Nevertheless, the rumours and reports from the new Plantation of Massachusetts produced a strong impression in England, and excited great alarm among the members and friends of the Company, who adopted three methods of securing themselves and their Charter, and of saving the Plantation from the consequences of Endicot's alleged innovations and violent conduct. Firstly—The Governor of the Company, Mr. Cradock, wrote to Endicot, Higginson, and Skelton, professing doubts of the truth of the charges made against them—disclaiming and warning them against the reported innovations—thus protecting themselves in case of charge from all participation in or responsibility for such proceedings. Secondly—They positively denied the statements of the Browns as to Endicot's alleged "innovations," and used every means to depreciate the trustworthiness and character of the Browns, notwithstanding their former commendation of them and their acknowledged respectability. Thirdly—They prepared and published documents declaring their adherence to the Church of England, and the calumny of the charges and rumours put forth against them as being disaffected to it.
1. Their Governor, Mr. Cradock, wrote to Endicot in the name of the Company. This letter, dated October 16, 1629, is given at length in a note. It will be seen by this letter how strongly the Company condemned the innovations charged against Endicot by the Browns, and how imperatively they direct him to correct them, while they profess to doubt whether he could have been a party to any such proceedings. In this letter is also the most explicit testimony by the Company of the King's kindness and generosity to them, as well as a statement of the clear understanding between the King and the Company as to the intentions and spirit of the Royal Charter, and which the Company in London expressed their determination to observe in good faith—a good faith which was invariably and even indulgently observed by both Charles the First and Second, but which was as constantly violated by the Government of Massachusetts Bay, as will appear hereafter from the transfer of the Charter there in 1630, to the cancelling of the Charter under James the Second, in 1687. Endicot, confident in his ability to prevent the transmission of any evidence to England that could sustain the statements of the Browns, paid no heed to the instructions of the Company, and persisted in his course of Church revolution and proscription.
The letter addressed to Higginson and Skelton was signed not only by the Governor, but by the chief members of the Company, and among others by John Winthrop, who took the Royal Charter to Massachusetts Bay, and there, as Governor, administered it by maintaining all that Endicot was alleged to have done, continued to proscribe the worship of the Church of England, allowed its members no elective franchise as well as no eligibility for office, and persecuted all who attempted to worship in any other form than that of the Church of Endicot, Higginson and Skelton—a course in which he persevered until his energies began to fail; for Mr. Bancroft says: "The elder Winthrop had, I believe, relented before his death, and, it is said, had become weary of banishing heretics; the soul of the younger Winthrop [who withdrew from the intolerance of the Massachusetts Puritans, and was elected Governor of Connecticut] was incapable of harbouring a thought of intolerant cruelty; but the rugged Dudley was not mellowed by old age."
The letter addressed to Higginson and Skelton expressed a hope that the report made, in England as to their language and proceedings were "but shadows," but at the same time apprised them of their duty to vindicate their innocency or acknowledge and reform their misdeeds, declaring the favour of the Government to their Plantation, and their duty and determination not to abuse the confidence which the State had reposed in them. This letter is given entire in a note.
Nothing can be more clear, from the letters addressed by the Company both to Endicot and the ministers Higginson and Skelton, that renunciation of the worship of the Church of England was at variance with the intentions and profession of all parties in granting and receiving the Royal Charter, and that the only defence set up in England of Endicot, Higginson, and Skelton was a positive denial that they had done so. Dudley himself, Deputy Governor, who went to Massachusetts Bay in the same fleet of eleven ships with Governor Winthrop, wrote to his patroness, the Countess of Lincoln, several months after his arrival, and in his letter, dated March 12, 1630, explicitly denies the existence of any such changes in their worship as had been alleged; that they had become "Brownists [that is, Congregationalists] in religion," etc., and declaring all such allegations to be "false and scandalous reports;" appealing to their friends in England to "not easily believe that we are so soon turned from the profession we so long have made at home in our native land;" declaring that he knew "no one person who came over with us last year to be altered in judgment or affection, either in ecclesiastical or civil respects, since our coming here;" acknowledging the obligations of himself and friends to the King for the royal kindness to them, and praying his friends in England to "give no credit to such malicious aspersions, but be more ready to answer for us than we hear they have been." Dudley's own words are given in note. The only escape from the admission of Dudley's statements being utterly untrue is resort to a quibble which is inconsistent with candour and honesty—namely, that the Brownist or Congregational worship had been adopted by Endicot and his party before the arrival of Dudley; but the scope and evident design of his letter was to assure the Countess of Lincoln and his friends in England that no new Church worship had been established at Massachusetts Bay, when the reverse must have been known to Dudley, and when he, in support of the new Brownist or Congregational worship, became a fierce persecutor, even to old age, of all who would not conform to it; for, as Mr. Bancroft says, "the rugged soul of Dudley was not mellowed by old age."
But while Dudley, in Massachusetts, was denying to his English friends the existence of ecclesiastical changes there which all history now declares to have taken place, the "Patriarch of Dorchester," the father of the whole enterprise—the Rev. John White, a conformist clergyman of the Church of England, even under Archbishop Laud—wrote and published a pamphlet called "The Planters' Plea," in which he denied also that any ecclesiastical changes, as alleged, had taken place in the Massachusetts Plantation, and denounces the authors of such allegations in no measured terms. This pamphlet contains a "Brief Relation of the Occasion of the Planting of this Colony." After referring to the third, or "great emigration under Winthrop," the author proceeds:
"This is an impartial though brief relation of the occasion of planting the colony; the particulars whereof, if they could be entertained, were clear enough to any indifferent judgment, that the suspicious and scandalous reports raised upon these gentlemen and their friends (as if, under the colour of planting a colony, they intended to raise a seminary of faction and separation), are nothing than the fruits of jealousy of some distempered mind or, which is worse, perhaps savour of a desperate malicious plot of men ill affected to religion, endeavouring, by casting the undertakers into the jealousy of the State, to shut them out of those advantages which otherwise they might expect from the countenance of authority. Such men would be entreated to forbear that base and unchristian course of traducing persons under these odious names of Separatists, and enemies of Church and State, for fear lest their own tongues fall upon themselves by the justice of His hand who will not fail to clear the innocency of the just, and to cast back into the bosom of every slanderer the filth that he rakes up to throw into other men's faces. As for men of more indifferent and better minds, they would be seriously advised to beware of entertaining or admitting, much more countenancing and crediting, such uncharitable persons as discover themselves by their carriage, and that in this particular to be men ill affected towards the work itself, if not to religion, at which it aims, and consequently unlikely to report any truths of such as undertake it."
This language is very severe, not to say scurrilous; but it is the style of all Puritan historians and writers in regard to those who complained of the Puritan Government of Massachusetts. Not even Messrs. Bancroft and Palfrey have thought it unworthy of their eloquent pages. But imputation of motives and character is not argument, is most resorted to for want of argument, much less is it a refutation of statements now universally known to be true. The venerable author of this "Planters' Plea" denied in indignant terms that Endicot and his friends had become "Separatists" or "enemies of the Church" (he had doubtless been so assured); the very thing in which Endicot gloried—setting up a "Separatist" worship, forbidding the worship of "the Church," and banishing its members who resolved to continue the use of its Prayer Book, in public or in private.
This, however, is not all. Not only did the Company, in their letters to Endicot, Higginson, and Skelton, disdain to forbid anything like abolishing the Church of England and setting up a new Church, and the use of language offensive to their Sovereign and the Established Church; not only were there the most positive denials on both sides of the Atlantic that anything of the kind had been done by Endicot; but on the appointment of Winthrop to supersede Endicot as Governor, and on his departure with a fleet of eleven ships and three hundred "Adventurers" and "Planters," as they were called, a formal and affectionate address to their "Fathers and Brethren of the Church of England" was published by Winthrop from his ship Arabella, disclaiming any acts of some among them (evidently alluding to what Endicot had been alleged to have done) hostile to the Church of England, declaring their obligation and attachment to it, their prayers for it, and entreating the prayers of its members for the success of their undertaking. This address is said to have been written by the Rev. John White, the "Patriarch of Dorchester," and prime mover of the whole Plantation enterprise. It is an imputation upon the integrity of the author, and upon all parties concerned in the address, and absurd in itself, to suppose that the prayers of the Church in England were solicited with a view to the abolition of its worship in Massachusetts, and the establishment there of a "Separatist" Church. This address—not to be found in any modern history of the Massachusetts Puritans—speaks for itself, and is given in a note as originally published. It will be recollected that Winthrop and the other signers of this address had the Royal Charter with them, and now constituted the "principals" of the Company, whose authority in England now ceased, and was henceforth to be exercised at Massachusetts Bay. They beg that the "disaffection or indiscretion" of some of the Company—evidently alluding to what Endicot was reported to have done—might not be imputed to "the principals and body of the Company." Their words are, addressing their Fathers and Brethren of the Church of England: "And howsoever your charity may have met with some occasional discouragement through the misreport of our intentions, or through the disaffection or indiscretion of some of us, or rather amongst us (for we are not of those who dream of perfection in this world); yet we desire you would look at the principals and body of our Company, as those who esteem it an honour to call the Church of England, whence we rise, our dear Mother," &c.
