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Full text of "The memory of John Robinson: a discourse delivered at Dedham, Mass., on Sunday, Dec. 21, 1851"

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ON SUNDAY, DEC. 21, 1851. 




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ON SUNDAY, DEC. 21, 1851. 


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To say that this Discourse was prepared without the remotest thought of publication, 
thougli in the present case strictly true, would only be to repeat what has been hundreds of 
times asserted, and always with the same result; for the public does not care a farthing for 
the motive or intention of the writer in matters of this sort I will only say, therefore, that I 
print because two of my excellent parishioners have very kindly requested to be allowed to 
take on themselves the charge of publication ; and I esteem them too highly to withhold my 
assent. I give the Discourse in two parts, with the connecting clauses or sentences precisely 
as delivered, thinking it better so than changed. I have added a few notes, which might 
easily have been extended ; but I was unwilling to swell the size of the pamphlet. 


22, School Stbiet. 


Ezra, viii. 21. — Thkn i pkoclaimeb a fast tueke, at tub river of ahava, 


Two hundred and thirty-one years ago, last July, there 
stood up a preacher before a little band of exiles at Leyden, 
In Holland, and announced to his hearers this text. That 
preacher was pastor of the church from the bosom of which 
came the Pilgrim Fathers who sailed in the " Mayflower." 
You are aware that I refer to John Robinson, sometimes 
called the Father of the Independents. His connection 
with the first company of English emigrants * who came to 
these shores, and settled at Plymouth, — thus leading the 
way to the settlement, soon after, of Massachusetts Bay, — 
and his great personal worth, have suggested to me the 
propriety of devoting this day — the true anniversary of 
the Landing of the Pilgrims — to the grateful office of 
gathering up such memorials of him as can be found, and 
which may furnish a suitable theme of Christian meditation. 
The memories of the past, and especially of men who have 
been faithful to their own high ideal, who have asserted 
great principles, and the influence of whose lives yet 
survives for good, serve to elevate our minds above low 

♦ The first who effected a permanent settlement. 

and selfish ends, and strengthen in our hearts the love and 
desire of excellence. They offer, as I conceive, proper 
subjects for a Christian pulpit, and might perhaps be 
recalled with profit more frequently than they are, as 
giving variety and interest to the exercises of the place. 
Monotony and sameness, it is to be feared, are too often 
the sin of the pulpit; and a wider range of topics, opening 
veins of fresh thought, would seem desirable. 

As Robinson never crossed the Atlantic, I shall have 
little or nothing to say of the Pilgrims after they embarked 
for this country ; but, of necessity, their shadows must 
often mingle with his, as we call him up in England and 
in Holland, — in the former with dim and flitting outlines, 
in the latter with great distinctness and individuality. I 
shall avoid, as far as possible, trodden ground, but must 
unavoidably sometimes set my foot upon it. 

I said that this day is the true anniversary of the landing 
of the Pilgrims. The landing took place on the eleventh of 
December, old style, corresponding to the twenty-first, new 
style, and not to the twenty-second ; the rule requiring, that, 
in converting old into new style between the dates, 1582, 
the time of the change, and 1700, ten days be added, not 
eleven ; from 1700 to 1800, eleven days ; from 1800 to 1900, 
twelve days ; from 1900 to 2000, thirteen days ; and from 
2000 to 2100, still thirteen days, — every fourth centesimal 
year remaining bissextile, or leap-year; the intervening cen- 
tesimal years, as 1700, 1800, and 1900, being converted into 
common years, and so the difference in changing dates from 
old to new style increasing. The necessity of thus dropping 
three days every four hundred years arises from the difference 
between the true time of the annual revolution of the sun, 
which is 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 50 seconds, 
and 365 days and 6 hours, the time assumed in the old or 
Julian calendar. The difference amounts to about one day 
in a hundred and thirty years, or three days in four centu- 


ries. In the time of Pope Gregory XIII. the difference had 
risen to ten days, and these ten were suppressed by reckon- 
ing the fifth of October the fifteenth. Future irregularity 
was to be prevented in the way I have just intimated ; that 
is, by dropping three days every four centuries ; and this is 
done by converting three leap-years into common years. 
In the old calendar, every centesimal year was a leap-year ; 
now only every fourth centesimal year is leap-year, the 
intervening three being made common years, the three days 
being thus dropped, — a method deemed the most simple 
and convenient. Sixteen hundred remained a leap-year, 
and, during the century which then commenced, only ten 
days, as in the closing part of the preceding century, were 
to be added in changing dates from old style to new ; and, 
the change being once made, the date remained fixed for 

The error by which the landing of the Fathers was 
fixed on the twenty-second of December, instead of the 
twenty-first, the true date, was introduced in this way: 
— Early in 1769, a few individuals, inhabitants of Ply- 
mouth, formed an association, under the name of the " Old 
Colony Club," for the purpose, among other objects, of 
commemorating the landing of the Fathers. With them 
the custom of observing the day originated. At that time, 
1769, the difference had become, for that century, eleven 
days ; and not, as it would seem, attending to the fact that 
in a date of the preceding century only ten days were to be 
added, they added eleven, which would have been proper 
had the date belonged to their own, instead of the preced- 
ing, century. The error is of little consequence in itself, 
and probably in practice will never be corrected ; the twenty- 
second of December having become too firmly fixed in 
the public mind, as the day of the landing, to be readily 
changed. * 

* See note at the end. 

I proceed to my subject, John Robinson, the pastor of 
the first company of Pilgrims who came to these shores. 
The sources from which I shall draw my materials are 
mostly documents by contemporaries of Robinson, and 
especially Bradford and Winslow, who sat under his 
preaching, and were members of his church ; and some 
letters of Robinson himself. Bradford joined the church 
of the Separatists, probably before Robinson became its 
pastor. He went with the rest to Holland, and came over 
with the first company, in the " Mayflower," at the age of 
thirty-two. After the death of Carver, who lived but a few 
months after the landing, he was, as you know, chosen 
governor of the colony ; which office he held in all thirty 
years. He left, besides a book of Letters, the Memoir ot 
Elder Brewster, the portion of Bradford's and Winslow's 
Journal written by him, and a sort of historical dialogue, — 
the last first published in 1841, in Dr. Young's Chronicles 
of the Pilgrims, * — a History of the Colony, commencing 
with an account of the Pilgrim Church, before it left Eng- 
land for Holland, and continued to 1647. A part of this is 
lost; but the most valuable portion of it has been preserved, 
in one or another way, and is included in its most authentic 
form in the Chronicles just alluded to. 

Winslow, the second authority named, was not of the 
original band of Pilgrims who escaped to Holland in 1608, 
but, being abroad on his travels, fell in with them at Ley- 
den in 1617. He was, as he tells us, three years under the 
ministry of Robinson in Holland, before the Plantation 
commenced here, being twenty-two years old when he 
joined him. He also came over in the " Mayflower." He 
wrote — besides his share of Bradford's and Winslow's 
Journal, extending from November, 1620, to December, 

• A work which should be found on the bookshelves of every family in 
the land. It contains the fruits of minute and extensive research, arranged 
with taste and judgment. 

1621 — a work called " Good News from New England," 
bringing down its history to 1623, published in London in 
1624; and, subsequently, an account of the Gorton Con- 
troversy, and a " Brief Narrative of the true Grounds or 
Cause of the First Planting of New England," an exceed- 
ingly valuable document, and a work until recently very 
rare, — republished in the Chronicles of the Pilgrims, in 
1841, from a manuscript copy taken from a volume in the 
British Museum, no copy of the work being at that time 
known to exist in this country in any public or private 
collection, though it had been used by some of our earlier 
compilers and historians. These are contemporary docu- 
ments of the very highest value. They are among the 
" earliest chronicles of New England," and present the his- 
tory of its settlement " written by the actors themselves." 

To these I add two small publications of recent date, 
and not much known ; one by Rev. Joseph Hunter, of 
England, Commissioner of Records, containing the result 
of very minute inquiries relating to Robinson and his com- 
pany while in England, published in London in 1849 ; the 
other by an American traveller,* and containing the result 
of similar inquiries and examinations made in Holland, and 
serving to correct some errors which have been extensively 
disseminated by historians blindly copying each other, — 
published in 1846. 

