Page images

of the year at which the event tous

me applied, lel rapidly draws around us the principa! 340 Commemoration of the First Settlement of Nero England. all things necessary to direct Chris- tionable, and when the inquiries of the tians

in the path of salvation. Transatlantic antiquaries will be faci“There is no infallibility in any litated and amply rewarded by the man, or body of men on earth; and pious and patriotic labours of their as it is the business of church-officers fathers now existing. merely to declare the counsel of God, Amongst other American associaas set forth in the Scriptures, and tions for cultivating the knowledge of to enforce the law of the Gospel by American History, is The Pilgrim spiritual sanctions, so the Lord Jesus Society, who are accustomed gearly Christ has not empowered any man, to visit Plymouth, in New England

, or body of men, to decree rites and the landing - place of the first Enceremonies, to exercise authority in glish Puritan Emigrants

, on the anni. matters of faith, or to inflict temporal versary of the day of the landing, viz. penalties for offences against the order Dec. 22. This celebration was begun and discipline of the Church.

in the year 1769, and has been kept “Though it be the duty of all to up with some intermissions to the contend carnestly for the faith once present time; consisting soinetines delivered to the saints, yet Christians of a religious service, and sometimes are not permitted to judge, condemn, of an oration by a layman. There is or persecute one another, on account

now lying before us, “A Discourse of doctrines, or modes of worship and delivered at Plymouth, Dec. 22, 183, church government.”

in Commemoration of the First SettleThese propositions I quote from the ment of New England : by (the Hon.) work open before me, and I should Daniel Webster.” This was a great conceive that they must satisfy “Juni- day for the occasion, being the comor,” “No Presbyterian,” and every im- pletion of the second century from partial person, that what I have stated the emigration. The orator was with respect to Irish Presbyterianism, wisely selected.

We have seldom is just and true; “that its Synods are read' a

more admirable discourse. bonds of union and Christian associa. The style of the speaker, indeed, is

tribunals for the preservation of not always perspicuous, and betrays the temporal funds and property of occasionally, that want of

pure the Presbyterian congregations, and and of the genuine English idiom for the settlement of any disputes which is commonly found in orators which may possibly arise between mi- declaiming in English out of England, nisters and people, and by no means, and not unfrequently in England boarls of controul over religious opi- but the speech contains passages of nions and worship."

true eloquence, and breathes throughI beg pardon, Sir, for having again out the miod of a scholar, the heart obtruded myself upon you and the of a philanthropist and the spirit of readers of your very valuable work. an enlightened Christian. My sole end in so doing, is to remove, Warmed and possessed by his subby fair representation, what seems to ject, Mr. Webster says finely, in one me to be misconception. Heartily wishing the wider diffusion course,

of the opening passages of his Disof the Monthly Repository, I remain, Şir, your obedient Servant,

“There is a local feeling, connected SENIOR.

with this occasion, too strong to be the sisted ; a sort of genius of the place,

which inspires and awes us. We fer! Commemoration of the First Settle that we are on the spot where the first ment of New England.

hearths and altars of New England were THE history of the United States first placed; where Christianity and dist to posterity than that of any country, ment, in a vast extent of country, overed ancient or modern. Already, the with a wilderness and peopled by routes Ameriens arushions and carahil of barbarians. We are here, at the season

will be in locoques the original scale.




We cast our of

abroad on the ocean, and we see where coutend for, can hardly fail to be attained. the little bark, with the interesting Conscience, in the cause of religion and group upon its deck, made its slow pro- the worship of the Deity, prepares the gress to the shore. We look around us, mind to act and to suffer beyond almost and behold the hills and promontories all other causes. It sometimes gives an where the auxious eyes of our fathers impulse so irresistible, that no fetters of first saw the places of habitation and of power or of opinion can withstand it. rest. We feel the cold which benumbed, History instructs us that this love of reliand listen to the winds which pierced gious liberty, a compound sentiment in them. Beneath us is the Rock on which the breast of man, made up of the clearNew England received the feet of the est sense of right and the highest conPilgrims. We seem eseu to behold them, viction of duty, is able to look the sternest as they struggle with the elements, and, despotism in the face, and, with means with coilsome efforts, gain the shore. We apparently most inadequate, to shake listen to the chiefs in council; we see priucipalities and powers. There is a the unexampled exhibition of female for- boldness, a spirit of daring, in religious titude and resignation ; we hear the whis- Reformers, not to be measured by the perings of youthful impatience, and we general rules which controul men's pursee, what a painter of our own has also poses and actions. If the hand of power represented by his pencil, chilled and be laid upon it, this only seems to augshivering childhood, houseless but for a ment its force and its elasticity, and to mother's arms, couchless but for a mo. cause its action to be more formidable ther's breast, ill our own blood almost and terrible. Humau invention has de. freezes. The mild dignity of Carver vised nothing, human power has comand of BRADFORD; the decisive and sol- passed nothing that can forcibly restrain dier-like air and manner of STANDISH; it, when it breaks forth. Nothing can the devout BREWSTER ; the enterprising stop it, but to give way to it; nothing ALLERTON ; the general firmness and can check it, but indulgence. It loses thoughtfulness of the whole band ; their its power only when it has gained its conscious joy for dangers escaped; their object. The principle of toleration, to deep solicitude about dangers to come; which the world has come so slowly, is their trust in Heaven ; their high religious at once the most just and the most wise faith, full of confidence and anticipation : of all principles. Even when religious -all these seem to belong to this place, feeling takes a character of extravagance and to be present upon this occasion, to and enthusiasm, and seems to threaten 61] us with reverence and admiration." the order of society, and shake the coPp. 11, 12.

