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Naomi: or Boston Two Hundred Years ago

Brownson's Quarterly Review, October, 1849

Art. III. Naomi: or Boston Two Hundred Years ago. By Eliza Buckminster Lee. Second Edition. Boston: Crosby & Nichols.    1848.    12mo.    pp. 324.

It is not easy for a descendant of the Puritans, who has had the mercy to be received into the Catholic Church, to speak of his ancestors, or of Boston two hundred years ago, in those terms of filial respect and patriotic affection which they who count religious faith and association for nothing suppose they have a right to demand, or at least may reasonably expect. But we confess that we are of the number who regard the spiritual relationship as superior to the natural, and Mother Church as above father-land. Our Lord said, " Whosoever shall do the will of God, he is my mother, my sister, and my brother," (footnote: St. Mark iii. 35) and also, " He that loveth father or mother, son or daughter, more than me, is not worthy of me."(footnote: St. Matt. x.37).
The Church is the Christian's father-land, and the Catholic society, which derives through election and grace from Abraham, whom God chose to be the father of the faithful, is the Christian's human race. In this society, the society of the chosen people of God, since the coming of Christ, all national distinctions are obliterated, all divisions of caste, clan, tribe, or family are abolished, and all are made one in the unity of the spirit,  of the spiritual life they live in Christ their head, and of whom they are members. This society and its relations, affections, and duties take precedence of all others, and no others are to be cherished, save as subordinate and subservient to these. Our Puritan ancestors were outside of this society, outside of the chosen people of God, outside of the mankind reintegrated by grace and election in unity, destitute of both true spiritual and true intellectual life ;  branches severed from the vine, wilting and drying for the end they had chosen for themselves. However we may regret their delusions, however much we may weep that they were not wise in time, and did not become incorporated as integral members of the living human race, we cannot, as Catholics, claim kindred with them, or feel that we are bound to respect or defend their memories. To us, as Catholics, they were publicans and Gentiles, aliens to the Christian commonwealth, or Gospel kingdom.

Nevertheless, there are aspects under which their characters become to us matters of interest, and under which we may have, not only things to say against them, but also things  to say in their favor.    In one sense, all outside the Catholic society, or the Church, are alike ;  they are alike hi the want ol unity, ol truth in its integrity, of true human life even, and of the means, where they are, of fulfilling the law of charity, that is, supreme and exclusive love to God, and the love of our neighbour as ourselves in God.    Yet are there degrees in their fall, and dil-ferences of character among them, which are appreciable, and which, when the question is between one class of them and another, may well afford just grounds of preference.     When the question is between Catholics and non-Catholics, the lowest and most unworthy Catholic, who retains his faith, is far above the highest and most exemplary in the ranks of even the least deformed among the sects, on the principle that " a living dog is better than a dead lion,"  not because faith alone prouteth a man, but because as long as one retains the faith he retains the principle of life, and may at last repent, and elicit acceptable   works.     But when the comparison  is between sect and sect, between Puritans and Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Unitarians, Quakers, or  Universalis, or, in our own country, between non-Catholics of the Northern and non-Catholics of the Southern, Middle, or Western States, we may not only have our preferences, but sometimes find it, as American citizens, expedient to express them.
It is only when the comparison is between sect and sect, and between section and section, that we have ever spoken favorably of our Puritan ancestors according to the flesh, and ventured to vindicate the New England character.    We have not done this so much because we revere the memory ol the one, or sympathize with the other, as because we have found them made answerable, if not for more than they were guilty of, yet for what they were not guilty of.    In itself considered, or compared with the Catholic, we do not like the New England character, and could say as severe things against it as do our friends farther south, though, if wishing to censure it, we should not brine; against it the precise charges which they do.    I here was little m the stern old Puritan to our taste,--little with which we do or ever did sympathize ; and yet we dislike him less than we do any of the other sectaries that had a share in colonizing this country.      His  faults  were those of Protestants in general, but he had virtues which were peculiarly his own, and which have left their mark on the country.    He was English, Anglo-Saxon, it is true, and that is no recommendation ; but he had his full share of the better, and not more than his share of the worse, qualities of his race.    He was a bigot, but neither alone nor peculiarly fierce in his bigotry.    He was a persecutor, and resorted to violence against those who differed from him, whether Catholics or Protestants ; but in that he was not at all distinguished from Protestants in general.    The right to burn heretics was defended by Calvin in a pamphlet approved by Melancthon ; and, with the exception of the Quakers, and some  later  sects  deriving from Lord   Herbert   and  Voltaire rather than directly from Luther and Calvin, we are aware of no Protestant sect that holds the punishment of heresy by the civil power to be wrong.    And, if  the several sects  Con-gregationalists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists  do not now fine, imprison, scourge, or burn those they regard as heretics, the reason, most likely, is, not the lack ot the  disposition, or of belief in their right, but their   lack of power, to do so.   Let the Presbyterians of the Middle States but once get the civil power into their hands, for which they have been striving ever since the formation of the Federal government, and it would have been with success, if their language had not been confounded,  and they would soon prove themselves not unworthy sons of Farel, Calvin, and Knox.    Their spirit is willing, but their power to perform is wanting.    Protestantism, till it degenerates into indifference, is essentially bigoted, and every bigot is at heart a persecutor.   The several sects, no longer in authority, no longer able to maintain and propagate themselves by the strong arm of the law, by pains and penalties, by fire  and  sword, as in former times, now turn demagogues,  and   seek   to do it by flattery,  wheedling,   trickery, craft, and management, in which they are great adepts.

