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that we were true freemen, by violating the laws of
language. I recollect the discussion was^oiice re-
specting continuing our schools throughout the year ;
when one gentleman remarked that we. were an an-
cient, growing town, and needed two annual schools ;
when an honest farmer started up, and said, " that
for his part, he never went to an animal school, nor
his father before him ; and he did not see why our
children should need animal schools. He thought we
had better save oar money, and leave animal schools
to the Boston fops, who needed them." On another
occasion, it was objected to an agricultural gentleman,




132 THE PURITAN.

who had made a speech rather inconclusive in its
reasoning, that his ground was not tenable. ** Not
tillable, Mr. Moderator," said he ; "I own as much
tillable ground as any other man ; I pay the largest
tax of any one in town ; and. Sir, is it to be objected,
to me, that my ground is not tillable ? " So the
worthy man, like some logicians, found his mistake to
be an error in terminis.

There was one famous speaker in our rustic senate,
who was accustomed to attract great attention. He
went by the name of the learned cobbler. He had a
thin person, a loud voice, a meagre and haggard
look, and as much brass in his face, as prevented
him from ever being abashed. He was always in the
opposition ; and had he been in the British parliament,
would soon have been in the ministry. His gesticu-
lation was very vehement ; and I remember a part
of his speech against .raising our minister's salary.
*' Turn your eyes," said he, " my fellow-townsmen, to
Bunker. Hill." [Which, by the way, was far enough
out of sight, but he obviously meant the eyes of the
imagination.] '' On that consecrated ground, our
fathers poured out their blood, in crimson torrents,
for the cause of liberty ; for liberty they faced their
British foes ; for liberty they fought and for liberty
they bled. For liberty, Warren lay a breathless corps
on the cold ground, sprinkled by the dews of the
night, and making the green sod his immortal pillow.
For liberty they resisted the stamp-act. Yes, liberty




THE PURITAN. 133

was the goddess at whose shrine they poured the
sacrifice of their blood, and the incense of their
prayers. Yes. — They did — and shall we now be
slaves ? " This speech must appear very beautiful,
when we remember it was made on a motion to add
twenty-five dollars per annum to a clergyman's salary.




THE PURITAN

No. 45. ■



I would be worldly wise ; for the other wisdom,
That does prescribe us a well-governed life,
And to do right to others, as ourselves,
I value not an atom.

JUassenger,

Amidst all the character that have passed under
my inspection^ I know of none more disgusting and
contemptible, than a thorough-going politician. Poli-
tics, in <ill the forms of the science, from the manage-
ment of the parish to the rival candidates for the
highest chair in the nation, sharpens the envy, ex-
tinguishes the benevolence of men, and makes them
arithmetical machines, moving only by their interest,
without one impulse from the benevolence of a gen-
erous heart.

I have already mentioned squire Wilson, our mod-
erator, vi^ho vv^as a true specimen of a politician on a
small scale, and in a humble sphere. The squire




THE PURITAN. 135

was a man who lived on calculation. He never, ut-
tered a sentiment, or moved a step, or took off his
hat, but with a view to the effect. He was a tall,
stately man, well dressed ; who loved a glass of
brandy, and spoke Avith a silver tongue. He was re-
markable for never committing himself on any ques-
tion, until it was absolutely necessary ; and he had a
fund of common-place remarks, by which he could
go round a subject, without commg to the vital point.
He always waited to see which way the stream would
set, and then threw himself into the current. His
practice was to suspend his opinion, "the matter
was weighty and worthy of deliberation." No man
could call him hasty or rash with his mouth ; he never
let his tongue run before his thoughts. He fully
complied with the direction of Scripture, in being
swift to hear, slow to speak. He remembered, ac-
cording to the directions of the old philosopher, that
he had one mouth and two ears, and therefore he
should hear twice as much as he taxed others with
hearing. He well knew that one hasty speech might
lose him ten votes, and ten votes might turn the
election.

