AMONG THE PURITANS:
THE FIRST TWENTY SABBATHS OF THE
BY DR. W. A. ALCOTT.
PUBLISHED BY CARLTON & PORTER,
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1851, by
LANE & SCOTT,
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the Southern
District of New York.
Men profess, in these days, to judge of the truth of everything by its practical effects and tendencies. They even judge of Bible doctrines in the same way.
Taking them, for once, at their word, I submit to their consideration – especially the consideration of young men and youth – the following pages. I ask them to trace, fairly, the connection between Puritan Sabbath-keeping and the general development of Puritan character.
course, I do not take the ground, that the Puritans were perfect men, but that
they were in many respects remarkable me, as everybody admits; such men,
indeed, as the world has
seldom seen. The question I have endeavored to answer – the problem I have tried to solve – is, How did they keep the Sabbath?
To answer this question, I have endeavored to go to the bottom of the best histories on that subject; and to bring forth things new and old. I may have erred in some instances; if so, let the errors be point out in kindness, but in faithfulness, and I will acknowledge them. My aim is to bring my work before the rising generation, and to abide by their decision on its merits.
W. A. A.
INTRODUCTION ................................................ 9
FIRST SABBATH AT
IV. THE FOURTH SABBATH ..................................... 32
IX. ONE MORE SABBATH IN THE MAYFLOWER ..... 67
X. A SABBATH ON SHORE .................................... 72
XI. THE SECOND SABBATH ON SHORE ................... 78
XII. SEVEN SABBATHS AMONG THE PURITANS ...... 81
XIII. SABBATH VISITING ......................................... 85
OF THE MAYFLOWER FOR
[This page blank.]
A MODERN SABBATH IN NEW-ENGLAND.
The seventeenth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty --, was as beautiful a summer day as the sun ever rose upon. Not a cloud obscured the sky, and rarely, during the delightful morning hours, was there a sound heard, except from the songsters of the fields and groves. It was the beginning of a New-England Sabbath. It was the opening of that day, which, if kept anywhere as it should be, is so in the land of the Puritans.
But the sun is hastening towards the meridian. The far greater part of the in-habitants of the village are already in their seats at their respective churches; and the most of us who remain at home on account of indisposition or for other causes, are engaged in reading or in contemplation.
however, is a man with his
pitchfork. He is attired like a laborer – I mean, a farmer. Yes; he is one. There stand his heaps of hay. Can it be that he is going to work? It certainly is so. He is already throwing his hay about the mea-dow. And in the next field, still farther on, not less than half a dozen men and boys are at work, opening and turning hay; and all this, too, in full view of my door.
Has there been rain for two or three days past, so that the hay in this vicinity is likely to be greatly injured if it stands long in the heap? No such thing. Never, perhaps, was there finer and better weather for hay-making than the past week. Nor is there any prospect of rain now, as I have already intimated. And yet, these men and boys are at work as busily making their hay, as if they had forgotten – entirely forgotten – the great command: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”
is afternoon now, but there is no remission of labor. Here come the teams to cart away the
hay. After having been made properly, it
would be as safe – or nearly so – in the heap, as in the barn.
This I never saw before. I have seen men work a little while after a long wet, or rainy season to save their wheat, rye, or other grain, when it was on the point of being spoiled; but, although I have lived on the land of the pilgrims more than half a century, I never before saw men and boys all around me, working at hay as if it were a common, or week day, and as if the Sabbath were not in all their thoughts.
It is election to-morrow, however. A representative is to be chosen to Congress. Perhaps some of these people are at work to-day in order to gain time to attend the election. But why gain time? The grass is not suffering either for want of getting in or cutting.
The plain, unvarnished truth is, that the Sabbath is becoming neglected among us – sons of the Puritans though we presume to call ourselves. We not only make calls, and visits, and ride about for the sake of health and pleasure, but when there is the slightest apology for such a course, go to work.
It is not during the season of haying and harvesting alone that we labor on the Sab-
bath; it is at almost all seasons. Nor is it the farmers alone who openly disregard the Sabbath and the ordinances and institutions of religion. It is, in too many instances, professors of religion no less than non-professors.
This very year I have seen men of nearly all the various denominations of Christians which we have among us, at work on the Sabbath; and this again and again. Some often labor in their shops; some in their gardens; others in their fields. And what is to be the end of these things?
Musing on this subject of late, one day, my mind reverted to the character of our pilgrim fathers – the noble race of men from whom we descended. How did they regard the Sabbath, I inquired? Did they labor occasionally, on the holy day, and then plead that it was a work of necessity? Did they waste half the time; and visit, or ride about, or play the other half? Have we the means of ascertaining the facts in the case? And if so, will they not be both interesting and instructive? Let us, at least, make the attempt.
SUNDAY AMONG THE PURITANS.
THE FIRST SABBATH AT
the autumn of 1620, two hundred and thirty-one years
ago, there lay in the har-bor of
little vessel was alone. Not another
vessel of any sort, save a few rude canoes, could then have been found in any
of the numerous harbors that about on the
brave little ship, the Mayflower, had sailed from
teenth, in the hope of reaching this then uninhabited and savage coast in October. This was, indeed, later in the year than they ought to have undertaken such a voyage, but they could not sail out earlier.
instead of having, as they had hoped they might, a favorable passage, they had
experienced many reverses of fortune – un-favorable winds and severe storms had
prolonged the passage to sixty-four days; and two days more elapsed before they
could get safe into
who were the people on board the Mayflower?
Besides the commander, Mr. Jones, and the usual number of hands to take
care of the vessel, there were one hundred passengers, being part of a company
of Puritans, as they were called, who
had removed from
were come out to
been denied them in
company of Puritans consisted of men, women, and children. It was not like the company that first
settled Virginia – all single men. Among
them were no less than eighteen families, embracing seventy six persons; and
there were three men who had left their families behind them in
again, the weather, which was already cold, was every day becoming more and
more severe, and the winter was fast
coming on. Yet here they must settle at all hazards; for in addition to other difficulties the Mayflower herself was injured consid-erably, and without large repairs would not be able to ride out another gale.
They arrived in the harbor and anchored on Saturday, just in time to go on shore and take a hasty survey of the country. But before disembarking, the adult males of the company – forty-two in number – signed an agreement to form themselves as soon as they could into a colony, and submit to good and wholesome laws and regulations.
When through with this formality, fifteen or sixteen of them entered the boat and made for the shore. On landing they found no inhabitants, nor the traces of any. All they could learn during this first excursion was, that they were on a narrow strip of land, consisting of sand-hills slightly covered with timber, but having no underbrush.
They were just now becoming almost destitute of wood on board the vessel. So, in the absence of anything else to convey in
the boat, they gathered a quantity of wood and took it back with them. They had hope to find something to eat; but were disappointed.
place where they landed was, as I suppose, a part of what is now called
the next day,
Would they dismiss,
as much as possible, all
thoughts of everything pertaining to their journey and the formation of their
colony, and spend the day in religious con-versation,
reading, meditation, and prayer? Would
they obey the spirit of our Saviour’s command, and take no thought – that is,
anxious thought – for the morrow?
Would they remain quietly and content-edly on board their vessel all day?
Thus our pilgrim fathers did. Long as they had been on their voyage, late as it was in the season, bad as was the condi-tion of their vessel, and anxious as they all must have been to explore the country in which they must inevitably, if they lived, spend the coming long winter, not a word do we hear that they said about its being a work of necessity – peradventure of mercy, too – to go on shore and prosecute their search, and endeavor to make further discoveries.
