Obadiah Turner, of Lynn, gives in his Journal a sad, sad disclosure of total depravity which was exposed by one of these sudden church-awakenings, and the story is best told in the journalist's own vivid words:—
"June 3, 1616.—Allen Bridges hath bin chose to wake ye sleepers in meeting. And being much proude of his place, must needs have a fox taile fixed to ye ende of a long staff wherewith he may brush ye faces of them yt will have napps in time of discourse, likewise a sharpe thorne whereby he may pricke such as be most sound. On ye last Lord his day, as hee strutted about ye meeting-house, he did spy Mr. Tomlins sleeping with much comfort, hys head kept steadie by being in ye corner, and his hand grasping ye rail. And soe spying, Allen did quickly thrust his staff behind Dame Ballard and give him a grievous prick upon ye hand. Whereupon Mr. Tomlins did spring vpp mch above ye floore, and with terrible force strike hys hand against ye wall; and also, to ye great wonder of all, prophanlie exclaim in a loud voice, curse ye wood-chuck, he dreaming so it seemed yt a wood-chuck had seized and bit his hand. But on coming to know where he was, and ye greate scandall he had committed, he seemed much abashed, but did not speak. And I think he will not soon again goe to sleepe in meeting."
How clear the picture! Can you not see it?—the warm June sunlight streaming in through the narrow, dusty windows of the old meeting-house; the armed watcher at the door; the Puritan men and women in their sad-colored mantles seated sternly upright on the hard narrow benches; the black-gowned minister, the droning murmur of whose sleepy voice mingles with the out-door sounds of the rustle of leafy branches, the song of summer birds, the hum of buzzing insects, and the muffled stamping of horses' feet; the restless boys on the pulpit-stairs; the tired, sleeping Puritan with his head thrown back in the corner of the pew; the vain, strutting, tithingman with his fantastic and thorned staff of office; and then—the sudden, electric wakening, and the consternation of the whole staid and pious congregation at such terrible profanity in the house of God. Ah!—it was not two hundred and forty years ago; when I read the quaint words my Puritan blood stirs my drowsy brain, and I remember it all well, just as I saw it last summer in June.
Another catastrophe from too fierce zeal on the part of the tithingman is recorded. An old farmer, worn out with a hard Saturday's work at sheep-washing, fell asleep ere the hour-glass had once been turned. Though he was a man of dignity, for he sat in his own pew, he could not escape the rod of the pragmatical tithingman. Being rudely disturbed, but not wholly wakened, the bewildered sheep-farmer sprung to his feet, seized his astonished and mortified wife by the shoulders and shook her violently, shouting at the top of his voice, "Haw back! haw back! Stand still, will ye?" Poor goodman and goodwife! many years elapsed ere they recovered from that keen disgrace.
The ministers encouraged and urged the tithingmen to faithfully perform their allotted work. One early minister "did not love sleepers in ye meeting-house, and would stop short in ye exercise and call pleasantlie to wake ye sleepers, and once of a warm Summer afternoon he did take hys hat off from ye pegg in ye beam, and put it on, saying he would go home and feed his fowles and come back again, and maybe their sleepe would be ended, and they readie to hear ye remainder of hys discourse." Another time he suggested that they might like better the Church of England service of sitting down and standing up, and we can be sure that this "was competent to keepe their eyes open for a twelvemonth."
All this was in the church of Mr. Whiting, of Lynn, a somewhat jocose Puritan,—if jocularity in a Puritan is not too anomalous an attribute to have ever existed. We can be sure that there was neither sleeping nor jesting allusion to such an irreverence in Mr. Mather's, Mr. Welde's, or Mr. Cotton's meetings. In many rigidly severe towns, as in Portsmouth in 1662 and in Boston in 1667, it was ordered by the selectmen as a proper means of punishment that a "cage be made or some other means invented for such as sleepe on the Lord's Daie." Perhaps they woke the offender up and rudely and summarily dragged him out and caged him at once and kept him thus prisoned throughout the nooning,—a veritable jail-bird.
A rather unconventional and eccentric preacher in Newbury awoke one sleeper in a most novel manner. The first name of the sleeping man was Mark, and the preacher in his sermon made use of these Biblical words: "I say unto you, mark the perfect man and behold the upright." But in the midst of his low, monotonous sermon-voice he roared out the word "mark" in a loud shout that brought the dozing Mark to his feet, bewildered but wide awake.
Mr. Moody, of York, Maine, employed a similar device to awaken and mortify the sleepers in meeting. He shouted "Fire, fire, fire!" and when the startled and blinking men jumped up, calling out "Where?" he roared back in turn, "In hell, for sleeping sinners." Rev. Mr. Phillips, of Andover, in 1755, openly rebuked his congregation for "sleeping away a great part of the sermon;" and on the Sunday following an earthquake shock which was felt throughout New England, he said he hoped the "Glorious Lord of the Sabbath had given them such a shaking as would keep them awake through one sermon-time." Other and more autocratic parsons did not hesitate to call out their sleeping parishioners plainly by name, sternly telling them also to "Wake up!" A minister in Brunswick, Maine, thus pointedly wakened one of his sweet-sleeping church-attendants, a man of some dignity and standing in the community, and received the shocking and tautological answer, "Mind your own business, and go on with your sermon."
The women would sometimes nap a little without being discovered. "Ye women may sometimes sleepe and none know by reason of their enormous bonnets. Mr. Whiting doth pleasantlie say from ye pulpit hee doth seeme to be preaching to stacks of straw with men among them."
From this seventeenth-century comment upon the size of the women's bonnets, it may be seen that objections to women's overwhelming and obscuring headgear in public assemblies are not entirely complaining protests of modern growth. Other records refer to the annoyance from the exaggerated size of bonnets. In 1769 the church in Andover openly "put to vote whether the parish Disapprove of the Female sex sitting with their Hats on in the Meeting-house in time of Divine Service as being Indecent." The parish did Disapprove, with a capital D, for the vote passed in the affirmative. There is no record, however, to tell whether the Indecent fashion was abandoned, but I warrant no tithingman was powerful enough to make Andover women take off their proudly worn Sunday bonnets if they did not want to. Another town voted that it was the "Town's Mind" that the women should take off their bonnets and "hang them on the peggs," as did the men their headgear. But the Town's Mind was not a Woman's Mind; and the big-bonnet wearers, vain though they were Puritans, did as they pleased with their own bonnets. And indeed, in spite of votes and in spite of expostulations, the female descendants of the Puritans, through constantly recurring waves of fashion, have ever since been indecently wearing great obscuring hats and bonnets in public assemblies, even up to the present day.
The tithingman had other duties than awakening the sleepers and looking after "the boyes that playes and rapping those boyes,"—in short, seeing that every one was attentive in meeting except himself,—and the duties and powers of the office varied in different communities. Several of these officers were appointed in each parish. In Newbury, in 1688, there were twenty tithingmen, and in Salem twenty-five. They were men of authority, not only on Sunday, but throughout the entire week. Each had several neighboring families (usually ten, as the word "tithing" would signify) under his charge to watch during the week, to enforce the learning of the catechism at home, especially by the children, and sometimes he heard them "Say their Chatachize." These families he also watched specially on the Sabbath, and reported whether all the members thereof attended public worship. Not content with mounting guard over the boys on Sundays, he also watched on weekdays to keep boys and "all persons from swimming in the water." Do you think his duties were light in July and August, when school was out, to watch the boys of ten families? One man watching one family cannot prevent such "violations of the peace" in country towns now-a-days. He sometimes inspected the "ordinaries" and made complaint of any disorders which he there discovered, and gave in the names of "idle tiplers and gamers," and he could warn the tavern-keeper to sell no more liquor to any toper whom he knew or fancied was drinking too heavily. Josselyn complained bitterly that during his visit to New England in 1663 at "houses of entertainment called ordinaries into which a stranger went, he was presently followed by one appointed to that office who would thrust himself into his company uninvited, and if he called for more drink than the officer thought in his judgment he could soberly bear away, he would presently countermand it, and appoint the proportion beyond which he could not get one drop." The tithingman had a "spetial eye-out" on all bachelors, who were also carefully spied upon by the constables, deacons, elders, and heads of families in general. He might, perhaps, help to collect the ministerial rate, though his principal duty was by no means the collecting of tithes. He "worned peple out of ye towne." This warning was not at all because the new-comers were objectionable or undesired, but was simply a legal form of precaution, so that the parish would never be liable for the keeping of the "worned" ones in case they thereafter became paupers. He administered the "oath of fidelity" to new inhabitants. The tithingman also watched to see that "no young people walked abroad on the eve of the Sabbath,"—that is, on a Saturday night. He also marked and reported all those "who lye at home," and others who "prophanely behaved, lingered without dores at meeting time on the Lordes Daie," all the "sons of Belial strutting about, setting on fences, and otherwise desecrating the day." These last two classes of offenders were first admonished by the tithingman, then "Sett in stocks," and then cited before the Court. They were also confined in the cage on the meeting-house green, with the Lord's Day sleepers. The tithingman could arrest any who walked or rode at too fast a pace to and from meeting, and he could arrest any who "walked or rode unnecessarily on the Sabath." Great and small alike were under his control, as this notice from the "Columbian Centinel" of December, 1789, abundantly proves. It is entitled "The President and the Tything man:"—
"The President, on his return to New York from his late tour through Connecticut, having missed his way on Saturday, was obliged to ride a few miles on Sunday morning in order to gain the town at which he had previously proposed to have attended divine service. Before he arrived however he was met by a Tything man, who commanding him to stop, demanded the occasion of his riding; and it was not until the President had informed him of every circumstance and promised to go no further than the town intended that the Tything man would permit him to proceed on his journey."
