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If the first foundation of New England's strength and growth was godliness, its next was neighborliness, and a firm rock it proved to build upon. It may seem anomalous to assert that while there was in olden times infinitely greater independence in each household than at present, yet there was also greater interdependence with surrounding households.

 

It is curious to see how completely social ethics and relations have changed since olden days. Aid in our families in times of stress and need is not given to us now by kindly neighbors as of yore; we have well-arranged systems by which we can buy all that assistance, and pay for it, not with affectionate regard, but with current coin. The colonist turned to any and all who lived around him, and never turned in vain for help in sickness, or at the time of death of members of his household; for friendly advice; for culinary aids to a halting appetite; for the preparation for feasting an exceptional number of persons; in short, in any unusual emergency, as well as in frequent every-day coöperation in log-rolling, stone-piling, stump-pulling, wall-building, house-raising, etc.,--all the hard and exhausting labor on the farm.

The word "coöperation" is modern, but the thing itself is as old as civilization. In a new country where there was much work to be done which one man or one family could not do, under the mechanical conditions which then existed, a working together, or union of labor was necessary for progress, indeed, almost for obtaining a foothold.

The term "log-rolling" is frequently employed in its metaphorical sense in politics, both by English and American writers who have vague knowledge of the original meaning of the word. A log-rolling in early pioneer days, in the Northern colonies and in western Virginia and the central states, was a noble example of generous coöperation, where each gave of his best--his time, strength, and good will; and where all worked to clear the ground in the forest for a home-farm for a neighbor who might be newly come and an entire stranger, but who in turn would just as cheerfully and energetically give his work for others when it was needed.

With the vanishing of the log-rolling, and a score of similar kindly usages and customs, has gone from our communities all traces of the old-time exalted type of neighborliness. We nowadays have generalized our sentiments; we have more philanthropy and less neighborliness; we have more love for mankind and less for men. We are independent of our neighbors, but infinitely more dependent on the world at large. The personal element has been removed to a large extent from our social ethics. We buy nursing and catering just as we hire our houses built and buy our corn ready ground. Doubtless everything we buy is infinitely better; nevertheless, our loss in affectionate zeal is great.

The plantation was the unit in Virginia; in New England it was the town. The neighborly helpfulness of the New England settlers extended from small to great matters; it formed communal privileges and entered into every department of town life. For instance, the town of Gloucester in 1663 granted a right to a citizen for running a small sawmill for twenty-one years. In return for this right the grantee was to sell boards to Gloucester men at "one shilling per hundred better cheape than to strangers"--and was to receive pay "raised in the towne." Saco and Biddeford, in Maine, ordered that fellow-townsmen should have preference in every employment. Other towns ordered certain persons to buy provisions "of the towns-men in preference." Reading would not sell any of its felled timber out of the town. Thus the social compact called a town extended itself also into all the small doings of daily life, and the mutual helpfulness made mutual interests that proved no small element of the force which bound all together in 1776 in a successful struggle for independence.

In outlying settlements and districts this feeling of mutual dependence and assistance was strong enough to give a name which sometimes lingered long. "The Loomis Neighborhood," "The Mason Neighborhood," "The Robinson Neighborhood" were names distinctive for half a century, and far more distinguishing and individual than the Greenville, Masontown, and Longwood that succeeded them.

There was one curious and contradictory aspect of this neighborliness, this kindliness, this thought for mutual welfare, and that was its narrowness, especially in New England, as regards the limitations of space and locality. It is impossible to judge what caused this restraint of vision, but it is certain that in generality and almost in universality, just as soon as any group of settlers could call themselves a town, these colonists' notions of kindliness and thoughtfulness for others became distinctly and rigidly limited to their own townspeople. The town was their whole world. Without doubt this was partly the result of the lack of travelling facilities and ample communication, which made townships far more separated and remote from each other than states are to-day, and made difficult the possibility of speedy or full knowledge of strangers.

This caused a constant suspicion of all newcomers, especially those who chanced to enter with scant introduction, and made universal a custom of "warning out" all strangers who arrived in any town. This formality was gone through with by the sheriff or tithing-man. Thereafter should the warned ones prove incapable or unsuccessful or vicious, they could not become a charge upon the town, but could be returned whence they came with despatch and violence if necessary. By this means, and by various attempts to restrict the powers of citizens to sell property to newcomers, the town kept a jealous watch over the right of entry into the corporation.

