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get out of the reach of profligacy, social corruption, and contagion. “Merry England,” the England of the Book of Sports, of holiday saturnalias, with their drinking bou ús and their bear-baitings and cock-fightings; this was the Babylon which had cast them forth, and every shred and trace of which they were determined to extrude from the land of their adoption. They set up, as they believed, in sheer self-protection, a system of wholesale proscription which was bound in the long-run to react injuriously upon them and their children. Everything that savoured of lightness, cheerfulness, and recreation was discouraged and frowned upon. There were jo be no amusements save such as could be extracted fro:n the social accessories of religion and worship. No persons might possess cards, or dice, or other means of garnbling. Dancing was condemned as an encouragement to wantonness, or as inconsistent with a sober and grave carriage. The “worldly luxury of long hair” on the part of men was denounced as sinful, or, if not sinful, “ uncomely and prejudicial to the common good.” “The sale of everything was regulated by law, with such minuteness as to reach the cost of a meal at an inn, and even the price of a pot of beer between meals. The law fixed the price of all commodities, of all labor, and of all servants' wages. The use of tobacco was early forbidden in all public-houses and places; and though one might smoke it in his own house, it was unlawful to do so before strangers, or for one person to use it in company of another.” 1 Puritan asceticism does not seem to have

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1 See chapter on “The Boston Puritans," in Bryant and Gay's Popular History of the United States, vol. ii.

P. 62.

extended to matters of food and drink, and though frugality and temperance were the rule, what was thought of the attempt to make it a binding, self - denying

ordinance may be gathered from an extract from a letter from Thomas Shephard, minister of Cambridge, to Governor Winthrop in 1639: “ This also I doe humbly entreat, that there may be no sin made of drinking in any case one to another, for I am confident that he that stands here will fall and be beat from his grounds by his own arguments; as also that the consequences will be very sad, and the thing provoking to God and man to make more sins than (as yet is seene) God Himself hath made.” 1

Extravagance, or any kind of insobriety in dress, was specially distasteful to the Puritans of New England. They felt moved to declare against “ the ordinary wearing of silver, gold and silver laces," against “immoderate great sleeves,” and “slashed apparel.” The size of sleeve which women were allowed to wear in their dress was limited to the width of half an ell; and none were to be made “with short sleeves, whereby the nakedness of the arm may be discovered in the wearing thereof." The General Court (of Massachusetts), however, had at length to acknowledge the difficulty of enforcing such sumptuary laws, on account of “the blindness of men's minds, and the stubbournnes of theire wills," and they found it necessary to exempt from their operation persons of education and employment "above the ordinary degree.” At the same time, the Court reaffirmed their

utter detestation and dislike that men or women of meane condition, educations, and callinges, should take

1 Lowell's Among my Books, p. 249.

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vpon them the garbe of gentlemen, by the wearinge of gold or siluer lace, or buttons or poynts at theire knees, to walke in greate bootes; or women of the same ranke to weare silk or tiffany hoodes or scarfes, which, though allowable to persons of greater estates, or more liberal education, yet we cannot but judge it intolerable in persons of such like condition.” From which it will be seen that these Puritan democrats had no levelling down notions as to the "natural rights" of all men. They had notions about“ dignities ” which perhaps would not with perfect symmetry have fitted in with other parts of their creed.

The Jewish Theocracy the ideal of the Puritans of New England. -For these sumptuary laws and regulations the Puritans of New England pleaded the sanction of the Mosaic legislation. The Bible was their statutebook, the law of Moses their fountain of authority. The first code of laws, drawn up at the request of the General Court of Massachusetts, was taken entirely from the Old Testament. This was rejected in favour of a more liberal and discriminating code, submitted by Rev. Nathaniel Ward, who had had the advantage of a legal as well as a theological training, and thought that something could be learned from Justinian as well as Moses. This was “The Body of Liberties," which was

” adopted in 1641, and was the first Constitution of Massachusetts, and the foundation of all subsequent Constitutions. The Hebrew law of inheritance and of servitude (for slavery, as afterwards developed and practised, was expressly disallowed) were followed so far as their underlying principles were concerned. The

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breaking of the Sabbath, smiting and cursing parents, were not made capital offences. The punishment of death was reserved for ten kinds of misdemeanours. These were idolatry, witchcraft, when“ direct, express, presumptuous, or high-handed,” homicide, whether committed in malice or in passion, adultery, two other crimes of lust, man stealing, false witness, “of purpose to take any man's life," and treason against the commonwealth. Lying and lechery, improper behaviour of any kind, extravagance in dress, profaneness, uncomely speeches, swearing, “either by the holy name of God or any other oath,” were all made penal offences. In “The Body of Liberties" it was enacted that whosoever should blaspheme the name of God the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost, should be put to death. To deny the infallibility or inspiration of any book of the Old or New Testaments was to incur the penalty of fine, stripes, and, in extreme cases, even death. wanton gospeller" was, of all men, most exasperating to a Boston Puritan—"a kind of human vermin which he felt bound to extirpate.” A wanton gospeller was one who made free with his criticism on the preacher or preached word, “making God's ways contemptible and ridiculous"; and for this offence he was to be condemned to stand in a public place for two hours upon a raised block, with the inscription "a wanton gospeller" fixed on his breast.2 In Massachusetts and New Haven the support

1 For the death penalty in respect of adultery was afterwards substituted the practice of the offender being compelled to stand up in some public place with the letter A in scarlet displayed conspicuously on the breast. See Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter.

2 “ The Boston Puritans,” Bryant and Gay's History, vol. ii. chap. iii.

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of the ministry and religious ordinances, and the duty of constant attendance upon them, were enforced by law. As in the mother country, no one was allowed to absent himself from church without lawful or reasonable excuse. In the colony of Virginia ? this law was more stringently enforced. Church attendance was here made absolutely compulsory,“ upon pain, for the first fault, to lose their provision and allowance for the whole week following ; for the second, to lose said allowance, and also to be whipped; and for the third, to suffer death."

Still, the code of Massachusetts and New Haven (the latter was even sterner and more tainted with Mosaism) was mild and humane when compared with that of the mother country. There were, at the close of Elizabeth's

” reign, thirty-one kinds of crime for which the death. penalty was inflicted ; afterwards they reached the enormous number of one hundred and twenty-three. The principles on which the written code of Massachusetts was framed were, at any rate, a great advance upon the chaos and unintelligibility of English jurisprudence. If they were strict, and sometimes magnified sins into crimes, they were at least intelligible, and people knew what to expect from their infraction.

In the eyes of the Boston Puritans it was the distinctive merit of their system that it sought to reproduce in the theocracy of New England the minuteness and exactitude of the laws according to which the theocracy in the wilderness was governed. It sought, in a word, to govern men in accordance with the will of God,

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Palfrey's History of New England, vol. ii. p. 34, note. 2 Ibid. vol. i. p. 27.

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