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Book X: unsuccessful settlements in New England. (A. D. 1602-1607.)

The narrative of Captain Gosnold's adventures is taken from John Brereton's ‘Brief and True Relation of the Discovery of the North Part of Virginia: being a most pleasant, fruitful, and commodious soil.’ Reprinted in the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 3d series, vol. VIII. pp. 85-93.

Waymouth's narrative is taken from ‘A True Relation of the most Prosperous Voyage made this Present Year, 1605, by Captain George Waymouth, in the discovery of the land of Virginia, where he discovered, sixty miles up, a most excellent river, together with a most fertile land. Written by James Rosier, a gentleman employed in the voyage.’ Reprinted in the same volume of the Massachusetts Historical Collections, pp. 135-156.

The other two narratives are from Strachey's ‘Historie of Travaile into Virginia’ (reprinted by the Hakluyt Society, 1849), pp. 171-173, 176-180.


I.—Gosnold's fort at Cuttyhunk.

[Gosnold was the first Englishman who attempted to found a colony in New England; and this account of his attempt is by his companion, John Brereton.]

Honorable Sir,— Being earnestly requested by a dear friend to put down in writing some true relation of our late-performed voyage to the north parts of Virginia,1 at length I resolved to satisfy his request.

May it please your Lordship, therefore, to understand that upon the five and twentieth of March, 1602, being Friday, we went from Falmouth, being in all two and thirty persons, in a small bark of Dartmouth, called ‘The Concord,’ holding a course for the north part of Virginia. . . .

On Friday, the 14th of May, early in the morning, we made the land, being full of fair trees, the land [204] somewhat low, certain hammocks2 or hills lying into the land, the shore full of white sand, but very stony or rocky. And standing fair along by the shore, about twelve of the clock the same day, we came to an anchor, where eight Indians in a Basque-shallop,3 with mast and sail, an iron grapple, and a kettle of copper, came boldly aboard us, one of them apparelled with a waistcoat and breeches of black serge, made after our sea fashion, hose and shoes on his feet: all the rest— saving one that had a pair of breeches of blue cloth— were naked. These people are of tall stature, broad and grim visage, of a black, swart complexion, their eyebrows painted white. Their weapons are bows and arrows. It seemed by some words and signs they made, that some Basques, or of St. John de Luz,4 have fished or traded in this place, being in the latitude of forty-three degrees.

But riding here, in no very good harbor, and withal doubting the weather, about three of the clock the same day, in the afternoon, we weighed, and standing southerly off into sea the rest of that day and the night following, with a fresh gale of wind, in the morning we found ourselves embayed with a mighty headland.5 But coming to an anchor about nine of the clock the same day, within a league of the shore, we hoisted out the one-half of our shallop; and Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, myself, and three others, went ashore, being a white, sandy, and bold shore; and [205] marching all that afternoon, with our muskets on our necks, on the highest hills which we saw,—the weather very hot,—at length we perceived this headland to be parcel of the main, and sundry islands lying almost round about it. So returning towards evening to our shallop,—for by that time the other part was brought ashore, and set together,—we espied an Indian, a young man of proper stature, and of a pleasing countenance; and, after some familiarity with him, we left him at the seaside, and returned to our ship, where, in five or six hours absence, we had pestered6 our ship so with codfish, that we threw numbers of them overboard again. And surely, I am persuaded, that in the months of March, April, and May, there is upon this coast better fishing, and in as great plenty, as in Newfoundland; for the skulls of mackerel, herrings, cod, and other fish, that we daily saw as we went and came from the shore, were wonderful. And besides, the places where we took these cods, and might in a few days have laden our ship, were but in seven fathoms water, and within less than a league from the shore; where,7 in Newfoundland, they fish in forty or fifty fathoms water, and far off.

