Danvers (Mass.).

Centennial celebration at Danvers, Mass., June 16, 1852 online

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Unquenchable. No home ! tyrannic power

Had plac'd its spies in their most private bower —

No home ! the hearth which cheered their early years,

Was desecrated then by blood and tears.

And e'en their fathers' venerated graves

Rebuked them with — ' How can our sons be slaves ?

' It was in vain we shed our blood to free

' The land from papal thrall and prelacy,

' If you succumb beneath the galling chain

' Imposed by upstart Popes, and prelates vain.'

No ; 'twas a homeless, persecuted band.

Who sought a home in this then savage land,

A place of rest where they might sheltered be,

Beneath their own dear vine, and fruitful tree.

How trifling all the ills of outward life

To inward conflicts, and the spirit's strife !

They felt this truth, 'tis not by bread alone

Man lives and makes life's benefits his own ;

But every word, each providence of God,

Is to the soul its most nutritious food.



64

Beneath God's seeming frown there ever lies
A hidden good, which trusting souls may seize
And find support. This well the pilgrims knew,
Their history proves the cheering doctrine true ;
And it proves also, that to earnest souls.
In whom faith all their energies controls,
God gives sure conquest. But conquest may be
A blessing or a curse, may bind or free.
God gives eternal principles, and then
Leaves their employment to the choic3 of men.
Good principles may be by men abused.
Yes, faith in God in Satan's service used.

V.

Lo ! yonder bay is plough'd by unknown keels,
Her parting water a new impulse feels ;

Where hsretofore nought save the light canoe
Of Indian floated, or some raft of trees,

A noble ship comes slowly on, her crew
Right hardy children of the stormy seas.

And numerous passengers now throng her deck ;
With throbbing hearts and watery eyes survey

The wood-crowned headlands, eveiy creek inspect ;
And look admiring 'round the spacious bay !

The cannon utters its terrific voice, —
The wild beasts startled to their coverts flee,

Echo returns their shouts, no other noise, —
No human beings on the shores they see !*

They land ; they settle, that is, houses build, —
With battle axe, the forest trees assail ; —

They plant in virgin soils, before untilled.
Maintain close walk with God, their sins bewail.

And sternly meet, with an unflinching mind,
The evils of their lot, their enemies —

Sickness, death, devils ; deeming them designed
To try their faith, and make them strong and wise.

Death decimates their ranks, disease consumes
Their strength, but to their steady purpose true

* A letter from one of the first settlers states this fact. — Mass. Hist Coll.



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Their task postponed, returning strength resumes.
Or other hands th' unfinished works renew ;

So toil'd and suffered our forefathers here.

How all their hardships do their names endear,
Or should endear to us, inheritors of all

Their toil has purchased, or their valor won —
Freedom from bigot's rule, from tyrant's thrall,

The skill and power to conquer, or to shun,
The dreaded evils that beset our race.
Between the cradle and its resting place.

VL

Our Puritan ancestors start from their graves,

And lo ! now before us appear.
As when, wafted over the Atlantic's waves,

They planted a colony here.

In separate groups the old emigrants come,

In feelings and objects the same.
To enjoy their religion, establish a home,

God's laws re-enact and proclaim.

So grave is their object, how can they be gay.

Or give to frivolity place ?
Pilgrims and strangers, not long here to stay,

Their wealth and their staff is God's grace.

For their God is to them a stern reality.

Almighty to help in their need,
Omniscient, their out and in goings to see ;

Omnipresent, to teach, guard and lead.

They too have a Devil most horribly great.

To seduce, to deceive, and destroy ;
Who, if not permitted to ruin the State,

Could greatly disturb and annoy.

Surrounded by heathen to bless or to kill.
Their lives in their hands day and night,

With musket, hoe, axe, they go out on their hill,
To make clearings, plant, or to fight.
9 i



&6



With good Scripture language each tongue well supplied,

Most effective, sound orators, they
Think, teach, work, or fight, as they stand side by sfde.

