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Trent and Wells, eds. Colonial Prose and Poetry. 1901.

Vol. I. The Transplanting of Culture: 1607–1650

William Bradford

WILLIAM BRADFORD was born at Austerfield in Yorkshire in March of 1588, and died at Plymouth, Massachusetts, on the 9th of May, 1657. Born a yeoman freeholder of Yorkshire, of native seriousness and inclined to religion, he joined the Puritans at eighteen, and at twenty emigrated to Holland, where he was prominent in urging the emigration of his co-religionists to some English colony. With a hundred like-minded men, the future Pilgrim Fathers, he embarked at Southampton for Virginia, in September of 1620, and on the death of Governor Carver, a few months after the landing at Plymouth, was chosen governor of the Colony, a post which he held, with brief intermissions, till his death. In his writings he tells the story of the planting of Plymouth, to which his diplomacy, energy, and firmness contributed essentially. The account of the events of the first year, known through a mistake as “Mourt’s Relation,” to which his fellow-Pilgrim, Edward Winslow, also contributed, was alone published during his lifetime (1622). Much more important is his History of Plymouth Plantation from 1620 to 1647, a manuscript of 270 pages that, for many years before the Revolutionary War, was preserved in the Old South Church, Boston. During that troubled time it disappeared and was lost to scholars until the use of it, made in Samuel Wilberforce’s History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America revealed its presence at Fulham Palace, London, to the American antiquarian Samuel Drake. The clew thus obtained was followed up, the manuscript proved indeed to be Bradford’s own, the Bishop of London gave permission to copy and print, and in 1856 the long-standing gap in our early literature was filled under the auspices of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Forty-two years later the manuscript itself was transferred to America by the courtesy of the Bishop of London and is now in the State House at Boston. A new edition and a zincograph facsimile was issued by the State to commemorate this event. Bradford’s other writings are contained, for the greater part, in Alexander Young’s Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers (1841–1846). Like the man, his chief work is characterized by dignity, sobriety, benignity, and piety. Bradford was a statesman and a scholar, a man of some literary ability and of historical acumen, but above all he was a man of balanced mind, of that type of which Washington and Alfred the Great are the noblest exemplars. He was well qualified to guide the infant Colony in laying its sure foundations, well qualified too to write of the task at which he labored. He was a conscientious historian, using in the main a straightforward, simple style; yet not infrequently the spiritual emotion, never long absent from a true Puritan, overmasters him and informs his pages with pathos and dignity.

Departure of the Pilgrims (1620).
[From the History “Of Plymouth Plantation,” Book I.]

Of their departure from Leyden, and other things there about, with their arrival at Southampton, where they all met together, and took in their provisions.

At length, after much travail and these debates, all things were got ready and provided. A small ship was bought and fitted in Holland which was intended as to serve to help to transport them, so to stay in the country, and attend upon fishing and such other affairs as might be for the good and benefit of the colony when they came there. Another was hired at London, of burden about 9. score; and all other things got in readiness. So being ready to depart, they had a day of solemn humiliation, their pastor taking his text from Ezra 8. 21. And there at the river, by Ahava, I proclaimed a fast that we might humble ourselves before our God, and seek of him a right way for us, and for our children, and for all our substance. Upon which he spent a good part of the day very profitably, and suitable to their present occasion. The rest of the time was spent in pouring out prayers to the Lord with great fervency mixed with abundance of tears. And the time being come that they must depart, they were accompanied with most of their brethren out of the city, unto a town sundry miles off called Delfes Haven, where the ships lay ready to receive them. So they left that goodly and pleasant city, which had been their resting place, near 12 years; but they knew they were pilgrims and looked not much on those things, but lift up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits. When they came to the place they found the ship and all things ready. And such of their friends as could not come with them followed after them, and sundry also came from Amsterdam to see them shipped and to take their leave of them. That night was spent with little sleep by the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse, and other real expressions of true Christian love. The next day the wind being fair they went aboard, and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting; To see what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them, what tears did rush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each heart; that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the quay as spectators, could not refrain from tears. Yet comfortable and sweet it was to see such lively and true expressions of dear and unfained love. But the tide (which stays for no man) calling them away that were thus loath to depart, their reverend pastor falling down on his knees (and they all with him,) with watery cheeks commended them with most fervent prayers to the Lord and his blessing. And then with mutual embraces and many tears, they took their leaves one of another; which proved to be the last leave to many of them.

