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* Young's Chronicles, p 320.


As Mr. Winslow was leaving, Massasoit called
Hobbomak privately to him, one or two of his war-
riors only being present, and informed him in full of
the plot of the Massachusetts Indians to destroy the
Weston colony, and then to attack that at Plymouth.
He mentioned seven tribes who were united with
them in the coalition, among others mentioning some
who were making loud professions of friendship. He
said that he had been earnestly solicited to join them,
but that he would not do so, neither would he allow
any of the tribes under his sway to make any hostile

Massasoit advised the pilgrims, through Hobbo-
mak, that if they would save the lives of their country-
men, they should immediately put to death the lead-
ing men of the Massachusetts tribes who were organ-
izing this formidable conspiracy. " Say to them,"
said he, "that they often say that they will never
strike the first blow. But if they wait until their
countrymen at Weymouth are killed, who are entirely
unable to defend themselves, it will then be too late
for them to protect their own lives. I therefore ad-
vise them, without any delay, to put the leaders of
this plot to death. Communicate what I say to you
to Mr. Winslow, on your way home, that he may re-
late the same to Governor Bradford."

Very affectionately the two parties took leave of


each other. The envoys were disappointed in not
meeting the Dutch ; but the day before their arrival,
a high tide enabled them to move the ship from the
shoals, upon which it had been stranded, and they
had proceeded on their voyage. The Pilgrims called
upon Corbitant on their return, and passed the night
with him. He received them with great apparent
cordiality. Mr. Winslow gives the following pleasing
account of the visit.

" I had much confidence with him ; he being a
notable politician, yet full of merry jests and quibs,
and never better pleased than when the like are re-
turned upon him. Among other things he asked me, if
in case he were thus dangerously sick, as Massasoit had
been, and should send word thereof to Plymouth for
medicine, whether the Governor would send it ; and
if he would, whether I would come therewith to him.
To both which I answered, yea ; whereat he gave me
joyful thanks.

"After that, he demanded further hyw we durst,
being but two, come so far into the country. I
answered, where was true love there was no fear;
and my heart was so upright towards them that,
for my own part, I was fearless to come amongst

" ' But,' said he, ' if your love be such, and it bring
forth such fruits, how cometh it to pass that when


we come to Plymouth, you stand upon your guard,
with the mouths of your pieces presented towards

" Whereupon I answered it was the most honora-
ble 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 also observed it at sea, which Hobbomak
knew and had seen observed. But, shaking his head,
he answered that he liked not such salutations."

Noticing that Mr. Winslow asked a blessing upon
his food, and returned thanks after partaking of it, he
asked him the meaning of the custom. He listened
very attentively to Mr. Winslow's account of the ten
commandments and of the Christian religion, and ex-
pressed his cordial approval of nearly all. The next
day the Pilgrims continued their journey, and lodged
that night at Middleborough. The next day, when
they had reached about half way home, they met two
Indians, who informed them that Captain Standish
had that morning set sail for Massachusetts, but that
contrary winds had driven him back. Upon their
arrival, they found Captain Standish waiting for a fair
wind to resume his voyage.

It was the latter part of February. The news
from the Weston colony was continually becoming
more disastrous. These wretched adventurers were


sinking into degradation almost beneath that of the
savages. John Sanders had taken the Swan, and,
with a small crew, had sailed for the coast of Maine,
hoping to obtain some food from the fishermen there.
The religionless rabble, left behind, sold their clothes
and bed coverings for food. They became servants
to the insolent Indians, cutting wood and bringing
water to them for a cup full of corn. They stole,
night and day, from the Indians. Several died from
cold and hunger. One man was digging clams. He
got stuck in the mud, and was so weak that he could
not extricate himself, and miserably perished. They
scattered, wandering about in search of ground nuts
and shell-fish, and became utterly despicable, even in
the eyes of the savages.

