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again of the feeble remnant of the Indian tribes which a devastating plague had left over its graves. From the moment when they thus gained possession, all adventurers and interlopers and theorists, whether of the sort of Sir Christopher Gardiner, or of that of Roger Williams, might as fairly be debarred a lodging-place, as they might be excluded from a private house at this day. There were other sand-banks and granite ledges free to those who wished to occupy them. Our fathers had the same right to regulate their civil and religious institutions after their own pattern as the father of a family has to dispose the order of his household, and to pray and teach by his fireside, and as the communicants or worshippers in a church have to appoint a creed and a code of discipline for themselves. Indeed, our fathers used no right or liberty in their strictness which the members of a “Fourierite community” do not use in their looseness. The company in England not only acted according to their light, but they legislated within the limits of their lawful and unquestionable privileges. They selected ministers to teach them in their exile. But they made themselves acquainted with the opinions and spirit of those ministers, as if they had been choosing domestic chaplains ; and they required of those ministers signed and sealed agreements about the terms of their office, their duties, and their income. The company employed servants, transported them for so many pounds each man, and provided their diet and clothing ; not, however, with the intention of making their servants their masters. The purchasers of this New England farm, with its fishing and trading privileges, with its native rocks and mullenstalks, likewise drew up solemn and formal oaths of office for its governor, deputy-governor, and their assistants ; and soon after the enterprise was in hand, they drew up an oath, to be sworn to by every person who wished to have a vote in their courts, requiring, at the same time, that such a voter should be the communicant of a church. This Freeman's Oath was one of the thorns which troubled the conscience of Roger Williams. The alternative for him evidently was to keep his conscience out of its reach. It was certainly unreasonable for him to expect to enjoy great privileges at the expense of others.
Such we conceive to be a homely but fair statement of the views, intentions, and rights of our fathers, when they came to
take possession of their farm, thrice purchased, — by money, from the patentees, — by enterprise, devotion, and outlay of their own, — by valuables and kind services, from the Indians. They no more designed to erect an asylum for all sorts of consciences, than a man, when building his cottage, expects to admit into it the inmates of the poor-house, the insane hospital, and the institution for the blind. They wanted a well ordered house and a pleasant sanctuary. If they were not entitled to one of their own choice, if they did not pay its full purchase, let their rights be questioned on these grounds ; but let them not be traduced for their honest endeavours to escape from the wiles of Satan, while they consecrated themselves to the service of God.
While Mr. Cradock was governor of the company in England, and Mr. Endicott was its agent at Salem, the proposition to transfer the government and charter to New England was first made at the court, July 28, 1629, by the governor himself. It came from him with great seriousness and caution, as a suggestion of his own ; but doubtless he had conferred upon the subject with the most zealous of his associates. We may well conceive, that faces always serious then wore their most serious aspect. It was a proposition of great significance, and occasioned much debate. The result was, that all present were instructed to think upon it privately, 6 and to set down their particular reasons in writing, pro et contra, and to produce the same at the next General Court; where they being reduced to heads, and maturely considered of, the company may then proceed to a final resolution thereon. And in the mean time, they are desired to carry this business secretly, that the same be not divulged.” Two days before the meeting of the next court, the agreement already referred to as the fourteenth document in these Chronicles had been signed at Cambridge by those intending to embark for New England. These gentlemen were anxious to have the governor's proposition carried into effect, and the court appointed two committees to draw up reasons for and against it, to confer together, and to present the result the next day to the whole company. The result, in full court, was “the general consent of the company that the government and patent should be settled in New England, and accordingly an order to be drawn up.”
