But Mistress Luce, by a telling statement of pecuniary benefits, was brought to a proper mind and became "verie sensible of loseing fair opportunities," and consented speedily to wed Norton, to her father's abounding joy, who wrote, "shee may stay long ere she meet with a better vnless I had more monie for her than I now can spare." The betrothal was formally announced, when shortly a distressed letter from Madam Downing shows foul weather ahead. Luce had been talking among her friends, giving to them "unjust suspicions of the enforcement to her of Mr. Norton," and while she had seemed to love Mr. Eyer, and her family had eagerly striven to win her regard from him, "we now suspect by her late words her affections to be now inclininge at Jhon Harrold." It was found that Jhon had "practised upon her and disturbed her," and that while she was "free and cheerful" with Lover Norton, "passing conversation" with him, she was really conspiring to jilt him. The mother wrote sadly: "I am sorrie my daughter Luce hath caryed things thus vnwisely and vnreputably both to herselfe and our friends;" and the whole family were evidently sorely afraid that the "perverse Puritan jade" would be left on their hands, when suddenly came the news of her marriage to Norton, owing perhaps to a very decided and sharp letter from Norton's brother to the Governor about Mistress Luce's vagaries, and also to some more satisfactory and liberal marriage settlements. She probably made as devoted a wife to him as if she had never longed for Eyer his fresh red, nor Jhon his disturbments.
Nor were these upright and pious Puritan magistrates and these gentlewomen of Boston and Salem the only colonists who displayed such sordid and mercenary bargaining and stipulating in matrimonial ventures: numberless letters and records throughout New England prove the unvarying spirit of calculation that pervaded fashionable courtship. A bride's portion was openly discussed, her marriage settlement carefully decided upon, and even agreements for bequests were arranged as "incurredgment to marriage." Nor did happy husbands hesitate to sue for settlement too tardy or too remiss fathers-in-law who failed to keep their word about the bride's portion: Edward Palmes for years harassed the Winthrops about their sister's (his first wife's) portion, long after he had married a second partner.
Though the tender passion walked thus ceremoniously and coldly in narrow and carefully selected paths in town, in the country it regarded little the bounds of reserve or regard for appearances. Much comparative grossness prevailed. The mode of courting, known as "bundling" or "tarrying" was too prevalent in colonial times to be ignored. A full description of its extent, and an attempt to trace its origin, have been given in a book on the subject prepared by Dr. H. R. Stiles, and with much fairness in a pamphlet by Charles Francis Adams on "Some Phases of Sexual Morality and Church Discipline in Colonial New England."
Its existence has been a standing taunt for years against New England, and its prevalence has been held up as a proof of a low state of morality in early New England society. Indeed, it was strange it could so long exist in so austere and virtuous a colony; that it did, to a startling extent, must be conceded; much proof is found in the books of contemporary writers. Rev. Andrew Burnaby, who travelled in New England in 1759-1760, says that though it may "at first appear to be the effects of grossness of character, it will upon deeper research be found to proceed from simplicity and innocence." To this assertion, after some research, I can give—to use Sir Thomas Browne's words—"a staggering assent to the affirmative, not without some fear of the negative." Rev. Samuel Peters, in his General History of Connecticut, speaks at length upon the custom, and apparently endeavors to prove that it was a very prudent and Christian fashion. Jonathan Edwards raised his powerful voice against it. It prevailed apparently to its fullest extent on Cape Cod, and longest in the Connecticut valley, where many Dutch customs were introduced and much intercourse with the Dutch was carried on. In Pennsylvania, among the Dutch and German settlers and their descendants, it lingered long; it was a matter of Court record as late as 1845. Yet the custom of bundling has never been held to be a result of copying the similar Dutch "queesting," which in Holland met with the sanction of the most circumspect Dutch parents; and tergiversating Diedrich Knickerbocker even asserted the contrary assumption, that the Dutch learned of it from the Yankees. In Holland, as now in Wales and then in New England, the custom arose not from a low state of morals, nor from a disregard of moral appearances, but from the social and industrial conditions under which such courting was done. The small size and crowded occupancy of the houses, the alternative waste of lights and fuel, the hours at which the hurried courtship must be carried on, all led to the recognition and endurance of the custom; and in its open recognition lay its redeeming feature. There was no secrecy, no thought of concealment; the bundling was done under the supervision of mother and sisters.
As a contrast to all this laxity of behaviour, let me state that in the very locality where it obtained—the Connecticut Valley—other sweethearts are said to have been forced to a most ceremonious courtship, to whisper their tender nothings through a "courting-stick," a hollow stick about an inch in diameter and six or eight feet long, fitted with mouth- and ear-pieces. In the presence of the entire family, lovers, seated formally on either side of the great fireplace, carried on this chilly telephonic love-making. One of these batons of propriety still is preserved in Longmeadow, Mass.
Of this primitive colony with primitive manners some very extraordinary cases of bucolic love at first sight are recorded—love that did not follow the law of pounds, shillings, and pence. At an ordination in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, a country bumpkin forgot the place, the preacher, and the preaching, in the ravishing sight of an unknown damsel whom he saw for the first time within the meeting-house. He sat entranced through the long sermon, the tedious psalm-singings, the endless prayers, until at last the services were over. In an ecstasy of uncouth and unreasoning passion he rushed out of church, forced his way through the departing congregation, seized the unknown fair one in his arms crying out, "Now I have got ye, you jade, I have! I have!" And from so startling and unalluring a beginning, a marriage followed. In a neighboring community a dignified officer of the law went to "warn out of town" a strange "transient woman" who might become a pauper, and would then have to be kept at the town's expense, were this ceremony omitted. Terrified at the majesty of the law and its grand though incomprehensible wording, the young warned one burst into tears, which so worked upon the tender-hearted officer that he (being conveniently a widower) proposed to her offhand, was called in meeting, married her, and thus took her under his own and the town's protection. More than one case of "marriage at first sight" is recounted, of bold Puritan wooers riding up to the door of a fair one whom they had never seen, telling their story of a lonely home, forlorn housekeeping, and desired marriage, giving their credentials, obtaining a hasty consent, and sending in their "publishings" to the town clerk, all within a day's time.
The "matrimonial" advertisement did not appear till 1759. In the Boston Evening Post of February 23d of that year, this notice, for its novelty and boldness, must have caused quite a heart-fluttering among Boston "thornbacks" who would try to pass for the desired age:
"To the Ladies. Any young Lady between the Age of Eighteen and twenty three of a Midling Stature; brown Hair, regular Features and a Lively Brisk Eye: Of Good Morals & not Tinctured with anything that may Sully so Distinguishable a Form possessed of 3 or 400L entirely her own Disposal and where there will be no necessity of going Through the tiresome Talk of addressing Parents or Guardians for their consent: Such a one by leaving a Line directed for A. W. at the British Coffee House in King Street appointing where an Interview may be had will meet with a Person who flatters himself he shall not be thought Disagreeable by any Lady answering the above description. N. B. Profound Secrecy will be observ'd. No Trifling Answers will be regarded."
Hawthorne says: "Now this was great condescension towards the ladies of Massachusetts Bay in a threadbare lieutenant of foot."
Other matrimonial advertisements, those of recreant and disobedient wives, appear in considerable number, especially in Connecticut papers. They were sometimes prefaced by the solemn warning: "Cursed be he that parteth man & wife & all the people shall say Amen." Some very disagreeable allegations were made against these Connecticut wives—that they were rude, gay, light-carriaged girls, poor and lazy housewives, ill cooks, fond of dancing, and talking balderdash talk, and far from being loving consorts. The wives had something to say from their point of view. One, owing to her spouse's stinginess, had to use "Indian branne for Jonne bred," and never tasted good food; another stated that her loving husband "cruelly pulled my hair, pinched my flesh, kicked me out of bed, drag'd me by my arms & heels, flung ashes upon me to smother me, flung water from the well till I had not a dry thread on me." All these notices were apparently printed in the advertiser's own language and individual manner of spelling, some even in rhyme. "Timothy hubbard" thus ventilated his domestic infelicities and his spelling in the Connecticut Courant of January 30th, 1776:
"Whearis my Wife Abigiel hes under Rote me by saying it is veri Disagria bell to Hur to Expose to the World the miseris & Calamatis of a Distractid famely, and I think as much for hur Father & mother to Witt Stephen deming & his wife acts very much like Distractid or BeWicht & I believe both, for the truth of this I will apell to the Nabors. When I first Married I had land of my one and lived at my one hous but Stephen deming & his Wife cept coming down & hanting of me til they got me up to thare house but presently I was deceived by them as Bad as Adam & Eve was by the Divel though not in the Same Shape for they got a bill of Sail of a most all by thare Sutilly & still hold the Same. perhaps the Jentlemen will say it is to pay my debt. Queri. Wherino a man that ows one pound to my shiling. I dont want it to pay his one, I believe he dos. My wife pretends to say I abus'd her for the truth of this I will apiel to all thare nabors."
Anenst this I am glad to add that I have found repentant sequels to the mortifying story, in the form of humble retractions of the husband's allegations. Wives were, on the whole, marvellously well protected by early laws. A husband could not keep his consort on outlying and danger-filled plantations, but must "bring her in, else the town will pull his house down." Nor could a man leave his wife for any length of time, nor "marrie too wifes which were both alive for anything that can appear otherwise at one time," nor beat his wife (as he could to his heart's content in old England); he could not even use "hard words" to her. Nor could she raise her hand or use "a curst and shrewish tongue" to him without fear of public punishment in the stocks or pillory.
In the first years of the colonies there existed a formal ceremony of betrothal called in Plymouth a pre-contract. This semi-binding ceremony had hardly a favorable influence upon the morals of the times. Cotton Mather states:
"There was maintained a Solemnity called a Contraction a little before the Consummation of a marriage was allowed of. A Pastor was usually employed and a sermon also preached on this occasion."
