This e-text was prepared from the reprint edition published in 1974 by Berkshire Traveller Press. Copyrighted materials from that edition, including the modern preface and illustrations, are not included.
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Home Life in COLONIAL DAYS
Written by ALICE MORSE EARLE in the year 1898
THE BERKSHIRE TRAVELLER PRESS Stockbridge, Massachusetts
THIS BOOK IS BEGUN AS IT IS ENDED IN MEMORY OF MY MOTHER
The illustrations for this book are in every case from real articles and scenes, usually from those still in existence—rare relics of past days. The pictures are the symbols of years of careful search, patient investigation, and constant watchfulness. Many a curious article as nameless and incomprehensible as the totem of an extinct Indian tribe has been studied, compared, inquired and written about, and finally triumphantly named and placed in the list of obsolete domestic appurtenances. From the lofts of woodsheds, under attic eaves, in dairy cellars, out of old trunks and sea-chests from mouldering warehouses, have strangely shaped bits and combinations of wood, stuff, and metal been rescued and recognized. The treasure stores of Deerfield Memorial Hall, of the Bostonian Society, of the American Antiquarian Society, and many State Historical Societies have been freely searched; and to the officers of these societies I give cordial thanks for their cooeperation and assistance in my work.
The artistic and correct photographic representation of many of these objects I owe to Mr. William F. Halliday of Boston, Massachusetts, Mr. George F. Cook of Richmond, Virginia, and the Misses Allen of Deerfield, Massachusetts. To many friends, and many strangers, who have secured for me single articles or single photographs, I here repeat the thanks already given for their kindness.
There were two constant obstacles in the path: An article would be found and a name given by old-time country folk, but no dictionary contained the word, no printed description of its use or purpose could be obtained, though a century ago it was in every household. Again, some curiously shaped utensil or tool might be displayed and its use indicated; but it was nameless, and it took long inquiry and deduction,—the faculty of "taking a hint,"—to christen it. It is plain that different vocations and occupations had not only implements but a vocabulary of their own, and all have become almost obsolete; to the various terms, phrases, and names, once in general application and use in spinning, weaving, and kindred occupations, and now half forgotten, might be given the descriptive title, a "homespun vocabulary." By definite explanation of these terms many a good old English word and phrase has been rescued from disuse.
ALICE MORSE EARLE.
I. Homes of the Colonists 1
II. The Light of Other Days 32
III. The Kitchen Fireside 52
IV. The Serving of Meals 76
V. Food from Forest and Sea 108
VI. Indian Corn 126
VII. Meat and Drink 142
VIII. Flax Culture and Spinning 166
IX. Wool Culture and Spinning, with a Postscript on Cotton 187
X. Hand-Weaving 212
XI. Girls' Occupations 252
XII. Dress of the Colonists 281
XIII. Jack-knife Industries 300
XIV. Travel, Transportation, and Taverns 325
XV. Sunday in the Colonies 364
XVI. Colonial Neighborliness 388
XVII. Old-time Flower Gardens 421
Home Life in Colonial Days
HOMES OF THE COLONISTS
When the first settlers landed on American shores, the difficulties in finding or making shelter must have seemed ironical as well as almost unbearable. The colonists found a land magnificent with forest trees of every size and variety, but they had no sawmills, and few saws to cut boards; there was plenty of clay and ample limestone on every side, yet they could have no brick and no mortar; grand boulders of granite and rock were everywhere, yet there was not a single facility for cutting, drawing, or using stone. These homeless men, so sorely in need of immediate shelter, were baffled by pioneer conditions, and had to turn to many poor expedients, and be satisfied with rude covering. In Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and, possibly, other states, some reverted to an ancient form of shelter: they became cave-dwellers; caves were dug in the side of a hill, and lived in till the settlers could have time to chop down and cut up trees for log houses. Cornelis Van Tienhoven, Secretary of the Province of New Netherland, gives a description of these cave-dwellings, and says that "the wealthy and principal men in New England lived in this fashion for two reasons: first, not to waste time building; second, not to discourage poorer laboring people." It is to be doubted whether wealthy men ever lived in them in New England, but Johnson, in his Wonder-working Providence, written in 1645, tells of the occasional use of these "smoaky homes." They were speedily abandoned, and no records remain of permanent cave-homes in New England. In Pennsylvania caves were used by newcomers as homes for a long time, certainly half a century. They generally were formed by digging into the ground about four feet in depth on the banks or low cliffs near the river front. The walls were then built up of sods or earth laid on poles or brush; thus half only of the chamber was really under ground. If dug into a side hill, the earth formed at least two walls. The roofs were layers of tree limbs covered over with sod, or bark, or rushes and bark. The chimneys were laid of cobblestone or sticks of wood mortared with clay and grass. The settlers were thankful even for these poor shelters, and declared that they found them comfortable. By 1685 many families were still living in caves in Pennsylvania, for the Governor's Council then ordered the caves to be destroyed and filled in. Sometimes the settler used the cave for a cellar for the wooden house which he built over it.
These cave-dwellings were perhaps the poorest houses ever known by any Americans, yet pioneers, or poor, or degraded folk have used them for homes in America until far more recent days. In one of these miserable habitations of earth and sod in the town of Rutland, Massachusetts, were passed some of the early years of the girlhood of Madame Jumel, whose beautiful house on Washington Heights, New York, still stands to show the contrasts that can come in a single life.
The homes of the Indians were copied by the English, being ready adaptations of natural and plentiful resources. Wigwams in the South were of plaited rush or grass mats; of deerskins pinned on a frame; of tree boughs rudely piled into a cover, and in the far South, of layers of palmetto leaves. In the mild climate of the Middle and Southern states a "half-faced camp," of the Indian form, with one open side, which served for windows and door, and where the fire was built, made a good temporary home. In such for a time, in his youth, lived Abraham Lincoln. Bark wigwams were the most easily made of all; they could be quickly pinned together on a light frame. In 1626 there were thirty home-buildings of Europeans on the island of Manhattan, now New York, and all but one of them were of bark.
Though the settler had no sawmills, brick kilns, or stone-cutters, he had one noble friend,—a firm rock to stand upon,—his broad-axe. With his axe, and his own strong and willing arms, he could take a long step in advance in architecture; he could build a log cabin. These good, comfortable, and substantial houses have ever been built by American pioneers, not only in colonial days, but in our Western and Southern states to the present time. A typical one like many now standing and occupied in the mountains of North Carolina is here shown. Round logs were halved together at the corners, and roofed with logs, or with bark and thatch on poles; this made a comfortable shelter, especially when the cracks between the logs were "chinked" with wedges of wood, and "daubed" with clay. Many cabins had at first no chinking or daubing; one settler while sleeping was scratched on the head by the sharp teeth of a hungry wolf, who thrust his nose into the space between the logs of the cabin. Doors were hung on wooden hinges or straps of hide.
A favorite form of a log house for a settler to build in his first "cut down" in the virgin forest, was to dig a square trench about two feet deep, of dimensions as large as he wished the ground floor of his house, then to set upright all around this trench (leaving a space for a fireplace, window, and door), a closely placed row of logs all the same length, usually fourteen feet long for a single story; if there was a loft, eighteen feet long. The earth was filled in solidly around these logs, and kept them firmly upright; a horizontal band of puncheons, which were split logs smoothed off on the face with the axe, was sometimes pinned around within the log walls, to keep them from caving in. Over this was placed a bark roof, made of squares of chestnut bark, or shingles of overlapping birch-bark. A bark or log shutter was hung at the window, and a bark door hung on withe hinges, or, if very luxurious, on leather straps, completed the quickly made home. This was called rolling-up a house, and the house was called a puncheon and bark house. A rough puncheon floor, hewed flat with an axe or adze, was truly a luxury. One settler's wife pleaded that the house might be rolled up around a splendid flat stump; thus she had a good, firm table. A small platform placed about two feet high alongside one wall, and supported at the outer edge with strong posts, formed a bedstead. Sometimes hemlock boughs were the only bed. The frontier saying was, "A hard day's work makes a soft bed." The tired pioneers slept well even on hemlock boughs. The chinks of the logs were filled with moss and mud, and in the autumn banked up outside with earth for warmth.
These log houses did not satisfy English men and women. They longed to have what Roger Williams called English houses, which were, however, scarcely different in ground-plan. A single room on the ground, called in many old wills the fire-room, had a vast chimney at one end. A so-called staircase, usually but a narrow ladder, led to a sleeping-loft above. Some of those houses were still made of whole logs, but with clapboards nailed over the chinks and cracks. Others were of a lighter frame covered with clapboards, or in Delaware with boards pinned on perpendicularly. Soon this house was doubled in size and comfort by having a room on either side of the chimney.
Each settlement often followed in general outline as well as detail the houses to which the owners had become accustomed in Europe, with, of course, such variations as were necessary from the new surroundings, new climate, and new limitations. New York was settled by the Dutch, and therefore naturally the first permanent houses were Dutch in shape, such as may be seen in Holland to-day. In the large towns in New Netherland the houses were certainly very pretty, as all visitors stated who wrote accounts at that day. Madam Knights visited New York in 1704, and wrote of the houses,—I will give her own words, in her own spelling and grammar, which were not very good, though she was the teacher of Benjamin Franklin, and the friend of Cotton Mather:—
"The Buildings are Brick Generaly very stately and high: the Bricks in some of the houses are of divers Coullers, and laid in Checkers, being glazed, look very agreable. The inside of the houses is neat to admiration, the wooden work; for only the walls are plaster'd; and the Sumers and Gist are planed and kept very white scour'd as so is all the partitions if made of Bords."
