« PreviousContinue »
"I SHALL call that my country where I may most glorify God and enjoy the presence of my dearest friends," wrote Governor Winthrop from Massachusetts to his absent wife; while the Rev. Francis Higginson, stronger in his expressions of renunciation for himself and others, has left the following testimony in his diary: “When we are in our graves, it will be all one whether we have lived in plenty or penury, whether we have dyed in a bed of downe or lockes of straw. Onely
this is the advantage of the meane condition, that it is a more freedom to dye. And the lesse comfort any have in the things of this world, the more liberty they have to lay up treasure in heaven."
Although many of the Colonists came to the shores of the New World with such words upon their lips, and, we may believe, with such sentiments in their minds, it was not long before sturdy Anglo-Saxon enterprise and English love of home comfort led them to make the wilderness, if not to blossom like the rose of the Scriptures, at least to take upon it something approaching civilization.
No stronger contrast is to be found in Colonial history than the sad story of the earliest Virginia settlements, wiped out one after the other by starvation and the hos"tility of the natives, with that of the Massachusetts Colonists, clinging with English tenacity to their rock-bound coast, defying danger, cold, and hunger, guarding their scant stores, restraining their appetites,planting the first corn that fell in their way, showing their wisdom in that dark
day by providing for a still darker one, watchful, alert, devout, trusting in the protection of an unseen Father, a body of deeply religious men and women, even if in the exercise of their faith they were often harder than the stones' with which they ground their corn.
The expressions of the New England settlers often seem to us too spiritual to be natural in an hour when temporal needs pressed sorely upon them, yet the promise which they claimed for themselves—“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you"-was destined to be fulfilled, if not to them, to their children in the next generation, in greater comfort of living, in peace and prosperity, in manufactures and commerce. Dwelling-, meeting-, and school-houses sprang up all over the eastern portion of the Colony, and sixteen years after the little company of Pilgrims had coasted along the shores of Massachusetts, in terror of starvation, of cold, and of the Indians, a college was founded. A humble enough structure was