From: Advertisements For the unexperienced Planters of New-England, or any where. Or, The Path-way to experience to erect a Plantation. With the yearely proceedings of this Country in Fishing and Planting, since the yeare 1614 to the yeare 1630 and their present estate. -- By Captaine Iohn Smith
... London, Printed by Iohn Haviland, ... to be sold by Robert Milbovrne, 1631.
Full text available: The Winthrop Society --
John Smith's Description
of New England (Excerpted from reference above.)
Beginning -- 1616
To begin with the origins of the voyages to those coasts, I refer you to my General History; for New England was esteemed by voyagers a most rocky barren desert.
Notwithstanding, at the sole charges of four merchants of London and myself, in 1614, within eight weeks of sailing, I arrived at Monhegan, an isle in America at 43 degrees, 39 minutes of northerly latitude.
Had the fishing for whale proved as we expected, I would have stayed in the country, but we found the plans we had so false, and the seasons for fishing and trade by the unskillfulness of our pilot much mistaken. I was contented, with fifteen or eighteen men at most having taken by hooks and lines more than 60,000 cod in less than a month, whilst my self and eight others of the men as might best be spared, by an hourglass of three months ranging the coast in a small boat, got for trifles eleven hundred beaver skins, besides otters and martins; all amounting to the value of fifteen hundred pounds, and arrived in England with all my men in health after six or seven months.
But northward, the French returned this year to France five and twenty thousand beavers and good furs; whilst we were contending about patents and commissions, with such fearful incredulity that more dazzled our eyes than opened them.
In this voyage I took the description of the coast as well by map as writing, and called it New-England; but malicious minds amongst sailors and others, drowned that name with the echo of Nusconcus, Canaday, and Penaquid, till, at my humble suit, our most gracious King Charles, then Prince of Wales, was pleased to confirm it by that title, and did change the barbarous names of their principal harbors and habitations for such English names, that posterity may say King Charles was their Godfather: and in my opinion it should seem an unmannerly presumption in any that doth alter them without his leave.
My second voyage (1615) was to begin a Plantation, and to do what else I could, but by extreme tempests that tore near all my masts by the board, being more than two hundred leagues at sea, I was forced to return to Plymouth with a jury-mast.
The third was intercepted by English and French pirates, by my treacherous company that betrayed me to them, who ran away with my ship and all that I had --- such enemies the sailors were to a plantation. The greatest loss being mine, they did easily excuse themselves to the merchants in England, who still provided for them to pursue the fishing.
Much difference there was betwixt the Londoners and the Westerlings (the Plymouth company) to engross it, who now would adventure thousands, that when I went first would not adventure a groat (4 pence); yet there went four or five good ships: but what by their dissension, and the Turkish men of war that took the best of them in the Straits (of Gibraltar), they scarce saved themselves this year.
At my return from France (December, 1616), I did my best to have united them; but that had been more than a work for Hercules, so violent is the folly of greedy covetousness.
This Country we now speak of lieth betwixt 41ļ and 44Ĺļ, the very mean for heat and cold betwixt the Equinoctial and the North Pole, in which I have sounded about five and twenty very good harbors; in many whereof is anchorage for five hundred good ships of any burden, in some of them for a thousand: and more than three hundred isles overgrown with good timber or divers sorts of other woods; in most of them (in their seasons) plenty of wild fruits, fish, and fowl, and pure springs of most excellent water pleasantly distilling from their rocky foundations.
The principal habitations I was at Northward, was Pennobscot, who are at war with the Terentines, their next Northerly neighbors.
Southerly up the rivers and along the coast we found Mecadacut, Segocket, Pemmaquid, Nusconcus, Sagadahock, Satquin, Aumughcawgen, and Kenabeca. To those belong the countries and people of Segotago, Pauhuntanuck, Pocopassum, Taughtanakagnet, Wabigganus, Nassaque, Masherosqueck, Wawrigwick, Moshoquen, Waccogo, Pasharanack, etc. To these are allied in confederacy, the countries of Aucocisco, Accominticus, Passataquak, Augawoam and Naemkeck. All these for any thing I could perceive differ little in language or any thing, though most of them be Sagamos, and lords of themselves; yet they hold the Bashabes of Pennobscot the chief and greatest amongst them.