Thus hoisting sail, with a prosperous wind they came in short time to Southampton, where they found the bigger ship come from London, lying ready with all the rest of their company. After a joyful welcome, and mutual congratulations, with other friendly entertainments, they fell to parley about their business, how to dispatch with the best expedition; as also with their agents, about the alteration of the conditions. Mr. Carver pleaded he was employed here at Hampton and knew not well what the other had done at London. Mr. Cushman answered, he had done nothing but what he was urged to partly by the grounds of equity and more especially by necessity, otherwise all had been dashed and many undone. And in the beginning he acquainted his fellow agents herewith, who consented unto him, and left it to him to execute, and to receive the money at London, and send it down to them at Hampton, where they made the provisions; the which he accordingly did, though it was against his mind, and some of the merchants, that they were there made. And for giving them notice at Leyden of this change, he could not well in regard of the shortness of the time; again, he knew it would trouble them and hinder the business, which was already delayed overlong in regard of the season of the year, which he feared they would find to their cost. But these things gave not content at present. Mr. Weston, likewise, came up from London to see them dispatched and to have the conditions confirmed; but they refused, and answered him, that he knew right well that these were not according to the first agreement, neither could they yield to them without the consent of the rest that were behind and indeed they had special charge when they came away, from the chief of those that were behind, not to do it. At which he was much offended, and told them, they must then look to stand on their own legs. So he returned in displeasure, and this was the first ground of discontent between them. And whereas there wanted well near £100 to clear things at their going away, he would not take order to disburse a penny, but let them shift as they could. So they were forced to sell off some of their provisions to stop this gap which was some 3. or 4. score firkins of butter, which commodity they might best spare, having provided too large a quantity of that kind.

The Compact.
[From the Same, Book II.]

THE REST of this History (if God gives me life, and opportunity) I shall, for brevity’s sake, handle by way of Annals, noting only the heads of principal things, and passages as they fell in order of time, and may seem to be profitable to know, or to make use of. And this may be as the second Book.

The Remainder of Anno: 1620.

I shall a little return back and begin with a combination made by them before they came ashore, being the first foundation of their government in this place; occasioned partly by the discontented mutinous and speeches that some of the strangers amongst them had let fall from them in the ship— That when they came ashore they would use their own liberty; for none had power to command them, the patent they had being for Virginia, and not for New England, which belonged to another Government, with which the Virginia Company had nothing to do. And partly that such an act by them done (this their condition considered) might be as firm as any patent, and in some respects more sure.

The form was as followeth.

In ye name of God, Amen. We whose names are vnderwriten, the loyall subjects of our dread soueraigne Lord, KING JAMES, by ye grace of God, of great Britaine, Franc, & Ireland king, defender of ye faith, &c.

Haueing vndertaken, for ye glorie of God, and advancemente of ye christian faith and honour of our king & countrie, a voyage to plant ye first colonie in ye Northene parts of Virginia. Doe by these presents solemnly & mutualy in ye presence of God, and one of another, couenant, & combine our selues togeather into a Ciuill body politick, for our better ordering, & preseruation & furtherance of ye ends aforesaid; and by Vertue hearof to enacte, constitute, and frame, such just & equall lawes, ordinances, Acts, constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete & conuenient for ye generall good of ye Colonie, vnto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witnes whereof we haue herevnder subscribed our names at Cap-Codd ye. 11. of Nouember, in ye year of ye raigne of our soueraigne Lord, King Iames, of England, France, & Ireland ye eighteenth, and of Scotland ye fiftie fourth. Ano: Dom. 1620.

Early Difficulties of the Pilgrim Fathers (1620).
[From the Same, Book II.]

IN these hard and difficult beginnings they found some discontents and murmurings arise amongst some, and mutinous speeches and carriages in other; but they were soon quelled, and overcome, by the wisdom, patience, and just and equal carriage of things, by the Governor and better part which clave faithfully together in the main. But that which was most sad, and lamentable, was, that in two or three months’ time half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with scurvy and other diseases, which this long voyage and their inaccommodate condition had brought upon them; so as there died sometimes two or three of a day, in the foresaid time; that of one hundred and odd persons scarce fifty remained: and of these in the time of most distress there was but six or seven sound persons; who to their great commendations, be it spoken, spared no pains, night nor day, but with abandance of toil and hazard of their own health, fetched them wood, made them fires, drest them meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes, clothed and unclothed them; in a word did all the homely, and necessary offices for them, which dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear named and all this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least, showing herein their true love unto their friends and brethren; a rare example and worthy to be remembered. Two of these seven were Mr. William Brewster their reverend Elder, and Myles Standish their Captain and military commander (unto whom myself, and many others were much beholden in our low, and sick condition) and yet the Lord so upheld these persons, as in this general calamity they were not at all infected either with sickness, or lameness. And what I have said of these, I may say of many others who died in this general visitation and others yet living; that whilst they had health, yea or any strength continuing they were not wanting to any that had need of them; and I doubt not but their recompense is with the Lord.

