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

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childhood, in great hardness, and make them abstain
from dainty meat, observing divers orders prescribed,
to the end that when they are of age, the devil may
appear to them ; causing to drink the juice of sentry^
and other bitter herbs, till they cast, which they must
disgorge into the platter, and drink again and again, till
at length through extraordinary oppressing of nature,
it will seem to be all blood ; and this the boys will do
with eagerness at the first, and so continue till by
reason of faintness, they can scarce stand on their legs,
and then must go forth into the cold. Also they beat
their shins with sticks, and cause them to run through
bushes, stumps and brambles, to make them hardy
and acceptable to the devil, that in time he may appear
unto them.

Their sachims cannot be all called kings, but only
some few of them, to whom the rest resort for protec-
tion, and pay homage unto them ; ^ neither may they

^ Or centaury — probably the cured at what time as having en-

sahbatia chloroides, a plant conspi- tertained Hercules in his cabin, he

cuous for its beauty, which is found would needs be handling and tam-

in great abundance on the margin pering with the weapons of his

of the ponds in Plymouth. It be- said guest so long until one of the

longs to the natural order of Gen- arrows light upon his foot and

tians, one characteristic of which wounded hira dangerously." Hol-

is an intense bitterness, residing land's Pliny, b. xxv. ch. 6.

both in the stems and roots. The ^ "Their government is gene-

gentiana crinita, or fringed gentian, rally monarchical, their chief saga-

also grows in this region. See more or sachem's will being their

Bigelow's Plants of Boston, pp. law ; but yet the sachem hath some

79 and 111. chief men that he consults with as

"The greater centaury is that his special counsellors. Among

famous herb wherewith Chiron the some of the Indians their govern-

centaur (as the report goeth) was ment is mixed, partly monarchical


war without their knowledge and approbation ; yet to chap.
be commanded by the greater, as occasion serveth. -^-^
Of this sort is Massassowat, our friend, and Conanacus, 1623.
of Nanohigganset, our supposed enemy. Every sachim
taketh care for the widow and fatherless, also for such
as are aged and any way maimed, if their friends be
dead, or not able to provide for them. A sachim will
not take any to wife but such an one as is equal to
him in birth ; otherwise, they say, their seed would in
time become ignoble ; and though they have many
other wives, yet are they no other than concubines or
servants, and yield a kind of obedience to the princi-
pal, who ordereth the family and them in it. The
like their men observe also, and will adhere to the first
during their lives ; but put away the other at their
pleasure. This government is successive and not by
choice. If the father die before the son or daughter be
of age, then the child is committed to the protection
and tuition of some one amongst them, who ruleth in
his stead till he be of age ; but when that is, I know

Every sachim knoweth how far the bounds and lim-
its of his own country extendeth ; and that is his own
proper inheritance. Out of that, if any of his men de-
sire land to set their corn, he giveth them as much as
they can use, and sets them their bounds. In this cir-
cuit whosoever hunteth, if they kill any venison, bring

and partly aristocratical ; their sag- sachems that can protect them ; so
amore doing not any weighty that their princes endeavour to car-
matter without the consent of his ry it obligingly and lovingly unto
great men or petty sagamores, their people, lest they should desert
-^heir sachems have not their men them, and thereby their strength,
in such subjection but that very power, and tribute would be dimin-
frequently their men will leave ished." Gookin in Mass. Hist,
them upon distaste or harsh deal- Coll. i. 154.
ing, and go and live under other



CHAP, him his fee ; wliich is the fore parts of the same, if it


-^-^^ be killed on the land, but if in the water, then the skin
162 3. thereof. The great sachims or kings know their
own bounds or limits of land, as well as the rest. All
travellers or strangers for the most part lodge at the
sachim's. When they come, they tell them how long
they will stay, and to what place they go ; during
which time they receive entertainment, according to
their persons, but want not. Once a year the pnieses
use to provoke the people to bestow much corn on the
sachim. To that end, they appoint a certain time and
place, near the sachim's dwelling, where the people
bring many baskets of corn, and make a great stack
thereof. There the pnieses stand ready to give thanks
to the people, on the sachim's behalf; and after ac-
quaint the sachim therewith, who fetcheth the same,
and is no less thankful, bestowing many gifts on them.
When any are visited with sickness, their friends
resort unto them for their comfort, and continue with
them ofttimes till their death or recovery.^ If they die,
they stay a certain time to mourn for them. Night
and morning they perform this duty, many days after
the burial, in a most doleful manner, insomuch as
though it be ordinary and the note musical, which they
take one from another and all together, yet it will draw
tears from their eyes, and almost from ours also.^ But

