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The History of the United States from 1492 to 1910, Volume 1
The Freight of the Mayflower
by Hawthorne, Julian


The motive force which drove the English Separatists and Puritans to a voluntary exile in New England in 1620 and later, had its origin in the brain of the son of a Saxon slate cutter just a century before. Martin Luther first gave utterance to a mental protest which had long been on the tongue's tip of many thoughtful and conscientious persons in Europe, but which, till then, no one had found the courage, or the energy, or the conviction, or the clear-headedness (as the case might be) to formulate and announce. Once having reached its focus, however, and attained its expression, it spread like a flame in dry stubble, and produced results in men and nations rarely precedented in the history of the world, whose vibrations have not yet died away.

Henry VIII. of England was born and died a Catholic; though of religion of any kind he never betrayed an inkling. His Act of Supremacy, in 1534, which set his will above that of the Pope of Rome, had no religious bearing, but merely indicated that he wanted to divorce one woman in order to marry another. Nevertheless it made it incumbent upon the Pope to excommunicate him, and thus placed him, and England as represented by him, in a quasi-dissenting attitude toward the orthodox faith. And coming as it did so soon after Luther's outbreak, it may have encouraged Englishmen to think on lines of liberal belief.

Passionate times followed in religious--or rather in theological--matters, all through the Sixteenth Century. The fulminations of Luther and the logic of Calvin set England to discussing and taking sides; and when Edward VI. came to the throne, he was himself a Protestant, or indeed a Puritan, and the stimulus of Puritanism in others. But the mass of the common people were still unmoved, because there was no means of getting at them, and they had no stomach for dialectics, if there had been. The new ideas would probably have made little headway had not Edward died and Mary the Catholic come red-hot with zeal into his place. She lost no time in catching and burning all dissenters, real or suspected; and as many of these were honest persons who lived among the people, and were known and approved by them, and as they uniformly endured their martyrdom with admirable fortitude and good-humor, falling asleep in the crackling flames like babes at the mother's breast, Puritanism received an advertisement such as nothing since Christianity had enjoyed before, and which all the unaided Luthers, Melanchthons and Calvins in the world could not have given it.

This lasted five years, after which Mary went to her reward, and Elizabeth came to her inheritance. She was no more of a religion-monger than her distinguished father had been; but she was, like him, jealous of her authority, and a martinet for order and obedience at all costs. A certain intellectual voluptuousness of nature and an artistic instinct inclined her to the splendid forms and ceremonies of the Catholic ritual; but she was too good a politician not to understand that a large part of her subjects were unalterably opposed to the papacy. After some consideration, therefore, she adopted the expedient of a compromise, the substance of which was that whatever was handsome and attractive in Catholicism was to be retained, and only those technical points dropped which made the Pope the despot of the Church. In ordinary times this would have answered very well; human nature likes to eat its cake and have it too; but this time was anything but ordinary. The reaction from old to new ways of thinking, and the unforgotten persecutions of Mary, had made men very fond of their opinions, and preternaturally unwilling to enter into bargains with their consciences. At the same time loyalty to the Crown was still a fetich in England, as indeed it always has been, except at and about the time when Oliver Cromwell and others cut off the head of the First Charles. Consequently when Elizabeth and Whitgift, her Archbishop of Canterbury, set about putting their house in order in earnest, they were met with a mixture of humble loyalty and immovable resistance which would have perplexed any potentates less single-minded. But Elizabeth and Whitgift were not of the sort that sets its hand to the plow and then turns back; they went earnestly on with their banishments and executions, paying particular attention to the Separatists, but keeping plenty in hand for the Puritans also.--The Separatists, it may be observed, were so called because their aim was to dispart themselves entirely from the orthodox communion; the Puritans were willing to remain in the fold, but had it in mind to purify it, by degrees, from the defilement which they held it to have contracted. The former would not in the least particular make friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, or condone the sins of the Scarlet Woman, or of anybody else; they would not inhale foul air, with a view to sending it forth again disinfected by the fragrance of their own lungs. They took their stand unequivocally upon the plain letter of Scripture, and did away with all that leaned toward conciliating the lighter sentiments and emotions; they would have no genuflexions, no altars, no forms and ceremonies, no priestly vestments, no Apostolic Succession, no priests, no confessions, no intermediation of any kind between the individual and his Creator. The people themselves should make and unmake their own "ministers," and in all ways live as close to the bone as they could. The Puritans were not opposed to any of these beliefs; only they were not so set upon proclaiming and acting upon them in season and out of season; they contended that the idolatry of ritual, since it had been several centuries growing up, should be allowed an appreciable time to disappear. It will easily be understood that, at the bottom of these religious innovations and inflammations, was a simple movement toward greater human freedom in all directions, including the political. It mattered little to the zealots on either side whether or not the secret life of a man was morally correct; he must think in a certain prescribed way, on pain of being held damnable, and, if occasion served, of being sent to the other world before he had opportunity to further confirm his damnation. The dissenters, when they got in motion, were just as intolerant and bigoted as the conformists; and toward none was this intolerance more strongly manifested than toward such as were in the main, but not altogether, of their way of thinking. The Quakers and the Independents had almost as hard an experience in New England, at the hands of the Puritans, as the latter had endured from good Queen Bess and her henchmen a few years before. But really, religion, in the absolute sense, had very little to do with these movements and conflicts; the impulse was supposed to be religion because religion dwells in the most interior region of a man's soul. But the craving for freedom also proceeds from an interior place; and so does the lust for tyranny. Propinquity was mistaken for identity, and anything which was felt but could not be reasoned about assumed a religious aspect to the subject of it, and all the artillery of Heaven and Hell, and the vocabulary thereof, were pressed into service to champion it.