If the prospective marriage were an important or a genteel one, an applicable sermon was often preached in church at the time of the "contraction." One minister took the text, Ephesians vi. 10, 11, in order "to teach that marriage is a state of warfaring condition." It was also the custom to allow the bride to choose the text for the sermon to be delivered on the Sunday when she "came out bride." Much ingenuity was exercised by these Puritan brides in finding appropriate and interesting texts for these wedding sermons. Here are some of the verses selected:
2 Chronicles xiv. 2: "And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord"—Asa and his bride Hepzibah sitting up proudly in the congregation to listen.
Proverbs xxiv. 23: "Her husband is known in the gates when he sitteth among the elders of the land."
Ecclesiastes iv. 9, 10: "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall the one will lift up his fellow."
I can imagine the staid New England lover and his shy sweetheart anxiously and solemnly searching for many hours through the great leather-bound family Bible for a specially appropriate text, turning over the leaves and slowing scanning the pages, skipping over tedious Leviticus and Numbers, and finding always in the Song of Solomon "in almost every verse" a sentiment appealing to all lovers, and worthy a selection for a wedding sermon.
The "coming out," or, as it was called in Newburyport, "walking out" of the bride was an important event in the little community. Cotton Mather wrote in 1713 that he thought it expedient for the bridal couple to appear as such publicly, with some dignity. We see in the pages of Sewall's diary one of his daughters with her new-made husband leading the orderly bridal procession of six couples on the way to church, observed of all in the narrow Boston street and in the Puritan meeting-house. In some communities the bride and groom took a prominent seat in the gallery, and in the midst of the sermon rose to their feet and turned around several times slowly, in order to show from every point of view their bridal finery to the admiring eyes of their assembled friends and neighbors in the congregation.
Throughout New England, except in New Hampshire, the law was enforced for nearly two centuries, of publishing the wedding banns three times in the meeting-house, at either town meeting, lecture, or Sunday service. Intention of marriage and the names of the contracting parties were read by the town clerk, the deacon, or the minister, at any of these forgatherings, and a notice of the same placed on the church door, or on a "publishing post"—in short, they were "valled." Yet in the early days of the colonies the all-powerful minister could not perform the marriage ceremony—a magistrate, a captain, any man of dignity in the community could be authorized to marry Puritan lovers, save the parson. Not till the beginning of the eighteenth century did the Puritan minister assume the function of solemnizing marriages. Gov. Bellingham married himself to Penelope Pelham when he was a short time a widower and forty-nine years old, and his bride but twenty-two. When he was "brought up" for this irregularity he arrogantly and monopolizingly persisted in remaining on the bench to try his own case. "Disorderly marriages" were punished in many towns; doubtless many of them were between Quakers. Some couples were fined every month until they were properly married. A very trying and unregenerate reprobate in New London persisted that he would "take up" with a woman in the town and make her his wife without any legal or religious ceremony. This was a great scandal to the whole community. A pious magistrate met the ungodly couple on the street and sternly reproved them thus: "John Rogers, do you persist in calling this woman, a servant, so much younger than yourself, your wife?"
"Yes, I do," violently answered John.
"And do you, Mary, wish such an old man as this to be your husband?"
"Indeed I do," she answered.
"Then," said the governor, coldly, "by the laws of God and this commonwealth, I as a magistrate pronounce you man and wife."
"Ah! Gurdon, Gurdon," said the groom, married legally in spite of himself, "thee's a cunning fellow."
There is one peculiarity of the marriages of the first century and a half of colonial and provincial life which should be noted—the vast number of unions between the members of the families of Puritan ministers. It seemed to be a law of social ethics that the sons of ministers should marry the daughters of ministers. The new pastor frequently married the daughter of his predecessor in the parish, sometimes the widow—a most thrifty settling of pastoral affairs. A study of the Cotton, Stoddard, Eliot, Williams, Edwards, Chauncey, Bulkeley, and Wigglesworth families, and, above all, of the Mather family, will show mutual kinship among the ministers, as well as mutual religious thought.
Richard Mather took for his second wife the widow of John Cotton. Their children, Increase Mather and Mary Cotton, grew up as brother and sister, but were married and became the parents of Cotton Mather. The sons and grandsons and great-grandsons of Richard Mather were ministers. His daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters became the wives of ministers. Thus was the name of "Mather Dynasty" well given. The Mather blood and the Mather traits of character were felt in the most remote parishes of New England. The Mather expressions of religious thought were long heard from the pulpit, and long taught in ministerial homes; and to that Mather blood and that upright Mather character and God-fearing Mather faith and teaching, we of New England owe more gratitude than can ever find expression.
We have several meagre pictures of weddings in early days. One runs thus:
"There was a pretty deal of company present.... Many young gentlemen and gentlewomen. Mr. Noyes made a speech, said love was the sugar to sweeten every condition in the marriage state. Prayed once. Did all very well. After the Sack-posset sung 45th Psalm from 8th verse to end, five staves. I set it to Windsor tune. I had a very good Turkey Leather Psalm book which I looked in while Mr. Noyes read; then I gave it to the bridegroom saying I give you this Psalm book in order to your perpetuating this song and I would have you pray that it may be an introduction to our singing with the quire above."
For many years sack-posset was drunk at weddings, sometimes within the bridal chamber; but not with noisy revelry, as in old England. A psalm preceding and a prayer following a Puritan posset-pot made a satisfactorily solemn wassail. Bride-cake and bride-gloves were sent as gifts to the friends and relatives of the contracting parties. Other and ruder English fashions obtained. The garter of the bride was sometimes scrambled for to bring luck and speedy marriage to the garter-winner. In Marblehead the bridesmaids and groomsmen put the wedded couple to bed.
It is said that along the New Hampshire and upper Massachusetts coast, the groom was led to the bridal chamber clad in a brocaded night-gown. This may have occasionally taken place among the gentry, but I fancy brocaded night-gowns were not common wear among New England country folk. I have also seen it stated that the bridal chamber was invaded, and healths there were drunk and prayers offered. The only proof of this custom which I have found is the negative one which Judge Sewall gives when he states of his own wedding that "none came to us," after he and his elderly bride had retired. When the weddings of English noblemen of that period were attended by most indecorous observances, there is no reason to suppose that provincial and colonial weddings were entirely free from similar rude customs.
It was found necessary in 1651 to forbid all "mixt and unmixt" dancing at taverns on the occasion of weddings, abuses and disorders having arisen. But I fancy a people who would give an "ordination ball" would not long sit still at a wedding; and by the year 1769, at a wedding in New London, ninety-two jigs, fifty contra-dances, forty-three minuets, and seventeen hornpipes were danced, and the party broke up at quarter of one in the morning—at what time could it have begun?
Isolated communities retained for many years marriage customs derived or copied from similar customs in the "old country." Thus the settlers of Londonderry, New Hampshire—Scotch-Irish Presbyterians—celebrated a marriage with much noisy firing of guns, just as their ancestors in Ireland, when the Catholics had been forbidden the use of firearms, had ostentatiously paraded their privileged Protestant condition by firing off their guns and muskets at every celebration. A Londonderry wedding made a big noise in the world. After the formal publishing of the banns, guests were invited with much punctiliousness. The wedding day was suitably welcomed at daybreak by a discharge of musketry at both the bride's and the groom's house. At a given hour the bridegroom, accompanied by his male friends, started for the bride's home. Salutes were fired at every house passed on the road, and from each house pistols and guns gave an answering "God speed." Half way on the journey the noisy bridal party was met by the male friends of the bride, and another discharge of firearms rent the air. Each group of men then named a champion to "run for the bottle"—a direct survival of the ancient wedding sport known among the Scotch as "running for the bride-door," or "riding for the kail" or "for the broose"—a pot of spiced broth. The two New Hampshire champions ran at full speed or rode a dare-devil race over dangerous roads to the bride's house, the winner seized the beribboned bottle of rum provided for the contest, returned to the advancing bridal group, drank the bride's health, and passed the bottle. On reaching the bride's house an extra salute was fired, and the bridegroom with his party entered a room set aside for them. It was a matter of strict etiquette that none of the bride's friends should enter this room until the bride, led by the best man, advanced and stationed herself with her bridesmaid before the minister, while the best man stood behind the groom. When the time arrived for the marrying pair to join hands, each put the right hand behind the back, and the bridesmaid and the best man pulled off the wedding-gloves, taking care to finish their duty at precisely the same moment. At the end of the ceremony everyone kissed the bride, and more noisy firing of guns and drinking of New England rum ended the day.
In some communities still rougher horse-play than unexpected volleys of musketry was shown to the bridal party or to wedding guests. Great trees were felled across the bridle-paths, or grapevines were stretched across to hinder the free passage, and thus delay the bridal festivities.
Occasionally the wedding-bells did not ring smoothly. One Scotch-Irish lassie seized the convenient opportunity, when the rollicking company of her male friends had set out to meet the bridegroom, to mount a-pillion behind a young New Hampshire Lochinvar, and ride boldly off to a neighboring parson and marry the man of her choice. Such an unpublished marriage was known in New Hampshire as a "Flagg marriage," from one Parson Flagg, of some notoriety, of Chester, Vermont, whose house was a sort of Yankee Gretna Green; and such a marriage was made possible by the action of the government of New Hampshire in issuing marriage licenses at the price of two guineas each, as a means of increasing its income. Sometimes easy-going parsons kept a stock of these licenses on hand, ready for issue to eloping couples at a slightly advanced price. Such a marriage, without proper "publishing" in meeting, was not, however, deemed very reputable.
Madam Knight, travelling through Connecticut in 1704, wrote thus in her diary of Connecticut youth:
"They generally marry very young; the males oftener as I am told under twenty years than above; they generally make public weddings and have a way something singular in some of them; viz. just before joining hands the bridegroom quits the place, who is soon followed by the Bridesmen and, as it were, dragged back to duty, being the reverse to the former practice among us to steal Mistress Bride."
