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Title: Child Life in Colonial Days

Author: Alice Morse Earle

Release date: October 1, 2013 [eBook #43863]

Language: English

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Child Life in Colonial Days

publisher mark


John Quincy




author of Home Life in Colonial Days
and other Domestic and Social
Histories of Olden Times
With many Illustrations
from Photographs

New York
The Macmillan Company
London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd.

All rights reserved

Copyright, 1899,

Set up and electrotyped November, 1899. Reprinted December,
1899; March, 1904; February, 1909; March, 1915.

Norwood Press
J. S. Cushing & Co.—Berwick & Smith
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.




When we regard the large share which child study has in the interest of the reader and thinker of to-day, it is indeed curious to see how little is told of child life in history. The ancients made no record of the life of young children; classic Rome furnishes no data for child study; the Greeks left no child forms in art. The student of original sources of history learns little about children in his searches; few in number and comparatively meagre in quality are the literary remains that even refer to them.

We know little of the childhood days of our forbears, and have scant opportunity to make comparisons or note progress. The child of colonial days was emphatically "to be seen, not to be heard"—nor was he even to be much in evidence to the eye. He was of as little importance in domestic, social, or ethical relations as his childish successor is of great importance to-day; it was deemed neither courteous, decorous, nor wise to make him appear of value or note in his own eyes or in the eyes of his seniors. Hence there was none of that exhaustive study of the motives, thoughts, and acts of a child which is now rife.


The accounts of oldtime child life gathered for this book are wholly unconscious and full of honesty and simplicity, not only from the attitude of the child, but from that of his parents, guardians, and friends. The records have been made from affectionate interest, not from scientific interest; no profound search has been made for motives or significance, but the proof they give of tenderness and affection in the family are beautiful to read and to know.

The quotations from manuscript letters, records, diaries, and accounts which are here given could only have been acquired by precisely the method which has been followed,—a constant and distinct search for many years, combined with an alert watchfulness for items or even hints relating to the subject, during as many years of extended historical reading. Many private collections and many single-treasured relics have been freely offered for use, and nearly all the sentences and pages selected from these sources now appear in print for the first time. The portraits of children form a group as rare as it is beautiful. They are specially valuable as a study of costume. Nearly all of these also are as true emblems of the generous friendship of the present owners as they are of the life of the past. The rich stores of our many historical associations, of the Essex Institute, the American Antiquarian Society, the Long Island Historical Society, the Deerfield[ix] Memorial Hall, the Lenox Library, have been generously opened, carefully gleaned, and freely used. The expression of gratitude so often tendered to these helpful kinsfolk and friends and to these bountiful societies and libraries can scarcely be emphasized by any public thanks, yet it would seem that for such assistance thanks could never be offered too frequently, nor too publicly.

Nor have I, in gathering for this,—as for my other books,—failed to exercise what Emerson calls "the catlike love of garrets, presses, and cornchambers, and of the conveniences of long housekeeping." Many long-kept homes have I searched, many an old garret and press has yielded conveniences for this book.

Though this is a record of the life of children in the American colonies, I have freely compared the conditions in this country with similar ones in England at the same date, both for the sake of fuller elucidation, and also to attempt to put on a proper basis the civilization which the colonists left behind them. Many statements of conditions in America do not convey correct ideas of our past comfort and present and liberal progress unless we compare them with facts in English life. We must not overrate seventeenth and eighteenth century life in England, either in private or public. England was not a first-class power among nations till the time of the Treaty of Paris, in 1763. When our[x] colonies were settled it was third-rate. Life among the nobility was magnificent, but the life of the peasantry was wretched, and middle-class social life was very bleak and monotonous in both city and country. From early days life was much better in many ways in America than in England for the family of moderate means, and children shared the benefits of these better conditions. A child's life was more valuable here. The colonial laws plainly show this increased valuation, and the child responded to this regard of him by a growing sense of his own importance, which in time has produced "Young America."

It is my hope that children as well as grown folk will find in these pages much to interest them in the accounts of the life of children of olden times. I have had this end constantly in my mind, though I have made no attempt, nor had I any intent, to write in a style for the perusal of children; for I have not found that intelligent children care much or long for such books, except in the very rare cases of the few great books that have been written for children, and which are loved and read as much by the old as by the young.

As our tired century has grown gray it has developed an interest in things youthful,—in the beginnings of things. Its attitude is akin to that of an old man, still in health and clear-headed, but weary; who has lived through his scores of crowded years of action, toil, and[xi] strife, and seeks in the last days of his life a serene and peaceful harbor,—the companionship of little children. There is something of mystery, too, in "the turn of the century" something which then makes our gaze retrospective and comparative rather than inquisitive into the future. Hence this year of our Lord MDCCCXCIX has been the allotted day and hour for the writing of this book. There has been a trend of destiny which has brought not only a book on oldtime child life, and that book at this century end, but has included the fate that it should be written by Alice Morse Earle. Kismet!



II.Children's Dress34
III.Schools and School Life63
IV.Women Teachers and Girl Scholars90
V.Hornbook and Primer117
VII.Penmanship and Letters150
VIII.Diaries and Commonplace Books163
IX.Childish Precocity176
X.Oldtime Discipline191
XI.Manners and Courtesy211
XII.Religious Thought and Training227
XIII.Religious Books248
XIV.Story and Picture Books264
XV.Children's Diligence305
XVI.Needlecraft and Decorative Arts321
XVII.Games and Pastimes342
XVIII.Children's Toys361
XIX.Flower Lore of Children377


List of Illustrations

John Quincy, One Year and a Half Old, 1690. Owned by Hon. Charles Francis Adams, Boston, Mass.Frontispiece
Miniature, Governor Edward Winslow, Six Years Old, 1602. Owned by Rev. Dr. William Copley Winslow, Boston, Mass.facing 4
Mayflower Cradle, 1620. In Pilgrim Hall, Plymouth, Mass.10
Townes Cradle. In Essex Institute, Salem, Mass.14
Old Pincushion. Owned by Mrs. Sophia C. Bedlow, Portland, Maine19
Indian Cradle. In Memorial Hall, Deerfield, Mass.20
Governor Bradford's Christening Blanket, 1590. Owned by John Taylor Terry, Esq., Tarry town, N.Y.22
Standing Stool, Eighteenth Century24
De Peyster Twins, Four Years Old, 1729. Owned by Mrs. Azoy and Miss Velasquezfacing 26
Baptismal Shirt and Mittens of Governor Bradford, 1590. In Essex Institute, Salem, Mass.35
Robert Gibbs, Four and a Half Years Old, 1670. Owned by Miss Sarah Bigelow Hagar, Kendal Green, Mass.facing 36
Infant's Mitts, Sixteenth Century. In Essex Institute39
Jane Bonner, Eight Years Old, 1700. Owned by Connecticut Historical Societyfacing 42
Infant's Robe, Cap, and Christening Blanket. In Memorial Hall, Deerfield, Mass.46
[xvi]Ellinor Cordes, Two Years Old, 1740. Owned by Mrs. St. Julian Ravenel, Charleston, S.C.facing 48
Daniel Ravenel, Five Years Old, 1765. Owned by Mrs. St. Julian Ravenel, Charleston, S.C.facing 50
Children's Shoes. In Bedford Historical Society, Bedford, Mass.51
Gore Children, 1754. Painted by Copley. Owned by the Misses Robins, Boston, Mass.facing 54
Jonathan Mountfort, Seven Years Old, 1753. Painted by Copley. Owned by Mrs. Farlin, Detroit, Mich.facing 58
Boy's Suit of Clothing, 1784. In Memorial Hall, Deerfield, Mass.facing 60
Mary Lord, 1710 circa. Owned by Connecticut Historical Society.facing 66
"Erudition" Schoolhouse, Bath, Maine, 179770
Oldtime School Certificate of Landlord of Wayside Inn, Sudbury, Mass.73
"Old Harmony" Schoolhouse, Raritan Township, Hunterdon County, N.J.76
Samuel Pemberton, Twelve Years Old, 1736. Owned by Miss Ellen M. Ward, Boston, Mass.facing 78
Nathan Hale Schoolhouse, East Haddam, Conn.82
Old Brick Schoolhouse, Norwich, Conn. From "Old Houses of Norwich," by Miss Mary E. Perkins85
Elizabeth Storer, Twelve Years Old, 1738. Painted by Smibert. Owned by Dr. Townsend, Boston, Mass. facing98
Carved Busks. Owned by Essex Institute106
"Dorothy Q." "Thirteen Summers," 1720 circa. Owned by Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes, Boston, Mass.facing 108
[xvii]Elizabeth Quincy Wendell, 1720 circa. Owned by Dr. Josiah L. Hale, Brookline, Mass.facing 112
Hornbook. Owned by Mrs. Anne Robinson Minturn, Shoreham, Vt.facing118
Hornbook. Owned by Miss Grace L. Gordon, Flushing, L.I.120
Back of Hornbook. Owned by Miss Grace L. Gordon123
"The Royal Battledore"facing 124
"My New Battledore"facing 126
Reading-board, Erasmus Hall, Flatbush, L.I.127
Page of New England Primer130
"The Grammarian's Funeral"facing 134
"Readingmadeasy"facing 136
Page from Abraham Lincoln's Sum Bookfacing 138
Battledore, "Lessons in Numbers"facing 140
Title-page of "Cocker's Arithmetic"140
"American Selection," by Noah Webster, Jr.facing 142
"The Little Reader's Assistant," by Noah Webster, Jr. facing 144
Exhibition "Piece" of Anne Reynoldsfacing 152
Ornamental Letter154
Writing of Abiah Holbrookfacing 154
David Waite, Seven Years Old. Owned by Professor Langley, Washington, D.C.facing 158
Page of "White" Biblefacing 162
Anna Green Winslow. Owned by Miss Elizabeth Trott, Niagara Falls, N.Y.facing 164
Pages from Diary of Mary Osgood Sumner. Owned by Dr. P. H. Mell, Auburn, Ala.facing 166
Joshua Carter, Four Years Old. Painted by Charles Wilson Peale. Owned by Miss Anna Thaxter Reynolds, Boston, Mass.facing 170
[xviii]Page from Diary of Anna Green Winslow174
Samuel Torrey, Twelve Years Old, 1770. Owned by Miss Frances R. Morse, Boston, Mass.facing 176
The Copley Familyfacing 180
Facsimile from Sir Hugh Plat's "Jewel House of Art and Nature," 1653183
Polly Flagg, One Year Old, 1751. Painted by Smibert. Owned by Mrs. Albert Thorndike, Boston, Mass.facing 184
James Flagg, Five Years Old, 1744. Painted by Smibert. Owned by Mrs. Albert Thorndike, Boston, Mass.facing 188
Katherine Ten Broeck, Four Years Old, 1719. Owned by Miss Louise Livingstone Smith, Argyle, N.Y.facing 192
Illustration from "Plain Things for Little Folks"195
Whispering Sticks198
Illustration from "Early Seeds to produce Spring Flowers"201
Cathalina Post, Fourteen Years Old, 1750. Owned by Dr. Van Santvoord, Kingston, N.Y.facing 204
Illustration from "Young Wilfrid"facing 206
William Verstile, 1769. Painted by Copley. Owned by Mrs. Charles Pinney, Derby, Conn.facing 210
The Pepperell Children. Owned by Miss Alice Longfellow, Cambridge, Mass.facing 214
Title-page of the "School of Manners"216
Page of the "School of Manners"218
Thomas Aston Coffin, Three Years Old. Painted by Copley. Owned by heirs of Miss Anne S. Robbins, Boston, Mass.facing 222
Mrs. John Hesselius and her Children, John and Caroline. Painted by John Hesselius. Owned by Mrs. Ridgeley, Baltimore, Md.facing 228
[xix]Charlotte and Elizabeth Hesselius. Painted by John Hesselius. Owned by Mrs. Ridgeley, Baltimore, Md.facing 234
Charles Spooner Cary, Eight Years Old, 1786. Owned by Mrs. Edward Cunningham, East Milton, Mass.facing 240
Margaret Graves Cary, Fourteen Years Old, 1786. Owned by Mrs. Edward Cunningham, East Milton, Mass.facing 246
The Custis Children, 1760 circa. Owned by General Custis Lee, Lexington, Va.facing 250
"The Holy Bible Abridged." Owned by American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.facing 254
Illustration from "Original Poetry for Young Minds"256
Page of "Hieroglyphick Bible." Owned by American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.259
Title-page of "Merry Tales of the Wise Men of Gotham"266
Page of "Merry Tales of the Wise Men of Gotham"267
"The Renowned History of Goody Two Shoes"facing 270
Title-page of "A New Lottery Book"274
Two Pages of "A New Lottery Book"276
Frontispiece of "Be Merry and Wise." Owned by American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.278
Title-page of "Be Merry and Wise." Owned by American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.282
Page of "Cobwebs to catch Flies"284
Woodcut by Bewick. "William and Amelia." From "The Looking Glass for the Mind"286
Woodcut by Bewick. "Caroline, or A Lesson to cure Vanity." From "The Looking Glass for the Mind"289
Woodcut by Bewick. "Sir John Denham and his Worthy Tenant." From "The Looking Glass for the Mind"291
Woodcut by Bewick. "Clarissa, or The Grateful Orphan." From "The Looking Glass for the Mind"294
[xx]Page from "The Juvenile Biographer"296
"The Juvenile Biographer"facing 298
Two Pages of "The Father's Gift"facing 300
Page of "Vice in its Proper Shape." Owned by American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.302
"The Good Girl at her Wheel"307
Illustration from "Plain Things for Little Folks"309
Anne Lennod's Sampler313
Colonel Wadsworth and his Son. Painted by Trumbull. Owned by Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Conn.facing 316
Jerusha Pitkin's Embroidery and Frame. 1751. Copyrighted. Owned by Mrs. William Lee, Boston, Mass.324
Lora Standish's Sampler. In Pilgrim Hall, Plymouth, Mass327
Fleetwood-Quincy Sampler. Owned by Mrs. Swan, Cambridge, Mass330
Polly Coggeshall's Sampler. Owned by Miss Julia Hazard Thomas, Flushing, L. I.334
Flowered Apron, 1750 circa. Owned by Mrs. Swan, Cambridge, Mass336
Mary Richard's Sampler. Owned by Miss Elizabeth Wendell van Rensselaer337
Ancient Lace Pillow, Reels, and Pockets. In Essex Institute, Salem, Mass340
"Scotch Hoppers" from "Juvenile Games for the Four Seasons"345
Ancient Skates. In Deerfield Memorial Hallfacing 346
"Skating." From Old Picture Book349
Cornelius D. Wynkoop, Eight Years Old, 1742. Owned by James D. Wynkoop, Esq., Hurley, N.Y.facing 352
Page from "Youthful Sports"355
[xxi]Stephen Row Bradley, 1800 circa. Owned by Arthur C. Bradley, Esq., Newport, N. H.facing 356
Dolls' Furniture. One Hundred Years Old. In Bedford Historical Society359
Ancient Doll362
Old Rag Doll. In Bedford Historical Society.363
"French Doll." In Essex Institute, Salem, Mass.364
"French Doll." In Essex Institute, Salem, Mass.367
Dolls and Furniture. Owned by Bedford Historical Society368
Chinese Coach and Horses. In Essex Institute, Salem, Mass.369
Old Jackknives. In Deerfield Memorial Hall.370
"Bangwell Putt." In Deerfield Memorial Hallfacing 370
White House Doll. Owned by Mrs. Clement, Newburyport, Mass.372
Ancient Tin Toy373
Doll's Wicker Coach374
Stella Bradley Bellows, 1800 circa. Owned by Arthur C. Bradley, Esq., Newport, N. H.facing 378
Daisy Chain.381
Playing Marbles385
Spanish Dolls. In Essex Institute, Salem, Mass.389
Leaf Boats. Made from Leaves of Flower de Luce395


Child Life in Colonial Days



Some things are of that nature as to make
One's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache.
The Author's Way of Sending Forth His Second Part of the Pilgrim. John Bunyan, 1684.

There is something inexpressibly sad in the thought of the children who crossed the ocean with the Pilgrims and the fathers of Jamestown, New Amsterdam, and Boston, and the infancy of those born in the first years of colonial life in this strange new world. It was hard for grown folk to live; conditions and surroundings offered even to strong men constant and many obstacles to the continuance of existence; how difficult was it then to rear children!

In the southern colonies the planters found a climate and enforced modes of life widely varying from home life in England; it took several generations to accustom infants to thrive under those conditions.[2] The first years of life at Plymouth are the records of a bitter struggle, not for comfort but for existence. Scarcely less sad are the pages of Governor Winthrop's journal, which tell of the settlers of Massachusetts Bay. On the journey across seas not a child "had shown fear or dismayedness." Those brave children were welcomed to the shore with good cheer, says the old chronicler, Joshua Scottow; "with external flavor and sweet odor; fragrant was the land, such was the plenty of sweet fern, laurel, and other fragrant simples; such was the scent of our aromatic and balsam-bearing pines, spruces and larch trees, with our tall cedars." They landed on a beautiful day in June, "with a smell on the shore like the smell of a garden," and these happy children had gathered sweet wild strawberries and single wild roses. It is easy to picture the merry faces and cheerful laughter.

Scant, alas! were the succeeding days of either sweetness or light. The summer wore on in weary work, in which the children had to join; in constant fears, which the children multiplied and magnified; and winter came, and death. "There is not a house where there is not one dead," wrote Dudley. One little earth-weary traveller, a child whose "family and kindred had dyed so many," was, like the prophets in the Bible, given exalted vision through[3] sorrow, and had "extraordinary evidence concerning the things of another world." Fierce east winds searched the settlers through and through, and frosts and snows chilled them. The dreary ocean, the gloomy forests, were their bounds. Scant was their fare, and mean their roof-trees; yet amid all the want and cold little children were born and welcomed with that ideality of affection which seems as immortal as the souls of the loved ones.

Hunger and privation did not last long in the Massachusetts colony, for it was a rich community—for its day—and soon the various settlements grew in numbers and commerce and wealth, and an exultant note runs through their records. Prosperous peoples will not be morose; thanksgiving proclamations reflect the rosy hues of successful years. Child life was in harmony with its surroundings; it was more cheerful, but there was still fearful menace to the life and health of an infant. From the moment when the baby opened his eyes on the bleak world around him, he had a Spartan struggle for life; half the Puritan children had scarce drawn breath in this vale of tears ere they had to endure an ordeal which might well have given rise to the expression "the survival of the fittest." I say half the babies, presuming that half were born in warm weather, half in cold. All had to be baptized[4] within a few days of birth, and baptized in the meeting-house; fortunate, indeed, was the child of midsummer. We can imagine the January babe carried through the narrow streets or lanes to the freezing meeting-house, which had grown damper and deadlier with every wintry blast; there to be christened, when sometimes the ice had to be broken in the christening bowl. On January 22, 1694, Judge Samuel Sewall, of Boston, records in his diary:—

"A very extraordinary Storm by reason of the falling and driving of Snow. Few women could get to Meeting. A Child named Alexander was baptized in the afternoon."

The Judge tells of his own children—four days old—shrinking from the icy water, but crying not. It was a cold and disheartening reception these children had into the Puritan church; many lingered but a short time therein. The mortality among infants was appallingly great; they died singly, and in little groups, and in vast companies. Putrid fevers, epidemic influenzas, malignant sore throats, "bladders in the windpipe," raging small pox, carried off hundreds of the children who survived baptism. The laws of sanitation were absolutely disregarded—because unknown; drainage there was none—nor deemed necessary; disinfection was feebly desired—but the scanty sprinkling of vinegar[5] was the only expression of that desire; isolation of contagious diseases was proclaimed—but the measures were as futile when the disease was known to be contagious as they were lacking in the diseases which our fathers did not know were communicable. It is appalling to think what must have been the unbounded production and nurture of disease germs; and we can paraphrase with truth the words of Sir Thomas Browne, and say of our grandfathers and their children, "Considering the thousand roads that lead to death, I do thank my God they could die but once."


Edward Winslow

It is heartrending to read the entries in many an old family Bible—the records of suffering, distress, and blasted hopes. Until this century these sad stories may be found. There lies open before me an old leather-bound Bible with the record of my great-grandfather's family. He had sixteen children. When the first child was a year and a half old the second child was born. The baby was but four days old when the older child died. Five times did that mother's heart bear a similar cruel loss when she had a baby in her arms; therefore when she had been nine years married she had one living child, and five little graves bore record of her sorrow.

In the seventeenth century the science of medicine had not wholly cut asunder from astrology and necromancy;[6] and the trusting Christian still believed in some occult influences, chiefly planetary, which governed not only his crops but his health and life. Hence the entries of births in the Bible usually gave the hour and minute, as well as the day, month, and year. Thus could be accurately calculated what favoring or mischief-bearing planets were in ascendency at the time of the child's birth; what influences he would have to encounter in life.

The belief that meteorological and astrological conditions affected medicines was strong in all minds. The best physicians gravely noted the condition of the moon when gathering herbs and simples and concocting medicines; and certain drugs were held to be powerless at certain times of the year, owing to planetary influences. "Sympathetical" medicines were confidingly trusted, and tried to a surprising extent upon children; apparently these were as beneficial as our modern method of healing by the insinuation of improved health.

We cannot wonder that children died when we know the nostrums with which they were dosed. There were quack medicines which held sway for a century—among them, a valuable property, Daffy's Elixir. These patented—or rather secret—medicines had a formidable rival in snail-water, which was used as a tonic and also a lotion. Many of the[7] ingredients and extracts used in domestic medicines were incredibly revolting.

Venice treacle was a nasty and popular compound, traditionally invented by Nero's physician; it was made of vipers, white wine, opium, "spices from both the Indies," licorice, red roses, tops of germander and St.-John's-wort, and some twenty other herbs, juice of rough sloes, mixed with honey "triple the weight of all the dry spices." The recipe is published in dispensatories till within this century. The vipers had to be put, "twelve of 'em," into white wine alone. Mithridate, the ancient cure-all of King Mithridates, was another dose for children. There were forty-five ingredients in this, each prepared and introduced with care. Rubila, made chiefly of antimony and nitre, was beloved of the Winthrops, and frequently dispensed by them—and with benefit.

Children were grievously afflicted with rickets, though curiously enough it was a new disease, not old enough to have received adequate observation in England, wrote Sir Thomas Browne in the latter part of the seventeenth century. Snails furnished many doses for the rickets.

Exact instruction of treatment for the rickets is given in a manuscript letter written to Rev. Joseph Perry of Windsor, Connecticut, in 1769:—


"Rev'D Sir:

"In ye Rickets the best Corrective I have ever found is a Syrup made of Black Cherrys. Thus. Take of Cherrys (dry'd ones are as good as any) & put them into a vessel with water. Set ye vessel near ye fire and let ye water be Scalding hot. Then take ye Cherrys into a thin Cloth and squeeze them into ye Vessell, & sweeten ye Liquor with Melosses. Give 2 Spoonfuls of this 2 or 3 times in a day. If you Dip your Child, Do it in this manner: viz: naked, in ye morning, head foremost in Cold Water, don't dress it Immediately, but let it be made warm in ye Cradle & sweat at least half an Hour moderately. Do this 3 mornings going & if one or both feet are Cold while other Parts sweat (which is sometimes ye Case) Let a little blood be taken out of ye feet ye 2nd Morning and yt will cause them to sweat afterwards. Before ye dips of ye Child give it some Snakeroot and Saffern Steep'd in Rum & Water, give this Immediately before Diping and after you have dipt ye Child 3 Mornings Give it several times a Day ye following Syrup made of Comfry, Hartshorn, Red Roses, Hog-brake roots, knot-grass, petty-moral roots, sweeten ye Syrup with Melosses. Physicians are generally fearful about diping when ye Fever is hard, but oftentimes all attemps to lower it without diping are vain. Experience has taught me that these fears are groundless, yt many have about diping in Rickety Fevers; I have found in a multitude of Instances of diping is most effectual means to break a Rickety Fever. These Directions are agreable to what I have practiced for many years."


Among other English notions thrust upon American children was one thus advertised in ante-Revolutionary newspapers:—

"The Famous Anodyne Necklace
"price 20 shillings

"For children's teeth, recommended in England by Dr. Chamberlen, with a remedy to open and ease the foregums of teething children and bring their teeth safely out. Children on the very brink of the Grave and thought past recovery with their teeth, fits, fevers, convulsions, hooping and other violent coughs, gripes, looseness, and all proceeding from their teeth who cannot tell what they suffer nor make known their pains any other way but by crying and moans, have almost miraculously recovered after having worn the famous Anodyne Necklace but one night's time. A mother then would never forgive herself whose child should die for want of so very easy a remedy for its teeth. And what is particularly remarkable of this necklace is, that of those vast numbers who have had this necklace for their children, none have made any complaints but express how glad they have been that their children have worn it whereas if they had not had it, they believed their children would have been in the grave, all means having been used in vain until they had the necklace."

These anodyne necklaces were akin to the medicated belts of our own day, and were worn as children still wear amber beads to avert the croup.


Various native berries had restorative and preventive properties when strung as a necklace. Uglier decorations were those recommended by Josselyn to New England parents, strings of fawn's teeth or wolf's fangs, a sure promoter of easy teething. He also advised scratching the child's gums with an osprey bone. Children died, however, in spite of these varied charms and doses, in vast numbers while teething.


Mayflower Cradle, owned by the Pilgrim William White

There were some feeble expressions of revolt against the horrible doses of the day. In 1647 we hear of the publication of "a Most Desperate[11] Booke written against taking of Phissick," but it was promptly ordered to be burnt; and the doses were continued until well into this century. The shadow of their power lingers yet in country homes.

Many alluring baits were written back to England by the first emigrants to tempt others to follow to the new world. Among other considerations Gabriel Thomas made this statement:—

"The Christian children born here are generally well-favored and beautiful to behold. I never knew any to come into the world with the least blemish on any part of the body; being in the general observed to be better-natured, milder, and more tender-hearted than those born in England."

John Hammond lavished equal praise on the children in Virginia. It was also asserted that the average number of children in a family was larger, which is always true in a pioneer settlement in a new country. The promise of the Lord is ever fulfilled that he will "make the families of his servants in the wilderness like a flock."

A cheerful home life was insured by these large families when they lived. Sir William Phips was one of twenty-six children, all with the same mother. Green, the Boston printer, had thirty children. Another printer, Benjamin Franklin, was one of a[12] family of seventeen. William Rawson had twenty children by one wife. Rev. Cotton Mather tells us:—

"One woman had not less than twenty-two children, and another had no less than twenty-three children by one husband, whereof nineteen lived to man's estate, and a third was mother to seven and twenty children."

He himself had fifteen children, though but two survived him. Other ministers had larger families. Rev. John Sherman, of Watertown, Massachusetts, had twenty-six children by two wives. Rev. Samuel Willard, the first minister of Groton, Massachusetts, had twenty children, and was himself one of seventeen children. It is to the honor of these poorly paid ministers that they brought up these large families well. Rev. Abijah Weld, of Attleboro, Massachusetts, had an annual salary of about two hundred and twenty dollars. He had a small farm and a decent house; he lived in generous hospitality, entertaining many visitors and contributing to the wants of the poor. He had fifteen children and reared a grandchild. In his fifty-five years of service as a minister he was never detained from his duties nor failed to perform them.

Rev. Moses Fiske had sixteen children; he sent three sons to college and married off all his daughters;[13] his salary was never over ninety pounds, and usually but sixty pounds a year, paid chiefly in corn and wood. One verse of a memorial poem to Mrs. Sarah Thayer reads:—

"And one thing more remarkable
Which here I shall record;
She'd fourteen children with her
At the table of her Lord."

These large families were eagerly welcomed. Children were a blessing. The Danish proverb says, "Children are the poor man's wealth." To the farmer, especially the frontiersman, every child in the home is an extra producer. No town in New England had less land to distribute than Boston, but on all allotments women and children received their full proportion; the early allotments of land in Brookline (then part of Boston) were made by "heads," that is, according to the number of people in the family.

It is an interesting study to trace the underlying reason for naming children many of the curious names which were given to the offspring of the first colonists. Parents searched for names of deep significance, for names appropriate to conditions, for those of profound influence—presumably on the child's life. Glory to God and zealous ambition[14] for the child's future were equally influential in deciding selection.


Townes Cradle

Rev. Richard Buck, one of the early parsons in Virginia, in days of deep depression named his first child Mara. This text indicates the reason for his choice: "Call me Mara for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full and the Lord hath brought me home empty." His second child was christened Gershom; for Moses' wife "bare him a son and called his name Gershom, for he said I have been in a strange land." Eber, the[15] Hebrew patriarch, called his son Peleg, "for his days were divided." Mr. Buck celebrated the Pelegging, or dividing of Virginia, into legislative districts by naming his third child Peleg. Many names have a pathos and sadness which can be felt down through the centuries. Dame Dinely, widow of a doctor or barber-surgeon who had died in the snow while striving to visit a distant patient, named her poor babe Fathergone. A little Goodman child, born after the death of her father, was sadly but trustingly named Abiel—God is my father. Seaborn was the name indicative of the introduction into life of one of my own ancestors.

In the old Ropes Bible in Salem is given the reason for an unusual name which often appears in that family; it is Seeth. One of the family was supposed to be dead, having disappeared. On his sudden reappearance a pious Ropes exclaimed in joy, "The Lord seeth not as man seeth, and my child shall be named Seeth." An early example of the name is Seeth Grafton, who became the wife of Thomas Gardner in 1636.

Judge Sewall named one son Joseph,

"In hopes of the accomplishment of the Prophecy of Ezekiel xxxvii. and such; and not out of respect to any Relation or any other Person except the first Joseph."


Judge Sewall again made an entry in his diary after a christening.

"I named my little Daughter Sarah. Mr. Torrey said call her Sarah and make a Madam of her. I was struggling whether to call her Mehetable or Sarah. But when I saw Sarah's standing in the Scripture, viz: Peter, Galatians, Hebrews, Romans, I resolv'd on that suddenly."

Abigail, meaning father's joy, was also frequently given, and Hannah, meaning grace; the history of these two Hebrew women made their names honored of New England Puritans. Zurishaddai, the Almighty is my rock, was bestowed on more than one boy. Comfort, Deliverance, Temperance, Peace, Hope, Patience, Charity, Faith, Love, Submit, Endurance, Silence, Joy, Rejoice, Hoped for, and similar names indicative of a trait of character, a virtue, or an aspiration of goodness, were common. The children of Roger Clap were named Experience, Waitstill, Preserved, Hopestill, Wait, Thanks, Desire, Unite, and Supply. Madam Austin, an early settler of old Narragansett, had sixteen children. Their names were Parvis, Picus, Piersus, Prisemus, Polybius, Lois, Lettice, Avis, Anstice, Eunice, Mary, John, Elizabeth, Ruth, Freelove. All lived to be threescore and ten, one to be a hundred and two years old.


Edward Bendall's children were named Truegrace, Reform, Hoped for, More mercy, and Restore. Richard Gridley's offspring were Return, Believe, and Tremble.

With the exception of Puritanical names, double Christian names were very rare until after the Revolution, as may be seen by examining any document with many signatures; such, for instance, as the Declaration of Independence, or the lists of officers and men in the Continental Army. Return Jonathan Meigs was a notable exception.

There exists in New England a tradition of "groaning-cakes" being made and baked at the birth of a child, to give to visitors. I have found no record of it. The Frenchman, Misson, in his Travels in England, says, "At the birth of their children they (visitors) drink a glass of wine and eat a bit of a certain cake, which is seldom made but upon these occasions." Anna Green Winslow, a Boston schoolgirl, tells of making what she calls "a setting up visit" to a relative who had a baby about four weeks old. She wore her best and most formal attire and says, "It cost me a pistareen to Nurse Eaton for two cakes which I took care to eat before I paid for them." There certainly was a custom of giving money, clothing, or petty trinkets to the nurse at such visits. Judge Sewall[18] frequently writes of these "vails" which he made at the house of his friends. He writes in one case of brewing "groaning-beer," and in his household were held two New England amphidromia. The midwife, nurses, and all the neighboring women who had helped with work or advice during the early days of the child's life were bidden to a dinner. One Sewall baby was scarcely two weeks old when seventeen women dined at the Judge's house, on boiled pork, beef, and fowls; roast beef and turkey; pies and tarts. At another time "minc'd Pyes and cheese" were added. Judge Winthrop's sister, Madam Downing, furnished sack and claret also. A survival of this custom lasted till this century in the drinking of caudle by the bedside of the mother.

A pincushion was for many years and indeed is still in some parts of New England a highly conventional gift to a mother with a young babe.

Poor Robin's Almanack for the year 1676 says:—

"Pincushions and such other knacks
A childbed woman always lacks."



I have seen in different families five of precisely the same pattern and size, all made about the time of the Revolution. One given to a Boston baby, while his new home was in state of siege, bore th[19]e inscription, "Welcome little Stranger, tho' the Port is closed." These words were formed by the heads of pins. Another, about five inches long and three inches wide, is of green figured silk with a flowered vine stuck in pins and the words, "John Winslow, March, 1783, Welcome, Little Stranger." Anna Green Winslow tells of her aunts making one with "a planthorn of flowers" and the name. I[20] have seen one with similar inscription knitted of fine silk and with the name sewed on in steel beads, among which pins were stuck in a graceful pattern.


Indian Cradle

The seventeenth-century baby slept, as his nineteenth-century descendant does, in a cradle. Nothing could be prettier than the old cradles that have survived successive years of use with many generations of babies. In Pilgrim Hall still may be seen the quaint and finely wrought wicker cradle of Peregrine White, the first white child born in Plymouth. This cradle is of Dutch manufacture; and is one of the few authentic articles still surviving that came over on the Mayflower. It was brought over by William White, whose widow married Governor Edward Winslow. A similar wicker cradle may be[21] seen at the Essex Institute in Salem, together with a heavy wooden cradle in which many members of the Townes family of Topsfield, Massachusetts, were rocked to sleep two centuries ago. Judge Sewall bought a wicker cradle for one of his many children and paid sixteen shillings for it. A graceful variant of the swinging cradle is shown in the Indian basket hung at either end from a wooden standard or frame. In this strong basket, fashioned by an Indian mother, many a white child has been swung and sung to sleep. A still more picturesque cradle was made of birch bark, that plentiful material so widely adaptive to household uses, and so deftly manipulated and shaped by the patient squaws.

In these cradles the colonial baby slept, warmly wrapped in a homespun blanket or pressed quilt.

Poor Robin's Almanack for the year 1676 enumerates among a baby's outfit:—

"Blanckets of a several scantling
Therein for to wrap a bantling."

Of these wraps, of the thinner sort, may be named the thin, close-woven, homespun "flannel sheet," spun of the whitest wool into a fine twisted worsted, and woven with a close sley into an even web as enduring as the true Oriental cashmere. The baby's[22] initials were often marked on these sheets, and fortunate was the child who had the light, warm wrappings. My own children had "flannel sheets" that had seen a century or more of use with generations of forbears.


Governor Bradford's Christening Blanket, 1590

A finer coverlet, one of state, the christening[23] blanket, was usually made of silk, richly embroidered, sometimes with a text of Scripture. These were often lace-bordered or edged with a narrow home-woven silk fringe. The christening blanket of Governor Bradford of the Plymouth Colony still exists, whole of fabric and unfaded of dye. It is a rich crimson silk, soft of texture, like a heavy sarcenet silk, and is powdered at regular distances about six inches apart with conventional sprays of flowers embroidered chiefly in pink and yellow, in minute and beautiful cross-stitch. It is distinctly Oriental in appearance, far more so than is indicated by its black and white representation here. Another beautiful silk christening blanket was quilted in an intricate flower pattern in almost imperceptible stitches. These formal wrappings of state were sometimes called bearing-cloths or clothes, and served through many generations. Shakespeare speaks in Henry VI. of a child's bearing-cloth.

A go-cart or standing-stool was a favorite instrument to teach a child to walk. A standing-stool a century old in which Newburyport babies stood and toddled is a rather crude frame of wood with a ledge or narrow table for toys. The method of using a go-cart is shown in this old print taken from a child's book called, Little Prattle over a Book of Prints, published for sixpence in 1801.[24] In the writers of Queen Anne's day frequent references are made to go-carts.


Standing Stool

I find strong evidence that Locke's Thoughts on Education, published in England in 1690, found many readers and ardent followers in the new world. The book is in many old-time library lists in New England, and among the scant volumes of those who had but a single book-shelf or book-box. I have seen abstracts and transpositions of his precepts on the pages of almanacs, the most universally circulated and studied of all eighteenth-century books save the Bible. In contemporary letters evidence is found of the influence of Locke's principles. In the prefaces of Thomas' reprints he is quoted and eulogized. The notions of the English philosopher appealed to American parents because they were, as the author said, "the[25] consideration not what a physician ought to do with a sick or crazy child, but what parents without the help of physic should do for the preservation of an healthy constitution." Crazy here is used in the old-time sense of feeble bodily health, not mental. In these days of hundreds of books on child-study, education, child-culture, and kindred topics, it is a distinct pleasure to read Locke's sturdy sentences; to see how wise, and kindly, and logical he was in nearly all his advices, especially on moral or ethical questions. Even those on physical conditions that seem laughably obsolete to-day were so in advance of the general practices of his day that they are farther removed from the notions of his time than from those of ours. In judging them let us remember Dr. Holmes' lines:—

"Little of all we value here
Wakes on the morn of its hundredth year
Without both looking and feeling queer."

Certainly an existence of two centuries may make us pardon a little queerness in advice.

One of Locke's instructions much thought on in the years his book was so widely read was the advice to wash the child's feet daily in cold water, and "to have his shoes so thin that they might leak and let in water." Josiah Quincy was the suffering subject of some of this instruction; when only three years[26] old he was taken from his warm bed in winter as well as summer (and this in Eastern Massachusetts), carried downstairs to a cellar kitchen and dipped three times in a tub of cold water fresh from the pump. He was also brought up with utter indifference to wet feet; he said that in his boyhood he sat more than half the time with his feet wet and cold, but with no ill results.

Locke also strongly counselled learning dancing, swimming, and playing in the open air. In his diet "flesh should be forborn as long as the boy is in coats, or at least till he is two or three years old"; for breakfast and supper he advises milk, milk-pottage, water-gruel, flummery, and similar "spoon-meat," or brown bread with cheese. If the boy called for victuals between meals, he should have dry bread. His only extra drink should be small-beer, which should be warm; and seldom he should taste wine or strong drink. Locke would not have children eat melons, peaches, plums, or grapes; while berries and ripe pears and apples, the latter especially after October, he deems healthful. The bed should be hard, of quilts rather than of feathers. Under these rigid rules were reared many of our Revolutionary heroes and statesmen.


De Peyster Twins

The adoption of Locke's ideas about the use of cold water, or indeed of any frequent bathing,[27] was perhaps the most radical innovation in modes of living. The English never bathed, in our sense of the word, a complete immersion, nor, I suppose, did our Puritan, Cavalier, or Quaker ancestors. Sewall makes not one reference to anything of the kind, but that is not strange; nor is his omission any proof, negative or positive, for he refers to no personal habits, and very shortly and infrequently to dress. Pepys, the courtier and dandy, tells of rare monumental occasions when he cleaned himself—far too rare, we may judge from side-lights thrown by other of his statements. The Youth's Behavior, an old-time book of etiquette, lays down an assertion that it is a point of wholesomeness to[28] wash one's face and hands as soon as one is up and dressed, and "to comb one's head in time and season, yet not too curiously." Bathing the person in unaccustomed spots was a ticklish proceeding—a water ordeal, to be gravely considered. Mistress Alice Thornton, a Yorkshire dame, records in her account of her life one occasion when she washed her feet, but she was overbold. "Which my mother did believe it was the cause of that dangerous fitt the next day." In the Verney volumes we find that forlorn Verney boy, poor sickly "Mun," wearing a harness for his crooked back till his shirt was black, when the famous surgeon changed the harness, and Mun his shirt, with no thought on the part of either of a bath being a necessity.



In 1630 a ship was sent from England to Massachusetts which was provisioned for three months. Among the stores for the passengers' use were two casks of Malaga and Canary; twenty gallons of aqua-vitæ; forty-five tuns of beer; and for drinking, washing, cooking, bathing, etc., but six tuns of water. The ships sent out to Georgia by Oglethorpe were so scantily supplied with water that it is positive no fresh water could have been used for bathing even in minute amount. The reputation of hidden malevolence which hung around water as a beverage seems to have extended to its use in any[29] form. It was believed to be permeated with minute noxious particles, which in those ante-bacteriological days could not be explained, but which were distinctly appreciated and dreaded.

But these be parlous words. Let us rather show some sympathy for our ancestors. We bathe in well-warmed rooms, often in cold water, but with steaming hot water in ample command at a turn of the hand. Had we to carry all the water for our bathing use from a well whence we laboriously raised it in small amounts, and were we forced to bathe in an icy atmosphere, with cutting draughts striking us on every side, with the basins of water freezing on the hearth in front of a blazing fire, and the juices of the wood freezing at the ends of burning logs, we might not deem our daily bath such an indispensable necessity.

We have heard an advanced thinker like Locke suggest brown bread, cheese, and warm beer as food for young children. What, then, must have been the notions of less thoughtful folk? Doubtless in England such food would have been simple; but in the new world less beer was drank and more milk, which must have proved the salvation of American children. And the plentiful and varied cereal foods, many of them from Indian corn, were a suitable diet for young children. Samp, hominy, suppawn,[30] pone, succotash,—all Indian foods and cooked in Indian ways,—were found in every home in every colony. Baked beans, another Indian dish, were also good food for children. Native and domestic fruits were plentiful, but, with the exception of apples and pears, were not very attractive. The succession of summer's and autumn's berries must have been eagerly welcomed. They were in the rich and spicy plenty offered by a virgin soil.

A curious, rare, and quaintly named English book is owned by Earl Spencer. Its title runs thus:—

"Dyves Pragmaticus. A booke in English metre of the great marchuant man called Dyves Pragmaticus, very pretye for chyldren to rede, whereby they may be the better and more readyer rede and wryte Wares and Implements in this World contayned.... When thou sellest aught unto thy neighbour or byest anything of him deceave not nor oppress him, etc. Imprinted at London in Aldersgate strete by Alexander Lacy dwellynge beside the Wall. The XXV of Aprill, 1563."

It contains a list of sweetmeats for the enticement of children which may be confidently relied on as a full one if we can judge by the exhaustiveness of the lists of other commodities found in the poem:—

"I have Sucket, Surrip, Grene Ginger, and Marmalade,
Bisket, Cumfet, and Carraways as fine as can be made."

[31] A sucket was a dried sweetmeat such as candied orange peel. A caraway was a sweet cake with caraway-seeds.

Apples and caraways were a favorite dish, still served at some of the anniversary feasts of English universities. Comfits were highly flavored, often scented with strong perfumes like musk and bergamot.

Sweetmeats appear to have been plentiful in the colonies from early days. The first native poet of New England wrote complainingly as early as 1675 that—

"From western isles now fruits and delicacies
Do rot maids' teeth and spoil their handsome faces."

Ships in the "Indian trade" brought to the colonies abundance of sugar, molasses, chocolate, ginger, and other dried fruits. These were apparently far more common here than in England; Mr. Ernst says these constant relays of sweets "produced the American sweet-tooth—a wonder." Candied eringo-root, candied lemon-peel, angelica candy, as well as caraway comfits and sugared coriander-seed and dried ginger, were advertised for sale in Boston, and show the taste of the day. In 1731 Widow Bonyet had a notice of her specialties in the Boston News Letter. It has quite the modern ring in its meat jellies for the sick, and home-made preserves,[32] jellies, and sirups. She also made those ancient sweets, macaroons, marchpanes, and crisp almonds. These latter do not appear to be the glazed and burnt almonds of the confectioner, and may have been salted almonds. The only candy Sewall refers to is sugared almonds. He frequently speaks of gifts of oranges, figs, and "raisins of the sun." Raisins were brought into all the colonial ports in vast amounts, and were until this century regarded by children as a great dainty.

Each large city seems to have had some special confectioner or baker who was renowned for special cakes. Boston had Meer's cakes. New York children probably had the greatest variety of cookies, crullers, and various small cakes, as these were distinctly Dutch, and the Dutch vrouws excelled in cake-making.

Strings of rock-candy came from China, but were rivalled by a distinctly native sweet—maple sugar. Equally American appear to us those Salem sweets, namely, Black Jacks and Salem Gibraltars. Base imitations appeared elsewhere, but never equalled the original delights in Salem. Children who were fortunate enough to live in coast towns reaped the sweet fruits of their fathers' foreign ventures. When a ship came into port with eighty boxes of sugar candy on board and sixty tubs of rock-candy, poor indeed was[33] the child who was not surfeited with sweets. There was a sequel, however, to the toothsome feast, a bitter dessert. The ship that brought eighty boxes of sugar candy also fetched a hundred boxes of rhubarb and ten of senna.




Man's earthly Interests are all hooked and buttoned together and held up by Clothes.

Sartor Resartus. Thomas Carlyle, 1833.

Of the dress of infants of colonial times we can judge from the articles of clothing which have been preserved till this day. Perhaps I should say that we can judge of the better garments worn by babies, not their everyday dress; for it is not their simpler attire that has survived, but their christening robes, their finer shirts and petticoats and caps.

Linen formed the chilling substructure of their dress, thin linen, low-necked, short-sleeved shirts; and linen even formed the underwear of infants until the middle of this century. These little linen shirts are daintier than the warmest silk or fine woollen underwear that have succeeded them; they are edged with fine narrow thread lace, hemstitched with tiny rows of stitches, and sometimes embroidered[35] by hand. I have seen a little shirt and a cap embroidered with the coat of arms of the Lux and Johnson families and the motto, "God bless the Babe;" these delicate garments were worn in infancy by the Revolutionary soldier, Governor Johnson of Virginia.


Baptismal Shirt and Mittens of Governor Bradford, 1590

In the Essex Institute in Salem, Massachusetts, are the baptismal shirt and mittens of the Pilgrim Father, William Bradford, second governor of the Plymouth Colony, who was born in 1590. All are of firm, close-woven, homespun linen, but the little mittens have been worn at the ends by the active friction of baby hands, and are patched with colored[36] "chiney" or calico. A similar colored material frills the sleeves and neck. A pair of baby's mitts of fine lace also may be seen at the Essex Institute. These were wrought in the sixteenth century, and the stitches and work are those of the antique Flanders laces. I have seen many tiny mitts knit of silk and mittens of fine linen, hemstitched, worked in drawn work or embroidered, and edged with thread-lace, and also a few mitts of yellow nankeen which must have proved specially irritating to the tiny little hands that wore them.

I have never seen a woollen petticoat that was worn by an infant of pre-Revolutionary days. It may be argued that woollen garments, being liable to ruin by moths, would naturally not be treasured. This argument scarcely is one of force, because I have been shown infants' cloaks of wool as well as woollen garments for older folk, that have been successfully preserved; also beautifully embroidered long cloaks of chamois skin. I think infants wore no woollen petticoats; their shirts, petticoats, and gowns were of linen or some cotton stuff like dimity. Warmth of clothing was given by tiny shawls pinned round the shoulders, and heavier blankets and quilts and shawls in which baby and petticoats were wholly enveloped.


Robert Gibbs, Four and a Half Years Old, 1670

The baby dresses of olden times are either rather[37] shapeless sacques drawn in at the neck with narrow cotton ferret or linen bobbin, or little straight-waisted gowns of state. All were exquisitely made by hand, and usually of fine stuff. But the babies in pioneer settlements a century ago had to share in wearing homespun. It is told of one in a log cabin in a New Hampshire clearing that when the grandmother rode out eighty miles on horseback to see her son's first baby, she shed bitter tears at beholding the child, but a few months old, clad in a gray woollen homespun slip with an apron or tier of blue and white checked linen. The mother, a frontier lass, dressed the infant according to the fashions she was accustomed to.

Nothing could show so fully the costume of children in olden times as their portraits, and a series of such portraits of successive dates will be given in these pages. Many of them are asserted to be by the three well-known artists of colonial days,—Blackburn, Smibert, and Copley; a few are by Peale, Trumbull, and Stuart. I have accepted all family traditions as true, and in many cases believe them to be true, especially since there were few painters of any rank in the community, and no others who could paint portraits such as those which have been preserved. The Gilbert Stuarts and Trumbulls usually have some authentic pedigree. Many of[38] these pictures have no artist's signature and are absolutely valueless as works of art, and probably meritless as likenesses; but as records of costume they are always of interest and historical worth.

There is a certain sweetness in some of these old-time portraits; they are stiff and flat, but some of them have a quaintness that reminds me of the angels of the early Florentine painters. They have little grace of figure, but the details of costume make them pleasing even if they are not beautiful.

The first child's portrait in this series is one of extraordinary interest. It is opposite page 4, and has never before been given to the public. It is the reputed miniature of the Pilgrim Father, Governor Edward Winslow, when a boy about six years of age, which would be in 1602; it is the only miniature in existence of any of the Pilgrims at any age. I have, in deference to the wishes of the Rev. Dr. William Copley Winslow of Boston (to whom I am indebted for it), entitled it the reputed miniature of the child Edward Winslow, though the term expresses neither his belief nor mine; and seems scarcely just to a portrait whose claims to authenticity are far more definite than those of many of the family portraits that have descended to us.


Infant's Mitts, 16th Century

The miniature came to Dr. Winslow from Mrs. Hersey of Pembroke, Massachusetts. She died at[39] the age of eighty-six. Her grandfather assured her that his father (the famous General John Winslow) received the likeness from his father (the grandson of Edward the Pilgrim), and that it was the Pilgrim's likeness as a child. This—through long-lived Winslows—is a record of few retellings; and these were told by folk to be trusted. The Winslows were gentlefolk of ample means, such as were likely to have miniatures painted; and the portrait of Governor Winslow when fifty-six years of age, now in Pilgrim Hall, Plymouth, is the sole one (save this miniature) of any of the Pilgrims. Other[40] strong evidence is the extraordinary resemblance of the child's picture to the "grown-up" portrait, the same brow, contour of face, and other similarity.

There is something in the child's portrait that is singularly suggestive to any one with any historical imagination. The simplicity of the dress and arrangement of the hair show the influence of Puritanism. As I look at it I can fancy, yes, I can plainly see, some little English children, twenty years later standing on that crowded historic ship, looking back with childish serenity at the home they were leaving, and then greeting as cheerfully and trustingly the "sad Plymouth" where they disembarked; and the faces that I see have the broad brow, the flowing hair, the bared neck, and simple dress shown in this miniature.

The next portrait, which faces the title page, shows the costume worn in 1690 by a boy a year or two old; it is a charming and quaint picture of the first John Quincy, who was born in 1689, and who when dying, in 1767, gave his name to his great-grandson, John Quincy Adams, who had just been born. Some have thought the picture that of a sister, Esther Quincy; but to me it has a hard little boy's face, not the features of a delicate girl, and also a boy's hands, and a boy's toy.

Children in America, if gentlefolk, dressed just[41] as children did in England at that date; and boys wore "coats" in England till they were six or seven. One of the most charming of all grandmothers' letters was written by a doting English grandmother to her son, Lord Chief Justice North, telling of the "leaving off of coats" of his motherless little son, Francis Guildford, then six years old. The letter is dated October 10, 1679:—

"Dear Son:

"You cannot beleeve the great concerne that was in the whole family here last Wednesday, it being the day that the taylor was to helpe to dress little ffrank in his breeches in order to the making an everyday suit by it. Never had any bride that was to be drest upon her weding night more handes about her, some the legs, some the armes, the taylor butt'ning, and others putting on the sword, and so many lookers on that had I not a ffinger amongst I could not have seen him. When he was quite drest he acted his part as well as any of them for he desired he might goe downe to inquire for the little gentleman that was there the day before in a black coat, and speak to the man to tell the gentleman when he came from school that there was a gallant with very fine clothes and a sword to have waited upon him and would come again upon Sunday next. But this was not all, there was great contrivings while he was dressing who should have the first salute; but he sayd if old Joan had been here, she should, but he gave it to me to quiett them all. They were very fitt, everything, and he[42] looks taller and prettyer than in his coats. Little Charles rejoyced as much as he did for he jumpt all the while about him and took notice of everything. I went to Bury, and bot everything for another suitt which will be finisht on Saturday so the coats are to be quite left off on Sunday. I consider it is not yett terme time and since you could not have the pleasure of the first sight, I resolved you should have a full relation from

"Yor most affnate Mother
"A North.

When he was drest he asked Buckle whether muffs were out of fashion because they had not sent him one."

This affectionate letter, written to a great and busy statesman, the Lord Keeper of the Seals, shows how pure and delightful domestic life in England could be; but the writer was not a commonplace woman—she was the mother of fourteen children, and had had years of experience with a father-in-law before whom an army of traditional mothers-in-law would pale. She lived through this ordeal and a trying marital experience, and her children rose up and called her blessed. Among her virtues her son Roger dilated at length upon her delightful letter-writing, her "freedom of style and matter," and declared that her letters were among the comforts of her children's lives.


Jane Bonner, Eight Years Old, 1700

To return to the dress of John Quincy: with the[43] exception of the neck of the body of the frock it is much like the dress of grown women of that day. We have existing portraits of Madam Shimpton and Rebecca Rawson of the same date. In both of these, as in this little boy's portrait, the sleeve is the most noticeable feature, with its single slash, double puff drawn in below the elbow and confined with pretty ribbon knots. This sleeve was known as the virago sleeve, and John Quincy's are darker colored than his frock. All three wear loosely tied rather shapeless hoods, such as are seen on the women in the prints of the coronation procession of King William. The boy has a close cap under his hood. His dress is certainly picturesque and distinctive.

A portrait, facing page 36, of another Massachusetts boy, contemporary with John Quincy, is that of Robert Gibbs, the rich Boston merchant. This is plainly marked as being painted when he was four and a half years old, and with the date 1670. He wears the same stiff cuirass as John Quincy, the same odd truncated shoes of buff leather, and has the same masculine swing of the petticoats. Both figures stand on a checker-board floor, four squares deep, with their toes at the same point on the board. Robert Gibbs wears a more boyish collar, or band, as befits a bigger boy. The sleeves are an important feature of his dress, having a pair of long[44] hanging sleeves bordered with fur, which do not show in the print in this book, but are plainly visible in the original portrait. Hanging sleeves were so distinctively the dress of a little child that the term had at that time a symbolic significance, implying childishness both of youth and second childhood. Pepys thus figuratively employs the term. Judge Sewall wrote in old age to a brother whose widowed sister he desired to marry:—

"I remember when I was going from school at Newbury to have sometime met your sisters Martha and Mary in Hanging Sleeves, coming home from their school in Chandlers Lane, and have had the pleasure of speaking to them. And I could find it in my heart now to speak to Mrs Martha again, now I myself am reduc'd to Hanging Sleeves."