It is passing strange that any man who respects himself could say, in the face of these words and of the whole address, that Mr. Winthrop and the "principals and body of the Company" did not profess to be members of the Church of England, and did not assure their "Fathers and Brethren in England" of their intention to remain so, and implore the prayers of their Fathers and Brethren for their success. No darker stigma could be inflicted upon the character of Winthrop and his Company, than the assertion that at the very moment of making and publishing these professions in England they intended to extinguish their "dear Mother" in Massachusetts, and banish every one from their Plantation who should use her Prayer Book, or worship as the "dear Mother" worshipped. Yet such is the theory, or fallacy, of some Puritan writers.
It has also been pretended that there was no Church of England in Massachusetts, and therefore the planters were free to set up what form of worship they pleased. It may be asked in reply, what makes a Church but the presence of members of it? An early Christian writer says that "wherever there are two or three believers there is a Church." But were not Endicot, and Higginson, and Skelton as much members of the Church of England on their arrival at Massachusetts Bay as when they left England? And were not the two latter as much clergymen of the Church of England when they met Endicot at Naumkeag, or Salem, as when they engaged with the Company in England to go out as ministers to the new Plantation? Does crossing the sea change or annihilate the churchmanship of the missionary, or the passenger, or the emigrant? There may not be a place of worship, or a minister, but there are the members of the Church. Is a missionary or agent of a Committee or Board of a particular Church in London, no longer a member of that Church when he reaches the foreign land to which he is sent because he finds no Church worship there, much less if he finds members of his own Church already there? Yet such are the pretences on which some Puritan writers, and even historians, attempt to justify the conduct of Endicot, Higginson, and Skelton! But, be it remembered, I make no objection to their renouncing their Church, and establishing for themselves and those who chose to follow them, a new Church confession and worship. The points of discussion are: 1. Was it honest for them to do so without consulting those who employed and settled them there, and provided for their religious instruction by clergymen of the Church of England? 2. Was it right or lawful, and was it not contrary to the laws of England, for them to abolish the worship of the Church of England and banish its members from the Plantation, as settlers, for continuing to worship according to the Church of England? 3. And can they be justified for denying to their friends in England, and their friends denying to the public and to the King, on their behalf and on their authority, what they had done, and what all the world now knows they had done, at Massachusetts Bay? 4. And finally, was it not a breach of faith to their Sovereign, from whom they had received their Charter, and, as they themselves acknowledged, most kind treatment, to commence their settlement by abolishing the established religion which both the King and they professed when the Charter was granted, and when they left England, and banish from the territory which the King had granted them all settlers who would not renounce the form of worship established in England from the Reformation, and adopt a new form of worship, which was not then lawful in England?
The foregoing pages bear witness that I have not taken a sentence from any writer adverse to the Puritans. I have adhered to their own statements in their own words, and as printed in their Records. Their eloquent apologist and defender, Mr. Bancroft, says: "The Charter confers on the colonists the rights of English subjects; it does not confer on them new and greater rights. On the contrary, they are strictly forbidden to make laws or ordinances repugnant to the laws or statutes of the realm of England. The express concession of power to administer the oath of supremacy demonstrates that universal toleration was not designed; and the freemen of the Corporation, it should be remembered, were not at that time Separatists. Even Higginson, and Hooker, and Cotton were still ministers of the Church of England."
From this accumulation of evidence—which might be greatly increased—I think it is as clear as day that the abolition of the worship of the Church of England, and the establishment of a new form of worship, and a new confession of faith, and a new ordination to the ministry at Massachusetts Bay in 1629, was a violation of the Charter, an insult to the King, and a breach of faith with him, notwithstanding his acknowledged kindness to them, and a renunciation of all the professions which were made by the Company in England.
This was the first seed sown, which germinated for one hundred and thirty years, and then ripened in the American Revolution; it was the opening wedge which shivered the transatlantic branches from the parent stock. It was the consciousness of having abused the Royal confidence and broken faith with their Sovereign, of having acted contrary to the laws and statutes of England, that led the Government of Massachusetts Bay to resist and evade all inquiries into their proceedings—to prevent all evidence from being transmitted to England as to their proceedings, and to punish as criminals all who should appeal to England against any of their proceedings—to claim, in short, independence and immunity from all responsibility to the Crown for anything that they did or might do. Had Endicot and his party not done what they knew to be contrary to the loyal Charter and the laws of England, they would have courted inquiry, that the light of their fair and loyal acts might be manifest to all England, in refutation of all statements made against them. Had the Browns and their Church friends been permitted to worship after the manner of their fathers and of their childhood, while Endicot and his converts elected to worship in a new manner, there would have been no cause of collision, and no spirit of distrust and hostility between the Massachusetts settlement and the King, any more than there was between either Charles the First or Second, and the settlements and separate Governments of Plymouth, Rhode Island, or Connecticut. But Endicot, in the spirit of tyranny and intolerance, would allow no liberty of worship not of his own establishment; and to maintain which in the spirit of proscription and persecution, caused all the disputes with the parent Government and all the persecutions and bloodshed on account of religion in Massachusetts which its Government inflicted in subsequent years, in contradistinction to the Governments of Plymouth, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and even Maryland.
[Footnote 44: The Company's Records on the whole affair are as follows:—
"Sept. 19, 1629.
"At this Court letters were read from Mr. Endicot and others of New England. And whereas a difference hath fallen out betwixt the Governor there and John and Samuel Brown; it was agreed by the Court that, for the determination of those differences, John and Samuel Brown might choose out any three of the Company on their behalf to hear the said differences, the Company choosing as many."
From the Records of the Company, September 29, 1629:
"The next thing taken into consideration was the letters from John and Samuel Brown to divers of their private friends here in England, whether the same should be delivered or detained, and whether they should be opened and read, or not. And for that it was to be doubted by probable circumstances that they had defamed the country of New England, and the Governor and Government there, it was thought fit that some of the said letters should be opened and publicly read, which was done accordingly; and the rest to remain in the Deputy's house (Goffe's), and the parties to whom they are directed to have notice; and Mr. Governor and Mr. Deputy, Mr. Treasurer, and Mr. Wright, or any two of them, are entreated to be at the opening and reading thereof, to the end that the Company may have notice if aught be inserted prejudicial to their Government or Plantation in New England. And it is also thought fit that none of the letters from Mr. Samuel Brown shall be delivered, but to be kept for use against him as occasion shall be offered." (Young's Chronicles, &c., pp. 91, 92.)
"Upon the desire of John and Samuel Brown it is thought fit that they should have a copy of the accusation against them, to the end they may be better prepared to make answer thereto."
The accusation against the Browns seems to have been simply for sedition and seditious speeches—a charge brought by persecutors for religion against the persecuted since the days of our Lord and his Apostles—a charge for being the victims of which the Puritans in England had loudly complained in the reigns of James and Charles.
There is but one other record of the Company on the affair of Endicot and the Browns, but the suppression of their letters shows clearly that the publication of them would have been damaging to the Company.
The intercepting and seizure of private letters, after the example of the Company in seizing private letters of the Browns and punishing their authors, was reduced to a system by the Government of Massachusetts Bay, whose officers were commanded to inspect all letters sent by each vessel leaving their port, and to seize all suspected letters, which were opened, and, if found to contain any complaint or statement against the local authorities, were retained and the authors arraigned and punished. Thus the Government and public in England were kept in perfect ignorance of what was transpiring at Massachusetts Bay, except what the local Government chose to communicate; and aggrieved persons in the Plantations were deprived of all means of appealing to the higher tribunals in England, and were condemned and punished for sedition in attempting to do so. This practice continued (as will be shown hereafter) until the death of King Charles and the usurpation of the regicides in England.
The following extract from the Company's Records seems to explain the manner in which the further proceedings of the Browns was stayed. In order to get some compensation for their losses, they seem to have agreed to the stipulations of the Company. But previous to this meeting of the Company, their Governor had written to Endicot, Higginson, and Skelton, in letters dated Oct. 18, 1629. These letters will be found in a note on a subsequent page. The extract from the Company's Records, dated February 10, 1630, is as follows:
"A writing of grievances of Samuel and John Brown was presented to the Court, wherein they desire recompense for loss and damage sustained by them in New England; and which this Assembly taking into consideration, do think fit upon their submitting to stand to the Company's final order for ending all differences between them (which they are to signify under their hands). Mr. Wright and Mr. Eaton are to hear their complaint, and to set down what they in their judgments shall think requisite to be allowed them for their pretended damage sustained, and so to make a final end with them accordingly." (Young's Chronicles, &c., p. 123.)]
[Footnote 45: Note by the compiler of the Records—"Those letters are unfortunately missing."]
[Footnote 46: The Company's letter to the Governor, dated October 16, 1629:—
"SIR,—We have written at this time to Mr. Skelton and Mr. Higginson touching the rumours of John and Samuel Brown, spread by them upon their arrival here, concerning some unadvised and scandalous speeches uttered by them in their public sermons or prayers, so have we thought meet to advertise you of what they have reported against you and them, concerning some rash innovations begun and practised in the civil and ecclesiastical government. We do well to consider that the Browns are likely to make the worst of anything they have observed in New England, by reason of your sending them back, against their wills, for their offensive behaviour, expressed in a general letter from the Company there; yet—for we likewise do consider that you are in a government newly formed, and want that assistance which the weight of such a business doth require—we may have leave to think it is possible some indigested counsels have too suddenly been put in execution, which may have ill construction with the State here, and make us obnoxious to any adversary. Let it therefore seem good unto you to be very sparing in introducing any laws or commands which may render yourself or us distasteful to the State here, to which we must and will have an obsequious eye. And as we make it our care to have the Plantation so ordered as may be most to the honour of God and of our gracious Sovereign, who hath bestowed many large privileges and royal favours upon this Company, so we desire that all such as shall by word or deed do anything to detract from God's glory or his Majesty's honour, may be duly corrected, for their amendment and the terror of others. And to that end, if you know anything which hath been spoken or done, either by the ministers (whom the Browns do seem tacitly to blame for some things uttered in their sermons or prayers) or any others, we require you, if any such there be, that you form due process against the offenders, and send it to us by the first, that we may, as our duty binds us, use means to have them duly punished.