' See page 313. and public. — When they come to
'^ "Upon the death of the sick, the grave, they lay the dead by the
the father, or husband, and all his grave's mouth, and then all sit
neighbours wear black faces, and dovv^n and lament, that I have seea
lay on soot very thick, which I tears run down the cheeks of stout-
have often seen clotted with their est captains in abundance ; and
tears. This blacking and lament- after the dead is laid in the grave,
ing they observe in most doleful they have then a second lamenta-
manner divers weeks and months, tion." Roger Williams's Key, ch.
yea a year, if the person be great xxxii.


if they recover, then because their sickness was char<re- chap.

able, they send corn and other gifts unto them, at a — v^

certain appointed time, whereat they feast and dance, 16 23.
which they call commoco. When they bury the dead,
they sow up the corpse in a mat, and so put it in the
earth. If the party be a sachim, they cover him with
many curious mats, and bury all his riches with him,
and enclose the grave with a pale.^ If it be a child,
the father will also put his own most special jewels
and ornaments in the earth with it ; also will cut his
hair, and disfigure himself very much, in token of sor-
row. If it be the man or woman of the house, they
will pull down the mats, and leave the frame standing,
and bury them in or near the same,^ and either remove
their dwelling or give over house-keeping.

The men employ themselves wholly in hunting, and
other exercises of the bow, except at some times they
take some pains in fishing. The women live a most
slavish life; they carry all their burdens,^ set and dress
their corn, gather it in, seek out for much of their food,
beat and make ready the corn to eat, and have all
household care lying upon them.

The younger sort reverence the elder, and do all
mean offices, whilst they are together, although they
be strangers. Boys and girls may not wear their hair
like men and women, but are distinguished thereby.

A man is not accounted a man till he do some nota-
ble act, or show forth such courage and resolution as
becometh his place. The men take much tobacco ; *
but for boys so to do, they account it odious.

All their names are significant and variable; for when

* See pages 142, 143 and 154. ^ See note ' on page 305.
2 See pages 154 and 227. ■* See note ' on page 188.


CHAP, they come to the state of men and women, they alter ^


— -^ them according to their deeds or dispositions.

162 3. When a maid is taken in marriage, she first cutteth
her hair, and after weareth a covering on her head, till
her hair be grown out. Their women are diversely
disposed; some as modest, as they will scarce talk one
with another in the company of men, being very chaste
also ; yet other some light, lascivious and wanton. If
a woman have a bad husband, or cannot affect him,
and there be war or opposition between that and any
other people, she will run away from him to the con-
trary party, and there live ; where they never come
unwelcome, for where are most women, there is great-
est plenty.

When a woman hath her monthly terms, she sepa-
rateth herself from all other company, and liveth cer-
tain days in a house alone ; after which, she washeth
herself, and all that she hath touched or used, and is
again received to her husband's bed or family. For
adultery, the husband will beat his wife and put her
away, if he please. Some common strumpets there
are, as well as in other places ; but they are such as
either never married, or widows, or put away for adul-
tery ; for no man will keep such an one to wife.

In matters of unjust and dishonest dealing, the sa-
chim examineth and punisheth the same. In case of
thefts, for the first offence, he is disgracefully rebuked ;
for the second, beaten by the sachim with a cudgel on
the naked back ; for the third, he is beaten with many
strokes, and hath his nose slit upwards, that thereby
all men may both know and shun him. If any man
kill another, he must likewise die for the same. The

' See note ^ on page 191. *


sachim not only passeth the sentence upon malefactors,' chap.
but executeth the same with his own hands, if the -X^
party be then present; if not, sendeth his own knife, in 1623.
case of death, in the hands of others to perform the
same.^ But if the offender be to receive other punish-
ment, he will not receive the same but from the sachim
himself; before whom, being naked, he kneeleth, and
will not offer to run away, though he beat him never
so much, it being a greater disparagement for a man
to cry during the time of his correction, than is his
offence and punishment.

