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in the ground, which for a long time interrupted his ploughing ; but now an ingenious machine has been invented, by which these stumps are torn up by the roots and converted into an excellent fence.
Near the little town of Hanover I crossed the river Connecticut, and entered the State of New Hampshire, the country still continuing mountainous, but intersected with fertile valleys.
ENFIELD is a small village entirely inhabited by that extraordinary sect denominated “ Shakers.” On entering it I was immediately struck with the remarkable neatness of the houses, farms, and fences; and the first impression was therefore very much in favour of the sect. The Shakers, like the Harmonites, are great manufacturers, and supply the neighbourhood with a quantity of necessary articles at a cheap rate. They apply ma chinery to every purpose that can be imagined, and carry this to such a length, as even to churn butter by the assistance of the wind. This however is a very simple and effectual way, and is worthy of being adopted more extensively; for a very light breeze is sufficient to put in motion the small sails attached to the churn. The sect of Shakers was founded about the
year 1768, by Ann Lee, the wife of an English blacksmith. She pretended to be inspired; called herself “ Anne the Word;” and instituted a new mode of worship, “ praising the Lord by dancing.” Being prosecuted for riotous conduct, she and her followers were thrown into prison ; a treatment which caused their emigration. They came to America in 1774, and settled in the State of New Hamp
shire. Anne afterwards removed to the State of New York, where she began to prophecy, declaring that she was the second Christ, and that those who followed her should have their sins forgiven, Although she declaimed against all sexual intercourse whatsoever, which she held up as a mortal sin, yet she gained numerous proselytes, who have since made various settlements in different parts of the United States.
The principal persons in the sect, are the elders, father confessors, and saints. They enjoin confessions, penances, absolutions, &c. The members are frequently honoured by the miraculous interpositions of the Deity. Indeed they affirm that they do every thing by “a gift," that is; by an immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit. An account of the application of this very rational doctrine is thus given in the North American Review. of one of the Shaker settlements, of a cheerful happy spirit, was once asked, whether he had his liberty, and could do as he pleased. Certainly,' said the youth (repeating, doubtless, what all are taught to believe); we do whatsoever we have a gift to. On being asked therefore, what he would do, if he wanted on a fine winter's morning to go
down and skate on Enfield Pond, he replied, I should tell the Elder, that I had a gift to go down and skate. Being further asked, whether the Elder would permit him; he answered, certainly, unless he had a gift that I should not go. But if you
“ A youth
still told the Elder that you had á gift to go down and skate, and gò you must? Why, then thie Élder would tell me that I had a lying gift, and that he had a gift to beat me, 'if I did not go about my work immediately.'"* "The Shakers maintain, that they ate the only true church; that all the rest of mankind will be damned; and that by “ the Second Dispensation,” that is, by the appearance of Anne Lee, the Old Testament and the gospels, which were before neces sary, are now useless. They have in consequence á bible of their own, called “ Christ's Second Appearance ; ” a work which persons who are not of their sect would consider as a curious proof of the madness of superstition.
Every one, whether man or woman, who may join the society, must give up all worldly possessions to what they call the Church. In obedience to this 'religious duty, húsbands leave their wives and families destitute, ånd occasion the greatest possible distress. Several States therefore have passed a law, obliging a man who may join the Shakers, to make some provision for his family.
Like all sects that pretend to the community of goods, the rule of equality is noť strictly adhered to. On the contrary, the Elders, and chief mén
North American Revieve, Jan. 1823, Art. Shaker. This article, though in my opinion much too favourable to the Shakers, is well worth perusal.
or women, are much better off than the rest, live in better houses, and have better fare.
As persons in the full possession of their faculties are little disposed to embrace visionary doctrines, it may at first be a matter of surprise to the reader, how this continent sect is enabled to keep up
its numbers, and even to be rather on the increase. But the Shakers will receive children of any age, preferring those who are very young; and poor people, who have large families, are induced to send one or more children to the Shakers, knowing that they will be well clothed and fed gratis, and moreover taught some useful trade. So far the society is a good one; but these children are only just taught to read and write, are not allowed to read any
book but the Shaker Bible, are made to look upon the Elders as demi-gods, and are constantly impressed with the charitable belief that the world's people” (thus they designate all who are not Shakers) will inevitably go to everlasting punishment. They have indeed very little intercourse with “ the world's people;" for all business is transacted by the Elders.
Those who know what influence superstition has upon the youthful mind, and how great an effort it requires, in those even who frequent the best society, to get rid of the prejudices in which they have been educated, may easily conceive what an influence this system, backed by the most profound ignorance, exerts upon the young proselytes. So strong in