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“Ballad of Cassandra Southwick” For Bill West's Great American Local Poem Genealogy Challenge
There are lots of interesting characters in New England, like Cassandra, and many have had their stories made into poems. Longfellow tangled the story of another ancestor, Myles Standish, in his famous courtship poem, and the story of Paul Revere was one of his most famous, and most inaccurate, poems. In this poem, John Greenleaf Whittier got the story more or less correct, but he names the heroine after her mother instead of using her own name, “Provided.” This could possibly be because of Cassandra’s exotic sounding name, so different from all the other Salem Sarahs, Patiences, and Rebeccas. I’ve long enjoyed this poem because of its imagery, but also because of its historical mistakes.
Cassandra Southwick was a Quaker, and she, her husband Lawrence and a son, Josiah, were imprisoned for their religious beliefs in 1658. Two of their children, Provided and Daniel, were sentenced to be sold as slaves in Barbados in 1659 for the unpaid fines of their parents. Instead, the entire family went into refuge at Shelter Island together, where the parents died of exposure in 1660. The true story is certainly tragic, and worthy of an epic poem.
In the poem, Whittier names the little girl “Cassandra” (her mother’s name) and provides the dramatic story of the sea captains refusing to carry the little Quaker maiden into hard slavery. This part of the story has never been proven true, but it makes heroes out of New England’s gruff sea captains. There were plenty of sea captains in the family tree, and these men remain unnamed in the poem, but still worthy of becoming champions. The intolerance of the Puritan magistrates was not just a literary device, Whittier himself was a Quaker and he was very aware of his ancestors’ persecution.
The Southwick Family: Lawrence Southwick, born 1594 in Tetnal, Staffordshire, England, died 10 May 1660 at Shelter Island, New York; married 25 January 1623 at Kingswinford, Staffordshire, England to Cassandra Burnell, daughter of Humphrey Burnell, born about 1596 in Lancashire, England and died 1660 at Shelter Island.
Children: 1. John, born 6 March 1624/5 in Kingswinford, England, died 25 Oct. 1672; married first Sarah Tidd, married second Hannah Flint, married third Sarah Burnett. John and Hannah are my ancestors, through his son John Southwick who married Hannah Follet. 2. Mary Southwick, born 1630; married first Henry Trask, married second William Nichols 3. Josiah Southwick, born 1632; married in 1658 to Mary Boyce, daughter of Joseph Boyce 4. Provided, born 1635, died 1640 5. Daniel Southwick, born 1637; married Esther Boyce 6. Provided Southwick, born 6 December 1641 in Salem, died 4 December 1727 in Salem; married 30 December 1662, Salem, to Samuel Gaskill, son of Edward Gaskill, born 7 June 1639 in Salem, died 6 October 1720 in Salem. She is the protagonist of the poem. 7. Deborah Southwick, born 1634 --------------- The Ballad of Cassandra Southwick
by John Greenleaf Whittier
To the God of all sure mercies let my blessing rise to-day, From the scoffer and the cruel He hath plucked the spoil away; Yea, He who cooled the furnace around the faithful three, And tamed the Chaldean lions, hath set His handmaid free! Last night I saw the sunset melt through my prison bars, Last night across my damp earth-floor fell the pale gleam of stars; In the coldness and the darkness all through the long night-time, My grated casement whitened with autumn's early rime. Alone, in that dark sorrow, hour after hour crept by; Star after star looked palely in and sank adown the sky; No sound amid night's stillness, save that which seemed to be The dull and heavy beating of the pulses of the sea; All night I sat unsleeping, for I knew that on the morrow The ruler and the cruel priest would mock me in my sorrow, Dragged to their place of market, and bargained for and sold, Like a lamb before the shambles, like a heifer from the fold! Oh, the weakness of the flesh was there,--the shrinking and the shame; And the low voice of the Tempter like whispers to me came: Why sit'st thou thus forlornly,' the wicked murmur said, Damp walls they bower of beauty, cold earth they maiden bed? Where be the smiling faces, and voices soft and sweet, Seen in thy father's dwelling, heard in the pleasant street? Where be the youths who glances, the summer Sabbath through, Turned tenderly and timidly unto thy father's pew? Why sit'st thou here, Cassandra?--Bethink thee with what mirth Thy happy schoolmates gather around the warm, bright hearth; How the crimson shadows tremble on foreheads white and fair, On eyes of merry girlhood, half hid in golden hair. Not for thee the hearth-fire brightens, not for thee kind words arespoken, Not for thee the nuts of Wenham woods by laughing boys are broken; No first-fruits of the orchard within thy lap are laid, For thee no flowers of autumn the youthful hunters braid. O weak, deluded maiden!--by crazy fancies led, With wild and raving railers an evil path to tread; To leave a wholesome worship, and teaching pure and sound, And mate with maniac women, loose-haired and sackcloth bound,-- 'Mad scoffers of the priesthood, who mock at things divine, Who rail against the pulpit, and holy bread and wine; Sore from their cart-tail scourgings, and from the pillory lame, Rejoicing in their wretchedness, and glorying in their shame. And what a fate awaits thee!--a sadly toiling slave, Dragging the slowly lengthening chain of bondage to the grave! Think of they woman's nature, subdued in hopeless thrall, The easy prey of any, the scoff and scorn of all!' Oh, ever as the Tempter spoke, and feeble Nature's fears Wrung drop by drop the scalding flow of unavailing tears, I wrestled down the evil thoughts, and strove in silent prayer, To feel, O Helper of the weak! that Thou indeed were there! I thought of Paul and Silas, within Philippi's cell, And how from Peter's sleeping limbs the prison shackles fell, Till I seemed to hear the trailing of an angel's robe of white, And to feel a blessed presence invisible to sight. Bless the Lord for all his mercies!