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294 MILES STANDISH.

by the sturdy arms of the rowers, soon reached the
ship. The anchor was raised, the sails unfurled, and
the only link which seemed to connect them with the
home of their fathers was sundered. Long the sad-
dened Pilgrims stood gazing upon the vessel as it re-
ceded from their view, and then returned to their
lowly cabins, their homely fare, and to the toils and
perils of their life of exile.

" So they returned to their homes ; but Alden lingered a little,
Musing alone on the shore and watching the wash of the billows."

As he thus stood, lost in painful thought and al-
most distracted by the perplexities in which he found
himself involved, he perceived Priscilla standing be-
side him. They had a long conversation together,
which the poet manages with admirable skill. The
artless, frank, affectionate Priscilla was unwittingly
every moment exciting deeper emotions of tenderness
and admiration in the heart of her lover. And yet,
in the most painful embarrassment from respect to
his friend Miles Standish, he refrained from offering
her, as he longed to do, his hand and heart.

In the mean time Captain Standish, at the head
of his brave little band, was tramping through the
trails of the forest, through thickets and morasses,
over hills and across streamlets,

" All day long, with hardly a halt, the fire of his anger,

Burning and crackling within, and the sulphurous odor of powder,



THE COURTSHIP OF MILES STANDISH. 295

Seeming more sweet to his nostrils than all the scents of the forest.
Silent and moody he went, and much he revolved his discomfort."

After a march of three days, he is represented as
coming to an Indian encampment. The little cluster
of huts was upon a meadow, with the gloomy forest
on one side, and the ocean surf breaking upon the
other. A few women were scattered around among
the wigwams. A formidable band of warriors, evi-
dently on the war path, plumed and painted, and thor-
oughly armed, were gathered around their council
fires. As soon as they saw the bright armor of the
Pilgrims, as the brave little band emerged from the
forest, two of the chiefs, men of gigantic stature,
came forward to meet them. With much historic ac-
curacy of detail the poet describes the scene which
ensued a scene which has been presented to the
reader in the preceding narrative.
One of these was Pecksuot, the other Wattawamat.
These burly savages, huge as Goliath of Gath, met
Captain Standish, at first with deceitful words, hoping
to disarm his suspicions. Through Hobbomak, the
interpreter, who had accompanied the Captain, they
proposed to barter their furs for blankets and mus-
kets. But they soon saw, in the flashing eyes of
Captain Standish, that he was not to 'be thus be-
guiled. The poet, giving utterance to authentic
history in glowing verse, and making use of al-



296 MILES STANDISH.

most the very expressions uttered by the savages,
writes :

" Suddenly changing their tone, they began to boast and to bluster.
Then Wattawamat advanced with a stride in front of the other,
And with a lofty demeanor, thus vauntingly spake to the Captain :
' Now Wattawamat can see, by the fiery eyes of the Captain,
Angry is he in his heart ; but the heart of the brave Wattawamat
Is not afraid at the sight. He was not born of a woman,
But on the mountain, at night, from an oak tree riven by lightning.'
Forth he sprang at a bound, with all his weapons about him,
Shouting, ' Who is there here to fight with the brave Wattawamat ?'
Then he unsheathed his knife, and, whetting the blade on his left hand,
Held it aloft and displayed a woman's face on the handle,
Saying, with bitter expression and look of sinister meaning,
' I have another at home, with the face of a man on the handle ;
By and by they shall marry ; and there will be plenty of children.' "

Pecksuot also indulged in similar language and
gesture of insult and menace, brandishing his gleam-
ing knife, boasting that it could eat, though it could
not speak, and telling the Captain that he was so
small in stature that he ought to go and live with the
women. Meanwhile many Indians were seen stealth-
ily creeping around, from bush to bush in the forest,
with the evident design of making a simultaneous at-
tack upon the little band of white men. Some of
these Indians were armed with muskets, others with
arrows set on their bow strings. Nearer and nearer
they were approaching, to enclose him in the net of
an ambush from which there could be no escape.
As Captain Standish watched with his eagle eye these
proofs of treachery, and listened to the insults and



THE COURTSHIP OF MILES STANDISH. 297

threats of the herculean chiefs, who, he knew, were
only waiting for the fit moment to leap upon him,

" All the hot blood of his race, of Sir Hugh and of Thurston de

Standish,

Boiled and beat in his heart, and swelled in the veins of his temples.
Headlong he leaped on the boaster, and snatching his knife from ks

scabbard,

Plunged it into his heart ; and, reeling backward, the savage
Fell with his face to the sky, and a fiend-like fierceness upon it.
Straight there arose from the forest the awful sound of the war-whoop,
And, like a flurry of snow, on the whistling wind of December,
Swift and sudden and keen came a flight of feathery arrows."

