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might, he and others shrewdly suspected, prove of great service in a country where it was well known salvages’existed in large numbers, and might have to be encountered with the arm of flesh,
The embarkation at Delft Haven (July 1620) must have been an affecting one. The Rev. Mr Robinson knelt upon the beach, invoking, with uplifted hands and broken voice, the blessing of the Most High God upon the faithful companions of thirteen years of exile, now departing only to prepare another and more genial home for all the brethren beyond the deep waters. These prayers and blessings were echoed back by the Pilgrims, mingled with hurrahs from the more light-hearted and youthful amongst them, and followed by a rattling 'volley of shot, and three pieces of ordnance'—a significant token that those strongly practical, as well as deeply religious men, had not left themselves without the means of self-defence, should the heathen,' amongst whom they were about to dwell, unfortunately prove insensible to the milder persuasions of peaceful words and kindly acts.
They were not long in reaching Southampton, where, on the 5th of August 1620 (O. S.), the Pilgrims, in number 101, including women and children, embarked
in the Mayflower and Speedwell for their final destination. They were scarcely in the Channel, when it was discovered that the Mayflower was greatly in need of repairs, and there was nothing for it but to run into Dartmouth. At the end of eight days, they once more put to sea, only again to suffer temporary check and disappointment. This time it was the captain of the Speedwell that obstructed the voyage. He could not, at the last moment, nerve himself to encounter the perils of the Atlantic at such a season of the year, in so slight a vessel as that which he commanded. It was perforce therefore that the indignant emigrants put into Plymouth. There both the Speedwell and its captain were abandoned, and all went on board the Mayflower, which, on the 6th of September, took its final departure from the shores of England. The Pilgrims experienced much sympathy and kindness at Plymouth from persons of their own views and convictions, many of whom promised to follow as soon as news of the success of this first experiment should reach them. The voyage out lasted sixty-three days. The intention was to settle in the northern parts of Virginia, somewhere in the vicinity of the Hudson River; but the captain of the Mayflower ignorantly mistook his course, and effected (Nov. 8th) a landing at Cape Cod, the southern horn of the Bay of Fundy (Massachusetts), and considerably north of the intended place of settlement.
As the adventurers had, as it were, cast themselves loose from all regularly constituted authority, it was obviously necessary that some definite form of civil government should be agreed upon, especially as there were some on board not, it was feared, well affected to peace and concord. With this view, the following document,the first American charter of self-government-was drawn up towards the close of the voyage, and ultimately subscribed by the whole (forty-one) of the male emigrants : In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of King James, having undertaken, for the glory of God and the advancement of Christian faith, and honour of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better enduring and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof, to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws and measures, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most convenient for the general good of the colony. Unto which we all promise due obedience. Under this constitution, John Carver was elected governor for one year, with five, and subsequently seven, magistrates to assist him. Carver did not live to fulfil his term of office, having died during the first spring; he was succeeded by William Bradford, who held the governorship till his death in 1651, except for three years, during two of which Edward Winslow filled the chair, and one when Thomas Prince was elected. We may also here mention, that the 'commons' remained so few in number till 1631, that they all met for legislative purposes. In that year, representation of the increasing commonalty was resorted to. But to return from this anticipatory digression to the forlorn band of New Englanders just arrived at Cape Cod.
