Assignment InstructionsThis assignment contains two short answer essay questions worth 50 points each. Each answer should be between 300-500 words....



Week Three: Colonization / Puritanism

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford Author Bio © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007


William Bradford was one of the greatest of colonial Americans, a man large in spirit and wisdom, wholly consecrated to a mission in which he regarded himself as an instrument of God. The early history of Plymouth Colony was the history of his leadership, and tiny Plymouth occupies a position in history wholly incom- mensurate with its size.

Like the patriarchs of the Old Testament, William Bradford in his annals recorded God’s “choosing” of His people, their exile, and their wanderings. Even after twelve years in Holland, as Bradford wrote in the language of Hebrews, “they knew they were pilgrims” and must follow the cloud and fire to a land promised, if at first unpromising, their new Zion. In 1630 Bradford wrote his first ten chapters, dealing with the persecutions of the Separatists in Scrooby, England, their flight to Holland in 1608, and their history until they landed at Plymouth in 1620. His “Second Book,” dealing with their history in Plymouth from 1620 until 1647, was written “in pieces,” most of it before 1646.

“Of Plimoth Plantation,” as Bradford entitled his manuscript, had an unusual history. Although its author was largely self-taught, and without training for liter- ature, the book is a classic among literary annals. Its style is at one with the char- acter and mind of its author; it has the functional propriety of the simple truth, the print of his memory, plain at times, but rising with his spirit to moments of loftiness. Without publication, it became known to the world. Five important colonial historians used and quoted from it before 1730, and Thomas Prince, the latest of them, deposited it in the “New England Library,” his treasury of Ameri- cana in the “steeple room” of the Old South Church in Boston. There Governor Thomas Hutchinson must have consulted it for his History of Massachusetts Bay (1767). Then it literally disappeared for nearly a century. In 1855 it appeared in England in the library of the bishop of Oxford. After forty-two years the British official red tape was finally cut in 1897, when an episcopal court rendered the de- cision permitting the return to Massachusetts of this precious loot of the Revolu- tion. By this time, the Pilgrim story, retold by historians and by such writers as Hawthorne and Longfellow, had already long ago become an effective part of the American myth, although the first complete edition of the manuscript had not ap- peared until 1856, 206 years after Bradford wrote his last few words upon it.

Bradford was born of a yeoman farmer and a tradesman’s daughter in York- shire. Orphaned in his first year by his father’s death and trained for farming by relatives, almost without formal education, he was a well-read man who brought a considerable library with him to Plymouth at the age of thirty. When he was twelve he had begun the earnest study of the Bible; at sixteen he joined the Sepa- ratist group then forming at nearby Scrooby, an act which taxed both courage and conviction; at eighteen he accompanied the group to Holland to escape persecu- tion, perhaps death. In Holland he lost a small patrimony in business, became a weaver, and achieved relative prosperity. He also read widely in English and Dutch, and somewhat in French, Greek, and Hebrew. At twenty-seven he was a leader of his people in Leyden, a member of the committee which arranged their

40 LITR220

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford Author Bio © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

pilgrimage. On November 11, 1620, just after the Mayflower made landfall at Cape Cod, he signed the Mayflower Compact; he was one of the group that ex- plored the unknown shore; he was one of those who, on December 11, entered Plymouth Bay in the teeth of a snowstorm and stepped ashore—according to leg- end—on Plymouth Rock. His first wife was lost overboard in his absence, one of the fifty who, of the 102 Pilgrims who reached Plymouth, were to die within the year. Among these was the first elected governor, John Carver.

Bradford, elected to succeed Governor Carver, probably had already begun to write a sort of history of the colony. The evidence is inconclusive, but it is believed that Bradford and Edward Winslow consolidated their journals and sent them for anonymous publication to George Morton, English agent for the Pilgrims. Mor- ton, as compiler, signed himself “G. Mourt,” possibly for political reasons, and A Relation or Journall of the Beginning and Proceedings of the Plantation Setled at Plimoth, generally known as Mourt’s Relation, appeared in London in 1622.

From 1621 until his death, Bradford probably possessed more power than any other colonial governor; yet he refused the opportunity to become sole pro- prietor and maintained the democratic principles suggested in the Mayflower Compact. He was reelected thirty times, for a total term of thirty-three years—in two years no elections were held, and in five terms, “by importunity,” he suc- ceeded in passing his authority to another. He persuaded the surviving Pilgrim Fa- thers to share their original rights with the entire body of Freemen; at the same time he led the small group of “Old Comers” who controlled the fishing and trad- ing monopolies, not for private gain, but to liquidate the debt to the British in- vestors who had financed their undertaking. He seldom left Plymouth, where he died. His worldly estate was a small house and some orchards and little else, but he was one of America’s first great men.

The first edition of the History of Plymouth Plantation, edited by Charles Deane, appeared in Boston, 1856, but it has been superseded. The standard edition is History of Plymouth Plantation, 1620–1647, 2 vols., edited, with notes, by W. C. Ford, Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1912; but even this edition is unreliable, there being some twenty-five minor errors in the transcription of the Mayflower Compact alone. For the general reader the best edition is Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620–1647, edited by Samuel Eliot Morison, New York, 1952. The selections in this text have been reproduced from this edition, in which spelling and punctuation follow modern practice.

Mourt’s Relation, first published as A Relation or Journall of the Beginning and Proceedings of the Plantation Setled at Plimoth, London, 1622, is available in new editions, edited by Theodore Bester- man, London, 1939, and Dwight B. Heath, 1963.

Studies include Bradford Smith, Bradford of Plymouth, 1951; Samuel Eliot Morison, “Introduction,” Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620–1647, 1952; and Perry D. Westbrook, William Bradford, 1978.

William Bradford: Author Bio 41

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I

© The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007


From Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I

Chapter IX: Of Their Voyage, and How They Passed the Sea; and of Their Safe Arrival at Cape Cod

September 6. These troubles1 being blown over, and now all being compact to- gether in one ship, they put to sea again with a prosperous wind, which continued divers days together, which was some encouragement unto them; yet, according to the usual manner, many were afflicted with seasickness. And I may not omit here a special work of God’s providence. There was a proud and very profane young man, one of the seamen, of a lusty, able body, which made him the more haughty; he would always be contemning the poor people in their sickness and cursing them daily with grievous execrations; and did not let to tell them that he hoped to help to cast half of them overboard before they came to their journey’s end, and to make merry with what they had; and if he were by any gently reproved, he would curse and swear most bitterly. But it pleased God before they came half seas over, to smite this young man with a grievous disease, of which he died in a desperate manner, and so was himself the first that was thrown overboard. Thus his curses light on his own head, and it was an astonishment to all his fellows for they noted it to be the just hand of God upon him.

After they had enjoyed fair winds and weather for a season, they were en- countered many times with cross winds and met with many fierce storms with which the ship was shroudly2 shaken, and her upper works made very leaky; and one of the main beams in the midships was bowed and cracked, which put them in some fear that the ship could not be able to perform the voyage. So some of the chief of the company, perceiving the mariners to fear the sufficiency of the ship as appeared by their mutterings, they entered into serious consultation with the mas- ter and other officers of the ship, to consider in time of the danger, and rather to return than to cast themselves into a desperate and inevitable peril. And truly there was great distraction and difference of opinion amongst the mariners themselves; fain would they do what could be done for their wages’ sake (being now near half the seas over) and on the other hand they were loath to hazard their lives too des-

From Of Plymouth Plantation 1620–1647 by William Bradford, edited by Samuel Eliot Morison, copy- right 1952 by Samuel Eliot Morison and renewed 1980 by Emily M. Beck. Used by permission of Al- fred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. For on-line information about other Random House, Inc. books and authors, see the Internet web site at

1. The colonists first set sail “about the 5th of August” in two ships: the Speedwell, which had brought the original Pilgrims from Holland, and the Mayflower, whose passengers were chiefly miscellaneous emigrants. In two attempts, beset by coastal storms, the Speedwell, of only sixty tons, proved unseawor- thy, and the Pilgrims, along with the hardy remnant of other adventurers, finally left Plymouth, Septem- ber 16, 1620, on the Mayflower, a ship of 180 tons. 2. I.e., shrewdly, here meaning “bitterly,” “severely.”

42 LITR220

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I

© The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

perately. But in examining of all opinions, the master and others affirmed they knew the ship to be strong and firm under water; and for the buckling of the main beam, there was a great iron screw the passengers brought out of Holland, which would raise the beam into his place; the which being done, the carpenter and mas- ter affirmed that with a post put under it, set firm in the lower deck and other- ways bound, he would make it sufficient. And as for the decks and upper works, they would caulk them as well as they could, and though with the working of the ship they would not long keep staunch, yet there would otherwise be no great danger, if they did not overpress her with sails. So they committed themselves to the will of God and resolved to proceed.