This roundabout wooing came to naught. The Judge married Widow Mary Gibbs, relict of this very Robert Gibbs whose childish portrait we have here. The artist who painted this picture may have been Tom Child, who is named by Judge Sewall as the portrait-painter of that day.

A demure and quaint portrait, opposite page 42, is that of Jane Bonner. She was born in 1691, the daughter of Captain John Bonner of Boston, and was married in 1710 to John Ellery. She was[45] about eight or ten years old when the portrait was painted. Crude as is the painting, it gives evident proof that the lace of the stomacher and sleeve frills is of the nature of what is now called rose point.

In the early settlements of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Virginia, sumptuary laws were passed to restrain and attempt to prohibit extravagance in dress. The New England magistrates were curiously minute in description of overluxurious attire, and many offenders were tried and fined. But vain daughters and sons "psisted in fflonting," though ministers joined the lawmakers in solemn warnings and reprehensions. Young girls were fined for silk hoods and immoderate great sleeves, and boldly appeared in court in still richer attire. The Dutch never attempted or wished to simplify the dress of either men or women. In New York dress was ample, substantial, varied in texture, and variegated in color. It ever formed a considerable item in personal property. The children of the Dutch settlers had plentiful and warm clothing, and sometimes very rich clothing, as may be seen in the quaint and interesting picture facing page 26, of twin girls, the two daughters of Abraham De Peyster of New York, and his wife, Margaret Van Cortlandt. They are dressed in red velvet trained gowns, but are barefooted. They were born December 3, 1724, and[46] Eva died in 1729, a month after the portrait was painted. Catherine was married on her eighteenth birthday to John Livingstone, son of the second lord of the manor. Their son had a daughter Catherine, who became the wife of Don Mariano Velasquez de la Cadenas. To their daughters, Mrs. Azoy and Miss Mariana Velasquez, this interesting portrait now belongs.


Infant's Robe, Cap and Christening Blanket

The mother of these twins was the daughter of Jacobus Van Cortlandt and Eva De Vries Philipse. The names of Eva and Catherine have ever been given to the little daughters of these allied families, and are borne to-day by many of their descendants.


Another little girl of Dutch blood was Cathalina Post, who married Zegor Van Santvoord. Her portrait was painted in 1750 when she was fourteen years old, and is now owned by Dr. Van Santvoord of Kingston-on-Hudson, New York. A copy of this quaint old picture faces page 204. It is most interesting in costume; the head-gear showing distinct Dutch influence.

There is a suggestion of earrings in this portrait, and Katherine Ten Broeck, another child of Dutch blood, but three years old, wears earrings. The reproduction of her portrait, given opposite page 192, shows these jewels but dimly, but they are visible in the original oil-painting. She was born in Albany in 1715. The portrait is marked Ætats Sua, 3 Years, 1719. She was married to John Livingstone, and lived to become a stately old dame, receiving formally on New Year's Day her grandchildren, who always greeted her in Dutch learned for the special occasion.

The devastations of two wars (and in some localities three)—destruction by fire and earthquake—have sadly destroyed the cherished relics of many southern homes. From Mrs. St. Julian Ravenel of Charleston, South Carolina, the delightful biographer of that delightful colonial dame, Eliza Lucas Pinckney, come two portraits of children of the Huguenot settlers. The picture facing page 48 of[48] Ellinor Cordes of St. John's, Berkeley County, South Carolina, painted about 1740, shows a lovely little child of French features, and French daintiness of dress, albeit a bright yellow brocaded satin would seem rather gorgeous attire for a girl but two years old. Opposite page 50 is a picture of Daniel Ravenel of Wantoot, St. John's, Berkeley County, South Carolina, who was born in 1760, and was about five years old when this portrait was painted; though he still wears what might be termed a frock with petticoats, there is a decided boyishness in the waistcoat with its silver buttons and lace, and the befrogged overcoat with broad cuffs and wrist ruffles, and a turned-over revers, and narrow linen inner collar. It is an exceptionally pleasing boy's dress for a little child.

Two portraits of Flagg children painted, it is said, by Smibert, must be among his latest portraits, for the baby, Polly Flagg, was born in Boston in 1750, and Smibert died in 1751. The portrait facing page 184 shows, as may be seen, a dear little baby not a year old, in baby dress and cap, clasping a toy. It is marked on the back Mrs. Polly Hurd; for the little girl lived to be the wife and widow of Dr. Wilder of Lancaster, Massachusetts, and of Dr. Hurd of Concord, Massachusetts. Of equal interest is the severely beautiful face of James[49] Flagg, her brother, shown opposite page 188. He was born in 1739, and was still "coats" when this portrait was painted. These portraits are owned by Mrs. Albert Thorndike of Boston, Massachusetts, the great-granddaughter of Griselda Apthorpe Flagg, the sister of these two children.


Ellinor Cordes, Two Years Old, 1740

The portrait of Jonathan Mountfort, given opposite page 58, has a special interest to the art student, since it is a specimen of Copley's early work. The boy was born December 6, 1746, and was seven years old when the portrait was painted. He married Mary Bole, a Newfoundland girl, whose father sent her to a school in Halifax, under the charge of Captain Shepherd of Medford, Massachusetts. Finding Halifax in a state of blockade, the captain took the little girl to Boston. He and his wife were childless and became deeply attached to her and finally adopted her. She became engaged to Dr. Mountfort, and went to visit her parents in Ireland, whither they had removed. On her return, bringing with her the gifts, wardrobe, and household furnishings of a bride of that period, she came into Boston harbor only to be wrecked in sight of the town. The ship's mate swam with her to the lighthouse, and the two were the only ones saved. Captain Shepherd gave her a house and fresh outfit, and she married Dr. Mountfort.[50] They had seven children, but the name of Mountfort is now extinct. Their daughter Elizabeth married Major Thomas Pitts, whose daughter is now Mrs. Farlin of Detroit, Michigan, the present owner of this interesting portrait.


Daniel Ravenel, Five Years Old, 1765

An altogether charming group of children, facing page 54, two sisters and two brothers of Governor Christopher Gore (seventh governor of Massachusetts), was painted about the year 1754, by Copley. The mature little girl of this picture, Frances, married Thomas Crafts, colonel of the regiment of which Paul Revere was lieutenant-colonel in the Revolution. Colonel and Mrs. Crafts were the great-grandparents of the present owners, Miss Julia G. Robins and Miss Susan P. B. Robins. This picture was for a time in the Boston Museum of Art, and on returning it General Loring wrote, "I shall miss the little grown-ups—were there no children in those days?" This look of maturity seems universal to all these portraits. I have photographs of several other groups of children, one of the most charming, that of the Grymes children, now in the Capitol at Richmond, Virginia; but they are all too darkened with age to admit of proper or adequate reproduction, and must be left out of these pages. The baby in the Grymes group is truly a baby, not a "grown-up."



Child's Shoes

The handsomest of all the boy-portraits of colonial days is that of Samuel Pemberton, by Blackburn; it is perfect in feature and expression; though he is but twelve years old he wears a wig. It was painted in 1736, and boys of good family then wore costly wigs. Mr. Freeman of Portland, Maine, had in his book of expenses of the year 1750, such items as these:—

"Shaving my three sons at sundry times.£5. 14s.
  Expenses for James' Wig9.
   "            " Samuel's Wig9.

The three sons—Samuel, James, and William—were aged eleven, nine, and seven years. The shaving[52] was of their heads. Slaves of fashion were parents of that day to bedeck their boys with such rich wigs.

A more exquisite portrait than that of Thomas Aston Coffin, opposite page 222, can scarcely be found. It is painted in Copley's best manner (shown in the highest perfection in the portrait of his daughter Elizabeth). A light-hued satin petticoat-front shows under a rich full-skirted satin over-dress which brushes the ground. The pretty satin sleeves have white under-sleeves and wrist ruffles, but the neck is cut very low and round. The child holds two pigeons by a leash, and a feathered hat is by his side. This portrait was much loved by its late owner, Miss Anne S. Robbins of Boston.

This charming picture of the Pepperell children, facing page 214, was believed to be by Copley, and included in Mr. Perkins' list. At present this authorship is doubted. It is owned by Miss Alice Longfellow of Cambridge, having been bought by her father, the poet, from the owner of the Portsmouth Museum, who had in some singular way acquired it. The children are William, son of the second Sir William Pepperell, and his sister Elizabeth Royal Pepperell, who married Rev. Henry Hutton.

A bright-eyed little girl, Mary Lord, has her portrait, given opposite page 66, hanging in the[53] rooms of the Connecticut Historical Society. She was born in 1702, in Hartford, Connecticut, and married, in 1724, Colonel Joseph Pitkin of Hartford. By her side hangs the picture of Colonel Wadsworth and his son, shown opposite page 316. It is the one which the artist Trumbull took to Sir Joshua Reynolds for advice and comment. He was snubbed with the snappish criticism that "the coat looked like bent tin." Other criticism might be made on the anatomical proportions of the subjects.

Copley's genius is shown in the fine portrait of William Verstile, facing page 210, painted in 1769. There is one little glimpse of this boy's boyhood which has so human an element, is so fully in touch with modern life, that I give it. It is from an old letter written by his mother, during a visit in Boston, where possibly this very portrait was painted. It shows the beginning of tastes which found ample scope in his services in the war of the Revolution.

"Boston, June 11, 1766.

My Dear these leaves me and my friends as I hope they will find you for health. I was obliged to stay a fortnight as I didn't set out till the middle of the week from Weathersfield, was obliged to tarry here a fortnight on account of coming with the Post. We got down safe we got into Boston Wednesday afternoon at four o Clock. The Horse seem'd to enter Boston as free & fresh as when[54] he first set out from home. Mr. Lowder says he is a prime horse. He wasn't galled or fretted in the least but would have come right back again. I was a good deal worried as Billey didn't fill the chaise no more, the horse might have brought three as well as two & not have felt it. I have had but very little Comfort since I have bin here on account of Billey as there's so much powderwork going on among the Children since the Illumination Billey has bin very forward of firing iron guns. Since we've bin here its not only the powder amongst the Children but the wharfes being so neare he's down there continually. Johnny Bradford & Ned & Dan Warner and Billey was down the wharfe together when a boy push'd Dan over & lik'd to bin drown'd & might bin Billey so I can't take much comfort on leaving of him but shall bring him, you needn't be Concern'd about threes coming up as Mr. Hide tells me Billey may ride behind him if he's a mind to."

Billey became a portrait painter himself, and got four guineas apiece for his miniatures. He early showed artistic predilections, and these tastes were well supplied. Interspersed with pumps and hose and hats for Billey are found in his father's purchases "brass deviders," scales, "books for limning," two dozen "hair pencils," and "1 box painter's collurs on glass," which cost twelve shillings.


Gore Children, 1754

I don't know who taught Billey limning. There was a funny book in circulation among students in that day. It was written in serious intent, but its[55] rules read as though they were dictated by Oliver Herford. It was entitled Every Young Man's Companion in Drawing. Here are a few of its instructions to young artists:—

"Make your outlines, which may be mended occasionally.

"From the Elbow to the Root of the Little Finger is Two Noses.

"The Thumb contains a Nose.

"The Inside of Arm to Middle of Arm is Four Noses."

The crowning glory of the Copley portraits is the charming family group opposite page 180, depicting Copley himself, his beautiful wife, his dignified father-in-law, and his lovely children. It is now exhibited in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. This group seems perfect, and the quaint figure of the child Elizabeth Copley, in the foreground, is worthy the brush of Van Dyck.

Colonel John Lewis, one of the old Virginia gentlemen, had two child wards. As befitted young gentlefolk of that day of opulence and extravagance, they had their dress from England. In 1736, when Robert Carter, the younger child, was about nine years old, suits of fine holland, laced, and of red worsted and of green German serge came across seas for him, with laced hats with loops and buttons. When he was twelve years old part of his[56] "winter cloathes" were six pair of shoes and two of pumps, four pair of worked hose and four of thread hose, gloves, hats, and shoe buckles. His sister Betty had a truly fashionable wardrobe, and the stiff, restrictive dress of the times was indicated by the items of stays, hoops, masks, and fans. When "Miss Custis" was but four years old George Washington ordered for her from England packthread stays, stiffened coats, a large number of gloves and masks.

An order for purchases sent to a London agent by Washington in 1761 contains a full list of garments for both his step-children. "Miss Custis" was then six years old. These are some of the items:—

"1 Coat made of Fashionable Silk.

A Fashionable Cap or fillet with Bib apron.

Ruffles and Tuckers, to be laced.

4 Fashionable Dresses made of Long Lawn.

2 Fine Cambrick Frocks.

A Satin Capuchin, hat, and neckatees.

A Persian Quilted Coat.

1 p. Pack Thread Stays.

4 p. Callimanco Shoes.

6 p. Leather Shoes.

2 p. Satin Shoes with flat ties.

6 p. Fine Cotton Stockings.

4 p. White Worsted Stockings.

12 p. Mitts.


6 p. White Kid Gloves.

1 p. Silver Shoe Buckles.

1 p. Neat Sleeve Buttons.

6 Handsome Egrettes Different Sorts.

6 Yards Ribbon for Egrettes.

12 Yards Coarse Green Callimanco."

There is a large-headed portrait of the Custis children which was painted at about this time. A copy of it is shown opposite page 250. While the dress of both children is mature, it is not so elegant as might be expected from the rich garments which were imported for them.

Sir William Pepperell ordered, in 1737, equally costly and formal clothing from England for his little daughter to disport at Piscataquay. Stays and masks are ever on the lists of little gentlewomen. A letter of the day tells of seeing the youthful daughter of Governor Tryon sitting stiffly in a chair, in broad lace collar, with heavy dress, never playing, running, or even walking.

Delicacy of figure and whiteness of complexion were equal fetiches with colonial mammas. Little Dolly Payne, afterward Dolly Madison, wore long gloves, a linen mask, and had a sunbonnet sewed on her head every morning by her devoted mother. Very thin shoes of silk, morocco, or light stuff unfitted little girls for any very active exercise; these[58] were high-heeled. A tiny pair of shoes for a little girl of three are shown on page 51. I have seen children's stays, made of heavy strips of board and steel, tightly wrought with heavy buckram or canvas into an iron frame like an instrument of torture. These had been worn by a little girl five years old. Staymakers advertised stays, jumps, gazzets, costrells, and caushets (which were doubtless corsets) for ladies and children, "to make them appear strait." And I have been told of tin corsets for little girls, but I have never seen any such abominations. One pair of stays was labelled as having been worn by a boy when five years old. There certainly is a suspicious suggestion in some of these little fellows' portraits of whalebone and buckram.

In the sprightly descriptions given by Anna Green Winslow of her own dress we see with much distinctness the little girl of twelve of the year 1771:—

"I was dress'd in my yellow coat, my black bib & apron, my pompedore shoes, the cap my aunt Storer sometime since presented me with blue ribbins on it, a very handsome loket in the shape of a hart, the paste pin my Hon'd Papa presented me with in my cap, my new cloak & bonnet on, my pompedore gloves, and I would tell you they all lik'd my dress very much."... "I was dress'd in my yellow coat, black bib and apron, black feathers on my[59] head, my paste comb, all my paste, garnet, marquasett, and jet pins, together with my silver plume,—my loket rings, black coller round my neck, black mitts, 2 or 3 yards of blue ribbin, striped tucker & ruffels & my silk shoes compleated my dress."


Jonathan Mountfort, Seven Years Old, 1753

It would seem somewhat puzzling to fancy how, with a little girl's soft hair, the astonishing and varied head-gear named above could be attached. Little Anna gives a full description of the way her hair was dressed over a high roll, so heavy and hot that it made her head "itch & ach & burn like anything." She tells of the height of her head-gear:—

"When it first came home, Aunt put it on & my new cap on it; she then took up her apron & measur'd me, & from the roots of my hair on my forehead to the top of my notions, I measur'd above an inch longer than I did downwards from the roots of my hair to the end of my chin."

Her picture, shown facing page 164, is taken from a miniature painted when she was a few years older. The roll is more modest in size, and the decorations are fewer in number. Each year the "head-equipage" diminished, till cropped heads were seen, with a shock of tight curls on the forehead—an incredibly disfiguring mode.


In the chapter upon the school life of girls a letter is given describing the dress of two young girls who were boarding in Boston while they were being taught. There is no doubt that very rich dress was desired, and possibly required of these young scholar-boarders. The oft-quoted letter in regard to Miss Huntington's wardrobe shows the elegance of dress of those schoolgirls. She had twelve silk gowns; but word was sent home to Norwich that a recently imported rich fabric was most suitable for her rank and station; and in answer to the teacher's request the parents ordered the purchase of this elegant dress.

When cotton fabrics from Oriental countries became everywhere and every time worn, children's dress, as likewise that of grown folk, was much reduced in elegance as it was in warmth. Hoops disappeared and heavy petticoats also; the soft slimsy clinging stuffs, suitable only for summer wear, were not discarded in winter. Boys wore nankeen suits the entire year. Calico and chintz were fashioned into trousers and jackets. A little suit is shown, facing page 60, made of figured calico of high colors, which it is stated was worn in 1784. The labels are very exact and the labellers very cautious of the Deerfield Memorial Hall collection, else I should assign this suit to a ten or even twenty years' later[61] date. Children must have suffered sadly with the cold in this age of cotton. Girls' dresses were half low-necked, and were filled in with a thin tucker; separate sleeves were tied in at the arm size, and often long-armed mitts of nankeen or linen took the place of the sleeves.


Boy's Suit of Clothing, 1784

A family of Cary children had several charming portraits painted in London. Two of them are given opposite pages 240 and 246. They note the transitions of costume which came at the approach of the close of the century. The portrait of the boy is interesting in a special point of costume; it shows the abandonment of the cocked hat and adoption of the simpler modern form of head-covering. The little girl, Margaret, has a most roguish expression, which is suggestive of Sir Joshua Reynolds' Girl with the Mouse Trap. The resemblance is even more marked in the portrait of the same child at the age of six, wherein the eyes and half-smile are charmingly engaging; unfortunately the photograph from that portrait is not clear enough for satisfactory reproduction.

A demure little brother and sister were the children of General Stephen Rowe Bradley of Westminster, Vermont, whose portraits face pages 356 and 378. These were painted soon after the Revolution, and show the definite changes in dress which[62] set in with other Republican institutions. At this date there began to be worn a special dress for both boys and girls. Until then, as soon as a boy put on breeches he dressed precisely like his father—in miniature. By tradition Marie Antoinette was the first who had a special dress made for her young son. And sadly was she reviled for dressing her poor little Dauphin in jacket and trousers instead of flapped coat, waistcoat, and knee-breeches.




First mark whereof scholes were erected,
And what the founders did intend.
And then doe thou thy study directe
For to obtain unto that end.
Doubtless this was all their meaning,
To have their countrie founded
With all poyntes of honest lernynge
Whereof the public weal had nede.
The Last Trumpet. R. Crowley, 1550.

No greater contrast of conditions could exist than between the school life of what we love to call the "good old times," and that of the far better times of to-day. Poor, small, and uncomfortable schoolhouses, scant furnishings, few and uninteresting books, tiresome and indifferent methods of teaching, great severity of discipline, were the accompaniments of school days until this century. Yet with all these disadvantages children obtained an education, for an education was warmly desired; no difficulties could chill that deep-lying[64] longing for learning. "Child," said one noble New England mother of the olden days, "if God make thee a good Christian and a good scholar, 'tis all thy mother ever asked for thee."

Not only did parents strive for the education of their children, but the colonies assisted by commanding the building and maintaining of a school in each town where there was a sufficient number of families and scholars. Rhode Island was the only New England colony that did not compel the building of schoolhouses and the education of children.

So determined was Massachusetts to have schools that in 1636, only six years after the settlement of Boston, the General Court, which was composed of representatives from every settlement in the Bay Colony, and which was the same as our House of Representatives to-day, gave over half the annual income of the entire colony to establish the school which two years later became Harvard College. This event should be remembered; it is distinguished in history as the first time any body of people in any country ever gave through its representatives its own money to found a place of education.

In Virginia schoolhouses were few for over a century. Governor Berkeley, an obstinate and narrow-minded Englishman, wrote home to England in 1670,


"I thank God there are in Virginia no free schools nor printing, and I hope we shall not have, for learning hath brought disobedience and heresy into the world." Some Virginia gentlemen did not agree with him, however, and gave money to try to establish free schools for poor children. A far greater hindrance to the establishment of schools than the governor's stupid opposition, was the fact that there was no town or village life in Virginia; the houses and plantations were scattered; previous to the year 1700 Jamestown was the only Virginia town, and it was but a petty settlement. Williamsburg was not even laid out; a few seaports had been planned, but had not been built. Hence the children of wealthy planters were taught by private tutors at home, or were sent to school in England.

Occasionally, as years passed on, there might be found in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, what was called an old-field school, the uniting of a few neighbors to hire a teacher, too often a poor one, like the "hedge-teachers" of Europe, for a short term of teaching, in a shabby building placed on an old exhausted tobacco field.

In one of these old-field schools kept by Hobby—sexton, pedagogue, and "the most conceited man in three parishes"—George Washington obtained most of his education. A daily ride on horseback for a[66] year to a similar school ten miles away, and for another year a row morning and night even in roughest weather across the river to a Fredericksburg teacher, ended his school career when he was thirteen; but he had then made a big pile of neatly written manuscript school books, which may now be seen in the Library at Washington; and he had acquired a passionate longing to be educated, which accompanied him through life.

An "advisive narrative" sent from America to the Bishop of London, toward the end of the seventeenth century, says:—

"This lack of schools in Virginia is a consequence of their scattered planting. It renders a very numerous generation of Christian's Children born in Virginia, who naturally are of beautiful and comely Persons, and generally of more ingenious Spirits than those in England, unserviceable for any great Employment in Church or State."


Mary Lord, 1710 circa

This statement was not wholly correct; for though Virginians were not usually fitted to be parsons, they certainly proved suited to state and government. When the war of the Revolution broke out, the noblest number of great statesmen, orators, and generals, who certainly were men of genius if not of conventional school education, came from the southern provinces. These brilliant Virginians were[67] strong evidence and proof of what the great orator, Patrick Henry, called, in his singular pronunciation, "naiteral pairts"; which he declared was of more account than "all the book-lairnin' on the airth." Different climates and surroundings soon bring out different traits in the same race of people. The warm climate and fruitful soil in the southern colonies developed from English stock an easy-living race who needed the great stimulus and noble excitement of the Revolution to exhibit the highest qualities of brain. The Puritan minister, Cotton Mather, said in 1685, in a sermon before the Governor and Council in Massachusetts, "The Youth in this Country are verie Sharp and early Ripe in their Capacities." Thus speedily had keen New England air and hard New England life developed these characteristic New England traits.

New England at that time was controlled, both in public and private life, by the Puritan ministers, who felt, as one of them said, that "unless school and college flourish, church and state cannot live." The ministers were accredited guardians of the schools; and when Boston chose five school inspectors to visit the Latin School with the ministers, many of the latter were highly incensed, and Increase Mather refused to go with these lay visitors.

By a law of Massachusetts, passed in 1647, it[68] was ordered that every town of fifty families should provide a school where children could be taught to read and write; while every town of one hundred householders was required to have a grammar school. In the Connecticut Code of Laws of 1650 were the same orders. These schools were public, but were not free; they were supported at the expense of the parents.

In 1644 the town of Salem ordered "that a note be published the next lecture day, that such as have children to be kept at school, would bring in their names, and what they will give for a whole year; and also that if any poor body hath children or a child to be put to school, and not able to pay for their schooling, that the town will pay it by a rate." Lists of children were made out in towns, and if the parents were well-to-do, they had to pay whether their children attended school or not.

Land was sometimes set aside to support partly the school; it was called the "school-meadows," or "school-fields," and was let out for an income to help to pay the teacher. This was a grant made on the same principle that grants were made to physicians, tanners, and other useful persons, not to establish free education. At a later date lotteries were a favorite method of raising money for schools.

It was not until about the time of the Revolution[69] that the modern signification of the word "free"—a school paid for entirely by general town taxes—could be applied to the public schools of most Massachusetts towns, and when the schools of Boston were made free, that community stood alone for its liberality not only in America, but in the world.

The pay was given in any of the inconvenient exchanges which had to pass as money at that time,—in wampum, beaver skins, Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, or any country product known as "truck." It is told of a Salem school, that one scholar was always seated at the window to study and also to hail passers-by, and endeavor to sell to them the accumulation of corn, vegetables, etc., which had been given in payment to the teacher.

The logs for the great fireplace were furnished by the parents or guardians of the scholars as a part of the pay for schooling; and an important part it was in the northern colonies, in the bitter winter, in the poorly built schoolhouses. Some schoolmasters, indignant at the carelessness of parents who failed to send the expected load of wood early in the winter, banished the unfortunate child of the tardy parent to the coldest corner of the schoolroom. The town of Windsor, Connecticut, voted "that the committee be empowered to exclude[70] any scholar that shall not carry his share of wood for the use of the said school." In 1736 West Hartford ordered every child "barred from the fire" whose parents had not sent wood.


"Erudition" Schoolhouse, Bath, Maine, 1797

The school laws of the State of Massachusetts, framed in 1789, crystallized all the principles, practice, and hopes that had been developed by a hundred and fifty years of school life. The standard set by these laws was decidedly lower than those of colonial days. Where a permanent English school had been imperative, six months schooling a year might be permitted to take its place; where every town of a hundred families had had a grammar school in which boys could be fitted for the university, only towns of two hundred families were[71] compelled to have such schools. Thus the open path to the university was closed in a hundred and twenty Massachusetts towns.

Judge Thomas Holme composed in grammarless rhyme, in 1696, a True Relation of the Flourishing State of Philadelphia. In it he says:—

"Here are schools of divers sorts
To which our youth daily resorts,
Good women, who do very well
Bring little ones to read and spell,
Which fits them for writing; and then
Here's men to bring them to their pen,
And to instruct and make them quick
In all sorts of Arithmetick."

These statements were scarcely carried out in fact; in Pennsylvania educational advantages were few, and among some classes education was sorely hampered. The Quakers did not encourage absolute illiteracy, but they thought knowledge of the "three R's" was enough; they distinctly disapproved of any extended scholarship, as it fostered undue pride and provoked idleness. The Germans were worse; their own historians, the Calvinist and Lutheran preachers, Schlatter and Muhlenberg, are authority; there were among them a few schools of low grade; but the introduction of the public school system among the Germans was resisted by[72] indignation meetings and litigation. The Tunkers degenerated so that they did not desire a membership of educated persons, and would have liked to destroy all books but religious ones. It was said by these German settlers that schooling made boys lazy and dissatisfied on the farms, and that religion would suffer by too much learning. As Bayard Taylor puts it in his Pennsylvania Farmer:—

"Book learning gets the upper hand and work is slow and slack,
And they that come long after us will find things gone to wrack."

School-teachers in the middle and southern colonies were frequently found in degraded circumstances; many of them were redemptioners and exported convicts. I have frequently noted such newspaper advertisements as this from the Maryland Gazette:—

"Ran away: A Servant man who followed the occupation of a Schoolmaster, much given to drinking and gambling."

So universal was drunkenness among schoolmasters that a chorus of colonial "gerund-grinders" might sing in Goldsmith's words:—

"Let schoolmasters puzzle their brains
With grammar and nonsense and learning,
Good liquor, I stoutly maintain,
Gives genius a better discerning."


hand note

Scotland furnished the best and the largest number of schoolmasters to the colonies.

The first pedagogue of New Amsterdam was one[74] Adam Roelantsen, and he had a checkered career. His name appears with frequency on the court records of the little town both as plaintiff and defendant. He was as active in slandering his neighbors as they were in slandering him; though, as Miss Van Vechten observes, "It is hard to see what fiction worse than truth could have been invented about him." In spite of the fact that "people did not speak well of him," he married well. But his misdemeanors continued and he was finally sentenced to be flogged. We may contrast the legal records of this gentleman's shortcomings with his duties as set forth in his commission, one of which was "to set others a good example as becometh a devout, pious, and worthy consoler of the sick, church clerk, precentor, and schoolmaster."

Some of the contracts under which teachers were hired still exist. One for the teacher at the Dutch settlement of Flatbush, Long Island, in 1682, is very full in detail, and we learn much of the old-time school from it. A bell was rung to call the scholars together at eight o'clock in the morning, the school closed for a recess at eleven, opened again at one, closed at four; all sessions began and closed with prayer. On Wednesdays and Saturdays the children were taught the questions and answers in the catechism and the common prayers. The master was[75] paid (usually in wheat or corn) for "a speller or reader" three guilders a quarter, for "a writer" four guilders. He had many other duties to perform besides teaching the children. He rung the church bell on Sunday, read the Bible at service in church, and led in the singing; sometimes he read the sermon. He provided water for baptisms, bread and wine for communion, and in fact performed all the duties now done by a sexton, including sweeping out the church. He delivered invitations to funerals and carried messages. Sometimes he dug the graves, and often he visited and comforted the sick.

Full descriptions exist of the first country schoolhouses in Pennsylvania and New York. They were universally made of logs. Some had a rough puncheon floor, others a dirt floor which readily ground into dust two or three inches thick, that unruly pupils would purposely stir up in clouds to annoy the masters and disturb the school. The bark roof was a little higher at one side that the rain might drain off. Usually the teacher sat in the middle of the room, and pegs were thrust between the logs around the walls, three or four feet from the ground; boards were laid on these pegs; at these rude desks sat the older scholars with their backs to the teacher. Younger scholars sat on blocks or benches of logs. Until this century many[76] schoolhouses did not have glass set in the small windows, but newspapers or white papers greased with lard were fastened in the rude sashes, or in holes cut in the wall, and let in a dim light. At one end, or in the middle, a "cat and clay" chimney furnished a fireplace. When the first rough log cabin was replaced by a better schoolhouse the hexagonal shape, so beloved in those states for[77] meeting-houses, was chosen, and occasionally built in stone. A picture of one still standing and still used as a schoolhouse, in Raritan, New Jersey, is here shown. It retained its old shelf desks till a few years ago.


"Old Harmony" Schoolhouse, Raritan Township, Hunterdon Co., New Jersey

In a halting way schools in America followed the customs of English schools. The "potation-penny," or "the drinking," was collected in schools in the colonies. In England a considerable sum was often gathered for this treat at the end of the term; but the pennies were doled out more slowly in American schools. Young Joseph Lloyd (of the family of Lloyds Neck on Long Island), in the year 1693, paid out a shilling and sixpence "to the Mistris for feast and wine." A century later, in a school in New Hampshire, the children diligently saved the wood-ashes in the big fireplace and sold them to a neighboring potash works for their treat. They had ample funds to buy rum, raisins, and gingerbread for all who came to the treat, including the ministers and deacons. It was of this school, doubtless attended largely by Scotch-Irish children, that the teacher recorded that the boys, even the youngest, wore leather aprons, while many of the girls took snuff. Another old English custom, the barring-out, occasionally was known here, especially in Pennsylvania.


The furnishing of the schoolrooms was meagre; there were no blackboards, no maps, seldom was there a pair of globes. Though Mr. MacMaster asserts that pencils were never used even in the early years of our Federal life, his statement is certainly a mistake. Faber's pencils were made as early as 1761. Peter Goelet advertised lead pencils for sale in New York in 1786, with india rubbers, and as early as 1740 they were offered among booksellers' wares in Boston for threepence apiece, both black and red lead. Judge Sewall had one; perhaps it was not our common lead pencil of to-day.

In 1771 we find the patriot Henry Laurens writing thus to his daughter Martha, "his dearest Patsey," when she was about twelve years old.

"... I have recollected your request for a pair of globes, therefore I have wrote to Mr. Grubb to ship a pair of the best 18 inch, with caps, and a book of directions, and to add a case of neat instruments, and one dozen Middleton's best pencils marked M. L. When you are measuring the surface of the globe remember you are to cut a part in it, and think of a plum pudding and other domestic duties. Your father,

"Henry Laurens."

Still lead pencils were not in common use even in city schools till this century. The manuscript[79] arithmetics or "sum-books" which I have seen were always done in ink. Many a country boy grew to manhood without ever seeing a lead pencil.


Samuel Pemberton, Twelve Years Old, 1736

In country schools even till the middle of this century copy-books were made of foolscap paper carefully sewed into book shape, and were ruled by hand. For this children used lead plummets instead of pencils. These plummets were made of lead melted and cast in wooden moulds cut out by the ever ready jackknife and were then tied by a hempen string to the ruler. These plummets were usually shaped like a tomahawk, and carefully whittled and trimmed to a sharp edge. Slightly varied shapes were a carpenter's or a woodcutter's axe; also there were cannon, battledores, and cylinders.

Paper was scarce and too highly prized for children to waste; it was a great burden even to ministers to get what paper they needed for their sermons, and they frequently acquired microscopic hand-writing for economy's sake. To the forest the scholars turned for the ever plentiful birch bark, which formed a delightful substitute to cipher on instead of paper. Among the thrifty Scotch-Irish settlers in New Hampshire and the planters in Maine, sets of arithmetic rules were copied by each child on birch bark and made a substantial text-book. Rolls of birch bark resembling in shape the parchment[80] rolls of the Egyptians and lead plummets seem too ancient in appearance to have been commonly employed in schools within a century in this country.

It has been asserted that school slates were not used till this century. Noah Webster says distinctly in a letter written about the schools of his childhood, that "before the Revolution and for some years after no slates were used in common schools." S. Town, attending school in Belchertown, Massachusetts, in 1785, says that slates were unknown.

I have seen but a single reference to them in America and that is in such an ingenuous schoolboy's letter I will quote it in full:—

"To Mr. Cornelius Ten Broeck

att Albany.

"Stamford, the 13th Day of October, 1752.

"Honored Fethar,

"These fiew Lines comes to let you know that I am in a good State of Health and I hope this may find you also. I have found all the things in my trunk but I must have a pare of Schuse. And mama please to send me some Ches Nutts and some Wall Nutts; you please to send me a Slate, and som pensals, and please to send me some smok befe, and for bringing my trunk 39, and for a pare of Schuse 9 shillings. You please to send me a pare[81] of indin's Schuse, You please to send me som dride corn. My Duty to Father and Mother and Sister and to all frinds.

"I am your Dutyfull Son,

"John Ten Broeck.

"Father forgot to send me my Schuse."

In an advertisement of an English bookseller of the year 1737, one James Marshal of the Bible and Sun at Stockton are named Slate Pocket Books, Slates, and Slate Pens. The first slates were frameless, and had a hole pierced at one side on which a pencil could be hung, or by which they could be suspended around the neck. An old gentleman told me that he distinctly recalled the first time he ever saw slates in school. The master brought in a score that had been ordered to supply his pupils. He asked if any scholar had a bit of string. My old gentleman thrust his hand in his pocket and confidingly brought out his best fishing-line. The master took it, calmly cut it into twenty lengths, each long enough to go around the neck of a child and permit the slate when hung on it to lie loosely in front of his chest. It was a bitter blow to the boy to witness the cruel and unexpected severing of his beloved treasure, and he never forgot it.


Nathan Hale Schoolhouse

In England for centuries existed the custom of sending young children to the houses of friends,[82] relatives, or people of some condition and state to be educated. Young boys were placed in noblemen's households to learn carving, singing, and good manners. Young girls went to learn housewifery, needlework, and etiquette. The work of these children in what would to-day be deemed the duties of upper servants was given in payment for their board and tuition. The housemistress gained a large corps of orderly, intelligent servitors; and there was no disgrace in that day in being called a servant. In the time of Henry VII. these customs were universal. The Italian Relation of England, of that date, is most severe upon English parents, saying this putting away of young children, though[83] under the guise of having them taught good manners, was done really through lack of affection, through greediness. The Paston Letters, the Verney Papers, give ample proof that children of good families were thus banished.

A remnant of this custom of the "putting-forth" of children lingered in the colonies. A good education could generally be obtained only in the schools in larger towns, or in the households of learned men. The New England ministers almost universally eked out their meagre incomes by taking young lads into their homes to educate.

When at school in Andover, Josiah Quincy boarded with the minister. The boys, eight in number, slept in a large chamber with four beds, two boys in each. The fare was ample but simple; of beef, pork, plentiful vegetables, badly baked rye and Indian bread. The minister had white bread as the brown bread gave him the heart-burn.

Children went, if possible, to the house of a kinsman. An old letter in the Mather Papers is from Mary Hoar. She writes "To her Esteemed Sister, Mistris Bridget Hoar at Cambridge." One sentence runs thus:—

"I presume our sonn John is left in the hands of a stranger; which may be of some evel consequence if not timely prevented and therefore I doe look upon myself as[84] conserned (soe far as I am capable to diserne ye evel at such a distance) to make my request to you to prevail with my brother to receive him into your own family that he may be under your own ey. And to goe to school in the same town, where you cannot doubtless be destitute of a good schoolmaster, which might be of singular benefit to ye child."

Bridget Hoar was the daughter of Lady Alice Lisle, the martyr, and the wife of Leonard Hoar, president of Harvard College.

Another letter similar in kindly intent is this written to Henry Wolcott, at Windsor, Connecticut;—

"Salem, April ye 6th, 1695.

"Dear Bror:

"I cannot but be much concerned for your children's disadvantage in your remote livinge (tho' God has blest you with a good Estate which is likely to descend to them) the want of Education being the grand Calamity of this Country, but you have always Been offered no small advantages, besides their diet free, wch I deeme the Leest. I can only Renew the same offer which I have made tenn yeares since and annually, that if you please to send either of your daughters to my House they shall find they are welcome to spend the Summer or a year or as long as you and they please; and they will be equally welcome to my Wife, also I think it may be to your Sons' advantage to hasten downe to the Colledge while our nephew Price is[85] there, and if you have anything by you, that you designe for their Cloathing, let it be made up here; Else it will not be fit for either of them to ware. Also for the next Winter if your Son be minded to Retire for a month or two, as many do in the Dead Season, he may come to my howse, and Mr. Noyes, I am sure, will be very ready to oblige him, with the use of his Library and Stoody, he being Remooved to his own House next weeke, and has a Tenant in one end of it that dresses his Victualls. I shall not Enlarge only to assure you that I shall be happie wherein I may be serviceable to my father's Children and theirs. I am Sir your very Aff. Bror & Servant,

"J. Wolcott."


Old Brick Schoolhouse, Norwich, Connecticut


It was the custom of the wealthy planters of the island of Barbadoes to send their children to New England, usually to Boston, to school. At one time a special school flourished there for the education of the sons of these planters. Several volumes of letter books of Hon. Hugh Hall, Judge of the Admiralty, are in the possession of his descendant, Miss Margaret Seymour Hall. He had occasional charge of his younger brothers and sisters, who were sent to Boston from the Barbadoes, and his letters frequently refer to them. Many of these letters are to and from his grandmother, Madam Lydia Coleman, the daughter of the old Indian fighter, Captain Joshua Scottow. She had three husbands,—Colonel Benjamin Gibbs, Attorney General Anthony Checkley, and William Coleman.

Richard Hall came to Boston in 1718. His older brother writes:—

"This Northern Air seems well calculated for Richard's Temperament of body and I am Psuaded he never appeared so Fat and Sanguine while in Barbados. I am taking all Imaginable Care in Placing him at our best Grammar School and have desir'd the Master and Usher to treat him with the highest Tenderness, Intimating he has a Capacity to go thro ye Exercises of ye School & that a Mild and good Natur'd Treatment will best prevail; who have promised me their Pticular favour to him."


A few months later the grandmother writes in various letters:—

"Richard is well in health, and minds his Learning and likes our Cold country better than I do.... I delivered Richard's Master, Mr. Williams, 25 lbs. Cocoa. I spoke with him a little before and asked him what he expected for Richard's schooling. He told me 40 shillings a yeare. As for Richard since I told him I would write to his Father he is more orderly, & he is very hungry, and has grown so much yt all his Clothes is too Little for him. He loves his book and his play too. I hired him to get a Chapter of ye Proverbs & give him a penny every Sabbath day, & promised him 5 shillings when he can say them all by heart. I would do my duty by his soul as well as his body.... I hope he does consider ye many inconveniences yt will attend him if he wont be ruled. He has grown a good boy and minds his School and Lattin and Dancing. He is a brisk Child & grows very Cute and wont wear his new silk coat yt was made for him. He wont wear it every day so yt I don't know what to do with it. It wont make him a jackitt. I would have him a good husbander but he is but a child. For shoes, gloves, hankers & stockens, they ask very deare, 8 shillings for a paire & Richard takes no care of them.... I put him in mind of writing but he tells me he don't know what to write."

Then comes Richard's delightful effusion:—


"Boston, New England, July 1, 1719.

"Honoured Sir:

"I would have wrote now but to tell ye Truth I do not know what to write for I have not had a letter from you since Capt. Beale, and I am very sorry I can't write to you but I thought it my Duty to write these few lines to you to acquaint you of my welfare, and what proficiency I have made in Learning since my Last to you. My Master is very kind to me. I am now in the Second Form, am Learning Castalio and Ovid's Metamorphosis & I hope I shall be fit to go to College in two Years time which I am resolved to do, God willing and by your leave, I shant detain you any longer but only to give my Duty to your good self & Mother & love to my Brothers & Sisters. Please to give my Duty to my God father and to my Uncle & Aunt Adamson & love to Cozen Henry,

"Your dutifull Son,
"Richard Hall."

Soon another letter goes to the father:—

"Richard wears out nigh 12 paire of shoes a year. He brought 12 hankers with him and they have all been lost long ago; and I have bought him 3 or 4 more at a time. His way is to tie knottys at one end & beat ye Boys with them and then to lose them & he cares not a bit what I will say to him."

Mothers and guardians of the present day who have sent boys off to the boarding school with ample[89] store of neatly marked underclothing, stockings, and handkerchiefs, and had them return at the holidays nearly bereft of underwear, bearing stockings with feet existing only in outlines, and possessing but two or three handkerchiefs, these in dingy wads at the bottom of coat-pockets and usually marked with some other scholar's name—such can sympathize with poor, thrifty old lady Coleman, when naughty Richard tied his good new handkerchiefs in knots, beat his companions, and recklessly threw the knotted strings away.




A godly young Woman of special parts, who was fallen into a sad infirmity, the loss of her understanding and reason, which had been growing upon her divers years by occasion of giving herself wholly to reading and writing and had written many books. Her husbande was loath to grieve hir; but he saw his error when it was too late. For if she had attended to her household affairs, and such things as belong to women, and not gone out of hir way and calling to meddle in such things as are proper for men whose minds are stronger, she had kept hir Wits, and might have improved them usefully and honorably.

     — History of New England. Governor John Winthrop, 1640.

While the education of the sons of the planters in all the colonies was bravely provided and supported, the daughters fared but poorly. The education of a girl in book learning was deemed of vastly less importance than her instruction in household duties. But small arrangement was made in any school for her presence, nor was it thought desirable that she should have any very varied knowledge. That she should read and write was certainly satisfactory, and cipher a[91] little; but many girls got on very well without the ciphering, and many, alas! without the reading and writing.

There had been a time when English girls and English gentlewomen had eagerly studied Latin and Greek; and wise masters, such as Erasmus and Colet and Roger Ascham had told with pride of their intelligent English girl scholars; but all that had passed away with the "good old times." In the seventeenth century English gentlemen looked with marked disfavor on learned women.

Sir Ralph Verney, who adored his own little daughters to the neglect of his sons, and was tender, devoted, and generous to every little girl of his acquaintance, wrote about the year 1690 to a friend:—

"Let not your girle learn Latin or short hand; the difficulty of the first may keep her from that Vice, for soe I must esteem it in a woeman; but the easinesse of the other may bee a prejudice to her; for the pride of taking sermon noates hath made multitudes of woemen most unfortunate. Had St. Paul lived in our Times I am confident hee would have fixt a Shame upon our woemen for writing as well as for speaking in church."

Occasionally an intelligent father would carefully teach his daughters. President Colman of Harvard[92] was such a father. He gave what was called a profound education to his daughter Jane. A letter of his to her, when she was ten years old, is worthy of full quotation:—

"My dear Child:—

"I have this morning your Letter which pleases me very well and gives me hopes of many a pleasant line from you in Time to come if God spare you to me and me to you. I very much long to see your Mother but doubt whether the weather will permit to-day. I pray God to bless you and make you one of his Children. I charge you to pray daily, and read your Bible, and fear to sin. Be very dutiful to your Mother, and respectful to everybody. Be very humble and modest, womanly and discreet. Take care of your health and as you love me do not eat green apples. Drink sparingly of water, except the day be warm. When I last saw you, you were too shamefaced; look people in the face, speak freely and behave decently. I hope to bring Nabby in her grandfather's Chariot to see you. The meanwhile I kiss your dear Mother, and commend her health to the gracious care of God, and you with her to His Grace. Give my service to Mr. A. and family and be sure you never forget the respect they have honoured you with.

"Your loving father.

"Boston, Aug. 1, 1718."

Jonathan Edwards was an only son with ten sisters. In 1711, when he was eight years old, five of[93] these sisters had been born. The father, Timothy Edwards, went as chaplain on an expedition to Canada. His letters home show his care and thought for his children, girls and boy:—

"I desire thee to take care that Jonathan dont lose what he hath learnt, but that as he hath got the accidence and about two sides of Propria quæ maribus by heart, so that he keep what he hath got I would therefore have him say pretty often to the girls. I would also have the girls keep what they have learnt of the Grammar, and get by heart as far as Jonathan hath learnt; he can keep them as far as he had learnt. And would have both him and them keep their writing, and therefore write much oftener than they did when I was at home. I have left paper enough for them which they may use to that end."

Conditions remained the same throughout the century. The wife of President John Adams, born in 1744, the daughter of a New England minister of good family and social position, doubtless had as good an education as any girl of her birth and station. She writes in 1817:—

"My early education did not partake of the abundant opportunities which the present days offer, and which even our common country schools now afford. I never was sent to any school. I was always sick. Female education, in the best families, went no further than writing and[94] arithmetic; in some few and rare instances music and dancing."

On another occasion she said that female education had been everywhere neglected, and female learning ridiculed, and she speaks of the trifling, narrow, contracted education of American women.

Girls in the other colonies fared no better than New England damsels. The instruction given to girls of Dutch and English parentage in New York was certainly very meagre. Mrs. Anne Grant wrote an interesting account of her childhood in Albany, New York, in a book called Memoir of an American Lady. The date was the first half of the eighteenth century. She said:—

"It was at that time very difficult to procure the means of instruction in those districts; female education was in consequence conducted on a very limited scale; girls learned needlework (in which they were indeed both skilful and ingenious), from their mothers and aunts; they were taught, too, at that period to read, in Dutch, the Bible, and a few Calvinistic tracts of the devotional kind. But in the infancy of the settlement few girls read English; when they did they were thought accomplished; they generally spoke it, however imperfectly, and a few were taught writing."

William Smith wrote in 1756 that the schools in New York then were of the lowest order, the[95] teachers ignorant, and women, especially, ill-educated. It was the same in Virginia. Mary Ball, the mother of George Washington, wrote from her Virginia home when fifteen years old:—

"We have not had a schoolmaster in our neighborhood till now in nearly four years. We have now a young minister living with us who was educated at Oxford, took orders and came over as assistant to Rev. Kemp. The parish is too poor to keep both, and he teaches school for his board. He teaches Sister Susie and me and Madam Carter's boy and two girls. I am now learning pretty fast."

The Catechism of Health, an old-time child's book, thus summarily and definitely sets girls in their proper places:—

"Query: Ought female children to receive the same education as boys and have the same scope for play?

"Answer: In their earlier years there should be no difference. But there are shades of discretion and regards to propriety which judicious and prudent guardians and teachers can discern and can adjust and apply."

We seldom find any recognition of girls as pupils in the early public schools. Sometimes it is evident that they were admitted at times not devoted to the teaching of boys. For instance, in May, 1767, a school was advertised in Providence for teaching writing and arithmetic to "young ladies." But the[96] girls had to go from six to half-past seven in the morning, and half-past four to six in the afternoon. The price for this most inconvenient and ill-timed schooling was two dollars a quarter. It is pathetic to read of a learning-hungry little maid in Hatfield, Massachusetts, who would slip away from her spinning and knitting and sit on the schoolhouse steps to listen with eager envy to the boys as they recited within. When it became popular to have girls attend public schools, an old farmer on a country school committee gave these matter-of-fact objections to the innovation. "In winter it's too far for girls to walk; in summer they ought to stay at home to help in the kitchen."

The first school for girls only, where they were taught in branches not learned in the lower schools, was started in 1780 in Middletown, Connecticut, by a graduate of Yale College named William Woodbridge. Boston girls owed much to a famous teacher, Caleb Bingham, who came to that city in 1784 and advertised to open a school where girls could be taught writing, arithmetic, reading, spelling, and English grammar. His school was eagerly welcomed, and it prospered. He wrote for his girl pupils the famous Young Lady's Accidence, referred to in another chapter, and under his teaching "newspapers were to be introduced in the school[97] at the discretion of the master." This is the first instance—I believe in any country—of the reading of newspapers being ordered by a school committee.

There were always dame-schools, which were attended by small boys and girls. Rev. John Barnard, of Marblehead, Massachusetts, was born in 1681 and was educated in Boston. He wrote in his old age a sketch of his school life. He says:—

"By that time I had a little passed my sixth year I had left my reading school, in the latter part of which my mistress had made me a sort of usher appointing me to teach some children that were older than myself as well as some smaller ones. And in which time I had read my Bible through thrice. My parents thought me to be weakly because of my thin habit and pale countenance."

The penultimate sentence of this account evidently accounts for the ultimate. It also appears that this unnamed school dame practised the monitorial system a century or more before Bell and Lancaster made their claims of inventing it.

The pay of women teachers who taught the dame-schools was meagre in the extreme. The town of Woburn, Massachusetts, reached the lowest ebb of salary. In 1641 a highly respected widow,[98] one Mrs. Walker, kept a school in a room of her own house. The town agreed to pay her ten shillings for the first year; but after deducting seven shillings for taxes, and various small amounts for produce, etc., she received finally from the town one shilling and three pence for her pedagogical work.

Elizabeth Wright was the first teacher in the town of Northfield, Massachusetts. She taught a class of young children at her own house for twenty-two weeks each summer; for this she received fourpence a week for each child. At this time she had four young children of her own. She took all the care of them and did all the work of her household, made shirts for the Indians for eight-pence each, and breeches for Englishmen for one shilling sixpence a pair, and wove much fine linen to order. For the summer school at Franklin, Connecticut, in 1798, "a qualified woman teacher" had but sixty-seven cents a week pay. Men teachers who taught both girls and boys usually had better pay; but Samuel Appleton, in later life the well-known Boston merchant and philanthropist, was my great-grandfather's teacher in the year 1786. His pay was his board, lodging, and washing, and sixty-seven cents per week, and it was deemed liberal and ample.


Elizabeth Storer, Twelve Years Old, 1738

There were always in the large cities small classes [99]where favored girls could be taught the rudiments of an education, and there were many private teachers who taught young misses. Boston gentlewomen from very early days had a mode of eking out a limited income by taking little girls and young ladies from country homes, especially from the southern colonies and the Barbadoes, to board while they attended these classes and recited to these teachers.

Many honored New England names appear among the advertisements of those desiring boarders. Mrs. Deming wrote to her niece, Anna Green Winslow, telling her of two boarders she had:—

"Had I time and spirits I could acquaint you of an expedition the two sisters made to Dorchester, a walk begun at sunrise last Thursday morning—dress'd in their dammasks, padusoy, gauze, ribbins, flapetts, flowers, new white hats, white shades, and black leather shoes (Paddington's make) and finish'd, journey, garments, orniments and all quite finish'd on Saturday before noon (mud over shoes) never did I behold such destruction in so short a space—bottom of padusoy coat fring'd quite around, besides places worn entire to floss, and besides frays, dammask from shoulders to bottom not lightly soil'd, but as if every part had rub'd tables and chairs that had long been us'd to wax mingl'd with grease.

"I could have cried, for I really pitied em—nothing left fit to be seen. They had leave to go, but it never[100] entered anyone's tho'ts but their own to be dressed in all (even to loading) of their best. What signifies it to worry ourselves about beings that are and will be just so? I can, and do, pity and advise, but I shall get no credit by such-like. The eldest talks much of learning dancing, musick (the spinet and guitar) embroidery, dresden, the French tongue, &c. The younger with an air of her own advis'd the elder when she first mention'd French to learn first to read English and was answer'd, 'Law, so I can well eno' a'ready.' You've heard her do what she calls reading, I believe. Poor Creature! Well! we have a time of it!"

There is a beautifully written letter in existence of Elizabeth Saltonstall, sent to her young daughter Elizabeth on July 26, 1680, when the latter was away from home and attending school. It abruptly begins:—


"Having an opportunity to send to you, I could doe no less than write a few lines to mind you that you carry yourself very respectively and dutyfully to Mrs. Graves as though she were your Mother: and likewise respectively and loveingly to the children, and soberly in words and actions to the servants: and be sure you keep yourself diligently imployed either at home or at school, as Mrs. Graves shall order you. Doe nothing without her leave, and assure yourself it will be a great preservative from falling into evill to keep yourself well imployed. But with all and in the first place make it your dayly work to pray[101] earnestly to God that he would keep you from all manner of evil. Take heed of your discourse at all times that it be not vaine and foolish but know that for every idle word you must certainly give account another day. Be sure to follow your reading, omit it not one day: your father doth propose to send you some coppies that so you may follow your wrighting likewise. I shall say no more at present but only lay a strict charge upon you that you remember and practise what I have minded you of: and as you desire the blessing of God upon you either in soul or body be careful to observe the counsell of your parents and consider that they are the words of your loving and affectionate mother,

"Eliz. Saltonstall.

Present my best respects to Mistris Graves. Your brothers remember their love to you."