The "sumers and gist" were the heavy timbers of the frame, the summer-pieces and joists. The summer-piece was the large middle beam in the middle from end to end of the ceiling; the joists were cross-beams. These were not covered with plaster as nowadays, but showed in every ceiling; and in old houses are sometimes set so curiously and fitted so ingeniously, that they are always an entertaining study. Another traveller says that New York houses had patterns of colored brick set in the front, and also bore the date of building. The Governor's house at Albany had two black brick-hearts. Dutch houses were set close to the sidewalk with the gable-end to the street; and had the roof notched like steps,—corbel-roof was the name; and these ends were often of brick, while the rest of the walls were of wood. The roofs were high in proportion to the side walls, and hence steep; they were surmounted usually in Holland fashion with weather-vanes in the shape of horses, lions, geese, sloops, or fish; a rooster was a favorite Dutch weather-vane. There were metal gutters sticking out from every roof almost to the middle of the street; this was most annoying to passers-by in rainy weather, who were deluged with water from the roofs. The cellar windows had small loop-holes with shutters. The windows were always small; some had only sliding shutters, others had but two panes or quarels of glass, as they were called, which were only six or eight inches square. The front doors were cut across horizontally in the middle into two parts, and in early days were hung on leather hinges instead of iron.
In the upper half of the door were two round bull's-eyes of heavy greenish glass, which let faint rays of light enter the hall. The door opened with a latch, and often had also a knocker. Every house had a porch or "stoep" flanked with benches, which were constantly occupied in the summer time; and every evening, in city and village alike, an incessant visiting was kept up from stoop to stoop. The Dutch farmhouses were a single straight story, with two more stories in the high, in-curving roof. They had doors and stoops like the town houses, and all the windows had heavy board shutters. The cellar and the garret were the most useful rooms in the house; they were store-rooms for all kinds of substantial food. In the cellar were great bins of apples, potatoes, turnips, beets, and parsnips. There were hogsheads of corned beef, barrels of salt pork, tubs of hams being salted in brine, tonnekens of salt shad and mackerel, firkins of butter, kegs of pigs' feet, tubs of souse, kilderkins of lard. On a long swing-shelf were tumblers of spiced fruits, and "rolliches," head-cheese, and strings of sausages—all Dutch delicacies.
In strong racks were barrels of cider and vinegar, and often of beer. Many contained barrels of rum and a pipe of Madeira. What a storehouse of plenty and thrift! What an emblem of Dutch character! In the attic by the chimney was the smoke-house, filled with hams, bacon, smoked beef, and sausages.
In Virginia and Maryland, where people did not gather into towns, but built their houses farther apart, there were at first few sawmills, and the houses were universally built of undressed logs. Nails were costly, as were all articles manufactured of iron, hence many houses were built without iron; wooden pins and pegs were driven in holes cut to receive them; hinges were of leather; the shingles on the roof were sometimes pinned, or were held in place by "weight-timbers." The doors had latches with strings hanging outside; by pulling in the string within-doors the house was securely locked. This form of latch was used in all the colonies. When persons were leaving houses, they sometimes set them on fire in order to gather up the nails from the ashes. To prevent this destruction of buildings, the government of Virginia gave to each planter who was leaving his house as many nails as the house was estimated to have in its frame, provided the owner would not burn the house down.
Some years later, when boards could be readily obtained, the favorite dwelling-place in the South was a framed building with a great stone or log-and-clay chimney at either end. The house was usually set on sills resting on the ground. The partitions were sometimes covered with a thick layer of mud which dried into a sort of plaster and was whitewashed. The roofs were covered with cypress shingles.
Hammond wrote of these houses in 1656, in his Leah and Rachel, "Pleasant in their building, and contrived delightfull; the rooms large, daubed and whitelimed, glazed and flowered; and if not glazed windows, shutters made pretty and convenient."
When prosperity and wealth came through the speedily profitable crops of tobacco, the houses improved. The home-lot or yard of the Southern planters showed a pleasant group of buildings, which would seem the most cheerful home of the colonies, only that all dearly earned homes are cheerful to their owners. There was not only the spacious mansion house for the planter with its pleasant porch, but separate buildings in which were a kitchen, cabins for the negro servants and the overseer, a stable, barn, coach-house, hen-house, smoke-house, dove-cote, and milk-room. In many yards a tall pole with a toy house at top was erected; in this bird-house bee-martins built their nests, and by bravely disconcerting the attacks of hawks and crows, and noisily notifying the family and servants of the approach of the enemy, thus served as a guardian for the domestic poultry, whose home stood close under this protection. There was seldom an ice-house. The only means for the preservation of meats in hot weather was by water constantly pouring into and through a box house erected over the spring that flowed near the house. Sometimes a brew-house was also found in the yard, for making home-brewed beer, and a tool-house for storing tools and farm implements. Some farms had a cider-mill, but this was not in the house yard. Often there was a spinning-house where servants could spin flax and wool. This usually had one room containing a hand-loom on which coarse bagging could be woven, and homespun for the use of the negroes. A very beautiful example of a splendid and comfortable Southern mansion such as was built by wealthy planters in the middle of the eighteenth century has been preserved for us at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington.
Mount Vernon was not so fine nor so costly a house as many others built earlier in the century, such as Lower Brandon—two centuries and a half old—and Upper Brandon, the homes of the Harrisons; Westover, the home of the Byrds; Shirley, built in 1650, the home of the Carters; Sabin Hall, another Carter home, is still standing on the Rappahannock with its various and many quarters and outbuildings, and is a splendid example of colonial architecture.
As the traveller came north from Virginia through Pennsylvania, "the Jerseys," and Delaware, the negro cabins and detached kitchen disappeared, and many of the houses were of stone and mortar. A clay oven stood by each house. In the cities stone and brick were much used, and by 1700 nearly all Philadelphia houses had balconies running the entire length of the second story. The stoop before the door was universal.
For half a century nearly all New England houses were cottages. Many had thatched roofs. Seaside towns set aside for public use certain reedy lots between salt-marsh and low-water mark, where thatch could be freely cut. The catted chimneys were of logs plastered with clay, or platted, that is, made of reeds and mortar; and as wood and hay were stacked in the streets, all the early towns suffered much from fires, and soon laws were passed forbidding the building of these unsafe chimneys; as brick was imported and made, and stone was quarried, there was certainly no need to use such danger-filled materials. Fire-wardens were appointed who peered around in all the kitchens, hunting for what they called foul chimney hearts, and they ordered flag-roofs and wooden chimneys to be removed, and replaced with stone or brick ones. In Boston every housekeeper had to own a fire-ladder; and ladders and buckets were kept in the church. Salem kept its "fire-buckets and hook'd poles" in the town-house. Soon in all towns each family owned fire-buckets made of heavy leather and marked with the owner's name or initials. The entire town constituted the fire company, and the method of using the fire-buckets was this. As soon as an alarm of fire was given by shouts or bell-ringing, every one ran at once towards the scene of the fire. All who owned buckets carried them, and if any person was delayed even for a few minutes, he flung his fire-buckets from the window into the street, where some one in the running crowd seized them and carried them on. On reaching the fire, a double line called lanes of persons was made from the fire to the river or pond, or a well. A very good representation of these lanes is given in this fireman's certificate of the year 1800.
The buckets, filled with water, were passed from hand to hand, up one line of persons to the fire, while the empty ones went down the other line. Boys were stationed on the dry lane. Thus a constant supply of water was carried to the fire. If any person attempted to pass through the line, or hinder the work, he promptly got a bucketful or two of water poured over him. When the fire was over, the fire-warden took charge of the buckets; some hours later the owners appeared, each picked out his own buckets from the pile, carried them home, and hung them up by the front door, ready to be seized again for use at the next alarm of fire.
Many of these old fire-buckets are still preserved, and deservedly are cherished heirlooms, for they represent the dignity and importance due a house-holding ancestor. They were a valued possession at the time of their use, and a costly one, being, made of the best leather. They were often painted not only with the name of the owner, but with family mottoes, crests, or appropriate inscriptions, sometimes in Latin. The leather hand-buckets of the Donnison family of Boston are here shown; those of the Quincy family bear the legend Impavadi Flammarium; those of the Oliver family, Friend and Public. In these fire-buckets were often kept, tightly rolled, strong canvas bags, in which valuables could be thrust and carried from the burning building.
The first fire-engine made in this country was for the town of Boston, and was made about 1650 by Joseph Jencks, the famous old iron-worker in Lynn. It was doubtless very simple in shape, as were its successors until well into this century. The first fire-engine used in Brooklyn, New York, is here shown. It was made in 1785 by Jacob Boome. Relays of men at both handles worked the clumsy pump. The water supply for this engine was still only through the lanes of fire-buckets, except in rare cases.
By the year 1670 wooden chimneys and log houses of the Plymouth and Bay colonies were replaced by more sightly houses of two stories, which were frequently built with the second story jutting out a foot or two over the first, and sometimes with the attic story still further extending over the second story. A few of these are still standing: The White-Ellery House, at Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1707, is here shown. This "overhang" is popularly supposed to have been built for the purpose of affording a convenient shooting-place from which to repel the Indians. This is, however, an historic fable. The overhanging second story was a common form of building in England in the time of Queen Elizabeth, and the Massachusetts and Rhode Island settlers simply and naturally copied their old homes.
