1884 numbers of the Bay state monthlyBe the first and subjects of first 10 volumes and List of por.

The Granite monthly, a New Hampshire magazine, devoted to literature, history, and state progress (Volume 53) online

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some disappointing experiences in



my official life. I had witnessed
developments of selfishness and dis-
regard of .some important principles
in those higher up, and for whom
I had entertained the greatest re-
spect.

Could I have taken Helen and
gone then how much sorrow I
would have escaped! But what
should I do with my faith? How
about those vows so often made be-
fore the younger ones w r ho looked
up to me as a staunch pillar of the
Church, some of whom I had
brought into the society, and many
whom I held there by their love
for me? How could I fail my
friends. My fathers and mothers,
who placed unlimited confidence in
me ; whom I loved most dearly, and
for whom I must care in their de-
clining years? And last, but not
least, there was my own mother
and sister and brother, all as I sup-
posed contented.

All these things acted as strong
deterrents, but the most powerful
was the thoughts of the future life.
If I surrendered to these natural
impulses and drifted with the tide,
could I meet and dwell with the
loved ones who had gone on before,
or would I be debarred from their
presence as a traitor and the gates
of Heaven be closed against me?
The weight of the evidence was
with Shakerism, and the Shaker
within me won. The way I had
left the matter apparently settled
it, as our intercourse continued in
our accustomed manner. I con-
sidered it to be that belonging to
ourselves only, and I never alluded
to it to her or any one else.

Before I went to South Union,
I had been living at the North
Family as associate Elder a year
or more, and of course was unable
to see Helen very frequently. I
think she must have felt this par-
tial separation keenly, for the day
before I started for Kentucky I
called upon Eldress Dorothy to bid



118



THE GRANITE MONTHLY



her good bye and found Helen in
her room. To my great surprise
she told me that Helen had decid-
ed to go to the world, and she left
the room with Helen and me alone
together. I was sufficiently ac-
quainted with the tactics of the El-
dress to believe that she was still
within hearing, which deterred me
from talking with Helen as freely
as I would have desired. I wanted
to question her closely, to obtain a
more powerful reason for her dis-
content than I seemed to posssess,
but I was shrewd enough to con-
fine myself to a conversation that
could not be criticised.

I did, however, plead with her
with all the fervor of- which I was
capable to reconsider her decision
for her sake and for mine, and I
succeeded in exacting a promise
that she would remain until my re-
turn. I was in hopes that then I
might be able in some way to
change the current of her thought,
and win her again to the fold. Had
we at that last interview been really
alone, so that Helen could tell me
of the indignities heaped upon her,
and upon other young women as
well, it would have burst my bonds.
I would have taken Helen and left
Shaker Village forever.

Within a few weeks after being
in Kentucky, a letter from the El-
dress informed me that Helen had
gone. Imagine the gloom it cast
over my visit. I felt the bottom of
my life had dropped out. My first
impulse was to write to Helen. O
I longed so much to do so ; but this
would again violate Shaker rule,
and the Shaker in me was still
dominant. If then we had corres-
ponded to the intent of giving me
full information of the real situa-
tion I would have seemed to owe
no allegiance to such a cause, for
however worthy it might be in it-
self, and it had much, very much
to commend it, if unkind ways were



necessary to maintain it, the more
rapid its decline the better.

A few months after my return
home I was in Providence on some
business of the Eldress and called
upon Helen. She gave me some
hint of the compelling cause of her
leaving, but I felt it not right to
probe her, and she, conscious of my
embarassment did not urge her
confidence upon me, and it was
nearly thirty years before I again
saw her and heard her story.

As has already been stated, the
basis of Shaker theology was a be-
lief in a continuous revelation from
Divine sources, a direct communi-
cation with the spirit world. A
product of this belief was two most
singular books : "The Divine Book
of Holy Wisdom," inspired by
Paulina Bates, Watervliet, N. Y.,
and "The Sacred Roll and Book,"
inspired by Philemon Stewart, Mt.
Lebanon, N. Y. Both these books
were esteemed as canonical, and the
leaders insistently urged their
thorough reading by all, old and
young, and no one had done his
duty until every word from cover
to cover had been read. The same
inspiration that produced the Sac-
red Roll directed that a copy of it
should be sent to every Ruler in
the world.

I am very sure that an attempt
to do this was made, but as to how
far this was done I never knew.
These books were published some-
where in the forties of the nineteen-
th century. Within twenty years
the reverence for them was unrec-
ognizable and ultimately both books
by some mysterious agency vanish-
ed from sight. What became of
them I do not know, and for aught
I know they may have been burned.
Even the author, of the Sacred Roll,
was in disfavor at Lebanon and sent
to the society at Gloucester where
he died.