Always ready for deadly affray.

Av'rice and bigotry too find a seat

By the side of more liberal views ;
For freedom of conscience death ready to meet,

Yet the same boon to others refuse.

Roger Williams from Salem is driven away,

Mrs. Hutchinson smirch'd and defam'd ;
Quakers and witches are hung ; woful day !

With sorrow remember'd and nam'd.

Yet in spite of their blue laws, the lasses will eye

Their beaux upon Sabbath and fast ;
And beaux will exchange with them glances tho' sly,

Which must make impressions to last,

Till the blest consummation of oneness for life —

Till death shall the smitten ones part,
Till forgotten th' relation of husband and wife.

All the long-cherished wealth of the heart !

In spite of stern synods, some people would think
For themselves, and their notions proclaim ;

Tho' warden or tythingman threaten or wink.
And church canons at them should aim.

Hence Quakers may hang. Anabaptists may flee ;

But heresy's seed, widely sown.
Will spring up and grow, aye, become quite a tree,

Ere it to the watchmen be known.

The Quakers, by martyrdom strengthened, sit down,
Non-resistant in Brooksby,* resolved to enjoy

Their rights God-defended, in this hostile town,
The gospel of peace to proclaim, their employ.

* An ancient name for South Danyera



67



And Quakers among us are walking to-day,

Who believe all-sufficient their old simple creed

To live by and die by, and so they well may,
For theirs is the Gospel of Jesus indeed.

See Foster at collage, commanded to write

On the rite of Baptism a theme ; —
The heretic-Baptists to turn to the right — •

From their baseless delusions redeem.

The subject he studied, and straightway became
A convert to dogmas he could not refute ;

And doctrines believed in, he dared to proclaim,
How little soever old friends it might suit.

He preach'd them at home, and upon Skelton's Neck
A church was soon gathered, which cherishes now

The tenets he taught, and still holds in respect
His name, — and his creed is their covenant vow.

Still people would think, read their Bibles, embrace
Other doctrines than those we have named ;

Deacon Edmund,* with new-fangled views of God's grace,
Universal salvation proclaim'd.

It found little favor, his converts were few.

When he with his forefathers slept.
Still the seed he had sown died not, the plant grew,

Reproduced till it thousands accept.

Unitarians, Methodists, Catholics here.

And comeouters, act, think as they please ;

All of every name, who are pious, sincere,
The reward win of piety, peace.

Minds, morals improved by sectarian strife.

Draw strength from the battle of creeds.
Let all live together, embellishing life

With the charm of beneficent deeds.

* Edmund Putnam.



68



The Pilgrims, we know, were not always exempt

From the vexatious promptings of sin ;
They sometimes were angry, and looked with contempt

On humanity's dictates within,

in neighborhoods, feuds, I am soniy to say,
Were sometimes long cherished by law ;

Where rights oft contested, and tiresome delay.
On purses did cruelly draw.

And no less on morals, religion, and peace.

Without which enjoyment is not ;
When vengeful and angiy emotions increase,

Duty, piety, love are forgot.

But let us not dwell on their errors ; 'tis well,

If they teach us like errors to shun ;
Let their virtues excite us to stand by the right —

Guide our feet in their foot-prints to run.

VII.

The Puritan — there's in that name

Much that must ever rev'xence claim

Of all mankind — especially

Of people struggling to be free.

Bred amid scenes of cruel wrong,

He grew pugnacious, firm and strong ;

He was not yet entirely freed

From his ancestral heathen creed,

' That death in battle gains for all

Admission into Odin's hall !'

Hence heroes are, by honor's laws,

Deemed saints, however bad the cause

In which their bloody wreaths are gained.

If by some sov'reign power sustained.