--for the peace and love I felt, Like dew of Hermon's holy hill, upon my spirit melt; When 'Get behind me, Satan!' was the language of my heart, And I felt the Evil Tempter with all his doubts depart. Slow broke the gray cold morning; again the sunshine fell, Flecked with the shade of bar and grate within my lonely cell; The hoar-frost melted on the wall, and upward from the street Came careless laugh and idle word, and tread of passing feet. At length the heavy bolts fell back, my door was open cast, And slowly at the sheriff's side, up the long street I passed; I heard the murmur round me, and felt, but dared not see, How, from every door and window, the people gazed on me. And doubt and fear fell on me, shame burned upon my cheek, Swam earth and sky around me, my trembling limbs grew weak: 'O Lord! support they handmaid; and from her soul cast out The fear of man, which brings a snare, the weakness and the doubt.' Then the dreary shadows scattered, like a cloud in morning's breeze, And a low deep voice within me seemed whispering words like these: Though thy earth be as the iron, and thy heaven a brazen wall, Trust still His loving-kindness whose power is over all.' We paused at length, where at my feet the sunlit waters broke On glaring reach of shining beach, and shining wall of rock; The merchant-ships lay idly there, in hard clear lines on high, Tracing with rope and slender spar their network on the sky. And there were ancient citizens, cloak-wrapped and grave and cold, And grim and stout sea-captains with faces bronzed and old, And on his horse, with Rawson, his cruel clerk at hand, Sat dark and haughty Endicott, the ruler of the land. And poisoning with his evil words the ruler's ready ear, The priest leaned o'er his saddle, with laugh and scoff and jeer; It stirred my soul, and from my lips the seal of silence broke, As if through woman's weakness a warning spirit spoke. I cried, 'The Lord rebuke thee, thou smiter of the meek, Thou robber of the righteous, thou trampler of the weak! Go light the dark, cold hearth-stones,--go turn the prison lock Of the poor hearts thou hast hunted, thou wolf amid the flock!' Dark lowered the brows of Endicott, and with a deeper red O'er Rawson's wine-empurpled cheek the flush of anger spread; Good people,' quoth the white-lipped priest, 'heed not her words so wild, Her Master speaks within her,--the Devil owns his child!' But gray heads shook, and young brows knit, the while the sheriff read That law the wicked rulers against the poor have made, Who to their house of Rimmon and idol priesthood bring No bended knee of worship, nor gainful offering. Then to the stout sea-captains the sheriff turning said,-- 'Which of ye, worthy seamen, will take this Quaker maid? In the Isle of fair Barbadoes, or on Virginia's shore, You may hold her at a higher price than Indian girl or Moor.' Grim and silent stood the captains; and when again he cried, Speak out, my worth seamen!'--no voice, no sign replied; But I felt a hard hand press my own, and kind words met my ear,-- God bless thee, and preserve thee, my gentle girl and dear!' A weight seemed lifted from my heart, a pitying friend was nigh,-- I felt it in his hard, rough hand, and saw it in his eye; And when again the sheriff spoke, that voice, so kind to me, Growled back its stormy answer like the roaring of the sea,-- Pile my ship with bars of silver, pack with coins of Spanish gold, From keel-piece up to deck-plank, the roomage of her hold, By the living God who made me!--I would sooner in your bay Sink ship and crew and cargo, than bear this child away!' Well answered, worthy captain, shame on their cruel laws!' Ran through the crowd in murmurs loud the people's just applause. 'Like the herdsman of Tekoa, in Israel of old, Shall we see the poor and righteous again for silver sold?' I looked on haughty Endicott; with weapon half-way drawn, Swept round the throng his lion glare of bitter hate and scorn; Fiercely he drew his bridle-rein, and turned in silence back, And sneering priest and baffled clerk rode murmuring in his track. Hard after them the sheriff looked, in bitterness of soul; Thrice smote his staff upon the ground, and crushed his parchment roll. 'Good friends,' he said, 'since both have fled, the ruler and the priest, Judge ye, if from their further work I be not well released.' Loud was the cheer which, full and clear, swept round the silent bay, As, with kind words and kinder looks, he bade me go my way; For He who turns the courses of the streamlet of the glen, And the river of great waters, had turned the hearts of men. Oh, at that hour the very earth seemed changed beneath my eye, A holier wonder round me rose the blue walls of the sky, A lovelier light on rock and hill and stream and woodland lay, And softer lapsed on sunnier sands the waters of the bay. Thanksgiving to the Lord of life! to Him all praises be, Who from the hands of evil men hath set his handmaid free; All praise to Him before whose power the mighty are afraid, Who takes the crafty in the snare which for the poor is laid! Sin, O my soul, rejoicingly, on evening's twilight calm Uplift the loud thanksgiving, pour forth the grateful psalm; Let all dear hearts with me rejoice, as did the saints of old, When of the Lord's good angel the rescued Peter told. And weep and howl, ye evil priests and mighty men of wrong, The Lord shall smite the proud, and lay His hand upon the strong. Woe to the wicked rulers in His avenging hour! Woe to the wolves who seek the flocks to raven and devour! But let the humble ones arise, the poor in heart be glad, And let the mourning ones again with robes of praise be clad. For He who cooled the furnace, and smoothed the stormy wave, And tamed the Chaldean lions, is mighty still to save!