This was followed by a discharge of musketry from
the Pilgrims. A bullet pierced the brain of Peck-
suot, and he fell dead. The savages, having lost both
of their chiefs, fled like deer. As the head of Wat-
tawamat, the gory trophy of war, was sent to Ply-
mouth, and was exposed on the roof of the fort, Pris-
cilla averted her face with terror and, shuddering,
thanked God she had not married such a man of war
as Captain Standish.

Month after month passed away, while the captain
is represented as scouring the land with his forces,
watching the movements of the hostile Indians, and
thwarting their intrigues. Though Priscilla had re-
fused his hand, the bashful John Alden did not feel
that he could, in honor, take advantage of the absence
of his friend, the Captain, and seek her for his bride.
So assuming simply the attitude of friendship, the two
13*



298 MILES STANDISH.

lovers lived, with some degree of tranquility and in
constant intimacy, side by side.

" Meanwhile, Alden at home had built him a new habitation,
Solid, substantial, of timber, rough-hewn from the firs of the forest.
Wooden-barred was the door, and the roof was covered with rushes,
Latticed the windows were, and the window-panes were of paper,
Oiled to admit the light, while wind and rain were excluded."

The description which the poet gives of the inter-
course between these simple children of the wilder-
ness, whose hearts glowed with purity and love, is
beautiful in its pastoral simplicity. At length the
tidings, very appalling to the Pilgrims, reached the
little settlement, that their redoubtable Captain had
been slain in a battle with the Indians shot down by
a poisoned arrow. It was said that he had been led
into an ambush, and, with his whole band, had per-
ished. John and Priscilla were together when an In-
dian brought this intelligence to Plymouth. Both joy
and grief flashed through the soul of John Alden.
His friend was dead. The bonds which had held
John captive were forever sundered. Scarcely know-
ing what he did, he threw his arms around Priscilla,
pressed her to his bosom, and devoutly exclaimed,
" Those whom the Lord hath united, let no man put
them asunder."

The wedding day soon came. The simple cere-
mony was performed by Elder Brewster. All the Pil-
grims were present.



THE COURTSHIP OF MILES STANDISH. 299

Lo ! when the service was ended, a form appeared on the threshold,
Clad in armor of steel, a sombre and sorrowful figure.
Why does the bridegroom start and stare at the strange apparition ?
Wh; does the bride turn pale and hide her face on his shoulder ?
Is it a phantom of air, a bodiless, spectral illusion ? "

It was Captain Miles. The report of his death
was unfounded. He had arrived unexpectedly in the
village (for there were no mails in those days), just
in time to be present at the close of the wedding.
With characteristic magnanimity he advanced to the
bridegroom, cordially shook his hand and wished him
joy.

" ' Forgive me,' he said,

' I have been angry and hurt too long have I cherished the feeling ;
1 have been cruel and hard, but now, thank God, it is ended.
Mine is the same hot blood that leaped in the veins of Hugh Stand-

ish:

Sensitive, swift to resent, but as swift in atoning for error .
Never so much as now was Miles Standish the friend of John Alden.' "

In a similar strain he addressed the bride. The
Pilgrims were amazed and overjoyed to see their
heroic Captain returned to them. Tumultuously they
gathered around him. Bride and bridegroom were
forgotten in the greeting which was extended to the
Captain.

Some cattle had, by this time, been brought to
the colony, and a snow-white bull had fallen to the lot
of John Alden. The animal was covered with a crim-
son cloth upon which was bound a cushion. Priscilla
mounted this strange palfrey, which her husband led



3<X) MILES STANDISH.

by a cord tied to an iron ring in its nostrils. Her
friends followed, and thus she was led to her home.

