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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Alarming Progress of Luxury in New England

By Benjamin Tompson (1642–1714)

[From New England’s Crisis. About 1675.]

THE TIMES wherin old Pompion was a saint,

When men fared hardly yet without complaint,

On vilest cates; the dainty Indian maize

Was eat with clamp-shells out of wooden trays,

Under thatch’d hutts without the cry of rent,

And the best sawce to every dish, content.

When flesh was food and hairy skins made coats,

And men as well as birds had chirping notes.

When Cimnels were accounted noble bloud;

Among the tribes of common herbage food.

Of Ceres’ bounty form’d was many a knack.

Enough to fill poor Robin’s Almanack.

These golden times (too fortunate to hold)

Were quickly sin’d away for love of gold.

’Twas then among the bushes, not the street,

If one in place did an inferior meet,

“Good morrow, brother, is there aught you want?

“Take freely of me, what I have you ha’nt.”

Plain Tom and Dick would pass as current now,

As ever since “Your Servant, Sir,” and bow.

Deep-skirted doublets, puritanic capes,

Which now would render men like upright apes,

Was comlier wear, our wiser fathers thought,

Than the cast fashions from all Europe brought.

’Twas in those days an honest grace would hold

Till an hot pudding grew at heart a cold.

And men had better stomachs at religion,

Than I to capon, turkey-cock, or pigeon;

When honest sisters met to pray, not prate,

About their own and not their neighbour’s state.

During Plain Dealing’s reign, that worthy stud

Of the ancient planter’s race before the flood,

Then times were good, merchants car’d not a rush

For other fare than Jonakin and Mush.

Although men far’d and lodged very hard,

Yet innocence was better than a guard.

’Twas long before spiders and worms had drawn

Their dungy webs, or hid with cheating lawne

New England’s beautyes, which still seem’d to me

Illustrious in their own simplicity.

’Twas ere the neigbouring Virgin-Land had broke

The hogsheads of her worse than hellish smoak.

’Twas ere the Islands sent their presents in,

Which but to use was counted next to sin.

’Twas ere a barge had made so rich a freight

As chocolate, dust-gold and bitts of eight.

Ere wines from France and Muscovadoe to,

Without the which the drink will scarsly doe.

From western isles ere fruits and delicacies

Did rot maids’ teeth and spoil their handsome faces.

Or ere these times did chance, the noise of war

Was from our towns and hearts removed far.

No bugbear comets in the chrystal air

Did drive our christian planters to despair.

No sooner pagan malice peeped forth

But valour snib’d it. Then were men of worth

Who by their prayers slew thousands angel-like;

Their weapons are unseen with which they strike.

Then had the churches rest; as yet the coales

Were covered up in most contentious souls:

Freeness in judgment, union in affection,

Dear love, sound truth, they were our grand protection

Then were the times in which our councells sate,

These gave prognosticks of our future fate.

If these be longer liv’d our hopes increase,

These warrs will usher in a longer peace.

But if New England’s love die in its youth,

The grave will open next for blessed truth.

This theame is out of date, the peacefull hours

When castles needed not, but pleasant bowers.

Not ink, but bloud and tears now serve the turn

To draw the figure of New England’s urne.

New England’s hour of passion is at hand;

No power except divine can it withstand.

Scarce hath her glass of fifty years run out,

But her old prosperous steeds turn heads about,

Tracking themselves back to their poor beginnings,

To fear and fare upon their fruits of sinnings.

So that the mirror of the christian world

Lyes burnt to heaps in part, her streamers furl’d.

Grief sighs, joyes flee, and dismal fears surprize

Not dastard spirits only, but the wise.

Thus have the fairest hopes deceiv’d the eye

Of the big-swoln expectant standing by:

Thus the proud ship after a little turn,

Sinks into Neptune’s arms to find its urne:

Thus hath the heir to many thousands born

Been in an instant from the mother torn:

Even thus thine infant cheeks began to pale,

And thy supporters through great losses fail.

This is the Prologue to thy future woe,

The Epilogue no mortal yet can know.