We must first look for Robinson in England. What is 
known or can be gathered concerning him and his com- 
pany there? and where did he preach? Of his personal 
history while there, a few facts are all that can be rescued 
from oblivion ; and materials are wanting for constructing 
a regular narrative. Even the place of his birth is un- 
known ; though the date assigned, calculating from his age 
at the time of his death, is 1575. The most searching 

* George Sumner, Esq. The title of the publication is " Memoirs of the 
Pilgrims at Leyden," inserted in Mass. Hist. Coll., vol. ix. p. 42, third series. 


inquiries have failed of bringing to light any facts relating 
to his early life or family connections. We only know 
that he " studied at Cambridge ; " where, as it appears from 
a recent examination of records,* he was entered of Ema- 
nuel College in 1592, received his master's degree in 1600, 
and became bachelor of divinity in 1607. It has been 
asserted that he and Brewster were together there ; but of 
this there appears to be no certainty. There is no doubt 
that he was regularly ordained a minister of the Church of 
England. All which has been heretofore said of his con- 
nection with a parish, before he united himself with 
" Brewster's people," as they are called, is, that he had a 
benefice in Norfolk, somewhere near Yarmouth. This is 
very vague and unsatisfactory. The author of the tract on 
" The Early History of the Founders of New Plymouth, the 
First Colonists of New England," to which I have referred, 
has added a little, and but little. He has satisfied himself 
that the benefice or preferment spoken of was " a vicarage, 
or perpetual curacy, at Mundham, about fourteen miles 
from Yarmouth, and about the same distance from Nor- 
wich." — " T wish," says this writer, " it could be added, that 
we found some account of what Robinson did for the 
people of Mundham; but the information which the History 
[History of the County of Norfolk] affords us is of the 
poorest description. He was there in 1600, and also in 
1603, where he returned that there were a hundred and 
forty-four communicants of his parish ; and this is all." f 

We afterwards find him at Norwich, the capital of 
Norfolk county. A contemporary writer is quoted as 
saying, that certain citizens of that place " were excommu- 
nicated for resorting unto and praying with Mr. Robinson, 
a man worthily reverenced of all the city for the grace of 

* Gleanings for New England History, by the Hon. James Savage. Hist. 
Coll., vol. viii. third series, pp. 248, 249. 

t Hunter, p. 42. 

God in him;" no doubt, our John Robinson. He soon 
after appears to have left Norwich " in some state of dis- 
gust," as my authority expresses it. Another writer is 
referred to as speaking of " one Master Robinson, who, 
leaving Norwich malcontent, became a rigid Brownist." * 
We must not attribute too great importance to such 
expressions used by the enemies of the Separatists. There 
was much, however, to embitter their spirits, and no doubt 
they were sometimes wanting in meekness. Certain it is, 
that Robinson was more narrow and bigoted at this period 
of his life than afterwards. I may as well quote here what 
is said of him by Baylie, a Scotch writer, and a bitter 
inveigher against the Brownists and Independents. He 
acknowledges that Robinson was " a man of excellent 
parts, and the most learned, polished, and modest spirit 
that ever separated from the Church of England; that the 
Apologies he wrote were very handsome ; that, by Dr. 
Ames and Mr. Parker, he was brought to a greater mode- 
ration than he at first expressed ; that he ruined the rigid 
separation, — allowing the lawfulness of communicating 
with the Church of England in the word and prayer, 
though not in the sacraments and discipline ; that he was 
a principal overthrower of the Brownists, and became the 
author of Independency." f 

The commencement of his connection with Brewster's 

* Hunter, p. 42. 
t Prince, 173. The Dr. Ames here referred to was William Ames, author 
of the " Medulla Theologiae," and other theological works of repute in their 
day ; an Englishman, who, flying from persecution, became minister of the 
English church at the Hague, afterwards theological professor at Francker, 
was a member of the synod of Dort, and finally preacher to the English con- 
gregation at Rotterdam. He designed to come to New England ; but his 
death, in 1633, prevented. His widow and children removed the next spring 
to this country, bringing with them his valuable library. — Robert Parker, 
also a Puritan divine, became his companion in exile. Neal says that he 
would have been chosen minister of the English church at Amsterdam, but 
the magistrates were " afraid of disobliging King James." He became minis- 
ter of a garrison at Doesburg, where he died in 1630. 


people is referred to 1606 or 1607. I must here pause to 
give some account of the origin and previous history of this 
company, over which there has hitherto hung no little 
obsciurity. The early Puritans, it is well known, were not 
separatists from the Church of England. Their era pro- 
perly begins in 1550, when Hooper, being nominated to the 
bishopric of Gloucester, refused for a time to be consecrated 
in the old ecclesiastical habits. They desired a farther 
reformation of the church ; its purification especially from 
what they conceived to be the superstitions of Popery, in 
regard to ceremonies, vestments, and the like. In their 
ranks were found many eminent churchmen, — as Jewel, 
Grindal, Sandys, and others. Elizabeth, who was fond of 
pomp and ceremony, and who therefore retained what 
many of her subjects disliked, as in their view Popish ob- 
servances, only contributed to widen the breach which had 
before commenced. They who wanted a simpler worship, 
" something," as one expressed it, " more filed from rust, 
and purer," were finally driven to separation ; and their 
enemies fastened on them the name of Puritans, or Preci- 
sians. They did not assume it. 

For their forms of church-government, worship, and dis- 
cipline, they professed to go to the New Testament, and 
to the practice of the primitive churches. So, in respect to 
doctrines, their grand fundamental principle was, that, for 
them, Christians must go to the Bible, which they regarded 
as addressing itself directly to the individual reason and 
conscience. They did not admit the authority of any 
human church to interpret it for them. These principles 
constituted them Separatists, or Independents. These prin- 
ciples, they contended, were as old as Christianity. They 
were the principles which guided the ancient Christians of 
the fijst and purest ages ; and in defence of them they were 
ready to " go to prison and to death," as some of them 


Of these Separatists was Brewster's company, or church, 
gathered, according to Morton, in 1662 ; probably, however, 
too early a date by four or five years. Bradford, who was 
one of them, speaks of them as on the borders of Notting- 
hamshire, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire ; being composed of 
persons from towns and villages in each of those counties. 
Others have contented themselves with calling them " of 
the North of England," and, more recently, as the " liin- 
colnshire Church," with most provoking indefiniteness. But 
not only is the place, the town, or village, where the church 
had its principal " seat or centre," now ascertained with a 
good degree of certainty, but the very house where its 
meetings were holden, and where Robinson preached. 
They had no church-edifice. Bradford says that "they 
ordinarily met at the house of Brewster on the Lord's day, 
which was a manor of the bishop's ; and with great love 
he [Brewster] entertained them when they came, making 
provision for them to his great charge, and continued so to 
do whilst they could stay in England." This reference to 
" a manor of the bishop's " has led to a discovery of the 
place, and the building occupied. The place is Scrooby, 
a village in Nottinghamshire, about a mile and a half from 
a post and market town called Bawtry, on the borders of 
Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, and six miles from the 
nearest point in the county of Lincoln. The manor was 
once a palace of the archbishops of York, somewhat noted, 
where Wolsey, after his fall, passed some weeks. In 1576, 
Dr. Edwin Sandys, then archbishop of York, granted long 
leases of it to one of his sons ; thus virtually alienating it 
from his see, for which and other similar acts he has not 
escaped censure. The building was ample for such a con- 
gregation of worshippers as were likely to meet there. It 
went gradually to decay, and " no portion of it is now 
standing ; yet the site may be traced by a few irregularities 
in the surface of the ground." * 

* Hunter, pp. 7—11. 


Here, then, we are to look for the Brewsters; and here 
we find thenn. They appear to have been under-tenants 
of the Sandys family. William, elder in the church there, 
as he continued to be, as you know, in that portion of it 
which finally removed to this country, had received a Uni- 
versity education, and was at one time one of the under- 
secretaries in the office of the unfortunate secretary Davison, 
Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth, and the victim of 
her hypocrisy and meanness. When Davison was sent on 
an important mission to the Low Countries, " in the Earl 
of Leicester's time," says Bradford, Brewster accompanied 
him, and was much trusted. It is mentioned to his credit, 
that he did not desert his master in the time of his " troubles, 
when he was put from his place about the death of the 
Queen of Scots," and by a heavy fine reduced to poverty. 
He is supposed to have retired to Scrooby about 1587 or 
1588, where he occupied his time chiefly in religious mat- 
ters ; looking out " good preachers," and " doing much good 
in the country where he lived." 