Old Madam Coleman, who had somewhat of a handful in her grandson, Richard Hall, during his school days, was given charge of his sister Sarah, in 1719, to care for and guard while she received an education. When Missy arrived from the Barbadoes she was eight years old. She brought with her a maid. The grandmother wrote back cheerfully to the parents that the child was well and brisk, as indeed she was. All the very young gentlemen and young ladies of Boston Brahmin blood paid her visits, and she gave a feast at a child's dancing party[102] with the sweetmeats left over from her sea-store. Her stay in her grandmother's household was surprisingly brief. She left unceremoniously and unbidden with her maid, and went to a Mr. Binning's to board; she sent home word to the Barbadoes that her grandmother made her drink water with her meals. Her brother wrote at once in return to Madam Coleman:—

"We were all persuaded of your tender and hearty affection to my Sister when we recommended her to your parental care. We are sorry to hear of her Independence in removing from under the Benign Influences of your Wing & am surprised she dare do it without our leave or consent or that Mr. Binning receive her at his house before he knew how we were affected to it. We shall now desire Mr. Binning to resign her with her waiting maid to you and in our Letter to him have strictly ordered her to Return to your House. And you may let her know before my Father took his departure for London he desired me peremptorily to enjoin it, and my Mother and myself back it with our Commands, which we hope she wont venture to refuse or disobey."

But no brother could control this spirited young damsel. Three months later a letter from Madam Coleman read thus:—

"Sally wont go to school nor to church and wants a nue muff and a great many other things she don't need. I tell her fine things are cheaper in Barbadoes. She says she will[103] go to Barbados in the Spring. She is well and brisk, says her Brother has nothing to do with her as long as her father is alive."

Hugh Hall wrote in return, saying his daughter ought to have one room to sleep in, and her maid another, that it was not befitting children of their station to drink water, they should have wine and beer. The grandmother was not offended with him or the children, but shielded the boy from rebuke when he was sent from one school to another; said proudly he was "a child of great parts, ye best Dancer of any in town," and could learn as much in an hour as another in three hours. The bill for the dancing lessons still exists. Richard's dancing lessons for a year and a quarter cost seven pounds. Sally's for four months, two pounds. Four months' instruction in writing (and pens, ink, and paper) was one pound seven shillings and four pence. The entrance fee for dancing lessons was a pound apiece. Sally learned "to sew, floure, write, and dance." The brisk child grew up a dashing belle, and married Major John Wentworth, brother of Governor Benning Wentworth. Good Brother Richard writes:—

"I heartily rejoice in Sally's good fortune and hope Molly will have her turn also, but it would not have been fair to let Sally dance barefoot which I hear Molly expected would have been done."


Sister Molly married first Adam Winthrop and then Captain William Wentworth. The two sisters were left widows and lived till great old age in the famous old Wentworth House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, both dying in 1790.

Mistress Agan Blair of Williamsburg, Virginia, married one Colonel John Banister of Petersburg; her letters, even in old age, are full of a charming freedom of description and familiarity of language, even amounting to slang, which are very unusual in correspondence of that day. They are printed in the History of the Blair and Braxton Families. She writes to her sister, Mrs. Braxton, of the latter's little daughter, Betsey, in the year 1769:—

"Betsey is at work for you. I suppose she will tell you to-morrow is Dancing Day, for it is in her Thoughts by Day & her dreams by Night. Mr. Fearson was so surprised to find she knew so much of the Minuet step, and could not help asking if Miss had never been taught. So you will find she is likely to make some progress that way. Mr. Wray by reason of business has but lately taken her in hand tho' he assures me a little practice is all she wants; her Reading I hear twice a day. And when I go out she is consigned over to my Sister Blair: we have had some few Quarrels and one Battle. Betsey and her Cousin Jenny had been fighting for several days successively & was threatened to be whipt for it as often but they did not regard[105] us. Her Mamma & self thought it necessary to let them see we were in earnest—if they have fought since we have never heard of it. She has finish'd her work'd Tucker, but ye weather is so warm that with all ye pains I can take with clean hands and so forth she cannot help dirtying it a little. I do not observe her to be fond of negroes company, nor have I heard lately of any bad words; chief of our Quarrels is for eating of those green Apples in our garden and not keeping the head smooth.... I have had Hair put on Miss Dolly but find it is not in my power of complying with my promise in giving her Silk for a Sacque and Coat. Some of our pretty Gang broke open a Trunk in my Absence and stole several Things of which the Silk makes a part. So imagine Betsey will petition you for some. I am much obliged for the care you have taken to get all my Duds together, I cannot find you have neglected putting up anything for Betsey."

It will readily be seen from all these letters that whether the little girl was taught at home or in a private school, to "sew, floure, write, and dance" were really the chief things she learned, usually the only things, save deportment and elegance of carriage. To attain an erect and dignified bearing growing girls were tortured as in English boarding schools by sitting in stocks, wearing harnesses, and being strapped to backboards. The packthread stays and stiffened coats of "little Miss Custis"[106] were made still more unyielding by metal and wood busks; the latter made of close-grained heavy wood. These were often carved in various designs or with names and verses, or ornamented with drawings in colored inks, and made a favorite gift.


Carved Busks

All these constrainments and accessories contributed to a certain thin-chested though erect appearance,[107] which is notable in the portraits of girls and women painted in the past century.

The backboard certainly helped to produce an erect and dignified carriage, and was assisted by the quick, graceful motions used in wool-spinning. The daughter of the Revolutionary patriot General Nathanael Greene stated to her grandchildren that in her girlhood she sat every day with her feet in stocks, strapped to a backboard. She was until the end of her long life a straight-backed elegant dame.

Many of the portraits given in this book plainly show the reign of the backboard. The portrait of Elizabeth Storer, facing page 98, is perhaps the best example. It is authenticated as having been painted by Smibert when the subject was but twelve years old, but she is certainly a most mature-faced child.

Another straight-backed portrait, opposite page 108, is the famous one immortalized in rhyme by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, that of "Dorothy Q.," the daughter of Judge Edmund Quincy. The poet's lines are more simply descriptive than any prose.

"Grandmother's mother: her age, I guess
Thirteen summers or something less,
Girlish bust, but womanly air;
Smooth square forehead with uprolled hair.
[108] Lips that lover has never kissed,
Taper fingers and slender wrist.
Hanging sleeves of stiff brocade,
So they painted the little maid."
"Who the painter was none may tell,
One whose best was not over well;
Hard and dry it must be confessed,
Flat as a rose that has long been pressed.
Yet in her cheek the hues are bright,
Dainty colors of red and white;
And in her slender shape are seen
Hint and promise of stately mien."

It would be no effort of the imagination to stretch the poet's "thirteen summers or less" to thirty summers.


"Dorothy Q." "Thirteen Summers," 1720 circa

Of associate interest is the portrait of Elizabeth Quincy, her sister, facing page 112. The faces, hair, and dress are similar, but the parrot is replaced by an impossible little dog. Elizabeth is somewhat fairer to look upon. Dorothy is certainly "nothing handsome." On the back of the portrait is written this inscription: "It pleased God to take Out of Life my Honor'd and dearly Belov'd Mother, Mrs Elizabeth Wendell, daughter to Honble Edmund Quincy, Esqr. March, 1746, aged 39 Years." Her brother Edmund Quincy married her husband's sister Elizabeth (thus the two Elizabeths[109] exchanged surnames), and Dorothy Q. married Edward Jackson.

The desire of girls and women to be ethereal and slender, delicate and shrinking, began over a century ago, but reached a climax in the early years of this century. To effect this, severe measures were taken in girls' schools. Dr. Holmes wrote in jest, but in truth too:—

"They braced my aunt against a board
To make her straight and tall,
They laced her up, they starved her down,
To make her light and small.
They pinched her feet, they singed her hair,
They screwed it up with pins—
Oh, never mortal suffered more
In penance for her sins."

Though Madam Coleman, a Boston Puritan, told so proudly of her grandchildren's dancing, that accomplishment, or rather integral part of a little lass's education, had not been quietly promoted in that sober city. In early years both magistrates and ministers had declaimed against it.

In 1684 Increase Mather preached a strong sermon against what he termed "Gynecandrical Dancing or that which is commonly called Mixt or Promiscuous Dancing of Men and Women, be they elder or younger Persons together." He called it[110] the great sin of the Daughters of Zion, and he bursts forth:—

"Who were the Inventors of Petulant Dancings? Learned men have well observed that the Devil was the First Inventor of the impleaded Dances, and the Gentiles who worshipped him the first Practitioners of this Art."

Of course he could not be silent as to the dancings of Miriam and David in the Bible, but disposed of them summarily thus, "Those Instances are not at all to the Purpose." Preaching against dancing was as futile as against wig-wearing; "Horrid Bushes of Vanity" soon decked every head, and gay young feet tripped merrily to the sound of music in every village and town. Dancing could not be repressed in an age when there was so little other excitement, so great physical activity, and so narrow a range of conversation; and after a time "Ordination-balls" were given when a new minister was ordained.

Dancing was a pleasant accomplishment, and a serious one in good society. The regard of it as a formal function is proved by the story the Marquis de Chastellux told of the Philadelphia Assembly. A young lady who was up in a country dance spoke for a moment to a friend and thus forgot her turn. The Master of Ceremonies, Colonel Mitchell, immediately came to her side and said severely: "Give[111] over, Miss. Take care what you are about. Do you think you came here for your pleasure?"

It was a much more varied art than is ordinarily taught to-day. Signor Sodi taught rigadoons and paspies in Philadelphia; John Walsh added the Spanish fandango. Other modish dances were "Allemand vally's, De la cours, Devonshire jiggs, Minuets." Complicated contra-dances were many in number and quaint in name: The Innocent Maid, A Successful Campaign, Priest's House, Clinton's Retreat, Blue Bonnets, The Orange Tree.

A letter from an interesting little child shows that dancing was deemed part of a "liberal education."

"Philadelphia, March 30, 1739.

"Honour'd Sir:

"Since my coming up I have entered with Mr. Hackett to improve my Dancing, and hope to make such Progress therein as may answer to the Expense, and enable me to appear well in any Public Company. The great Desire I have of pleasing you will make me the more Assiduous in my undertaking, and I arrive at any degree of Perfection it must be Attributed to the Liberal Education you bestow on me.

"I am with greatest Respect, Dear Pappa,
"Yr dutiful Daughter,
"Mary Grafton.

"Rchd Grafton, Esq.,
New Castle, Delaware."


We have much contemporary evidence to show that music, as a formulated study, was rarely taught till after the Revolution. But there never was a time in colonial life when music was not loved and clung to with a sentiment that is difficult of explanation, but must not be underrated.

Dr. John Earle gives in his Microcosmographie, the character of a Puritan woman, or a "shee-precise Hypocrite," saying "shee suffers not her daughters to learne on the Virginalls, because of their affinity with the Organs," yet I find Judge Sewall, a true Puritan, taking his wife's virginals to be repaired. I supposed she played psalm tunes on them. Spinets and harpsichords were brought to wealthy citizens. Copies of old-time music show how very elementary were the performances on these instruments. Listeners were profoundly moved at the sound, but it would seem far from inspiring to-day.

"The notes of slender harpsichords with tapping, twinkling quills,
Or carrolling to a spinet with its thin, metallic thrills."


Elizabeth Quincy Wendell, 1720 circa

Even the "new Clementi with glittering keys" gave but a tinny sound. Girls "raised a tune," however, to these far from resonant accompaniments, and sung their ballads and sentimental ditties, unhampered by thoughts of technique and methods[113] and schools. Many of these old musical instruments are still in existence. The harpsichord bought for "little Miss Custis" is in its rightful home at Mount Vernon.

By Revolutionary times, girls' boarding schools had sprung into existence in large towns, and certainly filled a great want. One New England school, haloed with romance, was kept by Mrs. Susanna Rawson, who was an actress, the daughter of an English officer, and married to a musician. She was also a play-writer and wrote one novel of great popularity, Charlotte Temple. Eliza Southgate Bowne gives some glimpses of the life at this school in her letters. She was fourteen years when she thus wrote to her father:—

"Hon. Father:

"I am again placed at school under the tuition of an amiable lady, so mild, so good, no one can help loving her; she treats all her scholars with such tenderness as would win the affection of the most savage brute. I learn Embroiderey and Geography at present, and wish your permission to learn Musick.... I have described one of the blessings of creation in Mrs. Rawson, and now I will describe Mrs. Lyman as the reverse: she is the worst woman I ever knew of or that I ever saw, nobody knows what I suffered from the treatment of that woman."

This Mrs. Lyman kept a boarding school at[114] Medford; eight girls slept in one room, the fare was meagre, and the education kept close company with the fare.

The Moravian schools at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, were widely popular. President John Adams wrote to his daughter of the girls' school that one hundred and twenty girls lived in one house and slept in one garret in single beds in two long rows. He says, "How should you like to live in such a nunnery?" Eliza Southgate Bowne wrote a pretty account of this school:—

"The first was merely a sewing school, little children and a pretty single sister about 30, with her white skirt, white short tight waistcoat, nice handkerchief pinned outside, a muslin apron and a close cap, of the most singular form you can imagine. I can't describe it. The hair is all put out of sight, turned back, and no border to the cap, very unbecoming and very singular, tied under the chin with a pink ribbon—blue for the married, white for the widows. Here was a Piano forte and another sister teaching a little girl music. We went thro' all the different school rooms, some misses of sixteen, their teachers were very agreeable and easy, and in every room was a Piano."

She also tells of the great dormitory; the beds of singular shape, high and covered; a single hanging-lamp lighted at night, with one sister walking patrol.

Though the education given to girls in these[115] boarding schools was not very profound, they had at the close of the school year a grand opportunity of "showing-off" in a school exhibition. Mary Grafton Dulany wrote when thirteen years old to her father, from a Philadelphia school:—

"I went to Madame B.s exhibition. There were five Crowns, two principal for Eminence in Lessons, and Virtue. They were crowned in great style in the Assembly Rooms in the presence of 500 Spectators."

Mrs. Quincy wrote of a school which she attended in 1784, of what she termed "the breaking up":—

"A stage was erected at the end of the room, covered with a carpet, ornamented with evergreens and lighted by candles in gilt branches. Two window curtains were drawn aside from the centre before it and the audience were seated on the benches of the schoolroom. The 'Search after Happiness,' by Mrs. More, 'The Milliner,' and 'The Dove,' by Madame Genlis were performed. In the first I acted Euphelia, one of the court ladies, and also sung a song intended in the play for one of the daughters of Urania, but as I had the best voice it was given to me. My dress was a pink and green striped silk, feathers and flowers decorated my head; and with bracelets on my arms and paste buckles on my shoes I thought I made a splendid appearance. The only time I ever rode in a sedan chair was on this occasion, when after being dressed at home, I was conveyed in one to Miss Ledyard's residence. Hackney coaches were then unknown in New[116] York. In the second piece I acted the milliner and by some strange notion of Miss Ledyard's or my own was dressed in a gown, cap, handkerchief and apron of my mother's, with a pair of spectacles to look like an elderly woman—a proof how little we understood the character of a French milliner. When the curtain was drawn, many of the audience declared it must be Mrs. Morton herself on the stage. How my mother with her strict notions and prejudices against the theatre ever consented to such proceedings is still a surprise to me."

All parents did not approve of those exhibitions. Major Dulany wrote with decision to his daughter that he lamented the boldness and over-assurance which accompanied any success in such performances, and which proceeded, he deemed, from callous feeling.

These plays were merely a revival of an old fashion when English school children took part in miracle plays or mysteries. In the seventeenth century schoolmasters took great pride in writing exhibition plays for their pupils. Dreary enough these acts or interludes are. One forced all the characters to act "anomalies of all the chiefest parts of grammar"—oh! the poor lads that therein played their parts!




To those who are in years but Babes I bow
My Pen to teach them what the Letters be,
And how they may improve their A. B. C.
Nor let my pretty Children them despise.
All needs must there begin, that would be wise,
Nor let them fall under Discouragement,
Who at their Hornbook stick, and time hath spent,
Upon that A. B. C, while others do
Into their Primer or their Psalter go.
A Book for Boys and Girls, or Country Rhimes for Children. John Bunyan, 1686.

The English philosopher, John Locke, in his Thoughts concerning Education, written in 1690, says the method of teaching children to read in England at that time was always "the ordinary road of Horn-book, Primer, Psalter, Testament, and Bible." These, he said, "engage the liking of children and tempt them to read." The road was the same in New England, but it would hardly be called a tempting method.

The first book from which the children of the[118] colonists learned their letters and to spell, was not really a book at all, in our sense of the word. It was what was called a hornbook. A thin piece of wood, usually about four or five inches long and two inches wide, had placed upon it a sheet of paper a trifle smaller, printed at the top with the alphabet in large and small letters; below were simple syllables such as ab, eb, ib, ob, etc.; then came the Lord's Prayer. This printed page was covered with a thin sheet of yellowish horn, which was not as transparent as glass, yet permitted the letters to be read through it; and both the paper and the horn were fastened around the edges to the wood by a narrow strip of metal, usually brass, which was tacked down by fine tacks or nails. It was, therefore, a book of a single page. At the two upper corners of the page were crosses, hence to read the hornbook was often called "reading a criss-cross row." At the lower end of the wooden back was usually a little handle which often was pierced with a hole; thus the hornbook could be carried by a string, which could be placed around the neck or hung by the side.


Hornbook owned by Mrs. Anne Robinson Minturn

When, five years ago, was published my book entitled Customs and Fashions in Old New England, I wrote that I did not know of the preservation of a single hornbook in America; though for many years eager and patient antiquaries, of English and[119] of American blood, had vainly sought in American historical collections, in American libraries, in American rural homes, for a true American hornbook; that is, one studied by American children of colonial times. The publication of my statement has made known to me three American hornbooks. The first is the shabby little treasure owned by Mrs. Anne Robinson Minturn of Shoreham, Vermont, found hidden under the dusty eaves of a Vermont garret. The illustration shows its exact size. On the back is a paper coarsely stamped in red with a portrait of Charles II., king of England, on horseback. This may indicate its age, but not its exact date. The young colonist who owned it was by this print taught loyalty to the Crown, though in a far land.

The second hornbook is owned by Miss Grace L. Gordon of Flushing, Long Island. It is a family heirloom, having come to its present owner through a great-uncle who was born in 1782, and stated that it was used by his father, who was born in 1736. The tablet is of oak, and the back is covered with a red paper stamped with the design of a double-headed eagle. The third, owned by Mrs. John W. Norton of Guildford, Connecticut, is almost precisely like Miss Gordon's, and is equally well preserved.



Hornbook owned by Miss Gordon

From these shabby little relics and from thousands of their ill-printed, but useful kinsfolk, childish lips in America first read aloud the letters, pointed firmly out by a knitting needle in some dame's[121] hand. Undisturbed by kindergarten inductions and suggestions, unbewildered by baleful processes and diagrams, unthreatened by scientific principles of instruction, did the young colonists stoutly shout their a-b abs, did they spell out their prayer, did they read in triumphal chorus their criss-cross row. Isn't it strange that these three lonely little ghosts of old-time schooling should be the only representatives of their regiments of classmates? Wouldn't it seem that tender association, or miserly hoarding, or even forgetful neglect would have made some greater salvage from the vast number of hornbooks sent to this country in the century after its settlement; that by intent or accident many scores would have survived? But these are all; three little battered oaken backs and stubby handles, three faded paper slips, a splintered sheet or two of horn, a few strips of brass tape, a score of tiny hand-wrought nails—all poor things enough, but shaping themselves into precious and treasured relics. Another of their kindred, a penny hornbook, proved its present value at a sale in London in 1893, by fetching the far from ignoble sum of sixty-five pounds.

One of these little hornbooks filled in its single self what has become a vast item in public school expenses. As Mr. Martin wittily expresses it, "it[122] was in embryo all that the Massachusetts statutes now designate by the formal phrase 'text-books and supplies.'"

The knitting needle of the schooldame could be dignified by the pompous name of fescue, a pointer; and something of that nature, a straw, a pin, a quill, a skewer of wood, was always used to direct children's eyes to letter or word.

There certainly were plenty of these humble little engines of instruction in America; old Judge Sewall had them for his fourteen children at the end of the seventeenth century, as we know from his diary; he wrote in 1691 of his son Joseph going to school "his cousin Jane accompanying him, carrying his horn-book." Waitstill Winthrop sent them to his little Connecticut Plantation nieces in 1716. It is told of one zealous Puritan minister that hating the symbolism of the cross he blotted it out of the criss-cross row of a number of hornbooks imported to Boston.


Back of Hornbook

"Gilt horns" were sold in Philadelphia with Bibles and Primers, as we learn from the Pennsylvania Gazette of December 4, 1760, and in New York in 1753, so says the New York Gazette of May 14, of that year. Pretty little lesson-toys, these gilded horns must have proved, but not so fine as the hornbooks of silver and ivory used by young[123] misses of quality in England. Scores of pictures by seventeenth-century artists—on canvas and glass—show demure little maids and masters with hanging hornbooks. Even the pictures of the Holy Family[124] show the infant Christ, hornbook in hand, tenderly taught by the Virgin Mother.

The hornbook was called by other names, horn-gig, horn-bat, battledore-book, absey-book, etc.; and in Dutch it was the a-b-boordje. They were worked in needlework, and written in ink, and stamped on tin and carved in wood, as well as printed, and Prior tells in rhyme of a hornbook, common enough in England, which must have proved eminently satisfactory to the student.

"To master John the English maid
A horn-book gives of gingerbread;
And that the child may learn the better,
As he can name, he eats the letter."

To this day in England, at certain Fairs and in Kensington bake-shops, these gingerbread hornbooks are made and sold in spite of the solemn warning of British moralists—"No liquorish learning to thy babes extend." Still

"All the letters are digested,
Hateful ignorance detested."

I have seen in New England what were called "cookey-moulds," which were of heavy wood incised with the alphabet, were of ancient Dutch manufacture, and had been used for making those "koeckje" hornbooks.


The Royal Battledore


The sight of an old hornbook must always be of interest to any one of any power of imagination or of thoughtful mind, who can read between the irregular lines, the ill-shapen letters, its true significance as the emblem, the well-spring of English education and literature. This thought of the symbolism of the hornbook is expressed in quaint words on the back of a shabby battered specimen of questionable age in the British Museum:—

"What more could be wished for even by a literary Gourmand under the Tudors than to be able to Read and Spell; to repeat that holy Charm before which fled all unholy Ghosts, Goblins, or even the Old Gentleman himself, to the very bottom of the Red Sea; to say that immortal Prayer which seems Heaven to all who ex animo use it; and to have those mathematical powers by knowing units, from which spring countless myriads."

For a fuller account of the hornbook, readers should go to the History of the Hornbook, by Andrew W. Tuer, two splendid volumes forming one of the most interesting and exhaustive accounts of any special educational topic that has ever been written.

The printed cardboard battledore was a successor of the hornbook. This was often printed on a double fold of stiff card with a third fold or flap lapping[126] over like an old pocket-book. These battledores were issued in such vast numbers that it is futile to attempt even to allude to the myriad of publishers. An affine of the hornbook is seen in the wooden "reading-boards" which were used a hundred years ago in Erasmus Hall, the famous old academy built in 1786 in Flatbush, Long Island. It is still standing and still used for educational purposes. These "reading-boards" are tablets of wood, fifteen inches long, covered on either side with time-yellowed paper printed in large letters with some simple reading-lesson. The old fashioned long s in the type proves their age. Through a pierced hole a loop of string suspended these boards before a class of little scholars, who doubtless all read in chorus. Similar ones bearing the alphabet are still used in Cornish Sunday-schools. They were certainly used in Dutch schools, two centuries ago, as the illustrations of old Dutch books prove.


"My New Battledore"

A prymer or primer was specifically and ecclesiastically before and after the Reformation in England a book of private devotions. As authorized by the Church, and written or printed partially or wholly in the vernacular, it contained devotions for the hours, the Creed, Lord's Prayer, Ten Commandments, some psalms and certain instructions as to the elements of Christian knowledge. These little[127] books often opened with the criss-cross row or alphabet arranged hornbook fashion, hence the term primer naturally came to be applied to all elementary books for children's use. A, B, C, the Middle-English name for the alphabet in the forms apsey, abce, absie, etc., was also given to what we now call a primer. Shakespeare called it absey-book. The list in Dyves Pragmaticus runs:—


"I have inke, paper and pennes to lode with a barge,
Primers and abces and books of small charge,
What Lack you Scollers, come hither to me."


Reading Board. Erasmus Hall

The book which succeeded the hornbook in general use was the New England Primer. It was the most universally studied school-book that has ever been used in America; for one hundred years it was the school-book of America; for nearly another hundred years it was frequently printed and much used. More than three million copies of this New England Primer were printed, so declares its historian, Paul Leicester Ford. These were studied by many more millions of school-children. All of us whose great-grandparents were American born may be sure that those great-grandparents, and their fathers and mothers and ancestors before them learned to read from one of these little books. It was so religious in all its teachings and suggestions that it has been fitly called the "Little Bible of New England."

It is a poorly printed little book about five inches long and three wide, of about eighty pages. It contains the alphabet, and a short table of easy syllables, such as a-b ab, e-b eb, and words up to those of six syllables. This was called a syllabarium. There were twelve five-syllable words; of these five were abomination, edification, humiliation, mortification, and[129] purification. There were a morning and evening prayer for children, and a grace to be said before meat. Then followed a set of little rhymes which have become known everywhere, and are frequently quoted. Each letter of the alphabet is illustrated with a blurred little picture. Of these, two-thirds represent Biblical incidents. They begin:—

"In Adam's fall
We sinned all,"

and end with Z:—

"Zaccheus he
Did climb a tree
His Lord to see."

In the early days of the Primer, all the colonies were true to the English king, and the rhyme for the letter K reads:—

"King Charles the Good
No man of blood."

But by Revolutionary years the verse for K was changed to:—

"Queens and Kings
Are Gaudy Things."

Later verses tell the praise of George Washington. Then comes a series of Bible questions and answers; then an "alphabet of lessons for youth," consisting of verses of the Bible beginning successively with A, B, C, and so on. X was a difficult initial letter, and had[130] to be contented with "Xhort one another daily, etc." After the Lord's Prayer and Apostle's Creed appeared sometimes a list of names for men and women, to teach children to spell their own names. The largest and most interesting picture was that of the burning at the stake of John Rogers; and after this a six page set of pious rhymes which the[131] martyr left at his death for his family of small children.


"Mr. John Rogers, Minister of the Gospel in London, was the first Martyr in Queen Mary's Reign, and was burnt at Smithfield, February 14th 1554. His Wife with nine small Children, and one at her Breast, following him to the Stake; with which sorrowful Sight he was not in the least daunted, but with wonderful Patience died courageously for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


John Rogers

After the year 1750, a few very short stories were added to its pages, and were probably all the children's stories that many of the scholars of that day ever saw. It is interesting to see that the little prayer so well known to-day, beginning "Now I lay me down to sleep," is usually found in the New England Primer of dates later than the year 1737. The Shorter Catechism was, perhaps, the most important part of this primer. It was so called in contrast to the catechism in use in England called The Careful Father and Pious Child, which had twelve hundred questions with answers. The Shorter Catechism had but a hundred and seven questions, though some of the answers were long. Usually another catechism was found in the primer, called Spiritual Milk for Babes. It was written by the Boston minister, John Cotton, and it had but eighty-seven questions with short answers. Sometimes a Dialogue between Christ, Youth, and the Devil was added.

The Shorter Catechism was the special delight of all New Englanders. Cotton Mather called it a "little watering pot" to shed good lessons. He begged writing masters to set sentences from it to be copied by their pupils; and he advised mothers[132] to "continually drop something of the Catechism on their children, as Honey from the Rock." Learning the catechism was enforced by law in New England, and the deacons and ministers visited and examined families to see that the law was obeyed. Thus it may plainly be seen that this primer truly filled the requisites of what the Roxbury school trustees called "scholastical, theological, and moral discipline."




The most worthless book of a bygone day is a record worthy of preservation. Like a telescopic star, its obscurity may render it unavailable for most purposes, but it serves in hands which know how to use it to determine the places of more important bodies.

A. de Morgan, 1847.

When any scholar could advance beyond hornbook and primer he was ready for grammar. This was not English grammar, but Latin, and the boy usually began to study it long before he had any book to con. A bulky and wretched grammar called Lilly's was most popular in England. Locke said the study of it was a religious observance without which no scholar was orthodox. It named twenty-five different kinds of nouns and devoted twenty-two pages of solid print to declensions of nouns; it gave seven genders, with fifteen pages of rules for genders and exceptions. Under such a régime we can sympathize with Nash's outburst, "Syntaxis and prosodia! you are[134] tormentors of wit and good for nothing but to get schoolmasters twopence a week."

It was said of Ezekiel Cheever, the old Boston schoolmaster, who taught for over seventy years, "He taught us Lilly and he Gospel taught." But he also wrote a Latin grammar of his own, Cheever's Accidence, which had unvarying popularity for over a century. Cheever was a thorough grammarian. Cotton Mather thus eulogized him:—

"Were Grammar quite extinct, yet at his Brain
The Candle might have well been Lit again."

There was brought forth at his death a broadside entitled The Grammarian's Funeral. A fac-simile of it is here given. Josiah Quincy, later in life the president of Harvard College, wrote an account of his dismal school life at Andover. He entered the school when he was six years old, and on the form by his side sat a man of thirty. Both began Cheever's Accidence, and committed to memory pages of a book which the younger child certainly could not understand, and no advance was permitted till the first book was conquered. He studied through the book twenty times before mastering it. The hours of study were long—eight hours a day—and this upon lessons absolutely meaningless.


The Grammarians Funeral,


An ELEGY compoſed upon the Death of Mr. John Woodmancy, formerly a School-Maſter in Boſton: But now Publiſhed upon the DEATH of the Venerable

Mr. Ezekiel Chevers,

The late and famous School-Maſter of Boſton in New-England; Who Departed this Life the Twenty-firſt of Auguſt 1708. Early in the Morning. In the Ninety-fourth Year of his Age.

Eight Parts of Speech this Day wear Mourning Gowns
Declin'd Verbs, Pronouns, Participles, Nouns.
And not declined, Adverbs and Conjunctions,
In Lillies Porch they ſtand to do their functions.
With Prepoſition; but the moſt affection
Was ſtill obſerved in the Interjection.
The Subſtantive ſeeming the limbed beſt,
Would ſet a hand to bear him to his Reſt.
The Adjective with very grief did ſay,
Hold me by ſtrength, or I ſhall faint away.
The Clouds of Tears did over-caſt their faces,
Yea all were in moſt lamentable Caſes.
The five Declenſions did the Work decline,
And Told the Pronoun Tu, The work is thine:
But in this caſe thoſe have no call to go
That want the Vocative, and can't ſay O!
The Pronouns ſaid that if the Nouns were there,
There was no need of them, they might them ſpare:
But for the ſake of Emphaſis they would,
In their Diſcretion do what ere they could.
Great honour was confer'd on Conjugations,
They were to follow next to the Relations.
Amo did love him beſt, and Doceo might
Alledge he was his Glory and Delight.
But Lego ſaid by me he got his skill,
And therefore next the Herſe I follow will.
Audio ſaid little, hearing them ſo hot,
Yet knew by him much Learning he had got.—
O Verbs the Active were, Or Paſſive ſure,
Sum to be Neuter could not well endure:
But this was common to them all to Moan
Their load of grief they could not ſoon Depone.
A doleful Day for Verbs, they look ſo moody,
They drove Spectators to a Mournful Study.
The Verbs irregular, 'twas thought by ſome,
Would break no rule, if they were pleaſ'd to come.
Gaudeo could not be found; fearing diſgrace
He had with-drawn, ſent Mæreo in his Place.
Poſſum did to the utmoſt he was able,
And bore as Stout as if he'd been A Table.
Volo was willing, Nolo ſome-what ſtout,
But Malo rather choſe, not to ſtand out.
Poſſum and Volo wiſh'd all might afford
Their help, but had not an Imperative Word.
Edo from Service would by no means Swerve,
Rather than fail, he thought the Cakes to Serve.
Fio was taken in a fit, and ſaid,
By him a Mournful POEM ſhould be made.
Fero was willing for to bear a part,
Altho' he did it with an aking heart.
Feror excus'd, with grief he was ſo Torn,
He could not bear, he needed to be born.
Such Nouns and Verbs as we defective find,
No Grammar Rule did their attendance bind.
They were excepted, and exempted hence,
But Supines, all did blame for negligence.
Verbs Offspring, Participles hand-in-hand,
Follow, and by the ſame direction ſtand:
The reſt Promiſcuouſly did croud and cumber,
Such Multitudes of each, they wanted Number.
Next to the Corps to make th' attendance even,
Jove, Mercury, Apollo came from heaven.
And Virgil, Cato, gods, men, Rivers, Winds,
With Elegies, Tears, Sighs, came in their kinds.
Ovid from Pontus haſt's Apparell'd thus,
In Exile-weeds bringing De Triſtibus:
And Homer ſure had been among the Rout,
But that the Stories ſay his Eyes were out.
Queens, Cities, Countries, Iſlands, Come
All Trees, Birds, Fiſhes, and each Word in Um.
What Syntax here can you expect to find?
Where each one bears ſuch diſcompoſed mind.
Figures of Diction and Conſtruction,
Do little: Yet ſtand ſadly looking on.
That ſuch a Train may in their motion chord,
Proſodia gives the meaſure Word for Word.

Sic Mæſtus Cecinit,

Benj. Tompſon.


The custom was in Boston—until this century—to study through the grammar three times before any application to parsing.

Far better wit than any found in an old-time jest book was the sub-title of a very turgid Latin grammar, "A delysious Syrupe newly Claryfied for Yonge Scholars yt thurste for the Swete Lycore of Latin Speche."

The first English Grammar used in Boston public schools and retained in use till this century, was The Young Lady's Accidence, or a Short and Easy Introduction to English Grammar, design'd principally for the use of Young Learners, more especially for those of the Fair Sex, though Proper for Either. It is said that a hundred thousand copies of it were sold. It was a very little grammar about four or five inches long and two or three wide, and had only fifty-seven pages, but it was a very good little grammar when compared with its fellows, being simple and clearly worded.

The fashion of the day was to set everything in rhyme as an aid to memory; and even so unpoetical a subject as English Grammar did not escape the rhyming writer. In the Grammar of the English Tongue, a large and formidable book in fine type, all the rules and lists of exceptions and definitions were in verse. A single specimen, the definition of[136] a letter, will show the best style of composition, which, when it struggled with moods and tenses, was absolutely meaningless.

"A Letter is an uncompounded Sound
Of which there no Division can be Found,
Those Sounds to Certain Characters we fix,
Which in the English Tongue are Twenty-Six."

The spelling of that day was wildly varied. Dilworth's Speller was one of the earliest used, and the spelling in it differed much from that of the British Instructor. A third edition of The Child's New Spelling Book was published in 1744. Famous English lesson-books known among common folk as "Readamadeasies," and book traders as "Reading Easies"—really Reading made easy—belied their name. Some had alphabets on two pages because "One Alphabet is commonly worn out before the Scholar is perfect in his Letters." It is interesting to find "Poor Richard's" sayings in these English books, but it is natural, too, when we consider Franklin's popularity abroad, and know that broadsides printed with his pithy and worldly-wise maxims were found hanging on the wall of many an English cottage.



Reading Made Easy.

ceeds with all her train; warm gentle gales begin to blow, and soft falling showers moisten the earth.——The surface of the ground is adorned with young verdent flowers, the cowslip, daisy, primrose, and a thousand pleasing objects spread themselves all around; the trees put forth their green buds, and deck themselves with blossoms; the birds fill every grove with the charming music of nature; love, tunes their little voices, and they join in pairs to build their nests with care and labour; which, sometimes the playful, the careless, the giddy boy destroys. The careful farmer now ploughs up his fields, and casts the seeds into the bosom of the earth, and waits for harvest. Now too, the young and harmless lambs skip over the grass in wanton play! The cuckoo sings—and all nature seems to rejoice.

Trees, which dead did late appear,
Crown with leaves the rising year;
Ev'ry object seems to say,
Winter's gloom has pass'd away.



Summer succeeds.—The sun now darts his beams with greater force, and the days are at the longest. The flocks and herds not being able to endure the scorching heat of the sun, retire beneath the shade of some spreading tree, or the side of some cooling stream or river. The wanton youths betake themselves to the waters and swim with pleasure over the liquid surface. Early in the morning the careful mower walks forth with his scythe on his shoulder, and sometimes with a pipe in

Not until the days of Noah Webster and his famous Spelling Book and Dictionary was there any decided uniformity of spelling. Professor Earle[137] says the process of compelling a uniform spelling is a strife against nature. Certainly it took a long struggle against nature to make spelling uniform in America. In the same letter, men of high education would spell the same word several different ways. There was no better usage in England. The edition of Milton's Paradise Lost printed in 1688 shows some very grotesque spelling. Therefore it is not strange to find a New York teacher advertising to teach "writeing and spilling."

To show that a fetich was made of spelling seventy-five years ago, I give this extract from a Danbury school notice:—

"The advantages that small children obtain at this school may be easily imagined when the public are informed that those who spell go through the whole of Webster's spelling book twice a fortnight."

The teaching of spelling in many schools was peculiar. The master gave out the word, with a blow of his strap on the desk as a signal for all to start together, and the whole class spelled out the word in syllables in chorus. The teacher's ear was so trained and acute that he at once detected any misspelling. If this happened, he demanded the name of the scholar who made the mistake. If there was any hesitancy or refusal in acknowledgment, he kept[138] the whole class until, by repeated trials of long words, accuracy was obtained. The roar of the many voices of the large school, all pitched in different keys, could be heard on summer days for a long distance. In many country schools the scholars not only spelled aloud but studied all their lessons aloud, as children in Oriental countries do to-day: and the teacher was quick to detect any lowering of the volume of sound and would reprove any child who was studying silently. Sometimes the combined roar of voices became offensive to the neighbors of the school, and restraining votes were passed at town-meetings.

The colonial school and schoolmaster took a firm stand on "cyphering." "The Bible and figgers is all I want my boys to know," said an old farmer. Arithmetic was usually taught without text-books. Teachers had manuscript "sum-books," from which they gave out rules and problems in arithmetic to their scholars. Abraham Lincoln learned arithmetic from a "sum-book" of which he made a neat copy. A page from this sum-book is here given in reduced size. Too often these sums were copied by the pupil without any explanation of the process being offered or rendered by the master. The artist Trumbull recalled that he spent three weeks, unaided in any way, over a single sum in long division.


Page from Abraham Lincoln's Sum Book


A manuscript sum-book in my possession is marked, "Sarah Keeler her Book, May ye 1st, A.D. 1773, Ridgbury." There are multiplication examples of fifteen figures multiplied by fifteen, and long division examples of a dividend of quintillions, chiefly in sevens and nines, divided by a mixed divisor of billions in eights and fives—a thing to make poor Sarah turn in her grave. There are Reductions Ascending and Reductions Descending and Reductions both Ascending and Descending at the same time, as complicated as the computations of the revolutions of the celestial spheres. There are miserable catch-examples about people's ages and others about collections of excises, with "Proofs," and still others about I know not what, for there are within their borders mysterious abbreviations and signs, like some black magic. Sainted Sarah Keeler! a melancholy sympathy settles on me as I regard this book and all the extended sums you knew, and think of the paths of pleasantness of the present pupils of kindergartens; and wonder what kind of a mathematical song or game or allegory could be invented to disguise these very "plain figures."

Sometimes a zealous teacher would write out tables of measures and a few blind rules for his scholars. This amateur arithmetic would be copied[140] and recopied until it was punctuated with mistakes.




A plain and familiar Method, ſuitable to the meaneſt Capacity, for the full underſtanding of that incomparable Art, as it is now taught by the ableſt School-Maſters in City and Country.


By Edward Cocker, late Practitioner in the Arts of Writing, Arithmetick, and Engraving. Being that ſo long ſince promiſed to the World.


By John Hawkins, Writing-Maſter near St. George's Church in Southwark, by the Author's correct Copy, and commended to the World by many eminent Mathematicians and Writing-Maſters in and near London.

This Impreſſion is corrected and amended, with many Additions throughout the whole.

Licenſed, Sept. 3. 1677. Roger L'Eſtrange.


Printed by R. Holt, for T. Paſſinger, and ſold by John Back, at the black Boy on London-Bridge, 1688.

Title Page


No. 1 First Picture Alphabet.
No. 2. Second Picture Alphabet.
No. 3. Third Picture Alphabet.
No. 4. Lessons in One Syllable.
No. 5. Lessons in Numbers.
No. 6. Words in Common Use.

One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten Eleven Twelve
I.        II.     III.     IV.   V.   VI.   VII.   VIII.   IX.    X.     XI.       XII.
1         2        3         4     5      6        7         8       9      10      11         12

The Clock has two hands; a long one and a short one. The short hand is the hour hand, and the long one is the minute hand.

The short or hour hand moves very slowly, and the long or minute hand goes all round the Clock face while the hour hand goes from one figure to the next one.

Two and two added together make4
One and four together make5
Five and two together make7
Seven and one together make8
What are eight and two? They make10
Twice ten make20
Twenty is a score, and five score100

Battledore, "Lessons in Numbers"

Many scholars never saw a printed arithmetic; and when the master had one for circulation it was scarcely more helpful than the sum-book. One of the most ancient arithmetics was written by the mathematician Record, who lived from the year 1500 to 1558. He is said to have invented the sign of equality =, but there is nothing in his book to indicate this fact. The terms "arsemetrick" and "augrime"[141] are used in it, instead of arithmetic. Many curious and obsolete rules are given, among them, "The Golden Rule," "Rule of Falsehood," "The Redeeming of Pawnes of Geams," "The Backer Rule of Thirds." Here is a simple problem under the latter:—

"I did lend my friend 34 of a Porteguise 7 months upon promise that he should do as much for me again, and when I should borrow of him, he could lend me but 512 of a Porteguese, now I demand how long time I must keep his money in just Recompence of my loan, accounting 13 months in the year."

Rhyme is used in this book, in dialogues between the master and scholar. Copies of Cocker's Arithmetick are said to be very rare in England, but I have seen several in America. An edition was published in Philadelphia in 1779. The frontispiece of English and American editions shows the picture of the mathematician surrounded by a wreath of laurel with the droll apostrophe:—

"Ingenious Cocker! Now to Rest thou 'rt Gone
Noe Art can Show thee fully but thine Own
Thy rare Arithmetick alone can show
What vast Sums of Thanks wee for Thy Labour owe."

"Ingenious Cocker," as one would say "Most noble Shakespeare!" It is hard indeed to idealize or write poetical tributes to one by the name of Cocker.[142] It gives us a sense of pleasant familiarity with any one to know that he is "well acquaint" with one of our intimate friends, so I feel much drawn to ingenious Cocker by knowing that he was well known of Sam Pepys. He was a writing master, and did some mighty fine engraving for Pepys, who calls him ingenuous, not ingenious. It is rather a facer to learn from the notes in the Diary that Cocker had nothing whatever to do with his Arithmetic, which was a forgery by John Hawkins.

The age that would rhyme a grammar would rhyme an arithmetic, and Record's example was followed and enlarged upon. Thomas Hylles published one in 1620, The Arte of Vulgar Arithmiteke, written in dialogue, with the rules and theorems in verse. This is an example of his poesy:—

"The Partition of a Shilling into his Aliquot Partes.

"A farthing first finds forty-eight
A Halfpeny hopes for twentiefoure
Three farthings seeks out 16 streight
A peny puls a dozen lower
Dicke dandiprat drewe 8 out deade
Twopence took 6 and went his way
Tom trip a goe with 4 is fled
But Goodman grote on 3 doth stay
A testerne only 2 doth take
Moe parts a Shilling cannot make."


Noah Webster's "American Selection"


In 1633 Nicholas Hunt added to his rules and tables an "Arithmetike-Rithmeticall or the Handmaid's Song of Numbers," which rhymes are simply unspeakable. These attempts did not end with the seventeenth century. In 1801 Richard Vyse had a Tutor's Guide with problems in rhyme.

"When first the Marriage Knot was tied
Between my Wife and Me
My age did hers as far exceed
As three times three does three.
But when Ten years and half ten Years
We man and wife had been
Her age came up as near to mine
As eight is to sixteen.
Now tell me I pray
What were our Ages on our Wedding Day?"

The earliest date of the old rhyme,—

"Thirtie daies hath September, Aprill, June and November,
Februarie eight and twentie alone, all the rest thirtie and one."

is given by Halliwell as 1633. I have found it in an old arithmetic printed in London in 1596. The lines beginning "Multiplication is vexation," are not an outburst of modern students. They are found in a manuscript dated 1570 circa.

"Multiplication is mie vexation
And Division quite as bad,
The Golden rule is mie stumbling stule,
And Practice makes me mad."


After the Revolution, in new and zealous Americanism, text-books by American authors outsold English books. The blue-backed spelling book of Noah Webster drove Perry and Dilworth from the field. Bingham and Webster took advantage of the need of suitable school-books and divided the field between them. Webster's Spelling Book outstripped Bingham's Child's Companion, but Bingham's Readers, such as The American Preceptor and The Columbian Orator held their ground against Webster's. Not one of Bingham's books proved a failure. The Columbian Orator contained seven extracts from speeches of Pitt in opposition to the measures of George III., it had speeches by Fox and Sheridan, part of the address of President Carnot at the establishment of the French Republic, and the famous speech of Colonel Barré on the Stamp Act.

Nicholas Pike of Newburyport, Massachusetts, wrote an arithmetic that routed the English books of Cocker and Hodder. It was studied by many persons now living. It had three hundred and sixty-three barren rules, and not a single explanation of one of them. Many of them would now be wholly unintelligible to scholars, though no more antiquated than are the methods; for instance, this rule in Tare and Trett:—


"Deduct the Tare and Trett. Divide the Suttle by amount given; the Quotient will be the Cloff which subtract from the Suttle the Remainder will be the Neat."


"The Little Reader's Assistant," by Noah Webster

The tables of measures were longer than ours to-day; in measuring liquids were used the terms anchors, tuns, butts, tierces, kilderkins, firkins, puncheons, etc. In dry measure were pottles, strikes, cooms, quarters, weys, lasts. Examples in currency were in pounds, shillings, and pence; and doubtless helped to retain the use of these terms in daily trade long after dollars had been coined in America. This labored book, aided by the flattering testimonials of Governor Bowdoin, of the Presidents of Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth Colleges, and of that idolized American, George Washington, gained wide acceptance.

I have examined with care a Wingate's Arithmetic printed in 1620, which was used for over a century in the Winslow family in Massachusetts. "Pythagoras his Table," is, of course, our multiplication table. Then comes, the "Rule of Three," the "double Golden Rule," the "Rule of Fellowship," the "Rule of False," etc., etc., ending with "Pastimes, a collection of pleasant and polite Questions to exercise all the parts of Vulgar Arithmetick." Here is one:—


"This Problem is usually propounded in this manner, viz. fifteen Christians and fifteen Turks being at Sea in one and the same Ship in a terrible Storm, & the Pilot declaring a necessity of casting the one half of those Persons into the Sea, that the rest might be saved; they all agreed that the persons to be cast away should be set out by lot after this manner, viz. the thirty persons should be placed in a round form like a Ring, and then beginning to count at one of the Passengers, and proceeding circularly, every ninth person should be cast into the Sea, until of the thirty persons there remained only fifteen. The question is, how those thirty persons ought to be placed, that the lot might infallibly fall upon the fifteen Turks & not upon any of the fifteen Christians? For the more easie remembering of the rule to resolve this question shall presuppose the five vowels, a, e, i, o, u, to signifie five numbers to wit, (a) one, (e) two, (i) three, (o) four, and (u) five; then will the rule it self be briefly comprehended in these two following verses:—

From numbers, aid and art
Never will fame depart.

In which verses you are principally to observe the vowels, with their correspondent numbers before assigned, and then beginning with the Christians the vowel o (in from) signifieth that four Christians are to be placed together; next unto them, the vowel u (in num) signifieth that five Turks are to be placed. In like manner e (in bers) denoteth 2 Christians, a (in aid) 1 Turk, i (in aid) 3 Christians, a (in and) 1 Turk, a (in art) 1 Christian, e (in ne) 2 Turks, e (in ver) 2 Christians,[147] i (in will) 3 Turks, a (in fame) 1 Christian, e (in fame) 2 Turks, e (in de) 2 Christians, a (in part) 1 Turk.

"The invention of the said Rule and such like, dependeth upon the subsequent demonstration, viz. if the number of persons be thirty, let thirty figures or cyphers be placed circularly or else in a right line as you see:—


I trust the little Winslows and their neighbors understood this sum, and its explanation, and that the Christians were all saved, and the Turks were all drowned.

Geography was an accomplishment rather than a necessary study, and was spoken of as a diversion for a winter's evening. Many objections were made that it took the scholar's attention away from "cyphering." It was not taught in the elementary schools till this century. Morse's Geography was not written till after the Revolution. It had a mean little map of the United States, only a few inches square. On it all the land west of the Mississippi River was called Louisiana, and nearly all north of the Ohio River, the Northwestern Territory. Small as the book was, and meagre as was its information, many of its pages were devoted to short, stilted dialogues between a teacher and pupil, in which the scholar was made to say such priggish sentences:—


"I am very thankful, sir, for your entertaining instruction, and I shall never forget what you have been telling me.

"I long, sir, for to-morrow to come that I may hear more of your information.

"I am truly delighted, sir, with the account you have given me of my country. I wish, sir, it may be agreeable to you to give me a more particular description of the United States.

"I hope, sir, I have a due sense of your goodness to me. I have, sir, very cheerfully, and I trust very profitably, attended your instructions."

A rather amusing Geographical Catechism was published in 1796, by Rev. Henry Pattillo, a Presbyterian minister of North Carolina, for the use of the university students. It is properly and Presbyterianly religious. It gives this explanation of comets:—

"Their uses are mere conjecture. Some judge them the seats of punishment where sinners suffer the extremes of heat and cold. Mr. Whiston says a comet approaching the sun brushed the earth with its tail and caused the deluge, and that another will cause the conflagration."

Let us not be too eager to jeer at these ancient school-books. Pope wrote nearly two centuries ago:

"Still is to-morrow wiser than to-day
We think our fathers fools so wise we grow.
Our wiser sons no doubt will think us so."


Perhaps the series of text-books which have chased each other in and out of our nineteenth-century public schools under the successive boards of commissioners and school committees who have also flashed briefly on our educational horizon, may cut no better figure two centuries hence than do those of Lilly and Pike and Cocker.




Ink alwais good store on right hand to stand
Brown paper for great haste or else box of sand.
Dip pen and shake pen and touch pen for haire
Wax, quills and penknife see alwais ye beare.
A New Book of Hands, 1650 circa.

In glancing over old school contracts it will be noted that in a majority of cases the teacher is specified as a writing-master; without doubt the chief requisite of a satisfactory teacher in colonial days was that he should be a good teacher of penmanship.

We have seen in our own day distinct changes in the handwriting of an entire generation; the colonists whose lives ended with the seventeenth century had a characteristic handwriting which retained certain elements of old English, even of mediæval script. It was a handsome and dignified chirography and an impressive one, and was usually easy to read. The writing of the first Pilgrim and Puritan fathers was not over-good. Governor John Winthrop's[151] was not much better than Horace Greeley's. Bradford's we are familiar with through the beautiful facsimiles of his Relation.

The first half of the succeeding century did not send forth such good writers; nor did it send forth writers so universally; the proportion of signatures to public documents by cross instead of writing increased. Our grandparents and great-grandparents all wrote well. In hundreds of century-old letters which I have examined an ill-written letter is an exception. Children at the close of the eighteenth century wrote beautifully rounded, clear, and uniform hands, if we can judge from their copy-books. Little Anna Green Winslow, writing in 1771, showed page after page in a hand far better than that of most girls of her age to-day.

Claude Blanchard was commissary of supplies for the French army which landed in Newport in 1780. He visited the Newport school and gave this tribute to the scholars:—

"I saw the writing of these children, it appeared to me to be handsome; among others that of a young girl nine or ten years old, very pretty and very modest, and such as I would like my own daughter to be when she is so old; she was called Abigail Earle, as I perceived upon her copy-book, on which her name was written. I wrote it myself, adding to it 'very pretty.'"


An "exhibition piece" is here given of the penmanship of Anne Reynolds, a little girl of Norwich, Connecticut, who died shortly after this "piece" was written.

Writing-masters were universally honored in every community. A part of the funeral notice of one in Boston, who died in 1769, reads thus:—

"Last Friday morning died Mr. Abiah Holbrook in this town. He was looked upon by the best Judges as the Greatest Master of the pen we ever had among us, of which he has left a beautiful Demonstration."

This "beautiful demonstration" of his penmanship was a most intricate piece of what was known as fine knotting, or knotwork. It was said to be "written in all the known hands of Great Britain," and was valued at £100. It was bequeathed to Harvard College unless it was bought by the Revolutionary patriot, John Hancock, who had been one of Master Holbrook's pupils and, as we know from the fine bold signature of his own name to the Declaration of Independence, was a very creditable scholar.


Exhibition "Piece" of Anne Reynolds

This work had occupied every moment of what Abiah Holbrook called his "spare time" for seven years. As he had, in the year 1745, two hundred and twenty scholars at one time in one school, his[153] spare time must have been very short. He and other writing-masters of the Holbrook family left behind a still nobler demonstration than this knotwork in the handwriting of their scholars—Boston ministers, merchants, statesmen, and patriots—whose elegant penmanship really formed a distinct style, and was known as "Boston Style of Writing."

The "hands of Great Britain" were many in number; among them Saxon, Old Mss., Chancery, Gothic, Running Court, Exchequer, Pipe Office, Engrossing, Running Secretary, Round Text, and the "Lettre Frisee," which was minutely and regularly zigzagged.

A well-known Boston writing-master was familiarly known as Johnny Tileston. He was born in 1738 and taught till 1823, when he was pensioned off. He was a rough-mannered old fellow; his chief address to the scholars being the term, "You gnurly wretch." His ideal was his own teacher, Master Proctor, and when late in life he saw a scholar wipe his pen on a bit of cloth, he approached the desk, lifted the rag and said, "What's this? Master Proctor had no such thing." Tileston himself always wiped his pens with his little finger and in turn dried his finger on his own white hairs under his wig. An old spelling-book has these lines for a "writing-copy ":—


"X things a penman should have near at hand—
Paper, pomice, pen, ink, knife, horn, rule, plummet, wax, sand."

It will be noted that a penwiper is not upon the list.


