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Haueing vndertaken, for ye glorie of God, next generation they might be destitute of and advancemente of ye christian faith and such helps as the Lord hath been pleased honour of our king & countrie, a voyage to hitherto to make use of, as chief means for plant ye first colonie in ye Northerne parts the conversion of his people and building of Virginia. Doe by these presents solemnly them up in the holy faith, as also for break& mutualy in ye presence of God, and one ing down the Kingdom of Antichrist. And of another, couenant, & combine our selues verily had not the Lord been pleased to furtogeather into a Ciuill body politick, for our nish New England with means for the atbetter ordering, & preseruation & further- tainment of learning, the work would have ance of ye ends aforesaid; and by Vertue been carried on very heavily, and the hearts hearof to enacte, constitute, and frame, such of godly parents would have vanished away just & equall lawes, ordinances, Acts, con- with heaviness for their poor children, whom stitutions, & offices, from time to time, as they must have left in a desolate wilderness, shall be thought most meete & conuenient destitute of the means of grace. for ye generall good of ye Colonie, vnto It being a work in the apprehension of which we promise all due submission and all whose capacity could reach to the great obedience. In witnes whereof we haue here- sums of money the edifice of a mean colvnder subscribed our names at Cap-Codd lege would cost) past the reach of a poor ye. 11. of Nouember, in ye year of ye raigne pilgrim people, who had expended the greatof our soueraigne Lord, King James, of est part of their estates on a long voyage, England, France, & Ireland ye eighteenth, traveling into foreign countries being unand of Scotland ye fiftie fourth. Ano: Dom. profitable to any that have undertaken it, 1620.
although it were but with their necessary
attendance, whereas this people were forced THE FIRST PROMOTION OF LEARNING to travel with wives, children, and servants;
besides they considered the treble charge of EDWARD JOHNSON
building in this new populated desert, in re[From A Wonder-Working Providence,
gard of all kind of workmanship, knowing 1654]
likewise, that young students could make up
a poor progress in learning, by looking on Toward the latter end of this summer the bare walls of their chambers, and that (1635) came over the learned, reverend, and Diogenes would have the better of them by judicious Mr. Henry Dunster, before whose far, in making use of a tun to lodge in; coming the Lord was pleased to provide a not being ignorant also, that many people patron for erecting a college, as you have in this age are out of conceit with learning, formerly heard, his provident hand being and that although they were not among a now no less powerful in pointing out with people who counted ignorance the mother his unerring finger a president abundantly of devotion, yet were the greater part of fitted, this his servant, and sent him over the people wholly devoted to the plow (but for to manage the work. And as in all the
to speak uprightly, hunger is sharp, and other passages of this history the Wonder- the head will retain little learning, if the working Providence of Sion's Saviour hath heart be not refreshed in some competent appeared, so more especially in this work, measure with food, although the gross vathe fountains of learning being in a great pors of a glutted stomach are the bane of measure stopped in our native country at a bright understanding, and brings barrenthis time, so that the sweet waters of Shilo's ness to the brain). But how to have both streams must ordinarily pass into the go on together, as yet they know not. churches through the stinking channel of Amidst all these difficulties, it was thought prelatical pride, beside all the filth that the meet learning should plead for itself, and fountains themselves were daily encumbered (as many other men of good rank and qualwithal, insomuch that the Lord turned aside ity in this barren desert) plot out a way often from them, and refused the breath- to live. Hereupon all those who had tasted ings of his blessed Spirit among them, which the sweet wine of Wisdom's drawing, and caused Satan (in these latter days of his fed on the dainties of knowledge, began to transformation into an angel of light) to set their wits at work, and verily as the make it a means to persuade people from whole progress of this work had a farther the use of learning altogether, that so in the dependency