Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

out consenting to these conditions, the Pilgrims could not have been transported to America. Mr. Weston had much of the management in his hands, and Mr. Cushman, the principal agent of the Pilgrims, found himself compelled to accede to the proposals, “ although they were very afflictive to the minds of such as were concerned in the voyage, and hard enough for the poor people, that were to adventure their persons as well as their estates.” To the reluctance expressed, and complaints made, Mr. Cushman was obliged to answer," that unless they had so ordered the conditions, the whole design would have fallen to the ground; and necessity, they said, having no law, they were constrained to be silent."

The co-partnership was for seven years. The shares were ten pounds each. For every person going, the personality (that is, from sixteen years of age) was accounted one share for him, and every ten pounds put in by him, was accounted an additional share. At the end of the copartnership of seven years, all the possessions of the colony, with everything gained by them, were to be equally divided among the whole of the Adventurers, Merchants as well as Pilgrims. Such was the essence of the copartnership, on the grounds of which alone the Pilgrims could find friends to help them in getting to America. Such a trading company was none of their seeking, nor was it the object of their religious enterprise ; but God made use of it for them, as we have said, in the place of pulleys and framework, to hoist the stones of his Living Temple into their intended position; and when that was done, the frame-work · went into various uses and places, but was much of it, as useless lumber, thrown away.

In form, the Articles of Agreement between the Pilgrims and the Merchant Adventurers were precisely as follows, in ten particulars:

1. The Adventurers and Planters do agree that every person that goeth, being sixteen years old and upwards, be rated at ten pounds, and that ten pounds be accounted a single share.

2. That he that goeth in person, and furnisheth himself out with ten pounds, either in money or other provisions, be accounted as having twenty pounds in stock, and in the divisions shall receive a double share.

3. The persons transported, and the Adventurers, shall continue their joint stock and partnership the space of seven years, except some unexpected impediments do cause the whole company to agree otherwise ; during which time all profits and benefits that are gotten by trade, traffic, trucking, working, fishing, or any other means, of any other person or persons, shall remain still in the common stock until the division.

4. That at their coming there, they shall choose out such a number of fit persons as may furnish their ships and boats for fishing upon the sea ; employing the rest in their several faculties upon the land, as building houses, tilling and planting the ground, and making such commodities as shall be most useful for the Colony.

5. That at the end of the seven years, the capital and the profits, namely, the houses, lands, goods, and chattels, be equally divided among the Adventurers.

6. Whoever cometh to the Colony hereafter, or putteth anything into the stock, shall, at the end of the seven years, be allowed proportionally, to the time of his so doing

7. He that shall carry his wife, or children, or servants, shall be allowed for every person now aged sixteen years and upwards, a single share in the division; or if he provide them necessaries, a double share; or if they be between ten years old and sixteen, then two of them to be reckoned for a person, both in transportation and division.

8. That such children as now go, and are under the age of ten years, have no other share in the division than fifty acres of unmanured land.

9. That such persons as die before the seven years be expired, their executors to have their parts or share at the division, proportionably to the time of their life in the Colony.

10. That all such persons as are of the Colony to have meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions, out of the common stock and goods of said Colony.

Such was the rigorous contract, by which alone the Pilgrims were enabled to raise the means for their trans· portation and first establishment as a Colony.

Under these agreements it might well be said that it cost the first Pilgrims seven years of hard labor to get from England to America. This copartnership was in reality their passage money. They had to “prepare for it with speed, sell their estates, and put their money into a common stock, to be disposed by their managers for making general provisions.” They then had, for some years, a dependence upon, and connexion with, the Merchant Adventurers, which grew more and more perplexing every month. It proved the means of introducing worthless men among them, or round about them, Canaanites and Jebusites to be yet in the land, as thorns for them. Some, who came to join the Pilgrims, at the bidding or permission of the Merchant Adventurers, “ were so bad, that they were forced to be at the charge to send them home the very next year.” But any expense could better be endured than the presence of such vicious, corrupting, destructive elements among them.

In the summer of 1623 there came a letter to the Pilgrims subscribed by thirteen of the Adventurers, kindly, and encouraging. “Let it not be grievous to you,” said they, “that you have been the instruments to break the ice for others, who come after with less difficulty ; the honor shall be yours to the world's end. We bear you always in our breasts, and our hearty affection is towards you all,

[ocr errors]

as are the hearts of hundreds more, which never saw your faces, who doubtless pray your safety as their own.”

But in the spring of 1624, Mr. Winslow, whom the Pilgrims had sent over as their agent, returned from England, bringing a“ sad account of a strong faction among the Adventurers against us, and especially against the coming of Mr. Robinson and the rest from Leyden.” The result of the conspiracy of this faction, as well as the nature and purpose of it, will be seen detailed in our Chapter concerning the first imposition of a minister. We have now only to follow the Adventurers to the end of their copartnership.

By the year 1624, the general stock already employed by the Adventurers to Plymouth, as related in Prince from Smith's History, was about seven thousand pounds.

By the year 1625, upon the discovery and explosion of the plot against the Pilgrims, and the decision of Oldham, who was the instrument of the faction among the Merchants, to stay at Nantasket and trade for himself," the company of Adventurers to Plymouth,” says Governor Bradford, “brake in pieces, two thirds of them deserting

us.”

But they not only deserted the Colony, but turned against it, and went so far as to attempt undermining its trade and taking its property. They sent out a ship for fishing, and took the stage of the Pilgrims and other provisions, or arrangements prepared the year before for fishing at Cape Ann at a great expense on the part of the Colony, and refused to restore the property without fighting.

Upon which," as the record reads in Mr. Prince's Chronology,

we let them keep it, and our Governor sends some planters to help the fishermen build another."

Upon which we let them keep it. What an instance of noble, Christian magnanimity and forbearance! When Captain Miles Standish came, he could hardly endure it, and was for reclaiming it by force with a soldier's arguments; but the nobler conquest by far was that of a proud

66

generosity and Christian principle that would not fight for a summer's fishing tackle ; and the end was, we let them keep it, and much good may it do them.

Some of the Adventurers still remained friendly to the Pilgrims. We shall see further detail in regard to their character, letters, and measures, in the Chapter on Governor Bradford's Letter Book. At present they wrote by Mr. Winslow as follows:

“We cannot forget you, nor our friendship and fellowship we have had some years. Our hearty affections towards you (un. known by face) have been no less than to our nearest friends, yea, to our own selves. As there has been a faction among us more than two years, so now there is an utter breach and sequestration. The Company's debts are no less than 1400 pounds, and we hope you will do your best to free them. We are still persuaded you are the people that must make a plantation in those remote places, where all others fail. We have sent some cattle, clothes, hose, shoes, leather, &c., for Allerton and Winslow to sell as our factors."

The positive proof accompanying these professions of friendship was, that the goods were ordered to be sold at the enormous rate of seventy per cent. advance; a thing, as Governor Bradford quietly remarks, “thought unreasonable, and a great oppression.” Seventy per cent. advance, and hearty affections as to their own selves! Somewhat still of bitter experience for the Pilgrims; but there was no help for it, and the cattle they found the best commodity. A very unconscious satire, on their part.

On the receipt of these affections, cattle, shoes, &c., the Pilgrims despatched Captain Standish as their agent “ both to the remaining Adventurers for more goods, and to the New England Council, to oblige the others (the factious and inimical Adventurers) to come to a composition.” They chose the military man of the Colony for this, one who would fear nothing, and possessed a marvellous de

« VorigeDoorgaan »