Anne Bradstreet and her time/Chapter X
village life in 1650.
OF the eight children that came to Simon and Anne Bradstreet, but one was born in the "great house" at Andover, making his appearance in 1652, when life had settled into the routine that thereafter knew little change, save in the one disastrous experience of 1666. This son, John, who like all the rest, lived to marry and leave behind him a plenteous family of children, was a baby of one year old, when the first son, Samuel, "stayed for many years," was graduated at Harvard College, taking high honor in his class, and presently settling as a physician in Boston, sufficiently near to be called upon in any emergency in the Andover home, and visited often by the younger brothers, each of whom became a Harvard graduate. Samuel probably had no share in the removal, but Dorothy and Sarah, Simon and Hannah, were all old enough to rejoice in the upheaval, and regard the whole episode as a prolonged picnic made for their especial benefit. Simon was then six years old, quite ready for Latin grammar and other responsibilities of life, and according to the Puritan standard, an accountable being from whom too much trifling could by no means be allowed, and who undoubtedly had a careful eye to the small Hannah, aged four, also old enough to knit a stocking and sew a seam, and read her chapter in the Bible with the best. Dorothy and Sarah could take even more active part, yet even the mature ages of eight and ten did not hinder surreptitious tumbles into heaped up feather beds, and a scurry through many a once forbidden corner of the Ipswich home. For them there was small hardship in the log house that received them, and unending delight in watching the progress of the new. And one or another must often have ridden before the father, who loved them with more demonstration than the Puritan habit allowed, and who in his frequent rides to the new mill built on the Cochichewick in 1644, found a petitioner always urging to be taken, too. The building of the mill probably preceded that of the house, as Bradstreet thought always of public interests before his own, though in this case the two were nearly identical, a saw and grist-mill being one of the first necessities of any new settlement, and of equal profit to owner and users.
Anne Bradstreet was now a little over thirty, five children absorbing much of her thought and time, three more being added during the first six years at Andover. When five had passed out into the world and homes of their own, she wrote, in 1656, half regretfully, yet triumphantly, too, a poem which is really a family biography, though the reference to her fifth child as a son, Mr. Ellis regards as a slip of the pen:
"I had eight birds hatcht in one nest,
Four Cocks there were, and Hens the rest;
I nurst them up with pain and care,
Nor cost, nor labour did I spare,
Till at the last they felt their wing,
Mounted the Trees, and learn'd to sing;
Chief of the Brood then took his flight
To Regions far, and left me quite;
My mournful chirps I after send,
Till he return, or I do end;
Leave not thy nest, thy Dam and Sire,
Fly back and sing amidst this Quire.
My second bird did take her flight,
And with her mate flew out of sight;
Southward they both their course did bend,
And Seasons twain they there did spend;
Till after blown by Southern gales,
They Norward steer'd with filled Sayles.
A prettier bird was no where seen,
Along the beach among the treen.
I have a third of colour white
On whom I plac'd no small delight;
Coupled with mate loving and true,
Hath also bid her Dam adieu;
And where Aurora first appears,
She now hath percht, to spend her years;
One to the Academy flew
To chat among that learned crew;
Ambition moves still in his breast
That he might chant above the rest,
Striving for more than to do well,
That nightingales he might excell.
My fifth, whose down is yet scarce gone
Is 'mongst the shrubs and bushes flown,
And as his wings increase in strength,
On higher boughs he'l pearch at length.
My other three, still with me nest,
Untill they'r grown, then as the rest,
Or here or there, they'l take their flight,
As is ordain'd, so shall they light.
If birds could weep, then would my tears
Let others know what are my fears
Lest this my brood some harm should catch,
And be surpriz'd for want of watch,
Whilst pecking corn, and void of care
They fish un'wares in Fowler's snare;
Or whilst on trees they sit and sing,
Some untoward boy at them do fling;
Or whilst allur'd with bell and glass,
The net be spread, and caught, alas.
Or least by Lime-twigs they be foyl'd,
Or by some greedy hawks be spoyl'd.
O, would my young, ye saw my breast,
And knew what thoughts there sadly rest,
Great was my pain when I you bred,
Great was my care when I you fed,
Long did I keep you soft and warm,
And with my wings kept off all harm;
My cares are more, and fears then ever,
My throbs such now, as 'fore were never;
Alas, my birds, you wisdome want,
Of perils you are ignorant;
Oft times in grass, on trees, in flight,
Sore accidents on you may light.