The next is Mattahunt, Totunt, Massachuset, Paconekick, then Cape Cod, by which is Pawmet, the isles of Nawset and Capawuck, near which are the shoals of rocks and sands that stretch themselves into the main sea twenty leagues, and very dangerous betwixt the degrees of 40 and 41.
Now beyond Cape Cod, the land extendeth itself Southward to Virginia, Florida, the West Indies, the Amazons and Brazil, to the Straits of Magellan, two and fifty degrees Southward beyond the Line; all those great countries, differing as they are in distance North or South from the Equinoctial, in temper, heat, cold, woods, fruits, fishes, beasts, and birds, the increase and decrease of the night and day, to six months day and six months night. Some say many of those nations are so brute they have no religion, wherein surely and they may be deceived; for my part I never saw nor heard of nigh any nation in the world which had not religion, deer, bows and arrows.
Those in New-England, I take it, believe much alike as those in Virginia, of many divine powers, yet of one above the rest; as the Southerly Virginians call their chief god, Kewassa, and those near where we now inhabit, Ogee: but all call their kings Werowanees. The Massachusets call their great god Kichian, and their kings Sachems; and that we suppose their devil, they call Habamouk. The Pennobscots call their god, Tantum; their kings, Sagamos. About those countries are an abundance of several nations and languages, but much alike in their simple curiosities, living and workmanship, except the wild estate of their chief kings, etc., of whose particular miserable magnificence (yet most happy in this, that they never trouble themselves with such variety of apparel, drinks, viands, sauces, perfumes, preservatives, and niceties as we; yet live as long, and much more healthful and hardy): also the deities of their chiefest gods, priests, conjurers, religion, temples, triumphs, physic, and chirurgery (medicine); their births, educations, duty of their women, exercise for their men; how they make all their instruments and engines to cut down trees, make their clothes, boats, lines, nets, fish-hooks, weirs, and traps, mats, houses, pots, platters, mortars, bows, arrows, targets, swords, clubs, jewels, and hatchets. Their several sorts of woods, serpents, beasts, fish, fowl, roots, berries, fruits, stones, and clay. Their best trade, what is most fit to trade with them. With the particulars of the charge of a fishing voyage, and all the necessaries belonging to it, their best countries to vent it for their best returns; also the particulars for every private man or family that goeth to plant, and the best seasons to go or return thence; with the particular description of the savages, habitations, harbors, and landmarks, their latitude, longitude, or several distances, with their old names and the new by the map augmented. Lastly, the power of their kings, obedience of their subjects, laws, executions, planting their fields, huntings, fishings, the manner of their wars and treacheries yet known; and in general, their lives and conversation, and how to bridle their brute, barbarous, and savage dispositions: of all these particulars you may read at large in the General History of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles, with many more such strange actions and accidents that to an ordinary capacity might rather seem miracles than wonders possibly to be effected; which though they are but wound up as bottoms of fine silk, which with a good needle might he flourished into a far larger work, so the images of great things are best discerned, contracted into smaller glasses.
For all those differences there went eight tall ships before I arrived in England from France, so that I spent that year (1617) in the west country, to persuade the cities, towns, and gentry for a plantation; which the merchants very little liked, because they would have the coast free only for themselves, and the gentlemen were doubtful of their true accounts.
Oft and much it was so disputed, that at last they promised me the next year twenty sail well furnished, made me Admiral of the country for my life under their hands and the colonelsí scale for New-England; and in renewing their letters patents, to be a patentee for my pains; yet nothing but a voluntary fishing was effected, for all this air.
