and powdering bags and powdering machines, and a dozen different
varieties of hair-powder--brown, maréchal, scented, plain, and blue. By
Revolutionary times a new tower, or "talematongue," had arisen; the
front hair was pulled up over a stuffed cushion or roll, and mixed with
powder and grease; the back hair was strained up in loops or short
curls, surrounded and surmounted with ribbons, pompons, aigrettes,
jewels, gauze, and flowers and feathers, till the structure was half a
yard in height. This fashion was much admired by some; a young lover of
the day wrote thus sentimentally of a fair Hartford girl: "Her hair
covered her cushion as a plate of the most beautiful enamel frosted with
silver." A Revolutionary soldier wrote a poem, however, which regarded
from a different point of view this elaborate headgear in such a time of
national depression. His rhymes began thus:

    "Ladies you had better leave off your high rolls
     Lest by extravagance you lose your poor souls
     Then haul out the wool, and likewise the tow
     'Twill clothe our whole army we very well know."

The "Dress-à-la-Independance" was a style of hair-dressing with thirteen
curls at the neck, thus to honor the thirteen new States.

In the year 1771 Anna Green Winslow wrote in her diary an account of one
of these elaborate hair-dressings which she then saw. She ends her
description thus:

     "How long she was under his opperation I know not. I saw him twist
     & tug & pick & cut off whole locks of gray hair at a slice, the
     lady telling him he would have no hair to dress next time, for a
     space of an hour and a half, when I left them he seeming not to be
     near done."

She also gives a most sprightly account of the manufacture of a roll for
her own hair:

     "I had my HEDDUS roll on. Aunt Storer said it ought to be made
     less, Aunt Deming said it ought not to be made at all. It makes my
     head ach and burn and itch like anything Mama. This famous Roll is
     not made wholly of a Red-Cow Tail but is a mixture of that &
     horsehair very coarse & a little human hair of a yellow hue that I
     suppose was taken out of the back part of an old wig. But D. (the
     barber) made it, all carded together and twisted up. When it first
     came home, Aunt put it on, and my new cap upon it; she then took up
     her apron and measured me & from the roots of my hair on my
     forehead to the top of my notions I measured above an inch longer
     than I did downward from the roots of my hair to the end of my
     chin. Nothing renders a young person more amiable than Virtue and
     Modesty without the help of fals hair, Red-Cow tail or D. the

The _Boston Gazette_ had, in 1771, a ludicrous description of an
accident to a young woman in the streets of that town. In an infaust
moment she was thrown down by a runaway, and her tower received serious
damage. It burst its thin outer wall of natural hair, and disgorged
cotton and wool and tow stuffing, false hair, loops of ribbon and gauze.
Ill-bred boys kicked off portions of the various excrescences, and the
tower-wearer was jeered at until she was glad to escape with her own few
natural locks.

A New England clergyman--Manasseh Cutler--wrote thus of the head-dress
of Mrs. General Knox in 1787:

     "Her hair in front is craped at least a foot high much in the form
     of a churn bottom upward and topped off with a wire skeleton in the
     same form covered with black gauze which hangs in streamers down
     her back. Her hair behind is in a large braid turned up and
     confined with a monstrous large crooked comb. She reminded me of
     the monstrous cap worn by the Marquis of La Fayettes valet,
     commonly called on this account the Marquises devil."

Hair so elaborately arranged could not be dressed daily. Once a week was
frequently thought sufficient; and some very disgusting accounts are
given of methods to dress the hair so it would "keep safely" for a
month. The Abbé Robin wrote of New England women in 1781:

     "The hair of the head is raised and supported upon cushions to an
     extravagant height somewhat resembling the manner in which the
     French ladies wore their hair some years ago. Instead of powdering
     they often wash the head, which answers the purpose well enough as
     their own hair is commonly of an agreeable light color, but the
     more fashionable among them begin to adopt the European fashion of
     setting off the head to the best advantage."

The fashion of the roll was of much importance, and various shaped rolls
were advertised; we find one of "a modish new roll weighing but 8 ounces
when others weigh fourteen ounces." We can well believe that such a
heavy roll made poor Anna Winslow's head "ach and itch like anything." A
Salem hair-dresser, who employed twelve barbers, advertised thus in
1773: "Ladies shall be attended to in the polite constructions of rolls
such as may tend to raise their heads to any pitch they desire."

The grotesqueness of such adornment found frequent ridicule in prose and
verse. One poet sang:

    "Give Chloe a bushel of horsehair and wool,
       Of paste and pomatum a pound,
     Ten yards of gay ribbon to deck her sweet skull
       And gauze to encompass it round.

    "Of all the gay colours the rainbow displays
       Be those ribbons which hang on her head,
     Be her flowers adapted to make the folks gaze,
       And about the whole work be they spread.

    "Let her flaps fly behind for a yard at the least,
       Let her curls meet just under her chin,
     Let those curls be supported to keep up the list,
       With an hundred instead of one pin."

We can easily see that after such rough treatment the hair needed
restoring waters; and indeed from earliest times hair-restorers and
hair-dyes did these "vain ancients" use. "Women with juice of herbs gray
locks disguised." In these days of manifold mysterious nostrums that
gild the head of declining age and make glad the waste places on bald
young masculine pates, let us read the simple receipts of the good old

     "Take half a pound of Aqua Mellis in the Springtime of the Year,
     warm a little of it every morning when you rise in a Sawcer, and
     tie a little Spunge to a fine Box combe, and dip it in the water
     and therewith moisten the roots of the hair in Combing it, and it
     will grow long and thick and curled in a very short time."

     "Take three spoonfuls of Honey and a good handful of Vine Twigs
     that twist like Wire, and beat them wel, and strain their Juyce
     into the Honey and anoynt the Bald Places therewith."

Here is what Captain Sam Ingersoll of Salem used, or at any rate had the
formula of, in 1685:

     "A Metson to make a mans heare groe when he is bald. Take sume fier
     flies & sum Redd wormes & black snayls and sum hume bees and dri
     them and pound them & mixt them in milk or water."

These washes were not so expensive as Hirsutus or Tricopherous, but
quite as effective perhaps. There were hair-dyes, too, "to make hair
grow black though any other color," and the leaf that holds this
precious instruction is sadly worn and spotted with various tinted
inks, as though the words had been often read and copied:

     "Take a little Aqua Fortis, put therein a groat or sixpence, as to
     the quantity of the aforesaid water, then set both to dissolve
     before the fire, then dip a small Spunge in the said water, and wet
     your beard or hair therewith, but touch not the skin."

Hair-dressers also improved on nature. William Warden, a wig maker in
King Street, Boston, respectfully informed the ladies of that town that
he would "colour the hair on the head from a Red or any other
Disagreable Colour to a Dark Brown or Black."

It did not matter long to our forefathers whether these hair-dyes dyed,
or hair-restorers restored, for a fashion hated by some of the early
Puritans as a choice device of Satan--the fashion of wig-wearing--was to
revolutionize the matter of masculine hair. The question of wigs was a
difficult one to settle, since the ministers themselves could not agree.
John Wilson and Cotton Mather wore them, but Rev. Mr. Noyes launched
denunciations at them from the pulpit and the Apostle Eliot delivered
many a blast against "prolix locks with boiling zeal," and he
stigmatized them as a "luxurious feminine protexity," but yielded sadly
later in life to the fact that the "lust for wigs is become
insuperable." The legislature of Massachusetts also denounced periwigs
in 1675, but all in vain.

They were termed by one author "artificial deformed Maypowles fit to
furnish her that in a Stage play should represent some Hagge of Hell,"
and other choice epithets were applied. To learn how these "Horrid
Bushes of Vanity" could be hated, let us hear the pages of Judge
Sewall's diary:

     "1701. Having last night heard that Joshua Willard had cut off his
     hair (a very full head of hair) and put on a Wigg, I went to him
     this morning. Told his mother what I came about and she call'd him.
     I enquired of him what Extremity had forced him to put off his own
     Hair and put on a Wigg? He answered none at all. But said that his
     Hair was streight and that it parted behinde. Seem'd to argue that
     men might as well shave their hair off their head, as off their
     face. I answered men were men before they had any hair on their
     faces (half of man-kind never have any). God seems to have ordain'd
     our Hair as a Test, to see whether we can bring out to be content
     at his finding: or whether we would be our own Carvers, Lords, and
     come no more at Him. If we disliked our Skin or Nails; tis no
     Thanks to us for all that we cut them not off.... He seem'd to say
     would leave off his Wigg when his hair was grown. I spake to his
     Father of it a day or two after. He thank'd me that had discoursed
     his Son, and told me when his Hair was grown to cover his ears he
     promised to leave off his Wigg. If he had known it would have
     forbidden him."

At a later day, though it was "gravaminous," Sewall would not go to hear
the bewigged Joshua preach, but attended another meeting. The Judge
frequently states his annoyance at the universally wigged condition of
New England.

I never read of these wig-wearing times without fresh amaze at the
manner in which our sensible ancestors disfigured themselves. We read
such advertisements of mountebank head-gear as this, from the _Boston
News Letter_ of August 14, 1729:

     "Taken from the shop of Powers Mariott Barber, a light Flaxen
     Naturall Wigg Parted from the forehead to the Crown. The Narrow
     Ribband is of a Red Pinck Colour. The Caul is in Rows of Red Green
     & White."

Twenty shillings reward was offered for this gay wig, and "if it be
offered for sale to any it is desired they wont stop it." Grafton
Fevergrure, the peruke-maker at the sign of the Black Wigg, lost a
"Light Flaxen Natural Wigg with a Peach-Blossom-coloured Ribband." In
1755 the house of barber Coes, of Marblehead, was broken into, and eight
brown and three grizzle wigs were stolen; some of these had "feathered
tops," some were bordered with red ribbon, some with purple. In 1754
James Mitchel had white wigs and "grizzels." He asked £20 O. T. for the
best. "Light Grizzels are £15, dark Grizzels are £12 10s." Under date of
1731 we read of the loss of "a horsehair bobwig," and another with crown
hair, each with gray ribbon, an Indian hair bobwig with a light ribbon,
and a goat's hair natural wig with red and white ribbons.

The "London Magazine" gave in 1753 a list of curious names of wigs: "The
pigeons wing, the comet, the cauliflower, the royal bird, the
staircase, the ladder, the brush, the wild boars back, the temple, the
rhinoceros, the crutch, the negligent, the chancellor, the out-bob, the
long-bob, the half-natural, the chain-buckle, the corded buckle, the
detached buckle, the Jasenist bob, the drop wigg, the snail back, the
spinage-seed, the artichoke."

Hawthorne's list of New England wigs was shorter: "The tie, the
brigadier, the spencer, the albemarle, the major, the ramillies, the
grave full-bottom, and the giddy feather-top." To these let me add the
campaign, the neck-lock, the bob, the lavant, the vallaney, the
drop-wig, the buckle-wig, the bag-wig, the Grecian fly, the peruke, the
beau-peruke, the long-tail, the bob-tail, the fox-tail, the cut-wig, the
tuck-wig, the twist-wig, the scratch. Sydney says the name campaign was
applied to a wig which was imported from France in 1702, and was made
very full and curled eighteen inches to the front. This date cannot be
correct, when we find John Winthrop writing in 1695 for "two wiggs one a
campane, the other short." The Ramillies wig had a long plaited tail,
with a big bow at the top of the braid and a small one at the bottom. It
would be idle to attempt to describe all these wigs, how they swelled at
the sides, and turned under in rolls, and rose in puffs, and then shrank
to a small close wig that vanished at Revolutionary times in powdered
natural hair and a queue of ribbon, a bag, or an eel-skin, and finally
gave way to cropped hair "à-la-Brutus or à-la-Titus," as a Boston
hair-dresser advertised in the year 1800.

Not only did gentlemen wear wigs, but children, servants, prisoners,
sailors, and soldiers also; as early certainly as 1716 the fashion was
universal. So great was the demand for this false head-gear, that wigs
were made of goat-hair and horse-hair, as well as human hair. The cost
of dressing and caring for wigs became a heavy item of expense to the
wearer, and income to the barber; often eight or ten pounds a year were
paid for the care of a single wig. Wigmakers' materials were expensive
also--"wig ribans, cauls, curling pipes, sprigg wyers, and wigg steels;"
and were advertised in vast numbers that show the universal prevalence
of the fashion.

By the beginning of this century, women--having powdered and greased and
pulled their hair almost off their heads--were glad to wear their
remaining locks à-la-Flora or à-la-Virginia, or to wear wigs to simulate
these styles. We find Eliza Southgate Bowne writing thus to her mother
from Boston in the year 1800:

     "... Now Mamma what do you think I am going to ask for? A WIG.
     Eleanor Coffin has got a new one just like my hair and only 5
     dollars. I must either cut my hair or have one. I cannot dress it
     at all _stylish_. Mrs. Coffin bought Eleanor's and says that she
     will write to Mrs. Sumner to get me one just like it. How much time
     it will save--in one year! We could save it in pins and paper,
     besides the _trouble_. At the Assembly I was quite ashamed of my
     head, for nobody had long hair. If you will consent to my having
     one do send me over a 5 dollar bill by the post immediately after
     you receive this, for I am in hopes to have it for the next
     Assembly--do send me word immediately if you can let me have one."

This persuasive appeal was successful, for frequent references to the
wig appear in later letters.

Though false teeth and the fashion of filling the teeth were known even
by the ancient Egyptians, the science of dentistry is a modern one. But
little care of the teeth was taken in early colonial days, and the
advice given for their preservation was very simple:

     "If you will keep your teeth from rot, plug, or aking, wash the
     mouth continually with Juyce of Lemons, and afterwards rub your
     teeth with a Sage Leaf and Wash your teeth after meat with faire
     water. To cure Tooth Ach. 1. Take Mastick and chew it in your mouth
     until it is as soft as Wax, then stop your teeth with it, if
     hollow, there remaining till it's consumed, and it wil certainly
     cure you. 2. The tooth of a dead man carried about a man presently
     suppresses the pains of the Teeth."

I suppose this latter ghoulish cure would not affect the teeth of a
woman; if, however, a seventeenth or eighteenth century dame could cure
the toothache simply with a plug of mastic, she was much to be envied by
her degenerate nineteenth-century sister with her long dentist's bill.

If we can believe Josselyn, writing in 1684, New England women, then as
now, lost their teeth at an early age. He speaks of them as "pitifully
Tooth shaken." He recommended to relieve their misery a compound of
brimstone, gunpowder, and butter, to be "rubbed on the mandible." This
colonial remedy is still employed on New England farms. Burnaby, writing
in 1759, said that New England dames had universally and even
proverbially very indifferent teeth. The Abbé Robin says they were
toothless at eighteen or twenty years of age, and attributes this
premature disfigurement to tea-drinking and the eating of warm bread.

When we read the composition of the tooth-powders and dentifrices used
in early colonial days, we wonder that they had any teeth left to scour.
Here is Mr. Ferene's "rare Dentifrice:"

     "First take eight ounces of Irios roots, also four ounces of
     Pomistone, and eight ounces of Cutel Bone, also eight ounces of
     Mother of Pearl, and eight ounces of Coral, and a pound of Brown
     Sugar Candy, and a pound of Brick if you desire to make them red;
     but he did oftener make them white, and then instead of the Brick
     did take a pound of fine Alabaster; all this being thoroughly
     beaten and sifted through a fine searse the powder is then ready
     prepar'd to make up in a past which must be done as follows:

     To make the Said Powders into a past.