Various were the subterfuges to outwit the tithingman and elude his vigilance on the Sabbath. We all remember the amusing incident in "Oldtown Folks." A similar one really happened. Two gay young sparks driving through the town on the Sabbath were stopped by the tithingman; one offender said mournfully in excuse of his Sabbath travel, "My grandmother is lying dead in the next town." Being allowed to drive on, he stood up in his wagon when at a safe distance and impudently shouted back, "And she's been lying dead in the graveyard there for thirty years."
Thus it may be seen that the ancient tithingman was pre-eminently a general snook, to use an old and expressive word,—an informer, both in and out of meeting,—a very necessary, but somewhat odious, and certainly at times very absurd officer. He was in a degree a constable, a selectman, a teacher, a tax-collector, an inspector, a sexton, a home-watcher, and above all, a Puritan Bumble, whose motto was Hie et ubique. He was, in fact, a general law-enforcer and order-keeper, whose various duties, wherever still necessary and still performed, are now apportioned to several individuals. The ecclesiastical functions and authority of the tithingman lingered long after the civil powers had been removed or had gradually passed away from his office. Persons are now living who in their early and unruly youth were rapped at and pointed at by a New England tithingman when they laughed or were noisy in meeting.
The Length of the Service.
Watches were unknown in the early colonial days of New England, and for a long time after their introduction both watches and clocks were costly and rare. John Davenport of New Haven, who died in 1670, left a clock to his heirs; and E. Needham, who died in 1677, left a "Striking clock, a watch, and a Larum that dus not Strike," worth L5; these are perhaps the first records of the ownership of clocks and watches in New England. The time of the day was indicated to our forefathers in their homes by "noon marks" on the floor or window-seats, and by picturesque sundials; and in the civil and religious meetings the passage of time was marked by a strong brass-bound hour-glass, which stood on a desk below or beside the pulpit, or which was raised on a slender iron rod and standard, so that all the members of the congregation could easily watch "the sands that ran i' the clock's behalf." By the side of the desk sat, on the Sabbath, a sexton, clerk, or tithingman, whose duty it was to turn the hour-glass as often as the sands ran out. This was a very ostentatious way of reminding the clergyman how long he had preached; but if it were a hint to bring the discourse to an end, it was never heeded; for contemporary historical registers tell of most painfully long sermons, reaching up through long sub-divisions and heads to "twenty-seventhly" and "twenty-eighthly."
At the planting of the first church in Woburn, Massachusetts, the Rev. Mr. Symmes showed his godliness and endurance (and proved that of his parishioners also) by preaching between four and five hours. Sermons which occupied two or three hours were customary enough. One old Scotch clergyman in Vermont, in the early years of this century, bitterly and fiercely resented the "popish innovation and Sabbath profanation" of a Sunday-school for the children, which some daring and progressive parishioners proposed to hold at the "nooning." This canny Parson Whiteinch very craftily and somewhat maliciously prolonged his morning sermons until they each occupied three hours; thus he shortened the time between the two services to about half an hour, and victoriously crowded out the Sunday-school innovators, who had barely time to eat their cold lunch and care for their waiting horses, ere it was time for the afternoon service to begin. But one man cannot stop the tide, though he may keep it for a short time from one guarded and sheltered spot; and the rebellious Vermont congregation, after two or three years of tedious three-hour sermons, arose in a body and crowded out the purposely prolix preacher, and established the wished-for Sunday-school. The vanquished parson thereafter sullenly spent the noonings in the horse-shed, to which he ostentatiously carried the big church-Bible in order that it might not be at the service of the profaning teachers.
An irreverent caricature of the colonial days represents a phenomenally long-preaching clergyman as turning the hour-glass by the side of his pulpit and addressing his congregation thus, "Come! you are all good fellows, we'll take another glass together!" It is recorded of Rev. Urian Oakes that often the hour-glass was turned four times during one of his sermons. The warning legend, "Be Short," which Cotton Mather inscribed over his study door was not written over his pulpit; for he wrote in his diary that at his own ordination he prayed for an hour and a quarter, and preached for an hour and three quarters. Added to the other ordination exercises these long Mather addresses must have been tiresome enough. Nathaniel Ward deplored at that time, "Wee have a strong weakness in New England that when wee are speaking, wee know not how to conclude: wee make many ends before wee make an end."
Dr. Lord of Norwich always made a prayer which was one hour long; and an early Dutch traveller who visited New England asserted that he had heard there on Fast Day a prayer which was two hours long. These long prayers were universal and most highly esteemed,—a "poor gift in prayer" being a most deplored and even despised clerical short-coming. Had not the Puritans left the Church of England to escape "stinted prayers"? Whitefield prayed openly for Parson Barrett of Hopkinton, who could pray neither freely, nor well, that "God would open this dumb dog's mouth;" and everywhere in the Puritan Church, precatory eloquence as evinced in long prayers was felt to be the greatest glory of the minister, and the highest tribute to God.
In nearly all the churches the assembled people stood during prayer-time (since kneeling and bowing the head savored of Romish idolatry) and in the middle of his petition the minister usually made a long pause in order that any who were infirm or ill might let down their slamming pew-seats and sit down; those who were merely weary stood patiently to the long and painfully deferred end. This custom of standing during prayer-time prevailed in the Congregational churches in New England until quite a recent date, and is not yet obsolete in isolated communities and in solitary cases. I have seen within a few years, in a country church, a feeble, white-haired old deacon rise tremblingly at the preacher's solemn words "Let us unite in prayer," and stand with bowed head throughout the long prayer; thus pathetically clinging to the reverent custom of the olden time, he rendered tender tribute to vanished youth, gave equal tribute to eternal hope and faith, and formed a beautiful emblem of patient readiness for the last solemn summons.
Sometimes tedious expounding of the Scriptures and long "prophesying" lengthened out the already too long service. Judge Sewall recorded that once when he addressed or expounded at the Plymouth Church, "being afraid to look at the glass, ignorantly and unwittingly I stood two hours and a half," which was doing pretty well for a layman.
The members of the early churches did not dislike these long preachings and prophesyings; they would have regarded a short sermon as irreligious, and lacking in reverence, and besides, would have felt that they had not received in it their full due, their full money's worth. They often fell asleep and were fiercely awakened by the tithingman, and often they could not have understood the verbose and grandiose language of the preacher. They were in an icy-cold atmosphere in winter, and in glaring, unshaded heat in summer, and upon most uncomfortable, narrow, uncushioned seats at all seasons; but in every record and journal which I have read, throughout which ministers and laymen recorded all the annoyances and opposition which the preachers encountered, I have never seen one entry of any complaint or ill-criticism of too long praying or preaching. Indeed, when Rev. Samuel Torrey, of Weymouth, Massachusetts, prayed two hours without stopping, upon a public Fast Day in 1696, it is recorded that his audience only wished that the prayer had been much longer.
When we consider the training and exercise in prayer that the New England parsons had in their pulpits on Sundays, in their own homes on Saturday nights, on Lecture Days and Fast Days and Training Days, and indeed upon all times and occasions, can we wonder at Parson Boardman's prowess in New Milford in 1735? He visited a "praying" Indian's home wherein lay a sick papoose over whom a "pow-wow" was being held by a medicine-man at the request of the squaw-mother, who was still a heathen. The Christian warrior determined to fight the Indian witch-doctor on his own grounds, and while the medicine-man was screaming and yelling and dancing in order to cast the devil out ol the child, the parson began to pray with equal vigor and power of lungs to cast out the devil of a medicine-man. As the prayer and pow-wow proceeded the neighboring Indians gathered around, and soon became seriously alarmed for the success of their prophet. The battle raged for three hours, when the pow-wow ended, and the disgusted and exhausted Indian ran out of the wigwam and jumped into the Housatonic River to cool his heated blood, leaving the Puritan minister triumphant in the belief, and indeed with positive proof, that he could pray down any man or devil.
The colonists could not leave the meeting-house before the long sen ices were ended, even had they wished, for the tithingman allowed no deserters. In Salem, in 1676, it was "ordered by ye Selectmen yt the three Constables doe attend att ye three greate doores of ye meeting-house every Lordes Day att ye end of ye sermon, both forenoone and afternoone, and to keep ye doores fast and suffer none to goe out before ye whole exercises bee ended." Thus Salem people had to listen to no end of praying and prophesying from their ministers and elders for they "couldn't get out."
As the years passed on, the church attendants became less referential and much more impatient and fearless, and soon after the Revolutionary War one man in Medford made a bargain with his minister—Rev. Dr. Osgood—that he would attend regularly the church services every Sunday morning, provided he could always leave at twelve o'clock. On each Sabbath thereafter, as the obstinate preacher would not end his sermon one minute sooner than his habitual time, which was long after twelve, the equally stubborn limited-time worshipper arose at noon, as he had stipulated, and stalked noisily out of meeting.
A minister about to preach in a neighboring parish was told of a custom which prevailed there of persons who lived at a distance rising and leaving the house ere the sermon was ended. He determined to teach them a lesson, and announced that he would preach the first part of his sermon to the sinners, and the latter part to the saints, and that the sinners would of course all leave as soon as their portion had been delivered. Every soul remained until the end of the service.
At last, when other means of entertainment and recreation than church-going became common, and other forms of public addresses than sermons were frequently given, New England church-goers became so restless and rebellious under the regime of hour-long prayers and indefinitely protracted sermons that the long services were gradually condensed and curtailed, to the relief of both preacher and hearers.
The Icy Temperature of the Meeting-House.
In colonial days in New England the long and tedious services must have been hard to endure in the unheated churches in bitter winter weather, so bitter that, as Judge Sewall pathetically recorded, "The communion bread was frozen pretty hard and rattled sadly into the plates." Sadly down through the centuries is ringing in our ears the gloomy rattle of that frozen sacramental bread on the Church plate, telling to us the solemn story of the austere and comfortless church-life of our ancestors. Would that the sound could bring to our chilled hearts the same steadfast and pure Christian faith that made their gloomy, freezing services warm with God's loving presence!