In those years many ships made exceeding good voyages, some in six months, others in five: but one of two hundred ton in six weeks, with eight and thirty men and boys had her fraught, which she sold at the first penny for one and twenty hundred pounds, besides her furs. Six or seven more went out of the west, and some sailors that had but a single share, had twenty pounds and at home again in seven months, which was more than such a one should have got in twenty months, had he gone for wages anywhere: yet for all this, in all this time, though I had divulged to my great labor, cost and loss, more than seven thousand books and maps, and moved the particular Companies in London, as also noblemen, gentlemen, and merchants for a plantation, all availed no more than to hew rocks with oyster-shells; so fresh were the living abuses of Virginia and the Summer Isles in their memories.
At last, upon those inducements, some well disposed Brownists, as they are termed, with some gentlemen and merchants of Leiden and Amsterdam, to save charges, would try their own conclusions, though with great loss and much misery till time had taught them to see their own error; for such humorists will never believe the truth, till they be beaten with their own rod.
They were supplied with a small ship with seven and thirty passengers (the Fortune, 1621), who found all well of them that were left after they were seated, except six who had died, despite all their poverties. In this ship they returned goods to the value of five hundred pounds, which was taken by a French-man upon the coast of England.
There were (1621) gone from the west to fish five and thirty sail; two from London with sixty passengers for them at New Plymouth: and all made good voyages.
Now you are to understand, the seven and thirty passengers miscarrying twice upon the coast of England, came so ill provided, they only relied upon that poor company they found, that had lived two years by their naked industry, and what the country naturally afforded. It is true, at first, there hath been taken a thousand bass at a draught, and more than twelve hogsheads of herrings in a night; of other fish when and what they would, when they had means; but wanting most necessaries for fishing and fowling, it is a wonder how they could subsist, fortify themselves, resist their enemies, and plant their plants.
In July (1622), a group of straggling forlorn Englishmen (of the Wessagussett plantation), whose wants they relieved, though wanted themselves; the which to requite, destroyed their corn and fruits, and would have done the like to them, and have taken all they had. The salvages also intended the like, but wisely they slew the salvage captains; and revenged those injuries upon the fugitive English, that would have done the like to them.
At New Plymouth, having planted there fields and gardens, such an extraordinary drought ensued (1623), all things withered so that they expected no harvest. And having long expected a supply ship, they heard no news, but a wreck split upon their coast, they supposed it their ship: thus in the very labyrinth of despair, they solemnly assembled themselves together nine hours in prayer. At their departure, the parching fair skies became all overcast with black clouds; and the next morning such a pleasant moderate rain continued fourteen days, that it was hard to say, whether their withered fruits or drooping affections were most revived.
Not long after came two ships (the Anne and the Little James) to supply them, with all their passengers well except one, and he presently recovered.
For themselves, for all their wants, there was not one sick person amongst them. The greater ship they returned fraught with commodities.
This year went from England, only to fish, five and forty sail, and have all made a better voyage than ever.
In this plantation there is about an hundred and four-score persons, some cattle, but many swine and poultry. Their town contains two and thirty houses, whereof seven were burnt, with the value of five or six hundred pounds in other goods; within about half a mile of palisado, and upon a high mount, a fort with a watch-tower, well built of stone, loam, and wood, their ordnance well mounted: and so healthful, that of the first planters not one hath died this three years.
Yet at the first landing at Cape Cod, being an hundred passengers, besides twenty they had left behind at Plymouth, for want of good foresight, thinking to find all things better than I advised them, spent six or seven weeks in wandering up and down in frost and snow, wind and rain among the woods, creeks and swamps. Forty of them died; and threescore were left in most miserable estate at New-Plymouth where their ship left them, and but nine leagues by sea from where they landed: whose misery and variable opinions for want of experience, occasioned much faction, till necessity united them.
These disasters, losses, and uncertainties, made such disagreement among the adventurers in England, who began to repent, and preferred to lose all than longer continue the charge, being out of purse six or seven thousand pounds, accounting my books and their relations as old almanacs.
But the planters, rather than leave the country, concluded absolutely to supply themselves, and to all their adventurers pay them for nine years two hundred pounds yearly without any other account: where more than six hundred adventurers for Virginia, for more than two hundred thousand pounds, had not sixpence returned.