Writing-master's Initial

In olden times but one kind of a pen was used, one cut from a goose-quill with the feathers left on the handle. The selection and manufacture of these goose-quill pens was a matter of considerable care in the beginning, and of constant watchfulness and "mending" till the pen was worn out. One of the indispensable qualities of a colonial schoolmaster was that he was a good pen maker and pen mender. It often took the master and usher two hours to make the pens for the school. Boys studied arithmetic at eleven years of age, but were not allowed to make pens in school till they were twelve years old.

Ink was not bought in convenient liquid form as at present; each family, each person had to be an ink manufacturer. The favorite method of ink-making was through the dissolving of ink-powder. Liquid ink was but seldom seen for sale. In remote districts of Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts,[155] home-made ink, feeble and pale, was made by steeping the bark of swamp-maple in water, boiling the decoction till thick, and diluting it with copperas. Each child brought to school an ink-bottle or ink-horn filled with the varying fluid of domestic manufacture.


Writing of Abiah Holbrook

A book called The District School, written as late as 1834, shows the indifferent quality of the ink used. The writer complains that the parents made a poor ink of vinegar, water, and ink-powder, which the child could not use, and permitted to dry up while he borrowed of the teacher. The inkstand is then "used at the evening meetings as a candlestick." Other inkstands with good ink are seized and used for the same purpose and the ink ruined with grease and nothing left to write with when the teacher sets his scholars to work.

There are no remains of olden times that put us more closely in touch with the men, women, and children who moved and lived in these shadowy days than do the letters they wrote. Old James Howell said over two centuries ago: "Letters are the Idea and the truest Miror of the Mind; they shew the Inside of a Man." Certainly the most imaginative mind must be touched with a sense of nearness to the heart of the writer whose yellowed pages he unfolds and whose fading words he deciphers.[156] The roll of centuries cannot dim the power of written words.

In the Prince Library, in Boston, are the manuscripts known under the various titles of the Mather Papers, the Cotton Papers, the Torrey Papers, etc. They are delightful to see and to read, for the ink is still clear and black, the paper firm and good, the letters well-formed, and the text breathes a spirit of kindness, affection, and loving thoughtfulness that speaks of the beauty of Puritan home life. Some of the letters are written by Puritan women; and these letters are uniformly well spelt, well written, and intelligent. Perhaps only intelligent women were taught to write. These letters are on fine Dutch paper; there was no English writing-paper till the time of William and Mary. They are carefully folded with due regard to the etiquette of letter-folding, and plainly and neatly addressed.

The letters are very tender and gentle; sometimes they are written to children; they begin, "My deare Child"; "My Indear'd Sonn"; "To my dearly loved Friend and Child." One ends, "With my Indeared Love, committing thyself and thy duty and service to all our friends, and to the protection of the Almighty, I am thine." A mother addresses on the outside her letter to her son in these words, "To my very good friend,[157] These Present," etc. John Cotton addresses a letter externally thus: "These, For the Reverend, his very deare Brother, Mr. Increase Mather, Teacher of a Church at Boston, Present." Sometimes the address ran, "Messenger present these to, etc." Hence it may be seen that the word "Present" sometimes seen on modern letters properly is the imperative verb Present. Occasionally the words "Haste! post haste!" were seen, as on English letters, but I have never seen the old postal inscription, "Haste! post, haste! on your Life! on your Life!"

A very genuine and pleasing letter was written by John Quincy Adams when he was nine years old to his father, President John Adams:—

"Braintree, June the 2nd, 1777.

"Dear Sir: I love to receive letters very well, much better than I love to write them. I make but a poor figure at composition, my head is much too fickle, my thoughts are running after bird's eggs, play, and trifles till I get vexed with myself. I have but just entered the 3rd vol of Smollett tho' I had design'd to have got it half through by this time. I have determined this week to be more diligent, as Mr. Thaxter will be absent at Court, & I cannot persue my other studies. I have set myself a Stent & determine to read the 3rd Volume Half out. If I can but keep my resolution, I will write again at the end of the[158] week and give a better account of myself. I wish, Sir, you would give me some instructions with regard to my time & advise me how to proportion my Studies & my Play, in writing I will keep them by me & endeavour to follow them. I am, dear Sir, with a present determination of growing better yours. P.S. Sir, if you will be so good as to favour me with a Blank Book, I will transcribe the most remarkable occurrences I meet with in my reading which will serve to fix them upon my mind."

We cannot wonder at the precision and elegance of the letter-writing of our forbears, when we know the "painful" precepts of parents in regard to their children's penmanship and composition. In the letters written by Ephraim Williams, a plain New England farmer, from his home in Stockbridge in the years 1749 et seq. to his son Elijah, while the latter was in Princeton College, is shown the respect felt for a good handwriting. Nearly every letter had some such sentences as these:—

"I would intreet you to endeavour daily to Improve yourself in writting and spelling; they are very ornimentall to a scholar and the want of them is an exceeding great Blemish."


David Waite, Seven Years Old

"I desire you would observe in your Wrighting to make proper Distances between words; don't blend your words together use your utmost endeavours to spell well; consult all Rules likely to help you; Such words as require[159] it allways begin with a capitoll Letter, it will much Grace your wrighting. Try to mend your hand in wrighting every day all Opportunities you can possibly get. Observe strictly Gentlemen's meathod of wrighting and superscribing, it may be of service to you: you can scarce conceive what a vast disadvantage it will be to leave the Colledg and not be able to write and spell well. Learn to write a pretty fine Hand as you may have Ocation."

He urges him to study the spelling rules laid down in the Youth's Instructor in the English Tounge, and tells him not to follow his (the father's) writing for an example as he has "but common English learning." He reproves, admonishes, and finally says Elijah's sisters will prove better scholars than he is if he does not have a care, which was a bitter taunt.

Major Dulany of Maryland wrote to his little daughter some very intelligent advice, of which these lines are a portion:—

"In letter writing as in conversation it will be found that those who substitute the design of distinguishing themselves for that of giving pleasure to those whom they address must ever fail. Having decided upon what is proper to be said accustom yourself to express it in the best possible manner. Always use the words that most exactly correspond with the ideas you mean to express. There are fewer synonymous words in our language than is generally supposed, as[160] you will find in looking over your Dictionary. It has been remembered upon as a great excellence of Gen'l Washington's writings that no one could substitute a single word which could so well express his meaning. I have heard (whether it be true or not I cannot say) that for seven years of his life he never wrote without having his Dictionary before him."

The letters of Aaron Burr, written at a little later period to his beloved daughter Theodosia, show as unvarying and incessant pains to form perfection in letter-writing, as was displayed by Lord Chesterfield in his letters to his son. When she was but ten or twelve we find Burr giving her minute instruction as to her penmanship; its size, shape, the formation of sentences, the spelling, the exact use of synonyms. He sends her sentences bidding her return them in a more elegant form, to translate them into Latin. He exhorts her to study the meaning, use, and etymology of every word in his letter. He has her keep for him a daily journal written in a narrative style. Even when on trial for treason in 1808 he still instructed her, reproving her for her negligent failure to acknowledge letters received. He commended her style, saying she had energy and aptitude of expression; altogether I can fancy no rule of correct epistolary conduct left unsaid by Burr to his daughter. That he had a high opinion of her[161] powers we cannot doubt; but the specimens of her composition that exist show no great brilliancy or originality.

As books multiplied after the Revolution, many letters were modelled on effusions that had been seen and admired in print: this at a loss of much naturalness and quaintness of expression. Letter-writing guides formed the most pernicious influence. Miss Stoughton of East Windsor inviting sprightly Nancy Williams of East Hartford to a gay party began her note in this surprising way: "Worthy Lady."

Children (and grown people too) had a very reprehensible habit of scribbling in their books. Of course each owner wrote his name, with more or less elegance and accompanying flourishes, according to his capacity. Some very valuable autographs have by this means been preserved. A single title-page will often bear the names of several owners. They also wrote various rhymes and sentiments, which might be gathered under the head of title-page lore.

The most ancient rhyme I have seen is dated 1635 and is in an ancient Cocker's Arithmetic:—

"John Greene (or Graves), his book
God give Him Grace theirein to look
Not oneley to look, but to Understand
That Larning is better than House or Land."


This rhyme is frequently seen, sometimes with the added lines:—

"When Land is Gone and Money Spent
Then Larning is most excellent.
If this you See
Remember Me."

Another rhyme is:—

"Steal not this Book for if You Do
The Devil will be after You.

Longer and more formal rhymes are found in the books of older owners. Occasionally a child's book had a valentine sentiment, or a riddle, or a drawing of hearts and darts; crude pictures of Indians and horses are many. I have seldom found verses from the Bible or religious sentiments written in childish hands. Whether this is the result of profound respect or of indifference I cannot tell. As a special example of book scribbling, one of historical interest is given, a page of the famous "White Bible," which contains the entry, much disputed of genealogical and historical societies, that John Howland married Governor Carver's "grand-darter."


Page from "White" Bible




And such his judgment, so exact his text
As what was best in bookes as what bookes best,
That had he join'd those notes his labours tooke
From each most praised and praise-deserving booke,
And could the world of that choise treasure boast
It need not care though all the rest were lost:
And such his wit, he writ past what he quotes
And his productions farre exceed his notes.
Eglogue on the Death of Ben Jonson,
Lucius Cary, Lord Falkland, 1637.

Grown folk had in colonial days a habit of keeping diaries and making notes in interleaved almanacs, but they are not of great value to the historian; for they are not what Wordsworth declared such compositions should be, namely, "abundant in observation and sparing of reflection." They are instead barren of accounts of happenings, and descriptions of surroundings, and are chiefly devoted to weather reports and moral and religious reflections, both original and in the form of sermon and lecture notes. The note-taking[164] habit of Puritan women was held up by such detractors as Bishop Earle as one of their most contemptible traits. To-day we can simply deplore it as having been such a vain thing; for it is certainly true, no matter how deeply religious in feeling any one of the present day may be, that to the modern mind a long course of the pious sentiments and religious aspirations of others is desperately tiresome reading. Such records were not tiresome, however, to those of Puritan faith; there were but few old-time diaries which were not composed on those lines. The chief exception is that historical treasure-house, Judge Sewall's diary, which shows plainly, also, the deep religious feeling of its author. Another of more restricted interest, but of value, is that of Dr. Parkman, the Westborough minister. Governor Winthrop's History has much of the diary element in it. Naturally, the diaries of children copied in quality and wording those of their elders. A unique exception in these youthful records is the journal of a year or two of the life of a Boston schoolgirl, Anna Green Winslow. Fortunately, little Anna's desire to report the sermons she had heard at the Old South Church, and to moralize in ambitious theological comments thereon, was checked by the sensible aunt with whom she lived, who said, "A Miss of 12 years cant possibly do[165] justice to nice Subjects in Divinity, and therefore had better not attempt a repetition of particulars." We, therefore, have a story of her life, not of her thoughts; and many references to her diary appear in this volume.


Anna Green Winslow

It is curious and interesting to note how Puritan traits and habits lingered in generation after generation, and outlived change of environment and mode of living. In 1630, Rev. John White of Dorchester, England, brought out a Puritan colony which settled in Massachusetts, and named the village Dorchester, after their English home. In 1695, a group of the descendants of these settlers once more emigrated to "Carolina." Tradition asserts that they were horrified at the persecution of witches in Massachusetts. Upham names one Daniel Andrew as a man who protested so vigorously against the prevailing folly and persecution, that he was compelled to fly to South Carolina. Thomas Staples was fearless enough to sue and obtain judgment against the Deputy Governor for saying Goodwife Staples was a witch, and members of his family went also to South Carolina.

With loyalty to their two Dorchester homes, a third Dorchester, in South Carolina, was named. They built a good church which is still standing, though the village has entirely disappeared, and the[166] site is overgrown with large trees. Indian wars, poor government, church oppression, and malaria once more drove forth these undaunted Puritans to found a fourth Dorchester in Georgia. In 1752, they left in a body, took up a grant of twenty-two thousand acres in St. John's Parish, and formed the Midway Church. Their meeting-house was headquarters for the Whigs during the Revolution, was burned by the British, rebuilt in 1790, and is still standing. In it meetings are held every spring by hundreds of the descendants of its early members, though it is remote from railroads, and swamps and pine barrens have taken the place of smiling rice and cotton fields.

Stories of the rigidity of church government of these people still exist. The tradition of one child who smiled in Midway Church was for generations held up with horror, "as though she had hoofs and horns." There attended this church a descendant of both Andrew and Staples, the scoffers at witches, one Mary Osgood Sumner. She had a short and sad life. Married at eighteen she was a widow at twenty, and with her sister, Mrs. Holmes (an aunt of Oliver Wendell Holmes), and another sister, Anne, sailed from Newport to New York, "and were never heard of more."


Pages from the Diary of Mary Osgood Sumner

She left behind her sermon notes and a "Monitor,"[167] or diary, which had what she called a black list of her childish wrong-doings, omissions of duty, etc., while the white list showed the duties she performed. Though she was evidently absolutely conscientious these are the only entries on the "Black Leaf":—

"July 8. I left my staise on the bed.

"  9. Misplaced Sister's sash.

"  10. Spoke in haste to my little Sister, spilt the cream on the floor in the closet.

"  12. I left Sister Cynthia's frock on the bed.

"  16. I left the brush on the chair; was not diligent in learning at school.

"  17. I left my fan on the bed.

"  19. I got vexed because Sister was a-going to cut my frock.

"  22. Part of this day I did not improve my time well.

"  30. I was careless and lost my needle.

Aug. 5. I spilt some coffee on the table."

Not a very heinous list.

Here are entries from the good page of her little "Monitor":—

White Leaf.

"July 8. I went and said my Catechism to-day. Came home and wrote down the questions and answers, then dressed and went to the dance, endeavoured to behave myself decent.


" 11. I improved my time before breakfast; after breakfast made some biscuits and did all my work before the sun was down.

" 12. I went to meeting and paid good attention to the sermon, came home and wrote down as much of it as I could remember.

" 17. I did everything before breakfast; endeavored to improve in school; went to the funeral in the afternoon, attended to what was said, came home and wrote down as much as I could remember.

" 25. A part of this day I parsed and endeavored to do well and a part of it I made some tarts and did some work and wrote a letter.

" 27. I did everything this morning same as usual, went to school and endeavored to be diligent; came home and washed the butter and assisted in getting coffee.

" 28. I endeavored to be diligent to-day in my learning, went from school to sit up with the sick, nursed her as well as I could.

" 30. I was pretty diligent at my work to-day and made a pudding for dinner.

Aug. 1. I got some peaches for to stew after I was done washing up the things and got my work and was midlin Diligent.

" 4. I did everything before breakfast and after breakfast got some peaches for Aunt Mell and then got my work and stuck pretty close[169] to it and at night sat up with Sister and nursed her as good as I could.

" 8. I stuck pretty close to my work to-day and did all that Sister gave me and after I was done I swept out the house and put the things to rights.

" 9. I endeavored to improve my time to-day in reading and attending to what Brother read and most of the evening I was singing."

I have given this record of this monotonous young life in detail, simply to prove the simplicity of the daily round of a child's life at that time. The pages prove with equal force the domination of the Puritan temperament, a nervous desire and intent to be good, and industrious, and attentive, and helpful. We seldom meet that temperament in children nowadays; and when we do it is sure to be, as in this case, a Puritan inheritance.

John Quincy Adams, when eleven years old, determined to write a Journal, and he thus lucidly and sensibly explains his intentions to his mother:—

"Honoured Mamma: My Pappa enjoins it upon me to keep a journal, or diary of the Events that happen to me, and of objects I see, and of Characters that I converse with from day to day; and altho' I am convinced of the utility, importance, & necessity of this Exercise, yet I have not patience & perseverance enough to do it so Constantly[170] as I ought. My Pappa, who takes a great deal of Pains to put me in the right way, has also advised me to Preserve copies of all my letters, and has given me a Convenient Blank Book for this end; and altho' I shall have the mortification a few years hence to read a great deal of my Childish nonsense, yet I shall have the Pleasure and advantage of Remarking the several steps by which I shall have advanced in taste judgment and knowledge. A journal Book & a letter Book of a Lad of Eleven years old can not be expected to contain much of Science, Litterature, arts, wisdom or wit, yet it may serve to perpetuate many observations that I may make & may hereafter help me to recolect both Persons & things that would other ways escape my memory.... My father has given me hopes of a Pencil & Pencil Book in which I can make notes upon the spot to be transferred afterwards to my Diary, and my letters, this will give me great pleasure, both because it will be a sure means of improvement to myself & make me to be more entertaining to you.

"I am my ever honoured and revered Mamma your Dutiful & Affectionate Son.

"John Quincy Adams."


Joshua Carter, Four Years Old, 1765

I believe this diary, so carefully decided upon, does not now exist. The Adams family preserved a vast number of family papers, but this was not among them. I am sorry; for I find John Quincy Adams a very pleasing child. When he was about seven years old, his father was away from home as a delegate[171] to a Congress in Philadelphia which sought to secure unity of action among the rebellious colonies. His patriotic mother taught her boy in their retreat at Braintree to repeat daily each morning, with the Lord's Prayer, Collins' inspiring ode beginning, "How sleep the brave who sink to rest," etc. Later in life Adams wrote to a Quaker friend:—

"For the space of twelve months my mother with her infant children dwelt, liable every hour of the day and of the night to be butchered in cold blood, or taken and carried into Boston as hostages. My mother lived in unintermitted danger of being consumed with them all in a conflagration kindled by a torch in the same hands which on the seventeenth of June (1775) lighted the fires of Charlestown. I saw with my own eyes those fires, and heard Britannia's thunders in the Battle of Bunker Hill, and witnessed the tears of my mother and mingled them with my own."

The mother took her boy by the hand and mounted a height near their home and showed him the distant signs of battle. Thus she fixed an impression of a war for liberty on his young memory. Two years later, to relieve her anxious and tedious waiting for intelligence from her husband, the boy became "post rider" for her between Braintree and Boston, which towns were eleven miles apart—not a light or easy task, for the nine-year-old boy with the unsettled roads and unsettled times. The spirit[172] of patriotism which filled the mind of all grown folk was everywhere reflected in the minds of the children. Josiah Quincy was at school in Andover from 1778 to 1786, and he stated that he and his schoolmates had as a principle, as a schoolboy law, that every hoop, sled, etc., should in some way bear thirteen marks. This was evidence of the good political character of the owner; and if the marks were wanting the article was contraband, was seized and forfeited without judge, jury, or power of appeal.

Besides journal keeping, folks of that day had a useful custom of keeping a commonplace book; that is, they wrote out in a blank-book memorable sentences or words which attracted their attention or admiration in the various books they read, or made abstracts or notes of the same. Cotton Mather tells of such note making by young students. This writing out of aphorisms, statements, etc., not only fixed them in the memory, but kept them where the memory, if faulty, could easily be assisted. It also served as practice in penmanship. A verb, to commonplace, came from this use of the word. The biography of Francis North, Baron Guildford, gave an account which explains fully commonplacing:—

"It was his lordship's constant practice to commonplace as he read. He had no bad memory but was diffident[173] and would not trust it. He acquired a very small but legible hand, for where contracting is the main business (of law) it is not well to write as the fashion now is, in uncial or semi-uncial letters to look like a pig's ribs. His writing on his commonplaces was not by way of index but epitome: because he used to say the looking over a commonplace book on any occasion gave him a sort of survey of what he had read about matters not then inquisited, which refreshed them somewhat in his memory."

People invented methods of keeping commonplace books and gave rules and instructions in commonplacing. I have seen several commonplace books, made by children of colonial times; pathetic memorials, in every case, of children who died in early youth. Tender and loving hearts have saved those little unfinished records of childish reading, after the way of mothers and fathers till the present day, whose grieved affections cannot bear the thought even of reverent destruction of the irregular writing of a dearly loved child whose hands are folded in death. One of these books with scantily filled pages was tied with a number of note-books of an old New England minister, and in the father's handwriting on the first leaf were these words:—

"Fifty years ago died my little John. A child of promise. Alas! alas! January 10th, 1805."


Diary Winslow

Page from Diary of Anna Green Winslow

The matter read by those children is clearly indicated by their commonplace books. One entry shows evidence of light reading. It is of riddles which are headed "Guesses"; they are the ones familiar to us all in Mother Goose's Melodies to-day. The[175] answers are written in a most transparent juvenile shorthand. Thus the answer, "Well," is indicated by the figures 23, 5, 12, 12, referring to the position of the letters in the alphabet.

The usual entries are of a religious character; extracts from sermons, answers from the catechism, verses of hymns, accompany stilted religious aspirations and appeals. In them a painful familiarity with and partiality for quotations bearing on hell and the devil show the religious teaching of the times.




Where babies, much to their surprise,
Were born astonishingly wise;
With every Science on their lips,
And Latin at their finger-tips.
Bab Ballads. W. S. Gilbert, 1877.

The seventeenth century was in Europe a period of eager development and hasty harvesting; English boys were made serious-minded by the conditions they saw around them, as well as by a forcing-house system of education, begun at very early years. This early ageing is reflected in the writings of the times. The Religio Medici, apparently the composition of a man of the large experience and serene contemplation of extreme age, was written by Sir Thomas Browne when he was but thirty.


Samuel Torrey, Twelve Years Old, 1770

There are many records of the precocity of children, preserved for us many times, alas! through the sad recounting of early deaths. One of the[177] most pathetic records of a father's blasted hopes may be found in the pages of the diary of John Evelyn. In December, 1658, died his little son, Richard, five years and three days old. He was a prodigy of wit and learning, as beautiful as an angel, and of rare mental endowment. His father's account of his acquirements runs thus:—

"He had learned all his catechism at two years and a half old; he could perfectly read any of the English, Latin, French, or Gothic letters, pronouncing the first three languages exactly. He had, before the fifth year, or in that year, not only skill to read most written hands, but to decline all the nouns, conjugate the verbs regular, and most of the irregular; learned out Puerelis, got by heart almost the entire vocabulary of Latin and French primitives and words, could make congruous syntax, turn English into Latin, and vice versa, construe and prove what he read, and did the government and use of relatives, verbs, substantives, ellipses and many figures and tropes, and made a considerable progress in Comenius' Janua; begun himself to write legibly and had a strong passion for Greek. The number of verses he could recite was prodigious, and what he remembered of the parts of plays which he would also act; and, when seeing a Plautus in one's hand, he asked what book it was, and being told it was comedy and too difficult for him, he wept for sorrow. Strange was his apt and ingenious application of fables and morals, for he had read Æsop; he had a wonderful disposition to mathematics,[178] having by heart divers propositions of Euclid that were read to him in play, and he would make lines and demonstrate them. He had learned by heart divers sentences in Latin and Greek which on occasion he would produce even to wonder. He was all life, all prettiness, far from morose, sullen, or childish in any thing he said or did."

Of course this is not given as an ordinary education of an every-day child. It is an extraordinary record of a very unusual child, but it shows what an intelligent child could be permitted to do. Evelyn was a man of great good sense; not the sort of man who would force a child; indeed he averred that he abhorred precocity. But in truth it was a time in England's history when such a child could easily be overstimulated, when public events, the course of history, was so exciting that every child of keen wit must have felt the effects.

The crowding of young minds did not end with the seventeenth century. A striking example of the desire to press education is found in the letters of Lord Chesterfield to his son, beginning in 1738, when the boy was not six years old. The language and subjects would be deemed to-day suited only to mature minds. In 1741 the father wrote:—

"This is the last letter I shall write to you as a little boy, for to-morrow you will attain your ninth year; so that[179] for the future, I shall treat you as a youth. You must now commence a different course of life, a different course of studies. No more levity. Childish toys and playthings must be thrown aside, and your mind directed to serious objects. What was not unbecoming to a child would be disgraceful to a youth" etc.

Letter after letter continued in this tone. For years was the process carried on. The result was a striking proof of the futility of such methods. The son died when but little past his youth, a failure in everything the father had most fondly desired and striven for. The crowded brain ever stumbled and hesitated when put to any important test.

It was inevitable that New England parents, with their fairly passionate intensity of zeal for the education of their children, should in many cases overstimulate and force the infant minds in their charge. It seems somewhat anomalous with the almost universal distrust and hindrance of female education that one of the most precocious flowers of Puritanism should have been a girl, the "pious and ingenious Mrs. Jane Turell," who was born in Boston in 1708. Before her second year was finished she could speak distinctly, knew her letters, and "could relate many stories out of the Scriptures to the satisfaction and pleasure of the most judicious." Governor Dudley and other "wise and polite"[180] New England gentlemen were among those entitled "judicious," who placed her on a table to show off her acquirements. When she was three years old she could recite the greater part of the Assembly's Catechism, many of the psalms, many lines of poetry, and read distinctly; at the age of four she "asked many astonishing questions about divine mysteries."

As her father was President of Harvard College, it may be inferred she had an extended reading course; but in a catalogue of Harvard College library printed a year or two later there is not a title in it of any of the works of Addison, or any of the poems of Pope, nothing of Dryden, Steele, Young, or Prior. In 1722, when Jane Turell was twenty years old, the works of Shakespeare were first advertised for sale in Boston.


The Copley Family

In many families of extreme Puritanical thought, the children developed at an early age a comprehension of religious matters which would seem abnormal to-day, but was natural then. A striking instance of this youthful development (as he was of highly sensitive thought of every description) was Jonathan Edwards. A letter of his written when he was twelve years old is certainly precocious in its depth, though there is a certain hint of humor in it. Some one had stated the belief that the soul was material[181] and remained in the body until after the resurrection. Young Edwards wrote:—

"I am informed yt you have advanced a notion yt the soul is material and keeps wth ye body till ye resurrection. As I am a profest lover of novelty you must alow me to be much entertained by this discovery. 1st. I wd know whether this material soul keeps wth in ye Coffin, and if so whether it might not be convenient to build a repository for it in order wch I wd know wt shape it is of whether round, triangular or foresquare or whether it is a number of long fine strings reaching from ye head to ye foot, and whether it does not live a very discontented life. I am afraid when ye Coffin gives way ye Earth will fall in and crush it, but if it should chuse to live above Ground and hover above ye Grave how big it is, whether it covers all ye body, or is assined to ye Head or Breast, wt it does when another Body is laid upon it. Souls are not so big but yt 10 or a dozen of ym may be about one body whether yy will not quarrill for ye highest place."

His paper on spiders, written when he was but twelve, has become famous as a bit of childish composition. It shows great habits of observance, care in note-taking, and logical reasoning; and bears no evidence of youth either in matter or manner.

A typical example of the spirit of the times in regard to juvenile education is found in the letters of Mrs. Pinckney. She writes to a friend:—


"Shall I give you the trouble my dear Madam to buy my son a new toy (a description of which I inclose) to teach him according to Mr. Locke's method (which I have carefully studied) to play himself into learning. Mr. Pinckney (his father) himself has been contriving a sett of toys to teach him his letters by the time he can speak. You perceive we begin betimes for he is not yet four months old."

This toy may have been what is known to-day as a set of alphabet blocks, a commonplace toy. Locke speaks of a game of dice with letters with which children could play a game like "royal-oak," and through which they would learn to spell. He was not the inventor of these "letter-dice," as is generally asserted. It was a stratagem of Sir Hugh Plat, fully explained and illustrated in his Jewel House of Art and Nature, printed in London in 1653, a portion of a page of which is shown here.

The toy seems to have been a success, for the following year Mrs. Pinckney writes to her sister:—

"Your little nephew not yet two and twenty months old prattles very intelligibly: he gives his duty to you and thanks for the toys, and desires me to tell his Aunt Polly that if she don't take a care and a great deal of pains in her learning, he will soon be the best scholar, for he can tell his letters in any book without hesitation, and begins to spell before he is two years old."


This precocious infant, afterward General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of Revolutionary fame, declared in his later life that this early teaching was sad stuff, and that the haste to make him a very clever fellow nearly made him a very stupid one.


A ready way for children to learn their A.B.C.

Cauſe 4 large dice of bone or wood to be made, and upon every ſquare, one of the ſmal letters of the croſs row to be graven, but in ſome bigger ſhape, and the child uſing to play much with them, and being alwayes told what letter chanceth, will ſoon gain his Alphabet, as it were by the way of ſport or paſtime. I have heard of a pair of cards, whereon moſt of the principall Grammer rules have been printed, and the School-Maſter hath found good ſport thereat with his ſchollers.

Facsimile from Jewel House of Art and Nature

Little Martha Laurens, born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1759, could, in her third year, "read any book"; and like many another child since her day learned to read holding the book upside down.[184] Joseph T. Buckingham declared that when he was four years old he knew by heart nearly all the reading lessons in the primer and much of the Westminster Catechism.

Boys entered the Boston Latin School when as young as but six years and a half old. They began to study Latin frequently when much younger. Zealous and injudicious parents sometimes taught infants but three years old to read Latin words as soon as they could English ones. It redounds to the credit of the scholarship of one of my kinsmen, rather than to his good sense or good temper (albeit he was a minister of the Gospel) that each morning while he shaved, his little son, five years of age, stood by his dressing-table, on a footstool, and read Latin to his father, who had also a copy of the same book open before him, that he might note and correct the child's errors. And the child when grown to old age told his children and grandchildren that his father, angered at what he deemed slowness of progress, frequent errors of pronunciation, and poor attempts at translation, would throw the book at the child, and once felled him from the footstool to the floor.


Polly Flagg, One Year Old, 1751

It is told of Timothy Dwight, President of Yale College, that he learned the alphabet at a single lesson, and could read the Bible before he was four[185] years old, and taught it to his comrades. At the age of six he was sent to the grammar school and importuned his father to let him study Latin. Being denied he studied through the Latin grammar twice without a teacher, borrowing a book of an older boy. He would have been prepared for college when but eight years old, had not the grammar school luckily discontinued and left him without a teacher.

The curriculum at Harvard in olden times bore little resemblance to that of to-day. Sciences were unknown, and the requirements in mathematics were meagre. Still a boy needed even then to be clever to know enough Greek and Latin to enter at eleven. Paul Dudley did so in 1686. His father wrote to the president a quaint letter of introduction:—

"I have humbly to offer you a little, sober, and well-disposed son, who, tho' very young, if he may have the favour of admittance, I hope his learning may be tollerable: and for him I will promise that by your care and my care, his own Industry, and the blessing of God, this mother the University shall not be ashamed to allow him the place of a son—Appoint a time when he may be examined."

There were still younger college students. In 1799 there was graduated from Rhode Island College[186] (now Brown University) a boy named John Pitman, who was barely fourteen.

There is no evidence that the early marriages, that is, marriages of children and very young lads and girls, which were far from rare in England during the first years of our colonial life, ever were permitted in the new world. Nor were they as common at that date in England as during the previous century, for there had been severe legislation against them, especially against the youthful marriages of poor folk.

Many have known of the juvenile weddings of English princes and princesses and marriages by proxy for reasons of state; but few know of these unions being general among English people. An interesting and authoritative book on this subject was published in 1897 by the Early English Text Society. Dr. Furnivall made a careful study of the old court records of the town of Chester, England, and published this account of trials and law cases concerning child-marriages, divorces, ratifications, troth-plights, affiliations, clandestine marriages, and other kindred matters. It is, as the editor says, a "most light-giving" volume. It ranges over all classes, from people of wealth, the manor owners and squires, to ale-house keepers, farmers, cobblers, maids, and men. It tells of the[187] marriages of little children in their nurses' arms, some but two or three years old, so young that their baby tongues could not speak the words of matrimony. Various arrangements, chiefly relating to lands and maintenance, led to these marriages, also a desire to evade the Crown's guardianship of orphans. In one case, a "bigge damsell" of twelve "intysed with two apples" a younger boy to marry her. "The woman tempted me and I did eat." One little bridegroom of three was held up in the arms of an English clergyman, who coaxed him to repeat the words of the service. Before it was finished the child said he would learn no more of his lesson that day. The parson answered, "You must speak a little more and then go play yon." The child-marriage of the Earl and Countess of Essex in 1606, resulting in the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury, and the Countess' marriage to the Earl of Somerset, is a well-known historical example of the unhappy result of such marriages. The Earl of Anglesey's grandson was married in 1673, when he was eight years old. Mary Hewitt of Danton Basset was wedded in 1669, when three years old. In 1672 John Evelyn was present "at the marriage of Lord Arlington's only daughter, a sweet child if there ever was any, aged five, to the Duke of Grafton."


I have given the dates of these later child-marriages to show that they were not unusual in England long after America was settled. As late as 1729 a little English girl of some wealth and but nine years old was taken from her boarding school by her guardian and married to his son. Very differently did the upright New Englander regard the duties of guardianship. A little girl named Rebecca Cooper was left an orphan in early colonial days at Salem, Massachusetts. She was "a verie good match," an "inheritrice," and the sharp eyes of Emanuel Downing and his wife were upon her to "make a motion of marriage" for their son. Both wrote to Governor Winthrop, Madam Downing's brother, to gain his intercession in the matter, though the maid had not been spoken to. Madam wrote:—

"The disposition of the mayde and her education with Mrs. Endicott are hopefull, her person tollerable, the estate very convenient, and that is the state of the business."

Governor Endicott was the guardian and his answering letter to Winthrop has a manly and honorable ring which might well have sounded in the ears of all English guardians.


James Flagg, Five Years Old, 1744

"I am told you are sollicited in a busniss concerninge the girle which was putt to my warde and trust. I have not[189] been made acquainted with it by you know whome, which, if there had been any such intendment, I think had been but reason. But to let that passe, I pray you advise not to stirre in it, for it will not be affected for reasons I shall show you....

"The Lord knows I have alwais resolved (and so hath my wife ever since the girl came to vs) to yielde her vp to be disposed by yourself to any of yours if ever the Lord should make her fitt and worthie.

"Now for the other for whom you writt. I confesse I cannot freelie yeald thereunto for the present, for these grounds. ffirst: The girle desires not to mary as yet. 2ndlee: Shee confesseth (which is the truth) hereselfe to be altogether yett vnfitt for such a condition, shee beinge a verie girl and but 15 yeares of age. 3rdlie: Where the man was moved to her shee said shee could not like him. 4thlie: You know it would be of ill reporte that a girl because shee hath some estate should bee disposed of soe young, espetialie not having any parents to choose for her. ffifthlie: I have some good hopes of the child's coming on to the best thinges. And on the other side I fear—I will say no more. Other things I shall tell you when we meet. If this will not satisfy some, let the Court take her from mee and place with any other to dispose of her. I shall be content. Which I heare was plotted to accomplish this end; but I will further enquire about it, and you shall know if it be true, ffor I know there are many passages about this busniss which when you heare of you will not like."


It is pleasant to record that all this match-making and machination came to naught. It would not have been strange if Governor Winthrop had deemed this girl old enough to be married. He had been but seventeen years old himself when he was married, but he was, so he writes, "a man in stature and understanding." He evidently was of the opinion that a child of fourteen or fifteen was of mature years. When his son John was but fourteen the governor made a will making the boy the executor of it.

These child-marriages were not abolished in America because maturity or majority was established at a greater age; for up to the Revolution boys reached man's estate at sixteen years of age, became tax-payers, and served in the militia. Early unions were controlled by restrictive laws, such as the one enacted in Massachusetts in 1646, that no female orphan during her minority should be given in marriage by any one except with the approbation of the majority of the selectmen of the town in which she resided. Another privilege of the girl orphan was that at fourteen she could choose her own guardian. Thus were children protected in the new world, and their rights conserved.




My child and scholar take good heed
unto the words that here are set,
And see thou do accordingly
or else be sure thou shalt be beat.
The English Schoolmaster. Edward Coote, 1680.

The manner of oldtime children differed as much from the carriage of children to-day as the severe and arbitrary modes of discipline of colonial days differed from the persuasive explanations, the moral inculcations and exhortations by which modern youth are influenced to obedience. Parents, teachers, and ministers chanted in solemn and unceasing chorus, "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child," and they believed the only cure for that foolishness was in stern repression and sharp correction—above all in the rod. They found abundant support for this belief in the Bible, their constant guide.

John Robinson, the Pilgrim preacher, said in his essay on Children and Their Education:—


"Surely there is in all children (though not alike) a stubbernes and stoutnes of minde arising from naturall pride which must in the first place be broken and beaten down that so the foundation of their education being layd in humilitie and tractablenes other virtues may in their time be built thereon. It is commendable in a horse that he be stout and stomackfull being never left to his own government, but always to have his rider on his back and his bit in his mouth, but who would have his child like his horse in his brutishnes?"

The chief field of the "breaking and beating down" process was in school. English schoolmasters were proverbial for their severity, and from earliest days; though monks with their classes are never depicted with the rod.

We find Agnes Paston, in 1457, writing to London for word to be delivered to the schoolmaster of her son Clement, who was then sixteen years old:—

"If he hath nought do well, nor wyll nought amend, pray hym that he wyll trewly belassch hym, tyll he wyll amend; and so did the last master, and the best that ever he had, at Cambridge. And say I wyll give hym X marks for hys labor, for I had lever he were beryed than lost for defaute."


Katherine Ten Broeck, Three Years Old, 1719

She herself had "borne on hand" on her marriageable daughter; beating her every week, sometime[193] twice a day, "and her head broken in two or three places." This seems to have been the usual custom of the British matron in high life. Lady Jane Grey, when she was fifteen years old, never came into the presence of her father and mother but she was "sharply taunted, cruelly threatened, yea, punished sometimes with pinches, nips, bobs, and other way." Elizabeth, Lady Falkland, as long as her mother lived, always spoke to that rigid lady while kneeling before her, "sometimes for more than an hour together, though she was but an ill kneeler, and worse riser." Poor Elizabeth! she was an only child, "an inheritrice"; but she could truthfully aver she never was spoiled.

An early allusion to school discipline is in the Boy Bishop's Sermon from the press of Wynkyn de Worde, who died in 1535. It runs thus:—

"There is no fault he doth but he is punished. Sometimes he wringeth him by the ear, sometimes he giveth him a strype on the hand with the ferrul, sometimes beateth him sharply with the rod."

Great Cromwell was sent off to school with injunctions to the master, Dr. Beard, to flog the boy soundly "for persisting in the wickedness of the assertion" that he had had a vision and prophecy of his future greatness. Dr. Johnson told of the[194] unmerciful beating he had by one Master Hunter, who was "very wrong-headedly severe." He said the man never distinguished between ignorance and negligence, and beat as hard for not knowing a thing as for neglecting to know it, and as he whipped would shout, "This I do to save you from the gallows." Still the Doctor was grateful for the beatings, as he felt to them he owed his knowledge of Latin; and he approved of the rod, saying of some well-behaved young ladies whose mother had whipped them oft and heavily, in variation of one of Shakespeare's lines, "Rod, I will honor thee for this thy duty." His creed of correction was this:—

"I would rather have the rod to be the general terror to all, to make them learn, than to tell a child, if you do this, or thus, you will be more esteemed than your brothers and sisters. The rod produces an effect which terminates in itself. A child is afraid of being whipped, and gets his task, and there's an end on't. Whereas, by exciting emulation and comparisons of superiority, you lay the foundation of lasting mischief; you make brothers and sisters hate each other."

The illustrations of old Dutch books that show school furniture, have the odd ferules of monkish days, the flat ladle-shaped pieces of wood which were distinctly for striking the palm of the scholar's[195] hand. The derivation of the word "ferule" is interesting. It is from ferula, fennel. The tough stalks of the giant fennel of Southern Europe were used by the Roman schoolmasters as an instrument of castigation.



This is a sight to give us pain,
Once seen ne'er wished to see again.

Illustration from Plain Things for Little Folks

Old English lesson books of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, many, even, of the early years of this century, that have any illustrations of classes, schoolmasters, or school interiors, invariably picture[196] the master with a rod or bunch of birch twigs. An old herbalist says:—

"I have not red of any vertue byrche hath in physick, howbeit it serveth many good uses, and none better than for the betynge of stubborn boyes, that either lye or will not learn."

Birch rods were tauntingly sold on London streets with a cry by pedlers of "Buy my fine Jemmies; Buy my London Tartars." Even that miserable Dyves Pragmaticus enumerated "Fyne Rod for Children of Wyllow and Burche" among his wares. A crowning insult was charging the cost of birch rod on schoolboys' bills; and in some cases making the boy pay for the birch out of his scant spending money.

Birch trees were plentiful in America—and whippings too. Scholars in New England were not permitted to forget the methods of discipline of "the good old days." Massachusetts schools resounded with strokes of the rod. Varied instruments of chastisement were known, from

"A besomme of byrche for babes verye fit
To a long lasting lybbet for lubbers as meet."

A lybbet was a billet of wood, and the heavy walnut stick of one Boston master well deserved the name. A cruel inquisitor invented an instrument[197] of torture which he termed a flapper. It was a heavy piece of leather six inches in diameter, with a hole in the middle. This was fastened by an edge to a pliable handle. Every stroke on the bare flesh raised a blister the size of the hole in the leather. Equally brutal was the tattling stick, a cat-o'-nine-tails with heavy leather straps. The whipping with this tattling stick was ordered to be done upon "a peaked block"—whatever that may be. That fierce Boston disciplinarian and patriot, Master Lovell, whipped with strong birch rods, and made one culprit mount the back of another scholar to receive his lashing. He called these whippings trouncings, the good old English word of the Elizabethan dramatists. Another brutal Boston master struck his scholars on the head with a ferule, until this was forbidden by the school directors; he then whipped the soles of the scholars' feet, and roared out in an ecstasy of cruelty, "Oh! the Caitiffs! it is good for them."

There was sometimes an aftermath of sorrow, when our stern old grandfathers whipped their children at home for being whipped at school, so told Rev. Eliphalet Nott.


Whispering Sticks

Many ingenious punishments were invented. A specially insulting one was to send the pupil out to cut a small branch of a tree. A split was made by[198] the teacher at the severed end of the branch, and the culprit's nose was placed in the cleft end. Then he was forced to stand, painfully pinched, an object of ridicule. A familiar punishment of the dame school, which lingered till our own day, was the smart tapping of the child's head with a heavy thimble; this was known as "thimell-pie." Another was to yoke two delinquents together in a yoke made with two bows like an ox yoke. Sometimes times a boy and girl were yoked together—a terrible disgrace. "Whispering sticks" were used to preserve quiet in the schoolroom. Two are shown here, wooden gags to be tied in the mouth with strings, somewhat[199] as a bit is placed in a horse's mouth. Children were punished by being seated on a unipod, a stool with but a single leg, upon which it was most tiring to try to balance; they were made to stand on dunce stools and wear dunce caps and heavy leather spectacles; they were labelled with large placards marked with degrading or ridiculous names, such as "Tell-Tale," "Bite-Finger-Baby," "Lying Ananias," "Idle-Boy," and "Pert-Miss-Prat-a-Pace."

One of Miss Hetty Higginson's punishments in her Salem school at the beginning of this century was to make a child hold a heavy book, such as a dictionary, by a single leaf. Of course any restless motion would tear the leaf. Her rewards of merit should be also told. She would divide a single strawberry in minute portions among six or more scholars; and she had a "bussee," or good child, who was to be kissed.

Many stories have been told of special punishments invented by special teachers. The schoolmaster at Flatbush was annoyed by the children in his school constantly using Dutch words, as he was employed to teach them English. He gave every day to the first scholar who used a Dutch word a little metal token or medal. This scholar could promptly transfer the token to the next child who spoke a Dutch word, and so on; thus it went from[200] hand to hand through the day. But the unlucky scholar who had the token in his possession at the close of school, received a sound whipping.

An amusing method of securing good lessons and good behavior was employed by old Ezekiel Cheever, and was thus told by one of his pupils, Rev. John Barnard:—

"I was a very naughty boy, much given to play, in so much that Master Cheever openly declared, 'You, Barnard, I know you can do well enough if you will, but you are so full of play you hinder your classmates from getting their lessons, therefore if any of them cannot perform their duty, I shall correct you for it.' One day one of my classmates did not look at his book, and could not say his lesson, though I called upon him once and again to mind his book. Whereupon our master beat me.... The boy was pleased with my being corrected and persisted in his neglect for which I was still beaten and that for several days. I thought in justice I ought to correct the boy and compel him to a better temper; therefore after school was done I went to him and told him I had been beaten several times for his neglect and since master would not correct him, I would, and then drubbed him heartily."

The famous Lancasterian system—that of monitorial schools—discountenanced the rod, but the forms of punishment were not wholly above criticism. They were the neck-and-hands pillory, familiar up[201] to that date in England and America as a public punishment of criminals; wooden shackles; hanging in a sack; tying the legs together; and labelling with the name of the offence against rules.


12. Falsehood Punished.

Illustration from Early Seeds to Produce Spring Flowers

I have found nothing to show that Dutch schoolmasters were as severe as those of the English colonies. Dr. Curtius, the first master of the Latin School in New Amsterdam, complained that "his[202] hands were tied as some of the parents of his scholars forbade him punishing their children," and that as a result these unruly young Dutchmen "beat each other and tore the clothes from each other's backs." The contract between the Flatbush Church and schoolmaster, dated 1682, specifies that he shall "demean himself patient and friendly towards the children."

The discipline of Master Leslie, a New York teacher of the next century, is described by Eliza Morton Quincy in her delightful Memoirs. The date is about 1782:—

"His modes of punishment would astonish children of the present day. One of them was to hold the blocks. They were of two sizes. The large one was a heavy block of wood, with a ring in the centre, by which it was to be held a definite number of minutes, according to the magnitude of the offence. The smaller block was for the younger child. Another punishment was by a number of leathern straps, about an inch wide and a finger long, with which he used to strap the hands of the larger boys."

One German schoolmaster, Samuel Dock, stands out in relief in this desert of ignorance and cruelty. With simplicity and earnestness he wrote in 1750 the story of his successful teaching, as in simplicity and earnestness he had taught in his school at Shippack. His story is as homely as his life:—


"How I Receive the Children in School.

"It is done in the following manner. The child is first welcomed by the other scholars, who extend their hands to it. It is then asked by me whether it will learn industriously and be obedient. If it promises me this, I explain to it how it must behave; and if it can say its A. B. C.'s in order, one after the other, and also by way of proof, can point out with the forefinger all the designated letters, it is put into the A-b, Abs. When it gets thus far, its father must give it a penny and its mother must cook for it two eggs, because of its industry; and a similar reward is due to it when it goes further into words; and so forth."

He made them little presents as prizes; drew pictures for them; taught them singing and also musical notation; and he had a plan to have the children teach each other. He had a careful set of rules for their behavior, to try to change them from brutish peasants to intelligent citizens. They must be clean; and delinquents were not punished with the rod, but by having the whole school write and shout out their names with the word "lazy" attached. Letter-writing was carefully taught, with exercises in writing to various people, and to each other. Profanity was punished by wearing a yoke, and being told the awful purport of the oaths. He taught spelling and reading with much Bible instruction; but he did not teach the Catechism, since[204] he had scholars of many sects and denominations; however, he made them all learn and understand what he called the "honey-flowers of the New Testament."

In order to appreciate his gentleness and intelligence, one should know of the drunken, dirty, careless, and cruel teachers in other Pennsylvania schools. One whipped daily and hourly with a hickory club with leather thongs attached at one end; this he called the "taws." Another had a row of rods of different sizes which, with ugly humor, he termed his "mint sticks." Another, nicknamed Tiptoe Bobby, always carried a raccoon's tail slightly weighted at the butt-end; this he would throw with sudden accuracy at any offender, who meekly returned it to his instructor and received a fierce whipping with a butt-end of rawhide with strips of leather at the smaller end. One Quaker teacher in Philadelphia, John Todd, had such a passion for incessant whipping that, after reading accounts of his ferocious discipline, his manner and his words, the only explanation of his violence and cruelty is that of insanity.


Cathalina Post, Fourteen Years Old, 1750

There is no doubt that the practice of whipping servants was common here, not only children who were bound out, and apprentices and young redemptioners, but grown servants as well. Occasionally[205] the cruel master was fined or punished for a brutal over-exercise of his right of punishment. At least one little child died from the hand of his murderous master. In Boston and other towns commissioners were elected who had power to sentence to be whipped, exceeding ten stripes, children and servants who behaved "disobediently and disorderly toward their parents, masters, and governours, to the disturbance of families and discouragement of such parents and governours." In Hartford, Connecticut, a topping young maid felt the force of a similar law:—

"Susan Coles for her rebellious cariedge towards her mistris is to be sent to the house of correction, and be kept to hard labour and coarse dyet, to be brought forth the next Lecture Day to be publicquely corrected and so to be corrected Weekly until Order be given to the Contrary."

Scores of similar records might be given. Judge Sewall, in his diary, never refers to punishing his servants, nor to any need of punishing them. There is some evidence of their faithfulness and of his satisfaction in it, especially in the references to his negro man servant, Boston, who, after a life of faithful service, was buried like a gentleman, with a ceremonious funeral, a notice of his death in the News Letter, a well-warmed parlor, chairs set[206] in orderly rows, cake and wine, and doubtless gloves.

John Wynter was the head agent of a London company at a settlement at Richmond's Island, in Maine. His wife had an idle maid, and some report of her beating this maid was sent back to England. Wynter writes:—

"You write of some yll reports is given of my Wyfe for beatinge the maide: yf a faire way will not doe yt, beatinge must sometimes vppon such idle girrels as she is. Yf you think yt fitte for my Wyfe to do all the work and the maide sitt still, and shee must forbear her hands to strike then the work will lye vndonn.... Her beatinge that she hath had hath never hurt her body nor limes. She is so fatt and soggy shee can hardly doe any work. Yf this maide at her lazy tymes when she hath bin found in her yll accyons doe not disserve 2 or 3 blowes I pray you who hath the most reason to complain my Wyfe or maide. My Wyfe hath an vnthankful office."


Illustration from "Young Wilfrid"

It has surprised me that this complaint—and others—should have been sent home to England, where (as we have abundant evidence) the whipping of servants was excessive and constant. Pepys and other old English authors make frequent note of it. Pepys whipped his boy till his arm was lame. The Diary of a Lady of Quality gives some glimpses of this custom. On January 30, 1760, Lady[207] Frances Pennoyer writes at her home at Bullingham Court, Herefordshire, that one of her maids spoke in the housekeeper's room about a matter that was not to the credit of the family. My lady knew there was truth in what the girl said, but it was not her place to speak of it, and she must be taught to know and keep her place.

The diarist writes:—

"She hath a pretty face, and should not be too ready to speak ill of those above her in station. I should be very sorry to turn her adrift upon the world, and she hath but a poor home. Sent for her to my room, and gave her choice, either to be well whipped or to leave the house instantly. She chose wisely I think and with many tears said I might do what I liked. I bade her attend my chamber at twelve.

"Dearlove, my maid, came to my room as I bade her. I bade her fetch the rod from what was my mother-in-law's rod-closet, and kneel and ask pardon, which she did with tears. I made her prepare, and I whipped her well. The girl's flesh is plump and firm, and she is a cleanly person, such a one, not excepting my own daughters who are thin, and one of them, Charlotte, rather sallow, as I have not whipped for a long time. She hath never been whipped before, she says, since she was a child (what can her mother and the late lady have been about I wonder?), and she cried out a great deal."

Poor little Dearlove, fair and plump, and in bitter[208] tears—you make a more pleasing picture seen through the haze of a century than fierce my lady with her rod.

The many hundred pages of Judge Sewall's diary give abundant testimony of his tender affection for his children. In this record of his entire married life he but twice refers to punishing his children; once his son was whipped for telling a lie, a second time he notes the punishment thus:—

"1692, Nov. 6. Joseph threw a knob of Brass, and hit his sister Betty upon the forehead so as to make it bleed; upon which, and for his playing at Prayer-time, and eating when Return Thanks I whip'd him pretty smartly. When I first went in, call'd by his Grandmother, he sought to shadow and hide himself from me behind the head of the Cradle, which gave me the sorrowful remembrance of Adam's carriage."

It was natural that Judge Sewall, ever finding symbols of religious signification in natural events, should see in his son Joseph's demeanor a painful reminder of original sin; and we can imagine with what sad sense of duty he whipped him.

It is the standard resort of ignorant writers upon Puritanism, and especially upon Puritanic severity, to give the name of Cotton Mather as a prime expositor of cruel discipline. I have before me a magazine illustration which represents him, lean,[209] lank, violent, and mean of aspect, with clipped head, raising a heavy bunch of rods over a cowering child. He was in reality exceedingly handsome, very richly bewigged, with the full, distinctly sensual countenance of the Cottons, not the severe ascetic features of the Mathers, and he as strongly opposed punishment by the rod as most of his friends and neighbors favored and practised it. His son wrote of him:—

"The slavish way of education carried on with raving and kicking and scourging, in schools as well as in families, he looked upon as a dreadful judgment of God on the world: he thought the practice abominable and expressed a mortal aversion to it.

"The first chastisement which he would inflict for any ordinary fault, was to let the child see and hear him in an astonishment, and hardly able to believe that the child would do so base a thing. He would never come to give the child a blow, except in case of obstinacy, or something very criminal. To be chased for a while out of his presence he would make to be looked upon as the sorest punishment in his family."

There can be found episodes of colonial history where the disprejudiced modern mind can perceive ample need of the sharp whippings so freely bestowed upon dull or idle scholars and slow servants. Cotton Mather was too gentle and too forbearing[210] toward certain children with whom he had close relations. A "warm birch" applied in the early stages of that terrible tragedy, the Salem Witchcraft, to Ann Putnam, the protagonist of that drama, would doubtless so quickly have ended it in its incipiency as to obliterate it entirely from the pages of history.


William Verstile 1769




A child should always say what's true,
And speak when he is spoken to,
And behave mannerly at table,
At least as far as he is able.
A Child's Garden of Verse. Robert Louis Stevenson, 1895

In ancient days in England, manners and courtesy, manly exercises, music and singing, knowledge of precedency and rank, heraldry and ability to carve, were much more important elements in education than Latin and philosophy. Children were sent to school, and placed in great men's houses to learn courtesy and the formalities of high life.

Of all the accomplishments and studies of the Squire as recounted by Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales, but one would now be taught in English college—music. Of all which were taught, courtesy was deemed the most important.

"Aristotle the Philosopher
this worthye sayinge writ
That manners in a chylde
are more requisit
Than playinge on instrumentes
and other vayne pleasure;
For virtuous manners
is a most precious treasure."

The importance given to outward forms of courtesy was a natural result of the domination for centuries of the laws of chivalry and rules of heraldry. But they were something more than outward show. Emerson says, "The forms of politeness universally express benevolence in a superlative degree." They certainly developed a regard for others which is evinced in its highest and best type in the character of what we term a gentleman and gentlewoman.

