We are apt to grow retrospectively sentimental over the delights, aesthetic and physical, of ancient stage-coach days. Those days are not so ancient as many fancy. The first stage-coach which ran directly from Philadelphia to New York in 1766—and primitive enough it was—was called "the flying-machine, a good stage-wagon set on springs." Its swift trip occupied two days in good weather. It was but a year later than the original stage-coach between Edinburgh and Glasgow. At that time, in favorable weather, the coach between London and Edinburgh made the trip in thirteen days. The London mail-coach in its palmiest days could make this trip in forty-three hours and a half. As early as 1718 Jonathan Wardwell advertised that he would run a stage to Rhode Island. In 1767 a stage-coach was run during the summer months between Boston and Providence; in 1770 a stage-chaise started between Salem and Boston and a post-chaise between Boston and Portsmouth the following year. As early as 1732 some common-carrier lines had wagons which would carry a few passengers. Let us hear the testimony of some travellers as to the glorious pleasure of stage-coach travelling. Describing a trip between Boston and New York towards the end of the last century President Quincy of Harvard College said:—
"The carriages were old and the shackling and much of the harness made of ropes. One pair of horses carried us eighteen miles. We generally reached our resting-place for the night if no accident intervened, at ten o'clock, and after a frugal supper went to bed, with a notice that we should be called at three next morning, which generally proved to be half-past two, and then, whether it snowed or rained, the traveller must rise and make ready, by the help of a horn-lantern and a farthing candle, and proceed on his way over bad roads, sometimes getting out to help the coachman lift the coach out of a quagmire or rut, and arrived in New York after a week's hard travelling, wondering at the ease as well as the expedition with which our journey was effected."
The Columbia Centinel of April 24, 1793, advertised a new line of "small genteel and easy stage-carriages" from Boston to New York with four inside passengers, and smart horses. Many of the announcements of the day have pictures of the coaches. They usually resemble market wagons with round, canvas-covered tops, and the driver is seated outside the body of the wagon with his feet on the foot-board. Trunks were small, covered with deerskin or pigskin, studded with brass nails; and each traveller took his trunk under his seat and feet.
The poet, Moore, gives in rhyme his testimony of Virginia roads in 1800:—
"Dear George, though every bone is aching After the shaking I've had this week over ruts and ridges, And bridges Made of a few uneasy planks, In open ranks, Over rivers of mud whose names alone Would make knock the knees of stoutest man."
The traveller Weld, in 1795, gave testimony that the bridges were so poor that the driver had always to stop and arrange the loose planks ere he dared cross, and he adds:—
"The driver frequently had to call to the passengers in the stage to lean out of the carriage first on one side then on the other, to prevent it from oversetting in the deep roads with which the road abounds. 'Now, gentlemen, to the right,' upon which the passengers all stretched their bodies half-way out of the carriage to balance on that side. 'Now, gentlemen, to the left,' and so on."
The coach in which this pleasure trip was taken is shown in the illustration entitled "American Stage-wagon." It is copied from a first edition of Weld's Travels.
Ann Warder, in her journey from Philadelphia to New York in 1759, notes two overturned and abandoned stage-wagons at Perth Amboy; and many other travellers give similar testimony. In 1796 the trip from Philadelphia to Baltimore took five days.
The growth in stage-coaches and travel came with the turnpike at the beginning of this century. In transportation and travel, improvement of roadways is ever associated with improvement of vehicles. The first extensive turnpike was the one between Philadelphia and Lancaster, built in 1792. The growth and the cost of these roads may be briefly mentioned by quoting a statement from the annual message of the governor of Pennsylvania in 1838, that that commonwealth then had two thousand five hundred miles of turnpikes which had cost $37,000,000.
Many of these turnpikes were beautiful and splendid roads; for instance, the "Mohawk and Hudson Turnpike," which ran in a straight line from Albany to Schenectady, was ornamented and shaded with two rows of the quickly growing and fashionable poplar-trees and thickly punctuated with taverns. On one turnpike there were sixty-five taverns in sixty miles. The dashing stage-coach accorded well with this fine thoroughfare.
With the splendid turnpikes came the glorious coaching days. In 1827 the Traveller's Register reported eight hundred stage-coaches arriving, and as many leaving Boston each week. The forty-mile road from Boston to Providence sometimes saw twenty coaches going each way. The editor of the Providence Gazette wrote: "We were rattled from Boston to Providence in four hours and fifty minutes—if any one wants to go faster he may go to Kentucky and charter a streak of lightning." There were four rival lines on the Cumberland road,—the National, Good Intent, Pioneer, and June Bug. Some spirited races the old stage-road witnessed between the rival lines. The distance from Wheeling to Cumberland, one hundred and thirty-two miles, was regularly accomplished in twenty-four hours. No heavy luggage was carried and but nine passengers; fourteen coaches rolled off together—one was a mail-coach with a horn. Relays were every ten miles; teams were changed before the coach ceased rocking; one driver boasted of changing and harnessing his four horses in four minutes. Lady travellers were quickly thrust in the open door and their bandboxes after them. Scant time was there for refreshment, save by uncorking of bottles. The keen test and acute rivalry between drivers came in the delivery of the President's Message. Dan Gordon carried the message thirty-two miles in two hours and thirty minutes, changing horses three times. Bill Noble carried the message from Wheeling to Hagerstown, a hundred and eighty-five miles, in fifteen and a half hours.
In 1818 the Eastern Stage Company was chartered in the state of New Hampshire. The route was this: a stage started from Portsmouth at 9 A.M.; passengers dined at Topsfield; thence through Danvers and Salem; back the following day, dining at Newburyport. The capital stock was four hundred and twenty-five shares at a hundred dollars par. In 1834 the stock was worth two hundred dollars a share. The company owned several hundred horses. It was on a coach of this line that Henry Clay rode from Pleasant Street, Salem, to Tremont House, Boston, in exactly an hour; and on the route extended to Portland, Daniel Webster was carried at the rate of sixteen English miles an hour from Boston to Portland to sign the Ashburton Treaty.
The middle of the century saw the beginning of the end of coaching in all the states that had been colonies. Further west the old stage-coach had to trundle in order to exist at all: Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, across the plains, and then over the Rocky Mountains to Salt Lake. The road from Carson to Plainville gave the crack ride, and the driver wore yellow kid gloves. The coach known as the Concord wagon, drawn by six horses, still makes cheerful the out-of-the-way roads of our Western states, and recalls the life of olden times. The story of spirited and gay life still exists in the Wells Fargo Express. The usefulness of the Concord coach is not limited to the western nor the northern portion of our continent; in South America it flourishes, banishing all rivals.
Canal travel and transportation were proposed at the close of provincial days, and a few short canals were built. Benjamin Franklin was early awake to their practicability and value. Among the stock-owners of the Dismal Swamp Canal was George Washington, and he was equally interested in the Potomac Canal.
The Erie Canal, first proposed to the New York legislature in 1768, was completed in 1825. There was considerable passenger travel on this canal at "a cent and a half a mile, a mile and a half an hour." Horace Greeley has given an excellent picture of this leisurely travel; it was asserted by some that stage-coaches were doomed by the canal-boat, but they continued to exist till they encountered a more formidable rival.
Until turnpike days all small carriages were two-wheeled; chaises, chairs, and sulkies were those generally used. The chaise and harness used by Jonathan Trumbull—"Brother Jonathan"—are here shown. With regard to private conveyances, whether coaches, chaises, or chairs, the colonies kept close step from earliest days with the mother-countries. Randolph noted with envy the Boston coaches of the seventeenth century. Parson Thatcher was accused and reprehended in 1675 for making visits with a coach and four. Coaches were taxed both in England and America; so we know exactly how plentiful they were. There were as many in Massachusetts in 1750 in proportion to the number of inhabitants as there were in England in 1830. Judge Sewall's diary often refers to private coaches; and one of the most amusing scenes it depicts is his continued and ingenious argument when wooing Madam Winthrop for his third wife, when she stipulated that he should keep a coach, and his frugal mind disposed him not to do it.
Coach-building prospered in the colonies; Lucas and Paddock in Boston, Ross in New York, made beautiful and rich coaches. Materials were ample and varied in the New World for carriage-building; horseflesh—not over-choice, to be sure—became over-plentiful; it was said that no man ever walked in America save a vagabond or a fool. A coach made for Madam Angelica Campbell of Schenectady, New York, by coach-builder Ross, in 1790, is here shown. It is now owned by Mr. John D. Campbell of Rotterdam, New York.
Sleighs were common in New York a half-century before they were in Boston. Madam Knights noted the fast racing in sleighs in New York when she was there in 1704.
One other curious conveyance of colonial days should be spoken of,—a sedan-chair. This was a strong covered chair fastened on two bars with handles like a litter, and might be carried by two or four persons. When sedan-chairs were so much used in England, they were sure to be somewhat used in cities in America. One was presented to Governor Winthrop as early as 1646, portion of a capture from a Spanish galleon. Judge Sewall wrote in 1706, "Five Indians carried Mr. Bromfield in a chair." This was in the country, down on Cape Cod, and doubtless four Indians carried him while one rested. As late as 1789 Eliza Quincy saw Dr. Franklin riding in a sedan-chair in Philadelphia.
The establishment and building of roads, bridges, and opening of inns show that mutual interest which marks civilization, and separates us from the lonely, selfish life of a savage. Soon inns were found everywhere in the Northern colonies. In New England, New York, and Pennsylvania an inn was called an ordinary, a victualling, a cook-shop, or a tavern before we had our modern word hotel.
