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seal King James could never be brought to bestow, and the most that could be extorted from him, by the most persevering importunity, was a promise that he would connive at them, and not molest them, provided they should carry themselves peaceably.
Notwithstanding this discouragement, however, they resolved to venture. And after another year of weary negotiation with the merchants who were to provide them with a passage, the day for their departure arrives. It had been agreed that a part of the church should go before their brethren to America to prepare for the rest, and as the major part was to stay behind, it was also determined that their pastor, the beloved Robinson, should stay with them. Not only were the Pilgrims thus about to leave “ that goodly and pleasant city which had been their resting place above eleven years," but to leave behind them also the greatest part of those with whom they had been so long and lovingly associated in a strange land, and this -- to encounter all the real and all the imaginary terrors which belonged to that infancy of ocean navigation, to cross a sea of three thousand miles in breadth, and to reach at last a shore which had hitherto repelled the approaches of every civilized settler! Who can describe the agonies of such a scene? Their Memorialist has done it in language as satisfactory as any language can be, but the description still seems cold and feeble.
“ And now the time being come when they were to depart," says he, “ they were accompanied with most of their brethren out of the city unto a town called Delft Haven, where the ship lay ready to receive them.
One night was spent with little sleep with 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 on board, and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting, to hear what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them, what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each other's hearts, that sundry of the Dutch strangers, that stood on the Key as spectators, could not refrain from tears. 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 unto the Lord and his blessing; and then, with mutual embraces and many tears, they took their leave of one another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them."
Such was the embarkation of the New England Fathers! Such the commencement of that Pilgrim voyage, whose progress during a period of five months I have already described, and whose termination we this day commemorate! Under these auspices, and by these instruments, was at last completed an undertaking which had so long baffled the efforts of statesmen and heroes, of corporations and of kings! Said I not rightly that the Pilgrims had a power within them, and a Power over them, which were not only amply adequate to its accomplishment, but which were the only powers that were thus adequate? And who requires to be reminded what those powers were?
I fear not to be charged with New England bigotry or Puritan fanaticism in alluding to the Power which was over the Pilgrims in their humble but heroic enterprise. If Washington, in reviewing the events of our Revolutionary history, could say
to the American armies, as he quitted their command, that "the singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving,” and again to the American Congress, on first assuming the administration of the Union, that “ every step by which the people of the United States had advanced to the character of an independent nation, seemed to have been distinguished by some token of Providential agency,” how much less can any one be in danger of subjecting himself to the imputation of indulging in a wild conceit, or yielding to a weak superstition, by acknowledging, by asserting, a Divine intervention in the history of New England colonization. It were easy, it is true, to convey the same sentiment in more fashionable phraseology
to disguise an allusion to a wonder-working Providence under the name of an extraordinary fortune, or to cloak the idea of a Divine appointment under the title of a lucky accident. But I should feel that I dishonored the memory of our New
England sires, and deserved the rebuke of their assembled sons, were I, on an occasion like the present, to resort to such miserable paltering.
No— I see something more than mere fortunate accidents or extraordinary coincidences in the whole discovery and colonization of our country, - in the age at which these events took place, in the people by whom they were effected, and more especially in the circumstances by which they were attended; and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if ever I am ashamed to say so!