The roofs of many of these new houses were steep, and were shingled with hand-riven shingles. The walls between the rooms were of clay mixed with chopped straw. Sometimes the walls were whitened with a wash made of powdered clam-shells. The ground floors were occasionally of earth, but puncheon floors were common in the better houses. The well-smoothed timbers were sanded in careful designs with cleanly beach sand.
By 1676 the Royal Commissioners wrote of Boston that the streets were crooked, and the houses usually wooden, with a few of brick and stone. It is a favorite tradition of brick houses in all the colonies that the brick for them was brought from England. As excellent brick was made here, I cannot believe all these tales that are told. Occasionally a house, such as the splendid Warner Mansion, still standing in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is proved to be of imported brick by the bills which are still existing for the purchase and transportation of the brick. A later form of many houses was two stories or two stories and a half in front, with a peaked roof that sloped down nearly to the ground in the back over an ell covering the kitchen, added in the shape known as a lean-to, or, as it was called by country folk, the linter. This sloping roof gave the one element of unconscious picturesqueness which redeemed the prosaic ugliness of these bare-walled houses. Many lean-to houses are still standing in New England. The Boardman Hill House, built at North Saugus, Massachusetts, two centuries and a half ago, and the two houses of lean-to form, the birthplaces of President John Adams and of President John Quincy Adams, are typical examples.
The next roof-form, built from early colonial days, and popular a century ago, was what was known as the gambrel roof. This resembled, on two sides, the mansard roof of France in the seventeenth century, but was also gabled at two ends. The gambrel roof had a certain grace of outline, especially when joined with lean-tos and other additions. The house partly built in 1636 in Dedham, Massachusetts, by my far-away grandfather, and known as the Fairbanks House, is the oldest gambrel-roofed house now standing. It is still occupied by one of his descendants in the eighth generation. The rear view of it, here given, shows the picturesqueness of roof outlines and the quaintness which comes simply from variety. The front of the main building, with its eight windows, all of different sizes and set at different heights, shows equal diversity. Within, the boards in the wall-panelling vary from two to twenty-five inches in width.
The windows of the first houses had oiled paper to admit light. A colonist wrote back to England to a friend who was soon to follow, "Bring oiled paper for your windows." The minister, Higginson, sent promptly in 1629 for glass for windows. This glass was set in the windows with nails; the sashes were often narrow and oblong, of diamond-shaped panes set in lead, and opening up and down the middle on hinges. Long after the large towns and cities had glass windows, frontier settlements still had heavy wooden shutters. They were a safer protection against Indian assault, as well as cheaper. It is asserted that in the province of Kennebec, which is now the state of Maine, there was not, even as late as 1745, a house that had a square of glass in it. Oiled paper was used until this century in pioneer houses for windows wherever it was difficult to transport glass.
Few of the early houses in New England were painted, or colored, as it was called, either without or within. Painters do not appear in any of the early lists of workmen. A Salem citizen, just previous to the Revolution, had the woodwork of one of the rooms of his house painted. One of a group of friends, discussing this extravagance a few days later, said: "Well! Archer has set us a fine example of expense,—he has laid one of his rooms in oil." This sentence shows both the wording and ideas of the times.
There was one external and suggestive adjunct of the earliest pioneer's home which was found in nearly all the settlements which were built in the midst of threatening Indians. Some strong houses were always surrounded by a stockade, or "palisado," of heavy, well-fitted logs, which thus formed a garrison, or neighborhood resort, in time of danger. In the valley of Virginia each settlement was formed of houses set in a square, connected from end to end of the outside walls by stockades with gates; thus forming a close front. On the James River, on Manhattan Island, were stockades. The whole town plot of Milford, Connecticut, was enclosed in 1645, and the Indians taunted the settlers by shouting out, "White men all same like pigs." At one time in Massachusetts, twenty towns proposed an all-surrounding palisade. The progress and condition of our settlements can be traced in our fences. As Indians disappeared or succumbed, the solid row of pales gave place to a log-fence, which served well to keep out depredatory animals. When dangers from Indians or wild animals entirely disappeared, boards were still not over-plenty, and the strength of the owner could not be over-spent on unnecessary fencing. Then came the double-rail fence; two rails, held in place one above the other, at each joining, by four crossed sticks. It was a boundary, and would keep in cattle. It was said that every fence should be horse-high, bull-proof, and pig-tight. Then came stone walls, showing a thorough clearing and taming of the land. The succeeding "half-high" stone wall—a foot or two high, with a single rail on top—showed that stones were not as plentiful in the fields as in early days. The "snake-fence," or "Virginia fence," so common in the Southern states, utilized the second growth of forest trees. The split-rail fence, four or five rails in height, was set at intervals with posts, pierced with holes to hold the ends of the rails. These were used to some extent in the East; but our Western states were fenced throughout with rails split by sturdy pioneer rail-splitters, among them young Abraham Lincoln. Board fences showed the day of the sawmill and its plentiful supply; the wire fences of to-day equally prove the decrease of our forests and our wood, and the growth of our mineral supplies and manufactures of metals. Thus even our fences might be called historical monuments.
A few of the old block-houses, or garrison houses, the "defensible houses," which were surrounded by these stockades, are still standing. The most interesting are the old Garrison at East Haverhill, Massachusetts, built in 1670; it has walls of solid oak, and brick a foot and a half thick; the Saltonstall House at Ipswich, built in 1633; Cradock Old Fort in Medford, Massachusetts, built in 1634 of brick made on the spot; an old fort at York, Maine; and the Whitefield Garrison House, built in 1639 at Guilford, Connecticut. The one at Newburyport is the most picturesque and beautiful of them all.
As social life in Boston took on a little aspect of court life in the circle gathered around the royal governors, the pride of the wealthy found expression in handsome and stately houses. These were copied and added to by men of wealth and social standing in other towns. The Province House, built in 1679, the Frankland House in 1735, and the Hancock House, all in Boston; the Shirley House in Roxbury, the Wentworth Mansion in New Hampshire, are good examples. They were dignified and simple in form, and have borne the test of centuries,—they wear well. They never erred in over-ornamentation, being scant of interior decoration, save in two or three principal rooms and the hall and staircase. The panelled step ends and soffits, the graceful newels and balusters, of those old staircases hold sway as models to this day.
The same taste which made the staircase the centre of decoration within, made the front door the sole point of ornamentation without; and equal beauty is there focused. Worthy of study and reproduction, many of the old-time front doors are with their fine panels, graceful, leaded side windows, elaborate and pretty fan-lights, and slight but appropriate carving. The prettiest leaded windows I ever saw in an American home were in a thereby glorified hen-house. They had been taken from the discarded front door of a remodelled old Falmouth house. The hens and their owner were not of antiquarian tastes, and relinquished the windows for a machine-made sash more suited to their plebeian tastes and occupations. Many colonial doors had door-latches or knobs of heavy brass; nearly all had a knocker of wrought iron or polished brass, a cheerful ornament that ever seems to resound a welcome to the visitor as well as a notification to the visited.
The knocker from the John Hancock House in Boston and that from the Winslow House in Marshfield are here shown; both are now in the custody of the Bostonian Society, and may be seen at the Old State House in Boston. The latter was given to the society by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes.
The "King-Hooper" House, still standing in Danvers, Massachusetts, closely resembled the Hancock House. This house, built by Robert Hooper in 1754, was for a time the refuge of the royal governor of Massachusetts—Governor Gage; and hence is sometimes called General Gage's Headquarters. When the minute-men marched past the house to Lexington on April 18, 1775, they stripped the lead from the gate-posts. "King Hooper" angrily denounced them, and a minute-man fired at him as he entered the house. The bullet passed through the panel of the door, and the rent may still be seen. Hence the house has been often called The House of the Front Door with the Bullet-Hole. The present owner and occupier of the house, Francis Peabody, Esq., has appropriately named it The Lindens, from the stately linden trees that grace its gardens and lawns.
In riding through those portions of our states that were the early settled colonies, it is pleasant to note where any old houses are still standing, or where the sites of early colonial houses are known, the good taste usually shown by the colonists in the places chosen to build their houses. They dearly loved a "sightly location." An old writer said: "My consayte is such; I had rather not to builde a mansyon or a house than to builde one without a good prospect in it, to it, and from it." In Virginia the houses were set on the river slope, where every passing boat might see them. The New England colonists painfully climbed long, tedious hills, that they might have homes from whence could be had a beautiful view, and this was for the double reason, as the old writer said, that in their new homes they might both see and be seen.
THE LIGHT OF OTHER DAYS
The first and most natural way of lighting the houses of the American colonists, both in the North and South, was by the pine-knots of the fat pitch-pine, which, of course, were found everywhere in the greatest plenty in the forests. Governor John Winthrop the younger, in his communication to the English Royal Society in 1662, said this candle-wood was much used for domestic illumination in Virginia, New York, and New England. It was doubtless gathered everywhere in new settlements, as it has been in pioneer homes till our own day. In Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont it was used till this century. In the Southern states the pine-knots are still burned in humble households for lighting purposes, and a very good light they furnish.
The historian Wood wrote in 1642, in his New England's Prospect:—
"Out of these Pines is gotten the Candlewood that is much spoke of, which may serve as a shift among poore folks, but I cannot commend it for singular good, because it droppeth a pitchy kind of substance where it stands."
That pitchy kind of substance was tar, which was one of the most valuable trade products of the colonists. So much tar was made by burning the pines on the banks of the Connecticut, that as early as 1650 the towns had to prohibit the using of candle-wood for tar-making if gathered within six miles of the Connecticut River, though it could be gathered by families for illumination and fuel.