than on the present-eyed means, so at this time chiefly the end being firmly toward it, which by some is observed, but by fixed on a sure foundation, namely, the glory the most very much neglected. The governof God and good of all his elect people the ment hath endeavored to grant them all the world throughout, in vindicating the truths privileges fit for a college, and accordingly of Christ and promoting his glorious King- the Governor and magistrates, together with dom, who is now taking the heathen for his the President of the College for the time beinheritance and the utmost ends of the earth ing, have a continual care of ordering all for his possession, means they know there matters for the good of the whole. are, many thousand uneyed of mortal man, This college hath brought forth and nurst which every day's Providence brings forth. up very hopeful plants, to the supplying
Upon these resolutions, to work they go, some churches here, as the gracious and and with thankful acknowledgment readily godly Mr. Wilson, son to the grave and take up all lawful means as they come to zealous servant of Christ, Mr. John Wilson; hand. For place they fix their eye upon this young man is pastor to the Church of New-Town, which to tell their posterity Christ at Dorchester; as also Mr. Buckly, whence they came, is now named Cam- son to the reverend Mr. Buckly, of Conbridge. And withal to make the whole world cord; as also a second son of his, whom understand that spiritual learning was the our native country hath now at present help thing they chiefly desired, to sanctify the in the ministry, and the other is over a other and make the whole lump holy, and people of Christ in one of these Colonies, that learning being set upon its right ob- and if I mistake not, England hath I hope ject might not contend for error instead of not only this young man of New England truth, they chose this place, being then un- nurturing up in learning, but many more, der the orthodox and soul-flourishing minis- as Mr. Sam. and Nathaniel Mathers, Mr. try of Mr. Thomas Shepard, of whom it may Wells, Mr. Downing, Mr. Barnard, Mr. Albe said, without any wrong to others, the lin, Mr. Brewster, Mr. William Ames, Mr. Lord of his Ministry hath saved many a Jones. Another of the first-fruits of this hundred soul. The situation of this Col- college is employed in these western parts in lege is very pleasant, at the end of a Mevis, one of the Summer Islands; besides spacious plain, more like a bowling-green these named, some help hath been had from than a wilderness, near a fair navigable hence in the study of physic, as also the river, environed with many neighboring godly Mr. Sam. Danforth, who hath not only towns of note, being so near, that their studied divinity, but also astronomy; he houses join with her suburbs. The build- put forth many almanacs, and is now called ing thought by some to be too gorgeous for to the office of a teaching elder in the a wilderness, and yet too mean in others' Church of Christ at Roxbury, who was one apprehensions for a college, it is at present of the fellows of this College. The number enlarging by purchase of the neighbor of students is much increased of late, so houses. It hath the conveniences of a fair that the present year, 1651, on the twelfth hall, comfortable studies, and a good library, of the sixth month, ten of them took the degiven by the liberal hand of some magis- gree of Bachelors of Art, among whom the trates and ministers, with others. The chief Sea-born son of Mr. John Cotton was gift towards the founding of this college was by Mr. John Harvard, a reverend minister; the country, being very weak in their pub
THE MAY-POLE OF MERRY MOUNT 1 lic treasury, expended about £500 towards it, and for the maintenance thereof, gave the
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE yearly revenue of a ferry passage between Boston and Charles-Town,
[From Twice Told Tales, 1837]
the which amounts to about £40 or £50 per annum. Bright were the days at Merry Mount, The commissioners of the four united col- when the May-Pole was the banner staff of onies also taking into consideration of what that gay colony! They who reared it, common concernment this work would be, 1 This story illustrates the conflict between not only to the whole plantations in general,
Puritan severity and the older spirit of Merry but also to all our English Nation, they en
England, as it appeared on American soil.
colony at Merry Mount was established in 1622 deavored to stir up all the people in the sev
and was dispersed by Miles Standish in 1628.