"So not doubting but we have said enough, we shall repose ourselves upon your wisdom, and do rest
"Your loving friends. "To the Governor, Capt. Endicot."]
[Footnote 47: These innovations, I suppose, had reference principally to the formation of the Church at Salem, the adoption of a confession of faith and covenant by the people, and their election and ordination of the ministers. Endicot, we know, sympathized fully with the Separatists of New Plymouth.—Note by the Editor of the Records.]
[Footnote 48: This letter has always been missing.]
[Footnote 49: History of the United States, Vol. I., pp. 486, 487.]
[Footnote 50: The Company's letter to the Ministers:—
There are lately arrived here, being sent from the Governor, Mr. John Endicot, as men of faction and evil-conditioned, John and Samuel Brown, being brethren who since their arrival have raised rumours (as we hear) of divers scandalous and intemperate speeches passed from one or both of you in your public sermons and prayers in New England, as also of some innovations attempted by you. We have reason to hope that their reports are but slanders; partly, for your godly and quiet conditions are well known to some of us; as also, for that these men, your accusers, seem to be embittered against Captain Endicot for injuries which they have received from some of you there. Yet, for that we all know that the best advised may overshoot themselves, we have thought good to inform you of what we hear, and if you be innocent you may clear yourselves; or, if otherwise, you may be intreated to look back upon your miscarriage with repentance; or at least to notice that we utterly disallow any such passages, and must and will take order for the redress thereof, as shall become us. But hoping, as we said, of your unblamableness herein, we desire only that this may testify to you and others that we are tender of the least aspersion which, either directly or obliquely, may be cast upon the State here; to whom we owe so much duty, and from whom we have received so much favour in this Plantation where you reside. So with our love and due respect to your callings, we rest,
Your loving friends,
R. SALTONSTALL, THO. ADAMS, ISA JOHNSON, SYM WHITCOMBE, MATT. CRADOCK, Governor, WM. VASSAL, THOS. GOFFE, Deputy, WM. PYNCHION, GEO. HARWOOD, Treasurer, JOHN REVELL, JOHN WINTHROP, FRANCIS WEBB.
London, 16th October, 1629."]
[Footnote 51: Extract from Deputy Governor Dudley's letter to the Countess of Lincoln, dated November 12th, 1631:
"To increase the heap of our sorrows, we received from our friends in England, and by the reports of those who came hither in this ship [the Charles] to abide with us (who were about twenty-six), that they who went discontentedly from us last year, out of their evil affections towards us, have raised many false and scandalous reports against us, affirming us to be Brownists in religion, and ill affected to our State at home, and that these vile reports have won credit with some who formerly wished us well. But we do desire and cannot but hope that wise and impartial men will at length consider that such malcontents have ever pursued this manner of casting dirt, to make others seem as foul as themselves, and that our godly friends, to whom we have been known, will not easily believe that we are so soon turned from the profession we so long have made in our native country. And for our further clearing, I truly affirm that I know no one person, who came over with us last year, to be altered in judgment and affection, either in ecclesiastical and civil respects, since our coming hither. But we do continue to pray daily for our Sovereign Lord the King, the Queen, the Prince, the Royal blood, the Council and whole State, as duty binds us to do, and reason persuades us to believe. For how ungodly and unthankful should we be if we should not do thus, who came hither by virtue of his Majesty's letters patent and under his gracious protection; under which shelter we hope to live safely, and from whose kingdom and subjects we now have received and hereafter expect relief. Let our friends therefore give no credit to such malicious aspersions, but be more ready to answer for us than we hear they have been." (Young's Chronicles, &c., pp. 331, 332.)]
[Footnote 52: "'The Planters' Plea' was printed in London in 1630, soon after the sailing of Winthrop's fleet [with Dudley]. It has generally been ascribed to the Rev. John White, of Dorchester, England. 'The Planters' Plea' appears to have been unknown to our historians. Neither Mather, Prince, Hutchinson, Bancroft, nor Graham make any allusion to it." (Young's Chronicles of the First Planters of the Colony of Massachusetts, from 1623 to 1630, pp. 15, 16, in a note.)]
[Footnote 53: The first emigration under the authority of the Massachusetts Company was that under "Master Endicot, who was sent over Governor, assisted with a few men, and arriving in safety there in September, 1628, and uniting his own men with those who were formerly planted there into one body, they made up in all not much above fifty or sixty persons."
The second emigration was under Higginson, who says: "We brought with us about two hundred passengers and planters more," arriving in June, 1629.
The third, or "great emigration," was under Winthrop, arriving in May, 1630.]
[Footnote 54: Young's Chronicles, &c., pp. 15, 16.]
[Footnote 55: This address is called "The humble Request of his Majesties loyall subjects, the Governor and the Company late gone for New England; to the rest of their Brethren in and of the Church of England," and is as follows;
"REVEREND FATHERS AND BRETHREN,—
"The generall rumor of this solemne enterprise, wherein ourselves, with others, through the providence of the Almightie, are engaged, as it may spare us the labour of imparting our occasion unto you, so it gives us the more incouragement to strengthen ourselves by the procurement of the prayers and blessings of the Lord's faithful servants: For which end wee are bold to have recourse unto you, as those whom God hath placed nearest his throne of mercy; which, as it affords you the more opportunitie, so it imposeth the greater bond upon you to intercede for his people in all their straights. We beseech you, therefore, by the mercies of the Lord Jesus, to consider us as your Brethren, standing in very great need of your helpe, and earnestly imploring it. And howsoever your charitie may have met with some occasion of discouragement through the misreport of our intentions, or through the disaffection or indiscretion of some of us, or rather amongst us, for wee are not of those that dreame of perfection in this world; yet we desire you would be pleased to take notice of the principals and body of our Company, as those who esteeme it an honour to call the Church of England, from whence we rise, our deare Mother, and cannot part from our native countrie, where she specially resideth, without much sadness of heart and many tears in our eyes, ever acknowledging that such hope and part as we have obtained in the common salvation, we have received it in her bosome, and suckt it from her breasts: Wee leave it not, therefore, as loathing the milk wherewith wee were nourished there; but blessing God for the parentage and education, as members of the same body shall always rejoice in her good, and unfeignedly grieve for any sorrow that shall ever betide her; and, while we have breath, sincerely desire and endeavour the continuance and abundance of her welfare, with the enlargement of her bounds in the kingdome of Christ Jesus.
"Be pleased, therefore, Reverend Fathers and Brethren, to helpe forward this worke now in hand; which, if it prosper, you shall be the more glorious; howsoever, your judgment is with the Lord, and your reward with your God. It is an usuall and laudable exercise of your charity to recommend to the prayers of your congregations the necessities and straights of your private neighbours. Doe the like for a Church springing out of your owne bowels. Wee conceive much hope that this remembrance of us, if it be frequent and fervent, will bee a most prosperous gale in our sailes, and provide such a passage and welcome for us from the God of the whole earth, as both we which shall finde it, and yourselves with the rest of our friends who shall heare of it, shall be much enlarged to bring in such daily returns of thanksgivings, as the specialties of his Providence and Goodnes may justly challenge at all our hands. You are not ignorant that the Spirit of God stirred up the Apostle Paul to make continuall mention of the Church of Philippi (which was a colonie of Rome); let the same Spirit, we beseech you, put you in mind, that are the Lord's Remembrancers, to pray for us without ceasing (who are a weake Colony from yourselves), making continuall request for us to God in all your prayers.
"What we entreat of you, that are the ministers of God, that we crave at the hands of all the rest of our Brethren, that they would at no time forget us in their private solicitations at the throne of grace.
"If any there be, who, through want of clear intelligence of our course, or tendernesses of affection towards us, cannot conceive so well of our way as we could desire, we would entreat such not to despise us, nor to desert us in their prayers and affections; but to consider rather that they are so much the more bound to expresse the bowels of their compassion towards us; remembering alwaies that both Nature and Grace doth binde us to relieve and rescue, with our utmost and speediest power, such as are deare unto us, when we conceive them to be running uncomfortable hazards.
"What goodness you shall extend to us, in this or any other Christian kindnesse, wee, your Brethren in Christ Jesus, shall labour to repay, in what dutie wee are or shall be able to performe; promising, so farre as God shall enable us, to give him no rest on your behalfes, wishing our heads and hearts may be as fountains of tears for your everlasting welfare, when wee shall be in our poore cottages in the wildernesse, overshadowed with the spirit of supplication, through the manifold necessities and tribulations which may, not altogether unexpectedly nor we hope unprofitably, befall us.
