« PreviousContinue »
experience, and he may therefore be relied on, so far as his remarks extend. This form of the work is destined for domestick use, and we recommend the perusal of it to fathers and mothers. Not, indeed, that they should employ it to play the quack upon their own children ; for those unfortunates, who have mothers that give medicine, are almost invariably unhealthy, and the greatest part perish in early life. But we offer this book to aid the obliteration of vulgar prejudices, to point out to parents the symptoms of indisposition which should alarm them, and above all, to instruct them by what management of diet and regimen their offspring are to be rendered healthy, vigorous, and beautiful. The execution of this edition appears to excel that of any medical book, which has been printed in Boston. In typographical correctness it equals the English edition, to which, in other respects, it is decidedly superiour.
ART. 21. Concluded from p. 260.
-American Annals ; or a chronological history of America. By Abiel JHolmes, D. D.
WHEREveR the Spanish invaders trod, their footsteps were marked with blood. In this all writers agree, such as were eyewitnesses, and relate an unvarnished tale, and such as paint in the strongest colours. They all likewise describe the pusillanimous conduct, the vile superstitions, and cruel customs of the Mexicans. We shall quote a passage from Dr. Holmes’s Annals, which breathes an evangelical spirit, and shows something like political reflection.
P. 58, “Why did Montezuma admit Cortes into his capital, and subject himself to the grossest indignities, when he might unquestionably have expelled, if not annihilated, his army 2 Antonio De Solis, the Spanish historiographer, says : “ The very esfects of it have since discovered, that God took the reins into his own hand on purpose to tame that monster ; making his unusual gentleness instrumental to the first introduction of the Spaniards, a beginning from whence afterward resulted the conversion of those heathen nations.” Conquest Mexico, ii. 141. We ought to adore that Providence, which we cannot comprehend ; but it is impious to insult it by assigning
such reasons for its measures, as
are contradicted by facts. The natural causes of the abject submission of Montezuma may perhaps be traced to a long and traditionary expectation of the subjection of the Mexican empire to a foreign power; to the predictions of soothsayers, with their expositions of recent and present omens; to the forebodings of a superstitious mind ; to the astonishment excited by the view of a new race of men with unknown and surprising implements of war ; and to the extraordinary success of the Spanish arms from the first moment of the arrival of Cortes on the Mexican coast.”
One cause more substantial should be assigned, which has hastened the downfal of many other nations, viz. the arbitrary and cruel proceedings of a tyrant towards the various nations subject to his power. How many thousand of the natives of this region were in the army of Cortes, compared with the few Spaniards that were
with him . He had uncommon sagacity, as well as valour, and made the best use of their hatred to serve his purposes. They wishcd to humble the proud monarch, who could shake his rod over them for his amusement, as well as to gratify his rage ; and by their assistance he overthrew the Mexican empire. We shall quote another passage from the American Annals, which ought to be compared with the reflection of Antonio de Solis.
“ In 1551. Bartholomew de la Casas, having zealously laboured fifty years for the liberty, comforts, and salvation of the natives of AImerica, returned discouraged to Spain, at the age of seventy-seven years.”
The work of our Annalist will be considered by many as more dry, meagre, and insipid, when he comes to treat of the affairs of New-England, than of Spanish America, where he could animate his materials, collected from old accounts, with passages from Robertson, Clavigero, or the author of louropean settlements, supposed to be the late Dr. Campbell. The documents are accurate, but not interesting, which relate to these colonies. We have had men of invincible industry to drudge in the mine for materials, but where do we find the men of science to pu1 ify them : Our fathers were men of excellent characters ; but, after they had subdued the wilderness and formed their settlements, what great transactions are there for the subject of history, or even
to enrich the work of an humble
compiler In their annals there is no variety to charm, no very splendid events to celebrate, no such information to be obtained,
as they always expect, whose enlarged conceptions enable them to throw just observations upon human nature, or give extensive views of mankind. After all we can say of the rise and progress of these United States, there is no eventful period, till the revolution. There is not enough in our history to arrest the attention of readers in general, or to make a very splendid volume, though Robertson himself made an attempt upon the subject. We congratulate the author of the American Annals for what he has done ; he has made them less tiresome and barren, than they have commonly been exhibited.
“The first plantation of the United States was in 1585. Sir R. Greenville left at Roanoke the English colony.” P. 96.
This, it seems, was part of a fleet which Sir Walter Raleigh sent to Virginia, and which went back to England the year following. He was not easily discouraged, and sent a second colony. Soon after this colony returned to England, and for a time frustrated the expectations of a man, whose spirit, virtue, and romantick generosity will be ever remembered. Few great men can be compared with Sir Walter Raleigh. Dr. H. says, this terminated the erertions of Sir Walter Raleigh ; but this is not consistent with his relation of affairs in 1602. “Sir Walter Raleigh, not abandoning all hope of the Virginia colony, made one effort more,” &c. The prior discouragement happened in 1587.
