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Again, through the intervention of Squantum, con-
fidence was partially restored. The Governor was
so successful in his trade that he purchased of them,
though but a few and scattered people, eight hogs-
heads of corn and beans. Such facts seemed to in-
dicate that all of the Indians did not depend so much
upon the chase for sustenance as has generally been
supposed. While thus engaged Squantum was taken
sick of a fever, and, after a few day's illness, died. He
was heard to pray, and he asked Governor Bradford
to pray that God would take him to the heaven of the
Englishmen. All his valuables he bequeathed to his
English friends, as remembrances of his love. His


death was considered a great loss to the colony
Judge Davis, commenting upon it, writes :

" Governor Bradford's pen was worthily employed
in the tender notice of the death of this child of na-
ture. With some aberrations his conduct was gener-
ally irreproachable ; and his useful services to the in-
fant settlement entitle him to grateful remembrance."

The death of Squantum left the Governor with-
out either pilot or interpreter. He did not venture,
therefore, to go any further south, where he would
encounte- Enumerable shoals, and where he would
find himself among strange Indians. These consid-
erations induced him to turn to the north. He was
acquainted with the waters of Massachusetts Bay,
and the Indians residing on those shores were in
friendly relations with the Pilgrims. Indeed, they
had been induced to plant more corn than usual, that
they might have the means to purchase the valuable
articles which the Pilgrims could offer them in ex-

With a fair wind they soon entered Boston harbor.
Here they found, to their grief, a fearful pestilence
raging among the Indians, and many of them were
dying. Bitter complaints were also brought to the
Governor respecting the Weymouth colonists. The
Massachusetts Indians were so exasperated by the
infamous conduct of these men, that they were plot-


ting for their utter extermination, many intending to
follow up the massacre of the Weymouth colonists
by the destruction of the Plymouth colony also.
They were in no mood for peaceful traffic.

The Governor, therefore, speedily weighed anchor
and spread his sails for Nauset, on the inner shore
of Cape Cod. It will be remembered that the Pil-
grims had formerly found some corn stored there,
which, in their great need they took, but for which
they afterwards fully paid the Indians. Captain
Standish had also visited the region hi search of the
lost boy. Aspinet, the chief of the tribe, residing
there, was very friendly. They landed in a small bay,
between Barnstable and Yarmouth harbors. They
had hardly made their port when a terrible storm
arose. The gale was so furious that, notwithstanding
their shelter, they came very near shipwreck. The
shallop, attached to the Swan, was torn from them
and driven they knew not where. This was a great
calamity. The shoal water rendered it necessary to
cast anchor at some distance from the shore, accord-
ing to their estimate nearly six miles, and they had
now no means of bringing on board such provisions as
they might purchase. They had indeed one small
boat, but it was so small and leaky that they scarcely
ventured to go ashore in it, even in the most pleasant
weather, for wood and water.


The Governor, however, opened a very successful
trade with the Indians. He seems to have had much
confidence in their honesty, for, having purchased a
large quantity of corn, he stored it away, simply cov-
ering it with mats, and hired a neighboring Indian to
watch and protect it from vermin till he could return
and fetch it. In the meantime ^Aspinet had sent his
men to traverse the shore in search of the shallop,
which the storm had wrenched from them. It was
found at the distance of several miles, much broken,
and half buried in the sand at high water mark. It
was entirely unserviceable until it should be repaired
by a ship carpenter, and there was no carpenter on
board the Swan.

The Governor, for some unexplained reason, de-
cided to return to Plymouth by land, a distance of
fifty miles. He took with him a single Indian guide,
and traversing the wilderness on foot through the In-
dian trails, reached Plymouth in safety, weary and
footsore. The Indians on the way treated him with
great respect and hospitality. Three days after his
arrival the Swan entered the harbor, and the portion
of corn she had brought, which, by the division, be-
longed to the Weymouth colony, was immediately
sent in the vessel to them.