But I may not here pass by another remarkable passage not to be forgotten. As this calamity fell among the passengers that were to be left here to plant, and were hasted ashore and made to drink water, that the seamen might have the more beer, and one in his sickness desiring but a small can of beer, it was answered, that if he were their own father he should have none; the disease began to fall amongst them also, so as almost half of their company died before they went away, and many of their officers and lustiest men, as the boatswain, gunner, three quartermasters, the cook, and others. At which the master was something struck and sent to the sick ashore and told the Governor he should send for beer for them that had need of it, though he drunk water homeward bound. But now amongst his company there was far another kind of carriage in this misery than amongst the passengers; for they that before had been boon companions in drinking and jollity in the time of their health and welfare, began now to desert one another in this calamity, saying they would not hazard their lives for them, they should be infected by coming to help them in their cabins, and so, after they came to die by it, would do little or nothing for them, but if they died let them die. But such of the passengers as were yet aboard showed them what mercy they could, which made some of their hearts relent, as the boatswain (and some others), who was a proud young man, and would often curse and scoff at the passengers: but when he grew weak, they had compassion on him and helped him; then he confessed he did not deserve it at their hands, he had abused them in word and deed. O! saith he, you, I now see, show your love like Christians indeed one to another, but we let one another lie and die like dogs. Another lay cursing his wife, saying if it had not been for her he had never come this unlucky voyage, and anon cursing his fellows, saying he had done this and that, for some of them, he had spent so much, and so much, amongst them, and they were now weary of him, and did not help him, having need. Another gave his companion all he had, if he died, to help him in his weakness: he went and got a little spice and made him a mess of meat once or twice, and because he died not so soon as he expected, he went amongst his fellows, and swore the rogue would cozen him, he would see him choked before he made him any more meat: and yet the poor fellow died before morning.

All this while the Indians came skulking about them, and would sometimes show themselves aloof of, but when any approached near them, they would run away; and once they stole away their tools where they had been at work and were gone to dinner. But about the 16 of March a certain Indian came boldly amongst them, and spoke to them in broken English, which they could well understand, but marvelled at it. At length they understood by discourse with him, that he was not of these parts, but belonged to the eastern parts where some English ships came to fish, with whom he was acquainted, and could name sundry of them by their names, amongst whom he had got his language. He became profitable to them in acquainting them with many things concerning the state of the country in the East-parts where he lived, which was afterwards profitable unto them; as also of the people here, of their names, number and strength, of their situation and distance from this place, and who was chief amongst them. His name was Samasett; he told them also of another Indian whose name was Squanto, a native of this place, who had been in England and could speak better English than himself. Being after some time of entertainment, and gifts dismissed, a while after he came again, and five more with him, and they brought again all the tools that were stolen away before, and made way for the coming of their great Sachem, called Massasoyt. Who about four or five days came with the chief of his friends, and other attendance with the aforesaid Squanto. With whom after friendly entertainment, and some gifts given him, they made a peace with him (which hath now continued this twenty-four years).

Christmas Sports (1622).
[From the Same, Book II.]

ON the day called Christmas-day, the Governor called them out to work, (as was used) but the most of this new company excused themselves, and said it went against their consciences to work on that day. So the Governor told them that if they made it matter of conscience, he would spare them, till they were better informed; so he led away the rest and left them; but when they came home at noon, from their work, he found them in the street at play openly; some pitching the bar, and some at stool-ball, and such like sports. So he went to them, and took away their implements, and told them, that was against his conscience, that they should play, and others work; if they made the keeping of it matter of devotion, let them keep their houses, but there should be no gaming, or revelling in the streets. Since which time nothing hath been attempted that way, at least openly….

The Communal System Abandoned (1623).
[From the Same, Book II.]

SO they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done; that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance), and ranged all boys, and youth under some family. This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted, than otherwise would have been; by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny, and oppression.

The experience that was had in this common course, and condition, tried sundry years, and that amongst godly, and sober men; may well evince, the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s, and other ancients, applauded by some of later times. That the taking away of property, and bringing in community into a commonwealth; would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God; for this community, (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion, and discontent, and retard much employment, that would have been to their benefit, and comfort. For the young men that were 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 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 equalised, in labors, and victuals, clothes, &c., with the meaner, and younger sort, thought it some indignity, and disrespect unto them. And for men’s wives to be commanded, to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, &c., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so if it did not cut off those relations, that God hath set amongst men; yet it did at least much diminish, and take off the mutual respects, that should be preserved amongst them. And would have been worse if they had been men of another condition. Let none object this is men’s corruption; and nothing to the course itself; I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in his wisdom saw another course fitter for them.

