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[308] before the smaller vessel was found to need repairs;
Chap. VIII.} 1620
and they entered the port of Dartmouth. After the lapse of eight precious days, they again weigh anchor; the coast of England recedes; already they are unfurling their sails on the broad ocean, when the captain of the Speedwell, with his company, dismayed at the dangers of the enterprise, once more pretends that his ship is too weak for the service. They put back to Plymouth, ‘and agree to dismiss her, and those who are willing, return to London, though this was very grievous and discouraging.’ Having thus winnowed their numbers, the little band, not of resolute men only, but wives, some far gone in pregnancy, children, infants, a floating village, yet but one hundred and two souls, went on board the single ship, which was hired only to convey them across the Atlantic; and, on the sixth day of September, 1620, thirteen years after the
Sept. 6.
first colonization of Virginia, two months before the concession of the grand charter of Plymouth, without any warrant from the sovereign of England, without any useful charter from a corporate body, the passengers in the Mayflower set sail for a new world, where the past could offer no favorable auguries.

Had New England been colonized immediately on the discovery of the American continent, the old English institutions would have been planted under the powerful influence of the Roman Catholic religion; had the settlement been made under Elizabeth, it would have been before activity of the popular mind in religion had conducted to a corresponding activity of mind in politics. The Pilgrims were Englishmen, Protestants, exiles for religion, men disciplined by misfortune, cultivated by opportunities of extensive observation, equal in rank as in rights, and bound by no code, but that of religion or the public will.

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