Thursday, November 30, 2006

American Writers - Of Plymouth Plantation: 1620-1647

Of Plymouth Plantation:1620-1647 by William Bradford, edited by Samuel Eliot Morison

The first thing I found intriguing about this book was the ease at which I was able to read and understand Bradford's meaning as he wrote. Here is an example from Chapter 2 about the Pilgrim's departure for Holland:

Being thus constrained to leave their native soil and country, their lands and living, and all their friends and familiar acquaintance, it was much; and thought marvelous by many. But to go into a country they knew not but by hearsay, where they must learn a new language and get their living they knew not how, it being a dear place and subject to the miseries of war, it was by many thought an adventure almost desperate; a case intolerable and a misery worse than death. Especially seeing they were not acquainted with trades nor traffic (by which that country doth subsist) but had only been used to a plain country life and the innocent trade of husbandry. But these things did not dismay them, though they did sometimes trouble them; for their desires were set on the ways of God and to enjoy His ordinances; but they rested on His providence, and knew Whom they had believed.

As your read this legendary book of American history I suggest you also read at the same time this book, The Great and Godly Adventure: The Pilgrims & the Myth of the First Thanksgiving by Godfrey Hodgson. It helps immensely to clarify the history of the Reformation in England, the Pilgrim congregations, and it has the added dividend of being short. Oh, and there is that business about the mythology that has grown up around the Thanksgiving holiday. Try having a real Pilgrim harvest-home celebration meal ala 1621 Massachusetts-style one year. I dare you. And it was a very early "backwoods diplomatic encounter", too, the venison being supplied by the Massasoit (king) and the men of the Wampanoag. I can't wait to hear how you redo the tradition next year. Bon appetit.

Maybe you'll get some ideas here.
Plimoth Plantation

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