But to return. After this course settled, and by that their corn was planted, all their victuals were spent, and they were only to rest on God’s providence; at night not many times knowing where to have a bit of any thing the next day. And so, as one well observed, had need to pray that God would give them their daily bread, above all people in the world. Yet they bore these wants with great patience and alacrity of spirit, and that for so long a time as for the most part of two years; which makes me remember what Peter Martyr writes, (in magnifying the Spaniards) in his Fifth Decade, page 208. They (saith he) led a miserable life for five days together, with the parched grain of maize only, and that not to saturity; and then concludes, that such pains, such labors, and such hunger, he thought none living which is not a Spaniard could have endured. But alas! these, when they had maize (that is, Indian corn) they thought it as good as a feast, and wanted not only for five days together, but some times two or three months together, and neither had bread nor any kind of corn. Indeed, in another place, in his Second Decade page 94. he mentions how others of them were worse put to it, where they were fain to eat dogs, toads, and dead men, and so died almost all. From these extremities the Lord in his goodness kept these his people, and in their wants preserved both their lives and their healths; let his name have the praise. Yet let me here make use of his conclusion, which in some sort may be applied to this people: That with their miseries they opened a way to these new lands; and after these storms, with what ease other men came to inhabit in them, in respect of the calamities these men suffered; so as they seem to go to a bride feast where all things are provided for them.

Morton and Merry Mount (1628).
[From the Same, Book II.]

ABOUT some three or four years before this time, there came over one Captain Wollaston, (a man of pretty parts,) and with him three or four more of some eminency, who brought with them a great many servants, with provisions and other implements for to begin a plantation; and pitched themselves in a place within the Massachusetts, which they called, after their captain’s name, Mount Wollaston. Amongst whom was one Mr. Morton, who, it should seem, had some small adventure (of his own or other men’s) amongst them; but had little respect amongst them, and was slighted by the meanest servants. Having continued there some time, and not finding things to answer their expectations, nor profit to arise as they looked for, Captain Wollaston takes a great part of the servants, and transports them to Virginia, where he puts them off at good rates, selling their time to other men; and writes back to one Mr. Rassdall, one of his chief partners, and accounted their merchant, to bring another part of them to Virginia likewise, intending to put them off there as he had done the rest. And he, with the consent of the said Rassdall, appointed one Fitcher to be his Lieutenant, and govern the remains of the plantation, till he or Rassdall returned to take further order thereabout. But this Morton above-said, having more craft than honesty, (who had been a kind of pettifogger, of Furnefell’s Inn,) in the other’s absence, watches an opportunity, (commons being but hard amongst them,) and got some strong drink and other junkets, and made them a feast; and after they were merry, he began to tell them, he would give them good counsel. “You see,” saith he, “that many of your fellows are carried to Virginia; and if you stay till this Rassdall return, you will also be carried away and sold for slaves with the rest. Therefore I would advise you to thrust out this Lieutenant Fitcher; and I, having a part in the plantation, will receive you as my partners and consociates; so may you be free from service, and we will converse, trade, plant, and live together as equals, and support and protect one another,” or to like effect. This counsel was easily received; so they took opportunity, and thrust Lieutenant Fitcher out of doors, and would suffer him to come no more amongst them, but forced him to seek bread to eat, and other relief from his neighbors, till he could get passages for England. After this they fell to great licentiousness, and led a dissolute life, pouring out themselves into all profaneness. And Morton became lord of misrule, and maintained (as it were) a school of Atheism. And after they had got some goods into their hands, and got much by trading with the Indians, they spent it as vainly, in quaffing and drinking both wine and strong waters in great excess, and, as some reported, ten shillings worth in a morning. They also set up a May-pole, drinking and dancing about it many days together, inviting the Indian women, for their consorts, dancing and frisking together, (like so many fairies, or furies rather,) and worse practices. As if they had anew revived and celebrated the feast of the Roman goddess Flora, or the beastly practices of the mad Bacchanalians. Morton likewise (to show his poetry) composed sundry rhymes and verses, some tending to lasciviousness, and others to the detraction and scandal of some persons, which he affixed to this idle or idol May-pole. They changed also the name of their place, and instead of calling it Mount Wollaston, they call it Merry Mount, as if this jollity would have lasted ever. But this continued not long, for after Morton was sent for England, (as follows to be declared,) shortly after came over that worthy gentleman, Mr. John Endicott, who brought over a patent under the broad seal, for the government of the Massachusetts, who visiting those parts caused that May-pole to be cut down, and rebuked them for their profaneness, and admonished them to look there should be better walking; so they now, or others, changed the name of their place again, and called it Mount Dagon.

