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pilgrim stepped foot upon this new world, Webster uncovered his head and joyfully confessed that the patriotism, fortitude, and faith of the heroes had entered into his soul, as iron enters into the rich blood of the physical sysFor the faith of the fathers is, indeed, "the elixir of the children."
FINAL VICTORY OF PURITANISM.
Looking back upon our history, we now do see that the Puritan spirit and principles first conquered New England; that the ideals and institutions the Pilgrims developed soon repeated themselves in New York and the Reserve of Ohio, and afterward journeyed into the towns and cities of this great North and West. Then, when the civil conflict came and the whole land shook with the earthquake of civil war, it was the Puritan spirit that again went forth in battle array to conquer servitude and make our soil too pure for the feet of slaves. To thinking men it must now be evident that the time is surely coming when this entire land is to be puritanized. As loyal patriots and true Christians, we may also look forward to an era when our republic shall educate the world in free institutions. Should that time ever come it will be found that all the nations will recall Forefathers' Day as one of the great days of history, and celebrate the qualities of the Pilgrims with admiration, awe, and tearful sympathy. "If we succeed," said that first intrepid leader, "men will never cease to celebrate this day with song and story." But, should the spirit of the fathers fail, "should the consciousness of a divine energy underlying human society, manifested in just and equal laws, and humanely ordering individual relations, disappear," we may believe with Curtis, "the murmur of the ocean rising and falling upon Plymouth rock will be the endless lament of nature over the baffled hopes of man."
Now that long time has passed, all men do see that the
age of the Puritans was the heroic age of our history. In its innermost genius the story of the Pilgrim fathers is a story unparalleled in all the annals of history for the weakness of its beginning and the glory and grandeur of its victory. To the end of time, Xenophon's march of the 10,000 will fascinate mankind. But the young Grecians were soldiers, men of iron strength. They marched not toward the wilderness, savages, and certain death; they marched toward life, home, and all-welcoming love. With absorbing interest also we follow the adventurous career of Cabot and Drake, Ponce de Leon, De Soto, and Champlain, in their search for gold and gems and the treasures hidden in the palaces of Peru; for fountains of eternal youth, and for the fame that has ever beguiled brave men. But no dreams of power or wealth allured these Pilgrims forth. Our heroes unfurled their sails to leave behind gold, lands, ancestral halls, and resigned forever all thoughts of ease and luxury.
AN AGE OF POETRY AND BIGOTRY.
To us it seems incredible that in the very years when Shakespeare was writing his greatest dramas, English rulers could have been so bigoted as to burn the wisest scholars, behead the thinkers, and imprison resolute souls, whose only crime was the love of liberty in thought and word and worship. And yet in those far-off days, independent thought was a penal offense, and the worship of God in any way, save that ordained by the King, was more likely to be punished than murder or theft. In the British Museum men have preserved an autograph letter of Queen Elizabeth, written to the Scottish King, and asking for the extradition of one John Penry. Now, Penry was a graduate of Oxford, a scholar of great attainments, a man of the noblest life and character. He had been guilty of the crime of saying that a clergyman might be ordained by a presbyter as truly as by a bishop, and, therefore, once Queen
Bess got her hands upon her enemy, she had him indicted for treason. Standing before the Lord Chief Justice, Penry said: "If my blood were an ocean sea, and every drop thereof were a life unto me, I would give them all for the maintenance of my convictions." But the best use that England could make of such a man was to behead him! Soon the Puritans felt that the time had come when they must decide whether they should live under an absolute or a limited monarchy; whether or not a king might also assume the functions of a pope. And when one scholar and leader had been imprisoned thirty-six times in seven years, and fifty of the leading Puritan pastors and scholars were lying in the dungeons of London, the Pilgrims decided to leave the old homeland and cross over to Holland, a land made glorious by the valor of "William the Silent"; made free by the fortitude and faith of the heroic burghers who endured the siege of Leyden, the cruelty of Alva, and the awful tyranny of "Philip the Monster."
