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GOVERNOUR BRADFORD'S LETTER BOOK.
[Page 339-the preceding pages wanting.]
To our beloved and right well esteemed friend Mr. William Bradford Governour these, but inscribed thus:
To our beloved friends Mr. William Bradford, Mr. Isaac Allerton, Mr. Edward Winslow, and the rest, whom they think fit to acquaint therewith.
Two first, that the planters there might live
WO things (beloved friends) we have endeavoured to effect, touching comfortably and contentedly. 2d, that some returns might be made hither for the satisfying and encouragement of the adventurers, but to neither of these two can we yet attain. Nay, if it be as some of them report which returned in the Catherine, it is almost impossible to hope for it, since, by their sayings, the slothfulness of one part of you, and the weakness of the other part, is such, that nothing can go well forward. And although we do not wholly credit these reports, yet surely, either the country is not good where you are, for habitation; or else, there is something amiss amongst you; and we much fear the willing are too weak and the strong too idle. And because we will not stand upon the number of the objections made by them against you, we have sent them here enclosed, that you may see them and answer them. [These are those which are inserted and answered before in this book; namely, before Liford's letters, where those letters should also have been placed, but they came not then to hand and I thought better to put them in, than to omit them.]
As for such as will needs be upon their particulars now that they are gotten over, you must be sure to make such covenants with them, as that first or last the company be satisfied for all their charge. Neither must you proceed to these agreements and consultations with many at once, otherwise how easy might they make a lead in rebellion, which have so long done it in cheating and idleness.
Touching Mr. Weston, his disturbing of you about that £100 taken up for Mr. Brewer, except we conclude with Solomon that oppression maketh a wise man mad, we cannot but wonder at it, seeing under his own hand, it is apparently and particularly expressed, summed up and sold with the rest of his adventures, so as no sober man can possibly question it. 2dly, had it not been sold, Mr. Brewer might well have had it, to pay himself part of a debt which Mr. Weston oweth him for commodities sold to him, which he saith amounteth to above £100, as he can prove by good testimony. 3dly, if it had not been apparently sold, Mr. Beauchamp who is of the company also, unto whom he oweth a great deal more, had long ago attached it (as he did other's 16ths) and so he could not have demanded it, either of you or us.
And if he will not believe our testimony here about, who shall believe his, either in this, or any other matters. It is a dangerous case, when a man groweth naught in prosperity, and worse in adversity, and
what can the end of all this be, but more and more misery. And for conclusion with him, you may shew him what we have wrote about him, and if that satisfy him not, but that he shall still follow his mad and malicious practices against you, warn him out of your precincts, and let it be upon his peril to set foot thereon; it being indeed no reason that a whole plantation should be disturbed or endamaged by the frantick humours of any one man whatsoever.
Now further for yourselves; as the power of government is fallen upon you, both by lot and desert (as we are persuaded) so your troubles and cares have been so much the more hitherto; and we would not have you think of easing yourselves, till you have either made things better, or ended your warfare; for it is best that the world afford us these crosses, lest we should forget the meditation of heaven.
And we pray you all even look to yourselves, and your ways; that there be not amongst you some cause or occasion of these evil men's insultings and bravery upon you, as they do, that we charge you with nothing, but are ready to make your just defence at all times against opposites; yet let it not offend you, that we wish you to look to yourselves, as first that you walk close with God, being fervent and frequent in prayer, instruction, and doctrine, both openly and privately. 2dly, that you instruct and bring up your young ones in the knowledge and fear of God, restraining them from idleness and profanation of the Sabbath. 3dly, that you freely and readily entertain any honest men, into your church, estate and society, though with great infirmities and difference of judgment; taking heed of too great straitness and singularity even in that particular. 4thly, that there be fervent love and close cleaving together among you that are fearers of God, without secret whispering or undermining one of another, and without contempt or neglect of such as are weak and helpless, if honest, among you. This do, and in all things be humble, cheerful, and thankful; that if you cannot grow rich in this world, yet you may be rich in grace; and if you can send us no other treasure, yet let all that visit you, bring from you the fame of honesty, religion, and godliness, which, we trust, shall comfort us more than all else you can send us in this world.