It is the common opinion that the Puritans of New England were, in their day, remarkable among Protestant sects for their bigotry and intolerance ; but such was not the fact, and we are inclined to believe that the opinion has arisen from the fact, that a large body of New-Englanders, for the last sixty or seventy years, have fallen into religious indifferentism, and have made the country echo with their exaggerated accounts and condemnation of the bigotry and intolerance of their ancestors ; whereas, in the rest of the old States of the Union, if there has been an equal lapse into indifferentism, those who have fallen have been too filial or too indolent to parade the errors and crimes of their early settlers.    Few of the sons of Virginia have exposed to the gaze of the world the intolerance of her Episcopalians ; and when the liberal Marylander exposes the 1 rotes-tant intolerance  and  persecution  so conspicuous  in his own State, and which he cannot deny, he charges it upon the poor Puritans, forgetful that the Protestants ol whom he complains were Episcopalians,-that the Puritans hated prelacy hardly less than papacy, and would as quick have established Catholicity by law as the Protestant Episcopal Church, which, it we recollect aright, is what the Protestants of Maryland did establish,  when  they   abolished   the   toleration   introduced   by the Catholic Lord Baltimore.   No portion of the descendants oi the early Presbyterian colonists in the Middle States have, to our knowledge, exposed the intolerance of their ancestors, and, indeed, few of them, comparatively, are known in the republic of letters.    The simple fact is,  we suppose, that New-Eng-landers, who have taken the lead in the literature oi the country, have published the full history of all the sins committed against both religious liberty and religious indifference by their ancestors, and made them known to the whole world, whereas the sins of a like nature committed in other parts of our common country have been  suffered to sleep in forgetfulness,   or, instead of being exaggerated, have been glossed over and made as little revolting as possible.                                         

Mrs. Lee's Naomi, now before us, tends to confirm this conclusion.    Mrs.  Lee is a highly intellectual lady of this city, sister to the well-known Joseph Stevens Buckminster, one oi the earliest and most promising of the Unitarian ministers of New England.    What she herself is, it would bei difficult lor us, and still  more  difficult for her, to decide.     She was the daughter of a Puritan minister, brought up in the rigid doctrine and discipline of the Puritans ; and, like so many thousands oi the generation now passing off brought up m the same way, she became, as did her distinguished brother, a Unitarian, and, we believe, is still reckoned'in the Unitarian ranks; but she has never been   able to satisfy  herself with Un.tarianism, which hardly rises to the level of natural religion, and she has been for years searching, with throbbing heart  and  aching  head,  for something more positive, more substantial, more able to mee the wants of the human soul.    As yet, her search has resulted only in disappointment ; and, with a masculine intellect, a woman's heart, and a nature remarkable for its religiosity, she finds nothing to believe, nothing to love   nothing to worship.    She has sought everywhere but in the right place, and by all means but the right ones. Alas ! she is not alone in this, but merely one of a large class of both men and women among us, commonly reckoned as Unitarians, who have outgrown the revolting Calvinistic system in which they were reared, who understand well the shallowness and falseness of every form of Protestantism, and who, though deeply impressed with the necessity of religion, and hardly doubting that somewhere there is and must be true religion, yet feel that they have not found it, know not where to look for it, and must despair of finding it,  taking it for granted, in the outset, that it cannot be with us. Their children are in a state perhaps even more deplorable. Some of them continue going to the Unitarian meetings,-Dr. Gannett's, Dr. Frolhingham's, Mr. Lothrop's, Mr. Huntington's,  from habit and a regard to decorum, rather than from conviction ; some return to the ranks of the Puritans, and try to find relief in fanaticism ; a few pass over to Anglicanism ; but the greater part grow up in indifterentism, and in real ignorance oi all religion, plunge into business or dissipation, soothe their consciences now and then by a little fashionable philanthropy, declaim on abolition and against capital punishment, patronize Socialism, and talk, and sometimes write, about pauperism and the elevation of the laboring classes,  trying to appease their hunger with the east wind, and finding that they do but sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.     Alas for them !
But the slate of mind in which most of these are necessarily renders them hostile to the old Puritanical exclusiveness, and disposed to exhibit and condemn the bigotry and persecution of their ancestors. Thus Mrs. Lee, in Naomi, lays her scene in Boston, in the time of the troubles with the Quakers, and evidently writes her story mainly for the purpose of exposing the errors of the old Puritans, and of advocating religious liberty, or rather religious indifference. Not that she finis to sketch with much freedom and truth the characteristic traits of Bostonians two hundred years ago, but she brings out in bold relief only the bigoted and the persecuting features, and leaves the impression upon her readers that intolerance and persecution were what chiefly distinguished them. She enlists all our sympathies for Naomi, a concealed Quakeress, who exposed herself to persecution, not so much for her Quakerism as by her attempts to interfere with the regular course of Puritanic justice, and excites our indignation against her proud, gloomy, heartless, and sanctimonious judges. No book could be better devised to confirm the common notion entertained of the old New England Puritans, or to make a Bostonian of the liberal school either blush for his ancestors, or applaud himselt lor his own indii-ference and unexclusiveness.   
We cannot give anything like an analysis of Naomi, and we have space for only a few brief extracts ; the book deserves a notice and some extracts we must make, as specimens oi the style of the gifted authoress, if not for their own truthfulness and beauty. The following is in a kindly spirit, and is the best that can be said of the motives of the early settlers of New England.

