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1617

PLANS OF EMIGRATION.

155

time when the sister company was sending out the last settlers to Virginia, an attempt had been made to establish a colony as far north as the mouth of the Kennebec. But the hardships of winter in such a latitude had been too much for the emigrants, and no Captain Smith had been found in their ranks. As soon as the summer weather enabled them to move, they made the best of their way back to England with diminished numbers. Fresh efforts were made by Smith, who, since his recall from Virginia had transferred his allegiance to the Plymouth Company, but from various causes all his attempts at colonisation had proved abortive. All that he had been able to do was to bring home a survey of the coast, and to give to the land which he had hoped to fill with happy English homes the now familiar name of New England.

Between the rival companies the exiles of Leyden hesitated long. On the one hand, they were repelled by the known severity of the northern climate. On the other hand, they feared the neighbourhood of the Jamestown colonists, and they fancied, not without reason, that the arrival of a body of nonconformists would hardly be regarded with friendly eyes by the Virginian adventurers.

At last they resolved upon a middle course. They would come as far south as they dared without approaching too near to Jamestown. Near the mouth of the Hudson, somewhere on the coast of the present State of New Jersey, they might find a spot which would be free from both dangers. It was just within the limits of the Southern Company, the officials of which had practical experience in colonisation, and which, as long as it counted Sir Edwin Sandys among its leading members, was likely to abstain from investigating too narrowly the theology of the settlers who placed themselves under its patronage.

Two messengers were accordingly despatched to England, to enter into negotiations with the Virginia Company of London. With the support of Sandys they had little difficulty in obtaining a favourable hearing for their project, but the King's assent was less easily won.

1618. Negotiations in England.

Yet even

with James they did not meet the obstacles that might have

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been expected. They hoped, they said, that he would allow them to enjoy liberty of conscience in America. In return they would extend his dominions and would spread the Gospel amongst the heathen. James inquired how they meant to live. By fishing," they said. "So God have my soul," replied the King, "tis an honest trade; 'twas the Apostles' own calling." Their case was referred to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, and they were finally told that, though they must not expect any public assurance of toleration, yet, as long as they behaved peaceably, their proceedings would be connived at. In accepting this offer, they probably thought that if they could only make good their footing in America, the King's arm would hardly be long enough to reach them.

1619.

Patent from the Virginia Company.

Further delay was caused by the dissensions with which the company was at this time agitated, and it was not till the summer of 1619 that they obtained a patent from it authorising them to establish a settlement near the mouth of the Hudson.1 As soon as the patent arrived in Leyden, the first step of the congregation was to hold a solemn meeting, and a day of humiliation to seek the Lord for his direction.' In the midst of all their difficulties, Robinson's presence was a tower of strength, and his words of loving encouragement lingered long in their memories. As soon as his sermon was ended, a consultation was held, in order that the enterprise might be put into a practical shape. About two hundred persons were present, and of this number nearly half were willing to take part in the undertaking. The rest, including Robinson himself, were prevented by various causes from leaving Holland, though there were few who did not express a wish that they might be able ultimately to find their way to America. Even with their numbers thus reduced they were forced to ask assistance, and to mortgage their future prospects in order to secure a passage across the Atlantic. With the necessity of borrowing came the necessity of yielding to the terms of those who were willing to lend. The firm and

1 Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation, 27-41. Winslow's Brief Narrative, in Young's Chronicle, 382. The patent itself has not been preserved.

1619

DEPARTURE OF THE EMIGRANTS.

157

steadfast step with which they had hitherto walked straight towards their goal was now to be exchanged for uncertainty and delay.

They had applied for money to Thomas Weston, a London merchant, who had visited them at Leyden. He assured them that they should want for nothing. He would form turers. a company to bear the risks of the undertaking, upon the security of a certain share of the profits.

The Adven

With the company thus formed an agreement was duly signed, but difficulties in its interpretation were not slow to arise. Looking to the past history of colonisation, the shareholders may well have felt that they were taking part in a scheme of which the chances of failure were far greater than those of success. The Leyden congregation had determined that they would not fail, and the resolute purpose which was to ensure success made them impatient of the doubts of others. It was sadly against their will that they finally yielded to the stringent conditions on which alone the money was to be had.1 In these negotiations, time, always precious to the poor, was lost. The autumn and the winter of 1619 passed slowly

1620. The 'Mayflower' at

Southampton.

