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Of Plymouth Plantation

Showing what means they used for preparation to this weighty voyage

And first, after their humble prayers unto God for his direction and assistance, and a general conference held hereabout, they consulted what particular place to pitch upon and prepare for. Some (and none of the meanest) had thoughts and were earnest for Guiana or some of those fertile places in those hot climates; others were for some parts of Virginia, where the English had already made entrance and beginning. Those for Guiana alleged that the country was rich, fruitful, and blessed with a perpetual spring and a flourishing greens where vigorous nature brought forth all things in abundance and plenty, without any great labor or art of man. So as it must needs make the inhabitants rich, seeing less provisions of clothing and other things would serve, than in more colder and less fruitful countries must be had. As also that the Spaniards (having much more than they could possess) had not yet planted there, nor anywhere very near the same.


But to this it was answered that out of question, the country was both fruitful and pleasant and might yield riches and maintenance to the possessors more easily than the other; yet, other things considered, it would not be so fit for them. And first, that such hot countries are subject to grievous diseases and many noisome impediments, which other more temperate places are freer from, and would not so well agree with our English bodies. Again, if they should there live and do well, the jealous Spaniard would never suffer them long, but would disputant or overthrow them. As he did the French in Florida, who were seated further from his richest countries, and the sooner because they should have none to protect them, and their own strength would be too small to resist so potent an enemy and so near a neighbor.


On the other hand, for Virginia, it was objected that if they lived among the English which were there planted, or so near them as to be under their government, they should be in as great danger to be troubled and persecuted for the cause of religion as if they lived in England, and it might be worse. And if they lived too far off, they should neither have succor nor defense from them.


But at length, the conclusion was to live as a distinct body by themselves under the general government of Virginia, and by their friends to sue to His Majesty that he would be pleased to grant them freedom of religion, and that this might be obtained, they were put in good hope by some great persons of good rank and quality, that were made their friends. Whereupon 2 were chosen and sent in to England (at the charge of the rest) to solicit this matter, who found the Virginia Company very desirous to have them go thither. And willing to grant them a patent with as ample privileges as they had or could grant to any, and to give them the best furtherance they could. And some of the chief of that company doubted not to obtain their suit of the King for liberty in religion and to have it confirmed under the King's broad seal, according to their desires.


But it proved a harder piece of work than they took it for, for though many means were used to bring it about, yet it could not be effected; for there were divers of good worth labored with the King to obtain it (amongst whom was one of his chief secretaries) and some other wrought with the archbishop to give way thereunto, but it proved all in vain. Yet, thus far they prevailed in sounding His Majesty's mind that he would connive at them and not molest them (provided they carried themselves peaceably). But to allow or tolerate them by his public authority, under his seal, they found it would not be. And this was all the chief of the Virginia Company or any other of their best friends could do in the case. Yet they persuaded them to go on, for they presumed they should not be troubled. And with this answer, the messengers returned and signified what diligence had been used and to what issue things were come.

But this made a damp in the business and caused some distraction, for many were afraid that if they should unsettle themselves and put off their estates and go upon these hopes, it might prove dangerous and but a sandy foundation. Yea, it was thought they might better have presumed hereupon without making any suit at all, than having made it to be thus rejected. But some of the chiefest thought otherwise and that they might well proceed hereupon, and that the King's Majesty was willing enough to suffer them without molestation, though for other reasons he would not confirm it by any public act. And furthermore, if there was no security in this promise intimated, there would be no great certainty in a further confirmation of the same; for if afterwards there should be a purpose or desire to wrong them, though they had a seal as broad as the house floor, it would not serve the turn; for there would be means anew found to recall or reverse it. Seeing therefore the course was probable, they must rest herein on God's providence, as they had done in other things.

Upon this resolution, other messengers were dispatched to end with the Virginia Company as well as they could. And to procure a patent with as good and ample conditions as they might by any good means obtain. As also to treat and conclude with such merchants and other friends as had manifested their forwardness to provoke to and adventure in this voyage. For which end, they had instructions given them upon what conditions they should proceed with them, or else to conclude nothing without further advice. And here it will be requisite to insert a letter or two that may give light to these proceedings.

