Trent and Wells, eds. Colonial Prose and Poetry. 1901.
Vol. II. The Beginnings of Americanism: 16501710
SAMUEL SEWALL, whose Diary has done more than any other book to make the intimate life of New England, toward the close of the seventeenth and in the early decades of the eighteenth century, familiar to modern readers, was born in Bishopstoke, England, in 1652 and died in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1730. He was brought to New England in youth, entered Harvard at fifteen, took his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in due course, studied Divinity and had entered on the ministry, when his marriage in 1677 diverted him from this career and turned him to public life, in which his father-in-law, John Hull, held offices of trust and distinction. He first took charge of the Colonial Printing Press, but in 1684 was chosen Assistant Governor, and in 1688 spent a year in England. On his return he was again chosen Assistant Governor, and in 1692 Member of the Council and Judge of the Probate Court. This brought him into prominence in the Salem Witchcraft Trials, into which he entered with conscientious zeal for the fulfilment of duty, but soon after, having convinced himself of error, was the only one of the judges implicated in that affair who confessed publicly his mistake in what was then called a “Bill,” read before the congregation of the Old South Church by the minister in January of 1697, Sewall himself remaining standing in his pew during the reading. Till the end of his life, for thirty-one years, he set apart annually a day of fasting, meditation, and prayer in token of his offence, and it seems to have had a permanent effect upon his character. In 1699 the English Society for the Propagation of the Gospel made him a Commissioner and afterward their Secretary and Treasurer for New England. In 1700 he issued what seems to be the first American anti-slavery tract The Selling of Joseph, and this was but indicative of a sympathy with the oppressed that characterized a benevolent and charitable career. For ten years, from 1718 to 1728, he was Chief Justice of Massachusetts. During his lifetime he published only four small treatises, The Selling of Joseph, The Accomplishment of Prophecies, in 1713; a Memorial relating to the Kennebec Indians, in 1721, and a Description of the New Heaven (1727). Eclipsing all these in importance and interest are the Diary, and the Letters published by the Mass. Hist. Soc. (1878–1882). They exhibit a man of high ability and sterling character, certainly one of the most remarkable men of his generation in New England, and they show also the political, civil, and social life of the times, as only the minute diary of a man of judicious temper and the widest social and civic opportunity could do.
Of Sewall’s character the Boston Weekly Newsletter of January 8th, 1730, said: “He was universally and greatly reverenced, esteemed, and beloved amongst us for his eminent piety, learning, and wisdom; his grave and venerable aspect and carriage; his instructive, affable, and cheerful conversation; his strict integrity and regard to justice; his extraordinary tender and compassionate heart; his neglect of the world; his abundant liberality; his catholic and public spirit; his critical acquaintance with the Scriptures in their inspired originals; his zeal for the purity of instituted worship; his constant, diligent, and reverent attendance in it, both in the church and family; his love for the churches, people, and ministers, the civil and religious interest of this country; his tender concern for the aboriginal natives; and as the crown of all, his moderation, peaceableness, and humility; which, being all united in the same person, and in an high degree and station, rendered him one of the most shining lights and honors of the age and land wherein he lived, and worthy of a very distinguished regard in the New English Histories.”—(Sewall Papers, Vol. III. p. 410.)
From the Diary of Samuel Sewall.
DISCIPLINE AT HARVARD COLLEGE.
MONDAY, June 15, 1674….Thomas Sargeant was examined by the Corporation: finally, the advice of Mr. Danforth, Mr. Stoughton, Mr. Thatcher, Mr. Mather (then present) was taken. This was his sentence.
That being convicted of speaking blasphemous words concerning the H. G. he should be therefore publicly whipped before all the Scholars. 2. That he should be suspended as to taking his degree of Bachelor (this sentence read before him twice at the Prts. before this committee, and in the library 1 up before execution.) 3. Sit alone by himself in the Hall uncovered at meals, during the pleasure of the President and Fellows, and be in all things obedient, doing what exercise was appointed him by the President, or else be finally expelled from the College. The first was presently put in execution in the Library (Mr. Danforth Jr. being present) before the Scholars. He kneeled down and the instrument Goodman Hely attended the President’s word as to the performance of his part in the work. Prayer was had before and after by the President. July 1, 1674. Sir Thatcher commonplaced, Justification was his head. He had a good solid piece: stood above an hour and yet brake off before he came to any use. By reason that there was no warning given, none (after the undergraduates) were present, save Mr. Dan Gookin, Sr., the President and myself. July 3, 1674. N.B. Mr. Gookin, Jr., was gone a fishing with his brothers.
April 4, 1675, Sab. day. I holp preach for my Master (Mr. Parker) in the afternoon. Being afraid to look on the glass, ignorantly and unwillingly I stood two hours and a half.
THE PANGS OF DESPISED LOVE.
Saturday Even. Aug. 12, 1676, just as prayer ended Tim. Dwight sank down in a swoon, and for a good space was as if he perceived not what was done to him: after, kicked and sprawled, knocking his hands and feet upon the floor like a distracted man. Was carried pickpack to bed by John Alcock, there his clothes pulled off. In the night it seems he talked of ships, his master, father and uncle Eliot. The Sabbath following Father went to him, spake to him to know what ailed him, asked if he would be prayed for, and for what he would desire his friends to pray. He answered, for more sight of sin, and God’s healing grace. I asked him, being alone with him, whether his troubles were from some outward cause or spiritual. He answered, spiritual. I asked him why then he could not tell it his master, as well as any other, since it is the honor of any man to see sin and be sorry for it. He gave no answer, as I remember. Asked him if he would go to meeting. He said, ’twas in vain for him; his day was out. I asked, what day; he answered, of Grace. I told him ’twas sin for any one to conclude themselves reprobate, that this was all one. He said he would speak more, but could not, &c. Notwithstanding all this semblance (and much more than is written) of compunction for sin, ’tis to be feared that his trouble arose from a maid whom he passionately loved: for that when Mr. Dwight and his master had agreed to let him go to her, he eftsoons grew well.
SPIRITUAL LESSONS IN CHICKEN FOOD.
Jan. 13, 1676/7.Giving my chickens meat, it came to my mind that I gave them nothing save Indian corn and water, and yet they eat it and thrived very well, and that that food was necessary for them, how mean soever, which much affected me and convinced what need I stood in of spiritual food, and that I should not nauseate daily duties of prayer, &c.
REGULATIONS OF THE SOUTH WATCH COMPANY OF BOSTON.