From this place we sailed round about this headland almost all the points of the compass, the shore very bold; but, as no coast is free from dangers, so I am persuaded this is as free as any. The land somewhat low, full of goodly woods, but in some places plain. At length we were come amongst many fair islands, which we had partly discerned at our first landing, all lying within a league or two one of another, and the [206] outermost not above five or seven leagues from the main. But coming to an anchor under one of them,8 which was about three or four leagues from the main, Captain Gosnold, myself, and some others, went ashore; and, going round about it, we found it to be four English miles in compass, without house or inhabitant, saving a little old house made of boughs covered with bark, an old piece of a weir of the Indians to catch fish, and one or two places where they had made fires. The chiefest trees of this island are beeches and cedars, the outward parts all overgrown with low, bushy trees three or four feet in height, which bear some kind of fruits, as appeared by their blossoms; strawberries, red and white, as sweet and much bigger than ours in England; raspberries, gooseberries, whortleberries, and such an incredible store of vines, as well in the woody part of the island, where they run upon every tree, as on the outward parts, so that we could not go for treading upon them; also many springs of excellent sweet water, and a great standing lake of fresh water near the seaside an English mile in compass, which is maintained with the springs, running exceeding pleasantly through the woody grounds, which are very rocky. Here are also in this island great store of deer, which we saw, and other beasts, as appeared by their tracks; as also divers fowls, as cranes, hernshaws,9 bitterns, geese, mallards, teals, and other fowl in great plenty; also great store of peas, which grow in certain plots all the island over. On the north side of this island we found many huge bones and ribs of whales.

From hence we went to another island to the northwest [207] of this, and within a league or two of the main, which we found to be greater than before we imagined, being sixteen English miles, at the least, in compass; for it containeth many pieces or necks of land, which differ nothing from several islands, saving that certain banks of small breadth do like bridges join them to this island. On the outside of this island are many plain places of grass, abundance of strawberries, and other berries before mentioned. In mid-May we did sow in this island, for a trial, in sundry places, wheat, barley, oats, and peas, which in fourteen days were sprung up nine inches, and more. The soil is fat and lusty, the upper crust of gray color, but a foot or less in depth, of the color of our hemp-lands in England, and being thus apt for these and the like grains. The sowing or setting—after the ground is closed—is no greater labor than if you should set or sow in one of our best prepared gardens in England. This island is full of high timbered oaks, their leaves thrice so broad as ours; cedars, straight and tall; beech, elm holly, walnut-trees in abundance, the fruit as big as ours, as appeared by those we found under the trees, which had lain all the year ungathered; hazelnut-trees, cherry-trees, the leaf, bark, and bigness not differing from ours in England, but the stalk beareth the blossoms or fruit at the end thereof, like a cluster of grapes, forty or fifty in a bunch; sassafras-trees, great plenty all the island over, a tree of high price and profit; also divers other fruit-trees, some of them with strange barks of an orange color, in feeling soft and smooth like velvet: in the thickest parts of these woods you may see a furlong or more round about. [208]

On the north-west side of this island, near to the seaside, is a standing lake of fresh water, almost three English miles in compass, in the midst whereof stands a plot of woody ground, an acre in quantity, or not above. This lake is full of small tortoises, and exceedingly frequented with all sorts of fowls, before rehearsed,10 which breed, some low on the banks, and others on low

Gosnold's fort

trees about this lake, in great abundance, whose young ones of all sorts we took and ate at our pleasure; but all these fowls are much bigger than ours in England. Also in every island, and almost in every part of every island, are great store of ground-nuts, forty together on a string, some of them as big as hen's eggs: they [209] grow not two inches under ground, the which nuts we found to be as good as potatoes. Also divers sorts of shell-fish, as scallops, mussels, cockles, lobsters, crabs, oysters, and whelks, exceeding good and very great. . .