It is impossible to overestimate the value these laws of etiquette, these conventions of customs had at a time when neighborhood life was the whole outside world. Without them life would have proved unendurable. Even savage nations and tribes have felt in their isolated lives the need of some conventions, which with them assume the form of taboos, superstitious observances, and religious restrictions.

The laws of courtesy had much influence upon the development of the character of the colonial child. Domestic life lacked many of the comforts of to-day, but save in formality it did not differ in essential elements from our own home life. Everything[213] in the community was made to tend to the preservation of relations of civility; this is plainly shown by the laws. Modern historians have been wont to wax jocose over the accounts of law-suits for slander, scandal-monging, name-calling, lying, etc., which may be found in colonial court records. Astonishingly petty seem many of the charges; even the calling of degrading nicknames, making of wry faces, jeering, and "finger-sticking" were fined and punished. But all this rigidity tended to a preservation of peace. The child who saw a man fined for lying, who beheld another set in the stocks for calling his neighbor ill names, or repeating scandalous assertions, grew up with a definite knowledge of the wickedness and danger of lying, and a wholesome regard for the proprieties of life. These sentiments may not have made him a better man, but they certainly made him a more endurable one.

The child of colonial days had but little connection with, little knowledge of, the world at large. He probably never had seen a map of the world, and if he had, he didn't understand it. Foreign news there was none, in our present sense. Of special English events he might occasionally learn, months after they had happened; but never any details nor any ordinary happenings. European information was of the scantiest and rarest kind; knowledge of[214] the result of a war or a vast disaster, like the Lisbon earthquake, might come. From the other great continents came nothing.

Nor was his knowledge of his own land extended. There was nothing to interest him in the newsletter, even if he read it. He cared nothing for the other colonies, he knew little of other towns. If he lived in a seaport, he doubtless heard from the sailors on the wharves tales of adventure and romantic interest, and he heard from his elders details of trade, both of foreign and native ports.

The boy, therefore, grew up with his life revolving in a small circle; the girl's was still smaller. It had its advantages and its serious disadvantages. It developed an extraordinarily noble and pure type of neighborliness, but it did not foster a general broad love of humanity. Perhaps those conditions developed types which were fitted to receive and absorb gradually the more extended views of life which came through the wider extent of vision, which has been brought to us by newspapers, by steam, and by electricity. At any rate children were serenely content, for they were unconscious.


The Pepperell Children

Among early printed English books are many containing rules of courtesy and behavior. Many of these and manuscripts on kindred topics were carefully reprinted in 1868 by the Early English[215] Text Society of Great Britain. Among these are: The Babees Book; The Lytill Children's Lytil Boke; The Boke of Nurture, 1577; The Boke of Curtasye, 1460; The Schole of Vertue, 1557. From those days till the present, similar books have been written and printed, and form a history of domestic manners.

It certainly conveys an idea of the demeanor of children of colonial days to read what was enjoined upon them in a little book of etiquette which was apparently widely circulated, and doubtless carefully read. Instructions as to behavior at the table run thus:—

"Never sit down at the table till asked, and after the blessing. Ask for nothing; tarry till it be offered thee. Speak not. Bite not thy bread but break it. Take salt only with a clean knife. Dip not the meat in the same. Hold not thy knife upright but sloping, and lay it down at right hand of plate with blade on plate. Look not earnestly at any other that is eating. When moderately satisfied leave the table. Sing not, hum not, wriggle not. Spit no where in the room but in the corner, and—"

But I will pursue the quotation no further, nor discover other eighteenth-century pronenesses painfully revealed in lurid light in other detailed "Don'ts."

It is evident that the ancient child was prone to eat as did Dr. Samuel Johnson, hotly, avidly, with[216] strange loud eager champings; he was enjoined to more moderation:—

"Eat not too fast nor with Greedy Behavior. Eat not vastly but moderately. Make not a noise with thy Tongue, Mouth, Lips, or Breath in Thy Eating and Drinking. Smell not of thy Meat; nor put it to Thy Nose; turn it not the other side upward on Thy Plate."


RULES for Childrens

At Church, at Home, at Table, in Company, in Diſcourſe, at School, abroad, and among Boys. With ſome other ſhort and mixt Precepts.

By the Author of the Engliſh Exerciſes.

The Fourth Edition.


Printed for Tho. Cockerill, at the Three Legs and Bible againſt Grocers-Hall in the Poultrey, 1701.

Title-page of The School of Manners

In many households in the new world children could not be seated at the table, even after the blessing had been asked. They stood through the entire meal. Sometimes they had a standing place and plate or trencher; at other boards they stood behind the grown folk and took whatever food was handed to them. This must have been in families of low social station and meagre house furnishings.[217] In many homes they sat or stood at a side-table, and trencher in hand, ran over to the great table for their supplies. A certain formality existed at the table of more fashionable folk. Children were given a few drops of wine in which to drink the health of their elders. In one family the formula was, "Health to papa and mamma, health to brothers and sisters, health to all my friends." In another, the father's health only was named. Sometimes the presence of grandparents at the table was the only occasion when children joined in health-drinking.

The little book teaches good listening:—

"When any speak to thee, stand up. Say not I have heard it before. Never endeavour to help him out if he tell it not right. Snigger not; never question the Truth of it."

The child is enjoined minutely as to his behavior at school: to take off his hat at entering, and bow to the teacher; to rise up and bow at the entrance of any stranger; to "bawl not in speaking"; to "walk not cheek by jole," but fall respectfully behind and always "give the Wall to Superiors."



17. Bite not thy bread, but break it, but not with ſlovenly Fingers, nor with the ſame wherewith thou takeſt up thy meat.

18. Dip not thy Meat in the Sawce.

19. Take not ſalt with a greazy Knife.

20. Spit not, cough not, nor blow thy Noſe at Table if it may be avoided; but if there be neceſſity, do it aſide, and without much noiſe.

21. Lean not thy Elbow on the Table, or on the back of thy Chair.

22. Stuff not thy mouth ſo as to fill thy Cheeks; be content with ſmaller Mouthfuls.

23. Blow not thy Meat, but with Patience wait till it be cool.

24. Sup not Broth at the Table, but eat it with a Spoon.

Page of The School of Manners

The young student's passage from his home to his school should be as decorous as his demeanor at either terminus:—


"Run not Hastily in the Street, nor go too Slowly. Wag not to and fro, nor use any Antick Postures either of thy Head, Hands, Feet or Body. Throw not aught on the Street, as Dirt or Stones. If thou meetest the scholars of any other School jeer not nor affront them, but show them love and respect and quietly let them pass along."


Boys took a good deal from their preceptors, and took it patiently and respectfully; but I can well imagine the roar of disgust with which even a much-hampered, eighteenth-century schoolboy read the instructions to show love and respect to the boys of a rival school and not to jeer or fire stones at them.

This book of manners was reprinted in Worcester by Isaiah Thomas in 1787. I have seen an earlier edition, called The School of Manners, which was published in London in 1701. The title-page and a page of the precepts are here reproduced. The directions in these books of etiquette are plainly copied from a famous book entitled Youths' Behaviour, or Decency in Conversation Amongst Men, a book unsurpassed in the seventeenth century as an epitome of contemporary manners, and held in such esteem that it ran through eleven editions in less than forty years after its first appearance. Not the least remarkable thing about this volume was the fact that the first edition in English was by an "ingeniose Spark" not then eight years of age, one Francis Hawkins, who rendered it from "the French of grave persons." The bookseller begs the reader to "connive at the stile," on the plea that it was "wrought by an uncouth and rough file of one in green years." Green years! we cannot fancy sober young Francis as ever green or as anything but a[220] sere and prematurely withered leaf. We can see him in sad colored attire, carefully made quill pen in hand, seated at desk and standish, his poor little shrunken legs hanging pitifully down, inditing on foolscap with precision and elegance his pompous precepts. After all he only translated these maxims; hence, perhaps, was the reason that he managed to live to grow up. For translating did not tax his "intellectuals" as would have composition.

The Youths' Behaviour contained many rules and instructions worded from still older books on courtesy, such as The Babees Book, and The Boke of Nurture, and traces of those hackneyed rules lingered even in the etiquette books of Isaiah Thomas, long after the house-furnishings and household conditions indicated by them and sometimes necessitated by them had become as obsolete as the formal duties of the squire's sons, "the younkers of account, youths of good houses, and young gentlemen henxmen," for whom they had originally been written. Let us believe that the habits pointed out by such rules were obsolete also. I cannot think, for instance, that the boy born after our Revolutionary war was in the habit of casting poultry and meat bones under dining tables, even though he is so seriously enjoined not to do so. This rule is a survivor from the earthen floors and dirty ways of old England.


A famous book of rules of etiquette, entitled The Mirror of Compliments, was printed in 1635 in England, and as late as 1795 many pages of it were reprinted in America by Thomas under the title A New Academy of Compliments. The teachings in this book were fearfully and wonderfully polite. This is the sort of thing enjoined upon children and grown folk as correct phrases to be exchanged on the subject of breaking bread together:—

"Sir, you shall oblige me very much if you will do me the honour to take my poor dinner with me.

"Sir, you are too courteous and persuasive to be refused and therefore I shall trouble you.

"Sir, pray excuse your bad entertainment at the present dinner and another time we will endeavour to make you amends.

"Truly, Sir, it has been very good, without any defect, and needs no excuse."

The child who sought to be mannerly certainly must have felt rather discouraged at the prospect laid before him. These superfluities of politeness were equalled by the absurdities of restraint. It would certainly have been a study of facial expression to see the average schoolboy when he read this dictum, "It is a wilde and rude thing to lean upon ones elbow."

In Brinsley's Grammar Schoole, written in 1612,[222] he enumerates the "bookes to bee first learned of children." First were "abcies" and primers, then the Psalms in metre, then the Testament.

"Then if any other require any little booke meet to enter Children, the Schoole of Virtue is one of the Principall, and easiest for the first enterers being full of precepts of ciuilitie.... And after the Schoole of Good Manners, leading the child as by the hand, in the way of all good manners."

The constant reading of these books, and the persistent reprinting of their formal rules of behavior, may have tended to conserve the old-fashioned deportment of children which has been so lamented by aged grumblers and lovers of the good old times. It was certainly natural that children should be affected by the regard for etiquette, the distinctions of social position which they saw heeded all around them, and in all departments of life. No man could enlist in the Massachusetts Cavalry unless he had a certain amount of property. Even boys in college had their names placed in the catalogues, not by classes, years, scholarship, or alphabetical order, but by the dignity and wealth of their family and social position; and a college boy at Harvard had to give the baluster side of the staircase to any one who was his social superior.[223] Of course the careful "seating of the meeting" was simply an evidence of this regard of rank and station.


Thomas Aston Coffin, Three Years Old

It was a profound distance between Mr. and Goodman. Mistress and Goody marked a distinction as positive if not as great as between a duchess and a milkmaid. Unmarried women and girls, if deemed worthy any title at all, were not termed Miss, but were also Mrs. Rev. Mr. Tompson wrote a funeral tribute to a little girl of six, entitled, "A Neighbour's Tears dropt on ye Grave of an amiable Virgin; a pleasant Plant cut down in the blooming of her Spring, viz: Mrs. Rebecka Sewall August ye 4th, 1710." Cotton Mather wrote of "Mrs. Sarah Gerrish, a very beautiful and ingenious damsel seven years of age." Miss was not exactly a term of reproach, but it was not one of respect. It denoted childishness, flippancy, lack of character, and was not applied in public to children of dignified families. In Evelina the vulgar cousins, the Branghtons, call the heroine Miss. "Lord! Miss, never mind that!" "Aunt has told you all hant she, Miss?"

A certain regard for formality obtained even in very humble households. The childhood of David and John Brainerd, born respectively in 1718 and 1720, in East Haddam, Connecticut, who later in[224] life were missionaries to the New Jersey Indians, has been written by a kinsman. They were nurtured under the influences of Connecticut Puritanism, in a simple New England home. Their biographer writes of their rearing:—

"A boy was early taught a profound respect for his parents, teachers, and guardians, and implicit prompt obedience. If he undertook to rebel his will was broken by persistent and adequate punishment. He was taught that it was a sin to find fault with his meals, his apparel, his tasks or his lot in life. Courtesy was enjoined as a duty. He must be silent among his superiors. If addressed by older persons he must respond with a bow. He was to bow as he entered and left the school, and to every man and woman, old or young, rich or poor, black or white, whom he met on the road. Special punishment was visited on him if he failed to show respect for the aged, the poor, the colored, or to any persons whatever whom God had visited with infirmities."

All children in godly households were taught personal consideration of the old and afflicted, a consideration which lasted till our present days of organized charities. As a lesson of patience and kindness, read Mrs. Silsbee's account of the blind piano tuner in Salem. He was employed in many households and ever treated with marked attention. His tuning instrument had to be placed for[225] him on each piano-screw by some member of the family. He was paid, given cake and wine, then humored by being given a tangled skein of silk to unravel and thus show his dexterity, and finally led tenderly home.

Sir Francis Doyle says, "It is the intention of the Almighty that there should exist for a certain time between childhood and manhood, the natural production known as a boy." This natural production existed two centuries ago as well as to-day. Though children were certainly subdued and silent in the presence of older folk, still they were boys and girls, not machine-like models of perfection. We know of their turbulence in church; and boys in colonial days robbed orchards, and played ball in the streets, and tore down gates, and frightened horses, and threw stones with as much vim and violence as if they had been born in the nineteenth century. Mather, in his Vindication of New England, referring to the charge of injuring King's Chapel, shows us Boston schoolboys in much the same mischief that schoolboys have been in since:—

"All the mischief done is the breaking of a few Quarels of Glass by idle Boys, who if discover'd had been chastis'd by their own Parents. They have built their Chapel in a Publick burying place, next adjoining a great Free School, where the Boyes (having gotten to play) may, some by[226] Accident, some in Frolick, and some perhaps in Revenge for disturbing their Relatives' Graves by the Foundation of that Building, have broken a few Quarels of the Windows."

Children did not always pose either as models of decorum or propriety in their relations with each other. In a little book called The Village School, we read of their beating and kicking each other, and that there was one bleeding nose. Worse yet, when the girls went forth to gather "daisies and butter-flowers," the ungallant boys kicked the girls "to make them pipe."




Puritanism is not of the Nineteenth Century, but of the Seventeenth, the grand unintelligibility for us lies there. The Fast Day Sermons, in spite of printers, are all grown dumb. In long rows of dumpy little quartos they indeed stand here bodily before us; by human volition they can be read, but not by any human memory remembered. The Age of the Puritans is not extinct only and gone away from us, but it is as if fallen beyond the capabilities of memory itself; it is grown what we may call incredible. Its earnest Purport awakens now no resonance in our frivolous hearts, ... the sound of it has become tedious as a tale of past stupidities.

          —Oliver Cromwell's Life and Letters. Thomas Carlyle, 1845.

The religious aspect of the life of children, especially in early colonial days, and most particularly in New England, bore a far deeper relation to the round of daily life than can be accorded to it in these pages. The spirit of the Lord, perhaps I should say the fear of the Lord, truly filled their days. Born into a religious atmosphere, reared in religious ways, surrounded on every side by religious influences, they could not escape[228] the impress of deep religious feeling; they certainly had a profound familiarity with the Bible. The historian Green says that the Englishman of that day was a man of one book, and that book the Bible. It might with equal truth be said that the universal child's book of that day was the Bible. There were few American children until after the Revolution who had ever read from any book save the Bible, a primer, or catechism, and perhaps a hymn book or an almanac.

The usual method at that time of reading the Bible through was in the regular succession of every chapter from beginning to end, not leaving out even Leviticus and Numbers. This naturally detracted from the interest which would have been awakened by a wise selection of parts suited to the liking of children; and many portions doubtless frightened young children, as we have abundant record in the writings of Sewall and Mather. J. T. Buckingham stated in his Memoirs that he read the Bible through at least a dozen times before he was sixteen years old. Some portions, especially the Apocalypse or Revelation of St. John, filled him with unspeakable terror, and he called the enforced reading of them "a piece of gratuitous and unprofitable cruelty." He was careful, however, to pay due tribute to the influence of the Bible upon his literary composition and[229] phraseology. The constant reading of the beautiful English wording of the Bible influenced not only the style of writing of that day, but controlled the everyday speech of the people, keeping it pure and simple.


Mrs. John Hesselius and her Children, John and Caroline

There was one important reason for the unfailing desire of English folk for the Bible and the employment of its words and terms; it was not only the sole book with which most English readers were familiar,—the book which supplied to them sacred hymns and warlike songs, the great voices of the prophets, the parables of the Evangelists, stories of peril and adventure, logic, legends, history, visions,—but it was also a new book. The family of the seventeenth century that read the words of the small Geneva Bibles in the home circle, or poorer folk who listened to the outdoor reading thereof, heard a voice that they had longed for and waited for and suffered for, and that their fathers had died for, and a treasure thus acquired is never lightly heeded. The Pilgrim Fathers left England for Holland before King James' Bible, our Authorized Version, had been published. The Puritans of the Boston and Salem settlements had seen the importation of Geneva Bibles forbidden in England by Laud in 1633, and the reading prohibited at their meetings. They revelled in it in their new homes, for custom[230] had not deadened their delight, and they were filled with it; it satisfied them; they needed no other literature.

Though Puritanism in its anxious and restricted religionism denied freedom to childhood, yet the spirit of Puritanism was deeply observant and conservative of family relations. The meagre records of domestic life in Puritan households are full of a pure affection, if not of grace or good cheer. The welfare, if not the pleasure of their children, lay close to the heart of the Pilgrims. Their love was seldom expressed, but their rigid sense of duty extended to duty to be fulfilled as well as exacted.

Governor Bradford wrote in his now world-famous Log-book, in his lucid and beautiful English, an account of the motives of the emigration from Holland, and in a few sentences therein he gives one of the most profound reasons of all, their intense yearning for the true welfare of their children:—

"As necessitie was a taskmaster over them, so they were forced to be such, not only to their servants but in a sorte, to their dearest children; the which as it did not a little wound ye tender harts of many a loving father and mother, so it produced likewise sundrie sad and sorrowful effects. For many of theier children, that were of best dispositions and gracious inclinations, having lernde to bear the yoake in their youth and willing to beare parte of their[231] parents burden, were often times so oppressed with their hevie labours, that though their minds were free and willing yet their bodies bowed under ye weight of ye same, and became decrepid in their early youth, the vigor of nature being consumed in ye very budd as it were. But that which was more lamentable and of all sorrows most heavie to be borne was that many of their children, were drawne away by evill examples into extravagant and dangerous coarses, getting ye raines off their necks, and departing from their parents."

This country was settled at a time when all English people were religious. The Puritan child was full of religious thoughts and exercises, so also was the child of Roman Catholic parents, or one reared in the Established Church. The diarist Evelyn was a stanch Church of England man, no lover of Puritan ways, but he could write thus of his little child:—

"As to his piety, astonishing were his applications of Scripture upon occasion and his sense of God. He had learned all his Catechism early, and understood all the historical part of the Bible and New Testament to a wonder, how Christ came to redeem mankind, and how comprehending those messages himself, his godfathers were discharged of his promises.

"He would of himself select the most pathetic psalms and chapters out of Job, to read to his maid during his[232] sickness, telling her, when she pitied him, that all God's children must suffer affliction. He declaimed against the vanities of the world before he had seen any. Often he would desire those who came to see him to pray by him, and a year before he fell sick to kneel and pray with him alone in some corner."

It was not of a Puritan dame that this was written:—

"Her Maids came into her Chamber early every morning, and ordinarily shee passed about an howr with them; In praying, and catechizing, and instructing them: To these secret and private Praiers, the publick Morning and Evening praiers of the Church, before dinner and supper, and another form, together with reading Scriptures, and singing Psalms, before bed-time, were daily and constantly added."

This zealous Christian was Letice, Lady Falkland, a devoted Church of England woman; so strict was she that if she missed any from the religious services, she "presently sent for them and consecrated another howr of praier there purposely for them." A strenuous insistence showed itself in all sects in the new world. The "Articles Lawes and Orders Divine Politique and Martiall for the colony of Virginea" were unrivalled in their mingling of barbarity and Christianity by any other code of laws issued in America. No Puritan dared go farther than did the good Episcopalian Sir Thomas[233] Dale. For irreverence to "any Preacher or Minister of Gods Holy Word" the offender was to be whipped three times and thrice to ask public forgiveness. Any one who persistently refused to be instructed and catechized could be whipped every day. Rigidly were all forced to attend the Sunday exercises.

There is one name which must appear constantly on the pages of any history of New England of the half century from 1680 to 1728,—that of Cotton Mather. This reference is due him not only because he was prominent in the history of those years, but because he is the preserver of that history for us. From his multitudinous pages—full though they be of extraordinary religious sentiments, strained metaphors, and unmistakable slang—we also gain much to show us the life of his day. The man himself was not only a Puritan of the Puritans, but the personification of a passionate desire to do good. This constant thought for others and wish to benefit them frequently led him to perform deeds which were certainly officious, ill-timed, and unwelcome, though inspired by noble motives.

His son Samuel wrote a life of him, which has justly been characterized by Professor Barrett Wendell as the most colorless book in the English language; but even from those bleached and dried pages we[234] learn of Cotton Mather's love of his children, and his earnest desire for their education and salvation. His son's words may be given as evidently truthful:—

"He began betimes to entertain them with delightful stories, especially Scriptural ones; and he would ever conclude with some lesson of piety bidding them to learn that lesson from the story. Thus every day at the table he used himself to tell some entertaining tale before he rose; and endeavor to make it useful to the olive plants about the table. When his children accidentally at any time came in his way, it was his custom to let fall some sentence or other that might be monitory or profitable to them.

"He betimes tried to engage his children in exercises of piety, and especially secret prayer.... He would often call upon them, 'Child, don't you forget every day to go alone and pray as I have directed you.' He betimes endeavoured to form in his children a temper of kindness. He would put them upon doing services and kindnesses for one another and other children. He would applaud them when he saw them delight in it. He would upbraid all aversion to it. He would caution them exquisitely against all revenges of injuries and would instruct them to return good offices for evil ones.... He would let them discover he was not satisfied, except when they had a sweetness of temper shining in them."

His thought for the young did not cease with those of his own family; he never failed to instil[235] good lessons everywhere; and a special habit of his on visiting any town was to beg a holiday for the school children, asking them to perform some religious task in return.


Charlotte and Elizabeth Hesselius

Another Puritan preacher, Rev. Ezekiel Rogers, was so laden with the fruit of the tree of knowledge that "he stoopt for the very children to pick off the apple ready to drop into their mouths." When they came to his study, he would examine them, "How they walked with God? How they spent their time, what good books they read? Whether they prayed without ceasing?" He wrote to a brother minister in 1657:—

"Do your children and family grow more godly? I find greatest trouble and grief about the rising generation. Young people are little stirred here; but they strengthen one another in evil by example and by counsel. Much ado have I with my own family; hard to get a servant that is glad of catechizing or family duties. I had a rare blessing of servants in Yorkshire, and those that I brought over were a blessing, but the young brood doth much afflict me. Even the children of the godly here, and elsewhere make a woful proof."

These ministers lived at a time when New England Puritanism in its extreme type was coming to a close; but parents and households thus reared clung more rigidly and exactly to it and instilled[236] in it a fervent hope of giving permanency to what seemed to their sad eyes in danger of being wholly thrust aside and lost. Such religionists were both Cotton Mather and Samuel Sewall, "true New-English Christians" they called and deemed themselves. They were very gentle with their children; but a profound anxiety for the welfare of those young souls made them most cruel in the intensity of their teaching and warning; especially displeasing to modern modes of thought are their constant reminders of death.

When Cotton Mather's little daughter was but four years old he made this entry in his diary:—

"I took my little daughter Katy into my Study and then I told my child I am to dye Shortly and shee must, when I am Dead, remember Everything I now said unto her. I sett before her the sinful Condition of her Nature, and I charged her to pray in Secret Places every Day. That God for the sake of Jesus Christ would give her a New Heart. I gave her to understand that when I am taken from her she must look to meet with more humbling Afflictions than she does now she has a Tender Father to provide for her."

The vanity of all such painful instruction, harrowing to the father and terrifying to the child, is shown in the sequel. Cotton Mather did not die till thirty years afterward, and long survived the[237] tender little blossom that he loved yet blighted with the chill and dread of death.

The pages of Judge Sewall's diary sadly prove his performance of what he believed to be his duty to his children, just as the entries show the bewilderment and terror of his children under his teachings. Elizabeth Sewall was the most timid and fearful of them all; a frightened child, a retiring girl, a vacillating sweetheart, an unwilling bride, she became the mother of eight children; but always suffered from morbid introspection, and overwhelming fear of death and the future life, until at the age of thirty-five her father sadly wrote, "God has delivered her now from all her fears."

The process which developed this unhappy nature is plainly shown by many entries in the diary. This was when she was about five years old:—

"It falls to my daughter Elizabeth's Share to read the 24 of Isaiah which she doth with many Tears not being very well and the Contents of the Chapter and Sympathy with her draw Tears from me also."

The terrible verses telling of God's judgment on the land, of fear, of the pit, of the snare, of emptiness and waste, of destruction and desolation, must have sunk deep into the heart of the sick child, and[238] produced the condition shown by this entry when she was a few years older:—

"When I came in, past 7 at night, my wife met me in the Entry and told me Betty had surprised them. I was surprised with the Abruptness of the Relation. It seems Betty Sewall had given some signs of dejection and sorrow; but a little while after dinner she burst into an amazing cry which caus'd all the family to cry too. Her Mother ask'd the Reason, she gave none; at last said she was afraid she should go to Hell, her Sins were not pardon'd. She was first wounded by my reading a sermon of Mr. Norton's; Text, Ye shall seek me and shall not find me. And these words in the Sermon, Ye shall seek me and die in your Sins, ran in her Mind and terrified her greatly. And staying at home, she read out of Mr. Cotton Mather—Why hath Satan filled thy Heart? which increas'd her Fear. Her Mother asked her whether she pray'd. She answered Yes, but fear'd her prayers were not heard, because her sins were not pardoned."

Poor little wounded Betty! her fear that she should go to hell because she, like Spira, was not elected, was answered by her father who, having led her into this sad state, was but ill-fitted to comfort her. Both prayed with bitter tears, and he says mournfully, "I hope God heard us." Hell, Satan, eternal damnation, everlasting torments, were ever held up before these Puritan children. We could[239] truthfully paraphrase Wordsworth's beautiful line "Heaven lies about us in our infancy," and say of these Boston children, "Hell lay about them in their infancy." The lists in their books of the proper names in the Bible had an accompanying list—that of names of the devil.

A most painfully explicit account of one of the ultra-sensitive natures developed by these methods is given by Cotton Mather in his most offensive style in a short religious biography of Nathaniel Mather. The boy died when he was nineteen years old, but unhappily he kept a diary of his religious sentiments and fears. He fasted often and prayed constantly even in his sleep. He wrote out in detail his covenant with God, and I cannot doubt that he more than lived up to his promises, as he did to the minute rules he laid out for his various religious duties. Still this young Christian was full of self-loathing, horrible conceptions of God, unbounded dread of death, and all the horrors of a morbid soul.

A letter written by an older Mather (about 1638), when he was twelve years old, shows an ancestral tendency to religious fears:—

"Though I am thus well in body yet I question whether my soul doth prosper as my body doth, for I perceive yet to this very day, little growth in grace; and this[240] makes me question whether grace be in my heart or no. I feel also daily great unwillingness to good duties, and the great ruling of sin in my heart; and that God is angry with me and gives me no answers to my prayers; but many times he even throws them down as dust in my face; and he does not grant my continued request for the spiritual blessing of the softening of my hard heart. And in all this I could yet take some comfort but that it makes me to wonder what God's secret decree concerning me may be: for I doubt whether even God is wont to deny grace and mercy to his chosen (though uncalled) when they seek unto him by prayer for it; and therefore, seeing he doth thus deny it to me, I think that the reason of it is most like to be because I belong not unto the election of grace. I desire that you would let me have your prayers as I doubt not but I have them, and rest

"Your Son, Samuel Mather."

A strong characteristic of English folk at the time of the settlement of the American colonies was superstition. This showed not only in scores of petty observances but in serious beliefs, such as those about comets and thunder-storms. It controlled medical practice, and was displayed in the religious significance attributed to trifling natural events. It was evinced in the dependence on dreams, and the dread of portents. Naturally children were imbued with the beliefs and fears of their[241] parents, and multiplied the importance and the terror of these notions. It can readily be seen that religious training and thought, such as was shown in the families of Samuel Sewall and Cotton Mather, joined to hereditary traits and race superstitions, could naturally produce a condition of mind and judgment which would permit such an episode as that known as the Salem Witchcraft. Nor is it anything but natural to find that those two prominent Bostonians took such important parts in the progress of that tragedy.


Charles Spooner Cary, Eight Years Old, 1786

It was my intent to devote a chapter of this book to the results of the study of the part borne by children in that sad tale of psychological phenomena and religious fanaticism. The study proved most fascinating, and research was faithfully made; but a stronger desire was that children might find some pleasure in these pages in reading of the child life of their forbears. Such a chapter could neither be profitable to the child nor comprehended by him, nor would it be to the taste of parents of the present day. It was a sad tale, but was not peculiar to Salem nor to New England. The Salem and Boston settlers came largely from the English counties of Suffolk and Essex, where witches and witch-hunters and witch-finders abounded, and Salem children and parents had seen in their English[242] homes or heard the tales of hundreds of similar obsessions and possessions.

New England children were instilled with a familiarity with death in still another way than through talking and reading of it. Their presence at funerals was universal. A funeral in those days had an entirely different status as a ceremony from to-day. It was a social function as well as a solemn one; it was a reunion of friends and kinsfolk, a ceremonial of much expense and pomp, a scene of much feasting and drinking.

Judge Sewall tells of the attendance of his little children when five and six years old at funerals. When Rev. Thomas Shepherd was buried "scholars went before the Herse" at the funeral. Sargent, in his Dealings with the Dead, tells of country funerals in the days of his youth:—

"When I was a boy and at an academy in the country everybody went to everybody's funeral in the village. The population was small, funerals rare; the preceptor's absence would have excited remark and the boys were dismissed for the funeral.... A clergyman told me that when he was settled at Concord, N.H., he officiated at the funeral of a little boy. The body was borne in a chaise, and six little nominal pall-bearers, the oldest not thirteen, walked by the side of the vehicle. Before they left the house a sort of master of ceremonies took them[243] to the table and mixed a tumbler of gin, sugar and water for each."

A crisis was reached in Boston when funerals had to be prohibited on Sundays because the vast concourse of children and servants that followed the coffin through the streets became a noisy rabble that profaned the sacred day.

Little girls were pall-bearers also at the funerals of their childish mates, and young unmarried girls at those of their companions. Dressed in white with uncovered heads, or veiled in white, these little girls made a touching sight.

Religious expression naturally found its highest point in Puritan communities in the strict and decorous observance of Sunday. Stern were the laws in ordering this observance. Fines, imprisonment, and stripes on the naked back were dealt out rigorously for Sabbath-breaking. The New Haven Code of Laws with still greater severity enjoined that profanation of the Lord's Day, if done "proudly and with a high hand against the authority of God," should be punished with death. This rigid observance fell with special force and restriction on children. A loved poet, Oliver Wendell Holmes, wrote of the day:—

"Hush, 'tis the Sabbath's silence-stricken morn,
No feet must wander through the tasselled corn,
[244] No merry children laugh around the door,
No idle playthings strew the sanded floor.
The law of Moses lays its awful ban
On all that stirs. Here comes the Tithing-man."

There were many public offices in colonial times which we do not have to-day, for we do not need them. One of these is that of tithing-man; he was a town officer, and had several neighboring families under his charge, usually ten, as the word "tithing" would signify. He enforced the learning of the church catechism in these ten homes, visited the houses, and heard the children recite their catechism. These ten families he watched specially on Sundays to see whether they attended church, and did not loiter on the way. In some Massachusetts towns he watched on week days to keep "boys and all persons from swimming in the water." Ten families with many boys must have kept him busy on hot August days. He inspected taverns, reported disorderly persons, and forbade the sale of intoxicating liquor to them. He administered the "oath of fidelity" to new citizens, and warned undesirable visitors and wanderers to leave the town. He could arrest persons who ran or rode at too fast a pace when going to meeting on Sunday, or who took unnecessary rides on Sunday, or otherwise broke the Sunday laws.


Within the meeting-house he kept order by beating out dogs, correcting unruly and noisy boys, and waking those who slept. He sometimes walked up and down the church aisles, carrying a stick which had a knob on one end, and a dangling foxtail on the other, tapping the boys on the head with the knob end of the stick, and tickling the face of sleeping church attendants with the foxtail. Some churches had tithing-men until this century.

A Puritanical regard of the Sabbath still lingers in our New England towns. There are many Christian old gentlemen still living of whom such an anecdote as this of old Deacon Davis of Westborough might be told. A grandson walked to church with him one Sabbath morning and a gray squirrel ran across the road. The child, delighted, pointed out the beautiful little creature to his grandfather. A sharp twist of the ear was the old Puritan's rejoinder, and the caustic words that "squirrels were not to be spoken of on the Lord's Day."

With all the religious restriction, and all the religious instruction, with the everyday repression of youth and the special Sabbath-day rigidity of laws, it is somewhat a surprise to the reader of the original sources of history to find that girls sometimes laughed, and boys behaved very badly in meeting. The latter condition would be more surprising[246] to us did we not see so plainly that the method of "seating the meeting" in colonial days was not calculated to produce or maintain order. Boys were not separated from each other into various pews in the company of their parents as to-day; they were all huddled together in any undignified or uncomfortable seats. In Salem, in 1676, it was ordered that all the boys of the town "sitt upon ye three paire of stairs in ye meeting-house"; and two citizens were deputed to assist the tithing-man in controlling them and watching them, and if any proved unruly "to psent their names as the law directs." Sometimes they were seated on the pulpit stairs, under the eyes of the entire audience; more frequently in a "boys pue" in a high gallery remote from all other Christians, the "wretched boys" were set off as though they were religious lepers.

In Dorchester the boys could not keep still in meeting; the selectmen had to appoint some "meet person to inspect the boys in the meeting house in time of divine service." These guardians had to tarry at noon and "prevent disorder" then. By 1776 the boys were so turbulent, the spirit of independence was so rife and riotous, that six men had to be appointed to keep order, and they had authority to "give proper discipline" if necessary.


Margaret Graves Cary, Fourteen Years Old, 1786


It is not necessary to multiply examples of the badness of the boys, nor of the unsophisticated artlessness of their parents. Scores of old town and church records give ample proof of the traits of both fathers and sons. These accounts are often as amusing as they are surprising in their hopelessness. The natural remedy of the isolation of the inventors of mischief, and separation of conspirators and quarrellers, did not enter the brains of our simple old forefathers for over a century. Indeed, these "Devil's play-houses," as Dr. Porter called them, were not entirely abolished until fifty years ago. The town of Windsor, Connecticut, suffered and suffered from "boys pews" until the year 1845.




Lisping new syllables, we scramble next
Through moral narrative, or sacred text,
And learn with wonder how this world began;
Who made, who marred, and who has ransomed man.
—Tyrocinium. William Cowper, 1784.

It was inevitable, since the colonization of America was in the day of Puritanism, that the first modern literature known by American children should be the distinctive literature of that sect and period. These were religious emblems, controversial treatises, records of martyrdoms, catechismic dialogues, and a few accounts of precociously pious infants who had died. Thomas White, a Puritan minister, wrote thus:—

"When thou canst read, read no ballads and romances and foolish books, but the Bible and the Plaine Man's Pathway to Heaven, a very plaine holy book for you. Get the Practice of Piety, Mr. Baxter's call to the Unconverted, Allen's Alarm to the Unconverted, The Book of Martyrs."


The two books which he named after the Bible had the distinction of being the only ones owned by the wife of John Bunyan. The confiding Puritan child who read The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven, under the promise that it was a "plaine and perfite" book, must have been sorely disappointed. But if it wasn't plain it was popular. The twelfth edition is dated 1733. Foxe's Book of Martyrs was found in many colonial homes, and was eagerly read by many children. Neither this nor any of the books on the Rev. Mr. White's list were properly children's books.

A special book for children was written by a Puritan preacher whose sayings were very dull in prose, and I am sure must have been more so in verse. It was called, Old Mr. Dod's Sayings; composed in Verse, for the better Help of Memory; and the Delightfulness of Children reading them, and learning them, whereby they may be the better ingrafted in their memories and Understanding. Cotton Mather also wrote Good Lessons for Children, in Verse.

Doubtless the most popular and most widely read of all children's books in New England was one whose title-page runs thus: A Token for Children, being an Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives and Joyful Deaths of Several Young Children, by James Janeway. To which is[250] added A Token for the Children of New England or Some Examples of Children in whom the Fear of God was remarkably Budding before they died; in several Parts of New England. Preserved and Published for the Encouragement of Piety in other Children.

The first portion of this book was written by an English minister and was as popular in England as in America. The entire book with the title as given went through many editions both in England and America, even being reprinted in this century. In spite of its absolute trustfulness and simplicity of belief, it is a sad commentary on the spiritual conditions of the times. I will not give any of the accounts in full, for the expression of religious thought shown therein is so contrary to the sentiment of to-day that it would not be pleasing to modern readers. The New England portion was written by Cotton Mather, and out-Janeways Janeway. Young babes chide their parents for too infrequent praying, and have ecstasies of delight when they can pray ad infinitum. One child two years old was able "savingly to understand the mysteries of Redemption"; another of the same age was "a dear lover of faithful ministers." One poor little creature had "such extraordinary meltings that his eyes were red and sore from weeping on his sins."[251] Anne Greenwich, who died when five years old, "discoursed most astonishingly of great mysteries"; Daniel Bradley, who had an "Impression and inquisitiveness of the State of Souls after Death," when three years old; Elizabeth Butcher, who, "when two and a half years old, as she lay in the Cradle would ask her self the Question What is my corrupt Nature? and would answer herself It is empty of Grace, bent unto Sin, and only to Sin, and that Continually," were among the distressing examples.


The Custis Children, 1760, circa

Jonathan Edwards' Narratives of Conversions contained similar records of religious precocity. There is a curious double light in all these narratives: the premature sadness of the children, who seem as old as original sin, is equalled by the absolute childishness of the reverend gentlemen, Mr. Janeway, Mr. Mather, Mr. Edwards, who tell the tales. There were other similar collections of examples,—one of children in Siberia, others in Silesia, and another of Pious Motions and Devout Exercises of Jewish Children in Berlin. Siberia was apparently as remote and inaccessible to Boston in those days as the moon, and the incredulous mind cannot help wondering who sent and how were sent these accounts to those trusting Boston ministers.

Another child's book, by James Janeway, was[252] The Looking Glass for Children. There had been a previous book with nearly the same title. Janeway's book was certainly popular, perhaps because it was in verse, and children's poetry was very scanty and rare in those days. It was reprinted many times, and parts appeared in selections and compilations until this century. A few lines run thus:—

"When by Spectators I behold
What Beauty doth adorn me
Or in a glass when I behold
How sweetly God did form me,
Hath God such comeliness bestowed
And on me made to dwell
What pity such a pretty maid
As I should go to Hell."

A book of similar title was Divine Blossoms, a Prospect or Looking Glass for Youth.

The lack of poetry may also account in some degree for the astonishing popularity of a poem which appeared in 1662, written by a Puritan preacher named Michael Wigglesworth, and entitled, The Day of Doom; or a Poetical description of the Great and Last Judgement. This "epic of hell-fire and damnation" was reprinted again and again, and was sold in such large numbers that it is safe to assert that every New England household, whose members could read, was familiar with it. It was[253] printed as a broadside, and children committed it to memory; teachers extolled it; ministers quoted it. Its horrible descriptions of hell and the sufferings of the damned are weakened to the modern mind by the thought of the presumptuous complacence of the author who would dare to give page after page of what he conceived the great Judge would say on the Day of Judgment. But of course no child, certainly no child of Puritan training, would note either absurdity or impropriety in assigning such words, and it is sad to think what must have been the climax of horror with which a sensitive child read God's answer to the plea for salvation made by "reprobate infants"; the terrible words running on through many stanzas, and ending thus:—

"Will you demand Grace at my hand,
and challenge what is mine?
Will you teach me whom to set free
and thus my Grace confine?
You sinners are, and such a share
as sinners may expect;
Such you shall have; for I do save
none but my own Elect.
"Yet to compare your sin with their's
who liv'd a longer time,
I do confess yours is much less,
though every sin's a crime.
[254] A Crime it is, therefore in bliss
you may not hope to dwell;
But unto you I shall allow
the easiest room in Hell."

Thomas White wrote a book for children which certainly comes under the head of religious books, though its pages held also those frivolous lines "A was an archer who shot at a frog," etc. This dreary volume was entitled a Little Book for Little Children. It contained accounts of short-lived and morbid young Christians, much like those of James Janeway's book. One child of eight wept bitter and inconsolable tears for his sins. One wicked deed was lying. His mother asked him whether he were cold. He answered "Yes" instead of "Forsooth," and afterward doubted whether he really was cold or not. Another sin was whetting his knife on the Sabbath day. Poor Nathaniel Mather whittled on the Lord's day—and hid behind the door while thus sinning. A boy's jack-knife was a powerful force then as now. This book also had accounts of the Christian martyrs and their tortures. This was an English book, first reprinted in Boston in 1702. An edition of Pilgrim's Progress was printed in Boston in 1681, another in 1706, and an illustrated edition in 1744, but I doubt that these were the complete book. Many shortened[255] copies and imitations appeared. One was called The Christian's Metamorphosis Unfolded. Another The Christian Pilgrim. Dr. Neale edited it for children, making, says a modern critic, "a most impudent book." Bunyan also wrote Divine Emblems, which the young were enjoined to read, and he also "bowed his pen to children" and wrote Country Rhimes for Children. For many years no copy of this was known to exist, but one was found in America in recent years, and is now in the British Museum. It is an uncouth mixture of religious phrases and similes and very crude natural history.


And the serpent ſaid unto the woman, Ye ſhall not ſurely die.

GENESIS iii. 4.

Old and New Testament.

Illuſtrated with Notes, and adorned with Cuts,
For the Uſe of Childrens.

Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not. LUKE xviii. 16.

the second WORCESTER Edition.
From the PRESS of
and sold at their Bookstore.


The Holy Bible Abridged

Pilgrim's Progress was the first light reading of Benjamin Franklin. Other books of his boyhood were Plutarch's Lives, Defoe's Essays upon Projects, Cotton Mather's Essays to do Good, and Burton's Historical Collections. Another patriot, at a later day—Abraham Lincoln—learning little but the primer at school, read slowly and absorbed into his brain, his heart, and his everyday speech the Bible, Pilgrim's Progress, Æsop's Fables and Plutarch's Lives,—a good education,—to which a Life of Washington added details of local patriotism.


Illustration from Original Poetry for Young Minds

Another book for young people—which might be termed a story-book, though its lesson was deemed deeply religious—was called, [256]A Small Book in Easy Verse Very Suitable for Children, entitled The Prodigal Daughter or the Disobedient Lady Reclaimed. It was a poem of about a hundred stanzas, relating the story of a very wilful young woman who, on being locked up in her room by her father to check her extravagance, made a league with the Devil, attempted to poison her father and mother, dropped dead apparently on her wickedness being discovered, was carried to the grave, but revived just as the sexton was about to lower her coffin in the ground. She recovered, repented, related her experiences with unction, and lived ever[257] after happy. The title-page bears a picture of the devil as a fine gentleman wearing his tail as a sword, and having one high-topped cloven-footed boot. This book enjoyed unbounded popularity even during the early years of this century.

It was similar in teaching to a chap-book which was entitled The Afflicted Parents, or the Undutiful Child Punished. In this tale the daughter gave some very priggish advice to her wicked brother, who promptly knocks her down and kills her. He is captured, tried, condemned, sentenced, and at last executed by two pardoned highwaymen. But upon being cut down he comes to life, pompously discourses at much length, and then is executed a second time, as a warning to all disobedient children.

Death-bed scenes continued to be full of living interest. The Good Child's Little Hymnbook represents the taste of the times. One poem is on the death and burial of twins, and thus is doubly interesting. Another is on "Dying." The child asks whether he is going to die and "look white and awful and be put in the pithole with other dead people." And yet the preface runs:—

"Mamma See what a Pretty Book
At Day's Pappa has bought,
That I may at the pictures look
And by the words be taught."

[258]After a time some attempts were made to render the Bible in a form specially for children's reading. There was a rhymed adaptation called the Bible in Verse. This was not the Bible versification of Samuel Wesley, printed in 1717, of which he says condescendingly, "Some passages here represented are so barren of Circumstances that it was not easy to make them shine in Verse." Older hands had essayed to rhyme the Bible; one was called A Briefe Somme of the Bible.

These Bible abridgments were literally little books, usually three or four inches long, covered with brown or mottled paper. One tiny, well-worn book of Bible stories was but two inches long and an inch wide. It had two hundred and fifty pages, each of about twenty words.

There was also the famous Thumb Bible printed by the Boston book printers, Mein and Fleming. A copy of this may be seen at the Lenox Library in New York City. The Hieroglyphick Bible with Emblematick Figures was illustrated with five hundred tiny pictures set with the print, which helped to tell the story after the manner of an illustrated rebus. Bewick made the cuts for the English edition. Tiny catechisms were widely printed and sought after, and used as gifts to good and godly children. There were also dull little books of[259] parables, modelled on the parables of the Bible. Those were profoundly religious, but were so darkly and figuratively expressed as to be frequently entirely incomprehensible; and they fully realized the definition[260] of a parable given by a child I know—"a heavenly story with no earthly meaning."


Page of Hieroglyphick Bible

An extremely curious and antiquated religious panada was entitled the History of the Holy Jesus. The seventh edition was printed in New London in 1754. The illustrations in this stupid little book were more surprising than the miserable text. No attempt was made to represent Oriental scenery. The picture of an earthquake showed a group of toy houses and a substantial church of the type of the Old South in perfect condition, tipped over and leaning solidly on each other. The Prodigal Son returned to an English manor-house with latticed windows, and the women wore high commodes and hoop-skirts. In the cut intended to represent to the inquiring young Christian in New England the Adoration of the Magi, the wise men of the East appear in the guise of prosperous British merchants; in cocked hats, knee breeches, and full-skirted coats with great flapped pockets, they look wisely at the star-spotted heavens, and a mammoth and extremely conventionalized comet through British telescopes mounted on tripods. The Slaughter of the Innocents must have seemed painfully close at hand when Yankee children looked at the trim military platoons of English-clad infants, each waving an English flag; while Herod, in a modern uniform,[261] on a horse with modern trappings, charged upon them. Perhaps some of the fathers and mothers born in England and in the Church of England had a still more vivid realization of Herod's crime, for it was the custom in some English parishes at one time to whip all the children on Holy Innocent's Day. As Gregory said:—

"It hath been a custom to whip up the children upon Innocent's Day morning, that the memorie of this murther might stick the closer; and in a moderate proportion to act over the crueltie again in kind."

The book was in rhyme. Here are a few of the verses:—

"The Wise Men from the East do come
Led by a Shining Star.
And offer to the new born King
Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh.
Which Herod hears & wrathful Grows
And now by Heavn's Decree
Joseph and Mary and her Son
Do into Ægypt flee.
The Bloody Wretch enrag'd to think
Christ's Death he could not gain,
Commands that Infants all about
Bethlehem should be slain.
But O! to hear the awful cries
Of Mothers in Distress,
And Rachel mourns for her first-born
Snatch'd from her tender Breast."


The History of the Holy Jesus was told by Rev. Mr. Instructwell to Master Learnwell. The book contained also the Child's Body of Divinity, and some of Dr. Watts' hymns. These Divine Songs for Children appear in many forms. The Cradle Hymn is the one most frequently seen, and I recently have heard it extolled as "a perfect lullaby for a child." A curious study it is, showing how absolutely traditional religious conception could usurp the mind and obscure the impulses of the heart. Its sweet and tender lines, which begin—

"Hush my dear, lie still and slumber.
Holy angels guard thy bed,"

are soon contrasted with the vehement words which tell of the lot of the infant Jesus; and at the mother's passionate expressions of "brutal creatures," "cursed sinners," that "affront their Lord," the child apparently cries, for the mother sings:—

"Soft, my child, I did not chide thee,
Though my song may sound too hard."

In the next stanza, however, theological venom again finds vent to the poor wondering baby:—

"Yet to read the shameful story
How the Jews abused their King—
How they served the Lord of Glory,
Makes me angry while I sing."


This certainly seems an ill-phrased and exciting lullaby, but is perhaps what might be expected as the notion of a soothing cradle hymn from a bigoted old bachelor.




If we are to consider that the condition of the human mind at any particular juncture is worth studying, it is certainly of importance to know on what food its infancy is fed.

          —The Book Hunter. John Hill Burton, 1863.

Locke says in his Thoughts on Education that "the only book I know of fit for children is Æsop's 'Fables' and 'Reynard the Fox.'" By this he means the only story-books. A chap-book, a cheap, ill-printed edition of Æsop's Fables, was read in New England, but I have found nothing to indicate that these fables were specially printed or bought for children, or that children were familiar with them.

There seem to have been absolutely no books for the special delight of young men and maids in the first years in the new world, no romances or tales of adventure; nor were there any in England. One Richard Codrington, a Puritan, and a tiresome old bore, wrote a book "For the Instructing of the Younger Sort of Maids and Boarders at Schools."[265] It is about as void of instruction as a book well could be; and this is his pleasant notion of a "girl's own book":—

"To entertain young Gentlewomen in their hours of Recreation we shall commend unto them God's Revenge against Murther and Artemidorous his Interpretation of Dreams."

It isn't hard to guess which one of these two was "taken out" most frequently from the school library. Speculation about dreams was one of the few existing outlets to youthful imagination, and many happy hours were spent in elaborate interpretations. Thus tired Nature's sweet restorer, balmy Sleep, supplied the element of romance which the dull waking hours denied, and made life worth living.

Though no great books were written for children during all these years, three of the great books of the world, written with deep purpose, for grown readers, were calmly appropriated by children with a promptness that would seem to prove the truth of the assertion that children are the most unerring critics of a story. These books were Pilgrim's Progress, first published in 1688; Robinson Crusoe, in 1714; and Gulliver's Travels, in 1726. The religious, political, and satirical purposes of these[266] books have been wholly obscured by their warm adoption as stories. They have been loved by hundreds of thousands of English-reading children, and translated into many other languages. Hundreds of other books, chiefly for children, have been written, that have been inspired by or modelled on these books—thus the debt of children to them is multiplied.


Wiſe Men of Gotham.
Printed and Sold in London.
Title-page of Merry Tales

The history of children's story-books in both England and America begins with the life of John Newbery, the English publisher, who settled in London in 1744. His life and his work have been told at length by Mr. Charles Welsh in the book entitled A Book Seller of the Last Century. Newbery was the first English bookseller who made any extended attempt to publish books especially[267] for children's reading. The text of these books was written by himself, and by various English authors, among them no less a genius than Oliver Goldsmith. His books were promptly exported to America, where they were doubtless as eagerly welcomed as in England. The meagre advertisements of colonial newspapers contain his lists. During Newbery's active career as a publisher—and activity was his distinguishing characteristic—he published over two hundred books for children. One of the earliest was announced in 1744 as "a pretty little pocket book." It contained the story of Jack the Giant Killer.



On a time the men of Gotham fain would have pinned the cuckoo, that ſhe might ſing all the year, all in the midſt of the town they had a hedge made in a round compaſs, and got a cuckoo, and put her into it, and ſaid, Sing here and you ſhall lack neither meat nor drink all the year. The Cuckoo when ſhe ſee herſelf encompaſſed within the hedge, flew away. A vengeance on her ſaid the Wiſe Men, we made not the hedge high enough.

Page of Merry Tales of Wise Men of Gotham

An amusing, albeit thrifty, intermezzo of all children's books was the publisher's persistent advertisement of his other juvenile literary wares. If a[268] generous godfather is introduced, he is at once importuned to buy another of good Mr. Newbery the printer's books. When Tommy Truelove is to have his reward of virtue and industry, he implores that it may be a little book sold at the Book Shop over against Aldermary Churchyard, Bow Lane. If a kind mamma sets out to "learn Jenny June to read," she does it with one of Marshall's "Universal Battledores, so beloved of young masters and misses." The old-time reader was never permitted to forget for over a page that the good, kind, thoughtful gentleman who printed this book had plenty of others to sell.

Newbery was the most ingenious of these advertisers. This is an example of one of his newspaper eye-catchers printed in 1755:—

"This day was published Nurse Truelove's New Years Gift or the book of books for children, adorned with cuts, and designed as a present for every little boy who would become a great man, and ride upon a fine horse; and to every little girl who would become a great woman and ride in a lord-mayor's gilt coach. Printed for the author who has ordered these books to be given gratis to all boys and girls, at the Bible and Sun in St. Paul's Churchyard, they paying for the binding which is only twopence for each book."

Other books were sold "with a Ball and Pincushion, the use of which will infallibly make[269] Tommy a good boy, and Polly a good girl." The juvenile characters in the books are always turning aside to read or buy some one of Mr. Newbery's little books; or pulling one of Mr. Newbery's "nice gilded library" out of their pockets, or taking Dr. James' Fever Powder, which was also one of Mr. Newbery's popular specialities.

The Revolutionary patriot and printer, Isaiah Thomas, was said to be very "ingenious in spirit." I do not know the exact significance of this term unless it means that he was a wide-awake publisher, which he certainly was. He was a bright, stirring man of quick wit and active intelligence in all things. He brought out just after the Revolution many little books for children. Few of them have any pretence of originality, even in a single page. Nearly all are wholesale reprints of various English books for children, chiefly those of John Newbery.

I don't know what made Thomas so ready to catch up the reprinting of these children's books in advance of other American printers. Perhaps his attention was led to it by the fact that his "Prentice's Token," or specimen of his work when he was a printer's 'prentice, was one of those little books. It was issued in 1761 by A. Barclay in Cornhill, Boston, and a copy now in the possession of the American Antiquarian Society at Worcester,[270] Massachusetts, is indorsed in Thomas' own handwriting as being by his 'prentice hand. The book is entitled, Tom Thumbs Play Book. To Teach Children their letters as soon as they can speak. It contains the old rhyme, "A, Apple pye, B, bit it, C, cut it," etc. Then came the rhymes beginning, "A, was an Archer and shot at a frog;" also a short catechism.