With the point of view of the unfortunate Merry eral colonies to make a yearly contribution Mount revelers, compare the poetry of Herrick.
should their banner be triumphant, were the beard and horns of a venerable he-goat. to pour sunshine over New England's rugged There was the likeness of a bear erect, brute hills, and scatter flower-seeds throughout in all but his hind legs, which were adorned the soil. Jollity and gloom were contend- with pink silk stockings. And here again, ing for an empire. Midsummer eve had almost as wondrous, stood a real bear of the come, bringing deep verdure to the forest, dark forest, lending each of his fore-paws and roses. in her lap, of a more vivid hue to the grasp of a human hand, and as ready than the tender buds of Spring. But May, for the dance as any in that circle. His or her mirthful spirit, dwelt all the year inferior nature rose half-way, to meet his round at Merry Mount, sporting with the companions as they stooped. Other faces summer months, and revelling with Autumn, wore the similitude of man or woman, but and basking in the glow of Winter's fire- distorted or extravagant, with red noses side. Through a world of toil and care she pendulous before their mouths, which flitted with a dream-like smile, and came seemed of awful depth, and stretched from hither to find a home among the lightsome ear to ear in an eternal fit of laughter. hearts of Merry Mount.
Here might be seen the Salvage Man, well Never had the May-Pole been so gayly known in heraldry, hairy as a baboon, and decked as at sunset on midsummer eve. This girdled with green leaves. By his side, a venerated emblem was a pine-tree, which nobler figure, but still a counterfeit, aphad preserved the slender grace of youth, peared an Indian hunter, with feathery crest while it equaled the loftiest height of the and wampum belt. Many of this strange old wood monarchs. From its top streamed company wore foolscaps, and had little bells a silken banner, colored like the rainbow. appended to their garments, tinkling with a Down nearly to the ground, the pole was silvery sound, responsive to the inaudible dressed with birchen boughs, and others of music of their gleesome spirits. Some the liveliest green, and some with silvery youths and maidens were of soberer garb, leaves fastened by ribbons that flut- yet well maintained their places in the irtered in fantastic knots of twenty dif- regular throng, by the expression of wild ferent colors, but no sad ones. Garden revelry upon their features. Such were the flowers and blossoms of the wilderness colonists of Merry Mount, as they stood laughed gladly forth amid the verdure, in the broad smile of sunset, round their so fresh and dewy that they must have venerated May-Pole. grown by magic on that happy pine-tree. Had a wanderer, bewildered in the melWhere this green and flowery splendor ter- ancholy forest, heard their mirth, and stolen minated, the shaft of the May-Pole was a half-affrighted glance, he might have fanstained with the seven brilliant hues of the cied them the crew of Comus, some albanner at its top. On the lowest green ready transformed to brutes, some midway bough hung an abundant wreath of roses, between man and beast, and the others some that had been gathered in the sunniest rioting in the flow of tipsy jollity that spots of the forest, and others, of still richer foreran the change. But a band of Puriblush, which the colonists had reared from tans, who watched the scene, invisible themEnglish seed. O people of the Golden Age, selves, compared the masques to those devthe chief of your husbandry was to raise ils and ruined souls with whom their suflowers!
perstition peopled the black wilderness. But what was the wild throng that stood Within the ring of monsters appeared the hand in hand about the May-Pole? It could two airiest forms that had ever trodden on not be that the fauns and nymphs, when any more solid footing than a purple and driven from their classic groves and homes golden cloud. One was a youth in glistenof ancient fable, had sought refuge, as all ing apparel, with a scarf of the rainbow the persecuted did, in the fresh woods of pattern crosswise on bis breast. His right the West. These were Gothic monsters, hand held a gilded staff, the ensign of high though perhaps of Grecian ancestry. On dignity among the revelers, and his left the shoulders of a comely youth uprose the grasped the slender fingers of a fair maiden, head and branching antlers of a stag; a not less gaily decorated than himself. Bright second, human in all other points, had the roses glowed in contrast with the dark and grim visage of a wolf; a third, still with glossy curls of each, and were scattered the trunk and limbs of a mortal man, showed round their feet, or had sprung up spon
taneously there. Behind this lightsome pered he, reproachfully, "is yon wreath of couple, so close to the May-Pole that its roses a garland to hang above our graves, boughs shaded his jovial face, stood the that you look so sad? O Edith, this is our figure of an English priest, canonically golden time! Tarnish it not by any pensive dressed, yet decked with flowers, in heathen shadow of the mind; for it may be that fashion, and wearing a chaplet of the na- nothing of futurity will be brighter than tive vine-leaves. By the riot of his rolling the mere remembrance of what is now passeye, and the pagan decorations of his holy ing." garb, he seemed the wildest monster there, “That was the very thought that sadand the very Comus of the crew.