     Take a little Gum Dragant and lay it in steep twelve hours, in
     Orange flower water or Damask Rose Water; and when it is dissolved
     take the sweet Gum and grind it on a Marble Stone with the
     aforesaid Powder, and mixing some crums of white bread it will come
     into a past, the which you may make Dentifrices, of what shape or
     fashion you please, but long rowles is the most commodious for your

Just fancy scouring your teeth with a commodious roll of cuttle-bone,
brick-dust, and pumice-stone!

Another tooth-powder was composed of coral, Portugal snuff, Armenian
bole, "ashes of good tobacco which has been burnt," and gum myrrh; and
ground up "broken pans"--coarse earthenware might be substituted for the

A very popular and much advertised tooth-wash was called "Dentium
Conservator." It was made and sold in New England by the manufacturer
and vendor of Bryson's Famous Bug Liquid--not an alluring companionship.
This person also "removed Stumps and unsound Teeth with a dexterity
peculiar to Himself at the Sign on the Leapord." There were also rival
Essences of Pearl advertised, each equally eulogized and disparaged;
"Infallible Sivit rendering the teeth white as alabaster tho' they be
black as Coal;" and "Very Neat Hawksbill and Key Draught Teeth Pullers."
These key-draught teeth-pullers were one of the cruellest instruments of
torture of the day, often breaking the jaw-bone, and always causing
unutterable anguish. Old Zabdiel Boylston advertised in the _News
Letter_, in 1712, "Powder to refresh the Gums & whiten the Teeth." There
were also sold "tooth-sopes, tooth-blanchs, tooth-rakes."

I cannot find any notice of the sale of "teeth brushes" till nearly
Revolutionary times. Perhaps the colonists used, as in old England,
little brushes made of "dentissick root" or mallow, chewed into a
fibrous swab.

I have seen no advertisements that strike a greater chill than the
scanty notices of early dentists and dentistry that appear at the latter
part of the past century. The glory of having a Revolutionary patriot
for a workman cannot soften the hard plainness of speech of this
advertisement in the _Boston Evening Post_ of September 26, 1768:

     "Whereas many Persons are so unfortunate as to lose their Fore
     Teeth by Accident or Otherways to their great Detriment not only in
     looks but in speaking both in public and private. This is to inform
     all such that they may have them replaced with Artificial Ones that
     look as well as the Natural and answer the End of Speaking by Paul
     Revere Goldsmith near the head of Dr. Clarkes wharf. All Persons
     who have had false Teeth Fixed by Mr. Jos Baker Surgeon Dentist and
     They have got loose as they will in Time may have them fastened by
     above said Revere who learnt the method of fixing them from Mr.

It will be remarked that these teeth were only to display and talk with,
and were but sorry helps in eating. This very appalling advertisement
from the _Massachusetts Centinel_ gives a clue to the way in which
missing teeth were replaced: "Live Teeth. Those Persons inclined to
dispose of Live Teeth may apply to Templeman." Or this from the
_Connecticut Courant_ of August 17, 1795: "A generous price paid for
Human Front Teeth perfectly sound, by Dr. Skinner." These "live teeth"
were inserted in other and vainer, if not more squeamish persons'
mouths, by a process of "in-grafting" which was much in vogue. There
were few New England dentists _eo nomine_ until well into this
century--but three in Boston in 1816. As silversmith and engraver Revere
also set teeth, so Isaac Greenwood, who waited at their houses on all
who required his dental services, also made umbrellas, sold cane for
hoop petticoats, and made dice and chessmen. Wm. Greenwood pulled teeth
and sold pianos; and Dr. Flagg, a surgeon dentist, advertised in 1797
that he would get hand-organs in Europe suitable for church use. John
Templeman, the live-teeth purchaser, was a broker as well as a dentist;
and Whitlock, the actor, did a thriving dental business, and doubtless
carried his "neat hawksbill or key-draught tooth-wrench" to the
play-house, and used it, to his own profit and his fellow-townsmen's
misery, between the acts.

Though the Pilgrim women were doubtless as simple at their toilet as
they were in their dress, the sudden growth of the colony in wealth
brought to their daughters, besides variety and richness of dress, a
love of cosmetics. Dunton tells positively of one painted face in Boston
in 1686. He said, "to hide her age she paints, and to hide her painting
dares hardly laugh." One New England minister thus reproved and warned
the women of his congregation: "At the resurrection of the Just there
will no such sight be met as the Angels carrying Painted Ladies in their

In the inventory of one of the early Cambridge settlers, Robert Daniel,
is found the item "two Ceruse Jugs." Ceruse was a preparation of white
lead with which women then painted their faces, and I think these ceruse
jugs were part of the paraphernalia of my Lady Daniel's toilet-table.

With the advent of newspapers came various advertisements that showed
the vanity of our forbears, the "collusions of women, their oyntments
and potticary drugs, and all their slibber sawces."

     "An Excellent Wash for the Skin which entirely taketh out all
     Freckles Moath & Sunburn from the Face Neck & Hands, which with
     Frequent Use adds a most Agreeable Lustre to the Complexion,
     softens & beautifies the Skin to Admiration And is generally used
     and approved of by most of the Gentry in London _of both Sexes_."

     "Best Face Powder which gives a fine Bloom to the Face which
     answers all the intents of White Paint without that Pernicious
     effect that attends Paint. Also a Composition to take off
     Superficious Hair."

The latter clause shows that our great-grandmothers were quite _au fait_
with the nostrums of the present day, with "pargetting, painting,
slicking, glazing, and renewing old rivelled faces."

Many pretty rules may be found in old books and diaries, that are of New
England, rules "to make the face fair" and to "make sweet the mouth."

     "Take the flowers of Rosemary and seeth them in VVhite VVine, with
     which wash your face, and if you drink thereof it wil make you have
     a sweet breath."

Maids were also told to gather the sweet May dew from the grass in the
early morning to make a fair face, and like Sir Thomas Overbury's
milkmaid, "put all face-physic out of countenance." And pretty it were
to see Cicely, Peg, and Joan in petticoat and sack or smock, each with a
"faire linnen cloath" a-dipping her rosy face in the fresh May dew.
Could this have been but a sly trick to get the lasses from their beds
betimes? We know the early hour at which Madam Pepys had to bathe her
mighty handsome face in the beautifying spring dew.

Patches were worn as eagerly, apparently, by Boston as by London belles.
Whitefield complained of the jewels, patches, and gay apparel donned in
New England. In scores of old newspapers after 1760 appear notices of
the sale of "Face Patches," "Patch for Ladies," "Gum Patches," etc., and
the frequency of advertisement would indicate a popular and ready sale.

With regard to the bathing habits of our ancestors but little can be
said, and but little had best be said. Charles Francis Adams writes,
with witty plainness, "If among personal virtues cleanliness be indeed
that which ranks next to godliness, then judged by the nineteenth
century standards, it is well if those who lived in the eighteenth
century had a sufficiency of the latter quality to make good what they
lacked of the former." He says there was not a bath-room in the town of
Quincy prior to the year 1820. And of what use would pitchers or tubs of
water have been in bed-rooms in the winter time, when if exposed over
night solid ice would be found therein in the morning? The washing of
linen in New England homes was done monthly; it is to be hoped the
personal baths were more frequent, even under the apparent difficulties
of accomplishment. I must state, in truth, though with deep
mortification, that I cannot find in inventories even of Revolutionary
times the slightest sign of the presence of balneary appurtenances in
bed-rooms; not even of ewers, lavers, and basins, nor of pails and tubs.
As petty pieces of furniture, such as stools, besoms, framed pictures,
and looking-glasses are enumerated, this conspicuous absence of what we
deem an absolute necessity for decency speaks with a persistent and
exceedingly disagreeable voice of the unwashed condition of our
ancestors, a condition all the more mortifying when we consider their
exceeding external elegance in dress. This total absence of toilet
appliances does not of course render impossible a special lavatory or
bath-room in the house, or the daily importation to the bed-rooms of
hot-water cans, twiggen bottles, bath-tubs, and basins from other
portions of the house; but even that equipment would show a lack of
adequate bathing facilities. Nor do the tiny toilet jugs and basins of
Staffordshire ware that date from the first part of this century point
to any very elaborate ablutions.

But these be parlous words an we wish to honor the memory of our New
England grandsires; and let us remember that these negative toilet
traits were not peculiar to them, but dated from the fatherland. A
century ago the English were said to be the only European people that
had the unenviable distinction of going to the dinner-table without
previously washing or "dressing" the hands.

One very unpleasant cosmetic, or rather detergent, was in constant use,
however, throughout colonial times--wash-balls. They were imported as
early as 1693 in company with scented and plain hair-powder. In 1771,
"Gentlemen's Fine Washballs" were advertised in Boston, and "Scented
Marbled Washballs." Other varieties of these substitutes for soap were
Chemical, Greek, Venice, Marseilles, camphor, ambergris, and Bologna
wash-balls. This is a rule given in olden times for the "Composition for
Best Wash Balls:"

     "Take forty pounds of Rice in fine powder, twenty eight pounds of
     fine flour, twenty eight pounds of starch powder, twelve pounds of
     White Lead, and four pounds of Orris Root in fine powder but no
     Whitening. Mix the whole well together and pass it through a fine
     sieve, then place it in a dry place and keep it for use. Great care
     must be taken that the Flour be not musty, in which case the Balls
     will in time crack and fall to pieces. To this composition may be
     added Dutch pink or brown fine damask powder according to the
     colour required when the Wash Balls are quite dry."

The effect of so large an amount of white lead must have been felt and
shown most deleteriously upon the complexion of the user of this
disagreeable compound.

"Ipswitch balls"--also the mode--were more pleasing:

     "Take a pound of fine White Castill Sope; shave it thin in a pinte
     of Rose water, and let it stand two or three dayes, then pour all
     the water from it, and put to it a halfe a pinte of fresh water,
     and so let it stand one whole day, then pour out that, and put to
     it halfe a pinte more and let it stand a night more, then put to it
     halfe an ounce of powder called sweet Marjoram, a quarter of an
     ounce of Winter Savory, two or three drops of the Oil of Spike and
     the Oil of Cloves, three grains of musk, and as much Ambergreese,
     work all these together in a fair Mortar with the powder of an
     Almond Cake dryed and beaten as small as fine flowre, so rowl it
     round in your hands in Rose water."

The favorite soap, if one can judge from importations, was "Brown or
Gray Bristol Sope," but this was not used by many in the community. The
manufacture of home-made soap, of soft soap, was one of the universal,
most important, and most trying of all the household industries. The
refuse grease of the family cooking was stowed away in an unsavory mass
till early spring, and the wood ashes from the fireplaces were also
stored. When the soap-making took place, the ashes were placed in a
leach tub out of doors. This tub was sometimes made from the section of
the bark of a birch tree; it was set loosely in a circular groove in a
base of wood, or preferably of stone. Water was poured on the ashes, and
the lye trickled from an outlet cut in the groove. The boiling of the
lye and grease was an ill-smelling process, which was also carried on
out of doors, and required an enormous amount of labor and patience. It
was judged that when the compound was strong enough to hold up an egg,
the soap was done. This strong soft soap was kept in a wooden "soap box"
in the kitchen, and used for toilet as well as household purposes.

Dearly did the English and the New English love perfumes. They made
little rolls of sweet-scented powders and gums and oils, "as large as
pease," that they placed between rose-leaves and burned on coals in
skillets or in little perfume-holders to scent the room. They burned on
their open hearths mint and rose-leaves with sugar. They took the "maste
of sweet Apple trees gathered betwixt two Lady days," and with gums and
perfumes made bracelets and pomanders, "to keep to one a sweet smell."
They made cakes of damask rose-leaves and pulvilio, civit, and musk, of
"linet and ambergreese," to perfume their linen chests, for lavender
thrived not in New England. The duties of the still-room were the most
luxury-bearing of all the old household industries. Its very name brings
to us sweet scents of Araby, as it brought to our forbears the most
charming and nice of all their domestic occupations. But these duties
were not easy nor expeditious work, nor did all the work begin in the
still-room. Faithfully did dames and maids gather in field and garden,
from early spring to chilly autumn, precious stores for their stills and
limbecks. In every garret, from every rafter, slowly swayed great
susurrous bunches of withered herbs and simples awaiting expression and
distillation, and dreaming perhaps of the summer breezes that had blown
through them in the sunny days of their youth in their meadow homes. In
many an old garret now bare of such stores "mints still perfume the
air;" the very walls exhale "the homesick smell of dry forgotten herbs."

From these old stills, these retorts and mills, came not only perfumes
and oils and beauty-waters, but half the medicines and diet-drinks, all
the "kitchen-physicke" of the domestic and even the professional

Perfumes were also imported; we frequently find advertised "Royal Honey
Water, an Excellent Perfume, good against Deafness, and to make the hair
grow as the directions Sets forth. 1s 6d per bottle and proportionate by
Ounce." Old Zabdiel Boylston had it in 1712. Spirit of Benjamin was also
for toilet uses. This was the base of the well-known scent known as
Queen Elizabeth's Perfume. It was combined with sweet marjoram. Lavender
water was apparently a great favorite for importation, and we find
notices of lavender bottles with shagreen cases.

We find in newspaper days many advertisements of other toilet articles
such as nail-knippers, pick-tooth cases, silk and worsted powder-puffs,
deerskin powder bags, lip-salve, ivory scratch-backs, flesh brushes,
curling and pinching tongs, all showing a strongly crescent vanity and
love of luxury.



We know definitely the dress of the settlers of Massachusetts Bay, for
the inventory of the "Apparell for 100 men" furnished by the
Massachusetts Bay Company in 1628 is still in existence. From it we
learn that enough clothing was provided to supply to each emigrant four
"peare of shewes," four "peare of stockings," a "peare Norwich garters,"
four shirts, two "sutes dublet and hose of leather lynd with oil'd skyn
leather, ye hose & dublett with hookes & eyes," a "sute of Norden
dussens or hampshire kersies lynd, the hose with skins, dublets with
lynen of gilford or gedlyman kerseys," four bands, two handkerchiefs, a
"wastcoate of greene cotton bound about with red tape," a leather
girdle, a Monmouth cap, a "black hatt lyned in the browes with lether,"
five "Red knit capps mill'd about 5d a piece," two pair of gloves, a
mandillion "lyned with cotton," one pair of breeches and waistcoat, and
a "lether sute of Dublett & breeches of oyled lether," and one pair of
leather breeches and "drawers to serve to weare with both their other

This surely was a liberal outfit save perhaps in the matter of shirts
and handkerchiefs, and doubtless intended to last many years. Though
simple it was far from being a sombre one. Scarlet caps and green
waistcoats bound with red made cheerful bits of color alongside the
leather breeches and buff doublets on Salem shore.

