usually surpasses the intention of their authors; and
the peaceful members of ‘the poor, persecuted flock of Christ
,’ despairing of rest in England
, resolved to seek safety in exile.
, in its controversy with Spain
, had displayed republican virtues, and, in the reformation of its churches, had imitated the discipline of Calvin.
In its greatest dangers it had had England
for its ally; at one time it had almost become a part of the English
dominions; the ‘cautionary’ towns were still garrisoned by English regiments, some of which were friendly to the separatists; and William Brewster
, afterwards ruling elder of the church, had himself served as a diplomatist in the Low Countries
Thus the emigrants were attracted to Holland
, ‘where they heard was freedom of religion for all men.’
The departure from England
was effected with
much suffering and hazard.
The first attempt, in 1607, was prevented; but the magistrates checked the ferocity of the subordinate officers; and, after a month's arrest of the whole company, seven only of the principal men were detained a little longer in prison.
The next spring the design was renewed.
As if it
had been a crime to escape from persecution, an unfrequented heath in Lincolnshire
, near the mouth of the Humber, was the place of secret meeting.
Just as a boat was bearing a part of the emigrants to their ship, a company of horsemen appeared in pursuit, and seized on the helpless women and children who had not yet adventured on the surf.
‘Pitiful it was to see the heavy case of these poor women in distress; what weeping and crying on every side.’
But when they were apprehended, it seemed impossible to punish and