"They became contemned and scorned by the
Indians," writes Governor Bradford, " and they began
greatly to insult over them in the most insolent man-
ner; insomuch, many times, as they lay thus scat-
tered abroad, and had set on a pot with ground nuts
or shell-fish, when it was ready, the Indians would
come and eat it up. And when night came, whereas
some of them had a sorry blanket or such like to lap
themselves in, the Indians would take it, and let the
others lie all night in the cold ; so as their condi-
tion was very lamentable. Yea, in the end they
were fain to hang one of their men, whom they


could not reclaim from stealing, to give the Indians
content." *

A waggish report was circulated, with which Hudi-
bras makes himself merry, that, the thief being a man
of some importance, who could not well be spared, a
poor decrepit old man, who was utterly unserviceable,
was hung in his stead. There was no truth in this
report. And it was still more atrocious, as a calumny,
when attributed to the Pilgrims. It cannot be denied,
however, that the deed would have been in character
with the conduct of the Weymouth miscreants. They
were not Puritans. There is no evidence that they
had any church, any divine worship, or any religion.

The state of the Weston colony caused much
anxiety at Plymouth. The savages were learning to
despise the English. It was necessary to take some
very decisive action, and yet it was difficult to deter-
mine what that action should be. Captain Stand-
ish's voyage was delayed, to wait for further develop-
ments, and many consultations were held. At length,
on the 23d of March, the Governor assembled the
whole company of the Pilgrims in general council,
and, expressing the deepest regret that it seemed to
be necessary to resort to warlike measure against
those whose good only they sought to promote, pro-
posed that Captain Standish should take so many


* Bradford's Plymouth Plantation; p. 130.


well-armed men as he judged to be necessary, and,
assailing the Indians with the same weapons of guile
which they were persistently using, should go to Mas-
sachusetts as if for trade with the Indians. On the
way he was to visit Weymouth and inform the people
there of the plot which was formed against them, and
of the object of his coming, and to invite them to em-
bark on board the Swan, and come to Plymouth for
protection. He was then to visit the Indians, care-
fully scrutinize their conduct, and adopt such measures
to thwart their plans and punish their ringleaders as
in his judgment might seem expedient. He was par-
ticularly requested to bring back with him, as a warn-
ing to all the savages, the head of that bold and bloody
villain Wituwamat, of whom we have before spoken,
who was loud and boastful in his threats, and undis-
guised in his measures to array all the Indians against
the English.

Captain Standish took eight men only, selecting
those in whose courage and discretion he could repose
perfect reliance. The day before he was to sail, a
man by the name of Phineas Pratt came from Wey-
mouth, through the woods, with his pack upon his
back. He brought a deplorable report of the degra-
dation and helplessness of the colonists. They were
dispersed in three companies in search of food, and
were almost destitute of powder and shot. He had


fled from the impending ruin, and begged permission
to remain at Plymouth.

The next day the wind was fair, and Captain
Standish set sail on his difficult and perilous expedi-
tion. They entered the harbor at Weymouth, and
proceeded first to the Swan, which was at anchor
there, " but neither man, or so much as a dog there-
in." The discharge of a musket attracted the atten-
tion of the master of the vessel, who was on shore,
with some of the colonists, searching for ground nuts.
Upon Captain Standish reproaching them with their
carelessness in leaving a vessel so important to their
safety thus exposed, they replied, like men bereft of
reason, that they had no fear of the Indians. The
Captain gathered around him "as many of the colo-
nists as he could, and informed them of the plot already
ripe for their massacre. He then gave them the in-
vitation, on the part of the Governor and all the colo-
nists, to repair to Plymouth, where they would share
their scanty food with them until some better plan for
their welfare could be devised. A more heroic act
of hospitality than this the world has seldom wit-
nessed. He also added that if there were any other
plan which they preferred to adopt, he would do ev-
erything in his power to aid them in it.

These wretched men gladly accepted the generous
offer which rescued them from the tomahawk of the


savage, and decided at once to abandon the colony.
Captain Standish then enjoined upon them the most
entire secrecy in respect to their contemplated move-
ment. The stragglers were all to be immediately
called in, and ordered not to leave the town under
penalty of death. A pint of corn was allotted to
them each day, though this had to be taken from the
store which the Pilgrims had reserved for planting.

