Joseph Shepherd Chs. 17-18

Chapter 17

As the Intrepid was being sailed into port, Shepherd and I were having a conversation with William Bradford and James Mullins. “Such a shame about the Intrepid, what really happened on that voyage?” asked Bradford. I began to try to explain to Bradford what had happened on board the Intrepid, but I realized that I had no explanation for the strange tale of the Intrepid. How does one begin to tell of treachery, disease, battle, deceit, natural disasters, and, in the end, destruction? “The ship lost its purpose”, said Shepherd. “The grab for power overcame the natural purpose of the ship. In the end, ambition, glory, and pride caused this disaster.”

“Could a good leader have prevented this?” asked Bradford. “Yes, a courageous leader could have kept the focus”, said Shepherd. “A leader who knows his mission can lead people past disaster into promise,” he said. “Like Moses?” asked Bradford. “Yes, like Moses” said Shepherd.

“I have been reading about Moses”, said Bradford. “He led his people through the perils of the desert, selfless in his desire to get them to the Promised Land.” “Yes, said Shepherd, “that is true, but his goal was not the Promised Land, his goal was to do the will of God.”

Bradford reflected on that statement for a while. He had been thinking a great deal about his own ability to lead his people to the Promised Land of America. He wondered how he could govern his people, and lead them on a ship across an ocean. He desperately wanted to be a good leader, and he needed to do more than simply get them safely to America. He must care about their souls as well as their bodies. He must help them to true freedom in every sense, not just religious freedom from King James’ tyranny.

Shepherd continued, “People need something to reach for, not just run away from.” “You will never succeed if you simply escape the tyranny of King James, you must build a land of freedom for your people”, said Shepherd.

“I know that I must lead in that way”, said Bradford, “and I want to establish a place where people are free to worship God without the King deciding the religion of the land.”  “Yes”, said Shepherd, “and the people need to govern themselves. Government is good in that it allows people freedom to serve God and man”, said Shepherd. “In the book of Romans, Paul tells the Christians that government is established to preserve the peace so that people can worship and serve freely. People who govern themselves can only do so properly if they have a higher goal in mind. Look at the Intrepid. Pride and ambition are the sins which destroyed the ship. If people are dedicated to serve the Lord God, they will be able to govern themselves in peace, and God will prosper them.”  

“We must have a document that proclaims these ideas”, said Bradford. “We must make a compact which lays out these ideals which will serve as our basis of governance and order in America”, he said. “May God bless you in that endeavor”, said Shepherd.

Dr. Mullins was near tears as he listened to this discussion. He had, for years, struggled with his own convictions about personal and religious freedom. The upcoming trip to America would be his vindication of beliefs, as well as a chance to have a new start in life. His life had been broken by the execution of his brother because of his outspoken religious beliefs. Mullins had sworn to live a life worthy of his brother’s legacy, and to pass on to his children the need to stand up for convictions. He was already teaching his 10-year-old son to stand true to his beliefs. The trip to America would be a challenge for his young family, but he relished the chance to give his family a better life than his parents had experienced. In fact, his decision to become a physician was part of his idea to care for others as his life mission.

I too was quite taken with the conversation between Shepherd and Bradford. These were fascinating ideas being discussed, and I was enjoying the session immensely. “Be sure to bring cannon and powder”, I said, “not everyone has such lofty ideals.” Shepherd laughed, “Dr. Greene must always insert the other side of the equation.” “Leave the guns for King James”, Mr. Bradford, “you concentrate on leading your people to your King, not just away from the king of England.” 

Chapter 18

Lord Kensington and William Harvey set off for Portsmouth when word reached London that the Intrepid had arrived in port. The story had already taken on a life of its own, embellished by the reports of Alvin Toll. Toll had been spreading the news that he had saved Portsmouth from the rogue ship Intrepid. Toll’s story was that the shore batteries under his command had hit the Intrepid, split her mast, and forced the crew into surrender. The buzz from the story had been getting a good deal of attention in southern England, and even King James had heard a few variants of the story.

