experiment in self-government under pioneer conditions these books are priceless; as human documents, they illuminate the Puritan
character; as for “literary” value in the narrow sense of that word, neither Bradford
seems to have thought of literary effect.
Yet the leader of the Pilgrims has passages of grave sweetness and charm, and his sketch of his associate, Elder Brewster
, will bear comparison with the best English biographical writing of that century.
is perhaps more varied in tone, as he is in matter, but he writes throughout as a ruler of men should write, with “decent plainness and manly freedom.”
His best known pages, justly praised by Tyler
and other historians of American thought, contain his speech before the General Court in 1645 on the nature of true liberty.
No paragraphs written in America
previous to the Revolution would have given more pleasure to Abraham Lincoln
, but it is to be feared that Lincoln
never saw Governor Winthrop
's book, though his own ancestor, Samuel Lincoln
of Hinglam, lived under Winthrop
The theory of government held by the dominant party of the first two generations of New England
pioneers has often been called a “theocracy,”