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Of Plymouth Plantation

CHAPTER 7
 
Of their departure from Leyden, and other things thereabout with their arrival at Southhampton, where they all met together and took in their provisions.

At length, after much travail and these debates, all things were got ready and provided. A small ship was bought and fitted in Holland, which was intended as to serve to help to transport them, so to stay in the country and attend upon fishing and such other affairs as might be for the good and benefit of the colony when they came there. Another was hired at London, of burden about 9 score, and all other things got in readiness.

 

So being ready to depart, they had a day of solemn humiliation, their pastor taking his text from Ezra 8:21: And there at the river, by Ahava, I proclaimed a fast, that we might humble ourselves before our God, and seek of him a right way for us, and for our children, and for all our substance. Upon which he spent a good part of the day very profitably and suitable to their present occasion. The rest of the time was spent in pouring out prayers to the Lord with great fervency, mixed with abundance of tears.

 

And the time being come that they must depart, they were accompanied with most of their brethren out of the city, unto a town sundry miles off called Delfshaven, where the ship lay ready to receive them. So they left the goodly and pleasant city, which had been their resting place near 12 years; but they knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on those things, but lift up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits.

 

When they came to the place, they found the ship and all things ready; and such of their friends as could not come with them followed after them, and sundry also came from Amsterdam to see them shipped and to take their leave of them. That night was spent with little sleep by the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse and other real expressions of true Christian love.

 

The next day, the wind being fair, they went aboard, and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting; to see what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them, what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each heart, that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the key as spectators could not refrain from tears. Yet comfortable 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 depart, their reverend pastor falling down on his knees (and they all with him) with watery cheeks, commended them with most fervent prayers to the Lord and his blessing. And then, with mutual embraces and many tears, they took their leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them. Thus hoisting sail with a prosperous wind, they came in short time to Southhampton, where they found the bigger ship come from London, lying ready with all the rest of their company.

 

After a joyful welcome and mutual congratulations, with other friendly entertainments, they fell to parlay about their business, how to dispatch with the best expedition, as also with their agents about the alteration of the conditions. Mr. Carver pleaded he was employed here at Hampton and knew not well what the other had done at London. Mr. Cushman answered he had done nothing but what he was urged to, partly by the grounds of equity, and more especially by necessity; otherwise all had been dashed and many undone.

 

And in the beginning, he acquainted his fellow agents herewith who consented unto him, and left it to him to execute and to receive the money at London and send it down to them at Hampton, where they made the provisions. The which he accordingly did, though it was against his mind and some of the merchants, that they were there made. And for giving them notice at Leyden of this change, he could not well in regard of the shortness of the time. Again, he knew it would trouble them and hinder the business, which was already delayed overlong in regard of the season of the year, which he feared they would find to their cost. But these things gave not content at present.

 

Mr. Weston, likewise, came up from London to see them dispatched and to have the conditions confirmed; but they refused and answered him that he knew right well that these were not according to the first agreement; neither could they yield to them without the consent of the rest that were behind. And indeed, they had special charge when they came away, from the chief of those that were behind, not to do it. At which he was much offended and told them they must then look to stand on their own legs. So he returned in displeasure, and this was the first ground of discontent between them. And whereas there wanted well near £100 to clear things at their going away, he would not take order to disburse a penny, but let them shift as they could.

 

So they were forced to sell off some of their provisions to stop this gap, which was some 3 or 4 score firkins of butter, which commodity they might best spare, having provided too large a quantity of that kind. Then they wrote a letter to the merchants and adventurers about the differences concerning the conditions, as followeth.

Aug. 3. Anno: 1620.

Beloved Friends, Sorry we are that there should be occasion of writing at all unto you, partly because we ever expected to see the most of you here, but especially because there should any difference at all be conceived between us. But seeing it falleth out that we cannot confer together, we think it meet (though briefly) to show you the just cause and reason of our differing from those articles last made by Robert Cushman without our commission or knowledge; and though he might propound good ends to himself, yet it no way justifies his doing it.

 

Our main difference is in the 5 and 9 article, concerning the dividing or holding of house and lands. The enjoying, whereof some of yourselves well know, was one special motive, amongst many other, to provoke us to go. This was thought so reasonable, that when the greatest of you in adventure (whom we have much cause to respect), when he propounded conditions to us freely of his own accord, he set this down for one. A copy whereof we have sent unto you, with some additions then added by us, which being liked on both sides and a day set for the payment of monies, those of Holland paid in theirs.

 

After that, Robert Cushman, Mr. Peirce, and Mr. Martin brought them into a better form and wrote them in a book now extant; and upon Robert's showing them and delivering Mr. Mullins a copy thereof under his hand (which we had), he paid in his money. And we of Holland had never seen other before our coming to Hampton, but only as one got for himself a private copy of them. Upon sight, whereof, we manifested utter dislike, but had put off our estates and were ready to come, and therefore was too late to reject the voyage.