O, to your safety have an eye,
So happy may you live and die;
Mean while my dayes in tunes I'll spend,
Till my weak layes with me shall end.
In shady woods I'll sit and sing,
And things that past, to mind I'll bring.
Once young and pleasant, as are you,
But former boyes (no joyes) adieu.
My age I will not once lament,
But sing, my time so near is spent.
And from the top bough take my flight,
Into a country beyond sight,
Where old ones, instantly grow young,
And there with Seraphims set song;
No seasons cold, nor storms they see,
But spring lasts to eternity;
When each of you shall in your nest
Among your young ones take your rest,
In chirping language, oft them tell,
You had a Dam that lov'd you well,
That did what could be done for young,
And nurst you up till you were strong,
And 'fore she once would let you fly,
She shew'd you joy and misery;
Taught what was good, and what was ill,
What would save life, and what would kill?
Thus gone, amongst you I may live,
And dead, yet speak, and counsel give;
Farewel, my birds, farewel, adieu,
I happy am, if well with you.
The Bradstreets and Woodbridges carried with them to Andover, more valuable worldly possessions than all the rest put together, yet even for them the list was a very short one. An inventory of the estate of Joseph Osgood, the most influential citizen after Mr. Bradstreet, shows that only bare necessities had gone with him. His oxen and cattle and the grain stored in his barn are given first, with the value of the house and land and then follow the list of household belongings, interesting now as showing with how little a reputable and honored citizen had found it possible to bring up a family.
A feather bed and furniture.
A flock bed, (being half feathers) & furniture.
A flock bed & furniture.
Five payre of sheets & an odd one.
Fower payre of pillow-beeres.
Twenty-two pieces of pewter.
For Iron pott, tongs, cottrell & pot-hooks.
Two muskets & a fowling-piece.
Sword, cutlass & bandaleeres.
Barrels, tubbs, trays, cheese-moates and pailes.
Bedsteads, cords & chayers.
Chests and wheels.
Various yards of stuffs and English cloth are also included, but nothing could well be more meager than this outfit, though doubtless it filled the narrow quarters of the early years. Whatever may have come over afterward, there were none of the heirlooms to be seen to-day, in the shape of family portraits, and plate, china or heavily carved mahogany or oak furniture. For the poorer houses, only panes of oiled paper admitted the light, and this want of sunshine was one cause of the terrible loss of life in fevers and various epidemics from which the first settlers suffered. Leaden sashes held the small panes of glass used by the better class, but for both the huge chimneys with their roaring fires did the chief work of ventilation and purification, while the family life centered about them in a fashion often described and long ago lost.
There is a theory that our grandmothers in these first days of the settlement worked with their own hands, with an energy never since equalled, and more and more departed from as the years go on. But all investigation of early records shows that, as far as practicable, all English habits remained in full force, and among such habits was that of ample service.
It is true that mistress and maid worked side by side, but the tasks performed now by any farmer's wife are as hard and more continuous than any labor of the early days, where many hands made light work. If spinning and weaving have passed out of the hands of women, the girls who once shared in the labor, and helped to make up the patriarchal households of early times, have followed, preferring the monotonous and wearing routine of mill-life, to the stigma resting upon all who consent to be classed as "help". If social divisions were actually sharper and more stringent in the beginning, there was a better relation between mistress and maid, for which we look in vain to-day.