Rev. Mr. Higginson, writing in 1633, said of these pine-knots:—
"They are such candles as the Indians commonly use, having no other, and they are nothing else but the wood of the pine tree, cloven in two little slices, something thin, which are so full of the moysture of turpentine and pitch that they burne as cleere as a torch."
To avoid having smoke in the room, and on account of the pitchy droppings, the candle-wood was usually burned in a corner of the fireplace, on a flat stone. The knots were sometimes called pine-torches. One old Massachusetts minister boasted at the end of his life that every sermon of the hundreds he had written, had been copied by the light of these torches. Rev. Mr. Newman, of Rehoboth, is said to have compiled his vast concordance of the Bible wholly by the dancing light of this candle-wood. Lighting was an important item of expense in any household of so small an income as that of a Puritan minister; and the single candle was often frugally extinguished during the long family prayers each evening. Every family laid in a good supply of this light wood for winter use, and it was said that a prudent New England farmer would as soon start the winter without hay in his barn as without candle-wood in his woodshed.
Mr. Higginson wrote in 1630: "Though New England has no tallow to make candles of, yet by abundance of fish thereof it can afford oil for lamps." This oil was apparently wholly neglected, though there were few, or no domestic animals to furnish tallow; but when cattle increased, every ounce of tallow was saved as a precious and useful treasure; and as they became plentiful it was one of the household riches of New England, which was of value to our own day. When Governor Winthrop arrived in Massachusetts, he promptly wrote over to his wife to bring candles with her from England when she came. And in 1634 he sent over for a large quantity of wicks and tallow. Candles cost fourpence apiece, which made them costly luxuries for the thrifty colonists.
Wicks were made of loosely spun hemp or tow, or of cotton; from the milkweed which grows so plentifully in our fields and roads to-day the children gathered in late summer the silver "silk-down" which was "spun grossly into candle wicke." Sometimes the wicks were dipped into saltpetre.
Thomas Tusser wrote in England in the sixteenth century in his Directions to Housewifes:—
"Wife, make thine own candle, Spare penny to handle. Provide for thy tallow ere frost cometh in, And make thine own candle ere winter begin."
Every thrifty housewife in America saved her penny as in England. The making of the winter's stock of candles was the special autumnal household duty, and a hard one too, for the great kettles were tiresome and heavy to handle. An early hour found the work well under way. A good fire was started in the kitchen fireplace under two vast kettles, each two feet, perhaps, in diameter, which were hung on trammels from the lug-pole or crane, and half filled with boiling water and melted tallow, which had had two scaldings and skimmings. At the end of the kitchen or in an adjoining and cooler room, sometimes in the lean-to, two long poles were laid from chair to chair or stool to stool. Across these poles were placed at regular intervals, like the rounds of a ladder, smaller sticks about fifteen or eighteen inches long, called candle-rods. These poles and rods were kept from year to year, either in the garret or up on the kitchen beams.
To each candle-rod was attached about six or eight carefully straightened candle-wicks. The wicking was twisted strongly one way; then doubled; then the loop was slipped over the candle-rod, when the two ends, of course, twisted the other way around each other, making a firm wick. A rod, with its row of wicks, was dipped in the melted tallow in the pot, and returned to its place across the poles. Each row was thus dipped in regular turn; each had time to cool and harden between the dips, and thus grew steadily in size. If allowed to cool fast, they of course grew quickly, but were brittle, and often cracked. Hence a good worker dipped slowly, but if the room was fairly cool, could make two hundred candles for a day's work. Some could dip two rods at a time. The tallow was constantly replenished, as the heavy kettles were used alternately to keep the tallow constantly melted, and were swung off and on the fire. Boards or sheets of paper were placed under the rods to protect the snowy, scoured floors.
Candles were also run in moulds which were groups of metal cylinders, usually made of tin or pewter. Itinerant candle-makers went from house to house, taking charge of candle-making in the household, and carrying large candle-moulds with them. One of the larger size, making two dozen candles, is here shown; but its companion, the smaller mould, making six candles, is such as were more commonly seen. Each wick was attached to a wire or a nail placed across the open top of the cylinder, and hung down in the centre of each individual mould. The melted tallow was poured in carefully around the wicks.
Wax candles also were made. They were often shaped by hand, by pressing bits of heated wax around a wick. Farmers kept hives of bees as much for the wax as for the honey, which was of much demand for sweetening, when "loaves" of sugar were so high-priced. Deer suet, moose fat, bear's grease, all were saved in frontier settlements, and carefully tried into tallow for candles. Every particle of grease rescued from pot liquor, or fat from meat, was utilized for candle-making. Rushlights were made by stripping part of the outer bark from common rushes, thus leaving the pith bare, then dipping them in tallow or grease, and letting them harden.
The precious candles thus tediously made were taken good care of. They were carefully packed in candle-boxes with compartments; were covered over, and set in a dark closet, where they would not discolor and turn yellow. A metal candle-box, hung on the edge of the kitchen mantel-shelf, always held two or three candles to replenish those which burnt out in the candlesticks.
A natural, and apparently inexhaustible, material for candles was found in all the colonies in the waxy berries of the bayberry bush, which still grows in large quantities on our coasts. In the year 1748 a Swedish naturalist, Professor Kalm, came to America, and he wrote an account of the bayberry wax which I will quote in full:—
"There is a plant here from the berries of which they make a kind of wax or tallow, and for that reason the Swedes call it the tallow-shrub. The English call the same tree the candle-berry tree or bayberry bush; it grows abundantly in a wet soil, and seems to thrive particularly well in the neighborhood of the sea. The berries look as if flour had been strewed on them. They are gathered late in Autumn, being ripe about that time, and are thrown into a kettle or pot full of boiling water; by this means their fat melts out, floats at the top of the water, and may be skimmed off into a vessel; with the skimming they go on till there is no tallow left. The tallow, as soon as it is congealed, looks like common tallow or wax, but has a dirty green color. By being melted over and refined it acquires a fine and transparent green color. This tallow is dearer than common tallow, but cheaper than wax. Candles of this do not easily bend, nor melt in summer as common candles do; they burn better and slower, nor do they cause any smoke, but yield rather an agreeable smell when they are extinguished. In Carolina they not only make candles out of the wax of the berries, but likewise sealing-wax."
Beverley, the historian of Virginia, wrote of the smell of burning bayberry tallow:—
"If an accident puts a candle out, it yields a pleasant fragrancy to all that are in the room; insomuch that nice people often put them out on purpose to have the incense of the expiring snuff."
Bayberry wax was not only a useful home-product, but an article of traffic till this century, and was constantly advertised in the newspapers. In 1712, in a letter written to John Winthrop, F.R.S., I find:—
"I am now to beg one favour of you,—that you secure for me all the bayberry wax you can possibly put your hands on. You must take a care they do not put too much tallow among it, being a custom and cheat they have got."
Bayberries were of enough importance to have some laws made about them. Everywhere on Long Island grew the stunted bushes, and everywhere they were valued. The town of Brookhaven, in 1687, forbade the gathering of the berries before September 15, under penalty of fifteen shillings' fine.
The pungent and unique scent of the bayberry, equally strong in leaf and berry, is to me one of the elements of the purity and sweetness of the air of our New England coast fields in autumn. It grows everywhere, green and cheerful, in sun-withered shore pastures, in poor bits of earth on our rocky coast, where it has few fellow field-tenants to crowd the ground. It is said that the highest efforts of memory are stimulated through our sense of smell, by the association of ideas with scents. That of bayberry, whenever I pass it, seems to awaken in me an hereditary memory, to recall a life of two centuries ago. I recall the autumns of trial and of promise in our early history, and the bayberry fields are peopled with children in Puritan garb, industriously gathering the tiny waxen fruit. Equally full of sentiment is the scent of my burning bayberry candles, which were made last autumn in an old colony town.
The history of whale-fishing in New England is the history of one of the most fascinating commercial industries the world has ever known. It is a story with every element of intense interest, showing infinite romance, adventure, skill, courage, and fortitude. It brought vast wealth to the communities that carried on the fishing, and great independence and comfort to the families of the whalers. To the whalemen themselves it brought incredible hardships and dangers, yet they loved the life with a love which is strange to view and hard to understand. In the oil made from these "royal fish" the colonists found a vast and cheap supply for their metal and glass lamps; while the toothed whales had stored in their blunt heads a valuable material which was at once used for making candles; it is termed, in the most ancient reference I have found to it in New England records, Sperma-Coeti.
It was asserted that one of these spermaceti candles gave out more light than three tallow candles, and had four times as big a flame. Soon their manufacture and sale amounted to large numbers, and materially improved domestic illumination.
All candles, whatever their material, were carefully used by the economical colonists to the last bit by a little wire frame of pins and rings called a save-all. Candle-sticks of various metals and shapes were found in every house; and often sconces, which were also called candle-arms, or prongs. Candle-beams were rude chandeliers, a metal or wooden hoop with candle-holders. Snuffers were always seen, with which to trim the candles, and snuffers trays. These were sometimes exceedingly richly ornamented, and were often of silver: extinguishers often accompanied the snuffers.
