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Anne Bradstreet and Her Time
Some Phases of Early Colonial Life
by Campbell, Helen

Much of the depression evident in Anne Bradstreet's earlier verses came from the circumstances of her family life. No woman could have been less fitted to bear absence from those nearest to her, and though her adhesive nature had made her take as deep root in Ipswich, as if further change could not come, she welcomed anything that diminished the long separations, and made her husband's life center more at home. One solace seems to have been always open to her, her longest poem, the "Four Monarchies," showing her devotion to Ancient history and the thoroughness with which she had made it her own. Anatomy seems to have been studied also, the "Four Humours in Man's Constitution," showing an intimate acquaintance with the anatomical knowledge of the day; but in both cases it was not, as one might infer from her references to Greek and Latin authors, from original sources. Sir Walter Raleigh's "History of the World," Archbishop Usher's "Annals of the World," and Pemble's "Period of the Persian Monarchy," were all found in Puritan libraries, though she may have had access to others while still in England. Pemble was in high favor as an authority in Biblical exposition, the title of his book being a stimulant to every student of the prophecies: "The Period of the Persian Monarchy, wherein sundry places of Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel are cleared, Extracted, contracted and Englished, (much of it out of Dr. Raynolds) by the late learned and godly man, Mr. William Pemble, of Magdalen Hall, in Oxford."

This she read over and over again, and many passages in her poem on the "Four Monarchies" are merely paraphrases of this and Raleigh's work, though before a second edition was printed she had read Plutarch, and altered here and there as she saw fit to introduce his rendering. Galen and Hippocrates, whom she mentions familiarly, were known to her through the work of the "curious learned Crooke," his "Description of the Body of Man, Collected and Translated out of all the best Authors on Anatomy, especially out of Gasper, Banchinus, and A. Sourentius," being familiar to all students of the day.

If her muse could but have roused to a sense of what was going on about her, and recorded some episodes which Winthrop dismisses with a few words, we should be under obligations that time could only deepen. Why, for instance, could she not have given her woman's view of that indomitable "virgin mother of Taunton," profanely described by Governor Winthrop as "an ancient maid, one Mrs. Poole. She went late thither, and endured much hardships, and lost much cattle. Called, after, Taunton."

Precisely why Mrs. Poole chose Tecticutt, afterward Titicut, for her venture is not known, but the facts of her rash experiment must have been discussed at length, and moved less progressive maids and matrons to envy or pity as the chance might be. But not a hint of this surprising departure can be found in any of Mistress Bradstreet's remains, and it stands, with no comment save that of the diligent governor's faithful pen, as the first example of an action, to be repeated in these later days in prairie farms and Western ranches by women who share the same spirit, though more often young than "ancient" maids. But ancient, though in her case a just enough characterization, was a term of reproach for any who at sixteen or eighteen at the utmost, remained unmarried, and our present custom of calling every maiden under forty, "girl" would have struck the Puritan mothers with a sense of preposterousness fully equal to ours at some of their doings.

A hundred years passed, and then an appreciative kinsman, who had long enjoyed the fruit of her labors, set up "a faire slab," still to be seen in the old burying ground.
  Of good family, friends and prospects,
  all which she left in the prime of her life, to enjoy the
  religion of her conscience in this distant wilderness;
  A great proprietor of the township of Taunton,
  A chief promoter of its settlement and its incorporation
  about which time she settled near this spot; and,
  having employed the opportunity
  of her virgin state in piety, liberality and sanctity of manners,
  Died May 21st A.D. 1654, aged 65.
  to whose memory
  this monument is gratefully erected by her next of kin,
  A.D. 1771.
Undoubtedly every detail of this eccentric settlement was talked over at length, as everything was talked over. Gossip never had more forcible reason for existence, for the church covenant compelled each member to a practical oversight of his neighbor's concerns, the special clause reading: "We agree to keep mutual watch and ward over one another."

At first, united by a common peril, the dangers of this were less perceptible. The early years held their own necessities for discussion, and the records of the time are full of matter that Anne Bradstreet might have used had she known her opportunity. She was weighed down like every conscientious Puritan of the day not only by a sense of the infinitely great, but quite as strenuously by the infinitely little. It is plain that she saw more clearly than many of her time, and there are no indications in her works of the small superstitions held by all. Superstition had changed its name to Providence, and every item of daily action was believed to be under the constant supervision and interference of the Almighty. The common people had ceased to believe in fairies and brownies, but their places had been filled by Satan's imps and messengers, watchful for some chance to confound the elect.