In many cases, men and women secured their passage to America by selling their time for a certain number of years, and others whose fortunes were slightly better, found it well, until some means of living was secured, to enter the families of the more wealthy colonists, many of whom had taken their English households with them. So long as families centered in one spot, there was little difficulty in securing servants, but as new settlements were formed servants held back, naturally preferring the towns to the chances of Indian raids and the dangers from wild beasts. Necessity brought about a plan which has lasted until within a generation or so, and must come again, as the best solution of the servant problem. Roger Williams writes of his daughter that "she desires to spend some time in service & liked much Mrs. Brenton who wanted help." This word "help" applied itself to such cases, distinguishing them from those of the ordinary servant, and girls of the good families put themselves under notable housekeepers to learn the secrets of the profession—a form of cooking and household economy school, that we sigh for vainly to-day. The Bradstreets took their servants from Ipswich, but others in the new town were reduced to sore straits, in some cases being forced to depend on the Indian woman, who, fresh from the wigwam, looked in amazement on the superfluities of civilized life. Hugh Peters, the dogmatic and most unpleasant minister of Salem, wrote to a Boston friend: "Sir, Mr Endecott & myself salute you in the Lord Jesus, &c. Wee have heard of a dividence of woman & children in the bay & would be glad of a share, viz: a young woman or girle & a boy if you thinke good." This was accomplished but failed to satisfy, for two years later Peters again writes: "My wife desires my daughter to send to Hanna that was her mayd, now at Charltowne, to know if shee would dwell with us, for truly wee are so destitute (having now but an Indian) that wee know not what to do." This was a desperate state of things, on which Lowell comments: "Let any housewife of our day, who does not find the Keltic element in domestic life so refreshing as to Mr. Arnold in literature, imagine a household with one wild Pequot woman, communicated with by signs, for its maid of all work, and take courage. Those were serious times indeed, when your cook might give warning by taking your scalp, or chignon, as the case might be, and making off with it, into the woods."
Negro slavery was the first solution of these difficulties and one hard-headed member of the Colony, Emanual Downing, as early as 1645, saw in the Indian wars and the prisoners that were taken, a convenient means of securing the coveted negro, and wrote to Winthrop: "A war with the Narragansett is very considerable to this plantation, ffor I doubt whither it be not synne in us, having power in our hands, to suffer them to maynteyne the worship of the devill which their paw-wawes often doe; 2 lie, If upon a just warre the Lord should deliver them into our hands, wee might easily have men, woemen and children enough to exchange for Moores, which wilbe more gaynefull pillage for us than wee conceive, for I do not see how we can thrive untill wee gett into a stock of slaves, sufficient to doe all our buisenes, for our children's children will hardly see this great Continent filled with people, soe that our servants will still desire freedome to plant for themselves, and not stay but for verie great wages. And I suppose you know verie well how wee shall maynteyne 20 Moores cheaper than one English servant."
The canny Puritan considered that Indian "devil-worship" fully balanced any slight wrong in exchanging them for "Moores" and writes of it as calmly as he does of sundry other events, somewhat shocking to the modern mind. But, while slaves increased English servants became harder and harder to secure, and often revolted from the masters to whom their time had been sold. There is a certain relish in Winthrop's record of two disaffected ones, which is perhaps not unnatural even from him, and is in full harmony with the Puritan tendency to see a special Providence in any event according to their minds:
"Two men servants to one Moodye, of Roxbury, returning in a boat from the windmill, struck upon the oyster bank. They went out to gather oysters, and not making fast their boat, when the float came, it floated away and they were both drowned, although they might have waded out on either side, but it was an evident judgement of God upon them, for they were wicked persons. One of them, a little before, being reproved for his lewdness, and put in mind of hell, answered that if hell were ten times hotter, he had rather be there than he would serve his master, &c. The occasion was because he had bound himself for divers years, and saw that, if he had been at liberty, he might have had greater wages, though otherwise his master used him very well."
From whatever source the "Moores" were obtained, they were bought and sold during the first hundred years that Andover had existence. "Pomps Pond" still preserves the memory of Pompey Lovejoy, servant to Captain William Lovejoy. Pompey's cabin stood there, and as election day approached, great store of election-cake and beer was manufactured for the hungry and thirsty voters, to whom it proved less demoralizing than the whiskey of to-day. There is a record of the death in 1683, of Jack, a negro servant of Captain Dudley Bradstreet's, who lost also, in 1693, by drowning, "Stacy, ye servant of Major Dudley Bradstreet, a mullatoe born in his house." Mistress Bradstreet had several, whose families grew up about her, their concerns being of quite as deep interest as those of her neighbors, and the Andover records hold many suggestions of the tragedies and comedies of slave life. Strong as attachments might sometimes be, the minister himself sold Candace, a negro girl who had grown up in his house, and five year old Dinah was sent from home and mother at Dunstable, to a new master in Andover, as witness the bill of sale, which has a curious flavor for a Massachusetts document:
"Received of Mr. John Abbott of Andover Fourteen pounds, thirteen shillings and seven pence, it being the full value of a negrow garl named Dinah about five years of age of a Healthy sound Constution, free from any Disease of Body and do hereby Deliver the same Girl to the said Abbott and promise to Defend him in the Improvement of her as his servant forever.
