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The Puritan Folk

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Those who want to know just what sort of people they were who gave America a Thanksgiviug day should read Alice Morse Earle's book, "Customs and Fashions In Old New England. ' ' The reader will surely wonder how it came about that these people were responsible f or an anniversary day when they so bitterly opposed letting their poor, little, half frozen, skinny children celébrate April Fooi 's day. The young ones of those days were beantifnlly olad in linen - goose fleshy thought - little, thiu linen, short sleeved, low necked shirts and baglike dressg of linen, drawn in around the neck with puokering strings. Then the Sunday af ter they were born they were carried off to the meeting house to be baptized. There was no fire in those meeting houses, and they often had to break the ice in the christening bowl. But the Puritana had no monopoly of such cruelty to children. The rubric of the Episcopalian prayer book aays that parents must not defer baptism longer than the first or second Sunday after birth. One of these New England parsons believed in infant immersion and practiced it, too, till his own child nearly lost its life by it. After that he learned some sense. Judge Sewall writes Jan. 22, 1694: "A very extraordinary storm by reason of the falling and driving of the snow. ;Few women could gët to meeting. A child named Alexander was baptized in the af ternoon. " It is not surprising that consmnption gtrnck so deep into New England or that infant mortality was so great. Eemember, too, that in the books on the rearing of children it was advised that their feet be often dipped in cold water and that they wear thin soled shoes, "that the wet may come freely to them." One doesn't wonder, either, at the size of the families. Sir William Phips -was one of 26 children by the same mother; Printer Green had 30 children; the Rev. John Sherman of Watertown had 26 children by two wives - 20 by his last. With death making so many subtractions, the Puritans had to do a little multiplication, It must nave taiten a good deal of scuffling with the elementa to provide bread and meat and clothes for a family like a small Sunday school. Th% didn't get enongh to eat, it is plain, for the children were almost all rick3ty,and all had to take elabórate compounds of baked snails, mashed earthworms, herbs, hartshorn and strong ale to cure them. But the children were smart children. Phebe Bartlett was powerfully converted when she was 4 years old. Jane Turril could teil Scripture stories before she was 2 years old, and before she was 4 she could say the greater part of her catechism, many of the Psalms, read distinctly and niake pertinent remarks on many things she read. She asked many astonishing questions about divine mysteries. Cotton Mather took his little daughter Katy, aged 4, into his study and told her that he was to die shortly and that she must remember all he said. He set before her the sinful condition of her nature and charged her to pray in secret places every day, and so on, with much more lugubrious matter of the same sort. He lived 30 years after he scared poor little Katy so. That 's the lively sort of time the Puritan children had. The poor little Puritan boys were not -allowed to go swimming at all, and very tithinginan was strictly enjoined to keep them from it. Each tithingman had ten families under his charge, and if one may estimate that there were ten boys in each family the chances are that on a hot August day some one of those 100 young ones defied the law, its ■dread executor and the chances of going to a place whore it is more than August all the year around, and no good swimming holes either. But the young ones danced, and they had pmch to drink. One little girl 8 years old wouldn't stay at her graiyñmother's house because she couldn't have wine to drink at every rueal, and her parents upheld her in her conduct. They had candy and gingerbread and oranges and pictured story books; but, alas, they were stories of the "Conversión and Holy and Exemplary Lives of Several Young Children, " "The Life of Mary Paddock, Who Died at the Age of Nine," "Praise Out of the Mouths of Babes, ' ' and the likes of them ! They went to school and froze there when they weren't wanned up with "lamming and with whippiug and such benefits of nature." Besides, the teacher had devilish devices, such as a split branch, iuto whose cleft the bad child's nose was put and pinched. They had leather paddies, and the whole community didn't rise up in horror at it, though little children were blistered, not grown up youug men. Bachelors and "lone men" Had the worst of it very decidedly. The tithiugman kept his eye on them all the time. In Hartford they had to pay 20 shillings a week to the town for living "without awife. Widowers hardly waited till their wives were good and cold before they married agaiu. The father and mother of Governor Winslow had been widower and widow 7 and 12 weeks respectively when they were Inarried. The goveruor of New Hamphire married a woman whose first husband was