Though lamps occasionally appear on early inventories and lists of sales, and though there was plenty of whale and fish oil to burn, lamps were not extensively used in America for many years. "Betty-lamps," shaped much like antique Roman lamps, were the earliest form. They were small, shallow receptacles, two or three inches in diameter and about an inch in depth; either rectangular, oval, round, or triangular in shape, with a projecting nose or spout an inch or two long. They usually had a hook and chain by which they could be hung on a nail in the wall, or on the round in the back of a chair; sometimes there was also a smaller hook for cleaning out the nose of the lamp. They were filled with tallow, grease, or oil, while a piece of cotton rag or coarse wick was so placed that, when lighted, the end hung out on the nose. From this wick, dripping dirty grease, rose a dull, smoky, ill-smelling flame.
Phoebe-lamps were similar in shape; though some had double wicks, that is, a nose at either side. Three betty-lamps are shown in the illustration: all came from old colonial houses. The iron lamp, solid with the accumulated grease of centuries, was found in a Virginia cabin; the rectangular brass lamp came from a Dutch farmhouse; and the graceful oval brass lamp from a New England homestead.
Pewter was a favorite material for lamps, as it was for all other domestic utensils. It was specially in favor for the lamps for whale oil and the "Porter's fluid," that preceded our present illuminating medium, petroleum. A rare form is the pewter lamp here shown. It is in the collection of ancient lamps, lanterns, candlesticks, etc., owned by Mrs. Samuel Bowne Duryea, of Brooklyn. It came from a Salem home, where it was used as a house-lantern. With its clear bull's-eyes of unusually pure glass, it gave what was truly a brilliant light for the century of its use. A group of old pewter lamps, of the shapes commonly used in the homes of our ancestors a century or so ago, is also given; chosen, not because they were unusual or beautiful, but because they were universal in their use.
The lamps of Count Rumford's invention were doubtless a great luxury, with their clear steady light; but they were too costly to be commonly seen in our grandfathers' homes. Nor were Argand burners ever universal. Glass lamps of many simple shapes shared popularity for a long time with the pewter lamps; and as pewter gradually disappeared from household use, these glass lamps monopolized the field. They were rarely of cut or colored glass, but were pressed glass of commonplace form and quality. A group of them is here given which were all used in old New England houses in the early part of this century.
For many years the methods of striking a light were very primitive, just as they were in Europe; many families possessed no adequate means, or very imperfect ones. If by ill fortune the fire in the fireplace became wholly extinguished through carelessness at night, some one, usually a small boy, was sent to the house of the nearest neighbor, bearing a shovel or covered pan, or perhaps a broad strip of green bark, on which to bring back coals for relighting the fire. Nearly all families had some form of a flint and steel,—a method of obtaining fire which has been used from time immemorial by both civilized and uncivilized nations. This always required a flint, a steel, and a tinder of some vegetable matter to catch the spark struck by the concussion of flint and steel. This spark was then blown into a flame. Among the colonists scorched linen was a favorite tinder to catch the spark of fire; and till this century all the old cambric handkerchiefs, linen underwear, and worn sheets of a household were carefully saved for this purpose. The flint, steel, and tinder were usually kept together in a circular tinder-box, such as is shown in the accompanying illustration; it was a shape universal in England and America. This had an inner flat cover with a ring, a flint, a horseshoe-shaped steel, and an upper lid with a place to set a candle-end in, to carry the newly acquired light. Though I have tried hundreds of times with this tinder-box, I have never yet succeeded in striking a light. The sparks fly, but then the operation ceases in modern hands. Charles Dickens said if you had good luck, you could get a light in half an hour. Soon there was an improvement on this tinder-box, by which sparks were obtained by spinning a steel wheel with a piece of cord, somewhat like spinning a humming top, and making the wheel strike a flint fixed in the side of a little trough full of tinder. This was an infinite advance in convenience on tinder-box No. 1. This box was called in the South a mill; one is here shown. Then some person invented strips of wood dipped in sulphur and called "spunks." These readily caught fire, and retained it, and were handy to carry light to a candle or pile of chips.
Another way of starting a fire was by flashing a little powder in the pan of an old-fashioned gun; sometimes this fired a twist of tow, which in turn started a heap of shavings.
Down to the time of our grandfathers, and in some country homes of our fathers, lights were started with these crude elements,—flint, steel, tinder,—and transferred by the sulphur splint; for fifty years ago matches were neither cheap nor common.
Though various processes for lighting in which sulphur was used in a match shape, were brought before the public at the beginning of this century, they were complicated, expensive, and rarely seen. The first practical friction matches were "Congreves," made in England in 1827. They were thin strips of wood or cardboard coated with sulphur and tipped with a mixture of mucilage, chlorate of potash, and sulphide of antimony. Eighty-four of them were sold in a box for twenty-five cents, with a piece of "glass-paper" through which the match could be drawn. There has been a long step this last fifty years between the tinder-box used so patiently for two centuries, and the John Jex Long match-making machine of our times, which turns out seventeen million matches a day.
THE KITCHEN FIRESIDE
The kitchen in all the farmhouses of all the colonies was the most cheerful, homelike, and picturesque room in the house; indeed, it was in town houses as well. The walls were often bare, the rafters dingy; the windows were small, the furniture meagre; but the kitchen had a warm, glowing heart that spread light and welcome, and made the poor room a home. In the houses of the first settlers the chimneys and fireplaces were vast in size, sometimes so big that the fore-logs and back-logs for the fire had to be dragged in by a horse and a long chain; or a hand-sled was kept for the purpose. Often there were seats within the chimney on either side. At night children could sit on these seats and there watch the sparks fly upward and join the stars which could plainly be seen up the great chimney-throat.
But as the forests disappeared under the waste of burning for tar, for potash, and through wanton clearing, the fireplaces shrank in size; and Benjamin Franklin, even in his day, could write of "the fireplaces of our fathers."
The inflammable catted chimney of logs and clay, hurriedly and readily built by the first settlers, soon gave place in all houses to vast chimneys of stone, built with projecting inner ledges, on which rested a bar about six or seven or even eight feet from the floor, called a lug-pole (lug meaning to carry) or a back-bar; this was made of green wood, and thus charred slowly—but it charred surely in the generous flames of the great chimney heart. Many annoying, and some fatal accidents came from the collapsing of these wooden back-bars. The destruction of a dinner sometimes was attended with the loss of a life. Later the back-bars were made of iron. On them were hung iron hooks or chains with hooks of various lengths called pothooks, trammels, hakes, pot-hangers, pot-claws, pot-clips, pot-brakes, pot-crooks. Mr. Arnold Talbot, of Providence, Rhode Island, has folding trammels, nine feet long, which were found in an old Narragansett chimney heart. Gibcrokes and recons were local and less frequent names, and the folks who in their dialect called the lug-pole a gallows-balke called the pothooks gallows-crooks. On these hooks pots and kettles could be hung at varying heights over the fire. The iron swinging-crane was a Yankee invention of a century after the first settlement, and it proved a convenient and graceful substitute for the back-bar.
Some Dutch houses had an adaptation of a Southern method of housekeeping in the use of a detached house called a slave-kitchen, where the meals of the negro house and farm servants were cooked and served. The slave-kitchen of the old Bergen homestead stood unaltered till within a few years on Third Avenue in Brooklyn. It still exists in a dismantled condition. Its picture plainly shows the stone ledges within the fireplace, the curved iron lug-pole, and hanging pothooks and trammels. With ample fire of hickory logs burning on the hearthstone, and the varied array of primitive cooking-vessels steaming with savory fare, a circle of laughing, black faces shining with the glowing firelight and hungry anticipation, would make a "Dutch interior" of American form and shaping as picturesque and artistic as any of Holland. The fireplace itself sometimes went by the old English name, clavell-piece, as shown by the letters of John Wynter, written from Maine in 1634 to his English home. "The Chimney is large, with an oven at each end of him: he is so large that wee can place our Cyttle within the Clavell-piece. Wee can brew and bake and boyl our Cyttle all at once in him." Often a large plate of iron, called the fire-back or fire-plate, was set at the back of the chimney, where the constant and fierce fire crumbled brick and split stone. These iron backs were often cast in a handsome design.
In New York the chimneys and fireplaces were Dutch in shape; the description given by a woman traveller at the end of the seventeenth century ran thus:—
"The chimney-places are very droll-like: they have no jambs nor lintell as we have, but a flat grate, and there projects over it a lum in the form of the cat-and-clay lum, and commonly a muslin or ruffled pawn around it."
The "ruffled pawn" was a calico or linen valance which was hung on the edge of the mantel-shelf, a pretty and cheerful fashion seen in some English as well as Dutch homes.
Another Dutch furnishing, the alcove bedstead, much like a closet, seen in many New York kitchens, was replaced in New England farm-kitchens by the "turn-up" bedstead. This was a strong frame filled with a network of rope which was fastened at the bed-head by hinges to the wall. By night the foot of the bed rested on two heavy legs; by day the frame with its bed furnishings was hooked up to the wall, and covered with homespun curtains or doors. This was the sleeping-place of the master and mistress of the house, chosen because the kitchen was the warmest room in the house. One of these "turn-up" bedsteads which was used in the Sheldon homestead until this century may be seen in Deerfield Memorial Hall.
Over the fireplace and across the top of the room were long poles on which hung strings of peppers, dried apples, and rings of dried pumpkin. And the favorite resting-place for the old queen's-arm or fowling-piece was on hooks over the kitchen fireplace.