“Genealogy of the Descendants of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick of Salem, Massachusetts” by James Moore Caller and Maria A. Ober, Salem, Massachusetts: J. H. Choate & Co. Printers, 1881
Salem, Massachusetts Vital Records
“The Literary Emporium”. New York: J. K. Wellman, 1845, Volume II, pages 65 – 68
“Genealogy of the Descendants of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick of Salem, Massachusetts” by James M. Caller and M. A. Ober, Salem, Massachusetts: J. H. Choate & Co., Printers, 1881
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FREEDOM TO WORSHIP GOD CRITICS of the Puritans, taking their text from Mrs. Heman's poem, are disposed to judge harshly, on the ground of inconsistency, that band of earnest Christians, Who, coming here because they had been persecuted in England persecuted in their turn those who ventured upon a spiritual angle in any degree different from their own. Such critics are, however, confusing the ideals cherished by our forefathers with their own ideals for them. They never claimed that their object in coming here was to secure for all men the boon of freedom in religion. On the contrary, they said quite plainly that the object of their emigration was to escape oppression for themselves. Upon that they laid the emphasis; and with that they stopped.
Far from being inconsistent they adhered through fire and water to their own self-defensive principle. All their legislation, all the 108 arrangements of their society were framed to secure this object. It was in accordance with this that they reserved to themselves the right of admitting only whom they pleased as freemen of the colony; and it was to this end that, a little more than a year after their arrival, they "ordered and agreed that, for time to come, no man should be admitted to the freedom of the Nit such is are members of some of the churches within the limits of the same." To them such an ordinance seemed the one and only way of forming the Christian republic towards which their hearts yearned, a community in which the laws of Moses should constitute the rules of civil life and in which the godly clergy should be the interpreters of those rules.
Of course, the weakness of the system lay in the fact that the clergy were only men. And being men, of like passions with ourselves, they grew, by the very deference they fed upon, into creatures insatiate for power. But pitifully narrow though they were, revoltingly cruel though they soon came to be, it should nevertheless be borne in mind that they were, in almost every case, sincere. They believed that they were conserving the great good of Christian amity in persecuting relentlessly all who differed from them, — and so, girding up their loins, they gave still another turn to the screw!
And now, having said in their defence all, as I honestly believe, there is to he said, I can with a clear conscience, record their persecutions and paint as darkly as I must the horrors of that terrible era. To understand it all we must bear in mind the fact that, not only was the number of clergy among the emigrants to Boston and vicinity large, but being men of unusual gifts, that they of necessity exercised an enormous influence in this "Christian republic." Moreover, the magistrates themselves were, in a. large number of cases men imbued with what we may call the ecclesiastical feeling. When Governor Dudley, for instance, came to die, there were found in his pocket these lines which showed his own cast of mind to have been fiercely bigoted:
"Let men of God in Courts and Churches watch O're such as do a Toleration hatch, Lest that Ill Egg bring forth a Cockatrice, To poison all with heresie and vice."
The "cockatrice" which most powerfully agitated Boston was Mrs. Anne Hutchinson, delicately characterized by the Reverend Thomas Welde as "the American Jezebel." To students of history calmly examining today the testimony on both sides, Mrs. Hutchinson stands out however as a gentlewoman of spotless life, kind heart, brilliant mind and superb courage. That she had a good deal of that intellectual vanity possessed by most clever women is also plain. And she had besides — and it was this which more than anything else occasioned her banishment — a tongue which could and did lash furiously those whom she disliked. Comparing with her own clergyman — the Reverend John Cotton — the host of other clergy then in the Massachusetts colony, she found between them a great gulf fixed; and she said this quite distinctly to the groups of people who used to come to her house opposite the place where the Old South Church now stands, to hear her discuss Mr. Cotton's sermons.
