Imágenes de página

other principle than that sympathy we feel in all the fortunes of our race, it could lose nothing-it must gain-in the contrast, with whatever history or tradition has preserved to us of the wanderings and settlements of the tribes of man. A continent for the first time essectually explored; a vast ocean traversed by men, women, and children, voluntarily exiling themselves from the fairest regions of the old world; and a great nation grown up, in the space of two centuries, on the foundations so perilously laid by this pious band :-point me to the record, to the tradition, nay, to the fiction, of any thing, that can enter into competition with it. It is the language, not of exaggeration, but of truth and soberness, to say, that there is nothing in the accounts of Phenician, of Grecian, or of Roman colonization, that can stand in the comparison.

What new importance, then, does not the achievement acquire to our minds, when we consider that it was the deed of our fathers; that this grand undertaking was accomplished on the spot where we dwell; that the mighty region they explored is our native land; that the unrivalled enterprise they displayed is not merely a fact proposed to our admiration, but is the source of our being; that their cruel hardships are the spring of our prosperity; their amazing sufferings the seed, from which our happiness has sprung; that their weary banishment gave us a home; that to their separation from every thing which is dear and pleasant in life, we owe all the comforts, the blessings, the privileges, which make our lot the envy of mankind.


Second Extract, from the same.

It was not enough that our fathers were of England : the masters of Ireland, and the lords of Hindostan, are of England too. But our fathers were Englishmen, aggrieved, persecuted, and banished. It is a principle, amply borne out by the history of the great and powerful nations of the earth, and by that of none more than the country of which we speak, that the best fruits and choicest action of the com'mendable qualities of the national character, are to be found on the side of the oppressed few, and not of the triumphant many. As, in private character, adversity is often requisite to give a proper direction and temper to strong qualities; so the noblest traits of national character, even under the freest and most independent of hereditary governments, are commonly to be sought in the ranks of a protesting minority, or of a dissenting sect. Never was this truth more clearly illustrated than in the settlement of New England.

Could a common calculation of policy have dictated the terms of that settlement, no doubt our foundations would have been laid beneath the royal smile. Convoys and na-vies would have been solicited to waft our fathers to the coast; armies, to defend the infant communities; and the flattering patronage of princes and lords, to espouse their interests in the councils of the mother country. Happy, that our fathers enjoyed no such patronage; happy, that they fell into no such protecting hands; happy, that our foundations were silently and deeply cast, in quiet insignificance, beneath a charter of banishment, persecution, and contempt; so that, when the royal arm was at length outstretched against us, instead of a submissive child, tied down by former graces, it found a youthful giant in the land, born amidst hardships, and nourished on the rocks, indebted for no favours, and owing no duty. From the dark portals of the star chamber, and in the stern text of the acts of uniformity, the pilgrims received a commission more efficient than any that ever bore the royal seal. Their banishment to Holland was fortunate; the decline of their little company in the strange land was fortunate; the difficulties which they experienced in getting the royal consent to banish themselves to this wilderness were fortunate; all the tears and heart breakings of that ever-memorable parting at Delfthaven had the happiest influence on the rising destinies of New England. All this purified the ranks of the settlers. These rough touches of fortune brushed off the light, uncertain, selfish spirits. They made it a grave, solemn, self-denying expedition, and required of those who engaged in it, to be so too. They cast a broad shadow of thought and seriousness over the cause, and, if this sometimes deepened into melancholy and bitterness, can we find no apology for such a human weakness?

It is sad, indeed, to reflect on the disasters, which the little band of pilgrims encountered ;-sad to see a portion of them, the prey of unrelenting cupidity, treacherously embarked in an unsound, unseaworthy ship, which they are

put far

soon obliged to abandon, and crowd themselves into one vessel—one hundred persons, besides the ship's company, in a vessel of one hundred and eighty tons. One is touched at the story of the long, cold, and weary autumnal passage; of the landing on the inhospitable rocks at this dismal season, where they are deserted, before long, by the ship which had brought them, and which seemed their only hold upon the world of fellow men, -a prey to the elements and to want, and fearfully ignorant of the numbers, the power, and the temper of the savage tribes, that filled the unexplored continent, upon whose verge they had ventured. But all this wrought together for good. These trials of wandering and exile, of the ocean, the winter, the wilderness, and the savage foe, were the final assurance of success. It was these that

away from our fathers' cause all patrician softness, all hereditary claims to pre-eminence. No effeminate nobility crowded into the dark and austere ranks of the pilgrims; no Carr nor Villiers would lead on the ill-provided band of despised Puritans; no well-endowed clergy were on the alert to quit their cathedrals, and set up a pompous hierarchy in the frozen wilderness; no craving governors were anxious to be sent over to our cheerless El Dorados of ice and of snow. No; they could not say they had encouraged, patronised, or helped the pilgrims: their own cares, their own labours, their own councils, their own blood, contrived all, achieved all, bore all, sealed all. They could pot afterwards fairly pretend to reap where they had not strown: and, as our fathers reared this broad and solid fabric with pains and watchfulness, unaided, barely tolerated, it did not fall when the favour, which had always been withholden, was changed into wrath; when the arm, which had never supported, was raised to destroy. Methinks I it