But New England had to be peopled, and this was the way to people it. The dissenters perceived that, though they might think as they pleased in England, they could not combine this privilege with keeping clear of the fagot or the gibbet; and though martyrdom is honorable, and perhaps gratifying to one's vanity, it can be overdone.

They came to the conclusion, accordingly, that practical common sense demanded their expatriation; and some of them humbly petitioned her Majesty to be allowed to take themselves off. The Queen did not show herself wholly agreeable to this project; womanlike, and queenlike, she wanted to convince them even more than to be rid of them; or if they must be got rid of, she preferred to dispose of them herself in the manner prescribed for stubborn heretics. But the lady was getting on in years, and was not so ardently loved as she had been; and her activity against the heretics could not keep pace with her animosity. She had succeeded in many things, and her reign was accounted glorious; but she had won no glory by the Puritans and Separatists, and her campaign against them had not succeeded. They were stronger than ever, and were to grow stronger yet. It was remembered, too, by her servants, that, when she was dead, some one might ascend the throne who was less averse to nonconformity than she had been; and then those who had persecuted might suffer persecution in their turn. So although the prayer of the would-be colonists was not granted, the severity against them was relaxed; and as Elizabeth's last breath rattled in her throat, the mourners had one ear cocked toward the window, to hear in what sort of a voice James was speaking.

Their fears had been groundless. The new king spoke Latin, and "peppered the Puritans soundly." The walls of Hampton Court resounded with his shrill determination to tolerate none of their nonsense; and he declared to the assembled prelates, who were dissolving in tears of joy, that bishops were the most trustworthy legs a monarch could walk on. The dissenters, who had hoped much, were disappointed in proportion; but they were hardened into an opposition sterner than they had ever felt before. They must help themselves, since no man would help them; and why not --since they had God on their side? They controlled the House of Commons, and made themselves felt there, till James declared that he preferred a hermitage to ruling such a pack of malcontents. The clergy renewed their persecutions; the government of England was a despotism of the strictest kind; and the fire which had been repressed in Puritan bosoms began to emit sullen sparks through their eyes and lips.

A group of them in the north of England established a church, and called upon all whom it might concern to shake off anti-Christian bondage. John Robinson and William Brewster gave it their support, and their meetings were made interesting by the spies of the government. Finally they were driven to attempt an escape to Holland; and, after one miscarriage, they succeeded in getting off from the coast of Lincolnshire in the spring of 1608, and were transported to Amsterdam. They could but tarry there; their only country now was Heaven; meanwhile they were wandering Pilgrims on the face of the earth, as their Lord had been before them. From Amsterdam they presently removed to Leyden, where they conducted themselves with such propriety as to win the encomiums of the natives. But their holy prosperity did not make them happy, or enable them to be on comfortable terms with the Dutch language; they could not get elbow-room, or feel that they were doing themselves justice; and as the rumors of a fertile wilderness overseas came to their ears, they began to contemplate the expediency of betaking themselves thither. It was now the year 1617; and negotiations were entered into with the London Company to proceed under their charter.

