Page images

with large herds of fheep and neat cattle, and rich fields of flax, corn, and the various kinds of grain.

These vallies, which have received the expreffive name of interval lands, are of various breadths, from two to twenty miles; and by the annual inundations of the rivers which flow through them, there is frequently an accumulation of rich, fat foil, left upon their furface when the waters retire.

There are four principal ranges of mountains paffing nearly from north-east to fouth-weft, through New-England. Thefe confift of a mul titude of parallel ridges, each having many fpurs, deviating from the courfe of the general range; which fpurs are again broken into irregular, hilly land. The main ridges terminate fometimes in high bluff heads, near the fea-coaft, and fometimes by a gradual descent in the interior part of the country. One of the main ranges runs between Connecticut and Hudfon's rivers. This range branches, and bounds the vales through which flows the Houfatonick river. The most eastern ridge of this range terminates in a bluff head at Meriden. A second ends in like manner at Willingford, and a third at New Haven.

In Lyme, on the eaft fide of Connecticut river, another range of mountains commences, forming the eastern boundary of Connecticut vale. This range trends northerly, at the diftance, generally, of about ten or twelve miles east from the river, and paffes through Maffachusetts, where the range takes the name of Chicabee mountain; thence croffing into NewHampshire, at the diftance of about twenty miles from the Maffachusetts line, it runs up into a very high peak, called Monadnick, which terminates this ridge of the range. A western ridge continues, and in about latitude 43° 20, runs up into Sunipee mountains. About fifty miles further, in the fame ridge, is Mofcoog mountain.

A third range begins near Stonington in Connecticut. It takes its courfe north-easterly, and is fometimes broken and difcontinued; it then rifes again, and ranges in the fame direction into New Hampshire, where, in latitude 43° 25', it runs up into a high peak, called Cowfawafkoog.

The fourth range has a humble beginning about Hopkinton, in Maffachusetts. The eastern ridge of this range runs north, by Watertown and Concord, and croffes Merrimack river at Pantucket Falls. In New Hampshire it rifes into feveral high peaks, of which the White mountains are the principal. From thefe White mountains, a range continues northeaft, croffing the eaft boundary of New-Hampshire, in latitude 44° 30′, and forms the height of land between Kennebeck and Chaudiere rivers.

Thefe ranges of mountains are full of lakes, ponds, and fprings of water, that give rife to numberlefs ftreams of various fizes, which, interlocking each other in every direction, and falling over the rocks in romantic cafcades, flow meandering into the rivers below. No country on the globe is better watered than New England.

On the fea-coaft the land is low, and in many parts level and fandy. In the vallies, between the forementioned ranges of mountains, the land is generally broken, and in many places rocky, but of a ftreng rich foil, capable of being cultivated to good advantage, which alfo is the cafe with many spots even on the tops of the mountains.


Rivers.] The only river which will be defcribed under New England is Connecticut river. It rifes in a fwamp on the height of land, in latitude 45° 10′, longitude 4° eaft. After a fleepy courfe of eight or ten miles, it tumbles over four feparate falls, and turning weft keeps clofe under the hills which form the northern boundary of the vale through which it runs. The Amonoofuck, and Ifrael rivers, two principal branches of Connecticut river, fall into it from the east, between the latitudes 44° and 45°. Between the towns of Walpole on the eaft, and Weftminster on the west fide of the river, are the great falls. The whole river, compreffed between two rocks fcarcely thirty feet afunder, fhoots with amazing rapidity into a broad bafon below. Over these falls, a bridge one hundred and fixty feet in length, was built in 1784, under which the highest floods may pafs without detriment. This is the firft bridge that was ever erected over this noble river. Above Deerfield, in Massachusetts, it receives Deerfield river from the weft, and Millers river from the east, after which it turns wefterly in a finuous courfe to Fighting falls, and a little after tumbles over Deerfield falls, which are impaisable by boats. At Windfor, in Connecticut, it receives Farmington river from the weft; and at Hartford, meets the tide. From Hartford it paffes on in a crooked course, until it falls into Long Island found, between Saybrook and Lyme.

The length of this river, in a ftraight line, is nearly three hundred miles. Its general courfe is feveral degrees weft of fouth. It is from eighty to one hundred rods wide, one hundred and thirty miles from its mouth.

