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Hebrew quotations, &c. In a previous letter he had stated, that in the same volume with the History, though forming no part of it, "is a rather long piece, being Hebrew Roots, with English explanations"; that it is in the handwriting of Governor Bradford, and shows his attention to these studies. It appears that there are eight pages of these exercises, including extracts from the Hebrew Scriptures, to which Bradford has prefixed the following:
"Though I am growne aged, yet I have had a longing desire to see, with my owne eyes, somthing of that most ancient language, and holy tongue, in which the Law and oracles of God were write; and in which God, and angels, spake to the holy patriarks of old time; and what names. were given to things, from the creation. And though I cañot attaine to much herein, yet I am refreshed to have seen some glimpse hereof (as Moyses saw the land of Canan a farr of). My aime and desire is, to see how the words and phrases lye in the holy texte; and to discerne somewhat of the same, for my owne contente."
It will be perceived that Morton, in compiling his Memorial, was chiefly indebted to this History for his materials, down to the year 1647. Much of it is a mere abridgment of this; and many passages of great historical interest were wholly omitted by him. Much valuable correspondence that took place just before the embarkation from Holland, and afterwards in England before the Mayflower sailed, was passed over by him in silence. He also omitted the whole history of the connection between the planters and adventurers; and also that portion which narrates so minutely and graphically the struggles which the undertakers subsequently passed through for so many years. Morton copied some portions of this History omitted in the Memorial into the Church Records, beyond even what Dr. Young has published; but it appears not to have been within his plan to embrace
many subjects of the first importance in the history of the colony.
Prince made a judicious use of this volume; but from the limited nature of his work he was necessarily restricted to extracts here and there, more or less brief, on those subjects which to him were of the greatest interest. Besides, the second volume of his Annals was abruptly terminated by his death, and comes down only to August, 1633.
Hubbard evidently made use of this volume in preparing his History of New England; and from a few passages in Mather's Magnalia, it seems certain that he also had seen this work.
In the Appendix to the second volume of his History of Massachusetts, Hutchinson gives "a summary of the affairs" of Plymouth colony, taken chiefly from Bradford's manuscript. It was necessarily brief, as his "principal object was the Massachusetts colony"; and this was written because, as he says, "some of my friends of the colony of New Plymouth took it unkindly because I said no more of their affairs in the first part of the History."
The opportunities which Governor Bradford enjoyed for writing the history of this colony, were superior, in many respects, to those of any other person. From 1621 to 1657, the year of his death, he had but five years' release from the office of chief magistrate. Although this would seem to afford him little leisure for writing, yet he thereby acquired an entire familiarity with every subject of a public nature in any way connected with the colony. This, taken in connection with the high character which he has always enjoyed, has caused this work to be regarded as of the first authority, and as entitled to take precedence of everything else relating to the history of the Pilgrims.
It will be seen, on page 6, that our author commenced writing this History in 1630; and on page 444, it will be
observed that the concluding portion, left evidently unfinished, was written in 1650.
For what is known of the early life of Bradford we are indebted to Cotton Mather; and as some of his statements concerning him have recently received abundant confirmation from the researches of Mr. Hunter, there will be a greater readiness to accept the whole sketch as authentic. Mather may have obtained the most of his information from some writings of Bradford, now lost, or by oral communication with members of the Bradford family; more likely the former. We read in the Magnalia, that Bradford was born in "an obscure village called Ansterfield." No such place can be found in any part of England, but through the successful researches of Mr. Hunter it is ascertained that what is printed Ansterfield should be Austerfield, a village in Yorkshire, a short distance from Scrooby, the residence of Brewster and the location of Robinson's church, in the adjoining county.* Alluding to the suffering witnesses to the truth which sprang up in Yorkshire during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Mather proceeds:
"Among those devout people was our William Bradford, who was born anno 1588, in an obscure village called Ansterfield,† where the people were as unacquainted with the Bible, as the Jews do seem to have been with part of it in the days of Josiah; a most ignorant and licentious people, and like unto their priest. Here, and in some other places, he had a comfortable inheritance left him of his honest parents, who died while he was yet a child, and cast him on the education, first of his grandparents, and then of his uncles, who devoted him, like his ancestors, unto the affairs of husbandry. Soon and long sickness kept him, as he would afterwards thankfully say, from the vanities of youth, and made him the fitter for
* See page 411 of this volume.
what he was afterwards to undergo. When he was about a dozen years old, the reading of the Scriptures began to cause great impressions upon him; and those impressions were much assisted and improved, when he came to enjoy Mr. Richard Clifton's illuminating ministry, not far from his abode; he was then also further befriended, by being brought into the company and fellowship of such as were then called professors; though the young man that brought him into it, did after become a profane and wicked apostate. Nor could the wrath of his uncles, nor the scoff of his neighbors, now turned upon him, as one of the Puritans, divert him from his pious inclinations."
At last he formed a resolution "to withdraw from the communion of the parish-assemblies, and engage with some society of the faithful, that should keep close unto the written word of God, as the rule of their worship"; which he zealously adhered to. In course of time, he, with the church with which he was connected, removed into Holland. Bradford, at that time, was about eighteen years of age. He was one of those imprisoned at Boston, in Lincolnshire; and when, subsequently, he with others succeeded in reaching Zealand, he was arrested, as having fled from England. The magistrates, however, released him on learning the cause of his emigration, and he joined his friends at Amsterdam. While there, he served " a Frenchman at the working of silks." On becoming of age, he converted his estate in England into money, and set up for himself. This, of course, was after the removal to Leyden. He subsequently bore his part in the hazardous enterprise of removing to New England, with a portion of Mr. Robinson's church.
Mr. Hunter says that "Austerfield is an ancient village, consisting then, as it does now, of a few houses inhabited by persons engaged in the occupation of husbandry, and a small chapel of a very early age." On consulting the
Register of that place, Mr. Hunter finds that Bradford was born March 19th, 1589-90. His father's name was William, and his mother's name was Alice Hanson. They were married June 21st, 1584. The father was buried July 15th, 1591, when his son, the future Governor, was but a year and a half old. The grandfather, who also bore the same Christian name, was buried January 10th, 1595-6, when our William was about six years of age; so that he was then probably cast on the care of his uncles, of whom there were two, Thomas and Robert Bradford. For full information concerning the family. and some of their contemporaries, see Mr. Hunter's Founders of New Plymouth.
Mather thus concludes his notice of our author:
"He was a person for study as well as action; and hence, notwithstanding the difficulties through which he passed in his youth, he attained unto a notable skill in languages; the Dutch tongue was become almost as vernacular to him as the English; the French tongue he could also manage; the Latin and the Greek he had mastered; but the Hebrew he most of all studied, because, he said, he would see with his own eyes the ancient oracles of God in their native beauty. He was also well skilled in history, in antiquity, and in philosophy; and for theology, he became so versed in it, that he was an irrefragable disputant against the errors, especially those of Anabaptism, which with trouble he saw rising in his colony; wherefore he wrote some significant things for the confutation of those errors. But the crown of all was his holy, prayerful, watchful, and fruitful walk with God, wherein he was very exemplary.
"At length he fell into an indisposition of body, which rendered him unhealthy for a whole winter; and as the spring advanced, his health yet more declined; yet he felt himself not what he counted sick, till one day, in the night after which the God of heaven so filled his mind