The apparel of the Piscataquay planters, furnished in 1635, varied
somewhat from that just enumerated. Their waistcoats were scarlet, and
they had cassocks of cloth and canvas, instead of doublets. Though
scarce more than a lustrum had passed since the settlement on the shores
of the Bay, long hose like the Florentine hose had become entirely
old-fashioned and breeches were the wear. Coats--"lynd coats, papous
coats, and moose coats"--had also been invented, or at any rate dubbed
with that name and assumed. Cassocks, doublets, and jerkins varied
little in shape, and the names seem to have been interchangeable.
Mandillions, said by some authorities to be cloaks, were in fact much
like the doublets, and were worn apparently as an over-garment or
great-coat. The name appears not in inventories after the earliest

Though simplicity of dress was one of the cornerstones of the Puritan
Church, the individual members did not yield their personal vanity
without many struggles. As soon as the colonies rallied from the first
years of poverty and, above all, of comparative isolation, and a sequent
tide of prosperity and wealth came rolling in, the settlers began to
pick up in dress, to bedeck themselves, to send eagerly to the mother
country for new petticoats and doublets that, when proudly donned, did
not seem simple and grave enough for the critical eyes of the omnipotent
New England magistrates and ministers. Hence restraining and simplifying
sumptuary laws were passed. In 1634, in view of some new fashions which
were deemed by these autocrats to be immodest and extravagant, this
order was sent forth by the General Court:

     "That no person either man or woman shall hereafter make or buy any
     apparel, either woolen or silk or linen with any lace on it,
     silver, gold, or thread, under the penalty of forfeiture of said
     clothes. Also that no person either man or woman shall make or buy
     any slashed clothes other than one slash in each sleeve and another
     in the back; also all cut-works, embroideries, or needlework cap,
     bands, and rails are forbidden hereafter to be made and worn under
     the aforesaid penalty; also all gold or silver girdles, hatbands,
     belts, ruffs, beaverhats are prohibited to be bought and worn

Liberty was thriftily given the planters, however, to "wear out such
apparel as they are now provided of except the immoderate great sleeves,
slashed apparel, immoderate great rails and long wings," which latter
were apparently beyond Puritanical endurance.

In 1639 "immoderate great breeches, knots of ryban, broad shoulder bands
and rayles, silk ruses, double ruffles and capes" were added to the list
of tabooed garments.

In 1651 the General Court again expressed its "utter detestation and
dislike that men or women of meane condition, education and callings
should take uppon them the garbe of gentlemen by the wearinge of gold or
silver lace or buttons or poynts at their knees, to walke in great
boots, or women of the same rank to wear silke or tiffany hoodes or

Many persons were "presented" under this law; Puritan men were just as
fond of finery as were Puritan women. Walking in great boots proved
alluring to an illegal degree, just as did wearing silk and tiffany
hoods. But Puritan women fought hard and fought well for their fine
garments. In Northampton thirty-eight women were brought up at one time
before the court in 1676 for their "wicked apparell." One young miss,
Hannah Lyman, of Northampton, was prosecuted for "wearing silk in a
fflaunting manner, in an offensive way and garb, not only before but
when she stood presented, not only in Ordinary but Extraordinary times."

We can easily picture sixteen-year-old Hannah, in silk bedight, inwardly
rejoicing at the unusual opportunity to fully and publicly display her
rich attire, and we can easily read in her offensive flaunting in court
a presage of the waning of magisterial power which proved a truthful
omen, for in six years similar prosecutions in Northampton, for
assumption of gay and expensive garments, were quashed. The ministers of
the day note sadly the overwhelming love of fashion that was crescent
throughout New England; a love of dress which neither the ban of
religion, philosophy, nor law could expel; what Rev. Solomon Stoddard
called, in 1675, "intolerable pride in clothes and hair." They were
never weary of preaching about dress, of comparing the poor Puritan
women to the haughty daughters of Judah and Jerusalem; saying
threateningly to their parishioners, as did Isaiah to the daughters of

     "The Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments
     about their feet, and their cauls and their round tires like the

     "The chains and the bracelets and the mufflers.

     "The bonnets and the ornaments of the legs and the head-bands and
     the tablets and the earrings.

     "The rings and nose jewels.

     "The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles and the wimples
     and the crisping pins.

     "The glasses and the fine linen and the hoods and the vails."

Every evil predicted by the prophet was laid at the door of these Boston
and Plymouth dames; fire and war and poor harvests and caterpillars, and
even baldness--but still they arrayed themselves in fine raiment, "drew
iniquity with a cord of vanity and sin with a cart-rope," and "walked
with outstretched necks and wanton eyes mincing as they go."

As an exposition of the possibilities, or rather the actual
extensiveness, of a Puritanical feminine wardrobe at this date, let me
name the articles of clothing bequeathed by the will of Jane Humphrey,
who died in Dorchester, Mass., in 1668. I give them as they appear on
the list, but with the names of her heirs omitted.

     "Ye Jump. Best Red Kersey Petticoate, Sad Grey Kersey Wascote. My
     blemmish Searge Petticoate & my best hatt. My white Fustian
     Wascote. A black Silk neck cloath. A handkerchiefe. A blew Apron. A
     plain black Quoife without any lace. A white Holland Appron with a
     small lace at the bottom. Red Searge petticoat and a blackish
     Searge petticoat. Greene Searge Wascote & my hood & muffe. My Green
     Linsey Woolsey petticoate. My Whittle that is fringed & my Jump &
     my blew Short Coate. A handkerchief. A blew Apron. My best Quife
     with a Lace. A black Stuffe Neck Cloath. A White Holland apron with
     two breadths in it. Six yards of Redd Cloth. A greene Vnder Coate.
     Staning Kersey Coate. My murry Wascote. My Cloake & my blew
     Wascote. My best White Apron, my best Shifts. One of my best
     Neck-Cloaths, & one of my plain Quieus. One Callico Vnder Neck
     Cloath. My fine thine Neck Cloath. My next best Neck Cloath. A
     square Cloath with a little lace on it. My greene Apron."

It is pleasing to note in this list that not only the garments and
stuffs, but the very colors named, have an antique sound; and we read in
other inventories of such tints as philomot (feuillemort), gridolin
(gris-de-lin or flax blossom), puce color, grain color (which was
scarlet), foulding color, Kendal green, Lincoln green, watchet blue,
barry, milly, tuly, stammel red, Bristol red, sad color--and a score of
other and more fanciful names whose signification and identification
were lost with the death of the century. In later days Congress brown,
Federal blue, and Independence green show our new nation.

This wardrobe of Jane Humphrey's was certainly a very pretty and a very
liberal outfit for a woman of no other fortune. But to have all one's
possessions in the shape of raiment did not in her day bear quite the
same aspect as it would at the present day. Many persons, men and women,
preferred to keep their property in the form of what they quaintly
called "duds." The fashion did not, in New England, wear out more
apparel than the man, for clothing, no matter what its cut, was worn as
long as it lasted, doing service frequently through three generations.
For instance, we find Mrs. Epes, of Ipswich, when she was over fifty
years old, receiving this bequest by will: "If she desire to have the
suit of damask which was the Lady Cheynies her grandmother, let her have
it upon appraisement." Hence we cannot wonder at clothing forming so
large a proportion of the articles bequeathed by will and named in
inventories; for all the colonists

    "... studied after nyce array,
     And made greet cost in clothing."

Nor can we help feeling that any woman should have been permitted to
have plenty of gowns in those days without being thought extravagant,
since a mantua-maker's charge for making a gown was but eight

Though the shops were full of rich stuffs, there was no ready-made
clothing for women for sale either in outside garments or in
under-linen. Occasionally, by the latter part of the eighteenth century,
we read the advertisement of a "vandoo" of "full-made gowns, petticoats
and sacs of a genteel lady of highest fashion"--a notice which reads
uncommonly like the "forced sales" of the present day of mock-outfits of
various kinds.

About the middle of the century there began to appear "ready-made
clothes for men." Jolley Allen advertised such, and under that name, in
1768, "Coats, Silk Jackets, Shapes and Cloth Ditto; Stocking Breeches of
all sizes & most colours. Velvet Cotton Thickset Duroy Everlasting &
Plush Breeches. Sailors Great Coats, outside & inside Jackets, Check
Shirts, Frocks, long and wide Trowzers, Scotch bonnets & Blue mill'd
Shirts." But women's clothes were made to order in the town by mantua
makers, and in the country by travelling tailoresses and sempstresses,
or by the deft-fingered wearers.

New England dames had no mode-books nor fashion-plates to tell to them
the varying modes. Some sent to the fatherland for "fire-new fashions in
sleeves and slops," for garments and head-gear made in the prevailing
court style; and the lucky possessors, lent these new-fashioned caps and
gowns and cloaks as models to their poorer or less fortunate neighbors.
A very taking way of introducing new styles and shapes to the new land
was through the importation by milliners and mantua-makers of dressed
dolls, or "babys" as they were called, that displayed in careful
miniature the fashions and follies of the English court. In the _New
England Weekly Journal_ of July 2, 1733, appears this notice:

     "To be seen at Mrs. Hannah Teatts Mantua Maker at the Head of
     Summer Street Boston a Baby drest after the Newest Fashion of
     Mantues and Night Gowns & everything belonging to a dress. Latilly
     arrived on Capt. White from London, any Ladies that desire to see
     it may either come or send, she will be ready to wait on 'em, if
     they come to the House it is Five Shilling & if she waits on 'em it
     is Seven Shilling."

We can fancy the group of modish Boston belles and dames each paying
Hannah Teatts her five shillings, and like overgrown children eagerly
dressing and undressing the London doll and carefully examining and
noting her various diminutive garments.

These fashion models in miniature effigy obtained until after
Revolutionary times. Sally McKean wrote to the sister of Dolly Madison,
in June, 1796: "I went yesterday to see a doll which has come from
England dressed to show the fashion"--and she then proceeds to describe
the modes thus introduced.

We can gain some notion of the general shape of the dress of our
forbears at various periods from the portraits of the times. Those of
Madam Shrimpton and of Rebecca Rawson are among the earliest. They were
painted during the last quarter of the seventeenth century. The dress is
not very graceful, but far from plain, showing no trace of Puritanical
simplicity; in fact, it is precisely that seen in portraits of English
well-to-do folk of the same date. Both have strings of beads around the
neck and no other jewels; both wear loosely tied and rather shapeless
flat hoods concealing the hair, Madam Shrimpton's having an embroidered
edge about two inches wide. Similar hoods are shown in Romain de Rooge's
prints of the landing of King William, on the women in the coronation
procession. They were like the Nithesdale hoods of Hogarth's prints, but
smaller. Both New English dames have also broad collars, stiff and ugly,
with uncurved horizontal lower edge, apparently trimmed with embroidery
or cut-work. Both show the wooden contour of figure, which was either
the fault of the artist's brush or of the iron busk of the wearer's
stays. The bodies are stiffly pointed, and the most noticeable feature
of the gown is the sleeve, consisting of a double puff drawn in just
above the elbow and confined by knots of ribbon; in one case with very
narrow ribbon loops. Randle Holme says that a sleeve thus tied in at the
elbow was called a virago sleeve. Madam Shrimpton's sleeve has also a
falling frill of embroidery and lace and a ruffle around the armsize.
The question of sleeves sorely vexed the colonial magistrates. Men and
women were forbidden to have but one slash or opening in each sleeve.
Then the inordinate width of sleeves became equally trying, and all were
ordered to restrain themselves to sleeves half an ell wide. Worse modes
were to come; "short sleeves whereby the nakedness of the arm may be
discovered" had to be prohibited; and if any such ill-fashioned gowns
came over from London, the owners were enjoined to wear thick linen to
cover the arms to the wrist. Existing portraits show how futile were
these precautions, how inoperative these laws; arms were bared with
impunity, with complacency, and the presentment of Governor Wentworth
shows three slashes in his sleeve.

Not only were the arms of New England women bared to an immodest degree,
but their necks also, calling forth many a "just and seasonable
reprehension of naked breasts." Though gowns thus cut in the pink of the
English mode proved too scanty to suit Puritan ministers, the fair
wearers wore them as long as they were in vogue.

It is curious to note in the oldest gowns I have seen, that the method
of cutting and shaping the waist or body is precisely the same as at the
present day. The outlines of the shoulder and back-seams, of the bust
forms, are the same, though not so gracefully curved; and the number of
pieces is usually the same. Very good examples to study are the gorgeous
brocaded gowns of Peter Faneuil's sister, perfectly preserved and now
exhibited in the Boston Art Museum.

Nor have we to-day any richer or more beautiful stuffs for gowns than
had our far-away grandmothers. The silks, satins, velvets, and brocades
which wealthy colonists imported for the adornment of their wives and
daughters, and for themselves, cannot be excelled by the work of modern
looms; and the laces were equally beautiful. Whitefield complained
justly and more than once of the "foolish virgins of New England covered
all over with the Pride of Life;" especially of their gaudy dress in
church, which the Abbé Robin also remarked, saying it was the only
theatre New England women had for the display of their finery. Other
clergymen, as Manasseh Cutler, noted with satisfaction that "the
congregation was dressed in a very tasty manner."

In old New England families many scraps of these rich stuffs of colonial
days are preserved; some still possess ancient gowns, or coats, or
waistcoats of velvet and brocade. In old work-bags, bed-quilts, and
cushions rich pieces may be found. When we see their quality, color, and
design we fully believe Hawthorne's statement that the "gaudiest dress
permissible by modern taste fades into a Quakerlike sobriety when
compared with the rich glowing splendor of our ancestors."

The royal governor and his attendants formed in each capital town a
small but very dignified circle, glittering with a carefully studied
reflection of the fashionable life of the English Court, and closely
aping English richness of dress. The large landed proprietors, such as
the opulent Narragansett planters, and the rich merchants of Newport,
Salem, and Boston, spent large sums annually in rich attire. In every
newspaper printed a century or a century and a quarter ago, we find
proof of this luxury and magnificence in dress; in the lists of the
property of deceased persons, in the long advertisements of milliners
and mercers, in the many notices of "vandoos." And the impression must
be given to every reader of letters and diaries of the times, of the
vast vanity not only of our grandmothers, but of our grandfathers. They
did indeed "walk in brave aguise." The pains these good, serious
gentlemen took with their garments, the long minute lists they sent to
European tailors, their loudly expressed discontent over petty
disappointments as to the fashion and color of their attire, their
evident satisfaction at becoming and rich clothing, all point to their
wonderful love of ostentation and their vanity--a vanity which fairly
shines with smirking radiance out of some of the masculine faces in the
"bedizened and brocaded" portraits of dignified Bostonians in Harvard
Memorial Hall, and from many of the portraits of Copley, Smibert, and

Here is a portion of a letter written by Governor Belcher to a London
tailor in 1733:

     "I have desired my brother, Mr. Partridge to get me some cloaths
     made, and that you should make them, and have sent him the yellow
     grogram suit you made me at London; but those you make now must be
     two or three inches longer and as much bigger. Let 'em be workt
     strong, as well as neat and curious. I believe Mr. Harris in
     Spittlefields (of whom I had the last) will let you have the
     grogram as good and cheap as anybody. The other suit to be of a
     very good silk, such as may be the Queens birthday fashion, but I
     don't like padisway. It must be a substantial silk, because you'll
     see I have ordered it to be trimm'd rich, and I think a very good
     white shagrine will be the best lining. I say let it be a handsome
     compleat suit, and two pair of breeches to each suit."

Picture to yourself the garb in which the patriot John Hancock appeared
one noonday in 1782:

     "He wore a red velvet cap within which was one of fine linen, the
     last turned up two or three inches over the lower edge of the
     velvet. He also wore a blue damask gown lined with velvet, a white
     stock, a white satin embroidered waistcoat, black satin
     small-clothes, white silk stockings and red morocco slippers."

What gay peacock was this strutting all point-device in scarlet slippers
and satin and damask, spreading his gaudy feathers at high noon in sober
Boston streets!--was this our boasted Republican simplicity? And what
"fop-tackle" did the dignified Judge of the Supreme Court wear in Boston
at that date? He walked home from the bench in the winter time clad in a
magnificent white corduroy surtout lined with fur, with his judicial
hands thrust in a great fur muff.