At a word, though we be detected of folly, ignorance, want of judgment, yet let no man charge us with dishonesty, looseness, or unconscionableness; but though we lose our labours or adventures, or charges, yea our lives; yet let us not lose one jot of our innocence, integrity, holiness, fear, and comfort with God.
And, thus ceasing for this time to trouble you further; praying God to bless and prosper you, and sanctify all your crosses and losses, that they may turn to your great profit and comfort in the end, with hearty salutations to you all, we lovingly take leave of you, from London, April 7, 1624.
Your assured lovers and friends,
[Now follows the first letters we received after the breach; for Mr. Thornell and the rest never replied nor writ more unto us, being partly ashamed of what they had done and written.]
To our beloved friends Mr. William Bradford, Mr. Isaac Allerton, Mr. William Brewster, and the rest of the general society of Plymouth in New England, salutations.
HOUGH the thing we feared be come upon us, and the evils we Sove against have overtaken us; yet cannot we forget you, nor our friendship and fellowship, which together we have had some years; wherein, though our expressions have been small, yet our hearty affections towards you (unknown by face) have been no less than to our nearest friends, yea even to our own selves. And though your and our friend, Mr. Winslow, can tell you the estate of things here, and what hath befallen us; yet lest we should seem to neglect you, to whom, by a wonderful providence of God, we are so nearly united ; we have thought good once more to write unto you, and the arguments of our letter must consist of these three points, first to shew you what is here befallen, 2dly, the reason and cause of that which is fallen, 3dly, our purposes and desires towards you hereafter.
The former course for the generality here is wholly dissolved from that course which was held. And whereas you and we were formerly sharers and partners in all voyages and dealings, this way is now so no more, but you and we are left to bethink ourselves, what course to take in the future, that your lives and our monies be not lost. And this, as ourselves first saw, so have we begun to practise, as we thought best for your and our safety for hereafter; and it standeth you no less in hand seriously to consider what is best to do, that you may both continue good conscience with God, and procure your best safety in this world.
The reasons and causes of this alteration have been these first and mainly, the many crosses, and losses, and abuses by sea and seamen, which have caused us to run into so much charge, and debts, and engagements, as our estates and means were not able to go on without impoverishing ourselves, and much hindering, if not spoiling, our trades and callings here; except our estates had been greater, or our associates had cloven better to us. 2dly, As here hath been a faction and siding amongst us now more than two years; so now there is an utter breach and sequestration amongst us, and in two parts of us, a full desertion, and forsaking of you, without any intent or purpose of meddling more with you.
And though we are persuaded the main cause of this their doing is want of money (for need whereof men use to make many excuses) yet other things are by many pretended, and not without some colour urged, which are these: 1st, A distaste of you there, for that you are (as they affirm) Brownists, condemning all other churches and persons but yourselves and those im your way; and you are contentious, cruel, and hard hearted, among your neighbours, and towards such as in all
points, both civil and religious, jump not with you. And that you are negligent, careless, wasteful, unthrifty, and suffer all general goods and affairs to go at six and sevens, and spend your time in idleness, and talking, and conferring, and care not what be wasted, worn, and torn out, whilst all things come so easily, and so cheap unto you. 2dly, A distaste and personal contempt of us, for taking your parts and striving to defend you, and make the best of all matters touching you, insomuch as it is hard to say whether you or we are least loved of them.
Now what use either you or we may make of these things, it remaineth to be considered; and the more, for that we know the hand of God to be present in all these things, and he no doubt would admonish us of something, which is not yet so looked to, and taken to heart as it should. And although it be now too late for us, or you, to prevent and stay these things, yet it is not too late to exercise patience, wisdom, and conscience, in bearing them, and in carrying ourselves in and under them for time to come. And as we ourselves stand ready to embrace all occasions, that may tend to the furtherance of so hopeful a work, rather admiring at what is, than grudging for what is not, so it must rest still in you to make all good again. And if in nothing else you can be approved, yet let your honesty and conscience be still approved, and lose not one jot of your innocence amidst your many crosses and afflictions.