» Puritanism was, as those who embraced it believed, a protest of right against wrong, of good against evil of heaven against bell; in many it was a true heroism, inspired by holy motives, pursued with devoted energy, purified from all selfish ends, and le-warded with the ioys of conscience.

" The views and motives that led the Pilgrims and planters to these New England shores were as various and as widely diflerent as the characters of the persons who composed the successive companies. Winthrop and his companions were  as true, as pure, as heroic a company as ever set foot upon our sterile and severe coast. They were inspired by deep, conscientious, but yet narrow and mistaken conceptions of religious liberty.    They wished to escape pcrsecu-lion in England, but no sooner did the occasion present Use    tba they became  persecutors in  their  turn;   olemnce  for then  mwi opinions  was  die  only tolerance  admitted.    That  tolerance itself implies intolerance was an idea which had never dawned upon the religious mind of the period.

"Many came merely to enjoy an untrammelled worship, to be rid of surplices, and what were to them the idle ceremonies of formalism and the ritual. A very large number came to this country upon commercial speculations, with the hope of making or bettering their fortunes, and yet a larger number with a union of purposes, of which, although none perhaps were of an elevated or entirely  disinterested character, yet were none censurable or unworthy.

"Included among the latter class was the merchant who was most largely interested in the ship that had just arrived, and whose carriage had been waiting upon the wharf to receive a passenger from the vessel. The reader must not suppose that a carriage was at
this time a frequent appendage to a rich man's establishment. There were perhaps half a  dozen  in the whole country, and the merchant of whom we speak was as able as any one to maintain this luxury.

"Mr. Aldersey, to whose house Naomi had been borne, was one of the most wealthy merchants of Boston, although not one of the company who came with Winthrop. At the time of Winthrop's embarkation, he was living in London, and reaping a fortune from one of the extensive monopolies common at that period ; but he was a Puritan, and belonged to the patriot party that opposed all monopolies. He would have gladly remained in the enjoyment of his own, by a connivance in which he should not be known. It was, however, discovered and withdrawn, and he came to hide his mortification in the New World. He returned, however, at the end of a few years, and married. His wife, whom he now brought with him, a lovely and excellent woman, had large connections in England of her own family, and of her first husband's (she had been a widow), which made the rending of the ties to the mother country most difficult. Naomi, the little daughter of the first husband, was the darling of many old relatives, who set their hearts and their faces against the proposal of bringing the little girl to the New World. Like Mrs. Wilson, the partner of the reverend gentleman of that name, their imaginations exaggerated the dangers of the sea, the terrors of the savages and monsters that infested the land. Mrs. Aldersey accompanied her husband, therefore, with a divided and bleeding heart; for the little Naomi, a child of nine years old, must be left behind."  pp. 18-20.

As to the purity of the motives, devotion, and heroism of the Pilgrims, if taken in a religious or Catholic sense, the less we say the better; although, in a merely human sense, we can subscribe to the greater part of Mrs. Lee's account. But it is a great mistake to suppose that they professed to come here to establish what is called religious liberty. Religious liberty, in its modern popular acceptation, was not an idea which they did not comprehend, as Mrs. Lee intimates, but an idea they expressly rejected. Their complaint before leaving England was, not that all sects or all forms of religion were not free in their native country, as many believe, but that the true religion, to wit, their own, was bound, and they were not at liberty to profess it. They scouted from the first the idea that there may be many forms of religion, all true and salutary, or that men have or can have the permission of their Maker, freedom before God, to embrace any other than the true religion. They came here, not to found a commonwealth which should hold all religions, all sects, all opinions, all fancies, alike sacred, and maintain their equal freedom, but to found, in their estimation, a Christian commonwealth, based on the Gospel, subject to the law of God as promulgated in his word, and professing and maintaining, as its religion, the one only true religion. Their exclusive-ness was no inconsistency, but a rigid deduction from the principles they avowed.    The error was not in seeking to establish a Christian commonwealth, was not in their exclus.veness, but in assuming that their sect was the Church of God, and in sup-posing that they, fallible men, with no Divine commission, with no infallible authority to judge, and no authority at all in religious matters but a  self-constituted   authority,   had  a  right to erect their own doctrines into a creed,  and to condemn   all who did not choose to conform to them ;   thus arrogating to themselves the  authority of the  Church of God, and making conscience amenable to a merely human tribunal,  conscience, which is accountable to God alone.

The following sketch of Mr. Aldersey is very wel done, and may be taken as an accurate sketch of the genuine I uritan in both Old England and New England, as he was, as he is, and as he must be, or cease to be a Puritan.

" I have said that Mr. Aldersey did not exile himself to get rid of the hierarchy, the surplice, or the bishops ; ho came because he couId no Ion w enjov the revenues of a monopoly which Ins party had long condemned; and his principles had barely suficred him to connive at. He was already rich, and the commercial prosperity of the colony under the favorable regard of Cromwell had enabled him to double his fortune since he came to the country.