That they had no momentary desires of this kind, no one, perhaps, who reads their story will believe. And yet no one will be-lieve that they cherished them. They were accustomed to self-denial, and it was well for them that they were so.
long-boat needed repairing; it was almost as much crippled as the Mayflower
herself, whereas they needed it even more.
They could not run along the coast and search it out in the Mayflower,
however excellent her condition. It was
necessary that she should remain at
must go in small companies in the long-boat. But to repair even this, would take the carpenter a considerable time.
In these circumstances, was there no one who though it a matter of necessity that the carpenter should go about it on Sunday? Was there no conversation on the subject? – no difference of opinion about the line of duty? We hear none. We do not – we cannot – believe there was any. Why not? Because it would not have been like the Puritans.
It was enough for our Puritan fathers to know that Sunday had arrived; and that God had said, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”
was myself once very near infringing on the sacredness of the Sabbath in this
When the morning light began to appear,
the captain of the boat having made every-thing secure, began to make arrangements for going on shore. All the passengers and hands were going with him. I must go or spend the Sabbath on board alone, and without provisions. It was in the winter, moreover, and cold on board. I concluded to go with the rest.
As it was low water where we anchored, our first business was to get into the long-boat, and go as far as we could in that. We rowed a mile or more, when the water became so shallow in places that the boat could proceed no farther. And yet it was too deep between the sand-bars to wade. What should we do?
Some attempted to wade out. The sailors too me, and one or two others, on their backs, and carried us in that way a long distance; they having on a species of very high, thick boots. At length we were set down and directed to the shore.
It was now almost sunrise. I soon found myself in the village, but the inhabitants, even in the public boarding-houses, were not yet up. I felt a degree of guilt to
be inquiring for a boarding-house on Sun-day morning. However, I was at length successful in the search, and before many of the inhabitants had risen, I was in quiet quarters, where I had the day to myself.
I have said to myself again and again, both then and since, Would one of the Puritans have done this? – or would he have remained on board the packet? I greatly fear that I did not act as the Puri-tans of the Mayflower would have acted.
But there is another and a more important question to be asked, -- Did I act as my Lord and Master would have acted in the same condition and circumstances? I am not bound to follow the example even of the Puritan pilgrims any farther than they followed Christ. To Him alone shall I be accountable in the judgment of the great day.
SECOND SABBATH AT
TIME, which waits not, passed on. It did not wait even for our Pilgrim fathers. Another Sabbath came. It was the twenty-ninth of November, or about the time of our present New-England thanksgiving.
The Puritans had not been idle. They had been several times on shore, exploring the country; though, as yet, they had found no place which seemed to them desirable as a residence. The carpenter had made some progress in the work of repairing the boat, but it was not yet half-finished.
discovery they had made on shore, which awakened their interest, and placed
them alternatively between hope and fear.
They had seen five or six men – they were the people we call Indians,
for want of a better name – with a dog.
But instead of having given them any information about the country, they
had fled to the woods. Nor had they been
able to come up with
them, although they had pursued them ten miles or more, and had been out all night in the pursuit.
discoveries were made. Among them was a
tract of about fifty acres of plain-land, with the appearance of some-thing
having been planted there in small hills, or hillocks. It was in Indian corn-field. For
also found springs of water, which to them seemed pure and excellent; and one
considerable pond. More even than all
this, they found strawberry vines, and grape vines, and an old kettle, left by
some ship of discovery from
They had found heaps of sand, some of which, on examination, contained human bones, with bows and arrows in a state of decay while others contained baskets of Indian corn. They had procured several bushels of the corn for seed, intending to pay the owners for it, whenever they found them, to their entire satisfaction.
Finally, they had discovered the remains
of an old for or palisade, and two canoes. The latter, doubtless, belonged to the Indians. But as to the fort, whether it had been built by Indians or white people, it was impossible to tell.
But they had found, as I said before, no place which seemed to them suitable for their purposes; though they had pushed their search to Saturday evening. And yet, we do not hear of anything like complain-ing, or of anything like an interpretation of their usual mode of Sabbath keeping.
We do not hear that even the carpenter said a world about the necessity of laboring more than six days in seven; and this, notwithstanding the great want which was felt of the boat: he rested with the others, “according to the command-ment.”
And may we not believe, as I have inti-mated in a preceding chapter, that their minds rested, too, as well as their bodies? However anxious the men, and women, and children, were to have a home on the firm land – however tired of ship and ship-board – there was nothing said about it on Sunday.
Would it be so with the present race of New-Englanders, I must again ask? Would there be no murmuring, at least in the form of oft, and repeated, and impatient inquiry, “When will the boat be finished? When, O when shall we get out of this dirty old vessel?”
a little from what I have seen – for I have spent many Sabbaths on
yet, there are some exceptions to the truth of this remark, not only in
dreds of people, in a very short time, wind-ing their way over the sands – as it were of Zahara – to the spot where the wreck took place.
And what for? Not to afford aid, as I said just now, for no aid is now required. Not, in general, to gratify curiosity, for such scenes are by no means infrequent. Not to turn the mind into a serious channel by rousing it to reflection on the uncertainty of all things below the sun, and the instability, even, of human life.
then? Why, a few to as wreckers – that
is, as men who hunt for the property which may be washed ashore from the
wreck. These may be know by having
knapsacks on their backs. Some, however,
attire themselves with knapsacks and hunt for property, not for the sake of the
suffering, but for their own use. The
greater part, however, go over chiefly as an amusement. It may not yet be church-time, and if it
were, they would be glad of an excuse for absenting themselves. And under color of sympathy, or with some
other excuse in their mouths, or with none
at all, they flock to the spot and spend half the day there.
I have said, that it was now about the season of the New-England thanksgiving. Some young reader – who reflects less than he reads – may have had it in his mind to ask, -- did the Puritans stop their work, and cease to prosecute their discoveries, on the day of thanksgiving?
But I hardly need to say, that an annual day of thanksgiving had not yet been established, nor did it occur till many years afterwards. Had such a day existed, and had the Puritans thought it a duty they owed to God to keep it rigidly, I have no doubt they would have done so. They certainly had as good reason to be thankful as any people ever had.
True, they had many and severe trials and sufferings; but then, they had also many and great mercies. It is not the people who have the fewest trials who are the most thankful. It is oftener the reverse of this. A person who has never had any trials, or who has had almost none, is fre-quently ungrateful and unthankful.
THE THIRD SABBATH AT
cold December, was now come, and with it frequent cold, piercing winds from the
east and north-east. Those who have ever
had fallen six inches deep, -- not to make sleighing, had they been prepared
for it; but only to lie a while, freezing and thawing, and then, perhaps, be
carried off by the rains. I have spent
several winters on the
Another trial now befell them – more severe, if possible, than any to which they had yet been subjected. As long as people have their health, they can get along almost in any way; but in sickness it is far otherwise.
going from the Mayflower to the shore
and returning often, the Puritans had fallen into the habit–for the water was shallow–of wading; sometimes, perhaps, when both excited to perspiration, and greatly fatigued. Sometimes, too, it is not improbable they neglected, on returning to the vessel, at night, to change their wet clothes.
Do you ask why they waded? Partly from convenience, as they did not like always to wait for the boat; and partly for the pleasure of doing so. Partly, also, from necessity, it may be; for while the boat was undergoing repairs they were not well provided with any other means of convey-ance.