Again Judge Sewall wrote: "Extraordinary Cold Storm of Wind and Snow. Blows much more as coming home at Noon, and so holds on. Bread was frozen at Lord's Table. Though 't was so cold John Tuckerman was baptized. At six o'clock my ink freezes, so that I can hardly write by a good fire in my Wives chamber. Yet was very Comfortable at Meeting." In the penultimate sentence of this quotation may be found the clue and explanation of the seemingly incredible assertion in the last sentence. The reason why he was comfortable in church was that he was accustomed to sit in cold rooms; even with the great open-mouthed and open-chimneyed fireplaces full of blazing logs, so little heat entered the rooms of colonial dwelling-houses that one could not be warm unless fairly within the chimney-place; and thus, even while sitting by the fire, his ink froze. Another entry of Judge Sewall's tells of an exceeding cold day when there was "Great Coughing" in meeting, and yet a new-born baby was brought into the icy church to be baptized. Children were always carried to the meeting-house for baptism the first Sunday after birth, even in the most bitter weather. There are no entries in Judge Sewall's diary which exhibit him in so lovable and gentle a light as the records of the baptism of his fourteen children,—his pride when the child did not cry out or shrink from the water in the freezing winter weather, thus early showing true Puritan fortitude; and also his noble resolves and hopes for their future. On this especially cold day when a baby was baptized, the minister prayed for a mitigation of the weather, and on the same day in another town "Rev. Mr. Wigglesworth preached on the text, Who can stand before His Cold? Then by his own and people's sickness three Sabbaths passed without public Worship." February 20 he preached from these words: "He sends forth his word and thaws them." And the very next day a thaw set in which was regarded as a direct answer to his prayer and sermon. Sceptics now-a-days would suggest that he chose well the time to pray for milder weather.
Many persons now living can remember the universal and noisy turning up of great-coat collars, the swinging of arms, and knocking together of the heavy-booted feet of the listeners towards the end of a long winter sermon. Dr. Hopkins used to say, when the noisy tintamarre began, "My hearers, have a little patience, and I will soon close."
Another clergyman was irritated beyond endurance by the stamping, clattering feet, a supplosio pedis that he regarded as an irreverent protest and complaint against the severity of the weather, rather than as a hint to him to conclude his long sermon. He suddenly and noisily closed his sermon-book, leaned forward out of his high pulpit, and thundered out these Biblical words of rebuke at his freezing congregation, whose startled faces stared up at him through dense clouds of vapor. "Out of whose womb came the ice? And the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen. Knowest thou the ordinance of heaven? Canst thou set the dominion thereof on the earth? Great things doth God which we cannot comprehend. He saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth. By the breath of God frost is given. He causeth it to come, whether for correction, or for his land, or for mercy. Hearken unto this. Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God." We can believe that he roared out the words "stand still," and that there was no more noise in that meeting-house on cold Sundays during the remainder of that winter.
The ministers might well argue that no one suffered more from the freezing atmosphere than they did. In many records I find that they were forced to preach and pray with their hands cased in woollen or fur mittens or heavy knit gloves; and they wore long camlet cloaks in the pulpit and covered their heads with skull caps—as did Judge Sewall—and possibly wore, as he did also, a hood. Many a wig-hating minister must, in the Arctic meeting-house, have longed secretly for the grateful warmth to his head and neck of one of those "horrid Bushes of Vanity," a full-bottomed flowing wig.
On bitter winter days Dr. Stevens of Kittery used to send a servant to the meeting-house to find out how many of his flock had braved the piercing blasts. If only seven persons were present, the servant asked them to return with him to the parsonage to listen to the sermon; but if there were eight members in the meeting-house he so reported to the Doctor, who then donned his long worsted cloak, tied it around his waist with a great handkerchief, and attired thus, with a fur cap pulled down over his ears, and with heavy mittens on his hands, ploughed through the deep snow to the church, and in the same dress preached his long, knotty sermon in his pulpit, while fierce wintry blasts rattled the windows and shook the turret, and the eight godly, shivering souls wished profoundly that one of their number had "lain at home in a slothfull, lazey, prophane way," and thus permitted the seven others and the minister to have the sermon in comfort in the parsonage kitchen before the great blazing logs in the open fireplace.
Ah, it makes one shiver even to think of those gloomy churches, growing colder, and more congealed through weeks of heavy frost and fierce northwesters until they bore the chill of death itself. One can but wonder whether that fell scourge of New England, that hereditary curse—consumption—did not have its first germs evolved and nourished in our Puritan ancestors by the Spartan custom of sitting through the long winter services in the icy, death-like meeting-houses.
Of the insufficient clothing of the church attendants of olden times it is unnecessary to speak with much detail. The goodmen with their heavy top-boots or jack-boots, their milled or frieze stockings, their warm periwigs surmounted by fur caps or beaver hats or hoods; and with their many-caped great-coats or full round cloaks were dressed with a sufficient degree of comfort, though they did not possess the warm woollen and silken underclothing which now make a man's winter attire so comfortable. They carried muffs too, as the advertisements of the times show. The "Boston News Letter" of 1716 offers a reward for a man's muff lost on the Sabbath day in the street. In 1725 Dr. Prince lost his black bearskin muff, and in 1740 a "sableskin man's muff" was advertised as having been lost.
But the Puritan goodwives and maidens were dressed in a meagre and scanty fashion that when now considered seems fairly appalling. As soon as the colonies grew in wealth and fashion, thin silk or cotton hose were frequently worn in midwinter by the wives and daughters of well-to-do colonists; and correspondingly thin cloth or kid or silk slippers, high-channelled pumps, or low shoes with paper soles and "cross-cut" or wooden heels were the holiday and Sabbath-day covering for the feet. In wet weather clogs and pattens formed an extra and much needed protection when the fair colonists walked. Linen underclothing formed the first superstructure of the feminine costume and threw its penetrating chill to the very marrow of the bones. Often in mid-winter the scant-skirted French calico gowns were made with short elbow sleeves and round, low necks, and the throat and shoulders were lightly covered with thin lawn neckerchiefs or dimity tuckers. The flaunting hooped-petticoat of another decade was worn with a silk or brocade sacque. A thin cloth cape or mantle or spencer, lined with sarcenet silk, was frequently the only covering for the shoulders. In examining the treasured contents of old wardrobes, trunks, and high-chests, and in reading the descriptions of women's winter attire worn throughout the eighteenth and half through the nineteenth century, I am convinced that the only portions of Puritan female anatomy that were clothed with anything approaching respectable regard for health in the inclement New England climate were the head and the hands. The hands of "New English dames" were carefully protected with embroidered kid or leather gloves (for the early New Englanders were great glove wearers) or with warm knit woollen mittens, though mittens for women's wear were always fingerless. The well-gloved hands were moreover warmly ensconced in enormous stuffed muffs of bearskin which were almost as large as a flour barrel, or in smaller muffs of rabbit-skin or mink or beaver. The goodwives' heads bore, besides the close caps so universally worn, mufflers and veils and hoods,—hoods of all kinds and descriptions, from the hoods of serge and camlet and gauze and black silk that Mistress Estabrook, wife of the Windham parson, proudly owned and wore, from the prohibited "silk and tiffany hoods" of the earliest planters down through the centuries' inflorescence of "hoods of crimson colored persian," "wild bore and hum-hum long hoods," "pointed velvet capuchins," "scarlet gipsys," "pinnered and tasselled hoods," "shirred lustring hoods," "hoods of rich pptuna," "muskmelon hoods," to the warm quilted "punkin hoods" worn within this century in country churches. These "punkin-hoods" were quilted with great rolls of woollen wadding and drawn tight between the rolls with strong cords. They formed a deafening and heating head-covering which always had to be loosened and thrust back when the wearer was within doors. It was only equalled in shapeless clumsiness and unique ugliness by its summer-sister of the same date, the green silk calash,—that funniest and quaintest of all New England feminine headgear,—a great sunshade that could not be called a bonnet, always made of bright green silk shirred on strong lengths of rattan or whalebone, and extendible after the fashion of a chaise top. It could be drawn out over the face by a little green ribbon or "bridle" that was fastened to the extreme front at the top; or it could be pushed in a close-gathered mass on the back of the head These calashes were frequently a foot and a half in diameter, and thus stood well up from the head and did not disarrange the hair nor crush the headdress or cap. They formed a perfect and easily-adjusted shade from the sun. Masks, too, the fair Puritans wore to further protect their heads and faces,—masks of green silk or black vehet, with silver mouthpieces to place within the lips and thus enable the wearer to keep the mask firmly in place. Sometimes two little strings with a silver bead at one end were fastened to the mask, and seined as mouthpieces. With a string and bead at either corner of the mouth the mask-wearer could talk quite freely while still retaining her face-covering in its protecting position. These masks were never worn within doors. In the list of goods ordered by George Washington from Europe for his fair bride Martha were several of these riding-masks, and the kind step-father even ordered a supply of small masks for "Miss Custis," his little step-daughter.
In bitter winter weather women carried to meeting little foot-stoves,—metal boxes which stood on legs and were filled with hot coals at home, and a second time during the morning from the hearthstone of a neighboring farm-house or a noon-house. These foot-warmers helped to make endurable to the goodwives the icy chill of the meeting-house; and round their mother's foot-stove the shivering little children sat on their low crickets, warming their half-frozen fingers.
Some of these foot-stoves were really pretentious church-furnishings. I have seen one "brassen foot-stove" which had the owner's cipher cut out of the sheet metal, and from the side was hung a wrought brass chain. By this chain, a century ago, the shining polished brass stove was carried into church in the hands of a liveried black man, who held it ostentatiously at arms' length, that neither ash nor scorch might touch his scarlet velvet breeches. And after he had tucked it under my lady's tiny feet as she sat in her pew, he retired to his freezing loft high up among the beams,—the "Nigger Pew,"—where, I am sorry to record, he more than once solaced and warmed himself with a bottle of "kill-devil" which he had smuggled into church, until he fell ignominiously asleep and his drunken snores so disturbed the minister and the congregation, that two tithingmen were forced to climb the ladder-like staircase and pull him down and out of the church and to the neighboring tavern to sleep off the effects of the liquor. For being "a man and a brother" and, above all, in spite of his petty idiosyncrasies, a very good and cherished servant, he could not be thrust out into the snow to freeze to death.