In sundry of these storms the winds were so fierce and the seas so high, as they could not bear a knot of sail, but were forced to hull3 for divers days together. And in one of them, as they thus lay at hull in a mighty storm, a lusty young man called John Howland, coming upon some occasion above the gratings was, with a seele4 of the ship, thrown into sea; but it pleased God that he caught hold of the topsail halyards which hung overboard and ran out at length. Yet he held his hold (though he was sundry fathoms under water) till he was hauled up by the same rope to the brim of the water, and then with a boat hook and other means got into the ship again and his life saved. And though he was something ill with it, yet he lived many years after and became a profitable member both in church and com- monwealth. In all this voyage there died but one of the passengers, which was William Butten, a youth, servant to Samuel Fuller, when they drew near the coast.

But to omit other things (that I may be brief) after long beating at sea they fell with that land which is called Cape Cod;5 the which being made and certainly known to be it, they were not a little joyful. After some deliberation had amongst themselves and with the master of the ship, they tacked about and resolved to stand for the southward (the wind and weather being fair) to find some place about Hudson’s River for their habitation.6 But after they had sailed that course about half the day, they fell amongst dangerous shoals and roaring breakers, and they were so far entangled therewith as they conceived themselves in great danger; and the wind shrinking upon them withal, they resolved to bear up again for the Cape and thought themselves happy to get out of those dangers before night over- took them, as by God’s good providence they did. And the next day they got into the Cape Harbor7 where they rid in safety.

A word or two by the way of this cape. It was thus first named by Captain Gosnold and his company,8 Anno 1602, and after by Captain Smith9 was called Cape James; but it retains the former name amongst seamen. Also, that point which first showed those dangerous shoals unto them they called Point Care, and

3. To proceed slowly with the wind under very short sail. 4. A roll or lurch. 5. “At daybreak 9/19 Nov. 1620, they sighted the Highlands of Cape Cod” [Morison’s note]. The dates in Bradford’s manuscript are Old Style (following the Julian calendar), ten days earlier than the same dates according to the present (Gregorian) calendar. In these notes, important verifiable dates are given in both forms, as above. 6. Morison’s extended note here gives proof that they were indeed bound for the mouth of the Hudson, within the northern limits of the Virginia Company, which had authorized their settlement. 7. Morison notes that this is now Provincetown Harbor and that they arrived on November 11/21, 1620, the passage from Plymouth having taken sixty-five days. 8. “Because they took much of that fish there” [Bradford’s note]. I.e., cod. 9. Captain John Smith of Virginia made a map of this coast.

William Bradford, from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I 43

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I

© The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

Tucker’s Terrour; but the French and Dutch to this day call it Malabar by reason of those perilous shoals and the losses they have suffered there.

Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element. And no marvel if they were thus joyful, seeing wise Seneca was so affected with sailing a few miles on the coast of his own Italy, as he affirmed, that he had rather remain twenty years on his way by land than pass by sea to any place in a short time, so tedious and dreadful was the same unto him.1

But here I cannot but stay and make a pause, and stand half amazed at this poor people’s present condition; and so I think will the reader, too, when he well considers the same. Being thus passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation (as may be remembered by that which went before), they had now no friends to welcome them nor inns to entertain or refresh their weather- beaten bodies; no houses or much less towns to repair to, to seek for succour. It is recorded in Scripture2 as a mercy to the Apostle and his shipwrecked company, that the barbarians showed them no small kindness in refreshing them, but these savage barbarians, when they met with them (as after will appear) were readier to fill their sides full of arrows than otherwise. And for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of that country know them to be sharp and violent, and subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search an unknown coast. Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and wild men—and what multitudes there might be of them they knew not. Neither could they, as it were, go up to the top of Pisgah3 to view from this wilderness a more goodly country to feed their hopes; for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to the heavens) they could have little solace or content in respect of any outward objects. For summer being done, all things stand upon them with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hue. If they looked behind them, there was the mighty ocean which they had passed and was now as a main bar and gulf to separate them from all the civil parts of the world. If it be said they had a ship to succour them, it is true; but what heard they daily from the master and company? But that with speed they should look out a place (with their shallop) where they would be, at some near distance; for the season was such as he would not stir from thence till a safe harbor was discovered by them, where they would be, and he might go without danger; and that victuals consumed apace but he must and would keep sufficient for themselves and their return. Yea, it was muttered by some that if they got not a place in time, they would turn them and their goods ashore and leave them. Let it also be considered what weak hopes of supply and succour they left behind them, that might bear up their minds in this sad condition and trials they were under; and they could not

1. Bradford cites Epistle LIII. His words, “he had rather remain * * * in a short time,” are translated from Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, LIII, Section 5. 2. Bradford cites Acts 28. Verse 2 refers to the Melitans’ kindness to the shipwrecked Paul. 3. From Mount Pisgah in Palestine (also called Mount Nebo; in Arabic, Ras Siyagha; now in Jordan), Moses saw the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 34:1–4).

44 LITR220

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I

© The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

but be very small. It is true, indeed, the affections and love of their brethren at Leyden4 was cordial and entire towards them, but they had little power to help them or themselves; and how the case stood between them and the merchants at their coming away hath already been declared.

What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and His grace? May not and ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: “Our fathers were English- men which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilder- ness; but they cried unto the Lord, and He heard their voice and looked on their adversity,”5 etc. “Let them therefore praise the Lord, because He is good: and His mercies endure forever. Yea, let them which have been redeemed of the Lord, shew how He hath delivered them from the hand of the oppressor. When they wandered in the desert wilderness out of the way, and found no city to dwell in, both hungry and thirsty, their soul was overwhelmed in them.” “Let them confess before the Lord His lovingkindness and His wonderful works before the sons of men.”6

Chapter X: Showing How They Sought out a Place of Habitation; and What Befell Them Thereabout

Being thus arrived at Cape Cod the 11th of November,7 and necessity calling them to look out a place for habitation (as well as the master’s and mariners’ importu- nity); they having brought a large shallop with them out of England, stowed in quarters in the ship, they now got her out and set their carpenters to work to trim her up; but being much bruised and shattered in the ship with foul weather, they saw she would be long in mending. Whereupon a few of them tendered themselves to go by land and discover those nearest places, whilst the shallop was in mending; and the rather because as they went into that harbor there seemed to be an opening some two or three leagues off, which the master judged to be a river. It was con- ceived there might be some danger in the attempt, yet seeing them resolute, they were permitted to go, being sixteen of them well armed under the conduct of Cap- tain Standish,8 having such instructions given them as was thought meet.

They set forth the 15th of November;9 and when they had marched about the space of a mile by the seaside, they espied five or six persons with a dog coming towards them, who were savages; but they fled from them and ran up into the woods, and the English followed them, partly to see if they could speak with them, and partly to discover if there might not be more of them lying in ambush. But the Indians seeing themselves thus followed, they again forsook the woods and ran away on the sands as hard as they could, so as they could not come near them but followed them by the track of their feet sundry miles and saw that they had come the same way. So, night coming on, they made their rendezvous and set out their

4. Leyden in Holland, where nearly half the exiled Separatists remained when these Pilgrims set out for America by way of England. 5. Bradford cites Deuteronomy 26:5–7, referring to God’s deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt. 6. Bradford cites “107 Psa; v. 1, 2, 4, 5, 8,” of which these closing lines, beginning with “Let them therefore praise the Lord * * *,” are a paraphrase. 7. I.e., November 21. 8. Captain Myles Standish. Cf. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Courtship of Miles Standish. Stan- dish, engaged as their military leader, was not a Pilgrim, but became a most dependable supporter. 9. I.e., November 25. The record of these explorations is amplified in Mourt’s Relation, presumably by Bradford and Winslow.

William Bradford, from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I 45

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I

© The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

sentinels, and rested in quiet that night; and the next morning followed their track till they had headed a great creek and so left the sands, and turned another way into the woods. But they still followed them by guess, hoping to find their dwellings; but they soon lost both them and themselves, falling into such thickets as were ready to tear their clothes and armor in pieces; but were most distressed for want of drink. But at length they found water and refreshed themselves, being the first New England water they drunk of, and was now in great thirst as pleas- ant unto them as wine or beer had been in foretimes.