Dorchester in 1634 enacted that "no man within the Plantation shall sell his house or lott to any man without the Plantation whome they shall dislike off." Providence would not permit a proprietor to sell to any "but to an Inhabitant" without consent of the town. New Haven would neither sell nor let ground to a stranger. Hadley would sell no land to any until after three years' occupation, and then only with approval of the "Town's Mind." In 1637 the General Court very reasonably questioned whether towns could legally restrain individuals from disposal of their own property, but the custom was so established, so in touch with the narrow exclusiveness of the colonists, that it still prevailed. The expression of the town of Watertown when it would sell lots only to freemen of the congregation, because it wished no strange neighbors, but only "to sitt down there close togither," was the sentiment of all the towns. One John Stebbins, who had twice served as a soldier of Watertown and lived there seven years, could not get a town lot.

The legal process of warning out of town had an element of the absurd in it, and in one case that of mystery, namely: a sheriff appeared before the woebegone intruder, and said, half laughing, "I warn you off the face of the earth." "Let me get my hat before I go," stammered the terrified wanderer, who ran into the house for his hat and was never seen by any mortal eye in that town afterwards. It has become a tradition of local folk-lore that he literally vanished from the earth at the command of the officer of the law.

The harboring of strangers, even of relatives who were not local residents, was a frequent source of bickering between citizens and magistrates, as well as a constant cause of arbitration between towns. A widow in Dorchester was not permitted to entertain her own son-in-law from another town, and her neighbor was fined in 1671 "under distress" for housing his own daughter. She was a married woman, and alleged she could not return to her husband on account of the inclement weather.

As time passed on and immigration continued, freemen clung closely to their right to keep out strangers and outsiders. From the Boston Town Records of 1714 we find citizens still prohibited from entertaining a stranger without giving notice to the town authorities, and a description of the stranger and his circumstances. Boston required that all coming from Ireland should be registered "lest they become chargeable." Warnings and whippings out of town still continued. All this was so contrary to the methods of colonies in other countries, such as the Barbadoes, Honduras, etc., where extraordinary privileges were offered settlers, free and large grants of land, absolvment from past debts, etc., that it makes an early example of the curious absorbing and assimilating power of American nationality, which ever grew and grew even against such clogs and hampering restrictions.

In the Southern colonies the same kindliness existed as in the North, but the conditions differed. John Hammond, of Virginia, wrote in 1656, in his _Leah and Rachel_:--

     "The Country is not only plentifull, but pleasant and profitable, pleasant in regard of the extraordinary good neighbourhood and loving conversation they have one with another.

     "The inhabitants are generally affable, courteous, and very assistant to Strangers (for what but plenty makes hospitality and good neighbourhood) and no sooner are they settled, but they will be visiting, presenting and advising the strangers how to improve what they have, how to better their way of livelihood."

In summer when fresh meat was killed, the neighbors shared the luxury, and in turn gave of their slaughter. Hammond adds:--

     "If any fall sick and cannot compass to follow his crops which would soon be lost, the adjoining neighbour, or upon request more joyn together and work it by spells, until he recovers; and that gratis, so that no man may by sickness loose any part of his year's work.

     "Let any travell, it is without charge and at every house is entertainment as in a hostelry."

It was the same in the Carolinas. Ramsay, the early historian of South Carolina, said that hospitality was such a virtue that innkeepers complained that their business was not worth carrying on. The doors of citizens were open to all decent travellers, and shut to none.

The plantations were in many counties too far apart for any coöperative labor, and the planters were not men of such vast strength or so great personal industry, even in their own affairs, as were the Yankees. There were slaves on each plantation to do all the hard work of lifting, etc. But in out-of-the-way settlements the Virginia planters' kindliness was shown in a vast and unbounded hospitality, a hospitality so insatiable that it watched for and waylaid travellers to expend a welcome and lavish attentions upon. Negroes were stationed at the planter's gate where it opened on the post-road or turnpike, to hail travellers and assure them of a hearty welcome at the "big house up yonder." One writer says of the planters:--

     "Their manner of living is most generous and open: strangers are sought after with Greediness to be invited."

