Trent and Wells, eds. Colonial Prose and Poetry. 1901.Vol. II. The Beginnings of Americanism: 16501710
It is impossible to do justice here to Mather’s complex character. He was very vain, yet from his earliest youth he was trained and trained himself to be self-conscious, and he was always subjected to a great deal of adulation. He had many domestic misfortunes, yet he bore up bravely under them. He was pedantic and fantastic, yet his industry was enormous, and his learning nothing short of colossal. He had many opponents who managed to keep the presidency of Harvard out of his grasp, and to thwart him in many ways, yet, as we have seen, he was one of the earliest of our philanthropists, his example in this respect stimulating Benjamin Franklin himself. But this active man was all the while a visionary who indulged in vigils and fasts to the point of extravagance, and who actually never coughed or washed his hands without a private prayer or pious ejaculation.
As a scholar and writer Cotton Mather was the most celebrated American colonial before the days of Franklin. He was a fellow of the Royal Society, and conducted a large correspondence with learned foreigners. His productions, many of them sermons of course, run up to or pass the prodigious number of four hundred titles, and there are voluminous diaries and treatises by him that are still in manuscript. He has been called, with not a little truth, a “literary behemoth,” but he was also on the whole a great writer whose Magnalia is the most important work of its epoch, and many of whose minor writings may be read with interest and profit, especially the quaint Parentator (1724), in which he described the life of his father, and The Wonders of the Invisible World (1693), his chief contribution to the literature of the witchcraft delusion. His son, Samuel, wrote a very dull life of him in 1729, but he has been fortunate in finding in Professor Barrett Wendell a most sympathetic and competent biographer.
[From “The Wonders of the Invisible World.” 1693.]
[From a Discourse on “The Wonders of the Invisible World.” Uttered (in Part) on August 4, 1692. Printed in the Above.]
First, then, ’tis to be granted; the devils are so many, that some thousands can sometimes at once apply themselves to vex one child of man. It is said, in Mark v. 15, he that was possessed with the devil had the legion. Dreadful to be spoken! A legion consisted of twelve thousand five hundred people; and we see that in one man or two, so many devils can be spared for a garrison. As the prophet cried out, “Multitudes, multitudes, in the Valley of Decision!” So I say, there are multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of destruction, where the devils are! When we speak of the devil, ’tis a name of multitude; it means not one individual devil, so potent and scient, as perhaps a Manichee would imagine; but it means a kind which a multitude belongs unto. Alas, the devils they swarm about us, like the frogs of Egypt, in the most retired of our chambers. Are we at our boards? There will be devils to tempt us unto sensuality. Are we in our beds? There will be devils to tempt us unto carnality. Are we in our shops? There will be devils to tempt us unto dishonesty. Yea, though we get into the church of God, there will be devils to haunt us in the very temple itself, and there tempt us to manifold misbehaviors. I am verily persuaded that there are very few human affairs whereinto some devils are not insinuated. There is not so much as a journey intended, but Satan will have an hand in hindering or furthering of it.
Secondly, ’Tis to be supposed, that there is a sort of arbitrary, even military government, among the devils. This is intimated, when in Mar. v. 9, the unclean spirit said, “My name is Legion.” They are such a discipline as legions use to be. Hence we read about the prince of the powers of the air. Our air has a power? or an army of devils in the high places of it; and these devils have a prince over them, who is king over the children of pride. ’Tis probable that the devil, who was the ringleader of that mutinous and rebellious crew which first shook off the authority of God, is now the general of those hellish armies; our Lord that conquered him has told us the name of him; ’tis Belzebub; ’tis he that is the devil and the rest are his angels, or his soldiers. Think on vast regiments of cruel and bloody French dragoons, with an intendant over them, overrunning a pillaged neighborhood, and you will think a little what the constitution among the devils is.
Thirdly, ’tis to be supposed that some devils are more peculiarly commission’d, and perhaps qualify’d, for some countries, while others are for others. This is intimated when in Mar. v. 10, the devils besought our Lord much, that he would not send them away out of the country. Why was that? But in all probability, because these devils were more able to do the work of the devil, in such a country, than in another. It is not likely that every devil does know every language; or that every devil can do every mischief. ’Tis possible that the experience, or, if I may call it so, the education of all devils is not alike, and that there may be some difference in their abilities. If one might make an inference from what the devils do, to what they are, one cannot forbear dreaming that there are degrees of devils. Who can allow that such trifling dæmons, as that of Mascon, or those that once infested our Newberry, are of so much grandeur, as those dæmons, whose games are mighty kingdoms? Yea, ’tis certain, that all devils do not make a like figure in the invisible world. Nor does it look agreeably that the dæmons, which were the familiars of such a man as the old Apollonius, differ not from those baser goblins that choose to nest in the filthy and loathsome rags of a beastly sorceress. Accordingly, why may not some devils be more accomplished for what is to be done in such and such places, when others must be detach’d for other territories? Each devil, as he sees his advantage, cries out, “Let me be in this country, rather than another.” But enough, if not too much, of these things….