Captain Standish having now recovered his health,
took another shallop and a ship carpenter, and sailed


in the Swan, which came back to Plymouth from
Weymouth, across the bay to Nauset, to fetch the
corn which they had stored there, and to repair and
bring home the wrecked shallop. He found all safe.
While the carpenter was repairing the shallop, he was
busy with the other boat, transporting the corn out
to the vessel, which, as we have mentioned, it was
necessary to anchor at quite a distance from the

It was the month of January, cold and stormy.
The exposure and the labor were painful, for often the
sea was very rough. The coast of Eastham, off which
the Swan lay, abounds with creeks. Into one of
these the shallop ran to take in its load. While in
the creek one day, an Indian stole some beads, scis-
sors, and other trifles from the boat. Captain Stand-
ish took one or two of his men with him, -and going
to the sachem, demanded the restitution of the arti-
cles, or he should take the law into his own hands
and obtain redress. With this menace he left the
chief, refusing to receive any hospitality from him.
It so happened that the thief was known, and the sa-
chem could, without difficulty, restore the stolen arti-
cles, were he disposed to do so.

The next morning Aspinet came to Captain
Standish with a very imposing retinue. Both he and
his men saluted the Captain, in the style of Indian


homage, kissing his hand, indeed licking it, and bow>
ing the knee very humbly before him. He then de-
livered up all the articles which had been taken, ex-
pressed his deep regret at the occurrence, and assured
Captain Standish that the thief had been severely
beaten for his crime. In token of his regret and
friendship, the Indian women were ordered to bring
to the Captain quite a supply of freshly-baked corn

The Swan returned to Plymouth with about twen-
ty-eight hogsheads of corn and beans, which were
equally divided between the two colonies, as before.
In the two colonies there were now about one hun-
dred and fifty hungry mouths to be fed. Of course
such a supply would soon disappear. It became im-
mediately necessary to fit out new expeditions in
search of food.


The Sickness of Massasoit and End of the Weymouth

Search for Corn. Trip to Buzzard's Bay. Interesting Incident.
Energy and Sagacity of Captain Standish. Hostile Indications.
Insolence of Witeewamat. The Plot Defeated. Sickness of
Massasoit. The Visit. Gratitude of the Chief. Visit to Corbi-
tant. Condition of the Weymouth Colony. The Widespread
Coalition. Military Expedition of Captain Standish. His Heroic
Adventures. End of the Weymouth Colony.

The Governor soon took one or two men and went
to Middleborough, the Namasket of the Indians, to
purchase corn. It all had to be brought home in
sacks upon the back. The Indian women aided in
transporting it. The Pilgrims were astonished to see
what burdens they would bear. " It is almost incred-
ible," writes Roger Williams, v what burdens the poor
women carry of corn, of fish, of beans, of mats, and a
child besides." An Indian woman, of small stature,
wbuld take a hundred weight of corn upon her shoul-
ders and trudge through the wilderness for miles
without resting. But a small supply of corn could be
obtained at Namasket.

The Governor then took an inland trip of sixty
miles to an Indian settlement called Manomet, at the


head of Buzzard's Bay. The distance across the cape
here to Massachusetts Bay is but six miles. They
could, after that short land carriage, by an easy voy-
age in the boats, transport their corn to Plymouth.
Here the Governor purchased quite a supply, which
he left in the custody of the sachem, Canacum, until
the boats could be sent to fetch it. While here, an
incident occurred which is worthy of record, as illus-
trative of Indian customs :

It was the month of February. The night was
bitterly cold, a fierce storm raging. The Governor
was in the snug wigwam of the sachem, sitting by the
bright fire blazing in the centre of the hut. Two
stranger Indians entered. Without speaking a word
they laid aside their bows and arrows, sat down upon
the mats by the fire, took out their pipes and began
to smoke. Having finished their pipes, one of them
made a short address of greeting to the chief, and
presented him with a basket containing tobacco and
some beads. The chief received the gift graciously.
The Indian then, in quite a long speech, delivered his
message, which was interpreted to the Governor by
Hobbomak. It was as follows :

Two Indians of the tribe to which the messengers
belonged, while gambling, quarrelled, and one killed
the other. The murderer was a man of special note,
and one who could not be well spared. His chief


was unwilling to order his execution. But the sachem
of another powerful tribe had declared that unless he
put the offender to death he would wage war against
him with all his force. The chief therefore desired
the advice of his powerful friend, Canacum, as to the
course it was proper for him to pursue.