Poor-spirited creatures Connecticut maids must have been to endure meekly such an ungallant custom and such ungallant lovers.
The sport of stealing "Mistress Bride," a curious survival of the old savage bridals of many peoples, lingered long in the Connecticut valley. A company of young men, usually composed of slighted ones who had not been invited to the wedding, rushed in after the marriage ceremony, seized the bride, carried her to a waiting carriage, or lifted her up on a pillion, and rode to the country tavern. The groom with his friends followed, and usually redeemed the bride by furnishing a supper to the stealers. The last bride stolen in Hadley was Mrs. Job Marsh, in the year 1783. To this day, however, in certain localities in Rhode Island, the young men of the neighborhood invade the bridal chamber and pull the bride downstairs, and even out-of-doors, thus forcing the husband to follow to her rescue. If the room or house-door be locked against their invasion, the rough visitors break the lock.
In England throughout the eighteenth century the grotesque belief prevailed that if a widow were "married in Her Smock without any Clothes or Head Gier on," the husband would be exempt from paying any of his new wife's ante-nuptial debts; and many records of such debt-evading marriages appear. In New England, it was thought if the bride were married "in her shift on the king's highway," a creditor could follow her person no farther in pursuit of his debt. Many such eccentric "smock-marriages" took place, generally (with some regard for modesty) occurring in the evening. Later the bride was permitted to stand in a closet.
Mr. William C. Prime, in his delightful book, "Along New England Roads," gives an account of such a marriage. In Newfane, Vt., in February, 1789, Major Moses Joy married Widow Hannah Ward; the bride stood, with no clothing on, within a closet, and held out her hand to the major through a diamond-shaped hole in the door, and the ceremony was thus performed. She then appeared resplendent in wedding attire, which the gallant major had thoughtfully deposited in the closet for her assumption. Mr. Prime tells also of a marriage in which the bride, entirely unclad, left her room by a window at night, and standing on the top round of a high ladder donned her wedding garments, and thus put off the obligations of the old life.
In Hall's "History of Eastern Vermont," we read of a marriage in Westminster, Vt., in which the Widow Lovejoy, while nude and hidden in a chimney recess behind a curtain, wedded Asa Averill. Smock-marriages on the public highway are recorded in York, Me., in 1774, as shown in the History of Wells and Kennebunkport. It is said that in one case the pitying minister threw his coat over the shivering bride, Widow Mary Bradley, who in February, clad only in a shift, met the bridegroom half way from her home to his.
The traveller Kalm, writing in 1748, says that one Pennsylvania bridegroom saved appearances by meeting the scantily-clad widow-bride half way from her house to his, and announcing formally, in the presence of witnesses, that the wedding clothes which he then put on her were only lent to her for the occasion. This is curiously suggestive of the marriage investiture of Eastern Hindostan.
In Westerly, R. I., in 1724, other smock-marriages were recorded, and in Lincoln County, Me., in 1767, between John Gatchell and Sarah Cloutman, showing that the belief in this vulgar error was wide-spread. The most curious variation of this custom is told in the "Life of Gustavus Vassa," wherein that traveller records that a smock-marriage took place in New York in 1784 on a gallows. A malefactor condemned to death, and about to undergo his execution, was reprieved and liberated through his marriage to a woman clad only in a shift.
In spite of the hardness and narrowness of their daily life, and the cold calculation, the lack of sentiment displayed in wooing, I think Puritan husbands and wives were happy in their marriages, though their love was shy, almost sombre, and "flowered out of sight like the fern." A few love-letters still remain to prove their affection: letters of sweethearts and letters of married lovers, such as Governor Winthrop and his wife Margaret; letters like the words of another Margaret—a queen—to her "alderliefest;" letters so simple and tender that truth and love shine round them like a halo:
"MY OWN DEAR HUSBAND: How dearly welcome thy kind letter was to me, I am not able to express. The sweetness of it did much refresh me. What can be more pleasing to a wife than to hear of the welfare of her best beloved and how he is pleased with her poor endeavors! I blush to hear myself commended, knowing my own wants. But it is your love that conceives the best and makes all things seem better than they are. I wish that I may always be pleasing to thee, and that these comforts we have in each other may be daily increased so far as they be pleasing to God. I will use that speech to thee that Abigail did to David, I will be a servant to wash the feet of my lord; I will do any service wherein I may please my good husband. I confess I cannot do enough for thee; but thou art pleased to accept the will for the deed and rest contented. I have many reasons to make me love thee, whereof I shall name two: First, because thou lovest God, and secondly, because thou lovest me. If these two were wanting all the rest would be eclipsed. But I must leave this discourse and go about my household affairs. I am a bad housewife to be so long from them; but I must needs borrow a little time to talk with thee, my sweetheart. It will be but two or three weeks before I see thee, though they be long ones. God will bring us together in good time, for which time I shall pray. And thus with my mother's and my own best love to yourself I shall leave scribbling. Farewell my good husband, the Lord keep thee.
"Your obedient wife, "MARGARET WINTHROP."
Who can read the beautiful words without feeling for that sweet Margaret, who died two centuries ago, a thrill of the affection that must have glowed for her in John Winthrop's heart, when, far away from her, he first opened and read this tender letter.
Warm eulogies did many a staid New Englander write of his loving consort, eulogies in rhyme, and epitaphs, elegies, threnodies, epicediums, anagrams, acrostics, and pindarics, all speaking loudly of loving, "painful" care, if not of a spirit of poesy. And the even, virtuous tenor of the life in New England proved too a happiness and contentment equal to the marital results of more emotional and romantic love-making. There were some divorces. Madam Knight found that they were plentiful in Connecticut in 1704, as they are in that State nowadays. She writes:
"These uncomely Stand-aways are too much in vogue among the English in this indulgent colony, as their records plentifully prove; and that on very trivial matters of which some have been told me, but are not Proper to be Related by a Female Pen."
In town records we find that divorces, though infrequent, still were occasionally given in other New England States; but the causes assigned therefor, to follow Madam Knight's example, need not be "Related by a Female Pen."
It is plainly evident that in a country where land was to be had for the asking, fuel for the cutting, corn for the planting and harvesting, and game and fish for the least expenditure of labor, no man would long serve for another, and any system of reliable service indoors or afield must fail. Whether the colonists came to work or not, they had to in order to live, for domestic service was soon in the most chaotic state. Women were forced to be notable housekeepers; men were compelled to attend to every detail of masculine labor in their households and on their farms, thus acquiring and developing a "handiness" at all trades, which has become a Yankee trait.
The question of adequate and proper household service soon became a question of importance and of painful consideration in the new land. Rev. Ezekiel Rogers wrote most feelingly in 1656 on this subject:
"Much ado have I with my own family, hard to get a servant glad of catechizing or family duties. I had a rare blessing of servants in Yorkshire, and those I brought over were a blessing, but the young brood doth much afflict me."
The Massachusetts colonists had attempted even before starting, to meet and simplify the servant question by rigidly excluding any corrupt element. They even sent back to England boys who had been unruly on shipboard. But the number of penalties imposed on servants during the early years are a lasting record of the affliction caused by the young brood.
All the early travellers speak of the lack of good servants in the new land. The "Diary of a French Refugee in Boston," in 1687, says: "There is an absolute Need of Hired help;" and that savages were employed in the fields at eighteen-pence a day. This latter form of service was naturally the first way of solving the vexed question. The captives in war were divided in lots and assigned to housekeepers. We find even gentle Roger Williams asking for "one of the drove of Adam's degenerate seed" as a slave. Hugh Peters, of Salem, wrote to a Boston friend: "Wee haue heard of a diuidence of women & children in the baye & would bee glad of a share viz.: a young woman or girle & a boy if you thinke good." Two years later he wrote: "My wife desires my daughter to send to Hanna that was her maid now at Charlestowne to know if she would dwell with us, for truly wee are now so destitute (having now but an Indian) that wee know not what to do." Lowell thus comments on such savage ministrations:
"Let any housewife of our day who does not find the Keltic element in domestic life so refreshing as to Mr. Arnold in literature, imagine a household with one wild Pequot woman, communicated with by signs, for its maid-of-all-work, and take courage. Those were serious times indeed when your cook might give warning by taking your scalp or chignon, as the case might be, and making off with it into the woods."
We frequently glean from diaries of the times hints of the pleasures of having a wild Nipmuck or Narragansett Indian as "help." Rev. Peter Thatcher, of Milton, Mass., bought an Indian in 1674 for L5 down and L5 more at the end of the year—a high-priced servant for the times. One of her duties was, apparently, the care of a young Thatcher infant. Shortly after the purchase, the reverend gentleman makes this entry in his diary: "Came home and found my Indian girl had liked to have knocked my Theodorah on the head by letting her fall. Whereupon I took a good walnut stick and beat the Indian to purpose till she promised to do so no more." Mr. Thatcher was really a very kindly gentleman and a good Christian, but the natural solicitude of a young father over his firstborn provoked him to the telling use of the walnut stick as a civilizing influence.
When we reach newspaper days we find Indian servants frequently among the runaways; as Mather said, they could not endure the yoke; and, indeed, it would seem natural enough that any such wild child of the forests should flee away from the cramped atmosphere of a Puritan household and house. We read pathetic accounts of the desertion of aged colonists by their Indian servants. One writes that he took his "Pecod girle" as a "chilld of death" when but two years old, had reared her kindly, nursed her in sickness, and now she had run away from him when he sorely needed her, and he wished to buy a blackamoor in her place. Sometimes the description of the costumes in which these savages took their flitting, is extremely picturesque. This is from the Boston News Letter of October, 1707:
"Run away from her master Baker. A tall Lusty Carolina Indian woman named Keziah Wampum, having long straight Black Hair tyed up with a red Hair Lace, very much marked in the hands and face. Had on a strip'd red blue & white Homespun Jacket & a Red one. A Black & White Silk Crape Petticoat, A White Shift, as Also a blue one with her, and a mixt Blue and White Linsey Woolsey Apron."