[From the Same.]
This G. B. was indicted for witch-craft, and in the prosecution of the charge against him he was accused by five or six of the bewitched, as the author of their miseries; he was accused by eight of the confessing witches, as being a head actor at some of their hellish randezvouzes, and one who had the promise of being a king in Satan’s kingdom, now going to be erected. He was accused by nine persons for extraordinary lifting, and such feats of strength as could not be done without a diabolical assistance. And for other such things he was accused, until about thirty testimonies were brought in against him; nor were these judg’d the half of what might have been considered for his conviction. However they were enough to fix the character of a witch upon him according to the rules of reasoning, by the judicious Gaule, in that case directed….
The testimonies of the other sufferers concurred with these; and it was remarkable that, whereas biting was one of the ways which the witches used for the vexing of the sufferers, when they cry’d out of G. B. biting them, the print of the teeth would be seen on the flesh of the complainers, and just such a set of teeth as G. B.’s would then appear upon them, which could be distinguished from those of some other men’s. Others of them testified that in their torments G. B. tempted them to go unto a sacrament, unto which they perceived him with a sound of trumpet summoning of other witches, who quickly after the sound would come from all quarters unto the rendezvous. One of them falling into a kind of trance affirmed that G. B. had carried her away into a very high mountain, where he shewed her mighty and glorious kingdoms, and said, “He would give them all to her, if she would write in his book”; but she told him, “They were none of his to give”; and refused the motions; enduring of much misery for that refusal.
It cost the Court a wonderful deal of trouble, to hear the testimonies of the sufferers; for when they were going to give in their depositions, they would for a long time be taken with fits that made them uncapable of saying any thing. The chief judge asked the prisoner, who he thought hindered these witnesses from giving their testimonies. And he answered, “He supposed it was the devil.” That honorable person replied, “How comes the devil then to be so loath to have any testimony borne against you?” Which cast him into very great confusion….
Accordingly several of the bewitched had given in their testimony, that they had been troubled with the apparitions of two women, who said that they were G. B.’s two wives, and that he had been the death of them; and that the magistrates must be told of it, before whom if B. upon his trial denied it, that they did not know but that they should appear again in court. Now G. B. had been infamous for the barbarous usage of his two late wives, all the country over. Moreover, it was testified, the spectre of G. B. threatening of the sufferers told them he had killed (besides others) Mrs. Lawson and her daughter Ann. And it was noted, that these were the virtuous wife and daughter of one at whom this G. B. might have a prejudice for his being serviceable at Salem Village, from whence himself had in ill terms removed some years before; and that when they died, which was long since, there were some odd circumstances about them, which made some of the attendants there suspect something of witch-craft, though none imagined from what quarter it should come.
Well, G. B. being now upon his trial, one of the bewitched persons was cast into horror at the ghost of B’s two deceased wives then appearing before him, and crying for vengeance against him. Hereupon several of the bewitched persons were successively called in, who all, not knowing what the former had seen and said, concurred in their horror of the apparition, which they affirmed that he had before him. But he, though much appalled, utterly deny’d that he discern’d any thing of it; nor was it any part of his conviction….
A famous divine recites this among the convictions of a witch: “The testimony of the party bewitched, whether pining or dying; together with the joint oaths of sufficient persons that have seen certain prodigious pranks or feats wrought by the party accused.” Now, God had been pleased so to leave this G. B. that he had ensnared himself by several instances, which he had formerly given of a preternatural strength, and which were now produced against him. He was a very puny man, yet he had often done things beyond the strength of a giant. A gun of about seven foot barrel, and so heavy that strong men could not steadily hold it out with both hands; there were several testimonies, given in by persons of credit and honor, that he made nothing of taking up such a gun behind the lock with but one hand, and holding it out like a pistol at arms-end. G. B. in his vindication was so foolish as to say, “That an Indian was there, and held it out at the same time.” Whereas none of the spectators ever saw any such Indian; but they supposed, the “Black Man” (as the witches call the devil; and they generally say he resembles an Indian) might give him that assistance. There was evidence likewise brought in, that he made nothing of taking up whole barrels fill’d with molasses or cider in very disadvantageous postures and carrying of them through the difficultest places out of a canoe to the shore.
Yea, there were two testimonies, that G. B. with only putting the forefinger of his right hand into the muzzle of an heavy gun, a fowling-piece of about six or seven foot barrel, did lift up the gun, and hold it out at arms-end; a gun which the deponents thought strong men could not with both hands lift up and hold out at the butt-end, as is usual. Indeed, one of these witnesses was over-persuaded by some persons to be out of the way upon G. B.’s trial; but he came afterwards with sorrow for his withdraw[al], and gave in his testimony. Nor were either of these witnesses made use of as evidences in the trial….