lumns of the social edifice, its principal

danger is in its restraint. If it be allowed The causes of the Puritan emigra- indulgence and expansion, like the eletion are well described, its hazards mental fires it only agitates and, perhaps, are sketched with a glowing pencil, purifies the atmosphere, while its efforts and the folly of bigotry and the value to throw off restraint would burst the and force of religious liberty are as- world asuuder. serted in terins becoming the mouth

“ It is certain, that although many of of a meinber of one of the freest them were Republicans in principle, we Christian States that has ever existed have no evidence that our New-England in the world :

ancestors would have emigrated, as they

did, from their own vative country, be“Of the motives which influenced the come wanderers in Europe, and finally first settlers to a voluntary exile, induced undertaken the establishment of a colony them to relinquish their native country, here, merely from their dislike of the and to seek an asylum in this then political systems of Europe. They filed fine splored wilderness, the first and prin. not so much from the ciril government, as cipal, no doubt, were connected with from the Hierarchy and the laws which religion. They sought to enjoy a higher enforced conformity to the Church Estadegree of religious freedom, and what blishment. Mr. Robinson had left England they esteemed a purer form of religious as early as 1608, on account of the proseworship than was allowed to their choice cutions for Nonconformity, and had retired "I presented to their imitation in the to Holland. He left England from no diswid world. The love of religious liberty appointed ambition in affairs of state, from Bu a stronger sentiment, when fully ex no regrets at the want of preferment in

vted, than an attachment to civil or the Church, nor from any motive of dispolitical freedom. That freedom which tinction or of gain. Uniformity in matbe conscience demands, and which men ters of religion was pressed with such nel bound by their hopes of salvation to extreme rigour, that a voluntary exile

seemed the most eligible mode of escaping and on account of the appearance of the from the penalties of voncompliance. horsemen, the boat never returned for The accession of Elizabeth had, it is true, the residue. Those who had got away, quenched the fires of Smithfield, and put and those who had not, were in equal an end to the easy acquisition of ihe distress. A storm, of great violence and crown of martyrdoin. Her long reign long duration, arose at sea, which not had established the Reformation, but ouly protracted the voyage, rendered distoleratioa was a virtue beyond her con- tressing by the want of all those accomception and beyond the age. She left no modations which the interruption of the example of it to her successor; and he enabarkation had occasioned, but also was not of a character which rendered it forced the vessel out of her course, and probable that a sentiment either so wise menaced immediate shipwreck ; while or so liberal should originale with him. those on shore, when they were dismissed At the present period it seems incredible, from the custody of the officers of justice, that the learned, accomplished, unas. having no longer homes or houses to suming and ipoffensive Robinson should retire to, and their frieuds and protectors neither be tolerated in his own peaceable being already gone, became objects of mode of worship, in his own country, necessary charity as well as of deep compor suffered quietly to depart from it. miseration. Yet such was the fact. He left his “ As this scene passes before us, we couptry by stealth, that he night else cau hardly forbear asking, whether this where enjoy those rights which ought to be a band of malefactors and felous flying belong to men in all countries. The from justice? What are their crimes, embarkation of the Pilgrims for Holland that they hide themselves in darkness ? is deeply interesting, from its circum. – To what punishment are they exposed, stances, and also as it marks the charac- that, to avoid it, men and women aod ter of the times ; independently of its children thus encounter the surf of the connexion with names now incorporated North Sea and the terrors of a nightwith the history of empire. The em, storm? What induces this armed purbarkation was intended to be in the night, suit, and this arrest of fugitives, of all that it might escape the notice of the ages and both sexes ?--Truth does not officers of government. Great pains had allow us to answer these inquiries in a been taken to secure boats, wbich should manner that does credit to the wisdom come updiscovered to the shore, aud or the justice of the times. This was receive the fugitives; and frequent dis not the flight of guilt, but of virtue. Ic appointments had been experienced in was an humble and peaceable religion, this respect. At length the appointed flying from causeless oppression. It was time cane, bringing with it unusual seve conscience, attempting to escape from rity of cold and rain. An unfrequented the arbitrary rule of the Stuarts. It was and barren heath, on the shores of Lin. Robinson and Brewster leading off their coloshire, was the selected spot, where little band from their native soil, at fust the feet of the Pilgrims were to tread, to find shelter on the shores of the neighfor the last time, the land of their fa- bouring continent, but ultimately to come thers.