The faith in dreams and omens of every sort was not lessened by the transferrence of the responsibility for them to the Lord, and the superstition of the day, ended later in a credulity that accepted the Salem Witchcraft delusion with all its horrors, believing always, that diligent search would discover, if not the Lord's, then the devil's hand, working for the edification or confounding of the elect. Even Winthrop does not escape, and in the midst of wise suggestions for the management of affairs sandwiches such a record as the following: "At Watertown there was (in the view of divers witnesses) a great combat between a mouse and a snake; and after a long fight, the mouse prevailed and killed the snake. The pastor of Boston, Mr. Wilson, a very sincere, holy man, hearing of it, gave this interpretation: That the snake was the devil; the mouse was a poor, contemptible, people, which God had brought hither, which should overcome Satan here, and dispossess him of his kingdom. Upon the same occasion, he told the governor that, before he was resolved to come into this country, he dreamed he was here, and that he saw a church arise out of the earth, which grew up and became a marvelously goodly church."

They had absolute faith that prayer would accomplish all things, even to strengthening a defective memory. Thomas Shepard, whose autobiography is given in Young's "Chronicles of Massachusetts Bay," gave this incident in his life when a student and "ambitious of learning and being a scholar; and hence, when I could not take notes of the sermon I remember I was troubled at it, and prayed the Lord earnestly that he would help me to note sermons; and I see some cause of wondering at the Lord's providence therein; for as soon as ever I had prayed (after my best fashion) Him for it, I presently, the next Sabbath, was able to take notes, who the precedent Sabbath, could do nothing at all that way."

Anthony Thacher, whose story may have been told in person to Governor Dudley's family, and whose written description of his shipwreck, included in Young's "Chronicles," is one of the most picturesque pieces of writing the time affords, wrote, with a faith that knew no question: "As I was sliding off the rock into the sea the Lord directed my toes into a joint in the rock's side, as also the tops of some of my fingers, with my right hand, by means whereof, the wave leaving me, I remained so, hanging on the rock, only my head above water."

When individual prayer failed to accomplish a desired end, a fast and the united storming of heaven, never failed to bring victory to the besiegers. Thus Winthrop writes: "Great harm was done in corn, (especially wheat and barley) in this month, by a caterpillar, like a black worm about an inch and a half long. They eat up first the blades of the stalk, then they eat up the tassels, whereupon the ear withered. It was believed by divers good observers, that they fell in a great thunder shower, for divers yards and other places, where not one of them was to be seen an hour before, were immediately after the shower almost covered with them, besides grass places where they were not so easily discerned. They did the most harm in the southern parts.... In divers places the churches kept a day of humiliation, and presently after, the caterpillars vanished away."

Still another instance, the fame of which spread through the whole Colony and confounded any possible doubter, found record in the "Magnalia", that storehouse of fact so judiciously combined with fable that the author himself could probably never tell what he had himself seen, and what had been gleaned from others. Mr. John Wilson, the minister of the church at Boston until the arrival of Cotton, was journeying with a certain Mr. Adams, when tidings came to the latter of the probably fatal illness of his daughter. "Mr. Wilson, looking up to heaven, began mightily to wrestle with God for the life of the young woman ... then, turning himself about unto Mr. Adams, 'Brother,' said he, 'I trust your daughter shall live; I believe in God she shall recover of this sickness.' And so it marvelously came to pass, and she is now the fruitful mother of several desirable children."

Among the books brought over by John Winthrop the younger, was a volume containing the Greek testament, the Psalms, and the English Common Prayer, bound together, to which happened an accident, which was gravely described by the Governor in his daily history of events:

