Trent and Wells, eds. Colonial Prose and Poetry. 1901.
Vol. II. The Beginnings of Americanism: 16501710
PETER FOLGER, whose name as a New England poet is embalmed in Franklins Autobiography, was born in England, 1617, and died at Nantucket, Massachusetts, in 1690. He emigrated to New England in 1635, and settled first in Watertown, then in Marthas Vineyard, as teacher, surveyor, and assistant to the Indian missionary, Thomas Mayhew. He afterward became a Baptist, and moved in 1663 to Nantucket, where he served as surveyor and interpreter, and for a time, as clerk of the courts. Cotton Mather says that he was pious and learned. His chief poem, A Looking Glass for the Times, or the Former Spirit of New England Revived in this Generation (1675), is described by Franklin as having been written with manly freedom and a pleasing simplicity agreeably to the taste of the times and the country. The author addresses himself to the Governors of the Colonies, speaks for liberty of conscience, and in favor of the toleration of sects, among them the Quakers and Anabaptists, who had suffered persecution. Folger was far from being a poet, but he was a man of sound sense, and some of the stanzas which we reproduce have not lost their point or their application to-day.