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far to prove that the pristine policy of New England had been especially favoured of the Lord. For surely the Lord would choose His elect most eagerly in places where life was conducted most according to His will.

In this mood the “ Magnalia” was written. Its first sentence sounds the key-note of the whole :

“I write the Wonders of the Christian Religion, flying from the Depravations of Europe, to the Anierican Strand: And, assisted by the Holy Author of that Religion, I do, with all Conscience of Truth, required therein by Him, who is the Truth it self, report the Wonderful Displays of His Infinite Power, Wisdom, Goodness, and Faithfulness, wherewith His Divine Providence hath Irradiated an Indian Wilderness."

So it proceeds through its hundreds of pages, dwelling most on those traits of New England which Cotton Mather believed especially to indicate the favour of God. He tells first the story of the colonies, giving little space to what he thinks the evil side of it:

“ Though I cannot approve the conduct of Josephus ; (whom Jerom not unjustly nor inaptly calls the Greek Livy,') when he had left out of his Antiquities, the story of the Golden Calf, and I don't wonder to find Chamier, and Rivet, and others, taxing him for his partiality to wards his country-men; yet I have left unmentioned some censurable occurrences in the story of our Colonies, as things no less unuseful than improper to be raised out of the grave, wherein Oblivion hath now buried them; lest I should have incurred the pasquil bestowed upon Pope Urban, who, employing a committee to rip up the old errors of his predecessors, one clapped a pair of spurs upon the heels of the statue of St. Peter ; and a label from the statue of St. Paul opposite thereunto, upon the bridge, asked him, “Whither he was bound?' St. Peter answered, 'I apprehend some danger in staying here ; I fear they 'll call me in question for denying my Master.' And St. Paul replied, 'Nay then I had best be gone too, for they question me also for persecuting the Christians before



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Cotton Mather's scale of values, then, considerably differs from that of a critical modern historian. In his general narrative, for example, he hardly mentions the Antinomian controversy, and has little to say of such subsequently famous personages as Roger Williams or Mrs. Anne Hutchinson. On the other hand, he details at loving length, first the lives of those governors and magistrates who seemed especial servants of the Lord, from Bradford and Winthrop and Theophilus Eaton to Sir William Phips; and next the lives and spiritual experiences of a great number of the immigrant clergy and of their successors in the pulpit. He recounts the history of Harvard College during its first sixty years; and he lays down with surprising lucidity the orthodox doctrine and discipline of the New England churches. These matters fill five of the seven books into which the “ Magnalia” is divided. The last two books portray the reverse of the picture; one deals with « Remarkable Mercies and Judgments on many particular persons among the people of New England,” and the other with « The Wars of the Lord -- the Afflictive Disturbances which the Churches of New England have suffered from their various adversaries; and the Wonderful Methods and Mercies, whereby the Churches have been delivered.” Full of petty personal anecdote, and frequently revealing not only bigoted prejudice but grotesque superstition, these last two books have been more generally remembered than the rest.

One commonly hears the “Magnalia” mentioned in terms which seem to assert these least admirable parts of it to be the most characteristic of work and writer alike. Characteristic they are, but little more so than the Clown in “Hamlet” is of Shakspere; no one but their author could have written them, yet in the whole body of his work they are a minor feature. For whoever grows familiar with the “ Magnalia ” must feel that it goes far toward accomplishing the purpose which Cotton Mather intended.

The prose epic of New England Puritanism it has been called, setting forth in heroic mood the principles, the history, and the personal characters of the fathers. The principles, theologic and disciplinary alike, are stated with clearness, dignity, and fervour. The history, though its less welcome phases are often lightly emphasised, and its details are hampered by no deep regard for minor accuracy, is set forth with a sincere ardour which makes its temper more instructive than that of many more trustworthy records. And the life-like portraits of the Lord's chosen, though full of quaintly fantastic phrases and artless pedantries, are often drawn with touches of enthusiastic beauty.

A few sentences from his life of the apostle Eliot, whose Indian Bible is remembered as the first complete version of scripture printed in New England, will typify Mather's fantastic vein :

“ I know not what thoughts it will produce in my Reader, when I inform him, that once finding that the Daemons in a possessed young Woman, understood the Latin and Greek and Hebrew Languages, my Curiosity led me to make Trial of this Indian language, and the Daemons did seem as if they did not understand it. This tedious Language our Eliot (the Anagram of whose name was Toile) quickly became a Master of; he employ'd a pregnant and witty Indian, who also spoke English well, for his Assistance in it; and compiling some Discourses by his Help, he would single out a Word, a Noun, a Verb, and pursue it through all its variations: Having finished his Grammar, at the close he writes, Prayers and Pains thro' Faith in Christ Jesus will do any thing! And being by his Prayers and Pains thus furnished, he set himself in the year 1646 to preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, among these Desolate Outcasts.”