hither; and having surmounted all difi“ The vessel which was to receive cultics, and brared a thousand daugers, them did not come until the next day, to fiud here a place of refuge and of rest. and in the mean time the little band was Thanks be to God, that this spot was hocollected, and ineu and women aud chil noured as the asylum of religious liberty. dren and baggage were crowded together, May its siapdard, reared bere, remain in melancholy and distressed coutusion. for ever!-May it rise up as high as The sea was rough, and the women and heaven, till its banner shall fan the air children already sick, from their passage of both continents, and ware as a glorious down the river to the place of embarka- eosigu of peace and security to the nation. At length the wished-for boat si- tions !"-Pp. 18—25., lently and fearfully approaches the shore, and men and women and children, shak• philosopher at the design and the

Having looked with the eye of a the small vessel could bear, venture of effect of colonies, ancient and inodern, ou a dangerous sea. Immediately the the orator proceeds : advance of horses is heard from behind, “ Different, indeed, most widely dif armed men appear, and those not yet ferent, from all these instances of emiembarked are seized, and taken into cus. gratiou and plantation, were the condi. tody. In the hurry of the inonent, there iion, the purposes and the prospects of had been no regard to the keeping toge our fathers, when they established their ther of families, in the first embarkation, infant colony upon this spot. They came

hither to a land from which they were the divine light of the Christian religion. Dever to return. Hither they had brought, Happy auspices of a happy futurity! Who and here they were to fix, their hopes, would wish that his country's existence their attachments and their objects, had otherwise begun ?-Who would deSome natural tears they shed, as they sire the power of going back to the ages jeft the pleasaot abodes of their fathers, of fable? Who would wish for an origin, and sume emotious they suppressed, when obscured in the darkness of antiquity ? the white cliffs of their native couutry, Who would wish for other emblazoving dow seen for the last time, grew dim to of his country's heraldry, or other ornatheir sight. They were acting, however, ments of her genealogy, than to be able upon à resolution not to be changed. to say, that her first existence was with With whaterer stifled regrets, with what. intelligence ; her first breath the inspiraever nccasional hesitation, with whatever tions of liberty ; her first principle the appalling apprehensions, which might truth of divine religion ? sometimes arise with force to shake the Local attachments and sympathies firmest purpose, they had yet committed would ere long spring up in the breasts themselves to Heaven and the elements; of our ancestors, endearing to them the and a thousand leagues of water soon place of their refuge. Whatever natural interposed to separate them for ever from objects are associated with interesting the region which gave them birth. A scenes and high efforts, obtain a hold on new existence awaited them here; and human feeling, and demand from the when they saw these shores, rough, cold, heart a sort of recognition and regard. barbarous and barren as then they were, This Rock soon became hallowed in the they beheld their country. That mixed esteem of the Pilgrims, aud these hills and strong feeling which we call love of grateful to their sight. Neither they por country, and which is, in general, never their children were again to till the soil extingnished in the heart of man, grasped of England, nor again to traverse the and embraced its proper object here. seas which surrounded her. But here Whatever constitutes country, except the was a new sea, now open to their enterearth and the sun, all the moral causes prise, and a new suil, which had not of affection and attachment which ope. failed to respond gratefully to their laborate upon the heart, they had brought rious industry, and which was already with them to their new abode. Here assuming a robe of verdure. Hardly had were now their families and friends, their they provided shelter for the living, cre homes and their property. Before they they were summoned to erect sepulchres reached the shore, they had established for the dead. The ground had become the elements of a social system, and at a sacred, by enclosiug the remains of some much earlier period had settled their of their companions and connexions. A forms of religious worship. At the mo. parent, a child, a husband or a wife, had ment of their landing, therefore, they gone the way of all flesh, and mingled possessed institutions of government and with the dust of New England. We nainstitutions of religion : and friends and turally look with strong emotions to the families, and social and religious institu- spot, though it be a wilderness, where tions, established by consent, founded on the ashes of those we have loved repose. choice and preference, how nearly do Where the heart has laid down what these fill up our whole idea of country! it loved most, it is desirons of laying -The morning that beamed on the first itself down. No sculptured marble, no night of their repose, saw the Pilgrims enduring mopument, no hovourable inalready established in their country. scription, no ever-burning taper that There were political institutions, and would drive away the darkness of death, eii liberty and religious worship. Poe. can soften our sense of the reality of try has fancied nothing, in the wanderings mortality, and hallow to our feelings the of heroes, so distinct and characteristic. ground which is to cover us, like the Here was man, indeed, unprotected and consciousness that we shall sleep, dust to unprovided for, on the shore of a rude dust, with the objects of our affections. and fearful wilderness ; but it was poli “ Io a short time other causes sprung tie, intelligent and educated man. Every up to bind the Pilgrims with new cords thing was civilized but the physical world. to their chosen land. Children were born, Jostitutions containing in substance all and the hopes of future generations arose, that ages had done for human govern- in the spot of their new habitation. The ment, were established in a forest. Cul- second generation found this the land of tivated mind was to act on uncultivated their nativity, and saw that they were nature ; and, more than all, a govern- bound to its fortunes. They beheld their ment and a country were to commence fathers' graves around them, and while with the very first foundations laid under they read the memorials of their toils and

