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any husband can, who hath taken account of the hairs of thy head,
The “Simple Cobler of Aggawam,” by the Rev. Nathaniel Ward, of Ipswich, written in 1645, and printed in London in 1647, is a production very characteristic of the times. It contains a satire upon the prevailing extravagance of women's dress (a theme not wholly obsolete yet), a furious attack upon the toleration of theological errors, some counsel to the English people upon the civil war then beginning, two or three vigorous and sensible letters to King Charles I., and various shots at the Baptists and lesser sectaries that disturbed the serenity of the colony. This is a sentence of his upon allowing freedom of religious opinions :
“ I dare averre that God doth no where in his word tolerate Christian States to give Tolerations to such adversaries of his Truth, if they have power in their hands to suppresse them.”
Here is another sentence in the author's favorite style : “ Truth does not grow old (non senescit veritas). No man ever saw a gray hair on the head or beard of any Truth, wrinkle or morphew on its face; the bed of Truth is green all the year long."
The title of the 66 Simple Cobler” is a misnomer, for the author is neither simple nor amusing, but is painfully pedantic; his sentences are crammed with Latin, and he delights in barbarous words of his own coining. In striving for wit he seldom gets farther than a play upon words. For example, read the following:
“ It is a more common than convenient saying, that nine Taylors make a man; it were well if nineteene could make a woman to her minde: if Taylors were men indeed, well furnished but with meer morall principles, they would disdain to be led about like Apes by such mymick Marmosets. It is a most unworthy thing for men that have bones in them to spend their lives in making fidle-cases for futilous womens phansies, which are the very pettitoes of infirmity, the gyblets of perquisquilian toyes."
But, in spite of all these evident blemishes, the “ Simple Cobler” was a vigorous writer, with a power of clear statement, and no lack of forcible illustration.
One sentence of his shows that he appreciated the critic's function. In these days, when the bobolink is reproached because it is not an eagle, it may not be amiss to quote: “It is musick to me to heare every Dity speak its spirit in its apt tune; every breast to sing its proper part, and every creature to expresse itself in its naturall note ; should I heare a Mouse roare like a Beare, a Cat lowgh like an Oxe, or a Horse whistle like a Redbreast, it would scare - mee.”
Mistress Anne Bradstreet, daughter of Governor Thomas Dudley, and wife of Simon Bradstreet, secretary of the colony, wrote a volume of poems that was printed in 1647, and seems to have excited great admiration. Mrs. Bradstreet was a learned woman, pears to have aimed at putting a compendium of what was known of history, philosophy, and religion, into ten-syllabled verse. First comes a dialogue between “the four elements” personified, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water; next, one between “ the four humors” in the constitution of man, Choler, Blood, Melancholy, and Phlegm.
of ," " the four seasons of the year,” and “ the four monarchies of the world” (the Assyrian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman). New and Old England next discourse together upon the civil war then arising between the king and the Commons; and then a collection of elegies and epitaphs ends the book.
It would seem that some discussion had taken place, even at that
the four ages
early day, upon the proper sphere of woman, for Mistress Anne says,
“I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
Who says my hand a needle better fits,
For such despite they cast on Female wits :
We print a few lines from “An Elegie upon that Honourable and renowned Knight, Sir Philip Sidney, who was untimely slain at the Siege of Zutphen, Anno 1586."
“When England did enjoy her Halsion dayes
Her noble Sidney wore the Crown of Bayes :
“O, brave Achilles, I wish some Homer would *
Engrave in Marble with Characters of gold
It is quite needless to observe that Mrs. Bradstreet's poems are rather hard reading, and that the patient gleaner will find few blossoms am all the briery sheaves.
Let us turn to a great name in New England history — to Cotton Mather, who above all men was an epitome of the learning, the theological subtilty, the political opinions, and the credulity of the
* The rhyme would seem to indicate that the sound of 1 in “ would” had not then become wholly silent.
age. His family might almost be called Levitical, since ten members of it within three generations were settled ministers of the gospel in Massachusetts. He was the son of a venerated clergyman, and may be said to have had his nurture and training in the sanctuary. His industry as
a writer was ing, his published works — chiefly sermons and memoirs — being three hundred and eighty-two in number. His principal work is commonly called the “ Magnalia ;” its full title is “ Magnalia Christi Americana,” the meaning of which is best expressed by a paraphrase, “the great things wrought by Christ for the American church.” It contains a detailed account of the settlement of the New England colonies ; lives of the governors, other magistrates, and clergy ; the principal events in the Indian and French wars ; a treatise upon special providences, including a great number of accounts of God's judgments by shipwreck, lightning, and sudden death, and narratives of the trials for witchcraft in Salem and elsewhere.
The general tone of the work makes a painful impression upon the mind; nor is the pervading gloom relieved by the intended amenities of style. Scraps of Latin, Greek, or Hebrew sprinkle nearly every page. Quotations of heathen poetry are forced into unhappy association with polemical theology, in a way almost to recall Virgil and his fellow Romans from the shades to claim their own. And the narration, though intelligible enough, often hobbles along until the reader fancies himself jolting over some of the dreadful roads that crossed the ancient wilderness. After the fashion of the time he indulges in never-ending quibbles and puns.
In his controversy with Mr. Calef he must shorten his name to calf. In mentioning President Oakes he hopes he will be transplanted to the heavenly pasture, and he speaks of the students under him as young Druids. Three clergymen caine over in the same vessel, named Cotton, Hooker, and Stone. Mather said the people had now something for each of their three great necessities — Cotton for their clothing, Hooker for their fishing, and Stone for their building. He afterwards calls the latter a gem, then a flint, and then a lode stone. In the epitaph upon Francis Higginson the passer-by is admonished to be of this order of Franciscans. In the life of Ralph Partridge we see him hunted by Episcopal beak and claw upon the mountains until he makes a flight to America.
As Cotton Mather was a man of uncommon ability and learning, it is a matter of some difficulty to state the reasons why he occupies a place so much lower in literary than in ecclesiastical annals. What is said of him will apply, with some qualification, to other writers of his time. Parables, emblems, and metaphors were the prevailing fashion, both in England and America. To use this pictoria) style effectively and with taste, requires an instinctive judgment and sense of the fitness of things which few men in a generation possess. Speakers and writers who are in the habit of employing figurative language, are apt to leave sentences with lame conclusions, because it is not every illustration that can be carried out to a symmetrica) close. The image that rises to the mind is often like that seen by the prophet in vision, of which though the countenance was golden, the feet were of clay.
Michael Wigglesworth was the author of The Day of Doom, or a Poetical Description of the Great and Last Judgment, with a short Discourse about Eternity, and other pieces. This work was very successful at the time, owing more to the subject and to the religious character of the colonists than to the merit of the verses. The style is rugged and tasteless, and if we should give any specimens, even the best, it might be considered as tending to bring sacred things into ridicule.
Wood's New England Prospect is a lively description of the country and its resources, written in both prose and verse. It hardly belongs to our literature, as the author printed it in London in 1634, after a very brief residence in the colony, and it is doubtful whether he ever returned here.
There were many learned and able men among the New England clergy, such as Thomas Hooker, Thomas Shepard, John Eliot, and John Cotton ; but their works belong to the history of theology.
The Plymouth Colony was even less fruitful in literature than the