 

Judge therefore, we beseech you indifferently of things, and if a fault have been committed, lay it where it is and not upon us, who have more cause to stand for the one, than you have for the other. We never gave Robert Cushman commission to make any one article for us, but only sent him to receive monies upon articles before agreed on, and to further the provisions till John Carver came and to assist him in it. Yet since you conceive yourselves wronged, as well as we, we thought meet to add a branch to the end of our 9 article, as will almost heal that wound of itself, which you conceive to be in it.

 

But that it may appear to all men that we are not lovers of ourselves only, but desire also the good and enriching of our friends who have adventured your monies with our persons, we have added our last article to the rest, promising you again by letters in the behalf of the whole company, that if large profits should not arise within the 7 years, that we will continue together longer with you, if the Lord give a blessing. This, we hope, is sufficient to satisfy any in this case, especially friends, since we are assured that if the whole charge was divided into 4 parts, 3 of them will not stand upon it, neither do regard it, etc.

 

We are in such a strait at present, as we are forced to sell away £60 worth of our provisions to clear the haven and withal to put ourselves upon great extremities, scarce having any butter, no oil, not a sole to mend a shoe, nor every man a sword to his side, wanting many muskets, much armor, etc. And yet we are willing to expose ourselves to such eminent dangers as are like to ensue and trust to the good providence of God, rather than his name and truth should be evil spoken of for us. Thus saluting all of you in love, and beseeching the Lord to give a blessing to our endeavor and keep all our heats in the bonds of peace and love, we take leave and rest.

 

Yours, etc.

August 3. 1620

It was subscribed with many names of the chiefest of the company.

At their parting, Mr. Robinson wrote a letter to the whole company, which though it hath already been printed, yet I thought good here likewise to insert it; as also a brief letter written at the same time to Mr. Carver, in which the tender love and godly care of a true pastor appears.

My Dear Brother, I received enclosed in your last letter the note of information which I shall carefully keep and make use of, as there shall be occasion. I have a true feeling of your perplexity of mind and toil of body, but I hope that you who have always been able so plentifully to administer comfort unto others in their trials, are so well furnished for yourself as that far greater difficulties than you have yet undergone (though I conceive them to have been great enough) cannot oppress you, though they press you, as the Apostle speaks. The spirit of a man (sustained by the spirit of God) will sustain his infirmity; I doubt not so will yours. And the better much when you shall enjoy the presence and help of so many godly and wise brethren, for the bearing of part of your burden, who also will not admit into their hearts the least thought of suspicion of any the least negligence, at least presumption, to have been in you, whatsoever they think in others.

 

Now what shall I say or write unto you and your good wife, my loving sister? Even only this, I desire (and always shall) unto you from the Lord as unto my own soul. And assure yourself that my heart is with you, and that I will not foreslow my bodily coming at the first opportunity. I have written a large letter to the whole, and am sorry I shall not rather speak than write to them; and the more, considering the want of a preacher, which I shall also make some spur to my hastening after you. I do ever commend my best affection unto you, which if I thought you made any doubt of, I would express in more, and the same more, ample and full words. And the Lord, in whom you trust and whom you serve ever in this business and journey, guide you with his hand, protect you with his wings, and show you and us his salvation in the end, and bring us in the meanwhile together in the place desired, if such be his good will, for his Christ's sake. Amen.

 

Yours, etc.

John Robinson

July 27, 1620

This was the last letter that Mr. Carver lived to see from him. The other follows.

Loving Christian Friends, I do heartily and in the Lord salute you all, as being they with whom I am present in my best affection and most earnest longing after you, though I be constrained for awhile to be bodily absent from you. I say constrained, God knowing how willingly, and much rather than otherwise, I would have borne my part with you in this first brunt, were I not by strong necessity held back for the present. Make account of me, in the meanwhile, as of a man divided in myself with great pain and as (natural bonds set aside) having my better part with you. And though I doubt not but in your godly wisdoms, you both foresee and revolve upon that which concerneth your present state and condition, both severally and jointly, yet have I thought it but my day to add some further spur of provocation unto them who run already, if not because you need it, yet because I owe it in love and duty. And first, as we are daily to renew our repentance with our God, especially for our sins known and generally for our unknown trespasses, so doth the Lord call us in a singular manner upon occasions of such difficulty and danger, as lieth upon you, to both more narrow search and careful reformation of your ways in his sight; least he, calling to remembrance our sins forgotten by us or unreported of, take advantage against us and, in judgment, leave us for the same to be swallowed up in one danger or other; whereas, on the contrary, sin being taken away by earnest repentance and the pardon thereof from the Lord sealed up unto a man's conscience by his spirit, great shall be his security and peace in all dangers, sweet his comforts in all distresses, with happy deliverance from all evil, whether in life or in death.