The _London Magazine_ of the year 1743 published a series of papers entitled _Itinerant Observations in America_. It was written with a spirited pen which thus pleasantly describes simple Maryland hospitality, not of men of vast wealth but of very poor folk:--

     "With the meaner Sort you find little else to drink but Water amongst them when their Cyder is spent, but the Water is presented you by one of the barefooted Family in a copious Calabash, with an innocent Strain of good Breeding and Heartiness, the Cake baking on the Hearth, and the prodigious Cleanliness of everything around you must needs put you in Mind of the Golden Age, the Times of ancient Frugality and Purity. All over the Colony a universal Hospitality reigns, full Tables and open Doors; the kind Salute, the generous Detention speak somewhat like the roast-Beef Ages of our Forefathers."

There came a time when this Southern hospitality became burdensome. With the exhaustion of the soil and competition in tobacco-raising, the great wealth of the Virginians was gone. But visitors did not cease; in fact, they increased. The generous welcome offered to kinsmen, friends, and occasional travellers was sought by curiosity-hunters and tourists who wanted to save a tavern-bill. Nothing could be more pathetic than the impoverishment of Thomas Jefferson through these impositions. Times and conditions had changed, but Jefferson felt bound in honor to himself and his state to keep the same open hand and ready welcome as of yore. His overseer describes his own hopeless efforts to keep these travelling friends and admirers from eating his master out of house and home:--

     "They were there all times of the year; but about the middle of June the travel would commence from the lower part of the State to the Springs, and then there was a perfect throng of visitors. They travelled in their own carriages and came in gangs, the whole family with carriage and riding horses and servants, sometimes three or four such gangs at a time. We had thirty-six stalls for horses and only used ten of them for the stock we kept there. Very often all the rest were full, and I had to send horses off to another place. I have often sent a wagon-load of hay up to the stable, and the next morning there would not be enough left to make a bird's nest. I have killed a fine beef, and it would all be eaten up in a day or two."

The final extinction of old-time hospitality in Virginia came not from a death of hospitable intent, but from an entire vanishing of the means to furnish entertainment. And the Civil War drove away even the lingering ghost.

Many general customs existed in the early colonies which were simply exemplifications of neighborliness put in legal form. Such were the systems of common lands and herding. This was an old Aryan custom which existed many centuries ago, and has ever been one of the best ways of uniting any settlement of people, especially a new settlement; for it makes the interest of one the interest of all, and promotes union rather than selfishness. Common lands were set off and common herds existed in many of the Northern colonies; cowherds or "cow-keeps" were appointed and paid by the town to care throughout the summer for all the cattle owned by the inhabitants. This was an intelligent provision; for it saved much work of individuals during the months when farmers had so much hard work to do, and so short a time to do it in. In Albany and New York the cowherd and "a chosen proper youngster"--in other words, a good, steady boy--went through the town at sunrise sounding a horn, which the cattle heard and knew; and they quickly followed him to green pastures outside the town. There they lingered till nearly sunset, when they were brought home to the church, and the owners were again warned by the horn of the safe return of their cattle, and that it was milking time. Sometimes the cowherd received part of his pay in butter or cheese. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cowherd Rice, in 1635, agreed to take charge of one hundred cows for three months for ten pounds. The town also paid two men or boys to help him the first two weeks, and one man a week longer; he kept the cows alone after that, for the intelligent cattle had fallen into habits of order and obedience to his horn. He had to pay threepence fine each time he failed to bring in all the cattle at night.