" It is possible," says the English WTiter, Hunter, " that 
those who are previously unacquainted with this portion of 
history will expect to find [in Brewster] some rough and 
uncouth person, ignorant of the world, disliking the church 
because the church disliked him, and seeking a distinction 
which did not naturally belong to him by the easy path of 
peculiarity in his religious profession and practice. Noth- 
ing, however, can be more unlike the true picture of this 
remarkable man, little remembered as he now is in the coun- 
try which gave him birth, and little known as is the place 
of his long abode, and the circumstances of his varied life. 
He was evidently a man whom [?], for his birth, his social 
position, his education, his energy, his reflective cast of cha- 
racter, and his general virtues and attainments, no body of 
persons need to be ashamed to own that they have been 
actuated by influences springing from him."* 

• Pp. 21, 22. 


Here, too, we now trace, in old records, the birthplace of 
his fellow-laborer, William Bradford, which there has been 
so much difficulty in fixing. Mather, in his Magnalia, by 
a mistake of the printer, it is supposed (perhaps of Mather 
himself), assigns Ansterfield as the place of his birth ; and 
so subsequent writers have given it. But in all England 
no place of that name could be found. It now appears 
that he was born, not at Ansterfield, but Austerfield, a vil- 
lage about three miles from Scrooby. 

Here, then, we find the company, Brewster and Bradford 
of the number, calling themselves Separatists, though their 
enemies attempted to fasten on them the odious name of 
Brownists. Robinson was now their pastor.* All who 
came in the ' Mayflower' were not then with them. Wins- 
low, as before observed. Miles Standish, and some others, 
joined them in Holland. But we must pause a little longer 
at Scrooby, where, and in the vicinity, generally at Brew- 
ster's house, as I said, but at other places also, they met for 
worship, as it would seem peacefully. But they were not 
unmolested. Brewster and some others were fined ; and 
they were in various ways harrassed for setting up separate 
worship. Bradford gives a sad picture of their sufferings. 
They were " hunted and persecuted," he says, " on every 
side, so that their former afflictions were but as mole-hills 
to mountains in comparison to these which now came 
upon them. For some were taken, and shut up in prisons ; 
others had their houses beset and watched night and day ; 
. . . and the most were fain to fly and leave their houses 
and habitations, and the means of their livelihood." 

* Richard Clifton was also at this time connected with the Pilgrim 
Church as pastor or teacher, Bradford describes him as a " grave and reve- 
rend preacher." He went with the rest to Holland, being then, in Bradford's 
phrase, " a fatherly old man," with " a great white beard." Forced into 
exile in old age, he " bore his lot patiently ; " but, being settled at Amster- 
dam, and thus aged, he was " loath to remove any more." When Robinson 
and his company, therefore, left for Leyden, he chose to remain where he 
was. He died at Amsterdam. 


Seeing no hope of a better condition at home, they now 
turn their eyes to the Low Countries, where " they heard 
there was freedom of religion for all men." In the fall of 
1607 and spring of 1608, they " resolved to get over into 
Holland as they could." They dreaded the removal to a 
" country which they knew not but by hearsay, where they 
must learn a new language, and get their livings they knew 
not how," — " seeing they were not acquainted with trades 
and traffic," but " had only been used to a plain country 
life and the innocent trade of husbandry." Yet they had 
courage to make the attempt ; for they " rested on God's 
providence," says the narrator Bradford, and " knew whom 
they had believed ; " though to some " the adventure seemed 
almost desperate, and a misery worse than death." 

It is a fashion with some, profoundly ignorant of history, 
at this day, to deny that the Puritans were ever oppressed 
and persecuted. Nothing can be more palpably false. Sev- 
eral Acts of Parliament bore very hard upon them, and espe- 
cially upon the Separatists. One, passed early in the reign 
of Elizabeth, directed originally against the Catholics, but 
made equally applicable to the Puritans, insisted on uni- 
formity under penalty of " forfeiting goods and chattels for 
the first offence, of a year's imprisonment for the second, 
and imprisonment during life for the third," .... and " a 
fine of one shilling on all who should absent themselves 
from church on Sundays and holidays." * The Acts went 
on, increasing in severity ; and the High Commission Court 
was a terrible tribunal. As people and clergy began to 
withdraw from the church, and establish separate worship, 
from their extreme dislike of the ceremonies, in regard to 
which the queen would allow of no relief, these laws were 
executed with new rigor. Late in the reign of Elizabeth, 
an Act was passed by which all persons above the age of 
sixteen absenting themselves from the Church of the Estab- 

• Hallam's Constitutional History of England, vol. i. p. 162. 


lishment for the space of one month, unless they made 
the requisite submission and declaration of conformity, 
(which many could not conscientiously do), " were to ab- 
jure the realm ; and, if they should return without the 
queen's license, to suffer death as felons."* Multitudes 
now began to escape, and flee to Holland and other places. 
In 1603, early in the reign of James, by a canon which 
received the king's sanction, persons affirming " that any of 
the Thirty-nine Articles .... are in any part superstitious 
or erroneous " were by the very act of affirmation to be 
excommunicated, and consequently to become, besides suf- 
fering in other ways, incapable of being witnesses in a 
court of justice, or of recovering debts by a legal process, 
and be denied Christian burial, f Other canons were 
equally severe ; but I am happy to add, that the courts 
of law hesitated, and sometimes refused to execute them 
according to the letter. 

This was but four or five years before Robinson's church 
resolved, as I said, to " get over to Holland as they could." 
But difficulties were thrown in the way of their embarka- 
tion. They could not stay, yet were not suffered to go, — 
as it happened afterwards, when many wished to transport 
themselves to America, but were prohibited. " The ports 
and havens," says Bradford, " were shut against them," so 
that they were compelled to " seek secret means of convey- 
ance, to fee mariners, and pay extravagant rates for their 
passages." And then they were " betrayed," and " they 
and their goods surprised and intercepted," and subjected 

* HaUam, i. 288. 
t lb. 412. Neal's History of the Puritans, i. 238, ed. Choules. The 
canons, one hundred and forty-one in number, several of them absolutely 
outrageous, passed in both houses of Convocation, and were ratified by the 
king under the great seal ; but, not having been confirmed by Act of Parlia- 
ment, the courts of Westminster had several times decided, that they were 
binding only on the clergy, the people not having been represented in Con- 
vocation. Still the Puritans suffered severely under them. 


to various outrages. They had great trouble in getting 
over ; but I cannot here recount the pathetic story of their 
disappointments and sufferings. Robinson himself, and 
some others among their principal men, remained to the 
last to help the weakest over before them. They met at 

So their pilgrimage began. " I think," says Hutchinson, 
" that I may with singular propriety call their lives a pil- 
grimage. Most of them left England about the year 1609, 
— young men between twenty and thirty years of age. 
They spent near twelve years, strangers among the Dutch, 
first at Amsterdam, then at Leyden. After having arrived 
at the meridian of life, the declining part was to be spent in 
another land among savages, of whom every European 
must have received an unfavorable, if not a formidable 
idea." * 

It is to be observed, that the term "Pilgrims" belongs 
exclusively to the Plymouth colonists. It is never by accu- 
rate writers applied to the Massachusetts colonists. The 
Pilgrims, or Plymouth Colony, were Separatists ; the Mas- 
sachusetts Colony was mostly composed of Puritans, who 
had not before left the national church. 