Since then they have made a salt works, wherewith they preserve all the fish they take; and have freighted this year a ship of an hundred and four score tons: living so well they desire nothing but more company: and whatever they take, return commodities to the value.
Thus you may plainly see, although many envied that I should bring so much from thence where many others had been the same year and returned with nothing, reported the fish and beavers I brought home I had taken from the Frenchmen of Canada, to discourage any from believing me, and excuse their own misprisions: some only to have concealed this good country (as is said) to their private use; others taxed me as much for the indiscretion of making my discoveries and designs so public for nothing, which might have been so well managed by some concealers, to have been all rich ere any had known of it.
Those, and many such like wise rewards, have been my recompenses, for which I am contented. For so long as the country prosper, and Godís name be there praised by my countrymen, I have my desire. And the benefit of this salted fish, for breeding mariners and building ships, will make so many fit men to raise a commonwealth, and if but managed as my General History will show you, it might well by this have been as profitable as the best mine the King of Spain hath in his West Indies.
Now if you but truly consider how many strange accidents have befallen those plantations and myself; how oft up, oft down, sometimes near despair, and ere long flourishing; how many scandals and spaniolized English have sought to disgrace them, bring them to ruin or at least hinder them all they could; how many have shaven and cozened both them and me and their most honorable supporters and well-wishers; you cannot but conceive Godís infinite mercy both to them and me.
Having been a slave to the Turks, prisoner amongst the most barbarous savages, after my deliverance commonly discovering and ranging those large rivers and unknown nations with such a handful of ignorant companions that the wiser sort often gave me up for lost, always in mutinies, wants and miseries, blown up with gunpowder, a long time prisoner among the French pirates, from whom escaping in a little boat by myself, and adrift all such a stormy winter night, when their ships were split, more than a hundred thousand pounds lost of what they had taken at sea, and most of them drowned upon the Ile de Rť, not far from whence I was driven on shore in my little boat, etc. And many a score of the worst of winter months I lived in the field: yet to have lived near 37 years in the midst of wars, pestilence and famine, by which many an hundred thousand have died about me, and scarce five are living of them that went first with me to Virginia: and see the fruits of my labors thus well begin to prosper, though I have but my pain for my labors, I have much reason both privately and publicly to acknowledge and give God thanks, whose omnipotent power only delivered me, and do the utmost of my best to make his name known in those remote parts of the world, and his loving mercy to such a miserable sinner.
Had my designs been to have persuaded men to a mine of gold, as I know many have done that knew no such matter; though few do conceive either the charge or pains in refining it, nor the power nor care to defend it; or some new invention to pass to the South Sea; or some strange plot to invade some strange monastery; or some chargeable fleet to take some rich carracks; or letters of marque to rob some poor merchant or honest fishermen: what multitudes of both people and money would contend to be first employed! But in these noble endeavors now, how few, unless it be to beg them as monopolies, and those seldom seek the common good, but the commonsí goods, as the pages 217, 218 and 219 in the General History will show. Indeed it is but a few noble gentlemen and their associates, for whose better encouragements I have recollected these experienced memorandums as an apology against all calumniating detractors, as well for myself as them.
Now since those called Brownists went (some few before them also having my books and maps, presumed they knew as much as they desired), many other advisors they had as wise as themselves, but they were best liked that held like conceits, for indeed they would not know any to have any knowledge but themselves, pretending only religion their governor and frugality their counsel, when indeed it was only their pride and singularity and contempt of authority. Because they could not be equals, they would have no superiors. In this foolís paradise, they so long used that good husbandry, that they have paid soundly in trying their own follies. Who undertaking in small handfuls to make many plantations, and to be several lords and kings of themselves, most vanished to nothing, to the great disparagement of the general business. Therefore let them take heed that do follow their example!