Now, to maintain this riotous prodigality and profuse excess, Morton, thinking himself lawless, and hearing what gain the French and fishermen made by trading of pieces, powder, and shot to the Indians, he, as the head of this consortship, began the practice of the same in these parts; and first he taught them how to use them, to charge and discharge, and what proportion of powder to give the piece, according to the size or bigness of the same; and what shot to use for fowl, and what for deer. And having thus instructed them, he employed some of them to hunt and fowl for him, so as they became far more active in that employment than any of the English, by reason of their swiftness of foot, and nimbleness of body, being also quick-sighted, and by continual exercise well knowing the haunts of all sorts of game. So as when they saw the execution that a piece would do, and the benefit that might come by the same, they became mad, as it were, after them, and would not stick to give any price they could attain to for them; accounting their bows and arrows but baubles in comparison of them.

And here I may take occasion to bewail the mischief that this wicked man began in these parts, and which since base covetousness prevailing in men that should know better, has now at length got the upper hand, and made this thing common, notwithstanding any laws to the contrary; so as the Indians are full of pieces all over, both fowling pieces, muskets, pistols, etc. They have also their moulds to make shot, of all sorts, as musket bullets, pistol bullets, swan and goose shot, and of smaller sorts; yea, some have seen them have their screw-plates to make screw-pins themselves, when they want them, with sundry other implements, wherewith they are ordinarily better fitted and furnished than the English themselves. Yea, it is well known that they will have powder and shot, when the English want it, nor can not get it; and that in a time of war or danger, as experience hath manifested, that when lead hath been scarce, and men for their own defence would gladly have given a groat a pound, which is dear enough, yet hath it been bought up and sent to other places, and sold to such as trade it with the Indians, at twelve pence the pound; and it is like they give three or four shillings the pound, for they will have it at any rate. And these things have been done in the same times, when some of their neighbors and friends are daily killed by the Indians, or are in danger thereof, and live but at the Indians’ mercy. Yea, some (as they have acquainted them with all other things) have told them how gunpowder is made, and all the materials in it, and that they are to be had in their own land; and I am confident, could they attain to make saltpetre, they would teach them to make powder. Oh, the horribleness of this villany! how many both Dutch and English have been lately slain by those Indians, thus furnished; and no remedy provided, nay, the evil more increased, and the blood of their brethren sold for gain, as is to be feared; and in what danger all these colonies are in is too well known. Oh! that princes and parliaments would take some timely order to prevent this mischief, and at length to suppress it, by some exemplary punishment upon some of these gain-thirsty murderers, (for they deserve no better title,) before their colonies in these parts be overthrown by these barbarous savages, thus armed with their own weapons, by these evil instruments, and traitors to their neighbors and country. But I have forgot myself, and have been too long in this digression; but now to return: This Morton having thus taught them the use of pieces, he sold them all he could spare; and he and his consorts determined to send for many out of England, and had by some of the ships sent for above a score; the which being known, and his neighbors meeting the Indians in the woods armed with guns in this sort, it was a terror unto them, who lived stragglingly, and were of no strength in any place. And other places (though more remote) saw this mischief would quickly spread over all, if not prevented. Besides, they saw they should keep no servants, for Morton would entertain any, how vile soever, and all the scum of the country, or any discontents, would flock to him from all places, if this nest was not broken; and they should stand in more fear of their lives and goods (in short time) from this wicked and debauched crew, than from the savages themselves.

