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which their contents furnish us. John Winthrop, writing of his youth when he had grown to the full exalted stature of Christian manhood, and though sweetly mellowed in the graces of his character by genial ripening from within his soul, was still a Puritan of the severest standard theologically, and, by principle, charges himself with heinous sin. We feel assured that he was not only guiltless of any folly or error that would deserve such a designation, bu^ that he even overstated the degree of his addiction to the lighter human faults. Only after such a preliminary assertion of incredulity as to any literal truth in them, could we consent to copy his own words, as follows : — "In my youth I was very lewdly disposed, inclining unto & attempting (so far as my heart enabled me) all kinds of wickedness, except swearing & scorning religion, wh. I had no temptation unto in regard of my education. About ten years of age I had some notions of God: for, in some frighting or danger, I have prayed unto God, & found manifest answer: y* remembrance whereof, many years after, made me think that God did love me: but it made me no whit the better. After I was twelve years old, I began to have t ome more savor of religion : & I thought I had more understanding in divinity than many of my years," etc. Yes, he evidently had. And though the kind of "divinity" which had trained his soul was of a grim sort, his own purity and gentleness of spirit softened it while accepting it. He adds,—"Yet I was still very wild & dissolute: & as years came on, my lusts grew stronger, but yet under some restraint of my natural reason, whereby I had that command of myself that I could turn into any form. I would, as occasion required, write letters, &c. of mere vanity; & if occasion was, I could write savoury & godly counsel." Seeing, however, that he was made a Justice of the Peace when eighteen years of age, the inference is a fair one —his own self-accusation to the contrary notwithstanding — that he was known in
his own neighborhood as a youth of extraordinary excellence of character.
It would appear from the entries in his father's diaries that ho was a member of college some eighteen months. Why he left before completing his course is to find its explanation for us either in the extreme sickness before referred to as visited upon him there, or in the agreeable "change in his condition," as the awkward and sheepish phrase is, which immediately followed. The latter alternative leaves scope and offers temptations for such inventiveness of fancy about details and incidents, whys and wherefores, as the absence of all but the following stingy revelations may justify. The good Adam, after recording, in November, 1604, and in the ensuing March, two mysterious rides with his son, has left this, under date of March 28th, 1605 :—" My soonne was sollemly contracted to Mary Foorth, by Mr. Culverwell minister of Greate Stambridge in Essex cum consensu parentum." Another ride into Essex, this time by the son alone, is entered under April 9th, and then on the 16th his marriage, "jEtaiis suet 17 [annix] 3 mensibut et 4 dielus completit." This reads pleasantly:—"The VHP of May my soonne & his wife came to Groton from London, & y* IX'h I made a marriage feaste, when S'. Thomas Mildmay & his lady my sister were present. The same day my sister Veysye came to me, & departed on ye 24th of Maye. My dawter Fones came the VIII"' & departed home y' XXIII1 of Maye." An expeditious closing up, with honey-moon and marriage-feast, of an evident love - passage, whose longer or shorter antecedents are hot revealed. The biographer leaves his readers their choice of assigning the abrupt close of the college course of Johr Winthrop either to his grievous sickness, or to his love for Mary Forth, daughter and sole heir of John Forth, Escl., of Great Stambridge. We incline rather to the latter alternative as the stronger one, inasmuch as love for Mary may not only have been the direct cause of his loathing Cambridge, but may even have ble spirit, of a grave, but not a gloomy temperament, kindly in his private estimate and generous in his public treatment of others, most unselfish, and rigidly upright . The noble native elements of his character, and the peculiar tone and style of the piety under which his religious experience was developed, mutually reacted upon each other, the result being that his natural virtues were refined and spiritualized, while the morbid and superstitious tendencies of his creed were to a degree neutralized. He seems to refer the crisis in his religious experience to a date immediately following upon his first marriage. But, as we shall see, a repeated trial in the furnace of sharp affliction deepened and enriched that experience. He tells us that during those happy years of his first marriage he had proposed to himself a change from the legal profession to the ministry. By a second marriage, December 6, 1615, to Thomasine Clopton, of a good family in the neighborhood, he had the promise of renewed joy in a condition which his warm-hearted sociability and his intense fondness for domestic relations made essential to his happiness, if not to his virtue. But one single year and one added day saw her and her infant child committed to the tomb, and made him again desolate. His biographer, not without misgivings indeed, but with a deliberation and healthfuluesa of judgment which most of his readers will approve as allowed to overrule them, has spread before us at length, from the most sacred privacy of the stricken mourner, heart-exercises and scenes in the death-chamber, such as engage with most painful, but still entrancing sympathy, the very soul of the reader. We know not where, in all our literature, to find matter like this, so bedewed and steeped in tenderness, so swift in its alternations between lacerating details and soothing suggestions. The author has put into print all that remains of the record of John Winthrop's "Experience," in passages written contemporaneously with its incidents, — a
been the cause of his sickness, which in that case becomes so secondary a cause as hardly to be a cause at all. One thing is certain: our honored Puritan ancestors had no scruples against short engagements, early marriages, or rematings as often as circumstances favored.
