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Of Plymouth Plantation

Of the troubles that befell them on the coast, and at sea, being forced, after much trouble to leave one of their ships and some of their company behind them.

Being thus put to sea, they had not gone far but Mr. Reynolds, the master of the lesser ship, complained that he found his ship so leaky as he durst not put further to sea till she was mended. So the master of the bigger ship (called Mr. Jones,) being consulted with, they both resolved to put into Dartmouth and have her there searched and mended, which accordingly was done, to their great charge and loss of time and a fair wind. She was here thoroughly searched from stem to stern, some leaks were found and mended, and now it was conceived by the workmen and all that she was sufficient, and they might proceed without either fear or danger.


So with good hopes from hence, they put to sea again, conceiving they should go comfortably on, not looking for any more lets of this kind; but it fell out otherwise, for after they were gone to sea again above 100 leagues without the Lands End, holding company together all this while, the master of the small ship complained his ship was so leaky as he must bear up or sink at sea, for they could scarce free her with much pumping. So they came to consultation again, and resolved both ships to bear up back again and put into Plymouth, which accordingly was done. But no special leak could be found, but it was judged to be the general weakness of the ship and that she would not prove sufficient for the voyage. Upon which it was resolved to dismiss her 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 took out such provision as the other ship could well stow, and concluded both what number and what persons to send back, they made another sad parting, the one ship going back for London, and the other was to proceed on her voyage. Those that went back were for the most part such as were willing so to do, either out of some discontent, or fear they conceived of the ill success of the voyage, seeing so many crosses befall, and the year time so far spent; but others, in regard of their own 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 judgement of their brethren, they were contented to submit. And this, 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 afterward it was found that the leakiness of this ship was partly by being overcasted, and too much pressed with sails; for after she was sold 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 cunning and deceit of the master and his company, who were hired to stay a whole year in the country, and now fancying dislike and fearing want of victuals, they plotted this strategem to free themselves; as afterwards was known, and by some of them confessed. For they apprehended that the greater ship, being of force, and in whom most of the provisions were stowed, she would retain enough for herself, whatsoever became of them or the passengers; and indeed such speeches had been cast out by some of them; and yet, besides other encouragement, the chief of them that came from Leyden went in this ship to give the master content. But so strong was self love and his fears, as he forgot all duty and former kindnesses, and dealt thus falsely with them, though he pretended otherwise.


Amongst those that returned was Mr. Cushman and his family, whose heart and courage was gone from them before, as it seems, though his body was with them till now he departed; as may appear by a passionate letter he wrote to a friend in London from Dartmouth, whilst the ship lay there a mending; the which, besides the expressions of his own fears, it shows much of the providence of God working for their good beyond man's expectation, and other things concerning their condition enthuse streets. I will here relate it. And though it discover some infirmities in him (as who under temptation is free), yet after this he continued to be a special instrument for their good, and to do the offices of a loving friend and faithful brother unto them, and partaker of much comfort with them.

The letter is as followeth.

To his loving friend Ed: Southworth at Henige House in the Dukes Place, these, &c.

Dartmouth, Aug. 17 [1620.]

Loving Friend, My most kind remembrance to you and your wife, with loving E. M. etc. whom in this world I never look to see again. For besides the eminent 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 till 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 14 days, as that although I do the actions of a living man, yet I am but as dead; but the will of God be done.


Our pinnace will not cease leaking, else I think, we had been halfway at Virginia, our voyage hither hath been as full of crosses, as ourselves have been of crookedness. We put in here to trim her, and I think, as others also, if we had stayed at sea but 3 or 4 hours more, she would have sunk right down. And though she was twice trimmed at Hampton, yet now she is as open and leaky as a sieve; and there was a board, a man might have pulled off with his fingers, 2 foot long, where the water came in as at a mole hole.


We lay at Hampton 7 days, in fair weather, waiting for her, and now we lie here waiting for her in as fair a wind as can blow, and so have done these 4 days, and are like to lie 4 more, and by that time the wind will happily turn as it did at Hampton. Our victuals when we come in the country. Near £700  have been bestowed at Hampton, upon what I know not.