(1679).For the better inspection of the several Watches and the four several Guards in this Town of Boston. It is ordered, agreed and concluded by the Committee of Militia for the said Town, that the eight Foot Companies by their Commission Officers and Sergeants (being seven in each company) or for want thereof, or by reason of any other hindrance, a sufficient supply be made at the discretion of the rest of the Officers of said Company: Also the Officers of the Troop that live in the Town (eight) or for want thereof to be supplied of their troopers, as abovesaid: which said sixty four men shall each in their respective turn as hereafter mentioned take unto them one or two more that live in the Precincts of their own Company who shall walk every night (in their several turn) throughout the Town in every Quarter, and shall take inspection of the several Guards and Watches, how they are managed, and give such directions as to them shall seem meet for the better discharge of their duty according to law. Taking the care and charge of all the Watches in the Town in their respective nights; Who shall march with an half pike with a fair head, by which he may be known to the Commander of the Watch and in the morning leave the same with him whose turn is next, which shall be accounted a sufficient warning or notice to the next Commander to take his turn.
HOW THEY KEPT CHRISTMAS DAY.
Dec. 25. Friday, 1685.Carts come to Town and shops open as is usual. Some somehow observe the day; but are vexed I believe that the body of the people profane it, and blessed be God no authority yet to compell them to keep it. A great snow fell last night so this day and night very cold.
PURITAN HOSTILITY TO ANGLICAN WORSHIP.
Saturday, June 23, 1688.Capt. Frary and I go to his Excellency at the Secretaries, Office, and there desired that he would not alter his time of meeting, and that Mr. Willard consented to no such thing, neither did he count that ’twas in his power so to do. Mr. West said he went not to ask Mr. Willard leave. His Excellency asked who the house [the Old South Meeting House] belong’d to; we told Him the title to the House was on record. His Excellency turned to Mr. Graham and said Mr. Attorney we will have that look’d into. Governor said if Mr. Willard not the Parson, so great an Assembly must be considered. We said he was master of the Assembly, but had no power to dispose of the House, neither had others, for the deed expressed the use ’twas to be put to. Governor complain’d of our long staying Sabbath-day sennight; said ’twas the Lord’s Supper, and (he) had promised to go to some other House on such days; Mr. Randolph said he knew of no such promise, and the Governor seemed angry and said he would not so break his word for all the Massachusetts Colony, and therefore, to avoid mistakes, must give in writing what we had to say; we answered Mr. Randolph brought not any writing to those he spake to. Governor said we rent off from the old Church against the Government, and the land the House stood on was bought clandestinely, and that one should say he would defend the work with his Company of soldiers. Mention’d folks backwardness to give, and the unreasonableness; because if any stinking filthy thing were in the House we would give something to have it carried out, but would not give to build them an house: Said came from England to avoid such and such things, therefore could not give to set them up here: and the Bishops would have thought strange to have been asked to contribute towards setting up the New-England Churches. Governor said God willing they would begin at eight in the Morning and have done by nine: we said ’twould hardly be so in winter. Mr. Graham said if they had their service by candle-light what was that to any: And that the service appointed by the Church for morning could not be held after noon.
Sabbath, June 24.We read and sing in course the 57th Psal. Aitaschith. They (the Church of England congregation) have done before nine in the morn, and about a quarter after one in the afternoon; so we have very convenient time.
July 1.Governor takes his old time again after our coming out, and Sir William Phips’ chaplain preaches. We were a little hurried and disappointed in the morning the Bell ringing about quarter before nine.
DOMESTIC AMENITIES AND A CATASTROPHE.
Tuesday, Jan. 12, 1691/2….This night (blank) Hamlen, formerly Plats, before that, Crabtree, a middle-aged woman, through some displeasure at her son, whom she beat, sat not down to supper with her husband and a stranger at table; when they had done, she took away, and in the room where she set it, took a piece of grisly meat of a shoulder of mutton into her mouth, which got into the top of the larynx and stopt it fast, so she was presently choked. Tho. Pemberton and others found it so when they opened her throat. She gave a stamp with her foot and put her finger in her mouth: but Pemberton not at home, and died immediately. What need have all to acknowledge God in whose hand their breath is, &c.
COMFORT IN TRIBULATION.
Saturday, Feb. 27, 1691/2.Between 4. and 5. mane, we are startled at the roaring of a beast, which I conjectur’d to be an ox broken loose from a butcher, running along the street, but proved to be our own Cow bitten by a dog, so that were forc’d to kill her; though calved but Jan. 4th and gives plenty of milk. Happy are they, who have God for their Spring and Breast of Supplies. Exceeding high wind this day at North East.
NOTES ON THE WITCHCRAFT PERSECUTION.
April 11th, 1692.Went to Salem, where, in the Meeting-house, the persons accused of Witchcraft were examined; was a very great Assembly; ’twas awful to see how the afflicted persons were agitated. Mr. Noyes pray’d at the beginning, and Mr. Higginson concluded. (In the margin) Væ, Væ, Væ, Witchcraft.
Augt. 19th, 1692….This day (in the margin, Doleful Witchcraft) George Burrough, John Willard, Jno. Procter, Martha Carrier, and George Jacobs were executed at Salem, a very great number of spectators being present. Mr. Cotton Mather was there, Mr. Sims, Hale, Noyes, Chiever &c. All of them said they were innocent, Carrier and all. Mr. Mather said they all died by a righteous sentence. Mr. Burrough by his speech, prayer, protestation of his innocence, did much move unthinking persons, which occasions their speaking hardly concerning his being executed.
Monday, Sept. 19, 1692.About noon, at Salem, Giles Corey was press’d to death for standing mute; much pains were used with him two days, one after another, by the Court and Capt. Gardner of Nantucket who had been of his acquaintance; but all in vain.
Sept. 20.Now I hear from Salem that about 18 years ago, he was suspected to have stamped and press’d a man to death, but was cleared. ’Twas not remembered till Anne Putnam was told of it by Corey’s spectre the Sabbath-day night before the execution.
Sept. 21, 1692.A petition is sent to Town in behalf of Dorcas Hoar who now confesses: Accordingly an order is sent to the Sheriff to forbear her execution, notwithstanding her being in the warrant to die to-morrow. This is the first condemned person who has confess’d.
1696/7.(Petition put up by Mr. Sewall on the Fast Day.)
Copy of the Bill I put up on the Fast day; giving it to Mr. Willard as he pass’d by, and standing up at the reading of it, and bowing when finished; in the Afternoon.