Faltering, faulty, unconstant, and contrary answers upon judicial and deliberate examination, are counted some unlucky symptoms of guilt, in all crimes, especially in witchcrafts. Now there never was a prisoner more eminent for them than G. B. both at his examination and on his trial. His tergiversations, contradictions, and falsehoods were very sensible. He had little to say, but that he had heard some things that he could not prove, reflecting upon the reputation of some of the witnesses.
Only he gave in a paper to the jury; wherein, although he had many times before granted, not only that there are witches, but also that the present sufferings of the country are the effects of horrible witchcrafts, yet he now goes to evince it, “That there neither are, nor ever were witches, that having made a compact with the devil can send a devil to torment other people at a distance.” This paper was transcribed out of Ady; which the Court presently knew, as soon as they heard it. But he said, he had taken none of it out of any book; for which his evasion afterwards was, that a gentleman gave him the discourse in a manuscript, from whence he transcribed it.
The jury brought him in guilty. But when he came to die, he utterly denied the fact whereof he had been thus convicted.
To crown all, John Bly and William Bly testified that being employed by Bridget Bishop to help to take down the cellar wall of the old house wherein she formerly lived; they did in holes of the said old wall find several puppets, made up of rags and hogs-bristles, with headless pins in them, the points being outward; whereof she could give no account to the court that was reasonable or tolerable….
There was one very strange thing more with which the court was newly entertained. As this woman was under a guard, passing by the great and spacious meeting-house of Salem, she gave a look towards the house, and immediately a dæmon invisibly entering the meeting-house, tore down a part of it; so that though there was no person to be seen there, yet the people at the noise, running in, found a board, which was strongly fastened with several nails, transported into another corner of the house.
Here was likewise a cluster of depositions that Mr. Isaac Cummings, refusing to lend his mare unto the husband of Mrs. How, the mare was within a day or two taken in a strange condition. The beast seemed much abused, being bruised as if she had been running over the rocks, and marked where the bridle went, as if burnt with a red-hot bridle. Moreover, one using a pipe of tobacco for the cure of the beast, a blue flame issued out of her, took hold of her hair, and not only spread and burnt on her, but it also flew upwards towards the roof of the barn, and had like to have set the barn on fire. And the mare died very suddenly.
Martha Carrier was indicted for the bewitching certain persons, according to the form usual in such cases pleading not guilty to her indictment; there were first brought in a considerable number of the bewitched persons; who not only made the court sensible of a horrid witchcraft committed upon them, but also deposed that it was Martha Carrier or her shape that grievously tormented them by biting, pricking, pinching and choking of them. It was further deposed that while this Carrier was on her examination before the magistrates, the poor people were so tortured that every one expected their death upon the very spot, but that upon the binding of Carrier they were eased. Moreover the look of Carrier then laid the afflicted people for dead; and her touch, if her eye at the same time were off them, raised them again. Which things were also now seen upon her trial. And it was testified, that upon the mention of some having their necks twisted almost round by the shape of this Carrier, she replied, “It’s no matter though their necks had been twisted quite off.”
Before the trial of this prisoner several of her own children had frankly and fully confessed, not only that they were witches themselves, but that this their mother had made them so. This confession they made with great shews of repentance, and with much demonstration of truth. They related place, time, occasion; they gave an account of journeys, meetings and mischiefs by them performed, and were very credible in what they said. Nevertheless, this evidence was not produced against the prisoner at the bar, inasmuch as there was other evidence enough to proceed upon….
Allin Toothaker testify’d that Richard, the son of Martha Carrier, having some difference with him, pull’d him down by the hair of the head. When he rose again he was going to strike at Richard Carrier; but fell down flat on his back to the ground and had not power to stir hand or foot, until he told Carrier he yielded; and then he saw the shape of Martha Carrier go off his breast.
This Toothaker had received a wound in the wars; and he now testify’d that Martha Carrier told him he should never be cured. Just afore the apprehending of Carrier, he could thrust a knitting needle into his wound, four inches deep; but presently after her being seized, he was thoroughly healed….
One Foster, who confessed her own share in the witchcraft for which the prisoner stood indicted, affirmed that she had seen the prisoner at some of their witch meetings, and that it was this Carrier, who persuaded her to be a witch. She confess’d, that the devil carry’d them on a pole to a witch-meeting; but the pole broke, and she hanging about Carrier’s neck, they both fell down, and she then received an hurt by the fall whereof she was not at this very time recovered….
