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John Win


A second history, that of New England, was also written by a governor, John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Among his accounts of weightier matters he does not forget to tell of the little throp, everyday occurrences, — of the chimney that 1588-1848. took fire, of the calf that wandered away and was lost, of the two young men on shipboard who were punished for fighting by having their hands tied behind them and being ordered to walk up and down the deck all day, of the strange visions and lights that were seen and the strange voices that were heard. It is such details as these that carry us back to the lives of our ancestors, their fears and their troubles.

3. The Bay Psalm Book, 1640. While these two histories were being written, three learned men in Massachusetts set to work to prepare a version of the Psalms to use in church. A momentous question arose : Would it be right to use a trivial and unnecessary ornament like rhyme? There is sometimes rhyme in the original Hebrew," said one, "and therefore it must be right to use it.” Thus established, they took their pens in hand, and in 1640 the famous Bay Psalm Book was published in America, the first book printed on American soil. This was the version of Psalm xxxv, 5:

As chaffe before the winde, let them
be, & Gods Angell them driving.
Let their way dark and slippery bee,

and the Lords Angell them chasing. The “Admonition to the Reader” at the end of the book declares that many of these psalms may be sung to “neere fourty common tunes,” and indeed there seems no reason why a hymn like this should not be sung to one tune as well as another. Now these struggling poets were scholars; two of them were university grad

uates. They had lived in England during the noblest age of English poetry. Why, then, did they make the Psalms into such doggerel? The reason was that they were in agonies of conscience lest they should allow the charm of some poetical expression to lure them away from the seriousness of truth; and they declared with artless complacency and somewhat unnecessary frankness that they had “attended Conscience rather than Elegance, fidelity rather than poetry.”

A generous amount of verse was written in the colo. nies even in the early days. Many of the settlers were educated men, fully accustomed to putting their thoughts on paper, and they seemed to feel that it dignified a thought to make it into verse. Religion was the allabsorbing subject, and therefore they have left us many thousand lines of religious hopes and fears. Unfortunately, it takes more than study to make a man a poet, and hardly a line of all the accumulation can be called poetry.

4. Michael Wigglesworth, 1631-1705. The most lengthy piece of this early colonial rhyme was produced The Day of by the Reverend Michael Wigglesworth of Doom, 1662. Malden. It was called The Day of Doom, or, A Poetical Description of the Great and Last Fudgment. It painted with considerable imaginative power the Last Judgment as the Reverend Michael thought it ought to be. After the condemnation of the other sinners, the "reprobate infants," the children who had died in babyhood, appear at the bar of God and plead that they are not to blame for what Adam did. They say :

Not we, but he ate of the Tree

whose fruit was interdicted : Yet on us all of his sad Fall,

the punishment 's inflicted.


The answer is :

A Crime it is, therefore in bliss

you may not hope to dwell; But unto you I shall allow

the easiest room in Hell. The early colonists bought this book in such numbers that it may be looked upon as America's first and greatest literary success. The first year 1800 copies were sold ; and it is estimated that with our

THE increased popula

TENTH MUSE tion this would be equivalent to a sale Lately sprung up in America.

OR of 2,000,000 copies

Severall Poems, compiled to-day.

with great variety of VỤit 5. Anne Brad

and Learning, full of delight. street, 1612

Whercin cspecially is contained a com 1613–1672. The pleat discourse and description of

Elemenis, praise of Michael

The Four Constitutions, Wigglesworth was

Ages of Man,

Scafors of the Year. as naught when

Together with an Exact Epitomic of compared with the

the Four Monarchies, vico

Allyrian, glory of one Mis

The tress Anne Brad


Roman. street, who abode

Allo.a Dialogue between Old England and with her husband New concerning the late troubles.

With divers other p!calantand crinus Poems. and eight children

By a Gentlewoman in those parts. in the wilderness Printed ac Lon.lon for Ship'ten Bowtell ar the fignc of the

Bible in Popes Herd-Allcy. 1650. of Andover and

spremeTurTrenguprogetting therein did write

THE TITLE-PAGE OF ANNE BRADSTREET'S much poetry. People were in ecstasies over her compositions, and they did not accuse her publisher of exaggeration when he wrote on the title.

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page of her book, "Severall Poems, compiled with great variety of Wit and Learning, full of delight.” She was

called “The Tenth Muse, lately sprung up in Poems, &o. America." Learned Cotton Mather declared

that her work "would outlast the stateliest marble.” However that may be, it was certainly the nearest approach to poetry that the colonies produced during their first century, and now and then we find a phrase with some little poetic merit. In her poem Contemplations, for instance, are the lines :

I heard the merry grasshopper then sing,

The black-clad cricket bear a second part;
They kept one tune and played on the same string,

Seeming to glory in their little art. 6. The children's book. One cannot help wondering a little what the children found to read in colonial days, for the youngest baby. Pilgrim was an old man before it occurred to any one to write a child's book. Even then, it was a book that most of the boys and girls of to-day would think rather dull, for it was a serious

little schoolbook called the New England Now England Primer. No one knows who wrote it, but it Primer,

was published by one Benjamin Harris at his between 1687 and coffee-house and bookstore in Boston, “by the

Town-Pump near the Change,” some time between 1687 and 1690. It contained such knowledge as was thought absolutely necessary for children. After the alphabet came a long list of two-letter combinations, “ab, eb, ib, ob, ub; ac, ec, ic, oc, uc,” etc. ; then a list of words of one syllable; and at last the child had worked his way triumphantly to “a-bom-i-na-tion" and "qual-ifi-ca-tion." There were several short and simple prayers, and there was a picture of the martyr, John Rogers, standing composedly in the flames while his family wept


around him, and the executioner grinned maliciously. There was a second alphabet with a

In ADAM's Fall rhyme and a pic- A

We finned all. ture for every letter. It began :


Heaven to find,

The Bible Mind.
In Adam's Fall

We sinnéd all.
In the course of

Christ crucify'd

For finners dy'd. countless reprints, many changes were made. It is said D

The Deluge drown'd

The Earth around. that in one edition or another the coup

ELIJAH hid let for every letter E

By Ravens fed. in the alphabet was changed except that for A; but the F

The judgment made Puritan never gave

FELIX afraid. up his firm grasp upon the belief in

As runs the Glass,

G original sin. For a

Our Life doth pass. century these two lines were a part

My Book and Heart

H Н of every orthodox

Must never part. child's moral equipment, and they were


JO B feels the Rod,the keynote of the

Yet blefses GOD. greater part of the prose and rhyme

Proud Korah's troop produced in Amer- K

Was swallowed up. ica during the colonial period.



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