Samuel Sewall, sensible of the reiterated strokes of God upon himself and family; and being sensible, that as to the guilt contracted upon the opening of the late Commission of Oyer and Terminer at Salem (to which the order for this Day relates), he is, upon many accounts, more concerned than any that he knows of, Desires to take the blame and shame of it, Asking pardon of men, And especially desiring prayers that God, who has an unlimited authority, would pardon that sin and all other sins; personal and relative; And, according to his infinite benignity and sovereignty, not visit the sin of him, or of any other, upon himself or any of his, nor upon the land: But that He would powerfully defend him against all temptations to sin, for the future; and vouchsafe him the efficacious, saving conduct of his Word and Spirit.
YOUNG JOSEPH AND THE OLD ADAM.
Nov. 6, 1692.Joseph threw a knop of brass and hit his Sister Betty on the forehead so as to make it bleed and swell; upon which, and for his playing at Prayer-time, and eating when Return Thanks, I whipped him pretty smartly. When I first went in (called by his Grandmother) he sought to shadow and hide himself from me behind the head of the cradle: which gave me the sorrowful remembrance of Adam’s carriage.
A CRITIC CRITICISED.
Sept. 10, 1696.Letter. Mrs. Martha Oakes. Not finding opportunity to speak with you at your house, nor at my own, I write to persuade you to be sensible that your striking your daughter-in-law before me, in my house, is not justifiable: though ’twas but a small blow, ’twas not a small fault: especially considering your promise to refrain from speech itself; or at least any that might give disturbance. As for New England, it is a cleaner country than ever you were in before, and, therefore, with disdain to term it filthy is a sort of blasphemy, which, by proceeding out of your mouth, hath defiled you. I write not this to upbraid, but to admonish you, with whom I sympathize under your extraordinary provocations and pressures; and pray God command you freedom from them.S. S.
NIGHT THOUGHTS OF HARVARD.
Jan. 26, 1696/7.I lodged at Charlestown at Mrs. Shepard’s, who tells me Mr. Harvard built that house. I lay in the chamber next the street. As I lay awake past midnight, in my meditation, I was affected to consider how long ago God had made provision for my comfortable lodging that night; seeing that was Mr. Harvard’s house: And that led me to think of Heaven the House not made with hands, which God for many thousands of years has been storing with the richest furniture (saints that are from time to time placed there), and that I had some hopes of being entertained in that magnificent convenient Palace, every way fitted and furnished. These thoughts were very refreshing to me.
THOUGHTS ON SLAVERY.
Fourth-day, June 19, 1700….Having been long and much dissatisfied with the trade of fetching Negroes from Guinea; at last I had a strong inclination to write something about it; but it wore off. At last reading Bayne, Ephes. about servants, who mentions Blackamoors; I began to be uneasy that I had so long neglected doing anything. When I was thus thinking, in came Bro. Belknap to show me a petition he intended to present to Genl Court for the freeing of a Negro and his wife, who were unjustly held in bondage. And there is a motion by a Boston Committee to get a law that all importers of Negroes shall pay 40s per head, to discourage the bringing of them. And Mr. C. Mather resolves to publish a sheet to exhort masters to labor their conversion. Which makes me hope that I was called of God to write this apology for them. Let his blessing accompany the same.
SPEECH AT HIS MOTHER’S GRAVE.
Jany. 4th, 1700/1….Went abt. 4 P.M. Nathanl Bricket taking in hand to fill the grave, I said, Forbear a little, and suffer me to say that amidst our bereaving sorrows we have the comfort of beholding this saint put into the rightful possession of that happiness of living desir’d and dying lamented. She liv’d commendably four and fifty years with her dear husband, and my dear father: And she could not well brook the being divided from him at her death; which is the cause of our taking leave of her in this place. She was a true and constant lover of God’s Word, worship and saints: And she always, with a patient cheerfulness, submitted to the divine decree of providing bread for her self and others in the sweat of her brows. And now her infinitely gracious and bountiful Master has promoted her to the honor of higher employments, fully and absolutely discharged from all manner of toil and sweat. My honored and beloved Friends and Neighbors! My dear mother never thought much of doing the most frequent and homely offices of love for me: and lavished away many thousands of words upon me, before I could return one word in answer: And therefore I ask and hope that none will be offended that I have now ventured to speak one word in her behalf; when she herself has become speechless. Made a motion with my hand for the filling of the grave. Note. I could hardly speak for passion and tears.
JUDGE SEWALL ELECTED CAPTAIN OF THE ARTILLERY COMPANY.
Monday, June 2, 1701.Mr. Pemberton preaches the Artillery Sermon from Luke, 3–14. Dine at Monk’s. Because of the rain and mist, this day, the election is made upon the Town-house, Sewall, Capt.: Tho. Hutchinson, Lieut.; Tho. Savage, junr, Ensign.; Tho. Fitch. 1 Sergt.; Oliver Noyes 2: Hab. Savage 3; Charles Chauncy 4. Called down the Council out of the Chamber, set their chairs below; Col. Pynchon gave the Staves and Ensign. I said was surprised to see they had mistaken a sorry pruning hook for a military spear; but paid such a deference to the Company that would rather run the venture of exposing my own inability than give any occasion to suspect I slighted their call. To Sergt Fitch, Doubted not but if I could give any thing tolerable words of command, he would mend them in a vigorous and speedy performance: was glad of so good a hand to me and the Company (Mr. Noyes abroad in the Gally). To Hab S[avage], The savages are soldiers ex traduce; in imitation of his honored father, uncle and grandfather, hoped for worthy performance from him. To Ch. Chauncy, Had such a honor for your grandfather and father that was glad was joind with me in this relation. Drew out before Mr. Usher’s, gave 3 volleys. Drew into Townhouse again; sent Sergt Chauncy for Mr. Pemberton, who said he was glad to see the staff in my hands; pray’d with us. Had the company to my house, treated them with bread, beer, wine sillibub.—They ordered Capt. Checkly and me to thank Mr. Pemberton for his sermon, which we did on Tuesday, desiring a copy. June 4. Bror comes to Town, I treat him at Plyes: goes home.
THE CASUISTRY OF THE WIG.