that one solitary, adventurous vessel, the May-Flower of a forlorn hope, freighted with the prospects of a future state, and bound across the unknown sea." I behold it pursuing, with a thousand misgivings, the uncertain, the tedious voyage. Suns rise and set, and weeks and months pass, and winter surprises them on the deep, but brings them not the sight of the wished-for shore. I see them now scantily supplied with provisions, crowded almost to suffocation in their ill-stored prison, delayed by calms, pursuing a circuitous route ;-and now driven in fury before the raging tempest, on the high and giddy waves. The awful voice of the storm howls through the rigging ;


the labouring masts seem straining from their base; the dismal sound of the pumps is heard; the ship leaps, as it were, madly, from billow to billow; the ocean breaks, and settles with ingulfing floods over the floating deck, and beats, with deadening, shivering weight, against the staggered vessel. I see them, escaped from these perils, pursuing their all but desperate undertaking, and landed, at last, after a five months' passage, on the ice-clad rocks of Plymouth-weak and weary from the voyage, poorly armed, scantily provisioned, depending on the charity of their shipmaster for a draught of beer on board, drinking nothing but water on shore, without shelter,—without means,--surrounded by hostile tribes. Shut now the volume of history, and tell me, on any principle of human probability, what shall be the fate of this handful of adventurers.-Tell me, man of military science, in how many months were they all swept off by the thirty savage tribes, enumerated within the early limits of New England ? Tell me, politician, how long did this shadow of a colony, on which

your conventions and treaties had not smiled, languish on the distant coast? Student of history, compare for me the baffled projects, the deserted settlements, the abandoned adventures, of other times, and find the parallel of this. Was it the winter's storm, beating upon the houseless heads of women and children; was it hard labour and spare meals; was it dispase; was it the tomahawk; was it the deep malady of a blighted hope, a ruined enterprise, and a broken heart, aching, in its last moments, at the recollection of the loved and left, beyond the sea;-was it some, or all of these united, that hurried this forsaken company to their melancholy fate ?-And is it possible that neither of these causes, that not all combined, were able to blast this bud of hope !Is it possible, that, from a beginning so feeble, so frail, so worthy, not so much of admiration as of pity, there has gone forth a progress so steady, a growth so wonderful, an expansion so ample, a reality so important, a promise, yet to be fulfilled, so glorious !

I do not fear that we shall be accused of extravagance in the enthusiasm we feel at a train of events of such astonishing magnitude, novelty, and consequence, connected, by associations so intimate, with the day we now hail, with the events we now celebrate, with the pilgrim fathers of New England. Victims of persecution ! how wide an empire acknowledges the sway of your principles ! Apostles


of liberty! what millions attest the authenticity of your mission! Meek champions of truth! no stain of private interest, or of innocent blood, is on the spotless garments of your renown!

The great continents of America have become, at length, the theatre of your achievements; the Atlantic and the Pacific the highways of communication, on which your principles, your institutions, your example, are borne. From the oldest abodes of civilization, the venerable plains of Greece, to the scarcely explored range of the Cordilleras, the impulse you gave at length is felt. While other regions revere you as the leaders of this great march of humanity, we are met, on this joyful day, to offer to your memories our tribute of filial affection. The sons and daughters of the pilgrims, we have assembled on the spot where you, our suffering fathers, set foot on this happy shore. Happy, indeed, it has been for us. O that you could have enjoyed those blessings, which you prepared for your children !-that our comfortable homes could have shielded you from the wintry aįr; our abundant harvests have supplied you in time of famine; and the broad shield of our beloved country have sheltered you from the visitations of arbitrary power! We come, in our prosperity, to remember your trials; and here, on the spot where New England began to be, we come to learn, of our pilgrim fathers, a deep and lasting lesson of virtue, enterprise, patience, zeal, and faith!


Claim of the Pilgrims to the Reverence and Gratitude of their

Descendants.-0. Dewey,

Let it not be forgotten, at least by us, the immediate descendants of the Puritans--for the sake of our gratitude and our virtue, too, let it not be forgotten that, when the weary -pilgrim traversed this bleak coast, his step was lightened, and his heart was cheered, by the thoughts of a virtuous posterity; that, when our fathers touched this land, they would fain have consecrated it as a holy land ; that, whén they entered it, they lifted up their eyes towards heaven and said, “Let this be the land of refuge for the oppressed and persecuted, the land of knowledge; and, O! let it be

« AnteriorContinuar »