There was then, for some time, silence. At length
Canacum asked the opinion of all who were present.
When Hobbomak was questioned, he said : " I am a
stranger ; but it seems to me better that one should
die than many, especially since that one deserves
death, and the many are innocent." Canacum then
directed the messengers to inform their sachem that
in his opinion the murderer should be put to death.

The Governor returned to Plymouth, intending to
send Captain Standish in the shallop, to fetch the
corn which he had purchased. Just after his arrival,
a messenger came from John Sanders, in Weymouth,
stating that the colonists there were actually in a
starving condition; that they could obtain no corn
from the Indians, as the Indians would not lend it to
them, and that they had no means of buying. Under
these circumstances he said that he should be under
the necessity of taking it from them by force. Weak
as the colonists were, by the aid of powder and bul-
lets, they could, without difficulty, rob the compara.
lively defenceless Indians. The Governor remon-


strated in the strongest terms against this plan of rob-
bery. He assured Sanders that such an act would
inevitably combine all the tribes in a coalition against
both colonies, and might lead to the utter extirpation
of the English from this continent. From his own
scanty store of corn he sent to Weymouth a small
supply, entreating them to make shift to live, as they
did at Plymouth, upon ground-nuts, clams, and mus-

In the mean time, Captain Standish took the shal-
lop and sailed to Sandwich harbor, to get the corn
which the Governor had purchased and ordered to be
stored there. It was in the severest of winter weather.
Icy gales swept the ocean, and dashed the surge upon
the snow-drifted beach. They succeeded in entering
the harbor, but the first night they were frozen up
there. The outrageous conduct of the Weymouth
colonists, and the threats which they had openly ut-
tered of their intention to rob the Indians, had spread
far and wide, producing great exasperation ; and the
natives who were adverse to the colonists were taking
advantage of it to form a general coalition against

Captain Standish, upon landing, perceived at once
that there was a change coming over the minds of
the Indians. The friendliness they affected appeared
to him constrained and insincere. He was frozen in,


and large numbers of Indians began to gather around
him, some manifestly unfriendly ; and there, were not
a few indications that a conspiracy was being formed
for his destruction. The weather was so cold that
the Pilgrims could not sleep in the shallop, but were
constrained to accept the shelter and the fires found
in the Indian wigwams.

The captain was not a man to be taken by guile.
Avoiding all display of his suspicions, he gave strict
charge that a part of the company should always
watch by night while the rest slept. Some of the
Indians stole several articles from the boat. Captain
Standish immediately marched his whole force of six
men, and surrounded the wigwam of the sachem,
where many of the most prominent of the Indians
were assembled. He then sent in word to the sachem
that as he would not allow himself, or any of his men,
to be guilty of the slightest injustice towards the In-
dians, neither would he submit to any injustice from
them ; that he held the sachem responsible for the
stolen goods, and that unless they were immediately
restored he should obtain redress by force of arms.

The crafty sachem sent agents who, without diffi-
culty, obtained the goods and secretly conveyed them
to the shallop. He then told Captain Standish that
probably he had overlooked them, and he thought
that if he should look more carefully he would find


that they were all there. The captain, understanding
this, sent to the shallop, and there the stolen goods
were, lying openly upon the boat's cuddy. The sachem
however was much alarmed by this decision and bold-
ness manifested by the captain. In endeavors to win
back his favor he brought to him quite an additional
quantity of corn to sell. The captain loaded down
his shallop with the treasure ; and, a southerly wind
freeing the harbor of ice, he returned in safety to

A portion of this supply was forwarded to Wey-
mouth. It soon, however, was consumed, and, im-
pelled by want, in March, Captain Standish again
took the shallop and returned to Manomet, hoping to
get an additional supply of food. He met with a
chilling reception, and with increasing evidence that
the Indians were plotting against the colonists. He
soon found the explanation of this. Leaving three
men in charge of the shallop, he took three with him,
and went to the wigwam of Canacum, the sachem.
While there, two Massachusett Indians came in. They
were from the immediate vicinity of Weymouth, vio-
lent and hostile men, and had come to Canucum to
engage him and his warriors in a coalition against the

" The chief of them," writes Mr. Winslow, " was
called Wituwamat, a notable insulting villain, one who


had formerly imbued his hands in the blood of Eng-
lish and French, and had often boasted of his own
valor, and derided their weakness, especially because,
as he said, they died crying, making sour faces, more
like children than men."

