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[The following lines having some relation to the soil, the productions, and the history of · the country, are now first printed on that account, and not for any poetical beauties to be discovered in them-they may afford some entertainment; and as they seem to be within the views of the society, they are submitted to the publick.]
A DESCRIPTIVE AND HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF NEW ENGLAND IN VERSE; FROM A MS. OF WILLIAM BRADFORD, GOVERNOUR OF PLYMOUTH COLONY.
FAMINE once we had
But other things God gave us in full store,
As fish and ground nuts, to supply our strait,
That we might learn on providence to wait;
And know, by bread man lives not in his need,
But by each word that doth from God proceed.
But a while after plenty did come in,
From his hand only who doth pardon sin.
And all did flourish like the pleasant green,
Which in the joyful spring is to be seen.
Almost ten years we lived here alone,
In other places there were few or none;
For Salem was the next of any fame,
That began to augment New England's name;
But after multitudes began to flow,
More than well knew themselves where to bestow
Boston then began her roots to spread,
And quickly soon she grew to be the head,
Not only of the Massachusetts Bay,
But all trade and commerce fell in her way.
And truly it was admirable to know,
How greatly all things here began to grow.
New plantations were in each place begun
And with inhabitants were filled soon.
All sorts of grain which our own land doth yield,
Was hither brought, and sown in every field:
As wheat and rye, barley, oats, beans, and pease
Here all thrive, and they profit from them raise,
All sorts of roots and herbs in gardens grow,
Parsnips, carrots, turnips, or what you'll sow,
Onions, melons, cucumbers, radishes,
Skirets, beets, coleworts, and fair cabbages.
Here grows fine flowers many, and 'mongst those,
The fair white lily and sweet fragrant rose.
Many good wholesome berries here you'll find,
Fit for man's use, almost of every kind,
Pears, apples, cherries, plumbs, quinces, and peach,
Are now no dainties; you may have of each.
Nuts and grapes of several sorts are here,
If you will take the pains them to seek for.
Cattle of every kind do fill the land;
Many now are kill'd, and their hides tann'd :
By which men are supply'd with meat and shoes,
Or what they can, though much by wolves they lose.
Here store of cows, which milk and butter yield,
And also oxen, for to till the field;
Of which great profit many now do make,
If they have a fit place and able pains do take.
Horses here likewise now do multiply,
They prosper well, and yet their price is high.
Here are swine, good store, and some goats do keep,
But now most begin to get store of sheep,
That with their wool their bodies may be clad,
In time of straits, when things cannot be had;
For merchants keep the price of cloth so high,
As many are not able the same to buy.
And happy would it be for people here,
If they could raise cloth for themselves to wear;
And if they do themselves hereto apply,
They would not be so low, nor some so high.
As I look back, I cannot but smile,
To think how some did themselves beguile,
When called first, went at so high a rate,
They did not think how soon they might abate;
For many then began to look so high,
Whose hopes, soon after, in the dust did lie.
So vain is man! if riches do abide
A little, he's soon lift up with pride.
A cow then was at twenty pounds and five,
Those who had increase could not choose but thrive;
And a cow calf, ten or twelve pounds would give,
As soon as weaned, if that it did live.
A lamb or kid was forty shillings price,
Men were earnest for them, lest they should rise.
And a milch goat was at three or four pound;
All cattle at such prices went off round.
In money and good cloth, they would you pay,
Or what good thing else that you would say.
And both swine and corn was in good request;
To the first comers this was a harvest.
But that which did 'bove all the rest excel, God in his word, with us he here did dwell;
Well ordered churches in each place there were,
And a learn'd ministry was planted here.
All marvell❜d and said, “ Lord, this work is thine,
In the wilderness to make such lights to shine."
And truly it was a glorious thing,
Thus to hear men pray, and God's praises sing,
Where these natives were wont to cry and yell
To satan, who 'mongst them doth rule and dwell.
Oh, how great comfort was it now to see,
The churches to enjoy free liberty!
And to have the gospel preach'd here with power,
And such wolves repell'd as would else devour;
And now with plenty their poor souls were fed,
With better food than wheat, or angels' bread;
In green pastures they may themselves solace,
And drink freely of the sweet springs of grace;
A pleasant banquet is prepar❜d for these,
Of fat things, and rich wine upon the lees;
"Eat, O my friends, (saith Christ) and drink freely,
Here's wine and milk, and all sweet spicery;
The honey and its comb is here to be had,
I myself for you have this banquet made :
Be not dismayed, but let your heart rejoice
In this wilderness, O let me hear your voice;
My friends you are, whilst you my ways do keep,
Your sins I'll pardon, and your good I'll seek."