Kensington had left his wife behind in London where she and Edwin Carr were renewing their old friendship. Kensington seemed to care little that there was also some talk about the balls and gatherings they were attending together, and that Lady Kensington seemed to have reverted to her “pre-lady” days. Lord Kensington was putting his attention to the business to be done in Portsmouth. He also seemed to have an interest in the approaching departure of the Mayflower for America. Kensington believed that there might be a way to secure some trade connections with the trip. He would visit William Bradford to discuss such thoughts. Harvey was only interested in talking to Shepherd and me about the medical aspects of the Intrepid’s voyage.

Shepherd and I were about to say farewell to William Bradford and James Mullins as the Mayflower was ready to depart. Lord Kensington and William Harvey met us as we were heading out to the busy Mayflower. I was thrilled to meet Harvey who I had come to believe was a genius of growing proportion.

“Dr. Greene?” greeted Harvey as he jumped out of his carriage to meet us. I quickly introduced Harvey to Joseph Shepherd. I was amazed that they embraced on the spot in a spontaneous recognition of one another, though they had never met before that moment. Lord Kensington also seemed astounded at the sight, but he quickly recovered, and introduced himself to me. It somehow seemed that the two brilliant men in the group had gravitated to one another, leaving Kensington and me to recede into the shadows together. Our mundane conversation quickly led to expedient matters of the Mayflower’s departure, and Kensington’s desire to meet William Bradford. I told Kensington that I would arrange a brief meeting with Bradford if he so desired. Meanwhile, Shepherd and Harvey were already discussing new and fascinating medical ideas.

“Dr. Harvey, I know that you have had the benefit of studying with some of the masters on the Continent”, said Shepherd. “What is the most fascinating thing that you have discovered in your travels?” Harvey replied that his study of human cadavers had led him to speculate on the role of blood in the body. Harvey stated that he believed that blood circulated through the body, pumped by the heart, and conveyed by the veins throughout the entire body. While the exact process was not yet clear, Harvey could see the implications of radical changes in medical thought if this theory were true.

As usual, Shepherd had ideas of his own on the matter. As was also usual, Shepherd had both clinical and philosophical ideas on the blood. Shepherd began to explain to Harvey that the Bible indicated that the life of the body is in the blood, citing Leviticus 17:11. From this, Shepherd had, by intuition, agreed with Harvey that the life of the body is nourished in every organ by a fresh supply of circulating blood. Shepherd continued that he had seen healthy people become ill after having touched the blood of a sick person. Shepherd also said that he had seen people who were sick being bled by physicians as a treatment, and that he was appalled by the practice. Yet, many physicians persisted in the practice, despite limited results. Shepherd said that he was amazed that so many physicians would persist in a practice that did not yield good results. Harvey nodded in agreement. Harvey too was concerned that medical practice was carrying on treatments which could not be proven to be effective.

“Dr. Shepherd, I have heard that you are a man of faith, and that spiritual ideas seem to dominate your treatment methods, yet you defend scientific principles. How do you explain this paradox?” asked Harvey. “Well Dr. Harvey, I see no conflict between faith and science”, said Shepherd. “The same Creator who formed the earth put those very scientific principles in place. There is no conflict there. A man’s body can be healed in very predictable, scientifically explainable ways, yet the cure may be the forgiveness of his sins and the cleansing of his conscience”, continued Shepherd. That’s what Jesus said in the book of Luke, “Is it easier to say ‘get up and walk’, or ‘your sins are forgiven’. Both messages are healing.” 

Harvey and Shepherd continued discussing such ideas as Lord Kensington and I were boarding the Mayflower. While their minds were contemplating higher ideals, Kensington and I were thinking more along the lines of business and treasure in the New World.

“Lord Kensington,” I asked, “what is your interest in the voyage of the Mayflower?” “My interest,” said Kensington “is to start more tobacco planting in the New World. I would like Mr. Bradford to consider raising tobacco once his colony is established. The money from tobacco may be the real salvation of his religious journey”, sniffed Kensington. “They are not bound for Virginia”, I stated. “I do not know if tobacco grows in all parts of the New World.” 