A reward of four pounds was offered for this barbaric creature.
Another Indian runaway in 1728 was thus bedizened, showing a startling progress in adornment from the apron of skins and blanket of her wildwood home.
"She wore off a Narrow Stript pinck Cherredary Goun turn'd up with a little flour'd red & white Callico. A Stript Homespun Quilted Petticoat, a plain muslin Apron, a suit of plain Pinners & a red & white flower'd knot, also a pair of green Stone Earrings with White Cotton Stockings & Leather heel'd Wooden Shoes."
Indian men often left their masters dishonestly dressed in their masters' fine apparel, and even wearing beribboned flaxen wigs, which must have been comic to a degree over their harsh, saturnine countenances—"as brown as any bun."
A limited substitute for Indian housemaids was found at an early day in "help," as it was called even then. Roger Williams, writing of his daughter, said: "She desires to spend some time in service & liked much Mrs. Brenton who wanted." John Tinker, who himself was help, wrote thus to John Winthrop; "Help is scarce, hard to get, difficult to please, uncertain, &c. Means runneth out and wages on & I cannot make choice of my help." Children of well-to-do citizens thus worked in domestic service. Members of the family of the rich Judge Sewall lived out as help. The sons of Downing and of Hooke went with their kinsman, Governor Winthrop, as servants. Sir Robert Crane also sent his cousin to the governor as a farm-servant. In Andover an Abbott maiden lived as help for years in the house of a Phillips. Children were bound out when but eight years old. These neighborly forms of domestic assistance were necessarily slow of growth and limited in extent, and negro slavery appeared to the colonists a much more effectual and speedy way of solving the difficulty; and the Indian war-prisoners, who proved such poor and dangerous house-servants, seemed a convenient, cheap, and God-sent means of exchange for "Moores," as they were called, who were far better servants. Emanuel Downing wrote in 1645 that he thought it "synne in us having power in our hand to suffer them (the Indians) to mayntayne the worship of the devill," that they should be removed from their pow-wows, and suggests the exchange for negroes, saying: "I doe not see how wee can thrive vntill wee into gett a stock of slaves sufficient to doe all our business."
Downing had a personal interest in the gaining of Moors; for he had had almost as much trouble in obtaining servants as he did in marrying off his children. We find him and his wife writing to Winthrop for help, buying Indians, sending home more than once to England for "godlye skylful paynstakeing girles," beseeching their neighbors to send them servants "of good caridg and godly conuersation;" and at last buying negroes, to try in every way to solve the vexed question.
Though the early planters came to New England to obtain and maintain liberty, and "bond slaverie, villinage," and other feudal servitudes were prohibited under the ninety-first article of the Body of Liberties, still they needed but this suggestion of Downing's to adopt quickly what was then the universal and unquestioned practice of all Christian nations—slavery. Josselyn found slaves on Noddle's Island in Boston Harbor at his first visit, though they were not held in a Puritan family. By 1687 a French refugee wrote home:
"You may also here own Negroes and Negresses, there is not a house in Boston however small may be its means, that has not one or two.... Negroes cost from twenty to forty Pistoles."
In Connecticut the crime of man-stealing was made punishable by death; and in 1646 the Massachusetts General Court awoke to the growing condition of affairs and bore witness "by the first Optunity, ag't the hainous & crying sinn of man-stealing," and undertook to send back to "Gynny" negroes who had been kidnapped by a slaver and brought to New England, and to send a letter of explanation and apology with them.
Though in the beginning he refused to harbor or tolerate negro-stealers, the Massachusetts Puritan of that day, enraged at the cruelty of the savage red men, did not hesitate to sell Indian captives as slaves to the West Indies. King Philip's wife and child were thus sold and there died. Their story was told in scathing language by Edward Everett. In 1703 it was made legal to transport and sell in the Barbadoes all Indian male captives under ten, and Indian women captives. Perhaps these transactions quickly blunted whatever early feeling may have existed against negro slavery, for soon the African slave-trade flourished in New England as in Virginia, Newport being the New England centre of the Guinea Trade. From 1707 to 1732 a tax of three guineas a head was imposed in Rhode Island on each negro imported—on "Guinea blackbirds." It would be idle to dwell now on the cruelty of that horrid traffic, the sufferings on board the slavers from lack of room, of food, of water, of air. But three feet three, inches was allowed between decks for the poor negro, who, accustomed to a free, out-of-door life, thus crouched and sat through the passage. No wonder the loss of life was great. It was chronicled in the newspapers and letters of the day in cold, heartless language that plainly spoke the indifference of the public to the trade and its awful consequences. I have never seen in any Southern newspapers advertisements of negro sales that surpass in heartlessness and viciousness the advertisements of our New England newspapers of the eighteenth century. Negro children were advertised to be given away in Boston, and were sold by the pound as was other merchandise. Samuel Pewter advertised in the Weekly Rehearsal in 1737 that he would sell horses for ten shillings pay if the horse sale were accomplished, and five shillings if he endeavored to sell and could not; and for negroes "sixpence a pound on all he sells, and a reasonable price if he does not sell."
Many letters still exist of advices from ship-owners to ship-captains, advice as to the purchase, care, and choice of captives, "to get one old man for a Lingister; to worter ye Rum & sell by short mesuer &c. &c." Negro-stealing by Americans continued till 1864, when a brig sailing westward from Africa on that iniquitous errand, was lost at sea—a grim ending to three centuries of incredible and unchristian cruelty.
The first anti-slavery tract published in America was written by Judge Sewall in the year 1700—"The Selling of Joseph." His timid protest but little availed, though he persevered in his belief and his opposition to the day of his death. Other colonists who were opposed to the traffic were willing to buy slaves, that the poor heathen might be brought up in a Christian land, be led away from their idols—Abraham and the patriarchs were given as authorities in justification of thus doing. One respectable Newport elder, who sent many a profitable venture to the Gold Coast for "black ivory," always gave pious thanks in meeting on the Sunday after the safe arrival of a slaver, "that a gracious overruling Providence had been pleased to bring to this land of Freedom another cargo of benighted heathen to enjoy the blessing of a Gospel dispensation," and I suppose he fancied he had cheated his Maker, his congregation, and himself into believing that there was some truth and decency in the specious words that framed a lie in every clause. Many ministers were slave owners; Daille—the French Huguenot, Dr. Hopkins, Dr. Williams, Ezra Stiles, and Jonathan Edwards being noted examples. The ministers from Eliot down were kind to the blacks, preaching special sermons to them, and forming religious associations for them. A negro school for reading, writing, and catechizing was established in Boston in 1728.
Cotton Mather had a negro worth fifty pounds given him by his congregation, and that "most notorious benefactor," with his never-ceasing "essay to doe good," at once, in gratitude for the gift, devoted the negro to God's service, and made many a noble resolve to save, through God's grace, his bondsman's soul. It is painful to read at a later date that he found his unregenerate slave "horribly arrested by spirits," by which he did not mean captured by the dreaded emissaries of the devil who pervaded the air of Boston and Salem at that time, but simply very drunk.
Slaves were more plentiful in Connecticut and Rhode Island than in Massachusetts. Madam Knight gives a glimpse of Connecticut slave life in 1704, and of awkward table traits in both master and slave as well, when she says that the negroes were too familiar, were permitted to sit at the table with the master, and "into the Dish goes the black Hoof as freely as the white Hand." Hawthorne says of New England slaves:
"They were not excluded from the domestic affections; in families of middling rank, they had their places at the board; and when the circle closed around the evening hearth its blaze glowed on their dark shining faces, intermixed familiarly with their master's children. It must have contributed to reconcile them to their lot, that they saw white men and women imported from Europe as they had been from Africa, and sold, though only for a term of years, yet as actual slaves to the highest bidder."
In the main, New England slaves were not unhappy, for they were well treated; and the race has the gift to be merry in the worst of circumstances. Occasionally one would be brought to the northern land, one of higher sensibilities, more sensitive affections, greater pride; one who could not live a slave. Such a one was the haughty Congo Pomp, who escaped to a swamp near Truro on Cape Cod—a swamp now called by his name—and placing at the foot of a tree a jug of water and loaf of bread to sustain him on his last long journey, hanged himself from the low-hanging limbs, and thus obtained freedom. Such also was Parson Williams's slave Cato in Longmeadow, Mass. He bore repeated whippings for his high-spirited disobedience, "for speaking out loud in meeting, drinking too much cider, going on a rampage," and finally drowned himself in a well.
Waitstill Winthrop wrote thus of one suicidal Moor to Fitz John Winthrop in 1682.
"I fear Black Tom will do but little seruis. He usued to make a show of hangeing himselfe before folkes, but I believe he is not very nimble about it when he is alone. Tis good to have an eye to him & you think it not worth while to keep him eyether sell him or send him to Virginia or the Barbadoes."
William Pyncheon had also a slave who was "assiduous in hangeing." To be sold to Virginia was a standard threat to New England slaves, as work in Southern tobacco-fields was thought much more severe than in northern cornfields.
Slavery lingered in New England until after Revolutionary days. It is said that its death blow was dealt in Worcester, Mass., in 1783, when a citizen was tried for assaulting and beating his negro servant. The defence was that the black man was a slave, and the beating was but necessary restraint and correction. The master was found guilty in the Worcester County Court and fined forty shillings.
Though there were few slaves who were willing to leave life in order to be free, many were willing to try to leave their masters. The early New England newspapers abound in advertisements of runaway blacks—in gay attire, with fiddles and guns, bewigged and silk-stockinged, well dressed if not well treated.