Undoubtedly Dinah and all her contemporaries proved infinitely better servants than the second generation of those brought from England; who even as early as 1656, had learned to prefer independence, the Rev. Zechariah Symmes writing feelingly: "Much ado I have with my own family, hard to get a servant glad of catechising or family duties. I had a rare blessing of servants in Yorkshire and those I brought over were a blessing, but the young brood doth much afflict me."
An enthusiastic cook, even of most deeply Puritanic spirit, had been known to steal out during some long drawn prayer, to rescue a favorite dish from impending ruin, and the offence had been condoned or allowed to pass unnoticed. But the "young brood" revolted altogether at times from the interminable catechisings and "family duties", or submitted in a sulky silence, at which the spirit of the master girded in vain.
There seems to have been revolt of many sorts. Nature asserted itself, and boys and girls smiled furtively upon one another, and young men and maidens planned means of outwitting stern masters and mistresses, and securing a dance in some secluded barn, or the semblance of a merry making in picnic or ride. But stocks, pillory and whipping-post awaited all offenders, who still found that the secret pleasure outweighed the public pain, and were brought up again and again, till years subdued the fleshly instincts, and they in turn wondered at their children's pertinacity in the same evil ways. Holidays were no part of the Puritan system, and the little Bradstreets took theirs on the way to and from school, doing their wading and fishing and bird's-nesting in this stolen time. There was always Saturday afternoon, and Anne Bradstreet was also, so far as her painful conscientiousness allowed, an indulgent mother, and gave her children such pleasure as the rigid life allowed.
Andover from the beginning had excellent schools, Mr. Dane and Mr. Woodbridge, the ministers, each keeping one, while "dame schools" also flourished, taking the place of the present Kindergarten, though the suppressed and dominated babies of three and four, who swung their unhappy feet far from the floor, and whose only reader was a catechism, could never in their wildest dreams have imagined anything so fascinating as the Kindergarten or primary school of to-day. Horn books were still in use and with reason, the often-flagellated little Puritans giving much time to tears, which would have utterly destroyed any thing less enduring than horn. Until 1647, the teaching of all younger children had been done chiefly at home, and Anne Bradstreet's older children learned their letters at her knee, and probably, like all the children of the day, owned their little Bibles, and by the time they were three or four years of age, followed the expounding at family prayers with only a glance now and then toward the kitten, or the family dog, stretched out before the fire, and watching for any look of interest and recognition.
After 1647, and the order of the General Court, "that every township in this jurisdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to fifty house-holders, shall then forthwith appoint one within their towns to teach all such children as shall resort to him, to read and write." The district school-house waited till Indian raids had ceased to be dreaded, but though the walk to the small, square building which in due time was set in some piece of woods or at a point where four roads meet, was denied them, it was something to come together at all, and the children found delight in berrying or nutting, or the crackle of the crisp snow-crust, over which they ran.
They waked in those early days, often with the snow lying lightly on their beds under the roof, through the cracks of which it sifted, and through which they saw stars shine or the morning sunlight flicker. Even when this stage passed, and the "great house" received them, there was still the same need for rushing down to the fire in kitchen or living-room, before which they dressed, running out, perhaps, in the interludes of strings and buttons, to watch the incoming of the fresh logs which Cæsar or Cato could never bear alone.
In the Bradstreet mansion, with its many servants, there was less need of utilizing every child as far as possible, but that all should labor was part of the Puritan creed, and the boys shared the work of foddering the cattle, bringing in wood and water, and gaining the appetite which presently found satisfaction, usually in one of two forms of porridge, which for the first hundred and fifty years was the Puritan breakfast. Boiled milk, lightly thickened with Indian meal, and for the elders made more desirable by "a goode piece of butter," was the first, while for winter use, beans or peas were used, a small piece of pork or salted beef giving them flavor, and making the savory bean porridge still to be found here and there. Wheaten bread was then in general use; much more so than at a later date, when "rye and Indian" took its place, a fortunate choice for a people who, as time went on, ate more and more salt pork and fish.