As for their apparel, they wear breeches and stock-
ings in one, like some Irish,^ which is made of deer
skins, and have shoes of the same leather. They wear
also a deer's skin loose about them, like a cloak, which
they will turn to the weather side. In this habit they
travel ; but when they are at home, or come to their
journey's end, presently they pull off their breeches,
stockings and shoes, W'ring out the water, if they be
wet, and dry them, and rub or chafe the same. Though
these be off, yet have they another small garment that
covereth their secrets. The men w^ear also, when
they go abroad in cold weather, an otter or fox skin
on their right arm,* but only their bracer on the left.
Women, and all of that sex, wear strings about their
legs, which the men never do.

The people are very ingenious and observative ; they

• See page 308. chiefest warriors, to fetch off ahead

* " The most usual custom by some sudden, unexpected blow of
amongst them in executing pun- a hatchet, when they have feared
ishments, is for the sachim either mutiny by public execution."
to beat or whip or put to death Koger Williams's Key, ch. xxii.
^ith his own hand, to which the See also pnge 291 previous,
common sort most quietly submit ; , ^ See note ^ on page 187.
though sometimes the sachim sends "^ See page 187.

a secret executioner, one of his


CHAP, keep account of time by the moon, and winters or


^^~ summers ; tliej know divers of the stars by name ; in

1G23. particular they know the north star, and call it maske,^
which is to say, the bear;^ also they have many names
for the winds. They will guess very well at the wind
and weather beforehand, by observations in the hea-
vens. They report also, that some of them can cause
the wind to blow in what part they list — can raise
storms and tempests,^ which they usually do when
they intend the death or destruction of other people,
that by reason of the unseasonable weather, they may
take advantage of their enemies in their houses. At
such times they perform their greatest exploits, and in
such seasons, when they are at enmity with any, they
keep more careful watch than at other times.

As for the language, it is very copious, large, and
difficult. As yet we cannot attain to any great mea-
sure thereof; but can understand them, and explain
ourselves to their understanding, by the help of those
that daily converse with us. And though there be
difference in a hundred miles' distance of place, both
in language and manners, yet not so much but that

• " Mosk, or pauJiunawaw, the water burn, the rocks move, the
Great Bear, or Charles's Wain ; trees dance, and naetaniorphize
which words mosk or paukunawaw himself into a flaming man. In
signifies a bear ; which is so much winter, when there are no green
the more observable, because in leaves to be got, he will burn an
most languages that sign or con- old one to ashes, and putting these
stellation is called the Bear." E.0- into the water, produce a new green
ger Williams's Key, ch. xii. leaf, which you shall not only see,

* "Their powows, by their exor- but substantially handle and carry
cisms, and necromantic charms, away; and make a dead snake's
bring to pass strange things, if we skin a living snake, both to be seen,
may believe the Indians ; who re- felt, and heard." Wood's New
port of one Passaconaway, a great England's Prospect, part ii. ch. 12;
sasamore upon Merrimack river, Hutchinson's Mass. i. 474; Mor-
and the most celebrated powow in ton's New English Canaan, book i.
the country, that he can make the ch. 9.




they very well understand each other.' And thus
much of their lives and manners.

Instead of records and chronicles, thc;y take this 1623.
course. Where any remarkable act is done, in memory
of it, either in the place, or by some pathway near
adjoining, they make a round hole in the ground, about
a foot deep, and as much over ; which when others
passing by behold, they inquire the cause and occasion
of the same, whirh })eing once known, they are careful
to acquaint all men, as occasion serveth, therewith ;
and lest such holes should be filled or grown u|) by any
accident, as men pass by, they will oft renew the same ;
by which means many things of great antiquity are
fresh in memory. So that as a man travelleth, if he
can understand his guide, his journey will be the less
tedious, by reason of the many historical discourses
[which] will be related unto him.

