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Chronicles of the Pilgrim fathers of the colony of Plymouth, from 1602-1625 online

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be too late to recover their lives; nay, through the mul-
titude of adversaries, they shall with great difficulty
preserve their own ; and therefore he counselled with-
out delay to take away the principals, and then the
plot would cease. With this he charged him thoroughly
to acquaint me by the way, that I might inform the
Governor thereof, at my first coming home. Being
fitted for our return, we took our leave of him ; who
returned many thanks to our Governor, and also to our-
selves for our labor and love; the like did all that were
about him. So we departed.

That night, through the earnest request of Conba-
tant, who till now remained at Sawaams,' or Puckano-
kick, we lodged with him at Mattapuyst. By the way
I had much conference w^ith him, so likewise at his
house, he being a notable politician, yet full of merry
jests and squibs, and never better pleased than when
the like are returned again upon him. Amongst other
things he asked me, if in case he were thus dangerously
sick, as Massassowat had been, and should send word
thereof to Patuxet for maskiet,^ that is, physic, whether
then Mr. Governor would send it ; and if he would,
whether I would come therewith to him. To

' See note ^ on page 208. sic." Roger Williams's Key, in

' '^ Mashit, give me some phy- R. I. Hist. Coll. i. 159.


both which I answered, Yea ; whereat he gave me chap.
many jojful thanks. After that, being at his house, — ^
he demanded further, how we durst, beine: but two, 162 3.


come so far into the country. I answered, where was
true love, there w^as no fear ; and my heart was so
upright towards them, that for mine own part I was
fearless to come amongst them. But, said he, if your
love be such, and it bring forth such fruits, how cometh
it to pass, that when we come to Patuxet, you stand
upon your guard, with the mouths of your pieces pre-
sented towards us ? Whereupon I answered, it was
the most honorable and respective entertainment we
could give them ; it being an order amongst us so to
receive our best respected friends ; and as it was used
on the land, so the ships observed it also at sea, which
Hobbamock knew and had seen observed. But shak-
ing the head, he answered, that he liked not such salu-

Further, observing us to crave a blessing on our
meat before we did eat, and after to give thanks for
the same, he asked us, what was the meaning of that
ordinary custom. Hereupon I took occasion to tell
them of God's works of creation and preservation, of
his laws and ordinances, especially of the ten com-
mandments ; all which they hearkened unto with great
attention, and liked well of; only the seventh com-
mandment they excepted against, thinking there were
many inconveniences in it, that a man should be tied
to one woman ; about which we reasoned a good time.
Also I told them, that whatsoever good things we had,
we received from God, as the author and giver thereof;
and therefore craved his blessing upon that wc had,
and were about to eat, that it might nourish and



CHAP, strenojthen our bodies ; and having eaten sufficient,


v^v^ being satisfied therewitli, we again returned thanks to
1623. the same our God, for that our refreshing, &c. This


all of them concluded to be very well ; and said, they
believed almost all the same things, and that the same
power that we called God, they called Kiehtan} Much
profitable conference was occasioned hereby, which
would be too tedious to relate, yet was no less delight-
ful to them, than comfortable to us. Here we remain-
ed only that night, but never had better entertainment
amongst any of them.
5tli The day following, in our journey, Hobbamock told
me of the private conference he had with Massassowat,
and how he charged him perfectly to acquaint me there-
with, as I showed before ; which having done, he used
many arguments himself to move us thereunto. That
6th night we lodged at Namasket ; and the day following,
^^' about the mid-way between it and home, we met two
Indians, who told us, that Captain Standish was that
day gone to the Massachusets. But contrary winds
again drove him back ; so that we found him at home ;
where the Indian of Paomet still was, being very im-
portunate that the Captain should take the first oppor-
tunity of a fair wind to go with him. But their secret
and villanous purposes being, through God's mercy,
now made known, the Governor caused Captain Stand-
ish to send him away, without any distaste or mani-
festation of anger, that we might the better effect and
bring to pass that which should be thought most neces-

^ " Ketan is their good God, to cate for fair weather, for rain in

whom they sacrifice after their time of drought, and for the reco-

garners be full with a good crop, very of their sick." Wood's New

Upon this God likewise they invo- England's Prospect, part ii. ch. 12.