The young bridegroom Himself, in the record of his experience, which we quote again for another purpose, reserves the confession of any haste on his own part to enter the married state, and would seem delicately to insinuate parental influence in the case. "About eighteen years of age, being a man in stature & understanding, as my parents conceived me, I married into a family under Mr. Culverwell his ministry in Essex, &, living there sometimes, I first found y* ministry of the word come home to my heart with power (for in all before I found only light) :. & after that, I found y* like in y* ministry of many others: so as there began to be some change: wh. I perceived in myself, & others took notice of."
Six children were born to John Winthrop and his first wife,—three sons and three daughters. John, the eldest of these, afterwards Governor of Connecticut, was born February 22,1606. Mar)-, the only one of the daughters surviving infancy, also came to this country, and married a son of Governor Thomas Dudley. In less than eleven years after her marriage, Mary Forth died, the husband being not yet twenty-eight years old, and the eldest child but nine.
The earliest record of his religious experience appears to have been made under date of 1606. Read with the allowances and abatements to which reference has alr6ady been made, all that this admirable man has left for us of this selfrevelation—little dreaming that it would have such readers — is profoundly interesting and instructive, when estimated from a right point of view and with any degree of congeniality of spirit. Those who are familiar with his published NewEngland Journal nave already recognized in him a man of a simple and hum
document distinct from the record of his "Christian Experience," written here. The account of Thomasine's death-bed exercises, as deciphered from the perishing manuscript, must, we think, stand by itself, either for criticism, or for the defiance of criticism. What we have had of similar scenes only in fragments, and as seen through veils, is here in the fulness of all that can harrow or comfort the human heart, spread before us clear of any withholding. It was the same year in which Shakspeare died, in a bouse built by Sir Hugh Clopton, a member of the same family-connection with Thomasine. Hour by hour, almost minute by minute, the stages of her transition are reported with infinite minuteness. Her own prayers, and those of a steady succession of religious friends, are noted; the melting intonations of her own utterances of anxiety or peace; the parting counsels or warnings addressed to her dependants; the last breathings of affection to those dearest; the occasional aberrations and cloudings of intelligence coming in the progress of her disease, which were assigned to temptations from Satan: all these are given to us. "Her feaver increased very violently upon hir, wh. the Devill made advantage of to moleste hir comforte, but she declaringe unto us with what temptations the devill did assault hir, bent hirselfe against them, prayinge with great vehemence for Gods helpe, & that he would not take away his lovinge kindnesse from hir, defyinge Satan, & spitting at him, so as we might see by hir setting of hir teethe, & fixinge her eyes, shakinge hir head & whole bodye, that she had a very greatt conflicte with the adversarye." The mourner follows this scene to its close. Having transfigured all its dreariest passages with the kindling glow of his own undismayed faith, he lets his grateful spirit crown it with a sweet peace, and then he pays a most tender tribute to the gentle loveliness, fidelity, and Christian excellence of her with whom he had shared so true, though so brief, a joy.