On Long Island and in Connecticut there were cowherds, calf-keepers, and pound-keepers. The calf-keepers' duties were to keep the calves away from the cows, water them, protect them, etc. In Virginia and Maryland there were cow-pens in early days, and cowherds; but in the South the cattle generally roamed wild through the forests, and were known to their owners by earmarks. In all communities earmarks and other brands of ownership on cattle, horses, sheep, and swine were very important, and rigidly regarded where so much value was kept in domestic cattle. These earmarks were registered by the town clerk in the town records, and were usually described both in words and rude drawings. One of my great-great-grandfather's earmarks for his cows was a "swallow-fork slit in both ears"; another was a slit under the ear and a "half-penny mark on the foreside of the near ear." This custom of herding cattle in common lasted in some out-of-the-way places to this century, and even lingered long in large cities such as Boston, where cows were allowed to feed on Boston Common till about 1840. In Philadelphia until the year 1795 a cowherd stood every morning at the corner of Dock and Second streets, blew his horn, tramped off to a distant pasture followed by all the cows of his neighborhood, who had run out to him as soon as they heard the familiar sound. He led them back to the same place at night, when each returned alone to her own home.

Sheep-herds or shepherds in colonial days also took charge of the sheep of many owners in herd-walks, or ranges, by day, and by night in sheep-folds built with fences and gates.

Fence-viewers were men who were appointed by the town for common benefit to take charge of building and keeping in repair the fences that surrounded the "great lotts" or commons; that is, the enclosed fields which were the common property of each town, in which all farmers living near could place their cattle. The fence-viewers saw that each man worked a certain amount each year on these "pales" as the fences were called, or paid his share for the work of others. Each farmer or cow-owner usually built about twenty feet of fence for each cow which he pastured in the "great lotts." The fence-viewers also examined the condition of fences around private lands; noted breaks and ordered repairs. For if cattle broke through a poorly made fence, and did damage to crops, the fence-owner had to stand the loss, while if the fences were good and strong, proving the cattle unruly and destructive, the owner of the cattle had to pay. All the colonies were watchful over the safe-keeping of fences. In 1659 the Dutch rulers of New Amsterdam (now New York) ordered that for "stripping fences of rails and posts" the offender should be whipped and branded, and for a second offence he could be punished by death. This seems cruelly severe, but that year there was a great scarcity of grain and other food, and if the fences were pulled down, cattle could get into fields and eat up the growing crops, and famine and death might result.

Sometimes a common field was fenced in and planted with Indian corn. In this case the fence served to keep the cattle out, not in. This was always the case in Virginia.

Hay-wards were, as the name indicates, men to keep watchful care over the growing hay. For instance, in Hadley, Massachusetts, in 1661, Goodman Montague was chosen hay-ward by the town. He was to have twelvepence for each cow or hog, two shillings for each horse, and twenty pence for each twenty sheep that he found loose in any field or meadow, and successfully turned out. The owner of the animal was to pay the fine. At a later date these hay-wards were called field-drivers. They are still appointed in many towns and cities, among them Boston.

Hog-reeves were men appointed by the citizens to look after their hogs that roamed the roads and streets, to see that all those swine had rings in their noses, were properly marked, and did not do damage to crops. Many towns had hog-reeves till this century; for until seventy years ago hogs ran freely everywhere, even in the streets of our great cities. It was a favorite jest to appoint a newly married man hog-reeve. When Ralph Waldo Emerson was married and became a householder in Concord, the young philosopher was appointed to that office. Sometimes a single swineherd was hired to take care of the roving swine. The two Salem swineherds or swine-keepers in 1640 were to have sixpence for each hog they drove daily to pasture from April to November. These and many other public offices were simply a form of legalized coöperation; a joining together of neighbors for public good.

The neighborly assistance given to new settlers began with the clearing of the ground for occupancy. The girdling of trees was easy and speedy, but it was discountenanced as dangerous and hideous, and was not frequently practiced. A chopping-bee was a universal method among pioneers of clearing ground in newly settled districts, or even in older townships in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, where great tracts of land were left for many years in the original growth. Sometimes this bee was held to clear land for a newly married man, or a new neighbor, or one who had had bad luck; but it was just as freely given to a prosperous farmer, though plentiful thanks and plentiful rum were the only rewards of the willing workers.