On the pothooks and trammels hung what formed in some households the costliest house-furnishing,—the pots and kettles. The Indians wished their brass kettles buried with them as a precious possession, and the settlers equally valued them; often these kettles were worth three pounds apiece. In many inventories of the estates of the settlers the brass-ware formed an important item. Rev. Thomas Hooker of Hartford had brass-ware which, in the equalizing of values to-day, would be worth three or four hundred dollars. The great brass and copper kettles often held fifteen gallons. The vast iron pot—desired and beloved of every colonist—sometimes weighed forty pounds, and lasted in daily use for many years. All the vegetables were boiled together in these great pots, unless some very particular housewife had a wrought-iron potato-boiler to hold potatoes or any single vegetable in place within the vast general pot.
Chafing-dishes and skimmers of brass and copper were also cheerful discs to reflect the kitchen firelight.
Very little tin was seen, either for kitchen or table utensils. Governor Winthrop had a few tin plates, and some Southern planters had tin pans, others "tynnen covers." Tin pails were unknown; and the pails they did own, either of wood, brass, or other sheet metal, had no bails, but were carried by thrusting a stick through little ears on either side of the pail. Latten ware was used instead of tin; it was a kind of brass. A very good collection of century-old tinware is shown in the illustration. By a curious chance this tinware lay unpacked for over ninety years in the attic loft of a country warehouse, in the packing-box, just as it was delivered from an English ship at the close of the Revolution. The pulling down of the warehouse disclosed the box, with its dated labels. The tin utensils are more gayly lacquered than modern ones, otherwise they differ little from the tinware of to-day.
There was one distinct characteristic in the house-furnishing of olden times which is lacking to-day. It was a tendency for the main body of everything to set well up, on legs which were strong enough for adequate support of the weight, yet were slender in appearance. To-day bureaus, bedsteads, cabinets, desks, sideboards, come close to the floor; formerly chests of drawers, Chippendale sideboards, four-post bedsteads, dressing-cases, were set, often a foot high, in a tidy, cleanly fashion; thus they could all be thoroughly swept under. This same peculiarity of form extended to cooking-utensils. Pots and kettles had legs, as shown in those hanging in the slave-kitchen fireplace; gridirons had legs, skillets had legs; and further appliances in the shape of trivets, which were movable frames, took the place of legs. The necessity for the stilting up of cooking-utensils was a very evident one; it was necessary to raise the body of the utensil above the ashes and coals of the open fireplace. If the bed of coals and burning logs were too deep for the skillet or pot-legs, then the utensil must be hung from above by the ever-ready trammel.
Often in the corner of the fireplace there stood a group of trivets, or three-legged stands, of varying heights, through which the exactly desired proximity to the coals could be obtained.
Even toasting-forks, and similar frail utensils of wire or wrought iron, stood on tall, spindling legs, or were carefully shaped to be set up on trivets. They usually had, also, long, adjustable handles, which helped to make endurable the blazing heat of the great logs. All such irons as waffle-irons had far longer handles than are seen on any cooking-utensils in these days of stoves and ranges, where the flames are covered and the housewife shielded. Gridirons had long handles of wood or iron, which could be fastened to the shorter stationary handles. The two gridirons in the accompanying illustration are a century old. The circular one was the oldest form. The oblong ones, with groove to collect the gravy, did not vary in shape till our own day. Both have indications of fittings for long handles, but the handles have vanished. A long-handled frying-pan is seen hanging by the side of the slave-kitchen fireplace.
An accompaniment of the kitchen fireplace, found, not in farmhouses, but among luxury-loving town-folk, was the plate-warmer. They are seldom named in inventories, and I know of but one of Revolutionary days, and it is here shown. Similar ones are manufactured to-day; the legs, perhaps, are shorter, but the general outline is the same.
An important furnishing of every fireplace was the andirons. In kitchen fireplaces these were usually of iron, and the shape known as goose-neck were common. Cob irons were the simplest form, and merely supported the spit; sometimes they had hooks to hold a dripping-pan. A common name for the kitchen andirons was fire-dogs; and creepers were low, small andirons, usually used with the tall fire-dogs. The kitchen andirons were simply for use to help hold the logs and cooking-utensils. But other fireplaces had handsome fire-dogs of copper, brass, or cut steel, cast or wrought in handsome devices. These were a pride and delight to the housewife.
A primitive method of roasting a joint of meat or a fowl was by suspending it in front of the fire by a strong hempen string tied to a peg in the ceiling, while some one—usually an unwilling child—occasionally turned the roast around. Sometimes the sole turnspit was the housewife, who, every time she basted the roast, gave the string a good twist, and thereafter it would untwist, and then twist a little again, and so on until the vibration ceased, when she again basted and started it. As the juices sometimes ran down in the roast and left the upper part too dry, a "double string-roaster" was invented, by which the equilibrium of the joint could be shifted. A jack was a convenient and magnified edition of the primitive string, being a metal suspensory machine. A still further glorification was the addition of a revolving power which ran by clockwork and turned the roast with regularity; this was known as a clock-jack. The one here shown hangs in the fireplace in Deerfield Memorial Hall. A smoke-jack was run somewhat irregularly by the pressure of smoke and the current of hot air in the chimney. These were noisy and creaking and not regarded with favor by old-fashioned cooks.
We are apt to think of the turnspit dog as a creature of European life, but we had them here in America—little low, bow-legged, patient souls, trained to run in a revolving cylinder and keep the roasting joint a-turn before the fire. Mine host Clark of the State House Inn in Philadelphia in the first half of the eighteenth century advertised in Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette that he had for sale "several dogs and wheels, much preferable to any jacks for roasting any joints of meat." I hope neither he nor any one else had many of these little canine slaves.
A frequent accompaniment of the kitchen fireplace in the eighteenth century, and a domestic luxury seen in well-to-do homes, was the various forms of the "roasting-kitchen," or Dutch oven. These succeeded the jacks; they were a box-like arrangement open on one side which when in use was turned to the fire. Like other utensils of the day, they often stood up on legs, to bring the open side before the blaze. A little door at the back could be opened for convenience in basting the roast. These kitchens came in various sizes for roasting birds or joints, and in them bread was occasionally baked. The bake-kettle, which in some communities was also called a Dutch oven, was preferred for baking bread. It was a strong kettle, standing, of course, on stout, stumpy legs, and when in use was placed among the hot coals and closely covered with a strong metal, convex cover, on which coals were also closely heaped. Such perfect rolls, such biscuit, such shortcake, as issued from the heaped-up bake-kettle can never be equalled by other methods of cooking.
When the great stone chimney was built, there was usually placed on one side of the kitchen fireplace a brick oven which had a smoke uptake into the chimney—and-an ash-pit below. The great door was of iron. This oven was usually heated once a week. A great fire of dry wood, called oven wood, was kindled within it and kept burning fiercely for some hours. This thoroughly heated all the bricks. The coals and ashes were then swept out, the chimney draught closed, and the oven filled with brown bread, pies, pots of beans, etc. Sometimes the bread was baked in pans, sometimes it was baked in a great mass set on cabbage leaves or oak leaves. In some towns an autumn harvest of oak leaves was gathered by children to use throughout the winter. The leaves were strung on sticks. This gathering was called going a-leafing.
By the oven side was always a long-handled shovel known as a peel or slice, which sometimes had a rack or rest to hold it; this implement was a necessity in order to place the food well within the glowing oven. The peel was sprinkled with meal, great heaps of dough were placed thereon, and by a dexterous twist they were thrown on the cabbage or oak leaves. A bread peel was a universal gift to a bride; it was significant of domestic utility and plenty, and was held to be luck-bearing. On Thanksgiving week the great oven had a fire built in it every morning, and every night it was well filled and closed till morning.
On one side of the kitchen often stood a dresser, on which was placed in orderly rows the cheerful pewter and scant earthenware of the household:—
"——the room was bright With glimpses of reflected light, From plates that on the dresser shone."
In Dutch households plate-racks, spoon-racks, knife-racks,—all hanging on the wall,—took the place of the New England dresser.
In the old Phillips farmhouse at Wickford, Rhode Island, is a splendid chimney over twenty feet square. So much room does it occupy that there is no central staircase, but little winding stairs ascend at three corners of the house. In the vast fireplace an ox could literally have been roasted. On each chimney-piece are hooks to hang firearms, and at one side curious little drawers are set for pipes and tobacco. In some Dutch houses in New York these tobacco shelves are in the entry, over the front door, and a narrow flight of three or four steps leads up to them. Hanging on a nail alongside the tobacco drawer, or shelf, would usually be seen a pipe-tongs, or smoking-tongs. They were slender little tongs, usually of iron or steel; with them the smoker lifted a coal from the fireplace to light his pipe. The tongs owned and used by Captain Joshua Wingate, of Hampton, New Hampshire, who lived from 1679 to 1769, are here shown. The handle is unlike any other I have seen, having one end elongated, knobbed, and ingeniously bent S-shaped into convenient form to press down the tobacco into the bowl of the pipe. Other old-time pipe-tongs were in the form of lazy-tongs. A companion of the pipe-tongs on the kitchen mantel was what was known as a comfortier—a little brazier of metal in which small coals could be handed about for pipe-lighting. An unusual luxury was a comfortier of silver. These were found among the Dutch settlers.
The Pennsylvania Germans were the first to use stoves. These were of various shapes. A curious one, seen in houses and churches, was of sheet-metal, box-shaped; three sides were within the house, and the fourth, with the stove door, outside the house. Thus what was really the back of the stove projected into the room, and when the fire was fed it was necessary for the tender to go out of doors. These German stoves and hot-air drums, which heated the second story of the house, were ever a fresh wonder to travellers of English birth and descent in Pennsylvania. There is no doubt that their evident economy and comfort suggested to Benjamin Franklin the "New Pennsylvania Fireplace," which he invented in 1742, in which both wood and coal could be used, and which was somewhat like the heating apparatus which we now call a Franklin stove, or heater.