The Wisdom Book, as it was



FORTY YEARS A SHAKER



119



familiarly called, was held in high
repute, even above that of the
Bible, because it was supposed to
embody a later revelation of God's
word to man, and hence originated
the idea that it really was the
Shaker's Bible. Xo reason was
ever given by the leaders to the
people for the abandonment of the
Fountains, or the discarding of
these once so sacred books. They
did assign a cause for the with-
drawal of spirit manfestations, as it
had been predicted that this power
would go out into the world for an
indefinite time, but would return
again to Zion with increased power.
Well, the years passed by, and no
signs appeared of its coming, until
even the prophecy was forgotten.
But some of the most sincere and
devout remembered, and their con-
fidence in all the Divinity of reve-
lation was shaken. The sincerity
of those earlier Shakers was un-
questioned, but to the intelligent
thinkers arose the query whether
these people were not victims of
self deception, and some of us dar-
ed to accept that version of it.

Of all the dangers besetting our
convictions, no more severe blow
than this could possibly be dealt.
The most devotional, the most at-
tractive and charming part of our
faith was taken away. It under-
mined our conceptions of the future
life, and made its very existence
a matter of grave uncertainty. So
far then as religious belief distinc-
tively was concerned, there remain-
ed little inducement for a Shaker
life. The one vital principle now
remaining was the Virgin Life.
This had a broader interpretation
than mere celibacy. It meant a
perfect chastity of body and purity
of mind. Indulgence of even an
impure desire or thought must be
confessed, as all sin is fundamental-
ly of the mind. It was the Christ
life. There was no hypocrisy in



it. It would seem a little para-
doxical that so very much was said
in their songs and in their publica-
tions about the marriage of the
Lamb and Bride when they looked
upon the earthly marriage with ab-
horrence. There was a very great
inconsistency in dilating so much
on the glories of the Heavenly
Kingdom in that regard, and yet
despoil us of all this enjoyment
here below, and yet continually as-
sert that this life was but the type
of the life to come. It did not com-
fort with our conception of a loving
Father to give his children here on
earth powers for enjoyment, facul-
ties for development and desire to
use them, and then punish them all
through this life by decreeing their
renunciation. Some of us dared to
think of these things, and free
thinking is dangerous to a doctrine
unsupported by evidence and op-
posed to common sense.

The Shakers claimed that the
married life was a selfish one, and
that their interest and love is nar-
rowed to their own little circle, but
the members of a Shaker Communi-
ty may be just as selfish as people
an v where. They may shirk their
share of duties and responsibilites
and disagreeable work, or they may
avail themselves of opportunities
afforded by an official position to
appropriate to themselves comforts
and conveniences not common to
the whole. A community may be
indifferent to the sufferings of hu-
manity, make little effort and less
sacrifice to soften the asperities of
life around them, deluding them-
selves with the belief that in devot-
ing themselves exclusively to the
care of each other they are reaching
the climax of unselfishness. As a
matter of fact the Shakers are very
human, and are selfish or otherwise
just as other people are.

The only exceptional cardinal
principle now claimed by the Shak-



120



THE GRANITE MONTHLY



ers is Community of Interest. In
the earlier history of the society
the true .spirit of communal interest
was rigidly enforced and the most
perfect equality observed. The
trustees were the custodians of the
real estate and moneys, and were
held to a close accountability. All
expenses and receipts were record-
ed, and their books were at all
times subject to inspection by the
Ministry, to whom they were ac-
countable. But even the Ministry
could not hold money. The Elders
were subject to the .same restric-
tions as the members, and were not
consulted upon financial affairs ;
their functions being restricted to
the internal business of the Family.
The Trustees were not supposed to
attend places of amusement nor in-
dulge in any pleasures denied to
their brethren at home. When a
member left home for a day or long-
er, he applied to the Trustees for
money, and on his return a detail-
ed report was made, and the un-
spent money returned. If a mem-
ber needed any article that had to
be bought, he applied to the Family
Deacons, and they in turn ' made
requisition upon the Trustees. The
Deacons kept a supply on hand of
articles that were continually need-
ed, such as nails, screws and tools.
It was not a little irksome to hu-
man pride to be compelled to ask
for every little things one needed,
especially if the Deacon was inclin-
ed 'to be a little captious, to ques-
tion the real need of it, or a too
frequent application for the same
article, and the maximum of tact
and thoughtfulness did not always
prevail ; but all this was in perfect
keeping with the duty to humble
our pride, which formed an impor-
tant part of the burden of testimony
in our meetings. In all this there
was one excellence, that of equality.
Impartiality was the rule and it be-



got harmony. But as the Society
declined in numbers, the tendency
to laxity of the old time strictness
became apparent.