Now next after this heavenly peace with God and our own consciences, we are carefully to provide for peace with all men what in us lieth, especially with our associates, and for that watchfulness must be had, that we neither at all in ourselves do give, no nor easily take offense being given by others. Woe be unto the world for offenses, for though it be necessary (considering the malice of Satan and man's corruption) that offenses come, yet woe unto the man or woman either by whom the offense cometh, saith Christ, Matthew 18:7. And if offenses in the unseasonable use of things, in themselves indifferent, be more to be feared than death itself, as the Apostle teaches, I. Corinthians 9:15, how much more in things simply evil, in which neither honor of God nor love of man is thought worthy to be regarded. Neither yet is it sufficient that we keep ourselves by the grace of God from giving offense, except withal we be armed against the taking of them when they be given by others. For how unperfect and lame is the work of grace in that person who wants charity to cover a multitude of offenses, as the scriptures speaks. Neither are you to be exhorted to this grace only upon the common grounds of Christianity, which are that persons ready to take offense either want charity to cover offenses, or wisdom duly to weigh human frailty, or lastly, are gross, though close hypocrites, as Christ our Lord teaches, Matthew 7: 1-3, as indeed in my own experience, few or none have been found which sooner give offense than such as easily take it; neither have they ever proved sound and profitable members in societies, which have nourished this touchy humor. But besides these, there are diverse motives provoking you above others to great care and conscience this way: As first, you are many of you strangers, as to the persons, so to the infirmities one of another, and so stand in need of more watchfulness this way, least when such things fall out in men and women as you suspected not, you be inordinately affected with them; which doth require at your hands much wisdom and charity for the covering and preventing of incident offenses that way. And lastly, your intended course of civil community will minister continual occasion of offense and will be as fuel for that fire, except you diligently quench it with brotherly forbearance. And if taking of offense causelessly or easily at men's doings be so carefully to be avoided, how much more heed is to be taken that we take not offense at God himself, which yet we certainly do so of as we do murmur at his providence in our crosses, or bear impatiently such afflictions as wherewith he pleaseth to visit us. Store up, therefore, patience against the evil day, without which we take offense at the Lord himself in his holy and just works.

A 4 thing there is carefully to be provided for, to wit, that with your common employments, you join common affections truly bent upon the general good, avoiding as a deadly plague of your both common and special comfort, all retiredness of mind for proper advantage, and all singularly affected any manner of way; let every man repress in himself and the whole body in each person, as so many rebels against the common good, all private respects of men's selves, not sorting with the general conveniency. And as men are careful not to have a new house shaken with any violence before it be well settled and the parts firmly knit, so be you, I beseech you, brethren, much more careful, that the house of God which you are, and are to be, be not shaken with unnecessary novelties or other oppositions at the first settling thereof.

Lastly, whereas you are become a body politic, using amongst yourselves civil governments, and are not furnished with any persons of special eminency above the rest to be chosen by you into office of government, let your wisdom and godliness appear not only in choosing such persons as do entirely love and will promote the common good, but also in yielding unto them all due honor and obedience in their lawful administrations; not beholding in them the ordinariness of their persons, but God's ordinance for your good, not being like the foolish multitude who more honor the gray coat than either the virtuous mind of the man or glorious ordinance of the Lord. But you know better things and that the image of the Lord's power and authority which the magistrate beareth, is honorable, in how mean persons soever. And this duty you both may the more willingly and ought the more conscionably to perform, because you are at least for the present to have only them for your ordinary governors, which yourselves shall make choice of for that work.

Sundry other things of importance I could put you in mind of, and of those before mentioned in more words, but I will not so far wrong your godly minds as to think you heedless of these things, there being also divers among you so well able to admonish both themselves and others of what concerneth them. These few things, therefore, and the same in few words, I do earnestly commend unto your care and conscience, joining therewith my daily incessant prayers unto the Lord, that he who hath made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all rivers of waters, and whose providence is over all his works, especially over all his dear children for good, would so guide and guard you in your ways, as inwardly by his spirit, so outwardly by the hand of his power, as that both you and we also, for and with you, may have after matter of praising his name all the days of your and our lives. Fare you well in him in whom you trust, and in whom I rest.

 

An unfeigned well-willer of your happy success in this hopeful voyage,

John Robinson

This letter, though large, yet being so fruitful in itself and suitable to their occasion, I thought meet to insert in this place.

All things being now ready and every business dispatched, the company was called together and this letter read amongst them, which had good acceptation with all, and after fruit with many. Then they ordered and distributed their company for either ship, as they conceived for the best, and chose a governor and 2 or 3 assistants for each ship to order the people by the way and see to the disposing of their provisions and such like affairs. All which was not only with the liking of the masters of the ships, but according to their desires. Which being done, they set sail from thence about the 5 of August; but what befell them further upon the coast of England will appear in the next chapter.

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