Game and fresh fish were plentiful in the beginning and poultry used with a freedom that would seem to the farmer of to-day, the maddest extravagance. The English love of good cheer was still strong, and Johnson wrote in his "Wonder-Working Providence": "Apples, pears and quince tarts, instead of their former pumpkin-pies. Poultry they have plenty and great rarity, and in their feasts have not forgotton the English fashion of stirring up their appetites with variety of cooking their food."
Certain New England dishes borrowed from the natives, or invented to meet some emergency, had already become firmly established. Hasty-pudding, made chiefly then as now, from Indian meal, was a favorite supper dish, rye often being used instead, and both being eaten with molasses, and butter or milk. Samp and hominy, or the whole grain, as "hulled corn", had also been borrowed from the Indians, with "succotash", a fascinating combination of young beans and green corn. Codfish made Saturday as sacred as Friday had once been, and baked beans on Sunday morning became an equally inflexible law. Every family brewed its own beer, and when the orchards had grown, made its own cider. Wine and spirits were imported, but rum was made at home, and in the early records of Andover, the town distiller has honorable mention. Butcher's meat was altogether too precious to be often eaten, flocks and herds bearing the highest money value for many years, and game and poultry took the place of it. But it was generous living, far more so than at the present day, abundance being the first essential where all worked and all brought keen appetites to the board, and every householder counted hospitality one of the cardinal virtues.
Pewter was the only family plate, save in rarest instances. Forks had not yet appeared, their use hardly beginning in England before 1650, save among a few who had travelled and adopted the custom. Winthrop owned one, sent him in 1633, and the Bradstreets may have had one or more, but rather as a curiosity than for daily use. Fingers still did much service, and this obliged the affluence of napkins, which appears in early inventories. The children ate from wooden bowls and trenchers, and their elders from pewter. Governor Bradford owned "fourteen dishes of that material, thirteen platters, three large and two small plates, a candlestick and a bottle," and many hours were spent in polishing the rather refractory metal. He also owned "four large silver spoons" and nine smaller ones. But spoons, too, were chiefly pewter, though often merely wood, and table service was thus reduced as nearly to first principles as possible. Very speedily, however, as the Colony prospered, store of silver and china was accumulated, used only on state occasions, and then carefully put away.
The servant question had other phases than that of mere inadequacy, and there are countless small difficulties recorded; petty thefts, insolent speeches, and the whole familiar list which we are apt to consider the portion only of the nineteenth century. But there is nothing more certain than that, in spite of creeds, human nature remains much the same, and that the Puritan matron fretted as energetically against the pricks in her daily life, as any sinner of to-day. Mistress Bradstreet, at least, had one experience in which we hear of her as "very angry at the mayde", and which gave food for gossips for many a day.
Probably one of the profoundest excitements that ever entered the children's lives, was in the discovery of certain iniquities perpetrated by a hired servant John—whose surname, if he ever had one, is lost to this generation, and who succeeded in hiding his evil doings so thoroughly, that there were suspicions of every one but himself. He was a hard worker, but afflicted with an inordinate appetite, the result of which is found in this order:
"To the Constable of Andover. You are hereby required to attach the body of John ——, to answer such compt as shall be brought against him, for stealing severall things, as pigges, capons, mault, bacon, butter, eggs &c, & for breaking open a seller-doore in the night several times &c. 7th 3d month 1661."
John, suddenly brought to trial, first affirmed that his appetite was never over large, but that the food provided the Bradstreet servants "was not fit for any man to eate," the bread especially being "black & heavy & soure," and that he had only occasionally taken a mere bite here and there to allay the painful cravings such emptiness produced. But hereupon appeared Goodwife Russ, in terror lest she should be accused of sharing the spoils, and testifying that John had often brought chickens, butter, malt and other things to her house and shared them with Goodman Russ, who had no scruples. The "mayde had missed the things" and confided her trouble to Goodwife Russ, who had gone up to the great house, and who, pitying the girl, knowing that her mistress would blame her and be very angry, brought them all back, and then told her husband and John what she had done. Another comrade made full confession, testifying in court that at one time they killed and roasted a "great fatt pigg" in the lot, giving what remained "to the dogges," John seasoning the repast with stories of former thefts. It was in court that Master Jackson learned what had been the fate of "a great fatt Turkey . . . fatted against his daughter's marriage" and hung for keeping in a locked room, down the chimney of which, "2 or 3 fellowes" let the enterprising John by a rope who, being pulled up with his prize, "roasted it in the wood and ate it," every whit. Down the same chimney he went for "strong beare," and anyone who has once looked upon and into an ancient Andover chimney will know that not only John, but the "2 or 3 fellowes," as well, could have descended side by side.
