Abbildungen der Seite

remote parts of the New World ; yea, though they should be but as stepping-stones unto others for performing so great a work."

After some years, trusting in God and in themselves, they made ready for their departure. The ships which chey had provided—the Speedwell, of sixty tons, the Mayflower, of one hundred and eighty tons—could hold but a minority of the congregation; and Robinson was therefore detained at Leyden, while Brewster, the governing elder, who was also an able teacher, conducted “such of the youngest and strongest as freely offered themselves.” Every enterprise of the pilgrims began from God. A solemn fast was held. “ Let us seek of God," said they, “a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance." Anticipating their high destiny, and the sublime lessons of liberty that would grow out of their religious tenets, Robinson gave them a farewell, breathing a freedom of opinion and an independence of authority such as then were hardly known in the world.

"I charge you, before God and his blessed angels, that you follow me no further than you have seen me follow the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord has more truth yet to break forth out of his holy word. I cannot sufficiently bewail the condition of the reformed churches, who are come to a period in religion, and will go at present no further than. the instruments of their reformation. Luther and Calvin were great and shining lights in their times, yet they penetrated not into the whole counsel of God. I beseech you, remember it,-'tis an article of your church covenant,that you be ready to receive whatever truth shall be made known to you from the written word of God.”

“When the ship was ready to carry us away," writes Edward Winslow, “the brethren that stayed at Leyden, having again solemnly sought the Lord with us and for us, feasted us that were to go, at our pastor's house, being large; where we refreshed ourselves, after tears, with singing of psalms, making joyful melody in our hearts, as well as with the voice, there being many of the congregation very expert in music; and indeed it was the sweetest melody that ever mine ears heard. After this they accompanied us to Delft-Haven, where we went to embark, and then feasted us again ; and, after prayer performed by our pastor, when a flood of tears was poured out, they accom panied us to the ship, but were not able to speak one to another for the abundance of sorrow to part. But we only, going abroad, gave them a volley of small shot and three pieces of ordnance; and so, lifting up our hands to each other, and our hearts for each other to the Lord our God, we departed.”

A prosperous wind soon wafts the vessel to Southampton; and in a fortnight the Mayflower and the Speedwell, freighted with the first colony of New England, leave Southampton for America. But they had not gone far upon the Atlantic before the smaller vessel was found to need repairs, and they entered the port of Dartmouth. After the lapse of eight precious days, they again weigh anchor; the coast of England recedes ; already they are unfurling their sails on the broad ocean, when the captain of the Speedwell, with his company, dismayed at the dangers of the enterprise, once more pretends that his ship is too weak for the service. They put back to Plymouth, “and agree to dismiss her, and those who are willing return to London, though this was very grievous and discouraging.” Having thus winnowed their numbers, the little band, not of resolute men only, but wives, some far gone in pregnancy, children, infants, a floating village of one hundred and two souls, went on board the single ship, which was hired only to convey them across the Atlantic; and on the sixth day of September, 1620, thirteen years after the first colonization of Virginia, two months before the concession of the grand charter of Plymouth, without any warrant from the sovereign of England, without any useful charter from a corporate body, the passengers in the Mayflower set sail for a new world, where the past could offer no favourable auguries.

Had New England been colonized immediately on the discovery of the American continent, the old English institutions would have been planted with the Roman Catholic hierarchy; had the settlement been made under Elizabeth, it would have been before activity of the popular mind in religion had conducted to a corresponding activity of mind in politics. The pilgrims were Englishmen, Protestants, exiles from conscience, men disciplined by misfortune, culti vated by opportunities of extensive observation, equal in rank as in rights, and bound by no code but that of religion or the public will.

The eastern coast of the United States abounds in beautiful and convenient harbours, in majestic bays and rivers. The first Virginia colony, sailing along the shores of North Carolina, was, by a favouring storm, driven into the magnificent Bay of the Chesapeake; the pilgrims, having selected for their settlement the country near the Hudson, the best position on the whole coast, were conducted to the most barren parts of Massachusetts. After a boisterous voyage of sixty-three days, during which one person had died, they espied land; and in two days more cast anchor in the harbour of Cape Cod.




[The settlers were hardly landed on the shores of America

when the warrior and statesman who had first planned the English colonization of the New World passed away. Raleigh had been honoured and trusted by Elizabeth, but he was feared by James, accused of treason, and imprisoned for long years in the Tower. At last he was suffered to sail to discover new lands on the Oronoco; but he found the Spaniards there, was forced to fight, and defeated. On his return the Spanish King made complaint of his attack, and James suffered him to be put to death on the old charge of treason.]

It was in vain that Raleigh begged for a few days to complete some writings which he had on hand; he was told that he must prepare for execution on the following morning. As he was to suffer in Palace Yard, he was taken to the Gatehouse at Westminster to pass the night. With the certainty of death he had regained the composure to which he had long been a stranger. In the evening, Lady Raleigh came to take her farewell of her husband. Thinking that he might like to know that the last rites would be paid to his remains, she told him that she had obtained permission to dispose of his body. He smiled, and answered, “It is well, Bess, that thou mayest dispose of that dead which thou hadst not always the disposing of when it was alive.” At midnight she left him, and he lay down to sleep for three or four hours. When he awoke he had a long conference with Dr. Townson, the Dean of Westminster, who was surprised at the fearlessness which he exhibited at the prospect of death, and begged him to consider whether it did not proceed from carelessness or vain glory. Raleigh, now as ever unconscious of his real faults, did his best to disabuse him of this idea, and told him that he was sure that no man who knew and feared God could die with fearlessness and courage, except he was certain of God's love and favour to him. Reassured by these words, Townson proceeded to administer the Communion to him ; after he had received it, he appeared cheerful, and even merry. He spoke of his expectation that he would be able to persuade the world of his innocence. The good Dean was troubled with talk of this kind, and begged him not to speak against the justice of the realm. Raleigh acknowledged that he had been condemned according to the law, but said that, for all that, he must perish in asserting his innocence.

As the hour for his execution approached, Raleigh took his breakfast, and smoked his tobacco as usual. His.spirits were excited by the prospect of the scene which was before him. Being asked how he liked the wine which was brought to him, he said that "it was good drink, if a man might tarry by it.” At eight the officers came to fetch him away. As he passed out to the scaffold he noticed that one of his friends, who had come to be near him at the last, was unable to push through the throng. “I know not,” he said, “what shift you will make, but I am sure to have a place.” A minute after, catching sight of an old man with a bald head he asked him whether he wanted anything. “ Nothing," he replied, “but to see you, and to pray God to have mercy on your soul.” “I thank thee, good friend,” answered Raleigh, “I am sorry I have no better thing to return thee for thy good will; but take this nightcap, for thou hast more need of it now than I."


« ZurückWeiter »