I know no records that show more fully, though wholly unconsciously, the vast simplicity of our ancestors than these advertisements of runaway servants. Fancy giving as a possible means of identification of any human being such an item of descriptions as this: "When he gets drunk or drinks much he is red in the face"—as if that were an extraordinary or peculiar trait in any drunken man! Another runaway is said to have had "sometimes a sly look in his eye and wears the button of his hat in front;" another to have been a liar; another to have been "somewhat impudent if crossed, and has a leering look under his eyes." Others were "awkward in manners," "somewhat morose in countenance," "had long finger-nails," "had one or two pimples on the face," "is too fond of talking." It seems almost incredible that intelligent persons should have given such childish and easily obliterated or varied particulars of description.
Diverse names were applied to these runaways: "Sirrinam Indianman Slave," "Mustee-fellow," "Molatto," "Moor," "Maddagerscar-boy," "Guinyman," "Congoman," "Coast-fellow," "Tawny," "Black-a-moor"—all apparently conveying some distinction of description universally comprehended at the time.
We have a few records of worthy black servants who remind us of the faithful, loving house-servants of old Southern families. Such a one was Judge Sewall's man, Boston—a freeman—to a master who deserved faithful service, if ever master did. The entries in the Judge's diary, meagre as they are, somehow show fully to us that faithful life of service. We see Boston taking the Sewall children out sledding; we see him carrying one of the little daughters out of town in his arms when the neighbors were suddenly smitten with that colonial plague, the small-pox. We find him, in later years, a tender nurse, sleeping by the fire in languishing Hannah Sewall's sick-chamber; and, after her death, we hear him protesting against the removal of her dead form from her chamber; and we can see him weeping as he sat through the lonely nights with his dead and dearly loved mistress, till she was hidden from his view. It is pleasing to know that though he lived a servant, he was buried like a gentleman; he received that token of final respect so highly prized in Boston—a ceremonious funeral, with a good fire, and chairs set in rows, and plenty of wine and cake, and a notice in the News Letter, and doubtless gloves in decent numbers.
Other black men led noble lives in service, if we can trust the records on their tombstones.
This elegant epitaph is upon a gravestone in Concord, Mass.:
"GOD WILLS US FREE; MAN WILLS US SLAVES I WILL AS GOD WILLS, GODS WILL BE DONE. HERE LIES THE BODY OF
A NATIVE OF AFRICA, WHO DIED MARCH 1773 AGED ABOUT SIXTY YEARS. THOUGH BORN IN A LAND OF SLAVERY HE WAS BORN FREE THOUGH HE LIVED IN A LAND OF LIBERTY HE LIVED A SLAVE. TILL BY HIS HONEST (THOUGH STOLEN) LABORS HE ACQUIRED THE CAUSE OF SLAVERY WHICH GAVE HIM FREEDOM THOUGH NOT LONG BEFORE DEATH, THE GRAND TYRANT GAVE HIM HIS FINAL EMANCIPATION AND PUT HIM ON A FOOTING WITH KINGS. THOUGH A SLAVE TO VICE HE PRACTISED THOSE VIRTUES WITHOUT WHICH KINGS ARE BUT SLAVES."
At Attleborough, Mass., near the old Hatch Tavern, may be seen this epitaph:
"HERE LIES THE BEST OF SLAVES NOW TURNING INTO DUST, CAESAR THE AETHIOPIAN CLAIMS A PLACE AMONG THE JUST.
HIS FAITHFUL SOUL HAS FLED TO REALMS OF HEAVENLY LIGHT, AND BY THE BLOOD THAT JESUS SHED IS CHANGED FROM BLACK TO WHITE.
JAN. 15TH HE QUITTED THE STAGE IN THE 77TH YEAR OF HIS AGE.
Besides slaves, Indians, and help, a species of nexal servitude also existed in all the colonies. At the beginning of colonization bound or indentured white servants were sent in large numbers to the new land. Thirty came to the Bay Colony as early as 1625. Some of the terms of service were very long, even for ten years. These indentured servants were in three classes: "free-willers," or "redemptioners," or voluntary emigrants; "kids," who had been seduced through ignorance or duplicity on board ships that carried them off to America; and convicts transported for crime. The latter expatriated vagabonds were sent chiefly to Virginia. The "kids" were trapanned, by the fair promises of crimps or "spirits," in Scotland, Ireland, and England, where kidnapping formed an extensive and incredibly bold business. The Scots were brought over and sold at the time of English wars. At one time "Scots, Indians, and Negars" were not allowed to train in the militia in Massachusetts. Many curious and romantic stories are told of these kidnapped servants. One day, in 1730, a number of Boston gentlemen went to the Long Wharf to examine a cargo of Irish transports then offered for sale. Among the lads who ran up and down the wharf to show his strength and condition was one who had gone to sea on another ship. The captain, his uncle, died at sea, and the crew sold the boy to this transport-ship, which chanced to pass them. The boy faithfully served out his time to his purchaser, and became a gallant officer in the wars with the Indians.
These indentured servants were just as trying as the Indians and the negroes, and in particular showed a lawless disregard for their masters' property, an indifference to the authority of the weal-public, and a lazy disinclination to work; one writer describes them as "tender fingered in cold weather." The Mt. Wollaston lot that followed Morton to Merry Mount were but the forerunners of hundreds of others. The Bradstreets' servant, John, may be taken as a type of many refractory bound servants. He was brought to trial in 1661, for "stealing several things as pigges, capons, mault, bacon, butter, eggs, etc., and breaking open a seller door several times." John, when pulled up for trial, affirmed that he had really a very small appetite, but the food furnished by that colonial blue-stocking, Anne Bradstreet, was not fit to eat, the bread being black and heavy and sour, and he only took an occasional surreptitious bite to keep himself from starvation. But it was proved that he had feasted not only himself, but comrades, and that a neighbor, who had a "great fat Turkey against his daughter's marriage" hung up in a locked room, was relieved of it by the hungry and agile John, who got some of his fellows to let him down the chimney to steal the turkey and good store of beer, with which they all caroused; and he was fitly punished.
The laws were strict enough at first as to the behavior of servants, and occasionally a topping young maid felt their force. In Hartford, "Susan Coles for her rebellious cariedge towards her mistris is to be sent to the house of correction and be kept to hard labour and course dyet, to be brought forth the next Lecture Day to be publicquely corrected and so to be corrected weekly until Order be given to the contrary."
In York, Me., in 1645, "Alexander Maxwell for his grosse offence in his exorbitant and abusive carriages towards his master Mr. George Leader shall be publicly brought forth to the Whipping Post, where he shall be fastened till 30 lashes be given him upon his bare skin." Maxwell was ordered to satisfy his master for the money paid for his board in prison, and, if he further misbehaved, Mr. Leader could sell him to Virginia.
In later days New England housewives must have longed for the good old times of the whipping-post and coarse diet and hard work for disorderly and insubordinate redemptioners. Hear what gentle Mary Dudley endured with one of her maids. She had written many pathetic entreaties to her mother, Madam Winthrop, to send her a "good girle, a strong lusty servant," one "vsed to all kind of work who would refuse none," and we learn what she got, from a letter written a few months later, with a new-born babe by her side:
"A great affliction I have met withal by my maide servant and now I am like through God his mercie to be freed from it; at her first coming me she carried her selfe dutifully as became a servant; but since through mine and my husbands forbearance towards her for small faults, she hath got such a head and is growen so insolent that her carriage towards vs especialle myselfe is unsufferable. If I bid her doe a thinge she will bid me to doe it myselfe, and she sayes how she can give content as wel as any servant but shee will not, and sayes if I love not quietnes I was never so fitted in my life for she would make mee have enough of it. If I should write to you of all the reviling speeches and filthie language she hath vsed towards me I should but grieve you. My husband hath vsed all meanes for to reforme her, reasons and perswasions, but shee doth profess that her heart and her nature will not suffer her to confesse her faults. If I tell my husband of her behavior towards me, vpon examination she will denie all she hath done or spoken, so that we know not how to proceed against her."
We must not forget that the Winthrops had the best opportunity of any in the land to have good servants; for not only were help placed in their families, but the best of English servants were consigned to them; yet neither the Governor's sister, Madam Downing, nor his daughter, Madam Dudley, could be "suited." And hear the plaint of John Winthrop to his father in 1717:
"It is not convenient now to write the trouble and plague we have had with this Irish creature the year past. Lying and unfaithfull; w'd doe things on purpose in contradiction and vexation to her mistress; lye out of the house anights and have contrivances w'th fellows that have been stealing from o'r estate and gett drink out of ye cellar for them; saucy and impudent, as when we have taken her to task for her wickedness she has gone away to complain of cruell usage. I can truly say we have used this base creature w'th a great deal of kindness and lenity. She w'd frequently take her mistresses capps and stockins, hankerchers etc., to dresse herselfe and away without leave among her companions. I may have said some time or other when she has been in fault that she was fitt to live nowhere but in Virginia, and if she w'd not mend her ways I should send her thither tho I am sure nobody w'd give her passage thither to have her service for twenty yeares she is such a high-spirited pirnicious jade. Robin has been run away neare ten dayes as you will see by the inclosed and this creature know of his going and of his carrying out 4 dozen bottles of cyder, metheglin and palme wine out of the cellar among the servants of the town and meat and I know not w't. The bottles they broke and threw away after they had drunk up the liquor, and they got up o'r sheep anight, killed a fatt one, roasted and made merry w'th it before morning."
This wild Irish girl was indentured to the unfortunate Winthrop and his more unfortunate wife for four years, and was to have fifty shillings and some other start in the world when her time was up.