"Decem 15. About this time there fell out a thing worthy of observation. Mr. Winthrop the younger, one of the magistrates, having many books in a chamber where there was corn of divers sorts, had among them one, wherein the Greek testament, the psalms and the common prayer were bound together. He found the common prayer eaten with mice, every leaf of it, and not any of the two other touched, nor any other of his books, though there were above a thousand." Not a Puritan of them all, unless it may be the governor himself, but believed that the mice were agents of the Almighty sent to testify His dissatisfaction with the objectionable form of prayer, and not a fact in daily life but became more and more the working of Providence. Thus, as the good governor records later:
"A godly woman of the church of Boston, dwelling sometimes in London, brought with her a parcel of very fine linen of great value, which she set her heart too much upon, and had been at charge to have it all newly washed, and curiously folded and pressed, and so left it in press in her parlor over night. She had a negro maid went into the room very late, and let fall some snuff of the candle upon the linen, so as by morning all the linen was burned to tinder, and the boards underneath, and some stools and a part of the wainscot burned and never perceived by any in the house, though some lodged in the chamber overhead, and no ceiling between. But it pleased God that the loss of this linen did her much good, both in taking off her heart from worldly comforts, and in preparing her for a far greater affliction by the untimely death of her husband, who was slain not long after at Isle of Providence."
The thrifty housewife's heart goes out to this sister, whose "curiously folded and pressed linen," lavender-scented and fair, was the one reminder of the abounding and generous life from which she had come. It may have been a comfort to consider its loss a direct dispensation for her improvement, and by this time, natural causes were allowed to have no existence save as they became tools of this "Wonder-working Providence." It was the day of small things more literally than they knew, and in this perpetual consideration of small things, the largeness of their first purpose dwindled and contracted, and inconceivable pettiness came at last to be the seal upon much of their action. Mr. Johnson, a minister whose course is commented upon by Bradford, excommunicated his brother and own father, for disagreement from him in certain points of doctrine, though the same zeal weakened when called upon to act against his wife, who doubtless had means of influencing his judgment unknown to the grave elders who remonstrated. But the interest was as strong in the cut of a woman's sleeve as in the founding of a new Plantation. They mourned over their own degeneracy. "The former times were better than these," the croakers sighed, and Governor Bradford wrote of this special case; "In our time his wife was a grave matron, and very modest both in her apparel and all her demeanor, ready to any good works in her place, and helpful to many, especially the poor, and an ornament to his calling. She was a young widow when he married her, and had been a merchant's wife by whom he had a good estate, and was a godly woman; and because she wore such apparel as she had been formerly used to, which were neither excessive nor immodest, for their chiefest exception were against her wearing of some whalebone in the bodice and sleeves of her gown, corked shoes and other such like things as the citizens of her rank then used to wear. And although, for offence sake, she and he were willing to reform the fashions of them, so far as might be, without spoiling of their garments, yet it would not content them except they came full up to their size. Such was the strictness or rigidness (as now the term goes) of some in those times, as we can by experience and of our own knowledge, show in other instances."

Governor Bradford, who evidently leans in his own mind toward the side of Mistress Johnson, proceeds to show the undue severity of some of the brethren in Holland. "We were in the company of a godly man that had been a long time prisoner at Norwich for this cause, and was by Judge Cooke set at liberty. After going into the country he visited his friends, and returning that way again to go into the Low Countries by ship at Yarmouth, and so desired some of us to turn in with him to the house of an ancient woman in the city, who had been very kind and helpful to him in his sufferings. She knowing his voice, made him very welcome, and those with him. But after some time of their entertainment, being ready to depart, she came up to him and felt of his hand (for her eyes were dim with age) and perceiving it was something stiffened with starch, she was much displeased and reproved him very sharply, fearing God would not prosper his journey. Yet the man was a plain country man, clad in gray russet, without either welt or guard (as the proverb is) and the band he wore, scarce worth three-pence, made of their own home-spinning; and he was godly and humble as he was plain. What would such professors, if they were now living, say to the excess of our times?"

Women spoke their minds much more freely in the early days than later they were allowed to, this same "ancient woman" of Amsterdam, having a sister worker of equally uncompromising tongue and tendencies, who was, for her various virtues chosen as deaconess, "and did them service for many years, though she was sixty years of age when she was chosen. She honored her place and was an ornament to the congregation. She usually sat in a convenient place in the congregation, with a little birchen rod in her hand, and kept little children in great awe from disturbing the congregation. She did frequently visit the sick and weak, especially women, and, as there was need, called out maids and young women to watch and do them other helps as their necessity did require; and if they were poor, she would gather relief for them of those that were able, or acquaint the deacons; and she was obeyed as a mother in Israel and an officer of Christ."

Whether this dame had the same objection to starch as the more "ancient" one, is not recorded, but in any case she was not alone. Men and women alike, forswore the desired stiffness, retaining it only in their opinions. By the time that Anne Bradstreet had settled in Andover, bodily indulgence so far as adornment or the gratification of appetite went, had become a matter for courts to decide upon. Whether Simon Bradstreet gave up the curling locks which, while not flowing to his shoulders as in Colonel Hutchinson's case, still fell in thick rings about his neck, we have no means of knowing. His wife would naturally protest against the cropping, brought about by the more extreme, "who put their own cropped heads together in order to devise some scheme for compelling all other heads to be as well shorn as theirs were."

