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with all English colonists, but it was annihilated in the New World, at the bastions of Louisburgh. After the clouds, the sun! Again and often, subsequently, the hand of British tyranny lay heavy and sore upon our town liberty: in common with sister towns, we triumphantly threw off its pressure. After the clouds, the sun! Toil, difficulty, peril, disappointments, occasionally despair even — the lot of all communities have at various times encompassed the path of our town on its journey of two hundred and seventeen years: but they have seldom long embarrassed, never choked our progress. From about two hundred, we are now eighteen thousand souls. From a few colonial thousand pounds' worth of property, we have now our millions. From a little commerce in skins, now a commerce various almost as human wants, whose merchandise, in heaps almost colossal, stares us daily in the face upon our wharves, in our vessels, or in our ware-houses, our dépôts, and our cars. Instead of struggling against foreign foes for life and a livelihood, we are now dandling in the lap of peace, and nursing the useful arts. Instead of want, we have abundance.
* The 'hope deferred’of our first settlers, is the hope fultilled, and still fulfilling, of our own day. Their wilderness aspirations are our present garden enjoyments. Though thus, in the past, skies have been at intervals dark, and tempests have lowered, and the elements burst in storm, yet day has been sure to break clear, peaceful, and radiant; and so, in spite of all temporary obstructions, if we but act well our part, will continue to break, long as time on earth, immortal as hope, and sure as the goodness of HEAVEN! After the clouls, the sun! Let us thank God and be happy!'
We need not repeat what is said of the municipal and judicial organization of the town in the two following chapters, but we must pause a moment over its military history at this period; including, as it does, the brief but terrible conflict with the powerful and ferocious Pequods. Never did the latter portion of Jean Paul's dictum, ‘Nature forces on our heart a Creator ; History a Providence, receive a more remarkable verification than in the circumstances of this famous Indian war. The stars in their courses fought with our fathers. In their last extremity of peril, one well-aimed blow delivered them, and crushed the power of their enemy for ever. The event of that conflict was like the rising of the sun at mid-night, so sudden and complete was the change from gloom, terror, and almost despair, to the joy of deliverance and of victory. And the salutary fear inspired by that result, preserved the colonists of Connecticut for ever after from all danger of Indian hostility.
But we must hasten on; for both time and space would fail us, if we lingered long over the chapters that follow. These chapters relate to Land Policy, Sumptuary Laws, Agriculture, Trade and Commerce; the School, the Church, the Grave, down to 1650, with which date our author concludes the first period of his history. These are fruitful topics, as the reader will not fail to see, embracing much that was peculiar to the Connecticut colonists, and furnishing the key to the remarkable success which followed their efforts for the founding of a new state.
The second period continues the civil history from 1650 to 1665 ; presents a pleasant chapter on the mills and inns of Hartford ; glances at the ecclesiastic trouble which arose in the Hartford church, and thence extending, finally involved the State, and indeed the whole of NewEngland, in bitter controversy; notices the code of laws adopted in 1650, with whatever was peculiar in the enactments themselves or the penalties attached to them; discourses at length upon the collisions between the English and Dutch settlers of Connecticut; enlarges upon the military history of the colony; speaks of marriages, births, and deaths; including, apropos to the latter, brief biographical sketches of Governors Haynes and Hopkins and the Rev. Mr. Stone; and, after a parting word on the School, makes an end of the whole, with appropriate reflections.
In respect to the controversy between the English and the Dutch, our inquiry, made with some diligence several years ago, has led us, in spite of filial and patriotic predilection, to a result at variance with that of Mr. Stuart. He maintains, against all comers, the perfect right of the English to the Valley of the Connecticut; we hold, with equally confident opinion, to the right of the many-breeched Hollanders. Let us show, in as few words as possible, the grounds of our faith.
Connecticut was probably the last portion of the whole sea-coast of the United States which fell under the eye of European adventurers. Separated from the Atlantic by an island which passes along the whole front of its territory, it is not strange that the foreign voyager should have long mistaken this island for a part of the continent itself. According to De Laet, a Dutch historian, Long-Island Sound was first navigated, in 1614, by his own country-men, who sailed for some distance up the Connecticut, and named it the Fresh river. On the other hand, English writers have claimed that the coast of Connecticut was originally explored by one Thomas Dermer, in 1619, while on his way from Cape Cod to Virginia. But we are not aware of any sufficient reason for rejecting the testimony of De Laet. Both Bradford and Morton inform us that the Plymouth people knew nothing of the Connecticut river until they received intelligence of it from the Dutch, who gave them the most glowing accounts of the fruitfulness of the country and its advantages for trade, and urged them to make settlements there. They were unable, however, at that time to accept the friendly invitation. This was before the colonizing expedition of Holmes or the exploring visit of Winslow, and while the Plymouth colonists were yet alone in New-England. Evidently, therefore, so far as original discovery can give any right to the soil, that right was with the Dutch.
