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T could hardly have been expected, that the more eager and enthusiastic partisans and admirers of the great religious movement in the sixteenth century, would remain content with such changes in ecclesiastical doctrine and government as satisfied the views and wishes of the royal and hierarchical personages who in this country helped on the triumph of the Reformation. True, the chain which bound the nation to the pontificate of Rome was snapped asunder, and some of the dogmas to which they were chiefly opposed had been denounced and discarded; but more, much more, in their opinion, remained to be accomplished, before there could be any well-grounded hope of the establishment of pure scriptural rule in England. It was not, they would fain believe, merely to set up the spiritual supremacy of the crown that that of the pope had been abrogated; and certainly, as regarded themselves, they, the Puritans, as many began to call them, were not one whit more disposed to submit to the yoke of Canterbury for having cast off that of Rome. Austere, impracticable fanatics, persons of less fervid zeal, less deeply-rooted convictions, or more comprehensive charity, no doubt deemed them to be; but none could deny that they were, as a body, thoroughly sincere, and terribly in earnest; men who held the pleasures of life and worldly advantages as nought-personal liberty, life itself, at
a pin's fee-if by their sacrifice the cause which they believed to be of God might be thereby advanced. And it was quite in vain that our reforming monarchs, Henry, Edward, Elizabeth, James, who, one after another, traced with their sceptres the exact line upon the sand beyond which the rushing and tumultuous tide should not be permitted to flow, had recourse to the discredited weapons of a defeated intolerance in vindication of their own infallibility. Imprisonment, torture, death, failed to subdue, or sensibly check, the stubborn nonconformist spirit which animated the majority of the middle-classes both in England and Scotland; and Elizabeth's reign had not closed, when it was clearly apparent that the fulminations of Lambeth were as impotent to rebuke or control effectually the progress of religious opinion,' as had been the thunders of the Vatican. No doubt during the earlier portions of the great queen's reign, when the independence of the realm was menaced by the haughty and powerful Spaniard, devotion to her majesty, whose throne seemed to be the only barrier against the reimposition of papal rule, absorbed or dominated all other and comparatively minor considerations. One, for instance, of the most forward and stubborn of the Puritans condemned by Elizabeth's iniquitous Court of High Commission to lose his right hand, the instant it was struck off, waved his hat in the air with the other, and shouted: 'God save the queen!' But after the magnificent Armada had been destroyed, and the Low Countries had finally triumphed in their long and terrific struggle with Spain; when Scotland especially, for centuries the unyielding, and from her position and the character of her population, one of the most dangerous enemies of England, was about, by the accession of James to the English throne, to be united with her ancient antagonist, and all reasonable fear of successful invasion had consequently vanished, the fierce and prolonged struggle in behalf of mental freedom, liberty, sanctity of conscience, commenced in real earnest. Yes, mental freedom, liberty and sanctity of conscience, albeit these principles were not inscribed upon the banners of the earlier Puritans, who were, nevertheless, unwittingly it may be, their first and only indomitable champions. They began by wrangling against formularies in worship-the Book of Common Prayer, the use of the ring in marriage, the cross in baptism, the Aaronitic vestments of the priesthood; and if the ablest, most clear-sighted amongst them had been asked what essentially they were contending for, the answer, if an unreserved and candid one, would doubtless have been, as the after-acts of their zealous leaders but too fully proved, that they were bent upon establishing and enforcing the practice, or at least the profession, of pure spiritual religion, as interpreted by Calvin and themselves from the Bible, and rooting out all other forms and modes of Christianity-a despotism as gross and detestable as any other that in any age has afflicted mankind. But the arguments they used, the principles they appealed to, especially that
main pillar of their strength, the indefeasible right of private judgment in matters spiritual, could not, experience taught them, be long dwarfed and restricted to such narrow issues as they would have imposed. Two main irreconcilable principles, in fact, and them only, were in presence of each other-authority and conscience. There was no middle course permanently possible. Either the stubborn nonconformist must again bow his neck to authority, or, however reluctantly, concede to others that which it was his aim to secure at any cost or hazard for himself— inviolability and supremacy of conscience in things spiritual. This vital principle it is-lying at the very root of Puritan dissent, but not, unhappily, for many years embodied in its practice-that has breathed enduring life and vigour into the dry bones of a sour, dogmatic theology; this, the sacred flame, the beacon-light, which, borne half-unconsciously, if you will, across the Atlantic to the shelter, and for the guidance of a new world by the Pilgrim Fathers, still hallows their footsteps, and sheds a glory over their history which conceals beneath its veil of light the faults, errors, crimes for that is the true word-which blot and darken the else bright, heroic record. As humble but faithful expositors of truth, it will be our duty to draw aside that veil, certainly with no irreverent hand, but the less unwillingly that we believe a higher moral, a greater, or, at all events, a more needed lesson, is to be derived from those stained and sorrowful leaves, than from the lustrous pages with which they so deplorably contrast; although these, we at the same time entirely agree, will be pondered over with enthusiasm and delight, as long as lofty enterprise, unswerving resolution, and unquailing self-sacrifice, have power to arouse the sympathies and command the admiration