The London Company were disposed to consider the proposition favorably, but the affair dragged, and when it was brought before the government it was quashed by Bacon, who opined that the coat of Christ must be seamless, and that even in a remote wilderness heretics must not be permitted to rend it. The Pilgrims might have replied that if a coat is already torn, it profits not to declare it whole; but they were not students of repartee, and merely relinquished efforts to secure support in that direction. They must go into exile without official sanction, that was all. The king's law enjoined, to be sure, that if any dissenters were discovered abroad they were straightway to be sent to England for discipline; but inasmuch as the threat of exile was, at the same time, held over the same dissenters at home, it would seem a saving of trouble all round to go abroad and trust to God. "If they mean to wrong us," they aptly remarked, "a royal seal, though it were as broad as the house floor, would not protect us." A suggestion that the Dutchmen fit them out for their voyage, and share their profits, fell through on the question of protection against other nations; and when they had prepared their minds to make the venture without any protection at all, it turned out that there was not capital enough in the community to pay for transport. Within three years, however, this difficulty was overcome, and in July of 1620 two ships were hired--the "Speedwell" and the "Mayflower"--and the progenitors of religious and civil liberty in America were ready to set forth.

There was not accommodation for them all on the two vessels, the one of sixty tons, the other of thrice as many; so a division was made, Robinson remaining in Leyden with one party, until means could be had to bring them over; and Brewster accompanying the emigrants, supported by John Carver and Miles Standish. Robinson, one of the finest and purest spirits of the time, died while waiting to join his friends; but most of the others were brought over in due season.

The hymns of praise and hope which were up-lifted on the shores of Delft Haven, in the hour of farewell between those who went and those who stayed, though the faith which inspired them was stanch, and the voices which chanted them musical and sweet, could not restrain the tears that flowed at the severing of ties which had been welded by exile, hardship, and persecution for conscience' sake; nor were the two "feasts" which comforted the bellies of the departing ones able to console their hearts. It is different with trips across the Atlantic nowadays: and different, likewise, are the motives which prompt them.

The "Speedwell" turned back at Plymouth, England, and the "Mayflower" went on alone, with her company of one hundred and two, including women, some of whom were soon to be mothers. The Atlantic, though a good friend of theirs, was rough and boisterous in its manners, and tossed them on their way rudely; in that little cabin harrowing discomfort must have been undergone, and Christian forbearance sorely tried. The pitching and tossing lasted more than two months, from the 6th of September till the 7th of December, when they sighted--not the Bay of New York, as they had intended, but the snow-covered sand mounds of Cape Cod. It was at best an inhospitable coast, and the time of their visit could not have been worse chosen.

But indeed they were to be tested to the utmost; their experiences during that winter would have discouraged oak and iron; but it had no such effect upon these English men and women of flesh and blood. The New England winter climate has its reputation still; but these people were not fit for the encounter. They had been living in the moist mildness of Holland for thirteen years, and for more than sixty days had been penned in that stifling "Mayflower" cabin, seasick, bruised and sleepless. It sleeted, snowed, rained and froze, and they could find no place to get ashore on; their pinnace got stove, and the icy waves wet them to the marrow. Standish and some others made explorations on land; but found nothing better than some baskets of maize and a number of Indian graves buried in the snow-drifts. At last they stumbled upon a little harbor, upon which abutted a hollow between low hills, with an icebound stream descending through it to the sea. They must make shift with that or perish. It was the 21st of December.

That date is inscribed on the front page of our history, and the Pilgrim Fathers and their wives and daughters are celebrated persons, though they were only a lot of English farmers in exile for heresy. But no dreams of renown visited them then; they had nothing to uphold them but their amazing faith. What that faith must have been their conduct demonstrates; but it is difficult to comprehend such a spirit; we remember all the persecutions, all the energy of new convictions, and still it seems miraculous. Liberty to think as they pleased, and to act upon their belief: that was all they had to fight with. It seems very thin armor, an ineffective sword: but what a victory they won!

