תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

within the limits of their patent, and to enquire whether, in case of their removal, i he king would grant them liberty of conscience.

The agents were successful in their application. The company assured them that they would do every thing in their power to forward so good a design, and were willing to grant them a patent with ample privileges. But such was the bigotry of the times, that the king, though folicited by some of the first men in the kingdom, could not be prevailed upon to grant them liberty in religion. He did, however, at last agree to connive at them, and to permit them to live unmolested, provided they behaved peaceably ; but to tolerate them by his public authority under his feal, was inadmisible.

This was indeed discouraging to the pious people at Leyden ; yet with an humble confidence in divine providence, they determined to pursue their original design.

Accordingly they sent their agents to England, where, in Septeinber; 1619, after a long attendance, they obtained of the Virginia company a patent of the northern parts of Virginia * This patent, with proposals from Mr. Weston, and several other respectable merchants and friends, respecting their migration, were transmitted to the people at Leyden, for their conlideration. These were accompanied with a request that they would immediately commence their preparations for the voyage. On receiving this intelligence, the people, agreeably to their pious custom previous to their engaging in any important affair; appointed a day of solemn prayer, on which occasion, Mr. Robinson, in a fermon from 1 Sam. xxiii. 3, 4. endeavoured to dispel their fears, and encourage their resolution

As it was not convenient for them all to go at firit, not even for all who were willing, they improved this religious opportunity to determine who should first embark. After canvalling the matter, it was found convenient for the greater number to remain, for the present, at Leyden ; and of course Mr. Robinson, according to agreement, was to tarry with them. The other part, with Mr. Brewster for their elder and teacher, agreed to be the first adventurers. The neceffary preparations were now to be made. A small ship of fixty tons was purchased, and fitted out in Holland ; and another of about one hundred and eighty tons; hired in London. The former was called the Speedwell, and the latter the May flower. All other matters being prepared, a large concourse of friends from Leyden and Amsterdam, accompanied the adventurers to the ship, which lay at Delf Haven ; and the night preceding their embarkation was spent in tearful prayers, and in the most tender and friendly intercourse. The next day fair wind invited their departure. The parting scene is more easily felt than described. Their mutual good wishes their affectionate and cordial embraces, and other endearing expressions of christian love and friendship, drew tears even from the eyes of the strangers who beheld the scene. When the time arrived that they must part, they all, with their beloved paftor, fell on their knees, and with eyes, and hands, and hearts lifted to Heaven, fervently commended their adventuring

brethren

ons.

* This patent was taken out in the name of Fohn Wincob, who providentially never came to America, and so all their trouble and expence in obtaining it were loft, as they never made any use of it.

[ocr errors]

brethren to the Lord and his blessing. Thus, after mutual embraces, accompanied with many tears, they bid a long, and inany of them, a last farewel.

This was on the 22d of July, 1620 The same day they failed before a fair wind for Southampton, where they found the other ship from London, with the rest of the adventurers.

After they had made the necessary preparations for embarkation, they divided then selves into two companies, one for each ship, and with the approbation of the captains, each company chose a governor, and two or three assistants to preserve order among the people, and to distribute the provisions. On the 5th of August they sailed, but the finallest Ship proved fo leaky, that they were obliged to return and refit. On the 21st of Auguft they failed again, and proceeded about one hundred leagues from land, when they found their little ship totally unfit for the voyage, and returned.

It was not until the 6th of September that they put to sea again, leaving their little ship, and part of their company behind. On the oth of November, after a dangerous voyage, they arrived at Cape Cod, and the next day anchored in the harbour which is formed by the hook of the cape. . This was not the place of their destination, neither was it within the liinits of their patent.

It was their intention to have settled at the mouth of Hudson's river ; but the Dutch, intending to plant a colony there of their own, privately hired the master of the ship to contrive delays in England, and then to conduct them to these northern coasts, and there, under pretence of shoals and winter, to discourage them from venturing to the place of destination. 'This is confidently afferted by the historians of that time. Although the harbour in which they had anchored was good, the country around was fandy and barren. These were discouraging circumstances; but the season being far advanced, they prudently determined to make the best of their present situation.

As they were not within the limits of their patent, and consequently not under the jurisdiction of the Virginia company, they concluded it necessary to establish a separate government for themselves. Accordingly, before they landed, having on their knees devoutly given thanks to God for their safe arrival, they formed themselves into a body politic, by a SOLEMN CONTRACT +, to which they all subscribed, thereby making it the basis of their government. They chose Mr. John Carver, a gentleman of piety and approved abilities, to be their governor for the first year. This was on the sith of Nove.nber.