The weather was cold, wet and stormy, and thus
Captain Standish was much delayed in his operations.
The Indians, hearing of the arrival .of the shallop
from Plymouth, sent a spy to Weymouth, ostensibly
to sell some furs. Though the Captain treated him
with the customary courtesy, the sagacious savage
returned with the report that " he saw, by his eyes,
that he was angry in his heart." But the Indians had
become so emboldened that they hesitated not to use
any language of insolence and menace. One of the
vilest of them, a fellow of gigantic stature, by the
name of Pecks uot, with Wituwamat and his brother,
came swaggering into the little village. " Tell your
Captain," said he, " that we know that he has come to
kill us. But we do not fear him. Let him begin as
soon as he dares. We are ready for him."

These three men, with another Indian, followed
by quite a mob of the savages, entered one of the
houses, where Captain Standish was with four of the


Pilgrims. The object, evidently, was to provoke a
quarrel, and murder the Englishman. Captain Stand-
ish was a slender man, of small stature. Pecksuot
was almost a giant. The savage approached him,
whetting his knife, and boasting of his power to lay
the " little man " low. The other Indians were equally
insulting and threatening, with both word and ges-
ture. The Captain, perfectly preserving his calm-
ness and self-possession, ordered the door to be shut
and fastened, that no other Indians could come in.
Then, giving the signal to the others of his men, he
sprang, with the wonderful strength and agility for
which he was celebrated, upon the burly savage,
wrenched the knife, which was sharp as a needle at
the point, from his hand, and after a desperate con-
flict, in which he inflicted many wounds, succeeded in
plunging it to the hilt in the bosom of his foe. In
like manner Wituwamat and the other Indian, after
the fiercest struggle, during which not a word was
uttered, were killed. Wituwamat's brother, a boast-
ful, blood-thirsty villain of eighteen, was taken and
hanged, for conspiring for the massacre of the Eng-

The Indians around the house, appalled by so un-
expected an exhibition of courage and power, fled
into the wilderness. Captain Standish marshalled his
whole force to pursue. The Indians rallied in an ad-


vantageous position, and made a brief stand.
three of their number falling before the bullets of the
Englishmen, they again turned, and on swift foot dis-

The Weymouth men, aware of their danger of
suffering from hunger in Plymouth, decided to em-
bark in the Swan for the fishing fleet on the coast,
hoping there to obtain provisions to enable them to
return to England. It was probably an acceptable
decision to the Captain. Retaining simply corn
enough for his homeward trip, he gave all the rest he
had with him to them. A few decided to go to Ply-
mouth, whom the Captain took with him. Hav-
ing seen the Swan set sail, and fairly clear of Massa-
chusetts Bay, the conquering hero spread his sail,
and was soon greeted by his friends for his success
in his chivalric adventure. Thus the godless colony
at Weymouth came to an ignoble end.

Domestic and Foreign Policy.

Letter from Rev. Mr. Robinson. Defense of Captain Standish.
New Policy Introduced. Great Destitution. Day of Fasting and
Prayer. Answer to Prayer. The First Thanksgiving. The Col-
ony at Weymouth. Worthless Character of the Colonists.
Neat Cattle from England. Captain Standish Sent to England.
Captain Wollaston and His Colony. Heroism of Captain
Standish. Morton Vanquished. Difficulty at Cape Ann. In-
creasing Emigration. The Division of Property.


When the Rev. Mr. Robinson, the Pilgrims' former
pastor in Holland, heard of these sanguinary scenes,
he was greatly afflicted. Captain Standish was not
a church member, and Mr. Robinson feared that he
had acted with the impetuosity of the soldier, and not
with the forbearance of the Christian. He wrote to
the Pilgrims :

" It is necessary to bear in mind the disposition
of your captain, whom I love, who is of a warm tem-
per. I had hoped that the Lord had sent him among
you for good, if you used him right. He is a man
humble and meek among you, and towards all in or-
dinary course. But I doubt whether there is not
wanting that tenderness of the life of man, made after
God's image, which is meet. O how happy a thing


had it been that you had converted some before you
had killed any."