The result of all this, especially as there was much of stormy weather and east wind, was, that many of them took very severe colds. Indeed, they seemed to take them repeatedly. These colds continued with many till the ended in a settled cough; and with a few, in pulmonary consumption.
they increased also the severity of another disease which they had contracted
before, by being so long on board, and having bad provisions, with very few vege-
tables; I mean, of course, the scurvy. For it is the testimony of Mr. Wood, in his book called “New-England’s Prospect,” that their beef and pork were “tainted,” their butter and cheese corrupted, and their fish rotten.
Two or three days before the boat was finished they held a meeting of the colon-ists, at which twenty-four of them were appointed to go out in it, as soon as it could possibly be completed, on a new voyage of discovery. This number was moreover increased by nine volunteers, among whom was the commander of the Mayflower, Captain Jones.
The boat was finished on Saturday, Dec-ember 5; but it was agreed among them not to set out on their excursion till the following Monday, which was December 7.
Why did they not set out on Sunday, the day before? It would appear that the weather was fine for the season on that day.
a vessel sets out on its proposed voyage now-a-days on Sunday, as a matter of
choice. In truth there was once, it
would seem, a kind of superstitious belief among
seafaring people that Sunday was the very best day for beginning a journey.
“The better day,” said one of their old proverbs, “the better deed.” As if, by set-ting out on the best day of the seven, they were more likely to be successful, than by setting out on any other day. As if, too, God would grant a special blessing on a course of conduct opposed to his own fourth commandment.
Or, if there had been any doubt on the minds of the Puritans of the propriety of setting out on Sunday, why did they not contrive to get away on Saturday? It does not appear that there was anything in the way of doing this, unless it was conscience. This, doubtless, told them, that to set out then, and for the reason I have assigned, would be about the same thing before God, as to start the next morning.
any even, they waited till Monday, and kept this third Sabbath at the
THE FOURTH SABBATH.
THEY set out on their exploring expedition, on Monday, December 7; but the weather was cold and stormy. The historians of those times tell us, that on account of their exposure to the storm in an open boat, “some of them took the original of their death,”—in other words, they took new colds which increased their coughs.
Tuesday, December 8, the weather appears to have been more favorable to their
enterprise. They had, during the first
day, but little more than “got under weigh.” [sic] This day they went on very
well. They reached the place where they
had before found the graves, the corn, and the fort. It was near the mouth of a small creek in
the ground was now frozen so hard, that they were obliged to break it up with
their cutlasses and short swords, and
then pry it up with levers, yet they dug for more corn and found it. They procured, in the whole, about ten bushels. They also found among the rest, a bag of beans, which they took with them.
Some may be surprised at their taking away the corn and beans they found; and I confess that I am myself. But people have very different views, in different ages and times,–even good people. No men more conscientious than they, about many things, yet, what shall we say to their con-scientiousness in such a thing as this?
True, they pleaded necessity in the case; while, as we see, they would not plead necessity for journeying on the Sabbath. But was it a case of absolute necessity?
What if they were sick of scurvy, – many of them for want of just such articles of food as they dug up – does this justify their conduct? Besides, as we have already said, they took some of it for seed, the next year.
I must confess, once more, that I am utterly at a loss what to say in the case.
it is, they steadfastly respected
their former resolution, to pay for the corn and beans whenever they should meet with the owners. But what if they had never met with them?
Another difficulty presents itself to my mind. What if the owners of the property had discovered their loss, and, taking for granted they had been robbed by the new-comers, had been instigated thereby to make war upon them? Was the course they took even politic?
True it is—and I rejoice to be able to mention it to the credit of the Puritans—they did, some time afterwards, find the owners of the property—so history informs us—and paid them for it, the full price. This shows, at least, that they were not disposed to steal, although it does not entirely free them from the charge of imprudence, if nothing worse.
One more remark in passing, I must be permitted to make. We must, in judging men’s characters, make due allowance for the customs and fashions of the times in which men live.
This remark will be seen to be applicable to the Puritans, when we consider that they were armed with cutlasses and short swords. They not only had these, but also guns, pistols, and the like. In truth, they have been represented by some to have been covered with armor.
of their corselets, says a historian, would be a far more precious relic than a
cuirass from the field of
A singular appearance they must have presented, you will say; and that truly. Had they no fears that their warlike attire would invite opposition, as preparation for war is always known to invite war?
The weather during this excursion along the coast was so severe, and the hardship of sleeping out during the night by fires so great, that sixteen of the thirty-three who set out in the boat went back to the May-flower. How they went we are not told. I suppose they went back by land, and waded to the vessel when they had arrived.
Those who went back were almost sick with colds, and were the feeblest of the company. Captain Jones was one of them. The rest stayed longer, in hopes of finding their way to some Indian settlement; but they were in this respect wholly unsuc-cessful.
They found, however, one very great curiosity. It was a mound or heap of earth covered with boards, under which they found, first a mat, then a bow, then another mat, and under that a board about three-quarters of a yard long, finely carved and painted. Between the mats they also found trays, dishes, &c.
Still deeper in the earth than all these, they came to a mat, nearly new, under which were two parcels or bundles, one larger, the other smaller. The larger bundle contained a very considerable quantity of red powder, as fine as flour, in which were the bones and skull of a man, together with a knife, a pack-needle, and two or three old iron things. The hair of the person was fine, and yellow.
The smaller bundle contained a quantity of the same kind of powder; but its con-tents were different. Instead of the bones of an adult, they found in it the bones and skull of a little child.
They also found two wigwams, in which were various articles of furniture, such as the Indians were accustomed to use. The wigwams were the first they had seem; and it may not be easy for us to judge how much they excited their curiosity.
Among other articles of food which they found in these wigwams, were two or three baskets full of parched acorns, of which the Indians made much use, both with their corn, and as a substitute for it. Still, however, they could find no inhabitants.
Before the return of another Sabbath, our little company of Puritans were all together in safety on board the Mayflower, preparing themselves to rest according to God’s appointment. For our ancestors, many of them, laid aside their business early on Saturday, and made the closing hours of the day a sort of preparation-season for Sunday.
The only question which they discussed, so far as we can learn, before the prepara-tion-season, was, whether they should establish the new colony at the place they had just visited, or look a little farther. The question elicited quite a warm debate.
A part of the company, especially the more feeble and timid, were for settling down at once, without looking farther. They were tired of thus living in suspense. Besides, they dreaded the diseases with which they were beginning to be afflicted, and which they hoped would disappear when they became established on shore.
Some few of them were in favor of going to Ipswitch, which they had heard of as having a good harbor, and also as being a good place for hunting and fishing. But the distance to many of the company seemed formidable.
pilot, Mr. Coppin, who had been on the coast before,
told them of a place which he said was right over against Cape Cod, westward,
not more than twenty miles distant, which possessed many advan-tages. The place referred to is supposed to have
It was at length concluded, that as soon as Sunday was over, they would make further search along the coast, and if they should not be able to please themselves sooner, stop at the place which the pilot described.
And now another Sabbath – December 13th – was spent on board the Mayflower, in their accustomed manner. What that was we are not told, except that they held Divine service, as they had been accus-tomed at home; and that they all, men, women, and children, attended, as had been their custom.
they had constituted, both in
was said by the venerable Dr. Beecher, on leaving his people in
he regretted the necessity of parting with a people whom he so much loved, yet there was one consideration which gave him great consolation,–namely, that he had not taught them to depend on their minister; but rather to be ministers to themselves. And so Mr. Robinson might also have said. He was a true Protestant, in every sense of the word. He never taught his people to shuffle off responsibility, but that to their own Master they would stand or fall. He taught them to study the word of God for themselves, and to interpret it for themselves, rather than fasten their faith on him or anybody else.