The squire was one of the most affable men alive.
He would pat one man on the shoulder, whilst he
gave him agreeable advice ; pull off his hat to a
second, and squeeze a third by the hand. He never
gave any advice but what was agreeable. There was
another squire in town, who was as great a hon vivant



136 THE PURITAN.

as himself, being generally muddled by three o'clock
in the afternoon, from drinking brandy. All the
town noticed it, and predicted, unless some faithful
friend should arouse him from his error, he would be
over seas, and gone as a citizen and as a man. Every-
body knows how agreeable certain prescriptions are
to people in this condition. Squire Wilson went to
see him, and thus addressed him — " Brother," said he,
*' your health fails ; I clearly perceive you look pale ;
(the fact was, his cheeks were like two red pulpit-
cushions ;) you are too abstemious ; 1 advise you, as
you grow older, to lay in some good Madeira, and
some good old cogniac, and take a glass now and
then. Your stomach requires it," Whether the ad-
vice was taken, I know not ; but an assenting smile
testified that it was abundantly agreeable.

Squire Wilson was remarkable for never giving a
direct answer. I remember that my old favorite
John Bunyan says, that out of the mouth of Apollyon,
the fiend that encountered Christian, came fire and
smoke. It was not so with squire Wilson. Out of
his mouth, whenever he spoke, there came nothing
but smoke. I recollect that one day when he was
walking in his field, swinging his cane and overlook-
ing his workmen, two worthy citizens laid a wager of
ten dollars, that one of them could not go to him and
propose any question, whatever the question might be,
to which he should give a simple and direct answer.
The champion went, and out of all possible questions,



THE PURITAN. ' 137

he proposed the following. He knew that the worthy
gentleman had an only son in Savannah, whom he
loved as well as he was capable of loving any thing.
He therefore asked, " Pray, sir, when did you hear
from your son ? " The squire paused, looked up to
the sun in the sky, squirted the tobacco-juice from
his mouth, and said, '' My good friend, do you think
the mail has got in to-day ? " Thus nature was un-
deviating, and the wager was lost.

This popular man was very discreet with his tongue.
He was no slanderer ; he neither invented nor re-
ported any tales, to the injury of his neighbor's good
name. He was even excessively incredulous, to all
such stories as other people were prone to believe.
If he ever heard that a man set his ov/n house on
fire, in order to cheat the insurers or to excite the
charities of the people, he always rejected the ac-
count, as an incredible act of wickedness. Though
he was a Calvinist, and had been taught the As-
sembly's Catechism, he was no believer in total de-
pravity, at least in detail. With him, everybody was
good ; it was good Mr. A, and worthy Mr. B, and
my estimable friend Mr. C, and so on to the last
scoundrel that filled up the tail of the human al-
phabet. Conscious, he said, of his own imperfections,
he was unwilling to turn a scrutinizing or cruel eye
on those of mankind.

As to his charities, they were all secret ; he never
sounded a trumpet before him when he gave alms,

YOL. II. 10



138 THE PURITAN.

nor did he let his right hand know what his left hand
did. How many poor widows he relieved, or how
many orphans he educated, no man in Bundleborough
pretended to say. But that he might have performed
many secret charities, is possible ; for he was saving
of his money ; and what could he save it for, unless
to give it away 1 But he kept his charities so very
secret, that not one of them ever came to liffht.

Yet this man was one of the most popular leaders
in our town. He was the darling of the place. Long
did he represent us in the general court ; where, I
have heard it said, he was the wisest looking man in
the whole body, though he seldom made speeches in
that assembly. There, he hid his mental wisdom as
carefully as he did his charities when he was at home,
in Bundleborough. But I have been informed, and
tradition still preserves the fact, that no man walked
into the hall of legislation with a better grace ; no
man bowed to the speaker's chair with greater dignity;
and no man could say yea or no with a firmer voice,
when the signified interests of his constituents were
at stake. In all these things, he was the very Sol-
omon of his day.

The mortal remains of this great statesman now
sleep in our grave-yard. Under a thorn-bush, whose
crinkled boughs represent the tortuosities of a poli-
tician's heart, is seen his marble stone, bearing the
figure of two angels, crowning his head with laurel,
while a ray of glory seems to stream on it from the



THE PURITAN. 139

skies. On the smooth marble is this epitaph ; written
by some surviving friend, who soothed his sorrows by
thus lauding the departed dead.

\ Beneath this stone

Lie the mortal remains of

Ebenezer Wilson, Esq.,

Who departed &c. &c. &c.

