Puritanism and the Wilderness: The Intellectual Significance of the New England Frontier, 1629-1700

By Peter N. Carroll | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
"Sad Stormes
and Wearisom Dayes"

IF the Puritans compared old England to the "fleshpotts of Egipt" and viewed New England as the promised land, it was fitting that the "vast sea" between these countries would be described with similar Biblical metaphors. For the seventeenth-century Israelites, the Atlantic Ocean posed a formidable obstacle on the way to the New Canaan. And it was therefore probably no coincidence that John Winthrop, in one of his last letters before leaving England forever, referred to "the streights of the redd sea" in acclaiming the power and mercy of the Lord.1

Three months later, Winthrop was certain that his appraisal of divine sovereignty was correct. "We had a longe and troublesome passage," he wrote to his wife in the first letter he directed to England, "but the Lord made it safe and easye to us." To his eldest son, Winthrop praised God for "a Comfortable passage."2Winthrop's account of the voyage aboard the three hundred and fifty ton Arbella, the flagship of the 1630 fleet, however, was greatly enlarged. Despite his insistence to the contrary, Winthrop, in his

____________________
1
John Winthrop to His Wife, March 10, 1629[/30], Winthrop Papers, II, 219.
2
John Winthrop to His Wife, July 16, 1630, John Winthrop to John Winthrop, Jr., July 23, 1630, Winthrop Papers, II, 302, 304.

-27-

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