In their finances the Shakers
seem just now to be in quite a
comfortable condition. The aband-
onment of so many of the societies
and removal of their few re-
maining members to the other so-
cieties means the sale of their pro-
perty, the proceeds of which are
supposed to accompany those
people to the society to which they
go, and hence a diminishing popula-
tion increases the wealth of those
remaining, or in other words, "the
fewer mouths the better cheer."



Writing as I am compelled to do
entirely from memory it is not
strange that some interesting little
features may have been omitted, as
for instance, every Society was
given a spiritual name which head-
ed all letters written to each other
from one Society to another; as for
instance the spiritual name of
Mount Lebanon was Holy Mount,
that of Watervliet was Wisdom's
Valley, that of Canterbury was
Holy Ground, and that of Enfield
was Chosen Vale.

There was an annual ceremony of
the "Washing of Feet" upon some
day appointed by the Ministry.
This may have been at Christmas
Eve, but it was discontinued so
many years ago that I cannot recall
the exact time of ordinance. It
was observed by all the members in
their several living rooms. Two
would be seated facing each other
with a vessel of water between
them, one with a clean towel across
his lap. Each in turn would ten-
derly take his brother's foot, place
it in the water, slightly rub the foot
and dry it on the towel. This was
reciprocated by the other and thus



FORTY YEARS A SHAKER 121

until all in the room were served. ERRATA

Another feature that I regret to j was never called " Unc i e " at the Vil-

have omitted was that not only did ]age My titIe was Elder Nicholas when

every entrance to every house have an Elder and Brother at other times.

a foot scraper and mat but also in- ., , lc „ . , , ... ,,

.,,,,, , • , Page 468. Savory viands (omitted),
vanablv had a broom hanging by a

string upon a peg inside the door, Pa ^ e 47 °- "Wooled sheets" should be

to ignore the use of which was al- woolen sheets.

most a cardinal sin. I sadly miss Page 474. Some of the marchers,

this broom in our city houses, and should read some of the marches (plural

greatly deplore its absence. °f march.)

Editor's Note — This installment ends Mr. Briggs' interesting account of his life
as a member of the Shaker community at East Canterbury. At the request of some
of his readers he has prepared a brief historical account of the rise and spread of
Shakerism, which will appear in the April issue of the Granite Monthly.



THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN

By Ida B. Rossiter.

Who would believe that chiselled face
Came from the whorl of choatic space?
A Sphinx with features clear and bold,
Guarding the Notch for years untold,
Not made by man from this earthly clod,
But hewn and carved by the hand of God.



PRESENCE

By Leighton Rollins.

Beloved, in the cold

Damp dusk of November,

Neath the trees all bent in age,

Through the fields brown and forsaken

Where each little blade of grass

Yearns for a diamond kiss of the snowflake,

Here have I walked in quiet,

Remote and apart from men.

And all about me, in the meditation of the skies,

In the brown, gray plumed grass of the fields,

Your spirit, O loved one,

Brushes me tender and comforting,

Like the clear crooned song of the stars at dawn.



122 THE GRANITE MONTHLY

"SHAKER MEETING"

By Alida Cogswell True

Brightly gleam — O star of evening;
Moon above, with golden glow,
Light the pathway, with its milestones,
To the days of long ago.

Show the fairy land of childhood —
With its glints of gold and rose,
Memories ever growing brighter
Dearer still — 'till life shall close.

Light a hamlet quaint in story, —
Rich in culture, — music rare.
Shaker sisters and the brethren,
Living lives of love and prayer.

Sun above, — thru fleecy cloudlets,
Trees all leafy and out spread —
Form a back ground for a picture
Oft recalled — where'er I'm. led.

Sabbath walk "to "Shaker Meeting,"
Happy custom held of yore,
Peaceful scenes — blue skies above us
Kindly silence brooding o'er.

Sistren quaintly gowned and reverent,
Brethren — saints of old — sincere
Under rows of arching maples —
Groups of worshipers draw near.

Single file the church we enter —
Father, brother at the left —
Mother, daughter with the sistren
Family ties the while bereft.

Bursts of song — of exhortation —
Shaker march, — long cast away — -
Thro' all the years this memory lingers-
This "Shaker Meeting" of olden day.



