delanceyplace.com 12/21/06 - pilgrims

In today's encore excerpt - Bill Bryson on how ill-prepared the 102 Mayflower Pilgrims were for the trip to the New World:

"It would be difficult to imagine a group of people more ill-suited to a life in the wilderness. They packed as if they misunderstood the purpose of the trip. They found room for sundials and candlesnuffers, a drum, a trumpet, and a complete history of Turkey. One William Mullins packed 126 pairs of shoes and thirteen pairs of boots. Yet they failed to bring a single cow or horse, plow or fishing line. Among the professions represented on the Mayflower's manifest were two tailors, a printer, several merchants, a silk worker, a shopkeeper, and a hatter—occupations whose indispensability is not immediately evident when one thinks of surviving in a hostile environment. Their military commander, Miles Standish, was so diminutive of stature that he was known to all as 'Captain Shrimpe'—hardly a figure to inspire awe in the savage natives, whom they confidently expected to encounter. ...

"They were, in short, dangerously unprepared for the rigors ahead, and they demonstrated their incompetence ... by dying in droves ... just fifty-four people, nearly half of them children, were left to begin the long work of turning this tenuous toehold into a self- sustaining colony."


author:

Bill Bryson

title:

Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States

publisher:

First Avon Books

date:

Copyright 1994 by Bill Bryson

pages:

2-3
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