So sundry of the chief of the straggling plantations, meeting together, agreed by mutual consent to solicit those of Plymouth (who were then of more strength than them all) to join with them to prevent the further growth of this mischief, and suppress Morton and his consorts before they grew to further head and strength. Those that joined in this action (and after contributed to the charge of sending him for England) were from Pascataway, Namkeake, Winisimett, Weesagascusett, Natasco, and other places where any English were seated. Those of Plymouth being thus sought too by their messengers and letters, and weighing both their reasons, and the common danger, were willing to afford them their help; though themselves had least cause of fear or hurt. So, to be short, they first resolved jointly to write to him, and in a friendly and neighborly way to admonish him to forbear these courses, and sent a messenger with their letters to bring his answer. But he was so high as he scorned all advice, and asked who had to do with him; he had and would trade pieces with the Indians in despite of all, with many other scurrilous terms full of disdain. They sent to him a second time, and bade him be better advised, and more temperate in his terms, for the country could not bear the injury he did; it was against their common safety, and against the king’s proclamation. He answered in high terms as before, and that the king’s proclamation was no law; demanding what penalty was upon it. It was answered, more than he could bear, his majesty’s displeasure. But insolently he persisted, and said the king was dead and his displeasure with him, and many the like things; and threatened withal that if any came to molest him, let them look to themselves, for he would prepare for them. Upon which they saw there was no way but to take him by force; and having so far proceeded, now to give over would make him far more haughty and insolent. So they mutually resolved to proceed, and obtained of the Governor of Plymouth to send Captain Standish, and some other aid with him, to take Morton by force. The which accordingly was done; but they found him to stand stiffly in his defence, having made fast his doors, armed his consorts, set divers dishes of powder and bullets ready on the table; and if they had not been overarmed with drink, more hurt might have been done. They summoned him to yield, but he kept his house, and they could get nothing but scoffs and scorns from him; but at length, fearing they would do some violence to the house, he and some of his crew came out, but not to yield, but to shoot; but they were so steeled with drink as their pieces were too heavy for them; himself with a carbine (overcharged and almost half filled with powder and shot, as was after found) had thought to have shot Captain Standish; but he stepped to him, and put by his piece, and took him. Neither was there any hurt done to any of either side, save that one was so drunk that he ran his own nose upon the point of a sword that one held before him as he entered the house; but he lost but a little of his hot blood. Morton they brought away to Plymouth, where he was kept, till a ship went from the Isle of Shoals for England, with which he was sent to the Council of New-England; and letters written to give them information of his course and carriage; and also one was sent at their common charge to inform their Honors more particularly, and to prosecute against him. But he fooled of the messenger, after he was gone from hence, and though he went for England, yet nothing was done to him, not so much as rebuked, for aught was heard; but returned the next year. Some of the worst of the company were dispersed, and some of the more modest kept the house till he should be heard from. But I have been too long about so unworthy a person, and bad a cause.

Some Strange and Remarkable Passages (1634).
[From the Same, Book II.]

I AM now to relate some strange and remarkable passages. There was a company of people lived in the country, up above in the river of Conigtecut, a great way from their trading house there, and were enemies to those Indians which lived about them, and of whom they stood in some fear (being a stout people). About a thousand of them had enclosed themselves in a fort, which they had strongly pallisadoed about. Three or four Dutchmen went up in the beginning of winter to live with them, to get their trade, and prevent them for bringing it to the English, or to fall into amity with them, but at spring to bring all down to their place. But their enterprise failed, for it pleased God to visit these Indians with a great sickness, and such a mortality that of a thousand above nine hundred and a half of them died, and many of them did rot above ground for want of burial, and the Dutchmen almost starved before they could get away, for ice and snow. But about February they got with much difficulty to their trading house; whom they kindly relieved, being almost spent with hunger and cold. Being thus refreshed by them divers days, they got to their own place, and the Dutch were very thankful for this kindness.

This spring, also, those Indians that lived about their trading house there fell sick of the smallpox, and died most miserably; for a sorer desease cannot befall them; they fear it more than the plague, for usually they that have this disease have them in abundance, and for want of bedding and linen and other helps, they fall into a lamentable condition, as they lie on their hard mats, the pox breaking and mattering, and runing one into another, their skin cleaving (by reason thereof) to the mats they lie on; when they turn them a whole side will flay off at once, (as it were) and they will be all of a gore blood, most fearful to behold; and then being very sore, what with cold and other distempers, they die like rotten sheep. The condition of this people was so lamentable, and they fell down so generally of this disease, as they were (in the end) not able to help one another; no, not to make a fire, nor to fetch a little water to drink, nor any to bury the dead; but would strive as long as they could, and when they could procure no other means to make fire, they would burn the wooden trays and dishes they ate their meat in, and their very bows and arrows, and some would crawl out on all fours to get a little water, and sometimes die by the way, and not be able to get in again. But those of the English house (though at first they were afraid of the infection) yet seeing their woeful and sad condition, and hearing their pitiful cries and lamentations, they had compassion of them, and daily fetched them wood and water, and made them fires, got them victuals whilst they lived, and buried them when they died. For very few of them escaped, notwithstanding they did what they could for them, to the hazzard of themselves. The chief Sachem himself now died, and almost all his friends and kindred. But by the marvelous goodness and providence of God not one of the English was so much as sick, or in the least measure tainted with this disease though they daily did these offices for them for many weeks together. And this mercy which they showed them was kindly taken, and thankfully acknowledged of all the Indians that knew or heard of the same; and their ministers here did much commend and reward them for the same.

Crime among the Saints (1638).
[From the Same, Book II.]