" In this religious community, men lived apparently above the world     Religion was lord of their life.    To attain any degree of consideration, it was as requisite to be religious as it is now to be honest     Mr. Aldersey had joined the Boston  church  the hist bab-bitter his arrival he was a zealous churchmen an Assistant of the General Court, a magistrate, a keen detectei of he esy Topinion and of latitudinarionism in practice;  liberality of judgment in one or the other, with respect to others, was a thing that Sad never dawned  upon his mind, yet he exempted hmujefrom anv particular strictness of principle or practice.    His great Bible lay open before him on Sunday, and upon its very leaves he wrote his commercial letters.    He  had obtained secretly, this very Saturday night, news and information of the state of the market in England, which would be imparted to others only on Monday morning,  and which enabled him to add some thousands to his property.  Yet his family devotions had never been apparently more fervent than upon this very evening, when his thoughts were far away, busied with commercial speculations.    He  was not, however an  unmittigated hypocrite.    He had  always been prosperous and deceived himself into the conviction, that it was the special blessing of God that crowned all his inferior speculations and his fraudulent gains.  Such persons are not wholly without excuse     The homage that even the most upright pay to success, to wordly prosperity; the kind of acquiescence that even the best accord to prosperous selfishness; the flattering anticipated epitaph, written upon the countenances of all those who approach the man known to have the most avaricious appetites, but attended with ostentatious charities, all these deceive him. They know lie is the toad, ugly and venomous, but they arc dazzled by the jewel borne on his front. All this makes the true heart, the discerning spirit, weep, and fear that the great day of justice is yet afar off.

" The principles of Christian love, the beatitudes, can never influence society while those mean and grovelling propensities are honored and flattered because wealth and luxury attend them. While the man whose heart is moulded from the downtrodden mire, where serpents have hissed, and swine have rooted,  whose intellect, of coarse flint, is only capable of being struck into light by the hope of gain, gilded with the trappings of wealth, is placed on high to receive the homage of the world, while the worshipper of truth, the man of pure, unsullied conscience, is thrust aside, or bears the obloquy of public opinion, such society, whether it be Puritan or orthodox, can never be Christian.

" Mr. Aldersey was not ostentatious in his house or his furniture ; he lived, indeed, rather beneath than above his means; his income constantly accumulated. Ostentation was not then shown in the pride of luxurious living. Boston has retained the stamp that was given it in the first century. Its munificence is displayed at this very day, as it was thirty years after the arrival of the Arbella, in its patriotic and religious charities, rather than in luxurious living."  pp. 22 - 24.
We add the following sketch of Naomi as a fair specimen of the author's manner in her more ambitious passages.

" Beauty is spiritual; the most perfect features are unmeaning until irradiated by the light of the soul,  like those vases which are opaque and indistinct till the light shines from within, when they reveal forms of exquisite beauty. Naomi, when sleeping, possessed that species of beauty that had long informed her features. They were now calm and motionless, like the marble statue that will never awake to life. A noble breadth of forehead, smooth and pale, like the leaf of the camellia, was surrounded by soft brown hair, that had never been festooned or curled, but lay in wavy folds upon the pure marble. Her eyes, now veiled by their lids, were of a deep gray, or blue, or even hazel, according as the light was reflected from them ; they were not brilliant and sparkling, but serious, thoughtful, sometimes sad, and, when fixed earnestly upon one, a mild light seemed burning within them. Her complexion was pale, but not unhealthy ; and the soft but serious mouth disclosed perfect teeth.    No one, on first looking at Naomi, would have thought of her beauty.    The regularity of her features was lost in something more precious.
' A sweet, attractive kind of grace, A full assurance given by looks; Continual comfort in her face, The lineaments of Gospel books.

« Yes it was the full assurance of perfect truth beneath those transparent features that made the charm of her presence. It is a common expression ' as true as the Gospel'; in that sense the word is used above, and we may add that in Naomi it was a true gospel of love, that comforted all who looked upon her.

"There had been few incidents in the life of Naomi. Her chai-actcr had not been formed by external circumstances. Hers was one of those pure poetical souls, that had as yet found no manifestation. They seem made for an age of perfection that does not yet exist Painting has succeeded in representing characters of this kind' in the ea?ly Madonnas of the Catholic Church ; - pure types of nature in humble life, exalted, because theyi have been chosen Poetry has spoilt, by endeavouring to idealize them, forgetting that their essence consists in being simply what they divine.(footnote: This thought is derived from a foreign writter.)

" The fact of Naomi's early orphanhood, the solitude of the heait in which she had been left at the most important period of her arowth, was perhaps the cause that spiritual consciousness instead of external interests pervaded her whole character.    She had never known her father, but to her mother's love and influence her young heart had been completely open.    The early separation from her mot e   had been the misfortune of her life ; for although left with So kindest relatives, the tendrils of the young heart thus torn away from their early support, could not entwine themselves again, but bated loose upon the air.    Solitude and want of companionship, of the interchange of thought upon the most interesting subjects, had formed in the little Naomi habits of reserve and of secret mus-inos in her solitary hours, when her pillow would be wetted with he tears wrung from the lonely heart that longed to love     Not tint si e had not objects of love.    She lived with indulgent friends and in the truest domestic harmony; but hers was a heart that could only surrender to tenderness, and to the most intimate sympathy.    To her absent mother she poured out in her letters the riches of an affluent, of an exquisitely beautiful nature   already overflowing with love and enthusiasm.    But the too fearful mother, °ma«nnin*!n those divine gifts an exaggerated sensibility, and fear-n-the evils and sorrows involved in unrestrained, unguarded affections, did not respond to the ardent, heart-warm expressions of her daughter.    Her letters in return inculcated the cold and guarded precepts of a more mature, even a more worldly experience, throwing over the exuberant blossoms of this young spring of feeling the wet blanket of an April snow, blighting for one season the expanding flower, but strengthening and enriching the plant whose deep roots centred in the rich soil of the heart.