I wish I had space to give you Bradford's description of 
the first impression made on the minds of the Pilgrims on 

* History of Massachusetts, vol. ii. Appendix, p. 405, ed. 1795. There 
is another passage in this Appendix which may be worth quoting here, for 
its singular justness of thought and right appreciation of the Plymouth men. 
After speaking of Brewster, Winslow, and others of the company, of whose 
personal history something was known, the historian adds : " These were 
the founders of the colony of New Plymouth. The settlement of this colony 
occasioned the settlement of Massachusetts, which was the source of all the 
other colonies of New England. Virginia was in a dying state, and seemed 
to revive and flourish from the example of New England. I am not pre- 
serving from oblivion the names of heroes, whose chief merit is the overthrow 
of cities, provinces, and empires, but the names of the founders of a flourish- 
ing town and colony, if not of the whole British empire in America," p. 412. 
This was published in 1767. 


arriving in Holland, — a world so different from that they 
had been accustomed to look upon. But I forbear. They 
went not for gold and "jewels of the mine," but to enjoy 
their religion in quiet. They opened their meetings, and 
Robinson continued to preach. On arriving at Amsterdam, 
they found, besides the older congregation of Separatists 
under Johnson and Ainsworth, the one recently established 
under Mr. Smith, a popular preacher, but unstable. This 
society falling into contention, Robinson and others, to 
avoid the infection, advised a further removal ; and, in 
1609, the Pilgrims go to Leyden, after having stayed at 
Amsterdam one year. 

At Leyden, which Bradford calls " a fair and beautiful 
city," and where there was a University and learned men. 
Robinson led no idle life. He preached three times a week, 
and, in addition, became a somewhat prolific writer Be- 
tween the time of his arrival at Leyden and the departure 
of the Pilgrims for America, he published several works on 
topics of deep interest at the time, and which still possess an 
historical value. His " Justification of Separation from the 
Church of England," in answer to Bernard's invective called 
the " Separatists' Scheme," came out in 1610. Four years 
after, he published a work on Religious Communion, and 
other matters then in controversy ; and, five years later, a 
work in Latin, being an apology for " certain Christians 
reproachfully called Brownists or Barrowists," among whom 
were Robinson's own people, — a work afterw^-ards trans- 
lated into English. 

The Arminian disputes were now rife in Holland, and 
especially at Leyden. Arminius, who was a professor of 
theology in the University, had recently died, — a man of 
" an amiable temper and pure life," whose motto was, " A 
good conscience is paradise." Some time after his death, 
the learned Episcopius, his pupil, became divinity professor, 
and defended his opinions. With the latter, Robinson, 


according to Bradford and Winslow, held several disputa- 
tions in public, by which, to use Bradford's phrase, he 
" became terrible to the Arminians," and acquired great credit 
with learned men there ; though in such cases, both sides, as 
you know, usually claim the victory. Bradford says, that he 
"put Episcopius to an apparent nonplus in public." If so, 
it was no small triumph, for a keener disputant than Episco- 
pius has rarely lived ; but probably the friends of Episcopius 
would give a different account. There is an anecdote worth 
relating given in connection with the cool, argumentative 
powers of Episcopius. He once held a dispute with a 
champion of the opposite sentiments in Latin, by which he 
made many converts among those who knew not a word 
of the language. One plain burgher, in particular, is men- 
tioned as becoming convinced of the truth of Episcopius's 
doctrine ; and, being asked how he could judge, as they 
spoke in Latin, of which he knew not a syllable, he replied, 
" The first who becomes angry — he, I know, has lost." * 

Of these disputations no notice has been preserved in the 
records of the University. Still there is no reason to doubt, 
that Robinson was, even there, among the learned men of 
Leyden, a person of mark. He was admitted a member 
of the University in 1615, which gave him some privileges. 
Bradford intimates that " some public favor " would have 
been shown him, but that the Dutch feared giving offence 
to England. This might be; for James I, who then occu- 
pied the throne, was fond of meddling in theological con- 
troversies, and exercised no small influence in the Low 
Countries, both in civil and ecclesiastical matters. He 
drove one learned man from his professorship at Leyden, 
and attempted to procure his banishment, and prevented 
another from being elected, and " seems," says one, " to 
have kept an ambassador at the Hague chiefly to inform 

• Sumner's Memoirs, &c., p. 68. 


him of the progress of the theological disputes in that 
country." * 

Some brief notice of the condition of Robinson and his 
people at Leyden may here seem desirable. Many came 
over from different parts of England, and joined them there; 
so that, according to Bradford, " they grew a great congre- 
gation," a very indefinite phrase. Winslow says that the 
" difference was not great " bet\veen those who stayed and 
those who came over — as I understand him — in the first 
ship. As to their external condition and means, Bradford 
says, that " they fell to such trades and employments as 
they best could,f valuing peace and their spiritual comfort 
above any other riches whatsoever ; " that, with hard and 
continual labor," they raised " a competent and comfortable 
living." In another place he speaks of their " condition for 
the most part as very low and hard." " For many of them 
had lain long in prison," and had been much abused ; and 
at last coming into the Low Countries, and " wanting 
money, trades, friends, or acquaintances, and languages to 
help themselves, how," he asks, " could it be otherudse ? " 

They " lived together," says Bradford, " in peace and love 
and holiness," — "lived together in love and peace all their 
days." Winslow, in reply to some aspersions cast upon 
them by the Scotch writer, Robert Baylie, intimating or as- 
serting that a part of them went to New England, because 
they could not agree to live together in Holland, — that 
there were dissension and strife among them, — says. "Ne- 
ver people on earth lived more lovingly together, or parted 
more sweetly, than we, the church at Leyden, did." " There 
was no breach between us that went and the brethren that 
stayed, but such love as indeed is seldom found on earth." 
Again, " The foundation of our New England plantations 

* Young's Chronicles of the Pilgrims, p. 42, note. 

t Bradford became a silk-dyer ; and Brewster, a teacher, and afterwards 
a printer. 


was not laid in schism, division, or separation, but upon 
love, peace, and holiness, — yea, such love ... as is seldom 
found on earth ; " the phrase being reiterated. About the 
time of their coming away, their peaceable lives were, by 
the magistrates of Leyden, in the place of public justice, 
held up as an example to the Walloons of the French 
Church, whose " strifes and quarrels," say they, " are con- 
tinual." There were contentions in the congregation of 
Ainsworth and Johnson, which went to Amsterdam from 
London and the parts adjacent some years before Robinson 
left England, and in that of Smith, which went but a short 
time before from the North of England, with some of whom 
Robinson's people had been acquainted. But from these 
Robinson wisely kept aloof; and it was chiefly to avoid 
Smith, as before said, that he advised leaving Amsterdam 
for Leyden. " Falling into some errors," says Bradford, 
" in the Low Countries," he and his people, " there for the 
most part, buried themselves and their names." — " His and 
his people's condition may be an object of pity for after- 
times." Robinson's congregation was always peaceable, 
loving, and helpful, one of another. 

Here, then, at Leyden, Robinson now lived and labored, 
a faithful, friendly man. He gave direction and counsel, 
not only in spiritual but in " civil matters," by which he 
was " very helpful to their outward estates, and so was in 
every way as a common father unto them." And none 
" moni offended him" than those who were "close and 
selfish," and " retired from the common good," and such as 
" would inveigh against the evils of others, and yet be 
remiss in themselves." His worth and wisdom they all 
felt ; and they " esteemed him highly while he lived and 
labored among ihem ; yet much more after his death, when 
they came to feel the want of his help, and saw by woful 
experience what a treasure they had lost, . . . yea, such a 
loss as they saw could not be repaired." It is a beautiful 


picture which these old writers, both parishioners of Robin- 
son, draw of the pastor and his flock. 

But I must here pause. I am unwilling to distract the 
attention of any of you by presenting any other topic this 
day ; and I have more to say than either your patience or 
my strength would justify me in attempting to utter this 
morning. You will therefore pardon me, if, contrary to the 
rule I have invariably prescribed to myself, I for once, after 
the manner of the former days of New England, divide my 
discourse in the middle, and defer the remainder till the 
afternoon. I shall then speak of Robinson's last days, 
death, and burial. 

We this morning followed Robinson, pastor of the Pil- 
grim Church, from England to Leyden in Holland ; and I 
spoke of his and his people's condition there. I concluded 
by remarking on the beautiful picture which the old writers 
present of the pastoral relation between him and his flock. 
Such was their reciprocal love and respect, says one of 
these writers, " that it might be said of them as it was once 
said of Marcus Aurelius and the people of Rome, that it 
was hard to judge whether he delighted more in having 
such a people, or they in having such a pastor." 