The following is a part of his charge to the Puritans, on parting with them. It shows the spirit of the leader; and we need not wonder to find such a spirit as we do in his followers: --
charge you before God and his blessed angles, that you follow me no farther
than you have seen me follow the Lord Jesus Christ. I cannot sufficiently bewail the condition of
the Reformed Churches, which are come to a period in their religion, and
will go, at present, no farther 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 to 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.”
No wonder the people of such a minister, in a case of necessity like the present, could hold meetings by themselves. Be-sides, as we are told, some of the company were what we call liberally-educated men. Two or three of them in particular were capable of leading the religious exercise of any people. Mr. William Brewster, Mr. Robert Cushman, and he whom they after-wards selected to be their first governor—Mr. John Carver.
the capabilities of these gentlemen—to say nothing of some of the rest—we have
abundant living evidence. I have in my
possession a copy of a sermon by Mr. Cushman, some months after their arrival,
which, but for the quaintness of its style,
would do honor to any modern pulpit. Mr. C. himself does not indeed call it a sermon, but a discourse. But no matter about the name—it was a most excellent production, and deserves to be printed in the form of a cheap tract, and scattered through the length and breadth of our whole American community.
I suppose, from what I can learn by con-sulting the old historians of New-England, and by looking at the nature of the case, that these little meetings of theirs were more like the exercises of a modern Bible-class, than anything else with which we are acquainted. And if so, they must have been useful. The Sabbath, even amid their suspense, and seclusion, and suffering, must have been a blessed day to them—a day in which they could grow in grace, and in the knowledge of their Savior; and though on ship-board, in a haven which was not very commodious, be thus prepar-ing for the haven of eternal rest.
A SABBATH IN
ON account of unfavorable weather the company did not set out on their second expedition on Monday the 14th, as they had determined to do the previous Saturday. They were delayed about two days. But on Wednesday, December 16, twelve of the signers of the agreement to become settlers, and six other persons from the company, set out in the boat on a new voyage of discovery.
yet, even now, the weather was such as to require in them the greatest degree
of hardihood, and the highest power of endurance. For though the storm itself was over, and theY felt that they must go, yet the spray of the rough sea
froze on their clothing, and made them, as they expressed it, like coats of
iron. Nor was the terrible cold the only
evil they had to endure. Four persons
out of their whole number—eighteen—were on the sick list.
A fine place to be sick, you may say, in an open sail-boat, in
day they sailed sixteen or twenty miles, which brought them to Billingsgate
Point, nearly opposite the present town of
Having arrived on shore, they made a barricade, procured firewood, and all, except a suitable number for sentinels, lay down to sleep. They saw a smoke, that night, about four or five miles off, made by the savages.
the morning, after an exploring tour about the coast, in which they found
nothing to encourage them—the soil being poor and the country uninviting—they
proceeded along the coast in the boat.
They did not go far that day, however, being very busily employed in
to trace our and find the villages or huts of the natives. They scarcely passed beyond the bounds of the town of
Night approaching, and being weary and faint with hunger, they collected firewood, refreshed themselves, set their watch, and lay down. And notwithstanding the hardness and coldness of their bed, few men ever slept more soundly.
About they were alarmed by a terrible cry, upon which the sentinels cried out to them to arm themselves. They dis-charged two muskets, and the noise ceased. They concluded at length, that the cry must have been that of wolves; and so again composed themselves and slept.
They rose at next morning, which at that season of the year, December 18, when the days are at the shortest, is about an hour before daylight. Some of them not being quite sure their guns would go off should it be found necessary to use them, discharged them, not thinking, at that time, of disturbing the Indians.
they had prayer. For I had for-
gotten, till now, to say, that the pilgrims were men of prayer. No dangers or hard-ships made them neglect their morning and evening devotions, any more than their meetings on the Sabbath.
After prayer, they began to prepare for breakfast. While this was going on, the daylight began to dawn, upon which they carried their armor and other things to the sea-side, that they might be easily put on board the boat when all was ready, and came back to breakfast.
Of a sudden they heard a most terrific cry, which they knew, at once, to be the same with that which they had heard at . Soon one of the company came running in, and said it was Indians, and that they were approaching them. Of this they soon had certain evidence, in a shower of arrows that came about their ears.
They ran at once to their arms, and seized them, and then ran back to the barricade. A few, however, remained near the boat to defend that. In this posture of defense they awaited the nearer approach of the savages.
As they came on several of them fired. Others, however, as it afterward appeared, could not get off their pieces, and called for firebrands. One of them took a large log from the fire, and carried it upon his shoulder—which, it was obvious, fright-ened the savages, and made them fall back a little.
Animated, however, by a stout-looking Indian who seemed to be their chief, they rallied again. Their arrows now came upon the Puritans as thick as hail. The fire was returned. At length the chief appeared to be wounded, upon which they set up a most hideous cry, and then fled.
The Puritans followed them about a quarter of a mile; then halted. Deeming it prudent not to proceed too far into the wood, they shouted twice, as loud as they could, fired a couple of guns, and returned to their boat.
Not a man of them it seems was injured. They proceeded to thank God, in a formal manner, for their deliverance. Then entering the boat, and without staying at all to finish their breakfast, they proceeded westward on their journey.
The pilot had told them of a good land-ing place, forty or fifty miles farther on; and this they hoped to reach that day, especially as they had a fair wind. They were not then so well acquainted with our variable climate as they afterwards became.
After they had sailed an hour or two, it began to snow and rain, and to be tempest-uous. By the middle of the afternoon, the sea became exceeding rough, the rudder broke, and they were obliged to steer with oars.
The storm continued to increase, and as night was at hand, and it was quite doubt-ful whether they could reach the desired harbor before dark, they hoisted all the sail they could; upon which the mast broke into three pieces, and the boat itself was, for a time, in the most imminent danger.
The tide, however, was in their favor. Had they been carried to sea by it, while in this predicament, they might have been all lost. But, instead of being carried in a wrong direction, the wind and tide conspired to carry them along towards the land.
Once, indeed, the pilot gave our; said he did not know the coast, and, with the mate, was for immediately running the boat on shore amid the breakers. But as they were doing do, a sailor cried out to the rowers; “About with her, or we are lost!” upon which they changed their course, and were soon in smooth water, near the shore.
Here they were yet in doubt. The question which perplexed them was,—whether to remain in the boat all night, or land. Some of the most healthy and vigor-ous at length concluded to sleep on board; while others, who were more feeble, went ashore, and with great difficulty kindled a fire, and being wet and cold dried themselves.
At the wind shifted again, and began to blow from the north-west. At the same time the weather changed, and the cold became, to them, almost intolerable. Finding they could not sleep in the boat, they all landed, and crowded around the fire.
the morning, finding themselves on the shore of an uninhabited island, they
concluded to rest where they were that
day, and make preparation for landing and exploring the country. It was Saturday, December 19.
island on or near which they were, was afterwards called
They had enough to do for one day, to “dry their stuff, fix their pieces, rest them-selves, and return God thanks for his many deliverances.” So, at least, we are informed by Governor Bradford, one of the company, who well knew.” But before night, or at least the next morning, had it not been Sunday, they were ready to go forward and prosecute their purposes.