Somewhat Judaical, too, he took,

For his life's law, the Holy book, —

But from it rules of conduct drew

To suit his own peculiar view



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Of duty, — ruthlessly pursued
His enemies in bloody feud ;
And such peculiarly deemed he
Agents of his arch-enemy.
Witches and wizards. — What, forgive !
Moses forbad that such should live.
And such not doubting he had found
Encumbering God's holy ground.
He hung them up ; — an insane fury
Possessing priest, judge, sheriff, jury !
And other crimes I need not name,
Which mortal ne'er committed, came
To be adjudicated here, '

And innocence vi^ith conscience clear,
In some few cases, suffered on
The gallows. Sad, most sad mistake.
Which should be pondered well upon
Until the gibbet, like the stake.
Be banished — all machinery
'Life to destroy, be done away,
And human life be valued far
Too high to take by law or war.
Yet was the Puritan sincere,
Truth was to him than life more dear.
For truth, or what he thought was such.
He could not sacrifice too much ;
Ease, country, kindred, all were nought
Compared with the high good he sought ;
Hardship and danger evils light
Compared with compromising right.
And conscience by obedience to
Whatever despots bid him do.
Statesmen of ev'ry age, this trait
Should study well and imitate.

VIII.

In olden times, the people here
Were chiefly tillers of the ground,

A calling to which most severe
Labor attaches ; — but makes sound



70



The body, and it schools the mind

In honest purposes, and where
Men till their own lov'd lands, we find

A noble yeomanry, who are
The firmest pillars of the State,

The purest patriots of the land, —
The stronghold of religion, great

In all that can respect command.
Here plastic clay the potter turned

To pitcher, dish, jug, pot, or pan.
As in his kiln this ware was burned.

So burned the patriot in the man
Into persistent shape ; which no

Turning could change back into dough !
It might be broken, ground to dust.

But ne'er made ductile as at first.
Here coopers wrought — housewrights a few.

Tanners, who all were curriers too ; —
Shoemakers, and some tailors, who,

From house to house news-bearers went,
Making, where'er they chanced to go,

A joyous day ; for while intent
On fitting small clothes, coat or shoe.

Some thrilling tale they told unto
Ears thirsting for the strange and true.

The blacksmith's shop did oft dispense
With iron wares, intelligence —
Food, recreation for the mind.
Which civilized, improved, refined.
The mills, too, in those early times,

Were schools, wherein much more was taught
Than simply grinding corn ; — there minds

Some clue to useful knowledge caught.

Well, well do I remember when
Our millers were distinguished men, —
The honor'd Colonel Hutchinson,
Foster, and Deacon Gideon,*

Gen. Gideon Foster and Deacon Gideon Putnam, Esq.



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Than whom this town, in worth or fame.

Few nobler as her sons can claim,

Oft serv'd their mills, as faithfully

As elsewhere. Freedom, Liberty.

And did not boys, who weekly went

To get their corn made meal, intent,

Receive from millers such as these

Impressions that would make them wise, —

Whose influence would never cease

To check false pride and save from vice ?

The clergy, too, made reverend by
Their office, and the dress they wore ;

By band and surplice. O how high
Above their flock these shepherds soar !

Yet preachers of humility.

And humble too allowed to be ;

Assuming dignity, that they

Might wield a salutary sway.

O'er minds forever prone to bow

To rank, to pomp, to empty show ;

To whom this truth is seldom known —

" Where least of state, there most of love is shown."

Schoolmasters, too, were oft austere.
They ruled by birch and not by love 5 —

Men of great courage, using fear
As the chief instrument t' improve

The minds and hearts of docile youth — •

To drive them to the Fane of Truth !

Fear, fear, which has in every age,

From every stand-point on life's stage,

From pulpit to primary school.

Been used the multitude to rule, —

At best is a debasing power

Fitted the intellect to lower,

Rather than elevate. The soul,

Unless praise, courage, hope control

Its destinies, must ever be

Sinking in helpless misery.