Who would not think that all those certainties should not have made both me and this country to have prospered well by this? But it fell out otherwise. For by the instigation some, whose policy had long watched their opportunity by the assurance of those profitable returns, procured new letters patent from King James; drawing in many noblemen and others to the number of twenty, for patentees; dividing my map and that tract of land from the North Sea to the South Sea, east and west, which is supposed by most cosmographers at least more than two thousand miles; and from 41 degrees to 48 of northerly latitude about 560 miles; the bounds Virginia to the south, and South Sea to the west, Canada to the north, and the Atlantic to the east; all this they divided into twenty parts, for which they cast lots; but no lot for me but Smithís Isles, which are a group of barren rocks, the most over grown with such shrubs and sharp spines you can hardly walk on them, without either grass or wood but three or four short shrubby old cedars.
Those patentees procured a proclamation, that no ship for should go thither to fish but pay them for the public, as it was pretended, five pound upon every thirty tons of shipping; neither trade with the natives, cut down wood, throw their ballast overboard, nor plant without commission, leave and contentment of the lord of that division or manor; some of which I believe will be tenantless this thousand years. Thus whereas this country, as the contrivers of those projects have oft told me, should have planted itself of itself, especially all the chief parts along the coast, the first year: and chiefly by the fishing ships and some small help of their own (thinking men would be glad upon any terms to be admitted under their protections). But it proved so contrary, none would go at all. So, for fear to make a contempt against the proclamation, it hath ever since been little frequented to any purpose: nor would any do anything, but left it to itself.
Thus it lay again in a manner wasted till certain noble gentlemen thus voluntarily undertook it, whom I entreat to take this as a memorandum of my love, to make your plantations so near and great as you can: for many hands make light work, whereas yet your small parties can do nothing available; nor stand too much upon the letting, setting, or selling those wild countries, nor impose too much upon the commonalty either by your magazines which commonly eat out all poor menís labors; nor any other too hard imposition for present game; but let every man so it be by order allotted him, plant freely without limitation so much as he can, be it by the halves or other ways. And at the end of five or six years, or when you make a division, for every acre he hath planted, let him have twenty, thirty, forty, or an hundred; or as you find he hath extraordinarily deserved, by itself to him and his heirs for ever; all his charges being defrayed to his lord or master, and public good.
In so doing, a servant that will labor, within four or five a years may live as well there as his master did here: for where there is so much land lying waste, it were madness in a man at first to buy, or hire, or pay anything more than an acknowledgment to whom it shall be due; and he is double mad that will leave his friends, means, and freedom in England, to be worse there than here.
Therefore let all men have as much freedom in reason as may be, and true dealing; for it is the greatest comfort you can give them, where the very name of servitude will breed much ill blood, and become odious to God and man: but mildly temper correction with mercy, for I know well you will have occasion enough to use both; and in thus doing, doubtless God will bless you, and quickly triple and multiply your numbers; the which to my utmost I will do my best endeavor.
In all those plantations, yea, of those that have done least, yet the most will say, we were the first; and so every next supply, still the next beginner: but seeing history is the memory of time, the life of the dead, and the happiness of the living; because I have more plainly discovered and described and discoursed of those countries than any as yet I know, I am the bolder to continue the story, and do all men right so near as I can in those new beginnings, which hereafter perhaps may be in better request than a forest of nine-days pamphlets.
In the year 1629, about March, six good ships are gone with 350 men, women, and children; people professing themselves of good rank, zeal, means, and quality: also 150 head of cattle, as horse, mares, and neat beasts; 41 goats, some rabbits, with all provision for household and apparel; six pieces of great ordnance for a fort, with muskets, pikes, corselets, drums and colors, with all provisions necessary for the good of man.
They are seated about 42 degrees and 38 minutes, at a place called by the natives Naemkecke, by our royal King Charles, Bastable; but now by the planters, Salem: where they arrived for most part exceeding well, their cattle and all things else prospering exceedingly, far beyond their expectation.
At this place they found some reasonably good provision and houses built by some few of Dorchester, with whom they are joined in society with two hundred men.
