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THE COURTSHIP OF MILES STANDISH. This rests poem on a basis of historical truth. The house of Standish is one of the oldest in Lancashire. Ralph Standish fought at the battle of Agincourt; John helped to destroy Wat Tyler. Henry Standish, a Bishop of St. Asaph, had the courage to stand by Queen Catherine and assist her in resisting the famous divorce. John Standish wounded Wat when felled to the ground by the arm of Walworth, but Henry, the Bishop, resisted his royal namesake, when the latter was in great power.
Miles Standish the hero of this poem was the descendant of a younger brother of this valiant race. The career of poor but daring spirits in the age of Elizabeth was often sought in the Low Countries, where the great question of Religious Liberty against the Spanish Inquisition was being settled on field and scaffold. It was the age of great events the age of Elizabeth, of Alva, of the Armada, and of the Puritans. Among the soldiers sent over by the Queen of England to help the Dutch in that grand struggle for independence, Miles Standish drew his sword. He united the wisdom of a true statesman with the nerve and daring of a good soldier, qualities which fitted him in a pre-eminent degree to adorn the post which, when he left Leyden for America, he was called on to fill. In Holland he
had learned to admire the devotedness and moral grandeur of the Puritans. Though he never joined their church, he was the staunch friend and sworn defender of that little band of heroic men and women who landed from the May Flower in New England in the year 1620. As the "best linguist" among the pilgrims, he was qualified to treat with the Indians; and as the best soldier, he took the command in their expeditions. "His capital exploit," as the old chronicle terms it, was the salvation of the planters at Weymouth from extermination. The hostility of the Indians had been provoked by the injustice of some greedy London adventurers, who were striving to monopolise the advantages of the fur trade. The colony was saved by the wisdom and courage of Miles Standish. He died in 1656, at the age of 72.
He was twice married, and the tradition has been handed down, that some time after the death of his first wife, he employed the friendly services of one John Alden to pay court in his name to a fair lady, who, however, fell in love with his ambassador; and Priscilla Mullins became the wife of John Alden. Another lady, however, known to us only by the name of Barbara, consoled him for this mortification by accepting the hand of one of the greatest and noblest men whom Providence ever raised up to fight the battle of Liberty in the Old World, and to lay the social foundation of the New.
THE COURTSHIP OF MILES STANDISH.
IN the Old Colony days, in Plymouth the land of the Pilgrims,
To and fro in a room of his simple and primitive dwelling, Clad in doublet and hose, and boots of Cordovan leather, Strode, with a martial air, Miles Standish the Puritan Captain.
Buried in thought he seemed, with his hands behind him, and pausing
Ever and anon to behold his glittering weapons of warfare, Hanging in shining array along the walls of the chamber,—— Cutlass and corslet of steel, and his trusty sword of Da
Curved at the point and inscribed with its mystical Arabic sentence,
While underneath, in a corner, were fowling-piece, musket, and matchlock.
Short of stature he was, but strongly built and athletic,