Many discussions have been raised concerning the legality
of this bold decision. The court certainly had no precedent to justify them, nor has their decision ever been followed as a precedent. The most remarkable fact of all is that the king silently acquiesced in it. Many important matters needed to be discussed and disposed of, in carrying this great design into execution, and they were all fully treated and settled without a word of discord. The secrecy which was enjoined may have been recommended solely on grounds of common discretion, to guard against that notoriety and public discussion which might in many ways embarrass the enterprise, by drawing to it some undesirable persons, by increasing the cost of necessaries in shipping or freight, by causing collisions with enemies, or by inviting too close a scrutiny by the public officials. Or the sole reason of this secrecy may have been a conviction, that the company had no lawful right to transfer its government and charter to New England. At the next court of the company for elections, and the last which was held in England, Mr. John Winthrop was chosen governor. The last record of the Massachusetts Company in the Old World was made “at a Court of Assistants, March 23, 1630 (N. S.), aboard the Arbella.” A fleet of four ships was then riding at Cowes, with the newly elected magistrates of the wilderness colony, waiting for a fair wind to carry them. On board the Arbella, with Winthrop, was the charter, engrossed on parchment, bearing the heavy seal of royalty. He would not cross the seas without it. It was afterwards frequently demanded from the colonists, but it never returned to the realm and monarch of England. It hangs suspended now, as a time-honored relic, venerable and valued, in the chambers of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Before the arrival of Winthrop with the full powers of the government, there had been two emigrations to the Bay, under the authority and patronage of the company in England. The first was made by Endicott and about sixty individuals, to Salem, September 6, 1628, where he was joined by some of the stray adventurers and fishermen who had been left about Cape Ann and the neighbourhood, thus making up a band of a hundred souls. The second emigration accompanied the Rev. Francis Higginson, who arrived June 27, 1629. Winthrop led the third and principal body of colonists, and gave permanence to an enterprise which heretofore had not been free from dubiousness and peril. This, thereVOL. LXIII. — No. 132.
fore, is to be taken as the true date of the colonization of Massachusetts Bay. Settlements were made almost simultaneously at Charlestown, Boston, Roxbury, Cambridge, and Watertown, and, four years afterwards, at Dorchester. The fathers of the Bay Colony differed both in religious sentiments and social standing from the Pilgrims at Ply. mouth. With two or three exceptions, the Old Colony exiles were yeomen and Separatists, while the Massachusetts proprietors were gentlemen of landed estates, of some pretensions on the score of family descent and noble connections, and they retained their union with the Church of England, by communing with its members, though “ they scrupled at first its ceremonies, and then its prelacy.” The distinctions between the founders of the two colonies, though never causing animosity or strife, and very soon merged, were by no means trifling or overlooked in the first generation. It is a somewhat remarkable fact, that they adopted the same form of church polity. The boundary line between the two colonies is drawn upon the new State map.
The documents composing the Chronicles now before us are the records of an associated company and of individuals who were parties to its great enterprise. We have in them, therefore, abundant means of estimating the general and the particular characteristics of the founders of this colony. Brief as they are, and filled with references to very many matters and persons, they contain a connected history, and teach, after a plain way, the Puritan views of religion and policy. We have said, that their own records are the sources whence are gathered the facts, opinions, and incidents which are alleged against them. We believe that these records also afford to every judicious and moderate advocate of the Puritans the means of answering every charge against them which is mere slander, and of softening those censures to which individuals among them may be amenable. We are no indiscriminate eulogists of these men. We frankly confess, that, with our present opinions, views, and habits, we much prefer that they should have been our ancestors, to having them for contemporaries. In some respects they were sour and ungenial men. Their taste for an unintermitted and excessive ministration of preaching and prayer was morbid. Life in their households was not relieved by gentle graces, nor by wise relaxations, nor by humane indulgences. They dis
tressed themselves with superstitions. They made a great deal of mischief and unhappiness for each other by intermeddling with consciences and opinions. They doubled by their laws and institutions the number of the sins which may be committed against God and duty. But when the most is made of these just abatements of the high merit of the Puritans, one who has acquainted himself with their memorials and views will readily allow them, and still keep the balance of high esteem and renown upon their side.
We have already made a passing reference to that just point of view whence the fathers of Massachusetts are to be studied in their own light. They have been criticised as if they had before them an end very different from that which actually led them; the true course would be to show that the object which Patriarch White proposed to them, and which they devotedly and faithfully pursued, was unworthy and sure to lead them astray. If this can be done, then may these Puritan exiles stand condemned for folly ; and their ardent desire for a Christian commonwealth across the seas, composed of willing members and governed by laws of their own making, will pass for the spirit which their adversaries attribute to them, — a spirit of obstinacy when under restraint, and of persecuting intolerance when in power. We recognize no slight difference in mind and temper between the original stock of exiles from England, and their children of the first and second generations born on this soil. We should not care to appear as champions of the latter in all their views or measures. Yet for all the increase, rather than mitigation, of the Puritan harshness exhibited by them, they may find large excuses in their circumstances and education, They had not enjoyed the generous and expansive influences which Old England dispensed to her children ; they had not read her classics and poets, nor seen her venerable halls and libraries. They had been nurtured amid privations and hardships ; they had imbibed some little of moroseness with the poor fare which fed them ; they had no milk in their infancy ; they had been reared under very grim religious teachings, and had not been educated for a state of much religious freedom. The dying warnings of their parents rang in their ears, bidding them beware of apostasy, or of falling from their first love.
We do not wish to pursue into particulars a theme which is