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what would become of them and their little ones ;
others melted in tears seeing their little ones hanging
about them, crying for fear and quaking with cold."

In view o* their sufferings general sympathy was


excited in their behalf. It seemed inhuman to im-
prison, in gloomy cells of stone and iron, women and
innocent children, simply because they had intended
to accompany their husbands and fathers to another
land. It was of no use to fine them, for they had
no means of paying a fine. Neither could they be
sent to their former homes, for their houses and
lands had already been sold, in preparation for their

At last the poor creatures were turned adrift. No
historic pen has recorded the details of their suffer-
ings. Some undoubtedly perished of exposure. Some
were kindly sheltered by the charitable, and some
succeeded in various ways in crossing the sea to Am-
sterdam. There were similar persecutions in other
parts of England. Quite a large company of pilgrims
from various sections of England had succeeded, some
in one way and some in another, in effecting their
escape to Holland. They had nearly all taken up
their residence in Amsterdam. This flourishing city
was so called because it had sprung up around a dam
which had been thrown across the mouth of the Amstel
river. It was even then renowned for its stately build-
ings, its extended commerce and its opulence. Ships,
from every clime, lined its wharfs; water craft of
every variety and in almost countless numbers floated
upon its canals, which took the place of streets.


From many parts of Europe Protestants had fled to
this city, bringing with them their arts, manufactures
and skill in trade. The emigrants from Scrooby were
nearly all farmers. They had no money to purchase
lands, and they found it very difficult to obtain re-
munerative employment in the crowded streets of the
commercial city. Governor Bradford writes, of his
companions in affliction:

" They heard a strange and uncouth language and
beheld the different manners and customs of the peo-
ple with their strange fashions and attires; all so
different from their plain country villages, wherein
they were bred and had so long lived, as it seemed
they were come into a new world. But these were
not the things they much looked on, or which long
took up their thoughts. For they had other work in
hand and another kind of war to urge and maintain.
For it was not long before they saw the grim and
grisly face of poverty come on them, like an armed
man, with whom they must buckle and encounter and
from whom they could not fly."

The new comers did not find perfect harmony of
agreement with those who had preceded them. After
a few months tarry at Amsterdam they retired in a
body to Leyden, a beautiful city of seventy thousand
inhabitants, about forty miles distant. In allusion to
this movement Governor Bradford writes :


" For these and some other reasons they removed
to Leyden, a fair and beautiful city, and of a sweet
situation ; but made more famous by the university,
wherewith it is adorned, in which of late had been so
many learned men. But wanting that traffic by sea
which Amsterdam enjoys, it was not so beneficial for
their outward means of living. But being now estab-
lished here, they fell to such trades and employments
as they best could ; valuing peace and their spiritual
comfort above any other riches whatever.

"Being thus settled, after many difficulties, they
continued many years in a comfortable condition, en-
joying much sweet and delightful society, and spiritual
comfort together in the ways of God, under the able
ministry of Mr. John Robinson and Mr. William
Brewster, who was an assistant unto him, in the place
of an Elder, unto which he was now called and chosen
by the church. So they grew in knowledge and other
gifts and graces of God, and lived together in peace
and love and holiness; and many came unto them
from diverse parts of England so as they grew a great

" And if at any time any differences arose, or of-
fenses broke out, as it cannot be but some time there
will, even among the best of men, they were even so
met with and nipped in the head betimes, or other-
wise so well composed as still love, peace and com-
munion were continued."


The condition of the Pilgrims in Holland was a very
hard one. They were foreigners ; they found the lan-
guage difficult to acquire. They were generally poor,
and notwithstanding their honesty and frugality, could
obtain but a scanty support. Their sons were strongly
tempted to enlist as soldiers, or to wander away as
sailors. The future of their families seemed very

" Lastly," writes Governor Bradford, " and which
was not least, a great hope and inward zeal they had
of laying some good foundation, or at least to make
some way thereunto for propagating and advancing
the kingdom of Christ, in those remote parts of the
world, yea., though they should be but the stepping
stones unto others for the performing of so great a

" Their numbers assembled at Leyden can only be
conjectured. It may, when at the largest, have count-
ed between two and three hundred persons. Rev.
John Robinson was chosen their pastor, and William
Brewster their assistant pastor."