Before they disembarked, a meeting was held in the cabin for the transaction of certain business. Since then, whenever a handful of Yankees have been gathered together, it has been their instinct to organize and pass resolutions. It is the instinct of order and self-government, the putting of each man in his proper place, and assigning to him his function. This meeting of the Pilgrims was the prototype, and the resolutions they passed constitute the model upon which our commonwealth is based. They promised one another, in the presence of God, equal laws and fidelity to the general good: the principles of a free democracy.

They disembarked on the flat bowlder known as Plymouth Rock and set to work to make their home. With the snow under their feet, the dark, naked woods hemming them in, and concealing they knew not what savage perils; with the bitter waves flinging frozen spray along the shore, and immitigable clouds lowering above them--memory may have drawn a picture of the quiet English vales in which they were born, or of the hazy Dutch levels, with the windmills swinging their arms slumberously above the still canals, and the clean streets and gabled fašades of the prosperous Holland town which had sheltered and befriended them. They thought of faces they loved and would see no more, and of the secure and tranquil lives they might have led, but for that tooth of conscience at their hearts, which would give them peace only at the cost of almost all that humanity holds dear. Did any of them wish they had not come? did any doubt in his or her heart whether a cold abstraction was worth adopting in lieu of the great, warm, kindly world? Verily, not one!

They got to work at their home-making without delay; but all were ill, and many were dying. That winter they put up with much labor a few log huts; but their chief industry was the digging of clams and of graves. Half of their number were buried before the summer, and there was not food enough for the rest to eat. John Carver, who had been elected governor at landing, died in April, having already lost his son. But those who did survive their first year lived long; it is wonder that they ever died at all, who could survive such an experience.

Spring came, and with it a visitor. It was in March--not a salubrious month in New England; but the trees were beginning to pat out brown buds with green or red tips, and grass and shrubs were sprouting in sheltered places, though snow still lay in spots where sunshine could not fall. The trailing arbutus could be found here and there, with a perfume that all the cruelty of winter seemed to have made only more sweet. Birds were singing, too, and the settlers had listened to them with joy; they had gone near to forget that God had made birds. On some days, from the south, came the breathing of soft, fragrant airs; and there were breadths of blue in the sky that looked as if so fresh and tender a hue must have been just created.

The men, in thick jerkins, heavy boots, and sugarloaf hats, were busy about the clearing; some, like Miles Standish, wore a steel plate over their breasts, and kept their matchlocks within reach, for though a pestilence had exterminated the local Indians before they came, and, with the exception of one momentary skirmish, in which no harm was done, nothing had been seen or heard of the red men--still it was known that Indians existed, and it was taken for granted that they would be hostile. Meanwhile the women, in homespun frocks and jackets, with kerchiefs round their shoulders, and faces in which some trace of the English ruddiness had begun to return, sat spinning in the doorways of the huts, keeping an eye on the kettles of Indian meal. The morning sunlight fell upon a scene which, for the first time, seemed homelike: not like the lost homes in England, but a place people could live human lives in, and grow fond of. The hope of spring was with them.

All at once, down the forest glade, treading noiselessly on moccasined feet, came a tall, wild, unfamiliar figure, with feathers in his black hair, and black eyes gleaming above his high cheekbones. An Indian, at last! He had come so silently that he had emerged from the shadow of the forest and was almost amid them before he was seen. Some of the settlers, perhaps, felt a momentary tightening round the heart; for though we are always in the hollow of God's hand, there are times when we are surprised into forgetfulness of that security, and are concerned about carnal perils. Captain Standish, who had taken a flying shot at some of these heathen four or five months ago, caught up a loaded musket leaning against the corner of a hut, and stood on his guard, doubting that more of the savages were lurking behind the trees. He had even thus early in American history come to the view long afterward formulated in the epigram that the only good Indians are the dead ones.

But the keen, spare savage made no hostile demonstration; he paused before the captain, with the dignity of his race, and held out his empty hands. And then, to the vast astonishment of Standish and of the others who had gathered to his support, he opened his mouth and spoke English: "Welcome, Englishmen!" said he. They must have fancied, for an instant, that the Lord had wrought a special miracle for them, in bestowing upon this native of the primeval forest the gift of tongues.