In the time of this prisoner’s trial, one Susanna Sheldon in open court had her hands unaccountably ty’d together with a wheel-band, so fast that without cutting it could not be loosed. It was done by a spectre; and the sufferer affirm’d it was the prisoner’s.
[From “The Bostonian Ebenezer,” delivered April 7, 1698.]
When it was demanded of Demosthenes, what it was that so long preserved Athens in a flourishing state, he made this answer: “The orators are men of learning and wisdom, the magistrates do justice, the citizens love quiet, and the laws are kept among them all.” May Boston flourish in such happy order!
And first, you may assure yourselves that the
And now will the J
Will the C
There are some who have the eye of the town so much upon them, that the very name of T
Moreover, may not S
There are some officers; but concerning all, there are these two things to be desired: First, it is to be desired that such officers as are chosen among us, may be chosen in the fear of God. May none but pious and prudent men, and such as love the town, be chosen to serve it. And, secondly, it is to be desired that officers of several sorts would often come together for consultation. Each of the sorts by themselves, may they often come together to consult, “What shall we do to serve the town in those interests which are committed unto our charge?” Oh! what a deplorable thing will it be for persons to be entrusted with talents, (your opportunities to serve the town are so many talents!) and they never seriously consider, “What good shall I do with my talents in the place where God hath stationed me?”
And will the R
… But beware, I beseech you, of those provoking evils that may expose us to a plague, exceeding all that are in the catalogue of the twenty-eighth of Deuteronomy. Let me go on to say, What! shall there be any bawdy-houses in such a town as this! It may be the neighbours, that could smoke them, and rout them, if they would, are loth to stir, for fear of being reputed ill neighbours. But I say unto you, that you are ill neighbours because you do it not. All the neighbours are like to have their children and servants poisoned, and their dwellings laid in ashes, because you do it not. And, Oh! that the drinking-houses in the town might once come under a laudable regulation. The town has an enormous number of them; will the haunters of those houses hear the counsels of Heaven? For you that are the town-dwellers, to be oft or long in your visits of the ordinary, ’twill certainly expose you to mischiefs more than ordinary. I have seen certain taverns, where the pictures of horrible devourers were hanged out for the signs; and, thought I, ’twere well if such signs were not sometimes too significant: alas, men have their estates devoured, their names devoured, their hours devoured, and their very souls devoured, when they are so besotted that they are not in their element, except they be tipling at such houses. When once a man is bewitched with the ordinary, what usually becomes of him? He is a gone man; and when he comes to die, he will cry out, as many have done, “Ale-houses are hell-houses! ale-houses are hell-houses!” But let the owners of those houses also now hear our counsels. “Oh! hearken to me, that God may hearken to you another day!” It is an honest, and a lawful, though it may not be a very desirable employment, that you have undertaken: you may glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in your employment if you will, and benefit the town considerably. There was a very godly man that was an innkeeper, and a great minister of God could say to that man, in 3 John 2 “Thy soul prospereth.” O let it not be said of you, since you are fallen into this employment, “Thy soul withereth!” It is thus with too many: especially, when they that get a license perhaps to sell drink out of doors, do stretch their license to sell within doors. Those private houses, when once a professor of the gospel comes to steal a living out of them, it commonly precipitates them into an abundance of wretchedness and confusion. But I pray God assist you that keep ordinaries, to keep the commandments of God in them. There was an Inn at Bethlehem where the Lord J
Furthermore, What changes have we seen in point of possessions? If some that are now rich were once low in the world, ’tis possible, more that were once rich are now brought very low. Ah! Boston, thou hast seen the vanity of all worldly possessions. One fatal morning, which laid fourscore of thy dwelling-houses, and seventy of thy ware-houses, in a ruinous heap, not nineteen years ago, gave thee to read it in fiery characters. And an huge fleet of thy vessels, which they would make if they were all together, that have miscarried in the late war, has given thee to read more of it. Here is one petition more to be made unto our God: “Lord, help us to ensure a better and a lasting substance in heaven, and the good part that cannot be taken away.”
In fine, how dreadfully have the young people of Boston perished under the judgments of God! A renowned writer among the Pagans could make this remark: there was a town so irreligious and atheistical, that they did not pay their first fruits unto God; (which the light of nature taught the Pagans to do!) and, says he, they were by a sudden desolation so strangely destroyed, that there were no remainders either of the persons, or of the houses, to be seen any more. Ah, my young folks, there are few first-fruits paid unto the Lord Jesus Christ among you. From hence it comes to pass, that the consuming wrath of God is every day upon you. New-England has been like a tottering house, the very foundations of it have been shaking; but the house thus oversetting by the whirlwinds of the wrath of God, hath been like Job’s house: “It falls upon the young men, and they are dead!” The disasters on our young folks have been so multiplied, that there are few parents among us but what will go with wounded hearts down unto their graves: their daily moans are, “Ah, my son, cut off in his youth! My son, my son!” Behold then the help that we are to ask of our God; and why do we, with no more days of prayer with fasting, ask it? “Lord, help the young people of Boston to remember thee in the days of their youth, and satisfy unto the survivors the terrible things that have come upon so many of that generation.”