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away. The spring of 1620 came, and there was yet a possibility that they might reach America before the summer was at an end. But the months were suffered to slip away, and it was not till July that the preparations were complete. At last, however, everything was ready. The Mayflower,' a little vessel of 180 tons, had been hired for the voyage, and was lying in Southampton Water. The 'Speedwell,' of sixty tons, had been purchased, and it was intended that she should be used as a fishing vessel on the other side of the Atlantic. She was now despatched to bring over the emigrants from Holland.

Departure

Many precious lives would have been saved if the time of departure could have been delayed till a more favourable season; but money was running short, and the poor men could not afford to wait. The day was fixed, a day sad both for those who were to go and for those

from Leyden.

1 Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation, 42-54.

who were to remain. Yet their sorrows were not unmixed with such hopes as befitted their devout and sober piety. "So, being ready to depart," wrote one who had then set his face towards the wilderness, "they had a day of solemn humiliation, their pastor taking his text from Ezra viii. 21: 'And there at the river by Ahava I proclaimed a fast, that we might humble ourselves before our God, and seek of Him a right way for us, and for our children, and for all our substance,' upon which he spent a good part of the day very profitably and suitably to the present occasion. The rest of the time was spent in pouring out prayers to the Lord with great fervency, mixed with abundance of tears. And the time being come that they must depart, they were accompanied with most of their brethren out of the city unto a town sundry miles off, called Delft Haven, where the ship lay ready to receive them. So they left that goodly and pleasant city which had been their resting-place near twelve years; but they knew they were pilgrims and looked not much on those things, but lift up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits. When they came to the place, they found the ship and all things ready; and such of their friends as could not come with them followed after them; and sundry also came from Amsterdam to see them shipped and to take their leave of them. That night was spent with little sleep by the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse and other real expression of true Christian love. The next day, the wind being fair, they went aboard and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting, to see what sighs, what sobs and prayers did sound amongst them, what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced every heart; that sundry Dutch strangers that stood on the quay as spectators could not refrain from tears. Yet comfortable and sweet it was to see such lively and true expressions of clear and unfeigned love. But the tide, which stays for no man, calling them away that were thus loth to depart, their reverend pastor falling on his knees, and they all with him, with watery cheeks commended them with most fervent prayers to the Lord and His blessing. And then, with mutual embraces and

1620

DEPARTURE OF THE EMIGRANTS.

159

many tears, they took their leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them."1

Passage to

ampton.

And so, lifting up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, they parted one from another. Of those who returned to Leyden, there were some who were, in due South- time, to follow in the footsteps of the emigrants. There were others who, like Robinson himself, were to leave their bones in the city which had sheltered them so long. The 'Speedwell,' laden with its precious freight, bore the emigrants to Southampton, where they were joined by their companions who had been sent before to complete the preparations for the voyage, and to collect such recruits as were willing to join them.

About one hundred and twenty persons, men, women, and children, embarked as passengers on board the two vessels. Brewster and Bradford were there, to represent the old Scrooby congregation. Edward Winslow, a gentleman by birth, happening to pass through Leyden on his travels, had been attracted by Robinson's preaching, and had thrown in his lot with the despised Separatists. More peculiar was the position of Miles Standish. He was not, nor did he ever become, a member of their Church; but he had willingly offered to share their exile, and he brought with him the military skill of which they were not unlikely to stand in need. He had, in all probability, served some years as a soldier in the garrison of one of the cautionary towns. He may have been actuated in his wish to join the exiles partly by a daring spirit and a love of adventure. But he was a man of sober worth, and he may well have clung to the society of those of whom the congregation was composed, even if he could not altogether adopt their tenets.

The two

Precious time was again lost at Southampton in a vain attempt to obtain better terms from the company. After a delay of seven days, the two vessels dropped down vessels leave past Calshot and the Needles into the Channel. It was soon discovered that the 'Speedwell' had sprung a leak, and the exiles were forced to put into Dartmouth for

South

ampton.

1 Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation, 58. It is a pity that in the fresco which adorns the Houses of Parliament, the realities of this

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