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morials for the most part as factors in the great history
which has outlasted its primitive and special phases.
The elder Edwards is not much celebrated as a mis-



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1 Thanks are due to Justin Winsor, LL. D., Librarian of Harvard University, whose
ready and practical concurrence with our wishes has euabled us to give this interesting


sioiiary to the Indians, or as the biographer of David
Brainerd, an earlier missionary to the Indians. These
missionary labors were memorable episodes indeed, but
vanishing incidents in the larger record of the times.
The monument to the memory of the friendly Indians
at Stockbridge is also a memento of the elder Edwards'
brief experience as their religious teacher.

Yet I suspect that the real teacher of the Stock-
bridge Indians of that day was not the elder but the
younger Edwards. It is the younger President Edwards,
who, in offerino; some " Observations on the Lano:uao;e
of the Muhhekaneew Indians," g-ives an eno-ao'ino:
account of his early association with these people.
He says : —

When I was but six years of au;e [1751], my father removed
with his family to Stockbridge, which at that time was inhabited
by Indians almost soh'ly ; as there were in the town but twelve
families of whites or Anglo-Americans and perhaps one hundred
and fifty families of Indians. The Indians being the nearest
neighbors, I constantly associated with them, tlieir boys were my
daily schoolmates and playfellows. Out of my father's house I
seldom heard any language spoken but the Indian. By tliese
means I acquired the knowledge of that language and a great
facility in speaking it. It became more familiar to me than my
mother tongue. I knew the names of some things in Indian
which I did not know in English; even all my thoughts ran in
Indian; and though the true pronunciation of the language is
extremely difficult to all but themselves, they acknowh dged that
I had acquired it perfectly; which, as they said, never had been
acquired before by any Anglo-American. On account of this
acquisition, as well as on account of my skill in their language in
general, I received from them many compliments applau^ling my
superior wisdom. — [Works, "Vol. 1, page 469],

What is very remarkable, President Edwards retained
Vol. VI. 11


this skill acquired in childhood to mature age, when
his occupations had naturally estranged him from all
practical use of it. Thus he marks a transition from
the study of Indian languages as living speech, which
was of course the missionary method, to the philologi-
cal study of them in the literary monuments which
the missionaries had left — from the study which pro-
duces translations, grammars and dictionaries, to the
study which compares and appreciates such works with
a scientific regard to their quality and relations —
from Eliot and Rasles to Duponceau and Pickering.

We cannot imagine a more venerable work than
Eliot's translation of the entire Bible into the lan-
guage of the Massachusetts Indians. Add to this his
grammar of their language and we have the most
remarkable literary monument of missionary labor
which our history a:ffords. But among memorials of
Indian languages Father Rasles' Abnaki (Ahenaqui)
dictionary is of special importance ; and as a memento
of the life-long study of one who was regarded as the
mortal enemy of the New England settlements in our
Maine territory, carried away from the little Indian
village on the Kennebec as the prize of war, it has a
pathetic interest. It becomes a symbol of the recon-
ciliation of mankind in the communion of a common
speech and a common faith, and is well worthy of the
honor in which it is held in the Harvard library. In
every regard it is a singular treasure.

Finding myself in Cambridge on the twenty-second
of June last, in compliance with the invitation of a
young relative of the Harvard graduating class to the


exercises of class-clay, I determined to save an hour
for Gore Hall and the Rasles Dictionary. Entering
those precincts of treasured wisdom, I am sure that I
breathed nothing, if not " the still air of delightful
studies." The treasure I wanted to see was locked
up ; but my request was entertained with that air of
disciplined and universal good-will which raises an
individual desire to the level of a public obligation,
and is apt to be most reassuring in the greatest insti-
tutions. I was asked to sit down and then I waited in
hope till the venerable relic was brought ; and after
leaving my name, I was invited to take it into the
reading-room, where I could make the best use of the
hour which I could give to the study of it.

Father Rasles' dictionary is an autograph manu-
script, as is well known, and is kept in a box about
ten inches long by eight inches wide, I should think,
which is made after the fashion of a book bound in calf,
with some ornamentation, and with its title on the back.
The dictionary itself is substantially bound in a man-
ner corresponding with the appeaiance of the box
that holds it, and on the back the same lettering —
Rasles' Abnaki Dictionary.

