Chapter 7 of “Of Plymouth Plantation” by William Bradford, all with modern spelling.
This is following AO’s Year 8 schedule for Week 20.
The 7. Chap
Of their departure from Leyden, and other things there about, with their arrival at Southampton, were they all met together, and took in there provisions.
At length, after much travel and these debates, all things were got ready and provided. A small ship was bought, & 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 & 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 powering 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 of called Delfes-Haven, where the ship lay ready to receive them. So they left that goodly & pleasant city, which had been their resting place near 12. years; but they knew they were pilgrims, & 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 & 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, were 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, & pithy speeches persist each heart; that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the key as spectators, could not refrain from tears. Yet comfortable & sweet it was to see such lively and true expressions of clear & 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 an other; which proved to be the last leave to many of them.
Thus hoisting sail, with a prosperous wind they came in short time to Southampton, 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 parley 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 too, partly by the grounds of equity, and more especially by necessity, other wise all had been dashed and many undone. And in the beginning he acquainted his fellow agents here with, 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, & some of the merchants, that they were their 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 100li. 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 of some of their provisions to stop this gape, 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 write a letter to the merchants & adventures about the differences concerning the conditions, as follows.
Aug. 3. Ano: 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 & 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. & 9. article, concerning the dividing or holding of house and lands; the enjoying whereof some of your selves 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 sids, and a day set for the payment of moneys, those of Holland paid in theirs. After that, Robert Cushman, Mr. Pierce, & Mr. Martine, brought them into a better form, & write them in a book now extant; and upon Robert’s showing them and delivering Mr. Mullins a copy thereof under his hand (which we have), he paid in his money. And we of Holland had never seen other before our coming to Hampton, but only as one got for him self a private copy of them; upon sight whereof we manifested utter dislike, but had put off our estates & 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, & not upon us, who have more cause to stand for the one, then you have for the other. We never gave Robert Cushman commission to make any one article for us, but only sent him to receive moneys upon articles before agreed on, and to further the provisions till John Carver came, and to assist him in it. Yet since you conceive your selves 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 it self, which you conceive to be in it. But that it may appear to all men that we are not lovers of our selves only, but desire also the good & enriching of our friends who have adventured your moneys 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, &c. We are in such a strait at present, as we are forced to sell away 60li. worth of our provisions to clear the Haven, & withal put our selves 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, &c. And yet we are willing to expose our selves to such imminent dangers as are like to ensue, & trust to the good providence of God, rather than his name & 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 hearts in the bonds of peace & love, we take leave & rest,
Aug. 3. 1620.
It was subscribed with many names of the chiefest of the company.
At their parting Mr. Robinson write 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 writ at the same time to Mr. Carver, in which the tender love & godly care of a true pastor appears.
My dear Brother,—I received inclosed in your last letter the note of information, which I shall carefully keep & make use of as there shall be occasion. I have a true feeling of your perplexity of mind & 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 your self 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 & help of so many godly & 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, what so ever they think in others. Now what shall I say or write unto you & your goodwife my loving sister? even only this, I desire (& always shall) unto you from the Lord, as unto my own soul; and assure your self that my heart is with you, and that I will not forslow my bodily coming at the first opportunity. I have written a large letter to the whole, and am sorry I shall not rather speak then write to them; & 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, & the same more ample & full words. And the Lord in whom you trust & whom you serve ever in this business & journey, guide you with his hand, protect you with his wing, and show you & us his salvation in the end, & bring us in the mean while together in the place desired, if such be his good will, for his Christ’s sake.
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 & in the Lord salute you all, as being they with whom I am present in my best affection, and most earnest longings after you, though I be constrained for a while to be bodily absent from you. I say constrained, God knowing how willingly, & much rather then 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 mean while, as of a man divided in my self with great pain, and as (natural bonds set a side) having my better part with you. And though I doubt not but in your godly wisdom, you both foresee & resolve upon that which concerneth your present state & condition, both severally & jointly, yet have I thought it but my duty to add some further spur of provocation unto them, who rune already, if not because you need it, yet because I owe it in love & 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 & danger as lieth upon you, to a both more narrow search & careful reformation of your ways in his sight; least he, calling to remembrance our sines forgotten by us or unrepented of, take advantage against us, & in judgment leave us for the same to be swallowed up in one danger or other; whereas, on the contrary, since being taken away by earnest repentance & 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 & our own consciences, we are careful to provide for peace with all men what in us lieth, especially with our associates, & for the watchfulness must be had, that we neither at all in our selves 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 & man’s corruption) that offenses come, yet woe unto the man or woman either by whom the offense cometh, saith Christ, Mat. 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 teacheth, 1. Cor. 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 our selves 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 imperfect & lame is the work of grace in that person, who wants charity to cover a multitude of offenses, as the scriptures speak. 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, of wisdom duly to weigh human frailty; or lastly, are gross, though close hypocrites, as Christ our Lord teacheth, Mat. 7:1, 2, 3, as indeed in my own experience, few or none have been found which sooner give offense, then such as easily take it; neither have they ever proved sound & profitable members in societies, which have nourished this touchy humor. But besides these, there are diverse motives provoking you above others to great care & conscience this way: As first, you are many of you strangers, as to the persons, so to the infirmities one of another, & so stand in need of more watchfulness this way, least when such things fall out in men & women as you suspected not, you be inordinately affected with them; which doth require at your hands much wisdom & charity for the covering & preventing of incident offenses that way. And lastly, your intended course of civil community will minister continual occasion of offense, & will be as fuel for that fire, except you diligently quench it with brotherly forbearance. And if taking of offense ceaselessly 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 him self, which yet we certainly do so oft 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 him self in his holy & 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 & special comfort all retiredness of mind for proper advantage, and all singularly affected any manner of way; let every man repress in him self & the whole body in each person, as so many rebels against the common good, all private respects of mens selves, not sorting with the general convenience. And as men are careful not to have a new house shaken with any violence before it be well settled & 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 your selves civil government, 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 & 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 & 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 gay coat, then either the virtuous mind of the man, or glorious ordinance of the Lord. But you know better things, & that the image of the Lord’s power & 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 diverse among you so well able to admonish both themselves & others of what concerneth them. These few things therefore, & the same in few words, I do earnestly commend unto your care & conscience, joining therewith my daily incessant prayers unto the Lord, that he who hath made the heavens & 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 & guard you in your ways, as inwardly by his Spirit, so outwardly by the hand of his power, as that both you & we also, for & 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 wellwiller of your happiness
success in this hopeful voyage,
This letter, though large, yet being so fruitful in it self, and suitable to their occasion, I thought mete to insert in this place.
All things being now ready, & 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 & distributed their company for either ship, as they conceived for the best. And chose a Governor & 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 5th of August; but what befell them further upon the coast of England will appear in the next chapter.