In seldom if ever happens that a company of people on a journey could plead the necessity of traveling on the Sabbath with greater show of reason than the Puritans, at Clark’s Island, at the time of which I am speaking, could have done.
did they do it? Was there one who argued
the necessity of the case? Was there a
word said about it by any
individual of the whole company? If so, we have no information concerning it. The just inference is, that all things considered, no one was in favor of it.
The following are some of the motives which might have had weight—nay, which must have had—in the minds of this little band of Puritans, men and women. Other may have had weight, but these are some of the principal:--
The weather was now fine—very fine; whereas much of the time it was
stormy, especially at such a season.
December is seldom a pleasant month any-where in New-England; above all,
on the eastern coast of it, and about
often say; “We must make hay while the
sun shines,” as an excuse for laboring in the field on the Sabbath. How much more rationally might a sailor plea
have been made for going ashore at
Secondly. There were no
Indians to molest them on the island; and might they not hope to avoid
immediate molestation on the mainland?
Whereas, if they waited
long, the Indians might get intelligence of their arrival, and, perhaps, attack, or in one way or another annoy them.
For the Indians had, probably, all heard how Captain Hunt kidnapped twenty-seven of their countrymen, many years before, and were desirous, like those they had fallen in with at Eastham, to be revenged; and nothing could reasonably be expected of them but trouble, unless fear of their numbers, or their guns, should keep them at a distance.
I have already repeatedly spoken of the lateness of the season; but it
may not be amiss to speak of it again.
For do we at all realize the greatness of the temptation which this
consideration must have afforded them to go ashore at
would twenty or thirty families, in our own day and time, think of landing at
Oregon, December 20th ,—as Oregon was twenty-five years ago,—and
settlement? And yet, it could be done with great ease, compared with the difficulties of making a beginning at
Fourthly. We must by no means forget the state of their health. Three of them were still quite sick, and others nearly so; and those who were afflicted either with cough or scurvy, were not likely to get much better till they could settle down on shore, if indeed ever.
Who that values health at all—and who that has ever been deprived of it, does not value it above all things earthly? would not be likely to plead in the circumstances of the Puritans, that to go forward was a work not only of necessity, but also of mercy?
Fifthly. Think also of the suspense in which their friends on board the Mayflower must be kept, till they returned. Some of the company had wives and children there—some brothers, or sisters, or other near and dear friends. Brothers! Did I say? They were all brethren.
was no lack of filial affection in any individual of the whole company, ex-cept in a single solitary instance. As there
was one Judas among the twelve of old, so here, as the event proved, there was one Judas in a hundred. On this, however, I cannot enlarge.
We must also consider well the length of time they had been
unsettled. I have hitherto computed the
time of their unsettled condition from the day of their sailing from
even than all this. They had left
One temptation they had which we should not lose sight of. No human arm could punish them for either laboring or traveling on a Sunday. They were far away from any mere human judges or juries. Would not some of our people of the present century, who can even now be hardly restrained by law, have yielded to the temptation?
I have seen men who kept the Sabbath at home as regularly as could have been required even in the days of Moses. And yet I have seen these same men far from home, in a region where human law did not compel, nor human opinion disgrace, them if they relaxed the cords that previously bound them: and I have seen those men fall, by little and little, into the current of Sabbath-breaking that prevailed around them.
Many a young man, who goes abroad to Texas, Mexico, or California, or even to some of our Southern or Western States, where it is customary to travel on the Sabbath, falls into the customs which prevail. I have known some of our best young men do this.
Would such young men, and such older ones too, as I have been describing, have waited a day or two at Clark’s Island, as our Puritan forefathers did, when there were so many powerful motives to go in and “take possession of the land” before them, and that immediately? Does anyone believe it?
am willing to leave it to those who are given to reflection, to say whether, in
opinion, there are eighteen persons to be found in any township of New England who, under the same circumstances, would have acted as nobly as those Puritans did; or who would find a majority of their company in favor of doing that in which the eighteen pilgrims at Plymouth were unanimous.
I do not say that they did not act right—most undoubtedly they did. They were determined to yield to the commands of God, whatever might be the consequences. They were determined to keep the seventh day holy, and they did so. And then, too, they had their reward, temporally and spiritually.
The blessing of their pious obedience has extended even to us. Our Sabbaths are the more quiet for it, beyond all doubt. If our people break the Sabbath now, they would have broken it still earlier, had not the pilgrim Puritans set them such a bright and spotless example.
the multitudes travel now, and plead the necessity of doing so—not excepting
some of the best men and women of our
country—how much more traveling would there have been, had our forefathers landed at
There is not, in the wide world—I venture boldly to affirm it—a more striking example of keeping the Sabbath untarnished than this. Well may the men who performed such heroic deeds, be called pilgrims and Puritans! Well may they be remembered, and their deeds recorded, for the admonition of those upon whom the ends of the world are come!
SECOND SABBATH AT
Sunday the twentieth was soon over, and Monday the twenty-first arrived. Early this morning our company of adventurers
I know it is generally said that they landed on the twenty-second; but this mistake of one day is owing to the fact that we forget that only ten days were added, instead of eleven, to make out what is called the new style for the seventeenth century.
staid [sic] at
Indeed, I have said in a former chapter, it is a little more than twenty miles across. Why, I have seen the snowy hills of
is only one fact on record which should lead us to suppose they went round by
way of the coast. It is said, or at
least believed, that they set out from
any event, they joined their friends in the Mayflower early enough to set out
in that vessel for
on Friday morning they were under way for
But here again we are made to wonder at their conduct, though not so much as before; for not a soul of them went ashore, either that evening or the next day. It was Sunday, December 27; and that settled all questions concerning their movements for the present.
This day, again, they had their prayers and their meeting: and I have not a doubt that the meeting was one of deep interest — one at which there were manifestations of gratitude to Almighty God their heavenly Father, greatly commingled with their various acts of devotion.
Not even Billington, their Judas, pre-sumed to violate the public sentiment among the Puritans on this day, by so much as attempting to set foot on shore or make any proposition of the kind.
THIRD SABBATH AT
IT should not be forgotten that the May-flower, though by no means a large vessel, drew so much water that she could not come within a mile and a half of the place on which they intended to build; which made it quite inconvenient for our adventurers. However, they had become hardened to inconveniences.
What a pity it is, I have sometimes said to myself, that the sons and daughters of modern New-England, who, though surrounded by conveniences, and even elegances, still complain of their wants and hardships, could not have been trained to endure at least enough of real hardship to let them know how happy they now really are!
first three days of this week, begin-ning with Monday
the twenty-eighth, were spent in looking about the country, and conversing
freely with regard to the best
spot on which to build their town. Urgent as their case was, they took time to delibe-rate: and they acted wisely.
The next two days, Thursday and Fri-day, were stormy, and they staid on board the Mayflower: and it was well they did. Had they gone to work in the storm, their subsequent sufferings from the cold, cough consumption, &c., would doubtless have been much greater in the aggregate than they now were.
On Saturday, the weather being again fine, they began to cut down and collect their timber. They had decided, as it would seem, in regard to a spot on which to build. But they barely made a beginning. As the evening approached, they went again on board the Mayflower, to spend another Sabbath.
again, I wish to call the attention of my readers to the conditions of the
Puritans. Was not the temptation very
great to labor a little on this fine Sunday?
