Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

christian religion necessary to salvation ; and to give an answer to such plain and ordinary questions as may by the said deputies, officer, or officers, be propounded concerning the same. And where such deputies or officers, whether by information or examination, shall find any parent or master one or more negligent, he or they shall first have warning, and if thereupon due reformation follow, if the said parents or masters shall thenceforth seriously and constantly apply themselves to their duty in the manner before expressed, the former neglect may be passed by; but if not, then the said deputies, or other officer or officers, shall three months after such warning, present each such negligent person or persons, to the next plantation court, when every such delinquent upon proof, shall be fined ien shillings to the plantation, to be levied as other fines. And if in any plantation, there be no such court kept for the present, in such case the constable or other officer or officers, warning such person or persons before the freemen, or so many of them as upon notice shall meet together, and proving the neglect after warning shall have power to levy the fine as aforesaid: but if in three months after that, there be no due care taken and continued for the education of such children or apprentices as aforesaid, the delinquent, without any further private warning, shall be proceeded against as before, but the fine doubled. And lastly, if after the said warning, and fines paid or levied, the said deputies, officer or officers, shall still find a continuance of the former negligence, if it be not obstinacy, or that such children or servants may be in danger to grow barbarous, rude, and stubborn through ignorance, they shall give due and seasonable notice, that every such parent and master be summoned to the next court of magistrates, who are to proceed as they find cause, either to a greater fine, taking security for due conformity to the scope and intent of this law, or may take such children or apprentices from such parents or mastars, and place them for years, boys till they come to the age of one and twenty, and girls till they come to the age of eighteen years, with such otliers, who shall better educate and govern them, both for public convenience, and for the particular good of the said children or apprentices."

Here it may be asked, where among the remains we have of the labors of the ancient lawgivers, shall we find any thing on the subject of education to be compared with this! Shall we look for it in the legislation of Lycurgus or Solon, among the laws of the twelve tables, so justly celebrated in Rome, or in times nearer our own, in the laws of England, under which these emigrants had lived ? In all these places we shall search in vain for a parallel, nor have the laws of England any provision for general education like this, to the present day. This law entitles those who enacted it, and executed it, for this law was not a dead letter, to the lasting respect and gratitude of posterity; and if every law, which has been reported as theirs, however ridiculous, was the genuine production of those legislators, the single law of " children's education," ought to be sufficient, not merely to secure their characters from disgrace, but to crown them with honor.

In 1654, Mr. Davenport brought forward a plan of a college “ for the education of youth in good literature, to fit them for public service in church and commonwealth.” To this institution the town of New-Haven made a donation of lands, and Gov. Hop

We will,

kins a donation in money. This college became a public grammar school, and is still continued. Yale-College is a different institution.

We might proceed to copy other laws from the early New-Haven code ; but the spirit of this early legislature and the objects which they aimed at, may be seen from the specimens already given, and we have not space for many more extracts. therefore, say generally, that their laws though strict, could not be oppressive to any one disposed to live a regular and honest life. For the support of religion, the law stood thus. Certain magistrates were to call on all the inhabitants, and desire every one " to set down the proportion he is willing and able to allow yearly, while God continues his estate, towards the maintenance of the ministry;" and if any one should refuse or delay, or set down an “unmeat proportion," the magistrates were authorized to assess every such person, according to his visible estate, with due moderation, and in equal proportion with his neighbors.". In the law of “marriage” is this clause; “no man unless he be a magistrate in this jurisdiction, or expressly allowed by the general court, shall marry any persons;" and in the law of “divorce,” we find this provision, that if any husband without just cause shall desert bis wife, or a wife her husband, “after due means have been used to convince and reclaim, the husband or wife so deserted may justly seek and expect help and relief, according to 1 Cor, vii. 15, and the court upon satisfactory evidence thereof, may not hold the innocent party under bondage.” These laws undoubtedly received the sanction of Mr. Davenport. There was a law against individuals purchasing lands of the Indians, without public authority, and generally regulating all transactions with them.

“Wine, strong water and strong beer” were not to be sold to any Indians, without “special licence” from a magistrate. Some of the laws in this code would now probably by many be thought quite too severe, and far behind the spirit of the present age. For instance, there is a law against "lying,” in which it is forbidden under heavy penalties “to abuse the people with false news, or reports.”

The constitution of the colonial government of New-Haven, was formed as above stated in the year 1639. Laws were subsequently made by the legislature, as the circumstances of the colony showed them to be necessary. In the year 1656 these laws, the constitution, or what was called the “fundamental agreement," with the articles of confederation between the plantations of Massachusetts Plymouth Connecticut and New-Haven prefixed, were collected for publication by Governor Eaton, and printed in London for the use of the colony. A copy of this work is now before us, of which we have made use in preparing the preceding statements. Hubbard, in his general history of New-England says in

reference to the New Haven colonists, " that they were vigorous in the execution of justice, and especially in the punishment of offenders, and that with great authority under the countenance of Mr. Eaton, having compiled by his help a body of very substantial and distinct laws." The same historian says, that the execution of law among the colonists of New-Haven, was “ without a jury, their main difference from their brethren, which was so settled upon some reasons urged by Mr. Eaton, a great reader and traveler, against that way." He adds, “for their church settlements, they were extraordinarily exact and thorough” and that in this respect, “New-Haven was exemplary to other plantations; in which their proceedings, if any differently persuaded shall judge they were over strict, yet the commendable care and zeal for the truth and power of religion, therein appearing, cannot but have a sweet savor to the present age, and to future generations." He says, however, that the people of New-Haven “were very much exercised and humbled by the outbreaking, by a strange kind of antiperistasis, at several times, of very gross iniquities." New-Haven suffered very little from the Indians, which Hubbard attributes to " a due carefulness in doing justice to them upon all occasions," a fact which should not be forgotten in forming our estimate of the character of this colony.