Tuesday, June 10th.Having last night heard that Josiah Willard had cut off his hair (a very full head of hair) and put on a wig, I went to him this morning. Told his mother what I came about, and she called him. I inquired of him what extremity had forced him to put off his own hair, and put on a wig? He answered, none at all. But said that his hair was straight and that it parted behind. Seemed to argue that men might as well shave their hair off their head, as off their face. I answered men were men before they had hair on their faces, (half of mankind never have any). God seems to have ordained our hair as a test, to see whether we can bring our minds to be content to be at his finding: or whether we would be our own carvers, lords, and come no more at him. If disliked our skin, our nails; ’tis no thanks to us, that for all that, we cut them not off: Pain and danger restrain us. Your calling is to teach men self denial. Twill be most displeasing and burdensome to good men: And they that care not what men think of them care not what God thinks of them. Father, Bror Simon, Mr. Pemberton, Mr. Wigglesworth, Oakes, Noyes (Oliver), Brattle of Cambridge, their example. Allow me to be so far a Censor Morum for this end of the Town. Pray’d him to read the Tenth Chapter of the Third book of Calvin’s Institutions. I read it this morning in course, not of choice. Told him it was condemned by a Meeting of Ministers at Northampton in Mr. Stoddard’s house, when the said Josiah was there. Told him of the Solemnity of the Covenant which he and I had lately entered into, which put me upon discoursing to him. He seemed to say he would leave off his wig when his hair was grown. I spake to his father of it a day or two after: He thank’d me that had discoursed his son, and told me that when his hair was grown to cover his ears, he promised to leave off his wig. If he had known of it would have forbidden him. His mother heard him talk of it; but was afraid positively to forbid him; lest he should do it, and so be more faulty.
TRAINING DAY OF THE ANCIENT AND HONORABLE ARTILLERY.
Monday, Oct. 6, 1701.Very pleasant fair weather; Artillery trains in the afternoon (Sewall in command). March with the Company to the Elms; Go to prayer, March down and shoot at a mark. Mr. Cushing I think was the first that hit it, Mr. Gerrish twice, Mr. Fitch, Chauncy, and the Ensign of the Officers. By far the most missed, as I did for the first. Were much contented with the exercise. Led them to the Trees again, performed some facings and doublings. Drew them together; propounded the question about the Colours; ’twas voted very freely and fully. I informed the Company I was told the Company’s halberds &c. were borrowed; I understood the leading staff was so, and therefore asked their acceptance of a half-pike, which they very kindly did; I delivered it to Mr. Gibbs for their use.
They would needs give me a volley in token of their respect on this occasion. The pike will, I suppose, stand me in forty shillings, being headed and shod with silver: Has this motto fairly engraven:
est in tutelam Sponsae
The Lord help us to answer the profession. Were treated by the Ensign in a fair chamber. Gave a very handsome volley at Lodging the Colors. The training in Sept. was a very fair day, so was this.
A ST. GEORGE’S DAY CELEBRATION IN BOSTON.
Tuesday, Apr. 23, 1706.Govr. comes to Town guarded by the troops with their swords drawn; dines at the Dragon from thence proceeds to the Townhouse, illuminations at night. Capt. Pelham tells me several wore crosses in their hats; which makes me resolve to stay at home; (though Maxwell was at my House and spake to me to be at the Council-Chamber at 4 p. m.) Because to drinking healths, now the keeping of a day to fictitious St. George is plainly set on foot. It seems Capt. Dudley’s men wore crosses. Somebody had fastened a cross to a dog’s head; Capt. Dudley’s boatswain seeing him, struck the dog, and then went into the shop, next where the dog was, and struck down a carpenter, one Davis, as he was at work, not thinking anything: Boatswain and the other with him were fined 10s each for breach of peace, by Jer. Dummer, Esqr.: pretty much blood was shed by means of this bloody cross, and the poor dog a sufferer.
A COLONIAL WEDDING.
Octobr. 29, 1713….In the Evening Mr. Ebenezer Pemberton marries my son Joseph Sewall and Mrs. Elizabeth Walley. Wait Winthrop esqr. and Lady, Samuel Porter esqr., Edmund Quinsey esqr., Ephriam Savage esqr. and wife, Madam Usher, Mr. Mico and wife, Jer. Dummer esqr., Cousin Sam. Storke, Cous. Carter, and many more present. Sung out of the 115th Ps. 2 1/2 staves from the 11th to the end. W. which I set. Each had a piece of cake and sack-posset. Mr. Pemberton craved a blessing and returned Thanks at eating the sack-posset. Came away between 9 and 10. Daughter Sewall came in the coach with my wife, who invited her to come in and lodge here with her husband; but she refus’d, and said she had promised to go to her Sister Wainwright’s and did so.
THE LOVE AFFAIRS OF A CHIEF JUSTICE.
June 9, 1718….Mrs. D——n came in the morning about nine o’ clock and I took her up into my chamber and discoursed thoroughly with her; She desired me to provide another and better nurse. I gave her the two last News Letters—told her I intended to visit her at her own house next Lecture Day. She said ’twould be talked of. I answered: In suck cases, persons must run the gauntlet. Gave her Mr. Whiting’s Oration for Abijah Walter, who brought her on horseback to town. I think little or no notice was taken of it.
October 29, 1719.Thanksgiving Day: between 6 and 7 Brother Moody & I went to Mrs. Tilley’s, and about 7 or 8, were married by Mr. J. Sewall, in the best room below stairs. Mr. Prince prayed the second time. Mr. Adams the minister at Newington was there, Mr. Oliver and Mr. Timothy Clark, Justices, and many more. Sung the 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 verses of the 90th Psalm. Cousin S. Sewall set Low-Dutch tune in a very good key, which made the singing with a good number of voices very agreeable. Distributed cake….
Septr. 5, 1720.Mary Hirst goes to board with Madam Oliver and her Mother Loyd. Going to Son Sewall’s I there meet with Madam Winthrop, told her I was glad to meet her there, had not seen her a great while; gave her Mr. Homes’s Sermon….
7r. 30.Mr. Colman’s Lecture: Daughter Sewall acquaints Madam Winthrop that if she pleas’d to be within at 3. p. m. I would wait on her. She answer’d she would be at home.
8r. 1.Saturday, I dine at Mr. Stoddard’s: from thence I went to Madam Winthrop’s just at 3. Spake to her, saying, my loving wife died so soon and suddenly, ’twas hardly convenient for me to think of marrying again; however I came to this resolution, that I would not make my court to any person without first consulting with her. Had a pleasant discourse about 7 [seven] single persons sitting in the Fore-seat 7r. 29th, viz. Madm Rebekah Dudley, Catharine Winthrop, Bridget Usher, Deliverance Legg, Rebekah Loyd, Lydia Colman, Elizabeth Bellingham. She propounded one and another for me; but none would do, said Mrs. Loyd was about her age.