Board was not very high at early inns; the prices were regulated by the different towns. In 1633 the Salem innkeeper could only have sixpence for a meal. This was at the famous Anchor Tavern, which was kept as a hostelry for nearly two centuries. At the Ship Tavern, board, lodging, wine at dinner, and beer between meals cost three shillings a day. Great care was taken by the magistrates to choose responsible men and women to keep taverns, and they would not permit too many taverns in one town. At first the tavern-keeper could not sell sack (which was sherry), nor stronger intoxicating liquor to travellers, but he could sell beer, provided it was good, for a penny a quart. Nor could he sell cakes or buns except at a wedding or funeral. He could not allow games to be played, nor singing or dancing to take place.
We know from Shakespeare's plays that the different rooms in English inns had names. This was also the custom in New England. The Star Chamber, Rose and Sun Chamber, Blue Chamber, Jerusalem Chamber, were some of them. Many of the taverns of Revolutionary days and some of colonial times are still standing. A few have even been taverns since first built; others have served many other uses. A well-preserved old house, built in 1690 in Sudbury, Massachusetts, was originally known as the Red Horse Tavern, but has acquired greater fame as the Wayside Inn of Longfellow's Tales. Its tap-room with raftered ceiling and cage-like bar with swinging gate is a picturesque room, and is one of the few old tap-rooms left unaltered in New England.
Every inn had a name, usually painted on its swinging sign-board, with some significant emblem. These names were simply repetitions of old English tavern-signs until Revolutionary days, when patriotic landlords eagerly invented and adopted names significant of the new nation. The scarlet coat of King George became the blue and buff of George Washington; and the eagle of the United States took the place of the British lion.
The sign-board was an interesting survival of feudal times, and with its old-time carved and forged companions, such as vanes and weathercocks, doorknockers and figureheads, formed a picturesque element of decoration and symbolism. Many chapters might be written on historic, commemorative, emblematic, heraldic, biblical, humorous, or significant signs, nearly all of which have vanished from public gaze, as has disappeared also the general incapacity to read, which made pictorial devices a necessity. Gilders, painter-stainers, smiths, and joiners all helped to make the tavern-sign a thing of varied workmanship if not of art. It is said that Philadelphia excelled in the quantity and quality of her sign-boards. With fair roads for colonial days, the best and amplest system of transportation, and the splendid Conestoga wagons, great inns multiplied throughout Pennsylvania. In Baltimore both taverns and signs were many and varied, from the Three Loggerheads to the Indian Queen with its "two hundred guest-rooms with a bell in every room," and the Fountain Inn built around a shady court, with galleries on every story, like the Tabard Inn at Southwark.
The swinging sign-board of John Nash's Tavern at Amherst, Massachusetts, is here reproduced from the History of Amherst. It is a good type of the ordinary sign-board which was found hanging in front of every tavern a century ago.
In Virginia and the Carolinas taverns were not so plentiful nor so necessary; for a traveller might ride from Maryland to Georgia, and be sure of a welcome at every private house on the way. Some planters, eager for company and news, stationed negroes at the gate to invite passers-by on the post-road to come into the house and be entertained. Berkeley, in his History of Virginia, wrote:—
"The inhabitants are very courteous to travellers, who need no other recommendation than being human creatures. A stranger has no more to do but to inquire upon the road where any gentleman or good housekeeper lives, and then he may depend upon being received with hospitality. This good-nature is so general among their people, that the gentry, when they go abroad, order their principal servants to entertain all visitors with everything the plantation affords; and the poor planters who have but one bed, will often sit up, or lie upon a form or couch all night, to make room for a weary traveller to repose himself after his journey."
So universal was this custom of free entertainment that it was a law in Virginia that unless there had been a distinct agreement to pay for board and shelter, no pay could be claimed from any guest, no matter how long he remained. In the few taverns that existed prices were low, about a shilling a dinner; and it was ordered that the meal must be wholesome and good.
The governor of New Netherlands at first entertained all visitors to New Amsterdam at his house in the fort. But as commerce increased he found this hospitality burdensome, and a Harberg or tavern was built; it was later used as a city hall.
In England throughout the seventeenth century, and indeed much later, traversing the great cities by night was a matter of some danger. The streets were ill-lighted, were full of holes and mud and filth, and were infested with thieves. Worse still, groups of drunken and dissipated young men of wealth, calling themselves Mohocks, Scourers, and other names, roamed the dark streets armed with swords and bludgeons, assaulting, tormenting, and injuring every one whom they met, who had the ill fortune to be abroad at night.
There was nothing of that sort known in American cities; there was little noise or roistering, no highway robbery, comparatively little petty stealing. The streets were ill-paved and dirty, but not foul with the accumulated dirt of centuries as in London. The streets in nearly all cities were unlighted. In 1697 New Yorkers were ordered to have a lantern and candle hung out on a pole from every seventh house. And as the watchman walked around he called out, "Lanthorn, and a whole candell-light. Hang out your lights." The watchman was called a rattle-watch, and carried a long staff and a lantern and a large rattle or klopper, which he struck to frighten away thieves. And all night long he called out each hour, and told the weather. For instance, he called out, "Past midnight, and all's well"; "One o'clock and fair winds," or "Five o'clock and cloudy skies." Thus one could lie safe in bed and if he chanced to waken could know that the friendly rattle-watch was near at hand, and what was the weather and the time of night. In 1658 New York had in all ten watchmen, who were like our modern police; to-day it has many thousands.
In New England the constables and watch were all carefully appointed by law. They carried black staves six feet long, tipped with brass, and hence were called tipstaves. The night watch was called a bell-man. He looked out for fire and thieves and other disorders, and called the time of the night, and the weather. The pay was small, often but a shilling a night, and occasionally a "coat of kersey." In large towns, as Boston and Salem, thirteen "sober, honest men and householders" were the night watch. The highest in the community, even the magistrates, took their turn at the watch, and were ordered to walk two together, a young man with "one of the soberer sort."
SUNDAY IN THE COLONIES
The first building used as a church at the Plymouth colony was the fort, and to it the Pilgrim fathers and mothers and children walked on Sunday reverently and gravely, three in a row, the men fully armed with swords and guns, till they built a meeting-house in 1648. In other New England settlements, the first services were held in tents, under trees, or under any shelter. The settler who had a roomy house often had also the meeting. The first Boston meeting-house had mud walls, a thatched roof, and earthen floor. It was used till 1640, and some very thrilling and inspiring scenes were enacted within its humble walls. Usually the earliest meeting-houses were log houses, with clay-filled chinks, and roofs thatched with reeds and long grass, like the dwelling-houses. At Salem is still preserved one of the early churches. The second and more dignified form of New England meeting-house was usually a square wooden building with a truncated pyramidal roof, surmounted often with a belfry, which served as a lookout station and held a bell, from which the bell-rope hung down to the floor in the centre of the church aisle. The old church at Hingham, Massachusetts, still standing and still used, is a good specimen of this shape. It was built in 1681, and is known as the "Old Ship," and is a comely and dignified building. As more elegant and costly dwelling-houses were built, so were better meeting-houses; and the third form with lofty wooden steeple at one end, in the style of architecture invented by Sir Christopher Wren, after the great fire of London, multiplied and increased until every town was graced with an example. In all these the main body of the edifice remained as bare, prosaic, and undecorated as were the preceding churches, while all the ambition of both builders and congregation spent itself in the steeple. These were so varied and at times so beautiful that a chapter might be written on New England steeples. The Old South Church of Boston is a good example of this school of ecclesiastical architecture, and is a well-known historic building as well.
The earliest meeting-houses had oiled paper in the windows, and when glass came it was not set with putty, but was nailed in. The windows had what were termed "heavy current side-shutters." The outside of the meeting-house was not "colored," or "stained" as it was then termed, but was left to turn gray and weather-stained, and sometimes moss-covered with the dampness of the great shadowing hemlock and fir trees which were usually planted around New England churches. The first meeting-houses were often decorated in a very singular and grotesque manner. Rewards were paid by all the early towns for killing wolves; and any person who killed a wolf brought the head to the meeting-house and nailed it to the outer wall; the fierce grinning heads and splashes of blood made a grim and horrible decoration. All kinds of notices were also nailed to the meeting-house door where all of the congregation might readily see them,—notices of town-meetings, of sales of cattle or farms, lists of town-officers, prohibitions from selling guns to the Indians, notices of intended marriages, vendues, etc. It was the only meeting-place, the only method of advertisement. In front of the church was usually a row of stepping-stones or horse-blocks, for nearly all came on horseback; and often on the meeting-house green stood the stocks, pillory, and whipping-post.
A verse from an old-fashioned hymn reads thus:
"New England's Sabbath day Is heaven-like, still, and pure, When Israel walks the way Up to the temple's door. The time we tell When there to come, By beat of drum, Or sounding shell."
The first church at Jamestown, Virginia, gathered the congregation by beat of drum; but while attendants of the Episcopal, Roman Catholic, and Dutch Reformed churches in the New World were in general being summoned to divine service by the ringing of a bell hung either over the church or in the branches of a tree by its side, New England Puritans were summoned, as the hymn relates, by drum, or horn, or shell. The shell was a great conch-shell, and a man was hired to blow it—a mournful sound—at the proper time, which was usually nine o'clock in the morning. In Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the church-shell was afterwards used for many years as a signal to begin and stop work in the haying field. In Windsor, Connecticut, a man walked up and down on a platform on the top of the meeting-house and blew a trumpet to summon worshippers. Many churches had a church drummer, who stood on the roof or in the belfry and drummed; a few raised a flag as a summons, or fired a gun.
