ePub 版


Feb. 16.


Mar. 16.

CHAP. best soldier, with an exploring party, was able to

~~ discover wigwams, but no tenants. Yet a body of 1621. Indians from abroad was soon discovered, hovering

near the settlement; though disappearing, when pursued. The colony, therefore, assumed a military organization ; and Standish, a man of the greatest courage, the devoted friend of the church, which he never joined, was appointed to the chief command. But dangers were not at hand.

One day, Samoset, an Indian, who had learned a little English of the fishermen at Penobscot, boldly entered the town, and, passing to the rendezvous, exclaimed in English, “ Welcome Englishmen.” He belonged to the Wampanoags, a tribe which was destined to become memorable in the history of NewEngland. In the name of his nation, he bade the strangers possess the soil, which there was no one of the original occupants alive to claim.

After some little negotiation, in which an Indian, who had been carried away by Hunt, had learned English in England, and had, in an earlier expedition, returned to his native land, acted as an interpreter, Massassoit himself, the sachem of the tribe, possessing the country north of Narragansett Bay, and between

the rivers of Providence and Taunton, came to visit Mar. the Pilgrims, who, with their wives and children,

now amounted to no more than fifty. The chieftain of a race, as yet so new to the Pilgrims, was received with all the ceremonies, which the condition of the colony permitted. A treaty of friendship was soon completed in few and unequivocal terms. The par





ties promised to abstain from mutual injuries, and to CHAP. deliver up offenders; the colonists were to receive assistance, if attacked; to render it, if Massassoit 1621. should be attacked unjustly. The treaty included the confederates of the sachem; it is the oldest act of diplomacy recorded in New-England; it was concluded in a day, and, being founded on reciprocal interests, was sacredly kept for more than half a century. Massassoit desired the alliance, for the powerful Narragansetts were his enemies; his tribe, moreover, having become habituated to some English luxuries, were willing to establish a traffic; while the emigrants obtained peace, security, and the opportunity of a lucrative commerce.

An embassy from the little colony to their new July. ally, performed, not with the pomp of modern missions, but through the forests and on foot, and received, not to the luxuries of courts, but to a share in the abstinence of savage life, confirmed the treaty of amity, and prepared the way for a trade in furs. The marks of devastation from a former plague were visible, wherever the envoys went, and they witnessed the extreme poverty and feebleness of the natives.

The influence of the English over the aborigines Aug. was rapidly extended. A sachem, who menaced their safety, was himself compelled to sue for mercy; and nine chieftains subscribed an instrument of sub- Sept. mission to King James. The bay of Massachusetts and harbor of Boston were fearlessly explored. Canonicus, the wavering sachem of the Narragansetts,



1623. Mar.

CHAP. whose territory had escaped the ravages

of the

pestilence, had at first desired to treat of peace. A 1622. bundle of arrows, wrapped in the skin of a rattle

snake, was now the token of his hostility. But
when Bradford stuffed the skin with powder and
shot and returned it, his courage quailed, and he
desired to be in amity with a race of men, whose
weapons of war were so terrible. The hostile ex-
pedition, which caused the first Indian blood to be
shed, grew out of a quarrel, in which the inhabitants

of Plymouth were involved by another colony.

For who will define the limits to the graspings of avarice? The opportunity of gain by the fur-trade had been envied the planters of New-Plymouth; and Weston, who had been active among the London adventurers in establishing the Plymouth colony, now desired to engross the profits, which he already

deemed secure. A patent for land near Weymouth, 1622. the first plantation in Boston Harbor, was easily ob

tained; and a company of sixty men were sent over. Helpless at their arrival, they intruded themselves, for most of the summer, upon the unrequited hospitality of the people of Plymouth. In their plantation, they were soon reduced to necessity by their

want of thrift ; their injustice towards the Indians 1623. provoked hostility; and a plot was formed for the

entire destruction of the English. But the grateful Massassoit revealed the design to his allies; and the planters at Weymouth were saved by the wisdom of the older colony and the intrepid gallantry of Standish. It was “ his capital exploit.” Some of the




Certainly the 1623.

rescued, men went to Plymouth; some sailed for chap. England. One short year saw the beginning and end of the Weymouth plantation. “ best works and of greatest merit for the public,” observes Lord Bacon, “ have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men.” The great English philosopher was himself a childless man; and allpowerful self-love confirmed his remark. Weston's men, after having boasted of their strength, as far superior to Plymouth, which was weakened, they said, by the presence of children and women, owed their deliverance to the colony, which had many women, children, and weak ones with them.

The danger from Indian hostilities was early removed; the partnership with English merchants occasioned greater inconvenience. Robinson and the rest of his church, at Leyden, were suffering from deferred hopes, and were longing to rejoin their brethren in America. The adventurers in England refused to provide them a passage, and attempted, with but short success, to force upon the colonists a clergyman, more friendly to the established church; 1624, thus outraging at once the affections and the religious 1626. scruples of those, whom they had pledged themselves to cherish. Divisions ensued; and the partners in England, offended by opposition, and discouraged at the small returns from their investments, deserted the interests of their associates in America. A ship was even despatched to rival them in their business; goods, which were sent for their supply, were sold to them at an advance of seventy per cent. The



CHAP. curse of usury, which always falls so heavily upon

new settlements, did not spare them; for, being left without help from the partners, they were obliged to borrow money at fifty per cent., and at thirty per cent. interest. At last, the emigrants themselves succeeded in purchasing the entire rights of the English adventurers; the common property was equitably divided ; and agriculture established immediately and completely on the basis of private possessions. For a six years' monopoly of the trade, eight of the most enterprizing men assumed all the engagements of the colony; so that the cultivators of the soil became really freeholders; neither debts nor rent-day troubled them.

The colonists of Plymouth had exercised self- , government, without the sanction of a royal patent. Yet their claim to their lands was valid, according to the principles of English law, as well as natural jus

tice. They had received a welcome from the abo1621. rigines; and the council of Plymouth, through the

mediation of Sir Ferdinand Gorges, immediately issued a patent to John Pierce for their benefit. But

the trustee, growing desirous of becoming lord pro1623. prietary and holding them as tenants, obtained a new

charter, which would have caused much difficulty, had not his misfortunes compelled him to transfer his rights to the company.

When commerce extended to the Kennebec, a patent for the adjacent 1628. territory was easily procured. The same year, Al

lerton was again sent to London to negotiate an

i Gorges' Description, p. 24; Briefe Narration, c. xxii.

« 上一頁繼續 »