Kensington seemed to have little interest in my comments about the climate in the New World. In fact, it appeared that he knew surprisingly little about America at all. I was stunned at this apparent ignorance. A man who made his wealth on commerce through trade and sailing ships around the world should be more attuned to such matters I thought to myself. Lord Kensington was more one-dimensional than I had imagined. His world was money.

Lord Kensington was looking for ways to grow tobacco outside of the control of Virginia. King James had restricted the importation, as well as the growing of tobacco. Kensington hoped that finding other places in the New World would allow for ways around the royal restrictions. Tobacco grown outside of Virginia, controlled by Kensington, and imported to England could bring great wealth. He knew also that men like Jacob Carr could help to arrange such deliveries. What Kensington needed was a connection in America. Perhaps William Bradford would see the value of marrying his mission with a way to finance it.

As we reached the Mayflower, there was a buzz of activity and excitement all around the port. William Bradford was buried in the flurry of details in preparation for departure. As we approached Bradford, he was cordial to me. As I tried to introduce Lord Kensington to him, Bradford was suddenly cool and distracted. Kensington pressed to discuss his idea of tobacco farming with Bradford. He quickly explained his idea to Bradford, and pointed out the economic benefits that tobacco could bring to the new settlement. Bradford heard Kensington out for a few minutes then interrupted, “My Lord Kensington, I thank you for your interest in our well-being, but I cannot commit to growing anything but food for my people. We are not interested in commerce, we are interested in freedom. We cannot be distracted from our mission. Now I really must be about my business.”

With that, Bradford was off to oversee the loading of salt fish, fresh water, and other provisions. Lord Kensington was angry, but he managed to hide it from those around him. He was very good at this. However, anyone who knew him, also knew that his anger, while hidden, would someday come to expression. Lord Kensington was always amazed at people who turned their back on making money. He simply could not understand them. 

Harvey and Shepherd were still engrossed in their conversation, which now had wandered to such topics as poverty, nutrition, and the divine right of kings. Harvey was fascinated by Joseph Shepherd, and he invited Shepherd to return to London with him.

“I beg you to come with me”, said Harvey, “have you ever been to London?” Harvey queried. Shepherd replied that he had not been to London, but he had done a good bit of traveling around the world, and Shepherd agreed that London would be a fascinating destination. Shepherd also stated that he had no immediate plans, and that he would accompany Harvey to London.

“Good, then it’s agreed, we shall leave tomorrow”, said a smiling Harvey. “I shall introduce you to King James”, continued Harvey. Shepherd thanked Harvey, and then he approached me. “Dr. Greene”, began Shepherd, would you please accompany me to London? The good Dr. Harvey has invited me, but I will not go unless you come also.”

I thought about the offer, and I realized that I had made no provision whatsoever for my next plans. My medical practice had virtually disappeared after the death of my wife three years earlier. I had begun to drink more heavily than I cared to admit, I had left my practice, and I had entered into the service of the Royal Navy. I too was running from my past, much like many of the sailors on the Intrepid.  I had supposed that I would go on to sail on the next voyage of one of the Royal Navy vessels, but I had not given much thought to that even though I had no real source of income secured. “Yes, I will come with you”, I said. I could not believe that those words had come from my mouth so quickly and comfortably. There just seemed to be something about Joseph Shepherd that drew me to where he was, and I agreed to follow him, having no plans, but having also, strangely, no fears.

“Lord Kensington”, said Harvey, “I fear that I have prevailed upon your good nature to invite these men back to London with us.” Kensington looked unfazed by the prospect. “As you wish, Dr. Harvey” said Kensington. “I would think that we could put these two men to work profitably for the East India Company.” I looked at Shepherd, amazed at my good fortune. Perhaps I would have plans after all, even if they were not of my own making. Perhaps those were the best plans to have.

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