An hundred and fifty more they have sent to the Massachusetts, which they call Charlton or Charlestown. I took the fairest reach of this bay for a river, whereupon I called it Charles River, after the name of our royal King Charles; but they find that fair channel to divide itself into so many fair branches as made forty or fifty pleasant islands within that excellent bay, where the land is of divers and sundry sorts, in some places very black and fat, in others good clay, sand and gravel, the superficies neither too flat in plains, nor too high in hills. In the isles you may keep your hogs, horse, cattle, rabbits, or poultry secure for little or nothing, and to command when you list; only having a care of provision for some extraordinary cold winter. In these isles, as in the mainland, you may make your nurseries for fruits and plants where you put no cattle; in the main you may shape your orchards, vineyards, pastures, gardens, walks, parks, and cornfields out of the whole piece as you please into such plots, one adjoining to another, leaving every of them environed with two, three, four, or six, or so many rows of well grown trees as you will, ready grown to your hands, to defend them from ill weather, which in a broader plain you could not in many ages; and this at first you may do with as much facility as by carelessly or ignorantly cut down all before you, and then after better consideration make ditches, pales, plant young trees with excessive charge and labor, seeing you may have so many great and small growing trees for your mainposts, to fix hedges, palisados, houses, rails or what you will. Which order in Virginia hath not been so well observed as it might: where all the woods for many an hundred mile for the most part grow slight, like unto the high grove or tuft of trees upon the high hill by the house of that worthy knight Sir Humphrey Mildmay, so remarkable in Essex in the parish of Danbury, where I wrote this discourse, but much taller and greater; neither grow they so thick together by the half, and much good ground between them without shrubs, and the best is ever known by the greatness of the trees and the verdure it beareth.
Now in New England the trees are commonly lower, but much thicker and firmer wood, and more proper for shipping, of which I will speak a little, being the chief engine we are to use in this work; and the rather for that within a square of twenty leagues, you may have all, or most of the chief materials belonging to them, were they wrought to their perfection as in other places.
Of all manufactures a ship is the most excellent, requiring more art in building, rigging, sailing, trimming, defending, and mooring, with such a number of several terms and names in continual motion, not understood of any landsman, as none would think of but some few that know them (for whose better instruction I wrote my sea-grammar: a book most necessary for those plantations), because there is scarce anything belonging to a ship, but the sea-terms, charge and duty of every officer is plainly expressed, and also any indifferent capacity may conceive how to direct an unskillful carpenter, or sailor to build boats and barks sufficient to sail those coasts and rivers, and put a good workman in mind of many things in this business he may easily mistake or forget.
But to be excellent in this faculty is the masterpiece of all most necessary workmen in the world. The first rule or model thereof being directed by God himself to Noah for his ark; which he never did to any other building but his temple: which is tossed and turned up and down the world with the like dangers, miseries, and extremities as a ship, sometimes tasting the fury of the four elements, as well as she, by unlimited tyrants in their cruelty for tortures, that it is hard to conceive whether those inhumanes exceed the beasts of the forest, the birds of the air, the fishes of the sea, either in numbers, greatness, swiftness, fierceness, or cruelty: whose actions and varieties, with such memorable observations as I have collected, you shall find with admiration in my history of the sea, if God be pleased I live to finish it.
For the building of houses, towns, and fortresses, where shall a man find the like convenience, as stones of most sorts, as well lime stone, if I be not much deceived, as iron stone, smooth stone, blue slate for covering houses, and great rocks we supposed marble, so that one place is called the marble harbor (modern Marblehead).
There is grass aplenty, though very long and thick stalked, which being neither mown nor eaten, is very rank; yet all their cattle like and prosper well therewith. But indeed it is weeds, herbs, and grass growing together, which although they be good and sweet in the Summer, they will deceive your cattle in winter. Therefore be careful in the spring to mow the swamps, and the low islands of Auguan (modern Ipswich), where you may have harsh shear-grass enough to make hay of till you can clear ground to make pasture; which will bear as good grass as can grow any where, as now it doth in Virginia: and unless you make this provision, if there come an extraordinary winter, you will lose many of them and hazard the rest; especially if you bring them in the latter end of Summer, or before the grass be grown in the spring, coming weak from sea.