Thus gradually the Pilgrims came to the convic-
tion that Holland was not a desirable place for their
permanent home. Notwithstanding the oppression
which they had endured from the British government,
they were very unwilling to lose their native language
or the name of Englishmen. They could not educate


their children as they wished, and it was quite certain
their descendants would become absorbed and lost in
the Dutch nation. They therefore began to turn their
thoughts to the New World, where every variety of
clime invited them, and where boundless acres of the
most fertile land, unoccupied, seemed to be waiting
for the plough of the husbandman. " Hereby they
thought they might more glorify God, do more good
to their country, better provide for their posterity, and
live to be more refreshed by their labors than ever
they could do in Holland." *

Unsuccessful attempts had already been made to
establish colonies in Maine and Virginia. They had
also received appalling reports of the ferocity of the
savages. Deeply, solemnly, they pondered the all im-
portant question with many fastings and prayers.
Bradford writes that,

" They considered that all great and honorable ac-
tions were accompanied with great difficulties, and
must be both enterprised and overcome with answer-
able courages. The dangers were great, but not des-
perate ; the difficulties were many, but not invincible.
For, though there were many of them likely, yet they
were not certain. It might be, sundry of the things
feared might never befall ; others, by provident care

* Winslow's Briefe Narrative, p. 31.


and the use of good means, might, in a great meas-
ure, be prevented. And all of them, through the help
of God, by fortitude and patience, might either be
borne or overcome. Their ends were good and hon-
orable, and therefore they might expect the blessing
of God in their proceeding." *

The Dutch endeavored to induce them to join a
feeble colony which they had established at the mouth
of the Hudson river. Sir Walter Raleigh presented
in glowing terms the claims of the valley of the Ori-
noco, in South America, which river he had recently
explored for the second time.

"We passed," writes the enthusiastic traveller,
" the most beautiful country that my eyes ever beheld.
I never saw a more beautiful country or more lively
prospects. There is no country which yieldeth more
pleasure to its inhabitants. For health, good air,
pleasure, riches, I am resolved that it cannot be equal-
led by any region either in the east or west." f

There was a small struggling English colony in
Virginia which they were urged to join. But Brad-
ford writes that they were afraid that they should be
as much persecuted there for their religion as if they
lived in England. After pondering for some time
these questions and perplexities, they decided to es-

* Bradford, 25, 26. f Works of Sir Walter Raleigh.


tablish a distinct colony for themselves, obtaining their
lands from the Virginia Company in England. A del-
egation was sent to the king of England, soliciting
from him a grant of freedom of worship. The Vir-
ginia Company gladly lent its co-operation to the em-
igrants. The king, however, was so unrelenting in
his desire to promote religious uniformity throughout
all his domains, that though the Secretary of State,
and others high in authority, urged him to liberality,
he could only be persuaded to give his reluctant assent
to the assurance " that his majesty would connive at
them, and not molest them, provided they carried
themselves peaceably."

The very important question now arose, Who
should go. Manifestly all could not be in a condition
to cross a wide and stormy sea, for a new world, never
to return. As only a minority of the whole number
could leave, it was decided that their pastor, Mr. Rob-
inson, should remain with those left behind, while El-
der Brewster should accompany the emigrants as their
spiritual guide. For nearly twelve years they had re-
sided in Leyden. The hour of their departure was a
sad one for all. Many very grievous embarrassments
were encountered, which we have not space here to

A small vessel of but sixty tons burden, called the
Speedwell, was purchased, and was in the harbor at


Delft Haven, twelve miles from Leyden, awaiting the
arrival of the pilgrims. Their friends, who remained,
gave them a parting feast. It was truly a religious

