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- Anne Bradstreet and Her Time - 20/59 -


surface, worked in evil ways for more than one of the generations that followed. Freedom had ended for any who differed from the faith as laid down by the Cambridge Synod, and but one result could follow. All the more liberal spirits saw that Massachusetts could henceforth be no home for them, and made haste to other points. Coddington led a colony to Rhode Island, made up chiefly of the fifty-eight who had been disarmed, and in process of time became a Quaker. This was the natural ending for many, the heart of Anne Hutchinson's doctrine being really a belief in the "Inward Light," a doctrine which seems to have outraged every Puritan susceptibility for fully a hundred years, and until the reaction began, which has made individual judgment the only creed common to the people of New England. It was reasonable enough, however, that Massachusetts should dread a colony of such uneasy spirits, planted at her very doors, enfranchised and heretical to an appalling degree and considered quite as dangerous as so many malefactors, and an uneasy and constant watch was kept.

The Hutchinsons had sold their property in Boston and joined Coddington at Pocasset, of which Mr. Hutchinson soon became the chief magistrate. His wife, as before, was the master spirit. She even addressed an admonition to the church in Boston, turning the tables temporarily upon her enemies, though the end of her power was at hand. In 1642, her husband died, and various circumstances had before this made her influence feared and disliked. Freedom in any English settlement had ceased to be possible, and as Massachusetts grew more powerful, she resigned any hope of holding the place won by so many sacrifices and emigrated to the Dutch settlement, forming a small colony of sixteen persons at Pelham in Westchester County, New York, where a little river still bears her name.

One son had remained in Boston, and was the ancestor of the Tory Governor of Massachusetts during the Revolution, and a daughter also married and settled there, so that her blood is still found in the veins of more than one New England family, some of whose ancestors were most directly concerned in casting her out. But her younger children and a son-in-law were still with her, with a few of her most devoted followers, and she still anticipated peace and a quiet future. Both came at last, but not in the looked-for guise. No date remains of the fate of the little colony and only the Indian custom of preserving the names of those they killed, has made us know that Wampago himself, the owner of the land about Pelham, was the murderer of the woman, whose troubled but not unhappy life went out in the fire and blood of an Indian massacre.

To the Puritans in Boston, such fate seemed justice, and they rejoiced with a grim exultation. "The Lord," said Welde, "heard our groans to heaven, and freed us from our great and sore affliction." No tale was too gross and shameless to find acceptance, and popular feeling against her settled into such fixed enmity that even her descendant, the historian Hutchinson, dared not write anything that would seem to favor her cause. Yet, necessary as her persecution and banishment may have been to the safety of the Colony, the faith for which she gave her life has been stronger than her enemies. Mistaken as she often was, a truer Christianity dwelt with her than with them, and the toleration denied her has shown itself as the heart of all present life or future progress.

CHAPTER VII.

COLONIAL LITERARY DEVELOPMENT IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.

It was before the final charge from Ipswich to Andover, that the chief part of Anne Bradstreet's literary work was done, the ten years after her arrival in New England being the only fruitful ones. As daughter and wife of two of the chief magistrates, she heard the constant discussion of questions of policy as well as questions of faith, both strongly agitated by the stormy years of Anne Hutchinson's stay in Boston, and it is very probable that she sought refuge from the anxiety of the troubled days, in poetical composition, and in poring over Ancient History found consolation in the fact that old times were by no means better than the new. The literary life of New England had already begun, and it is worth while to follow the lines of its growth and development, through the colonial days, if only to understand better the curious limitations for any one who sought to give tangible form to thought, whether in prose or poetry. For North and South, the story was the same.

The points of divergence in the northern and southern colonies have been so emphasized, and the impression has become so fixed, that the divisions of country had as little in common as came later to be the fact, that any statement as to their essential agreement, is distrusted or denied. Yet even to-day, in a region where many causes have made against purity of blood, the traveller in the South is often startled, in some remote town of the Carolinas or of Virginia, at the sight of what can only be characterized as a Southern Yankee. At one's very side in the little church may sit a man who, if met in Boston, would be taken for a Brahmin of the Brahmins. His face is as distinctively a New England one as was Emerson's. High but narrow forehead, prominent nose, thin lips, and cheek bones a trifle high; clear, cold blue eyes and a slender upright figure Every line shows repressed force, the possibility of passionate energy, of fierce enmity and ruthless judgment on anything outside of personal experience. Culture is equally evident, but culture refusing to believe in anything modern, and resting its claims on little beyond the time of Queen Anne. It is the Puritan alive again, and why not? Descended directly from some stray member of the Cromwellian party who fled at the Restoration, he chose Virginia rather than New England, allured by the milder climate. But he is of the same class, the same prejudices and limitations as the New England Puritan, the sole difference being that he has stood still while the other passed on unrestingly. But in 1635, it was merely a difference of location, never of mental habit, that divided them. For both alike, the description given by one of our most brilliant writers, applied the English people of the seventeenth century being summed up in words quite as applicable to-day as then: "At that time, though they were apparently divided into many classes, they were really divided into only two---first, the disciples of things as they are; second, the disciples of things as they ought to be."