All things they plant prosper exceedingly: but one man of 13 gallons of Indian corn, reaped that years 364 bushels London measure, as they confidently report, at which I much wonder, having planted many bushels, but no such increase.
The best way we found in Virginia to spoil the woods, was first to cut a notch in the bark a hand broad round about the tree, which peel off and the tree will sprout no more, and all the small boughs in a year or two will decay. The greatest branches in the root they spoil with fire, but you with more ease may cut them from the body and they will quickly rot.
Betwixt those trees they plant their corn, whose great bodies do much defend it from extreme gusts, and heat of the sun. While in the plains, where the trees by the time they have consumed, is subject to both: and this is the most easy way to have pasture and cornfields, which is much more fertile than the other.
In Virginia they never manure their overworn fields, which is very few, the ground for the most part is so fertile. But in New England they do, sticking at every plant of corn, a herring or two; which cometh in that season in such abundance, they may take more than they know what to do with.
Some infirmed bodies, or tender educates, complain of the piercing cold, especially in January and February; yet the French in Canada, the Russians, the Swedish, Polanders, Germans, and our neighbor Hollanders, are much colder and far more northward; for all that, rich countries and live well. Now they have wood enough if they will cut it, at their doors to make fires; and train oil with the splinters of the roots of fir trees for candles: whereas in Holland they have little or none to build ships, houses, or anything but what they fetch from foreign countries, yet they dwell but in the latitude of Yorkshire; and New- England is in the latitude of the north cape of Spain, which is 10 degrees, 200 leagues, or 600 miles nearer the sun than we, where upon the mountains of Biscay I have felt as much cold, frost, and snow as in England. And of this I am sure, a good part of the best countries and kingdoms of the world, both northward and southward of the line, lie in the same parallels of Virginia and New England, as at large you may find in the 210th page of the General History.
Thus you may see how prosperously thus far they have proceeded, in which course by Godís grace they may continue; but great care would be had they pester not their ships too much with cattle nor passengers, and to make good conditions for your peopleís diet, for therein is used much legerdemain: therefore in that you cannot be too careful to keep your men well, and in health at sea. In this case some masters are very provident , but the most part so they can get fraught enough, care not much whether the passengers live or die. For a common sailor regards not a landsman, especially a poor passenger; as I have seen too oft proved by lamentable experience, although we have victualed them all at our own charges.
Who would not think but that all those trials had been sufficient to lay a foundation for a plantation; but we see many men, many minds, and still new lords, new laws: for those 350 men with all their cattle that so well arrived and promised so much, not being of one body, but several menís servants, few could command and fewer obey, lived merrily of that they had, neither planting or building anything to any purpose, but one fair house for the governor, till all was spent and the winter approached; then they grew into many diseases, and as many inconveniences, depending only on a supply from England, which expected houses, gardens, and cornfields ready planted by them for their entertainment.
It is true, that master John Winthrop, their new governor, a worthy gentleman both in estate and esteem, went so well provided (for six or seven hundred people went with him) as could be devised; but at sea, such an extraordinary storm encountered his fleet, continuing ten days, that of two hundred cattle which were so tossed and bruised, threescore and ten died, many of their people fell sick, and in this perplexed estate, after ten weeks, they arrived in New England at several times: where they found threescore of their people dead, the rest sick, nothing done; but all complaining, and all things so contrary to their expectation, that now every monstrous humor began to show itself.
And to second this, near as many more came after them, but so ill provided, with such multitudes of women and children, as redoubled their necessities. This small trial of their patience caused among them no small confusion, and put the governor and his council to their utmost wits. Some could not endure the name of a bishop, others not the sight of a cross nor surplice, others by no means the book of common prayer. This absolute crew, only of the elect, holding all (but such as themselves) reprobates and castaways, now make more haste to return to Babel as they termed England, than stay to enjoy the land they called Canaan: somewhat they must say to excuse themselves.