We are also informed, that “the first English child, born in America, was baptised August 1587, by the name of Virginia.” Such
minutia,and even trifling anecdotes, may be entertaining and interesting in a book of annals, though we should not expect them upon the historick page. We learn too, that the first child born in NewEngland was Peregrine White. There is a quaintness in the name, as well as in that of Seaborn, which was given to a child of Mr.Cotton, born on the passage to N.England. We hear also, that the Rev. Mr. Bentley is about collecting a very particular account of the first cradle, in which a child was rocked, born soon after our fathers landed in Salem.
“ In 1602 Gosnold sailed further northward, & discovered Cape Cod. They landed on an island, which they called Martha's Vineyard.”
We cannot so well account for this name, as that the Elizabeth Islands should be so called. Indeed we much doubt of its then bearing this name. In some old accounts it is called Martin’s vineyard. We shall leave this matter to be disputed by the oldcolony antiquarians, who may be as much amused by viewing the pebblestones as the rocks of our shores. One thing is evident, that the island now called Martha’s Vineyard is not the island Gosnold landed upon. From traditionary accounts, from an old Dutch map of the coast, and from some positive evidence, the island so called by them is now called .Woman’s land.
As another specimen of Dr. Holmes's style, and method of relating things, we select the following passage :
“The first general court of the Massachusetts colony was holden at Boston. At this court many of
the first planters attended, and were made free of the colony. This was the first general court, which the freemen attended in person. It was now enacted, that the freemen should in future have power to choose assistants, when they were to be chosen ; and the assistants were empowered to choose out of their own number the governour and deputy governour, who, with the assistants, were empowered to make laws, and ap
point officers for the execution of
them. This measure was now fully assented to by the general vote of the people ; but when the general court convened, early the next year, it rescinded this rule, and ordained, that the governour, deputy governour, and assistants, should be chosen by the freemen alone.” P. 257.
The author refersus toChalmers’ Political Annals for this and several other documents, which may be depended upon, because they are taken from the Plantation Office. The late Governour Hutchinson frequently said, in conversation with his friends, that a complete history of the colonies could not be written, this side of the Atlantick, for want of these papers ; that the writer must go to GreatBritain and there search the files of this office. To these Chalmers had access, and he certainly has made a book, worthy the perusal of all who would make themselves acquainted with the affairs of America. We learn also this fact, that private gentlemen as well as the officers of government, when we were under the crown, had their directions to give every kind of information concerning the state of the colonies ; that a regular correspondence was kept up betwcen the secretary of the lords of trade and plantation and certain individuals in this country, who do not always give their names with their letters, but who tell many facts, and often express their opinions. The late John Pownal, esq. had all these papers arranged, and numbered, and put into regular cases for publick use and the service of individuals. Indeed every thing, appertaining to the various offices of Great-Britain, is in such complete order, as appears wonderful to a person who is not acquainted with their regular manner of doing business; which is worthy the imitation of these United States. We know not whether there is not as much method at Washington; but we know that in some of the states their records resemble an oyster bank, more than a cabinet for papers; and that it would be bringing order out of confusion to make them fit for use. There may be exceptions, however, in some of the publick offices. In 1654. A sumptuary law was passed by the legislature of Massachusetts. Vide p. 354, marginal note. They “acknowledge it to be a matter of much difficulty in regard of the blindness of men's minds and the stubbornness of their wills, to set down exact rules to confine all sorts of people”; yet “cannot but account it their duty to commend unto all, the sober and moderate use of these blessings,” &c. The court proceed to order, that no person whose estate shall not exceed the true and indifferent sum of 200l. shall wear any gold or silver lace, or gold or silver buttons, or any bone lace above 2 shillings per yard, or silk hoods or scarves, on the penalty of 10 shillings for every such offence. "The law authorizes and requires the selectmen of every town to
take notice of the apparel of any of the inhabitants, and to assess such persons “as they shall judge to exceed their ranks and abilities, in the costliness or fashion of their apparel in any respect, especially as to the wearing of ribbands and great boots,” at 200l. estates, according to the proportion which such men use to pay to whom such apparel is suitable and allowed. An exception, however, is made in favour of publick officers and their families, and of those “whose education and employment have been above the ordinary degree, and whose estates have been considerable, though now decayed.” We smile at the simplicity of our forefathers ; but the mother country had set an example of similar measures, effected in a more summary manner. In the reign of queen Elizabeth “began in England long tucks and rapiers,”
which succeeded the sword and