Mrs. Hutchinson came to the colony (in the autumn of 1634) primed for religious discussion. Her father had been Francis Marbury, a minister, first in Lincolnshire and afterwards in London, and in the scholarly and theological atmosphere of his house she had, for years, been accepted as the intellectual equal of his ministerial friends. Theology, indeed, was as the breath of life to her and she hinted in no uncertain way to some Puritan ministers who were on the vessel during her journey to New England that they might expect to hear more from her in the new world. For she regarded herself as one with a mission.
William Hutchinson, the husband of this lady, was the type of man who is always married by strong-minded magnetic women. Winthrop has nothing but words of contempt for him, but there is little doubt that a sincere attachment existed between the married pair and that Hutchinson possessed sterling character and solid worth as well as a comfortable estate. In their Lincolnshire home the two had been parishioners of the Reverend John Cotton and regular attendants at St. Botolph's Church. When Cotton fled to escape the tyranny of the bishops, the Hutchinsons decided to follow, and when the Reverend John Wheelwright, who had married — Mrs. Hutchinson's daughter, began to be persecuted in his turn their departure was — naturally hastened.
Promptly upon their arrival in Boston both Hutchinsons made their application to be received as members of the church. This step was indispensable to admit the pair into Christian fellowship and to allow Mr. Hutchinson the privilege of engaging in business and otherwise exercising the rights of a citizen. He came through the ordeal easily enough but, in consequence of the reports already spread concerning her extravagant opinions, his wife was subjected to a most searching examination. Finally, however, she, too, was pronounced a "member in good standing" of the congregation over which her beloved John Cotton served as associate pastor. And now she was ready to enter upon the career which soon divided Boston into two violently opposed factions and which ended by the withdrawal to England of the brilliant young Governor Vane and by the banishment from the colony of her with whom he had sympathized.
Even so far back as 1635 Boston seems to have been capable. of great enthusiasm over a woman who could persuasively present "some new thing." The doctrine advanced by this woman was certainly an arresting one for that day. For, cleverly interwoven with what was ostensibly only a recapitulation of the sermon preached the Sunday before, ran constantly the astonishing proclamation that there are in this world certain "elect" who may or may not be ordained clergy and that to them are given direct revelations of the will of God. Now the ministers of New England were formalists to the core and the society which they dominated was organized upon the basis that if a man had a sad countenance, wore sombre garb, lived an austere life, quoted the Bible freely, attended worship regularly and took off his hat to the clergy he was a good man. Such a man alone might be a citizen. To admit, therefore, that, in place of these convenient signs of grace, — "works" as they were called, — one must rest salvation upon the intimate and so necessarily elusive relation between man and his God was to preach political as well as spiritual revolution. The logical result of accepting Mrs. Hutchinson's doctrines would have meant nothing less than the annihilation of those convenient earmarks by which the "good" and the "bad" in the community could be readily distinguished, — the "good" marked for civic advancement and the "bad" for the stocks and banishment.
At first the far-reaching import of the lady's views seems not to have struck her hearers. All the leading and influential people of the town flocked to her "parlour talks" and, for a time, she was that very remarkable thing — a prophet honoured in her own community. For the matter of her "lectures" was always pithy and bright, the, leader's wit always ready and "everybody was there," — which counted then for righteousness just as it does now. Hawthorne's genius has conjured up for us the scene at one of these Hutchinson gatherings so that we, too, may attend and be among the "crowd of hooded women and men in steeple hats and close-cropped hair... assembled at the door and open windows of a house newly built. An earnest expression glows in every face... and some pressed inward as if the bread of life were to be dealt forth, and they feared to lose their share."
Unfortunately Mrs. Hutchinson found the transition between the abstract and the concrete as easy as every other descensus Averni. From preaching against a doctrine of "works" she soon dropped into sly digs at the pastors who defended this belief. "A company of legall professors," quoth she, "he poring on the law which Christ hath abolished." No wonder it began to be noised abroad that the seer was casting "reproach upon the ministers,... saying that none of them did preach the covenant of free grace but Master Cotton, and that they have not the seale of the Spirit and so were not able ministers of the New Testament."
It was, however, in Cotton's house and not in her own that Mrs. Hutchinson made the fatal admission for which she had afterward to pay so dear. The elders had come to Boston in a body to see how far Cotton "stood for" the things his gifted parishioner was preaching and, in the hope of clearing the whole matter up, the clergyman had suggested a friendly conference with Mrs. Hutchinson at his house. The interview tool: place, the lady cleverly parrying all attempts to make her say indiscreet things. But finally, the Reverend Hugh Peters having besought her to deal frankly and openly with them, she admitted that she saw a wide difference between Mr. Cotton's ministry and theirs and that it was because they had not the seal of the Spirit that this difference arose. If Mrs. Hutchinson had not thought herself in confidential intercourse with those who were men of honour as well as clergymen, she would never have put the thing thus bluntly. But the event proved that her confession was treasured up to be used against her, — and that there were many in the colony who chafed as she did, under the power of those preaching this "covenant of works." For promptly the liberals, whose mouthpiece she had unconsciously become, blossomed out a sturdy political party led by the enthusiastic Vane. The part which he played in the controversy has already been touched upon in the previous chapter and the brave way in which he fought against the decree which would banish the incoming friends of Wheelwright there described.