Fancy a Boston publisher going about his business tricked up in this
dandified dress--a true New England jessamy.

     He wore a pea-green coat, white vest, nankeen small-clothes, white
     silk stockings and pumps fastened with silver buckles which covered
     at least half the foot from instep to toe. His small-clothes were
     tied at the knees with riband of the same color in double bows the
     ends reaching down to the ancles. His hair in front was well loaded
     with pomatum, frizzled or creped, and powdered; the ear locks had
     undergone the same process. Behind his natural hair was augmented
     by the addition of a large queue, called vulgarly the false tail,
     which, enrolled in some yards of black riband, hung halfway down
     his back.

We must believe that the richest brocades, the finest lawn, the choicest
laces, the heaviest gold and silver buckles, did not adorn the persons
of New England dames and belles only; the gaudiest inflorescence of
color and stuffs shone resplendent on the manly figures of their
husbands and brothers. And yet these men were no "lisping hawthorn
buds," their souls were not in their clothes, or we had not the signers
of the Declaration of Independence and the heroes of the Revolution.

The domination of French ideas in America after the Revolution found one
form of expression in French fashions of dress; and where New England
women had formerly followed English models and English reproductions of
French fashions, they now copied the French fashions direct, to the
improvement, I fancy, of their modes. Too many accounts and
representations exist of these comparatively recent styles to make it of
value to enter into any detail of them here. But another influence on
the dress of the times should be recorded.

The sudden and vast development of the Oriental trade by New England
ship-owners is plainly marked by many changes in the stuffs imported and
in the dress of both men and women. Nankeens became at once one of the
chief articles of sale in drygoods shops. Though Fairholt says they were
not exported to America till 1825, I find them advertised in the _Boston
Evening Post_ of 1761. Shawls appeared in shopkeepers' lists. The first
notice that I have seen is in the _Salem Gazette_ of 1784--"a rich
sortment of shawls." This was at the very time when Elias Haskett
Derby--the father of the East India trade--was building and launching
his stout ships for Canton. We have a vast variety of stuffs nowadays,
but the list seems narrow and small when compared with the record of
Indian stuffs that came in such numbers a hundred years ago to Boston
and Salem markets. The names of these Oriental materials are nearly all
obsolete, and where the material is still manufactured it bears a
different appellation. A list of them will preserve their names and show
their number. Some may prove not to have been Indian, but were so called
in the days of their importation.

    Alrabads.           Chowtahs.             Neganepauts.
    Anjungoes.          Culgees.              Nenapees.
    Allejars.           Chaffelaes.           Nagurapaux.
    Atlasses.           Corottas.             Oringals.
    Addaties.           Doreas.               Paunchees.
    Allibanies.         Deribands.            Patnas.
    Anbraeahs.          Doorguzzees.          Pallampores.
    Arradahs.           Doodanies.            Ponabaguzzies.
    Budoys.             Dorsatees.            Persias.
    Boglipores.         Danadars.             Peniascoes.
    Bengals.            Elatchies.            Pagnas.
    Briampaux.          Emertees.             Poppolis.
    Bagatapaux.         Gurrahs.              Photaes.
    Bumrums.            Guzzinahs.            Pelongs.
    Bulschauls.         Goaconcheleras.       Quilts.
    Brawls.             Gurraes.              Romalls.
    Bafraes.            Gelongs.              Rehings.
    Bejauraupauts.      Ginghams.             Seersuckers.
    Bafts.              Gunieas.              Sallampores.
    Baguzzees.          Humhums.              Soraguzzes.
    Betelles.           Humadies.             Soofeys.
    Byrampauts.         Izzarees.             Seerbettees.
    Cushlas.            Jollopours.           Sannoes.
    Coffies.            Jandannies.           Seerindams.
    Chinachurry         Januwars.             Shalbafts.
    Cherrydarry.        Luckhouris.           Seerbands.
    Chilloes.           Lemmones.             Succatums.
    Chints.             Lungees.              Starrets.
    Cutthees.           Mamoodies.            Terindams.
    Cossas.             Mahmudihiaties.       Tapseils.
    Chenarize.          Mugga-Mamoochis.      Tanjeebs.
    Chittabullus.       Mickbannies.          Tepoys.
    Coopees.            Masaicks.             Tainsooks.
    Callowaypoose.      Moorees.              Taffatties.
    Cuttanees.          Mowsannas.            Tapis.
    Carradaries.        Mulmouls.             Tarnatams.
    Cheaconies.         Mulye-Gungee.         Taundah-Khassah.
    Chucklaes.          Nicanees.             Tandarees.
    Cadies.             Nillaes.



There lies before me a leather-bound, time-stained, dingy little quarto
of four hundred and fifty pages that was printed in the year 1656. Its
contents comprise three parts or books. First, "The Queens Closet
Opened, or The Pearl of Practise: Accurate, Physical, and Chirurgical
Receipts." Second, "A Queens Delight, or The Art of Preserving,
Conserving, and Candying, as also a Right Knowledge of Making Perfumes
and Distilling the most Excellent Waters." Third, "The Compleat Cook,
Expertly Prescribing the most ready wayes, whether Italian, Spanish, or
French, For Dressing of Flesh and Fish, Ordering of Sauces, or Making of
PASTRY"--pastry in capitals, as is due so distinguished an article and

This conjunction of leechcraft and cooking was in early days far from
being considered demeaning to the healing art. A great number of the
cook-books of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were written by
physicians. Dr. Lister, physician to Queen Anne, wrote plainly, "I do
not consider myself as hazarding anything when I say no man can be a
good physician who has not a competent knowledge of cookery."

The book contains a long, pompous preface, in which it is asserted that
these receipts were collected originally for her "distress'd Soveraigne
Majesty the Queen"--Henrietta Maria; that they had been "laid at her
feet by Persons of Honour and Quality;" and that since false and poor
copies had been circulated during her banishment, and the compiler, who
fell with the court, was not able to render his beloved queen any
further service, he felt that he could at least "prevent all
disservices" by giving in print to her friends these true rules. Thus
could he keep the absent queen in their minds; and also he could give a
fair copy to her, since she had lost her receipts in her flight.

Though Agnes Strickland stated that copies of this Queens Closet Opened
are exceedingly rare in England, several are preserved in old New
England families, some of them the descendants of colonial physicians;
and the book may be shown as a fair example of the methods of practice
and composition of prescriptions in colonial and provincial days.

This volume of mine was one of those which were not fated to dwell among
"Persons of Honour and Quality" in old England; it crossed the waters to
the new land with simpler folk, and was for many years the
pocket-companion of an old New England doctor. Two names are carefully
written on the inside of the cover of my book, names of past owners:
"Edward Talbot, His Book," is in the most faded ink, and "William
Morse, His Book, in the y'r 1710, Boston." A musty, leathery smell
pervades and exhales from the pages, and is mingled with whiffs of an
equally ancient and more penetrating odor, that of old drugs and
medicines; for many a journey over bleak hills and lonely dales has the
book made, safely reposing at the bottom of its owner's pocket, or lying
cheek by jowl with the box of drugs and medicines, and case of lancets
in his ample saddlebags.

This country doctor, like others of his profession at the same date, had
not studied deeply in college and hospital; nor had he taken any long
course of instruction in foreign schools and universities. When he had
decided to become a doctor, he had simply ridden with an old,
established physician--ridden literally--in a half-menial, half-medical
capacity. He had cared for the doctor's horse, swept the doctor's
office, run the doctor's errands, pounded drugs, gathered herbs, and
mixed plasters, until he was fitted to ride for himself. Then he had
applied to the court and received a license to practise--that was all. I
doubt not that this book of mine, and perhaps a manuscript collection of
recipes and prescriptions, and a few Latin treatises that he could
hardly decipher, formed his entire pharmacop[oe]ia. As he had chanced to
inherit a small fortune from a relative, he became a physician of some
note; for in colonial days wealth and position were as essential as were
learning and experience, to enable one to become a good doctor.

I like to think of the rich and pompous old doctor a-riding out to see
his patients, clad in his suit of sober brown or claret color with
shining buttons made of silver coins. The full-skirted coat had great
pockets and flaps, as had the long waistcoat that reached well over the
hips. Knee-breeches dressed his shapely legs, while fine silk stockings
and buckled shoes displayed his well-turned calves and ankles. On his
head he wore a cocked hat and wig. He owned and wore in turn wigs of
different sizes and dignity--ties, periwigs, bags, and bobs. His
portrait was painted in a full-bottomed wig that rivalled the Lord
Chancellor's in size; but his every-day riding-wig was a rather
commonplace horsehair affair with a stiff eel-skin cue. One wig he lost
by a mysterious accident while attending a patient who was lying ill of
a fever, of which the crisis seemed at hand. The doctor decided to
remain all night, and sat down by a table in the sick man's room. The
hours passed slowly away. Physician and nurse and goodwife talked and
droned on; the sick man moaned and tossed in his bed, and begged
fruitlessly for water. At last the room grew silent, the tired watchers
dozed in their chairs, the doctor nodded and nodded, bringing his
eel-skin cue dangerously near the flame of the candle that stood on the
table. Suddenly there was heard a sharp explosion, a hiss, a sizzle; and
when the smoke cleared, and the terrified occupants of the room
collected their senses, the watcher and wife were discovered under the
valance of the bed; the doctor stood scorched and bareheaded, looking
around for his wig; while the sick man, who had jumped out of bed in
the confusion and captured a pitcher of water, drunk half the contents,
and thrown the remainder over the doctor's head, was lying behind the
bed curtains laughing hysterically at the ridiculous appearance of the
man of medicine. Instant death was predicted for the invalid, who,
strange to say, either from the laughter or the water, began to recover
from that moment. The terrified physician was uncertain whether he ought
to attribute the conflagration of his wig to a violent demonstration of
the devil in his effort to obtain possession of the sick man's soul, or
to the powerful influence of some conjunction of the planets, or to the
new-fangled power of electricity which Dr. Franklin had just discovered
and was making so much talk about, and was so recklessly tinkering with
in Philadelphia at that very time. The doctor had strongly disapproved
of Franklin's reprehensible and meddlesome boldness, but he felt that it
was best, nevertheless, to write and obtain the philosopher's advice as
to the feasibility, advisability, and the best convenience of having one
of the new lightning-rods rigged upon his medical back, and running
thence up through his wig, thus warding off further alarming
demonstration. Ere this was done the mystery of the explosion was
solved. When the doctor's new wig arrived from Boston, he ordered his
newly purchased negro servant to powder it well ere it was worn. He was
horrified to see Pompey give the wig a liberal sprinkling of gunpowder
from the powder-horn, instead of starch from the dredging-box; and the
explosion of the old wig was no longer assigned to diabolical,
thaumaturgical, or meteorological influences.

Let us turn from the doctor and the wig to the book; let us see what he
did when he singed his head and burnt his face. He whipped my little
book out of his pocket and turned to page 77; there he was told to make
"Oyl of Eggs. Take twelve yolks of eggs and put them in a pot over the
fire, and let them stand until you perceive them to turn black; then put
them in a press and press out the Oyl." Or he could make "Oyl of Fennel"
if he preferred it. But probably the New England goodwife had on hand
one of the dozen astounding salves described in the book, that the
doctor had ere this instructed her to make, and in which I trust he
found due relief.

One cannot wonder that the sick man craved water, when we read what he
had had to drink. He had been given, a spoonful at a time, this
"Comfortable Juleb for a Feaver," made of "Barley Water & White Wine
each one pint, Whey one quart, two ounces of Conserves of Barberries,
and the Juyces of two limmons and 2 Oranges." The doctor had also taken
(if he had followed his Pearl of Practice) "two Salt white herrings &
slit them down the back and bound them to the soles of the feet" of his
patient; and I doubt not he had bled the sufferer at once, for he always
bled and purged on every possible occasion.

The Water of Life was also given for fevers, a few drops at a time, and
also as a tonic in health.

     "Take Balm leaves and stalks, Betony leaves and flowers, Rosemary,
     red sage, Taragon, Tormentil leaves, Rossolis and Roses, Carnation,
     Hyssop, Thyme, red strings that grow upon Savory, red Fennel leaves
     and root, red Mints, of each a handful; bruise these hearbs and put
     them in a great earthern pot, & pour on them enough White Wine as
     will cover them, stop them close, and let them steep for eight or
     nine days; then put to it Cinnamon, Ginger, Angelica-seeds, Cloves,
     and Nuttmegs, of each an ounce, a little Saffron, Sugar one pound,
     Raysins solis stoned one pound, the loyns and legs of an old Coney,
     a fleshy running Capon, the red flesh of the sinews of a leg of
     Mutton, four young Chickens, twelve larks, the yolks of twelve
     Eggs, a loaf of White-bread cut in sops, and two or three ounces of
     Mithridate or Treacle, & as much Muscadine as will cover them all.
     Distil al with a moderate fire, and keep the first and second
     waters by themselves; and when there comes no more by Distilling
     put more Wine into the pot upon the same stuffe and distil it
     again, and you shal have another good water. This water
     strengtheneth the Spirit, Brain, Heart, Liver, and Stomack. Take
     when need is by itself, or with Ale, Beer, or Wine mingled with

Who could doubt that it strengthened the spirit, especially when taken
with ale or wine? Plainly here do we see the need of a doctor being a
good cook. But what pot would hold all that flesh and fowl, that
blooming flower-garden of herbs and posies, that assorted lot of fruits
and spices, to say nothing of the muscadine?

Our ancestors spared no pains in preparing these medicines. They did
not, shifting all responsibility, run to a chemist or apothecary with a
little slip of paper; with their own hands they picked, pulled, pounded,
stamped, shredded, dropped, powdered, and distilled, regardless of
expense, or trouble, or hard work. Truly they deserved to be cured. They
did not measure the drugs with precision in preparing their medicines,
as do our chemists nowadays, nor were their prescriptions written in
Latin nor with cabalistic marks--the asbestos stomachs and colossal
minds of our forefathers were much above such petty minuteness; nor did
they administer the doses with exactness. "The bigth of a walnut,"
"enough to lie on a pen knifes point," "the weight of a shilling,"
"enough to cover a French crown," "as bigg as a haslenut," "as great as
a charger," "the bigth of a Turkeys Egg," "a pretty draught," "a pretty
bunch of herbs," "take a little handful," "take a pretty quantity as
often as you please"--such are the lax directions that accompany these
old prescriptions.

Of course, the remedies given in this book were largely for the diseases
of the day. Physicians and parsons, lords and ladies, combined to
furnish complex and elaborate prescriptions and perfumes to cure and
avert the plague; and the list includes one plague-cure that the Lord
Mayor had from the Queen, and I may add that it is a particularly
unpleasant and revolting one. A plague swept through New England and
decimated the Indian tribes; and though it was not at all like the great
plague that devastated London, I doubt not red man and white man took
confidingly and faithfully medicines such as are given in this little
book of mine: the king's feeble and much-vaunted dose of "White Wine,
Ginger, Treacle, and Sage;" Dr. Atkinson's excellent perfume against the
Plague, of "Angelica roots and Wine Vinegar, that if taken fasting, your
breath would kill the Plague" (it must have been a fearful dose); "Mr.
Fenton's the Chirurgeon's Posset and his Sedour Root."

Cures for small-pox and for gout are many. Varied are the lotions for
the "pin and web in the eye;" so many are there of these that it makes
me suspect that our forefathers were sadly sore-eyed.