Within the meeting-house all was simple enough: raftered walls, puncheon and sanded or earthen floors, rows of benches, a few pews, all of unpainted wood, and a pulpit which was usually a high desk overhung by a heavy sounding-board, which was fastened to the roof by a slender metal rod. The pulpit was sometimes called a scaffold. When pews were built they were square, with high partition walls, and had narrow, uncomfortable seats round three sides. The word was always spelled "pue"; and they were sometimes called "pits." A little girl in the middle of this century attended a service in an old church which still retained the old-fashioned square pews; she exclaimed, in a loud voice, "What! must I be shut in a closet and sit on a shelf?" These narrow, shelf-like seats were usually hung on hinges and could be turned up against the pew-walls during the long psalm-tunes and prayers; so the members of the congregation could lean against the pew-walls for support as they stood. When the seats were let down, they fell with a heavy slam that could be heard half a mile away in the summer time, when the windows of the meeting-house were open. Lines from an old poem read:—
"And when at last the loud Amen Fell from aloft, how quickly then The seats came down with heavy rattle, Like musketry in fiercest battle."
A few of the old-time meeting-houses, with high pulpit, square pews, and deacons' seats, still remain in New England. The interior of the Rocky Hill meeting-house at Salisbury, Massachusetts, is here shown. It fully illustrates the words of the poet:—
"Old house of Puritanic wood Through whose unpainted windows streamed On seats as primitive and rude As Jacob's pillow when he dreamed, The white and undiluted day—"
The seats were carefully and thoughtfully assigned by a church committee called the Seating Committee, the best seats being given to older persons of wealth and dignity who attended the church. Whittier wrote of this custom:—
"In the goodly house of worship, where in order due and fit, As by public vote directed, classed and ranked the people sit. Mistress first and good wife after, clerkly squire before the clown, From the brave coat lace-embroidered to the gray coat shading down."
Many of the plans for "seating the meeting-house" have been preserved; the pews and their assigned occupants are clearly designated. A copy is shown of one now in Deerfield Memorial Hall.
In the early meeting-houses men and women sat on separate sides of the meeting-house, as in Quaker meetings till our own time. Sometimes a group of young women or of young men were permitted to sit in the gallery together. Little girls sat beside their mothers or on footstools at their feet, or sometimes on the gallery stairs; and I have heard of a little cage or frame to hold Puritan babies in meeting. Boys did not sit with their families, but were in groups by themselves, usually on the pulpit and gallery stairs, where tithing-men watched over them. In Salem, in 1676, it was ordered by the town that "all ye boyes of ye towne are appointed to sitt upon ye three paire of stairs in ye meeting-house, and Wm. Lord is appointed to look after ye boys upon ye pulpitt stairs."
In Stratford the tithing-man was ordered to "watch over youths of disorderly carriage, and see they behave themselves comelie, and use such raps and blows as is in his discretion meet." In Durham any misbehaving boy was punished publicly after the service was over. We would nowadays scarcely seat twenty or thirty active boys together in church if we wished them to be models of attention and dignified behavior; but after the boys' seats were removed from the pulpit stairs they were all turned in together in a "boys' pew" in the gallery. There was a boys' pew in Windsor, Connecticut, as late as 1845, and pretty noisy it usually was. A certain small boy in Connecticut misbehaved himself on Sunday, and his wickedness was specified by the justice of peace as follows:—
"A Rude and Idel Behaver in the meeting hous. Such as Smiling and Larfing and Intiseing others to the Same Evil. Such as Larfing or Smiling or puling the hair of his nayber Benoni Simkins in the time of Publick Worship. Such as throwing Sister Penticost Perkins on the Ice, it being Saboth day, between the meeting hous and his plaes of abode."
I can picture well the wicked scene; poor, meek little Benoni Simpkins trying to behave well in meeting, and not cry out when the young "wanton gospeller" pulled her hair, and unfortunate Sister Perkins tripped up on the ice by the young rascal.
Another vain youth in Andover, Massachusetts, was brought up before the magistrate, and it was charged that he "sported and played, and by Indecent gestures and wry faces caused laughter and misbehavior in the beholders." The girls were just as wicked; they slammed down the pew-seats. Tabatha Morgus of Norwich "prophaned the Lord's daye" by her "rude and indecent behavior in Laughing and playing in ye tyme of service." On Long Island godless boys "ran raesses" on the Sabbath and "talked of vane things," and as for Albany children, they played hookey and coasted down hill on Sunday to the scandal of every one evidently, except their parents. When the boys were separated and families sat in pews together, all became orderly in meeting.
The deacons sat in a "Deacons' Pue" just in front of the pulpit; sometimes also there was a "Deaf Pue" in front for those who were hard of hearing. After choirs were established the singers' seats were usually in the gallery; and high up under the beams in a loft sat the negroes and Indians.
If any person seated himself in any place which was not assigned to him, he had to pay a fine, usually of several shillings, for each offence. But in old Newbury men were fined as high as twenty-seven pounds each for persistent and unruly sitting in seats belonging to other members.
The churches were all unheated. Few had stoves until the middle of this century. The chill of the damp buildings, never heated from autumn to spring, and closed and dark throughout the week, was hard for every one to bear. In some of the early log-built meeting-houses, fur bags made of wolfskins were nailed to the seats; and in winter church attendants thrust their feet into them. Dogs, too, were permitted to enter the meeting-house and lie on their masters' feet. Dog-whippers or dog-pelters were appointed to control and expel them when they became unruly or unbearable. Women and children usually carried foot-stoves, which were little pierced metal boxes that stood on wooden legs, and held hot coals. During the noon intermission the half-frozen church attendants went to a neighboring house or tavern, or to a noon-house to get warm. A noon-house or "Sabba-day house," as it was often called, was a long low building built near the meeting-house, with horse-stalls at one end and a chimney at the other. In it the farmers kept, says one church record, "their duds and horses." A great fire of logs was built there each Sunday, and before its cheerful blaze noonday luncheons of brown bread, doughnuts, or gingerbread were eaten, and foot-stoves were filled. Boys and girls were not permitted to indulge in idle talk in those noon-houses, much less to play. Often two or three families built a noon-house together, or the church built a "Society-house," and there the children had a sermon read to them by a deacon during the "nooning"; sometimes the children had to explain aloud the notes they had taken during the sermon in the morning. Thus they throve, as a minister wrote, on the "Good Fare of brown Bread and the Gospel." There was no nearer approach to a Sunday-school until this century.
The services were not shortened because the churches were uncomfortable. By the side of the pulpit stood a brass-bound hour-glass which was turned by the tithing-man or clerk, but it did not hasten the closing of the sermon. Sermons two or three hours long were customary, and prayers from one to two hours in length. When the first church in Woburn was dedicated, the minister preached a sermon nearly five hours long. A Dutch traveller recorded a prayer four hours long on a Fast Day. Many prayers were two hours long. The doors were closed and watched by the tithing-man, and none could leave even if tired or restless unless with good excuse. The singing of the psalms was tedious and unmusical, just as it was in churches of all denominations both in America and England at that date. Singing was by ear and very uncertain, and the congregation had no notes, and many had no psalm-books, and hence no words. So the psalms were "lined" or "deaconed"; that is, a line was read by the deacon, and then sung by the congregation. Some psalms when lined and sung occupied half an hour, during which the congregation stood. There were but eight or nine tunes in general use, and even these were often sung incorrectly. There were no church organs to help keep the singers together, but sometimes pitch-pipes were used to set the key. Bass-viols, clarionets, and flutes were played upon at a later date in meeting to help the singing. Violins were too associated with dance music to be thought decorous for church music. Still the New England churches clung to and loved their poor confused psalm-singing as one of their few delights, and whenever a Puritan, even in road or field, heard the distant sound of a psalm-tune he removed his hat and bowed his head in prayer.
Contributions at first were not collected by the deacons, but the entire congregation, one after another, walked up to the deacons' seat and placed gifts of money, goods, wampum, or promissory notes in a box. When the services were ended, all remained in the pews until the minister and his wife had walked up the aisle and out of the church.
The strict observance of Sunday as a holy day was one of the characteristics of the Puritans. Any profanation of the day was severely punished by fine or whipping. Citizens were forbidden to fish, shoot, sail, row, dance, jump, or ride, save to and from church, or to perform any work on the farm. An infinite number of examples might be given to show how rigidly the laws were enforced. The use of tobacco was forbidden near the meeting-house. These laws were held to extend from sunset on Saturday to sunset on Sunday; for in the first instructions given to Governor Endicott by the company in England, it was ordered that all in the colony cease work at three o'clock in the afternoon on Saturday. The Puritans found support of this belief in the Scriptural words, "The evening and the morning were the first day."
A Sabbath day in the family of Rev. John Cotton was thus described by one of his fellow-ministers:—
"He began the Sabbath at evening, therefore then performed family duty after supper, being longer than ordinary in exposition. After which he catechized his children and servants, and then returned to his study. The morning following, family worship being ended, he retired into his study until the bell called him away. Upon his return from meeting (where he had preached and prayed some hours), he returned again into his study (the place of his labor and prayer), unto his favorite devotion; where having a small repast carried him up for his dinner, he continued until the tolling of the bell. The public service of the afternoon being over, he withdrew for a space to his pre-mentioned oratory for his sacred addresses to God, as in the forenoon, then came down, repeated the sermon in the family, prayed, after supper sang a Psalm, and toward bedtime betaking himself again to his study he closed the day with prayer. Thus he spent the Sabbath continually."