To this it was replied that two of the Indians,
Squantum and Hobbomak, it was hoped, had already
become Christians; that Captain Standish was the
military commander of the colony, and in a sense re-
sponsible for its safety ; that the measures he adopted
were purely in self-defense, and that in no other way
could he possibly have saved the colonies from mas-
sacre. Captain Standish took back with him the head
of Wituwamat, which was placed upon the fort as a
warning to all hostile Indians. This measure has
been severely censured. But it is replied that the
savages, whose bloodthirsty desires were fully roused,
could be influenced by deeds only, and not by words ;
that no people should be blamed for not being in ad-
vance of the age in which they lived, and that more
than a century after this, in the year 1747, in refined
and Christian England, the heads of the lords, who
were implicated in the Scots rebellion, were exposed
upon Temple Bar, the most frequented avenue between
London and Westminster. Judge Davis, in his New
England's Memorial, commenting upon Mr. Robin-
son's letter, writes :

" These sentiments are honorable to Mr. Robin-
son. They indicate a generous philanthropy, which
must always gain our affection, and should ever be


cherished. Still the transactions, to which the stric-
tures relate, are defensible. As to Standish, Belknap
places his defense on the rules of duty imposed by his
character as the military servant of the colony. The
government, it is presumed, will be considered as act-
ing under severe necessity, and will require no apology
if the reality of the conspiracy be admitted, of which
there can be but little doubt. It is certain that they
were fully persuaded of its existence ; and with the
terrible example of the Virginia massacre in fresh re-
membrance, they had solemn duties to discharge.
The existence of the whole settlement was at hazard."

As we have menfioned, the unintelligent Indians
often behaved like children. This energetic action
seemed to overwhelm all those tribes with terror, who
were contemplating a coalition with the Massachu-
setts Indians against the English. They acted as if
bereft of reason, forsaking their houses, fleeing to the
swamps, and running to and fro in the most distracted
manner. Many consequently perished of hunger, and
of the diseases which exposure brought on. The
planting season had just come. In their fright they
neglected to plant; and thus, in the autumn, from
want of their customary harvest of corn, many more

Tyanough, who, the reader will recollect, was sachem
of the tribe at Ma^takiest, the country between Barn-


stable and Yarmouth harbors, had been drawn into
the conspiracy. He sent four men, in a boat, to the
Governor, at Plymouth, with a present, hoping to ap-
pease his anger. The boat was cast away. Three
were drowned. The one survivor went back, not
daring to show himself at Plymouth. The Indians
regarded the disaster as evidence of the anger of the
Englishman's God.

The month of April 1623 had arrived. It was
necessary immediately to prepare the ground for
planting. The Pilgrims had but a scanty supply of
corn reserved for seed. Scarcely a kernel could be
spared for food. Until now necessity had compelled
the Pilgrims to act in partnership, having a common
store of corn to be equally distributed, the fields be-
ing cultivated in common. It was now deemed best
that each man should have his own lot, to possess
whatever amount his industry might raise. As the
wants of the Colony rendered it necessary that some
should devote all their time to fishing, and there were
certain other public employments which would en-
gross the time of individuals, a small tax, in coin, was
imposed, to defray these public expenses.

About the middle of April they began to plant,
the weather being very favorable. Each man took
about an acre of land. Without ploughs, or the aid
of cattle, this was all one man could cultivate. Im-


mediately the advantages of individual property, in-
stead of having a community of interest, was mani-
fest. All the boys and youth were ranged under
some family. This created a new scene of active in-
dustry. Much more corn was planted, it is said, than
would have been otherwise. Even the women went
willingly into the field to aid in planting, taking their
little ones with them. The situation of the colonists,
at this time, seems to have been deplorable. Gov-
ernor Bradford writes :

" By the time our corn is planted our victuals are
spent ; not knowing, at night, where to have a bit in
* the morning, and have neither bread nor corn for
three or four months together, yet bear our wants
with cheerfulness. Having but one boat left, we di-
vide the men into several companies, six or seven in
each, who take their turns to go out with a net and
fish, and return not till they get some, though they be
five or six days out, knowing there is nothing at home,
and to return empty would be a great discourage-
ment. When they stay long, or get but little, the
rest go a digging shell fish. And thus we live in the
summer, only sending one or two to range the woods
for deer. They now and then get one, which we di-
vide among the company. In the winter we are helped
with fowl and ground nuts." *

