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daintily printed pages with interest, and learn to share with the author some of the feelings which have given him inspiration.

The name of the town, however, we do not need to mention, as it is of little importance for the object which we have in view. We know nothing of it beyond what Mr. Bliss has told us, and we have been led to take it as the theme of the remarks which we wish to make, for the single reason that it was evidently one of the least considerable of the early New England towns. Its first settlers were very plain people—“ used to a plaine countrie life & ye inocente trade of husbandrey”-and the soil which they tilled was about as unpromising as any to be found between Cape Cod and the Hudson river. So it has seemed to us that the characteristics of the early New Englanders, and their way of doing things—their excellencies and especially their deficiencies—might be seen more clearly, and might be studied to better advantage, in the history of some such out-of-the-way community as this which grew up in obscurity on Buzzard's Bay, than in the history of other towns which are better known, and which were settled by people of more consideration.

It is very important that it should not be forgotten that the “American Commonwealth,” as Mr. Bryce has pictured it in his recent book, did not attain to its present condition without many serious struggles. There is danger that the eulogies on our ancestors which have been made by Fourth-of-July orators, and on anniversary occasions, have led many persons to suppose that all we now enjoy as a people was secured to us by the simple landing on these shores of a few thousand Englishmen of exceptionally good character, who proceeded at once to unfold in a quiet and natural way certain advanced religious and political views which they had brought with them. On the contrary, the fact is that the average Englishman of the seventeenth century was a man of very coarse fibre, and that the early New England colonists were after all, in many particulars, not so far in advance of their countrymen whom they left at home as many persons suppose. There came over with them, also, or drifted in among them, a certain proportion of men of bad moral character, of men who were mere adventurers, of cranks, of inefficient people, who made trouble themselves, and whose

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descendants have never ceased to furnish inmates for our jails and poor-houses during all these years. The true explanation of the “ American Commonwealth” of to-day is to be found in the fact that a large proportion of the early colonists had accepted the Bible as their rule of conduct, and, here in this wilderness, separated from England by three thousand miles of ocean, had an opportunity, unfettered by authority of any kind, to try the experiment of founding a State in accordance with the principles of that book which they accepted as the Word of God. As for the rest, those men-even the best of them-brought with them many of the erroneous views—political and religious—which were then accepted not only in England, but in all parts of the civilized world. But they were men of strong common sense—serious minded and practical Englishmen—who were seeking with all earnestness to ascertain and to do the will of God. They were ready to learn by experience, and to adapt their theories to whatever new exigencies arose.

The result was that gradually—and it was only gradually—the conception was gained of a "government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” But we will reserve what we have to say on this aspect of American history till we have reached the close of what we have to say of the book that Mr. Bliss has given us.

The value of his book consists in the fact that he has presented a picture of early colonial times, which is true to the life. He has had the discernment to see what were the shortcomings of the men who laid the foundations of our institutions. We have already called attention to the fact that what he has written is all the more valuable for the reason that the town he describes was not at all an ideal New England town. In its history, therefore, these short-comings are the more apparent. We do not mean to intimate that the author has been unmindful of the excellencies of the people whom he describes, but he has not been afraid to put the dark shades into his picture, when truth has demanded it. For this reason it is, that we ask our readers to follow us as we repeat in outline some parts of the story he has so charmingly told.

Mr. Bliss informs us that after the war with “King Philip” had ended, and the territory which had belonged to that In

dian chief had been annexed to Plymouth Colony, the lands on the western shore of Buzzard's Bay—“the lands of Sippican,” as they were called—were purchased by a company composed of some of the principal men of that colony. These lands were esteemed valuable for their fisheries, their pine woodlands, their cedar and spruce swamps, and especially for rich meadows on the "necks," which extended into the bay. The purchasers went to work at once to turn their property to good account. On March 10, 1679, they met "at Joseph Burgs his house at Sandwitch," and selected five of their number to go to take a vew of the Lands and to determin where the house Lots shall be Layed out," directing to make the lots “ 40 ackors if the Land will Beare it." Then, to attract emigration, they declared that those that first settell and are Livers" shall be allowed to make on the commons “ten Barrells of tarr a peece for a yeare.” The purchasers who did not become “Livers” were not to be “alowed to make any Tarre of the pine knots or wood that is within the Limmits” for the space of five years.