Octobr. 3.Waited on Madam Winthrop again; ’twas a little while before she came in. Her daughter Noyes being there alone with me, I said, I hoped my waiting oh her mother would not be disagreeable to her. She answer’d she should not be against that that might be for her comfort. I saluted her, and told her I perceiv’d I must shortly wish her a good time; (her mother had told me, she was with child, and within a month or two of her time). By and by in came Mr. Airs, Chaplain of the Castle, and hang’d up his hat, which I was a little startled at, it seeming as if he was to lodge there. At last Madam Winthrop came too. After a considerable time, I went up to her and said, if it might not be inconvenient I desired to speak with her. She assented, and spake of going into another room; but Mr. Airs and Mrs. Noyes presently rose up, and went out, leaving us there alone. Then I usher’d in discourse from the names in the Fore-seat; at last I pray’d that Catharine [Mrs. Winthrop] might be the person assign’d for me. She instantly took it up in the way of denial, as if she had catch’d at an opportunity to do it, saying she could not do it before she was asked. Said that was her mind unless she should change it, which she believed she should not; could not leave her children. I express’d my sorrow that she should do it so speedily, pray’d her consideration, and ask’d her when I should wait on her again. She setting on time, I mention’d that day sennight. Gave her Mr. Willard’s Fountain Open’d with the little print and verses; saying, I hop’d if we did well read that book, we should meet together hereafter, if we did not now. She took the book, and put it in her pocket. Took leave.
8r. 5.Midweek, I din’d with the Court; from thence went and visited Cousin Jonathan’s wife, lying in with her little Betty. Gave the Nurse 28. Although I had appointed to wait upon her, Mm. Winthrop, next Monday, yet I went away from my Cousin Sewall’s thither about 3. p. m. The nurse told me Madam dined abroad at her daughter Noyes’s, they were to go out together. I ask’d for the maid, who was not within. Gave Katy a penny and a kiss, and came away. Accompanied my son and daughter Cooper in their remove to their new house. Went to tell Joseph, and Mr. Belcher saw me by the South Meetinghouse though ’twas duskish, and said I had been at house-warming, (he had been at our house). Invited me to drink a glass of wine at his house at 7. and eat part of the pasty provided for the Commissioners’ voyage to Casco-Bay. His Excellency, Madam Belcher, S. S. Col. Fitch, Mr. D. Oliver, Mr. Anthony Stoddard, M. Welsteed, Mr. White, Mr. Belcher sat down. At coming home gave us of the cake and ginger-bread to carry away. ’Twas about ten before we got home; Mr. Oliver and I waited on the Governour to his gate; and then Mr. Oliver would wait on me home.
8r. 6th.Lecture-day, Mr. Cutler, President of the Connecticut College, preached in Dr. C. Mather’s turn. He made an excellent discourse from Heb. xi. 14. For they that say such things, declare plainly that they seek a country. Bror. Odlin, Son Sewall of Brooklin, and Mary Hirst dine with me. I ask’d Mary of Madam Lord, Mr. Oliver and wife, and bid her present my service to them. 8r. 6th. A little after 6. p. m. I went to Madam Winthrop’s. She was not within. I gave Sarah Chickering the maid 28., Juno, who brought in wood, 18. Afterward the nurse came in, I gave her 18d, having no other small bill. After awhile Dr. Noyes came in with his mother; and quickly after his wife came in: They sat talking, I think, till eight o’clock. I said I fear’d I might be some interruption to their business: Dr. Noyes reply’d pleasantly: He fear’d they might be an interruption to me, and went away. Madam seem’d to harp upon the same string. Must take care of her children; could not leave that house and neighbourhood where she had dwelt so long. I told her she might do her children as much or more good by bestowing what she laid out in house-keeping, upon them. Said her son would be of age the 7th of August. I said it might be inconvenient for her to dwell with her daughter-in-law, who must be mistress of the house. I gave her a piece of Mr. Belcher’s cake and ginger-bread wrapped up in a clean sheet of paper; told her of her father’s kindness to me when Treasurer, and I Constable. My daughter Judith was gone from me and I was more lonesome—might help to forward one another in our journey to Canaan.—Mr. Eyre came within the door; I saluted him, ask’d how Mr. Clark did, and he went away. I took leave about 9 o’clock. I told [her] I came now to refresh her memory as to Monday-night; said she had not forgot it. In discourse with her, I ask’d leave to speak with her sister; I meant to gain Madm Mico’s favour to persuade her sister. She seem’d surpris’d and displeas’d, and said she was in the same condition!…
In the evening I visited Madam Winthrop, who treated me with a great deal of courtesy; wine, marmalade. I gave her a News-Letter about the Thanksgiving; Proposals, for sake of the Verses for David Jeffries. She tells me Dr. Increase Mather visited her this day, in Mr. Hutchinson’s coach….
8r. 11th.I writ a few Lines to Madam Winthrop to this purpose: “Madam, These wait on you with Mr. Mayhew’s Sermon, and Account of the state of the Indians on Martha’s Vinyard. I thank you for your unmerited favours of yesterday; and hope to have the happiness of waiting on you to-morrow before eight o’clock after Noon. I pray God to keep you, and give you a joyful entrance upon the two hundred and twenty-ninth year of Christopher Columbus his Discovery; and take leave, who am, Madam, your humble Servt.S. S.”
… 8r. 12.Mrs. Anne Cotton came to door (’twas before 8.) said Madam Winthrop was within, directed me into the little room, where she was full of work behind a stand; Mrs. Cotton came in and stood. Madam Winthrop pointed to her to set me a chair. Madam Winthrop’s countenance was much changed from what ’twas on Monday, look’d dark and lowering. At last, the work, (black stuff or silk) was taken away, I got my chair in place, had some converse, but very cold and indifferent to what ’twas before. Ask’d her to acquit me of rudeness if I drew off her glove. Enquiring the reason, I told her ’twas great odds between handling a dead goat, and a living lady. Got it off. I told her I had one petition to ask of her, that was, that she would take off the negative she laid on me the third of October; She readily answer’d she could not, and enlarg’d upon it; She told me of it so soon as she could; could not leave her house, children, neighbours, business. I told her she might do some good to help and support me. Mentioning Mrs. Gookin, Nath., the widow Weld was spoken of; said I had visited Mrs. Denison. I told her Yes! Afterward I said, If after a first and second vagary she would accept of me returning, her victorious kindness and good will would be very obliging. She thank’d me for my book, (Mr. Mayhew’s Sermon), but said not a word of the letter. When she insisted on the negative, I pray’d there might be no more thunder and lightning, I should not sleep all night. I gave her Dr. Preston, The Church’s Marriage and the Church’s Carriage, which cost me 68 at the sale. The door standing open, Mr. Airs came in, hung up his hat, and sat down. After awhile, Madam Winthrop moving, he went out. Jno Eyre look’d in, I said How do ye, or, your servant Mr. Eyre: but heard no word from him. Sarah fill’d a glass of wine, she drank to me, I to her, She sent Juno home with me with a good lantern, I gave her 6d. and bid her thank her mistress. In some of our discourse, I told her I had rather go the Stone-House adjoining to her, than to come to her against her mind. Told her the reason why I came every other night was lest I should drink too deep draughts of pleasure. She had talk’d of Canary, her kisses were to me better than the best Canary. Explain’d the expression concerning Columbus.
