« PreviousContinue »
1765. THE NEW ENGLAND COLONIES. 67
First then appear the four Colonies to which the common name of New England was applied. These were MASsACHUSETTs, then comprising Maine; NEw HAMPSHIRE, then comprising Vermont; Connecticut, and RHoDE ISLAND. In the midst of them, and already thriving as a seaport, rose, almost surrounded by the waves, the fair city of Boston, regarded not merely as its capital by Massachusetts, but as a centre and point of union by the rest. These New England Colonies owe their origin to the Puritans, who, hating the Established Church, and persecuted by her, forsook their native country. The first of these — the Pilgrim Fathers, as they have been termed, - came over in 1620 in a single ship, the Mayflower, of only 180 tons. Landing near Cape Cod, on the shores of Massachusetts, they gave to the place the name of Plymouth, in memory of the last at which they had touched in England. Great were the hardships against which they had at first to battle, but their fortitude and perseverance, and reliance upon God, were greater still. Nor did they fail to gain strength by fresh accessions from England, although desiring them from no communion besides their own. Their Colony Seal bore an Indian, erect, with an arrow in his right hand, and the motto: “Come over and help us.”* At one time Cromwell himself, then a man of little note, had been Ön board ship to join them, when there came an order from Whitehall that he and the other intended emigrants should be disembarked, - an order, it has been aptly said, which in its final consequences destroyed both King and Commonwealth.**
Knowledge in these Colonies made early and rapid strides. The College which derived its name from John Harvard, one of its first benefactors, was founded in 1636. The press began its work so soon as 1639, although the first American newspaper — the Boston News-Letter — was not published till 1704.” In 1647 it was enacted by law, “that “every township, after the Lord hath increased them to the “number of fifty householders, shall appoint one to teach “all children to write and read; and where any town shall “increase to the number of one hundred families, they shall “set up a grammar-school.”** At the accession of George the Third the New England Colonies had greatly advanced in wealth and luxury. This is manifest in several passages of the Private Diary, not long since made public, of Mr. John Adams, the second President of the United States. Dining with one gentleman at Boston he describes with admiration “the Turkey carpets, “the painted hangings, the marble tables, the rich beds “with crimson damask curtains and counterpanes, the “beautiful chimney-clock, the spacious garden, – all,” he says, “most magnificent. A seat it is for a nobleman, a “prince!”* Much, therefore, of the austerity and gloom of the first Puritans had departed from their children. They no longer preached against wigs and curls; they no longer thought that female fashions of attire — “hoods of silk and “scarfs of tiffany” — were essential points of legislation. Still, however, it may be said that in slight circumstances or expressions some signs of the old leaven remained. Thus, for instance, in 1774 I find some disturbers of the public peace in one of the towns of Massachusetts designated by a favourite phrase of the Puritans — “certain sons of Belial.” Thus again in 1775 I observe it stated by a British officer on an exploring expedition through the province, that “no“body is allowed to walk the streets during Divine Ser“vice without being taken up and examined.”f But passing from mere forms or words, it may be said of the people of * See a note by Mr. Jared Sparks to Franklin's Life and Writings, vol. i. p. 23. ed. 1840. “At present,” says Mr Bancroft in his Introduction, o ...? more daily journals in the United States than in the world #k Bancroft's History of the United States, vol. i. p. 458. *** Diary, January 16. 1766. Collected Works, vol. ii. p. 179. ed. 1850.
* Bancroft's History of the United States, vol. i. p. 346. ed. 1839. ** Lord Byron, Preface to Marino Faliero. It is curious how closely the list of instances there given is found repeated (so far as the dates allowed) by Angiolina in the tragedy itself. (Act 5, scene 1.)
+ American Archives, edited by Mr. Peter Force, and published by the authority of Congress in 1837, &c., vol. i. p. 732, and 1265.