To the east of these “lands of Sippican,” adjoining them, and nearer to Plymouth, was another tract of land at the head of the bay, known as the “Agawame Plantation,” which had been bought of the Indians by the Plymouth colony at a very early period in its history. This tract was sold by the Colony in 1682 to six Englishmen for two hundred and eighty pounds, “current money,” to obtain the means of building a meetinghouse in Plymouth town. The purchasers met at once, divided their estate into six shares, laid out six “home lotts” of sixty acres each, “to build any hous or housen upon.” They met again and laid out “sixe tracts of meadow," divided the uplands, and appointed four of their number to lay out“ venient publike & private high waies.” When next they met, they “declared thar selves contented and satisfid with what was don, and there set too thare handes in the smal bucke where all thes devisins ware first writen."

The lands which were now offered for sale in these two plantations were not long left without occupants. The town of Plymouth, where the little band of “Pilgrims” had established themselves with such difficulty sixty years before, had prospered. The children of the men and women who there fought


so long with famine and disease, and had so courageously held on to the barren shore on which they first landed, had increased and multiplied, and had begun to find the town which their fathers had founded too small for their needs. That longing to push into the wilderness and make new homes for themselves, which has become such a marked characteristic of their descendants, had already begun to be developed in them. So the purchasers of the “lands of Sippican” and “Agawame” were speedily made glad by the incoming of those who came to be—as they had termed it—“Livers."

We have already said that these people were a very plain people. It is not to be forgotten that their fathers had been plain people before them. There were a few able men in the Plymouth colony-Brewster, and Bradford, and Winslow, and Miles Standish—but the greater part of the inhabitants, though they were indeed “the salt of the earth,” did not compare with the people of the other New England colonies in enterprise, in education, or in knowledge of affairs. It is true that the other colonies thought more highly of them than they did of the heterogeneous population that had collected around Roger Williams in Providence; but judging the Plymouth people by their own higher standards, they were disposed to look somewhat askance at them, as lax in the administration of their laws, careless of the education of their children, and even wanting in due care for the ordinances of religion. It is an interesting study to inquire how these very plain AngloSaxon farmers, of the first generation of native born Americans—who had enjoyed few opportunities for mental culture, who knew little of what was going on in other parts of the world, and who cared for little beyond their immediate neighborhood—were to thrive in the new homes which they were to make for themselves.

The first thing to be noticed is the care and readiness with which these men arranged for the government of their little communities. There was for some time no town organization; but, in both “Sippican” and “Agawame” there existed a kind of dual government. The management of all those matters which affected proprietary rights was assumed by the proprie

tors, who exercised a supreme authority in entire separation from the body of the inhabitants. We can judge of their theory by what they did. In Sippican, the proprietors made laws to prevent the exportation of lumber. They forbade strange Indians “to hunt or catch deer" within their limits. They made a decree to prohibit any person from cutting “cedar, spruce, or pine, except he fairly demonstrate that he stands in need of it.” They ordered a fine of five pounds to be paid by every Englishman and Indian “who shall set on fire the woods in anny part of the Township, and neglect to put it out before they depart the Spott.” They appropriated land for highways. In Agawame, following the custom of Teutonic farmers who felled wood in a common forest and grazed cattle in a common pasture, the proprietors allowed each one of their number to graze only " thurtitoo nete catel and fouer horses" or "six sheepe instead of one Beast.” They appointed an officer to watch the pastures, to see that they were equitably enjoyed, and to report if any man sent in more cattle than his proportion. Farmers who were not proprietors were allowed pasturage on unused rights if they brought to the watch

a note or token to his sattisfaxion whose Rite they came upon.” The proprietors also set apart lands for a public “buriing place.” They gave directions about the fisheries.

Other matters which affected only the interests of the people at large were left to the actual settlers. In their informal meetings, the people of each of the two communities came among themselves to some sort of agreement or understanding as to what should be done for the common interest. But these agreements or understandings were always conditioned on “the consent of the proprietors,” whose prerogative appears to have been regarded like that of the King. The matters which came up in these neighborhood gatherings respected, for instance, such practical things as how to deal with the wolves, wildcats, and foxes, which made havoc of the farmers' sheep; and with crows, blackbirds, robins, and squirrels, that devastated the planted fields.


But it is interesting to find that the thoughts of these people were not so exclusively taken up with the cares of their

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