On one of the fly leaves, bound with the original
manuscript, there is this writing in a clear, bold hand :

Dictionary of the Abnaki Language. By Father Sebastian
Rasles. The gift of Middlecott Cooke, of Boston, in 1764.
Printed in the Memoirs of tl^e American Academy of Arts and
Sciences, New Series : Vol. I, 1833, under the superintendence
of John Pickering, ll. d.

Coming to the manuscript itself, one remarks that
the volume drops easily into the box that holds it,


and that the covers extend considerably beyond the
leaves within. The paper is good, of a rather fine tex-
ture, the tint considerably affected of course by age,
while here and there part of a page is deeply col-
ored as if by some substance appHed for a purpose.
The writing is small, generally clear, and occasionally
even elegant; though not of that sustained excellence
which would indicate favorable conditions and abun-
dant leisure. Parts are of a character to signify
weariness, or a falling short of the ultimate aim of in-
vestigation, to be repaired possibly by supplementary
matter on the blank side of the leaf. As a rule the
writing is on one side only. With respect to legi-
bility the difficulty is chiefly in the Abnaki part, not
presumably because the writing there is less clear, but
because the words and phrases are so peculiarly for-
eign to our knowledge.

The dictionary's ruling order is French-Abnaki —
though the reverse order may incidentally have been
found desirable. The dictionary extends from A to Y.
Under Y, however, there are only one or two words,
with a reference to another page. The paging of the
volume is from 1 to 410 ; and then a subject, Partic-
ulce, is treated by itself, and the paging begins anew
and goes on from 1 to 49, where the matter ends.
The word Particulm standing as a general title is
written somewhat large and quite elegantly, as if the
Father's mind had reverted for an instant to the pains-
taking habits and tasteful discipline of student days.
The " particles " in qu,estion of whatever nature are
not treated as single and separate elements of speech,


but generally as occurring in phrases, to whose sig-
nificance they are essential. The phrase Incompara-
hlement plus que, for example, with its Abnaki equiv-
alent, indicates the method. And throughout the
volume it is very likely to be phrases in distinction
from single word elements for which equivalents are
found. Or if the starting point is a single word the
word is exhibited in many relations by means of many
phrases ; so that it would be naturally inferred that
the approximations of the savage dialect to a devel-
oped language must have been found to a great extent
in meanings, such as experience makes common to
mankind, and which are apt to be embodied in collec-
tive expressions. An extensive vocabulary with an
elaborate apparatus of inflections suited to nice analyt-
ical judgments in a wide range of abstract ideas is
what the savage speech could not be expected to

Just as "particles" constitute a class of verbal ele-
ments to be treated by itself, so in the body of the
work a class of things may be given a place and treat-
ment by itself. For example, the parts of the human
body — les parlies du corps humain — including
among many particulars Ute, le dessus de la tete,fronty
ma face, etc., are brought together in a sort of con-
spectus, as having a peculiar importance. On the
same principle verbs, each standing for action admit-
ting of numerous modifications of sense in a great
variety of connections, are presented in phrases that
illustrate their use.

Among the first expressions given in the dictionary.


for instance, is j'abcmdomie followed by objects of per-
sonal possession — cahane, rohhe, etc., or by objects of
pursuit — poisson. oiseau, or again, je Vahandonne,je
le quitte : — jahandonne nion corps a la mort, — mon
fits — le laissant aller en guerre. Such expressions
are likely to have been peculiarl}^ germane to Abnaki
experience. Similarly the phrases^'e le mets a Vabri —
du soleil, du vent, — jefais cache, on a visite ma cache,
je me cache, je le lid cache, imply equivalent locutions
in Abnaki, to which the missionary would naturally
be introduced at an early day, and whose significance
he would render as exactly as possible by means of
his own language. The dictionary was to serve his
Abnaki disciples through its service to himself in mas-
tering their speech. It was part of that arduous labor
of communication, through which the gospel was to be
made known, and brought into common life.