But it all availed nothing. The theocracy had been attacked and the clergy sprang like one man to its defence. Even Cotton, after a little, ranged himself on the side of his order as against the woman who lauded him above his brethren. The "trial," in the course of which Mrs. Hutchinson was condemned, is one of the ghastliest things in the history of the colony. The prisoner, who was about to become a mother, was made to stand until she was exhausted, the while those in whom she had confided as friends plied her with endless questions about her theological beliefs. Through two long weary days of hunger and cold she defended herself as well as she could before these "men of God," but her able words availed nothing; she had "disparaged the ministers" and they were resolved to be revenged. Though Coddington pointed out that "no law of God or man" had been broken by the woman before them, she was none the less banished "as unfit for our society." So there was driven out of the city she had adopted the most remarkable intellect Boston has ever made historic by misunderstanding.
Roger Williams was another great and good man of whom the city founded by Winthrop soon proved itself unworthy. Just here seems as good a place as any to attempt some explanation of the change that had come about in Winthrop's character. His letters to his wife show him to have been tender and gentle, but he was certainly relentless in his attitude towards Mrs. Hutchinson, — though all the time more than half persuaded that what she said was true. The fact is that Winthrop's very amiability made him subject to men of inflexible will. His dream had been to create on earth a commonwealth of saints whose joy should be to walk in the ways of God. But in practice he had to deal with the strongest of human passions and become himself intolerant for the sake of leading an intolerant party. The exigencies of life in America seem to have made him more and more narrow as the years went by, but he appears to have repented, at the last, of his tendency towards intolerance; for, being requested on his death-bed to sign an order for the banishment of some person for heterodoxy, he waved the paper away, saying, "I have done too much of that work already."
Roger Williams Williams, though, was one whom he persecuted with a will. He had been glad to have him come to Boston and he recorded his arrival — in the Journal of February, 1631 — as that of "a godly minister." But he did not then know what startling doctrines the new arrival was to set forth or how iconoclastic to the state would prove this clergyman's earnest conviction that, in all matters of religious belief and worship, man was responsible to God alone. Scarcely had Williams set foot in Boston when things began to happen. In the first place, he was thoroughly convinced that the Puritans had done wrong in holding communion with Church of England folk, whose power and resources were constantly employed in crushing the spirit of true piety. So he refused to join with the church at Boston until its congregation had declared repentance for having had communion with the churches in England.
His chief offence against the state, however, was in immediately promulgating the principle for which he all his life contended, i.e. that the magistrates had no right whatever to impose civil penalties upon those who had broken only church rules. From the point of view of Bostonians of that day any man holding this opinion was by that very fact unfitted for the office of a minister among them. Consequently, the magistrates opposed with all the authority at their command the settling of Williams in the Salem pulpit to which he had now been called. His history from this time on does not properly belong to a book about Boston; but it is worth noting that he was persecuted for being, among other things, a believer in adult baptism and that against the Anabaptists, as they were called, were directed some of the most cruel persecutions ever waged in the Saint Botolph's Town of New England.
One can scarcely believe the records as one follows the story of the way President Dunster of Harvard College was treated for the crime of believing in adult baptism. Because he would not baptize infants he was deprived of his office (in October, 1654), and when he asked leave to stay for a few months in the house he had built, on the ground that
"1st. The time of the year is unseasonable, being now very near the shortest day and the depth of winter.
"2nd. The place into which I go is unknown…
to me and my family, and the ways and means of subsistence....
"3rd. The place from which I go hath fuel and all provisions for man and beast laid in for the winter.... The house I have builded upon very damageful conditions to myself, out of love for the college, taking country pay in lieu of bills of exchange on England, or the house would not have been built....
"4th. The persons, all beside myself, are women and children, on whom little help, now their minds lie under the actual stroke of affliction and grief. My wife is sick and my youngest child extremely so and hath been for months, so that we dare not carry him out of doors, yet much worse now than before...."
The Wells-Adams House, on Salem Street, where the Baptists held secret meetings.
Still slight heed was paid to him. For in answer to these pathetic demands Dunster was reprieved only until March and then, with what was due him still unpaid, he was driven forth, a broken man, to die in poverty and neglect. Clearly Massachusetts was not a comfortable place for the Baptists. You see the eminent John Cotton had declared that the rejection of infant baptism would overthrow the church; that this was a capital crime and that therefore, those opposing this tenet were "foul murtherers!" The offence was plainly enough admitted to be against the clergy rather than against God. When John Wilson — of whom in his venerable old age Hawthorne has given us a pleasing portrait in "The Scarlet Letter" — was in his last sickness he was asked to declare what he thought to be the. worst sins of the country. His reply was that people sinned very deeply in his estimation when they rebelled against the power of the clergy.