" Onward the bridal procession now moved to their new habitation,
Happy husband and wife and friends conversing together.
Pleasantly murmured the brook, as they crossed the ford in the forest,
Pleased with the image, that passed like a dream of love through its

bosom,

Tremulous, floating in air, o'er the depth of the azure abysses ,
Down through the golden leaves the sun was pouring his splendors,
Gleaming on purple grapes that, from branches above them sus-
pended,
Mingled their odorous breath with the balm of the pine and the nr-

tree,

Wild and sweet as the clusters that grew in the valley of Eschol ;
Like a picture it seemed of the primitive pastoral ages,
Fresh with the youth of the world, and recalling Rebecca and Isaac,
Old, and yet ever new, and simple and beautiful always,
Love immortal and young in the endless succession of lovers,
So, through the Plymouth woods, passed onward the bridal proces-
sion."

Such is the poetic version of the legend of the
Courtship of Miles Standish. Nearly every event
which the poet has woven into his harmonious lines,
is accurate even in its most minute details. We have
given but a meagre view of the beauties of this Idyl,
and commend the same, in full, to the perusal of the
reader.



CHAPTER XIV.
The Trading-Posts Menaced.

Menace of the Narragansets. Roger Williams. Difficulty on the
Kennebec. Bradford's Narrative. Captain Standish as Media-
tor. The French on the Penobscot. Endeavors to Regain the
Lost Port. Settlements on the Connecticut River. Mortality
among the Indians. Hostility of the Pequots. Efforts to Avert
War. The Pequot Forts. Death of Elder Brewster. His
Character.

In the spring of the year 1632 an Indian runner
came, in breathless haste, into the village of Ply-
mouth, with the intelligence that the Narragansets,
under Canonicus, were marching against Mount Hope,
and that Massassoit implored the aid of the Pilgrims.
The chief of the Wampanoags had fled, with a party
of his warriors, to Sowams, in the present town of
Warren, R. I., where the Pilgrims had a trading-post.
It used to be said, in the French army, during the
wars of Napoleon I., that the presence of the Em-
peror, on the field of an approaching battle, was
equivalent to a re-enforcement of one hundred thou-
sand men. It seems to have been the impression,
with both colonists and Indians, that Captain Standish,
in himself alone, was a resistless force. He was im-
mediately despatched to Sowams, with three men, to



302 MILES STANDISH.

repel an army of nobody knew how many hundreds of
savage warriors.

Upon his arrival at Sowams, the captain soon
learned that the Wampanoags were indeed in serious
peril. The Narragansets were advancing in much
strength. Captain Standish sent promptly a messen-
ger to Plymouth to forward a re-enforcement to him
immediately, with powder and muskets. As there
was but little ammunition at that time in Plymouth,
application was made to Governor Winthrop, of Mas-
sachusetts, for a supply. There were but few horses
then in either of the colonies, and the messenger
returned on foot through the woods with twenty-seven
pounds of powder upon his back, which Governor
Winthrop had contributed from his own stores. For-
tunately the Pequots, taking advantage of the absence
of the Narraganset warriors, made an inroad upon
their territory, which caused Canonicus to abandon
his march upon Sowams and to make a precipitate
retreat to defend his own realms.

Mr. Roger Williams, whose name is one of the most
illustrious in the early annals of New England, had a
little before this time come over to Massachusetts.
Being displeased with some things there, he left
that colony and came to Plymouth.

* Here," writes Governor Bradford, " he was
friendly entertained, according to their poor ability,



THE TRADING-POSTS MENACED. 303

and exercised his gifts among them, and after some
time was admitted a member of the church. And
his teaching was well approved, for the benefit where-
of I still bless God, and am thankful to him, even for
his sharpest admonitions and reproofs. He this year
began to fall into some strange opinions, and from
opinion to practice ; which caused some controversy
between the church and him, and, in the end, some
discontent on his part, by occasion whereof he left
them somewhat abruptly."

In the year 1634 a serious difficulty occurred upon
the Kennebec River. The Plymouth colony claimed
this river, and fifteen miles on each side of it, by
special patent. They thus were enabled to monopo-
lize the very important trade with the Indians. A
man by the name of Hocking, from the settlement at
Piscataqua, with a boat load of goods, entered the
river, and ascending above the trading coast of the
Plymouth colony, commenced purchasing furs of the
Indians. Mr. John Howland was in command of the
post at that time. He forbade the trade ; but Hock-
ing, with insulting language, bade him defiance.
Howland took a boat and some armed men, and
ascended the river to the spot where the heavily laden
boat of Hocking was riding at anchor, and earnestly
expostulated with him against his illegal procedings.