Could they not have pleaded, if people ever could, the stern call of
necessity? For it was now the third day
of January, and
almost the midst of winter. The weather was good, as I said before, and they had nowhere to stay, by day or night, but the same old home—the Mayflower. Could they not have pleaded necessity? But we hear not a word on the subject.
They fancied, to be sure, in the progress of the day, that they heard the much-dreaded cry of the savages. But, happily, it was a false alarm. The savages did not come near the settlement as yet. They were suffered to go on thus far in peace. Blessed are they who “trust in the Lord,” and “do his commandments.”
the month ending January 3d, the Puritans lost, by death, six of their
number. Of these the greater part, as it
seems, died of the scurvy. Consumption
had not, as yet, finished its course.
One, however, a female, had fallen overboard and was drowned, while they
FOURTH SABBATH AT
third Sabbath at this place being fairly over, and the light of Monday having
begun to dawn, away went our adven-turers to their
work of building
This day they were alarmed by the cry of the Indians. They were not, however, molested, but were compelled to be on their guard. The weather was uncommonly fine for the season. At evening, however, it began to rain.
Tuesday the rain continuing, they could not labor, and were glad to remain quiet on the ship. Wednesday and Thursday were fine, and their work went forward again. Friday and Saturday were stormy.
All this week they were on the watch for Indians. They had not forgotten the quarrel at Eastham. But Saturday night at length arrived, and no Indians came to molest them.
Their labor was so severe, their anxiety about the attacks of the savages so great, and their muscular powers, owing to long-continued ill health, and sometimes a want of proper and healthful exercise in the open air, that they were almost glad, not-withstanding their great necessity, to have Saturday evening and the Sabbath arrive.
They were also willing to rest on the Sabbath. They had very little desire to ramble, however great may have been their curiosity. We must remember, however, that it was winter, and the inducements to rove abroad in field or wood, were comparatively few and feeble.
Their trials would have been greater in the summer season. Had they arrived off the coast when the country was full of berries, the fishes and birds numerous and accessible, the temptation to break the Sabbath, I say again, would have been greatly increased. The young especially would be apt to feel, in such circumstances, an almost irrepressible desire to ramble abroad.
do not mean to say that such a thing would have been tolerated even for a
moment by our forefathers—all I mean to
say is, that their temptations in this respect would thus have been increased. I would barely remind the reader that virtue is easy where there is no temptation to be vicious; and that character, valuable and holy character especially, is the result of trial.
But if strength of character and unbend-ing virtue are usually the fruits of trial, and that trial always works out virtue in men of even but moderate goodness, then we might be almost sure, apart from testimony in their favor, that our ancestors were men of sterling and inflexible virtue and piety.
ought perhaps, before now, to have said that it greatly added to their cares
and trials, to be obliged to board in the Mayflower, at
ONE MORE SABBATH IN THE MAYFLOWER.
ALL this week, commencing with Monday the eleventh they lived in fear of the Indians. They kept on with their work, it is true, whenever the weather would permit, but they had many interruptions; and it seemed to them a great loss of time to be obliged to keep men constantly employed on the watch.
But no savages, as yet, made their appearance at the place where they were at work. They often saw the smoke of their fires, and heard, in the distance, their yells, but none of them ventured to the settlement.
had already begun a sort of store-house, in which to deposit their effects, and
which was to belong to the com-
munity. For I forgot, till now, to say that they came out from England to live in common for the first seven years; after which they expected to divide their effects, and proceed again upon the individual system.
Sunday again came. It was the seven-teenth of January: and again they kept the day quietly on board the Mayflower. I say quietly, but perhaps I am in duty bound to make an apparent exception; for on Saturday, the day before, one of their number who was sick became so much worse, that Mr. John Carver, whom they had appointed to be their governor, and who appears to have been a leader also in spiritual things, was sent for to visit him. But the governor could not go till Sunday morning.
This is the first work of mercy performed on Sunday, of which we read in the early history of New-England; though we can hardly doubt that many acts of this kind were done, not at all recorded. The Puritans, we must remember, were non the men to blow a trumpet before them.
when a little company of less than one hundred persons were dying at the
rate of six or eight a month, there must needs be a great deal of sickness. And although we ought not to defer till Sunday those visits which should be made on other days, for the sake of saving time, yet I have no doubt that, in itself considered, visiting the sick on the Sabbath is a very appropriate work.
Oh, how much of this visiting on Sunday, both from necessity and without it, there is done among men, in every clime where the Sabbath is known!
How may people put off visits to the sick during the week, that they may first perform as much work as they can for themselves, and then go and perform the work of visiting their sick neighbor on Sunday! And yet they claim for themselves the name of very benevolent and excellent people, and perhaps in the main they deserve it.
I am not about to say one word against visiting the sick on Sunday, when no
other day will do as well. Far enough
from it. But when I can do my sick
friend the good I meditate concerning him, by paying my visit on Thursday,
Friday, or Saturday, if I then put it off till Sunday, I
break the fourth commandment just as much as if I made hay or ploughed my field on that day.
What though it is said in the Decalogue, “Six days shalt thou labor?” What is labor? It not doing good in its various forms—not excepting that of visiting the sick—a species of labor?
I repeat it, the visit to the sick which ought to be done to-day, is a part of the six days’ labor, and must no more be deferred till Sunday, in order to give us an opportu-nity to do something else in the meantime, than I must defer hoeing my garden till Sunday because I wish to plough or hoe my field to-day, and to-morrow, and the day after.
It was not my intention to speak here of what are called professional visits on Sunday; though even those are sometimes Sabbath-breaking, as truly as making hay or hoeing garden. But I will say a few words concerning them.
physician has, for example, some five or six patients a week—it matters little
which day. So, in order to attend to more pressing calls nearer home, and a few family concerns, with perhaps a little reading and study, he defers the remoter, less pressing visits till Sunday, and then takes his horse and rides round leisurely to see his distant patients; sure, also, of being called on to prescribe for some half a dozen new cases of those who could not find time till Sunday to take medicine. Is this avoiding the appearance of evil? Is it right? But I will not dwell on this topic too long. We will return to our narrative.
A SABBATH ON SHORE.
THEIR work went on very well during the week, commencing with Monday, January 18. they had made so much progress, that towards the close of the week they began to lay their plans for holding their next religious Sabbath-day exercises on shore.
Early in the morning of Sunday the twenty-fourth, there was a slight disturb-ance on board—quite unusual with the Puritans. Their storehouse, now nearly complete, and having in it already some of their effects, was discovered to be on fire.
Rigid as they were in regard to the Sab-bath, they would now have gone on shore, gladly, but the tide was unfavorable, being about the low water mark. Besides, they were not without fears that the savages were there; so that, rather than risk their lives, they did not attempt to land.
add to their trouble, some of the workmen, instead of returning to the May-
flower on Saturday night, as usual, were missing. They had either staid on shore for some reason quite unknown to the rest, or some misfortune had befallen them.
In an hour or so, however, the tide rose a little, and hearing nothing of the Indians, they ventured on shore. They found the fire had done its work, and burnt up the contents of the building, though not the building itself. Why the building itself was not consumed does not appear.
The fire, it seems, instead of being com-municated by the Indians, had arisen from a spark, which the wind had blown to the building. They had sustained a loss, but history does not speak of it as very severe.
