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must doubtless be exceedingly fatigued with the long walk we have taken, and the tempest we have sustained-I hold it meet we shut up the book, smoke a pipe, and having thus refreshed our spirits, take a fair start in a new chapter.
FAITHFULLY DESCRIBING THE INGENIOUS PEOPLE OF CONNEO
TICUT AND THEREABOUTS-SHOWING, MOREOVER, THE TRUE MEANING OF LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE, AND A CURIOUS DEVICE AMONG THESE STURDY BARBARIANS, TO KEEP UP A HARMONY OF INTERCOURSE, AND PROMOTE POPULATION.
may the more fully comprehend the extent of the calamity, at this very moment impending over the honest, unsuspecting province of Nieuw-Nederlandts, and its dubious governor, it is necessary that I should give some account of a horde of strange barbarians, bordering upon the eastern frontier.
Now so it came to pass, that many years previous to the time of which we are treating, the sage cabinet of England had adopted a certain national creed, a kind of public walk of faith, or rather a religious turnpike, in which every loyal subject was directed to travel to Zion-taking care to pay the toll-gatherers by the way:
Albeit a certain shrewd race of men, being very much given to indulge their own opinions on all manner of subjects (a propensity exceedingly offensive to your free governments of Europe), did most presumptuously dare to think for themselves in matters of religion, exercising what they considered a natural and unextinguishable right—the liberty of conscience.
As, however, they possessed that ingenuous habit of mind
which always thinks aloud ; which rides cock-a-hoop on the tongue, and is for ever galloping into other people's ears, it naturally followed that their liberty of conscience likewise implied liberty of speech, which being freely indulged, soon put ihe country in a hubbub, and aroused the pious indignation of the vigilant fathers of the church.
The usual methods were adopted to reclaim them, wlich in those days were considered efficacious in bringing back stray sheep to the fold; that is to say, they were coaxed, they were admonished, they were menaced, they were buffeted— line upon line, precept upon precept, lash upon lash, here a little and there a great deal, were exhausted without mercy, and without success; until the worthy pastors of the church, wearied out by their unparalleled stubbornness, were driven in the excess of their tender mercy, to adopt the Scripture text, and literally to “heap live embers on their heads."
Nothing, however, could subdue that independence of the tongue which has ever distinguished this singular race, so that, rather than subject that heroic member to further tyranny, they one and all embarked for the wilderness of America, to enjoy, unmolested, the inestimable right of talking. And, in fact, no sooner did they land upon the shore of this free-spoken country, than they all lifted up their voices, and made such a clamor of tongues, that we are told they frightened every bird and beast out of the neighborhood, and struck such mute terror into certain fish, that they have been called dumb-fish ever since.
This may appear marvelous, but it is nevertheless true, in proof of which I would observe, that the dumb-fish has ever since become an object of superstitious reverence, and forms the Sat urday's dinner of every true Yankee.
The simple aborigines of the land for a while contemplated these strange folk in utter astonishment, but discovering that they wielded harmless, though noisy weapons, and were a lively, ingenious, good-humored race of men, they became very friendly and sociable, and gave them the name of Yanokies, which in the MaisTehusaeg (or Massachusett) language signifies silent men—a wag. gish appellation, since shortened into the familiar epithet of YANKEES, which they retain unto the present day.
True it is, and my fidelity as a historian will not allow me to pass over the fact, that having served a regular apprenticeship in the school of persecution, these ingenious people soon showed that they had become masters of the art. The great majority were of one particular mode of thinking in matters of religion ; but to their great surprise and indignation, they found that divers papists, quakers and anabaptists were springing up among them, and all claiming to use the liberty of speech. This was at once pronounced a daring abuse of the liberty of conscience; which they now insisted was nothing more than the liberty to think as one pleased in matters of religion-provided one thought right; for otherwise it would be giving a latitude to damnable heresies. Now as they, the majority, were convinced that they alone thought right, it consequently followed, that whoever thought different from them thought wrong—and whoever thought wrong, and obstinately persisted in not being convinced and converted, was a flagrant violator of the inestimable liberty of conscience, and a corrupt and infectious member of the body politic, and deserved to be lopped off and cast into the fire. The consequence of all which was a fiery persecution of divers sects, and especially of quakers.
Now I'll warrant there are hosts of my readers, ready at once to lift up their hands and eyes, with that virtuous indignation with
which we contemplate the faults and errors of our neighbors, and to exclaim at the preposterous idea of convincing the mind by tormenting the body, and establishing the doctrine of charity and forbearance by intolerant persecution. But in simple truth, what are we doing at this very day, and in this very enlightened nation, but acting upon the very same principle in our political controversies? Have we not within but a few years released ourselves from the shackles of a government which cruelly denied us the privilege of governing ourselves, and using in full latitude that invaluable member, the tongue ? and are we not at this very mcm ment striving our best to tyrannize over the opinions, tie up the tongues, and ruin the fortunes of one anothér ? What are our great political societies, but mere political inquisitions—our pot house committees but little tribunals of denunciation—our news. papers but mere whipping-posts and pillories, where unfortunate individuals are pelted with rotten eggs—and our council of appointment, but a grand auto da fe, where culprits are annually sacrificed for their political heresies ?
Where then is the difference in principle between our measure:3 and those you are so ready to condemn among the people I a treating of? There is none; the difference is merely circumstantial.—Thus we denounce, instead of banishing—we libel, instead of scourging—we turn out of office, instead of hangingand where they burnt an offender in proper person, we either tar and feather or burn him in effiyy—this political persecution being, somehow or other, the grand palladium of our liberties, and an incontrovertible proof that this is a free country!
But notwithstanding the fervent zeal with which this holy war was prosecuted against the whole race of unbelievers, we do not find that the population of this new colony was in anywise hin.