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liberty which we now enjoy, and we trust long shall enjoy, notwithstanding the foretellings of a class of prophets who seem resolved to contribute to their fulfilment. Against every system of government complaints will arise; but it is sufficient for attaining all the happiness in the power of mere political institutions to bestow, that when the majority are aggrieved, they have the power to obtain redress and future security, without resorting to violence, but simply by the exercise of their constitutional privilege of suffrage.
Among the regulations contained in the system of laws which gave rise to these observations, there are several that we think entitled to our admiration. It would be difficult to find anywhere a better statute than that respecting drunkenness, or penalties more righteously denounced than those against the publisher of a lie. The sumptuary law against persons wearing “gold, silver, and bone lace,” is, perhaps, the best calculated to repress the extravagance of beggarly vanity of any ever devised. The statute taking away ignorant children from parents who wilfully, and not from inability, neglect their duty, and obliging them to pay the expense of a suitable education, is liable, indeed, to many objections, but under proper regulations must have contributed greatly to the general dissemination of learning.
But the article which obliges “married people to live together or be imprisoned,” is too much like the pleasant alternative of marrying or being hanged, to meet our entire approbation; neither do we think their mode of cropping the hair equal to that practised at this time. Touching the denunciation against minced pies, we must take leave to observe that they are not only orthodox pies, but also of great antiquity, as appears by the testimony of Olaus Wormius, Schoeffer, and other writers, who have dilated on the manner of the northern nations celebrating their holydays. Lastly, as admirers of an agreeable and soothing art, we cannot forbear protesting against the music of these rigid legislators.
But most of these obnoxious statutes have, we believe, long since fallen into disuse, and the principal resemblance between this ancient code and the present charter of Connecticut, is observable in the prerogatives of the select men, which still subsist in all their ancient rigour. A man may be a native-born citizen and a freeholder, yet he is not permitted to vote for the most insignificant parish officer, unless the select men certify that he is * of mature years, quiet and peaceable behaviour, a civil conversation, and forty shillings freehold, or forty pounds personal estate; if the select men of the town certify a person qualified in these respects, be is admitted a freeman on taking an oath of fidelity to the state.” It will readily be perceived that this inquisitorial power must give the select men a vast influence in elections, and if our limits would permit, we think the steady political habits of this state might be traced very clearly to this prerogative, which enables the select men, if they are so inclined, to prevent almost any person they please from exercising the right of suffrage. The words « quiet and peaceable behaviour, and civil conversation,'' are sufficiently elastic to be stretched so as to comprehend the whole general tenor of a man's conduct, or contracted to any particular instance of irregularity. This power may certainly be abused, but that it had not been complained of at the time our author wrote bis history of Connecticut, we are assured expressly. Only two appeals had then been made from the decisions of the select men, and, if we recollect right, they were in both instances confirmed. Acquiescence in the acts of those in authority proceeds either from a conviction of their being just, or from despair that any opposition will be effectual. There is a kind of despotism under which the people are silent as the grave, not because they have no cause of complaint, but because they dare not complain, lest a new vial of wrath should be poured upon their heads. Wherever a people murmur very energetically, they are either free from any violent oppression, or they are on the eve of a revolution ; for when the tongue, in a despotic government, once gets free, all the rest follows of course. It may, we think, be laid down as a political axiom, that under a tyrannical government there is much grievance and little complaint ; and that in a free state, on the contrary, there is very little suffering, but a prodigious deal of cla
Much has been said of the severity of these venerable statutes called the Blue Laws; but we think part of that severity may be ascribed to the peculiar situation of the framers. Punishment, in order to be effectual, should be in some degree proportioned to the difficulty of apprehending the criminal; to the obstacles in the way of his conviction; and to the measure in which he is fiable to be affected by that punishment. A slight penalty may
be suficient to deter a man from the commission of a crime, provided the discovery and the infliction be certain. But if the chance of punishment be very remote and improbable, the degree of the penalty should be proportionably increased—the weapon should be keen that wounds at a distance.