There was, however, nothing miraculous about Samoset, who had picked up his linguistic accomplishment, such as it was, from a fellow savage who had been kidnapped and taken to England, whom he afterward introduced to the colony, where he made himself useful. Samoset's present business was as embassador from the great chief and sachem, Massasoit, lord of everything thereabout, who sent friendly greetings, and would be pleased to confer with the new comers, at their convenience, and arrange an alliance.

These were good words, and they must have taken a weight from every heart there; not only the dread of immediate attack, but the omnipresent and abiding anxiety that the time would come when they would have to fight for their lives, and defend the persecuted church of the Lord against foes who knew nothing of conformist or nonconformist, but who were as proficient as Queen Mary herself in the use of fire and torture. These misgivings might now be dismissed; if the ruler of so many tribes was willing to stand their friend, who should harm them? So they all gathered round Samoset on that sunny spring morning; the women observing curiously and in silence his strange aspect and gestures, and occasionally exchanging glances with one another at some turn of the talk; while the sturdy Miles, and Governor Carver, pale with illness which within a month reunited him with the son he had loved, and Elder Brewster, with his serious mien, and Bradford, who was to succeed Carver, with his strong, authoritative features and thoughtful forehead;--these and more than a score more of the brethren stood eying their visitor, questioning him earnestly and trying to make out his meaning from his imperfect English gruntings. And they spoke one to another of the action that should be taken on his message, or commented with pious exclamations on the mercy of the Lord in thus raising up for them protectors even in the wilderness. Meanwhile a chipmunk flitted along the bole of a fallen tree, a thrush chirped in the brake, a deer, passing airy-footed across an opening in the forest, looked an instant and then turned and plunged fleetly away amid the boughs, and a lean-bellied wolf, prospecting for himself and his friends, stuck his sinister snout through a clump of underbrush, and curled his lips above the long row of his white teeth in an ugly grin. This friendship boded no good to him.

The coming of Samoset was followed after a while by the introduction of Squanto, the worthy savage who had enjoyed the refining influences of distant England, whose services as interpreter were of much value in that juncture; and after a short time Massasoit himself accepted the settlers' invitation to become their guest during the making of the treaty. He was received with becoming honor; the diplomatists proceeded at once to business, and before twilight the state paper had been drawn up, signed and sealed. Its provisions ran that both parties were to abstain from harming each other, were to observe an offensive and defensive alliance, and to deliver up offenders. These terms were religiously kept for half a century; by which time the colonists were able to take care of themselves. Its good effects were illustrated in the case of the chief Canonicus, who was disposed to pick a quarrel with the Englishmen, and sent them, as a symbol of his attitude, a rattlesnake's skin wrapped round a sheaf of arrows. Bradford, to indicate that he also understood the language of emblems, sent the skin back stuffed with powder and bullets. Canonicus seems to have fancied that these substances were capable of destroying him spontaneously, and returned them with pacific assurances. Such weapons, combined with the alliance, were too much for him. Canonicus was chief of the Narragansetts; Massasoit, of the Wampanoags. In 1676 the son of Massasoit, for some fancied slight, made war upon the settlers, and the Narragansetts helped him; in this war, known as King Philip's, the settlers suffered severely, though they were victorious. But had it come during the early years of their sojourn, not one of them would have survived, and New England might never have become what she is now.

Meantime the Pilgrims, pilgrims no longer, settled down to make the wilderness blossom as the rose. At their first landing they had agreed, like the colonists of Virginia, to own their land and work it in common; but they were much quicker than the Jamestown folk to perceive the inexpediency of this plan, and reformed it by giving each man or family a private plot of ground. Agriculture then developed so rapidly that corn enough was raised to supply the Indians as well as the English; and the importation of neat cattle increased the home look as well as the prosperity of the farms. There was also a valuable trade in furs, which stimulated an abortive attempt at rivalry. None could compete with the Pilgrims on their own ground; for were they not growing up with the country, and the Lord--was He not with them? More troublesome than this effort of Weston was the obstruction of the Company in England, and its usurious practices; the colonists finally bought them out, and relied henceforth wholly on themselves, with the best results. As years went by their numbers increased, though but slowly. They did not invite the co-operation of persons not of their way of thinking, and the world was never over-supplied with Separatists. On the other hand, they were active and full of enterprise, and sent out branches in all directions, which shared the vitality of the parent stock. Every man of them was trained to self-government, and where he went order and equity accompanied him. A purer democracy could not be framed; for years the elections were made by the entire body of the assembled citizens; His Dread Majesty, King James, never sent them his royal Charter, but the charter provided by their own love of justice and solid good sense served them far better. Their governors were responsible directly to the people, and were further restrained by a council of seven members. This political basis is that upon which our present form of government rests; but it is strange to see what Daedalian complications, and wheels within wheels, we have contrived to work into the superstructure. A modern ward heeler in New York could have taken up the whole frame of government in Seventeenth Century New England by the butt end, and cracked it like a whip--provided of course the Pilgrim fathers had allowed him to attend the primaries.