The Virginia Cavaliers were strict Church of England men and the first who came to the colony were strict Sunday-keepers. Rules were laid down to enforce Sunday observance. Journeys were forbidden, boat-lading was prohibited, also all profanation of the day by sports, such as shooting, fishing, game-playing, etc. The offender who broke the Sabbath laws had to pay a fine and be set in the stocks. When that sturdy watch-dog of religion and government—Sir Thomas Dale—came over, he declared absence from church should be punishable by death; but this severity never was executed. The captain of the watch was made to play the same part as the New England tithing-man. Every Sunday, half an hour before service-time, at the last tolling of the bell, the captain stationed sentinels, then searched all the houses and commanded and forced all (except the sick) to go to church. Then, when all were driven churchwards before him, he went with his guards to church himself.
Captain John Smith, in his Pathway to erect a Plantation, thus vividly described the first places of divine worship in Virginia:—
"Wee did hang an awning, which is an old saile, to three or foure trees to shadow us from the Sunne; our walls were railes of wood; our seats unhewed trees till we cut plankes; our Pulpit a bar of wood nailed to two neighbouring trees. In foul weather we shifted into an old rotten tent; this came by way of adventure for new. This was our Church till we built a homely thing like a barne set upon Cratchets, covered with rafts, sedge, and earth; so also was the walls; the best of our houses were of like curiosity, that could neither well defend from wind nor rain.
"Yet we had daily Common Prayer morning and evening; every Sunday two sermons; and every three months a holy Communion till our Minister died: but our Prayers daily with an Homily on Sundays we continued two or three years after, till more Preachers came."
A timber church sixty feet long took the place of this mud and clay chapel, and this was in turn replaced by the brick one whose ruined arches are still standing. The wooden church saw the most pompous ceremony of the day when the governor, De La Warre, or Delaware as we now call it, in full dress, attended by all his councillors and officers and fifty halbert-bearers in scarlet cloaks, filed within its flower-decked walls.
This decoration of flowers was significant of the difference between the church edifices of the Puritans and of the Cavaliers. The churches of the Southern colonies were, as a rule, much more richly furnished. Many were modelled in shape after the old English churches and were built of stone, though Jonathan Boucher, the colonial clergyman, could write that the greater number of the Southern churches were, at the time of the Revolution, "composed of wood, without spires, or towers or steeples or bells, placed in retired and solitary spots and contiguous to springs or wells." Many of the churches and the chapels-of-ease stood by the waterside, and to the services came the church attendants in canoes, periaugers, dugouts, etc. It made an animated scene upon the water, as the boats came rowing in and as they departed after the service.
Sometimes the seats were comfortably cushioned, and they were carefully assigned as in the Puritan meetings. In some Virginia churches seats in the galleries were deemed the most dignified. There was a pew for the magistrates, another for the magistrates' ladies; pews for the representatives and church-wardens, vestrymen, etc. Persons crowded into pews above their stations, just as in New England, and were promptly displaced. Groups of men built pews together, and there were schoolboys' galleries and pews.
The first clergyman in Virginia, Robert Hunt, a true man of God, came as a missionary, and he and others were men of marked intellect and religion, but in the eighteenth century the pay was too small and uncertain to attract any great men from the Church of England, and church attendance dwindled and became irregular. For in Virginia the parish was expected to receive any clergyman sent them from England, a rule which often proved unsatisfactory; and deservedly so, since some very disreputable offshoots of English families were thrust upon the Virginia churches. In the Carolinas, where the church chose its own clergyman, harmony and affection prevailed in the parishes as it did among the New England Puritans. Though the Virginians did not always love their clergymen, still they were ever steadfast in their affection to their church, and regarded it as the only church.
Sunday was not observed with as much rigidity in New Netherland as in New England, but strict rules and laws were made for enforcing quiet during service-time. Fishing, gathering berries or nuts, playing in the streets, working, going on pleasure trips, all were forbidden. On Long Island shooting of wild fowl, carting of grain, travelling for pleasure, all were punished. In Revolutionary times a cage was set up in City Hall Park, near the present New York Post-office, in which boys were confined who did not properly regard the Sabbath.
Before the Dutch settlers had any churches or domines, as they called their ministers, they had krankbesoeckers, or visitors of the sick, who read sermons to an assembled congregation every Sunday. The first church at Albany was much like the Plymouth fort, simply a blockhouse with loop-holes through which guns could be fired. The roof was mounted with three cannon. It had a seat for the magistrates and one for the deacons, and a handsome octagonal pulpit which had been sent from Holland, and which still exists. The edifice had a chandelier and candle sconces and two low galleries. The first church in New Amsterdam was of stone, and was seventy-two feet long.
A favorite form of the Dutch churches was six or eight sided, with a high pyramidal roof, topped with a belfry and a weather-vane. Usually the windows were so small and of glass so opaque that the church was very dark. A few of the churches were poorly heated with high stoves perched up on pillars, the Albany and Schenectady churches among them, but all the women carried foot-stoves, and some of the men carried muffs.
Almost as important as the domine was the voorleezer or chorister, who was also generally the bell-ringer, sexton, grave-digger, funeral inviter, schoolmaster, and sometimes town clerk. He "tuned the psalm"; turned the hour-glass; gave out the psalms on a hanging board to the congregation; read the Bible; gave up notices to the domine by sticking the papers in the end of a cleft stick and holding it up to the high pulpit.
The deacons had control of all the church money. In the middle of the sermon they collected contributions by passing sacjes. These were small cloth or velvet bags hung on the end of a pole six or eight feet long. A French traveller told that the Dutch deacons passed round "the old square hat of the preacher" on the end of a stick for the contributions. Usually there was a little bell on the sacje which rung when a coin was dropped in.
In many Dutch churches the men sat in a row of pews around the wall while the women were seated on chairs in the centre of the church. There were also a few benches or pews for persons of special dignity, or for the minister's wife.
There were many other colonists of other religious faiths: the Roman Catholics in Maryland and the extreme Southern colonies; the Quakers in Pennsylvania; the Baptists in Rhode Island; the Huguenots, Lutherans, Moravians; but all enjoined an orderly observance of the Sabbath day. And it may be counted as one of the great blessings of the settlement of America, one of the most ennobling conditions of its colonization, that it was made at a time when the deepest religious feeling prevailed throughout Europe, when devotion to some religion was found in every one, when the Bible was a newly found and deeply loved treasure; when the very differences of religious belief and the formation of new sects made each cling more lovingly and more earnestly to his own faith.
If the first foundation of New England's strength and growth was godliness, its next was neighborliness, and a firm rock it proved to build upon. It may seem anomalous to assert that while there was in olden times infinitely greater independence in each household than at present, yet there was also greater interdependence with surrounding households.
It is curious to see how completely social ethics and relations have changed since olden days. Aid in our families in times of stress and need is not given to us now by kindly neighbors as of yore; we have well-arranged systems by which we can buy all that assistance, and pay for it, not with affectionate regard, but with current coin. The colonist turned to any and all who lived around him, and never turned in vain for help in sickness, or at the time of death of members of his household; for friendly advice; for culinary aids to a halting appetite; for the preparation for feasting an exceptional number of persons; in short, in any unusual emergency, as well as in frequent every-day cooeperation in log-rolling, stone-piling, stump-pulling, wall-building, house-raising, etc.,—all the hard and exhausting labor on the farm.
The word "cooeperation" is modern, but the thing itself is as old as civilization. In a new country where there was much work to be done which one man or one family could not do, under the mechanical conditions which then existed, a working together, or union of labor was necessary for progress, indeed, almost for obtaining a foothold.
The term "log-rolling" is frequently employed in its metaphorical sense in politics, both by English and American writers who have vague knowledge of the original meaning of the word. A log-rolling in early pioneer days, in the Northern colonies and in western Virginia and the central states, was a noble example of generous cooeperation, where each gave of his best—his time, strength, and good will; and where all worked to clear the ground in the forest for a home-farm for a neighbor who might be newly come and an entire stranger, but who in turn would just as cheerfully and energetically give his work for others when it was needed.
With the vanishing of the log-rolling, and a score of similar kindly usages and customs, has gone from our communities all traces of the old-time exalted type of neighborliness. We nowadays have generalized our sentiments; we have more philanthropy and less neighborliness; we have more love for mankind and less for men. We are independent of our neighbors, but infinitely more dependent on the world at large. The personal element has been removed to a large extent from our social ethics. We buy nursing and catering just as we hire our houses built and buy our corn ready ground. Doubtless everything we buy is infinitely better; nevertheless, our loss in affectionate zeal is great.
The plantation was the unit in Virginia; in New England it was the town. The neighborly helpfulness of the New England settlers extended from small to great matters; it formed communal privileges and entered into every department of town life. For instance, the town of Gloucester in 1663 granted a right to a citizen for running a small sawmill for twenty-one years. In return for this right the grantee was to sell boards to Gloucester men at "one shilling per hundred better cheape than to strangers"—and was to receive pay "raised in the towne." Saco and Biddeford, in Maine, ordered that fellow-townsmen should have preference in every employment. Other towns ordered certain persons to buy provisions "of the towns-men in preference." Reading would not sell any of its felled timber out of the town. Thus the social compact called a town extended itself also into all the small doings of daily life, and the mutual helpfulness made mutual interests that proved no small element of the force which bound all together in 1776 in a successful struggle for independence.
In outlying settlements and districts this feeling of mutual dependence and assistance was strong enough to give a name which sometimes lingered long. "The Loomis Neighborhood," "The Mason Neighborhood," "The Robinson Neighborhood" were names distinctive for half a century, and far more distinguishing and individual than the Greenville, Masontown, and Longwood that succeeded them.
There was one curious and contradictory aspect of this neighborliness, this kindliness, this thought for mutual welfare, and that was its narrowness, especially in New England, as regards the limitations of space and locality. It is impossible to judge what caused this restraint of vision, but it is certain that in generality and almost in universality, just as soon as any group of settlers could call themselves a town, these colonists' notions of kindliness and thoughtfulness for others became distinctly and rigidly limited to their own townspeople. The town was their whole world. Without doubt this was partly the result of the lack of travelling facilities and ample communication, which made townships far more separated and remote from each other than states are to-day, and made difficult the possibility of speedy or full knowledge of strangers.