SQUAR' APPLESAUCE



By George I. Putnam



I had been very naughty. Aunt
said so. Being" set to clear away
the breakfast dishes I had tried to
satisfy my still .sharp appetite by
sly picking's into the dish of apple
sauce. My criminal leanings
being as yet imperfectly developed
I attempted no concealment, and of
course my sin found me out. At
dinner time the shortage of apple
sauce spoke for itself. I had noth-
ing to say for myself. Aunt spoke
sufficiently, both from my point of
view and hers, and at the conclu-
sion of her remarks I was sent to
bed for the afternoon.

Perhaps I snivelled as I lay in
bed ; I do not know. All I am sure
of is that Aunt stood suddenly in
the half-opened doorway and de-
manded :

"Do you want anything?"

I wanted my handkerchief des-
perately, and the need makes me
suspect a case of snivels. Aunt
waited on me. While I lav passive
on my pillow, awaiting the next
gift of the gods, .she dived into the
pocket of my little breeches in
search of the dingy rag.

Suddenly her voice rang sharp
with a note of terrible triumph.
"What's this?" she called.

With my heart sinking from fear
of I knew not what newly exposed
depravity, I opened mv eyes toward
her and saw her holding up by the
tip of thumb and forefinger, a
molasses cooky. I had forgotten
hour of need, and my sorrows of
that squirrel's hoard against the
hour of need, and my sorrows of
bed-going had killed my appetite.
I would have chosen to go without
the handkerchief a century rather
than that she should discover the
cooky. With the threat of the In-
quisition's tortures in her tones she
repeated her query ; but I could only



groan in anguish of spirit, correct-
ly anticipating immediate anguish
of body.

Very slowly, impressively, she
declaimed : "Be sure — your sin —
will find — you out"

How thoroughly convinced of
that I was !

She went on, implacable, un-
sparing :

"I never did see sech a boy ! I
don't believe the world holds an-
other like ye, not one ! I hope to
goodness I'll never run acrost one,
anyways !"

The vision of that other boy's un-
happy fate if she did run acrost him
loomed in my mind and I would
have spared him. "I hope you
won't," I whined.

"Oh, you can't make up to me
like that !" she answered sharply,
suspecting me of an attempt to
butter parsnips. "The way you act
with vittles ! A body'd say you was
naff starved. Do ye get enough
to eat?" she demanded.

I caught my fugitive breath and
whimpered, "Yes, ma'am."

"Of course you do. I knew it.
But I didn't hardy spoze ye'd have
the grace t' admit it. They's no
blame to my door, 't any rate. I
feed ye and feed ye well, and this
is all the thanks I get for't ! When
you've set to table and et all that's
good for ye, then ye have to go
when my back's turned and steal
my good vittles ; steal 'em ! Cookies
and apple sauce ! You're a thief,
You know where thiefs wind up"

I dismally admitted that I did.
"I'll be crucified."

"H'm! Well, if you don't beat
my time ! Ye aim high at that, I
mus' say. Jail ! Jail !" she repeated,
throwing the word at me from her
angry forefinger. "Jailed ye may
be, but not through fault o' mine,"



124



THE GRANITE MONTHLY



she went on, setting her lips in a
thin, straight line, and making cer-
tain preparations which my abject
spirit had already anticipated. "I'll
do my duty by ye. I said I would
when I took ye, and I will !"

Then she did her duty by me un-
til her arm must have ached from
the exercise. After which, heated
in body and mind, her voice raised
as though addressing me at a dis-
tance : "You are a very naughty
boy ! An' now you lay there till
you c'n say you're sorry and won't
do it again !" She left me.

It was no punishment, then, to
lie in bed. It was indeed balm and
solace, the only solace mine in a
wide and barren world. I lay there,
clinging to the pillow while the
whirling room slowed down and the
bed ceased rocking. The soundless
sobbing left me exhausted and I lay,
limp, wishing nothing but to lie,
lie forever, undisturbed. Sleep
stole upon me and restored me ; and
presently I opened my eyes with
renewed alarm to see Aunt again
standing by my bed. But my alarm
was due to a guilty conscience, as
I knew when it appeared there were
no other crimes charged against me
on that day's calendar.

"Get up, and get your clo'es on,"
Aunt commanded. "You'll be late
for supper."

Supper ! There was magic in the
word. Eating was always in good
form. And at supper there would
be Uncle, back from the store. I
dressed wth commendable haste.