"And so commending you to the Grace of God in Christ, we shall ever rest
"Your assured Friends and Brethren." Signed by JOHN WINTHROP, Governor;
Charles Fines, George Philips, Richard Saltonstall, Isaac Johnson, Thomas Dudley, William Coddington, &c., and was dated "From Yarmouth, aboard the Arabella, April 7, 1630."]
[Footnote 56: History of the United States, Vol. I., p. 273.
In a note, Mr. Bancroft says:—"The Editor of Winthrop did me the kindness to read to me unpublished letters which are in his possession, and which prove that the Puritans in England were amazed as well as alarmed at the boldness of their brethren in Massachusetts." (Ib.)
Why have these letters remained unpublished, when every line from any opposed to Endicot and his party, however private and confidential, has been published to the world? The very fact that all the letters of Endicot and the Browns, and of the Puritans who wrote on the subject, according to Mr. Bancroft, have been suppressed, affords very strong ground to believe that the Massachusetts Puritans violated the acknowledged objects of the Charter and the terms of their settlement, and committed the first breach of faith to their Sovereign, and inculcated that spirit and commenced that series of acts which resulted in the dismemberment of the British Empire in America.]
[Footnote 57: The General Assembly of the Province of Maryland passed an Act in 1649 containing the following provision:
"No person whatsoever, in this province, professing to believe in Jesus Christ, shall from henceforth be anywise troubled or molested for his or her religion, or in the free exercise thereof, or any way compelled to the belief or exercise of any other religion against his or her consent."
Mr. Bancroft says: "Christianity was made the law of the land [in Maryland], and no preference was given to any sect, and equality in religious rights, no less than civil freedom, was assured."]
CONTEST BETWEEN KING CHARLES AND THE MASSACHUSETTS BAY PURITANS, DURING TEN TEARS, FROM 1630 TO 1640; PROFESSIONS OF THE PURITANS ON LEAVING ENGLAND; THEIR CONDUCT ON ARRIVING AT MASSACHUSETTS BAY; SUPPRESSION OF PURITAN CORRESPONDENCE; COMPLAINTS TO ENGLAND OF THEIR CHURCH REVOLUTION AND INTOLERANCE; MEMBERS OF THE NEW CONGREGATIONAL CHURCHES ALONE ELECTORS AND ELIGIBLE TO OFFICE; FIVE-SIXTHS OF THE POPULATION DISFRANCHISED; COMPLAINTS OF THE DISFRANCHISED AND PROSCRIBED TO ENGLAND; SUPPRESSION OF CORRESPONDENCE AND THE DENIAL OF FACTS, AND THE PROFESSIONS OF THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE MASSACHUSETTS PERSECUTORS OF EPISCOPALIANS OBTAIN A FAVOURABLE DECISION OF THE KING AND PRIVY COUNCIL, AND THEY ARE ENCOURAGED IN THEIR SETTLEMENT AND TRADE; TRANSFER OF THE CHARTER, PLAIN VIOLATIONS OF IT; RUMOURS OF THE APPOINTMENT OF A GOVERNOR-GENERAL, AND APPOINTMENT OF A ROYAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY AND REGULATION; PREPARATION TO RESIST THE APPOINTMENT AT MASSACHUSETTS BAY; ROYAL AND COLONIAL RESTRICTIONS ON EMIGRATION; IT CEASES; COLONIAL PROPERTY AND TRADE DEPRESSED; REVIEW OF THE TREATMENT OF MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY BY KING CHARLES THE FIRST, AND THEIR PROFESSIONS AND TREATMENT IN RETURN; THE REAL AUTHORS AND PROMOTERS OF RELIGIOUS TOLERATION AND LIBERTY IN ENGLAND.
It is well known that the Puritans in England objected to the ceremonies enforced by Laud, as "corrupt and superstitious," and many ministers were ejected from their benefices for nonconformity to them; but none of the nonconformists who refused compliance with such "corrupt and superstitious" ceremonies ever professed that the polity and worship of the Church was "corrupt and superstitious," and should therefore be renounced, much less abolished, as did Endicot and his party at Massachusetts Bay, and that twenty years before the death of Charles the First and the usurpation of Cromwell.
It might be confidently expected that Mr. Winthrop, after an address of loyalty and affection to his "Fathers and Brethren of the Church of England," from the very ship on which he left his native land, would, on his arrival at Massachusetts Bay and assuming its government, have rectified the wrongs of Endicot and his party, and have secured at least freedom of worship to the children of his "dear Mother." But he seems to have done nothing of the kind; he seems to have fallen in with the very proceedings of Endicot which had been disclaimed by him in his address to his "Fathers and Brethren of the Church of England," on embarking at Yarmouth for his new government. American historians are entirely silent on the subject. It is very clear that Mr. Winthrop had correspondence with his English friends on these matters, as intimated by Mr. Bancroft in words quoted on page 59. If this suppressed correspondence were published, it would doubtless show how it was that Mr. Winthrop, like Endicot, and to the astonishment of his Puritan friends in England, changed from and suppressed the worship of his "dear Mother" Church, on changing from one side of the Atlantic to the other. Mr. Hutchinson, referring to the address of Governor Winthrop to his "Fathers and Brethren of the Church of England," to remove suspicions and misconstructions, says: "This paper has occasioned a dispute, whether the first settlers in Massachusetts were of the Church of England or not. However problematical it may be what they were while they remained in England, they left no room to doubt after they arrived in America."
But though the Editor of Winthrop has suppressed the letters which would explain how Mr. Winthrop changed from Episcopalianism to Congregationalism on his assuming the government of Massachusetts Bay, we are at no loss to know the character of his proceedings, since, in less than a year after his arrival there, the worship of his "dear Mother" Church not only continued to be suppressed, but its members were deprived of the privilege of even becoming "freemen" or electors in the new "Commonwealth," as it forthwith begun to call itself, and the privileges of citizenship were restricted to members of the new established Congregational Churches; for on May 18th, 1631, the newly organized Legislature, or "General Court," as it was called, enacted that, "To the end the body of the commons may be preserved of honest and good men, it was ordered and agreed that for time to come, no man shall be admitted to the freedom of this body politic but such as are members of some of the churches within the limits of the same."
Mr. Bancroft, after quoting this extraordinary and unprecedented enactment, remarks—"The principle of universal suffrage was the usage of Virginia; Massachusetts, resting for its defence on its unity and its enthusiasm, gave all power to the select band of religious votaries, into which the avenues could be opened only by the elders [ministers]. The elective franchise was thus confined to a small proportion of the whole population, and the Government rested on an essentially aristocratic foundation. But it was not an aristocracy of wealth; the polity was a sort of theocracy; the servant of the bondman, if he were a member of the Church, might be a freeman of the Company."—"It was the reign of the Church; it was a commonwealth of the chosen people in covenant with God."
It thus appears that the new Congregationalists of Massachusetts were far behind the old Episcopalians of Virginia in the first principle of civil liberty; for while among the latter the Episcopal Church alone was the recognized Church, the elective franchise was not restricted to the members of that Church, but was universal; while in the new Government of Massachusetts, among the new Puritan Congregationalists, none but a Congregational Church member could be a citizen elector, and none could be a Church member without the consent and recommendation of the minister; and thus the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Bay, at the very beginning, became, in the words of Mr. Bancroft, "the reign of the Church"—not indeed of the Church of England, but of the new Congregational Church established by joining of hands and covenant around the well-pump of Naumkeag—then christened Salem.
The New England historians assure us that on the settlement of the Puritans at Massachusetts Bay, the connection between Church and State ceased. It is true that the connection of the Church of England with the State ceased there; it is true that there was not, in the English sense of the phrase, connection between the Church and State there; for there was no State but the Church; the "Commonwealth" was not the government of free citizens by universal suffrage, or even of property citizens, but was "the reign of the Church," the members of which, according to Mr. Bancroft himself, constituted but "a small proportion of the whole population"—this great majority (soon five-sixths) of the population being mere helots, bound to do the work and pay the taxes imposed upon them by the "reigning Church," but denied all eligibility to any office in the "Commonwealth," or even the elective franchise of a citizen! It was indeed such a "connection between Church and State" as had never existed, and has never existed to this day, in any Protestant country. "The reign of the Church"—the small minority over the great majority of the "Commonwealth;" and this system of "the reign of the Church" over the State—of the government of a Church minority of one-sixth over a whole population of five-sixths—continued for sixty years (as will hereafter appear), until suppressed by a second Royal Charter, which placed all citizens upon equal footing before the law, and in respect to the elective franchise. Though the Congregational Puritans of Massachusetts Bay may have been the fathers of American independence of England, they were far from being the fathers or even precursors of American liberty. They neither understood nor practised the first principles of civil and religious liberty, or even the rights of British subjects as then understood and practised in England itself.