This caused a constant suspicion of all newcomers, especially those who chanced to enter with scant introduction, and made universal a custom of "warning out" all strangers who arrived in any town. This formality was gone through with by the sheriff or tithing-man. Thereafter should the warned ones prove incapable or unsuccessful or vicious, they could not become a charge upon the town, but could be returned whence they came with despatch and violence if necessary. By this means, and by various attempts to restrict the powers of citizens to sell property to newcomers, the town kept a jealous watch over the right of entry into the corporation.
Dorchester in 1634 enacted that "no man within the Plantation shall sell his house or lott to any man without the Plantation whome they shall dislike off." Providence would not permit a proprietor to sell to any "but to an Inhabitant" without consent of the town. New Haven would neither sell nor let ground to a stranger. Hadley would sell no land to any until after three years' occupation, and then only with approval of the "Town's Mind." In 1637 the General Court very reasonably questioned whether towns could legally restrain individuals from disposal of their own property, but the custom was so established, so in touch with the narrow exclusiveness of the colonists, that it still prevailed. The expression of the town of Watertown when it would sell lots only to freemen of the congregation, because it wished no strange neighbors, but only "to sitt down there close togither," was the sentiment of all the towns. One John Stebbins, who had twice served as a soldier of Watertown and lived there seven years, could not get a town lot.
The legal process of warning out of town had an element of the absurd in it, and in one case that of mystery, namely: a sheriff appeared before the woebegone intruder, and said, half laughing, "I warn you off the face of the earth." "Let me get my hat before I go," stammered the terrified wanderer, who ran into the house for his hat and was never seen by any mortal eye in that town afterwards. It has become a tradition of local folk-lore that he literally vanished from the earth at the command of the officer of the law.
The harboring of strangers, even of relatives who were not local residents, was a frequent source of bickering between citizens and magistrates, as well as a constant cause of arbitration between towns. A widow in Dorchester was not permitted to entertain her own son-in-law from another town, and her neighbor was fined in 1671 "under distress" for housing his own daughter. She was a married woman, and alleged she could not return to her husband on account of the inclement weather.
As time passed on and immigration continued, freemen clung closely to their right to keep out strangers and outsiders. From the Boston Town Records of 1714 we find citizens still prohibited from entertaining a stranger without giving notice to the town authorities, and a description of the stranger and his circumstances. Boston required that all coming from Ireland should be registered "lest they become chargeable." Warnings and whippings out of town still continued. All this was so contrary to the methods of colonies in other countries, such as the Barbadoes, Honduras, etc., where extraordinary privileges were offered settlers, free and large grants of land, absolvment from past debts, etc., that it makes an early example of the curious absorbing and assimilating power of American nationality, which ever grew and grew even against such clogs and hampering restrictions.
In the Southern colonies the same kindliness existed as in the North, but the conditions differed. John Hammond, of Virginia, wrote in 1656, in his Leah and Rachel:—
"The Country is not only plentifull, but pleasant and profitable, pleasant in regard of the extraordinary good neighbourhood and loving conversation they have one with another.
"The inhabitants are generally affable, courteous, and very assistant to Strangers (for what but plenty makes hospitality and good neighbourhood) and no sooner are they settled, but they will be visiting, presenting and advising the strangers how to improve what they have, how to better their way of livelihood."
In summer when fresh meat was killed, the neighbors shared the luxury, and in turn gave of their slaughter. Hammond adds:—
"If any fall sick and cannot compass to follow his crops which would soon be lost, the adjoining neighbour, or upon request more joyn together and work it by spells, until he recovers; and that gratis, so that no man may by sickness loose any part of his year's work.
"Let any travell, it is without charge and at every house is entertainment as in a hostelry."
It was the same in the Carolinas. Ramsay, the early historian of South Carolina, said that hospitality was such a virtue that innkeepers complained that their business was not worth carrying on. The doors of citizens were open to all decent travellers, and shut to none.
The plantations were in many counties too far apart for any cooeperative labor, and the planters were not men of such vast strength or so great personal industry, even in their own affairs, as were the Yankees. There were slaves on each plantation to do all the hard work of lifting, etc. But in out-of-the-way settlements the Virginia planters' kindliness was shown in a vast and unbounded hospitality, a hospitality so insatiable that it watched for and waylaid travellers to expend a welcome and lavish attentions upon. Negroes were stationed at the planter's gate where it opened on the post-road or turnpike, to hail travellers and assure them of a hearty welcome at the "big house up yonder." One writer says of the planters:—
"Their manner of living is most generous and open: strangers are sought after with Greediness to be invited."
The London Magazine of the year 1743 published a series of papers entitled Itinerant Observations in America. It was written with a spirited pen which thus pleasantly describes simple Maryland hospitality, not of men of vast wealth but of very poor folk:—
"With the meaner Sort you find little else to drink but Water amongst them when their Cyder is spent, but the Water is presented you by one of the barefooted Family in a copious Calabash, with an innocent Strain of good Breeding and Heartiness, the Cake baking on the Hearth, and the prodigious Cleanliness of everything around you must needs put you in Mind of the Golden Age, the Times of ancient Frugality and Purity. All over the Colony a universal Hospitality reigns, full Tables and open Doors; the kind Salute, the generous Detention speak somewhat like the roast-Beef Ages of our Forefathers."
There came a time when this Southern hospitality became burdensome. With the exhaustion of the soil and competition in tobacco-raising, the great wealth of the Virginians was gone. But visitors did not cease; in fact, they increased. The generous welcome offered to kinsmen, friends, and occasional travellers was sought by curiosity-hunters and tourists who wanted to save a tavern-bill. Nothing could be more pathetic than the impoverishment of Thomas Jefferson through these impositions. Times and conditions had changed, but Jefferson felt bound in honor to himself and his state to keep the same open hand and ready welcome as of yore. His overseer describes his own hopeless efforts to keep these travelling friends and admirers from eating his master out of house and home:—
"They were there all times of the year; but about the middle of June the travel would commence from the lower part of the State to the Springs, and then there was a perfect throng of visitors. They travelled in their own carriages and came in gangs, the whole family with carriage and riding horses and servants, sometimes three or four such gangs at a time. We had thirty-six stalls for horses and only used ten of them for the stock we kept there. Very often all the rest were full, and I had to send horses off to another place. I have often sent a wagon-load of hay up to the stable, and the next morning there would not be enough left to make a bird's nest. I have killed a fine beef, and it would all be eaten up in a day or two."
The final extinction of old-time hospitality in Virginia came not from a death of hospitable intent, but from an entire vanishing of the means to furnish entertainment. And the Civil War drove away even the lingering ghost.
Many general customs existed in the early colonies which were simply exemplifications of neighborliness put in legal form. Such were the systems of common lands and herding. This was an old Aryan custom which existed many centuries ago, and has ever been one of the best ways of uniting any settlement of people, especially a new settlement; for it makes the interest of one the interest of all, and promotes union rather than selfishness. Common lands were set off and common herds existed in many of the Northern colonies; cowherds or "cow-keeps" were appointed and paid by the town to care throughout the summer for all the cattle owned by the inhabitants. This was an intelligent provision; for it saved much work of individuals during the months when farmers had so much hard work to do, and so short a time to do it in. In Albany and New York the cowherd and "a chosen proper youngster"—in other words, a good, steady boy—went through the town at sunrise sounding a horn, which the cattle heard and knew; and they quickly followed him to green pastures outside the town. There they lingered till nearly sunset, when they were brought home to the church, and the owners were again warned by the horn of the safe return of their cattle, and that it was milking time. Sometimes the cowherd received part of his pay in butter or cheese. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cowherd Rice, in 1635, agreed to take charge of one hundred cows for three months for ten pounds. The town also paid two men or boys to help him the first two weeks, and one man a week longer; he kept the cows alone after that, for the intelligent cattle had fallen into habits of order and obedience to his horn. He had to pay threepence fine each time he failed to bring in all the cattle at night.
On Long Island and in Connecticut there were cowherds, calf-keepers, and pound-keepers. The calf-keepers' duties were to keep the calves away from the cows, water them, protect them, etc. In Virginia and Maryland there were cow-pens in early days, and cowherds; but in the South the cattle generally roamed wild through the forests, and were known to their owners by earmarks. In all communities earmarks and other brands of ownership on cattle, horses, sheep, and swine were very important, and rigidly regarded where so much value was kept in domestic cattle. These earmarks were registered by the town clerk in the town records, and were usually described both in words and rude drawings. One of my great-great-grandfather's earmarks for his cows was a "swallow-fork slit in both ears"; another was a slit under the ear and a "half-penny mark on the foreside of the near ear." This custom of herding cattle in common lasted in some out-of-the-way places to this century, and even lingered long in large cities such as Boston, where cows were allowed to feed on Boston Common till about 1840. In Philadelphia until the year 1795 a cowherd stood every morning at the corner of Dock and Second streets, blew his horn, tramped off to a distant pasture followed by all the cows of his neighborhood, who had run out to him as soon as they heard the familiar sound. He led them back to the same place at night, when each returned alone to her own home.
Sheep-herds or shepherds in colonial days also took charge of the sheep of many owners in herd-walks, or ranges, by day, and by night in sheep-folds built with fences and gates.
