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labors with them,” and it may be presumed there were none. At Sandwich, in Plymouth Colony, lived Mr. Richard Bourne* and Mr. William Leverich,” both of whom followed, but with no striking success, in the steps of Eliot and Mayhew. Most of the services of the missionaries who have been named were rendered under the direction of the Federal Commissioners, through whom allowances were made from the treasury of the English corporation.* The chief proceedings of the Commissioners of the United Colonies during the time of their most unrestricted freedom have been recorded in this and in the last chapter. The course of affairs in the mother country, averting the danger of encroachment from that quarter, had relieved the Confederacy from the heaviest responsibility which it had been devised to meet. Among the particulars of miscellaneous business brought before the Commissioners from time to time by the several jurisdictions, occur such as are indicative of the generous comprehensiveness of their objects, confined, and at the same time illustrated, by their humble means. On information from the Corporation of Harvard College, “that the former College buildings were in a decaying condition, and would require considerable charge erelong for a due repair, and that, through the increase of scholars, many of them were forced to lodge in the town,” the Commissioners, “conceiving that the advancement of learning here might also advance the work of Christ among the Indians,” desired Mr. Winslow to ascertain whether aid legi. could be obtained for the College from the So- ** ciety for Propagating the Gospel, at the same time expressing their readiness to propose to the Colonies, “that by pecks, half-bushels, and bushels of wheat, according as men were free and able, the College might have some considerable yearly help.” “To the end that the works of God and his goodness, which had been great towards his people in their first planting of this desolate wilderness, might never be forgotten, but be kept in a thankful and
* Gookin, in Mass. Hist. Col., I. 208; * “Further Progress,” &c., 21–25. comp. Records, &c., in Hazard, IL 469. * Records, &c., in Hazard, II. 393. * Gookin, in Mass. Hist. Col., I. 196.
1so perpetual remembrance, to the praises of his
** grace and comfort of posterity,” they requested the several General Courts to collect memorials of the past, so that “some one fitly qualified might be appointed
and desired to compose the same into a history, and pre
pare it for the press.”
* Records, &c., in Hazard, II. 197. — In this year, the account of Thomas Weld's agency was at last settled. When he presented it in 1647 (see above, p. 384, note 1), he bespoke the interest of Mr. Ezekiel Rogers to get it despatched. (Letter of Rogers to Winthrop, Nov. 8, 1647, in the “Hutchinson Papers” in the possession of the Mass. Hist. Soc., I, 133.) But the parties were not yet prepared to agree. At length, Oct. 25, 1651, a committee of the General Court, consisting of Nowell, Duncan, William Tyng, and Edward Johnson, “accepted and allowed of.” the account, with a balance in Weld's favor of £19. 16, in a sum of £1,625. 2. 6. (Mass. Archives, LVIII. 6.)
* Records, &c., in Hazard, II. 367. — Accordingly, New Haven (May 27, 1657) “agreed to desire Mr. Davenport, Mr. Higginson, and Mr. Pierson to gather up the most remarkable passages of God's Providence which hath been observable in these parts since their first beginnings, which may be a help towards the compiling of a history of the gracious providences of God to New England” (N. H. Rec., II. 217); and Connecticut (Oct. 2, 1656) raised a committee, consisting of Major Mason, Mr. Stone, and six others, for the same service. (Conn. Rec., I. 284.) I do not know that Plymouth or Massachusetts acted on the recommendation. Perhaps it was known that Bradford and Winthrop had been keeping journals.
CHA PTER IX.
THE plantations about Narragansett Bay were as yet incapable of a settled government. They needed first to learn by experience that social order is inconsistent with such an uncompromising individualism as they affected to maintain. Unorganized within themselves, they continued to have but a loose relation to the unity of New England. Little cause as there might be to admit that they had legitimate political claims, plausible as were the reasons which the Confederacy might plead for interference in their affairs, and incompetent as they were to self. defence against its well-compacted power, the Confederacy had no mind to molest them. They served the Confederacy a useful purpose. In the existing ferment of opinion in the parent country, it was to be expected that among the emigrants to New England there would be persons affected with all sorts of eccentric humors; and it was beneficial to the other plantations that there should be a place where such persons might conveniently collect, and gradually become quiet and wise by making their experiments where they would do little harm except to one another. It was an advantage to have, near by, a sufficient receptacle for the overflow of communities which would be the more wholesome for being drained. Williams, Coddington, and some of their associates, possessed qualities worthy of high esteem; but it is doing them no injustice to say, that to build solid commonwealths was not their vocation, and that, if the NewEngland settlements had all been “Providence Plantations,” New England would have proved a failure.
