In considering anything in the paSt we should never relax in our attention to dates. Even alone they give us much information, and a greater observation of them would have saved writers many assertions, on their face absurd. In the present instance they will inStantly make us see how exceedingly new was our new land at this period.
William took the throne in 1688. Though the Swedes and Dutch had arrived earlier in the Philadelphia neighbourhood, Penn had landed from The Welcome only six years before—in 1682. Governor Sayle's settlement in South Carolina was made in 1670. The firSt extant view of what is now New York —about 1642—shows a fort, a windmill, and a few small houses. The city was not finally surrendered to England till 1674. The earlieSt settlement of Virginia, JameStown, in 1607, was pra&ically annihilated by sickness and Starvation and it was not till
1613 that it could be said that "Englishmen had secured a fairly firm foothold in the Red Man's land." The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1620, and ten years later the Colony of Massachusetts was founded. A constant Stream of immigration followed, spreading into the other New England States. AlmoSt ceasing during the eighteen years of the English Civil War and the Commonwealth period—1642-1660—colonisation revived after the Restoration.
In these laSt years of the seventeenth century we can say that the settlements were thriving, but that back of them lay a wilderness. Roads were but trails, and in wet weather trails of mud. Our people were Still largely concerned with the securing of a degree of permanence, safety, and household comfort, but, as we have seen, excellent furniture was already produced and competent workmen were continually coming from the home-land. So, though we Still find the homely product of joiners, we also encounter William and Mary furniture worthy of its name and lineage.
Naturally, in date American furniture trailed the earliest English examples; for we muSt not only allow time for a certain Style to become sufficiently established and popular enough for the likelihood of copying (and this necessity is too frequently loSt sight of) but also a short period for it to be transferred and become popular here. This interval would considerably vary, according to conditions and closeness of intercourse. At some periods and in some places some American furniture of a new Style might be made here shortly after its original appearance, but we muSt be rather careful not to date the general product—the "run"—of a particular Style too early.
We muSt also remember that, as has been said, each mode would endure later than in England, for it would not so soon be superseded by the succeeding type. We can only date according to known probabilities, for exceedingly little American furniture is "documented" and family traditions are so notoriously untrustworthy as often indeed to be ridiculous. We shall find wills, descriptions, and other surviving records a reliable aid, and, in later periods, advertisements.
Owing to the continued resistance of James, William and Mary were not really settled upon the throne till the Battle of the Boyne, July i, 1690. We were not as yet avidly following the London fashions and we can scarcely count upon furniture of that Style being made here before 1692 to 1695. The reign laSted but fourteen years, but the Style endured here for a dozen or more years after William's death.
In reviewing the American furniture of this period we should realise that probably the larger proportion of it was of New England make. But, though Pefin-sylvania was so very new, it was settled by intelligent, well-to-do people, its climate was less severe than that of the north, and its progress was exceedingly rapid. Excellent workmen muSt have been among the firSt : settlers or have followed soon after, for even in this period very fine furniture was made in Philadelphia , and that city continued to be notable in this respedt/ until the cessation of all good mobiliary art about 1825/
In Virginia and Carolina, owing to the profitable cultivation of tobacco and rice, life had already taken on its well-known pidturesque aspedt. At this period there was no manufacture in those colonies, and very little later. Furniture was imported from England, being charged againSt existing credits, and, to a lesser extent, brought, coaStwise, from Philadelphia and other northern ports.
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