They found their friends who were missing. There were two of them. The story of their absence will explain the reason why the company on board had particular and strong suspicions that the fire was communicated by the Indians.
the Friday before, two of the company, after having nearly finished their
dinner, took some food in their hands and walked away a little distance for
exercise and amusement. Very soon their dogs—a mastiff and a spaniel—gave chase to a deer.* They followed the track of the dogs and deer, rather incautiously, till they were completely lost. They did not find their way home that night.
During the night, so severe was the cold, and so unprotected were they against it, that one of them had his feet frozen. This made their progress very slow, even after they found they were upon the right track. The feet which were frozen became so much swollen, that they were obliged to cut the shoes off with their knives. They were troublesome for a long time after-wards.
truth, they did not return till so late on Saturday that their brethren had
re-turned on board the Mayflower, and left them without the means of following
them. Besides, they were so much
and so lame, that they were almost willing to remain where they were.
No wonder, then, that when the com-pany on board the vessel saw the fire, they feared their companions were prisoners, and the Indians were ransacking and burning the new village. The wonder is, that they dared, as soon as the tide per-mitted, to go on shore and hold their little meeting.
And yet this last they certainly did. But where they held it—whether amid the ruins of their storehouse, or in one of the unfinished tenements, history does not inform us. It was held in quiet, as usual, and without any great or unusual fear of the Indians.
One thing must again be noticed—the great value the Puritans seem to have set on religious worship on the Sabbath. For, as I have already said, they turned out, as it were, in a mass, and went directly on shore as soon as ever the tide would permit. To account for this are the following considerations: --
1. As nearly an hour had elapsed, and they discovered
no other fire than that of their storehouse, saw no Indians about there, and heard
none of their yells, it was
natural for them to begin to suspect the fire was owing to accident.
2. They had agreed to hold their meet-ing on shore that day; and with them every agreement of this kind became a duty. We may reasonably suppose, moreover, that their wives and children had set their hearts, much more than themselves, on this partial inroad upon the monotony of their condition.
3. The two who had been lost, must have been without the usual religious instruction of that day, had not the rest gone ashore, either to bring them on board, or to remain and spend the day with them; and this to the Puritans would have been a more serious evil than we may be aware.
In these later times, I well know, few people attach so much importance to the act of assembling themselves together for religious worship, both on Sunday and at other times, as I have supposed the Puritans did. And is it not obvious that we are every day growing more and more lax in this matter?
great many tell us they can worship at home as well as anywhere else,—that they
can learn as much from reading the Bible and other good books, as from hearing a sermon. They say, moreover, that the Sabbath is nearly all the time they have to spend in the society of their families.
Others make it a general rule to attend—or, at least, they resolve to attend generally; and yet, when the Sabbath morning arrives, the slightest excuses are sufficient to keep them at home. The slightest storm, the mere prospect of a storm, a cold, the want of a garment exactly to their mind—these, and a thousand other things, form, in their view, a sufficient excuse.
Even if it were known that the question of holding or not holding the meeting were pending on the circumstance of their being present, or not present, promptly and punctually, almost any of the little things I have named would often keep them at home. It should not be so.
THE SECOND SABBATH ON SHORE.
THOUGH the Puritans were to hold their property for a time in common, yet each family, as it appears, was to erect its own house, aided by such help as could from time to time be obtained from those who had no families. But as almost, or quite, every family had one or more of its mem-bers on the sick list, it is easy to under-stand why their work went on slowly; and why it was, that when the thirty-first or last day of January arrived no house was quite completed.
And yet they found no difficulty in the way of holding their little meeting on shore, even in an unfinished hours. It is true their tenements were small; but the small number they could collect in the midst of so much sickness as now prevailed, could be suitably accommodated for an hour or two almost anywhere.
I have alluded again to their sickness.
Six, as you will recollect, had died before January 3; eight more died before Feb-ruary 8; and it is recorded by the historian Bradford, under date of February 25, old style, which would correspond to our seventh of March,—“This month seventeen of our number died.”
It is well known, moreover, that by the early part of April, no less than forty-four of their number, or nearly one-half who came over, had rested from their labors and sufferings in death. Was it possible for them to do much in the way of building houses, amid such scenes and circum-stances?
regard to their sufferings—what they were—we are far enough from being left to
conjecture. Bancroft, in his History of
the rest, they lost their worthy governor—Mr. Carver. This was pecu-liarly
afflictive. Mr. Carver had been as a
father to them all. Several of the principal men and leaders fell at about the same time.
Who, then, among them, was left for work? Had they not been disheartened, it is quite obvious very little could have been accomplished. And, I say again, the wonder is, not that they accomplished so little, but that they were able to make any progress at all.
Besides, it added greatly to their distress, and to their consequent delay, that the bad and very severe weather sometimes hindered them more than half the week. Nor must we ever forget that their home, for the most part, was their old—and, as I was going to say, diseased—vessel. At least there was the home of the women and children.
But they did not wholly despair. They believed in God. They believed in a better time coming. They believed, perhaps, that the darkest time of the whole night is just before the light of a new and better day breaks in. They believed, and took courage.
SEVEN SABBATHS AMONG THE PURITANS.
THERE is so little of incident to be collected from the histories of those times of the Puritans, which so “tried men’s souls,” that I must now leave off considering each week and Sabbath by itself, and grasp them together according to convenience.
The meeting was held on the land again, February 7. But on the next Sabbath—the fourteenth—the storm was so severe that it was hardly possible to say which was the most safe or convenient for the meeting—ship or shore. For as for the ship, it was exceedingly tossed, and at times in considerable danger. But it was almost as dangerous on the land as in the ship. The violence of the wind cause the “daubing,” as they termed it, of their houses to fall down, greatly to the annoyance of the occupants. They held the meeting as usual, however, in spite of the storm.
Their huts, which from the foregoing account seem so frail, were made of logs, and then thatched. The interstices between the logs were filled with clay. They were arranged in a row, at a very little distance from each other, and presented a very curious, and somewhat contracted appearance.
During the weeks of February, all was quiet, so far as the savages were concerned. True, they kept their sentinels constantly; but no Indians came near. It was not till the last day but one of the month that they had any trouble.
On Saturday, February 27, two savages appeared on the top of a hill near by, and made signs at them; but when they went out to meet them they fled. As the knew not their object, and could not be sure they were not the vanguard of an overwhelming force, it is not to be wondered at that their spirits began to quail.
next day, Sunday the 28th, was spent in great fear. The savages were near them—the knew not in
what numbers. They heard their yells
beyond the hills,
very frequently. But a kind and merciful
Did they go on shore for worship, in such circumstances, or did they, amid their fear and alarm,—their fears greatly increased, no doubt, by their feebleness,—prefer to remain on board the vessel? On this point history gives us no certain information. The presumption, however, is, that they went on shore.
The next three Sabbaths, namely, March 7, 14, and 21, were kept in the usual manner, and without any interruption. Slowly as their work went on, and great was the temptation, no one had yet lifted a finger in violation of the fourth command-ment; nor did any one do so till the village was finished.
At what time exactly they began to leave the vessel and occupy their imperfectly finished houses, I am not able to say. Per-haps some of the families removed long before the others. One thing we do know, that the last of them were removed on shore the thirty-first of March.
is extremely difficult for us, at this distant day, and surrounded as we are on
every hand by facilities for prosecuting our various labors, to understand how twenty log-houses could be erected under the circumstances in which these were—without the aid of horses or oxen, or any other team. And yet aid of this sort they had none, most evidently. It does not appear that they had among them a single, domestic animal more efficient than the dog or cat, for many months. It is not quite certain that the ship-carpenter may not have rendered them a little assistance, by tackles or other machinery. And yet we have no evidence that he did.
our day, and in times of public and general health, such a circumstance would
not so much surprise us. Why, there is a
house of a story and a-half, or at least of one full and high story, in
S A B B A T H V I S I T I N G.