Out-of-the-way plantations fared no better in the question of service. John Wynter, the head agent of the settlement at Richmonds Island in Maine, wrote thus resentfully in 1639, to Mr. Trelawny, of the London company, of his maid, one Priscilla Beckford:
"You write of some yll reports is given of my Wyfe for beatinge the maide: yf a faire waye will not doe yt, beatinge must sometimes vppon such Idlle girrels as she is. Yf you think yt fitte for my Wyfe to do all the work, and the maide sitt still, and she must forbear her hands to strike, then the work will ly vndonn. She hath bin now 2-1/2 yeares in the house & I do not thinke she hath risen 20 tymes before my Wyfe hath bin vp to Call her, and many tymes light the fire before she comes out of her bed. She hath twice gone a mechinge in the woodes which we have bin fain to send all our Company to seek her. We can hardly keep her within doors after we are gonn to bed except we carry the kay of the door to bed with vs. She coulde never milke Cow nor Goate since she came hither. Our men do not desire to have her boyl the kittle for them she is so sluttish. She cannot be trusted to serve a few piggs but my Wyfe must commonly be with her. She hath written home I heare that she was fain to ly vppon goates skinns. She might take some goates skinns to ly in her bedd but not given to her for her lodginge. For a yeare & quarter or more she lay with my daughter vppon a good feather bed; before my daughter being lacke 3 or 4 days to Sacco the maid goes into bed with her cloths & stockins & would not take the paines to pluck off her Cloths; her bed after was a doust bedd & shee had 2 Coverletts to ly on her, but Sheets she had none, after that tyme she was found to be so sluttish. Her beatinge that she hath had hath never hurt her body nor limes. She is so fatt & soggy she can hardly do any worke. Yf this maide at her lazy tymes when she hath bin found in her yll accyons do not deserve 2 or 3 blowes I pray you who hath the most reason to complain my Wyfe or maide. My Wyfe hath an Vnthankefull office. Yt does not please me well, being she hath taken so much paines and care to order things as well as she could, and ryse in the morning rath & go to bed soe latte, and have hard speeches for yt."
We can well imagine his exhausted patience, and that of poor overworked Mistress Wynter, at that fat soggy thing, that lag-last, so shiftless and useless about the house, lazing from rath to latte, and then to complete their exasperation, miching off into the woods to shirk her work so that the whole company had to turn out with a mort of trouble to hunt for the leg-trape. We cannot marvel at the beating, but simply wonder at its being remarked in those days of many and hard beatings, when scholars, servants, soldiers, and college students were well whipped, and, in Old England, wives also.
Wynter had no better fortune without doors with his men-servants and workmen; they proved kittle cattle. He found them not "plyable" or "condishionabell," that they "spoke Fair to the Face and Colloged behind the back." Of one malcontent he wrote,
"He is verry vnwilling to do vs servize, he is alwaies too hard labored, he cares not what Spoyle he makes, and will not be commanded but when he list. He is such a talkinge Fellow as makes our company worse than would be."
He says his bound servants ran away at their pleasure, worked when they pleased, and led others off to their lure, and should be punished if they had returned to England. One only was "frace" of his ways and promised to do better. Not only do we gain from Wynter's letters a knowledge of the pains of colonial domestic service, but I know among New England historical collections no other such well of good old English words and phrases.
The Declaration of Independence did not better the aspect of the servant question. The Providence Gazette advertised in 1796 that a reward of five hundred dollars and the "warmest blessings of abused householders" would be given to any restoring the conditions of the good old times, or rather what they fancied was
"The constant service of the antique world When service sweat for duty not for meed."
The notice opens thus:
"Was mislaid or taken away by mistake, soon after the formation of the abolition society, from the servant girls in this town all inclination to do any kind of work, and left in lieu thereof an independent appearance, a strong and continued thirst for high wages, a gossiping disposition for every sort of amusement, a leering and hankering after persons of the other sex, a desire of finery and fashion, a never-ceasing trot after new places, more advantageous for stealing, with a number of contingent accomplishments that do not suit the wearers."
President Dwight wrote that the servants of that day were "distinguished for vice and profligacy;" so the nineteenth century opened no more promisingly than the eighteenth.
The pious colonists felt that great spiritual, as well as temporal responsibility rested upon them in regard to their bond-servants. We find in contemporary letters frequent reference to the souls of the indentured ones; Englishmen at the old home wrote to the settlers to remember well their religious, their proselyting duties; and they faithfully reminded each other of their accountability for souls. For instance, when a smart young Irishman came over with some Irish hounds, his consigner besought the New Englanders to remember that it was as godly to "winne this fellowes soule out of the subtillest snare of Sathan, Romes pollitick religion, as to winne an Indian soule out of the Dieuells clawes;" and he urged them to watch the Papist narrowly as to his carriage in Puritandom, his attitude toward Protestantism. This was the same religious zeal that led the Boston elders to send missionaries from New England to convert the heathen of the Established Church in Virginia.
The moral and religious condition of these servants was truly of great importance in the preservation of such a theocracy as was New England, since few of them returned to England, but after serving out their time became freemen with homes and land and votes of their own; and the commonwealth could not live as a religious organization unless it thrived through the religious spirit of its citizens.
One other form of domestic service existed until this century. A limited amount of assistance was given in some households by those unhappy wights, the town-poor. These wretched paupers were sold to the lowest bidder. Sometimes the buyer received but a few shillings a year from the town for the "keep" of one of these helpless souls. We may be sure that he got some work out of the pauper to pay for his board. We read of one old Dimbledee, of Widow Bump and Widow Bumpus, degenerate successors in name as well as in estate of the Pilgrim Bompasse, who were sold from year to year from one farm to another and given a grudged existence, till at last we find the town paying for their welcome coffins and winding sheets. Two curious facts are to be noted in the poor accounts: that the women paupers were almost invariably "very comfortable on it for clothes," as were other women of that dress-loving day; and that liquor was frequently supplied to both male and female paupers by the town. Sometimes ten gallons apiece, a very consoling amount, was given in a year. I have also noted the frequent presence on the poor-list of what are termed "French Neuterls." These were Acadians—the neighbors and compatriots of Evangeline—feeble folk, who, void of romance, succumbed in despair to exile and home-sickness, a new language and a new manner of living, and yielded weakly to work as servants when they had no courage to maintain homes. New England paupers lived to a good old age. I have been told that the unhappy fate of one of these town-poor—an Acadian—was traced for over thirty years in the town records of her sale. In 1767 there were twenty-one paupers in Danvers, Mass., and their average age was eighty-four years, thus apparently offering proof of good rum and good usage from the town. There was also an hereditary pauperism. In Salem a certain family always had some of its members on the list of town-poor from the year 1721 to 1848; and perhaps they found better homes through "living around" than in trying to support themselves.
Criminals were also sold into service to work out their sentences. Thus did the practical settlers attempt to carry out one of Sir Thomas More's Utopian notions. Upon the whole, I think I should rather have a Nipmuck squaw cooking in my kitchen, or a Pequot warrior digging in my garden, than to have a white burglar or ruffian in either situation.
It is well to observe in passing that no gingerly nicety of regard in calling those who served by any other name than servant, was shown or heeded in olden times. They believed with St. Paul, "Art thou called being a servant? Care not for it." All hired workers in the house, hired laborers in the field, those contracting to work under a master at any trade for a period of time, apprentices, and many whom we should now term agents or stewards, were then called servants, and signed contracts as servants, and did not appear at all insulted by being termed servants.
It is easy to gain a definite notion of the furnishing of colonial houses from a contemporary and reliable source—the inventories of the estates of the colonists. These are, of course, still preserved in court records. As it was customary in early days to enumerate with much minuteness the various articles of furniture contained in each room, instead of classifying or aggregating them, we have the outlines of a clear picture of the household belongings of that day.
The first room beyond the threshold of the door that one finds named in the houses "of the richer sort," is the entry. This was apparently always bare of furniture, and indeed well it might be, for it was seldom aught but a vestibule to the rest of the house, containing, save the staircase, but room enough to swing the front door in opening. Dr. Lyon gives the inventory of John Salmon of Boston in the year 1750 as the earliest record which he has found of the use of the word hall instead of entry, as we now employ it. In the Boston News Letter, thirty one years earlier, on August 24th, 1719, I find this advertisement: "Fine Glass Lamps & Lanthorns well gilt and painted both Convex and Plain. Being suitable for Halls, staircases, or other Passage ways, at the Glass Shop in Queen Street." This advertisement is, however, exceptional. The hall in Puritan houses was not a passageway, it was the living-room, the keeping-room, the dwelling-room, the sitting-room; in it the family sat and ate their meals—in, it they lived. Let us see what was the furniture of a Puritan home-room in early days, and what its value. The inventory of the possessions of Theophilus Eaton, Governor of the New Haven colony, is often quoted. At the time of his death, in 1657, he had in his hall,
"A drawing Table & a round table, L1.18s. A cubberd & 2 long formes, 14s. A cubberd cloth & cushions, 13s.; 4 setwork cushions, 12s. L1.5. 6 greene cushions, 12s; a greate chaire with needleworke, 13s. L1.5. 2 high chaires set work, 20s; 4 high stooles set worke, 26s 8d L6.6.8. 4 low chaires set worke, 6s 8d, L1.6.8. 2 low stooles set worke, 10s. 2 Turkey Carpette, L2; 6 high joyne stooles, 6s. L2.6. A pewter cistern & candlestick, 4s. A pr of great brass Andirons, 12s. A pr of small Andirons, 6s 8d. A pr of doggs, 2s 6d. A pr of tongues fire pan & bellowes, 7s."