One very prevalent ail that our ancestors had to endure (if we can judge
from the number of prescriptions for its relief) was a "cold stomack;"
literally cold, one might think, since most of the cures were by
external application. Lady Spencer used a plebeian "greene turfe of
grasse" to warm her stomach, with the green side, not the dirt side,
placed next the skin. She could scarcely have worn this turf when she
was up and around the house, could she? She must have had it placed upon
her while she was in bed. Josselyn said in his "New England Rarities"
that, "to wear the skin of a Gripe dressed with the doun on" would cure
pain and coldness of the stomach. Thus did like cure like. A
"Restorative Bag" of herbs and spices heated in "boyl'd Vinegar" is
asserted to be "comfortable." "It must be as hot as can be endured, and
keep yourself from studying and musing and it will comfort you much." So
it seems you ought not to study nor to muse if your stomach be cold.

Many and manifold are the remedies to "chear the heart," to "drive
melancholy," to "cure one pensive," "for the megrums," "for a grief;"
and without doubt the lonely colonists often needed them. We know, too,
that "things ill for the heart were beans, pease, sadness, onions,
anger, evil tidings, and loss of friends,"--a very arbitrary and unjust
classification. Melancholy was evidently regarded as a disease, and a
much-to-be-lamented one. External applications were made to "drive the
worms out of the Brain as well as Dross out of the Stomack." Here is "A
pretious water to revive the Spirits:"

     "Take four gallons of strong Ale, five ounces of Aniseeds,
     Liquorish scraped half a pound, Sweet Mints, Angelica, Eccony,
     Cowslip flowers, Sage & Rosemary Flowers, sweet Marjoram, of each
     three handfuls, Palitory of the VVal one handful. After it is
     fermented two or three dayes, distil it in a Limbeck, and in the
     water infuse one handful of the flowers aforesaid, Cinnamon and
     Fennel-seed of each half an ounce, Juniper berries bruised one
     dram, red Rosebuds, roasted Apples & dates sliced and stoned, of
     each half a pound; distil it again and sweeten it with some
     Sugarcandy, and take of Ambergreese, Pearl, Red Coral, Hartshorn
     pounded, and leaf Gold, of each half a Dram, put them in a fine
     Linnen bag, and hang them by a thread in a Glasse."

Think of taking all that trouble to make something to cheer the spirits,
when the four gallons of strong ale with spices would have fully
answered the purpose, without bothering with the herbs and fruits. I
suppose the gold and jewels were particularly cheering ingredients, and
perhaps entitled the drink to its name of precious water. Indeed, it
would be cheering to the spirits nowadays to have the precious metals
and gems that were so lavishly used in these ancient medicines.

Full jewelled were the works of English persons of quality in the time
of the Merry Monarch and his sire. The gold and gems were not always
hung in bags in the medicines; frequently they were powdered and
dissolved, and formed a large portion of the dose. Like Chaucer's
Doctour, they believed that "gold in phisike is a cordial." Dr.
Gifford's "Amber Pils for Consumption" contained a large quantity of
pearls, white amber, and coral, as did also Lady Kent's powder. Sir
Edward Spencer's eye-salve was rich in powdered pearls. The Bishop of
Worcester's "admirable curing powder" was composed largely of "ten skins
of snakes or adders or Slow worms" mixed with "Magistery of Pearls." The
latter was a common ingredient, and under the head of "Choice Secrets
Made Known" we are told how to manufacture it:

     "Dissolve two or three ounces of fine seed Pearl in distill'd
     Vinegar, and when it's perfectly dissolved and all taken up, pour
     the Vinegar into a clean glasse Bason; then drop some few drops of
     oyl of Tartar upon it, and it will call down the Pearl into the
     powder; then pour the Vinegar clean off softly; then put to the
     Pearl clear Conduit or Spring water; pour that off, and do so
     often until the taste of the Vinegar and Tartar be clean gone; then
     dry the powder of Pearl upon warm embers and keep for your use."

Gold and precious stones were specially necessary "to ease the passion
of the Heart," as indeed they are nowadays. In that century, however,
they applied the mercenary cure inwardly, and prepared it thus:

     "Take Damask Roses half-blown, cut off thier whites, and stamp them
     very fine, and straine out the Juyce very strong; moisten it in the
     stamping with a little Damask Rose water; then put thereto fine
     powder Sugar, and boyl it gently to a fine Syrup; then take the
     Powders of Amber, Pearl, Rubies, of each half a dram, Ambergreese
     one scruple, and mingle them with the said syrup till it be
     somewhat thick, and take a little thereof on a knifes point morning
     and evening."

I can now understand the reason for the unceasing, the incurable
melancholy that hung like a heavy black shadow over so many Puritan
divines in the early days of New England, as their gloomy sermons, their
sad diaries and letters, plainly show. Those poor ministers had no
chance to use these receipts and thus get cured of "worms in the brain,"
with annual salaries of only £60, which they had to take in corn, wheat,
codfish, or bearskins, in any kind of "country pay," or even in wampum,
in order to get it at all. Rubies and pearls and gold and coral were
scarce drugs in clerical circles in Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth
plantations. Even amber and ivory were far from plentiful. We find John
Winthrop writing in 1682, "I am straitened, having no ivory beaten,
neither any pearle nor corall." Cleopatra drinks were out of fashion in
the New World. So Mather and Hooker and Warham were condemned to die
with uncheered spirits and unjewelled stomachs.

Another ingredient, unicorns' horns, which were ground and used in
powders, must have been difficult to obtain in New England, although I
believe Governor Winthrop had one sent to him as a gift from England;
and John Endicott, writing to him in 1634, said: "I have sent you Mrs
Beggarly her Vnicorns horne & beza stone." Both the unicorn's horn and
the bezoar stone were sovereign antidotes against poison. At another
time Winthrop had sent to him "bezoar stone, mugwort, orgaine, and
galingall root." Ambergris was also too rare and costly for American
Puritans to use, though we find Hull writing for golden ambergroose.

Insomnia is not a bane of our modern civilization alone. This little
book shows that our ancestors craved and sought sleep just as we do.
Here is a prescription to cure sleeplessness, which might be tried by
any wakeful soul of modern times, since it requires neither rubies,
pearls, nor gold for its manufacture:

     "Bruise a handful of Anis-seeds, and steep them in Red Rose Water,
     & make it up in little bags, & binde one of them to each Nostrill,
     and it will cause sleep."

So aniseed bags were used in earlier days for a purpose very different
from our modern one; if your nineteenth century nose should refuse to
accustom itself to having bags hung on it, you can "Chop Chammomile &
crumbs of Brown Bread smal and boyl them with White Wine Vinegar, stir
it wel and spred it on a cloth & binde it to the soles of the feet as
hot as you can suffer it." And if that should not make you sleepy, there
are frankincense-perfumed paper bags for your head, and some very
pleasant things made of rose-leaves for your temples, and hard-boiled
eggs for the nape of your neck--you can choose from all of these.

They had abounding faith in those days. Several of the prescriptions in
"The Queen's Closet" are to cure people at a remote distance, by
applying the nostrums to a linen cloth previously wet with the patient's
blood. They had plasters of power to put on the back of the head to draw
the palate into place; and wonderful elixirs that would keep a dying man
alive five years; and herb-juices to make a dumb man speak. The
following suggestion shows plainly their confiding spirit:

     "To Cure Deafnesse. Take the Garden Dasie roots and make juyce
     thereof, and lay the worst side of the head low upon the bolster &
     drop three or four drops thereof into the better Ear; this do three
     or four dayes together."

"Simpatheticall" medicines had a special charm for all the Winthrops,
and that delightful but gullible old English alchemist, Sir Kenelm
Digby, kept them well posted in all the newest nonsense.

In a medical dispensatory of the times the different varieties of
medicines used in New England are enumerated. They are leaves, herbs,
roots, barks, seeds, flowers, juices, distilled waters, syrups, juleps,
decoctions, oils, electuaries, conserves, preserves, lohocks, ointments,
plasters, poultices, troches, and pills. These words and articles are
all used nowadays, except the lohock, which was to be _licked up_, and
in consistency stood in the intermediate ground between an electuary and
a syrup. These terms, of course, were in the Galenic practice. In "The
Queen's Closet" all the physic was found afield, with the exception of
the precious metals and one compound, rubila, which was made of antimony
and nitre, and which was in special favor in the Winthrop family--as
many of their letters show. They sent it and recommended it to their
friends--and better still, they took it faithfully themselves, and with
most satisfactory results.

There was also one mineral "oyntment" made of quicksilver, verdigris,
and brimstone mixed with "barrows grease," which was good for "horse,
man, or other beast." Alum and copperas were once recommended for
external use. The powerful "plaister of Paracelsus," also beloved of the
Winthrops, was not composed of mineral drugs, as might be supposed, but
was made of herbs, and from the ingredients named must have been
particularly nasty smelling as well as powerful.

The medicine mithridate forms a part of many of these prescriptions; it
does not seem to be regarded as an alexipharmic, but as a soporific. It
is said to have been the cure-all of King Mithridates. I will not give
an account of the process of its manufacture; it would fill about three
pages of this book, and I should think it would take about six weeks to
compound a good dose of it. There are forty-five different articles
used, each to be prepared by slow degrees and introduced with great
care; some of them (such as the rape of storax, camel's hay, and bellies
of skinks) must have been inconvenient to procure in New England.
Mithridates would hardly recognize his own medicine in this
conglomeration, for when Pompey found his precious receipt it was simple
enough: "Pound with care two walnuts, two dried figs, twenty pounds of
rice, and a grain of salt." I think we might take this _cum grano

Queer were the names of some of the herbs; alehoof, which was
ground-ivy, or gill-go-by-ground, or haymaids, or twinhoof, or
gill-creep-by-ground, and was an herb of Venus, and thus in special use
for "passions of the heart," for "amorous cups," which few Puritans
dared to meddle with. The blessed thistle, of which one scandalized old
writer says, "I suppose the name was put upon it by them that had little
holiness themselves." Clary, or clear-eye, or Christ's-eye, which latter
name makes the same writer indignantly say, "I could wish from my soul
that blasphemy and ignorance were ceased among physicians"--as if the
poor doctors gave these folk-names! The crab-claws so often mentioned
was also an herb, otherwise known as knight's-pond water and
freshwater-soldier. The mints to flavor were horsemint, spearmint,
peppermint, catmint, and heartmint.

The earliest New England colonists did not discover in the new country
all the herbs and simples of their native land, but the Indian powwows
knew of others that answered every purpose--very healing herbs too, as
Wood in his "New England's Prospects" unwillingly acknowledges and thus
explains: "Sometimes the devill for requitall of their worship recovers
the partie to nuzzle them up inn thier devilish Religion." The planters
sent to England for herbs and drugs, as existing inventories show; and
they planted seeds and soon had plenty of home herbs that grew apace in
every dooryard. The New Haven colony passed a law at an early date to
force the destruction of a "great stinking poisonous weed," which is
said to have been the _Datura stramonium_, a medicinal herb. It had been
brought over by the Jamestown colonists, and had spread miraculously,
and was known as "Jimson" or Jamestown weed.

Josselyn gives in his "New England's Rarities" an interesting list of
the herbs known and used by the colonists. Cotton Mather said the most
useful and favorite medicinal plants were alehoof, garlick, elder, sage,
rue, and saffron. Saffron has never lost its popularity. To this day
"saffern tea" is a standing country dose in New England, especially for
the "jarnders." Elder, rue, and saffron were English herbs that were
made settlers here and carefully cultivated; so also were sage, hyssop,
tansy, wormwood, celandine, comfrey, mallows, mayweed, yarrow,
chamomile, dandelion, shepherd's-purse, bloody dock, elecampane,
motherwort, burdock, plantain, catnip, mint, fennel, and dill--all now
flaunting weeds. Dunton wrote, with praise of a Dr. Bullivant, in
Boston, in 1686, "He does not direct his patients to the East Indies to
look for drugs when they may have far better out of their gardens."

There is a charm in these medical rules in my old book, in spite of the
earth-worms and wood-lice and adders and vipers in which some of them
abound (to say nothing of other and more shocking ingredients). In
surprising and unpleasant compounds they do not excel the prescriptions
in a serious medical book published in Exeter, New Hampshire, as late as
1835. Nor is Cotton Mather's favorite and much-vaunted ingredient
_millepedes_, or sowbugs, once mentioned within. All are not vile
in my Queen's Closet--far from it. Medicines composed of Canary wine
or sack, with rose-water, juice of oranges and lemons, syrup of
clove-gillyflower, loaf sugar, "Mallago raisins," nutmegs, cloves,
cinnamon, mace, remind me strongly of Josselyn's New England Nectar, and
render me quite dissatisfied with our modern innovations of quinine,
antipyrine, and phenacetin, and even make only passively welcome the
innocuous and uninteresting homo[eo]pathic pellet and drop.

Many other dispensatories, guides, collections, and records of medical
customs and concoctions, remain to us even of the earliest days. We have
the private receipt-book of John Winthrop, a gathering of choice
receipts given to him in manuscript by one Stafford, of England. These
receipts have been printed in the Collections of the Massachusetts
Historical Society for the year 1862, with delightful notes by Dr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, and are of the same nature as those in the
Queen's Closet. Here is one, which was venomous, yet harmless enough:

     "My black powder against ye plague, small-pox, purples, all sorts
     of feavers, Poyson; either by way of prevention or after Infection.
     In the Moneth of March take Toades, as many as you will, alive;
     putt them into an Earthen pott, so yt it be halfe full; Cover it
     with a broad tyle or Iron plate, then overwhelme the pott, so yt ye
     bottome may be uppermost; putt charcoals round about it and over it
     and in the open ayre not in an house; sett it on fire and lett it
     burne out and extinguish of itself; when it is cold take out the
     toades; and in an Iron morter pound them very well; and searce
     them; then in a Crucible calcine them; So againe; pound them &
     searce them again. The first time they will be a brown powder, the
     next time blacke. Of this you may give a dragme in a Vehiculum or
     drinke Inwardly in any Infection taken: and let them sweat upon it
     in their bedds: but let them not cover their heads; especially in
     the Small-Pox. For prevention half a dragme will suffice."

I do not know what meteorological influence was assigned to the month of
March; perhaps it was chosen because toads would be uncommonly hard to
get in New England during that month.

All the medicines in Dr. Stafford's little collection were not,
however, so unalluring, and were, on the whole, very healing and
respectable. He prescribed nitre, antimony, rhubarb, jalap, and
spermaceti, "the sovereignest thing on earth--for an inward bruise;" and
he also culled herbs and simples in vast variety. He gave some very good
advice regarding the conduct of a physician, the latter clause of which
might well be heeded to-day.

     "Nota bene. No man can with a good Conscience take a fee or Reward
     before ye partie receive benefit apparent and then he is not to
     demand anything but what God shall putt it into the heart of the
     partie to give him. A man is not to neglect that partie to whom he
     had once administered but to visit him at least once a day & to
     medle with no more than he can well attend."

The account books of other old New England physicians, and other medical
books such as "A Treatise of Choice Spagyrical Preparations," show to us
that the seventeenth and eighteenth century medicines, though
disgusting, were not deadly. We know what medicines were given the
colonists on their sea journey hither: "Oil of Cloves, Origanum, Purging
Pills, and Ressin of Jalap" for the toothache; a Diaphoretic Bolus for
an "Extream Cold;" Spirits of Castor and Oil of Amber for "Histericall
Fitts;" "Seaurell Emplaisters for a broken Shin;" and for other
afflictions, "Gascons Powder, Liquorish, Carminative Seeds, Syrup of
Saffron, Pectoral Syrups and Somniferous Boluses."

