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Sale Of The Southwicks


Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

Bitter were the persecutions endured by Quakers at the hands of the
Puritans. They were flogged if they were restless in church, and flogged
if they did not go to it. Their ears were slit and they were set in the
stocks if they preached, and if any tender-hearted person gave them bed,
bite, or sup, he, too, was liable to punishment. They were charged with
the awful offence of preaching false doctrine, and no matter how pure
their lives might be, the stern Salemite would concede no good of them
while their faith was different from his. They even suspected Cobbler
Keezar of mischief when he declared that his magic lapstone which Agrippa
had torn from the tower at Nettesheim--gave him a vision of the time when
men would be as glad as nature, when the snuffler of psalms would sing
for joy, when priests and Quakers would talk together kindly, when
pillory and gallows should be gone. Poor Keezar! In ecstasy at that
prospect he flung up his arms, and his lapstone rolled into the
Merrimack. The tired mill-girls of Lowell still frequent the spot to seek
some dim vision of future comfort.

In contrast to the tales of habitual tyranny toward the Quakers is the
tradition of the Southwicks. Lawrence and Cassandra, of that name, were
banished from Salem, in spite of their blameless lives, for they had
embraced Quakerism. They died within three days of each other on Shelter
Island, but their son and daughter, Daniel and Provided, returned to
their birthplace, and were incessantly fined for not going to church. At
last, having lost their property through seizures made to satisfy their
fines, the General Court of Boston issued an order for their sale, as
slaves, to any Englishman of Virginia or Barbadoes. Edward Butter was
assigned to sell and take them to their master. The day arrived and Salem
market-place was crowded with a throng of the curious. Provided Southwick
mounted the block and Butter began to call for bids. While expatiating on
the aptness of the girl for field or house-service, the master of the
Barbadoes ship on which Butter had engaged passage for himself and his
two charges looked into her innocent face, and roared, in noble dudgeon,
If my ship were filled with silver, by God, I'd sink her in harbor
rather than take away this child! The multitude experienced a quick
change of feeling and applauded the sentiment. As the judges and officers
trudged away with gloomy faces, Provided Southwick descended from the
auction-block, and brother and sister went forth into the town free and

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