All the strong men of the township repaired at an early hour to the tract to be cleared, and with powerful blows attacked the great trees. A favorite way of bringing the day's work and the day's excitement to a climax was by a "drive." This was made by chopping half-way into the trunks of a great group or circle of trees--under-cutting it was called--so that by a few powerful and well-driven blows at the monarch of the group, and perhaps a few well-concerted pulls on a rope, the entire group could be felled together, the leader bringing down with his spreading branches in his mighty fall his fellows in front of him, and they in turn their neighbors, with a crash that shook the earth and made the mountains ring. It was dangerous work; accidents were frequent; the records of death at log-rollings are pathetic to read and to think of, in a country where the loss of a sturdy man meant so much to some struggling household. A heavy and sudden gust of wind might blow down a small tree, which had been carelessly "under-cut," and thus give an unexpected and premature collapse of the simple machinery of the grand finale.

A century ago a New Hampshire woman and her husband went out into the forest primeval; he cut down a few trees, made a little clearing termed a cut-down wherein a tiny patch of sky and cloud and scant sunlight could be seen overhead, but no sunrise or sunset, and built a log house of a single room--a home. With the opening spring came one day a group of kindly settlers from distant clearings and settlements, some riding from ten miles away the previous day. In front of the log house they chopped all the morning long with sturdy arms and swinging blows, yet felled nothing, till in the afternoon when all was ready for the final blow at the towering leader, which by its fall should lay low a great sloping tract for a dooryard and home field. As the noble trees fell at last to the earth with a resounding crash, lo! in the opening there appeared to the startled eyes of the settler's wife, as if rising out of heaven, a neighbor in her loneliness--Mount Kearsage, grand, serene, and beautiful, crowned with the glories of the setting sun, standing guard over a smiling lake at its foot. And every day through her long and happy life till ninety-six years old, as she looked at the splendid mountain, standing as it will till time shall be no more, did she thank God for His gift, for that noble companionship which came so suddenly, so inspiringly, upon the cramped horizon of her lonely forest home.

After the trees were all felled, it was no longer a "cut-down" but an "opening." This was made preferably in the spring. The fallen trees were left some months on the ground to dry in the summer sun, while the farmer turned to other work on his farm, or, if he were starting in life, hired out for the summer. In the autumn the tops were set on fire, and the lighter limbs usually burned out, leaving the great charred tree-trunks. Then came what was known as a piling-bee, a perfect riot of hard work, cinders, and dirt. Usually the half-burned tree-trunks were "niggered off" in Indian fashion, by burning across with a smaller stick of wood till the long log was in lengths which could be dragged by the farmers with their oxen and horses into vast piles and again set on fire. Another treat of rum accompanied this day's work. The word "log-rolling" was often applied to the latter bee, and occasionally the felling of trees and dragging into piles for firing was done in a single log-rolling.

Sometimes before the opening was cleared it was planted. The spring rains and melting snows carried the fertilizing ashes deep into the soil. Corn was planted and "dug in"; rye was sowed and "hacked in." The crops were astonishing; the grain grew among the fallen logs and stumps in rioting luxuriance. A stump-pulling was another occasion for a friendly bee, to clear off and put into comely shape the new field.

Another exhibition of coöperation was in a stone-hauling or a stone-bee. Some of the rocky fields of hard New England would defy a lifetime of work of one man and a single yoke of oxen. With judicious blasting, many oxen, strong arms, and willing hearts the boulders and ledges were tamed. Stone walls eight feet wide, such as may be seen in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, stand as monuments of the patience, strength, skill, and coöperation of our forbears.

To show the struggle and hard work willingly done for a home, let me give the statement in 1870 of a respected citizen, the historian of Norridgewock, Maine, when he was over ninety years old. He served an apprenticeship of eight years till he was twenty-one, then bought on credit a tract of fifty acres in the primeval woods. On eight acres he felled the trees and left them through the winter. In April, 1801, he spent three weeks in burning off the logs and clearing as well as possible by handwork three acres. These he sowed with wheat and rye, buying the seed on credit. He hired a yoke of oxen for one day and did what harrowing he could in that short time, grubbing around the stumps with a hoe for two more days. The crop grew, as did all others on similar soil, amazingly. The two bushels of seed-wheat yielded fifty-two bushels, the bushel of rye thirty bushels. On his other five acres among the fallen trees he planted corn, and raised a hundred and twenty-eight bushels. He adds:--

     "When I could leave my work on my new land I worked out haying and other work. I made shoes in the Fall, taught school in the Winter, paid for my board and some clothing, but husbanded my resources to pay for my land. At the end of the year found myself worth two hundred dollars. I continued to clear up four acres each year till I had cleared the fifty acres, planted an orchard and erected suitable farm buildings and fences."

