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Customs and Fashions in Old New England   By: (1851-1911)

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CUSTOMS AND FASHIONS IN OLD NEW ENGLAND

BY

ALICE MORSE EARLE

"Let us thank God for having given us such ancestors; and let each successive generation thank him not less fervently, for being one step further from them in the march of ages."

NEW YORK CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 1894

COPYRIGHT, 1893 BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

TROW DIRECTORY PRINTING AND BOOKBINDING COMPANY NEW YORK

BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

CHINA COLLECTING IN AMERICA. With 75 Illustrations. Square 8vo, $3.00.

THE SABBATH IN PURITAN NEW ENGLAND. 12mo, $1.25.

To the Memory of my Father

CONTENTS

PAGE

I. CHILD LIFE, 1

II. COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE CUSTOMS, 36

III. DOMESTIC SERVICE, 82

IV. HOME INTERIORS, 107

V. TABLE PLENISHINGS, 132

VI. SUPPLIES OF THE LARDER, 146

VII. OLD COLONIAL DRINKS AND DRINKERS, 163

VIII. TRAVEL, TAVERN, AND TURNPIKE, 184

IX. HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS, 214

X. SPORTS AND DIVERSIONS, 234

XI. BOOKS AND BOOK MAKERS, 257

XII. ARTIFICES OF HANDSOMENESS, 289

XIII. RAIMENT AND VESTURE, 314

XIV. DOCTORS AND PATIENTS, 331

XV. FUNERAL AND BURIAL CUSTOMS, 364

I

CHILD LIFE

From the hour when the Puritan baby opened his eyes in bleak New England he had a Spartan struggle for life. In summer time he fared comparatively well, but in winter the ill heated houses of the colonists gave to him a most chilling and benumbing welcome. Within the great open fireplace, when fairly scorched in the face by the glowing flames of the roaring wood fire, he might be bathed and dressed, and he might be cuddled and nursed in warmth and comfort; but all his baby hours could not be spent in the ingleside, and were he carried four feet away from the chimney on a raw winter's day he found in his new home a temperature that would make a modern infant scream with indignant discomfort, or lie stupefied with cold.

Nor was he permitted even in the first dismal days of his life to stay peacefully within doors. On the Sunday following his birth he was carried to the meeting house to be baptized. When we consider the chill and gloom of those unheated, freezing churches, growing colder and damper and deadlier with every wintry blast we wonder that grown persons even could bear the exposure. Still more do we marvel that tender babes ever lived through their cruel winter christenings when it is recorded that the ice had to be broken in the christening bowl. In villages and towns where the houses were all clustered around the meeting house the baby Puritans did not have to be carried far to be baptized; but in country parishes, where the dwelling houses were widely scattered, it might be truthfully recorded of many a chrisom child: "Died of being baptized." One cruel parson believed in and practised infant immersion, fairly a Puritan torture, until his own child nearly lost its life thereby.

Dressed in fine linen and wrapped in a hand woven christening blanket a "bearing cloth" the unfortunate young Puritan was carried to church in the arms of the midwife, who was a person of vast importance and dignity as well as of service in early colonial days, when families of from fifteen to twenty children were quite the common quota. At the altar the baby was placed in his proud father's arms, and received his first cold and disheartening reception into the Puritan Church. In the pages of Judge Samuel Sewall's diary, to which alone we can turn for any definite or extended contemporary picture of colonial life in Puritan New England, as for knowledge of England of that date we turn to the diaries of Evelyn and Pepys, we find abundant proof that inclemency of weather was little heeded when religious customs and duties were in question... Continue reading book >>




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