|The Awakening of Europe|
|by M. B. Synge|
|Book III of the Story of the World series. Covers the reformation in Germany, the Netherlands, France, and England, as well as the settlement of colonies in America. The rise of England and the Netherlands as sea powers, and the corresponding fall of Spain, as well as the rise of Russia, Austria, and the German states are also presented. Ages 11-18 |
THE PILGRIM FATHERS
"Go, and in regions far such heroes bring ye forth
As those from whom we came; and plant our name
Under that star not known unto our north."
 UNDER James I., King of England, there was a little sect of Protestants, known as Puritans, who were sorely
persecuted. They were very strict in their ideas of worship. They wished everything to be more Lutheran. They
thought it wrong to amuse themselves. It, was, in their eyes, a sin to hunt, a sin to put starch into a ruff,
to play at chess.
At last a little band of these Puritans made up their minds to sail over to Holland, "where," they heard, "was
freedom of religion for all men." They hoped in a new land, among new people, to spread their views, and, at
any rate, to be left in peace. So across the sea to Holland they went, arriving at Amsterdam in the year 1608.
For twelve years they lived at Leyden among the Dutch; but they lived as exiles in a strange land, and
Puritanism did not spread as they had hoped. So they turned their eyes across the seas to the New World, where
colonisation was now going on apace. There they might preach their Puritan gospel; there, on the shores of the
New World, they might start life afresh.
 Now the Dutch people had grown very fond of the English Puritans.
"These English," they said, "have lived among us for twelve years, and yet we have not anything to say against
one of them."
It was the summer of 1620 when the Puritans left Leyden for the New World. A crowd was waiting by the shore to
see these Pilgrim Fathers off. In floods of tears the Dutch bade farewell to these people they had learnt to
love, and they were not able to speak for their sorrow.
"But the tide, which stays for no man," bore the Pilgrim Fathers away, and with a fair wind the little ship
reached Southampton, where two larger ships, the Mayflower and the Speedwell, awaited them. Here there were
many delays, and it was late in the summer before the ships left the shores of England. The Speedwell soon put
back, and only the little Mayflower, with forty-one emigrants and their families, was left to face the perils of
the great Atlantic Ocean. It was not long before great gales set in, and the long swell of the Atlantic almost
washed over the little ship. Still the Mayflower went forward, struggling gallantly with wind and weather. Once
or twice the poor Pilgrims were tempted to turn and go home, so great was the misery of those on board. They
were terribly crowded together, sea-sick, and frightened at the high waves which broke over the little ship,
but still they went forward.
 So sixty-four days passed away on a voyage which now takes about a week, when early one November morning the
Pilgrims first caught sight of America. Together they rejoiced and praised God, "that had given them once again
to see the land."
The low sandhills of Cape Cod seemed a very haven of rest to the poor storm-beaten Pilgrims. Their voyage,
indeed, was at an end, but the prospect before them was dreary enough. The wintry wind howled through the
battered little ship, and its icy blasts went through the thin frames of the old Pilgrims, worn by hardship and
Sixteen of them were put ashore to find a suitable place to settle. These landed and marched wearily about,
through sandy woods, sleeping amid forests; but, finding no place for a settlement, they returned sadly to the
ship. Then they explored the coast. The weather grew very cold, the salt spray of the sea froze upon their
clothes, so that they seemed cased all over as in coats of iron.
At last they left Cape Cod and landed in Plymouth Bay, so called from the last place they had left in England.
There was plenty of fish here, springs of water and good harbours. So, leaving the women and children on board,
they began to lay out streets and houses. But the winter was on them, and they had already borne all they
 One by one they sickened, one by one they died, till only half the little band was left.
At last the warm spring days followed the bitter winter weather, and the Pilgrims, under their stout-hearted
leader Miles Standish, took fresh hope. They made friends with the Indians, they tilled the soil and planted
seeds from England.
Then there came a day, nearly four months after their landing, when the Mayflower must go back to England. She
had been riding at anchor in the bay, "battered and blackened and worn by all the storms of the winter."
Here is the heroism of the story. Not one of the Pilgrims went home in her.
"O strong hearts and true, not one went back in the Mayflower;
No, not one looked back who set his hand to the ploughing."
With overflowing eyes they stood on the sea-shore watching with heavy hearts the homeward-bound ship as she
bounded over the waters, leaving them alone in the desert.
"Lost in the sound of the oars was the last farewell of the Pilgrims."
Months and years of hardships followed, but resolutely they worked and toiled, and slowly things grew better. A
shipful of friends followed them from England. In ten years there were 300 settlers; every year the numbers
grew until, forty-two years later, it became part of that State now known as
 Massachusetts. In that Plymouth across the seas a statue now stands marking the spot where the Pilgrim Fathers
landed all these long years ago. Their heroism and perseverance were never forgotten.
"Let it not grieve you that you have broken the ice for others who come after," said their English friends.
"The honour shall be yours to the world's end."
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