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still held by many eminent scholars. But in 1866 Benjamin Scott of London advanced an opposite view. Before quoting Mr. Scott, it is pertinent to point out that previous writers, though regarding the early Plymouth settlers as Puritans, were yet alive to the fact that those early settlers were Separatists, while the early settlers at Salem and Boston still regarded themselves as members of the Church of England. Thus in 1847 William H. Dillingham, speaking of the Mayflower passengers, said, “A step in advance of their brother Puritans, had entitled them to the designation of Separatists.” 2 In 1851 the Rev. Alvan Lamson wrote: “The Pilgrims, or Plymouth Colony, were Separatists; the Massachusetts Colony was mostly composed of Puritans, who had not before left the national church."
." 3 "The Pilgrims of Plymouth,” declared Charles Sumner in 1853, '“were among the earliest of the Separatists.
But while pointing out that the early Plymouth settlers were Separatists, the writers just quoted regarded them as also Puritans. In 1857 the Rev. Edmund H. Sears wrote:
We will not take our final leave of the good men whose labors and sacrifices we have been reviewing, without a filial tribute to their virtues. This we do, because, with all the eulogy bestowed upon them by popular historians and orators, we doubt if their principles are yet fully understood. They are constantly confounded with the Massachusetts Puritans, whereas they were entirely different in character, temper, principles, and policy.5
1 Of course, this difference had been remarked on much earlier. Thus about 1680 Hubbard spoke of "some religious and well affected persons, that were lately (about 1626] removed out of New Plymouth out of dislike of their principles of rigid separation" (History of New England, p. 106). In 1813 Judge Davis wrote: “The first planters of Massachusetts, though puritans, had not, like Mr. Robinson's society, separated from the Church of England before their arrival in this country. As soon as they were at liberty to pursue, unimpeded, their own ideas of ecclesiastical order, they adopted, with little variation, the practice of the Plymouth settlers" (Discourse, 1814, p. 9). In 1908 Mr. Andrew McF. Davis called attention to the open letter which on April 7, 1630, Winthrop and others addressed “to the rest of their brethren in and of the Church of England," and to what Winthrop said about the laying of hands on the Rev. John Wilson (Publications, xii. 11, 12).
: Oration (1847), p. 22.
5 Pictures of the Olden Time, as shown in the fortunes of a Family of the Pilgrims, p. 324. "It would be difficult to say,” the author well remarks, "to
Mr. Sears then proceeded to draw a contrast which presents the
I propose first to show that the Pilgrim Fathers of Plymouth Colony
The difference between the early Puritans and the Separatists was not one of name merely, ... but wide, fundamental and irreconcilable. ... It has been asked, “Did the Pilgrim Fathers repudiate the term Puritan as applied to themselves?" I reply they were not and could not, at that day, have been afforded the opportunity of repudiation; no such confusion of terms could then have arisen.2 Their enemies were too vigilant and unrelenting, and they and their predecessors were too truthful to permit of their shielding themselves under the term of Puritan.
what class of literature the following work properly belongs. It is neither ro
1 Track of the Hidden Church; or, the Springs of the Pilgrim Movement
2 Obviously, confusion could not have arisen between two terms one of which did not come into existence until 1798. J. A. Goodwin asserted that “The Pilgrim Fathers, the founders of our Plymouth, the pioneer Colony of New England, were not Puritans. They never were called by that name, either by themselves or their contemporaries" (Pilgrim Republic, 1888, p. 1). Even if the Pilgrims did not call themselves by the name of Puritans, that fact would have no significance, since the word Puritan like Quaker, Whig, Tory, and a host of other terms was originally one of reproach, and so might have been objected to on that ground. Indeed, Bradford twice expresses his dislike to the word for that reason. And to cast contempte the more upon the sincere servants of God,” he says in one place, “they opprobriously and most injuriously, gave unto, and imposed upon them, that name of Puritans; which [it] is said the Novatians (out of prid) did assume and take unto themselves" (History of Plymouth, ed. Ford, i. 12–13). And in another place he says: “The name of Brownists is but a nickname, as Puritan and Huguenot, &c., and therefore they do not amiss to decline the odium of it in what they may” (Dialogue, in Young's Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers, 1841, pp. 416–
8 The Pilgrim Fathers neither Puritans nor Persecutors (1869), pp. 5–6.
Mr. Scott's lecture was widely read in this country and its main contention, that the early Plymouth settlers were not Puritans, though denied by some,' was accepted by others. "Before tracing the history of this separation,” said the Rev. Henry M. Goodwin in 1870, “let me speak of the difference between the Puritans and the Pilgrims, who are often confounded by many persons. This difference was not one of name merely, but wide and fundamental. ... The Pilgrim Fathers who founded the Plymouth Colony, and who planted and gave type to our institutions, were not Puritans, but Separatists, men of larger and freer and more catholic spirit, than the Puritans who came after, and settled in Salem and Boston." 2 In the same year the Rev. Henry M. Dexter is reported to have said:
The speaker did not know if the difference between the Puritans of Boston and the Plymouth Pilgrims was understood by many, but it was important in celebrating the present occasion not to forget this difference. Such men as the Pilgrims of Plymouth were almost impossible to understand. They started in the north of England, one idea, — and that idea was, that they must do right whatever it cost them. They felt that the Anglican church was not right according to the Bible, and that nothing like it could be right. The Puritans started with the same idea, but they did not carry it out. They saw the Anglican church was unscriptural, and said that they must avoid being under the yoke, but they stayed there a long time, and when they came here they believed they were going to still live in vital union with the Church of England. The Pilgrims, feeling they could not do right in England, determined to leave, and went to Holland, but finding there that they were unfortunate in opportunities for the education of their children, they added the idea that was the key note to their actionthe missionary idea. This idea was new as they wrought it out; it did not appear in the history of Christianity, and the form in which the American Board of Foreign Missions were now working it out. The Pilgrims' idea was to come over and worship God in this new country, in their own way, among savages whom they might convert.3