Before this journey we heard many complaints, chap.
both by the Indians, and some others of best desert — v^
amongst Master Weston's colony, how exceedingly their 162 3.
company abased themselves by undirect means, to get
victuals from the Indians, who dwelt not far from
them, fetching them wood and water, &c. and all for
a meal's meat ; whereas, in the mean time, they might
with diligence have gotten enough to have served them
three or four times. Other by night brake the earth,
and robbed the Indians' store ; for which they had been
publicly stocked and whipped, and yet was there small
amendment. This was about the end of February ; at Feb.
which time they had spent all their bread and corn,
not leaving any for seed, neither would the Indians
lend or sell them any more upon any terms. Here-
upon they had thoughts to take it by violence ; and to
that spiked up every entrance into their town, being
well impaled, save one, with a full resolution to pro-
ceed. But some more honestly minded advised John
Sanders, their overseer, first to write to Plymouth ; and


CHAP, if the Governor advised him thereunto, he might the
3i^ better do it. This course was well liked, and an In-
162 3. dian was sent with all speed with a letter to our Gov-
^^' ernor, the contents whereof were to this effect ; that
being in great want, and their people daily falling
down, he intended to go to Munhiggen, where was a
plantation of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, to buy bread from
the ships that came thither a fishing, with the first op-
portunity of wind ; but knew not how the colony would
be preserved till his return. He had used all means
both to buy and borrow of Indians, whom he knew to
be stored, and he thought maliciously withheld it, and
therefore was resolved to take it by violence, and only
waited the return of the messenger, which he desired
should be hastened, craving his advice therein, pro-
mising also to make restitution afterward. The Gov-
ernor, upon the receipt hereof, asked the messenger
what store of corn they had, as if he had intended to
buy of them ; who answered, very little more than that
they reserved for seed, having already spared all they

Forthwith the Governor and his Assistant sent for
many of us to advise with them herein ; who, after
serious consideration, no way approving of this intend-
ed course, the Governor answered his letter, and caused
many of us to set our hands thereto ; the contents
whereof were to this purpose. We altogether disliked
their intendment, as being against the law of God and
nature, showing how it would cross the worthy ends
and proceedings of the King's Majesty, and his honor-
able Council for this place, both in respect of the peace-
able enlarging of his Majesty's dominions, and also of
the propagation of the knowledge and law of God, and


the glad tidings of salvation, which we and they were chap.
bound to seek, and were not to use such means as 3^
would breed a distaste in the salvages against our per- 162 3.
sons and professions, assuring them their master would ^"'
incur much blame hereby, neither could they answer
the same. For our own parts, our case was almost the
same with theirs, having but a small quantity of corn
left, and were enforced to live on ground-nuts, clams,
muscles, and such other things as naturally the country
afforded, and which did and would maintain strength,
and were easy to be gotten ; all which things they had
in great abundance, yea, oysters' also, which we want-
ed ; and therefore necessity could not be said to con-
strain them thereunto. Moreover, that they should
consider, if they proceeded therein, all they could so
get would maintain them but a small time, and then
they must perforce seek their food abroad ; which, hav-
ing made the Indians their enemies, would be very
difficult for them, and therefore much better to begin a
little the sooner, and so continue their peace ; upon
which course they might with good conscience desire
and expect the blessing of God ; whereas on the con-
trary they could not.

Also that they should consider their own weakness,
being most swelled, and diseased in their bodies, and
therefore the more unlikely to make their party good
against them, and that they should not expect help from
us in that or any the like unlawful actions. Lastly,
that howsoever some of them might escape, yet the

' Morton says, in his New Eng- seen an oyster bank a mile in

hsh Canaan ch. vii. "There are length. Muscles there are infinite

great store of oysters in the en- store. I have often gone to Wes-

trance ot all rivers. They are not sasuscus, where were excellent

round, as those of England, but ex- muscles to eat, (for variety,) the

cellent fat and all good. I have fish is so fat and large."