Fence-viewers were men who were appointed by the town for common benefit to take charge of building and keeping in repair the fences that surrounded the "great lotts" or commons; that is, the enclosed fields which were the common property of each town, in which all farmers living near could place their cattle. The fence-viewers saw that each man worked a certain amount each year on these "pales" as the fences were called, or paid his share for the work of others. Each farmer or cow-owner usually built about twenty feet of fence for each cow which he pastured in the "great lotts." The fence-viewers also examined the condition of fences around private lands; noted breaks and ordered repairs. For if cattle broke through a poorly made fence, and did damage to crops, the fence-owner had to stand the loss, while if the fences were good and strong, proving the cattle unruly and destructive, the owner of the cattle had to pay. All the colonies were watchful over the safe-keeping of fences. In 1659 the Dutch rulers of New Amsterdam (now New York) ordered that for "stripping fences of rails and posts" the offender should be whipped and branded, and for a second offence he could be punished by death. This seems cruelly severe, but that year there was a great scarcity of grain and other food, and if the fences were pulled down, cattle could get into fields and eat up the growing crops, and famine and death might result.
Sometimes a common field was fenced in and planted with Indian corn. In this case the fence served to keep the cattle out, not in. This was always the case in Virginia.
Hay-wards were, as the name indicates, men to keep watchful care over the growing hay. For instance, in Hadley, Massachusetts, in 1661, Goodman Montague was chosen hay-ward by the town. He was to have twelvepence for each cow or hog, two shillings for each horse, and twenty pence for each twenty sheep that he found loose in any field or meadow, and successfully turned out. The owner of the animal was to pay the fine. At a later date these hay-wards were called field-drivers. They are still appointed in many towns and cities, among them Boston.
Hog-reeves were men appointed by the citizens to look after their hogs that roamed the roads and streets, to see that all those swine had rings in their noses, were properly marked, and did not do damage to crops. Many towns had hog-reeves till this century; for until seventy years ago hogs ran freely everywhere, even in the streets of our great cities. It was a favorite jest to appoint a newly married man hog-reeve. When Ralph Waldo Emerson was married and became a householder in Concord, the young philosopher was appointed to that office. Sometimes a single swineherd was hired to take care of the roving swine. The two Salem swineherds or swine-keepers in 1640 were to have sixpence for each hog they drove daily to pasture from April to November. These and many other public offices were simply a form of legalized cooeperation; a joining together of neighbors for public good.
The neighborly assistance given to new settlers began with the clearing of the ground for occupancy. The girdling of trees was easy and speedy, but it was discountenanced as dangerous and hideous, and was not frequently practised. A chopping-bee was a universal method among pioneers of clearing ground in newly settled districts, or even in older townships in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, where great tracts of land were left for many years in the original growth. Sometimes this bee was held to clear land for a newly married man, or a new neighbor, or one who had had bad luck; but it was just as freely given to a prosperous farmer, though plentiful thanks and plentiful rum were the only rewards of the willing workers.
All the strong men of the township repaired at an early hour to the tract to be cleared, and with powerful blows attacked the great trees. A favorite way of bringing the day's work and the day's excitement to a climax was by a "drive." This was made by chopping half-way into the trunks of a great group or circle of trees—under-cutting it was called—so that by a few powerful and well-driven blows at the monarch of the group, and perhaps a few well-concerted pulls on a rope, the entire group could be felled together, the leader bringing down with his spreading branches in his mighty fall his fellows in front of him, and they in turn their neighbors, with a crash that shook the earth and made the mountains ring. It was dangerous work; accidents were frequent; the records of death at log-rollings are pathetic to read and to think of, in a country where the loss of a sturdy man meant so much to some struggling household. A heavy and sudden gust of wind might blow down a small tree, which had been carelessly "under-cut," and thus give an unexpected and premature collapse of the simple machinery of the grand finale.
A century ago a New Hampshire woman and her husband went out into the forest primeval; he cut down a few trees, made a little clearing termed a cut-down wherein a tiny patch of sky and cloud and scant sunlight could be seen overhead, but no sunrise or sunset, and built a log house of a single room—a home. With the opening spring came one day a group of kindly settlers from distant clearings and settlements, some riding from ten miles away the previous day. In front of the log house they chopped all the morning long with sturdy arms and swinging blows, yet felled nothing, till in the afternoon when all was ready for the final blow at the towering leader, which by its fall should lay low a great sloping tract for a dooryard and home field. As the noble trees fell at last to the earth with a resounding crash, lo! in the opening there appeared to the startled eyes of the settler's wife, as if rising out of heaven, a neighbor in her loneliness—Mount Kearsage, grand, serene, and beautiful, crowned with the glories of the setting sun, standing guard over a smiling lake at its foot. And every day through her long and happy life till ninety-six years old, as she looked at the splendid mountain, standing as it will till time shall be no more, did she thank God for His gift, for that noble companionship which came so suddenly, so inspiringly, upon the cramped horizon of her lonely forest home.
After the trees were all felled, it was no longer a "cut-down" but an "opening." This was made preferably in the spring. The fallen trees were left some months on the ground to dry in the summer sun, while the farmer turned to other work on his farm, or, if he were starting in life, hired out for the summer. In the autumn the tops were set on fire, and the lighter limbs usually burned out, leaving the great charred tree-trunks. Then came what was known as a piling-bee, a perfect riot of hard work, cinders, and dirt. Usually the half-burned tree-trunks were "niggered off" in Indian fashion, by burning across with a smaller stick of wood till the long log was in lengths which could be dragged by the farmers with their oxen and horses into vast piles and again set on fire. Another treat of rum accompanied this day's work. The word "log-rolling" was often applied to the latter bee, and occasionally the felling of trees and dragging into piles for firing was done in a single log-rolling.
Sometimes before the opening was cleared it was planted. The spring rains and melting snows carried the fertilizing ashes deep into the soil. Corn was planted and "dug in"; rye was sowed and "hacked in." The crops were astonishing; the grain grew among the fallen logs and stumps in rioting luxuriance. A stump-pulling was another occasion for a friendly bee, to clear off and put into comely shape the new field.
Another exhibition of cooeperation was in a stone-hauling or a stone-bee. Some of the rocky fields of hard New England would defy a lifetime of work of one man and a single yoke of oxen. With judicious blasting, many oxen, strong arms, and willing hearts the boulders and ledges were tamed. Stone walls eight feet wide, such as may be seen in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, stand as monuments of the patience, strength, skill, and cooeperation of our forbears.
To show the struggle and hard work willingly done for a home, let me give the statement in 1870 of a respected citizen, the historian of Norridgewock, Maine, when he was over ninety years old. He served an apprenticeship of eight years till he was twenty-one, then bought on credit a tract of fifty acres in the primeval woods. On eight acres he felled the trees and left them through the winter. In April, 1801, he spent three weeks in burning off the logs and clearing as well as possible by handwork three acres. These he sowed with wheat and rye, buying the seed on credit. He hired a yoke of oxen for one day and did what harrowing he could in that short time, grubbing around the stumps with a hoe for two more days. The crop grew, as did all others on similar soil, amazingly. The two bushels of seed-wheat yielded fifty-two bushels, the bushel of rye thirty bushels. On his other five acres among the fallen trees he planted corn, and raised a hundred and twenty-eight bushels. He adds:—
"When I could leave my work on my new land I worked out haying and other work. I made shoes in the Fall, taught school in the Winter, paid for my board and some clothing, but husbanded my resources to pay for my land. At the end of the year found myself worth two hundred dollars. I continued to clear up four acres each year till I had cleared the fifty acres, planted an orchard and erected suitable farm buildings and fences."
Six years later he married and prospered. In eleven years he was worth two thousand dollars; he filled, during his long life, many, positions of trust and of profit, and did many and varied good deeds; he continued in active life till he was ninety years old. At his death he left a considerable fortune. It is an interesting picture of the value of honorable economy and thrift; a typical New England picture, with a certain vigor and stimulus about it that makes it pleasing.
A "raising" might be of a church or a school-house, or of a house or barn for a neighbor. All the strong men far and near turned out to help, tools were lent, and many strong hands and arms made quick work. Often the frame of a whole side of a house—the broadside—was fastened together on the ground. After it was laid out and pinned together, shores of long poles were attached to the plates with ox-chains, and it was literally lifted into place by the united strength of the entire band of men and boys. Sometimes women pulled on the rope to express their good will and helpfulness. Then the other sides were put up, and the cross-beams, braces, and studding all pinned and nailed into place. Afterwards the huge rafters were raised for the roof. Each man was assigned in the beginning to his place and work, and worked faithfully when his turn came. When the ridge-pole was put in place, the building was christened, as it was called, by breaking over it a bottle of rum. Often the house was literally given a name. Sitting astride the ridge-pole, one poet sang:—
"Here's a mighty fine frame Which desarves a good name, Say what shall we call it? The timbers all straight, And was hewed fust rate, The frame is well put together. It is a good frame That desarves a good name, Say! what shall we name it?"
Another, a Rochester, New Hampshire, frame was celebrated in verse which closed thus:—
"The Flower of the Plain is the name of this Frame, We've had exceeding good Luck in raising the Same."
It was not luck that made these raisings a success, it was skill and strength; skill and powers of endurance which could overcome and surmount even the quantity of vile New England rum with which the workmen were plied throughout the day. Accidents were frequent, and often fatal. A great frame of a meeting-house, or a vast barn with forty or fifty men at work on it, could not collapse without loss of life and much injury of limb.
In the work of these raisings the highest as well as the humblest citizens took part. Truly a man could glow with the warmth of home even in a bare and scantily furnished house, at the thought that the walls and rafters were held in place by the kind wishes and deeds of all his friends and neighbors.