Afterwards they directed their course to come to the other shore, for they knew it was a neck of land they were to cross over, and so at length got to the sea- side and marched to this supposed river, and by the way found a pond of clear, fresh water, and shortly after a good quantity of clear ground where the Indians had formerly set corn, and some of their graves. And proceeding further they saw new stubble where corn had been set the same year; also they found where lately a house had been, where some planks and a great kettle was remaining, and heaps of sand newly paddled with their hands. Which, they digging up, found in them divers fair Indian baskets filled with corn, and some in ears, fair and good, of divers colours, which seemed to them a very goodly sight (having never seen any such before). This was near the place of that supposed river they came to seek, unto which they went and found it to open itself into two arms with a high cliff of sand in the entrance1 but more like to be creeks of salt water than any fresh, for aught they saw; and that there was good harborage for their shallop, leaving it further to be discovered by their shallop, when she was ready. So, their time lim- ited them being expired, they returned to the ship lest they should be in fear of their safety; and took with them part of the corn and buried up the rest. And so, like the men from Eshcol, carried with them of the fruits of the land and showed their brethren;2 of which, and their return, they were marvelously glad and their hearts encouraged.

After this, the shallop being got ready, they set out again for the better discov- ery of this place, and the master of the ship desired to go himself. So there went some thirty men but found it to be no harbor for ships but only for boats. There was also found two of their houses covered with mats, and sundry of their imple- ments in them, but the people were run away and could not be seen. Also there was found more of their corn and of their beans of various colours; the corn and beans they brought away, purposing to give them full satisfaction when they should meet with any of them as, about some six months afterward they did, to their good content.3

And here is to be noted a special providence of God, and a great mercy to this poor people, that here they got seed to plant them corn the next year, or else they might have starved, for they had none nor any likelihood to get any till the season

1. According to Morison, the pond of clear water gives its name to Pond Village; the place where the corn was found is still called Corn Hill; and the river is Pamet River, a salt creek. All three are located in Truro. 2. Numbers 13:23–26. From the valley of Eshcol in Canaan, the advance scouts of Moses brought back samples of the fruits of the Promised Land. 3. Morison notes that this second expedition explored the Pamet and Little Pamet rivers from Novem- ber 28 to November 30 and that descendants of these Nauset Indians still survive at Mashpee, Cape Cod.

46 LITR220

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I

© The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

had been past, as the sequel did manifest. Neither is it likely they had had this, if the first voyage had not been made, for the ground was now all covered with snow and hard frozen; but the Lord is never wanting unto His in their greatest needs; let His holy name have all the praise.

The month of November being spent in these affairs, and much foul weather falling in, the 6th [16th] of December they sent out their shallop again with ten of their principal men and some seamen, upon further discovery, intending to circu- late that deep bay of Cape Cod. The weather was very cold and it froze so hard as the spray of the sea lighting on their coats, they were as if they had been glazed. Yet that night betimes they got down into the bottom of the bay, and as they drew near the shore they saw some ten or twelve Indians very busy about something. They landed about a league or two from them,4 and had much ado to put ashore anywhere—it lay so full of flats. Being landed, it grew late and they made them- selves a barricado with logs and boughs as well as they could in the time, and set out their sentinel and betook them to rest, and saw the smoke of the fire the sav- ages made that night. When morning was come they divided their company, some to coast along the shore in the boat, and the rest marched through the woods to see the land, if any fit place might be for their dwelling. They came also to the place where they saw the Indians the night before, and found they had been cut- ting up a great fish like a grampus,5 being some two inches thick of fat like a hog, some pieces whereof they had left by the way. And the shallop found two more of these fishes dead on the sands, a thing usual after storms in that place, by reason of the great flats of sand that lie off.

So they ranged up and down all that day, but found no people, nor any place they liked. When the sun grew low, they hasted out of the woods to meet with their shallop, to whom they made signs to come to them into a creek hard by,6 the which they did at high water; of which they were very glad, for they had not seen each other all that day since the morning. So they made them a barricado as usu- ally they did every night, with logs, stakes and thick pine boughs, the height of a man, leaving it open to leeward, partly to shelter them from the cold and wind (making their fire in the middle and lying round about it) and partly to defend them from any sudden assaults of the savages, if they should surround them; so being very weary, they betook them to rest. But about midnight they heard a hideous and great cry, and their sentinel called “Arm! arm!” So they bestirred them and stood to their arms and shot off a couple of muskets, and then the noise ceased. They concluded it was a company of wolves or such like wild beasts, for one of the seamen told them he had often heard such a noise in Newfoundland.

So they rested till about five of the clock in the morning; for the tide, and their purpose to go from thence, made them be stirring betimes. So after prayer they prepared for breakfast, and it being day dawning it was thought best to be carry- ing things down to the boat. But some said it was not best to carry the arms down, others said they would be the readier, for they had lapped them up in their coats from the dew; but some three or four would not carry theirs till they went them-

4. In the present Eastham, perhaps on Kingsbury Beach or one of the beaches to the north. 5. Probably a pilot whale, a species that still beaches itself periodically on that coast. 6. The Herring River, in Eastham.

William Bradford, from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I 47

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I

© The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

selves. Yet as it fell out, the water being not high enough, they laid them down on the bank side and came up to breakfast.

But presently, all on the sudden, they heard a great and strange cry, which they knew to be the same voices they heard in the night, though they varied their notes; and one of their company being abroad came running in and cried, “Men, Indians! Indians!” And withal, their arrows came flying amongst them. Their men ran with all speed to recover their arms, as by the good providence of God they did. In the meantime, of those that were there ready, two muskets were discharged at them, and two more stood ready in the entrance of their rendezvous but were commanded not to shoot till they could take full aim at them. And the other two charged again with all speed, for there were only four had arms there, and de- fended the barricado, which was first assaulted. The cry of the Indians was dread- ful, especially when they saw their men run out of the rendezvous toward the shallop to recover their arms, the Indians wheeling about upon them. But some running out with coats of mail on, and cutlasses in their hands, they soon got their arms and let fly amongst them and quickly stopped their violence. Yet there was a lusty man, and no less valiant, stood behind a tree within half a musket shot, and let his arrows fly at them; he was seen [to] shoot three arrows, which were all avoided. He stood three shots of a musket, till one taking full aim at him and made the bark or splinters of the tree fly about his ears, after which he gave an extra- ordinary shriek and away they went, all of them. They left some to keep the shal- lop and followed them about a quarter of a mile and shouted once or twice, and shot off two or three pieces, and so returned. This they did that they might con- ceive that they were not afraid of them or any way discouraged.

Thus it pleased God to vanquish their enemies and give them deliverance; and by His special providence so to dispose that not any one of them were either hurt or hit, though their arrows came close by them and on every side [of ] them; and sundry of their coats, which hung up in the barricado, were shot through and through. Afterwards they gave God solemn thanks and praise for their deliver- ance, and gathered up a bundle of their arrows and sent them into England after- ward by the master of the ship, and called that place the First Encounter.7

From hence they departed and coasted all along but discerned no place likely for harbor; and therefore hasted to a place that their pilot (one Mr. Coppin who had been in the country before) did assure them was a good harbor, which he had been in, and they might fetch it before night; of which they were glad for it began to be foul weather.

After some hours’ sailing it began to snow and rain, and about the middle of the afternoon the wind increased and the sea became very rough, and they broke their rudder, and it was as much as two men could do to steer her with a couple of oars. But their pilot bade them be of good cheer for he saw the harbor; but the storm increasing, and night drawing on, they bore what sail they could to get in, while they could see. But herewith they broke their mast in three pieces and their sail fell overboard in a very grown sea, so as they had like to have been cast away. Yet by God’s mercy they recovered themselves, and having the flood8 with them,

7. Now First Encounter Beach, in Eastham. 8. “The mean rise and fall of tide there is about 9 ft. Plymouth Bay * * * is a bad place to enter in thick weather with a sea running and night coming on” [Morison’s note].

48 LITR220

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I

© The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

struck into the harbor. But when it came to, the pilot was deceived in the place, and said the Lord be merciful unto them for his eyes never saw that place before; and he and the master’s mate would have run her ashore in a cove full of breakers before the wind. But a lusty seaman which steered bade those which rowed, if they were men, about with her or else they were all cast away; the which they did with speed. So he bid them to be of good cheer and row lustily, for there was a fair sound before them, and he doubted not but they should find one place or other where they might ride in safety. And though it was very dark and rained sore, yet in the end they got under the lee of a small island and remained there all that night in safety.9 But they knew not this to be an island till morning, but were divided in their minds; some would keep the boat for fear they might be amongst the Indi- ans, others were so wet and cold they could not endure but got ashore, and with much ado got fire (all things being so wet); and the rest were glad to come to them, for after midnight the wind shifted to the northwest and it froze hard.

But though this had been a day and night of much trouble and danger unto them, yet God gave them a morning of comfort and refreshing (as usually He doth to His children) for the next day was a fair, sunshining day, and they found them- selves to be on an island secure from the Indians, where they might dry their stuff, fix their pieces and rest themselves; and gave God thanks for His mercies in their manifold deliverances. And this being the last day of the week, they prepared there to keep the Sabbath.

On Monday they sounded the harbor and found it fit for shipping, and marched into the land and found divers cornfields and little running brooks, a place (as they supposed) fit for the situation.1 At least it was the best they could find, and the season and their present necessity made them glad to accept of it. So they returned to their ship again with this news to the rest of the people, which did much comfort their hearts.

On the 15th of December they weighed anchor to go to the place they had discovered, and came within two leagues of it, but were fain to bear up again; but the 16th day, the wind came fair, and they arrived safe in this harbor. And after- wards took better view of the place, and resolved where to pitch their dwelling; and the 25th day began to erect the first house for common use to receive them and their goods.2

1630–1650 1856

9. Morison identifies the anchorage as the lee of Saquish Head, and the island there as Clarks Island, where they spent Saturday and Sunday, December 9/19–10/20. 1. “Here is the only contemporary authority for the ‘Landing of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock’ on Monday, 11/21 Dec. 1620. * * * The landing took place from the shallop, not the Mayflower. * * * Nor is it clear that they landed on * * * Plymouth Rock, [although] it would have been very con- venient for that purpose at half tide” [Morison’s note]. 2. I.e., the Mayflower reached Plymouth Harbor on December 16/26, but the Pilgrims did not actually begin to build ashore for nine more days. Mourt’s Relation shows that the interval was used in explor- ing for the best possible site.

William Bradford, from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I 49

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book II

© The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007


From Of Plymouth Plantation, Book II

[The Mayflower Compact (1620)]

I shall a little return back, and begin with a combination made by them before they came ashore; being the first foundation of their government1 in this place. Occasioned partly by the discontented and mutinous speeches that some of the strangers amongst them had let fall from them in the ship: That when they came ashore they would use their own liberty, for none had power to command them, the patent they had being for Virginia and not for New England, which belonged to another government, with which the Virginia Company had nothing to do.2

And partly that such an act by them done, this their condition considered, might be as firm as any patent, and in some respects more sure.

The form was as followeth:3


We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620.

From Of Plymouth Plantation 1620–1647 by William Bradford, edited by Samuel Eliot Morison, copy- right 1952 by Samuel Eliot Morison and renewed 1980 by Emily M. Beck. Used by permission of Al- fred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. For on-line information about other Random House, Inc. books and authors, see the Internet web site at

1. The Mayflower Compact is important as an early American covenant instituting civil government by common consent with reference to the common good. Although it was enacted in an emergency, it fol- lowed the precedent of the church covenants already familiar to Puritans, and, as Bradford’s words sug- gest, it was the “first foundation” of direct popular government in America, while feudal forms persisted in Europe. 2. The Pilgrims and the “Adventurers” who sailed with them were alike authorized by patent from the Virginia Company, whose territory extended northward only to Manhattan Island. 3. A text differing from this one only in a few insignificant words was published in Mourt’s Relation in 1622.

50 LITR220

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book II

© The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

After this they chose, or rather confirmed, Mr. John Carver (a man godly and well approved amongst them) their Governor for that year. And after they had provided a place for their goods, or common store (which were long in unlading for want of boats, foulness of the winter weather and sickness of divers)4 and begun some small cottages for their habitation; as time would admit, they met and consulted of laws and orders, both for their civil and military government as the necessity of their condition did require, still adding thereunto as urgent occasion in several times, and as cases did require.

In these hard and difficult beginnings they found some discontents and mur- murings arise amongst some, and mutinous speeches and carriages in other; but they were soon quelled and overcome by the wisdom, patience, and just and equal carriage of things, by the Governor and better part, which clave faithfully together in the main.

[Compact with the Indians (1621)]

All this while5 the Indians came skulking about them, and would sometimes show themselves aloof off, but when any approached near them, they would run away; and once they stole away their tools where they had been at work and were gone to dinner. But about the 16th of March, a certain Indian came boldly amongst them and spoke to them in broken English, which they could well understand but marveled at it. At length they understood by discourse with him, that he was not of these parts, but belonged to the eastern parts where some English ships came to fish, with whom he was acquainted and could name sundry of them by their names, amongst whom he had got his language. He became profitable to them in acquainting them with many things concerning the state of the country in the east parts where he lived, which was afterwards profitable unto them; as also of the people here, of their names, number and strength, of their situation and distance from this place, and who was chief amongst them. His name was Samoset. He told them also of another Indian whose name was Squanto, a native of this place, who had been in England and could speak better English than himself.

Being, after some time of entertainment and gifts dismissed, a while after he came again, and five more with him, and they brought again all the tools that were stolen away before, and made way for the coming of their great Sachem, called Massasoit. Who, about four or five days after, came with the chief of his friends and other attendance, with the aforesaid Squanto. With whom, after friendly en- tertainment and some gifts given him, they made a peace with him (which hath now continued this 24 years)6 in these terms:

1. That neither he nor any of his should injure or do hurt to any of their people.

4. Several; various persons. 5. That is, the first two months of 1621, “a starving time.” The settlers built a large common house and several cottages, and caught a meager quantity of game and fish, while disease took a frightful toll. “Of the 102 Mayflower passengers who reached Cape Cod, * * * by the summer of 1621 the total deaths numbered 50 [including] all but a few of the women” [Morison’s note]. 6. This first American treaty, with the Wampanoag people, was faithfully kept for fifty-four years, until 1675, when Massasoit’s son, Metacomet, or King Philip, began those savage attacks, known as King Philip’s War, which included the Deerfield Massacre.

William Bradford, from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book II 51

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book II

© The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

2. That if any of his did hurt to any of theirs, he should send the offender, that they might punish him.

3. That if anything were taken away from any of theirs, he should cause it to be restored; and they should do the like to his.

4. If any did unjustly war against him, they would aid him; if any did war against them, he should aid them.

5. He should send to his neighbours confederates to certify them of this, that they might not wrong them, but might be likewise comprised in the conditions of peace.

6. That when their men came to them, they should leave their bows and ar- rows behind them.

After these things he returned to his place called Sowams,7 some 40 miles from this place, but Squanto continued with them and was their interpreter and was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation. He directed them how to set their corn, where to take fish, and to procure other com- modities, and was also their pilot to bring them to unknown places for their profit, and never left them till he died. He was a native of this place, and scarce any left alive besides himself. He was carried away with divers others by one Hunt, a mas- ter of a ship, who thought to sell them for slaves in Spain. But he got away for England and was entertained by a merchant in London, and employed to New- foundland and other parts, and lastly brought hither into these parts by one Mr. Dermer, a gentleman employed by Sir Ferdinando Gorges and others for discovery and other designs in these parts.8

[First Thanksgiving (1621)]

They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by de- grees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.9

7. Now Barrington, Rhode Island. 8. Squanto, or Tisquantum, had an interesting story. The English slaver Hunt kidnapped him in 1614, and it was 1618 before he got back to his native place, probably by escaping from Dermer’s ship off Cape Cod. Finding that his entire tribe, the Patuxets, had been destroyed by a pestilence in 1617, he ap- parently adopted the Pilgrims, in whose service he died of a fever, in September 1622, while guiding their trading party. 9. The actual date of the “First Thanksgiving” is not recorded, but it was in the autumn of 1621, since Winslow’s letter describing it, printed in Mourt’s Relation, is dated December 11, 1621. He relates that their store of wild meat and produce was such that they were able to entertain Massasoit and “some 90 men” for three days with feasting and competitive games.

52 LITR220

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book II

© The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

[Narragansett Challenge (1622)]

Soon after this ship’s departure,1 that great people of the Narragansetts, in a brav- ing manner, sent a messenger unto them with a bundle of arrows tied about with a great snakeskin, which their interpreters told them was a threatening and a chal- lenge. Upon which the Governor, with the advice of others, sent them a round an- swer that if they had rather have war than peace, they might begin when they would; they had done them no wrong, neither did they fear them or should they find them unprovided. And by another messenger sent the snakeskin back with bullets in it. But they would not receive it, but sent it back again.2 But these things I do but mention, because they are more at large already put forth in print by Mr. Winslow3 at the request of some friends. And it is like the reason was their own ambition who (since the death of so many of the Indians) thought to domi- neer and lord it over the rest, and conceived the English would be a bar in their way, and saw that Massasoit took shelter already under their wings.

But this made them the more carefully to look to themselves,4 so as they agreed to enclose their dwellings with a good strong pale,5 and make flankers6 in convenient places with gates to shut, which were every night locked, and a watch kept; and when need required, there was also warding7 in the daytime. And the company was by the Captain’s and the Governor’s advice divided into four squadrons, and everyone had their quarter appointed them unto which they were to repair upon any sudden alarm. And if there should be any cry of fire, a com- pany were appointed for a guard, with muskets, whilst others quenched the same, to prevent Indian treachery. This was accomplished very cheerfully, and the town impaled round by the beginning of March, in which every family had a pretty gar- den plot secured.

And herewith I shall end this year. Only I shall remember one passage more, rather of mirth than of weight. On the day called Christmas Day, the Governor called them out to work as was used.8 But the most of this new company9 excused themselves and said it went against their consciences to work on that day. So the Governor told them that if they made it matter of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed; so he led away the rest and left them. But when

1. The ship Fortune, which had come unexpectedly in December with settlers for whom there were no provisions, necessitating the reduction to half rations for the entire settlement for the remainder of the winter. 2. “Canonicus, sachem of the Narragansett, sent the challenge; Squanto did the interpreting. This hap- pened in Jan. 1622” [Morison’s note]. Longfellow used the episode dramatically in The Courtship of Miles Standish. 3. Edward Winslow, one of the Pilgrims, and probable co-author with Bradford of Mourt’s Relation, returned to England as agent for the Pilgrims in 1623 and there published Good News from New Eng- land (London, 1624), to which Bradford here refers. 4. Made the colonists more careful to defend themselves. 5. Palings; poles sunk in the ground for the walls of a fortification. 6. The flanks of a bastion, or a structure extending beyond the wall line of a fortification. 7. Guarding. 8. Puritans objected to the celebration of Christmas, both because of its secularization and because De- cember 25 was not the true date of the birth of Christ. 9. The “new company,” those who arrived on the Fortune, were “Adventurers,” not Puritans.

William Bradford, from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book II 53

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book II

© The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

they came home at noon from their work, he found them in the street at play, openly; some pitching the bar, and some at stool-ball1 and such like sports. So he went to them and took away their implements and told them that was against his conscience, that they should play and others work. If they made the keeping of it matter of devotion, let them keep their houses; but there should be no gaming or reveling in the streets. Since which time nothing hath been attempted that way, at least openly.

[Thomas Morton of Merrymount (1628)]

About some three or four years before this time, there came over one Captain Wollaston (a man of pretty parts) and with him three or four more of some emi- nency, who brought with them a great many servants, with provisions and other implements for to begin a plantation. And pitched themselves in a place within the Massachusetts2 which they called after their Captain’s name, Mount Wollaston. Amongst whom was one Mr. Morton,3 who it should seem had some small ad- venture of his own or other men’s amongst them, but had little respect amongst them, and was slighted by the meanest servants. Having continued there some time, and not finding things to answer their expectations nor profit to arise as they looked for, Captain Wollaston takes a great part of the servants and transports them to Virginia, where he puts them off at good rates, selling their time to other men; and writes back to one Mr. Rasdall (one of his chief partners and accounted their merchant) to bring another part of them to Virginia likewise, intending to put them off there as he had done the rest. And he, with the consent of the said Rasdall, appointed one Fitcher to be his Lieutenant and govern the remains of the Plantation till he or Rasdall returned to take further order thereabout. But this Morton abovesaid, having more craft than honesty (who had been a kind of petti- fogger of Furnival’s Inn)4 in the others’ absence watches an opportunity (com- mons being but hard amongst them) and got some strong drink and other junkets and made them a feast; and after they were merry, he began to tell them he would give them good counsel. “You see,” saith he, “that many of your fellows are car- ried to Virginia, and if you stay till this Rasdall return, you will also be carried away and sold for slaves with the rest. Therefore I would advise you to thrust out this Lieutenant Fitcher, and I, having a part in the Plantation, will receive you as my partners and consociates; so may you be free from service, and we will con- verse, plant, trade, and live together as equals and support and protect one an- other,” or to like effect. This counsel was easily received, so they took opportunity and thrust Lieutenant Fitcher out o’doors, and would suffer him to come no more amongst them, but forced him to seek bread to eat and other relief from his neigh- bours till he could get passage for England.

1. Pitching the bar was a sort of javelin throwing; stool-ball, something like cricket. 2. Now the Wollaston area of Quincy, Massachusetts. 3. Thomas Morton (1590?–1647), like most of Captain Wollaston’s settlers, was not a Puritan, but an Anglican, an “Adventurer” who had come to found a plantation and to trade. Naturally the Pilgrims did not like either his “worldly” ways or his commercial rivalry. His side of the resulting feud is told in his amusing New English Canaan (London, 1637). 4. A “pettifogger” was a small-scale lawyer, one dealing in petty cases. Furnival’s Inn was one of the London Inns of Court, occupied by lawyers and students.

54 LITR220

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book II

© The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

After this they fell to great licentiousness and led a dissolute life, pouring out themselves into all profaneness. And Morton became Lord of Misrule,5 and main- tained (as it were) a School of Atheism. And after they had got some goods into their hands, and got much by trading with the Indians, they spent it as vainly in quaffing and drinking, both wine and strong waters in great excess (and, as some reported) £10 worth in a morning. They also set up a maypole, drinking and danc- ing about it many days together, inviting the Indian women for their consorts, dancing and frisking together like so many fairies, or furies, rather; and worse practices. As if they had anew revived and celebrated the feasts of the Roman god- dess Flora, or the beastly practices of the mad Bacchanalians. Morton likewise, to show his poetry composed sundry rhymes and verses, some tending to lascivious- ness, and others to the detraction and scandal of some persons, which he affixed to this idle or idol maypole. They changed also the name of their place, and in- stead of calling it Mount Wollaston they call it Merry-mount, as if this jollity would have lasted ever. But this continued not long, for after Morton was sent for England (as follows to be declared) shortly after came over that worthy gentleman Mr. John Endecott,6 who brought over a patent under the broad seal for the gov- ernment of the Massachusetts. Who, visiting those parts, caused that maypole to be cut down and rebuked them for their profaneness and admonished them to look there should be better walking. So they or others now changed the name of their place again and called it Mount Dagon.7

Now to maintain this riotous prodigality and profuse excess, Morton, think- ing himself lawless, and hearing what gain the French and fishermen made by trad- ing of pieces, powder and shot to the Indians, he as the head of this consortship began the practice of the same in these parts. And first he taught them how to use them, to charge and discharge, and what proportion of powder to give the piece, according to the size or bigness of the same; and what shot to use for fowl and what for deer. And having thus instructed them, he employed some of them to hunt and fowl for him, so as they became far more active in that employment than any of the English, by reason of their swiftness of foot and nimbleness of body, being also quick-sighted and by continual exercise well knowing the haunts of all sorts of game. So as when they saw the execution that a piece would do, and the benefit that might come by the same, they became mad (as it were) after them and would not stick to give any price they could attain to for them; accounting their bows and arrows but baubles in comparison of them. * * *

O, the horribleness of this villainy! How many both Dutch and English have been lately slain by those Indians thus furnished, and no remedy provided; nay, the evil more increased, and the blood of their brethren sold for gain (as is to be feared) and in what danger all these colonies are in is too well known. O that princes and parliaments would take some timely order to prevent this mischief and at length to

5. Formerly, in England, a comic master of ceremonies for “revels,” masquerades, and other “worldly” celebrations. 6. John Endecott (1589?–1665), several times governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, appears in Hawthorne’s “The Maypole of Merry Mount” (the present episode), in Hawthorne’s “Endicott and the Red Cross,” and in Longfellow’s New England Tragedies (as the persecutor of Quakers). 7. Dagon was the pagan god of the Philistines, whose temple Samson destroyed (Judges 16:23–31).

William Bradford, from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book II 55

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book II

© The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

suppress it by some exemplary punishment upon some of these gain-thirsty mur- derers, for they deserve no better title, before their colonies in these parts be over- thrown by these barbarous savages thus armed with their own weapons, by these evil instruments and traitors to their neighbours and country! But I have forgot myself and have been too long in this digression; but now to return.

This Morton having thus taught them the use of pieces, he sold them all he could spare, and he and his consorts determined to send for many out of England and had by some of the ships sent for above a score. The which being known, and his neighbours meeting the Indians in the woods armed with guns in this sort, it was a terror unto them who lived stragglingly and were of no strength in any place. And other places (though more remote) saw this mischief would quickly spread over all, if not prevented. Besides, they saw they should keep no servants, for Morton would entertain any, how vile soever, and all the scum of the country or any discontents would flock to him from all places, if this nest was not broken. And they should stand in more fear of their lives and goods in short time from this wicked and debased crew than from the savages themselves.

So sundry of the chief of the straggling plantations, meeting together, agreed by mutual consent to solicit those of Plymouth (who were then of more strength than them all) to join with them to prevent the further growth of this mischief, and suppress Morton and his consorts before they grew to further head and strength. Those that joined in this action, and after contributed to the charge of sending him for England, were from Piscataqua, Naumkeag, Winnisimmet, Wessagusset, Nan- tasket and other places where any English were seated. Those of Plymouth being thus sought to by their messengers and letters, and weighing both their reasons and the common danger, were willing to afford them their help though themselves had least cause of fear or hurt. So, to be short, they first resolved jointly to write to him, and in a friendly and neighbourly way to admonish him to forbear those courses, and sent a messenger with their letters to bring his answer.

But he was so high as he scorned all advice, and asked who had to do with him, he had and would trade pieces with the Indians, in despite of all, with many other scurrilous terms full of disdain. They sent him a second time and bade him be better advised and more temperate in his terms, for the country could not bear the injury he did. It was against their common safety and against the King’s procla- mation. He answered in high terms as before; and that the King’s proclamation was no law, demanding what penalty was upon it. It was answered, more than he could bear—His Majesty’s displeasure. But insolently he persisted and said the King was dead and his displeasure with him, and many the like things. And threat- ened withal that if any came to molest him, let them look to themselves for he would prepare for them.

Upon which they saw there was no way but to take him by force; and having so far proceeded, now to give over would make him far more haughty and inso- lent. So they mutually resolved to proceed, and obtained of the Governor of Ply- mouth to send Captain Standish and some other aid with him, to take Morton by force. The which accordingly was done. But they found him to stand stiffly in his defense, having made fast his doors, armed his consorts, set divers dishes of pow- der and bullets ready on the table; and if they had not been over-armed with drink, more hurt might have been done. They summoned him to yield, but he kept his

56 LITR220

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

William Bradford from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book II

© The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

house and they could get nothing but scoffs and scorns from him. But at length, fearing they would do some violence to the house, he and some of his crew came out, but not to yield but to shoot; but they were so steeled with drink as their pieces were too heavy for them. Himself with a carbine, overcharged and almost half filled with powder and shot, as was after found, had thought to have shot Captain Standish; but he stepped to him and put by his piece and took him. Nei- ther was there any hurt done to any of either side, save that one was so drunk that he ran his own nose upon the point of a sword that one held before him, as he en- tered the house; but he lost but a little of his hot blood.8

Morton they brought away to Plymouth, where he was kept till a ship went from the Isle of Shoals for England, with which he was sent to the Council of New England, and letters written to give them information of his course and carriage. And also one was sent at their common charge to inform their Honours more par- ticularly and to prosecute against him. But he fooled of the messenger, after he was gone from hence, and though he went for England yet nothing was done to him, not so much as rebuked, for aught was heard, but returned the next year.9

Some of the worst of the company were dispersed and some of the more modest kept the house till he should be heard from. But I have been too long about so un- worthy a person, and bad a cause. 1630–1650 1856

8. Morton, referring to Standish as “Captain Shrimp,” says that they came at him “like a flock of wild geese” to the blind and he simply yielded to prevent bloodshed. 9. He returned in 1629, but in 1630 Endecott arrested him again, confiscated his property, and sent him to England, where again he escaped punishment. Morton returned to America finally in 1643; ordered to leave Massachusetts, he went to Rhode Island and later to Maine, where he died in 1647.

William Bradford, from Of Plymouth Plantation, Book II 57

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

Thematic Section Introduction

Puritanism © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007


By the time of Elizabeth’s reign, the Church of England was clearly Protestant in its separation from Rome. As devout members of the Church of England, the ear- liest English Puritans had no desire to produce a schism. Although they wished that the reform could be carried much further toward simplifying or “purifying” the creeds and rituals and diminishing the authority of the bishops, they foresaw no official break. The reign of James I (1603–1625), however, brought about the Separatist movement that sent the Pilgrims first to the Netherlands and then to Plymouth. Other English Puritans chafed at home and then settled in Massachu- setts Bay, as divisions within the church culminated in the elevation of Archbishop Laud, thereby placing the Church of England in the control of a tyrant who was determined to root out “Calvinist” dissenters, whether Presbyterian or Puritan, by legal persecution. The consequent soul-searching among Puritans—who were never a “sect” in the sense that Presbyterians were—carried them closer to certain fundamental tenets of John Calvin (1509–1564), and the most powerful and radi- cal among them, unwilling to submit to the cruel laws against them, soon formed the core of the New England clergy.

The New England Puritans did not regard the word of Calvin as the word of ultimate authority, however. They agreed with him when they thought him reason- able, but they disregarded many aspects of his theology that they found unreason- able. The ideas of Martin Luther (1483–1546), the earlier leader of the great Reformation, remained powerful with the Puritans and permanently influenced both religious and civil institutions of American democracy. Concepts of authority, both civil and ecclesiastical, had been slowly weakening everywhere; they were shattered by Luther’s doctrine of the “priesthood of believers,” wherever his words were received. “Neither Pope nor Bishop nor any other man,” he said, “has a right to impose a single syllable of law upon a Christian man without his consent.” Al- though Calvin’s Institutes authorized a theological system in some ways as rigid as that of the Church of Rome, its ultimate authority was the consensus of its constituents, not a clerical hierarchy. From this concept sprang the New England “congregational,” or later “town,” meeting, an important model for subsequent self-governance. Protestants in earlier stages of the Reformation held that the reli- gion of the ruler should be the religion of the country, but Calvin, like Catholic thinkers, insisted that the church should be independent, with the state as its ser- vant. In early New England, this thinking produced a brief Puritan oligarchy, where the leading clergy, powerful and well trained, dominated temporal as well as spiri- tual matters. By 1700, however, the clergy’s civil powers had begun to erode before the rising tide of independence inherent in Puritanism itself and in the developing secular life of New England. As the new century began its turn toward revolution and independence, John Wise nicely bridged the gap between spiritual and civil self-government in his pamphlet A Vindication of the Government of New En- gland Churches (1717), reprinted in 1772 as revolutionary fervor increased.

In common with other advocates of strict Christian orthodoxy, American Pu- ritans believed that an omnipotent God created the first man, Adam, in His own perfect image, that Adam in his willfulness broke God’s covenant, and that, as

58 LITR220

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

Thematic Section Introduction

Puritanism © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

The New England Primer put it, “In Adam’s fall we sinned all.” The Puritans’ dis- tinctive Calvinism arose from their acceptance of Calvin’s dogmas of predestina- tion and grace, which set him sharply apart from Luther on the one hand and the Roman Catholic Church on the other. For Calvin and the Puritans, the redemp- tion of the individual came only by regeneration, the work of the spirit of God “in the souls of the elect and of them alone.” They put special emphasis on the doctrine of original depravity. Although Adam’s children were not mere auto- matons of evil impulse, since they, like Adam, had a limited freedom of will to make good or evil choices, still nothing in an individual’s personal power could mitigate the original sinfulness of human nature or challenge the omnipotence of God. By this way of thinking, redemption was a gift of God’s saving grace, made to those He predestined to receive it. Faith alone, the antinomian heresy for which Anne Hutchinson was banished, would not ensure salvation. Nor could a person earn grace by good works—as the Arminian heresy claimed—since good works, in themselves, could only be the result and fruition of grace. Christ was the Re- deemer, representing God’s New Covenant with mankind, as Adam represented the Old Covenant.

These Calvinistic doctrines, given classic recapitulation by Jonathan Edwards when Puritanism was already waning, may seem excessively grim to readers of the twenty-first century. In today’s often stereotypical view, the Puritans appear as dour, ascetic folk using harsh laws and censorship to impose their gloomy stan- dards on others. Most of the Puritans would have voted to put that stereotype in the stocks. Puritans in general were lovers of life. Their clergy were well- educated scholars in whom the Renaissance lamp of humanism still burned. Puri- tan men and women were not forbidden to wear brightly colored clothes—if they could afford to do so; they developed a pleasing domestic architecture and skillful arts and crafts on American soil; they liked drink even though they despised drunkards; they feared both ignorance and emotional evangelism, and they made of their religious thought a rigorous intellectual discipline. The Puritans were the earliest colonists to insist on common schools; they founded the first college (Har- vard, 1636) and the first printing press in the colonies (Cambridge, 1638); and they were responsible for the most abundant and memorable literature created in the colonies before 1740. Their influence on American life and American institu- tions has been profound.

Puritanism 59

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

Anne Bradstreet Author Bio © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

ANNE BRADSTREET (1612?–1672)

Anne Bradstreet’s place in literary history is the result not only of her rarity as a woman poet in the seventeenth century but also of her genuine inspiration and force of character, which have survived for three hundred years in her works. This first noteworthy American poet was born in Northampton, England, probably in 1612. Her Puritan father, Thomas Dudley, was a steward of the estates of the Earl of Lincoln. Thomas Dudley was a man of studious character, and his daughter had the advantage of good tutoring, with access to the earl’s considerable library at Sempringham Castle. She read avidly, drawn chiefly to the serious and religious writings of the Puritan world, and very little toward those of that other world, just waning, in which there still lived at her birth Shakespeare and Cervantes, Ben Jonson and Francis Bacon. She says of herself that as a child of six or seven she “found much comfort in reading the Scriptures.”

In 1628, at the age of sixteen, she married Simon Bradstreet, a grave and bril- liant young Puritan, who had been trained at Cambridge and by her father. Two years later, Anne and Simon Bradstreet and her parents joined Governor John Winthrop and other prominent nonconformists aboard the Arbella, part of a fleet of four ships that brought the first large group of settlers to the colony at Massa- chusetts Bay. Anne Bradstreet’s father and husband were active in the governance of the colony: Thomas Dudley served four terms as governor; Simon Bradstreet served as a judge and represented Massachusetts at the court of Charles II when curtailment of the charter was threatened in 1661. After his wife’s death, he was governor of the colony for ten years.

In Charlestown, Cambridge, and Ipswich and at the Bradstreets’ permanent home near Andover on the Merrimack, Anne Bradstreet’s life was no less taxing than that of the governors with whom she sailed. From childhood she had suffered continual bouts of ill health, and sickness was rampant in the early days of the colony. Food was so short the first year that a ship had to be sent to Ireland to buy provisions, and the water was unsafe to drink. She gave birth to eight children, the first born about four years after they arrived in America. In a whimsical poem she recorded “I had eight birds hatcht in one nest, / Four Cocks there were, and Hens the rest.” All eight children thrived, and all but one survived her. Among her promi- nent descendants were the Channings; the R. H. Danas, father and son; Holmes the poet and Holmes the jurist; and, collaterally, Edwin Arlington Robinson.

In spite of the hardships of early colonial life and the duties of her busy house- hold, Anne Bradstreet seems to have turned continually to authorship. Manuscripts of the poems in her first volume bear dates from 1632 to 1643, and the preface de- scribes these works as “the fruit but of some few hours curtailed from her sleep and other refreshments.” It is unclear whether she intended publication. She wrote a dedicatory poem to her father in 1642, but when in 1650 her sister’s husband, John Woolridge, had her work published in London with the title The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up in America * * * By a Gentlewoman in Those Parts, he claimed to be acting without her consent. The preface describes the author as “a woman, honored and esteemed where she lives, for her gracious demeanor, her eminent parts, her pious conversation, her courteous disposition, her exact diligence in her

60 LITR220

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

Anne Bradstreet Author Bio © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

place and discreet managing of her family occasions.” She had written all the poems in this volume by the time she was thirty.

These early poems, consisting chiefly of rhymed discourses and chronicles, were agreeable to the taste of the period. In what the author called “Quaternions,” or groups of four, she discussed “The Four Elements,” “The Four Humours,” “The Four Ages of Man,” “The Four Seasons,” and the “Four Monarchies.” Her read- ing of Sir Walter Raleigh’s History of the World and Bishop Ussher’s Annales is evident in this work. She consciously emulated La Semaine by the sixteenth-cen- tury French poet Guillaume du Bartas. Bradstreet’s poems in praise of various au- thors suggest other influences more helpful to her development as a poet. There are traces of Edmund Spenser, Sir Philip Sidney, John Donne, Francis Quarles, and George Herbert in her more lyrical poems. She enlivened her lyrics with her obser- vations of nature and the familiar objects of her daily life. Her poems of religious experience and domestic intimacy are genuine, delicate, and charming. Most of them were written after The Tenth Muse appeared, one at least as late as 1669. About 1666 she revised all her poems for an authorized edition, not published until after her death, and completed the poem “Contemplations,” a work of ar- resting integrity.

Among her surviving prose writings, her “Meditations” deserve to be particu- larly remembered for their lucid simplicity of style and their wise and generous spirit. She collected them at the request of her second son, Simon, and they were dedicated to him in 1664. She intended them as a legacy for her children and made particular note of their being her own ideas and not derived from her reading: “I have avoided encroaching upon others’ conceptions because I would leave you nothing but my own, though in value they fall short of all in this kind.”

The nature poetry of many of the stanzas of “Contemplations” is effective and lyrical. Her handling of the extended last line of the “Contemplations” stanza, and of the difficult stanza form of “The Prologue,” shows considerable technical skill. One of her principal contributions to posterity is what she revealed, through astute personal observation, of the first generation of New Englanders.

The first edition of Anne Bradstreet’s writings was The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up in America * * *, London, 1650, unsigned. The second edition, revised and enlarged by the author, for the first time in- cluding the “Contemplations,” was posthumously published as Several Poems Compiled with Great Va- riety of Wit and Learning, Boston, 1678. This was reprinted in 1758. The Works of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse, edited by J. H. Ellis, 1867, reprinted 1932, includes biographical and critical com- ments. In this edition the prose “Meditations” first appeared. A collection, The Tenth Muse (1650), Meditations * * * and Other Works, edited by Josephine K. Piercy, appeared in 1966. Jeannine Hensley edited The Works of Anne Bradstreet, 1967. Joseph R. McElrath, Jr., and Allan P. Robb edited The Complete Works of Anne Bradstreet, 1981. The texts that follow are from Ellis’s edition, which repro- duces those of the 1678 edition. The capitalization, spelling, and punctuation have been normalized.

A biography is Elizabeth Wade White, Anne Bradstreet: “The Tenth Muse,” 1971. Critical studies in- clude Ann Stanford, Anne Bradstreet: The Worldly Puritan, 1974; and Wendy Martin, An American Triptych: Anne Bradstreet, Emily Dickinson, Adrienne Rich, 1984.

Anne Bradstreet: Author Bio 61

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

Anne Bradstreet Contemplations © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007




Some time now past in the autumnal tide, When Phoebus2 wanted but one hour to bed, The trees all richly clad, yet void of pride, Were gilded o’er by his rich golden head. Their leaves and fruits seemed painted, but was true, 5 Of green, of red, of yellow, mixed hue; Rapt were my senses at this delectable view.


I wist not what to wish. “Yet sure,” thought I, “If so much excellence abide below, How excellent is He that dwells on high, 10 Whose power and beauty by His works we know? Sure He is goodness, wisdom, glory, light, That hath this under world so richly dight: More heaven than earth was here, no winter and no night.”


Then on a stately oak I cast mine eye, 15 Whose ruffling top the clouds seemed to aspire; How long since thou wast in thine infancy? Thy strength and stature, more thy years admire. Hath hundred winters passed since thou wast born. Or thousand since thou brak’st thy shell of horn? 20 If so, all these as nought eternity doth scorn.

1. “Contemplations” probably was not written before 1666. It is Bradstreet’s most independent work and contains a number of her most inspired passages. In spite of its casual tone, this poem is unified. Its subject as a whole is the comparison of human life with the life of nonhuman nature as the poet ob- served it among the wild and wooded hills of the Merrimack, where she lived, near Andover, Massachu- setts. Stanzas 1–7 recognize the beauty of external nature, and the sun as its generative force; stanzas 8–20 recall man’s fall in the midst of this Eden and the promise of his redemption and immortality; stanzas 21–28 observe the felicity of nonhuman creatures, absolved from the responsibility of moral choice—first the Merrimack and its fish, second the nightingale and other birds, each representing a kind of cycle; finally, stanzas 29–33 return to the plight of man, encumbered in life by wrong choices and insecurity, whose only hope for continuity is to find his name “graved in the white stone” of re- demption. 2. In Greek, “the bright one,” an epithet for the sun or for the sun god, Apollo.

62 LITR220

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

Anne Bradstreet Contemplations © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007


Then higher on the glistering sun I gazed, Whose beams was shaded by the leafy tree; The more I looked the more I grew amazed, And softly said, “What glory’s like to thee? 25 Soul of this world, this universe’s eye, No wonder some made thee a deity; Had I not better known, alas, the same had I.


“Thou as a bridegroom from thy chamber rushes And as a strong man, joys to run a race,3 30 The morn doth usher thee with smiles and blushes, The earth reflects her glances in thy face. Birds, insects, animals, with vegetive,4

Thy heart from death and dullness doth revive: And in the darksome womb of fruitful nature dive. 35


“Thy swift annual and diurnal course, Thy daily straight and yearly oblique path, Thy pleasing fervor and thy scorching force, All mortals here the feeling knowledge hath. Thy presence makes it day, thy absence night, 40 Quaternal seasons caused by thy might: Hail, creature full of sweetness, beauty, and delight!


“Art thou so full of glory that no eye Hath strength thy shining rays once to behold? And is thy splendid throne erect so high 45 As to approach it can no earthly mould? How full of glory then must thy Creator be, Who gave this bright light luster unto thee: Admired, adored forever, be that majesty!”


Silent, alone, where none or saw or heard, 50 In pathless paths I led my wand’ring feet, My humble eyes to lofty skies I reared,

3. See Psalm 19:4–5. 4. Vegetable.

Anne Bradstreet, Contemplations 63

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

Anne Bradstreet Contemplations © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007

To sing some song my mazed Muse thought meet. My great Creator I would magnify, That nature had thus decked liberally: 55 But ah, and ah, again, my imbecility!


I heard the merry grasshopper then sing, The black clad cricket bear a second part; They kept one tune and played on the same string, Seeming to glory in their little art. 60 Shall creatures abject thus their voices raise, And in their kind resound their Maker’s praise, Whilst I, as mute, can warble forth no higher lays?


When present times look back to ages past, And men in being fancy those are dead, 65 It makes things gone perpetually to last And calls back months and years that long since fled; It makes a man more aged in conceit5

Than was Methuselah or ’s grandsire6 great While of their persons and their acts his mind doth treat. 70


Sometimes in Eden fair he seems to be, Sees glorious Adam there made lord of all, Fancies the apple dangle on the tree That turned his sovereign to a naked thrall. Who like a miscreant’s driven from that place 75 To get his bread with pain and sweat of face: A penalty imposed on his backsliding race.


Here sits our grandame in retired place, And in her lap her bloody Cain7 new-born; The weeping imp oft looks her in the face, 80 Bewails his unknown hap and fate forlorn; His mother sighs to think of paradise, And how she lost her bliss to be more wise, Believing him that was, and is, father of lies.

5. Thought or conception. 6. See Genesis 5:18–27. According to this account, Methuselah lived 969 years; his grandfather, Jared, 962 years. 7. Cain is “bloody” because he was to become the first murderer; see Genesis 4:8.

64 LITR220

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

Anne Bradstreet Contemplations © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007


Here Cain and Abel come to sacrifice;8 85 Fruits of the earth and fatlings each do bring; On Abel’s gift the fire descends from skies, But no such sign on false Cain’s offering; With sullen hateful looks he goes his ways, Hath thousand thoughts to end his brother’s days, 90 Upon whose blood his future good he hopes to raise.


There Abel keeps his sheep, no ill he thinks, His brother comes, then acts his fratricide, The virgin earth of blood her first draught drinks, But since that time she often hath been cloyed. 95 The wretch with ghastly face and dreadful mind Thinks each he sees will serve him in his kind, Though none on earth but kindred near then could he find.


Who fancies not his looks now at the bar, His face like death, his heart with horror fraught? 100 Nor malefactor ever felt like war When deep despair with wish of life hath fought. Branded with guilt and crushed with treble woes, A vagabond to land of Nod he goes; A city builds, that walls might him secure from foes. 105


Who thinks not oft upon the fathers’ ages? Their long descent, how nephews sons they saw, The starry observations of those sages, And how their precepts to their sons were law, How Adam sighed to see his progeny 110 Clothed all in his black sinful livery, Who neither guilt nor yet the punishment could fly.


Our life compare we with their length of days; Who to the tenth of theirs doth now arrive? And though thus short we shorten many ways, 115 Living so little while we are alive, In eating, drinking, sleeping, vain delight. So unawares comes on perpetual night And puts all pleasures vain unto eternal flight.

8. Cf. the source of ll. 85–105 in Genesis 4:1–16.

Anne Bradstreet, Contemplations 65

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

Anne Bradstreet Contemplations © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007


When I behold the heavens as in their prime, 120 And then the earth, though old, still clad in green, The stones and trees insensible of time, Nor age nor wrinkle on their front are seen; If winter come, and greenness then do fade, A spring returns, and they more youthful made. 125 But man grows old, lies down, remains where once he’s laid.


By birth more noble than those creatures all, Yet seems by nature and by custom cursed; No sooner born but grief and care makes fall That state obliterate he had at first: 130 Nor youth nor strength nor wisdom spring again, Nor habitations long their names retain, But in oblivion to the final day remain.


Shall I then praise the heavens, the trees, the earth, Because their beauty and their strength last longer? 135 Shall I wish there or never to had birth, Because they’re bigger and their bodies stronger? Nay, they shall darken, perish, fade, and die, And when unmade so ever shall they lie, But man was made for endless immortality. 140


Under the cooling shadow of a stately elm Close sat I by a goodly river’s side, Where gliding streams the rocks did overwhelm; A lonely place, with pleasures dignified. I once that loved the shady woods so well, 145 Now thought the rivers did the trees excel, And if the sun would ever shine, there would I dwell.


While on the stealing stream I fixed mine eye, Which to the longed-for ocean held its course, I marked, nor crooks nor rubs9 that there did lie 150 Could hinder aught, but still augment its force: “O happy flood,” quoth I, “that holds thy race Till thou arrive at thy belovèd place, Nor is it rocks or shoals that can obstruct thy pace!

9. Neither bends nor obstructions.

66 LITR220

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

Anne Bradstreet Contemplations © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007


“Nor is’t enough that thou alone may’st slide, 155 But hundred brooks in thy clear waves do meet; So hand in hand along with thee they glide To Thetis’1 house, where all embrace and greet: Thou emblem true of what I count the best, O could I lead my rivulets to rest, 160 So may we press to that vast mansion ever blest.


“Ye fish which in this liquid region bide, That for each season have your habitation, Now salt, now fresh, where you think best to glide, To unknown coasts to give a visitation, 165 In lakes and ponds you leave your numerous fry, So nature taught, and yet you know not why, You wat’ry folk that know not your felicity.


“Look how the wantons frisk to taste the air, Then to the colder bottom straight they dive; 170 Eftsoon to Neptune’s glassy hall repair To see what trade they great ones there do drive, Who forage o’er the spacious sea-green field, And take the trembling prey before it yield, Whose armor is their scales, their spreading fins their shield.” 175


While musing thus with contemplation fed, And thousand fancies buzzing in my brain, The sweet-tongued Philomel2 perched o’er my head, And chanted forth a most melodious strain, Which rapt me so with wonder and delight, 180 I judged my hearing better than my sight, And wished me wings with her a while to take my flight.

1. A Greek divinity who lived in the depths of the sea. 2. The nightingale. Here, as often, the allusion is only poetic; the nightingale was not found in the American colonies.

Anne Bradstreet, Contemplations 67

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

Anne Bradstreet Contemplations © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007


“O merry bird,” said I, “that fears no snares, That neither toils nor hoards up in thy barn, Feels no sad thoughts, nor cruciating cares 185 To gain more good or shun what might thee harm; Thy clothes ne’er wear, thy meat is everywhere, Thy bed a bough, thy drink the water clear; Reminds3 not what is past, nor what’s to come doth fear.


“The dawning morn with songs thou dost prevent,4 190 Sets hundred notes unto thy feathered crew, So each one tunes his pretty instrument And warbling out the old, begin anew. And thus they pass their youth in summer season, Then follow thee into a better region, 195 Where winter’s never felt by that sweet airy legion.”


Man at the best a creature frail and vain, In knowledge ignorant, in strength but weak, Subject to sorrows, losses, sickness, pain, Each storm his state, his mind, his body break; 200 From some of these he never finds cessation, But day or night, within, without, vexation, Troubles from foes, from friends, from dearest, near’st relation.


And yet this sinful creature, frail and vain, This lump of wretchedness, of sin and sorrow, 205 This weather-beaten vessel wracked with pain, Joys not in hope of an eternal morrow; Nor all his losses, crosses, and vexation, In weight, in frequency and long duration, Can make him deeply groan for that divine translation. 210

3. Then signifying “remembers.” 4. Then meaning “to anticipate,” or “to come before.”

68 LITR220

Perkins−Perkins: Selections from American Literature

Anne Bradstreet Contemplations © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2007


The mariner that on smooth waves doth glide Sings merrily and steers his bark with ease, As if he had command of wind and tide, And now become great master of the seas; But suddenly a storm spoils all the sport, 215 And makes him long for a more quiet port, Which ’gainst all adverse winds may serve for fort.


So he that faileth in this world of pleasure, Feeding on sweets, that never bit of th’ sour, That’s full of friends, of honor, and of treasure, 220 Fond fool, he takes this earth ev’n for heaven’s bower. But sad affliction comes and makes him see Here’s neither honor, wealth, nor safety; Only above is found all with security.


O Time, the fatal wrack of mortal things, 225 That draws oblivion’s curtains over kings, Their sumptuous monuments, men know them not, Their names without a record are forgot, Their parts, their ports, their pomp’s all laid in th’ dust, Nor wit nor gold nor buildings ’scape time’s rust; 230 But he whose name is graved in the white stone5

Shall last and shine when all of these are gone. 1666? 1678

5. Revelation 2:17.

Anne Bradstreet, Contemplations 69