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Of Plymouth Plantation

Of their departure into Holland and their troubles thereabout, with some of the many difficulties they found and met withal.

Anno 1608

Being thus constrained to leave their native soil and country, their lands and livings, and all their friends, and familiar acquaintance, it was much; and thought marvelous by many. But to go into a country they knew not (but by hearsay) where they must learn a new language, and get their livings they knew not how, it being a dear place, and subject to the miseries of war, it was by many thought an adventure almost desperate, a case intolerable, and a misery worse than death. Especially seeing they were not acquainted with trades nor traffic (by which that country does subsist) but had only been used to a plain country life, and the innocent trade of husbandry. But these things did not dismay them (though they did sometimes trouble them) for their desires were set on the ways of God, and to enjoy His ordinances; but they rested on His providence, and knew Whom they had believed. Yet this was not all, for though they could not stay, yet were they not suffered to go; but the ports and havens were shut against them, so as they were fain to seek secret means of conveyance, and to bribe and fee the mariners, and give extraordinary rates for their passages. And yet were they often times betrayed (many of them) and both they and their goods intercepted and surprised, and thereby put to great trouble, and charge, of which I will give an instance or two, and omit the rest.

There was a large company of them purposed to get passage at Boston in Lincolnshire, and for that end, had hired a ship wholly to themselves; and made agreement with the master to be ready at a certain day, and take them, and their goods in, at a convenient place, where they accordingly would all attend in readiness. So after long waiting, and large expenses (though he kept not day with them) yet he came at length and took them in, in the night; But when he had them and their goods aboard, he betrayed them, having before hand complotted with the searchers and other officers to do. Who took them, and put them into open boats, and there rifled and ransacked them, searching to their shirts for money, yea even the women further than became modesty; and then carried them back into the town, and made them a spectacle, and wonder to the multitude, which came flocking on all sides to behold them. Being thus first, by these catchpoll officers, rifled, and stripped of their money, books, and much other goods; they were presented to the magistrates, and messengers sent to inform the lords of the Council of them; and so they were committed to ward. Indeed the magistrates used them courteously, and showed them what favor they could; but could not deliver them, till order came from the Council table. But the issue was that after a month's imprisonment, the greatest part were dismissed, and sent to the places from whence they came; but 7 of the principal were still kept in prison, and bound over to the assizes.

The next spring after, there was another attempt made by some of these and others; to get over at another place. And it so fell out, that they light of a Dutchman at Hull, having a ship of his own belonging to Zealand; they made agreement with him, and acquainted him with their condition, hoping to find more faithfulness in him, than in the former of their own nation; he bade them not fear, for he would do well enough. He was ((by appointment) to take them in between Grimsby, and Hull, where was a large common a good way distant from any town. Now against the prefixed time, the women and children, with the goods, were sent to the place in a small bark, which they had hired for that end; and the men were to meet them by land. But it so fell out, that they were there a day before the ship came, and the sea being rough, and the women very sick, prevailed with the seamen to put into a creek hard by, where they lay on ground at low water. The next morning the ship came, but they were fast, and could not stir, until about noon; In the meantime (the shipmaster, perceiving how the matter was) sent his boat to be getting the men aboard whom he saw ready, walking about the shore. But after the first boatful was got aboard, and she was ready to go for more, the master espied a great company (both horse and foot) with bills, and guns, and other weapons (for the country was raised to take them). The Dutchman seeing that, swore (his country's oath) sacrament; and having the wind fair, weighed his anchor, hoisted sails, and away.

But the poor men which were got aboard were in great distress for their wives, and children, which they saw thus to be taken, and were left destitute of their helps; and themselves also, not having a cloth to shift them with, more than they had on their backs, and some scarce a penny about them, all they had being aboard the bark. It drew tears from their eyes, and anything they had they would have given to have been ashore again; but all in vain, there was no remedy; they must thus sadly part. And afterward endured a fearful storm at sea, being 14 days or more before they arrived at their port; in 7 whereof they neither saw sun, moon nor stars, and were driven near the coast of Norway; the mariners themselves often despairing of life; and once with shrieks and cries gave over all, as if the ship had been foundered in the sea, and they sinking without recovery. But when man's hope, and help wholly failed, the Lord's power and mercy appeared in their recovery; for the ship rose again, and gave the mariners courage again to manage her. And if modesty would suffer me, I might declare with what fervent prayers they cried unto the Lord in this great distress, (especially some of them) even without any great distraction when the water ran into their mouths and ears; and the mariners cried out we sink, we sink; they cried (if not with miraculous, yet with a great height or degree of divine faith), yet Lord Thou canst save; yet Lord thou canst save; with such other expressions as I will forbear. Upon which the ship did not only recover, but shortly after the violence of the storm began to abate; and the Lord filled their afflicted minds with such comforts as everyone cannot understand. And in the end brought them to their desired haven, where the people came flocking admiring their deliverance, the storm having been so long and sore, in which much hurt had been done, as the master's friends related unto him in their congratulations.

But to return to the others where we left. The rest of the men that were in greatest danger, made shift to escape away before the troop could surprise them; those only staying that best might, to be assistant unto the women. But pitiful it was to see the heavy case of these poor women in this distress; what weeping and crying on every side, some for their husbands, that were carried away in the ship as is before related. Others not knowing what should become of them, and their little ones; others again melted in tears, seeing their poor little ones hanging about them, crying for fear, and quaking with cold. Being thus apprehended, they were hurried from one place to another, and from one justice to another, till in the end they knew not what to do with them; for to imprison so many women and innocent children for no other cause (many of them) but that they must go with their husbands; seemed to be unreasonable, and all would cry out of them; and to send them home again was as difficult, for they alleged (as the truth was) they had no homes to go to, for they had either sold, or otherwise disposed of their houses, and livings. To be short, after they had been thus turmoiled a good while, and conveyed from one constable to another, they were glad to be rid of them in the end upon any terms; for all were wearied and tired with them. Though in the meantime, they (poor souls) endured misery enough; and thus in the end necessity forced a way for them.

But that I be not tedious in these things, I will omit the rest, though I might relate many other notable passages, and troubles which they endured, and underwent in these their wanderings, and travels both at land, and sea; but I haste to other things. Yet I may not omit the fruit that came hereby, for by these so public troubles; in so many eminent places, their cause became famous, and occasioned many to look into the same; and their godly carriage and Christian behavior was such as left a deep impression in the minds of many. And though some few shrunk, at these first conflicts, and sharp beginnings (as it was no marvel) yet many more came on, with fresh courage, and greatly animated others. And in the end, notwithstanding all these storms of opposition, they all got over at length, some at one time, and some at another, and some in one place, and some in another. And met together again according to their desires, with no small rejoicing.

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