304 MILES STANDISH.

The result we will give in the words of Governor
Bradford :

" But all in vain. He could get nothing of hi ID
but ill words. So he considered that now was the
season for trade to come down, and that if he should
suffer him to take it from them, all their former
charge would be lost, and they had better throw all
up. So consulting with his men, who were willing
thereto, he resolved to put him from his anchors, and
let him drift down the river with the stream ; but
commanded the men that none should shoot a shot
upon any occasion, except he commanded them.

" He spoke to him again, but all in vain. Then
he sent a couple in a canoe to cut his cable, the which
one of them performs. But Hocking takes up a piece,
which he had laid ready, and, as the bark sheared
by the canoe, he shot him, close under her side, in the
head, so that he fell down dead instantly. * One of
his fellows, who loved him well, could not hold, but
with a musket shot Hocking, who fell down dead, and
never spake word. This was the truth of the thing."

Mr. John Alden, probably the husband of Priscilla,
was one of the men in the bark with the Pilgrims.
They returned to the trading post, much afflicted
by the untoward adventure. Not long after this Mr.
Alden, visiting Boston, was arrested for the deed,
* T'.ie name of the man thus shot was John Talbot



THE TRAPING-POSTS MENACED. 305

upon the complaint of a kinsman of Hocking, and
held to bail. The Massachusetts government had no
right of jurisdiction in the affair. But Governor
Winthrop was quite embarrassed to know what was
best to be done in a case thus far without any prece-
dent. He wrote very courteously to Governor Wins-
low, then Chief Magistrate of Plymouth, informing
him of what had been done, and enquiring if the Ply-
mouth people would take action in a case which
seemed rather to belong to their jurisdiction.

" This we did, writes Governor Winthrop, " that
notice might be taken that we did disavow the said
action, which was much condemned of all men, and
which, it was feared, would give occasion to the king
to send a general governor over. And besides, it had
brought us all, and the gospel, under a common re-
proach, of cutting one another's throats for beaver."

Governor Bradford was also greatly troubled, be-
ing apprehensive respecting the influence it might
exert upon the home government. He speaks of the
occurrence as " one of the saddest things that befel
them since they came." There was embarrassment
all around. It was hardly consistent with the dignity
of Plymouth to surrender the case to the Massachu-
setts court. Mr. Alden, who had been arrested, was
no actor in the business. He simply happened to be



306 MILES STANDISH.

in the boat, having gone to the Kennebec with sup-
plies.

Under these difficult circumstances Captain Stan-
dish was sent to Massachusetts to consult with the
authorities there upon the best course to be pursued ;
to make explanations, and to endeavor to obtain the
release of John Alden. Great wisdom was requisite
in discharging the duties of this mission, combining
conciliation with firmness. The Captain was equal to
the occasion. He represented that the Plymouth
people exceedingly regretted what had happened, but
they felt that they were not the aggressors, but had
acted in self defense. It was admitted that one of
their servants had shot Hocking, but that he had first
shot Talbot, and would have killed others had he not
himself been killed. It was urged that the Massa-
chusetts colony had no jurisdiction in the case, and
that it had done unjustly in imprisoning, and arraign-
ing before its court, one of the Plymouth men. The
spirit of conciliation manifested by both parties was
admirable, as is manifest in the following admission
made to the Massachusetts court, as recorded by
Governor Bradford :

" But yet, being assured of their Christian love,
and persuaded that what was done was out of godly
zeal, that religion might not suffer, or sin be in any
way covered, especially the guilt of blood, of which all



THE TRADING-POSTS MENACED. 307

should be very conscientious, they did endeavor to
appease and satisfy them the best they could; first
by informing them of the truth in all circumstances
about the matter ; and secondly, in being willing to re-
fer the case to any indifferent and equal hearing and
judgment of the thing here, and to answer it else-
where when they should be duly called thereto. And
further, they craved Mr. Winthrop's, and others of
the revered magistrates there, their advice and direc-
tion therein. This did mollify their minds, and bring
things to a good and comfortable issue in the end." *

In accordance with Governor Winthrop's advice,
a general conference of prominent men, both minis-
ters and laymen, was held in Boston. After seeking
divine guidance in prayer, the matter was very thor-
oughly discussed. Then the opinion of each one was
taken, both magistrates and ministers. With entire
unanimity they came to the conclusion that, " Though
they all could have wished that these things had
never been, yet they could not but lay the blame and
guilt on Hocking's own head. And thus," writes
Governor Bradford, " was this matter ended, and love
and concord renewed."