Upon the Quakers, who absolutely refused to conform, and who promulgated the doctrine that the Deity communicated directly with men, were naturally visited the worst of all the religious persecutions. The first Quakers who came to Boston were women, Mary Fisher and Ann Austin, the former being a person whose previous experience enabled her to compare unfavourably the manners of New England Christians with those of Turkish Mahometans! For, some time before setting out for Boston, Mary Fisher had made a romantic pilgrimage to Constantinople for the purpose of warning the Turks to "flee from the wrath to come." This was at a time when the Grand Vizier was encamped with his army near Adrianople, to whom this astonishing person having journeyed "600 miles, without any abuse or injury" had herself announced as "an Englishwoman bearing a message from the Great God to the Great Turk." She was promptly given an audience and treated with great respect, an escort being even offered to her when the time carne for her to depart.
As for her treatment in Boston, let us read Sewel: "It was in the month called July, of this present year (l656) when Mary Fisher and Ann Austin arrived in the road before Boston, before ever a law was made there against the Quakers; and yet they were very ill-treated; for before they came ashore the deputy governor, Richard Bellingham (the governor himself being out of town), sent officers aboard, who searched their trunks and chests and took away the books they found there, which were about one hundred and carried them ashore, after having commanded the women to be kept prisoners aboard; and the said books were, by an order of the council, burnt in the market-place by the hangman.... And then they were shut up close prisoners and the command given that none should come to them without leave; a fine of five pounds being laid upon any that should otherwise come at or speak with them, tho' but at the window. Their pens, ink and paper were taken from them. and they not suffered to have any candlelight in the night season; nay, what is more, they were stript naked under pretence to know whether they were witches, tho' in searching, no token was found upon them but of innocence. And in this search they were so barbarously misused that modesty forbids to mention it. And that none might have communication with them a board was nailed up before the window of the jail.
"And seeing they were not provided with victuals, Nicholas Upshal, one who had lived long in Boston and was a member of the church there, was so concerned about it (liberty being denied to send them provision) that he purchas'd it of the jailor at the rate of five shillings a week lest they should have starved. And after having been about five weeks prisoners, William Chichester, master of a vessel, was bound in one hundred pound bond to carry them back, and not suffer any to speak with them, after they were out on board; and the jailor kept their beds and their Bible, for his fees."
The lack of laws touching the Quakers was now at once supplied. Those who brought in members of this sect were fined and those who entertained then) deprived of one or both ears. In 1656 an act was passed by which it cost five shillings to attend a Quaker meeting and five pounds to speak at one. In October of the same year the penalty of death was decreed against all Quakers who should return to the colony after they had been banished. When Nicholas Upshall, the kindly innkeeper1 who had befriended Mary Fisher and her comrade, protested against such legislation he was fined and finally banished. Then, to provide a fillip to zeal, constables who failed vigorously to break up Quaker meetings were themselves fined and imprisoned, a share of the fine inposed being given to the informer. The object of this last-named legislation was to sustain the atrocious custom of "flogging through three towns," a privilege established by the Vagabond Act, so called, of May, 1661, in which it was provided that any foreign Quaker or any native, upon a second conviction, might be ordered to receive an unlimited number of stripes, the whip for such service being a two-handled implement, armed with lashes made of twisted and knotted cord or catgut. The last Quaker known to have been whipped in Boston was Margaret Brewster, whose offence Samuel Sewall has chronicled in the following paragraph: "July 8, 1677, New Meeting House Mane: In sermon time there came in a female Quaker, in a canvas frock, her hair disshevelled and loose like a Periwigg, her face as black as ink, led by two other Quakers and two others following. It occasioned the greatest and most amazing uproar that I ever saw. Isaiah i. 12, 14." Whittier has put the scene into verse for us and made us poignantly to feel its horror:
"Save the mournful sackcloth about her wound, Unclothed as the primal mother, With limbs that trembled and eyes that blazed With a fire she dared not smother....
"And the minister paused in his sermon's midst And the people held their breath, For these were the words the maiden said Through lips as pale as death:...
"Repent! repent! ere the Lord shall speak In thunder and breaking seals! Let all souls worship him in the way His light within reveals.
"She shook the dust from her naked feet And her sackcloth closer drew, And into the porch of the awe-hushed church She passed like a ghost from view."