THIS year Mr. Thomas Prence was chosen Governor. Amongst other enormities that fell out amongst them, this year three men were (after due trial) executed for robbery and murder which they had committed; their names were these, Arthur Peach, Thomas Jackson, and Richard Stinnings; there was a fourth, Daniel Crose who was also guilty, but he escaped away, and could not be found. This Arthur Peach was the chief of them, and the ring leader of all the rest. He was a lusty and a desperate young man, and had been one of the soldiers in the Pequente war, and had done as good service as the most there, and one of the forwardest in any attempt. And being now out of means, and loath to work, and falling to idle courses and company, he intended to go to the Dutch plantation; and had allured these three, being other men’s servants and apprentices, to go with him. But another cause there was also of his secret going away in this manner; he was not only run into debt, but he had got a maid with child, (which was not known till after his death) a man’s servant in the town, and fear of punishment made him get away. The other three complotting with him, ran away from their masters in the night, and could not be heard of, for they went not the ordinary way, but shaped such a course as they thought to avoid the pursuit of any. But falling into the way that lieth between the Bay of Massachusetts and the Naragansett, and being disposed to rest themselves, struck fire, and took tobacco, a little out of the way by the way side. At length there came a Naragansett Indian by, who had been in the Bay a trading, and had both cloth and beads about him. (They had met him the day before and he was now returning.) Peach called him to drink tobacco with them, and he came and sat down with them. Peach told the other[s] he would kill him and take what he had from him. But they were something afraid; but he said, Hang him, rogue, he had killed many of them. So they let him alone to do as he would; and when he saw his time he took a rapier and ran him through the body once or twice, and took from him five fathoms of wampum and three coats of cloth, and went their way, leaving him for dead. But he scrabled away, when they were gone, and made shift to get home, (but died within a few days after) by which means they were discovered; and by subtlety the Indians took them. For they desiring a canoe to set them over a water, (not thinking their fact had been known) by the sachem’s command they were carried to Aquidnett Island and there accused of the murder, and were examined and committed upon it by the English there. The Indians sent for Mr. Williams, and made a grievous complaint; his friends and kindred were ready to rise in arms, and provoke the rest thereunto, some conceiving they should now find the Pequents’ words true: that the English would fall upon them. But Mr. Williams pacified them and told them they should see justice done upon the offenders: and went to the man and took Mr. James, a physician, with him. The man told him who did it, and in what manner it was done; but the physician found his wounds mortal, and that he could not live, (as he after testified upon oath, before the jury in open court) and so he died shortly after, as both Mr. Williams, Mr. James, and some Indians testified in court. The Government in the Bay were acquainted with it, but referred it hither, because it was done in this jurisdiction; but pressed by all means that justice might be done in it, or else the country must rise and see justice done, otherwise it would raise a war. Yet some of the rude and ignorant sort murmured that any English should be put to death for the Indians. So at last they of the Island brought them hither, and being often examined and the evidence produced, they all in the end freely confessed in effect all that the Indian accused them of, and that they had done it in the manner aforesaid; and so upon the forementioned evidence, were cast by the jury, and condemmed, and executed for the same. And some of the Naragansett Indians and of the parties’ friends, were present when it was done, which gave them and all the country good satisfaction. But it was a matter of much sadness to them here, and was the second execution which they had since they came; being both for wilful murder, as hath been before related. Thus much of this matter.


Journall of the beginning and proceedings of the English Plantation settled at Plimoth in New England, by certaine English Aduenturers both Merchants and others.

With their difficult passage, their safe arrival, their ioyfull building of, and comfortable planting themselues in the now well defended Towne of New Plimoth.

seuerall discoueries since made by some of the same English Planters there resident.

I. In a journey to Pvckanokick the habitation of the Indians greatest King Massasoyt: as also their message, the answer and entertainment they had of him.

II. In a voyage made by ten of them to the Kingdome of Nawset to seeke a boy that had lost himselfe in the woods: with such accidents as befell them in that voyage.

III. In their journey to the Kingdome of Namaschet, in defence of their greatest King Massasoyt, against the Narrohiggonsets, and to reuenge the supposed death of their Interpreter Tisquantum.

IIII. Their voyage to the Massachusets, and their entertainment there.

With an answer to all such objections as are in any way
made against the lawfulnesse of English
plantations in those parts.

Printed for Iohn Bellamie, and are to be sold at his shop at thetwo Greyhounds in Cornhill neere the Royall Exchange. 1622.

Mourt’s Relation.

Ebullient Youth on the “Mayflower.”

THE FIFTH day [Dec. 5, 1620] we through God’s mercy escaped a great danger by the foolishness of a boy, one of Francis Billington’s sons, who in his father’s absence had got gunpowder and had shot off a piece or two and made squibs, and there being a fowling piece charged in his father’s cabin shot her off in the cabin, there being a little barrel of powder half-full scattered in and about the cabin, the fire being within four foot of the bed between the decks, and many flints and iron things about the cabin, and many people about the fire, and yet, by God’s mercy, no harm done.

