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The next letter, Governor Bradford says, is the first received from England after the breach and separation between the Adventurers and the Pilgrims. It is signed by Messrs. Sherley, Collier, Fletcher, and Holland; but as
! Sherley at that time was sick, and thought to be nigh unto death, Governor Bradford concludes that the letter was written by Mr. Cushman at the request of the others. It bears internal evidence of being Mr. Cushman's. The following extract may show its excellent spirit and tenor in respect to advice and counsel.
“Seeing our generality (that is, the Company of Adventurers) here is dissolved, let yours be the more firm; and do not you like those carnal people, which run into evils and inconveniences by examples, but rather be warned by your harms, to cleave faster together hereafter. Take heed of long and sharp disputes and opposition; give no passage to the waters, no, not a tittle ; let not hatred or heart-burning be harbored in the breast of any of you one moment, but forgive and forget all former failings and abuses, and renew your love and friendship together daily. There is often more sound friendship and sweeter fellowship in afflictions and crosses, than in prosperity and favors; and there is reason for it; because envy flieth away, when there is nothing but necessities to be looked on, but is always a bold guest where prosperity shows itself."
“ And although we here, which are hedged about with so many favors and helps in worldly things and comforts, forget friendship and love, and oftentimes fall out for trifles, yet must not you do so, but must in these things turn a new leaf, and be of another spirit. We here can fall out with a friend and lose him to-day, and find another tomorrow; but you cannot do so; you have no such choice; you must make much of them you have, and count him a very good friend, which is not a professed enemy. We have a trade and custom of tale-bearing, whispering, and
changing of old friends for new, and these things with us are incurable. But you, which do, as it were, begin a new world, and lay the foundation of sound piety and humanity for others to follow, must suffer no such weeds in your garden, but nip them in the head, and cast them out for ever; and must follow peace and study quietness, having fervent love amongst yourselves, as a perfect and entire bond to uphold you when all else fails you.
“ And albeit the company here, as a company, hath lost you; you know when Saul left David, yea and pursued him, yet David did not abuse his allegiance and loyalty to him; no more should you: the evil of us here cannot justify any evil in you, but you must still do your duty, though we neglect ours. We think it but reason, that after your necessities are served, you gather together such commodities as the country yields, and send them over to pay debts and clear engagements here, which are not less than 1400 pounds.
** Have an eye rather on your ill-deservings at God's hand, than upon the failings of your friends towards you; and wait on him with patience and good conscience; rather admiring his mercies than repining at his crosses, with the assurance of faith, that what is wanting here shall be made up in glory a thousand fold. Go on, good friends, comfortably pluck up your hearts cheerfully, and quit yourselves like men in all difficulties, that through displeasure and threats of men yet the work may go on which you are about, and not be neglected, which is as much for the glory of God and the furtherance of our countrymen, as that a man may with the more comfort spend his life in it, than live the life of Methusaleh in wasting the plenty of a tilled land, or eating the fruit of a grown tree.”
This curious letter, which Governor Bradford says is in Cushman's hand, bears marks of the same style of authorship conspicuous in the discourse on self-love, which Mr.
Cushman delivered to the Pilgrims when he was himself at Plymouth in 1621. But it is evident that he would not have written it, except at the desire and in behalf of the Adventurers. It is an apology for their own ill conduct, and a deprecation of any retaliation for the same on the part of the Pilgrims. The Adventurers wish to secure themselves, and although in breaking up the Company, and the greater part of them turning against the Colony, they had forfeited all legal claim on account of the partnership, yet they must have their debts paid, and the other Pilgrims
them. And whereas vicious courses may be pursued in England, and much worldly comfort still retained, and new friends gained in the place of old ones discarded, yet seeing this cannot be the case among the Pilgrims, they must at all hazards pursue the path of self-denial, and stick close to habits of virtue. And whereas in England money and goods were to be got at six per cent. interest, the Colony, as expecting hardships, and now in some measure accustomed to them, must not think strange if they have to pay seventy per cent. for the same.
“ And it standeth you in need the more carefully to look to, and make much of all your commodities, by how much the more they are chargeable to you; and though we hope you shall not want things necessary, yet we think the harder they are got the more carefully they will be husbanded. Good friends, as you buy them, keep a decorum in distributing them, and let none have varieties and things for delight, when others want for their mere necessities."
This was written to a people, who were all laboring with their hands for their daily bread, and struggling also for the subsistence of others thrown upon them. Little need there was, truly, of cautioning them to make much of such costly commodities, and to have a decorum about distributing them for mere delight and variety, when they were charged for them seventy per cent. advance on the
prices which they cost the Adventurers in England! And yet these commodities about which they were to be so careful lest any should have them for superfluities, were the very necessaries of life to the Colony; as cattle, cloth, hose, shoes, leather, and so forth. The Adventurers thought the harder they were got, the more carefully they would be husbanded ; and therefore with kindly foresight made them seventy per cent. more costly than they were at home! A sure way to encourage industry, self-denial, and economical husbandry !
We think neither Mr. Sherley nor Mr. Cushman could have been partners, except from sheer necessity, and to avoid a greater evil, to such transactions. Indeed, we doubt if Mr. Sherley knew anything about the detail of these measures, for he was at this time at the point of death. And Mr. Cushman wrote, on his behalf and his own, to Governor Bradford, as follows:
" Mr. Sherley, who lieth even at the point of death, entreated me, even with tears, to write to excuse him, and signify how it was with him. He remembers his hearty, and as he thinks last salutations, to you and all the rest, who love our common cause. And if God does again raise him up, he will be more for you, I am persuaded, than ever he was. · His unfeigned love towards us hath been such as I cannot express; and though he be a man not swayed with passion, or led by uninformed affections, yet hath he cloven to us still amidst all persuasions of opposites, and could not be moved to have an evil thought of us, for all their clamors. His patience and contentment in being oppressed hath been much. He hath sometimes lent 800 pounds at one time, for other men to adventure in this business, all to draw them on; and hath indeed by his free-heartedness, been the only glue of the company. And if God should take him now away, I scarce think much more would be done, save to inquire as to the dividend which is to be had."
This last sarcastic sentence shows Mr. Cushman's own opinion as to the men they had to deal with. Mr. Sherley was the only glue of the company.
Mr. Cushman himself was intending now to quit England for ever, and join the Pilgrims. In this, which was the last letter he ever wrote, he begs Governor Bradford to take care of his son, who was already in the Colony, as of his own ; and he says, “I hope the next ships to come to you; in the mean space and ever, the Lord be all
your direction, and turn all our crosses and troubles to his own glory and our comforts; and give you to walk so wisely and holily, as none may justly say but they have always found you honestly minded, though never so poor."
This letter was dated December 22, 1624, and it was his last. Instead of Mr. Sherley, he himself was taken, and Governor Bradford remarks, while recording his death, what cause have we ever to be ready!
“ He was now taken from these troubles, into which, by this division, we were so deeply plunged. And here I must leave him to rest with the Lord.”
Governor Bradford's own letter in answer to Mr. Cushman reached London of course, not till after Mr. Cushman's death. It is affecting to see in it the proofs of familiar confidence and love, and the interchange of little messages of affection. “ Your son and all of us,” he says, “ are in good health, blessed be God, and he received the things you sent him. I hope God will make him a good man. My wife remembers her love unto you, and thanks you for her spice. Billington still rails against you, and threatens to arrest you, I know not wherefore. He is a knave, and so will live and die.”
This Billington was the same who committed the first offence in the colony at Plymouth. He was a profane, hardened wretch, and came to his death on the gallows, for the crime of murder.
Governor Bradford says in this letter, “ Except we may