labours, they rejoiced in the inheritance. sion of this traffic; and I would call on which they found bequeathed to them.” all the true sons of New England, to -Pp. 40–45.

co-operate with the laws of man and the Mr. Webster briefly traces the his- justice of Heaven. If there be, within tory of the United States on which, the extent of our knowledge or influence, and especially on the great event of any participation in this traffic, let us the Revolution, he justly thinks that Plymouth, to extirpate and destroy it.

pledge ourselves here, upon the Rock of the peculiar, original character of the it is not fit that the land of the Pilgrims New-England colonies has had a

should bear the shame longer. I hear strong and decided influence. One the sound of the hammer, I see the fact is stated by him which does great smoke of the furnaces where manacles honour to those colonists, viz., that and fetters are still forged for human the Revolution which deposed James limbs. I see the visages of those who, II. from the British throne, was actu- by stealth and at midnight, labour in ally begun in Massachusetts !

this work of hell, foul and dark, as way The eloquent speaker is raised into become the artificers of such instruments high and swelling language by the re

of misery and torture. Let that spot be view of the improvements that have purified, or let it cease to be of New taken place in America, and of the England. Let it be purified, or let it be nature and constitution of society and it be put out of the circle of human sym

set aside from the Christian world; let government in that interesting coun- pathies and human regards, and let civitry. There is scarcely an hyperbole, lized man henceforth have no communion however, in his loftiest descriptions. with it. He glories, like a wise and good man,

I would invoke those who fill the seats in the provision which is made in the of justice, and all who minister at her constitutions of all the United States altar, that they execute the wholesome for universal education, but does not and necessary severity of the law. seem inclined to overrate the degree invoke the ministers of our religion, that of intelligence or literature actually crimes, and add its solemn sanctions to

they proclaim its denunciation of these attained by his countrymen. On one topic he dilates with a feeling, and pulpit be silent, whenever, or wherever,

the authority of human laws. If the power which are honourable to him- there may be a sinner, bloody, with this self, to his auditory, and may we not guilt, within the hearing of its voice, say to the land which gave him birth? the pulpit is false to its trust. I call

“ [ deem it my duty on this occasion on the fair merchant, who has reaped to suggest, that the land is not yet wholly his harvest upon the seas, that he asfree from the contamination of a traffic, sist in scourging from those seas the at which every feeling of humanity must worst pirates which ever infested them. for ever revolt-I mean the African Slave That ocean, which seems to wave with Trade. Neither public sentiment nor a gentle magnificence to waft the burthe law, has hitherto been able entirely dens of an honest commerce, and 10 to put an end to this odious and abomi. roll along its treasures with a couscious nable trade. At the moment when God, pride ; that ocean, which hardy industry in his mercy, has blessed the Christian regards, even when the winds have rutiled world with an universal peace, there is its surface, as a field of grateful toil; reason to fear, that, to the disgrace of what is it to the victini of this oppression, the Christian name and character, new when he is brought to its shores, and efforts are making for the extension of looks forth upon it, for the first time, this trade, by subjects and citizens of from beneath chains, and bleeding with Christian states, in whose hearts no stripes ? What is it to him, but a widesentiment of humanity or justice inha. spread prospect of suffering, anguish and bits, and over whom neither the fear death? Nor do the skies sinile longer, of God nor the fear of man exercises nor is the air longer fragrant to him. a controul. In the sight of our law, the The sun is cast down from heaven. An African slave-trader is a pirate and a inhuman and accursed traffic has cut bim felon ; and in the sight of Hearen, an off in his manhood, or in his youth, from offender far beyond the ordinary depth of every enjoyment belonging to his being, human guilt. There is no brighter part and every blessing which his Creator of our history than that which records intended for hiin. the measures which have been adopted “ The Christian communities send by the government, at an early day, and forth their emissaries of religion and letat different times since, for the suppres- ters, who stop, here and there, along the

« PreviousContinue »