Now the next day, we determined to fortify ourselves in a little plot of ground in the midst of the lake above mentioned, where we built our house, and covered it with sedge, which grew about this lake in great abundance; in building whereof we spent three weeks, and more. But, the second day after our coming from the main, we espied eleven canoes or boats, with fifty Indians in them, coming toward us from this part of the main, where we two days before landed; and, being loath they should discover our fortification, we went out on the seaside to meet them. And, coming somewhat near them, they all sat down upon the stones, calling aloud to us, as we rightly guessed, to do the like, a little distance from them. Having sat a while in this order, Captain Gosnold willed me to go unto them to see what countenance11 they would make; but, as soon as I came up unto them, one of them, to whom I had given a knife two days before in the main, knew me, whom I also very well remembered, and, smiling upon me, spake somewhat unto their lord or captain, which sat in the midst of them, who presently rose up, and took a large beaver-skin from one that stood about him, and gave it unto me, which I requited for that time the best I could. But I, pointing towards Captain Gosnold, made signs unto him that he was our captain, and desirous to be his friend, and enter league with him, which, as I perceive, he understood, and made signs of joy. Whereupon [210] Captain Gosnold, with the rest of his company, being twenty in all, came up unto them, and after many signs of gratulations,—Captain Gosnold presenting their lord with certain trifles which they wondered at and highly esteemed,—we became very great friends, and sent for meat aboard our shallop, and gave them such meats as we had then ready dressed; whereof they misliked nothing but our mustard, whereat they made many a sour face. . . .

So the rest of the day we spent in trading with them for furs, which are beavers, luzernes, martens, otters, wildcat-skins,—very large and deep fur,—black foxes, coney-skins, of the color of our hares, but somewhat less, deer-skins very large, seal-skins, and other beasts' skins, to us unknown. They have also great store of copper, some very red, and some of a paler color: none of them but have chains, ear-rings, or collars of this metal. They head some of their arrows herewith, much like our broad arrow-heads, very workmanly made. Their chains are many hollow pieces cemented together, each piece of the bigness of one of our reeds, a finger in length, ten or twelve of them together on a string, which they wear about their necks. Their collars they wear about their bodies, like bandoleers,12 a handful broad, all hollow pieces like the other, but somewhat shorter, four hundred pieces in a collar, very fine and evenly set together. Besides these, they have large drinking-cups made like skulls, and other thin plates of copper, made much like our boar-spear blades, all which they so little esteem as they offered their fairest collars or chains for a knife or such like trifle; but we seemed [211] little to regard it. Yet I was desirous to understand where they had such store of this metal, and made signs to one of them, with whom I was very familiar, who, taking a piece of copper in his hand, made a hole with his finger in the ground, and withal pointed to the main13 from whence they came. . . .

Thus they continued with us three days, every night retiring themselves to the furthermost part of our island, two or three miles from our fort; but the fourth day they returned to the main, pointing five or six times to the sun, and once to the main, which we understood [to mean] that, within five or six days, they would come from the main to us again. But, being in their canoes a little from the shore, they made huge cries and shouts of joy unto us; and we with our trumpet and cornet, and casting up our caps into the air, made them the best farewell we could. Yet six or seven of them remained with us behind, bearing us company every day into the woods, and helped us to cut and carry our sassafras, and some of them lay14 aboard our ship.

These people, as they are exceeding courteous, gentle of disposition, and well conditioned, exceeding all others that we have seen, so for shape of body and lovely favor, I think they excel all the people of America. [They are] of stature much higher than we; of complexion or color much like a dark olive; their eyebrows and hair black, which they wear long, tied up behind in knots, whereon they prick feathers of fowls, in fashion of a coronet. Some of them are black, thinbearded. They make beards of the hair of beasts; [212] and one of them offered a beard of their making to one of our sailors, for his that grew on his face, which, because it was of a red color, they judged to be none of his own. They are quick-eyed, and steadfast in their looks, fearless of others' harms, as intending none themselves; some of the meaner sort given to filching, which the very name of savages, not weighing their ignorance in good or evil, may easily excuse. Their garments are of deer-skins; and some of them wear furs round and close about their necks. They pronounce our language with great facility; for one of them one day sitting by me, upon occasion I spake smiling to him these words, ‘How now, sirrah, are you so saucy with my tobacco?’ which words, without any further repetition, he suddenly spake so plain and distinctly, as if he had been a long scholar in the language. Many other such trials we had, which are here needless to repeat. . . .