And it is equally certain that the Dutch were the first to occupy Connecticut. They had already established themselves at Hartford, and had been long enough in possession to erect a 'light fort' there, when William Holmes, with his Plymouth company, appeared in the river, in search of a place for settlement upon its banks. With the Dutch, therefore, was originality of discovery and priority of occupation. Why then they should be called, as Trumbull calls them, “mere intruders, it is hard to understand. Connecticut was as fairly open to them as to the English. The Great Patent of New England,' given by James I., could not shut them out. The claim of the British king to this vast extent of country, based upon the explorations of Sebastian Cabot and others, was simply absurd. As well might the Spaniards have declared their undivided right to the whole American continent, on the sole ground that one of their
captains originally opened the path of discovery. Not to dwell longer, however, upon this question, we refer those who may wish to examine it farther, to an article in the eighth volume of the North-American Review, attributed to Judge Davis, the learned and candid editor of Morton's Memorial, wherein the whole matter is exposed in the clearest and most convincing style.
Bidding now farewell to Mr. Stuart's volume, happy if our word of commendation shall have the effect to add in any degree to the favorable regard in which it so well deserves to be held, let us close by a rapid
glance at the prominent personal characteristics of the founders of Connecticut and, generally, of New England. The theme is old, but not yet by any means exhausted; and however thread-bare some may regard it, our merit will be the greater if, like the cotter's wife, we succeed at all in making the “auld claes ' of history look .amaist as weel's the new.'
That the first colonists of New-England were a peculiar people,' is universally admitted, but at this point terminates all agreement in regard to them. No class of men ever lived and acted on the earth, who have tound warmer friends or more bitter enemies than they ; none who have been so much “be-written,' both by detractor and admirer ; none, we may add, who have been treated with so little of philosophic insight and impartiality.
On the one hand, the eulogist of the Puritans has come forth to his task, predetermined and almost (to borrow one of their own words) · foreordained 'to magnify every excellence out of all due proportion; to cover every fault with the thickest and broadest mantle; to see nothing but dazzling glory on the face of their sun; and to insist, with pertinacious rudeness, that the dark spots which others find there are only motes in the eyes of the beholder. On the other side, the haters of the Puritans, of whom the world is even yet full, are not less extravagant in their condemnation; calling their evil
, good, and their good, evil; mystifying their plainest acts of heroic devotion to duty, by imputations of the unworthiest motives, and searching, with a diligent skill which even scarengers might envy, for every foul and polluted scandal to cast upon
It shall be our aim to follow the difficult path between these two extremes of prejudice, and to judge of all things by the exact and rigorous laws of Truth and Right.
The first fact that strikes us, when we call to the critical bar the fathers of New-England, is their total and inflexible devotion to duty. The question now is not whether they were always wise in their applications of the rule of right in particular cases, but whether it was the set purpose of their hearts to follow what they esteemed their duty, wherever it might lead them. Upon this one point, at least, there would seem to be no place for doubt. The whole course and conduct of their lives shine forth with lustrous proof of their sincerity. Hypocritical and
-seeking men do not, as they did, resign every worldly honor and advantage without one backward glance of regret; do not, as they did, cheerfully encounter every peril of the old apostle, hunger, and cold, and nakedness, by land and by sea, in the wilderness and among false brethren; do not, as they did, lay themselves calmly down on the cold bosom of the earth, making their own bodies the foundation of a new empire, and suffering them to be crushed by the vast superstructure which they could only behold by faith, towering in its majestic beauty. That they were sincere, earnest, and self-denying men, is proved by the toil, and tears, and blood which cover all their history; and indulge a doubt or suspicion on this head, belongs only to those whom prejudice has rendered incapable of candid and rational judgment.
This complete devotion to duty, even if it stood alone, would entitle
the fathers of New England to a place in the front rank of men, for it is one of the rarest of human attainments. Let it be said, if it must be, that they were mistaken, narrow-minded, bigoted ; let their particular acts be brought to the bar of a more advanced society, and condemned by judges born since they died; all this
, nevertheless, changes not the original fact. They followed, with perfect fidelity, the light they had; light which they never doubted shone down upon them from above, and in whose effulgence all lesser glories of the earth, its pride, and pomp, and pleasure, grew dim, and faded from their eyes. All other fears were lost to them in the fear of God. All other loves quietly submitted themselves to the divine love of duty.