One of the first acts of John Endecott when again appointed governor of Massachusetts Bay, was "to institute a solemn association against long hair," but his success was indifferent, as evidenced in many a moan from reverend ministers and deacons. John Eliot, one of the sweetest and most saintly spirits among them, wrote that it was a "luxurious feminine prolixity for men to wear their hair long and to ... ruffle their heads in excesses of this kind," but in later years, with many another wearied antagonist of this abomination, added hopelessly--"the lust is insuperable." Tobacco was fulminated against with equal energy, but no decree of court could stamp out the beloved vice. Winthrop yielded to it, but afterward renounced it, and the ministers compared its smoke to the smoke ascending from the bottomless pit, but no denunciation could effectually bar it out, and tobacco and starch in the end asserted their right to existence and came into constant use. A miraculous amount of energy had been expended upon the heinousness of their use, and the very fury of protest brought a reaction equally strong. Radical even in her conservatism, New England sought to bind in one, two hopelessly incompatible conditions: intellectual freedom and spiritual slavery. Absolute obedience to an accepted formula of faith was hardly likely to remain a fact for a community where thought was stimulated not only by education and training but every circumstance of their daily lives. A people who had lived on intimate terms with the innermost counsels of the Almighty, and who listened for hours on Sunday to speculations on the component elements not only of the Almighty, but of all His works were, while apparently most reverential, losing all capacity for reverence in any ancient sense. Undoubtedly this very speculation did much to give breadth and largeness, too much belief preparing the way, first, for no belief, and, at last, for a return to the best in the old and a combination of certain features of the new, which seems destined to make something better for practical as well as spiritual life than the world has ever known.

The misfortune of the early Puritan was in too rigid a creed, too settled an assurance that all the revelation needed had been given. Unlike the Dunkard elders, who refused to formulate a creed, lest it should put them in a mental attitude that would hinder further glimpses of truth, they hastened to bind themselves and all generations to come in chains, which began to rattle before the last link was forged. Not a Baptist, or Quaker, or Antinomian but gave himself to the work of protestation, and the determined effort to throw off the tyranny and presumption of men no wiser than he. Whippings, imprisonments and banishments silenced these spirits temporarily, but the vibration of particles never ceased, and we know the final result of such action. No wonder that the silent work of disintegration, when it showed itself in the final apparent collapse of all creeds, was looked upon with horrified amazement, and a hasty gathering up of all the old particles with a conviction that fusing and forging again was as easy of accomplishment now as in the beginning. The attempt has proved their error.

Up to nearly the opening of the eighteenth century New England life kept pace with the advances in England. There was constant coming and going and a sense of common interests and common needs. But even before emigration practically ceased, the changes in modes of speech were less marked than in the old home. English speech altered in many points during the seventeenth century. Words dropped out of use, their places filled by a crowd of claimants, sometimes admitted after sharp scrutiny, as often denied, but ending in admitting themselves, as words have a trick of doing even when most thoroughly outlawed. But in New England the old methods saw no reason for change.

Forms of speech current in the England of the seventeenth century crystallized here and are heard to-day. "Yankeeisms" is their popular title, but the student of old English knows them rather as "Anglicisms." "Since the year 1640 the New England race has not received any notable addition to its original stock, and to-day their Anglican blood is as genuine and unmixed as that of any county in England."