But after our bark had taken in so much sassafras,15 cedar, firs, skins, and other commodities, as were thought convenient, some of our company that had promised Captain Gosnold to stay, having nothing but a saving16 voyage in their minds, made our company of inhabitants, which was small enough before, much smaller; so as17 Captain Gosnold seeing his whole strength to consist but of twelve men, and they but meanly provided, determined to return for England, leaving this island, which he called Elizabeth's Island,18 with as many true sorrowful eyes as were before desirous to see it. So the 18th of June, being Friday, we [213] weighed, and with indifferent fair wind and weather came to anchor the 23d of July, being also Friday, in all bare five weeks, before Exmouth.

Your Lordship's to command,

Ii.—Captain Waymooth captures Indians, and explores the Penobscot River.

[Captain George Waymouth, or Weymouth, sailed from England in 1605.]

Wednesday the twenty-ninth day [of May], our shallop being now finished, and our captain and men furnished to depart with her from the ship, we set up a cross on the shore-side upon the rocks.

Thursday, the 30th of May, about ten o'clock before noon, our captain, with thirteen men more, in the name of God, and with all our prayers for our prosperous discovery and safe return, departed in the shallop; leaving the ship in a good harbor, which before I mentioned, well moored, and manned with fourteen men.

This day, about five o'clock in the afternoon, we in the ship espied three canoes coming towards us, which went to the island adjoining, where they went ashore, and very quickly had made a fire, about which they stood beholding our ship, to whom we made signs with our hands and hats, waving unto them to come unto us, because we had not seen any of the people yet. They sent one canoe with three men, one of which, when they came near unto us, spake in his language very loud and very boldly, seeming as though he would know why we were there; and by pointing with [214] his oar towards the sea, we conjectured he meant we should be gone. But when we showed them knives and their use, by cutting of sticks; and other trifles, as combs and glasses, they came close aboard our ship, as desirous to entertain our friendship. To these we gave such things as we perceived they liked, when we showed them the use,—bracelets, rings, peacock-feathers, which they stuck in their hair, and tobacco-pipes. After their departure to their company on the shore, presently came four others in another canoe; to whom we gave as to the former, using them with as much kindness as we could.

The shape of their body is very proportionable. They are well countenanced, not very tall nor big, but in stature like to us. They paint their bodies with black; their faces, some with red, some with black, and some with blue.

Their clothing is beaver-skins or deer-skins cast over them like a mantle, and hanging down to their knees, made fast together upon the shoulder with leather: some of them had sleeves, most had none; some had buskins of such leather sewed. . . .

The next morning, very early, came one canoe aboard us again, with three savages, whom we easily then enticed into our ship, and under the deck, where we gave them pork, fish, bread, and peas, all which—they did eat; and this I noted, they would eat nothing raw, either fish or flesh. They marvelled much, and much looked upon the making of our can and kettle, so they did at a head-piece,19 and at our guns, of which they are most fearful, and would fall flat down at the report [215] of them. At their departure, I signed unto them, that, if they would bring me back such skins as they wear, I would give them knives, and such things as I saw they most liked, which the chief of them promised to do by that time the sun should be beyond the midst of the firmament.20 This I did to bring them to an understanding of exchange, and that they might conceive the intent of our coming to them to be for no other end. . . .

I return now to our savages, who, according to their appointment, about one o'clock, came with four canoes to the shore of the island right over against us, where they had lodged the last night, and sent one canoe to us with two of those savages who had been aboard, and another who then seemed to have command of them; for though we perceived their willingness, yet he would not permit them to come aboard; but he, having viewed us and our ship, signed that he would go to the rest of the company, and return again. Presently after their departure, it began to rain, and continued all that afternoon, so as they could not come to us with their skins and furs, nor we go to them. But, after an hour or thereabout, the three which had been with us before came again, whom we had to our fire, and covered them with our gowns. Our captain bestowed a shirt upon him, whom we thought to be their chief, who seemed never to have seen any before. We gave him a brooch to hang about his neck, a great knife, and lesser knives to the two other; and to every one of them a comb and glass, the use whereof we showed them; whereat they laughed and took these [216] presents gladly. We victualled21 them, and gave them aqua vittae,22 which they tasted, but would by no means drink. Our beverage they liked well. We gave them sugar-candy, which after they had tasted they liked, and desired more, and raisins which were given them; and some of every thing they would reserve to carry to their company. Wherefore we, pitying their being in the rain, and therefore not able to get themselves victual, as we thought, we gave them bread and fish.