CHAP, principal agents should expect no better than the gal-
-^^ lows, whensoever any special officer should be sent
16 23. over by his Majesty, or his Council for New England,
which we expected, and who would undoubtedly call
them to account for the same. These were the con-
tents of our answer, which w^as directed to their whole
colony. Another particular letter our Governor sent
to John Sanders, showing how dangerous it would be
for him above all others, being he was their leader and
commander ; and therefore in friendly manner advised
him to desist.

With these letters we dispatched the messenger ;
upon the receipt whereof they altered their determina-
tion, resolving to shift as they could, till the return of
John Sanders from Munhiggen ; who first coming to
Plymouth, notwithstanding our own necessities, the
Governor spared him some corn, to carry them to
Munhiggen. But not having sufficient for the ship's
store, he took a shallop, and leaving others with in-
structions to oversee things till his return, set forward
Feb. about the end of February ; so that he knew not of
this conspiracy of the Indians before his going. Neither
was it known to any of us till our return from Saw^aams,
or Puckanokick ; at which time also another sachim,
called Wassapinewat, brother to Obtakiest, the sachim
of the Massachusets, who had formerly smarted for par-
taking with Conbatant, and fearing the like again, to
purge himself, revealed the same thing.
Mar. The three and twentieth of March being: now come,

23 • • .

which is a yearly court day, the Governor, having a
double testimony, and many circumstances agreeing
with the truth thereof, not being ^ to undertake war

^ The word inclined or disposed seems to have been accidentally omitted.


without the consent of the body of the company, made chap.


known the same in public court, offering it to the con- ^ -
sideration of the company, it being high time to come 1^23.
to resolution, how sudden soever it seemed to them,
fearing it would be put in execution before we could
give any intelligence thereof. This business was no
less troublesome than grievous, and the more, because
it is so ordinary in these times for men to measure
things by the events thereof; but especially for that
we knew no means to deliver our countrymen and pre-
serve ourselves, than by returning their malicious and
cruel purposes upon their own heads, and causing them
to fall into the same pit they had digged for others ;
though it much grieved us to shed the blood of those
whos€ good we ever intended and aimed at, as a prin-
cipal in all our proceedings. But in the end we came
to this public conclusion, that because it was a matter
of such weight as every man was not of sufficiency to
judge, nor fitness to know, because of many other In-
dians, which daily, as occasion serveth, converse with
us; therefore the Governor, his Assistant, and the Cap-
tain, should take such to themselves as they thought
most meet, and conclude thereof. Which done, we
came to this conclusion, that Captain Standish should
take so many men, as he thought sufficient to make
his party good against all the Indians in the Massachu-
set bay ; and because, (as all men know that have to do
with them in that kind,) it is impossible to deal with
them upon open defiance, but to take them in such
traps as they lay for others, therefore he should pre-
tend trade, as at other times ; but first go to the Eng-
lisli, and acquaint them with the plot, and the end of
his own coming; that comparing it with their carriages



CHAP, towards them, he miffht the better judse of the certainty

XXI ' . ""

— ^ of it, and more fitly take opportunity to revenge the
162 3. same; but should forbear, if it were possible, till such
time as he could make sure [of] Wituwamat, that bloody
and bold villain before spoken of; whose head he had
order to bring ^A•ith him, that he might be a warning
and terror to all of that disposition.

Upon this Captain Standish made choice of eight
men, and would not take more, because he would pre-
vent jealousy, knowing their guilty consciences would
soon be provoked thereunto. But on the next day,
before he could go, came one ' of Mr. Weston's com-
pany by land unto us, with his pack at his back, who
made a pitiful narration of their lamentable and weak
estate, and of the Indians' carriages, whose boldness
increased abundantly ; insomuch as the victuals they
got, they would take it out of their pots, and eat before
their faces ; yea, if in any thing they gainsaid them,
they were ready to hold a knife at their breasts ; that
to give them content, since John Sanders went to
Munhiggen, they had hanged- one of them that stole