But it is more probable that the ward heeler would have found himself promptly in the presence of one of those terrific magistrates whose grim decrees gave New England naughty children the nightmare a century after the stern-browed promulgators of them were dust. The early laws against crime in New England were severe, though death was seldom or never inflicted save for murder. But more irksome to one used to the lax habits of to-day would have been the punctilious rigidity with which they guarded the personal bearing, speech, and dress of the members of their community. Yet we may thank them for having done so; it was a wise precaution; they knew the frailties of the flesh, and how easily license takes an ell if an inch be given it. Nothing less iron than was their self-restraint could have provided material stanch enough to build up the framework of our nation. One might not have enjoyed living with them; but we may be heartily glad that they lived; and we should be the better off if more of their stamp were alive still.

But these iron people had their tender and sentimental side as well, and the self-command which they habitually exercised made the softening, when it came, the more beautiful. One of the love romances of this little colony has come down to us, and may be taken as the substantial truth; it has entered into our literature and poetry, and touches us more nearly even than the tale of Pocahontas. Its telling by our most popular poet has brought it to the knowledge of a greater circle of readers than it could otherwise have reached; but the elaboration of his treatment could add nothing to the human charm of it, or sharpen our conception of the leading characters in the drama. Miles Standish had been a soldier in the Netherlands before joining the Pilgrims, and to him they gave the military guardianship of the colony, with the title of captain. He was then about thirty-six years of age, a bluff, straightforward soldier, whom a life of hardship had made older than his years. He had known little of women's society, but during the long voyage he came to love Priscilla Mullens, and when the spring came to the survivors at Plymouth, he wished to marry her. But he would not trust, as Othello did, to the simple art of a soldier to woo her; and Priscilla was probably no Desdemona. But there was a youth among the colonists, just come of age, whom Standish had liked and befriended, and who, though a cooper and ship-carpenter by trade, was gifted with what seemed to Standish especial graces of person and speech. Alden had not been one of the original pilgrims; he had been hired to repair the "Mayflower" while she lay at Southampton, and decided to sail on her when she sailed; perhaps with the hope of making his fortune in the new world, perhaps because he wished to go where Priscilla went. She was a girl whom any man might rejoice to make his wife; vigorous and wholesome as well as comely, and endowed with a strong character, sweetened by a touch of humor. John had never spoken to her of his love, any more than Miles had; whether Priscilla's clear eyes had divined it, we know not; but it is likely that she saw through the cooper and the soldier both.

The honest soldier was a fool, and saw nothing but Priscilla, and felt nothing but his love for her. He took John Alden by the arm, and, leading him apart into the forest, proposed to him to go to young Mistress Mullens and ask her if she would become the wife of Captain Standish. Alden was honest, too; but he was dominated by his older friend, and lacked the courage to tell him that he had hoped for Priscilla for himself; he let the critical moment for this explanation pass, and then there was nothing for it but to accept the Captain's commission. We can imagine how this situation would be handled by the analytic novelists of our day; how they would spread Alden's heart and conscience out on paper, and dry them, and pick them to pieces. The young fellow certainly had a hard thing to do; he must tread down his own passion, and win the girl for his rival into the bargain. To her he went, and spoke. But the only way he could spur himself to eloquence was to imagine that he was Standish, and then woo her as he would have done had Standish been he.