Now, this was a very liberally furnished living-room. There were plenty of seats for diners and loungers, if Puritans ever lounged; two long forms and a dozen stools of various heights, with green or embroidered cushions, upon which to sit while at the Governor's board; and seven chairs, gay with needlework covers, to draw around his fireplace with its shining paraphernalia of various sized andirons, tongs, and bellows. The low, heavy-raftered room with these plentiful seats, the tables with their Turkey covers, the picturesque cupboard with its rich cloth, and its display of the Governor's silver plate, all aglow with the light of a great wood fire, make a pretty picture of comfortable simplicity, pleasant of contemplation in our bric-a-brac filled days, a fit setting for the figures of the Governor, "New England's glory full of warmth and light," and his dearest, greatest, best of temporal enjoyments, his "vertuous, prudent and prayerful wife."
Contemporary inventories make more clear and more positive still this picture of a planter's home-room, for similar furniture is found in all. All the halls had cisterns for water or for wine (and I fancy they stood on the small table usually mentioned); all had a table for serving meals; a majority had the cupboard; a few had "picktures" or "lookeing glasses;" very rarely a couch or "day-bed" was seen; some had "lanthorns" as well as candlesticks; others a spinning-wheel for the good wife, when she "keepit close the house and birlit at the wheel."
Chairs were a comparatively rare form of furniture in New England in early colonial days, nor were they frequently seen in humble English homes of that date. Stools and forms were the common seats. Turned, wainscot, and covered chairs are the three distinct types mentioned in the seventeenth century. Turned chairs are shown in good examples in what are known as the Carver and Brewster chairs, now preserved in Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth. The president's chair at Harvard College is another ancient turned chair.
The seats of many of these chairs were of flags and rushes. The bark of the elm and bass trees was also used for bottoming chairs.
The wainscot chairs were all of wood, seats as well as backs, usually of oak. They were frequently carved or panelled. One now in Pilgrim Hall is known as the Winslow chair. Another fine specimen in carved oak is in the Essex Institute in Salem. Carved chairs were owned only by persons of wealth or high standing, and were frequently covered with "redd lether" or "Rusha lether." Sometimes the leather was stamped and different rich fabrics were employed to cover the seats. "Turkey wrought" chairs are frequently mentioned. Velvet "Irish stitch," red cloth, and needlework covers are named. Green appeared to be, however, the favorite color.
Cane chairs appeared in the last quarter of the century. It is said that the use of cane was introduced into furniture with the marriage of Charles II. to Catharine of Braganza.
The bow-legged chair, often with claw and ball foot, came into use in the beginning of the eighteenth century. "Crowfoot" and "eaglesfoot" were named in inventories. These are copies of Dutch shapes.
Easy-chairs also appeared at that date, usually as part of the bedroom furniture, and were covered with the stuffs of which the bed-hangings and window-curtains were made, such as "China," "callico," "camblet," "harrateen."
The three-cornered chair, now known as an "As you like it" chair, appeared in the middle of the century under the names of triangle, round-about, and half-round chair.
The chairs known now as Chippendale may date back to the middle of the century; Windsor chairs, also known and manufactured in Philadelphia at that date, were not common in New England till a score of years later, when they were made and sold in vast numbers, being much more comfortable than the old bannister or slat-backed chairs then in common use.
Another piece of hall furniture deserves special mention. Dr. Lyon gives these names of cupboards found in New England: Cupboard, small cupboard, great cupboard, court cupboard, livery cupboard, side cupboard, hanging cupboard, sideboard cupboard, and cupboard with drawers. To this list might be added corner cupboard. The word court cupboard is found from the years 1647 to 1704. It was a high piece of furniture with an enclosed closet or drawers, originally intended to display plate, and was the highest-priced cupboard found. Upon it were set, in New England, both glass and plate. The livery cupboard, similar in its uses, seldom had an enclosed portion. "Turn pillar cuberds," painted and carved cupboards, were found. The item of cupboard in any inventory was usually accompanied by that of a cupboard cloth. This latter seemed to be the most elegant and luxurious article in the whole house. Cupboard cloths of holland, "laced," "pantado," "cambrick," "kalliko," "green wrought with silk fringe"—all are named. Cushions also, "to set upon a cubberds head," are frequently named. They were made of damask, needlework, velvet or cloth. A corner cupboard was apparently a small affair; a japanned one is named. What we now call a corner cupboard was then known as a beaufet.
The hall was naturally on one side of the entry and opening into it. On the other side, in large houses, was the parlor; this room was sometimes used as a dining-room, sometimes as a state bedroom. It frequently held, in addition to furniture like that of the hall, a chest or chests of drawers to hold the family linen, and also that family idol—the best bed.
Of the exact shape and height of the bedsteads used by the early colonists, I find no accurate nor very suggestive descriptions. The terms used in wills, inventories, and letters seem too vague and curt to give us a correct picture. What was the "half-headed bedstead" left with "Curtaince & Valance of Dornix" by will by Simon Eire in Boston in 1658? Or, to give a fuller description of a similar one in the sale of furniture of the King's Arms in Boston, in 1651, "one half-headed Bedsted with Blew Pillars." I fancy they were bedsteads with moderately high headboards. It is easy enough to obtain full items of the bed itself and the bed-furniture, its coverings and hangings. We read of "ffether beds," "flocke beds," "downe bedds," "wool beds," and even "charf beds," the latter worth but three shillings apiece, all of importance enough to be named in wills and left with as much dignity of bequest as Shakespeare's famous "second-best bed." Even so influential a man as Thomas Dudley did not disdain to leave by specification to his daughter Pacy a "ffeather beed & boulster." In 1666 Nicholas Upsall, of Boston, left a "Bedstead fitted with a Rope Matt & Curtains to it." In March, 1687, Sewall wrote to London for "White Fustian Drawn enough for curtains, vallen counterpaine for a bed & half a duz chaires with four threeded green worsted to work it." In 1691 we find him writing for "Fringe for the Fustian bed & half a duz Chairs. Six yards and a half for the vallons, fifteen yards for 6 chairs two Inches deep; 12 yards half inch deep." This wrought fustian bed was certainly handsome.
By revolutionary times we read such items as these: "Neet sette bed," "Very genteel red and white copperplate Cottonbed with Squab and Window Curtains Fring'd and made in the Newest Taste," "Sacken' & Corded Beds and a Pallat Bed," "Very Handsome Flower'd Crimson worsted damask carv'd and rais'd Teaster Bed & Curtains compleat," "A Four Post Bedstead of Mahogany on Casters with Carved Foot Posts, Callico Curtains to Ditto & Window Curtains to Match, and a Green Harrateen Cornish Bed." Harrateen, a strong, stiff woollen material, formed the most universal bed hanging. Trundle-beds or truckle-beds were used from the earliest days. So there was variety in plenty.
A form of bedstead called a slawbank was common enough in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania until this century. They were more rarely found in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and as I do not know what they were called in New England, we will give them the Dutch name slawbank, from sloap-bancke, a sleeping-bench. A slawbank was the prototype of our modern folding-bed. It was an oblong frame with a network of rope. This frame was fastened at one end to the wall with heavy hinges, and at night it was lowered to a horizontal position, and the unhinged end was supported on heavy wooden turned legs which fitted into sockets in the frame. When not in use the bed was hooked up against the wall, and doors like closet doors were closed over it, or curtains were drawn over it to conceal it. It was usually placed in the kitchen, and upon it slept goodman and goodwife. I know of several slawbanks still in old Narragansett, and one in a colonial house in Shrewsbury, Mass. A similar one may be seen at Deerfield Memorial Hall. It is hung around with blue serge curtains. I have seen no advertisements of slawbanks under any name in New England newspapers, unless the "bedstead in a painted press" in the Boston Gazette of November, 1750, may be one.
The bed furniture was of much importance in olden days, and the coverlet was frequently mentioned separately. Margaret Lake, of Ipswich, in 1662, so named a "Tapestry coverlet" worth L4. Susannah Compton had at about the same date a "Yearne Courlead." "Strieked couerlids" appear, and Adam Hunt, of Ipswich, had in 1671 "an embroadured couerled." "Happgings"—coarse common coverlets—are also named. In 1716, on September 24th, in the Boston News Letter, the word counterpane first appears. "India counterpins" often were advertised, and cheney, harrataen, and camlet coverlets or counterpanes were made to match the bed-hangings.
A pair of sheets was furnished in 1628 to each Massachusetts Bay colonist. This was a small allowance, but quite as full as the average possession of sheets by other colonists. Cotton sheets were not plentiful; flaxen or "fleishen" sheets, "canvas" sheets, "noggan" sheets, "towsheets," and "nimming" sheets (mentioned by Lechford in his note-book in 1640) were all of linen. Flannel sheets also were made, and may appear in inventories under the name of rugs, and thus partially explain the untidy absence, even among the possessions of wealthy citizens, of sheets. "Straken" sheets were of kersey. After spinning became fashionable, and flax was raised in more abundance, homespun sheets were made in large quantities, and owned by all respectable householders. "Twenty and one pair" was no unusual number to appear in an inventory.
There were plenty of "ffether boulsters," "shafe boulsters," "wool bolsters;" and John Walker had in 1659 a "Thurlinge Boulster," and each household had many pillows. The word bear was universally used to denote a pillow-case. It was spelled ber, beer, beir, beare and berr. In 1689 the value of a "peler-beare" in an inventory was given at three shillings. In 1664 Susannah Compton had linen "pillow coates." Pillow covers also were named, and pillow clothes, but pillow bear was the term most commonly applied.