The meeting-house which provided the background for this very dramatic scene was the predecessor on the same site of the present Old South Church.2 Thither Margaret Brewster had travelled a long distance for the express purpose of protesting against further persecutions of her sect. At her trial, she said some brave words that effectually stirred-after an interval — the consciences of her persecutors. John Leverett was then chief magistrate and to him she appealed thus: "Governour, I desire thee to hear me a little for I have something to say in behalf of my friends in this place:... Oh governour I cannot but press thee again and again, to put an end to these cruel laws that you have made to fetch my friends from their peaceable meetings, and keep them three days in the house of correction, and then whip them for worshipping the true and living God: Governour, let me entreat thee to put an end to these laws, for the desire of my soul is that you may act for God, and then would you prosper, but if you act against the Lord and his blessed truth, you will assuredly come to nothing, the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it...."
"Margaret Brewster," carne the stern reply, "you are to have your clothes stript off to the middle, and to be tied to a cart's tail at the South Meeting House, and to be drawn through the town, and to receive twenty stripes upon your naked body."
But though Margaret Brewster suffered last she did not suffer most. Mary Dyer paid the extreme penalty in 1660 because she insisted on coming back to Boston after she had been reprieved from death and banished. In no case better than here may we see illustrated the lengths to which religious enthusiasm will carry the person possessed by it. For with William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson she had been condemned to hang on the Common, but "after she was upon the ladder with her arms and legs tied and the rope about her neck she was spared at the earnest solicitation of her son and sent out of the colony." But, because she thought she must needs die for the triumph of her cause she came back a year later to be executed.
Josiah Southwick, eldest son of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick, was another who "appeared manfully at Boston in the face of his persecutors" after he had been shipped to England. As punishment, he was "sentenced to be whipt at a cart's tail, ten stripes in Boston, the same in Roxbury and the same in Dedham." The peculiar atrocity of flogging from town to town lay in the fact that the victim's
wounds became cold between the times of punishment, and in winter often froze, the resulting torture being intolerably agonizing.
The case of the Southwicks is particularly interesting as an extreme example of the far-reaching ferocity of persecution as pursued by Endicott. Whittier in his poem, "Cassandra Southwick," has given us the colour of this event but, for poetic purposes, has made the woman young. In point of fact, however, Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick were an aged couple, members of the Salem church. Besides the son Josiah, already referred to, they had a younger boy and girl named Daniel and Provided. The father and mother were first arrested in 1657 for harbouring two Quakers, and although her husband was soon released Cassandra was imprisoned for seven weeks and fined forty shillings because there was found on her person a Quaker tract. Later, the three elder Southwicks were again arrested and sent to Boston to serve as an example. Here, in the February of 1657 they were whipped without form of trial, imprisoned eleven days and their cattle seized and sold to pay a fine of £4 13 s. for six weeks' absence from worship on the Lord's day. The letter which they sent from their prison in Boston to Endicott and the others at Salem is worthy of being reproduced in full because it breathes the very spirit of that peace for which the Quakers ideally stood.
"This to the Magistrates at Court in Salem.
"Whereas it was your pleasure to commit us, whose names are underwritten, to the house of correction in Boston, altho' the Lord, the righteous Judge of heaven and earth, is our witness, that we had done nothing worthy of stripes or of bonds; and we being committed by your court to be dealt withal as the law provides for foreign Quakers, as ye please to term us; and having some of us suffered your law and pleasures, now that which we do expect is, that whereas we have suffered your law, so now to be set free by the same law, as your manner is with strangers, and not to put us in upon the account of one law, and execute another law upon us, of which according to your own manner, we were never convicted as the law expresses. If you had sent us upon the account of your new law, we should have expected the jaylor's order to have been on that account, which that it was not, appears by the warrant which we have, and the punishment which we bare, as four of us were whipp'd, among whom was one who had formerly been whipp'd so now also according to your former law.
"Friends, let it not be a small thing in your eyes, the exposing as much as in you lies, our families to ruine. It's not unknown to you the season and the time of year for those who live of husbandry, and what their cattle and families may be exposed unto; and also such as live on trade; we know if the spirit of Christ did dwell and rule in you these things would take impression on your spirits. What our lives and conversation have been in that place is well known; and what we now suffer for is much of false reports, and ungrounded jealousies of heresie and sedition. These things lie upon us to lay before you. And, for our parts, we have true peace and rest in the Lord in all our sufferings, and are made willing in the power and strength of God, freely to offer up our lives in this cause of God for which we suffer: Yea and we do find (through grace) the enlargements of God in our imprisoned state, to whom, alone We commit ourselves and families, for the disposing of us according to his infinite wisdom and pleasure, in whose love is our rest and life.
"From the House of Bondage in Boston wherein we are made captives by the wills of men, although made free by the Son, John 8, 36. In which we quietly rest, this 16th of the 5th month, 1658.
When Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick were rearrested after banishment for not having gone away promptly, the old people piteously pleaded "that they had no otherwhere to go." But they were none the less commanded to get out quickly under pain of death. They went to Shelter Island, where they died within a few days of each other as a result of flogging and starvation. And, inconceivable as it seems, the sale as slaves of the younger children, Daniel and Provided, was actually authorized by law to satisfy a debt accumulated from fines for their non-attendance at church! Thus were free-born English subjects dealt with for cherishing a faith subversive of a theocracy.