Isaiah Thomas lived in Worcester, printed these books there, and founded there the American Antiquarian Society; in the library of that society now in that city may be seen copies of nearly all these children's books which he reprinted; and a collection of pretty, quaint little volumes they are.

It is the universal decision of the special students of juvenile literature, that Goldsmith wrote Goody Two Shoes. Washington Irving thought the title-page plainly "bore the stamp of the sly and playful humour" of the author of the Vicar of Wakefield. It reads thus:—

"The History of Little Goody Two Shoes, otherwise called Mrs. Margery Two Shoes, with the means by which she acquired her Learning and Wisdom, and in consequence thereof, her Estate; set forth at large for the Benefit of those

"Who from a state of Rags and Care
And having Shoes but half a pair,
Their fortune and their fame would fix
And gallop in a Coach and Six.

The Renowned history of GOODY TWOSHOES."

your rooks do. You ſee they are going to reſt already.

Do you so likewiſe, and get up with them in the morning; earn, as they do, every day what you eat, and eat and drink no more than you earn, and you'll get health and keep it. What ſhould induce the rooks to frequent gentlemen's houſes only, but to tell them how to lead a prudent life? They never build over cottages or farm houſes, becauſe they ſee, that theſe people know how to live without their admonition.

Thus health and wit you may improve,
Taught by the tenants of the grove.

The gentleman laughing gave Margery ſixpence, and told her ſhe was a ſensible huſſey.


How the whole Pariſh was frightened.

Who does not know Lady Ducklington, or who does not know that ſhe was buried at this pariſh church?


The Renowned History of Goody Two Shoes


"See the original manuscript in the Vatican at Rome, and the Cuts by Michael Angelo. Illustrated by the Comments of our great modern Critics. Price Sixpence."

Copies of Goody Two Shoes are seldom seen for sale to-day, and many copies are expurgated. The following quaint chapter is the one chosen for excision, because our children must never hear the word ghost.


"Who does not know Lady Ducklington, or who does not know that she was buried at this parish church?

"Well, I never saw so grand a funeral in all my life; but the money they squandered away would have been better laid out in little books for children, or in meat, drink, and clothes for the poor. This is a fine hearse indeed, and the nodding plumes on the horses look very grand; but what end does that answer, otherwise than to display the pride of the living, or the vanity of the dead. Fie upon such folly, say I, and heaven grant that those who want more sense may have it.

"But all the country round came to see the burying, and it was late before the corpse was interred. After which, in the night, or rather about four o'clock in the morning, the bells were heard to jingle in the steeple, which frightened the people prodigiously, who all thought it was Lady Ducklington's ghost dancing among the bell ropes. The[272] people flocked to Will Dobbins, the Clerk, and wanted him to go and see what it was; but William said he was sure it was a ghost, and that he would not offer to open the door. At length Mr. Long, the rector, hearing such an uproar in the village, went to the clerk to know why he did not go into the church and see who was there. I go, says William, why the ghost would frighten me out of my wits. Mrs. Dobbins, too, cried, and laying hold on her husband said he should not be eat up by the ghost. A ghost, you blockheads, says Mr. Long in a pet, did either of you ever see a ghost, or know anybody that did? Yes, says the clerk, my father did once in the shape of a windmill, and it walked all round the church in a white sheet, with jack boots on, and had a gun by its side instead of a sword. A fine picture of a ghost truly, says Mr. Long, give me the key of the church, you monkey; for I tell you there is no such thing now, whatever may have been formerly. Then taking the key he went to the church, all the people following him. As soon as he opened the door what sort of a ghost do you think appeared? Why little Twoshoes, who being weary, had fallen asleep in one of the pews during the funeral service and was shut in all night. She immediately asked Mr. Long's pardon for the trouble she had given him, told him she had been locked into the church, and said she should not have rung the bells, but that she was very cold, and hearing Farmer Boult's man go whistling by with his horses, she was in hopes he would have went to the Clerk for the key to let her out."


It would seem that even an advanced pedagogist and child culturist might forgive this delightful ghost—like a windmill with jack-boots and a gun, just as a modern grammarian must forgive the verb "would have went" from little Two Shoes, who, as Mr. Charles Welsh says, "really ought to have known better."

The first Worcester edition of Goody Two Shoes was printed in 1787, with some alterations suited to time and place. Margery sings "the Cuzzes Chorus which may be found in the Pretty Little Pocket Book of Mr. Thomas," etc., and when she grows up she is made a teacher in Mrs. Williams' "College," which is described in Nurse Truelove's American books.

It will doubtless be a surprise to many that Tommy Trip's History of Beasts and Birds, etc., was written by Goldsmith. This little book opens with an account of Tommy and his dog Jowler, who serves Tommy for a horse.

"When Tommy has a mind to ride, he pulls a little bridle out of his pocket, whips it upon honest Jowler, and away he gallops tantwivy. As he rides through the town he frequently stops at the doors to know how the good children do within, and if they are good and learn their books, he then leaves an apple, an orange or a plumb-cake at the door, and away he gallops again tantwivy tantwivy."


As a specimen of Tommy's literary skill he gives the lines beginning:—

"Three children sliding on the ice
Upon a summer's day," etc.

The description of animals are such as would be expected from the author of Animated Nature, an amusing medley of truth and tradition.


A Plan Entirely New;
Designed to allure Little Ones into a
Knowledge of their Letters, &c. by
way of Diversion.
A Lover of Children.
Printed and Sold Wholesale,
Price Twopence.

Title-page of A New Lottery Book

The name Tommy Trip seems to have been deemed a taking one in juvenile literature, and is found in many books for children, both in the titles and as the name of ascribed author. It was used until this century. The title-page of A New Lottery Book by Tommy Trip is here shown. The manner of using this little Lottery Book is thus explained:—

"As soon as the child can speak let him stick a pin through the page by the side of the letter you wish to teach him. Turn the page every time and explain the letter by[275] which means the child's mind will be so fixed upon the letter that he will get a perfect idea of it, and will not be liable to mistake it for any other. Then show him the picture opposite the letter and make him read the name of."

The antique mind seems to have found even in Biblical days a vast satisfaction in riddles. Quintilian said the making and study of riddles strengthened the reflective faculties.

Old-time jest-books called Guess Books were deemed proper reading for children, such as Joe Miller's and Merry Tales of the Wise Men of Gotham; very stale and dull were the jests. The Puzzling Cap was a popular one; also The Sphinx or Allegorical Lozenges. Others were Guess Again, and one entitled Food for the Mind, which bore these lines on the title-page:—

"Who Riddles Tells and Many Tales,
O'er Nutbrown Cakes and Mugs of Ale."

Nurse Truelove was a popular character in these books, and a popular story was Nurse True Love's New Year Gift, designed as a present to every little Boy who would become a great Man, and ride upon a fine Horse, and to every little Girl who would become a fine Woman and ride in a Governour's Coach; But Turn over the Leaf and see More of the Matter. This was originally an English[276] book, one of Newbery's, as shown by his advertisement already quoted. Thomas Americanized the Lord Mayor's coach into a Governor's coach, but he carried out to the fullest extent the English publishers' mode of advertising. The sub-title of the book was History of Mistress Williams, and her Plumb Cake; With a Word or Two Concerning Precedency and Trade.

new lottery

24 A New Lottery Book.

Ii Ii

Jj Jj

IX Jay. 9

Kk Kk

X Key. 10


J Was a Jay, that prattles and toys,

K Was a Key, that lock'd up bad boys.

Two Pages of A New Lottery Book

"Mrs. Williams when I first became acquainted with her was a Widow Gentlewoman who kept a little College in a Country Town for the Instruction of Young Gentlemen[277] and Ladies in the Science of A, B, C. The Books she put into the hands of her Pupils were, 1st, The Christmas Box. 2nd, The Father's Gift. 3rd, Mr. Perry's Excellent Spelling Book. 4th, The Brother's Gift. 5th, The Sister's Gift. 6th, The Infant Tutor. 7th, The Pretty Little Pocket Book. 8th, The Pretty Plaything. 9th, Tommy Trip's History of Birds and Beasts. And when their minds were so enlarged as to be capable of other entertainments she recommended to Them the Lilliputian Magazine and other Books that are sold by Mr. Isaiah Thomas at his Book Store near the Court House in Worcester, &c., &c."

It will be noted that the word college is employed in its old-time meaning of school; but I am not sure that Thomas used it innocently. For in the following pages the text compares Mrs. Williams to "any other old Lady in the European Universities." The Christmas Box referred to has a decided American flavor. It was printed in 1789 and is entitled Nurse True Love's Christmas Box or a Golden Plaything for Children. It gives the history of one Master Friendly, and is specially forced in style. Here are two sentences:—

"He learned so fast, Dear me! it did my heart good to hear him talk and read. Why! he got all the little books by rote that are sold by Mr. Thomas in Worcester, when he was but a very little boy. Then he never missed church. Ah! he was a charming boy.


"He is chosen Congressman already and yet he is not puffed up. Well, I saw him seated in a Chair when he was chosen Congressman, and he looked—he looked—I do not know what he looked like, but everybody was in love with him."


He! He! He!

Two Pages of _A New Lottery Book_

This latter sentence is accompanied by a cut of Congressman Friendly, imbecile in countenance,[279] seated in a chair fixed on two handles, and borne aloft by four footmen in full livery. This picture had evidently seen service as "a chairing" in some English book. When we think what the Congressmen of that day were,—earnest, simple-hearted patriots, and that Thomas knew them well,—it seems strange that he could have given such stuff to American children. On the inside of the cover are printed these lines:—

"Come hither, little Lady fair,
And you shall ride & take the Air.
But first of all pray let me know
If you can say your criss-cross row.
For none should e'er in coaches be,
Unless they know their A, B, C."

It may interest children to read a short story from one of these little volumes to see the sort of thing children had to amuse them a hundred years ago. This is from a book called The Father's Gift, or How to be Wise and Happy.

"There were two little Boys and Girls, the Children of a fine Lady and Gentleman who loved them dearly. They were all so good and loved one another so well that every Body who saw them talked of them with Admiration far and near. They would part with any Thing to each other, loved the Poor, spoke kindly to Servants, did every Thing they were bid to do, were not proud, knew no Strife, but[280] who should learn their Books best, and be the prettiest Scholar. The Servants loved them, and would do any Thing they desired. They were not proud of fine Clothes, their Heads never ran on their Playthings when they should mind their Books. They said Grace before they ate, and Prayer before going to bed and as soon as they rose. They were always clean and neat, would not tell a Fib for the World, and were above doing any Thing that required one. God blessed them more and more, and their Papa, Mama, Uncles, Aunts and Cousins for their Sakes. They were a happy Family, no one idle; all prettily employed, the little Masters at their Books, the little Misses at their Needles. At their Play hours they were never noisy, mischievous or quarrelsome. No such word was ever heard from their Mouths as "Why mayn't I have this or that as well as Betty or Bobby." Or "Why should Sally have this or that any more than I;" but it was always "as Mama pleases, she knows best," with a Bow and a Smile, without Surliness to be seen on their Brow. They grew up, the Masters became fine Scholars and fine Gentlemen and were honoured; the Misses fine Ladies and fine Housewives. This Gentleman sought to Marry one of the Misses, and that Gentleman the Other. Happy was he that could be admitted into their Company. They had nothing to do but to pick and choose the best Matches in the Country, while the greatest Ladies for Birth and most remarkable for Virtue thought themselves honoured by the Addresses of the two Brothers. They all married and made good Papas and Mamas, and so the blessing goes round."


The Brother's Gift, or the Naughty Girl Reformed, of which the third Worcester edition was printed in 1791, bore these lines as a motto:—

"Ye Misses, Shun the Coxcomb of the Mall,
The Masquerade, the Rout, the Midnight Ball;
In lieu of these more useful arts pursue,
And as you're fair, be wise and virtuous too."

Though useful arts were inculcated by this book, the reward of virtue to the reformed girl was a fine new pair of stays, which are duly pictured.

Another of Newbery's beloved books was The History of Tommy Careless, or the Misfortunes of a Week. On Monday Tommy fell in the water, spoiled his coat, and was sent to bed. On Tuesday he lost his kite and ended the day in bed. On Wednesday he fell from the apple tree, and again was put in bed. Thursday the maid gave him two old pewter spoons; he made some dump-moulds, and in casting his dumps scalded his fingers, and as ever was put in retirement. On Friday he killed the canary bird—and to bed again. On Saturday he managed to incite Dobbin to kick the house dog and kill him; then he caught his own fingers in a trap, and ended the week in bed as he began it.


title page

Be Merry and Wise;
For the Conduct of LIFE.
Publiſhed for the Uſe of all good Little

By Tommy Trapwit, Eſq.


Would you be agreeable in Company, and uſeful
to Society; carry ſome merry Jeſts in your
Mind, and honeſt Maxims in your Heart.




Title-page of Be Merry and Wise

When we think of the vast number of these books, it seems strange that so few have survived. The penny books were too valueless to be saved. Sometimes we find one among abandoned or discarded piles or bundles of books. It has been the fate, however, of most children's books to be destroyed by children. With coarse, time-browned paper, poor type, and torn, worn leaves, they are not very attractive. Open one at random. Ten to one you have before you the page upon which centres the[283] interest of the book, its climax, its adventure, or its high wit. That page was a favorite. Many times you will find crude attempts at amateur coloring of the prints.

In these books is found an entirely different code from that inculcated by modern books or taught by earlier books. The first books for children simply exhorted goodness, giving no reasons, but commanding obedience and virtue. The books of the Puritan epoch taught children to be good for fear of hell. This succeeding school instructed them to be good because it was profitable. All the advice is frankly politic; much is of mercenary mould. Children are instructed to do aright, not because they should, but because they will benefit thereby—and profit is given the most worldly guise, such as riding in a coach, having a purse full of gold, wearing silks and satins, becoming Lord Mayor, or most exalted station of all, "a proud Sheriff." As chief officer of the Crown, the old-time sheriff of each English county was superior in rank to every nobleman in the county. The diarist Evelyn tells that his father when sheriff had a hundred and fifty servants in livery, and many gentleman attendants. Punishment, the abhorrence of parents, and evil results fall upon children not so fiercely for lying, stealing, treachery, or cruelty as they do for soiling[284] their clothes, falling into the water, tumbling off walls, breaking windows or china, and a score of other actions which are the result of carelessness, clumsiness, or indifference, rather than of viciousness. These books would educate (had they been forcible enough to be of profound influence) generations of trucklers, time servers, and money lovers. The natural inclination and the diversity of inclination of children made them rise above these instructions.



In another part of the fair the boys ſaw ſome children toſſed about thus.

They were ſinging merrily the old nurſe's ditty.

"Now we go up, up, up,
"Now we go down, down, down;
"Now we go backward and forward,
"Now we go round, round, round."

Page from Cobwebs to Catch Flies

It was the constant effort of the artists, authors, and teachers of olden times to imbue youth with the notion that no harm could possibly come to the[285] good—unless early death could be counted an evil. Children were taught that virtue and each good action was ever, immediately, and conspicuously rewarded. The pictures repeated and emphasized the didactic teachings; and morality, industry, and good intentions were made to triumph over things animate and inanimate. That the old illustrations were a delight to children cannot be doubted; they were so easily comprehended. The bad boys of the story always bore a miserable countenance and figure, and the good boys were smugly prosperous. The prim girls are shown the beloved of all, and the tomboys equally the misery and embarrassment. All this is lacking in modern picture books, which so truly represent real life and things that the naughty boy is not blazoned at first glance as a different being from the pious delight.

I am inclined to believe that the old-time grotesqueness was more amusing and impressive to children than modern realism; that there was a stronger association of ideas with the emphasis of disproportion; the absurdities and anachronisms of scenery and costume were unnoted by the juvenile reader because he knew no better.

In the children's books which I have examined, the colored illustrations are all of dates later than 1800 (when dated at all). Mr. Andrew W. Tuer,[286] in the preface to his most interesting collection entitled Pages and Pictures from Forgotten Children's Books, says that the coloring was done by children in their teens who worked with great celerity. Each child had a single pan of water-color, a brush, a properly colored guide, and a pile of printed sheets. One child painted in all the red required by the copy, another the green, another the blue, and so on till the coloring was finished.


"William and Amelia," from The Looking Glass for the Mind

There was one book which children loved, that every little child loves to-day—Mother Goose's Melodies. Attempts have been made to show that[287] the name and collection were both American; that the former referred to one Mrs. Goose or Vergoose, a Boston goodwife. The name Mother Goose is believed by most folk to be of French, not of English or American origin. A collection of nursery rhymes was printed for John Newbery about 1760, under the popular name Mother Goose's Melodies; about 1785 Isaiah Thomas issued at Worcester, Massachusetts, an edition of Mother Goose's Melodies with the songs from Shakespeare, and certainly this must have been an oasis in the desert of dull books for New England children.

There is no pretence in this edition of Thomas' that the book had any American origin; it is said to be a collection of rhymes by "old British nurses"; and such it really was. Halliwell says many of these nursery rhymes are fragments of old ballads. Mr. Whitmore deems the great popularity of "Mother Goose" due to the Boston editions issued in large numbers from 1824 to 1860.

The preface to the Worcester edition of 1785 circa is said to be written by a very great writer of very little books. Could this have been Oliver Goldsmith? Irving, in his Life of Goldsmith, refers to the poet's love of catches and simple melodies, and tells of his singing "his favorite[288] song about An old woman tossed in a blanket seventeen times as high as the moon." A Miss Hawkins boasted late in life that Goldsmith taught her to play Jack and Jill with bits of paper on his fingers just as we show the trick to children to-day. Included in these melodies are the verses "Three children sliding on the ice," which we know were written by Goldsmith. Here is an example of one of the melodies and its note:—

"Trip upon Trenchers
Dance upon Dishes
My mother sent me for some Barm, some Barm.
She bade me tread Lightly
And leave again Quickly,
For fear the Young Men should do me some Harm.
Yet! don't you see?
What naughty tricks they put upon me!
They broke my Pitcher
And spilt my Water
And huffed my Mother
And chid her Daughter,
And kiss'd my Sister instead of me.

"What a Succession of Misfortunes befell this poor Girl? But the last Circumstance was the most affecting and might have proved fatal."

Winslow's View of Britain.

According to the notion of humor of the day, [289]the notion of Goldsmith, or some other book-hack-wag, these notes were all ascribed as quotations from some profound author, just as the cuts in Goody Two Shoes were said to be by Michael Angelo, and the text from the Vatican. Thus after the rhymes, "See-saw, Margery Daw," etc., is the sober comment, "It is a mean and Scandalous Practice in an author to put Notes to a Thing that deserves no Notice. Grotius." After the "Three Wise Men of Gotham," which ends with the lines—

"If the bowl had been stronger
My tale had been longer,"

[290]is the sententious note "It's long enough. Never lament the Loss of what is not worth having. Boyle." Puffendorf, Coke on Littleton, Pliny, Bentley on the Sublime and Beautiful, Mapes' Geography of the Mind, are other authors and books that are soberly cited.


"Caroline, or a Lesson to Cure Vanity," from The Looking Glass for the Mind

A very priggish little book was entitled Cobwebs to Catch Flies. The tone of its text may be shown in the dialogue about "The Toss About." The brothers who attended a country fair had been forbidden by their mother to ride in the Merry-go-round. Dear Ned wished to try the fun. Dear James said with propriety, "Dear Ned, I am sure our mamma would object to our riding in this Toss-about." Ned answered, "Dear James, did you ever hear her name the Toss-about?" "No, dear Ned, but I am certain that if she had known of it she would have given us the same caution as she did about the Merry-go-round." Ned paused a moment, then said, "How happy am I to have an elder brother who is so prudent." Whereupon James replied, "I am no less happy that you are so willing to be advised," etc.

A distinctly American book for children was printed in Philadelphia in 1793, a History of the Revolution. It was in Biblical phraseology. This [291]sort of writing had been made popular by Franklin
in his famous Parable against Persecution which he wrote, committed to memory, and pretended to read as the last chapter in Genesis.


"Sir John Denham and his Worthy Tenant," from The Looking Glass for the Mind

Exceeding plainness and even coarseness of speech was presented in the pages of these old-time story-books. It was simply the speech of the times shown in the plays, tales, and essays of the day, and reflected to some degree even in the literature for children. As an example of what was deemed wit [292]may be given a portion of the prologue to "Who Killed Cock Robin." The book is entitled Death and Burial of Cock Robin.

"We were all enjoying ourselves very agreeably after dinner, when on a sudden, Sir Peter's Lady gave so loud a sneeze as threw the whole company into disorder. Master Danvers instead of cracking a nut gave his fingers a tolerable squeeze in the nut-crackers. Miss Friendly who had carried with intent to put a fine cherry in her mouth missed the mark and bit her finger. Sir Peter himself, who was filling a glass of wine, spilled the bottle on the table. Miss Comely and Miss Danvers who were talking with each other with their heads very close to each other very politely knocked them together to see which was the hardest. I myself had twelve of my ten toes handsomely trod on by one of the young ladies jumping off a chair in a fright. But this is not all, no nor half what I was an eye witness of; for just at the time her Ladyship sneezed, I was busy contemplating the beauty and song of Miss Prudence's Cock Robin that was singing and as noisy as a grig when my Lady sneezed which so frightened him he fell to the bottom of the Cage as dead as a Stone."

A widely read little book was somewhat pompously entitled The Looking Glass for the Mind. It was chiefly translated from that much-admired work, L'Ami des Enfans. Those terse and entertaining tales of Berquin had perennial youth in [293]their English form and were reprinted till our own day. The illustrations of Bewick have a distinct value as showing the dress of children. A few are here shown. The first is from William and Amelia; both children are not eight years old. The long trained gowns, bare necks, elbow sleeves, and tall feathered hats are precisely the dress of grown women of that day, as William's coat and knee-breeches are the garb of a man. The two "ladies" were "walking arm in arm humming a pretty song then fashionable in the village collection of Ballads." When they glanced at the apples in the tree William, "the politest and prettiest little fellow in the village," dropped his shepherd's pipe, climbed the tree, and threw down apples in the ladies' aprons. As Charlotte got more and bigger apples Amelia abandoned her "usual pleasing prattle," sulked and at last ordered William to fall down "on his knees on this instant" to apologize. As he refused Amelia pouted at dinner, would not touch her wine nor say "Your good health, William," and at last was ordered by her mother from the table. William, after many attempts, sneaked out with some peaches for her, and thus an affectionate and generous friendship was restored.


"Clarissa, or the Grateful Orphan," from The Looking Glass for the Mind

Another illustration is for the tale, Caroline, or a Lesson to Cure Vanity. Caroline's dress is further [294]described in the text as of pea-green taffety with fine pink trimmings, elegantly worked shoes, hair a clod of powder and pomatum. Her "fine silk slip was nicely soused in the rain"; her hoop and flounces and train caught in the furzes, her gauze hat blew in a pond of filthy water, etc.; all these made her glad to return to a more modest dress. The illustration for the Worthy Tenant shows Farmer Harris speaking to polite Sophia, while "Robert was so shamefully impertinent as to walk round the farmer, holding his nose, and [295]asking his brother if he did not perceive something of the smell of a dung heap. He then lighted some paper at the fire, and carried it around the room in order to disperse, as he said, the unpleasant smell," etc. Clarissa, or the Grateful Orphan, who was so good that the king relinquished a large fortune to her, complete the quartette of illustrations.

A group of books was published just after the end of the colonial period, which had a vast influence on the children of our young Republic. These books were English; the most important of them were: The History of the Fairchild Family, 1788 circa, by Mrs. Sherwood; Sanford and Merton, 1783, by Thomas Day; The Parents' Assistant, 1796, by Maria Edgeworth; Evenings at Home, 1792, by Dr. Aikin and Mrs. Barbauld.


The Juvenile Biographer 83

When Miſs Fiddle Faddle is in the Company of little Females of her Acquaintance, her whole Diſcourſe turns on the prevailing Faſhion of Head-dreſs; what an elegant Taſte one little Miſs has, and how terribly impolite is another.

Page from The Juvenile Biographer

The painfully religious tales of James Janeway were not the only ones to familiarize death to the reading child. The Fairchild Family was once deemed a most charming, as it was certainly a most earnest book, and it has ever had popularity, for within a few years it has been reprinted in a large edition. I wonder how many death-bed scenes and references there are in that book! Nor are ordinary death-beds the saddest or most grewsome scenes. The little Fairchilds having lost their [296]little tempers and pommelled each other somewhat, their father takes them as a shocking object-lesson to see the body of a man hung in chains on a gibbet. The horror of the progress through the gloomy wood to this revolting sight, the father's unsparing comments, the hideous account of the [297]thing, rattling, swinging, turning its horrible countenance while Mr. Fairchild described and explained and gloated over it, and finally kneeled and prayed,—all this through several pages no carefully reared child to-day would be permitted to read. Mr. Fairchild's reason for taking them to this gibbeted corpse should not be omitted from this account; it was "to show them something which I think they will remember as long as they live, that they may love each other with perfect and heavenly love."

A painful and ever present lesson found on every page is the sinfulness of the world. The children recite verses and quote Bible texts to prove that all mankind have bad hearts, and Lucy commits to memory a prayer, a portion of which runs thus:—

"My heart is so exceedingly wicked, so vile, so full of sin, that even when I appear to be tolerably good, even then I am sinning. When I am praying, or reading the Bible, or hearing other people read the Bible, even then I sin. When I speak, I sin; when I am silent, I sin."

Sandford and Merton is most insincerely recommended by many folk to children to-day. I cannot believe any one who has recently read the book would ever expect a modern child to care for it. It is haloed in the memory of people who read [298]it in their youth and fancy they still like it, but won't take the trouble to read it and see that they don't.

Jane and Ann Taylor should be added to this class of authors. The poem, My Mother, by Ann Taylor, was published in book form, and had many imitations. My Father, My Sister, My Brother, My Grandmother, My Playmate, My Pony, My Fido, and lastly, My Governess,—all, says the advertisement, "in the same stile,"—a style so easily imitated as to seem almost like parody:—

"Who learnt me how to read and Spell,
And with my Needle work as well,
And called me her good little Girl?
My Governess.
"Who made the Scholar proud to show
The Sampler work'd to friend and foe,
And with Instruction fonder grow?
My Governess."

We have the contemporary opinion of Charles Lamb of this new school of juvenile literature. In 1802 he wrote thus to Coleridge:—

"Goody Two Shoes is almost out of print. Mrs. Barbauld's stuff has banished all the old classics of the nursery, and the shopman at Newbery's hardly deigned to reach them off an old exploded corner of a shelf, when Mary asked for them. Mrs. Barbauld's and Mrs. Trimmer's nonsense lay in piles about. Knowledge as insignificant and [299]vapid, as Mrs. Barbauld's books convey, it seems must come to a child in the shape of knowledge; his empty noddle must be turned with the conceit of his own powers when he has learned that a horse is an animal, and Billy is better than a horse, and such-like, instead of the beautiful interest in mild tales which made the child a man, while all the time he suspected himself to be no bigger than a child.... Hang them!—I mean the cursed Barbauld crew, those blights and blasts of all that is human in man and child."


40 The Juvenile Biographer.

One Day, ſome one of Miſs Polly's little Acquaintances, coming along the Road near Miſs Charity's Houſe, found her ſtanding and crying over a little Beggar, who ſat by the Side of the Road. This is a juſt Repreſentation of this pitiful Scene.

Her Acquaintance aſked her what ſhe

The Juvenile Biographer. 41

was crying for. "My dear, (ſaid Polly) this poor little Creature is ſtarving, and I have not a Penny to give her; but if you will lend me Two-pence, if you have ſo much about you, I will certainly pay you again very ſoon. What a terrible Thing it is to think, that while we live upon Dainties, this poor little Girl ſhall be ſtarving!"

"My dear, (ſaid Miss Polly's Acquaintance) I am happy that I have Two-pence about me, which is all I am worth in the World, and thoſe were juſt now given me by a Gentleman for my pretty Behaviour to him. Here they are, and you ſhall be indebted to me only One Penny, for I will give her the other myſelf." They eagerly embraced each other,

The Juvenile Biographer

In the Boston Gazette and Country Journal, January 20, 1772, the Boston booksellers, Cox and Berry, have this notice of their wares:—

"The following Little Books for the Instruction and Amusement of all good Boys and Girls:—

The Brother Gift or the Naughty Girl Reformed.

The Sister Gift or the Naughty Boy Reformed.

Hobby Horse or Christian Companion.

Robin Good-Fellow, a Fairy Tale.

Puzzling Cap, a Collection of Riddles.

The Cries of London as exhibited in the Streets.

Royal Guide or Early Instruction in Reading English.

Mr. Winlove's Collection of Moral Tales.

History of Tom Jones, abridg'd.

  "         "   Joseph Andrews "

  "         "   Pamela               "

  "         "   Grandison          "

  "         "   Clarissa               "      "


It may be seen by the last-named books on this list that another series of books for children were abridgments of Tom Jones, Joseph Andrews, Pamela, and other great novels of the day. Rabelais said no abridgment of a book could be a good abridgment; these are worse than none. The childish reader is notified that if he likes the little books, his good friend, Mr. Thomas, has the larger books for sale.

The engraving of the great Mr. Richardson sitting in his grotto, in 1751, in turban, banyan, and slippers, reading Sir Charles Grandison to a group of friends, chiefly admiring young ladies in great hats and padusoy sacques, is typical of his life. He lived in a flower garden of girls, one intimate circle around his feet, and swelling circles extending even to America,—all facing inward and worshipping him and his works. They wept and smiled in a vast chorus at the dull pages of Pamela, at the surprising ones of Clarissa, and the thousands of interesting ones of Sir Charles Grandison. These seven volumes of letters exchanged between sixteen women, twenty men, all lovers, and fourteen Italians who are enumerated as of another sex, and are likewise chiefly lovers, are too prolix to be read to-day, but were a record of love-making which touched every girl's heart a century and more ago.



Father. Now my Dear, as I find you have learned to ſpell and read eaſy words, let me adviſe you to purchaſe the Ladder to Learning, which is printed in three Parts, or Steps; the firſt Part is a Collection of pretty Fables, Conſiſting of Words of only one Syllable; the ſecond Part, of Words not exceeding two Syllables; and the third Part of few Words more than three Syllables. When you have reached the third Step, Attention and Application will ſoon enable you to read with Pleaſure to yourſelf and Satisfaction to your Friends, all the little Books publiſhed for good Maſters and Miſſes, by your Friend in Worcester, near the Court-House; a View of whoſe Shop I here give you.


By an attentive Peruſal of thoſe little Publications, you will attain the eſteem of all who know you; you will learn to be dutiful to your Papa and Mama, obedient to your Superiours, loving and kind to your Equals and Inferiours; and, above all, you will learn to fear God, and to call upon him often, that you may, through his Grace, become wiſe and happy.

Two Pages of The Father's Gift

Little Anna Green Winslow speaks occasionally [301]in her diary of story-books. She had for a New Year's gift the "History of Joseph Andrews abbreviated in guilt and flowered covers." She read the Pilgrim's Progress, the Mother's Gift, Gulliver's Travels, The Puzzling Cap, The French Orators, and Gaffer Two Shoes—this may have been our own Goody, not Gaffer.

The "flowery and gilt" binding of these books, so often spoken of in the notices, is wholly a thing of the past. It was made in Holland and Germany; but recent inquiry about it discovered that the stamps and presses used in its manufacture had all been destroyed. An enthusiastic lover of these little books wrote:—

"Talk of your vellum, gold embossed morocco, roan, and calf,
The blue and yellow wraps of old were prettier by half."

They were cheap enough, but a penny apiece, some of them, others sixpence. It is doubtful whether they were ever sold in America in vast numbers. Children lent them to each other. Anna Green Winslow borrowed them, and letters of her day show other children doing likewise. It was a day of book-lending; for circulating libraries were slow of formation. The minister's library was often the largest one in each town, and he lent his precious books to his flock. In the sparse[302] advertisements of colonial newspapers are many advertisements of book owners who have lent books, forgotten to whom, and wish them returned. The only way country children had of reading many books was by borrowing.


Vice in its proper Shape 39

he had lived to years of maturity, kind death was pleaſed to diſpatch him in the twelfth year of his age, by the help of a dozen penny cuſtards, which he greedily conveyed down his throat at one meal, and thereby gorged his stomach, and threw himſelf into a mortal fever. After his

Page of Vice in its proper Shape.

American boys and girls felt till our own day both bewilderment and impatience at forever reading[303] stories whose local color was wholly strange to them. Dr. Holmes thus expresses this condition of things:—

"Books where James was called Jem not Jim as we heard it; where naughty schoolboys got through a gap in the hedge to steal Farmer Giles's red-streaks, instead of shinning over the fence to hook old Daddy Jones's baldwins; where Hodge used to go to the ale-house for his mug of beer, while we used to see old Joe steering for the grocery to get his glass of rum; where there were larks and nightingales instead of yellow-birds and bobolinks; where the robin was a little domestic bird that fed at table instead of a great, fidgety, jerky, whooping thrush."

The debt of amusement which American children owed to Newbery was paid in this century by the supply to English children of a vast number of little books of profit and pleasure, all written by a single author, "Peter Parley," or Samuel G. Goodrich. In the middle of the century this gentleman stated that he had written one hundred and twenty books that were professedly juvenile. Of these and his books for older minds about seven million copies had been sold, and about three hundred thousand were still sold annually. They were sent to England in vast numbers, and were reprinted there both with and without the author's permission. And when the original books were not pirated, the[304] name Peter Parley was calmly attached to the compositions of English authors, as a vastly salable trade-mark.

Scores of American authors, by the middle of this century, were writing little books for children. These were a class by themselves—Sunday-school books. They do not come within the very elastic time limit set for this chapter. They are not old enough in years, though they are rapidly becoming as obsolete as any children's books of the last century.

Books written avowedly for Sunday-schools are in decreasing demand. Those with sectarian teachings, especially, find fewer and fewer purchasers.




For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.
Divine Songs for Children. Isaac Watts, 1720.

Colonial children did not spend much time in play. "The old deluder Sathan" was not permitted to find many idle hands ready for his mischievous work. It was ordered by the magistrates that children tending sheep or cattle in the field should be "set to some other employment withal, such as spinning upon the rock, knitting, weaving tape," etc. These were all simple industries requiring slight paraphernalia. The rock was the hand distaff. It was simple of manipulation, but required a certain knack of dexterity to produce even well-twisted thread. Good spinners could spin on the rock as they walked. Tape-weaving was done on a simple appliance, the heddle-frame of primitive weavers, known as a tape-loom, garter-loom, belt-loom, or "gallus-frame." On these small looms girls wove scores of braids and[306] tapes for use as glove-ties, shoe-strings, hair-laces, stay-laces, garters, hatbands, belts, etc., and boys wove garters and breeches-suspenders.

There was plenty of work on a farm even for little children; they sowed various seeds in early spring; they weeded flax fields, walking barefoot among the tender plants; they hetchelled flax and combed wool.

All the work on the flax after the breaking was done in olden times by women and children. It is said there are in all twenty different occupations in flax manufacture, of which half can be easily done by children. Much of the work in domestic wool spinning and weaving was done by little girls. They could spin on "the great wheel" when they were so small that they had to stand on a foot-stool to reach up. They skeined the yarn on a clock-reel. They easily filled the "quills" with the woollen yarn used in weaving bedspreads and set the quills in the middle of the great pointed wooden shuttles. They wound the white warp on the spools, and set the spools on the scarne. They might, if very deft and attentive, help "set the piece," that is, wind the warp threads on the great yarn-beam, pass them through the eyes of the heddles or harness, and the spans of the reed. Girls of six could spin flax. Anna Green Winslow, when twelve years old, speaks often in her diary of spinning;[307] and when disabled from sewing by a painful whitlow on her finger, wrote that "it is a nice opportunity if I do but improve it, to perfect myself in learning to spin flax."


The Good Girl and her Wheel

In the Memoirs of the missionaries, David and John Brainerd, a boy's busy life on a Connecticut farm is thus described:—

"The boy was taught that laziness was the worst form of original sin. Hence he must rise early and make himself useful before he went to school, must be diligent there in study, and promptly home to do "chores" at evening. His whole time out of school must be filled up with some[308] service, such as bringing in fuel for the day, cutting potatoes for the sheep, feeding the swine, watering the horses, picking the berries, gathering the vegetables, spooling the yarn. He was expected never to be reluctant and not often tired."

This constant employment of a farm boy's time lasted till our own day; but now conditions have changed in Eastern farm life. The work still is hard and incessant, but not so varied as of yore. Many crops are obsolete; no flax is raised, and but little wool, and that sold as soon as sheared. Little grain is raised and no threshing is done by the flail. Vast itinerant threshing machines go from farm to farm. Few farmers make cider, which gave so much work to the boys in autumn. There is no potash or soap boiling. One of the most delightful chronicles of obsolete farm industry is written by Hon. George Sheldon and entitled The Passing of the Stall-Fed Ox and the Farmer's Boy.



This pretty sempstress who can see
And not admire her industry
As thus upright she sits to sew,
Not stooping as some children do.

Illustration from Plain Things for Little Folks

The sawing and chopping of wood was a never diminishing incubus; this outdoor work on wood was continued within doors in the series of articles fashioned for farm and domestic use by the boy's jack-knife and the few heavy carpenter's tools at his command; some gave to the farm boy the rare pennies of his spending money. The making of birch splinter brooms was the best paying work.[309] For these the boy got six cents apiece. The splitting of shoe-pegs was another. Setting card-teeth was for many years the universal income furnisher for New England children. Gathering nuts was a scantily paid-for harvest; tying onions a less pleasing one, and chiefly followed in the Connecticut Valley. The crop of wild cherries known as chokecherries was one of the most lucrative of the boy's[310] resources. They were much desired for making cherry-rum or cherry-bounce, and would fetch readily a dollar a bushel. A good-sized tree would yield about six bushels. J. T. Buckingham tells of his first spending money being ninepence received from a brush-maker for hog-bristles saved from slaughtered swine.

The story of various silk fevers which raged in America cannot be given here, romantic as they are. From the first venture the care of silkworms was held to be a specially suitable work for children. It was said two boys, "if their hands be not sleeping in their pockets," could care for six ounces of seed from hatching till within fourteen days of spinning, when "three or four more helps, women and children being as proper as men," had to assist in feeding, cleansing, airing, drying, and perfuming them.

The Reformed Virginia Silk Worm asserted:—

"For the Labour of a man and boy
They gain you Sixty pounds which is no toy."

Mulberry trees were planted everywhere and kept low like a hedge, so children could pick the leaves. All the books of instruction of the day reiterate that a child ten years of age could easily gather seventy-five pounds of mulberry leaves a day, and make great wages. But an old lady, now eighty[311] years old, who made much sewing silk in Connecticut in her youth, writes thus to me: "Girls picked most of the leaves. It was very hard work and very small pay. They had ten cents a bushel for picking. Some could pick three bushels a day."

The first thought of spring brought to the men of the New England household a hard work—maple-sugar making—which meant vast labor in preparation and in execution—all of which was cheerfully hailed, for it gave men and boys a chance to be as Charles Kingsley said, "a savage for a while." It meant several nights spent in the sugar-camp in the woods, a-gypsying. Think of the delight of that scene: the air clear but mild enough to make the sap run; patches of snow still shining pure in the moonlight and starlight; all the mystery of the voices of the night, when a startled rabbit or squirrel made a crackling sound in its stealthy retreat; the distant hoot of a wakeful owl; the snapping of pendent icicles and crackling of blazing brush, yet over all a great stillness, "all silence and all glisten." An exaltation of the spirit and senses came to the country boy which was transformed at midnight into keen thrills of imaginative fright at recollection of the stories told by his elders with rude acting and vivid wording during the early evening round the fire; of[312] hunting and trapping, of Indians and bears, and those delights of country story-tellers in New England, catamounts, wolverines, and cats—this latter ever meaning in hunter's phrasing wild-cats. Think of "a wolverine with eyes like blazing coals, and every hair whistling like a bell," as he sprung with outspread claws from a high tree on the passing hunter—do you think the boy sat by the fire throughout the night without looking a score of times for the blazing eyeballs, and listening for the whistling fur, and hearing steps like that of the lion in Pilgrim s Progress, "a great soft padding paw."

What forest lore the boys learned, too: that more and sweeter sap came from a maple which stood alone than from any in a grove; that the shallow gouge flowed more freely, but the deep gouge was richest in sweet; and that many other forest trees besides the maple ran a sweet sap.

I believe that in earliest colonial days boys also took part in a joyful outing, a public custom known as perambulating or beating the bounds. The memory of boundaries and division lines, of commons, public highways, etc., was kept fresh in the minds of the inhabitants by an old-time Aryan custom,—the walking around them once a year, noting lines of boundary, and impressing these on the notice and memory of young people.[313] To induce English boys to accompany these perambulations, it was customary to distribute some little gratuity; this was usually a willow wand, tied at the end with a bunch of points, which were bits of string about eight inches long, consisting of strands of cotton or woollen yarn braided or twisted together, ended by a tag of a bit of metal or wood. These points were used to tie the hose to the knees of the breeches; the waistband of the breeches to the jacket, etc. Long after points were abandoned as a portion of dress the wands with their little knot of points were given. Pepys wrote in 1661 that he heard that at certain boundaries the boys were smartly whipped to impress the bounds upon their memories.


Anne Lennod's Sampler


"Beating the bounds" was a specially important duty in the colonies where land surveys were imperfect, land grants irregular, and the boundaries of each man's farm or plantation at first very uncertain. In Virginia this beating the bounds was called "processioning." Landmarks were renewed that were becoming obliterated; blazes on a tree would be somewhat grown over—they were deeply recut; piles of great stones containing a certain number for designation were sometimes scattered—the original number would be restored. Special trees would be found fallen or cut down; new marking trees would be planted, usually pear trees, as they were long-lived. Disputed boundaries were decided upon and announced to all the persons present, some of whom at the next "processioning" would be living and be able to testify as to the correct line. This processioning took place between Easter and Whitsuntide, that lovely season of the year in Virginia; and must have proved a pleasant reunion of neighbors, a May-party. In New England this was called "perambulating the bounds," and the surveyors who took charge were called "perambulators" or "boundsgoers."

To either man or boy of to-day or any day it would seem an absurdity to name hunting and fishing in a chapter dealing with boys' diligence; for[315] in the sports of the woods and waters colonial boys doubtless found one of their greatest amusements. But these sports were also hard work and were engaged in for profit as well as for pleasure. The scattered sheepfolds and grazing pastures at first had to be zealously guarded from wild animals; wolves were everywhere the most hated and most destructive beasts. They were caught in many ways; in wolf-pits, in log-pens, in log-traps. Heavy mackerel hooks were tied together, dipped in melted tallow which hardened in a bunch and concealed the hooks, and tied to a strong chain. If the wolf swallowed the hooks without any chain attached, it would kill him; but he might die in the depths of the forest and his head could not be brought in to secure the bounty. In old town lists are the names of many boys with "wolf-money set to their credit." A wolf-rout or wolf-drive, which was like the old English "drift of the forest," was a ring of men and boys armed with guns surrounding a large tract of forest. The wary wolves scented their enemies afar and retreated before them to the centre of a circle, and many were killed. Squirrels and hares were hunted in the same way. Once a year in many places they had shooting matches in which every living wild creature was prey, and a prize was given to the one bringing in the most birds' heads and[316] animals' tails. This cruel wholesale destruction of singing birds as well as game birds was carried on almost till our own day.

Foxes were destructive in the hen yards. On a bright moonlight night the hunters placed a load of codfish heads on the bright side of a stone wall. The fish could be smelt afar, and when the keen foxes approached they were shot by the hunters, hiding in the shadow. Bears lingered long even in the vicinity of cities and were hunted with dogs. The History of Roxbury states that in the year 1725, in one week in September, twenty bears were killed within two miles of Boston.

In Virginia deer-hunting was a constant sport. They were "burnt out," and in imitation of the Indian way of hunting under the blind of a "stalking head," the English taught their horses to walk slowly by the huntsman's side, hiding him as he approached the deer, who were not afraid of horses. A diverting sport was what was called "vermin-hunting." It was done on foot with small dogs, by moon or starlight. Raccoons, foxes, and opossums were the chief animals sought. Bounties were paid for the destruction of squirrels and rattlesnakes. It is appalling to see the bounty lists of some New England towns for snake rattles. Yet the loss of life was small from snake bites. The boys profited[317] by all these bounties, and worked eagerly to secure them.


Colonel Wadsworth and his Son

Wild turkeys were caught in turkey pens, enclosures made of poles about twenty feet long, laid one above another, forming a solid wall ten feet high. This was covered with a close pole and brush roof. A ditch was dug beginning about fifteen feet away from the pen; sloping down and carried under one side of the pen and opening up into it through a board in which a hole was cut just large enough for a turkey to pass through. Corn was strewn the whole length of the ditch. The turkeys followed the ditch and the corn up through the hole into the pen; and held their heads too high ever to find their way out again. Often fifty captives would be found in the morning.

Boys learned "to prate" for pigeons, that is, to imitate their call. This was useful in luring them within gun-shot. A successful method of pigeon-shooting was learned from the Indians. A covert was made of green branches with an opening in the back by which the hunter could enter. In front of this covert, at firing distance, a long pole was raised up on two crotched sticks eight or ten feet from the ground, set so that a shot from the booth would rake the entire length of the pole; hence the crotch nearest the booth was a trifle lower than the other,[318] at the same angle that the gun barrel would take. To lure pigeons from a flock to settle on this pole live pigeons were used as decoys. They were temporarily blinded in a cruel manner. A hole was pierced in the lower eyelid, a thread inserted, and the eyelid drawn up and tied over the eye. A soft kid boot or loop was put over one leg and a fine cord tied to it. The pigeon called the long flyer had a long cord, and by his fluttering attracted pigeons from a flock. The short flyer with shorter cord lured pigeons flying low. The hoverer was tied close to the end of a small pole set on an upright post. This pole was worked by a string, and by moving the pigeon up and down it appeared to be hovering as if to alight. The hunter, loudly prating, sat hidden behind his three blind, fluttering, terrified decoys. Then came a beautiful flash and gleam of color and life and graceful motion, as with a swish of reversed wings a row of gentle creatures lighted on the fatal pole. In a second came the report of the gun, and the ground was covered with the fluttering, maimed, and dead bodies. Fifty-two at one shot, a Lexington man named William Locke killed. Other methods of pigeon-killing were by snaring them in "twitch-ups"; also in a pigeon-bed, baited, over which a net was thrown on the feeding birds.


By the seashore whole communities turned to the teeming ocean for the means of life. Every fishing vessel that left the towns of Cape Ann and Cape Cod carried, with its crew of grown men, a boy of ten or twelve to learn "the art and mystery" of fishing. He had a name—a "cut-tail." He cut a wedge-shaped bit from the tail of every fish he caught, and in the sorting-out and counting-up at the close of the trip his share of the profits was thus plainly indicated. Long before these fishing industries were thoroughly organized the early chroniclers told of the share of boys in fishing. Even John Smith stirred up English stay-at-homes, saying:—

"Young boyes, girles, salvages or any others, bee they never such idlers, may turne, carry, and returne fish without shame, or either greate paine: hee is very idle that is past twelve years of age and cannot doe so much; and shee is very old that cannot spin a thread to catch them."

It was natural that boys born in seashore towns should turn to the sea. They found in the incoming ships their sole connecting link with the outside world. Romance, sentiment, mystery, deviltry, haloed the sailor. He was ever welcome to the public, and ever a source of interest whether in tarry working garb, or gay shore togs of flapping trousers, crimson sash, eelskin and cutlasses, or[320] perhaps garbed like Captain Creedon, who appeared in Boston in the year 1662 dressed, so says the letter of a Boston minister, "in a strange habitt with a 4 Cornered Capp instead of a hatt and his Breeches hung with Ribbons from the Wast downward a great depth one over the other like the Shingles of a house." Naturally enough "the boys made an outcry and wondered."

Can it be wondered that two centuries of New England boys, stirred in their quiet round of life by similar gay comets and tales of adventure, have had a passionate ichor in their veins of longing for "the magic and the mystery of the sea," that they have eagerly gone before the mast, and rounded the Horn, and come home master seamen when in their teens. I know a New England family of dignity and wealth in which six successive generations of sons have gone to sea in their boyhood, some of later years running away from home to do so. In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1787,—so tells a newspaper of that date,—were living a man and wife who had been married about twenty years, and had eighteen sons, of whom ten were then at sea.




She wrought all Needleworks that Women exercise,
With Pin Frame or Stoole all Pictures Artificiall,
Curious Knots or Traits that Fancy could devise,
Beasts, Birds, or Flowers even as things Naturall.
Epitaph of Elizabeth Lucar. Church St. Michael, Crooked Lane, London, 1537.

Human nature was the same in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as to-day; waves of devotion to some special form of ornamentation either for the household or the wardrobe swept over families, neighborhoods, communities; when we reach the days of newspapers we find in their columns some evidence of the names and character of these decorations. In 1716 Mr. Brownell, the Boston schoolmaster, advertised that at his school young women and children could be taught "all sorts of fine works as Feather-works, Filigree, and Painting on Glass, Embroidering a new way, Turkeywork for Handkerchiefs two new Ways, fine new fashion Purses, flourishing[322] ishing and Plain work," The perishable nature of the material would prevent the preservation of many specimens of feather-work; but very pretty flowers for head-dresses and bonnets were made of minute feathers or portions of feathers pasted on a firm foundation in many collected shapes. This work may have been suggested by the beautiful feather flowers made in many of the South Sea Islands; perhaps an old sea captain brought some home to his wife or sweetheart as a gift. The sober colors of many of our home birds would not make so brilliant a bouquet as the songless birds of the tropics, especially the millions of the various parrot tribes; still an everyday New England rooster has a wealth of splendid glistening color, while blue jays, red-headed woodpeckers, yellow birds, and an occasional oriole or scarlet tanager could furnish beautiful feathers enough to waken the ire of an Audubon Society.

Painting on glass was an amusement of more scope. In England it was all the mode, and some very quaint specimens survive; simpering beauties, flowers, and fruit were the favorite subjects. Coats of arms, too, were painted on glass, and handsome they were. It is not possible to state exactly the position which the study of armorial bearings and significations had for two or three centuries. It[323] seemed to bear relatively the same place that a profound study of literature has to-day—the pastime and delight of cultured people. We have been amused for a few years past at the domination of color in literature; every book title had a color word, as The Red Robe, Under the Red Lamp, A Study in Scarlet, The Red Badge of Courage, etc. This idiasm—as Mr. Ingleby would call it—has extended to music, and even into scientific suggestion and medicine; but this attributing unusual qualities to colors is nothing new. In the Cotton Manuscripts, a series of essays on music six hundred years old, the relation between music and color, especially in coat armor, is given; for instance, "fire-red" was the most malignant color in arms, and only third in benignity in music. All gentlefolk were profoundly wise as to the meaning of colors in coats of arms, etc., and their influence on the character and life of the persons bearing the arms.

This interest in the study of heraldry wavered in intensity but did not die till the days of a new nation; and we find from the middle of the seventeenth to the middle of the eighteenth century that young girls in the families of gentlefolk paid much attention to the making of coats of arms. Those painted on glass were the richest in color and the most satisfactory, but embroidered ones were more[324] common. The choicest materials were used, the drawing was carefully executed, and the stitches minute. It is interesting to note that the laws of the herald were strictly regarded in the setting of the stitches. In azure the stitches were laid parallel across the escutcheon; in gules, perpendicular; in purpure, diagonally from right to left, and so on.


Jerusha Pitkin's Embroidery and Frame

Here is shown an unfinished coat of arms of the Pitkin family which belonged to Jerusha Pitkin,[325] who was born in 1736. The frame upon which the work is stretched, the manner in which it is mounted, the hand-made nails that fasten it, the way the work is outlined, are all of interest. The needle still is thrust in the black satin background where it was left by girlish hands a century and a half ago. Colored silks, gold bullion and thread to complete this work have been preserved with it. The embroidery is on black satin, and is lozenge-shaped, as was the proper shape of a hatchment or mourning emblem; and it is possible that this work was begun as a funeral piece, commemorative of some Pitkin ancestor.

Such funeral pieces were deemed a very dignified observance of respect and mark of affection. They had as successors what were definitely termed "mourning pieces," bearing stiff presentments of funeral urns, monuments, drooping willows, and sometimes a bowed and weeping figure.

After the death of Washington, mourning designs deploring our national loss and significant of our affection and respect for that honored name appeared in vast numbers. Framed prints of these designs hung on every wall, table china in large numbers and variety bore these funereal emblems, and laudatory and sad mottoes. As other Revolutionary heroes passed away, similar designs appeared in more limited[326] numbers, and the reign of embroidered "mourning pieces" may be said to begin at this time. Washington—so to speak—set the fashion. Familiarized with the hideous Apotheosis pitcher, or the gloomy Washington's Tomb teacups as set on a festal board, special mourning embroideries did not seem oversad for decorative purposes, and soon no properly ambitious household was without one. They were even embroidered when the family circle was unbroken, and an empty space was left yawning like an open grave for some one to die. Religious designs were also eagerly sought for. The Tree of Life was a favorite. A conventional tree was hung at wide intervals with apples, bearing the names of various virtues and estimable traits of humanity, such as Honor, Modesty, Silence, Patience, etc. The sparse harvest of these emblematic fruits seemed to indicate a cynical belief in scant nobility of nature; but there was hope of improvement, for a white-winged angel assiduously watered the roots of the tree with a realistic watering-pot. The devil, never absent in that day from art, science, or literature, also loomed in blackness beneath the branches, but sadly handicapped from activity by being forced to carry a colossal pitchfork and an absolutely unsurmountable tail of gigantic proportions.


These mourning pieces were but decadent successors of the significant heraldic embroideries of earlier days. We passed through trying days in art, architecture, and costume in the first half of this century; and it was not until we revived the older forms of embroidery, and the ancient stitches, that we rallied from the blight of commonplaceness and sentimentality which seemed to spread over everything.


Lora Standish's Sampler

The most universal and best-preserved piece of embroidery done by our foremothers was the sampler. These were known as sampleths, sam-cloths, saumplers, and sampleres; the titles were all derived by apheresis from esampler, exampleir.