The last paragraph of the life of Theophilus Eaton, first Governor of New Haven, will show the dignity of Mather's best narrative :

“ Thus continually he, for about a Score of Years, was the Glory and Pillar of New-Haven Colony. He would often say, Some count it a great matter to Die well, but I am sure 'tis a great matter to Live well. All our Care should be while we have our Life to use it well, and so when Death puts an end unto that, it will put an end unto all our Cares. But having Excellently managed his Care to Live well, God would have him to Die well, without any room or time then given to take any Care at all; for he enjoyed a Death sudden to everyone but himself! Having worshipped God with his Family after his usual manner, and upon some Occasion with much Solemnity charged all the Family to carry it well unto their Mistress who was now confined by Sickness, he Supp'd, and then took a turn or two abroad for his Meditations. After that he came in to bid his Wife Good-night, before he left her with her Watchers; which when he did, she said, Methinks you look sad! Whereto he reply'd, The Differences risen in the Church of Hartford make me so; she then added, Let us e'en go back to our Native Country again; to which he answered, You may, (and so she did) but I shall die here. This was the last Word that ever she heard him speak; for now retiring unto his Lodging in another Chamber, he was overheard about midnight fetching a Groan; and unto one, sent in presently to enquire how he did, he answered the Enquiry with only saying, Very Ill ! And without saying any more, he fell asleep in Jesus: In the Year 1657 loosing Anchor from New-Haven for the better.”

Finally, the last clause of a ponderous sentence from his life of Thomas Shepard, first minister of Cambridge, is far more characteristic of Mather than are many of the oddities commonly thought of when his name is mentioned:

“ As he was a very Studious Person, and a very lively Preacher; and one who therefore took great Pains in his Preparations for his Publick Labours, which Preparations he would usually finish on Saturday, by two a Clock in the Afternoon ; with Respect whereunto he once used these Words, God will curse that Man's Labours, that lumbers up and down in the World all the Week, and then upon Saturday, in the afternoon goes to his Study; whereas God knows, that Time were little enough to pray in and weep in, and get his Heart into a fit Frame for the Duties of the approaching Sabbath ; So the Character of his daily Conversation, was A Trembling Walk with God."

“ A trembling walk with God,” you

shall look far for a nobler phrase than that, or for one which should more truly characterise not only Thomas Shepard, but the better life of all the first century of New England. In old New England there were really more such characters as the Puritans deemed marked for God's elect than are recorded of almost any other society of equal size and duration in human history. For this fact we can account in modern terms which would have been strangely unwelcome to Cotton Mather and the godly personages whose memories he has preserved. In their New England, the pressure of external fact was politically and socially relaxed ; except with the brute forces of nature the struggle for existence was less fierce than in almost any other region now remembered. Individuals could there progress from cradle to grave with less distortion than must always be worked by such social struggles as changed the England of Elizabeth through that of Cromwell into that of William III., and as have steadily altered and developed the course of European history ever since. Relax the pressure which a dense society brings upon human life, and the traits of human nature which will reveal themselves in a simpler world are generally traits which those who love ideals are apt to call better. Such relaxation of pressure blessed pristine New England; the results thereof the “ Magnalia" records.

These it records with an enthusiasm which, in spite of the pedantic queerness of Mather's style, one grows to feel more and more vital. What is more, amid all his vagaries and oddities, one feels too a trait which even our few extracts may perhaps indicate. Again and again, Cotton Mather writes with a rhythmical beauty which recalls the enthusiastic spontaneity of Elizabethan English, so different from the English which came after the Civil Wars. And though the “ Magnalia” hardly reveals the third characteristic of Elizabethan England, no one can read the facts of Cotton Mather's busy, active life without feeling that this man himself, who wrote with enthusiastic spontaneity, and who in his earthly life was minister, politician, man of science, scholar, and constant organiser of innumerable good works, embodied just that kind of restless versatility which characterised Elizabethan England and which even to our own day has remained characteristic of New England Yankees.

For if the lapse of seventy years had not left New England unchanged, it had altered life there far less than men have supposed. The “ Magnalia” was published two years after

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