Their religious dissensions caused the first colonists of Connecticut to separate into small parties very early, and seek new settlements remote from those who they considered their oppressors. Here, surrounded by Indian tribes, who inhabited the wide wilderness, or by almost impenetrable solitudes, escape was comparatively easy to the offender; and if he chanced to be taken, the defective mode of administering justice, as well as the close upion which had attached the little band to each other, and had gradually been strengthened by dangers, must have afforded frequent opportunities of evading punishment. But even supposing the delinquent at last to be brought to conviction, it is to be considered that the honest pilgrims had been so well seasoned in England by stocks, imprisonments, bastinadoes, and other gentle applications for bringing back stray sheep to the fold, fashionable in those days, that they did not mind trifles,
Having concluded the historical part of his work, our author commences a geographical description of Connecticut, dividing it into three great sections. The first consisted of the kingdom of Sassacus, which comprehended the present counties of New London and Windham; the second of the kingdom of Quinnipiog, comprising the counties of New Haven and Fairfield; and the third was composed of the counties of Hartford and Litchfield.* This last was the patrimony of the great Connecticote, who gave his name to the whole state, and was, if we may believe our author, a sort of Agamemnon, a “ king of men,” who had tributary kings under him, being, in fact, the only Indian emperor ever discovered in North America. The ancient limits of the state of Connecticut, the historian affirms, of right extended to the Hudson, and he complains bitterly of the encroachment of our ancestors, whom he calls the “sly New-Yorkers," a name which we will venture to say was never applied to them before or since. He maintains that these worthy Dutchmen cheated the sister state out of the whole of Long Island, which of right belonged to Connecticut. These charges are now of no importance, except as they implicate the characters of our venerable forefathers, whose reputation for patriarchal simplicity and inflexible uprightness, is such as to repel such imputations at once, and render a vindication altogether unnecessary. Besides this, he in the very outset of his work maintains, that the people of Connecticut had never a legal title to any of the lands they occupied, and how people can be “cheated” out of what never belonged to them, is quite incomprehensible.
* Two new counties have since been formed in Connecticut, called Middlesex and Tolland.
We have one more charge under this head against the historian, and that is, the unbandsome manner in which he speaks of Mr. Smith, the author of the first history of New York, whose credit is so high as to be sometimes referred to in judicial pleadings. We are aware that historians, any more than people of other trades, cannot be expected to agree, and that the first business of an historical writer is to put down all his predecessors in order that he may have plenty of room; yet still we must seriously protest against this attack upon the credit of the father of our history, whose authority is equally sacred with that of Herodotus, or the father of any history extant.
Having sketched the general divisions of Connecticut, the author proceeds to a more particular description of the principal rivers, towns, remarkable curiosities, &c. interspersing it with notices of various traditions, and relations of remarkable occurrences. Many of these are highly curious, and it is in this portion of the work that we begin to discover those symptoms of the marvellous, which gained the history that distinguishing appellation to which we have formerly alluded.
Speaking of the Connecticut river, he mentions a remarkable fact in natural history, which would certainly stagger any reader not familiar with Titus Livius, Pliny, and other writers, who are considered as authentic by all orthodox scholars. He relates that the water, being compressed between two “unyielding rocks, becomes consolidated without frost, by pressure and by swiftness, to such a degree of induration that no iron crow can be forced into it.” Whatever may be thought of this passage, it relates nothing half so remarkable as thousands of stories told by ancient writers, who are still considered good authority notwithstanding these frequent departures from sound matter of fact. Setting aside the numerous tricks played by the ancient
rivers with unsuspicious damsels, all early history is full of strange stories about them. We will content ourselves with instancing two; one related by the most celebrated philosopher, and the other by one of the most famous historians of antiquity. Aristotle mentions a river, called the Elusina, which had a most extraordinary ear for music, insomuch that it would bubble, and dimple, and dance about with evident symptoms of delight whenever any instrument was played on its banks; and Josephus affirms that a river of Judea, whose name he discreetly conceals, pursued its course regularly for six days and stood still on the seventh. From these instances it will appear that the singular compression of Connecticut river is not altogether without a parallel in the unaccountable caprices of other streams, nor our author destitute of the authority of great names to sanction his story.
In running over the list of principal towns, we notice several curious particulars, some of which we shall give to the reader without comment, leaving him to draw his own conclusions with regard to their veracity. Of New London he says, “The people of this town have the credit of inventing tarring and feathering as a punishment for heresy. They first inflicted it on the papists and anabaptists." This fact refutes the conjecture of certain antiquarians, who, with the usual sagacity of that useful race of people, maintain that it was of southern origin, because that region abounds in tar.
The people of the town of Norwich have the following complimentary notice.
“ Were I to give," says the historian, “the character of the people of Norwich, I would do it in the words of the famous Mr. George Whitfield, (who was a good judge of mankind,) in his Farewell Sermon to them a short time before his death: "When I first preached in this magnificent house, above twenty years ago, I told you that you were part beast, part man, and part devil, at which you were offended. I have since thought much about that expression, and confess that for once I was mistaken. I therefore take this opportunity to correct my error. Behold! I now tell you that
you are not part man and part beast, but wholly of the devil.'” This was a “farewell” with a vengeance, and such as the good people of Norwich, whatever may be their component parts, probably remember to this day, if there be any truth in the story