Their

[ocr errors]

+ The following is an authentic copy of this contrad—In the Name of God Apien: We whole Names are under-written, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c.

Haring undertaken for the Glory of God, and advancement of the Chriftian Faith, and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to Plart the first Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia ; Do by these Presents folemnly and mutually in the Presence of God, and one of another, Covenant and Combine

ourselves

Their next object was to fix on a convenient place for settlement. In doing this they were obliged to encounter numerous difficulties, and to suffer incredible hardships. Many of them were fick in confequence of the fatigues of a long voyage-their provisions were bad the season was uncommonly cold_ihe Indians, though afterwards friendly, were now hostile—and they were unacquainted with the coast. These difficulties they surmounted ; and on the 31st of December they were all safely land ed at a place, which, in grateful commemoration of Plymouth in England, the town which they last left in their native land, they called PLYMOUTH, This is the firft English town that was settled in New England.

In some of their excursions in search of a suitable place for settlement, they found buried several baskets of Indian corn, to the amount of ten bushels, which fortunately served thein for planting the next spring, and perhaps was the means of preserving them from perishing with hunger. They made diligent enquiry for the owners, whom they found, and alterwards paid the full value of the corn.

Before the end of November, Susanna, the wife of William White, was delivered of a son, whom they called Pe REGRINE. He is supposed to have been the first child of European extract, born in New England.

The whole company that landed consisted of but 101 souls. Their fituation was diftrefling, and their profpect truly disonal and discouraging. Their nearest neighbours, except the natives, were a French settlement at Port Royal, and one of the English at Virginia. The nearest of these was soo miles from them, and utterly incapable of affording them relief in a time of famine and danger. Wherever they turned their eyes, distress was before them. Persecuted for their religion in their native land -grieved for the profanation of the holy fabbath, and other licentious ness in Holland-fatigued by their long and boisterous voyage-disappointed, through the treachery of their commander, of their expected country—forced on a dangerous and unknown shore, in the advance of a cold winter – surrounded with hoftile barbarians, without any hope of human fuccour-denied the aid or favour of the court of England-withcut a patent--without a public promise of the peaceable enjoyment of their religious liberties-worn out with toil and sufferings, without convenient thelter from the rigours of the weather.-Such were the prospects, and such the situation of these pious, folitary christians. To add to their distresses, a general and very mortal fickness prevailed among them, which fwept off forty-six of their number before the opening of the next spring,

То

ourselves together unto a Civil Body Politic, for our better Ordering and Preserva. tion, and furtherance of the Ends aforesaid ; and by Virtue hereof to enact, cona stitute, and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices from Time to Time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General Good of the Coony ; unto which we Promise all due Submifsion and Obedience : In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our Names ai Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the rear of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King JAMES of England, France, and Ireland the Eighteenth, ani of Scotland the Fifty-fourth, Anno Domini, 1620."

This inftrument was signed by 41 beads of families, with the number in ibeir respective families annexed, making in the whole 101 souls.

[ocr errors]

To support them under these trials, they had need of all the aids and com: forts which christianity affords; and these were sufficient. The free and unmolested enjoyment of their religion, reconciled them to their humble and lonely fituation they bore their hardthips with unexampled patience, and perfevered in their pilgrimage of almost unparalleled trials, with fuch resignation and calmness, as gave proof of great piety and unconquerable virtue.

On the 3d of November, 1620, king James signed a patent incorporating the duke of Lenox, the marquises of Buckingham and Hamilton, the earls of Arundel and Warwick, Sir Francis Gorges, with thirty-four others, and their fucceffors, styling them, · The council established at Plymouth in the county of Devon, for the planting, ruling, ordering, and governing of New-England in America. To this council he granted all that part of America which lies between the 40th and 48th degrees of north latitude. This patent is the great civil basis of all the grants and patents by which New-England was afterwards divided.

The Plymouth council retained the power vested in them by the crown until the year 1635, when they resigned their charter. Previous to this, however, the council had made several grants of lands to adventurers, who proposed to settle in New England. They granted New Hampshire to Capt. John Mason, in 1621– the Province of Main, to Sir R. Gorges, in 1622, and Massachusetts-Bay to Sir Henry Rofwell and five others, in 1627.