When I stole into the kitchen the
table was laid for the meal. Very
crisp and correct it was, with a
white cloth and sprigged dishes,
with plates of toast, cake and cook-
ies and a bowl of apple sauce.
Uncle was seated at his place be-
hind the toast, his hands neatly
folded in a waiting attitude on the
edge of the cloth in his front. To
put the whole hand on the cloth



would have been to soil that spot-
less hapery — I knew !

Aunt took her place opposite
Uncle, the apple sauce under her
care. I sat at the side between.
As I slid to my chair Uncle lifted
his chin and gave me a friendly
smile, then bowed his head above
his crossed fingers and mumbled
some phrases which I never caught
distinctly, but during which I had
learned that it was necessary to
hold my appetite in check. Other-
wise I would fast, not feast.

It was during this enforced wait
that my eye, furtively taking in the
supper equipment, fastened on the
appalling fact that but two indi-
vidual dishes stood beside the bowl
of apple sauce. There was some-
thing ominous about that which the
artificially cheerful face of Aunt
did nothing to dispel. Anxiously
I awaited developments.

Aunt dipped some sauce into a
small dish and passed it to Uncle.
"You keep this, Henry," she said,
pleasantly.

Uncle paused, his hand arrested
in the act of passing the dish to me.
His glance quested back and forth ;
his tongue well trained to silence.

Not so Aunt. She was voluble
and her frankness would have dis-
armed had it not been assumed.
"That's Squar' Applesauce over
there," she chatted. "He takes
hisn alone."

"You mean the boy don't git
none?" Uncle asked huskily.

"Squar' Applesauce don't git
none," she corrected. "He took
hisn all alone this forenoon. 'Spoze
he likes it better that way."

Uncle was like one stunned. He
bent over his plate, a sadness
gathering on his visage and he ate
as if the savour of the food had
departed. Indeed it had, for me.
To be addressed as Eben Apple-
sauce, Esquire, would ordinarily
have been delightful pleasantry. Un-



SQUAR' APPLESAUCE



125



der the circumstances it was bitter
irony. With but feeble zeal I ap-
plied myself to toast and a mug of
milk. Aunt's appetite, however,
was never better. She ate and
drank with tremendous relish.
Through it all her eye was upon
me, remarking my lack of accom-
plishment.

"Set to, Squar' Applesauce, set
to and make a good meal," she urg-
ed with mock hospitality. Then
with viperish change: "Eat while
I'm lookin' at ye and not go pickin'
and thievin' atterwards. Here you
be, a great boy seven years old an'
I can't trust ye to clear th' table !
What .sort of a man will ye make
if ye ain't to be trusted now?"

"I don't know, ma'am," I whined
falsely.

"Yes, ye do know, too," she came
back, sharp as a shot. "It's ben
drilled into you enough. You start
in takin' little things and it's only a
step to bigger ones. And what will
ye be? she demanded.

"A criminal, ma'am," I faintly ad-
mitted.

"Criminal, yes. And jes' think
how I'd feel to have a boy I'd rais-
ed turn out a criminal ! Now ye
know what you're comin' to, ye
must fight ag'inst it. I can't do
nothin' for ye if ye won't do nothin'
for yourself. I'm tryin' hard, night
and day ; land ! I don't hardly
think of nothin' else but how to save
ye and make a man of ye ; and here
ye hang back and fight ag'inst me
instead of with me ! But I won't
give up ! I'll save ye yet if there's
any savin' left in ye !" She turned
to Uncle and took an intimate tone.
"This is proper good apple sauce
ain't it, Henry?" she asked like a
young housewife seeking praise for
her cookery.

Uncle took one glance at my
stricken face and faintly rebelled.
"Almiry, can't ye let the boy alone ?"
he remonstrated.

"I ain't talkin' to him," Aunt re-



turned in a tone of surprise. "I'm
talkin' to you Henry. I ast you if
this wasn't prime apple .sauce."
And she took a spoonful of it with
gusto.

"Oh, dear me !" sighed Uncle,
giving it up.

Somehow his despair seemed to
put Aunt on the defensive. "Any-
how, I'm going to do my duty by
him, don't you think I ain't," she
declared with finality. "If it kills
us both I will ! I ain't one to go
before th' Throne and leave it ap-
pear I didn't do my earthly duty.
And I don't forget he's your folks,
not mine, either."

There was no opening for reply,
even had anyone been in condition
to hazard a word, and the simple
meal sped to an end undisturbed.
Aunt, giving undivided attention
now to her plate, ate well. Present-



Online Library1884 numbers of the Bay state monthlyBe the first and subjects of first 10 volumes and List of porThe Granite monthly, a New Hampshire magazine, devoted to literature, history, and state progress (Volume 53) → online text (page 14 of 57)