The dictionary has no formal title page, but instead
fhe simple record of its beginning : —

II y a tin an queje suis parrni les Sauvages, Je commence a
^nettre en orclre en form de dictionaire les mots que fapiorens.
(It is now a year that I have been among the savages, I begin
to set in order in dictionary form the words which I learn.)

This was very much effaced, so that I was able to
make it out proximately b}^ the aid of a lens furnished
me by the librarian, and was happy to verify my reading
afterwards by a reference to Pickering's edition. The
■date is of special importance as showing how long this
work may have given occupation and companionship
to its author in moments of seclusion amid the over-
powering solitudes of the new world.


Underneath this record of Father Rasles is an-
other: —

Taken after the fight at Norridgewock among Father Rasles*
papers, and given by the late Col. Heath to Elislia Cook, Esq.

And then, together with some pencil writing, appar-
ently unimportant, the title : —

Dictionary of the Norridgewock Language.
And finally this note : —

8 in this dictionary represents tlie guttural ou — see Lettres
Edifi^ xxiii.

The editing of Father Rasles' dictionary by John
Pickering, ll. d., is a work of most painstaking
study and remarkable faithfulness to the original in
every detail. I have not seen the work in a separate
volume, but found it in the Athenaeum Library, Boston,
among tiie " Memoirs of the American Academy of
Arts and Sciences, New Series, Vol. I., Charles Fol-
som, Printer to the University, 1833." Its title page
reads : —

" A Dictionary of the Abnaki LaiiL^uage in North America by
Father Sebastian Rasles. With an Introductory Memoir and
Notes. By John Pickering, a, a, s.

Of course, the introduction had to mention the
expedition of Col. Westbrook in 1821, which resulted
in the capture, not of Father Rasles, but of his box,
containing with other papers the dictionary, which was
finally deposited in the Harvard College library, and
so came to the attention of Mr. Pickering and other
students of comparative philology.

But what Mr. Pickering did to make Father Rasles'
work not only accessible but appreciable was not so


much in historical or critical annotations as in the
bringing out of the text itself. The toil of decipherment
resulted in various signs to facilitate examination by
bringing to view, as far as possible, the ipsissima verba
of the manuscript. There Avere passages, we are told,
which at first defied the keenest eyesight, and were
afterwards made legible by the application of a tinc-
ture of nut-galls ; and in the case of a doubtful word
not wholly legible a note of interrogation is placed
immediately after it in brackets. And, what is much
more important, the leading word in a succes^on of
phrases, the word which marks the alphabetical ar-
rangement, is placed in brackets at the head of the list.
The "dictionary form" contemplated by Father Rasles
is in this way made obvious to the eye at the first
glance. Otherwise it might often require considerable
attention to trace it. Thus we possess the Rasles
dictionary not only in the original manuscript but in
a printed edition. The Abnaki, like other savage lan-
guages, doubtless furnishes curious locutions and sug-
gestive analogies to the student of comparative phil-
ology, but having no reason to survive its colloquial
use, it can, upon the whole, have but little signifi-
cance in the history of the human mind.

But, as Dr. Holmes, the last star to set of a glorious
constellation, recently said of William Cullen Bryant,
" in singing of death he has won the prize of immortal-
ity," so we may say of Sebastian Rasles, — by em-
balming in his dictionary the speech of a transient
people he has left a work which holds a place of honor
among the books of the immortals.




Read before the Maine Historical Society, May S, 1894.

To a student of the local history of early Maine,
Cape Porpoise presents features of unusual interest.
Its very insignificance is in its favor. For it was in-
significant, as all who are familiar with it know, but
its inhabitants were none the less vigorous, and none
the less worth}^ of our notice than those of its more
prominent sisters. One turns to this little fishing
village, then, with a sort of unique attention, which is
only increased when he learns that it is probably older
than Plymouth. It is needless to repeat the history
of Cape Porpoise at length; that has already been
done.^ It will be sufficient, therefore, to touch briefly
on the main points, enlarging, perhaps, on new evi-
dence and on later investigations.