When I reflect that this entire hemisphere of ours remained so long in a condition of primeval barbarism, — that the very existence of its vast continents was so long concealed from the knowledge of civilized man, — that these colossal mountains so long lifted their summits to the sky and cast their shadows across the earth, -- that these gigantic rivers so long poured their mighty, matchless waters to the sea, - that these magnificent forests so long waved their unrivalled foliage to the winds, and these luxuriant fields and prairies so long spread out their virgin sods before the sun, — without a single intelligent human being to enjoy, to admire, or even to behold them:
When I reflect to what heights of civilization, ambition, and power, so many of the nations of the Old World were successively advanced, reaching a perfection in some branches of art and of science which has destined their very ruins to be the wonder, the delight, the study, and the models of mankind for ever, and pushing their commerce and their conquests over sea and shore with an energy so seemingly indomitable and illimitable, and yet that these seas and these shores, reserved for other Argonauts than those of Greece, and other Eagles than those of Rome, were protected alike from the reach of their arts and of their arms, from their rage for glory and their lust for spoils :
When I reflect that all the varieties of roaming tribes which, up to the period of the events of which I speak, had found their way, nobody knows when or from whence, to this northern Continent at least, were so mysteriously endowed with a nature, not merely to make no progress in improvement and settlement of themselves, but even to resist and defy every influence which could be brought to bear upon them by others, except such as tended to their own extirpation and overthrow, - how they shrank at the approach of the civilized settler, melting away as they retired, and marking the trail of their retreat, I had almost said, by the scent of their own graves; -- or, if some stragglers of a race less barbarous, at some uncertain epoch, were brought unknowingly upon our shores, that, instead of stamping the Rock upon which they landed with the unequivocal foot-prints of the fathers of a mighty nation, they only scratched upon its surface a few illegible characters, to puzzle the future antiquary to decide whether they were of Scandinavian or of Carthaginian, of Runic or of Punic origin, and to prove only this distinctly, - that their authors were not destined to be the settlers, or even the discoverers, in any true sense of that term, of the country upon which they had thus prematurely stumbled :-*
When I reflect upon the momentous changes in the institutions of society, and in the instruments of human power, which were crowded within the period which was ultimately signalized by this discovery and this settlement; the press, by its magic enginery, breaking down every barrier, and annihilating every monopoly in the paths of knowledge, and proclaiming all men equal in the arts of peace; gunpowder, by its tremendous properties, undermining the moated castles and rending asunder the plaited mail of the lordly chieftains, and making all men equal on the field of battle; the Bible, rescued from its unknown tongues, its unauthorized interpretations, and its unworthy perversions, opened at length in its original simplicity and purity to the world, and proving that all men were born equal in the eye of God; -- when I see learning reviving from its lethargy of centuries, religion reasserting its native majesty, and liberty – Liberty itself — thus armed and thus attended, starting up anew to its long suspended career, and exclaiming, as it were, in the confidence of its new instruments and its new auxiliaries ---66 Give
* Von Müller, in his Universal History, speaks of “the monument apparently Punic, which was found some years ago in the forests behind Boston, and adds, “it is possible that some 'Tyrians or Carthaginians, thrown by storms upon unknown coasts, uncertain if ever the same tracts might be again discovered, chose to leave this monument of their adventures." He refers, without doubt, to the same Rock at Dighton, which the Society of Northern Antiquaries in Denmark claim as conclusive evidence of the discovery of America by the Scandinavians.
me now a place to stand upon a place free from the interference of established power, free from the embarrassment of ancient abuses, free from the paralyzing influence of a jealous and overbearing prerogative-give me but a place to stand upon, and I will move the world," I cannot consider it, I cannot call it, a mere fortunate coincidence, that then, at that very instant, the veil of waters was lifted up, that place revealed, and the world moved!
When I reflect, too, on the nation under whose reluctant auspices this revelation was finally vouchsafed to the longing vision of the intrepid Admiral; how deeply it was already plunged in the grossest superstitions and sensualities; how darkly it was already shadowed by the impending horrors of its dread tribunal, and how soon it was to lose the transient lustre which might be reflected upon it from the virtues of an Isabella or the genius of a Charles V., and to sink into a long and rayless night of ignorance and oppression :
When I look back upon its sister kingdom of the Peninsula, also, which shared with it in reaping the teeming first-fruits of the new-found world, and find them matching each other not more nearly in the boldness of their maritime enterprise, than in the sternness of their religious bigotry and in the degradation of their approaching doom :
When I remember how both of these kingdoms, from any colonies of whose planting there could have been so poor a hope of any early or permanent advancement to the cause of human freedom, were attracted and absorbed by the mineral and vegetable treasures of the tropical islands and territories, and by the gorgeous empires which spirits of congenial grossness and sensuality had already established there, while this precise portion of America, these noble harbors, these glorious hills, these exhaustless valleys and matchless lakes, presenting a combination of climate and of soil, of land course and water course, marked and quoted, as it were, by nature herself, for the abode of a great, united, and prosperous republic, — the rockbound region of New England not excepted from the category, which, though it can boast of nothing nearer akin to gold or diamonds than the sparkling mica of its granite or the glittering