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LETTERS

"i



FROM THE ^ ^J- I ofore this, but I have been
so incessantly occujjied with seeing sights and entering into
society, that I have never been al)le to find a moment's leisure,
in which to put my design in execution : in truth, I am now in
the full tide of social enjoyment; and the friends to whom I am
introduced are so intelligent, and the objects of interest which they
point out to my notice so numerous, tliat I have scarcely time to
record the impressions which are made upon me, by what I am
every day seeing and hearing. Each town that I visit has its owji
peculiar claims to my attention, and I often think that I am like the
little boy in the story ; who, when the flowers began to peej) forth,
and the birds to sing, came running to his mother, and exclaimed,
*'0h, mamma! what a pleasant time of the year this is ! I wish it
was always spring !" In two or three months the charms of spring
were forgotten, and it was summer, which he would wish to last for
ever; and so of autumn and winter ; and at the end of tlie twelve
months his observant parent, who had carefully recorded his impres-
sions, recalled to his recollection how each of the four seasons had
brought its own attractions with it, and had been, while it lasted, the
most delightful of all. It is the same with me; — when I spent a
day or two at Philadelphia, soon after I landed, I guessed that that
would be the i)lace that I sliould choose to i-eside in during the
winter; when I arrived at Boston, that was better than Philadelphia:
to Albany I next went, knowing only one man, and when I came
away, in ten days, I had made the acquaintance of a whole host of
most intelligent persons ; then came the cultivated society, and the
hearty merriment of Old Stockbridge ; to these succeeded New
Haven, which won my heart more than any thing that had gone
before ; and now I find myself in the bosom of a most kind and

B



4 Letters from the United States ; — New Haven.

interesting family, and this very day I have enlarged the circle of
my friends, by the acquaintance of a man of great learning, an
accomplished mind, and most polished manners. And what does
all this prove ? Nothing more or less than this ; that the backwoods
of America are one thing, and its cities another ; that its roads may
be rough, and its stages execrable, and many of those whom you
meet in travelling, very far from being gentlefolks ; but that, in the
great resting-places of your journey, you meet with men, of whom
you would be proud to make friends and associates — men of talent
and education, full of information, and setting aside even their
own convenience, in order to shew you the rights of hospitality, and
give you every opportunity of seeing what you wish to see.

Old Stockbridge, to which I came from Albany, and which lies
thirty-five miles to the south-east of that place, is a pleasant village,
shaded with trees, and situated in a well-wooded part of the country.
I was there introduced to Miss Sedgwick, the authoress, and several

of her relatives, and also to Mr. A . He is an Englishman by

birth, and as fine a man as I ever saw — grey-headed, and worn in
appearance, as he well may be, for he has lived thirty-five years in
India, and has twice crossed the deserts of Arabia, but still young
and fresh in spirit — full of all that life and soul, which the
Americans, with all their acknowledged merits, too commonly want.
There are indeed some bright exceptions to the remark, but in
general the inhabitants of this land of freedom are far too demure for
me: you may pour out upon them the whole treasury of your wit,
you may say things which ought to " set the table in a roar," and
they will look as serious as the grave ; not a muscle of their features
will betra}^ an emotion of delight, or all tliat you can elicit from
them, in return for the good things which you have lavished, will be
a faint and provoking smile. How refreshing then it was to find
myself in the company of one, who had some sold in him, and who
seemed himself to understand, and wished to make others understand
also, that life was given to be enjoyed. Never shall I forget his
hearty laugh and his soul-stirriug animation; it did me good to
come within the sphere of its enlivening warmth, and I shall be
sorry if I am compelled to quit the States without benefiting by it
once more.