Thus, because we found the land a place answerable to the intent of our discovery, namely, fit for any nation to inhabit, we used the people with as great kindness as we could devise, or found them capable of.

The next day being Saturday, and the 1st of June, I traded with the savages all the forenoon upon the shore, where were eight and twenty of them; and, because our ship rode nigh, we were but five or six; where, for knives, glasses, combs, and other trifles, to the value of four or five shillings, we had forty good beavers' skins, otters' skins, sables, and other small skins which we knew not how to call. Our trade being ended, many of them came aboard us, and did eat by our fire, and would be very merry and bold in regard of our kind usage of them. Towards night, our captain went on shore to have a draught with the seine, or net. And we carried two of them with us, who marvelled to see us catch fish with a net. Most of that we caught we gave them and their company. Then on the shore I learned the names of divers things of them; and, when they perceived me to note them down, they [217] would of themselves fetch fish and fruit-bushes, and stand by me to see me write their names.

Our captain showed them a strange thing, which they wondered at. His sword and mine, having been touched with the loadstone, took up a knife, and held it fast when they plucked it away, made the knife turn,—being laid on a block,—and, touching it with his sword, made that take up a needle, whereat they much marvelled. This we did to cause them to imagine some great power in us, and for that to love and fear us. . . .

Our captain had two of them at supper with us in his cabin, to see their demeanor, and had them in presence at service,23 who behaved themselves very civilly, neither laughing nor talking all the time, and at supper fed not like men of rude education; neither would they eat or drink more than seemed to content nature. They desired peas to carry ashore to their women, which we gave them, with fish and bread, and lent them pewter dishes, which they carefully brought again . . . .

This day, about five o'clock, afternoon, came three other canoes from the main, of which some had been with us before: and they came aboard us, and brought us tobacco, which we took with them in their pipes, which were made of earth, very strong, black, and short, containing a great quantity. Some tobacco they gave unto our captain, and some to me, in very civil, kind manner: we requited them with bread and peas, which they carried to their company on shore, seeming very thankful. After supper they returned with their canoe, to fetch us ashore, to take tobacco with them there, with whom six or seven of us went, and carried some [218] trifles, if peradventure they had any truck,24 among which I carried some few biscuits, to try if they would exchange for them, seeing they so well liked to eat them. When we came at shore, they most kindly entertained us, taking us by the hands, as they observed we did to them aboard, in token of welcome, and brought us to sit down by their fire, where sat together thirteen of them. They filled their tobacco-pipe, which was then the short claw of a lobster, which will hold ten of our pipes full, and we drank25 of their excellent tobacco as much as we would with them. But we saw not any great quantity to truck26 for; and it seemed they had not much left of old, for they spend a great quantity yearly by their continual drinking. And they would sign unto us that it was grown yet but a foot above ground, and would be above a yard high, with a leaf as broad as both their hands . . . .

About eight o'clock this day, we went on shore with our boats, to fetch aboard water and wood; our captain leaving word with the gunner in the ship, by discharging a musket, to give notice, if they espied any canoe coming; which they did about ten o'clock. He, therefore, being careful they should be kindly treated, requested me to go aboard, intending with despatch to make what haste after he possibly could. When I came to the ship, there were two canoes, and in either of them three savages, of whom two were below at the fire: the others staid in their canoes about the ship, and, because we could not entice them aboard, we gave them a can of [219] peas and bread, which they carried to the shore to eat. But one of them brought back our can presently, and staid aboard with the other two; for he, being young, of a ready capacity, and one we most desired to bring with us into England, had received exceeding kind usage at our hands, and was therefore much delighted in our company. When our captain was come, we consulted how to catch the other three at shore, which we performed thus:—