The sampler "contrived a double debt to pay" of teaching letters and stitches; it was, in fact, a needlework hornbook, containing the alphabet, a verse indicative of good morals or industry, or a sentence from the Bible, the name and date, and some crude representations of impossible birds, beasts, flowers, trees, or human beings. Though the sampler's reign in every American household was in the eighteenth century and the earlier years of the nineteenth, it was the direct successor of the glories of needlework of English women of earlier years, which was known and admired on the Continent as Opus Anglicanum. The chief excellency of English needlework has even been closely associated with a high state of social morals. In Elizabeth's day Englishwomen still loved needlecraft. Shakespeare, Sidney, Milton, Herrick, all refer to women's samplers. In a collection of old ballads printed in 1725 is "A Short and Sweet Sonnet made by one of the Maids of Honour upon the death of Q. Elizabeth, which she sewed upon a Sampler of Red Silk":—

"Gone is Elizabeth whom we have loved so dear,
She our kind Mistress was full four and Forty Year,
England she govern'd well not to be blamed.
Flanders she govern'd well, and Ireland famed.
France she befriended, Spain she had toiled,
Papists rejected, and the Pope spoiled.
[329] To Princes powerful, to the World vertuous,
To her Foes merciful, to subjects gracious.
Her Soul is in Heaven, the World keeps her glory,
Subjects her good deeds, so ends my Story."

In the licentious days of King James and King Charles there is little record of women's needlework in court or country, but the Puritan women, the virtuous home makers, revived and encouraged all household arts.

There is no doubt that as a rule the long and narrow samplers are older than those more nearly square. These ancient samplers, especially the few bearing dates of the seventeenth century, are much finer in design, more closely worked, and better in execution than those of later date. The linen background is much more closely covered. They have more curious and varied stitches. Occasionally they are of minute size, but four or five inches long, with exquisitely fine stitches.


Fleetwood-Quincy Sampler

Two ancient samplers are here depicted. One shown on page 327 was made by Lora Standish, the daughter of a Pilgrim Father, and it is now at Pilgrim Hall, Plymouth. The interesting and beautiful sampler known as the Fleetwood-Quincy Sampler has such perfect stitches that both sides are alike. It bears the names Miles and Abigail Fleetwood, and the date 1654. It has been in the possession[330] of Mrs. Henry Quincy and her descendants since 1750. There is little doubt that the Miles Fleetwood of the sampler was the brother or nephew of Charles Fleetwood who married Anne Ireton, eldest daughter of great Cromwell. A splendid piece of Anne Fleetwood's embroidery was recently exhibited in the Kensington Museum. It was scarcely a sampler for it bore a curious design in applique work of a lozenge formed by four right-angled triangles, each of a different bit of rich brocade of gold and silver figures on amber or pink ground; all worked together with curious vines and stitches. Miles Fleetwood clung to the royal cause, and[331] thus fell into the obscurity hinted at in the sampler verses:—

"In prosperity friends will be plenty,
But in adversity not one in twenty."

In the older samplers little attention is paid to the representation of things in their real colors; a green horse may balance a blue tree. And as flat tints were used there were few effects of light and shade, and no perspective. Distance is indicated by a different color of worsted; thus the green horse will have his off legs worked in red. This is precisely the method used in the Bayeux Tapestry and other antique embroideries.

Sampler verses had their times and seasons, and ran through families. They were eagerly copied for young friends, and, in a few cases, were "natural composures"—or, as we should say to-day, "original compositions." Ruth Gray of Salem embroidered on her sampler a century ago:—

"Next unto God, dear Parents, I address
Myself to you in humble Thankfulness.
For all your Care and Charge on me bestow'd,
The means of learning unto me allowed.
Go on! I pray, and let me still Pursue
Such Golden Arts the Vulgar never knew."

To show the extent to which those lines could be transmitted let me state that they are found on a[332] sampler in Dorchester, Massachusetts, worked in 1802, one in Waltham, Massachusetts, one worked in 1813 in a seminary in Boston, one in Medford, one worked in 1790 in Salem by a young girl of ten, another in Lynn, on an English sampler in the Kensington Museum, and in the diary of that Boston schoolgirl, Anna Green Winslow, dated 1771.

There were certain variants of a popular sampler verse that ran thus:—

"This is my Sampler,
Here you see
What care my Mother
Took of me."

Another rhyme was:—

"Mary Jackson is my name,
America my nation,
Boston is my dwelling place,
And Christ is my salvation."

The doxology, "From all that dwell below the skies," etc., appears on samplers; and these lines:—

"Though life is fair
And pleasure young,
And Love on ev'ry
Shepherd's Tongue,
I turn my thoughts
To serious things,
Life is ever on the wing."


Another rhyme is found with varying words in some of the lines:—

"Young Ladyes fair when youthful minds incline
To all that's curious, Innocent, and fine
With Admiration let your worke be made
The various textures and the twining thread
Then let your fingers with unrivalled skill
Exalt the Needle, Grace the noble Quill."

Some of the verses are as short as the scant but sweet English words on the sampler of Katherine, the wife of Charles II.:—

"21st of Maye
Was our Wedding Daye."

A sampler in the Old South Church in Boston has this inscription:—

"Dorothy Lynde is my Name
And this Work is mine
My Friends may have
When I am Dead and laid in Grave
This Needlework of mine can tell
That in my youth I learned well
And by my elders also taught
Not to spend my time for naught."

Polly Coggeshall's Sampler

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was high fashion to have mottoes and texts carved or painted on many articles where they would frequently[334] catch the eye. Printed books were then rare possessions, and these mottoes, whether of vanity or piety, took their place. Perhaps inscriptions on various pieces of tableware and drinking utensils were the most common. Specially beautiful and interesting[335] early examples are the sets of "beechen roundels" known to collectors; that is, sets of wooden plates or trenchers carved with mottoes. Women dexterous of the needle embroidered mottoes and words on articles of clothing. Whole texts of the Bible are said to have been inscribed on the edges of gowns and petticoats.

"She is a Puritan at her needle too
She works religious petticoats."

Elaborate vines of flowers and other scroll designs were worked on petticoats, often in colored crewels. There still exists the linen petticoat of Rebecca Taylor Orne, a Salem dame who lived to be one hundred and twenty years old. It is deeply embroidered with trees, vines, flowers, and fruits, on homespun linen. Silk petticoats were also embroidered and painted by young girls, and are beautiful pieces of work.

In New York newspapers we find proof that New York girls were taught decorative accomplishments similar to those which were so fashionable in Boston:—

"Martha Gazley, late from Great Britain, now in the city of New York Makes and Teacheth the following curious Works, viz: Artificial Fruit and Flowers and other[336] Wax-Works, Nuns-work, Philligree and Pencil Work upon Muslin, all sorts of Needle-Work, and Raising of Paste, as also to Paint upon Glass, and Transparant for Sconces, with other Works. If any young Gentlewomen, or others are inclined to learn any or all of the above-mentioned curious Works, they may be carefully instructed in the same by said Martha Gazley."


Flowered Apron

The waxwork of Martha Gazley was more fully detailed in a school advertisement of Mrs. Sarah Wilson of Philadelphia. She taught "waxworks in all its branches"; flowers, fruit, and pin-baskets, also "how to take profiles in wax." This latter was distinctly art work; and portraits of Washington and other Revolutionary heroes still exist in wax—a material that could be worked with facility; but was very perishable.



Mary Richards' Sampler

A very full list of old-time stitches has come down to us, and curiously enough not from any woman who worked these stitches but from the pen of a man, John Taylor, "the Water-Poet," in his Praise of the Needle, 1640.


"For Tent-worke, Rais'd-work, Laid-worke, Frost-worke, Net-worke,
Most curious Purles, or rare Italian Cut-worke,
Fine Ferne-stitch, Finny-stitch, New-stitch and Chain-stitch
Brave Bred-stitch, Fisher-stitch, Irish-stitch and Queen-stitch
The Spanish-stitch, Rosemary-stitch and Mouse-stitch
The smarting Whip-stitch, Back-stitch and the Cross-stitch
All these are good, and these we must allow,
And these are everywhere in practise now."

They were doubtless "everywhere in practice," in America as well, but nearly all are now but empty names.

While Dutch women must be awarded the palm of comfortable and attractive housekeeping, they did not excel Englishwomen in needlework; though the first gold thimble was made for Madam Van Rensselaer, the foremother of our American patroons; and many beautiful specimens of Dutch embroidery exist. A sample is here shown which was worked by Mary Richards, a granddaughter of the famous Anneke Jans. Mrs. Van Cortlandt wrote in her delightful account of home life in old New York:—

"Crewel-work and silk-embroidery were fashionable, and surprisingly pretty effects were produced. Every little maiden had her sampler which she begun with the alphabet and numerals, following them with a Scriptural text or verse of a psalm. Then fancy was let loose on birds, beasts and[339] trees. Most of the old families possessed framed pieces of embroidery, the handiwork of female ancestors."

Pride in needlework, and a longing for household decoration, found expression in quilt-piecing. Bits of calico "chiney" or chintz were carefully shaped by older hands, and sewed by diligent little fingers into many fanciful designs. A Job's Trouble, made of hexagon pieces, could be neatly done by little children, but more complicated designs required more "judgement," and the age of a little daughter might be accurately guessed by her patchwork. The quilt-making was the work of older folk. It required long arms, larger hands, greater strength.

Knitting was taught to little girls as soon as they could hold the needles. Girls four years of age could knit stockings and mittens. In country households young damsels knit mittens to sell and coarse socks. Many fine and beautiful stitches were taught, and a beautiful pair of long silk stockings of open-work design has initials knit on the instep. They were the wedding hose of a bride of the year 1760; and the silk for them was raised, wound, and spun by the bride's sister, a girl of fourteen, who also did the exquisite knitting.

Lace-making was never an industry in the colonies; it was an elegant accomplishment. Pillow lace was made, and the stitches were taught in families[340] of wealth; a guinea a stitch was charged by some teachers. Old lace pillows have been preserved to this day, with strips of unfinished lace and hanging bobbins, to show the kind of lace which was the mode—a thread lace much like the fine Swiss hand-made laces.


Old Lace Pillow, Reels and Pockets


Tambour work on muslin or lace, and a lace made of certain designs darned on net, took the place of pillow lace. Nothing could be more beautiful in execution and design than the rich veils, collars, and caps of this worked net, which remained the mode during the early years of this century. Girls spent years working on a single collar or tucker. Sometimes medallions of this net lace were embroidered down upon fine linen lawn. I have infants' caps of this beautiful work, finer than any needlework of to-day.




The plays of children are nonsense—but very educative nonsense.

—Essay on Experience. Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1860.

There are no more striking survivals of antiquity than the games and pastimes of children. We have no historians of old-time child life to tell us of these games, but we can get side glimpses of that life which reveal to us, as Ruskin says, more light than a broad stare. Many of these games were originally religious observances; but there are scores that in their present purpose of simple amusement date from mediæval days.

The chronicler Froissart, in L'Espinette Amoureuse, tells of the sports of his early life, over five centuries ago:—

"In that early childish day
I was never tired to play
Games that children everyone
Love until twelve years are done.
To dam up a rivulet
With a tile, or else to let
[343] A small saucer for a boat
Down the purling gutter float:
Over two bricks at a will
To erect a water mill.
"In those days for dice and chess
Cared we busy children less
Than mud-pies and buns to make,
And heedfully in oven bake.
Of four bricks; and when came Lent
Out was brought a complement
Of river shells from secret hold,
Estimated above gold,
To play away as I thought meet
With the children of our street."

"The children of our street" has a delightfully familiar ring. He also names many familiar games, such as playing ball, ring, prisoner's base, riddles, and blowing soap-bubbles. Top-spinning was an ancient game, even in Froissart's day, having been played in old Rome and the Orient since time immemorial.

It is interesting to note the persistent survival of games which are seldom learned from printed rules, but are simply told from child to child from year to year. On the sidewalk, in front of my house, is now marked out with chalk the lines for a game of hop-scotch and a group of children are playing it,[344] precisely as I played it in my New England home in my childhood, and as my grandfathers and grandmothers played "Scotch-hoppers" in their day.

In a little century-old picture book, called Youthful Recreations, Scotch-hoppers is named and vaguely explained, and a note says:—

"This exercise was frequently practiced by the Greeks and Spartan women. Might it not be useful in the present day to prevent children having chilblains?"

Now isn't that stupid? Every one knows hop-scotch time is not in the winter when the ground is rough and frozen or wet with snow and when chilblains are rife. It is a game for the hard, solid earth, or a sunny pavement.

The variants of tag have descended to us and are played to-day, just as they were played when Boston and New York streets were lanes and cowpaths. The pretty game, "I catch you without green," mentioned by Rabelais, is well known in the Carolinas, whither it was carried by French Huguenot immigrants, who retained many of their home customs as well as their language for so long a time. Stone-tag and wood-tag took the place in America of the tag on iron of Elizabeth's day. Squat-tag and cross-tag have their times and seasons, and in Philadelphia tell-tag is also played.[345] Pickadill is a winter sport, a tag played in the snow. Another tag game known as poison, or stone-poison, is where the player is tagged if he steps off stones. The little books on etiquette so frequently read in the seventeenth century, and quoted in other pages of this book, have this severe injunction, "Tread not pomposely on pebblestones for it is the art of a fool." A man who was not a fool, one Dr. Samuel Johnson, was swayed in his walk by similar notions.


"Scotch Hoppers," from Juvenile Games for the Four Seasons

Honey pots still is played by American children. Halliwell says the "honey pot" was a boy rolled up in a certain stiff position. I have seen it played by two girls carrying a third in a "chair" made by crossing hands. In a popular little book[346] of the last century called Juvenile Pastimes, or Sports for Four Seasons, the illustration shows girls playing it. The explanatory verse reads:—

"Carry your Honey pot safe and sound
Or it will fall upon the Ground."

A truly historic game taught by children to each other, is what is called cats-cradle or cratch-cradle. One player stretches a length of looped cords over the extended fingers of both hands in a symmetrical form. The second player inserts the fingers and removes the cord without dropping the loops in a way to produce another figure. These various figures had childish titles. If Hone's derivation of the game and its meaning is true, cratch-cradle is the correct name. A cratch was a grated crib or manger. The adjustment of threads purported to represent the manger or cradle wherein the infant Saviour was laid by his Virgin Mother. As little girls "take off" the cradle they say, "criss-cross, criss-cross." This like the criss-cross row in the hornbook was originally Christ's cross.


Old Skates

In a quaint little book called The Pretty Little Pocket Book, published in America at Revolutionary times, is a list of boys' games with dingy pictures showing how the games were played; the names given were chuck-farthing; kite-flying;[347] dancing round May-pole; marbles; hoop and hide; thread the needle; fishing; blindman's buff; shuttlecock; king am I; peg-farthing; knock out and span; hop, skip, and jump; boys and girls come out to play; I sent a letter to my love; cricket; stool-ball; base-ball; trap-ball; swimming; tip-cat; train-banding; fives; leap-frog; bird-nesting; hop-hat; shooting; hop-scotch; squares; riding; rosemary tree. The descriptions of the games are given in rhyme, and to each attached a moral lesson in verse. Some of the verses read thus:—

"As you value your Pence
At the Hole take your Aim.
Chuck all safely in,
And You'll win the Game.
"Chuck-Farthing like Trade,
Requires great Care.
The more you observe
The better you'll fare."

A few of the games are to-day unknown, or little known; for instance, the game called in the book "Pitch and Hussel."

"Poise your hand fairly,
Pitch plumb your Slat.
Then shake for all Heads
Turn down the Hat."


The game called "All the birds of the air," reads:—

"Here various boys stand round and soon
Does each some favorite bird assume;
And if the Slave once hits his name,
He's then made free and crowns the game."

Mr. Newell has given a list and description of many of the historic singing games and rounds of American children. These were known to me in my childhood: "Here we go round the mulberry bush;" "Here come three Lords out of Spain;" "On the green carpet here we stand;" "I've come to see Miss 'Ginia Jones;" "Little Sally Waters, sitting in the sun;" "Green gravel, green gravel, the grass is so green;" "Old Uncle John is very sick, what shall we send him?" "Oats, pease, beans and barley grows;" "When I was a shoemaker;" "Here I brew, Here I bake, Here I make my Wedding Cake;" "The needle's eye that doth supply;" "Soldier Brown will you marry, marry me?" "O dear Doctor don't you cry;" "There's a rose in the garden for you, young man;" "Ring around a rosy;" "Go round and round the valley;" "Quaker, Quaker, How art thee?" "I put my right foot in;" "My master sent me to you, sir;" "London Bridge is falling down."



Skating, from Old Picture Book

Some of these rhymes were founded on certain lines of ballads; but without any printed words or music we all knew them well, and the music was the same that our mothers used—though our mothers had not taught us. To-day children all over the country are singing and playing these games to the same music. I heard verse after verse of London Bridge sung in a high key in the shrill voices of the children of a New Hampshire country school this winter. Such a survival in such an environment is not strange; but it is surprising and pathetic, too, to hear in a public primary or a parochial school the children of German, Italian, or Irish parentage chanting "Green gravel, green gravel, the grass is so green," within the damp and[350] dingy yard walls or in the basement playrooms of our greatest city.

The Dutch settlers had many games. They were very fond of bowling on the grass; a well-known street in New York, Bowling Green, shows the popularity of the game and where it was played. They played "tick-tack," a complicated sort of backgammon; and trock, on a table somewhat like a billiard table; in it an ivory ball was struck under wire-wickets with a cue. Coasting down hill became a most popular sport. Many attempts were made to control and stop the coasters. At one time the Albany constables were ordered to take the "small or great slees" in which "boys and girls ryde down the hills," and break them in pieces. At another time the boy had to forfeit his hat if he were caught coasting on Sunday. The sleds were low, with a rope in front, and were started and guided by a sharp stick.

There is a Massachusetts law of the year 1633 against "common coasters, unprofitable fowlers and tobacco-takers,"—three classes of detrimentals. Mr. Ernst says coasting meant loafing along the shore, then idling in general, then sliding down hill for fun. In Canada they slid down the long hills on toboggans. In New England they used a double runner, a long narrow board platform on two sleds[351] or two sets of runners. Judge Sewall speaks of his little daughter going out on sleds, but there is nothing to indicate precisely what he meant thereby.

"Sports of the Innyards" languished in New England. Innkeepers were ordered not to permit the playing of "Dice, Cards, Tables, Quoits, Log-gats, Bowls, Ninepins, or any other Unlawful Game in house, yard, Garden or backside." Slide-groat was also forbidden. Mr. Henry Cabot Lodge says the shovel-board of Shakespeare's day was almost the only game that was tolerated. This game was perhaps the most popular of old-time domestic pastimes, and was akin to slide-groat.

I found nothing to indicate that the cruel sport known as cock-throwing, cock-steling, or cock-squoiling ever prevailed in America. In this sport the cock was tied by a short cord to a stake, and boys at a distance of twenty yards took turns at throwing sticks at him till he was killed. This sport was as old as Chaucer's time, and universal among the English.

Judge Sewall wrote of Shrove Tuesday in Boston in 1685 that there was great disorder in Boston by reason of "cock-skailing." Another year he tells of a young lad going through Boston streets "carrying a cock on his back and a bell in his hand." Several friends followed him, loosely blindfolded and[352] carrying cart whips; and under pretence of striking at him managed to distribute their blows with stinging force on the gaping crowd around. This was an old English custom. At a later date the sport of shying at leaden cocks prevailed. The "dumps" which were thrown, and the crude little images of lead and pewter shaped like a cock, were often made and sold by apprentices as part of their perquisites.

Cock-fighting was popular in the Southern colonies and New York. There are prohibitions against it in the rules of William and Mary College. Certainly it was not encouraged or permitted here as in English schools, where boys had cock-fights in the schoolroom; and where that great teacher, Roger Ascham, impoverished himself with dicing and cock-fighting. Cock-fights were often held on Shrove Tuesday. The picture of Colonel Richard Wynkoop, shown on the opposite page, was painted when he was twelve years old; the dim figures of two fighting cocks can be seen by his side. They are obscured by the sword which the colonel carried during the Revolution, and which is thrust in front of the picture. The cruel Dutch sport of riding for the goose, was riding at full speed to catch a swinging greased goose. Young lads sometimes took part in this, but no small boys.


Cornelius D. Wynkoop, Eight Years Old, 1742

In The Schole of Vertue, 1557, we read:—


"O, Lytle childe, eschew thou ever game
For that hath brought many one to shame.
As dysing, and cardynge, and such other playes
Which many undoeth, as we see nowe-a-dayes."

Playing cards were fiercely hated, and their sale prohibited in Puritan communities, but games of cards could not be "beaten down." Grown folk had a love of card-playing and gaming which seemed almost hereditary. But I do not believe young children indulged much in card-playing in any of the colonies.

William Bradford, then governor of the colony at Plymouth, thus grimly records in his now famous Log-book, the first Christmas Day in that settlement:—

"The day called Christmas Day ye Govr cal'd them out to worke (as was used) but ye moste of this new company excused themselves, and saide yt went against their consciences to work on yt Day. So ye Govr tould them that if they made it mater of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed. So he led away ye rest and left them; but when they came home at noon from their work he found them in ye street at play openly, some pitching ye bar, and some at stoolball and such like sports. So he went to them and took away their implements and tould them it was against his conscience that they should play and others work."


The exact description of this game I do not know. Dr. Johnson says it is a play where balls are driven from stool to stool, which may be a good definition, but is a very poor explanation.

The Pretty Little Pocket Book says vaguely:—

"The ball once struck with Art and Care
And drove impetuous through the Air,
Swift round his Course the Gamester flies
Or his Stools are taken by surprise."

At the end of the seventeenth century a French traveller, named Misson, wrote a very vivacious account of his travels in England. He sagely noted English customs, fashions, attributes, and manners; and airily discoursed on the English game of football:—

"In winter football is a useful and charming exercise. It is a leather ball about as big as one's head, fill'd with wind. This is kick'd about from one to tother in the streets, by him that can get it, and that is all the art of it."

That is all the art of it! I can imagine the sentiments of the general reader of that day (if any general reader existed in England at that time), when he read and noted the debonair simplicity of this brief account of what was even then a game of so much importance in England. The proof that Misson was truly ignorant of this subject is shown[355] in the fact that he could by any stretch of an author's privileged imagination call the English game of foot-ball of that day "a useful and charming exercise." Nothing could be further from the Englishman's intent than to make it either profitable or pleasing.


3 Battledore and Shuttlecock.

4 Thread the Needle.

Page from Youthful Sports

In the year 1583 a Puritan, named Phillip Stubbes, horror-stricken and sore afraid at the many crying evils and wickednesses which were rife in England, published a book which he called The Anatomie of Abuses. It was "made dialogue-wise," and is one of the most distinct contributions to our knowledge of Shakespeare's England. Written in racy, spirited English, it is unsparing in denunciations of the public[356] and private evils of the day. His characterization of the game of foot-ball is one of the strongest and most fearless of his accusations:—

"Now who is so grosly blinde that seeth not that these aforesaid exercises not only withdraw us from godliness and virtue, but also haile and allure us to wickednesse and sin? For as concerning football playing I protest unto you that it may rather be called a friendlie kinde of fyghte than a play or recreation—a bloody and murthering practice than a felowly sport or pastime. For dooth not everyone lye in waight for his adversarie, seeking to overthrowe him and picke him on his nose, though it be uppon hard stones, in ditch or dale, in valley or hill, or whatever place soever it be hee careth not, so hee have him downe; and he that can serve the most of this fashion he is counted the only fellow, and who but he?... So that by this means sometimes their necks are broken, sometimes their backs, sometimes their legs, sometimes their armes, sometimes their noses gush out with blood, sometimes their eyes start out, and sometimes hurte in one place, sometimes in another. But whosoever scapeth away the best goeth not scot free, but is either forewounded, craised, or bruised, so as he dyeth of it or else scapeth very hardlie; and no mervaile, for they have the sleights to meet one betwixt two, to dash him against the hart with their elbowes, to hit him under the short ribs with their griped fists and with their knees to catch him on the hip and pick him on his neck, with a hundred such murthering devices."


Stephen Row Bradley, 1800. circa


This was written three hundred years ago, and these are not the words of a modern reporter, "They have sleights to meet one betwixt two, to dash him against the heart with their elbows, to hit him under the short ribs with their griped fists, and with their knees to catch him on the hip and pick him on the neck."

Stubbes may be set down by many as a sour-visaged, sour-voiced Puritan; but a very gracious courtier of his day, an intelligent and thoughtful man, Sir Thomas Elyot, was equally severe on the game. He wrote, in 1537, The Boke named the Gouvernour, full of sensible advice and instruction. In it he says:—

"Foot-ball wherein is nothynge but beastlye furie and exstreme violence, whereof proceedeth hurte; and consequently malice and rancour do remayne with them that be wounded; whereof it is to be putt in perpetuall silence."

The "perpetuall silence" which he put on the game has not fallen even by the end of three centuries and a half.

Some indirect testimony as to the character of the English game comes from travellers in the American colonies, where the American Indians were found playing a game of foot-ball like that of their white brothers. John Dunton, travelling in New England[358] when Boston was half a century old, tells of the Indians' game:—

"There was that day a great game of Foot-ball to be played. There was another Town played against 'em as is sometimes common in England; but they played with their bare feet, which I thought very odd; but it was upon a broad sandy Shoar free from Stones which made it the more easie. Neither were they so apt to trip up one another's heels and quarrel as I have seen 'em in England."

At the same time English boys were kicking the foot-ball around Boston streets, and were getting themselves complained of by game-hating Puritan neighbors, and enjoined by pragmatical magistrates, just as they were in English towns.

Fewer games are played now by both boys and girls than in former times, in England as well as America. In a manuscript list of games played at Eton in 1765 are these titles: cricket, fives, shirking walls, scrambling walls, bally cally, battledore, pegtop, peg in the ring, goals, hop-scotch, heading, conquering cobs, hoops, marbles, trap ball, steal baggage, puss in the corner, cat gallows, kites, cloyster and hyer gigs, tops, humming tops, hunt the hare, hunt the dark lanthorn, chuck, sinks, stare-caps, hurtlecap. No games are now recognized at Eton save cricket, foot-ball, and fives. Racquet and hockey flourished for a time. The playing[359] of marbles was abandoned about 1820, and top-spinning about 1840. Top-time had always opened ten days after the return to school after the summer holidays. Hoops were made of stout ash laths with the bark on, and the hoop-rolling season ended with a class fray with hoopsticks for weapons. At one time marble-playing was prohibited in the English universities. It is not probable that those undergraduates habitually played marble any more than do our Princeton University men, who have a day of marble-playing and one of top-spinning each spring.


Doll's Furniture, One Hundred Years Old


A record of old-time sports would be incomplete without reference to the laws of sport times. These are as firmly established as the seasons, and as regular as the blooming of flowers. Children cannot explain them, nor is there any leader who establishes them. It is not a matter of reason; it is instinct. A Swiss writer says that boys' games there belong chiefly to the first third of the year, always return in the same order, and "without the individual child being able to say who had given the sign, and made the beginning." From Maine to Georgia the first time is, has been (and we may almost add "ever shall be world without end"), marble time. Then come tops. The saying is, "Top time's gone, kite time's come, April Fool's Day will soon be here." Ball-playing in Boston had as its time the first Thursday in April. Whistle-making would naturally come at a time when whistle wood was in good condition. All the boys in all the towns perch on stilts as closely in unison as the reports of a Gatling gun. There is much sentiment in the thought that for years, almost for centuries, thousands of boys in every community have had the same games at the same time, and the recital almost reaches the dignity of history.




Behold the child, by nature's kindly law
Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw.
Some livelier plaything gives his youth delight,
A little louder but as empty quite.
Essay on Man. Alexander Pope, 1732.

In the year 1695 Mr. Higginson wrote from Massachusetts to his brother in England, that if toys were imported in small quantity to America they would sell. In very small quantity, we fancy, though the influence of crown and court began to be felt in New England, and many articles of luxury were exported to that colony as they were to Virginia.

According to our present ideas, playthings for children in colonial time were few in number, save the various ones they manufactured for themselves. They played more games, and had fewer toys than modern children. In 1712, on the list of rich goods brought into Boston by a privateersman and sold there, were "Boxes of Toys." In 1743 the[362] Boston News Letter advertised "Dutch and English Toys for Children," and Mr. Ernst says Boston had a flourishing toy shop at that date. Other towns did not, as we know from many shipping orders.

old doll

An Old Doll

The Toy Shop or Sentimental Preceptor, one of Newbery's books, gives a list of toys which the young English scholar sought; they are a looking-glass, a "spying glass," a "fluffed dog," a pocket-book, a mask, a drum, a doll, a watch, a pair of scales. Few of these articles named would really be termed toys. Some of the games already alluded to, such as top-spinning, hoop-rolling, and the various games of ball, required toys to carry them on; but they seemed to fall into classification more naturally in the chapter on games than in this one.

old doll2

An Old Doll

I have often been asked whether the first childish[363] girl emigrants to this solemn new world had the comfort of dolls. They certainly had something in the semblance of a doll, though far removed from the radiant doll creatures of this day; little puppets, crude and shapeless, yet ever beloved symbols of maternity, have been known to children in all countries and all ages; dolls are as old as the world and human life. In the tombs of Attica are[364] found classic dolls, of ivory and terra-cotta, with jointed legs and arms. Sad little toys are these; for their human guardians are scattered dust. Dolls were called puppets in olden times, and babies. In the Gentleman's Magazine, London, September, 1751, is an early use of the word doll, "Several dolls with different dresses made in St. James Street have been sent to the Czarina to show the manner of dressing at present in fashion among English ladies." This circulation of dressed dolls as fashion transmitters was a universal custom. Fashion-plates are scarce more[365] than a century old in use. Dolls were sent from house to house, from town to town, from country to country, and even to a new continent.

French doll

French Doll

These babies for fashion models came to be made in large numbers for the use of milliners; and as the finest ones came from the Netherlands, they were called "Flanders babies." To the busy fingers of Dutch children, English and American children owed many toys besides these dolls. It was a rhymed reproach to the latter that—

"What the children of Holland take pleasure in making,
The children of England take pleasure in breaking."

Fashions changed, and the modish raiment grew antiquated and despised; but still the "Flanders babies" had a cherished old age. They were graduated from milliners' boxes and mantua-makers' show rooms to nurseries and play-rooms where they reigned as queens of juvenile hearts. There are old ladies still living who recall the dolls of their youth as having been the battered fashion dolls sent to their mammas.

The best dolls in England were originally sold at Bartholomew Fair and were known as "Bartholomew babies." The English poet, Ward, wrote:—

"Ladies d'y want fine Toys
For Misses or for Boys
[366] Of all sorts I have Choice
And pretty things to tease ye.
I want a little Babye
As pretty a one as may be
With head-dress made of Feather."

In Poor Robin's Almanack, 1695, is a reference to a "Bartholomew baby trickt up with ribbons and knots"; and they were known at the time of the landing of the Pilgrims. Therefore it is not impossible that some Winslow or Winthrop maid, some little miss of Bradford or Brewster birth, brought across seas a Bartholomew baby and was comforted by it.

A pathetic interest is attached to the shapeless similitude of a doll named Bangwell Putt, shown facing page 370. It is in the collection at Deerfield Memorial Hall. It was cherished for eighty years by Clarissa Field of Northfield, Massachusetts, who was born blind, and whose halting but trusting rhymes of longing for the clear vision of another world are fastened to the plaything she loved in youth and in old age.

Nothing more absurd could be fancied than the nomenclature "French" attached to the two shapeless, inelegant creatures, a century old, shown on pages 364 and 367. Yet gawky as they are, they show signs of hard usage, which proves them to have[367] had a more beloved life than the case of elegant Spanish dolls, on page 389, which were evidently too fine ever to be touched. The "White House Doll" spent the days of her youth in the White House at Washington, with the children of the President, John Quincy Adams, and is still cherished by his descendants.

Fench doll2

French Doll

Skilful jackknives could manufacture home-made dolls' furniture. Birch bark was especially adaptable to such uses. The wicker cradles and "chaises" of babies were copied in miniature for dolls. Tin toys were scarce, for tin was not much used for domestic utensils. A[368] tin horse and chaise over a hundred years old is shown on page 373, and a quaint plaything it is. The eternal desire of a child for something suggestive of a horse found satisfaction in home-made hobby-horses; and, when American ships wandered over the world in the India trade, they brought home to American children strange coaches and chariots of gay colors and strange woods; these were often comical copies of European shapes, sometimes astonishingly crude, but ample for the ever active imagination of a child to clothe with beautiful outlines. An old coach is shown on page 369, with the box in which it was originally[369] packed. It is marked Leghorn, but is doubtless Chinese.


Dolls and Furniture


Chinese Coach and Horses

The word "jack" as a common noun and in compound words has been held to be a general term applied to any contrivance which does the work of a boy or servant, or a simple appliance which is subjected to common usage. In French the name Jacques was a term for a young man of menial condition. The term "country jake" is of kindred sense. Jack lord, jack meddler, jackanapes, Jack Tar, smoke-jack, jack-o'-lantern, black-jack, jack-rabbit, the term jack applied to the knave in playing cards, and the expressions jack-at-a-pinch, jack in office, jack in bedlam, jack in a box, jack of all trades, and many others show the derivative meaning.[370] Hence jack-knife may mean a boy's knife. In English dialect the word was jack-lag-knife, also jack-a-legs, in Scotch, jock-te-leg—these by a somewhat fanciful derivation said to be from Jacques de Liege, the celebrated cutler.


Old Jack-knives

A good jack-knife was the most highly desired possession of a boy. Days of weary work and hours of persistent pleading were gone through with in hundreds of cases before the prize was secured. Barlow knives had a century of popularity. Some now in Deerfield Memorial Hall are here shown. Note the curved end, a shape now obsolete, but in truth an excellent one for safe pocket carriage.[371] Knives of similar shape have been found that are known to be a century and a half old. I have never seen in America any of the old knives used as lovers' tokens, with mottoes engraved on them, referred to by Shakespeare. The boy's stock of toys was largely supplied by his own jack-knife: elder pop-guns, chestnut and willow whistles, windmills, water-wheels, box-traps, figure 4 traps. Toy weapons have varied little from the Christian era till to-day. Clubs, slings, bows and arrows, air-guns, are as old as the year One. Ere these were used as toys, they had been formidable weapons. They were weapons still, for some years of colonial life. In 1645 the court of Massachusetts ordered that all boys from ten to sixteen years old should be exercised with bows and arrows.


Bangwell Putt

Skating is an ancient pastime. As early as the thirteenth century Fitzstephen tells of young Londoners fastening the leg-bones of animals to the soles of the feet, and then pushing themselves on the ice by means of poles shod with sharp iron points.

Pepys thought skating "a very pretty art" when he saw it in 1662, but it was then a novelty to him, and he was characteristically a little afraid of it; justly disturbed, too, that the Duke of York would go "though the ice was broken and dangerous, yet[372] he would go slide upon his scates which I did not like—but he slides very well."

white house doll

White House Doll

Wooden skates shod with iron runners were invented in the Low Countries. Dutch children in New Netherlands all skated, just as their grandfathers had in old Batavia. The first skates that William Livingstone had on the frozen Hudson were made of beef bones, as were those of mediæval children. In Massachusetts and Connecticut, skating was among the many Dutch ways and doings practised by English folk in the new world. The Plymouth Pilgrims brought these Dutch customs to the new world through their long and intimate sojourn in Holland; the New Haven and Connecticut Valley settlers learned them through their constant trade and intercourse with[373] their neighbors, the Dutch of Manhattan; but the Massachusetts Bay settlers of Boston and Salem had known these Dutch ways longer,—they brought them from England across seas, from the counties of Essex and Suffolk, where the Dutch had gone years before and married with the English.


Old Tin Toy

New England boys in those early days went skating on thin ice and broke through and were drowned, just as New England boys and girls are to-day, alas! Judge Sewall wrote in his diary on the last day in November, in 1696, that many scholars[374] went to "scate" on Fresh Pond, and that two boys, named Maxwell and Eyre, fell in and were drowned.

wicker coach

Doll's Wicker Coach

Advertisements of men's and boys' skates and of "Best Holland Scates of Different Sizes," show a constant demand and use. In an invoice of "sundry merchandise" to Weathersfield, Connecticut, in the year 1763, are twelve pair "small brass scates, @ 3/—£3, 16/." I do not know the age of the skates shown opposite page 346. No date less than a hundred years ago is ever willingly assigned[375] to such relics. They are similar in shape to the ones shown on page 349, in the illustration taken from a book for children entitled Children's Sports, published a century ago, which ends its dissertation on skating with this sensible advice:—

"'Tis true it looks exceeding nice
To see boys gliding on the ice,
And to behold so many feats
Perform'd upon the sliding skates,
But before you venture there
Wait until the ice will bear,
For want of this both young and old
Have tumbled in,—got wet and cold."

It was not until October, 1771, that a pleasure-filled item appeared, "Boys' Marbles." In The Pretty Little Pocket Book are these lines:—

"Knuckle down to your Taw.
Aim well, shoot away.
Keep out of the Ring,
You'll soon learn to Play.
"Time rolls like a Marble,
And drives every State.
Then improve each Moment,
Before its too late."


Boys played with them precisely as boys do now. The poet Cowper in his Tirocinium says of the games of his school life:—

"The little ones unbutton'd, glowing hot
Playing our games and on the very spot
As happy as we once, to kneel and draw
The chalky ring, and knuckle down at taw."

The terms used were the same as those heard to-day in school yards: taws, vent, back-licks, rounces, dubs, alleys, and alley-taws, agates, bull's-eyes, and commoneys. Jackstones was an old English game known in Locke's day as dibstones. Other names for the game were chuckstones, chuckie-stones, and clinches. The game is precisely the same as was played two centuries ago; it was a girl's game then—it is a girl's game now.

Battledores and Shuttles were advertised for sale in Boston in 1761; but they are far older than that. Many portraits of children show battledores, as that of Thomas Aston Coffin. All books of children's games speak of them. It was, in fact, a popular game, and deemed a properly elegant exercise for decorous young misses to indulge in.




In childhood when with eager eyes
The season-measured years I view'd
All, garb'd in fairy guise
Pledg'd constancy of good.
Spring sang of heaven; the summer flowers
Bade me gaze on, and did not fade;
Even suns o'er autumn's bowers
Heard my strong wish, and stay'd.
They came and went, the short-lived four,
Yet, as their varying dance they wove,
To my young heart each bore
Its own sure claim of love.
J. H. Card. Newman, 1874.

The records of childish flower lore contained in this chapter are those of my own childhood; but they are equally the records of the customs of colonial children, for these games and rhymes and plays about flowers have been preserved from generation to generation of New England children. The transmission of this nature lore[378] has been as direct and unaltered in the new world as in Great Britain. Some of these customs, such as the eating of hollyhock cheeses and the blowing of dandelion clocks, came originally, as have other play usages, from England; many were varied in early years by different conditions in the new world, by local fitness and suggestion.

One chapter in Mr. Newell's book upon the Games of American Children dwells upon the conservatism of children. The unquestioning reception of play formulas, which he proves, extended to the flower rhymes and lore which I have recollected and herein set down. These inherited customs are far dearer to children than modern inventions. There is a quaintness of expression, a sentiment of tradition, that the child feels without power of formulating.


Stella (Bradley) Bellows, 1800, circa

If the paradise of the Orientals is a garden, so was a garden of old-fashioned flowers the earthly paradise for a child: the long sunny days brought into life so many delightful playthings to be made through the exercise of that keen instinct of all children, destructiveness. Each year saw the fresh retelling and teaching of child to child of happy flower customs almost intuitively, or through the "knowledge never learned at schools," that curious subtle system of transmission which everywhere exists[379] among children who are blessed enough to spend their summer days in the woods or in a garden. The sober teachings of science in later years can never make up the loss to those who have lived their youth in great cities, and have grown up debarred from this inheritance, knowing not when

"The summer comes with flower and bee."

The dandelion was the earliest flower to stir the children's memories; in New England it is "the firstling of the year." In the days of my childhood we did not wait for the buttercup to open to learn whether we "loved butter"; the soft dimpled chin of each child was held up, as had been those of other children for past decades, to catch the yellow reflection of the first dandelion on the pinky throat.

The dandelion had other charms for the child. When the blooms had grown long-stemmed through seeking the sun from under the dense box borders, what pale green, opal-tinted curls could be made by splitting the translucent stems and immersing them in water, or by placing them in the mouth! I taste still their bitterness! What grace these curls conferred when fastened to our round combs, or hung over our straight braids!—far better than locks of corn silk. And what adorning necklaces and chains like Indian wampum could be made by stringing[380] "dandelion beads," formed by cutting the stems into sections! This is an ancient usage; one German name of the flower is chain-flower. The making of dandelion curls is also an old-time childish custom in Germany. When the dandelion had lost her golden locks, and had grown old and gray, the children still plucked the downy heads, the "clocks" or blowballs, and holding aloft these airy seed vessels, and fortifying the strong young lungs with a deep breath, they blew upon the head "to see whether my mother wants me," or to learn the time o' day.

"Dandelion, the globe of down,
The schoolboy's clock in every town,
Which the truant puffs amain
To conjure back long hours again."

The ox-eye daisy, the farmer's whiteweed, was brought to New England, so tradition tells, as a garden flower. Now, as Dr. Holmes says, it whitens our fields to the great disgust of our liberal shepherds. It soon followed the dandelion in bloom, and a fresh necklace could be strung from the starry blossoms, a daisy chain, just as English children string their true pink and white daisies. This daisy was also used as a medium of amatory divination, by pulling from the floret the white ray flowers, saying, "He loves me, he loves me not," or[381] by repeating the old "apple-seed rhyme":—

daisy chain

Daisy chain

"One I love,
Two I love,
Three I love, I say,
Four I love with all my heart,
Five I cast away," etc.

Flower oracles are mediæval, and divination by leaves of grass. Children to-day, as of old, draw grass stalks in the field and match them to see who will be "It." Walther von der Vogelweide (1170-1230) did likewise:—

"A spire of grass hath made me gay—
I measured in the self-same way
I have seen practised by a child.
Come, look, and listen if she really does,
She does, does not, she does, does not, she does."


The yellow disk, or "button," of the ox-eye daisy, which was formed by stripping off the white rays, made a pretty pumpkin pie for the dolls' table. A very effective and bilious old lady, or "daisy grandmother," was made by clipping off the rays to shape the border or ruffle of a cap, leaving two long rays for strings, and marking in a grotesque old face with pen and ink. A dusky face, called with childish plainness of speech a "nigger head," could be made in like fashion from the "black-eyed Susan" or "yellow daisy," which now rivals the ox-eye daisy as a pest of New England fields.

Though the spring violets were dearly loved, we slaughtered them ruthlessly by "fighting roosters" with them. The projecting spur under the curved stem at the base of the flower was a hook, and when the violets "clinched" we pulled till the stronger was conqueror, and the weaker head was off.

What braided "cat-ladders," and quaint, antique-shaped boats with swelling lateen sail and pennant of striped grass could be made from the flat, sword-like leaves of the "flower-de-luce!" Filled with flowers, these leafy boats could be set gayly adrift down a tiny brook in the meadow, or, with equal sentiment, in that delight of children since Froissart's day, the purling gutter of a hillside street after a heavy midsummer shower. The flowers[383] chosen to sail in these tiny crafts were those most human of all flowers, pansies, or their smaller garden sisters, the "ladies'-delights" that turned their laughing, happy faces to us from every nook and corner of our garden. The folk names of this flower, such as "three-faces-under-a-hood," "johnny-jump-up," "jump-up-and-kiss-me," "come-tickle-me," show the universal sense of its kinship to humanity. I knew a child who insisted for years that pansies spoke to her. Another child, who had stolen a rose, and hidden it under her apron, called out pettishly (throwing the rose in a pansy bed), "Here! take your old flower"—as the pansy faces blinked and nodded knowingly to her.

The "dielytra" (bleeding-heart, or lady's-eardrops we called it) had long, gracefully drooping racemes of bright red-pink flowers, which when pulled apart and straightened out made fairy gondolas, or which might be twisted into a harp and bottle. How many scores have I carefully dissected, trying to preserve intact in skeleton shape the little heart-shaped "frame" of the delicate flower! The bleeding-heart is a flower of inexplicable charm to children; it has something of that mystery which in human nature we term fascination. Little children beg to pick it, and babies stretch out their tiny hands to it when showier blossoms are unheeded.


What black-headed puppets or dolls could be made from the great poppies, whose reflexed petals formed gay scarlet petticoats; and also from the blossoms of vari-colored double balsams, with their frills and flounces! The hollyhock, ever ready to render to the child a new pleasure, could be tied into tiny dolls with shining satin gowns, true fairies. Families—nay, tribes of patriarchal size had the little garden-mother. Mertensia, or lungwort, we termed "pink and blue ladies." The lovely blossoms, which so delighted the English naturalist Wallace, and which he called "drooping porcelain-blue bells," are shaped something like a child's straight-waisted, full-skirted frock. If pins are stuck upright in a piece of wood, the little blue silken frocks can be hung over them, and the green calyx looks like a tiny hat. A child friend forbidden to play with dolls on the solemn New England Sabbath was permitted to gather the mertensia bells on that holy day, and also to use the cherished income of a prosperous pin store. It was discovered with maternal horror that she had carefully arranged her pink and blue ladies in quadrilles and contra-dances, and was very cheerfully playing dancing party, to beguile the hours of a weary summer Sunday afternoon.


Playing Marbles

Mr. Tylor, the author of Primitive Culture, call[385] our attention to the fact that many of the beloved plays of children are only sportive imitations of the serious business of life. In some cases the game has outlived the serious practice of which it is a copy—such as the use of bows and arrows. Children love to produce these imitations themselves with what materials they can obtain, not to have them provided in finished perfection. Thus the elaborately fitted-up doll's house and imitation grocery store cannot keep the child contented for days and weeks as can the doll's room or shop counter furnished by the makeshifts of the garden. The child makes her cups and saucers and furniture herself.[386] She prepares her own powders and distillations and is satisfied.

A harvest of acorn cups furnished table garniture, but not a cherished one; they were too substantial; we preferred more fragile, more perishable wares. Rose-hips were fashioned into tiny tea-sets, and would not be thought to be of great durability. A few years ago I was present at the opening of an ancient chest which had not been thoroughly searched for many years. In a tiny box within it was found some cherished belongings of a little child who had died in the year 1794. Among them was one of these tea-sets made of rose-hips, with handles of bent pins. Though shrunken and withered, the rose-hips still possessed some life color, but they soon fell into dust. There was something most tender in the thought of that loving mother, who had herself been dead over half a century, who had thus preserved the childish work of her beloved daughter.

Poppy pericarps made famous pepper-boxes, from which the seed could be shaken as pepper; dishes and cups, too, for dolls' tea-tables, and tiny handles of strong grass stems could be attached to the cups. For the child's larder, hollyhocks furnished food in their mucilaginous cheeses, and the insipid akenes of the sunflower and seeds of pumpkins swelled the[387] feast. A daintier morsel, a drop of honey, the "clear bee-wine" of Keats, could be sucked from the curved spur of the columbine, and the scarlet-and-yellow trumpet of the beautiful coral honeysuckle, mellifluous of the name, as well as from the tubes of the heads of clover. We ate rose-leaves, also, and grass roots, and smarting peppergrass. The sorrel and oxalis (which we called "ladies' sorrel") and the curling tendrils of grape-vines gave an acid zest to our childish nibblings and browsings.

The gnarled plum trees at the end of the garden exuded beautiful crystals of gum, of which we could say proudly, like Cornelia, "These are my jewels." Translucent topaz and amber were never more beautiful, and, void of settings, these pellucid gems could be stuck directly on the fingers or on the tip of the ear. And when our vanity was sated with the bravery, or we could no longer resist our appetite, there still remained another charm: with childish opulence, like Cleopatra, we swallowed our jewels.

A low-growing mallow, wherever it chanced to run, shared with its cousin hollyhock the duty of providing cheeses. These mallow cheeses were also eaten by English children. In allusion to this the poet Clare wrote:—

"The sitting down when school was o'er
Upon the threshold of the door,
[388] Picking from mallows, sport to please,
The crumpled seed we call a cheese."

These flower customs never came to us through reading. All our English story-books told of making cowslip balls, of breaking the shepherd's purse, of playing lords and ladies with the arum—what we call jack-in-the-pulpit; yet we never thought of making any kindred attempts with these or similar flowers. We did gather eagerly the jack-in-the-pulpit, whose singularity of aspect seems always to attract the attention of children, and by pinching it at the base of the flower made it squeak, "made Jack preach." But like true republicans we never called our jacks lords and ladies.

The only liking we had for the portulaca was in gathering the seeds which grew in little boxes with a lid opening in a line around the middle. Oh, dear! It doesn't seem like the same thing to hear these beloved little seed-boxes described as "a pyxis, or a capsule with a circumscissile dehiscence."

From the live-for-ever, or orpine (once tenderly cherished as a garden favorite, now in many localities a hated and persistent weed), we made frogs, or purses, by gently pinching the fleshy leaves between thumb and forefinger, thus loosening the epidermis on the lower side of the leaf and making a bladder which, when blown up, would burst with[389] a delightful pop. The New England folk-names by which this plant is called, such as frog-plant, blow-leaf, pudding-bag plant, show the wide-spread prevalence of this custom. A rival in sound could be made by popping the foxglove's fingers. English countrywomen call the foxglove a pop. The morning-glory could also be blown up and popped, and the canterbury-bell. We placed rose petals and certain tender leaves over our lips, and drew in the centres for explosion.


Spanish Dolls

Noisy boys found scores of other ways to make various resounding notes in the gardens. A louder pop could be made by placing broad leaves on the extended thumb and forefinger of one hand and[390] striking them with the other. The boys also made squawks out of birch bark and fiddles of cornstalks and trombones from the striped prickly leaf-stalks of pumpkins and squashes.

The New England chronicler in rhyme of boyhood days, Rev. John Pierpont, called this sound evoked from the last-named instrument "the deeper tone that murmurs from the pumpkin leaf trombone." It is, instead, a harsh trumpeting. These trombones were made in Germany as early as the thirteenth century.

An ear-piercing whistle could be constructed from a willow branch, and a particularly disagreeable sound could be evoked by every boy, and (I must acknowledge it) by every girl, too, by placing broad leaves of grass—preferably the pretty striped ribbon-grass, or gardener's garters—between the thumbs and blowing thereon. Other skilful and girl-envied accomplishments of the boys I will simply name: making baskets and brooches by cutting or filing the furrowed butternut or the stone of a peach; also fairy baskets, Japanesque in workmanship, of cherry stones; manufacturing old-women dolls of hickory nuts; squirt-guns and pop-guns of elderberry stems; pipes of horse-chestnuts, corn-cobs, or acorns, in which dried sweet-fern could be smoked; sweet-fern or grape-stem or corn-silk cigars.


Some child customs successfully defy the law of the survival of the useful, and ignore the lesson of reason; they simply exist. A marked example of these, of bootless toil, is the laborious hoarding of horse-chestnuts each autumn. With what eagerness and hard work do boys gather these pretty nuts; how they quarrel with one another over the possession of every one; how stingily they dole out a few to the girls who cannot climb the trees, and are not permitted to belabor the branches with clubs and stones for dislodgment of the treasures, as do their lordly brothers! How carefully the gathered store is laid away for winter, and not one thing ever done with one horse-chestnut, until all feed a grand blaze in the open fireplace! At the time of their gathering they are converted to certain uses, are made into certain toys. They are tied to the ends of strings, and two boys, holding the stringed chestnuts, play cob-nut. Two nuts are also tied together by a yard of cord, and, by a catching knack, circled in opposite directions. But these games have a very emphatic time and season,—the weeks when the horse-chestnuts ripen. The winter's store is always untouched.

From a stray burdock plant which had escaped destruction in our kitchen garden, or from a group of these pestilent weeds in a neighboring by-path,[392] could be gathered materials for many days of pleasure. The small, tenacious burs could be easily wrought into interesting shapes. There was a romance in our neighborhood about a bur-basket. A young man conveyed a written proposal of marriage to his sweetheart reposing in one of the spiny vehicles. Like the Ahkoond of Swat, I don't know "why or which or when or what" he chose such an extraordinary medium, but the bur-basket was forever after haloed with sentiment. We made from burs more prosaic but admirable furniture for the dolls' house,—tables, chairs, and cradles: Traces of the upholstery clung long and disfiguringly to our clothing, but never deterred us from the fascinating occupation. To throw these burs upon each other's clothing was held to be the commission of the unpardonable sin in childish morals; still it was done "in holiday foolery," as in Shakespeare's day.

The milkweed, one of our few native weeds, and a determined settler on its native soil, furnished abundant playthings. The empty pods became fairy cradles, and tiny pillows could be made of the beautiful silk. The milkweed and thistle both furnish pretty, silvery balls when treated with deft fingers; and their manufacture is no modern fashion. Manasseh Cutler, writing in 1786, says:—


"I was pleased with a number of perfectly white silken balls, as they appeared to be, suspended by small threads along the frame of the looking-glass. They were made by taking off the calyx of the thistle at an early stage of blooming."

Ingenious toys of amusing shapes could be formed of the pith of the milkweed, and when weighted with a tack would always fall tack downward, as did the grotesque corn-stalk witches.

Pressed flowers were devoted to special uses. I cannot recall pressing any flower save larkspur,—the "lark-heels" of Shakespeare. Why this flower was chosen I do not know, unless for the reason that its colors were so enduring. We used to make charming wreaths of the stemless flowers by placing the spur of one in the centre of another flower, and thus forming a tiny circle. A favorite arrangement was alternating the colors pink and blue. These stiff little pressed wreaths were gummed on a sheet of paper, to be used at the proper time as a valentine,—were made for that definite purpose; yet I cannot now recall that, when February came, I ever sent one of these valentines, or indeed had any to send.

I have found these larkspur wreaths in a Pike's Arithmetic, used a century ago, and also in old Bibles, sometimes fastened in festoons on the title-page,[394] around the name of a past owner. Did Dr. Holmes refer to one when he wrote his graceful line, "light as a loop of larkspur"? A similar wreath could be made of the columbine spurs. A friend tells me she made scores in her youth; but we never pressed any flowers but larkspur.

Many pretty wreaths were made of freshly gathered flowers. The daintiest were of lilac or phlox petals, which clung firmly together without being threaded, and the alternation of color in these wreaths—one white and two purple lilac petals, or two white phlox petals and two crimson—could easily prove the ingenuity and originality of the child who produced them. In default of better-loved flowers, the four-o'clock, or marvel-of-Peru, was made into a similar garland.