But where did they worship? Had the Pilgrims a 
church granted them in Leyden to worship in ? None of 
the old writers, Bradford, Winslow, or others, mention any ; 
and no one prior to the annalist Prince, who says, that, 
when he was at Leyden in 1714, the most ancient people 
there told him, as matter of tradition, that the city " let 
them have one of their churches," in the chancel of which 
Robinson lay buried, and which the English still enjoyed.* 

• Page 238. 


Subsequent writers generally adopted Prince's statement. 
Mrs. Adams, wife of the first president Adams, in a letter 
dated 1786, says, " I visited the church at Leyden in which 
our forefathers worshipped, when they fled from hierarchical 
tyranny and persecution. I felt a respect and veneration, 
upon entering the doors, like what the ancients paid to 
their Druids." * 

Yet there is now reason for believing, that Prince was 
misled, in some particulars certainly, and, as the author of 
" Memoirs of the Pilgrims at Leyden," referred to at the 
commencement of my discourse, contends, in all. The in- 
formants of Prince, he maintains with great show of reason, 
must have confounded the Separatist or Pilgrim congrega- 
tion with a society of English Presbyterians, which, by a 
singular coincidence, was established there within a few 
months of the arrival of the Pilgrims, and had a church 
granted it, as the old records of the place, which have been 
carefully inspected, prove. But none of these records, nor 
the " voluminous histories of Leyden," in which the history 
of each church and of the " small chapels " is given sepa- 
rately, mention the grant of any church to the Pilgrim 
congregation ; which the fear of giving offence to England 
might very naturally have induced the Dutch to withhold, 
though, from the known industry and honesty of the Pil- 
grims, they were fond of dealing with them in matters of 
business. The building or chapel shown to American 
travellers as the " old church of the English," and regarded 
with veneration as the Church of the Pilgrims, is supposed 
by this writer to be that belonging to the society of Presby- 
terians referred to, which had a known historical existence.! 

* Vol. ii. p. 150. 
t " It is certain," says Mr. Sumner, in the Memoirs, " that this church, 
whose pastor from 1609 to 1616 was Robert Duric, was the only English con- 
gregation which in 1714 had a public place of worship at Leyden, and it is the 
only one that is noticed by the different historians of Leyden as having ever 
possessed a church." "At the time of Prince's visit to Leyden, in 1714, 


At all events it is certain, that the remains of Robinson 
were not buried there, as Prince asserts on the authority of 
local tradition. The en-or is very readily accounted for by 
the length of time, nearly a hundred years, which elapsed 
between the death of Robinson and the visit of Prince, and 
the fact that an English congregation of Presbyterians 
worshipped there, which might be easily mistaken for the 
Separatist congregation. The writer whose authority I 
am using infers that the Pilgrims either worshipped in 
some " hired hall," or, what is more probable, in the house 
of Robinson himself, which, according to the testimony of 
Winslow, was large, and was used for the feast prepared 
for the Pilgrims at their departure. We know from other 
testimony that private houses were used as " places of 
preaching " by different sects in Holland. 

With Robinson at their head, and in the condition I 
have described, the Pilgrims struggle on from 1609 to 1617, 
when they begin to entertain serious thoughts of removing 
elsewhere. The reasons, which are set down at length in 
Bradford's and Winslow's narratives, you will not expect 
me to repeat. There is something sad in these few sen- 
tences of Bradford : " They found and saw by experience 
the hardness of the place and country to be such, as few, 
in comparison, would come to them, and fewer that would 
bide it out and continue with them. For many that came 
to them, and many more that desired to be with them, could 
not endure the great labor and hard fare, with other incon- 

this congregation, under the pastoral care of Robert Milling, was worshipping 
in a chapel formed of part of the ground-floor of the Falyde Bagyn Hof Kerk." 
It had, by grant of the magistrates, occupied two chapels before that here 
referred to, — that of St. Catherine's Almshouse from 1609 to 1622; and, 
from 1622 to 1644, the Jerusalems Hof. In the year last named, it re- 
moved to the Bagyn Hof (Beguine Cloister), " a part of the church of 
which it occupied till 1807," when, its last pastor dying, " the congregation 
was dispersed." Of all these old grants and changes, very minute records 
remain. Memoirs, &c., p. 49, and note, p. 63. 


veniences, which they underwent, and were contented with. 
But though they loved their persons, and approved their 
cause, and honored their sufferings, yet they left them as it 
were weeping, as Orpah did her mother-in-law Naomi, or 
as those Romans did Cato in Utica, who desired to be ex- 
cused and borne with though they could not all be Catos. 
. . . Yea, some preferred and chose prisons in England ra- 
ther than this liberty in Holland with these afflictions." 

Young and old alike were sinking under their burdens ; 
the place, too, was licentious and full of temptation ; they 
would lose their language and name if they stayed, and 
their children would grow up imperfectly educated. These 
and other reasons, and not, as it is expressed, any " new- 
fangledness, or other such like giddy humor," led them to 
turn their eyes towards some of the remote unpeopled 
regions of the American continent whither Robinson was 
to accompany them. 

Some, transported in imagination by Sir Walter Raleigh's 
glowing description of the beauty, fertility, and delights 
of the recently discovered Guiana, where was " perpetual 
spring " and ever " flourishing greenness," wished to go to 
that tropical region ; but the idea was not acceptable to the 
majority. They were determined against returning to 
England ; for, say they, in a letter which bears the signature 
of Robinson and Brewster, but was, no doubt, written by 
Robinson, — " We are well weaned from the delicate milk 
of our mother-country, and inured to the difficulties of a 
strange and hard land;" and, " It is not with us as with 
other men, whom small things can discourage, or small 
discontentments cause to wish themselves home again." 
Three years pass before a place is decided upon, and a 
patent obtained, which, after all, was never used. They 
then hold a Fast, and Robinson preaches an animating 
discourse, fitted to encourage their hearts, from the text, — 
" And David's men said unto him. See, we be afraid here 


in Judah. How much more, if we come to Keilah, against 
the host of the Philistines ! Then David asked counsel of 
the Lord again." They decide how many and who shall 
go first ; for " all that were willing could not get ready 
quickly." The greater number, being to stay for the 
present, require their pastor to remain with them, — their 
elder, Mr. Brewster, to go with the others ; those who go 
first, who, it was decided, should be the "youngest and 
strongest," to be " an absolute church of themselves, as well 
as those that stay ; with this proviso, that, as any go over 
or return, they shall be reputed as members without further 
dismission or testimonial ; and those who tarry, to follow 
the rest as soon as they can." Had a majority gone over 
first, the pastor was to have gone with them. 

When ready to depart, they hold another Fast, and 
Robinson preaches from the text I have recited at the head 
of this discourse. The Pilgrims used what was called the 
Geneva Bible, a version made by the English exiles in the 
reign of Queen Mary, and brought it with them to this 
country ; King James's version having been but a little be- 
fore published, and not having gone into general use.* The 
text in the Geneva version reads thus : " And there, at the 
river, by Ahava, I proclaimed a fast, that we might humble 
ourselves before our God, and seek of him a right way for 
us, and for our children, and for all our substance." It was 
at the conclusion of his discourse at this time, as it has been 
generally taken for granted,! that Robinson delivered his 
celebrated farewell address, which was reported by Winslow, 
one of his hearers. Winslow reports it in the third person, 
which Mather $ and others, if they used the Winslow docu- 
ment, changed to the first, thus restoring the vivacity of the 

* Chronicles of the Pilgrims, p. 14, note. 

t What can be said in opposition may be found in Sumner's Memoirs, &c. 
page 70. 