Born in the times which tried men's souls,

He was bold, valiant, and sincere ;

He sought the public interest

To the neglect of his own ;

He was prudent, yet open-hearted ;

Liberal, yet economical ;

A moralist, and yet a Christian ;

Bundleborough never lost a more faithful representative,

Nor his country a greater man ;

He lies here

In the confident hope of a glorious resurrection.



THE PURITAN

No. 46.



A clear idea is therefore another name for a little idea.

Burke.



Sir Thomas Brown, was a singular character, and,
in his Religio Medici, he has laid open his heart with
great freedom. He tells us, that in the Bible, he
could hardly find impossibilities enough for his active
faith ; he adopted those interpretations of certain
texts, which place them in irreconcilable contradic-
tion to the demonstrations of science and the expe-
rience of mankind ; " because," says he, " I love to
lose myself in mystery, and 'tis my solitary recrea-
tion to pose my apprehension with those involved
enigmas and riddles of the Trinity and incarnation:"
he delights to believe a thing not only above, but con-
trary to reason. Such was the exalted faith of Sir
Thomas Brown, which one may safely expose to
public notice, as there is very little danger of its being
followed in this analytic age.



THE PURITAN. 141

The reverse of wrong is not always right ; and
there is such a thing, as being too much afraid of a
mystery, both in our philosophy and religion. For
what is a mystery ? It is the antithesis, I apprehend,
of something we can analyze, and the end of every
analytic process is to terminate in a mystery, A so-
lution has reference to what it solves ; and the solu-
tion itself is a mystery. Thus, for example, when we
see this vast universe in motion ; planets, comets and
satellites, keeping their appropriate places ; and we
ask, how the motion began ? we find, according to
the doctrine of some of the old philosophers, that we
must terminate in the belief of a universal mind ; for,
as all matter is passive, we must suppose that the be-
ginning of activity is spirit. In this sense, the existence
of God is a solution ; an ultimate truth which explains,
in the most satisfactory manner conceivable, all the
phenomena of nature. But then, in itself considered^
the existence of God is a mystery. If you undertake
to solve the solution, or to analyze that which is the
end of every other analysis, you are lost at once. An
ocean of darkness arises before you, and you have
neither chart nor compass to picture or cross its illim-
itable wastes.

The truth is, all philosophy (and what is religion
J)ut a species of just philosophy ?) consists of two
"^^xis— analysis and mystery. These are blended,
like the light and darkness in the natural world. The
great art is, to know when the analytic possibility



142 THE PURITAN.

closes and the mystery begins. This is wisdom ;

THIS IS THE LAST DISCOVERY RESERVED FOR THE FAC-
ULTIES OF MAN. If it were not so, we might go on
explaining forever. Every lamp we bring to the word
of God or the works of nature would want another light
to illuminate it ; and the maxim of the old poet would
be false, that light is a thing which is seen by itself;
or in other words, it would not be true that knowledge
is knowledge.

Nor are these mysteries barren and unproductive
in their influence on the understanding or the heart.
In religious things I am persuaded, that the unknown
is almost as necessary to the sanctifying the heart as
the known. Sir Thomas Brown got part of the truth,
though he overstated it through his love of paradox.
For what can be more necessary, than that man should
wonder and adore, before an idea so vast, as to assure
us that it comes from God, and so perplexing, as to
lead us up to God again ? It is the same impression
in intellectuals, which was made on the Israelites
in visible things, when they saw, at a trembling dis-
tance, Moses approach the thick darkness where God_
was.

We should distinguish between mystery and mysti-
Jication. The last is always foolish and contemptible,
or weak and to be explained. If a man comes to me
with some crude thoughts, which he clothes in a half
metaphor, (as, for example, when some honest quaker
calls his reason and conscience the light within ; or



THE PURITAN. 143

when a Swedenborgian comes and expresses moral
edification, by all the technics of architecture,) I see
at once he is mystifying what might be expressed in
much more literal language. Very much of this
language is foi^nd, I suspect, in the works of the old
platonist, and even in the writings of some excellent
theologians. This I call mystification ; and to such
a man, I should say, Pray, sir, do learn to call a spade
by its right name. Of these cobwebs of a diseased,
unswept imagination, we cannot keep our minds too
free. But if any one thinks, by avoiding these, to
avoid all mystery, he knows but half the work of
philosophy, and he loses all the power of religiop.
Religion, without mystery, would be a little idea. Its
immensity, its majesty, its glory, its adoration would
be sunk in the crucible and irrecoverably lost.