This renewed affliction is turned by the still young sulferer to uses which should assure and intensify his piety according to the best Puritan type of it. He continues his heart-record. He subjects his mode of life, his feelings, habits and aims, the material of his daily food, and the degree of his love for various goods, as they are to be measured by a true scale, to the most rigid tests. Ho spares himself in nothing. The Bible does him as direct a service in rebuke and guidance as if every sentence in it had been written for himself. It is interesting to note that his quotations from it are from a version that preceded our own. His rules of self - discipline and spiritual culture, while wholly free from unwholesome asceticism, nevertheless required the curbing of all desires, and the utter subjection of every natural prompting to a crucial test, be'fore its innocent or edifying character could pass unchallenged.
Vain would be the attempt in our generation to make Puritanism lovely or attractive. Its charms were for its original and sincere disciples, and do not survive them. There is no fashion of dress or furniture which may not be revived, and, if patronized as fashion, be at least tolerated. But for Puritanism there is no restoration. Its rehabilitated relies do not produce their best influence in any attempt to attract our admiration,—which they cannot do, — but in engaging our hearts' tolerant respect and confidence towards those who actually developed its principles at first-hand, its original disciples, who brought it into discredit afterwards by the very fidelity of their loyalty to it. Puritanism is an engaging and not offensive object to us, when regarded as the characteristic of only one single generation of men and women and children. It could not pass from that one generation into another without losing much of what grace it bad, and acquiring most odious and mischievous elements. Entailed Puritanism being an actual impossibility, all attempts to realize it, all assumptions of success in it, have the worst features of sham and hypocrisy. The diligent students of the history and the social life of our own colonial days know very well what an unspeakable difference there was, in all that makes and manifests characters and dispositions, between the first comers here and the first native-born generation, and how painfully that difference tells to the discredit of the latter. The tap-roots of Puritanism struck very deep, and drew the sap of life vigorously. They dried very soon; they are now cut; and whatever owed its life exclusively to them has withered and must perish. A philosophy of Nature and existence now wholly discredited underlay the fundamental views and principles of Puritanism. The early records of our General Court arc thickly strown with appointments of Fast-Days that the people might discover the especial occasion of God's anger toward them, manifested in the blight of some expected harvest, or in a scourge upon the cattle in the field. Some among us who claim to hold unreduced or softened the old ancestral faith have been twice in late years convened in our State-House, by especial call, to legislate upon the potato-disease and the pleuro-pneumonia among our herds. Their joint wisdom resulted in money-appropriations to discover causes and cures. The debates held on these two occasions would have grievously shocked our ancestors. But are there any among us who could in full sincerity, with logic and faith, have stood for the old devout theory of such visitations?
But if it would be equally vain and unjust to attempt to make Puritanism lovely to ourselves, — a quality which ita noblest disciples did not presume to make its foremost attraction, — there is all the more reason why we should do it justice in its original and awfully real presentment in its single generation of veritable discipleship. What became drivelling and cant, presumption and bigotry, pretence and hypocrisy, as soon as a fair trial had tested it, was in the hearts, the speech, the convictions, and the habits of a con
siderable number of persons in one generation, the most thoroughly honest and earnest product of all the influences which had trained thom. We read the heartrevelations of John Winthrop with the profoundest confidence, and even with a constraining sympathy. We venture to say that when this book shall be consulted, through all time to come, for the various uses of historical, religious, or literary illustration, not even the most trifling pen will ever turn a single sentence from its pages to purposes of levity or ridicule. Here we have Puritanism at first-hand: the original, unimitated, and transient resultant of influences which had been working to produce it, and which wo"uld continue their working so as to insure modifications of it . Winthrop notes it for a special Providence that his wife discovered a loathsome spider in the children's porridge before they had partaken of it. His religious philosophy stopped there. He did not put to himself the sort of questions which open in a train to our minds from any one observed fact, elso he would have found himself asking after the special Providence which allowed the spider to fall into the porridge. His friend and successor in high-magistracy in New England, Governor John Endecott, wrote him a letter years afterward which is so characteristic of the faith of both of them that we will make free use of it. The letter is dated Salem, July 28th, 1640, and probably refers to the disaster by which the ship Mary Rose "was blown in pieces with her own powder, being 21 barrels," in Charlestown harbor, the day preceding.*