" The solitude in which Naomi lived might have made her a superstitious devotee, or a dreaming enthusiast; but fortunately nature had endowed her with a vigorous reason, a strong good-sense, that prevented her from becoming either the one or the other. But her young heart thirsted for excellence ; she yearned for an unknown, but a possible, goodness, which she found not around her, neither in nature nor in the world, neither in the church nor in society, neither in sermons nor in books. The conception of this ideal goodness was ever before her; but she found it not in herself, and wept that she was never nearer to it than to the rainbow in the horizon. Dwelling as Naomi did upon the things of her own consciousness, she was in danger of sinking'into melancholy, had she not been arrested by a circumstance which we shall soon mention."pp. 28-31.

The circumstance which saved Naomi was being taken by her nurse to hear the fanatic George Fox, before her arrival in Boston. She listened to George, and became, in principle and in heart, a Quaker, but without deeming it necessary to make an open profession of Quakerism. She holds it sufficient to " believe in the heart," without " confessing with the mouth," and so remains outwardly attached to the Puritan body, and passes, even with her friends and relatives, as still a Puritan ;-nay, on arriving in Boston, she makes an open profession of Puritanism, by joining Mr. Wilson's church or meeting. Here is a specimen of what may be called Unitarian morality. Naomi is the author's favorite, and appears to be intended as a model character, at least as a character free from all that is morally or religiously censurable. Yet she can join a church in which she does not believe, and openly profess a creed her heart abhors. Thus it is with our New England Unitarians generally. They accuse Trinitarians of idolatry, and call all who offer supreme religious homage to our crucified Lord idolaters ; and yet they are perfectly willing to commune m sacrts with these same idolaters, and one of their chief complaints against their,so-called "Orthodox" brethren is, that they refuse to commune with Unitarians. What is the difference between an idolater and one who communes with him in his idolatry? Young Buckminster, the author's brother, a Unitarian in his belief, accepted the call to be the pastor of Brattle Street Church, a professedly Trinitarian congregation at the time, without even hinting to them that he rejected the Trinity, and believed it idolatry to honor the Son as the 1< alher. This laxity of moral principle, this readiness to conceal one s own faith or want of faith, when duty requires its distinct avowal, and this willingness to commune in sacris with those who, they themselves have the Gospel, have " another Gospel    and are under anathema, so common and made so light ol on the part of Unitarians, was a great scandal to us while we were a minister of that sect, and led us then, as it leads us now, to distrust the sincerity of its members, or to look upon them as regarding all forms of faith and worship as alike indifferent,  a point to which we could never for a moment really bring our own mind or heart.
Aldersey's housekeeper.    We extract a characteristic passage from the conversation which Naomi and Faith had with Margaret in her place of concealment.

» Naomi and Faith did not leave Margaret to the solitude of her garret; although the state of exaltation in which she was  like the delirium of a person slightly insane, made her totally indifiorcnt to the place in which she dwelt, yet they did not leave her alone.   As soon as Ituth had retired for the night, they resorted to her little room.    At such times, Naomi's pale complexion and the pure outline of her features were defined by the light of the fire, for they dared not take a candle, and this uncertain and varying play ot lierht gave her the form and expression of an angel visitant; and as she sat between the two women, the one burning with heretical zeal, the other shuddering with all the horror and detestation of the times against the heresy, tolerating the heretic only from feelings o humanity, Naomi was indeed what she seemed, a mediating and reconciling spirit.

"The conversation often reverted to the mother country, and to circumstances that occurred there. I have said above, that taith never suspected Naomi's Quaker principles, as there was nothing peculiar in the exterior to betray the secret fountain that fed and refreshed the roots from which sprang the fresh and lovely flowers of her every-day life. One evening, Margaret, led on by reminiscences of home, mentioned the meeting when they had been so much moved by the preaching of George Fox.

"Naomi looked at Faith while she answered, Ah, yes! 1 never can forget what has changed the whole complexion of my character, and given peace to my soul.'

" Faith did not start, nor express any surprise; but she turned very pale, and, looking again at Naomi, she rose to leave the room.

" ' Stay, Faith,' said Naomi; and taking her gently around the waist, she drew her again into her chair. ' You must know it sooner or later,' she added ; ' I, too, am a Quaker,  a Quaker in heart and principle ; but I do not feel compelled, as others do, to proclaim my faith to the world. I am but a babe and a humble learner in this pure belief, and do not yet feel it my privilege to encounter martyrdom.'

" Faith looked at Naomi, as though possessing herself completely of the meaning of her words, and repeated very slowly the words Naomi had used, pausing between every syllable: 4 You are a Quaker in heart and principle, you are a   Quaker------    Ah, well! that cannot be an evil faith, that cannot lead to evil that produces such fruits as I see in you.'

