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FREE SCHOOLS. HARVARD COLLEGE.
tence; the vote was put a second time, and there CHAP. appeared a majority for the doom of death.
66 What do you gain,” cried Christison,“ by taking quakers' lives ? For the last man that ye put to death, here are five come in his room. If
ye have power to take my life, God can raise up ten of his servants in
The voice of the people had always been averse to bloodshed; the magistrates, infatuated for a season, became convinced of their error ; Wenlock, with twenty-seven of his friends, was discharged from prison; and the doctrine of toleration, with the pledges of peace, hovered like the dove at the window of the ark, waiting to be received into its rightful refuge.
The victims of intolerance met death bravely ; they would be entitled to perpetual honor as martyrs, were it not that their own extravagances occasioned the foul enactment, to repeal which they laid down their lives. Far from introducing religious charity, their conduct irritated the government to pass the laws, of which they were the victims. But for them the country had been guiltless of blood ; and causes
; were already in action, which were fast substituting the firmness and the charity of intelligence for the se- 1642. verity of religious bigotry. It was ever the custom, and it soon became the law in puritan New-England, that " none of the brethren shall suffer so much barbarism in their families, as not to teach their children and apprentices so much learning, as may enable them perfectly to read the English tongue.
CHAP. “ To the end that learning may not be buried in the
graves of our forefathers," it was ordered, “ that every township, after the Lord hath increased them to the number of fifty householders, shall appoint one to teach all children to write and read; and where any town shall increase to the number of one hundred families, they shall set up a grammar school; the masters thereof being able to instruct youth so far as they may be fitted for the university." The press began its work in 1639.
“When New-England was poor, and they were but few in number, 1636. there was a spirit to encourage learning.” Six
years after the arrival of Winthrop, the general court voted a sum, equal to a year's rate of the whole colony, towards the erection of a college. In 1638, John Harvard, who arrived in the Bay, only to fall a victim to the most wasting disease of the climate, desiring to connect himself imperishably with the happiness of his adopted country, bequeathed to the college one half of his estate and all his library. The infant institution was a favorite; Connecticut, and Plymouth, and the towns in the East, often contributed little offerings to pro
mote its success; the gift of the rent of a ferry was 1645. a proof of the care of the state ; and once at least
every family in each of the colonies gave to the college at Cambridge twelve pence, or a peck of corn, or its value in genuine, unadulterated wampumpeag ;3 while the magistrates and wealthier men
1 Col. Laws, 74, 186.
3 Pierce's History of H. C. 2 Folsom's Saco and Biddeford, Winthrop, v. ii. p. 214, 216. Ev
erett's Yale Address, p. 3.
CHARACTER OF PURITANISM.
were profuse in their liberality. The college, in CHAP. return, exerted a powerful influence in forming the early character of the country. In this, at least, it can never have a rival. In these measures, especially in the laws establishing common schools, lies the secret of the success and character of New-England. Every child, as it was born into the world, was lifted from the earth by the genius of the country, and, in the statutes of the land, received, as its birthright, a pledge of care for its morals and its mind.
There are some who love to enumerate the singularities of the early puritans. They were opposed to wigs; they could preach against veils; they denounced long hair ; they disliked the cross in the banner, as much as the people of Paris disliked the lilies of the Bourbons; and for analogous reasons. They would not allow Christmas day to be kept sacred; they called neither months, nor days, nor seasons, nor churches, nor inns, by the names common in England. The
The grave Romans legislated on the costume of men, and their senate could even stoop to interfere with the triumphs of those, to whom civic honors are denied; the fathers of NewEngland prohibited frivolous fashions in their own dress; and their austerity, checking extravagance even in woman, frowned on her hoods of silk and her scarfs of tiffany, extended the length of her sleeve to the wrist, and limited its greatest width to half an ell. The puritans were formal and precise in their manners; singular in the forms of their legislation ; rigid in the observance of their principles.
CHAP. The courts of Massachusetts respected in practice
the code of Moses; the island of Rhode Island enacted for a year or two a Jewish masquerade ; in New Haven the constituent committee were called the seven pillars, hewn out for the house of wisdom. But these are only the outward forms, which gave to the new sect its marked exterior. If from the outside peculiarities, which so easily excite the sneer of the superficial observer, we look to the genius of the sect itself, Puritanism was Religion struggling for the People. “Its absurdities,” says its enemy, “were the shelter for the noble principles of liberty." It was its office to engraft the new institutions of popular energy upon the old European system of a feudal aristocracy and popular servitude ; the good was permanent; the outward emblems which were the signs of the party, were of transient duration; like the clay and ligaments, with which the graft is held in its place, and which are brushed away, as soon as the scion is firmly united.
The principles of puritanism proclaimed the civil magistrate subordinate to the authority of religion ; and its haughtiness, in this respect, has been compared to “ the infatuated arrogance” of a Roman Pontiff. In the firmness with which the principle was asserted, the puritans did not yield to the Catholics; and, if the will of God is the criterion of justice, both were in one sense in the right. The question arises, who shall be the interpreter of that will? In the Roman Catholic church the office was claimed by the infallible Pontiff. Puritanism con
CHARACTER OF PURITANISM.
ceded no such power to its clergy; the church ex- CHAP.
; isted, independent of its pastor ; the will of the ma- a jority was its law; and each one of the brethren possessed equal rights with the elders. Puritanism exalted the laity. Every individual who had experienced the raptures of devotion, every believer, who, in his moments of ecstasy, had felt the assurance of the favor of God, was in his own eyes a consecrated person. For him the wonderful counsels of the Almighty had chosen a Saviour; for him the laws of nature had been suspended and controlled, the heavens had opened, the earth had quaked, the sun had veiled his face, and Christ had died and had risen again; for him prophets and apostles had revealed to the world the oracles and the will of God. Viewing himself as an object of the divine favor, and in this connection denying to himself all merit, he prostrated himself in the dust before heaven; looking out upon mankind, how could he but respect himself, whom God had chosen and redeemed? He cherished hope ; he possessed faith; as he walked the earth, his heart was in the skies. Angels hovert round his path, charged to minister to his soul; spirits of darkness leagued together to tempt him from his allegiance. His burning piety could use no liturgy; his penitence could reveal his transgressions to no confessor. He knew no superior in sanctity. He could as little become the slave of a priestcraft, as of a despot. He was himself a judge of the orthodoxy of the elders; and if he feared the invisible powers of the air, of darkness, and of hell, he feared