Next to the House of Commons, in which the Puritans had, in the latter days of Elizabeth's reign, a powerful and growing party, they looked with hope, almost with confidence, to the accession of James for relief from the vexations and persecutions to which they were exposed. They were miserably disappointed. A conference was held at Hampton Court, before the king, between the Puritan leaders and their dignified opponents, at which his majesty, after giving unusual vent to the loquacious egotism it was his delight to indulge in, plainly declared, that if nonconformists of all patterns and degrees did not submit to what he, in the plenitude of royal wisdom, deemed to be true and orthodox, it should be worse for them. 'I will make them conform,' were his words to Dr Reynolds, or harry them out of this land, or worse.' His acts redeemed his threats; and as he was enabled for some years to rule without a parliament, the only potent and ever-hated foe of absolutism, the burning, hanging, torturing of unhappy dissidents from the Establishment, soon became as common as during the reign of the imperious Elizabeth. Many bowed their heads in affected submission, till the violence of the storm should
have passed away; others, of sterner purpose and hardier mould, disdained to temporise, preferring rather to seek in foreign lands the peace and safety refused to them at home. A large number had emigrated, some years previously, to Holland, Switzerland, and parts of Northern Germany; and amongst others who followed their example, were a numerous body of reputed Brownists,' from the neighbourhood of Boston, in Lincolnshire. They were called Brownists for no other reason than that, like the Rev. Mr Brown, a beneficed and eccentric clergyman of the Establishment, they asserted the right of free churches, and refused submission to Episcopacy and state rule. Their first resting-place (1606) was Amsterdam; but a schism having broken out between two of their pastors or elders, who mutually excommunicated each other, a large portion of them removed to Leyden, under the clerical guidance of the Rev. John Robinson, a Norfolk divine, and an amiable, just man. They now assumed the more appropriate designation of Independents, and for about twelve years dwelt and worshipped in peace-in peace, that is to say, inasmuch as they were not molested from without; but their hearts yearned for the accustomed haunts, the old customs, manners, the familiar accents of their native land. The people about them were civil and helpful enough, but strange strange as the tongue they spoke. This home-sickness grew upon them; and whilst anxiously pondering how to deal with it-for there was yet no safety in England, except on condition of 'conformity'-Mr Robinson bethought him of the vast new western continent, where reputedly fertile solitudes appeared to offer so inviting a refuge to fugitives from the oppressions of the Old World. The Spaniard, the Frenchman, the Hollander, were, he knew, already busy there, and the plantation of Virginia had been partially commenced in Elizabeth's time; why might they not, then, hope to found another England in the American wilderness?- a New England, to which they would bear the language, the manners, the traditions, the self-reliant spirit, the passionate attachment to representative institutions, the indomitable hatred of despotism, the Magna Charta, the jury-trial of OLD England-reproduce, in fact, in the regions of the setting sun, the England from which they were self-exiled for conscience' sake, in all but its persecution of the people of God! The reverend gentleman lost no time in imparting the idea which had so forcibly struck him to his congregation, by whom it was received with enthusiasm. It was, they said, a message from God himself, commanding them to go forth and plant His church in the wilderness; and no dread of suffering, peril, death itself, should deter them from obeying the divine injunction. These were the first PILGRIM FATHERS-the forlorn-hope of the great Puritan emigration which, commencing in 1620, and mainly concluded by the meeting of the Long Parliament, not only founded and settled the New England states of America, but has, in a wonderful degree, impressed its own political and religious policy and
character, in their essential attributes, upon the institutions, ideas, tendencies, of the entire republic, one-third of whose inhabitants at this day pridefully acknowledge a Puritan origin.
Unfortunately, these founders and lawgivers of a mighty empire, eager as they were to set out on their great enterprise, had not the pecuniary means necessary for transporting themselves across the Atlantic, much less of purchasing the implements, plants, seeds, indispensable to the attempt at hewing out and founding another England in the forests of the New World. But difficulties, however great, usually vanish when grappled with by brave and earnest men. A joint-stock company was ultimately formed, in which a number of English merchants were shareholders for considerable sums. The commercial principle upon which the association was based was simple enough, though rather unfairly onerous towards the emigrant who had no capital but his labour to offer. Each of these, by virtue of that labour mortgaged for seven years, during which all were to work in community, was a shareholder to the extent of L.10; so that upon the division of profits at the end of that time, the capitalists who advanced L.100, would be entitled to just ten times as much as a working emigrant. It was at first thought that a grant or charter might be procured from the crown, but this was quickly found to be quite out of the question: a slight, contemptuous half-promise that they would not be interfered with, being all in this way their friends could, with much difficulty, obtain a disappointment of little moment, after all, to men who firmly believed themselves to be acting under the direct inspiration of the King of kings. Two vessels, the Speedwell and the Mayflower-one of 60, the other of 120 tons burden, were taken up and prepared for the emigrants' reception; and as many of the Rev. John Robinson's congregation as provision could be made for, eagerly prepared to embark. The minister himself remained behind, but was to follow with the remainder of his people as soon as the first detachment had effected such a lodgment in the American wilderness as would justify their inviting over the feebler remnant left reluctantly at Leyden. They were first to embark at Delft Haven for Southampton; and on arriving at Amsterdam, several Dutch citizens of ample means were desirous of accompanying them. 'Nay-nay,' said the English Pilgrims with one voice. We go to found a New England in the Far West; and none but men of English blood, and who speak the English tongue, shall help in that great work.' Foremost amongst this band of stout-hearted, prejudiced Englishmen, were John Carver, William Bradford, Edward Winslow, William Brewster, Isaac Allerton, Thomas Prince, John Alden, Samuel Fuller, and John Howland, all pious and godly men;' to which list of memorable names must be added that of Miles Standish, who, though not a member then or afterwards of the congregation, was a valiant soldier, whose military experience and well-tried sword