" Faith's plain good-sense and candid disposition had come exactly to the truth ; she had struck the nail upon the head ; illiterate, but true and simple-minded, she had discerned the truth,that could not be bad in itself that cherished and fed with its secret springs the beautiful riches, the lovely graces, of such a character as Naomi's. It was the abuse, the extravagance, the perversion of these pure principles, she thought, that did so much mischief.

" ' Well,' said Margaret, her zeal beginning to kindle ; ' you see what are the fruits of pure Quakerism ; you see them in Miss Naomi; will you not also inquire and be convinced, and join the company of the faithful ?'

" ' No,' said Faith, and she shook her head; * I am content with my own church. It is good enough for me. I must be permitted to go to heaven in the old way. 1 believe it has done very well for everybody since the days of the Apostle Paul. I think it quite unnecessary, to say the least, to give new names to old things ; and, as far as I can see, Miss Naomi's faith produces as good works as Mr. Wilson's, or even our old minister's, whom I remember well, Mr. Cotton ; there never was a holier saint; but I dare say he has met in heaven many that he never expected to welcome there.'

" ' Yes,' said Naomi, ' the paths diverge, but they meet at the gate ; and 0, how many shall we there find with their beautiful robes,  the white robes of seraphs,  who have here sat in the dust and ashes of contempt; who have been turned from the gates of the church ; whom the Pharisees have passed by, shaking their robes as they passed them, lest they should have contracted the taint of heresy !' "  pp. 118 - 120.

We like Faith's answer very well, that she must be permitted to go to heaven in " the old way "; but, poor soul ! she never thought that her " old way " was quite a new way, and only a score or two of years older than Margaret's way.    Yet Mrs. Lee has made no blunder in putting the answer into her mouth.   We remember, that, when a boy of some ten or twelve years old, we felt that we ought to "join the church."    In our neighbourhood we had Methodists, Ckryst-yans, as they called themselves, Universalists, and here and there a Congregation-alist, or member, as the phrase then went, of " the standing order."    Which of these was the true church, and the one we ought to join, was the puzzle for our young brains.    The Methodist minister certainly spoke the loudest, and the fastest ; but the Ckryst-yan had the sweetest voice, and was decidedly the best singer ; while the Universalist appeared to have the most wit, and made us laugh as often as the others made us cry ; - so they seemed to us pretty nearly balanced.    In our perplexity, we went to a good old Congregational lady, and stated the case to her, with the reasons yro and con, as fairly as we could.   She listened patiently till we had finished.    " My child," she replied, " don't join any one of them.   They are all new-comers ; they have come off from the Church, and cannot be it.    The Church is one ; it was founded by Christ and his Apostles ; it has existed ever since, and all that have sprung up since are too young to be the true Church.    They are a new way, and all new ways are false.    You must walk in the old way.    So, my child, you should join the ' standing order.' "   " Yes ; but has the standing order' stood ever since the time of Christ and his Apostles ? "    " You must join it, or you will not join the true Church."    Poor old lady !    She had, if we may so speak, a good major, but a very bad minor; yet her conversation made an impression on our young mind which has never been wholly effaced.    " They are new-comers, and not the Church."   We never forgot that, and for more than twenty years we kept ourselves out of the Church by persuading ourselves that our Lord and his Apostles founded no church, and that it was never intended that Christians should form a peculiar people, a distinct society ; for we had no sooner glanced at history, than we saw clearly enough, that, if our Lord and his Apostles did found a church, the Roman Catholic Church must be the one.

Faith exclaims to Naomi, " That cannot lead to evil that produces such fruits as I see in you." Now, we do not recollect any remarkable fruits Mrs. Lee represents Naomi as having produced. She is a sensible, kind-hearted girl, serious, thoughtful, and free from a large share of the vanities and frivolities of her age and sex, with the good sense to despise Puritanism, and the weakness to conform to it.    This is about the sum of her excellences, and they are nothing more than may result from ordinary sense, moderate education, good breeding, and an amiable disposition. As to roads which diverge, meeting at last at the gate of heaven, we are not quite clear. According to our philosophy, divergents do not meet. Convergents may ultimately come together ; divergents, we should suppose, never. If old John Cotton, the first minister of Boston, ever got to heaven, we make no doubt that he met unexpected company ; but is it certain that he ever got there ? Protestants make a great ado about the canonization of saints by the Church ; but it seems that they can canonize as many as they please, and without any examination into character. Let any old Protestant sinner die, and it shall rarely happen that the sleek gentleman in white cravat and black coat who preaches his funeral sermon will not pronounce him at rest in heaven.
In the progress of the story, the Quakers pour into Boston, and are punished by the magistrates, the ministers urging or consenting. Among others who are taken tip and sentenced is poor Margaret, Naomi's old nurse. She is sentenced " to receive thirty lashes, and to be whipped from town to town at the cart's tail, and then to have her tongue bored with a red-hot iron." Naomi, with a young collegian, a free-thinker, plans a rescue, and succeeds in saving her from the principal part of the punishment ; but is, in consequence, herself after a while accused, tried, condemned, and finally sent out of the country as a heretic, which she certainly was, though no more so than her Puritan judges. We may add, for the satisfaction of one class of our readers, that the young collegian, Herbert Walton, who had assisted in the rescue of Margaret, becomes a Quaker without the garb of the sect, and, after years of separation and trial, meets Naomi once more ; and the kind-hearted authoress concludes her narrative by leaving her "young readers to imagine the bliss that attended his reunion with Naomi."
Let not our readers imagine that they can form any tolerable notion of Naomi from the partial glimpses we have afforded them. We do not claim for Mrs. Lee a rank along with the great modern masters of fiction,  of the domestic, historical, philosophical, or romantic novel,but she is no every-day woman. She possesses rare talents in her way, a rich imagination,  rather too Transcendental, perhaps,  she has read much, and reflected more, and has here given us, not, indeed, a perfect work of art, but a very pleasant historical tale, very readable, which, while it amuses the fancy and rarely offends good taste, gives one a very passable notion of our Puritan ancestors of Boston, and, indeed, of New England, u two hundred years ago." Naomi compares favorably with Hope Leslie, and, in its kind, is not at all inferior to the Wept of Wish-ton-wish. The author is sometimes a little careless in her expression ; but, in general, her style and language are to be commended. Her story is full of incidents, many of them of deep interest ; it is well managed, naturally and gracefully told ; and if we were, like the author, without faith, without worship, suspended between Transcendentalism and Catholicity, we could cheerfully commend it to our readers.