The credit of discovering Cape Porpoise undoubtedly
belongs to Bartholomew Gosnold. The "Northland,"
the •' out-point of woody ground," and " Savage Rock,"
so quaintly named in those early days of May, 1602,
will be found, on investigation, to correspond almost
exactly to Cape Elizabeth, Cape Porpoise and Cape
Neddock. From this time onward the coast of Maine
was never deserted for any considerable period. We
have lists of almost continual voyagers down to 1620,
and there were probably many who left no traces of

1 Charles Bradbury. History of Kennebunkport. Kennebuuk, 1S37.


their journeys. Pring saw Cape Porpoise in 1603,
and in 1605 Champlain cast anchor under the shelter-
ing lee of its islands.^ He probably entered Folly
Harbor, for he calls it " Port aux Isles," from the three
islands which protect the anchorage. He stayed there
some time, and left a good description of the place.

It must have been visited again before 1610, and
Smith was there in 1614. The name Cape Porpoise
has commonly been supposed to date from this last
visitor, who, it is said, found a great number of por-
poises off the harbor, and thus was led to give the
place its present name. But this is a myth. The
Simancas map, made for King James I. in 1610, and
discovered a few years ago,^ gives a very good outline
of the coast hereabouts, and puts down the locality as
" Cape Porpas." It must, then, even at that early
date, have been a place of some importance — doubt-
less fishermen came here every summer.

This brings us directly to the question of settlement.
This is a complicated matter, and one on which infer-
ential statements alone can be made. Bradbury, the
local historian, thinks 1620 is the date, and Hubbard
speaks as if that might be correct.^ Bourne* says
that Vines made several voyages to England, and
transported colonists just after 1617, some of whom
are admitted to have made a settlement within the
present Cape Porpoise. Even Bancroft admits settle-
ments about Saco and Monhegan between 1616 and
1626.^ Williamson and Sullivan cite apparently

» Me. Hist. Coll., Series i, Vol. 7, 261,

* BroNvn. Genesis of U. S., I, 457.
s Bradbury, p. 18.

♦Popham Memorial Volume, p. 173.

* Chamberlain's Maine : Her Place in History, p. 47.


authentic tables, giving a considerable population for
Maine in 1630.^ Not the least important district in
these tables is that between Piscataqua and Saco.
With Wells and York not yet founded, Cape Porpoise
must have been flourishing in 1630, a fact which, in
the slow growth of the times, points to a much earlier

The New England charter, granted in 1620, tells
that Gorges and his friends had " already settled some
of our people in places agreeable to their desires in
those parts," places which we are led to believe were
Little River, Monhegan and Pemaquid.^

On the other hand, Levett, who was here in 1623,
says no settlement was then made at Cape Porpoise, a
fact, however, which, from tlie fog and the location of
the early village, he would hardly be in a position to
know.^ Folsom and Williamson agree in fixing the
date as 1623, wdiich I think too late, for I believe in
view of the f icts already mentioned, that one is jus-
tified in placing the settlement of Cape Porpoise at
least as early as Plymouth. This is a state of things
well worthy of notice, for it enables one under the
sometimes taunting attitude of Massachusetts writers,
to point to a past at least as ancient, if not as promi-
nent, as that of our sister state, Maine was not so
boisterous as Massachusetts, she did not plunge so reck-
lessly into Quaker and Antinomian persecutions, but
her settlement was none the less real.

This introduces a subject that has given trouble to
many. Not long ago many early records were dis-

' Chamberlain's Maine : Her riace in History, p. 47.
^Yorlt Heeds. Hook I. Introduction, p. 31.
3 Me. Hist. Coll. Series i, Vol. 2, pp. 80. 81.


covered in England, and among the grants made by
the Council for New Eng-land was one of two thou-


sand acres on the south side of Cape Porpoise in 1630^
to John Stratton. A settlement, says Doyle/ called
Cape Porpoise was formed on this grant. This at first
sight seems to point to an entirely different origin
from that usually ascribed to the town ; but I see no
reason for accepting this view. Maverick in 1666,
in his account of New England, tells us Wells was the
place thus settled ; it can't have been Cape Porpoise,
for no record of Stratton is found there and nothing
more is known of his grant. As he also received cer-
tain islands to the eastward, where he is found later,
it seems probable that Stratton found a settlement
already established on his grant, and so relinquished
it for the unsettled part of his possessions.