72



O preacher, teacher ! 'tis by love

God rules, in mercy rules above.

More and more like him strive to be ;

From every fear your pupils free.

By love alone excite, persuade

To duty, calling to thy aid

Whatsoever things are true,

Of good report, just, honest, pure.

These with untiring industry pursue.

Discard the rod, your scholars' love secure.

IX.

One hundred years ago, or more, I ween,

Fashions, unlike the present here, were seen, —

Less luxury in diet, habitude, and dress ;

More industry, and nerve-ache vastly less ;

Greater exposure to the sun and air,

Fewer pale cheeks ; — consumptions far more rare.

One hundred years ago, the spinning wheel,

Hatchel and cards, the loom, the old clock reel,

On which her daughters and the serving maid.

From morn till night, far sweeter music made.

To thrifty housewife's ears, than now proceeds

From thrum'd pianos, and wind-fretted reeds,

Vibrating, whistl'ing to the nervous touch

Of amateur performers, overmuch

Luxuriating in the lap of ease ; —

Feasting on dainty sounds, — sweet melodies,

Which neither fit the head or hand to wield,

In life's great battle, either sword or shield ;

But leave the helpless, enervated thing

We call a lady, subject to the sting

Of every puny insect that she meets ; —

Robbing her life flowers of their choicest sweets.

Music, however good, was ne'er designed

To be the daily task of woman kind ; —

To take the place of labor, which alone

Can give the nerves a sound, right healthy tone ;-

Can give the cheek the glowing tints of beauty,

And fit the body for a mother's duty.



73

To some, 'tis true, rare faculties are given

To lift, by song, th' enraptured soul to heaven :

Excite to love, soothe pain, or banish care,

To fire the soul heroic deeds to dare :

To such, let music be their daily food ;

' Go, follov/ Nature,'' is a maxim good.

But, few can hope, by modulating wind,

To make themselves resemble Jenny Lind :

Nor can the mass of lower crust, or upper,

Expect by song to win their daily supper ;

Which to win somehow, we must hold to be.

The very essence of morality.

God ne'er intended that an idle hand

Should waste the plenty of hard toil-tilPd land.

To eat the fruit of the well cultur'd tree,

By others planted, and not truly be

Planting for others, is a shame and sin,

And no one guiltless is, who rests therein.

X.

Old Time rolls backward, we have said, and lo !
Danvers, as 'twas one hundred yeai-s ago,
Appears before us. Let us walk around,
And see what's doing on this welMov'd ground.
We, if you please, will first direct our steps
Unto the mansion of 'Squire Daniel Eppes ;
An old farm house, two seven-feet stories high,
A lean-to on behind, a spacious chimney too,
Which ten feet square at least must occupy •

A lesser space would never, never do !
A well-stock'd barn, and a good well near by.
Which, with its curb, crotch, sweep, pole, bucket, all
Is picturesque, and quite poetical.
Near by is seen a winter-sweeting tree.
Destined, in after-times, renowned to be
Parent of apple orchards, widely fam'd,
And for our town, the Danvers Sweeting nam'd.
Here in armed chair, before a cheerful fire,
Writing, or reading, sits the worthy 'Squire ;
10 j



74



Beside liim sits his consort, plump and fair,

Sewing or knitting in her cushion'd chair —

Their comely daughter Mary carding tow.

Large heaps of rolls her strength of muscle shows.

And that her cards she has learn'd well to play,

Good proof is given by her work to-day.

The younger Daniel's robust consort too

Is doing much, and still has much to do ;

In every task she takes an ample share,

Altho' the loom is her peculiar care.

Obedient to her feet, her hands, her eyes.

The treadles move, slaie swings, and shuttle flies ;

The growing web beneath her magic sway,

Strip'd, check'd or damask-drapei''d, each day

Gives joyous promise, to the inmates there,

Of raiment fit, and good for them to wear

On all occasions, through the coming year ; —

Better than loughten stuffs, tho' not so dear.