From Old Stockbridge I came through a rough but beautiful
country, by way of Vait Dei/senviUe, Sheffield and Canaan, to
Hartford; and thence the next day I proceeded to New Haven — the
road, one of the best that I have travelled in the United States, and
the movements of the stage the quickest, though nothing to boast of
after all, for it took us nearly five hours to accomplish thirty-four
miles. I am heartily tired of American stage-travelling; in steam-
boats they equal, or, perhaps, exceed us ; their railroads, though not
quite on a par with the Manchester and Liverpool, are very fair ;
but their roads are bad, and their coaches miserable : there is
scarcely one of them which is hung on steel springs ; they are all
suspended on leathers, and the consequence is, that you swing about
in a style which is enough to shake all life out of your body : it is
bad enough when the vehicle is full of passengers, and ten times
worse when there are only one or two to ballast it.



hetters from the United States j — New Haven. 5

You will recollect that Mr. B furnished mo with a letter of

introduction to Professor Silliman of Yale College, New Haven.
He is a most accomplished and delightful man, and I must say that
I have not yet met with any one in the course of my Transatlantic
wanderings, who has more laid himself out to be of service to me, or
whose society is more instructive and agreeable. To him and to
Professor Kingsley I feel myself greatly indebted for the pains which
they took, to shew me everything worthy of notice in and about the
town. One of the first objects which they took me to see was the
grave of Dixwell, the regicide, who died here in the year l(o88-9, in
the 82d year of his age, and is interred in the old burying-ground in
the rear of the spot on which tlie Centre Church now stands. At his
own request the only inscri))tion on his tomb is that of his initials,
I. D. Esq., with his age and tlie time of his death : this caution was
observed, lest " his enemies might dishonour his ashes ;" it was, in
fact, only just before he died that he told Avho he was, and owned the
name of John Dixwell. Under the feigned name of James Davids,
he had lived for many years without molestation in the town of New
Haven, and had there married two wives. His political friends,
Goffe and Whalley, were not so fortunate ; Avhen the king's warrant
for their apprehension arrived at New Haven, they would probably
have been taken, had they not been befriended in various ways by the
minister and people. Among other devices to assist them, it is re-
corded, that about the time when their pursuers came to New Haven,
or })erhaps a little before, in order to prepare the minds of the people
for their reception, the Rev. Mr. Davenport preached publicly from
this text, Isaiah xvi. 3, 4, "Take counsel, execute judgment; make
thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday ; hide the out-
casts; bewray not him that wandereth. Let mine outcasts dwell with
thee, Moab ; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler."
This, doubtless, had its effect, putting the whole town upon their
guard, and uniting the people in caution and concealment. On
one occasion, the regicides hid themselves under the very bridge
over w^hich their pursuers passed ; frequently they betook them-
selves to some caves on the West Uock, about two miles from the
town ; and the latter part of their lives they passed in the cellar of the
Rev. Mr. Russell, at Hadley, near Northampton ; there they died,
and there, most probably, they are buried, though this is not certainly
known.* 1 drove out to the West Rock, to view their places of
concealment, and seldom have I been more interested with an}^ thing
that J have seen. The higher cave consists of a fissure, which has
been made by some tremendous convulsion of nature, in an immense
block of stone, as large as a small house, situated on the top of a high
ridge of rock, and surrounded by wood, Avhich was probably thicker
in former times than it is now.

On the face of one of the rocks is the inscription —

OPPOSITION TO
TYRANTS IS
OBEDIENCE TO
GOD.

* For an account of the rejiiciflos, sec "Anecdotes of Eminent Persons,"
2 vols. 8vo. — London, 18(J4.



6 Letters from the United States ; — Neiv Haveii.

This was originally carved by the hands of the fugitives, and has since
been renewed from time to time. In this retreat the regicides were
supplied with food by the kindness of a neiglibouring farmer, of the name
of Sperry, Avho used to send liis little boy with provisions tied up in a
cloth, which were to be deposited on a certain stump of a tree, that
they might be fetched away by the outlaws. Nor yet were hunger
and the avenging arm of the law the only evils which they had to
dread ; one night they saw the bright eyes of a panther glaring in
upon them through the entrance of their dwelling, and this so
alarmed then), that they made a precipitate retreat. Another of
their places of refuge was the lower cave, which is somewhat more
commodious than the higher, but still a very poor defence against the
inclemencies of tlie weather. As we approached it, the dogs of a kind
of American Gipsy, came barking out at us: she was clearly of
Indian blood, — one of the perishing remnants of those proud tribes,
who were once masters of tlie soil. Fcav situations can be imagined
more wretched than hers ; there she was, living all alone, with no
other company, at least, than that of her dogs, for her people, she
told me, had been absent on a journey ever since spring ; however,
she expected them back every day, and in the mean time occupation
must have contributed to drive away the thoughts of solitude, for she
was busily employed in making baskets, of split nuiple and ash, and
very neat they were ; she had not one ready, or I would have purchased
it, as a memento of the place.