Maidens of rounded nature, like Priscilla, pay less attention to what a man says than to the tones of his voice, the look in his eyes, and his unconscious movements. As Alden warmed to his work, she glanced at him occasionally, and not only wished that Heaven had made her such a man, but decided that it had. So, when the youth had finished off an ardent peroration, in which the Captain was made to appear in a guise of heroic gallantry that did not suit him in the least, but which was the best John could do for him: there was a pause, while the vicarious wooer wiped his brow, and felt very miserable, remembering that if she yielded, it would be to Miles and not to him. She divined what was in his mind, and sent him to Heaven with one of the womanliest and loveliest things that ever woman said to man: "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?" she asked, gazing straight at him, with a quiver of her lips that was half humor and half the promise of tears.

John still had before him a bad quarter of an hour with the Captain; it was as hard to make him understand that he had not played the traitor to him as it had been to persuade Priscilla to do what she had not done; but the affair ended without a tragedy, which would have spoiled it. Captain Standish, when Priscilla married, went to live in Duxbury; and a year or two later worked off his spleen by slaying the Indian rascals who were plotting to murder the Weston settlers at Weymouth. He and his men did not wait for the savages to strike the first blow; they made no pretense of exhausting all the resources of diplomacy before proceeding to extremities. They walked up to the enemy, suddenly seized them by the throat, and drove the knives which the Indians themselves wore through their false hearts. There was no more trouble from Indians in that region for a long time; and Captain Standish's feelings were greatly relieved. As for John and Priscilla, they lived long and prospered, John attaining the age of eighty-seven, which indicates domestic felicity. They had issue, and their descendants live among us to this day in comfort and honor.

King James, like other spiteful and weak men, had a long memory, and amid the many things that engaged his attention he did not forget the colonists of Plymouth, who had exiled themselves without a charter from him. In the same year which witnessed their disembarkation at Plymouth Rock, he incorporated a company consisting of friends of his own, and gave them a tract of country between the fortieth and the forty-eighth parallels of north latitude, which of course included the Plymouth colony. In addition to all other possible rights and privileges, it had the monopoly of the fisheries of the coast, and it was from this that revenue was most certainly expected, since it was proposed to lay a tax on all tonnage engaged in it. All the new company had to do was to grant charters to all who might apply, and reap the profits. But the scheme was fated to miscarry, because the pretense of colonization behind it was impotent, and the true object in view was the old one of getting everything that could be secured out of the country, and putting nothing into it. The fisheries monopoly was powerfully opposed in Parliament and finally defeated; small sporadic settlements, with no sound principle or purpose within them, appeared and disappeared along the coast from Massachusetts to the northern borders of Maine. One grant conflicted with another, titles were in dispute, and lawsuits were rife. The king sanctioned whatever injustice or restriction his company proposed, but his decrees, many of them illegal, were ineffective, and produced only confusion. Agriculture was hardly attempted in any of the little settlements authorized by the company, and the only trade pursued was in furs and fishes. The rights of the Indians were wholly disregarded, and the domain of the French at the north was infringed upon. All this while the Pilgrims continued their industries and maintained their democracy, undisturbed by the feeble machinations of the king; and in 1625 the death of the latter temporarily cleared the air. Charles affixed his seal to the famous Massachusetts Charter four years later; and though Gorges and some others continued to harass New England for some time longer, the plan of colonizing by fisheries was hopelessly discredited, and the development of civil and religious liberties among the serious colonists was assured.

The experiments thus far made in dealing with the new country had had a significant result. The Plymouth colony, going out with neither charter nor patronage, and with the purpose not of finding gold or making fortunes, but of establishing a home wherein to dwell in perpetuity--which was handicapped by the abject poverty of its members, and by the severities of a climate till then unknown--this enterprise was found to hold the elements of success from the start, and it steadily increased in power and influence. It suffered from time to time from the tyranny of royal governors and the ignorance or malice of absentee statesmanship; but nothing could extinguish or corrupt it; on the contrary, it went "slowly broadening down, from precedent to precedent," until, when the moment of supreme trial came to the Thirteen Colonies, the descendants of the Pilgrims and the Puritans, and the men who had absorbed their ideas, put New England in the van of patriotism and progress. It is a noble record, and a pregnant example to all friends of freedom.