Then came a scene in which little John Bradstreet, aged nine, had part, seeing the end if not the beginning, of which Hannah Barnard "did testifye that being in my father's lott near Mr. Bradstreet's barn, did see John run after Mr. Bradstreet's fouls & throughing sticks and stones at them & into the Barne."
Looking through a crack to find out the result she "saw him throw out a capon which he had killed, and heard him call to Sam Martin to come; but when he saw that John Bradstreet was with Martin, he ran and picked up the capon and hid it under a pear tree."
This pear tree, climbed by every Bradstreet child, stood at the east of the old house, and held its own till well into the present century, and little John may have been on his way for a windfall, when the capon flew toward him. To stealing was added offences much more malicious, several discreet Puritan lads, sons of the foremost land holders having been induced by sudden temptation, to join him in running Mr. Bradstreet's wheels down hill into a swamp, while at a later date they watched him recreating himself in the same manner alone, testifying that he "took a wheele off Mr. Bradstreet's tumbril and ran it down hill, and got an old wheel from Goodman Barnard's land, & sett it on the tumbril."
John received the usual punishment, but mended his ways only for a season, his appetite rather increasing with age, and his appearance before the Court being certain in any town to which he went. No other servant seems to have given special trouble, and probably all had laid to heart the "Twelve Good Rules," printed and hung in every colonial kitchen:
Profane no Divine ordinance.
Touch no state matters.
Urge no healths.
Pick no quarrels.
Encourage no vice.
Repeat no grievances.
Reveal no secrets.
Mantain no ill opinions.
Make no comparisons.
Keep no bad company.
Make no long meals.
Lay no wagers.
The problem of work and wages weighed heavily on the young Colony. There were grasping men enough to take advantage of the straits into which many came through the scarcity of labor, and Winthrop, as early as 1633, had found it necessary to interfere. Wages had risen to an excessive rate, "so as a carpenter would have three shillings a day, a labourer two shillings and sixpence &c.; and accordingly those that had commodities to sell, advanced their prices sometime double to that they cost in England, so as it grew to a general complaint, which the court taking knowledge of, as also of some further evils, which were springing out of the excessive rates of wages, they made an order, that carpenters, masons, &c., should take but two shillings the day, and labourers but eighteen pence, and that no commodity should be sold at above fourpence in the shilling more than it cost for ready money in England; oil, wine, &c., and cheese, in regard of the hazard of bringing, &c., excepted. The evils which were springing, &c., were: 1. Many spent much time idly, &c., because they could get as much in four days as would keep them a week. 2. They spent much in tobacco and strong waters, &c., which was a great waste to the Commonwealth, which by reason of so many commodities expended, could not have subsisted to this time, but that it was supplied by the cattle and corn which were sold to new comers at very dear rates." This bit of extortion on the part of the Colony as a government, does not seem to weigh on Winthrop's mind with by any means as great force as that of the defeated workmen, and he gives the colonial tariff of prices with even a certain pride: "Corn at six shillings the bushel, a cow at £20—yea, some at £24, some £26—a mare at £35, an ewe goat at 3 or £4; and yet many cattle were every year brought out of England, and some from Virginia." At last the new arrivals revolted, and one order ruled for all, the rate of profit charged, being long fixed at four pence in the shilling. Andover adopted this scale, being from the beginning of a thrifty turn of mind, which is exemplified in one of the first ordinances passed. Many boys and girls had been employed by the owners of cattle to watch and keep them within bounds, countless troubles arising from their roaming over the unfenced lands. To prevent the forming of idle habits the Court at once, did "hereupon order and decree that in every towne the chosen men are to take care of such as are sett to keep cattle, that they be sett to some other employment withall, as spinning upon the rock, knitting & weaving tape, &c., that boyes and girls be not suffered to converse together."