By the kindness of my friends I was also allowed to inspect the
old records of the city of New Haven. They are written in a large
folio book, which had evidently been one of the ledgers of Theo-
philus Eaton, a ricli London merchant, one of the first settlers. The
most interesting document which it contains is the original treaty
witli the Indians for the purchase of the land, on part of which the
town is built. It bears date November 14th, 1G38. The purchase
was made from Momaugin, the sachem of Quinipiocke ; he and his
council appear to have been very sharp fellows, and to have looked
well to their own interest, for, although they agree to give up the
land in question to the new comers, they at the same time stipulate
that they shall have a sufficient quantity to plant on, upon the
East side of the harbour; that they shall have the right of hunting,
fishing, and taking the beaver, provided they do not set their traps
so as to injure the cattle, and that they do not take any fish out of
the weirs belonging to the English : that, when they are affrighted
in their dwellings, they may fiy to the English for shelter and
protection, and that the}' shall moreover receive, " by way of free
and thankful retribution, twelve coats of English trucking-cloth,
twelve alcumy-spoons,* twelve hatchets, twelve hoes, two dozen of
knives, twelve porringers, and four cases of French knives and
scissors." One article of the treaty is curious, as it shews both the
reverence which the planters had for the sabbath, and the troublesome
habits of the people with Avhom they had to deal : the Indians "bind
themselves that none of them shall henceforward hanker about the
English houses, at any time, when the English use to meet about

* What is meant by alcumy-spoons, I have not been able to ascertahi.



Letters from the United States ; — New Haven. 7

the public worsliip of God, nor on tlie Lord's day, henceforward, be
seen within the compass of the English toAvn, bearing any burden,
or offering to truck with the English for any commodity whatsoever."
Affixed to this are the signatures, or rather marks, of Momaugin and
liis councillors ; and then follows another treaty, made in December
following, for the jiurehase of another tract, which lay principally to
the north of the former. For this Montowese, the sachem, bargained
that the English sliould give him " eleven coats made of trucking-
cloth, and one coat for liimself, of English cloth, made up after the
English manner, and that they should allow him and his tribe
ground to plant upon, and lil)erty to hunt within the lands." The
signatures to this treaty are very characteristic, that of Montowese
being a bow and arrow, and that of Sawsounk, who accompanied
him, a tomahawk.

The first meeting of the colonists to establish their civil and reli-
gious polity, was on the 4th of June, 1G39: the record begins thus : —
" The fourth of the fourth month, called June, 1639, all the free
planters assembled together in the great meeting, to consult about
settling civil government according to God, and about the nomi-
nation of persons that might be found by consent of all, fittest, in all
respects, for the foundation-work of a church, which was intended to
be gathered in Quinipiocke." Many of the entries in this i-ecord-
book are very curious, as shewing the habits of the people, and the
state of the country. Thus — "At a court held at New Haven the
6th of December. 1G43, Goodman Chapman, Brother Davis, John
Thomas, Sam Hoskins, Brother Nicholls, Joh. Charles, Thomas
Barnes, and Thomas Wheeler, were fined 5. 8 (5s. 8^.) a peece, for
want of ladders" — which, it appears, they were required to have
affixed to their houses, to be ready in case of fire ; and to the same
purport we find an order that " every chimney shall be swept once
a month in winter, and every two months in summer." In another
place we find an order that " whatsoever pigs, under three-quarters-
of-a-year old, shall be found in the corne unyoaked, no fence being
downe, the owners of them shall pay 6 pence a peece. This order to
be in force no longer than till Indian harvest be fnned" (finished,)
L c. till the Indian corn be got in. And to the same purport — "7th
of December, 1642. Forasmuch as John Owen hath had some
damage done in his corne, by hogs, occasioned through the neglect
of Mr. Lamberton, John Bud, and Will Preston, in not making up
their fence in season ; it is therefore ordered, thatt the said Mr. Lam-
berton, John Bud, and Will Preston, shall make satisfaction to tlie
said John Owen, for the damage done, viz. — 8 days' work, and 2
pecks of corne, whicli is to be pay'd according to the several apportions
of fence unset up respectively;" which is cxj)iained by the circum-
stance, that, to save expense, a number of men put a common fence
round several plots of land, and each was under an obligation to
keep his part of it in order. Other entries shew us the dangers
which beset the colonists, and how necessary it was considered to
keep a strict watch : thus — " Brother Thorpe, for coming late to set
his watch, and neglecting to order itt ariglit, when he did come, was
fined 10. 8" (lOs. M.) "Jerimy Whitnell, for not keeping a
sentinell forth, and suffering, at least, some of his watchmen to sleep,