Thus German settlers had, in respect to heating, the most comfortable homes of all the colonies. Among the English settlers the kitchen was, too often, the only comfortable room in the house in winter weather. Indeed, the discomforts and inconveniences of a colonial home could scarcely be endured to-day; of course these culminated in the winter time, when icy blasts blew fiercely down the great chimneys, and rattled the loosely fitting windows. Children suffered bitterly in these cold houses. The rooms were not warm three feet away from the blaze of the fire. Cotton Mather and Judge Samuel Sewall both tell, in their diaries, of the ink freezing in their pens as they wrote within the chimney-side. One noted that, when a great fire was built on the hearth, the sap forced out of the wood by the flames froze into ice at the end of the logs. The bedrooms were seldom warmed, and had it not been for the deep feather beds and heavy bed-curtains, would have been unendurable. In Dutch and some German houses, with alcove bedsteads, and sleeping on one feather bed, with another for cover, the Dutch settlers could be far warmer than any English settlers, even in four-post bedsteads curtained with woollen.
Water froze immediately if left standing in bedrooms. One diary, written in Marshfield, Massachusetts, tells of a basin of water standing on the bedroom hearth, in front of a blazing fire, in which the water froze solid. President John Adams so dreaded the bleak New England winter and the ill-warmed houses that he longed to sleep like a dormouse every year, from autumn to spring. In the Southern colonies, during the fewer cold days of the winter months, the temperature was not so low, but the houses were more open and lightly built than in the North, and were without cellars, and had fewer fireplaces; hence the discomfort from the cold was as great, if not the positive suffering.
The first chilling entrance into the ice-cold bed of a winter bedroom was sometimes mitigated by heating the inner sheets with a warming-pan. This usually hung by the side of the kitchen fireplace, and when used was filled with hot coals, and thrust within the bed, and constantly and rapidly moved back and forth to keep from scorching the bed-linen. The warming-pan was a circular metal pan about a foot in diameter, four or five inches deep, with a long wooden handle and a perforated metal cover, usually of copper or brass, which was kept highly polished, and formed, as it hung on the wall, one of the cheerful kitchen discs to reflect the light of the glowing fire. The warming-pan has been deemed of sufficient decorative capacity to make it eagerly sought after by collectors, and a great room of one of these collectors is hung entirely around the four walls with a frieze of warming-pans.
Many of our New England poets have given us glimpses in rhyme of the old-time kitchen. Lowell's well-known lines are vivid enough to bear never-dying quotation:—
"A fireplace filled the rooms one side With half a cord of wood in— There warn't no stoves (tell comfort died) To bake ye to a puddin'.
"The wa'nut log shot sparkles out Towards the pootiest—bless her! An' little flames danced all about The chiny on the dresser.
"Agin the crumbly crooknecks hung, An' in amongst 'em rusted The old queen's-arm that granther Young Fetched back from Concord busted."
To me the true essence of the old-time fireside is found in Whittier's Snow-Bound. The very chimney, fireplace, and hearthstone of which his beautiful lines were written, the kitchen of Whittier's boyhood's home, at East Haverhill, Massachusetts, is shown in the accompanying illustration. It shows a swinging crane. His description of the "laying the fire" can never be equalled by any prose:—
"We piled with care our nightly stack Of wood against the chimney back— The oaken log, green, huge, and thick, And on its top the stout back-stick; The knotty fore-stick laid apart, And filled between with curious art The ragged brush; then hovering near, We watched the first red blaze appear, Heard the sharp crackle, caught the gleam On whitewashed wall and sagging beam, Until the old, rude-furnished room Burst, flower-like, into rosy bloom."
No greater picture of homely contentment could be shown than the following lines:—
"Shut in from all the world without, We sat the clean-winged hearth about, Content to let the north wind roar In baffled rage at pane and door, While the red logs before us beat The frost-line back with tropic heat; And ever, when a louder blast Shook beam and rafter as it passed, The merrier up its roaring draught The great throat of the chimney laughed. The house dog on his paws outspread Laid to the fire his drowsy head, The cat's dark silhouette on the wall A couchant tiger's seemed to fall; And, for the winter fireside meet, Between the andirons' straddling feet The mug of cider simmered slow, And apples sputtered in a row. And, close at hand, the basket stood With nuts from brown October's woods. What matter how the night behaved! What matter how the north wind raved! Blow high, blow low, not all its snow Could quench our hearth-fire's ruddy glow."
Nor can the passing of years dim the ruddy glow of that hearth-fire, nor the charm of the poem. The simplicity of metre, the purity of wording, the gentle sadness of some of its expressions, make us read between the lines the deep and affectionate reminiscence with which it was written.
THE SERVING OF MEALS
Perhaps no greater difference exists between any mode of the olden times and that of to-day, than can be seen in the manner of serving the meals of the family. In the first place, the very dining-table of the colonists was not like our present ones; it was a long and narrow board, sometimes but three feet wide, with no legs attached to it. It was laid on supports or trestles, shaped usually something like a saw-horse. Thus it was literally a board, and was called a table-board, and the linen cover used at meals was not called a tablecloth, but a board-cloth or board-clothes.
As smoothly sawed and finished boards were not so plentiful at first in the colonies as might naturally be thought when we remember the vast encircling forests, all such boards were carefully treasured, and used many times to avoid sawing others by the tedious and wearying process of pit-sawing. Hence portions of packing-boxes, or chests which had carried stores from England to the colonies, were made into table-boards. One such oaken table-board, still in existence, has on the under side in quaint lettering the name and address of the Boston settler to whom the original packing-box was sent in 1638.
The old-time board-cloth was in no way inferior in quality or whiteness to our present table-linen; for we know how proud colonial wives and daughters were of the linen of their own spinning, weaving, and bleaching. The linen tablecloth was either of holland, huckaback, dowlas, osnaburg, or lockram—all heavy and comparatively coarse materials—or of fine damask, just as to-day; some of the handsome board-cloths were even trimmed with lace.
The colonists had plenty of napkins; more, as a rule, than families of corresponding means and station own to-day. They had need of them, for when America was first settled forks were almost unknown to English people—being used for eating in luxurious Italy alone, where travellers having seen and found them useful and cleanly, afterwards introduced them into England. So hands had to be constantly employed for holding food, instead of the forks we now use, and napkins were therefore as constantly necessary. The first fork brought to America was for Governor John Winthrop, in Boston, in 1633, and it was in a leather case with a knife and a bodkin. If the governor ate with a fork at the table, he was doubtless the only person in the colony who did so. Thirty or forty years later a few two-tined iron and silver forks were brought across the water, and used in New York and Virginia, as well as Massachusetts; and by the end of the century they had come into scant use at the tables of persons of wealth and fashion. The first mention of a fork in Virginia is in an inventory dated 1677; this was of a single fork. The salt-cellar, or saler, as it was first called, was the centrepiece of the table—"Sett in the myddys of the tabull," says an old treatise on laying the table. It was often large and high, of curious device in silver, and was then called a standing salt. Guests of honor were seated "above the salt," that is, near the end of the table where sat the host and hostess side by side; while children and persons who were not of much dignity or account as guests were placed "below the salt," that is, below the middle of the table.
There is owned by Harvard University, and here shown in an illustration, "a great silver salt" given to the college in 1644, when the new seat of learning was but eight years old. At the table it divided graduates, the faculty, and such, from the undergraduates. It was valued at L5 1s. 3d., at five shillings an ounce, which was equal to a hundred dollars to-day; a rich gift, which shows to me the profound affection of the settlers for the new college. It is inscribed with the name of the giver, Mr. Richard Harris. It is of simple English design well known during that century, and made in various sizes. There is no doubt that many of similar pattern, though not so heavy or so rich, were seen on the tables of substantial colonists. They are named in many wills. Often a small projecting arm was attached to one side, over which a folded napkin could be thrown to be used as a cover; for the salt-cellar was usually kept covered, not only to preserve cleanliness, but in earlier days to prevent the ready introduction of poison.
There are some very entertaining and curious old English books which were written in the sixteenth century to teach children and young rustics correct and elegant manners at the table, and also helpful ways in which to serve others. These books are called The Babees Boke, The Boke of Nurture, The Boke of Curteseye, etc., and with the exception of variations in the way of serving a dinner, and a few obsolete customs, and in the names and shapes and materials of the different dishes, plates, etc., used at the table, these books are just as instructive and sensible to-day as then. From them we learn that the only kind of table furnishings used at that time were cups to drink out of; spoons and knives to eat with; chafing-dishes to serve hot food; chargers for display and for serving large quantities of food; salt-cellars, and trenchers for use as plates. There were very few other table appointments used on any English table, either humble or great, when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth.
One of the most important articles for setting the table was the trencher. These were made of wood, and often were only a block of wood, about ten or twelve inches square and three or four deep, hollowed down into a sort of bowl in the middle. In this the food was placed,—porridge, meat, vegetables, etc. Each person did not have even one of these simple dishes; usually two children, or a man and his wife, ate out of one trencher. This was a custom in England for many years; and some very great people, a duke and his wife, not more than a century and a half ago, sat side by side at the table and ate out of one plate to show their unity and affection. It is told of an old Connecticut settler, a deacon, that as he had a wood-turning mill, he thought he would have a trencher apiece for his children. So he turned a sufficient number of round trenchers in his mill. For this his neighbors deemed him deeply extravagant and putting on too many airs, both as to quantity and quality, since square trenchers, one for use by two persons, were good enough for any one, even a deacon. So great a warrior and so prominent a man in the colony as Miles Standish used wooden trenchers at the table, as also did all the early governors. Nor did they disdain to name them in their wills, as valued household possessions. For many years college boys at Harvard ate out of wooden trenchers at the college mess-table.