This boastful fellow, in the presence of Captain
Slandish, presented Canacum with a dagger, which
he had obtained from the Weymouth men. He then
addressed him in a long speech, in a language which
he knew that the Captain could not understand, but
in a tone and with gestures which could not but be
considered insulting. The purport of this address,
as afterwards interpreted, was as follows :

We have decided to exterminate the weak and
starving colony at Weymouth. We are strong enough
to do it any day. But we fear that the colony at
Plymouth will avenge the death of their countrymen.
It is therefore necessary to destroy both colonies.
To do this we must unite our tribes against them.
We now come to solicit your aid. The redoubtable
Captain of the Plymouth colony is now with you, with
six of his men. They can all easily be killed. This
will make our work easy. *

Canacum was evidently impressed by this speech.
He neglected Captain Standish, and treated his In>-
dian guest with marked distinction. A plot was

* Young's Chronicles, p. 310.


formed for the assassination of the whole boat's crew.
The Indians stood in deadly fear of the muskets of
the English, and did not dare approach the shallop
with hostile intent. The Captain did not allow any
armed men to draw near them. The Indians tried to
lure them all on shore, saying that it was too cold for
them to sleep in the shallop. They hoped to fall
upon them, in sudden massacre, while asleep in the
huts. With this purpose in their hearts they feigned
great friendship, made presents to Captain Standish,
and with alacrity aided in carrying corn to the shal-
lop. The Captain evaded all their wiles, and a fair
wind soon bore him back again to his friends.

While he was absent, word came to Plymouth that
Massasoit was very dangerously sick, and that his
death was 'daily expected ; and also that a Dutch ship
had been driven ashore almost opposite his dwelling.
It was a custom with the Indians that when any chief
was sick, all his friends should hasten to visit him.
In observance of this custom, and also to obtain some
%ttercourse with the Dutch, and hoping also to secure
the friendship of the neighboring sachems, it was de-
cided that Mr. Winslow and Mr. Hampden, with
Hobbomak as a guide, should visit the dying chief at
his home in Paomet.

It was a perilous journey in the then unsettled
state of affairs. It was not known who of the Indians


were friendly, and who were hostile. The death of
Massasoit might bring the hostile party into power,
and then there would be hardly a possibility that the
two envoys could escape with their lives. Hobbomak,
who had embraced Christianity, and was apparently a
consistent Christian, seemed to be deeply grieved in
view of the death of his chief. He said to Mr. Winslow,

" I shall never see his like again. He was no
liar ; he was not bloody and cruel, like other Indians.
In anger and passion he was soon reclaimed. He
was* easy to be reconciled to those who had offended
him. Ruled by reason, he scorned the advice of
mean men, and governed his people better with few
strokes than others did with many. When he is gone
the English will not have a true and faithful friend
left among the Indians."

Massasoit had two sons, Wamsutta and Pometa-
com. According to Indian usage, upon the death of
the father, the eldest son inherited the chieftainship.
But it was feared that Corbitant, who had already
manifested hostility, and in whose assumed reconcili-'
ation but little reliance could be placed, would by
violence grasp the power, and bring the whole weight
of the tribe against the colonists.

The deputation traveled the first day as far as the
little Indian hamlet of Namasket, which, it will be
remembered, occupied the present site of Middlebor-


ough. They passed the night in the wigwam of an
Indian. The next day they continued their journey
to Mattapoisit, in the present town of Swanzey. Here
Corbitant resided. The rumor had already reached
them that Massasoit was dead. There were indica-
tions that Corbitant had already taken steps as an
usurper, and there were serious apprehensions that
the two defenceless Englishmen would immediately
fall victims to his hostile policy.