It is admitted on all sides, that, according to the express words of the Royal Charter, the planter emigrants of Massachusetts Bay should enjoy all "the privileges of British subjects," and that no law or resolution should be enacted there "contrary to the laws and statutes of England." Was it not, therefore, perfectly natural that members of the Church of England emigrating to Massachusetts Bay, and wishing to continue and worship as such after their arrival there, should complain to their Sovereign in Council, the supreme authority of the State, that, on their arrival in Massachusetts, they found themselves deprived of the privilege of worshipping as they had worshipped in England, and found themselves subject to banishment the moment they thus worshipped? And furthermore, when, unless they actually joined one of the new Congregational Churches, first established at Massachusetts Bay, August 6th, 1629, five months after granting the Royal Charter (March 4th, 1629), they could enjoy none of the rights of British subjects, they must have been more or less than men had they not complained, and loudly complained, to the highest authority that could redress their grievances, of their disappointments, and wrongs as British subjects emigrating to Massachusetts. And could the King in Council refuse to listen to such complaints, and authorize inquiry into their truth or falsehood, without violating rights which, even at that period of despotic government, were regarded as sacred to even the humblest British subject? And the leading complainants were men of the most respectable position in England, and who had investments in New England—not only the Messrs. Brown, but Capt. John Mason and Sir Ferdinand Gorges, who complained that the Massachusetts Company had encroached upon the territory held by them under Royal Charter—territory which afterwards constituted portions of New Hampshire and Maine. Were the King and Privy Council to be precluded from inquiring into such complaints? Yet New England historians assail the complainants for stating their grievances, and the King and Council for listening to them even so far as to order an inquiry into them. The petitioners are held up as slanderers and enemies, and the King and Council represented as acting tyrannically and as infringing the rights of the Massachusetts Puritans, and seeking the destruction of their liberties and enterprise even by inquiring into complaints made. The actual proceedings of the King in Council prove the injustice and falsity of such insinuations and statements.
The pretence set up in Massachusetts was that the authority of the Local Government was supreme; that to appeal from it to the King himself was sedition and treason; and the defence set up in England was that the allegations were untrue, and that the Massachusetts Corporation was acting loyally according to the provisions of the Charter and for the interests of the King. The account of these proceedings before the King's Privy Council is given in a note from Mr. Palfrey himself.
In regard to these proceedings, the reader's attention is directed to the following facts: 1. The principal charges of the complainants were denied—resting to be proved by parties that must be called from that place [Massachusetts], which required long, expensive time, "and were in due time further to be inquired into;" and the Massachusetts Corporation took effectual precaution against any documentary evidence being brought thence, or "parties" to come, unless at the expense of their all, even should the complainants be able and willing to incur the expense of bringing them to England. The Privy Council therefore deferred further inquiry into these matters, and in the meantime gave the accused the benefit of the doubt and postponement. 2. The nominal Governor of the Company in England, Mr. Cradock, Sir R. Saltonstall, &c., "appeared before the Committee of Council on the Company's behalf, and had the address or good fortune to vindicate their clients," &c. This they did so effectually as to prejudice the King and Council against the complainants, and excite their sympathies in favour of the Company, the King saying "he would have them severely punished who did abuse his Governor and Plantations." But the question arises, And by what sort of "address or good fortune" were Messrs. Cradock and Company able to vindicate their clients "to the King's satisfaction and their complete triumph?" Must it not have been by denying the charges which all the world now knows to have been true? Must it not have been by appealing to the address of Mr. Winthrop and Company to their "Fathers and Brethren of the Church of England," declaring their undying attachment to their "dear Mother?" and also by appealing to the letter of Deputy Governor Dudley to the Countess of Lincoln, declaring in 1630 that no such Church innovations as had been alleged had taken place at Massachusetts Bay? Must it not have been by their assuring the King's Council that the worship of the Church of England had not been abolished in Massachusetts, much less had anyone been banished thence for continuing to worship according to the Prayer Book of that Church? Must it not have been by their declaring that they were faithfully and loyally carrying out the intentions and provisions of the Charter, according to the statutes and laws of England? 3. Let it be further observed that the King, according to the statements of the very party who was imposing upon his confidence in their sincerity, that throughout this proceeding he evinced the same good-will to the Massachusetts Bay colony that he had done from the granting of the Charter, and which they had repeatedly acknowledged in their communications with each other, as quoted above. Yet the Puritan historians ascribe to Charles jealous hostility to their colony from the commencement, and on that ground endeavour to justify the deceptive conduct of the Company, both in England and at Massachusetts Bay. Had Charles or his advisers cherished any hostile feelings against the Company, there was now a good opportunity of showing it. Had he been disposed to act the despot towards them, he might at once, on a less plausible pretext than that now afforded him, have cancelled his Charter and taken the affairs of the colony into his own hands.
It is a singular concurrence of circumstances, and on which I leave the reader to make his own comments, that while the representatives of the Company were avowing to the King the good faith in which their clients were carrying out his Majesty's royal intentions in granting the Charter, they at that very time were not allowing a single Planter to worship as the King worshipped, and not one who desired so to worship to enjoy the privilege of a British subject, either to vote or even to remain in the colony. As Mr. Bancroft says in the American, but not in the English edition of his History, men "were banished because they were Churchmen. Thus was Episcopacy first professed in Massachusetts, and thus was it exiled. The blessings of the promised land were to be kept for Puritan dissenters."
But while the King and Privy Council were showering kindness and offers of further help, if needed, to advance the Plantation, believing their statements "that things were carried there as was pretended when the patents were granted," complaints could not fail to reach England of the persecution of members of the Church of England, and of the disfranchisement of all Planters who would not join the Congregational Church, in spite of the efforts of the dominant party in Massachusetts to intercept and stifle them; and it at length came to the knowledge of the King and Privy Council that the Charter itself had been, as it was expressed, "surreptitiously" carried from England to Massachusetts, new councillors appointed, and the whole government set up at Massachusetts Bay instead of being administered in England, as had been intended when the Charter was granted. This had been kept a profound secret for nearly four years; but now came to light in 1634.
It has been contended that this transfer of the Charter was lawful, and was done in accordance with the legal opinion of an able lawyer, Mr. John White, one of the party to the transfer. I enter not into the legal question; the more important question is, Was it honourable? Was it loyal? Was it according to the intention of the King in granting it? Was there any precedent, and has there ever been one to this day, for such a proceeding? And when they conceived the idea of transferring the management of the Company from London to Massachusetts, and Mr. Winthrop and his friends refused to emigrate except on the condition of such transfer of the Charter, did not fairness and duty dictate application to the King, who granted the Charter, for permission to transfer it as the best means of promoting the original objects of it? And is there not reason to believe that their application would have been successful, from the kind conduct of the King and Privy Council towards them, as stated above by themselves, when complaints were made against them? Was their proceeding straightforward? Was not the secrecy of it suspicious, and calculated to excite suspicion, when, after more than three years of secrecy, the act became known to the King and Privy Council?
The complainants against the Company in 1632, who found themselves so completely overmatched before the Privy Council by the denials, professions, and written statements produced by Mr. Cradock, Sir R. Saltonstall, and others, could not but feel exasperated when they knew that their complaints were well-founded; and they doubtless determined to vindicate the truth and justice of them at the first opportunity. That opportunity was not long delayed. The discovery that the Charter and government of the Company had been secretly transferred from London to Massachusetts Bay excited suspicion and curiosity; rumours and complaints of the proscriptions and injustice of the Colonial Government began to be whispered on all sides; appeal was again made to the King in Council; and the further inquiry indicated in the proceedings of the Privy Council two years before, was decided upon; a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into these and all other complaints from the colonies, and redress the wrongs if found to exist; the appointment of a Governor-General over all the New England colonies, to see justice done to all parties, was contemplated.
The complainants against the conduct of the government of Endicot and Winthrop are represented by their historians as a few individuals of malicious feelings and more than doubtful character; but human nature at Massachusetts Bay must have been different from itself in all civilized countries, could it have been contented or silent when the rights of citizenship were denied, as Mr. Bancroft himself says, to "by far the larger proportion of the whole population," and confined to the members of a particular denomination, when the only form of worship then legalized in England was proscribed, and its members banished from the land claimed as the exclusive possession of Puritan dissenters. The most inquisitorial and vigilant efforts of the Local Government to suppress the transmission of information to England, and punish complainants, could not prevent the grievances of the proscribed and oppressed being wafted to England, and commanding attention, and especially in connection with the startling fact now first discovered, that the Royal Charter had been removed from England, and a government under its authority set up at Massachusetts Bay.
Mr. Bancroft ascribes the complaints on these subjects as originating in "revenge," and calls them "the clamours of the malignant," and as amounting to nothing but "marriages celebrated by civil magistrates," and "the system of Colonial Church discipline;" confined, as he himself says elsewhere, "the elective franchise to a small proportion of the whole population," and "established the reign of the [Congregational] Church." Mr. Bancroft proceeds: "But the greater apprehensions were raised by a requisition that the Letters Patent of the Company should be produced in England—a requisition to which the emigrants returned no reply."
"Still more menacing," says Mr. Bancroft, "was the appointment of an arbitrary Special Commission [April 10, 1634] for all the colonies.
"The news of this Commission soon reached Boston [Sept. 19, 1634;] and it was at the same time rumoured that a Governor-General was on his way. The intelligence awakened the most intense interest in the whole colony, and led to the boldest measures. Poor as the new settlements were, six hundred pounds were raised towards fortifications; 'and the assistants and the deputies discovered their minds to one another,' and the fortifications were hastened. All the ministers assembled in Boston [Jan. 19, 1635]; it marks the age, that their opinions were consulted; it marks the age still more, that they unanimously declared against the reception of a General Governor. 'We ought,' said the fathers of Israel, 'to defend our lawful possessions, if we are able; if not, to avoid and protract.'"