It was chiefly "the disciples of things as they ought to be" that passed over from Old England to the New, and as such faith means usually supreme discomfort for its holder, and quite as much for the opposer, there was a constant and lively ebullition of forces on either side. Every Puritan who came over waged a triple war-- first, with himself as a creature of malignant and desperate tendencies, likely at any moment to commit some act born of hell; second, with the devil, at times regarded as practically synonymous with one's own nature, at others as a tangible and audacious adversary; and last and always, with all who differed from his own standard of right and wrong---chiefly wrong. The motto of that time was less "Dare to do right," than "Do not dare to do wrong." All mental and spiritual furnishings were shaken out of the windows daily, by way of dislodging any chance seeds of vice sown by the great adversary. One would have thought the conflict with natural forces quite enough to absorb all superfluous energy, every fact of climate, soil and natural features being against them, but neither scanty harvests, nor Indian wars, nor devastating disease, had the power to long suppress this perpetual and unflinching self-discipline.

Unlike any other colony of the New World, the sole purpose and motive of action was an ideal one. The Dutch sought peltries and trade in general, and whereever they established themselves, at once gave tokens of material comfort and prosperity. The more Southern Colonies were this basis, adding to it the freedom of life--the large hospitality possible where miles of land formed the plantation, and service meant no direct outlay or expense. Here and there a Southern Puritan was found, as his type may be found to-day, resisting the charm of physical ease and comfort, and constituting himself a missionary to the Indians of South Carolina, or to settlements remote from all gospel privileges, but for the most part the habits of an English squire-ruled country prevailed, and were enlarged upon; each man in the centre of his great property being practically king. Dispersion of forces was the order, and thus many necessities of civilization were dispensed with. The man who had a river at his door had no occasion to worry over the making or improvement of roads, a boat carrying his supplies, and bridle-paths sufficing his horse and himself. With no need for strenuous conflict with nature or man, the power of resistance died naturally. Sharp lines softened; muscles weakened, and before many generations the type had so altered that the people who had left England as one, were two, once for all.

The law of dispersion, practical and agreeable to the Southern landholder, would have been destruction to his New England brethren. For the latter, concentration was the only safety. They massed together in close communities, and necessarily were forced to plan for the general rather than for the individual good. In such close quarters, where every angle made itself felt, and constant contact developed and implied criticism, law must work far more minutely than in less exacting communities. Every tendency to introspection and self-judging was strengthened to the utmost, and merciless condemnation for one's self came to mean a still sharper one for others. With every power of brain and soul they fought against what, to them, seemed the one evil for that or any time--toleration. Each man had his own thought, and was able to put it into strong words. No colony has ever known so large a proportion of learned men, there being more graduates of Cambridge and Oxford between the years 1630 and 1690 than it was possible to find in a population of the same size in the mother country. "In its inception, New England was not an agricultural community, nor a manufacturing community, nor a trading community; it was a thinking community---an arena and mart for ideas--its characteristic organ being not the hand, nor the heart, nor the pocket, but the brain."

The material for learning, we have seen, was of the scantiest, not only for Winthrop's Colony but for those that preceded it.

The three little ships that, on a misty afternoon in December, 1606, dropped down the Thames with sails set for an unknown country, carried any freight but that of books. Book-makers were there in less proportion than on board the solitary vessel that, in 1620, took a more northerly course, and cast anchor at last off the bleak and sullen shore of Massachusetts; but for both alike the stress of those early years left small energy or time for any composition beyond the reports that, at stated intervals, went back to the mother country. The work of the pioneer is for muscles first, brain having small opportunity, save as director; and it


Anne Bradstreet and Her Time - 20/59

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