Those he (Winthrop) found Brownists, he let go for New-Plymouth; who are now betwixt four or five hundred, and live well without want.
Some two hundred of the rest he was more content to return for England, whose clamors are as variable as their humors and auditors. Some say they could see no timber of two feet diameter, some the country is all woods; others they drank all the springs and ponds dry, yet like to famish for want of fresh water; some of the danger of the rattlesnake; and that others sold their provisions at what rates they pleased to them that wanted, and so returned to England great gainers out of othersí miseries: yet all that returned are not of those humors.
Notwithstanding all this, the noble governor was no way disanimated, neither repents him of his enterprise for all those mistakes: but did order all things with that temperance and discretion, and so relieved those that wanted with his own provision, that there is six or seven hundred remained with him; and more than 1600 English in all the country, with three or four hundred head of cattle.
As for corn they are very ignorant, if upon the coast of America, they do not before the end of this October for toys (traded with the Indians) furnish themselves with two or three thousand bushels of Indian corn, which is better than ours; and in a short time cause the salvages to do them as good service as their own men, as I did in Virginia; and yet neither use cruelty nor tyranny amongst them: a consequence well worth putting in practice; and till it be effected, they will hardly do well.
I know ignorance will say it is impossible, but this impossible task, ever since the massacre in Virginia, I have been a suitor to have undertaken but with 150 men, to have got corn, fortified the country, and discovered them more land than they all yet know or have demonstrated: but the merchants common answer was, necessity in time would force the planters to do it themselves; and rather thus husbandry to lose ten sheep, than be at the charge of a half penny worth of tar.
Who is it that knows not what a small handful of Spaniards in the West Indies, subdued millions of the inhabitants, so depopulating those countries they conquered, that they are glad to buy Negroes in Africa at a great rate, in countries far remote from them; which although they be as idle and as devilish people as any in the world, yet they cause them quickly to be their best servants. Notwithstanding, there is for every four or five natural Spaniards, two or three hundred Indians and Negroes; and in Virginia and New England more English than savages that can assemble themselves to assault or hurt them, and it is much better to help to plant a country than unplant it and then replant it: but there Indians were in such multitudes, the Spaniards had no other remedy; and ours such a few, and so dispersed, it were nothing in a short time to bring them to labor and obedience.
It is strange to me, that Englishmen should not do as much as any; but upon every slight affront, instead to amend it, we make it worse. Notwithstanding the worst of all those rumors, the better sort there are constant in their resolutions, and so are the most of their best friends here; and making provision to supply them, many conceive they make a dearth here, which is nothing so; for they would spend more here than they transport thither.
One ship this Summer with twenty cattle, and forty or fifty passengers arrived all well; and the ship at home again in nine weeks: another for all this exclamation of want, is returned with 10,000 codfish, and fourscore kegs of sturgeon; which they did take and save when the season was near past, and in the very heat of Summer; yet as good as can be.
Since then, another ship is gone from Bristol, and many more are providing to follow them with all speed. Thus you may plainly see for all these rumors, they are in no such distress as is supposed. As for their mischanceís, misprisions, or what accidents may befall them, I hope none is so malicious, as attribute the fault to the country nor me. Yet if some blame us not both, it were more than a wonder. For I am not ignorant that ignorance and too curious spectators make it a great part of their profession to censure (however) any manís actions, they who, having lost the path to virtue, will make most excellent shifts to mount up anyway. Such incomparable connivance is in the devilís most punctual cheaters, they will hazard a joint, but where God hath his church they will have a chapel; a mischief so hard to be prevented that I have thus plainly adventured to show my feelings, through the weakness of my ability. You may easily know them by their absoluteness in opinions, holding experience but the mother of fools, which indeed is the very ground of reason; and he that condemns her in those actions, may find occasion enough to use all the wit and wisdom he hath to correct his own folly, that thinks to find amongst those savages such churches, palaces, monuments, and buildings as are in England.
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