' Morton says, " this man's
name was Phinchas Prat, who
has penned the particulars of his
perilous journey, and some other
things relating to this tragedy."
Hubbard states that he was living
in 1G77, at the time he was writ-
ing his History of New England.
In^l662 the General Court of JMas-
sachusetts, in answer to a petition
of Phinehas Prat, then of Charles-
town, which was accompanied
" with a narrative of the straits
and hardships that the first plant-
ers of this Colony underwent in
their endeavours to plant them-
selves at Plymouth, and since,
whereof he was one, the Court
judgeth it meet to grant him 300
acres of land, where il is to be had,

not hindering a plantation." At
the Court held ]\Iay 3, 1G65, it was
ordered that land be laid out for
Prat, " in the wilderness on the
east of the Merrimack river, near
the upper end of Nacook brook, on
the southeast of it." Prat mar-
ried in 1G30, at Plymouth, a daugh-
ter of Cuthbert Cuthbertson. His
heirs had grants of land in Abing-
ton subsequent to 1672. Drake
says tliat after long search he has
not been able to discover Prat's
narrative. It was probably never
printed. See Morton's Memorial,
p. 90 ; Drake's Book of the Indians,
b. ii. 35; Mass. Hist. Coll. xv. 78,
xvii. 122.

* The notorious Thomas Morton,
of Merry Mount, iu his New Eng-



their corn, and jet they regarded it not ; that another chap.
of their company was turned salvage; that their people — - 1-
had most forsaken the town, and made their rendezvous 1623.
where they got their victuals, because they would not
take pains to bring it home ; that they had sold their
clothes for corn, and were ready to starve both with
cold and hunger also, because they could not endure
to get victuals by reason of their nakedness ; and that
they were dispersed into three companies, scarce hav-
ing any powder and shot left. What would be the

lish Canaan, b. iii. ch. 4, which was
published in 1637, is the first writer
who mentions a ludicrous fable
connected with this execution,
which has been made the occasion
of some reproach on the first plant-
ers of New England. After relat-
ing the settlement of Weston's col-
ony at Weymouth, he mentions
that one of them stole the corn of
an Indian, and upon his complaint
was brought before " a parliament
of all the people" to consult what
punishment should be inflicted on
him. It was decided that this
ofTence, which might have been
settled by the gift of a knil'e or a
string of beads, " was felony, and
by the laws of England, punished
with death; and this must be put
in execution, for an example, and
likewise to appease the salvage.
When straightways one arose,
moved as it were with some com-
passion, and said he could not well
gainsay the former sentence, yet
he had conceived within the com-
pass of ills brain an embryon, that
was of special consequence to be
delivered and cherished. He said
that it would most aptly serve to
pacify the salvage's complaint, and
save the life of one that might, if
need should be, stand them in good
Itead, being young and strong, fit
for resistance against an enemy,
which might come unexpected, for
any thing they knew. The oration

made was liked of every one, and
he entreated to proceed to show the
means how this maybe performed.
Says he, ' You all agree that one
must die ; and one shall die. This
young man's clothes we will take
ofl", and put upon one that is old
and impotent, a sickly person that
cannot escape death; such is the
disease on him confirmed, that die
he must. Put the young man's
clothes on this man, and let the
sick person be hanged in the other's
stead.' 'Amen,' says one, and so
say many more. And this had
liked to have proved their final
sentence; but that one, with a ra-
venous voice, begun to croak and
bellow for revenge, and put by that
conclusive motion, alleging such
deceits might be a means hereafter
to exasperate the minds of the com-
plaining salvages, and that by his
death the salvages should see their
zeal to justice; and therefore he
should die. This was concluded ;"
and they "hanged him up hard

Tliis story of the unscrupulous
Morton furnished Butler with the
materials out of which he construct-
ed the following fiible in his Hudi-
bras, part ii. canto ii. line 409.

" Our l>rethren of New Knaland use

riiciice ninl-fHCtnrs to excuse,
Aiul liaMg tlic giiiltless in their stead,
Of wlidiM the chiinlies have less need ;
As lately liappeiied. In a town,
There lived a cobbler, and but one,





event of these things he said he much feared ; and
therefore not daring to stay any longer among them,
though he knew not the way, vet adventured to come
to us ; partly to make known their weak and danger-
ous estate, as he conceived, and partly to desire he
mi^ht there remain till things were better settled at
the other plantation. As this relation was grievous to
us, so it gave us good encoura2;ement to proceed in our
intendments, for which Captain Standish was now fit-
ted : and the wind coming fair, the next day set forth
for the Massachusets.