Though the laws of New-Haven were generally unexceptionable, yet as the community was small and in its infancy, it was not judged necessary, that these laws should be numerous, and in executing them, much was left to the discretion of the magistrates. That the decisions of these magistrates were for the most part just, we see no reason to doubt. That in applying "the general rules of righteousness,” they sometimes noticed mere transgressions of propriety and decorum, in a manner which would certainly now be injudicious, and which even then probably did no good, is fully admitted. But it should be recollected in extenuation, that the colony was in its infancy, and planted by those, who held in utter abomination the corruptions of the old world, and whose great object it was to preserve among themselves and their posterity, purity of religion and purity of morals

. From their very zeal, they were liable to error. The colonists also, at first, necessarily lived together, in some respects, as one family. Domestic and public concerns, therefore, were united to a greater extent, than the founders of this colony, would probably themselves have practised in a larger community. They faithfully recorded all their proceedings, however unimportant, and it is from what they have thus left us, that inferences often have been drawn respecting their laws, not warranted by the facts. Most of the decisions, which might be objected to, were made by magistrates acting under very general

was ad

powers. Improprieties greater or less, were considered misdemeanors, and animadverted upon accordingly,

There was the same course of proceedings in Massachusetts, as any one may see stated at large in the first volume of Hutchinson's History of the planting of that colony. Thus from the records of their criminal courts, it appears, that “ Captain Stone for abusing Mr. Ludlow and calling him justass, was fined one hundred pounds, etc."---that another individual who had been arraigned, monished to take heed of light carriage,”—and another "for extortion in taking two pounds thirteen shillings and four pence for the wood work of Boston stocks, was fined five pounds, and ordered to be set in the stocks one hour," etc. Hutchinson remarks, that “ their sentences seem to be adapted to the circumstances of a large family of children and servants.” It is from decisions in the New-Haven Colony of the same general character as the preceding, that inferences have been drawn as to the laws of that colony. The truth is, that nine-tenths of the New-Haven laws were copied froin the Massachusetts code; and the decisions in criminal cases in the two colonies were alike. In both, much was left to the discretion of the magistrates.

We could pursue this subject much more into detail, but perhaps we have already wandered too far. Our object in saying thus much on the early history of New-Haven, is to remind those whom it concerns, that the two hundredth anniversary of the commencement of this colony, will arrive in the year 1838. It was on the 18th of the month of April 1638, that John Davenport, preparatory to the establishment of a governnient by voluntary compact, under a wide spreading oak, in a spot now surrounded by a dense population, preached to a few fugitives from oppression, on " the temptations of the wilderness.”—This event at the proper time, should be duly commemorated. The colony as a distinct government, lasted but about twenty-five years, but its transactions deserve a more particular notice, than they have hitherto received. It is to be hoped, that some individual fully competent to the undertaking, will prepare, before the anniversary referred to, an account which shall exhibit the founders of New Haven as they were, men of great excellences of character, but still not wholly free from the weaknesses of humanity. Let the whole story be told, and the materials for this purpose are not few, and we have no apprehension, that the fathers of the New-Haven colony will suffer by such a disclosure. They will be found on the contrary, to have possessed great resolution and firmness, uncommon disinterestedness, sound discretion and much practical wisdom.

Art. IX.-REVIEW OF BUTLER'S ANALOGY OF NATURAL AND

REVEALED RELIGION.

The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution

and Course of Nature. By Joseph BUTLER, LL. D.

In directing the attention of our readers to the great work whose title we have placed at the head of this article, we suppose we are rendering an acceptable service chiefly to one class. The ministers of religion, we presume, need not our humble recommendation of a treatise so well known as Butler's Analogy. It will not be improper, however, to suggest that even our clerical readers may be less familiar than they should be, with a work which saps all the foundations of unbelief; and may, perhaps, have less faithfully carried out the principles of the Analogy, and interwoven them less into their theological system, than might reasonably bave been expected. Butler already begins to put on the venerable air of antiquity. He belongs, in the character of his writings at least, to the men of another age. He is abstruse, profound, dry, and to minds indisposed to thought, is often wearisome and disgusting. Even in clerical estination, then, his work may sometimes be numbered among those repulsive monuments of ancient wisdom, which men of this age pass by indiscriminately, as belonging to times of barbarous strength and unpolished warfare.

But our design in bringing Butler more distinctly before the public eye, has respect primarily to another class of our readers. In an age preeminently distinguished for the short lived productions of the imagination; when reviewers feel themselves bound to serve up to the public taste, rather the deserts and confectionaries of the literary world, than the sound and wholesome fare of other times; when in many places, it is even deemed stupid and oldfashioned to notice an ancient book, or to speak of the wisdom of our fathers; we desire to do what may lie in our power to stay the headlong propensities of the times, and recal the public mind to the records of past wisdom. We have shown in our work indeed, that we have no blind predilection for the principles of other days. We bow down before no opinion because it is ancient. We even feel and believe, that in all the momentous questions pertaining to morals, politics, science, and religion, we are greatly in advance of past ages. And our hearts expand with joy at the prospect of still greater simplicity and clearness, in the statement and defense of the cardinal doctrines of the reformation, to the promotion of which our work has been uniformly devoted. Most of the monuments of past wisdom, we believe capable of improvement in these respects. Thus we regard the works of Luther, Calvin, Beza,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »