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The Pilgrims of New England A Tale of the Early American Settlers   By: (1805-1880)

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In the following story, an attempt has been made to illustrate the manners and habits of the earliest Puritan settlers in New England, and the trials and difficulties to which they were subjected during the first years of their residence in their adopted country. All the principal incidents that are woven into the narrative are strictly historical, and are derived from authentic sources, which give an impartial picture both of the virtues and the failings of these remarkable emigrants. Unhappily, some of these incidents prove but too clearly, how soon many of these exiles 'for conscience sake' forgot to practice those principles of religious liberty and toleration, for the preservation and enjoyment of which they had themselves abandoned home and kindred, and the church of their forefathers; and they tend to lessen the feelings of respect and admiration with which their piety, and their disinterested spirit, must necessarily inspire us. We cannot but regret to find how early, in many of the Puritan communities, that piety became tinged with fanaticism, and that free spirit degenerated into bigotry and intolerance in their treatment of others, who had an equal claim with themselves to a freedom of private judgement, and to the adoption or rejection of any peculiar forms or mode of discipline.

It is hoped, that a story founded on the history of these admirable, but sometimes misguided, men, may prove interesting to many who have hitherto been but slightly acquainted with the fate of their self exiled countrymen; and may tend to remove the prejudice with which, in many minds, they are regarded: for, while we remember their errors and infirmities, we should also remember that their faults were essentially those of the age in which they lived, and the education they had received; while their virtues were derived from the pure faith that they possessed, and which was dearer to them than aught on earth beside.




‘The breaking waves dashed high On a stern and rock hound coast: And the woods against a stormy sky, Their giant branches tost. And the heavy night hung dark The hills and waters o'er, When a hand of exiles moored their bark On the wild New England shore.’ HEMANS.

It was, indeed, a ‘stern and rock bound coast’ beneath which the gallant little Mayflower furled her tattered sails, and dropped her anchor, on the evening of the eleventh of November, in the year 1620. The shores of New England had been, for several days, dimly descried by her passengers, through the gloomy mists that hung over the dreary and uncultivated tract of land towards which their prow was turned; but the heavy sea that dashed against the rocks, the ignorance of the captain and his crew with regard to the nature of the coast, and the crazy state of the deeply laden vessel, had hitherto prevented their making the land. At length the ship was safely moored in a small inlet, beyond the reach of the foaming breakers; and the Pilgrim Fathers hastened to leave the vessel in which they had so long been imprisoned, and, with their families, to set foot on the land that was henceforth to be their home. Cold, indeed, was the welcome which they received from their adopted country; and cheerless was the view that met their gaze, as they landed on a massy rock of granite, at the foot of a precipitous cliff, and looked along the barren, inhospitable shore, and over the dark waters which they had so lately crossed.

But hope was strong in the hearts of these exiles; and the faith that had led them to seek these untrodden shores, had not deserted them during their long and tempestuous voyage; and they looked upward through the gloom and dreariness that surrounded them, and fixed their trusting eyes on Him who had guided them in safety over the great deep, and brought them at length to a resting place... Continue reading book >>

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