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[435] power was feared as a bulwark of authority, a limita-
Chap X.} 1645
tion of the power of the popular will.1

Such had been the progress of public opinion, when the popular party felt a consciousness of so great strength, as to desire a struggle with its opponents. The opportunity could not long be wanting. The executive magistrates, accustomed to tutelary vigilance over the welfare of the towns, had set aside a military election in Hingham. There had been, perhaps, in the proceedings, sufficient irregularity to warrant the interference. The affair came before the general court. ‘Two of the magistrates and a small majority of the deputies were of opinion that the magistrates exercised too much power, and that the people's liberty was thereby in danger; while nearly half the deputies, and all the rest of the magistrates, judged that authority was overmuch slighted, which, if not remedied, would endanger the commonwealth, and introduce a mere democracy. The two branches being thus at variance, a reference to the arbitration of the elders was proposed. But to this the deputies could by no means consent; for they knew that many of the elders were more careful to uphold the honor and power of the magistrates, than themselves well liked of.’ The angry conferences of a long session followed. But the magistrates, sustained by the ministers, excelled the popular party in firmness and in self-possession The latter lost ground by joining issue on a question where its own interest eventually required its defeat.

For the root of the disturbance at Hingham existed in ‘a presbyterial spirit,’ which opposed the government of the colonial commonwealth. Some of those

1 Winthrop, i. 82, 8, 151, 152. 299 300, 301, 302. II. 167. 169. 172. 204. 210. 307. 343.

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