The village grew slowly and we may suppose a few
ventured their homes from the first site on Stage
Island across to the mainland at Montague's Neck.
Year after year their quiet, monotonous existence
rolled along, prosperity and adversity being mixed
with the traditional caprice of the fisherman's lot. In
1641,'-^ the West India business, destined later to be
the great source of prosperity to the town, began»
The government of Maine was in an unsettled state
from this time until 1653, when Massachusetts estab-
lished her jurisdiction over Wells and Cape Porpoise.
Much ill-feeling has resulted from this, but I think
a fair-minded observer can only admit it was the
best step under the circumstances. In the first place

I Puritan Colonies, I. app.
' Bradbury, page 25.


it substituted a firm rule for anarchy, and it gave the
town many privileges she otherwise would probably
not have obtained. Moreover, Massachusetts acted
consistently, for she always contended that the clause
in her charter, defining her boundary as three miles
north of the Merrimac in every part, meant an east
and west line three miles north of the source of that

In 1653, as I have said. Cape Porpoise submitted to
Massachusett.s, receiving certain privileges in return.
Military affairs were at once put on a sound basis, and
it was ordered that the " Serjeants of Wells should '
go by turn and drill the Cape Porpoise militia.^ In
September, two months after the submission, Massa-
chusetts proclaimed her jurisdiction.^

With this. Cape Porpoise seems to sink out of sight,
doubtless being busy with matters of internal growth,
building mills and allotting lands. It was so small
that an old writer does not seem to consider it worth
mentioning in an inventory of the towns in Maine
about 1665,^ none of which, he tells us, have over
thirty houses, a description which Josselin fills out by
saying that the houses are scatteringly built, and that
the people are lazy, drunken and shiftless, working
only enough to ward off starvation and to procure
drink.* This was the ebb-tide of Cape Porpoise, when
she was considered little more than an adjunct of Saco.

A bright spot occurs in 1660,^ even though caused

1 Baxter Manuscripts, p. 91.

2 Baxter Manuscripts, p. 97.

3 Documents Relating to Maine, 72, et seq.

< Me. Hist. Coll. Series I, Vol. 1, p. 236, et seq.

B Bradbury, p. 32, et seq.


by a dispute. It is not necessary to elaborate the
claims of Cape Porpoise to the Mousam River, or of
Wells to the Kennebunk. The commissioners of the
two towns met and fairly agreed to call the Kenne-
bunk the dividing line. Cape Porpoise was naturally
angry, and the story, which probably started in some
vindictive brain, has at last become history. Tradi-
tion has it that the commissioners were detained by a
storm and managed to contract a heavy hotel bill.
Wells, being wealthy, agreed to pay the bill if her
claims were acknowledged ; a fact which some stern
Puritan of a later day wove into a story as a warn-
ing to his children of the dangers of " wine when it
is red."

Little of importance happened now until the out-
break of the Indian wars. It seems probable that the
Indians vexed the settlers more or less, for in 1671
seven hundred soldiers were distributed throuo:hout
Maine, eighty being stationed in Wells and Cape Por-
poise.^ As will appear later, the fort was probably
built about 1660, though the first recorded trouble
with the savages was in 1688, when two families were
taken prisoners and carried to Teconnet. Troops
were soon stationed at the fort ; but when Gov. Andros
left the province they all deserted, and the inhabitants
had to face the Indian raid of 1690 as best they might.
The settlers, on being attacked, gathered in the fort
on Stage Island, from which they were compelled to
flee to the point behind the fort. Here they were
sorely pressed, and had even cut up their bullets to

»Folsom, Saco, pp. 152,^53.


fill out the charges when help arrived from Ports-
mouth, and took them away — whither, we do not
know. Probably no one lived here until the reset-
tlement, ten years later.

Not many, probably, who could leave the town be-
fore the attack were here in 1690, for we have every
evidence that the inhabitants were apprehensive of
trouble as far back as 1680. A correspondent of Gov-
ernor Cranfield, of New Hampshire, mentions receiving
a letter from Cape Porpoise in 1683, signifying sus-
picion of plots from the Indians.^ And in 1681 a
thanksgiving was proclaimed throughout all the prov-
inces of Maine, in order to avert God's evident

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