How came it in your mind “Votaries of the May-Pole," cried the too?" said Edith, in a still lower tone than flower-decked priest, “merrily, all day long, he; for it was high treason to be sad at have the woods echoed to your mirth. But Merry Mount. “Therefore do I sigh amid be this your merriest hour, my hearts! Lo, this festive music. And besides, dear Edhere stand the Lord and Lady of the May, gar, I struggle as with a dream, and fancy whom I, a clerk of Oxford, and high priest that these shapes of our jovial friends are of Merry Mount, am presently to join in visionary, and their mirth unreal, and that holy matrimony. Up with your nimble we are no true Lord and Lady of the May. spirits, ye morrice-dancers, green men, and What is the mystery in my heart ?” glee-maidens, bears and wolves, and horned Just then, as if a spell had loosened them, gentlemen! Come; a chorus now, rich with down came a little shower of withering rosethe old mirth of Merry England, and the leaves from the May-Pole. Alas, for the wilder glee of this fresh forest; and then
No sooner had their hearts a dance, to show the youthful pair what glowed with real passion, than they were life is made of, and how airily they should sensible of something vague and unsubstango through it! All ye that love the May- tial in their former pleasures, and felt a Pole, lend your voices to the nuptial song dreary presentiment of inevitable change. of the Lord and Lady of the May!" From the moment that they truly loved,
This wedlock was more serious than most they had subjected themselves to earth's affairs of Merry Mount, where jest and doom of care and sorrow, and troubled joy, delusion, trick and fantasy, kept up a con- and had no more a home at Merry Mount. tinual carnival. The Lord and Lady of the That was Edith's mystery. Now leave we May, though their titles must be laid down the priest to marry them, and the masquers at sunset, were really and truly to be part- to sport round the May-Pole, till the last ners for the dance of life, beginning the sunbeam be withdrawn from its summit, measure that same bright eve. The wreath and the shadows of the forest mingle gloomof roses, that hung from the lowest green ily in the dance. Meanwhile, we may disbough of the May-Pole, had been twined cover who these gay people were. for them, and would be thrown over both Two hundred years ago, and more, the their heads, in symbol of their flowery Old World and its inhabitants became muunion. When the priest had spoken, there- tually weary of each other. Men voyaged fore, a riotous uproar burst from the rout by thousands to the West; some to barter of monstrous figures.
glass beads, and such like jewels, for the “Begin you the stave, reverend Sir." furs of the Indian hunter; some to conquer cried they all; "and never did the woods virgin empires; and one stern band to pray. ring to such a merry peal, as we of the But none of these motives had much weight May-Pole shall send up!"
with the colonists of Merry Mount. Their Immediately a prelude of pipe, cithern, leaders were men who had sported so long and viol, touched with practiced minstrelsy, with life, that when Thought and Wisdom began to play from a neighboring thicket, came, even these unwelcome guests were in such a mirthful cadence that the boughs led astray by the crowd of vanities which of the May-Pole quivered to the sound. they should have put to flight. Erring But the May Lord, he of the gilded staff, Thought and perverted Wisdom were made chancing to look into his Lady's eyes, was to put on masques, and play the fool. The wonder-struck at the almost pensive glance men of whom we speak, after losing the that met his own.'