Six years later he married and prospered. In eleven years he was worth two thousand dollars; he filled, during his long life, many, positions of trust and of profit, and did many and varied good deeds; he continued in active life till he was ninety years old. At his death he left a considerable fortune. It is an interesting picture of the value of honorable economy and thrift; a typical New England picture, with a certain vigor and stimulus about it that makes it pleasing.

A "raising" might be of a church or a school-house, or of a house or barn for a neighbor. All the strong men far and near turned out to help, tools were lent, and many strong hands and arms made quick work. Often the frame of a whole side of a house--the broadside--was fastened together on the ground. After it was laid out and pinned together, shores of long poles were attached to the plates with ox-chains, and it was literally lifted into place by the united strength of the entire band of men and boys. Sometimes women pulled on the rope to express their good will and helpfulness. Then the other sides were put up, and the cross-beams, braces, and studding all pinned and nailed into place. Afterwards the huge rafters were raised for the roof. Each man was assigned in the beginning to his place and work, and worked faithfully when his turn came. When the ridge-pole was put in place, the building was christened, as it was called, by breaking over it a bottle of rum. Often the house was literally given a name. Sitting astride the ridge-pole, one poet sang:--

    "Here's a mighty fine frame Which desarves a good name, Say what shall we call it? The timbers all straight, And was hewed fust rate, The frame is well put together. It is a good frame That desarves a good name, Say! what shall we name it?"

Another, a Rochester, New Hampshire, frame was celebrated in verse which closed thus:--

    "The Flower of the Plain is the name of this Frame, We've had exceeding good Luck in raising the Same."

It was not luck that made these raisings a success, it was skill and strength; skill and powers of endurance which could overcome and surmount even the quantity of vile New England rum with which the workmen were plied throughout the day. Accidents were frequent, and often fatal. A great frame of a meeting-house, or a vast barn with forty or fifty men at work on it, could not collapse without loss of life and much injury of limb.

In the work of these raisings the highest as well as the humblest citizens took part. Truly a man could glow with the warmth of home even in a bare and scantily furnished house, at the thought that the walls and rafters were held in place by the kind wishes and deeds of all his friends and neighbors.

There is nothing in nature so unnatural, so singular in quality, as the glittering artificiality of the early morning in the country the day after a heavy, drifting, New England snowstorm. For a day and a night the wildly whirling snow that "driving o'er the fields seems nowhere to alight" has restrained the outlook, and every one has turned depressed from that outside life of loneliness and gloom. The following morning always opens with an excessively bright and dazzling sunshine which is not like any other sunshine in any place or season, but is wholly artificial, like the lime-light of a theatre. We always run eagerly to the window to greet once more the signs of life and cheerfulness; but the landscape is more devoid of life and reality than during any storm of wind and snow and sleet, no matter how dark and lowering. There is a changed aspect in everything; it is metallic, and everything is made of the same horrible white metal. Nothing seems familiar; not only are the wonted forms and outlines vanished, and all their varied textures and materials and beautiful diversity of color gone also, but there is a steely immobility restraining everything which is so complete that it seems as if it were a shell that could never be broken.

    "We look upon a world unknown, On nothing we can call our own."

It is no longer a real landscape but an artificial encircling diorama of meaningless objects made of vast unshaded sheets of white glazed Bristol-board, painted with white enamel, warranted not to crack; with the garish high-lights put in crystallized alum or possibly powdered glass. It is without life, or atmosphere, or reality; it has nothing but the million reflections of that artificial and repellent sunshine. In a quarter of an hour, even in a few minutes, it is agonizingly monotonous to the spirit as it is painful to the eye; then, like a veritable oasis of color and motion in an unmovable glittering white desert, a sound and sight of beautiful and active life appears. Around the bend of the road comes slow and straining down the hill, as has come through the glaring artificial sunlight after every heavy snowstorm for over a century past, a long train of oxen with a snow-plough "breaking out" the old post-road. Beautiful emblems of patient and docile strength, these splendid creatures are never so grateful to the sight as now. Their slow progress down the hill has many elements to make it interesting; it is historic. Ever since the township was thickly settled enough for families to have any winter communication with each other, whether for school, church, mail, or doctor, this road has been broken out in precisely this same way.