The rumour of the appointment of a Governor-General over all the New England colonies was premature; but it served to develop the spirit of the ruling Puritans of Massachusetts Bay in their determining to resist the appointment of a general officer to which no other British colony had, or has, ever objected. The decision in their behalf by the King in Council, in regard to the complaints made against them in 1632, deserved their gratitude; the assurance in the recorded Minutes of the Privy Council, that the King had never intended to impose upon them those Church ceremonies which they had objected to in England, and the liberty of not observing which they went to New England to enjoy, should have produced corresponding feelings and conduct on their part. In their perfect liberty of worship in New England, there was no difference between them and their Sovereign. In the meeting of the Privy Council where the Royal declaration is recorded that liberty of worship, without interference or restriction, should be enjoyed by all the settlers in New England, Laud (then Bishop of London) is reported as present. Whatever were the sins of King Charles and Laud in creating by their ceremonies, and then punishing, nonconformists in England, they were not justly liable to the charge of any such sins in their conduct towards the Puritans of New England. Throughout the whole reign of either Charles the First or Second, there is no act or intimation of their interfering, or intending or desiring to interfere, with the worship which the Puritans had chosen, or might choose, in New England. In Plymouth the Congregational worship was adopted in 1620, and was never molested; nor would there have been any interference with its adoption nine years afterwards at Massachusetts Bay, had the Puritans there gone no further than their brethren at Plymouth had gone, or their brethren afterwards in Rhode Island and Connecticut. But the Puritans at Massachusetts Bay assumed not merely the liberty of worship for themselves, but the liberty of prohibiting any other form of worship, and of proscribing and banishing all who would not join in their worship; that is, doing in Massachusetts what they complained so loudly of the King and Laud doing in England. This was the cause and subject of the whole contest between the Corporation of Massachusetts Bay and the authorities in England. If it were intolerance and tyranny for the King and Laud to impose and enforce one form of worship upon all the people of England, it was equal intolerance and tyranny for the Government of Massachusetts Bay to impose and enforce one form of worship there upon all the inhabitants, and especially when their Charter gave them no authority whatever in the matter of Church organization. They went to New England avowedly for liberty of worship; and on arriving there they claimed the right to persecute and to banish or disfranchise all those who adhered to the worship of the Church to which they professed to belong, as did their persecutors when they left England, and which was the only Church then tolerated by the laws of England.
When it could no longer be concealed or successfully denied that the worship of the Church of England had been forbidden at Massachusetts Bay and its members disfranchised; and when it now came to light that the Charter had been secretly transferred from England to Massachusetts, and a new Governor and Council appointed to administer it there; and when it further became known that the Governor and Council there had actually prepared to resist by arms the appointment of a General Governor and Royal Commission, and had not only refused to produce the Charter, but had (to "avoid and protract") not even deigned to acknowledge the Privy Council's letter to produce it, the King was thrown upon the rights of his Crown, either to maintain them or to have the Royal authority exiled from a part of his dominions. And when it transpired that a large and increasing emigration from England was flowing to the very Plantation where the Church had been abolished and the King's authority set at defiance, it became a question of prudence whether such emigration should not be restricted; and accordingly a Royal Order in Council was issued forbidding the conveyance of any persons to New England except those who should have a Royal license.
This Order has been stigmatized by New England writers as most tyrannical and oppressive. I do not dispute it; but it was provided for in the Royal Charter, and the writers who assail King Charles and his Council for such an Act should remember that Cromwell himself and his Rump Parliament passed a similar Act eighteen years later, in 1653, as will hereafter appear; and it is a curious coincidence, that the same year, 1637, in which the King ordered that no person should be conveyed to New England without first obtaining a certificate that they had taken the oath of allegiance and supremacy, and conformed to the worship of the Church of England, the Massachusetts General Court passed an ordinance of a much more stringent character, and interfering with emigration and settlement, and even private hospitality and business to an extent not paralleled in Colonial history. It was enacted "That none shall entertain a stranger who should arrive with intent to reside, or shall allow the use of any habitation, without liberty from the Standing Council."
The Charter having been transferred to Massachusetts, a new Council appointed to administer it there, and no notice having been taken of the Royal order for its production, the Commissioners might have advised the King to cancel the Charter forthwith and take into his own hands the government of the obstreperous colony; but instead of exercising such authority towards the colonists, as he was wont to do in less flagrant cases in England, he consented to come into Court and submit his own authority, as well as the acts of the resistant colonists, to judicial investigation and decision. The Grand Council of Plymouth, from which the Massachusetts Company had first procured their territory, were called upon to answer by what authority and at whose instigation the Charter had been conveyed to New England. They disclaimed any participation in or knowledge of the transaction, and forthwith surrendered their own patent to the King. In doing so they referred to the acts of the new patentees at Massachusetts Bay, "whereby they did rend in pieces the foundation of the building, and so framed unto themselves both new laws and new conceits of matter of religion, forms of ecclesiastical and temporal orders of government, and punishing divers that would not approve them," etc. etc., and expressed their conviction of the necessity of his Majesty "taking the whole business into his own hands."
After this surrender of their Charter by the Grand Council of Plymouth (England), the Attorney-General Bankes brought a quo warranto in the Court of King's Bench against the Governor, Deputy-Governor, and Council of the Corporation of the Massachusetts Bay, to compel the Company to answer to the complaints made against them for having violated the provisions of the patent. The patentees residing in England disclaiming all responsibility for the acts complained of at Massachusetts (except Mr. Cradock), and no defence having been made of those acts, nor the authors of them appearing either personally or by counsel, they stood outlawed, and judgment was entered against the Company in the person of Mr. Cradock for the usurpation charged in the information.
The Lords Commissioners, in pursuance of this decision of the Court of King's Bench, sent a peremptory order to the Governor of Massachusetts Bay, to transmit the Charter to England, intimating that, in case of "further neglect or contempt," "a strict course would be taken against them." They were now brought face to face with the sovereign authority; the contempt of silence; nor did they think it prudent to renew military preparations of resistance, as they had done in 1634; their policy now was to "avoid and protract," by pleading exile, ignorance, innocence, begging pardon and pity, yet denying that they had done anything wrong, and insinuating that if their Charter should be cancelled, their allegiance would be forfeited and they would remove, with the greater part of the population, and set up a new government. I have not met with this very curious address in any modern history of the United States—only glosses of it. I give it entire in a note. They profess a willingness to "yield all due obedience to their Soveraigne Lord the King's Majesty," but that they "are much grieved, that your Lordships should call in our patent, there being no cause knowne to us, nor any delinquency or fault of ours expressed in the order sent to us for that purpose, our government being according to his Majestie's patent, and wee not answerable for any defects in other plantations. This is that which his Majestie's subjects here doe believe and professe, and thereupon wee are all humble suitors to your Lordships, that you will be pleased to take into further consideration our condition, and to afford us the liberty of subjects, that we may know what is laid to our charge; and have leaive and time to answer for ourselves before we be condemned as a people unworthy of his Majestie's favour or protection."
This profession and these statements are made in presence of the facts that three years before the Royal Commissioners had in like manner demanded the production of the patent in England, giving the reasons for it, and the present "humble suitors to their Lordships" had "avoided and protracted," by not even acknowledging the reception of the order, much less answering the charges of which they were informed, but rather preparing military fortifications for resisting a General Governor and Royal Commissioners of Inquiry, and "for regulating the Plantations." Yet they profess not to know "what is laid to their charge," and are "grieved that their Lordships should now demand the patent," as if the production of it had never before been demanded. It will be seen by the letter of their Lordships, given in a note on p. 77, that they refer to this treatment of their former order, and say, in the event of "further neglect and contempt" a strict course would be taken against them.
The authors of the Address profess that the cancelling of their Charter would involve the loss of their labours, their removal from Massachusetts, the exposure of the country to the invasions of the French and Dutch, the forfeiture of their allegiance, and their setting up a new government. It was a mere pretext that the Plantation becoming a Crown colony, as it would on the cancelling of the Charter, would not secure to the planters the protection of the Crown, as in the neighbouring Plymouth settlement, which had no Royal Charter. They knew that, under the protection of the King and laws of England, their liberties and lives and properties would be equally secure as those of any other of his Majesty's subjects. They twice repeat the misstatement that "nothing had been laid to their charge," and "no fault found upon them;" they insinuate that they would be causelessly denied the protection of British subjects, that their allegiance would be renounced, and they with the greater part of the population would establish a new government, which would be a dangerous precedent for other colonies. These denials, professions, insinuations, and threats, they call "opening their griefes," and conclude in the following obsequious, plaintive, and prayerful words:
"If in any thing wee have offended his Majesty and your Lordships, wee humbly prostrate ourselves at the footstool of supreme authority; let us be made the objects of his Majestie's clemency, and not cut off, in our first appeal, from all hope of favour. Thus with our earnest prayers to the King of kings for long life and prosperity to his sacred Majesty and his Royall family, and for all honour and welfare to your Lordships."
The Lords Commissioners replied to this Address through Mr. Cradock, pronouncing the jealousies and fears professed in the Address to be groundless, stating their intentions to be the regulation of all the Colonies, and to continue to the settlers of Massachusetts Bay the privileges of British subjects. They repeated their command upon the Corporation to transmit the Charter to England, at the same time authorising the present Government to continue in office until the issuing of a new Charter. Mr. Cradock transmitted this letter to the Governor of Massachusetts Bay, the General Court of which decided not to acknowledge the receipt of it, pronouncing it "unofficial" (being addressed to Mr. Cradock, who, though the Governor mentioned in the Charter, and the largest proprietor, was not now Governor); that the Lords Commissioners could not "proceed upon it," since they could not prove that it had been delivered to the Governor; and they directed Mr. Cradock's agent not to mention Lords Commissioners' letter when he wrote to Mr. C.
