« VorigeDoorgaan »
Lord Treasurer, and from Lord Treasurer to the Council Table, and at great cost of “ many riddles which must be re-solved, and many locks opened with the silver, nay, the golden key ; a costly and tedious business."
Loving friends and partners,” says Mr. Sherley, “be no ways discouraged with the greatness of the debt. Let us not fulfil the proverb, “bestow twelve pence on a purse, and put sixpence in it;' but as you and we have been at great charge, and undergone much for settling of you there and to gain experience, so, as God shall please to enable us, let us make use of it, and not think with fifty pounds a year sent over, to raise such means to pay our debts.” “I know I write to godly, wise, and understanding men, such as have learned to bear one another's infirmities, and rejoice at any one's prosperity ; and if I were able, I would press this the more, because it is hoped by some of your and our enemies, that you will fall out among yourselves, and so overthrow our hopeful business. Nay, 1 have heard it credibly reported that some have said, that till you be disjointed by discontents and factions amongst yourselves, it boots not for any to go over in hope of getting or doing good in these parts; but we hope better things of you."
Experience is indeed a costly commodity. What a picture is here of the malignity which the Pilgrims had to encounter. This fierce and spiteful hope against them was nothing less than an expectation and desire of the entire up-breaking of their whole system of religion, church, government, and colony; and then a plantation of the Establishment of England should have been settled “ to do good in those parts."
Governor Bradford adds some particulars as to the greatness of the debts they had to assume and incur. “ The last company of our friends,” he says, came at such a time of the year, as we were fain to keep them eighteen months at our charge, ere they could reap any harvest to live upon ; all which together fell heavy upon us, and made
the burthen greater ; that if it had not been God's mercy, it is a wonder we had not sunk under it, especially other things occurring, whereby we were greatly crossed in our supplies for trade, by which these sums should have been repaid.”
From the perusal of these extracts my readers will see both with what method and care Governor Bradford kept his various records for the History of the Colony, and what great and valuable light the contents of his Letter Book must have shed upon the continuous course of their affairs from the beginning. Three hundred and thirty-eight pages of that precious register served as the wrappers of English groceries in Halifax.
It is pleasant to feel, in visiting Plymouth, that there is no possibility of misplaced or mistaken enthusiasm. You may without doubt press with your own feet the spot first trodden by your fathers, to lay there the foundation of your New England home. The way in which this certainty has been preserved, and made now inextinguishable, is of no little interest. In the year 1741, there was living near Plymouth the last ruling elder in the first church of Plymouth, Thomas Faunce by name.
He died not till the year 1745, at the great age of 99. Holmes, in his American Annals, says that Elder Faunce knew well the Rock on which the Pilgrims first landed, and that it was his tears, perhaps, which saved it from oblivion. In 1741, it formed part of the natural shore of the harbor, where the water flowed at highest tide, as when the Pilgrims stepped out from their shallop. There seems to have been neither wharf nor made land interrupting or concealing it. In that
In that year the project was entertained of building a wharf, which would cover it, and the idea of thus losing from sight this sacred memorial of the Pilgrims, was so distressing to the venerable patriarch, that he wept on hearing of it, left his home at the age of 95, and “in the presence of many citizens” at Plymouth, pointed out that Rock as the very spot declared by the Pilgrims themselves, with whom he had been contemporary, to be the identical rock on which they landed. Deacon Ephraim Spooner, who was 52 years town clerk of Plymouth, and who died in 1818, at the age of 83, was present at the above-mentioned interview of the citizens at the Rock with Elder Faunce, in the year 1741.
When the Revolutionary conflict was impending, just before the breaking out of the war, the patriots of Plymouth are described as having undertaken, in the earnestness of their zeal, to remove the whole Pilgrim Rock, or a large part of it, to the Town Square, in order to make there a patriotic rendezvous and liberty-pulpit, to excite the people against the oppressions of England. In these energetic efforts, having split off a huge fragment of the Rock, they concluded to let the original ledge remain as it was, and by means of some twenty yoke of oxen dragged their prize to the Town Square, where they put up a liberty pole, and made the Rock one of the stepping-stones of American independence. There it remained till 1834, when it was with suitable ceremonies inaugurated as a sort of monumental sarcophagus, within the iron railing in front of Pilgrim Hall, where it is now to be seen. The people of Plymouth will not have done their duty to the original Rock, till they make a little park around it, down to the water's edge, where annually there might be a pleasant ceremony of landing from the sea, as solemn and magnificent as that of dropping a ring into the Adriatic at Venice, and much more glorious in its meaning. The Rock now in front of the Hall, with the inscribed names in black around it, might be apt to suggest to the mind the idea of a coffin or monumental urn, with the pall-bearers. It looks too hearse-like, for a pleasant impression, such as one would wish to have be
fore that relic, which is the emblem of life, not death, for New England.
The antiquities of the first band of the Puritans in New England are few, and therefore the more precious. What there are, are quite undoubted, and we have a feeling for them like that of Paul, when he spoke of the golden pot that had the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded ; things, however sacred, which God did not suffer to be preserved, any more than the brazen serpent in the wilderness, lest they should produce a mongrel superstitious Romanism before its time; an earnest of the idolatry of the man of Sin and Son of Perdition before his development. Nevertheless, we would have been grateful had there been preserved one or two houses, with their furniture, of the earliest Pilgrim settlers in Plymouth. It is little more than two hundred years, and yet not a dwelling remains.
The first habitations constructed must have been inferior and rude, and in the whole of the first year's time they had but seven.
Their houses were of thatched roofs, and from Mr. Winslow's letter contained in the volume of their Journal, it would appear that for windows, to keep out the weather and let in the light, they used paper, saturated with linseed oil. On occasions of state, such as the reception of Massasoit, the Indian king, they had a green rug that they could spread, and some cushions. From the beautiful specimen preserved in Pilgrim Hall, of the needlework of one of the daughters of Captain Miles Standish, we see that the New England women knew how to adorn their houses and make them comfortable. “She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with double garments.” Not afraid of the snow! A New England characteristic, that. And how beautiful, with all that economy and industry of household