In suggestive contrast with this was the Jamestown enterprise. As we have seen, this colony was saved from almost immediate extinction solely by the genius and energy of one man, whom his fellow members had at first tried to exclude altogether from their councils and companionship. Belonging to a class socially higher and presumably more intelligent than the Pilgrims, and continually furnished with supplies from the Company in England, they were unable during twelve years to make any independent stand against disaster. In a climate which was as salubrious as that of New England was rigorous, and with a soil as fertile as any in the world, they dwindled and starved, and their dearest wish was to return to England. They were saved at last (as we shall presently see) by two things; first, by the discovery of the value of tobacco as an export, and of its usefulness as a currency for the internal trade of the country; and secondly, and much more, by the Charter of 1618, which gave the people the privilege of helping to make their own laws. That year marked the beginning of civil liberty in America; but what it had taken the Jamestown colonists twelve weary and disastrous years to attain, was claimed by the pious farmers of Plymouth before ever they set foot on Forefather's Rock. Willingness to labor, zeal for the common welfare, indifference to wealth, independence, moral and religious integrity and fervor--these were some of the traits and virtues whose cultivation made the Pilgrims prosperous, and the neglect or lack of which discomfited the Virginia settlers. The latter, man for man, were by nature as capable as the former of profiting by right conditions and training; and as soon as they obtained them they showed favorable results. But in the meantime the lesson was driven home that a virgin country cannot be subdued and rendered productive by selfish and unjust procedure: a homely and hackneyed lesson, but one which can never be too often quoted, since each fresh generation must buy its own experience, and it often happens that a situation essentially old assumes a novel aspect, owing to external modifications of time and place.

The Plymouth Colony, after remaining long separate and self-supporting, consented to a union with the larger and richer settlements of Massachusetts. The charter secured by the latter, and the manner in which it was administered, were alike remarkable. The granting of it was facilitated by the threatened encroachments of other than Englishmen upon the New England domain; it was represented to Charles that it was necessary to be beforehand with these gentry, if they were to be restrained. Charles was on the verge of that rupture with law and order in his own realm which culminated in his dismissal of Parliament, and for ten years attempting the task of governing England without it. He approved the charter without adequately realizing the full breadth and pregnancy of its provisions, which, in effect, secured civil and ecclesiastical emancipation to the settlers under it. But what was quite as important was the consideration that it went into effect at a time incomparably favorable to its success. The Plymouth colony had proved that a godly and self-denying community could flourish in the wilderness, in the enjoyment of spiritual blessings unattainable at home. The power of English prelacy did not extend beyond the borders of England: idolatrous ceremonies could be eschewed in Massachusetts without fear of persecution. Thousands of Puritans were prepared to give up their homes for the sake of liberty, and only waited assurance that it could be obtained. The condition of society and education in England was vicious and corrupt; and though it might become brave and true men to suffer persecution in witness of their faith, yet there was danger that their children might be induced to fall away from the truth, after they were gone. Martyrdom was well, but it must not be allowed to such an extreme as to extirpate the proclaimers of the truth. Many of those who were prepared to take advantage of the charter were of the best stock in England, men of brains and substance as well as piety; graduates of the Universities, country gentlemen, men of the world and of affairs. A colony made of such elements would be a new thing in the earth; it would comprise all that was strong and wise in human society, and would exclude every germ of weakness and frailty. The sealing of the charter was like the touching of the electric button which, in our day, sets in motion for the first time a vast mechanical system, or fires a simultaneous salute of guns in a hundred cities. King Charles I., who was to lose his anointed head on the block because he tried to crush popular liberty in England, was the immediate human instrument of giving the purest form of such liberty to English exiles beyond the sea.

The charter constituted an organization called the Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay in New England. The governor, annually elected by the members, was assisted by a deputy and assistants, and was to call a business meeting monthly or oftener, and in addition was to preside four times a year at an assembly of the whole body of the freemen, to make laws and determine appointments. Freedom of Puritan worship was assured, in part explicitly, in part tacitly. The king had no direct relation with their proceedings, beyond the general and vague claims of royal prerogative; and it was an open question whether Parliament had the power to override the authority of the patentees.

It will be seen that this charter was in no respect inharmonious with the system of self-government which had grown up among the Plymouth colonists; it was a more complete and definite formulation of principles which must ever be supported by men who wish so to live as to obtain the highest social and religious welfare. It was the stately flowering of a seed already obscurely planted, and though it was to be now and again checked in its development, would finally bear the fruit of the Tree of Life.

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