" The feast," writes Winslow, " was at the pastor's
house, which was large. Earnest were the prayers
for each other, and mutual the pledges. With hymns
prayers, and the interchange of words of love and
cheer, a few hours were passed." The pilgrims, then,
about one hundred and twenty in number, accompa-
nied by many of their Leyden friends, repaired on
board canal boats, and were speedily conveyed to Delft
Haven. Here another parting scene took place. The
description of it, as given by Bradford, in his " Briet
Narration," is worthy of record :

" The night before the embarkation was spent with
little sleep by the most ; but with friendly entertain-
ment and Christian discourse, and other real expres-
sions of true Christian love. The next day, the wind
being fair, they went on board, and their friends with
them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad
and mournful parting. To see what sighs and sobs
did sound among them ; what tears did gush from
every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each heart ; that
sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the quay
as spectators, could not refrain from tears. Yet com-
fortable and sweet it was to see such lively and true


expressions of dear and unfeigned love. But the tide,
which stays for no man, calling them away that were
thus loath to part, their reverend pastor falling down
upon his knees, and they all, with him, with watery
cheeks, commended them, with most fervent prayers
to the Lord and His blessing. And th'en, with mutual
embraces and many tears, they took their leaves one
of another."

The Voyage.

The Departure from Southampton. Hindrances. Delay at Dartmouth
and Plymouth. Abandonment of the Speedwell. Sketch of Miles
Standish. Death at Sea. Perils and Threatened Mutiny. Nar-
row Escape of John Rowland. Arrival at Cape Cod. Testi-
mony of Governor Bradford. The Civil Contract John Carver
Chosen Governor. The First Exploring Tour. The Sabbath.

On the 22d of July, 1620, the Speedwell, with its
little band of Christian heroes, left the haven of Delft
for England.

Rev. Mr. Robinson and his friends returned sadly
to Leyden. A prosperous wind rapidly bore the vessel
across the channel to the British coast, and they en-
tered the port of Southampton. Here they found a
party of English emigrants who had chartered a ves-
sel, the Mayflower, of one hundred and twenty tons.
They were awaiting the arrival of the Speedwell, in-
tending to unite with the Leyden band and sail in its
company for the organization of a Christian colony in
the New World.

Here, disappointed in some of their financial plans,
it was found that they needed four hundred dollars to
pay up sundry bills, before they could sail. To raise


this money they were compelled to sell some of their
provisions, including many firkins of butter, which lux-
ury they thought they could best spare.

At length, all things being ready, both vessels
weighed anchor and put to sea, from Southampton, on
the 5th of August. In the two vessels there were
about one hundred and twenty passengers. They had
gone but about one hundred miles when Captain Rey-
nolds, of the Speedwell, announced that his ship had
sprung aleak, and that he did not dare to continue the
voyage without having her examined and repaired.
Both vessels, therefore, put into Dartmouth, losing a
fair wind, and time which, with the rapidly passing
summer weather, was invaluable to them. They were
detained for more than a week, searching out the leaks
and mending them. One of their number, Mr. Cush-
man, wrote from Dartmouth a doleful letter, full of an-
ticipations of evil.

, "We put in here," he wrote, "to trim our vessel;
and I think, as do others, also, that if we had stayed
at sea for three or four hours more she would have,
sunk right down. And, though she was twice trim-
med at Southampton, yet now she is open and leaky
as a sieve. We lay at Southampton seven days in fair
weather waiting- for her ; and now we lie here in as fair
a wind as can blow, and so have done these four days,
and are like to do four days more ; and by that time


the wind will probably turn, as it did at Southampton.
Our victuals will be half eaten up, I think, before we
go from the coast of England. And if our voyage last
long we shall not have a month's victuals when we
come into the country.

" If I should write to you all things which promis-
cuously forebode our ruin, I should overcharge my
weak head and grieve your tender heart. Only this I
pray you, prepare for evil tidings of us every day. I
see not in reason how we shall escape even the gasp-
ings of hunger-starved persons. But God can do
much, and His will be done."

Again the two vessels set sail, probably about the
2 1st of August.

They had been out but a day or two, having made
about three hundred miles from Land's End, keeping
close company, when the'commander of the Speedwell
hung out a signal of distress. Both vessels hove to
and it appeared that the Speedwell had sprung a leak,
of so serious a character that, though diligently ply-
ing the pumps, they could scarcely keep her afloat.