We manned the light horseman27 with seven or eight men. One standing before carried our box of merchandise, as we were wont when I went to traffic with them, and a platter of peas, which meat28 they loved. But, before we were landed, one of them (being so suspiciously fearful of his own good) withdrew himself into the wood. The other two met us on the shore-side, to receive the peas, with whom we went up the cliff to their fire, and sat down with them; and while we were discussing how to catch the third man, who was gone, I opened the box, and showed them trifles to exchange, thinking thereby to have banished fear from the other, and drawn him to return. But, when we could not, we used little delay, but suddenly laid hands upon them. And it was as much as five or six of us could do to get them into the light horseman; for they were strong, and so naked as29 by far our best hold was by the long hair on their heads. And we would have been very loath to have done them any hurt, which of necessity we had been constrained to have done if we had attempted them in a multitude, which we must and would, rather [220] than have wanted them, being a matter of great importance for the full accomplishment of our voyage.

Thus we shipped five savages, two canoes, with all their bows and arrows. .. Tuesday, the 11th of June, we passed up into the river30 with our ship about six and twenty miles, of which I had rather not write than by my relation to detract from the worthiness thereof. . . .

As we passed with a gentle wind up with our ship in this river, any man may conceive with what admiration we all consented31 in joy. Many of our company who had been travellers in sundry countries, and in the most famous rivers, yet affirmed them not comparable to this they now beheld. Some that were with Sir Walter Raleigh in his voyage to Guiana, in the discovery of the River Orenoque,32 which echoed fame to the world's ears, gave reasons why it was not to be compared with this, which wanteth the danger of many shoals and broken ground, wherewith that was encumbered. Others before that notable river in the West Indies called Rio Grande; some before the River of Loire, the River Seine, and of Bourdeaux, in France, which, although they be great and goodly rivers, yet it is no detraction from them to be accounted inferior to this, which not only yieldeth all the aforesaid pleasant profits, but also appeareth infallibly to us free from all inconveniences.

I will not prefer it before our River of Thames, because it is England's richest treasure; but we all did wish those excellent harbors, good deeps in a continual convenient breadth, and small tide-gates, to be as well therein for our country's good as we found them here [221] —beyond our hopes—in certain, for those to whom it shall please God to grant this land for habitation; which if it had, with the other inseparable adherent commodities here to be found, then I would boldly affirm it to be the most rich, beautiful, large, and secure harboring river that the world affordeth. . . . Further, I have thought fit to add some things worthy to be regarded, which we have observed from the savages since we took them.

First, although at the time we surprised them, they made their best resistance, not knowing our purpose, nor what we were, not how we meant to use them; yet, after perceiving by their kind usage we intended them no harm, they have never since seemed discontented with us, but very tractable, loving, and willing by their best means to satisfy us in any thing we demand of them, by words or signs for their understanding. Neither have they at any time been at the least discord among themselves, insomuch as we have not seen them angry, but merry, and so kind, as, if you give any thing to one of them, he will distribute part to every one of the rest.

We have brought them to understand some English, and we understand much of their language, so as we are able to ask them many things.

[The Indians thus carried to England were the objects of great wonder, and crowds of people followed them in the streets. It is thought that Shakspeare may have referred to them in the Tempest, written a few years later, about 1610. Trinculo there wishes to take the monster Caliban to England, and says, ‘Not a holiday fool there but would give a piece of silver; there would this monster make a man; any strange beast there makes a man. When they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian.’]


III.—The Popham colony on the Kennebec.

[so much interest was excited by the voyages of Gosnold and Waymouth, that two companies were formed in England for the settlement of America,—the London company and the Plymouth company. Each company sent out a colony in 1606; but the ship sent by the Plymouth company was taken by a Spanish fleet, while the other colony reached Virginia. Then in June, 1607, the Plymouth company sent another colony, under command of Captain George Popham, he being in a vessel called ‘the gift of God,’ accompanied by ‘the Mary and John,’ Captain Raleigh Gilbert. They reached the mouth of the River Sachadehoc, or Kennebec, in August; and the narrative proceeds as follows, as told by Strachey, secretary of the Virginia Colony.]