8 Letters from the United States ; — New Haven.

was fined 5. 8 ;" and again, " October 30th, 1643, Armes on the
Lord's day. It was ordered that one of the squadrons, in their
course, shall come to the meeting every Saboth compleatly Armed,
fitt for service, with, Att the least, 6 charges of shot and pouder, and
be ready at the meeting-house within halfe an bower after the first
beating of the drum, then and there to be at the comaund of the
officer in such service as they are appointed to attend unto on those
dayes, under such penalty as the court shall judge meet, according
to the nature of their offence ; allso, tlie sentinell, and those that
walke the round, shall have their matches lighted dureing the time of
the meeting, if they have match locks."

The strict notions which those first settlers entertained on various
points of morals, and of discipline, and their hatred of the Church of
England on the one hand, and of heretics in general, on the other,
may be judged of from the following extracts from "The Blue Laws
of Connecticut," so called because the first printed laws of the colony
were stitched in blue-coloured paper. From the first three articles
which are cited, it is perfectly clear that those straight-laced
sectarians were utterly ignorant of the true principles of religious
liberty, for, the very moment that they had escaped from their own
persecutors, they were ready to infiict on others the same sufferings,
wliich had driven the)n to take refuge in a foreign land.

*' No food or lodging shall be afforded to a Quaker, Adamite, or
other heretic.

*' If any person turns Quaker, he shall be banished, and not suf-
fered to return on pain of death.

*' No priest shall abide in this dominion ; he shall be banished, and
suffer death on his return. Priests may be seized by any one,
without warrant.

*' No one to run on the sabbath-day, or walk in his garden, or
elsewhere, except reverently to and from meeting. No one shall
travel, cook victuals, make beds, sweep house, cut hair, or shave on
the sabbath-day.

" No woman shall kiss her child on the sabbath or fasting day.

" The sabbath shall begin at sunset on Saturday.*

*' Whoever wears clothes trimmed with gold, silver, or bone-lace,
above two shillings by the yard, shall be presented by the grand
jurors, and the select men shall tax the offender at £300 estate.

" No one shall read common prayer, keep Christmas or Saints*
days, make minced pies, dance, play cards, or play on any instrument
of music, except the drum, trumpet, or Jews' harp.

" No gosj)el minister shall join people in marriage ; the magistrates
only shall join in marriage, as they may do it with less scandal to
Christ's church.

" When parents refuse their children convenient marriages, the
magistrates shall determine the point.

" No man shall court a maid in person ,or by letter, without first
obtaining consent of her parents : £5 penalty for the first offence j
£10 for the second ; and for the third, imprisonment during the
pleasure of the court.

* Of this custom I am told there are still relics in some parts of New England.



Letters from the United States ; — New Haven. 9

" Married persons must live together, or be imprisoned.

*' Every male shall have his hair cut round according to a cap."