It is not without severe reflection, that we see how
these mysteries meet us on every side. An analytic
mind gets a taste for half the work of philosophy,*
and loses all that is to be found on the other side.
But as it is with our roads — they either terminate on
the seaside, or are connected until we reach the
' boundless forests of the west ; so it is with our investi-
gations — they all end in a mystery, which it is useful
for us to see, and it would be pious in us to adore.

Let us take an example.

We exist in time and space. These are the two
"receptivities," as the Germans call them, in which

* i. e. for analysis only.



144 THE PURITAN.

the understanding acts, and all incorporated things
are found.^. But what is time ? and what is space ?
At first they seem to be very comprehensible ; for
they are the conditions of all existence. They seem
almost like finer elements in which we float ; and it is
by opening our eyes and attending to our own con-
sciousness, that these ideas enter the mind. But
what is time ? What do we mean by equal periods of
duration? It is one of the most puzzling questions, I
ever asked myself Time can be only measured by
time, as extension can only be measured by extension.
Two parts of extension you can bring together to
measure one by the other ; but how can you bring
two parts of time (which is elapsed and gone, while
we speak of it) together, to measure one by the other?
There is no standard hour laid up in the tower, or a
chronometer's office in Washington, by which all
time shall be measured. Even while my breath is
forming the expressions, " equal time," and " com-
mensurate portions," I am at a loss to know what I
mean. A fugitive idea is there ; it flits before me ; I
grasp it and it is gone. O the deep mystery ! The
Power that measures my existence, eludes my re-
search, and plunges me into darkness.

If the reader will thoughtfully peruse the 590th
number of the Spectator, he will there find all I wish
to say, concerning the mysteries involved (I might
say apparent contradictions) in the existence of time
and space. I refer to that number with great pleasure.



THE PURITAN. 145

It was the first production which involved me in deep
thinking. It made me a little, petulant metaphysi-
cian ; and brought down some severe rebukes on my
boyish head, from my grandfather and aunt.

For these reasons, I have never been scrupulous of
receiving a system of religion, which presents me
with some mysteries. I find them in nature ; and I
ought to expect to find them in a revelation, which
comes from an infinite God ; and as I have settled it
to my own satisfaction, that some of the deep things
of my creed, are not mystification, (i. e. things
voluntarily darkened, when they might be expressed
more plainly,) I conclude them to be mysteries;
and, though I would not say with Sir Thomas Brown,
that there is not enough of these in the Bible for my
active faith, yet far less would I reject an interpreta-
tion, " which contains a doctrine, the light of nature
cannot discover, or a precept, which the law of nature
does not oblige to." *

Before I close, let me say a word respecting one
of the most repulsive articles in the old theology of
New England. It is well known that our fathers
taught the doctrine of the imputation of Adam's sin
to all his posterity ex arhitrio Dei ; and this has filled
their descendants with the most pious horror, and
been a standing reproach to them and their religion.
What ! make men sinners by an arbitrary decree ;
and damn tender infants for a crime which they never

* Butler's Analogy, chap. I. part 2.



146 THE PURITAN.

committed!! Horrible! absurd! blasphemous!! But,
it is a rule with me, when I find any thing emi-
nently strange in human opinions, to ask myself
whether I understand the thing as it lay in the minds
of those, who embraced it. I would respectfully in-
quire then, whether all these exclamations are not
founded in mistake '? The existence of sin is a
mystery ; and if the doctrine of imputation is to be
considered as a solution of that mystery, it is worthy
of all the names of absurdity, which have been heaped
upon it. But was it so intended ? I apprehend our
fathers meant to leave the primitive mystery just where
the light of nature and revelation leaves and finds it.
They only meant to state a subordinate fact in the
government of God. If so, their doctrine darkened
nothing; it only leaves us to bow in submissive
adoration when reason says we must.



THE PURITAN.

No. 47.



Desire first taught us words : Man when created,
At first alone, long wandered up and down,
Forlorn and silent as his vassal-beasts ;
But when a heaven -born maid, like you, appeared,
Strange pleasure filled his eyes, and fired his heart,
Unloosed his tongue, and. his first talk was — love.

