Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

planned, when in 1681 William Penn sent out some emigrants, guided by no philosopher except Penn himself, who came the following year. A great tract of country was granted to him as a sort of equivalent for a debt owed by the King to his father, Admiral Penn; the annual rental was to be two beaver-skins. Everything seemed to throw around the coming of William Penn the aspect of a lofty enterprise; his ship was named The Welcome ; his new city was to be called “Brotherly Love,” or “Philadelphia.' His harmonious relations with the Indians have been the wonder of later times, though it must be remembered that he had to do with no such fierce tribes as had devastated the other colonies. Peace prevailed with sectarian zealots, and even towards those charged with witchcraft. Yet even Philadelphia did not escape the evil habits of the age, and established the whipping-post, the pillory, and the stocks—the former of which Delaware, long a part of Pennsylvania, still retains. But there is no such scene of contentment in our pioneer history as that which the early annals of “Penn's Woods” (Pennsylvania) record.

Other great changes were meanwhile taking place. New Hampshire and New Jersey came to be recognized as colonies by themselves; the union of the New England colonies was dissolved; Plymouth was merged in Massachusetts, New Haven in Connecticut, Delaware temporarily in Pennsylvania. At the close of the period which I have called the second generation (1700) there were ten distinct English colonies along the coast - New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Carolina.

It is a matter of profound interest to observe that whatever may be the variations among these early settlements, we find everywhere the distinct traces of the old English village communities, which again are traced by Freeman and others to a Swiss or German origin. The founders of the first New England towns did not simply settle themselves upon the principle of “squatter sovereignty,” each for himself; but they founded municipal organizations, based on a common control of the land. So systematically was this carried out that in an old town like Cambridge, Massachusetts, for instance, it would be easy at this day, were all the early tax-lists missing, to determine the comparative worldly condition of the different settlers simply by comparing the proportion which each had to maintain of the great “pallysadoe,” or paling, which surrounded the little settlement. These amounts varied from seventy rods, in case of the richest, to two rods, in case of the poorest; and so well was the work done that the traces of the "fosse" about the paling still remain in the willow-trees on the old playground of the Harvard students. These early settlers reproduced, though with important modifications, those local institutions which had come to them from remote ancestors. The town paling, the town - meeting, the town common, the town pound, the fence-viewers, the field-drivers, the militia muster, even the tipstaves of the constables, are “survivals” of institutions older than the Norman conquest of England. Even the most matterof-fact transactions of their daily life, as the transfer of land by giving a piece of turf, an instance of which occurred at Salem, Massachusetts, in 1696, sometimes carry us back to usages absolutely mediæval

in this case to the transfer “by turf and twig," so familiar to historians, although it is unsafe to press these analogies too far, since the aboriginal tribes sometimes practised the same usage. A material addition of the New England settlers to their traditional institutions—in reality a great addition—was the system of common schools. Beyond New England the analogies with inherited custom are less clear and unmistakable; but it is now maintained that the southern “parish” and “county,” the South Carolina

court-greens ” and “common pastures,” as well as the Maryland “manors” and “courts-leet,” all represent, under different combinations, the same inherited principle of communal sovereignty.

The period which I have assigned to the second generation in America may be considered to have lasted from 1650 to 1700. Even during this period there took place collisions of purpose and interest between the home government and the colonies. The contest for the charters, for instance, and the shortlived power of Sir Edmund Andros, occurred within the time which has here been treated, but they were the forerunners of a later contest, and will be included in another chapter. It will then be necessary to describe the gradual transformation which made colonies into provinces, and out of a varied emigration developed a homogeneous people; which taught the English ministry to distrust the Americans, while it unconsciously weaned the Americans from England; so that the tie which at first had expressed only affection became at last a hated yoke, soon to be thrown aside forever.

IX

THE BRITISH YOKE

[ocr errors]

OW deep and tender was the love with which the

first American colonists looked back to their early home! Many proofs of this might be cited from their writings, but I know of none quite so eloquent as that burst of impassioned feeling in a sermon by William Hooke-cousin and afterwards chaplain of Oliver Cromwell—who came to America about 1636, and preached this discourse at Taunton, July 3, 1640, under the title, “New England's Teares for Old England's Feares."

This whole production is marked by a learning and eloquence that remind us of one who may have been Hooke's fellow-student at Oxford, Jeremy Taylor; indeed, it contains a description of a battle which, if Taylor had written it, would have been quoted in every history of English literature until this day. And in this sermon the clergyman thus speaks of the mother-country:

“There is no Land that claimes our name but England; wee are distinguished from all the Nations in the World by the name of English. There is no Potentate breathing that wee call our dread Sovereigne but King Charles, nor Lawes of any Land have civilized us but England's; there is no Nation that calls us Countrey-men but the English. Brethren! Did wee not there draw in our first breath? Did not the Sunne first shine there upon our heads? Did not that Land first beare us, even that pleasant Island, but for sinne, I would say, that Garden of the Lord, that Paradise ?"

What changed all this deep tenderness into the spirit that found the British yoke detestable and at length cast it off ?

There have been many other great changes in America since that day. The American fields have been altered by the steady advance of imported weeds and flowers; the buttercup, the dandelion, and the ox-eyed daisy displacing the anemone and violet. The American physique is changed to a slenderer and more finely organized type; the American temperament has grown more sensitive, more pliant, more adaptive; the American voice has been shifted to a higher key, perhaps yielding greater music when fitly trained. Of all these changes we see the result, but cannot trace the steps; and it is almost as difficult to trace the successive impulses by which the love of everything that was English was transformed into a hatred of the British yoke.

Yet its beginnings may be observed in much that the colonists did, and in some things which they omitted. Within ten years after Hooke's loving reference to King Charles, there was something ominous in the cool self-control with which the people of Massachusetts refrained from either approving or disapproving his execution. It was equally ominous when they abstained from recognizing the accession of Richard Cromwell, and when they let fifteen months pass before sending a congratulatory address to Charles the Second. It was the beginning of a policy of indifference more significant than any policy of resistance. When in 1660, under that monarch, the first Act of Navigation was passed, prescribing that no merchandise should be imported into the plantations but in English vessels navigated by English

209

14

« AnteriorContinuar »