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Anne Hutchinson
by [?]

The word “psychology” had never been heard by Mrs. Hutchinson, but the thing itself she knew. She sought to relieve the people of gloom, to stop introspection and self-analyzation. They quarreled, strife was imminent; and when, with the dread of Winter, came the added fear of a Pequot uprising, the whole place was treading the border-land of insanity. It is doubtful whether Anne Hutchinson knew that insanity was infectious, and that whole families, communities, can become possessed of hallucinations–that towns can go mad, and nations have a disease.

But this we know, she challenged the eight ministers who were there in the Colony by calling meetings of women only, and teaching a gospel which was at variance with what the eight learned men upheld. Her theme was the Covenant of Grace. Get His spirit in your hearts and you will not have to trouble about details. All your anxious care about your children, your fear of disease, and horror at thought of death, will disappear. This fear is what causes your sickness.

“You think some of your acts have been displeasing to God, and therefore you suffer; but I say, if you but have the Grace of God in your souls, and have transcendent minds, you can never displease Him.”

It will be seen that this is the pure Emersonian faith which has not only been applied to life in general, but to the arts. Anne Hutchinson was the mother of New England Transcendentalism. Self-consciousness is fatal to the art of expression; he who fixes his thought on the movements of his hands and feet is sure to get tangled up in them; good digestion does not require the attention of the party most interested; and he who devotes all of the time to his spiritual estate will soon have the whole property in chancery. Man is not a finality– he is not the thing–the play’s the thing: life is the play and the play is life. Man is only one of the properties. Look out, not in; up, not down, and lend a hand. And these things form the modern application of the philosophy of Anne Hutchinson.

The ministers got together in secret session and decided that Anne Hutchinson must be subdued. She was a usurper upon their preserve, a trespasser and an interloper. Fear was the rock upon which they split. And I am not sure but that fear is the only rock in life’s channel. Mrs. Hutchinson had told them that sermons, prayers and hymns were mere “works,” and that a person could do all that they demanded and still be a thief and a rogue at heart, and that this close attention to conduct meant eventual hypocrisy. On the other hand, if your mental attitude was right, your conduct would be right.

“Even though it is wrong?” asked the Reverend Mr. Wilson.

And Anne Hutchinson replied, “Aye, verily.”

“Then you say that you can commit no sin?”

“If my heart is right, I can not sin.”

“Is your heart right?”

“I am trying to make it so.”

“Then you can commit any act you wish?”

“Whatever I wish to do will be right, if my heart is right.”

“But suppose, now–” and here these clergymen asked questions which no gentleman ever asks a lady.

These men had a fine faculty for misunderstanding, misinterpreting, and misrepresenting other people’s thoughts.

John Cotton tried to pour oil on the troubled waters by explaining that the idea of a Covenant of Grace was general, and to make it specific was unjust and unreasonable. Then they turned on Cotton and said, “So, you are one of them?”

Anne Hutchinson was ordered not to speak in public.

She still held meetings at her own house, and claimed she had the right to ask her friends to her home and there to talk to them.

She it was who instituted the Boston Thursday Lecture, which was taken up by John Cotton and carried by an apostolic succession to the crowning days of its success, when Adirondack Murray reigned supreme. Mrs. Hutchinson spoke to all the women the house would hold. The Colony was divided into two parts: those who believed in a Covenant of Grace and those who held to a Covenant of Works.