Bradford's Letterbook - 2
To our beloved friends Mr. William Bradford, Mr. Isaac Allerton, Mr. Edward
Winslow, and the rest whom they think fit to acquaint therewith.
Two things (beloved friends) we have endeavoured to effect, touching Plymouth
plantation, first, that the planters there might live comfortably and
contentedly. 2d that some returns might be made hither for the satisfying and
encouragement of the adventurers, but to neither of these two can we yet attain.
Nay, if it be as some of them report which returned in the Catherine, it is
almost impossible to hope for it, since, by their sayings, the slothfulness of
one part of you, and the weakness of the other part, is such, that nothing can
go well forward. And although we do not wholly credit these reports, yet surely,
either the country is not good where you are, for habitation; or else there is
something amiss amongst you; and we much fear the willing are too weak and the
strong too idle. And because we will not stand upon the number of the objections
made by them against you; we have sent them here enclosed, that you may see them
and answer them. (These are those which are inserted and answered before in this
book; namely, before Liford's letters, where those letters should also have been
placed, but they came not then to hand and I thought better to put them in, than
to omit them.)
As for such as will needs be Upon their particulars now that they are gotten
over, you must be sure to make such covenants with them, as that first or last
the company be satisfied for all their charge. Neither must you proceed to these
agreements and consultations with many at once, otherwise how easy might they
make a lead in rebellion, which have so long done it in cheating and idleness.
Touching Mr. Weston, his disturbing of you about that 100 taken up for Mr.
Brewer, except we conclude with Solomon that oppression maketh a wise man mad,
we cannot but wonder at it, seeing under his own hand, it is apparently and
particularly expressed, summed Up and sold with the rest of his adventures, so
as no sober man can possibly question it. 2dly, had it not been sold, Mr. Brewer
might well have had it, to pay himself part of a debt which Mr. Weston oweth him
for commodities sold to him, which he saith amounteth to above 102, as he can
prove by good testimony. 3dly, if it had not been apparently sold, Mr. Beuchamp
who is of the company also, unto whom he oweth a great deal more, had long ago
attached it (as he did other's 16ths) and so he could not have demanded it,
either of you or us.
And if he will not believe our testimony here about, who shall believe his,
either in this, or any other matters. It is a dangerous case, when a man groweth
naught in prosperity, and worse in adversity, and what can the end of all this
be, but more and more misery. And for conclusion with him, you may shew him what
we have wrote about him, and if that satisfy him not, but that he shall still
follow his mad and malicious practices against you, warn him out of your
precincts, and let it be Upon his peril to set foot thereon; it being indeed no
reason that a whole plantation should be disturbed or indamaged by the frantic
humours of any one man whatsoever.
Now further for yourselves; as the power of government is fallen upon you, both
by lot and desert (as we are persuaded) so your troubles and cares have been so
much the more hitherto; and we would not have you think of easing yourselves
till you have either made things better, or ended your warfare; for it is best
that the world afford Us these crosses lest we should forget the meditation of
And we pray you all even look to yourselves, and your ways; that there be not
amongst you some cause or occasion of these evil men's insultings and bravery
Upon you, as they do, that we charge you with nothing, but are ready to make
your just defence at all times against opposites; yet let it not offend you,
that we wish you to look to yourselves, as first that you walk close with God,
being fervent and frequent in prayer, instruction and doctrine, both openly and
privately. 2dly, that you instruct and bring up your young ones in the knowledge
and fear of God, restraining them from idleness and profanation of the Sabbath.
3 dly, that you freely and readily entertain any honest men, into your church,
estate and society, though with great infirmities and difference of judgment;
taking heed of too great straitness and singularity even in that particular.
4thly, that there be fervent love and close cleaving together among you that are
fearers of God, without secret whispering or undermining one of another, and
without contempt or neglect of such as are weak and helpless, if honest, amongst
you. This do, and in all things be humble, cheerful and thankful; that if you
cannot grow rich in this world, yet you may be rich in grace; and if you can
send us no other treasure, yet let all that visit you, bring from you the fame
of honesty, religion and godliness, which we trust, shall comfort us more than
all else you can send us in this world.
At a word, though we be detected of folly, ignorance, want of judgment, yet let
no man charge us with dishonesty, looseness or unconscionableness; but though we
lose our labours or adventures, or charges, yea our lives; yet let us not lose
one jot of our innocence, integrity, holiness, fear and comfort with God.
And, thus ceasing for this time to trouble you further; praying God to bless and
prosper you, and sanctify all your crosses and losses, that they may turn to
your great profit and comfort in the end, with hearty salutations to you all, we
lovingly take leave of you, from London, April 7, 1624.
Your assured lovers and friends,
James Sherley, Thomas Fletcher,
Thomas Brewer, John Ling,
William Collier, William Thomas,
Joseph Pocok, Robert Reayne.