There is nothing in nature so unnatural, so singular in quality, as the glittering artificiality of the early morning in the country the day after a heavy, drifting, New England snowstorm. For a day and a night the wildly whirling snow that "driving o'er the fields seems nowhere to alight" has restrained the outlook, and every one has turned depressed from that outside life of loneliness and gloom. The following morning always opens with an excessively bright and dazzling sunshine which is not like any other sunshine in any place or season, but is wholly artificial, like the lime-light of a theatre. We always run eagerly to the window to greet once more the signs of life and cheerfulness; but the landscape is more devoid of life and reality than during any storm of wind and snow and sleet, no matter how dark and lowering. There is a changed aspect in everything; it is metallic, and everything is made of the same horrible white metal. Nothing seems familiar; not only are the wonted forms and outlines vanished, and all their varied textures and materials and beautiful diversity of color gone also, but there is a steely immobility restraining everything which is so complete that it seems as if it were a shell that could never be broken.
"We look upon a world unknown, On nothing we can call our own."
It is no longer a real landscape but an artificial encircling diorama of meaningless objects made of vast unshaded sheets of white glazed Bristol-board, painted with white enamel, warranted not to crack; with the garish high-lights put in crystallized alum or possibly powdered glass. It is without life, or atmosphere, or reality; it has nothing but the million reflections of that artificial and repellent sunshine. In a quarter of an hour, even in a few minutes, it is agonizingly monotonous to the spirit as it is painful to the eye; then, like a veritable oasis of color and motion in an unmovable glittering white desert, a sound and sight of beautiful and active life appears. Around the bend of the road comes slow and straining down the hill, as has come through the glaring artificial sunlight after every heavy snowstorm for over a century past, a long train of oxen with a snow-plough "breaking out" the old post-road. Beautiful emblems of patient and docile strength, these splendid creatures are never so grateful to the sight as now. Their slow progress down the hill has many elements to make it interesting; it is historic. Ever since the township was thickly settled enough for families to have any winter communication with each other, whether for school, church, mail, or doctor, this road has been broken out in precisely this same way.
In nearly all scattered townships in New England the custom prevails to-day just as it did a century and more ago even in large towns, and a description of the present "breaking out" is that of the past also. The work is now usually done in charge of road-surveyors or the road-masters, who are often appointed from the remote points of the township. There is, therefore, much friendly rivalry to see which surveyor will first reach the centre of the town—and the tavern. Beginning at sunrise with his own yoke of oxen hitched to a snow-plough, each road-master breaks through the drift to the nearest neighbor, who adds his yoke to the other, and so from neighbor to neighbor till sometimes fifteen or twenty yoke of oxen are hitched in a long line to the plough. Sometimes a pair of wild young steers are hitched, plunging and kicking, with the sober elders. By this time the first yoke often begins to show signs of distress by lolling out the tongue, a sure symptom of overwork in oxen, and they are left at some farmer's barn to cool down.
Whittier thus describes the scene of breaking out the winter roads in his Snow-Bound:—
"Next morn we wakened with the shout Of merry voices high and clear; And saw the teamsters drawing near To break the drifted highways out. Down the long hillside treading slow We saw the half-buried oxen go, Shaking the snow from heads uptost, Their straining nostrils white with frost. Before our door the straggling train Drew up, an added team to gain. The elders threshed their hands a-cold, Passed, with the cider mug, their jokes From lip to lip."
Thus are the white snow-waste and the drifted roads turned by cheerful cooeperation into a midwinter visiting where every neighbor can exchange greetings with the other, young and old. For of course school does not keep, and the boys crowd on the snow-plough or try their new snowshoes, and the men of the various families who do not go with the oxen hitch up the sleighs, pods, and pungs and follow the snow-plough, and the young men send a volley of snowballs against every house where any fair maid lives. And at the tavern in the afternoon is a great sight, greater in ante-temperance days than now: scores of yoke of oxen at the door, the horse-sheds full of horses and sleighs, all the lads and men of the township within. There is rivalry in the method of breaking. One road-master always used a snow-plough; another lashed an ordinary plough on either side of a narrow ox-sled; a third used a coarse harrow weighted down with a group of standing boys. This broke up the drifts in a wonderful manner. The deeper drifts often have to be shovelled out partly by hand. After the road to the tavern is broken, the road to the school-house, the doctor's house, and the meeting-house come next.
The roads thus made were not permitted in former days to be cut up idly by careless use; many townships forbade by law the use of narrow sleds and sleighs. The roads were narrow at best; often when two sleighs met the horses had to be unharnessed, and the sleighs lifted past over each other. On lonely hill-roads or straight turnpikes, where teamsters could see some distance ahead, turnouts were made where one sleigh could wait for another to pass.
After there had been a heavy fall of snow and the roads were well broken, the time was always chosen where any logging was done to haul logs to the sawmill on ox-sleds. An interesting sled was used which had an interesting name,—chebobbin. One writer called it a cross between a tree and a bobsled. It was made by a close and ingenious adaptation of natural forms of wood, which made excellent runners, cross-bars, etc.; they were fastened together so loosely that they readily adjusted themselves to the inequalities of the wood-roads. The word and article are now almost obsolete. In some localities chebobbin became tebobbin and tarboggin, all three being adaptations in nomenclature, as they were in form, of the Indian toboggan or moose-sled,—a sledge with runners or flat bottom of wood or bark, upon which the red men drew heavy loads over the snow. This sledge has become familiar to us in the light and strong Canadian form now used for the delightful winter sport of tobogganing.
On these chebobbins great logs were hitched together by chains, and dragged down from the upland wood-lots. Under these mighty loads the snow-tracks got an almost icy polish, prime sledding for country sleighing parties. Sometimes a logging-bee was made to clear a special lot for a neighbor, and a band of wood-choppers worked all day together. It was cheerful work, though the men had to stand all day in the snow, and the thermometer was below zero. But there was no cutting wind in the forest, and the exercise kept the blood warm. Many a time a hearty man would drop his axe to wipe the sweat from his brow. Loose woollen frocks, or long-shorts, two or three over each other, were warm as are the overlapping feathers of a bird; a few had buckskin or sheepskin waistcoats; their hands were warmly covered with home-knit mittens. In later days all had heavy well-greased boots, but in the early years of such pioneer settlements, as the towns of New Hampshire and Vermont, all could not afford to wear boots. Their place was well supplied by heavy woollen stockings, shoes, and an over-covering of old stockings, or cloth soaked in neat's-foot oil; this was deemed a positive preventive of frozen feet.
It was the custom both among men and women to join forces on a smaller scale and have a little neighborly visiting by what was called "change-work." For instance, if two neighbors both were to make soap, or both to make apple-butter, or both to make up a rag carpet, instead of each woman sitting at home alone sewing and fitting the carpet, one would take her thimble and go to spend the day, and the two would sew all day long, finish and lay the carpet at one house. In a few days the visit would be returned, and the second carpet be finished. Sometimes the work was easier when two worked together. One man could load logs and sled them down to the sawmill alone, but two by "change-work" could accomplish the task much more rapidly and with less strain.
Even those evil days of New England households, the annual house-cleaning, were robbed of some of their dismal terrors by what was known as a "whang," a gathering of a few friendly women neighbors to assist one another in that dire time, and thus speed and shorten the hours of misery.
For any details of domestic life of colonial days the reader has ever to turn to the diary of Judge Samuel Sewall of Boston, just as the student of English life of the same date turns to the diary of Samuel Pepys. Sewall was a Puritan of the narrow type of the later days of Puritanism; and there is little of warmth or beauty in his pages, save that throughout them there shines with gentle radiance the unconscious record of a pure and never-dying neighborliness, the neighborliness of an upright and reserved but deeply tender Christian. No thoughtful person can read the simple and meagre, but wholly self-forgetful entries which reveal this trait of character without a feeling of profound respect and even affection for Sewall. He was the richest man in town, and one of the most dignified of citizens, a busy man full of many cares and plans. But he watched by the bedside of his sick and dying neighbors, those of humble station as well as his friends and kinsfolk, nursing them with tender care, praying with them, bringing appetizing gifts, and also giving pecuniary aid to the household. He afforded even more homely examples of neighborly feeling; he sent "tastes of his dinner" many times to friends and neighbors. This pleasant custom lingered till the present day in New England; I saw last summer, several times, covered treasures of housewifery being carried in petty amounts, literally "a taste," to tempt tired appetites or lonely diners. The gift of a portion of the over-bountiful supply for the supper of a wedding, a reception, etc., went by the expressive name of "cold party."
In rural Pennsylvania a charming and friendly custom prevailed among country folk of all nationalities—the "metzel-soup," the "taste" of sausage-making. This is the anglicized form of Metzelsuppe; metzeln means to kill and cut to pieces—especially for sausage meat. When each farmer butchered and made sausage, a great dish heaped with eight or ten pounds of the new sausages was sent to each intimate friend. The recipient would in turn send metzel-soup when his family killed and made sausage. If the metzel-soup were not returned, the minister promptly learned of it and set at work to effect a reconciliation between the offended parties. The custom is dying out, and in many towns is wholly vanished.
Sewall seemed to regard it as a duty, and doubtless it was also a pleasure, to pray for and with dying friends. His is not the only old-time diary that I have read in which those long prayers are recorded, nor are his surprised occasional records of the impatience of dying friends the only ones I have seen. A very sick man, even though he were a Puritan, might occasionally tire of the prayers of laymen.
Sewall was ever ready to signify his good will and interest in his neighbors' advancing fortunes, by driving a nail at a ship-building or a pin at a house-raising, by laying a stone in a wall or a foundation of a house, the latter, apparently, in the case of some very humble homes. He, the Judge of the Supreme Court, served on the watch, walking and guarding the streets and his neighbors' safety just as faithfully as did the humblest citizen.