Cod livers were given then as cod-liver oil is given now, "to restore
them that have melted their Grease." A favorite prescription was
"Rulandus, his Balsam which tho' it smel not wel" was properly powerful,
and could be gotten down if carefully hidden in "poudered shuger."

Cotton Mather, who tried his skilful hand at writing upon almost every
grave and weighty subject, composed a book of medical advice called the
"Angel of Bethesda." It was written when he was sixty years of age, but
was never printed; the manuscript is preserved in the library of the
American Antiquarian Society at Worcester. It begins characteristically
with a sermon, and is fantastically peppered with pompous scriptural and
classical quotations, as was the Mather wont. The ingredients of the
prescriptions are vile beyond belief, though, as Mather said in one of
his letters, they are "powerful and parable physicks," which are two
desirable qualities or attributes of any physic. The book gives an
interesting account of Mather's share in that great colonial revolution
in medicine--the introduction of the custom of inoculation for the
small-pox. His friend, Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, of Boston, was the first
physician to inaugurate this great step by inoculating his own son--a
child six years old. Deep was the horror and aversion felt by the
colonial public toward both the practice and practitioners of this
daring innovation, and fiercely and malignantly was it opposed; but its
success soon conquered opposition, and also that fell disease, which six
times within a hundred years had devastated New England, bringing
death, disfigurement, and business misfortunes to the colonists. So
universal was the branding produced by this scourge that scarcely an
advertisement containing any personal description appears in any
colonial print, without containing the words, pock-fretten, pock-marked,
pock-pitted, or pock-broken.

Through the possibility of having the small-pox to order, arose the
necessity of small-pox hospitals, to which whole families or parties
resorted to pass through the ordeal in concert. Small-pox parties were
made the occasion of much friendly intercourse; they were called
classes. Thus in the _Salem Gazette_ of April 22, 1784, after Point
Shirley was set aside as a small-pox retreat, it was advertised that
"Classes will be admitted for Small pox." These classes were real
country outings, having an additional zest of novelty since one could
fully participate in the pleasures, profits, and pains of a small-pox
party but once in a lifetime. Much etiquette and deference was shown
over these "physical gatherings," formal invitations were sometimes sent
to join the function at a private house. Here is an extract from a
letter written July 8, 1775, by Joseph Barrell, a Boston merchant, to
Colonel Wentworth: "Mr. Storer has invited Mrs. Martin to take the
small-pox in her house; if Mrs. Wentworth desires to get rid of her
fears in the same way we will accommodate her in the best way we can.
I've several friends that I've invited, and none of them will be more
welcome than Mrs. Wentworth." These brave classes took their various
purifying and sudorific medicines in cheerful concert, were "grafted"
together, "broke out" together, were feverish together, sweat together,
scaled off together, and convalesced together. Not a very prepossessing
conjoining medium would inoculation appear to have been, but many a
pretty and sentimental love affair sprang up between mutually
"pock-fretten" New Englanders.

The small-pox hospitals were of various degrees of elegance and comfort,
and were widely advertised. I have found four separate announcements in
one of the small sheets of a Federal newspaper. From the luxurious
high-priced retreat "without Mercury" were grades descending to the
Suttonian, Brunonian, Pincherian, Dimsdalian, and other plebeian
establishments, in which the patient paid from fifteen to as low as
three dollars per week for lodging, food, medicine, care, and
inoculation. At the latter cheap establishment each person was
obliged to furnish for his individual use one sheet and one
pillow-case--apparently a meagre outfit for sickness, but possibly
merely a supplemental one.

This is a fair example of the prevailing advertisement of small-pox
hospitals, from the _Connecticut Courant_ of November 30, 1767:

     "Dr. Uriah Rogers, Jr., of Norwalk County of Fairfield takes this
     method to acquaint the Publick & particularly such as are desirous
     of taking the Small Pox by way of Inoculation, that having had
     Considerable Experience in that Branch of Practice and carried on
     the same the last season with great Success; has lately erected a
     convenient Hospital for that purpose just within the Jurisdiction
     Line of the Province of New York about nine miles distant from N. Y.
     Harbour, where he intends to carry said Branch of Practice from the
     first of October next to the first of May next. And that all such
     as are disposed to favour him with their Custom may depend upon
     being well provided with all necessary accomodations, Provisions &
     the best Attendance at the moderate Expence of Four Pounds Lawful
     Money to Each Patient. That after the first Sett or Class he
     purposes to give no Occasion for waiting to go in Particular Setts
     but to admit Parties singly, just as it suits them. As he has
     another Good House provided near Said Hospital where his family are
     to live, and where all that come after the first Sett that go into
     the Hospital are to remain with his Family until they are
     sufficiently Prepared & Inoculated & Until it is apparent that they
     haven taken the infection."

Of all the advertisements of small-pox hospitals, inoculation, etc.,
which appear in the newspapers through the eighteenth century, none is
more curious, more comic than this from a Boston paper of 1772:

     "Ibrahim Mustapha Inoculator to his Sublime Highness & the
     Janissaries: original Inventor and sole Proprietor of that
     Inestimable Instrument, the Circassian Needle, begs leave to
     acquaint the Nobility & Gentry of this City and its Environs that
     he is just arrived from Constantinople where he has inoculated
     about 50,000 Persons without losing a Single Patient. He requires
     not the least Preparation Regimen or Confinement. Ladies and
     Gentlemen who wish to be inoculated only acquaint him with how many
     Pimples they choose and he makes the exact number of Punctures with
     his Needle which Produces the Eruptions in the very Picquers.
     Ladies who fancy a favorite Pitt may have it put in any Spot they
     please, and of any size: not the Slightest Fever or Pain attends
     the Eruption; much less any of those frightful Convulsions so usual
     in all the vulgar methods of Inoculation, even in the famous Peter
     Puffs. This amazing Needle more truly astonishing and not less
     useful than the Magnetic one, has this property in common with the
     latter, that by touching the point of a common needle it
     communicates its wonderful Virtues to it in the same manner that
     Loadstone does to Iron. And that no part of this extensive
     Continent may want the Benefit of this Superlatively excellent
     Method, Ibrahim Mustapha proposes to touch several Needles in order
     to have them distributed to different Colonies by which means the
     Small Pocks may be entirely eradicated as it has been in the
     Turkish Empire."

Generous Ibrahim Mustapha! despite the testimony of the Janissaries and
the entire Turkish Empire, I cannot doubt that in your early youth you
frequently kissed the Blarney Stone, hence your fluent tongue and your
gallant proposition to becomingly decorate with pits the ladies.

Besides the scourge of small-pox, the colonists were afflicted
grievously with other malignant distempers,--fatal throat diseases,
epidemic influenzas, putrid fevers, terrible fluxes; and as the art of
sanitation was absolutely disregarded and almost unknown, as drainage
there was none, and the notion of disinfection was in feeble infancy, we
cannot wonder that the death-rates were high. Well might the New
Englander say with Sir Thomas Browne: "Considering the thousand doors
that lead to death, I do thank my God that we can die but once."

Cotton Mather was not the only kind-hearted New England minister who set
up to heal the body as well as the soul of the entire town. All the
early parsons seem to have turned eagerly to medicine. The Wigglesworths
were famous doctors. President Hoar, of Harvard College, President
Rogers, President Chauncey, all practised medicine. The latter's six
sons were all ministers, and all good doctors, too. It was a parson,
Thomas Thatcher, who wrote the first medical treatise published in
America, a set of "Brief Rules for the Care of the Small Pocks," printed
as a broadside in 1677. Many of the early parsons played also the part
of apothecary, buying drugs at wholesale and compounding and selling
medicines to their parishioners. Small wonder that Cotton Mather called
the union of physic and piety an "Angelical Conjunction."

Other professions and callings joined hands with chirurgy and medicine.
Innkeepers, magistrates, grocers, and schoolmasters were doctors. One
surgeon was a butcher--sadly similar callings in those days. This
butcher-surgeon was not Mr. Pighogg, the Plymouth "churregein," whose
unpleasant name was, I trust, only the cacographical rendering of the
good old English name Peacock.

With all these amateur and semi-professional rivals, it is no wonder
that Giles Firmin, who knew how to pull teeth and bleed and sweat in a
truly professional manner, complained that he found physic but a "meene
helpe" in the new land.

So vast was the confidence of the community in some or any kind of a
doctor, and in self-doctoring, that as late as the year 1721 there was
but one regularly graduated physician in Boston--Dr. Samuel Douglas; and
it may be noted that he was one of the most decided opponents of
inoculation for small-pox.

Colonial dames also boldly tried their hand at the healing art; the
first two, Anne Hutchinson and Margaret Jones, did not thrive very well
at the trade. The banishment of the former has oft been told. The latter
was hung as a witch, and the worst evidence against her character, the
positive proof of her diabolical power was, that her medicines being so
simple, they worked such wonderful cures. At the close of King Philip's
War the Council of Connecticut paid Mrs. Allyn £20 for her services to
the sick, and Mistress Sarah Sands doctored on Block Island. Sarah
Alcock, the wife of a chirurgeon, was also "active in physick;" and
Mistress Whitman, the Marlborough midwife, visited her patients on
snow-shoes, and lived to be seventy-eight years old, too. In the Phipps
Street Burying Ground in Charlestown is the tombstone of a Boston
midwife who died in 1761, aged seventy-six years, and who, could we
believe the record on the gravestone, "by ye blessing of God has brought
into this world above 130,000 children." But a close examination shows
that the number on the ancient headstone, through the mischievous
manipulation of modern hands, has received a figure at either end, and
the good old lady can only be charged with three thousand additions to
wretched humanity.

Negroes, and illiterate persons of all complexions, set up as doctors.
Old Joe Pye and Sabbatus were famous Indian healers. Indian squaws, such
as Molly Orcutt, sold many a decoction of leaves and barks to the
planters, and, like Hiawatha,

    "Wandered eastward, wandered westward,
     Teaching men the use of simples,
     And the antidotes for poisons,
     And the cure of all diseases."

A good old Connecticut doctor had a negro servant, Primus, who rode with
him and helped him in his surgery and shop. When the master died, Doctor
Primus started in to practise medicine himself, and proved
extraordinarily successful throughout the county; even his master's
patients did not disdain to employ the black successor, wishing no doubt
their wonted bolus and draught.

In spite of the fact that everyone and anyone seemed to be permitted,
and was considered fitted to prescribe medicine, the colonists were
sharp enough on the venders of quack medicines--or, perhaps I should
say, of powerless medicines--on "runnagate chyrurgeons and
physickemongers, saltimbancoes, quacksalvers, charlatans, and all
impostourous empiricks." As early as 1631, one Nicholas Knapp was fined
and whipped for pretending "to cure the scurvey by a water of noe worth
nor value which he sold att a very deare rate." The planters were
terribly prostrated by scurvy, and doubtless were specially indignant at
this heartless cheat.

Tides of absurd attempts at medicine, or rather at healing, swept over
the scantily settled New England villages in colonial days, just as we
have seen in our own day, in our great cities, the abounding
success--financially--of the blue-glass cure, the faith cure, and of
science healing. The Rain Water Doctor worked wondrous miracles, and did
a vast and lucrative business until he was unluckily drowned in a
hogshead of his own medicine at his own door. Bishop Berkeley, in his
pamphlet Siris, started a flourishing tar-water craze, which lived long
and died slowly. This cure-all, like the preceding aquatic physic, had
the merit of being cheap. A quart of tar steeped for forty-eight hours
in a gallon of water, tainted the water enough to make it fit for
dosing. Perhaps the most expansive swindle was that of Dr. Perkins, with
his Metallic Tractors. He was born in Norwich, Conn., in 1740, and found
fortune and fame in his native land. Still he was expelled from the
association of physicians in his own country, but managed to establish a
Perkinean Institution in London with a fine, imposing list of officers
and managers, of whom Benjamin Franklin's son was one. He had poems and
essays and eulogies and books written about him, and it was claimed by
his followers that he cured one million and a half of sufferers. At any
rate, he managed to carry off £10,000 of good English money to New
England. His wonderful Metallic Tractors were little slips of iron and
brass three inches long, blunt at one end, and pointed at the other, and
said to be of opposite electrical conditions. They cost five guineas a
pair. When drawn or trailed for several minutes over a painful or
diseased spot on the human frame, they positively removed and cured all
ache, smart, or soreness. I have never doubted they worked wonderful
cures; so did bits of wood, of lead, of stone, of earthenware, in the
hands of scoffers, when the tractorated patients did not see the bits,
and fancied that the manipulator held Metallic Tractors.

As years passed on various useful medicines became too much the vogue,
and were used to too vast and too deleterious an extent, particularly
mercury. Many a poor salivated patient sacrificed his teeth to his
doctor's mercurial doses. One such toothless sufferer, a carpenter,
having little ready money, offered to pay his physician in hay-rakes;
and he took a revengeful delight in manufacturing the rakes of green,
unseasoned wood. After a few days' use in the sunny fields, the doctor's
rakes were as toothless as their maker.

Physicians' fees were "meene" enough in olden times; but sixpence a
visit in Hadley and Northampton in 1730, and only eightpence in
Revolutionary times. A blood-letting, or a jaw-splitting tooth-drawing
cost the sufferer eightpence extra. No wonder the doctor cupped and bled
on every occasion. In extravagant Hartford the opulent doctor got a
shilling a visit. Naturally all the chirurgeons eked out and augmented
their scanty fees by compounding and selling their own medicines, and
dosed often and dosed deeply, since by their doses they lived. In many
communities a bone-setter had to be paid a salary by the town in order
to keep him, so few and slight were his private emoluments, even as a

The science of nursing the sick was, in early days, unknown; there were
but few who made a profession of nursing, and those few were deeply to
be dreaded. In taking care of the sick, as in other kindnesses, the
neighborly instinct, ever so keen, so living in New England, showed no
lagging part. For it is plain to any student of early colonial days
that, if the chief foundation of the New England commonwealth was
religion, the second certainly was neighborliness. There was a constant
exchange of kindly and loving attentions between families and
individuals. It showed itself in all the petty details of daily life, in
assistance in housework and in the field, in house-raising. Did a man
build a barn, his neighbors flocked to drive a pin, to lay a stone, to
stand forever in the edifice as token of their friendly goodwill. The
most eminent, as well as the poorest neighbors, thus assisted. In
nothing was this neighborly feeling more constantly shown than in the
friendly custom of visiting and watching with the sick; and it was the
only available assistance. Men and women in this care and attention took
equal part. As in all other neighborly duties, good Judge Sewall was
never remiss in the sick-room. He was generous with his gifts and
generous with his time, even to those humble in the community. Such
entries as this abound in his diary: "Oct. 26th 1702. Visited
languishing Mr. Sam Whiting. I gave him 2 Balls of Chockalett and a
pound of Figgs." And when Mr. Bayley lay ill of a fever, he prayed with
him and took care of him through many a long night, and wrote:

     "When I came away call'd his wife into the Next Chamber and gave
     her Two Five Shilling Bits. She very modestly and kindly accepted
     them and said I had done too much already. I told her if the State
     of my family would have born it I ought to have watched with Mr.
     Bayley as much as that came to."