Dr. Edward Freeman, in his "Impressions of America," says of New England particularly, the remark applying in part also to all the older states: "When anything that seems strange to a British visitor in American speech or American manners is not quite modern on the face of it, it is pretty certain to be something which was once common to the older and the newer England, but which the newer England has kept, while the older England has cast it aside." Such literature as had birth in New England adhered chiefly to the elder models, and has thus an archaic element that broader life and intercourse would have eliminated. The provincial stage, of feeble and uncertain, or stilled but equally uncertain expression was at hand, but for the first generation or so the colonists had small time to consider forms of speech. Their passion for knowledge, however, took on all the vitality that had forsaken English ground, and that from that day to this, has made the first thought of every New England community, East or West, a school. Their corner-stone "rested upon a book." It has been calculated that there was one Cambridge graduate for every two- hundred and fifty inhabitants, and within six years from the landing of John Winthrop and his party, Harvard College had begun its work of baffling "that old deluder, Sathan," whose business in part it was "to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures." To secular learning they were indifferent, but every man must be able to give reason for the faith that was in him, and the more tongues in which such statement could be made the more confusion for this often embarrassed but still undismayed Sathan. Orders of nobility among them had passed. Very rarely were they joined by even a simple "Sir," and as years went on, nobility came to be synonymous with tyranny, and there was less and less love for every owner of a title. To them the highest earthly distinction came to be found in the highest learning. The earnest student deserved and obtained all the honors that man could give him, and his epitaph even recorded the same solemn and deep-seated admiration. "The ashes of an hard student, a good scholar, and a great Christian."

Anne Bradstreet shared this feeling to the full, and might easily have been the mother of whom Mather writes as saying to her little boy: "Child, if God make thee a good Christian and a good scholar, thou hast all that thy mother ever asked for thee." Simon Bradstreet became both, and in due time pleased his mother by turning sundry of her "Meditations" into Latin prose, in which stately dress they are incorporated in her works. The New England woman kept up as far as possible the same pursuits in which she had been trained, and among others the concoction of innumerable tinctures and waters, learned in the 'still-room' of every substantial English home. Room might have given place to a mere corner, but the work went on with undiminished interest and enthusiasm. There were few doctors, and each family had its own special formulas--infallible remedies for all ordinary diseases and used indiscriminately and in combination where a case seemed to demand active treatment. They believed in their own medicines absolutely, and required equal faith in all upon whom they bestowed them.

Sturdy English stock as were all these New England dames, and blessed with a power of endurance which it required more than one generation to lessen, they were as given to medicine-taking as their descendants of to-day, and fully as certain that their own particular prescription was more efficacious than all the rest put together. Anne Bradstreet had always been delicate, and as time went on grew more and more so. The long voyage and confinement to salt food had developed certain tendencies that never afterward left her, and there is more than a suspicion that scurvy had attacked her among the rest. Every precaution was taken by Governor Winthrop to prevent such danger for those who came later, and he writes to his wife, directing her preparations for the voyage: "Be sure to be warme clothed & to have store of fresh provisions, meale, eggs putt up in salt or ground mault, butter, ote meal, pease & fruits, & a large strong chest or 2, well locked, to keep these provisions in; & be sure they be bestowed in the shippe where they may be readyly come by.... Be sure to have ready at sea 2 or 3 skilletts of several syzes, a large fryinge panne, a small stewinge panne, & a case to boyle a pudding in; store of linnen for use at sea, & sacke to bestow among the saylors: some drinking vessells & peuter & other vessells."

Dr. Nathaniel Wright, a famous physician of Hereford, and private physician to Oliver Cromwell for a time, had given Winthrop various useful prescriptions, and his medicines were in general use, Winthrop adding in this letter: "For physick you shall need no other but a pound of Doctor Wright's Electuariu lenitivu, & his direction to use it, a gallon of scirvy grasse, to drink a litle 5 or 6 morninges together, with some saltpeter dissolved in it, & a little grated or sliced nutmeg."

Dr. Wright's prescriptions were supplemented by a collection prepared for him by Dr. Edward Stafford of London, all of which were used with great effect, the governor's enthusiasm for medical receipts and amateur practice, passing on through several generations. A letter to his son John at Ispwich contains some of his views and a prescription for pills which were undoubtedly taken faithfully by Mistress Anne and administered as faithfully to the unwilling Simon, who like herself suffered from one or two attacks of fever. The colonists were, like all breakers of new ground, especially susceptible to fevers of every variety, and Governor Winthrop writes anxiously: "You must be very careful of taking cold about the loins; & when the ground is open, I will send you some pepper-wort roots. For the flux, there is no better medicine than the cup used two or three times, &, in case of sudden torments, a clyster of a quart of water boiled to a pint, which, with the quantity of two or three nutmegs of saltpetre boiled in it, will give present ease.

"For the pills, they are made of grated pepper, made up with turpentine, very stiff, and some flour withal; and four or five taken fasting, & fast two hours after. But if there be any fever with the flux, this must not be used till the fever is removed by the cup."

