« ForrigeFortsett »
sect was sufficiently strong to impose its ordinances on the other, or aspire to the dignity of an established church; and the consequence was, that they compromised matters by allowing an equal toleration to all. The divisions which at first sight seemed to menace the interests of religion, at last contributed to purify it, at least from the stain of that malignant persecution which sprinkied the sacerdotal lawn with the blood of men who believed in the same redeemer, and not unfrequently converted those whose errand and whose vocation was charity to all men, into bloody executioners, heaping coals of fire upon the heads of christians like themselves. Thus in this new world persecution became at last the cause of her own overthrow, and perished like the inquisitor Alvarez, in an auto-de-fé of her own lightning.
After detailing the various attempts at colonization in Connecticut, the historian proceeds to inquire into the different titles under which the first settlers took possession. This part of his work is highly curious, and the result is not a little to the discredit of the good people of that state, who, he maintains, never had any legal title whatever, but were a set of arrant squatters, that settled just where it suited them, without asking leave of any living soul, except the Indians, with whom, as is usual with white people, they made excellent bargains. The sum of these transactions with the aboriginal inhabitants forms another item in the precious history of poor honest ignorance all over the face of the earth. Civilized nations have always thought themselves at liberty to impose upon those who were uncivilized, and to cheat an Indian has philosophically been considered nothing more than making a lawful use of the advantages derived from superior refinement in the art of bar. gaining.
They conceived, with great apparent justice, that because the opportunities which the savages possessed of acquiring information had not been equal to theirs, the Indians were not entitled to any of the privileges of humanity, and the consequence is, that their only experience of the superiority of civilized men, has been that of their refinement in injustice, and their dexterity in cheating. Everywhere they have been driven by syllogisms, and scripture quotations, from their ancient inheritance; everywhere they have been alternately the tools and the victims of the ambition of other nations, and everywhere the most that they have gained by associating with white men, is a more familiar acquaintance with vice, and an enlargement of their conceptions of immorality. Numerous attempts have indeed been made to draw them from the darkness in which they are plunged with regard to heavenly truths, but their general experience of the conduct of christians is little calculated, we think, to recommend their doctrines, as the antidote of the precept, for the most part, is too weak to overcome the poison of the example.
Little good will probably ever be done in this way, unless the attempt is connected with the introduction of a system which will gradually draw them into habits of cultivation, and convert them from hunters into farmers. When they become husbandmen, when they bave a comfortable home, a happy fire side, and a regular system of domestic economy; when the minds of their children have been gradually prepared by education to receive the doctrines of truth, then, and not till then, will the attempt to convert them tend to any other result than to make them more wretched. To take from them the arrow and the spear, before they can bandle the axe, and direct the plow, is to convert the hardy, active tenant of the boundless forest, not into a civilized being, but into a sort of incongruous monster, with all the vices peculiar to both stations of life. He will become such an animal as we see sometimes lounging about the taverns of the western frontier. A wretched sot who has lost his original cast without having acquired any other
-a spiritless slave, whom every slave of the house chastises at pleasure, and whose sole business in life is to perform the most menial offices for the purpose of obtaining that liquor which is the only christian divinity that he adores. To call such a being a christian—to suppose bim capable of comprehending or practising a single principle or rite of christianity, is a mockery of religion, and a libel on real believers. It is earnestly to be wished that the plan of carrying religion on in one land, and agriculture in the other, originally adopted by this government, and so successfully prosecuted among the natives on the southern frontier, will suffer only a temporary interruption by the present war, and that the return of peace will bring with it a revival of that wise and benevolent system. Thanks to the impulse given by a people to
whom three quarters of the globe at least owe obligations they will never repay, we mean the quakers, the chains of the negro are broken ; and may we not hope, now that the glorious race of emancipation is begun, the wrongs of the Indian may also cease ?
- There are other wrongs besides kidnapping and slavery, and more christian modes of retaliation than burning and conflagration.
Among the various curious particulars which the industrious research of our author has rescued from oblivion, there is nothing of more value than the transcript of the celebrated judicial code known by the name of Blue Laws, under which the first colonists of Connecticut subsisted for a considerable time. however, that he has not informed us to whom we are indebted for this singular code, and the reader must, therefore, remain ignorant of the name of a legislator who, had he lived in days of yore, would certainly have rivalled the famous Draco.