X MagnaUa, p. 14, ed. fol. 1702. 


original. I should do injustice to Robinson, if in a tribute 
to iiis memory, however slight, on this occasion, I failed to 
give this address, which many of you have heard or have 
read, but which I offer no apology for presenting entire. 
With great justice. Prince, in his annals, speaks of it as 
containing " words almost astonishing in that age of low 
and universal bigotry which then prevailed in the English 
nation ; wherein this truly great and learned man seems to 
be almost the only divine who was capable of rising into a 
noble freedom of thinking and practising in religious mat- 
ters, and even of urging such an equal liberty on his own 
people. He labors to take them off from their attachment 
to him, that they might be more entirely free to search and 
follow the Scriptures." * 

" Brethren," says he, " we are now quickly to part from 
one another, and whether I may ever live to see your faces 
on earth any more, the God of heaven only knows ; but, 
whether the Lord have appointed that or not, I charge you 
before God and his blessed angels, that you follow me no 
further than you have seen me follow the Lord Jesus 

" If God reveal any thing to you by any other instrument 
of his, be as ready to receive it as ever you were to receive 
any truth by my ministry ; for I am verily persuaded, I am 
very confident, that the Lord hath more truth yet to break 
forth out of his Holy Word. For my part, I cannot suf- 
ficiently bewail the condition of the reformed churches, who 
are come to a period in religion, and will go at present no 
further than the instruments of their reformation. The 
Lutherans cannot be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw. 
Whatever part of his will our good God has imparted and 
revealed to Calvin, they will rather die than embrace it. 
And the Calvinists, you see, stick fast where they were left 
by that great man of God, who yet saw not all things. 

• Page 176. 


" This is a misery much to be lamented ; for, though they 
were burning and shining lights in their times, yet they 
penetrated not into the whole counsel of God ; but, were 
they now living, would be as willing to embrace further 
light as that which they first received. I beseech you 
remember it is an article of your church-covenant, ' That 
you be ready to receive whatever truth shall be made known 
to you from the written word of God.' Remember that, and 
every other article of your most sacred covenant. But I 
must herewithal exhort you to take heed what you receive 
as truth. Examine it, consider it, and compare it with 
other scriptures of truth before you receive it ; for it is not 
possible that the Christian world should come so lately out 
of such thick antichristian darkness, and that perfection of 
knowledge should break forth at once. 

" I must also advise you to abandon, avoid, and shake off 
the name of Brownist. It is a mere nickname, and a brand 
to make religion, and the professors of it, odious to the 
Christian world." 

Well might they wish to throw off the offensive name of 
Brownists. Brown's reputation would help no cause. And 
they were not Brownists, and had never had any thing to do 
with him, " whose person," says Bradford, " they never knew, 
and whose writings, few, if any of them, ever saw." Brown 
was originally of a good family, being connected with Lord- 
treasurer Cecil, who repeatedly extricated him from diffi- 
culties. Fuller, the church-historian, says that he had a 
" vehemency of utterance," which " passed for zeal among 
the common people, and made the vulgar to admire, the 
wise to suspect him." The truth is, he was a great brawler, 
violent and troublesome. He made it matter of boasting 
that he had been in thirty-two prisons. The historian 
Fuller, who was born within a mile of the place where he 
for a time had a pastoral charge, says that, when a young 
man, he had often seen him ; that he " was of an imperious 


nature, offended if what he affirmed but in common dis- 
course were not instantly received as an oracle." He adds, 
that in his time he " had a wife with whom for many years 
he never lived, and a church in which he never preached." * 
He afterwards became reconciled, or professed to be, to the 
national church. In his latter days he sunk into obscurity 
and contempt, and finally died in jail, into which he had 
been thrown, when above eighty years old, for striking a 

But to return to Robinson. The address was followed 
by prayers, accompanied by many tears. The ship being 
now ready that was to bear them away, says Winslow, 
" they that stayed at Leyden feasted us that were to go, at 
our pastor's house, being large ; where we refreshed our- 
selves, after tears, with singing of psalms, making joyful 
melody in our hearts, as well as with the voice, there being 
many of the congregation very expert in music ; and indeed 
it was the sweetest melody that ever mine ears heard." 

" And the time having come that they must depart," most 
of the brethren accompany them to the place of embarkation. 
" So they left," says one of theni, " that goodly and pleasant 
city, which had been their resting-place near twelve years. 
But they knew that they were Pilgrims;" and, lifting their 
eyes to heaven, " their dearest country," their spirits were 
" quieted." The night was spent with little sleep ; the next 
morning came the " sad and mournful parting," tears stream- 
ing from all eyes, strangers among the Hollanders joining 
in the weeping ; the pastor, who was to stay behind a little 
time, " falling on his knees, and they all with him," com- 
mending them to " the Lord and his blessing." They then, 
" with mutual embraces and many tears," took their leave 
one of another, which to many of them proved to be their 
last. They met not again on earth. 

• Chiirch History, vol. iii. pp. 61—65, ed. 1837. 


I do not follow them. I am now concerned only with 
Robinson, and with the rest but as they stand connected 
with him, who is the representative of a great principle, — 
that of religious freedom and progress, which breathes 
through every word of his noble address. 

Robinson desired to come to this country, — expected to 
come; but necessity prevented. He had yet five years 
more to labor on in where he was. These he passed in 
performing his duty to those who could not get over, 
in writing letters to that part of his flock who had come, 
and in composing works for the press, two of which were 
published after his death. He was a man of many labors, 
of a peaceful spirit, in his letters a counsellor of peace and 
harmony, and continually softening and growing more lib- 
eral as years passed over him ; an effect which it is always 
delightful to witness. He may have been a fiery youth ; he 
was certainly at one period chargeable, as I said, with some- 
thing of narrowness and bigotry; but his virtues ripened 
with time, and we forgive all for the sake of the rich fruits 
he bore in his age. He would not, after his arrival in 
Holland, allow those who joined his church in their confes- 
sions to inveigh against the Church of England ; but they 
were to profess a separation from the world, " leaving the 
Church of England to themselves and to the Lord, before 
whom they should stand or fall." Members of the re- 
formed churches generally, French, Dutch and Scotch, were 
admitted to communion in his church. 

I have little more to add respecting him. The part of 
his flock who were better provided with means, and the 
most eminent of them in gifts, had crossed the Atlantic. 
Those who remained were in general the poorer, the old, 
and more feeble ; a part too poor to come without aid, 
which their brethren on this side of the water were unable 
to afford them ; though they did, from time to time, help 
over several of those they had left behind, at an expense to 


themselves they could ill bear. Robinson himself appears 
to have been disappointed in the hope of assistance from 
England, and remained to watch over the portion of the 
company which stayed, to share their sufferings and com- 
fort them in their sorrows, till his spirit was taken to a 
better world. We read with a melancholy interest certain 
passages in his letter to the Pilgrims who had safely reached 
these shores, and had survived the first fatal winter. 

In a letter to the church at Plymouth, dated June, 1621, 
he says : " My continual prayers are to the Lord for you ; 
my most earnest desire is unto you ; from whom I will not 
longer keep (if God will) than means can be procured to 
bring with me the wives and children of divers of you and 
the rest of your brethren, whom I could not leave behind 
me without great injury both to you and them, and offence 
to God and all men. The death of so many of our dear 
friends and brethren [alluding to the mortality of the first 
winter after the landing], oh I how grievous hath it been 
to you to bear, and to us to take knowledge of I which, if 
it could be mended with lamenting, could not sufficiently 
be bewailed. But we must go unto them, and they shall 
not return unto us." 

In a letter addressed to Brewster in 1623, he speaks of 
their " languishing state" in Holland, and the "deferring 
of their desired transportation," — " desired," he says, " ra- 
ther than hoped for ; " for there was " no hope at all " of 
any new funds " to be raised for that end," unless some- 
thing could be sent by the colonists. He utterly despaired 
of any further help from the adventurers in England, some 
of them being "honestly-minded," and others unfriendly, 
and exerting a malign influence ; alluding doubtless to the 
notorious John Lyford, and the faction that listened to him. 
At this time, then, 1623, Robinson had well-nigh despaired 
of ever getting over with the remainder ; and what anguish 
must have preyed on his spirit can be more readily con- 


ceived than described. One of them, writing from Holland 
after his death, says, " I know that he would have accepted 
the worst conditions to come to you ; " that is, if the others 
could be got over. It is added, " If we come at all unto 
you, the means to enable us to do so must come from 
you." The colonists did what they could ; and it must 
have greatly added to their distress that they could do no 

The last scene was now rapidly approaching. A letter 
comes, bearing date April 28, 1625, bringing the sad intelli- 
gence that the faithful and beloved pastor was no more. 
He fell sick on Saturday the 22d February, preached twice 
the next day, and died the first of March, at the age of 
about fifty. " If either prayers, tears, or means would have 
saved his life," says the writer, " he had not gone hence." 
He remained " sensible to the very last," with " little or no 
pain." The letter speaks of their low state : they had now 
no church-officer left, but still kept together. This, how- 
ever, was not long. The death of Robinson caused a 
dissolution of his congregation at Leyden : some of them 
succeeded in coming here ; others went back to Amster- 
dam. The congregation at Plymouth were as yet without 
a pastor, having waited in hope of Robinson's coming tUl 
they received tidings of his death. 