… 8r. 17.In the evening I visited Madam Winthrop, who treated me courteously, but not in clean linen as somtimes. She said, she did not know whether I would come again, or no. I ask’d her how she could so impute inconstancy to me. (I had not visited her since Wednesday night being unable to get over the indisposition received by the treatment received that night, and I must in it seem’d to sound like a made piece of formality.) Gave her this day’s Gazette. Heard David Jeffries say the Lord’s Prayer, and some other portions of the Scriptures. He came to the door, and ask’d me to go into chamber, where his grandmother was tending little Katy, to whom she had given physic; but I chose to sit below. Dr. Noyes and his wife came in, and sat a considerable time; had been visiting son and daughter Cooper. Juno came home with me.
8r. 18.Visited Madam Mico, who came to me in a splendid dress. I said, It may be you have heard of my visiting Madam Winthrop, her sister. She answer’d, her sister had told her of it. I ask’d her good will in the affair. She answer’d, If her sister were for it, she should not hinder it. I gave her Mr. Homes’s Sermon. She gave me a glass of Canary, entertain’d me with good discourse, and a respectful remembrance of my first wife. I took leave.
8r. 19.Midweek. Visited Madam Winthrop; Sarah told me she was at Mr. Walley’s, would not come home till late. I gave her Hannah 3 oranges with her duty, not knowing whether I should find her or no. Was ready to go home: but said if I knew she was there, I would go thither. Sarah seem’d to speak with pretty good courage, She would be there. I went and found her there, with Mr. Walley and his wife in the little room below. At 7 o’clock I mentioned going home; at 8. I put on my coat, and quickly waited on her home. She found occasion to speak loud to the servant, as if she had a mind to be known. Was courteous to me; but took occasion to speak pretty earnestly about my keeping a coach: I said ’twould cost £100. per annum: she said ’twould cost but £40. Spake much against John Winthrop, his false-heartedness. Mr. Eyre came in and sat awhile; I offer’d him Dr. Incr. Mather’s Sermons, whereof Mr. Appleton’s Ordination Sermon was one; said he had them already. I said I would give him another. Exit. Came away somewhat late.
8r. 20….Madam Winthrop not being at Lecture, I went thither first; found her very serene with her daughter Noyes, Mrs. Dering, and the widow Shipreev sitting at a little table, she in her arm’d chair. She drank to me, and I to Mrs. Noyes. After awhile pray’d the favour to speak with her. She took one of the candles, and went into the best room, clos’d the shutters, sat down upon the couch. She told me Madam Usher had been there, and said the coach must be set on wheels, and not by rusting. She spake something of my needing a wig. Ask’d me what her sister said to me. I told her, She said, If her sister were for it, she would not hinder it. But I told her, she did not say she would be glad to have me for her brother. Said, I shall keep you in the cold, and asked her if she would be within to morrow night, for we had had but a running feat. She said she could not tell whether she should, or no. I took leave. As were drinking at the Governour’s, he said: In England the ladies minded little more than that they might have money, and coaches to ride in. I said, And New England brooks its name. At which Mr. Dudley smiled. Govr. said they were not quite so bad here.
8r. 21.Friday, My son, the Minister, came to me p. m. by appointment and we pray one for another in the Old Chamber; more especially respecting my courtship. About 6. o’clock I go to Madam Winthrop’s; Sarah told me her mistress was gone out, but did not tell me whither she went. She presently order’d me a fire; so I went in, having Dr. Sibb’s Bowels with me to read. I read the two first Sermons, still no body came in: at last about 9. o’clock Mr. Jno Eyre came in; I took the opportunity to say to him as I had done to Mrs. Noyes before, that I hoped my visiting his mother would not be disagreeable to him; He answered me with much respect. When ’twas about 9. o’clock he of himself said he would go and call her, she was but at one of his brothers: A while after I heard Madam Winthrop’s voice, enquiring somthing about John. After a good while and clapping the garden door twice or thrice, she came in. I mention’d something of the lateness; she banter’d me, and said I was later. She receiv’d me courteously. I ask’d when our proceedings should be made public: She said They were like to be no more public than they were already. Offer’d me no wine that I remember. I rose up at 11 o’clock to come away, saying I would put on my coat, she offer’d not to help me. I pray’d her that Juno might light me home, she open’d the shutter, and said ’twas pretty light abroad; Juno was weary and gone to bed. So I came home by star-light as well as I could….
Octobr. 24.I went in the Hackney Coach through the Common, stop’d at Madam Winthrop’s (had told her I would take my departure from thence). Sarah came to the door with Katy in her arms: but I did not think to take notice of the child. Call’d her mistress. I told her, being encourag’d by David Jeffries’ loving eyes, and sweet words, I was come to enquire whether she could find in her heart to leave that house and neighbourhood, and go and dwell with me at the South-end; I think she said softly, Not yet. I told her it did not lie in my lands to keep a coach. If I should, I should be in danger to be brought to keep company with her neighbour Brooker, (he was a little before sent to prison for debt). Told her I had an antipathy against those who would pretend to give themselves; but nothing of their estate. I would a proportion of my estate with my self. And I supposed she would do so. As to a Perriwig, My best and greatest Friend, I could not possibly have a greater, began to find me with hair before I was born, and had continued to do so ever since; and I could not find in my heart to go to another. She commended the book I gave her, Dr. Preston, the Church Marriage; quoted him saying ’twas inconvenient keeping out of a fashion commonly used. I said the time and tide did circumscribe my visit. She gave me a dram of black-cherry brandy, and gave me a lump of the Sugar that was in it. She wish’d me a good journey. I pray’d God to keep her, and came away. Had a very pleasant journey to Salem….
October 31.At night I visited Madam Winthrop about 6. p. m. They told me she was gone to Madam Mico’s. I went thither and found she was gone; so return’d to her house, read the Epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians in Mr. Eyre’s Latin Bible. After the clock struck 8. I began to read the 103. Psalm. Mr. Wendell came in from his warehouse. Ask’d me if I were alone? Spake very kindly to me, offer’d me to call Madam Winthrop. I told him, She would be angry, had been at Mrs. Mico’s; he help’d me on with my coat and I came home: left the Gazette in the Bible, which told Sarah of, bid her present my service to Mrs. Winthrop, and tell her I had been to wait on her if she had been at home.