But with the extreme Puritan contempt of comfort even foot-stoves were not always allowed. The First Church of Roxbury, after having one church edifice destroyed by fire in 1747, prohibited the use of footstoves in meeting, and the Roxbury matrons sat with frozen toes in their fine new meeting-house. The Old South Church of Boston was not so rigid, though it felt the same dread of fire; for we find this entry on the records of the church under the date of January 10, 1771: "Whereas, danger is apprehended from the [foot] stoves that arc frequently left in the meeting-house after the publick worship is over; Voted, that the Saxton make diligent search on the Lord's Day evening and in the evening after a lecture, to see if any stoves are left in the house, and that if he find any there he take them to his own house; and it is expected that the owners of such stoves make reasonable satisfaction to the Saxton for his trouble before they take them away."
In Hardwicke, in 1792, it was ordered that "no stows be carried into our new meeting-house with fire in them." The Hardwicke women may have found comfort in a contrivance which is thus described in by an "old inhabitant:"
"There to warm their feet Was seen an article now obsolete, A sort of basket tub of braided straw Or husks, in which is placed a heated stone, Which does half-frozen limbs superbly thaw. And warms the marrow of the oldest bone."
In some of the early, poorly built log meeting-houses, fur bags made of coarse skins, such as wolf-skin, were nailed or tied to the edges of the benches, and into these bags the worshippers thrust their feet for warmth. In some communities it was the custom for each family to bring on cold days its "dogg" to meeting; where, lying at or on his master's feet, he proved a source of grateful warmth. These animal stoves became such an abounding nuisance, however, that dog-whippers had to be appointed to serve on Sundays to drive out the dogs. All through the records of the early churches we find such entries as this: "Whatsoever doggs come into the meeting-house in time of public worship, their owners shall each pay sixpence." Sixpence seems little, but the thrifty and poor Puritans would rather freeze their toes than pay sixpence for their calorific dogs.
The church members made many rules and regulations to keep the cold out of the meeting-house during service-time, or perhaps we should say to keep the wind out. Thus in Woodstock, Connecticut, in 1725 it was ordered that the "several doors of the meeting-house be taken care of and kept shut in very cold and windy seasons according to the lying of the wind from time to time; and that people in such windy weather come in at the leeward doors only, and take care that they are easily shut both to prevent the breaking of the doors and the making of a noise." In other churches it was ordered that "no doors be opened to the windward and only one door to the leeward" during winter weather.
The first church of Salem built a "cattied chimney twelve feet long" in its meeting-house in 1662, but five years later it was removed, perhaps through the colonists' dread lest the building be destroyed by a conflagration caused by the combustible nature of the materials of which the chimney was composed. Felt, in his "Annals of Salem," asserts that the First Church of Boston was the first New England congregation to have a stove for heating the meeting-house at the time of public worship; this was in 1773. This statement is incorrect. Mr. Judd says the Hadley church had an iron stove in their meeting-house as early as 1734—the Hadley people were such sybarites and novelty-lovers in those early days! The Old South Church of Boston followed in the luxurious fashion in 1783, and the "Evening Post" of January 25, 1783, contained a poem of which these four lines show the criticising and deprecating spirit:—
"Extinct the sacred fire of love, Our zeal grown cold and dead, In the house of God we fix a stove To warm us in their stead."
Other New England congregations piously froze during service-time well into this century. The Longmeadow church, early in the field, had a stove in 1810; the Salem people in 1815; and the Medford meeting in 1820. The church in Brimfield in 1819 refused to pay for a stove, but ordered as some sacrifice to the desire for comfort, two extra doors placed on the gallery-stairs to keep out draughts; but when in that town, a few years later, a subscription was made to buy a church stove, one old member refused to contribute, saying "good preaching kept him hot enough without stoves."
As all the church edifices were built without any thought of the possibility of such comfortable furniture, they had to be adapted as best they might to the ungainly and unsightly great stoves which were usually placed in the central aisle of the building. From these cast-iron monsters, there extended to the nearest windows and projected through them, hideous stove-pipes that too often spread, from every leaky and ill-fastened joint, smoke and sooty vapors, and sometimes pyroligneous drippings on the congregation. Often tin pails to catch the drippings were hung under the stove-pipes, forming a further chaste and elegant church-decoration. Many serious objections were made to the stoves besides the aesthetic ones. It was alleged that they would be the means of starting many destructive conflagrations; that they caused severe headaches in the church attendants; and worst of all, that the heat warped the ladies' tortoise-shell back-combs.
The church reformers contended, on the other hand, that no one could properly receive spiritual comfort while enduring such decided bodily discomfort. They hoped that with increased physical warmth, fervor in religion would be equally augmented,—that, as Cowper wrote,—
"The churches warmed, they would no longer hold Such frozen figures, stiff as they are cold."
Many were the quarrels and discussions that arose in New England communities over the purchase and use of stoves, and many were the meetings held and votes taken upon the important subject.
"Peter Parley"—Mr. Samuel Goodrich—gave, in his "Recollections," a very amusing account of the sufferings endured by the wife of an anti-stove deacon. She came to church with a look of perfect resignation on the Sabbath of the stove's introduction, and swept past the unwelcome intruder with averted head, and into her pew. She sat there through the service, growing paler with the unaccustomed heat, until the minister's words about "heaping coals of fire" brought too keen a sense of the overwhelming and unhealthful stove-heat to her mind, and she fainted. She was carried out of church, and upon recovering said languidly that it "was the heat from the stove." A most complete and sudden resuscitation was effected, however, when she was informed of the fact that no fire had as yet been lighted in the new church-furnishing.
Similar chronicles exist about other New England churches, and bear a striking resemblance to each other. Rev. Henry Ward Beecher in an address delivered in New York on December 20, 1853, the anniversary of the Landing of the Pilgrims, referred to the opposition made to the introduction of stoves into the old meeting-house in Litchfield, Connecticut, during the ministry of his father, and gave an amusing account of the results of the introgression. This allusion called up many reminiscences of anti-stove wars, and a writer in the "New York Enquirer" told the same story of the fainting woman in Litchfield meeting, who began to fan herself and at length swooned, saying when she recovered "that the heat of the horrid stove had caused her to faint." A correspondent of the "Cleveland Herald" confirmed the fact that the fainting episode occurred in the Litchfield meeting-house. The editor of the "Hartford Daily Courant" thus added his testimony:—
"Violent opposition had been made to the introduction of a stove in the old meeting-house, and an attempt made in vain to induce the soc to purchase one. The writer was one of seven young men who finally purchased a stove and requested permission to put it up in the meeting-house on trial. After much difficulty the committee consented. It was all arranged on Saturday afternoon, and on Sunday we took our seats in the Bass, rather earlier than usual, to see the fun. It was a warm November Sunday, in which the sun shone cheerfully and warmly on the old south steps and into the naked windows. The stove stood in the middle aisle, rather in front of the Tenor Gallery. People came in and stared. Good old Deacon Trowbridge, one of the most simple-hearted and worthy men of that generation, had, as Mr. Beecher says, been induced to give up his opposition. He shook his head, however, as he felt the heat reflected from it, and gathered up the skirts of his great as he passed up the broad aisle to the deacon's seat. Old Uncle Noah Stone, a wealthy farmer of the West End, who sat near, scowled and muttered at the effects of the heat, but waited until noon to utter his maledictions over his nut-cakes and cheese at the intermission. There had in fact been no fire in the stove, the day being too warm. We were too much upon the broad grin to be very devotional, and smiled rather loudly at the funny things we saw. But when the editor of the village paper, Mr. Bunce, came in (who was a believer in stoves in churches) and with a most satisfactory air warmed his hands by the stove, keeping the skirts of his great-coat carefully between his knees, we could stand it no longer but dropped invisible behind the breastwork. But the climax of the whole was (as the Cleveland man says) when Mrs. Peck went out in the middle of the service. It was, however, the means of reconciling the whole society; for after that first day we heard no more opposition to the warm stove in the meeting-house."
With all this corroborative evidence I think it is fully proved that the event really happened in Litchfield, and that the honor was stolen for other towns by unveracious chroniclers; otherwise we must believe in an amazing unanimity of church-joking and sham-fainting all over New England.
The very nature, the stern, pleasure-hating and trial-glorying Puritan nature, which made our forefathers leave their English homes to come, for the love of God and the freedom of conscience, to these wild, barren, and unwelcoming shores, made them also endure with fortitude and almost with satisfaction all personal discomforts, and caused them to cling with persistent firmness to such outward symbols of austere contempt of luxury, and such narrow-minded signs of love of simplicity as the lack of comfortable warmth during the time of public worship. The religion which they had endured such bitter hardships to establish, did not, in their minds, need any shielding and coddling to keep it alive, but thrived far better on Spartan severity and simplicity; hence, it took two centuries of gradual and most tardy softening and modifying of character to prepare the Puritan mind for so advanced a reform and luxury as proper warmth in the meeting-houses in winter.
There might have been seen a hundred years ago, by the side of many an old meeting-house in New England, a long, low, mean, stable-like building, with a rough stone chimney at one end. This was the "noon-house," or "Sabba-day house," or "horse-hows," as it was variously called. It was a place of refuge in the winter time, at the noon interval between the two services, for the half-frozen members of the pious congregation, who found there the grateful warmth which the house of God denied. They built in the rude stone fireplace a great fire of logs, and in front of the blazing wood ate their noon-day meal of cold pie, of doughnuts, of pork and peas, or of brown bread with cheese, which they had brought safely packed in their capacious saddlebags. The dining-place smelt to heaven of horses, for often at the further end of the noon-house were stabled the patient steeds that, doubly burdened, had borne the Puritans and their wives to meeting; but this stable-odor did not hinder appetite, nor did the warm equine breaths that helped to temper the atmosphere of the noon-house offend the senses of the sturdy Puritans. From the blazing fire in this "life-saving station" the women replenished their little foot-stoves with fresh, hot coals, and thus helped to make endurable the icy rigor of the long afternoon service.