Prince, as I said, gives it as a tradition, that his remains 
were buried in the chancel of the church then, in 1714, 
occupied by the English congregation : he adds, from the 
same source, that " the magistrates, ministers, scholars, and 
most of the gentry, mourned his death as a public loss, 
and followed him to his grave." I have already said, that 
this tradition is, in some particulars, not to be relied on. 
The latter part of it (the pomp and ceremony of the fune- 
ral) may, however, have been called in question without 
sufficient reason. It is confirmed by Winslow's narrative, 
though it is true that it is mentioned by no other ancient 


writer. Winslow was not in Holland at the time, but 
might obtain information from the part of Robinson's con- 
gregation who afterwards came over, respecting the funeral 
rites. He says, that, " when God took him away from them 
and us by death, the University and ministers of the city 
accompanied him to his grave with all their accustomed 
solemnities, bewailing the great loss that not only that 
particular church had whereof he was pastor, but some 
of the chief of them sadly affirmed, that all the chmrches 
of Christ sustained a loss by the death of that worthy 
instrument of the gospel." I do not attribute any weight 
to the argument, that, as the plague was then raging at 
Leyden, all public funerals were suspended. An exception 
might have been made in the case of one so loved and 
respected. We know ihat Robinson did not die of the 
plague. The writer of the letter announcing his death says 
expressly, " I thank the Lord he was free of the plague, so 
that all his friends could come freely to him." 

Of the place of his burial there seems now to be some 
certainty. The writer of the " Memoirs of the Pilgrims at 
Leyden " says that after weary search he "at last, in a 
small closet attached to the cathedral-church of St. Peter, 
full of old dust-covered volumes, fell upon one which con- 
tained a record of the receipts of the different churches in 
Leyden, from 1619 to 1629 ; " most of these receipts being 
for " burial-fees ; " that, in the list for 1625, the year of 
Robinson's death, he found a receipt for his interment in 
that same St. Peter's Church. This account is confirmed 
by the general " Record of Burials " * at Leyden, which 
gives the fourth of March as the day of Robinson's inter- 
ment (he died, you remember, on the first), and says that 
he was buried in St. Peter's Church. The date given in 
the church-book for the receipt of the fees is the tenth of 

♦ Gravenbocck ; now " deposited among the archives at the Stadt House." 
Memoirs, &c., pp. 55, 56. 


March. These minute records of the day, recently brought 
to light, are somewhat curious. The amount paid, too, 
is of some significance, it seems. The present administra- 
tor of the affairs of the churches in Leyden, who, says my 
authority, " is well acquainted with the mode of interment 
at different periods," states that the fees paid in Robinson's 
case — nine florins, about three dollars and sixty cents of 
our currency — indicate the humblest burial, being in fact 
only the hire of a grave* under the pavement of the church 
for seven years ; the bodies so deposited being, at the expi- 
ration of that term, removed. The poverty of Robinson 
and his congregation at the time renders this account very 
credible. Many have had humbler graves ; and it matters 
little where the dust is deposited, after the spirit has passed 
on to a higher world. 

Few men have been more sincerely mourned than was 
Robinson by that pilgrim-company, or have deserved a 
more honored remembrance. One of his hearers, whom I 
have repeatedly quoted, writing some years after his death, 
says of him, that " he was a man not easily to be paralleled 
for all things;" his " singulaV virtues" were "well known 
both by friends and enemies ; " he was " a man learned and 
of solid judgment, and of a quick and sharp wit ; " but of " a 
tender conscience, and very sincere in all his ways ; a hater 
of hypocrisy and dissimulation, and would be very plain 
with his best friends. He was very courteous, affable, and 
sociable in his conversation, and towards his own people 
especially." He was " an acute and expert disputant, very 

• In " one of a large number of square pits, containing space sufficient 
for four coffins." The Church of St. Peter is the oldest in Leyden, and 
seems to have been much used for burial. On the monuments contained in 
it are found some distinguished names. In the book of burials, Robinson, 
there called " Koelends," is described as " preacher of the English sect, by 
the Belfry ; " the latter expression referring to the place of his residence, 
which, with the profession of each person interred, is given in the Graven- 
boeck. Memoirs, &c., pp. 56, 71. 


quick and ready." — "He was never satisfied in himself 
until he had searched any cause or argument he had to 
deal in thoroughly and to the bottom ; and," adds the wri- 
ter, " we have heard him sometimes say to his familiars, 
that many times, both in writing and disputation, he had 
sufficiently answered others, but many times not himself," 
and he was " ever desirous of light." * 

Some time after his death, his widow and children came 
to New England. Prince, in his annals, says that he had 
often seen his son Isaac, and that he was above ninety 
years old at the time of his death. He lived at Scituate 
in 1636; and in 1639 removed to Barnstable, where he 
left male posterity.! 

I shall regard this as a lost day, and my labor as utterly 
vain, if, from this account of Robinson and the Pilgrim 

* Bradford's " Dialogue, or the Sum of a Conference between some Young 
Men born in New England, and sundry Ancient Men that came out of Hol- 
land and Old England." Chronicles of the Pilgrims, pp. 451, 452. 

Among the earlier notices of liobinson in works printed in Holland and 
Germany, I find, in Mr. Sumner's note on the subject, only two which are 
of any particular value. Hoornbceck, in a work published at Utrecht in 
1653, twentj'-eight years after Robinson's death, speaks of him as " minister 
of the Leyden Separatists," and the " best among the Brownists," — " beyond 
others distinguished for probity and learning." He refers to the softening 
influence of Ames and Parker. Another writer, Horn, in his Ecclesiastical 
History, printed at Leyden in 1687, mentions several of the Separatists, and 
says of liobinson that he "restored" their " languishing and expiring" 
cause ; he pronounces him " the most learned and modest of all the Sepa- 
ratists ; " through the influence of Ames and Parker, he says, he ceased 
to hold the opinions of the rigid Separatists, and " founded the sect of 
Semi-separatists." He was the " true author," he says, " of Independency 
(now Congregationalism) as then existing in Old and New England." Me- 
moirs, &c., pp. 72, 73. Both these authorities are referred to by Dr. Young. 

Mr. Sumner says that the " former presence " of the Pilgrims in Leyden 
" is now quite unknown to most of the learned men of the University." 

t I know not on what authority the liev. Dr. Allen, in his Biographical 
Dictionary, asserts that John, another son of Robinson, lived at Cape Ann, 
and had a son Abraham, who lived to the age of one hundred and two years. 
The statement has met my eye in no other writer. 


company, who, from reverence for freedom and religious 
principle, forsook country and friends for a life of wander- 
ing, privation, and hardship, and unknown graves in foreign 
lands, — we derive no holy or quickening influence. What 
moral enthusiasm, what strength of conviction, and firm 
reliance on Providence, did it require to stimulate to such 
efforts, and enable the mind to bear up under such a crush- 
ing weight of evil ! Do not their faith and earnestness put 
us of these effeminate days to shame ? They came nobly 
out of their great conflicts, and sowed the seeds of empire 
here, — came for freedom, not for gold, the great stimulant 
to enterprise now, that peoples a land far away. They 
were the beginning of New England ; and it is New Eng- 
land, by its institutions, its principles, and its influences, 
which has made this country what we now behold it. 
Their virtues, their earnestness, their fidelity to their con- 
victions, are deserving of perpetual remembrance. I pity 
those who can discern no merit in those suffering Pilgrims ; 
who can speak of their faults with a light tongue, or allude 
to them only to utter a flippant sneer at their narrowness. 
Faults every one admits they had ; but to see only their 
faults, to be blind to the great worth of their character and 
deeds, argues a mind, I must say, in my opinion, far more 
narrow and bigoted than theirs, and there is less excuse 
for it. We find some apology for them in the barbarities 
of their age, and the cruel sufferings which were inflicted 
on them, which might very naturally have the effect of 
exasperating their spirits, and producing a degree of into- 
lerance. Yet intolerance was not confined to them ; it was 
characteristic of the times ; and they never manifested the 
persecuting spirit which exhibited itself in the Massachu- 
setts Colony.* They attached importance to trifles, it is 
said ; but in their view they were not trifles. Under what 

* Hutchinson's Massachusetts, vol. ii. p. 421. 


others deemed such, they saw great principles ; and for 
principles they contended ; and pitiful must be the mind 
which cannot see, or seeing will not acknowledge it. 
They contended for principles. Happy for us if we had 
one half their earnestness, their zeal, their unflinching trust. 
May the lesson of their faithfulness not be lost upon us I 
Let us be as true to the light we enjoy, — the light of the 
present age, — as they were to that which spread its 
dimmer rays around them, and we shall be better than, I 
fear, we now are, and a blessing from Heaven will rest 
upon us. 