The question as to the proper manner of treating the Quakers who, with their wild fanaticism, came among the Puritans, disturbed  their meetings, scorned their magistracy, and ridiculed or denounced their " godly " ministers, very much resembling Silas Lamson, Abby Folsom, Stephen Foster, and Lloyd Garrison of our own day  was a troublesome question for Bostonians two hundred years ago.    Indeed, the proper method of treating dissenters from their doctrine or worship, and  disorderly persons who  defend their conduct under the plea of conscience, is and always must be a perplexing question for Protestants, no matter of what sect.    Protestants, in order to justify  their  own   separation   from  the Church, are obliged to appeal from authority to the Scriptures interpreted by individual reason, to sentiment, ignorance, or caprice ; and this appeal cannot but be as available for all who choose to dissent from  them as  for themselves.    They cannot assume the authority to punish dissenters, heretics, or fanatics, without condemning themselves, and asserting, as it were. Lynch law.    They have, and  can have, no spiritual  authority ; for they are Protestants only by virtue of protesting against all spiritual authority, and therefore they have no right to take cognizance of any spiritual offence whatever.    Moreover, they are fallible, are unable to decide between truth and falsehood with infallible certainty, and are as  liable to condemn orthodoxy, under the name of heterodoxy, as heterodoxy itself, and,  in fact, even more so ; for error is with them the rule, truth the exception.     Hence, they may, under pretenceof suppressing heresy, persecute the truth, and convert the victims of their justice into martyrs.    Indeed, they must either run the hazard of being persecutors, that is, of punishing as crime  the profession of the true religion, or else recognize  the equal right
of all opinions, and their duty to protect every man in the free profession of any and every set of religious or moral opinions he takes it into his head to embrace. Here is the difficulty. We are far from regarding the Quakers as innocent,  far from feeling that they received, in general, more than their deserts ; but we can conceive of no principle on which the Puritans were or could be justified in punishing them. The murderer should, undoubtedly, be hung, but not by Lynch law,  not save after sentence by the proper tribunal, and then only by the officers legally commissioned to carry the sentence into execution. What we mean is, that, however much the Quakers deserved punishment, the Puritans were, as to themselves, persecutors in punishing them, because they had no right to punish thern. It is this fact that gives to their conduct its peculiarly odious character.

But while we deny to Puritans the right to punish for heresy,  while we hold in utter detestation their treatment of Quakers, Baptists, Antinomians, &c,  we cannot go with the amiable authoress so far as to hold that all opinions are harmless, and that every one who suffers for conscience' sake or opinion's sake is a martyr. As to those who suffer it,  we say not as to the spirit from which it proceeds,  persecution is never persecution, unless directed against those who profess, and for professing, the true religion ; and no man ever is or can be a martyr in the cause of error. Only true religion can have martyrs, false religion can have none ; and before you can call a sufferer for opinion's sake a martyr or a confessor, you must establish the fact, that he suffers, not for error, but for the truth. Not every man who suffers for his opinions, or for what he calls his conscience, deserves for his own sake our sympathy. An atheist, an infidel, for instance, has no conscience ; and a heretic, or a fanatic, has only a false conscience, which, in itself considered, deserves no respect. Opinions, when false, are never sacred, and nothing in the world is less free from blame or more mischievous than false opinions asto religion and morals. While, then, we condemn bigotry, intolerance, persecution, in any and every shape or degree, by whomsoever exhibited, it becomes us to take care ho^ we lavish our sympathies upon errorists, and represent all opinions as harmless, nay, as respectable, as sacred. The sentimen-talism which weeps so bitterly, or whimpers so pathetically, over every sufferer for opinion's sake, so characteristic of our times, like most modern senlimenlalisms, may, in general, be regarded as indicative of a weak head and a perverse heart.