To others he gave China oranges, dishes of marmalet, Meers Cakes,
Banberry Cakes; and even to well-to-do people gave gifts of money,
sometimes specifying for what purpose he wished the gift to be applied.

The universal custom of praying at inordinate length and frequency with
sick persons was of more doubtful benefit, though of equally kind
intent. One cannot but be amazed to find how many persons--ministers,
elders, deacons, and laymen were allowed to enter the sick-room and pray
by the bedside of the invalid, thus indeed giving him, as Sewall said,
"a lift Heavenward." Sometimes a succession of prayers filled the entire

Judge Sewall's friendly prayers and visits were not always welcome.
After visiting sick Mr. Brattle the Judge writes, but without any
resentment, "he plainly told me that frequent visits were prejudicial
to him, it provok'd him to speak more than his strength would bear,
would have me come seldom." And on September 20, 1690, he met with this

     "Mr. Moody and I went before the others came to neighbor Hurd who
     lay dying where also Mr. Allen came in. Nurse Hurd told her husband
     who was there and what he had to say; whether he desir'd them to
     pray with him; He said with some earnestness, Hold your tongue,
     which was repeated three times to his wives repeated entreaties;
     once he said Let me alone or Be quiet (whether that made a fourth
     or was one of the three do not remember) and, My Spirits are gon.
     At last Mr. Moody took him up pretty roundly and told him he might
     with some labour have given a pertinent answer. When we were ready
     to come away Mr. Moody bid him put forth a little Breath to ask
     prayer, and said twas the last time had to speak to him; At last
     ask'd him, doe you desire prayer, shall I pray with you. He
     answered, Ay for Gods sake and thank'd Mr. Moody when had done. His
     former carriage was very startling and amazing to us. About one at
     night he died. About 11 o'clock I supposed to hear neighbor Mason
     at prayer with him just as my wife and I were going to bed."

One cannot but feel a thrill of sympathy for poor, dying Hurd on that
hot September night, fairly hectored by pious, loud-voiced neighbors
into eternity; and can well believe that many a colonial invalid who
lived through mithridate and rubila, through sweating and blood-letting,
died of the kindly and godly-intentioned praying of his neighbors.



The earliest New Englanders had no religious services at a funeral. Not
wishing to "confirm the popish error that prayer is to be used for the
dead or over the dead," they said no words, either of grief,
resignation, or faith, but followed the coffin and filled the grave in
silence. Lechford has given us a picture of a funeral in New England in
the seventeenth century, which is full of simple dignity, if not of

     "At Burials nothing is read, nor any funeral sermon made, but all
     the neighborhood or a goodly company of them come together by
     tolling of the bell, and carry the dead solemnly to his grave, and
     then stand by him while he is buried. The ministers are most
     commonly present."

As was the fashion in England at that date, laudatory verses and
sentences were fastened to the bier or herse. The name herse was then
applied to the draped catafalque or platform upon which the candles
stood and the coffin rested, not as now the word hearse to a carriage
for the conveyance of the dead. Sewall says of the funeral of the Rev.
Thomas Shepherd: "There were some verses, but none pinned on the Herse."
These verses were often printed after the funeral. The publication of
mourning broadsides and pamphlets, black-bordered and dismal, was a
large duty of the early colonial press. They were often decorated
gruesomely with skull and crossbones, scythes, coffins, and
hour-glasses, all-seeing eyes with rakish squints, bow-legged skeletons,
and miserable little rosetted winding-sheets.

A writer in the _New England Courant_ of November 12, 1722, says:

     Of all the different species of poetry now in use I find the
     Funeral Elegy to be most universally admired and used in New
     England. There is scarce a plough jogger or country cobler that has
     read our Psalms and can make two lines jingle, who has not once in
     his life at least exercised his talent in this way. Nor is there
     one country house in fifty which has not its walls garnished with
     half a Score of these sort of Poems which praise the Dead to the

When a Puritan died his friends conspired in mournful concert, or
labored individually and painfully, to bring forth as tributes of grief
and respect, rhymed elegies, anagrams, epitaphs, acrostics, epicediums,
and threnodies; and singularly enough, seemed to reserve for these
gloomy tributes their sole attempt at facetiousness. Ingenious quirks
and puns, painful and complicate jokes (printed in italics that you may
not escape nor mistake them) bestrew these funeral verses. If a man
chanced to have a name of any possible twist of signification, such as
Green, Stone, Blackman, in doleful puns did he posthumously suffer; and
his friends and relatives endured vicariously also, for to them these
grinning death's-heads of rhymes were widely distributed.

It was with a keen sense of that humor which comes, as Sydney Smith
says, from sudden and unexpected contrast, that I read a heavily
bordered sheet entitled in large letters, "A Grammarian's Funeral." It
was printed at the death of Schoolmaster Woodmancey, and was so much
admired that it was brought forth again at the demise of Ezekiel
Cheever, who died in 1708 after no less than seventy years of
school-teaching. I think we may truly say of him, teaching at
ninety-three years of age,

    "With throttling hands of death at strife,
     Ground he at grammar."

For the consideration and investigation of Browning Societies, I give a
few lines from this New England conception of a Grammarian's Funeral.

    "Eight parts of Speech This Day wear Mourning Gowns,
     _Declin'd_ Verbs, Pronouns, Participles, and Nouns.
     The Substantive seeming the limbed best
     Would set an hand to bear him to his _Rest_
     The Adjective with very grief did say
     Hold me by Strength or I shall faint away.
     Great Honour was conferred on _Conjugations_
     They were to follow next to the _Relations_

       *       *       *       *       *

     But Lego said, by me his got his Skill
     And therefore next the Herse I follow will
     A Doleful Day for _Verbs_ they look so _Moody_
     They drove Spectators to a mournful Study."

I have a strong suspicion that this funeral poem may have been learned
by heart by succeeding generations of Boston scholars, as a sort of
grammatical memory-rhyme--a mournful study, indeed.

Funeral sermons were also printed, with trappings of sombreness,
black-bordered, with death's-heads and crossbones on the covers. These
sermons were not, however, preached at the time of the funeral, save in
exceptional cases. It is said that one was delivered at the funeral of
President Chauncey in 1671. Cotton Mather preached one at the funeral of
Fitz-John Winthrop in 1707, and another at the funeral of Waitstill
Winthrop in 1717. Gradually there crept in the custom of having suitable
prayers at the house before the burial procession formed, the first
instance being probably at the funeral of Pastor Adams, of Roxbury, in
1683. Sometimes a short address was given at the grave, as when Jonathan
Alden was buried at Duxbury, in 1697. The _Boston News Letter_ of
December 31, 1730, notes a prayer at a funeral, and says: "Tho' a custom
in the Country-Towns 'tis a Singular instance in this Place, but it's
wish'd may prove a Leading Example to the General Practice of so
Christian and Decent a Custom." Whitefield wrote disparagingly of the
custom of not speaking at the grave.

We see Judge Sewall mastering his grief at his mother's burial, delaying
for a few moments the filling of the grave, and speaking some very
proper words of eulogy "with passion and tears." He jealously notes,
however, when the Episcopal burial service is given in Boston, saying:
"The Office for the dead is a Lying bad office, makes no difference
between the precious and the Vile."

There were, as a rule, two sets of bearers appointed; under-bearers,
usually young men, who carried the coffin on a bier; and pall-bearers,
men of age, dignity, or consanguinity, who held the corners of the pall
which was spread over the coffin and hung down over the heads and bodies
of the under-bearers. As the coffin was sometimes carried for a long
distance, there were frequently appointed a double set of under-bearers,
to share the burden. I have been told that mort-stones were set by the
wayside in some towns, upon which the bearers could rest the heavy
coffin for a short time on their way to the burial-place; but I find no
record or proof of this statement. The pall, or bier-cloth, or
mort-cloth, as it was called, was usually bought and owned by the town,
and was of heavy purple, or black broadcloth, or velvet. It often was
kept with the bier in the porch of the meeting-house; but in some
communities the bier, a simple shelf or table of wood on four legs about
a foot and a half long, was placed over the freshly filled-in grave and
left sombrely waiting till it was needed to carry another coffin to the
burial-place. In many towns there were no gravediggers; sympathizing
friends made the simple coffin and dug the grave.

In Londonderry, N. H., and neighboring towns that had been settled by
Scotch-Irish planters, the announcement of a death was a signal for
cessation of daily work throughout the neighborhood. Kindly assistance
was at once given at the house of mourning. Women flocked to do the
household work and to prepare the funeral feast. Men brought gifts of
food, or household necessities, and rendered all the advice and help
that was needed. A gathering was held the night before the funeral,
which in feasting and drinking partook somewhat of the nature of an
Irish wake. Much New England rum was consumed at this gathering, and
also before the procession to the grave, and after the interment the
whole party returned to the house for an "arval," and drank again. The
funeral rum-bill was often an embarrassing and hampering expense to a
bereaved family for years.

This liberal serving of intoxicating liquor at a funeral was not
peculiar to these New Hampshire towns, nor to the Scotch-Irish, but
prevailed in every settlement in the colonies until the
temperance-awakening days of this century. Throughout New England bills
for funeral baked meats were large in items of rum, cider, whiskey,
lemons, sugar, spices.

To show how universally liquor was served to all who had to do with a
funeral, let me give the bill for the mortuary expenses of David
Porter, of Hartford, who was drowned in 1678.

    "By a pint of liquor for those who dived for him.      1_s._
    By a quart of liquor for those who bro't him home.     2_s._
    By two quarts of wine & 1 gallon of cyder to jury
      of inquest.                                          5_s._
    By 8 gallons & 3 qts. wine for funeral.            £1 15_s._
    By Barrel cyder for funeral.                          16_s._
    1 Coffin.                                             12_s._
    Windeing sheet.                                       18_s._"

Even town paupers had two or three gallons of rum or a barrel of cider
given by the town to serve as speeding libations at their unmourned
funerals. The liquor at the funeral of a minister was usually paid for
by the church or town--often interchangeable terms for the same body.
The parish frequently gave, also, as in the case of the death of Rev.
Job Strong, of Portsmouth, in 1751, "the widow of our deceased pasture a
full suit of mourning."

A careful, and above all an experienced committee was appointed to
superintend the mixing of the funeral grog or punch, and to attend to
the liberal and frequent dispensing thereof.

Hawthorne was so impressed with the enjoyable reunion New Englanders
found in funerals that he wrote of them:

     "They were the only class of scenes, so far as my investigation has
     taught me, in which our ancestors were wont to steep their tough
     old hearts in wine and strong drink and indulge in an outbreak of
     grisly jollity. Look back through all the social customs of New
     England in the first century of her existence and read all her
     traits of character, and find one occasion other than a funeral
     feast where jollity was sanctioned by universal practice.... Well,
     old friends! Pass on with your burden of mortality and lay it in
     the tomb with jolly hearts. People should be permitted to enjoy
     themselves in their own fashion; every man to his taste--but New
     England must have been a dismal abode for the man of pleasure when
     the only boon-companion was Death."

This picture has been given by Sargent of country funerals in the days
of his youth:

     "When I was a boy, and was at an academy in the country, everybody
     went to everybody's funeral in the village. The population was
     small, funerals rare; the preceptor's absence would have excited
     remark, and the boys were dismissed for the funeral. A table with
     liquors was always provided. Every one, as he entered, took off his
     hat with his left hand, smoothed down his hair with his right,
     walked up to the coffin, gazed upon the corpse, made a crooked
     face, passed on to the table, took a glass of his favorite liquor,
     went forth upon the plat before the house and talked politics, or
     of the new road, or compared crops, or swapped heifers or horses
     until it was time to _lift_. A clergyman told me that when settled
     at Concord, N. H., he officiated at the funeral of a little boy. The
     body was borne in a chaise, and six little nominal pall-bearers,
     the oldest not thirteen, walked by the side of the vehicle. Before
     they left the house a sort of master of ceremonies took them to the
     table and mixed a tumbler of gin, water, and sugar for each."

It was a hard struggle against established customs and ideas of
hospitality, and even of health, when the use of liquor at funerals was
abolished. Old people sadly deplored the present and regretted the past.
One worthy old gentleman said, with much bitterness: "Temperance has
done for funerals."

As soon as the larger cities began to accrue wealth, the parentations of
men and women of high station were celebrated with much pomp and
dignity, if not with religious exercises. Volleys were fired over the
freshly made grave--even of a woman. A barrel and a half of powder was
consumed to do proper honor to Winthrop, the chief founder of
Massachusetts. At the funeral of Deputy-Governor Francis Willoughby
eleven companies of militia were in attendance, and "with the doleful
noise of trumpets and drums, in their mourning posture, three thundering
volleys of shot were discharged, answered with the loud roarings of
great guns rending the heavens with noise at the loss of so great a
man." When Governor Leverett died, in 1679, the bearers carried banners.
The principal men of the town bore the armor of the deceased, from
helmet to spur, and the Governor's horse was led with banners. The
funeral-recording Sewall has left us many a picture of the pomp of
burial. Colonel Samuel Shrimpton was buried "with Arms" in 1697, "Ten
Companies, No Herse nor Trumpet but a horse Led. Mourning Coach also &
Horses in Mourning, Scutcheons on their sides and Deaths Heads on their
foreheads." Fancy those coach-horses with gloomy death's-heads on their
foreheads. At the funeral of Lady Andros, which was held in church, six
"mourning women" sat in front of the draped pulpit, and the hearse was
drawn by six horses. This English fashion of paid mourners was not
common among sincere New Englanders; Lady Andros was a Church of England
woman, not a Puritan. The cloth from the pulpit was usually given, after
the burial, to the minister. In 1736 the _Boston News Letter_ tells of
the pulpit and the pew of the deceased being richly draped and adorned
with escutcheons at a funeral. Thus were New England men, to quote Sir
Thomas Browne, "splendid in ashes, and pompous in the grave."

Many local customs prevailed. In Hartford and neighboring towns all
ornaments, mirrors, and pictures were muffled with napkins and cloths at
the time of the funerals, and sometimes the window-shutters were kept
closed in the front of the house and tied together with black for a
year, as was the fashion in Philadelphia.

Hawthorne tells us that at the death of Sir William Pepperell the entire
house was hung with black, and all the family portraits were covered
with black crape.

The order of procession to the grave was a matter of much etiquette.
High respect and equally deep slights might be rendered to mourners in
the place assigned. Usually some magistrate or person of dignity walked
with the widow. Judge Sewall often speaks of "leading the widow in a
mourning cloak."

One great expense of a funeral was the gloves. In some communities
these were sent as an approved and elegant form of invitation to
relatives and friends and dignitaries, whose presence was desired.
Occasionally, a printed "invitation to follow the corps" was also sent.
One for the funeral of Sir William Phipps is still in existence--a
fantastically gloomy document. In the case of a funeral of any person
prominent in State, Church, or society, vast numbers of gloves were
disbursed; "none of 'em of any figure but what had gloves sent to 'em."
At the funeral of the wife of Governor Belcher, in 1736, over one
thousand pairs of gloves were given away; at the funeral of Andrew
Faneuil three thousand pairs; the number frequently ran up to several
hundred. Different qualities of gloves were presented at the same
funeral to persons of different social circles, or of varied degrees of
consanguinity or acquaintance. Frequently the orders for these _vales_
were given in wills. As early as 1633 Samuel Fuller, of Plymouth,
directed in his will that his sister was to have gloves worth twelve
shillings; Governor Winthrop and his children each "a paire of gloves of
five shilling;" while plebeian Rebecca Prime had to be contented with a
cheap pair worth two shillings and sixpence. The under-bearers who
carried the coffin were usually given different and cheaper gloves from
the pall-bearers. We find seven pairs of gloves given at a pauper's
funeral, and not under the head of "Extrodny Chearges" either.