I conclude with an allusion to the origin of Mrs. He- 
mans's hymn, to be presently sung, on the landing of the 
Pilgrim Fathers; a lyric which has as much truth as poeti- 
cal beauty in it. It does justice, but no more than justice, 
to the principle which animated the little band through all 
their wanderings, — from the time they left their " pleasant 
homes in England," till they found an unmarked grave in 
the American wilderness. The account has probably met 
the eye of many of you, but is worth repeating, in sub- 
stance, here. The gifted poetess herself related the facts to 
an American traveller.* " Should you like to know," said 
she, " how I came to write the song?" — "It was thus: 
I purchased two volumes at the bookstore, and brought 
them home ; and, as I laid them on my table, my eye was 
attracted by their envelope, which proved to be eight pages, 
octavo, of an address delivered at Plymouth on some anni- 
versary.! There was no titlepage and no date. The excel- 

• Rev. Chas. Brooks : speech at the dinner of the Cape Cod Association. 

t The oration referred to I presume to be that of the Hon. Edward Eve- 
rett, delivered at Plymouth, Dec. 22, 1824. Judging from what the author 
of the poem says of the beauty of the typography, taken in connection with 
the very graphic description of the voyage and landing, — beginning, '• Me- 
thinks I see it now, that one solitary, adventurous vessel, the ' Mayflower ' 
of a forlorn hope,' &c. on p. 63 of the original edition, — I feel no hesitation 


lence of the paper and the beauty of the type first arrested 
my attention ; but how this stray fragment got to Ireland, 
I could never ascertain. I began to read, and I found it 
contained an entire description of the fact of landing ; and 
so beautiful was the painting, and so thrilling the fact, that 
I could not rest till I had thrown them into verse. I took 
off my bonnet, seized my pen ; and, having read and re- 
read the story, I caught the fire from this transatlantic torch, 
and began to write ; and, before I was aware, I had finished 
my poem." 

Thus was this beautiful ode, which has now become a 
precious home-lyric in New England, struck off at a single 
heat, in one of those moments when genius, under the 
spell of a great idea or powerful emotion, works, it knows 
not how, and gives forth to the world an imperishable 
record of its inspiration. To such trifling incidents do the 
highest creations of the poetic imagination — over which 
time shall have no power — often owe their birth. The 
author's own comment on the line, — 

" Freedom to worship God," 

was, " It is the truth there which makes the poetry." Yes, 
in this case certainly, truth is the poetical element. The 

in pointing to the passage as the " transatlantic torch " at which the poetess 
•' caught her fire." 

The following passage from the apostrophe to the fathers, with which the 
speaker concludes, has acquired new significance during the quarter of a 
century and a little more which has elapsed since the oration was delivered : 
*• Victims of persecution ! how wide an empire acknowledges the sway of 
your principles ! Apostles of Uberty ! what millions attest the authenticity 
of your mission ! Meek champions of truth ! no stain of private interest 
or of innocent blood is on the spotless garments of your renown ! The 
great continents of America have become, at length, the theatre of your 
achievements ; the Atlantic and the Pacific, the highways of communication, 
on which your principles, your institutions, your example, are borne. From 
the oldest abodes of ci^nlization, the venerable plains of Greece, to the 
scarcely explored range of the Cordilleras, the impulse you gave is at length 


lives of those men, indeed, though they understood it not, 
was one great epic, which will go sounding on through all 
time. Sorrowful they went forth on their way; but no 
laurel that binds the conqueror's brow is now so fresh and 
green as theirs ; and, in comparison with that sweet im- 
passioned hymn, the " trumpet that sings of fame " would 
but feebly echo their worth. For obscurity and contempt, 
they have now world-wide renown ; and the spot which 
first received their weary feet shall indeed be "holy ground" 
for ever. They came as exiles ; and the land they sought 
has now become, for all the world, the exile's home. 



Thacher, in his " History of Plymouth " (p. 25, note), notices the error, 
and makes the reference to the Old Colony Club, of which he gives the 
history (pp. 179 — 198). He is the only writer connected with the sub- 
ject, whether historian, orator, commentator, or poet, in whom I have 
found any intimation that the twenty-second is not the true day. Were 
any appeal to authorities necessary to show, that, in dates between IGOO 
and 1700, the difference between the reformed and the unreformed calen- 
dars is ten days only, they could be readily given. Thacher's note, with 
references, may be consulted ; also the " Encyclopaedia Americana," and 
Supplement, art. " Epoch ; " and " Brewster's Edinburgh Encyclopasdia," 
art. " Chronology." 

Since the delivery of the discourse, I have consulted an article in the 
" Companion to the British Almanac for 1845," written by Augustus De 
Morgan, Esq., Mathematical Professor in University College, London, from 
which I give the following extracts : " The time which elapses between 
two entries of the sun into the vernal equinox is 365 days, 5 hours, 48 
minutes, 50 seconds. The calendar of Julius Csesar takes this as 365 
days, 6 hours, and accordingly allows an additional, or 366th, day to every 
fourth year. This makes the average year to be 365j days, which is too 
long by 11 minutes, 10 seconds. This will be found to make 400 years 
too long by about 3 days ; so that the error may be nearly corrected by 
reducing 3 leap-years in 400 years to common years. The mode of doing 
this was by neglecting to make leap-years of the anni Domini which end 
with 00, unless the preceding figures are divisible by 4. Thus 1600 is 
leap-year, but 1700, 1800, 1900 are not leap-years ; 2000 is leap-year, but 
2100, 2200, 2300 are not leap-years. In the Julian calendar, every year 
is leap-year which is divisible by 4 ; in the Gregorian calendar, the excep- 
tion is, that the years which close centuries (or end with 00) are not 
leap-years, unless they are divisible by 400. This correction still leaves 
the year a little too long, by about a day in 3600 years." — pp. 11, 12. 

" The difference of the styles is the difference of names given to the 
same day in the reformed and unreformed calendars. The reformation 
suppresses ten days to begin vrith, and so puts the reckoning ten days 


forward ; moreover, it puts it one day forward for every leap-year which 
it turns into a common year, as soon as February 28 of the reduced year 
is past. Thus from 1582, October 5, of old style, October 15 of new style, 
up to 1700, February 28, old style, March 10, new style, the addition is 
ten to the day of the month. But in old style there is such a day as 
February 29, 1700, which there is not in the new style ; hence, from the 
last day named in both styles up to 1800, February 28, old style, March 
11, new style, the difference of styles is eleven daj's ; and so on. At pre- 
sent it is twelve days." — p. 33. 

The most exact information I have met with, in regard to the time at 
which the reformed calendar was introduced in different countries, may be 
found in " The Chronology of History," by Sir Harris Nicholas, pp. 32 — 
36 (Lardner's Cab. Cycl.). "In Russia and Greece," says the writer, 
" the Gregorian calendar is still (1833) rejected, and they adhere tena- 
ciously to the old stj-le, which is also the case throughout the East." — 
p. 34. 

As an illustration of the force of popular prejudice and superstition, 
Professor De Morgan states, that, "when in England, in the eighteenth 
century, it [the change from old to new style] was at last introduced, the 
mob pursued the minister in his carriage, clamoring for the days by which, 
as they supposed, their lives had been shortened ; and the illness and 
death of the astronomer Bradley, who had assisted the government Avith 
his advice, were attributed to a judgment from Heaven." — Companion 
to British Almanac for 1845, pp. 12, 13.