Captain Popham, in his pinnace, with thirty persons, and Captain Gilbert in his long-boat, with eighteen persons more, went early in the morning from their ship into the River Sachadehoc, to view the river, and to search where they might find a fit place for their plantation. They sailed up into the river near forty leagues, and found it to be a very gallant river, very deep, and seldom less water than three fathom,. . . whereupon they proceeded no farther, but, in their return homewards, observed many goodly islands therein, and many branches of other small rivers falling into it.

They all went ashore, and there made choice of a

James I.

[223] place for their plantation,33 at the mouth or entry of the river on the west side,—for the river bendeth itself towards the nora — east, and by east,—being almost an island, of a good bigness, being in a province called by the Indians Sabino, so called of a sagamo, or chief commander, under the grand Bassaba.34 As they were ashore, three canoes full of Indians came to them, but would not come near, but rowed away up the river.

They all went ashore where they had made choice of their plantation, and where they had a sermon delivered unto them by their preacher; and, after the sermon, the president's commission was read, with the laws to be observed and kept. George Popham, gent.,35 was nominated president. Captain Raleigh Gilbert, James Davies, Richard Lymer, preacher, Captain Richard Davies, Captain Harlow, the same who brought away the savages at this time showed in London, from the river of Canada, were all sworn assistants; and so they returned back again.

Aug. 20. All went to shore again, and there began to intrench and make a fort, and to build a storehouse. . . .

You may please to understand how, whilst this business was thus followed here, soon after their first arrival, that [they] had despatched away Captain Robert Davies, in the ‘Mary and John,’ to advertise of their safe arrival and forwardness of their plantation within this River of Sachadehoc, with letters to the lord chief [224] justice, importuning a supply for the most necessary wants to the subsisting of a colony to be sent unto them betimes the next year.

After Captain Davies36 departure, they fully finished the fort, trenched and fortified it with twelve pieces of ordnance, and built fifty houses therein, besides a church and a storehouse; and the carpenters framed a pretty pinnace of about some thirty tons, which they called the ‘Virginia;’ the chief shipwright being one Digby of London.

Many discoveries, likewise, had been made both to the main and unto the neighbor rivers, and the frontier nations fully discovered by the diligence of Captain Gilbert, had not the winter proved so extreme unseasonable and frosty; for it being in the year 1607, when the extraordinary frost was felt in most parts of Europe, it was here likewise as vehement, by which no boat could stir upon any business. Howbeit, as time and occasion gave leave, there was nothing omitted which could add unto the benefit or knowledge of the planters, for which when Captain Davies arrived there in the year following,—set out from Topsham, the port town of Exeter, with a ship laden full of victuals, arms, instruments, and tools, &c.,—albeit he found Mr. George Popham, the president, and some other dead, yet he found all things in good forwardness, and many kinds of furs obtained from the Indians by way of trade, good store of sarsaparilla gathered, and the new pinnace all finished. But by reason that Captain Gilbert received letters that his brother was newly dead, and a fair portion of land fallen unto his share, which required [225] his repair37 home, and no mines discovered, and no hope thereof,—being the main intended benefit expected to uphold the charge of this plantation,—and the fear that all other winters would prove like the first, the company by no means would stay any longer in the country, especially Captain Gilbert being to leave them, and Mr. Popham, as aforesaid, dead: therefore they all embarked in this new arrived ship, and in the new pinnace, the ‘Virginia,’ and set sail for England. And this was the end of that northern colony upon the River Sachadehoc. 38

Iv.—Captain Gilbert's adventure with the Indians.

[Captain Gilbert, the companion of Captain Popham, went up the River Kennebec, or Sachadehoc, in a shallop with nineteen men, and had this adventure with Indians.]