"Dearest Sin,—Hearing of y• remarkable stroake of Gods hand uppon yf shippe & shippes companie of Bristoll as also of some Atheisticall passages &
* The letter is given in the valuable ooll»ction of "Winthrop Papers," drawn from the same rich repository which has furnished many of the precious materials in the volume before us. The collection appears as the Sixth Volnme of the IVth Series of Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
hellish profanations of y* Sabbaths & deridings of y' people & wayes of God, I thought good to desire a word or two of you of y* trueth of what you have heard. Such an extraordinary judgement would be searched into, what Gods meaninge is in it, both in respect of those whom it concernes more especiallie in England, as also in regard of ourselves. God will be honred in all dealings. We have heard of severall ungodlie carriadges in that ship, as, first, in their way overbound they wld. constantlie jeere at y* holy brethren of Now England, & some of ys marineers would in a scofie ask when they should come to y* holie Land? 2. After they lay in the harbor Mr. Norrice sent to y* shippe one of our brethren uppon busines, & hec heard them say, This is one of y* holie brethren, mockinglie & disdainefullie. 3. That when some have been with them aboard to buy necessaries, y* shippe men would usuallio say to some of them that they could not want any thinge, they were full of y* Spiritt. 4. That ye last Lords Day, or y1 Lords Day before, there were many drinkings aboard with singings & musick in tymes of publiqne exercise. 5. That y° last fast ye master or captaine of the shippe, with most of y* companie, would not goe to y* meetinge, but read y* booke of common prayer so often over that some of y* company said hee had worne that threed-bare, with many such passages. Now if these or y* like be true, as I am persuaded some of them are, I think y• trneth heereof would be made knowen, by some faithfull hand in Bristol! or else where, for it is a very remarkable & unusuall stroake," etc., etc.
Governor Winthrop, who was a man of much milder spirit than Endecott, faithfully records this judgment under its date in his Journal, with additional particulars. The explosion took place "about dmner time, no man knows how, & blew up all, viz. the captain, & nine or ten of his men, & some four or five strangers. There was a special providence that there were no more, for many principal men
were going aboard at that time, & some were in a boat near the ship, & others were diverted by a sudden shower of rain, & others by other occasions." The good Governor makes this startling record the occasion for mentioning " other examples of like kind." Yet the especial providential significance which both he and Endecott could assign to such a calamity would need a readjustment in its interpretation, if compelled to take in two other conditions under which the mysterious ways of that Providence are manifested, namely: first, that many ships on board which there have been no such profane doings' have met with similar disaster; and second, that many ships on board which there has been more heinous sinning have escaped the judgment.
But, as we have said, Puritanism was temporarily consistent with the philosophy of life and Nature for one age. It held no divided sway over John Winthrop, but filled his heart, his mind, and his spirit. If, by its influence over any one human being, regarded as an unqualified, unmodified style of piety, demanding entire allegiance, and not yielding to any mitigation througTi the tempering qualities of an individual, — if, of itself and by itself, Puritanism could be made lovely to us, John Winthrop might well be charged with that exacting representative office. We repeat, that we have no abatement to make of our exalted regard for him through force of a single sentence from his pen. Most profoundly are we impressed by the intensity and thoroughness of conviction, the fulness and frankness of avowal, and the delicate and fervent earnestness of self-consecration, which make these ancient oracles of a human heart fragrant with the odor of true piety. He uses no hackneyed term:', no second-hand or imitated phrases. His language, as well as his thoughts, his method, and ideal standard, are purely his own. Indeed, we might set up and sustain for him a claim of absolute individuality, if not even of originality, in the standard of godl-ness and righteousness which he fashioned for him