The following list of varieties of chests is given by Dr. Lyon: Joined chests, wainscot chests, board chests, spruce chests, oak chests, carved chests, chests with one or two drawers, cypress chests. Joined and wainscot chests were framed chests with panels, distinguished clearly from the board chests, made of plain boards. The latter were often called plain chests, the former panel chests. Carved chests were much rarer. William Bradford, of Plymouth, had one in 1657 worth L1. Dr. Lyon also gives as possibly being carved these items: "wrought chest," "ingraved," "settworke," and "inlayed chests." Chests were also painted, usually on the parts in relief on the carving, the colors being generally black and red. Chests with drawers were not rare in New England. A good specimen may be seen in the rooms of the Connecticut Historical Society. They were distinct in shape from what we now call chests of drawers. Nearly all the oak chests were quartered to show the grain, and "drop ornaments" and "egg ornaments" of various woods were applied. Cypress and cedar chests were used then, as now, to protect garments from moths. Governor Bellingham had one of the former worth L5. Ship chests or sea chests were, of course, plentiful enough. Cristowell Gallup had in 1655 a "sea chest and a great white chest." These sea chests being made of cheap materials, have seldom been preserved. There would appear to be in addition to the various chests already named, a hanging chest. In 1737 Sir William Pepperell wrote to England for "4 dozen pair Snipe bills to hang small chissts." This may possibly refer to snipe-bill hinges to be placed on chests.
It is safe to infer that almost every emigrant brought to America among his household belongings at least one chest. It was of use as a travelling trunk, a packing-box, and a piece of furniture. Many colonists had several. Jane Humphreys had and named in her will "my little chest, my great old chest, my great new chest, my lesser small box, my biggest small box"—and she needed them all to hold her finery.
Chests also were made in New England. Pine was used in the backs and drawers of chests of New England make. English chests were wholly of oak.
In the Memorial Hall at Deerfield may be seen many fine specimens of old chests, forming, indeed, a complete series, showing the various shapes and ornamentations.
Another furnishing of the parlor was the scrutoire. Under the spellings scritoire, scredoar, screetor, scrittore, scriptore, scrutoir, scritory, scrutore, escrutor, scriptoree, this useful piece of furniture appears constantly in the inventories of men of wealth in the colonies from the year 1669 till a century later. Judge Sewall tells of losing the key of his "scrittoir." The definition of the word in Phillips's "New World of Words," 1696, was "Scrutoire, a sort of large Cabinet with several Boxes, and a place for Pen, Ink and Paper, the door of which opening downward and resting upon Frames that are to be drawn out and put back, serves for a Table to write on." This description would appear to identify the "scrutoire" with what we now call a writing-desk; and it was called interchangeably by these two names in wills. They were made with double bow fronts and box fronts, of oak, pine, mahogany, cherry; and some had cases of shelves for books on the top, forming what we now call a secretary—our modern rendering of the word scrutoire. These book scrutoires frequently had glass doors.
When Judith Sewall was about to be married, in 1720, her father was much pleased with his prospective son-in-law and evidently determined to give the pair a truly elegant wedding outfit. The list of the house-furnishings which he ordered from England has been preserved, and may be quoted as showing part of the "setting-off" in furniture of a rich bride of the day. It reads thus:
"Curtains & Vallens for a Bed with Counterpane Head Cloth and Tester made of good yellow waterd worsted camlet with Triming well made and Bases if it be the Fashion. Send also of the Same Camlet & Triming as may be enough to make Cushions for the Chamber Chairs.
"A good fine large Chintz Quilt well made.
"A true Looking Glass of Black Walnut Frame of the Newest Fashion if the Fashion be good, as good as can be bought for five or six pounds.
"A second Looking Glass as good as can be bought for four or five pounds, same kind of frame.
"A Duzen of good Black Walnut Chairs fine Cane with a Couch.
"A Duzen of Cane Chairs of a Different Figure and a great Chair for a Chamber; all black Walnut.
"One bell-metal Skillet of two Quarts, one ditto one Quart.
"One good large Warming Pan bottom and cover fit for an Iron handle.
"Four pair of strong Iron Dogs with Brass heads about 5 or 6 shillings a pair.
"A Brass Hearth for a Chamber with Dogs Shovel Tongs & Fender of the newest Fashion (the Fire is to ly upon Iron).
"A strong Brass Mortar That will hold about a Quart with a Pestle.
"Two pair of large Brass sliding Candlesticks about 4 shillings a Pair.
"Two pair of large Brass Candlesticks not sliding of the newest Fashion about 5 or 6 shillings a pair.
"Four Brass Snuffers with stands.
"Six small strong Brass Chafing dishes about 4 shillings apiece.
"One Brass basting Ladle; one larger Brass Ladle.
"One pair of Chamber Bellows with Brass Noses.
"One small hair Broom sutable to the Bellows.
"One Duzen of large hard-mettal Pewter Plates new fashion, weighing about fourteen pounds.
"One Duzen hard-mettal Pewter Porringers.
"Four Duzen of Small glass Salt Cellars of white glass; Smooth not wrought, and without a foot.
"A Duzen of good Ivory-hafted Knives and Forks."
The floors of colonial houses were sometimes sanded, but were not carpeted, for a carpet in early days was not a floor covering, but the covering of a table or cupboard. In 1646 an inquiry was made into some losses on the wreck of the "Angel Gabriel." A servant took oath that Mr. John Coggeswell "had a Turkywork'd Carpet in old England which he commonly used to lay on his Parlour Table; and this Carpet was put aboard among my Maisters goods and came safe ashore to the best of my Remembrance." Another man testified that he did "frequentlie see a Turkey-work Carpet & heard them say it used to lay upon their Parlour Table." Dornix, arras, cloth, calico, and broadcloth carpets are named. Sewall tells of an "Irish stitch't hanging made a carpet of." Samuel Danforth gave, in 1661, a "Convenient Carpet for the table of the meeting house." In 1735, in the advertisement of the estate of Jonathan Barnard, "one handsome Large Carpet 9 Foot 0 inches by 6 foot 6 inches" was named. This was, I fancy, a floor covering. In the Boston Gazette of November, 1748, "two large Matts for floors" were advertised—an exceptional instance in the use of the word mat. Large floor-carpets were advertised the following year, and in 1755 a "Variety of List Carpets wide & Narrow," and "Scotch Carpets for Stairs." In 1769 came "Persia Carpets 3 yards Wide." In 1772, in the Boston Evening Post, "A very Rich Wilton Carpet 18 ft by 13" was named. The following year "Painted Canvass Floor Cloth" was named. This was doubtless the "Oyl Cloth for Floors and Tables" of the year 1762. Oilcloth had been known in England a century previously. What the "False Carpets" advertised on June 7, 1762, were I do not know.
The walls of the rooms were wainscoted and painted. Gurdon Saltonstall had on the walls of some of his state-rooms leathern hangings or tapestries. We find wealthy Sir William Pepperel sending to England, in 1737, the draught of a chamber he was furnishing, and writing, "Geet mock Tapestry or paint'd Canvass lay'd in Oyls for ye same and send me." In 1734 "Paper for Rooms," and a little later "Rolled Paper for Hanging of Rooms" were advertised in the Boston News Letter. "Statues on Paper" were soon sold, and "Architraves on Roll Paper" and "Landscape Paper." These old paper-hangings were of very heavy and strong materials, close-grained, firm and durable. The rooms of a few wealthy men were hung with heavy tapestries. The ceilings usually exposed to view the great summer-tree and cross rafters, sometimes rough-hewn and still showing the marks of the woodman's axe. But little decoration was seen overhead, even in the form of chandeliers; sometimes a candle beam bore a score of candles, or in some fine houses, such as the Storer mansion in Boston, great ornamental globes of glass hung from the summer-tree.
In the first log cabins oiled paper was placed in windows. We find more than one colonist writing to England for that semi-opaque window-setting. Soon glass windows, framed in lead, were sent from London and Liverpool and Bristol, ready for insertion in the walls of houses; and at an early day sheets of glass came to Winthrop. We find, by Sewall's time, that the houses of well-to-do folk all had "quarrels of glass" set in windows.
The flight of time in New England houses was marked without doors by sun-dials; within, by noon-marks, hour-glasses, and rarely by clepsydras, or water-clocks.
The first mention, in New England records, of a clock is in Lechford's note-book. He states that in 1628 Joseph Stratton had of his brother a clock and watch, and that Joseph acknowledged this, but refused to pay for them and was sued for payment. Hence Lawyer Lechford's interest in the articles and mention of them. In 1640 Henry Parks, of Hartford, left a clock by will to the church. In the inventory of Thomas Coteymore, made in Charleston, in 1645, his clock is apprized at L1. In 1657 there was a town-clock in Boston and a man appointed to take care of it. In 1677 E. Needham, of Lynn, left a "striking clock, a Larum that does not strike and a watch," valued at L5—this in an estate of L1,117 total. Judge Sewall wrote, in 1687, "Got home rather before 12 Both by my Clock and Dial."
Clocks must have become rather plentiful in the early part of the following century, for in 1707 this advertisement appeared in the Boston News Letter:
"To all gentlemen and others: There is lately arrived in Boston by way of Pennsylvania a Clock maker. If any person or persons hath any occasions for new Clocks or to have Old Ones turn'd into Pendulums, or any other thing either in making or mending, they can go to the Sign of the Clock and Dial on the South Side of the Town House."
In 1712, in November, appeared in the News Letter the advertisement of a man who "performed all sorts of New Clocks and Watch works, viz: 30 hour Clocks, Week Clocks, Month Clocks, Spring Table Clocks, Chime Clocks, quarter Clocks, quarter Chime Clocks, Church Clocks, Terret Clocks;" and on April 16, 1716, this notice appeared: "Lately come from London. A Parcel of very Fine Clocks. They go a week and repeat the hour when Pull'd. In Japan Cases or Wall Nutt."
By this time, in the inventory or "enroulment" of the estate of any person of note, we always find a clock mentioned. Increase Mather left to his son Cotton "one Pendilum Clock." Soon appear Japann'd clocks and Pullup Clocks. In the New England Weekly Journal of October, 1732, the fourth prize in the Newport lottery was announced to be a clock worth L65. "A Handsome new Eight day Clock which shows the Moons Age, Strikes the Quarters on Six very Tunable Bells & is in a Good Japann'd Case in Imitation of Tortoise Shell & Gold."