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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/1004024-Vile-Virile-Vices
Rated: 18+ · Book · Personal · #1196512
Not for the faint of art.
#1004024 added February 9, 2021 at 12:01am
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Vile, Virile Vices
I always find it amusing, in a dark-humor sort of way, how often groups of people flee religious persecution so that they can install their own.

Few examples are more obvious than the Puritan settlers of Massachusetts. And while the land they settled eventually came around to the ideals of freedom of religion and expression -- well, at least up to a certain point -- their insistence on a narrow view of morality echoes to this day like the reverberating sound of a turd hitting the slurry at the bottom of an outhouse.

Apparently, Thomas Morton didn’t get the memo. The English businessman arrived in Massachusetts in 1624 with the Puritans, but he wasn’t exactly on board with the strict, insular, and pious society they had hoped to build for themselves.

Why would such a person brave an uncertain ocean journey with such horrible people? Why, money, of course.

The Puritans’ move across the pond was motivated by both religion and commerce, but Morton was there only for the latter reason, as one of the owners of the Wollaston Company.


His business partner—slave-owning Richard Wollaston—moved south to Virginia to expand the company’s business...

I'd suggest cancelling this guy, but it seems history already has.

...but Morton was already deeply attached to the land, in a way his more religious neighbors likely couldn’t understand. “He was extremely responsive to the natural world and had very friendly relations with the Indians,” says Heath, while “the Puritans took the opposite stance: that the natural world was a howling wilderness, and the Indians were wild men that needed to be suppressed.”

It's funny because the researcher's name is Heath, which is a word for an area in a state of nature, which gave us the word "heathen."

After Wollaston left, Morton enlisted the help of some brave recruits—both English and Native—to establish the breakoff settlement of Ma-Re Mount, also known as Merrymount, preserved today in the Quincy neighborhood and park of the same name.

Incidentally, if you're not aware, Quincy is pronounced like "quin'-zee." Just in case you find yourself in the Boston area one day, don't get tripped up by this shibboleth.

The Puritan authorities didn’t see Merrymount as a free-wheeling annoyance; they saw an existential threat.

Of course they did. The thing most frightening to a Puritan is the horrible idea that someone, somewhere, is having a good time.

With Plymouth’s monopoly dissolved and its perceived enemies armed, Morton had perhaps done more than anyone else to undermine the Puritan project in Massachusetts.

I should absolutely build a shrine to this guy.

Worse yet, in the words of Plymouth’s governor William Bradford, Morton condoned “dancing and frisking together” with the Native Americans—activities that were banned even without Native American participation.

Snort. "Frisking." Snort. Which reminds me of a joke. Why aren't Puritan kids allowed to make out? Because it might lead to dancing.

There could be no greater symbol of such misrule than Morton’s maypole. Reaching 80 feet into the air, the structure conjured all the vile, virile vices of Merry England that the Puritans had hoped to leave behind.

I'm absolutely, totally stealing "vile, virile vices." Oh, wait, I already did, for this entry's title.

The article goes on to talk about the book in the title of the piece, and I feel like I really should own a facsimile of it (I'm not quite impressed, or rich, enough to try to track down a first edition).

After publishing the book, Morton braved a venture back to his beloved Massachusetts, only to be turned right back around upon arrival. He tried to cross the Atlantic once again in 1643, and was this time exiled to Maine, where he died.

There are probably worse fates, but I can't think of any offhand.

So, a short read, and worth it -- and the source, Atlas Obscura is a wonderful fount of information. The only problem is they keep posting places to visit in Belgium, and I don't know if I'll be able to go to them all.

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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/1004024-Vile-Virile-Vices