In the beautiful and cleanly needles of the pine the children had an unlimited supply for the manufacture of toys. Pretty necklaces could be made for personal adornment, resembling in miniature the fringed bark garments of the South Sea Islanders, and tiny brooms for dolls' houses. A thickly growing cluster of needles was called "a lady." When her petticoats were carefully trimmed, she could be placed upright on a sheet of paper, and by softly blowing upon it could be made to dance. A winter's amusement was furnished by gathering and storing[395] the pitch-pine cones and hearing them snap open in the house. The cones could also be planted with grass-seeds, and form a cheerful green growing ornament.


Leaf Boats made from Flower-de-luce

From birch bark gathered in long wood walks could be made cornucopias and drinking-cups, and letters could be cut thereon and thereof. There wandered through the town, harmless and happy, one of "God's fools," whose like is seen in every[396] country community. He found his pleasure in early autumn in strolling through the country, and marking with his jack-knife, in cabalistic designs, the surface of all the unripe pumpkins and squashes. He was driven by the farmers from this annoying trespass in the daytime, but "by brave moonshine" could still make his mysterious mark on the harvest of the year. The boys of the town, impressed by the sight of a garden or field of squashes thus curiously marked, fell into a habit of similar inscription, which in them became wanton vandalism, and had none of the sense of baffled mystery which always hung around and illumined poor Elmer's letters. A favorite manner of using the autumn store of pumpkins was in the manufacture of Jack-o'-lanterns, which were most effective and hideous when lighted from within.

"The umbrellas are out!" call country children in spring, when the peltate leaves of the May apple spread their umbrella-shaped lobes, and the little girls gather them, and the leaves of the wild sarsaparilla, for dolls' parasols. The spreading head of what we called snake grass could also be tied into a very effective miniature parasol. There is no sense of caste among children when in a field or garden—all are equally well dressed when "bedizened and brocaded" with garden finery. Green[397] leaves can be pinned with their stems into fantastic caps and bonnets; foxglove fingers can be used as gloves; the blossoms of the jewelweed make pretty earrings; and the dandelion and daisy chains are not the only necklaces,—the lilac and larkspur chains and pretty little circlets of phlox are proudly worn; and strings of rose-hips end the summer. The old English herbalist says "children with delight make chains and pretty gewgaws of the fruit of roses." Truly, the garden-bred child walks in gay attire from May to October.

The "satten" found by the traveller Josselyn, in seventeenth-century New England gardens, formed throughout New England a universal plaything, and a frequent winter posy, in country parlors, on mantel or table. The broad white oval partition, of satiny lustre, remaining after the side valves had fallen, made juvenile money, and the plant went by the appropriate name of money-in-both-pockets.

Other seeds were gathered as the children's spoils: those of the garden balsam, to see them burst, or to feel them curl up in the hand like living creatures; those of the balsam's cousin, the jewelweed, to watch them snap violently open—hence its country name of touch-me-not and snapweed. When the leaves were hung with dew it deserved its title of jewelweed, and when they were immersed in[398] water its other pretty descriptive folk name of silver-leaf.

A grotesquery could be formed from the seed-pods in the centre of the peony, when opened, in such a way that the tiny pink and white seeds resembled two sets of teeth in an open mouth. Imaginary miniature likenesses were found in the various parts of many flowers: the naked pistil and stamens of one were a pair of tongs; another had a seed ovary which was a lady, a very stout lady with extending hoops. The heart's-ease had in its centre an old lady washing her feet; the monk's-hood, a devil in his chariot. A single petal of the columbine, with attached sepals, was a hovering dove, and the whole flower—Izaak Walton's "culverkeys"—formed a little dish with a ring of pigeon-heads bending within.

There were many primitive inks and staining juices that could be expressed, and milks and gums that exuded, from various plants. We painted pictures in our books with the sap from the petals of the red peonies, and blue juice from the blossom of the spiderwort, or tradescantia, now a neglected flower. We dyed dolls' clothes with the juice of elderberries. The country child could also dye a vivid red with the juice of the pokeberry, the "red-ink" plant, or with the stems of the bloodroot;[399] and the sap crushed from soft, pulpy leaves, such as those of the live-for-ever, furnished a green stain.

There was a certain garden lore connected with insects, not so extensive, probably, as a child would have upon a farm. We said to the snail:—

"Snail, snail, come out of your hole,
Or else I will beat you as black as a coal."

We sang to the lady-bug:—

"Lady-bug, lady-bug, fly away home;
Your house is on fire, your children will burn."

We caught the grasshoppers, and thus exhorted them:—

"Grandfather, grandfather gray,
Give me molasses, or I'll throw you away."

We believed that earwigs lived for the sole purpose of penetrating our ears, that dragon-flies flew with the sole thought of sewing up our lips—devil's darning-needles we called them. To this day I instinctively cover my mouth at their approach. We used to entrap bumble-bees in the bells of monopetalous flowers such as canterbury-bells, or in the ample folds of the hollyhock, and listen to their indignant scolding and buzzing, and watch them gnaw and push out to freedom. I cannot recall ever being stung in the process.


We had the artistic diversion of "pin-a-sights." These were one of the shop-furnishings of pin stores, whose curious lore, and the oddly shaped and named articles made for them, should be recorded ere they are forgotten. A "pin-a-sight" was made of a piece of glass, on which were stuck flowers in various designs. Over these flowers was pasted a covering of paper, in which a movable flap could be lifted, to display, on payment of a pin, the concealed treasures. We used to chant, to entice sight-seers, "A pin, a pin, a poppy-show." This being our rendering of the word "puppet-show." I recall as our "sights" chiefly the tiny larkspur wreaths before named, and miniature trees carefully manufactured of grass-spires. A noted "pin-a-sight," glorious still in childish history and tradition, was made for my pin-store by a grown-up girl of fourteen. She cut in twain tiny baskets, which she pasted on glass, and filled with wonderful artificial flowers manufactured out of the petals of real blossoms. I well remember her "gilding refined gold" by making a gorgeous blue rose out of the petals of a flower-de-luce.

I cannot recall playing much with roses; we fashioned a bird out of the buds. The old English rhyme describing the variation of the sepals was unknown to us:—


"On a summer's day in sultry weather
Five brethren were born together:
Two had beards, and two had none,
And the other had but half a one."

Still, with the rose is connected one of my most tender child memories,—somewhat of a gastronomic cast, yet suffused with an element of grace,—the making of "rosy-cakes." These dainty fairy cakes were made of layers of rose-leaves sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon, and then carefully enfolded in slips of white paper. Sometimes they were placed in the garden over night, pressed between two flat stones. As a morsel for the epicure they were not altogether alluring, although inoffensive, but decidedly preferable to pumpkin or sunflower seeds, and they were englamoured with sentiment; for these rosy-cakes were not destined to be greedily eaten by the concocter, but were to be given with much secrecy as a mark of affection, a true love token, to another child or some beloved older person, and were to be eaten also in secret. I recall to this day the thrill of happiness which the gift of one of these little paper-inclosed rosy-cakes brought to me, in the days of my childhood, when it was slipped into my hand by a beautiful and gentle child, who died the following evening, during a thunder-storm, of fright. The tragedy of her death,[402] the memory of the startling glimpses given by the vivid lightning, of agitated running to and fro in the heavy rain and lowering darkness, and the terrified summons of kindly neighbors,—all have fixed more firmly in my mind the happy recollection of her last gift.

Another custom of my youth was watching at dusk the opening of the twisted buds of the garden primrose into wan, yellow stars, "pallid flowers, by dew and moonlight fed," which filled the early evening with a faint, ineffable fragrance that drew a host of encircling night moths. Keats said they "leaped from buds into ripe flowers," a habit thus told by Margaret Deland:—

"Here, in warm darkness of a night in June,
*    *    *    *    * children came
To watch the primrose blow.
Silent they stood,
Hand clasped in hand, in breathless hush around,
And saw her shyly doff her soft green hood
And blossom—with a silken burst of sound!"

In our home garden stood a clump of tall primroses, whose beautiful flowers, when opened, were four inches in diameter. When riding, one summer evening, along a seaside road on Cape Ann, we first saw one of these queens of the night in an humble dooryard. In the dark its seeds were gathered[403] and given by an unknown hand and a flower-loving heart to my mother, to form under her "fair tendance" the luminous evening glory of her garden. And on summer nights this stately primrose still blooms in moonlight and starlight, though the gentle hand that planted it is no longer there:—

"Yon rising Moon that looks for us again
How oft hereafter will she wax and wane
How oft hereafter look for us
Through this same Garden—and for one in vain."

To every garden-bred child the sudden blossoming and pale shining in the gloaming have ever given the evening primrose a special tender interest,—a faintly mystic charm through the chill of falling dew and the dim light, and through a half-sad atmosphere which has always encircled the flower, and has been felt by many of the poets, making them seldom sing the evening primrose as a flower of happiness. With the good night of children to the flowers, I close this record of old-time child life.



Ye labor and ye patience, ye judgment and ye penetration which are required to make a good index is only known to those who have gone through with this most necessary and painful but least praised part of a publication.

        —William Oldys, 1687.

Abcie. See Absey-book.

Abiel, the name, 15.

Abigail, the name, 16.

Absey-book, 127, 229.

Accidence, Young Lady's, 96, 135;
Cheever's, 134.

Acorn cups, playthings of, 386.

Adams, Abigail, quoted, 93-94;
patriotism of, 171.

Adams, John Quincy, birth of, 40;
letters of, 147, 169-170;
patriotic education of, 170 et seq.

Advertisements, of booksellers, 267 et seq.

Æsop's Fables, 264.

Afflicted Parents, 257.

Agates, 375.

Albany, N. Y., education of girls in, 94.

Alleys, 375.

"All the birds of the air," 348.

Almanacs, notes in, 163.

Almonds, 32.

Alphabet-blocks, 182.

American Preceptor, 144.

Amphidromia, 18.

Andover, Mass., school at, 83, 134.

Angelica candy, 31.

Appleseed rhyme, 381.

Appleton, Samuel, as teacher, 98.

Arithmetic, manuscript, 79, 138, 139;
study of, 138;
verses in, 141, 142;
printed, 140 et seq.;
rules on birch bark, 79.

Arsemetrick, 140.

Arte of Vulgar Arithmetike, 142.

Ascham, Roger, 91;
habits of, 352.

Ashes, saved by school children, 77.

Astrology, 5-6.

Augrime, 140.

Austin, Madam, names of children, 16.

Babees Book, 215, 220.

Babies. See Dolls.

Backboard, 105, 107.

Ball, games of, 347.

Ball, Mary, quoted, 95.

Balsam, dolls of, 384.

Bangwell Putt, 366.

Baptism, in winter, 4.

Barbadoes, scholars from, 86 et seq.

Barbauld, Mrs., learnt upon, 298 et seq.

Barnard, John, quoted, 97, 200.

Barring-out, 77.

Baskets, of fruit stones, 390;
of burs, 392.

[406]Bathing, 25, 26;
Locke's ideas about, 25;
old-time lack of, 27-29;
on shipboard, 28.

Battledore and shuttlecock, 376.

Battledore book, 125 et seq.

Beans, as food, 30.

Bears, hunting of, 316.

Bearing-cloth, 23.

Beechen roundels, 335.

Beer, drinking of, 26.

Bendall, Edward, names of children, 17.

Berkeley, Governor, his narrow mind, 64;
quoted, 65.

Berries, as food, 30.

Bethlehem, Pa., schools at, 114.

Bewick, cuts of, 258, 286, 289, 291, 293.

Bible, as guide, 191;
use in schools, 203 et seq.;
reading of, 228;
familiarity with, 228;
deprivation of, 229;
influence of, 229;
versification of, 258;
abridgments of, 258;
texts of, embroidered, 334.

Bingham, Caleb, school of, 96-97;
books of, 96, 135, 144.

Birch, for rods, 196.

Birch bark, for paper, 79;
for cradles, 21;
toys of, 367, 390;
letters cut of, 395;
cups of, 395.

Blackburn, portraits by, 37, 51.

Black-jacks, 32.

Bladders in windpipe, 4.

Blair, Agan, letter of, 104-105.

Blanchard, Claude, quoted, 151.

Blankets, 21-23.

Bleeding heart, 383.

Bloodroot, ink from, 398.

Boarding schools, 113 et seq.

Boke of Curtasye, 215.

Boke of Nurture, 215.

Book of Martyrs, 249.

Bonner, Jane, portrait of, 44-45.

Borrowing, of books, 301, 302.

Boston, land allotment of, 13;
cakes in, 32;
schools of, 69, 99, 135;
boarders in, 99;
writing-teachers of, 152, 153;
laws in, 205;
funerals in, 243;
children's books in, 299;
style of writing, 153.

Bounds, beating the, 312 et seq.

Bowling, 350.

Bowne, Eliza Southgate, letters of, 113, 114.

Bows and arrows, 371, 385.

Boys' pews, 246.

Boy Bishop's Sermon, 193.

Bradley, Daniel, infant conversion of, 251.

Bradford, Governor, christening shirt and mittens of, 35;
bearing-cloth of, 23;
quoted, 230-231, 353.

Bradley children, 61.

Brainerd, David and John, childhood of, 223 et seq., 307 et seq.

Breaking up, in school, 115.

Breeches, 62.

Bristle-saving, 310.

British Instructor, 136.

Brookline, Mass., land grants in, 13.

Broom-making, 308.

Brother's Gift, 281.

Browne, Sir Thomas, quoted, 57;
his early maturity, 176.

Brownell, advertisement of, 321.

Buck, Richard, children's names, 14-15.

Buckingham, Joseph T., precocity of, 184;
cited, 310.

Bumble bees, trapping of, 399.

Bunyan, John, writings of, 254-255.

Bunyan, Mrs. John, books of, 249.

Burr, Aaron, advice to daughter, 160-161.

Burs, playthings of, 392.

Busks, 106.

Bussee, 199.

Butcher, Elizabeth, infant query of, 251.

Cakes, groaning, 17;
nurses', 18;
Meers, 32;
caraway, 31.

Canterbury bells, 389.

Caraways, 31.

[407]Careful Father and Pious Child, 130.

Cards, playing, 353.

Card-setting, 309.

Carter, Robert, wardrobe of, 55-56.

Carolinas, schools of, 65.

Caroline, or a Lesson to Cure Vanity, 293-294.

Cary children, 61.

Cat and clay chimney, 76.

Catechism, in schools, 131;
as gifts, 258.

Catechism of Health, 95.

Cat-ladders, 382.

Cat's-cradle, 346.

Caudle, drinking of, 18.

Cereal foods, 29-31.

Charlotte Temple, 113.

Chaucer, cited, 211.

Chastellux, Marquis de, cited, 110-111.

Cheeses, of hollyhocks, 386;
of mallows, 387.

Cheever, Ezekiel, discipline of, 200;
grammar of, 134.

Chester, England, child marriages in, 186 et seq.

Chesterfield, Lord, education of his son, 178-179;
quoted, 178.

Child, Tom, 44.

Child's Body of Divinity, 262.

Child's Companion, 144.

Child's New Spelling Book, 136.

Chimney, cat and clay, 76.

Chokecherry-gathering, 309.

Christening, in winter, 34.

Christening dress, 34 et seq.

Christening party, 18.

Christian's Metamorphosis Unfolded, 255.

Christian Pilgrim, 255.

Chuck farthing, 347.

Chuckstones, 375.

Clap, Roger, names of children, 16.

Clare, quoted, 387.

Clarissa, or The Grateful Orphan, 295.

Clinches, 375.

Clocks, dandelion, 380.

Coarseness of children's books, 291.

Coasting, 350.

Coats, worn by boys, 41.

Coat-of-arms, 323 et seq.

Cobnuts, 391.

Cobwebs to Catch Flies, 284, 290.

Cocker's Arithmetic, 140, 142.

Cock-fighting, 352.

Cock-throwing, 351.

Codrington, Richard, quoted, 264, 265.

Coffin, Thomas A., portrait of, 52.

Coleman, Jane, education of, 91 et seq.

Coleman, Lydia, letters of, 87-88, 102;
guardianship of, 87 et seq., 101 et seq.

Coleman, President, letter of, 92.

Colet, 91.

College, old use of word, 277.

Columbian Orator, 144.

Columbine, wreaths of, 394;
playthings of, 398.

Comets, notions about, 148, 240.

Comfits, 87.

Commonplace books, 172 et seq.;
of children, 173.

Concord, N. H., funeral at, 242-243.

Connecticut, schools of, 68;
early laws of, 68.

Conservatism of children, 378.

Contagious diseases, 5.

Cookies, 32.

Cookey-moulds, 124.

Cooper, Rebecca, wooing of, 188 et seq.

Copley, portraits by, 37, 49, 50, 52, 53, 55.

Copley family, 55.

Copybooks, home-made, 79.

Cordes, Ellinor, portrait, 48.

Cornstalk, witches of, 393;
fiddles of, 390.

Corsets. See Stays.

Cotton, dress of, 60.

Cotton, John, 130.

Country Rhimes for Children, 255.

Cowper, William, quoted, 375.

Cradle, of Peregrine White, 20;
swinging, 21;
of birch bark, 21;
of wicker, 21;
of Indians, 21;
cost of, 21.

Cradle Hymn, 262-263.

[408]Criss-cross row, 118.

Cromwell, Oliver, discipline of, 193.

Culverkeys, 398.

Curtius, Dr., 201-202.

Custis, "Miss," wardrobe of, 56-57;
harpsichord of, 113.

Custis family, portrait, 57.

Cutler, Manasseh, quoted, 393.

Cut-tail, 319.

Cyphering. See Arithmetic.

Daffy's Elixir, 6.

Daisies, divination with, 380;
chains of, 380.

Dame schools, 97.

Danbury, Mass., spelling in, 137.

"Dance barefoot," 103.

Dancing, price of lessons, 103;
"gynecandrical," 109;
"petulant," 110;
sermon against, 109-110;
repression of, 110;
formality of, 110-111;
varied titles of, 111.

Dandelion, chains, 409;
clocks, 380.

Day of Doom, 252 et seq.

Dealings with the Dead, 242.

Death and Burial of Cock Robin, 292.

Death-bed scenes, 257, 295.

Death rate, 4.

Deer, hunting of, 316.

Deland, Margaret, quoted, 402.

Deming, Mrs., letter of, 99.

De Peyster twins, portrait of, 45.

Deportment, 105.

Desks, primitive, 75.

Devil, familiarity with, 175;
names of, 239.

Devil's play-houses, 247.

Dialogue between Christ, Youth, and the Devil, 131.

Diaries, of adults, 163 et seq.;
of children, 164;
penmanship of, 164.

Diary of a Lady of Quality, 206.

Dibstones, 375.

Dielytra, 383.

Diet, of children, 26, 29-30;
Locke's notions on, 26.

Dilworth's Speller, 136.

Discipline, in American schools, 196 et seq.;
in English schools, 192 et seq.;
Dr. Johnson on, 194;
in Dutch schools, 194;
parental, 192;
of servants, 192;
of grown children, 192.

Diseases of children, 4.

Disinfection, 4-5.

District School, 155.

Divine Blossoms, 252.

Divine Emblems, 255.

Divine Songs for Children, 262.

Dock, Samuel, character of, 209 et seq.;
methods of teaching, 210;
quoted, 211.

Dod, Mr., book of, 249.

Dogs, in meeting-house, 245.

Dolls, antiquity of, 363;
as fashion conveyors, 364-365;
Dutch, 365;
Bartholomew Fair, 365-366;
French, 366-367;
of hollyhocks, 384;
of poppies, 384;
of mertensia, 384;
of hickory-nuts, 390.

Dorchester, Mass., boys of, 246.

Dorchester in America, 165 et seq.;
churches in, 166.

Dorothy Q., 107-108.

Double names, 17.

Downing, Lucy, christening party, 18;
on son's marriage, 188.

Doyle, Sir Francis, quoted, 225.

Dragon flies, notions about, 399.

Drainage, 4-5.

Dream-books, 265.

Dress, laws about, 45;
in book-cuts, 293.

Drift of the forest, 315.

Drunkenness, of school-teachers, 72.

Dudley, Governor, 179;
quoted, 2, 185.

Dudley, Paul, 185.

Dulany, Major, on school plays, 116;
on letter writing, 159-160.

Dulany, Mary Grafton. See Mary Grafton.

Dumps, 352.

Dunton, John, quoted, 358.

[409]Dwight, Timothy, precocity of, 184-185.

Dyves Pragmaticus, title of, 30;
on sweetmeats, 30;
on books, 127 et seq.;
on birch, 196.

Earle, Abigail, handwriting of, 151.

Earle, John, quoted, 112;
cited, 164.

Earle, Professor, cited, 136-137.

Earrings, 47.

Earwigs, notions about, 399.

Edwards, Jonathan, education of, 92-93;
precocity of, 180;
letter of, 180-181;
on spiders, 181;
his book, 251.

Edwards, Timothy, letter of, 92.

Elderberries, squirt guns of, 390;
ink from, 398.

Elyot, Sir Thomas, quoted, 357.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, quoted, 215.

Endicott, Governor, quoted, 188 et seq.

Epidemics, 4.

Equality, sign of, 139.

Erasmus, 91.

Erasmus Hall, 126.

Eringo-root, candied, 31.

Ernst, C. W., quoted, 31.

Essex, Earl of, child marriage of, 187.

Essays to do Good, 255.

Etiquette, regard for, 222 et seq.

Eton, games at, 358.

Evelyn, John, quoted, 177, 231-232;
on child marriage, 187;
cited, 283.

Evelyn, Richard, character of, 177 et seq.

Evenings at Home, 295.

Every Young Man's Companion in Drawing, 54.

Exhibitions, school, 115 et seq.

Exposure, at baptism, 4.

Fairchild Family, 295 et seq.

Falkland, Elizabeth, discipline of, 193.

Falkland, Letice, quoted, 232.

Family, size of, 11 et seq.

Farm life, change of duties in, 308.

Fathergone, the name, 15.

Father's Gift, story from, 279-280.

Fear of the Lord, 227, 237.

Feather-work, 322.

Feet, wetting of, 25.

Ferule, in Dutch schools, 194;
derivation of, 195.

Fescue, 122.

Fiddle, corn-stalk, 390.

Finger-sticking, 213.

Fiske, Reverend Moses, family of, 12;
thrift of, 12.

Flagg, James, portrait, 48-49.

Flagg, Polly, portrait, 48.

Flannel sheet, 21.

Flapper, 197.

Flatbush, L. I., school at, 74, 202;
curious discipline of scholars, 199-200.

Flax, children's work on, 306.

Fleetwood-Quincy sampler, 329 et seq.

Fleetwood, Anne, 330.

Fleetwood, Miles, 330.

Floor, of earth, 75;
puncheon, 75.

Flower de luce, playthings of, 382-383.

Food. See Diet.

Food for the Mind, 275.

Foot-ball, 354 et seq.

Ford, P. L., cited, 128.

Four-o'clock, wreaths of, 394.

Foxes, hunting of, 316.

Foxgloves, as playthings, 389, 397.

Franklin, Benjamin, family of, 11-12;
proverbs of, 136;
early reading of, 255;
practical jest of, 290-291.

Franklin, Conn., teachers' pay in, 98.

Fredericksburg, Va., school in, 66.

Froissart, Jean, quoted, 342-343.

Fruit, eating of, 26;
native, 30.

Funeral, of servant, 205-206;
children at, 242.

Funeral pieces, 325.

Furnivall, Dr., cited, 186.

Games, antiquity of, 349;
exact recurrence of, 360.

Gardeners' garters, 390.

Geographical Catechism, 148.

[410]Geography, study of, 147 et seq.

Germans, indifference to education, 71.

Gershom, the name, 14.

Gibbs, Robert, portrait of, 43-44.

Gibraltars, Salem, 32.

Gingerbread, hornbooks of, 124.

Girls, schools for, 90 et seq.;
in England, 91;
school-hours for, 95;
price of schooling for, 96;
education in New York, 94, 95;
education in Providence, R. I., 95;
education in Salem, Mass., 95;
discipline of, in England, 192 et seq.

Glass-painting, 322.

Go-cart, 23-24.

Goldsmith, Oliver, quoted, 72;
children's books by, 267, 270, 273, 287;
love of catches, 287.

Good Child's Little Hymn Book, 257.

Goodrich, S. G. See Peter Parley.

Goody Two Shoes, authorship of, 270;
title-page of, 270-271;
chapter from, 271-272;
Charles Lamb on, 298.

Goosequill pens, 154.

Gore family, portrait, 50.

Gordon, G. L., hornbook of, 119.

Grafton, Mary, letter of, 111, 115.

Grafton, Seeth, 15.

Grammar, study of, 133 et seq.

Grammar of the English Tongue, 135.

Grammarian's Funeral, 134.

Grammar School, 221-222.

Grant, Anne, quoted, 94.

Grasshoppers, rhyme to, 399.

Green, family of, 11.

Green, cited, 228.

Greene, Nathanael, daughter of, 107.

Grey, Lady Jane, punishment of, 193.

Gridley, Richard, children's names, 17.

Groaning-beer, 18.

Groaning-cakes, 17.

"Grown-ups," 50.

Grymes family, portrait, 50.

Guessbooks, 275.

Gulliver's Travels, 265.

Hair, dressing of, 59.

Hall, Richard, his schooling, 86 et seq.;
letters of, 87.

Hall, Sarah, her schooling, 101-103;
marriage, 103-104.

Hall, Hugh, letters of, 86, 102.

Halliwell, cited, 143.

Hammond, John, quoted, 11.

Handwriting. See Penmanship.

Hancock, John, teacher of, 152;
handwriting of, 152.

Hands of Great Britain, 153.

Hannah, the name, 16.

Harpsichords, 112-113.

Hartford. Mass., servants in, 205.

Harvard College, establishment of, 64;
library of, 180;
bequest to, 152;
curriculum of, 185;
etiquette at, 222.

Hatfield, Mass., school at, 96.

Hawkins, Francis, precocity of, 219.

Head-dress, 59.

Health-drinking, 217, 293.

Heartsease, playthings of, 398.

Heddle-frame, 305.

Hedge-teachers, 65.

Hell, familiarity with, 175.

Henry, Patrick, saying of, 67;
pronunciation of, 67.

Heraldry, domination of, 212.

Herbs, in medicine, 6-8.

Hieroglyphick Bible, 258.

Higginson, Hetty, school of, 199.

History of the Holy Jesus, 260, 261.

History of the Revolution, 290.

History of Tommy Careless, 281.

Hoar, Bridget, 84.

Hoar, Mary, letter of, 83-84.

Hobby, teacher of Washington, 65.

Holbrook, Abiah, funeral notice of, 152;
accomplishments of, 152-153.

Hollyhocks, cheeses from, 386;
dolls of, 384.

Holmes, Oliver Wendell, quoted, 25, 107, 108, 109, 243-244, 303, 394.

Holmes, Thomas, quoted, 71.

Holy Innocents' Day, 261.

[411]Homespun, infant's dress of, 37.

Honey, 387.

"Honey flowers of New Testament," 204.

Honeypots, 345-346.

Honeysuckle, 387.

Hop-scotch, 343-344.

Hornbook, description, 118;
in America, 119-120, 122;
rarity of, 121;
price of, 121;
gilt, 122;
of silver, 122;
of ivory, 122;
names for, 124;
of gingerbread, 124;
symbolism of, 125.

Horsechestnuts, as playthings, 391.

Hoverer, 318.

Howell, James, quoted, 155.

Hunt, Nicholas, 143.

Hunters, tales of, 311, 312.

Huntington, Miss, dress of, 60.

Hylles, Thomas, 142.

Illustration, of children's books, 285 et seq.

Indians, cradles of, 21;
names of foods, 29-30;
hunting methods of, 316 et seq.;
foot-ball of, 357-358.

Ink, home-made, 154-155;
from flowers, 398.

Ink-powder, 154.

Irving, Washington, quoted, 270, 287.

Italian Relation of England, 82.

Jack, signification of word, 369.

Jack-in-pulpit, 388.

Jack-knife, power of, 254;
use of, 308;
derivation of, 370;
of old times, 370.

Jack-o'-lanterns, 396.

Jackstones, 375.

Jack the Giant Killer, 267.

Janeway, James, books of, 249, 251.

Jest-books, 275.

Jewel weed, as playthings, 397.

"Job's Trouble," 389.

Joe Miller's Guess-Book, 275.

Johnson, Samuel, school-life of, 193-194;
on discipline, 194;
manners of, 215.

Johnson, Governor, infant's dress of, 35.

Joseph, the name, 15.

Josselyn, John, quoted, 397.

Juvenile Pastimes, 346.

Keats, quoted, 387, 402.

Keeler, Sarah, sum-book of, 139.

Kingsley, Charles, quoted, 311.

Knitting, 339.

Knotwork, described, 152.

Lace, pillow, 339;
darned, 341.

Lady-bug, rhyme to, 399.

Ladies' delights, folk names of, 383.

Lamb, Charles, quoted, on children's books, 298 et seq.

Lancasterian System, punishments of, 200-201.

Land, allotment of, 13.

Larkspur, wreaths of, 393-394.

Latin, study of, 133 et seq.; 184 et seq.

Laurens, Henry, letter of, 78.

Laurens, Martha, precocity of, 183.

Leather, worn by children, 77.

Lester, Master, 202.

Letter, defined in rhyme, 136.

Letter dice, 182.

Letters, sentiment of, 155 et seq.;
of Puritan women, 156;
mode of addressing, 156, 157;
formality of, 161.

Letter-writing, taught by Samuel Dock, 205.

Lewis, John, wards of, 55.

Lilacs, wreaths of, 394.

Lilly's Grammar, 133.

Limning, materials for, 54;
teaching of, 54-55.

Lincoln, Abraham, sum-book of, 138;
early reading of, 255.

Linen, for clothing, 34.

Little Book for Little Children, 254.

Little Prattle over a Book of Prints, 23.

Live-forever, as playthings, 388;
folk names of, 389;
ink from, 399.

[412]Livingstone, John, wife of, 47.

Livingstone, John L., wife of, 46.

Livingstone, William, skates of, 372.

Lloyd, Joseph, school-feast of, 77.

Locke, popularity of, 24;
on children's books, 264;
good sense of, 25;
advanced thought of, 25-26;
on bathing, 25;
on diet, 26;
quoted, 117, 133;
on learning letters, 182.

London, letter to Bishop of, 66.

Looking Glass for Children, 251 et seq.

Looking Glass for the Mind, 292 et seq.

Lord, Mary, portrait, 52-53.

Lotteries, to support schools, 68.

Lovell, Master, 197.

Lybbet, 196.

Lynde, Dorothy, sampler of, 333.

Lytill Children's Lytill Boke, 215.

Madison, Dolly, 57.

Maine, ink made in, 154.

Majority, age of, 190.

Mallow cheeses, 387.

Maple, bark used for ink, 155;
sugar from, 311.

Maps, lack of, 78.

Mara, the name, 14.

Marbles, 374-375.

Marie Antoinette, child's dress, 62.

Marriages of children, 186 et seq.

Martin, G. W., quoted, 122.

Marvel-of-Peru, wreaths of, 394.

Masks, 56;
of linen, 57.

Massachusetts, school laws of, 64, 67-68, 70;
ink made in, 154;
schools in, 64, 68.

Mather, Cotton, quoted, 12, 67, 131, 134, 172, 223, 225, 236;
family of, 12;
character of, 209, 233-234;
book by, 250.

Mather, Increase, as school committee, 67;
quoted, 109.

Mather, Nathaniel, 239, 254.

Mather, Samuel, quoted, 234.

Mather, Samuel, Sr., 239-240.

Mather Papers, 156.

May apples, as playthings, 397.

McMaster, Mr., cited, 78.

Medford, Mass., boarding-school at, 114.

Medicine, astrology in, 6;
sympathetical, 6;
secret, 6;
ingredients of, 7;
revolt against, 10-11.

Meigs, Return Jonathan, 17.

Memoirs of an American Lady, 94.

Mertensia, playthings of, 384.

Merry Tales of the Wise Men of Gotham, 266, 267, 275.

Meteorology, 6.

Microcosmographië, 112.

Middletown, Conn., school at, 96.

Midway Church, Dorchester, Ga., 165-166.

Milkweed, playthings of, 392.

Ministers, families of, 12;
as school committee, 67;
as teachers, 83.

Mintsticks, name of rods, 204.

Minturn, Anne R., hornbook of, 119.

Mirror of Compliments, 221.

Miss, the term, 223.

Mission, quoted, 17; 354.

Mithridate, 7.

Mittens, of Gov. Bradford, 35;
of lace, 36;
of nankeen, 36.

"Money in both Pockets," 397.

Monitorial system, 97.

Monkshood, playthings of, 398.

Morning-glory, 389.

Morse's Geography, 147 et seq.

Mother, sayings of a, 64.

Mother Goose's Melodies, 174, 286 et seq.

Mountfort, Jonathan, portrait of, 49;
romantic marriage of, 49.

Mourning pieces, 325.

Mulberries, planting of, 310;
leaves of, 311.

"Multiplication is vexation," 143.

Murder, of servant, 205.

Music, love of, 112;
simplicity of, 112;
in colleges, 211.

My Mother, imitations of, 298.

[413]Names, curious, 14-17;
biblical, 15;
double, 17.

Nankeen, 60.

Narratives of Conversion, 251.

Necklace, anodyne, 9;
of berries, 10;
of fawn's teeth, 10;
of wolf fangs, 11.

Necromancy, 5-6.

Negro servant, funeral of, 205.

Nero, medicine of, 7.

New Academy of Compliments, 221.

New Amsterdam, first teacher in, 74;
schools in, 74-75;
discipline in, 201-202.

Newbery, John, life of, 266;
publications of, 267, 287;
advertising of, 268-269.

New England, schools in, 64;
traits of children, 67;
controlled by ministers, 67;
perambulating the bounds in, 314.

New England Primer, vast number of, 128;
nickname of, 128;
description of, 128 et seq.

New Hampshire, school-feast in, 77.

New Jersey, school in, 77.

New Lottery Book, 274-275.

News, lack of, 213-214.

Newspapers, in school, 97.

New York, schools of, 74 et seq.;
education of girls in, 94-95.

Nicknames, 199.

"Nigger heads," 382.

North, Francis, Baron Guildford, letter about, 41-42;
on commonplacing, 172-173.

Northfield, Mass., school in, 98.

Norton, J. W., hornbook of, 119.

Note-taking, of Puritan women, 164.

Nott, Eliphalet, cited, 197.

Nurse Truelove's Christmas Box, 277-278.

Nurse Truelove's New Years Gift, advertisement of, 268;
title-page of, 276.

Nut-gathering, 309.

Oglethorpe, ship-stores of, 28.

Old-field school, 65.

Onion-tying, 309.

Oracles, flower, 380-381.

Oranges, 32.

Ordination balls, 110.

Orne, R. T., petticoat of, 335.

Orpine. See Live-forever.

Osprey bone, 10.

Ox-eye daisy, 380, 382.

Pages and Pictures from Forgotten Children's Books, 386.

Pall bearers, boys, 242;
girls, 243.

Pansies, children's notions about, 383.

Paper, oiled, for windows, 76;
scarcity of, 79;
flowered, 301.

Parables, books of, 258;
definition of, 230.

Parable against Persecution, 291.

Parent's Assistant, 295.

Parkman, Dr., diary of, 164.

Parley, Peter, books of, 303-304.

Passing of the Stall-Fed Ox and the Farmer's Boy, 308.

Paston, Agnes, quoted, 192.

Paston Letters, cited, 83.

Patillo, Henry, 148.

Patriotism, teaching of, 171;
juvenile marks of, 172.

Payne, Dolly, dress of, 57.

Peaked block, 197.

Pedlers, of birch rods, 196.

Peleg, the name, 15.

Pemberton, Samuel, portrait of, 51.

Pencils, use of, 78.

Penmanship, how taught, 150;
of adult colonists, 150, 151;
of school children, 151;
of Abigail Earle, 151;
of Anna Green Winslow, 151;
of Governor Bradford, 151;
of John Winthrop, 150;
of Anna Reynolds, 152.

Pennoyer, Frances, quoted, 207.

Pennsylvania, schools in, 71-72; schoolhouses in, 75;
[414]barring out, 77;
teachers in, 204.

Pennsylvania Farmer, 72.

Pens, of olden times, 154.

Penwiper, not used, 153-154.

Peonies, playthings of, 398.

Pepperell children, portrait, 52.

Pepperell, Sir William, order of, 57.

Pepys, Samuel, on bathing, 27;
friend of Cocker, 142;
cited, 206, 313.

Perambulating the bounds. See Bounds.

Perry, Reverend Joseph, medicine of, 7-8.

Petticoats, embroidered, 335.

Philadelphia, schools of, 71.

Phips, Sir William, family of, 11.

Phlox, wreaths of, 394.

Pierpont, John, quoted, 390.

Pigeons, shooting of, 317 et seq.

Pike, Nicholas, arithmetic of, 144-145.

Pilgrim's Progress, 254-255, 265, 312.

Pillory, 200.

Pin-a-sights, 400.

Pinckney, Charles C., education of, 180-183.

Pinckney, Eliza L., quoted, 180-183.

Pincushion, gift of, 18-19.

Pine-needles, playthings of, 394.

Pious Motions and Devout Exercises, etc., 251.

Pitch and hustle, 347.

Pitkin, Jerusha, embroidery of, 324-325.

Pitman, John, precocity of, 185-186.

Plaine Mans Pathway to Heaven, 248, 249.

Plays, in schools, 115 et seq.

Plum trees, gum from, 387.

Plummets, use of, 79;
manufacture of, 79.

Points, 313.

Poison, 345.

Pokeberries, dye from, 398.

Poor Robin's Almanack, 18, 21.

Pope, quoted, 148.

Pops, 389.

Poppies, playthings of, 384, 386.

"Poppy-show," 400.

Porter, Dr., cited, 247.

Portulaca, as playthings, 388.

Post, Cathalina, 47.

Potash saved for treat, 77.

Potation-penny, 77.

Prating, 317.

Prayer, "Now I lay me," etc., 130.

Present, in address, 157.

Pretty Little Pocket Book, 346, 354, 374.

Primer, defined, 128.

Primroses, children's interest in, 402.

Prince Library, 156.

Prior, quoted, 124.

Processioning. See Bounds.

Proctor, Master, 153.

Prodigal Daughter, 256.

Profanity, punished, 203.

Prophecy of a child, 2-3.

Prosperity of settlers, 3.

Providence, R. I., education of girls in, 95-96.

Provisions on shipboard, 28.

Pumpkins, seeds, 386;
trombones of, 390;
lettering of, 396;
lanterns of, 396.

Puncheon floors, 75.

Punishments of scholars. See Discipline and Schools.

Puppets. See Dolls.

Quakers, schools of, 71.

Quills. See Goosequills.

Quilts, 21;
piecing of, 339.

Quincy, Dorothy, 107-108.

Quincy, Elizabeth, 108-109.

Quincy, Elizabeth Morton, 115-116, 202.

Quincy, John, portrait of, 40-43.

Quincy, Josiah, rearing of, 25-26;
school life of, 83, 134.

Rabelais, on abridgments, 300.

[415]Raisins of the sun, 32.

Raritan, N. J., schoolhouse at, 76.

Rattlesnakes, bounties on, 316.

Ravenel, Daniel, portrait, 48.

Rawhide, 204.

Rawson, Susannah, 113.

Rawson, William, family of, 12.

Reading-boards, 126.

Reading-made-easies, 136.

Record's Arithmetic, 140.

Redemptioners, as teachers, 72.

Reformed Virginian Silk Worm, 310.

Religio Medici, 176.

Ribbon-grass, 390.

Richards, Mary, sampler of, 338.

Rickets, new disease, 7;
treatment of, 7-8.

Riddles, in commonplace book, 174;
old-time esteem of, 275.

Riding for the goose, 352.

Rhyme, grammar in, 135-136;
arithmetic in, 141, 142.

Robinson Crusoe, 265.

Rock, for spinning, 305.

Rock candy, 32.

Roelantsen, Adam, 74.

Rogers, Ezekiel, quoted, 235.

Rogers, John, burning of, 130.

Roll, for hair, 59.

Ropes, Seeth, 15.

Rose-hips, as playthings, 386, 397, 400.

Rosy-cakes, 401.

Rubila, 7.

Ruskin, quoted, 342.

Sailors, interest in, 319 et seq.

Salem, laws in, 68;
curious custom in, 69;
schools in, 68;
punishments in, 199;
seating boys in, 246.

Salem Gibraltars, 32.

Saltonstall, Elizabeth, letter of, 100-101.

Sampler, derivation of, 327;
description, 328;
verses of, 328 et seq.;
age of, 329.

Sanford and Merton, 295, 297.

Sanitation, unknown, 4-5.

Sarah, the name, 16.

Sargent, L. M., quoted, 242.

Satten, 397.

Schole of Vertue, 215, 222, 352.

Schools, grammar, old-field, 65;
attended by Washington, 65-66;
free, 65;
fires in, 69-70;
furniture of, 78 et seq.;
for boarders, 113 et seq.;
treats in, 77;
fare in, 83;
mode of study in, 134.

School feasts, 77.

School fields, 68.

Schoolhouse, building of, 75;
descriptions of, 75, 76;
furnishings of, 75-76;
discomforts of, 76;
windows of, 76;
in Raritan, 77.

School-meadows, 68.

School-teachers, character of, 72;
Scotch, 73;
contract with, 74-75;
Dutch, 73-74;
women, 97;
pay of, 68, 96-97, 103;
English, 192;
cruelty of, 204.

School-treats, 77.

School wood, 69-70.

School of Manners, 219, 222.

Scotch-hoppers. See Hop-scotch.

Scottow, Joshua, quoted, 2;
his daughter, 86.

Scribbling in books, 161 et seq.

Seaborn, the name, 15.

Seating the meeting, 223, 247.

Seats in school, 75.

Seeth, the name, 15.

Servants, discipline of, 204 et seq.

Sewall, Elizabeth, 237, 238.

Sewall, Joseph, hornbook of, 122;
original sin of, 208.

Sewall, Rebeka, 223.

Sewall, Samuel, quoted, 4, 15, 16, 32, 44, 122, 208, 237, 238, 351;
diary of, 164, 205;
tenderness of, 208;
servant of, 205;
at funerals, 242.

Shakespeare, first sold in Boston, 180;
songs from, 287.

Shepherd, Thomas, funeral of, 242.

[416]Sheriff, standing of, 283.

Sherman, John, family of, 12.

Shippack, Pa., school at, 202 et seq.

Shirts, of infants, 34-35.

Shoes, 57-58.

Shoe-pegs, 359.

Shorter Catechism, 130-131.

Shovel board, 351.

Silk culture, 310-311.

Silsbee, Mrs., cited, 225.

Sir Charles Grandison, 300.

Skating, 371 et seq.

Slander, law-suits for, 213.

Slates, use of, 80, 81.

Sleeves, virago, 43;
hanging, 43-44.

Slide-groat, 351.

Small-pox, 4.

Smibert, portraits by, 37, 48, 107.

Smith, John, quoted, 319.

Smith, William, cited, 94-95.

Snails, rhyme to, 399.

Snail-water, 6.

Snake-grass, 396.

Snuff-taking, by children, 77.

Spelling, variety of, 136;
of Paradise Lost, 137;
teaching of, 137.

Spelling-books, 136 et seq.

Spending-money, 308 et seq.

Spinets, 112.

Spiderwort, ink from, 398.

Spinning, for children, 305 et seq.

Spiritual Milk for Babes, 130.

Sports of the Innyards, 351.

Squawks, 390.

Squirrels, bounties on, 316.

Stalking head, 316.

Standing-stool, 23.

Standish, Lora, sampler of, 328.

Stays, 56-57, 58;
of tin, 58;
for boys, 58.

Stitches, old time, 337-338.

Stool-ball, 354.

Storer, Elizabeth, 107.

Stuart, Gilbert, 37.

Stubbes, Phillip, quoted, 356.

Suckets, 31.

Sum-books, 138 et seq.

Sumner, Mary Osgood, 166 et seq.;
monitor of, 167 et seq.

Sumptuary laws, 45.

Sunday, observance of, 243 et seq.

Sunday-school books, 304.

Sunflower seeds, 386.

Superstition, 240-241.

Sweetmeats, 30.

Swimming, prohibited, 244.

Syllabarium, 128.

Tag, various games of, 344 et seq.

Tambour-work, 341.

Tape-weaving, 305.

Tattling stick, 197.

Taws, 204.

Taylor, Ann, 298.

Taylor, Bayard, quoted, 72.

Taylor, John, quoted, 337-338.

Teachers. See School-teachers.

Teething, death by, 10.

Ten Broeck, John, letter of, 80-81.

Ten Broeck, Katherine, portrait of, 47.

Thayer, Mrs. Sarah, family of, 13.

Thimble, first, 338.

Thimell-pie, 198.

"Thirty days hath September," etc., 143.

Thistles, playthings of, 392.

Thomas, Gabriel, quoted, 11.

Thomas, Isaiah, books printed by, 219, 220, 221, 269, 273, 275, 287, 300;
character of, 269.

Thornton, Alice, her bathing, 28.

Thoughts Concerning Education, 117.

Thumb Bible, 258.

Tick-tack, 350.

Tileston, Johnny, 153-154.

school-houses, duties of, 244-245.

Title-page lore, 161 et seq.

Todd, John, discipline of, 204.

Token for Children, etc., 249.

Tommy Trip's History of Beasts and Birds, 273.

[417]Tom Thumb's Play Book, 270

Tops, 343.

Torrey Papers, 156.

Toss-about, 284, 290.

Town, S., on slates, 80.

Townes cradle, 21.

Toys, home-made, 367, 371;
of tin, 367;
Chinese, 368;
ancient, 371.

Tree of life, embroidered, 326.

Trock, 350.

Trombones, of leaf-stalks, 390.

Trouncing, 197.

True Relation of the Flourishing State of Philadelphia, 71.

Trumbull, portraits by, 37, 53.

Tryon, Governor, child of, 57.

Tuer, Andrew W., 125, 385.

Tunkers' aversion to education, 72.

Turell, Jane. See Jane Colemen.

Turkeys, trapping of, 317.

Tutor's Guide, 143.

Twitch-up, 318.

Tylor, cited, 385.

Unipod, 199.

Vails, 18.

Valentines, of flowers, 393.

Van Cortlandt family names, 46.

Van Cortlandt, Mrs., quoted, 338-339.

Venice treacle, 7.

Vermin-hunting, 316.

Vermont, ink made in, 154.

Verney, Sir Ralph, on girls' education, 91.

Verney, memoirs, cited, 28, 83.

Verstile, Wm., portrait of, 53;
letter about, 53-54;
instruction of, 54-55.

Vice in its proper shape, 302.

Village School, 226.

Vinegar, as disinfectant, 4.

Violets, fighting, 382.

Vipers, in medicine, 7.

Virginals, 112.

Virginia, schools in, 64, 65, 66;
plantations scattered, 66;
girls' education in, 95;
religious observance in, 232-233;
processioning in, 314.

Virtues, as names, 16.

Vogelweide, W. von der, quoted, 381.

Wadsworth, portrait, 53.

Washington, George, purchase order of, 56;
schooling of, 65-66;
manuscript books of, 66;
designs relating to, 325-326.

Water, cold, bathing in, 26-28;
ancient aversion to, 28, 102.

Watts, Dr., hymns of, 260.

Waxwork, 336.

Weaving, by children, 306.

Webster, Noah, Jr., quoted, 80;
books of, 136, 144.

Weld, Reverend Abijah, family of, 12;
thrift of, 12.

Welsh, Charles, book of, 266;
quoted, 273.

Wendell, Elizabeth. See Elizabeth Quincy.

Wentworth, John, 103.

Wentworth, William, 104.

Wesley, Samuel, quoted, 258.

West Hartford, Conn., schools in, 70.

Whispering sticks, 198.

Whistles, of willow, 390;
of grass, 390.

White Bible, 162.

White, Peregrine, cradle of, 20.

White, Thomas, quoted, 248-249;
book of, 254.

White House Doll, 367.

White-weed. See Daisy.

Who Killed Cock Robin, quoted, 291-292.

Wicker cradle, 20-21.

Wig-wearing of children, 51.

Wigglesworth, Michael, 252.

Willard, Samuel, family of, 12.

William and Amelia, 293.

Williams, Ephraim, quoted on writing, 158-159.

Windows, of greased paper, 76.

[418]Windsor, Conn., schools in, 69;
boys' pews in, 247.

Wine-drinking, of children, 102.

Wingate's Arithmetic, 145.

Winslow, Edward, portraits of, 38 et seq.

Winslow, Anna Green, handwriting of, quoted, 17, 19, 58, 59, 307;
dress of, 58-59;
letter to, 99;
diary of, 164, 165;
books of, 301.

Winslow family, arithmetic of, 145.

Winthrop, John, history of, 2, 164;
medicine of, 7;
quoted, 90;
handwriting of, 150;
early marriage of, 190.

Winthrop, Waitstill, 122.

Witchcraft, 241 et seq.

Woburn, school in, 97.

Wolcott, J., letter of, 84-85.

Wolves, hunting of, 315.

Wood, for school fires, 69-70;
farm-work on, 308.

Woodbridge, Wm., 96.

Worde, Wynkyn de, 193.

Wordsworth, quoted, 163.

Worthy Tenant, 294.

Writing. See Penmanship.

Writing-masters, esteem for, 150, 152;
in Boston, 153;
funeral notice of, 152.

Writing-paper, 156.

Wynter, John, quoted, 206.

Yoking as punishment, 198, 203.

Young Lady's Accidence, 96, 135.

Youth's Behaviour, 27-28, 219.

Youth's Instructor in English Tongue, 159.

Zurishaddai, the name, 16.

Home Life in Colonial Days


Cloth. 12mo. $2.50

Boston Herald:

"A good many books have been written about the lives and customs of our ancestors of colonial times, and especially about the differences between their lives and ours and the primitive and picturesque utensils which they employed in their households. These have been partly the outcome and partly the prompting agency of the rage for antiques. Various writers have unearthed a large amount of curious lore, which is not all of equal value, though almost every hint that has come through their pages goes to recreate the atmosphere and reveal the conditions pertaining to the earliest pioneers in North America. Mrs. Alice Morse Earle has done a great deal of good work in this field. Probably it is quite within bounds to say that she possesses a larger fund of vivacious and interesting knowledge about the lives and the works, the occupations and makeshifts, the industries and enjoyments, of the Puritans and the other early colonists than any other student in this rich domain."

Philadelphia Evening Telegraph:

"Mrs. Earle, as many readers have discovered, is one of the most painstaking and agreeable of antiquarians. The present book is one of her best."

Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester:

"Touches a most fascinating phase of American history.... The story, which has been patiently gathered from many sources and historical records, is told in a graphic and charming manner, and is pictured by nearly 200 illustrations ... certainly a contribution to our history of very high value."

The Herald, Boston:

"Full of new information and description of surprisingly fresh interest ... no other single volume with which we happen to be acquainted constructs with such completeness, fairness, and suggestiveness, the atmosphere of colonial homes."

Buffalo Commercial:

"One of the handsomest books that we have received."


Each Crown 8vo. Cloth, $1.50


Illustrated by R. F. Zogbaum and C. T. Chapman.

"Mr. Barnes knows how to tell a story as well as how to write history. His style is terse and full of movement; his book one that old and young may read with zest."—Detroit Free Press.


Author of "A Rebel's Recollections," etc., etc.
Illustrated by R. F. Zogbaum.

"Faithfully told stories, bearing every evidence of absolute truth.... One's pulses quicken as he becomes acquainted with the heroic deeds of those brave Americans, who were on the losing side, fighting an impossible cause; he sorrows with those who felt the tragedy of it all. It is a volume which every boy or girl, as well as every man and woman in America, may read with profitable interest."—The St. Louis Globe Democrat.

"Such capital reading that no one can fail to enjoy them."—New Orleans Picayune.


Author of "Young Folks' History of the United States," "Malbone," "Cheerful Yesterdays," etc.
Illustrated by Albert Herter.

Legends with which the people of Europe were for many centuries fed in regard to the countries beyond the seas now known as America. "No national history has been less prosaic in its earlier traditions," says Colonel Higginson, who relates in a manner which shows strong sympathy and learned research, these wonderful stories which for a thousand years were told of a mysterious island in the Atlantic.


Author of "Rudder Grange," etc., etc.
Illustrated by G. Varian and B. W. Clinedinst.

Stories of the rise and decline of buccaneering and piracy in our West Indian waters. Spanish exactions grew so monstrous in the seventeenth century that English, French, and Dutch combined against their excesses. The buccaneers who were the result of the combination became later pirates for private gain. Mr. Stockton's quaint humor brightens the stories of their dark deeds in characteristic style. The book is unique.

A Tale of the Cherokees and the Pioneers of Tennessee, 1760

Author of "Where the Battle Was Fought," etc., "The Prophet of the Great Smoky Mountain."
Illustrated by E. C. Peixotto.

A narrative of the life of the pioneers of Tennessee and their fortunes at the hands of the Cherokees in the uprising of 1760. The brilliant Tennessee landscape and the old frontier fort serve as a background to this picture of Indian craft and guile and pioneer hardships and pleasures.


Adown a shallow stream we sent our leafy boats with swelling sail, and floating pennant of striped grass. Freighted with flowers beloved of children, the laughing pansies,—for thoughts,—we thrust them heedlessly forth with never a care whether boat or crew e'er reached a harbor.

Out into the world on the stream of the fast-hurrying century I send this paper boat—my book—laden with thoughts of children's lives. Grown careful with years, I crave for it a safe journey and sheltered harbor. Perhaps the craft may bear to some reader a memory of his own childhood, as well as stories of the children of an ancient day; a day so gray and sad as seen through the haze of centuries that the only cheerful light is found in the faces of the children.


Transcriber's note:

Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note. Irregularities and inconsistencies in the text have been retained as printed.

Missing page numbers are page numbers that were not shown in the original text.

The illustrations have been moved so that they do not break up paragraphs, thus the page number of the illustration might not match the page number in the List of Illustrations.

Mismatched quotes are not fixed if it's not sufficiently clear where the missing quote should be placed.

The transcriber has changed hyphenation in the index to match the book in the following cases:

cornstalk to corn-stalk

lawsuit to law-suits

playhouses to play-houses

tithingman to tithing-man