Such conversations as did take place had a double zest from the fact that the sharp-eyed herdsman was outwitted, but as a rule the small Puritans obeyed orders and the spinners and knitters in the sun, helped to fill the family chests which did duty as bureaus, and three varieties of which are still to be seen in old houses on the Cape, as well as in the Museum at Plymouth. The plain sea-chest, like the sailor's chest of to-day, was the property of all alike, and usually of solid oak. A grade above this, came another form, with turned and applied ornaments and two drawers at the bottom, a fine specimen of which is still in the old Phillips house at North Andover, opposite the Bradstreet house. The last variety had more drawers, but still retained the lid on top, which being finally permanently fastened down, made the modern bureau. High-backed wooden chairs and an immense oaken table with folding ladder legs, furnished the living-room, settles being on either side of the wide chimney, where, as the children roasted apples or chestnuts, they listened to stories of the wolves, whose howl even then might still be heard about the village. There are various references to "wolf-hooks" in Governor Bradstreet's accounts, these being described by Josselyn as follows:
"Four mackerel hooks are bound with brown thread and wool wrapped around them, and they are dipped into melted tallow till they be as big and round as an egg. This thing thus prepared is laid by some dead carcase which toles the wolves. It is swallowed by them and is the means of their being taken."
Every settler believed that "the fangs of a wolf hung about children's necks keep them from frightning, and are very good to rub their gums with when they are breeding of teeth." It was not at all out of character to look on complacently while dogs worried an unhappy wolf, the same Josselyn writing of one taken in a trap: "A great mastiff held the wolf. . . . Tying him to a stake we bated him with smaller doggs and had excellent sport; but his hinder leg being broken, they knocked out his brains."
To these hunts every man and boy turned out, welcoming the break in the monotonous life, and foxes and wolves were shot by the dozen, their method being to "lay a sledg-load of cods-heads on the other side of a paled fence when the moon shines, and about nine or ten of the clock, the foxes come to it; sometimes two or three or half a dozen and more; these they shoot, and by that time they have cased them there will be as many more; so they continue shooting and killing of foxes as long as the moon shineth."
Road-making became another means of bringing them together for something besides religious services, and as baskets of provisions were taken with the workers, and the younger boys were allowed to share in the lighter part of the work, a suggestion of merry-making was there also. These roads were often changed, being at no time much more than paths marked by the blazing of trees and the clearing away of timber and undergrowth. There were no bridges save over the narrower streams, fording being the custom, till ferries were established at various points. Roads and town boundaries were alike undetermined and shifting. "Preambulators," otherwise surveyors, found their work more and more complicated. "Marked trees, stakes and stones," were not sufficient to prevent endless discussions between selectmen and surveyors, and there is a document still on file which shows the straits to which the unhappy "preambulators" were sometimes reduced.
"To Ye Selectmen of Billerica: Loving friends and neighbors, we have bine of late under such surcomstances that wee could not tell whether wee had any bounds or no between our towne, but now we begine to think we have—this therefore are to desier you to send some men to meet with ours upon the third Munday of ye next month by nine a'clock in ye morning, if it be a faire day, if not the next drie day, and so to run one both side of the river and to meet at the vesil place and the west side of ye river."
There were heart burnings from another source than this, and one which could never be altered by selectmen, whether at home or abroad. For generations, no person was allowed to choose a seat in church, a committee, usually the magistrates, settling the places of all. In the beginning, after the building of any meeting-house, the seats were all examined and ranked according to their desirability, this process being called, "dignifying the pews." All who held the highest social or ecclesiastical positions were then placed; and the rest as seemed good, the men on one side, the women on another, and the children, often on a low bench outside the pews, where they were kept in order by the tithing man, who, at the first symptom of wandering attention, rapped them over the head with his hare's foot mounted on a stick, and if necessary, withdrew them from the scene long enough for the administration of a more thorough discipline.
There are perpetual complaints of partiality—even hints that bribery had been at work in this "seating the meeting-house," and the committee chosen found it so disagreeable a task that Dudley Bradstreet, when in due time his turn came to serve, protested against being compelled to it, and at last revolted altogether.
At Boston a cage had been set up for Sabbath-breakers, but Andover found easier measures sufficient, though there are constant offences recorded. A smile in meeting brought admonishment, and a whisper, the stocks, and when the boys were massed in the galleries the tithing man had active occupation during the entire service, and could have had small benefit of the means of grace. Two were necessary at last, the records reading: "We have ordered Thomas Osgood and John Bridges to have inspection over the boys in the galleries on the Sabbath, that they might be contained in order in the time of publick exercise."