Out of this main element of the Puritan character sprang all the individual traits which they exhibited. They were strong men; the strongest, perhaps, that the world ever saw; because their religion was a fact, and not a fiction ; because it was the root of their whole being, and not a graceful covering of leaves and flowers, to be scattered by the first wind, and perish at the earliest frost of autumn. And in their strength lay the spring of their success. Admit that they were hard, angular, ungraceful; had they been less so, who can say that they would have triumphed as they did over the thousand obstacles which rolled themselves continually in their path? They were fitted for the work that was laid upon them; prepared by a rigorous discipline of soul and body to subdue the stormy waves of the Atlantic; to wrestle with and overthrow the giants of the forest, rooted by centuries against them; to break up à soil which had been growing more and more rigid in its rest since the world began; and beside all this, to struggle even for existence with the warriors of a treacherous and ferocious race. They were not men (do you say ?) to shine in courts and adorn society with the grace and polish of an exact civilization. Very true ; but after all
, it is right to judge them by their fitness for their appointed work. Gentler and more beautiful spirits than theirs would have shrunk from the terrors which they bravely encountered. The graceful and polished Erasmus may shine in loveliest light from the cloisters of learning, and throw his charm around the circles of social life, but the stormy strength of Luther is needed to carry on the Reformation.
The intolerance of the Puritans was an essential and consistent part of their total character, and the legitimate offspring of their religion. They held, that on every question there could be but two sides; the one right, and the other wrong. They believed, without the faintest shadow of a doubt to disturb them, that they were always right; and of course, that every one who differed from them, by the exact measure of his difference, was wrong. To tolerate any divergency of creed or conduct, therefore, was to connive at sin, and this they could not do. It was the very intensity of their religious belief which made them persecutors. Had their faith been less, their charity would have been greater. Could they have allowed a possible suspicion to enter their minds that tenets differing from their own might still contain a modicum of truth, the dissidents would have doubtless met with gentler treatment at their hands. Could they have believed that even a Quaker or an Anabaptist might nevertheless love God, and be loved by Him, a glow of fraternal feeling would have arrested the arm that was lifted to smite them into banishment and death. But in their rigorous judgment, every errorist’ was a child of Satan; and to endure such, was scarcely less sinful than to enter into terms with the Arch-enemy himself. We may respect bigotry so earnest and sincere as this; but no words are now needed to show its wrong. Every belief which a man cherishes beyond certain moral and mathematical axioms should be held with the mental reservation of its possible falsehood, simply because he has no right to assume his own infallibility. He has no right to declare that his creed, contradicted as it is by the creed of other men not less intelligent and upright than himself, is perfect verity, while theirs is pure and simple falsehood. He may - indeed he must, if he would not lapse into total skepticism — believe with confidence enough to make his faith the practical guide of his own life; but beyond this he cannot go, without committing the great sin of intolerance, without violating those rights of intellect and conscience which belong to all others not less really than to himself.
Another characteristic of the Puritans was the strong feeling of personal independence by which they were inspired. Individualism was never more boldly developed than among them. They were always keenly sensitive to the danger of external control, always watchful lest the rights which they held so dear should suffer infringement. This was manifest in the constant difficulties between the colonies and the English government, and in their no less constant quarrels among themselves. Scarcely a year passed when all the separate colonies rested in a mutual good understanding. The weaker were jealous of the stronger, and, in many cases, not without reason. Even the loose and feeble bond which embraced the Confederation of the United Colonies would never have been formed but for the fear they felt of the Dutch and the savages on the one hand, and of England on the other; and very many of the meetings of the commissioners were filled only with mutual complaints and accusations. And when we look more closely into the private life of the Puritans, we find the same unpleasant manifestations there. It could not well be otherwise among men so tenacious of their own views, and so intolerant of the views of other. The peace of society can only be preserved by one of two methods. Either one master-will must crush all others into quiet submission to its sway, or else all individual wills, each preserving its independence, must accustom themselves to the check of mutual forbearance and charity. The Puritans, occupying a position between the two, could avail themselves of the advantages of neither. They had cast off the mental slavery of the first without yet attaining the final wisdom of the other. They had escaped from Egypt, and were moving toward the Promised Land, but after a march of more than forty years in the wilderness, even their Moses had not yet seen it from the top of Pisgah.
With reluctance for there is a seeming harshness in the chargebut yet with a full conviction of its truth, we must add that the NewEngland Puritans were rather Jews than Christians. If we would learn what Christianity is, we should go, first of all, to the words of JESUS CHRIST. Whatever He spoke is Christian truth, and whatever contradicts Him, or departs from His instructions, by whomsoever uttered or wher