Of course the minister was always given gloves. They were showered on
him at weddings, christenings, funerals. Andrew Eliot, of the North
Church, in Boston, kept a record of the gloves and rings which he
received; and, incredible as it may seem, in thirty-two years he was
given two thousand nine hundred and forty pairs of gloves. Though he had
eleven children, he and his family could scarcely wear them all, so he
sold them through kindly Boston milliners, and kept a careful account of
the transaction, of the lamb's-wool gloves, the kid gloves, the long
gloves--which were probably Madam Eliot's. He received between six and
seven hundred dollars for the gloves, and a goodly sum also for funeral

Various kinds of gloves are specified as suitable for mourning; for
instance, in the _Boston Independent Advertiser_ in 1749, "Black Shammy
Gloves and White Glazed Lambs Wool Gloves suitable for Funerals." White
gloves were as often given as black, and purple gloves also. Good
specimens of old mourning gloves have been preserved in the cabinets of
the Worcester Society of Antiquity.

At the funeral of Thomas Thornhill "17 pair of White Gloves at £1 15_s._
6_d._, 31-1/2 yard Corle for Scarfs £3 10_s._ 10-1/2_d._, and Black and
White Ribbin" were paid for. In 1737 Sir William Pepperell sent to
England for "4 pieces Hat mourning and 2 pieces of Cyprus or Hood
mourning." This hat mourning took the form of long weepers, which were
worn on the hat at the funeral, and as a token of respect afterward by
persons who were not relatives of the deceased. Judge Sewall was always
punctilious in thus honoring the dead in his community. On May 2, 1709,
he writes thus:

     "Being artillery day and Mr. Higginson dead I put on my mourning
     Rapier and put a mourning ribbon in my little Cane."

Rings were given at funerals, especially in wealthy families, to near
relatives and persons of note in the community. Sewall records in his
diary, in the years from 1687 to 1725, the receiving of no less than
fifty-seven mourning rings. We can well believe the story told of Doctor
Samuel Buxton, of Salem, who died in 1758, aged eighty-one years, that
he left to his heirs a quart tankard full of mourning rings which he had
received at funerals; and that Rev. Andrew Eliot had a mugful. At one
Boston funeral, in 1738, over two hundred rings were given away. At
Waitstill Winthrop's funeral sixty rings, worth over a pound apiece,
were given to friends. The entire expense of the latter-named
funeral--scutcheons, hatchments, scarves, gloves, rings, bell-tolling,
tailor's bills, etc., was over six hundred pounds. This amounted to
one-fifth of the entire estate of the deceased gentleman.

These mourning rings were of gold, usually enamelled in black, or black
and white. They were frequently decorated with a death's-head, or with a
coffin with a full-length skeleton lying in it, or with a winged skull.
Sometimes they held a framed lock of hair of the deceased friend.
Sometimes the ring was shaped like a serpent with his tail in his
mouth. Many bore a posy. In the _Boston News Letter_ of October 30,
1742, was advertised: "Mourning Ring lost with the Posy Virtue & Love is
From Above." Here is another advertisement from the _Boston Evening

    "Escaped unluckily from me
     A Large Gold Ring, a Little Key;
     The Ring had Death engraved upon it;
     The Owners Name inscribed within it;
     Who finds and brings the same to me
     Shall generously rewarded be."

A favorite motto for these rings was: "Death parts United Hearts."
Another was the legend: "Death conquers all;" another, "Prepare for
Death;" still another, "Prepared be To follow me." Other funeral rings
bore a family crest in black enamel.

Goldsmiths kept these mourning rings constantly on hand. "Deaths Heads
Rings" and "Burying Rings" appear in many newspaper advertisements. When
bought for use the name or initials of the dead person, and the date of
his death, were engraved upon the ring. This was called fashioning. It
is also evident from existing letters and bills that orders were sent by
bereaved ones to friends residing at a distance to purchase and wear
mourning rings in memory of the dead, and send the bills to the heirs or
the principals of the mourning family. Thus, after the death of Andrew,
son of Sir William Pepperell, Mr. Kilby, of London, wrote to the father
that he accepted "that melancholy token of y'r regard to Mrs. K. and
myself at the expense of four guineas in the whole. But, as is not
unusual here on such occasions, Mrs. K. has, at her own expense, added
some sparks of diamonds to some other mournful ornaments to the ring,
which she intends to wear."

It is very evident that old New Englanders looked with much eagerness to
receiving a funeral ring at the death of a friend, and in old diaries,
almanacs, and note-books such entries as this are often seen: "Made a
ring at the funeral," "A death's-head ring made at the funeral of so and
so;" or, as Judge Sewall wrote, "Lost a ring" by not attending the
funeral. The will of Abigail Ropes, in 1775, gives to her grandson "a
gold ring I made at his father's death;" and again, "a gold ring made
when my bro. died."

As with gloves, rings of different values were given to relatives of
different degrees of consanguinity, and to friends of different stations
in life; much tact had to be shown, else much offence might be taken.

I do not know how long the custom of giving mourning rings obtained in
New England. Some are in existence dated 1812, but were given at the
funeral of aged persons who may have left orders to their descendants to
cling to the fashion of their youth.

A very good collection of mourning rings may be seen at the rooms of the
Essex Institute in Salem, and that society has also published a pamphlet
giving a list of such rings known to be in existence in Salem.

As years passed on a strong feeling sprang up against these gifts and
against the excessive wearing of mourning garments because burdensome in
expense. Judge Sewall notes, in 1721, the first public funeral "without
scarfs." In 1741 it was ordered by Massachusetts Provincial Enactment
that "no Scarves, Gloves (except six pair to the bearers and one pair to
each minister of the church or congregation where any deceased person
belongs), Wine, Rum, or rings be allowed to be given at any funeral upon
the penalty of fifty pounds." The _Connecticut Courant_ of October 24,
1764, has a letter from a Boston correspondent which says, "It is now
out of fashion to put on mourning for nearest relatives, which will make
a saving to this town of £20,000 per annum." It also states that a
funeral had been held at Charlestown at which no mourning had been worn.
At that of Ellis Callender in the same year, the chief mourner wore in
black only bonnet, gloves, ribbons, and handkerchief. Letters are in
existence from Boston merchants to English agents rebuking the latter
for sending mourning goods, such as crapes, "which are not worn." A
newly born and fast-growing spirit of patriotic revolt gave added force
to the reform. Boston voted, in October, 1767, "not to use any mourning
gloves but what are manufactured here," and other towns passed similar
resolutions. It was also suggested that American mourning gloves be
stamped with a patriotic emblem. In 1788 a fine of twenty shillings was
imposed on any person who gave scarfs, gloves, rings, wine, or rum at a
funeral; who bought any new mourning apparel to wear at or after a
funeral, save a crape arm-band if a masculine mourner, or black bonnet,
fan, gloves, and ribbons if a woman. This law could never have been
rigidly enforced, for much gloomy and ostentatious pomp obtained in the
larger towns even to our own day. "From the tombs a mournful sound"
seemed to be fairly a popular sound, and the long funeral processions,
always taking care to pass the Town House, churches, and other public
buildings, obstructed travel, and men were appointed in each town by the
selectmen to see that "free passage in the streets be kept open."
Funerals were forbidden to be held on the Lord's Day, because it
profaned the sacred day, through the vast concourse of children and
servants that followed the coffin through the streets.

Some attempt was made to regulate funeral expenses. In Salem a tolling
of the bell could cost but eightpence, and "the sextons are desired to
toll the bells but four strokes in a minute." The undertakers could
charge but eight shillings for borrowing chairs, waiting on the
pall-holders, and notifying relatives to attend.

The early graves were frequently clustered, were even crowded in
irregular groups in the churchyard; and in larger towns, the
dead--especially persons of dignity--were buried, as in England, under
the church. Sargent, in his "Dealings with the Dead," speaks at length
of the latter custom, which prevailed to an inordinate extent in Boston.
In smaller settlements some out-of-the-way spot was chosen for a common
burial-place, in barren pasture or on lonely hillside, thus forcibly
proving the well-known lines of Whittier,

    "Our vales are sweet with fern and rose,
       Our hills are maple crowned,
     But not from them our fathers chose
       The village burial ground.

    "The dreariest spot in all the land
       To Death they set apart;
     With scanty grace from Nature's hand
       And none from that of Art."

To the natural loneliness of the country burial-place and to its
inevitable sadness, is now too frequently added the gloomy and
depressing evidence of human neglect. Briers and weeds grow in tangled
thickets over the forgotten graves; birch-trees and barberry bushes
spring up unchecked. In one a thriving grove of lilac bushes spreads its
dusty shade from wall to wall. Winter-killed shrubs of flowering almond
or snowballs, planted in tender memory, stand now withered and unheeded,
and the few straggling garden flowers--crimson phlox or single
hollyhocks--that still live only painfully accent the loneliness by
showing that this now forgotten spot was once loved, visited, and cared

In many cases the worn gravestone lies forlornly face downward;

    "The slab has sunk; the head declined,
     And left the rails a wreck behind.
     No names; you trace a '6'--a '7,'
     Part of 'affliction' and of 'Heaven.'
     And then in letters sharp and clear,
     You read.--O Irony austere!--
     'Tho' lost to Sight, to Memory dear.'"

"Truly our fathers find their graves in our short memories, and sadly
show us how we may be buried in our survivors.'" Still, this neglect and
oblivion is just as satisfactory as was the officious "deed without a
name" done in orderly Boston, where, in the first half of this century,
a precise Superintendent of Graveyards and his army of assistants--what
Charles Lamb called "sapient trouble-tombs"--straightened out
mathematically all the old burial-places, levelled the earth, and set in
trim military rows the old slate headstones, regardless of the irregular
clusters of graves and their occupants.

And there in Boston the falsifying old headstones still stand, fixed in
new places, but marking no coffins or honored bones beneath; the only
true words of their inscriptions being the opening ones "Here lies," and
the motto that they repeat derisively to each other--"As you are now so
once was I."

In many communities each family had its own burying-place in some corner
of the home farm, sometimes at the foot of garden or orchard. Such is
noticeably the case throughout Narragansett; almost every farm has a
grave-yard, now generally unused and deserted. Sometimes the
burying-place is enclosed by a high mossy stone wall, often it is
overgrown with dense sombre firs or hemlocks, or half shaded with airy
locust-trees. Beautifully ideal and touching is the thought of these
old Narragansett planters resting with their wives and children in the
ground they so dearly loved and so faithfully worked for.

A vast similarity of design existed in the early gravestones.
Originality of inscription, carving, size, or material was evidently
frowned upon as frivolous, undignified, and eccentric--even
disrespectful. A few of the early settlers used freestone or sienite, or
a native porphyritic green stone called beech-bowlder. Sandstone was
rarely employed, for though easily carved, it as easily yielded to New
England frosts and storms. A hard, dark, flinty slate-stone from North
Wales was commonly used, a stone so hard and so enduring that when our
modern granite and marble monuments are crumbled in the dust I believe
these old slate headstones still will speak their warning words of many

    "As I am now so you shall be,
     Prepare for Death & follow me."

These stones were imported from England ready carved. A high duty was
placed on them, and a Boston sea captain endeavored and was caught in
the attempt to bring into port, free of duty, for one of his friends,
one of these carved slate gravestones, by entering it as a
winding-sheet. It is one of the curiosities of New England commercial
enterprises, that for many years gravestones should have been imported
to New England, a land that fairly bristles with stone and rock
thrusting itself through the earth and waiting to be carved.

The Welsh stones were made of a universal pattern--a carved top with a
space enclosing a miserable death's or winged cherub's head as a
heading, a border of scrolls down either side of the inscription, and
rarely a design at the base. Weeping willows and urns did not appear in
the carving at the top until the middle of the eighteenth century, and
fought hard with the grinning cherub's head until this century, when
both were supplanted by a variety of designs--a clock-face, hour-glass,
etc. Capital letters were used wholly in the inscriptions until
Revolutionary times, and even after were mixed with Roman text with so
little regard for any printer's law that, at a little distance, many a
New England tombstone of the latter part of the past century seems to be
carven in hieroglyphics.

Special families in New England seem to have appropriated special verses
as epitaphs, evidently because of the rhyme with the surname. Thus the
Jones family were properly proud of this family rhyme:

    "Beneath this Ston's
     Int'r'd the Bon's
     Ah Frail Remains
     Of Lieut Noah Jones"--

or Mary Jones or William Jones, as the case might be.

The Noyes family delighted in these lines:

    "You children of the name of Noyes
     Make Jesus Christ yo'r only choyse."

The Tutes and Shutes and Roots began their epitaphs thus:

    "Here lies cut down like unripe fruit
     The wife of Deacon Amos Shute."

Gershom Root was "cut down like unripe fruit" at the fully mellowed age
of seventy-three.

A curiously incomprehensible epitaph is this, which always strikes me
afresh, upon each perusal, as a sort of mortuary conundrum:

        "O! Happy Probationer!
    Accepted without being Exercised."

Sometimes an old epitaph will be found of such impressive though simple
language that it clings long in the memory. Such is this verse of gentle
quaintness over the grave of a tender Puritan blossom, the child of an
early settler:

    "Submit Submitted to her heavenly Kinge
     Being a flower of that Aeternal Spring
     Neare 3 years old shee dyed in Heaven to waite
     The Yeare was sixteen hundred 48."

Another of unusual beauty and sentiment is this:

    "I came in the morning--it was Spring
                           And I smiled.
     I walked out at noon--it was Summer
                           And I was glad.
     I sat me down at even--it was Autumn
                           And I was sad.
     I laid me down at night--it was Winter
                            And I slept."

Collections of curious old epitaphs have been made and printed, but seem
dull and colorless on the printed page, and the warning words seem to
lose their power unless seen in the sad graveyard, where, "silently
expressing old mortality," the hackneyed rhymes and tender words are
touching from their very simplicity and the loneliness which surrounds
them, and for their calm repetition, on stone after stone, of an undying
faith in a future life.

One cannot help being impressed, when studying the almanacs, diaries,
and letters of the time, with the strange exaltation of spirit with
which the New England Puritan regarded death. To him thoughts of
mortality were indeed cordial to the soul. Death was the event, the
condition, which brought him near to God and that unknown world, that
"life elysian" of which he constantly spoke, dreamed and thought; and he
rejoiced mightily in that close approach, in that sense of touch with
the spiritual world. With unaffected cheerfulness he yielded himself to
his own fate, with unforced resignation he bore the loss of dearly loved
ones, and with eagerness and almost affection he regarded all the gloomy
attributes and surroundings of death. Sewall could find in a visit to
his family tomb, and in the heart-rending sight of the coffins therein,
an "awfull yet pleasing Treat;" while Mr. Joseph Eliot said "that the
two days wherein he buried his wife and son were the best he ever had in
the world." The accounts of the wondrous and almost inspired calm which
settled on those afflicted hearts, bearing steadfastly the Christian
belief as taught by the Puritan church, make us long for the simplicity
of faith, and the certainty of heaven and happy reunion with loved ones
which they felt so triumphantly, so gloriously.

               |            Transcriber's Note           |
               |Spelling, punctuation and inconcistencies|
               |in the original book have been retained. |
               |The oe ligature has been shown as [oe].  |

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