The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

The New England Mind. By Perry Miller.
New York: The Macmillan Co., 1939. Pp. xiii, 528. $3.75.
From the author's foreword the following facts are gleaned:
first, this volume is the first of a series of three books on the
intellectual history of New England; second, this volume pre-
sents only "a topical analysis of various leading ideas in colonial
New England" rather "than a history of their development";
and third, "the original system of Puritanism survived" only
into the early part of the eighteenth century "without drastic
There are no footnotes, on which point the author says in
explanation: ". . . were I to supply a footnote indicating the
exact source of every direct quotation or the inspiration for many
remarks which are not literal citation, I should republish the
complete bibliography of early New England, with various addi-
tions, not merely once but many times over, and the documenta-
tion would run to as many pages as the text." Since all of the
writers quoted "were in complete agreement upon all the propo-
sitions" which the author discussed, it really did not seem nec-
essary to give references. For the information of other students
on this subject, the author reveals that he has deposited an
annotated copy of this book in the Harvard College Library.
Miller divides his volume into four "books" entitled, respec-
tively, Religion and Learning, Cosmology, Anthropology, and
Sociology. These represent the four large headings under which
he essays to give his descriptive analysis of the Puritan mind
and of what it regarded as truth. Each of these four "books"
has four chapters.
The first chapter in the last "book" on the covenant of grace
is quite revealing, particularly in view of the fact that the
controversy which raged in Massachusetts Bay Colony around
Mrs. Anne Hutchinson concerned the covenant of grace. In
this chapter, as indeed in all of the others, Miller's exposition
challenges the reader to be constantly on the alert. If Puritan-
ism was as hard to understand by those who called themselves
Puritans, or as difficult to explain by those who expounded it
from the pulpit or through the printed page, as Miller's expo-
sition by implication reveals at least to this reviewer, then there
is no wonder that the Puritans held tenaciously to their views,
for one does not readily surrender a set of beliefs which it has
been difficult to acquire.
The University of Texas.


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed August 30, 2014.