In the struggle between the Dutch and the Eng-
lish, for the possession of the Connecticut River and
its lucrative trade, a party of Dutch ascended the

* Bradford's Plymouth Plantation, p. 321.



308 MILES STANDISH.

river far above their trading house, at the present site
of Hartford. Here there was a powerful tribe of In-
dians. Being, as usual with the Indians, at war with
their neighbors, about one thousand of them had built
a fort, which they had strongly palisadoed. Some
Dutch traders went up to pass the winter with them,
and to purchase their furs. A terrible plague came
upon the Indians, and nine hundred and fifty died in
the course of a few weeks. The living could not
bury the dead. Their bodies were left to decay in
the open air. The Dutch, with difficulty, amidst the
snows of winter, made their escape from this horrible
pestilence, and succeeded, when almost dead with
hunger and cold, in reaching their friends in Hartford.

The account of the ravages of the small pox among
the Indians, around the English settlements, is too
revolting to be transferred to these pages. The suf-
fering was awful. Though the English ministered to
them with the greatest humanity, yet not one of them
was attacked by the disease. The judgment of God
seemed to have fallen upon the Indians, and they
were everywhere perishing.

The Plymouth colony had a very flourishing trad-
ing-house on the Penobscot River. In the year 1635,
a French frigate appeared in the harbor, and took
possession of the post, in the name of the king of
France. The captain, Monsieur d' Aulney, made an



THE TRADING-POSTS MENACED. 309

inventory of their goods, took a bill of sale at his own
price, promised to pay when convenient, put the men
on board their shallop, supplied them amply with pro-
visions, and, with many bows and compliments, sent
them home to Plymouth. Once before this post had
been thus captured. The Plymouth people were
greatly disturbed by the loss. The French com-
mander threatened to come again the next year, with
eight ships, and to seize all the plantations in that
section of the country which was claimed by the
king of France.

Plymouth applied to Massachusetts to co-operate
in the endeavor to recapture the post, and to drive
out the French. The Governor of Plymouth and
Captain Standish were sent to meet the Massachu-
setts commissioners. They urged that both colonies
were equally interested in the dislodgement of the
French, and that the expense should be equally borne.
But the Massachusetts commissioners insisted that
as the post belonged to Plymouth alone, that colony
ought to defray all the expenses of the expedition.
Thus the negotiation terminated.

Plymouth, thus left to its own resources, hired a
vessel, the Great Hope, of about three hundred tons,
well fitted with ordnance. It was agreed with its
commander that he should recapture the post, and
surrender it, with all the trading commodities which



310 MILES STANDISH.

were there, to the agents, who were to accompany
him from Plymouth. As his recompense, he was to
receive seven hundred pounds of beaver skins, to be
delivered as soon as he should have accomplished his
task. If he failed, he was to receive nothing.

Thomas Prince was then Governor of Plymouth.
He sent Captain Miles Standish, in their own bark,
with about twenty men, to aid, should it be needful,
in the recovery of the post, and to take the command
there, should the post be regained. Captain Stan-
dish's bark led the way, and piloted the Great Hope
into the harbor, on the Penobscot. He had in his
vessel the seven hundred pounds of beaver, with
which to pay for the expedition. But Golding proved
a totally incompetent man, displaying folly almost
amounting to insanity. He would take no advice
from Captain Standish. He would not even allow
Captain Standish to summon the post to surrender.
Had this been done, tne French would at once have
yielded, for they were entirely unprepared to resist
the force sent against them. Neither would he bring
his ship near enough to the post to do any execution,
as'without any summons and at a great distance, he
opened a random and harmless fire.

Captain Standish earnestly remonstrated, assuring
Golding that he could lay his ship within pistol shot
of the house. As the stupid creature burned his



THE TRADING-POSl S MENACED. 311

powder and threw away his shot, the French, behind
an earth- work out of all harm's reach, made themselves
merry over the futile bombardment. At length Gold-
ing became convinced of his folly, and placed his vessel
upon the spot which Captain Standish had pointed
out. Then he ascertained, to the excessive chagrin
of Captain Standish and his party, that he had
expended all his ammunition. The wretch then de-
signed to seize upon the bark and the beaver skins.
But Captain Standish, learning of this, spread his


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Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottMiles Standish, the Puritan captain .. → online text (page 17 of 21)