At its mouth is a bar of fand which confiderably obftructs the navigation. Ten feet water at full tides is found on this bar, and the fame depth to Middleton. The diftance of the bar from this place, as the river runs, is thirty-fix miles. Above Middleton are several fhoals which stretch quite across the river. Only fix feet water is found on the fhoal at high tide, and here the tide ebbs and flows but about eight inches. About three miles below Middleton, the river is contracted to about forty rods in breadth, by two high mountains. Almost every where elfe the banks are low, and fpread into fine extenfive meadows. In the fpring floods, which generally happen in May, thefe meadows are covered with water. At Hartford the water fometimes rifes twenty feet above the common furface of the river, and having all to pafs through the above-mentioned ftreight, it is fometimes two or three weeks before it returns to its ufual bed. Thefe floods add nothing to the depth of water on the bar at the mouth of the river; this bar lying too far off in the found to be affected by them.

On this beautiful river, whofe banks are fettled almost to its fource, are many pleasant, neat, well-built towns. On its western bank, from its mouth northward, are the towns of Saybrook, Haddam, Middleton, Weathersfield, Hartford, Windfor, and Suffield, in Connecticut; Weft Springfield, Northampton, Hatfield, and Deerfield, in Maffachufetts; Guilford, Brattleborough, in which is Fort Dummer, Weftminster, Windfor, Hartford, Fairlee, Newbury, Brunfwick, and many others in Vermont. Croffing the river into New-Hampshire, and travelling on the eaftern bank, you pafs through Woodbury nearly oppofite to Brunfwick, Northumberland, the Coos country, Lyman, Orford, Lyme, Hanover, in

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

within the limits of their patent, and to enquire whether, in cafe of their removal, the king would grant them liberty of confcience.

The agents were fuccefsful in their application. The company affured them that they would do every thing in their power to forward fo good a defign, and were willing to grant them a patent with ample privileges. But fuch was the bigotry of the times, that the king, though folicited by fome of the first men in the kingdom, could not be prevailed upon to grant them liberty in religion. He did, however, at laft agree to connive at them, and to permit them to live unmolefted, provided they behaved peaceably; but to tolerate them by his public authority under his feal, was inadmiffible,

This was indeed difcouraging to the pious people at Leyden; yet with an humble confidence in divine providence, they determined to purfue their original defign.

Accordingly they fent their agents to England, where, in September, 1619, after a long attendance, they obtained of the Virginia company a patent of the northern parts of Virginia. This patent, with propofals from Mr. Wefton, and several other refpectable merchants and friends, refpecting their migration, were tranfmitted to the people at Leyden, for their confideration. Thefe were accompanied with a requeft that they would immediately commence their preparations for the voyage. On receiving this intelligence, the people, agreeably to their pious cuftom previous to their engaging in any important affair, appointed a day of folemn prayer, on which occafion, Mr. Robinson, in a fermon from 1 Sam. xxiii. 3, 4, endeavoured to dispel their fears, and encourage their refolutions. As it was not convenient for them all to go at firit, not even for all who were willing, they improved this religious opportunity to determine who fhould firft embark. After canvaffing the matter, it was found convenient for the greater number to remain, for the prefent, at Leyden; and of courfe Mr. Robinfon, according to agreement, was to tarry with them. The other part, with Mr. Brewster for their elder and teacher, agreed to be the first adventurers. The neceffary preparations were now to be made. A fmall fhip of fixty tons was purchafed, and fitted out in Holland; and another of about one hundred and eighty tons, hired in London. The former was called the Speedwell, and the latter the May-flower. All other matters being prepared, a large concourfe of friends from Leyden and Amfterdam, accompanied the adventurers to the fhip, which lay at Delf Haven; and the night preceding their embarkation was fpent in tearful prayers, and in the moft tender and friendly intercourse. The next day fair wind invited their departure. The parting fcene is more cafily felt than defcribed. Their mutual good wishes--their affectionate and cordial embraces, and other endearing expreffions of christian love and friendship, drew tears even from the eyes of the strangers who beheld the scene, When the time arrived that they must part, they all, with their beloved paftor, fell on their knees, and with eyes, and hands, and hearts lifted to Heaven, fervently commended their adventuring

* This patent was taken out in the name of John Wincob, who providentially never came to America, and so all their trouble and expence in obtaining it were loft, as they never made any use of it.


brethren to the Lord and his bleffing. Thus, after mutual embraces, accompanied with many tears, they bid a long, and many of them, a last farewel.

This was on the 22d of July, 1620. The fame day they failed before a fair wind for Southampton, where they found the other fhip from London, with the rest of the adventurers.