And surely if you upon this alteration behave yourselves wisely and go on fairly, as men whose hopes is not in this life, you shall need no other weapon to wound your adversaries; for when your righteousness is revealed as the light, they shall cover their faces with shame, that causelessly have sought your overthrow.
And although (we hope) you need not our counsel in these things, having learned of God how to behave yourselves, in all estates in this world; yet a word for your advice and direction, to spur those forward, which we hope run already.
At first, seeing our generality here is dissolved, let yours be the more firm; and do not you like carnal people (which run into inconveniencies and evils by examples) but rather be warned by your harms, to cleave faster together hereafter; take heed of long and sharp disputes and oppositions, give no passage to the waters, no not a tittle; let not hatred or heartburning be harboured in the breast of any of you one moment, but forgive and forget all former failings and abuses, and renew your love and friendship together daily. There is often more sound friendship and sweeter fellowship in afflictions and crosses than in prosperity and favours; and there is reason for it, because envy flieth away, when there is nothing but necessities to be looked on; but it is always a bold guest where prosperity shews itself.
And although we here, which are hedged about with so many favours and helps in worldly things and comforts, forget friendship and love and fall out often times for trifles; yet you must not do so, but must in these things turn a new leaf and be of another spirit. We here can fall
out with a friend and lose him to day, and find another tomorrow; but you cannot do so, you have no such choice, you must make much of them you have, and count him a very good friend, which is not a professed enemy. We have a trade and custom of tale bearing, whispering, and changing of old friends for new, and these things with us are incurable; but you which do as it were begin a new world, and lay the foundation of sound piety and humanity for others to follow, must suffer no such weeds in your garden, but nip them in the head, and cast them out forever; and must follow peace and study quietness, having fervent love amongst yourselves as a perfect and entire bond to uphold you when all else fails you. And although we have written much to you heretofore, to provoke to union and love, as the only way to make you stand, and without which all would come to nothing; so now you are much more to be provoked thereunto, since you are left rather to be spectators to the eye than objects to the hand, and stand in most need one of another, at home when foreign help is so much decayed and weakened. And if any amongst you, for all that, have still a withdrawing heart, and will be all to himself, and nothing to his neighbour, let him think of these things. 1st, The providence of God in bringing you there together. 2d, His marvellous preserving you from so many dangers, the particulars whereof you know and must never forget. 3d, The hopes that yet are of effecting somewhat for yourselves, and more for your posterity, if hand join in hand. 4th, The woful estate of him which is alone, especially in a wilderness. 5th, The succour and comfort which the generality can daily afford, having built houses, planted corn, framed boats, erected salt works, obtained cattle, swine, and pulling together with the diverse varieties of trades and faculties employed by sea and land, the gains of every one stretching itself unto all, whilst they are in the general but such as withdraw themselves, tempting God and despising their neighbours, must look for no share or part in any of these things; but as they will be a commonwealth alone, so alone they must work, and alone they must eat, and alone they must be sick and die, or else languishing under the frustration of their vain hopes, alone return to England, and there to help all cry out of the country and the people; counting the one fruitless and the other merciless; when indeed their own folly, pride, and idleness is the cause of all, which never weigh either the providence of God, the conscience of their duty, nor care for their neighbours, or themselves; further than to grate upon their friends; as if other men owed them all things, and they owed no man any thing. 6th, The conscience of making restitution, and paying those debts and charges which hath befallen to bring you there, and send those things to you, which you have had, must hold you together; and for him that withdraws himself from the general, we look upon him as upon a man, who, having served his turn, and fulfilled his desire, cares not what becomes of others, neither making conscience of any debt or duty at all, but thinketh to slide away under secret colours, to abuse and deceive his friends; and against whom we need say little, seeing the Lord will never cease to curse his course.
And albeit the company here as a company hath lost you, you know when Saul left David, yea and pursued him, yet David did not