Her oldest son is winding quills, — one more

Plays with the kitten on the chamber floor, —

Now spins his top, now turns the swifts, or reel, —

The busiest urchin of the commonweal.

But now the day is closing upon all.

One runs, obedient to her duty's call.

To milk the cows ; another, o'er the fire

Hangs the good kettle, sifts the yellow meal.
And as the flame does lovingly aspire

Around the cauldron, stirs the pudding well.
Upon another trammel hangs a pot.
Containing good bean porridge, piping hot.
From which the 'Squire his ev'ning meal will make.
In preference to the fare the others take.
The second Daniel comes, all over toiv,

With the last bundle of well-swingled flax,
His winter's hardest task accomplished now ;

His face, to beam with gladness, nothing lacks
Save a good washing, which is quickly done ;
As quick, a change of raiment is put on ;
And the Town Clerk of Danvers takes his chair
And bowl of pudding, with a graceful air ; —



75



Pats his boys' heads, as they beside him stand, —

Meets his wife's look of love with smile as bland,

Greets his sweet sister, as, with busy broom.

She sweeps the floor, and sets to rights the room ;

Observes her nervous movement, and suspects

That she some wooing visitor expects.

Their evening meal is gratefully enjoyed —

Around the table, busily employed,

All hands are seated, and the book or pen,

Sewing or knitting, is resumed again.

A rap comes on the door ; — Lo ! Mary's face

Cover'd with blushes indicates a case

Not yet develop'd. To the kind " Walk in,'"'

Door opes — voice enters, " Mr. Eppes within ?

I want to see him." Mr. Eppes goes out

To see who 'tis, and what he's come about.

There learns, by stammer'd words and bashful look,

John Osborn wants to marry Mary Cook ;

And that the banns should duly published be ;

But, until published, kept most secretly.

Another rap. Blushes again spread o'er

Sweet Mary's face now deeper than before ;

In, Mr. Proctor, a young neighbor, drest

In Sunday-suit, comes as an evening guest, —

Bows to the ladies, — shakes hands with the men,

Says, " Spring-like weather's come," — and then

Sits down, coughs chokingly — essays

To speak, — hems, — awkwardness displays

In posture, — sits uneasy, — answers slow

Some questions asked him, — simply yes or no ;

Until assur'd by meeting their kind looks,

That he at least is among friendly folks.

He talks of farmers' prospects, — sheep and kine, —

Oxen and horses, — and prolific swine ;

How best to plough his lands, and how manure, —

How right good crops to cultivate, secure ; —

Until the evening, wearing fast away.

Suggests the question, how long will he stay .''

But why does Mary silently retire,

And in the best room kindle up a fire ?



76



Now Proctor bids the family good-bye,— -

Meets Mary in the entry, but O why

Goes he not out directly, but till late

Holds with the buxom girl a tete-a-tete 7

Experienced lovers might perhaps explain,

How moulding into oneness are the twain, —

A process by life's richest feelings blest, —

Feelings, which cannot be by words exprest, —

Or to the sagest human mind made known,

Till by experience they shall be his own.

No further then into their doings pry.

Which are too sacred for the public eye.

One word of caution only will I add

To the pert damsel and the thoughtless lad.

Indulge in no flirtations ; they destroy

The power to relish life's most luscious joy ;

Those only wedlock^s highest bliss can know,

Who on one object all their love bestow ;

When once you've fixM your choice, O never, never.

Indulge the thought that you can change it ever.

Hark, do I not a whisper'd naurmur hear, —

' O call you that a picture of the pa^ ?
.'• If so, it often has been copied here ;.

>' l^y^ known one Mke it made since April fast f
' Yon^e^ t\ie couple sit, who now are feeling
* All J'J>e fr^\} rapture of young love's- revealing.''



XI.