It was known that Coddington had gone to England in discontent at the state of things about him; but the special purpose of his voyage had not
Commission of Coddington.
... been disclosed. After an absence of two years * and a half he returned, having obtained a “comApril 8.
mission ” from the Council of State to institute a separate government over the islands of Rhode Island and Conanicut.” This government he was to administer during his life, with a Council of not more than six assistants, to be nominated annually by “such freeholders of Newport and Portsmouth as should be well affected to the government of the Commonwealth of England,” the choice, however, to be subject to the Governor's approval. In case of the Governor's absence or death, the local Council were to appoint his successor, who was to hold his office till the Parliament or the Council of State should “give further order.” Besides Providence and Warwick, which were thus remanded to their original isolation, a large number of Coddington's own fellow-citizens on the island—no fewer than sixty-five at Newport, and forty at Portsmouth — were opposed to this arrangement. One reason, at least, for so strong an opposition is to be found in religious dissent. When a portion of the adherents of Mrs. Hutchinson had separated themselves from their old friends, and made a settlement on Rhode Island, it was not to be supposed that their propensity to religious novelties and disputes was exhausted. “Other troubles,” writes Winthrop, who of course did not view them with a favorable eye, “arose in the island by reason of one Nicholas Easton, a man very bold, though ignorant. He . . . . . maintained that man hath no power or will in himself but as he is acted by God; and that, seeing God filled all things, nothing could be or move but by him; and so he must needs be the author of sin, &c.; and that a Christian is united to the essence of God. . . . . . There joined with Nicholas Easton Mr. Coddington, Mr. Coggeshall, and some others; but their minister, Mr. Clarke, and Mr. Lenthall and Mr. Harding, and some others, dissented and publicly opposed, whereby it grew to such heat of contention, that it made a schism among them.” Heretofore Clarke had been the fast friend of Coddington, and had adhered to him, with Easton and Coggeshall, at the time of the disturbance which resulted in his deposition and his removal to Newport.” The controversy in Massachusetts, which occasioned
* See above, p. 221. —It can hardly be supposed that Coddington had the aid of Vane in superseding the patent of Providence Plantations, though they had been in the magistracy of Massachusetts together, and had been fellowsufferers in the Antinomian controversy.
The first meeting of the Council of State was held February 17, 1649, in the third week after the execution of the King. For two years the business of the Colonies was overlooked. At the end of this time (February 18, 1651) an order was made “that the whole Council, or any five of them, be a Committee to consider of the business of plantations.” A vote of the Council, six weeks later (April 3), recites that, “by a late Act of Parliament of the 3d of October last, it is granted to the Council of State to have power and authority over all such islands and all other places in America as have been planted at the cost and settled by the people and authority of this nation, and thereon in any of the said islands and places to institute Governors, and to grant commission or commissions to such person or persons as they shall think fit, and to do all just things and to use all
lawful means for the benefit and preservation of said plantations and islands in peace and safety until the Parliament shall take other or further order there, any letters patent or other authority formerly granted, or given, to the contrary notwithstanding.” It then goes on to “make and constitute * William Coddington “to be Governor of the said islands” (Rhode Island and Conanicut), and to commission him as such. He is to administer his government “in the name of the Keepers of the Liberties of England by authority of Parliament, and to use and observe the same and no other form” in all commissions and proceedings. He is to be assisted by Counsellors “not exceeding the number of six,” who are to be nominated from year to year by well-affected freeholders of Newport and Portsmouth, but must be confirmed by the Governor. The electors, as well as the Magistrates, must make the declaration: “I do declare and promise that I will be true and faithful to the Commonwealth of England as it is now established, without a King or House of Lords.” (Journal of the Council of State, in the State-Paper Office.)