OLD-TIME FLOWER GARDENS
Adjoining the street through which I always, in my childhood, walked slowly each Sunday, on my way to and from church, was a spot to detain lingering footsteps—a beautiful garden laid out and tenanted like the gardens of colonial days, and serene with the atmosphere of a worthy old age; a garden which had been tended for over half a century by a withered old man and his wife, whose golden wedding was spent in the house they had built, and in the garden they had planted when they were bride and groom. His back was permanently bowed with constant weeding and pruning and planting and hoeing, and his hands and face were brown as the soil he cultivated. The "hot-glowing" crimson peonies, seedlings which the wife had sown in her youth, had become great shrubs, fifteen or twenty feet in circumference. The flowering shrubs were trees. Vigorous borders of box crowded across the paths and towered on either side, till one could scarcely walk through them. There were beautiful fairy groves of fox gloves "gloriously freckled, purple, and white," and tall Canterbury bells; and at stiffly regular intervals were set flowering almonds, St. Peter's wreath, Persian lilacs, "Moses in the burning bush," which shrub was rare in our town, and "laburnums rich in streaming gold, syringas ivory pure." At the lower ends of the flower borders were rows of "honey-blob" gooseberries, and aged currant bushes, gray with years, overhung by a few patriarchal quince and crab-apple trees, in whose low-spreading gnarled branches I spent many a summer afternoon, a happy visitor, though my own home garden was just as beautiful, old-fashioned, and flower-filled.
The varying grades of city streets had gradually risen around the garden until it lay depressed several feet below the level of the adjoining streets, a pleasant valley,—like Avalon,—
"Deep-meadowed, happy, fair, with orchard lawns, And bowery hollows crown'd with summer seas."
A flight of stone steps led down to it,—steps very steep, narrow, and slippery with green moss, and ladies'-delights that crowded and blossomed in every crack and crevice of the stones. On each side arose terraces to the street, and in the spring these terraces flushed a mass of vivid, glowing rose-color from blooming moss-pink, forming such a glory that pious church-going folk from the other end of the town did not think it wicked to walk thither, on a Sunday morn in May, to look at the rosy banks that sloped to the valleyed garden, as they had walked there in February or March to see
"Winter, slumbering in the open air, Wear on his smiling face a dream of spring,"
in the shape of the first crocuses and snowdrops that opened beside a snow-drift still lingering on a shaded bank; and to watch the first benumbed honey-bees who greeted every flower that bloomed in that cherished spot, and who buzzed in bleak March winds over the purple crocus and "blue flushing" grape-hyacinth as cheerfully as though they were sipping the scarlet poppies in sunny August.
The garden edges and the street were overhung by graceful larches and by thorny honey-locust trees that bore on their trunks great clusters of powerful spines and sheltered in their branches an exceedingly unpleasant species of fat, fuzzy caterpillars, which always chose Sunday to drop on my garments as I walked to church, and to go with me to meeting, and in the middle of the long prayer to parade on my neck, to my startled disgust and agitated whisking away, and consequent reproof for being noisy in meeting.
What fragrances arose from that old garden, and were wafted out to passers-by! The ever-present, pungent, dry aroma of box was overcome or tempered, through the summer months, by a succession of delicate flower-scents that hung over the garden-vale like an imperceptible mist; perhaps the most perfect and clear among memory's retrospective treasures was that of the pale fringed "snow-pink," and later, "sweet william with its homely cottage smell." Phlox and ten-weeks stock were there, as everywhere, the last sweet-scented flowers of autumn.
At no time was this old garden sweeter than in the twilight, the eventide, when all the great clumps of snowy phlox, night-rockets, and luminous evening primrose, and all the tangles of pale yellow and white honeysuckle shone irradiated; when,
"In puffs of balm the night air blows The burden which the day foregoes,"
and scents far richer than any of the day—the "spiced air of night"—floated out in the dusky gloaming.
Though the old garden had many fragrant leaves and flowers, their delicate perfume was sometimes fairly deadened by an almost mephitic aroma that came from an ancient blossom, a favorite in Shakespeare's day—the jewelled bell of the noxious crown-imperial. This stately flower, with its rich color and pearly drops, has through its evil scent been firmly banished from our garden borders.
One of the most cheerful flowers of this and of my mother's garden was the happy-faced little pansy that under various fanciful folk-names has ever been loved. Like Montgomery's daisy, it "blossomed everywhere." Its Italian name means "idle thoughts"; the German, "little stepmother." Spenser called it "pawnce." Shakespeare said maidens called it "love-in-idleness," and Drayton named it "heartsease." Dr. Prior gives these names—"Herb Trinity, Three Faces under a Hood, Fancy Flamy, Kiss Me, Pull Me, Cuddle Me unto You, Tickle my Fancy, Kiss Me ere I Rise, Jump Up and Kiss Me, Kiss Me at the Garden Gate, Pink of my Joan." To these let me add the New England folk-names—bird's-eye, garden-gate, johnny-jump-up, kit-run-about, none-so-pretty, and ladies'-delight. All these testify to the affectionate and intimate friendship felt for this laughing and fairly speaking little garden face, not the least of whose endearing qualities was that, after a half-warm, snow-melting week in January or February, this bright-some little "delight" often opened a tiny blossom to greet and cheer us—a true "jump-up-and-kiss-me," and proved by its blooming the truth of the graceful Chinese verse,—
"Ere man is aware That the spring is here The plants have found it out."
Another dearly loved spring flower was the daffodil, the favorite also of old English dramatists and poets, and of modern authors as well, when we find that Keats names a daffodil as, the thing of beauty that is a joy forever. Perhaps the happiest and most poetic picture of daffodils is that of Dora Wordsworth, when she speaks of them as "gay and glancing, and laughing with the wind." Perdita, in The Winter's Tale, thus describes them in her ever-quoted list: "Daffodils that come before the swallow dares and take the winds of March with beauty." Most cheerful and sunny of all our spring flowers, they have never lost their old-time popularity, and they still laugh at our bleak March winds.
Bouncing-bet and her comely hearty cousins of the pink family made delightsome many a corner of our home garden. The pinks were Jove's own flowers, and the carthusian pink, china pink, clove pink, snow pink, plumed pink, mullein pink, sweet william, maltese cross, ragged robin, catch-fly, and campion, all made gay and sweet the summer. The clove pink was the ancestor of all the carnations.
The richest autumnal glory came from the cheerful marigold, the "golde" of Chaucer, and "mary-bud" of Shakespeare. This flower, beloved of all the old writers, as deeply suggestive and emblematic, has been coldly neglected by modern poets, as for a while it was banished from modern town gardens; but it may regain its popularity in verse as it has in cultivation. In farm gardens it has always flourished, and every autumn has "gone to bed with the sun and with him risen weeping," and has given forth in the autumn air its acrid odor, which to me is not disagreeable, though my old herbal calls its "a very naughty smell."
A favorite shrub in our garden, as in every country dooryard, was southernwood, or lad's-love. A sprig of it was carried to meeting each summer Sunday by many old ladies, and with its finely dissected, bluish-green foliage, and clean pungent scent, it was pleasant to see in the meeting-house, and pleasant to sniff at. The "virtues of flowers" took a prominent place in the descriptions in old-time botanies. The southernwood had strong medicinal qualities, and was used to cure "vanityes of the head."
"Take a quantitye of Suthernwood and put it upon kindled coales to burn and being made into powder mix it with the oyle of radishes and anoynt a balde place and you shall see great experiences."
It was of power as a love charm. If you placed a sprig in each shoe and wore it through the day when you were in love, you would then also in some way "see great experiences."
In the tender glamour of happy association, all flowers in the old garden seem to have been loved save the garish petunias, whose sickish odor grew more offensive and more powerful at nightfall and made me long to tear them away from their dainty garden-fellows, and the portulaca with its fleshy, worm-like stems and leaves, and its aggressively pushing habits, "never would be missed." Perhaps its close relation to the "pusley," most hated of weeds, makes us eye it askance.
There was one attribute of the old-time garden, one part of nature's economy, which added much to its charm—it was the crowding abundance, the over-fulness of leaf, bud, and blossom. Nature there displayed no bare expanses of naked soil, as in some too-carefully-kept modern parterres; the dull earth was covered with a tangle of ready-growing, self-sowing, lowly flowers, that filled every space left unoccupied by statelier garden favorites, and crowded every corner with cheerful, though unostentatious, bloom. And the close juxtaposition, and even intermingling, of flowers with herbs, vegetables, and fruits gave a sense of homely simplicity and usefulness, as well as of beauty. The soft, purple eyes of the mourning-bride were no less lovely to us in "our garden" because they opened under the shade of currant and gooseberry bushes; and the sweet alyssum and candytuft were no less honey-sweet. The delicate, pinky-purple hues of the sweet peas were not dimmed by their vivid neighbors at the end of the row of poles—the scarlet runners. The adlumia, or mountain fringe, was a special vine of our own and known by a special name—virgin's bower. With its delicate leaves, almost as beautiful as a maidenhair fern, and its dainty pink flower, it festooned the ripening corn as wantonly and luxuriantly as it encircled the snowball and lilac bushes.
Though "colored herbs" were cultivated in England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as carefully as were flowers,—striped hollies, variegated myrtles, and bays being the gardener's pride,—yet in our old American gardens few plants were grown for their variegated or odd-colored foliage. The familiar and ever-present ribbon-grass, also called striped grass, canary grass, and gardener's garters,—whose pretty expanded panicles formed an almost tropical effect at the base of the garden hedge; the variegated wandering jew, the striped leaves of some varieties of day-lilies; the dusty-miller, with its "frosty pow" (which was properly a house plant), fill the short list. The box was the sole evergreen.