After they had made the neceffary preparations for embarkation, they divided themselves into two companies, one for each fhip, and with the approbation of the captains, each company chofe a governor, and two or three affiftants to preferve order among the people, and to diftribute the provifions. On the 5th of Auguft they failed, but the smallest ship proved fo leaky, that they were obliged to return and refit. On the 21st of Auguft they failed again, and proceeded about one hundred leagues from land, when they found their little ship totally unfit for the voyage, and returned.

It was not until the 6th of September that they put to fea again, leaving their little fhip, and part of their company behind. On the 9th of November, after a dangerous voyage, they arrived at Cape Cod, and the next day anchored in the harbour which is formed by the hook of the cape. This was not the place of their deftination, neither was it within the limits of their patent.

It was their intention to have fettled at the mouth of Hudfon's river; but the Dutch, intending to plant a colony there of their own, privately hired the master of the fhip to contrive delays in England, and then to conduct them to these northern coafts, and there, under pretence of fhoals and winter, to difcourage them from venturing to the place of deftination. This is confidently afferted by the hiftorians of that time. Although the harbour in which they had anchored was good, the country around was fandy and barren. Thefe were difcouraging circumftances; but the feafon being far advanced, they prudently determined to make the best of their prefent fituation.

As they were not within the limits of their patent, and confequently not under the jurifdiction of the Virginia company, they concluded it neceffary to establish a separate government for themselves. Accordingly, before they landed, having on their knees devoutly given thanks to God for their fafe arrival, they formed themselves into a body politic, by a SOLEMN CONTRACT*, to which they all fubfcribed, thereby making it the bafis of their government. They chofe Mr. John Carver, a gentleman of piety and approved abilities, to be their governor for the firft year. This was on the 11th of November.


*The following is an authentic copy of this contract_" In the Name of God Amen: We whofe Names are under-written, 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, &c.

"Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and advancement of the Chrif tian Faith, and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to Plant the first Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia; Do by thefe Prefents folemnly and mutually in the Prefence of God, and one of another, Covenant and Combine


Their next object was to fix on a convenient place for fettlement. In doing this they were obliged to encounter numerous difficulties, and to fuffer incredible hardships. Many of them were fick in confequence of the fatigues of a long voyage-their provifions were bad—the season was uncommonly cold-the Indians, though afterwards friendly, were now hoftile and they were unacquainted with the coaft. Thefe difficulties they furmounted; and on the 31ft of December they were all fafely landed at a place, which, in grateful commemoration of Plymouth in England, the town which they last left in their native land, they called PLYMOUTH, This is the first English town that was fettled in New-England.

In fome of their excurfions in fearch of a fuitable place for fettlement, they found buried several baskets of Indian corn, to the amount of ten buthels, which fortunately ferved them for planting the next spring, and perhaps was the means of preferving them from perishing with hunger. They made diligent enquiry for the owners, whom they found, and afterwards paid the full value of the corn.

Before the end of November, Sufanna, the wife of William White, was delivered of a fon, whom they called PEREGRINE. He is fuppofed to have been the first child of European extract, born in New-England.

The whole company that landed confifted of but 101 fouls. Their fituation was diftreffing, and their profpect truly difmal and difcouraging. Their nearest neighbours, except the natives, were a French fettlement at Port Royal, and one of the English at Virginia. The nearest of these was 500 miles from them, and utterly incapable of affording them relief in a time of famine and danger. Wherever they turned their eyes, diftrefs was before them. Perfecuted for their religion in their native land -grieved for the profanation of the holy fabbath, and other licentioufnefs in Holland-fatigued by their long and boisterous voyage-difappointed, through the treachery of their commander, of their expected country-forced on a dangerous and unknown fhore, in the advance of a cold winter-furrounded with hoftile barbarians, without any hope of human fuccour denied the aid or favour of the court of England-without a patent-without a public promife of the peaceable enjoyment of their religious liberties-worn out with toil and fufferings-without convenient shelter from the rigours of the weather.-Such were the profpects, and fuch the fituation of these pious, folitary chriftians. To add to their diftreffes, a general and very mortal ficknefs prevailed among them, which fwept off forty-fix of their number before the opening of the next fpring.

ourfelves together unto a Civil Body Politic, for our better Ordering and Prefervation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforefaid; and by Virtue hereof to enact, conftitute, and frame fuch juft and equal Laws, Ordinances, As, Conflitutions and Offices from Time to Time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General Good of the Colony; unto which we Promife all due Submiffion and Obedience: In witnefs whereof we have hereunder fubfcribed 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."

This inftrument was figned by 41 heads of families, with the number in their respective families annexed, making in the whole 101 fouls.


« PreviousContinue »