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Now it is remarkable how often the Providence of God shut up the Colonists to the repetition of these same free Covenants, both in Church and State, sometimes by compelling them to settle without the regular patents which they had been seeking, and sometimes by throwing them upon places of settlement beyond the limits of the patents which they had obtained. This was the case with the first Colony of Connecticut, in 1636. “They had a sort of commission from the Government of the Massachusetts Bay, for the administration of justice till they could come
a more orderly settlement; but finding themselves without the limits of their jurisdiction, they entered into a voluntary association, choosing magistrates, and making laws for themselves, after the example of the Colony from whence they issued. Thus they continued, until the restoration of King Charles II., when, by the industry and application of Mr. John Winthrop, Jr., they obtained as ample a charter as was ever enjoyed by any people.”*
The same was the case with the colony under Eaton and Davenport, in 1637, at New Haven. “ They purchased of the natives,” says Mr. Neal, “all the land that lies between Connecticut River and Hudson's, which divides the Southern part of New England from New York, and removed thither towards the latter end of the summer. They seated themselves in the Bay, and spread along the coast, where they built first the town of New Haven, which gives name to the colony; and then the towns of Guilford, Milford, Stamford, and Braintree. After some time they crossed the Bay, and made several settlements in Long Island, erecting churches in all places where they came, after the Independent form, of which Mr. Davenport was a great patron. But the New Haven Colony lay under the same disadvantage with Connecticut, as to a charter; were without the Massachusetts jurisdiction, and were therefore under no government, nor had any other title to their lands, but what they had from the natives. They entered therefore into a voluntary combination, and formed themselves into a body politic, after the manner of those of Connecticut. Thus they continued, till the year 1664, when King Charles II. united the two colonies, and by a charter settled their liberties on a solid foundation.” *
* Neal's History of New England, Vol. ii. page 148.
Settled their liberties on a solid foundation ! But God had settled them before. The Historian seems to imagine that they had no solid foundation, till the King of England chartered them; and such a King to charter the liberty of the Pilgrims! The Historian seems to be marvelling in his mind how could the poor, unprotected, ungoverned, because unchartered; adventurers, possibly get on from 1637 to 1664, without the King's broad seal, and with their lands only purchased from the natives ! How they could live and prosper, with the mere voluntary framing of themselves into a body politic, with their own laws and magistrates, after the manner of those of Connecticut, seemed a riddle to the royalist spectators. And even Mr. Neal appears to think that their title to their lands was really better, signed with the name of King Charles, than with the arrowheads of the Sachems from whom they were purchased.
The only use of a charter, that we can think of, was to give them the privileges of an incorporation by law, and to secure them from the intrusion of other companies or individuals. But as to the security of their liberties under such Monarchs as the Stuarts, if they were not secured by their own virtue, firmness, and voluntary combination, a charter was worth nothing. Besides, in the view of the royalists, the people chartered by the Monarch were bound to be of his sentiments in their religious as well as their civil polity, and every ordinance and institution of the Church of England was binding upon them. Even in our own day, by distinguished historians, a grave charge has been brought against our Pilgrim Fathers, for daring to disregard the sentiments of the Monarch under whose authority they settled in America, so far as even to adopt in their infant church the Independent form of Ecclesiastical policy! One can hardly read such sober accusations without a smile ; but the Historian Grahame devotes several of his excellent pages to their refutation.*
* Neal's Hist. N. Eng. Vol. i., pages 152, 153.
THE FIRST SETTLEMENT, FOLLOWING THE FIRST COMPACT.
DISCOVERY OF PLYMOUTH.—THE HARBOR, THE LOCALITIES, THE ASSOCIATIONS. -PLYMOUTH ROCK, AND THE BEAUTY OF THE HIGH-TIDE SCENERY.
The Capes of New England are regions both of material and spiritual grandeur, for the sea-scenery is glorious, and the historical associations are full of interest. favorable season of the year, and a clear bright day, a day, for example, in the Indian summer, and earth has not anything to show more fair, in a mood of harmony between the atmosphere and ocean, than the sea-views all along the New England coast. Some of its harbors are of the finest in the world ; but others, if they can be called such, receive unprotected the whole broadside of the Atlantic. There is an inexhaustible and most romantic variety in the bays, capes, beaches, inlets, islands, promontories, crags, and marsh-meadows of its rock-bound shores.
The sweep of Cape Cod is a most remarkable formation. Since the creation of the world we know not what use was ever made of it, till the May Flower was stopped by it in her voyage, and compelled there to come to anchor. An enthusiastic mind wanders over that whole region with delight; for here was the opening of a new dispensation in the great things that connect earth with heaven ; a new
scene in the History of Redemption ; a new school, a free school, of discipline and instruetion for God's church. Here the imaginative and romantic are combined with the sternest realities, in the circle of Christian life, labor, and experience, in the unfolding of God's plan. In process of time there may be a new Christian Epic, and these rude names and places of Cape Cod, Pakanokit, Patuxet, Naumkeag, will be among the central points of a region invested with imaginative beauty, and fraught with rich and powerful associations ; so that by and by the Islands of the Homeric seas, and the coasts of Palinurus' navigation, will not possess a more poetic and classic interest.
From Cape Cod Harbor, leaving the May Flower there, the Pilgrims set out on their exploring expeditions to find a place of permanent settlement. They were anxious and hurried, not only by the lateness of the season, on the verge of winter, but by the actual danger of being set ashore anywhere, at the will of the Captain of the little ship, and abandoned of all human aid to their fate, even before they had a single roof for shelter. There are one or two passages in the Journal, which, combined with some historical hints from other sources, have a great deal of meaning in them, to open fully to our minds the hazardous position of the Pilgrims. Of this nature is that note among their reasons urged for a hasty settlement at Cape Cod, namely: “it was also conceived, whilst we had competent victuals, that the ship would stay with us; but when that grew less, they would be gone, and let us shift as we could.” It is quite evident from this, and from some other indications, that they feared the ship-master, and had no confidence in him ; which inclines us to give some credit to the affirmation of Mr. Morton in his memorial, that the May Flower was forced into Cope Cod harbor “more especially by the fraudulency and contrivance of Mr. Jones, the master of the ship; for their intention, as is before noted, and his engagement, was to Hudson's river.