' "There is a mixture of this
language north and south, from the
place of my abode, about GOO miles ;
yet within the 200 miles aforemen-
tioned, their dialects do exceedingly
differ ; yet not so but, within that
compass, a man rnay converse with
thousands of natives all over the
country." Roger Williams's Key,

"The Indians of the parts of
New England, especially upon the
sea-coasts, use the same sort of
speech and language, only with
some difference in the expressions,
as they differ in several counties in
England, yet so as they can well
understand one another." Gookin,
in Mass. Hist. Coll. i. 149.




CHAP. In all this, it may be said, I have neither praised nor


'- dispraised the country; and since I lived so long there-

1623, in, my judgment thereof will give no less satisfaction
to them that know me, than the relation of our pro-
ceedings. To which I answer, that as in one, so of
the other, I will speak as sparingly as I can, yet will
make known what I conceive thereof.

And first for that continent, on which we are, called
New England, although it hath ever been conceived
by the English to be a part of the main land adjoining
to Virginia, yet by relation of the Indians it should ap-
pear to be otherwise ; for they affirm confidently that
it is an island,^ and that either the Dutch or French
pass through from sea to sea between us and Virginia,
and drive a great trade in the same. The name of
that inlet of the sea they call Mohegon, which I take
to be the same which we call Hudson's river, up which
Master Hudson went many leagues, and for want of

' See page 256.


means (as I hear) left it undiscovered.' For confirma- chap.
lion of this their opinion, is thus much ; though Vir- ii^
glnia be not above a hundred and fifty leagues from 1623.
us, jet they never heard of Powhatan, or knew that
any English were planted in his country, save only by
us and Tisquantum, who went in an English ship
thither ; and therefore it is the more probable, because
the water is not passable for them, who are very
adventurous in their boats.

Then for the temperature of the air, in almost three
years' experience I can scarce distinguish New Eng-
land from Old England, in respect of heat and cold,
frost, snow, rain, winds, &c. Some object, because
our Plantation lieth in the latitude of 42^, it must
needs be much hotter. 1 confess I cannot give the
reason of the contrary ; only experience teacheth us,
that if it do exceed England, it is so little as must
require better judgments to discern it. And for the
winter, I rather think (if there be difference) it is both
sharper and longer in New England than Old ; and
yet the want of those comforts in the one, which I
have enjoyed in the other, may deceive my judgment
also. But in my best observation, comparing our own
condition with the Relations of other parts of America,
I cannot conceive of any to agree better with the
constitution of the English, not being oppressed with
extremity of heat, nor nipped by biting cold ; by which

' In September, 1609, Hudson ert Juel's Journal of Hudson's third

L'lf"iK I, ^'■'''^ river," now voya£:e, in Purchas, iii. 593, and in

called by his name, in a small ves- N. Y. Hist Coll i 139 un-

sel called the Half-Moon, above Moulton's Hist, of New York 213'

the'city of Hudson, and sent up a 244-249; Mass. Hist. Coll. xxuil

boat beyond Albany. Josselyn says, 372; Belknap's Am. Bio-, i. 400-

that Hudson discovered Mohegan Douglass's Summary, ii. 256.
river, in New England. See Rob-



CHAP, means, blessed be God, we enjoy our health, notvvith-

XXIV ... .

v. - v-.-^ standing those difficulties we have undergone, in such

162 3. a measure as would have been admired if we had lived

in England with the like means. The day is two

hours longer than here, when it is at the shortest, and

as much shorter there, when it is at the longest.

The soil is variable, in some places mould, in some
clay, others, a mixed sand, &c. The chiefest grain
is the Indian mays, or Guinea wheat. ^ The seed time
beginneth in [the] midst of April,^ and continueth good
till the midst of May. Our harvest beginneth with
September. This corn increaseth in great measure,
but is inferior in quantity to the same in Virginia ; the
reason I conceive is because Virginia is far hotter than
it is with us, it requiring great heat to ripen. But
whereas it is objected against New England, that corn
will not grow there except the ground be manured
with fish,^ 1 answer, that where men set with fish, (as
with us,) it is more easy so to do than to clear ground,
and set without some five or six years, and so begin
anew, as in Virginia and elsewhere. Not but that in
some places, where they cannot be taken with ease in
such abundance, the Indians set four years together
without, and have as good corn or better than we
have that set with them ; though indeed 1 think if
we had cattle to till the ground, it would be more
profitable and better agreeable to the soil to sow wheat,
rye, barley, pease and oats, than to set mays, which
our Indians call ewachim ; for we have had expe-
rience that they like and thrive well ; and the other
will not be procured without good labor and diligence,

' See note ' on page 131. ' See note ' on page 231.

