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time advances. It was the origin of New England; it was the planting of New England institutions as the pilgrims landed.
Their institutions were already perfected. Democratic liberty and independent Christian worship at once existed in America.” Plymouth Rock, famous throughout the world as the stepping-stone upon which the pilgrims landed, still occupies the same position as when the pilgrims' shallop first grazed its side. The only alteration is that it has been raised somewhat, and is now covered by an architectural canopy of granite. De Tocqueville says: “This rock has become an object of veneration in the United States. I have seen bits of it preserved in several towns of the Union. Does not this sufficiently show that all human power and greatness is in the soul of man? Here is a stone which the feet of outcasts pressed for an instant; and this stone has become famous; it is treasured by a great nation; its very dust is shared as a relic. And what has become of the gateways of a thousand palaces ? Who cares for them ?" 1
The numbers of the little company had been greatly reduced by disease and death, and those who were spared, unprovided with anything but the barest necessaries of life, were ill-fitted to encounter the cold and rigour of the New England winter. So rapid was the mortality, that, when spring returned, and “the birds sang in the woods most pleasantly,” scarce fifty of the original hundred remained. “In those hard and difficult beginnings there were discontents and murmurings among some, and mutinous speeches and carriage in others; but
1 De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, vol. i. p. 29.
they were soon quelled and overcome by the wisdom, patience, and just and equal carriage of things by the governor and better part.” So passed the sorrowful first winter in Plymouth, but the spirit of the little company was unbroken. In April the Mayflower was despatched home to England, yet, notwithstanding the losses they had sustained, and the hardships and privations they were still enduring, not one of the brave company signified their willingness to return.
Oh, strong hearts and true ! not one went back in the Mayflower. No! not one looked back who had set his hand to that ploughing."
Governor Carver was among those who had succumbed to the fatal cold and hardships, and William Bradford, who had been a member of the little Church in Scrooby, was chosen to fill his place. He was governor of Plymouth for nearly thirty years, and to his graphic and picturesque chronicle we are indebted chiefly for what we know of the migration from Scrooby, the transplanting of the Church to Holland, and the settlement of the Fathers in New Plymouth. The other notable leaders in the colony were-William Brewster, the hospitable provider of the first place of meeting in Scrooby, and the stout Puritan soldier, Miles Standish, whose courtship is so quaintly related by Longfellow.
The Pilgrims entered into friendly relations with the various tribes of Indians round about them. One tribe alone refused their overtures, and showed their hostile intentions by sending a bundle of new arrows tied up in a rattlesnake's skin. The said skin was stuffed by Miles Standish full of powder and shot, and sent back as the response and challenge of the young colony,
and this the messenger was directed to carry back to the Indian sachem. Yet it would appear that at one time the colonists were only saved from extermination by an epidemic of sickness which broke out among the Indians; but for this they had all probably been tomahawked to death. Their number increased very slowly, as compared with what might have been expected. At the end of ten years the colony contained no more than three hundred souls. It was all the settlers could do to wring from the infertile soil the means of subsistence. Inured to hardship and privation by their sojourn in Holland, as well as by their previous manner of life, they were well-fitted-better fitted probably than any similar number of men that could have been selected from the population of England—to encounter the rigour of the climate, and to perform the hard task of colonisation. Such heartening as the friends they had left behind had it in their power to give, they received from time to time. “Let it not be grievous to you that you have been instrumental to break the ice for others. The honour shall be yours to the world's end." I
“Out of small beginnings," said Bradford, “great things have been produced ; and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone to many; yea, in some sort, to our whole nation.”
The Pilgrim Fathers the founders of a new empire. --The attempt has sometimes been made to belittle the
1 "To the world's end the honour is theirs. If Columbus discovered the New Continent, they discovered the New World.”—The United States : An Outline of Political History, by Goldwin Smith, p. 5.
importance of New Plymouth, and the position of the Fathers in relation to the future of America. Mr. Doylel says “ that if the Plymouth settlement had never been made, the political life of New England would in all probability have taken the same form, and run the same course as it did.” This is like saying that if Columbus had not discovered America, it would very probably have been discovered. But how does Mr. Doyle know that the political life of New England would have run the same course without the Fathers as it did run?. He will say perhaps that the character of the men who afterwards colonised Massachusetts lends support to his conjecture; but suppose these had not been the Puritans they were, suppose the first settlers had been Royalists, as was the case in Virginia, is it likely that demiocracy would have taken root as it did, or that free institutions would have spread over America as they have done to-day ? In making the assertion he does, Mr. Doyle most seriously underestimates the influence of New Plymouth upon the settlers in Massachusetts.
He forgets that Independency became the religion of the latter, and that, though in time the colony of New Plymouth became incorporated with Massachusetts, it parted with its autonomy, as Greece parted with her independence by inoculating her conquerors with her own ideas, manners, and character. There can be no doubt that the Pilgrims were historically, and in the most real and unimpeachable sense, the founders of the American Republic. “In pursuit of religious freedom, they estab
1 The English in America : The Puritan Colonies, by J. A. Doyle, vol. i. p. 61.
lished civil liberty, and meaning only to found a Church, gave birth to a nation, and in settling a town, commenced an empire."
Congregationalism or Independency was in New Plymouth the prevailing form of Church government, and the special character it assumed was that which had been impressed upon it by the revered and trusted Robinson. William Brewster was the ruling elder of the Church, and there being as yet no ordained minister among the little band of emigrants, he performed all the duties of this office, except the administration of the sacraments. It cannot be said, however, that in the young rising colony the principles of Separatism won their way and triumphed without a struggle. The devoted band of men and women who had joined themselves in Church covenant at Leyden, with John Robinson as their pastor, did not constitute the whole company that had come over in the Mayflower. In England they had been joined by others; others again came over afterwards to New England, some of them not of the most reputable sort, and made common cause with the colonists of New Plymouth. Among these were a number of Conforming Puritans, and these, instigated by their friends and sympathisers in England, sought to subvert the constitution of the Church at Plymouth, and “capture” it in the interest of their own anti-Separatist principles. In this, however, they were signally defeated, and at the end of ten years, after fortune and prosperity had begun to smile upon their labours, and the Fathers had succeeded in quelling all opposition, and living down all