In nearly all scattered townships in New England the custom prevails to-day just as it did a century and more ago even in large towns, and a description of the present "breaking out" is that of the past also. The work is now usually done in charge of road-surveyors or the road-masters, who are often appointed from the remote points of the township. There is, therefore, much friendly rivalry to see which surveyor will first reach the centre of the town--and the tavern. Beginning at sunrise with his own yoke of oxen hitched to a snow-plough, each road-master breaks through the drift to the nearest neighbor, who adds his yoke to the other, and so from neighbor to neighbor till sometimes fifteen or twenty yoke of oxen are hitched in a long line to the plough. Sometimes a pair of wild young steers are hitched, plunging and kicking, with the sober elders. By this time the first yoke often begins to show signs of distress by lolling out the tongue, a sure symptom of overwork in oxen, and they are left at some farmer's barn to cool down.

Whittier thus describes the scene of breaking out the winter roads in his _Snow-Bound_:--

    "Next morn we wakened with the shout Of merry voices high and clear; And saw the teamsters drawing near To break the drifted highways out. Down the long hillside treading slow We saw the half-buried oxen go, Shaking the snow from heads uptost, Their straining nostrils white with frost. Before our door the straggling train Drew up, an added team to gain. The elders threshed their hands a-cold, Passed, with the cider mug, their jokes From lip to lip."

Thus are the white snow-waste and the drifted roads turned by cheerful coöperation into a midwinter visiting where every neighbor can exchange greetings with the other, young and old. For of course school does not keep, and the boys crowd on the snow-plough or try their new snowshoes, and the men of the various families who do not go with the oxen hitch up the sleighs, pods, and pungs and follow the snow-plough, and the young men send a volley of snowballs against every house where any fair maid lives. And at the tavern in the afternoon is a great sight, greater in ante-temperance days than now: scores of yoke of oxen at the door, the horse-sheds full of horses and sleighs, all the lads and men of the township within. There is rivalry in the method of breaking. One road-master always used a snow-plough; another lashed an ordinary plough on either side of a narrow ox-sled; a third used a coarse harrow weighted down with a group of standing boys. This broke up the drifts in a wonderful manner. The deeper drifts often have to be shovelled out partly by hand. After the road to the tavern is broken, the road to the school-house, the doctor's house, and the meeting-house come next.

The roads thus made were not permitted in former days to be cut up idly by careless use; many townships forbade by law the use of narrow sleds and sleighs. The roads were narrow at best; often when two sleighs met the horses had to be unharnessed, and the sleighs lifted past over each other. On lonely hill-roads or straight turnpikes, where teamsters could see some distance ahead, turnouts were made where one sleigh could wait for another to pass.

After there had been a heavy fall of snow and the roads were well broken, the time was always chosen where any logging was done to haul logs to the sawmill on ox-sleds. An interesting sled was used which had an interesting name,--chebobbin. One writer called it a cross between a tree and a bobsled. It was made by a close and ingenious adaptation of natural forms of wood, which made excellent runners, cross-bars, etc.; they were fastened together so loosely that they readily adjusted themselves to the inequalities of the wood-roads. The word and article are now almost obsolete. In some localities chebobbin became tebobbin and tarboggin, all three being adaptations in nomenclature, as they were in form, of the Indian toboggan or moose-sled,--a sledge with runners or flat bottom of wood or bark, upon which the red men drew heavy loads over the snow. This sledge has become familiar to us in the light and strong Canadian form now used for the delightful winter sport of tobogganing.