Nothing was to be done but to put back again to
Plymouth, the nearest English port. Here the Speed-
well was carefully examined, and pronounced to be,
from general weakness, unseaworthy. The disappoint-
ment was very great. The vessel was abandoned;
twenty passengers were left behind, who could not be
received in the already crowded Mayflower.


"It was resolved," writes Governor Bradford, "to
dismiss the Speedwell and part of the company, and
proceed with the other ship. The which, though it
was grievous and caused great discouragement, was
put in execution. So, after they had taken out such
provisions as the other ship could well stow, and con-
cluded what number and what persons to send back,
they made another sad parting, the one ship going
back to London, the other proceeding on her voyage.
Those who went back were, for the most part, those
who were willing so to do, either out of some discon-
tent, or from fear they conceived of the ill success of
the voyage, seeing so many crosses befal, and the time
of the year so far spent. But others, hi regard to
their weakness and charge of many young children,
were thought least useful, and most unfit to bear the
brunt of this hard adventure; unto which work of
God and judgment of their brethren they were con-
tented to submit. And thus, like Gideon's army, this
small number was divided, as if the Lord, by this work
of His providence, thought these few too many for
the great work He had to do. But here, by the way,
let me show, how afterwards it was found that the leaki-
ness of this ship was partly caused by being overmast-
ed and too much pressed with sails ; for after she was
spld and put into her old trim, she made many voyages
and performed her service very sufficiently, to the great


profit of her owners. But more especially by the cun-
ning and deceit of the master and his company, who
were hired to remain a whole year in America; and
now, fancying dislike, and fearing want of victuals,
they plotted this stratagem to free themselves, as af-
terwards was known, and by some of them confessed."

Mr. Cushman, who wrote the doleful letter, was
left behind at his own request. There was some ex-
cuse for his evil forebodings, for he was in a wretched
state of health. He had written,

"Besides the imminent dangers of this voyage,
which are no less than deadly, an infirmity of body
hath seized me which will not, in all likelihood, leave
me until death. What to call it I know not. But it
is a bundle of lead, as it were, crushing my heart more
and more these fourteen days ; and, though I do the
actions of a living man, yet I am but as dead."

The whole number of persons who took their de-
parture from Dartmouth, in the one solitary vessel,
the Mayflower, for the New World, amounted to one
hundred and two.

Among these passengers there was a marked man,
to whom we have already alluded, Captain Miles
Standish. He was a native of Lancashire, England,
a gentleman born, and the legitimate heir to a large
estate. He had been for some time an officer in one
of the British regiments, which had garrisoned a town


in the Netherlands. He was not a church member,
and we know not what induced him to unite with the
pilgrims in their perilois enterprise. Probably love
of adventure, sympathy with them in their cruel per-
secution, and attachment to some of the emigrants,
were the motives which influenced him. It is certain
that he was very highly esteemed, and very cordially
welcomed by the pilgrims. His military skill might
prove of great value to the infant colony.

It is but little that we know of the early life of this
remarkable man. He was born about the year 1584,
and was, consequently, at this time, about thirty-six
years of age. The family could boast of a long and
illustrious line of ancestors. In the great controversy
between the Catholics and the Protestants there was
a division in the family, part adhering to the ancient
faith, and part accepting the Protestant religion.
Thus there arose, as it were, two families ; the Cath-
olics, who were of " Standish Hall," and the Protest-
ants, who were of " Duxbury Hall." Both of these
family seats are situated near the village of Chorley,
in the county of Lancashire. The income of the
whole property was large, being estimated at about
five hundred thousand dollars a year.