The strange inconsistency of these men, and their stern ideas of
justice may be judged of by this ; that though one of their laws is,
that " The man-stealer shall suffer death :" the law next but one in
order is this, "A debtor in prison, swearing he lias no estate, shall be
let out and sold, to make satisfaction."

The care which the Puritans took to exclude episcopacy from
New Haven might be successful at the time, but, if they could now
rise from their graves, they would be somewhat astonished and
shocked to see two churches of this communion flourishing in the
city. One of them is situated on the green, or open park, which
occupies the centre of the town. This is a verdant and shady plot of
ground, three or four hundred yards each way, and contains three
other churches, one belonging to the Baptist, and two to the Congre-
gational denomination — as well as the state-house, a beautiful building
in the form of a Grecian temple, with a portico facing the West
New Haven may be well described as Mitt^mtmm^, et in urhe rus
for most of the houses are apart from each other, and along the sides
of the streets are planted rows of ti'ees, Avhich must make this the
most delightful of town residences in the summer time. The city
contains 15,000 inhabitants ; it stands at the head of a bay, on the
northern side of Long Island Sound, and at the lower extremity of a
wide plain, shut in by two ranges of hills, which terminate in the
east and west rocks, from either of which a charming view is
obtained of the surrounding coimtry. Coach-makers, cabinet-makers,
shoe-makers and tailors are to be found in great abundance at New
Haven, and the new houses which are springing up in every
direction, indicate very clearly that they are driving a flourishing
business. Large quantities of their manufactured articles are con-
stantly exported to the southern states.

Yale College, so called from one of its earliest benefactors, extends
along the whole north side of the green ; the buildings are not
remarkable for architectural beauty, but the situation is airy and
pleasant. The college was founded A.D. 1700, and for the first few
years was located at the village of Killingworth, then at Saybrook,
and, finally, was removed to New Haven, in 1716. The course of
general study extends through four years, and there are, also,
faculties of law, physic, and divinity : the course, in the first, being
two years, and in the second and third, three, or two to those
medical students who have taken the degree of B.A. The cor-
poration consists of a President and eighteen honourable and
reverend assessors ; and there are fourteen professors and eight
tutors, besides instructors in law, natural history, French, and
drawing. Tlie students, this session, are 570 in number ; the greater
part of them reside within the walls of the college, but some, for
whom no rooms can be found, are permitted to board in the town :
they must all, however, make their appearance at prayers in the
chapel, twice a day, in the summer at 5, and in the winter at 6 in
the morning, and at 5 in the afternoon. The necessary ex]>enses
which an undergraduate incurs for instruction, board, lodging, and
contingencies, within the college, are stated to be from 150 to



10 Letters from the United States : — New Haven.

200 dollars a year ; and I am informed, that, if he resides at no
great distance, and is not extravagant, 300 or 400 dollars, (£70 or £80),
in addition to this, will cover all the cost of apparel, pocket-money,
and travelling. Those who are very straitened in their circum-
stances, cut up fire-wood, or wait at table on the others who are
dining in the hall ; and I was assured by one of the professors, that
no reflections whatever are cast upon them by those who have no
occasion themselves to have recourse to these menial occupations.
The general library of the institution is not so large as might be
desired, but there are about 15,000 volumes belonging to the literary
societies formed among the students. The College possesses a splendid
cabinet of minerals, chiefly purchased from Colonel Gibbs, a good
chemical and philosophical apparatus, and a gallery of paintings,
including many of those painted by Colonel Trumbull. Among the
philosophical instruments let me not omit to particularize an acro-
matic telescope, ten feet long, made by Dolland, and presented to
the College by Sheldon Clarke, Esq. This gentleman is a grazing
farmer, and lives a few miles out of town : he had scarcely any
advantages of education when he was young, but when he was grow-
ing up to manhood, he felt an ardent desire to obtain instruction, and
not being then able to pay the usual fees, he was allowed by several
of the professors to attend their courses for one winter, gratuitously.
The benefit which he thus enjoyed was not forgotten by him ; and,
Avhen he at length succeeded to a small fortune, he made a provision


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Online LibraryLarry FreemanLetters from the United States → online text (page 1 of 2)