If the winter Sabbath Day were specially severe, a "hired-man," or one of the grown sons of the family, was sent at an early hour to the noon-house in advance of the other church-attendants, and he started in the rough fireplace a fire for their welcome after their long, cold, morning ride; and before its cheerful blaze they thoroughly warmed themselves before entering the icy meeting-house. The embers were carefully covered over and left to start a second blaze at the nooning, covered again during the afternoon service, and kindled up still a third time to warm the chilled worshippers ere they started for their cold ride home in the winter twilight. And when the horses were saddled, or were harnessed and hitched into the great box-sleighs or "pungs," and when the good Puritans were well wrapped up, the dying coals were raked out for safety and the noon-house was left as quiet and as cold as the deserted meeting-house until the following Sabbath or Lecture day.
If the meeting-house chanced to stand in the middle of the town (as was the universal custom in the earliest colonial days) of course a noon-house would be rarely built, for it would plainly not be needed. Nor was a "Sabba-day house" always seen in more lonely situations, if the sanctuary were placed near the substantial farm-house of a hospitable farmer; for to that friendly shelter the whole congregation would at noon-time repair and absorb to the fullest degree the welcome cider and warmth.
In Lexington for many years after the Revolutionary War, the winter church-goers who came from any distance spent the nooning at the Dudley Tavern, where a roaring fire was built in the inn-parlor, and there the women and children ate their midday lunch. The men gathered in the bar-room and drank flip, and ate the tavern gingerbread and cheese, and talked over the horrors and glories of the war. In Haverhill, Derby, and many other towns, the school-house, which was built on the village green beside the church, was used for a noon-house by the church members, though not by their horses. The house of learning was never chimneyless and fireless, as was the house of God.
As churches and towns multiplied, a meeting-house was often built to accommodate two little settlements or villages (and thus was convenient for neither), and was frequently placed in an isolated or inconvenient place, the top of a high hill being perhaps the most inconvenient and the most favored site. Thus a noon-house became an absolute necessity to Puritan health and existence, and often two or three were built near one meeting-house; while in some towns, as in Bristol, a whole row of disfiguring little "Sabba-day houses" stood on the meeting-house green, and in them the farmers (as they quaintly expressed in their petitions for permission to erect the buildings) "kept their duds and horses."
In Derby, after several petitions had been granted to build noon-houses, it was found necessary, in 1764, to place some restrictions as to the location of the buildings, which had hitherto evidently been placed with the characteristically Puritanical indifference to general convenience or appearance. While the town still permitted the little log-huts to be erected, and though they could be placed on either side of the highway, it was ordered that the builders must not so locate them as to "incommode any highways." As early as 1690 the thoughtful Stonington people built a house "14 foot square and seven foot posts" with a chimney at one side, for the express purpose of having a place where their minister, Rev. Mr. Noyes, could thaw out between services. The New Canaan Church built on the green beside their meeting-house a fine "Society House," twenty-one feet long and sixteen feet wide, with a big chimney and fireplace. The horses were plainly "not in society" in New Canaan, for they were excluded from the occupancy and privileges of the Society House.
"James June & all that lives at Larences" were allowed to build a "Sabbath-House" on the green near the New Britain meeting-house "as a Commodate for their conveniency of comeing to meeting on the Sabbath;" at the same time James Slason of the same village was given permission to "set yp a house for ye advantage of his having a place to go to" on the Sabbath. Frequently the petitions "to build a Sabbath Day House" or a "Housel for Shelter for Horss" were made in company by several farmers for their joint use and comfort, as shown by entries in the town and church records of Norwalk, New Milford, Durham, and Hartford.
Noon-houses were much more frequent in Connecticut than in Massachusetts, and in several small towns in the former State they were used weekly between Sunday services until within the memory of persons now living; and some of the buildings still exist, though changed into granaries or stables. There was one also in use for many years and until recent years in Topsfield, in Massachusetts. We chanced upon one still standing on a lonely Narragansett road. A little enclosed burial-place, with moss-grown and weather-smoothed head-stones and neglected graves, was by the side of a filled-in cellar, upon which a church evidently had once stood. At a short distance from the church-site was a long, low, gray, weather-beaten wooden building, with a coarse stone-and-mortar chimney at one end, and a great door at the other. Two small windows, destitute of glass, permitted us to peer into the interior of this dilapidated old structure, and we saw within, a floor of beaten earth, a rough stone fireplace, and a few rude horse-stalls. We felt sure that this tumble-down building had been neither a dwelling-house nor a stable, but a noon-house; and the occupants of a neighboring farm-house confirmed our decision. Too worthless to destroy, too out of the way to be of any use to any person, that old noon-house, through neglect and isolation, has remained standing until to-day.
It was not until the use of chaises and wagons became universal, and the new means of conveyance crowded out the old-fashioned saddle and pillion, and the trotting horse superseded the once fashionable but quickly despised pacer, that the great stretches of horse-sheds were built which now surround and disfigure all our country churches. These sheds protect, of course, both horse and carriage from wind and rain. Few churches had horse-sheds until after the War of the Revolution, and some not until after the War of 1812. In 1796 the Longmeadow Church had "liberty to erect a Horse House in the Meeting House Lane." This horse house was a horse-shed.
The "wretched boys" were not permitted even in these noon-houses to talk, much less to "sporte and playe." In some parishes it was ordered by the minister and the deacons that the Bible should be read and expounded to them, or a sermon be read to keep them quiet during the nooning. Occasionally some old patriarch would explain to them the notes that he had taken during the morning sermon. More unbearable still, the boys were sometimes ordered to explain the notes which they had taken themselves. I would I had heard some of those explanations! Thus they literally, as was written in 1774, throve on the "Good Fare of Brown Bread and the Gospell."
In Andover, Judge Phillips left in his will a silver flagon to the church as an expression of interest and hope that the "laudable practice of reading between services may be continued so long as even a small number shall be disposed to attend the exercise." Mr. Abbott left another silver flagon to the Andover Church to encourage reading between services; though how this piece of plate encouraged personally, since neither the deacons nor the boys got it as a prize, cannot be precisely understood. The noon-house in Andover was a large building with a great chimney and open fireplace at either end. It has always seemed to me a piece of gratuitous posthumous cruelty in Judge Phillips and Mr. Abbott to try to cheat those Andover boys of their noon-time rest and relaxation, and to expect them, wriggling and twisting with repressed vitality, to listen to a long extra sermon, read perhaps by some unskilled reader, or explained by some incapable expounder. The Sabbath-school did not then exist, and was not in general favor until the noon-houses had begun to disappear. The Reverend Jedediah Morse, father of the inventor of the electric telegraph, was almost the first New England clergyman who approved of Sabbath-schools and established them in his parish. In Salem they were opened in 1808, and the scholars came at half-past six on Sunday mornings. Fancy the chill and gloom of the unheated, ill-lighted churches at that hour on winter mornings. The "Salem Gazette" openly characterized Sunday-schools, when first suggested, as profanations of the Sabbath, and for years they were not allowed in many Congregational churches. When the Sabbath-schools were universally established, and thus the attention and interest of the children was gained during the noon interval (the time the schools were usually held in country churches), and when each family sat in its own pew, and thus the boys were separated, and each under his parents' guardianship, the "wretched boys" of the Puritan Sabbath disappeared, and well-behaved, quiet, orderly boys were seen instead in the New England churches.
This fashion of sermon-reading at the nooning happily did not obtain in all parts of New England. In many villages the meetings in the society noon-houses were to the townspeople what a Sunday newspaper is to Sunday readers now-a-days, an advertisement and exposition of all the news of the past week, and also a suggestion of events to come. At noon they discussed and wondered at the announcements and publishings which were tacked on the door of the meeting-house or the notices that had been read from the pulpit. The men talked in loud voices of the points of the sermon, of the doctrines of predestination pedobaptism and antipedobaptism, of original sin, and that most fascinating mystery, the unpardonable sin, and in lower voices of wolf and bear killing, of the town-meeting, the taxes, the crops and cattle; and they examined with keen interest one another's horses, and many a sly bargain in horse-flesh or exchange of cows and pigs was suggested, bargained over, and clinched in the "Sabba'-day house." Many a piece of village electioneering was also discussed and "worked" between the services. The shivering women crowded around the blazing and welcome fire, and seated themselves on rude benches and log seats while they ate and exchanged doughnuts, slices of rusk, or pieces of "pumpkin and Indian mixt" pie, and also gave to each other receipts therefor; and they discoursed in low voices of their spinning and weaving, of their candle-dipping or candle-running, of their success or failure in that yearly trial of patience and skill—their soap-making, of their patterns in quilt-piecing, and sometimes they slyly exchanged quilt-patterns. A sentence in an old letter reads thus: "Anne Bradford gave to me last Sabbath in the Noon House a peecing of the Blazing Star; tis much Finer than the Irish Chain or the Twin Sisters. I want yelloe peeces for the first joins, small peeces will do. I will send some of my lilac flowered print for some peeces of Cicelys yelloe India bed vallants, new peeces not washed peeces." They gave one another medical advice and prescriptions of "roots and yarbs" for their "rheumatiz," "neuralgy," and "tissick;" and some took snuff together, while an ancient dame smoked a quiet pipe. And perhaps (since they were women as well as Puritans) they glanced with envy, admiration, or disapproval, or at any rate with close scrutiny, at one another's gowns and bonnets and cloaks, which the high-walled pews within the meeting-house had carefully concealed from any inquisitive, neighborly view.