See note ' on page 230.



especially at seed-time, when it must also be watch- chap.


ed by night, to keep the wolves from the fish, till -^^
it be rotten, which will be in fourteen days. Yet men 162 3.
agreeing together, and taking their turns, it is not

Much might be spoken of the benefit that may
come to such as shall here plant, by trade with the
Indians for furs, if men take a right course for ob-
taining the same ; for I dare presume, upon that small
experience I have had, to affirm that the English,
Dutch and French return yearly many thousand pounds
profit by trade only from that island on which we are

Tobacco may be there planted, but not with that
profit as in some other places ; neither were it profita-
ble there to follow it, though the increase were equal,
because fish is a better and richer commodity, and
moiTB necessary, which may be and are there had in as
great abundance as in any other part of the world ;
witness the west-country merchants of England, which
return incredible gains yearly from thence. And if
they can so do, which here buy their salt at a great
charge, and transport more company to make their
voyage than will sail their ships, what may the plant-
ers expect when once they are seated, and make the
most of their salt there, and employ themselv^es at least
eight months in fishing ; whereas the other fish but
four, and have their ship lie dead in the harbour all
the time, whereas such shipping as belong to planta-
tions may take freight of passengers or cattle thither,
and have their lading provided against they come ? I
confess we have come so far short of the means to
raise such returns, as with great difficulty we have pre-


CHAP, served our lives ; insomuch as when I look back upon
^^-~ our condition, and weak means to jDreserve the same,
1623. I rather admire at God's mercy and providence in
our preservation, than that no greater things have been
effected by us. But though our beginning have been
thus raw, small and difficult, as thou hast seen, yet the
same God that hath hitherto led us through the former,
I hope will raise means to accomplish the latter. Not
that we altogether, or principally, propound profit to
be the main end of that we have undertaken, but
the glory of God, and the honor of our country, in
the enlarging of his Majesty's dominions. Yet want-
ing outward means to set things in that forward-
ness we desire, and to further the latter by the former,
I thought meet to offer both to consideration, hoping
that where religion and profit jump together (which is
rare) in so honorable an action, it will encourage every
honest man, either in person or purse, to set forward
the same, or at leastwise to commend the welfare
thereof in his daily prayers to the blessing of the
blessed God.

I will not again speak of the abundance of fowl,
store of venison, and variety of fish, in their seasons,
which might encourage many to go in their persons.
Only I advise all such beforehand to consider, that as
they hear of countries that abound with the good crea-
tures of God, so means must be used for the taking of
every one in his kind, and therefore not only to con-
tent themselves that there is sufficient, but to foresee
how they shall be able to obtain the same. Otherwise,
as he that walketh London streets, though he be in the
midst of plenty, yet if he want means, is not the better,
but hath rather his sorrow increased by the sight of


that he wanteth, and cannot enjoy it, so also there, if chap.
thou want art and other necessaries thereunto belong- -^^
ing, thou majest see that thou wantest and thy heart 1623.
desireth, and yet be never the better for the same.
Therefore if thou see thine own insufficiency of thy-
self, then join to some others, where thou mayest in
some measure enjoy the same ; otherwise, assure thy-
self thou art better where thou art. Some there be
that thinking altogether of their present wants they
enjoy here, and not dreaming of any there, through
indiscretion plunge themselves into a deeper sea of
misery. As for example, it may be here, rent and
firing are so chargeable, as without great difficulty
a man cannot accomplish the same ; never consider-
ing, that as he shall have no rent to pay, so he must
build his house before he have it, and peradventure

Online LibraryAlexander YoungChronicles of the Pilgrim fathers of the colony of Plymouth, from 1602-1625 → online text (page 32 of 44)