ON Friday, March 26, a savage chief, who had know something of the English people before, came boldly into the village. As he was the first savage they had seen near enough for conversation, they were at first much alarmed. But their fears were soon quieted, for there was nothing in his appearance or manner than indicated the slightest degree of hostility. Besides, he could speak English in a broken manner; and the first thing he said to them was, “Welcome, Englishmen!”
seems most probably, that this chief had become acquainted with some of the
English who had come to the coast of
told them that he did not belong to that part of the country, but that
his house was at a place called Morattiggon. He said it was a long way there by land, and would require a journey of five days, though with a good boat and a fair wind they could sail there in a single day. Where this Morattiggon was, the Puritans could not find out, nor is it certainly known to this day. But they were exceedingly glad to meet with Samoset, especially as they could very well converse with him.
had been, it would seem, about eight months in the neighborhood of
much so-ever our Puritan fathers disliked his visit on Sunday, they were not
willing, indeed they were very unwilling, to offend him. They gave both him and his companions some breakfast; and allowed them to remain with them a part of the morning.
To prevent the colonists from being afraid of them, they had left their bows and arrows a quarter of a mile from the village. They made many strong pro-fessions of friendship, and, after their breakfast was over, sang and danced in their usual manner. Those who have ever seen an Indian dance, will be likely to think of it as a very unbecoming thing for Sunday.
As a curiosity to the Puritans, the Indians exhibited some of their own food. It was a sort of meal, made of corn—usually said to be from parched corn—which they called nokake. They stirred it into water, and made it into a kind of pudding. With a little of this meal for nokake, and no other food, they would travel, it is said, many days.
this second visit, the savages had brought some skins with them, for the
purpose of trade. But as it was Sunday,
the colonists would not trade with them. On the contrary, they dismissed them as soon as they could, except Samoset, who was unwilling to go—saying he was not very well.
At parting the Puritans gave the savages presents, of which, like most other savages, they were fond. They also made them promise to come again in a day or two, and bring the skins again, with many more, and they would trade with them. Samoset remained in the village till Wednesday.
Here again, was a very strong temptation to Sabbath-breaking. How few there are, who, in the circumstance of the Puritans, would have resisted the temptation! How few would have dared to send them away! And why should they not suffer them to remain in the village? True, they had no public-house; but Stephen Hopkins had kept Samoset in his house. Why not let them stay together, with Samoset, till Sunday was over. Are there many among us who would scruple to do as much as this?
then, they had come there for trade, and the people of the village in general
knew it, and all their eyes would have
been turned towards them. Samoset had been there before, and therefore would not excite so much attention, or break in so much upon their usual arrangements. They would also have got rid of him if they could have done it without positive violence.
There is not reason for believing that they allowed the company of Indians to remains so long as to interfere with their morning religious services. On the contrary, there is every reason for believing, that, with this slight morning interruption, they kept the Sabbath much as usual.
of the officers of the Mayflower, was exceedingly anxious to trade, or “truck,”
as he called it, with the Indians. He
had ever accompanied the colonists in all their perilous journeys along the
coast and else-where, for this very purpose.
He did not care much for the success or prosperity of the colony, for he
did not expect to remain with them longer than till the spring opened. To him, therefore, and to others like him, if
such there were, it was a matter of no little self-denial to refuse to trade
with the Indians, and to send them
away, without the certainty that they would any more return.
Indeed, the colonists themselves were anxious, every one of them, to trade with the savages: because, first, they wanted their skins; secondly, they wanted many other things which they hoped the Indians could supply them with; and thirdly, because they were desirous of making friends with them as soon as possible.
These particulars are mentioned to show how many temptations the Puritans must have had to overstep a little the bounds they had prescribed for themselves, in regard to their conduct on the Sabbath day, and as an example to others.
There are not a few in these days, who are in the habit of both giving and receiv-ing visits on the Sabbath; and who dare not do otherwise, lest they should be regarded as bigoted or Puritanical.
am not a little surprised to find the custom of giving and receiving visits on
Sunday so common among us; but I am still
more surprised to find it so often defended. Why, Christ went about on the
Sabbath, we are told, and that continually. Now will any one pretend, for a single moment, that Christ went about for such purposes as they who make these Sunday visits and calls? Is any one so ignorant as to make this plea? If he is so, I most sincerely pity him.
may not, I grant, be very common, in these days, to trade with people or wares
on the Sabbath; I know it is not. And
yet, even this is sometimes done. When,
however, a person stops with us, and remains at our house during the Sabbath,
it is by no means uncommon for the conversation to turn, even on Sunday,
towards his goods and wares. This is a
misstep to begin with; but the evil does not always end here. For, not a few of our citizens, some of the
good people too, will not only converse with the stranger about his business,
but will even, in some cases, look at his wares. In truth, there are portions of the
once knew a young trader, or peddler, who put up for the Sabbath at the house
of a man in the southern United States, who had the reputation for being one of
the most excellent men in all that region; and who certainly was amiable and
hospitable. After dinner, which came
very late in the afternoon, the young people of the neighborhood came in, and
wanted to see the young man’s goods.
Unaccustomed to such things—having recently arrived in that country—his
feelings revolted at the bare idea of exhibiting goods on Sunday, and be became
quite embarrassed. The gentleman of the
house, though he said nothing, smiled at his conscientiousness. This partially enabled the young man to
overcome his scruples. He consented to
show his goods; but, at the same time, told the company it was against his
principles to sell them on that day. Anxious
to sell the next day, however, he went a step farther, and told them his
prices. Now the best way for this young
man—by far the best way—would have been to say boldly what his views and
feelings were on the
subject; and say at once, that for these reasons he must defer everything of a business kind—even conversation about it—to the next day. He could have added—had he pleased to do so—that he would be glad to see them on Monday. So far our forefathers, no doubt, would be willing to go; but they would not, it is believed, go farther.
SAILING OF THE
ON Thursday, April 1, Samoset and his friends made the colonists the promised visit. He brought in his train about sixteen other Indians, so of whom were chiefs. They were escorted into the village with drums, and treated with much respect, and a public treaty was made with them.
Meanwhile, however, other Indians, of whom Samoset, probably, knew nothing, had made their appearance on the top of the hill, and given the signal for an attack with their bows and arrows; but when the colonists went towards them, they fled.
two Sabbaths which followed—April 4 and 11—were the last they were per-mitted to enjoy before the Mayflower sail-ed for
Mayflower had a much more speedy passage homeward than she had in coming out;
being scarcely a month from
thing more is remarkable in this connection.
After all their disasters and the loss of almost half their company,
nothing would have been more natural than that some of the Puritans should have
returned in the Mayflower to
the records of the world were searched thoroughly, it is doubted—most seriously
doubted—whether another instance can be found of such pious regard being paid
to the Sabbath, by one hundred travelers or emigrants, for a course of several
months, as was paid by our fathers who settled
Happy were it for our country, had this pious regard for the day been preserved. Then might it have been well with us, and our children, and our children’s children.
* It may not be known to every reader, that while
the deer and other wild animals have disappeared,
ago, from other parts of
remain in the region of
far up as