Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

have put them to death arbitrarily, without

any law.'"

Fox might have turned the tables, it is clear, upon the magistrate and the minister, but he had no desire to do that. Though many royalists urged him to prosecute relentlessly these New England persecutors of his followers, he said he preferred to leave them “ to the Lord to whom vengeance belonged.” So Bradstreet and John Norton came back to their homes in safety though they passed a very bad quarter of a year in London.

The election in 1673 of Leverett as governor sounded, however, the death-knell to persecution. For though he had been trained under Cotton's preaching, he was personally opposed to violent methods of suppressing dissenting sects, and, during his administration, the Baptists, the Quakers and all the rest worshipped their God undisturbed by any legal interference. Long and bitter had been the struggle, but now, at last, there was assured to those in Massachusetts a boon for which men have ever been content to yield up their life in dungeons, on the scaffold and at the stake, that very noble and precious thing we call “ freedom to worship God."

VIII

BOSTON AS JOHN DUNTON SAW IT

What the Journal of Madame Knight is to those who are studying tavern and transportation conditions in the New England of two centuries ago, the Letters of John Dunton are to us when we are concerned with Boston in the latter part of the seventeenth century. That time was peculiarly barren of description at the hands of visitors, upon whom the city made an impression rather favourable as a whole. Sewall's Diary is of inestimable value, of course, but he was a part of all that he described and so could not bring an unbiased mind to bear upon his subject. And many of the visitors who wrote about us took a hostile tone and so presented material by no means trustworthy.

Sometimes, to be sure, there was good reason for the harshness of the picture drawn. When Jasper Dankers and Peter Sluyter, for

See “ Among Old New England Inns."

instance, gained the impressions which have since been published by the Long Island Historical Society, they were strangers, unable to speak English, and as Jesuits who had come here for no good” were of course regarded with suspicion. Some of the things which Dunton saw through rather rose-coloured glasses, they seem to have found not at all prepossessing. But their understatements of the country's attractions are generally less to be credited than his slight overstatement. What they wrote is interesting, though, and some few passages from their pens may well enough be quoted before we proceed to enjoy Dunton's racy discourse.

Our Jesuit friends shared in a fast day at one of the Boston churches and they were not in the least edified.“ In the first place a minister made a prayer in the pulpit of full two hours in length; after which an old minister delivered a sermon an hour long, and after that a prayer was made and some verses sung out of the psalm. In the afternoon three or four hours were consumed with nothing except prayers, three ministers relieving each other alternately: when one was tired another went up into the pulpit. The inhabitants are all Independent in matter of religion, if it can be

.

called religion; many of them perhaps more for the purposes of enjoying the benefit of its privileges than for any regard to truth and godliness. . . . All their religion consists in observing Sunday by not working or going into the taverns on that day; but the houses are worse than the taverns. There is a penalty for cursing and swearing such as they please to impose, the witnesses thereof being at liberty to insist upon it. Nevertheless, you discover little difference between this and other places. Drinking and fighting occur there not less than elsewhere."

One of the most curious items is their picture of Harvard College. Apparently the institution was not then very flourishing (June, 1680), for they found only ten students and no professor! On entering the College building they discovered “eight or ten young fellows sitting about, smoking tobacco, with the smoke of which the room was so full that you could hardly see; and the whole house smelt so strong of it that when I was going upstairs, I said, this is certainly a tavern. . . They could hardly speak a word of Latin so that my comrade could not converse with them. They took us to the library where there was nothing particular. We looked over it a little."

[ocr errors]

Dunton's experience at Harvard we shall find to be quite a different one though his visit there was only six years later than that of the missionaries. A very red-blooded gentleman was this London bookseller and journalist, who, after Monmouth's insurrection, came to New England to sell a consignment of books and so retrieve his depressed fortunes. Dunton had been intended for the ministry, but developing some tendencies of the gay Lothario stripe he became, instead, apprenticed to a bookseller and, succeeding in this line of work, soon set up a shop for himself. On August 3, 1682, he married the daughter of Dr. Samuel Annesley, a distinguished non-conformist minister. One sister of this lady became the mother of John Wesley and another the wife of Defoe. She herself must have been a remarkable person for she held the affection of her flighty husband the while she enabled him to keep his credit good and to be of financial aid to several dependent relatives.

She had a piquant dash of Bohemianism, too, and this adds to her charm for us, as for her devoted spouse. She and John were always Iris and Philaret to each other and instead of having a house and living staidly in it they settled down, when their honeymoon

« AnteriorContinuar »