put in the grave just ten days before the wedding. A single womati was "an antientmaid" at 25 years, and ■a spinster of 30 years was a "thornback. ' ' Judge Sewall wrote in Jiis diary quite a lorie; story of his variotis attemptB to remariy whcu his first wife died, leaving him a widover 66 years oíd. He had a dreadful time í it, for bewas close flsted iu the matter of sottlements, but íinally he drove a bargain. In the early days of New Eiigland almost everybody of diguity performed the inarriage except the parsou, and the whole company of guests used to invade the bridal chamber and make long prayers there. Young f ellows who were not invited to the wedding had the pleasing custom of stealing the bride after the marriage ceremony, carrying her off and releasing her ouly when the bridegroora bougíit a supper for them. They had good thiugs to eat, though. if two people did have to eat off tha same píate. Por instance, one Ner England way to cook eels was to stuff them with nutnieg and cloves, stick them with cloves, cook in wine, place on a chafing dish and garnish with lemons. Indian pudding, hoininy, suppawn, pone, samp and succotash they leamed how to cook from the Indians. Pumpkins they didn't think mnch of for the reason that they had such an overdose of them. And here isa recipe for ' ' pumpion pye" which housewives may copy and use - if they can make head or tail of it: "Take about half a pound of Puinpion and slice it, a handful of Tyme, a little Bosemary, Pursley nd Sweet Marjoram, slipped ofif the Stalkes, and chop them small and beat them, then mix them and beat them altogether and put in as much Sugar as you think fit, then fi them like a froiz. Af ter it .is fryed, let it stand til it be cold, then fill your Pye. Take sliced Apples, thinne rounde-ways, and lay a row of the Froiz and layer of Apples, vith Currans betwixt the layer while your Pye is fltted and put in a good deal of sweet butter bef ore you close it, tvhen, the Pye is baked take sixteen yelks of Eggs, some White IVine or Vergis, and make a Caudle of this but not too Thicke, cut up the Lid and put it in, stir them well together whilst the Eggs and Pumpions be not perceived and so serve it up. " Probably it was good, but there was mighty little "pumpion" to the "pye" and a good deal of everything else in the shop. Sixteeu eggs ín a pie when they are selling at eight for a quarter will scare out a good many thrifty housewives of today. They were pretty heavy drinkers at first, but very early it began to be hard lines for habitual drunkards. They had to sit in the stocks, lost their votes and hadagreaf'D" made of "redd" cloth hung around their necks or sewed on their clothes. The recipes for fancy drinks were intolerably long and full of all the spices in their shops and all the herbs of their gardens. Their simpler ones were rather messy things, one would think. Here is Landlord May 's recipe for flip: "Mix four pounds of sugar, four eggs and a pint of cream, and let it stand for two days. Fill a quart mug two-thirds full of beer, put therein four great spoonf ul8 of the compound. Then thrust into the mixture a hot loggerhead and add a gilí of rum." A popular drink in Salem was" whistlebelly vengeance" - charming name! It was made of sour household beer simmered in a kettle, sweetened with molasses, filled with brown bread crumbs and drunk hot. For medicines the old Puritans had the awfulest messes. Sow bugs and roses, and pounded coral, and toads caught in Maren and burned to a char, and ambergris were some of the drugs. Of course they wero bied and physicked to the last degree. They used to make up parties or classes and go to a retreat, where they would all be inoculated for smallpox - not vaccinated, but inoculated with the real disease. There they "broke out" together, had the f e ver together, sweat .together, scaled off together, and many a love affair sprang up aimd such highiy unromantic circumstances. The greatest of all trials, one wcmld think, was the way the ueighbors all got iiito the siokroorn and prayed all day long. It was no good the poor badgered creature telling thern to hold their tongues and to let him aloue. They kept at him till he told them to pray, and they fairly heotored him into heaven. But they had glorious tirnes at funerals. They must have all got tight as drums from the amount of liquor they drank. Funeral odes were about the only punning poetry the Puritans wrote. They had no prayers or sermons - just put the man into the ground with great pomp. Everybody had to have gloves, and rings were of ten given away by the family of the deceased. They had such lovely thiugs on them as - Prepared be To follow me. Dr. Buxton of Salem left when he died a quart mug full of rings he had "made," as the thrifty phrase was, by going to funerals. Strangest of all, in New Kngland, tñe land of rooks, where they plant fields with shotguus and the sheep's noses have to be ground so that they can nibble the grass between the pebbles, they used to import the gravestones from old England. And these were the folks who invented Thanksgiving day.


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