The geographical blunder of the captain of the Mayflower may be esteemed å fortunate one, inasmuch as the vicinity of the Hudson was crowded at the time with warlike savages, whereas the southern shores of the Bay of Fundy had been swept by a pestilence, which had destroyed great numbers of them, and driven the survivors to a considerable distance from the fatal neighbourhood. When Standish, Bradford, and others—impatient of the delay occasioned by the repairs required for the shallop, in which it was proposed to explore the unknown and iron shores of the bay, in search of a secure harbour and a decently eligible location-attempted an excursion inland, they met with nothing in the snow-covered, frozen wilderness but deserted wigwams, Indian graves, and a few ears of maize. Finding it useless to persevere in a land exploration at that season of the year-an unusually severe one, by the by-they returned with somewhat dismal forebodings to their companions. The shallop at length being ready, Carver, Winslow, Bradford, Standish, and others—in all, twenty handsnothing daunted by a second attempt which led to "no esult, embarked on the 6th of December upon a third voyage of discovery. The first night they bivouacked at Namskeket, or Great Meadow Creek, and early the next morning continued their westward course along the shores of the bay. The weather was intensely cold, and they were, moreover, exposed for several hours in the open boat to a fierce storm of wind, hail, and snow. In the afternoon, the shallop's rudder was torn away by the furious sea, and they steered as well as they could with oars. In consequence of carrying more sail than was prudent, in order to reach the harbour they had heard of before nightfall, which was rapidly falling, the mast snapped in halves, and the sails went overboard. Fortunately, the tide was favourable; and after safely sweeping over a dangerous surf, they found themselves in a fair sound, and sheltered under the lee of a small island, just within the entrance of what they afterwards named New Plymouth Harbour. The next day was Sunday; but precious as time was to the worn and harassed explorers, and fully conscious as they were of how anxiously their return was expected, the duties of the Sabbath might not be neglected; and the holy day was passed in devotional exercises, just as if they were still assembled in the old meeting-house at Leyden. The return to Cape Cod was effected without accident; the report they brought was deemed satisfactory; and on the 11th of December 1621, the sea-weary passengers of the Mayflower leaped exultingly ashore, and took grateful possession of the promised land, albeit that land was a frozen, inhospitable desert, hemmed in on one side by the howling wilderness, and on the other, by the raging sea. Forlorn outcasts upon earth as they might be considered, were they not, in their own firm belief, favoured children of the Heaven whose blue vault clipped them round about there as in the Old World, and whence myriads of radiant eyes were looking down with love and sympathy upon the holy mission to which they had been called—that of planting the pure church of God amidst the savage fastnesses of a but recently revealed and heathen wilderness ? To such men, what could there be of terror or dismay in the aspect of difficulty, danger, privation, or even of untimely death?
The spot thus fixed upon was called New Plymouth, in remembrance of the last place in England where they had briefly sojourned, and the kindness experienced there. Tradition relates, that the first to land on the rock at New Plymouth was Mary Chilton, the eldest of two sisters, Mary and Susannah. They came out with their father, Richard Chilton, who died during the first winter. It is added, that Mary Chilton married John Winslow, and Susannah a Mr Latham. The direct descendants of the Winslows are at the present day to be found in Boston, those of the Lathams are citizens of Bridgewater. In 1775, when the people of New England were on the eve of an unequal conflict with the same despotic principle, though assuming another shape, from which their forefathers fled for refuge to the forests of America, and it was judged expedient to reawaken in the minds of the people the heroic memories connected with the landing of the first band of Pilgrim Fathers, the face of the rock was taken off, and carried in procession to a spot beside the New Plymoută
court-house, where it yet remains. The bed of the rock is still pointed out at the head of the longest wharf in the now busy and Hourishing city.