And now as Joshua, having reasoned with his people a little before he died, in Josh. xxiv. 26, 27, “took a great stone, and set it up, and said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God;” thus we have been this day setting up a
[From the General Introduction to the “Magnalia Christi Americana.” 1702.]
I relate the considerable matters that produced and attended the first settlement of colonies, which have been renowned for the degree of reformation, professed and attained by evangelical churches, erected in those ends of the earth: and a field being thus prepared, I proceed unto a relation of the considerable matters which have been acted thereupon.
I first introduce the actors that have, in a more exemplary manner, served those colonies; and give remarkable occurrences, in the exemplary lives of many magistrates, and of more ministers, who so lived, as to leave unto posterity examples worthy of everlasting remembrance.
I add hereunto the notables of the only Protestant University, that even shone in that hemisphere of the New World; with particular instances of Criolians, in our biography, provoking the whole world with virtuous objects of emulation.
I introduce, then, the actions of a more eminent importance that have signalized those colonies: whether the establishments, directed by their synods, with a rich variety of synodical and ecclesiastical determinations; or, the disturbances, with which they have been from all sorts of temptations and enemies tempestuated; and the methods by which they have still weathered out each horrible tempest.
And into the midst of these actions, I interpose an entire book, wherein there is, with all possible veracity, a collection made of memorable occurrences; and amazing judgments and mercies, befalling many particular persons among the people of New England.
Let my readers expect all that I have promised them, in this bill of fare; and it may be that they will find themselves entertained with yet many other passages, above and beyond their expectations, deserving likewise a room in history: in all which, there will be nothing but the author’s too mean way of preparing so great entertainments, to reproach the invitation.
[From the Same, Book I.]
[From the Same. The Life of Sir Wm. Phips.]
To relate all the dangers through which he passed, both by sea and land, and all the tiresome trials of his patience, as well as of his courage, while year after year the most vexing accidents imaginable delayed the success of his design, it would even tire the patience of the reader; for very great was the experiment that Captain Phips made of the Italian observation, “He that cannot suffer both good and evil, will never come to any great preferment.” Wherefore I shall supersede all journal of his voyages to and fro, with reciting one incident of his conduct, that showed him to be a person of no contemptible capacity. While he was captain of the Algier-Rose, his men growing weary of their unsuccessful enterprise, made a mutiny, wherein they approached him on the quarter-deck, with drawn swords in their hands, and required him to join with them in running away with the ship, to drive a trade of piracy on the South Seas. Captain Phips, though he had not so much of a weapon as an ox-goad, or a jaw-bone in his hands, yet, like another Shamgar or Samson, with a most undaunted fortitude, he rushed in upon them, and with the blows of his bare hands felled many of them, and quelled all the rest.
But this is not the instance which I intended; that which I intend is, that (as it has been related unto me) one day while his frigate lay careening, at a desolate Spanish island, by the side of a rock, from whence they had laid a bridge to the shore, the men, whereof he had about an hundred, went all but about eight or ten to divert themselves, as they pretended, in the woods; where they all entered into an agreement, which they signed in a ring, that about seven o’clock that evening they would seize the captain, and those eight or ten which they knew to be true unto him, and leave them to perish on this island, and so be gone away unto the South Sea to seek their fortune. Will the reader now imagine that Captain Phips, having advice of this plot but about an hour and a half before it was to be put in execution, yet within two hours brought all these rogues down upon their knees to beg for their lives? But so it was! for these knaves considering that they should want a carpenter with them in their villainous expedition, sent a messenger to fetch unto them the carpenter, who was then at work upon the vessel; and unto him they shewed their articles; telling him what he must look for if he did not subscribe among them. The carpenter, being an honest fellow, did with much importunity prevail for one half hour’s time to consider of the matter; and returning to work upon the vessel, with a spy by them set upon him, he feigned himself taken with a fit. of the cholic, for the relief whereof he suddenly run unto the captain in the great cabin for a dram; where, when he came, his business was only, in brief, to tell the captain of the horrible distress which he was fallen into; but the captain bid him as briefly return to the rogues in the woods, and sign their articles, and leave him to provide for the rest. The carpenter was no sooner gone but Captain Phips, calling together the few friends (it may be seven or eight) that were left him aboard, whereof the gunner was one, demanded of them, whether they would stand by him in the extremity which he informed them was now come upon him; whereto they replied, “They would stand by him, if he could save them;” and he answered, “By the help of God he did not fear it.” All their provisions had been carried ashore to a tent, made for that purpose there; about which they had placed several great guns to defend it, in case of any assault from Spaniards, that might happen to come that way. Wherefore Captain Phips immediately ordered those guns to be silently drawn and turned; and so pulling up the bridge, he charged his great guns aboard, and brought them to bear on every side of the tent. By this time the army of rebels comes out of the woods; but as they drew near to the tent of provisions, they saw such a change of circumstances, that they cried out, “We are betrayed!” And they were soon confirmed in it, when they heard the captain with a stern fury call to them, “Stand off, ye wretches, at your peril!” He quickly saw them cast into a more than ordinary confusion, when they saw him ready to fire his great guns upon them, it they offered one step further than he permitted them; and when he had signified unto them his resolve to abandon them unto all the desolation which they had purposed for him, he caused the bridge to be again laid, and his men begun to take the provisions aboard. When the wretches beheld what was coming upon them, they fell to very humble entreaties; and at last fell down upon their knees, protesting, “That they never had anything against him, except only his unwillingness to go away with the king’s ship upon the South-Sea design; but upon all other accounts they would choose rather to live and die with him than with any man in the world. However, since they saw how much he was dissatisfied at it, they would insist upon it no more, and humbly begged his pardon.” And when he judged that he had kept them on their knees long enough, he having first secured their arms, received them aboard; but he immediately weighed anchor, and arriving at Jamaica, he turned them off.