Next.jto the Village Church let v'ls repair,: —

A. qu.ce^ old sombre structure, nearly square»,

With a fpur-sided roof, surmounted bj^

Its own ejiitome, a square belfry,

In which. a;Iittle bell, securely hung,

Is by dependiag rope in broad aisle rung ;

With " lime ?.n<i hair," side walls are overspread.

But there's nq^plaster'd canopy o'erhead ;

There naked tipbers meet the vagrant eye,

And ornaniental .posts, in number four,
Depending frpnj, the 'lofty tower on high,
, Poj.nt t.hreat'ning. downwards to the central floor



77



On one side of the aisle are seats for men,

And on the other, seats and a sheep pen

For good old women. There to warm their feet

Was seen an article now obsolete, —

A sort of basket tub of braided straw,

Or husks, in which is placed a heated stone,
Which does half-frozen limbs superbly thaw,

And Avarm the marrow of the oldest bone ;
Side galleries, too, there are for boys and men,
And women young ; — a cock-loft negro pen.
Where the degraded slave might sit and hear
Truths, which the bondsman's sinking heart might cheer
Beneath the pulpit is the deacons' seat.
Where faces shine with piety replete ; —
Reflect the lights, which from the pulpit fall, —
Reflect and send them to the hearts of all.
Good parson Clarke, in pulpit preaching there.
Gives full two hours to sermon and to prayer ;
And the long psalm, by lined-out couplets sung,
The tune more model'd by the nose than tongue,
Made a protracted meeting in cold weather,
More penance-like than pastime altogether.
The morning meeting o'er, good boys and men,
Who cannot well go home and come again
To worship in the afternoon, repair
To Mrs. Cross', and eat luncheon there.
Which they have bro't from home ; but buy and sip
A mug of toddy or of well-spiced flip ;
Some gingerbread or biscuit ; — thus they give
Some compensation for what they receive.
The room that holds them, and the fire that warms, —
Cozy asylum, full of quiet charms.
Here the long sermon well they criticise, —
Discuss the various topics which comprise
The lore of village farmers, — get the news.
And useful knowledge seek, acquire, diffuse.
Albeit, rev'rence for the holy day
Puts all light thoughts and vanities away.
By girls and women too the noontime's spent
At Mrs. Dempsy's, who is well content



78



To gather round her fire the shivering dames,
For they bring with them what will feed its flames.
Here as they pack away their bread and cheese,
They give imprison'd thoughts a free release, —
The current scandals of the day con o'er.
Despatch the old, and manufacture more.
The little bell now calls them in again,
To shiver two hours more in seat or pen ;
Then some on foot go wallowing thro' the snow,

Two on one horse, or many in a sleigh.
To their dear homes ; whose firesides warmly glow.

And supper waits ; there sanctify the day.
And to confirm their faith in their own ism,
Read Bible, Psalm-book, and the Catechism ;
And thus secure a week's supply of good,
Hard to digest, tough theologic food.



XII.

Another scene a gathering shows,
Of people from some miles around ;

Why, why are timber, boards and chips
Strewn all about their meeting ground ?

Why ? Do'n't you know that Mister Smith
Has bidden them, to help him raise

A new frame-house, in which he hopes
To spend the remnant of his days .''

And all have come, men, women, boys, —
And, lo ! the timbers briskly move.

And in the framework meet, embrace.
United by compulsive love.

Once, twice, the merry raisers pause
To take of drink each man his dole, —

The work is all complete, except
The putting on the ridge its pole.



79

This the workmen cannot lift !

' Send up a bottle filled with rum,'-
They drink, — it operates a charm, —

The timber to its place has come.

And on that dizzy ridge-pole high

Th' excited climber boldly sits,
The bottle swings, and, 'mid hurrahs,

Dashes that bottle all to bits ! •


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Online LibraryDanvers (Mass.)Centennial celebration at Danvers, Mass., June 16, 1852 → online text (page 6 of 22)