As early as March, 1621, Mafaffoit*, one of the most powerful Sagamores of the neighbouring Indians, with fixty attendants, made a visit to the Plymouth lettlers, and entered into a formal and very friendly treaty with shem, wherein they agreed to avoid injuries on both sides--to punish offerders to restore stolen goods-10 ailiit each other in all justifiable wars --to promote peace among their neighbours, &c. Mafafsoit and his fuca ceffors, for fifty years, inviolably observed this treaty. The English are much indebted to him for his friendship, and his memory will ever be refpected in New-England.

The Narraganfetts, difiking the conduct of Mafafsoit, declared war against him, which occafioned much confusion and fighting among the Indians. The Plymouth colony interposed in favour of Malassoit, their good ally, and terminated the dispute, to the terror of their enemies. Even CANONICUS hin felf, the terrific Sachem of the Narraganfetts, füed for peace.

T'he prudent, friendly, and upright conduct of the Plymouth colony toward their neighbours, the Indians, secured their friendthip and alliance. On the i 3th of September, 1621, no less than nine Sachems declared allegiance to king James; and Mafafsoit, with many of his Sub-Sachers, who lived around the bays of Patuxent and Massachusetts, subscribed a writing acknowledging the king of England their master. These transactions are to many proofs of the peaceful and benevolent disposition of the Plymouth sertlers; for had they been otherwise disposed they never could have introduced and maintained a friendly intercourse with the natives.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Oni

* The seat of Mafafsoit was at Pakanekir, on Namasket river, which emplies into Narragansett Bay,

On the oth of Sept. this year, the king granted to Sir William Alexa ander a patent of all the tract of country bounded by a line drawn from Cape Sabies to the Bay of St. Mary; thence to the river St. Croix, thence norih to Canada river--down the river to Gachepe ; thence south-east to Cape-Breton Idland and Cape-Breton; thence round to Cape-Sables, with all seas and if ınds within six leagues of the western and eastern parts, and within forty leagues southward of Cape-Breton and Cape-Sables ; to be called Nova Scotia.

The first duel in New-England, was fought with sword and dagger between two servants. Neither of them were killed, but both were wounded, For this disgraceful offence, they were formally tried before the whole company, and sentenced to have their heads and feet tied together, and so to be iwenty-four hours without meat or drink.' Such, however, was the painfulness of their situation, and their piteous intreaties to be releaferi, that, upon promise of better behaviour in future, they were soon relea:cd by the governor

. Such was the origin, and such, I may almost venture to add, was the termination of the odious practice of duelling in New-England, for there have been very few duels fought there since. The true method of preventing crimes is to render them disgraceful. Upon this principle, can there be invented a punishment better calculated to exterminate this criminal practice, than the one already mentioned ?

In 1622, Mr. Weston fent over a colony, which attempted a settlement at Weymouth. But they being a set of rude, profane fellows, regardless of justice, provoked the Indians by stealing their corn, and other abuses, to become their enemies, and occasioned much trouble both to themselves and the Plymouth settlers. At length the Indians entered into a conspiracy to destroy the settlement, and would have effected it, had it not been for the interposition of their Plymouth friends. Such, however, was the reduced state of the colony, and their danger from the natives, that they thought it prudent to break up the settlement; which they did in March 1623, and afterwards returned to England.

This year (1622) died Squanto the friend of the English, who merits to have his name perpetuated in history. Squanto was one of the twenty Indians whom Hunt perfidiously carried to Spain fr; whence he came to London, ard afterwards to his native country with the Plymouth colony, Forgetting the perfidy of those who made him a captive, he became a warın friend to the English, and continued so to the day of his death. A few days before he died, he desired the governor to pray that he might go to the Englishman's God in heaven. He gave the few ar to several of his English friends as remenibrañces of his love.

We have already mentioned that Mr. Carver was elected governor of the colony inmediately after their arrival. He died the gth of April following. His loss was most sensibly felt, and sincerely lamented. He was a man of great piety, and indefatigable in his endeavours to advance the interest and happiness of the colony. Mr. William Bradford was soon af ter chosen to succeed him in office. This gentleman, by renewed elections, was continued in office until he died in 1657, except in 1633, 1636 and 1644, when Edward Winflow was chosen, and 1634, when Thomas Prince

f See Page 28

« הקודםהמשך »