The Orphan,

I HAVE often employed myself in sp,eculating on the
influence of republicanism on the private manners of
domestic life ;/6n those little items of thouorht and sen-
sation which make up, after all our proud aspirations,
the sum total of our wretchedness or felicity. ) There
can be no doubt that republicanism, and the free dis-
cussions, which it invites and allows, tends to produce
a conflict of opinions, a sharpening of the temper, a
division of neighborhoods into factions, a jealousy and
alienation of life and heart, which it requires the
strongest wisdom to regulate, and the highest moral
principle to resist and overcome. But let us



148 THE PURITAN.

dwell on the dark side. In all ages and all govern-
ments, the duty of man is a combat with his propensi-
ties ; and if liberty makes him too rough a disputer,
despotism grinds him down to be a servile hypocrite.

There is one point of view, in which I am con-
vinced that republicanism is eminently favorable to
domestic happiness ; I allude to its influence on love
and marriage. The affections are left far more to
their natural course, than in the aristocratic world, and
there are far fewer restrictions on marriao-e. Dr.
Dwight used frequently to say, that the doctrine of the
English moralists on this subject was erroneous.
That there are few happy marriages, is their constant
assertion. They represent courtship, especially among
the higher classes, as constant effort at simulation
and dissimulation ; love is professed and riches are
sought. Jointures, pin-money, and all the arts of in-
terest disturb the hearts of the parties, and destroy
their happiness. A connection begun in mercenary
views, often is continued in jealousy, and ends in
divorce. But in America, love flies over our cities
and villages, on his golden wings, unhampered by
these oppressive chains. Our marriages are prompted
by nature, regulated by principle, and are therefore
introductions to happiness. A time will probably
come, when the present condition of New England in
this respect, will be looked back on as its golden
age.

As a proof of the justice of this remark, I would



THE PURITAN. 149

adduce the fact, that so few pathetic stories of wound-
ed affection and disappointed love can be formed on
New England manners, and yet bear much resem-
blance to truth. Here is no proud lord, ready to
sacrifice his daughter's happiness to a marriage of
policy; no Clarissa to be given to a Somes, and no
Douglas to be joined to a Percy ; but, nature prompted
by affection follows her own laws ; a process of love,
is too happy for the parties to be pleasing to the spec-
tator. I have been looking round for some pathetic
stories with which to adorn my book ; but among all
my acquaintance, I have hardly found a hint for fic-
tion to manufacture into a tale of tears.

Yet there is always a defective side in all human
manners, a gap for vice to enter in. As we look over
countries, we find some fashions- supremely happy;
they seem to be invented by Wisdom herself, to bind
virtue to the soil by linking her with delight. But on
the other hand, there will be some instances as re-
markable of an opposite kind. Take, for example,
the well-regulated stage in Athens, especially when
under the influence of the muse of tragedy. How in-
tellectual her voice ! How sublime (for pagans) her
moral lessons ! Yet, on the other hand, what a fatal
mistake it was ; how completely did they set manners
on the side of vice, when they cramped and confined
the education of the wife, denied her all the orna-
ments which please, and lavished them on the harlot !
It seems as if the fashions of all countries, had been



150 THE PURITAN.

established by two powers ; part of them by a messen-
ger of benevolence, and part by a destroying angel.
So strangely are they combined.

There is one side on which sensuality has sadly
soiled the purity of love in New England ; and it is a
vice to which our youth have been tempted by an un-
fortunate system of manners. I can explain it best
by a quotation from Shakspeare. When Ferdinand
is breathing out the ardor of his love to Miranda, the
poet makes her father say — and may the spirit of the
lines thrill through the hearts of all our rustic youth !

Then as my gift and thine own a<;quisition
Worthily pui chased, take my daughter : But
If thou dost break her virgin knot before
All sanctimonious ceremonies may
With full and holy rite be ministered,
No sweet aspersion shall the heavens let fall
To make this contract grow ; biit barren hate,
Sour-eyed disdain and discord, shall bestrew
The union of your bed with weeds so loathly,
That you shall hate it both : therefore, take heed,
As Hymen's lamp shall like you. —

This has been, and is, a needed lesson in New
England ; and I am afraid that thousands have found ^
the imprecation verified in their after-experience. For
how can the man esteem the wife whom he has found
and made frail ; and who can never point to the
register of his family births without confusion and


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