1 J. W. Dean, in New England Historical and Genealogical Register (1871), XXV. 301-303.
2 The Pilgrim Fathers (Rockford, Illinois), pp. 7, 8. In a note on p. 8 Scott's lecture is referred to.
3 "Pilgrim Jubilee. Celebration in Providence, R. I., of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Congregationalism in this country, October 11th, 1870,” pp. 34–35.
It was in 1870 also that Robert C. Winthrop spoke of the Rev. Joseph Hunter as having “turned his attention to the Pilgrims of Plymouth, and to the Puritans of Massachusetts, for the latest and best themes of his unwearied investigations;” 1 and went on to say:
An Episcopalian myself, by election as well as education, and warmly attached to the forms and the faith in which I was brought up; ... I yet rejoice, as heartily as any Congregationalist who listens to me, that our Pilgrim Fathers were Separatists. I rejoice, too, that the Puritan Fathers of Massachusetts, who followed them to these shores ten years afterwards, . . . were, if not technically and professedly, yet to all intents and purposes, Separatists, also; — Semi-Separatists at least, as Robinson himself was called when he wrote and published that book which so offended the Brownists. ... I would not seem too harsh towards those old prelates of the English Church, by whom Pilgrims or Puritans were persecuted.?
In 1874 the Rev. Leonard Bacon wrote:
Those who read the story will understand, I trust — what many are ignorant of, and what some historians have not sufficiently explained the difference between "our Pilgrim Fathers” and “our Puritan Fathers.” In the old world on the other side of the ocean the Puritan was a Nationalist, believing that a Christian nation is a Christian church, and demanding that the Church of England should be thoroughly reformed; while the Pilgrim was a Separatist, not only from the Anglican Prayerbook and Queen Elizabeth's episcopacy, but from all national churches. Between them there was sharp contention - a controversy quite as earnest and almost as bitter as that which they both had with the ecclesiastico-political power that oppressed them both, fining and imprisoning the Puritan, and visiting upon the Separatist the added penalties of exile and the gallows. The Pilgrim wanted liberty for himself and his wife and little ones, and for his brethren, to walk with God in a Christian life as the rules and motives of such a life were revealed to him from God's Word. For that he went into exile; for that he crossed
1 It is to be noted that Hunter himself made no such distinction between the Pilgrims of Plymouth and the Puritans of Massachusetts. “Those who followed Governor Winthrop,” he wrote in 1847, "from his own country may not improperly be designated the Second Purilan Emigration, the First being formed of those who had been of Mr. Robinson's church, and founded Plymouth, and the emigrants from Dorchester" (3 Massachusetts Historical Collections, x. 171).
2 Oration (1871), pp. 10, 42–43, 45.
the ocean; for that he made his home in a wilderness. The Puritan's idea was not liberty, but right government in church and state - such government as should not only permit him, but also compel other men to walk in the right way.?
In 1876 John A. Goodwin remarked:
The most common error is to speak of the Pilgrims as Puritans. Yet they never called themselves Puritans and were never known as such by their contemporaries. Puritan divines preached against them while they were in England; Puritan tractarians assailed them while they halted in Holland, and Puritan hostility nearly destroyed their settlement at Plymouth. In that day the term Puritan had a definite meaning, and it can with no propriety be applied to the Pilgrim Fathers. ... Whatever reforms the Puritan desired, he sought to make within the church. Separation he denounced as schism - a deadly sin. Thus the Puritans were Episcopalians - the low-church wing of their day.
In 1878 the Rev. Increase N. Tarbox wrote:
Let us make another distinction. The people of Plymouth were called Pilgrims, and when we speak of the Pilgrim Fathers, we have special reference to them. The people that settled Salem and Boston and the surrounding towns were known as Puritans, and when we speak of the Puritan Fathers, in our early history, if we use and understand historical language correctly, we shall have primary reference to these dwellers in Massachusetts Bay. The little companies that soon after went out to begin the settlements at Hartford and New Haven, came from the same general class in English society. Indeed, they passed through the gateway of the Bay, to go and found those Connecticut colonies. They were also Puritans. Many persons use these terms indiscriminately, and speak of Pilgrims or Puritans as meaning the same thing. But this is only a confused use of language. Let us ever bear in mind that by the name of Pilgrim Fathers, we designate particularly the men of Plymouth, while the Puritan Fathers are the men of the Massachusetts Bay and the colonies that grew directly out of that.3
1 Genesis of the New England Churches, pp. ix-8.
5 "The Pilgrims and Puritans: or, Plymouth and the Massachusetts Bay," in Collections of the Old Colony Historical Society (1879), No. 1, p. 28. Tarbox quotes Scott's lecture at length.