All that we can do is to give the laws verbatim, leaving it to the industry of future antiquarians to discover their author. They are as follows:
"The governor and magistrates convened in general assembly are the supreme power, under God, of this independent dominion.
“ From the determination of the assembly no appeal shall be made. “The governor is amenable to the voice of the people.
" The governor shall have only a single vote in determining any question, except a casting vote when the assembly may be equally divided.
“ The assembly of the people shall not be dismissed by the governor, but shall dismiss itself.
Conspiracy against the dominion shall be punished with death. "Whoever says there is a power holding jurisdiction above and over this dominion, shall be punished with death and loss of property.
“Whoever attempts to change, or overturn this dominion, shall suffer death. “ The judges shall determine controversies without a jury.
“ No one shall be a freeman, or give a vote, unless he be converted, or a member in free communion of one of the churches allowed in this dominion.
“No one shall hold any office who is not sound in the faith, and làithfal to this dominion; and whoever gives a vote to such a person
shall pay a fine of one pound. For the second offence he shall be
“No quaker, or dissenter from the established worship of this do-
“ No food and lodging shall be afforded to a quaker, adamite, or other heretic.
“If any person turns quaker he shall be banished, and not suffered to return on pain of death.
“ No priest shall abide in this dominion. He shall be banished and suffer death on his return. Priests may be seized by any one without a warrant.
" No one shall cross a river but with an authorized ferryman.
“ No one shall run of a sabbath day, or walk in his garden, or elsewhere, except reverently to and from church.
“ No one sball travel, cook victuals, make beds, sweep houses, cut hair, or shave on sabbath day.
“ No woman shall kiss her child on the sabbath or fasting day.
“ A person accused of trespass in the night, shall be judged guilty unless he clear himself by his oath.
“ When it appears that an accomplice has confederates, and he refuses to discover them, he may be racked.
“ No one shall buy or sell lands without permission of the select men.
« A drunkard shall have a master appointed by the select men, who is to debar him the liberty of buying or selling.
" Whoever publishes a lie to the prejudice of his neighbour, shall
“ No minister shall keep a school.
“ Whoever wears clothes trimmed with silver or bone lace above
“ A debtor in prison swearing he has no estate, shall be let out and sold to make satisfaction.
“ Whoever sets fire to the woods and it burns a house, shall sufser death; and persons suspected of the crime shall be imprisoned without benefit of bail.
“ Whoever brings cards or dice into this dominion shall pay a fine of 51.
" No one sball read common prayer, keep christmas or saint's day;
make minced pies, dance, play cards, or play on any instrument of music, except the drum, the trumpet, and the Jewsharp.
" When parents refuse their children suitable marriages, the magistrates shall determine the point.
“The select men, on finding children ignorant, may take them away from their parents and put them into better hands, at the expense of the parents.
“ A man that strikes his wife shall pay a fine of 10l.; a woman that strikes her husband shall be punished as the court directs.
“ A wife shall be deemed good evidence against her husband.
“No man shall court a maid without first obtaining consent of her parents~51. penalty for the first offence-101. for the second; and for the third, imprisonment during pleasure of the court. “ Married persons must live together, or be imprisoned.
Every male shall have his hair cut round according to a cap.”
Such is the curious code which has made so much noise in the world. Like the laws of the Druids, which it resembles in other respects, it was never written, but was declared and interpreted by the select men, the judges, and the pastors of the different congregations. The reader will not fail of being struck with the extraordinary mixture of reason and absurdity, of liberality and bigotry, which it contains. While he admires the former, he is not hastily to charge the lawgivers of Connecticut with a more than ordinary portion of bigotry and superstition. Two centuries ago people were not exactly what they are now, when every man, however ignorant or stinted in his intellect, is qualified, at least in his own opinion, to make laws and direct the measures of government. These simple pilgrims doubtless cudgelled their brains full many a sleepless night to digest this code, however deficient, and broughtit to maturity with prodigious labour of cogitation. The true principles of rational liberty had just begun to dawn forth in the modern world, and as there were few newspapers to enlighten the people, they possessed in general but vague, indefinite, and fantastical ideas of freedom. Yet still even here we perceive some indications of that hardy spirit of independence which the old puritans of Queen Elizabeth's time planted in England, and which, being mellowed, chastised, and disciplined in the progress of human reason and knowledge, at length produced the mild and rational system of Vol. IV. New Series.