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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

On the Punctilio of the Savage

By Thomas Morton (1575–1646)

[Born in England; died at Agamenticus, Maine, 1646. From New English Canaan. 1632.]

REPUTATION is such a thing, that it keeps many men in awe, even amongst civilized nations, and is very much stood upon. It is (as one hath very well noted) the awe of great men and of kings, and since I have observed it to be maintained amongst savage people, I can not choose but give an instance thereof in this treatise, to confirm the common received opinion thereof.

The sachem or sagamore of Sagus made choice, when he came to man’s estate, of a lady of noble descent, daughter to Papasiquineo, the sachem or sagamore of the territories near Merrimac River—a man of the best note and estimation in all those parts (and as my countryman Mr. Wood declares in his prospect) a great Nigromancer. This lady the young sachem, with the consent and good liking of her father, marries and takes for his wife. Great entertainment he and his received in those parts at her father’s hands, where they were feasted in the best manner that might be expected, according to the custom of their nation, with revelling, and such other solemnities as is usual amongst them. The solemnity being ended, Papasiquineo causes a selected number of his men to wait upon his daughter home into those parts that did properly belong to her lord and husband, where the attendants had entertainment by the sachem of Sagus and his countrymen; the solemnity being ended, the attendants were gratified.

Not long after, the new married lady had a great desire to see her father, and her native country, from whence she came. Her lord, willing to pleasure her and not deny her request, amongst them thought to be reasonable, commanded a selected number of his own men to conduct his lady to her father; where with great respect they brought her: and having feasted there awhile, returned to their own country again, leaving the lady to continue there at her own pleasure, amongst her friends, and old acquaintance, where she passed away the time for awhile; and in the end desired to return to her lord again. Her father, the old Papasiquineo, having notice of her intent, sent some of his men on ambassage to the young sachem, his son-in-law, to let him understand that his daughter was not willing to absent herself from his company any longer; and therefore (as the messengers had in charge) desired the young lord to send a convoy for her. But he standing upon terms of honor, and the maintaining of his reputation, returned to his father-in-law this answer, that when she departed from him, he caused his men to wait upon her to her father’s territories, as it did become him: but now she had an intent to return, it did become her father to send her back with a convoy of his own people: and that it stood not with his reputation to make himself or his men so servile, to fetch her again. The old sachem Papasiquineo having this message returned, was enraged to think that his young son-in-law did not esteem him at a higher rate than to capitulate with him about the matter, and return him this sharp reply, that his daughter’s blood and birth deserved no more respect than to be so slighted, and therefore, if he would have her company, he were best to send or come for her.

The young sachem not willing to undervalue himself, and being a man of a stout spirit, did not stick to say, that he should either send her, by his own convoy, or keep her; for he was not determined to stoop so low.

So much these two sachems stood upon terms of reputation with each other, the one would not send her, and the other would not send for her, lest it should be any diminishing of honor on his part, that should seem to comply, that the lady (when I came out of the country) remained still with her father; which is a thing worth the noting, that savage people should seek to maintain their reputation so much as they do.