Mr. Martin saith he neither can nor will give any account of it, and if he be called upon for accounts he crieth out of unthankfulness for his pains and care, that we are suspicious of him, and flings away, and will end nothing. Also he so insulted over our poor people, with such scorn and contempt, as if they were not good enough to wipe his shoes. It would break your heart to see his dealing, and the mourning of our people. They complain to me, and alas! I can do nothing for them; if I speak to him, he flies in my face, as mutinous, and saith no complaints shall be heard or received but by himself, and saith they are forward, and waspish, discontented people, and I do ill to hear them.


There are others that would lose all they have put in, or make satisfaction for what they have had, that they might depart; but he will not hear them, nor suffer them to go ashore, least they should run away. The sailors also are so offended at his ignorant boldness, in meddling and controlling in things he knows not what belongs to, as that some threaten to mischief him, others say they will leave the ship and go their way. But at the best this cometh of it, that he makes himself a scorn and laughing stock unto them.


As for Mr. Weston, except grace do greatly sway with him, he will hate us ten times more than ever he loved us, for not confirming the conditions. But now, since some pinches have taken them, they begin to revile the truth, and say Mr. Robinson was in the fault who charged them never to consent to those conditions, nor choose me into office, but indeed appointed them to choose them they did chose. But he and they will rue too late, they may now see, and all be ashamed when it is too late, that they were so ignorant, yea, and so inordinate in their courses. I am sure as they were resolved not to seal those conditions, I was not so resolute at Hampton to have left the whole business, except they would seal them, and better the voyage to have been broken off then, than to have brought such misery to ourselves, dishonor to God, and detriment to our loving friends, as now it is like to do. 4 or 5 of the chief of them which came from Leyden, came resolved never to go on those conditions.


And Mr. Martin, he said he never received no money on those conditions, he was not beholden to the merchants for a penny, they were bloodsuckers, and I know not what. Simple man, he indeed never made any conditions with the merchants, nor ever spake with them. But did all that money fly to Hampton, or was it his own? Who will go and lay out money so rashly and lavishly as he did, and never know how he comes by it, or on what conditions?


2ly. I told him of the alteration long ago, and he was content; but now he domineers, and said I had betrayed them into the hands of slaves; he is not beholden to them, he can set out 2 ships himself to a voyage. When, good man? He hath but £50 in, and if he should give up his accounts he would not have a penny left him, as I am persuaded, etc.


Friend, if ever we make a plantation, God works a miracle; especially considering how scant we shall be of victuals, and most of ll uninvited amongst ourselves, and devoid of good tutors and regiment. Violence will break all. Where is the meek and humble spirit of Moses? and of Nehemiah who readied the walls of Jerusalem, and the state of Israel? Is not the sound of Rehoboam's brags daily here amongst us? Have not the philosophers and all wise men observed that, even in settled commonwealths, violent governors bring either themselves, or people, or both, to ruin; how much more in the raising of commonwealths, when the mortar is yet scarce tempered that should bind the walls.


If I should write to you of all things which promiscuously forerun our ruin, I should overcharge my weak head and grieve your tender heart; only this, I pray you prepare for evil tidings of us everyday. But pray for us instantly, it may be the Lord will be yet entreated one way or other to make for us. I see not in reason how we shall escape even the gasping of hunger starved persons; but God can do much, and his will be done. It is better for me to die, than now for me to bear it, which I do daily, and expect it hourly; having received the sentence of death, both within me and without me. Poor William Ring and myself do strive who shall be meat first for the fishes; but we look for a glorious resurrection, knowing Christ Jesus after the flesh no more, but looking unto the joy that is before us, we will endure all these things and account them light in comparison of that joy we hope for.


Remember me in all love to our friends as if I named them, whose prayers I desire earnestly, and wish again to see, but not til I can with more comfort look them in the face. The Lord give us that true comfort which none can take from us. I had a desire to make a brief relation of our estate to some friend. I doubt not but your wisdom will teach you seasonable to utter things as hereafter you shall be called to it. That which I have written is true, and many things more which I have forborne. I write it as upon my life, and last confession in England. What is of use to be spoken of presently, you may speak of it, and what is fit to conceal, conceal. Pass by my weak manner, for my head is weak, and my body feeble, the Lord make me strong in him, and keep both you and yours.

Your loving friend,

Robert Cushman.

Dartmouth, August 17. 1620.

These being his conceptions and fears at Dartmouth, they must needs be much stronger now at Plymouth.

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