The two envoys, however, to avoid all appearance
of suspicion, went directly to Corbitant's house. The
sachem was not at home, but his wife received them
kindly. They sent forward an Indian runner to Pao-
met, to bring them back tidings respecting the condi-
tion of Massasoit. He returned with the tidings
that the chief was still living when he left, but was
expected every moment to die. They hurried on, and
reached Paomet late at night. In the following terms
Mr. Winslow describes his visit to the dying chief:

" When we came thither we found the house so
full of men as we could scarce get in, though they
used their best diligence to make way for us. There
were they in the midst of their charms for him, mak-
ing such a hellish noise as it distempered us that were
well, and therefore unlike to ease him that was sick.
About him were six or eight women, who chafed his
arms, legs and thighs, to keep heat in him. When


they had made an end of their charming, one told
him that his friends, the English, were come to see
him. Having understanding left, but his sight being
wholly gone, he asked who was come. They told him
Winsnow, for they cannot pronounce the letter /, but
ordinarily n in the place thereof. He desired to speak
with me. When I came to him, and they told him of
it, he put forth his hand to me, which I took. Then
he said twice, though very inwardly, Keen Winsnow,
which is to say, Art thou Winslow? I answered,
Ah he, that is, Yes. Then he doubled these words,
Mat fa neen wonckanet namen, Winsnow! that is to
say, O Winslow, I shall never see thee again." *

Mr. Winslow then informed the dying chief,
through Habbomak, that the Governor was sorry to
hear of his sickness, and would have visited him in
person had not important business prevented ; that
he had consequently sent Mr. Winslow and Mr.
Hampden in his stead, with such medicines as the
English used in case of sickness. Mr. Winslow ad-
ministered these medicines, which proved so wonder-
fully efficacious that soon his patient quite revived,
his sight was restored, and he was able to take some
refreshing broth. All the Indians were surprised
and delighted by the change. Two Indians were
sent to Plymouth for more medicine, and foi two

* Young's Chronicles, p. 318.


chickens for broth. They were dispatched at two
o'clock in the morning, bearing letters informing the
Governor of the success of their mission. Mr. Wins-
low gives the following account of his medical prac-
tice on this important occasion :

" He requested me that, the day following, I would
take my piece and kill him some fowl, and make him
some English pottage, such as he had eaten at Ply-
mouth. After, his stomach coming, I must needs
make him some without fowl, before I went abroad.
This somewhat troubled me, being unacquainted and
unaccustomed in such business, especially having
nothing to make it comfortable, my consort being as
ignorant as myself. But being we must do somewhat,
I caused a woman to bruise some corn and take the
flour from it, and set over the broken corn in a pip-
kin, for they have earthen pots of all sizes.

" When the day broke we went out, it being now
March, to seek herbs, but could not find any but
strawberry leaves, of which I gathered a handful and
put into the same. And because I had nothing to
relish it, I went forth again and pulled up a sassafras
root, and sliced a piece thereof and boiled it till it had
a good relish, and then took it out again. The broth
being boiled, I strained it through my handkerchief,
and gave him at least a pint, which he liked very well.
Aftei this his sight mended more and more ; and he


took some rest, insomuch that we with admiration
blessed God for giving his blessing to such raw and
ignorant means ; making no doubt of his recovery,
himself and all of them acknowledging us the instru-
ments of his preservation." *

The grateful chief requested Mr. Winslow to visit
all the sick in his village, and to administer to them
the same remedies which had been so available in his
case. With true Christian philanthropy Mr. Winslow
undertook this task, finding it needful to perform
many revolting offices, from which he did not shrink.
With the utmost tenderness he watched the fluctua-
tions of the disease of the king, and administered
remedies apparently with much intuitive skill. Hav-
ing succeeded in shooting a duck, just before the
men returned with the pigeons, Massasoit decided to
preserve them alive for breed. His recovery excited
so much astonishment that many persons came a hun-
dred miles to see him. Great efforts had been made
by the hostile Indians to prejudice him against the
English, and to induce him to join their coalition.

" Now I see," he said, " that the English are my
friends, and love me. And whilst I live I will never
forget this kindness they have showed me. They
have been more kind to me than any others have

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Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottMiles Standish, the Puritan captain .. → online text (page 12 of 21)