* Bradford in Prince, p. 216. '


The friends in England sent a supply ship, the
Paragon, to the suffering colony. Three months
passed, and no tidings were received of her. But
fragments of wreck were picked up, which indicated
her fate. It afterwards appeared that, having reached
six hundred miles from land, she encountered a terri-
ble gale, by which she was so much disabled as to
be compelled to put back. Again she set sail, and
again put back, with all her upper works carried
by the board. A disastrous drouth, of six weeks
continuance also ensued, which threatened the ut-
ter destruction of their corn crop. Inevitable starva-
tion seemed to stare them in the face. Mr. Winslow
writes :

" The most courageous were now discouraged, be-
cause God, who had hitherto been our only shield
and supporter, now seemed, in his anger, to arm him-
self against us. And who can withstand the fierce-
ness of his wrath ? " *

In this extremity a day of fasting and prayer was
appointed. It was the middle of July. The morn-
ing was cloudless, without a sign of rain. The sky
was as brass, scarce a green herb was to be seen,
and the earth was as ashes. The exercises of devo-
tion continued for eight hours. All felt alike that
there was no help but in God. Elder Brewster,

* Young's Chronicles, p. 349.


an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile,
preached. Mr. Winslow writes :

" The exercises, on this special occasion, as of life
and death, being continued eight hours or more, ere
their close the clouds gathered, the heavens were
overcast, and before the next morning passed, gentle
showers were distilling upon the earth, and so it con-
tinued some fourteen days, with seasonable weather
intervening. It were hard to say whether our with-
ered corn or drooping affections were most quickened
and revived, such was the bounty and goodness of
our God."

Unexpectedly the withered corn thrust out green
leaves and gave promise of a joyful harvest. Even the
Indians were impressed with this evidence of divine
interposition. Hobbomak said feelingly :

" Now I see that the Englishman's God is a good
God, for he hath heard you and sent you rain, and
without storms, tempest or thunder beating down
your corn. Surely your God is a good God."

In the mean time, Captain Standish was sent out,
with the shallop, and a few men, to explore the coast
and purchase all the corn he could of the Indians.
Valiant as he was in fight, he was, in ordinary life, a
mild and gentle man, and eminently just in all his
dealings. Much as the Indians dreaded his avenging
arm, they seemed to be fully conscious that he would


do them no wrong. Early in August he returned
from this trading-voyage, with his shallop well loaded
down with corn, which proved invaluable to the Pil-
grims until their own harvest should come in.

He brought back with him Mr. David Thompson,
a Scotchman, who, with a small party of emigrants,
had commenced a plantation at the mouth of the Pis-
cataqua, where Portsmouth now stands. For these
many tokens of the divine goodness, Governor Brad-
ford appointed another day of thanksgiving. It may
be instructive here to insert Governor Bradford's tes-
timony respecting the effect of a community of goods,
which experiment was so fairly tried, and under such
favorable circumstances, at Plymouth :

" The experience which was had in this common
course and condition," he writes, " tried sundry years,
and that amongst godly and sober men, may well
evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato and other
ancients, and applauded by some of later times, that
the taking away of property, and bringing a com-
munity into a commonwealth would make them happy
and flourishing ; as if they were wiser than God.
For this community, so far as it was such, was found
to breed much confusion and discontent, and to re-
tard much employment which would have been to
their benefit and comfort. For the young men, who
were the most able and fit for labor and service, did


repine that they should spend their time and strength
to work for other men's wives and children, without
any recompense.

" The strong, or man of parts, had no more in the
division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak
and not able to do a quarter the other could. This
was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to
be ranked and equalized in labors, victuals, clothes,
etc., with the meaner and younger sort, thought it
some indignity and disrespect unto them. As for
men's wives to be commended to do service for other

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Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottMiles Standish, the Puritan captain .. → online text (page 13 of 21)