At this juncture the whole attention of the King was turned from Massachusetts to Scotland, his war with which resulted ultimately in the loss of both his crown and his life.
In view of the facts stated in this and the preceding chapters, I think it must be admitted that during the nine years which elapsed between granting the first Charter by Charles and the resumption of it by quo warranto in the Court of King's Bench, the aggression and the hostility was on the side of the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay. Their first act was one of intolerance, and violation of the laws of England in abolishing the worship of the Church of England, and banishing its members for adhering to its worship. Their denials of it were an admission of the unlawfulness of such acts, as they were also dishonourable to themselves. Their maxim seems to have been, that the end sanctified the means—at least so far as the King was concerned; and that as they distrusted him, they were exempt from the obligations of loyalty and truth in their relations to him; that he and his were predestined reprobates, while they and theirs were the elected saints to whom, of right, rule and earth belonged. They were evidently sincere in their belief that they were the eternally elected heirs of God, and as such had a right to all they could command and possess, irrespective of king or savage. Their brotherhood was for themselves alone—everything for themselves and nothing for others; their religion partook more of Moses than of Christ—more of law than of Gospel—more of hatred than of love—more of antipathy than of attractiveness—more of severity than of tenderness. In sentiment and in self-complacent purpose they left England to convert the savage heathen in New England; but for more than twelve years after their arrival in Massachusetts they killed many hundreds of Indians, but converted none, nor established any missions for their instruction and conversion.
The historians of the United States laud without stint the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay; and they are entitled to all praise for their industry, enterprise, morality, independence. But I question whether there are many, if any, Protestants in the United States who would wish the views and spirit of those Puritans to prevail there, either in religion or civil government—a denial of the liberty of worship to Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Baptists, or Quakers; a denial of eligibility to office or of elective franchise to any other than members of the Congregational Churches; compulsory attendance upon Congregational worship, and the support of that worship by general taxation, together with the enforcement of its discipline by civil law and its officers.
Had the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay understood the principles and cherished the spirit of civil and religious liberty, and allowed to the Browns and their Episcopalian friends the continued enjoyment of their old and venerated form of worship, while they themselves embraced and set up a new form of worship, and not made conformity to it a test of loyalty and of citizenship in the Plantation, there would have been no local dissensions, no persecutions, no complaints to England, no Royal Commissions of Inquiry or Regulation, no restraints upon emigration, no jealousies and disputes between England and the colony; the feelings of cordiality with which Charles granted the Charter and encouraged its first four years' operations, according to the testimony of the Puritans themselves, would have developed into pride for the success of the enterprise, and further countenance and aid to advance it; the religious toleration in the new colony would have immensely promoted the cause of religious toleration in England; and the American colonies would have long since grown up, as Canada and Australia are now growing up, into a state of national independence, without war or bloodshed, without a single feeling other than that of filial respect and affection for the Mother Country, without any interruption of trade or commerce—presented an united Protestant and English nationality, under separate governments, on the great continents of the globe and islands of the seas.
I know it has been said that, had Episcopal worship been tolerated at Massachusetts Bay, Laud would have soon planted the hierarchy there, with all his ceremonies and intolerance. This objection is mere fancy and pretence. It is fancy—for the Corporation, and not Laud, was the chartered authority to provide for religious instruction as well as settlement and trade in the new Plantation, as illustrated from the very fact of the Company having selected and employed the first ministers, as well as first Governor and other officers, for the two-fold work of spreading religion and extending the King's dominions in New England. The objection is mere pretence, for it could not have been dread of the Church of England, which dictated its abolition and the banishment of its members, since precisely the same spirit of bigotry, persecution, and proscription prevailed, not only against Roger Williams, Mrs. Hutchinson and her brother Wright and their friends, but in 1646 against the Presbyterians, and in 1656 against the Baptists, as will hereafter appear.
Their iron-bound, shrivelled creed of eternal, exclusive election produced an iron-hearted population, whose hand was against every man not of their tribal faith and tribal independence; but at the same time not embodying in their civil or ecclesiastical polity a single element of liberty or charity which any free State or Church would at this day be willing to adopt or recognize as its distinctive constitution or mission.
It was the utter absence of both the principles and spirit of true civil and religious liberty in the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay, and in their brethren under the Commonwealth and Cromwell in England, that left Nonconformists without a plea for toleration under Charles the Second, from the example of their own party on either side of the Atlantic, and that has to this day furnished the most effective argument to opponents against dissenters' pretensions to liberality and liberty, and the strongest barrier against their political influence in England. They were prostrate and powerless when the liberal Churchmen, guided by the views of Chillingworth, Burnet, and Tillotson, under William and Mary, obtained the first Parliamentary enactment for religious toleration in England. It is to the same influence that religious liberty in England has been enlarged from time to time; and, at this day, it is to the exertions and influence of liberal Churchmen, both in and out of Parliament, more than to any independent influence of Puritan dissenters, that civil and religious liberty are making gradual and great progress in Great Britain and Ireland—a liberty which, I believe, would ere this have been complete but for the prescriptive, intolerant and persecuting spirit and practice of the Puritans of the seventeenth century.
[Footnote 58: It appears that the cause of dissatisfaction among the Puritan clergy of the Church, and of the emigration of many of them and of their lay friends to New England, was not the Prayer Book worship of the Church (abolished by Endicot at Massachusetts Bay), but the enforced reading of the Book of Sports, in connection with "the rigorous proceedings to enforce ceremonies;" for Rushworth, Vol. II., Second Part, page 460, Anno 1636, quoted by the American antiquarian, Hazard, Vol. I., p. 440, states as follows:
"The severe censures in the Star Chamber, and the greatness of the fines and the rigorous proceedings to impose ceremonies, the suspending and silencing of multitudes of ministers, for not reading in the Church the Book of Sports to be exercised on the Lord's Day, caused many of the nation, both ministers and others, to sell their estates, and set sail for New England (a late Plantation in America), where they held a Plantation by patent from the Crown."]
[Footnote 59: History of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, Vol. I., pp. 19, 20. It appears, however, that within a month after Mr. Winthrop's arrival at Massachusetts Bay, both he and the Deputy-Governor Dudley joined the new Endicot and Higginson Church; for Mr. Holmes in his Annals says: "A fleet of 14 sail, with men, women and children, and provisions, having been prepared early in the year to make a firm plantation in New England, 12 of the ships arrived early in July  at Charlestown. In this fleet came Governor Winthrop, Deputy Governor Dudley, and several other gentlemen of wealth and quality. In this fleet came about 840 passengers." "On the 30th of July, a day of solemn prayer and fasting was kept at Charlestown; when Governor Winthrop, Deputy Governor Dudley, and Mr. Wilson first entered into Church covenant; and now was laid the foundation of the Church of Charlestown, and the first Church in Boston." (Vol. I., pp. 202, 203.)]
[Footnote 60: History of the United States, Vol. I., pp. 390, 391.
Referring to this order, May 18, 1631—not a year after Mr. Winthrop's arrival—Mr. Hutchinson says: "None may now be a freeman of that Company unless he be a Church member among them. None have voice in the election of Governor, or Deputy, or assistants—none are to be magistrates, officers, or jurymen, grand or petit, but freemen. The ministers give their votes in all the elections of magistrates. Now the most of the persons at New England are not admitted to their Church, and therefore are not freemen; and when they come to be tried there, be it for life or limb, name or estate, or whatsoever, they must be tried and judged too by those of the Church, who are, in a sort, their adversaries. How equal that hath been or may be, some by experience do and others may judge."—In a note, quoted from the lawyer Lichford, Vol. I., p. 26.]
[Footnote 61: Examples of such pretensions and imputations will be given in future pages.]
[Footnote 62: The malcontents had actually prevailed to have their complaints entertained by the Privy Council. "Among many truths misrepeated," writes Winthrop, "accusing us to intend rebellion, to have cast off our allegiance, and to be wholly separate from the Church and laws of England, that our ministers and people did continually rail against the State, Church, and Bishops there, etc." Saltonstall, Humphrey, Cradock (Ratcliff's master) appeared before the Committee of the Council in the Company's behalf, and had the address or good fortune to vindicate their clients, so that on the termination of the affair, the King said "he would have them severely punished who did abuse his Governor and Plantation;" and from members of the Council it was learned, says Winthrop, "that his Majesty did not intend to impose the ceremonies of the Church of England upon us, for that it was considered that it was freedom from such things that made the people come over to us; and it was credibly informed to the Council that this country would be beneficial to England for masts, cordage, etc., if the Sound [the passage to the Baltic] should be debarred." "The reason for dismissing the complaint was alleged in the Order adopted by Council to that effect: 'Most of the things informed being denied, and resting to be proved by parties that must be called from that place, which required a long expense of time, and at the present their Lordships finding that the adventurers were upon the despatch of men, victuals, and merchandise for that place, all which would be at a stand if the adventurers should have discouragement, or take suspicion that the State there had no good opinion of that Plantation,—their Lordships not laying the fault, or fancies (if any be,) of some particular men upon the general government, or principal adventurers, which in due time is further to be inquired into, have thought fit in the meantime to declare that the appearances were so fair, and the hopes so great, that the country would prove both beneficial to this country and to the particular adventurers, as that the adventurers had cause to go on cheerfully with their undertakings, and rest assured, if things were carried as was pretended when the patents were granted, and accordingly as by the patents is appointed, his Majesty would not only maintain the liberties and privileges heretofore granted, but supply anything further that might tend to the good government of the place, and prosperity and comfort of his people there."—Palfrey's History of New England, Vol. I., Chap, ix., pp. 364, 365.]