A Copy Of Letter From Sir Edwin Sandys

Directed To Mr. John Robinson, and Mr. William Brewster

After my hearty salutation. The agents of your congregation, Robert Cushman and John Carver, have been in communication with divers select gentlemen of his Majesty's Council for Virginia; and by the writing of 7 articles subscribed with your names, have given them that good degree of satisfaction, which hath carried them on with a resolution to set forward your desire in the best sort that may be for your own and the public good. Divers particulars whereof we leave to their faithful report, having carried themselves here with that good discretion, as is both to their own and their credit from whence they came. And whereas being to treat for a multitude of people, they have requested further time to confer with them that are to be interested in this action, about the several particularities which in the prosecution thereof will fall out considerable, it hath been very willingly assented to. And so they do now return unto you. If therefore it may please God so to direct your desires as that on your parts there fall out no just impediments, I trust by the same direction, it shall likewise appear that, on our part, all forwardness to set you forward shall be found in the best sort which with reason may be expected. And so I betake you with this design (which I hope verily is the work of God), to the gracious protection and blessing of the Highest.


Your very loving friend,

Edwin Sandys

London, November 12.

Ano: 1617.

Their answer was as followeth.

Right Worshipful:

Our humble duties remembered, in our own, our messengers, and our church's name, with all thankful acknowledgement of your singular love, expressing itself as otherwise, so more specially in your great care and earnest endeavor of our good in this weighty business about Virginia, which the less able we are to requite; we shall think ourselves the more bound to commend in our prayers unto God for recompense, whom, as for the present you rightly behold in our endeavors, so shall we not be wanting on our parts (the same God assisting us) to return all answerable fruit, and respect unto the labor of your love bestowed upon us. We have, with the best speed and consideration with all that we could set down our requests in writing, subscribed (as you willed) with the hands of the greatest part of our congregation, and have sent the same unto the Council by our agent and a deacon of our church, John Carver, unto whom we have also requested a gentleman of our company to adjoin himself, to the care and discretion of which two we do refer the prosecuting of the business. Now we persuade ourselves Right Worshipful that we need not provoke your godly and loving mind to any further or more tender care of us, since you have pleased so far to interest us in yourself; that under God, above all persons and things in the world, we rely upon you, expecting the care of your love, counsel of your wisdom, and the help and countenance of your authority. Notwithstanding, for your encouragement in the work, so far as probabilities may lead, we will not forbear to mention these instances of inducement.

1. We verily believe and trust the Lord is with us, unto whom and whose service we have given ourselves in many trials, and that he will graciously prosper our endeavors according to the simplicity of our hearts therein.

2. We are well weaned from the delicate milk of our mother country and inured to the difficulties of a strange and hard land, which yet in a great part we have by patience overcome.

3. The people are, for the body of them, industrious and frugal (we think we may safely say) as any company of people in the world.

4. We are knit together, as a body, in a most strict and sacred bond and covenant of the Lord, of the violation whereof we make great conscience, and by virtue whereof we do hold ourselves straitly tied to all care of each other's good, and of the whole by everyone and so mutually.

5. Lastly, it is not with us as with other men, whom small things can discourage or small discontentments cause to wish themselves at home again. We know our entertainment in England and in Holland; we shall much prejudice both our arts and means by removal, who, if we should be driven to return, we should not hope to recover our present helps and comforts, neither indeed look ever for ourselves to attain unto the like in any other place during our lives, which are now drawing towards their periods.

These motives we have been bold to tender unto you, which you in your wisdom may also impart to any other our worshipful friends of the Council with you; of all whose godly disposition and loving towards our despised persons, we are most glad, and shall not fail by all good means to continue and increase the same. We will not be further troublesome, but do, with the renewed remembrance of our humble duties to your Worship and (so far as in modesty we may be bold) to any other of our well-willers of the Council with you; we take our leaves, committing your persons and counsels to the guidance and direction of the Almightly.

Yours much bounden in all duty,

John Robinson

William Brewster

Leyden, December 15. Ano: 1617

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