A FAMILIAR HISTORY.
A thousand times through stately oration and thrilling narrative have our orators and editors rehearsed for us the story of that unique voyage. When eight fearful years had passed over the factories and fields of Leyden, we see the Pilgrim band marching down to the seashore. There they kneel upon the sands, and, weeping, commend themselves to God, while John Robinson asks him who holds the seas in the hollow of his hand to care for their little craft and bring them into some harbor of peace. Taught by our artists, we see these brave men assembled in the cabin of the Mayflower to sign their compact and covenant. And when for weeks the little ship has tossed up and down upon the tumultuous sea, upon the shortest day of all the year, midst drifting sleet and snow, while water freezes in their garments and makes their coats to ring like iron, we see two
little boats pull through the surf at Plymouth, and, jumping into the water, the men take the women and children in their arms, and carry them through the surf to the shore. What dangers were theirs, when the first flight of arrows fell upon them from the Indians ambushed in the forest! How pathetic the stern record of that first Christmas morn in the new world! "On Monday the 25th we went again on shore, some to fell timber, some to saw, some to rive, and some to carry; so no man rested all day." What sorrow and suffering are revealed in the fact that when the second December came, half of the little company were sleeping beneath the winter's snow! As once that Scottish hero, fleeing from his enemies, sprang over the precipice above the sea and clung to a narrow ledge of rock, while his enemies above pelted him with sticks and clubs; so this frail band clung to the edge of the forest, while hail and snow, famine and pestilence, harassed and assailed them. There on the edge of the forest we see the Pilgrim rearing his cabin, for the family is the first of his free institutions. We see him dedicating his little church and on Sunday morning standing before it as a sentinel, with rifle in his hand, keeping guard over wife and child while they worship God in peace. We see him completing the first schoolhouse and calling a meeting of the citizens to pass a law that when there are one hundred families they shall be taxed to fit the sons for college and found a university. We see them coming together in the town meeting to publicly discuss all questions of government in the town meeting that was to be the germ and seed of all our social institutions. Verily, these were "famous men, by whom God hath gotten glory," of whom "the world has not been worthy."
FAULTS OF THE PURITANS.
Of late years it has become the fashion to belittle the
Puritans and ridicule them. Our pleasure-loving generation hurls many a gibe and stinging jest at their high hats and somber garments, their cold reserve, their solemn habit of thought and life. There is a type of mind that can never think of the Puritan save as "mere acrid defiance and sanctimonious sectarianism, nor of the Puritans save as a band of ignorant and half-crazy zealots." With biting sarcasm, Hume said the Puritan hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectator. While in America, when Connecticut expelled a Tory for disloyalty, he went home to palm off upon credulous England the so-called "Blue Laws"-laws which never had any existence outside of the brain of a man who had been expelled for treason. And yet many an English author still refers to the time when the mothers of New England were punished for kissing their husbands or babes on the Sabbath day, and when the Puritan housewife threw away the vinegar on Saturday night, lest the acid should work on Sunday, thus breaking the law against labor on the day of rest. We smile also at Judge Sewall's diary, written after going home from church and listening to a sermon in which the minister had turned the hourglass four times, on the coldest winter day, in a church where no fire was permitted. The journal begins: "Ex-" traordinary cold; storm of wind and snow. The bread was frozen at the Lord's table to-day. Though 'twas so bitter cold, John Hutchinson was baptized. At 6 o'clock my ink freezes so that I can hardly write by my good fire. Yet," adds the judge, "I was very comfortable at the meeting today"-subterranean fires having doubtless been opened up by the preacher. The fathers are also criticised for lack of sympathy with art and beauty, and the elegancies of life. Some also insist that the Puritans sympathized deeply with that iconoclastic spirit that spoiled the cathedrals of England and of the Continent, whitewashing the fres