[Footnote 63: The Congregational Society of Boston has published, in 1876, a new book in justification of the "Banishment of Roger Williams from the Massachusetts Plantation," by the Rev. Dr. Henry M. Dexter, of Boston. It is a book of intense bitterness against Roger Williams, and indeed everything English; but his account of the origin and objects of the Massachusetts Charter suggests, stronger than language can express, the presumption and lawlessness of Endicot's proceedings in establishing a new Church and abolishing an old one; and Dr. Dexter's account of the removal of the Charter, and its secrecy, is equally suggestive. It is as follows:
"Let me here repeat and emphasize that it may be remembered by and by that this 'Dorchester Company,' originally founded on the transfer of a portion of the patent of Gorges, and afterwards enlarged and re-authorized by the Charter of Charles the First, as the 'Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay,' was in its beginning, and in point of fact, neither more nor less than a private corporation chartered by the Government for purposes of fishing, real estate improvement, and general commerce, for which it was to pay the Crown a fifth part of all precious metals which it might unearth. It was then more than this only in the same sense as the egg, new-laid, is the full-grown fowl, or the acorn the oak. It was not yet a State. It was not, even in the beginning, in the ordinary sense, a colony. It was a plantation with a strong religious idea behind it, on its way to be a colony and a state. In the original intent, the Governor and General Court, and therefore the Government, were to be and abide in England. When, in 1628, Endicot and his little party had been sent over to Salem, his authority was expressly declared to be 'in subordination to the Company here' [that is, in London]. And it was only when Cradock [the first Governor of the Company] found that so many practical difficulties threatened all proceedings upon that basis, as to make it unlikely that Winthrop, and Saltonstall, and Johnson, and Dudley, and other men whose co-operation was greatly to be desired, would not consent to become partners in the enterprise unless a radical change were made in that respect, that he proposed and the Company consented, 'for the advancement of the Plantation, the inducing and encouraging persons of worth and quality to transplant themselves and families thither, and for other weighty reasons therein contained, to transfer the government of the Plantation to those that shall inhabit there,' &c. It was even a grave question of law whether, under the terms of the Charter, this transfer were possible." ... "They took the responsibility—so quietly, however, that the Home Government seem to have remained in ignorance of the fact for more than four years thereafter." (pp. 12, 13.)
In a note Dr. Dexter says: "I might illustrate by the Hudson Bay Company, which existed into our time with its original Charter—strongly resembling that of the Massachusetts Company—and which has always been rather a corporation for trade charterers in England than a colony of England on American soil." (Ib., p. 12.)
It is evident from the Charter that the original design of it was to constitute a corporation in England like that of the East India and other great Companies, with powers to settle plantations within the limits of the territory, under such forms of government and magistracy as should be fit and necessary. The first step in sending out Mr. Endicot, and appointing him a Council, and giving him commission, instructions, etc., was agreeable to this constitution of the Charter. (Hutchinson's History of Massachusetts Bay, Vol. I., pp. 12, 13.)]
[Footnote 64: History of the United States, Vol. I., pp. 439, 440.]
[Footnote 65: The New England historians represent it as a high act of tyranny for the King to appoint a Governor-General over the colonies, and to appoint Commissioners with powers so extensive as those of the Royal Commission appointed in 1634. But they forget and ignore the fact that nine years afterwards, in 1643, when the Massachusetts and neighbouring colonies were much more advanced in population and wealth than in 1634, the Parliament, which was at war with the King and assuming all his powers, passed an Ordinance appointing a Governor-General and Commissioners, and giving them quite as extensive powers as the proposed Royal Commission of 1634. This Ordinance will be given entire when I come to speak of the Massachusetts Bay Puritans, under the Long Parliament and under Cromwell. It will be seen that the Long Parliament, and Cromwell himself, assumed larger powers over the New England colonies than had King Charles.]
[Footnote 66: "The Charter was far from conceding to the patentees the privilege of freedom of worship. Not a single line alludes to such a purpose; nor can it be implied by a reasonable construction from any clause in the Charter." (Bancroft's History of the United States, Vol. I., pp. 271, 272.)]
[Footnote 67: It has been seen, p. 45, that the London Company had transmitted to Endicot in 1630 a form of the oath of allegiance to the King and his successors, to be taken by all the officers of the Massachusetts Bay Government. This had been set aside and a new oath substituted, leaving out all reference to the King, and confining the oath of allegiance to the local Government.]
[Footnote 68: Historians ascribe to this circumstance a remarkable change in the political economy of that colony; a cow which formerly sold for twenty pounds now selling for six pounds, and every colonial production in proportion. (Chalmers' Annals, pp. 265, 266. Neal's History of New England, Vol. I., Chap. ix., pp. 210-218.)]
[Footnote 69: Hazard, Vol. I.]
[Footnote 70: "At the trial, 'In Michas. T. XImo Carl Primi,' and the patentees, T. Eaton, Sir H. Rowsell, Sir John Young, Sir Richard Saltonstall, John Ven, George Harmood, Richard Perry, Thomas Hutchins, Nathaniel Wright, Samuel Vassall, Thomas Goffe, Thomas Adams, John Brown pleaded a disclaimer of any knowledge of the matters complained of, and that they should not 'for the future intermeddle with any the liberties, privileges and franchises aforesaid, but shall be for ever excluded from all use and claim of the same and every of them."
"Matthew Cradock [first Governor of the Company] comes in, having had time to interplead, etc., and on his default judgment was given, that he should be convicted of the usurpation charged in the information, and that the said liberties, privileges and franchises should be taken and seized into the King's hands; the said Matthew not to intermeddle with and be excluded the use thereof, and the said Matthew to be taken to answer to the King for the said usurpation."
"The rest of the patentees stood outlawed, and no judgment entered against them."
Collection of Original Papers relative to the Colony of Massachusetts Bay (in the British Museum), by T. Hutchinson, Vol. I., pp. 114-118.]
[Footnote 71: The following is a copy of the letter sent by appointment of the Lords of the Council to Mr. Winthrop, for the patent of the Plantations to be sent to them:
"At Whitehall, April 4th, 1638:—
"This day the Lords Commissioners for Foreign Plantations, taking into consideration the petitions and complaints of his Majesty's subjects, planters and traders in New England, grew more frequent than heretofore for want of a settled and orderly government in those parts, and calling to mind that they had formerly given order about two or three years since to Mr. Cradock, a member of that Plantation (alleged by him to be there remaining in the hands of Mr. Winthrop), to be sent over hither, and that notwithstanding the same, the said letters patent were not as yet brought over; and their Lordships being now informed by Mr. Attorney-General that a quo warranto had been by him brought, according to former order, against the said patent, and the same was proceeded to judgment against so many as had appeared, and that they which had not appeared were outlawed: 'Their Lordships, well approving of Mr. Attorney-General's care and proceeding therein, did now resolve and order, that Mr. Meawtis, clerk of the Council attendant upon the said Commissioners for Foreign Plantations, should, in a letter from himself to Mr. Winthrop, inclose and convey this order unto him; and their Lordships hereby, in his Majesty's name and according to his express will and pleasure, strictly require and enjoin the said Winthrop, or any other in whose power and custody the said letters patent are, that they fail not to transmit the said patent hither by the return of the ship in which the order is conveyed to them, it being resolved that in case of any further neglect or contempt by them shewed therein, their Lordships will cause a strict course to be taken against them, and will move his Majesty to resume into his hands the whole Plantation.'" (Ib., pp. 118, 119.)]
[Footnote 72: "To the Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners for Foreign Plantations.
"The humble Petition of the Inhabitants of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England, of the Generall Court there assembled, the 6th day of September, in the 14th year of the Reigne of our Soveraigne Lord King Charles.
"Whereas it hath pleased your Lordships, by order of the 4th of April last, to require our patent to be sent unto you, wee do hereby humbly and sincerely professe, that wee are ready to yield all due obedience to our Soveraigne Lord the King's majesty, and to your Lordships under him, and in this minde wee left our native countrie, and according thereunto, hath been our practice ever since, so as wee are much grieved, that your Lordships should call in our patent, there being no cause knowne to us, nor any delinquency or fault of ours expressed in the order sent to us for that purpose, our government being according to his Majestie's patent, and we not answerable for any defects in other plantations, etc.
"This is that which his Majestie's subjects here doe believe and professe, and thereupon wee are all humble suitors to your Lordships, that you will be pleased to take into further consideration our condition, and to afford us the liberty of subjects, that we may know what is layd to our charge; and have leaive and time to answer for ourselves before we be condemned as a people unworthy of his Majestie's favour or protection. As for the quo warranto mentioned in the said order, wee doe assure your Lordships wee were never called to answer it, and if we had, wee doubt not but wee have a sufficient plea to put in.