And they, poor souls, again to Christ do say,
"O Lord, thou art our hope, our strength, and stay;
Who givest to us all these thy good things;
Us shelter still in the shadow of thy wings:
So we shall sing, and laud thy name with praise,
"Tis thine own work, to keep us in thy ways;
Uphold us still, O thou which art most high,
We then shall be kept, and thy name glorify;
Let us enjoy thyself, with these means of grace,
And in our hearts shine, with the light of thy face;
Take not away thy presence, nor thy word,
But, we humbly pray, us the same afford."
To the north, or south, or which way you'll wind, Churches now are spread, and you'll pasture find. Many men of worth, for learning and great fame, Grave and godly, in to these parts here came : AS HOOKER, COTTON, DANFORTH, and the rest, Whose names are precious and elsewhere express'd; And many among these, you might soon find, Who in some things, left not their like behind.
But some of these are dead, and others aged be,
Lord, do theu supply, in thy great mercy;
How these their flocks did feed, with painful care,
Their labours, love, and fruitful works declare ;
They did not spare their time and lives to spend,
In the Lord's work, unto their utmost end :
And such as still survive do strive the more,
To do like them that have gone before:
Take courage then, for ye shall have reward,
That in this work are faithful to the Lord.
Example take hereby, you that shall come,
In after time when these their race have run.
A prudent Magistracy here was placed, By which the Churches defended were and graced And this new commonwealth in order held, And sin, that foul iniquity, was quell'd : Due, right, and justice, unto all was done, Without delay; men's suits were ended soon. Here were men sincere, and upright in heart, Who from justice and right would not depart : Men's causes they would scan and well debate, But all bribes and corruption they did hate; The truth to find out they would use all means, And so, for that end, they would spare no pains. Whilst things thus did flourish and were in their prime, Men thought it happy and a blessed time,
To see how sweetly all things did agree;
Both in Church and State, there was an amity;
Each to the other mutual help did lend,
And to God's honour all their ways did tend,
In love and peace, his truth for to retain,
And God's service how best for to maintain.
Some of these are gone, others do grow gray,
Which doth show us they have not long to stay :
But God will still for his people provide
Such as be able, them to help and guide,
If they cleave to him, and do not forsake
His laws and his truth, their own ways to take.
If thou hast view'd the camp of Israel,
How God in the wilderness with them did dwell;
And led them long in that dangerous place,
Through fears and trials for so long a space;
And yet they never saw more of his glory,
Than in this time where he advanced them high.
His great and marvellous works they here saw,
And he them taught, in his most holy law.
A small emblem hereof thou mayest see,
How God hath dealt with these, in some degree;
For much of himself they now here have seen,
And marvellous to them his works have been.
I am loath indeed to change my theme,
Thus of God's precious mercies unto them;
Yet I must do it, though it is most sad,
And if it prove otherwise, I shall be glad.
Methinks I see some great change at hand,
That ere long will fall upon this poor land;
Not only because many are took away,
Of the best rank, but virtue doth decay,
And true godliness doth not now so shine,
As some while it did, in the former time;
But love and fervent zeal do seem to sleep,
Security and the world on men do creep;
Pride and oppression, they do grow so fast,
As that all goodness they will eat out at last.
Whoredom, and drunkenness, with other sin,
Will cause God's judgments soon to break in,
And whimsy errors have now got such a head,
And, under notion of conscience, do spread ;
So as whole places with them now are stain'd,
Whereas goodness, sometime before hath reign'd.
Where godliness abates, evil will succeed,
And grow apace like to the noisome weed;
And if there be not care their growth to stop,
All godliness it soon will overtop.
Another cause of our declining here,
Is a mixt multitude, as doth appear;
Many for servants hitherto were brought,
Others came for gain, or worse ends they sought :
And of these, many grew loose and profane,
Though some are brought to know God and his name.
But thus it is, and hath been so of old,
As by the scriptures we are plainly told;
For when, as from Egypt God's people came,
A mixed multitude got in among them,
Who with the rest murmur and lust did they,
In wants, and fell at Kibroth Hatavah.
And whereas the Lord doth sow his good seed,
The enemy, he brings in tares and weed;
What need therefore there is that men should watch, That Satan them not at advantage catch;
For ill manners and example are such, As others do infect and corrupt much: VOL. III.