[From the Same.]
So proper was his behaviour, that the best noblemen in the kingdom now admitted him into their conversation; but yet he was opposed by powerful enemies, that clogged his affairs with such demurrages, and such disappointments, as would have wholly discouraged his designs, if his patience had not been invincible. “He who can wait hath what he desireth.” Thus his indefatigable patience, with a proportionable diligence, at length overcame the difficulties that had been thrown in his way; and prevailing with the Duke of Albemarle, and some other persons of quality, to fit him out, he set sail for the fishing-ground, which had been so well baited half an hundred years before; and as he had already discovered his capacity for business in many considerable actions, he now added unto those discoveries, by not only providing all, but also by inventing many of the instruments necessary to the prosecution of his intended fishery. Captain Phips arriving with a ship and a tender at Port de la Plata, made a stout canoe of a stately cotton-tree, so large as to carry eight or ten oars, for the making of which periaga (as they call it) he did, with the same industry that he did every thing else, employ his own hand and adse, and endure no little hardship, lying abroad in the woods many nights together. This periaga, with the tender, being anchored at a place convenient, the periaga kept busking to and again, but could only discover a reef of rising shoals thereabouts, called “The Boilers,”—which, rising to be within two or three foot of the surface of the sea, were yet so steep, that a ship striking on them would immediately sink down, who could say how many fathom, into the ocean? Here they could get no other pay for their long peeping among the boilers, but only such as caused them to think upon returning to their captain with the bad news of their total disappointment. Nevertheless, as they were upon the return, one of the men, looking over the side of the periaga, into the calm water, he spied a sea feather, growing, as he judged, out of a rock; whereupon they bade one of their Indians to dive, and fetch this feather, that they might, however, carry home something with them, and make, at least, as fair a triumph as Caligula’s. The diver bringing up the feather, brought therewithal a surprising story, that he perceived a number of great guns in the watery world where he had found his feather; the report of which great guns exceedingly astonished the whole company; and at once turned their despondencies for their ill success into assurances that they had now lit upon the true spot of ground which they had been looking for; and they were further confirmed in these assurances, when, upon further diving, the Indian fetched up a sow, as they styled it, or a lump of silver worth perhaps two or three hundred pounds. Upon this they prudently buoyed the place, that they might readily find it again; and they went back unto their captain, whom for some while they distressed with nothing but such bad news as they formerly thought they must have carried him. Nevertheless, they so slipt in the sow of silver on one side under the table, where they were now sitting with the captain, and hearing him express his resolutions to wait still patiently upon the providence of God under these disappointments, that when he should look on one side, he might see that odd thing before him. At last he saw it; seeing it, he cried out with some agony, “Why! what is this? whence comes this?” And then, with changed countenances, they told him how and where they got it. “Then,” said he, “thanks be to God! we are made;” and so away they went, all hands to work; wherein they had this one further piece of remarkable prosperity, that whereas if they had first fallen upon that part of the Spanish wreck where the pieces of eight had been stowed in bags among the ballast, they had seen a more laborious, and less enriching time of it; now, most happily, they first fell upon that room in the wreck where the bullion had been stored up; and they so prospered in this new fishery, that in a little while they had, without the loss of any man’s life, brought up thirty-two tuns of silver; for it was now come to measuring of silver by tuns. Besides which, one Adderly, of Providence, who had formerly been very helpful to Captain Phips in the search of this wreck, did, upon former agreement, meet him now with a little vessel here; and he, with his few hands, took up about six tuns of silver; whereof, nevertheless, he made so little use, that in a year or two he died at Bermudas, and, as I have heard, he ran distracted some while before he died.