The wood for these beneficent noon-house fires was given by the farmers of the congregation, a load by each well-to-do land-owner, if it were a "society-house," and occasionally an apple-growing farmer gave a barrel of "cyder" to supply internal instead of external warmth. Cider sold in 1782 for six shillings "Old Tenor" a barrel, so it was worth about the same as the wood both in money value and calorific qualities. A hundred years previously—in 1679—cider was worth ten shillings a barrel. In 1650, when first made in America, it was a costly luxury, selling for L4 4s. a barrel. That this thawed-out Sunday barrel of cider would prove invariably a source of much refreshment, inspiration, solace, tongue-loosing, and blood-warming to the chilled and shivering deacons, elders, and farmers who gathered in the noon-house, any one who has imbibed that all-potent and intoxicating beverage, oft-frozen "hard" cider, can fervently testify.
Sometimes a very opulent farmer having built a noon-house for his own and his family's exclusive use, would keep in it as part of his "duds" a few simple cooking utensils in which his wife or daughters would re-heat or partially cook his noon-day Sabbath meal, and mix for him a hot toddy or punch, or a mug of that "most insinuating drink"—flip. Flip was made of home-brewed beer, sugar, and a liberal dash of Jamaica rum, and was mixed with a "logger-head"—a great iron "stirring-stick" which was heated in the fire until red hot and then thrust into the liquid. This seething iron made the flip boil and bubble and imparted to it a burnt, bitter taste which was its most attractive attribute. I doubt not that many a "loggerhead" was kept in New England noon-houses and left heating and gathering insinuating goodness in the glowing coals, while the pious owner sat freezing in the meeting-house, also gathering goodness, but internally keeping warm at the thought of the bitter nectar he should speedily brew and gladly imbibe at the close of the long service.
The comfort of a hot midday dinner on the Sabbath was not regarded with much favor, though perhaps with secret envy, by the neighbors of the luxury-loving farmer, who saw in it too close an approach to "profanation of the Sabbath." The heating and boiling of the flip with the red hot "loggerhead" hardly came under the head of "unnecessary Sabbath cooking" even in the minds of the most straight-laced descendants of the Puritans.
When stoves were placed and used in the New England meeting-houses, the noon-day lunches were eaten within the pews inside the sanctuary, and the noon-houses, no longer being needed, followed the law of cause and effect, and like many other institutions of the olden times quickly disappeared.
The Deacon's Office.
The deacons in the early New England churches had, besides their regular duties on the Lord's Day, and their special duties on communion Sabbaths, the charge of prudential concerns, and of providing for the poor of the church. They also "dispensed the word" on Sabbaths to the congregation during the absence of the ordained minister. Judge Sewall thus describes in his diary under the date of November, 1685, the method at that time of appointing or ordaining a deacon:—
"In afternoon Mr. Willard ordained our Brother Theophilus Frary to the office of a Deacon. Declared his acceptance January 11th first now again. Propounded him to the congregation at Noon. Then in even propounded him if any of the church of other had to object they might speak. Then took the Church's Vote, then call'd him up to the Pulpit, laid his Hand on's head, and said I ordain Thee, etc., etc., gave him his charge, then Prayed & sung 2nd Part of 84th Psalm."
The deacons always sat near the pulpit in a pew, which was generally raised a foot or two above the level of the meeting-house floor, and which contained, usually, several high-backed chairs and a table or a broad swinging-shelf for use at the communion service. These venerable men were a group of awe-inspiring figures, who, next to the parson, received the respect of the community. In Bristol, Connecticut, the deacons wore starched white linen caps in the meeting-house to indicate their office,—a singular local custom. One of their duties in many communities was naturally to furnish the sacramental wines, and the money for the payment thereof was allowed to them from the church-rates, or was raised by special taxation. In Farmington, Connecticut, in 1669, each male inhabitant was ordered to pay a peck of wheat or one shilling to the deacons of the church to defray the expenses of the sacrament. In Groton church, in 1759, "4 Coppers for every Sacrament for 1 year" was demanded from each communicant. In Springfield the "deacon's rate" was paid in "wampam,"—sixpence in "wampam" or a peck of Indian corn from each family in the town. This special tax was somewhat modified in case a man had no wife, or if he were not a church-member, but in the latter case he still had to pay some dues, though of course he could not take part in the communion service. In 1734 the Milton church ordered the deacons to procure "good Canary Wine for the Communion Table." Abuses sometimes arose,—abominably poor wines were furnished, though full rates were paid for the purchase of wine of good quality; and in Newbury the man who was appointed to furnish the sacramental wines, sold, under that religious cover, wine and liquors at retail.
The deacons also had charge of the vessels used in the communion service. These vessels were frequently stored, when not in use, under the pulpit in a little closet which opened into "the Ministers wives pue," and which was fabled to be at the disposal of the tithingmen and deacons for the darksome incarceration of unruly and Sabbath-breaking boys. The communion vessels were not always of valuable metal; John Cotton's first church had wooden chalices; the wealthier churches owned pieces of silver which had been given to them, one piece at a time, by members or friends of the church; but communion services of pewter were often seen.
The church in Hanover, Massachusetts, bought a pewter service in 1728, and the record of the purchase still exists. It runs thus:—
3 Pewter Tankards marked C. T. 10 shillings. 5 " Beakers " C. E. 6 sh. 6d. each. 2 " Platters " C. P. 5 sh. each. 1 " Basin for Baptisms.
This pewter service is still owned by the Hanover church, a highly prized relic. Until 1753 the church in Andover used a pewter communion service, but when a silver service was given to it, the Andover church sent the vessels of baser metal to a sister church in Methuen. In Haverhill the will of a church-member named White gave to the church absolutely the pewter dishes which were used at the sacrament, and which had been his personal property. The "ffirst church" of Hartford had "one Puter fflagon, ffower pewter dishes, and a bason" left to it by the bequest of one of its members. When the Danvers church was burned in 1805, the pewter communion vessels were saved while the silver ones were either burnt or stolen. As pewter was, in the early days of New England, far from being a despised metal, and as pewter dishes and plates were seen on the tables of the wealthiest families, were left by will as precious possessions, were engraved with initials and stamped with coats of arms, and polished with as much care as were silver vessels, a communion service of pewter was doubtless felt to be a thoroughly satisfactory acquisition and appointment to a Puritan church.
The deacons of course took charge of the church contributions. Lechford, in his "Plaine Dealing," thus describes the manner of giving in the Boston church in 1641:—
"Baptism being ended, follows the contribution, one of the deacons saying, 'Brethren of the Congregation, now there is time left for contribution, whereof as God has prospered you so freely offer.' The Magistrates and chief gentlemen first, and then the Elders and all the Congregation of them, and most of them that are not of the church, all single persons, widows and women in absence of their husbands, came up one after another one way, and bring their offering to the deacon at his seat, and put it into a box of wood for the purpose, if it be money or papers. If it be any other Chattel they set or lay it down before the deacons; and so pass on another way to their seats again; which money and goods the Deacons dispose towards the maintenance of the Minister, and the poor of the Church, and the Churches occasions without making account ordinarily."
Lechford also said he saw a "faire gilt cup" given at the public contribution; and other gifts of value to the church and minister were often made. Libellous verses too were thrown into the contribution boxes, and warning and gloomy messages from the Quakers; and John Rogers, in derision of a pompous New London minister, threw in the insulting contribution of an old periwig. One Puritan goodwife, sternly unforgiving, never saw a contribution taken for proselyting the Indians without depositing in the contribution-box a number of leaden bullets, the only tokens she wished to see ever dispersed among the red men.
Even our pious forefathers were not always quite honest in their church contributions, and had to be publicly warned, as the records show, that they must deposit "wampum without break or deforming spots," or "passable peage without breaches." The New Haven church was particularly tormented by canny Puritans who thus managed to dispose of their broken and worthless currency with apparent Christian generosity. In 1650 the New Haven "deacons informed the Court that the wampum which is putt into the Church Treasury is generally so bad that the Elders to whom they pay it cannot pay it away."
In 1651, as the bad wampum was still paid in by the pious New Haven Puritans, it was ordered that "no money save silver or bills" be accepted by the deacons. After this order the deacons and elders found tremendous difficulty in getting any contributions at all, and many are the records of the actions and decisions of the church in regard to the perplexing matter. It should be said, in justice to the New Haven colonists, though they were the most opulent of the New England planters, save the wealthy settlers of Narragansett, that money of all kinds was scarce, and that the Indian money, wampum-peag, being made of a comparatively frail sea-shell, was more easily disfigured and broken than was metal coin; and that there was little transferable wealth in the community anyway, even in "Country Pay." The broken-wampum-giver of the seventeenth century, who contributed with intent to defraud and deceive the infant struggling church was the direct and lineal ancestor of the sanctimonious button-giver of nineteenth-century country churches.
In Revolutionary times, after the divine service, special contributions were taken for the benefit of the Continental Army. In New England large quantities of valuable articles were thus collected. Not only money, but finger-rings, earrings, watches, and other jewelry, all kinds of male attire,—stockings, hats, coats, breeches, shoes,—produce and groceries of all kinds, were brought to the meeting-house to give to the soldiers. Even the leaden weights were taken out of the window-sashes, made into bullets, and brought to meeting. On one occasion Madam Faith Trumbull rose up in Lebanon meeting-house in Connecticut, when a collection was being made for the army, took from her shoulders a magnificent scarlet cloak, which had been a present to her from Count Rochambeau, the commander-in-chief of the French allied army, and advancing to the altar, gave it as her offering to the gallant men, who were fighting not only the British army, but terrible want and suffering. The fine cloak was cut into narrow strips and used as red trimmings for the uniforms of the soldiers. The romantic impressiveness of Madam Trumbull's patriotic act kindled warm enthusiasm in the congregation, and an enormous collection was taken, packed carefully, and sent to the army.