heart's fresh gaiety, imagined a wild phil“Edith, sweet Lady of the May,” whis- osophy of pleasure, and came hither to act
out their latest day-dream. They gathered followers from all that giddy tribe, whose whole life is like the festal days of soberer men. In their train were minstrels, not unknown in London streets; wandering players, whose theaters had been the halls of noblemen; mummers, rope dancers, and mountebanks, who would long be missed at wakes, church ales, and fairs; in a word, mirth-makers of every sort,
such abounded in that age, but now began to be discountenanced by the rapid growth of Puritanism. Light had their footsteps been on land, and as lightly they came across the sea. Many had been maddened by their previous troubles into a gay despair; others were as madly gay in the flush of youth, like the May Lord and his Lady; but whatever might be the quality of their mirth, old and young were gay at Merry Mount. The young deemed themselves happy. The elder spirits, if they knew that mirth was but the counterfeit of happiness, yet followed the false shadow wilfully, because at least her garments glittered brightest. Sworn triflers of a lifetime, they would not venture among the sober truths of life, not even to be truly blest.
All the hereditary pastimes of old England were transplanted hither. The King of Christmas was duly crowned, and the Lord of Misrule bore potent sway. On the eve of Saint John, they felled whole acres of the forest to make bonfires, and danced by the blaze all night, crowned with .garlands, and throwing flowers into the flame. At harvest-time, though their crop was of the smallest, they made an image with the sheaves of Indian corn, and wreathed it with autumnal garlands, and bore it home triumphantly. But what chiefly characterized the colonists of Merry Mount was their veneration for the May-Pole. It has made their true history a poet's tale. Spring decked the hallowed emblem with young blossoms and fresh green boughs; Summer brought roses of the deepest blush, and the perfected foliage of the forest. Autumn enriched it with that red and yellow gorgeousness, which converts each wildwood leaf into a painted flower; and Winter silvered it with sleet, and hung it round with icicles, till it flashed in the cold sunshine, itself a frozen sunbeam. Thus each alternate season did homage to the May-Pole, and paid it a tribute of its own richest splendor. Its votaries danced round it once, at least, in
every month; sometimes they called it their religion, or their altar; but always, it was the banner staff of Merry Mount.
Unfortunately, there were men in the New World of a sterner faith than these May-Pole worshipers. Not far from Merry Mount was a settlement of Puritans, most dismal wretches, who said their prayers before daylight, and then wrought in the forest or the cornfield till evening made it prayer-time again. Their weapons were always at hand, to shoot down the straggling savage. When they met in conclave, it was never to keep up the old English mirth, but to hear sermons three hours long, or to proclaim bounties on the heads of wolves and the scalps of Indians. Their festivals were fast-days, and their chief pastime the singing of psalms. Woe to the youth or maiden who did but dream of a dance! The selectman nodded to the constable; and there sat the light-heeled reprobate in the stocks; or if he danced, it was round the whippingpost, which might be termed the Puritan May-Pole.
A party of these grim Puritans, toiling through the difficult woods, each with a horse-load of iron armor to burthen his footsteps, would sometimes draw near the sunny precincts of Merry Mount. There were the silken colonists, sporting round their May-Pole; perhaps teaching a bear to dance, or striving to communicate their mirth to the grave Indian; or masquerading in the skins of deer and wolves, which they had hunted for that especial purpose. Often, the whole colony were playing at blindman's buff, magistrates and all with their eyes bandaged, except a single scapegoat, whom the blinded sinners pursued by the tinkling of the bells at his garments. Once, it is said, they were seen following a flower-decked corpse, with merriment and festive music, to his grave. But did the dead man laugh? In their quietest times, they sang ballads and told tales, for the edification of their pious visitors; or perplexed them with juggling tricks; or grinned at them through horse-collars; and when sport itself grew wearisome, they made game of their own stupidity, and began a yawning match. At the very least of these enormities, the men of iron shook their heads and frowned so darkly, that the revelers looked up, imagining that a momentary cloud had overcast the sunshine, which was to be perpetual there. On the other hand, the