Thus did there once again come into the light of the sun a treasure which had been half an hundred years groaning under the waters; and in this time there was grown upon the plate a crust like limestone, to the thickness of several inches; which crust being broken open by iron contrived for that purpose, they knocked out whole bushels of rusty pieces of eight which were grown thereinto. Besides that incredible treasure of plate in various forms, thus fetched up, from seven or eight fathom under water, there were vast riches of gold, and pearls and jewels, which they also lit upon; and, indeed, for a more comprehensive invoice, I must but summarily say, “All that a Spanish frigate uses to be enriched withal.” Thus did they continue fishing till, their provisions failing them, ’twas time to be gone; but before they went, Captain Phips caused Adderly and his folk to swear that they would none of them discover the place of the wreck, or come to the place any more till the next year, when he expected again to be there himself. And it was also remarkable that though the sows came up still so fast, that on the very last day of their being there they took up twenty, yet it was afterwards found that they had in a manner wholly cleared that room of the ship where those massy things were stowed.
But there was one extraordinary distress which Captain Phips now found himself plunged into; for his men were come out with him upon seamen’s wages, at so much per month; and when they saw such vast litters of silver sows and pigs, as they called them, come on board them at the captain’s call, they knew not how to bear it, that they should not share all among themselves, and be gone to lead “a short life and a merry,” in a climate where the arrest of those that had hired them should not reach them. In this terrible distress he made his vows unto Almighty God, that if the Lord would carry him safe home to England, with what he had now given him, “to suck of the abundance of the seas, and of the treasures hid in the sands,” he would forever devote himself unto the interests of the Lord Jesus Christ and of his people, especially in the country which he did himself originally belong unto. And he then used all the obliging arts imaginable to make his men true unto him, especially by assuring them that, besides their wages, they should have ample requitals made unto them; which if the rest of his employers would not agree unto, he would himself distribute his own share among them. Relying upon the word of one whom they had ever found worthy of their love, and of their trust, they declared themselves content; but still keeping a most careful eye upon them, he hastened back for England with as much money as he thought he could then safely trust his vessel withal; not counting it safe to supply himself with necessary provisions at any nearer port, and so return unto the wreck, by which delays he wisely feared lest all might be lost, more ways than one. Though he also left so much behind him, that many from divers parts made very considerable voyages of gleanings after his harvest; which came to pass by certain Bermudians compelling of Adderly’s boy, whom they spirited away with them to tell them the exact place where the wreck was to be found.
[From the Same.]
[From the Same.]
This acknowledging disposition in the governor made them all acknowledge, that he was truly “a man of an excellent spirit.” In fine, the victories of an Alexander, an Hannibal, or a Cæsar over other men, were not so glorious as the victories of this great man over himself, which also at last proved victories over other men.
§ 9. But the stormiest of all the trials that ever befell this gentleman, was in the year 1645, when he was, in title, no more than Deputy-governor of the colony. If the famous Cato were forty-four times called into judgment, but as often acquitted; let it not be wondred, and if famous Winthrop were one time so. There happening certain seditious and mutinous practices in the town of Hingham, the Deputy-governor, as legally as prudently, interposed his authority for the checking of them: whereupon there followed such an enchantment upon the minds of the deputies in the General Court, that upon a scandalous petition of the delinquents unto them, wherein a pretended invasion made upon the liberties of the people was complained of, the Deputy-governor was most irregularly called forth unto an ignominious hearing before them in a vast assembly; whereto with a sagacious humilitude he consented, although he shewed them how he might have refused it. The result of that hearing was, that notwithstanding the touchy jealousy of the people about their liberties lay at the bottom of all this prosecution, yet Mr. Winthrop was publicly acquitted, and the offenders were severally fined and censured. But Mr. Winthrop then resuming the place of Deputy-governor on the bench, saw cause to speak unto the root of the matter after this manner:… [See Vol. I., p. 106.]
[From “Essays to do Good,” 1710. Section
The rules observed by some A
1. It is proposed, That about twelve families agree to meet (the men and their wives) at each other’s houses in rotation, once in a fortnight or a month, as shall be thought most proper, and spend a suitable time together in religious exercises.
2. The exercises of religion proper for such a meeting are: for the brethren in rotation to commence and conclude with prayer; for psalms to be sung; and for sermons to be repeated.