One early duty of the deacons which was religiously and severely performed was to watch that no one but an accepted communicant should partake of the holy sacrament. One stern old Puritan, having been officially expelled from church-membership for some temporal rather than spiritual offence, though ignored by the all-powerful deacon, still refused to consider himself excommunicated, and calmly and doggedly attended the communion service bearing his own wine and bread, and in the solitude of his own pew communed with God, if not with his fellow-men. For nearly twenty years did this austere man rigidly go through this lonely and sad ceremonial, until he conquered by sheer obstinacy and determination, and was again admitted to church-fellowship.
A very extraordinary custom prevailed in several New England churches. Through it the deacons were assigned a strange and serious duty which appeared to make them all-important and possibly self-important, and which must have weighed heavily upon them, were they truly godly, and conscientious in the performance of it. In the rocky little town of Pelham in the heart of Massachusetts, toward the close of the eighteenth century and during the pastorate of the notorious thief, counterfeiter, and forger, Rev. Stephen Burroughs, that remarkable rogue organized and introduced to his parishioners the custom of giving during the month a metal check to each worthy and truly virtuous church-member, on presentation of which the check-bearer was entitled to partake of the communion, and without which he was temporarily excommunicated. The duty of the deacon in this matter was to walk up and down the aisles of the church at the close of each service and deliver to the proper persons (proper in the deacon's halting human judgment) the significant checks. The deacon had also to see that this religionistic ticket was presented on the communion Sabbath. Great must have been the disgrace of one who found himself checkless at the end of the month, and greater even than the heart-burnings over seating the meeting must have been the jealousies and church quarrels that arose over the communion-checks. And yet no records of the protests or complaints of indignant or grieving parishioners can be found, and the existence of the too worldly, too business-like custom is known to us only through tradition.
Many of the little chips called "Presbyterian checks" are, however, still in existence. They are oblong discs of pewter, about an inch and a half long, bearing the initials "P. P.," which stand, it is said, for "Pelham Presbyterian." I could not but reflect, as I looked at the simple little stamped slips of metal, that in a community so successful in the difficult work of counterfeiting coin, it would have been very easy to form a mould and cast from it spurious checks with which to circumvent the deacons and preserve due dignity in the meeting.
The Presbyterian checks have never been attributed in Massachusetts to other than the Pelham church, and are usually found in towns in the vicinity of Pelham; and there the story of their purpose and use is universally and implicitly believed. A clergyman of the Pelham church gave to many of his friends these Presbyterian checks, which he had found among the disused and valueless church-properties, and the little relics of the old-time deacons and services have been carefully preserved.
In New Hampshire, however, a similar custom prevailed in the churches of Londonderry and the neighboring towns.. The Londonderry settlers were Scotch-Irish Presbyterians (and the Pelham planters were an off-shoot of the Londonderry settlement), and they followed the custom of the Scotch Presbyterians in convening the churches twice a year to partake of the Lord's Supper. This assembly was always held in Londonderry, and ministers and congregations gathered from all the towns around. Preparatory services were held on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Long tables were placed in the aisles of the church on the Sabbath; and after a protracted and solemn address upon the deep meaning of the celebration and the duties of the church-members, the oldest members of the congregation were seated at the table and partook of the sacrament. Thin cakes of unleavened bread were specially prepared for this sacred service. Again and again were the tables refilled with communicants, for often seven hundred church-members were present. Thus the services were prolonged from early morning until nightfall. When so many were to partake of the Lord's Supper, it seemed necessary to take means to prevent any unworthy or improper person from presenting himself. Hence the tables were fenced off, and each communicant was obliged to present a "token." These tokens were similar to the "Presbyterian checks;" they were little strips of lead or pewter stamped with the initials "L. D.," which may have stood for "Londonderry" or "Lord's Day." They were presented during the year by the deacons and elders to worthy and pious church-members. This bi-annual celebration of the Lord's Supper—this gathering of old friends and neighbors from the rocky wilds of New Hampshire to join, in holy communion—was followed on Monday by cheerful thanksgiving and social intercourse, in which, as in every feast, our old friend, New England rum, played no unimportant part. The three days previous to the communion Sabbath were, however, solemnly devoted to the worship of God; a Londonderry man was reproved and prosecuted for spreading grain upon a Thursday preceding a communion Sunday, just as he would have been for doing similar work upon the Sabbath. The use of these "tokens" in the Londonderry church continued until the year 1830.
In the coin collection of the American Antiquarian Society are little pewter communion-checks, or tokens, stamped with a heart. These were used in the Presbyterian church in Philadelphia, and were delivered to pious church-members at the Friday evening prayer-meeting preceding the communion Sabbath. Long tables were set in the aisles, as at Londonderry. In practice, belief, and origin, the New Hampshire and Pennsylvania churches were sisters.
The deacons had many minor duties to perform in the different parishes. Some of these duties they shared with the tithingman. They visited the homes of the church-members to hear the children say the catechism, they visited and prayed with the sick, and they also reported petty offences, though they were not accorded quite so powerful legal authority as the tithingmen and constables.
It was much desired by several of the first-settled ministers that there should be deaconesses in the New England Puritan church, and many good reasons were given for making such appointments. It was believed that for the special duty of visiting the sick and afflicted in the community deaconesses would be more useful than deacons. There had been an aged deaconess in the Puritan church in Holland, who with a "little birchen rod" had kept the children in awe and order in meeting, and who had also exercised "her guifts" in speaking; but when she died no New England successor was appointed to fill her place.
The Psalm-Book of the Pilgrims.
We read in "The Courtship of Miles Standish," of the fair Priscilla, when John Alden came to woo her for his friend, the warlike little captain, that
"Open wide on her lap lay the well-worn psalm-book of Ainsworth, Printed in Amsterdam, the words and the music together; Rough-hewn, angular notes, like stones in the wall of a churchyard, Darkened and overhung by the running vine of the verses. Such was the book from whose pages she sang the old Puritan anthem."
One of these "well-worn psalm-books of Ainsworth" lies now before me, perhaps the very one from which the lonely Priscilla sang as she sat a-spinning.
There is something especially dear to the lover and dreamer of the olden time, to the book-lover and antiquary as well, in an old, worn psalm or hymn book. It speaks quite as eloquently as does an old Bible of loving daily use, and adds the charm of interest in the quaint verse to reverence for the sacred word. A world of tender fancies springs into life as I turn over the pages of any old psalm-book "reading between the lines," and as I decipher the faded script on the titlepage. But this "psalm-book of Ainsworth," this book loved and used by the Pilgrims, brought over in one of those early ships, perhaps in the "Mayflower" itself, this book so symbolic of those early struggling days in New England, has a romance, a charm, an interest which thrills every drop of Puritan blood in my veins.
It is pleasing, too, this "Ainsworth's Version," aside from any thought of its historic associations; its square pages of diversified type are well printed, and have a quaint unfamiliar look which is intensely attractive, and to which the odd, irregular notes of music, the curiously ornamented head and tail pieces, and the occasional Hebrew or Greek letters add their undefinable charm.
It is a square quarto of three hundred and forty-eight closely printed pages, bound in time-stained but well-preserved parchment, and even the parchment itself is interesting, and lovely to the touch. The titlepage is missing, but I know that this is the edition printed, as was Priscilla's, in Amsterdam in 1612 (not "in England in 1600" as a note written in the last blank page states). The full title was "The Book of Psalms. Englished both in Prose and Metre. With annotations opening the words and sentences by conference with other Scriptures. Eph. v: 18,19. Bee yee filled with the Spirit speaking to yourselves in Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual-Songs singing and making melodie in your hearts to the Lord." The book contains besides the Psalms and Annotations, on its first pages, a "Preface declaring the reason and use of the Book;" and at the last pages a "Table directing to some principal things observed in the Annotations of the Psalms," a list of "Hebrew phrases observed which are somewhat hard and figurative," and also some "General Observations touching the Psalms."
I can well imagine what a pious delight this book was to our Pilgrim Fathers; and what a still greater delight it was to our Pilgrim Mothers, in that day and country of few books. They possessed in it, not only a wonderful new metrical version of the Psalms for singing, but a prose version for comparison as well; and the deeply learned and profoundly worded annotations placed at the end of each Psalm were doubtless of special interest to such "scripturists with all their hearts" as they were.
There were also, "for the use and edification of the saints," printed above each psalm the airs of appropriate tunes. The "rough-hewn, angular notes" are irregularly lozenge-shaped, like the notes or "pricks" in Queen Elizabeth's "Virginal-Book," and are placed on the staff without bars. Ainsworth, in his preface, says, "Tunes for the Psalms I find none set of God: so that ech people is to use the most grave decent and comfortable manner that they know how, according to the general rule. The singing notes I have most taken from our Englished psalms when they will fit the mesure of the verse: and for the other long verses I have also taken (for the most part) the gravest and easiest tunes of the French and Dutch psalmes." Easy the tunes certainly are, to the utmost degree of simplicity.
Great diversity too of type did the Pilgrims find in their Psalm-book: Roman type, Italics, black-letter, all were used; the verse was printed in Italics, the prose in Roman type, and the annotation in black-letter and small Roman text with close-spaced lines. This variety though picturesque makes the text rather difficult to read; for while one can decipher black-letter readily enough when reading whole pages of it, when it is interspersed with other type it makes the print somewhat confusing to the unaccustomed eye.
One curious characteristic of the typography is the frequent use of the hyphen, compound words or rather compound phrases being formed apparently without English rule or reason. Such combinations as these are given as instances: "highly-him-preferre," "renowned-name," "repose-me-quietlie," "in-mind-uplay," "turn-to-ashes," "my-alonely-soul," "beat-them-final," "pouring-out-them-hard," "inveyers-mak-streight," and "condemn-thou-them- as-guilty,"—which certainly would make fit verses to be sung to the accompaniment of Master Mace's "excellent-large-plump-lusty-fullspeaking- organ."