1765. COLONY OF NEW YORK. 69
New England at this juncture that there still dwelt among them undiminished the stern religious principle and the steadfast resolution of their fathers. They were as determined to assert for themselves their lawful— and perhaps more than their lawful — freedom of thought and action. They were as prompt to feel and to resent — or even sometimes as we may think to imagine and exaggerate — any aggression on their liberties; they were as ready if the need arose (and this all parties must own to their praise) to encounter peril and hardship rather than tamely suffer wrong. The State of New York was first colonised by the Dutch, and first called the New Netherlands. In 1609 a hardy seaman, Hendrick Hudson, discovered and sailed up the majestic river, which has since come to bear his name. He was the earliest of all Europeans to view the swelling range of the Kaatskill mountains, to wake the echoes of the Dunderberg, or invade the solitude of Sleepy Hollow, - scenes which even then he pronounced “the most beautiful country “that the foot of man ever trod,”* and which the genius of Washington Irving, — the Goldsmith, may even the Addison, of America, - has since made familiar to us all. Not many years had passed ere a small town, or rather a cluster of cottages, rose on the island of Mohattan, near the mouth of the Hudson, with the name of New Amsterdam, while higher up the stream another town, Fort Orange, was founded. But the wars between Holland and England under Charles the Second led to the conquest of these settlements by the latter. Even before their conquest was achieved they had been yielded by the King as a grant to his brother, the Duke of York. Then the country changed not only its masters, but its names; New Amsterdam became New York, and Fort Orange was called Albany, from the Scottish title of His Royal Highness. Under the British rule the colony continued to grow and thrive, assisted mainly by its own fruitful territory and favourable skies. “Probably,” says a native writer, “few countries possess a greater range “of soils, or are so well adapted to a great variety of pro“ductions.”* The town of New York, moreover, was well placed for all purposes of trade, and possessed, by its bar of Sandyhook, flanked by Long and Staten Islands, an excellent port secure from every wind. Few cities accordingly have grown more rapidly, in numbers and in wealth. The population which was estimated in 1756 at 13,000, and in 1774 at 22,000, exceeded in 1840 300,000 souls.” Stately edifices, public and private, have arisen in due season; and thus at present the grandeur of Broadway never fails to be admired, even by those who have gazed on the most splendid capitals of Europe. NEw JERSEY was in its origin a part of the New Netherlands, but was dismembered from them on their acquisition by the Duke of York. His Royal Highness immediately made over to Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret the tract of land between the Hudson and the Delaware for “a competent sum of money,” as the deed of assignment assures us. The province thus formed received from the Duke the name of New Jersey, in compliment to Carteret, who had defended the Isle of Jersey against the Long Parliament in the Civil Wars. It was the first care of the new Proprietaries (for such was the term applied to those who obtained from the Crown, directly or indirectly, the grant of any of the American settlements) to invite the resort of further settlers by a Charter of liberal popular rights. Great numbers accordingly came over, above all from the bodies of Dissenters which were smarting under disqualifications or discouragements at home. It was not long before Lord * Agriculture of New York, by Dr. Emmons, 1846, p. 2. I observe, however, in the next page that in this State “certain fruit trees, as the “apple and plum, though they may flourish for several years, are yet “liable to be destroyed by an unseasonable frost.” The volume from which I quote is one of a series on the Natural History of New York, prepared and published at the expense of the State; a most munificent and enlightened
* het schoonste land dat men met voeten betreden kon. See a note to Mr. Bancroft's History, vol. ii. p. 266.
1765. PENNSYLVANIA, 71
Berkeley sold his share to an association of Quakers, and the province was then formally divided between them and Sir George Carteret under the names of West New Jersey and East New Jersey. At the accession of Queen Anne, however, the heirs of Carteret had become convinced that there seignorial rights tended only to embroil them with the colonists, and to diminish their own profits as in part owners of the soil. They, therefore, hearkened willingly to an overture from the English Ministers for a surrender of their powers of Government to the Crown, and the two Jerseys were then re-united under the same Governor, the same Council, the same House of Assembly. Still, however, the plural name of “the Jerseys” remained, and will be found still most frequently applied to this province. Under Queen Anne the population might be estimated at twenty thousand, of whom a great majority were Quakers, Presbyterians, and Anabaptists. There were only two clergymen of the Church of England, and even these with no place of public worship provided.* The inland tract beyond the Delaware was still, in great measure, a primaeval forest in the latter days of Charles the Second. But a large party of Quakers in England cast their eyes in that direction as eager to put in practice unmolested their theories of life and government. West New Jersey, which they had purchased, seemed a sphere too narrow for them, and they possessed a zealous and active leader in William Penn. That remarkable man was the son of a gentleman, and the heir of an estate, in Buckinghamshire, where the range of Penn Woods, near Beaconsfield, still preserves the family name. He had been designed for the army, and it is singular that the only authentic portrait remaining of the Quaker chief represents him as clad in complete armour.” On his espousing the tenets of “the
* Grahame's History of the United States, vol. ii. p. 302. ed. 1836. In Mr. Grahame's last volume he becomes Americanis ipsis Americanior. ** See a note to Franklin's Works, vol. vii. p. 191. ed. 1840.