There is prevalent on this subject a great mistake, which it is very important to correct.     The dominant spirit of the age takes it for granted, that whoever, in the political, intellectual, moral, or religious world, resists authority, departs from the old paths, and declares himself the champion of innovation, is necessarily on the   right side,  and  that to oppose him is to oppose God, and to war against truth, morals, faith, and the legitimate interests of mankind.    It is assumed, that whatever is  fixed  is  wrong,  whatever  has  been generally  received   is false, and that whoever would uphold  and defend an existing order is necessarily a tyrant,  instigated by the Devil.    And yet they who so assume hold to the divinity of humanity, to the infallibility of human instincts, the divine right of the multitude, and propose  to  decide  all questions by a majority of voices !                                      

Our modern philanthropists, in all their reasoning, assume, that, if not positively praiseworthy, all opinions which are opposed to moral, religious, and social order are at least innocent.    Nothing is more horrible to a mind rightly constructed, than the punishment of the innocent as guilty.    Assume that all who take up and seek to propagate opinions repugnant to those in authority are innocent, and  it  is easy   to conclude that to punish them is an outrage upon justice and humanity, against which every lover of truth or of mankind should protest with all his energy.    But our philanthropists, before drawing their conclusion, would do well to inquire into their right to  make their assumption.    Opinions which tend to bring all legitimate authority   into   contempt,   to   pervert   conscience,  to  weaken moral  restraints, to loosen  the   bonds  of society,   to   lendei property   and   person   insecure,   and   to   introduce   disorder, ana chy, despotism,-like  those   of   the  Red   Republicans, Communists, Socialists, revolutionists, whether of one country 01  another, - and whose punishment by authority is gravely termed « martyrdom," so far from being innocent, are criminal ; and they who hold and propagate them are criminals of the  deepest die.    However men may suffer for holding and propagating such opinions, they can suffer no more than they deserve.   To magnify them into patriots, heroes, martyrs, is an insult to the common sense of mankind, and would itsell be a c,e deserving a halter, were it not rather an insanity in need o    Strait-jacket.      Instead of sympathizing with these men callin- them sincere, pure-minded, moved by noble and holy Smpufies, and palliating or excusing their licentious and biasphemous words and  deeds, as if mere innocent mistakes, we should look on the other side of the picture, to the rights and interests  of the   peaceable,  orderly,  and virtuous  portion of society,  who are made their victims, and who have at least some claims upon our sympathies.    Woe to the society that lavishes   its  sympathy upon scoundrels, upon criminals, and weeps over the just punishment which outraged law inflicts upon them, and never thinks of the thousands, the millions, of honest and virtuous persons who are ruined by their scoundrel ism, their licentiousness, their iniquity, and their blasphemy !   Woe to society when it is afflicted only because the murderer is doomed to a halter, and never thinks  of the sufferings of the innocent family whose father, mother, son or daughter, sister or brother, he has murdered, whose stay and support, whose all, he may have taken away !    Alas ! our modern society is falling into a wretched state ; and its greatest curse is the miserable men and women whose profession is philanthropy,  who would convert the prison into a palace, and prepare the delicate repast and the luxurious  couch  for the thief, the robber, and the murderer, philanthropists, with their tear-stricken visage, whimpering speech, and  hearts, where the defence of scoundrel-ism is  not the   question,  harder   than   the   nether   millstone. They are the plague-spot on modern society, and deserve the utter detestation of every right-minded and sound-hearted man. Of all modern cants, the cant of philanthropy is the most detestable and the most mischievous.    It is the Devil disguising himself as an angel of light.
Men are not necessarily doomed to error, so far as any of the great and essential principles of religion  and  morals are concerned.    Almighty God has revealed the truth and declared his will, and all men have ample means of knowing it; and if they remain ignorant of it, it is their own fault, for which they are responsible, and will, one day, be called to an  account. Sincerity in error that is persisted in is all moonshine.    Error, on  any question of moral, religious, or social magnitude, is never inevitable, and, when indulged or persisted in, is itself evidence of moral perversity, and should be treated as such. VVicked deeds  are  but the embodiment of wicked thoughts. The understanding is, corrupted through the will, as  the will itself is perverted  through  concupiscence,  base propensities, vicious appetites, and vile lusts.    When you see a man advocating falsehood, promulgating licentious doctrines, and spouting blasphemies, set him down  whatever his exterior deportment in other respects, whatever his professions of sincerity, purity, honesty, benevolence, disinterestedness  as a servant of the Devil, as corrupt in heart, as rolling sin as a sweet morsel under his tongue ; whose mouth is an open sepulchre, and who labors but to ensnare the soul, and people hell with his victims. Weep over his delusion ; weep over his awful depravity ; pray for his conversion ; do all in your power to rescue him from destruction, to save him from the impending wrath of God ; but never think of him as innocent, or feel that, however severely society may punish him, he gets more than his due.

While, then, we condemn all persecution, while we censure, in the strongest terms we can use, the conduct of Protestants in general, and our Puritan ancestors in particular, in presuming to practise violence against individuals for their opinions, we must be careful not to let our detestation of bigotry and intolerance become religious indifference, and lead us to assert that men are not responsible for their opinions, and may innocently hold and propagate the most licentious, blasphemous, and anarchical doctrines, without moral blame. Opinions are deeds, and the parents of deeds ; and let no man entertain the folly uttered by Milton, and Jefferson after him, that error is harmless when truth is free to combat her. No such thing. Error assumes a thousand disguises, and does her mischief before truth can strip them off, and expose her in her nakedness ; and for her mischief men are as responsible as they are for any other mischief they do.