Each remedy bears the internal warrant of an immediate need for a fresh one, and it is easy to see from what source the national love of patent medicines has been derived. Another prescription faithfully tried by both giver and receiver, and which Anne Bradstreet may have tested in her various fevers, was sent to John Winthrop, Jr., by Sir Kenelm Digby and may be found with various other singularities in the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. "For all sorts of agues, I have of late tried the following magnetical experiment with infallible success. Pare the patient's nails when the fit is coming on, and put the parings into a little bag of fine linen or sarsenet, and tie that about a live eel's neck in a tub of water. The eel will die and the patient will recover. And if a dog or hog eat that eel, they will also die. I have known one that cured all deliriums and frenzies whatsoever, and at once taking, with an elixer made of dew, nothing but dew purified & nipped up in a glass & digested 15 months till all of it was become a gray powder, not one drop of humidity remaining. This I know to be true, & that first it was as black as ink, then green, then gray, & at 22 month's end it was as white & lustrous as any oriental pearl. But it cured manias at 15 months' end."

The mania for taking it or anything else sufficiently mysterious and unpleasant to give a value to its possession remains to this day. But the prescriptions made up by the chief magistrate had a double efficacy for a time that believed a king's touch held instant cure for the king's evil, and that the ordinary marks known to every physician familiar with the many phases of hysteria, were the sign-manual of witches. The good governor's list of remedies had been made up from the Stafford prescriptions, the diseases he arranged to deal with being "plague, smallpox, fevers, king's evil, insanity, and falling sickness," besides broken bones and all ordinary injuries.

Simples and mineral drugs are used indiscriminately, and there is one remedy on which Dr. Holmes comments, in an essay on "The Medical Profession in Massachusetts," "made by putting live toads into an earthern pot so as to half fill it, and baking and burning them 'in the open ayre, not in a house'--concerning which latter possibility I suspect Madam Winthrop would have had something to say--until they could be reduced by pounding, first into a brown and then into a black, powder." This powder was the infallible remedy "against the plague, small-pox; purples, all sorts of feavers; Poyson; either by way of Prevention or after Infection." Consumption found a cure in a squirrel, baked alive and also reduced to a Powder, and a horrible witches' broth of earth-worms and other abominations served the same purpose. The governor makes no mention of this, but he gives full details of an electuary of millipedes, otherwise sowbugs, which seems to have been used with distinguished success. Coral and amber were both powdered and used in special cases, and antimony and nitre were handled freely, with rhubarb and the whole series of ancient remedies. The Winthrop papers hold numberless letters from friends and patients testifying to the good he had done them or begging for further benefactions, one of these from the agitator, Samuel Gostun, who at eighty-two had ceased to trouble himself over anything but his own infirmities, holding a wonder how "a thing so little in quantity, so little in sent, so little in taste, and so little to sence in operation, should beget and bring forth such efects."

These prescriptions were handed down through four generations of Winthrops, who seem to have united law and medicine, a union less common than that of divinity and medicine.

Michael Wigglesworth, whom we know best through his "Day of Doom," visited and prescribed for the sick, "not only as a Pastor but as a Physician too, and this not only in his own town, but also in all those of the vicinity." But this was in later days, when John Eliot's desire had been accomplished, written to the Rev. Mr. Shepard in 1647: "I have thought in my heart that it were a very singular good work, if the Lord would stirre up the hearts of some or other of his people in England, to give some maintenance toward some Schoole or Collegiate exercise this way, wherein there should be Anatomies and other instructions that way, and where there might be some recompense given to any that should bring in any vegetable or other thing that is vertuous in the way of Physick. There is another reason which moves my thought and desires this way, namely, that our young students in Physick may be trained up better than they yet bee, who have onely theoreticall knowledge, and are forced to fall to practice before ever they saw an Anatomy made, or duely trained up in making experiments, for we never had but one Anatomy in the countrey."

This anatomy had been made by Giles Firmin, who was the friend of Winthrop and of the Bradstreet's, and who found the practice of medicine so little profitable that he wrote to the former: "I am strongly set upon to studye divinity; my studyes else must be lost, for physick is but a meene helpe." A "meene helpe" it proved for many years, during which the Puritan dames steeped herbs and made ointments and lotions after formulas learned in the still- room at home. The little Bradstreet's doubtless swallowed their full share, though fortunately blessed for the most part with the sturdy constitution of their father, who, save for a fever or two, escaped most of the sicknesses common to the colonists and lived through many serene and untroubled years of physical and mental health, finding life enjoyable even at four-score and ten.


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