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Anne Hutchinson
by [?]

Life on shipboard is a severe test of character. The pent-up quarters bring out qualities, and often attachments are made or repulsions formed, that last a lifetime. On board a co-ed ship, people either make love or quarrel, or they may do both.

The “Griffin” carried more than a hundred passengers, among them two clergymen who are known to fame simply because they crossed the sea with Anne Hutchinson. These men were the Reverend John Lathrop and the Reverend Zacharius Symmes. Religious devotions occupied a goodly portion of the Puritan time, both on ship and on shore. The two clergymen on the “Griffin” very naturally took charge of the spiritual affairs on the craft, and apportioned out the time as best suited them. There were prayers in the morning, prayers in the evening, preaching in the forenoon, prayers and singing psalms between times.

Mrs. Hutchinson was a physician by natural endowment, and made it her special business to look after the physical welfare of the women and children on the ship. This was well; but when she called a meeting of all the women on board ship, and addressed them, the Reverend John Lathrop and the Reverend Zacharius Symmes invited the themselves to attend, in order to see what manner of meeting it might be.

All went well. But in a week, Mrs. Hutchinson kind of got on the nerves of the reverend gentlemen. Both men were strictly class B: stern, severe, sober, serious, sincere, very sincere. Mrs. Hutchinson was practical, rapid, witty and ready in speech; they were obtuse and profound. Of course they argued–for all parties were Puritans. Daily disputes were indulged in about the meaning of misty passages of biblical lore. The ministers attended Mrs. Hutchinson’s meetings, and she attended theirs. They criticized her teachings, and she made bold to say a few words about their sermons. The passengers, having nothing better to do, took sides.

When land was sighted, and at last the “Griffin” passed slowly through the mouth of the harbor, all disputes were forgotten and a joyous service of thanksgiving was held. I said all disputes were forgotten: two men, however, remembered. These men were the Reverend John Lathrop and the Reverend Zacharius Symmes. They felt hurt, grieved, injured: the woman had usurped their place, and besprinkled their sacred offices with disrespect–at least they thought so.

When anchor was dropped, they were among the first to clamber over the side and pull for the shore. They sought out John Winthrop, Governor of the Colony, and told him to beware of that Hutchinson woman–she had a tongue that was double-edged. John Winthrop smiled and guessed that a woman with fifteen children could not help but be a blessing to the Colony. The two ministers drew down long Puritan visages and thought otherwise.

* * * * *

The capacity for intellectual endeavor in a well-balanced woman is not at its height until her childbearing days are in abeyance. At such a time, in many instances, there comes to her a new birth of power: aspiration, ambition, desire, find new channels, and she views the world from a broad and generous vantage-ground before unguessed. The frivolous, the transient, the petty–each assumes its proper place, and she has the sense of value now if ever.

A great man once said in his haste that no woman under thirty knew anything worth mentioning, her life being ruled by emotion, not intellect. The great man was then forty; at fifty he pushed the limit along ten years. At thirty feeling is apt to cool a little, and the woman has times when she really thinks. Between forty and fifty is her harvest-time, and if she ever realizes cosmic consciousness it is then.

Anne Hutchinson was rounding her fortieth milestone when she conceived a great and sublime truth. It took possession of her being and seemed to sway her entire life. This truth was called “Covenant of Grace.” Its antithesis is “Covenant of Works.”