The first faint hectic breathings of the infant colony could have indicated to the eye of faith only its after-vigorous youth and manhood. The time of arrival-mid-winter-was unpropitious; and inland folk as they all were, the long voyage, cooped up as they had been in the little May flower, enfeebled the health of the Pilgrims, and rendered them much less able, in the unhoused and precarious condition in which they found themselves, to contend successfully, as they might otherwise have done, with the rigours of a New England climate. With March, milder weather came, and for the first time the birds sang pleasantly in the woods, but very many were by that time in their graves; and with the advance of spring, the mortality greatly increased. At the end of five months from their arrival, half the emigrants were dead. This frightful death-havoc did not in the slightest degree dismay the survivors, or dissuade them from their great task. Let it not grieve us,' they were wont to say to each other, 'that we have been instruments to break the ice for others : the honour shall be ours to the world's end.' Nor was the period of hardship and peril a brief or transitory one. Once during the third year of the settlement, they were so near famine, that only one pint of corn, which allowed just five grains to each individual, remained; and for months together a piece of lobster or other fish, without corn or vegetables of any kind, was the sole, and that often scantily, obtainable food. The system of common property, stipulated for in the agreement with the London capitalists, bred grievous discontents, and it was found necessary to abolish it; after which a much greater alacrity and zeal for labour began immediately to manifest itself. There were other perils and discouragements. Although the pestilence of the previous year had cleared the neighbourhood of Plymouth of the tribe of savages formerly located there, the smoke of numerous fires in the distance testified from the first to the large number of them that skirted the English settlement; and it was not long before a considerable body of Indians was seen hovering at intervals about the colony, One day--this was early in the first spring-an Indian called Squiculo suddenly presented himself before the colonists, exclaiming: Welcome, Englishmen!' He had been kidnapped some years before by the Portuguese, and taken to Europe. How he reached England, we do not know ; but he was met with there by Sir F. Gorges, governor of Plymouth, and sent back by a trading vessel to his own country. He knew a smattering of English, and was of considerable service to the colonists, by intro-. ducing them to Massatoit, the sachem of a neighbouring Indian tribe, with whom they made a treaty which endured for fifty years. The New England settlers, there can be no question, treated the Indians, as long as it was possible to do so, with
respect and kindness; and to having done so, the Plymouth Pilgrims owed their escape from a great danger in the early and comparatively defenceless state of the settlement. The Narragansetts, a near and powerful tribe, were from the first disposed to look upon the pale-faced strangers with dislike and suspicion. The aged and ferocious Canonicus was the patriarch and chief ruler of this tribe; Miantonimoh, their prime warrior and leader in battle. The latent enmity of this tribe was once so near kindling into open hostility, that Canonicus, by way of declaration of war in form, sent the English a bundle
of arrows enclosed in the skin of a rattlesnake. The governor, William Bradford, quite aware that the only chance of eluding the menaced attack was to appear fearless and disdainful of it, returned the serpent's skin with a stuffing of powder and shot. This significant message had the hoped-for effect. The echoes of the English fowlingpieces in the woods had already warned the Indians, that the new-comers possessed weapons which it might be hazardous to encounter with clubs and bows and arrows; and the powder-andshot response to their hostile message, would seem to have confirmed and deepened that impression. Friendly intercourse was renewed; and peace with the Indian tribes generally might not for a long time have suffered the slightest interruption, but for occurrences over which the Plymouth colonists had no control. Thomas Weston, a merchant who had taken a share in the outfit of the Pilgrim Fathers solely from commercial considerations, obtained a grant in 1623—from what source we shall presently see-of a tract of land near where Weymouth, New England, now stands, and arrived to take possession, with about sixty companions, in the following year. Weston imagined that a profitable fur-trade might be organised there; but neither he nor his people were made of the stuff necessary to the formation of men who would grapple successfully with the almost incredible obstacles opposed to early colonisation in the wilds of America. After a brief struggle, the attempt was abandoned, but not till after some of his men had quarrelled with and ill-treated a party of Indians, who naturally threatened reprisals. A confederacy was not only contemplated by several tribes, for the purpose of suddenly attacking the Plymouth as well as Mr Weston's settlers, but nearly matured, when the gratitude of a sachem, whom Mr Winslow had succoured during a dangerous sickness, induced him to warn his benefactor of what was likely to occur. There was not a moment to be lost; and Captain Miles Standish, taking with him only eight resolute men, marched at once upon the chief conspirators, attacked them unhesitatingly, obtained a complete victory, and returned in triumph, bearing a sachem's head, in token of this capital exploit,' as it was termed. A glowing account of the affair was forwarded to the Rev. John Robinson, who was still at Leyden, anxiously waiting for means of reaching America with the remnant of his congregation—a hope, by the