Novr. 1.I was so taken up that I could not go if I would.
Nov. 2.Midweek, went again and found Mrs. Alden there, who quickly went out. Gave her about 1/2 pound of sugar almonds, cost 38. per £. Carried them on Monday. She seem’d pleas’d with them, ask’d what they cost. Spake of giving her a hundred pounds per annum if I died before her. Ask’d her what sum she would give me, if she should die first? Said I would give her time to consider of it. She said she heard as if I had given all to my children by deeds of gift. I told her ’twas a mistake, Point-Judith was mine &c. That in England I own’d, my father’s desire was that it should go to my eldest son; ’twas 20£ per annum; she thought ’twas forty. I think when I seem’d to excuse pressing this, she seemed to think ’twas best to speak of it; a long winter was coming on. Gave me a glass or two of Canary.
Novr. 4th.Friday, Went again, about 7. o’clock; found there Mr. John Walley and his wife: sat discoursing pleasantly. I shew’d them Isaac Moses’s [an Indian] writing. Madam W. serv’d comfits to us. After a-while a table was spread, and supper was set. I urg’d Mr. Walley to crave a blessing; but he put it upon me. About 9. they went away. I ask’d Madam what fashioned neck-lace I should present her with, She said, None at all. I ask’d her Whereabout we left off last time; mention’d what I had offer’d to give her; Ask’d her what she would give me; She said she could not change her condition: She had said so from the beginning; could not be so far from her children, the Lecture. Quoted the Apostle Paul affirming that a single life was better than a married. I answer’d That was for the present distress. Said she had not pleasure in things of that nature as formerly: I said, you are the fitter to make a wife. If she held in that mind, I must go home and bewail my rashness in making more haste than good speed. However, considering the supper, I desired her to be within next Monday night, if we liv’d so long. Assented. She charg’d me with saying, that she must put away Juno, if she came to me: I utterly denied it, it never came in my heart; yet she insisted upon it; saying it came in upon discourse about the Indian woman that obtained her freedom this Court. About 10. I said I would not disturb the good orders of her house, and came away. She not seeming pleas’d with my coming away. Spake to her about David Jeffries, had not seen him.
Monday, Novr. 7th.My son pray’d in the Old Chamber. Our time had been taken up by son and daughter Cooper’s Visit; so that I only read the 130th. and 143. Psalm. Twas on the account of my courtship, I went to Mad. Winthrop; found her rocking her little Katy in the cradle. I excus’d my coming so late (near eight). She set me an arm’d chair and cushion; and so the cradle was between her arm’d chair and mine. Gave her the remnant of my almonds; She did not eat of them as before; but laid them away; I said I came to enquire whether she had alter’d her mind since Friday, or remained of the same mind still. She said, Thereabouts. I told her I loved her, and was so fond as to think that she loved me: she said had a great respect for me. I told her, I had made her an offer, without asking any advice; she had so many to advise with, that ’twas an hindrance. The fire was come to one short brand besides the block, which brand was set up in end; at last it fell to pieces, and no recruit was made: She gave me a glass of wine. I think I repeated again that I would go home and bewail my rashness in making more haste than good speed. I would endeavour to contain myself, and not go on to sollicit her to do that which she could not consent to. Took leave of her. As came down the steps she bid me have a care. Treated me courteously. Told her she had enter’d the 4th year of her widowhood. I had given her the News-Letter before: I did not bid her draw off her glove as sometime I had done. Her dress was not so clean as sometime it had been. Jehovah jireh!
Midweek, 9r. 9t.Dine at Bror Stoddard’s: were so kind as to enquire of me if they should invite Mm Winthrop; I anwer’d No….
About the middle of Decr Madam Winthrop made a treat for her children; Mr. Sewall, Prince, Willoughby: I knew nothing of it; but the same day abode in the Council Chamber for fear of the rain, and din’d alone upon Kilby’s pies and good beer.
March 5, 1720/1….Mr. Prince, P.M., preached a funeral sermon from Psalm 90:10. Gave Capt. Hill a good character. Just as I sat down in my seat one of my fore-teeth in my under jaw came out, and I put it in my pocket. This old servant and daughter of music leaving me, does thereby give me warning that I must shortly resign my head. The Lord help me to do it cheerfully.
Saturday, July 15, 1721….Call and sit awhile with Madam Ruggles. She tells me they had been up all night, her daughter, Joseph Ruggles’s wife, was brought to bed of a daughter. I showed my willingness to renew my old acquaintance (as a suitor). She expressed her inability to be serviceable. Gave me cider to drink. I came home Thursday, Aug. 3 (1721), went in the coach and visited Mrs. Ruggles after Lecture. She seems resolved not to move out of that house. May be of some use there; none at Boston—till she be carried out; made some difficulty to accept an Election Sermon, lest it should be an obligation on her. The coach staying long (going to Boston for a new fare) I made some excuse for my stay; she said should be glad to wait upon me till midnight, provided I should solicit her no more; or to that effect. I said she was willing to get rid of me. She answered, That was too sharp. I gave her Mr. Moodey’s Election Sermon, marbled, with her name written in it.
Copy of a Letter to Mrs. Mary Gibbs, Widow, at Newtown, Jany 12th, 1721/2.
Madam: Your removal out of town and the severity of the winter, are the reason of my making you this epistolatory visit. In times past (as I remember) you were minded that I should marry you, by giving you to your desirable bridegroom. Some sense of this intended respect abides with me still; and puts me upon enquiring whether you be willing that I should marry you now, by becoming your husband. Aged, feeble and exhausted as I am, your favorable answer to this enquiry, in a few lines, the candor of it will much oblige Madam your humble servt.
[They were married March 29, 1722. She survived him.]
The Selling of Joseph.
“For as much liberty is in real value next unto life: None ought to part with it themselves, or deprive others of it, but upon most mature consideration.”
