In an article yesterday we averred that the Puritan
pretence of coming to this country for freedom to worship God was an unmitigated humbug.
They enjoyed the most perfect freedom of conscience in Holland
, to which country they had removed from England
, and where they remained for eleven years. ‘"They were tolerated, in Holland
, but watched,"’ quaintly observes the philosophic author of ‘"European Settlements."’ They always have required watching, and never more than now. They did not leave Holland
, however, till they had failed in sundry efforts to undermine its institutions, nor even then till, after repeated missions to England
, they had succeeded in driving a favorable bargain with a company of merchants, who had more capital and as much sharpness as themselves, and till they obtained under sign and seal a charter, which in its magnificent endowments and grants rivalled the powers of Parliament and every court within the realm.
The company in England
with whom the Puritans had leagued themselves, under the shade of whose princely privileges they expected to grow from a mustard seed to ‘"the greatest of trees,"’ were incorporated as ‘"The Council established at Plymouth
, in the county of Devon
, for the planting, ruling, ordering and governing New England
, in America
. "’ ‘"The territory, conferred on the patentees in absolute property, with unlimited jurisdiction, the sole powers of legislation, the appointment of all officers and all forms of government,"’ extended in breadth from the 40th to the 48th degree of north latitude, and in length from the Atlantic
to the Pacific
— that is to say, nearly all the inhabited British possessions in the north of the United States
, all New England
, New York, half of New Jersey
, very nearly all Pennsylvania
, and the whole of the country west of these States, comprising, and at the time believed to comprise, much more than a million of square miles, capable of sustaining far more than two hundred millions of inhabitants, were, by a single signature of King James, given away to a single corporation within the realm, composed of but forty individuals.
The grant was absolute and exclusive; it conceded the lands and islands, the rivers and harbors, the mines and the fisheries.
Without the leave of the Council of Plymouth, not a ship might sail into a harbor from Newfoundland
to the latitude of Philadelphia
; not a skin might be purchased; not a fish might be caught on the coast; not an emigrant might tread the soil.
The patent left the emigrants at the mercy of the unrestrained power of the corporation; and it was under concessions from that plenary power, confirmed, indeed, by the English Monarch
, that institutions the most favorable to colonial liberty were established.
This last hint is corroborated, by Mr. Graham
in respect to King Charles I., also.
‘ "It is, indeed, a strange coincidence, that this arbitrary prince, at the very time when he was exercising the strictest despotism over the royalists in Virginia
, should have been cherishing the principles of liberty in New England
."’ For this charter they expended two thousand guineas in bribing the Government
, the only English colonists who were ever pious and spiritually minded enough to engage in such a transaction.
It so happens that the Puritan
emigrants never gave the reason themselves for their removal from Holland
which is set forth by their descendants.
to the Colony established at Plymouth
, set forth an ‘"Apologetical Narration,"’ in which he gave five reasons why the precious freight of the Mayflower
transferred itself to this country.
The first was because, ‘"in ten years time, whilst their Church sojourned among the Dutch
, they could not bring them to reform the neglect of observation of the Lord's day, as a Sabbath, or any other thing amiss among them.
"’ It was not enough that the Dutch
let them do as they chose; the Dutch
must do as they chose also, or else there was an ‘"irrepressible conflict"’ which would not allow them both to live in the same country.
had given them protection, peace and liberty; ‘"they did,"’ as the Secretary
himself confesses, ‘ "quietly and sweetly enjoy their Church liberties under the States,"’ but they must compel their entertainers to conform to their notions.
Nor did they complain that the Dutch
neglected to observe the Lord
's Day, but that they neglected to observe it as a Sabbath,
and availed themselves of the opinion of Luther, Calvin, and other continental reformers, that innocent amusements are permissible after the religious services of Sunday.
The second reason of the Secretary
was that the country was so hard to live in, that their countrymen were ‘"forced to return back to England
, or to live very meanly,"’ which shows that the exaggerated persecutions of England
were not so hard to bear as the deprivation of ‘"creature comforts."’ This reason, however, like the others, was in some degree a pretext, for according to a Presbyterian contemporary, many of them there ‘"lived in safety, pompe and case, enjoying their own ways and freedom."’ The third reason for removing was the wickedness and dissolute habits of the young Dutchmen
, who led astray the more godly sons of the Puritans, so that neither Prelacy nor Presbyterianism brought forth fruits of grace fit for their plucking.
Reason four: They were afraid ‘"their posterity would become Dutch
, and so lose their interest in the English
nation; they being desirous rather to enlarge his Majesty's dominions, and to live under their natural prince."’ Excellent souls!
Why didn't they stay under their ‘"natural prince,"’ and why so anxious to ‘"enlarge the dominions"’ of that persecutor of the saints?
The fifth and last reason for their removal, ‘"a great hope and increased zeal they had of laying some good foundation, or, at least, to make some way thereunto, for the propagating and advancement of the Gospel of the kingdom of Christ
, in those remote parts of the world; yes, although they should be but stepping-stones unto others for the performance of a great work."’ The ‘"Gospel of Christ
,"’ in their opinion, resided with them alone, and the way they ‘ "propagated"’ it was by killing and enslaving Indians
, burning witches, and hanging Quakers, None of these reasons set forth that they came to America
for liberty of conscience, On the contrary, the Secretary
himself says expressly they enjoyed complete religious liberty in Holland
, and that ‘"it was their own free choice and motion" ’ which induced them to depart.
And yet, from New England
Societies, orations, songs, and dinner-tables, there rises a perpetual anthem of ‘"The Pilgrims landing
, fugitives escaping from persecution!"’
The real reason of the Pilgrimage of the Puritans was their love of gain and power.--In America
, as in England
, under Cromwell
, they were the most tedious of tyrants and persecutors.
Having secured their charter, they established a spiritual despotism in America
, such as was never surpassed in the annals of High Commissioners or Star Chambers
In the volume before us are examples innumerable of the manner in which they arrested, tried, condemned, fined, imprisoned, fettered, branded, lashed, maimed, cursed, banished, hung, and left naked and unburied their brethren, in a common Christianity.
They re-enacted what Bancroft
calls ‘"the worst statute in the English code,
that which did but enforce attendance upon the parish church,"’ and with military and civil power dragged men whom they had voted hereties to hear those whom they had voted orthodox.
They allowed no one to be tried or judged for ‘"life or limb, name or estate,"’ unless the jury was made up of members of their church.
Baptists, Episcopalians, Quakers, were scourged from the land by their unsparing persecutions.
Hereafter, as occasion permits, we may give some examples of the manner in which these fine fellows practised freedom of conscience.--With gunpowder and rum they ‘"extended the kingdom of Christ
"’ among the savages, and ‘"enlarged the dominions of their natural prince"’ by squatting on the territories of the Dutch
of New Amsterdam, whom, in grateful remembrance of the kindness they had received in Holland
, they cheated out of their fairest possessions.
Whenever any foray of this kind was meditated the public mind was always prepared for it by sermons from the pulpit, in which the Dutch
were denounced as little better than heathen, whom the Lord
had delivered over to the hands of his chosen people.
They sold the African race into slavery with an energy only equal to that manifested by their descendants in stealing them back again, and went to war with England
against the principle of Taxation without Representation at the very moment, they were practicing that principle in their own legislation.
Such is the people who are now making war upon slavery, too hypocritical to be respected, but too dangerous to be despised.