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the sublime charities of Jesus, and nerved themselves to a superiority to the ordinary emotions of humanity. They had searched for truth, and having found what they regarded as such, they rightly judged that no truth is of value except as it becomes a principle of action. Alas! truth is always progressive, always moving in a path for ever brightening to her followers; but prejudice and error seize upon him who dares to stop in her pathway, as did the men of those days.
The Pilgrims were not men full of the sweet charities of life. They were men for reverence, not for love. They were men of severe duty, often of high thought, men jealous of freedom, tenacious of principle,yet men of a wondrous subtlety of logic, by which, however arbitrary, cruel, and unjust became their civil and ecclesiastical decisions, they were able to make them square with the principles of their associations, and the great objects of the colony.
I say not this to disparage these venerable men. One whose veins are coursed with the Pilgrim blood is not likely to undervalue it. But it would be imputing to them superhuman power of mind, to suppose that these men, exiles from their native land, volunteers, indeed, yet exiles,—and every patriot will understand the depth of the sentiment of love for one's country-sufferers from famine and from pestilence, with inadequate shelter from an inclement latitude; weighed by the gloom of measureless and unknown forests, haunted by the faith in the supernatural, augmented into tenfold power by the solitude and immensity of nature, and daily and hourly exposed to savage warfare; it would, I say, be imputing to
such men super-human power of mind, to suppose they could preserve the vividness and the magnanimity of thought under such curcumstances,far less, that they could indulge in the softening charities of life.
No, no! the Pilgrims learned to reject these things as subordinate to the great purposes of their mission. They subdued the promptings of nature, that they might be unshackled in the contest which it involved. They stifled the pleadings of their own hearts, that thought might be free and triumphant; and, alas ! in our goodly heritage of political and intellectual freedom, they have bequeathed also a portion of their religious intolerance, and that very hardness of character, that superiority of thought over affection, which to them was a secret of power and success.
So far as our sex is concerned, the records of those times are barren indeed ; yet, where women is, as in that day of peril and darkness, and bereavement and cold intellectual speculation, there must have been griefs, bitter and heartbreaking. There must have been crushed affections, yearnings for tenderness and sympathy, too great for womanly endurance, sobbings stifled in the sternness of duty, and a weariness of life hard to be borne. Yet from this must have arisen a desire to cope with these lords of creation, in thought at least, if that was from henceforth to be the ground of sympathy; for woman is sure to look about for new combinations for affection—a new form of the altar, since the old is destroyed, upon which she may hang the sweet garlands of her love.
Hence, she began to think, to cavil ; hence, we have, to this day, the tendency to identify ourselves with the principles, whether in politics or religion, of those we love, not blindly, but with searchingness and patient thought. Hence the restless action of the female mind throughout New England, and that preponderance of intellectual development, so remarkable, and becoming effective, not only in point of duty, but moral harmony.
In the earliest settlement of the colony-barren as are the details of the times in that respect—we have three remarkable types of womanhood recorded as episodes in our colonial history; for historians rarely, in recounting events in which women are concerned, give a straightforward, manful detail, but content themselves with an “aside,” as it were ; and this is to be understood as a proper tribute to the modesty of the sex, which is to shrink from justice even, if it involve publicity.
The first type is in that of the mother of Peregrine White, who must have been a cheerful, active, beautiful woman, able to cope
in an off-hand practical manner with the worst hardships of a new world life. She must have had a certain audacious affectionateness, by which she disarmed the ferocity of polemic discussion, or Nathaniel Morton would never have thought it worth while to notice the birth of little Peregrine, in the midst of his registry of the hardships of the "godly.”
The second was the lady Arabella Jonson, whose brief history is far more touchingly effective than any embellishment of fancy. She and her husband, who survived her but a few weeks, had sadly mistaken their vocation, when, in the excess
of religious and political zeal they tempted the hardships of the wilderness.
The slight glimpse we bave of Arabella Jonson is one of perfect loveliness ; full of the tenderness of sentiment, and the refinement of elegant life. She is a creature the imagination delights to contemplate, whose moral greatness made her forget her disabilities of physical power ; whose intellect seemed only second to her delicacy and tenderness, and these again subordinate to her resolute devotedness. She is the embodied poetry of the Pilgrim race.
The third is Anna Hutchinson, a woman altogether so remarkable as to tłrow the whole colony into a ferment by the vigor of her understanding, and the force and boldness with which she advocated her opinions. She it was who occasioned the meeting of the first synod in America, who came together expressly to examine and condemn what were called her heresies.
We, at this late cay, with only the bald details of her opposers upon which to base our opinions of her character, can hardly hope to do justice to one so superior to the generality of her sex. If her courage was not feminine, it was at least Pilgrim-like. It was equal to those of the other sex with whom she had to compete, and far above that of the women of the day, who, till she began to question the doctrines of the leaders, and to look at their dogmas with her acuteness of perception, and wondrous grasp of reason, had tamely echoed their thoughts, and submitted to their exactions.
But Anne Hutchinson began to collect the women of the colony in her own house, and examine coolly and keenly the nature of opinions. This alarmed the authorities, and she was called up for public examination into what were assumed to be heresies, because they were opinions conflicting with those of the times. Nothing can exceed the clear and vigorous manner in which she defended herself upon this occasion. Of her subsequent banishment and her many misfortunes, we must not write, as they are historic, and would alter the purport of this paper, which is simply to exhibit the rill, up in the recesses of the mountain, which, joining itself to others in the process of time, swells to the overflowing river.
Anne Hutchinson, with her affluence of thought, and her clear, vigorous understanding, her searching and courageous power of combination, so beyond the age in which she lived, stands out as the type of intellectual woman, and is the base of that large class of thinkers in that section of the country, who command the respect of the other sex, and sometimes provoke their fears ; and who, if not loyal to themselves, and single in their search for truth, may be used hereafter by those who dare not hope to suppress them (since“ banishment” now would little obviate the difficulty), as were their lively sisters, the other side of the water, when they were enrolled by the Illuminee into lodges, and made subservient to the progress of revolution.
God grant, that the restless power of thought, so characteristic of a New England woman, may keep even pace with the developed harmonies of what is truly womanly, and that