Later, even worse trouble arose. The boys would not be "contained," and the anxious selectmen wrote: "And whereas there is grevious complaints of great prophaneness of ye Sabbath, both in ye time of exerise, at noon time, to ye great dishonor of God, scandall of religion, & ye grief of many serious Christians, by young persons, we order & require ye tything-men & constables to tak care to p'vent such great and shamefull miscarriages, which are soe much observed and complained of."
The little Bradstreets, chilled to the bone by sitting for hours in the fireless church, could rush home to the warm hearth and the generous buttery across the street, but many who had ridden miles, and who ate a frosty lunch between services may be pardoned for indulging in the "great and shameful miscarriages," which were, undoubtedly, a rush across the pews or a wrestle on the meeting-house steps. Even their lawlessness held more circumspectness than is known to the most decorous boy of to-day, and it gained with every generation, till neither tithing-men nor constables had further power to restrain it, the Puritans of the eighteenth century wailing over the godlessness and degeneracy of the age as strenuously as the pessimists of the nineteenth. Even for the seventeenth there are countless infractions of law, and a study of court records would leave the impression of a reckless and utterly defiant community, did not one recall the fact that life was so hedged about with minute detail, that the most orderly citizen of this day would have been the disorderly one of that.
One resource, of entertainment, was always open to Puritan households. Hospitality was on a scale almost of magnificence, and every opportunity seized for making a great dinner or supper, the abundant good cheer of which was their strongest reminder of England. The early privations were ended, but to recall them gave an added zest, and we may fancy Roger Clap repeating the experience found in his memoir, with a devout thankfulness that such misery was far behind them.
"Bread was so scarce, that frequently I thought the very crusts of my father's table would have been very sweet unto me. And when I could have meal and water and salt boiled together who could wish better. . . . It was not accounted a strange thing in those days to drink water, and to eat samp or hominy without butter or milk. Indeed it would have been strange to see a piece of roast beef, mutton or veal, though it was not long before there was roast goat."
Generous living had become the colonial characteristic. Even in the first years, while pressure was still upon them, and supplies chiefly from England, one of them wrote:
"Sometimes we used bacon and buttered pease, sometimes buttered bag pudding, made with currants and raisins, sometimes drinked pottage of beer and oatmeal, and sometimes water pottage well buttered."
Health had come to many who had been sickly from childhood. In fact, in spite of the theory we are all inclined to hold, that "the former days were better than these," and our ancestors men and women of a soundness and vigor long since lost, there is every proof that the standard of health has progressed with all other standards, and that the best blood of this generation is purer and less open to disorder than the best blood of that. Francis Higginson may stand as the representative of many who might have written with him:
"Whereas I have for divers years past been very sickly and ready to cast up whatsoever I have eaten, . . . He hath made my coming to be a method to cure me of a wonderful weak stomach and continual pain of melancholy mind from the spleen."
His children seem to have been in equally melancholy case, but he was able after a year or two of New England life to write:
"Here is an extraordinary clear and dry air, that is of a most healing nature to all such as are of a cold, melancholy, phlegmatic, rheumatic temper of body."
The Puritans, as life settled into a less rasping routine than that of the early years, grew rotund and comfortable in expression, and though the festivities of training days, and the more solemn one of ordination or Thanksgiving day, meant sermon and prayers of doubled length, found this only an added element of enjoyment. Judge Sewall's diary records many good dinners; sometimes as "a sumptuous feast," sometimes as merely "a fine dinner," but always with impressive unction. At one of these occasions he mentions Governor Bradstreet as being present and adds that he "drank a glass or two of wine, eat some fruit, took a pipe of tobacco in the New Hall, wished me joy of the house and desired our prayers."
At Andover he was equally ready for any of these diversions, though never intemperate in either meat or drink, but, like every magistrate, he kept open house, and enjoyed it more than some whose austerity was greater, and there are many hints that Mistress Bradstreet provided good cheer with a freedom born of her early training, and made stronger by her husband's tastes and wishes. The Andover dames patterned after her, and spent many of the long hours, in as close following of honored formulas as the new conditions allowed, laying then the foundation for that reputation still held by Andover housewives, and derided by one of her best known daughters, as "the cup-cake tendencies of the town."