THE NUMEROUSNESS of slaves at this day in the province, and the uneasiness of them under their slavery, hath put many upon thinking whether the foundation of it be firmly and well laid; so as to sustain the vast weight that is built upon it. It is most certain that all men, as they are the sons of Adam, are coheirs; and have equal right unto liberty, and all other outward comforts of life. “God hath given the earth [with all its commodities] unto the sons of Adam,” Psal. cxv. 16. “And hath made of one blood, all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation: That they should seek the Lord. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God,” etc. Acts xvii. 26, 27, 29. Now although the title given by the last Adam doth infinitely better men’s estates, respecting God and themselves; and grants them a most beneficial and inviolable lease under the broad seal of heaven, who were before only tenants at will: yet through the indulgence of God to our first parents after the fall, the outward estate of all and every of their children remains the same, as to one another. So that originally and naturally there is no such thing as slavery. Joseph was rightfully no more a slave to his brethren, than they were to him; and they had no more authority to sell him than they had to slay him. And if they had nothing to do to sell him, the Ishmaelites bargaining with them, and paying down twenty pieces of silver, could not make a title. Neither could Potiphar have any better interest in him than the Ishmaelites had. Gen. xxxvii. 20, 27, 28. For he that shall in this case plead alteration of property, seems to have forfeited a great part of his own claim to humanity. There is no proportion between twenty pieces of silver and liberty. The commodity itself is the claimer. If Arabian gold be imported in any quantities, most are afraid to meddle with it, though they might have it at easy rates, lest if it should have been wrongfully taken from the owners, it should kindle a fire to the consumption of their whole estate. ’Tis pity there should be more caution used in buying a horse, or a little lifeless dust, than there is in purchasing men and women: whenas they are the offspring of God, and their liberty is,
——Auro pretiosior omni.
And seeing God hath said, “He that stealeth a man and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.” Exod. xxi. 16. This law being of everlasting equity, wherein man-stealing is ranked among the most atrocious of capital crimes, what louder cry can there be made of that celebrated warning,
And all things considered, it would conduce more to the welfare of the province, to have white servants for a term of years, than to have slaves for life. Few can endure to hear of a negro’s being made free; and indeed they can seldom use their freedom well; yet their continual aspiring after their forbidden liberty renders them unwilling servants. And there is such a disparity in their conditions, color and hair, that they can never embody with us and grow up into orderly families, to the peopling of the land: but still remain in our body politic as a kind of extravasate blood. As many negro men as there are among us, so many empty places there are in our train bands, and the places taken up of men that might make husbands for our daughters. And the sons and daughters of New England would become more like Jacob and Rachel, if this slavery were thrust quite out of doors. Moreover, it is too well known what temptations masters are under, to connive at the fornication of their slaves; lest they should be obliged to find them wives or pay their fines. It seems to be practically pleaded that they might be lawless; ’tis thought much of, that the law should have satisfaction for their thefts and other immoralities; by which means, holiness to the Lord is more rarely engraven upon this sort of servitude. It is likewise most lamentable to think how, in taking negroes out of Africa and selling of them here, that which God has joined together men do boldly rend asunder; men from their country, husbands from their wives, parents from their children. How horrible is the uncleanness, immorality, if not murder, that the ships are guilty of that bring great crowds of these miserable men and women! Methinks, when we are bemoaning the barbarous usage of our friends and kinsfolk in Africa, it might not be unseasonable to inquire whether we are not culpable in forcing the Africans to become slaves among ourselves. And it may be a question whether all the benefit received by negro slaves will balance the account of cash laid out upon them; and for the redemption of our own enslaved friends out of Africa. Besides all the persons and estates that have perished there.
Obj. 1. These blackamoors are of the posterity of Cham, and therefore are under the curse of slavery. Gen. ix. 25, 26, 27.
Answ. Of all offices, one would not beg this, viz., uncalled for, to be an executioner of the vindictive wrath of God; the extent and duration of which is to us uncertain. If this ever was a commission, how do we know but that it is long since out of date? Many have found it to their cost, that a prophetical denunciation of judgment against a person or people would not warrant them to inflict that evil. If it would, Hazael might justify himself in all he did against his master, and the Israelites, from II. Kings viii. 10, 12.
But it is possible that, by cursory reading, this text may have been mistaken. For Canaan is the person cursed three times over, without the mentioning of Cham. Good expositors suppose the curse entailed on him, and that this prophecy was accomplished in the extirpation of the Canaanites, and in the servitude of the Gibeonites. Vide pareum. Whereas the blackamoors are not descended of Canaan, but of Cush. Psal. lxviii. 31. “Princes shall come out of Egypt (Mizraim) Ethiopia (Cush) shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.” Under which names, all Africa may be comprehended; and their promised conversion ought to be prayed for. Jer. xiii. 23. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin?” This shows that black men are the posterity of Cush, who time out of mind have been distinguished by their color. And for want of the true, Ovid assigns a fabulous cause of it:
Sanguine tum credunt in corpora summa vocatoÆthiopum populos nigrum traxisse colorem.
Metamorph. lib. 2.
Obj. 2. The nigers are brought out of a pagan country into places where the gospel is preached.
Answ. Evil must not be done, that good may come of it. The extraordinary and comprehensive benefit accruing to the church of God, and to Joseph personally, did not rectify his brethren’s sale of him.
Obj. 3. The Africans have wars one with another: our ships bring lawful captives taken in those wars.
Answ. For aught is known, their wars are much such as were between Jacob’s sons and their brother Joseph. If they be between town and town, provincial or national, every war is upon one side unjust. An unlawful war can’t make lawful captives. And by receiving, we are in danger to promote and partake in their barbarous cruelties. I am sure, if some gentlemen should go down to the Brewsters to take the air and fish, and a stronger party from Hull should surprise them and sell them for slaves to a ship outward bound, they would think themselves unjustly dealt with; both by sellers and buyers. And yet ’tis to be feared we have no other kind of title to our nigers. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matt. vii. 12.
Obj. 4. Abraham had servants bought with his money, and born in his house.
Answ. Until the circumstances of Abraham’s purchase be recorded, no argument can be drawn from it. In the meantime charity obliges us to conclude that he knew it was lawful and good.
It is observable that the Israelites were strictly forbidden the buying or selling one another for slaves. Levit. xxv. 39, 46. Jer. xxxiv. 8–22. And God gaged his blessing in lieu of any loss they might conceive they suffered thereby. Deut. xv. 18. And since the partition wall is broken down, inordinate self-love should likewise be demolished. God expects that Christians should be of a more ingenuous and benign frame of spirit. Christians should carry it to all the world, as the Israelites were to carry it one towards another. And for men obstinately to persist in holding their neighbours and brethren under the rigor of perpetual bondage, seems to be no proper way of gaining assurance that God has given them spiritual freedom. Our blessed Saviour has altered the measures of the ancient love-song, and set it to a most excellent new tune, which all ought to be ambitious of learning. Matt. v. 43, 44. John xii. 34. These Ethiopians, as black as they are, seeing they are the sons and daughters of the first Adam, the brethren and sisters of the last Adam, and the offspring of God, they ought to be treated with a respect agreeable.