On these chebobbins great logs were hitched together by chains, and dragged down from the upland wood-lots. Under these mighty loads the snow-tracks got an almost icy polish, prime sledding for country sleighing parties. Sometimes a logging-bee was made to clear a special lot for a neighbor, and a band of wood-choppers worked all day together. It was cheerful work, though the men had to stand all day in the snow, and the thermometer was below zero. But there was no cutting wind in the forest, and the exercise kept the blood warm. Many a time a hearty man would drop his axe to wipe the sweat from his brow. Loose woollen frocks, or long-shorts, two or three over each other, were warm as are the overlapping feathers of a bird; a few had buckskin or sheepskin waistcoats; their hands were warmly covered with home-knit mittens. In later days all had heavy well-greased boots, but in the early years of such pioneer settlements, as the towns of New Hampshire and Vermont, all could not afford to wear boots. Their place was well supplied by heavy woollen stockings, shoes, and an over-covering of old stockings, or cloth soaked in neat's-foot oil; this was deemed a positive preventive of frozen feet.

It was the custom both among men and women to join forces on a smaller scale and have a little neighborly visiting by what was called "change-work." For instance, if two neighbors both were to make soap, or both to make apple-butter, or both to make up a rag carpet, instead of each woman sitting at home alone sewing and fitting the carpet, one would take her thimble and go to spend the day, and the two would sew all day long, finish and lay the carpet at one house. In a few days the visit would be returned, and the second carpet be finished. Sometimes the work was easier when two worked together. One man could load logs and sled them down to the sawmill alone, but two by "change-work" could accomplish the task much more rapidly and with less strain.

Even those evil days of New England households, the annual house-cleaning, were robbed of some of their dismal terrors by what was known as a "whang," a gathering of a few friendly women neighbors to assist one another in that dire time, and thus speed and shorten the hours of misery.

For any details of domestic life of colonial days the reader has ever to turn to the diary of Judge Samuel Sewall of Boston, just as the student of English life of the same date turns to the diary of Samuel Pepys. Sewall was a Puritan of the narrow type of the later days of Puritanism; and there is little of warmth or beauty in his pages, save that throughout them there shines with gentle radiance the unconscious record of a pure and never-dying neighborliness, the neighborliness of an upright and reserved but deeply tender Christian. No thoughtful person can read the simple and meagre, but wholly self-forgetful entries which reveal this trait of character without a feeling of profound respect and even affection for Sewall. He was the richest man in town, and one of the most dignified of citizens, a busy man full of many cares and plans. But he watched by the bedside of his sick and dying neighbors, those of humble station as well as his friends and kinsfolk, nursing them with tender care, praying with them, bringing appetizing gifts, and also giving pecuniary aid to the household. He afforded even more homely examples of neighborly feeling; he sent "tastes of his dinner" many times to friends and neighbors. This pleasant custom lingered till the present day in New England; I saw last summer, several times, covered treasures of housewifery being carried in petty amounts, literally "a taste," to tempt tired appetites or lonely diners. The gift of a portion of the over-bountiful supply for the supper of a wedding, a reception, etc., went by the expressive name of "cold party."

In rural Pennsylvania a charming and friendly custom prevailed among country folk of all nationalities--the "metzel-soup," the "taste" of sausage-making. This is the anglicized form of _Metzelsuppe_; _metzeln_ means to kill and cut to pieces--especially for sausage meat. When each farmer butchered and made sausage, a great dish heaped with eight or ten pounds of the new sausages was sent to each intimate friend. The recipient would in turn send metzel-soup when his family killed and made sausage. If the metzel-soup were not returned, the minister promptly learned of it and set at work to effect a reconciliation between the offended parties. The custom is dying out, and in many towns is wholly vanished.

Sewall seemed to regard it as a duty, and doubtless it was also a pleasure, to pray for and with dying friends. His is not the only old-time diary that I have read in which those long prayers are recorded, nor are his surprised occasional records of the impatience of dying friends the only ones I have seen. A very sick man, even though he were a Puritan, might occasionally tire of the prayers of laymen.

Sewall was ever ready to signify his good will and interest in his neighbors' advancing fortunes, by driving a nail at a ship-building or a pin at a house-raising, by laying a stone in a wall or a foundation of a house, the latter, apparently, in the case of some very humble homes. He, the Judge of the Supreme Court, served on the watch, walking and guarding the streets and his neighbors' safety just as faithfully as did the humblest citizen.