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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

How the Fathers Disciplined Governor Vane

By John Winthrop (1588–1649)

[From The History of New England from 1630 to 1649.]

THE GOVERNOR, receiving letters from his friends in England, which necessarily required his presence there, imparted the same to the council and some others; and, being thereupon resolved of his return into England, called a court of deputies, to the end he might have free leave of the country, etc. They, being assembled in court, and himself declaring the necessity of his departure, and those of the council affirming the reasons to be very urgent, though not fit to be imparted to the whole court, they desired respite to consider thereof till the morning; when one of the assistants using some pathetical passages of the loss of such a governor in a time of such danger as did hang over us, from the Indians and French, the governor brake forth into tears, and professed, that howsoever the causes propounded for his departure were such as did concern the utter ruin of his outward estate, yet he would rather have hazarded all, than have gone from them at this time, if something else had not pressed him more, viz., the inevitable danger he saw of God’s judgments to come upon us for these differences and dissensions, which he saw amongst us, and the scandalous imputations brought upon himself, as if he should be the cause of all; and therefore he thought it best for him to give place for a time, etc. Upon this the court concluded that it would not be fit to give way to his departure upon these grounds. Whereupon he recalled himself, and professed, that the reasons concerning his own estate were sufficient to his own satisfaction for his departure, and therefore desired the court he might have leave to go; as for the other passage, it slipped him out of his passion, and not out of judgment. Upon this the court consented, silently, to his departure. Then the question was about supply of his place. Some were of opinion, that it should be executed by the deputy; but this scruple being cast in, that if the deputy should die, then the government would be vacant, and none have power to call any court, or to preside therein, etc., it was agreed to call a court of elections, for a new governor and deputy, in case the present deputy should be chose governor; and an order was made (in regard of the season) that such as would might send their votes by proxy, in papers sealed up and delivered to the deputies. And so this court was adjourned four days, and two days after the court of elections was to assemble. These things thus passed, divers of the congregation of Boston met together, and agreed that they did not apprehend the necessity of the governor’s departure upon the reasons alleged, and sent some of them to declare the same to the court; whereupon the governor expressed himself to be an obedient child to the church, and therefore, notwithstanding the license of the court, yet, without the leave of the church, he durst not go away.

Whereupon a great part of the court and country, who understood hereof, declared their purpose to continue him still in his place, and therefore, so soon as the day of election came, and the country were assembled, it was thought the best way for avoiding trouble, etc., not to proceed to election, but to adjourn the court to the great general court in May. And so the court of deputies, etc., continued still (for the other court was not called).

At this court the elders of the churches were called, to advise with them about discovering and pacifying the differences among the churches in point of opinion. The governor having declared the occasion to them, Mr. Dudley desired, that men would be free and open, etc. Another of the magistrates spake, that it would much further the end they came for, if men would freely declare what they held different from others, as himself would freely do, in what point soever he should be opposed. The governor said, that he would be content to do the like, but that he understood the ministers were about it in a church way, etc., which he spake upon this occasion: the ministers had met, a little before, and had drawn into heads all the points, wherein they suspected Mr. Cotton did differ from them, and had propounded them to him, and pressed him to a direct answer, affirmative or negative, to every one; which he had promised, and taken time for.

This meeting being spoke of in the court the day before, the governor took great offence at it, as being without his privity, etc., which this day Mr. Peter told him as plainly of (with all due reverence), and how it had sadded the ministers’ spirits, that he should be jealous of their meetings, or seem to restrain their liberty, etc. The governor excused his speech, as sudden and upon a mistake. Mr. Peter told him also, that before he came, within less than two years since, the churches were in peace, etc. The governor answered, that the light of the gospel brings a sword, and the children of the bond-woman would persecute those of the free-woman. Mr. Peter also besought him humbly to consider his youth, and short experience in the things of God, and to beware of peremptory conclusions, which he perceived him to be very apt unto.