The Indians at the Massachusets missed this man ; out of doctrine could cut use,
And nieml men's lives as well as shoes.
This precious hrother dnviiis slain,
In times of peace, an Tndmn,
(Not out of malice, hut mere zeal,
Because he was an infidel,)
The mishty TottipolyniMy
Sent to our elders an envoy,
Coinplainin2 sorely of the hreach
Of leanue, helil forth hy brother Patch,
Against the articles in force
Between liolh cinirclif s, his and ours ;
For which he craved the sriinu to render
Inio his hands, or Inns the offender.
But they, maturely having weighed,
They had no more but him of the trade,
A man that scrveil tliein in a double
Capacity, to tearh and cobble,
Resolvi-d to spare him ; \et to do
The Indian Hogheaii Mogbaan, too,
Impartial justice, in his stead did
Hang an old weaver, that was bed-rid."

It will be observed tliat ^Morton
mentions this substitution merely
as the suggestion of an individual,
which was rejected by the compa-
ny. Even had it been adopted by
ihein, and carried into execution,
it would not have implicated the
Plymouth people at all, nor cast the
least slur on their characters or
principles. For Weston's colony
was entirely distinct from theirs.
and composed of a very different
set of men. Their character, as
portrayed by Weston himself, and
by Cushman and Pierce, before
they came over, may be seen in
note * on pase 2^16, to which the
reader is particularly requested to

refer. Morton himself calls "many
of them lazy persons, that would
use no endeavour to take the benefit
of the country." As Belknap says,
" they were a set of needy advea-
turers, intent only on gaining a
subsistence." They did not come
over from any religious scruples, or
with any religious purpose. There
is no evidence that they had any
church at all ; they certainly were
not Puritans. Neal says, in his
Hist, of New England, i. 102, that
Weston obtained a patent under
pretence of propasratins the disci-
pline of the Church of England in

Grahame. i. 198, falls into an er-
ror in attributing this execution to
Gorges's colony, which settled at
the same pluce in the autumn of
the same year ; and Drake, b. ii. 34,
errs in saying that Morton was one
of Weston's company. Morton did
not come over till March, 1625, in
company with Wollaston, and set-
tled with him not at Weymouth,
but in Quincv. See Prince, pp.
221, 231. The accurate Hutchin-
son, i. 6, should not have made a
fact out of the careless Hubbard's
supposition, which the latter men-
tions as barely "possible." See
Mass. Hist. Coll. xv. 77.


and suspecting his coming to us, as we conceive, sent one chap.
after him, and gave out there that he would never come ^—
to Patuxet, but that some wolves or bears would eat 1623.
him. But we know, both by our own experience, and
the reports of others, that though they find a man
sleeping, yet so soon as there is life discerned, they
fear and shun him. This Indian missed him but very
little ; and missing him, passed by the town and went
to Manomet ; wliom we hoped to take at his return, as
afterward we did. Now was our fort made fit for ser-
vice, and some ordnance mounted ; and though it may
seem long work, it being ten months since it begun,
yet w^e must note, that where so great a work is begun
with such small means, a little time cannot bring [it]
to perfection. Beside, those works which tend to the
preservation of man, the enemy of mankind will hinder,
what in him lieth, sometimes blinding the judgment,
and causing: reasonable men to reason against their own
safety ; as amongst us divers seeing the work prove
tedious, would have dissuaded from proceeding, flat-
tering themselves \A'ith peace and security, and account-
ing it rather a work of superfluity and vainglory, than
simple necessitv. But God, whose providence hath
waked, and, as I may say, watched for us whilst we
slept, having determined to preserve us from these in-
tended treacheries, undoubtedly ordained this as a spe-
cial means to advantage us and discourage our adver-
saries, and therefore so stirred up the hearts of the gov-
ernors and other forward instruments, as the work was
just made serviceable against this needful and danger-
ous time, though we ignorant of the same.

But that I may proceed, the Indian last mentioned,
in his return from iManomet, came through the town,


CHAP, pretending still friendship and in love to see us ; but as
^^— formerl}' others, so his end was to see whether we

162 3. continued still in health and strength, or fell into weak-

Online LibraryAlexander YoungChronicles of the Pilgrim fathers of the colony of Plymouth, from 1602-1625 → online text (page 29 of 44)