6. The members of such a society should consider themselves as bound up in one “bundle of love”; and count themselves obliged, by very close and strong bonds to be serviceable to one another. If any one in the society should fall into affliction all the rest should presently study to relieve and support the afflicted person in every possible manner. If any one should fall into temptation, the rest should watch over him, and, with the “spirit of meekness,” with “meekness of wisdom,” endeavor to recover him. It should be like a law of the Medes and Persians to the whole society—that they will upon all just occasions, affectionately give, and as affectionately receive mutual admonitions of anything that they may see amiss in each other.
7. It is not easy to reckon the good offices which such a society may do to many others besides its own members … yea, all the land may be the better for them.
[From the Same. Section
[From “Memoirs of Remarkables in the Life and the Death of the Ever-memorable Dr. Increase Mather,” 1724. Article
1. His purpose and manner of life, is exactly described, in a book about holiness, which was written by him, twenty years before he died. In that book he offers admirable rules for growth towards a perfection of holiness, in the fear of God: Which he introduces with saying, I shall not set before you directions impossible to be followed, or heavy burdens which I would be loth myself to touch. No, we saw his rules livelily exemplified. But his daily course may be enquired after. Besides his patient continuance in that stroke of well-doing, which lay in his course of setting apart whole days for the religion of the closet, and which he continued until the last year of his life was coming on: His daily course was this: And what a grateful spectacle to angels in it!
In the morning repairing to his study, (where his custom was to sit up very late, even until midnight, and perhaps after it) he deliberately read a chapter, and made a prayer, and then plied what of reading and writing he had before him. At nine o’clock he came down, and read a chapter and made a prayer, with his family. He then returned unto the work of the study. Coming down to dinner, he quickly went up again, and begun the afternoon with another prayer. There he went on with the work of the study till the evening. Then with another prayer he again went unto his Father; after which he did more at the work of the study. At nine o’clock he came down to his family sacrifices. Then he went up again to the work of the study, which anon he concluded with another prayer; And so he betook himself unto his repose.
In the prayers of the day, what there fell short of the number, in the hundred and sixty fourth verse of the hundred and nineteenth psalm, was doubtless made up with numberless ejaculations—Of such ejaculatory prayers, no doubt, is to be understood, what antiquity reports of the apostle Bartholomew, That he prayed one hundred times in a day; and of one Paulus, That he did it three hundred times. I can’t say, That this our Eusebius had so many ejaculatory prayers as these come to; But he was the happy man, that had his quiver full of them!
He commonly spent sixteen hours of the four and twenty in his laborious hive! Being very much of Thomas à Kempis his mind, Nusquam requiem invenio nisi in libro et in claustro. He was there, some thought, even to a fault. More of his pastoral visits were wished for.
[From the Same.]
He grows old, yet what a green olive-tree in the proseucha of his God!—nec tarda senectus debilitat vires animi, mutatve vigorem.
Old age came on. But what an one! How bright! How wise! How strong! And in what an uncommon measure serviceable! He had been an old man while he was yet a young man; I can quote a Rabbi for it: Sapiens appellatur senex, etiamsi diebus sit exiguus. And now he was an old man his public performances had a vigor in them, which ’tis a rare thing to see a young man have any thing equal to.
How did the good people far and near discover even a growth of their appetite for the enjoyment of as much as might be obtained from him! The churches would not permit an ordination to be carried on without him as long as he was able to travel in a coach unto them.
And on the day of his attaining to fourscore he preached a sermon full of light and life on those words, Ezek. xvi. 5, “The day when thou wast born.” They that wrote after him have printed it. The mens et ratio et consilium which are by Cicero mentioned as the prerogatives of “Old Age,” were found in him to an uncommon degree. On very many accounts he might have said, as old Georgias did, Nihil habeo propter quod senectutem meam accusem; yea, as a better man, old Drusius did, Senectus mihi melior quam ipsa juventus. But that which most of all gave him a comfortable old age, was what Calvin, who did not live to old age, well pitches on as the chiefest comfort of old age: Tenendum est, præcipuam partem bonæ senectutis, in bona conscientia animoque; sereno ac tranquillo consistere. A good heart, filled with the love and peace of God and the soul of an Abraham.
In consideration of this [Greek], it was not amiss for a grandson, upon the birthday on which he entered fourscore, thus to compliment him.
And now, he that had wished for “sufferings for the Lord,” must be content with sufferings from the Lord. Even these borne with the faith and patience of the saints have a sort of martyrdom in them, and will add unto the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
On September 25th, he did with an excellent and pathetic prayer, in a mighty auditory, conclude a “day of prayer” kept by his church, to obtain a good success of the Gospel and the growth of real and vital piety, with plentiful effusions of the good Spirit, especially upon the “Rising Generation.” Within two days after this he fell into an apoplectic sort of deliquium (very much occasioned, as it was thought, by too extreme a concern of his mind on some late occurrences at New Haven), out of which he recovered in a few minutes; but it so enfeebled him, that he never went abroad any more.
However, his “wisdom yet remained with him.”