It is probable that Miles Standish was the legal
heir to all this property, and that, by gross injustice,
he was defrauded of it. A few years ago the heirs of


Miles Standish, in this country, sent out an agent, Mr.
Bromley, to examine into the title. He thoroughly
searched the records of the parish for more than a
hundred years, embracing the period between 1549
and 1652. The result of this investigation was fully
convincing, to the mind of Mr. Bromley, that Miles
Standish was the rightful heir to the property, but that
the legal evidence had been fraudulently destroyed.
In reference to this investigation, Mr. Justin Winsor,
in his History of Duxbury, writes :

" The records were all readily deciphered, with the
exception of the years 15 84 and 1585 ; the very dates
about which time Standish is supposed to have been
born. The parchment leaf, which contained the regis-
ters of the births of these years was wholly illegible ;
and their appearance was such that the conclusion was
at once established that it had been purposely done
with pumice stone, or otherwise, to destroy the legal
evidence of the parentage of Standish, and his conse-
quent title to the estates thereabout. The mutilation
of these pages is supposed to have been accomplished
when, about twenty years before, similar enquiries
were made by the family in America."

Young Miles was educated to the military profes-
sion. England was then in alliance with the Dutch,
in one of those wars with which the continent of Eu-
rope has ever been desolated. Miles was sent to the


Netherlands, commissioned as a lieutenant in Queen
Elizabeth's forces. After peace was declared he re-
mained in the country and attached himself to the
English exiles, who, in Leyden, had found refuge from
ecclesiastical oppression. He joined the first com-
pany of Pilgrims for America, and by his bravery and
sagacity, contributed greatly to the success of their he-
roic enterprise.

Nothing of special moment occurred during the
voyage, which was tedious, occupyi% sixty-four days.
One event is recorded by Bradford as a special provi-
dence. One of the seamen, a young man of vigorous
health and lusty frame, was a very vile fellow. As he
went swaggering about the decks he lost no opportu-
nity to insult the Pilgrims, ever treating their religious
faith with contempt. When he saw any suffering from
the awful depression of sea sickness, he would openly
curse them, and express the wish that he might have
the pleasure of throwing their bodies overboard, be-
fore they should reach the end of the voyage. The
slightest reproof would only cause him to curse and
swear more bitterly. Why the captain of the May-
flower allowed this conduct, we are not informed. But
there are other indications that he was not very cor-
dially in sympathy with his persecuted, comparatively
friendless, but illustrious passengers. When about
Vialf way across the Atlantic, the dissolute young man


was seized with sudden and painful sickness. Several
days of severe suffering passed, as his ribald songs
and oaths were hushed in the languor of approaching
death. He died miserably, and his body, wrapped in
a tarred sheet, was cast into the sea. " Thus," writes
Bradford, " did his curses light upon his own head.
And it was an astonishment to all his fellows, for they
noted it to be the just hand of God upon him."

Very rough storms were encountered, often with
head winds, and lUe frail Mayflower was sorely strained
and wrenched by gale and surge. The shrouds were
broken, the sails were rent, and seams were opened,
through the oaken ribs, which threatened the engulf-
ing of the ship in the yawning waves. Almost a mu-
tiny was excited, as some, deeming the shattered bark
incapable of performing the voyage, urged the aban-
donment of the expedition, and a return. After a
careful examination, by the captain and the officers,of
the injury the vessel had received, it was decided that
the hull of the ship, under water, was still strong ;
that, to tighten the seam opened by the main beam,
they had on board an immense iron screw, which the
passengers had brought from Holland, which would
raise the beam to its place ; and that, by carefully
calking the decks and upper works, and by the cau-
tious avoidance of spreading too much sail, they might
still, in safety, brave the perils of a stormy sea.


But we are told that many gales arose so fierce,
and the sea ran so high, that for days together they
could not spread an inch of canvass, but, in nautical
phrase, were compelled to scud under bare poles. In
one of these terrific storms a young man, John How-
land, who ventured upon deck, was, by the sudden
lurching of the vessel and the breaking of a wave,
swept into the sea. He seemed to have been carried
down fathoms deep under the raging billows. But,
providentially, he caught hold of the topsail halyards,
which happened to hang overboard. Though they ran
out to full length, still, with a death gripe, he kept his
hold until he was drawn up to the surface of the water,

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Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottMiles Standish, the Puritan captain .. → online text (page 2 of 21)