In all honesty, however, it should be said that not all the Quakers, by any means, were as mild and inoffensive as the Southwicks. Even the gentle-spirited Roger Williams was at one time so sorely tried in patience by them that he allowed himself to write: "They are insufferably proud and contemptuous. I have, therefore, publicly declared myself that a due and moderate restraint and punishment of these incivilities, though pretending conscience, is so far from persecution, Properly so called, that it is a duty and command of God unto all mankind, first in Families, and thence unto all mankind Societies."
What did they do? Everything which they thought might tend to hatter down the intolerant spirit of Puritanism. A favourite method of protest was for Quaker women to break bottles over the head of a preacher "as a sign of his emptiness." John Norton was more than once thus affronted while engaged in the solemn delivery of the Thursday lecture in Boston. This could scarcely have been pleasant, of course, either to the preacher or his people. But a little tact, above all a sense of humour, would have smoothed the sharpness of the controversy. Only, these qualities were precisely the ones which the Puritans and the Quakers both conspicuously lacked. Against the Puritan persistency, therefore, there was ranged the exceeding contumacy of the Quakers. And if the war had been left to fight itself out, the Quakers, because they had a great principle on their side, would probably have won the day, revolting and bloody as must have been the battles. Happily, however, three or four influences cooperated to put an end to this unseemly conflict.
One of the sufferers from persecution having gone to England and gained access to Charles II, brought back from that monarch a peremptory command that the death Penalty against the Quakers should be no more inflicted and that those who were under judgment or in Prison should be sent to England for trial. Sir Richard Saltonstall, too, — who had returned to England some time before, and was watching wit], great interest, though at a distance, the course of events in and about Boston, — perceived that the intolerance of Wilson and Cotton would work great harm to the colony, and to these two teachers of the Boston First Church he had addressed a manly letter of remonstrance. Most important of all for the Quakers, John Norton, who of all the clergy had exercised the most baleful influence in the direction of intolerance, died in 1663, suddenly and of apoplexy, and the friends of the Quakers, after the fashion of the day, pronounced his sudden taking off a punishment sent by the Lord.
Sir Richard Saltonstall
Already John Norton had been nearly frightened to death in England by the Quakers. The narrow-minded but well-meaning priest had been sent with Simon Bradstreet to present an address to the just-crowned Charles and find out what his attitude towards the colonies was to be. Norton had accepted this mission with reluctance, for he knew perfectly well that, in the eye of the English law, the executions he had pushed against the Quakers were homicide. But, after long vacillation, "the Lord so encouraged and strengthened his heart" that he ventured to sail. From the king and his prime minister he and his companion soon found they had nothing to fear, but they were none the less uncomfortable in London, the reason whereof may be gleaned from this anecdote related by Sewel:
"Now the deputies of New England came to London, and endeavoured to clear themselves as much as possible, but especially priest Norton, who bowed no less reverently before the archbishop, than before the king.... They would fain have altogether excused themselves; and priest Norton thought it sufficient to say that he did not assist in the bloody trial nor had advised to it.
"But John Copeland, whose ear was cut off at Boston, charged the contrary upon him: and G. Fox the elder, got occasion to speak with them in the presence of some of his friends and asked Simon Bradstreet, one of the New England magistrates, 'whether he had not a hand in putting to death those they nicknamed Quakers'? He not being able to deny this confessed he had. Then G. Fox asked him and his associates that were present, 'whether they would acknowledge themselves to be subjects to the law of England? and if they did by what law they had put his friends to death?' They answered 'They were subject to the laws of England and they had put his friends to death by the same law as the Jesuits were put to death in England.' Hereupon G. Fox asked, 'whether they did believe that those, his friends whom they had put to death, were Jesuits or jesuistically affected?' They said 'Nay.' 'Then' replied G. Fox, 'ye have murdered them; for since ye put them to death by the law that Jesuits are put to death here in England, it plainly appears you have put them to death arbitrarily, without any law.' "
Fox might have turned the tables, it is clear, upon the magistrate and the minister, but he had no desire to do that. Though many royalists urged him to prosecute relentlessly these New England persecutors of his followers, he said he preferred to leave them "to the Lord to whom vengeance belonged." So Bradstreet and John Norton came back to their homes in safety though they passed a very bad quarter of a year in London.
The election in 1673 of Leverett as governor sounded, however, the death-knell to persecution. For though he had been trained under Cotton's preaching, he was personally opposed to violent methods of suppressing dissenting sects, and, during his administration, the Baptists, the Quakers and all the rest worshipped their God undisturbed by any legal interference. Long and bitter had been the struggle, but now, at last, there was assured to those in Massachusetts a boon for which men have ever been content to yield up their life in dungeons, on the scaffold and at the stake, that very noble and precious thing we call "freedom to worship God."