Exploring Cape Cod near Truro and Wellfleet.

WEDNESDAY, the 6th of December, we set out, being very cold and hard weather. We were a long while after we launched from the ship before we could get clear of a sandy point which lay within less than a furlong of the same. In which time two were very sick, and Edward Tilley had like to have sounded [swooned] with cold; the gunner was also sick unto death, (but hope of tru[c]king made him to go) and so remained all that day and the next night; at length we got clear of the sandy point and got up our sails, and within an hour or two we got under the weather shore, and then had smoother water and better sailing, but it was very cold, for the water froze on our clothes, and made them many times like coats of iron….

… We then directed our course along the sea sands, to the place where we first saw the Indians; when we were there, we saw it was also a grampus which they were cutting up; they cut it into long rands or pieces, about an ell long and two handful broad; we found here and there a piece scattered by the way, as it seemed, for haste. This place the most were minded we should call the Grampus Bay because we found so many of them there. We followed the tract of the Indians’ bare feet a good way on the sands. At length we saw where they struck into the woods by the side of a pond. As we went to view the place, one said he thought he saw an Indian house among the trees, so went up to see…. So we lit on a path but saw no house and followed a great way into the woods. At length we found where corn had been set but not that year. Anon we found a great burying place one part whereof was encompassed with a great palisado like a churchyard…. Those graves were more sumptuous than those at Cornhill, yet we digged none of them up, but only viewed them and went our way.

The Landing at Plymouth.

THAT night we returned again ashipboard with resolution the next morning to settle on some of those places. So, in the morning, after we had called on God for direction, we came to this resolution, to go presently ashore again, and to take a better view of two places which we thought most fitting for us; for we could not now take time for further search or consideration, our victuals being much spent, especially our beer, and it being now the 19th [new style 29th] of December. After our landing and viewing of the places so well as we could, we came to a conclusion by most voices to set on the mainland, on the first place, on an high ground where there is a great deal of land cleared and hath been planted with corn three or four years ago, and there is a very sweet brook runs under the hillside and many delicate springs of as good water as can be drunk, and where we may harbor our shallops and boats exceeding well, and in this brook much good fish in their season. On the further side of the river also much cornground cleared. In one field is a great hill [i.e. Burial Hill] on which we point to make a platform and plant our ordnance which will command all round about; from thence we may see into the bay and far into the sea, and we may see thence Cape Cod. Our greatest labor will be fetching of our wood, which is half a quarter of an English mile, but there is enough so far off. What people inhabit here we yet know not, for as yet we have seen none….

Monday, the 25th, being Christmas Day [new style, Jan. 4th] we began to drink water aboard, but at night the master caused us to have some beer, and so on board we had divers times now and then some beer, but on shore none at all….

Thursday the 28th of December [new style, Jan. 7th] … in the afternoon we went to measure out the ground, and first we took notice how many families they were, willing all single men that had no wives to join with some family as they thought fit, that so we might build fewer houses; which was done and we reduced them to nineteen families. To greater families we allotted larger plots; to every person half a pole in breadth and three in length, and so lots were cast where every man should lie; which was done and staked out. We thought this proportion was large enough at the first, for houses and gardens to impale them round, considering the weakness of our people, many of them growing ill with colds, for our former discoveries in frost and storms and the wading at Cape Cod had brought much weakness amongst us….

Aboriginal Amenities.

THURSDAY the 22nd of March [new style April 1st]…. Samoset came again and Squanto, the only native of Patuxat where we now inhabit, who was one of the twenty captives that by Hunt were carried away and had been in England and dwelt in Cornhill with Master John Slanie, a merchant, and could speak a little English, with three others; and they brought with them some few skins to truck and some red herrings newly taken and dried but not salted, and signified unto us that their great Sagamore, Massasoit, was hard by with Quadequina, his brother, and all their men. They could not well express in English what they would, but after an hour the King came to the top of an hill over against us, and had in his train sixty men, that we could well behold them and they us. We were not willing to send our Governor to them and they unwilling to come to us; so Squanto went again unto him, who brought word that we should send one to parley with him, which we did, which was Edward Winslow, to know his mind and to signify the mind and the will of our Governor, which was to have trading and peace with them. We sent to the King a pair of knives and a copper chain with a jewel at it. To Quadequina we sent likewise a knife and a jewel to hang in his ear, and withal a pot of strong water, a good quantity of biscuit and some butter, which were all willingly accepted.