I have seen a curious old table top, or table-board, which permitted diners seated at it to dispense with trenchers or plates. It was of heavy oak about six inches thick, and at intervals of about eighteen inches around its edge were scooped out deep, bowl-shaped holes about ten inches in diameter, in which each individual's share of the dinner was placed. After each meal the top was lifted off the trestles, thoroughly washed and dried, and was ready for the next meal.
Poplar-wood is an even, white, and shining wood. Until the middle of this century poplar-wood trenchers and plates were used on the table in Vermont, and were really attractive dishes. From earliest days the Indians made and sold many bowls and trenchers of maple-wood knots. One of these bowls, owned by King Philip, is at the rooms of the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston. Old wooden trenchers and "Indian bowls" can be seen at the Memorial Hall in Deerfield. Bottles were made also of wood, and drinking-cups and "noggins," which were a sort of mug with a handle. Wood furnished many articles for the table to the colonist, just as it did in later days on our Western frontiers, where trenchers of wood and plates of birch-bark were seen in every log-cabin.
The word tankard was originally applied to a heavy and large vessel of wood banded with metal, in which to carry water. Smaller wooden drinking tankards were subsequently made and used throughout Europe, and were occasionally brought here by the colonists. The plainly shaped wooden tankard, made of staves and hoops and here shown, is from the collection at Deerfield Memorial Hall. It was found in the house of Rev. Eli Moody. These commonplace tankards of staves were not so rare as the beautiful carved and hooped tankard which is here pictured, and which is in the collection of Mrs. Samuel Bowne Duryea, of Brooklyn. I have seen a few other quaintly carved ones, black with age, in American families of Huguenot descent; these were apparently Swiss carvings.
The chargers, or large round platters found on every dining-table, were of pewter. Some were so big and heavy that they weighed five or six pounds apiece. Pewter is a metal never seen for modern table furnishing, or domestic use in any form to-day; but in colonial times what was called a garnish of pewter, that is, a full set of pewter platters, plates, and dishes, was the pride of every good housekeeper, and also a favorite wedding gift. It was kept as bright and shining as silver. One of the duties of children was to gather a kind of horse-tail rush which grew in the marshes, and because it was used to scour pewter, was called scouring-rush.
Pewter bottles of various sizes were sent to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in 1629. Governor Endicott had one, but they were certainly far from common. Dram cups, wine mugs, and funnels of pewter were also occasionally seen, but scarcely formed part of ordinary table furnishings. Metheglin cans and drinking-mugs of pewter were found on nearly every table. Pewter was used until this century in the wealthiest homes, both in the North and South, and was preferred by many who owned rich china. Among the pewter-lovers was the Revolutionary patriot, John Hancock, who hated the clatter of the porcelain plates.
Porringers of pewter, and occasionally of silver, were much used at the table, chiefly for children to eat from. These were a pretty little shallow circular dish with a flat-pierced handle. Some had a "fish-tail" handle; these are said to be Dutch. These porringers were in many sizes, from tiny little ones two inches in diameter to those eight or nine inches across. When not in use many housekeepers kept them hanging on hooks on the edge of a shelf, where they formed a pretty and cheerful decoration. The poet Swift says:—
"The porringers that in a row Hung high and made a glittering show."
It should be stated that the word porringer, as used by English collectors, usually refers to a deep cup with a cover and two handles, while what we call porringers are known to these collectors as bleeding-basins or tasters. Here we apply the term taster, or wine-taster, to a small, shallow silver cup with bosses in the bottom to reflect the light and show the color and quality of wine. I have often seen the item wine-taster in colonial inventories and wills, but never bleeding-basin; while porringers were almost universal on such lists. Some families had a dozen. I have found fifteen in one old New England farmhouse. The small porringers are sometimes called posnets, which is an old-time word that may originally have referred to a posset-cup.
"Spoons," says the learned archaeologist, Laborde, "if not as old as the world, are as old as soup." All the colonists had spoons, and certainly all needed them, for at that time much of their food was in the form of soup and "spoon-meat," such as had to be eaten with spoons when there were no forks. Meat was usually made into hashes or ragouts; thick stews and soups with chopped vegetables and meats were common, as were hotch-pots. The cereal foods, which formed so large a part of English fare in the New World, were more frequently boiled in porridge than baked in loaves. Many of the spoons were of pewter. Worn-out pewter plates and dishes could be recast into new pewter spoons. The moulds were of wood or iron. The spoon mould of one of the first settlers of Greenfield, Massachusetts, named Martindale, is here shown with a pewter spoon. In this mould all his spoons and those of his neighbors were cast. It is now in the Deerfield Memorial Hall.
A still more universal spoon material was alchymy, also called occamy, alcamy, arkamy, etc., a metal never used now, which was made of a mixture of pan-brass and arsenicum. Wooden spoons, too, were always seen. In Pennsylvania and New York laurel was called spoonwood, because the Indians made pretty white spoons from that wood to sell to the colonists. Horn was an appropriate and available material for spoons. Many Indian tribes excelled as they do to-day in the making of horn spoons. The vulgar affirmation, "By the great horn spoon," has perpetuated their familiar use.
Every family of any considerable possessions or owning good household furnishings had a few silver spoons; nearly every person owned at least one. At the time America was settled the common form of silver spoon in England had what was known as a baluster stem and a seal head; the assay mark was in the inner part of the bowl. But the fashion was just changing, and a new and much altered form was introduced which was made in large numbers until the opening reign of George I. This shape was the very one without doubt in which many of the spoons of the first colonists were made; and wherever such spoons are found, if they are genuine antiques, they may safely be assigned a date earlier than 1714. The handle was flat and broad at the end, where it was cleft in three points which were turned up, that is, not toward the back of the spoon. This was known as the "hind's-foot handle." The bowl was a perfectly regular ellipse and was strengthened by continuing the handle in a narrow tongue or rat-tail, which ran down the back of the bowl. The succeeding fashion, in the early part of the eighteenth century, had a longer elliptical bowl. The end of the handle was rounded and turned up at the end, and it had a high sharp ridge down the middle. This was known as the old English shape, and was in common use for half a century. About the period of our Revolutionary War a shape nearly like the one in ordinary present use became the mode; the bowl became egg-shaped, and the end of the handle was turned down instead of up. The rat-tail, which extended down the back of the bowl, was shortened into a drop. Apostle spoons, and monkey spoons for extraordinary use were occasionally made, and a few are still preserved; examples of five types of spoons are shown from the collection of Edward Holbrook, Esq., of New York.
Families of consequence had usually a few pieces of silver besides their spoons and the silver salt. Some kind of a drinking-cup was the usual form. Persons of moderate means often owned a silver cup. I have seen in early inventories and lists the names of a large variety of silver vessels: tankards, beer-bowls, beakers, flagons, wine cups, wine bowls, wine cans, tasters, caudle-cups, posset-cups, dram-cups, punch-bowls, tumblers, mugs, dram bottles, two-eared cups, and flasks. Virginians and Marylanders in the seventeenth century had much more silver than New Englanders. Some Dutch merchants had ample amounts. It was deemed a good and safe investment for spare money. Bread-baskets, salvers, muffineers, chafing-dishes, casters, milk pitchers, sugar boxes, candlesticks, appear in inventories at the end of the century. A tankard or flagon, even if heavy and handsome, would be placed on the table for every-day use; the other pieces were usually set on the cupboard's head for ornament.
The handsome silver tankard owned by Sarah Jansen de Rapelje is here shown. She was the first child of European parents born in New Netherland. The tankard was a wedding gift from her husband, and a Dutch wedding scene is graven on the lid.
There was a great desire for glass, a rare novelty to many persons at the date of colonization. The English were less familiar with its use than settlers who came from Continental Europe. The establishment of glass factories was attempted in early days in several places, chiefly to manufacture sheet-glass, but with slight success. Little glass was owned in the shape of drinking-vessels, none used generally on the table, I think, during the first few years. Glass bottles were certainly a great rarity, and were bequeathed with special mention in wills, and they are the only form of glass vessel named. The earliest glass for table use was greenish in color, like coarse bottle glass, and poor in quality, sometimes decorated in crude designs in a few colors. Bristol glass, in the shape of mugs and plates, was next seen. It was opaque, a milky white color, and was coarsely decorated with vitrifiable colors in a few lines of red, green, yellow, or black, occasionally with initials, dates, or Scriptural references.
Though shapes were varied, and the number was generally plentiful, there was no attempt made to give separate drinking-cups of any kind to each individual at the table. Blissfully ignorant of the existence or presence of microbes, germs, and bacteria, our sturdy and unsqueamish forbears drank contentedly in succession from a single vessel, which was passed from hand to hand, and lip to lip, around the board. Even when tumbler-shaped glasses were seen in many houses,—flip-glasses, they were called,—they were of communal size,—some held a gallon,—and all drank from the same glass. The great punch-bowl, not a very handy vessel to handle when filled with punch, was passed up and down as freely as though it were a loving-cup, and all drank from its brim. At college tables, and even at tavern boards, where table neighbors might be strangers, the flowing bowl and foaming tankard was passed serenely from one to another, and replenished to pass again.