In the morning there came a canoe unto them, and in her a sagamo39 and four savages,—some of those which spoke to them the night before. The sagamo called his name Lebenoa, and told us how he was lord of the River Sachadehoc. They entertained him friendly, and took him into their boat, and presented him with [226] some trifling things, which he accepted. Howbeit, he desired some one of our men to be put in his canoe as a pawn of his safety, whereupon Captain Gilbert sent in a man of his, when presently the canoe rowed away from them, with all the speed they could make, up the river. They followed with the shallop, having great care that the sagamo should not leap overboard. The canoe quickly rowed from them, and landed; and the men made to their houses, being near a league on the land from the river's side, and carried our man with them. The shallop, making good way, at length came to another downfall,40 which was so shallow and so swift that by no means they could pass any farther, for which Captain Gilbert, with nine others, landed, and took their fare,41 the savage sagamo, with them, and went in search after those other savages, whose houses, the sagamo told Captain Gilbert, were not far off. And, after a good tedious march, they came indeed at length unto those savages' houses, where [they] found near fifty able men, very strong and tall, such as their like before they had not seen, all newly painted, and armed with their bows and arrows. Howbeit, after that the sagamo had talked with them, they delivered back again the man, and used all the rest very friendly, as did ours the like by them, who showed them their commodities of beads, knives, and some copper, of which they seemed very fond, and, by way of trade, made show that they would come down to the boat, and there bring such things as they had, to exchange them for ours. So Captain Gilbert departed from them; and, within half an hour after he had gotten to his boat, there came three canoes down [227] unto them, and in them some sixteen savages, and brought with them some tobacco, and certain small skins, which were of no value; which Captain Gilbert perceiving, and that they had nothing else wherewith to trade, he caused all his men to come aboard. And, as he would have put from the shore, the savages perceiving so much, subtly devised how they might put out the fire in the shallop, by which means they saw they should be free from the danger of our men's pieces;42 and, to perform the same, one of the savages came into the shallop, and taking the firebrand which one of our company held in his hand thereby to light the matches, as if he would light a pipe of tobacco, as soon as he had gotten it into his hand he presently threw it into the water, and leaped out of the shallop. Captain Gilbert, seeing that, suddenly commanded his men to betake them to their muskets, and the targetiers too, from the head of the boat; and had one of the men before, with his target on his arm, to step on the shore for more fire. The savages resisted him, and would not suffer him to take any, and some others holding fast the boat-rope, that the shallop could not put off. Captain Gilbert caused the musketeers to present their pieces, the which the savages seeing, presently let go the boat-rope, and betook them to their bows and arrows, and ran into the bushes, nocking43 their arrows, but did not shoot, neither did ours at them. So the shallop departed from them to the farther side of the river, where one of the canoes came unto them, and would have excused the fault of the others. Captain [228] Gilbert made show as if he were still friends, and entertained them kindly, and so left them, returning to the place where he had lodged the night before, and there came to an anchor for that night.

1 The Massachusetts coast was still described as a part of Virginia.

2 Hummocks, or small hills.

3 Probably a boat obtained from some Basque vessel. The Basques, or Biscayans, were among the first to engage in the New England fisheries.

4 A port in the Bay of Biscay.

5 Cape Cod.

6 Crowded.

7 Whereas.

8 No Man's Land.

9 Herons.

10 Enumerated

11 Behavior.

12 A belt with cartridge-boxes.

13 Mainland.

14 Slept.

15 Then much valued as a medicine.

16 Profitable.

17 That.

18 Now called by its Indian name of Cuttyhunk.

19 Of armor.

20 i.e., in the afternoon.

21 Fed.

22 Brandy.

23 Prayers


25 Smoked. This word was formerly much used in describing the use of tobacco.

26 Trade.

27 A kind of boat similar to what is now called a gig.

28 Food.

29 That.

30 Probably the Penobscot.

31 Agreed.

32 Orinoco.

33 This place was at one time supposed to have been what is now called Parker's Island; but is now thought to have been Cape Small Point on the main land, near the site of the present Fort Popham.

34 Higher chief.

35 Gentleman.

36 Vessel.

37 Return.

38 This was the first colony that spent a winter in New England,—thirteen years before the Plymouth Colony arrived. The winter was an unusually severe one; and, moreover, the chief promoters of the colony, Sir John Popham and Captain Popham, died. But for this, it is possible that the colony might have remained; and, in that case, Maine would have been settled only a year later than Virginia.

39 Chief.

40 Rapids.

41 Passenger.

42 The guns were matchlocks, for which fire was necessary.

43 Notching, putting the notch against the string.

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