Ainsworth's Version when read proves to be a scholarly book, exhibiting far better grammar and punctuation and more uniformity of spelling than "The New England Psalm-book," which at a later date displaced Ainsworth in the affections and religious services of the New England Puritans and Pilgrims. Both versions are somewhat confused in sense, and of uncouth and grotesque versification; though the metre of Ainsworth is better than the rhyme. It is all written in "common metre," nearly all in lines of eight and six syllables alternately.
The name of the author of this version was Henry Ainsworth; he was the greatest of all the Holland Separatists, a typical Elizabethan Puritan, who left the church in which he was educated and attached himself to the Separatists, or Brownists, as they were called. He went into exile in Amsterdam in 1593, and worked for some time as a porter in a book-seller's shop, living (as Roger Williams wrote) "upon ninepence in the weeke with roots boyled." He established, with the Reverend Mr. Johnson, the new church in Holland; and when it was divided by dissension, he became the pastor of the "Ainsworthian Brownists" and so remained for twelve years. He was a most accomplished scholar, and was called the "rabbi of his age." Governor Bradford, in his "Dialogue," written in 1648, says of Ainsworth, "He had not his better for the Hebrew tongue in the University nor scarce in Europe." Hence, naturally, he was constantly engaged upon some work of translating or commentating, and still so highly prized is some of his work that it has been reprinted during this century. He also, being a skilful disputant, wrote innumerable controversial pamphlets and books, many of which still exist. It is said that he once had a long and spirited controversy with a brother divine as to whether the ephod of Aaron were blue or green. I fear we of to-day have lost much that the final, decisive judgment from so learned scholars and students as to the correct color has not descended to us, and now, if we wish to know, we shall have to fight it all over again.
In spite of his power of argument (or perhaps on account of it) the most prominent part which Ainsworth seemed to take in Amsterdam for many years was that of peacemaker, as many of his contemporaries testify: for they quarrelled fiercely among themselves in the exiled church, though they had such sore need of unity and good fellowship; and they had many church arguments and judgments and lawsuits. They quarrelled over the exercise of power in the church; over the true meaning of the text Matthew xviii. 17; whether the members of the congregation should be allowed to look on their Bibles during the preaching or on their Psalm-books during the singing; whether they should sing at all in their meetings; over the power of the office of ruling elder (a fruitful source of dissension and disruption in the New England congregations likewise) and above all, they quarrelled long and bitterly over the unseemly and gay dress of the parson's wife, Madam Johnson. These were the terrible accusations that were brought against that bedizened Puritan: that she wore "her bodies tied to the petticote with points as men do their doublets and hose; contrary to I Thess. v: 22, conferred with Deut. xx: 11;" that she also wore "lawn coives," and "busks," and "whalebones in the petticote bodies," and a "veluet hoode," and a "long white brest;" and that she "stood gazing bracing and vaunting in the shop dores;" and that "men called her a bounceing girl" (as if she could help that!). And one of her worst and most bitterly condemned offences was that she wore "a topish hat." This her husband vehemently denied; and long discussions and explanations followed on the hat's topishness,—"Mr. Ainsworth dilating much upon a greeke worde" (as of course so learned a man would). For the benefit of unlearned modern children of the Puritans let me give the old Puritan's precise explanation and classification of topishness. "Though veluet in its nature were not topish, yet if common mariners should weare such it would be a sign of pride and topishness in them. Also a gilded raper and a feather are not topish in their nature, neither in a captain to weare them, and yet if a minister should weare them they would be signs of great vanity topishness and lightness." I wonder that topish hat had not undone the whole Puritan church in Holland.
In settling all these and many other disputes, in translating, commentating, and versifying, did Henry Ainsworth pass his days; until, worn out by hard labor, and succumbing to long continued weakness, he died in 1623. This romantic story of his death is told by Neal. "It was sudden and not without suspicion of violence; for it is reported that, having found a diamond of very great value in the streets of Amsterdam, he advertised it in print; and when the owner, who was a Jew, came to demand it, he offered him any acknowledgment he would desire, but Ainsworth though poor would accept of nothing but conference with some of his rabbis upon the prophecies of the Old Testament relating to the Messiah, which the other promised, but not having interest enough to obtain it he was poisoned." This rather ambiguous sentence means that Ainsworth was poisoned, not the Jew. Brooks's account of the story is that the conference took place, the Jews were vanquished, and in revenge poisoned the champion of Christianity afterwards. Dexter most unromantically throws cold water on this poisoning story, and adduces much circumstantial testimony to prove its improbability; but it could hardly have been invented in cold blood by the Puritan historians, and must have had some foundation in truth. And since he is dead, and the thought cannot harm him, I may acknowledge that I firmly believe and I like to believe that he died in so romantic a way.
The Puritans were psalm-singers ever; and in Holland the Brownist division of the church came under strong influences from Geneva and Wittenberg, the birth-places of psalm-singing, that made them doubly fond of "worship in song." Hence the Pilgrim Fathers, Brewster, Bradford, Carver, and Standish, for love of music as well as in affectionate testimony to their old pastor and friend, brought to the New World copies of his version of the Psalms and sang from it with delight and profit to themselves, if not with ease and elegance.
Dexter says very mildly of Ainsworth's literary work that "there are diversities of gifts, and it is no offence to his memory to conclude that he shone more as an exegete than as a poet." Poesy is a gift of the gods and cometh not from deep Hebrew study nor from vast learning, and we must accept Ainsworth's pious enthusiasm in the place of poetic fervor. Of the quality of his work, however, it is best to judge for one's self. Here is his rendition of the Nineteenth Psalm, so well known to us in verse by Addison's glorious "The spacious firmament on high." The prose version is printed in one column and the verse by its side.
1. To the Mayster of the Musik: A Psalm of David
2. The heavens, doo tel the glory of God: and the out-spred firmament shevveth; the work of his hand.
3. Day unto day uttereth speech: and night unto night manifesteth knowledge:
4. No speech, and no words: not heard is their voice
5. Through all the earth, gone-forth is their line: and unto the utmost-end of the world their speakings: he hath put a tent in them for the sun.
6. And he; as a bridegroom, going-forth out of his privy-chamber: joyes as a mighty-man to run a race
7. From the utmost end of the heavens is his egress; and his compassing-regress is unto the utmost-ends of them: and none is hidd, from his heat.
2. The heav'ne, doo tel the glory of God and his firmament dooth preach.
3. work of his hands. Day unto day dooth largely-utter speach and night unto night dooth knowledge shew
4. No speach, and words are none.
5. thier voice it-is not heard. Thier line through all the earth is gone: and to the worlds end, thier speakings: in them he did dispose,
6. tent for the Sun. Who-bride-groom-like out of his chamber goes: joyes strong-man-like, to run a race
7. From heav'ns end, his egress: and his regress to the end of them hidd from his heat, none is:
In order to show the proportion of annotation in the book, and to indicate the mental traits of the author, let me state that this psalm, in both prose and metrical versions, occupies about one page; while the closely printed annotations fill over three pages; which is hardly "explaining with brevitie," as Ainsworth says in his preface. With this psalm the notes commence thus:—
"2. (the out-spred-firmament) the whole cope of heaven, with the aier which though it be soft and liquid and spred over the Earth, yet it is fast and firm and therefore called of us according to the common Greek version a firmament: the holy Ghost expresseth it by another term Mid-heaven. This out-spred-firmament of expansion God made amidds the waters for a separation and named it Heaven, which of David is said to be stretched out as courtayn and elsewhere is said to be as firm as moulten glass. So under this name firmament be commised the orbs of the heav'ns and the aier and the whole spacious country above the earth."
These annotations must have formed to the Pilgrims not only a dictionary but a perfect encyclopaedia of useful knowledge. Things spiritual and things temporal were explained therein. Scientific, historic, and religious information were dispensed impartially. Much and varied instruction was given in Natural History, though viewed of course from a strictly religious point of view. The little Pilgrims learned from their Psalm-Book that the "Leviathan is the great whalefish or seadragon, so called of the fast joyning together of his scales as he is described Job 40: 20, 41 and is used to resemble great tyrants." They also learned that "Lions of sundry-kinds have sundry-names. Tear-in-pieces like a lion. That he ravin not, make-a-prey; called a plueker Renter or Tearer, and elsewhere Laby that is, Harty and couragious; Kphir, this lurking, Couchant. The reason of thier names is shewed, as The renting-lion as greedy to tear, and the lurking-Lion as biding in covert places. Other names are also given to this kind as Shachal, of ramping, of fierce nature; and Lajith of subduing his prey. Psalm LVI Lions called here Lebain, harty, stowt couragious, Lions. Lions are mentioned in the Scriptures for the stowtness of thier hart, boldnes, and grimnes of thier countenance."
Here are other annotations taken at hap-hazard. The lines,
"Al they that doo upon me look a scoff at me doe make they with the lip do make-a-mow the head they scornful-shake,"
Ainsworth thus explains: "Make-a-mow, making-an-opening with the lip which may be taken both for mowing and thrusting out of the lip and for licentious opening thereof to speak reproach." The expression "Keep thou me as the black of the apple of the eye" is thus annotated: "The black, that is, the sight in the midds of the eye wherein appeareth the resemblance of a little man, and thereupon seemeth to be called in Hebrew Ishon which is a man. And as that part is blackish so this word is also used for other black things as the blackness of night. The apple so we call that which the Hebrew here calleth bath and babath that is the babie or little image appearing in the eye." Anger receives this definition: "ire, outward in the face, grauue, grimnes or fiercenes of countenance. The original Aph signifieth both the nose by which one breatheth, and Anger which appeareth in the snuffing or breathing of the nose."
Before the Holland exiles had this version of Ainsworth's to sing from, they used the book known as "Sternhold and Hopkins' Psalms." They gave it up gladly to show honor to the work of their loved pastor, and perhaps also with a sense of pleasure in not having to sing any verses which had been used and authorized by the Church of England. In doing this they had to abandon, however, such spirited lines as Sternhold's—
"The earth did shake, for feare did quake the hills their bases shook. Removed they were, in place most fayre at God's right fearfull looks.